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Thread: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

  1. #41
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Zaba-Tutul, the last and greatest chapter in 'Awali history, has been added to post #19. It's probably the longest blurb I've written for anything in about two years I've also taken the liberty of adding a framework for magic and a basic map of some magical minerals, all of which we have yet to properly name, to the second and third posts of this thread as well as the OP of the repository thread.

    Thoughts, everyone?

  2. #42
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Chelanibibi, an 'Awali rump state in the transitory period between the Bronze and Iron Ages, has been added after consulting with Perry over a shared history with the Suuvulk. Again, see post #19, page 1.

  3. #43
    The Mad Skylord's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Knauriiete Polloxokes

    Pre-Bronze Age

    Pre-Agriculture and Settlement

    The Knauriiete Polloxokes are believed to have first been a group of nomadic tribes who wandered from beyond the Great Desert, to eventually cross an ancient land bridge to their new homeland of Polloxokes. Knauriiete artifacts have been found as far north as the great plains of the Suuvulk - though they did not remain there for any significant amount of time. This could have been for any reason, from a lack of food to fearing the Golga, but regardless of the reason, the tribes migrated to Polloxokes.

    Upon their arrival to the island, the tribes discovered the great fruit and olive trees, as well as the wheat that would form the basis of their farmed crops. Harvesting of these crops quickly led to the establishment of orchards and farms - a result that led to a large swelling of the population and a huge boom in the size of towns.

    By the Copper Age, Polloxokes was split into five separate territories, each owned by one of the four tribes - the Naurii, the Eaurii, the Waurii and the Saurii. The fifth territory - the mighty city of Harokes Pollox - was a mighty city that was constructed on both sides of the central mountain belt - joined by a perfectly flat, smooth and naturally formed stone corridor through the mountains (See 3.5). This city was the heart of Knauriiete culture - and the tribes were in agreement of one thing - Harokes Pollox was sacred to the Gods and the Tribes, and no armed force could set foot there, the city itself being governed by a Council of Priests(a precedent which would eventually lead to the formation of the Saurii senates and constitutional monarchies.)

    Otherwise, warfare dominate the relations between the clans - though a bloody stalemate was all that came from the constant infighting.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The 4 Tribal Territories and the Territory of Harokes Pollox

    Black - The City of Harokes Pollux

    Green - The Naurii

    Yellow - The Eaurii

    Blue - The Waurii

    Red - The Saurii

    Tribal Warfare and Domination of the Island

    Warfare between the tribes was a bloody and common thing and, though it was restricted - relatively successfully - to raiding by the Council of Harokes Pollox, the Tribes usually possessed an ardent desire to fully conquer the whole island and prove their true might to the Gods.

    Early Knauriiete warfare consisted mainly of back and forth skirmishing charges and an eventual melee attack when each side had run out of missiles to fire. Typically early Knauriiete warriors wielded a sling, a small shield and a hand axe. Armour was naught but a helmet - even for the richest - and most tribesmen went into battle naked. This form of warfare proved to be slow and ineffective at anything but harassing enemy borders.

    The biggest breakthrough in the unification of Polloxokes was the discovery of bronze by the Saurii. The Saurii Tribe were a keen maritime people, and their trade had led them to Bronze - which immediately gave them an incredible edge over their Copper wielding opponents. Coupled with this was the newly created tactics of the Saurii - known as the Archos (See 4.1). Adopting a policy of citizen soldiery and supplying their new armies in a far heavier style than ever seen on Polloxokes, the Saurii swept away all opposition and soon held the island under their thrall.

    The Saurii then proceeded to simply walk into Harkos Pollox and name it the new capital of Saurii power, heralding an era of Bronze and the beginning of three thousand years of Knauriiete Polloxokes military might, culture, riches and power.

    The Bronze Age


    Early Bronze Age

    Early Expansion

    Given confidence by their victories over their tribal enemies, the Saurii declared themselves the master of the Taktixus Nisia and decreed that they ruled the bay by the will of Kauros himself. For decades, expansion of Saurii naval power and the construction of forts, colonies and ports on the island chains in the bay would leave them in a position of great wealth and power.

    The Archos proved extremely versatile in this kind of warfare, as the Saurii won several great naval victories against the Allawaure and Awali. Thalass Epirodeomeas was found on the island Epirdomeas, and quickly a great city sprung up there, as the island was instrumental for all trade in the northern area of the bay.

    Spurred on by jealousy, the Awali river states often invaded the island and found themselves repulsed with typical Saurii stubbornness, until the Awali invented the chariot.

    Awali chariots cut the Saurii Archos into ribbons, and precipitated the first total slaughter the Saurii would suffer in battle. Fuming, the Saurii would retreat back to their islands and forsake Epirodomeas, leaving the isaldn in Awali hands for several decades. But the fall of the island was only the start of the many Awali wars. 20 years to the day the island was abandoned, an army landed and the Saurii Archon sallied to battle against the Awali, where they butchered the Awali and recaptured the island.

    Epirodeomeas changed hands many times over the course of two millennia, but the vast majority of the Saurii islands were untouched by war, and the provided the great wealth that kept the Central League of the Saurii in their position of a stable and massive power in the Taktixus Nisia through the whole Bronze Age and into the Iron Age.

    Mainlands Colonization

    By around 7'900 AA, the Central League controlled most of the islands in the bay and they were relatively secure, save for sporadic warring. The Saurii began to expand onto the mainland, establishing colonies in the Northern and Southern peninsulas. This period marked the beginning of a Golden Age that would last nearly two thousand years, for even as their neighbors fought and fell, the Saurii Leagues but waned and waxed.

    The first cities established by the Central League were on the edge of the Plutokes peninsula to the north, and the Mercurus peninsula to the south. In the North, Nauriius Forex became the furthest outpost to be built by the Great League, while in the south, Sauriius Forex was bult along the northern coast of Mercurius. Both of these outposts would later rebel against the rule of the Great League.

    Wars continued with both the Allawaure and the Awali, but also with a new foe, the Sebi'Awa to the far south. While these wars would prove ultimately pointless and indecisive, it they would become one of the catalysts that fragmented the Great League's hegemony and brought in the Saurii's age of disunity, a period that would last for three thousand years.

    Fragmentation of the Great League and the Age of Disunity

    The First Great League functioned as a massive hegemony, united behind the line of the First Kings, the Saures. With the death of the King of Harokes Pollox, Alexios Saures, a decade long civil war fragmented the Great League. The names of Alexios Saures' sons are lost to history, but each rallied a fragment of the League to their side. What began as an attempt to rule the Great City became stagnation and, eventually, the beginning of the Four Saurii Leagues.

    Nauriius Forex was the first to rebel, leading its bands of hardened Archons to assail the lands answering to the remnants of the Great League. After years of crippling warfare, the men of the northernmost Saurii colony returned home, defeated, though they had taken a heavy toll on the loyalists.

    Sauriius Forex was next, fighting a brutal war in their mountain ranges and by their rivers. They too were beaten, though the Loyalists no longer had the strength to go forth and recover their lands.

    The final cities to break away were the Theocratic lands to the far south. While these cities seceded, they engaged in no rebellion, and the remnants of the Great League, by now the Central League, had no interest in brutalising priests.

    The Theocratic League busied itself with warring on those they saw as the true enemy, the Sebi'Awa, whom they fought sporadically for nearly 600 years.

    This era of warfare lasted three generations of rulers and nearly 70 years. Only when all sides were exhausted was a tentative peace finally arranged. The borders were set until the Great Fall, hundreds of years away, and they would remain mostly stable until the end of the Age of Disunity.

    Middle Bronze Age

    Continued Colonization


    Rise of Constitutional Monarchies


    Late Bronze Age

    The Height of League Power


    The Civil Wars

    Incursions and Fall of the Colonies


    Solidification of the Central League's Power




    Politics and Territory

    Cities and Leagues

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The full extent of the Saurii Leagues, circa 8'900 AA

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Rikos Symmekos - The Central League

    The Rikos Symmekos, or The Central League, was the first and most powerful of the Saurii Leagues. All major military innovations came from the Central League, and it had a vast array of armies and fleets. Massive trade flowed through the island colonies in Taktixus Nisia (Saurii name for the whole bay/sea) and great riches were possessed by each of the cities in the League.

    While the rest of the Leagues formed various councils to govern their foreign policies, the Central League functioned as more of a hegemony, with ultimate tribute being paid to Harokes Pollox - the Heart of the Saurii and the Soul of the Gods. Typically the Monarch of Harokes Pollox dictated the foreign policy and military action of the Central League, and few civil wars were found within the Rikos Symmekos, though typically they often fought fiercely with the neighboring leagues - sometimes all three at the same time.

    Most famous of their adversaries though, were the Allawaure and Awali, with whom they fought to keep absolute control over the island chains in the Taktixus Nisia - the key to their great wealth and power.

    1+2. Harokes Pollox
    First City of the Saurii
    Typically Traditionalistic and Theocratic in Policy
    1st Holy City

    3. Pollox Sauriidos
    Theocratic Council
    2nd Holy City

    6. Markox Polloxes
    Tends to be Traditionalistic, but can also be Pragmatistic
    Key Trading port in the Central League

    7. Gegrolum Polloxokes
    Constitutional Monarchy
    Weakest city of the Central League

    8. Bechos Knaurii
    Key military Port

    9. Ochyros Eaurii
    Extremely Traditionalistic
    Key fortress and city on the border

    10. Rikos Naurii
    Rich river + sea port

    11. Dikosox
    Pragmatist + Traditionalist
    Largest mining town in all of Knauriiete territory

    18. Thalass Epiridomeas
    Key military port for holding the islands and for threatening Awali possessions

    18A. Ormos Nisia - The Bay Islands
    Key network of trade and military ports - key to all Central League trade and military naval control of the Taktixus Nisia (Saurii name of the whole bay)
    Hundreds of warships spread across the various islands
    First Saurii colonies and expansions

    23. Pollox Theokratix
    Theocratic Council
    Theocrats + Traditionalists
    3rd Holy City

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Naurius Symmekos - The Northern League

    The Northern League was, in terms of land, the smallest of the Saurii Leagues, despite this, they still contended fiercely for position as the second most powerful Knauriiete domain. Poorer than the other leagues, the Northern League maintained its military position by offering its native citizens full Saurii rights, and often employing smiths and armourers in state contracts in order to supply the regiments with arms and armour.

    While the Northern League fought often with the Central League (and usually lost) these conflicts changed little in terms of territory, and were mainly fought over the various land and sea trade lanes and the right to tax them. The Northern League often found itself in vicious conflict with the Allawaure - conflicts during which the Saurii gave worse than they got, though it was mutual destruction of Saurii and Allawaure military power that allowed the Hyperboelic peoples to sweep in from their lands in the North and crush the remnants of the Northern League.

    20. Naurius Forex
    First City of the Northern League

    21. Arieosa
    Home of the Northern League's navy.

    22. Hiplox Allaox
    Strongest of the Northern Cities and the first defence against the Allawaure.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Demokratex Symmekos - The Democratic League

    Long known to be the weakest of the Saurii Leagues, the Democratic League was beset on all sides for hundreds of years, even since their founding. Typically the League suffered from dissent and indecisiveness, making them a prime target for Omet war parties, Munu'mati raiders, Awali insursions and frequent Qormat raiders. Permanently battered and constantly hampered by tedious warfare, the Democratic League never achieved the wealth, status or might of the Central of Northern Leagues, nor did they ever achieve the respect of the Theocratic League.

    12. Sauriius Forex
    Capital of the Democratic League.
    Razed dozens of times in its history.

    13. Harokes Demokratus
    Typically the strongest of the Democratic League.
    Only one of the League cities not raised before the Late Bronze Age.

    14. Hydrus Wauriius
    Furthest Saurii city to the west.
    Poor and semi ruined from countless sieges, sackings and constant combat against their enemies.

    15. Expanius
    Sits along the great plains.
    The only unwalled Saurii settlement, notably also unsacked. Famed for making allies of the grasslands tribes, and often makes a sport out of elephant hunting.

    16. Riverius Ometex
    Constantly warred over by the Ometic Kingdoms and the Saurii League.
    Famous for its native rebellions.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Theokratius Symmekos - The Theocratic League

    The Theocratic League is an alliance of city states ruled by the Priests of the various Sauii Gods. Uninterested in the constant Saurii bickering, the Theocratic League concerns itself only with defending the Gods. Most of their wars have been with the Sebi'Awa magic users to the south, who offend the Saurii deities by using their stolen powers. Additionally, they are well known for raiding into the grasslands of Mercurus for slaves.

    4. Kauros Dietus
    Theocratic Council
    Dedicated to the God Kauros, Saurii God of War and the Elements, Husband of Kaurii King of the Gods
    Capital of the Theocratic League

    5. Kaurii Dietia
    Theocratic Council
    Dedicated to the Goddess Kaurii, Goddess of Time and Love, Wife of Kauros and Queen of the Gods

    17. Orios Dietus
    Theocratic Council
    Dedicated to the God Orios, God of Sexuality and Lust, Husband of Oria

    19. Oria Dietia
    Theocratic Council
    Dedicated to the Goddess Oria, Goddess of Chastity and Discipline, Wife of Orios

    Forms of Knauriiete Government

    The various City States of the Saurii were ruled in a number of fashions - all the States had a King at one stage of their history, but most eventually transitioned to a Council or Constitutional Monarchy - either through violence or Royal absence. Typically law and rights formed the entire base of Knauriiete society, and Knauriiete governments followed that trend.

    These governments - be they royal, democratic or quasi-democratic - usually had a very firm set of procedures, protocol, tradition and rules for their governance. Huge importance was placed upon processions and ceremony - especially when new governments were voted into power by the People and when the King appointed a new cabinet.

    Typically these processions involved huge military parades, long processions of musicians and artists, busts of the Divine Deities being carried around the city to bless its inhabitants, all of whom were led by the new ruling party.

    The Debate Chambers - also called the Council Houses or the Senate - were guarded by a fierce band of mute warriors. This was a universal feature - it was Saurii tradition and no City State, regardless of their politics - would purposefully tread upon those traditions.

    In the early days of Saurii expansion, the various towns and settlements established by the island capitol of Polloxokes were initially given appointed governors - who eventually become independent kings of their respective states. Knauriiete monarchs were odd in their range of powers - the Saurii ruling populace were turbulent and easily infuriated, the free native citizens even more so. As such, a King's power was usually carefully balanced on a knife's edge of popularity and populist policies.

    Most Saurii Monarchs quickly adopted policies like the Bread Dole and the guarantee of housing for all citizens to secure popularity with the masses. Successful military expeditions was also a method of securing the throne - the warlike Knauriiete people loved nothing more than victory.

    Most of the old Saurii royal families had died off or been forcibly removed from power by the late Bronze Age - though the ruling house of Polloxokes ruled with fierce popularity and strength until their eventual destruction against the Hyperboelic peoples in 10'000 AA. So long was their rule, with a totally unbroken line of first born sons, that they were believed to have been blessed by mighty Kauros himself.

    The only royal houses that clung to power across the vast expanse of League territory were those that willingly gave up their power to form the constitutional monarchies.

    The Council and Constitutional Monarchies

    The democracies of the Saurii practiced two forms of democracy - representative and direct. The Representatives were elected to manage the internal affairs of the city - the economy, military spending, infrastructure, etc. They also handled some of the minor diplomacy, alliances and trade deals, but war and any other major decisions, had to be decided purely by the citizens with the right to vote.

    Voting took place in the Central Forums of the City, handled by large teams of censors whose task was to mark off every registered citizen off the census list as they voted. Citizens were listed in their voting tribes - Waurii, Eaurii, Naurii and Saurii. Citizens could not chose their voting tribes - born Knauriiete were placed in their tribes depending on the heritage. Non-Knauriiete who achieved full citizenship were placed in their tribes by simple location, after all, the four tribes were originally synonymous with direction.

    For a government to be appointed, they had to win a majority of seats - a number which varied from State to State. The governing party the appointed a Speaker of the Chamber to lead their government and to appoint their cabinet. No government could sit without a majority - if neither side achieved a majority, then the election was held until there was a majority.

    The only difference between a Constitutional Monarchy and a Council was the Speaker of the Chamber - the King acted as the Speaker and appointed a cabinet from the winning party.

    Political Parties

    In the first days of Saurii democracy, two parties existed universally - these parties perhaps had different names across the City States, but they shared common policy. The first two parties were the Traditionalists and the Liberalists. With the first Saurii democracies coming into existence around 8'000 AA, these two parties quickly cropped up to represent common Knauriiete beliefs.

    Circa 8'600 AA, two more parties, the Pragmatists and the Theocrats sprang up. These parties and their beliefs were direct consequences of the changing political climate around the Saurii borders.

    Notably, these parties had only very small cores of common and extreme support, and the citizens usually voted based policy rather than allegiance. With a heavy political interest in Saurii cities, coupled with the relatively common phenomenon of elections (Every 2 and a half years) parties could win a massive majority in one election and proceed to be nearly wiped out in the next.


    The Traditionalists were perhaps the most popular of all the parties across the Leagues - they represented the key beliefs of the Knauriiete peoples. Traditionalists stood on a policy of extreme militant action - be it wars of conquest or trade wars - and a strong belief in maintaining the status quo of Saurii power. Traditionalists usually held the most power in Constitutional Monarchies (there were almost no Traditionalists at all in a couple of the pure democracies after the party suggested restoring to power a King.) and they were always populated heavily by officers and merchants.


    The Liberalists were a completely different kettle of fish - while not pacifists, they argued strongly for the Pax Knauriiete and believed in "Glorious Isolation". Opposed to trade and to war, the Liberalists were unwilling to do anything but defend the State. Liberalists were also famous for their strong Rights and Legal beliefs. Many Liberalists sought to make the native populations of Saurii ruled City States full citizens - and to offer the Native Rights to all slaves.


    A popular party everywhere, the Pragmatists formed a balance of all the parties - they had no explicit beliefs other than "anything where necessary". They supported external warfare, peace, trade, isolation or populism whenever they felt it to be a needed move. While thise left them as a party with no particular beliefs of their own, they often gained power on a basis of cool and calm decision making for the betterment of the State.


    While religion was an incredibly important part of Saurii society, its involvement in politics was not so popular. Theocrats usually stood simply to ensure that that the policies of government obeyed Saurii religious code and most representatives for the party were Priests of some kind. It was tradition for several Theocrats to be appointed to a government's cabinet - regardless of the Party in power.



    The Knauriiete were defined not by their might and wealth, but by their strict and far stretching laws. Several significant wars were fought between the Saurii, the Awali and the Allawaure over the determination that all coastal nations of Taktixus Nisia should be bound by Saurii trade law and the tax placed upon trade should correspond to Saurii policy. These wars often spiraled into combat over key trade routes, attempts to destroy or capture Saurii fortresses and ports and attempts to establish a true hegemony upon the lesser peoples of the bay.

    Even in the event of overwhelming Saurii victories, it was impossible to actually maintain any semblance of control any of the other Kingdoms, and the status quo would quickly revert back to normal.

    Most prominent of Saurii law were their rights.

    The Polloxokes Rights

    The Polloxokes Rights were a serious of rights granted to citizens of the Saurii states. The rights themselves separated into several categories. The Knauriiete Rights could only be held by a true blooded Saurii, and gave the right to vote, to own land and property, to join the regiments, to have a harem, to never be enslaved and to never be allowed to be publically executed.

    The Colinos Rights were a much simpler series of rights brought in to allow the native inhabitants of Saurii colonies to legally marry in the Saurii pantheon and to join the native regiments - regiments trained in the same style as their masters. Oddly enough, the Colonial Rights also guaranteed freedom to the native holders.

    The Slaex Rights were held by slaves. Slaves had but one right, if they fled and avoided capture for one year and a day, they would be be freed and given the Colonial rights.


    The Knauriiete tribes developed their language over nearly 2'000 years of nomadic activity - by the time the Tribes reached Polloxokes, there was little left to be changed.

    Knauriiete remained relatively stagnant for several hundred years, until the Saurii developed ships and sailing and began to trade with neighbors in the Islands and in [Not-Iberia].

    Some Words:

    "Harkos" - Heart, Harkoses Pollox literally means the "Heart of Polloxokes"
    "Archos" - A citizen regiment of light infantry
    "Archon" - A citizen regiment of heavy infantry
    "Stratos" - A regiment of the feared Saurii Phalanx
    "Histirocus" - History or historic, "Histirocum Corodes" means Corridor of History
    "Concilum" - Council
    "Tyrunos" - King
    "Loxikes" - Law/legislation
    "Falkos" - Short sword
    "Lenthokax" - Linen armour
    "Hiplox" - Shield
    "Saurius" - South
    "Naurius" - North
    "Waurius" - West
    "Eaurius" - East
    "Symmekos" - League
    "Rikos" - Central
    "Nauriiokos" - Northern
    "Sauriiokos" - Southern

    Art and Craftsmanship





    Decorations and Artifacts


    Historical Records


    The Polloxokes Pantheon



    Religious Rights and Laws





    The Archos - Early Bronze Age

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    An Archos of Saurii infantry circa 7'200 AA

    An Archosite circa 7'300 AA

    A group of late Archosites, circa 7'700 AA, just shortly before the creation of the Archon

    The Archos was the very first military formation employed by the Saurii. Initially it was used as the staple unit in the Saurii army, dominating Polloxokes, and many of the islands in Polloxokes Bay, though it was eventually deemed outdated because of its extreme vulnerability to Awali and Allawaure chariots. However, the Archos remained a staple skirmishing and light infantry unit well into the time of the Stratos - regarded as the most notable time in the evolution of Saurii warfare during the Bronze Age.

    The typical Archosite was armed with several throwing javelins, a small bronze shield and a short sword. The rank and file were armoured with a plumed bronze helmet and a boiled leather tunic. Occasionally grieve were worn, but most additional armour was used by the officers. Officers tended to carry similar armaments, but varied greatly in the armour. Officers wore a double plumed helmet, and usually wore a bronze scale and boiled leather breastplate, complete with bronze braces and grieves.

    Perfect for swift naval invasions and for crushing heavy and slow enemy units, the Archos easily gained reputation as bands of fearsome warriors not prone to defeat or surrender.

    Archosites were, like all Saurii warriors before the creation of the Stratos, citizens drafted twice yearly to train so that they were ready for war at any given moment. While Archosites tended to have their own equipment - the State often supplied arms or armour to poorer Saurii citizens, who held the right to march to war but were too poor to afford proper equipment.

    A series of defeats inflicted upon the Archos ensured its end as the core of the Saurii armies and - around 7'800 AA - a new fighting unit was born to replace it.

    The Archon - Early/Middle Bronze Age

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Archon was the second of the famed Saurii formations that made them such a fearsome foe. Originally replacing the Archos as an infantry unit, the Archon would come to dominate warfare in the Saurii Leagues for the longest of all of the Saurii formations. Lasting from 7'600 AA until 8'900 AA, the Archon had many great victories, though they knew the sting of defeat as well.

    Though the Archos had allowed the Saurii to dominate island chains and their own homeland, when they were faced by a chariot force or dedicated heavy infantry they were ripped to ribbons. The solution was simple, heavy armour, larger shields and a tight formation. Thus was the Hiplexus, known also as the Archonite, born as a type of warrior and as a formation.

    Enemy units often routed when faced with the cruel ranks of hard men, wearing their strange linen armour and wielding those heavy bronze shield and long stabbing spears.

    Though they excelled in brutalising their enemies, the Archon was usually defeated when their enemies got around them. This eventually led to the use of the Archos and the Archon is a combined arms style, which provided significant advantages to Saurii field armies.

    After suffering several brutal defeats against enemy cavalry around 8'900 AA, the Archon evolved into the Stratos, most famed of the Bronze Age Saurii regiments.

    The Stratos - Late Bronze Age


    The Syndesmos - End of the Bronze Age/Early Iron Age


    Last edited by The Mad Skylord; October 16, 2017 at 11:34 AM.

  4. #44
    Pericles of Athens's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
    Join Date
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    The United States of America

    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Hyperboreans: Saor

    "If one has any wonder as to how the Hyperboreans slew the Tawaure, one need only witness a Saor drink himself to death in defense of his honor." - Allawaure adventurer

    The Saor were a loose collection of Hyperborean tribes sharing a similar (if increasingly different) dialect, religion, and ethnicity. The early records on this collection of allied and rival tribal groups are spotty at best, but we know the identity of at least half a dozen tribes by name: Adharc, Tarbh, Mharu, Milis, Troid, and Olta. Most of this information comes from incomplete Saurii and Allawuare sources.

    Native to the pre-climate change temperate forests of the arctic, these fierce tribals seem to have made their lives in the narrow strip of land between the southern arctic coast and and the eastern arctic mountain range. An austere people, they made a living off limited mining and subsistence agriculture. The land was rich and the crops good for centuries, leading to a population explosion. Their capacity for war came from constant conflict with Zaroi slavers and petty wars amongst their own kind, the Saor (like other Hyperborean peoples) had a nasty habit of tying the heads of their fallen enemies to their settlement walls, and impaling their bodies near disputed borders. As their ships became more advanced they became seasonal raiders, growing crops in the spring and summer and raiding coastal Tawaure settlements in the fall and winter. As the weather fouled and gains from Arctic fields began to dwindle, Saor raiding parties were forced to go further and further afield. Eventually whole families and entire clans began to leave on their ships and never return. These brave new settlers made a blind leap of faith into a world unknown, with sword and axe in hand they sought survival. Within a few centuries nearly the entirety of Saor land had been abandoned, but they were not alone, nearly the entirety of the Saor had fled the Arctic in the face of the global cooling. The skeleton population left behind would be no match for the cave elves in the centuries to come.

    The political landscape of the Saor was built on the back of the individual Freemen, usually a farmer in the spring and fall and a raider in the summer, these men also served as the backbone of a Saor warband. Upon the death of a freemen his possessions would be spread among his sons, the average freemen could afford to give little to any son beyond the firstborn, this led to a large class of freemen without land, some rented land from Eldermen and other (wealthy freemen) but others offered their service to wealthy Eldermen or the king. These full time retainers became a core of the "professional" warrior class of the Saor. Beneath the freemen were the Thralls, indentured servants made to work of their debts to another, their rights were limited, but Saor law demanded they receive pay for their work and protected them from bodily harm. Beneath the thralls were the the Slaves, they had no rights by Saor laws, as men and woman capture in war or raids they had forfeited those rights and were seen as little more than property. Above the freemen were their familial patriarchs, known as Eldermen, elected leaders of the most important branches of each Clan. Large Clans may have a score of Eldermen, while a small Clan might need only one or two Eldermen. A larger moot of Eldermen and Freemen from numerous clans would elect the Rei (literally king, but in practice a petty king at best) of an entire tribe, these powerful warlords ruled as first among equals. In times of crisis or times of unified purpose the tribes of a region might elect to vote a Reiard (literally "high" king) into power, elected via a grand form of moot representing Petty Kings, Eldermen, and Champions from all effected tribes. The power of a High King was extremely limited, generally they served to lead men in battle and divide loot after a campaign, though the most powerful among them would demand tribute from subject kings.

    The freemen of Saor society generally lived in one story homes of varying size, depending on their wealth. Slaves and thralls made their homes in small huts, built on the land of those they served. The Eldermen lived in homes similar to a wealthy freemen, though generally a bit more noticeable. Finally the king of the land inhabited mead halls built atop artificial hills, villages would spring up in the shadow of these mead halls. The mead hall itself served as a meeting place for the Eldermen of the tribe, and a housing facility for the retainers of the king. Feasting was commonplace, and kings adorned the walls with all the gold they could afford to spare. Thrones were built for these kings at the far end of the meadhall, placing the king sightly above his loyal warriors. Defensive trenches were dug on the outskirts of the village, adorned with prickling stakes covered in human gore, with a wall built inside the trench line (this wall was most commonly built of wood, though rarely a wealthy king would build it with stone).

    It is noteworthy that ships were status symbols of great importance among the coastal and river bound Saor. Freemen would strive to afford one, though most would end up sailing in another's ship. Slaves provided rowers for the ships during raiding seasons, as such work was beneath Saor hands. Wealthy Eldermen and Kings would compete to afford the best ships, by design, size, and utility. Some powerful men would own multiple ships, in which case they would allow retainers or their children to captain these ships in their place.

    In practice, the warband of a tribe was little more than an armed group of thugs. When the first wave of migrants came to the mainland the native Tawaure hide or threw tribute at their feet, they'ed seen the carved dragons of Saor ships, the arctic wolves at their sides, their open chests, and the strange metal they used to forge their weapons. The natives knew them as raiders and thieves, not conquerors. Where before the raiders would come and leave, they now seemed to have come to stay. Every season brought more, their coastal settlements growing, ports construction more ships to bring them further down the coast. By the time they understood that this was no raid, it was already too late. Hyperboreans spread across the continent like wildfire, the Soar carving for themselves a suitable stretch of land along the western coast of the peninsula (including the islands of Maith and Dona) their people living far beyond the Beanna mountains crossing over the mighty Tain and Yortus rivers south to the Uisce sea. The lands here was rich, wheat grew three times as tall as it did in the arctic, and the growing season was four times as long, animals filled the hills and fish filled the rills. A population explosion followed as Saor spread across the land and became a dominate force on the continent.

    Extent of Saor Tribes, Coalitions, and Alliance blocks by 10,350 AA

    Dark Green = Territory Inhabited by Significant Numbers of Saor

    As the centuries passed the various tribes and petty kingdoms began to take on a unique character from the new lands they called home. Their language remained similar, but changed with various levels of influence from outside civilizations and the native Tawaure. Those that remained close to the first landing sights were the Uendre (the unchanged), those that went far to the south were the Solbren (the sunburnt), those that settled the fertile central rivers became the Mange (the many), those that settled the barren islands of Maith and Dona (alongside the surrounding island chains) became the Villmenn (the savages), the few that settled the harsh lands atop the mountains on the way toward the river valleys gained the name Chreideamh (the faithless), the inhabitants of the taiga expanse heavily mixed with natives in order to survive becoming the Tanai (the tainted), and those that settled the distant northern and icy coastlines and islands became the Sealen (the seal men).

    Map of the Seven Saor Dialects in 10,350 A

    Green - Villmenn
    Orange - Solbren
    Purple - Mange
    Red - Sealen
    Blue - Uendre
    Brown - Chreideamh
    Dark Blue - Tanai

    Blood for Blood

    "More beast than men. These shrieking savages don't fear death, rather they relish it's embrace." - Uknowned fragment from a Saurii text

    The armies of the bronze age and early iron age Saor were built on the foundation of the warband. When the Saor marched to war to war (a common occurrence to be sure) they came from three distinct levels. The largest was the Pobel, a throng of freemen, generally farmers and craftsmen that doubled as seasonal raiders. Every free family was required to provide one able bodied man for the Pobel, should the Eldermen of their clan call them to arms. The Pobel provided their own arms and armor, thus their equipment varied based on their family's means. Most were armed with javelins, bows, axes, and spears of iron, but a wealthy family might arm their volunteers with swords. Round and oval shields were the most common form of defensive equipment in the Pobel, these were generally carved from hardwood, with the well to do lining their shield's with an iron rim. Armor was rare beyond animal skin cloaks and raw hide pants, though some would make use of raw hide chest guards. Most covered their bodies and equipment with warding symbols painted on by druids, these symbols had a variety of purposes.

    Artistic representation of a Pobel War Party

    The second level of the warband were the Utvalgte (Chosen), their ranks were filled with adventurous or violent sons of freemen without a hope of inheritance. These men had chosen to avoiding renting from landed freemen, and avoid service as craftsmen, instead choosing the life a a full time warrior. Generally housed in the mead hall of a King or particularly wealthy Eldermen, these men swore fealty in exchange for food and weaponry. Unlike the Pobel these warriors were generally armed in similar fashion, with a spear and a set of javelins or arrows, in addition to a sword or ax (the latter for close quarters combat). In addition to the weapons they wore iron helms and carried iron rimmed shields (either oval or rounded), wealthier kings and eldermen would armor their retainers with iron disc armor to cover the squishier parts of their chest's. These men spent their lives training, allowing them to fight in shield wall formation. They would pepper their enemy with arrows and javelins before closing to fight shield locked with their neighbor's. In combat this results in a battle more akin to a shoving match, fought until one side could no longer hold their competitors back.
    Modern Artistic Rendering of Utvalgte Warriors Advancing into Enemy Territory

    Finally, there were the Folges (the companions), comprised of a King's or (wealthy) Eldermen's closest kith and kin. These men had the finest arms and armor the King could afford. They wore elegant helmets forged from iron, sometimes these helms were gilded with precious metals. In Addition wore thick layers of raw-hide armor on their chests, or iron plate bound together with leather straps. These men carried shields crafted from the hardest wood, and covered in thick layers of hide, in addition they wielded expensive weapons, tow handed swords, long axes, and bastard swords. Unlike the Pobel or the Utvalgte, that had druids paint temporary warding onto their equipment, the Folges had intricate runic wardings carved directly into their weaponry and armor. Ringmail came into use between 10,400 AA and 10,700 AA, generally replacing the leather bound plates of the earlier Folges. In pitch battle these men took the honor of holding the right flank of the battle line. These men were noticeable on the battlefield, not only due to their arms and armor, but due to the bear hide cloaks that hung from the shoulders of every member of a Folges.

    Abrac of Clan Caffer, Rei of the Tarbhs (center) and members of his Folges

    The berserkers, were a class of warrior that existed outside the aforementioned framework. These men came from every level of free society, and were either highly spiritual or had been shamed by some past action. Whatever reason behind their actions, becoming a berserker required that oaths be sworn before the eyes of the Druids and the gods. These men, in order to reclaim their honor, resigned themselves to death in battle (be it against humans or fearsome beasts) and forsook their claim to membership in their clan and inheritance. They wore no armor, besides wolf skin cloaks, and adorned their skin with the runic script of the druids. Many would run into battle completely nude to intimidate their enemies, others would wear pants or loincloths to cover themselves. Some, rather than have the runic symbols painted or tattooed on, would carve the marks directly into their flesh. Generally, these men made use of two handed weaponry. Berserkers were known to take the psychotropic herbs of the druids before battle, making them all but fearless. In battle they fought as single champions, many records from the time recount daring berserkers holding bridges against entire armies, these acts of heroism were fueled by zeal and a strong euphoric high in equal measure. Most berserkers would die young, but others would live long lives in their quest for death. When not in battle the berserkers generally made their homes away from civilized territory, in hovels among the communities other Clanless (those no longer recognized as members of their birth Clan), under the watchful eyes of the Druids.
    Bjorn Two Beards of the Clanless, infamous Saor Berserker (said to have sworn the oath after murdering his own sister)

    The Saor made use of two beasts in war. The first and most obvious being the horse. However, unlike the horse archers of the Suuvulk or the charioteers of the Awali, the Saor used horses for the sole purpose of transporting infantry to and from the battlefield. Besides horses, the Saor made use of specially bred Arctic Hounds. These dogs, more similar to oversized wolves than domesticated beasts, were commonly used by all military levels of the society. Capable of ripping out a man's throat with ease, these creatures served with one master for life and were laid to rest beside their master. Some wealthy owners would armor their war beasts with rawhide to provide protection. The above average intelligence of these beasts allowed them to not only follow simple commands, but make intuitive choices of their own in the thick of battle.

