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Netheril was an ancient, magocratic human empire of Faerûn, whose influence was felt across the Realms for thousands of years. The Netherese people lived in a strict hierarchy for hundreds of years, split into the nobles of High Netheril, living in flying enclaves miles above Toril, and the commoners of Low Netheril settled in demesnes[6] on the coast of the Narrow Sea.[7][8] The Empire of Magic would spread across a great stretch of Faerûn.[9]

The empire was the pinnacle of human civilization during the first half of the Age of Humanity. Although they had humble roots as mere fishermen and farmers, the Netherese were introduced to the Art by the elves of Eaerlann,[1] and came to harness this arcane power in ways that would shape Toril for generations. Over the next thousand years they discovered the long lost Nether Scrolls, developed the creation and use of mythallars and created the first of their flying cities, Xinlenal.[2] The arrogance of Netheril grew to the point where they attempted to attain the divinity of magic, and wound up destroying the Weave. In the resulting maelstrom, the Faerûnian pantheon was altered and most of the flying cities of Netheril came crashing to the earth.[4]

High Netheril was ruined in a matter of hours, while Low Netheril experienced a long, agonizing decline by the aberrant Phaerimm.[8] The enclave of Thultanthar was transported to the Shadowfell, where it remained for 1,700 years.[citation needed] Upon their return to Toril in the late 14th century DR,[10] the shadow-plagued Netherese people, known as the Shadovar, revived the Empire and enthralled the people of north Faerûn for over a hundred years.[11] While they sought to fuse the Weave with the Shadowfell, the Shade Enclave was brought crashing down over the renewed realm of Myth Drannor.[12][page needed]

Ancient NetherilEdit

GovernmentEdit

The ancient empire of Netheril was governed by the magocratic council, the High Mages of Netheril, which was comprised of the leading wizards of High and Low Netheril.[2]

SocietyEdit

Netheril was a divided empire both in both geographic and cultural terms, into the "haves" of High Netheril, and the "have-nots" of Low Netheril.[13] The root of this segregation was tied to the discovery and development of mythallars by Netherese arcanists. These magical enchantments were powered by the Weave itself, and gave the wizards tremendous powers. It allowed for them to develop the spells necessary to create their floating enclaves, and craft quasi-magical items[8] that were powered by the mythallars themselves, rather than the Weave.[14]

The enclaves of High Netheril were home to the realm's nobility with the shared language of Loross,[7] which was written in the same script as draconic.[15] The demesnes and outlying colonies of Low Netheril were home to Netheril's middle and commoner classes, and were greatly influenced by the clerics of the Netherese pantheon. They spoke Netherese in the cities of Low Netheril.[7]

High NetherilEdit

During the height of the Netheril Empire, 54 floating cities soared over the skies Faerûn.[16] They were by-and-large bastions of enlightenment, peace and ingenuity, giving the mages of Netheril sanctuaries from which they could continue their arcane research, safe from the distractions and dangers of the surface world.[17][18] The boundaries of their influence were only stopped by the human and elven empires of the age, by Illefarn and Calimshan in the west, Cormanthyr and Jhaamdath in lands around the Inner Sea, and the Old Empires, Raumathar and Narfell in the east.[9] Each enclave was raised and often ruled by one of the empire's powerful arcanists.[19][20]

Enclaves

Many of the floating enclaves of Netheril were carved right out of the natural world,[citation needed] while others were existing cities that were elevated and taken over by the empire's mighty arcanists.[21][22]

  • Akintaer: This enclave boasted a mighty army, who worshiped the god Targus.[23]
  • Aquessir: Unlike other Netherese cities, the Shadowtop Borough maintained opened trade with nearby settlements, notably those of the elves.[24]
  • Delia: Originally an island inhabited by elves and druids, this enclave was elevated by Lady Polaris and maintained its nature-appreciating culture and decor for some time, before it lost its way and was assimilated into the greater Netherese culture.[21]
  • Doubloon: The former bandit's haven was elevated by Tempera of Fenwick as a rogue enclave that evaded the other cities of Netheril in pursuit of the magically-aided currency-counterfeiting scheme.[22]
Eileanar

