Atop the Shoulders of Giants
The Olu Lansi (“Woods of the Sun”), is a large, forested nation inhabited primarily by elves. The nation lies to the north of the nation of Keland and its cities have been allies of Keland since around the time of the Planar War.
Unlike many nations, the Olu Lansi is only a formalized nation for purposes of negotiating with outsiders. In keeping with the millennia-old traditions of elven communities, for the most part each community – whether it be a small village or a thriving city – operates with complete sovereign autonomy from other neighboring communities. This tradition means that every community, no matter how small, maintains its own laws and traditions for as long as its members choose to maintain them. The singular exception to this comes when neighboring communities begin growing too close to one another, for which cases the elves have many old and complex rules of negotiation and resolution.
On a grand scale, this cultural detail makes the Olu Lansi a difficult neighbor. About fifty years after the events of the Planar War, the council members from the four largest communities in the Olu Lansi met to discuss matters of foreign politics – in particular how to handle them without risking division and conflict between the communities of the Olu Lansi. The conclusion they reached was to draw up regional divisions of the Olu Lansi based on proximity to the four major cities in order to form voting representative regions. Each region elects a representative to join a council that has the authority to negotiate with foreign nations, given the exception that they must receive the approval of the councils of at least 3 of the 4 major cities before executing any foreign policy.
Naturally, this means that the Olu Lansi tends to be very slow to action with regard to foreign matters. But to people in many other lands – even elves living in other lands – the Olu Lansi is not unlike a wizened elder. Even day to day life in most communities of the Olu Lansi tends to go at a measured pace with the prevailing attitude being that rushed and hurried lifestyles lead to regrettable mistakes and unnecessary stress. Some areas of the Olu Lansi have a slightly faster pace, especially in the south around the city of Sine where no small number of humans have moved over the past 400 or so years. But these are by far a minority of the communities in the great Woods of the Sun.
This emphasis on patience, however, has also made the Olu Lansi well known for its craftsmanship. With very little exception, practitioners of constructive and creative crafts in the Olu Lansi tend to approach their craft with the theory that the quality-focused production methods vastly outweighs quantity-focused production methods. It is largely agreed across most of the world that weapons, armor, tools, clothing, and almost anything made in the Olu Lansi tends to be of the utmost skill and craftsmanship. This is a generalization that is most true with regard to metalworking as the profession of a smith is held in very high regard in the Olu Lansi, especially because of the high availability of mithril in the area.
Sine lay less than a full day’s walk from the southern edge of the Olu Lansi, and even has a direct extension of one of the major Kelandish highways leading to it. The city was by far the most heavily multi-cultural and multi-racial community in the whole of the Olu Lansi, with just over 10% of the community being human, and a further 8% half-human and half-elven.
Sine was considered the most progressive and metropolitan of the cities of the Olu Lansi, and was sometimes criticized by more traditional members of the local culture as moving too fast and stumbling too often. Whereas most other communities, even the major cities to an extent, continue to rely on a certain level of self-sufficiency, Sine had begun to move toward a more segmented cultural style with a higher prevalence of urbanization and rural farming than elsewhere in the Wood.
However, the city of Sine was razed almost in its entirety as a final desperate gambit to inflict as serious a defeat on the forces of The Afflicted as those forces had inflicted upon the defenders of the city in the hours of battle beforehand. Left in the wake of this battle was a smoking, ashen ruin – a blackened landscape amidst the Forest of the Sun.
Alsint sits almost due north of Sine, several hundred miles through the Olu Lansi, situated in the foothills of the now commonly called “Giant Mountains” – so named due to the giants who reside within them. Due in large part to its proximity to giants, and especially in light of the “recent” past (from an elven perspective), Alsint is the most militarized community in the Olu Lansi. To be strictly accurate, the city does not have a large standing military force, but the majority of households have one or more sets of arms and armor among them, and in a state of emergency every household is expected to contribute at least one soldier to defend the community.
Alsint is also possibly the wealthiest of the communities in the Olu Lansi. The city itself lies within walking distance of several mithril mines, making it the source not only of raw materials for many wealthy smiths throughout the merchant sea area, but also the source of many fine armaments, and decorative tools.
Emi is the smallest of the four great cities of the Olu Lansi, lying rather near the border between the Olu Lansi and the Olu Gremarim (The Dark Woods). This border is not a strictly political one, but rather a magical one. A few miles south and east of Emi is about where the pervasive, and oppressive darkness of the Olu Gremarim begins, making it the unofficial border of Emi’s influence.
At one point in time Emi was a community much more militarized than Alsint, but between suffering a severe attack during the Planar War and having a drastic reduction in the city’s immediate threats following the goblin exodus, Emi has since lost much of its military trend – now replaced with a return to what are seen as traditional elven values in light of recent urbanization elsewhere in the Olu Lansi.
Triail is the western-most large city in the Olu Lansi, lying rather near the lands claimed by the Zahkram. Triail has subsequently spent much of its history in relative isolation from anything but other elven communities in some part by its own choice and in some further part due to the relative isolationism of its neighbors. The community is said to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in the whole forest, and has a long history of cultivating and sponsoring development of the arts.
Unfortunately for many outsiders, Triail in recent times is not very open to visitors, and though it does not prevent them from approaching, it carefully polices their stays.
The Holy States:
Three of the four foreign councils of the Olu Lansi approved a treaty which has lead to the Olu Lansi being treated as an unofficial extra member of the Holy States. The treaty provided for mutual protection of trade and military matters between the true Holy States and the communities of the Olu Lansi. However, in practice, it has given a great deal of power to politicians within the Holy States to influence the politics of the Olu Lansi by the manipulation of trade tariffs, the manipulation of protection provisions, and similar means. Though most communities of the Olu Lansi have avoided this influence to a large degree, the larger cities – especially Sine – have felt the screws turn once or twice when various dukes and provincial lords battled in the political arena for control of the exports from the Olu Lansi.