Regent: Sauriel, Immortal Emperor of the Arcane East.
Vicar: Annalise Bronte.
Umbra, the Red City, is the religious capital of the Arcane East under the current rule of the Orisian Empire. It is also the birthplace and religious mecca of the Sitraic Faith (also known as the Imperial Faith), located deep in a valley at the foot of the Cold Mountains, south of the Great Barrier.
Umbra currently has a population of approximately 5,450,000.
The City of Umbra sits at the mouth of the largest valley found along the length of the Cold Mountains, surrounded by steep mountainous flanks and large bodies of fresh water. Large plots of farmland hedge the roads leading to and from the city, north and south; though, they grow smaller and more neighborly -- to the point of being modest-sized towns or villages -- the closer one is to the Red City.
The vast majority of the city’s fresh water comes from the Umbral Valley, located behind the Red City, home to two of the four nearby lakes. A network of natural tributaries from the Cold Mountains feed into these lakes, while an intricate, man-made irrigation system guides the fresh water into the Red City and its surrounding dependents.
The Bloodmage Mountains, colloquially known as the Great Barrier, the Abyssal Enclave, and the Enleva Barony are all established north of the Red City, well within questing distance but comfortably out of sight.
To the west and south, the great plains of the Arcane East, colloquially referred to as the Jade Sea, stretches on deep into the horizon, defining and shaping a vast portion of the Empire’s domain. This vibrant sheet of emerald is broken only by the occasional upturned stone or outcropping, the explosion of a dense thicket, or the lazy smokestack of a faraway village or tribal settlement.
The City of Umbra—home of Lana'thel, the palatial temple—is a swell of curves and high walls and enormous, tapered spires. Most of the buildings are built from white stone, though various colors have become common with the importation of taqat to reinforce the structures’ stability.
Like the mountain chain at its side, the City of Umbra is built upward, with many of the structures being packed close together. This often gives the illusion of them being somewhat squat, despite most buildings being three stories tall. Many homes and businesses are built onto the imposing walls of the city separating its three great districts, draped like fine jewelry. These home and shops are connected to the rest of the city through various portals and gateways.
Lana’thel palace, the First Temple and largest structure in all the Red City, is located at the peak of this mountainous city. Birthplace of the Imperial Faith, it is the holiest and most sacred of locations, and likewise the only temple to Sauriel’s name in all of Umbra. Lana’thel dominates the entirety of the uppermost district, with all other structures of the area either built into it or under its imposing arches.
In spite of its archaic appearance, beautiful though it may be, the Red City is the result of progressive civil engineering. That the majority homes support features such as central heat, insulation, and indoor plumbing is credited to the work of the city’s people rather than magi-tech or magic. However, this is not to say that the latter has not accentuated the residents’ manner of living, assisting in things such as transportation, communication, and entertainment.
Situated between the rolling plains of the Eastern Lands and a valley at the foot of the Cold Mountains, Umbra has been known to experience a variety of climates. These range from the bitter and extreme -- namely during the winter, when terrible winds and magestorms from the Cold Mountains roll down the slopes and over the city -- to the comfortable and pleasant.
More recently, the weather -- even in the heart of winter -- has been decidedly pleasant. Many credit this to the Blood God’s presence, blessing the seat of his power. However, this “blessing” does not shield them in full from their surroundings. In the winter, it snows; in the spring, it rains; in the summer it swelters, and in the fall, it withers and cools.
Flora and Fauna
As a city of Genesaris, common flora and fauna can be found in abundance around the city and its territories. These listed below are merely a few that are exclusive to the Red City and its immediate demesne.
Celeste (Flower): A small, star-shaped yellow flower that grows in great abundance both in and out of the Red City. They are best known for their silky petals, which dance and sway even when there is no breeze to guide them.
Emberstone Roses (Flower): These strange, unique flowers can be found growing along the city’s outermost wall. Their name is derived from their-stone like petals, which appear to ignite like smoldering embers while in bloom. Surprisingly, these flames and embers do not produce heat, and are cool to the touch.
Storm Sprites (Elemental): Otherwise known as “storm spirits,” these small, floating elementals have the appearance of a thundering storm cloud. These harmless sprites tend to gather in valleys along the Cold Mountains’ flanks, subject to frequent rains, feeding off the latent energies. Storm sprites are rather social creatures, drawn to the bioelectric framework of living creatures, and have been known to follow large groups traveling to and from the Red City.
