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ONESI: Upon the Fallen

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by ork75, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    ONESI: Upon the Fallen

    Update 1: Sunrise

    HE 3196 - HE 3500​

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    Of all the regions of the known world, the Elka’tar mountains are perhaps the most inhospitable. The indifferent grey peaks scrape the sky, piercing the clouds. Only the hardiest wildlife survive, and, hunting these, only the hardiest people.

    They trudged through the snow, wind, and ice that characterized their home along ancient trails, blazed thousands of years before. While the tribes of the Elka’tar lacked mastery or even exposure to the bronze of lower latitudes, they refined other arts instead. Ceramic arts, fired in small communal kilns which serviced the semi-migratory bands, came into their own as a distinct feature of Elka culture. While such kilns could not produce the impermeable vitrified works common further south, they were remarkable for their incorporation of high quality clays and stylized multicolor designs, depicting scenes of mountain life and the incredible beauty of the Elka’tar. The works of the snowcapped peaks were never widespread in cradle trade networks as Némori ceramics, but carried their own merit at least in the domestic sphere of the mountains.

    While the lifestyle of seasonal hunting along ancestral paths was simple, and carried the Elka through millennia, it was by no means an easy way to live. Hunting and gathering had brought the Elka, the northernmost of the First Men, to their domain, but pastoralism kept them there. In the valleys, in the sheltered vales where the sharp fanged winds and endless snows did not reach, small villages grew. Sheep and goats, kept in dry stone pastures, allowed the population and development of the region to rise. This shift from semi-nomadic lifestyle to sedentary was also accompanied by a southward migration, as the warmer climes and slightly more forgiving temperatures and vegetation of the southern Elka’tar allowed for larger flocks to support larger populations. In some cases, permanent settlements survived on agriculture, but even in the southern foothills of the grand northern mountains these were few and far between.

    As populations increased, so did specialization. A priestly class emerged, and the institutionalization of Elka religion focused on the theological questioning of deities and divine problems, while simultaneously guiding the lay in lifestyle. Meat preparation ceremonies were particularly elaborate, often including entire villages in order to ensure maximum use of all parts of the slaughtered animal. These rituals diverged over time from village to village, as there was no central hierarchy, but the broad tropes remained the same across Elka lands.

    Along with the new priestly classes emerged a large warrior class. Arising from the roots of the old hunters, large bands of Elka warriors sold their allegiance to Elka villages and even foreign cultures, particularly the Shando who now occupied the lands to their immediate south. These mercenaries distinguished themselves by operating in large bands, and also for their pre-battle rituals. Consumption of human blood and hallucinogens featured prominently in these ceremonies, and as far away as the marshes of the Hebuttar the name Elka was accompanied by an air of infamy. However, this was partially due to the tendency of these mercenary bands to turn to raiding when pastoralism and murder for hire could not support them. And, while waves of this pillaging occasionally crashed upon the northern Shando they were mostly regulated to the Elka tribes themselves.

    By the time of the southward Elka migration, the Hill Shando who sometimes found themselves at the point of a mountain man’s spear were generations away from the Shando tribes of the forests and riverbanks further south. Conical houses dotted the peaks and vales of their territory, supported by the agricultural yield of terraces. Their exquisite jewelry, seemingly woven of gold and silver threads, was traded for bronze tools both in the markets of Mirrepon to the West and on the banks of the lazy Ararata to the East. These loads were carried by horses, by now diffused throughout all the Shando societies.

    The shining river itself changed as much as the cultures it sustained. The stone weirs of past millennia grew and grew. The Shashando, as the rivermen called themselves, raised megalithic dams in the Ararata, changing the course of the river into a series of wide, shallow oxbows which more easily facilitated their fields. Villages rested on stilts above the weakened waters, linked to the crops which grew along the banks by networks of bridges and by small boats.

    Agriculture, rather than fishing, supported Shando communities. While the fishing and the weirs that had sustained the populations of the region in more ancient times remained (like the domesticated otters which characterized the culture), fields of millet, wheat, and barley produced far larger settlements. However, these populations remained decentralized. On occasion, warlords from one settlement or another convinced or coerced enough groups together to produce some sort of larger confederation, even reaching the lands of the Kadettar to the South, but these did not often live much longer than their creators. Some tropes of Shando culture remained in the areas influenced by these confederacies, though, most notably the domesticated otter and the weir, which found their places among the Kadet’st societies living along the lower Ararata.

    Other echoes of the Shashando were felt in the Kontur. The Ararata, which once carried the spring melt from the peaks of the Elka’tar to the shores of the Telesejiya, was stifled by the great stone dams upstream. Hebut’st villages, abandoned by the marshes which occasioned their founding, migrated south and west to the swamps still fed by the Khanuren. The farms which fed some Kadet’st tribes also shrank or moved, heading west towards the Bezebek and the Némori. Some of these groups opted for a different path: north, spears in hand, towards the Shashando who had altered the Ararata in the first place. A series of short-lived despots established themselves over shifting arrangements of Shando and Kadet’st villages among the man-made lakes.

    The Kittut’st were unique among the cultures of the Kontur for their seaward focus. Their fishing and coastal trading was unaffected by the diminished Ararata, and their range spread along the coast far to the south. This brought them into increased contact with the Juakeh traders, with whom they fought, traded, or coexisted depending on the year or, indeed, the season. Perhaps inspired by the ship men of the south, Kittut’st merchants occasionally launched their own trading expeditions. These did not have the same range as those of the Juakeh, but could and did sometimes find their way as far as Yanga, bearing loads of salt and Némori manufactured goods.

    The Kittut’st, however, were unique among the Kontur cultures for their southeastern mercantile focus. Most of the southern littoral fell under the sway of a very different mercantile power. Despite a profound lack of political centralization, the extreme population of the Némori and the incredible economic power and reach of their merchants assured them a dominant place in the economy of the littoral.

    Némori merchants kept the markets and polities of the Ararata and the Kontur stocked with bronze and fine ceramics. However, their influence remained even after their boats departed.

    Writing, an advance created and propagated throughout the littoral by the Némori, was key to the lasting hegemonic effect of the culture. The prestige of being the only literate culture in the region was immense, and scribes resisted all attempts to introduce an alphabet to Némori script. Even so, the initial pictographic system was eventually supplanted by a syllabic one, reflecting combinations of consonants and vowels in characters, which, combined in vertical strings, formed words.

    Writing facilitated the development of rich poetry, which became the main formalized language of the Sisters. It also facilitated the development of a far more practical aspect of Némori culture. Contracts, or atjinu, created written and codified agreements which often lasted generations or more. These bound farmers to the land, rizu nobles to city states and larger alliances, and other peoples to these. Such was their importance that a subcategory of scribes emerged, charged only with the interpretation of older atjinu codes and mediating conflicts which arose regarding their implementation. These !-nié filled an important role in Némori society, preventing the complete dominance of the rizu and ensuring that the Wheel was balanced and continued to spin.

    The strength of atjinu relied on dutiful obedience of their terms. While there was generally little direct consequence for a violation, the proof or accusation of such was so powerful as to be able to destroy the reputation of entire city states or rizu lineages, and lead to invasions and seizures of property and territory as a result.

    Like Némori writing in its purest form, atjinu soon spread beyond the riverbanks. Enterprising rizu often found it in their interest to exchange rights of command and leadership in certain foreign communities for trade rights and integration with the Némori system, or otherwise used economic dominance to peacefully wrest control from their previous owners. These bonds, when formalized, were codified with atjinu, allowing the integrated peoples (generally Hebut’st) a manner of recourse in cases of mistreatment. However, when such agreements were made they represented a formal lease of authority to rizu lords outside of the traditional Némori sphere.

    With atjinu as their spear, the rizu expanded the Némori wheel throughout the southern littoral. This peaceful expansion was concentrated in the north and east, as Némori merchants gained undisputed access to the Telesejiya through the Hebuttar and absorbed the Kadet’st and the Kadettar plains to their north, in some cases reaching as far as the southern fringes of the Shando.

    While this expansion was stable and generally amicable to both sides of the arrangement, it was slow. It was the result of individual members of the rizu gradually integrating the natives of those areas, community by community. Hebut’st palisades fell not to bronze-clad rizu warbands but to economic pressure, the advantages of contractual protection, and the goods of a stable and productive population hub.

    Kadet’st warlords, on the other hand, were drawn into the ranks of the armies of the Némori city states. In exchange they were offered rich plots of land away from riverbanks throughout the Némori sphere. Over time, the riders became a common sight throughout the Sisters as rizu warlords bought or contracted their service in internal conflicts.

