Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
A land of chilly forests and frozen taiga, with the monotony unbroken except by sparse hills. The summer is short, with the temperature rarely exceeding 70 degrees, while winters are long and severe, in some places reaching temperatures as low as 90 degrees below zero.
The common folk of Théah look out across Ussura with pity and contempt. Her people are uneducated, their ruler a peasant, and their religion is backwards. The state religion, the Ussuran Orthodox Church, only follows the teachings of the First Prophet and combines it with the native Ussuran worship of Matushka. Matushka is said to appear as an ancient, matronly woman with iron teeth and nails. Children must be polite if they should encounter her, for she devours rude little boys and girls.
The country is ruled by the Gaius, Keeper of the Knias Council. It is believed that Matushka will not allow a Gaius to remain in power unless she approves of his actions. When the Gaius dies, Matushka is said to select the new ruler from among the muzhik (the peasants, the landowners are boyars), identifying her choice by turning the new Gaius’ hair pale white. The Knias Douma is a council of advisors (comprised of five representatives from boyar families) to the Gaius who usually hold the real power, since the Gaius almost always has no prior political experience.