Ralt is a small, quiet town in the frigid Northern regions of Planet Yamatai in the Star Prefecture where the air is dry, crisp, and bone-chilling and the ground is typically covered in a thick white blanket of snow.
Nestled within rolling fields of snow and ice lay a hamlet. The tiny sight was easily missed to an uninspecting eye deadened by the endless miles of white. If not for the thin wisps of smoke that arose from ice-crusted chimneys, or the occasional blinking of a lantern idling by a window, the houses composing the hamlet would be indistinguishable from the surrounding snowbanks.
The cruel weather of Northern Yamatai blanketed the hamlet in freezing temperatures for most of the year, and it was here where the people of Ralt eked out a living. The men and women of Ralt were hardy folk accustomed to trials of the cold. They hunted for food when the ground proved too hard to cultivate and tailored their clothes when a rip would allow cold air to touch skin. Roofs needed thatching every year, and the people devoted many hard hours during the spring preparing grass for the inevitable task. The sheer number of duties performed each year required every person of Ralt to be quite the workaholic.
The barren area surrounding Ralt offered no tangible trade goods, so the community was a poorer one by Yamatai standards. Each person found his or her role through a useful skill, one which could find use within the communal setting. A carpenter, for example, would spare his services creating furniture for the mechanic’s family in exchange for the repair of his disabled vehicle. The barter system on which Ralt operated left little room for the luxuries common to larger Yamatai cities.
Life was indeed difficult for the people of Ralt, but in this difficulty came an unmatched sense of pride and unity. For these people were more than just citizens of a nation; they were a family whose bonds were forged through generations of necessity. A Ralt-person’s love of his neighbor was as absolute as the yearly snow.
And this love also extended to every visitor who set foot in the hamlet, and it was this personable quality which made Ralt famous across Yamatai. A visitor could expect hot meals, a roof over the head and plenty of booze and laughter all night long.
“A warm impression stays in the heart for years” was a common Raltish saying.
Another important feature of Ralt was its strong sense of tradition. Isolation from the foreign influences of larger cities kept the hamlet poor… but also free from the desensitizing influence of technology. True, Ralt had its own share of modern-day utilities, but these were adapted to the simple lifestyle that each Raltean held dear.
Ralt was home to several festivals over the year, most involving celebrations of the seasons. What the average Raltean festival lacked in size it made up for in ebullience. A spectator of a Raltean festival could expect dazzling displays of imagination, ranging from the intellectual to the visceral, all sharing the fiery passion of the Raltean style.
The most famous of Ralt’s traditions was the annual Ice Festival. Held the same day every year, the Ice Festival marked the Raltish reverence for the cold which so dominated their lives.
On a small wooden stage constructed in the center of town, performers of all types would praise the winter with their arts. Although an outsider may be confused with the logic behind such a festival, to the Raltean, the winter was an extension of their identity. The Raltean knew his or her place in the grand scheme. To respect and understand this, to live in perfect harmony with the winter, was to be Raltean.
The Grand Dance of the Ice Festival, the one Tom Freeman was performing, is rumored to have been written during the birth of Ralt, many years ago. It is known that the writer was an old Nepleslian man who went by the name of Claude Roth. Accounts describing him are scarce, for, at the time, he stood out no more than the average man. However, he is commonly credited with having laid the foundation for Raltean culture.
The relentless, crushing weather held little mercy for the settlers. In those first few years, life itself was a precious commodity, and rare was the family that did not feel the touch of death sometime during that horrible period. It was as if the land itself had rejected the people of Ralt and worked ceaselessly to erase them.
Still, the people toiled on, despite the wind and cold that threatened to extinguish them.
How did they, mere specks on an infinite, white canvass, find the will to survive?
Many historians agree that it was Claude Roth that carried the people of Ralt on his back, gave them the hope that they so desperately needed. He was an aberration among the other settlers, a person whose specialty was song and dance rather than labor and craftsmanship.
But in a hamlet raised on misery, his art lifted the spirits of all who partook in it. He wrote and played songs to the delight of the townsfolk every night in the tiny hut that was the tavern back then. And, although he was far too old to dance with the youths, he would teach them all he knew. He always wore a smile too, and his joyous mood was infectious.
Through Claude Roth, the Ralteans learned the importance of friendship and how it could make the numbing pain of winter fade away. Slowly, they adapted to the weather and made the land their equal, and all this time Claude Roth wrote music and choreographed dance.
But even great men must someday pass on to whatever awaits beyond the mortal shroud. As the loved artist lay on his deathbed, surrounded by a town of mourners, he could only laugh.
“My friends, why all the sad faces?” he said. “It is I who should be sad. I feel like I owe you all so much, you who fed and sheltered a humble writer for the remainder of his years. Indeed, my only regret is that I cannot stay longer and continue paying my debt. Fortunately, I still had enough vigor to leave you with one more composition, one which I hope you all will find acceptable.”
“But, if you’ll allow a foolish old man such things, I have one request: for the sake of us all, never forget the happiness that we shared together and spread it to others. If our camaraderie… can guide us safely through this climate… imagine what it can do… to the hearts of men and women all over…”
And with that, Claude Roth, the man who saved Ralt, was gone.
On the table beside his bed laid a pamphlet, its title today known to every man, woman and child in Ralt.
The Grand Dance.
The Grand Dance was the most difficult performance piece to both play and perform in Ralt. Word of mouth said that Claude Roth had poured his own essence into the piece, so passionate was its writing. If the original script was allowed to be analyzed by experts in the field, no doubt they would come to the conclusion that The Grand Dance was among the most complex pieces of music ever written. Few in Ralt could play it, and few could dance to it.
There were fears that this year nobody would be able to perform the piece, as there were no dancers of adequate skill.
Some say those who complete The Grand Dance undergo a brief transcendent experience. Others say the severe exhaustion, combined with the cold, places the performer’s mind in a state of delirium.
Ralt can be reached by FCAR.
Ralteans use chestnuts or pecans in their cooking, as well as smoked rabbit and elk. Meat and cream are in almost every dish. Potato soup is very common. The hydroponic farms around Ralt also grow all sorts of stuff that never would survive in the hard tundra soil, let alone the frozen climate. The local soil is mineral rich and fertile.
Nekovalkyrja have been known to share rooms at the local inn, which has a bar. Some racism exists in Ralt. Men at the bar in YE 33 considered marrying a Nekovalkyrja unnatural and violently assaulted Tom Freeman over it.
Women of Ralt tend to ask a lot of questions. Wives perform some traditional duties in Ralt.
Some exports of Ralt are rabbit fur clothing and alcohol.
There is a combat move called a Ralt Suplex which is used by Luca Pavone.
They walked past several shops and a few houses in the night so dark, when Luca stopped in front of a two-story house. This particular house was made with red bricks and adorned with and a snow-covered roof. Snow-covered bushes and hedges dotted the area around the house. A driveway and the path leading to the front of the house had been recently shovelled out, as a thinner layer of snow covered it.
The Miharu House is 1.3 kilometers east of Ralt.
Tom Freeman has a house in Ralt.