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  1. In Greater Arkadia, there are many men and women of note, and others beside, to be regarded if one wishes to conduct business - or war - in these lands... NOCOBIAL CIAOFI THE LORD IN THE HEAVENS Whether or not the above image - a portrait seated in the estate of the Princess of the West - accurately reflects the self-appointed master of the Arkadian Basin is... unclear. Few have actually met the one that calls himself Nocobial, and fewer still would attest that this image is the figure of the... being they met. Some describe him as older, others paler. Some describe no form at all, merely a presence; this too seems variable, sometimes quietly insidious and seductive, and at others overwhelming and dominating. It may be that their appearance is not a fixed one, but instead malleable to need and desire, whether Nocobial's own, or that of his 'audience'. However they may appear, the existence of Nocobial is certain, and has come to leave its mark upon the land he has taken to rule. Most not beneath his grip - and many still within it, with some prompting - would say for the worse, and those who recognise such have taken to calling him by a different name, refusing the recognition of his rule. They call him: Ciaofi, the word emblazoned upon his celestial prison. Nocobial himself does not rule his kingdom directly, his will felt and acted upon by a number of appointed individuals. If asked as to where their lord resides, citizens of Momar will - perhaps with a laugh - remind a listener that he is also known as the 'Lord in the Heavens', and such a title is meant literally. Though few in the realm that was formerly Arkadia Prime seem to much care as to whatever happened with their city's spaceborne colonies, they know their master has taken up residence in the Prime, a citadel in the stars, raised far above the surface of Valucre. What he does up there is business that none on the surface should seem to know, nor precisely how and when he comes and goes to it, what times he appears in the city. But the influence of Nocobial remains, seemingly anchored by the devotion the people have come to hold for him. This influence, aside of itself encouraging such devotion - even where it should logically be irrational - seems to help sustain Momar as a relative bastion of technology amidst a continent where so much has gone awry. Crystalline technology does in fact still function within the city's borders because of him, but only within the city's borders, and what power is slowly drained may never be restored. Thus it still slowly fades from usage, as alternatives are found; his is a stabilising presence, not a substitute. Yet in that stability, the people of Momar find greater opportunity with which to restore themselves - or so they hope - and thus they revere him for it. Some even go so far as to worship. TELOCH GRAND MASTER OF THE DOMINION 'The Dominion' refers to what territories Momar holds and aspires for that are not held to be part of the city proper, or any other such designated settlement. Of them, Teloch, is Grand Master: a law unto himself, commander of Momar's developing army, subordinate only to Nocobial himself. Who Teloch is, is unclear; it is said he was first presented to a meeting of the city's great men and women, as they argued on who should command the fledgling nation's forces. Some wager by the style of his armour that he is a man of the east, potentially having taken flight from the Devla Desert, finding new life - perhaps literally - in Nocobial's court. Others claim that he is one of the Althane, a demi-god, scion of one of the Alteri or Altarr, ancient deities of Alterion belief; such observers use this to explain Teloch's extraordinary strength, and voice that commands the very earth to bow before him. Others take the latter as a suggestion he may be of Gaian origin; perhaps a bastard child of Odin Haze himself, whose service to Nocobial is so he might curry favour to 'reclaim' his throne. If any of these should be true, Teloch does not confirm, or deny. It almost seems as if he himself does not especially care who he is. What he is, is Ciaofi's sword upon the continent. Teloch's actions - and his orders - are almost entirely driven by the desire to serve his master, and tighten their hold upon a fractured land. In many instances, this manifests as a calculated cruelty, all too willing to take that which is not given, punish failure as grievously as treachery, and eagerly demonstrates why loyalty is preferable to treachery. More careful observers however might characterise this to be less a hatred, of sorts, and more an apathy; an evil borne of its banal nature. The basic value of life has little meaning to Teloch, and so if something should be gained through suffering, then he does not care to restrain himself - or those in his thrall - from attaining it. Equally however, this means that Teloch is a fairly... permissive purveyor of war. Just as he does not care if peasants shall starve from the seizure of their crop, he does not care if his forces, successful