Is this one of your pranks? I honestly cannot tell. Your sense of humor is so odd. I received your request, and my first thought was to ask you if the great and gilded libraries of Triada had all burned down. You want a summary of the continent of Noksonon? Well and good. While I’m at it, I suppose you’d also like me to condense the royal lineage of Usara down to a few names.
I shall instead assume the great Triadan libraries are still standing, and that instead you have a congenital aversion to research.
Very well. You've quickened my interest. Can I distill the kingdoms of Noksonon to a few paragraphs? I’m keen to play your game. Be still as I shower you with knowledge.
Senji’s hammer, Ondrine, didn’t you have a tutor?
Very well. To the challenge!
Noksonon is divided into six separate lands, each with their own kingdoms. Let’s start with what you know and move southward, shall we? To the extreme north of the continent—what we call home—are the human lands with the three human kingdoms of Triada, Usara, and Imprevar. (Does it please you that I listed your uncle’s kingdom first? It should. Imprevar is clearly the largest and strongest of the three, and while Triada does lead the others in fashion and style, Usara lays claim to being the oldest and perhaps the most important thereby. It’s been here twenty times longer than either Triada or Imprevar. When the continent was covered in night and Giants walked the land, Imprevar and Triada were simply a part of the Usaran Kingdom. My apologies if that stings your pride.
Oh, and let’s not forget the Sandrunners. I don’t know it a collection of colorful and constantly-moving tents should be classified as a kingdom, but their military might is nearly as large as your uncle’s. Best not to neglect them.
Let’s move southward, shall we, past the Lumyn Strait and on to Laria, the kingdom of the Luminents. From the Vellyn Isle)) to the western slope of the Rhaeg Mountains, the Luminents rule in that harmonious way we see in all the paintings. So deceptive. I’ve read their histories, and there has never been a kingdom more vengeful if their borders are broached. Advise your uncle to keep your treaty with the Luminents always. Stay obligingly on your side of the strait. The Luminents may seem like a spiritual people, but they’ve bathed in as much blood as Triada and Imprevar combined.
To the east of the Rhaeg Mountains lies the realm of the Shadowkin.)) Their capital, Nokte-Shaddark abuts the Great Noktum to the east—and also to the west, if you can believe it. That is something even your abused and greatly neglected tutor doesn’t even know, I’d wager. It is actually possible to live along the coast to the west of the Great Noktum. You can only get there by sailing, it seems, but there are Shadowvar there, and they’ve been there for over two thousand years.
While we’re talking about the Great Noktum, let’s address it. It’s not a kingdom—not anymore, at any rate—but it does sit like a giant black toad in the center everything, doesn’t it? The mother of all the little noktums that splatter the map and make life inconvenient for us little bugs that toil in the shadow of what the Giants left us following the Giant War. No, I do not plan to launch into a history lesson. You asked for a geography lesson. Ungag your sad and lonely tutor if you want the history. And before you ask in your return letter, yes, the Great Noktum is larger than Triada. I think it accurate to say it encompasses more land than all three of the northern human kingdoms combined, including the uninhabited reaches of Imprevar and the Eternal Desert of the Sandrunners. But I digress….
To the direct south of the Great Noktum is, of course, The Lux. That is what the other Giant tribes created to strip away the noktum cast by the Noksonoi. The Lux is like a sun that crashed into the earth and sits there, spinning. It’s the reason the entire continent of Noksonon isn’t covered by darkness. It’s why you and your line are still alive, Ondrine. And my line, for that matter. You’ve seen those distant lights to the south, in the dead of night, like a sunrise that never actually comes? That’s The Lux.
And yes, that was a bit of history. If you don’t like my geography lesson, then drag your poor tutor out of the moat, knock the toads from his mouth, and listen to him.
Directly south of The Lux is the end of the continent, but two leg-like stretches of land extend to the west and to the east, one bent and one extended, respectively. To the west on the bent leg of land are, believe it or not, more humans. Their skin is darker than ours—no doubt from generations of exposure to The Lux—and their noses sharper. The Demaijos are clannish and warlike, much like the Sandrunners of the north.
To the southeast of The Lux reside the Brightlings. I don’t know much about them except to say that they are kin to the Shadowvar. Whereas Shadowvar are black-skinned with white horns and can disappear almost completely in the dark, Brightlings are white-skinned with black horns, and they can disappear almost completely in bright sunlight. I don’t mind telling you I should like to meet a Brightling someday. What a thrill that would be.
And finally, the great isle of Taur to the direct east of The Lux contains the enormous Taur-El, the bull-headed race that used to serve the Giants as physical labor. They say that the Taur-Els once came north to the Human kingdoms—I’ve read accounts of it in Usara herself—but if those accounts are true, Taur-Els no longer come so far north. From what little I know of them, they never leave their island. I should also like to see a Taur-El in person one day, I suppose, though the idea of a cow’s head talking the human tongue is somewhat offputting to me. I really couldn't say why.
Very well, there is your geography lesson, condensed in a single letter. My master—rest her blackened soul—would whip me for hacking down the nuances of Noksonon to such a bald and blunted state. You owe me, and I put the challenge to you that your next letter to me should either include some tantalizing bit of information that I do not know, or that you send me a package containing Triada’s primary gift to the lands. Yes. That mage’s robe I salivated over so long ago in the royal market when I had not yet the coin to purchase it. You know the one. Red, and of Luminent silk, with black embroidery on the cuffs.
May the gods of north and south keep you, my friend, until we meet again.
-Slayter Weskone, Royal Mage to His Majesty King Tybris Vamreth I