    The advent of atjinu was accompanied by another important development. As the contractual web became more and more tangled, and transactions more and more complex, roughly standardized currency was implemented. In the interest of maintaining control over the supply, the rizu merchants who propagated the innovation created their money from finely crafted and colored pieces of porcelain. The soft pinks, yellows, and teals of the porcelain blocks rode the tides of Némori trade to prominence, and were familiar in markets from Mirrepon to the Juakeh.

    Members of the rizu also drove Némori influence southwards, but this was not the bloodless contractual expansion seen in the north.
  2. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    Location Map:
    Spoiler :


    As famine, rizu colonization, contractually driven settlement policies (which called for colonization in exchange for supplies and protection), and mobile populations serving large scale construction projects moved south onto the Iluterié and Utsuni, they found they were not the first “civilized” power to arrive in the region. The others came from the southwest, and made up in organization what they lacked in numbers. Némori docks and palisades dotted the shores of the southern Sisters, interspersed with the halls and temples of the colonists from the Utsuni headwaters. The mountain men spoke often of their ancestral claim to the lands they now returned to, and of their three loyalties: the true god, Enaaru, their kingdom, Aarukuaten, and above all, their king: Ilyanden.

    Ilyanden, Aeyanden to the Marugae, began life as a mere princeling in the dense war-torn farmlands on the south side of the great lake of the Tarshuaren. He ended it as despot of the most centralized polity in the known world.

    As a young man, the Wandering Prince made his way north, to the lands of the Marugae. According to legend, he was stricken by visions of the Wheel and of the death of his father. Ignored by the gods, he turned instead to the Marugae. He saw through the stereotype spread in southern courts, and came to learn among the denizens of the north of the lake. When his father did die, and he did return south, he did so with a wife from each of the most powerful Marugae clans: a capstone to the alliances he had spent his formative years building, and a symbol of the new power he could call upon in his quest for unification.

    Where fifty generations of self-styled Aarugae kings had failed, Ilyanden succeeded. He marshalled the armies his father left him, combined them with the might and love of the north, and marched on his foes.

    The seven years of war which followed devastated some Aarugae regions, but left Ilyanden in control of one of the most productive corners of the world. He embarked on numerous campaigns, sending colonists, garrisons, and priestly types over the mountains to the south and down the Utsuni to settle the southern littoral. He sent merchants west, to the golden rolling hills and growing merchant cities of the Hâidzòêla. He clamped down on trade from east to west. He sent Aarugae bureaucrats and settlers to the north, to soften and convert the restless Marugae. A dozen provinces and successor kingdoms arose, supported by the professional temple armies of the lake and coffers filled by tariffs controlling the trade between the Xẁda and the littoral. For the time being, they held.

    The southern rizu coexisted with their counterparts. Trade relations held steady, as diplomacy largely did. While Némori Surasuna rose far taller and grew far larger than Maruvar and Amaruatan, the capitals of the local Aarukuaten vassals, the boat lords were more than content with simple trade rather than aggressive action. The timber and metals of the Tarshuaren, brought north across the littoral, filled their lockboxes with colored porcelain bricks. In turn, the vassal states of Aarukuaten tramped up the hidden road built along the gorge of the upper Utsuni to shower Ilyanden and his successors with the fine lacquerware, pottery, and jewelry of the Sisters.

    Ideas flowed as freely as goods. Institutional religion was unfamiliar to the Némori mind, as was monotheism, but an array of gods were nothing new. Some of the deities of the Ainye, the Aarukuaten pantheon, found places in the hearts and dreams of the boatmen and farming unions of the southern Sisters. Much to the chagrin of the most zealous of the Aarukuaten settlers, Enaaru himself found no place in the stereotypically practical and conniving Némori mind, but there were other shared principles. To the Némori it was the wheel, the Aarukuaten the gesa, but the revolving and repeating nature of life and the world was common knowledge to all. The boatmen even recognized the distant Ilyanden as a defier of his own wheel and that of the Marugae.

    This peaceful coexistence was founded on a few key details. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of the sparsely settled Aarukuaten lands, and their freedom to access those lands, was matched with guarantees of the unrestricted travel and trade for the rizu merchant princes. The failure of one of these principles, however, could mean the undoing of the political and economic balance of the region.

    The later rulers of the Aarukuaten kingdom faced a number of costly domestic and foreign commitments. Tariffs, always the financial lifeblood of the kingdom, were raised. The temple-lords, high on the lakeshores, and far from the delicate see-saw of the Utsuni, viewed the vassals on the littoral as investments long matured. They reestablished control more or less successfully. Fatefully, they began to impose tariffs as well.

    For a decade or three of peaceful coexistence, the rizu of Surasuna found that the highlanders who now lived beside them were far more useful as trading partners, alive, than their lands were, dead. This value rested on the knowledge that Némori trade went unrestricted. There was no atjinu code enforcing this, as it was an understanding reached by mutual and intimate knowledge of both sides’ capabilities. The Aarukuaten kings were not privy to such knowledge. Military forces stationed in the scattered strongholds of the domains of Amaruatan and Maruvar in order to enforce tariff laws incensed the rizu.

    While rizu faces may have betrayed only ambivalence, closed doors hid plotting. Némori merchant lords did not have a centralized, let alone uniform, political system, but backroom connections served them well. Family ties and business connections were exploited. Messengers crossed and returned from the Atsenu and the Némo. Atjinu were written, farmers conscripted, and armies moved south.

    It was the first major war in the known world. Bands of lords clad in full bronze led hordes of farmer-soldiers south along the coast after the autumn harvest, then west to the conflux of the Utsuni and the Iluterié. It was here that the first blow was struck.

    Maruvar was a sleepy town, the easternmost outpost of the Aarukuaten kingdom. Its residents were largely unaware of the conflict manifesting in the upper Utsuni. The Némori who appeared overnight on their doorstep were not the familiar merchants, however. Maruvar was razed.

    Littoral winters were, as a rule, warm. The same was not true of those of the vale of the Atsu’sen, the mountain lake of the Aarukuaten. The gorge of the upper Utsuni was strangled with ice and snow, and reports of the destruction of vassal states downriver were slow to arrive. Combined with the seemingly sudden reversal of relations, they were largely ignored. The Némori armada, given no opposition, fell on the Aarukuaten kingdoms of the Iluterié as snowflakes fell on the highland kingdom’s capital city, Aarutar.

    Onkemuatsure, Aaruken, Dagalwen. The Iluterié kingdoms of Aarukuaten. Their capitals (Onemakatsen, Kentaras, Daegar) became three more bonfires. Countless thousands more were slaughtered. Raided food stores fueled more violence. The upper stretches of the Iluterié, inaccessible to some of the larger vessels of the fleet, were still navigable by the smaller, lighter craft of the contract forces. And when the entire length of the Iluterié had fallen in fire and blood, the Utsuni presented itself to the armada.

    The rizu fought for revenge, and profit. They were titans on the field, when and where pitched battles were fought, but were few in number. The majority of the Némori forces were farmers, bound by atjinu, but given rights by the same. They had no hope for the profits of trade along the rivers, but they had hope for land.

    Many of the contracts which had brought them to the grand fleet of the rizu were brokered on the condition that conquered lands be made available for postwar resettlement. And, in the euphoria of southern victories, the human backbone of the the Némori bands bid farewell to the life of a soldier. They settled the fields and paddies of the southern Sisters before they had lain fallow one season.

    By the spring, the rizu had lost half their fighting strength, not to resistance but to the fertile banks of the Iluterié.

    While the ravages of ice and snow locked the doors of Aarutar, those of Amaruatan were flung wide open. The settlements to the south, smaller already that those of the Utsuni, fell one by one. The prospect of being next on the executioner’s block was motivation like no other, and the northern vassal cities massed their forces to stand and fight.

    The armies of the lowland vassals held at Kamura, the capital of the vassal Kingdom of Ilyukamuru and the last city before Amaruatan itself. Only a few thousand spears stood below their banner, but the warm winter allowed for a large amount of preparation. The local commanders mobilized the population, and spent the the months they had fortifying strongpoints and stockpiling for a siege.

    While messengers, periodically issued from the Kamuran earthworks, reached open ears in Aarutar after the spring thaw, no reinforcements could be sent down the road from Atsu’sen. The wild Utsuni, gorged on the meltwater of a hundred glaciers and ten thousand mountain tributaries, spilled its banks and threatened any army brave enough to chance its steep banks.

    The rizu fleet fell upon Ilyukamuru in mid spring. Ships buzzed about the empty docks like so many flies about a corpse. Unlike the deadened state of the lowland vassals the past winter, though, this new city was very much alive. Banners fluttered about fresh earthworks, and stakes driven into the shallows along the riverbanks prevented the approach of many vessels.