    The greatest strength of Soar warriors seems to have been expertise in launching large scale raiding actions and engaging in guerrilla warfare. Their knowledge of the land, self sustainability and personal drive, alongside the ability to operate in small units gave the tribes falling under the Soar umbrella an edge, particularly when it came to fighting a war with a larger competitor.

    Settling on the mainland did nothing to curb the urges of coastal and river bound Saor to raid distant shores, at least not in the rugged north of their new expanse where farming remained hard. From their new position the northern Saor raided as far as their dragon ships would carry them. In the summer they went raiding and when fall came returned home with riches and stories unmatched from the southern seas. The Saor that settled near the mountains become hostile and insular, particular embroiled in wars with the natives for centuries beyond what their kin elsewhere faced. Those Saor lucky enough to settle in the teeming forests of the lowland, and the bountiful bosom of the river valleys exploded in population, but they too remained less than civilized. Though they generally gave up their habit of raiding overseas, preferring to raid their neighbors.

    There were many reasons high kingdoms, tribes, clans, and even individual free families, might go to war. But the druids provided extensive avenues for recourse when it came to Saor on Saor conflict. One could settle a blood debt (a charge of killing a man of another tribe or family) by paying the blood price (a sum of gold worthy of the man taken), if that failed a challenge to single (duel between the accused and accuser) or group combat (a duel between up to five representatives of each side, including the accuser and the accused, and their closest friends) could settle the dispute with limited cost in life. These fights could be till first blood, or to the death. Finally, there were the infamous Saor drinking competitions, where the injured party would attempt to out drink the attacking party, the winner would receive whatever concessions the Druid deemed appropriate. For an individual the contest might lose you a goat, but a petty king challenged by another petty king might lose vast tracks of land to the winner.

    The Saor of the Bronze Age and early Iron Age were a warrior culture, one driven by honor killings and the prospect of loot. They were not conquerors of vast swaths of land, and conflicts were generally short, though the grudges that birthed conflicts could last for generations. Unlike the "civilized" Awali, they didn't seek the total destruction or enslavement of their enemies, generally the Saor fought wars to settle land disputes, exact blood prices (in riches or in human lives) from those who'd ensured them and failed to pay, demand tribute from the weak, or even pointless conflict to feed the spirits of the forest. Though many of the rules of Saor war changed as climate pressures forced the Saor to displace and slaughter the natives of their new home.

    Faceless Gods

    "These are hallowed places of our forefathers and their forefathers before them, our gods live here. Your blood will water their roots.." - Saor prisoner of war

    The Soar religion was a faith defined by local doctrines, of a martial soul, and an ancestral mentality. The faith was centered about the forest, as the primal heart of our world. Druids tended to ancient groves deep within the forest, dark places where druids would sacrifice human offerings to the spirits of the wood, and call up the voices of ancestors long dead. It was a widely held belief that the woods, and even more so these Druid groves, were where the spirit world met our mortal world, the two worlds bleeding together to create this strange place. Boys were brought at tender ages into the wood, to undergo rites of passage under the watchful eyes of the druids. These rites of passage included ingesting psychotropic drugs to enter the spirit world, forcing fifteen year old to hunt down and slay a beast so their soul might be judged, trials by fire and trials by water, even abandonment of small children to see if they could find their way home.

    Fairn Fair Hair, slaying dire wolves in the Saga of Fairn

    A Druid leading ritual sacrafice of Tawaure POW

    Religion controlled every aspect of Saor life, for the material world could not be seperated from the spiritual one. The Spirits controlled the bounty of crops, the output of mines, they decided if a hunt was successful, if a raiding party was victorious. Kings would seek advice from the Druid seers, prostrating themselves before those who spoke in behalf of the spirits. Though the spirits were not the only focus of worship. The Saor revered their own dead as well, believing that even in death the essence of a person would watch over their living descendants. In return for the protection their ancestors provide the Saor would leave offerings of food, drink, and other essentials for the deceased. There were those individuals that transcended family, tribe, or clan in their passing. Men whose sagas were so storied and deeds so impressive that they ascended to a form of Godhood in their deaths, these men could be (at times) worshipped alongside the spirits by entire clans, tribes, or even large groups of tribes. Fairn Fair Hair, supposed conqueror of the Tawaure, and Lok Long Beard, mythic King that originally brought the Saor to Hyperborea and pushed the elves into the underway, are perhaps the only warriors worshiped across the whole of the Saor tribes.

    During times of war the druids seem to have been gripped by a fervent martial spirit. That is not to say that they fought, as unless the deep forests and groves themselves were threatened the druids remained neutral. When the conflict was between Soar, or even more distant Hyperborean tribes, the druids seem to have served as impartial mediators. This is not to say they took no part in war, druids were invaluable in wartime. They concocted psychotropic brew in an attempt to summon demons into the bodies of the fiercest Saor warriors, they painted protective wards into the skin of their warriors, they preformed magic runic crafting into weapons and jewelry in preparation for battle, in addition they sacrificed to the spirits of the forest and read omens to foretell the war's outcome. Warriors were encouraged to be fearless in battle, to show their worth to the spirits of the forest. A cultural obsession with being remembered forever, the only way to achieve eternal glory among the spirits, drives many men to answer their king's call to arms. If a battle took place in the wood druids would create a grove nearby, the purpose being to contain the taint of human blood and properly dispose of the bodies created in battle, as the Saor believed mass death (particularly when the bodies were not treated properly postmortem) thinned the dividing line between the mortal and spirit worlds.. allowing corrupted spirits to bleed through.

    In these early days the records of Saor battles are rare enough, records of druids in battle are rarer still. However there is evidence that druids did fight in battle (rarely) at this time, in particular, it seems the druids served as a vanguard force heralding the arrival of the Saor. You see, as a grove became too populated with magic users, some would venture to find their own grove, sometimes venturing for many miles, even leaving their forest behind entirely. While most religions follow the movement of their people, it seems as if the Saor migrants did it in reverse, following behind druids that had set up shop in a region years earlier. Sometimes these druids spent decades living in a grove, awaiting their people to follow, in this time the Druid would prepare the woods for the Saor. By this I mean, they would summon mist and fog, weaken the boundary between the forest and the Spirit world. One story from the Saurii recounts contact with a Saor Druid, according the the account "this witch called the clouds of the sky down to the earth, we wandered for many hours lost and blinded. The witch then called the darkness of night upon us, and the voices of men long dead arose from the earth.." the account goes on to say the phenomenon ceased, and the "witch" was never found.

    Last edited by Pericles of Athens; November 04, 2017 at 03:12 AM.

  5. #45

    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Last edited by Xion; July 18, 2017 at 11:13 AM.

  6. #46
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    The Bronze Age Omete are done.

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    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    The Sun, the Moon and the Star: Riverlander Mun'umati of the post-Bronze 'dark age'
    For five hundred years after the collapse of the Zaba-Tutuli Empire, their homeland spiraled into a seemingly perpetual state of chaos and violence as the Mun'umati conquerors fragmented and climate change continued to wreak havoc on agriculture. A great lack of surviving records, combined with records that had been found turning out to be grim reading, indicate that this was indeed a dark age for the region. Tribal warlords and the remaining 'Awali cities that hadn't already been overrun by 10,015 AA vigorously clashed with each other; raids were a daily part of life, evidence of battles involving hundreds or even thousands of men is widespread, and the ruins of every city that can be reliably dated back to this era show signs of violently inflicted damage while plagues and other natural disasters were mentioned frequently in recovered fragmentary records from the period, leading the Shamshi chronicler 'Ibar bar al-As to write (in Early Shamshic Cuneiform, a crude attempt to translate 'Awali hieroglyphs into Old Shamshic):
    Quote Originally Posted by Ibar bar al-As
    No field is left unburnt;
    no stone unturned;
    no city un-bloodied.
    In this grim age,
    fathers bury their sons,
    mothers weep for their daughters' virtue,
    and children are regularly carried off in chains.
    Peace is unknown to us all.
    Of the myriad Mun'umati tribes that swarmed into the riverlands at the end of the Bronze Age, three in particular distinguished themselves and formed nations that would manage to last in a coherent, recognizable state-of-being for more than a century, unlike the tribal kingdoms and confederacies of many of their peers. They were the aforementioned Shamshi, the Taibani, and the 'Illami, also respectively known as the 'Sun', 'Moon' and 'Star' of the Mun'umati on account of their distinctive symbols and standards, and they would change the region forever.

    A new Sun rises over the Riverlands: The Shamshi
    Modern recreation of the Sun of the Children of the Sun (Shamshi)

    The first and most important of these three (at least in the short to medium term) were the Shamshi. They were the single largest tribe of Mun'umati to move into the former 'Awali homeland, and quickly enlarged themselves even further by absorbing smaller tribes (some by force, others with honeyed words/bribes/strategic marriages) - and, even more critically, extending an olive branch to the 'Awali who came under their rule. Harith bar Hassur al-Medya, the very same warlord who had helped bring about the end of the 'Awali Empire and became the first documented 'Luminous King' (as they called their head of state once settled) of the Shamshi, recognized the value of the educated scribes and craftsmen among his new subjects, and endeavored to integrate existing 'Awali social and governmental structures with traditional Shamshi practices to serve as the foundation for his new realm.

    Archaic Shamshi: A creole language
    The language spoken by Shamshi and 'Awali alike (as much as the two groups could still be distinguished, anyway) - regardless of social class - after approximately 10,500 AA was essentially a creole tongue, largely Mun'umati with the application of 'Awali sound changes and a number of 'Mun'umatized' 'Awali terms. Though still classified as part of the Mun'umati language family, what modern scholars call 'Archaic Shamshi' exhibits strong 'Awali influence, unlike Archaic Taibani or 'Illami which are 'purer' Mun'umati languages.

    Modern speech 'Awali Proto-Mun'umati/Shamshi Archaic Shamshi
    Man, men Eme, emetak Mat, umati Mat, umatak
    Woman, women Maru, marutak Nisa, ranisa Mari, marisa
    Camel Jabbatha Yemel Jebel
    Sun Šaš Šamaš Shams
    Farm Mazrak Masr Mazr
    This was, unlike Proto-Mun'umati/Shamshi, a written language. As previously mentioned, 'Awali hieroglyphic characters were transcribed into cuneiform, with which the Archaic Shamshi language was written.

    Settled Shamshi society
    Shamshi society of the Dark and early to mid-Iron Age represented a curious mixture of Mun'umatic traditions and 'Awali ones. The surviving 'Awali cities which had bent the knee, and still remained the most densely populated sites in the riverlands, had trusted governors from Shamshi clans assigned to them; and their clansmen too were expected to settle within and around the city walls. It was the intention of Harith and his heirs that they should mingle and intermarry with the natives, and to learn their ways without forgetting those of their own ancestors. 'Awali women married Shamshi men and the other way around to the extent that, within 300 years, the two groups were described as one ethnicity under the latter's name; and the 'Awali language, translated from hieroglyphs into a cuneiform script, heavily influenced that of the Shamshi. This approach, which encouraged social integration, stood in sharp contrast to the much more hostile direction in which the relationship between conquerors & conquered evolved in Taibani and 'Illami lands. The Shamshi royals themselves took the daughters of 'Awali nobles as their wives or concubines with mounting frequency, and as they had yet to establish a fixed capital in this time period - instead remaining at the head of an itinerant court, roving the countryside and living at the fortified homes of nobles - they had plenty of opportunity to, essentially, crash at 'Awali aristocrats' estates and get to know their new subjects better.

    Overall, the Shamshi didn't so much completely destroy the existing 'Awali social structures (unlike the Taibani and 'Illami) as they did co-opt it. What the Shamshi did add, however, were elements of heredity and what might be recognized as something resembling feudalism to what had previously been a highly centralized, top-down and bureaucratic government. Wars with rival Mun'umati, starvation brought on by changing climate conditions, and the occasional epidemic caused significant depopulation, driving many thousands of 'Awali from the cities into the countryside. Shamshi tribal nobles assigned to govern their empire's new feudatories (for the Shamshi rarely respected the old borders of the 'Awali city-states, and the moderate to severe depopulation most of those cities suffered rendered such borders obsolete anyway) would, in keeping with general Mun'umati tradition, rule for life and pass their office on to their children when they died. The de-urbanization of the riverlands saw the replacement of the cities as the local nexuses of power by these governors' rural fortresses, surrounded by estates worked by serfs (many of whom, at least originally, were former city-dwellers) who were paid with protection by Shamshi warriors and a fraction of the crops they harvested.

    The ruins of an Early Shamshi noble's rural fortress-manor

    These hereditary governors, titled Amyrs or 'princes' and tied to the ruling clan by marriage, were tasked with making sure their feudatory didn't rebel, paid its taxes on time, and could look after its own defense (which in practice meant each Amyr maintained his own private army, paid by and consequently loyal only to him rather than his sometimes-purely-nominal liege), essentially making them autonomous subjects of the Luminous King with a whole lot of leeway in interpreting his orders - when they didn't simply ignore them. Indeed, unlike the generally better-behaved 'Awali nobles, Shamshi aristocrats had no problem bearing arms in the presence of their monarch, a symbolic reminder of their power and willingness to rebel if angered. This new aristocracy remained fiercely proud of their heritage and took steps to continue distinguishing themselves from the Riverlands' natives. A weak Luminous King invariably meant the Amyrs running amok, tyrannizing their subjects, waging private wars against both outsiders and each other and keeping any taxes they collect for themselves; some recovered fragmentary documents of the period note that stronger Luminous Kings had to beat their rebellious Amyrs back into line, and there also exists at least one recorded case of a Luminous King - an otherwise little-known Manour bar Yeherassour - being forcibly deposed in favor of his young son Hainat bar Manour by a cabal of Amyrs for reasons that were not recorded and thus, remain lost to history.

    The ways in which the Shamshi aristocracy sought to preserve its own identity included:
    - continuing to dress in a distinctively 'Mun'umatic' fashion, with men eschewing the elaborate head-dresses, tight robes and carefully straightened & maintained beards of the 'Awali for simpler single-colored caps or turbans, looser multicolored & multilayered robes, trousers and loose, 'wild' beards while women continued to wear traditional shawls and long, billowy, opaque dresses
    - practicing traditional Mun'umati pastimes such as horsemanship and chariot-less hunting; exclusively employing 'Awali slaves and freedmen alike for tasks considered demeaning, such as cleaning their latrines and stables
    - sponsoring the transcription of traditional Shamshi tales and chronicles when they could afford it, and later requiring all records to be written in Archaic Shamshic cuneiform rather than the old 'Awali hieroglyphic script
    - doing their utmost to limit marriages with the 'Awali nobility to matches between their sons and 'Awali daughters, not the other way around, for the Shamshi (like most other Mun'umati tribes) were a staunchly patriarchal lot and felt that mixed-ethnicity children with Shamshi fathers would be more inclined to carry on their traditions than those with 'Awali ones

    One of the laws successfully lobbied for by the Amyrs and recorded around 10,500 AA was a sumptuary law forbidding families not of patrilineal Shamshi descent, without regard to rank, from dressing in Shamshi fashion. The result was that the 'Awali nobility, where they weren't totally displaced, was aggressively absorbed into the ranks of their Shamshi successors.

    A gathering of Shamshi Amyrs, c. 10.500 AA

    Below the newly-settled nobility, in a reversal of their relationship with the 'Awali upper class, the lower orders of pre-existing Shamshi society - free but common tribesmen, their families and slaves - were more or less absorbed into their 'Awali neighbors. Within a few generations (certainly before 10,500 AA) the Shamshi and 'Awali were simply generally referred to as one people under the former's name. They dressed the same, spoke the same creole language, had far fewer concerns about marrying into one another's families, lived in neighboring mud-brick hovels, and farmed rice (or further north, on account of the Great Cooling, wheat) alongside one another. The overwhelming majority of commoners and slaves alike worked as subsistence farmers in the countryside; while this was already somewhat true of 'Awali society, the socioeconomic disruptions caused by the Mun'umati migrations and climate change widened the size of that majority and effectively decimated the urban artisan & mercantile class of the old 'Awali city-kingdoms. The largest and best-preserved 'Awali cities were reduced to towns of 2-3,000 inhabitants in this time period, with the majority of their former dwellers and said people's descendants working in the fields to support themselves - and, of course, falling under the thumb of the (even more) overtly martial Shamshi aristocracy. Recovered artifacts from the period of 10,015-10,500 AA are of far lesser quality than those of the period immediately preceding it, exhibiting both far less ornamentation and durability, and are another sign of the degradation of the old 'Awali material culture; however, to be fair to the Shamshi, this is true of all artifacts from the Riverlands, not just their territories specifically.

    One thing that didn't change from old 'Awali times was a lack of coinage which, of course, meant that what little commerce took place (given the circumstances of this dark age, understandably few people still dared to travel the roads to trade elsewhere) was done entirely through bartering. Bandits and minor Mun'umati tribes not affiliated with the Shamshi or their rivals were noted to be 'serious' to 'severe' problems, and the old 'Awali roads largely went un-maintained by the new masters of the Riverlands, further impairing the old regional trade networks.

    Artist's imagining of Riverlander peasants chatting over a newly dug irrigation canal c. 10,500 AA: note that neither 'Awali and Shamshi can still be distinguished from one another

    Archaic Shamshi religion
    At this stage in their history, the religion of the Shamshi is best defined as a Traditional and Ancestral faith, with some Statist elements. Its adherents called themselves the Ahl al-Shamshi or 'People of the Sun', a name which they kept well into the future. Like virtually all known Mun'umati religions in general, it was a monotheistic faith that recognized no god save one. The Shamshi were known to already revere 'al-Shams', the Sun, as the paternal creator deity of all things and a guardian entity that especially favored them; Shamshi legend holds that their ancestors sprang from the first grains of sand that the Sun's rays fell upon, that it gently shone upon their first-ever crop, and that it also protected them from primordial shadow-monsters that tried to devour them with its searing gaze. The line of the Luminous Kings was said to have begun when the Sun took human form to impregnate the most beautiful woman among said first generation of Shamshi, hence the surnames which has been attributed to their dynasty: the patronymic 'Bar al-Shams' ('son of the Sun') and al-Medya ('the illuminated'). As the Luminous Kings were thus the Sun's flesh-and-blood descendants, their subjects were bound to obey them in all things without question, and in addition to being the supreme war-chief of the Shamshi, upon every summer solstice they also appear to have personally led the most important religious procession in their faith.

    However, the simplistic Shamshi religion of this dark age lacked the codified doctrines, centralized leadership, elaborate temples and 'Awali-influenced tenets that its successor was better known for. Worship appeared to have been conducted at ornamented poles whose shadows mirrored the Sun's movement, and there did not appear to be any sort of formal priesthood beyond traditional tribal shamans and wise men who, besides teaching Shamshi beliefs and legends to the tribe's children, presiding over the cremation of the dead and counseling the Luminous King when called upon, also functioned as herbalists & physicians. As the years came ever closer to 10,500 AA, these tribal elders began to take on the characteristics of an organized priesthood (no doubt thanks to influence from what remained of the 'Awali priesthood), as rituals were outlined in detail and 'Awali-style temples with regular services sprang up around their Sun-poles.

    Certain religious symbols which were used by the Shamshi in this dark age also persisted past 10,500 AA: the banner of the Sun, seen at the top of this entry, was one, and it appears to have been the primary standard of the Shamshi people and their armies long after the founding of Hejra. Another such symbol was the sun disk, which has been found carved into many of their Sun-poles and was also depicted shining upon the Luminous King on wall reliefs in various ruined palaces & manors; it is speculated that this particular symbol originated as the personal arms of the Bar al-Shams dynasty.

    Modern recreation of the Shamshi sun disk

    Archaic Shamshi military
    The Shamshi were part of a broader military revolution brought to the Riverlands by the Mun'umati migrants, though their efforts to integrate 'Awali soldiers and ways meant that they arguably had the least impact in comparison to the Taibani and 'Illami. Like their fellow Mun'umati, they were notable for introducing the first saddles to the Riverlands - though these were simple cloth pads fastened to the horse's girth with a leather strap - and thus played a massive role in phasing out the 'Awali chariot in favor of proper cavalry capable of directly fighting in battles (as opposed to being relegated to scouting roles). As far as even the most forward-thinking Shamshi were concerned, the chariot had failed miserably against their people at the Battle of the Dunes and throughout the entire latter half of their campaign of conquest against the 'Awali, so there was little point in adopting that particular bit of the 'Awali legacy save in ceremonial roles.

    In their earliest days as a settled people, the Shamshi probably didn't fight much differently than they used to while still living in their sandy homeland: as mobile units of cavalry and camelry, reliant on constantly staying on the move and essentially shooting/skirmishing the foe to death for most of the battle until they had been sufficiently exhausted and worn down by this game of cat-and-mouse for the Shamshi lancers to charge in and finish them. Thus, virtually the entirety of the early Shamshi army's actually-Shamshi contingents were all cavalry: of these, up to eight or nine in every ten were unarmored riders of horses or camels who fought with short bows or javelins, while the remaining two to one in ten were more heavily equipped lancers outfitted with an iron helmet and lamellar vest of iron or horn plates, who fought with a two-and-a-half-meter thrusting spear, ax or hacking sword and small wicker shield. Nobles appear to have combined both roles and wielded both a lance and bow, but invariably wore heavier armor than the common soldiers and carried round iron-rimmed shields as befitting their status. The Shamshi did not like to fight on foot, and largely left the role of infantry to their 'Awali subjects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Path of the Righteous ('Illamite holy scriptures), First Book of Stewards, 14:20-22
    Then Melelem returned with the scouts, and informed the Steward that the horse-riders and camel-riders of the Sun-worshipers numbered at least 15,000 and their front rank bristled with the iron panoply of war, while their infantry was as numerous as the sand on the seashore.
    When he had heard this, Anat fell to the ground and laid his face down in prayer, begging that the Lord Above would deliver the Righteous Many from this dread adversary.
    And his officers did the same, for they all knew this was an enemy beyond their own mortal might.
    A highborn Shamshi heavy cavalryman, c. 10,500 AA

    Speaking of the 'Awali...there is little doubt among modern historians that the second-greatest military achievement of the Archaic Shamshi, after only their introduction of the saddle and proper cavalry to the Riverlands, was their successful integration and use of 'Awali auxiliaries, who soon came to make up the bulk of their army. The overwhelming majority of these soldiers were not professionals like their predecessors, but rather militia who were frequently conscripted for seasonal service before the harvest and fought unarmored with short spears, axes, long knives and wicker shields (the production facilities that churned out their helmets and armored cloaks & the centralized logistical system that issued them said equipment having broken down as the 'Awali cities were depopulated and their kingdoms were toppled). Wealthier 'Awali volunteers would have been seen with at least helmets, and perhaps lamellar vests, on the battlefield. Still, though they had fallen far from their glory days, the 'Awali recruits gave the Shamshi a major numerical advantage over their Mun'umati rivals, which the Luminous Kings exploited to the hilt. Greater numbers allowed them to extend their lines and better flank an enemy army, after all, or simply tie the foe down with weight of numbers while their cavalry worked their way around the flanks. Late 'Awali chariots in the Zaba-Tutuli style were also retained to a small extent until at least 10,500 AA.

    Finally, to further flesh out their ranks and add versatility to their already versatile army, the Shamshi made much use of mercenaries from the east and south. The newly warlike Suuvulk and other Mun'umati were their preferred mercenaries, but there were the rare Golga as well (if the famous duel between one such Golga mercenary and an 'Illamite hero in the latter's holy scriptures is any indication). They also reportedly used exotic beasts in war, most prominently in having armored Thunderbeasts pull or bash down enemy gates.

    Quote Originally Posted by 'Ibar bar al-As
    They [the Taibani] sent against us their thousands;
    Our great King, may the Sun shine upon him and his heirs, answered them with his tens of thousands.
    Against such odds, what could they do, but despair and die?
    'Awali medium infantryman in Shamshi service, c. 10,800 AA

    Towards the end of the Riverlander Dark Age, as the ethnic and socio-cultural distinctions between Shamshi and 'Awali blurred and they were increasingly referred to as one people under the former's name, their military was further integrated and the famous 'combined arms' doctrine that characterized the later Shamshi army began to formally take shape. No longer did they execute combined arms strategies on an ad-hoc basis, with Luminous Kings and Amyrs just devising said strategies on the fly: now the hammer-and-anvil tactic, in which 'Awali infantry would advance at speed to engage and pin down the enemy's center while wings of Shamshi cavalry maneuvered around the flanks and functioned as the decisive killing arm of the Shamshi host.

    The 'dark age' of the Riverlands is believed to have ended in Shamshi territories around 10,500 AA, with the emergence of a solidified state using one common language (Archaic Shamshi) and the foundation of a fixed capital at Hejra by the Luminous King Harith 'the Great' bar al-Sannit, thereby putting an end to the days of an itinerant royal court among the Shamshi. Under the Sun-Disk and their red-and-yellow standard, the later Luminous Kings would lead much of the Riverlands out of the millennial Dark Age it had been subjected to by their ancestors, and into the light of a new golden age...

    A sandstorm raging in the South: The Taibani
    Modern recreation of the Moon of the Raging Ones (Taibani)

    The second of the great Mun'umatic powers that emerged from the Dark Age of the Riverlands were the Taibani, whose name literally meant 'Raging Ones'. In past centuries they had been one of the greatest and most warlike tribes of the Great Sand Sea, and bitter rivals with the Shamshi; however, both parties set aside their rivalry to work together when faced with the disasters brought about by the Great Cooling, and when fighting as one force they were able to lead other like-minded Mun'umati to victory over the 'Awali Empire. Their alliance did not last long after that, however - the Taibani broke a peace accord with the 'Awali, having grown unsatisfied with 'only' half the Riverlands, and destroyed their civilization in a brutal offensive that was not supported by the Shamshi. Having conquered the lands south of the Muryurir River while their Shamshi and 'Illami rivals ruled north of it, the Taibani proceeded to have a grand old time fighting all of their neighbors throughout this dark age, and by 10,500 AA had built the largest (though also the most loosely & poorly governed) empire of the three.

    Settled Taibani society
    It would be a stretch to describe Taibani society, even after their conquest of the southern Riverlands, as 'settled'. Unlike their Shamshi neighbors to the north, the Taibani made little effort to ingratiate or integrate themselves with the 'Awali they had conquered, and in effect remained a segregated parallel society to the 'Awali who now found themselves bumped down to the bottom half of their overlords' social ladder. The conquerors continued to live as they did, in the form of nomadic or semi-nomadic clans that wandered their new realm - even their rulers, the Gleaming Kings, did not establish a fixed capital and instead wandered from place to place at the head of an itinerant royal court, though they did use the ruins of the city of Zaibali as the Aju-Timeat, or 'meeting grounds', for great gatherings of the tribal chiefs, for example to elect a new Gleaming King or for the announcement of a new war - and legally kicked 'Awali farmers off their fields whenever they felt like they could set their herds free to graze. Gleaming Kings were still elected exclusively by Taibani tribal elders, with absolutely no input from the 'Awali subjects of their realm. And while Taibani marriages with 'Awali women were not totally unheard of, they appear to have occurred far less frequently than among the Shamshi - there is little doubt among modern historians that the Taibani generally preferred to marry among themselves - and marriages of 'Awali men to Taibani women were actually explicitly prohibited, according to the reports of outside observers.

    A Taibani nobleman and his chief wife, c. 10,350 AA

    The Taibani also continued to entertain themselves in traditional ways. This meant, besides every man in the tribe of some means amassing as large a harem as they could, conducting bloodsports. As their name might suggest, the 'Raging Ones' were an extremely bloodthirsty lot who loved battle, and between wars they would routinely hold gladiatorial matches between clan champions and volunteers from other Taibani clans, hapless 'Awali subjects (or criminals) drafted into being the day's entertainment, or animals. Not all fights were to the death: the well-traveled Shamshi chronicler 'Ibar bar al-As recorded such a gladiatorial duel between the champions of the Ihani and Jelali clans, which ended when the latter warrior drew first blood. However, certainly the matches that were deemed the most entertaining were the death matches (which also doubled as an execution method for criminals, who were pitted against fully armed foes or wild beasts with at best joke 'weapons' such as carrots or sticks), either against human foes or beasts that had been deliberately fed a bare minimum of rations to keep them both in fighting condition and ravenous at the same time.

    Other bloodsports known to have been practiced by the Taibani included the running of a bull through every town on full moons - with every man in said town donning red-painted wolf hides and trying to kill the bull with long daggers and short spears - as part of a ritual sacrifice to their god, hunting, rat-baiting and cockfighting among the lower status men & women of the tribe, and a game in which two camel/mule-riders would charge at one another on either side of a tilting fence, flinging blunted javelins and trying to knock the other off their mount. Taibani boys were expected to prove their manhood in three ceremonies between the ages of 12 and 15: first they had to jump over a row of four ornery bulls; then, they had to be able to keep a wolf at bay for one hour without killing it, and while armed with only a blunt spear; and finally, they had to either personally behead a condemned criminal, or kill a man on the battlefield.

    A Taibani princeling's coming-of-age ceremony

    Beyond power, social roles were also segregated. War was the exclusive province of the Taibani, whose clans never liked missing a fight and always rallied without fail to answer a call to arms issued by the Gleaming King. In contrast, the 'Awali were given the reins over the civilian side of things: the majority (as was the case up north as well) farmed rice and vegetables in the countryside, the greatly diminished populations of the dilapidated cities ceased to manufacture luxuries and instead prioritized churning out military equipment for their masters, and while the Taibani do not appear to have had much interest in scholarship, some clans did apparently retain the services of a handful of 'Awali scribes throughout the centuries to keep track of their revenue, possessions and the dates of royal calls-to-arms. Unlike the Shamshi, the Taibani do not appear to have made much use of "Awali auxiliaries - indeed the only armed 'Awali appear to have been town militias organized purely for defensive purposes - and frequently denigrated the 'Awali as a 'soft' and 'cowardly' people unsuited for war.

    A wall fresco depicting 'Awali slaves laboring for their new masters, dated to 10,400 AA

    The old 'Awali elite were evidently not pleased at being locked out of power by their new overlords, and were known to have revolted many times against the Taibani. A fragmentary account from Shamshi lands, dated to about 10,250 AA, noted that a Taibani clan they'd been trading with had been ambushed and massacred by the 'Awali whose lands they were squatting on that summer. Some of the surviving monuments erected by the Gleaming Kings of this period were even more blunt: the obelisk built by a Haifar ul-Ithar, dated to approx. 10,280 AA, bragged in graphic detail about how he had broken the rebellious city of Lashga by 'the worthless maggots infesting this land before we came' and burned some of the rebel ringleaders ('feeble princes with no thrones') with their families, had others dismembered by horse, and impaled yet others around the city, while also nailing the skins of their followers to the walls. Needless to say, the Taibani were not forgiving masters, and the bloodthirst they displayed on battlefields was matched only by the sadistic joy they openly exhibited when dealing with the vanquished.

    The Taibani also subjugated some of the easternmost Qormat and Ometic-speaking peoples. Unlike the 'Awali, these were offered positions as auxiliaries in the Taibani armies, though not the ability to participate in what passed for a political process. Perhaps the Taibani respected these peoples' martial prowess more than they did the "Awali, or perhaps they were just too remote and their populations not sufficiently dense to be controlled easily; either way, the Taibani generally permitted them to govern themselves so long as they paid an annual tribute to the Gleaming Kings, allowed Taibani clans to squat on their lands at will and contributed manpower to their overlords' wars.

    Taibani religion
    The ancient Taibani religion is best described as an Ancestral faith that was Martial at its soul, symbolized by a stark black-and-white standard. Its adherents called themselves the Ahl al-Nebu, or 'People of the Moon'. They were known to be monotheists, like virtually all Mun'umati, and thus exclusively revered a lunar deity called the Hiyb ul-Shestasir, or 'Silver-Backed Wolf'. Described as a black wolf the size of a mountain that lived on the moon and had a silver stripe running from between its ears to its tail, the Hiyb is thought of as the primordial being that fathered all the Earth with its mate, the Hiyu ul-'Untubiu or 'Golden Wolf' - which tragically died while birthing their massive litter, and whose heart was turned into the sun by her grieving mate. Each of these two primordial wolves' descendants carries within them some of their father's essence: his bloodthirst, cruelty, hunger...and capacity for love. Humans, of course, are no exception, and the Taibani teach that it is best to embrace one's destructive inner passions rather than bottling them up under a veneer of 'civilization' and pretending to be something one is not. There was no apocalyptic event or grand religious salvation to be had by all in Taibani mythology; there was only the struggle throughout and for life, which the Hiyb could make a little easier by granting his favor to those who best sate their inner 'beast', and the souls of those who died in honorable battle would be reincarnated as wolves upon the Earth to further indulge their inner passions without the trappings of civilization or human higher thinking to bind them. The souls of those who died outside of the Silver-Backed Wolf's favor, on the other hand, simply ceased to exist.

    Consequently, the Taibani themselves have gone down in history as a bold, passionate and bloodthirsty people, who did their level best to live up to the tenets of their religion - and made their neighbors pay the price. The Raging Ones elected their rulers, unlike the Children of the Sun and the Righteous Many; when one of their 'Gleaming Kings' died, the chief of each Taibani clan (126 in total were recorded to have existed as of 10,500 AA) would congregate to elect a successor from their ranks. In the event of a deadlock, the two leading candidates were supposed to fight to the death for the throne. The only exception to this rule was if a man of noble blood challenged the Gleaming King to a duel and killed him, in which case he automatically succeeded his victim. Once in power, each Gleaming King was expected to bring glory and new conquests to his people: a monarch whose realm was at peace for too long, or who simply failed to actively and conspicuously lead his warriors from the front in battles, was considered a poor sovereign who failed to reflect the bestial nature imparted unto him by the Silver-Backed Wolf, and could be removed by a sufficiently large majority of the tribal chiefs. The Taibani were thus constantly at war, fighting one or more of their neighbors at a time, and every victory - every conquest - only meant that ultimately, they'd have to find a new enemy to fight.

    The Ahl al-Nebu also considered violence an acceptable way of resolving one's personal issues. Technically, most legal disputes were supposed to be submitted to your clan's elders for arbitration; however, if you disliked their judgment, you could absolutely challenge your opponent to a trial by combat, with the victor being declared right - for clearly, Hiyb favored his case and granted him the victory. Disputes over land, slaves, post-battle plunder or even just personal vendettas were thus often settled with blood. To prevent vendettas from spiraling out of control, judicial duels were also sanctioned to settle cases of inter-clan murder and theft at the earliest opportunity, with the hope that the feud would die with its originators or their nearest kin.

