Gears of Kesmai
Leng is a dry, mountainous region ruled by the Autocrat of the Outer Ring, whose name is never spoken. It is said that one can summon this great sorcerer by invoking his name, just as one may summon a demon; but unlike any demon, he cannot be controlled. In addition to ruling over Leng, the Autocrat is the supreme power in The Guild of Sorcerers, a pale copy of the Brotherhood of Yasnac. The Guild is strong within Leng, but its activities are greatly hidden for fear of the same powers that engineered the banishment of the Brotherhood of Yasnac. The Autocrat has plans to change this, for he has read in ancient texts of beings of darkness such as would make the most powerful demon seem a child by comparison. The Autocrat has dreams of contacting them to offer his Guild as acolytes. Rumors of this plan have circulated about Leng, and the population in general hopes it will succeed and bring power and wealth to their country. Moral concerns are not very important in Leng. News of what the Autocrat would do has not left Leng, for the rugged land does not welcome strangers. The very few outlanders who did get wind of the scheme will never leave – they are buried too deeply.
The people of Leng are smaller than average, but very quick. They tend to be pale, owing to an aversion to the sun. Much of daily life in Leng is carried out during the early evening and night. The members of the Outer and Lesser Rings, the ruling class of the island, are never seen during daylight hours. The general population tends to have black hair and dark eyes that are flat and non-reflective. It is said that these eyes are the legacy of a strange race that came to Leng in older days and interbred with the natives. But if the truth of this story is known, it is known only to the Autocrat and his Outer Ring, and they do not speak of it.
As the supreme ruler of Leng, the Autocrat is empowered with the right to order execution for no better reason than whim. Serving the Autocrat directly is the Outer Ring, composed of the Masters of the Guild of Sorcerers, who act as the Autocrat’s chief administrators. The Autocrat’s will is enforced by the Lesser Ring, composed of elite fighters who have sworn to die in the service of the Autocrat. It is whispered that drugs and spells have made the Lesser Ring believe that vast rewards in the afterlife belong to those who die carrying out the Autocrat’s orders.
Sorcerers, fighters and rogues are numerous in Leng, and wizards not terribly uncommon, but clerics are unknown. The few clerics who visit Leng from other lands tend to have fatal accidents. The short sword and the bow are favored weapons in Leng. Fighters from Leng more than make up for their lack of size by their speed and training – and their lust for blood. When Leng’s inhabitants journey to the dungeons, it is most likely for the twin purposes of seeking lore of the Brotherhood, while also finding things to kill.
The Autocrat allows no killing in Leng, except that which he personally orders; he views any other type of death as the loss of a useful servant. There have been a few emigrants from Leng who left because of disgust with the practices of the Rings, but they are always silent, knowing that the Autocrat has dispatched assassins to deal with those who lightly talk about his business. The outer world is generally unaware of the doings of the Autocrat and his Ring, for their delving into the dark lore is quietly done in the underground caverns common throughout Leng. Unlike the Lord Emperor of the Brotherhood, the Autocrat prefers to move about his purposes with guile rather than bombast.
To the outer world, Leng is simply a backward place with a provincial attitude toward strangers. The chief exports are furs from animals that live in the high forests, and a delicate fabric woven from the webs of giant spiders that inhabit those same forests.