    So, the Némori hesitated. Conflicts between the personalities of the armada, already worsened by proximity and time, came to the fore. Commanders drew battle plans, even positioned for the assault, but would find their allies missing or some significant contingent remaining in the middle of the river. What was meant to be a brief pause for organization became a break of much longer term, and the fleet sat idle in the river for weeks.

    Rizu logistics, based on raiding and purchase from friendly cities, fell apart. The threat of starvation forced immediate action.

    The attackers landed on the banks due to the fortifications in the shallows and along the shore. They found the armies of Kamura assembled before them, formed into phalanx and shieldwall. A battle followed. Despite the best efforts and field success of the bronze-armored and seasoned rizu lords, the professional temple soldiers shattered the halfhearted assaults of the farmer militias which made up the bulk of the Némori forces.

    And so came summer. It was never a rout, but the campaign was over. The army, already depleted, was now exhausted and beaten. The Utsuni, starved of spring’s meltwater, retreated from the gorge road from Atsu’sen and allowed east the armies of Aarukuaten. What farmers remained diffused throughout the conquered territory, and the surviving rizu sailed for Surasuna to brood. On the docks and in the gardens of the Utsuni and Iluterié, they told their peers of the triumphs of the winter, and raged at spring’s shame of defeat.

    Through the summer and fall, these stories leapt from pier to pier. Most viewed it as an unfortunately unsuccessful business venture. For a select few, it was a call to arms. By the time the first snows were falling on the shores of Atsu’sen, a new armada had formed. With the solstice, it launched.

    Again, the fleet experienced initial success. Through the end of spring, rizu boats ravaged the banks of the Sisters. But once more, the end of the spring runoff allowed reinforcements to reach the stricken cities of the littoral. The Némori boatmen, again forced to abandon their doctrine of defending on land and launching assaults over waterways, were forced to attack prepared positions on the plains. Again, the professionalized troops of Aarukuaten dealt them a defeat.

    Némori legend (and atjinu) show that this cycle repeated itself in largely the same way seven more times. Each summer, the remnants of rizu-led armies sailed east to Surasuna, passing fields now filled with their former comrades in arms, to sit in the gardens of that city and wait for the next fighting season and the next batch of fresh leadership.

    By the end of the nine years, the conflict was no longer about tariffs or trade restrictions. It was driven by a combination of angst on the part of the grumbling army-in-waiting on the Surasuna docks, a desire for additional farmland and living space on the part of the farming unions and individual farmer-soldiers, and, perhaps most importantly, a collective cultural sense of honor.

    Over the first nine years of the wars, some progress was made. Némori dominance of the Sisters was assured, if incomplete. After a couple of years, the attrition was too much for the kingdom of Ilyukamuru, and Kamura fell to a thousand rizu swords. However, Amaruatan still held, and the “lake kings” retained control over the upper Utsuni gorge.

    Even as it occurred the saga was legendary. The demon king of the ancient Iluki send his armies of blood down onto the plains to abuse the honest rizu, yet nine scions and their armies fell to his blade. It was called Vetarali, the Flooding Time, and was the first seminal work of Némori literature.

    Anyone familiar with the Vetarali knows, however, that the ninth scion is not the last in the tale. Ve-|| (pronounced Vechi, more or less) is.

    Ve-|| was a Némori woman of the rizu class from the central city of Telié. She presumably heard of the struggles in the south like any other rizu did: by way of word and song along the banks of the Sisters. Perhaps she saw opportunity in the war. Perhaps she saw a chance for great glory. Perhaps she was simply obsessive. Whatever the case, winning the Utsuni became her life’s mission.

    The Vetarali tells how Ve-|| gives her life in order to teach the Némori the magic necessary to kill the Iluki king where the other nine scions had failed. The historical Ve-|| had no magic, but she did have cavalry.

    Instead of raising an army from the farming unions and the rizu elite, then leading it to war over the swollen waterways of winter, Ve-|| headed east. The Kadet’st, nearly unknown to the south, were by her time a common fixture in the internecine conflicts of the northern rizu. She approached them, and the !-tséluhi bands of the west, with atjinu. They pledged their spears to her cause in exchange for shares of plunder and rights to the grasslands south of the Iluterié.

    Ve-|| did not sail south, she rode. Her mounted warbands reached Surasuna in the dead of winter. The dejected warrior class, without leaders for a new offensive that year, lay idle by the riverside. The arrival of thousands of proud riders breathed into them a second wind, and they piled into boats for a chance to see victory at last.

    But she did not yet march. Instead, Ve-|| spent the winter sending scouts, who braved the Tarshuaren to bring back reports on the Aarukuaten road and of the Marugae mining clans who still resisted the pressure of Ilyanden’s lineage. She gathered more and more troops of every Némori stripe, stored food and supplies, and waited.

    That winter was the first quiet season to pass over Amaruatan for nearly a decade. Even so, the veteran watchers on the walls spotted the new rizu armada long before it reached them. They sent for reinforcements, and settled in for a siege. The late arrival of the Némori, in a season which allowed the temple soldiers of the heartland unrestricted access to the littoral, was a strange but welcome mistake.

    The siege lasted longer than most had. The banners of the relief force were in sight by the time the tenth rizu fleet landed and assembled. The Aarukuaten warriors deployed and faced their foes in the field with a discipline which reflected their status as the best trained troops of the known world.

    The dense highland formations advanced as one, hedgehogs of wooden shields and bronze swords. They pushed deep through the shieldwalls and bamboo spears of the opposing farmers, advancing farther and farther until…

    The advance of three thousand Kadet’st cavalrymen led by a woman who seemed to burn with the fire of the sun sealed in the soldiers of Enaaru. Over the course of the afternoon, the highlanders were slaughtered to the man and Amaruatan was burned to ash. Legend and history agree on two points of the battle: Ve-|| was among the rizu dead, and that the Sisters were forever closed to Aarukuaten settlement.

    A Némori fortress city was founded east of the smoldering wreckage of Amaruatan. The road of the Utsuni gorge remained open, for the next few hundred years, but as long as the Aarukuaten kingdom survived it could only claim territory as far east as the gates of the rizu city of Ve-||.
  3. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    Although these gates slammed shut, other Aarukuaten attempts at colonization succeeded, at least for the time being. Some vassal states along the rivers south of the Iluterié grew at acceptable pace, though suffered from the universal thin spread of attention from the core. Other cities, nestled in the steep mountain valleys to the south east of Atsu’sen, were highly defensible but lacked the arable land to be truly influential.

    The Marugae, never held to the same light (or trust) as their southern cousins, found their own valves to relieve highland overpopulation. The northern clans, feeling rejected by Aarutar, gradually spread into the forested foothills of the Zuréna. These Destamogae relieved some pressure on the growing food struggles around Atsu’sen and also filled an important role in the regional economy, sending timber down the Némo and Atsenu to the ever hungry Némori city states and keeping some hidden untaxed routes open between the altiplano and the littoral.

    The most economically productive Aarukuaten-influenced region outside of the lake shores was the hilly frontier with the Hâidzòêla. The region prospered as it was located on top of the most important trade links between the Xẁda peoples and the east. It attracted a particular breed of settler, from east and from west. The small communities were filled with merchants and people of the various professions who supported regional commerce.

    Politically, the region was led from its largest city: Càndaî, in the Hâidzòêla tongue which dominated its cultural profile, or Tsandar, to the great Kingdom to the east. The pastoralists and Xẁda settlers were intolerant of the perceived tyranny of Aarukuaten, and so arranged alliances with the local steppe nomads for protection. This meant that, despite having few troops of their own, the merchants of Tsandar could resist annexation by any of the turbulent city states to the south or by the aggressive Kingdom to the east. Besides, the region was vital to the economies of all the local powers. The area was ruled by a republican mode of governance, as preferred by the Hâidzòêla, and its continued independence and comparative economic freedom made it an attractive destination for merchants and settlers from all over the highlands. And, as the founding and maintenance of Ve-|| (or Vechi, to any but the Némori) strangled trade over the vale of Atsu’sen east, the Aarukuaten kings placed growing import on the trade networks to the immediate west.

    In the hills of Càndaî, the Aaruist gods were placed on the same level as the Great Sages of the Xẁda. While the initial settlement was predominantly Hâidzòêla, it was the greatest melting pot in the known world.

    Hâidzòêla expansion on the Xẁda occurred in the south as well as the east. Population in the Îpŵr heartland grew ever higher, leading to ceaseless development in the canyons and arable land of the altiplano. The pastoral Hâidzòêla also pushed outwards, riding north and west around the Sàs and encroaching on the last highland territories still dominated by hunter-gatherers. Land use also intensified in the obelisked ancestral pastures near the Îpŵr. At times, some areas were overgrazed but generally the population was regulated by the capacity of the land. Migration to the new pastures north and west of the core territories was more common by far than crowding the fields of obelisks.

