Region: Eastern Kadrass
Governance: Vaxian Empire Notable Landmarks:
Ardenia is a far away island, full of beauty and wisdom. Never judge it by its size, as many of its inhabitants known, bigger things can exist than those the eye can see. The main entry point to the island and city of Ardenia from Ramsalon is the Northern Pier in the Port District this is where almost all passenger ships disembark. The trip between Ramsalon and Ardenia is almost three weeks by sea.
The climate of Ardenia is warmer than that of Ramsalon but is also one of extremes. Due to its location further into the East Kadrass it enjoys the warm southerly breezes that keep its temperature relatively pleasant. Its summers are hot during the day, but not humid. In the shade the day can be comfortable but outside the shade temperatures can reach as high as 104 F (40 C). It's cold at night with temperatures dropping to just above freezing. For the fall daytime temperatures drop to slightly chilly but not uncomfortably cold. At night temperatures begin to drop just below freezing. The leaves of trees change colors this time of year. In the winter the island is covered in snow as cold artic air descends from the north. The water around the island freezes. At night temperatures drop so low that those caught outside unprepared are likely to freeze to death. Spring brings a shift in the weather patterns and the rain. Monsoon conditions abound as storms are brought from the southeast. Severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours are common in this season. It rains for at least an hour once everyday. Due to the island's terrain however, flooding is relatively uncommon. The temperature is slightly warmer in the spring and more humid. At night it can be cold but not below freezing. Early summer brings the threat of hurricanes and tsunamis.
The culture of Ardenia could best be described as one large culture within which separate and distinct smaller cultures exist. Due to its separation, the culture of Ardenia is rather conservative in its reaction to change among the noble and middle classes. Most of the lower classes however welcome the changes brought about by increased contact with the outside world.
When the island was cut off from the rest of the world there were small populations of Nethar Dwarves and Gnomes living on the island as well as the humans and Elves While prior to the seperation these groups all lived in their own culturally designated parts of the city, this became more difficult as the population grew and land became scarce. As a result the Ardenians have developed a tolerance for most races that is unusual on the Vaxian Continent The races have learned to live together in close proximity and share all public buildings. The government of Ardenia however has remained mostly human and elven over the years. This is due to most of the voting populace being of these races. While the population in general may be tolerant of the races it knows, this does not always apply to the odder races either unknown to Ardenia or who have not lived on the island in hundreds of years. This would include Orcs Ogres Minotaurs were creatures, and most any other ugly and unusual creature. While the Ardenians may be more accepting, these creatures should probably not expect to be invited in to tea.
The largest subculture on the island is that of the mages. Magic has always been popular among Ardenians and with the isolation, the use of magic grew by leaps and bounds. Over ninety-five percent of mages in Ardenia belong to the powerful Mage's Guild. Those that do not are termed rogue magi. While not illegal, rogue magi are looked down upon by their fellow mages. Magic has become a part of daily life, its use is common and almost taken for granted. Almost everyone knows a spell or two. The magi may or may not dress in the robes of their magic school. They also may or may not devote all their time to studying magic, though the best do. There are more mages on the island than warriors and many mages in addition to magic study a martial art form unique to the island.
Week of Remembrance: The first holiday in Ardenia is the somber week of remembrance, beginning on the fifteenth day of March. This holiday marks the day about seven hundred years ago that Ramsalon invaded Ardenia and the last Ardenian King committed suicide rather than be captured. Ramsalon occupied Ardenia as a colony for another two hundred years, until the separation occurred. During that time Ramsalon controlled all events in Ardenia and tried to impose its culture on the island, much to the dismay of the native population. The week of remembrance has over the years become as much a week of remembering the past as it has about preserving traditional culture. Along with the symbolic remembrance ceremonies carried out all over the island there are now dance, music, food, language, and history exhibits all week. The Hetarai are out in force all week, showing off their skills with traditional arts. This week is during the heavy rain season on Ardenia and most people have to scurry to and from events under heavy umbrellas.
Carnival: May first marks the beginning of carnival season in Ardenia. This is the festival to welcome the warmer months and celebrate life. It is a stark contrast to the somber festival of remembrance. Carnival is the week in Ardenia where everything from social customs to society gets turned upside down and inside out. The entire island is in a constant state of partying, often with parties spilling out into the streets and parades every afternoon. No one, including servants, works during this time except by choice.
Costume balls are popular with the nobles, and this being the week of social freedom, quite often commoners will crash the parties of nobles without fear of retribution. Nobles will wander into the poorer districts to partake in the festivities of commoners without fear of it hurting their reputation. Even noble women, cloaked and disguised, have taken this up. During carnival, wine, ale and food all flow freely along with people’s morals. Masters dine with the slaves and noble girls take up with stable boys. Costumes worn during this time are extravagant and as revealing as the weather will permit. This week serves as the outlet for all the pent up anxieties and aggressions that Ardenian’s traditional society can produce. After the last day of carnival all things return to normal and people go about their business as usual, planning for next year’s carnival.
