The Kingdom of Vryer (Vraɪ-ɜːr)
At the top of the Vrisian hierarchy in the King of Vryer, sometimes called the Dragon King. They officially own all of the land of Vryer, even if they parcel it out to their many vassals. This official ownership is what allows for one of the most important concepts in the functioning of the Vrisian government: ryvok, the idea that when one must honor a freely given gift with duty and respect in proportion to the gift given.
RyvokRyvok comes into play in Vrisian politics with its feudal system. The king doles out large parcels of lands, or fiefdoms, to a chosen few, who are then known as jarls. These jarls then divvy up these parcels to then give out to a lower level of lord known as barons. From there these barons will give out small estates to trusted warriors who take an oath of honor known as knights. There are different kinds of knights based on what oath they take, but political they all wield similar powers. Also below barons are non-noble leaders of smaller towns known as judges, who are usually decided upon by the community that they lead. This reciprocal concept of ryvok is also seen in the common folk. Barons, jarls, and the king all provide shelter, warmth, and infrastructure to those who live in their territory. In exchange, the citizenry provide a level of loyalty to their local lord, providing a monthly tax of either money or food, which is usually paid up through the ranks until it reaches the king. Knights also help to protect commoners from both wild monsters and bandits, so people also pay these taxes to the knights as well.
Vrisian culture is all about adapting the cold southlands that the kingdom claims as its own. Very rarely do people go outside if they can help it, with village market stalls being non-existent. Trips are usually conducted in carriages drawn by draug-stout, scaled creatures that resemble wingless dragon dogs. Since winters in Vryer carry a lot of snow and frigid temperatures, houses will have large rooms for cattle and hay attached directly onto the main building. Crops are almost all root vegetables that are resistant to the cold. Warmed mead is the drink of choice of many adults in the kingdom, and sometimes children when times are desperate.
FashionOne of the most important barriers to freezing to death in the cold summers and colder winters is proper clothes. As such, Vrisian fashion is an practical part of survival, as opposed to other nations where its just a luxury thing. Furs and pelts are commonly used, taken from the local wildlife on hunts. One of the biggest signs of luxury in the kingdom is to own clothes made out of wool imported from other nations to further insulate their clothes. It is important for Vrisians to cover as much of their skin as possible, so when meeting someone out in the wild, usually only the eyes are uncovered, especially in the winter, although it is a little more lax when they are in town and near enough to a warm building. Long, wool scarves or treated, thin pelts are useful for getting as much coverage of the neck and face as possible, and gloves and thick boots help keep the extremities warm.
Fire and KyrelsWhen one considers that warmth is important in Vrisian culture, it should come as no surprise that fire plays a role in the lives of many Vrisians. Fire has many practical uses in peoples lives, starting with the basic use of cooking food and heating drinks. However, Vrisians sometimes get creative in their use of fire, such as clothing rooms, small rooms with a large fire in the center and racks at the edge to place clothes in when not being worn so they are warm and comfy when it is time to go outside. Fire also has a heavy symbolic use for Vrisians as well. It is very common for houses to have a large hearth in the middle of their common rooms, known as the kyrel, or family fire. Families will often sit around the kyrel for dinners, sharing good news, and telling stories of legends past. Whenever a guest comes over, they are obligated to give a bit of tinder or food scrap to the fire to symbolize their brief joining with the household. If the kyrel ever goes out, it is usually considered to be a sign that there is some unspoken conflict in the family that needs to be addressed.
FeastsWith the cold weather of Vryer, most meals are without fail eaten indoors. Instead of nice, pristine picnics on a grassy field, most Vrisians instead have an abundance of feasts, where on person will host and share a huge stockpile of their food with various people around the settlement. An ever rotating roster of hosts ensures that people have time to replenish their food resources in between feasts they throw. This cycle of feasting with neighbors combined with ryvok tends to lead to a tightly bound community where people can usually be expected to help their neighbors, although this courtesy rarely expands to include foreigners. Feasts are also thrown on a monthly basis by local lords, especially barons, open to the public. This open access to the lords of Vryer break down the clear barrier between nobility and the common man that is seen in other nations, especially Golrai. Lord Feasts are usually a raucous event with much drink that last long into the night, especially for the rare occurrences when the king themselves opens the halls of their castle to the public. While there is a breaking of barriers in these feasts, it is usually limited by the intense presence of knights and security guards to protect the king and ensure their safety.
