Raej is a territory with a beautiful and diverse geography and climate. Mountains border Hayll to the east and Shalador to the north-west, towering high above the valley of land below. These beautiful regions are the only parts that house a true winter, with snow and ice capping the jagged peaks of these awe inspiring beauties. The life on these mountains varies by the elevation, ranging from the beautiful coniferous forests in the lower to mid-altitudes to the sparse, strong greenery that can withstand the harsh cold of the towering peaks.
In the north-west, the Kanfare Falls feed into the river of the same name, which flows into the land, with several smaller rivers breaking off in all directions. The wealth of water and tropical climate here lead into lush Buhnpal forest. This tropical forest is often considered a jungle, and is home to a wide variety of fascinating wildlife. The forest spans the base of the mountain range about six miles deep, and ends with about three miles at either end toward the borders of Pruul and Dena Nehele. The off-shoots of the river all seem to end within the borders of the forest, but the Kanfare itself emerges near the southernmost corner of the trees and follows the border between Pruul and Raej and then down the desert territory to the coast.
Past the forest, the green starts to thin out as the water sources start to dissipate, giving way to vast and beautiful Sohnae Desert. This land can be harsh and unyielding, but those that have made homes among the few oases know a place of beauty unlike any in the world. Endless dunes of sand are excellent for camel races and unique cultural experiences. The only time this desert ever sees rain is during the monsoon season in late summer and fall. Even then, the rain here only comes down for the brief torrential flash flood or two before going back to the lush farmlands and rain forest.
The south eastern desert gives way to great red rock formations, along which the Talaje river flows. This great and mighty river finds it's source in the ocean in the southwestern region of Hayll, and flows up through the western part of that territory, entering Raej in Malupsung Valley from where it flows west and then northwest along the desert wall. The river empties into Dhelmapur Lake, for which the Territory's capital is named. The capital itself is a great city, but it is surrounded by the beginnings of vast and fruitful farmland. This farm land and the meadow in which it lies stretches north and south to the borders of Dena Nehele and Pruul, supported by the river and the many smaller bodies of water that stem from it. Irrigation was mastered in Raej years ago, and these lands, with the help of the annual monsoon, are fertile and rich.
The beautiful, green lands make up most of the rest of Raej, going toward the eastern mountains bordering Hayll. There are a few small farming towns at the foot of these towering beauties, but most of the land here is open meadow with oak trees.
Without a doubt, the territory of Raej is as diverse and magnificent in it's landscape as it is in its population. The winters are mild and relatively warm, except in and around the mountains, where it can be brutally cold in the deep of December and January. Spring brings life and warmth to the land, preparing all for the hot, humid summer season. The only exception to the humidity is in the great desert, where one might well long for the sticky heat of the meadows and forests which are bound to seem thousands of miles out of reach. Finally, the monsoon season swings in bringing the great rains, and eventually cooling the heat of Raej in preparation for winter. A great and beautiful land, Raej is a place where its people believe everyone would love to be.
Raej is a place that could best be described as colorful. Traditionally, the people have been known for their spicy food which utilizes all the best that the earth has to offer, their bright clothing, and the energetic and unique music. These things are still major parts of Raejian society, but the years have seen this land become a true melting pot. Over the centuries, the slave trade has brought people of all races from this Realm and others to Raej. Even those enslaved were loathe to leave their traditions behind, and the result has only added to the colorful beauty of Raej.
Each part of Raej is very different from the next, and the traditions of every part of the land seem to vary a bit. To the east of Dhelmapur, Raej is largely farmland, and most of the people there make their living from the land. Cotton, Jute, Sugar, Rice, and Livestock make up most of the farms, and are a vital part of Raej's economy. There is a great mix of the classes here, and even the aristocrats in most of the farming societies seem to have a deep appreciation for Blood Laws and are very welcoming to guests. Without a doubt, the eastern farm lands are the friendliest part of Raej.
Dhelmapur is by far the largest city in Raej, and clearly the most prosperous because of it's location and the people who have gathered there. The divide between the classes is much clearer here, although there is a large, happy middle class present. The wealthy, mostly those chief members of the slave trade and the aristocrats around the Territory Court tend to flaunt their riches in their clothes and property, often including their human property. The extremes of this seem to vary with the reigning Territory Queen, but for the last several hundred years that arrogant attitude has been tolerated and encouraged.
On the northern outskirts of the city, the poor have gathered and built Dhelmapur's infamous slums. Those that live here live in absolutely abysmal conditions, in shacks and makeshift shelters. The amenities that reach most of the rest of the country seem to go missing except in a select few buildings here, and Red Moon houses of questionable reputation are common. Some rulers have tried to clean up the slums, to bring money and prosperity to the people here. There has been uplift, but the positive swing usually tends to end after a while, and things return to their normal, somewhat depressing state. For all that, there is a certain happiness in parts of the slums, that comes from living a penniless life. One thing is for certain - when traveling here one should keep a close eye on their pockets.
The desert people to the west of the capital are very reflective of the harsh land in which they live. This is a society of warriors, and much of the Queen's guard has been known to come from this part of the Territory. Hardened by life away from the larger population and the rich lands made fertile by the rains and soil, the Bedouin (Desert People) are known for their strength and cunning. These people are no strangers to the atrocities of traveling merchants who think they can get away with things far from the reaches of the big cities. These people seem ancient in their traditions, and are known for being storytellers. Another thing the desert people are famous for are their rituals and parties, filled with unique, drum-filled music and usually surrounding great fires the likes of which you've never seen.
The people of Western Raej have been hardened in the recent years by the attacks of raiders from neighboring Shalador. Once a place where the people lived in mostly small villages within the forest, with a few large cities along the outer rim of the vast canopy, their world has started to change. The western parts of Buhnpal have been cut and altered to house military posts, and many of the sons of this are now find themselves going into service for their Territory. Still, there are those that cling to the ways of the past, and remain connected to the beautiful land they call home. They are welcoming to those who come to help their cause, but wary of strangers who are too private about their purpose.
The one thing that seems to tie all of Raej together is slavery. It is very much a part of the land here, a vital organ in the workings of this small, inland Territory. In the beginning, slaves were acquired in wars with other lands, and when Raej returned in success, they came bearing the defeated people, many of whom would serve. Now, the slave trade is truly a business. People are bought and sold from lands where they are unwanted; some were criminals, others refused to leave their homes for new developments, and some were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They all wind up in the hands of the slave traders, who make their riches from selling them to Aristocrats, Provinces, Districts, and wealthy land owners in Raej and from far and wide.
Slaves themselves seem to play many roles in Raej, while they are in service and even after (if) they are freed. In the cities and in the farmlands, slaves are a vital part of the economy, helping to harvest crops and build the great halls envisioned by their Queens and aristocrats. They are the driving force behind most things that need to be done, and often run the kitchens and laundry rooms and other domestic needs of their owners. Many of the people who live in the slums are freed slaves to whom life has been unkind. Some are those who have been broken and become useless, and have thereby been set free into the world with little hope. Others still were let go with little money to their name, and haven't been able to struggle their way out of extreme poverty.
The desert seems to be very differently affected by slavery than any other part of the land. The old slaving families hail from here, and live now in great houses built by the riches of their trade. From here the now run caravans to the markets and to the lands in which they find their bounty. These families are feared and respected by most, and don't take well to being told how to run their business. The nomadic Bedouin people of the vast desert lands are another story. Many of these people are those who have escaped from the caravans and managed to survive. Others are freed slaves who have found solace in the open land and the open night air. There are a few bands known to keep their own slaves, who do most of the grunt work around campsites and temporary villages.
In the west, most slaves are found in the cities surrounding the forest and in the homes of aristocrats. With the recent influx of defensive forces around the borders, more slaves have shown up. They are sent to help with building structures and keeping the Guard fed, housed, and taken care of.
The treatment of slaves varies from place to place, but traditionally was despicable. Slaves were commonly thought of as less than human, as being made to serve and follow orders without question. Under the influence of corrupt queens, this poor treatment was tolerated and even encouraged on some level. Under the influence of good Queens who hold true to the Blood Laws, though, some Districts and Provinces have started to enforce laws about the treatment of slaves. More commonly it is now found that slaves are given proper housing, decent clothing and sufficient rest. They are fed well and not worked as hard as they might have been traditionally. The new ways and the old find conflict, and there is a lot of controversy stirring in Raej over this vital and ancient practice of their society.
|The Territory Capital: Dhelmapur|
| Dhelmapur's roots are in edge of the lake of the same name, at the north eastern edge of which the city begins. Now housing some four hundred thousand residents, it has grown to it's grandeur from what seemed to be the most insignificant of roots. The water was a draw even to the earliest of settlers, who planted crops and farmed the tilled the land to harvest many crops of seemingly endless variety. Early on they learned that the lake would flood in the monsoon season, and great walls and irrigation systems have been built to protect the land from the destruction of the same water that gave it life to begin with. The western gate to the city to the city sits on water's edge, housing docks for fishing boats and traders coming into the lake from the great southern river.
