[Publisher's note: this guide has been shortened for information relevancy]
Written by Vikka Jeng
Hisei is a large island mass south off of the coast from Crin and Polnarr. Nature still has its stranglehold on a wide majority of the land, and due to frigid temperatures, much of the southern coastline is uninhabited. The natives here still use antiquated technology, relying on castles made of wood, bamboo bows, and arrows tipped with steel. I believe that much potential technological progress is lacking due to the fact that for some inexplicable reason, almost every inhabitant in Hisei is utterly incapable of using magic. No cryptite can naturally be found here, and the polarizing trade restrictions also prevent its import.
(1) Asanahama is the first and only official stopping point for any foreigner looking to visit Hisei for whatever reason. The governor here, or the "Daimyo," as they like to say, is welcoming to foreigners so long as they do not cross any political or religious boundaries - a capital offense, with punishments extending even to execution. Due to taking up a majority of the northeastern coast and due to its relative position to a nearby ocean trench, Asanahama has one of the most sought after fish markets in the southeast of the world, with nearby foreigners bringing in ships filled with cryptite storage containers to import hundreds of fish to their home countries.
(2) Iro is northwestern-most region in Hisei, and along with (1) Asanahama, has good enough weather to make it a central agricultural community. Naturally, Iro has the highest population and is the wealthiest among all of the regions in Hisei, and contains large strips of flat land suitable to raise livestock and poultry. Due to its weather and population, Iro proves to be one of the leading artistic centers in the country, with poets and artists taking up residence in the suburbs of the province.
(3) Okuzuke is the province that is home to the Emperor of Hisei, who lives in his own castle, apart from the Daimyo of Okuzuke. Emperor Tokihito does not seem to move from his estate that much, and often sends messages relayed to other Daimyos in the country, and to his far-reaching eyes, the Hatamoto-Ten. The Imperial Palace is guarded by its own personal army, the Hatamoto-Chi, keeping it politically separated from the affairs of the Daimyo. Due to Hisei's history, most of the old fortresses can be found in Okuzuke, and they are still being maintained and used today.
(4) Awai is the most hilly and mountainous region just south from the center of Hisei, and also is home to the largest religious temple in Hisei, Nokori-Tochi. The highest amount of religious shrines in Hisei can be found in this province as well. Maybe it is due to the cold weather, but the people here tend to be colder to foreigners like myself. There are exceptions, but a good rule to follow here if you are a foreigner is to keep to yourself and don't be too nosy.
(5) Nanka is the southern-most province in Hisei, taking up all of the icy shelves lining the southern border of the island mass. The mountain ranges from (4) Awai extend deep into Nanka, ending with a cluster of dormant volcanoes which heat up the underground water near some of the towns. Hot springs are thus a commodity here, and due to its geological location, this area is the most hostile to foreigners. As stated before, most of the southern coast is uninhabited. Even then, natives do try to settle near rich silver mines, despite the potential costs.
Important Rules and Customs
When visiting a person's home, it is considered polite to give them an appropriate gift. This heavily applies to government officials, who may even require you to do favors for them if you want to meet them, and who may reject your audience if a gift is deemed unsuitable.
You may not bring any weapons into government buildings. A servant will take care of your weapons while you are visiting. Failure to follow this rule will lead to execution.
You may not cast any magic in government buildings. Failure to follow this rule will lead to execution. I ponder as to how enforceable this rule really is, when 99.9% of the population is unable to use magic and is probably not used to detecting it. Still, I would not dare test such a thing for science, due to the consequences of getting caught.
Casting magic in front of soldiers as a foreigner may be seen as a provocation. They may not even let you explain why you were trying to heat up your ice cold soup in Nanka. The prisons suck, but I consider myself lucky to not have been executed on the spot.
Emperor Tokihito - the divine Emperor of Hisei. Lives in (3) Okuzuke.
Ashida - most trusted vassal of the Emperor. Lives in (3) Okuzuke.
Chuunosuke - Daimyo of (1) Asanahama.
Teruyoshi - Daimyo of (2) Iro.
Hirohide - Daimyo of (3) Okuzuke.
Akatsu - Daimyo of (4) Awai.
Futsugawa - Daimyo of (5) Nanka.
Mitsunaga - Biggest agricultural merchant of (1) Asanahama.
Ono - Biggest silver and industrial merchant of (5) Nanka.
The so-called "eyes and ears of the Divine Emperor." These five people are the only natives that I know of that can use magic in Hisei. While they are supposedly physically and magically powerful in their own right, they seem to be political tools rather than weapons for the Emperor. This must imply that their magic is not greater than any other great wizard in the world, or maybe that they are supposed to hide it, like a secret weapon of some sorts. My suspicions point to the former. Still, it is best not to have one draw their weapon on you. The Hatamoto-Ten each represent a specific god in their religion, and thus supposedly have matching magical powers. As such, they dwell in large temples separate from the main castle in each region.
Inazuma no Kami - Known as Inazuma, and is the Hatamoto-Ten residing in (1) Asanahama. A delightful person to be around as far as I know, and most definitely the most rebellious of the bunch. I do not even know how she got this position, and I do not know why the Daimyo here lets her get away with her attitude, since the Hatamoto-Ten are supposed to be rather traditional. The other Hatamoto-Ten seem to not like her, or they tolerate her, and one tells me that she only seems nice at first.
Hi no Kami - Known as Hitoku, and is the Hatamoto-Ten residing in (2) Iro. A regal, dry, and a bit of a quiet lady. I cannot tell you much else, as my audience with her was short.
Tenkukaikatsu no Omikami - Known as Tenku, and is the Hatamoto-Ten residing in (3) Okuzuke. Never got to meet the Emperor, so I never got to meet him.
Yama no Kami - Known as Yama, and is the Hatamoto-Ten residing in (4) Awai. The oldest of the bunch, and is rather friendly, in contrast to the natives in Awai. He spends his time meditating, making tea, and practicing with his daikyu, a kind of longbow. I am under his obligation to tell you that his tea is the best. I am under my own obligation to tell you that it is okay.
Fuyu no Kami - Known as Fuyu, and is the Hatamoto-Ten residing in (5) Nanka. I was denied an audience with him, and I could see why, with all the natives there who wanted to visit him for help with something. Seems like he got tired of dealing with the crowd and is much more selective now.
This is the end of my Traveler's Guide for Hisei. Stay safe, watch out for bandits, and have fun. Until next time.