The Eustace Magocracy, commonly just called Eustace, is one of the four major powers in Orthon. It is mainly located in the southwestern part of the super-archipelago, barely extending north into the Notus Islands.
Eustace is called a Magocracy because it is ruled by an elite upper class of wizards and sorcerers. A council of eight wizards called the Archmages exercise ultimate political power. Those without magic can find opportunity in Eustan cities, but the lower classes are consigned to serfdom on the plantations or slavery on Eustan ships.
Eustace is the world’s largest magocracy, and has been since well before the Last Dragon War. Its rulers are a council of eight Archmages, each of whom specializes in a different school of magic. They rule from the capital city, North Almond.
Archmages serve for 64-year terms, staggered such that one new Archmage is appointed every 8 years. The Archmages are equal in terms of power. Whatever their internal politics and divisions, they always act together in public.
Beneath the Archmages is an upper class comprised of everyone who has skill with the arcane. While anybody with enough intelligence can theoretically learn to become a wizard, most people cannot learn magic without a teacher. Becoming an apprentice usually requires having connections, money, or exceptional skill.
Alternatively, there are those who have arcane power without formal training, like sorcerers. Wizards and sorcerers both tend to think that only they know “true” magic, but in terms of class, sorcerers and wizards are both privileged members of society.
Other types of spellcasters are also part of the upper class, but somewhat at the periphery. Bards and clerics are rarely landowners.
Those without spellcasting power are called “mundanes”, or mundies. In the cities, mundies form the middle and lower classes. They can own businesses, learn trades, and so forth. But there is still some prejudice. Many wizards refuse to do business with mundies.
Must of Eustace’s territory is farmland. Mundies in the farms are serfs tied to mage-owned plantations. If a mundie is absent from his or her plantation for a year and a day, they officially become free, but until that time the mage who owns their land can compel them back to work.
Eustace supports itself with an extensive trading network. Eustace owns the only islands in Orthon capable of growing sugarcane, and this monopoly serves it very well. But Eustace’s trade ships have a poor reputation, because the mundies who work the ships are even lower than the ones in the farms. They are basically slaves, although the official term is “bondservant”, since they serve by contract. But these contracts basically make the ship owners into owners of their servants as well.
The Archmages have put forth a proclamation stating that everyone in Eustace must follow Celestialism only and declaring anyone who worships the Ascendants heretics. But the faith of the Ascendant Lazulum is strong in the outlying Eustan islands, and the faith of Jalder is popular among the mundie serfs. The Archmages don’t seem to care. They repeated promise the Holy Episcopate that they will crack down on these heretics, but they never seem to do anything. No one has ever seen or heard of a prosecution for heresy in Eustace.
Eustace currently has a near monopoly on the sugar trade in Orthon. They’re also the largest supplier of coffee to the region. This, plus their obvious magic power, gives them a certain amount of clout.
Eustace briefly sided with the Empire of Gard in the Arcish War some decades ago. Since then, the Archmages have proclaimed that Eustace will always be neutral in any conflict, and will protect this neutrality by force. The Empire and the Holy Episcopate respect this arrangement. The Holy Episcopate also regularly complains to the Archmages about the spread of the Ascendant heresies in Eustace, but they don’t have the power to do anything about it.
Eustace and the Free City of Dragonfall are both independent powers, but they are not on friendly terms. Their trade networks are often in direct competition. Eustace controls the sugar and coffee trades, but Dragonfall has a larger trade fleet and better connections with the far west, bringing back rare gems, new foods like potatoes, and the extremely popular chocolate.