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Old Apr 02, 2012, 05:32 PM   #3001
Thlayli
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Echoing Iggy's words. Hope to see you again.
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Old Apr 02, 2012, 06:56 PM   #3002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andis-1 View Post
well yeah, I've been trying to get around to writing orders for few weeks now, but I just can't get the inspiration going anymore. All in all, I think my NESing times are going to finally end, with this one being my last one. I must thank you NK for awesome story and the world you've created here, I've enjoyed every bit of it.

cheers.


Sad to see you go, you were always one of the good ones. Take care.
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 08:22 PM   #3003
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Re-claiming Opulensi
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good reads

Favorite Works of Fiction: Hyperion Cantos, ASOIF, Blood Meridian, Les Miserables, Ninety-Three

Favorite Works of Non-Fiction: Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848, A History of the United States Army, God's War, A History of Western Philosophy, The Apology
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Old Apr 03, 2012, 08:37 PM   #3004
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Oh, oh god.
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TerraNES2:
No Change Required

civilization scattered like so many embers waiting for a breeze
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Old Apr 04, 2012, 11:37 PM   #3005
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1. Sheon of Táelic u Nuín
2. Sheon of Táelic u Nuín: Beasts
3. Sheon of Táelic u Nuín: Awake
4. Sheon of Táelic u Nuín: Storyman

--

“Bólacú dóap góalu e tuiriog”
A long climb begins at the base.

--

Sheon had been pulled back from the main action. Not that he minded. Yet, he could have gone about it a different way:

During his watch duty, he had spent too much time focusing on his unpleasant meal. While grimacing over the ration, a small group of confident archers popped up from the wall and let off a small volley. Sheon failed to notice and failed to give a warning call. The annoying soldier who had brought Sheon his meal took an arrow to the back and had only given a gasp before succumbing. Sheon had a bit more luck on his side. An arrow slammed into the clay bowl, shattering it. The mash of maize and onion splashed everywhere, but the reason Sheon finally let out a yell was due to the same arrow having continued on its downward path and into his thigh. About a dozen arrows protruded out of the ground around him.

Hearing the yell, soldiers rushed to the scene. Sheon cursed at them as they at first shot unsuccessfully at the wall where the archers had already receded to cover. As they watched the wall, Sheon was moved back to the camp. It was decided that the arrow had only hit muscle and nothing important. It was pushed through.

With Sheon’s connections, it was decided he would be sent back to the city of Naran where it was hoped that his wound would heal.

--

Sheon rocked side-to-side with the movement of the wagon he rode. The camp was already a mere memory and out of sight. The empty supply wagon was conveniently returning to Naran, so no able bodied soldiers had to leave camp to help Sheon return. While uncomfortable, it was peaceful. The driver was mostly quiet. He had tried to start a conversation fairly early, but Sheon faked being asleep. The driver began quietly humming to himself, and Sheon was able to carefully sit up without being noticed. He felt the breeze slowly shift from the sea on his right to the cool air blowing out of the mountains on his left. It felt fine, at first.

The air became chilled. He thought for a bit of time, and realized he was used to the breezes off the mountains being slightly warmer. This perplexed him, but he tried to not think about it. The sun had gone down, there was only a red glow on the sea, and Sheon watched the sky. The Winter Veil was not visible. Brilliant Téoc sat low in the sky, lighting much of the dark road. Sheon wrapped his arms around himself and shivered as another strong breeze passed. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to ignore the cold.

He opened his eyes, looking around there was nothing but Téoc high above and ground below. The earth trembled slightly, Sheon stumbled slightly trying to stand, but the slow shaking made it very difficult. He strained to see anything else. Even Téoc seemed smaller or dimmer than he remembered. A noise caused him to spin around, nearly falling over due to the unstable ground. He squinted; he opened his eyes as wide as possible. Nothing came into view. Suddenly, a harsh sounding voice came from the dark.

“Fúar úil beáfúlos! Óm úil cáloc!”

Sheon leaned slightly towards the sound, but still saw nothing. Sheon didn’t understand this language. Something was wrong with it.

“Fúar úil!”

A clawed hand reached from the darkness. Sheon stumbled back, the ground shuddered below him. Stretching back from the hand, he could now see the beast. Gnarled teeth grinded slightly.

“Fúar úil! Óm úil cáloc!”

The beast lunged, but Sheon was nimble, he stepped back. He fell into a pit and let out a yelp of surprise. A stiff wind passed through the hole, and Sheon shivered.

“Get away! Kíern protects me, beast!” Sheon yelled at the creature. A snort behind him made Sheon jump. He ran through the walls of the pit and called out to Kíern a second time. However, a burning hand gripped his leg and drug him down in an instant. A breeze passed by again; chills.

In a haze, Sheon screamed as multiple beasts surrounded him. His vision blurred, Sheon was just able to make out four figures setting upon him before he blacked out.
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"It's called a never ending story for a reason. Each NES spawns a new universe that lives and breathes, and while we direct and observe while we can, when a NES dies the universe lives on." -Terrance888

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Old Apr 05, 2012, 09:29 AM   #3006
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Eeeesh. Been really busy. I should send a little snap shot of some ill-thought ideas and NK can go and cackle evilly. As is his wont.
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Old Apr 05, 2012, 04:20 PM   #3007
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I need my damn Diplo answered! Any of it.
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Old Apr 05, 2012, 08:04 PM   #3008
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Matt, you need to send orders. You're far too experienced not to be familiar with the concept of order contingencies based on what people (NPC or PC) do.

NK has mentioned that he is updating without you.

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Old Apr 07, 2012, 12:18 PM   #3009
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Revised
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Old Apr 11, 2012, 01:22 PM   #3010
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Claiming Brunn. Bite-sized package of orders to follow.

If you will have me, NK, of course.
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Old Apr 11, 2012, 05:16 PM   #3011
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Most definitely.
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Old Apr 12, 2012, 08:54 AM   #3012
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Nice things typed about my people. Due to be expanded on the numerous rites of passages practiced on Leli'i Pok.

http://endofempires.wiki-site.com/index.php/Ilfolk
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The car's on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel. And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides, and a dark wind blows. The government is corrupt, and we're on so many drugs with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death. The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering, and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles. It went like this: The buildings tumbled in on themselves. Mothers clutching babies, picked through the rubble and pulled out their hair. The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards. Everything washed in a thin orange haze. I said; "Kiss me, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days." You grabbed my hand and we fell into it, like a daydream or a fever. We woke up one morning and fell a little further down, for sure it's the valley of death. I open up my wallet and it's full of blood.
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Old Apr 12, 2012, 10:21 AM   #3013
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Also, I needed to double post as I wanted this to be put into the light: Ilfolk singing the melody Kavraka (Which means love) while being high on soul-eaters, presenting a powerful, untightly played, but emotionally violent melody.

The recording is very noisy as I don't have any recording gear beside my com's built-in mic, but I still think it's a nice melody.

Hereyago NK.
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The car's on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel. And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides, and a dark wind blows. The government is corrupt, and we're on so many drugs with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death. The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering, and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles. It went like this: The buildings tumbled in on themselves. Mothers clutching babies, picked through the rubble and pulled out their hair. The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards. Everything washed in a thin orange haze. I said; "Kiss me, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days." You grabbed my hand and we fell into it, like a daydream or a fever. We woke up one morning and fell a little further down, for sure it's the valley of death. I open up my wallet and it's full of blood.
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Old Apr 13, 2012, 12:37 AM   #3014
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The Redeemers Speak

"The battlefield is the mind. Men have not lost until they believe they have lost."

-Arastephas the Redeemer

"If you must destroy the world, build a greater one on the ashes."

-Atraxes the Silver

"No flame burns brighter than a pyre."

-Xetares the Proud

"War is a journey, a transition. A journey is beautiful, but the end is more beautiful still."

-Hashaskor the Unchosen

"The body makes a certain sound when it dies. So does an empire."

