The Kingdom of Avalon, or the Land of Lions, is one of the most prominent nations within the High Kingdom and the one of the more prestigious and well known supporters of the High Queen. Hailing from the lush green lands of Avalon, bordering the Aridian Forests of the Elven-kind, the Avalonians consider themselves the ‘First Humans’ to be influenced by their Elven neighbours and their culture reflects a lot of similarities and imitation.
On the face of it, Avalon is often considered the most noteworthy of the Human civilisations, as the surcoats of their Knights and Infantry often form the bulk of the High Kingdom’s armies. Their Knights, Lords, Ladies and Heroes are often held up as paramounts of Honor and Integrity, but many Avalonians know the true power lies in Politics and Intrigue.
Overall, the Avalonian armies are oft not considered as dangerous as their Lords, Ambassadors and Diplomats. Any discussion or meeting of power will often have an Avalonian representative in the mix, and although the Kingdom of Avalon’s power lies in its political sway and influence, the Knights and Infantry of its realm are not to be underestimated in combat.
Avalon is generally accepted as being the ‘cultural’ center of Terra after the creation of the High Kingdom and as such developed quickly alongside their Elven Neighbors. The Kings and Queens of Avalon, under the guidance of the High Queen of the Elves, forged a lasting Kingdom and contributed to many minor wars with other pockets of human civilization, unifying and creating many different nations that would eventually form the remaining Factions that exist today.
Avalon was formed when the budding nation, ruled by a single “petty” King began expanding into the then-unknown lands of the Aridian Forests. A bitter war broke out between the unknown Wildwood Aridians and the Avalonians, the latter desecrating the former’s sacred grounds. Time and time again the fledgling nation would be driven back from the Forests, only to come back more advanced and industrial each time. Weapon designs would be stolen from the Aridians, and the more resources that were thrown at the Aridians, the quicker they would adapt and improve to return and try again.
The Avalonians rapidly developed through warfare, and soon a proud nation stood where a petty one once sat. The Highborn, learning of the Wildwood plight finally left the Aridian Cities for the first time in recorded history and gazed upon their would-be rivals, and saw them wanting. The Avalonians in return began to revere the progress of the Aridians, and soon war made way for diplomacy.
The Avalonians were an adaptive culture. They developed warfare as skilled as the Highborn, hunters and rangers as well as the Wildwood and assassins and spies as well as the Sunless in just a few thousand years. Both concerned and fascinated with the developing nation, the Highborn began teaching the Avalonians the art of diplomacy, something they took to the easiest out of everything, for theirs was already a politically strife culture.
The Aridian Kingdom began to see a need to leash the Avalonians, for although they often tasted defeat in open warfare, anything less than a complete victory for their opponents saw the Avalonians adapt incredibly quickly and return in force. Their strength was in a cunning and almost sinister diplomacy, one that even rivaled that of the Highborn themselves. Whereas a Highborn was often expected to adhere to a strict moral compass, the Avalonians had no such qualms and nothing was off limits to achieve their goals.
The Land March, a historical event that saw the Avalonian and Aridian forces wage war on all other cultured civilisations is both accredited as the best and worst thing Avalon ever initiated. Although an act of power hungry desire to expand their borders further, the initial campaign in turn created the Nations known to this day like the Gautlonders and the Nakatans.
The Kingdom of Avalon also claims to be the first Kingdom to join the Elves in the creation of the High Kingdom, though this is heavily disputed by the Gauts and no definitive answer has ever been given by the Aridians.
Generations of Kings and a handful of Queens from Avalon have married the immortal High Queen of the Elves, and as such have always had a dominant hand in the politics of the High Kingdom throughout known and documented history. As such, a long list of commanders, heroes and noble lines from Avalon have all had hands in the development of the High Kingdom, and carry a lot of prestige diplomatically as a result.
Avalonian culture is arguably the most prominent culture among Humans within the High Kingdom and beyond, and thus is considered the “norm.” Despite the Avalonians having the same ideals of beauty, craftsmanship and style of the Aridian Elves, their craftsmanship is often considered a crude but fair attempt at imitation. Where Elven designs are dainty and fantastical, Avalonians create more practical, durable creations. As such the Kingdom has developed its own more rugged style over thousands of years, though heavily influenced by the Elves.
Ruled by a King and Queen, the population of Avalon consists predominantly of Humans, but it is not uncommon for Elves to live among the people, particularly Elves from the Aridian forests, who live on the outskirts of Avalon’s borders anyway. Many other races thrive in Avalon, but only the Elves and Humans have a chance at getting ahead. Avalon is split into four regions, or provinces, each controlled by a Duke or Duchess. Each province is further divided into three to five counties, each controlled by an Earl who serves their liege lord. It is up to the discretion of each Earl to award portions of their land to aspiring Barons/Baronesses, but each Earl can only control a maximum of five Barons. Any wealthy or prominent citizens can purchase the noble title of “Lord”, though this title carries little more than minor prestige. Knights are as unlimited in number as a Noble can reasonably sustain, though there are self styled Errant Knights who simply serve the Avalonian ideals and Nation as their own master.
The Noble elite rule the nation of Avalon. However these nobles are chosen by merit of their action and the support of their peers. It is not assumed that one will inherit their parent’s title and/or land just because they are their offspring (although this is often the case), and often even the lowliest peasant can climb the social ranks to Nobility. The idea around this is to ensure that all adhere to the principles of the Nobility and that the strongest families rule the nation. All children born of Nobility of the title of Baron or higher are assumed to be a Knight until they earn another title; often that of their parents when they die.
Any citizen who is paid for their trade or service in the Kingdom is often referred to as a Freeman. Freemen form the majority of the Avalonian populace and with basic rights comes a comfortable life. Mercenaries, Tailors, Blacksmiths as examples all form part of the Freeman “caste”. However, those below the Freeman are called Bondsmen, and are those born in servitude or have since lost their original status and have become an indentured servant to either one of the Nobility or a Freeman. Once a Bondsman it is very hard to get out and normally requires either the good-will of your ‘betters’ or something of note to make you stand out above the rest.
Avalonian culture is unfortunately sexist however. An inherently patriarchal society in direct conflict with their matriarchal allies the Aridians, why or where this mentality came about in Avalon is unsure, however by now it is heavily ingrained into the culture of the people, and many women actually accept their lot in life. However it is not uncommon for women to get ahead like their male counterparts; since the society of Avalon is generally expected to reward merit, women can sometimes, though rarely, be awarded prestige for their efforts in war and politics.