[Pictured above, farmland of The Plains, with Mount Sopra on the horizon]
Though many have tried, it is difficult to encapsulate in words the outstanding natural beauty of The Plains, with fields of green and gold as far as the eye can see, the land gently rising and falling, flowing for miles in every direction.
Almost all of the incredibly fertile soil is dedicated to farming, whether that be crops or livestock, with beautiful lakes, rivers and woodlands providing the natural resources necessary to support the wide network of towns and villages dotted across the landscape. In the centre of it all, silhouetted against the horizon, a solitary group of mountains, atop which live the ruling nobles.
There is only one main road up the mountains, known as the Sopra Pass. It spirals upward, with towns, market places and houses of the lesser nobles every half mile, each more impressive than the last. Merchants travel from far and wide to fill the stores with rare and exotic goods, with the most valuable and sought after wares reserved for those at the very top.
At the very end of the road is the Great House Toqare, built upon the peak of the highest mountain in the region, Mount Sopra, and it's not difficult to see why. From here they can see in all directions the vast swathes of land under their control, keeping an eye on all that goes on.
— The Plains, The Bridgestone Travel Guide
With institutional education only available to the wealthy, most of the population are forced to live off of the land, taught instead by their parents and communities. The arduous physical work means that strength, resilience, and the ability to work long hours each day are qualities necessary for survival.
When the day is done, most retire to the local public house to enjoy a few drinks and a smoke, and grumble about how “what they got ain't much, an' that don't look like changin' any time soon”. In fact, there are some rumours going around that some of those at the foot of the mountain have just about had enough of this, and are planning to go and give those nobles a piece of their mind!
It is said that if something can be bought, then it can be bought from the Merchants of the Plains. Though they travel far and wide to acquire goods, all return to Sopra to sell. Much of the pride of the Great House Toqare, the beautiful ornaments and architecture, the efficient infrastructure and steadfast defences, were provided and sourced by the Merchants. In repayment, the Merchants of the Plains pay little to no tax, and have been gifted large areas of land, including places all along the Sopra Pass.
It is said that if something can't be bought, then it can be bought from The Guild. If you want to relieve someone of something, whether that a be a valuable possession or their life, then this is the group you need contact, but be warned, the cost will be high, and you will always pay the price.
The Guild also owns one of the only two universities in The Plains, the other, unsurprisingly, owned by the Great House Toqare. The Guild differentiates its teachings by leveraging the knowledge and skill sets of its members to provide a rather unique curriculum, appropriate for individuals that wish to start a career within its ranks.
The nobility of The Plains live exclusively on the slopes of Mount Sopra (and the surrounding, smaller peaks). The power and influence of any given house directly correlates to its distance along the Sopra Pass, with the Great House Toqare, and its university, positioned at the very peak.
The Great House of the Plains is still reeling from the recent loss of its former head, Grand Duchess Carina Toqare. Admired by nobles all across the slopes of Sopra for her decisive and unwavering leadership, she will be greatly missed, as all eyes now turn to her successor, Magno Toqare. It is thanks to the Grand Duchess that the name Toqare carries the highest possible authority in the region. Only time will tell what young Magno will do with such power.
While the lower classes have been unhappy for a while, they seem to have been making at least marginally more noise about it lately. In a recent public speech, Grand Duke Magno Toqare attempted to reassure members of the nobility that these rumours and whisperings were nothing to worry about, and made it perfectly clear that anyone found to be plotting against the Great House would feel the full and ferocious force of Toqare justice. Attendees presumably left feeling reassured.
Laura has represented the Merchants for a number of years now, ever since her father passed away. She has always been well liked, described as both charming and earnest, making her an obvious choice for the role.
Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Marsilio Venediti would perhaps not describe it as such. He maintains a carefully blank expression at all times, and his gaze feels as though it could reach into your very thoughts and read them like words on a page.
In complete contrast to Marsilio, Guido is one of the most expressive and eccentric people you could wish to meet. Considered by many to be “quite intense for such a small fellow”, he has, for the longest time, been assigned the incredibly important and prestigious task maintaining the records and documents of The Guild, a duty he undertakes with characteristic levels of passion.
Having only become Grand Duke relatively recently, little is known about what kind of leader Magno will become, but it is clear even from the few public appearances he has made so far that he is fiercely determined to live up to the expectations of the title left by his late mother.
Not much is known about Lady Clara. She seems to avoid public gatherings wherever possible, preferring to keep herself to herself.