My Submission For A Contest - Randalia | Atlas (Templin Institute Format)
I’m just sharing something I came up with for a contest I entered into. I’ve kicked it around (along with one of my closest, dearest friends) for quite a long time over my life, but this was my first time really giving it a shot, anywhere. As you might imagine, I didn’t win; however, I do want to still recommend The Templin Institute, which is a Youtube channel that, to paraphrase, ‘explores alternate realities.’ They make fantastic content, and can even make really complicated stories like Warhammer 40K accessible to total newbs.
I tried to base the cadence of this off of their Cadia episode of their Atlas series.
The contest criteria included: 800 word cap; it had to be a geographic location (my first entry got benched because it was too character-driven, but I might post that soon, too!); and it couldn’t already be part of an IP (Otherwise I’d have used something I’ve worked up a bunch already).
The Kingdom of Randalia | Atlas
At the northern-most end of the Great Desert Road, past where the river Neptunia channels rains from the Western Wall Mountains south-east into the Endless Sea, a kingdom founded after the Hundred-Years-Drought clings not just to independence, but to prosperity. Backed by a corps of highly-trained Royal Inspectors who are tasked with keeping the business of the realm legitimate, and thanks to the Neptunia’s generosity in giving the realm not just one, but two massive bodies of fresh water, dubbed the Great Tritons, the Kingdom of Randallia has managed to find sustenance where otherwise it might have found starvation.
Founded by Johannes Randalius in the year A.D.11, the establishment of the kingdom was itself no small feat. Randalius’ first accomplishment was arguably his bravest: During the Drought, the Predecessor Nations, whose names were lost to time, were overwhelmed with demonic infestations, and Randalius himself led the charge to reclaim an ancient fortress which sat just north of the two Great Tritons, overseeing the Neptunia’s eastward flow from the Western Triton to the Eastern. Renamed the Violet Keep in honor of the new King’s preferred color, Randalius never spoke of what secrets he uncovered after cleansing the castle.
With the Violet Keep secure, the nascent kingdom’s power needed a new direction for expansion. Randalius mentally carved the region’s lifeblood, the Neptunia River, into three sections; the ‘Head,’ ‘Shoulders,’ and ‘Legs,’ with the Violet Keep ensconced in the center of the newly-declared kingdom, just north of the ‘Shoulders,’ and the Monitor Bridge.
The ‘Head’ began at the Western Wall Mountains, nearly a month-long land journey north-west, seemingly removed from official affairs. This geographic monstrosity provided Randallia with a western bulwark against intruders; and although they also significantly impaired rain-fall, the mountains made the Neptunia possible. The verdant plains to the far north were occupied by dozens of autonomous nomadic tribes, hunter-gatherers who were all too happy to have more trading options as this strange self-styled ‘king’ built what must have seemed, at the time, to be a revolutionary project that had already outlived its suspected survival time.
The mighty river Neptunia flowed south, carrying goods and adventurers down past the Sea Of Trees. This seemingly-impenetrable forest north of the Violet Keep, occupying most of the kingdom’s central land, provided vital building materials for the Keep and other projects in Randalia. These resources and their attendant travelers were ultimately destined for the Western Triton. Serving as the end-point for the ‘Head’ of the river, the smaller of the great lakes was easily navigable, especially given that traders could re-stock at the small town of Gracia, located at the north-eastern elbow of the intersection between the river and the lake. The increased demand from the Violet Keep enabled Gracia to develop into a larger port in its own right, especially given that flat, well-maintained roads made the journey to the Keep relatively easy and safe.
The ‘Shoulders’ of the Neptunia saw the river flowing from west to east. Now that the Violet Keep could provide protection to travelers venturing along this route, it made sense that the second major acquisition Randalius chose to make was the once-glorious, now-derelict trading town of Lakeside. Located on the eastern bank of the Eastern Triton, Lakeside had served as a cornerstone of pre-Drought commerce, but had receded in the wake of attacks by monsters and men, alike. With the Violet Keep now ready to shield it from devilish raiders, and bolstered by an influx of resources from the north, Lakeside was able to accept more traffic and re-open trade routes down the ‘Legs’ of the Neptunia and the Great Desert Road on its eastern banks.
No amount of protection or funding could revitalize the majority of the land to the south of the Violet Keep, however. Once a traveler crossed the Monitor Bridge, which sat astride the ‘Shoulders’ of the river, between Western and Eastern Triton, they entered the Infernal Desert with little hope of returning. Never mind the massive Sand-Snakes and other monsters; the region’s incredible heat, combined with the lack of water, meant that the further one got from the Neptunia, the more desperate their situation became. If one could even survive a few days’ journey, they’d run out of abandoned oasis towns to re-discover.
As with many realms, Randalia remained bound to its connection with water. Where the Neptunia flowed, so did its Inspectors, and so did peace. Where the water could not go, it would take decades to reclaim. Johannes Randalius knew his project to be multi-generational; only he knew that his peoples’ final hope for a happy future was to explore the unexplored - a charge many Inspectors honored until their last breath. Many often chose to be entombed near their favorite of the Tritons, which gave their beloved kingdom its life.