    The Ahl al-Nebu had little mercy to spare for the vanquished: as far as they and their religion's tenets were concerned, life was one massive struggle, and one where the mighty could do whatever they wished to those weaker than them who came under their power. This was the religious justification used to oppress the 'Awali, and to a lesser extent the Qormats and Ometic-speaking tribes subdued by the Taibani. As Murrinat buth Makarib ul-Athir, the Taibani Gleaming King who destroyed Zaba-Tutul, said upon being informed that his terms for the city's surrender (the fairest maiden from each noble household; 5,000 strong horses; 10,000 cattle and pigs in good condition; permanent grazing rights around the city; and their acceptance of him as their overlord, coupled with the provision of arms and armor for every one of his warriors) were too steep to be accepted, recorded by a young 'Awali scribe who he castrated and kept as a court eunuch after his eventual victory:
    Quote Originally Posted by Murrinat buth Makarib ul-Athir
    Woe to the vanquished.
    If thou do not accept the terms I offer thee now, I shall impose even harsher terms when I have attained my complete victory, which I surely shall in a fortnight;
    Where now I promise to scourge thee with a whip made from bull's hide, then I shall scourge thee with scorpions;
    And where I would place a yoke of oak upon thy necks now, then I will place a barbed yoke of pure iron.
    I ask for one daughter from each of thine families today; deny me this, and I will take all of them in a fortnight instead.
    I say now that I will be content to take thine dignity, but leave thee with thine lives if thee but bend the knee to me; deny me that, and I will rob thee of both dignity and life in a fortnight.
    I ask again: dost thee still feel it is wise to refuse mine terms?

    Early Taibani military
    Much like their society, the Taibani style of warfare did not change much after their conquest of the Zaba-Tutuli empire. Instead they stuck to Mun'umati tradition and disdained any lessons they could learn from 'Awali warfare, and indeed the 'Awali themselves: this meant an all-cavalry army, highly mobile and devastating on the battlefield against the infantry and chariot-heavy armies of most of their new neighbors or while pillaging the countryside of a hostile nation, but inept at siege warfare and unable to do little more than simply wait outside a town's walls until the defenders starved. The Taibani host was composed of every able-bodied man from each of their clans who could ride a horse, camel, donkey or mule, and divided into two parts like the army of their Shamshi rivals to the north; some served as light missile troops, flinging javelins or firing slings and bows at the foe from horseback and always retreating before they could come to blows in a melee, and a more heavily armored corps of lancers who wore helmets and armor of iron scales, leather lamellar, bone and horn plates or simply extra layers of clothing & padding and fought with a short lance, ax, cudgel or sword, and wicker shield. The Taibani were known to retain a greater number of lancers, at the expense of the ranks of their missile cavalry, in comparison to the Shamshi.

    That said, despite their traditional ways and heavy favoring of cavalry, the Taibani did not build an empire by being tactical or strategic idiots, either. They learned very early on that the scent of camels frightened horses, and any halfway competent Taibani leader thus knew to immediately deploy their camelry against any cavalry and chariotry they might face on the battlefield. When dealing with infantry or numerically superior bodies of enemy troops in general, the favored Taibani tactic was to have a loosely organized mass of light cavalry harass the foe and mount feigned retreats in a bid to get the enemy to pursue them, only for their heavy lancers to charge in and crush the disorganized foe once they had been drawn out of formation and scattered in pursuit of the lighter Taibani forces.

    A Taibani camel-lancer, c. 10,500 AA

    Moreover, while the Taibani did not deploy 'Awali soldiers on campaigns, they did make use of Qormat and Ometic-speaking auxiliaries to compensate for their lack of infantry. These men, a mix of conscripts and volunteers attracted by the prospect of winning glory & a share of the loot in one or more of their overlords' endless wars, were typically lightly or completely un-armored but, being more numerous than the Taibani themselves and fleet of foot on account of their light equipment, fulfilled valuable roles as long-range skirmishers or meat-shields in melee on the battlefield, and sappers and wall-takers in sieges. Some later Taibani warlords tried to imitate the combined-arms tactics often used against them by the Shamshi and use their auxiliary infantry as 'anvils' against which their cavalry could pin down and destroy the enemy, but their light armor (or total lack thereof) frequently made them unsuitable for this purpose; rather, the auxiliaries were at their best when aggressively deployed in large skirmish lines or dense assault blocks and columns, meant to rapidly close in and crush the enemy upon achieving local numerical superiority instead of getting bogged down in a protracted melee where their light gear and often poor morale left them at a disadvantage.

    The Taibani also employed infantry mercenaries, who they considered more reliable than their auxiliaries - even if they, being a culture that loved to fight for the sake of fighting, treated the concept of fighting for pay with some disdain. Ometic, western Qormat, fellow Mun'umati and Suuvulk mercenaries could all be found in Taibani ranks. It is uncertain whether they deployed Golga and Thunderbeasts like their northern adversaries did, but what is less uncertain is that the Raging Ones made up for any Thunderbeast deficiency they may have had by introducing elephant warfare to the Riverlands, having purchased the great creatures from the Omete or rounded up elephant herds in their raids into the southwestern savanna around the Lewaye River.

    A clash of auxiliaries: 'Awali soldiers & chariot in Shamshi service engaging Qormat and Ometic warriors fighting for the Taibani, c. 10,480 AA

    After approximately 10,400 AA, there is evidence that the Taibani grudgingly began to adopt elements of 'Awali military strategy after being repeatedly defeated by their Shamshi rivals. This included fielding small contingents of chariots and enlisting equally small quantities of armored 'Awali infantry, who would serve as a heavy core to their infantry that could anchor a battle-line and actually pin down enemy footmen in a head-to-head contest. However, these reforms were adopted too late and in too little quantities to significantly alter the course of the Shamshi-Taibani wars, which were clearly beginning to favor the former by this point in time.

    Map of the Riverlands, c. 10,500 AA

    Yellow - Shamshi lands (red: Hejra)
    Black - Taibani lands (red: Aju-Timeat)
    Blue - 'Illam (red: Sa-Bel)

    By 10,500 AA, the Shamshi had pulled their part of the Riverlands out of the 'dark age' they and their compatriots had inflicted upon it in the first place, the Taibani had built the largest but also the most unstable empire out of the three Mun'umati powers. Their realm was a messy patchwork of tribes, cities and villages bound under a tribe that had made very little effort to assimilate themselves into the existing native cultures or vice-versa, and were thus still viewed as conquering aliens by their subjects; in return, the Taibani continued to enforce their rule with an iron fist, mercilessly falling upon every rebellion with as much force and cruelty as they could muster. Rebellions among the 'Awali in particular grew more and more frequent as word of how much nicer Shamshi rule was by comparison filtered down south, forcing the Taibani to expend more strength putting these revolts down - a new development that would have disastrous consequences for the Raging Ones in the near future...
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; September 26, 2017 at 06:45 AM.

  8. #48
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    The Shamshi are done, just two more to go and then I can say the same about all the Mun'umati nations in the Riverlands.

  9. #49
    Pericles of Athens's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    The Miira: Iron Age
    As the bronze age gave way to the iron we see the western colonies of the Midija limp alongside it. The illustrious city of Itami would lose its luster as it entered the Iron Age, the cafeully crafted network of tributaries and allied states it had created would crumble and the city would be left exposed. That is not to say they would become a "spent" force, rather we begin to see their decline in authority - in particular their decline in authority along the countryside.

    Suufulk Wars
    "A force such as we have never seen, the day of judgement has come. Our mighty armies hide behind our walls, as the screams of our people beyond them grow deafening." - Ill Oile Merchant Prince and Councilor

    By 9,700 we see the first signs of the Suufulk trickling across the mighty Yene river. Within a brief two centuries what had begun as a trickle would became a flood. The countryside was awash with newly militarized Suuvulk hordes, and though these "savages" from the far east had no means to engage in siege warfare, they were more than capable of burning and looting the countryside.

    At first the Itami welcomed the new comers, hardened warriors on horseback that could be used as a seemingly limitless auxiliary force against the Ometic Kingdom further up river. The councilors, blinded by their own greed, had failed to realize that the first Suufulk were simply heralds of countless more of their kind to come. These warriors, hardened by conflict in Midija and against the Yagh on the northern savannas, brought with them fire and brimstone. By 9,960-90 AA the Suufulk had united under a man named May'Mei, he who would become known as the Mother-Crowned. Suufulk records on this period (and the periods that preceded it and follow it) are sparse and those we do have were written centuries later, forcing us to rely on Itami and Ometic records of the conflict.

    Though the accounts differ on details, they seem to agree on one thing, that through military arms and shrewd diplomacy the Mother-Crowned was able to unit many of the Suufulk tribes in the area. He drew in tribes that had lowered themselves to banditry, tribes that served as mercenaries in Sebi'Awi' armies, and even a few migratory Ometic tribes. By 10,000 his army was truly impressive, enough so to frighten the Merchant Princes and Priests of the Council behind Itami's high walls. According to Itami chronicler Tela-Ri "His (Mother-Crowned) armies numbered in the hundreds of thousands, such numbers that the earth shook beneath the hooves of their horses, that the beasts drank rivers dry, and that the dust they uprooted would blot out the sun for days." The description provided by Tela-Ri is difficult to believe. Not only because it is doubtful that the Suufulk could muster such a force, but because keeping such an army stocked and free of disease would be a monumental task. Most modern figures put the number closer to one hundred thousand total, including women and children. It is likely his fighting force didn't exceed thirty thousand men. Whatever the case, this force terrorized the countryside for two decades between roughly 10,000 AA and 10,021 AA.

    Modern Representation of Suuvulk Under the Command of the Crowned One

    The multi colored armies of the Sebi'Awi aristocracy and warrior guilds fought alone, these individual armies and fortified palaces falling one by one, swept aside in a great cultural tide. Eventually the aristocracy began abandoning the less defensible rural palaces, and taking refuge behind the great walls of Itami alongside the warrior's guilds that policed and defended the city. Here the Sebi'Awi were safe, even as the countryside burned.

    Most Golga had remained upon the Great Plains during and following the cataclysm. But those that had migrated alongside the Suuvulk hordes found little benefit in the conflict launched by the Crowned One, they sought no gold, nor tribute, preferring to peacefully (relatively) patrol the countryside. However some petty chiefs, united under Gruun the Great (self proclaimed King of the Giant Folk), would join his cause. How they were convinced to join such a martial campaign is a subject of much debate to this day, most historians agree they were likely offered a land of their own, that would be maintained and farmed by human labor. Whatever the case, the records suggest that "one and one hundred" of the Giant Folk joined with the crowned one.

    The war came to a head in the Spring of 10,021 AA. The Sebi'Awi had united their various forces behind the walls of Itami, and in the face of a new raid sallied forth to meet their foe upon the floodplains of the Yene. The chronicler Tela-Ri had this to say of the united slaver force that assembled there, "forty thousand proud Sebi'Awi stood the field that day, draped in clothes of greens, reds, and blues, their captains glistening in bronze plate with swords of sky forged iron (a term used to describe the meteor metal of the eastern Suuvulk) foot soldiers in iron scale with spears, and swords, and axes in equal measure." One must note that modern historians put the number closer to thirty thousand. In the absence of Suuvulk accounts we must once again rely on Tela'Ri to set the scene for the Suuvulk encampment, "the hundreds of thousands of horsemen assembled under the Crowned One appeared as demons from atop our walls, the men exposed their chests for battle and howled profanities in their foul tongue, some defecated in the direction of our peerless walls. A hundred or more of the Giant ilk stood among their rank as well, rallied about their mockery of a king, an overgrown ape with a ring of iron the size of a cart's wheel about his head." Once again, I must note the number of Suuvulk is now estimated closer to 50-60,000 fighting men, the figures for the Golga host seem off as well - assuming only adult male Golga were there the number is likely closer to fifty.

    Whatever the figures, it seems safe to say the Sebi'Awi under Councilor Tel Uyen, of the warrior guilds, were outnumbered by a fair margin. The foot soldiers of the Sebi'Awi assembled themselves with their right flank toward the river, opting to put all their cavalry upon the exposed left flank. When the battle began victory for the Suuvulk seemed inevitable, the Crowned One charge and the slavers prepared for their defeat. But defeat did not come that day. The ground had seen significant seasonal flooding earlier that month, leaving the soil soft and muddy, marked with mud traps and unstable ground. If the account provided by Tel Uyen is to be believed, it was this muddy ground that bogged down the Suuvulk cavalry and ensnared their giants. Slow and ineffectual, their cavalry broke on the spear wall of the Warrior guilds, and city militia. When they attempted to retreat the mud caused many skilled horsemen to fall from their horses, one such rider was the Crowned One himself, who was then slain by Tel Uyen in single combat. With their King dead many Suuvulk chiefs began to flee the field with their men, though many rallied around the Golga that still held the field. Soon after, Gruun the Great was slain by a previously unknown militia man (Reshgit). A lucky spear strike through the spine was enough to kill the King of the Giants, distracted as he was with a hundred arrows lodged in his skin. With their king dead the Golga quit the field in mass, trampling friend and foe alike as they did. This was enough to turn a withdrawal into a rout, thousands perished as they attempted to flee, some were speared as they ran, or shot by Sebi'Awi arrows, others were trampled by their own horses or even their human kin, others ran from the madness into the Yene and drowned. It is said the river ran red for fourteen days and fourteen nights, and that from that day forward the plains directly north of Itami produced food that tasted of human flesh.

    Modern Sketch of Gruun the Great Before his Untimely Death

    The battle was won, and the dominion of the Suuvulk in the region was diminished. Never again would the savage eastern horsemen assemble such a host in the region. But the cost was grave, thousands Itami's soldiers lied dead, tens of thousands of civilians and slaves across the countryside lied dead as well.. from two decades of war. It would take inspired leadership to unsure this weakness did not herald the final end of the Illustrious city.

    Miira: A new identity for a new time

    Sometime between 9,600 AA and 10,100 AA the Sebi’Awi colonies of the Ometic Sea, which had departed from their fore bearers long ago in a cultural sense, began to start thinking of themselves as something entirely distinct from the Sebi’Awi of Midija. This break with their cultural roots was only reinforced by the destruction of Midija by the K’Uta and the Medhanddassi. They began to refer to themselves as Miira (meaning “the Westerners”) in literature and art, by 10,200 AA we see nearly no mentions of the term “Sebi’Awi” at all, outside scholarly histories.

    By 10,000 AA the caste system of Old Midija was non-existent among the Miira, there were effectively three levels of society. At the bottom you had the slaves, treated in largely the same way as they had been treated under the old caste system, they had no rights as property to be bought and/or sold, slave labor completed nearly all unskilled labor in Miira society. This bottom level was considerably larger than either of the levels above it, but was kept in line through systematic terror campaign run against them. The middle strata of society were the “free” citizens of the cities, encompassing everything from small farm owners, to average soldiers, to potters and blacksmiths, even artists. As the Miira entered the Iron Age art become a symbol of status, and many great men began funding lavished projects to beatify their city. Finally, there were the wealthiest members of the city states that had the privilege of running the state. This level could be a landed aristocracy, mine owners, merchant princes, military officers or a combination of them all, in general the city states of Miira were run by oligarchies, military juntas, and plutocracies.

    Though the City States of Miira were highly competitive and diverse there were things that united them, among them their use of Classic Sebi’Awi script. They were unilaterally famed for their savvy in trade, creating a harmful stereotype of their kind as a tricky and greedy people. Every city had its own trade goods, from the exotic animals sold out of Itami to the pleasure slaves of Iriki, which could be found in markets half way around the world. Overall they exported slaves, exotic animals and animal products, linens and dyes, tobacco products for smoking and chewing, and finally opium.

    The Peacock Legions

    "I once knew an Allawaure man, one of those far western folk from beyond the seas. He confused our (Egeti) battle lines with a rainbow, though I can hardly fault him for it." - Poetic verse from the journal of an Egeti merchant

    Following the disastrous Suuvulk Wars exposed serious faults in the traditional fighting forces of the Miira. Over the next three centuries the various city states of the Ometic coast began experimenting with new formations, armaments, and tactics. By 10,300 AA nearly every city state had adopted a similar solution to their predicament. Their infantry was a compromise between lighter and heavier elements, equipped with oval shields made from wicker, covered in hardened hide, and sometimes even rimmed with iron, short spears, double sided short swords, and bows, in addition they wore single disc armor beneath their colorful flowing robes. At range these troops would fire volleys of arrows to soften the enemy, before advancing on them with a wall of wicker shields and spear tips. These infantrymen were complimented by light cavalry of Suuvulk design, armed with sickle swords and bows, some units would carry spears to lance enemies in a charge. These cavalrymen wore limited armor, usually little more than crocodile hide jerkins beneath their robes. Miira soldiers were famed more for their gaudy dress than their skill in battle, bright yellows, blues, and reds turned a battlefield into an art display, while only the most important men were permitted to use purple dye. Men tried to outdo their fellows by having the brightest colors or the most intricate geometric patterns on their robes.
    Depiction of troops marking the western gate of Itami

    The real notable innovation of the Miira military was the creation of expendable military units with explicit command structures, all the way down to squads of twenty-five men. This division of units allowed for greater flexibility and logistical support. These tactical divisions were pioneered by the Itwali military junta. Though at during the early Iron Age it was little more than a footnote.

    The greatest strength of the Miira lied at sea. Where the men of the west built upon the designs of their forefathers, they made their ships faster and capable of traveling by wind power or rowing power alone. The decks were made smaller and a bronze ram was added to the helm of the vessel. Marines on these ships were like infantrymen on land, without the spears, and with a smaller round shield. These innovations didn't just benefit military crafts, they allowed the construction of larger and faster trade vessels, ones that fared better when set against the open sea.

    Miira Cities

    Itami: The greatest of the Miira City States and one of the oldest, built on top of the old Ometic capital of Omet. The eternal city was weakened considerably by the Suuvulk War, they would never again rise to the complete prominence they held during the late bronze age. Ruled by a council of 21 leaders, one from each of the Great Merchant Families for a total of ten, six from the officer corps of the Military Guilds, four in total from the rural aristocrats, and one magi from the priestly temples. Unlike the other cities, where priests became entirely irrelevant, the priests of Itami retained a single seat on the council, and there by a voice (even if a small one). The rise and expansion of the New Ometic Kingdom put a great deal of pressure on Itami’s borders, prompting public fears that a new war would come to their gates toward the end of the Iron Age. This fear of another war prompted the elites of the city to move their residences from the Inner City on the mainland, to the island of Beti (a large river bound island to the south) where their fleets could protect them.

    Layout of Itami in 10,550 AA

    The Inner City: Encompassing the entirety of Old Omet, though by the Iron Age it would be hardly recognizable. Home to the great port of Itami, said to be able to hold five hundred warships at one time. In the Bronze Age it was home to the Merchant Princes and Aristocrats, but by the Iron Age it housed merchants, artisans, craftsmen, academics, medics, military officers in their stead. The buildings are colored in gaudy reds, blues, greens, and yellows, with colored tiles on the roofs. A small army of slaves cleaned the streets here regularly, and all manner of foreign people would trade in the marketplace beside the dock, quire animals and exotic curious were the norm. The entire section of the city is hemmed in by the Inner Walls (from which the city section gets its name), that separate it from the Outer City. Records suggest it held less than 4,000 free residents at any time.
    Outer City: Encompassing the majority of the city proper is the Outer City. Comprised of hovels, this section of the city is filthy and greatly overpopulated the walls covered with graffiti laced with profanity, here you will find all manner of lower humans, dock workers, oarsmen, beggars, crippled veterans, and the like. There were a large amount of personal farms and gardens within the Outer Walls during the Iron Age, unlike the slave labor plantations beyond the walls of the city these were meant to feed (or supplement the diet of) individual families. This section of the city also houses many criminals, including prostitutes and thugs. The Outer City is protected from the outside world by the Great White Walls of Itami, a marble faced monstrosity that had (at that time) never once been overcome. Estimates suggest this section of the city held anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 residents, both free and enslaved, by the middle Iron Age.
    Beti: The island of the elites, where the leaders of the city fled after the Suufulk Wars. The placid island was covered in the palatial palaces of the Merchant Princes of the Great Families, high ranking military officers, and landed aristocrats that rather not live outside the cities walls. According to contemporary poetry fountains, statues, gardens, and orchards covered the landscape, and the greatly improved council chambers crafted from red marble and adorned with statues of former councilmen. A decently sized port was built here after the council changed its living accommodations, some goods traveled through it, but it was mainly used to load and unload the pleasure barges of the councilpersons and their families, and welcome foreign dignitaries. A number of sizable barracks, garrisoned by veteran troops, were built here as well. This riverbound island, and its sister island Neti, were part of the city proper in little but name and administration. As both were rural and sparsely inhabited (compared to the crowded streets of Itami proper).
    Neti: A slave island, and the armored breadbasket of Itami, though incapable of feed the entire city it was more than capable of feeding those on Beti if the worst would come to pass. Populated by a large slave population, watched over by a significant number of fully staffed barracks.
    Yun'Ti Island: Also known as victory island and the site of the Colossus of Itami, the great statue of the High Priest Yun'Ti dominated the small speck in the river. It was in the Iron Age, not the Bronze Age, that a two inch layer of bronze was added to the statue, so that it would glimmer like the sea itself. Home to a small priestly alcove, though limited in importance they were still responsible for certain religious and magical duties - and of course sending their one Councilmen to meetings on Beti.

    Itwali: The youngest of the Miira City States along the Ometic Sea, though second only to Itami in strength. The city does not seem to have existed until 9,950 AA, when the Theocratic Saurii began to buckle under the weight of Miira spears. The city was constructed using building material from the ruined Orios Dietus. It was originally built as a sea side citadel, meant to watch for Suuvulk movements from the north and Saurri movements from the west. It gained prominence during the Great Suuvulk Wars that ravaged the rural lands outside Itami. Many of the civilians that had lived in the fields therein sought to flee as far west as west went, this led them to Itwali. By then the city had already established itself as a well defended military outpost, the last bastion of civilization on the western fringe. The Itwali survived through force of arms, they spurned personal wealth, using the profits of trade to outfit their troops with new and better arms. While most of the Miira were over the top and eccentric on the battlefield the Itwali were practical and bland, coming without the bright colors of their foes (they were famed for brown, gray, and white colorings), instead bringing the finest equipment and the best training. The city was governed by two pairs of generals at any given time, one of each pair was an older experienced general (the Akari) and one was a younger promising officer (the Ewayi). The job of the Akari was to do most of the practical leading alongside his fellow Akari, from military campaigns to civilian management, while the job of the Ewayi was to learn all he could from the Akari. This system ensured smooth transitions of power, and guaranteed that those in power would be both competent and experienced.
    Ewayi being held by an Akari (bearded) crafted from purple marble, 10,510 AA

    Ageti: Sister city and long-term rival to Egeti. Founded on top of a great vein of gold and gems by Ari (the younger twin of Eri, who founded Egeti), the Mining Lords of the city quickly became some of the wealthiest rulers in the entire Miira world. Their goldsmiths and jewelers were famed for crafting the finest jewelry in the Ometic world, and their blacksmiths created finest weaponry. Their armies, while not the finest in battle, wore only the finest apparel and their officers wielded weapons and armor encrusted in gems and precious metals. A chronicler from 10,043 AA spoke of an Egeti army withdrawing from Ageti territory once they saw how finely dressed their troops were.

    Egeti: Sister city and long-term rival to Ageti. Founded by Eri (older twin of Ari, who founded Ageti) at the mouth of the Hyu, a rich river and strategically placed for trade. Legend says that Eri’s city was poor in his time, and in a jealous rage he declared eternal war upon his younger brother. To this day the Merchant Princes of Egeti carry on Eri’s struggle, marching an army into Ageti territory at the end of every summer to fight a minor battle and promptly withdraw. For the rest of the year the two cities got along amicably, well the common citizenry hated each other, but the Mining Lords of Ageti and the Merchant Princes of Egeti had a prosperous business arrangement, Egeti made a pretty penny selling Ageti works and materials abroad, while Ageti made a fine profit selling their materials and crafts to the merchants of Egeti. In addition to exporting Ageti metalwork the men of Egeti produced the finest linens and dyes in the known world, a desirable good in a society so obsessed with fashion.

    Iriki: The pleasure houses of Iriki were famed across the Miira world, and the slaves within know for astounding skill at their craft. Beyond that the city was known for crafting the world’s finest opium products, strong beyond reason, and freely drinking and smoking these substances throughout the city. The celebration of festivals was common in Iriki, and prostitution was not only legal, but widely encouraged for one's health. Besides hedonists the men of Iriki were known cowards, preferring to let their slaves fight for them rather than take up arms themselves. Their slave soldiers fought in similar fashion to citizens soldiers from other cities, however these slaves were raised to know nothing but war from birth, they made for fine soldiers but lacked the spirit and adaptability of other armies. It was all the same to Iriki, they preferred peace to war, as the stresses of battle (even if the freemen didn't fight in them) impeded their ability to enjoy life's bounty. In their revelry the men of Iriki were known as great poets and musicians, so much so that many accounts from the day say that they alone rivaled the artistic products of Itami. Ledgers suggest that the Iriki pioneered a trade route to the Allawuare lands (in around 10,460 AA), finding an as of yet untapped market eager for eastern goods, the Iriki seem to have tried their best to keep the trade route a secret, but were eventually discovered by the Itwali.

    Aleti: During the early Bronze Age it was one of the most powerful Sebi’Awi colonies along the Midija coastline, however the city had lost some of its charm by the Iron Age. The city was brutally subjected to the will of Itami in 9,850 AA, and didn’t gain complete autonomy again until 10,010 AA (a decade into the Suuvulk Wars). Even with independence it remained relatively limited by its own geography, due in part to its rocky soil and in part to conflict with the resurgent Itami. Though relatively weak in wealth and numbers the people of this city were incredibly proud and tenacious, having fought off larger foes on more than one occasion. Ruled by a rural aristocracy often nicknamed the Beggar Princes by more successful Miira cities, in particular Itami.

    Map of the Ometic Sea 10,500

    Red: Itami and Tributaries
    Blue: Aleti and Tributaries
    Orange: Itwali and Tributaries
    Pink: Ageti and Tributaries
    Green: Egeti and Tributaries
    Purple: Iriki and Tributaries
    Gold: Other minor Miira City States and their lands
    Black: Major Miira Cities

    Last edited by Pericles of Athens; November 04, 2017 at 02:14 AM.

  10. #50
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Welp, the 'Illamite section turned out to be too massive to be contained in the old post, so I'm posting it in its own separate megapost. And it's still a WIP too!

    The Narrow Path of the Righteous: 'Illam and the 'Illami
    Modern recreation of the Star of the Righteous Many, also the standard of their Sept of Esoph ('Illami)

    The third and smallest of the three notable Mun'umati nations to emerge from the Riverlander Dark Age were the 'Illamites, or 'Illami - the 'Righteous Many', in their own tongue. Despite their relative weakness compared to the Shamshi and Taibani, as well as their location in the fairly remote northern reaches of the old Zaba-Tutuli Empire, they are actually the best known of the three, on account of having recorded their history in their religious scriptures: the Qabal hith el-'Ilm, or 'Teachings of the Righteous'. While obviously the 'Illamites' retelling of their history is heavily influenced by their teachings, and there are more than a few parts which modern historians believeto be either exaggerated or outright impossible, the fact remains that the Righteous Many left behind a far more complete picture of what they went through during the dark age of 10,015-10,500 AA than either the Shamshi or Taibani did, and in fact a fair amount of what is known of those other two Mun'umati tribes was derived from what the 'Illamites wrote of them in their scriptures.

    According to the Qabal, the 'Illami people got their start with the patriarchal figure Hizzar bet-Haimon, a shepherd with seven sons who heard the voice of the Lord Above (their god) while tending to his flock one night. The Lord Above informed Hizzar that, on account of his simple but virtuous character and lifestyle, he had been chosen to father a nation of 'the righteous many' ('Illami) whom said Lord wished to inherit a promised land & turn it into a paradise on Earth. At the urging of their God, Hizzar and all his kin left their oasis town in the southern Great Sand Sea and began the arduous trek to this promised land, which is referred to as the Heshlema (simply, 'our land', though it was also called the Lem hith el-'Illam or 'land of the righteous' by the 'Illamites themselves after they settled on it), following the North Star which the Lord had proclaimed to be their guide. However, Hizzar died long before they left the Great Sand Sea, passing naturally in his bed at the age of ninety-six (after thirty years of travel, by which point he was called Bel-Hizzar or 'Lord Hizzar'), and it fell to his sons and grandsons to lead the migration which, by this point, had been swelled as more and more Mun'umati joined the growing 'Illamite tribe. Those seven sons of his would thus become the progenitors of the seven clans or 'Septs' - more accurately, castes - of 'Illamite society.

    A woodcut illustration of the Lord Above directing Hizzar to follow the North Star

    However, the 'Illami would not complete their journey in those seven sons' lifetimes, nor in the lifetimes of the next few generations that succeeded them. According to the Qabal, 'six-and-sixty years' after Bel-Hizzar's passing they were surprised and enslaved by the 'Awali at the western edges of the Great Sand Sea, still a ways away from their final destination. For two thousand years, the 'Illami had to labor as slaves beneath the yoke of the 'Awali, who are referred to as the 'river heathens' in the Qabal and were condemned for their cruelty and tendency to draft 'Illami men for their endless wars, while also taking their daughters for the Paramount King's harem. (Zaba-Tutuli records indicate the enslavement of an 'Ilali' tribe around 8200 AA and the 'Awali were not known to be particularly gentle taskmasters in general, so this part may well actually be completely true)

    Around 9,900 AA, the prophet Emel bet-Emek reportedly proclaimed that 'soon' two great hordes from the East would descend upon the river-heathens and lay them low; razing their great cities to the ground, butchering their armies and carrying their own women and children, from the elaborately dressed wives of the princes to humble crofters' women and daughters, away in chains, as the punishment the Lord Above had prepared for that prideful and tyrannical lot. While Emel was promptly executed for his preaching, it turned out that his prophecy was only off by a hundred years. When the rest of the Mun'umati assailed Zaba-Tutul's borders just a little over a century after Emel's death, the 'Illami instantly and unanimously rebelled to support the invaders under the leadership of Yuvel bet-Esef, who the 'Illami venerated as their 'First Prophet', and bravely fought on the side of their erstwhile liberators through both defeats and victories.

    According to the Qabal, the famed Yuvel was born to the priestly caste, though his family was annihilated in a periodic 'Awali purge of the 'Illamites' elite following a rebellion in his infancy, and he was then adopted & raised as a son by the infertile 'Awali princess Balitani: a niece of the 'Awali Paramount King, Muš-eni-bal, whose marriage had produced no children. Upon his sixteenth birthday, Yuvel flew into a fury upon witnessing the savage beating an 'Awali taskmaster was meting out to a pair of slaves (little did he know, they were his cousins), forcing him to flee into the eastern sands. There, he lived for ten years and married the Shamshi lady Idriya, a daughter of the mighty Luminous King Harith bar Hassur. However, upon being saved from heatstroke after getting lost in the desert by the Lord Above and informed of his true heritage, Yuvel returned to 'Awali lands just ahead of the Mun'umati invasion to organize a rebellion among his compatriots, and secured the support of all seven of the great Sept elders after impressing them with miracles that included making fresh water flow from a rock, turning his staff into a serpent and then back again, and feeding a throng of starving 'Illami with but four loaves of bread. In a tale considered to be of even more dubious historicity by modern scholars, he also personally appealed to Muš-eni-bal to let his people go in exchange for being spared from Emel's prophesied horde, only to be repeatedly spurned by the man he once looked up to as an uncle; accordingly, the Lord Above afflicted the 'Awali with nine great disasters in preparation for the tenth and greatest of them all, the Mun'umati invasion itself.

    Artist's imagining of Balitani's discovery of the infant Yuvel, c. 9,980 AA

    Yuvel's background in the royal court of Zaba-Tutul and princely education, no doubt including martial pursuits, gave him an insight into how the 'Awali war machine worked, and he was able to lead his people to victory over their foe time and time again as a result. After the eventual Mun'umati victory and the destruction of Zaba-Tutul, he was universally acclaimed the first Steward of the Lord Above on Earth (or simply 'Samerah', 'steward') by the 'Illami - essentially, their first recognized supreme leader since Bel-Hizzar, superseding the council of seven great elders who had governed them between Bel-Hizzar's death and the defeat of Zaba-Tutul - and following the disintegration of the Shamshi-Taibani alliance, he went on to lead them to Heshlema with no further molestation, using the North Star as their guide just as their ancestors did. Unfortunately, once the Righteous Many arrived at their land of milk and honey at the mouth of the great River Hasbana, they found that there were still 'Awali colonies and pre-'Awali native tribes living there; no doubt, they would have to be expelled, assimilated or exterminated if the Righteous Many were to have any chance of converting the region into Heaven on Earth...

    Artist's illustration of Yuvel directing the 'Illami to cross the Hasbana, c. 10,020 AA

    Which was, of course, exactly what they did. An entire book of the Qabal, the First Book of Stewards, records the wars waged by the 'Illami against the natives of their new neighborhood over an approximately 500-year period (the same length of time it took for the Shamshi to pull themselves out of the dark age they helped inflict on the Riverlands), and frequently describes war crimes following their victories (which, to be fair to the 'Illami, were not exactly exceptional for the time period) in manners as clinical and laconic as 'and upon achieving their victory, the Righteous Many cleansed these lands of (X)' or 'and when the Lord Above had delivered (Y) into their hands, the Righteous slew all the men they could find and took the women and children away in chains'. A few persistent foes did emerge to trouble the 'Illami over the course of many Qabali verse and chapters; chief among them were a pocket of surviving 'Awali towns, led by the city of 'Umm midway up the Hasbana, and the Enezi, a rival Mun'umati tribe that lived in the marshes southeast of 'Illam. Unlike the 'Awali and to a lesser extent the Shamshi, the 'Illami actually recorded their defeats, though they almost always ascribed losses in battle to not being sufficiently faithful to their Lord Above.

    Throughout these wars, they were led by Yuvel and more Stewards after him, including seven more notable 'Great Stewards' - Simcha bet-Tomer, Shachar bet-Yanev, Anat bet-Chabed, Pabel-zeg bet-'Aim, Zalalel bet-Jachin, Atarah bil-Melelem (the only woman among the Great Stewards) and Galad bet-Lior - who were mentioned in more than one chapter of the Qabal, and at least thirty-six 'lesser' Stewards who were mentioned only once or twice each. None of these Stewards inherited their position: rather, they appear to have been elected by a general assembly of the Septs' free men and then blessed by the chief priests of the 'Ilmi, the foremost of the seven tribes of 'Illam. (or, as the Qabal would say, they were 'chosen by the Lord Above and anointed by his foremost servants on the Earth', presumably meaning that the Lord worked through the Septs' voters) The 'Illami do not appear to have used the title of 'king', believing that the only King of the Earth and indeed all creation was the Lord Above, and that their leaders were at best Stewards appointed by Him to...well, steward His chosen people.