    The pastoralists were not alone in facing the pressures of increased population. The farming communities along the Îpŵr grew quickly. So did the area cultivated, soon reaching beyond the narrow stretches of flat land and initial terraces of the stable canyons and into the weaker formations of loess soil and forests of the upper river and its tributaries. Farmers cleared vast tracts of land, which displaced the hunter-gatherer communities previously sheltered by the forests. These people, plunged into poverty by the loss of their homes, generally integrated themselves into the cultural and economic fabric of the Hâidzòêla cities as a new class of urban beggars.

    Another side effect of the agricultural expansion was erosion. For the first centuries after the opening of the new areas to agriculture, this was mostly localized. However, the environmental effects from the removal of the roots which had once held the hillsides together worsened with time.

    The growing pains which gripped Îpŵr civilization were, at times, exacerbated by the arrival in the south of a new group of nomadic pastoralists. Called the Gezd, they led a largely peaceful coexistence with their Hâidzòêla counterparts. They had different customs, and paid their respects not to wandering Sages but to spirits from both beneath the ground on which they rode and from the storms and sky over their heads. They kept largely to themselves, and for the most part stayed away from traditionally Hâidzòêla lands, but their existence closed the south to peaceful pastoral expansion. The result was that some Hâidzòêla bands, instead of heading south around the Sàs, wormed their way through the passes south of the Tarshuaren (Tarxẁn, in their tongue) to the littoral.

    They picked their way down from the highlands a few decades after the final fall of Amaruatan. The llama, vicuña, and alpaca they brought were ill suited to the new region, and forced their former masters to find new livelihoods. The horsemen of the Hâidzòêla did not have the mounts of the Kelrang, but were riders unrivaled in skill. They owed no allegiance to Aarukuaten, but found their way blocked by a number of sparsely populated colonies. With tales of the riches of the east in their heads, and spears and bows in their hands, they put the vassal kingdom of Amatyar to sword and flame, then rode southeast along old Aarukuaten trails to find more cities to raid.

    Unlike the vengeful, bloodthirsty river conquerors to their north, the Hâidzòêla newcomers were painfully mindful of their limited numbers and the limited numbers of their prey. Amatyar was burned, but the lords of the quiet colonies of Entemashten, Arsaventas, Harat, and Haidentar retained their lives. They did not retain their freedom.

    The Hâidzòêla of the plains thought their old name unbecoming of their new nature as masters of men. The mountains, now dark with the horizon instead of the dominant landscape feature, inspired their name. In time, its mention struck fear into the more exposed Iluterié communities. The Oichí Dírcha (their language already changed by their new surroundings and conquests), the people of the dark lands, grew infamous for their raids. The slaves and loot they took kept their principal cities of Entemashten, Arsaventas, Haratyar, and Haiden alive, if stagnant.

    In earlier years and brighter times, the temple armies of Aarukuaten might have marched. They might even have retaken the far-flung lands now occupied by the horsemen of the high steppe. But the fall of the southern colonies was just a symptom of the fatal ill that gripped the entire Aarukuaten kingdom.
  4. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    The vale of the Atsu’sen was never a fantastic place to support what was, for a time, the most densely populated province of the known world. While Ilyanden and his successors grew the population ever higher, with quinoa and horses from the Hâidzòêla and native policies of farm expansion and irrigation, the system was not sustainable. The farmlands expanded to overtake the forest, until only a few patches of the ancient Marugae lands kept the pines which marked the valley when the Iluki had first arrived.

    Erosion was localized, for a time. Then, it was widespread. Yields fell, first in only the oldest and most intensely cultivated patches. Then, they fell everywhere. Salinization and depletion wreaked havoc on the delicate food supply of Aarukuaten. People starved, first in only the lowest urban classes. Then they all starved together.

    Those who could fled. Some were permitted to settle in Vechi. Many more tried to move on and were slaughtered. Some managed to cross the mountains to the last intact colony, Ilyandaren. Many more died in the crossing. Some managed to eke out an existence from the ruined soil around Atsu’sen. Many more died trying.

    Many saw the west as their only hope. Those who moved west found the Càndaî Republic grudgingly acceptive, but unable to sustain the entire refugee body. Most who successfully settled occupied themselves with small-time farming or odd jobs. A select few came to fancy banditry.

    A profession completely counter to the economic interests of the Tsandar hills as a whole but simultaneously quite profitable, the bandits were forced out of the Republic almost as soon as they began operations. The disparate bands, pushed north by determined opposition from Hâidzòêla steppe horsemen and Càndaî militias, coalesced under a series of warlords and widened the scope of their raids.

    They spoke a pidgin of the lake tongues and the native dialects of the Xẁda, and were known to their marks as the Argai. They worshipped a corrupted form of now-derelict Aaruism, especially the god of battle, Onkala. Out of necessity, they learned to ride, and attacked locations as far south as the canyon networks north of mbar. To the north, a few of the motley bands made their way down to the northern littoral, and harassed the tsélu-dwellers. They were never a serious threat to trade, however, as their numbers were seriously limited by a lack of infrastructure and food, and the tendency to unite every faction on the Xẁda against them.

    Aarukuaten fell not to foreign invasion, but to the environment and the infighting which scarcity brought them.

    Their legacy, however, was carried on. To the east of the now clouded, silted waters of the much-shrunken Atsu-sen, the overpopulated terraces of Ilyandaren survived the evaporation of the power of their namesake. Marugae communities approached the acceptance of Aarugae in Aarukuaten, but the two were never quite flush. The lands north of the mountain lake were never as intensely cultivated as the fields around Aarutar, and a few communities lived on as they had for thousands of years. While production suffered immensely, tin and silver continued to flow down a thousand hidden mountain paths to Candar and to the littoral. The centralized, hierarchical institution of Aaruism propagated by Ilyanden died with the kingdom, starved with its farms. But the gods lived on in the hearts and minds of people from the Îpŵr canyons to the lower stretches of the Utsuni and Iluterié. The temples which honored them did, too. The sacred and now desolate Vale of Atsu’sen became a land of scattered monasteries. Separated by kilometers of ruins and emptiness, it was in the halls of the Aaruist monks that the calendar of Ilyanden and the records and writings of Aarukuaten survived. To survive is not to be known. They lay there, forgotten by the known world, to be discovered by some people of the future.

    The consequences of overfarming led to similarly dramatic outcomes among the Hâidzòêla. Calamity did not embrace them, but political and cultural trends were irrevocably altered.

    The problems of erosion and flooding, at first localized, rocketed downriver. Canyon walls, and the weak terraces which grew like mold upon them, came down in great landslides, and added their bulk and silt to the flow of the Îpŵr. This accumulated downstream, and the mouth of the river clogged with the eroded canyonsides of the watershed. mbar, one of the greatest urban centers on the Xẁda and the closest thing to a port on the shores of Lake Sàs, was gravely threatened. The construction of the great reed boats of the altiplano lake, one of the city’s most important industries, shifted its locus to the shores of the great lake itself. mbar survived on commerce and papyrus making, but unhappily.

    Upriver, the situation grew dire. Some communities, threatened with annihilation by floods and collapsing hillsides, uplifted and fled. Now refugees, they made their way to the Sàs and there began to search for a new home. Their hunt took them far to the west, even to the western shores of the lake. There they settled, and formed small communities which carried on like the lake communities farther east: seasonal farming and fishing, and some commerce. On the western shores of the Sàs, they found a river flowing to the sunset and fertile land by its sides, where they rested and founded a new agricultural center: Dokòr.

    Back east, the Hâidzòêla cities began to expand their agricultural bases once more. This time, however, the terraces were stone. Floodwalls protected cities and smaller settlements downriver. The Xẁda, now proven a resilient center of civilization, entered what some called a golden age.

    The calendar, centered around the sacred number four, spread throughout the Îpŵr and Sàs. Writing, previously little more than a syllabic recording device for the oral traditions of the eight Sages of the high plains, became a medium for the craftiest of the region’s poets to speak their minds. Libraries diffused throughout the Hâidzòêla sphere. Although the first tiny example had been founded nearly a century prior, around HE (Hâidzòêla Era) 3350 in mbar, more appeared, from the grandeur of collections in glorious, mighty, and enormous Cèd to the rustic charm of local repositories in Dokòr and the lumber town of Jwân. Music and textiles, sculpture and architecture all rose to new levels of refinement. A bowed string instrument, travelling with the nomads who created it from the northwest back to the core, and the marvellous cloth pieces of the city of Sŵcwpà entranced travellers and locals alike.

