Location: Northwest corner of the Known World. Tiel’shar is bordered by The Pyrian Empire to the east along the Aerid Kel River in the southeast and the Red Fang Mountains in the northeast. The island of Zaravek lies just south-southeast of Tiel’shar.
Climate: Cold marine temperate. Mild summers, wet autumns and springs, and long, cold, snowy winters.
Government: Strong Feudal Monarchy. Tiel’shar is ruled by a king, who assigns territories to Lords and Ladies, who in turn parcel out land to Knights.
Of all the human nations, Tiel’shar is by far the oldest, and its populace has always claimed the blood of bold and daring heroes. Genealogy is not merely a hobby for Sharians, but a way of life. From their birth, a Sharian is expected to learn the names and exploits of their most famous ancestors, and to commit them to memory. For most, their parents also charge them with the task of someday improving their family heritage by adding their own name to that list.
The Plains of Tigas, covering most of the south of Tiel’shar, are the very first area claimed by men in the Known World. Although not an overly fertile land, the Plains offer enough bounty to feed the Sharians themselves. In the rocky north, sheep and goats are herded, providing most of both the local food and textile supply.
From its founding, Tiel’shar has always been a militant state. Strict control of the populace has been maintained through the existence of a powerful military, built around the backbone of the famous (or infamous) Knights of Tiel’shar. Although granted a bit of land by their Lord (in most cases, a tiny village or warren of alleys within a town), a Knight (and his decendants) are expected to leave the management of his properties to another, and dedicate all of his life to the mastery of combat. When called to battle, Sharian knights are the fiercest cavalry in the world, and, in sufficient numbers, even a match for the most powerful of The Pyrian Empire’s war machines. The knights are supported by a legion of lowborn soldiers, always seeking to prove their courage and worth (and maybe gain a knightly title themselves).
Only humans are allowed within the Sharian military, and slavery has always been limited in Tiel’shar itself. Although a few lords or ladies (and an occasional knight) may purchase a slave or two (often as a personal attendant), most feel “impure” when admitting non-humans into their midst. The only real exception to this rule is The Legion of the Unseen, a massive body of slaves owned by the kingdom itself (comprised mostly of Goblins and Orcs), utilizing in the most distasteful of duties. The name of the Legion becomes apparent when an outlander asks a Sharian about one of their number. The local will simply appear confused, as if he doesn’t even notice the individual, as it is custom to ignore the practice. After all, Sharians are “above slavery.”
Throughout the history of the Dominion, the military of Tiel’shar was employed whenever a threat (such as a troll incursion) or a rebellion appeared within the Dominion’s borders. A common threat for a country appearing too aggressive towards its neighbors was for the Dominion to “call upon Tiel’shar.” Each use of the Sharian military helped to strengthen it, and maintain its readiness. It was the strength of the military that kept Tiel’shar independent after The Collapse.
As the Pyrian Nation began its initial expansion to the west, it ground quickly to a halt as it reached the border of Tiel’shar. A long, bloody war of attrition into the Plains of Tigas followed over the next several decades. It is during this war that the story of Kel begins. Lowborn, Kel is an idol of the perfect life for most Sharians. Rising quickly in rank, he became a master commander after being knighted. In the span of a few years, he fought across the Plains, reclaiming land from the Pyrians. Eventually, he was even married into the royal line, to prevent popular support leading to him usurping the throne. In his later years, Kel finally was killed in his last successful battle, retaking Shar’shen. The river the city sits on has sense been renamed the Aerid Kel (or, the Blood of Kel, in Sharian). This same name is also often used by Sharians, when referring to themselves. Most would like to believe that, at heart, they are all like Kel.
Shar’Kel (captial): The capital of Tiel’shar, Shar’Kel sets an example for most other major Sharian cities. Located in the northwest of Tiel’shar, just west of the Red Fang Mountains, Shar’Kel sets on several high hills over a low plain, and is built in several rings of fortified walls, with Kel’s Palace (the royal residence of the king himself) at its center. Numerous forts exist among the walls of Shar’Kel, spaced evenly throughout the town. Only two attempts were made by Pyria to take this massive fortress town, and both failed quite miserably.
Shar’Eban: Located at almost the northwest tip of the Known World, on a long penninsula of land jutting out into the ocean beyond, Shar’Eban is a cold, quiet town. However, it is said that if men were to again cross the ocean, as they did in ages past, that they would again land on the Plains of Tigas. The massive Lighthouse of Shar’Eban, a huge crafter construct, powered by bound fire elementals, projects its light out to the west, always vigilant, should another ship ever come.
Shar’Tigas: The rich history of Tiel’shar has led to many bards hailing from this land. At the north of the Plains of Tigas, Shar’Tigas has become a sort of watering hole for bards and performers of every type. The huge Market of Legends occupies most of the center of the city. Although traveling bards are the most common type of performer in the open air arena, the occasional acting troupe or group of acrobats have been known to ply their trades there, as well.
Shar’Shen: Won at great cost back from the Pyrians, Shar’Shen is a fortress thay may even surpass Shar’Kel itself. Located on a large island in The Aerid Kel River, Shar’Shen is connected to the mainland on both sides by massive stone bridges. Guardposts and small villages stand at the ends of each bridge, all encircled by a stone wall built a mile from the shore on both sides of the river. Shar’Shen serves as the command center and staging area for any defense against the latest incursions by the Pyrian Empire.
Shar’Velast: On the southern cost, Shar’Velast has been the point of departure for would-be wizards and healers for centuries. The docks supporting the Zaravek ferry system (owned and operated by gnomish shipping guilds) are the final destination of most trade from the island nation, as well as the point of departure for those that go to the island to study the ways of magic. Traditionally, any human wishing passage to Zaravek to become a student is allowed passage through Tiel’shar to Shar’Velast, even if he is wanted in the kingdom or if his homeland is at war with Tiel’shar.