    The Steward Zalalel bet-Jachin has two followers hold his hands up in prayer while his men battle the Enezi (the 'Illami win as a result), c. 10,377 AA

    The Illamites are thought to have emerged from their own murky dark age with the ascension of the first hereditary Steward around 10,500 AA: Elech bet-Eyal, a mighty warlord born to the Sept of Rechab. According to the Qabal, when Elech was still a young child his father Eyal took a mortal blow for the Steward Galad bet-Lior in a battle with the Enezi (a rival Mun'umatic tribe), and to repay his debt Galad took Elech into his own household. There, he became fast friends with Galad's son Lior (mentioned to have been a boy of the same age) and proved to excel at his martial training - no other young aspiring warrior in the Steward's household, young Lior bet-Galad included, could shoot faster or more accurately than him, ride faster than him, throw a javelin further or with more precision than him, or defeat him in sparring sessions with spear, sword, ax or club. When Elech and Lior were sixteen, Galad took them with him to the great Battle of the Vale of Haz'rath against the Shamshi, whose host reportedly outnumbered the 'Illami five to one and included a Golga mercenary called Gulg by his foes. Gulg taunted the 'Illami, daring any man brave enough among their ranks to come forth and meet him in single combat, and even lifted his loincloth to flash them. Though they must have been burning with shame, not one of the 'Illamite soldiers and officers, not even Galad himself, stepped forth - until Elech did.

    What happened next was a duel that would enter the realm of legend. At the prospect of fighting an untested warrior, still half a boy, Gulg laughed and told Elech to run home to his mother. Yet Elech persisted, and after he proclaimed that the Lord Above would deliver Gulg's head into his hands, the giant became sufficiently irate to charge at him, iron-headed spear raised high to turn the lad into a bloody smear. Elech stuck three javelins into the earth before him, and threw them one by one at Gulg; the first went too high & grazed the titan's helmet, the second fell too low & barely slowed him down after impacting against his vest of bronze scales, and the third struck the Golga in the eye & sank all the way into his brain. Gulg took one quick step, then a slower one, and finally skidded to a halt (carried forth by the momentum of his charge) before collapsing at Elech's feet. Upon witnessing Elech drawing his downed opponent's great sword, decapitating him with it and then raising the head up in his hands, the 'Illami cheered to the skies and proceeded to defeat the demoralized Shamshi, routing them 'with as much ease as their champion had had in slaying that of the heathen enemy' according to the First Book of Stewards.

    Elech prepares to strike off the fallen Gulg's head while the Shamshi flee in terror, c. 10,495 AA

    At a feast held after the battle, the overjoyed Galad proclaimed Elech his foremost champion and promised him the hand of his eldest daughter, Herut. But this lady was described as plain-looking and five years older than Elech, who in turn had already found himself a love-match in the lowly but beautiful Fayna bil-Ilan, the daughter of a farmer whose homestead he'd passed through with the rest of the 'Illami army on the way to the Vale of Haz'rath - the second-lowest of the seven Septs of Illamite society. While Elech could not refuse Galad publicly, that night he and Fayna eloped, humiliating and outraging their overlord. Galad sent his soldiers to scour the land for the two runaways and bring back their heads, but Lior defied his father and worked to allow Elech and his chosen wife to flee the Steward's wrath for the 'land of Itai', now understood by modern scholars to have been a general term that referred to lands beyond 'Illam's northern borders.

    Three years later, a Shamshi-Enezi alliance invaded 'Illam and crushed Galad's army at the Battle of Benyas, where the Steward was killed and Lior captured. In the confused political situation that followed, Galad's cousin Meit bet-Rotem seized power with the support of his wife Basya bil-Efir (actually his much younger second wife, his first wife and the mother of Herut & Lior having been mentioned as passing away from an illness several verses earlier) and chief scribe Eiran bet-Doron, whose brother in turn was the most senior surviving captain in the 'Illami army. This triumvirate made an unfavorable peace with the Shamshi and Enezi, making significant land cessions and promising to pay a tribute of 1,000 cattle and 2,000 bales of wheat every year; and, cursing the Lord Above for not aiding 'Illam and granting them victory, turned their backs on him. Instead, Meit crowned himself 'King of 'Illam' and married Basya, and ordered the veneration of all three of them as 'Illam's new flesh-and-blood gods.

    Lior bet-Galad gives Elech his sword as he advises him to flee

    Neither Meit's proclamation of godhood nor his surrender were accepted by most of 'Illami society, and within a year Elech and Fayna returned to find their homeland ablaze in a vicious civil war between the triumvirs (now backed by the Shamshi army) and numerous, but disorganized and leaderless, conservative rebels. Elech naturally aligned himself with the latter and, upon proclaiming that he would restore the old faith and ways, was named a 'man after the Lord's own heart' by High Priest Meshul'el bet-Keshor and unanimously acclaimed Steward by the insurgents...on the condition that he take Herut as his second wife, thereby unifying the most conservative elements of the rebellion with those from the lower Septs. He defeated Meit's armies and his Shamshi allies time and time again, while the triumvirs were wracked by internal divisions; Basya seduced Eiran's brother into assassinating him after she came to suspect he was planning to order her own death, and was later herself strangled by Meit after trying to poison him at supper without taking into account the likelihood that he'd have a food-taster on hand.

    Alone and abandoned by virtually all of his followers, the increasingly unstable Meit fled 'Illamite lands around 10,499 AA and returned at the head of a Shamshi army before Elech could consolidate his rule, but was defeated and slain in the Battle of Pinchon on the 'Illami-Shamshi border; according to the Qabal, when the battle was lost he dressed himself in woman's clothing and attempted to flee, having garbed one of his slain bodyguards in his own ostentatious armor, but was run down and killed by Elech himself. As part of the peace terms, the Shamshi had to return all of the land Meit ceded to them and release Lior, while the tribute the 'Illami owed them was reduced by half (and, within a year, went unpaid). Thus did Elech emerge as the undisputed ruler of the 'Illami, and his founding of their first permanent capital at the mouth of the Hasbana - which he named Sa-Bel, 'seat of the Lord', in honor of his people's divine patron - marks the end of the Riverlander Dark Age north of Shamshi territories.

    Steward Elech enters his new capital of Sa-Bel in triumph, c. 10,500 AA

    The early 'Illamite language
    The language of the 'Illami belonged to the broader Mun'umati language family, but shows markedly less 'Awali influence than Shamshi. Instead, it appears to be more heavily influenced by their Mun'umati rivals the Enezi as well as non-'Awali natives of the land around the River Hasbana, well north of the traditional 'Awali homelands: after all, it marked the northernmost reaches of 'Awali power and was settled by relatively few 'Awali from their homeland between the Abanarir & Muryurir Rivers further south.

    Modern speech Proto-Mun'umati Early 'Illami
    Man, men Mat, umati Bat, bat'i
    Woman, women Nisa, ranisa Bil, bil'isa
    Fire Saťaš Sethas
    Water Ha'mul Hem'el
    Virtue Mayit Me'et

    'Illami society
    The society of the early 'Illamites can be best described as a theocratic caste system. While officially led by a Steward elected by an assembly of all free men of each of its seven Septs to rule for life, these Stewards mostly served as war-leaders, and internal affairs were largely handled by the first of the Septs: one comprised entirely of priests and their families, who were also judges and jurists capable of initiating proceedings to depose Stewards who displeased them & outlawing members of the community for any crime. It was governed by the Twelve Commandments handed to Yuvel by the Lord Above in the last chapter of the Qabal's Book of Flight, upon which all other 'Illami laws were based, indicating that they were indeed as puritanical as a society as their Shamshi and Enezi adversaries described them:
    Quote Originally Posted by The Twelve Commandments of the Lord Above
    1. Thou shalt have no lord but Me, the Lord Above, and no king save I, the King of All Creation.

    2. Thou shalt invoke My Name only in praise or prayer, never in vain.

    3. Thou shalt keep the seventh day of the week holy, by performing no labor and consuming no alcohol.

    4. As thou honor Me, the father of all Creation, so too should thou honor thine own father and mother.

    5. Thou shalt not murder.

    6. Thou shalt not engage in sexual relations outside of the bounds of lawful matrimony.

    7. Thou shalt not covet anything that belongs to thine neighbor, nor want more than what is thine fair share and which thou need'st to live.

    8. Thou shalt not utter deceit, but serve My Truth with all thine strength.

    9. Thou shalt not shy away from work in the name of the Lord Above.

    10. Thou shalt not overindulge thine appetites.

    11. Thou shalt not oppress those weaker than thee among the faithful, but defend them from the depredations of the unjust mighty.

    12. If thou should breach any of the above Commandments, thou shalt sincerely confess and repent for thine sins with the utmost haste.
    As mentioned above, these Commandments were then used as the foundation of 'Illami jurisprudence. Any free man of 'Illam who had been charged with a crime was supposed to be guaranteed a trial before a jury of their peers (specifically, seven randomly chosen men, one from each of the 'Illami Septs) that was presided over by an ordained priest, with the jurors deciding his guilt or innocence and the presiding priest then issuing his sentence based on said jury's verdict. Curiously, the 'Illami legal system operated on a presumption of innocence even in this dark age. The extra-Commandment laws and some recorded cases (likely for the purposes of demonstrating how these laws worked in practice), stretching from the time of Yuvel to the days of Anat, were compiled in the Book of Commands, some examples being:

    Excerpts from the Book of Commands
    Quote Originally Posted by Book of Commands, 10:15-21, 11:1-9
    Be careful to obey these commands I am issuing unto you, which I do at the command of the Lord Above in turn, so that you might please Him and do nothing but good in His sight.
    The Lord Above will deliver into your hands the faithless nations that occupy Hashlema. But when He has done this,
    you must be certain not to be ensnared by so much as inquiring after their false gods, nor their foreign customs.
    You must not turn to their gods, which have no power and have failed them, nor revere the Lord Above in their ways, which are despicable in His eyes, but instead raze their temples and destroy their idols when you see them.
    Those among the Righteous who do turn to the false gods of foreigners are apostates, and must die.
    This, above everything else I am about to command of you, you must be diligent in observing.

    If a prophet or warlock appears among the Righteous, and promises signs and miracles,
    and if the sign or miracle takes place, yet the conjurer ascribes his works to a god other than the Lord Above, and encourages you to follow that god of his,
    you must turn a deaf ear to his words, for he in truth serves the Lord Below in one of his many masks, as do all heathens.
    It is the Lord Above whom you should solely serve. Keep His commands and listen only to His words.
    The prophet or warlock must be put to death for trying to incite rebellion against the Lord who freed your ancestors in your heart, and for trying to lead the Righteous away from the narrow path which He has set for them.
    If your brother, your wife, or your son or daughter secretly entices you to embrace a false god,
    do not heed them, express pity or understanding for them, spare them or shield them from your wrath and the wrath of the Lord Above.
    They must die, and your hand must be the first in putting them to death.
    Let all the Righteous know what you have done, so that they may be filled with fear and wonderment at your zeal which pleases the Lord Above, and so that no other will ever attempt such a thing again.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 11:8-10
    If one among the Righteous steals something belonging to another, he must be punished.
    He who has stolen for the first time shall pay with his good hand;
    he who has stolen for the second time shall pay with his life.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 12:25-29
    If one among the Righteous is found guilty of maiming or slaying another, what he has done must be done unto him in turn.
    If he has struck a blinding blow, he must be blinded;
    if he has amputated a hand or foot, he must lose a hand or foot of his own;
    if he broke a bone, the same bone within him must be broken;
    and if he killed his fellow Faithful, so too must he die.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 12:35-36
    If one who professes to walk the Righteous Path violates another, he must be put to death.
    You are to take him from even the altar of the Lord Above, who permits this so that he may die.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 13:10-16, 14:15-16
    Those among the Righteous cannot be placed in bondage by another among the Righteous; for we Righteous are all slaves only to our Lord Above.
    If one who professes to walk the Righteous Path should enslave, sell into slavery or purchase in chains his brother or sister in the faith, he must die.
    Only if one among the Righteous intends to immediately set free a brother or sister in the faith who has been enslaved by foreigners, can he purchase him or her.
    Your slaves must come from the godless around you; from foreign heathens, you may purchase foreign heathens as slaves, and to them you may also sell foreign heathens as slaves.
    You may bequeath your slaves unto your children and your children's children.
    If you sire a child with a slave, that child will not be a slave, but must be raised and treated as a full-blooded member of your Sept.

    If one among the Righteous owes another a debt and offers to work it off, the debtor may become an indentured servant to his creditor.
    But he must be released from indenture when he has worked off his debt, and even should he die in indenture, his debts will not pass on to his children.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 14:1-3
    If a foreigner dwells among you, you must not mistreat him without due cause.
    Instead, show him the hospitality you would show a guest from among your fellow Righteous.
    As honey attracts more flies than vinegar, so too will kindness and open arms be more likely to compel him to see the righteousness of the ways of the Lord Above than cruelty and a closed fist.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 16:1-7
    In times of war, if the Lord Above has delivered a heathen foe into your hands, this is what you must do.
    You must raze their temples, destroy their idols, burn their sacred poles and kill all of their priests and wise men, so that your children and your children's children may grow old in ignorance of their heathen ways.
    Unless otherwise commanded, you are not to slay those among their men who yield to you, but take them away in chains.
    Unless otherwise commanded, you are not to slay their women and children who are not orphans, but take them away in chains.
    You are to adopt any orphans below the age of four into your household, raise them as you would the son of a fallen friend, and ensure that they learn our ways without learning any of their fathers' ways.
    You are to give any orphans above the age of four to the care of the Sept of Shur, where they are to be raised in our ways.
    If you are one of the Shurim, you may adopt orphans above the age of four into your household, and personally teach them the ways of the Lord and raise them as if they are your own.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 18:14
    Do not charge a brother or sister in the faith interest; not on money, not on food, not on victuals or anything else that may be lent on interest.
    You may, however, charge interest on anything you loan to a foreigner.
    Quote Originally Posted by Commands 20:1-7
    You must not lie with your neighbor's wife;
    with women who you are not married to in general;
    with your close kin;
    with the beasts;
    if you are man, with another man;
    if you are woman, with another woman.
    For these are all abominable in the sight of the Lord Above.

    'Illami society was divided into seven tribes or 'Septs', each of which were further divided into clans comprised of dozens of closely-related individual families, and the chief clan of each tribe claimed descent from one of the seven sons of the 'Illami patriarch Bel-Hizzar, who gave his name to the overall Sept; Esoph, Kan'ah, Rechab, Deror, Vel'el, Sever and Shur. While in the 'Illami's early days each of these Septs functioned more or less like the average tribe within a greater confederacy, by the time of Elech they had become more like castes and factions within a more organized and hierarchical society, with each Sept being accorded a rank in the 'Illami polity, having a specific role for which they were raised practically from birth to fulfill, and being restricted in their marriage choices: one could only marry within at most one Sept above or below their own, and naturally in-Sept marriages were preferred. The father's Sept determined the Sept of his son or daughter. These Septs were supposed to work together for the betterment of the Righteous in general, and it was expected that their synergy and division of labor would produce an efficient and harmonious society.

    The Esophim, whose leading Bet-Esoph clan claimed direct descent from Bel-Hizzar's eldest son and whose starry blue-and-white standard is thought to have been the flag of the 'Illami faith and nation in general (certainly it was flown above all other 'Illami standards on the battlefield), occupied the pinnacle of 'Illami society and were in effect a priestly caste. Esophim boys were required to study the Qabal from their third birthday onward, were taught how to read and write at the same time, and took vows to abstain from wine, grapes, liquor of any sort, and any substance (including vinegar) made from the above; to never cut their hair; and to never defile their hands by touching a corpse or grave, not even those of their close kin, at the age of twelve. By the age of fourteen they were expected to start reading from the Qabal to others and to have held at least one public sermon, and two years later they would be drafted into the Sacred Band, the sole standing regiment of the 'Illami army which served as temple guards in peacetime and an elite mixed corps in wartime, for a five-year period. Upon reaching their 21st birthday, one in every five Esophim boys would remain part of the Sacred Band, while the rest were formally ordained into the priesthood. They are thus also known as 'Those Who Pray'.

    As clerics, they were responsible for reading from the Qabal and sermonizing to their flock every seventh day; for leading public prayers and major religious celebrations; for presiding over trials and sentencing criminals who had been found guilty by a seven-man jury comprised of randomly chosen men from each of the Septs, including a second Esophim; for anathematizing apostates, heretics and dissidents (exiling them from 'Illam, depriving them of the right to any sort of religious rite and making it legal for anyone to kill them on sight); and for counseling the Stewards together with the Kan'ahim and Rechabim. In matters of law, they worked together with the Kana'him The Esophim also, alone out of all the Septs, retained veto power over the election of new Stewards in this early period. Perhaps not by coincidence, most Stewards of the time (including Yuvel and Galad bet-Lior, first and last of the pre-Elech Stewards of 'Illam) were Esophim.

    Artist's imagining of an ordained Esophim priest in his white-and-blue robes, c. 10,500 AA

    The patriarchs (defined as the oldest living male, irregardless of his degree of kinship to the preceding patriarch) of the Bet-Esoph clan proper occupied a unique position, as the High Priests of old 'Illam. They were the supreme religious leaders of the Righteous Many, and no major decision (such as going to war) could be made without their presence. It was they who performed important animal sacrifices to please the Lord Above, who accompanied 'Illami armies to war to boost morale with further religious services, and they alone could initiate proceedings to depose a Steward whom they judged to be insufficiently pious and competent. High Priests were expected to remain aloof from the general populace except when conducting major ceremonies, and thus could not mingle with anyone outside of the ranks of the Esophim, be seen in public outside of his ceremonial robes and jeweled breastplate, or enter a public bath, for example.

    Meshul'el bet-Keshor, the High Priest in the time of Elech, in ceremonial garb c. 10,500 AA

    The Kan'ahim, whose leading Bet-Kan'ah clan claimed descent from Bel-Hizzar's second son, were placed directly below the Esophim on the 'Illami socio-politico-religious ladder. They were the designated scribes, scholars, physicians and book-keepers of the Righteous Many, and like the Esophim, were taught to read and write from a young age. Unlike the priestly Esophim, they were not permitted to conduct religious ceremonies. Instead, the Kan'ahim busied themselves with the writing and preservation of records & new copies of the Qabal on papyrus, writing letters for illiterate high-status 'Illami, jurisprudence, accounting, poetry, storytelling and treating the wounded or ill of 'Illam. In peacetime they also frequently participated in diplomatic missions alongside the Vel'elim, and in wartime they were 'Illam's chief siege engineers. They are accordingly also known as 'Those Who Write'.

    The Kan'ahim standard was recorded as depicting a crown (representing the Lord Above, King of all Creation) above a golden eye and open hands (representing the observant Kan'ahim themselves & their duty to use their knowledge for the betterment of their fellow faithful), from which descended a winged and twisted staff (representing knowledge, given from above). Yuvel's immediate successor as Steward, Simcha bet-Tomer, came from the ranks of this Sept, as did Meit bet-Rotem and Eiran bet-Doron - two of the usurping triumvirs who tried to turn 'Illam from the narrow Path of the Righteous in the time of Galad bet-Lior and Elech bet-Eyal.

    Modern recreation of the Kan'ahim standard

    A Kan'ahim scholar, c. 10,500 AA

    The Rechabim, whose leading Bet-Rechab clan claimed descent from Bel-Hizzar's third son, fell in line behind the Esophim & Kan'ahim. They were the warrior caste of ancient 'Illami society, with the boys training to fight and sparring with one another in training yards, racing in the riding grounds and competing in the archery ranges as soon as they could walk. In wartime, while all able-bodied 'Illami were expected to contribute, the Rechabim would undoubtedly provide the bulk of 'Illam's best troops, a solid core of professional soldiers that would form the center of any battle-line and around whom the men of the other Septs could rally around. On their sixteenth birthday, each Rechabim boy would be assigned to a specific battlefield role (determined by exactly which areas they excelled in during training) in which they were to serve for life; some became masterful skirmishers, but most were slated to become heavy infantry and cavalry, and thus form the heaviest fighting arm of 'Illam's hosts. Who got to serve as the officers of the 'hundreds' and 'thousands' (apparently regimental units within the Rechabim contingents) were decided in contests of strength, where dozens of the highest-born Rechabim would clobber each other in (non-lethal) sparring sessions, with the top three victors being made into commanders. Rechabim women were known to exhort their menfolk to either return with their shields or upon them, as well, and retreating in battle without explicit orders was considered so disgraceful that the man who did that would have little alternative to becoming a social pariah beyond suicide. They are accordingly also known as 'Those Who Fight'.

    The Rechabim standard, as recorded in the Qabal, depicted a black-and-grey Lightbringer on a blood-red background, denoting their grim role as the bloody-handed defenders of the Righteous and the vanguard of their religion against all who have yet to be enlightened - whether it be by the word, or by an ax leaving a big enough hole in their skull for the Lord's light to shine through. Elech, the first of the hereditary Stewards of 'Illam and one of their greatest heroes, was one of the Rechabim - indeed he was the nephew of the Rechabim patriarch at the time, though on account of his relative youth when he attained Stewardship of 'Illam, he himself didn't become the Sept's official patriarch until he was 50.

    Modern recreation of the Rechabim standard

    A Rechabim heavy spearman (with the shield that he's expected to return with, dead or alive), c. 10,500 AA

    The Derorim, whose leading Bet-Deror clan claimed descent from Bel-Hizzar's fourth son, were the fourth great tribe in 'Illami reckoning. They were the Sept of landowners or, as the Qabal calls them, 'lesser stewards' in charge of managing the lands of the Earth in the name of their Creator and true owner. The Derorim were thus one of the most powerful forces in the 'Illami countryside, a hereditary caste that ruled estates worked on by slaves and serfs from the Septs of Sever & Shur from manorial fortresses in a manner that was not all that dissimilar to the Shamshi Amyrs. In times of war, they were responsible for providing the army with horses and mules (and early on, camels as well), and typically fought as cavalrymen when required to serve in a more direct fashion. They are accordingly also known as 'Those Who Rule'.

    The Derorim standard, as recorded in the Qabal, depicted a queen bee, which ruled its colony as they were expected to govern their feudatories. The only woman known to have served as Steward in the pre-Elech 'archaic' period, Atarah bil-Melelem, was one of the Derorim, and known to have been a staunch conservative who fought few wars (surprisingly, given the role of the early Stewards as warchiefs) but won all of those that she did fight, notably enslaved the entirety of the Had'ri tribe of rival Mun'umati upon defeating them around 10,410 AA, and collaborated with the Esophim to reinforce the divisions between & social roles of the Septs.

    Modern recreation of the Derorim standard

    A Bet-Deror patriarch embraces his son, c. 10,480 AA

    The Vel'elim were the fifth Sept in 'Illami reckoning, and the Bet-Vel'el clan which sat at their head claimed descent from Bel-Hizzar's fifth son. Theirs was the Sept of merchants, explorers and diplomats, whose members were the first to be sent as envoys to foreign powers and freely engaged in commerce. The Vel'elim thus drove the construction of new road networks, frequently exhorted the Rechabim to keep said roads clear for trade or else saw to it themselves by hiring their own guards, managed trading caravans and seaborne or riverine convoys, arranged trade deals abroad, and shared the burden of accounting with the Kan'ahim. They also lent and borrowed from each other and members of the other Septs in addition to foreigners, though they could only charge interest on loans made to foreigners. They are accordingly also known as 'Those Who Trade'.

    The Vel'elim standard, recorded in the Qabal, reportedly depicted a blue-and-white anchor with scales on a white-and-blue field. The one Steward known to have been provided by this Sept, Anat bet-Chabed, implemented the usage of seashells as currency among the 'Illami; besides that, they do not appear to have played much of a role in early 'Illami society, though the founding of Sa-Bel as a major trading port and fixed capital by Elech would tremendously strengthen the Sept in time.

    Modern recreation of the Vel'elim standard

    A Vel'elim caravan winding through the countryside, c. 10,500 AA

    The sixth Sept of ancient 'Illami society were the Severim, whose primary clan of Bet-Sever claimed Bel-Hizzar's sixth son as their progenitor. They were the Sept of farmers, both freeholders who owned their own small plots of land (and who might even have a small number of other, less fortunate Severim working for them as hired laborers) and technically free tenant farmers who worked on the fields of the Derorim. Regardless of whether or not they owned the land they lived and farmed on, however, the Sever'im were effectively bound to it - freeholders always had to worry about envious neighbors breaking the Seventh Commandment and moving in on their farmstead while they were away, while tenants legally could not leave until they accumulated enough wealth to purchase their own plot of land and also found a willing buyer in a time period when few Derorim and fellow Severim alike wished to part with even a fraction of their estates. They are thus quite aptly referred to as 'Those Who Farm'.

    Due to the Great Cooling and their more northerly location, away from the 'Awali floodplains and the larger Abanarir & Muryurir Rivers to the south, Severim farmers tended to grow wheat over rice (which remained the primary crop of the 'Awali and later Shamshi, at least at the mouths and sources of the two great rivers) and alongside barley. Accordingly, bread replaced rice as the staple dish of the 'Illami.

    The Sever'im banner, recorded in the Qabal, depicted a black ox's head on a plain brown field. Fayna bil-Ilan, the chosen wife of the Steward Elech, was from a Severim family.

    Modern recreation of the Severim standard

    Two Severim women chatting as they work in the fields with their families, c. 10,500 AA

    The last and least of the Septs in all but numbers were the Shurim, whose leading clan of Bet-Shur claimed descent from the seventh and youngest of Bel-Hizzar's sons. They were the tribe of servants and craftsmen, toiling away day by day for the other six Septs in various capacities: some helped their betters farm or fish or cut wood in the fields and rivers, others baked mud-bricks and thatched roofs for houses, and still others made simple clay pottery or worked as wet-nurses for the children of priests and landowners, et cetera. Despite its lowly position however, this Sept was also the largest, being the most likely to absorb new 'Illami - namely, the orphans of destroyed rival peoples who were then to be brought up in the 'Illami ways - and also the most flexible socially, as Shurite children would traditionally spend some years (usually between the ages of 11 and 15) in the service of a family from a higher Sept and could be promoted to that Sept's ranks if they sufficiently impressed their temporary masters. The Shurim were referred to as 'Those Who Serve' in their time.

    The standard of the Shurim, recorded in the Qabal, depicted a plain black ant (quite fittingly, as it is a humble yet numerous and hard-working insect) on a light brown field. Of all the Septs, the Shurim provided few notable individuals and certainly nobody that ever came close to becoming Steward in the dark age of the Riverlands, but were noted to act quite effectively as a bloc when sufficiently oppressed or threatened by the higher Septs.

    Modern recreation of the Shurim standard

    Shurim women carrying water jugs under the watch of a Rechabite overseer and a fellow Shurite guard, c. 10,500 AA

    Although the Septs were supposed to live in harmony and work together flawlessly to support one another & turn 'Illam into paradise on Earth, this was not always the case, to put it mildly. The general assemblies of the Septs to elect a new Steward when the old one died always promised to be rowdy affairs, and at these gatherings the Septs functioned more like political parties than castes or tribes: there were, after all, no secret ballots, and each caste voted as a bloc. Certain voting patterns and electoral alliances emerged: the three lower Septs would on occasion band against the four above them, and some assemblies devolved into violence - most notably the assembly of 10,158 AA, where the three lower Septs were unexpectedly joined by the Kana'him in their bid to get the Sever'ite Mat'el bet-Edan elected Steward; the Esophim, outraged at the unexpected defeat of their own candidate, exercised their veto, and as a result 'Illam was plunged into a nine-month civil war until the conservative coalition of Esophim, Rechabim and Derorim relented and a new election was held, where Anat bet-Chabed of the Vel'elim emerged triumphant as a compromise candidate. In another case of intra-'Illami violence, the Severim and Shurim joined forces in a major rebellion against the abuses of the Derorim around 10,400 AA, which ended only when the High Priest arranged another compromise in which he repealed most of the late Stewardess Atariah bil-Melelem's oppressive laws, banned the seizure of Severim farmlands while their men were off fighting in war and proclaimed that Shurim could not be flogged by their masters for not continuing to work after the sun had completely set.

    When Elech consolidated the 'Illami state and founded Sa-Bel, he also set the stage for a sociopolitical realignment. The strengthened Vel'elim and many Shurim would find it natural to enter an alliance with the Kana'him, forming a commercial, progressive (by the standards of the time) and urban bloc that stood in opposition to the provincial and traditionalist alliance of the Esophim, Rechabim, Derorim and Severim; thus did the theme of general class struggle start to wane in importance compared to new struggles between urbanites and rural-dwellers, merchants and those who were bonded to the land or sword, and scholars who pursued worldly knowledge and clerics who searched for divine truths. But, that is a story for another time.

    'Illami religion
    The Tansim el-'Ilm or 'Path of Righteousness', as the 'Illamites call their religion, is best defined as a Mainstream faith of Clerical soul and possessed of a Bastion-of-the-Faith mentality. It is known in far greater detail than the traditions of the Ahl al-Shamshi and Ahl al-Nebu, in large part due to how rigorously the 'Illami recorded and preserved its myriad strict teachings and ordinances in their holy book, the Qabal hith el-'Ilm or 'Teachings of the Righteous'. For this entry, only this first four books of the Qabal are relevant, those four being:
    • The Book of Creation, detailing the creation of the world and humanity and the early stages of the eternal struggle between the Lord Above and His foes.
    • The Book of Flight, detailing the captivity of the Righteous Many beneath the 'Awali, their war of liberation alongside their fellow Mun'umati, and their voyage to the Promised Land.
    • The Book of Commands, a combination of restating the Twelve Commandments handed down from on high and the myriad laws written by the Esophim over the ages.
    • The First Book of Stewards, detailing the reign of various elected Stewards over the Righteous between Yuvel and Galad.

    Like the other Mun'umati religions, the Tansibet was explicitly monotheistic: the deity it revered was called Bel-Azer, the 'Lord Above'. It was said that He was one two beings that existed at the beginning of all things, and it was He who indeed created the material universe in six days before taking the seventh to rest, as outlined in the Book of Creation - the first book of the Qabal:
    • On the first day, the Lord Above created light amidst the dark void that was the then-unborn universe - thought to not just be light in general, but also the sun, moon and stars in particular - and with this light He also created the host of angels.
    • On the second day, to sate the thirst of His angelic creations, He created water and parted it from the firmament, creating sky and sea.
    • On the third day, He and the refreshed angels created the Earth and planted upon it the great Tree of Life, the first plant on which all other life was placed and sustained.
    • On the fourth day, He created all other plant life, which was tended to by the angels.
    • On the fifth day, He created the beasts of the earth, sea and air.
    • On the sixth day, He formed the first two humans from dirt and breathed life into them with a kiss: Ka'han and Sanna. To them He entrusted stewardship over the Tree of Life and all else that lived amidst its branches, while His angels retreated to Heaven.

    The Lord Above shapes the Earth in His hands

    However, despite His power, Bel-Azer is not said to be a completely omnipotent and omnipresent being, capable of doing anything. He has been opposed from the beginning of time by Bel-Bezar, the 'Lord Below', His equal and opposite who found that the light of the sun burned his skin and that the stars blinded him on the first day of creation; in a sudden fury he tried to push these sources of light out of his way, causing the first sunset and darkening Creation. When the Lord Above demanded he explain why he did what he did, the Lord Below instead reached out to some of His angels (as he was a purely destructive force, he could not directly create any minions of his own) and told them that together they could create a better universe than their Creator, one where neither he nor they would have to feel pain or discomfort; and so they went to war with Bel-Azer and those angels who stayed loyal to Him. The rebels were defeated and the survivors cast out from the light forever, to wallow in the abyssal darkness with their master, but there Bel-Bezar devoured them and proclaimed that though he may have lost the first battle of the two deities, their war was still on and would end only when he had corrupted or destroyed all of the Lord Above's creations.

    While the Tree of Life grew above the earth, the Lord Below twisted together a dark and crude imitation in the form of the Lifeless Tree beneath it. Since the second and third days of creation, the Lords Above and Below have remained locked into an unending, evenly matched struggle for control of Creation and the souls of men: Bel-Azer being associated with the light, law & order, logic, peace and creative powers (essentially a divine manifestation of the superego), and Bel-Bezar being associated with darkness, chaos, violence, base emotions and entropy (essentially a divine manifestation of the id).

    Painting depicting the Lord Above chaining & casting the Lord Below through the Interstice and back to his abyssal lair

    Late in the seventh year of creation, Bel-Bezar slipped through the Interstice between the two Trees' roots and, disguised as another human, seduced Sanna away from her husband's side. He brought her beneath the earth, where he revealed his true face and took her by force until she broke beneath him. From what remained of her emerged their seven daughters, all but the youngest said to be 'abominations in human skin' who had their mother's looks on the outside but burned with their father's cruelty and malice (Creation, 2:4-10) - the first demons, though the last at least knew what was horribly wrong with her father and despised him. With these daughters he fathered a legion of monsters, who would serve as his warriors in the war against the Lord Above.

    The Lord Below tempts Sanna

    Meanwhile, Ka'han was naturally enraged at the abduction of his wife, and descended into the Interstice alone in an attempt to rescue her. Against the power of the Lord Below, he obviously failed, and had to be dragged away to safety by a legion of angels...though not before he got to see the mutilated remains of his beloved. Swearing vengeance, he asked the Lord Above to let him and his three sons dwell on the earth, just above the roots of the Tree of Life so that they could stand close to the Interstice's entrance - and thus, close to the home of their foe. The Lord warned him that by permanently descending from the higher reaches of the Tree of Life, Ka'han and his descendants would lose their immortality and be exposed to the diseases and elements of the earth below, but for the love he bore his wife and the righteous fury against the Lord Below that blazed in his heart, Ka'han persisted: thus did man come to age and die naturally. To compensate for his loss of immortality and the resulting inability to learn of every bit of knowledge the Earth might have, the Lord Above created more humans to assist Ka'han; at first, three girls who could grow up to become his sons' wives, but later hundreds, thousands, and finally tens of thousands more men who could help him gather resources and fight the minions of the Lord Below, as well as women with whom these new men could mate.

    Since then, the human race has served as the vanguard of the Lord Above against His foes below the earth. However, there have been some...hiccups along the way, as living on the Earth has left humanity more vulnerable to corruption by both worldly things and the Lord Below than ever. Hiccups like Ka'han's eldest son Av'edan being corrupted by the Lord Below into murdering his younger brother Ben'eqeh in a fit of jealousy as they argued over who should lead humanity while their father's corpse cooled, or worse still when the descendants of Ka'han - bound by fear of death and an inability to learn absolutely everything there is to know - grew increasingly twisted by the machinations of the Lord Below and his demons in the centuries that followed this first murder. The latter culminated in Bel-Qa'mat, a hundredth-generation descendant of Av'edan, unifying the human race, sacrificing his own firstborn to the Lord Below and making preparations to tear open the seal between the Interstice and the earth to let demonkind invade the latter as a stepping stone to rest of the Tree of Life; the response of the Lord Above was to ravage the world with pillars of divine fire, and then send hosts of angels down to kill anyone who survived and wasn't among the ten thousand chosen innocents (interpreted as just children, split into 5,000 boys and 5,000 girls) who were hiding out in a flying ark, built by the 'last among the righteous' Y'nosh before Bel-Qa'mat's minions descended upon and martyred him. Bel-Qa'mat and almost the entirety of the corrupt human race obviously died as a consequence, allowing these innocents to inherit the Earth and build a new, hopefully purer society atop their ashes.