-Petraxes the Wind-Lord

"On the battlefield there is no family, no caste, no tribe. Only brothers and demons."

-Jahan

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Old Apr 17, 2012, 09:48 AM   #3015
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Language: The main language spoken by the Rihnit is Ojakoka and is a member of the Agiban Language Family.

Extended Details
Spoiler:
Ojakoka is phonetic and includes 20 letters in it’s alphabet(*1)(*2). Something that’s critical to note is the importance placed on past, present, and future tenses. This is because the sentence entire structure will change based on when something occurred or was present.

1* Ojaboba is the written form of Ojakoka.
2* The letters present in both Ojaboba and Ojakoka are... A, B, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, Q, R, S, T, U, V, Y.
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Old Apr 18, 2012, 08:36 PM   #3016
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Important information on Leunan politics which Matt would like me to share on his behalf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt0088
It’d be nice to get some concrete thoughts from myself down about the political structure of Leun.

The Emperor is the ruling monarch of the Empire which is named after him. His power base comes from his nominal leadership of the Leunan military, and the natural allegiance the position commands, not to mention his many extensive personal estate in Leun proper. In the face of ever more wealthy merchants, the Emperor now has far less control over the running of the Empire, often living a sheltered life within Leun pursuing more noble interests, especially since the introduction of Aitahism.

The Council is the real controlling body of Leun. Membership consists of the wealthiest merchants, and is rather fluid, depending on if the repute of a merchant’s wealth is deemed extensive and influential enough to be worth listening too. Membership is always under fifty, and sometimes can be in the teens. An organ of debate, all policy is decided by a vote, although significant wheeling and dealing is needed to accomplish much of anything. The council nominally acts in the name the Emperor, and continues to act in the best interests of Leun so that they may continue to enjoy their unique position of power which the existence of Leun grants them. Corruption is an issue, although given the numerous competing (monetary) interests in the Council, blatant collusion and/or power grabbing usual faces an opposing majority and is resolved by compromise or the occasional trade war. Given the rule of the merchant class, tariffs are understandably low, but they do exist to maintain the military and vital organs of Leun, so that the favorable trade environment may continue to exist.

Lesser Merchants exist, and given the enterprising nature of the Opulensi culture out of which Leun was partially created, a (urban) Leunan can buy ship given the right circumstances, and if lucky, go on to become a rising merchant if they play the fluctuations of the trade routes and markets route. They have little power if excluded from the Council, and generally pay higher tariffs. Given the renewal of new merchants, and the general opposition to collusion, the small merchant still constitutes the majority of the Leunan merchant entity.

The Bureaucracy kinda sucks beyond Leun proper. There isn’t any particular allegiance to the Emperor or the Council, unless one or the other is particularly popular/charismatic. Rather, the like getting paid, and often, if they work on the frontier, acquiring a decent chunk of land. Merit, bribes, and/or special favor all work equally well to advance towards the lucrative positions in Leun proper. A decent chunk of the bureaucracy is part of actual is a merchant, although often a highly positioned bureaucrat becomes a merchant second, not the other way around.

Nobles exist given the monarchy, and many are actually distant relatives of one of the ruling dynasties of Leun (we’re on the fourth dynasty no?). Given the pre-dominance of the merchants, nobles play a lesser rule, but they do dominate the rurals areas of Leun, which means that while the merchants control the wealth of Leun, the noble control a majority of the peoples which call themselves Leunans. Oftentime, a Noble is a merchant or vise-versa, as land is generally cheap outside the radius of the few major cities. Their powerbase is in the gray area between Leun and Asardias, and all of Auona currently, although Council funded expansion towards the South has undermined this recently. Nobles do constitute a significant portion of the Leunan generalship, but without the support of a merchant empire to back them up, can’t come up with the funds to support much of an army, hence the relative lack of noble-noble conflicts in Leun. When some Merchant/Noble in the army get angry however, things can get hairy, as happened during the North/South civil war.

Peasants get shat on all the time, like everywhere else. The only way up the social ladder is to enter the bureaucracy and (eventually) become a merchant, become a colonist for the land, enter the (skeletal) religious structure (of Leun), or get noticed for outstanding talent in the military, the navy particularly. Patronage is general scene as a waste of good funds, so it sucks for all those future Leunan artists.

Natives actually matter, especially around Itaea and to the south in Auona, where they are a significant force. After its founding, Itaea was originally composed, significantly, of surrounding natives, and contribute to that cities unique flavor within the Empire, and may indeed be the most culturally prolific. In Auona, natives are respected for the power they represent on, but are generally looked upon with condescension, since Leunan has long been dominated by the aforementioned merchant ventures and immigrants.

The Army:

Use to consist of militias or mercenaries, but since the overhaul of the Leunan military structure about 120 years ago by Emperor Saras the First and the larger population base of Leun, the standing army of Leun consists of professionals recruited from within the Empire, trained and paid, and led by an Office Corps based on the Opulensi Daharai. That is, promotion is achieved through merit, and Cavalry was favored. That was 120 years ago however, and for the sake of cost-keeping, the old Cavalry has been downsized and de-emphasized. Since the army generally just garrisons the cities and serves as auxillary marines for the navy, the need for Cavalry hasn’t really been there. Since the operation of the Office Corps is very similar to that of the navy, it’s function hasn’t degraded too much, although the complete inexperience of the entire army does much to render it very mediocore.

The Navy:

Quite simply the most respected institution throughout Leun and the pride of the Empire among those of power and the general population. Why? The navy draws its recruits from the common merchant and ports of the Empire, avoiding the influence of the Nobles. Secondly, for fear of retribution, the Merchants traditionally have approached the Navy with a hands off approach, at least in principal. I mean, why fix what has for centuries consistently enabled the unhindered flow of trade through Leun. For the peasants, entering the Navy is often sought after for the adventure (lol), or merely to advance in society (get noticed, go to the Academy!), and the main function of the Navy is normally to protect all Leunan ships, not just the merchant traders, and given the significant flow of migrants throughout the Empire, this has endeared the Navy to many. All naval officers come from the old naval academy in Leun, or from ex-Opulensi immigrants, and seeing as the Navy was (initially) patterned identically on that of the Opulensi’s; actual talent will carry you far. The navy holds it allegiance to the Emperor, whose duty it is to personally commemorate each class which flows through said academy, although the higher ups of the naval establish know where the power and wealth is really at (the Council). A naval captain remains one for most of his adult life, and the pay is accordingly significant (although retiring and becoming a merchant captain or a merchant yourself is a pretty good end deal). While admirals use to be bribed fairly regularly, the advent of the Council rids the need of actually needing money to control the Navy. Given the fleet and port of call based doctrine of the Navy (i.e. wolf packs forever, no lone wolfs plz), it’s rather hard for any individual merchant to send a squadron on a personal errand, never mind the negative reaction of the Council will have.


Economic Structure of Leun

Notable Trade Goods of Leun: Salt (Medium), Indigo (Growing), Cotton (Major), Timber (Medium), Fish(Medium), Precious (???)

Knowing how the financial system of Leun works would be interesting. To be completely honest I have no clue how ancient economies functioned on a monetary level. Hell, I barely understand mercantilism. I’ve always imagined that the “banks” of Leun were merely extensions of merchant business, or of merchants turned bankers, who generally only loaned money back into the trade business.
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 06:45 PM   #3017
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End of Empires - Update Sixteen
Fortune's Flight

Ten Years
520 - 530 SR by the Seshweay Calendar
409 - 419 RM by the Satar Calendar
235 - 245 IL by the Leunan Calendar




She agethed. She ageth not. – Memories IV, V

No one is simply given the mantle of rulership. Great men see a void in their country's heart, and they seize it. – Diadem Reforged, Vol Juluii

"Beginning there were many gods, and none.
And in the end, there shall be only one." – Introduction, Kaphai

Fie upon you, for you deny the humanity of your brother. And the darkest of acts are present in all of us, the lowest of deeds but a reflection of your very humanity... – From the Sayings of the Prophet Kleo


Moonsong hung in the open air, beams of light twisting through the dark like old memories. The philosopher king stood in his tower, a white robe fallen by his feet. The city lay silent below him, its lights almost all extinguished at his command. The chill of the desert night rippled against his skin, but he noticed it not. He stared, entranced, at the orb of the moon smiling in the sky.

