Once a great kingdom spreading over vast stretches of the Heavenspire Mountains, the Elven nation of Sparos is now confined to a valley deep within the mountains, where they exist in voluntary exile from the rest of the world, unwilling to parlay with the Empire of Turelion, who they regard as usurping warmongers, bent on nothing but the securing of wealth and power.
Whilst Sparos was historically ruled by a royal family, modern day Sparos is instead governed by a body of elected representatives, known as the Elders Council, who debate and enact new laws, deal with the administration of the state and make key decisions on behalf of the people of Sparos. There are 100 members of the Elders’ Council and every year, one of the seats goes up for election, with all of the citizens of Sparos over the age of 200 being eligible to vote and all citizens over the age of 400 being eligible to stand in the election should they wish. There is no restriction on the number of times someone can stand for election.
The Elves of Sparos were thought to have arrived at the Heavenspire Mountains long before the surrounding territory was claimed by any other group of people and the myth goes that the founders of Sparos fell so deeply in love with the grandeur and majesty of the mountains that they decided to make them their home. For centuries, the Sparites, governed by their Kings and Queens worked tirelessly to create a wealthy kingdom that stretched across the entire breadth of the Heavenspire mountains and for hundreds of miles north and south. Both the nations that grew up around the mountains of Euristan, and those much further away felt that the Kingdom of Sparos was one to be admired and there was always a bevy of envoys and diplomats from far and wide before the gates of Sparos’ Royal Palace, hoping to broker treaties and trade agreements with them. As a nation of Elves, they looked down on other races and felt that their kin from other parts of the world who went to live among those of other races acted traitorously against their own blood. This meant that whilst Sparos was happy to trade with the other nations, they never thought of any as their friends, and they tried to keep their neighbours at arm’s length from them at all times, lest the jewel that was Sparos be tainted by outside influences. It was this attitude that would prove to be their downfall. Their lack of interest in the outside world soon turned against them, as word reached Sparos that a small nation called Turelion in the south of Euristan continent was marching to war under the command of their self-appointed Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar, Machestaro I. Soon, petitions for aid that became increasingly desperate began to flood in from their neighbours, but they all fell on deaf ears. By the time that the last Queen of Sparos, Lysimacha XIX finally decided to take more of an interest in the troubles of the nations that bordered them, Sparos discovered that they were now surrounded on all sides by the newly formed Empire of Turelion. Trapped in the Heavenspire Mountains, and unwilling to go to war as they had so far not been threatened, the Sparites watched as practically the whole world fell to Machestaro's forces. Unsettled by the changes, Lysimacha XIX sent envoys to Machestaro’s court, requesting parlay and trade between the two, but all the Queen received in return was the heads of her representatives. The Empire’s message was clear, submit or be destroyed, it mattered not. The Queen’s advisors, guessing that Machestaro would not tolerate having a powerful, well-armed nation on his doorstep, counselled that Sparos should strike first, before the Empire’s armies gathered their full strength to throw against them. They all hoped that decisively proving the might of Sparos and showing the superior quality of her Elven troops would force Machestaro to the negotiating table. In the year 2AIF Sparite troops descended from the mountains to strike at the heart of the Empire, Turelion Province, hoping to punch their way to the newly founded Imperial capital Meltaro. At first they made great strides, even reaching the walls of the city, but the defences there proved too strong, and the new, unfamiliar Blackpowder Weapons and Firewing craft that the Empire’s force brought to bear on them swiftly took their toll. Soon the Sparite army found themselves on the retreat, an army chasing them through Turelion Province, whilst in the west an army advanced into the mountain from Ultaru Province and from the east an army came from Ferio Province. Though their troops fought valiantly, Sparos was grossly outnumbered and they found themselves fighting against troops that had once belonged to the neighbouring nations who had pleaded for their help, now pressed into service under the Imperial banner. In 4AIF, Sparos capital Penelionar was burned to the ground, with much of its wealth, art and literature being carried off back to Meltaro. Queen Lysimacha XIX and all of her royal household died in the city’s defence and the remaining Sparites fled deep into the mountains. Having broken Sparos’ strength, Machestaro let the Sparite survivors go, judging that they would soon freeze or stave in the mountains, or be picked off by the savage peoples his army had also driven into the depths of the mountains. Most of the Sparite survivors managed to regroup and they left their ancestral lands, travelling north where they began to rebuild their lives in a remote valley many hundreds of miles in all direction from the Empire of Turelion. There they live in exile, the ghosts of a once mighty people.
