Background on Itrea
Itrea is the setting for the Forbidden Queen series and Hunter's Legend, as well as many other forthcoming works.
This continent has a fairly short history. Apart from two indigenous races--the Drifters and the Icelings--most of Itrea was not settled until the First Fleet fled persecution in the Kinship Thrones.
Larkhaven was the first settlement founded, but the original settlers were forced inland when the Whitish army ransacked the town.
Baylore is now the capital, built within a wall due to fears the Whitish army would pursue the settlers inland. Larkhaven was rebuilt and now stands as a thriving port city.
Characteristics of Itrean Society
The early settlers of Itrea were escaping oppression in the Kinship Thrones mostly as a result of Whitish religious beliefs against magic. Therefore, when they founded Itrea, they tried to create as fair a society as possible.
Most early settlers turned their backs on religion when they reached Itrea, though a few traces of its influence linger in the names of certain small towns (Tabansville and Ilkayumsreach).
An unofficial worship system has sprung up among peasants in some regions--city folk jokingly blame the "Cloudy Gods" for bad luck, and some peasants have begun to worship the Cloudy Gods, since of course the success of their crops is highly dependent on weather. This is a source of great amusement for city folk.
Society in Itrea is much more equal than in Whitland as well. Women often share the same roles as men, especially as the Golden Age advances, and couples make the choice whether a man's or woman's surname should be passed to offspring when they wed (this is usually based on heritage of the surname, lineage, connections, status, or wealth of one particular family).
Same-sex marriage was illegal and a sign of evil in Whitland, and for several centuries after the founding of Itrea, these same beliefs carried over. However, people eventually began to question this assumption, since the laws were grounded in Whitish religious teachings, and same-sex marriage was eventually granted lawful status. However, the old prejudices still linger in some far-flung settlements. Baylore, Larkhaven, and other larger towns are much more open and accepting than smaller farming communities. Marriage is a non-religious commitment in Itrea.
Of course, Itrean society is far from perfect. Since enchanted goods made by the magic races command such high prices in Itrea and overseas, an upper middle class has emerged that is dominated by the magic races and the merchants dealing with them. Rent is extremely expensive within Baylore, so those with magic powers have the opportunity to move to Baylore and gain upward mobility through studying at Baylore University and plying their trade, while those without powers are essentially locked out of the city, unless they have always lived there.
The forbidden races have also attracted a disproportionate amount of hatred and suspicion over the years. They were declared forbidden from Baylore because of the dangers their powers posed, especially in a densely-populated city, but even outside the city they are sometimes treated like dirt.
Itrean Geography and Landscapes
Itrea has a spine of mountains along the western edge--past which no explorers have made much headway due to the indigenous race living in the mountains--and a vast plains dominating the center of the continent.
The eastern coast lined with treacherous cliffs, and the only safe place to land is at the port of Larkhaven, which is also dangerous due to tricky currents and shallow rocks in the harbor. This is why the continent remained out of reach of the Kinship Thrones for so long, and also why the Whitish eventually gave up on pursuing those who had fled their persecution.
The strip of land near the eastern coast is much wetter than the plains inland, thanks to a morning fog rolling in off the sea most days, so the land here typified by rolling green hills, grazing sheep, and gentle growing conditions.
Inland of this lies the Wandering Woods. This is a vast strip of forest running from the southern coast up to the mountains in the north, dominated by towering trees. A large proportion of these trees are able to move and communicate with the Drifters who live in the woods--some Drifters transform into trees once they reach a certain age. The Wandering Woods do not like allowing trespassers through, and they were responsible for saving the early Itrean settlers from the Whitish army. A road now runs through the woods in one place, connecting Baylore with Larkhaven, but any who venture off the road may never return.
The central Baylore Plains mostly remains as uncultivated grassland, as the soil is dry and rocky. However, the water table is much closer to the surface in Baylore Valley, and many smaller streams run through this region, so farmers are successfully able to grow millet, buckwheat, wheat, corn, fruit trees, and many other crops in this valley. However, very little of the valley is left for grazing--the domesticated herds of central Itrea mostly roam across huge expanses of the plains beyond the valley.
Ambervale is the only mountainous settlement west of the Wandering Woods. The rest of the mountains are the domain of the Icelings, who are very secretive and do not like visitors.
King's Port, a southern harbor city, is not actually part of the Itrean kingdom. This independent settlement was established by pirates and smugglers long before the original settlers founded Larkhaven, and continues to resist the laws and taxes of Itrea.
The Golden Age of Itrea
Once the early settlers founded Baylore, built the forest road back to the port at Larkhaven, and advanced their infrastructure past what was available in most of the Kinship Thrones thanks to magical implements, Itrea entered an age of great prosperity. They referred to this as their Golden Age.
The trade of magical goods was booming both at home and abroad, education and literacy were skyrocketing, society became more equal and fair over the years, and standards of living were greatly improved compared to the Kinship Thrones (Baylore enjoyed indoor plumbing, with heated water in wealthy homes; reliable lighting; and excellent health care thanks to the Drifters' healing ability).
This all threatens to come to an end around the start of Kalleah's reign in Forbidden Queen.