The Shattered Messiah Trilogy takes place in Esharia, the largest continent in the western hemisphere of Toerth and home to a dozen different nations. Over the last century, Esharia has endured three major wars, all between the Darenthi Republic and the Ebaran Confederacy. Only now, ten years after the last full-scale conflict, is a peace treaty finally on the table.
The most prominent nations in Esharia are described here.
Roughly a thousand years ago, a mage named Kendera Darenthi founded the First Darenthi Empire upon the ashes of Septuria. Her legacy has endured ever since, and Darenthi remains the largest and most powerful nation in Esharia. Up until a century and a half ago, Darenthi was ruled unquestioningly by a hereditary monarch. Empress Myral, a devout worshipper of the Goddess Edeh, brought her faith and democracy to Darenthi and established the first true republic in the world. Today the Darenthi Senate wields the majority of official power, and the Empress is typically little more than a figurehead.
The driving conflict in modern Darenthi society is the ongoing struggle between the Balorites and Edehans. The Senate has largely been sympathetic to the Balorites since the end of the First Ebaran War and the subsequent creation of the Faceless. The royal family, however, has maintained their strong Edehan ties, and the population is split almost directly down the middle.
Often called the “land of godless plutocrats” by outsiders, Ebara is ruled by a cabal of powerful merchant families. It is the only Esharian nation with no official religion, and its people take pride in their spiritual pragmatism. Ostensibly, Ebara is a true meritocracy where the smartest and hardest-working folk get their just rewards, but in practice the merchant families take great steps to squash all competitors.
While Ebara has been involved in three brutal wars with their northern Darenthi neighbors over the last century, as a rule they are not a violent people. The plutocrats much prefer to conquer an enemy with coin rather than swords, but they are not above funding enormous mercenary armies when it suits their purposes.
The people of the northwestern island-nation of Kimpera are ambitious and creative, and they have almost single-handedly driven the advancement of “mundane” technology in Esharia over the past century. Kimperans worship Illyria, and many believe their goddess has charged them with saving the world through technology. The second-generation of Kimperan flintlocks have just hit the shores of continental Esharia, and many believe these firearms will finally tip the balance of power away from the Faceless.
The great western forests of Esharia are watched over by the matriarchal, tribal people called the Sylethi. Eschewing sprawling cities in favor of smaller, nomadic camps, the Sylethi are at once the most and least unified people in Esharia. As a culture, they stand united in their reverence of Edeh and the natural world she protects, but without a central government the tribes rarely act with a common purpose. Both Darenthi and Ebara have attempted to conquer Sylethi over the years, but in every case the incursions were unmitigated disasters.
A land of artists, hedonists, and minstrels, Sunoa is considered a cultural mecca or gaping pit of depravity depending upon who you ask. Its people venerate Shakissa above all the other gods, and their lifestyle reflects her teachings. Their chief export is entertainment—no other nation in all of Toerth produces as much literature or music.
Situated on the far north-eastern corner of Esharia, Tethelia is land of faith and fervor where worship of the Six Gods is not just common, but mandatory. The country is ruled by an ancient theocracy with power split between six Abbots/Abbesses (one for each of the Gods) and the central ruling figure, the Septurion.
Tethelia is legendary for its civil strife. While the Septurion preaches equal worship of the gods, the individual Abbots and Abbesses constantly vie for influence for themselves and their deity. Tethelians whose faith is deemed “lacking” by the leadership—often for purely political reasons—are banished until they prove themselves sufficiently devout. These exiles, called shiani, often wander Esharia preaching the faith in the hopes of one day returning home. Few ever do.
The Tethelians have waged something of a cold war against the Darenth Republic ever since the Abbess of Abalor, Maya Soril, publically denounced the Faceless and the Siphons decades ago. Numerous border skirmishes have flared up over the years, with the Tethelians typically coming out on the losing end.
A small nation on the southwestern edge of Esharia, Vakar is a mountainous land of hearty people who pay homage to Zandrast. Vakari are a proud people driven by a competitive warrior culture and ruled over by an ancient aristocracy. The more “cerebral” Vakari who don’t fit the cultural mold often leave the country to study magic or serve as monks in one of the many monasteries within the mountains.
