The Free Peoples of Agatea
Fiercely individualistic and nearly as wealthy as Lorknir, Agatea has a reputation throughout Leng as a tumultuous place where fortunes can be made and broken in an instant. It is not as much a den of vipers as the Arelonian Empire, and nor is it a place of delicate diplomacy and mercantile maneuvering as Lorknir. It is, in a word, chaotic. Anyone who has spent any time in Agatea knows that it operates under different laws from the rest of the continent.
There are several reasons for this. One is the natural wealth of the coast - in precious agates, from which it gets its name, but also in other goods. Emeralds, gold, rare plants - for whatever reason, the gods have blessed Agatea with an abundance of natural resources. Gold rushes are common, and in a place where the land itself is valuable there is constant turmoil and competition for it. Another is the fierce individualism of the people of Agatea - the Agatean government is one of the loosest in all of Leng. Corruption is rife - it is a common expectation that a bribe be paid to officials at every step of the process if someone wants something done. People give very little thought to the law on a day to day basis, placing far more stock in loyalty. For this reason, local merchant princes, mafioso or organisations tend to have much more power than the government.
The third and final factor, of course, is the chaos which creeps into every nation in the west: the constant intervention of their neighbours. Arelon, Astinus and Agatea have always been uneasy fellows, with a long and bloody history behind them. Agatea and Astinus are allies against the old enemy in the north, but their philosophy and way of life are dramatically different. The Astinians would like nothing more than to impose the ordered, rational systems that govern their peoples into the chaotic mess that is the south. The Agateans, in their turn, resent the Astinians for what they perceive as imperialism - some even go so far as to claim that it is they who wish to take up the task that Arelon failed at and unite the west under one banner.
The relationship with Arelon is even more fractious. In addition to Arelon's constant maneuvering against its neighbours, Agatea is a particular thorn in its side because it is wealthy and lawless. This makes the Agatean coast an ideal haven for those who have fallen foul of Arelonian law, and undermines Arelon's control over the Sea of Pearls. There is constant tension between the two nations as a result, including not-so-veiled threats. If Arelon ever did decide to use their naval supremacy to attack Agatea as they once did in times gone by, however, they would encounter great difficulty - for they would need to contend with Hammerwatch Isle, which lies just off the coast. The Red Tower is given the run of this island in exchange for a promise of naval protection, and the wise think twice before trifling with a society of archmages.
The last thing that must be grasped in order to understand the Agateans is their relationship with Seneschal, to the south. One would think that the taciturn, stoic dwarves would bristle at such a loose society, but in truth they are close friends. The Agateans are delvers and miners, and they are ambitious, shrewd, and - best of all - practical in their dealings. The chaotic government does not irk the dwarves so long as they never have to deal with it. In fact, they prefer to deal with the various organisations and groups in power in the various regions of Agatea as if they were sovereign clans to themselves. It is a strange relationship, to be sure, but a friendly and profitable one.