Drake Reserves and VrykenThe original people of the land of Vryer, the draconic vryken, have had a troubled history with the human settlers, ultimately leading them to be placed on what are known as Drake Reserves, patches of land that nominally belong to the vryken, but still fall under the laws of Vryer. The vryken chiefs placed in charge of the reserves are treated as vassals to the king of Vryer on the level of jarls, although in practice they do not have quite the same level of power in the structure of Vryer though. On the reserves, vryken try their best to preserve their traditional ways, still practicing their own religion, holding traditional festivals, and trying to cook traditional foods, despite Vryer's best efforts. While Vrisians put vrykens on the edge of their society, hoping they will either assimilate or disappear, they do not hesitate in adding trappings of vryken culture into their daily lives. Outside of the common use of dragon imagery in crests and state imagery, many people add supposedly traditional vryken food to their diets, dress as vryken warriors to boost their confidence before a fight, and sing vryken war songs. How much of this is accurate to real vryken culture does not matter to the Vrisians, rather just the fact that they "honor" the native people of the region.
Vryer began as a kingdom with humans striking south into the cold lands, and the mythical leader of this initial expedition, Boris Rhynevick, declaring the land as belonging to him and his family. From there, he began the parceling process that is integral to ryvok, creating the first knights, one of each of the modern Vrisian Orders of Knighthood. From there, Boris built up Vrisia, the first city of Vryer before getting into conflict with the local vryken. After getting over the initial shock of meeting the mythical dragonfolk, the Vrisians made quick work either making deals with the natives for land or straight up going to war. Eventually, all of modern Vryer was added to the kingdom and the remaining vryken slowly lost what land they had been given until they reached the point of the Drake Reserves. With the vryken pacified, the kingdom tried to expand westward, but soon met a wall in the form of the araxi people, seemingly monsters made of ice that would just reform after being destroyed. After many failed campaigns against the araxi, the Vrisians eventually gave up and left their borders where they are now. In recent years though, conflict rears its head again as Vryer attempts to pull the bordering Raian Protectorate under its sway. This and several other issues with Golrai seem to be increasing tension, with violence feeling like it could break out at any moment.
Demography and Population
Most of the actual citizens of Vryer are humans, clustered into the various walled cities run by barons and jarls. There are some scattered villages without walls throughout the kingdom, usually with a knight around to help keep people safe. Also, in between the cities and villages can be found Drake Reserves, where most of the vryken in the kingdom live, although some have decided to give up on holding onto their culture and assimilate into Vrisian life. At the western edge of the kingdom, there are less overt cities and more exploratory bases, being run by a knight instead of a normal lord. These bases are staffed with volunteer citizens who help with maintenance, food preparation, and sometimes-if they receive the proper training-guarding the base. The bases are meant to monitor the activity of the frozen araxi that live to the west of the kingdom. While the araxi have never directly attacked the Vrisians, there is always the fear of combat breaking out anew. To the south of the kingdom are the frigid highlands, where there is the highest concentration of Drake Reserves in the nation. Vryken down south are much more bold in their insistence on holding onto the old ways, as well as advocating for the rights of vryken in the kingdom. There has even been some whispers of trying to merge all of the reserves in the highlands into its own nation, autonomous from Vryer, but there has been no real progress on that front yet.
The Kingdom of Vryer has been pretty set in its boundaries for a long time, and these boundaries mostly contain the cold lands to the south of the boreal forests. There is little in the way of vegetation, so many have to learn to how to make the most of what little vegetation there is. The land is cracked with fjords and small glacial deposits. To the south is the frigid highlands, a mountainous region where the vryken were traditionally from, although they lost most of it to Vryer. On the western edge of the nation lies the the glaciers of the araxi.
Vryer does not have a formal military like Golrai; instead it has its various knights who will then round up willing citizens in a posse whenever needed. Vryer has not needed anything larger than a posse in a long time, not since the conflicts with the araxi. Most problems can be solved with just knights nowadays, though. These knights are required to always be ready to be called upon as part of the oath of fealty they swear to their lord. Along with swearing an oath, knights also enter into one of six knightly orders.
Order of the ValkyrieKnown as white knights, those the of the Order of the Valkyrie are some of the most popular in the kingdom. This popularity stems from the core of the order's oath: protecting those who cannot protect themselves. Many who seek knighthood from youth will join this order, as the image of a knight in shining armor protecting the meek is quite alluring. These white knights are often the ones to rush headfirst into danger when their settlement is attacked, even at the cost of their own safety. They also are the ones who are the least likely to recant on their knightly obligations or abuse their noble power, further increasing their popularity among the people.
Order of the DragonUsually known as scaled knights, the Order of the Dragon focuses on strength as a part of their oath. Strength both of body and mind, both in themselves and in those around them. In their free time, scaled knights will often go out into the wilderness to train their endurance, and possibly their combat skills if they encounter monsters. Some get really into meditation, often disallowing even their closest allies into their chambers for days at a time. What most citizens know the Order of the Dragon for though, is the training of willing commoners to take part in knightly posses when the time comes. They also are commonly seen on the exploratory bases to the west.
