El Nido is the smallest sovereign nation in the Gate Dimension. It is comprised of a number of small island republics that are joined together in a limited confederate government. Throughout its history, El Nido has been conquered, controlled or dominated at various times by the larger powers of Gate (but especially Porre and Guardia).
As I close my eyes
A vision of that Golden Emblem,
Withstanding even the most
Comes back to life.
Oh, Glorious Days,
Come back to me
El Nido is an island archipelago off the southern coast of Porre. Consisting of a few large islands, and a plethora of smaller ones, El Nido bears the distinction of being Gate's smallest nation, as well as its most racially diverse. Only with the close of the Cleansing Wars have the Nidoans found the need to become more involved in Web affairs.
Humans are the largest population, though a number of native humanoid races are also present and, combined, outnumber humanity by quite a bit. The human populations are mostly descended from immigrants from the Zenan continent; the oldest families on the islands trace their roots back only as far as the early age of the Kingdom of Guardia, coming south and to the islands with the failed Guardian Church's missionaries.
The native races of El Nido are swamp dwarves, goblins, fairies, merfolk, beebas, fossickers and demi-humans. In times past, each race had established homogenous strongholds on one of the islands, and racial strife prevented El Nido from presenting a strong defense against invasion. It was a second wave of human settlement from Zenan in the late 10th century that first brought a strong central government to El Nido, through the military hierarchy of Acacia.
Though some races lay stronger claims to some islands, today the prevailing attitude in El Nido is one of inclusion and unity, and the races generally tend to move freely from island to island. Which is not to suggest that all vestiges of racial conflict have been effaced from the islands; but things are better now than they have been.
Religion has shaped the fortunes of El Nido; indeed, its history would be incomplete without mention of this religion or that. At the same time, the island's rulership is very secular. This is born from necessity: a secular rulership, established and enforced without the blessing or invocation of any religion, keeps religion from becoming a force of contention within the islands. In practice, this does not always work: the Dragoons who sit at the top of Acacia's military government often invoke the name of the Fire Dragon, Pyreen, in their public addresses, and this does cause some tension. But on paper, the government as set up is a secular one.
Draconicism, the worship of the Six Dragon Gods, is by far the most prevalent faith, and the closest that El Nido has to a state religion. Still, Draconicism has no established clerical hierarchy in El Nido, and the tenets of the religion itself vary from island to island. Most inhabited islands claim one of the six Dragon Gods as a patron or protector deity; gatherings of shamans and clerics minister to the communities of these islands and offer praises to a given island's patron dragon, according to traditions and rituals established individually on each island. The one exception to this rule is Guldove, where an informal theocracy exists alongside the secular Governor's administration. The Shaman of Guldove makes offerings to all six Dragon Gods, claiming none is superior to the others. At the same time, the tone of Guldovan worship is such that the Dragon Gods are treated more as vengeful elemental spirits than personified deities. The worship style of Guldove is more appeasing than praising. To ask a priest of Guldove what the virtues of the Dragon Gods are, is to be answered thusly: the Dragon Gods have no virtues. They are capricious elemental forces that must be cajoled and bribed and appeased. They offer no favors, grant no mercy; they are as much mankind's enemy as an earthquake, a storm, or a tidal wave. But like fire, water, stone and even wild animals, these forces can be tamed and mankind can live in harmony with them.
The worship of Fate is more enigmatic and secretive. For ages, Fate's faithful have endured near cult status in El Nido, never quite able to make their presence more strongly felt. This is due, in part, to the decentralized clerics of the Dragon Gods, who actively work to suppress the worship of Fate. What does Fate represent? What is Fate's divine aspect, the tenets of its religion? And of what character is the Goddess of Fate herself? Few are aware of these things, but put simply, Fate is a deity of Time. She represents the infinite possibilities and potentials of the Timestream, and in addition calls herself a patron of Humanity in Gate. She is opposed to the spread of Draconicism, and to the Dragon Gods themselves. She is responsible for splitting the One God into the Six Gods, and did so in order to protect humanity -- or so the faithful say.
Vodoun (also known as Voodoo) is a sorcerous shadow-magic religion which originated on the far eastern island of Malcovia. There are no priests of Vodoun; at least, not in the sense that you have an elite class of devotees who lead in worship. All practicioners of Vodoun are, in a sense, priests, in that they are capable, to one extent or another, of working Voodoo magical effects. Practicioners are adept at curses, clairvoyance, prognostication, and necromancy. Outsiders view the Malcovian religion with a great deal of suspicion, and as such Vodoun has not spread very far off the island, though some practicioners do exist in other places where Shadow magic is prevalent (the El Nido island of Marbule, for one, as well as some parts of Medina).