That globe had excited the minds of men for a thousand generations. Coolly pale at times, a sulfurous yellow at others, and sometimes streaked with jet black. The moon had a thousand faces, and it changed with the faces of the men who watched it, growing older over the centuries. Only recently had his ancestors begun to study it in earnest, and yet a thousand generations of gazing and a dozen generations of study still left so much unanswered. That world still kept secrets from them.

The sound of some nocturnal creature's flight broke his reverie. A bat, likely, accustomed to the tower of the Red Observatory, knowing the presence of men would bring insects. He frowned ever so slightly, and looked down at the book in his hand. The image of the moon took an age to fade from his sight; only then could he begin to read.

“Of old the men of the earth told a thousand stories about the moon that wandered above them. That it drew a veil over its face to mourn the passing of its sister. That its gold was a harbinger of war and its silver was a portent of prosperity. That blood magic could only be performed when the moon was dead or newborn, else the gaze of the light would find it. That a king born under darkness would one day rule the world.

“Such stories are beyond our concern. Perhaps Aresha does hold sway over the concerns of men even as it holds court in the heavens, but I study this object with my eyes, not with the memories of myth.

“Observe, then, that it has discernible features. The great arcs of a thousand thousand craters, many too small to be seen by the naked eye, lay on top one another like footprints on a busy muddy path. A crevasse reaches across its face, some heavenly canyon that we can see with our own eyes – and so must be absurdly great in size... Ah, would that we could see it more clearly! The dark that swells and surges across it might perhaps be the smoke from some gargantuan inferno, the gold that dusts it the gilding of some mysterious artifice...”

He looked up again. A hint of yellow traced its lower rim. A sign of the lingering war in the north? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was simply a whim of the gods...

* * * * * * * * *

A silent winter fell on the River Rhon. Icebound, the two armies, Satar and Evyni, gathered in their respective encampments. Neither the Evyni nor the Vithana were strangers to cold; both waited for the thaw. The Satar and Accans fared less well; both had known winter, but never one this deep or this long. Years hence, their songs would tell of horses frozen where they stood, and men huddled around fires in the night, waiting for a distant spring.

And yet, as all winters have a habit of doing, this one, too, ended. Meltwater turned the northern woods into sludge. Banks of snow shone wetly in the sun, retreating to reveal twigs, stones, and the rotting leaves of last year's autumn. Fallen branches from snow-covered pines faded from green to yellow, scattering their needles on the fresh-muddied ground. Into this, the Lawgiver advanced.

Isathmæyer was no fool; he knew the Satar armies had already scored what might well prove a killing blow. But there remained a chance to turn the tide. Unlike the Avaimi heartland, the lands of the Ming had scarcely been touched by the war. Already, the Karapeshai had sent numerous envoys to the western quem, urging them to abandon what looked like a failed enterprise and join the Satar in victory. Such offers had mostly fallen on deaf ears – the invasion still looked too much like a glorified raid to encourage outright rebellion.

The Thorsrdyn charged the quem of Shu, Zys, with the task of gathering forces from the Ming lands and joining him on the Rhon to mount a final attack on the invading Satar. Zys was able to raise an impossibly tremendous force – some two hundred thousand in number – that rapidly drained the coffers of the exhausted Evyni state simply to arm and feed. All the same, Zys' armies could surely match the Satar simply by throwing enough men at them.

Or they would have, had they ever reached the Rhon.

But even before that fateful disaster, the news out of the east looked more bleak by the day. The Karapeshai had remained almost friendless for much of its brief history – the old Ardavai Exatai had made no friends, and most expected the new one to continue the general policy of attacking most of its neighbors at one point or another. But after the fall of the Ardavai, it was the Aitahists who had begun to throw their weight around the Lovi Sea and aggravating rivalries that had long lay dormant. The conversion of Tarena and the threat of encirclement had driven the Orthodox Maninist Gallassenes into the arms of the Satar, and soon thereafter, the Cyvekt as well.

Acting in concert, the three nations converged on the eastern provinces of the Evyni Empire. Cyvekt raiders followed in the footsteps of their missionaries, taking the city of Taloré with relative ease, and much of the northern coast of the Empire soon after. Gallassene forces seized Adua, and supported a naval effort by the Accan Arto Rutarri (freshly returned from a power play in Acca proper) that captured Sohai and encouraged the long quiescent Maninist Taudo into rebellion.

The Gallassenes and Cyvekt were soon distracted by new developments in the east, but the slack was taken up by the Luskan, who saw an easy opening to join the feast. Rutarri's fleet continued down the coast, taking Cândyr from a skeletal garrison, and threatening to take the whole of the Iom valley from the Evyni.

The Lawgiver still had some seventy thousand under his command, but it was a battered and demoralized army that now faced an elite core of Satar forces, veterans of half a dozen vicious campaigns. Gathering what support he could, he struck towards the Satar lines at Allusille, hoping to break the siege and gain a signature victory over his foes. Jahan, for his part, united his forces in the east, and struck like a thunderbolt, pinning the Evyni against the River Rhon. The situation had grown dire for the Lawgiver, but the Evyni lord worried not, for the Satar seemed unaware of the Ming hammerblow that threatened their rear.

So commenced the Battle of Allusille.

Having the river at their backs had some advantages for the Evyni – they had no need to worry about the Satar mounting a classic outflanking maneuver on them. Instead, they formed a great arc, amassing their famously disciplined infantry in ranks, awaiting the Satar attacks, and pulling up their cavalry in the center to reinforce any part of the line that might collapse. Isathmæyer had told his quem that they merely needed to hold on long enough to allow the killing blow to fall from the north, and they exhorted their men to stand fast above all else.

Jahan contemplated his options. The Evyni could scarcely hope to hold out forever, but if rumors of trouble in the south were true, the Satar had many battles yet to fight. Above all else, he needed to conserve his forces.

Thus, the first flicker of fighting was a little flirtation, the smallest of skirmishes by the veteran Vithana cavalry, prodding at the line, searching for a weak point. Arrows flew from either side, but few enough fell to make any difference. More active probes sallied forth, forcing the Evyni into compact formations that they could loose a storm of arrows. The Evyni held firm nonetheless.

And yet, as the day wore on, both Isathmæyer and his captains surely wondered at the empty horizon to the north.

The Ming had indeed sallied forth from their old lands, and the army of some two hundred thousand lay almost within striking distance. But after a long examination, Zys decided that he owed little to the Lawgiver and less to the Redeemer. The Ming harbored no ancient animosity towards either people, but the conscripts didn't object to staying out of the battle. Zys now declared himself the new Emperor of the Einan, turned the army around, and seized the old cities of Shu and Liang. In a tremendous stroke of fortune for the Satar, the Evyni were divided in two.

By the evening, as the sky began to pale into darkness, Isathmæyer still knew not of his quem's betrayal. But the fight had grown more and more difficult to continue. Weak points in the Evyni lines had to be shored up repeatedly, and his reserves began to run low. The Satar attacks continued unabated, the Ming did not arrive, and soon it seemed that death would arrive for the old empire in the marshes of that riverbank, underneath the glow of an orange setting sun.

And soon it became painfully obvious even to the most optimistic of the quem that no one would come to save the day. The Empire's finest had been thrown into an impossible situation.

But the Lawgiver despaired only for a moment. A strange sort of determination sets into a man when he realizes that he cannot avoid his death any longer, and it was exactly this that spurred Isathmæyer into action. Rallying his best men, he scanned the battlefield for the great banner of the Vaxalai, the Redeemer Jahan. Finding it quickly, he ordered an all-out charge. If he was to die, then at least he would not die without purpose. He would bring down the man responsible for the destruction of his beloved Anyais with him.

