Situated near the center of the Rift Lands in the wide Schöneklar Valley, Storuvan was once merely a trading town until recently. Before the Eterian conquest some 650 years before it was a free city of mixed Carian/Hattani descent. With the conquest came Eterian colonists. When Sywnna rebelled in 100 TA, Storuvan was cut off the the West from the greater Empire, slowly losing its population and trade. Only much later, during the Norvick invasions, the population swelled as Carian refugees settled the area. Today Storuvan is a blended culture, with Carian, Norvick, Eterian and some Hattani character to it. The city’s population is over 12000 people and it dominates trade from the West to the East and back. It also strategically protects the West from the Visicarian nomads and the Tirorck hordes.
Some 375 years ago, the Proconsul of Storova, Gordian, cut off from the Empire and following the lead of Adera , declared himself Gordian the I, Archduke of Storuvan and Emperor of the Rift Valley and began fortifying the area, demanding all other dukes submit. In short order much of the lands out to a 100 miles around the city were controlled by Gordian. With the death of Gordian, the claim of ’emperor’ was dropped from the official titles as Storuvan could not enforce it. Though its power waxed and waned, even to the point of collapse, the Duke’s family ruled until 224, when the current Duke stepped down under pressure of an Eterian Imperian envoy sent from Admiral Diogenes. With Diogenes’ withdrawl shortly thereafter, the Duke was not allowed to retain his throne and the city fell under control of the merchant houses, who in 311 defied Haalkhan’s horde and were subsequently crushed. All men of the city were killed, half the women enslaved, and the others left to their own devices (i.e. starve). Haalkhan’s daughter and shieldmaiden Herja took pity on the remnant and by her father’s leave, seized control. She populated the city with slaves taken by her father’s war, Carian, Kalmarian, and dwarven refugees, and best and the brightest trying to flee, and installed a blend of the Norvick/Carian religions with herself as the conduit for the gods. After her father’s death, she rebelled against her brothers, taking a descendant of Gordian’s line as her concubine, legitimizing her rule. Today, the young Konigin of Storuvan Herja V, recently crowned still rules as high priestess and the source of all political power.
Over 4000 slaves live in Storuvan, and it is the heart of the slave trade in the West, second only to nearby Castigoth, most of them descendants of Carian refugees or newly captured Visicarians, Kalmarians, or survivors from Malith. The rest of the population is a blend, but the rulers are all descended from Herja and the family of Haalkhan. A good number of dwarves and gnomes populate the city’s merchant circles. Elves are almost unknown. All beings are welcome. If you can talk and do not cause trouble, you can live here.
The Queen (or Konigin in Carian) is the government. She is literally the descendant of the god-king Haalkhan (who is said to have been sired by an incestuous union of the gods Gond and Ilmar) in the eyes of her people, and like him is ruthless in justice, but fair in law. The Alstag is her council, made of the the various Herzogs (dukes), multiple Grafs (barons), and other appointed high lords of the realm. Her top advisor is her sorcerer, a member of the Zauberer class.
The majority of the population worships the Dreigeist, the triple god of Gond the Destroyer, Krag of the Dooms, and Ilmar the Creator, who in Storuvan is by far most important. They worship in triangular gardens with an open-air temple of columns and a sacrificial hearth. “We do not wall-in our gods,” is an old Norvick saying that the people of Storuvan have maintained. The most beautiful of girls become priestesses of the Dreigeist – once selected, they have no choice. The most talented become one of the Valan, the oracles of the divine who directly serve the crown, declare war, act as judges, and inspire adventures. The Konigin herself is the high priestess of the faith and the first among the Valan. Other gods are allowed as long as then do not cause strife, but male priests are banned under penalty of death unless given special permission. There is a small Aarithine presence (secretly building among the slaves, especially St. Johanna), some worshipers of Tyaa and other nature cults, Hate, and others of the old Imperial cults, though they are more rare. There is also a large following of the dwarven creator god Eisenn of the Anvil, especially amongst craftsmen.
All forms magic are strictly controlled in the city, and tolerated outside the city. There is a small group of official eunuch sorcerers who serve the crown. Known as the Zauberers, they practice an apprenticeship model using a tradition of sorcery called the Way of the Sethir, which is descended from ancient practice with some Eterian (and Thalassan) influence. They swear personal loyalty to the crown alone. Visiting Thalassan wizards are tolerated (though the more powerful ones are considered meddling annoyances), as are bards, as long as their magic does no harm or incites riots or revolts. Otherwise, they are welcome visitors. Native bards, known as the Skalds, build on a mixture of Carian and Norvick traditions. They are revered as fonts of history and culture, and act as agents of law and messaging for the court. The Archskald is the personal secretary of the crown.
While the slave trade is brisk, much money comes from agriculture, iron mining, copper mining, and other metals, with platinum being prized. Storuvan’s southern mountains are rich in timber which is floated down river as far as Adera. The trading plazas, known as the Zentrum, are well known for their exotic goods brought from all over the West and much from the South and East. There is a 5% tax on all trades, which is build into official prices, but barter or other purchases must add it.
Storuvan is one the many princely states that make up the loose economic and political union known as the Rift Kingdoms. In theory, the various Rift states, from Scarpa to Aendahl and from Estrasia to Castigoth are part on one empire, a successor state to the Eterians. However, no one has claimed that title successfully since Gordian I. In fact, the Rift Kingdoms routinely war on one another, with only outside threats creating unity. Storuvan has a mercantile rivalry with Castigoth and Jura, friendly relations with Estrasia, and has pushed the border of its smaller neighbors back, especially Haran and Tromalta. Trade with the Thalassan League, especially Adera is brisk. Northern plateau wildmen and raiders cause no end of trouble, and the refugees fleeing Malith (as well as other tribes on the move) are potentially an asset and a threat.