Umbral Bass (Fish): Colloquially known as the “colossal bass,” these enormous fish inhabit the posterior lakes of the Red City, and frequent the frigid rivers coursing up and down the Cold Mountains. Known for their larger than life size, the umbral bass is known to reach weights over one hundred pounds (when fully matured). After several cases of accidental deaths, wherein men and women have been pulled into the water by the fish, and then dragged to the depths as they tangled in their line, individuals have taken to a buddy-system when fishing for these particular behemoths.
Ahamkara (Animal): These pale, heavily-scaled, leech-like worms are bred and cultivated exclusively within the Red City. Used in the Ritual of Purification, it is said that they drain the “bad blood” from their Sanguinist host, in preparation for the three week period where the believer absolves -- in the name of Sauriel -- themselves through prayer, penance, the repentance of sins, atonement, and self-denial. When the ritual is complete, they are detached from the host and crushed in the palm; the mingled blood forms a “mark” when placed upon living flesh, which does not dissipate for thirty days.
The City of Umbra is a haven for beings who seek unity, spiritual evolution and enlightenment. This evolution, or enlightenment, generally takes shape in conforming to the Sitraic Faith (the only religion legally practiced within the borders of the Red City). While populated predominantly by humans and vampires, lycans, elves, and beings of other unique origins have also come to call the city home. Whatever their race, descent, or social status, the people of Umbra exist as a people driven by their common cause to strengthen their city, the Empire, and disseminate the benevolence and righteousness of their dark god, for the betterment of all beings, throughout Genesaris.
Alternatively, life in Umbra is not one of the placid utopian dreams. As it is written among the Faith's Sanguinar’s holy tomes, “only the strong survive the darkest nights”; the citizenry of the Red City stand firmly behind the principle that the weak are food for the strong, and misfortune brought on by any manner of weakness is just deserved. They believe that true strength can never be given, but instead, it must be taken -- earned through blood and sweat, yours of your enemy's. However, remaining true to Sitraic beliefs, they also believe you are only as strong as your weakest neighbor. This circular manner of thinking has led to the establishment of an incredibly close-knit community, even amongst varying social echelons.
And since they pride themselves as the moral vanguard of the Empire, the people of Umbra adopt seemingly draconian measures to ensure their moral code remains untarnished. Crime of any form is harshly punished; there are no misdemeanors within the Red City. This seeming cruelty is countered by a thorough justice system, one that incorporates fair and just consideration of all the circumstances involved.
As the religious heart of the Orisian Empire, and one-third founder of the SUN Trading Company, the City of Umbra has established itself as one of the wealthiest cities in all of Genesaris. It swells from the just imperial taxes imposed on kingdoms and domains within its borders, though survives quite well with its own exports, which vary from crops, meats, magi-tech, and luxurious goods. And while it deals in all manner of currency, though exchange rates differ, the preferred coinage is the imperial alhm: a gold-minted coin, slightly larger than a quarter, stamped with the imperial sigil on one side (heads), and a three-eyed hawk on the other (tails).
Major Companies and Institutions
Imir, the Institute of War: The famed “Battle School of Umbra,” named after the late prince Imir of Tevka. Men and women travel from near and far for the chance to learn from some of the most revered warriors Genesaris has ever known.
Bronte, Academy of the Arcane: The Institute of War’s sister institution, named after the late king Pharaoh Bronte IV of Tevka. Arguably the most prestigious school of the occult in all of Genesaris, Bronte is said to stand alone at the frontier of magical study and comprehension.
S.U.N Trading Company Headquarters: A massive corporate building serving as an abroad headquarters for the SUN trading company.
The Intermediary: The largest, most lavish tavern and inn in all of Umbra. It is a must-see for any adventurer, quester, hunter, or mercenary looking for honest (or not so honest) work.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Landmarks and Monuments
The Kings of Old Arena: A large, bulbous arena located on the southern border between Nomisma and Uldritch. Fully equipped, with magically reinforced rooms and a slew of both real and practice weaponry, it is a place where individuals can come to practice their skills both physical and supernatural.
The Ivory Square Garden: The largest inner-city garden in all of Umbra, this beautiful stretch of vibrant emerald grass is teeming with enormous clusters of flowers: roses, lilies, lilacs, lotus, and everything in between. The park also houses a large playground, which unfurls along its backside the full length of the Ivory Square Market.