in their mission, should take time to celebrate, or indulge themselves; so long as it does not greatly diminish that which is owed to their lord. He is fair in his appraisal of a job well done, and progress made; he may even be argued as holding a certain sense of honour, truthful in his dealings, so long as he does not face an enemy to be deceived. Being the head of the Momarian military, Teloch is rare to be seen on the battlefield itself, instead dictating general strategy, training, and mission objectives. Should a campaign be of particular importance he may come to the frontlines to direct affairs personally, but most often he is to be found in his relatively humble estate - a mildly furnished, single storey building at the heart of the Campus Arkadia - in which he either meditates, or schemes. However, what fleeting glances there have been of Teloch at war, tell a tale of a living weapon. A man who swings a hammer so hard that it should unleash a sudden gust. A warrior who shall bark commands at the soil - 'Open!', 'Break!', 'Fly!' - and it shall answer his behest. Some wonder if even a mountain might split apart, if he command it so. Ever clad in armour, bound by leather and felt and bone, his true appearance remains unknown. AKELE PRINCESS OF THE WEST From whence the woman known as Akele came is unknown. While there are many pockets throughout Alterion in which a person may arrive at ‘civilisation’ with no recorded history, rarely do they do so with the full stature and backing of one who espouses to be the rightful master of all that is. Yet, so did Akele come, standing at the side of Nocobial as he summoned the great men and women of the land, dictating to them their duties and their appointments, or their lack thereof. After all others were accorded, to Akele did Nocobial grant the seat of Londoh Soboln, to be placed upon the peninsula that stood west of Momar across the Ang Bay. In her did Nocobial imbue the powers and responsibility with which to build a mighty fleet, so that his dominion may be spread from shore to shore. Despite the derision that began to build in secret - dubbing Akele as the ‘Masked Madam’ - Akele has thus far met all expectations placed on her, building the fledgling city, and the fledgling navy. So too has she built her personal domain, a realm in which all earthly pleasures may be met, and she as hedonist supreme may especially have her many desires sated. At times it may seem as though she utterly disregards her master, focused far more plainly on what she might gain for herself in a single night. However, such a thing could not be farther from the truth: Akele is devoted to Nocobial, who she and she alone calls Moz, and it is to them alone that she would willingly remove the mask from her face, and from her soul, to reveal her full self unto them. All others must merely be satisfied with the portions she permits to them, though for most, that is more than enough. Where she is not derided, Akele is hailed as ‘Princess of the West’, for the sheer extent of her political power - Londoh Soboln quite clear in being her domain, beyond its duties of defense - and the materials with which she glamourises herself and her populace. If one were to derive their view of Momar based solely upon the hospitality of Akele, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have rather a positive impression of it. In appearance, Akele bears the body of a quite healthy woman, somewhere on or above the cusp of thirty, with hair of a most peculiar shade of blue. Where she dresses in many fashions, a constant is the mask upon her face, the band of which doubles as a ‘crown’ of sorts.
  2. MOMAR DOOAIP ASF (ARKADIA PRIME) "The City of Tomorrow? I may not know what the future holds, but if it looks like Arkadia now, I don't want any part of it." While the rest of Alterion was wracked by the cataclysm that was the Hollow, something... strange, befell its great colonies, high above the world; an evil seeped into them that has trickled down to the former hub of its ambitions, Arkadia Prime. Though many outsiders still know it by that name, there is another that is whispered upon the tongues of those that have claimed to have reached the now twisted city, and thus filters throughout the land: Momar Dooaip Osf. Due to the length of this name, and its unclear origin, many simply refer to the city and its surrounding lands as 'Momar'. In any case, understand that what was once a beacon of technological progress and advancement has now become a sealed off stronghold; holding this knowledge not so that it might restore Alterion, but that it might conquer and subsume it beneath the will of its new master. One that they call Ciaofi, per the name inscribed upon its supposed prison, though it is known to call itself Nocobial. History: Long ago, before the Masons held sway over the populace of Alterion, before any indigenous people paid worship to the Crystal, there was the glorious Empire of Arkadia. Little is known of the ancient kingdom, but many historians believe it to be the first civilization in Alterion, with