"This really isn't a forest. You can still see the sky. When this is all over, cross the Vessenes and visit the Heartlands. I'll show you lot a real forest." -an unnamed Heartlander mercenary during the Mayokan Civil War, southern Tanoron.The Heartlands are a great expanse of forests, mountains and valleys in the centre of Arikanda. While the south and east of the Heartlands see a Helikan League and Avadian Sovereignty presence, the majority of the Heartlands are held by independent kingdoms, city-states, and small tribes and bands, thinning out to become an untouched wilderness to the north and west.
The Heartlander States are a large region, spreading about a third of the continent's north-south stretch, and nearly a thousand kilometres from west to east. It is split into several sub-regions;
- The Masscht Valley in the south, consisting of the northern Vessene Mountains and the Masscht River, a long river that covers most of the west-to-east stretch of the Heartlands. It is home to the cities of Vessen and Okaricht.
- The Tauben Forest , a dense, thickly wooded forest stretching for hundreds of miles. It is sparsely populated for the most part, save for small towns, villages and the city of Norone in the forest's centre.
- The Heartland Plains , a stretch of low grassland in the Heartland's northwest. The cities of Elenger and Artenn can be found here. Arlan is also on its fringes.
- Kohrondy, a lightly forested region making up most of the central Heartlands.
- Vaienn , a series of rocky outcrops and formations in the north and central Heartlands. The Academy is housed here.
- Orich , a stretch of farmland and gentle hills in the very north of the Heartlands, home to the city Sterba.
For the majority of human history, the Heartlands have been considered a wilderness that has been sparsely populated by humanity at best. Even when larger city-states and kingdoms began to appear on the eastern and southern coasts of Arikanda, the Heartlander people chose to band together in tribes and small towns and settlements. In the last millennium, this has begun to change with the introduction of bronze to the area and the encroachment and influence of southern and eastern neighbours, with most of the larger settlements making the jump from bands led by chiefs to kingdoms and city-states led by kings, queens and Archons. These cities and kingdoms have various forms of interaction, ranging from co-operation and peaceful absorption through to hostilities and warring over resources. Recently, incursions have begun at the fringes of the Heartlands, with the Kalriv Empire and Helikan League making incursions from the east and south respectively. In the last fifty years this has intensified, with southern states joining the League and smaller towns in the east being annexed by the Empire.
The most prominent source of external travellers within the Heartlands is the Academy in Vaienn. Home to the largest collection of scientific and philosophical knowledge on Arikanda, the Academy draws potential scholars from all over Arikanda seeking to study, from places as far away as Kjoqvist and Maganti. Even the Kalriv, known for their insular culture, have sent minds to study there in the past. Vaienn itself draws adventurers and philosophers seeking the unusual rock formations. The Heartlands are also visited for their scenery. The Masscht Valley is known for its vistas and scenery. Commercially the Heartlands are a very attractive spot for traders to visit, both to sell goods from around the Calinan Sea and to purchase local goods.