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Xochithlan--Arena 39

The southernmost city of the Delarquan Federation, Xochithlan's walls rise amid the ancient and mysterious Silverwald Forest, whose loamy floor hides the blades and bones of many forgotten battles between the dark elves and their sun-loving kindred. The River Wolfsbane, famed for its treacherous currents, flows past the north side of the city on its way to feed into the Whisperer, which empties into to the Trier Sea. Xochithlan is a well-fortified city, its high battlements looming dark and forbidding over the approaching traveler. Once inside, the traveler will find a kinder aspect to the city, as its graceful architecture reflects the elven strains in its culture.

The population is a colorful mix of highly civilized elves, rugged human and halfelven forest folk, subtle dark elves, and fierce Rirorni exiles of the Xo Kithli tribe. As in other cities of the Federation, there has been much interbreeding, so that the typical citizen is tan-skinned and dark-haired, with eyes of any color, and pleasing, somewhat exotic features. The typical Xochithlani is likely to show a little elven blood in the shape of the eyes and ears, and in the light-boned build.

Timber and trapping are of growing importance in the economy of Xochithlan, but the work of elven artisans is still the single most important export. Also, Xochithlan hosts a large contingent of the Federation's standing army, which patrols the southern border and boosts the prosperity of the city.

Loosely allied with Talcama and Bonsur, Xochithlan is traditionally suspicious of the Mordanti Confederation and the Osksi Empire. Xochithlan has profitable trade agreements with Jhans, and King Feyen, also known as F'en the Forester, is a cousin of Princess Morra of Jhans. Feyen Ciraen Akkadian Kapparmentar Rezzari, Godfather of the Rezzari, Patriarch of the Xo Kithli, Host-Counselor of the Silverwald Elves, King of Xochithlan: As Delarquan rulers go, he's not too bad. By the standards of other lands, he would be considered a little sneaky...well, kind of a human snake actually. Though a humane ruler (really), he is a little shaky on this "rule of law" business that his elven advisors (the "vanilla" elves, that is, not the dark ones) keep talking about, more inclined to cut through the red tape and do what he considers necessary to fix a situation. In other words, if "proper channels" don't take care of a problem very quickly, the perceived offenders are likely to find themselves hustled away by the Palace Guard to explain things personally to the King. This does not mean they are beaten up by the guards and thrown into a dungeon, it means they are arrested, using the minimum force necessary for dramatic effect, and taken to the King's office to talk to Feyen. The dungeon comes later, if he doesn't like the answers he gets. He takes his duties as King very seriously, seeking what is best for Xochithlan even if it were to cost him his own life--of course, if someone else's life would do just as well, that would be far preferable.

Feyen is sixty-two years old, but still looks to be in his early prime due to his part-elven ancestry. Six feet tall and slender, he has black hair that he wears in a waist-length braid; a long, thin mustache that he has maintained through the continual objections and sneak-attacks of five successive queens armed with razors; green eyes, coffee-with-cream brown skin, and not-quite-pointed ears. Except for the mustache, which everybody hates, he is gorgeous. Women get all pink-faced and out of breath when he smiles at them. It just goes to show, women always fall for the rotten ones and want to be "just friends" with the nice ones. He is charming to everyone until he loses his temper (unlikely, even when he's furious), and then he starts cursing in the dark-elven tongue. He enjoys strong liquor, though seldom to excess. He has the charisma that a good king needs, and uses it shrewdly to get what he wants for Xochithlan.

He's very athletic, excellent with the longbow, a marvelous fencer (PL) although he'll cheat to win, and is believed to have some spellcasting ability, though the extent of it is not known. He is a competent hunter and tracker, though not extraordinary. Perhaps his greatest strength is his family ties. He can call upon the Delarquan clans of the Rezzari and the Xo Kithli at need, as well as his darkelven and vanilla elven relations. He can also draw upon his relationship to the ruling family of Jhans, the house of Kapparmentar.

A lot of people, including other Delarquan rulers, don't trust him because he is part dark elf; or conceivably just because they know him pretty well. He prefers variety in his intimate companionship, even when married, which accounts for his five divorces. There are a lot of half-sib princelings out there, some legitimate and some not, who will one day vie for the throne. Even now, a substantial percentage of the untimely deaths in Xochithlan can be attributed to various families' attempts to trim down the line of succession. And finally, Feyen is not, for all his charm and (yes) generosity, truly a man of the people. If one is rich, he reasons, one ought to enjoy it, and he does, flagrantly, excessively, and without the slightest pang of guilt.

Essentially, Feyen is the product of several generations of selective breeding. The early Xo Kithli ruling family laid out a plan to ally with the competing Rezzari clan as well as with the vanilla and chocolate elves, sealing these unions with blood and, well, other bodily fluids. However, somebody had the good sense to suggest they only marry smart and healthy members of these other ruling families, rather than going for any of the dimwitted hemophiliacs for which royal families as a rule are so justly renowned, even going so far as to institute a series of tests that a prospective spouse must pass. The wealth that went with the Xo Kithli crown was so great that market forces drove the competition well beyond health and intelligence...to put it bluntly, everyone cheated and backstabbed like crazy, and so each King of Xochithlan received a bride who was the most stunningly devious and Machiavellian beauty of her generation. This sort of thing appeared to be hereditary, which is how the city's present ruler got that way. Feyen spent his youth pretty much everywhere, summers traveling the trade routes, winters with the elves (both flavors), college years in Osksi, and occasional several-month periods when nobody knew where he was or what he was doing, after which he would usually return in the company of strange new friends, loaded down with miscellaneous magic items and looking nervously over his shoulder. Some people (bards, for the most part) have put forth the theory that Feyen is just waiting for the right woman to come along and then he will settle down, shave off the mustache, cultivate within himself an honest and forthright disposition, and live up to his brilliant potential as a statesman. The generally accepted timeline for this transformation makes reference to pigs flying, but many a young noblewoman has projected an earlier date, only to have her hopes dashed by the King's roving eye.

Note: Feyen went missing in the final days of the war. He was last seen during the Rirorni invasion of Xochithlan, riding over the city on a contraption like a large metal bird and announcing that they were going to surrender. In the confusion of the Rirorni takeover, no one was sure what became of him, though several reports of someone fitting his description entering and leaving the Xochithlani treasury in a great hurry circulated widely. For the next few years, everyone who was anyone struggled to take control of the throne. Feyen himself returned in 509 to throw the plans of all the plotters into confusion.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1401 reads)

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