The enclave of Eileanar

Low NetherilEdit

The lands of Low Netheril were comprised of scattered towns, land-bound enclaves known as demenses, and roaming barbarian tribes. The demenses were ruled the lesser arcanists of the empire who had yet to master the creation of the mythallars that enabled the ancient wizards to lift their cities from the face of Toril. Each demense exhibited specific terrain, weather and characteristics that were alterable depending on the whim of the ruling arcanist.[6]

Rather than using roads, the mages of Low Netheril traveled to other Realms by means of flying steeds and fly spells.[6]

Unlike the nobility of the flying enclaves, the commoners of Low Netheril, also known as the free folk, were seen as chattel by their societal superiors. The arcanists of the empire used them for labor or subjects for magical experimentation.[6] Heavily influenced by the priests of their varying religions,[7] the serfs of Low Netheril looked to their gods for a better life, free from the subjugation of the empire's magocratic rulers. The fringes of the empire were inhabited by the roaming Rengarth and Angardt barbarian tribes, who were split by the latter group's adoption of sorcery.[6]

Demenses
Colonies

Survivor StatesEdit

Following the collapse of Netheril, three of the Netherese enclaves were saved by the newly ascended goddess of magic, Mystra. They were gently brought down to Toril and the lives of their noble citizens were spared. The survivors created realms.[9]

Anauria

The lands directly south of Netheril became the home of the Anaurians, who became renowned for creating fine swords and carrying on the magical legacy of Netheril. The lack of high-level magics and mythallars severely hampered their efforts, however, and the kingdom was finally destroyed in a bloody and costly battle against an orc horde in 450 DR.[42]

Asram

No sooner had Asram recovered from the Fall than it was suddenly struck by a horrendous plague sent by Talona that claimed all the Asramans in -33 DR.[38] In the spring months that led up to what many called a repeat of the Dark Disaster that ravaged the elves of Miyeritar, cattle were found dead in the fields and crops withered and died, sometimes overnight. During the first week of Eleasias of that year, the plague struck the entire nation, leaving a scant few survivors.[43]

Hlondath

The longest-lived of the survivor-states, the people of Hlondath immediately began blaming others for the fall of Netheril‚ discounting the news that Karsus himself had caused the destruction. Their favorite target for such blame was the elves of Cormanthyr, whom they saw as "accomplices of the phaerimm". They established good relations with the dwarves of Tethyamar, but otherwise concentrated on logging the nearby forest and herding cattle across the plains. In 199 DR, the Hlondathans finally incited the Cormanthyr elves into a war, a conflict that came to be known as the Crown Against Scepter Wars. The forces of Hlondath were repeatedly crushed in battle by Myth Drannor and the nation was greatly weakened. As the Anauroch desert slowly spread across the fertile lands of the Realm, the Netherese survivors were scattered across Faerûn.[43]

Returned NetherilEdit

When Thultanthar returned to Toril in 1372 DR, it was immediately evident that the enclave was a shadow of its former glory. Years of influence by Shar and the Shadowfell had greatly influenced the Netherese nobility, gradually corrupting them into shades known as the "Shadovar". They re-established the Netherese Empire in north Faerûn, in dedication to their venerated deity of Shar and reclaimed the power and lifestyle they knew from millennia before.[11]

The Sharran Empire of Netheril would stretch from the borders of the High Ice in the north, across Anauroch, to the Far Sea Swamp. Like the ancient empire, returned Netheril was separated into the empire's floating enclaves, which were held aloft by the magic of the Shadow Weave, and the terrestrial cities of Toril.[11]

GovernmentEdit

Upon the return of Thultanthar, the Shade Enclave and growing empire was ruled by the Shadow Lord, Most High Telamont Tanthul, He was served over the next hundred years, until the end of the 15th by twelve of his sons, the Princes of Shade. These millennia-old wizards of ancient Netheril had been greatly tainted by the Shadowfell, and carried out the machinations of the Empire as agents of Shar.[44][11]

This section is a stub. You can help us by expanding it.


