Cavnal is a large island nation of about 90,000 square miles, located approximately 650 miles from Tulay to the east across the Grafton Straits, about 1,000 miles southwest of Istia, and about 400 miles north/northeast of Cromis and Meritac. Cavnal is located in the Herdan Sea, which forms a bowl-like shape surrounded by Tulay, Cromis and Meritac.
Cavnal is a fertile island with heavy bauxite deposits throughout its central regions, which fuel its aluminium industry. The southern region of the island is composed mainly of low hills and lightly forested regions with many birch, elm, and beech trees, while the northwest region is more mountainous and densely forested with pine, spruce, and other evergreens. The bauxite is mined mainly from the east-central portion of the nation, where the landscape features vast stretches of limestone formations.
There are many rivers and lakes in Cavnal, with the largest lake being Lake Marag in the northeast, at the foot of the Marag mountain range. The longest river in Cavnal is the Stad River, which forms from seven tributaries at a point 50 miles southeast of Greydowns on the northwestern coast, and flows to the Grafton Straits on the southeastern coast. The River Barm connects the Stad and Lake Marag, flowing just north of the limestone deposits and south of the Hayth Forest, which is the main source of lumber for the nation. The economic hub of Darbissey developed where the Barm and the Stad divide. A significant tributary called the River Uxer, which flows from the port city of Ridgemark on the southwestern coast, joins the Stad in the lower central region of the country. Brinmark was established at the annex of the Stad and Uxer.
The climate of Cavnal is relatively temperate, given its position in the Herdan Sea, with heavy rainfall throughout the year in almost all its regions. Snow has been relatively uncommon in the southern regions for the last several hundred years, with sleet and ice being more common in the winter months. Snowfall is much more prevalent in the mountainous northeastern region, where the winters are long and cold and the summers relatively cool and humid. The southern coast is significantly warmer and sunnier throughout the year than the regions to the north, making coastal cities like Ridgemark and Terefor the most popular vacation spots for the wealthy.
Cavnal is relatively young compared to the other northern nations. The island was disputed territory for hundreds of years prior to the establishment of the independent Cavnish monarchy five hundred years ago. The south and western regions were originally settled by Meritian traders, while both Istian and Tulian fishermen used the natural harbors on the eastern and northern coastline as outposts for their summer fishing expeditions. The original settlers of the island lived predominately in the forested regions of the north in independent clans, linked only by trade, a common religion, and a mostly-common language. The settlements at Brinmark, Ridgemark, Darbissey, and Greydowns were originally established by the Meritian traders, hence the distinction in the etymology of the city names from places of purely Cavner origin — such as Marag, Izchena, and Vlyadi.
Throughout the eighth century, Meritian settlements began to encroach on the clan territories, and in 782 the Tulian and Istian settlements broke out in open conflict on the northeastern coastline, disrupting local trade and causing a rift among the clans who traded with the outposts. The island chieftains came together in a summit and voted to unite the clans under one leader, a man named Caveni, who became the nation's first king (although he did not adopt the title of "king" until twenty years into his reign). By the time of his death the country was commonly called Cavenal, which eventually shifted into Cavnal. The nation of Cavnal was not recognized by the mainland nations until the recently-formed Cavnish army drove the Meritian occupiers out of Darbissey, Brinmark, and finally Ridgemark. Greydowns was the last Meritian stronghold to come under Cavnish rule. An uneasy truce with Meritac followed, but Caveni was able to negotiate friendly trade relations with Tulay and Istia, which have survived, more or less intact, to the present day.
The government of Cavnal is headed by a hereditary, limited monarchy, currently filled by King Trabin Geynis. The monarchy has remained within Caveni's family line as long as it has existed, typically filled by the eldest male sons of the former king. However, there have been several notable examples of queens holding the principle power, including Queen Arivyana Kolka, who personally led the Cavnish fleet into the Grafton Straits to repel an attempted invasion by Cromis in 953. Apart from the poor, who often go by made-up names (tags) with no surnames, the Cavnish monarchs are the only members of society who do not bear a common family surname. The second name of a monarch is always a designation of their filiation of the former monarch—hence, Trabin Geynis, son of King Geyn, and Tarik Trabinis (Tarik of Trabin). The queen also takes a filial name to the former king, even if she has married into the monarchy. Elanar, Tarik's mother, is thus called Elanar Geyna (Elanar of Geyn) even though she is of Tulian blood.
In the Cavnish government, the monarch exercises limited authority in domestic affairs, but absolute authority in foreign affairs. In domestic affairs the monarch heads the Court of Ministries as a sort of "first among equals." Laws are debated and voted on in a rather parliamentary fashion, with the Ministers (elected leaders of each Ministry) having voting rights and veto authority. In times of national emergency the monarch may withdraw power from the Court of Ministries and exercise absolute authority, but this power has rarely been used in the history of the monarchy.