The Evyni offensive took the Satar by surprise; a wedge of northern cavalry and rank upon rank of the imperial infantry cut through the center of the Satar army, scything down the Satar who stood between the Lawgiver and the Redeemer. Jahan saw what was happening even as it unfolded, but he did not panic, instead drawing up a corps of old guard Satar cataphracts around him. Two bodies of Accan pikes advanced on either flank, hoping to pin the Evyni between them, while he personally directed a charge directly into the Evyni host.

Jahan, of course, walked a delicate balance – he could not appear cowardly, but he knew that aside from the ongoing pressures of the war, he was one of the few things holding the Exatai together. Thus, he tried to avoid the thickest of the fighting, but all too soon, his men faced those of the Lawgiver himself.

Later, some great Lay of Satar devising would no doubt say the two came face to face in the heat of battle, but it is more likely that the Lawgiver was struck down before he ever came close to touching Jahan himself. The experience of the Satar cavalry was simply too great, and the spearhead that the Evyni had placed in the heart of the Karapeshai army fell to pieces as the Satar cut it from the body of the Evyni host. Isathmæyer fell, and the Evyni quem made desperate attempts to break free of the Satar ring, some successful – cutting their way free and wandering either north or southwest, some not so much – falling in the fields, groves, and riverbanks.

Isathmæyer had inflicted no more than a few arrow and sword wounds on the Vaxalai for all his trouble. Only two days after the bulk of the fighting, however, Jahan caught a fever from his wounds, and lay moribund.

Thus the Satar offensive stalled temporarily. The army encamped around Allsuille, waiting for the great city to exhaust its supplies and surrender, not wanting to waste soldiers in an assault that was mostly a formality. The siege became almost an afterthought as Satar and Vithana alike looked to the succession, for it had become clear that Jahan's time in this realm was nearing its end.

Much of the negotiation took place behind closed doors (or rather, in quiet forests far from the encampment). It soon became clear that the old Satar fell mostly in the camp of Avetas, Prince of the Scroll. His main foe Elikas' support from the Censoratta, of course, had recently been decapitated by the Accan incident, but the allegiance of the Vithana (and, of course, a few of the Satar princedoms) remained in question until the very moment of Jahan's death. The potentially explosive situation was defused by both groups expressing support for Avetas; Elikas graciously submitted along with the other Princes in a ceremony within sight of the walls of the Evyni center.

Perhaps, of course, the hasty capitulation of the other Princes to Avetas was motivated by more than pure partisanship – for riders from the south had brought more troubling news. The War of the Three Gods would continue.

* * * * * * * * *

Strong leadership had prodded the old guard of the Dulama Empire into rebellion. And now, ironically enough, weak leadership fostered that rebellion through its first few years.

After decades of reforms and repressive government measures, the Emperor seemed indecisive for the first time – and at the worst time. The relatively small rebellion of nobility – centered around the symbolic old capital of Dula – had almost free reign in the plateau, with the Imperial army kept on the frontier with the Hai Vithana, or near Mora, or garrisoning the new conquests of Sechm. Eagerly taking this advantage, they surged forward, taking Anraugh and Tara within a year. Gaining confidence and numbers as Imperial generals defected, they soon had the strength to march on Tiagho, one of the most prominent cities in the Empire, and for the first time met an Imperial army.

For hundreds of years, the center of the Empire had seen no fighting. Now, with little prelude, two gigantic armies of Dulama soldiers, numbering in the tends of thousands, clashed. At first, neither could make much headway – for all intents and purposes, the rebels and the Imperials had the same training, equipment, leadership, and even numbers. After a few hours of intense combat, the rebel troops finally managed a lucky breakthrough on the left wing, and the Imperial soldiers pulled back across the Taidhe – Tiagho and Muyan fell into enemy hands.

By now, the strength of the rebellion had reached a point which truly threatened the security of the Empire as a whole. The Emperor could no longer ignore it – he began to reshuffled armies to the middle of the country to deal with it. Of course, it had already become difficult to imagine suppressing the rebellion without a long campaign.

But all that would have to wait.

Meanwhile, with the civil war in the Hai Vithana khaganate finally coming to a close, the country entered into a relatively prosperous and peaceful time, especially compared to the peoples around them. Intellectuals, artisans, and merchants fleeing the chaos of the Dulama rebellion began to settle in Amhatr or Eshirath in surprising numbers, triggering something of a cultural and economic flowering there. Foreign wares from as far as the mysterious kingdoms of the far west mingled in the bazaars of the desert kingdom, while everything from Faron plays to Dulama epic poetry to Vischa musicians could be had in the oasis towns.

Some of this disseminated into the easternmost cities of the Vischa Empire, but the khagan of that land was far more preoccupied with his ongoing war against the strange Adanai in the far west. The distances involved proved so tremendous that he could never really commit his whole army to the fight; word had it that the Adanai lands sustained far fewer riders, but they lay so far from his that endless border raids seemed more likely than a lasting peace.

Comparatively, the other two wars of note in the west seemed to be drawing towards a close.

Naran's quick invasion of Limach had already ended, more or less – the armies of the latter country had folded almost from the start, and the siege of the city of Limach could only end one way, given the unlikelihood of intervention. Indeed, late in the war, their other neighbor, Ther, decided it had better join in the spoils one way or another, and so launched an invasion of their own, taking nearly half of the lands of the unfortunate Limach. All that remained was to sort out the boundary between the new neighbors.

Explorations to the far west, on the other hand, met with the Unnahanue quietly but firmly insisting that visitors from Naran not continue – the routes to the west, they noted, stretched far towards the sunset, and they would not like to be blamed for any sort of mishaps that such voyagers might encounter. Individual travelers returned to Naran after serving on crews of Unnahanue vessels, however, and exclaimed with wonder at a thousand new sights: the desert of a hundred ruined cities, the mountains at the end of the world, an island of thirty thousand waterfalls where elephants grew as small as pigs and sloths as large as buffalo, and a distant lord calling himself Vashalai, painted half-gold.

To the south, the Trahana war against Dehr had stalled in the face of heavier than expected opposition, with the overstretched Trahana armies grinding to a halt. The situation continued for a few months while both sides gathered their strength, seemingly girding themselves up for a huge clash of armies. However, before the Dehr could make their move, the Trahana revealed a secret weapon – their allies by marriage in the Haina.

A people of the sea, the Haina launched well-planned and executed amphibious attacks on the coast of Dehr. These not being cities close to the borderlands, they had only skeletal garrisons: Haina armies secured all three without too much difficulty – though by extension their loss did not hurt Dehr as much as the allied armies might have liked.

Nonetheless, the Haina had turned the enemy's flank, taking them rather by surprise. In the confusion, Dehr forces started to pull back to defend their heartland, leaving an opening for the Trahana armies as well, who managed to seize Moiran after a quick but difficult siege. In short order, the situation looked anything but bright for the upstart northern nation, and the king of Dehr sent emissaries to the allies, suing for some kind of peace.

Haina concerns ranged further afield than this petty provincial war, however. The king ordered a new currency to be minted, standardized and fashioned out of four different metals, one for each denomination. The simplicity and purity of the coins made them quite popular across the Airendhe with rapidity, and soon they became a common sight in Dulama and Haina ports alike.

Explorations to the southeast also bore fruit, after a fashion: Haina voyagers at long last found themselves in the ports of a strange kingdom that called itself “Suran.” Loading their hulls with exotic wares and returning home, they eagerly began to chart out the route through the channels, though difficult currents and storms somewhat slowed this effort.

* * * * * * * * *

Though the rest of the north had been plunged into war between the Aitahists and their neighbors, the Stettin states had no such concerns. Tarena might have converted to the new faith, but the Gallatenes had their focus fixed on one another. Even had Tarena looked east, their ability to support an army deep in the vales of the Stettin would be doubtful. The Savirai and Cyvekt lay even further away. For all intents and purposes, the Stettin had a world to themselves.