    But all good things come to an end.
  5. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    A new debate raged through the streets of the great cultural, commercial, and industrial hub of Cèd in the closing months of 3462. The question was one of security. Naîdì, the smaller and clearly inferior city to the east, was plotting the downfall of their larger and more benevolent western brother. By large majorities, the representatives of the quadrants of Cèd voted to preempt the malicious expansion of the upriver terraces with invasion.

    The warriors of Cèd easily occupied the smaller city and installed new governors, representatives of the victorious forces, to safeguard the republican ideals of the Hâidzòêla in the city of fallen morals. By the time the fighting strength of the largest Xẁda metropolis returned to their homes, the leaders of Cèd already spoke of a new threat: the treachery of Jwân.

    The rise of the Cèd Hegemony shocked the citizens of mbar and Sŵcwpà. Those of Jwân shared the feeling, but they were occupied before they could mobilize. Downriver, however, the armies of the eastern Sàs prepared for war, alongside their brethren from the lower reaches of the Îpŵr.

    The coalition had scarcely been formed when the forces of Cèd placed Sŵcwpà under siege. The city lacked walls, and the threat of boulders placed on the hills around the city snuffed whatever fire burned in the hearts of the would be defenders. The great weavers were spared. mbar was now alone in the struggle for the Hâidzòêla core.

    The city was desparate. First, they tried to settle matters diplomatically: Cèd refused. Next, they called for aid from Dokòr and the pastorialists: the two groups were uninterested or unwilling to anger the four-city union. Finally, they turned to the battlefield, but were outnumbered, surrounded, and defeated. In an act of mercy, the warriors of Cèd let their beaten foes keep their arms and their lives. But again, the officials of the defeated city received no such special treatment. They were deposed and replaced. Their supporters scattered: some to Dokòr, others with the pastorialists, and still others to Càndaî.

    Dokòr could have been next, but the rulers of the Cèd Hegemony justifiably thought of it as a primitive agricultural backwater. Càndaî, while wealthy and nearby, wasn’t truly Hâidzòêla, and besides, was protected by strong alliances with the pastorialists.

    The Îpŵr, the center of Hâidzòêla civilization, was Cèd.

    However, they could not truly claim dominion over the pastorialists. The three ethnic groups, Gezd, Hâidzòêla, and Argai, retained a degree of distance from the politicking of the agricultural peoples. This did not mean that some of that politicking touched them: the Hegemony, furious with Argai raids, organized an alliance with the Xẁda Hâidzòêla to drive them away.

    The Argai were new to the art of riding, and to horses in general. In comparison to the seasoned riders they now faced, they were inferior. The combined forces of the three most powerful groups on the northern Xẁda drove them farther and farther north. As their territory shrunk, the raiders who remained were faced with slaughter or flight. They crossed the mountains west of the Rawn and descended onto the northern littoral.

    The Argai attempted to live there as they had before on the altiplano. They struck !-tséluhi caravans moving east, and attempted to hit Kelrang trains to the west. Sometimes they succeeded, sometimes they failed. The Argai survived, though. Their numbers, previously small, were now almost dangerously low. However, this meant that they escaped the ire of the most organized polities in the new region; organization and centralization on the northern littoral were rare to begin with.

    The exception to the rule was the Grinwe. The under the advice of the foremost ketrie, and in the interest of internal stability and peace, the gans of the Grinwe lands organized into a council structure in Kedring. The ganerrat was held in a beautiful building, decorated with stone and exquisite works of carved wood. To head the assembly, the gans selected from their number a rog. The rog was the highest judge in the southern Fethandal, and ensured that law and peace were the rule in the Grinwe sphere.

    The institution required some adjustment from the gans, and interpersonal rivalries were not removed from the equation. A brief civil war was prompted by the selection of one Rog Rigan. Two gans, Egan and Lother, raised bands of troops in opposition. They were defeated in battle and slain, but Rigan forbade the complete destruction of their holdings. Their families were allowed to enter into exile in the new northern territories of the Grinwe with a cartload each of their belongings.

    The Fethandal, pioneered throughout the period by enterprising Grinwe lambsmen, was one of two major population outlets. Even as the herder-bandits grazed their sheep and gathered dyes further and further north (and were occasionally joined by gans and farmers from the south in small farming communities), the lower Rawn was a hotbed of development. Waves of settlers and merchants flowed to the riverbanks to grow grain.

    The other principal occupation of the Rawn Grinwe was trade.

    According to legend, the hero Gram had been the first to cross the Rawn. He swam, with a rope in tow, at a place known as Gramgolt. Centuries on, Gramgolt was the site of the great markets of the Grinwe and Kelrang. Rather than take the time to travel all the way to Kedring, merchants brought famous blue cloth and copper of the Grinwe to Gramgolt to exchange for the silver and spices of the western deserts.

    Gramgolt became the first true Grinwe city. Kedring, for all of its sacrity and cultural significance (and blue textiles), was nothing to the great population and economic output of Gramgolt. But the ketrie did not recognize the city, or bless it with a gan.

    Around the time Hâidzòêla terraces slid down the mountainsides that held them to the churning rivers below, a Grinwe merchant named Trome crossed the Rawn and set out for Kedring. As many of his profession did, he paid in silver for mercenary !-tséluhi guards, despite the brief journey. The lambsmen could never be fully trusted. In the priestly city of the Grinwe, he gave offerings, clearly to the gods and not their priests, of great bags of silver and spices.

    The ketrie, impressed by his generous contributions, named him the first gran of the Grinwe: a city lord.

    The Grinwe were not the only people to flock to the banks of the Rawn. The !-tséluhi, ever eager to push into the western grasslands, soon encountered their desert counterparts. The Kelrang, forced east by pressures in their distant homeland, came into conflict with the westbound riders. Tales filtered east of great battles of thunder, hundreds of horsemen clashing in maelstroms of colored cloth and weapons.

    North of the battles, the Kelrang successfully settled along the Rawn. Their numbers there were small, but grew steadily. And even though they fled the lands west, they retained the trade links. Spices still flowed to eastern markets through the Gramgolt - !-tséluhi - Mirrepon route.

    The !-tséluhi, too, successfully expanded elsewhere. To the southeast, mercenary work among the infighting Némori city states brought them to the Kadettar. They clashed on occasion with relocated bands of Kadet’st. Generally, though, they built their tsélu and managed their herds, and fought only when contracted to do so.

    To the north, the !-tséluhi found the coast. Along the great river east of the Lié, some made the transition to agricultural lords. The labor for their fields, curiously, came not from their own population but from migrants from the northern seas.

    The Kit, chased from their homeland by overfarming and overpopulation, migrated en masse to the southern coast of the north sea. In some places, synthesis cultures formed, combining characteristics of the Kit and the !-tséluhi. These often raided the granary-forts raised by other such polities, and in some cases were close enough to the coast to fish.

    Many of the goods produced in these communities made their way downstream to a group of Bezebek trade outposts at the mouth of the river. By this time, similar outposts lined the coasts from the Fethandal to the inlets north of the Shando. They tended to be small things: little farms around fortresses with sea access. However, they focused the commercial activity in the regions they served, and spread Bezebek ideals of urbanization and agriculture where they were practical.

    Mirrepon, too, saw refinement in religion and architecture. Supported by agricultural expansion up the Lié and the wealth of the north, the Mirrepon kings established great prayer booths of monumental scale, in which to be marvelled at and to marvel at the wheel of the sun and the moon.

    The Bezebek heartland was the area most affected by the Kit exodus. They formed a class of laborers and beggars in the streets of Mirrepon, although some were able to get ahead. Kit boatbuilders began to serve the merchant fleets of the Bezebek, greatly aiding the refinement of their vessels, and Kit fishermen helped bring new foods to the tables of the merchant elite.

    On the Oddukhet, the other maritime powers of the cradle largely continued as they had in past centuries.

    In both their southern bases and seasonal trading colonies, the Juakeh synthesized with the natives. In the south, the tribal Kanadim of the peninsula intermarried with such readiness that puritan sects began to denounce and even attack mixed-heritage families. The high councils of the Kanadim tribes did little to step in or punish such aggression, but the Kanadim ta Kanadim sects (as the radicals were called) were fringe elements of society.

    The most distinct Kanadim innovation imported by the Juakeh was tattooing. Using two colors of ink, “painted” Juakeh and Kanadim warriors and merchants were soon common sights throughout the ports of the eastern sea.

    On Yanga, life continued much as it had. New trade routes opened to the north, trading bronze for lumber with Elka bands living on the north coasts of the Oddukhet. As less tin flowed east from the Zuréna and the Tarshuaren, tin and gold mines in the north of the great island were exploited with increased vigor.

    Some Ju merchants spread tales of a grand stone temple raised in the Kanadim hills to the south. Its name, Kana, was spoken in whispers. While it did not hold the great cultural and religious significance of the Kassa labyrinth, it was said that it was a thing of similar grandeur.