One would be remiss not to mention the worship of SnibSnob, the God of Democracy and Fertility worshipped by the Goblins of Goborva. This religion is small, but has a lock on the populace of Goborva; the Goborvans exclusively worship the mighty SnibSnob, in all of his triumphant fecundity, along with his multitudinous pantheon of children spawned with an uncountable number of wives (it is said that the Priests add new gods to the Pantheon every couple of years, as a testament to SnibSnob's ever-waxing verility).
In addition, there are small but closely-knit enclaves of Spekkio and Magus worshippers in El Nido. The Magus' faithful have focused their attention on the island of Marbule, whose history shares many things in common with the nation of Medina. Spekkio's priests, however, are almost exclusively found on Acacia, where they seek converts among the ranks of the Dragoons.
El Nido is the poorest nation in Gate, but even given this the Nidoans are fairly well-off. Communal living on some of the poorer islands (Guldove, Marbule and Malcovia) has left the tiny country with a sense for group survival, and so the economic model for Nidoans could be something along the lines of "share and share alike."
However, trade is still important. While residents of a single island will share their resources with one another, trade and barter between the islands keeps El Nido vital, as goods and materials are moved from island to island. By far the greatest concentration of wealth in El Nido is on the island of Acacia, especially in the Nidoan capital of Termina, where folk tend to live at least as well as in some of the larger cities of Gate. Termina is where the bulk of foreign trade is done; where exports leave the islands and imports come in. As such, the Terminans generally get the first pick of foreign goods, disseminating the leftovers to the other islands by way of intra-Nidoan trade ships.
A recent boon to El Nido is the discovery of submarine deposits of magilyte in the Dead Sea -- the only known deposit of the mineral in all of the Gate Dimension. The Acacian government has secured these deposits, and now the goal is to begin to sell magilyte to an energy-starved Web, earning El Nido a place of significance in the international community (if falling a bit shy of the place held by its larger neighbors, Guardia and Medina).
Laws vary wildly from island to island. There are very few laws that are passed and enforced throughout El Nido by the central authority in Acacia; most laws are devised and employed locally by the individual islands. They range from the near anarchist communal freedom of Guldove, to the quasi-fascist dictatorship of Marbule and the growing free-market urban sprawl of Acacia.
The Acacian military government, which has become the government for the whole of El Nido, is a knighthood of mounted elites called Dragoons. Supreme executive power rests in the hands of a General, who is advised in turn by four lieutenants who bear the rank of Deva. One among the Devas is ranked above the other three; this First Deva is the General's immediate successor.
Though the General commands El Nido's defense forces and, in theory, rules without any checks to his power, each island, in turn, has its own Governor, which is selected by each island's populace by a method unique to each island. Some islands hold elections, while others hold contests or races; Marbule is the only island whose Governorship is inherited, passed from the Governor to a chosen successor. The Governors of the islands meet in council in Termina once a month, or more often if there is a need. Such meetings are called the Body of Governors. Twice annually, the Body of Governors elects El Nido's President. The eight Governors may vote however they like, for whatever reasons they like, and the voting records are always kept secret from the people of El Nido -- but a sitting President, though normally accorded a vote in the Body of Governors as part of his office, may not vote in this election. In the event of a tie, the General may cast the deciding vote. There is no limit on the number of consecutive terms that a Governor may serve as President.
The President was, before the Cleansing Wars, merely a figurehead whose primary responsibility was to mediate disputes (especially trade disputes) between the islands, and ensure that goods flowed between the islands smoothly. After the discovery of magilyte in the Dead Sea, however, the Nidoans have begun to make efforts at strengthening the office of the President, both for the sake of impressing the Tasnicans (whom they expect to be the largest consumers of Nidoan ore) and for the sake of having a formally established political leadership to shepherd El Nido through the dangerous world of Web politics.
Up until the Cleansing Wars, El Nido only had politics of the internal kind. Tame by the standards of the Web of Worlds, they would amount to racial, religious and trade disputes between the islands. The President has always been able to contain these small-scale disagreements before they get out of hand.
The word of the day in El Nido is democratic reform. Though unwilling to diminish the strength of the General (given the damage caused during the war), or relinquish the individual sovereign powers of any of the Governors (given the tendency of Nidoans to favor decentralized local government), the Nidoans are beefing up the powers of their Presidency. For now, it’s effectively window-dressing democracy set up to make the Tasnicans happy.
El Nido has enjoyed independence from mainland Zenan since the close of the Syndicate Wars. Though the Kingdom of Guardia annexed Porre and the Zenan Continent after the fall of the Trann Syndicate, General Emil Viper managed to negociate the terms of El Nido’s independence with the then newly-crowned King Doan Pendouris Guardia. Since that time, El Nido has enjoyed peace and obscurity, sheltered thanks to its small size from the rest of Gate and the rest of the Web.
