The land on Sabine’s surface, the Crescent Plain is named for the twin crescent moons that hang year-round above it. A wildly beautiful place, mountain ranges hundreds of miles long and wide reach so far into the crystalline blue sky above that their peaks are often masked by thick tendrils of white cloud. Thick forests of tall ancient trees and gnarled undergrowth grow mostly unheeded by man. it is home to beasts of such size and ferocity that survival without the benefit of a great number of people to watch your back is nearly impossible to survive. Poisonous plants grow freely among the undergrowth, and given access to the bloodstream can prove deadly. Clean water is rare and exists only within pools nestled far beneath the planet’s crust; the only way to access these pools is through a maze of cave and deep pits; the drinking of anything but the water in the pools and water filtered by a Water Elemental will lead to grave illness, and in most cases death. Sabine is, for much of the year, a warm and humid place with frequent dry thunder storms and pouring rain. Three months out of the eighteen month year, however, is spent in winter, during which thick drifts of snow blanket the land.
In the Wilds of the Crescent Plain is where a scattered number of Elemental people live along with a very scarce number of escaped humans, all originally inhabitants of the surface city of Loftas, now runaways from the tyranny there; as well as those that are Wilds-born. Gathering together into small bands is their only chance to survive against the harsh conditions. Patrols of Loftas Seekers make constant sweeps of the wild lands, looking for their runaway children, wild-born dissidents, and squadrons of Brigitite Searchers sent out from Aisling’s Reach for a mission of retrieval or a military strike.
It is not unusual for a child to Realize early in life when trying to survive in the wilds due to the fear, pain, and anger that living on the run and the constant knowledge of possible detection by Loftians brings.
Clothing here is rugged, reflecting the harsh and impoverished lifestyle living in the Wilds presents. Children are often seen without shoes, or else with the tips of those shoes cut off to allow for growth, and normally wear clothing that is either far too big for them or far too little as they recycle the garments off the dead they find, and share whatever extra clothing available. Cloaks and blankets of fur are used for warmth, though these are rare as it is difficult to kill a Wild's beast, and therefore few try it.
The realm carved beneath the surface of Sabine, Aisling’s Reach is named after the woman who masterminded the plan to move the rebel forces to the stronghold of the earth’s belly. It is also the only place within Sabine’s sphere named after a human.
At first as archaic as the people that inhabited it, Aisling’s Reach has grown in splendor and population until it has become one great megalopolis. The once rocky and uninhabitable cavern has been smoothed into a dome that no longer allows stalagmites and stalactites to grow, with the ceiling of the cavern hundreds of feet above the sloping ground. Sprawling as far as the eye can see are ground-scrapers, buildings so tall they nearly reach the roof of the cavern which houses them. The cave is hundreds of miles in length and width, housing on the outskirts and in designated parks within the city forest lands which are as far-reaching beneath Sabine's crust as the city itself. Wildlife was gathered from the Crescent Plain before the seclusion thrive unheeded, and it is not unusual to see animals which would normally keep to the woods roaming the cobbled streets. Some animals are raised as livestock to slaughter for food, kept in massive liveries set off in a smaller cavern from the main populous of the Reach. Fresh air is filtered into this cavern through a well hidden set of small tunnels that reach the surface of Sabine. Fields, gardens, and groves of produce are in sectioned off portions of the city and generate enough food to feed the masses throughout the year, although it is sometimes difficult for supply to keep up with demand. Although the cavern is carved out as needed to prevent overcrowding, the issue of overcrowding is still a major one with those in charge of enlarging the Reach sometimes unable to keep up with demand. Close enough to Sabine’s water basin to tap into it, massive waterfalls of toxic water are streamed into Aisling’s Reach that immediately go through a purification process developed by the Reach’s Cyartists to enable it to be drank. Siphoned through waterways, streams, and rivers, water reaches all homes, crops, and parks through a pump system.
