For thousands of years, the fantastical realm of Aria has remained untouched by the passage of time, far removed from the chaos and struggles that affect the rest of the world. Iridescent flora and verdant trees cover the landscape in brilliant colours, as vibrant as the people who call this land home. With great mountain ranges glittering with ice and snow, vast forests of green and gold, and lush meadows filled with vibrant flowers, the rolling hills of this fantastical realm are teeming with life.
A true sanctuary, Aria’s abundant resources are nurtured by the mysterious energy known as the Flow. The Flow shapes and changes the landscape as it passes, transforming mountains into valleys, and forests into plains. The energy of the Flow has created some of the most incredible scenery in all of Rathe, creating plains of constant thunderstorms, and forests of translucent fungi.
The people here are accustomed to a life of comfort, as the rich, plentiful landscape of Aria provides them with everything they could possibly need. Natural defenses and ancient magics protect the land, hiding Aria and its people from the outside world. Generations of a peaceful, carefree lifestyle have cultivated a society rich with bards, musicians, performers and entertainers; their taverns serving some of the most fantastical liquors and spirits known to man.
Yet, in recent years, Aria has experienced a transformation. The barriers that once concealed and protected Aria have begun to fracture, revealing its existence for the first time in centuries. Outlanders threaten to breach the borders and enter Aria, while the Flow has become unstable, transforming the land at an increasing rate. This once peaceful region has entered a new era of uncertainty, as its people rise up to defend their homeland from the outside world.
A True Sanctuary
For as long as humans have lived in Rathe, Aria has been a safe haven for all who call it home. The region's abundant resources and natural defenses have created an environment of peace and contentment, freed from the burdens of conflict and war.
A wild, unpredictable force of nature, the Flow shapes the landscape around it as it ebbs and flows. It shapes all of Aria, folding mountains into valleys, sculpting rivers out of stone, and shifting forests from one location to another. In areas where it is particularly strong, the Flow manifests as streaks of light across the sky, a shining array of vibrant colour high above the earth. Everything in Aria, from soil to stone to living creature, is borne of the Flow, and when their time in this world is over, they shall return to the Flow once more.
The Flow has given life to some of the most remarkable scenery in all of Rathe. A great expanse of ice, frozen solid even in the heat of summer; deep, dense forests where steam rises from crystal-clear rivers; tiers of shining waterfalls, water pink as the first light of dawn; luminescent stone formations that glitter with the light of a thousand stars.
Ethereal creatures borne of magic, fading in and out of existence based on the ebb and wane of the Flow. While they appear sentient, Cesari are mirages, mere echoes of ancient beings that once called Aria home. They appear as iridescent, semi-translucent phantoms, shimmering as they ripple through the air. Cesari can range in size from small, floating wisps that drift along with the breeze, to massive, twin-tailed creatures the size of comets, leaving streaks of vibrant light in their wake.
Folktales Across Aria
Hidden around Aria, wishing wells are almost impossible to find, though many have tried. Those who come across a wishing well usually find it by accident, drawn to the well by some unknown force. When drinking the water within, a person can make a wish, though it may not always come true in the way they expect.
These rare trees are pale and delicate, their soft, thin branches drooping so low that their leaves brush against the earth. However, each of these trees possesses a single fruit, bright red and filled with seeds. The people of Aria commonly believe that these fruits can be used to communicate with the dead.
Legend states that the oldest tree in every forest has a door hidden beneath its roots, leading to another realm. Those who enter through this door are often lost to the passage of time, emerging years later with no memory of what they saw on the other side.
The flatlands known as the Tempest Plain are plagued by perpetual thunderstorms, the earth permanently burned to a blackened crisp by sheets of lightning. Anything that dares to set foot in the Tempest Plain is immediately struck by a bolt of lightning, turning to dust in an instant.
According to legend, those who drink from the ‘eternal spring’ known as Fensalir will be healed of any injury or illness.
The Bleak Expanse
A frozen wasteland plagued by constant snowstorms, which remains all but impossible to navigate. Only one path exists through the Bleak Expanse, and any deviation will lead a person back to the point at which they started. The blinding snow and biting cold are devastatingly fatal for anyone who approaches the Expanse unprepared.
Crossing the Threshold
Occasionally, a wayward soul might find themselves transported to Aria, waking at the base of the Great Tree of Korshem. The Korshem acts a gateway, welcoming newcomers into Aria with open arms. It is said that the Flow may power the Korshem’s ability to pull others through to Aria, attracting those who seek a better life, providing a place for them to start anew.
A village is built within the branches of the Korshem, a massive tree at the heart of Aria that shelters all who live amongst its leaves. The Flow is incredibly strong around the Korshem, breathing life into everything that grows nearby. With sunlight streaming through its leaves, casting light upon the many buildings clustered around the base of the Korshem, it is a truly magical sight.