The Cleansing Wars ripped El Nido out of its paradisical isolation. Conquered handily by the Defilers and used as a staging point for an invasion of Zenan and Guardia Proper, the war took a devastating toll on the islands. The Defilers executed thousands of non-humans, despoiled the environment with their magic and laid waste to entire towns. The sites of some of the worst battles of the Cleansing Wars were Marbule and Guldove, where the populations fought well after Acacia had fallen to keep the forces of Rajaat off their islands.
Now, El Nido is seeking to reach out to the rest of Gate and the Web. With the islands’ newly found magilyte deposits in the Dead Sea, El Nido hopes to earn its place in the Web of Worlds by selling its ore to Tasnica.
El Nido has a small military by Web standards, barely equalling the size of a major metropolitan police force. El Nido relies heavily on protection of nearby Guardia.
The military leaders of El Nido are also its most empowered political elites. The soldiery of El Nido are headed by a knighthood similar to that of Guardia. Military technology and weapons within the ranks of El Nido’s defense forces are mostly of Guardian or Medinan make, though, as hand-me-downs, tend to be a generation or two behind what the larger Gate powers are currently using.
The El Nido defense forces have their own ships and planes, but make no distinction between naval, air force and ground army branches of service. Thus, by necessity, the soldiers of El Nido are fairly versatile, in that most have training as sailors and pilots as well as basic ground combat and mounted combat training.
The knighthood of El Nido, the Dragoons, differ from the Guardian Knights in that their membership is not an exclusive order. Soldiers may freely move up the ranks, from enlisted men to officers and finally to Dragoon status.
General Cartreo LaMont Cartreo is the wielder of Einlanzer, the sacred sword of the Acacia Dragoons, and was General Emil Viper’s First Deva before the Cleansing Wars. After Rajaat’s landing on Acacia, and the death of Viper, Cartreo inherited the mantle of General and became the ruler of El Nido. A feline demi-human, with deep crimson fur and piercing green eyes (or, rather, eye; he lost one of them in the Cleansing Wars), Cartreo is the first demi-human to hold the rank of General.
Clarice Viper The daughter of Emil Viper, and Master Preserver of El Nido, Clarice is one of a number of Preserving wizards who are working to undo the ecological damage of Rajaat and the Defilers. Clarice spends her time between the Preserver Academy in Guldove and Viper Manor in Termina, and rumor has it that she and General Cartreo are engaged to be married.
Governor Sparky Watcha Sparky is the Governor of Guldove, and is purported to be the best fisherman in El Nido. He is the longest serving Governor in Guldove’s history, in part because of his skill. The Guldovans, long reliant on fishing, elect their Governor by way of a fishing contest, an event which Sparky consistently dominates.
Governor Cavaar LaMont Cartreo’s uncle, Cavaar is the Governor of Marbule. The LaMont family has been custodian of the Scythe of Lynx for innumerable generations, and this has been their key to rulership of Marbule for all that time. Cavaar is a harsh ruler, who bears a poorly hidden distaste for humans and distrust for the other leaders of El Nido. He has officially disowned Cartreo from his family, though this happened long before it was speculated that a relationship was developing between the General and Clarice Viper. Cavaar believes that he, or some other son of Marbule, deserves the Presidency of El Nido, because of how his people suffered at the hands of the Defilers.
Mansel Mansel is the Constable-General of Marbule. A robust merman, he serves Governor LaMont unquestioningly, fearing him as he would fear any member of the LaMont family. Almost by default, as head of Marbule's defense forces, he is the supreme military authority on the island apart from the Governor himself.
Governor Sloos Pingul Sloos is the Governor of Acacia, and a Beeba. Sloos was elected by referrendum shortly after the Cleansing Wars, and won largely based on support from Acacia’s non-human populations – Dwarves, Beebas, Goblins and the Demi-humans that dwell on Mount Pyre. He has since settled into the Governor’s Mansion in Termina rather nicely, and brought with him an administration staff comprised mostly of Dwarves, Goblins and Beebas. This unlikely non-human coalition, which had to first surmount the antipathy that has always existed between the three swamp-dwelling races, has spearheaded reconstruction efforts across all of El Nido, leading many to believe that Sloos has his eyes set on the Presidency.
Paolo Cartwright Cartwright is a career administrator, having served in the cabinets of Governors Pingul and Shaker, and is well respected as an upstanding member of a well-to-do Terminan family. He is noted as the only one of Governor Pingul's advisors who had anything resembling a serious attitude toward Acacia's administration. He was the one who drafted El Nido's new Constitution, and was unanimously elected by the Body of Governors to become El Nido's first empowered President.
