People & Culture
The Levantines have tanned skin and a stout, bulky sort of build. They tend to not shave their beards and keep their hair in long braids or cut short. They seem to have trouble picking up other languages - both the Valiant Champion and the Vagrant Spear speak with a heavy accent and in broken sentences. Their main tongue is known as Lunara, but they also have two less well-known languages: Ceseo and Murcadan.
They are portrayed as brash and boastful, often more concerned with chasing glory and achievements than anything else. During a meeting with the First Prince their lords and ladies openly discussed state secrets and the Valiant Champion has been shown to frequently miss small details.
Levantines care a great deal about honour, both personal honour and honour brought to the family line. The aristocracy in Levant comes from the bloodlines of famous Named, especially the bloodlines of the five Named who ended the Proceran occupation (the story of this is told in the Anthem of Smoke, which is widely considered to be the founding epic of the Dominion of Levant).
Located in the southernmost corner of Calernia, Levant seems to have mild climate; Kalia, the Painted Knife, mentioned that she'd never seen snow nor ice before embarking on the Tenth Crusade. It borders only two other polities: the Titanomachy and the Principate of Procer.
Out of its many notable landmarks, the most remarkable are the Titan's Pond and the Red Snake Wall. The Titan's Pond is the largest lake on Calernia and according to Wekesa it was created as a byproduct of the battle between the Dread Empress Triumphant and the spellsingers from the Titanomachy.
The Red Snake Wall was created by the gigantes of the Titanomachy. It’s the largest enchanted object created outside of the Titanomachy since the Miezans were occupying the Dread Empire. Its foundations are ten feet of limestone, painted red. The bulk of the wall is a giant granite snake that stretches from the sea to the Brocelian Forest. It makes assailing Levant from land impossible, as under specific conditions the snake can wake up and eat the enemies of the Dominion.
Levant has five major cities:
- Vaccei, ruled by Lady Itima Ifriqui and the Bandit’s Blood.
- Tartessos, ruled by Lady Aquiline Osena and the Slayer's Blood.
- Malaga, ruled by Lord Razin Tanja and the Binder's Blood.
- Alava, ruled by Lord Yannu Marave and the Champion's Blood. This city is known for its orchards and herds.
- Levante, the Capital of the Dominion, ruled by the Holy Seljun Wazim Isbili and the Pilgrim's Blood.
The exact beginnings of the Dominion aren’t known. It’s implied that their villages were first established by the Baalite Hegemony, just as with the Thalassocracy of Ashur. At the time, the Dominion still didn’t exist even though its composite states did.
It is also stated that they are descended from the eighteen cities, founded by Antigone-Strides-Ever-Unyeilding, who "taught without ruling, disdaining the greed of titans and scorning the apathy of grief." Some of these cities were likely in locations that were flooded or sunk in Triumphant's battle with the Gigantes and it is unknown whether any of the current Levantine cities maintain any Gigantes architecture.
It is uncertain how exactly these two explanations fit together, or whether the canonicity of Levante's deep past has changes at some point in the plotting of the story.
Along with the the Vengeful Bandit, the Silent Slayer, the Grim Binder and the Valiant Champion, the original Grey Pilgrim founded the Dominion of Levant and became its first Seljun. This occurred during their secession from the Principate of Procer - around three centuries before the Uncivil Wars.
The Proceran conquest of the territories that now make up the Dominion took place about five hundred years before current events – early ninth century a.D. according to the Praesi calendar – which is about three hundred years after the Principate's formation. The northern half of Levant was conquered by Rozala Malanza’s ancestor Lorenzo Malanza on behalf of the First Prince Charles Merovins. We don't know who conquered the southern half, though the city of Alava was never truly invaded - its inhabitants preferred to burn it down and flee into the hills. Under Procer, Levant was divided into three Principalities.
The occupation lasted for roughly two hundred years. Eventually the Dominion seceded with the help of Ashur, which wanted to curtail the power of the Principate and possibly also felt an obligation for their ally. Still, the bulk of the work was done by Levantines and their founding heroes.
During the current events of the story, Levant has joined the Tenth Crusade. It's committed two armies consisting of thirty or forty thousand soldiers each. The first was sent to reinforce Klaus Papenheim and the second was sent to Salia, the seat of the First Prince - the likely destination of the Black Knight's offensive maneuver.
