Arguably the largest kingdom in Dálnaes, Etherea dominates the center of the continent. It is protected on all sides by both mountain ranges and the Enchanted Wood, a magic-infused forest that is nearly impossible for outsiders to penetrate. Ruled from two thrones by a human queen and and elven king, Etherea's government is nonetheless one of the most stable and least corrupt in the world. Though a monarchy, there are many systems in place that provide checks and balances to keep the kingdom running smoothly. Any change that would affect both the humans and the denizens of the Enchanted Wood is decided upon by the Kingdom Council, the collection of the leaders of the thirteen most prominent races in Etherea.
Etherea is well-known by other kingdoms as being a center of magic and learning. It is common belief that every Etherean is born a mage, and all Etherean children are required to undergo magical assessment tests to prevent uncontrolled magical incidents. Dragons are a common sight in Etherea's skies, and the dragon-riding Wings of Etherea are feared throughout the world.
Though protected by highly defensible geography, Etherea often suffers conflict with, its neighbor to the northwest. Most conflicts are small and quick, followed by uneasy truces and shaky trade agreements. The few full-scale wars between the two are often devastatingly destructive, as Kilgroth is the only other kingdom to utilize dragons in combat, and they aren't shy about wielding Chaos magic.
Monarchy: though Etherea has a King and Queen, decisions for the kingdom as whole are made by the Kingdom Council
Current human rulers: Queen Lorah Calamin and Lord Naerumar Azjanae
Current elven ruler: King Andarel
Council of Lords: an advisory council to the Queen, made up of a number of influential nobleman as well as seven Ministers of Etherea's industries
High Justicar: responsible for legal disputes that are major enough to reach the kingdom's court
Besides Caer Thalion, Etherea maintains the largest standing army in Dálnaes. It has a fully-manned fort at each border passage, as well as a full legion of both foot soldiers and cavalry housed in the capital that is ready for combat year-round. Etherea's true military strength comes from its dragons. The Wings of Etherea regularly patrol the kingdom and guard Araniae. Any one dragon is powerful enough to battle as many as fifty men, and in peak dragon-breeding periods, the Dragon Roost located in Araniae houses over two hundred dragons.Military Ranks
- General - oversees all military actions in the kingdom; has limited jurisdiction over the Shields and Royal Guard, except in cases of immediate city defense; yields only to the Queen or Lord Royal, except in situations of danger to their lives.
- Commander - rank below general; Etherea has two commanders, one for ground troops and one for the Wings
- Captain - third rank; each commander usually has three to four captains based on total soldier count
- Lieutenant - fourth rank; typically three to five to each captain; responsible for assigning soldiers to Sergeant legions; each lieutenant is in charge of a barracks that houses 200-300 men
- Sergeant/Flight Leader - fifth and lowest officer rank; sergeants command legions of twenty ground soldiers and flight leaders command ten dragons
The Shields of Justice
Within Araniae and major towns, Etherea maintains a city guard called the Shields of Justice, commonly referred to simply as Shields. Independent from the military, the Shields answer to the royal family and the justicars. The Lord Royal is traditionally the one in charge of the Shields within Araniae. To distinguished themselves from military personnel, the Shields wear green tabards with a silver shield device.Shield Ranks
- High Justicar - oversees all Shield activity and reports any concerns to the Lord Royal
- Shield Captain - the highest rank for the guards themselves, they coordinate Shield assignments and work with the justicars to send Shields outside of the city if needed. Where further authority is required, they report to the Lord Royal
- Lieutenant - each Shield office has three lieutenants responsible for organizing patrols during the three shifts each day
- Shield - the basic unit of the city guard; they patrol the city in small groups at regular intervals in green tabards with steel armor; they are trained to respond immediately to any citizen in need of assistance, and are authorized to investigate crimes and make arrests as needed, even of members of the military
- Justicar - The Hands of Justice, they are the High Justicar's legal voices, and have the authority to settle cases of crime or disputes. Each town in Etherea has a Justicar assigned to act on behalf of the High Justicar, and decide what cases need to be sent to the city
- Arbiter - there are usually two to each Justicar, and act as secondary enforcers of the law when a justicar is not available
- Advocate - also called the People’s Voice, advocates handle simple cases of disputes over minor laws. They also take care of paperwork and deciding what cases need the justicars’ attention. For cases that go to the High Justicar, each side is assigned an advocate to argue their case
The Royal Guard
Separate form either the military or the Shields is the Royal Guard. They are in responsible for the protection of the palace and the royal family. The Lord Royal is commands them, and decides who gets promoted from regular to Dragon Guard. Once a regular is selected to join the Dragon Guard, he goes through standard Wing training and is eventually paired with a dragon companion. Regular Royal Guards wear blue tabards bearing Etherea's royal seal, and Dragon Guards wear purple tabards with the royal seal, as well as dragon-wing emblazoned helms. Royal Guards have the authority to detain or arrest anyone on palace grounds, regardless of title or social status. Regulars defer to Dragon Guards where necessary, and Dragon Guards and the only ones allowed to guard and patrol the royal family wing. All Royal Guards take commands directly from the Lord Royal or his chosen second-in-command, and their first priority is the protection of the royal family. Dragons attached to Royal Guards are responsible for protecting the city during an attack.
Etherea follows the belief in the gods of Ímlæs. Outside of Araniae, temples generally honor the Ímlæn Circle altogether, rather than separately, though smaller shrines and temples exist for individual gods. Araniae itself houses a large temple complex in the Divine District, where each of the thirteen Circle gods has their own temple and garden, with smaller shrines and temples for others. Divine favor is very important to Etherean royalty, and the Queen personally tours the Grand Temple once a month to give offerings to each god.
Each temple has its own high priest, who oversees proper worship and temple maintenance for their patron god. They are considered their patron's voice in the kingdom, and advise the Queen on immortal affairs. All priests are treated with great respect, particularly those who choose service to gods that demand strict lifestyles. They primarily take care of day-to-day temple activities, though a good number traverse the city to assist with more mundane needs as well.
Outside of Araniae, worship is more localized to specific needs of the area. Hunters leave greater offerings for Drakala and Articus, and traveling soldiers always stop to pray at shrines to Zephyrus. While all Ethereans worship the Circle, many minor gods have greater importance in rural areas where their sphere has greater influence.