Kyonin – Kingdom of the Elves
Kyonin at a glance:
- Government: Monarchy ruled by Queen Telandia Edasseril, the Viridian Crown
- Terrain: Mostly temperate forest, with some temperate to warm hills and mountains to the south. The highest point on Kyonin is Lightning’s Call, a mountaintop in the Five Kings Mountains range that stands 4.856 feet above sea level. The lowest point is 37 feet, where the river that supports Iadara, the Endowhar, empties into River Kingdoms territory.
- Capital: Iadara (56,340)
- Notable Settlements: Greengold (10,400)
- Languages: Elven
- Religions: Calistria, Desna, Findeladlara, Kethephys, Nethys, Yuelral
- Imports: Gems, silver, and mithral
- Exports: Magic, luxuries, and wine
A sovereign nation and a racial homeland, Kyonin bears the strengths and stresses of this double duty willingly. Elves lived in the Fierani Forest within Kyonin before such names even existed, and when the elves returned to Golarion in 2632 AR, only the villainous refuted their claims to their ancient home – and few refuted them for long.
The land of Kyonin itself is a natural paradise, though not always a pastoral one – nature can be both beautiful and deadly, and the elves would have it no other way. Even the wild plants grow in a particularly elven way, while the cultivated ones are unearthly in beauty and function. Certainly, problems exist: The demon Treerazer has rooted himself deeply in the southern end of the forest, creating the festering and evil swamp known as Tanglebriar, and Kyonin’s political landscape is as treacherous as the physical one for those unused to its ways. But for elves and their honored guests, Kyonin is a serene rest from the fast-paces, human-dominated world.
Like a groaning dam, Kyonin barely holds its borders against the modern flood of humanity on Golarion. The standard elven policy of isolationism is proving less effective as it once was. As the elves attempt to reclaim their place on the quick-moving, violent new world of Golarion, many feel that new tactics are needed, though few agree on what exactly these tactics are.
At its height, Kyonin was an exquisite garden. Not in any way that humans would understand – to outsider’s eyes, the Fierani Forest was a thick and tangled wood, chaotic and menacing. Yet elven beauty is rarely defined by neat and orderly rows. To the elves, nature untouched is a continually unfolding mosaic of life, far more creative than even the most gifted elven artist, and where changes were necessary for the formation of settlements, creatures easily capable of outliving trees need only do the slightest pruning to see the forest grow in accordance with their needs. Life and magic thrummed in every living thing. The coming of Treerazer’s corruption changed that, and though the demon has long since been contained in the Tanglebriar, many are the elves who are just now beginning the process of subtly reshaping their ancestral homeland into its former glory.
Villages and small farming communities network across Kyonin, but many former settlements remain empty due to slow population growth. Two major cities have been rebuilt since the elves’ return, others are being scouted and restored, and the rest are still unoccupied – by elves, at least. Greengold serves as a large trading post where elves hold a live experiment on coexisting with humans. In fact, humans run this town under scrutiny of the Queen’s Scryers. Iadara, Kyonin’s capital, lies in layers of illusion and mists, hidden from non-elven eyes. From here, the elven Queen holds her court, guiding nature’s and elven growth from afar. Omesta, one of the elves’ lost cities has been taken over by gnomes and stays under their control.
In addition to thick trees and rolling fields, Kyonin is fairly littered with ruins: monuments, fountains, sculptures, orreries, and menhirs of unknown meaning and function even to the elves. Most are severely weather-beaten; many are also weapon-beaten from the humans who raged through tehe land during the elves’ absence. The elves have little taste for stonework, and repairing or even exploring these ruins is outside the interest of the queen and her court; this generally includes allowing anyone else to look at them.
Scattered in clearings across Kyonin – and across all of Golarion – stand sculpted stone arches, known as elf gates. The elves shudder to hear their aiudara referred to as mere “gates”, but accept the name good-naturedly. These arches are sculpted with elven and sylvan imagery and most lie dormant and inoperative since the elves’ exodus thousand years ago. With the proper keys, these gates can move people and materials instantly across vast distances by simply passing through the space under the arch.
Monarchs around the Inner Sea are rightly concerned about these powerful arches. An active elf gate network would allow the controller to move armies across the globe in an eye-blink. Humans have puzzled over the gates’ operation since the elves’ departure, but few have ever plumbed their mysteries. In fact, most of the keys to the gates’ operation and their destinations have been forgotten by even the long-lived elves themselves, prompting several elven adventuring companies to roam the world looking for clues and lore.
Different gates have different means of opening. It is generally believed a short ritual is required to activate an elf gate, at which point the stone gate lights up from within and the space between the arches distorts to show another vista. Possible keys include passwords, music, keystones, spells, specific times of operation or a combination of different keys.
Other notable places in Kyonin are the Fireani Forest, which covers most of Kyonin; the Sovyrian Stone, through which the elves remain connected to their hidden realm; and the Tanglebriar, a twisted and corrupted swamp in southern Fireani Forest where the demon Treerazer remains trapped by elven magic.
Luxuries within Kyonin are many and splendid. The largest resource is exotic lumber, with hardwoods unseen elsewhere on Avistan. Other plants, some with medicinal or recreational value, sprout readily in Kyonin soil, but do not seem cultivatable outside the Fierani (see Fierani Forest for some unique magical herbs). Kyonin has a variety of wildlife, including abundant fishing in their territorial water, but no domestic livestock or mineral resources.
Disorientation is a frequent threat to outsiders in Kyonin. Several different kinds of plants exude fragrances which can cause confusion and dizziness for those unaware of their power. Predatory plant creatures tend to live in close proximity to these flowers.
Due to the prevalence of Calistria worshipers, wasp nests are never disturbed in Kyonin, and several unnaturally large breeds of wasps lair in undisturbed glens across the kingdom, which the elves simply laugh about and do their best not to provoke. Most troublesome are the vicious skullwasps, hand-sized insects that attack one target to the suicidal exclusion of any other consideration. Killing wasps in Kyonin is considered bad form, but tolerable in the case of self-defense.
The elves of Kyonin would like to be good neighbors with the humans living around them, with the key word being “neighbors” – the desire to live intermixed with humanity is relatively slim for most non-Forlorn elves. Despite their huge leap forward in civilization over the last few thousand years, humans still have a ways to come before their bizarre panoply of religions and government has any hope of matching elven refinement. As a result, the elves’ natural tendency toward isolationism continues to hold sway in Kyonin, and its closed borders are patrolled with deadly effectiveness by wraith-like bands of rangers.
Andoran: The elves find the Andoran’s beloved philosophies acceptable and admirable, but their zeal can be off-putting. Still, as the elves’ most respectful and lucrative human trading partner, Andoran holds a position of honor with the elves, and most diplomats allowed into Kyoinin are of Andoren nationality. In return, the elves regularly send out their youngest diplomats to be liaisons with the fledgling democracy, as young elves generally have more patience for, and acceptance of, human temperaments. This practice frequently results in more apolitical “liaisons” as well.
Druma: The Kalistocracy’s obsession with baubles remains a mystery to the elves, but few on either side of the border do much to understand the others’ ways. During the elves’ long absence from Golarion, Druma took advantage of the bounty within Kyonin, and was significantly inconvenienced when the Fair Ones returned and refused to allow hunters and loggers within their borders. After a few light clashes of arms, following which the corpses of Druma’s soldiers were hauled home in arrow-festooned carts, the Kalistocracy settled in to wait for the elves to make a false move – a cold war that shows no time of ending any time soon.
Galt: Rivers north and east drain into an effective mob-stopper along Kyonin’s Galtan border – crossing a wide river requires more forethought than a spontaneous invasion can muster. Meanwhile, the elves resolutely claim high ground inside the mountainous edge of their borders, preventing damage to their beloved forest. However, madmen and ideologues on their other borders are easier to fire on than harried wretches from Galt, and the refugee camps on Galt’s side of the river have many elves’ sympathy – so long as the refugees don’t attempt to cross.
Razmiran: If Kyonin’s standoffish relationship with Druma is a cold war, its interactions with Razmiran is a hot one. Left to their own devices, the elves would be content to let the silliness surrounding Razmir, the “Living God”, burn itself out – something that shouldn’t take long, as elves measure time – but Razmiran proves unwilling to let such blasphemy stand, and border clashes between the two are common as Razmiran aggressively attempts to steal goods and land from the relatively small numbers of Kyonin elves.
The River Kingdoms: Once upon a time, knaves in tin crowns often marched out of the River Kingdoms to treat with Kyonin’s queen. To a man, all were greeted courteously, and just as courteously refused audience with her majesty. This caused understandable resentment among warlords and bandit kings searching for legitimacy, and several attempted to prove their importance through shows of force. Much the same as with Druma, the resulting bloodbaths were overwhelmingly destructive for the invaders, but unlike the Kalistocracy, the River Kingdoms took the lesson to heart. Stories abound within the kingdoms’ borders of the pointy-eared forest demons and their wicked arrows, of the forest itself turning on all those not of elven blood and tearing them apart. With rare exceptions, people from the River Kingdoms give Kyonin a wide berth.
Iomedaean Crusaders: The waterways skirting Kyonin’s eastern border make up one of the primary routes for crusaders and pilgrims heading north to the Worldwound to combat the unholy forces arrayed there. Having had their own problems with demons, the elves are generally supportive of the crusader’s efforts, though elven warriors make it abundantly clear that the support doesn’t extend to allowing the travelers to land on their shores – under any circumstances.
The Five Kings Mountains: The dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains have long been loosely allied with the elves of Kyonin, trading with them and sharing much of their suspicion of humanity. Though they view the Tanglebriar, which approaches their own mountain territory, as a failing on the elves’ part, on the whole they’re too busy with their own affairs to concern themselves overmuch with the Fair Ones, and relations remain friendly, if distant.
Lake Encarthan: In a lake brimming with vessels, the elves guard their slim maritime rights aggressively. Elven sharpshooters and water elemental wizards keep a firm grip on territorial waters. Warships from Molthune and the Living God’s mission barges from Razmiran are summarily rejected, though more peaceful ships of all nations are allowed to dock in Greengold daily.
