Meridian is a nation in the very cradle of civilization which has over the course of the last millennium faced considerable peril. Meridian, geographically speaking, is the entirety of the Athalish mainland which is visible from the southern slopes of Tusk Mountain. This sole fact has defined much of Meridian’s thorny history.
According to the Atolin chronicles, Meridian was established as a southern province of Meithannon in the sixth millennium MR. The elves set up numerous settlements throughout the land; the largest of these was Meridian City itself. The city flourished over the course of many centuries until the coming of the great dragon Tusk.
A treatise composed by the late archmage Erbocto argues very effectively that Tusk was originally a native of Karalon, and was repelled from those shores. The elves of the empire had for thousands of years dealt with dragons long before they became a danger to the nation, and when Tusk, a Great Red Wyrm established a lair on what would become known as Tusk Mountain, the elves were faced with one of the greatest threats to their nation since it was founded. In a reactionary move, the elves withdrew the bulk of their forces to protect the capital of Isilee Meithannon less than two hours’ dragon flight from Tusk’s lair. The dragon responded by slaughtering the elves wholesale in their now undefended provinces to the south. In response, the elves marched against Tusk but were dismayed to find that the dragon had quickly found allies among the giant folk of the mountains. These frost and fire giants alike were lead by a trio of titans, Tusk’s mighty generals, all of whom had betrayed Ataras. The elves suffered a crippling defeat including the loss of the Sphere of Atolin artifact. Thereafter, they abandoned the province and tried to consolidate their strength in the north.
There, in the shadow of the great dragon, humanity is thought to have had its humble beginnings around eight hundred years ago. Angelique’s children grew up among the ashes of their elven siblings in bitter fear of the dragon and its giant servants. Humans were at the whim of the dragon who, in good years, would ignore them in their squalor and in bad years would demand impossible tributes and exact a price in blood. After many generations, a hero among them rose to challenge the beast. Saint Kora of Donlin, according to legend, slew the beast; however, more recent events reveal that she actually banished Tusk to the Abyss as punishment. Her act ushered in a golden age for humankind. She resurrected the city of Meridian as a thriving province and ruled it as part of the greater nation of Donlin up until her disappearance in 16 Donlin Reckoning or DR (7730 MR). Kora was succeeded by a long line of just and noble kings who built upon her noble foundation, at least until the time of Anastal, who rose to prominence in 378 DR. Saint Anastal, initially a shadowy figure of the northern frontier of the nation turned to Angelique during her struggles against the dragon Infernalla, Tusk’s offspring. Anastal fought alongside two formidable elves, Reethe and Phae, and the halfling Norbit of Dallaros. Together they discovered that, beneath the idyllic political landscape of their nation, a firestorm was brewing. The mages’ guild, led by the archmage Adarante, known now as the lich Mortalest, was working to subvert the crown. Anastal and her companions reestablished contact with the elves of Meithannon who soon came to the aid of Donlin as Adarante seized power by dominating the king. In an attempt to consolidate his power in the face of an advancing army of elves, Mortalest tried to summon the Great Dragon Tusk back from the Abyss and bind the beast to his will. Something went horribly awry; a mile-wide portal to the Abyss opened beneath Donlin, swallowing the city entirely and releasing Tusk, who was shortly followed by countless demons. The Tusk War lasted little more than a week, but claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of souls as a quickly formed elf-human alliance tried to hold back the ravening hordes of the abyss. The war ended after the dragon’s final defeat at the hands of Anastal and her companions. Given the destruction of Donlin, a new nation was formed with Meridian as both its capital and namesake. Many of the other cities of the realm were abandoned in the face of the demons, and much of the populace has moved northward.
Meridian is ruled by King Cartor the Third, a kind and noble ruler. Many suggest that while Cartor may conduct the daily affairs of the state, the true power lies in the wisdom of Saint Nithalus, an archmage who leads the defense of the nation against the lingering demonic presence to the south. Nithalus is a humble man who sustains a new mages’ guild with the help of Phae of the elves. In light of the troubles mages have posed in the past, guild mages of this realm uphold a code of conduct very much like that of paladins.
The mages’ guild works in concert with the Priesthood of the Lady of Mercies, a sisterhood composed exclusively of female clergy.
Meridian itself is constrained in its growth by its sole water source, Meridian Lake, located in the affluent merchant district of the town. There are four mines surrounding Meridian and ample forests which ensure that materials to fortify the city against demonic incursions are seldom lacking.
North Basion is a fortress town designed to defend the northern frontier of the nation and hold the trading routes with Meithannon open in the face of local giants. The town was established by Saint Anastal in the years leading up to the Tusk War. North Bastion has a powerful tradition of warmages, as contrasted to the less powerful yet versatile casters of Meridian and elsewhere.