Trade takes the place of monetary value in Aisling’s Reach, with records of all transactions filed in the Hall of Records. Trading is used only for the finer things in life, such as jewelry and garments of richer materials than the normal wool and leather clothing. More of a communal society than Loftas, if not one man eats in Aisling's Reach, no man eats. Food, general clothing, and housing is provided for all, free of the need to barter for it, though all are required to work in exchange toward the betterment of the Reach by way of Crafts. Homes are not given out by station, but rather by the size of the family, with Senators and Craft leaders known to live in the same sized homes as Cyartists and teachers. Clothing, for the most part, is practical and comfortable. Made primary of leather and wool, many preferring to wear simple pants or long skirts coupled with dyed long sleeve shirts when not in the uniform of their specific Craft. Long heavy coats are worn year round to stave off the Reach’s imminent chill.
Separated by a wide river and backed against the cavern wall, the Cathedral is connected to the rest of the city by three sets of vast bridges. Set upon a base of black granite, the Cathedral is formed from a solid block of white marble in the shape of a hexagon. Six massive towers climb high into the air, each signaling the beginning and end of a wing of the Cathedral, wherein are located the Senate House, which takes up two of the six wings; the Free Nations Conglomerate; the Hall of Records; the Hospital; and the War Office. Thousands of windows are set into the face of the Cathedral, cut into seven sections on each side by slender buttresses that taper delicately outward from the rock face. Open air parapets sit upon the flat tops of the buttresses, creating a walkway that stretches along each of the Cathedral’s five sides, with the six side meeting up directly with the wall of the cavern. The courtyard, located in the center of the Cathedral, is full of finely manicured trees that shade intimate pathways of red brick and beds of multi-colored wildflowers that are centered around a delicately sculpted fountain fifteen feet high of clear glass spun into the likeness of a weeping willow.
There is only one entrance into the Cathedral; two three story doors fashioned from three-inch thick rosewood carved with the likeness of weeping willows, the trunks of which are held within the loving embrace of flowering vines. On each side of the entrance is red obsidian statue standing twenty feet high; on the right stands Brigit de Velonspri with the human Aisling flanking the doors on the left, their ever-watchful eyes gleaming with the light of the faux sun set high above in the cavern’s towering arch.
Senators are those venerated men and women who have spent their lives moving above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety and continuity of Aisling’s Reach. Voted into office by the citizens of the Reach and one hundred in number, Senators holds office until their death, upon which time another is voted in to take their place.
The Free Nations, made up entirely of humans, is the hub of the businesses of Aisling’s Reach, which are ran primarily by non-Elementals. Comprised of such outreaches as military armaments and technologic achievements, much of the Free Nations comprises a large fraction of the Cyartists of Aisling’s Reach.
To the left of the Cathedral stands the Coliseum. Comprised of many outbuildings circular in nature, the Coliseum is made up of differing materials depending on the element which is trained in each building; the Fire Arena is sculpted from dried mud bricks to absorb heat with several large holes drilled throughout the roof to allow smoke to escape; the Air Arena is carved from a single block of sturdy white granite; the Earth, Metal, and Dark Arenas are formed from logs stacked one atop another, fastened together with thick ropes of braided leather; Electric, Light, and Water Arenas are made out of six-inch thick blocks of diamond, perfect for absorbing electricity and repelling water.
To the right of the Cathedral stand the schools. Each of the three buildings is fashioned from yellow marble, perfectly identical outwardly aside from the signposts over each entrance which designate their level of teaching. Large and single story, each school is rectangular in shape, boasting hundreds of classrooms, several gyms, and outdoor areas within their centers for training purposes. First for students to enter into is Primary, which caters to those ages four to thirteen. Primary students are taught the basic skills of education, such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and history, along with rudimentary meditation. This school does not have dormitories, as students of Primary age still reside full-time with their families.
