When I was asked to write a study on Mereaux, I nearly squealed like a little girl.

I love my country as much as the next man, but my love for its history knows no bounds. I can assure you that my study with be thorough and pure, even if it means acknowledging the stains on our history. We may be a proud people, but we are not without fault.

But I digress, an occasion that no doubt will be commonplace in my writings. This introduction is exactly that: an introduction. And yet I have failed to introduce any characters to you yet, dear reader, and for that I apologize.

I shall begin with our great capital, Ordus. Despite popular belief, Ordus is not the oldest city in Mereaux; the Valley had existed for decades before Ordus was settled. Ordus is, as I have mentioned, the capital of our beloved Mereaux, and as such houses our King Valerius. Ordus is the most wealthy and populated city and, in my opinion, can be rather a bully. Ordus doesn't bite hard…most of the time.

The second wealthiest city is Kentwood. Well known for its picturesque woodlands, Kentwood is a place frequented by nobles. Hmmm…perhaps "frequented" isn't the correct word. Try "nearly owns." Yes, much better. Kentwood can only be afforded by the wealthiest of nobles and profits greatly from their lavish spending. An enjoyable, if expensive, haven.

The next city is, admittedly, my favorite of them all. Oh my dear, grimy, crime-riddled Stratis! Your exploits and conquers make me blush yet I cannot help but be drawn to your sinister ways. This underbelly of the country is utterly despicable. Wealth is measured in blood and there is no shortage of the precious liquid. Mercenary camps smother the natural beauty of the land, and it is no surprise that the army of Mereaux is located here. Our army knows the value of lethal individuals and Stratis is eager to satiate the bloodlust that courses through its veins.

Following Stratis is the quaint town of Oli. It is a hub of trading, yet keeps a smaller portion of the revenue than one would expect. The city can aptly be deemed a "twixt" between the cities of Mereaux; it keeps the goods moving, yet claims none of it as its property. The people of the town are kind and quiet and the most well behaved of all the cities.

The oldest city, yet hardly the wealthiest, is the Valley. It is farming land and supplies food to most of Mereaux yet receives little money for the hard labor it endures. It is a hardy city though and has never fallen into financial debt. The Valley is still dotted with ancient structures from the old tribes. A place most rich in history.

And finally we end on the strange little town of Rainsmere. It is an artisan city and its crafts rival those produced by skilled craftsmen in Ordus. However, no one ventures into the gloomy city simply because it is just that: a gloomy city. I have never traveled to Rainsmere myself, but I can imagine it is not a welcoming one. The forest around it keeps most people out and I for one am not eager to stumble into the blighted city of Rainsmere.

In short, these are the characters that you will become intimately familiar with through the course of this book. There is love and betrayal and far too high taxes that will have you sobbing into these pages. And so I am honored to present to you the greatest study on the greatest country of Mereaux.

Author's Note: Yep. Just a little snippet of the world that is slowly taking shape in my brain. I have half of the first chapter finished and will hopefully have it all finished soon. Thanks!