Lana’thel, the First Temple: The palatial fortress of the Immortal Emperor, Lana’thel derives its name as the birthplace of the Imperial Faith. The Red City has since then become a place of great pilgrimage for all the religiously devout, as a Faithful's greatest honor is to behold the origin of their faith and mighty deity. Lana’thel is the largest structure in all of Umbra, a mountain of walls and spires and towers of white stone reaching deep into the sky above, and bathing the city below in its shadow.
The Umbral Vanguard and Justicar Courts: These are the courts of the Vanguards and Justicars of Umbra, police forces tasked with protecting, monitoring and patrolling Nomisma and, to a lesser extent, Uldritch. These buildings, serving as both court and prison, are used to settle common disputes among the people: property damage, breach of contract, disorderly behavior and the like. Offenses of higher caliber -- assault, murder, forced feeding -- are handled by the Inquisition.
Inquisition High Command: One of several enormous, reinforced monoliths built into the flanks of Lana’thel, the Inquisition High Command holds barracks, training grounds, armories, torture chambers, prisons, and personal forges of the Imperial Guard. The notable feature of this facility is the massive rose window at the front, though the glass is dark from the outside.
The Hand of the Emperor (Imperial Legion): The military forces of Umbra, known as the Hand of the Emperor, or the Hand, make up one of the smallest percentages of the Imperial Legion (the combined forces of all the Carmine Empire and its domains). The Hand is responsible for handling all matters of the Red City, namely defending the holy mecca and its surrounding areas should they ever fall under attack. Because of this, their various divisions -- such as the Knights of the Fang, or Knights of the Firstborn -- are often considered the Legion's elite forces.
— 1 Vicar.
— 2 Zodiac Knights
— 25 High Inquisitors.
— 500 Inquisitors.
— 50,000 Police Force Personnel (Vanguards and Justicars).
— 190,000 Imperial Military Forces (knight-templars, battlemages, dragoons, etc.).
Under the Immortal Emperor’s rule, education throughout all of Umbra – and to a greater extent, the Empire itself – has flourished to an all-time high. The Red City hosts two of the most prestigious postgraduate institutions in all Genesaris: Imir, the Institute of War (teaching swordsmanship, archery, equipment maintenance, battle arcanum, field medic training, and tactical command operations) and Bronte, Academy of the Arcane (teaching alchemy, bioscience, craftsmanship, healing/curative skills, arcane theory and comprehension, and practical applications of the arcane).
- Roads, Walkways, and Bridges: Given the vertical establishment of the city, the primary method of travel consists of an intricate system built on cobblestone roads, stone walkways, and both narrow and wide bridges. This web of travel connects the various walls, sectors, and cloisters of the Red City.
- Cabbies: Whether they are horse-drawn, magic-fueled, or some engineering miracle of the occult and technology (magi-tech), cabs -- or carriages -- are the leading method of transportation throughout the city.
- Short-Portals: Called “short” due to the very small amount of distance they allow one to travel, these short-distance portals can teleport an individual from one area to another within the same district. They are most commonly employed to assist those living on the city walls enter and leave the city proper.
- Riverways (Uldritch): Available only to those living in the lowest district of the city, the slums, the riverways are likewise coterminous with the labyrinthine sewer system shouldering the weight of the city. There is nothing romantic, or captive, about these passages. They are, however, incredibly useful.
Rafael Bartolome: Sauriel, God of Blood and Lord of Veins; the Immortal Emperor of the Carmine Empire, he serves as the ultimate authority of Umbra and all its territories.
Irene Gabriela DuGrace: The Black Queen of Orisia, Lady Mother of the Sitraic Faith, fiance of the emperor, she is to become the first empress to ever rule alongside him.
Rou Ji: A controversial figure since her arrival in the Dominion, the former thief and con-woman has still managed to climb the social and political ladder to unprecedented heights, though some question the morality of her methods. As An'She, she is one of the most powerful and wealthy women in the empire, with a direct link to the emperor, himself.
Gabriel Cantor: Nephew of Rafael by way of the youngest of his late sisters, Gabriel is a living remnant of the once proud House Bartolome. He serves as the emperor's most trusted confidant and dangerous agent.
Zenahriel Zacharias Darkness: Mate of the Blood God and High Lord to the rest of Genesaris, Zenahriel serves as the Emperor’s second-in-command and chief advisor. He is revered even higher than the High Priest, and worshiped as fearsomely as Sauriel.
Athyon Yor: Lord Imperator of the Carmine-Orisian Empire, Athyon serves as the head of state in the absence of the emperor. Rafael has instilled a great deal of power and agency in this enigma of a man, who seems single-minded in his ambition to see a unified Genesaris under the Carmine banner.