Governor Inora Inora is the governor of Feypoole (also called Water Dragon Isle), and the recognized leader of the Fairies of El Nido. She won her position due to the longstanding fae tradition of electing a governor through a weeklong storytelling contest. Inora has been consistently the most creative storyteller, and thus has been reelected multiple times. The Dwarven minority of Feypoole, however, is trying to reform the process and institute a straight referrendum to elect the governor; they feel the Fairy storytelling contests are slanted against them. In truth, none of the Feypoole Dwarves are anywhere near as creative as the foremost Fairy leaders, and the Dwarves haven’t considered that they would still stand a chance to lose a straight election against Fairy opponents.
Zoren Splashhammer Zoren is the leader of Feypoole's minority Dwarven population, and as of the last "election," Zoren is the stiffest Dwarven competition that any fairy has had in recent memory (and, as both the fae and dwarves are rather long-lived, "recent memory" extends back quite a ways). Zoren is the most gifted storyteller among the Dwarves, and has worked under great frustration to get ahead within the system that the majority fae population has set up on their ancestral homeland. He is hampered in that his stories are mostly long-winded war stories, with much death and tactical minutiae; while he develops likable characters, he doesn't play to his audience and tell stories that most of Feypoole's residents would favor. Having lost the last election to Inora, Zoren is trying to reform the system with the aid of Goborvan political strategists, hoping to turn Feypoole into a goblin-style democracy.
Mooloo Mooloo was, until recently, the King of Malcovia. The most successful candidates for King have been those that have demonstrated a strong connection to the spirit world, most often through displays of necromancy, spirit possession or some other method of manipulating the forces of Shadow Magic. This is by no means an objective comparison of skill; a candidate must actively impress the voting Malcovian consituency, and thus a charlatan can easily win election over a more skilled Voodoo wizard. Mooloo lost the most recent Malcovian elections to Brer Rabbey.
Brer Rabbey The current King of Malcovia, Rabbey won the recent Malcovian elections by out-performing King Mooloo and several other powerful Vodoun practicioners. Rabbey's winning feat was performing the Shadow Walk -- a perilous arcane task that has claimed the lives and/or sanities of all that attempted it before Rabbey.
Governor Arcus Levine A descendent of the renowned Gatian explorer, Toma Levine, Arcus is the governor of Earth Dragon Island. Earth Dragon Isle has a very small population, comprised initially of human geologists and research teams. Just ten years before the Cleansing Wars, Levine was fired from Termina College (having been charged with embezzling no small sum of money from the school), and asked to bring his survey team home from Earth Dragon Isle. Levine refused, convincing his team to remain with him, and he declared the formation of his own government on the uninhabited surface of the island. Since the Declaration of Independence, Earth Dragon Isle has seen a small influx of immigrants from Acacia and Guldove to bolster his island’s population. The only city on Earth Dragon Isle so far is Arcusville, which grew slowly around the base camp of Levine’s survey team. Levine has insisted that he must hold the interim governorship of Earth Dragon Island, until the population is large enough so that an election is not a waste of time. Thus far, just over three hundred and fifty people have come to live in Arcusville, under Governor Levine’s somewhat eccentric rule, which has gone uninterrupted (and without any sort of election) for a decade.
Governor Mogur Mogur is the Governor of Goborva, the isle of Goblins. In the year 1020, an ecological crisis in the Hydra Marshes caused some number of Goblins and Dwarves to retreat. They fled Acacia, aiming to settle their own islands. The Goblins landed on the island that they would call Goborva, and have claimed it as the Goblin homeland ever since. Despite the bad reputation that the Goblins have gotten over the years, the Goborvans are actually among the most civil and democratic non-human races in El Nido. Their Governor is elected by simple majority, and a number of fledgling political parties have formed on Goborva. Mogur belongs to the Goblin Social Libertarian party (GSLP), which presently holds both the Governorship and a majority in the Island Council. Goborvan activists have been key in winning the few democratic reforms that have come to the islands, and Mogur hopes to win the next El Nido Presidency.
Mogur is a squat, but not especially ugly Goblin (by human standards), with mint green hair and matching eyes. He dresses in the simple burlap togas that are customary among Goborvans, and carries the rod of his office (a laquered wood sceptre that has been handed down from Governor to Governor -- supposedly the mandate of the deity SnibSnob himself) with him at all times.
