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Stony Cross, on the eastern shore of the continent of Abyssinia, is an old stronghold from the last great war that was a failed attempt at a unification of the continents as one global kingdom. In the end, the continents maintained their independence but were determined to reap the benefits of the new routes and relationships formed during the war. Utilizing their strengths, they developed their resources and goods for trade. Within the continents are smaller duchies and city-states. Information travels freely- science, magic, nature, social and fine arts are shared and built upon from one region to the next. These regions maintain their connections and build common knowledge through exchange programs and fostering. The city-states respect geographic parameters, but border skirmishes are a regular sport amongst the nobility. Each city-state has a noble family that can date its lineage back thousands of years.

Stony Cross was once simply a castle with a strategic ocean view, a strong defensive position, and a small community to support the soldiers living there. After the great war, 100 years ago, as continents redefined their interaction with each other, trade routes became prized locations for settlement. The juncture of waterways and good inland roads are valued highly by merchants and travelers alike. The past 100 years has been a time of prosperity and fast-paced growth, pushing what was once a small town past its boundaries to become a burgeoning city, a seaport of great renown and diversity. The streets hold markets, shops of all types bringing goods from all corners of the world. The shops along every street tempt the traveler, offering an array from baked goods and blacksmiths to jewelers and fabric merchants. Temples to various gods can easily be found, some with the help of a local and a few coins. If you can’t find what you are looking for in this town, you aren’t looking hard enough.

All manner of beings roam the continents, some adopting their new regional civilizations, others wandering hordes of opportunistic wild creatures. City-states and towns have learned to protect themselves from the Wilderness at the door by utilizing the diversity of the races and their inherent abilities. While some xenophobic regions exist in isolated locations, Stony Cross is the epitome of an inclusive community. Some older families hold their distance a little, but believe fully in the maxim “Better the monster you know than the one you don’t.”

Some move here for the safety in numbers, while others move here for the camaraderie, the cuisine, and the capital investment projects. But whether a family has been here one year or a thousand, all hold strongly to the belief that the nobility keep the chaos of the bursting town channeled and productive and allow each member to become an important part of the whole. As such, the citizens swear fealty to the Lord Blackbourne and Lady Blackbourne who reside in Blackbourne Castle on the hill. The community motto, and that of the Blackbournes handed down through the centuries, is Tueor Pectoris, or Protect the Heart.

The Blackbourne coat of arms is proudly displayed throughout town. The motto “Protect the Heart” is inscribed in architecture, placed on sculptures, and used as a rallying cry during war games and holidays. The fighters of the region understand the motto in its most literal sense as everyone knows protecting your heart while in battle is essential. Guard against attacks and never let the enemy that close. The poets and artists see the motto as a symbol of inner strength and a great many works are published with this philosophy encouraging those inclined to foolish amorous infatuations to protect themselves from being heartbroken. To be strong of mind and spirit, and be true to those you love. The oldest of the town folk recollect stories from their childhood centuries ago that were told to them by their parents. They believe the motto is figurative in nature and means protect the nobility for they are the heart of the community, the life force, and the control. Protecting them is an honor and a tradition and in protecting them they protect themselves.

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Tueor Pectoris Ryoden