In domestic affairs, the monarch has traditionally been considered the Minister of the Krizanyi, or Minister of the Common Man. The other Ministers all represent some segment of society or a particular industry, but the working class would otherwise have no representation in the Court. The monarch thus stands in their place in the Court, and this is held to be such a sacred duty that for a monarch to act against the good of the krizanyi is grounds for the monarch to be asked to abdicate—a destabilizing event that has actually happened (though only twice) in Cavnish history. In each instance, civil war was only barely averted.
Cavnish monarchs do not traditionally rule until their deaths, even though they are not subject to being voted out of power. In most cases, the former monarch transfers power to his or her heir apparent in a solemn ceremony, typically between the heir's twentieth and thirtieth birthdays. The transference of power is ratified officially by the Court as well as affirmed in a symbolic vote by the whole population (which holds no real power but would never be denied).
The Court of Ministries
The parliamentary, law-making body of the Cavnish government is, strictly-speaking, embodied in the Court of Ministries, a twelve-member committee that represents each Ministry within Cavnish society. Apart from the House of Twelve (which is what is typically meant by the term "Court of Ministries"), the provincial dukes, the governors of each major city, the Commandant of the Army, and the Chief Admiral of the Navy also have voting privileges in the Court, but only on specific issues. The Court of Ministries, or a special delegation from its numbers, may be invited to advise the monarch on matters of foreign policy, but the Court has never been delegated actual power in negotiating treaties, trade agreements, or declarations of war or peace.
See also The Cavnish Ministries.
The katzpotivyek is the aristocracy of Cavnal, encompassing all of the upper ranks of society from mere lords and ladies (who possess only a courtesy title but no property) to the provincial dukes. Many of the lower ranks of the aristocracy are comprised of scientists and inventors whose research or inventions have won them renown in their field. For most of the katzpotivyek, their titles or ranks are simply a social and economic status without political power—their titles win them entry into the high society functions and royal assemblies, entitle them to a yearly stipend, and confer the right to live in the upper-class boroughs of the cities.
The lower ranks of the aristocracy are given the honorific Katzpota (male) or Katzpotim (female), abbreviated simply K. in writing (and sometimes informal speech). This distinguishes them from the members of the middle class (and minor children of the governing class) who are called the Cavnish equivalent of Mr./Mrs./Miss. The upper ranks are addressed by their specific offices.
The order of ranks is as follows:
|Masculine Title||Feminine Title||Equivalent Rank||Role/Authority|
|Katzpota||Katzpotim||Lord/lady||Social title only|
|Navirya||Naviryim||Baron/baroness||Landowners, masters of rural hamlets|
|Druvyata||Druvyatim||Count/countess||Hereditary titles, typically.|
|Straga||Stragim||Provincial duke/duchess||Appointed by the monarch to govern provinces, with approval from the Ministry of the Interior.|
Notably, city governors and town mayors are not considered members of the katzpotivyek unless they hold a title by some other means.
Stavos and Guilds
The Back Shaft
The official language of Cavnal is Cavnish, a language etymologically related to Low Tulian and the proto-Vadric tongues. This suggests that the earliest inhabitants of Cavnal might have migrated from the Tulian archipelago or belonged to the same group of migrant peoples who eventually settled Tulay.
Although the earliest common language spoken in Cavnal is popularly called "Old Cavnish," it preexisted the Caveni monarchy by centuries. The precise linguistic term for the precursor language is Kudric. There is a guild of scholars—historians and linguists—who still know how to translate and speak Kudric. Also, because Cavnal's first Testament of Laws was written in Kudric after Caveni became King, every child born into the royal family line since Caveni has been educated in Kudric from their earliest years by special tutors.
Within Cavnal, four distinct regional dialects have been recognized, but a fifth, Court Cavnish, has been the official dialect and pronunciation for the last one hundred and fifty years. The Marag dialect of the central region is the spoken dialect that retains the most in common with Kudric; in the most remote villages in the Marag mountains and hill country, visitors from other regions may even have difficulty understanding the local dialect. The Dobivat (or "north shore") dialect is commonly spoken in the northern regions, more distinctly in the coastal towns where frequent contact with traders from other countries has led to assimilation of other languages' slang terms and modes of pronunciation. For example, the Dobivat pronunciation of the phoneme "s" is "ts" whereas in Court Cavnish it is "sh." This is also true in Brastat, the southern dialect common to Brinmark, Ridgemark, and Darbissey, where the "s" phoneme is pronounced as it is in English. The Uxag dialect of the south central and southeastern regions carries some modern Ceruvian influence, which gives it a stridently different pronunciation than the Cavnish spoken in other regions (like the difference between a New York and midwestern accent).
Even within urban centers, the language can vary drastically from one part of a city to another. For example, within Brinmark there is a significant difference in accent between the south streets, Central Brinmark, and North Brinmark in and around the Oval Wall. The south street accent (called Skorri by linguists) is almost a language unto itself, with clipped words, its own unique slang, and patterns of speech not found anywhere else in Cavnal.
To learn more about the south street accent, see Skorri Slang.