    "And in His righteous wrath, the Lord Above rained fire, rock and choking smoke upon the Earth for forty days and forty nights..." (Creation 9:9)

    Twenty generations after this 'Flame Deluge', the descendants of the Ten Thousand Innocents had multiplied and united into a second Kingdom of Men, and invaded the Interstice & Lifeless Tree under the leadership of their proud and mighty king, Bel-Bel'iq. While the angels cleared a path for them through the Interstice, they were able to take the fight to demonkind for the first time and compensated for their individual lack of power with numbers, zeal and technology ('swords, axes, spears, hammers and daggers of iron, and all the panoply of war' - Creation 10:4), killing 'many multitudes of abominations' and forcing even the Lord Below himself to surrender at the taproot of his Lifeless Tree (Creation 10:1-30). Yet Bel-Bel'iq did not kill the Lord Below on the spot as the angels counseled, but instead took him back to the surface in chains and kept him as a prisoner, serving forever as a reminder of his power.

    The Lord Below promptly manipulated Bel-Bel'iq into freeing him from his chains and making him an adviser, then whispered lies into his ears to turn him against the Lord Above; that the Lord Above was actually a tyrant keeping humanity weak and ignorant by preventing them from realizing their full strength, that his ancestor Ka'han had actually been cast out of the higher branches of the Tree of Life, and that with the demons he could crawl back up said Tree, reclaim his birthright and defeat death. Bel-Bel'iq ordered the construction of a great tower, high enough to reach the lowest branch of the Tree of Life, though he told the truth about his ambitions to only a few and deceived the majority of his subjects, telling them that the tower was just to let him communicate more directly with the Lord Above. Unfortunately for the King of Men, he didn't count on the Lord Above being able to see through mortal lies; another host of angels promptly descended upon the tower as it neared completion, and in the ensuing battle Bel-Bel'iq was killed with his fellow conspirators and their most loyal soldiers, while those workers and overseers who had remained ignorant of his true intentions simply scattered in fear with their lives. The Lord Below fled back underground and reclaimed dominion of his own demonic subjects, while the Lord Above sundered the ancient common tongue of men partly as punishment and partly to ensure they could never be directed to a single purpose as Bel-Bel'iq had done, causing the disintegration of this united human empire into a mass of feuding tribes speaking in tongues that were incomprehensible to one another.

    Well, this certainly could have ended better for Bel-Bel'iq

    According to the 'Illami, it is critical for all humans (but especially them, as the people specifically chosen by the Lord Above to be His vanguard of righteousness) to do their utmost to thwart the schemes of the Lord Below and weaken him to the point that the Lord Above can destroy him utterly at last, both metaphorically by following the Righteous Path laid out with the commandments of the Lord Above & the laws of the faith's elders - and more directly, by seeking out and converting or destroying heathens, whose false gods and spirits are considered nothing but the myriad disguises of the Lord Below and his demonic minions. No less is demanded of them, and they must do these things proactively lest the Lord Below regain enough of a foothold to drive humanity to repeat the sins that resulted in the Flame Deluge and the Great Sundering. Bel-Hizzar may have been the first man to whom these truths were told, but Yuvel is honored as the First Prophet for having received the Twelve Commandments, actually reached the Holy Land and organized the Righteous into a sufficiently coherent society to enforce and spread their teachings on a large scale; it is also prophesied that some day into the distant future, the Lord Above will send a Second and Third Prophet to further guide the Righteous Many into His light, and lead them in cleansing the earth of sin & sinners.

    The role of the clergy
    As one might guess from its characterization as a Clerical religion, the clergy were of tremendous importance to practitioners of the Path of the Righteous. Drawn exclusively from the Sept of Esoph, early 'Illam's ordained clerics were responsible for directing rituals and religious services every seventh day of the week, administering rites, advising and deposing Stewards as required, and serving as judges.

    Some of the rites administered and rituals or holy days presided over by the 'Illamite priests included:

    - Bet Ch'yot (for boys) and Bil Ch'yat (for girls): Upon reaching their thirteenth birthday, every 'Illami boy and girl is considered old enough to be held responsible for their actions, and is to be fully confirmed into the ranks of the Righteous in a ceremony presided over by the priest. They are ritually baptized in a specially-prepared bath; anointed with the sign of the hexagram in holy oil; swear vows to serve the Lord Above, to follow His commandments and the laws set down by His priests (who are His voices on the earth, after all) and to oppose the Lord Below and his servants at every turn and all costs; and (in the case of young Esophim boys) permitted to read a chapter from the Qabal to the rest of the community, all of which are done in sight of their community. Once this is all done, the community can celebrate, with the newly confirmed youth being allowed to taste wine for the first time at this celebration of their coming-of-age.

    - Ekhen, Shekhen and Sefet: 'Illamite marriages must be presided over by an ordained priest to be considered valid in the eyes of the law. First, the man and woman must enter a formal betrothal at a ceremony called the Ekhen (signing), where they announce their intent to marry within seven-times-seventy days before a priest and at least two witnesses (one from the groom's family and one from the bride's) while a Kan'ahite scribe records their vows and writes up a marriage contract on a papyrus scroll. The Shekhen, or 'binding', is the actual wedding ceremony itself, where the groom & bride speak their wedding vows to one another, are literally tied together at the wrist with an ornate ribbon, seal their love with a kiss and proclaimed husband & wife by the priest. Normally, 'Illami can only take one wife (though nothing prevents them from engaging in amorous relations with a slave...) and can never divorce, though in cases of spousal abuse or political inconvenience the priest who married them can also issue a document of divorce called a 'sefet', or 'separation'. (divorces seem to have strictly been something for the 'Illamite elite, however; those of the lesser Septs were truly wedded 'til death did them part, and adultery was to be punished with death for both the adulterer/adulteress and their extramarital partner with no exceptions) There have also been a few unusual cases of men taking multiple wives in the Qabal, most (in)famously Elech bet-Eyal, who married two women - though, considering the consequences of his two marriages, that was definitely not supposed to be a good thing, and likely a warning against polygamy in general.

    - Shomayn: When an 'Illamite has died, he or she is supposed to be buried, returning to the earth from which his progenitors were made. A priest is required to purify the body with special oils and blessed water, dress it in a pure white burial shroud, lift it into a plain casket (regardless of rank in life, all are considered equal in death) with the help of the deceased's kinsmen and friends, and finally pray that the Lord Above forgives the transgressions of the deceased, welcomes his or her soul into Heaven and looks after his or her surviving kin as the casket is lowered into the ground and buried. The rite of shomayn must be administered if the soul of the deceased is to have any chance of ascending upward into the branches of the Tree of Life and find eternal salvation, otherwise they will surely be doomed to wander the Interstice as a lost and confused spirit until the end of time.

    - Yam Chag: Every seven days, the community would gather in their local temple to the Lord Above: the men would immerse themselves in a small bath called the neyilah, after which they would enter the main chamber and be seated to hear the local priest read from the Qabal, and then deliver a sermon. They were invited to discuss and debate the day's verses after the priest had finished delivering his sermon. Women had to wait in an antechamber until the men were done, after which they would do the same in a different neyilah and enter to hear the exact same reading and sermon; however, unlike the men, they could not discuss the day's reading. Children who had not yet undergone the rite of Bet/Bil Ch'yot were read to last of all (in the event that the priest did not deem the verses he read out to the adults suitable for children, he may read an entirely different set of verses to them instead), and were also forbidden from debating whatever verses the priest had deemed child-appropriate for that day. No work was allowed on this holy day, which was to be a day of rest, relaxation and introspection.

    - Elisan: The 'Illamite New Year, considered a special time to curse the Lord Below. Meat is served in great quantities, to physically strengthen the Righteous for their struggle with this immortal enemy, and everyone in every town is expected to stone an idol depicting the Lord Below in the sight and with the approval of their local priest.

    - Beresit: On the first day of spring (traditionally, the first day of the fourth month in the 'Illami calendar) the 'Illamites have their great festival of lights, celebrating the creation of the world by the Lord Above and offering up prayers that His divine Light might prevail over the darkness of the evil Lord Below. Homes are to be cleaned and decorated with designs of flower petals & colored sand at least a week in advance of the festival. When the sun has set, every family in every town and village is to light seven oil lamps, candles and/or lanterns arranged in a hexagram pattern around their dwelling. Then they are to congregate before the nearest temple, around which the priest and his family have also lit up a hexagram with braziers and hung their own great decorated tapestries, and receive a blessing, a reminder of the Lord's acts of creation, and issue prayers to strengthen His hand in the war with evil before engaging in feasting and merriment. Each family, the priest's own included, is meant to bring their own food to eat and share, and outside observers noted that the normally stoic and strait-laced 'Illami really cut loose on this day. As the Shamshi 'Ibar bar al-'As reported when his travels took him to the 'Illami village of Horon:
    Quote Originally Posted by 'Ibar bar al-'As
    On the day which they call 'Beresit', the people of the north, whom I had found to be joyless and stern most days, truly came to life after the Sun had gone down. Amidst the dazzling fires set by their priest, the villagers indulged in all sorts of meat and vegetable stews, sweets, and fresh-baked bread with aplomb. Three great oxen had been butchered and roasted for the festivities, and the priest had bought a cart of salt and herbs with which to flavor their flesh; I must confess, his wife and daughters cooked the oxen most excellently, and even managed to make a good soup out of the beasts' tails. Wine flowed freely and plentifully.

    I found the local landlord rubbing shoulders with men he'd normally be exhorting to work harder in the fields or threatening with the scourge. The priest himself, whom I thought could not smile, sat loudly laughing and joking with some of the town's men while in the midst of what must have been his tenth cup of wine that night. Men and women who would normally not even be allowed in the same chambers in their temples could openly dance, embrace and kiss beneath the stars. Some of the youths of the village snuck off, away from the fires, to engage in amorous activities.


    The next day, it was as if the events of the previous night had not occurred, and everyone in the village had gone back to their old dull selves.
    - Tzen: A 30-day fast held between the late summer and early fall, commemorating a fast undertaken by 'Illami ancestors in the last month of their captivity under the 'Awali. All the food in every town was to be gathered at the temple and kept under lock & key by the priest, who would distribute just enough portions to everybody thrice a day to keep them from starving. The fast was to be broken with a lavish celebratory feast and dance halfway through the ninth month of the year.

    - Besh'e: The summer solstice is also the day on which the 'Illami commemorate and repent for the centuries of sins that their ancestors engaged in, leading up to the Flame Deluge. On this day of mourning, all the community - even the priest - go barefoot, don sackcloth, wipe ashes over their cheeks, and at night they shout, pray and wail for forgiveness and guidance to the Lord Above while marching in a hexagram formation around a massive bonfire, with the priest himself leading the procession. All healthy adults are required to abstain from food and alcohol all day, save a loaf of bread and an apple (said to be the first fruit encountered by the Ten Thousand Innocents after the Flame Deluge's end) at lunch, though they may still consume water.

    - Ir'at: The winter solstice is also the day on which the 'Illami commemorate and repent for Bel-Bel'iq's folly, mankind's collective failure to off the Lord Below when they had the chance, and the disastrous chain of decisions that led up to the Great Sundering of humanity's ancient common tongue. All must spend the day barefoot, avoid bathing and the use of perfumes & lotions, and abstain from food, drink (except water, which is permitted) and sexual relations for a 23-hour period, instead dedicating all of their time and energies to prayer. In the last hour of the day, the community gathers at the temple to bask in the light of seven braziers, arranged in a hexagram, and the priest leads them in one last prayer of repentance for their ancestors' sins and their own, followed by a prayer beseeching the Lord Above to forgive them their transgressions even if they are not worthy, and break their fast on roast bull and goat (although no wine is permitted until the next day).

    Bastion of the Righteous
    As one can also guess from the characterization of its mentality as a Bastion of the Faith and from the commandments warning against apostasy & idolatry, the Righteous Path was a highly exclusive and insular religion, mirroring the general xenophobia of 'Illamite culture. One could not convert to the Path as an adult, but instead had to be raised within the faith and hear its teachings from as early in childhood as possible; hence why the (probably orphaned or soon-to-be-orphaned) children of enemy nations could be adopted into 'Illamite families and raised as 'Illamites, but everyone in their teen years and above were to be killed or enslaved. And as the Book of Commands made abundantly clear, there was no leaving the Righteous Path, either; apostates were to be killed on the spot, and if the person who butchers them is their own kin, all the better, for the Lord Above approves of the sort of man who would put Him above their own sinful blood relations.

    While men were permitted to ask questions of and debate readings with the priest on Yam Chag, the priest's word was final when it came to doctrines, interpretations and the lessons to be learned from the day's readings. Further pressing the issue could lead to a stern rebuke in front of the entire community, or worse, anathematization: casting the troublesome individual out of the community, denying him or her rites, and effectively outlawing them by allowing anyone else to kill them without repercussions. An anathema could only be lifted by either the High Priest himself or the priest who issued it (or if he has died before the anathematized party, his successor).

    While Commands 14:1-3 teaches believers to be welcoming to foreigners and not to kick them out or kill them without provocation, this had its limits. Foreigners could still be taxed, loaned to at interest, and expect harsher sentences than 'Illamites for the same crimes (ie. the death sentence, instead of 'just' having a hand lopped off, for their first theft). They were also strictly forbidden, under pain of death, from preaching or publicly practicing their heathen religions while in 'Illamite territory. In more extreme cases, there have been stories of 'Illamites from the higher and more conservative Septs who went as far as to discriminate against other 'Illamites - born to 'Illami parents - just for having been born outside of 'Illam's borders: many were opposed to the Stewardship of Anat bet-Chabed because his Vel'elim parents were trading in an 'Awali city under Shamshi suzerainty when he was born, for instance (1 Stewards 4:6-7). Marriages with non-'Illamites were not actually illegal, but they were heavily frowned upon (even when the prophet and Steward Yuvel did it) and the 'Illamite involved could expect at least temporary ostracism for going through with it, especially in the case of 'Illamite women marrying non-'Illamite men.

    The 'Illamite calendar
    The 'Illamites measured time from the creation of the world by the Lord Above, which they purported to have occurred 4,000 years before their war of liberation against the Shamshi around 10,000 AA. Therefore, instead of that war ending in 10,015 AA, as far as they were concerned it ended in 4,015 Eblath-Keris (After Creation), or EK/AC. Theirs was a lunisolar calendar, with twelve lunar months (whose beginning & end was determined by the new moon) in an approximately 354-day solar year, further divided into 7-day weeks.

    The Tree of Life and the Lifeless Tree: Salvation and damnation
    The Tree of Life and its under-world mirror are generally understood to not be literal and physical constructs, but metaphorical and spiritual/extra-dimensional ones by orthodox 'Illami priests. The Tree of Life in particular is divided into seven 'branches' or she'voti-mi (singl. she'vot), each corresponding to an order of angels and representing a virtue that must be expressed & held by believers in order to reach salvation. Those who have embraced all of the virtues to the fullest, in so doing submitting themselves wholly in mind, body and soul to the Lord Above, become those most like Him and are permitted to ascend to the topmost she'vot, Shem'el, where they will live in proximity to the Lord Above Himself. These branches are:
    • Shem'el: Heaven, the very peak of the Tree of Life. It is said to be a dimension of boundless light, where the sun shines unceasingly in a stark white sky, and where 'all that is pleasing to the eye' grows in abundance: great grass fields and flowery meadows, majestic trees taller than any tower, every fruit that pleases the tongue, and flowers that produce a nectar that tastes of milk and honey. Rivers whose fresh water purifies all disease and aging flow throughout the land, and so all who dwell here do so as immortals who want for nothing. The Lord Above Himself resides in a temple of sparkling crystal, so great and glorious that it brings to tears all who see it for the first time, and is attended upon by hosts of angels and saved humans alike who praise His name day in and day out. The souls of those humans who die after first mastering all seven heavenly virtues reside here. This she'vot is associated with the Lere-bel'im or 'lesser lords', the first and greatest of the angels, who are described as seven-winged and seven-headed beings the size of a small mountain.
    • Hi'mel-el: The abode of the meek and the humble, set below only Shem'el. Here, those who were wise enough to accept that they are not the center of the universe and that they are but subjects of the Lord Above live their second lives out in paradisaical conditions, the only distinctions from Shem'el being that the sky is still blue and that the Lord Above does not reside here. This she'vot is associated with the Orim, the second order of angels, who are said to have the mane and body of a lion; the legs of a dragon; the tail of a scorpion; six eagles' wings; and the face of a man.
    • Req'a: The abode of the patient, also set below Shem'el and opposite to Him'el-el. Those who were able to control their emotions in the face of great adversity all their lives reside here, within a vast desert where oases are plenty and the sun is not too hot. This she'vot is associated with the Tayyim, the third order of angels, vast winged white orbs covered in eyes and mouths that know all things earthly and divine & unfailingly speak in a calm monotone.
    • Ger'et: The abode of the diligent, set beneath and connected to Hi'mel-el and Req'a. Those who tirelessly worked for justice and to make the lives of their fellow men better all their lives dwell here, amidst rolling plains and clear streams where they may enjoy eternal rest. This she'vot is associated with the Eshm'alim, fourth of the angelic choirs, four-winged and four-armed humanoid angels that wear crowns and elaborate shawls, and carry in each hand the Qabal, a scepter, a sword and a hexagram pendant; symbols of earthly authority and holiness, with which they steward the earth in their Lord's stead.
    • Shekinah: The abode of the kind and gentle of heart, set below and connected to Ger'et & opposite to Erenech. Those who went out of their way to aid those in need, never had a bad word to say, loved others unconditionally and showed mercy even when it was undeserved dwell here between gently rolling hills and verdant forests. This she'vot is associated with the Me'etim, the fifth angelic choir, androgynous four-winged angels with gentle faces & musical voices who wear crowns of flowers.
    • Erenech: The abode of the brave and zealous, set below and connected to Ger'et & opposite to Erenech. Those who died in defense of the faith and faithful reside in this land of iron towers, living spartan but not totally uncomfortable lives, and many go on to enter the lowest orders of angels themselves. This she'vot is associated with the La'wim, the sixth of the heavenly choirs, steel-skinned humanoids the size of giants with four wings (each covered in sharp, metallic feathers) and fiery eyes who march about in the panoply of war and serve as the vanguard of the Lord Above against the hordes of the Lord Below.
    • Yus'had: The abode of the chaste and temperate, set below Shekinah & Erenech. Those who lived their lives in observance of the commandments on temperance, abstaining from excessive consumption and sex, reside here after they die, in a paradise that is said to be 'most like Earth' out of all the she'voti-mi but at unending peace. This she'vot is associated with the Hal'akhim, the seventh order of angels, twin-winged humanoids with jewel-like eyes and long scepters that are comprised of a golden head and iron rod.

    At the foot of the Tree of Life lie the Earth and below that, the Interstice that separates the roots of the Tree of Life from those of the Lifeless Tree. The orders of angels that were once men, but willingly forsook their shot at eternal happiness to become the footsoldiers of the Lord Above in His war with the Fount of Evil, dwell here among the human race that they once belonged to: the Denayim and Ha'nim, divine soldiers and messengers respectively, who look exactly as they did in life but are now blessed with a pair of white feathery wings. The Denayim, in addition to guarding the Interstice with the La'wim, are the Lord Above's first response force to the presence of otherworldly evil on the face of the Earth, while the Ha'nim interact with and watch over mortals.

    Painting of the Tree of Life, which believers must (metaphorically and spiritually) climb to reach salvation

    Beneath the Interstice lies the Lifeless Tree and its own she'voti-mi, crawling with all sorts of demons who torment and gnaw at those who died in sin: there is one she'vot each for the gluttonous and lustful, the cowards, the cruel, the slothful, the wroth, the proud and those who have managed to check every item on this list of vices, mirroring the she'voti-mi of the Tree of Life, except all of these are terrible places of torment and gnashing of teeth. The cruelest and foulest of sinners are offered a way out of eternal torment, by forsaking whatever remains of their humanity to enter the two lowest and most human-like ranks of demonkind - Sha'nim and Patachim, tempters and 'the expendable', who are respectively tasked with infiltrating mortal society to sway men from the Righteous Path and with throwing themselves at the Interstice until they die again on angels' spears and blades or manage to open a breach.

    Artist's rendition of lesser angels and demons clashing in the Interstice

    Those who die and are not properly buried with rites administered by an ordained priest are doomed to wander the Interstice - lost in the void between the supernal, material and infernal realms forever, unless one side should finally prevail over the other and put them out of their misery, whether it is by finding them a place in the Tree of Life as the angels would...or devouring them, as the demons would. This is yet another reason as to why priests are so important to the 'Illami.

    Holy sites and focuses of worship
    'Illamite worship was conducted in temples called shul (pl. shul'et). Each town, no matter how small, was to have a shul, and each shul - also regardless of size and significance - was to be separated into a hikal (sanctuary) where most rituals were performed; an outer courtyard; an antechamber between the hikal and courtyard, where there was a small bath for the congregants to ritually immerse themselves in before attending services; and the living quarters of the priest and his family, who after all were expected to live directly in the temple itself. Every shul was supposed to be austere in appearance and thus went undecorated, lacking much in the way of flashy ornamentation fashioned from precious metals or jewels, though the priest and his family were commanded to keep the sanctuary 'immaculate' and to light & maintain a fire in a large gilded iron cup set on the hikal's altar at sunset, for it would be the only source of light in the chamber at night - symbolic of the presence of the Lord Above as the source of light for a universe that would otherwise be suffocated by the darkness of the Lord Below.

    Modern painted sketch of an 'Illamite priest reading to the congregation, c. 10,500 AA

    Outside of the shul'et, the Lord Above was said to be present in the Arak Shau'lot, or 'great palace' - actually a large, unadorned acacia chest in which the original tablets bearing the Twelve Commandments, Yuvel's rod and Bel-Hizzar's preserved heart were stored. The Erek Shau'lot, covered in a great white-bordered blue cloth onto which the sign of the star was embroidered in pure white, was carried by a team comprised of seven chosen men, one from each of the Septs, into battle, so that the Holy Spirit of the Lord Above could manifest itself in the hearts of every 'Illamite warrior and carry them to victory. Whether present on the battlefield or stored away in the tent of the Esophim patriarchs, the Erek Shau'lot was to be always guarded by the Sacred Band.

    A party of the chosen faithful carry the Arak Shau'lot into battle, c. 10,450 AA

    'Illami military
    The 'Illamite army, much like its civil society, was supposed to be like a living creature, comprised of many cells and limbs drawn that all had different functions that could pull together to flawlessly function towards a purpose (namely, victory). Each Sept provided its own contingents, all of variable roles and sizes, but all uniformly expected to seamlessly work in unison to defeat the adversary. The Stewards were the undisputed war-leaders of the 'Illamite armies, and could appoint and dismiss a rudimentary command staff (ahem, 'war council') and subordinate commanders solely from the Sept of Rechab. Though often outnumbered (the inevitable result of relying on purely 'Illami families, clans and tribes to provide manpower instead of reaching out to subjugated peoples like the Shamshi did), the 'Illamite armies were noted for their great courage and iron discipline - after all, not one man among their ranks was supposed to be fighting for personal glory or enrichment (and in fact the priests and Qabal warned, more than once, that divine punishment awaited those prideful or greedy enough to try), but rather for the glory of the Lord Above alone.

    The Esophim contributed two types of warriors: their priests, who in truth were not warriors but certainly hung around to give the 'Illami army spiritual leadership and morale boosts with their presenc, prayers and the Arak Shau'lot, and the Sacred Band. Of the former, priests were said to have magical powers bequeathed upon them by the grace of the Lord Above, and in some cases this was possibly statistically a very literal description of their abilities. The first instance of divine intervention or magical activity on the part of Esophite priests recorded by the Qabal was the Siege of Ahi (a walled 'Awali town near the mouth of the Hasbana that had been occupied by the Enezi) soon after the death of Yuvel, where the 'Illamite army's priests sang, danced and blew trumpets around the city walls for seven days, as instructed to by the Steward Simcha and the prophet Nab'el bet-Fab'el. On the seventh day, when they blew their trumpets to honor the Lord Above, the walls crumbled (1 Stewards, 18:1-7). What is certain is that priests would have led soldiers in prayer sessions for victory and administered abbreviated rites of shomayn before battles, so that any 'Illamite who dies on the battlefield would be able to go to the afterlife immediately even if 'Illam was defeated.

    The latter was an elite regiment comprised of male Esophim youth, mostly between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, who were divided into two corps: one of infantry and one of cavalry, led by veteran officers who stayed part of the Sacred Band long after their twenty-first birthday. Their equipment was described in detail in 1 Stewards 6:1-20: each man wore white linen clothing and a gilded helmet of bronze, a vest of gilded iron scales, and gilded greaves and gauntlets for armor, regardless of whether they fought on foot or horseback. The infantry were to be armed with an iron-headed, ash-shafted spear approximately 2 m in length; an iron-bladed hacking sword, ax or cudgel; a long curved iron dagger, as a secondary weapon; and a round wooden shield, large enough to cover their torso and neck, set in an iron frame and covered in a thin sheet of bronze which in turn was engraved with the words 'TEL MIT EL-BEL-AZER' or 'Trust In The Lord Above', one of the 'Illamites' most prolific battle-cries. The cavalry wielded a two-handed, iron-headed lance approximately 3-3.5 m in length in place of the infantry spear, and swapped out the round shield for a smaller crescent-shaped one. This Sacred Band functioned as an elite reserve force on the battlefield in most cases, and off it, as the guards of the Arak Shau'lot, a duty which they took as seriously as their status in society; anyone caught trespassing anywhere near the Arak Shau'lot was to be killed on the spot, and any non-Sacred Band soldier caught with a Sacred Band shield was also to be killed on sight.

    Drawing of Esophim priests leveling Ahi's walls with the aid of the Lord Above while the Sacred Band cheers, c. 10,030-60 AA

    After the Esophim, the Kan'ahim chiefly contributed cartographers, siege engineers and logisticians to the 'Illamite army rather than any front-line combatants. Accordingly, Those Who Write compiled scouts' reports to draw maps, designed battering rams and catapults or mapped out where to dig trenches and sappers' tunnels during sieges, and ensured that the army had enough rations to sustain itself and warned the Steward when supplies were running low in these respective capacities.

    Kan'ahite scribes taking inventory of an 'Illamite army's supplies, c. 10,350 AA

    The Rechabim, as the tribe and later de-facto caste of warriors, provided the overwhelming majority of 'Illam's standing soldiers. They were available as a body of several thousand highly trained and well-equipped fighters, having been drilled in the ways of war from childhood, and were apparently divided into three corps: infantry, cavalry and archers. The infantry and cavalry were armored uniformly: they were attired in iron helmets, cuirasses comprised of a breastplate of iron scales and a back-plate made of pressed linens, and iron gauntlets and greaves, to be worn over white and red clothing and leather gloves & shoes or sandals. Their archers went without the cuirass or gauntlets, instead keeping only the helm and greaves. Officers and distinguished soldiers were permitted to coat their armor with a thin sheet of brass, setting themselves apart from their subordinates and peers without trying to copy the gilded armor of the Esophite Sacred Band and thereby disrespecting their social superiors.

    According to 1 Stewards 7:1-12, most Rechabite infantrymen wielded iron swords, axes and maces together with light square-shaped wicker shields, with one in four men instead carrying a short pike about 4-5 m in length and a small round wooden shield that could be strapped to their wrist; their strategy was for the pikemen to form the front line of a four-rank-deep block formation, capable of either fighting defensively as the core of a fixed battle line (presenting a phalanx of sorts to the foe) or offensively as a mobile assault square, capable of operating independently under their own officers or together in a larger group. When on the attack, these squares would rush to clash with the foe; the pikemen would engage first and lock the enemy down, while the men behind them fanned out and tried to flank or otherwise bullrushed the enemy with their hand weapons, which were better suited to close combat than the long and unwieldy pike.

    Rechabite cavalry reportedly wielded two-handed lances and crescent-shaped shields like the heavy cavalry of the Sacred Band, and fought in an identical manner - as heavy shock cavalry which wielded enough discipline to charge an enemy formation, then peel away to reform and charge again, over and over until the foe was broken. Where they differed was that one in five Rechabite riders rode camels instead of horses, and these appear to have been deployed as anti-cavalry cavalry.

    A fully armed Rechabite soldier in brass-coated iron armor, c. 10,500 AA

    After the Rechabites came the Derorites, who typically only provided the 'Illamite army with horses, camels and beasts of burden instead of actually fighting - someone had to stay behind to run the farms, after all. However, when they did appear on the battlefield, they were described as a uniformly cavalry force (1 Stewards 22:3-7 and 29:5-16, among other mentions). In these Qabali passages, the Derorim were said to have entered battle in dressed 'gleaming helmets of brass and iron, from which sprang feathers dyed in the colors of the rainbow, and vests of alternating bronze and iron scales that glimmered in the sun', and besides functioning as yet more medium and heavy cavalry they were also the only known 'Illami to still field chariots. These chariots, according to both the Qabal and scant reports on confrontations with the 'Illami from the Shamshi, were lighter than 'Awali and Shamshi standard: they were quite small, supported by spoked wheels (like any sane charioteer's vehicle by this point in time...), pulled by a single horse and supported a two-man crew, comprised of a Severite or Shurite driver and the Derorite aristocrat; the latter would fight chiefly with the bow and arrow - unlike 'Awali chariots, 'Illami ones did not tend to directly charge into enemy ranks - though he also carried both a pike and a sword or ax with which to defend himself in close combat. Derorim chariots were reportedly not as fast as the three-horse, three-man vehicles favored by the 'Awali and later Shamshi, but they were more nimble and able to execute difficult turns or navigate rough terrain with less crashes or general difficulty.

    A Derorite chariot contingent bearing down upon a Shamshi battle line ahead of the rest of the 'Illamite army, c. 10,500 AA

    The Vel'elim who came after the Sept of Deror were not known to be a particularly warlike tribe, especially considering they were chiefly merchants and traders. Yet their skill as explorers also made them excellent light cavalry and infantry, at least better than the Severites and Shurites beneath them. Vel'elite soldiers were described in only a few Qabal passages, as men who 'wore helmets of burnished but plain iron' and rode 'fleet-footed horses and camels'. It can be assumed that they wore little to no armor, in comparison to the much more heavily armored upper castes' soldiers, and would thus have served chiefly as skirmishers and scouts, racing ahead of the main army to find the enemy; screening the advance of their own forces; covering retreats; and peeling away from the main host to needle the opposition's flanks and rear. The Vel'elites were also known to put their money to better use in hiring mercenaries, who in all likelihood would have been better fighters than they (as, again, a tribe of merchants and not trained warriors) were anyway.

    A Vel'elite javelineer, c. 10,500 AA

    Finally, the Severim and Shurim made up the bulk of an 'Illami army, providing masses of poorly trained and unarmored but zealous light troops capable of working with the heavier upper-Sept soldiers. Like most other lower-class conscript troops of this time period and region, they probably had no armor and fought with slings and bows, crude short spears, farming implements or tools turned into weapons (ex. straightened scythes, smiths' hammers, kitchen knives, etc) and carried at best wicker shields for protection. More Severim appear to have been armed with melee weapons and tasked with supporting the heavier Rechabites in close combat, while for the Shurim it was the other way around - they were chiefly skirmishers.

    Severim and Shurim about to charge an Enezi column immobilized by sudden flooding, c. 10,350 AA

    Modern military historians have managed to reconstruct the way an 'Illami army with all seven Septs present would have operated: their preferred formation seems to have been the fairly standard infantry center + cavalry on the wings + a reserve. Of the first, the Rechabites would have been stationed at the very center, creating a disciplined and armor-clad core around which Severim light infantry would stand; the Shurim and Vel'elim would form a loosely-ordered screen of missile troops in front of this tightly-knit block of infantry. The cavalry on the flanks were posted a long ways away from the infantry, opening them to the risk of being outflanked but also strengthening the 'Illami horsemen and chariots' own ability to outflank the foe in turn. The Sacred Band would remain in reserve with a handful of Shurim and Severim, to be committed at decisive moments or to cover a retreat in case of defeat.

    The Righteous Many seem to have fought quite aggressively and made effective use of combined arms if the Qabal is any indication, with the infantry rushing to engage the enemy's own center after a preliminary exchange of missiles while their cavalry circled 'round the flanks, engaged and hopefully routed the enemy's own cavalry, and then plunging into the unprotected flanks or rear of the enemy army. Of course, there were times when this formation was changed up - for example, the posting of the Sacred Band to reinforce the Rechabim in the center, or the placement of the cavalry closer to the center than usual, and there were plenty of battles where not all of the Septs participated - but, by and large, this appears to have been the 'Illamite default battle arrangement.

    For a map of the land of 'Illam as of 10,500 AA and the location of Sa-Bel, see the map under 'The Sun, the Moon and the Star'.
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; May 02, 2018 at 11:15 PM.

  11. #51
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    As those on Discord know, I'm now satisfied with the writeup for the 'Illamites of the Bronze-to-Iron Age transition period. Next I'll be pivoting westward to give Altania some barbarian love in the form of the westernmost Hyperboreans, and I'll also balance that with the Hyperaustralic invasion of Midija & resulting consequences as time permits.

  12. #52
    Celsius's Avatar Comes Rei Militaris
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    Can you PM a link to the discord? Just in case...

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    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Hyperboreans: The Venskár
    When the Great Cooling struck, Hyperborea was one of the two continents hit hardest, together with Hyperaustralis. As snow fell, the Sun disappeared from the sky for days on end and crops failed, the human population of the Arctic continent - which had exploded in the warm centuries and millennia preceding the Cooling - found itself facing a classic Malthusian catastrophe: they had far, far more mouths than their declining agricultural production could feed. Hyperborea promptly fell into chaos (well, even more than usual), as many of the already warlike Hyperboreans turned against each other and the Zaroi with a ferocity not seen before, driven by the need to secure farmland and steal each other's resources. Those who could not keep their grain and herds from their hungry neighbors would surely starve. However as the snow kept piling up, rivers froze over and existing resources dwindled even as the Hyperboreans fought over them, most of the continent's human residents chose to turn towards a slightly more productive purpose than killing each other over resources they couldn't replace anyway: migration.

    While the Saor moved directly south to Muataria, a different group of Hyperboreans called the Venskár migrated southwest, to the previously un-human-touched continent of Altania which they called Rod-Vesht - the 'Red West', after the great redwood trees sighted by the first Venskár to reach its shores. These Venskár were originally, like the Saor, an extremely loose-knit bunch of Hyperborealic tribes (each of which were composed of half a dozen or more clans) bound by a common language, religion and shared customs, though they originated from the southwest coast of Hyperborea rather than the east. The first of them to reach Hyperborea were parties of desperate raiders who had run out of things to eat back home, but upon finding the northernmost islands of Altania mercifully un- or sparsely inhabited by yet more strange elfin figures, they sent word back home and soon unleashed wave after wave of their fellows on this unsuspecting western continent. Unfortunately, to their great displeasure the Venskár found that the island they occupied wasn't that much better off than the land they had left behind, and soon found a need to push further south onto the Altanic mainland. They brought with them iron and horses, against which the more primitive Altanians were likely little match.

