The Red Guard
The Red Guard are a group of samurai exiled from the eastern isles that are the last remnants of the old guard that protected the Emperor Shan and Sato’Moi Clan Alliance from the rebel uprising. When the dynasty fell with the Emperors death at the Battle of Jong-Lu, the loyalist samurai and all those who had supported the old regime were banished from the Isles, and fled to the neighbouring lands. The Red Guard are the last of the samurai that protected the refugees on the voyage.
Originally a battle-hardened group of valiant warriors sworn to protect the refugees, the order has since fallen into disrepute. It has merged with several criminal organisations within the Tal Cities region and has lost its way from it’s original goal, that of reclaiming the Eastern Isles for the followers of the fallen Emperor.
However there are still many among the eastern refugee groups who look to the Red Guard with respect and believe that they will one day take them from their life of squalor and bring them home.
The Dark Elf Insurgents
The members of the insurgent group are from a dark and mysterious race of Elves that hail from a faraway homeland, and who’s precise origins are shrouded in mystery. Their intentions towards the city of Tal’Lushan are very clear however, they seek to destroy the city from within.
The group is surprisingly well equipped and with good numbers, leadership and intelligence, yet they do not seek to destroy the city using force, but through deniable means, using guile and deception to misdirect suspicion away from themselves and towards others, all in an effort to cause the various factions of the city to go to war with each other.
However politics are universal and within the group itself are various powerful factions with their own goals and interests to protect. Although the mission has the full backing and support of the Dark Elf council, they have controversially placed command of the operation in the hands of Rakesh Ithil’Bhar, a commander and operative of great skill and cunning, yet a male nonetheless, something which is unheard of with a mission of such importance.
There are many who would not be happy with such a development.
The Fine Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tea House
Created by an Imperial Elf with a mysterious past, the Tea House of the Heights District in Tal’Lushan is a meeting place for young intellectuals, bored members of the court or rising up and comers in the scholar bureaucracy. There they can talk, drink, share tales with their comrades and of course, enjoy the pleasures of the delightful young men and women who work at the Tea House.
Unlike the bawdy peasant brothels of the dockside the Tea House is a civilised establishment, and any who seek to cause a ruckus or gods forbid mean to harm one of the workers there will soon find themselves at best politely ejected from the premises, or at worst disappeared after a quiet word.
The southern islanders are not refugees, like the Orcs and Humans from the Eastern Isles, but are instead economic migrants who have been moving to Tal’Lushan in growing numbers for the last couple of decades, seeking work and a better life in the more prosperous Tal Cities. These migrants are predominantly human but with darker skin tones than local Lushani, and predominantly white hair. They prefer the colours white and blue, both because it reminds them of the warmer southern oceans they hail from, and also because the colours are integral to their sea goddess and water worship religion.
The Imperial Realm
A vast empire to the north of the Tal Cities, it is mostly made up of Humans and Elves, though has many other races within its domains. The Tal cities were once protected from the encroachment of the Empire by the Great Barrier Mountains the north beyond the Laosang Jungle, but about a century ago a path through the mountains was discovered, through which the Imperial Armies managed to pass and conquer the largely independent Tal Cities.
Time however has moved on and the control the Imperial Realm has over the Tal cities has lessened somewhat. They still demand the loyalty of the region, but they have reduced their stranglehold over the region to foster the lucrative trade that has blossomed in the region.
The Imperial Realm itself is split into several large kingdoms and regions ruled over by warlords, all of whom swear fealty to the Emperor, the King of Kings. Some regions, like Tal’Lushan, are largely self-governing exclaves, though others require occupational garrisons. The Empire itself is held together by two things. Unwavering loyalty to the Emperor, and the vast and labyrinthine bureaucracy that administrates and controls the Realm.
They are the dominant power in this part of the world, but they are not unchallenged.
These are the peoples who live in the Tal cities and the surrounding regions, named after the Lushan river, the dominant watercourse in the region and the source for much of its trade and wealth. They are mostly human, though other races such as Elves, Goblins and now Orcs are among their numbers. They prefer to wear light brown and orange colours, those being the traditional colours of the region.
Historically the Lushani have lived in nominally independent city states known as the Tal Cities, with the most powerful of those usually being Tal’Lushan itself, however about a century ago the Imperial Realm, a vast empire to the north found a path through the Barrier Mountains and was able to conquer the region.
Since then the Tal cities have lapsed into a sort of vassal state of the Empire, they still swear fealty to Emperor and have an Imperial Governor, but they enjoy more freedoms than most in the Realm.
There are however many among the Lushani who resent their overlords and seek to return to the greater freedoms they enjoyed before the Imperial occupation, though the means such a transition might take have split the dissenters into various factions, some calling for a peaceful path to independence, others preffering a more radical, and if necessary violent revolution.
The Dwarven Kingdoms
Formed during the beginning of the Third Age by the surviving Dwarven Households the Kingdoms arose as three distinct nations, and many smaller city states and fiefdoms united in their passionate desire to arise once again to their heights enjoyed by their ancestors, the dwarves are relentless in their pursuit of uncovering the mysterious of their past or the technological wonders of their future.
Recently and inspired by contact with other mortal races, particularly the humans, the Dwarves have entered into a common cultural renaissance, with many of the younger generations seeking to overthrow the stoic and culturally stagnant society of their forebears and embrace a much more aesethetically pleasing lifestyle.
These younger dwarves throw off the chockehold of ancient traditions and long forgotten grudges and instead embrace the new world, with new technologies and methods of work, but simultaneously are fascinated by the mysteries of their shared past and the glories of the now all but forgotten First Age.