The Queendom of Aridia, the Immortal Queendom or the Aridian Realm as many of the less long-lived races would call it, is the homeland of the Elven-kind, Capital of the High Kingdom and vault of all recorded history.
As far as anyone can remember, the Queendom of Aridia has always existed and has never changed. No textbooks or scholars can tell of a time before the High Queen sat on the Aridian Throne, or an era that the Elven civilisation wasn’t at its peak.
Due to its existence beyond the mortal races concept of time, the Aridian culture has had time to develop into three separate sub-cultures, each with their own purpose to the Aridian agenda. But only a fool would think that this divides them politically, as the Aridian cultures are more unified than the Human clans could ever hope to achieve.
Aridia has always existed. At least, that’s what any mortal man or woman would tell you. Evidence to the length of time the civilisation has influenced the world of Terra can simply be found behind their borders, as no Human or Beast Kingdom has come close to creating cities as splendorous or as sprawling as the Aridian City.
The Aridian City itself is often confused as one lone City, but is in fact the entire Queendom, split into city-sized districts. Many may walk for a month in one direction and may never see the borders of the city, let alone the Aridian Forests or the Underdark, which are equally large and sprawling.
At some point in history, long before the Humans arrived and even before the Dwarves began building their cities of technology and stone, the Old Aridian culture split into three, either due to political differences or even a growing lack of space. Old Aridian culture soon became the Highborn, the Sunless and the Wildwood, each with a distinct difference and part to play in Aridian Politics.
There were some mention of a brief war with the Dwarven kind some thousands of years before the arrival of men, but this could possibly be a myth or false history.
Time passed, the Sunless in the Underdark toiled away, the Wildwood kin forged a home in the otherwise untameable Aridian Forests, as the Highborn continued to expand the Aridian City. It was in the first moments of recorded history than the Aridians encountered the Human kind, and from their benevolence, helped them form a nation not unlike their own.
Through the work of the Highborn, the Kingdom of Avalon came to be on the outskirts of the Wildwood borders. The High Queen herself worked to create a Human nation worthy of the Aridian’s alliance, and thus began what history remembers as the Land March.
History remembers the Land March as a series of invasions, battles and wars with various Human or Beast Tribes/Nations. Perhaps the most noteworthy wars of the Land March was the subjugation of the Shogunate of the Naga, or the Unification of the Northmen Tribes under the Khota Clan. These battles saw the creation of the nations Nakata and Gautlond respectively, who went on to form the “core” civilisations of the High Kingdom, alongside Aridia and Avalon.
The Landmarch was halted by the lucrative and wealthy The Kurasian Empire and the uncontrollable Steppe Nomads. Later down the line, the Islanders joined the growing list of Nations outside the Aridian/High Kingdom’s direct control.
Overall, the Aridian Cities might be the longest standing, but not many of the non-Elven races are lucky enough to lay eyes upon the Capital, perhaps a handful of traders or extremely important Nobility will get to pass through the Aridian Forests unhindered by the defensive Wildwood, or unharmed by the Sunless.
Whilst many nations boast a wide variety of species among their culture, the Aridians are perhaps the most elitist when it comes to who gets to live in their fair cities. Mostly Elven kind, Humans are probably the only other race encountered in Aridia and even then not nearly as common as the Elves. Orcs and Dwarves are almost never likely to be seen anywhere, many unwelcome or content to live in Avalon.
Perhaps uniquely so, the Aridian people are comprised of three very distinct cultures, that very much reflects their lifestyle and purpose in the Queendom.
The Highborn are the most commonly encountered, as they dwell in the Aridian cities and travel to the other, younger nations the most often. Fair folk dressed in long robes, togas, or clad in stylish armours with plumes and cloaks, a Highborn Aridian is hard to miss and is often the centre of attention at any party. Beautiful as they are arrogant, none can turn a phrase quite like the Highborn. Diplomats and Warriors both, the Highborn are the face of the Aridians, and are often confused as the only Aridians.
The Highborn worship the High Queen as an Avatar or embodiment of the Goddess Iliakos, and despite being a ‘caste’ of Warriors and Diplomats, they are also extremely religious and pious in the name of the Ekklesian Faith. Despite this, they allow for religious differences between the other Aridian cultures and the outside realms, and their arrogance does not extend to the Aridian cultures.
The Sunless are the least encountered, but perhaps the most friendly. Although initially distrusting of those not considered their kin, once the loyalty and friendship of a Sunless Aridian has been earned, they are often considered the most welcoming, if uncomfortably so. The Great Underdark is their home, a sprawling Necropolis under the fair Aridian Cities that rivals them, and although these Aridians dress in similar clothing and armour to their Highborn cousins, the armour is often dark in design, or clothing is stained with the dirt of their mining lifestyle. To many, the Sunless beauty is a haunting one. A caste of assassins and crafters, the Sunless are not to be crossed however, and serve as the Aridian agents and spies.
The Sunless are not inherently religious, though many choose to practice the faith of the Highborn. Instead, the Sunless are very communal, forming close knit communities that work together to improve efficiency and solidarity among the sub-culture. A common practice is the introduction of a newly accepted member or individual to the entire community one at a time by a guide, or mentor. This can be time consuming.
The Wildwood are the Aridians most would not like to meet. Although garbed in stylish and ornamental leather and nature-imbued robes, the Wildwood Aridians might fool an unwary traveller into thinking them the kindest, but those that would travel through the Aridian Forests without care or respect would sooner find an arrow in their chest than an extended hand of greeting. Often sporting the woads or nature-like tattoos of their respective “tribes”, the Wildwood are anything but uncivilized and boast huge, sprawling cities in the canopy of trees. Accomplished archers and hunters, the Wildwood are deeply superstitious and zealous.
The Wildwood do not worship the Ekklesiastic Faith like the Sunless or the Highborn do, instead seeing Iliakos as an extension of nature's will. Instead, the main crux of their faith extends to the protection and maintenance of nature in general. A tradition for adulthood is when the Wildwood member takes their first clean kill on a hunt. A messy kill is considered cruel, and to many Wildwood a sign of being immature, or childish. They fear an event called “The Mistwalk”, in which Wildwood elders tell of a mysterious figure that drifts through the Forests under the cover of mists and kills all who cross its path.
Despite the wide variety of cultures in the Aridian Queendom, there exists a mild animosity between the three different lifestyles, although Aridians are generally accepting of their own kind. Overall, the Aridians favor style and flair, content to brandish their wealth and affluence to the other nations. The difference between nobility and the commoners is perhaps the smallest in the Aridian Queendom, as internally none can compare to the High Queen in the eyes of the Aridian people, and thus nobility is considered moot. Despite animosity between the three different cultures often manifesting in small grudges and minor conflict, the uniting factor of the Aridian sub-cultures is the leadership and faith in their High Queen and Goddess.