    A Venskár tribe migrates across northern Altania in winter, c. 10,150 AA

    What followed were the five 'Dark Centuries': so-called not necessarily because that they were five centuries of nothing but chaos and violence (though there was surely a lot of both), but because there is so little information available on what transpired through this time, thanks in no small part to the complete lack of written records - the Old Venskár language had no writing system. However, these five centuries came to a close with the emergence of a Venskár writing system, and there is no arguing with the end results, which give modern historians quite a few clues as to what had occurred: the Venskár had become dominant across much of northeastern Altania (particularly impacting the Shar Complex and Kashar Zone Altanians), they had spread so far out that the Old Venskár language had broken down into four smaller linguistic sub-families that were each comprised of dozens of individual tongues affiliated with major tribes, the lack of Altanian artifacts in this region after about 10,500 AA indicating that the natives had either been driven off, exterminated or absorbed through marriage, and a curious physical phenomenon had emerged among the human newcomers as they finished settling in: some newborns had slight points to their ears, and the frequency with which this mutation occurred grew the further one went south, from only one in one thousand among the northernmost Venskár to approximately one in fifty among the southernmost.

    Combined with references to 'children of the knife-ears', 'half-elves' and 'the elf-blooded', this last bit of evidence has pointed modern historians towards the conclusion that the Venskár had increasingly extensively intermarried or otherwise had 'relations' with native Altanians (presumably both to seal political alliances between tribes, out of genuine love, and by taking Altanic women as concubines in raids). Written and graphic records have also confirmed that the Venskár also took quite well to the Hunggu bean, the staple crop of the Altanians, and cultivated it alongside wheat, barley, rye and other staples of their own. Genetic tests run on samples extracted from Venskár remains dated to this time period indicate that although they were still Homo sapiens, they did indeed have traces of Homo altus DNA, lending further credence to the notion that the Venskár had a not-inconsiderable amount of Altanic blood in their veins.

    Map of the four Venskár linguistic families, 10,500 AA

    Blue - Original Venskár homeland
    Teal - Northern Venskár
    Red - Western Venskár
    Gold - Central Venskár
    Green - Southern Venskár

    Early Venskár languages
    As mentioned above, by 10,500 AA the Old Venskár language had given way to four linguistic sub-families, each comprised of scores of individual Venskár languages associated with some of their major tribal confederations. There were some common words within these language families, but not many. In addition, the Altanians left more than just a genetic mark on the Venskár - each Venskár language sub-family exhibited varying degrees of influence from the Altanic Proto-Maryannam language: Northern Venskár being the least influenced and having remained truest to its Hyperborealic roots, and Southern Venskár exhibiting the heaviest Altanic influence.

    Modern speech Hyperborean Proto-Maryannam Northern Venskár Western Venskár Central Venskár Southern Venskár
    Venskár Vanskár N/A Vanskár Vensker Venskair Vensceir
    Mortal Muguz Quoi Meghús Megui Mo'goy Meqoy
    Emotion Bethun Pala Batár Belár Path'ic Pethele
    Old Neth Lak Nath Nak N'lakh Ne-leq
    Group Guzhay Mara Gusay Gusa Gos're Guhere

    Early Venskár society
    As mentioned elsewhere, early Venskár society comprised a collection of settled but agrarian tribes, loosely bound by a(n increasingly dis)similar language & dialects, a common religion and obviously, ethnicity. In that regard they weren't that much different from their fellow Hyperboreans who were either left behind in their homeland, or traveled elsewhere.

    Each Venskár tribe appears to have been comprised of five to twenty clans, each of which was further divided into numerous families and their servants & thralls, who had divided a region between themselves. Each family of freemen (farahuz in Hyperborealic Old Venskár) within a clan was allotted a plot of land of that clan's slice of the region, on which they would live in turf homes (further north) or pit-houses and byre-dwellings of timber with thatched roofs (further south and west). On the land around their houses they would live primarily as subsistence farmers, with every man, woman and child involved in ensuring that nobody starves: growing wheat, barley, squash, pumpkins and Hunggu beans, and tending to herds of cattle, pigs and horses, flocks of sheep and goats, clutches of chickens. Sometimes, the families of a clan would build their houses close to one another, forming a village; at other times, their freeholds were scattered far and wide throughout the clan's ap, with miles of untamed wilderness lying between neighbors. These common tribesmen would also supplement their diet of cereals and meat with resources gathered off the land; fish from the rivers and lakes, and fruits or berries from the trees. Their lives would have been simple, but not necessarily short or brutish outside of wartime and long winters or droughts; to discourage intra-clan violence (although it often had the opposite effect...), clansmen were obliged by honor and custom to avenge their fallen kin, and so a simple land dispute or outburst of temper could easily escalate into a general clan war if the participants weren't careful.

    A Northern or Central Venskár freeman with his daughter, c. 10,500 AA

    A Western Venskár freeman with his wife and son, c. 10,500 AA

    A Southern Venskár family inside their byre-dwelling, c. 10,500 AA

    The patriarch of the family ruled his household absolutely, and was the one who actually owned the land as far as what passed for a Venskár legal system was concerned: his wives, children and grandchildren had no say in how to run things, at best they could talk to and influence him. When he died, his property was to be divided as evenly as possible between his sons, and in the event that a perfectly even division was not possible the younger sons tended to get less than their elder brothers (or nothing at all). Sons and grandsons of a freeman who had inherited nothing or next to nothing were welcome to pledge themselves to their tribe's king as a retainer, forming the more professional element of Venskár warbands. Speaking of which...

    Above the freemen of the tribe, there reigned a petty-king (rik). The Venskár tribal king was elected to rule for life by all free men in the tribe who were above the age of fourteen, and always came from the ranks of two or three of the topmost clans which claimed descent from the gods or other magical beings from Venskár mythology. He was not an absolute monarch, but instead ruled with the advice of a council of tribal elders, one elected from and by the freemen of each clan, and the support of his people in general. His duties were threefold: to serve as judges in legal disputes between tribesmen, where he would administer justice according to existing customary laws or to create new laws entirely for cases that had no known precedent; to preside over religious ceremonies as the tribe's foremost priest; and to lead the tribe into battle during wartime, as well as to reward those who had fought under his command after a triumph. Venskár kings typically lived in timber longhouses, sporting as much gold and silver ornamentation as they could afford to show off their status, and it was not unusual for a walled village or town to spring up around this crude palace as freemen and their families came to trade in the impromptu marketplace that was the palace grounds. They were also responsible for paying, feeding and housing their retainers, who in turn were supposed to fight for him and protect him (even against their own blood kin) with their lives, and could be rewarded with land of their own after a victorious war of conquest.

    Cragart the Conqueror, a major Venskár hero, displays a great bear he has killed as a feat of strength, to sway the moot into electing him king, c. 10,000 AA

    As mentioned above, Venskár royalty did not rule absolutely. A moot, or gathering of the tribe's free men, had to be called at least once every six months, or whenever a king died and a successor had to be elected. At a moot, these freemen would cough up their semi-annual tribute - a tax of grain, meat, hides and iron - to their king. In return, the king was to set the tribute expected at the next moot, hear out cases and resolve disputes in a more public manner than usual, offer sacrifices to the gods, and call on the moot to vote on major matters...such as whether to go to war that year and with whom, or whether it was time to migrate to greener pastures. Every freeman had a right to have his opinion heard at the moot and could demand a vote be held on anything he considers important (for example, a controversial new law set by the king a few months earlier, or a tribute demand he feels is too high), as long as at least a quarter of his fellow tribesmen agree. All of the moot's votes were decided by a simple majority, and the tribesmen could overturn even a king's decisions and laws as long as they had the numbers. A king who failed in his duties by not upholding the law, breaking it himself, or leading the tribe to defeat could be removed and even sentenced to a sacrificial execution by the moot.

    A Venskár king leads his tribe on a migration after their moot voted for it, c. 10,250 AA

    Beneath the freemen were the thralls, who were further divided into asnar (indentured servants) and outright slaves. Most asnar were landless but free men and women who had left or gotten kicked out of their own family's land for whatever reason, failed to become a king's retainer and worked for other freemen under indenture; these unfree laborers were paid with food and board, still had legal rights (ie. they couldn't be murdered, tortured or fired for no reason, and had to be paid for their services), and worked for a period of time agreed upon by both employer and employee. Those who did not fall into this category were freemen who couldn't pay off a debt, and so had been sentenced to work for their debtor as asnar by the king; they would be stuck in bondage until they had performed an amount of labor equivalent to the debt they owed. Slaves, both human and Altanian, were those taken in raids & wars from rival tribes or the Altanic natives living around and within Venskár lands; they had no rights and were the property of their owner, who could treat and sell them as they pleased.

    In times of great crisis or opportunity, it was possible for tribal kings to swear allegiance to one of their peers, uniting their many tribes into a single confederacy. These ad-hoc arrangements were inevitably ephemeral, created to fend off a major enemy that the constituent tribes had no chance against on their own or to conquer a large tract of land that would then be divided between the constituent tribes as they went their separate ways, and in fact like an asnar's indenture a time limit or other conditions were frequently publicly declared as part of the ceremony of temporary fealty. Some of the famous Venskár 'kings-of-kings' of this early period, who inevitably had sagas written and sung of their heroic feats, were Cragart the Conqueror of the tribe of Barogáren, who led the first confederacy of Venskár tribes to reach the Altanic mainland; Erlenurg the Sunlit of the Southern Venskár tribe of Spagen, who united eighteen tribes in time for the first post-Great Cooling long summer over Altania; and Aguric the Aweless of the Central Venskár tribe of Meryagen, who led the Venskár to one of their largest recorded victories over the archaic Altanians at a place called Tork Field sometime before 10,500 AA.

    The Venskár legal system exhibits some similarities to that of the Saor, which is perhaps not unexpected considering they were both Hyperborealic peoples and may have had some pre-Cooling contact with one another. Among the Venskár, charges of blood (the murder or maiming of another freeman of the tribe) could be dealt with in one of three ways: firstly, a trial held before the other freemen and clan elders, where the accused would be executed or lose the limb(s) they removed from the victim at the command of the king if found guilty; secondly, the paying of a blood-price or faida, a sum of gold or other valuables considered worthy of the man whose life had been taken; or a judicial duel, where the victor was considered to have been right and favored by the gods on grounds of his victory. Duels could be fought between just the accuser and accused or the two parties and up to four of their friends and kinsmen for a five-on-five match, and were always to the death - unless the accuser recants his accusation. The only exception were drinking competitions, again not unlike those of the Saor, where the two parties would attempt to outdrink the other and the case was decided in favor of the man who managed to not black out first. Once any of these resolutions have been seen through, the dispute is considered to have been concluded and buried, and severe punishment awaited anyone trying to restart it; the whole point was to try to rein in a generational vendetta before it spiraled out of control and tore apart the community, which the Venskár could ill-afford especially this early on in their history.

    A Venskár mead hall, the main attraction of their villages

    Venskár society was extremely warlike, which is again not surprising considering both the circumstances under which they landed in Altania and their Hyperborean heritage. Intra-tribal raids were common, as were wars over territory, resources and familial vendettas. And, of course, the Altanians or scer-ehrs ('knife-ears', as they were called by the Venskár) were everyone's favorite punching bags, often being the first targets whenever a tribe's unlanded population had grown so much that thy could vote to find themselves some new turf or just for kicks. Boys as young as twelve were expected to be able to shoot with a bow and arrow and fight with an ax or spear; the life of a freeman, in which he and his family had to build & maintain their own house, hunt & raise their own food, and constantly protect themselves from wild beasts or raiders served to teach them these skills from an early age. When a king declared war or had war declared upon him, every free family under his rule had to contribute at least one man to the tribal levy, although many more would often volunteer - a war was the best chance to win some land and loot for oneself, after all. Infants who were born with physical defects, as well as excess girls (sons were considered more valuable than daughters in the patriarchal Venskár society) during hard times, were frequently abandoned to die of exposure; the latter may have been a cause for the Venskár's large-scale seizure of and/or intermarriage with female Altanians.

    Curiously, Venskár of obvious Altanic heritage - which is to say, they had slight points to their ears - were not generally considered outcasts, and it was perfectly socially acceptable for men to maintain harems of Altanian concubines (although this was not true of the opposite). They were called hulm-hulm (literally 'half and half', which could be less literally translated to halflings) and could certainly have the slur scer-ehr hurled at them, but they appear to have been more or less accepted into their human parents' society and expected to live and work like productive, properly human-in-appearance Venskár, and were not to be discriminated against in legal cases. They could own land, fight as royal retainers, marry and have families of their own, though the chance of transmitting their slightly pointed ears was very low and only further waned over the generations without further marriages to Altanians or fellow 'halflings' to reinforce their elfin blood. By 10,500 AA, thanks to centuries of (voluntary or otherwise) interbreeding between Venskár and Altanian, and then Altanic-blooded Venskár with purely human Venskár, virtually all Venskár were technically hulm-hulm - if recovered remains dating to this period are anything to go by, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find an Altanic human who didn't have at least some distant traces of H. altus DNA from ten or more generations back - and perhaps the Venskár themselves understood this on some level, hence their relative lack of discrimination towards the 'halflings', though the term 'hulm-hulm' remained in use for those whose Altanic heritage still manifested in an unmissable way.

    Artist's imagining of Vala the White, the hulm-hulm daughter of Aguric the Aweless

    Artrívarei - The Venskár religion
    The Venskár faith, which reveres a collection of deities they call the Artrívarike ('shining earth-kings', or for a less literal translation, 'shining/gleaming kings of the earth'), can be classed as a religion of Martial soul and an Ancestral mentality. In their tongue it was called Artrívarei, or simply 'worship of the shining kings of the earth'.

    According to the Venskár creation myth, the universe was once a black void, illuminated by the stars and inhabited by nothing and nobody save the Artrívarike, who have no beginning. One among them, the mother figure Rimader, grew bored of interacting solely with her godly brethren, asked the smith-god Dvargveir to forge for her some amusing creatures from the stars. This he did in an attempt to attain her love, and when she kissed one of his creations - the first goose - it sprang to life, formed from gold, and laid a golden egg. This egg hatched, and while its top half became the sky and its lower half & amniotic fluids became the earth and water, its embryo was all mortal life.

    The golden goose and its egg

    And so the Earth and its creatures - including fairies, dwarves, gnomes, giants, elves (well there's plenty of evidence for the existence of the latter two, at least...) and of course humans - came to be.

    The gods were divided over what to do with the new world of mortals, whose creation none of them had anticipated (much less planned for). One faction, which kept the name Artrívarike and was led by Rimader & her husband Vátaz, was in favor of intervening in mortal affairs to aid and steward them like parental figures; a second faction, called the Inghírike or 'ignorant kings' and led by the goddess of fate Wurŝa, opted to ignore the mortal world forever; and the third faction of deities, the Rĝkkarike or 'destroying kings' led by Vátaz's brother Rökaz, advocated snuffing mortals out altogether and destroying their unplanned world.

    Rimader persuades her husband to protect the world of mortals

    Naturally the Artrívarike and Rĝkkarike came to blows almost immediately, their war allegedly touching off when Rökaz attempted to crush the Earth in his hand but was stopped by Vátaz, who himself had laid a hand on his brother in the process. Their battle cast the stars in the sky down to the Earth, forming the mountains and valleys, until eventually the Artrívarike - aided by the Inghírik under Wurŝa, who emerged from her kin's isolation to lend the Artrívarike her aid and change their short-term fate in a Faustian bargain that fated them and the world of men to destruction later - emerged triumphant and the surviving Rĝkkarike were forced to hide themselves away in a pocket dimension of Rökaz's creation - what became known to the Venskár as the Underworld.

    The heart of the Underworld, lair of the Destroying Kings

    For ages now the Artrívarike have been helping and confounding the human race in their own ways and as it suited their whims, while the Rĝkkarike sulked and tormented the souls of the unworthy dead in the Underworld and occasionally emerged to trouble the mortal plane. Among the Artrívarike, who numbered in the hundreds, there were:

    • Vátaz, god of laws, lightning, knowledge and victory. Considered the patriarch of the Artrívarike. Opposed by Rökaz.
    • Rimader, wife of Vátaz and goddess of fertility, motherhood, spring & the Earth. Considered the matriarch of the Artrívarike. Opposed by Zisa, consort of Rökaz and goddess of winter, death and infertility.
    • Hibrand, eldest son of Vátaz and Rimader, god of fire and war. His name is thought to be a Venskár corruption of the Saor Heibran. Opposed by Hengadyr, the mad god of volcanoes, sadistic cruelty and utterly unrestrained bloodlust that doesn't discriminate between friend and foe.
    • Védar, middle son of Vátaz and Rimader, god of water, learning and funeral rites. Opposed by Tuŝibrand, the storm god.
    • Munír, youngest son of Vátaz and Rimader, god of music and the dead. Accidentally killed by Hibrand when the latter was tricked by Rökaz into thinking he was a great white stag in the middle of a hunt, but resurrected by his parents and made into the guardian of the souls of the worthy fallen who manage to ascend to the stars. Opposed by Fjöl, son of Zisa and Rokaz, god of death and the gatekeeper of the Underworld.
    • Ulŝaz, the god of the hunt, who is said to be a fleet-footed, keen-eyed giant wearing a wolf's head as a hood and can turn himself into a giant white-bellied silver wolf at will. Opposed by Ŝjylf, the lazy god of slumber.
    • Lafr, only daughter of Vátaz and Rimader (born between Védar and Munír) and goddess of love, sex, joy and oaths, at whose altars couples declare their undying love and commitment. Opposed by Nifla, the shapeshifting goddess of lust, drink and memory.
    • Braka, goddess of crafting, who taught humans how to weave clothes & work wood, and also persuaded her indifferent husband Dvargveir to teach them how to work iron and bronze. Opposed by Jötarr, the god of destruction who bears similar enmity for Dvargveir.
    • Greja, daughter of Rökaz and niece of Vátaz who turned against her family for love of mankind, and taught them writing in Venskár myth. Opposed by her adoptive brother Logi, the god of deceit, who repaid Vátaz taking him in after his parents had been killed by a falling star with betrayal.

    As the best-known and most revered of the Artrívarike, they were popularly known as the 'Nine Good Gods', or even just the 'Nine', and were opposed by the 'Nine Evil Gods' that led the Rĝkkarike. Their worship was conducted by priestly shamans, both men and women, who purportedly had the gift of prophecy, were (at least supposed to be) skilled herbalists and led the community in rituals of sacrifice at sacred trees & poles or altars hewn from a single slab of stone. The most common form of sacrifice, the oper, involved the burning of a fraction of the community's crops before the sacred plant or on the altar as an offering to the Nine, with the priest upending a jug of mead into the fire at the very end as a libation for his or her deities. In times of greater crisis or after such a crisis has been averted (ex. a winter turned out to be shorter and warmer than expected), animals - ideally a strong bull, ram or horse - were sacrificed in a variation of the oper, their throat slit over the altar or before the tree by the local priest, as either a desperate call for the gods' help in surviving a disaster or thanks to the gods for heading it off. After a battle, some or all of the prisoners - humans or otherwise - would be killed by the army's accompanying priest(s) in a human sacrifice ritual to further honor the gods and thank them for granting the victors triumph, called the opáma.

    Notably, there was no centralized religious structure among the Artrívarei to regulate and enforce doctrinal practices. Every priest operated essentially independently of one another and, as long as they weren't engaging in openly heretical practices like sacrificing to the Rĝkkarike, had little to do or say to one another. The result was that, while each tribe and village revered the same deities and believed in fundamentally similar myths, they could have very different religious traditions - ie. revering certain gods on different days, or emphasizing the worship of one Shining King above the others.

    Recreation of a sacred pole of Ulŝaz

    A priest leads the community in a ritual of sacrifice and thanksgiving to Hibrand

    When someone has died, their body must be properly disposed of by their kin and local priest. Those who did not die in battle were to be buried beneath the earth, binding their soul to the site of their grave and sheltering it from the minions of the Destroying Kings until the end of time; the wealthy could afford megalithic tombs, while poorer people had to make do with a barrow where many of their kin were buried or just a consecrated hole in the ground (those buried in bogs provide modern archaeologists with the best-preserved specimens of ancient Venskár). Those who died nobly in battle instead had their bodies burnt, so that their spirit would be freed from the earth and taken up into the heavens by Munír, guardian of the dead, and his host of Vangr​ ('avengers') - winged immortals who were once human, but made divine by the will of the Nine upon completing their ascent to the heavens. Upon finishing their own ascent, the soul of the valiant dead would similarly be made a Vang, and drink and eat and spar merrily in the halls and courtyards of the gods until the day of reckoning for all things came, when they would form the vanguard of the host of the Shining Kings. Anyone who was not buried, or whose priest delivered the burial rites improperly, was thought to come back as a murderous wight to torment the living and take from them the peace they cannot enjoy in undeath.

    The megalithic tomb of an early Venskár king, dated to approx. 10,320 AA

    Matching their nine paramount gods, the Venskar believed nine virtues to be of the utmost importance, and anyone who thought themselves a man of honor would do their best to live these traits (in no particular order):

    - Valor: Personal bravery was the greatest of virtues, and even evil men can be spoken well-of if they exhibit the courage to risk themselves in battle. Besides that obvious facet of bravery, people who risked their lives to save their friends and kin (for example, by running into a burning building, or trying to pull survivors to safety in the midst of a flood) and to defy the orders of a tyrannical or foolish leader are also hailed as champions of this virtue. A common creed among Venskár warriors was 'my foe I shall fight in the field; I shan't stay to be burned in my own home'.

    - Truth: Honesty, even brutal bluntness, and straight talking are appreciated among the Venskár, who have little patience for double-dealing and intrigues.

    - Fidelity:
    Standing by one's oaths, promises and blood ties, no matter the cost, is considered a virtue, and goes hand-in-hand with the virtue of Truth.

    - Perseverance: No matter how rough life can get or how insurmountable the odds seem to be, a virtuous Venskár never gives up and wades through his or her troubles with head held high & back straightened.

    - Discipline: Good Venskár know what the laws and customs of their people are, and do not break them even if it hurts them personally.

    - Self-reliance: While Venskár are supposed to live and work with their kin and village, that doesn't mean they should get soft and expect others to do all their work for them, nor is relying on one's kin always an option. A Venskar must be able to hunt, farm, weave clothes, build a house and in general live by himself (at most, with his family) if needed; both their society and the gods look down on those considered 'useless eaters'. Stealing from others was most definitely out of the question, regardless of one's personal circumstances.

    - Hospitality: Venskár should be good hosts and not mistreat or murder a guest who has done them no wrong. Guests should be welcomed with bread, mead and an open heart.

    - Industriousness: Going hand-in-hand with self-reliance, Venskár were expected to be diligent workers and to do their utmost to serve their kings (unless of course, said king was a tyrant) and feed & house their families.

    - Justice: Upright Venskár should not bully the humble and lowly, abuse their underlings for no reason, and respect the elderly. They do not steal, rape, betray their allies and kinsmen, or desecrate graves, but instead act to punish those who do these things.

    A major theme of Artrívarei was that one could not outrun destiny, nor fight it. Wurŝa, goddess of fate, gave the Artrívarike victory in their primordial war with the Rĝkkarike, but at a price; after nine thousand years, the string of fate would be cut, and the Rĝkkarike would emerge from the underworld with their innumerable minions - chief among them the sag-ehrs or 'dagger-ears', as the Venskár called the Zaroi, against whom they had even more antagonism than H. altus - to link up with those corrupted by them on the Earth and try to complete their work. In turn, the Artrívarike will descend from the heavens with their own armies of Vangr, setting the stage for an epic clash of the gods which the Venskár call the Värstörung or 'Great Destruction'. The beasts of the earth, the creatures of the sea, the birds of the air and the bound souls of those who did not die gloriously in battle but were at least properly buried will all be free to choose a side, though choose they must - there is no room for neutrality at the end of days.

    Vátaz leads his divine warriors against his brother's hordes at the Great Destruction

    In the end, the side they choose matters little anyway, as the two sides are fated to destroy one another utterly: Vátaz will be mortally wounded by Rökaz, but manage to kill his brother in turn before expiring, and the world will be destroyed. The only survivors will be Munír, Greja and the Inghírike, who will rebuild the Earth in a more perfect form and birth a new race of humans into a glorious golden age with none of the past's flaws and grudges to hold them or their children back. Some especially lucky souls might survive the Värstörung to be reincarnated into a new body in the next world, but this is considered an unlikely fate even for the bravest and mightiest of Venskár warriors.

    Munír and Greja in the new world

    So, if the Venskár believe that fate is immutable, the world is doomed and everyone will die no matter what they do, why do they go on living? Wurŝa inscribes the names and destinies of all who live in her great Scroll of the Living as soon as they take their first breath, so why not simply go with the flow and not care about anything or anyone else? The answer to both of these questions is that they, as a people, appear to have held an 'anti-nihilist' viewpoint on life and its struggles. Life is short, everyone dies and turns to dust someday, and nobody can change that - so the logical course of action was not to give in to existential despair and descend into a meaningless frenzy, but to do one's best to let those he or she loves know that they're cared about, leave the world a better place for one's own children than when they themselves found it, and of course also win glory on the battlefield - for not only are these deeds inherently good, but one's name can live on much longer in the songs and memories of their loved ones than their physical body. They may fail and die, either on an earthly battlefield or in the Great Destruction, but they have to try anyway.

    Modern historians have reached the conclusion that the Venskár clung to their Nine Virtues and did their best to make meaning out of them because they knew how utterly meaningless, pointless and unrewarding life was without a code to adhere to & live; indeed, it wouldn't even really be 'living', just going through the motions of existing. Moreover, if the future is already set in stone, then as far as the Venskár are concerned, they were inevitably going to do whatever they were planning to anyway; they might as well have some fun with it in the process. In all, this was a mindset that motivated fighting to attain martial glory, having both a strong community spirit and significance self-reliance at the same time and pushing through even the grimmest of hardships without giving up, even if the struggle seems meaningless or unwinnable - in other words, exactly the mindset that a group of Arctic barbarians needed to survive in a(n initially, at least, only slightly more hospitable) new and unfamiliar land where life was nearly as difficult as it was back in their homeland and they were surrounded by often-hostile nonhuman natives.

    Early Venskár military
    The early armies of the Venskár were not really proper professional armies, but could better be described as a mass of tribal warbands. When a tribe made the decision to go to war (so, pretty much every other day...) they would raise a host in three parts. The first, largest and yet also the poorest and worst-disciplined element of these warband was the hond, the classic tribal levy. Every free family of the tribe was required to supply the warband with at least one able-bodied man who had seen between twelve to fifty winters in their lifetime, though of course no king was about to turn away any extra volunteers - of which there were usually plenty, as men seeking glory, plunder and an escape from the tough humdrum of farming in the middle of a great global cooling were never in short supply. The warriors of the hond had to arm and attire themselves, so most if not all would have gone unarmored save for perhaps layers of animal hides and clothing: while stereotypically depicted as shirtless screaming barbarians, the low temperatures of their new homeland meant that all but the bravest and most foolhardy of hond-men would've worn some form of clothing just as insulation from the cold, at least in this day and age. In terms of weapons, modern military historians have so far had no reason to doubt that the hond fought like the average Hyperborean warband: most men would have wielded bows, slings, javelins, spears and axes, with the better-off members of the community showing up with iron swords, and the most common types of shield were round ones and longer, oval-shaped ones, both of which were made of hardwood and frequently painted with tribal designs.

    A figment of popular imagination: the Venskár hond (and one helmeted retainer) charging into battle shirtless in the Altanic winter

    The second element were the more professional retainers of the kings or entröstja ('trusted ones'), younger sons of freemen who had no land of their own and no desire to rent from or become indentured to anyone other than the tribal king himself. As these men owned no land of their own, they could focus entirely on training for war, and were fed, sheltered and equipped at the expense of their master in exchange for their unquestioning fealty. These retainers were known to wear iron helmets and occasionally heart-protecting disks or square plates in the style of better-off Ancient Hyperborean and Saor warriors, secured to their shoulders and belt with leather straps, and were better & more uniformly armed than the men of the hond: they wielded angons - longer, heavier javelins than what their poorer kinsmen and fellow tribals had, with a barbed head of iron and a long, narrow shank - and iron axes, spears or longswords made for slashing in conjunction with a round or oval shield. The entröstja were not ambush-warriors, but men who stood and fought in a shield-wall, from where they would fling their angons at the foe before closing in with their melee weapons: not the most complicated or elegant of military formations, but effective enough for the circumstances and generally quite capable of steamrolling the less disciplined hond or an archaic Altanian tribe's warriors when advancing.

    A spear-armed 'trusted one' wearing a winged helmet

    The best, or at least best-equipped, Venskár warriors were the kings themselves and their kin: his härighet, or 'affinity'. They were very heavily armored by ancient Hyperborealic standards: they wore not only ornate helmets of iron with gilded designs and horse-hair crests, but also vests of tough rawhide or iron plates laced together to form lamellar armor. With their heavier armor, these men apparently felt quite confident about ditching their shields to wield two-handed weapons: iron pikes, long-axes and two-handed greatswords that consumed much of a village's iron to make. Ringmail must have entered Venskár usage at the very end of this 'dark age', as the oldest-ever mail hauberk found in Venskár territories dated back to 10,500 AA, but it would soon rapidly appear with or altogether replace the lamellar cuirass everywhere except among the Northern Venskár. The härighet invariably formed the center of a Venskár battle line.

    A tribal king of the Venskár (in gilded helmet) with members of his affinity

    An exception to all of the above categories were berserkers. These men were noted to be especially tall and strong, had an almost monotheistic reverence for Hibrand, the god of war, and before engaging in combat they would consume massive amounts of alcohol and/or psychotropic mushrooms to put themselves in the murderous frenzy that they are most famous for. Some berserkers, remembering that they could only kill people to honor Hibrand if they were alive, wore armor into battle, while others went bare-chested and with no headgear save perhaps a hood and cloak made of wolf or boar's hide to show off their fearlessness (or simply because they were too poor to afford armor). Armored and unarmored berserkers alike favored heavy two-handed weapons like the royal affinity (failing that, they'd carry and frequently wield multiple weapons instead), but they didn't have to come from the royal clan to be a berserker: poorer men who nevertheless showed great courage and physical strength, interest in worshiping Hibrand and willingness to fight as a berserker could and often would be provisioned with such arms by their local priest.

    A wolf-wearing Venskár berserker

    The Venskár also made use of two beasts of war: the horse, and the Arctic wolfhound. Due to a lack of saddles until around 10,500 AA, it is assumed that the early Venskár did not ride horses into battle to carry out massive lance-wielding charges, nor did they fight as horse-archers like some of the eastern peoples of Muataria did, but rather they chiefly used horses as beasts of burden and a mode of transportation: warriors who could afford horses would ride them to the battlefield and then dismount to fight, or even re-mount and ride them to keypoints on the battlefield (such as a hill or river crossing) before dismounting again, in essence functioning as mounted infantry. However, the advent of the saddle around 10,500 AA would revolutionize this aspect of Venskár warfare and make it possible for true heavy cavalry to emerge in their ranks, especially in the south and west. Wolfhounds, on the other hand, most definitely did directly participate in combat: outfitted with iron-spiked collars and sometimes even lamellar armor of their own, they would prove to indeed be man's best friends against the elves, following their masters into the thick of battles with Altanians (and both earlier and later, the Zaroi) to tackle, claw & tear at opponents' legs and throats, and thrash about with their spiked collars to leave gouges in the foe's flesh.

    Overall, the Venskár appear to have been less focused on ambushing tactics and raids than their distant Saor cousins, and instead preferred heavier gear and set-piece battles. While the hond fought in a very Saor-like fashion, relying on surprise and short bursts of mobility coupled with the barbaric ferocity often ascribed to them and the Saor to quickly win battles or execute raids, the retainers & royal affinity fought in a very different way - and indeed, the hond was traditionally deployed separately and ahead of the retainers & affinity, to surprise and weaken the opposing army as they marched through forest and bog. They would form a shield-wall, with the king and his affinity in the center and the retainers assigned to the edges of the formation, and advance as such until they meet the enemy, at which point the battle turned into a push of shield, spear and sword until one wall broke and fled.

    In open-field battles where surprise charges by the hond were not an option, they would form up to the best of their ability behind the nobles' and retainers' shield-wall, firing at the foe from over their shields and pushing their betters onward against the foe with all their weight, as well as stepping up to fill in any gaps in the line as needed. Berserkers fought as essentially independent individuals no matter where the battlefield was, reputedly charging ahead of any shield-wall or mass of hond-men to throw themselves head-first at the enemy's ranks and kill as many rival warriors as they possibly could before either dying themselves or the rest of their army joined in.

    Venskár custom demanded that, on the eve of battle, both sides send their best warrior forward to engage in a duel to the death. Obviously, whichever side's champion won the ensuing single combat would feel quite the morale boost, for their man's triumph was a sign that the gods favored them. There is little doubt among modern historians that this was another surviving element of the Hyperborealic tradition of 'heroic combat'.
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; February 08, 2018 at 11:36 PM.

  14. #54
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    I'm more or less done with the Venskar for this stage in the world's history, so I'm moving on to the Midijan Hyperaustralians.

    Hyperaustralians: The Medhaṅdassi
    The Great Cooling that began around 10,000 AA ravaged societies across the Earth, but few were hit harder than that of the native humans of Hyperaustralis. As the rain turned to sleet and then snow, their crops failed and their fields froze over, the people of Earth's southernmost continent faced the same problems the Hyperboreans did on the opposite end of the planet - namely, that there were far more Hyperaustralians than they could hope to feed, in a classic Malthusian collapse scenario - and at first responded by descending into an increasingly desperate and murderous frenzy, attacking their neighbors and rival tribes for resources and even turning to cannibalism. After many years of this madness, some of the more far-sighted Hyperaustralian witch-kings living on the coast reached the same conclusion that the more clever Hyperborealic kings did: instead of ripping each other to shreds over a dwindling pool of resources that they couldn't replenish anyway, it would be wiser to band together, build enough ships to transport their people and sail for greener pastures, which they could then take from whichever unfortunate natives stood in their way per Hyperaustralic tradition.

    A Hyperaustralic tribe hauling in prisoners from a rival tribe for consumption, c. 10,010 AA

    The first target of the Hyperaustralic migration that began around 10,050 AA was the large island that they called Abyar, or 'sanctuary'. It wasn't actually that much better than the homeland they left behind, but in a storm as great as the Great Cooling, any port would suffice. Or so the first arrivals (who quite rapidly and totally destroyed the Sebi'Awi colonies already present here, with such speed that they were unable to send any warning back home of what was coming) had thought - soon more and more Hyperaustralians had landed on their shores, having heard of this paradisaical island where they could find salvation from the ghosts of famine and social collapse, and the Malthusian collapse that drove them from the shores of Hyperaustralis threatened to repeat itself. A great war was fought between the Abyari, as the first Hyperaustralians to settle the island were called, and other Hyperaustralians between 10,100 and 10,125 AA: recovered artifacts and remains show that this was not a war defined by epic clashes between large armies, but a vicious struggle for survival fought chiefly between small landing parties and the populations of coastal settlements, with many such towns razed to the ground and mass graves filled with war-damaged skeletons & bloodstained iron weapons found everywhere across the Abyari coast. In the end however, it appears the Abyari won, because after 10,125 AA it seemed that the non-Abyari Hyperaustralians turned their migratory focus to two other regions: Iwatoa to the east, and (more pertinent to this entry) Midija to the north, only stopping at Abyari ports to regroup and resupply (likely the consequence of whatever peace agreement made between the Abyari & non-Abyari, which has unfortunately been lost to history).