SocietyEdit

The arcanists of Netheril continued their experiments, with the focus restoring the Shadow Weave following the Spellplague, and extending Shar's influence over the Art.[citation needed]

While the Shade Enclave only had a couple hundred shades, the Netherese people within were permanently touched the Shadow Weave, known to the rest of Faerûn as the "Shadovar". A generation after the return of Thultanthar, shadar-kai began to appear among the populace of Netheril. The people of the desert cities within Anauroch were referred to as "Netherese", and were made up of the previously nomadic, desert tribes of the Bedine.[11]

The worship of Shar was the only faith allowed in the enclaves of Shade and Sakkors. Despite the fact Shar was responsible for the Spellplague, millennia of indoctrination by Shar and her church enabled Netheril's government to rationalize the cataclysmic even as being the fault of the dead goddess Mystra.[citation needed] Although the former Netherese deity, Amaunator, was brought back into the Faerûnian pantheon in 1385 DR,[45] due to Shar's indoctrination, he was reviled within the returned Netheril Empire.[citation needed]

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CitiesEdit

  • City of Shade: Flying above Toril, the black-spired city of the Twelve Princes served as the capital of the Netheril Empire. It housed hundreds of shades from their home plane of existence as well as the Shadovar, both of whom were protected by a legion of armored swordmages who patrolled the streets of the shadow enclave.[11]
  • Sakkors: The flying, mountain-peak enclave that had originally been ascended by Xolund, was re-raised in 1374 DR and regularly seen flying over Sembia. It sparked fear and intimidation in the merchant nation, more often appearing during times when the Sembian merchant-lords voiced their displeasure or disagreements with the Empire.[46]

The nation of Sembia was fully absorbed into the empire of Netheril in 1400 DR and served as a vassal-state for most of the 15th century DR. As the mercantile holdings and diplomatic ties that were provided by the nation were vital to the Empire's economy, Sembia was granted a limited amount of autonomy.[47]

RelationsEdit

The Empire of Netheril was openly opposed by the Sand Kings, a remnant of the Bedine separatists who resisted the combined Shadovar-Netherese influence.[11]

HistoryEdit

Main article: History of Netheril

The history of Netheril was one of great advances in the arcane arts and great hubris on behalf of the civilization's greatest archmages.[2] Thanks to excellently preserved Netherese written accounts of the Netherese Diaspora, and the fact that more than a few Netherese citizens lived survived into the 14th century DR—either through lichdom, in the cases of Larloch, Wulgreth and Ioulaum, or from the return of Thultantharan enclave—historians gained a comprehensive knowledge of Netheril's history.[10]

Ancient EmpireEdit

First Age

In the beginning, the region of Netheril was a paradise of rivers, forests, lakes, and plains. Nestled along the Narrow Sea[1] was the growing Alliance of Seventon, which was little more than a group of villages, Fenwick, Gers, Gilan, Gustaf, Moran, Nauseef, and Janick,[29], nestled along the Narrow Sea.[1] The growing nation proceeded to remove nearby threats and expanded the scope of both its power and land. After carefully observing the growing human realm, the Eaerlanni elves opened up diplomatic ties and began to instruct them in the ways of the Art in -3830 DR. With talent never seen before, the Netherese learned arcane spells with rapacious fervor.[1] Following this association, the alliance was renamed "Netheril", or Nether's Land, by Nether the Elder.[citation needed] Within Netheril, every citizen was taught the very basics of spellcasting. Even commoners maids knew cantrips to aid with housework. Those who truly excelled at the arts of magic became known as arcanists, a rapidly rising political faction that was second only to the nobility of the nation.[48]

Nether Age

After 300 years of studying magic under the Eaerlanni, the Nether Scrolls were discovered by the Finder, within the ruins of Aryvandaar in -3533 DR. The scrolls provided a huge leap forward in Netherese spellcraft, which they favored over the magic they learned from the elves.[48] The next two hundred years saw the power of the Netherese arcanists increase by leaps and bounds.[2] It was during this age that the 33-year-old Congenio Ioun, in an unprecedented feat of skill, created his first magical item, the ioun stone.[49] In the last 20 years of this age, the arcanists assaulted the Land of Alabaster Towers and stripped away arcane spells from the minds of the nation's sorcerers.[2]