Most Esharians revere all of the Six Gods, but each nation tends to have a particular national symbol. Sunoans venerate Shakissa above all others, for example, and the Vakari are proud worshippers of Zandrast. The primary conflict within Darenthi society over the past century has been the religious split between the worshippers of Edeh (Edehans) and those of Abalor (Balorites). All religions are united by the legend of Septuria, however, described below.
Abalor: god of death, freedom
Edeh: goddess of life, keeper of the Fane
Illyria: goddess of academics, innovation, and wisdom
Shakissa: goddess of beauty, mercy, and romance
Venar: god of justice and order
Zandrast: god of strength and war
According to legend, a great celestial city called Septuria once floated in the skies above Toerth. Each of the Six Gods dwelt within its walls, and from here they lorded over all creation. Mortal worshippers who stayed true to their patron ascended to Septuria when they died. Here they were granted immortality at the side of their lord.
A thousand years ago, the city crashed to the ground. The gods, weakened and unable to remain the mortal realm with the magic of Septuria, retreated into the Fane. The Edehans claim it was the forces of Abalor the Destroyer who sabotaged Septuria in an attempt to vault himself to power over the other gods. The Balorites contend that Edeh the Betrayer, driven mad by mortal manipulation of her temple, attempted to destroy her own Fane. Both stories end the same way: the gods fell silent, trapped within the Fane…and Septuria was gone.
The Edehans (and most other religions) believe that one day they will unearth the only survivor from Septuria. This woman, called the Kirshal, will bear a fragment of Edeh’s soul inside her. Once awakened, she will usher in the Restoration, freeing the gods from their banishment in the Fane and rebuilding the glory of the gods’ fallen city.
Esharia is a land rife with magic. It shapes the daily lives of Esharian citizens and in many ways has taken the place of technological innovation. In most societies, the magi caste holds great military and political influence, and in some they are the de facto rulers of the country.
Literally the “temple of the gods,” the Fane is a divine realm contiguous to the mortal world. After the fall of Septuria, it became the home of the gods who had once lived and walked among their followers. It is the source of all magic.
Any human can learn to “weave” the Fane and alter the physical realm with its power, but such education is expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately highly exclusive in most societies. Many Esharians of wealth and influence become krata, dabblers in magic who know a few spells to improve their quality of life. A few become true magi, and they typically ascend to positions of great social power.
Touching the Fane carries a heavy price. A mage must expend her own life energy in order to weave the most powerful spells, and such a process invokes the Flensing. The Edehans believe it is their Goddess’s check upon mortal ambition; a mage who weaves too greedily can literally Flense herself to death. The Balorites have long sought methods to bypass this limitation but have yet to entirely succeed. The closest they have come was with the creation of the Siphons.
Not far outside Sandratha sits the mighty Prison of Venar, a massive building that houses thousands of criminals from across the Republic. Most of these criminals are kept insensate through small injections of varium. They are then ritually tethered to a mage, typically of noble blood. This connection allows the mage to fuel his magic with the body of the Siphon rather than himself, dramatically increasing the amount of power he can draw from the Fane before invoking the Flensing. This bond is not without risks, however, as the death of one partner invariably results in death for the other.
This forced servitude among prisoners is generally considered a travesty among Edehans, though few have historically had the political will to oppose it. The current Empress has put forth measures to begun to lessen the Republic dependency upon the Siphons, but the Balorites fear this will leave their military weakened and Darenthi ripe for invasion.
Beyond its wealth and natural resources, the Darenthi Republic endures today largely for one reason: the Faceless. Created near the end of the first Darenthi/Ebaran war along with the Siphons, the Faceless are men and women ritually stripped of their personalities and imbued with great strength and fortitude. They appear as little more than heavily armored shells, and the only sign of life within them is the menacing violet glow emanating from behind their helmets. The Faceless are believed to be impervious to magic, and that trait, combined with their limitless endurance, has made them the most powerful force on the Esharian battlefield in the last century. Their very presence has completely redefined modern warfare, and it has even encouraged some nations, such as Kimpera, to design better and more powerful conventional weapons to combat them.