    They told tales, too, of a violently divided island to their north. The Ottre Padeen people who lived there had consumed almost all its resources in efforts to build up forces to slaughter one another. Although the Ju occasionally hired bands from its shores to do mercenary work, they largely let it be.

    The Némori had never been satisfied with the situation to the east. The gap between the Némo and the Utsuni meant that large volumes of trade were lost to the sea peoples of the Oddukhet, and that the Némori heartland was divided in two.

    The obvious solution was a canal between the rivers, but that would necessitate the marshalling of thousands of laborers for what could be generations. The profits, though, could be beyond imagination. And if there was surplus labor anywhere, it was the Sisters.

    The project began shortly after the founding of Vechi. Workers, drawn by atjinu promising shares of the profits to their children if they did not live to see completion, dredged and drained. They often died.

    But they gained ground. Slowly, decade by decade, the channel traveled south. Atjinu locking workers to the project filled warehouse after warehouse, and the graves alongside expanded to cover square miles.

    And then it was completed. The Canal of Eriani was not a wondrous, decorated building like some of the other great sites of the world. It was, however, supremely practical. Trade and colonists rushed south like never before. The halves of the Némori were united at last.

    But united is a relative term.
  6. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    The Cèd Hegemony was, in a sense, united. Four of the five constituent cities were under occupation, ruled by officials sent from Cèd itself. The interests of the great city at the empire’s heart dictated the actions of the polity as a whole. Those interests did not always align with those of the other cities.

    In a slight to mbar, Sàs trade was stopped at the very mouth of the Îpŵr, and Cèd merchants got their pick of the goods. Sŵcwpà was forced to sell their textiles at Cèd markets before all others. The lumber of Jwân was appropriated and used to construct mighty walls around the great capital. Naîdì metalworkers were relocated to the forges of Cèd by force. But despite these offenses, and growing irritation on the parts of the pastoralists and Càndaî, any resistance remained disorganized and generally useless.

    From its formation onwards, the Hegemony’s staunchest ally in conquered territories had been the farmers. After the merchants who made Cèd into a commercial hub, and the metalworkers and artisans who refined its culture and gave it goods to trade around the Xẁda and farther east, the canyon farmers were the ones who had made the city great. Throughout the empire, agricultural development was a priority, and stone was brought from quarries in Jwân to terrace sites all over the Îpŵr watershed. Cèd understood that, should that base of support falter, their enemies abroad could enjoy popular support in a campaign to kill their Hegemony.

    Cèd fell because of a stray yak.

    What horses were to the altiplano pastoralists, the mountain bovines were to the canyon agricultural populations. At first, the incident was nothing more than a spat between a farmer in the Naîdì sphere and one in the vicinity of Cèd. A yak, missing from the herd of the eastern farmer, was believed to be found in an outlying pasture of the western one. Words escalated to blows, blows to bands of archers, until a troop of Cèd horsemen moved in to restore order. While disappointing a farmer was a grave risk, alienating the populace of the Hegemony’s capital was far worse. The yak stayed in Cèd, but its name was spread up and down the Îpŵr in reference to the corruption and bias of the agents of that city.

    Before the “theft” of the yak, the laws and regulations of Cèd were begrudgingly obeyed. Now even the farmers flaunted them. Especially in mbar, the tale seemed to be proof of the imbalance of the Hegemony system. In secret, the leaders of the native populace sent for their expatriated citizens now living in Dokòr and elsewhere abroad.

    The pastoralists sensed the change in the canyonlands. Perpetually on edge since the sudden and harsh takeover nearly forty years prior, and with halcyon memories of the golden days of decentralization past, they gave tacit support to the stirrings of revolt in mbar. So too did the Tsandar Republic, and by extension the northern nomads.

    The whispers of mobilization in mbar led to more subtle nods from the other occupied cities. Even Naîdì did what they could to help the plotters, despite being held by Cèd on a leash tighter than any other.

    mbar declared independence from the Cèd Hegemony in HE 3498. Soldiers seized the trade posts on the Sàs and took captive the Cèd officials sent to rule them. The former leadership made a triumphant return, sailing to the old docks on great boats of reed to the tune of a thousand beating drums and singing voices.

    The return of their once-vanquished rival understandably enraged Cèd, and their army marched as soon as it was ready.

    Meanwhile, in the far east of the river region, Jwân declared independence. The small garrison was overwhelmed by the might of a popular uprising. The leaders in Cèd ignored them, though, as the cosmopolitan trade hub on the great Sàs was more threat than a lumber backwater ever could be.

    The Cèd army passed through Sŵcwpà unhindered. By the time they were a day’s march from the city of cloths, though, it was independent once more. Supported by the population due an agricultural hub, and trapped between the army of the Hegemony and its very capital, the mobilized forces of the star of the Hâidzòêla cities pressed on towards their objective.

    The secession of Sŵcwpà marked the start of true hostilities. mbar pickets launched ambushes, then fell back. Such attacks were constant, but neither side had the horses to make any particular encounter decisive. While the Cèd army was delayed, it had too much mass for a small skirmish band to stop it.

    The decisive battle was joined at the confluence of the Îpŵr and a smaller tributary. The troops of mbar lacked the stately favor of those of Cèd, not to mention the ample numbers, but they fought bravely nonetheless.

    The decisive blow was struck by the horsemen of the steppe, who threw their weight into the rear of the advancing Cèd armies and routed them. The prisoners were spared, and the offensive ended, but the war continued.

    Safe behind great walls of Jwân lumber, Cèd refused to give up dreams of dominion. Naîdì declared independence with the first news of the mbar victory, but even the combined armies of the revolting city states could not overcome the fortifications of the greatest Hâidzòêla city. In the end, it was smith from Naîdì who gave the victory to the allies.

    In the hills above Cèd, he deployed a weapon new to the cradle. Torsion catapults rained stones onto the city below. Within a day, weapons were laid down. The Hegemony was over.

    While it was agreed by almost all that domination by one city over the others was a failed policy, the leaders of mbar proclaimed benefits in union. With representatives from the pastoralist communities and from Dokòr, as well as the five core cities, the Hâidzòêla came together for the common good as a confederacy.

    This too, was united, in its own way.

    It has been a thousand years since the rizu first sailed up the Némo. Cultures have grown like vines up the wall of history, empires have risen and fallen, and the wheels of time have turned over whatever lies in their path countless times and more. The sun now burns bright and low in the sky.

    But does it chase away the dark or light the world on fire?
  7. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
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    Némori (Thlayli):
    Population: Higher than Bob Marley
    Economy: Yuuuuuuuuuuuge. The largest agricultural and manufacturing hub in the world, specializing in metals, lacquerware, and ceramics. Also serves as a trade hub, moving goods from the Lié and Mirrepon down the Sisters and the eastern littoral, and takes goods from the highlands. Controls several multinational populations, e.g. Kadet’st, Hebut’st, and !-tséluhi, which serve as markets and as mercenaries.
    Military: Unrivaled. Farming unions contribute relatively untrained levies, for mass. Elite groups of rizu are armored in full bronze and act as shock infantry. Forces are supplemented by large companies of contracted Kadet’st and !-tséluhi cavalry. No oceangoing fleet, but complete naval domination of the riverways.

    Bezebek (Spryllino):
    Population: Enormous. Significant Kit minority in northern urban centers.
    Economy: Enormous. The largest trading link between the northwestern littoral and the eastern. Controls all commerce in the northern sea. Trade is supplemented by a robust agricultural base along the Lié, as well as fishing in the northern sea.
    Military: Powerful. Significant infantry levies, some cavalry levies. Supplemented by mercenary !-tséluhi cavalry. Navy has improved with Kit influence, and is now seaworthy if not particularly combat oriented: ships are mostly transports, large canoes with sails.

    Hâidzòêla (North King):
    Population: Enormous.
    Economy: Enormous. Large domestic production capacity, massive pastoralist range and significant agricultural production. Minerals in wide availability, particularly salt, silver, and copper. Somewhat hindered by dearth of trading partners: the collapse of Atsu’sen civilization has greatly hindered trade with the eastern littoral. Most trade domestic.
    Military: Dominant. Agricultural populations muster skilled and advanced light infantry militias and even some professional units, honed by several recent civil wars. Pastoralist cavalry are perhaps the best riders in the known world, if lacking in good warhorses, and are fantastic skirmishers and light troops. Superior siege engineers: they are alone among cradle civilizations in their use of catapults.

    Population: Moderate.
    Economy: Large. Some agriculture, mining, and pastoralism. Main driver is trade: linking Marugae goods to Hâidzòêla markets, and vice versa.
    Military: Minor, with reservations. Infantry militias and pastoralist cavalry levies on Hâidzòêla models. However, has a strong alliance with northern Hâidzòêla pastoral populations, and would likely be able to call upon immense cavalry hordes if attacked.