Merchants, diplomats,a nd the merely curious are welcome in Greengold, so long as they obey the rules and the town’s overseers believe there is something to be gained from their presence. The country’s interior, and especially its forest, is open only to elves or specially invited guests of the crown. Seemingly ignorant trespassers are given one stern warning and explicit directions to Greengold. All others are shot on sight.
Although the elves of Kyonin do not generally condone slavery, what non-elves do to each other is hardly their concern, even within their borders. Slavery is tolerated within Greengold, though slave trading is not. Elf slaves who reach Kyonin’s borders are unconditionally freed, and woe betide any master who attempts to reclaim them inside the elven nation.
People and Life in Kyonin
Kyonin is the largest gathering of elves anywhere on Avistan or Garund. Elves are varied in attitude and outlook as any other race. Kyonin elves generally speak Elven and expect those of other races within their borders to do the same, though extensive education means that most are familiar with Common as well, and possibly Sylvan and a half-dozen other languages besides.
No formal census exists for Kyonin, and the elves would laugh at any one who tried. While Kyonin’s population has steadily climbed since the elves’ return from Sovyrian, the natural elven birthrate and limited immigration sees Kyonin still far short of its pre-exodus population, and numerous settlements around the nation lie fallow, usurped by other races, or maintained by a shadow of their former citizenry.
Queen Telandia Edasseril, bearer of the Varidian Crown, holds court in her elaborate, glistening palace in the center. The queen rules alone and resolute, though she relies on a coterie of advisers (not all of whom are elves, or even humanoids) to keep her abreast of current events. Her most controversial policy is that of breaking the elves’ ongoing isolationism. To traditional elven thinking, they have only been back for a little over two millenia and are still trying to solve all of their internal issues. Many of her advisers feel the elves’ numbers are too few to branch out and believe caution is paramount in returning to old haunts. The queen agrees that their numbers are low but feels that this is altogether a reason to integrate elven society with that of the younger races around them, and to make elven influence felt. In this, she is supported by many progressive – and often younger – elves eager to retake their former holdings, ushering in another age of elven ascendancy.
The Kyonin legal system is quasi-feudal, with nobles retaining rights to legislation and enforcement. The queen issues a small number of edicts which elves are honor-bound to obey, mainly concerning simple laws governing a civil society. No more fastidious a legal system could be expected by the mercurial elves, nor could one be enforced. Most modern Kyonin settlements are small enough that everyone knows everyone else, and problems are solved informally, often indirectly through social pressure. However, each lord or mayor has the authority to make and enforce laws as necessary. Local military is under the joint control of civil and military leaders. Elven leaders are trusted to make good decisions for the community. Abuse of power is rare, but debilitating when it occurs. Appeals are possible but frowned upon.
The percentage of elven population that is interested in working and trading to others is small, driving up demand for exquisite, expensive elven goods and creating a rich but fragile economy. Kyonin’s agriculture is central to its isolated well-being. The nation cannot become dependent on an outside supplier for any necessity, and thus, no elf fails to participate in growing something, even if it’s just an act of impromptu gardening. In this way, elves maintain an abundance of grains, fruit, and leafy vegetables year-round, enough to feed Kyonin and occasionally export delicacies to their neighbors at extravagant prices. The human concept of industry is unknown in a land where everything is crafted or grown as a loving work of art. Though Kyonin’s output is significantly less than its neighbors, the elves maintain comparable wealth thanks to high demand for their quality products, especially their magic items. Kyonin is known – through trade as well as war – for their alchemically and magically treated arrows. Elven craftwork is highly sought after by members of other races, and Kyonin silversmiths are the finest in the Inner Sea.
Only dirt roads run inside the borders of Kyonin, and even those are rare, making wagon travel slow and laborious. A marked track winds between Greengold and Iadara, while smaller but well-kept paths wind from village to village throughout the Fierani Forest. Only one major river, the Endowhar, flows through Kyonin, away from Iadara. However, where possible on smaller rivers, elves use boats to move goods about. When traveling by themselves, many prefer the trackless forest. The elves also have aiudara in key locations around the forest, but take pains to keep their existence and locations secret – even from each other. This allows the queen and her court freedom to move militia troops quickly, appearing more numerous and watchful against incursion.
Due to low number and thin resources, elves forgo the formation and upkeep of a standing army in favor of a well-armed, committed militia. More than half of Kyonin’s residents are militia members, irrespective of age, sex, or vocation. Perhaps only a third of the militia serves at any given time, but duty is rotated frequently. Thanks to pervasive illusion magic, practiced guerrilla tactics, vigilant leadership, and a deadly reputation among the surrounding nations, Kyonin has little to fear from military aggression. The general sentiment among its residents is that humans couldn’t even mange to conquer the land when elves weren’t in residence, and a sufficient number of arrows flying from nigh-invisible archers panics even hardened armies.
Sources: Pathfinder Companion Elves of Golarion