Capital: Doon Eidyan
Notable Settlements: Doon Adai, Glascha, Obar Dyethain (Everdown), Stonehaven
Ruler: Tripartite, Lady Rebekah, Hethering Hythe, The Handmaiden
Government: Monarchy, two party feudal system
Languages: Common (Dalriadan dialect), Itani, Dwarven minority.
Religion: No state religion, ancestor worship among the Itani.
Dalriada is a nation cut in two. The southern part is Dalriada proper, a highly political and rarefied civilisation of landed lords and ladies. The north-eastern provinces, however, are home to the Itani, Dalriada’s indigenous culture of clan (or rather, “lineage”) based ancestor worship. The two do not mix at all well, with Dalriadans ignoring Itani issues, or actively taking advantage of their less educated neighbours, while Itani treat the southerners with a mix of pity and contempt at best, and outright aggression at worst. Elders call everything south of Doon Adai the “forgetting”, a derogative that refers to the fact that a mere 300 years ago the Dalriadans were Itani themselves. Traces of this legacy are still apparent within Doon Eidyan’s two magical colleges, the Beloved (ne Muirne, very recently brought forcibly back under Itani dominion) and the Markers (the Lorne), names that previously referred to their respective Lineages. The region’s governmental system is similarly bipartite, revolving as it does around an ascendant “Majority court” and a less well favoured “Shadow court”. The former consists entirely of those loyal to the current King, or rather, Queen, while the membership of the latter is restricted to those enemies of the crown too powerful or well connected to dispose of directly. The Shadow court is allowed some autonomy in attempts to frustrate the crown, as such competition is seen as healthy. However, should any one of them step too far out of line the transgressor poses a threat not only to the king, but also to the continued courtesy shown to the Shadow court as a whole. Such threats do not historically tend to last long, but the current Lady of Shadow possess an army large enough to cause such enormous unrest that she is effectively a second queen in her own right. Dalriada has truly become bipartite, with each monarch incapable of forming effective change without the agreement of the other.
The capital of Dalriada is Doon Eidyan, also known as the Floating Mountain. It sits by a long loch, and gains its name from the fog that frequently conceals the base of the settlement. Doon Eidyan comprises a rich and bustling port and commerce district on the north side of its lower slopes, a suburban district on the south side, and increasingly wealthy neighbourhoods with an increase in altitude. Most of the way up the mountain are the central colleges for the Markers and the Beloved, with those of significant noble standing above them, and the King’s central court up higher still. Life in Doon Eidyan is obsessed with the social strata that are literally visible upon its slopes, with even poorer locals observing recent plays and movements within “The Game”, and for good reason. The ruling family has changed three times in recent memory, in both cases prompting a complete switch in position between the Majority and Shadow courts, no small amount of rapid bloodletting, and short-lived chaos for the lower classes. Fortunately for Dalriada as a whole these shifts of power have the majority of their impact out in the provinces, particularly Lothian (the holdings surrounding Doon Eidyan) and Ayr (surrounding Glascha) and the actual day to day running of business remains largely unaffected. The magical colleges have a much larger impact upon the economy of Doon Eidyan, with the Markers providing specialist knowledge and skill in various abstract fields (geography, history, magical theory) and the Beloved offering much more practical services (enchantment, abjuration, and summoning). Prices are steep, but nowhere else in Midgard is there such a high concentration of magic for sale. Unfortunately for the local populace, such structures have also seen recent unrest. While the Markers retain their chancellor, the Beloved have been entirely over-run by the Itani Muirne, under the tyranny of an actual living paragon, Ygraine.
Beyond the protectorate of Doon Adai, the most northerly outpost of Dalriadan culture, is the buffer of Stone Haven. Positioned as it is in a small valley between huge mountain ranges that cut across Dalriada to the west, and the coast to the east, the Dwarven trade settlement essentially provides a wall between the main bulk of the Itani and the Dalriadans. Or it would, if it did not stand empty. None know why this bustling trade outpost has been deserted, but nevertheless, the doors stand open, and none live within. Nevertheless, although an ‘Itani quarter’ is being developed within Doon Eidyan (under the guidance of Ygraine) the Lineages are only visible south of Stone Haven in small numbers, and often as some form of punishment for transgressions against their own. Any Dalriadan presence north of Stone Haven is treated with extreme distrust. The Dwarven settlement itself is not entirely unlike the structure of Eslen, comprised as it is of hard angular structures cut from the stone on which they rest. A few of these empty halls have been adapted for trade purposes and are thus of dimensions suitable for tall folk, but the majority are much more suited for Dwarven proportions. Its haunted corridors are unlikely to see human intrusion anytime soon.
Immediately north of Stone Haven the Itani Lineages assume power. The Lineages are extended clans that each revolve around a single ancestral archetype and are delineated by blood ties, themselves adjudicated by the Belthane, a loose sect of wise folk (usually clerics, sorcerers, or bards) who run the occult underpinnings to each clan. Current Lineages include the Fraene (mother), Kesh (crow), Bortai (blade), Sholto (bone), Haventel (drum), Kaitir (tree), and the Hagoi (worm). Temporal power within each clan is determined by the proximity an individual has to the relevant archetype, a nebulous distance (again, adjudicated by the Belthane) that begins at birth and may change over the the course of a life through both action and mindset. However, each member of a Lineage contributes to its strength and the dead are counted among that number. The Itani are not tall, but they are deep. Every one of them considers themselves responsible for the legacy of the full sum of their ancestry. The pinnacle of each clan is therefore its Reia, a champion who is considered to be the most high representation of a given Lineage, not simply at present, but that has ever lived.
The Itani “capital” is Obar Dyethain, called Everdown in the common tongue. It is a central hub for the slowly shifting Itani marches, and also the largest graveyard in the entirety of Midgard. All Itani corpses are returned to Everdown, and every funeral is conducted by a member of the relevant tribe’s Belthane. Everdown is also a substantial wood, as each burial is marked with a tree, and wood is a sacred (and entirely unused) material for the Itani. Everdown’s other major purpose is as a battleground for the Belthane. They are considered untouchable by other Itani, but no such restriction prevents one Belthane from harming another. When they decide to air their grievances out in the open, Everdown often wears the scars.
Outside of ritual and the capital, Itani life is simple. They are seasonal farmers and herdsfolk, with permanent dwellings built into the slopes of their homeland. Most commonly these are stone walled, set and roofed with earth, and cultivated such that insulation is provided by native vegetation. During the summer season a large part of the population follows their herds across the mountains and hills, returning only when autumn storms set in, and sitting out the winter on the strength of their harvest and cattle. Whereas Dalriadan culture uses a full range of materials, the Itani are restricted by religion and circumstance to the use of dung as fuel, bronze or copper for their metal working, and bone sourced from their herd or riding animals instead of wood, continuing the idea that death is far from a final barrier.
At Dalriada’s most southerly reaches the Lloegren border has, of late, blurred in a disturbing fashion. The previous King’s rise to power was somewhat assisted by those to the south, and in return they have assumed control of the entire province of Calamber, and by default, a wide stretch of highway from there back to their own lands. This transaction has benefitted both parties, but left the Itani in the lurch. Calamber was previously the only Itani holding south of Stonehaven, a situation that has yet to be fully resolved by either the current shadow Queen, or by Ygraine.