    Oíchi Dírcha (Masada):
    Population: Below average. Significant slave population, of Aarugae and Némori captured on raids, but most people of mixed heritage.
    Economy: Minor. Mostly subsistence herding and agriculture, supplemented by raiding of Némori settlements.
    Military: Minor. Decaying light cavalry tradition brought from the Xẁda. Farmer levies.

    Ilyandaren (Jehoshua):
    Population: Minor
    Economy: Minor. Some trade over mountains, and with Némori. Mostly subsistence agriculture, but even this is difficult in the harsh terrain.
    Military: Insignificant. Tiny numbers of old-school Aaruist temple guards. Farmer levies, usually effective through their mass and numbers, have neither. No cavalry.

    Marugae (Terrance888):
    Population: Minor
    Economy: Moderate. Operate main trade routes over the Tarshuaren and Zuréna. Mine silver, lead, and the tin that feeds the bronze industry in both the highlands and the littoral.
    Military: Minor. Some shapers are still puttering around, doing things. Mostly defensive farmer levies, aided by terrain but greatly hindered by low population.

    Kontur (Lord_Iggy):
    Population: Moderate
    Economy: Moderate. Close relations, even synthesis, between the Juakeh and the Kittu’st mean that they benefit greatly from the trade the southerners bring through the Oddukhet. Large fishing base. In the Kadettar, the last lords unbound by atjinu rule over farms on the Ararata and raid Shando and Némori settlements.
    Military: Noteworthy. Kadet’st horsemen are synonymous with “cavalry” throughout the eastern littoral, even if they aren’t amazing in comparison to Kelrang or Hâidzòêla riders. Synthesis and connections to the Juakeh bring the Kittu’st bronze arms and armor and connections to one of the great naval powers of the cradle.

    Population: Minor, but growing. Ethnic subgroup within the southern Xẁda pastoralists
    Economy: Minor. Pastoralists and miners on the southern Xẁda. Some commercial activity, bringing goods north to Hâidzòêla markets.
    Military: Minor. Basically the same thing as the Hâidzòêla pastoralists, with different appearance, more reliance on the lance, and fewer numbers.

    Population: Minor, but unknown numbers living across western deserts
    Economy: Significant. Agricultural base along the Rawn, as well as herding. Massive involvement in trade: supply rare spices, metals, and the best horses in the cradle to the northern littoral and by extension the known world.
    Military: Noteworthy. Skilled riders on large, fast, powerful horses. The closest thing to shock cavalry in the world. Capable of going toe to toe with more numerous !-tséluhi riders and chariots and coming out on top. Limited by small population.

    Grinwe (The Meanest Guest):
    Population: Average.
    Economy: Major. Entry point for Kelrang goods into northern markets. Sole source of strong blue dye, most commonly in form of dyed woolens, in the cradle. Major supplier of metals. Significant agricultural base along the Rawn.
    Military: Noteworthy. Mostly levied farmers, but limited numbers of armored and trained gan warrior elites. Frequent utilization of !-tséluhi and, and far more rarely, Kelrang mercenary cavalry.

    Population: Average.
    Economy: Significant. Few products that are not found elsewhere, but responsible for the transportation of the goods of the west to the markets of Mirrepon due to the lack of major ports in the west. What the Kadet’st horsemen are to the eastern littoral, the !-tséluhi are to the north, and many polities and peoples employ their cavalry in mercenary roles. Noteworthy agricultural base along eastern rivers, and massive pastoralist base across their territory.
    Military: Powerful. Literally hordes of dependable cavalry, as well as some chariots. Some archer companies from ethnic Kit communities in the east. Serve as mercenaries across cradle.

    Kanadim (Maiagaia):
    Population: Above average.
    Economy: Moderate. Heavy integration with Juakeh, and associated trade networks. Significant agricultural and pastoralist base (sheep, goats, horses), often traded to Juakeh settlements.
    Military: Noteworthy. Tribal levies include light cavalry and archers.

    Population: Average.
    Economy: Remarkable. Juakeh ships bring goods all over the Oddukhet, and markets are permanently stocked in settlements ringing the coastlines. Integration and mutual acceptance with Kontu’st and Kanadim means outposts are kept safe and food supplies are largely assured. Vital supplier of tin to bronze forges of the eastern littoral and the seas.
    Military: Powerful. Well armed and armored foot troops, similar to rizu. Powerful navy, one only two true naval powers on the Oddukhet.

    Ju (Azale):
    Population: Above average.
    Economy: Remarkable. Timber and metal suppliers to the eastern coasts. Less of a permanent market foothold, compared to the Juakeh, and fierce competition exists between the two. Robust agricultural base on Yanga.
    Military: Powerful. Navy is only rivaled by Juakeh. Ground troops are comparatively weaker. Occasional use of Ottre Padeen mercenaries.

    Ottre Padeen (Overthrown):
    Population: Meagre
    Economy: Miniscule. Island is ravaged by constant warfare. Resources, mostly wood to begin with, are almost nonexistant. Subsistence agriculture is the rule, not the exception, and any surpluses go towards feeding career soldiers. It’s almost a wonder how the island hasn’t killed itself off yet.
    Military: Minor. Divided between a dozen minor factions, soldiers are poorly equipped and barely fed. Constant warfare means those that survive are fairly experienced, but also means that no faction is ever able to build up respectable strength.

    Kit (bombshoo):
    Population: Meagre. Significant expatriate communities in the !-tséluhi and the Bezebek.
    Economy: Minor. Salt production and fishing supplemented by some raiding and trade around the northern sea.
    Military: Noteworthy. Capable coastal raiders, and could probably perform respectably in a theoretical naval conflict with the Bezebek.

    Elka (inthesomeday):
    Population: Minor.
    Economy: Moderate. Trading and raiding with the Shando (textiles and pottery) and trade with the Ju (textiles, pottery, timber). Some mercenary activity.
    Military: Levies of archers and spearmen. Some raider bands. Some mercenaries serve with the Shando, Bezebek, or Ju.

    Shando (thomas_berubeg):
    Population: Large.
    Economy: Large. Intense agriculture along the Ararata aided by construction of megalithic dams. Trade with Kontu’st, Némori, and especially Bezebek. Mining and agriculture in hills west of Ararata.
    Military: Noteworthy. Numerous farmer and tribal levies. Occasional employment of Elka and Kadet’st mercenaries.

    Population: Miniscule.
    Economy: Miniscule. Based on raiding and what subsistence pastoralism and farming angry neighbors will allow.
    Military: Weak. Enough to sneak in and raid some neighboring settlements, but cavalry forces are unskilled and frequently hounded and defeated by neighboring forces. At this point they survive mostly because they are no more than a minor nuisance, rather than a threat, and the effort it would take to wipe them isn’t justified by the potential reward from doing so.
  8. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012

    Wow, this was a long time in coming! I hope everyone enjoys it, even those who aren't playing.

    A few things: Masada, you did get in this update. Sorry if it isn't exactly what you had envisioned, but I tried to map together what I could.

    Besides that, I'd appreciate if people take the helm of some of the various NPCs. New cultures are more than equally welcome too, however.

    It'll probably be a few days before everything is up to date on all the posts, so for the time being this is the authoritative source (this is made more difficult by spotty Internet where I currently am).

    Orders are due September 4th, 12:00AM EST
  9. inthesomeday

    inthesomeday Immortan

    Dec 12, 2015
    Great update!
  10. North King

    North King blech

    Jan 2, 2004
    Wonderful update! Ork mentioned that he wanted me to link my orders as an example (I swear!), so:

    Orders, Turn 1

    There were also some extensive notes on migration and development in my Cultural Compendium (which I'm keeping up to date).
  11. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    I did tell this to NK! His orders, Thayli's orders, and TheMeanestGuest's orders this turn were fantastic. I'd appreciate if they post links to them, or copies, in thread as examples. This is completely up to them though.

    There are two cool innovative projects I'm going to try to cook up over the next couple of days, but no spoilers....;) Those will be posted in-thread when they're ready.
  12. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    Awesome update, from what I've been able to read from work. Really excited to write more for Némori.
  13. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Sep 25, 2009
    excellent update. The narrative is great and from my perspective as player of the Aarugae, while the environmental collapse was unfortunate, most of the main goals I set out were achieved, so its all good. Anyways two questions


    1: what timeframe are we looking at for the next turnset (300 years, 500 years?)

    2: Is it possible for you to put out a religious map? It might be useful for other people given that Aaruism (the religion) has spread so far. If its troublesome no need to do it of course.
  14. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

    Jun 7, 2005
    Wowee, what a show! Time to start digesting all of this.
  15. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

    Dec 29, 2005
    thanks ork for fitting me in.
  16. ork75

    ork75 Prince

    Mar 13, 2012
    Excellent questions.