previous indigenous peoples existing as nomadic tribes. Scholars disagree on the date, but at some point prior to the reign of the Winter King, the Arkadia Empire disappeared. All written records indicate this disappearance occurred overnight and without bloodshed. The fate of Arkadia remains a mystery to this very day; though some whisper it may be tied to its current ordeal. The region itself falls from history for centuries, mentioned only with regards to distant contacts for the mercantile Republic of old. It arises once more as a matter of note chiefly when the Masonress Riva emerges, toppling the Republic turned Empire, and supplanting it with her own, centred on worship of the Crystal. After her rise to power, Riva granted territory to each of her favoured followers, granting the territory where the Arkadian Empire once stood to the Proteus Merchant Guard. The Guard, which would in time become Proteus Enterprises, became the core of the Alterion military, and with it, Arkadia Prime became the hub of Alterion technological development, pushing the boundaries of understanding in almost every field. It was in Arkadia Prime that they created the Mechanoid, a modern, towering replacement to the golems of old, and laid the foundation of the Alterion Space Program, leading to the development of spacefaring colonies, unlike any other in the world. And oh, how the mighty could have fallen. The crisis of the city began shortly before the crisis of the continent, and scattered aspects of this knowledge can be found through isolated resources that have not been retroactively altered. REIN-01 was priding itself upon, and the city below celebrating, the successful capture of an asteroid; a great boon to the resource heavy sustenance and development of the Side, its orbiting colonies. The celebration quickly turned to curiosity, as information began to leak that the asteroid bore the marks of being worked by intelligent life. An ancient script was embossed upon the spacefaring stone; one said to bear a resemblance to scripts dating back as far as the Arkadian Empire of old. The exact nature of the message was unclear, and the Reinbach Corporation refused to confirm or deny its existence; but one word that began to emerge in the press was 'CIAOFI'. Though its meaning remained unknown, it heightened the attraction of the event; a word of a long forgotten word, spoken again for the first time in millennia. This made it all the easier to notice then, that it ceased to be the team on REIN-01 that was tasked with managing the questions of the news cycle. How any news of the asteroid at all seemed to cease entirely. How soon, the entire colony was on a communications blackout. Monitoring of the situation technically continued, but most of Arkadia Prime concerned itself with the fallout that came of the Crystal's destruction. Somehow, that the cities that Arkadia Prime had built far above the clouds were aflame was little more than a footnote; a distant and forgotten problem, versus the immediacy of spirits flooding the streets, the land bent and broken around them; the technologies upon which the city and its legacy had been built running utterly awry, threatening to bring an end to their great civilisation. Proteus could not stop it. ARMADA could not stop it. The Royal Family could not stop it, or perhaps they did not care to do so. Thus then did Nocobial lay his feet upon the land. Whether or not it truly was the first time that Nocobial had been upon Valucre, whether in ancient history or in living memory, is unclear. What is certain is that for Arkadia Prime, he brought an end to the chaos. The rampant spirits that threatened to destabilise the Arkadian way of life, as they were doing to the rest of Alterion, were calmed. The technological wonders of Arkadia Prime were once more made that which they always were and always should be: servants, even if broken. They laid praise and rapture upon the one that had saved them; they gave thanks to his great work of charity, and blessings to his beauty. They opened their hearts unto him, and so named him lord and master of their city, for all others had failed them so. Though Nocobial would retreat into the heavens to begin his great work, he left the people with those he could trust, and the promises of prosperity everlasting; of security from the dying of the world around them. Sweet words that mask the poison so obvious to any other; of the militancy and cruelty that has quickly become a norm. Arkadia Prime has not fallen, but it has perhaps been destroyed all the same; the culprit the one that is praised as Nocobial, and feared as Ciaofi. Geography: The Arkadia Prime of decades and centuries past had an influence and claim to jurisdiction that stretched as far south as the edges of the Magnus Forest, encroaching upon the borders of Cosanastre's provinces of Opharion and Kageroth, and swept east to the mountains that Izral might believe within its thrall. To understand it in full, please consult the full article. The core territory, and that which 'Momar' holds direct sway over, is