The Seven Castles, also known as the Seitselin, are the primary fortified settlements of the wild region known as Zalissia. The name Zalissia literally means “the forest beyond” in Old Imperial, just as Seitselin is a corruption of the Middle Elvish phrase “the seven forts.”

Each of the Seven is technically the seat of a dukedom, and their rules are properly dukes and duchesses of the Empire. And, indeed, they can and often do request small detachments of Imperial troops for minor issues, and send elements of their own men-at-arms on those rare occasions when the Empire is at war. But in practice, each of the Seitselin is an independent fief, and they compete bitterly with one another for trade and the opening of further frontier lands.

The largest and best-fortified of the Seitselin, Jalav, might have become a proper dukedom already if not for the constant unrest among its populace and the bitter enmity between its rulers, the House of Luostari, and the Emperor. But even Annika Luostari herself is rarely referred to as a duchess, with most in her fief simply referring to her as Lady Annika. Every other ruler, save the famously pompous Duke Timant, is cut from the same folksy cloth.

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