The world still likes to feel that it is young. I suppose it is, for every day youth blossoms on its face in the new green sapling and the fawn taking its first trembling step. But it has the worn signs of care carved into its skin as well. Monuments to the fiery strength of the past now lay in shambles, forgotten whispers of what once was at the end of a forgotten path, that sleeps in the shadow of a land where no men dare to tread anymore.
The Season of the Great Sorcerers has long past. Magic is mostly forgotten; those who remember it fear it (and not without reason). Sorcery is outlawed in all the civilized lands. Even in the unending turmoil of the Jokan Provinces it is hated with a vengeance (demons being of the Bastard’s domain, and He himself considered the master demon of evil incarnate). Other countries have been preoccupied with recuperating from that dark time. Some have managed to grow their roots deep, and finally have begun to drink the rewards of all their effort.
Heartland flourishes as a center of trade – all good routes walk through one of her gates. At the center, Castilchas shines at the epitome of modern masonry. Gilded arches welcome the weary traveler. Verdant gardens spill over the walls of private gardens. All basks in the golden glow of fortune and plenty.
At least, it had of late. There is a thread of tension, barely visible throughout the city. The Royina had passed almost a decade ago, and now her consort Roya has taken to his chambers. The capitol bravely continues its preparations for the Spring Festival, and the Royesse shall play the part of the virgin Daughter for what may be the last time. She must be wed, and soon, if the country is to avoid a civil war. For the merchants, naturally, would prefer a certain other leader that would favor their pockets. A royesse is perfectly capable of being the single crowned monarch of a country, but one so young (and with whispers of such, ahem, eccentricities as hers) would be challenged every given moment. The current Prime Minister offers much in the way of support and guidance for her.
So there you have it. A cheery festival in the making – garlands or fresh flowers on every nook and cranny of stonework, the sweet smell of holiday foods, and the cries of taskmasters while the gayly colored tents are raised. But the smiles are a little strained, and never quite meet the eyes of most who try.