The Opal Empire
The Opal Empire spans thousands of miles, ruling all races it touches. Its heart and capital is Opal City, lying at the intersection of four huge elven kingdoms named after the seasons. Opal City is owned by none of these kingdoms, but the title of Supernal Empress rotates through the kingdoms, moving from sister to sister and mother to daughter within the elven royal lines.
The empire has conquered numerous other states and kingdoms. Most it absorbed into its four kingdoms, but some remained political entities of their own. The dwarves, exiled from their underground homes, live in five Keeps, but these are considered within the Empire and thus subject to Imperial Law. Most humans now live as poor, serf-like farmers or as outright slaves. However, the Seven Sisters stand as a testament to the Old Ways. The Empire has yet to conquer these seven city-states fully, but elves are patient and tend to wage economic and cultural wars that their younger-lived cousins can’t even understand, let alone win. In a few hundred years, the Seven Sisters will be under elven control. For now, they stand independent, like fist-clenched toddlers defying their parents.
Communication and Travel
In the light of magic, old-style communication by Drakerider is quaint and unreliable. Messages are easily sent across great distances by wind spirits that can travel ten times faster than any land beast. Such is available to anyone with means. Those with great wealth and power usually have a cadre of personal Whisperers to get word out.
Travel isn’t so easy. Magic hasn’t progressed to the point to make travel as fast as whispering. Most overland journeys are made on foot, on drakeback, or in drake-pulled carriages and hoverwagons. Standard sailing ships can often travel around the curlicues of the coasts in a shorter time than a more direct overland trek. Some very powerful wizards have access to some flying spells, but they’re rare and not useful for carrying goods and other cargo.
Teleportation rituals are extremely rare, unreliable, and costly. The main exception is an ancient set of five Circles that the Four Courts use to travel instantly between one another’s palaces and the main palace in Opal City. The enchantments and mechanisms that make the Circles work are not understood by anyone yet living.
The standard coin in the Empire is the copper “Empire.” It’s eight-sided, with the front decorated by two interlocking squares representing the Four Forms and the Four Forces. The obverse displays the bust of the current Empress, and often some kind of motto or symbology around the outside.
Ten Empires equal a silver “Moon.” It’s crescent-shaped, with no decoration. The points of the crescent wrap back on itself enough that it can be impaled on the right sized rod for storage and counting.
Ten Moons equal a gold “Grace.” It’s square with a round hole in the center and is often stored on dowels or strings. It’s also fairly heavy. Unlike the coins of smaller denomination, the Grace is magically minted with enchantments that protect it. It’s dangerous to try to melt down a Grace. They’re also nearly impossible to counterfeit, as most towns of any decent size have enchanted gates that detect fake Graces and alert guards.
For larger transactions, merchants use stamped (and enchanted) bars of gold and platinum worth 25 and 100 Graces, respectively. These are called “Gold Goddesses” and “Platinum Goddesses.”