In the Palatine Eye
Infernal Cheliax (pronounced CHEL-ee-ax) remains one of the most powerful nations militarily in the Inner Sea region. Its control of the Arch of Aroden, the passage between the Inner Sea and the Arcadian Ocean, also gives it a vital role in much of the region’s trade. Nevertheless, as important as the nation may be today, it pales in comparison to its former imperial glories. Today, in the eyes of most external observers in other parts of the Inner Sea, Cheliax suffers from extreme diabolism and a tyranny which prevent it from truly achieving its full potential. Internal observers, including the new nobility of Cheliax, firmly believe that Asmodeus and Hell serve Cheliax and assist in maintaining the power necessary for Cheliax to assume its rightful role among the leading nations of the Inner Sea.
|Ruler||Queen Abrogail Thrune II|
|Government||Imperial bureaucracy of noble families|
|Religions||Abadar, Asmodeus, Erastil, Iomedae, Zon-Kuthon|
Cheliax was founded as the westernmost frontier prefecture of the Taldan Empire in 3007 AR. It would remain a part of the Taldan Empire for more than a thousand years, until two years after the massive invasion of Taldor by Qadiran forces in 4079 AR. Aspex the Even-Tongued, the Taldan governor, knew that Taldor could not fight a massive war on two fronts thousands of miles from each other, and declared independence in 4081 AR. Knowing Taldor would remain focused on its titanic struggle with Qadira, King Aspex of the new Empire of Cheliax incorporated the Taldan territories of Galt and Isger by force and Andoran and the winged men of Devil’s Perch by diplomacy in what became known as the Even-Tongued Conquest.
By 4137 AR, ongoing friction between Absalom and Cheliax over control of trade in the Inner Sea region led Prince Haliad I to lay siege on Absalom. Although the siege was unsuccessful, Cheliax was left the major naval power in the Inner Sea and gained control of both sides of the Arch of Aroden. In 4138 AR, Cheliax also established a new colony in Western Garund at Sargava.
Chelish expansion to the north continued in 4305 AR with the launch of the Everwar. Over the following century the empire conquered or annexed lands in what are now Molthune, Nirmathas, Isger, parts of the Hold of Belkzen, Nidal, and Varisia. The Everwar came to a close in 4410 AR when Cheliax renounced all hopes for further territorial expansion in Varisia and Belkzen. During this expansionist period, Cheliax installed a foreign ruling class in its newfound territories, and the descendants of these people still hold positions of power today, even if Cheliax withdrew its control some time ago.
Even though the Everwar had come to a close, Cheliax’s ambitions continued unabated within its homeland and colonies, supported in part by the Starfall Doctrine. This prophecy stated that the god Aroden would reappear in Cheliax in 4606 AR and lead humanity to a new Age of Glory, with Cheliax at the helm. In anticipation for this, Cheliax went to extraordinary lengths in the last decades of the Age of Enthronement. The first Hellknight order, the Order of the Rack, was founded in 4576 AR in the capital of Westcrown. In 4605 AR, King Gaspodar himself began the preparations for the reappearance of the god.
In 4606 AR, Cheliax’s patron deity Aroden died, and so did its centuries-long dominance of the Inner Sea region. Robbed of his divine mandate, King Gaspodar lost control of the empire as fractious noble houses challenged the crown for dominance. Cheliax descended into three decades of civil war, as the various noble houses fought for supremacy. Molthune took the opportunity to declare independence in 4632 AR. No clear victor began to emerge until Abrogail of House Thrune made a fiendish pact that placed devils under their control. With their help, she brought the Chelish heartland under her control, which gave her a certain amount of legitimacy. Even though the people did not particularly like being under the rule of devil-worshipers, they liked the anarchy of war even less. Within a few years, House Thrune had defeated all other comers and Queen Abrogail I was crowned in 4640 AR.
