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Cradle, Blackflame Empire and Neighboring Lands

Brief

The Blackflame Empire is a relatively small political faction located on the northwestern edge of the vast Ashwind Continent. Blackflame emperor Naru Huan serves as vassal to the much larger and more powerful Akura clan, whose capital city Moongrave is located roughly 10,000 miles to the south. Akura Malice, a Monarch, controls all of western Ashwind Continent, including some islands. The dragon Seshethkunaaz controls most of the Eastern part of the continent. Akura has the biggest share of the continent. See history and political factions of the entire area at Ashwind History.

History:

Below is the short version. More detail at Ashwind History

  • Originally, black dragons ruled most of the Ashwind Continent. At that time, the original Blackflame Empire was much bigger than it is now. The black dragons followed their own specialized Path of Black Flame. These powerful Sacred Beasts weilded a Path of pure destruction, and all feared them, even the gold dragons...
  • but they got greedy for the amazing weapons they found under ground, crafted through master Soulsmithing, via soulforging. They dug too deeply in the buried Labyrinth, leaving the gates open to attract the Dreadgod Wandering Titan, followed by his three brothers.
  • So...apocalyptic war. The Dread War left only two Monarchs alive on Cradle. Much of the Ashwind continent was brought to smoking ruin and rubble, especially in the area around the open labyrinth gates on the western border of the Blackflame Empire. (Skysworn)
  • When the dragons died, a smaller portion of the old dragon realm was brought under control and governed by some human survivors, the upstart Blackflame clan, who borrowed the power of dragons to work their sacred arts. They called their lands the Blackflame Empire and ruled ruthlessly, with overwhelming force. Their sacred arts centered on the Path of Black Flame, and their training and trials were conducted at unique courses, including Serpent’s Grave. At that time, Serpent’s Grave was the capital of the empire.
  • After five hundred years, everyone who practiced the Path of Black Flame went insane from the unhealthy side effects of the madra itself. The royal Blackflame family died out decades ago, gradually eaten from the inside out by their own madra. It's possible that one or two descendants of the Blackflame clan remain alive today, in diminished capacity.
  • Consequently, the emperor’s servants, the loyal Naru clan, took up the position of leadership, replacing the Blackflame clan. They did not practice the much-feared Path of Black Flame, and so became the face of the Blackflame empire, with their loyal reputation and shining emerald wings, and the people grew to know and trust them.
  • Thus, fifty years ago, House Naru quietly ascended the throne. The first Naru ruler, the Empress, has since retired into private seclusion. Currently, the emperor is her son, Naru Huan, an Overlord

The Emperor

  • The current Blackflame ruler is Emperor Naru Huan, an Overlord
  • He is the highest ranking sacred artist in the realm. For now...
  • For details about the emperor, see Naru Huan

Blackflame Ranking

  • In the Blackflame Empire, every sacred artist and every service provider is constantly ranked. Ranking changes as sacred artists advance, regress, or die. The ranking is made public. Underlord ranking is especially important. The emperor is an Overlord -- the only one -- so he's not ranked with Underlords
  • Underlord ranks during book 4, Skysworn:
  1. Highest Ranked is Honored Chon Ma -- "the number-one Underlord in the Blackflame Empire. He was the head of the Cloud Hammer School, and the dark cloud hanging over his head seemed to indicate the Underlord's perpetual mood. The bearded man scowled, folding his arms and revealing the hammers he wore at each hip."
  2. Underlord Naru Gwei -- ranked number two. Captain of the Skysworn. Greasy hair. Burnt face.
  3. Underlord Kotai Shou -- the third-ranked Underlord. “Shou was a grizzled old sea captain with his head shaved except for a dangling gray braid in front of each ear. He had storm-gray skin, and he had lost his left arm in battle as a child, replacing it with the limb of a massive stone-madra Remnant" (Skysworn). Kotai Clan artists have grey skin and contract with a fish spirit
  • Naru Saeya -- youngest Underlord in the empire until Eithan arrived. Peacock feathers behind an ear. The Emperor's little sister was tall and strikingly beautiful...but quick to action, like a bull.
  • Underlady Li Min Redflower -- Jade Eye School. Older lady. Healer.
  • Eithan Aurelius -- number 7 (he had recently been ranked eleven, until the death of Jai Daishou)