    1. 100-500 years is the number that's popped into my head. It'll probably be towards the longer end, maybe another 300.

    2. That is something I have considered, and just might be working on (with a few cool, new twists ;)). The thing is that most religions are cultural or ethnic, at this point in time. Tropes are shared between regions, for sure, but I don't think there's a case where a culture has completely accepted another religion intact **yet**.
  17. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    Most of those southern Iluterié cities without names on the city map will probably just use Némorized versions of the pre-war, pre-colonization Aarugae locations. Onemakatsen -> Onemakatsé, Marutar -> Marutari, and Dadgar -> Tsatsikaré.

    I'll rename some of the others too, but that helps you fill things in.
  18. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Sep 25, 2009
    I did set out Aaruism to be fine with incorporating the local gods (and sages), so I don't think cut-and-paste adoption or centralised hierarchy is really relevant as compared to general co-option of the religious paradigm (ie temple religion, and the key concepts of gesa/wheel, Shaarug, Enaaru as supreme cosmic entity) in that case (in the same manner that Hinduism is a bunch of related religions classified together due to key concepts shared between Vaishnavism and say Shaktism or Saivism).

    Nonetheless, whatever floats your boat.
  19. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

    Jun 2, 2005
    In the desert
    You're more likely to be incorporated than doing the incorporating given the circumstances, Jeho. :p

    Ilyanden (Iliani) is probably more likely to be worshipped (or feared) in Némori mythology, and his character will probably be conflated with that of the demon king in the Vetarali. Portrayals probably vary depending on the poetic circle.
  20. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Sep 25, 2009
    Do we currently have Aaruism with Nemori characteristics, or Nemori Traditional Religion with Aaruist characteristics? Chicken or Egg? false premise? a matter for the philosophers (gm)? At any rate, lets just quietly lengthen that god-list you have to parse through eh :p


    Spoiler :



    Supreme God

    Enaaru: Supreme Being, The Creator, Font of Being, Source and Origin of Gesa.

    a) the four great gods.

    Senvirai: The deity of progression, growth, and life.
    Dhotar: The deity of destruction, decay and death
    Authundir: The deity of time and space
    Enaris: The deity of matter and substance.

    these deities are believed to directly govern the fundamental forces of the world, and mediate the fundamental laws of gesa which proceed from Enaaru throughout the universe.

    b) the heavenly gods

    Arsatos: the conveyer of truth, father of wisdom
    Harenis: the one who reveals purpose, guide to understanding
    Maro'sen: The defender of righteousness, judge of sin
    Asenamaru: The defender of correct practice.
    Pheinas: the bringer of victory, smiter of the wicked
    Athe'ainas: The defender of purity, protector of the innocent
    Harakuvinen: The enkindler of devotion, light of hope and faith.
    Taruke': the granter of immortality, gatekeeper of the high heavens.
    Takutsuerin: the bestower of power and dominion, trickster god and lord of slaves.
    Vahishte: The conveyer of sacrifice, priest and messenger of the high heavens. Lord of oracles.
    Urizin: He who conveys law, god of logic and conventional reason
    Elyenainen: lady of inspiration, goddess of the imagination
    Vash: dooms man of the gods, Alloter of lives.
    Adravedas: god of wishes and desires
    Sen'an: The pure one, embodiment of goodness
    O'senaris: The tactician, planner of battles, who guides the faithful in the righteous battle
    Heka'se: The god of magic
    Mamorate'sen: the archivist, god of memory and timekeeper of the past
    Nemu'ainen: the goddess of rest, respite and sleep
    Namo: the god of dreams
    Ainta'shem: the god who enacts the vengeance of heaven
    Dorovand: The wise old man god, sage of heaven.
    Ainye Ruath'e: the goddess of fortune.
    Eruvan: the hero god, inspirer of the great
    Mara: the great mother
    Atare'ainara:the goddess of sovereignty and rule.
    Ain'heshte: the messenger of heaven.
    Yamukai: He who holds back the end, advocate of mortals and protector of the defenceless.
    Senaisen:god of holiness, embodiment and patron of that which is holy.
    Aurin: God of the afterlife, keeper of souls.
    Alatari: Goddess of mercy

    et al

    c) Earthly gods

    Genshotan: deity of earth and patron of commerce and wealth
    Aine Atsuen: guardian deity of the great lake (Atsu'sen)
    Vohu'ainde: the craftsman deity, spark of ingenuity.
    Vol'ashemde: The blacksmith god.
    Ainarye: the patron of beauty, spark of imagination.
    Onkala: Lord of battles, patron of warriors, brotherhood and courage.
    Talkevar: patron of farmers, cultivation, and agriculture
    Atashvar: The Father of waters
    Dirovenis: god of social harmony
    Tsunakash: god of storms
    Ioten: god of the airs and sky.
    Perona: goddess of rain, wife of Tsunakash
    Omelae: protector of family, children and marriage
    Tarmunas: god of instinct, patron of physical strength
    Faeron: god of mirth and festivity
    Lunaka: the wandering god.
    Nemo: goddess of the Nemo river
    Utsainen: goddess of the Utsuni river
    Ilumarinen: goddess of the Illumerie river
    Zurevonen: god of the Zurena mountains
    Eruton'en: patron of miners
    Maratha: goddess of spring and new growth
    Curuacae: the goddess of winter.
    Tai: the god of the sun, Lord of Summer
    Bharavar: god of the woods.
    Amarainvar: god of Amaruatan/Ve-ll
    Sentavirdas: guardian god of the Temple of Enaaru.
    Gakai: poet god
    Jor'munen: god of night and darkness.
    Aisen: god of the pole star
    Parandar: the fire god, burner of cities.
    Balena: the fire goddess, lady of the hearth
    Garana: goddess of weaving
    Apsara: sailor goddess.
    Roroke': the patron of fathers
    Adabal: Mountain god, tutelary god of Entemashten
    Tarakas: Tutelary god of the valley of Ilyandaren
    Dagar'ye: The god of fishermen
    Asamainon: the healer god, lord of physicians.
    Asamainen: the healer goddess, lady of surgeons. Twin sister of Asamainon.
    Apsune: god of boundaries.
    Garakis: god of the deep waters
    Kushoaden: god of Xwda
    Tara: guide of the dead, eater of corpses
    Ilyanden: civilisation god, the builder.
    Hibitonan: God of literature, writing and scholarship
    Ariyen: God of plain and field
    Temurai:The horseman god.
    Vikune: Herdsman god.
    Tawashe: goddess of floods
    Asaraia: goddess of snow and ice
    Ku'ekutel: Guardian god of the hidden way of the Illumerie.
    Salai: Singer of songs, the god of travellers.
    Mazdae: Moon god.
    Verethaiaras: God of the travelling star
    Aure'sen: god of dawn, giver of hope.
    Sornai'nen:goddess of the evening
    Telak: god of wine and drinking
    Vikintas: god of the hunt
    Venatora: goddess of youth and the young
    Iliathin: god of the marketplace.
    Borogar: God of caverns
    Feora: goddess of plantlife
    Ainyo'mare: Protector of those falsely accused.
    Amarantha: god of the court, patron of earthly justice.
    Kuro'se: God of ice and cold
    Achandainuen: Goddess of the morning star
    Orumata: The god of mourning.
    Timathi: the god of poverty
    Olea: Patron goddess of Haiden
    Rawnen: Goddess of the Rawn (Argae deity)
    Manyushai: God of the Moment

    et al

    d) Demons (to be exorcised)

    Aita: Demon of Ignorance
    Ophaenen: Demon of Hubris
    Talevar: Demon of wrath and wanton violence
    Ainelon: Demon of lust
    Manante: Demon of sloth
    Machaeris: Demon of Impiety and Sacrilege
    Thule'ye: Demon of Malice
    Ye'shuen: Demon of Lies
    Noru'ken: Demon of greed
    Teru'nes: Demon of Envy
    Masa'te: Demon of Scorn
    Ainares: Demon of Despair
    Babelona: Demon of revolution, the overthrow of tradition and order.
    Ao: Demon of Desolation and Ruin
    Terunas: Demon of Indifference
    Torumashta: Demon of Slaughter
    Nokuta: Demon of murder
    Rak'ushe: Demon of theft
    Orosan: Demon of forbidden knowledge
    Gures'an: The demonic hunter, bayer in the night
    Ka'hurine: The demon of gluttony
    Kamasuta: Demon of effeminacy in men, tempter of souls into weakness and cowardice.
    Oruke: The merciless demon
    Rukei'musa: The plague demon

    et al


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