Baron Grallus of the Chelish colony of Sargava backed House Davian in the war, but Davian’s ambitions were shattered by House Thrune at the Battle of a Hundred Kings. A Chelish fleet sent by House Thrune for revenge on Sargava was sunk in Desperation Bay by the Shackles Pirates in 4643 AR. A second fleet sent in 4660 AR fared little better and Sargava has so far managed to cling on to its fragile independence.
A New Order
With order restored throughout the land, the new ruling class of the land began to consolidate and reinforce its power and control over a widespread empire still reeling from decades of war. They moved the capital from Westcrown to the inland port of Egorian and demanded renewed fealty from Cheliax’s outlying provinces. Unable to stomach being ruled by blasphemous devil-idolators, the people of Andoran and Galt rebelled, each seeking their own destiny. Galt declared independence in 4667 AR, but quickly devolved into score-settling by short-lived governing coalitions in the Red Revolution, while Andoran steered a more stable path beginning in 4669 AR. The crown let these provinces secede, content to focus on the more profitable colonies of Sargava in Garund and Anchor’s End in Arcadia.
The empire runs on the backs of fiends now, a perfect machine of hellfire and blood, where morality surrenders to the needs of law and order. It’s easy to curse Cheliax as a nation of devil-lovers, but few can argue with the results of their fiend-binding craft. House Thrune, the greatest of its diabolic noble families, has brought the empire under control once more. Cheliax rises like a dark star, as strong as ever, despite the losses of Galt and Andoran to rebellious forces.
Asmodeus proves as powerful a divine patron as Aroden ever did, shepherding his people toward glory and dominance of the Inner Sea. His plans reach eons into the future, and the minor setbacks of yesterday are all factored into the cost of doing a devil’s business. The Chelish always plan for a long campaign, and never trifle over today’s skirmishes. In the end all will burn in hellfire. It is only a matter of time and calculated conquest.
Since the Thrune Ascendancy of 4640 AR, Cheliax has been ruled by House Thrune along with a new configuration of noble houses made up of those willing to follow the philosophy of Diabolism. Much of the power of House Thrune was gained through the initial bargain struck between Abrogail Thrune and the rulers of Hell, although rumors abound that additional pacts have been made since that time in the quest for still greater power. Currently Queen Abrogail II, the great-granddaughter of Abrogail I, rules Cheliax with the aid and support of Gorthoklek, her pit fiend advisor.
Governmental policy within Cheliax is focused upon maintaining order and quelling dissent. This is in direct response to the 30 years of internecine warfare and chaos that preceded the Thrune Ascendancy, as well as the absolute order inherent in the support of Hell. There is a great deal of physical peace and order which allows the lives of ordinary citizens to proceed normally, but it carries a high moral price. Cheliax is far from the abomination of twisted evil imagined by many outsiders, but it does not allow room for any dissent. Nationalistic feelings run deep and are practically required to avoid suspicion. Ambition causes normal citizens to turn in those that they suspect as traitors to Imperial Cheliax, for the perceived promise of wealth and advancement. Organized secular and religious forces such as the Hellknights and the Inquisitors further strive to quell any organized dissent.
The laws of Cheliax are based upon the Asmodean Disciplines, which also serve as the primary religious text for the Church of Asmodeus. Many of these laws are not enforced, and may not even be enforceable, but they serve the purpose of the government by allowing the prompt removal of undesirable elements of society under some perceived or interpreted infraction.
In addition to the Hellknights who handle dissension within the Empire, Cheliax also boasts one of the largest military organizations in the Inner Sea region. Along with humanoid troops, they continue to use bound devils as well.
House Thrune may currently be the most powerful of the noble houses, but it is certainly not the only one. Some of these other noble houses have existed for centuries, while others were commoners raised after the civil war in payment for their loyalty to the House of Thrune. Most of the oldest houses survived the civil war, although those who aligned themselves with the diabolists early in the war have claimed the greatest prestige and wealth. Whatever can be said about the new nobility’s morality, they objectively rule more effectively than the old nobility did before the war.
Most members of the nobility continue making pacts with various devils in exchange for incredible temporal power. Those who do not espouse diabolism keep it to themselves, as any talk against the methods of the current regime can lead to the complete eradication of an entire bloodline.
