The World

Click here to learn about the characters.

sThe Orphan’s Code takes place in a rich, vibrant world based off of Renaissance Europe. It’s full of political intrigue, clashing cultures, and thousands of years of history.

Luckily we can ignore all of that because the entire story takes place in Bermeia, that little city down south.

That’s better.

THE CITY

Bermeia is the capital of Alronelin. It is accessible only by the water or via a single well-guarded bridge. The city is walled and full of soldiers who have free reign to be as harsh as they please. The stronghold, Stormbreaker Castle, is the main residence of King Romero Sangor.

Bermeia consists of three districts:

  • The Lower City: This part of the city contains the docks and warehouses of Bermeia. It’s where the poorest citizens live, and tends to be overcrowded and seedy. Several gangs currently fight for control of different areas.
  • The Upper City: This part of the city was built nearly a thousand years ago. It quickly ran out of room, so the people of the city started building upward. It now resembles an above-ground rabbit warren, or perhaps  a tangled pile of string. The very lowest levels don’t get much light and tend to collect a lot of wastewater and rubbish, so they’ve become home to taverns, gambling dens, brothels, and other sketchy establishments. At the very highest levels, close to the sunlight, are the wealthy merchants and other well-to-do citizens.
  • The Gardens: This street, overlooking the coast, is named for its beautiful gardens and parks. The nobles of Alronelin each have a manor here. The Gardens open onto the upper city right in front of the castle for direct access to the king.

Each district is separated from the others by a wall, with gates closely guarded by soldiers. Only those with explicit permission are allowed through the gates.

Bermeia is known as an Unconquerable City: a city built by the Conqueror so securely and with such thick high walls that no army has taken the city since the Conqueror ruled. To reach the castle, one must cross a long bridge and climb several long steep switchback paths, all the while exposed to archers. Stormbreaker Castle was originally the home of the Conqueror, and over a thousand years it has been rebuilt, remodeled, and added onto many times. But the Conqueror’s throne remains unchanged: a seat hewn from the raw stone of the cliffs, with a plunging drop to the sea at the king’s left side.

THE KING

Romero Sangor came to power amidst suspicious circumstances five or six years before our story begins. He is widely believed to be a bastard or a fosterling adopted into the royal family by the much-beloved king and queen. At the time, they had just lost the crown prince to a hunting accident, which left their son Rafael as their only living heir. Romero and Rafael grew up as brothers.

When Rafael was 17 and Romero 18, the king took ill and died. Rafael was crowned shortly afterward in a dual coronation and wedding with Serena Colline. Their marriage was quite scandalous, as Serena was from Savilla, which had a long and tense relationship with Alronelin, and wasn’t of royal blood. Though charming and kind, she was also outspoken and bold, leaving the conservative Alronelinian nobles unsure what to think of her. Serena and Rafael had a son in the second year of their marriage, and rumors spread across the Peninsula that as a half-Savillan, he would one day take the Savillan throne as well.

A year after the birth of his child, Rafael was assassinated by a member of the Gailgich Ruaine, a guild of spies and assassins believed to be under the control of the Courman crown. Romero took the throne as a regent for the prince until he came of age. But shortly afterward, both Serena and her son disappeared.

Romero’s first act as king was to go to war with Courma as vengeance for Rafael’s assassination. Within a few years he successfully conquered first Lyrma (a puppet state of Courma’s), then Courma. He married the Courman princesss, Marisa, to solidify his rule.

His next act was to banish the Divinae, religious leaders and healers who were rumored to have supernatural abilities, from Alronelin.

After Serena’s disappearance, Romero converted an empty space once used by the Divinae into an orphanage. He commanded that every child that might be parentless be placed in the orphanage’s care. The city guard followed this law so mercilessly that several children who did have parents were taken, and rumors claimed that they had to fight hard to get them back, especially the boys.

Over the first few years of his reign, Romero recruited aggressively for the army, abandoned many public works projects, and gave the city guard more recruits but little oversight. As a result, the citizens of the lower city fear the guards as much as they fear the gangs selling drugs and fighting for territory. Without the Divinae, and with female healers forbidden to practice, many have struggled to afford healing and medicine. The public bathhouses and toilets as well as the sewers in the lower city have fallen into disrepair, polluting the drinking water in the lower city. Homelessness and crime have become much more common. It’s rumored that the slave trade, long since abolished, is quietly returning to Bermeia’s harbor.

Romero is twenty-eight years old. The Sangor Heir is nowhere to be found. Things are looking dire, with no end in sight.