"Wood's Will Be Done."
In the eastern reaches of the Aldenard landmass, home to vast, dense woodlands and coursing rivers, lies the forest nation of Gridania. Nestled in the thick foliage of the sacred forest, the woodland city-state rules over the lands of the Black Shroud (as it is known by outsiders), or the Twelveswood (as it is known by those who live within the wood).
The cityscape is a mosaic of labyrinthine waterways and great wooden structures, so gracefully constructed they seem a part of the surrounding environment. Constructed almost entirely from timbers felled with the blessing of the area's elementals, Gridania has also gained fame for its waterwheels, which harness the power of rivers flowing into the Jadeite Flood and drive the city's industry.
The Gridanian emphasis on natural harmony has led to its preeminence among Eorzea's city-states in trades such as forestry, agriculture, carpentry, and leatherworking. Gridania is also home to the Wood Wailers, a militant band of polearm-wielding sentries charged with the protection of their homeland.
The favored goddess of the citizenry is Nophica, the Matron, but great faith is also placed in the wisdom of the Seedseers—young oracles who guide the nation based on the will of the forest's elementals.
The Black Shroud—the ancient forest close to the heart of Eorzea.
Beneath the boughs of its towering trees lies the woodland city-state of Gridania.
Once a sanctuary from the world beyond the Hedge, even the mighty elementals, eternal guardians of the forest, could not forestall the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era.
However, the goddess Nophica was never one to forsake Her children, and today She welcomes another brave soul...
one who may yet play a telling role in the tale of this great realm.
May the Matron take her into Her Bosom, that she may never want.
And in her heart sow serenity, purity, and sanctity.
The white lily upon Gridania's standard signifies mankind's first congress with the elementals, while the golden field represents the lands filled with the elementals' power. The entwined serpents originate with the ancient subterranean city of Gelmorra, and proclaim the goodwill and unity of Elezen and Hyur in raising Gridania.
Wood's Will Be Done
The rule of Gridania falls to the Seedseer Council, a body composed of chosen officials known as Hearers. These conjurers are able to commune with the elementals, and decide the course of the city-state through discussion and consensus. Around the time of the Calamity, however, Gridania's fate was so uncertain that Kan-E-Senna—the Elder Seedseer and head of the Council—assumed direct control. At present, she continues to preside over all affairs of state.
Nophica, tender of souls and goddess of good harvests, is the patron deity of Gridania. While She does not want for devotees in other lands, only in the Twelveswood does one find the curious belief that the elementals are sprung from Her essence. These beings are at once the force of the forest's vitality and its defenders, ever ready to purge invaders from amongst the trees. Their presence is felt most keenly in the everyday life of Gridanians, and many are the festivals and rituals performed in honor of the elementals.
The sounds of chopping and sawing can be heard in certain groves throughout the Black Shroud. Woodcutters fell timber only where directed, and act in accordance with plans drawn up by Hearers in negotiation with the elementals. Thus, loggers avoid divesting the forest of its natural bounty, and even go so far as to plant a seedling for every tree hewn down.
With the quantity and quality of timber in the forest, it is natural that Gridanians should take to working wood. Indeed, there is precious little they cannot fashion—from everyday goods to armaments to buildings and riverboats. The pride of Gridanian carpentry is the waterwheel, which has no peer in design or craftsmanship.
Over time, people have abandoned gathering the Twelveswood's bounty for the table in favor of cultivating crops. Orchards can be found in cleared thickets throughout the Shroud, and Gridania's citizens share large gardens within the city itself.
To ensure no man is too greedy in his take, hunters who pursue game in the woods must abide by the regulations of the Trappers' League. The League also works to combat poachers, whose actions risk upsetting the balance of the forest.
The artisans of Gridania use the finest hides and bones that hunters can provide, and craft works of such quality as to garner the admiration of the entire realm. They ensure that never will any part of an animal go to waste.
Gridanians know the blessings bestowed upon them by the elementals, and heed well their will. Behind this lies a fear of disturbing the peace of the Twelveswood, and being cast from the forest by enraged elementals—just as the Ixal once were. Yet, Gridanians have earned a reputation as stubborn amongst the other city-states of Eorzea, as they can be so unyielding in their commitment to the forest laws as to appear unadaptable and brittle.
The bounty of the Black Shroud graces the Gridanian table, from fruit to vegetables to the meat of forest game. Yet, there are a few who feel this fare lacks in flavor. As animal husbandry is forbidden—lest the creatures upset the wood's balance—dairy goods are few and far between. Instead, Gridanians drink Mun-Tuy tonic, a concoction brewed from beans of the same name. In fact, many products made of fermented Mun-Tuy are known as Gridanian delicacies the realm over.
"Oh, it's a lovely drink, absolutely brimming with nutrients and goodness." —Dametta of Hyrstmill on the properties of Mun-Tuy tonic.
Blood Between Men
In the latter 7th century of the Sixth Astral Era, the second migration of Hyur came upon Eorzea, forcing Elezen from their lands and into the Black Shroud. The elementals looked upon these settlers as intruders, and sought to purge their presence from amongst the trees. Surviving the elementals' existence, and knew not what attacked them. In time, they realized what had befallen their people, and sought respite from the merciless onslaught in the caverns deep beneath the forest. They escaped annihilation—but at the cost of many Elezen lives.
Though this conflict raged for decades, overtures towards peace had begun by around the year 740. Realizing they had a common goal in avoiding the elementals' hostile gaze, the Hyur and Elezen put aside their differences. The two war-weary races sealed a pact, that both might prosper beneath the Twelveswood. The fruit of their alliance was Gelmorra, a great subterranean city. For nearly three centuries, the Elezen and Hyuran labored to expand their home, burrowing between natural caves and shoring up the passages with walls of stone. In time, Gelmorra's intricate network of tunnels would come to put any antlings' nest to shame.
A New Nation
For a long while, the mages' attempts went unanswered. However, with perseverance came success. After fifty years of effort, they finally succeeded in relaying their wishes to the elementals. On the understanding that Gelmorrans would defend the forest, the elementals gave them permission to return to the light of day. As a blessing and proof of the accord, they bestowed a glowing light upon Jorin Lightheart, the Hyuran leader of the mages. Thus, the Gelmorrans abandoned the caves, and began building a home amidst the Jadeite Thick. They christened this new city Gridania.
The Return of the Ixal
Driven from the Black Shroud, the Ixal settled in Xelphatol along Abalathia's Spine. Few trees grow in this batten wasteland, and not nearly enough to build a new settlement. Yet this was not the least of their troubles: Ixali young born after the exile lacked pinion feathers, though none knew why. Unable to fly, the Ixal could no longer hunt as they once had. Their new lives, then, were characterized by scarcity and suffering.
The Autumn War
In the 1,468th year of the Sixth Astral Era, King Manfred of Ala Mhigo suddenly laid claim to the East Shroud. He raised a mighty army, and ordered it to cross the Velodyna River—true border of Gridania. In haste, Gridania sent its Wood Wailers and Gods' Quiver against the invaders. They met in the First Battle of Tinolqa, where Ala Mhigo triumphed over the defenders, and routed the Gridanianas to Five Hangs.