Governor Duro Marshaxe Marshaxe is the Governor of Stouthome, the isle of Dwarves. While the Goblins settled on Goborva without incident in the year 1020, the Dwarves in the same year attempted an invasion of Feypoole. Though casualties among the Fairies were high, the Dwarven invasion ultimately failed, and the survivors fled west to a small and uninhabited island just across the water. There they settled and established the fortress of Stouthome, for which the island was named. The Stouthome Dwarves are ruled by a military dictatorship. They rue the day they lost a war to Fairies, a shame that hangs over the island like a pall, and vow to someday destroy Feypoole and all who dwell there (including the Dwarven minority, who the Stouthome dwarves view as traitors to their race). The close proximity of Stouthome to Feypoole has resulted in a few instances of inter-island hostility on more than one occassion, but baffling as it may seem the fairies are very capable of defending themselves against the Stouthome dwarves.
Duro is massively fat, but also incredibly strong even by Dwarven standards. He has ruled Stouthome as "Jarl" for close to thirty years and has no intention of giving up the job to anyone else (he's already fought off two would-be successors who overplayed their hand).
Direa Direa is the Shaman of Guldove, and on Guldove is recognized as Draconicism’s highest mortal agent. She aided in the escape of Clarice Viper during the Defilers’ conquest of Acacia, and then journeyed with the Nu called Dunno in his quest to stop Rajaat. After the war, Direa returned home to minister to her wounded people and aid in reconstruction. She is as respected as Governor Watcha, and has at least as much political clout.
Mojo The mysterious life-sized voodoo doll named Mojo has wandered the El Nido islands for centuries. Created on the island of Malcovia, Mojo only returned to his home island recently, after being ensorcled by the Vodoun witch, Mama Moolay. After Moolay’s brutal (and thus far unsolved) murder, Mojo was freed, though being back home on Malcovia, and so close to the source of Vodoun’s power, made him decide to stay awhile. He briefly served as an advisor to King Mooloo, but took his leave shortly before the elections that brought Brer Rabbey to power. Mojo has not been seen on the island since.
Daryn Saffron Daryn is the new First Deva of the Acacia Dragoons. He was drafted from the ranks of the defense forces’ officers corps, and is thought by some to be the best dragon-handler in El Nido. A quiet man, he is largely forgettable until you have occasion to see him fight. Daryn’s preferred weapons are the lance and the cavalry rifle.
Halfer Addertaile Halfer is a Medinan, a Gnasher, who came to El Nido to fight the Xenos. He is a highly skilled combatant, and became a local hero in Marbule, where he lead the resistance against the Defilers. Addertaile’s bravery reached the ears of Cartreo, and after the war he invited Halfer to come to Termina and serve as Second Deva. Honored beyond words, Halfer graciously accepted. Halfer is now Cartreo’s right hand (ironically enough), and often serves as public spokesman for the General in contentious areas (such as Marbule). He is known to possess potent psionic ability: he has slight telekinetic power (which he uses to compensate for his lack of limbs), a telepathic affinity for reptiles, and powers of hypnotism which he used to great effect against the Defilers and their minions during the war.
James Tianus Fargo VI James T. Fargo was the Captain of one of Termina’s coastal defense vessels during the Cleansing Wars. His ship was sunk, and his crew was held hostage by the occupying Defilers, but Fargo enacted a daring escape and succeeded in retaking and holding a quarter of the city of Termina from the Defilers until the war’s end. In his search for brave warriors to fill the ranks of the Devas after the passing of Rajaat’s hordes, Cartreo came upon the tale of Fargo’s bravery and leadership, and the ex-pirate was immediately asked to become a Deva. Fargo accepted, and now informally heads Acacia’s coastal defense fleet. Fargo is an accomplished swordsman; his preferred weapon is a sturdy cutlass, though he is also an adept pistol marksman.
Yuri Ketcha Ketcha is the Hero of Guldove, having defended the island and sustained personal injury during the Cleansing Wars; for this, Ketcha was asked to be a Deva by General Cartreo. Ketcha is a giant of a man, thick with muscle. His body is covered with red battle tattoos in abstract designs and patterns, and his hair is shorn save for a single mowhawk strip of hair, which he grows long in the back and adorns with feathers and beaded ties. Ketcha is unbelievably fast and powerful; his preferred weapons are a pair of enchanted stone hatchets, which he can throw and have return to his hand if he wishes.
The Islands of El Nido
"The Heart Island"
Acacia is called the Heart Island because it is, in many ways, the heart of El Nido. It is the largest of the islands, the hub of El Nido's trade economy, and it is home to Termina, the largest city in El Nido, and the capital of both Acacia and the El Nido nation. Acacia is a mixture of developed urban sprawl, quaint shoreside villages, lush tropical forests, and harsh volcanic badlands. There also exists an expansive swamp, the Hydra Marshes, on the southeast edge of the island.
Acacia has three major cities: Termina, Arni and Marshon. Around these cities, networks of smaller villages dot the landscape. Termina, being the capital, is the center of an impressive urban sector and trade port which dominates the northwestern portion of the island. Termina has next to no industry; its economy is entirely reliant on trade with other islands and the Guardian prefecture of Porre. Still, even by Gatian standards, Termina is a fully "modern" city. By any reckoning, Termina uses the vast majority of electrical power produced in El Nido -- generated from typically Gatian "green" power stations built right into the face of nearby Mount Pyre. A visitor from the great nations of the Core would not be disappointed with the immenities to be found in Termina.
Arni is much smaller than Termina; it is effectively a very large fishing village. It is the hub of Southern Acacia, separated from Termina and northern Acacia by the Fossil Mountains. Arni is poorer, less modern and, as mentioned, smaller in size and population than Termina. But it has survived Nidoan modernization and the Cleansing Wars, and has a solid population base. The primary form of breadwinning in Arni is fishing, though trade and craft goods are also produced here. Basket and net weaving, both for practical and artistic purposes, are renowned in Arni; decorative net-tapestries fetch high prices at market, and colorfully woven Arni baskets can be found across all of El Nido. Still, of major concern to Arni's leaders is the trend of urban emigration, as Arni's youth flees the poor village with the hope of great success in the big city.
Marshon is only a hair smaller than Arni; this tree-top village is the only semblance of civilization in the Hydra Marshes. Here, a mishmash of goblins, beebas and dwarves make up the bulk of Acacia's non-human population. Marshon began as a commune for the growing tribes of non-humans who had to share living space and resources within the swamps. As time went on, the community eventually expanded into a miniature tribal metropolis. One wouldn't say it is one of the biggest, most beautiful or best-smelling cities in the Web, but... um... it's definitely... a city? It is also, since the Cleansing Wars, emerging as a rival to Arni as hub of the south. While occupied by the Defilers, Arni's trade was effectively dead in the water, and though the Hydra Marshes were routinely plumbed by the Defiler armies, the location of Marshon itself remained largely obscured from the evil wizards thanks to the magics of Marshon's shamans. When the Defilers were finally expelled, Marshon stepped in to provide food and goods to communities and villages that were once served by Arni. Arni's recovery was quick, but at present the two cities remain more or less equal.
Lastly, deserving some kind of mention are the villages of Mount Pyre. Nestled in the crags and caves and on artificial terraces all along the sloping Southern face of Mount Pyre are several villages of canine and feline demi-humans, who make up the smallest ethnic minority on Acacia. These demi-human tribes used to occupy the Western face as well, but they were displaced by the government of Acacia, which wanted to construct its geothermal power plants on the West and North faces, for easy access from Termina. The demi-humans still stew about having been forcibly moved from their homes; a few packs of canines are known to be operating in opposition of the government, and have tried twice unsuccessfully to sabotage the power plants.
“The Black Dragon's Island”
Marbule is the ancestral homeland of El Nido's largest non-human population, the demi-humans. "Demi-human" is simply a broad category, not necessarily a race unto itself, but a label applied to the humanoid animals who live throughout the whole of the islands. Marbule is also home to the merfolk, beings who are human from the waist up and fish from the waist down; depending on who you talk to, though, this race is sometimes lumped in with the other demi-humans.
Marbule is one of the least democratic of all the islands in El Nido -- and for the Nidoans, who are a people that generally place a very high value on personal freedoms, that says volumes. Marbule is also the least open of all the El Nido islands, being all but closed to foreign visitors who aren't on the island for some kind of official business. For this, Marbule tends to suffer economically; Marbule sees the least amount of trade and interaction with the other islands and its people tend to have a lesser standard of living than more cosmopolitan places like Acacia or Guldove.
“The Island of Preservers”
Apart from Termina, Guldove is the most important trade center in El Nido. It serves as a kind of secondary hub for the islands, a domestic hub, where the various Nidoan populations mingle and trade. This is important for a variety of reasons, among them that the Marbulites feel more comfortable in Guldove than they do in Termina, and the Earth Dragon exiles are fearful of what might happen to them if they are caught on Acacia's shores. Guldove thus sees heavy intra-Nidoan traffic, and therefore maintains friendly relations with all of the islands.
Guldove is also an important religious center for the islands, as it is the only recognized infrastructural center for Draconicism, the primary religion of the El Nido islands. Here, the Shaman is an important figure in the island's day-to-day politics, and her shrine (the Shaman is almost always a female) is filled almost daily with worshippers come to offer their prayers to the Six Dragon Gods.
Since the close of the Cleansing Wars, Guldove has also been the base of operations for the Preservers, a group of wizards who specialize in repairing the ecological damage done to El Nido by Rajaat's army of Defilers. The Preserver Academy is dedicated to training magically inclined individuals as healers, and boasts the daughter of the late General Viper, Clarice, as its High Preserver.
