“Ah, Nishra. The Land of Holy Peace and Divine Serenity. Not a bad place to be, if you can stand a sermon or twelve. Wealth, prosperity, growth, diversity. They’ve done well for themselves during the veiled peace with Licadeis. They’ve opened up sea trade with almost every nation in a thousand leagues, and the alliance with Avalas, their upstart prodigal child, has proved more fruitful than any of the talking heads would have guessed.
Nishra, despite all the jealous chatter to the contrary, is truly the shining gem of the region.
Let us hope Licadeis has lost its interest in plucking free that gem.”
- Zorian Attreo, well-known traveler, adventurer, and author.
Nishra is the lynchpin of the Freelund region – most of the surrounding nations look to it for moral guidance and leadership. Since its first founders made their pilgrimage across the ocean, many of whom came with only their faith in Roon and the clothes on their backs, Nishra has flourished and exploded with success. A combination of their mystical strength, the incredibly fertile land, and the spread of their faith has made them a juggernaut.
Their faith has spread beyond their borders – the worship of Roon and his Archons is also practiced heavily in Rastienne, Myscira, and less extensively in Avalas. Even the elves and dwarves of Fesrven have had converts to their relatively newborn religion. Only in a few countries, namely Licadeis and Kaiule, is the worship of Roon a punishable crime.
Nishra is a Theocracy, one that in the past forty years has also become something of a military state as well. The government is lead by the Divine Speaker, who interprets the Codex of Roon to make the decisions of state. From there, a council of high-ranking clergy called the Chorus act as the legislative body. The Cardinals head the dual function of military and judicial.
Nishra in the past forty years has taken a turn never intended by the original pilgrims. What was once primarily a faith-driven state has become a war machine. Nishra and Licadeis have always been poor neighbors – since the first pilgrims, Licadeis has resented the Nishrans, a foreign power, for swooping in and stealing such an enormous tract of land that Licadians had long eyed for expansion. Still, without a formal claim or property anywhere in the Nishran frontier, the Licadians were forced to accept their new neighbors without open war.
They have found a hundred reasons to quarrel in a hundred years – land rights disputes, trade negotiations and blockades, and a border bristling on both sides with entrenched troops. Nameless skirmishes without apparent fault have always occurred, with little loss of life and even less inciting incidents.
The Second War
Forty years ago, things changed. A group of refugees appeared on the northern border of Nishra, fleeing for their lives from Licadian soldiers. The Nishran border guards, watching flights of arrows killing seemingly defenseless women and children, stepped in and rescued the refugees, killing fifty Licadian soldiers thirty yards inside of the Licadian border.
The incident exploded. Licadeis claimed the refugees were criminals, a group of anti-government radicals responsible for murder, theft, and sedition. Nishra claimed to have found no such evidence, and said that the refugees’ only crime was the worship of Roon under a Licadian flag.
Licadeis demanded the extradition of the refugees to face trial. Nishra refused, and after a week, the Licadians launched an assault on the border fortress still detaining the refugees. The Licadians overwhelming numbers crushed the defenders, and every Nishran soldier in Fort Ranair was slaughtered. The Licadian’s took the refugees back and executed them after what they claimed was “a fair trial.”
Nishra’s outrage was palpable. Licadeis had overstepped its bounds, and the two greatest nations in the region went to war. The conflict lasted ten years, killed twenty thousand young people on each side, and caused utter devastation on both sides of the border. At the end of it, Nishra had pushed Licadeis troops beyond the mountains and claimed them as Nishran territory. The Licadians didn’t have the resources to take them back, and the Nishran’s didn’t have the resources or the manpower to push their campaign any further, and so they settled into trenches. Four more years passed without another major engagement, and the great nations settled into a tentative cease-fire. They glared at each other across the mountains, but staid their blades.
The Cold War and the Bloodless Revolution
The two nations never reengaged formal communications. No diplomats, no visitations of noble sons, no trade routes, nothing. They dealt with the neighboring nations only, for none of them had taken a side against the two behemoths, fearing the wrath of the potential winner.
With Nishra weakened from the war, and most of its troops stationed on the Licadeis/Nishra border, they could do nothing about conflict from within. The provinces of Avas and Arolas, two of the more independent Nishran states, seceded from the nation, claiming a list of grievances as long as the Speaker’s leg. Most of them were trumps – it began and ended on individuality. Avas and Arolas were well known for their isolation, independence, and most of all, their lapsed faith. Many in Avas and Arolas believed in the tenets of Roon and his Archons, but their temples were empty, their prayers quiet, if at all.