The Dominion does not have a king. Instead, they are lead by a Seljun, who sits on the Tattered Throne. The similarity to a monarch, however, is only surface deep as the Dominion is too decentralized for the Seljun to wield any large degree of influence. Even though the Seljun is the official head of state, they act mostly as a spiritual leader and are chosen by the consensus of the Majilis.
The Majilis - the rulers of Levant's five major cities - are descended from the Heroes who originally founded the Dominion. They are often compared to Procer's Highest Assembly - and not in a positive light. They are notoriously ineffective and toothless: each of the Majilis has a right of veto and they are incentivised to protect the interests of their own domains rather than the interests of Levant as a whole. They have no real nation-wide policy and each of the Majilis can act independently with respect to other polities.
The progeny of other Heroes from the Dominion form what is known as the lesser lines. These are offered nominal titles and privileges but are in reality empty. There are two types of descendants: the descendants in Blood, meaning being related to the past hero, and in Bestowal, which means obtaining the Name of the past hero. The Valiant Champion is an example of the latter while Lady Itima - the ruler of Vaccei - is an example of the former. Notably, the Grey Pilgrim is a descendant in both Blood and Bestowal, thus he is considered 'Royalty beyond royalty'.
Due to its geography, the Dominion does not really interact very much with any of the Evil polities. Its relationship with the Good polities seems to be fairly close, with the Principate of Procer being a notable exception. Ashur generally supports Levant as a check against its main rival Procer, and they have relatively good relations with the Titanomachy, which enchanted the Red Snake Wall.
Its enmity against Procer is such that prior to joining the crusade the Dominion pillaged the principality of Orense when they spent themselves on backing claimants for the title of First Prince.
- "Well, they did say the Named of the Dominion were closest to the old breed of heroes. The ones who’d gone traipsing like well-armed vagrants around Calernia, killing dragons and looting every tomb in sight. Before the House of Light had gone and civilized them, like that entire religion wasn’t about licking the feet of the angels telling you what to do."
- ―The Captain of Calamities
Known as the Bestowed, Named play a prominent role in the Dominion. As shown by the quote above, they differ quite a lot from the typical heroes hailing from Procer or Callow in that they don't follow the House of Light. They are still religious, though, often performing battle prayers and tracing different signs, such as the Mark of Valor. Levant does not draw a distinction between a Name and a Role.
- Rafaella, the Valiant Champion. She assaulted the Red Flower Vales as part of the White Knight’s group. Her biggest achievement has been killing Captain of the Calamities. She is currently on the Hainaut front against the Dead King.
- Sidonia, the Vagrant Spear. She was part of the northern front of the Tenth Crusade and was part of Archer's band.
- Kallia, the Painted Knife. She was also part of the northern front of the Tenth Crusade. She leads the first known true band comprising of both heroes and villains.
- The Exalted Poet. His more subtle abilities are said to be rare for Named of the Dominion.
- Ishaq Deathless, the Barrow Sword. He's a villain that is very good at putting down Revenants. He wishes to be added to the Rolls, which is controversial because of his status as a villain.
- The Headhunter. They are a genderfluid villain that is part of the Hainaut front against the Dead King.
- The Marauder. She is a villain that killed an Osena, allegedly on behalf of the Bandit's Blood. She is part of the war on the Dead King.
- The Grave Binder. He is part of the war on the Dead King.
- The original Grey Pilgrim. Along with four others, he founded Levant and became its first Seljun.
- The Unconquered Champion. He was the hero who trapped Black Knight in his domain for a month. He was Recalled by the White Knight.
- The Sage of the West. She was a Revenant of the Dead King and suffered her second death at the hands of Ranger of the Calamities.
- Tariq Isbili the Grey Pilgrim, also known as the Peregrine. He was the leader of the dozen or so Named that invaded northern Callow along with the crusade. He was one of the strongest living heroes and one of the best Light wielders. He was on the Hainaut front against the Dead King.
- Mansurin, a Champion. Killed by Catherine once and a second time by goblinfire at the Battle of the Camps after he was revived by Tariq's Forgive.
- The Young Slayer. He is a transitionary Named coming from a family that is rival to the Osena.
- Apparently, some performers in Levant walk tightropes high up in the air for the entertainment of peasantry.
- The Levantine mercenaries hired from Mercantis had painted faces and used hooked swords.
It is based on Al-Andalus.