A castle has stood where Antar Castle stands today for longer than any can remember. People have always been drawn to the tops of the bluffs overlooking the Sea of Tet and time has continued to prove the need for those living there to seek protection.
While the early structures have long since disappeared into the past, the following castle plan was recorded as existing when Cothel grew from a cluster of clans and feuding houses into a formal country. The old castle can be contrasted to the current one. Some of the original buildings remain, while others were torn down to make way for expansions.
In Cothel, each family is expected to have the first born son server at least one year in the army. As an alternative, the family can enlist the son in the navy for a two year term. Because of the longer period of service, the family will receive a tax credit.
If the family has multiple sons, the additional children can also be enlisted in the army or navy, with additional tax benefits received by the family during the initial period of enlistment.
This practice, which was instituted by Stephenie’s grandfather, King Riton, has provided Cothel a strong military. And because of the relative peace over the last one hundred and twenty years, many families take advantage of the tax savings for multiple children.
The Sea of Tet is a large inland sea. Most of the known countries use Tet for commerce and travel. Its waters are often contested and piracy is common, especially in the East, where all recognized countries have fallen to internal strife and war. This eastern area, too close to the mountains, is often referred to as the “Lost Kingdoms”.
The long mountain range stretching from the Southwest to the Northeast is known as the Rim Mountains. Long ago, at the close of the Elven Wars, the elves were driven into these mountains. Human leaders today proclaim their greater dominance and strength in keeping the elves, known as the spawn of the Demon God Elrin, held in check. In truth, the elves, still rife with internal struggles and hatreds, have never recovered their numbers and are unlikely to unify a force to contest the human control of the lands around Tet.
Because of the long running hatred between the elves and the humans, no one, at least no one respectable, lives in “The Bad Lands” which are close to the mountains. Only those fleeing persecution as witches or warlocks, criminals who’s lives are forfeit, and people with nothing left to live for may try to survive in those untamed wilds. Those that do try, always keep their numbers small to avoid the notice of the elves.
The Endless Sea is much more treacherous than Tet and while the histories talk of people coming from lands across its never ending waves, there has been little to no trade or communication with those whole live there.
Nothing is known of the area on the other side of the Rim Mountains. Most believe it to be a great desert of sand, nothing more than a wasteland.
Map of the countries around the Sea of Tet
Today, most humans living in the western regions around the Sea of Tet have not seen an elf. The elves are scattered among the Rim Mountains to the South and East. Those humans who live closer to the mountains still encounter elves, though each encounter is normally hostile, with the more powerful elves winning those small conflicts. No human army in several hundred years has tried to invade the Rim Mountains; at least not successfully.
Two moons grace the sky. The Mother Moon is large and inviting, a soft white-gray disk that fills the night sky. When full, every twentieth day, its radiance will chase away the darkness. Scholars of long ago called this moon Vorgarti, though few know that name today.
Mestecarn, the mother moon’s dark red cousin, is a fraction of her size and orbits slowly across the sky. This sometimes feared moon is full only once every sixty-two days.
More than one thousand years before Stephenie was born, the elves, who ruled the lands around the Sea of Tet, fought a civil war. The battles were bloody and the lands were devastated. Seeing an opportunity, the humans living in the elven cities overthrew the weakened elven empire and drove them far into the Rim mountains that surround the Sea of Tet.
Today, elves are reviled and are not seen in human lands. The animosity between the races is deep.