A great mountain that has watched over Larinkmorth for generations. Despite the passing of time, it remains untouched by the passage of the Flow, as if exempt from the transformations that affect the rest of Aria. Larinkmorth’s best-known liquor, Isenri Sake, is named in honour of the mountain, as its pale, icy blue colour mimics the gleaming snow of Isen’s Peak.
A small town tucked into the mountainside, Larinkmorth is surrounded by a sea of perpetual snow, peaceful and tranquil amongst the sea of white. Its taverns are a source of warmth, a place to shelter from the freezing mountain air.
People of Aria
The Flow fuels everything that grows within Aria. The plants here thrive - trees never stop producing fruit, plants grow at a rapid pace, and the creatures are docile and tame. As a result, the people of Aria are free to pursue a more relaxed lifestyle, becoming musicians, performers, entertainers or craftsmen. The people of Aria flock to the region’s abundant taverns for drinks, stories, music and entertainment, taking advantage of any opportunity for celebration or festivity.
While many people settle in villages, some choose a more nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the region. These nomads travel from village to village, pitching tents or sleeping beneath the stars. As they pass through villages, they offer help or entertainment, and the village provides for them in return.
Aria has no form of currency, as its people function on a simple bartering system based on the idea of equivalent exchange. A peaceful region abundant with natural resources, its people feel no need to hoard wealth, food or goods, readily sharing their home with others.
The Everfest Carnival
The people of Aria are never more excited than when the Everfest Carnival is near. A giant, travelling circus, the Everfest Carnival is the size of a small town, boasting hundreds of tents and attractions. The Everfest has been a staple within Aria for centuries, travelling from village to village, growing larger with every passing decade. Some of the oldest families in Aria are part of the Everfest, their ancient traditions evolving to number among the most popular Carnival acts.
One of the most well-known sectors of the Everfest is the Maela, a group of tents boasting fortune-tellers, seers, oracles, enchantresses and conjurers. Members of the Maela are known for their strange and wondrous talents, performing enchantments and acts of mystery for those with an open mind.
Another sector of the Everfest Carnival is the Valdur, known for strongman acts and their work with animals. From massive Fianna to fierce Vitre’o, these creatures are well-trained, proudly performing before crowds to rousing applause. Some of these creatures also help to transport the Carnival, using their strength to pull carts and carry goods.
Many other acts exist within the Everfest. Some, such as the Legendarium, are larger acts staged with the help of a team; others are smaller, the work of small families or individuals.
The magic of the Everfest Carnival comes from its people, those who have made a home with the travelling carnival. Some set up food stalls, weaving spools of spun sugar, making tiny handheld pastries, and hot toasted bannock; others run small bars providing unique, magical spirits and liqueurs. However, most of the Carnival belongs to its performers.
Trapeze artists flying above the audience, silk dancers weaving their way through the air, escape artists freeing themselves from chains and barrels filled with water, stunt performers who set themselves on fire and throw themselves through a maze of razor-sharp blades. Animal trainers, strongmen, fire breathers, sword swallowers, jugglers, acrobats, contortionists, jesters, harlequins, hoop divers, knife throwers, and actors recreating the legends of old.
Some stage their performances within the circus tents, whilst others perform underneath the sky, enchanting passers-by. Stilt-walkers wander through the crowds, while bards recount tales of old to enchanted audiences, and faint, ethereal music drifts through the air. Circles of tents provide a space for fortune-tellers and oracles to practice their secret arts, curtains drawn back to reveal the candlelit tables within. Illusions and displays of light weave their way through the air above, while below, the enchantresses and illusionists dance, their golden jewellery chiming with every movement.
Aria is home to a variety of unique skills, crafts and talents, unlike those anywhere else in Rathe.
While taverns are not an uncommon sight in Aria, and many have tried their hand at brewing spirits and ale, Braumeisters are among the most elite of their trade. Spirits made by a Braumeister possess unique effects, depending on the kind of spirit, the ingredients used, and the person brewing it.
The first step of any wayfarer’s training is the creation of a dowsing disc, a finely tuned instrument that allows wayfarers to read the changes in the land around them. In an ever-changing landscape, the help of a wayfarer is invaluable, as they map out new paths and discover new locations.
In an era of change, where the ancient barriers between Aria and the outside world are breaking down, defenders have risen to protect their home from outsiders. Those who break through and enter Aria with ill intentions, whether to steal or harm, will quickly find themselves at the mercy of patrolling defenders. Groups of defenders can be found travelling between villages, guarding their home and keeping an eye out for trouble.
While wayfarers can read the lay of the land, diviners learn to read the Flow itself. They can see the currents within the Flow and follow patterns to predict how the Flow will shape the world around it. Diviners are also able to follow these currents to discover where the Flow is strongest, and areas more susceptible to change.
Legend speaks of powerful shamans, capable of creating incredible spectres with a wave of their hand. Now, shamans are best known for their work within the Everfest, creating breathtaking displays by manipulating the Flow around them.