Of course, no one is ever quite content to share a world. King Stoddr of the northeastern land of Brunn brought the time of quiet to a crashing end, marching an army to the border of his neighbor Wer and offering the aristocracy of that land a chance to swear vassalage to him peacefully. As the Werekt nobility wavered, he seized the opportunity and marched on the city of Wer itself, hoping to topple the king and take the kingdom before anyone could react.

Of course, he had given Wer some time to react, and the Werekt King Halend managed to raise several thousand new levies from the nobility who remained loyal, gathering them in his capital. This new army almost matched the Brunekt in numbers, though its hasty creation left something to be desired in the discipline of the soldiers. Halend took up a strong defensive position on the east bank of a small river and waited for the Brunekt.

Stoddr had expected massive numerical superiority, but pressed on regardless. Attacking before the sunrise, the Brunekt stormed across the narrow stream and charged up the steep opposing side of the ravine, hoping for total chaos among their foes. Alas, Halend had readied his men for just such an eventuality, and the Brunekt attack met with a hail of arrows and a screaming mass of pikemen.

Even as the tide of battle seemed to turn, Stoddr's son and heir led his cavalry by a winding path through the dark woods that lay to the south, attacking around the right flank and taking the inexperienced soldiers on that side completely by surprise, routing that wing of the Werekt army. Before midday, Halend's forces fell back in disarray, the king trying and failing to rally them in the face of harassment by the enemy cavalry.

The town of Wer, nestled in this almost untouched corner of the world, had long since ceased to attract more than the very occasional raid. It had outgrown the old, moss-painted wooden walls that had once guarded it; Stoddr's army found it an easy target. At the orders of the King, who wished to rule this land rather than destroy it, the sack was a mostly restrained affair, leading only to a few hundred deaths and a little enslavement. The Brunekt stripped bare Halend's relatively minor palace, and took a few of his daughters captive; they were married to leading heroes in the invading army.

With that, it seemed like Wer had all but collapsed. Halend had fled to the eastern hills, where, rumor had it, he tried to gather another army to reclaim his kingdom. But the rest of the country had little incentive to resist; Stoddr treated the aristocracy who defected with much respect. Soon, only a few outlying regions remained outside of his control.

All the while, the city of Brunn itself became a center of trade and industry, as the king sponsored the development of several artisan and merchant guilds. Their reach, of course, could not match that of the traditional mercantile powers in the north, but they certainly had a leg up on their Stettin competition. A time of prosperity and riches, a golden age for the small kingdom, seemed quite possible.

However...

Rumors alighted out of the west. The largest of the Stettin kingdoms, Seehlt, no longer had to worry about Tarena – and its nobility clamored for some sort of conquest to sate their appetite for battle. Though Seehlt had few friends in the north, its armies could not be underestimated – and indeed, they quickly overran the tiny princedom of Anschau that lay between them and Brunn. A war could be disastrous for Stoddr's prospective reign...
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 06:46 PM   #3018
North King
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* * * * * * * * *

A decade ago, the climactic battle of Karhat had seemed like the defining battle of the era, bringing long Satar domination of the Sesh to an abrupt end. At long last, the Moti drove their main rival from the valley, securing their continental empire in all directions. With the last remnants of the Satar hidden behind the Tashal and Kotir, it stood to reason to think that the War of the Three Gods would simply peter out.

But the Uggor, it seems, had a long memory. The last time they had expelled an Exatai from the Sesh, a new Redeemer had returned, cementing two more centuries of Satar rule. Fourth-Frei would not make the same mistake as his ancestors – he would continue the war.

The wide open spaces of the Karapeshai had defended them as well as any wall in the immediate aftermath of Karhat. Attacks into the Tashal and against Arastephaion had met with quiet logistical failure, and any expedition of the anti-Satar alliance would need to surmount these problems to make any real headway. For that reason, the commanders of the Carohan military decided to play to their strengths, proposing a largely amphibious campaign to their Motian allies, who accepted it with some modifications.

The less ambitious of the two prongs would be under the command of the rising Cow Family chief Twelfth-Frono, a relatively simple march along the coastline to attack the Satar garrison city of Onesca, supported from the seaside by their Aitahist friends.

Meanwhile, another expedition, an almost incredible eighty thousand in number, with a hundred and fifty vessels as an escort, was planned to strike directly at the city of Acca, regarded as the heart of the Exatai and a potential base for operations further north. This, under the joint command of the successful Helsian general Folonui Aramsafaya and an Aitahist admiral by the name of Pa'esh, needed some time to assemble – the hulls of over a hundred new warships were laid down in preparation, while the allied armies gathered in the Delta.

Before the campaign began, the Aitahists busied themselves throughout the Kern Sea, dispatching envoys and sending enormous subsidies to their allies in Tarena. Soon, Aitahist agents had even penetrated into Cyve, attempting to foment a rebellion there against the new Satar ally. Unfortunately for their spies, support on the ground for revolt against a highly successful wartime monarch proved limited at best – especially when much of the elite in Cyve had already put to sea to participate in the Evyni campaign. Without any concrete Aitahist military support, the movement failed utterly.

What it did do, as we have seen, was to push the Gallassans into the arms of the Satar – and worse still, to bring the Bhari Rosh into the circles of the League, both setting aside their differences in fear of the Aitahist threat. Their combined power would hand the Tarenans a series of reverses on land, and freed up the Gallassene fleet for combat in the Kern Sea – something that had already cost the Evyni dearly.

But by the time of the Accan Expedition, none of this seemed to matter. The Gallasene fleet had barely seen action in the past few decades, and indeed had failed miserably against the Aitahists in the last decade, while the Karapeshai navy sounded like an oxymoron. Even on land, the forces involved slightly outnumbered the armies under the direct command of the Redeemer Jahan.

Twelfth-Frono set out first, an army of nearly 60,000 behind him. Their march up the coast of the Kotir, scattered with the ruins of ancient cities and broken monuments saw action almost immediately, meeting Satar raiders as soon as they left the well-fortified Delta. The Moti had more than enough cavalry to ward off any real threat the raiders posed to their army, but had difficulty pinning them down as well – they could simply vanish into the Desert when the tide turned. As a result, supplies had to be funneled almost entirely through the ocean, and though this initially posed no problem, the march itself became an arduous, rather painful process.

At the same time, the monumental Accan Expedition set sail in the late spring of 525 SR, proceeding first to Mahid and then to the captured city of Aldina before striking out across the ocean to Acca.

Such an undertaking could hardly be kept secret. The Satar knew before the allies had set forth on the last leg of their journey, and sent word to Arto Rutarri near Cândyr of the impending attack. Arto set sail at once, his entire fleet in tow; so, too, came the fleet at Onesca under the command of a young Teto Etteru, aside from a few raiding ships left to strain the supply lines of the Uggor army even further.

Skilled in seamanship, the Seshweay made good time across the Kern, collecting themselves in the bays east of Alma before continuing onto the heavily guarded city of Acca itself. Unbeknownst to them, however, the allied Satar and Maninist fleet had assembled in Alma itself, and when warning reached them of their foe's arrival, they issued forth to trap the Aitahists in the bay, ending the Expedition before it ever had the chance to reach Acca.

Still somewhat disorganized from the long voyage, the Aitahists didn't find out about the attack until it was almost too late. With the allied fleet's sails coming into view, the Aitahist navy arrayed itself for battle, and almost at once were set upon by Rutarri's fleet.

While the Moti and Seshweay had stationed several thousands of soldiers on their vessels to act as marines, these soldiers found themselves flummoxed by the dedicated and stunningly experienced crews that the Accans could bring to bear. Running almost literal circles around ships that had expected to face only token resistance, Rutarri's men rammed and sank dozens of vessels before the Aitahists had the chance to really regroup. The center of the Aitahist fleet remained relatively stout, and could better bring their marines into ship-to-ship combat, but the wings simply collapsed against better-piloted ships.

