Welcome in, dear. I’ve been expecting you. It looks like you were caught in one of Roncefleur’s frequent rainstorms. You poor thing. This blanket will help you dry off. I’ve prepared a plate of cookies for you, fresh from the oven. Would you like some tea to go with it? Be careful—it’s hot!
Roncefleurais are used to the constant storms. We don’t wait for them to pass. Instead, we learn to enjoy life despite them and not let the fierce weather dampen our spirits. That could be said of Roncefleur in general. We face many hardships, but we strive to live the best lives we can. Heavy rain pours over the continent in the warmer seasons, sometimes forming flash floods. In the winter, savage blizzards blow down trees and bury houses. Marshland forms from the wet weather and covers many low-lying areas of the empire. Stormy seas rage around Roncefleur’s rocky coasts. While it is not easy for us to launch large ships—thus, Roncefleur does not have much of a navy—our coastline is equally challenging to invade.
Roncefleur’s landscape is darkened by stormy skies and dense forests. Even the moon rarely shines through the thick cloud cover. On occasion, glimpses of stars and sunlight slip through. Many Roncefleurais, myself included, view them as good omens. However, some Roncefleurais are not fond of the sun because they associate its light with Kikuseki. And there are plenty of animals, like my dear little brother Delombre, who prefer the night.
Most plants grow poorly in Roncefleur’s muddy soil and sparse light, but conifers grow exceptionally well. They form thick, dark forests that cast shadows across the continent. The largest is a vast pine forest that stretches across the horizon like a dark sea. Only in the far north, where few animals can survive in the sparsely populated frozen tundra, are there no forests. I’ve only been there a couple times. As one travels south, Roncefleur’s population grows denser. Though the massive forests allow little light through, many animals make their homes in the canopies and roots of the massive trees. Some forests hold entire towns in their trees!
You may be wondering why I’ve dwelled on the climate for so long. Roncefleur’s stormy weather influences our way of life in countless ways. It creates poor growing conditions that damage our economy and food chain. Kikuseki embargoed us, which makes trade difficult, and many countries will not trade with us due to the countless Roncefleurais corsairs who plunder the seas. It’s difficult to say whether corsairs help alleviate our resource shortages or make them worse.
The lack of resources intensifies the rampant poverty and crime that echo off each other through the slums, forests, countryside and coasts alike. Some Roncefleurais living near the Rift organize raids into Kikuseki to sack towns and to spite the more prosperous empire. Scavengers prowl through empty battlefields, seeking weapons and resources left behind by the combatants, who sometimes become prey themselves.
Those poor dears. They’re good souls, but they don’t have enough resources to get by. Aid from Roncefleur’s royal family can only stretch so far. I’d like to at least give each of them a reassuring hug. If the Kikusekin Empire weren’t so greedy, Roncefleur’s citizens would have what they need. Kikusekin have always been heartless. Not only did they take the Morph Magic Scepter from us, but they embargoed us and hoard resources on their side of the Rift while Roncefleurais go hungry. I’d like to give those Kikusekin a good spanking. Roncefleur has invaded them only because we were taking our fair share. Sooner or later, that may happen again.
These feuds have occurred throughout history. Roncefleur’s problems began eons ago when Roncefleur and Kikuseki were first founded. The Divine One gave Roncefleur both the Dark Magic Scepter and Morph Magic Scepter so that we could use both to make our land more fertile and hospitable. Kikuseki, in its avarice, seized the Morph Magic Scepter from us, using its power to prosper at our expense. We must retrieve it at all costs. The Divine One gave Roncefleur both scepters for a reason. Kikuseki cannot keep the Morph Magic Scepter forever!
Roncefleurais nobility try to maintain order and some semblance of stability as we work to better our empire and its citizens’ lives. We lead comparatively pleasant lifestyles, but shoulder the burden of confronting countless problems in an imploding and increasingly unstable empire. It’s a thankless task, because we are reviled no matter what we do. Roncefleurais nobles always look over their shoulders, as common Roncefleurais resent the nobility as much as they resent Kikuseki. My family has to be especially cautious in our mission to aid Roncefleur’s citizens. I especially worry about my youngest siblings Mûre and Prunellier leaving the castle, but they insist on helping in any way they can. Whispers of revolution fill the forest canopies and alley corners, growing louder with each day. Most noble families are only one unpopular decision away from a violent revolt.
Kikusekin claim that Roncefleur’s constant cloud cover does not let light into the hearts of Roncefleurais, yet throughout the empire there are respectful, honorable, kind and law-abiding Roncefleurais who live honest lives despite their struggles. Among them are the last remnants of the clergy clinging to their faith in the Divine One and their virtues. They bravely face staggering odds, as churches are looted and crumble as fewer and fewer animals attend. Ironically, sometimes these churches become hideouts for criminals.
The Kikusekin Empire is truly at fault for Roncefleur’s problems, yet they see us as warmongers and troublemakers. We are just pushing for change, whether they want it or not. Roncefleur needs to stand up for itself and claim its fair share. We will fight for what we lack.