The Arcos River valley is the spiritual heart of the Lunar Religion. This river runs about 1200 km from the Elf Sea to the White Sea. It was here in that the Seven Mothers gathered to perform their desperate rituals that gave birth to the Red Goddess.
Culturally this area is not Dara Happan, but strongly influenced by it. New Pelorian developed here out of the local Lodrilli Pelorian dialect.
For much of the Second Age, the area was divided into three small principalities – Rinliddi, Althil, and Velthil. The inhabitants were mostly farmers, ruled by local lords. At times, the local lords were ruled by Horse Barbarians – at other times, the local lords vigorously defended their territories from the Horse Barbarians.
Despite not being Dara Happan, the Solar religion is dominant here. Lodril and the Grain Goddesses were the most popular cults prior to the rise of the Lunar Religion; Yelm was the ruling god. But there were also some strange cults such as Annilla, and Gorgorma, which had a big influence on the nascent Lunar Way.
This area is drier than the Oslira river valley, getting only 35-40 cm of precipitation a year, most of that in Fire Season. In winter, it is cold and dry. Maize is the main crop in Oraya.
Above Oraya is Jarst, best known for its Sun Dome founded there in the Second Age. Jarst is too poor to be incorporated into the Lunar Empire as a satrapy or province, and maintains a loose alliance with the Empire. Goat herding is the main source of meat, and they are considered similar to the Balazarings.
Although this area is the spiritual heartland of the Lunar Religion, the Lunar Empire is long since Dara Happan-ized. Glamour has been the clear political, religious, and economic center since the Tripolis was decisively subjugated in the 1280s.
I cannot imagine anyone in Raibanth or Glamour thinking that the Lunar Empire is not the Dara Happan Empire Plus. In the First Wane, you could easily make a distinction between the two, but you can’t in the Seventh Wane. Same cults, same daily language (New Pelorian), same customs, same scribes, etc.
“Dara Happan Empire” is just what historians call the Proto-Lunar Empire. The Red Emperor is the emperor of the Rich Lands, Son of the Red Goddess, King of Kings, Lord of Yelm’s Footrest, and the rest of that.
That really is a return to the good days. Khordavu and his dynasty were living deities – god-emperors. The destruction of that dynasty by Arkat and his troll and Orlanthi followers meant that the Rich Land was ruled by mere mortals for nearly a thousand years. And you can see how that went.
But now we once again have a living god as ruler of the Rich Land. Son of the Red Goddess, grandson of Yelm. The Red Emperor bears Light like Khordavu, but it is brilliant moonlight and not the cold light of the frontiers. But it is the same thing in the end. And it means we are ruled by a living god, not some mere politician or priest.
There’s no big push for avilry in the Lunar Empire. That came and died with Stratelibri’s interest in having more bird-riding miniatures. We have bird riders – the dragonewts. And since we don’t have a miniature company requesting that we make more uses of that basic form, we don’t need them. Besides, everyone knows riding a bison is cooler.
The Lunar Army has a handful of elite warriors trained to ride wyverns. It is not a large number – but it is there. Heck, if people are interested I could even post some notes on them.
Note that the wyvern stuff that appeared in the HW-era publications and died with them too.
Vrimak is one of the Portions of Yelm, and he is normally worshiped through the Yelm cult. Tholm has a cult that is of local importance in the old Rinliddi area.
Now remember also that horses are birds. And I think there is a long tradition among the Pure Horse People of decorated horse bridles and reins with feathers – the Feathered Horse Queen has parallels with the Reverend Horse Mother. And so we do have a tradition of bird-riding. They are called horses.
Also, look how damn many Blue Moon trolls there are. 380k. That’s one of the biggest troll colonies in the world. The Blue Moon Plateau is absolutely riddled with trolls. Maybe as many as 60k dark trolls, and easily 200k trollkin! Just imagine how vast a network of caves and tunnels must be there. Fissures, cracks, and tunnels chewed out of the body of the Blue Moon Goddess.