“The Water Dragon's Island”
Feypoole is home to El Nido's fairy population. The fae act as guardians over the springs of pure water that well up all over the island. The springs of Feypoole are an important source of fresh drinking water for many of the islands, but because of the way the Water Dragon Island's magic works, the fae must give their permission in order for any of the water to be taken off the island. This puts the fae into a great deal of economic power that they are generally too childlike to appreciate or take advantage of -- which is both a blessing and a curse to those who come from other islands to trade with the fae for their water.
A minority population of dwarves live on Feypoole. They are largely politically disenfranchised and generally a grumpy lot; they believe that they could do a much better job at managing the island and its vital natural resource, but so long as the fae retain the governorship (and the Water Dragon's blessing), the dwarves will just have to keep on stewing in their own little swampy corner of the island.
“We have our own government. Really!”
Earth Dragon Island boasts the smallest population of inhabitants of any of the El Nido islands. It is inhabited by the followers of Arcus Levine, who live primarily in the shoreside village of Arcusville. They have little to offer to the rest of the islands, although it should be said that Arcus is well-loved by the fairies of Feypoole and has the easiest time negociating for large quantities of water to be moved off the Water Dragon's Island -- something that was absolutely vital in the early days of the Arcusville settlement.
Humans are not alone on Earth Dragon Island. In fact, the majority of Earth Dragon's sentient humanoid population is comprised of the native Fossickers, who dwell in the sandy caverns beneath the Island's surface. These tall, worm-like humanoids (whose seven-foot-tall segmented invertebrate bodies have four arms, two legs and three vertically-aligned eyes) are usually belligerent to outsiders, but Arcus was able to broker a deal with them when he first came to the island, and the Fossickers are now allied with (or at least tolerant of) the Arcusville settlement. It was the Fossickers, in fact, who first taught the Arcusville settlers how to tame the Kanks (see below).
Earth Dragon Island is one of the most desolate of all the El Nido islands. The inhabitants survive by two main subsistence methods: hydroponic farms (created with technology and equipment that is by now technically stolen from Termina College), and the herding of Kanks (also called Sand Aphids), a breed of giant insect which the settlers have tamed and domesticated. The Sand Aphids susbsist off what little vegetation (in the forms of scrubs and cacti) grows on the island, but are also petrivores and take a good deal of their nutrition from the very sand and rock that comprises the island itself. It is the Kanks' excrement that the settlers feed off of; they produce from their rectal openings a viscous, sweet honey-like substance which fulfills the settlers' dietary requirements for protein quite nicely -- convenient, in part, because Earth Dragon Isle has little else in the way of animal life and some of the poorest fishing in all of El Nido.
A tertiary source of subsistence is trade -- something which the people of Arcusville have learned they cannot rely on simply because they have little to offer the rest of the islands. Still, they have become reliable as middlemen in the drinking water trade because of Arcus' popularity with the fairies.
"The Isle of the Damned"
Malcovia has a bad reputation among the Nidoans. In olden days, it was known simply as "The Isle of the Damned," and was known as a home to undead monsters and the restless spirits of the dead. Its history, however, is long, and it has had many periods of inhabitation over the years. Its original settlers are believed to have been the originators of the practice of "Vodoun," or ritual shadow magic, especially with an emphasis on necromancy and curses. The old Vodoun mysteriously died out, only to be replaced some years later with a new batch of settlers, who adopted the religion almost as a means of surviving on the island. But eventually, they too would die out.
The current inhabitants of Malcovia have been around for only 300 years. Like all the others, they believe themselves to be above whatever curse befell their predecessors; they believe that Vodoun will protect them. But they have not yet considered whether or not it is Vodoun that, in fact, ensured the demise of previous Malcovian settlements.
Beyond ancient curses, Malcovia is presently dealing with epidemic drug addiction among the island's poorest citizens. The drug in question, Pyra, has an as yet unknown origin, but elders among the Vodoun practicioners are rallying around efforts to stop the spread of the drug by any means necessary -- even if it means resurrecting omnicidal maniacs and granting them undead strength and effective immortality.
Malcovia's former "King," Mooloo, is behind the most successful of the efforts to thwart the drug trade: the Hooded Soldier. Animating a zombie corpse by way of an enchanted silver mask, and dressing him in a flashy black caped comic-book costume, King Mooloo has made the Soldier Malcovia's own resident super hero and the scourge of those who would peddle pyra on Malcovia's streets.
Malcovia's current King is Brer Rabbey, an escapee from the Guardian prison of Valleyville, and perhaps the most powerful houngan the island has ever seen.
"In SnibSnob We Trust"
Goborva is a lush, verdant island that lies between Acacia's northeastern shores and Malcovia, the Island of the Damned. This unspoiled forested paradise was historically used as a hideaway for smugglers, pirates and exiles until the year 1020 AD, when an ecological disaster in the Hydra Marshes on Acacia sent several clans of Goblins and Dwarves looking for new land to call their own.