The initial gains had been entirely one-sided, but Pa'esh bought time by redeploying some of his reserves to the wings. But even as he did this, other parts of the line began to crumble. Rutarri's own ship, meanwhile, darted in and out of the gaps in the clash, sinking or capturing seven vessels itself, and encouraging his followers as well. The Aitahists had counted on some defections or incompetence to swing the battle in their favor, but the crews of an overwhelmingly Maninist or Accan fleet fought relentlessly, shredding what remained of the Aitahist force.

In only a few hours, Rutarri's fleet had little to do besides mopping up, capturing over two dozen vessels to replace their own losses, and soon preyed on the numerous transport vessels, many of which had not yet offloaded their soldiers to the shore. Dozens of boats surrendered rather than face the prospect of sinking, while dozens more simply never got the chance to surrender. Thousands drowned, and the Accans continued to intercept new arrivals for weeks after the Battle of the Bays.

A good portion of the absurdly large force had managed to land in some fashion or another, but they remained a foreign army trapped in a surprisingly hostile landscape. Meanwhile, rumor had it that the new Redeemer Avetas marched from Allusille with more than enough soldiers to sweep aside what remained of the allied army. Aramsafaya and Pa'esh had both died in the chaos, and the remaining commanders debated whether to fortify themselves, hoping for some kind of relief from whatever Aitahist navy remained in the Kern Sea, or to attempt a desperate march through Oscadia to Onesca.

In short, it had been an utter catastrophe.

* * * * * * * * *

The much better organized and supplied Onescan attack, by contrast, had managed to more headway, pushing aside the Satar raiders, and capturing the city from its fairly minor garrison. From here, on, however, the troubles began.

The Battle of the Bays had not completely eliminated the Aitahist navy from the picture, but it had left it quite literally decimated – barely more than a dozen of the original vessels remained in any fighting shape, and they had mostly turned tail and fled to Aldina after the fiasco. With control over the Kern given over almost entirely to Rutarri's cunning band of sailors, the raids recommenced from both landward and seaward directions, cutting off the supplies from the Sesh almost entirely.

Twelfth-Frono did not panic, and began to secure alternative chains of supply. First, he began to launch a series of raids of his own into the countryside north of Onesca. While the fairly barren scrubland there would not support an army of their size, what farms did lay there could certainly help. At the same time, his more immobile infantry began to construct a series of fortifications down the Kotir coast. While they still faced a good deal of pressure from the much more mobile Satar raiders, these blockhouses could at least keep the army at Onesca from outright starvation.

A much smaller Uggor force had been devoted to continuing attacks on the Tashal region. Naturally, they found it difficult to extend their reach over such a barren terrain, securing only a few oasis towns – larger plans to secure the entirety of the Kotir and Rath Tephas between the two armies had to be postponed for a later date, especially with the imminent prospect of Avetas' return looming over them all.

* * * * * * * * *

Jahan's death had put the Evyni conquest on hold, while Avetas' campaign to the south with well over half the available Satar forces stalled it even further. All the same, the war looked unlikely to be reversed any time soon – the great bulk of the Evyni quem and the slowly accumulated professional military had been slaughtered at Allusille. Zys' treachery went unpunished, for the Avaimi lay divided among themselves. At first, no man dared claim the title of Lawgiver, as Isathmæyer's widow, Ashar, still remained alive, and rumor had it that she was with child. When she fled from the capital with Zys' army on her heels, though, the path to empire lay open.

A dozen quem proclaimed themselves Lawgiver at once, each with a fairly large force under their banner. Satar raids began shortly thereafter, pushing the boundaries of Karapeshai control still further north. Meanwhile, an Evyni defector by the name of Dvræsyn was named Tarkhana and Lord of the Evyni for his troubles, amassing a number of like-minded individuals under him and attempting to carve out his own patrimony with the blessing of Avetas.

In this rather chaotic environment, Zys remained the biggest player, but even he proved unable to control things. Much of his conscript army withered away at the first winter, and soon only a rather small (admittedly more professional) core stayed. As such, he could scarcely extend his control farther than he already had.

While the false Lawgivers, Zys, and Dvræsyn scrabbled for purchase in the narrow arena of the dying empire, the rest of the northern powers began to nibble at the edges. Xieni incursions in the southwest met with welcoming feasts by the oppressed Oscadians; Luskan launched overland raids against the old city of Ëtama; the Taudo rebellion gained momentum. All awaited with some trepidation the results of the battles in the south that might decide the fate of the Karapeshai.

Avetas arrived in Acca bare weeks after the Battle of the Bays, easily turning aside some halfhearted allied probes. His approach brought new urgency into the talks of those allies that remained near Alma; at long last the Uggor general Perei took the Moti contingent and a few thousand Aitahists, striking out to the southwest, hoping to outpace the Redeemer. The remaining Seshweay and Faron wavered still; Avetas' host caught them on the peninsula, defeated them easily, forced their surrender, and continued on to try and catch Perei.

Despite the traditional Satar mobility and the hostile countryside, Perei made surprisingly good time, keeping his army together and forcing long marches. Hundreds of Seshweay and even a few Uggor melted away into the west as deserters, finding homes with the Aitahist Oscadians there; a few of them would even keep on the fight against Avetas for a few years afterward before finally being extinguished by a minor Satar contingent towards the end of the decade. The rest continued onward, finally coming to the River Markha deep in Oscadia.

Unfortunately, here they stalled for a few days while trying to secure a crossing, and Avetas finally caught up with them. Perei managed to get half of his forces across the river before the Satar fell upon their rearguard, slaughtering ten thousand more of the allied army and enslaving what few remained.

Even so, the wily Perei managed to distract the Satar, and arrived in Onesca with nearly ten thousand of his men in tow, embracing his Uncle Twelfth-Frono and being hailed as a hero for his daring escape. The Moti prepared for battle with the Satar army, a somewhat smaller but by far the better quality force, and fell back after a few inconclusive battles to their garrison.

Through this, Ashar's flight had brought her to lands in the distant west, finding refuge with her father in the Xieni court before being expelled at the prospect of bringing further vengeance down on his head.

On the other side of the Kern Sea, the Gallassene armies nearly matched their navy in accolades. After the annexation of the Bhari Roshate, the combined armies of the League, the Bhari, and the Sirasonans met the Tarenan despot in pitched battle. Even with support from the Aitahists, internal factions and messy communications played havoc with the Tarenan defensive efforts – quite rapidly the Maninists won a string of victories, arriving at the gates of the enemy capital of Pamala.

Raiders from Occara, with subtle prods from the Savirai monarch, began to cross into their new Galassene neighbors' borderlands, but these functioned more as a symbol of Eastern Aitahist unity than a meaningful military intervention.

* * * * * * * * *

The governor sat on a lavender cushion, his face a mask of mild boredom. Above and all around him stood rows and rows of benches arrayed in their thousands; before him, the wide circle of the arena sands. They were covered up today; a tarp had been laid down, and some canvas backdrops had been hung, dividing the arena in two. If there had been enough people to fill the amphitheater, half the audience would never see the play. But it was irrelevant: he had invited only his closest friends to this private production.

Torono was starting to wish he hadn't.

It had been his wife's idea, of course. She had heard of the play's brilliance from one of the friends she had made in the Seshweay elite, and she thought bringing actors all the way from Caroha would provide a welcome distraction. Torono had agreed, for whatever reason – possibly to get out of the field for once, for the campaign against the Arrow-Family's armies had proven harder than he liked to admit, and possibly too because he had thought holding the play in an arena where the Satar used to kill one another would prove amusing.

It had been a gross miscalculation.

Certainly, the Den of Wolves did not make for a bad theater. The players' voices rung out across the seats, and he had no difficulty seeing the action of the play. And he admired the architecture: the fancifully decorated columns, the thousand square arches. He had half a mind to try and acquire some artwork of the wind-serpents the Satar used for decorations. Ironic, really, how the men who had burned half the world built perhaps the most impressive buildings.

