A great sea divides the world of Landen in two. The western section is the Kingdom of Satera, while the namesake Kingdom of Landen holds the east and the islands in the sea. Thanks to their Orakian heritage, the two kingdoms share similar customs, traditions and laws. A realm of lakes, mountains, and forests, it is wealthy in raw materials and agriculture.

Society in both lands is divided into three sections: at the top reigns the king, the source of power and the impetus of government. Next are the nobles who govern fiefs in the name of their king. At the bottom are the merchants, artisans, and farmers that compose the majority of the populace.

The power of the king is the ultimate authority over the realm, but can vary from one king to the next. The direct tools of rule are exemplified in appointed positions such as the chancellor, the treasurer, and other retainers that are understood to act in the place of their master, but governance is not limited to the monarch. The Kings of Landen and Satera were traditionally expected to consult with their powerful subjects on matters of general policy and obtain some degree of consent to the royal will. Failure to do so carried the inherent risk of alienating important men and losing their loyalty, an already tenuous quality.

However, even at the weakest ebb of their power a century ago, the family of the Kings of Landen has always been secure in their tenure of the throne. Even when the institution of the Crown was little more than a joke, the only ones who could conceivably wear it were the members of House Sa Riik, descended from Orakio himself.

In the generation before the Champions' War, House Sa Riik and the Crown were enjoying a resurgence in their authority. The battlefield efforts of King Saiki III had brought the worst excesses of the nobility under control, while the ascension of King Rhys III brought with it the rediscovery of the existence of other worlds as well as of Layan kingdoms. In the first documented success of its kind, while only heir to his father's throne, King Rhys nearly single-handedly brought an end to the wars between the Orakian land of Agoe and the Layan domains of Cille and Shusoran in the world of Aquatica.

Armed with the sobriquet of the strongest Orakian warrior and marriage to the heiress of Satera, the future Queen Lena, King Rhys' ascension to the Landenian throne allowed him to force his subjects to accept the peace agreements and treaties he had gained with Agoe, Cille, and Shusoran. Trade, conducted by caravan thrice a year and a large fair in Aquatica every seven years, flourished between the two worlds. As access to Aquatica was controlled by the Sapphire held by House Sa Riik, the Crown grew substantially wealthier.

This wealth was neither hoarded nor wasted; raised by his warlord father, King Rhys perceived that the existence of other worlds meant hostile belligerents far stronger than Landen could invade at any time. Presented with that logic, Landen's nobles grudgingly assented to the expansion of forces under direct royal control. Resources were dedicated toward the rediscovery, reactivation, and replication of the most advanced of Orakio's ancient war machines, an effort led by the Chief Engineer Jos Arl, an Agoen who had left his homeland to serve the Kings of Landen.

These efforts were accelerated when the first caravan in the fifteenth year of King Rhys' reign discovered the annihilation of Cille and Shusoran in the calamity known as the Dragon's Loss. Wary that such a powerful enemy might turn his eyes on Landen, King Rhys sealed his kingdom from Aquatica. Judging the ancient defenses around the sea designed to protect Landen from invasion by Satera obsolete, King Rhys removed those forces to other places most likely to be the route of invasion, concentrating the bulk of his strength around the closed Landen-Aquatica passage. This pre-emptive move was not mimicked by his counterpart, King Askle VII, father of Queen Lena. That decision was to have far-reaching consequences in the near-future.

Excerpt from The Champions' War

Kara Kay Eshyr

Princess of Dahlia