Ioulaum

Ioulaum battles a horde of orcs

Mythallar Era

The birth of one of Netheril's greatest arcanists Ioulaum, in -3315 DR, marked a new era in Netherese Empire. In the first 200 years of his life, Ioulaum led the defense of the nation against a horde of orcs, which originated from the Plain of Standing Stones, which allowed for experimentation on the monstrous beast-men.[2] He further changed the understanding of magic on Toril with the invention of the first mythallar in -3014 DR, and the discovery of quasi-magical items, which could be powered by a mythallar in place of the Weave, a few years later.[2] In -2954 DR, Ioulaum created the first floating enclave, Xinlenal, by means of the spell Proctiv's move mountain.[50][2][note 1]

Within this era, one of the two-complete sets of the Nether Scrolls were stolen by a group of Cormanthyrian elves who were aided by a lone rock gnome, Rilmohx Sha'Quessir. When Rilmohx took a quick peak at one of the scrolls, the entirety of the illusion school of magic was bestowed upon the mind of the gnomish thief. The arcane knowledge quickly spread throughout the gnome community of Faerûn.[49][2]

Silver Age

The next 300-year age of Netheril began with the founding of the empire's new ruling council, the High Mages of Netheril, in -2758 DR. During this era, the Netherese discovered the deposits of valuable ore in passageways beneath the Greypeak Mountains, established the mines of Dekanter and founded small colonies and outposts in the North.[2] In time, the Netherese archwizards began to feel cramped in their floating cities, leading to ideas of expansion in the Savage Frontier. The idea to expand westward was fueled by the Terraseer, a mysterious oracle who discovered the Old Owl Well in -2368 DR,[51] and established the trademeet settlement of Quesseer, which served the traders from Netheril, Illuskan seafarers, the elves of Illefarn and dwarves from Haunghdannar.[2]

Also during these years, the Netherese created several quasi-magical items during this time.[52] The stolen Nether Scrolls were scattered across Faerûn, hidden in places such as the Hall of Mists beneath the Grandfather Tree and the Crypt of Hssthak.[2]

Golden Age

The next millennium was a period of great advancements in magical understanding, prodigious expansion and vast change for the Empire of Netheril, the beginning of which was marked by the birth of Jeriah Chronos, the founder of the chronomancy school of magic, in -2207 DR. During this time, Netheril began lifting one enclave into the sky per year, including Thultanthar.[2] Soon there were dozens of enclaves riding the air currents or orbiting patterns around the loosely defined borders of Netheril.[51] They also explored the depths of the Sea of Fallen Stars and established three undersea, crystal-domed colonies that came to be known as Deep Netheril. In the following century the subaqueous Netherese enslaved the Serôsian aquatic elves, the colonies were destroyed by the high mages of Aryselmalyr in a catastrophic, undersea explosion so large that it created the Saerloon and Selgaunt Bays.[2]

Age of Discovery

A number of profound arcane advancements were made during the 500 years following the Golden Age. The first of which was the discovery of chardalyn within mines beneath the Plain of Standing Stones beneath Low Netheril in -1205 DR. Uncovering these magic-absorbing minerals led to great experiments in the field of gem magic. The arcanists began to research into the travel to other planets in realmspace, by means of flying ships known as spelljammers. While venturing outside Toril's crystal sphere the Netherese first encountered illithids, who attacked the space-faring wizards on sight. This aberrant hostility ceased spelljamming endeavors on Toril for another thousand years.[53][4]

Shadowed Age

The last age of Netheril began with the birth of the mage Karsus in -696 DR, whose actions brought the empire crashing down to Toril. He was a savant among the prodigious arcanists of Netheril, attaining a mastery of spellcraft nearly instantly.[53] During the next 300 years he created the enclave of Eileanar, discovered heavy magic and killed the rogue arcanist Wulgreth, transforming him into a lich.[4]

During this age, a number of significant of discoveries occurred that adversely affected the Empire of Netheril and greater region of north Faerûn for centuries. In -681 DR, arcanists who came to be known as the Night Parade, traveled to the Demiplane of Nightmares which was scantly protected by the aberrations of the Far Realm. In -553 DR the arcanists of Netheril discovered the plane of Shadow,[4] which became the destination to where Telamont Tanthul would shift his enclave of Thultanthar in -339 DR, when it came to be known as the "Shade Enclave".[3]

