April 12th, 2009
Photoshop and drawingtablet
WARNING: There's a huge wall of text coming up!
Over a millennia ago, in the age of legends, the land of Ethara was invaded by the Dark Lord, Mogranos, who killed the good king of Ethara and drove the royal family into exile. The immortal Dark Lord filled the land with his minions, erected his evil citadel, and ruled Ethara with an iron fist.
All this changed when almost 200 years later a band of four heroes appeared at the borders of Ethara. They were your standard group of heroes: a human prince, seeking to reclaim his throne, a dwarven warrior, an elven archer and a wizard. After bravely facing Mogranos' hordes of evil monsters, they came to face the Dark Lord himself, and, after a long, fierce battle they overcame him. Mogranos barely escaped alive, and the throne was restored to the royal house of Ethara.
And this is where the tale would normally have ended, with the good prince and his noble companions living out their lives happily and peacefully, until the day of their deaths. And the throne would once again have passed on from king, to prince, just as it had always done in the days of old.
But this is not how it went...
You see, as it turned out, the prince and his companions were not particularly good statesmen. During his neigh 200-year reign, Mogranos had proven himself to be a surprisingly competent ruler. Especially considering that he was a Dark Lord; Dark Lords tend to not be particularly concerned with the well-being of their people. Under his rule, Mogranos had practically rebuilt Ethara's infrastructure. He had also been responsible for providing the Etharians with better health care, social welfare and better educations. The army was stronger, the police system more effective and the economy was booming. Mogranos had even given each province a degree of democratic autonomy (mostly because he thought that ruling the entire realm by himself was tedious and boring; he preferred to let others do this for him).
Under the reign of the new prince, to whom this type of government was completely alien, the provinces lost their autonomy. The people soon lost their confidence in their new ruler, and the economy started to crumble. Eventually, total anarchy set in, and the Etharians, who were backed up by the army, rebelled against the prince and his comrades. They were tossed out of the country, and Mogranos was invited back onto the throne.
And so, for the first time in history, a country willingly subjected itself to the rule of a Dark Lord, because he apparently made a better ruler than any mortal ever could...
Mogranos himself had mixed feelings about the whole thing. Back when he had still been a mortal man, his only desire was to gain immortality and to conquer a land to call his own. This, however, was not exactly how he had envisioned accomplishing that goal. After being reinstalled on Ethara's throne, he became increasingly perplexed by the adoring attitude of the Etharians. At first he thought it was rather amusing, but he soon got to the point of mostly being annoyed by it.
Mogranos continued to rule Ethara for many centuries (being immortal and all that). He has spent most of that time trying to figure out why exactly these people were so fond of him. Intelligent as he was, it didn't take him long to figure out that the Etharians were happy with the way he ruled the country. Unlike most rulers, who tend to have their own agendas, Mogranos actually does things for his country when they need to be done. Initially, he did so out of a sense of logic, rather than actually caring for his people. For instance, building good roads was beneficial, because they could be used to quickly march armies point A to point B. Providing good health care for the people, ensured that they stayed happy and healthy, so that they could work harder.
It was these things that made the people love him, and this is why Mogranos had been brought back from exile. While he was happy to rule again, he was worried about how this would affect his image. After all, a Dark Lord should be hated and feared. So in the early days of his reinstallment, he decided to drop all his responsibilities and stop governing the country. He hoped that he would once again be hated, if people saw what a sloppy ruler he had become. But the Etharians interpreted this differently; they figured he needed a vacation and the highly effective provincial government, which Mogranos himself had set up, completely took over his duties. When Mogranos saw that his plan had failed, he was at a loss, and eventually decided that more drastic measures were required. He went on a murderous rampage and butchered an entire village, hoping to shock the country back into submission. This plan backfired as well, when it was discovered that the murdered villagers had in fact been evil cultists, planning on killing many innocent people. All of a sudden, Mogranos was a justice dispensing hero, who had just saved the entire country from certain doom.
At this point, Mogranos gave up and settled into his strange role. Many centuries later, during the lives of Hemos, Keena and the others, Mogranos still rules Ethara. He is still highly venerated, despite being a Dark Lord. He is not a main character in whatever story I may write about these characters, but a minor one. Whatever will be the plot of this story, it will certainly NOT entail Keena & Co trying to defeat Mogranos. Just like all the other Etharians, they think he is a great ruler.