Major Places

  • Across the Western border is Sacred Valley, in Akura territory, forbidden. “We're going to the very outskirts of imperial territory,” she said... “People there have forgotten about the Empire.” (Skysworn, ch 9)
  • Serpent's Grave -- Original capital city of old empire. 7th largest city. Mount Shiryu. Location of Blackflame Training and Trial Grounds. Built on boack dragon bones: "Serpent’s Grave was a city built from ancient, giant dragon bones. Almost every building was either carved into a towering rib, supported by yellowed fangs, or resting inside a skull." (Reaper)
  • ⭐️Blackflame City - capital city, head of government led by Emperor Naru Huan Description: "The capital of the Blackflame Empire was surrounded by sharp, jagged walls of fractured obsidian so large that he wondered if they classified as mountains. Smaller gates had been carved through the walls all around, but the main gates rose as high as the walls themselves. Each gate was flanked by a towering statue in the same black stone: one, an Emperor with a crown and a long tail. He balanced a carved flame on one extended palm. This long-past Emperor stood facing his counterpart, an Empress with a similar crown and long tail, an identical flame on her palm as well...The Imperial Capital might have been the size of the entire Sacred Valley." (Underlord)
  • Stormrock -- Floating cloud fortress as big as a city, with Starsweep Tower, Headquarters of the Skysworn Organization
  • Sea Wall -- Defending the empire's Northern coast from invaders on the Trackless Sea. Home of Underlord Kotai Shou, a sea captain, and the Kotai clan, who have gray skin and bond with fish 🔱
  • Lastleaf Fortress -- in Southern Jungles, where special plants/trees are grown and harvested and elixirs are made at a sacred arts school (see Skysworn)
  • Southern Jungles -- numerous small quarrelsome families. Lots of sacred trees and plants -- some will eat you alive. The prison of the Apewalker. Also, the problematic border with the Seishen Kingdom
  • Desolate Wilds -- Out west. Minor clans, criminals, refugees, and exiles. Land is mostly desert running up against western wall of mountains and hills. Poisonous rivers, deformed black twisted trees, scores and scores of dreadbeasts.
    • Pure Lake -- only good water for miles
    • Transcendant Ruins -- suddenly part of the immense underground Labyrinth popped up in the Wilderness
    • Refuge -- old shanty-town. Newly flooded by refugees fleeing Dreadgod (see Bloodline, Reaper)

Over the Borders

  • To the west, on the Western Sea near the Trackless Sea, lies the Akura-owned Sky's Edge community, where the rare mineral Wintersteel is mined.
  • Also to the West, Sacred Valley lies forgotten and strictly restricted and forbidden, surrounded by mountains near the Western Sea.
  • To the east, the Wasteland acts as a buffer between Blackflame/Akura lands and the hostile dragon realm. The dragon realm covers the entire eastern half of the Ashwind continent. Ziel helps the The Beast King defend Wasteland villages from vicious dragon raids.
  • To the south, beyond the jungles, the Seishen King covets Blackflame lands.
  • Futher south, the Akura clan reigns as overlord to both Blackflame and Seishen vassals, under Monarch Akura Malice and Sage Akura Charity. The capital city is Moongrave. Path training and combat trials take place at the Night Wheel Valley. Akura holds control over the western half of the Ashwind continent. The monarch Akura Malice and the dragon monarch Seshethkunaaz have been deadly rivals for centuries.
  • To the north, Northstrider hunts dragons in the largest ocean, the Trackless Sea. He discovered an underwater gate into the great Labyrinth here.

Skysworn

The empire is defended by the Skysworn, an elite defense organization. Headquarters are located in Starsweep Tower on Stormrock, a mobile cloud fortress/city.

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