Kirena Yor: Wife of Athyon, the Lady Imperator was once the most trusted agent in Queen Raveena's court. Since her union with Athyon, the former courtesan has devoted every ounce of her skills and resources to the realization of her husband's dreams and the founding of their family.
Cecil Anselme Bartolome: Father of the Imperial Faith, and god-appointed High Priest (known cruelly as the High Inquisitor), Cecil is both maddening whisper and roaring thunder to the Faith’s vast congregation. Through his obsessive efforts and unrelenting zeal, the roots of the Great Tree span far and wide across the continent.
Lady Annalise Bronte: Niece of the late Pharaoh Bronte IV, Lady Annalise now serves as the High Vicar, protector of the Red City, and head of all the Church’s “militant” operations. Second only to the Chantress in religious matters, and the Great One in political affairs, she is arguably the most powerful woman in all the Empire.
In the grim future, there is only war: Seeing the recent exchange of power as an opportunity to rise up from the squalor of the slums, a small band of the poor and discontent storm the streets of Nomisma, inciting fear and terror through violence. The rebellion is quickly brought to an end, with all participants publicly executed.
Blood Pact: Hosting a meeting between the Shawnee chieftain, Nogusta ‘Blaidd’ Diotrephes, accompanied by his daughter, Nara, a tenuous treaty is established between the Terrenus barony and Genesaris city-state.
Ascension: Seeking to obtain the power of gods, Rafael beseeches his closest companion, the High Lord, Zenahriel, to bestow unto him the might of his kind. It is a dangerous transformation, one the vampyre narrowly survives -- yet he awakens as the first ever Genesarian Blood God.
A Celebration in Red: The Feeding: The Blood God hosts an extravagant masquerade ball, known as the Feeding, in celebration of traditions from his past life. Among the guests are various night-born nobles, ancient eldritch horrors, and lovely mortals stumbling into a new life.
Bedridden: After invoking his true strength for the first time since his ascension, to wake Zenahriel from his Great Sleep, the Blood God’s vessel is terribly damaged. He is forced to his bed for several weeks, feeding off the people of Umbra. The Blood God’s feeding-maiden, Elisha, is tasked with discovering plots against the king.
The Price of Existence: In the aftermath of their catastrophic battle with the Desolation God in the Abyssal Enclave, Zenahriel is gravely wounded. Rafael, stricken with grief, is unable to bring himself to leave the High Lord's side. He tends to him day and night, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Unrepentant Vows Spoken: By decree of the Sitraic Faith, the Immortal Emperor Rafael Bartolome and bride-to-be, Irene Gabriela DuGrace, Black Queen of Orisia, partake in the engagement ceremony known as the Tethering.
Moonlight Sonata: Following their official engagement, tension remains at an all-time high between the two cousins. Hoping to alleviate some of the pressure, Rafael tries to reason with his cousin. Negotiations break down, and cruel words and harsh truths are thrown instead.
Runaway Bride: Unable to endure the custody of her cousin any longer, Gabriela and her close confidant, the wild fae Eluvie, attempt a daring escape. However, their efforts prove futile and they are both punished severely for their transgressions.
The Loss of Faith: With her spirit all but crushed beneath the heel of her cousin, Gabriela sinks into a deep depression. She is visited by a loyal ally, one she hopes will prove brave enough to deliver her child away from the cruel fate awaiting him at the hands of her angered cousin.
Retinue: Hoping to increase his arsenal of living weapons, Athyon Yor, Lord Imperator of the Carmine Empire, schedules a meeting with the daughter of the late Terran warlord, Nogusta. Eager to put her skills to the test, Nara finds his offer rather appealing.
A Contract of Kings: In yet another move to secure a stable of powerful allies for the Empire, the Lord Imperator once again schedules a meeting member of the Breakers. The two come to terms relatively quickly, and a deal is struck.
Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Spades: Wanting to express his gratitude to close friend, Raveena of Hyperion, the Lord Imperator meets with two of her closest confidants to deliver a gift. The meeting goes awry, however, when Athyon and one of Raveena's envoys, Kirena, become rather enamored with each other. Their sordid rendezvous is underscored by news of the assassination attempt on Raveena and Gabriela.
The Mountaintop: News of a valiant knight, Reinhard Paendrag, and his efforts to protect innocent villagers from the horrors of the Whispernight reaches the Red City. Seeing a splendid opportunity, the Lord Imperator schedules a meeting and inducts the knight into the fold of Carmine's hierarchy.