While Netheril's flying cities flourished in the sky, magical residue seeped into the earth below and became an affliction for a race of subterranean dwelling creatures called the phaerimm. Eventually, the phaerimm grew tired of their torment and began to retaliate in a war with Netheril. In -461 DR they began draining both life and magic from both Toril and the floating enclaves, creating barren wastelands where there once were lush fields and areas of wild magic. The chaotic effects of magics caused the arcanists of High Netheril to flee the empire for safer lands. The enclaves of Lhaoda and Tith Tilendrothael were destroyed and many of the arcanists of Low Netheril fled for the recently-established magocracy of Illusk, the Tower of the Star in the ruins of Andalbruin, and a settlement in the Northdark founded by Ioulaum. The absence of the arcanists caused civil unrest in Low Netheril, and the commoners fled their home.[54] In -345 DR, Arthindol the Terraseer appeared in the enclave of Eileanar with a warning that goddess Mystryl would challenge Netheril in a manner never before seen.[4]

Diaspora
The fall of Netheril - by Sam Wood

The fall of Netheril

The period between the fall of ancient Netheril and the return of Thultanthar from the Shadowfell in 1472 DR.[4][10] It began in -339 DR, with an event that came to be known as Karsus's Folly, an attempt by the brilliant arcanist Karsus to steal the power of the goddess of magic Mystryl and ascend to godhood. He cast an incredibly complicated, six-hour long spell[55][page needed] of his own creation called Karsus's avatar, which finally tore apart the Weave that had been weakened by the war between the phaerimm and Netheril, forcing Mystryl to sacrifice herself to keep it intact. Arcane magic temporarily ceased to function, which nullified the mythallars of Netheril and caused nearly all the enclaves to come crashing down to the surface of Toril.[56] Their ruins were littered across northern Faerûn, and their residual magic and power would influence the Realms for centuries.[14]

Almost immediately after Mystryl died, she was reincarnated as Mystra, the goddess of magic who retained her position until the Time of Troubles. Despite the enormity of destruction caused by Karsus's Folly, she was able to save three of the falling Netherese enclaves, Anauria, Asram, and Hlondath.[54][9] Some of arcanists and wizards were able to lead some of their people to safety. Raumark led a group of refugees south by traveling in their airships to the Shining South and would go on to found the nation of Halruaa.[57] The dwarves of Ascore guided Netherese survivors through the subterranean passageway of the Lowroad to the realm of Delzoun.[4]

LegacyEdit

Magic

Because of Mystra's Ban, the mythallars could no longer draw upon the Weave to power quasi-magical items or the creation of floating enclaves. In addition, the extremely powerful spells of Faerûn were no longer granted to practitioners of the Art, as it was deemed by the goddess of Magic to be beyond their level of responsibility. So-called epic magic was thereafter limited to practitioners of Elven high magic.[58]

The centuries of arcane research in Netheril had given Toril a variety of never-before-seen magical items that continued to be created and used by wizards and adventurers for millennia, such as Ioun stones.[2] A small number of magical artifacts had been left behind within the ruins of Netheril's fallen enclaves. While some of these were quasi-magical items, which could only function a certain distance from the demenses of Low Netheril, others included archyre crowns, chardalyn gems and shatter-rings.[14]

Netherese

While the Netherese successor states survived for some time, they were eventually destroyed or abandoned.[9] The remnants of the Netherese people were scattered across the Realms, with no home to call their own. The commoners of Low Netheril were scattered among the of the North, settling in Illusk and other lands, before developing into the Angardt, Rengarth and intermingling with the Uthgardt barbarian tribes.[57]

Phaerimm

The life-draining magic of the phaerimm continued to deteriorate lands of the Empire, until it degenerated into the desolate Anauroch desert.[54] Fortunately for the rest of Faerûn, the phaerimm were defeated by the mysterious, aberrant sharn,[38] and were trapped behind the silver, shimmering sharn wall.[59]

Empire of ShadowsEdit

Days before Karsus's Folly, arcanist Telamont Tanthul was experimenting with magic related to the Shadow Weave and managed to shift his entire enclave of Thultanthar to the Plane of Shadow, unable to return for several weeks.[33][4] When the Tanthul saw the catastrophe that occurred in their absence, assuming the destruction was caused by the Phaerimm, he decided to remain in the Shadow Plane in order to maintain what could be the last of their magically-gifted people. He vowed to one day return to Toril and re-establish the Empire of Magic. By means of divination, the Netherese clerics of Shar quickly discovered the truth, but only informed the nobility of Thultanthar.[60]

