Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A Brief Survey of Otherwhile

The following is taken from an intercepted report by Lemnick of Carysfort, a merchant, spy and frequent thief, formerly an ambassador to Otherwhile from the Kingdom of Shende.  I can only apologise for his verbosity and Love of Excessive Capitalisation.

... It is perhaps indicative of the somewhat solipsistic attitude of the average Otherwan (for so they style themselves) that they should refer to their country, the region surrounding their country and, indeed, the world of which their country and region form but a small part, as Otherwhile.

Despite the grand self-image implicit in this taxonomic eccentricity, Otherwhile itself is neither a large nor a particularly significant state. To cross its widest point from East to West would be a journey of some One Hundred and Ten leagues, to travel from North to South being a shorter trip of a little above Fifty. It nestles below the long range of mountains known traditionally as The Spine of The World and is bordered to the South by the Melwyst Hills and the River Tredanna.

Between the mountains to the North and hills to the South, Otherwhile is rolling country. Extensive forests can be found to the North-West and the East, the two wooded areas divided by a mountainous rib descending from The Spine of The World.

The country is home to many small villages but only a few larger settlements, notably Melch in the farming region south of the Phildra Forest and Yassock and Runne in the East.  The country's capital is Farla, known as the City of Three Rivers, standing as it does at the point where the Rivers Krist and Malawl join to form the Tredanna.

Farla itself is a noble-looking place, if small and - dare I say? - a trifle placid when compared to our own Carysfort.  Its roads are rather wider than the norm and its buildings - constructed from the green-grey rocks of the region - tend rather towards height than width, as indeed do the Otherwans themselves.  At the city's centre lies the Isle of Wharrid, home to the Royal Palace, a construction distinguished neither by size nor by taste, whose chief merit is the thickness of its walls and defensibility of its position.  The Palace was first constructed nearly Six Hundred years ago by Arbor Vulpa, the first member of Otherwhile's current ruling dynasty.  Interestingly, Vulpa is described even in the most hagiographic Otherwane texts as a "thief, gambler and inveterate drunkard".  Though this be an affront to all right-thinking persons, the common Otherwan will insist that these undisputed facts do little to distinguish Arbor I from the rulers of any other nation.  Indeed, Arbor is upheld as a great national hero and the man whose theft of "The Heart of The World" wrested rulership from the mysterious (and doubtless entirely fictive) Queens of Morn, Midday and Eve, who - according to the national myth - ruled Otherwile for the thousand years before Arbor's coming.  Even to this day it is rumoured that the eldest child of the Vulpal line must always be schooled in the criminal arts and is sent away to the notorious academies of distant Afar for this purpose.

As well as being the nation's temporal capital, Farla also houses the Great Cathedral of the Absented, perhaps the most important site of pilgrimage in all the Continent, and a University of great age and no mean renown.    But beyond all this Farla is famed for its Clock-Crafters, men and women of great skill, whose intricate mechanisms, all exquisitely cased, command the highest prices wherever they can be found.

In all, the population of Otherwhile is estimated at several hundred thousand souls.  Its chief industries - Clock-Crafting aside - are Farming, Merchantry, Silver-Mining (the mines being located on the Southern Side of the Spine of The World) and Lumbering.

In the absence of the wise imposition of sumptuary laws as in our own country, all and sundry from the highest in the land to the most meanly born are given to displaying what wealth they have through their clothes.  Brightness of colour is universally regarded as being all to the good, with strong greens and reds looked on with particular favour.

The currency of Otherwhile is founded on silver. Working from the smallest coin upwards:

Twelve Kisses = One Promise
One Hundred and Twenty Kisses = Ten Promises = Half a Wish
Two Hundred and Forty Kisses = Twenty Promises = A Wish
Two Hundred and Fifty-Two Kisses = Twenty-One Promises = A Gift*

(* this last coin is minted in gold rather than silver and approximately equivalent in value to our own Gold Warrant)

It is, all in all, a complicated and somewhat embarrassing currency in which to do trade.

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