Some material facts on Esrolia that I think are of importance. Esrolia is perhaps the most densely settled and intensely cultivated area in the world. It has 1.78 million people in an area smaller than Sartar, so basically imagine ten Sartars in one place. Or another comparison – it has about three times the population of the Silver Shadow and about the same area (even taking in account the empty space of the Crater).
Pretty much everyone agrees that the great goddess Ernalda lives there. As do Asrelia, Ty Kora Tek, and Babeester Gor. Places like Necropolis or Asrelia’s Retreat are great temples for what elsewhere are very minor goddesses.
But more than anything, this is a place of intense agriculture. Every 4 kilometers there’s a village between the fields and orchards. Except with the Sacred Ground and atop Thorab’s Hill, there are no wilds, no wastes, no places untouched by humans – just fields, orchards, and villages, with the occasional urban area. It takes a lot of grain to feed nearly 2 million people, but Esrolia not only produces it, but enough to export. And since the Ernalda temples own the land, imagine how rich they are! And no wonder this is the center of the Lhankor Mhy cult – imagine how many scribes are employed keeping track of taxes of grain and other bounties of the goddess!
Some more notes:
Nochet has a population of 100k+ and covers some 600 hectares, so it has got about 175 people per hectare, which means people are crowded in. There are also plenty of animals – pigs, cows, and sheep, chickens and geese, snakes, lizards, the occasional crocodile, etc. And even though the city is rich, by modern standards most people are poor and live as clients and supplicants of temples, noble houses, criminal gangs, etc. The city is disorganised and seemingly anarchic. If a temple or noble house wants to do something, it does it. The queen mediates conflicts between the powerful, and sometimes looks after the poor. The queen is the high priestess of the Earth Goddess and rarely involves herself in administering more than the resources of her temple. The temples of various husband-gods have power and influence, and respect the authority of the Earth Goddess but little else.Things functioned more efficiently under Belintar’s reign, when the God-King could reveal the aspirations of Queen Merngala and bring the divine world (and its ideals) in contact with our own. Belintar could bring forth the Jolly Fat Man and announce a wondrous new festival of drink and pleasure. But the God-King has been gone nearly a decade and the young queen has more worldly ambitions. And the Red Earth, the Warm Earth, and Old Earth factions have not disappeared – they seek power, with or without the young queen.
Mirrorsea Bay – keep in mind how tranquil and beautiful it is. This isn’t the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, or the North Atlantic! The waters probably have a mean sea temperature of around 20 C or something like that. You can go into the water year round and in summer, the water is really pleasant. The amazingly clear blue waters have kelp forests and corral reefs where merfolk hunt and play. There are schools of colourful fish, endless flocks of waterfowl, and more. Combine that with the temperatures for Esrolia, and it sounds so nice, I want to buy a vacation home there.
The Mirrorsea Bay was the main highway of the Holy Country even during the Closing. And meant that it was easier moving around the Holy Country than comparable distances in the Lunar Heartlands.
Nochet is rich from many sources. Its queen is the head of the Ernalda cult in Esrolia (more or less) and has vast surpluses of grain and other produce. But it is also the center of maritime trade in the world. The Opening of the Seas took place during the lifetime of many inhabitants – it is as far in the past as 1975 is to us. The largest numbers of skilled human sailors in the world are present here – only the Wolf Pirates compare in numbers and experience (their numbers are less, but their experience may be even greater). Ships travel from Nochet to Kralorela, Loskalm, Fonrit, and the East Isles. Nochet even has a “colony” in Teshnos!
Here’s where silk comes into central Genertela, about 10-15 tons a year comes in. Maybe half stays in the Holy Country, the rest is carried on caravans that go through Dragon Pass and is taken to the Lunar Heartlands. Maybe 4 tons a year of silk ends up in Furthest. Of course that means it is probably easier to get silk in Boldhome than in Glamour, just as it was easier to get silk in Alexandria than in Rome.
Yes, the Red Haired Caravan also brings silk into the Lunar Heartlands, probably another 2 tons a year. And I think that silk is considered “higher status” than the stuff from the Holy Country. Ironically, the stuff the Red Haired Caravan brings is from the Kingdom of Ignorance, while the stuff that comes into Nochet is from Teshnos and Kralorela proper, so go figure.
Total Nochet human population by cultural group:
- Esrolian 60000
- Sartarites 20000
- Other Holy Country 6000
- Westerners 4000
- Teshnites 4000
- Kralorelans 2000
- Fonritians 2000
- Other 2000
Those populations are of humans, not trolls, mermen, or dwarves. Or ducks or newtlings. Other means other humans. (Note that Nochet City of Queens is not a published setting book).
It usually takes only ten days or less to get from Nochet to Boldhome. That’s roughly comparable from Athens to Pella. Esrolia and Sartar are as comparable to Athens and Macedon. Athens is civilised, urban, and on the sea, while Macedon is hill country, tribal, and considered “half-barbarian”. The stereotypes are similar and the distances are about the same.
There are a LOT of Lhankor Mhy initiates in Esrolia. There are thousands in Nochet alone.
And look how close rivals Nochet and Rhigos are. Only 20 km away. We are talking about half the distance between Tyre and Sidon (which were also rivals). Clearly a good case of familiarity breeds contempt!
Who owns the land in Esrolia? The Earth Goddess owns the land. Therefore the earth temples determine who gets use of the land. It is as simple as that.