The land closest to the water is mostly farmland, and by the same standard many of the storage yards and trading posts can be found there. This provides easy access to farmers along the lake, as well as traders from Eastern Raej and Hayll whom have taken the water route to the city. A great festival square lays just east of these lands, separating them from the beautiful and ancient Castle Mondai. The branches of the river reach far into the southeastern portions of the city, providing more sources of irrigation for fertile and bountiful farmland. North of here, one can find the core of the residential parts of Dhelmapur, interspersed with any number of taverns, smaller markets and bazaars, and inns for travelers.
It is nearer the eastern gate of the the city that the great Slave Market can be found. This location is central to most of Raej, and easily accessible to those from other Territories seeking this profitable market. This place is the source of much of Raej's very diverse population, between those who have become involved in the trade from other lands and the slaves that have come with them, many of which have found freedom later in their own lives or down the lines of generations of their family. It can be both a fascinating and terrifying place to visit, and is most often not a good place to bring children.
Dhelmapur is a beautiful and prosperous city where you will hear languages from the ends of the earth, and may see beings and creatures thought not to truly exist. This colorful place seems to set the right expectation and backdrop for the rest of the country, and is the pride and crown jewel of Raej.
The details of Raej's ancient beginnings are long forgotten with the people of those times. What is known is that the small, inland Territory formed after it's larger, surrounding neighbors from the efforts of the Bedouin combined with those that had been cast out of their homelands. From those early years, Raej has always been a veritable melting pot of the races of Terreille and (although now they are not so well known) even those of Kaleer.
A land of warriors, Raej fought to keep and expand it's borders, and found great success in the wars. They were the first to enslave captured soldiers and people from the lands they conquered. The slaves were brought to the capital in Dhelmapur, and the emerging Province and District rulers sought their own slaves. Soon, a few well respected families from the desert found themselves making a business of the trade, and established a market in the Capital. This business thrived, and the news of what slavery was doing for Raej spread far and wide, and soon many foreigners were making their way to Dhelmapur to purchase their own slaves.
As the age of war faded away, Raej found peaceful times, and the economy flourished with their many crops and wood from the forests and of course their new slave trade. The families established their own militias who were sent to distant lands as bounty hunters of sort, and those they captured were brought back to Raej to be sold as slaves. Aside from their legitimate business, these bounty hunters would go into lesser villages that no one seemed to notice when the vanished into the Darkness, gathering all the inhabitants, and slaying those that gave them trouble. This raised a questionable reputation around these militias, and some Territories grew wary of their services. Still, there were plenty of rulers who were happy to hire them, not caring what happened in those small, worthless villages.
After the rule of the long-lived Queen Prashka Morjian ended, a series of lighter Jeweled, short-lived Queens came to power in Raej. These Queens were known for their lust for a lavish life, and while Raej maintained itself moderately well, it's age of prosperity began to fail.
In the desert, a Sapphire Jeweled Queen named Hajrian had risen to power. Brought to Raej as a slave, the Eyrien spent centuries cozying up to the Province rulers that owned her, until at last she was brought into the court, and quickly made Province Ruler or Phasala. Now the given head of the old slaving families, Hajrian brought the militias back to Raej. She wanted to strike fear into other Province rulers, to gain loyalty from anyone she could in Raej, and her means were most commonly fear. Her militias went to the poor, rural villages of Raej, plundering the land's resources and people. When someone tried to stand up to her, she would make them promises of wealth (which she was well within her means to offer) that none of them would deny. She spent a great deal of time in the Capital at Dhelmapur, sinking her influence into the new queen there. Her followers made their way into the Territory court, and her pawns were set.
For some three hundred years, Hajrian has quietly ruled from Phasala, the puppet master controlling the motions. Some parts of Raej have managed to escape her claws, Provinces where her ways would be too noticed, Districts where her wealth is not needed or cared about. In these places, laws have commonly begun to come about, laws protecting their slaves and ensuring proper treatment. The Province of Shouklar has remained especially prosperous, with close ties to the bordering towns in Hayll and Dena Nehele. This, too, is where a large group of the Black Widow Coven call home, and they have shown their rulers what will come of Hajrian's rule. For three hundred years they have held out from her influence, and with a new Territory ruler from their own Province, things may yet return to their rightful path.