Clarification, the second school students enter, teaches those ages thirteen to eighteen. It is during this time that students are tested by delegates appointed by Craft leaders for which Crafts they will be placed in to best serve Aisling’s Reach, undergoing various training and trials meant to discover which students work best together in both stressful situations such as combat simulations, as well as friendship situations; which element a child is likely to possess; and strict mediation exercises. Education from Primary is carried over into Clarification with students still expected to attend courses designed to teach more advanced education. By the end of Clarification, Craft delegates will have discovered which group of students will work in each Craft as a team, and, regardless of whether students have reached Realization or not, all members of a Craft will move onto Absolution, the final education students will receive before becoming part of Aisling’s Reach’s military.
Absolution is larger than the previous two as students reside here fulltime in dormitories located in an outbuilding to the school. Dormitory arrangements are made by Craft, as all nine members of a Craft reside in the same room regardless of sex. Craft members share meal times, study halls, training as a team, and all classes aside from those which require individual tutelage within a student’s specific element. The only time members of a Craft are apart during Absolution is when an Elemental member Realizes, during which time an individual is quarantined in a specific area of the Coliseum until such time as one is able to gain enough control over one’s power to cease from being an immediate threat to those around them; many Crafts are also known to live in the same homes along with their families after graduation from Absolution.
Due to the differing ages of Realization among Elementals, all members of a Craft are required to attend Absolution until all Elemental Craft members have retained their powers for at least three years in order to provide adequate training, usually by the time members reach the age of twenty-seven.
The Militia of Aisling’s Reach.
In Aisling’s Reach, there is a military force that is most unlike that of Loftas. Whereas in Loftas the practice is of highly disciplined and formed troops in the way of battalions and infantry, Aisling’s Reach comprises their military largely by the formation of Crafts, the membership of which is required of all Elementals of Aisling’s Reach. The Crafts are sanctioned under five Sectors, which are Builders, Searchers, Protectors, Providers, and Trainers. Over each of these Sectors, one man or woman holds command, be they Elemental or Human in nature. The Commanders, who are voted upon in the Senate House as those who have given the most of themselves for the greater good of Aisling’s Reach, are the distinguished elderly, retired from active duty within their Crafts.
Of the Sectors, Trainers hold the smallest number of Crafts, comprised of those who have by far proven their worth as Elemental Searchers on the fields of battle. They train and cross-train each Elemental according to their element and the elements they will face on the field of battle. The Trainers’ skill with their innate elements is surpassed only by the Searchers whom they train, which is the largest of the Sectors. A small faction of Trainers is leant to Absolution, and at times Clarification, for Regulator purposes. The humans among the Trainers train the other humans of the Searchers’ Crafts on attributes that only a human may possess, such as protection of oneself against the Loftains who seek to enslave or kill them, the wielding of swords, bowery, and the art of the hunt. Training is undergone by those who are chosen, through skill and desire, to be Searchers. Of all Elementals, they alone are taught the more complex uses of their gifts, and must undergo years of continual tutelage before they are to be considered for the honored position of Trainers, themselves.
Second to Trainers in number are the Builders, comprised of those who have proven by their skills and affinity toward architecture that they shall be the ones who oversee the Reach’s buildings, parks, and overall structure.
Next are the Providers, who work in the fields and liveries and strive toward feeding the hoard.
Protectors are those dedicated men and women who constantly patrol the borders of Aisling’s Reach, both above and below ground, to ensure its impregnability. They alone are the ones responsible for screening those who wish to enter the Reach, ensuring friend against foe.
Crafts are nine members strong, comprised of Elementals belonging to each of the eight powers, and one human whose natural talents and learned skills are matched with the Craft in which they are thought to serve Aisling’s Reach the best. Members of each Craft is chosen during their seventeenth year when many Elementals have yet to Realize, and are so still ensconced in Clarification. Upon their eighteenth year, all students are graduated to Absolution, where training for their specific Craft begins.
Each Craft is required to wear a uniform of simple leather pants and a leather jerkin. Directly over their hearts is sewn the insignia which tells each Craft apart; Builders are marked by a hammer; Trainers, by an arena; Searchers, by an open eye; Protectors, by a closed fist; Providers, by a shock of wheat.