Aegis is a town devoted to the defense of the eastern borders of Meridian from the hordelands. The city boasts an impressive military. Theological tensions run high in the city as the Church of the Lady of Mercies is in constant dispute with the priesthood of The Warlord, the deity to which many of the fighters here entrust their destiny.
Aegis trains many rangers who typically devote themselves to slaying goblinoids.
Darkhold is a backwater settlement of Meridian and is rumored to be a hotbed of theological dissent through a number of nature cults that spring up in the settlement. In the midst of the mountains to the east of Darkhold, legend holds that there is great clearing with a great cedar tree that scrapes the heavens. This tree is rumoured to be the abode of a Dryad queen.
This small fishing town trades extensively with Meridian. The neighboring forest was home to a famous green dragon Emerix, slain by Nithalus and his companions early in the mage’s career.
Angloren and Braehaven:
These twin towns are among the most peaceful of the nation as they face few external threats. Far from being towns of indulgence, both provide soldiers and supplies to shore up defenses of the other settlements in the nation.
This cliff-top settlement looks out over the flooded expanse of the Bay of Fire, an ancient triumph of elven engineering.
The small saltwater bay neighboring the town is flooded through a formidable wall of force at its mouth. The flooded bay ensures that the water of the River of Destiny is both high enough to traverse without a need to portage rapids, and maintained at a stable level year round. The village is an important stop on the route between Isilee Meithannon and the central settlements of Meridian. The bay gets its name from a dragon turtle who was slain here by a mighty dwarven hero named Eagin the Runesmith.
The Crater that was once Donlin City has, over the past century, filled with water from Donlin River, which once ran through city. The massive circular lake is a cursed place, haunted by demon and undead alike. The critical trade route between Dallan and Meridian gives the crater a considerable berth of 10 miles and is patrolled tirelessly to protect merchant caravans along this treacherous highway. Many foolhardy adventurers have found a watery grave while searching for treasure in the crater.
Tintagel was once a thriving fishing settlement that traded with Donlin City, but in the years since it has shrunk considerably. Tintagel is directly downstream from Donlin Crater and it is widely feared that the latent demonic energies in the water are slowly corrupting the town. Guild mages keep a constant vigil over the town for an overt threat, but the true peril facing the city is thought to be to its children. It is not an uncommon occurrence for a mother never to see her newborn child, as many are secreted away by an attending cleric. It is whispered throughout the nation that many of the children born in Tintagel are corrupted within the womb and emerge with claws, vestigial wings, or worse.
Norn is the site of a trio of mines in the northern reaches of the country. The site was established as a settlement in 312 DR, whereupon it burnt to the ground and lay dormant for fifty years. The mine was reestablished in 372 DR and survived the Tusk War essentially unscathed. Since the initial discovery of coal in the area, veins of gold, and more recently iron, have been discovered in the area, causing Norn to grow considerably since its frontier days. Norn is also one of the primary gateways to the subterranean city of Lothis Breck, making it an exceptional trading post for human and dwarven merchants alike. Norn is also located on the shores of the River of Destiny.
Lothis Breck is an ancient dwarven city established below the foothills of Gold Mountain in 7214 MR. The dwarves of the city consolidated numerous clans of the Underdark into a single defensible settlement. With the coming of Tusk, numerous dwarves of the surface sought refuge here, causing it to grow considerably in its second century. The city prospered for four hundred years until the schism. A mighty civil war broke out in the underhalls between the Galdrix, righteous supporters of Moradin, and a heretical sect known as the Duergar, who devoted themselves to Laduguer, a god devoted to endless toil and greed. The Galdrix had the upper hand in the conflict, but through betrayal, trickery, and the intervention of numerous devils on behalf of the grey dwarves, the tide turned. Since that time, the surviving Galdrix fled to the surface where they found sanctuary with the humans of the newly formed nation of Donlin. Though only four dwarven generations have passed since their exile, the hill dwarves descendent from the Galdrix and the Duergar are noticeably distinct races now. Since the Tusk War, many fleeing demons found their way into the Underdark and preyed upon the grey dwarves and their Ba’atezu masters. Though these demonic attacks were pushed back, the damage to the Duegar defenses had been substantial. Jumping on the weakness, King Rothar of the hill dwarves in Meridian launched an all-out crusade, which gave rise to new heroes including Fronnesgarde the Invincible.
Relations between the dwarves of Lothis Breck and the humans of Meridian are unquestionably strong. Lothis Breck is still fraught with frequent internal challenges stemming from the dark history of their city at the hands of the Duergar. Although the dwarves have occupied the city for over a generation now, they still face occasional infernal incursions brought on by Duergar agents in their midst.
Lothis Breck itself is deceptively small by human standards. The compact, layered city has over twenty stories in total and takes up little more than four acres on its largest central layer that houses the temple forges, markets, and the royal palace. King Rothar still presides over his people, but at four hundred and thirteen, the monarch’s best days are clearly behind him, and the question of his succession hangs heavy in the deep.