the Arkadian basin, a stretch of relative lowland, filled with grassland and plains, that fills the space between the Pochioh river and the adjacent coastlines, until the topography begins to rise. Within the basin, there is a relative peace, though it is one built upon the shadow of fear for any consequence of defying the will of Momar itself, as already there have been those to have tried, and suffered the consequence. Though there remain pockets of free and wild space between web of villages and townships that serve the needs of the city, many of them remain inhabited by the wild beasts that have always inhabited Alterion, while others have taken on new, more dreadful inhabitants, some perhaps created by the city, which now observes the results. Some parts, in addition to having these horribly misshapen beasts prowling about, are themselves misshapen by the gentle caress, or the hammer-blow, of the spirits that wander the land. This is true throughout much of the wider region of course, but it is more truly incidental and random in the Arkadian basin, where you might find a lone rock that springs forth water, or a cave that shimmers silver in the moonlight, as much as you might find a flower that spontaneously combusts as it 'blooms', or a cave that screams at you in the sunlight. Many of the wayward spirits discovered here are now referred to Momar, who will then send out forces to capture and extract them. Cityscape: The city that was Arkadia Prime was a stratified society, and this was reflected in large part upon the architecture. Three levels there were, and are, crossed and supported by towering skyscrapers, of which there were, and are, many. While a generally accurate rule of thumb would be to consider that the lower in the city one lived and worked, the poorer they were, the basic needs and infrastructure of such a society meant there was a certain degree of cross-pollination and travel. Thus then, once might find the smaller, less comfortable builds that are more common in the lower levels, if with some mild embellishment, nevertheless nestled between the luxurious estates of the upper level. Meanwhile, some of the literal ‘tower blocks’ were properties for the poor from top to bottom, ensuring no matter what level of society within which one resided, there was labour available. The fundamental architecture of the city has not changed drastically since that time, being only so recently changed in nature and governance. It is still quite square, metal and glass, and aimed squarely at the sky. But it has taken on a certain cold and dreary feel, beyond merely the pockets of destruction that must still be mended, or the dismal light of the lower levels, where the sun grows ever fleeting with Nocobial’s desire to build a wall to match the height of the city; protection, the people are assured. New constructions are purely pragmatic in nature: workhouses, manufacturies and barracks, to name such things, with the argument being that the city already has enough housing, and must merely use it, a fact reinforced by the loss of over half of its previous population, even with millions remaining. Despite that, many still find themselves within the same dwellings that they and their families have inhabited for generations, yet somehow they are assured that now, things are different, and they may be able to progress out of their current stature; perhaps if they serve their lord even more… Adjacent to what was Arkadia Prime - in relative terms, though they are separated by many miles - are several settlements that serve specialised, large scale needs. Such as the Proteus Space Centre, which was the heart of Alterion’s space program, lying on the opposite bank of the Pochioh river, yet now operates almost entirely in a reserve capacity. In contrast, the Campus Arkadia, traditionally the training grounds for Proteus’ portion of the Alterion military, has developed a character and scale not unlike a small city, if fully designed to serve the needs of training the now ‘Momarian’ military. Within its confines, the military holds total power, sway, and control of the law, save for where it is commanded by Nocobial himself, or anyone they might directly appoint. The Campus Arkadia is comparatively ‘flat’, when held against Arkadia Prime, with its largest structures being storage facilities - such as hangars - for its mechanoid forces. Opposite the once Arkadia Prime on the other side of Ang Bay, is the port city and naval base of Londoh Soboln, as it has been dubbed by Nocobial. Originally a lookout position that served to warn Arkadia Prime against sudden incursion into its water, Londoh Soboln has been rapidly developed to fortify it, and is charged with the construction of a new fleet for the fledgling state. Its people are permitted a relative freedom and evocative charm, their abodes pleasant and exquisitely crafted from many varieties of Magnus timber, with numerous indulgences met and encouraged, so as to present an outward and disarming facade for the wider world; to distinterest them in Momar by serving all of their