Order of the WardenDerided as jailer knights by most commoners, knights from the Order of the Warden are much more focused on prevention than in-the-moment protection. They often go through less combat training than the other orders and instead work closely with local barons and judges to create infrastructure to decrease the likelihood of monster and bandit attacks in the first place. They work closely with their fellow knights and civilian volunteers to establish watches, patrols, and more. While many resent how restrictive jailer knights can be, especially when they try to take security too far and start trampling over civil liberties, most also recognize that they do a lot of important work towards keeping everyone safe.
Order of the SlayerOften called monster hunters, knights of the Order of the Slayer tend to spend the most time away from their estates, as they took an oath to protect the Vrisian people from monsters, and the most efficient way to do this is to take the fight to them. Monster hunters will often ride out into the wilderness for weeks, sometimes months, looking for monster dens. While it can be frustrating for their fellow knights that they are constantly out of town, many agree that it is probably for the best. When in town, these knights can also be a bit intense compared to their peers, as they tend to take the same zealotry they have for killing monsters as they do with punishing bandits and other criminals. Many monster hunters have had their knighthood revoked for cutting down petty criminals in the streets for as little as stealing a loaf of bread.
Order of SpiritsProtection of people's morale is just as important as protection of their bodies, or at least that is what knights of the Order of Spirits believe, also known as bar knights. Often seen in a tavern, starting an uproarious drinking song, bar knights are the least likely to fight monsters or criminals. Instead, their goal is to keep the people of Vryer happy while they are living the freezing cold around them. While most knights use a sword and shield, bar knights' two best weapons are food and drink. The only time most people see a bar knight acting like a "proper" knight is when they are defending a caravan of those two things.
Order of the DivineWhile most knights explicitly swear an oath to the crown of Vryer, the holy knights of the Order of the Divine also swear an oath to the gods of Elden Pantheon. Most holy knights will choose a specific deity to swear themselves to, but some have been known to swear themselves to the pantheon in general. While many lords are less likely to trust these "double-oathed" knights, holy knights are often the most zealous when it comes to carrying out the goals of Vryer. Many can be seen on Drake Reserves, trying to show the vryken the light of the Elden gods, or on the exploratory bases, ready to spread the Elden religion into the lands of the araxi.
As a primarily human nation, it comes as no surprise to people that Vryer follows the Elden Pantheon in general. However, there are several key differences between Vrisian religion and Golraian religion. First of all, Vrisians do not believe in golraya, people who are ideal enough to be inhabited by a god. They believe in raya in general, it would be difficult not to, but the idea of gods inhabiting mortal bodies seems ludicrous to them. In fact, the concept is outright blasphemous to the particularly devout. As one can imagine, believing that the Golraian political leaders are blasphemous liars does not set a great tone for diplomatic relations. Vrisian religion also has a more draconic bent than other versions of the Elden Pantheon. While most worshippers view the gods as humans, or at the very least human-like, however, most Vrisians agree that the gods were dragons that ascended to the heavens when the dragons disappeared. Much of this likely comes from the large number of draconic ruins in Vryer that led to the nation adopting dragon imagery in much of its art. This obsession with dragons likely just bled into other parts of the culture, such as its religion.
Vryer is farther away from the center of the continent, so they do not deal other countries much. However, they do deal with a couple countries prominently. First of all, Vryer is locked in essentially a cold war with The Golrai Empire over control of the Raian Protectorate. The region is more fertile than the cold lands of Vryer while also having much in the way of cultural importance for all of humanity. Tensions are constantly rising between the two as they both send agents to influence the semi-autonomous state. While violence has not broken out yet, the day when it happens feel closer every day. While not strong relations, Vryer has had contact with the Remnant Isles to the north. The relation has mostly been neutral, with the two nations agreeing not to bother each other. However, there are some people, especially from one of the university that desperately want to get into Vryer to explore the ancient draconic ruins. However, many in the kingdom, especially vryken rights activists, are resistant to the idea of letting archaeologists into the sites.
From the Dragon's Fire
The Golrai Empire and the Kingdom of Vryer have never liked each other, but in recent decades those tensions have increased with conflict over the Raian Protectorate. The protectorate is officially under the guardianship of the empire, which displeases Vryer, as the protectorate contains the historical origin point of humanity. For several decades, both the empire and the kingdom have been sending agents to try to influence the leaders of the semi-autonomous state in an attempt to wrest complete control of the region for themselves.
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