With the First War ended, and the Nishrans unable to fight a two-front battle, they seceded without a fight. Avas and Arolas became a new nation – Avalas. The first surprise came quickly – they proposed a binding alliance with Nishra within a week of their secession, which included military aid and trade agreements. The Nishrans accepted with surprise. The Alliance has proved lucrative for both nations ever since.
The post-war years were spent building in the newly-gained mountains, rebuilding in the ravaged northlands, and spreading Nishra’s economic wings. All three were successful – the gold and iron mines in the mountains, the rebuilt and refortified borderlands, and the vast sea trade centered in Port Sancrist.
The Third War Begins
Rumors of Lycadian forces amassing on the northern border force the Speaker to send the Cardinals and their armies to the mountain pass. Without warning, a combined fleet of ships from Rastienne and Lycadeis swept into the western bay of Nishra and decimated the Nishran Navy. After pushing through and landing troops uncountable on the Nishran shore, the combined Rastese and Lycadian force swept through the relatively undefended countryside and made a push for the Nishran capital: Arda Namara.
Notable Cities and Locations
Arda Namara, the Capital – The center of the faith, Arda Namara hosts the largest temple in the region and is the seat of Nishran power. The Ardadyne, the great temple to Roon and the Hebdomad, a white-marble and gold stepped pyramid, is the throne of the Divine and Holy Speaker himself. The Chorus makes their decisions in the Ardadyne, and temple has the capacity for every man, woman, and child of Arda Namara to worship at once. It is a testament to architecture, faith, and human (and demi-human) ingenuity. The city proper surrounds the temple, but there is not a spot in the city one can go that blocks the Ardadyne from view.
Port Sancrist – What used to be the second largest city in the Kingdom has exploded in the past ten years to become the economic center of not only Nishra, but possibly the entire region. A hundred thousand or more have flocked to Sancrist, and very few have been unable to find work. The city groans under the weight of the bloated populace, but new houses and shops are put up daily, employing even more. If Arda Namara is where a Nishran goes to feel the power of his god, Port Sancrist is where a Nishran goes to see the power of man.
Pax Exaltea – The most impenetrable castle in the kingdom, Pax Exaltea was constructed and named in honor of Sealtiel’s own fortress in the celestial realm of Jovar. A massive construction built after the first war, Pax Exaltea is the final word on the possibility of an alliance between Licadeis and Nishra. Nearly clogging the mountain pass entirely, the Licadians could do nothing but watch in horror as the Pax was built right across the border. A massive fortress of stone and steel, strengthened by the magic of the most powerful clerics and wizards in the realm, Pax Exaltea is truly a credit to the celestial castle it is named after. A fifty-foot statue of Sealtiel, wielding his flaming greatclub, stands before the gates and makes very clear the message of its construction. Cardinal Balthier, the second highest ranking Cardinal, defends and commands the Pax.
Story So Far . . .
The Third War has only just begun, and the Nishran forces are pressed heavily. Much of the western coast of the nation has been taken completely by the combined Licadian/Rastese forces, who have established a nearly unassailable beach head. The Licadian/Rastese Navies have also managed to cut the Nishran Navy off completely, blockading them in Mysciran waters.
Most damning, the capitol city of Arda Namara was destroyed by a blast of energy caused by Amon, the Bastard Son of Roon. The blast came from Zaphkiel, the Watcher, when Amon slew him at the top of the Ziggurat. Nishran casualties were huge, but Licadian/Rastese casualties were greater, having lost an entire legion of troops in the explosion. The Divine Speaker, and Cardinal Donnegal, were only able to escape through the daring actions of the 701st Squad.
The Nishran’s powers of divination had been cut off until recently, when the veil was parted by the 701st squad. The lines of communication and intelligence are open again, putting the Licadians and the Nishrans on much more even ground.
A much more powerful spell is still in effect over the Nishran Cardinals, however, who are under constant surveillance by an unknown magical source. As a result, many of the Cardinals have been forced to either give up active command or to work in secret and code to mislead their foreign enemy observers.
A massive assassination attempt across the entire nation would have seen all of the Cardinals killed if not for their incredible prowess. Cardinals Rosaline and Simora were murdered, but through the divine efforts of Roon and the Chorus, their bodies were recovered and resurrected in time.
Efforts to gather allies have been difficult, as most magical messages have been blocked and most practical messengers slain. Avalas is attempting to send troops to aid Nishra, but a nationwide political flair up has caused rioting and looting on a wide scale that the Avalais are having trouble repressing.
Fesrven, long pressed by the foul creatures of the Black Lands, has been under hard attack from the beasts that dwell there. The Elves and the Dwarves there have been working with Cardinal Demelza to secure the Nishran/Fesrven border with the Black Lands, so that they can safely send troops to the aid of Nishra.