In recent centuries, Raej has been subject to a line of lighter jeweled Queens who have been privy to flaunting their wealth, supporting the wealthy, and allowing the destitute to wallow in their situations. These Queens, who severely neglected the blood law, let the land begin to fail, and left their people to fend for themselves while they enjoyed lavish, careless lives. The real power during their reigns laid in the hands of Hajrian, the Sapphire Jeweled Eyrien Queen who leads the Slaving Families and rules the desert Province of Phasala.
Hajrian wore a dark enough Jewel that for centuries, the Territory Rulers were happy to follow her wishes, as long as they were kept to their lavish tastes and standards. Supported by carefully chosen Dark-Jeweled males, she has ruled from her spot in the desert, unknown and unseen by the people, using the Territory Rulers as her puppets. Those that ran her business plundered their own land, going into the slums and into the Provinces and Districts far from the reach of the Capital, ransacking small villages for their trade. The Queens were silenced with either same promises that held the Territory or by death or breaking.
There was no contest to her silent control of the Territory until Arminè Savalt, the Red Jeweled Black Widow Queen came to power. The daughter of the previous Territory Queen, she had grown up watching her mother and the woman's court give into the corruption, and sacrifice their own land and people for their foolish desires. Arminè was stronger than Hajrian, and able to stand up against her at least to some extent. For the 75 years she ruled after her mother's premature death, she made a sincere effort to heal the land and put Hajrian in her place. It was the Dark Jeweled males supporting her that prevented Arminè from disposing of the desert Queen all together or exposing her long-kept secret rule.
The land has begun to return to it's former glory, the small villages have protection, and there are finally troops at the border of Shalador to protect the Territory from foreign raiders. What they don't yet know is that these raiders are under the command Hajrian and the Master of her Guard, Gideon. The continue to cause troubles, but the Territory guard present have begun to quell some of the troubles. Having born no children of her own in favor of working to bring the Territory to it's former glory, the Black Widow Queen had vowed to appoint her successor, and the Webs told her that the name would come through them. On her own death bed, Arminè saw the girl and the name, Ranee Jakhul, a Gray Jeweled Priestess Queen from the eastern farmlands.
The new Priestess Queen has only been in power for a matter of months, and already she is showing great potential. Hajrian has a number of people in place in the existing Court, but Ranee has been slowly cycling the old out and replacing them, bringing in powerful Blood who seem intent on supporting her goals. This new Priestess Queen was born a slave in an unharmed District, where there were laws in place to protect her kind. It is her intent to enforce these laws across the land, which would effectively destroy the way the Slave Trade has been run for thousands of years. Hajrian and her followers are dead set on making sure that her reforms fail, and keeping things the way they have always been.
There are plots brewing amongst the Old Slaving Families and their supporters, and those that are not so fond of having a woman born a Slave as their Territory Ruler. There are whispers of a quiet usurping of power, and a search is in place for a corruptible Queen who will follow Hajrian's wishes in order to better her own situation, much like the Queens of the past. Hajrian will do anything to keep her grips on the rule of Raej, and to ensure that her practices are able to continue unchanged.
The new Priestess Queen, however young, is no fool though. There are those remaining in the Territory Court who have seen the tragic effects of Hajrian's influence for too long and grow weary of the damage to the land and the people. They support Ranee's reform, and have plans to meet with the Queen when she is ready to inform her of the treacherous things that have gone on for centuries with no argument from those that are supposed to protect their Territory. They have hope that this young, Gray Jeweled Priestess Queen may have the strength and the connection to the Darkness to finally bring Hajrian to justice.
Although she is yet unaware of the plots against her, Ranee Jakhul has every intention of doing whatever it takes to be the best ruler she can. Her plans for Raej are rooted in her own upbringing, and in knowing that all people should be treated equally, Landen or Blood, Slave or Owner, Queen or 'lowly' Hearth Witch. She supports slavery, and intends to continue the practice, knowing that it is a vital part of her Territory's economy on more levels than she could ever have imagined before this point. This alone is a struggle with the bordering countries of Dena Nehele and Pruul recently outlawing the practice. But Ranee will not give up on her beloved Territory, for she knows that great power lies in Raej, and that it has great potential to shine as it did centuries ago. Only time will tell if she is strong enough to hold the forces that would have her thrown to the Jackals at bay, and to restore the glory of Raej that has been long forgotten by it's short lived people.
|The Territory Court|
Ranee Jakhul, Ruler of Raej