West of Agstowe, north of Teral, and north-east of Umbrinol, Cymballar is a lush kingdom grown from the ruins of a shattered Solothan holding that fell long ago. The memory of Solothian overlordship has long since passed, and is now a fact only scholars tell. Indeed, Essad once dominated Cymballar as well, ruling it as an under-kingdom during the time of its dominance, which is a much more frequent memory.

Scholars believe Cymballar was originally colonized by Mileans from the Second Empire. However, the region was never truly imperialized, leaving many pockets of so-called “Thegnar” civilization to survive. Long after the Second Empire collapsed and the two great over-empires of Caruel and Soloth grew in the north, the colony of Cymballar bowed to Soloth’s power and so a long period began when Cymballar did not exist in any way.

Cymballar is a land of great wealth and knightly courtesy, emulating its greater cousin, the Empire. The fields of Cymballar are lush, and its rivers abound in gemstones. Many smallfolk live amongst its people, having been settled there long ago by Solothian overlords after being captured along the marches of the Greensward.

Cymballar is one of the Three Kingdoms, along with Agstowe and Fegondé. The people of Cymballar are technically Gower, but they identify themselves as imperial, even if there is little of the empire left here.

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History of Cymballar

Cymballar was originally known as the Province of Symbalia under the Second Empire. While the western region of Kelinum (Kjellos) had been lost, the creation of Symbalia followed as a natural consequence of the conquest of Esadurea; Symbalia originally encompassed all of modern Agstowe and Fegondé, thus knitting together the Three Kingdoms of modernity in their ancient past. Imperial outposts dotted the land, but the empire never really touched it; the native people (recorded in Second Empire sources as “Thegnari”, related to the barbarians of Eyl and Weyland) remained native and were very loosely and badly integrated into imperial culture. Cymballar is still dotted with ancient Second Empire ruins, though they have mostly fallen back into the earth or been swallowed up by the swamps.

After the withdrawal of the empire, it is likely that the local Thegnari took back the territory. There are indications that the old imperial structures were avoided, as they bear no signs of later habitation. However, the elves of Alfland had arrived some time prior to the imperial occupation (probably during the early First Empire); while they lived harmoniously, it was only with the imperial withdrawal that they expanded out over the Thegnari. Indeed, they acted as patrons and lords over the Thegnari for several centuries.

It was only with the rise of Soloth that the elves withdrew. The Solothan armies conquered and subjugated the Thegnari peoples tribe by tribe; many of them were brought wholesale into the north to serve as slaves in Kallatha. The elves of Väensalo (Alfland’s name in native Solë) essentially vanished. They erected powerful spell-wards (the descendants of which can be seen scattered all over Atva-Arunë) and ceased all contact with the outside. It was only recently, in the years since the Slave Wars and the fall of Magron Thur’s Essad, that the Väenselië emerged from their seclusion.

Cymballar was the base of Solothan armies during the Caruel Wars, and indeed it was from Cymballar itself that the Mage-King Alketh ventured forth to enact the Great Defiling that destroyed Caruel. After this, the area belonged on and off to Essad until the First Slaver Wars in X.200. During that time a young idealistic noblewoman named Alaria Aelleflax unified the disparate peoples of Cymballar. It was under her chronicler and Court Wizard Haelus Verindus that the idea of a single Cymballene people emerged. From then on, Cymballene scholars and poets have attempted to draw links between the Second Empire and the Cymballene people.

The current ruler of Cymballar is Elidia Aelleflax, the lineal descendant of Alaria.

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The Gower

There is a people that live in the lands to the west of Dorlan that we call the Gower. They are of mixed descent, coming partially from Valelan stock of the north and partially from the Llyrian people known as Eyls. In culture and essence they are Weylic with influences from the ancient Milean traditions. In appearance they are generally light brown to blond haired and light eyed with frames that range from ropey to muscular. They are not short but neither are they as tall (generally) as the Valelan men.

They seem suited to the classed society of peasantry and lords, and in general do not yearn for a different life. Farmers in the Three Kingdoms till a good yield and their corn is often sold to merchants traveling from the south to feed the great cities of the Empire. While perhaps not as culturally advanced as Miles or Dorlan, they still live fairly good lives. They are a stolid, sturdy people and they share their Eylic cousins affinity for the land and thus for dwarven people.

Even more than dwarves, however, the Gower get along with gnomes and halflings better than any other race. There are no halfling shantytowns or gnomish tent-cities in the Three Kingdoms; they are treated well by the Gower and build their houses right amongst the townsfolk of men. The smallfolk, who are generally shy and elusive, make up a good minority of the Three Kingdoms and thus may even be considered almost Gowers themselves.

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Life in Cymballar

Cymballene nobility reaches backwards into the distant past to find its roots; they see in themselves less of the Gower and more of the First Men. In truth, their culture stems from two roots; while the nobles live life much as they imagine the Second Empire must have been, the peasantry are far less free than citizens in the old Empire. Nobility is entrenched in Cymballar in the same way that it was in old Middlemark (and now is in its subsequent children-kingdoms of Claulan and Weyland).

The kingdom itself is divided into four general sections; the Mede, the North, the Swamp, and the East; this scheme was established by the Court Chronicler Elus Caradus; he groups the region of Alfland into the Mede as well. Alfland is a highly important thing to consider when examining Cymballar, as it is a sister-kingdom with the Cymballene people. Alflanders have assisted the Queens of Cymballar since the kingdom’s first inception (though it has not escaped the notice of many that during the Essadi and Solothen occupations that Alfland was completely cut off from the outside world).

The northerly Erldoms are rocky and harsh, while the Mede is lush and well-cultivated. The Swamp is home to many gnomish and halfling trappers, while the East shares more with the North in terms of the ground it is also more heavily wooded.

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The nobility of Cymballar enjoy an exalted status above their fellow men. There are few halflings and gnomes that have attained that high rank and those that have generally have been given small patches of good farmland in the Mede. Nobles own or control all land in the kingdom not directly administered by the crown or given over to the power of the temples. Nobles must attend court at Aethellon of course, but unlike the Third Empire court is not a full time occupation. Most nobility spend a great majority of time on their own estates, managing their affairs.

This leads to a great familiarity between commoners and nobles. The nobility in general tend to be close to their people, often feasting them on religious holidays or during the harvests. While serfs may be unable to leave their lord’s land, few of them want to due to the care the local lords take to watch over them.

While nobility may take to their armored manor houses and fortress-towers, they are also frequently seen amongst their townsfolk and farmers. The peasant is rare indeed who hasn’t at least been to his lord’s undercroft to eat a meal in the presence of his neighbors and his lord.

The nobility are divided into greater and lesser – the lesser category containing only knights. There are no dukes or counts in Cymballar, but rather a profusion of powerful erls and small land-holding barons who in turn grant even smaller estates to their knights. Knights may employ peasant freemen to work their fields or own their own serfs, but they are hardly as wealthy as a knight in the Third Empire. Nevertheless, knighthood is seen as a shining duty, one every boy and girl in the kingdom aspires to attain someday.

Knighthood, unlike the greater nobility, is not closed off to commoners. Those who distinguish themselves through valiant service may indeed be knighted on the field of battle for their valour and given a dependence from their lord or the Queen. The Banner of the Glittering Gem, the knightly order of the kingdom, even sponsors tournaments once every five years to find worthy applicants amongst the peasantry.

Of course, we must also realize that while the station of Erldom is essentially closed to new members, Baronial power is not. The Queen, in theory, has the power to unmake or make new Erls, but such a thing has never been done since the original rebellion in X.221.

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Erldom of Stonerun

Erldom of Charcot

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Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius