Vidbel is a land far to the north of Rachma that shares proximity to Aperion. Its winters are long and harsh, talking up over half the year. The people who call the country their home are known as Vidbeli.
Vidbel is usually covered in snow and ice, though its spings and summers show there to be sparse grass and coniferous trees below the precipitation. It is mountainous, though to a far lesser extent than its neighbor Aperion. Most settlements are made in the valleys near the hills, where there is protection from at least some of the winds.
Vidbel's people are laregely family-based, operating in smaller, nomadic groups that travel as the weather allows, often returning to certain areas every year. The Vidbeli are made up of three families:
- The Pravlovskii ,
- The Javmovich, the smallest clan, and
- The Navkov, the largest of the clans.
The clans are said to originate from three brothers who tied heavily into the Vidbeli creation myth. Though there are family rivalries, marriage between clans is accepted and even encouraged in order to prevent any interbreeding, with the understanding that in most cases the wife joins her husband's clan. Each clan speaks a different dialect of the Vidbeli language. The major differences are in the syntax and verb conjugations as well as the accent. Aurally, they are distinguishable but not incomprehensible; anyone speaking one dialect will be able to understand the other two dialects, albiet with some difficulty.
Due to the Vidbeli's nomadic nature, there are few permanent settlements in Vidbel. Four major cities exist, each belonging to one of the clans and one central capital equally held and maintained by the clans. These cities function as meeting places for the clans when necessary, as well as being a center where commerce and trading is carried out by returning merchants and goods are distributed to their extended family. Each clan capital is also seen as a location to impress visiting clans and other visitors. As such, the prime examples of clan traditions are often seen there-- from food to garb to dances to marriages, and more.
Aside from the four cities, the Vidbeli have built various halls that house their family records. Vidbeli family trees are notoriously well-documented and can be traced back thousands of years with relative ease, reflecting on the importance of family in Vidbeli culture. Newly married couples will make pilgrimages to these halls in order to record their union on the walls therein; this is repeated when any children are born or any outsiders are officially welcomed into the family. These halls are some of the most well-kept and sound buildings in Vidbel, and their keepers regard their occupation as a near-sacred duty to their kin. The halls are usually tied to only a handful of families, generally the ones that travel in that section of the country. As a result, there are over forty clan halls known in the current era. Several have been lost in inter-clan skirmishes and disagreements, but due to their importance within Vidbel society they are remarkably well preserved.
Because of their origin myth, the Vidbeli believe themselves to be outside of many of the major conflicts between other countries and cultures. Much of Vidbel's economy is based in international trade, provided by Aer Rover merchants from various clans. Vidbeli are accepted travelers in both Aperion and Heruba; some report that even the elusive Shouxian take a kinder stance to the traders than to other travelers. Nav Vidbeli is usually regarded as one of the international trade languages.
In the past century Vidbeli/Aperion relations have been particularly strained, though within the last thirty years there has been a marked improvement due to the rising Aperonian trading business Montgomery Co., which has used Nav Vidbeli and many of their trading routes in order to establish itself.
Vidbel has no official militia, though it is well known that clans are quick to rally around any of their kin in danger. Vidbeli/Heruba relations have historically offered little trouble to either country, though Heruba's high tariffs keep Vidbeli traders from putting more of an effort into Heruba's economy.
Because of their proximity, Vidbel and Aperion share a long history of arguments and war separated by tentative peacetimes. During Aperion's Blood Era, when the borders of the country were still being established, Vidbel was an area of extreme contention. Many territories with many different cultures and languages had been brought under the Aperonian flag, and the current king, Gabriel Flynn, sought to exand their borders in what he felt was a natural extension. Aperion and Vidbel were at war as the northerners fought to retain their independence, one of the grisliest conflicts in Vidbeli history. The Vidbeli finally won their freedom under the command of a woman known only as Isolde, whose clan name was either discarded or lost in history. Isolde lost her life at the end of the war in a final airbourne conflict over the Maelstrom when she rescued not only her own soldiers but her Aperonian adversaries. The stories say that King Gabriel was so moved by her sacrafice that he officially called a cease-fire for his troops.
Though the two nations have signed the Aperion-Vidbel Peace Treaty, there are still marked conflicts between the two nations throughout history. The most recent was a small war approximatey 90 years prior, organized by the Javmovich clan which resulted not only in their severely reduced numbers but their disgrace in Vidbeli eyes. Aperonians, who are largely unaware of the Jav exclusivity of the conflict, still harbor grudges against Vidbel, causing the merchants of the Pravlovskii and the Navkov to have much more difficulty in trade.
Like most major nations, Vidbeli has a breed of dragon that lives in the frozen northlands. Unlike the dragons of Aperion, Vidbeli, and Nehum, Vidbel's dragons are not reptiles; they are instead mammals, covered in a thick layer of blubber and sporting fur that includes a layer of hollow guard hairs much like polar bears. This disparity has led a dispute that these creatures cannot be classified as dragons at all, though they have the same characteristics such as high intellect and a keen interest in humans. The Vidbeli have in their lore a story that says that because they are a people created by the gods instead of the Creator, so are their dragons. The legend goes on to say that they were adapted from some other species that once called Vidbel its home in a response to a plea from the Vidbeli.
The exact number of Vidbeli dragons has not been recorded, as the Vidbeli tend to leave the creatures to their own devices. As a rule they only interact with the dragons if they seek out the Vidbeli first.
The draconic liason of Vidbel is a Vidbeli man or woman, usually one per generation, who renounces clan ties in order to walk the land and communicate with all clans equally. They are usually the one sought when the dragons require communication between themselves and humans; because of the language barrier, the liason usually spends many days at a time speaking with the dragons, translating and adapting their words in order to make them clear in all three dialects of Vidbeli.
These liasons are called what translates as "Children of Isolde," an homage to the historical figure who also renounced her clan ties for the good of the Vidbeli.