In any case, it was not the building. It was the play. Tonoro's wife seemed to be enraptured, so presumably it made for good drama. He, on the other hand, had seen that there existed two characters, one a Faronun... warrior? and one a Satar woman. He, appropriately enough, not-so-subtly made disapproving sounds every time the masked woman took the stage (actors are not the only ones who are masters of the stage whisper), but other than that, he had little investment in the plot. Something about them coming to face one another in battle, with the Satar losing (he applauded that), and then a several minutes long speech by one of the main characters.

His mind wandered during this last soliloquy, of which he heard maybe one word in a hundred. Never before had he noticed what a pure blue the sky made against the red stone of the Den.

At long, merciful last, he did not need to listen to more culture to please his wife. The players bowed to applause both dutiful and enthusiastic, and began to strike the set. Torono clapped his hands, and called over a servant, who poured a tall glass of lemon-water, mixed with crushed snow from the southern mountains. After taking a long draught, he looked around for his wife, who had mysteriously vanished.

It transpired that she had engaged a few of the players in conversation, talking animatedly about their work. He made his way down, and cleared his throat importantly; they immediately bowed and uttered their sincerest thanks for his presence.

“Yes, yes, quite. Truly a moving rendition.” He cast around for some comment that would make them all believe he had been paying even cursory attention. “I must say I was partial to the scene – you know the one – where they come together and fight. Even as a seasoned warrior, watching men play at war is always entertaining. But it could have done with less talking. Dialogue interrupts the build-up of stories such as these.”

They graciously assured him that they would communicate this criticism to the playwright, and he in turn invited them to the palace complex, where he would shortly have Vithana musicians playing some western songs, and a feast of roast pheasant was to be had. He would at least enjoy the food, and perhaps the players would continue to engage his wife for some time more...

* * * * * * * * *

Aside from being woefully misinformed as to the nature of Farubaidan theater, Torono's main contribution to the governate of the Upper Sesh was to continue the campaign against Satores' raiders. The Moti had made little headway in this matter for some years now, as their foes had the lay of the land, and a certain mobility, not to mention the mind of one of the better generals that the Sesh had seen in quite some time. Torono had been charged with bringing this matter to a close, one way or another, and he diligently began to set a trap for the raiders.

Withdrawing back into the cities, the Moti almost conceded the countryside to the Satar for a while, allowing crops to be pillaged and the nascent Irraliamite and Aitahist communities to live in fear for a while. This, of course, lured the Satar into overcommitment. But only the less competently commanded Satar bands managed to get fooled so easily – the rest had to be careful to preserve every soldier they had in the face of present difficulties.

Shifting his tactics somewhat, Torono began to attack their mountain strongholds one by one, hoping to beat them at their own game. Indeed, eventually the Moti eliminated nearly half of the partisans, but those under the direct command of Satores – near the city of Yashidim in particular – remained entirely beyond his grasp, and continued to weaken his control over the region, though at least his attacks had shifted their base of power even further into the western mountains – and in so doing, likely cut them off from the greater part of their manpower base.

In the center of the Holy Empire itself, the tensions at court had become rather dangerous; in an attempt to defuse the situation, Ayasi Fourth-Frei granted certain bureaucratic offices to various important members of the Godlike families. This proved rather successful – for a time, anyway. At the same time, however, his relaxed policies tempted the Godlikes to revive some of their older, pre-Iralliam religious ancestor worship practices. This did not sit well with the Grandpatriarch, who took a rather hardline stance; the threat of holy anger brought errant nobility back into line.

(The Ayasi himself, it should be noted, did much to sponsor the activities of the clergy as well; mysteriously he also avoided the wrath of the Grandpatriarch.)

Simultaneously, the Patriarchy of Magha complained heavily at the Imperial policy that allowed Aitahist settlers in the Upper Sesh. Naturally, the Emperor ignored them, and very little of consequence took place – Aitahist communities, especially merchants and artisans, started to take root in Tisatar and Nikros. Combined with the elimination of the easternmost Satar partisans, and a resulting spike in settlement by Bysrians, the latter city finally started to revive from the hefty beating it had taken in the War of the Three Gods.

With the focus of the war shifting northward, the general economic and cultural flowering of the cradle continued, especially in the Farubaida. Haiaoda, a play by Shaeuli Pirof, while perhaps not holding the attention of certain Uggor governors, was remarkable for representing something of an outlier in a culture that otherwise subscribed to a utopian vision of the future. Shaeuli's play, by contrast, showed a deeply philosophical bent – one that actually treated the Satar as people, for one.

Naturally, such an argument fell mostly on deaf ears.

In any case, Caroha continued its odd path from reviled city to one of the crowning jewels of the region. Neruss, funding its reconstruction with funds from across the Federation, followed suit, and – possibly coming as a bit of surprise to some – so, too, did Dremai, benefiting from its position near the cultural powerhouses in the northeast of the Lovi Sea, and serving as a point of travel and trade for the nearby Faerouhaiaouans.

Of course, this time of peace and plenty might well have come to a close already – but that is a story we have yet to begin...

* * * * * * * * *

The Clan of Kogur had finally succeeded in its most righteous of tasks – the conquest of the upstart people of Putra, and the extension of Uggor power further south than it had ever come before. Naturally, it soon transpired that their victory hadn't really solved anything, as they soon found out. Encouraging immigration into Anzai was one thing; they actually controlled Anzai. But when the settlement of farmers in the border regions started to infringe on the territory of the native peoples whom they had co-opted for so long, they quickly remembered exactly why they had enlisted native allies in the first place – the natives knew their business when it came to fighting on their home ground.

The Clan of Kogur found their most trusted native allies, the Aihnaz, turning on them. Precisely because of the recent victory of the two allies over the Putrans, the Aihnaz happened to be among the most powerful of the local tribes, and they became the focal point of an anti-Uggor coalition. Pushed back onto a thin strip along the coastline, the Kogur once again found themselves conducting what seemed like it had turned into an endless series of wars.

Across the Nakalani, the Ilfolk had swelled greatly in numbers and prominence – soon the entire island fell under the sway of one or the other of their chiefs and priests, and Ilfolk fishermen swarmed around its coasts in droves. A dark spot, perhaps, had appeared on the horizon – Baribai raiders had begun to prod at its northern coasts – but their numbers remained small and their activities disorganized. The island was safe.

For now.

* * * * * * * * *

Old rivalries still ruled in Parthe. The northern Terror, the Zarcasen, still raided the frontier with ruthless efficiency, striking down hundreds of settlers in the inland hills and driving still more out. The Partheans, in return, pushed still deeper into the forest. Neither side had gained the upper hand, though Parthe's position of dominance on the island had been clear for some time now.

More happily, the natives to the west seemed much more amicable to the Partheans, possibly because the Parthean plans for them involved far less wanton killing and rather more intermarriage and bribery. Regardless, the expansion of the plantation economy across the south of the island restarted, helped along by the new lands and a treaty with Leun to monopolize indigo production, and a newly founded port in the west, Tarwa.

Less happily, an expedition to the north met with apparent failure as it vanished into the mists, two ships, half a hundred men, and all.

Meanwhile, under Leunan direction, the Acayan city states founded a new forum for the discussion of regional issues, particularly those involving trade or political developments. However, with the distraction of the Empire due to their southern imbroglio, the forum's implicit goal – a check on Iolhan expansion – had little chance of success. Indeed, once the Leunans' gaze was completely averted, the Iolhans happily continued their expansion, conquering two more city states and easily taking on the rest in a series of lopsided battles.

On the other side of the continent, the Rihnit, ever a quiet people who did not particularly concern themselves with the goings-on of the world around them, seemed to shake themselves awake a little. The king, a man with a thousand curiosities, ordered the construction of a university, called the Jagarakasoan Grasitak, with the charge to investigate such diverse subjects as botany, architecture, chemistry, and engineering. Of course, with a fairly limited budget they could only make a little headway into any of those fields, and most of their actual progress was stolen from neighboring peoples.