Searcher strike forces, which can number at one Craft to several hundred, are sent out into the Crescent Plain to meet the Loftians in outright battles, or to sometimes venture into the city in secrecy to attempt to steal as many of the human children still young enough to not be considered a threat and take them back to Aisling's Reach, where these children are accepted as equals. At times, Elemental children are also taken by mistake, and are added to the Brigitite's ranks.
Loftas and its surrounding settlements
Erected in a large hollow at the base of a mountain and surrounded on all sides by a thirty foot wall, the major city of Loftas holds homes of spun glass and tapered gold, carved mahoganies and supple red and amber silks. Their gardens are lush and full, constantly blossoming around the trunks of willows and along manicured paths of smooth white granite. Three tall ivory spires mark the center of Loftas, around which are the city’s centers of commerce, education, and military training take place. Masterminds of battle, the greatest achievements for a Plains Elemental are status in the army and glory on the battlefield.
Loftas is not a society that cares whether or not everyone eats or has clean clothes on their backs. Money speaks just as highly as birthright, and those without a full coffer are shunned by the more well-to-do.
The ruling class of Loftas is the Supremacy, made up of twelve of Loftas’ leading families. These are the major financial backers of the military forces, the overseers of commerce, and the runners of public services. Due to this fact, a percentage of all taxes go into their personal coffers, enriching their holdings and solidifying their standing within the Loftas hierarchy. Each family of the Supremacy is required to raise its own faction of the military, which, through the contract and fealty of minor houses, slaves, and half breeds, numbers in the thousands each.
The twelve Supreme families of Loftas are de Greneur; de Brescont; de Feldan; de Fauna; de Marx; de Rasgard; de Cixa; de Dohel; de Trant; de V’lou; de Slaan; and de Waughn, each with an Alliance, or military faction, to their name, the sizes of which dictated by the amount of funding each family is able to put into it. The de Greneur Alliance is the largest of the factions, tapering down in size and clout through the twelve houses as they have been previously named to the de Waughn Alliance, which claims the least amount of armaments and the running of various public services, though the de Waughn house is still immensely powerful in and of itself.
The families of the Supremacy have been in place since the founding of the great city of Loftas thousands of years ago. Through political marriages, subterfuge, and stratagem, they have managed to gain authority through both monetary holdings and slaves. Overall, it is these families who own the food stores, armaments, technologies, and clothing industries, though the everyday dealings of which are passed on to the Alliances under their rule.
Loftas is the home of culture, breeding, and grace. Its citizens prize beauty and poise, lineage and birthright. Yet, beneath all acts of finery they are a brutal race, as steeped in blood as their ancestors before them, still holding true to the beliefs of their forefathers that they are the greater of the species, badly oppressing the humans beneath their rule. Many of the male humans born into slavery are castrated and made into house slaves, field workers, and miners for the precious blue topaz which serves as currency in Loftas; while those that promise to be strong in body are sent to Kron’ant, an outlying township ten leagues south from Loftas to live in breeding colonies along with female humans who are considered too unseemly to be working as bondservants in an Elemental’s home. Kept under strict rule by overseers put into place by the Supremacy, it is in Kron’ant that slaves are produced, trained, and either kept for further reproduction of humans, or trained in servitude and then sent to Loftas and its daughter settlements to serve their Elemental masters.
Every slave is outfitted with a collar that identifies them to the house they serve by way of their master’s family crest. These collars are delicate in nature, even on men, and are made of braided silvers, coppers, and golds, inlaid with such precious stones as onyx, amethyst, and opal, though they hold a much more deliberate purpose that merely identifying which slave belongs to which house. Due to the constant theft of Loftas slaves by Brigitite rebels and the loss of profits suffered, the slave collars have been fashioned to send an electric bolt through a slave moving outside an area designated by their masters, rendering the slave unconscious after delivering an incredible amount of pain; masters are also able to activate the collar’s shock properties as a means of punishment. The invention of these collars has stunted the theft of slaves, as well as slaves attempting to run away. The only way to remove these collars is by means of stealing the slave holder’s Rose Stone, a small pale red device that fits into the palm of a hand and is as smooth as marble that works as a remote control to the collar. A slave holder’s Rose Stone is rarely seen outside of a master’s pocket, meaning that most times the only way to get the Stone away from a slave holder is through death.