    The bulk of the Hyperaustralian migration was ultimately redirected to the Midijan subcontinent, which was closer to Abyar than Iwatoa. The oldest Hyperaustralian artifacts on the subcontinent are dated back to 10,135 AA, so it is presumed that this was when the first of their parties made landfall. What is certain is that they were, even by the low standards of the time, extremely brutal: mobs of men from an already savage cultural background, maddened by hunger (owing to limited supplies, the Hyperaustralians would only pack just enough food onto their ships to keep themselves from starving before making landfall, and would have to go days without eating if anything happened to delay their voyage), disembarked from their crowded ships with iron weapons in hand and rampaged through coastal Sebi'Awi lands, putting town after town to the torch and wreaking indiscriminate murder and rapine upon everyone they found. More than that, they also ate everything: crops, mushrooms, cattle, wild game, grass and leaves, human prisoners...all these the starving Hyperaustralians devoured, only bothering to cook to avoid disease. These first arrivals have been described as monsters or locusts, but they can be more accurately compared to a horde of driver ants: columns of almost mindless, ravenous warriors that destroyed and devoured everything in their path to clear the way for their less martial workers and leaders. The Sebi'Awi may have had greater discipline and a caste of magically empowered priests, but the Hyperaustralians brought to the table iron weapons, raw numbers and mass psychosis driven partly by starvation, partly by the need to secure a new homeland and partly by their own savage traditions, and that was enough to carry them to victory over a good chunk of Midija.

    What the first Hyperaustralic warriors to land on Midija would have looked like, c. 10,125 AA

    There did not seem to be any attempt at negotiation or even peaceful communication on the part of the new arrivals, at least not at first. From the Sebi'Awi point of view, it would have looked as though strange ships reached their subcontinent's southernmost point one day, from which packs of crazed tattooed cannibals emerged - and started to kill and eat everyone, all without rhyme or reason. And that's when they heard of a Hyperaustralic advance: especially early on in the invasion, the Hyperaustralians - unencumbered by heavy equipment, overly large numbers, supply trains and consciences - moved with such speed and ferocity that to an outside observer it would have seemed as though entire villages were simply disappearing into thin air, utterly swallowed up by the shadow of their advance with scarcely a survivor to tell tales of the horrors visited upon them. As far as the Hyperaustralians were concerned, the humid tropical region they just found was heaven on earth compared to what they'd left behind, but it was teeming with life; and to claim it for themselves and their descendants, they had to bring hell to heaven's native dwellers. As engaged as they were in this whirlwind of bloodshed and mass psychotic break, the Hyperaustralians expressed no understanding of or care for Sebi'Awi cultural norms, and had no issues with massacring upper-caste Sebi'Awi alongside their social inferiors.

    Depiction of Hyperaustralic warriors pursuing a Sebi'Awi noble and his wife in anachronistic armor

    Once the initial insane rage and hunger of the Hyperaustralians had burned out, they could take a moment to actually study their new surroundings - and the Sebi'Awi they had overwhelmed, but not yet eaten. Despite the shock of their initial invasion and the mass casualties they inflicted, the Hyperaustralians soon found that they were still heavily outnumbered by the locals. Due to a lack of records (especially written ones) it is unclear what exactly happened in the next few centuries, but within about 400 years they seem to have gone the way of the Mudmen who founded the Union of Chik'a to the north: that is to say, they imposed themselves upon the existing caste system of the Sebi'Awi, reordered it to their liking, and were in many ways assimilated into Sebi'Awi society - though without totally losing their alien roots. In the long term, it seems that the chaos and devastation brought by the invaders most severely adversely affected the upper class of the native Sebi'Awi, as upper-caste elements were largely exterminated or driven away and the survivors subsumed into the invaders' own nobility (well, what passed for one in the brutish Hyperaustralic society, anyway).

    Late Midijan Hyperaustralic helmet: made of coconut, decorated with grass dyed red (with blood?)

    While the bulk of the Hyperaustralian migrants quite rapidly disappeared into the lower castes through a combination of top-down pressure, settlement plans and intermarriage, becoming physically indistinguishable from the people their ancestors were driving away out of fear of cannibalism a few generations ago, the opposite occurred within the upper orders of society: those were 'darkened' with the replacement and/or absorption of the native Sebi'Awi nobility and priesthood by the descendants of Hyperaustralian witch-kings and champions. The Dzlieri brought over the sea by their Hyperaustralic masters were also formally organized into a under-caste set below even the slaves, the 'slaves of slaves'. These new, southern people - neither truly Sebi'Awi, nor truly Hyperaustralic - called themselves the Medhaṅdassi, or 'middle people', positioned between the rest of Muataria and their old homeland to the far south. They evidently were no longer cannibals, and in fact tried quite hard to ignore that their ancestors absolutely did eat people; if records to be believed it seemed, the Medhaṅdassi actually stood against later waves of Hyperaustralic migrants and raiders from Abyar.

    Map of Hyperaustralic conquests by 10,500 AA

    Red - Medhaṅdassi
    Green - Abyari
    Olive lines - Mudman presence

    Medhaṅdassi society
    In the lands of the Middle People, the castes of warriors and priests switched places in prominence, with the warriors (naturally, this was where the Hyperaustralians and their descendants fit in) reigning supreme over their subjects by the one true god, force of arms; their cities were ruled not by councils of Magi from the priestly caste, but by singular kings from the ranks of warriors, raised high on the shields of their followers. Even high-status Hyperaustralians with magical abilities preferred to identify as warriors rather than mages, allowing them to perpetuate the tradition of witch-kings. The priests were confined to an entirely religious and advisory role, while warriors ran each Medhaṅdassi kingdom.

    Curiously, priests kept praying to the same Sebi'Awi gods as before, though the cities in and around the southern tip of the peninsula also added some Hyperaustralic gods to the already diverse Sebi'Awi pantheon in their rituals, or else merged them with existing Sebi"Awi deities to which they were similar: for example, the dark war god Ulaƫ appears to have been conflated with K'Uta, the Sebi"Awi's own war god. It can be surmised that the Hyperaustralic gods were forgotten entirely further north.

    The temple and palace complex at Narahari, a ruined city of the ancient Medhaṅdassi

    Under the Medhaṅdassi, a measure of de-urbanization took place in southern Midija. While the cities remained inhabited by priests, bureaucrats, craftsmen and traders (freshly permitted to move into the cities by their new overlords) the heirs of the witch-kings of the far south preferred to live in palatial countryside estates, directly overseeing the masses of peasants tilling the surrounding fields, hunting in the rainforest and fishing in the rivers & seas. Their nobles and retainers, to whom land was allotted, did much the same thing, ruling from the countryside rather than the urban centers newly damaged by war and the occasional plague. However, climate change had relatively little effect on southern Midija compared to every other region in the world - even northern Midija - and it remained, largely, a tropical rainforest; rather harder to live in than the cleared grounds of the cities, and often host to even more dangers. As a consequence, and combined with the strong pre-Hyperaustralic social organization of the Sebi'Awi around city states, the process of de-urbanization in southern Midija wasn't quite as severe as it had been in, say, the 'Awali Riverlands.

    Ancient Medhaṅdassi farmers, c. 10,500 AA

    Another factor in the de-urbanization of the south was an uptick in 'Mudman' attacks from the interior jungles of Midija, where even the ferocity and iron weapons of the Hyperaustralians failed to make much headway against the forces of nature and those she protected - namely, these mudmen. Early on in the invasion, Hyperaustralian tribes that went too deep into the jungle (no matter how psychotically fearless and/or numerous) never re-emerged; and later on, as those Hyperaustralians gradually morphed into the Medhaṅdassi, their kings found two sources of frustration with the mudmen - firstly that they would never accept the imposition of the Medhaṅdassi yoke over their necks, and secondly that these mudmen were a constant danger to the countryside of their domains, raiding and pillaging frontier villages before melting back into the trees ahead of the Medhaṅdassi lords' response. By moving their seats of power into rural fortresses (really, practically castles) much closer to the front-lines of the unending, low-intensity war with the mudmen the Medhaṅdassi did two things: one, it allowed them to spot and muster a response to mudman incursions much more quickly than if they had still been holed up in the cities; and two, it allowed them to indulge themselves in their favorite sport - war - on a weekly or even almost daily basis, owing to the high frequency of mudman attacks in this period (and for some time after). Braver Medhaṅdassi warriors would lead their troops in pursuit of the mudmen a little ways into the interior jungle, hoping to follow them into a larger battle or their home village so they could burn the foe's homes to the ground and nail their skins to the trees as a warning to other mudman raiders. 10,500 AA, even the most successful and foolhardy Medhaṅdassi knew better than to give chase for too long, or to stray too deep into the jungle.

    Quick response: Medhaṅdassi nobles in a chariot and elephant lead a strike force to counter a Mudman raid

    There remained a greater degree of meritocracy in Medhaṅdassi society than that of the Sebi'Awi, yet another remnant of their past where the mighty ruled in all things and could seize power from entrenched interests by simple force of arms. They had an odd twist on the Sebi'Awi principle of adoptive succession, where (as Rash'If Tanki Mul'Arn's adopted heir Tul'Ark demonstrated) it was possible for a king to adopt his successor: among the Medhaṅdassi, whenever a king seemed to be dying (of illness, old age, war wounds, or he was simply going to war with no guarantee of victory or survival) the mightiest and cleverest of his sons and followers would compete for the glory of being named his heir. And by 'compete', obviously they actually meant 'engage in a vicious battle-royale within a closed arena, with the entire royal family watching, until only one man remains standing'. Naturally, that lone survivor was automatically named the king's heir. Magic seemed to have counted for less under the Medhaṅdassi than it did with their ancestors: you no longer needed magical powers of your own to stand in a royal succession challenge, for if you can win without magical powers - well, that's good enough, and certainly makes you better than any mages you killed in Medhaṅdassi eyes.

    Reenactors portraying a pair of Medhaṅdassi nobles dueling for the right of succession

    Medhaṅdassi religion: Enahimatavenga, the Way of the Open Palm
    The Medhaṅdassi largely followed the Sebi'Awi pantheon by 10,500 AA, their own gods largely forgotten except in the far southern reaches of Midija (and even there they were worshiped alongside Sebi'Awi deities). However, several new cults and religions had emerged by 10,500 AA as well, the most famous and enduring being the Way of the Open Palm - or as the Medhaṅdassi themselves called it, the Enahimatavenga. This religion, which (especially strangely considering its roots in perhaps the most bloodthirsty and viscerally barbaric newcomers to Midija) stressed pacifism as the highest virtue, can be best defined as a Populist religion with a Proselyte mentality.

    Symbol of the Enahimatavenga: an open hand reaching out from a lotus (here seen with an Enlightened meditating on the palm)

    According to the Charyas, as practitioners of the Open Palm call their scriptures, the religion was founded during the later stages of the calamitous Hyperaustralic invasion of Midija by a man named Ar-Tulu, the youngest son of the Hyperaustralic witch-king Tulu. Ar-Tulu was raised to be as bloodthirsty and merciless a warrior as his older brothers, but was so traumatized upon killing and attempting to eat his first man - a Sebi'Awi farmer who had the bad luck of being in his village when the Hyperaustralians attacked, or in other words, the wrong place at the wrong time - that he fled into the wilderness in shame. For a decade he wandered the land, a nameless vagrant in a roughspun robe who wore no clothing and carried no jewels that could give away his princely birth, and witnessed yet more horrible atrocities: pretty much everything his fellow Hyperaustralians did, of course, but also the oppression inflicted by the higher castes of Sebi'Awi society upon those beneath them and the atrocities they themselves perpetrated. His fellow Hyperaustralians and the gods they revered may have been monsters, he decided, but embracing the gods and lifestyle of their foes wasn't an option either.

    Ar-Tulu thus retreated into solitude for a time, living for another eight years as a hermit: meditating, eating nothing but vegetables and fruits, and helping out those he found to be in need but otherwise keeping well away from other human beings, civilized or not. When he emerged from his hermitage, he simply called himself Karu ('teacher') and proclaimed to all who would hear that he had the solution to Midija's problems. This solution came in the form of the 'three enlightened principles':
    • Pacifism: One of the three great roots of all the world's ills is violence. To oppose it, those who would walk the Way of the Open Palm had to embrace pacifism and not harm any other living being, to the extreme of not even hurting insects and subsisting on an entirely vegetarian diet (in which even root vegetables, such as onions, were exempted; the bulb or root's ability to sprout was considered indicative of a living being). If someone else attacked a believer, that believer was expected to not fight back, but rather 'turn the other cheek' literally and figuratively.
    • Asceticism: Greed and love of luxury are yet another root of the world's problems. Believers were expected to only possess as little as they needed to get by, and not want for more. The more zealous practitioners of the Open Palm would follow in the monastic tradition that started with Karu and isolate themselves from civilization, living in austere conditions as hermit monks and nuns.
    • Egalitarianism: There are to be no divides between the faithful; indeed, inequality is the third root of all evil, for it moves the empowered to oppression and spawns envy in the hearts of the oppressed. All who walk the Way of the Open Palm must do so hand in hand with each other, with no regard to earthly status.

    Karu further elaborated that he did not believe in the Sebi'Awi or Hyperaustralic gods, deeming any god that would call for or tolerate the shedding of blood to be an evil demon and unworthy of worship. Instead, he argued that the Earth had always existed and would continue to always exist; that there was presently no afterlife, neither a heaven nor hell (or as he put it, 'the only Hell is the one we are living in now'); that mankind was trapped in a vicious cycle of reincarnation; and that the embrace of his Three Principles, along with copious meditation, was the only way to shake oneself free from that cycle, get the lesser half of one's mind (the part that succumbs to vices) under control, and attain enlightenment.

    A painting depicting Ar-Tulu/Karu as he attains enlightenment

    The souls of these 'Enlightened', rather than continuing to reincarnate into unborn vessels on the earth, would ascend to the stars and be free to build paradise off the mortal plane with their new godlike powers, and also be able to guide believers who have yet to reach enlightenment from beyond the 'Veil' separating the material and spiritual planes. Those who die as gluttons, agents of violence and oppression would also be unshackled from the cycle of reincarnation, but become demons - mistakenly revered as gods by humans who see in them reflections of their own vices, and/or have been deceived by their abilities - and just as the Enlightened can guide humans to achieving paradise, so too can they compel mortals to worship them and damn themselves to becoming more demons in the process. Where Paradise would be a world of perfect harmony where the Enlightened lived alongside one another in eternal peace and prosperity, each demon lived in absolute isolation in a hell of their own making, their twisted minds and vices warping these mini-Hells to reflect the worst in themselves.

    When Karu came to tell these truths to his family, they didn't even recognize him at first, and wound up laughing him out. Still, he was not dissuaded and went around the subcontinent barefoot, preaching to all who would hear. In so doing, he built up a significant following - especially among the lower castes who were enthralled by the Open Palm's emphasis on equality and opposition to the violence that had ruined so many of their lives, as well as refugees (of all classes and ethnicities) fleeing from the wars consuming the subcontinent and 'broken men', veterans like himself who had had more than their fill of mindless violence. Seven years after he began preaching, Karu was confronted by the son of the farmer he had killed so long ago: in keeping with his own teachings, he allowed the man to kill him with a dagger, exhorting his followers not to avenge him and telling his murderer that he hoped his death would bring him peace with his last breath. This heroic martyrdom further energized Karu's followers, elevated him to the status of Ai-Karu ('Great Teacher') and sealed the Enahimatavenga's status as one of the subcontinent's major religions.

    By 10,500 AA, the Way of the Open Palm remained a widely popular religion, though it is strongest in the countryside and among the lower orders of society. The religion was primarily spread by itinerant karus who preach the truth of the Open Palm to the masses and subsist off the charity of believers, though several monastic complexes have sprung up in the south of the continent and serve as meditation retreats for the faithful. Under the pressure of constant harassment by raiders and warlords of all stripes & sides, the community had split in twain: they were now divided into the sects of Tanatahine, more radical practitioners who went around naked (as part of their belief in absolute asceticism) and still believed in absolute pacifism, and the Fafinahine​, the moderates who would wear simple brown or white robes, believed fighting (but not killing) in self-defense was acceptable, and allowed the consumption of animal products such as cheese and milk. While the Tanatahine were so poor and so resolute in their beliefs that over time they faced less harassment - in part because even the Hyperaustralians/Medhaṅdassi came to respect the strength of their conviction, and also because they tended to have nothing worth stealing - the Fafinahine had gathered more followers, probably due to their beliefs and expectations of believers being less demanding & more accessible, and were noted for both setting up a bevy of monasteries across southern Midija and for the formation of large religious communities around these monasteries, often operating with autonomy from and agreement with the Medhaṅdassi kings, with bamboo-wielding self-defense militias.

    Depiction of a monk of the Tanatahine meditating to commune with a pair of spirits

    Artist's imagining of an ancient sage of the Fafinahine

    Early Medhaṅdassi military
    The Medhaṅdassi, true to their Hyperaustralic roots, put great emphasis on and had great pride in their martial prowess. The disorganized warbands of the early Hyperaustralians had all but vanished by 10,500 AA (around the same time that the Medhaṅdassi identity had solidified itself), replaced by a much larger and better-organized war machine called the auha'ne system after its largest unit.

    Having adopted the Sebi'Awi caste system and integrated themselves as a new warrior caste, the Medhaṅdassi warriors or kau'ane took pride of place. They divided themselves into infantry, archers, chariotry and the elephant corps; each Medhaṅdassi warrior trained to fight from as soon as they could walk, was assigned a specialization on their tenth birthday, sparred at least once a day and participated in martial tournaments on at least a semi-annual basis. The sweltering heat of the southern jungles made heavy armor impractical, and so these elite fighters (regardless of their particular specialty) went into battle with the heaviest practical armor they could find: iron helmets (worn over a light cap for comfort, and under a second decorative cap with crest to denote rank) coupled with woven vests and skirts of rattan and coconut fiber, with a brightly-colored cloak of feathers to finish the ensemble. They definitely didn't skimp on iron for their weapons, though: iron javelins, stabbing spears and swords were their primary melee weapons, while foot archers, chariot-archers and elephant riders also wielded bows with iron arrows. Headhunting was a proud tradition among the kau'ane, no doubt passed on down from their Hyperaustralic ancestors, and competition to see who could collect the most enemy heads was always a fierce affair. After a battle, each warrior would proudly present a collection of all the heads he managed to gather to his commander and/or king, who would be expected to reward him with an amount of bullion or even land equivalent to the glory he had showered himself and his liege with.

    Elite kau'ane warriors in ornately-patterned, brightly colored cloaks and crested helmets, c. 10,500 AA

    The majority of the Medhaṅdassi army however would have been composed of the ugahee, or levy. These were men from the lower castes who were either pressed into service by their betters by their masters during times of war (which is to say, all the time, considering the civilization under discussion) or who volunteered. They would have fought with whatever weapons they could afford or make on their own - chiefly spears, axes, clubs and maces, slings, bows and machetes, coupled with shields of bamboo or rattan - and would have largely been entirely unarmored save for their coconut-helmets; affordable and easy enough to make (just hollow out any sufficiently large coconut, maybe cut some larger holes for your eyes, and you're done), these would have been a nearly universal sight among the lesser soldiers of a Medhaṅdassi army, except among the archers who needed completely unhindered visibility to attain maximum effectiveness. The occasional rattan skirt was also not all that uncommon. Their primary advantages over the better-equipped kau'ane were their numbers, mobility and social mobility: true to Hyperaustralic tradition, there was one way these lowborns could change their caste and with it, their family's fate - any member of the ugahee who manages to bring back the heads of ten foes in a single battle can be promoted to the ranks of the warrior caste, and be rewarded a slice of whatever territory they help conquer to start with.

    A mass of ugahee warriors (unarmored save for their coconut helmets) on a night raid, c. 10,500 AA

    Two things made the Medhaṅdassi military stand out in comparison to their rivals and, indeed, most other Iron Age armies, which were already frequently divided along class lines. Firstly, there was their organization to consider: as mentioned above, the Medhaṅdassi fought in a much more organized and regimented manner than their ancestors. The most basic formation in their armies was the w'ane or 'ten', which as the name suggests, was a squad of ten men: nine warriors (all ugahee or kau'ane), led by either one kau'an officer who wore a green crest and cloak - the sign of an untested youth, probably between thirteen and sixteen years in age, who had been schooled in the art of war since he was a child and may have even already killed someone but had yet to fight a real battle - or another kau'an whose colors matched the highest-ranking warrior in the unit, respectively.

    Ten w'anes made up a hu'ne or 'hundred', a 100-man formation that was still comprised of only one type of soldier (infantry/archers/chariots/elephants) and answered to a blue-crested kau'an: a veteran of at least one battle, considered a full member of the brotherhood of elite warriors that was the kau'ane.

    Ten hu'nes comprised a ha'ne or 'thousand', a thousand-strong combined-arms formation (the Medhaṅdassi standard seems to have been four parts infantry, three parts archers, two parts chariotry and one part elephant corps) led by a red-crested and cloaked kau'an: a hardened veteran who had seen at least five battles and taken more heads than any of his surviving peers after one of those engagements. A ha'ne was expected to be capable of operating autonomously when required, and in fact, many battles have been won and lost by the discipline or lack thereof of each ha'ne's commanders; as reckless and hungry for personal glory as the warrior-nobles of Medhaṅdassi society could be, they would sometimes charge into obvious traps or overreach as they pursued some fleeing foes - and at other times, they proved to be more audacious and decisive than a vacillating or overly-cautious commander.

    Finally, one or more ha'nes formed the great auha'ne, or royal army led by a king in a multicolored crest and cloak. The strength of a Medhaṅdassi kingdom was measured not by its territorial borders or material wealth, but by the size and reputation of its auhane.

    The other distinctive factor were the weapons the Medhaṅdassi used. Sure, their weapons were forged from iron rather than bronze, but that would become true of most other military forces around the world sooner or later. The first weapon that really set the Medhaṅdassi apart was the laminated longbow: made of bamboo and recurved, these powerful bows could send an iron-headed arrow much farther and with greater force than a shortbow ever could, giving their wielders a tremendous advantage in range and armor-penetrating power over most contemporaries. The bow could be strung and unstrung at will, making it possible for Medhaṅdassi archers to get around the debilitating effects of rain on their tool of war. However, these massive bows (as tall as a man according to many sources, including virtually every Medhaṅdassi source on the subject) were notoriously heavy and difficult to aim, meaning that they were best fired in massed volleys where the archers were bound to hit something.

    A common longbowman of the ugahee, c. 10,500 AA

    The second great Medhaṅdassi weapon was the war elephant. First mastered around 10,200 AA, elephants from the dense jungles of southern Midija were originally used as beasts of burden, but soon enough enterprising Medhaṅdassi rulers were deploying them to play a more direct role on the battlefield. Covered in red and black war-paint, carrying up to five men (including the driver and at least one archer & pikeman) on their backs, sometimes armored with iron plates and scales and always with tusks slathered in a deadly poison made from the combined extracts of certain trees, snakes and fungi, these war elephants were always a horrifying sight for the enemies of the Medhaṅdassi (including other Medhaṅdassi...) on battlefields. They could shatter shield-walls and cavalry or chariot charges alike with ease, trample panicking and ordered foes alike, and shrug off arrows and slingstones unless struck in the eyes. Of course, if made to panic by a blow to the eyes or fire (among other things - according to legend, the Medhaṅdassi king Turatha defeated one of his rivals by driving an entire town's worth of mice into the way of his elephantry) they could very well turn and devastate their own side's ranks, which was why their drivers were always armed with a hammer and large nail with which to kill their elephant should it go out of control.

    Two war elephants, for comparison: one from early Midijan Hyperaustralic times (c. 10,200-350/400 AA), and one from the Medhaṅdassi period (10,400 AA onward)
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; October 04, 2017 at 07:21 PM.

  15. #55
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    With the early Iron Age Medhaṅdassi more or less done, I'm moving on to Omet next.

    The Ometic New Kingdom: the early days
    The chaos brought about by the Cooling and ensuing migrations of various peoples considered 'barbarians' by the settled civilizations of Muataria brought not only great destruction, but also great opportunity for those brave and fortunate enough to see it - and not just among the barbaric peoples. The Ometic civilization, which had lost its original center of power to Sebi'Awi colonists and generally fell into malaise in the Late Bronze Age, would by the end of the early Iron Age find itself not only rejuvenated but on the cusp of entering its greatest period: the New Kingdom.

    The arrival of the Suufulk from the eastern plains spelled devastation for most settlements along the Lewaye River, and the Omete were no exception. The Middle Kingdom, for all its strength and recent militarization, was not off to a good start in the Iron Age: the seemingly endless tide of Suuvulk overwhelmed its overly centralized defense system and resulted in almost all of the Ometic settlements along the length of the Lewaye being sacked, or at least seriously imperiled. Around 10,015 AA, even the walls of the Second Omet itself crumbled before the newcomers, and only one man out of the entire royal household - Prince Tefaye, the eleventh son of the last King of the Middle Ometic Kingdom - managed to escape the resulting slaughter. The Middle Kingdom was, for all intents and purposes, quite dead at this point.

    With only a band of less than a hundred faithful retainers left to him, Tefaye raced to Lewalero, the last Ometic settlement of any significance, located at the very source of the river he and his people called the 'Lifegiver', and was joined along the way by throngs of refugees from other Ometic towns. Suufulk raids drained their numbers as they made the journey north, but as they approached Lewalero the raids became less intense in their frequency and ferocity: while Tefaye thanked the gods for this turn of fortunate, modern historians have come to believe that the Suufulk were concentrating their efforts on the more fertile and densely populated downriver lands, and thus the Omete simply lucked out this time. Once ensconced at the source of the Lewaye River, the Ometic civilization began to rebuild as it did after the fall of the First Omet to the Sebi'Awi. The extreme circumstances under which Tefaye had become King of his remaining people, and the convenient lack of any rival claimants owing to the annihilation of his royal kin by the Suufulk, meant that he could fully dedicate his energies to the reconstruction effort.

    Wall mural depicting Ometic refugees bringing their valuables to Lewalero

    Records are spotty on the period of reconstruction between 10,015 and 10,115 AA, presumably because the Omete were more focused on building their strength back up than leaving behind records for future generations they had no way of imagining to find. However, the abundance of ruined multi-story tenement buildings in close proximity to one another, the simplicity of Ometic pottery of this time compared to even the Middle Kingdom's pottery, and the sudden abundance of iron while ornamentation made of precious metals grew scarce all point to the transformation of Ometic society (already highly centralized during the Middle Kingdom period) into a hyper-militarized, austere state focused solely on survival. The loss of Omet's original tin and copper sources was made up for by iron from the mountains, as exhibited by the wealth of evidence indicating the construction of many iron mines. A fragmentary wall mural depicts the King (possibly either Tefaye or his son and immediate successor) mandating that each Ometic family must sire at least five children, which coupled with the prosperity of Lewalero's environs and the region's escape from the effects of the Great Cooling largely unscathed, must have translated to a population explosion.

    The great temples of Lewalero, the most elaborate of the new Ometic capital's structures in the early Iron Age, in their heyday

    This then was the Ometic 'New Kingdom' that burst back onto the scene after a hundred years of rebuilding and repopulating: an extremely martially focused, overpopulated and tightly controlled kingdom, with little choice but to expand back down the Lewaye River to sustain itself. The gold this early New Kingdom mined mostly did not go into ornaments as mentioned above, but was used to hire warriors from afar: chiefly fleet-footed Qormat mercenaries from the other side of the mountains, and fierce horsemen and camel-riders from the Mun'umati tribes carving out their own dominions to the northeast. Omet's new armies - empowered not just by the mass-scale embrace of iron and the coming of age of multiple vast generations of men, but also the adoption of horse-riding cavalry after the example set by their Suufulk adversaries - were able to reassert the Kings' authority over the few Ometic downriver towns that had managed to survive the Suufulk onslaught (mostly by offering large annual tributes to the nearest Suufulk tribes for protection), and performed remarkably better than the armies of Middle Omet in clashes with the invaders...though by this time, it also helped that the Suufulk had been weakened by their crushing defeat on the Yene, and could hardly bring their former Golga companions (whose peaceful ways had led to their alienation from the increasingly warlike Suufulk) to battlefields. The Suufulk had their ferocity and equestrian skill as they did before, but the Omete now brought to the table enough numbers to match their foe, discipline, their own highly capable cavalry (both actual Ometic horsemen & in the form of their Mun'umati mercenaries) and a ruthless desire to avenge their past defeats and reclaim their homeland, and inch by inch they began to claw their way back downriver.

    Ometic warriors retake a town from the Suufulk, c. 10,135 AA

    Yet the Omete did not undertake a policy of genocide towards the Suufulk they defeated, instead subjugating these tribes to serve as auxiliaries; in exchange for grazing rights on Ometic territory (and, of course, not being exterminated), those Suufulk tribes that they defeated were required to swear fealty to the King in Lewalero and provide tributes of meat, milk and cheese in peacetime as well as warriors in wartime. As far as Tefaye's heirs were concerned, these nomads were of more use against their ancestral foes in Itami alive than dead. Diplomatic arrangements were made with less hostile Suufulk tribes as well, once more granting them seasonal grazing rights on Ometic lands in exchange for fighting under the New Kingdom's banners as mercenaries on demand (the peacetime tribute was waived for these tribes with which the Omete did business, as opposed to having to subjugate). Meanwhile, the reconquered lands downriver proved too vast and unwieldy for the King to centrally administer (especially since the bureaucratic corps of the New Kingdom was not what it was under the Old and Middle Kingdoms), and so they were frequently divided into lots and handed out as rewards to loyal commanders who, in turn, would become the progenitors of a new landed Ometic aristocracy.

    Thus the New Kingdom proper that emerged at the end of the early Iron Age was a larger, more prosperous but less centralized state than what it had been going into the Iron Age, host to friendly Suufulk tribes or those it had beaten into something resembling submission, and still maintaining a large army that was part actual royal standing host, part mercenary mass and part noble-led local levy - and aimed at Itami, that surviving Sebi'Awi city-state which had laid the Old Kingdom of their ancestors low and was proving to be the oldest and most inveterate enemy of the Ometic people, whose scribes began referring to the Itamites as 'iniwochi' or 'cockroaches', not just out of the bitter hatred that had festered between the two peoples but also out of a grudging recognition of their survivability.

    New Kingdom society
    As mentioned above, New Ometic society was highly militarized, yet also less centralized than its Middle Kingdom predecessor had been - at least, it had become so by the end of the early Iron Age. The pinnacle of society remained the King of Omet, though his seat was still called Lewalero in this time period: Omet had become the name of the overall kingdom. The Kings remained, as they always had been, the top war-leader of Omet's armies in these violent times; the highest and ultimate arbiter of justice within their borders; and his people's chief priest, leading seasonal religious processions in Lewalero to ensure that the gods were duly honored and their favor kept through these dark days.

    Artist's imagining of King Inabaye receiving the fealty of his nobles, c. 10,120 AA

    However, the King's power was no longer so near to absolute, as it had been before the coming of the Suufulk. A side-effect of the wars of reconquest down the length of the Lewaye was that Omet ended up with far more land than it could hope to centrally administer and protect, especially with a badly decimated corps of scribes and the constant pressures of Suufulk and Ometic-speaking raiders on all sides, and so from the reign of Tefaye's great-grandson Inabaye onward the Ometic royals had made it a policy to chop their conquests up into fiefdoms and then dole these out to their most capable warriors & faithful lieutenants. Those men and their descendants became the new Ometic aristocracy, lesser warlords who were charged with the defense of their lordships' borders and subjects as well as the collection of local taxes on a semi-annual basis, of which they had to give up a quarter to a third to the King - and, accordingly, would often maintain private armies of locally-raised soldiers and mercenaries alike, which of course could be turned on their overlord should he incur their displeasure. When Omet as a whole went to war, which was often, these lords would naturally be expected to unquestioningly march at their king's side. There seem to have been two categories of lords: the Abiti (singl. Abit) who were landed princes of royal blood - typically the younger sons and brothers of a King - or their descendants, and the Meči (singl. Meč), those nobles of non-royal birth and their progeny.

    Reenactment of mounted Ometic nobles in a horse-race

    The rest of New Ometic society, barring the few scribes who still lived and remained in service to the Kings or the new Ometic nobility, seems to have been overwhelmingly composed of rural peasants and village-based artisans who worked alongside their lords' slaves. Like most regions of the world in these trying times, the stresses of the Great Cooling and ensuing barbarian invasions (as well as the collapse of Omet's trade networks with the 'Awali and Saurii) inflicted a severe degree of deurbanization on Omet's cities, driving the majority of city-dwellers into the countryside and forcing people who had once been artists, artisans, traders and scholars to turn to subsistence farming to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. Others worked in the iron mines or as smiths, refining said mined iron into tools for farmers or weapons for warriors. The Ometic peasantry lived in sparsely populated and spread-out villages, where they were bound to their lords; when he called them to war, each village had to answer and meet a quota of recruits for the lord's army (usually at least one able-bodied man between twelve and sixty from each household), and every six months his tax-collectors would come round to demand each household also cough up a fraction of their produce.

    Museum model of an Iron Age Ometic farmer from Lewalero's environs

    Kings and lords alike would try to keep a scribe at hand to keep their accounts in order. Though their numbers had decreased vastly since the end of the Bronze Age - many scribes must have perished when the Second Omet and the Middle Kingdom's other cities fell, and considering how dire circumstances were for the survivors, they can hardly be faulted for not prioritizing literacy and scholarship over survival - those scribes who did survive the collapse of the Middle Kingdom were instrumental in keeping annual records of taxes and writing down each year's major events. Indeed, these stylus-armed heroes are held responsible by modern historians for what few fragmentary records survive from this time period, and thus give modern researchers an insight into what it was like to live in the early New Kingdom. These records are universally simple wax tablets, which were written on with styluses made of sharpened animal bones.

    Tributary and allied tribes presented a new addition to Iron Age Ometic society. Suufulk tribes that were defeated in war were neither exterminated nor assimilated into Ometic society, but they were reduced to autonomous tributaries living on land that had been (at least officially) incorporated into the New Kingdom's borders and required to supply the King of Omet with soldiers and taxes of meat, milk and cheese; in exchange, they were permitted to graze their herds on Ometic territory and even to enforce their own code of law in cases involving fellow Suufulk (though any case involving a Suufulk and Omete would be judged according to Ometic law and by an Ometic lord or magistrate). These tribes' leaders had to swear oaths of loyalty to the King, and failing to uphold that oath by not meeting their assigned quotas of taxes and troops was considered an act of rebellion - which, of course, meant the tribe would be punished as harshly as any rebel town. Aside from these vassalized tribes, the Omete also maintained alliances with other Suufulk tribes which, as allies rather than subjects, remained wholly independent and only had to supply Omet with fighting men in times of war in exchange for grazing rights.