Though most Acacian Goblins found they could thrive in the polluted Marshes, a segment of the population fled and came to an island they would call Goborva, a name which means "Clean Start" in the Goblin tongue. According to legend, they were lead to Goborva by a deity called SnibSnob, whom the Goborvans began to fervently venerate. The first major structure built by the Goborvans in their new home was the Shrine of SnibSnob, an impressively durable wood structure which has withstood countless tropical storms in the centuries since Goblin habitation on the island began.
Goborva is less renowned for its religion, however, than for its highly developed institutionalized democracy. The Goborvan Goblins value their freedoms as much as any other Nidoan; and so after constructing the Shrine of SnibSnob, the Goborvans drafted their Constitution, thereby creating the system by which their democracy and freedoms would be forever protected. Four major parties vie for control within the Island Council: the Goblin Social Libertarian Party (GSLP; believes in limited [but strong] governance, and cooperation and goodwill with other Nidoan islands; recognizes the authority of the institutions which govern all the El Nido Islands; sees the job of Government as the protector of a Goblin's civil rights and liberties, and the arbiter between Goblin and his natural environment), the Goborvan National Sovereignty Party (GNSP; also believes in limited governance, but rejects the idea of cooperation with other islands for its own sake; dislikes the idea of taking orders from people on Acacia), the Goblin Free Enterprise Party (GFEP; believes in limited governance and NO government regulation on markets, industries or entrepreneurs; wants to bring big business and big industry to El Nido [specifically: to Goborva]), and the Goborvan Oligarchy Party (GOP; believes the Goborvans are racially superior to everyone else in El Nido, and that Goborva should take and hold [by force, if necessary] El Nido's Presidency; the GOP does not recognize the El Nido Government's authority unless it is headed by a Goborvan). Of 20 seats on the Island Council, the GSLP currently holds 12. Their nearest competition, the GNSP, holds 6 seats. The GFEP and the GOP are currently allied, and often pool their 1-seat-each caucuses to form an impressive (but ultimately futile) voting bloc. Three more parties exist on Goborva, but do not currently have representation in the Council: the Goborvan Environmental Protectionist Party (GEPA; was the majority party twenty years ago but now is on the verge of extinction), the Goborvan Royal Mandate Party (GRMP; advocates of crowning a Goblin King in Goborva; their ranks are also dwindling as their membership filters over to the GOP), and the Goblin God Party (GGP; a party that advances the agenda of the Goborvan Church; this party was all but wiped out by the Separation of Church and State Clause that was adopted in 2250, which prohibited most of this party's members from holding political office [as most GGP members are inducted members of the clergy]).
The GSLP also holds the island's governorship. Under Mogur's rule, the GSLP has prospered. But his rule is presently being tested by Malcovia to the East, as the problem of the Pyra trade comes to the Goblin Island's shores. Malcovia is rattling the saber and threatening to go to war with Goborva, suspecting that the Goblins are somehow responsible for Pyra trafficking (as the Goborvans are Malcovia's closest neighboring island). Goborva, meanwhile, is stepping up its coastal defenses and intensely screening incoming trade ships (a move which alarms the all-but-impotent GFEP delegation [or, rather, delegate]), and many Goblins suspect that the Malcovian accusations are just a smoke screen to disguise their efforts to bring the drug to Goborva. Apart from Stouthome-Feypoole conflicts, this growing tension between Goborva and Malcovia could lead to the first inter-island warfare seen in El Nido in five hundred years.
The flight from the Hydra Marshes in 1020 AD sent the Goblins northward, and the Dwarves southward. They had a mind to liberate the Water Dragon Isle from the fairies, but encountered unexpectedly strong resistance in the form of human adventurers, who happened upon the invasion and lent their aid to the beleaguered fairies. The result was a near total rout of the Dwarven clans; the bulk of their survivors scrambled for their boats (leaving the wounded for dead) and sailed west to the next island over, a near-totally inhospitable collection of jagged rock and coral. They wouldn't have stayed save that their vessels were chewed to pieces upon landing.
Somehow, they managed to survive here. They carved fortress-like cities out of the stone of the islands themselves, and settled down. The largest of their fortresses, Stouthome, became the island's capital, and provided the island with its name.
The Stouthome dwarves are governed by a military dictatorship. Every member of the society has a rank and a purpose associated with the military -- whose ultimate goal is avenging the losses sustained against fairies (fairies!!!) 1300 years ago. In that time, a few campaigns to conquer Feypoole have been waged by the Stouthome Dwarves, but time and again they are sent packing with their tails between their legs.