There are few other townships aside from Kron’ant that have been birthed by Loftas due to the inherent dangers imposed by a wild and treacherous Sabine, many fearing both the deadly beasts that roam the planet’s surface, and raids from Brigitite Searchers. Inhabited by those who have been garrisoned there by the Supremacy and the minor houses they serve, these people tend to the crops and domestic game that feed the majority of the people. Many in the settlements are also producers of the city's clothing, spinning fine bolts of linen from the richest of wool, silk, and lace to sell in Loftas' marketplace.
Thrakus, Loftas’ largest and most unmentioned settlement, is peopled by Loftas’ half breed children and their human mothers. Although it is considered repugnant by many in Loftas to touch a slave, there are some who have allowed lust to overrule their station, the result being a half breed Elemental child. It is these that make up Loftas’ lower class and the throw-away forces of Loftas’ elitist military.
Due to the strength of their father’s blood, these half breed children are born with the same powers their father’s hold, though their command of the eight elements is much weaker than those of their pure blood Elemental sires. These children are refused the right to a formal education, none of them versed in reading or arithmetic, learning only enough of writing to pen their own names; their education lies strictly in the military sense. Harsh lives for those who live them, these half-breeds are treated little better than the slaves who bore them, unable to own land, unable to legally marry. At a young age, they are forced to witness such horrid acts as the brutal deaths of their mothers, even to the point of being forced to kill the women themselves, in the hopes that they will Realize early and therefore immediately enter into combat training, sometimes as early as the age of nine.
Surrounded by a high wall made of black iron reinforced with threads of steel, Thrakus is the breeding ground of squalor, full of paltry crops, drafty shacks, and tainted water. Surrounded by a high wall made of black iron reinforced with threads of steel, Clothing is patched and threadbare, barely enough to keep from freezing to death during Sabine’s three harsh winter months. They have bare purses, the sum of their earnings going to the Alliance family who oversees Thrakus as one might oversee a concentration camp.
Formal education is highly prized and kept solely to Elemental offspring, beginning at the age of five when male and female children are brought to the schools from their parent’s homes and are taught the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Strategic planning is a required course for all, as is weapons training, meditation, and pain resistance. When a child comes to Realization, they are taken away from their peers and placed into a specialized training program, called the Academy, where they are taught to control their powers and hone them against each other, humans, and captured Brigitites. They are not released into the general population until they either reach the age of twenty-five or have maintained Realization for five years, and are considered by all to no longer be students, but adept on their way to being masters.
The half breeds that are currently in training for the Loftas’ military are housed in bunkers within the Academy, separate from their full blooded Elemental brothers and sisters. The conditions here are not as refined as those housing full bloods, but the buildings are strong, the beds are warm, and the food is filling. They are outcasts among their peers as no child of an Alliance or Supremacy family would be caught in camaraderie with one so low as a half breed.
Clothing to the purebred in Loftas is considered as important to one's achievements as their military prowess. The richer the cloth, the finer the fit, the higher up in society one is considered. Finery and pomp come together in such splendid gowns and tailcoats that the city's supplies of velvet and silk are in constant strain.
Inside the city’s high walls are groves of apple, peach, and pomegranate trees, fields full of corn, wheat, and beans, and gardens which produce as much fruits and vegetables as needed. Animals are considered filthy things, and so are kept outside of Loftas. Great hunts for wild game are considered a pastime wherein hundreds of men and women venture out into the Wilds, and for many weeks afterward venison, beef, and fowl are brought into the city to feed the masses.