Other government policies – including an attempt to try and take a cast of every citizen's foot and thumbprint – proved completely unrealistic and were quickly abandoned.
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 06:47 PM   #3019
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* * * * * * * * *

In the world, there are empires and there are the humbler states between. Always these lesser states must play a cruel game – align with one or the other and risk getting overrun when the tides of fortune turn, or try to play the one off the other and hope that they will never find themselves without a friend.

Farea, of course, had been among the latter types, a proud colony founded on the optimism of a just-freed people, with the misfortune of ending up between the Opulensi and Leunan Empires. Compressed between two cancerous growths, they had worked to walk that middle path, allying with the Opulensi for the most part, but trying to maintain good relations with the Leunans. After a long while, however, it transpired that they had done a particularly bad job of keeping their alliance, as they harbored dozens of pirates from Opulensi pursuit.

There was probably never any real chance that they could have defused the crisis. But the Fareans handled this particularly badly, even after the initial snafu. They were caught completely unprepared for the Opulensi retribution, and their initial pleas for aid to the other powers who might have held the larger empire in check met with silence.

Dutifully, the Opulensi invaded the upstart nation, seized Ania, defeated a Farean army in pitched battle (albeit with heavy losses; the Farean military seemed reasonably competent), and laid siege to the city of Farea itself. It looked as though the Opulensi had managed to win yet another war, and this one without the distraction of their longtime enemies.

The illusion was quickly shattered. Leunan fleets launched a coordinated assault, seizing Opulensi merchantmen in the Leunan Sea and south of Auona. Espionage efforts against the Opulensi fleet on Spitos ended in disaster and the execution of a couple dozen Leunan agents, but their initial attack had dealt considerable damage. At the same time, the Farubaida o Caroha, evidently desiring to take a greater share of the shipping business, attacked the other side of the Opulensi Empire, taking the cities of the Hulinui Peninsula by storm, while their allies the Savirai crossed the border and turned aside a halfhearted Opulensi attempt to stop them in the field, laying siege to Nahar.

What had been a relatively minor conflict had rapidly spiraled out of control. The Opulensi pulled back from their assault on Farea, contemplating what to do next. Their naval forces actually still outnumbered the entire coalition arrayed against them, but they had far more territory to defend, while their armies found themselves even more overstretched.

The Leunan assault continued unabated, relying on speed and surprise to take as much out of the Empire before it could react. Separate attacks on the easternmost Opulensi colonies and Paulinth met with striking success. Meanwhile, their most numerous forces crossed the border on Auona, hoping to free the cities of the former Eastern League and possibly gain support from that region. They reached Cynta almost as soon as the garrison there received word that the war had even started, and an agent there opened the gates to the invaders.

Alas, Tars and Cheidia had much more warning of the coming assault, and, moreover, better security around their gates.

After some agonizing, the Opulensi finally decided which of their opponents to focus on – and decided that the similarly constructed Leunan Empire pose a greater threat. Redeploying their fleet, they pushed back the Leunan forces around Cheidia. The Leunan general, Florian, redoubled his efforts against Tars in response, but was unable to break through the walls. At the same time, the Opulensi captured the Leunan fortress opposite Cheidia at the Leunan straits, putting them in rather dire circumstances. The Leunans escaped with relatively few losses to their fleet, but were forced to hold onto the hope that their allies might be able to win their front.

Worse still, the Leunans had seemingly failed to account for one variable in particular:

Gadia.

Centuries ago, the Gadians had been in an almost identical situation to the present-day Iolhans: on the cusp of uniting the Acayan city states under their banner. Pushed back by Leunan efforts, they had fallen into the Opulensi camp fairly early, and had been receiving subsidies from the larger empire for decades on end. Seeing their longtime ally invaded now, they marched to the rescue, coming overland and surprising the Leunans with a strike at their capital.

Panicking slightly, Leun raised some twenty thousand new levies from the regions around the capital, a force which somewhat outnumbered the Gadians, but lacked the training or equipment to stand in the open field against them. All the same, the unexpected resistance turned away the first attack, while a small detachment from the Savirai allowed them to hold back the tide. But the first few months of the war had not been altogether fortuitous – for any of the powers involved...

* * * * * * * * *

The kabob glistened in the desert sun, a creamy saffron sauce steaming as it dripped onto the ground. Lamb and onion slices alternated on the stick, the whole thing rolled in the slightest dusting of chilis to give it a spicy aftertaste. Aluoda had trouble pacing himself; the meat was so delicious he was half tempted to try swallowing the stick whole. Experience had taught him that would be a bad idea.

“Well?”

He swallowed a mouthful of water and looked over at his companion. “There's nothing to be done. The pass around Yashidim is too dangerous. We'll have to go around.”

“That's it? 'We'll have to go around'?”

“What else would you want me to say?”

“If we don't go through Yashidim, the next best pass is near Gaci and Het. Do you realize how much time that's going to add on to our return journey? Do you realize how much that's going to cut into our margin?”

“Do you realize how unlikely it is that a badly-guarded caravan owned by Faronun-speaking merchants could get through to Magha?”

Safir frowned. “It's not like the other road is free of troubles, either. We might as well take a ship there.”

“Don't be ridiculous.” He resumed eating his kabob, while Safir sulked. They walked down a narrow, winding alley between stalls, merchants shouting their wares. “Silk, the finest northern silk!” “Sandalwood!” “Kumis!” “Saffron kabobs!” He annoyedly waved his food at the last one before continuing on.

“Manuscripts?”

That one made him look up. A somewhat weedy Uggor stood there, looking a little sheepish. Not the merchant type at all – but certainly fitting a rare manuscript seller's build. Aluoda paused, prompting Safir to hiss exasperatedly: “We're already late!”

“You go on, then, I'll just look through what he has for a moment.”

Safir nearly stormed off, making Aluoda smile as he started to push through the stacks and stacks of rolled-up paper. Ancient, crumbled maps, some of them listing countries he didn't even recognize, copies of the Dulama Captli Ana and the Farnonun Holaia Haiaoua, a few holy books, and many other pieces he didn't recognize. By chance, he picked up a volume that looked half-eaten, many of its pages missing random-shaped chunks. The ones that he could see seemed to be filled with anatomical drawings.

“What's this?” he asked.

“It's written in some old form of Duroc, I think. I... uh... I actually shouldn't even have it.” He made as if to grab the volume from Aluoda, but seemed to think better of it and withdrew his sweaty hand.

“Duroc? The city of Duroc?”

“A Republic used to exist there. They worshiped Istria, thought that since she had survived the war with Opporia she would end up ruling all. Nasty bit of work. They cut corpses to pieces to feed their rituals, I think it's some compilation of instructions...”

Aluoda had stopped paying attention. It was a curious thing, he thought as he leafed through it, seeing a thousand carefully labeled drawings of a man's innards. He had patched up the wounds of his friends and family; he had even thought of hiring out his careful hands to set broken bones or close up a wound. But these people looked as though they had gone levels beyond. He wondered what the writing said.

“How much for the scroll?”

* * * * * * * * *

Maps


City Map


Economic Map


Religious Map


Political Map

* * * * * * * * *

Diplomacy

To: Haina, Trahana
From: Dehr


This war has run its course. Name your terms, that we may have peace.

* * * * * * * * *

OOC:

Apologies, again, for the lateness. A significant part of it can be attributed to the egregiously late orders I got, which I will not apologize for, but part of it, of course, can be attributed to ongoing personal struggles this semester. Oh well. I'll see what I can do.

Should probably be noted that Torono and his wife are very Seshweay-influenced after years in the Sesh region. I don't know how gender relations are for most Moti nobility, but they are presumably less egalitarian.

Apologies for the later sections, it's been a long week.

Next order deadline? Well, as I apparently discovered, it doesn't actually matter when I set this since I won't get orders until months afterward. Let's go with:

Orders Due: Saturday, May 5: 6 AM EST
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Old Apr 21, 2012, 07:36 PM   #3020
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Great update North King!

There are those of us in the south of the Farubaida who are... displeased with the results of the northern expedition. We may be taking a more active interest in this matter in the near future.
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