Return to Toril

On Hammer 1 1372 DR,[note 2] after assistance from his son Shade Prince Rivalen,[3] Lord Telamont returned Thultanthar enclave to the Prime Material Plane, bringing about the reestablishment of the Netheril Empire.[61] Since returning, the enclave came to primarily soar above the north-western side of the Shadow Sea in the Anauroch desert.[3]

In 1374 DR, Rivalen and his brother Brennus orchestrated a plot that brought Sembia under control of the empire as a vassal state.[62][page needed] The fallen enclave of Sakkors was also re-ascended that year, after which it was fully rebuilt and refurbished.[46]

In the following year, while agents of Shar obliterated the city of Ordulin with a catastrophic spell learned from the tome Leaves of One Night,[63] Lord Shadow Telamont Tanthul and his right hand Hadrhune sought out one of the sets of Nether Scrolls which had been stolen from the ancient Netheril Empire and transformed into the Golden Grove of the Windsong Tower, by the elven high mage Tyvollus Aluviirsan.[64] After agents of the Shadow Lord stole the magical tree away to the Crypt of Augathra the Mad, in the sands of the Anauroch amid the ruins of Synod, it was destroyed by the Liberators of Shadowdale and the remnants of the Nether Scrolls were scattered across Faerûn.[65][page needed]

15th century

Over the next century the Shadow Empire of Netheril strengthened their their hold over northern Faerûn. By 1380 DR, Sembia was fully under the influence of the Shade Princes and officially made a protectorate of the empire two decades later.[47] They enacted a bloodless conquest of Featherdale in 1418 DR, and by extension of the efforts of Sembia, took over Tasseldale in 1420 DR and the lands of Scardale.[66]

In 1484 DR, as a result of the Second Sundering, natural calamities began to strike Toril. During this year Sembia outright invaded the Dalelands, who in turn were aided by the nation of Cormyr. Netheril brought their forces to the borders of the Forest Kingdom, which began a war that left Cormyr engaging forces on two fronts. In the following year the Bedine of Anauroch revolted against their Netherese oppressors and regions of central and northern Faerûn became outright battlefields. As the elves of Myth Drannor came to the aid of the nations of the Heartlands, the armies of Sembia were staved off and Cormyr reclaimed their lands.[67]

With the war in Cormyr at an end, Netheril turned their focus to Myth Drannor in 1487 DR, and flew the Shade Enclave over their borders.[5] Telamont attempted to seize the power of returned Myth Drannor's mythal so that Shar could displace Mystra as the new goddess of magic in Faerûn. The shadow arcanist and his fellow Shadovar agents were stopped by their fellow Netherese arcanist, the lich Larloch, who wanted to absorb the mythal for himself. During the conflict, the Shadow Lord Telamont was killed by the Sage of Shadowdale, Elminster Aumar. The Shade Enclave of Thultanthar fell upon Myth Drannor and both cities were destroyed in a disaster that hearkened back to Netheril's original collapse.[68]

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. This event happened in -2954 DR (905 NY) according to Lost Empires of Faerûn, but -2993 DR (866 NY) according to Netheril: Empire of Magic, (without referring to Xinlenal by name). The 10th-level spell Proctiv's move mountain, considered vital for the establishment of a flying enclave, was supposedly developed in -2113 DR. Ioulaum supposedly used an 11th-level spell when raising his enclave, but no corresponding spell is detailed in Netheril: Empire of Magic.
  2. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide refers to this event as taking place in 1374 DR, but a number of other sources state the date is 1372 DR.

ReferencesEdit

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  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 97. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
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ConnectionsEdit

Netherese enclaves
Flying enclaves AkintaerAquessirAnauriaAsramDeliaDoubloonEileanarHlaungadathHlondathJethaereJiksidurJocktelegKolthunralLatheryLhaodaMaunatorNegarathNhallothOrbedalPalterPhylornelSpielSakkorsOpusSynodTanathrasThultantharTith TilendrothaelUndrentideXinlenal
Other enclaves CuulmathFarenweyQuaeluuvisQuesseerSargauthWerapan