The Realm of Azure

Azure is the Primary Realm in the Inner Lands of the Terra Magica system: the underwater lands that exist in parallel to the air breathing worlds of Sable. The Inner Lands are the realms of Shadow connected to Azure, much as the Sable Shadows extend out from Magica Superior, with the worlds known as the Ring of Sapphires acting as the equivalent to the Sable Commonwealth. There are probably not quite as many water Shadows as there are land Shadows attached to Sable, but there are sufficient numbers that as yet they have not all been explored, albeit that they are not all habitable.

The City of Azura

Azura is the capital of the realm of Azure, and is the city at the bottom of the stairs that descend through the King’s Lake. The realm is a closer reflection to Argent, than to Sable, and is located somewhere within the fresh water of the Caldera Lake. Azura is home to around half a million souls, with probably ten times that in the realm of Azure as a whole.

On arrival in the city, the visitors sees the hustle and bustle of a busy trading centre, rather than the slightly sleepy market town feel in Argent. The layout of the centre of the city is very similar to its sister realm in the sky, rather than Sable City, although its boundaries spread considerably further. Architecturally, it is generally more fluid – more curves and spires than the squarer buildings of Sable City, although not the dreaming fantasy world of Argent – and built of carved stone and glass, rather than brick. Azure Palace is no exception of this, and is built in the shape of a U around a shell-covered courtyard.

The People of the Water Realms

The population of Azura and the water realms are living, breathing individuals. Whether they breathe air or water seems to vary, however, and shapeshifting is common among them, albeit along slightly different lines to that common in Sable. Almost all the population can breathe water if needed and many can shift between a couple of specific land-based creatures and the same number of aquatic creatures. For the most part, however, Azurians do not have a “demon form” and their elemental forms are almost always earth or water.

There is trade with the water Shadow equivalents of the Commonwealth, known as the Ring of Sapphires. The paths leading out into the Ring are well walked. As you get further from Azure, however, the fresh water of the city slowly gives way to salt. How the water remains breathable is something of a mystery, although rumour has it that there is some kind of Power centred in Azure Palace that keeps the realm habitable.

The Government of Azure

Queen Alison rules Azure with the assistance of a Council of Elders, chaired by Chancellor Hopkin. The Council of Elders numbers twelve plus the Chancellor, with half of its membership appointed by the Crown, and half elected. This group forms the inner government of the Realm. However, despite their obvious position of power, they do remain accountable to the Council of the Ring, an elected body of representatives from Azure and the main Ring of Sapphires worlds. The Council of the Ring numbers a little over 300 members: twenty from Azure itself, and eight from each of the 36 Ring of Sapphires worlds. Six of their number, as chosen by the whole Council, are then elected to the Council of Elders, usually for terms of five years.

Unlike both Sable and Argent, Azure works on matrilineal successsion. Lands and titles follow the female line, although sons can inherit if there are no daughters.

The King’s Lake

Where the stairway down to Azure sets off from the King’s Isle, there are trees above the waterline, mainly pines and other evergreens, and grasses at water level, plus a selection of ground covering plants. However, there aren’t any plants under the water, as the bowl of the volcano is sheer and solid rock. The crater walls are at a very steep gradient, descending probably 1,500ft from rim to what is probably the base of the bowl in the space of maybe 300ft of distance. The water level is about 700ft below the rim. The King’s Isle does enter the water at a more gradual gradient – 1 in 1 seems to hold up for quite a while – about a hundred feet – before it drops much more sheerly.

There are a lot of species of fish within the lake, varying in size from just a couple of inches long, to six or seven feet, some eels, some otter type creatures around shore near the walls, and water vole-type beasties, as well as a colony of something vaguely cat-like. The base of the bowl still slopes towards the centre of the lake, and does eventually reach a depth of about 2,000ft. One curious thing is that there seems to be no form of outflow, and yet the water is crystal clear and very, very clean.

The staircase heads down the north western wall of the King’s Isle, and those descending will find that it seems to phase out around the bed of the lake, as it crosses into the Shadow on which Azure is located. It stretches for the best part of a mile, before entering the main market area of the realm of Azure.

Down in the very depths, there seems to be a group of large, probably reptilian creatures – say three or four of them. They seem actively intelligent, and react when they see visitors. The water dragons are Korrak (adult male), Lanike (adult female), Shikal (young female) and Lakirsh (young male). They are strongly psychically, especially as they get older, although they find it easier to make links with those of the family who have an affinity with Azure. They have a limited ability to shift Shadow, and can get into the nearby water Shadows, although they tend to stick close to Sable and Azure.