The People's Commonwealth
By far and away, my favorite part of world building in Redemption's Pursuit was creating the People's Commonwealth.
To Princess Erianna who has never ventured beyond the Kingdom of Limba, the landscape and society of the People's Commonwealth, specifically the city of Grass Lake, is strange and dangerous. But for me, it is the familiar untamed scrub-land of my home state.
The People's Commonwealth occupies the most territory on the Continent. It stretches across four main geographic regions. The first region Erianna crosses is the Lowlands. A scrubby open forest makes up the descent in elevation from Limba to the scorching grasslands surrounding the marshy coast.
I pulled this land directly from my memories of horseback riding in the Central Florida flatwoods with my friends. We spent days riding double through the humid sandy woods. More than once we got lost. Longleaf pine trees and saw palmettos all look the same to a teenage girl. Thankfully, the horses had a better sense of direction than we did and knew exactly which way home was. Interspersed with the stands of pines and palmetto bushes are huge swaths of grassland, some of which flood seasonally. These grass ponds appear out of nowhere and hide venomous water snakes, alligators and deep silty mud. It is a wild landscape.
Much like old Florida, the Lowlands within the People's Commonwealth boasts a thriving population that survives on the water. The populations of Grass Lake and Safewell are sustained by the abundance of fish, crustaceans, and birds that inhabit Grass Marsh. Outside the cities, farmers graze small hardy cattle on the seasonal floodplain, but the people live close to the cities. Seaport is the most important city of trade within the Commonwealth. All trade from Malesiir and Limba is funneled through Seaport into the rest of the Commonwealth. As such, Malesiir has a friendly martial presence within that city to augment the Commonwealth's inferior military.
This brings us to a significant different between the People's Commonwealth and the two feudal kingdoms of Malesiir and Limba. The People's Commonwealth is a republic. It harkens back to the Roman Republic with each city being ruled by elected officials, governors, that then vote on larger issues within the Commonwealth. But the country still belongs to the people. They are permitted to purchase land, vote, receive education, and move up in society. They are not bound by the social class they were born into. It is a way of life that challenges Princess Erianna's preconceived thoughts on government and social class.
The second geographic region in the Commonwealth is the Pinewoods. In describing the Pinewoods, my personal love of the environment colored Erianna's view. There is a park near my house where I go to sit quietly surrounded by mature pine trees. It quiets my mind and restores my equilibrium when the world is too loud. I attempted to capture that feeling in the Pinewoods of the Commonwealth. The Pinewoods also serves as a valuable resource for a country that is largely some variety of scrub or prairie.
Though the Midlands are not explored in Redemption's Pursuit, I can tell you that it is the agricultural breadbasket for the Commonwealth. Grain crops such as wheat, oats, corn, and barley are extensively cultivated. Because of the labor intensive nature of such crops, the Midlands are densely populated.
Lastly, the Hillcountry rolls across the southernmost portion of the Commonwealth in an endless expanse of lush green hills under an idyllic blue sky. The Hillcountry is far from the heart of the Commonwealth, occupied by isolated graziers and smallholding farmers. Within the greater Continent, it is untamed.