As a character, Mogranos is an eight foot tall powerful warrior, clad in decorative armor. He is immortal, but looks like a pale human male in his mid-fifties. He is also powerful in the ways of magic, and he specializes in the dark arts (of course). Mogranos is intelligent, and an excellent strategist. However, he hardly sees any action these days, as he spends most of his time on his throne in his citadel, trying to look evil and foreboding. He often appears on tv, to make state announcements in his booming voice.
Mogranos hates his current situation, and wishes he wasn't the Dark Lord anymore. It's not just because he doesn't get the respect he was looking for in his younger days; Ethara's burocracy is also driving him nuts. For instance, he is expected to keep up his 'evil image' at all times, by wearing his armor almost all the time, even during hot summers. He is also expected to sit on his stone throne all the time, while being filmed by camera crews. This is mostly for propagandistic purposes, but it robs him of his privacy and Mogranos' back is killing him.
Despite all of this, though, it seems that years and years of being surrounded by adoring followers have made Mogranos a bit softer. Although he will never admit it, the Etharians have grown on him.
The current state of Ethara:
Ethara is currently the largest and most powerful country on the entire continent, and one of the world's super powers. Mogranos managed to subdue the neighboring countries through warfare, or by intimidating them into signing peace treaties. The country has now been at peace for several centuries, and its economy has continued to grow. Ethara is therefore one of the wealthiest states, and it also possesses a powerful army. Its education is of excellent quality as well. Ethara is also known for its technological prowess. The first man to land on the moon, was of course an Etharian. Technology-wise, Ethara (and the rest of the world, to some degree) is about as advanced as our world is today. However, in the world of Ethara, technology can be further enhanced using magic.
Ethara is divided in 37 different semi-autonomous provinces, each with its own democratically elected governments. They take care of most of the essential governmental tasks, such as maintaining the infrastructure. The Dark Lord is the undisputed head of the state. There is a parliament, which takes care of a good deal of the nation's politics. Mogranos installed it himself, in the hope that the people would realize that they didn't need him as their ruler anymore. Centuries of being adored and venerated, have made him rather lethargic, and instead of trying to bully his underlings into fearing him again, Mogranos now just tries to escape from having to be the ruler of Ethara. He even made Ethara into a democratic state. Elections are held every six years or so, and every time Mogranos hopes someone else will be elected to take his place. Every time he ends up winning the elections with about 90% of all the votes. Since it now seems as if Mogranos will probably remain the ruler of Ethara until the end of time, he spends a good deal of his time trying to regain his mortality, hoping that death will finally set him free.
Demographically, Ethara is among the most diverse countries of the world. Roughly 60% of the population is human. The other 40% consists of all sorts of humanoid species, such as centaurs, fauns, elves, dwarves, gnomes, minotaurs, goblins, orcs, trolls, wolfmen, iguarii, harpies, and many, MANY more. The Dark Lord's own minions have also become integrated into Ethara's society. Vampires, zombies, gargoyles and other monsters are not uncommon, and lead their own lives just like any other creature.
Ethara's police system is as effective as always, which is part of the reason why all the species are able to coexist in relative peace. The army consists of not only the Dark Lord's own minions, but also contains a large number of other humanoid species who willingly signed up. Ethara also boasts a number of independent military institutions, including the ancient paladin Order of the Golden Foot (see if you can figure this one out), which Ganelon wants to join so desperately. The order is dedicated to rooting out evil, but ironically it is also absolutely loyal to the country and its Dark Lord.
Ethara's foreign politics are somewhat strained. Most countries fear Ethara and will therefore avoid conflict at any cost. However, some countries are openly making threats now. In most of the foreign countries, there exists a propaganda campaign to present Ethara as an evil land, crawling with vile monsters. Most foreigners who visit the country, are surprised to find it a green, friendly looking place, with large lively cities, peaceful little villages and very happy inhabitants.
That about sums it up for now...
NB. Although this is not acknowledged by the Etharian government, Mogranos has recently gone missing, and a large search party has been set-up to find him.
Oh, and Mogranos' current design probably isn't final yet, just so you know. I'm not particularly happy with it yet.
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