A dreamer is a person with a natural-born gift - the waking sleep, a state in which dreamers can glimpse fragments of the past, present and future. For some, visions can even come to them when fully awake, catching glimpses of what might be, and echoes of those who came before.
Tides of Change
Great barriers and magical landmarks once protected Aria from the outside world, hiding its existence from the rest of Rathe. However, after many centuries, these barriers have begun to wane, and the ancient magics that once concealed Aria’s existence from the rest of the world are failing. More and more outsiders are entering Aria in an attempt to steal from its people, weakening the land in the process.
These outlanders are clashing with the people of Aria, as they seek to strip the land of all that makes it magical. They attack anyone who dares to challenge them, taking whatever they please without a hint of remorse. Defenders and guardians have risen once more to challenge the outlanders and protect Aria from those who would harm it.
Yet even as trespassers threaten Aria’s borders, the Flow has become increasingly unstable, changing and transforming the land faster than ever before. The paths between villages are all but lost, with even the most dedicated wayfarers struggling to mark the rapid changes of the Flow. Some of the longest-standing landmarks in Aria, great mountains and magical formations that have persisted through centuries of constant change, have since been lost, pulled into the Flow’s rapid transformation.
Legend of the Exalted One
Long ago, the world of Rathe was cast in darkness, and its people cried out in fear. No plant could grow, no creature could see, and all was silent and still. And so, the Exalted One, great creator of Life, gave light to the world, plucking two stars from distant skies. One star became the sun and was placed within a chariot of radiant gold. The other became the moon and was placed within a chariot of shining silver. However, all was not yet complete.
The Exalted One gave life to two new beings, a pair of divine beings known as Badr and Asra. Bright, lively Badr was given the golden chariot, and two swift steeds of vibrant flame. Quiet, thoughtful Asra was given the silver chariot, and two gentle steeds of pale frost. At once, the twins took to the sky. The light of golden Badr brought day to the children of Rathe, a time of life and of creation. The light of silver Asra brought night, the time to rest and to recharge. Thus, the people of Rathe flourished beneath the light of the stars, and the twins have proudly fulfilled their duty ever since.
Legend of the Guardians
Long ago, when the land of Aria was surrounded by war and strife, its people were protected by the Guardians. The Guardians were blessed with a connection to an elemental, gifting them with extraordinary abilities. Through years of training, they learned to hone their abilities and transform into incredible warriors, blessed with supernatural strength and elemental skills. The Flow shaped them, moulding them into the perfect protector, tasked with guarding their people and their home.
However, as Aria entered an era of peace, and the elementals began to fade away, the ancient tradition of the Guardians disappeared along with them. Now, as their barrier between Aria and the rest of the world begins to fade, the Guardians are re-emerging, tasked with guarding Aria once more.
The creatures of Aria are incredibly diverse, fantastical and magnificent beings unlike anything found elsewhere on Rathe. Years of living in a peaceful environment have made them docile, and friendly toward most other creatures.
A majestic creature with a thick mane, crowned with a series of large crystals that grow out from the top of its skull. In addition to its dense coat, it grows large tusks on either side of its jaw.
These shy, reclusive mammals are notable for their luxurious fur. Their bodies are long and thin, with short legs and a narrow head. Their long, white fur is incredibly soft, keeping them warm in winter and cool during the summer. They shed their coats each spring along with the uppermost layer of their hide, and will grow a new coat of fur within a few days. These discarded coats are often used in clothing across Aria.
A large beast with a crystalline hide, the na’shari has skin harder than most forms of metal. In spite of its tough appearance, this creature is known for its docile and friendly nature. Its round eyes and fuzzy tail make the creature incredibly popular with children, who often flock to na’shari in hopes of playing with the creature.
These tiny, mischievous creatures are recognised by their long limbs and tails, and colourful feather crests. Meeps are usually found in the vicinity of the Everfest Carnival, travelling along with the Carnival and stealing food and shiny objects from its patrons.
These majestic creatures are tall, with long flowing tails, tough skin, and massive antlers crowning the top of their head. Fianna are often used by the Everfest Carnival for their strength and placid nature, helping to move the Carnival’s many attractions from location to location.
“One cannot visit the Everfest Carnival without encountering the meeps. Small, quick, and far too intelligent for their own good, they will quickly single out anyone not paying close attention to their belongings. A flash of blue out of the corner of your eye, and poof! They’re making off with your grandmother’s necklace. It’s not always jewellery, of course - food, potions, crystals, hats, scarves; anything small enough for them to grab. I’ve even seen one particularly ambitious meep to try to steal the dowsing disc right off a wayfarer’s arm! Above all else, there is nothing in this world that meeps love more than something shiny.”
~ Excerpt from the ‘Chronicles of Aria’ by Saga Skalda, Bard of Edda