Into the Rose Garden: Seeking to solidify their hastily-formed relationship, Kirena decides to move to the Red City permanently. She is greeted by the emperor, himself. The two share a brief conversation regarding her future in the Empire, which by all accounts appears bright.
Of Gods and Men: The Kadian Emperor pays the Red City an unexpected visit and finds himself greeted by Rafael and his mate, Zenahriel. A wide range of topics are discussed, the most prominent of which is the future of Genesaris and its place on the international stage.
The city-state of Umbra was originally known as Tevka. Tevka was a prosperous city-state under the rule of Pharaoh Bronte IV, a wise ruler, with a knack for military rule. He fortified the city-state and led several campaigns in his youth. During his second campaign, a crusade against barbaric heathens, he became the father to a bastard boy, whom he named Imir. Three years later, Bronte IV married, and his wife bore him a legitimate child, Branke XI, named after his grandfather. However, Imir was raised as a royal child by Bronte IV’s command. At the age of thirteen, Imir joined his father on military campaigns, quelling the anger of the Queen of Tevka, who began raising Branke XI in the ways of the court.
Imir was trained in the ways of warfare and became well known among both the common folk and the military. At age twenty, he was loved by all of those outside the walls of the city itself, and well respected as a military commander. He led the elite squads of his father’s army in many campaigns, and often held court in his father’s place outside of the walls of Tevka itself. When Imir turned twenty-three, Bronte IV became too old to continue the massive duties he held over the army itself and passed these duties to his favored son, as well. Both the military and the peasantry of Tevka regarded Imir as a just ruler and a brilliant commander. His decisions were rarely found improper in either common court or Court Martials.
On Bronte IV’s fourteenth military campaign, he developed a fatal disease. Aware of the insidious ways of his wife and royal son, Branke XI, who together ruled the city within the walls with a snake-like grip, Bronte IV publically declared to the Tevka Military that he intended Imir to assume rule of the city-state instead of his legitimate off-spring. This message was passed among the peasantry and soon found its way to the ears of both the queen and Branke XI.
Bronte IV signed a royal decree before entering the last stages of his disease, when all his commanders could swear he still had a right mind. Imir was officially recognized as Imir the First, and Bronte IV specified Imir was to rule Tevka after he passed.
Bronte IV passed away far from home, while the army still marched from its successful campaign. Imir accompanied his father’s royal casket into the city, and he was personally escorted by the finest guards of Tevka. The funeral mass of Bronte IV lasted fourteen days – a day for each successful campaign he led – and the royal courts were held shut for the period of mourning. Imir and his guards were given a place of honor in the royal castle as they mourned.
On the fifteenth day after the royal funeral, the imperial court assembled, expecting to deal with the urgent matter Imir had claimed to bear. Instead, Branke XI came before the court and declared his beloved brother and all his guards had been found dead that morning. A royal funeral was held for Imir, as Branke XI declared he had loved his bastard brother. The mourning period lasted only a single day for the royal court. When it reconvened, Branke XI’s royal guards declared they had found evidence that Imir had been poisoned by one of his own guards, and a purge of the Military High Command commenced under the orders of royal decree.
The Military High Command was the only remaining witnesses to the truth of the matter who could have revealed Bronte IV’s will and the truth behind Imir’s assassination. All the military that remained, as well as the peasantry, mourned Imir’s death, knowing that Branke XI had killed his own brother and burned all of Bronte IV’s royal decrees. But none of them could step forward and reveal this treachery.
The remaining original military of Tevka fled, refusing to accept their newly appointed commanders, who were all instruments of Branke XI and his mother. They hid among the peasantry and left Tevka proper to fend for itself.
Later, rumors began to spread among the original members of the military and the peasantry alike. An angel was coming to each village in the night, her skin shining porcelain-white and reflecting the moon. She urged the people of Tevka to join the righteous king and his small army, for they had heard the prayers of the peasantry and knew all of Branke XI’s lies. The military flocked to their new commander and revealed all they knew of the defenses of Tevka. The city fell in a single night, crushed by the elite troops of their new king after the military of Imir and Bronte IV opened the gates and slew those loyal to Branke XI.
The new king declared the sins of the city-state cleansed and renamed the land Umbra to mark a new beginning. Imir’s special vanguard came to serve him loyally, calling themselves the Vanguard in honor of their fallen commander who had been avenged by their new king: Rafael Bartolome.