Where Gods Fear To Tread
“You think that I’m scared of you? I’ve faced down DOGS bigger than you! I will not bow, nor will those of my kin. For we are not just warriors. We are not just fighters. We are survivors. We have lived past rain and wind. We have lived through famine and drought. We have lived through pain and suffering. And now you come here, and you expect us to bow because you are large than we? We shall show you exactly how foolish this is.”
-Excerpt from Shellah’s famous monologue from Bent But Never Broken
A long-standing country of gladiatorial combat and impressive magic, Tephra is home to almost all of the world’s greatest martial artists. With its western borders at the shore to the Sorla Seas, it is also a haven of trade, which has been what kept Bezerel from invading before. This trade has also kept Tephra at the top of technological advancement, just ahead of Elphatal. Airships have been in development here for several decades, as new methods of improving trade. Tephra is ruled by an elected Minister, with similarly elected advisors from each social caste. The Minister is reelected every three years, and the advisors are reelected every four years.
Tephra is covered by natural defenses, with the Sorla sea to its west and south, mountains to its north, and the only easy passes leading to Elphatal to its east. Unfortunately, a lack of natural running water has left the land naturally infertile, though divine magic has gone a long way to allowing people to live there. The spontaneous creation of water, in addition to artificial fertility of soil has enabled large cities and nomadic tribes. Unfortunately, this has caused the Great Ban to wreak devastation, and the soil has returned to its previous infertility, causing widespread famine. Notably, Tephra’s holdings include a pair of small islands to its southwest, which hold excessively fertile volcanic soil. Unfortunately, these islands are also home to horrendous monsters, which has resulted in voyages to them being frequent rights of passage for young warriors.
It is highly inadvisable to underestimate the tenacity of a Tephran. They are people of hardship, and they do not shy from pain. They are known, however, to cling to notions of family and friends, for all that they tout their independence. However, such a weakness should be utilized only if it ensures victory; few things are worse than a Tephran seeking revenge.
-Excerpt from To Kill a Heretic, a controversial Bezerali text.
Alma Fazir: Reigning champion of the Tephrite arenas, Alma is known for her outstanding honor on the field of battle. She refuses to strike anyone unable to fight back, and has never refused an opponent’s surrender. It to this, as well as her unparalleled skill with a blade, that has won her the hearts of tens of thousands of spectators.
Kendra Schylo: Current presiding Minister of Tephra, she was elected to governing position a year and a half ago. In that time, she has both reinstated the prominence of arena fights, as well as redoubling efforts to locate the source of the Great Ban. Known for her cool head and pragmatism, albeit not for her kindness.
Elka Zyrn: A mechanic of remarkable prowess, he is best known for taking a steam engine when he was six years old and repairing it, when nearly no one knew what a steam engine was. Now 17, he was born after the Ban took place and therefore has no practical idea of what Divine magic is like. Regardless, he knows that the world is hurting, and he has devoted his life to repairing what he considers to be the most broken machine in the world.
Salm: The largest of the port cities, and also where the Prime Minister maintains her home, Salm is located in the far southwestern portion of Tephra. An immense variety of people come here, and a miniature version of their famous Colosseum is located here. It is considered a hub of political activity, but not the actual capital city of Tephra.
Heshta: THIS is the capital city of Tephra. Located centrally in the country, Heshta is home to the famous Colosseum, where warriors from all over the world used to gather and test their mettle. Great and powerful fighters, whether from local clans or distant lands were all equal here, until they proved otherwise. Bars, taverns, inns, and restaurants clamor over the streets, but the city itself is incredibly peaceful. Friendly fights break out rather frequently, but theft and murder are difficult in a city where the majority of the citizenry can demolish stone with their faces.
Yalg Groves: A community of hermits in the southeastern corner of Tephra, the Yalg are groves in name only; in truth, they are massive, but wholly natural, collections of stones that house a population of hermits and truthseekers, as well as incredible paragons of martial virtue. The greatest masters of the world come here to contemplate the world around them, and it is said that the holiest of truths shine here to those who are truly ready.