- House Arionne: This minor house is a den of slavery.
- House Charthagnion: This house made a supernatural pact with infernal powers giving their members superhuman wisdom. Because of this, House Charthagnion can look forward to centuries of servitude to the powers of Hell.
- House Henderthane: The house of Henderthane has been supplying and manufacturing weapons for a thousand years, and currently is the chief weapon supplier to House Thrune.
- House Jeggare: The Jeggare family is one of the wealthiest not just in Cheliax, but in all of of Avistan. Member of the house, for instance, are one of the ruling families of the Varisian city of Korvosa, where there are rivers and streets named after them.
- House Leroung: A house of prominent academics and arcanists, House Leroung is widely respected for their impartial and unbiased pursuit of knowledge.
- House Napaciza: Loyal to Thrune, their members make up some of the nation’s most superb archers.
- House Narikopolus: This family is known for their superb archers who are trained from an early age.
- House Sarini: A family of cruel jesters, this house is sometimes referred to as the “Fools of Thrune”, or the “Lapdogs of Hell”.
Imperial Cheliax covers a large part of southwestern Avistan and, although currently less than half its former size, it is still one of the largest countries in the Inner Sea region. Cheliax can be roughly divided into six main areas of similar society and outlook.
- The Rebellious West: The hills of Devil’s Perch and the settlement of Pezzack are the home of the strix, a race of winged humanoids. These fliers protect their homeland diligently although more from a dislike of any foreign rule as much as distaste for the current House of Thrune and its organized devil worship.
- The Cosmopolitan Northwest: The Ravounel Forest, the North Plains and the settlement of Kintargo in the northwest are the least insular areas of Cheliax and therefore subject to the most outside influence and contact.
- The Righteous North: The Menador Mountains are the religious homeland of Cheliax. It is also the home to scores of Hellknights prepared for a life of unending servitude by the unforgiving nature of the land they inhabit.
- The Heartlands: The Whisperwood, the Barrowood and the Central Plains are the heartland of Cheliax.
- The Bulwark of the East: The Aspodell Mountains and the River Keld form a natural eastern border to Cheliax.
- The Southern Coast: The Inner Sea forms the southern border of Cheliax and port cities built upon bluffs dot the coast.
The current capital, Egorian, rests near the center of the nation on the banks of Lake Sorrow. North of the lake stands the Barrowood, and the River Adivian flows south from the lake, past Westpool and East Rikkan, into Gemcrown Bay past Westcrown. Cheliax maintains a foothold in Garund as well, holding the southern end of the Arch of Aroden (the province of Kharijite) and thus controlling access to the Inner Sea. It’s most distant holding is Anchor’s End in far-off Arcadia.
Three-quarters of Cheliax’s human population are ethnic Chelaxians, and the pale-skinned Chelish believe themselves superior to all other peoples. Their compact with great devils gives them power beyond measure, and no other nation of the Inner Sea can compete with their summoners and warlocks when it comes to trafficking with dark forces. These devils require payment for their service, often offered up in the form of tender flesh and boiled blood. Slaves are an important resource of the Chelish as are artifacts of ancient power whose secrets are revealed to them by their timeless patrons. Most of Cheliax’s inhabitants have become used to their repressive government with its infernal ties, seeing it as the price they had to pay to be rescued from the anarchy of civil war. Those who actively support the government tend to receive the greatest chances at wealth and social advancement, while those unable or unwilling to contribute to the hellish regime reap no such rewards or are even the targets of recrimination and ridicule.
Nearly all halflings who live in Cheliax are slaves. Known pejoratively as “slips,” they are treated quite poorly by the general population.
Tieflings enjoy an unusual status in Cheliax, often seen as subordinate to humans. They are rarely seen in public, and appear mainly as unusual slaves or involved in criminal enterprises.
Numerous older gods such as Abadar and Erastil remain popular among the common folk of Cheliax, although everyone pays at least lip-service to the ruler of Hell, Asmodeus. Nearly every house contains at least one shrine or red pentagram honoring the devil-god.