Demography and Population
Sparos is rare amongst the communities in Kelbonnar both in and outside the auspices of the Empire of Turelion as it is a mono-race community of Elves. This means that they speak Elven as their mother tongue, and although some of them are taught Turelite and other languages in order to communicate with the outside world if necessary they are rarely spoken. In its heyday Sparos was a heavily capitalistic society, with individuals spread out across the whole of the wealth spectrum from ultra rich to destitute. Nowadays, with the Sparites having been confined to their single valley in the Heavenspire Mountains for several hundred years, Sparos is now an incredibly egalitarian society. All Sparites receive the same weekly ration of food and the same monthly wage that can be spent how they wish, with most Sparites choosing to spend their wage on more luxury food items. This system ensures that the much more pressurised resource base of Sparos is shared out equally, enabling all Sparites to be able to work for the benefit of the state and to jump to its defence should that be deemed necessary. The only exception to this rule are those who serve as permanent soldiers, who are given a slightly larger food ration and are paid more per month, reflecting that they are daily putting their lives at risk in the defence of others.
Whilst Sparos used to rule over vast swathes of the Heavenspire Mountains, the growth in power of the Empire of Turelion along with the destruction of the nations and states that Sparos of old used to trade with have meant that the once grand nation have retreated to a single valley deep within the Heavenspire Mountains. The valley the state occupies is of a large enough size to support Sparos’ population and the Sparites have adapted well to growing crops that can withstand the cold of the mountains and to forestry management within their territory. In addition, vast caverns beneath the valley have been excavated to provide additional space for use as housing, industrial, mining and magically enabled farming underground.
The Sparite education system means that all of Sparos’ citizens are required to undertake a certain amount of intensive military training as part of their first 40 years of study. This means that the entirety of Sparos, save for the extremely aged and the infirm can be called up to defend the state, a valuable fallback position given the preponderance of ferocious monstrosities and savage tribes that also call the Heavenspire Mountains home. In addition, Sparites who are identified as having a natural affinity with military matters, be that swordsmanship, archery, strategy etc., continue to be educated in martial arts after their initial training, providing Sparos with an incredibly deadly, highly trained fighting force that takes on the brunt of the state’s defensive duties out of times of emergency. All Sparite soldiers are trained in as many weapon types as possible, the idea being that every individual soldier is versatile and able to adapt to any tactical situation. The only form of weaponry that a Sparite will never deign to use is any form of Blackpowder Weapon, which they view as being a loud, inelegant, inaccurate type of weapon, which they also view as a symbol of the oppressive Empire of Turelion.
Originally, the Elves of Sparos used to worship a whole pantheon of deities, but since their retreat they have focused their religious devotion on the mother goddess of their pantheon Iramater.
Agriculture & Industry
As a deliberately isolated state, Sparos has to produce everything that it needs to survive. The valley floor provides enough workable farmland to grow crops in the spring and summer months, whilst the valley’s slopes offer a plentiful supply of timber for the state’s needs. In addition, underground facilities have been created to provide metals to craft tools out of, areas for construction and crafting to take place and areas that have been lit with specially designed arcane lights that allow crops to be grown underground throughout the year, to ensure that there is a steady supply of food throughout the winter months.
Trade & Transport
Having isolated itself from the majority of the world, for fear of being forced into joining the Empire of Turelion, Sparos’ isolated position and lack of desire to maintain contact with the Imperial Provinces that surround the Heavenspire Mountains means that the state is impossible to reach except through undergoing an arduous trek through the mountains, a trek that is impossible for any form of trading caravan. The difficult journey is compounded by the fact that Sparos’ exact location is a tightly kept secret, with guard posts stationed many miles away from the valley it sits in whose garrisons have orders to either mislead or eliminate those that try to find Sparos without permission, or good reason. Despite its isolationism, Sparos is believed to trade with some of the mountain tribes that also dwell in the Heavenspire Mountains, mostly trading forge made weapons for animals that they have hunted that can be used to bolster the communal food source. As well as this, the Imperial Inquisition even believe that the Sparites may be trading with unknown entities that dwell deep beneath the surface of the world, in an area that has been designated the Underdark by Imperial Agents. Transport within the valley Sparos sits in is relatively easy, with its territory being easily crossed in a single day should the need arise. The Sparites have also constructed a network of tunnels just beneath the surface of the valley to facilitate easy travel during the winter months when the valley is choked with snow and ice.
Unlike most parts of the Empire of Turelion, Sparos institutes a state-wide education initiative, which Sparite children join at the age of ten and which they stay in until the age of 100. During this time they all undertake a wide variety of training for the first 40 years including rigorous military, farming, academic, economic and industrial education. After their first 40 years, they specialise in which ever area they were deemed to be most proficient in, an area that they intensively study for the remaining 50 years of their education, after which time they are allocated duties within a related area as required by the state. Youngsters who are discovered to have an aptitude for the arcane are removed from the Sparite education system as soon as their talent is identified and are transferred to a full-time education in the arcane arts an associated fields to make them as potent a spell-caster as possible. The fact that all of its citizens live for such an enormous length of time means that Sparos has a wealth of historical information and centuries of experience to draw upon, which aids the education of their youngsters no end. This combined with their rigorous education system means that most Sparites are proficient in almost any task that they are set to, and have a formidable level of skill when it comes to their specialist profession.