Battle Of Magdala: July twenty-fifth marks a day long celebration of the battle of Magdala. This event occurred a little over nine hundred years ago and marks the defeat of Vaxia when it tried to invade the island. The army of Vaxia had invaded via Magdala Island but when they tried to cross the straits of Davi during low tide, the Ardenia’s guards and military orders repulsed them. The entire invading army was reduced to only a few men.
At the same time Ardenia’s navy destroyed Vaxia’s navy off the coast of Ramsalon, leaving Ardenia safe from invasion for two hundred years. The holiday has turned into a type of Veterans Day, when the guards and those who served are honored along with the knights of the three military orders on Vaxia. A special ceremony is performed at the council hall and everyone on the island takes the day off to enjoy summer.
Harvest Festival: September tenth marks the start of the three-day harvest festival. This is when the crops on Magdala Island as well as most of those produced offshore are brought into granaries in the city. A celebration with parties and ale marks the holiday and many Ardenians visit the temple district to give thanks for Ardenia’s abundance and survival. A parade is held on the third day complete with floats from the various guilds and a young Ardenian maiden crowned harvest princess. The beer maker’s guild float is generally a crowd favorite.
New Years Eve: The New Year in Ardenia begins on the sunrise of the Winter Solstice but the party begins at sunset on the eve before. At sunset on New Years eve all Ardenians light all the fires and candles in their homes and in the streets, causing the island to become a sea of pins of light on the year’s longest night. Parties are thrown all over the island all night long as friends and family visit with one another. A young Ardenian girl is chosen by the senate as an example of all that is exemplary of Ardenia and paraded through the streets all night carrying a torch blessed by the high priests of Powainogy All who ask may light torches with the blessed flame for their own households. Selection to be the flame bearer is considered a great honor. At dawn on the day of the solstice, Ardenians gather on the east side of the island to watch the sun rise. All who are still awake or sober then head to the temple district to pay homage to the Gods and request a year of peace and prosperity. By noon the parties have begun again and will continue through the evening.
While musical instruments on Ardenia are similar if not the same to those in other parts of Vaxia there are some differences in style, construction, and in a few cases Ardenians have created instruments not known to the rest of the continent. These differences arise mostly for three reasons.
The first is the lack of wood available for constructing instruments. While some may be harvested off Magdala Island, the Ardenian government long ago placed restrictions on wood gathering to prevent deforestation. Much of the wood used in instruments has either been gathered this way, or more commonly has been of driftwood washed onto Ardenia’s many beaches. This provides wood instruments with a soft, light glow and smooth feel as well as decreased weight. Additionally, Ardenians have worked other materials into their instruments to make up for the lack of wood.
The second reason for the variances between Ardenian instruments and those of the continent is that Ardenians are lovers of music and have always been innovators when it came to instruments. Traditional Ardenian music has a distinct sound that is heavy on stringed and percussion instruments. Ardenians often view themselves as besieged by the cultures of the far larger nations all around them and have developed an attitude of conscious cultural preservation; this applies to music as well. The last reason is that Ardenians have been separated from the continent for five hundred years. During this time Ardenia missed new innovations on the continent, and new creations on Ardenia were unknown to the rest of the continent. This list is far from complete, as the ability to make music is only limited by the human imagination, but these are by far the most common instruments in Ardenia.
The Ardenian people cherish musical instruments and in the short period of time since re-contact with the continent have already established themselves as master instrument makers. Instruments come in all sizes and price ranges, from the poorly cut flute of the Port district to the jewel encrusted harps of the northern district.
Harpsichord: In the harpsichord, a small plectrum, often of quill, plucks the strings. The variety of sound from these plucked instruments is achieved not primarily by finger pressure, but more subtly by phrasing and articulation. Variety of tonal color can be obtained on a harpsichord by judicious choice of registration. The harpsichord is used both for solo performance and accompanying in chamber groups and in larger ensembles. It typically has two Sets of strings per key, tuned either to the same pitch or with one set sounding an octave higher (a 4' register). The registers are controlled by hand stops above the keyboard. Two manuals (keyboards) are to be found on certain larger instruments, which usually features three sets of strings. They have a characteristically pungent, immediate, almost at times percussive tone. Harpsichords, besides requiring a great deal of wood, are difficult to make and thus are extremely expensive. Only noble families can afford them and the ability to play a harpsichord is considered a mark of nobility.
Virginal: The virginal is a smaller, domestic harpsichord normally with one string per note. Having a shorter string length, the strings often run parallel from the keyboard in order to save space. This useful domestic instrument is more popular than the harpsichord among the middle class, mostly because it is slightly less expensive, though still only in the price range of the wealthiest of merchants.
A perpetual issue off the coasts, as with the entire Kadrass.
Ardenia is a far away island, full of beauty and wisdom. Never judge it by its size, as many of its inhabitants known, bigger things can exist than those the eye can see. The main entry point to the island and city of Ardenia from Ramsalon is the Northern Pier in the port district, this is where almost all passenger ships disembark.