Vartanadel claims to be the eldest civilization in the known world. This belief is held close and gives their people, especially their elite, a pompous attitude towards the rest of the known world. The kingdom is ruled with a tight grip by King Korian Comeaga IV. His family has ruled since the mountains were formed without a break in the line. Very few would ever question the word of the king or his men. His word is law. The word of his men is law. To disobey could mean death.
The kingdom is rich. Old rich. Their trade and precious metals from the northern mountains is known throughout and has been around as long as the kingdom. This old money and constant trade keeps the land prosperous and allows the king to stay in power. Loyalty can be bought as needed.
They have a strong military, financed by the king and those he establishes as royalty, and a steady distrust of all foreigners. Their somewhat isolation on the peninsula allows them to be, not necessarily isolationists, but concentrate more inwardly on their preservation and continuing prosperity. All traders of certain goods are escorted by a special society of king’s men, all ships have king’s representation and others are in charge of patrolling the borders. Tourism is not encouraged and the king's men or their agents can be found most everywhere. Turning in a neighbor for treasonous thoughts for a gold piece is a common occurrence....which can also be misused.
The capital, Tanand, is a sprawling city that goes for miles in either direction. Each of the king’s favored builds their own portion of the city for their own use. Because the king’s taste is ficle, there are many areas that are destroyed and or abandoned and overtaken by commoners so the sprawl is a mish mash of beautiful estates, ruins and normal city buildings and business’.
Vartanadel has a single king of a single royal bloodline. This bloodline is whatever the king says it is. So while any Vartanadel will fight you to the death if you say that the current king is not of the original blood, in every circumstance you would be correct. Nobody cares about science or true bloodlines, if the king says his heir is of his blood, that word is irrefutable and by that word only, history is rewritten.
This is a land that history can be rewritten, powerful families of a thousand years erased from knowledge and truth accepted in the world is shunned by the people on the whim of their king. Those with the ring of Vartanadel have the power to destroy, build or change life as they know it with a word. There are only two rings known, one is worn by the king and the other is given to the head of the top royal family in the land…the top royal family that could possibly change yearly during The Naming.
Every year, the king holds a grand ceremony called The Naming. It is the main holiday that is celebrated (or feared) for all of Vartanadel as it is the day that the future of the royal families is released. The king constantly tracks the royal families (or other families of rising wealth and pursuasion) and ranks them all in their loyalty to the crown. Their ranking during the naming determines their ranking and power for the rest of that year.
It is an intricate game of favors, authority and benefits depending on where each family falls in The Naming. Those nearer the top get more privilidge and responsibility and wealth. To be near the top gives them unimaginable and unquestionable authority of most things. The higher they go the more absolute it is. However, these are also the ones that are tasked to do the king’s bidding…and have the very real possibility of failure.
Prior to The Naming there is general knowledge of how has lost the king’s favor and those that have gained it. For the highest of the families that fall only a few spots to their rivals, it may only be a small change in station and a great embarassment. For others that fall fully from the graces, and in the rare case are taken out of The Naming completely, it spells their doom and they lose all, to include their lives in most cases. The higher houses rarely play a obvious hand in the ruining of a fallen house, but they often are the directors of the smaller houses and the pillaging and destruction of the family. As soon as The Naming happens, the families given the “nod” storm the fallen royals home and do their will to erase all history of the family. Once a family has fallen, their name is stricken and nobody is allowed to mention it again. It is as if it never existed. Depending on the familie’s palace it can either be remade to house another family or completely destroyed. Much depends on the orchestration of the destruction of the new high royal families.