needs, particularly in matters of trade, in Londoh Soboln itself. If Momar is decadent and decaying, then London is luxurious and alluring. Transportation: Good transportation is… surprisingly difficult to acquire, until one realises the degree of control this permits. True trade does not flourish under the dominion of Momar, only the needs of the will of Nocobial; indeed, most will be told, they don’t need to travel to any great extent anyway, and so it shall not be supported. A certain industry of travelling caravans, offering their services to whomever they find struggling to walk along established roads - though these are not actively maintained unless they service Momar - has emerged in this vacuum, though even they are confined to horseback and cart, lacking the crystals for anything more advanced, and the prices may not be consistent, whether in amount or in form of ‘currency’. Along the Pochioh river, and the many tributaries of Chipochioh, boat has become the most viable and popular means of travel, though most are little bigger and significant than small barges. This is as a method is however complicated by the existence of ‘ghost’ vessels; automotive boats who, owing to corrupted crystals, move freely about the waters. Some ran aground immediately, but others, chiefly in Chipochioh itself, ‘haunt’ the waters there, presenting a danger to pirates and innocent people alike. Flora and Fauna: One may wish to read The Bestiary: https://www.valucre.com/topic/42289-bestiary/ But it must be noted that many of these, and other, less significant species of note, may be altered beyond expectation by the wayward influence of spirits. Culture: The culture of what was once Arkadia Prime, both as a city and its surroundings, is something that has fractured and changed of late, and it is important to realise the sheer significance of the contrast. Within the city that is now known by many as Momar, though few will experience it directly, a certain… ‘willful decadence’ has set in. The people there have become deluded of their superiority, both on an individual level and as compared with the rest of the continent, even if and as they sit in squalor, convinced of Nocobial’s promises that prosperity awaits them in his service. Though the rule of law nominally remains, a presumption of power dictating right and wrong, not even as a functional system, but as a passive ideology, has crept into the minds of the people. Though meek and humble before their master - before even the idea of him - they have turned petty and prejudiced against each other, wary of the ways in which they might try to undermine each other, while actively seeking to benefit at each other’s expense. What is thus created is a society that, as any reasonable outsider would observe, is paranoid and at odds with itself, held together only by the will of the one pulling the strings. Any semblance of what it is they used to hold dear before Nocobial came into their lives seems to be slipping from them, and is difficult to recall. The most common expression of this willingness to serve Nocobial, and an increasing profession of ‘choice’ in the populace, is military service. The promise of ‘good’ pay, escape from the city, and the chance to glorify oneself on the battlefield - however long away such may be - draws in many. They are drilled and instructed in how to be the most loyal, and most devastating soldiers imaginable; to crush out any disobedience against them and their master. The result, though seemingly tight-knit, is also highly repressive - when acting in any fashion other than their official duties, Momarian soldiers are known to be petty, selfish, and cruel to those they encounter, and needlessly so. For some whose morals are more resilient, it becomes a frustrating, painful paradox to endure, and much of what is known of Momar comes from those souls brave enough to throw down their swords and run, warning the wider world of what lies in wait. In contrast, the people of Londoh Soboln might be best described as a ‘hedonistic mess’; where the elevation of the self and one’s pleasures is paramount at the expense of almost everything else; ‘the Great Experiment’, they call their efforts to find yet more means of stimulating themselves without general restraint. Sobolnians still feel a general sense of loyalty to Nocobial, viewing him as their master, and otherwise, the one who has genuinely granted them this prosperity, but they are more flexible in interpreting the admittedly loose mandate that they are given to serve their own ends and desires. The only concrete rule among them is not to interfere with the development of the fleet, for that is interfering with the master’s will; even then, this merely means managing the hours in which one makes fun with the sailors and builders. Otherwise they are a deliberately affable, flirtatious people, inviting anyone who may visit to join them in their revelry, and then go away having had a most wonderful time; to not at all think of what it is that lies just across Ang Bay…
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