    Artist's depiction of Suufulk warriors allied/vassalized to the Omete attacking a tribe of other Suufulk hostile to Omet, c. 10,400 AA

    New Kingdom military
    The military of the Ometic New Kingdom was much larger and had a more complicated structure than its predecessors. It comprised of three elements: a hard core of professional mercenaries, hired from abroad and maintained on the royal dime; the semi-professional warriors formed of volunteers from local towns, organized and paid by the newly minted Ometic nobility; and a general levy. Omet's mercenaries were the closest thing to a proper royal army, being entirely dependent on the King of Omet for their pay and housing (indeed the Ometic kings of this period seem to have spent most of their treasury on either utility-focused infrastructure or hiring and maintaining mercenaries, as opposed to glorifying themselves), and comprised many peoples: Ometic-speaking tribals from outside Omet's royal borders, Qormat highlanders, allied Suufulk, and Mun'umati, all of whom brought their own specialized skills to the table. These mercenaries, operating quite far from home, were also dissuaded from turning against their masters by the simple knowledge that the Omete (who had suffered plenty from foreign depradations) were exceedingly unlikely to tolerate any sort of coup or defection from their ranks, and a mob would quite happily tear them to shreds should they attempt to overthrow the King paying them.

    The result was a diverse and flexible array of warriors - Ometic-speaking line infantrymen with long spears and tall cowhide-covered shields, fleet-footed Qormat skirmishers and raiders, Suufulk horse archers and Mun'umati lancers and dromedary cavalry - which, when deployed properly to cover each other's weaknesses and complement one another's strengths & supported by the other elements of the Ometic army, presented a formidable challenge to the less flexible Suufulk and Itamite forces Omet faced on a regular basis. Towards the end of the early Iron Age, as contact was reestablished with peoples beyond the Lewaye basin, Thunderbeasts from the steppes joined the Ometic mercenary corps as living siege engines capable of pulling gates off their hinges; and, as a uniquely properly Ometic shock element of the royal army, so did professional elephant-riders raised from the population of Lewalero & supplied with mighty elephants from the surrounding savanna, forming a terrifying new component of the Kings' forces who were especially effective against enemy cavalry. Being larger than Midijan elephants, the beasts of the Ometic plain could more comfortably carry a howdah from which a crew of up to half a dozen archers could safely rain arrows down upon their foes, while the driver steers their ride into enemy formations to break them up.

    A Qormat raider working as a sellsword for Omet, c. 10,450 AA

    Two Mun'umati dromedary mercenaries in Ometic service, c. 10,500 AA

    Tabletop miniature of an Ometic war elephant and its crew

    The second division of the Iron Age Ometic army were the feudatory troops, or dill'e. These were local volunteers from the countryside or small towns who enlisted in the private armies of nobles in exchange for a salary, boarding and a cut of the plunder after each battle, and were rarely in short supply - life wasn't exactly great for the average Ometic peasant, after all, though unless there was a severe manpower shortage only the toughest eggs of the villages would get accepted into their overlord's retinue. In-between battles, whatever time they didn't spend eating, drinking or sleeping was spent constantly drilling instead to maintain their combat effectiveness. With the local levy being counted on to provide Omet's missile troops, these men were typically armed and attired for melee combat instead: for most men that meant a simple conical iron helmet worn over a soft cap and a thick quilted coat (partly due to its affordability compared to metal armor, and partly because the sweltering heat of the Ometic homeland made heavier armor impractical on a mass scale) coupled with a two-meter spear with a broad iron head & a sharpened wooden end forming its butt, two or three smaller javelins, a club or long knife and a lightweight figure-eight shield covered in tough cowhide. Other men who had proven their aptitude for riding horses formed a smaller contingent of cavalry, and eschewed the javelin and club or dagger for a longer spear and curved iron sword. The Ometic lords themselves were the only notable element of the Ometic army that still rode chariots of the two-horse design into the mid-Iron Age, though now frequently wore vests of iron scales & helmets under decorative caps.

    In battles these men fought under the distinctive banners of their overlord, and the footmen functioned as medium infantry whose preferred tactic was to advance towards the foe in a broad two or three-rank formation, plant their spears butt-first into the ground, and fling their javelins at the enemy before picking their spears back up and closing in for close combat as a shield-wall. The cavalry typically served as their masters' bodyguards and were committed at decisive moments, in flanking maneuvers or to chase off horse-archers as elite lancers, speedy and devastating while charging but rarely lasting long if bogged down in an extended melee.

    Ometic feudatory 'dill' (foot-soldier), c. 10,500 AA

    Reenactors portraying an Ometic nobleman & driver-servant in their chariot, c. 10,500 AA

    The majority of the Ometic army remained levies conscripted from the villages. Each household was required to provide at least one man between the ages of twelve and sixty when war demanded it, with the quota being increased in times of greater crisis - and of course, any volunteers would hardly be turned away. Most of these men would have had to learn to hunt with the bow, sling and javelin to supplement their and their families' diet, and thus could be counted on to at least know what they were doing as skirmishers. Which was what they were overwhelmingly deployed as: unarmored archers, slingers and javelineers whose duty was to harass the foe at range ahead of the royal mercenaries and lords' retainers. Those who owned their own horses and were willing to risk these steeds in combat could function as raiders in conjunction with the feudatory cavalry and Qormat sellswords, as well. Their only real advantage over the armies of the Suufulk and Itami was their numbers; individually, these men were not likely to have been great soldiers (if they were, they'd probably have joined a lord's retinue already) and were little match for a hardened Suufulk rider or Itamite warrior.

    An Iron Age Ometic levy archer

    As most of their battles were fought along the Lewaye River or its tributaries, riverine warfare remained important to Ometic military strategy. This aspect of Ometic warfare, at least, changed little from its Old and Middle Kingdom days, relative to the overhaul of the rest of the Ometic army: the Ometic river navy remained a mix of speedy canoes and larger, heavier barges carrying a mix of archers, warriors and sailors (chiefly slaves), with the former being used to navigate and fight on shallower waters where the latter could not go. When possible, the Omete would still use water-bound means of transport to move their armies around more quickly than by land and bypass enemy defenses.

    The Ometic New Kingdom at the end of the early Iron Age, c. 10,500 AA

    Cyan - Lewalero (capital)
    Dark green - Ometic Kingdom proper
    Light green - Omet's sphere of influence; tributary or allied tribes
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; October 11, 2017 at 06:36 PM.

  16. #56
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    With Omet done, I'm moving onward to the Allawaurë.

    The beginning of the end: The Allawaurë-Saurii 'Great War'
    The Allawaurë long had a complicated relationship with the Saurii west of their lands. The land-bound, aggressively expansionist and highly militaristic Saurii seemed a natural foil to the naval-focused, commercially oriented and aesthetically-inclined Allawaurë, but this hardly prevented them from engaging in trade. Over the course of the Bronze Age, even as Saurii and Allawauric armies occasionally clashed, a trade network (aided by the fact that the Allawaurë were not a single political entity but a collection of independent polities, which in turn meant that there was nothing stopping the Saurii from trading with one Allawauric kingdom while fighting another) developed: in exchange for higher-grade Saurii bronze and luxury crafts, they traded their fine olive oil and wine. As the Middle Bronze Age entered its waning years, the sight of Saurii and Allawauric ships crossing the Muataric Sea to trade rather than to fight was almost as common as the latter occasion.

    Yet, something happened that caused the breakdown of this trade network and sent both civilizations on a precipitous track to the great war that almost entirely doomed them. The exact causes have been extremely difficult for modern historians to discern, as for the longest time all available accounts of what transpired amounted to cloudy myths and retellings of retellings of what might have been the original story - and in terms of physical evidence, they have to go on is the sudden absence of Saurii goods in Allawauric settlements after approximately 9,800 AA, coupled with the surfeit of arms and armor dated to that period and the two hundred years following it - which indicate a complete collapse of trade and diplomatic relations, combined with a tremendous program of militarization among the previously relatively peaceful and commercially-oriented Allawaurë. It was not until very recently that the first actual first-hand record dating back to around 9,800 AA (at least on the Allawauric side) was found, and even that didn't do a whole lot to clarify what had occurred. Certainly it has yet to make a dent on popular imagination, which had been informed for countless years prior by the Allawauric epic poem best known as the Saurias.

    The legend
    The Saurias opened in medias res halfway through the Allawauric-Saurii 'Great War', but to go back to the beginning: the conflict purportedly erupted when a prince of Harokes Pollox, called Lycophron in the poem, was awestruck by the beauty of the Allawauric princess Desponia, only daughter of the mighty Aidolic king (and apparently paramount overlord of all Allawaurë) Telepanos, upon sighting her at a celebratory feast thrown by her father to celebrate his arrival; he was, after all, there to sign a peace treaty between their peoples after reportedly sixty years of warfare. Lycophron asked for Despoina's hand, supposedly not out of lust but to affirm the accord he was there to sign, yet he was rebuffed by both her and her father, for she had been promised to another - Simoeisios, prince of Trochos, whose own father was one of Telepanos' staunchest supporters and closest friends.

    Not about to be dissuaded by this rejection, Lycophron waited until nightfall to unleash a lion-headed and dragonfly-winged scorpion gifted to him by Charos, the dark god who sired the world's monsters and served as the patron deity of the 'barbaric' Saurii in Allawauric reckoning, on Despoina's guards. With them out of the way, he slipped into her chambers and abducted her, fleeing Aidolos aboard a vessel he and his retinue had commandeered. Telepanos and the other guests only realized what had happened the next morning, when they captured one of Lycophron's retainers who had been too drunk to make his escape with the others. The man confessed to his master's plans and the fate that had befallen Despoina under torture, after which Telepanos ordered his head struck off and mounted on a pike while he issued a call to arms to the rest of the Allawaurë: the peace accord had been voided on grounds of the Saurii betrayal and the kidnapping of his beloved sole daughter by their prince, and unless the Saurii were willing to both return her and deliver her abductor for judgment, the war between their peoples was back on.

    Fresco of the abduction of Despoina

    In Polloxokes, Lycophron is rebuked by his father, King Pheraon, and his nobler younger brother Lampion for his deed. Still, he refuses to give up Despoina, and his kin are not willing to hand him over for justice at Allawauric hands. Thus was the two great civilizations of the western Muataric Sea driven irrevocably to war.

    What followed was an entire decade of back-and-forth warfare, as the armies and fleets of the Saurii leagues and Allawauric coalition battled all around and over the Muataric Sea. Great attention is dedicated to the heroes (who were heroes not in the sense that they were particularly morally upstanding, for few were on either side, but simply by virtue of being named characters who were demonstrably mighty warriors, champions of their people and possibly the sons or grandsons of gods) of both sides: among many, many others, Telepanos' six sons were said to have fought together so effectively at the Battle of Dolon that the Saurii thought they were an entire army unto themselves and quit the field, Önomateiras the Dragon-Hearted of Kaladenia purpotedly ate the heart of a feathered dragon for its power and cleared entire Saurii ships on his lonesome, the masterful yet mute archer-prince Sadranis of Istoria who never missed a target and shoots King Pheraon to death a quarter of the way into the poem, and Aranaphon of Obissos who was described as the greatest fighter alive in that time, responsible for massacring entire Saurii regiments either alone or together with only a handful of companions and wounding even Charos when the Father of Monsters emerged from the underworld to assist his people, driving the dark god back beneath the earth with naught but his trusty spear and a little help from Trion.

    On the Saurii side, Lycophron and Lampion were both described as formidable warriors and commanders in their own right, effortlessly dispatching all Allawaurë who dared advance upon them with spear and sword; Vaurinos, the nine-foot-tall and literally bull-headed son of Charos & a giantess, who smashed spear walls with a bronze hammer as large as he was tall and tore men in half with his bare hands; the dark-skinned and dark-eyed Panypion, a son of the southern Saurii colonies, was said to be able to disappear into his own shadow and routinely terrorized Allawauric camps at night; and Ilimachos, a cunning fighter and strategist whose poisoned weapons were the bane of many an Allawauric hero.

    Artist's imagining of the clash of Aranaphon of the Allawaure & Lampion of the Saurii

    (Of course, there were numerous other named characters on both sides, including both men who were great heroes in their own right and those who died paragraphs or sentences after their introduction. In the most extreme example of the latter, a Saurii warrior known as Piccatanos loses his head in the Battle of Trochos Bay only one sentence after his name is given)

    In any case, after ten years of bitter back-and-forth fighting and numerous instances of heroic combat between the two sides' protagonists, the Allawaurë finally make it to the shores of Polloxokes. Their armies fight their way to the gates of the Saurii capital of Harokes Pollox, which they besiege for one and a half years before finally Telepanos takes it by treachery: he pretends to consider the peace offer of Lycophron (who had succeeded his father as King of the Saurii much earlier on in the story) - that the Saurii pay an indemnity and return Desponia to the Aidolians, but Lycophron himself remains unharmed to rule his people - and pulls his host out of sight of the city walls after an exchange of gifts, the Allawauric gift being a massive bronze bull. Little did the Saurii know the bull was hollow, and housed Aranaphon and a score of other Allawauric champions: after sunset they slip out of the construct while the populace and garrison is celebrating the end of the war, butcher the few guards who were still posted to the city's eastern gatehouse, and throw the gates open for the rest of the Allawauric army, which had returned without torches and under cover of night. The Allawaurë promptly swarmed into the city and embarked on a spree of rapine, slaughter and pillaging as most conquering armies were known to do; evidently, Telepanos felt it was right and just to repay Lycophron's treacherous abduction of his daughter with some brutal treachery of his own. Lycophron himself is killed by Telepanos' last surviving son, Dion, on the steps of the temple of Charos, all alone - by this point in time, all of his champions are dead or also engaged elsewhere in the city, and his brother Lampion had been struck down by Aranaphon in single combat days before the fall of his city.

    When the sun rises the next morning, the Saurii capital is in ashes, and blood flows freely through its streets. Virtually all major landmarks have been burned down, and the sole surviving scion of the Saurii royal family was purportedly the infant daughter of Lycophron and Desponia, who was hidden away by his mother out of compassion. The Allawaurë head home, satisfied with the vengeance and plunder they had won, and the poem abruptly ends.

    Allawauric warriors assail the unsuspecting and outnumbered defenders of Harokos Pollox's eastern gates

    The actual facts
    As mentioned above, exactly one record of this time period (at least from the Allawauric side) has been uncovered and translated, and only very recently at that. According to the recovered wax tablet, the Aidolic King Te-le-pa-nu (probably the Telepanos of legend) was commissioning a thousand boar-tusk helmets, two hundred full sets of bronze armor, twelve hundred spears, four hundred swords, twelve hundred shields (a thousand of wood and rawhide, two hundred of bronze), a hundred chariots and a hundred ships. The obvious conclusion is that he was preparing for war, which the scribe who wrote this tablet duly notes near the end:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ancient Allawauric scribe
    ...the King, may he be blessed one thousand and one thousand times, has also ordered the ambassadors of the Lizard-men to be seized and put to death, in retaliation for the massacre of our merchants in the recent riots on their accursed isle. This was but the latest in a string of grievous offenses and outrages committed by the Lizards, and the most unforgivable, even beyond their constant aggression towards our friends to the west. War between our peoples has become inevitable. May Trion preserve us and grant us the strength to vanquish the Lizards...
    Evidently, there had been some years or decades of mutually escalating tensions between the Central & Northern Leagues of the Saurii and Allawaurë before their Great War finally exploded, possibly brought about by Saurii expansion into the Allawauric cultural sphere (which must surely have put those Allawaurë who had yet to be conquered on edge) and the accelerating climate change preceding the Great Cooling; which, in any case, was thought to have at least been affected, and maybe even begun, by the eruption of Mount Terma on the island of Thaumatheia around 9,000 AA, destroying that Allawauric colony entirely and belching enough ash into the sky to darken the horizon for months as far as Aidolos and Trochos. These tensions apparently reached a head with the massacres of Allawauric merchants (perhaps, rather than being motivated by simple xenophobia and greed as the Allawaurë would argue, they had been overcharging for olive oil and warm wine, both of which would have been welcome as the winds grew colder and the nights longer & darker?), to which the King of Aidolos retaliated by executing Saurii emissaries in brazen violation of their diplomatic immunity and engaging in the above-detailed arms buildup. Aidolos is known to have been a major Allawauric city, perhaps the greatest, and it is not inconceivable that Tel-e-pa-nu would have been able to call many of the other Allawauric kings to assist him in his invasion of Polloxokes as either allies or vassals.

    Speaking of the invasion: the prevailing modern theory is that the Saurias got the entire story backwards. Many historians have reached a consensus on the Allawaurë initiating hostilities with a massive surprise attack on Polloxokes, led by Te-le-pa-nu of Aidolos and involving most or even all of the Allawauric kingdoms of note. The Allawaurë appear to thus have had the upper hand early on, especially as they were introducing a new weapon to the western Muataric Sea: the chariot, which they must have learned of from their contact and trade with the 'Awali to the east. The Allawauric navy was able to best its Knauriiete counterpart and at least half, possibly more of Polloxokes was conquered in a fairly short period of time, and contrary to what was recounted in the Saurias the conquerors did not seem ready to leave soon after achieving this conquest. However, the Saurii were able to rally and eventually throw the Allawaurë off their home island in due time, after which the conflict degenerated into a war of attrition that was fought both on the high seas and on land.

    Somewhere during the greater war with the Central Saurii, the Allawaurë appear to have also somehow gotten dragged into hostilities with the Saurii Northern League. This conflict, which may have only been fought by the Allawauric city-kingdoms on the Muataric mainland while their islander cousins focused entirely on battling the Central League and dragged on even longer than the latter (surely contributing to the weakness of both the Northern Saurii and continental Allawaurë on the eve of the Hyperborean invasion), seems to have been conflated into a general Allawauric-Saurii war within the Saurias.

    In any case, both wars were incredibly vicious affairs, even by the standards of Bronze Age warfare. Multiple Allawauric cities, including Trochos and Tergon, at least temporarily fell and were sacked by the Saurii if the evidence of burn marks and other man-inflicted damage on their ruins are any indication, while Allawauric forces assailed the easternmost Saurii colonies with equal ferocity. Aidolos itself was besieged at least three times and may have fallen once, though it was relatively undamaged compared to the westernmost Allawauric settlements. A few Allawaurë steles and murals depicting the massacre of Saurii prisoners or the sack of Saurii cities have been found, and the translated High Allawauric cuneiform on such a stele depicting the cheery sight of a score of impaled Saurii being paraded around a captured city declares that this flagrant war crime was committed to avenge an earlier Saurii massacre of Allawauric prisoners, indicating that both sides had fallen into a cycle of barbarous atrocities and were not in the habit of taking prisoners or showing mercy to captured cities by the late 9,800s AA.

    Clash of civilizations: Allawaurë chariots plowing into a Saurii battle line, c. 9,850 AA

    (almost needless to say, serious scholarly opinion these days holds that virtually all of the heroes of the Saurias either outright didn't exist or were greatly exaggerated versions of historical figures with whom they may, at best, have shared a name and backstory in broad strokes; Telepanos/Te-le-pa-nu falling firmly in the latter category, as nothing of the historical Aidolic king is known to modern audiences beyond his name - he certainly didn't live to see the war's end, considering how long it was believed to have gone on by modern scholars)

    By about 9,950 AA, the war between the Central League and the Allawaurë seems to have either ended or at least started to wind down, with the Saurii having expelled the Allawaurë from Polloxokes; for their part however, the island Allawaurë seem to have not only survived the Saurii counterattacks, but also succeeded in consolidating their own control over the smaller islands within the Sea itself. The war between the Northern Saurii and the mainland Allawaurë lasted a bit longer, and recent research suggests it went on into the 9,970s AA with the Northern Saurii having the advantage & consolidating their hold on the southwestern shorelines of the Muataric mainland. However, the most important long-term consequence of this 'Great War' or rather, great wars was that both civilizations were exhausted, the century or more of constant warfare and brutality (virtually no modern historian has found reason to believe this affair only lasted a little over a decade, as the Saurias claims) having strained their resources and manpower to the limit - which was to have calamitous consequences for both, as the climate continued to cool, snow fell on both Harokes Pollox and Aidolos for the first time since anyone could remember, harvests failed with increasing frequency, and the Hyperborean barbarians (of whom the Saor were a part) finished overwhelming the northern side of Muataria and could now look to the battered, bloodied and yet still materially wealthy civilized south with hunger in their eyes...

    Approximate extent of the Allawauric cultural and political sphere in 9,950 AA, not long before the Hyperborean invasions reach southern Muataria

    The end of the Bronze Age, the dawn of the Iron Age and the fall of the High Allawauric civilization
    Approximately a generation after the Great War, the High Allawauric civilization came to a sudden and violent end, with every one of their remaining mainland cities from Tergon in the west to Kaladenia in the east being violently destroyed; most would never be inhabited again. Their great trade network obviously collapsed, and literacy took a nosedive as well. Even fewer contemporary records of this time period exist compared to that of the Great War, as presumably the Allawaurë were too busy fleeing to their islands to write about their civilization's final fate. The only things that modern historians know with any degree of certainty is that 1) the actual collapse itself was swift and violent, occuring over a period of 20-30 years at most; 2) the Hyperboreans were responsible and various Hyperborealic tribes, Saor and non-Saor alike, came to live in the former Allawaurë domains on the Muataric mainland after 10,350 AA, at which point Allawauric records started becoming plentiful again; and 3) the Allawauric civilization and language survived on the central and eastern islands of the Muataric Sea/Tetanomé, albeit without much of its Bronze Age luster, and soon came to center heavily on two major cities which were the main beneficiaries of the refugee waves from the mainland: Istoria in the east, which had already existed as an Allawauric colony even before the Great War, and the newer Sagalassos in the west.

    The Allawaurë are vanquished by assorted barbarians outside of one of their cities, c. 10,045 AA

    So, what exactly happened? The consensus of modern historians, supported by physical evidence in the form of the obvious signs of destruction on Allawauric ruins dating to this period, the discovery of mass graves wherein some of the deceased were found to have been buried with distinctively Allawauric jewelry and bronze equipment, and the sudden and long-lived presence of Hyperborean ruins and troves of iron weapons in areas that had been previously strictly Allawauric, is that the Hyperboreans crossed the mountains dividing Muataria in twain not long after 10,000 AA and bore down upon the Allawaurë, who were still exhausted from their brutal struggle-to-the-knife with the Saurii. The Hyperborealic peoples that swarmed the Allawaurë included the Saor (Classical Allawauric: Saurenoi, slightly different from the Saurii Sauroi), the Felathabi (All.: Falathai), the Lakani (All.: Lachenoi) and the Speraca (All.: Sperakhoi). All were collectively known as the agribioi, or simply 'barbarians', a term which was also applied to other non-Allawauric peoples like the Saurii and Shamshi. Other names used by the Allawaurë for the Hyperborean barbarians in particular were the fiōnkes ('fair-hairs', no doubt a reference to their generally lighter hair colors, which would have been found exotic by the generally dark-haired Allawaurë) and the sherlōni ('trousered ones', for they tended to wear pants in contrast to the robed & skirted Allawaurë).

    The mainland Allawaurë, battered and weakened as they were, were swept away by this sudden onslaught of iron-wielding barbarians like weeds before an iron scythe. Those who could afford it (or were lucky enough to either own their own boat, or know someone who did) fled the continent for the islands; those who couldn't died, were enslaved, or otherwise fell under Hyperborealic rule and gradually lost their Allawauric identity beneath their new overlords. A rare recovered clay tablet from Aidolos dating to around 10,080 AA, translated from High Allawauric and apparently being unintentionally baked in the great fire that consumed that former jewel of Allawauric civilization's palace, bears the grim last (written) words of an Allawauric clerk who most likely died with his city:
    Quote Originally Posted by The writer of the 'Aidolic Downfall' tablet
    The barbarians have brought a ram to our gates and set some of the northern towers ablaze. Moreover, our warriors were too few in number to cover the entirety of our city's walls, and so they were also able to scale one of the western sections unopposed. Unless Trion and all the gods descend from the heavens right this instant, I fear we are lost. It [illegible]


    Trion be merciful, from whence did these savages come, the arse of Charos himself? They are not Sauroi, that much is certain, nor do they seem to be the docile Thauaroi [Tawarë] of the mountains - for all we know, the Thauaroi may have already been destroyed by these monsters. Their blades are forged of iron rather than bronze, their hair is the color of flame or wheat or tree bark rather than the mud and tar of our two peoples, and their complexion is almost as light as the snow that has fallen on us towards the end of every year for the last hundred years or so, unlike we or the Sauroi whose skins have turned the color of bronze or olives beneath Gainina's sun.


    They do not fight soberly and in orderly battle lines as we or the Sauroi do, but rush forward in great screaming throngs after consuming alcohol and mushrooms, hacking and stabbing away like madmen and swallowing all who stand in their way up as surely as the Tetanomé swallows up rocks. When they first came, Tergon simply disappeared beneath their advance, and we knew not what had transpired there until two survivors came to tell us what befell their city, days before these savages first crossed our borders.


    We will not fall as Tergon did, in a manner so feeble and inauspicious that none remember us. We are the men of Aidolos, sons of Trion and Armazon, and our grandfathers brought fire and bronze and fear into the heart of the Sauroi. The [illegible] are beating at the doors of the palace now. Let them come, says our king, and attempt their worst against our best. I am [illegible] to agree. If we are to die and our city burn today, let them burn with us, and let us die as true Aidolians with blades in our hands...
    The 'Aidolic Downfall' tablet

    Life during the 'Archaic' era of Allawauric history, as the transition period between the High and Classical Allawauric civilizations is known, was much less pleasant and more brutish than life under the High Allawauric civilization. Gone were the palatial city-kingdoms with a complex social hierarchy: urban areas were severely or entirely depopulated as their inhabitants scattered to the countryside to feed themselves and find protection in obscurity from the barbarians, the merchant-princes all but disappeared (on account of the collapse of the Muataric trade network) in favor of a militarized landowning aristocracy, and literacy was nearly forgotten as the number of clerks and scribes dropped sharply and new ones were not educated in most regions. Government devolved almost entirely to the local level, as kings were forgotten in favor of the elected councils of village elders; the island colonies that were absorbing wave after wave of refugees from the mainland had little need to accept the commands of their former kings now that said monarchs had lost their kingdoms, after all.

    The High Allawauric language also evolved under the stresses of the invasion, taking on characteristics thought to have previously belonged to the dialect of the rural and underdeveloped colonies. The 'Classical Allawauric' language which first emerged around 10,450 AA would go on to become one of the best-known tongues of the ancient world to modern ears, thanks to the bevy of historical physical remnants and tales its speakers left behind.

    The Classical Allawauric language
    Modern speech High Allawauric Archaic/Colonial Allawauric Classical Allawauric
    Man, men Kat-sos, ma'kat-sos Ka-sos, me-kasos Kasos, kasoi
    Woman, womenKal-oite, ma'kal-oiteiKa-ite, me-kaiteKaite, kaitai

    From the ashes: Istoria, Sagalassos and the dawn of the Classical Allawauric ('Allawaurai') civilization
    Towards the end of the early Iron Age, the villages that the Allawaurë had been reduced to began to pull together once more, with the larger and more prosperous towns absorbing their neighbors to recreate the city-states of old. Modern historians have little doubt that most of these unifications occurred for economic and military reasons, as the Allawauric towns found that it was easier to defend themselves against seaborne raiders and the Saurii by pooling their resources and manpower together, though there were likely cases of larger settlements simply attacking and imposing their will upon smaller ones as well. However, these new Allawauric communities very notably lacked kings, unlike those of the High Allawauric civilization: evidently, monarchs were deemed unnecessary for governance, having failed at their duties of appeasing the gods and protecting their subjects in the times of war - as the expulsion of the Allawaurë from the mainland quite readily proves. And, of course, the local elected councils of village elders had proven sufficient to steer the Allawaurë through their darkest hour, as also evidenced by their continued survival.

    Of the bevy of new Allawauric city-states that emerged from this synoetic process, two were especially notable, and had greater roles to play throughout the passage of time than their peers: Istoria off the island of Peithia in the east, and Sagalassos on the island of Mykisia in the west. With quite different origins, governments & societies that walked down different evolutionary paths, and different approaches to their neighbors new and old, they also presented splendid foils to one another and represented two very different ways in which the Classical Allawauric civilization would evolve.

    The seat of philosopher-lords: Istoria
    Quote Originally Posted by Cephelon, founding father of an independent Istoria
    From my observations, I have gathered that whenever the mob is granted the freedom to choose for themselves, they inevitably choose poorly. Men are beasts, above all to other men: beasts full of envy, greed, hatred...


    We, the enlightened few who have transcended our baser natures, know what Istoria must become if it is to stand forever: a land whose people have all the purity of an ant colony, who are deaf to their selves and think of nothing but how to strive towards the greatest good with all the single-minded determination of an ant colony, willing to sacrifice themselves by the thousand to overcome any foe. We also know what must be done in order to realize this outcome...
    As of the Hyperborean invasion, Istoria already existed as a colony of the mainland city of Obissos, having been established a thousand years earlier and attained a population of a thousand residents five hundred years after its founding; thus, it was logically where most Obissan refugees ended up, further swelling its already significant (by Bronze Age standards) population and making it into one of the most formidable bastions of the Allawauric civilization during their dark age. According to the city's myth, the line of Obissan kings descended from Uluboros imposed themselves upon the colony and ruled it for three hundred years. They believed their residence to be entirely temporary and spent all their time and energies preparing to retake their mainland home, treating the people of Istoria as little more than expendable pawns to be worked to the bone or thrown to certain death against the Hyperboreans time and time again. However, they did bring with them a greater number of scribes and clerks than the refugees from the other Allawauric cities - prior to its fall, Obissos was renowned as a center of learning - and the first generation of these literati secured royal sanction to build a small academy where they could preserve literacy and teach their children to follow in their ways.

    The tyranny of the Obissan kings could not endure forever, and in 10,300 AA the Istorians reached a critical mass of vehement dissatisfaction with the way things were. The philosopher Cephelon saw this and seized the opportunity to lead a violent uprising, whereby the Istorians rapidly overwhelmed their masters and overthrew the monarchy. However, Cephelon and his intellectual cohorts were not satisfied with simply removing the kings: they saw this as a perfect opportunity to start realizing the utopian society which they had previously only been able to debate within the halls of their academy. Instead of electing a new king or relegating authority to an elected council, Cephelon and friends proclaimed that Istoria would be placed under the authority of their academy and be re-organized into a meritocratic oligarchy, governed only by the ablest and brightest minds capable of steering the place and its people through the darkest hour of the Allawauric people; which was to say, themselves.

    As with other Allawauric cities' founding myths, Istoria's is fuzzy and has very little in the way of physical evidence to back it up, instead being part of a communal mythos perpetuated through oral and written means. Still, it is certain that by 10,500 AA, Istoria had grown from a single colony on a rocky, windswept island in the eastern Muataric Sea to a budding regional power asserting its authority over the nearby, much larger but - fortunately for the Istorians - more divided island of Peithia to the east, where the city-state of Tiotia had emerged as their most bitter and determined adversary. It was also clear that by that time a distinct Istorian identity, anchored in part by the strange caste system for which they had become infamous and centered on the Ivory Tower which had grown out of the city's old academy, had grown entrenched.

    Istorian society
    As mentioned above, Istoria's society was an authoritarian, typically gerontocratic and certainly elitist oligarchy (though no doubt the Istorians would prefer the term 'meritocracy') with a tightly controlled caste system run according to Cephelonic philosophy (which emphasized cold logic over raw passion, curiosity for its own sake, and the right of an intellectual elite to rule over the mindless multitude so as to shepherd them towards the perfect society), a hard foil to the more egalitarian democracy of Sagalassos to its west. It's actually quite well-known to modern historians, thanks to the wealth of accounts left by both the Istorians who boasted at length of how great their system was and their enemies who wrote of its terrible costs.

    All power in Istoria centered on the Ivory Tower, a 30-meter spiraling column of granite and limestone where each of the ten floors supported the one above it with marble pillars, built atop a promontory overlooking the rest of a small isle just off the northeastern coast of Peithia. The first-year students at the Tower lived in the village that lay within its shadow, where the port connecting it to Peithia also lay; older students and the faculty lived, ate and studied within the Tower itself, with the oldest and most venerable of the teachers living in the top floor alongside their headmaster - the Scholarch. The Tower's name came from the decorations of jeweled ivory scattered throughout its three topmost floors, which must have cost a fortune to import during the later stages of the Early Iron Age. And while each floor of the Tower had a small temple dedicated to one of the major gods of the Allawauric pantheon, the most lavish of these temples (naturally located on the top floor) was dedicated not to Trion, king of the gods, but to Epheros, the god of wisdom - appropriately enough, considering the Istorians' values and the nature of the Tower.

    Later artist's depiction of the Ivory Tower and the homes of second-year students at its base, c. 10,500 AA

    Istoria proper was the city on Peithia directly opposite of the Tower, largely destroyed in Cephelon's revolt and rebuilt according to a carefully fixed plan: the city was built in a semicircular shape around its main port (directly opposite of the Tower's smaller port), crisscrossed by cobblestone roads measuring exactly 2.3 m in width and covered in orthogonal mud-brick houses (none of which could exceed five stories in height and were expected to house between two to five families, one on each floor) organized into blocks of up to six houses and districts of up to six blocks. Each district was assigned a purpose - some were to be commercial centers, others were dedicated to artisanal production, and still others housed the families of soldiers - in a top-down manner, and both the urban artisans and the less organized farms lying outside of Istoria's equally precisely measured and built walls had to deal with quotas imposed from above their station in the social pyramid as well. A centrally located space was left largely open and designated as the city's agora, or main marketplace.

    A ruined agora in Istoria proper

    The city-state was officially governed by the Scholarch, the headmaster of the Ivory Tower who was elected for life and advised by the Council of Guardians, a six-member board whose composition was divided between three of the Tower's oldest teachers (who gained their seats purely through seniority) and three other teachers elected for life by Tower graduates and seventh-year students. Those who graduated from the Tower in turn formed the topmost caste of Istorian society, the 'Enlightened' (Classical Allawauric: Gamatinoi) or (more colloquially) 'those who teach and learn'. Chosen from a young age to study at the Tower by a teacher who was sufficiently impressed by their physical and/or intellectual capabilities on their mandatory weekly outings into Istoria proper, or from infancy in case their father was also a student at the Tower, they were educated in arithmetic, reading, writing and religious myths and engaged in sports at the 'Green Gymnasium', an open field outside of the Tower's town, under the eyes of a tutor chosen by their patron from the ages of four to thirteen; at thirteen they had to take an examination to determine whether they were worthy of higher education. Those who excelled at either both physical and intellectual pursuits, or just the latter, were permitted to study further; those who excelled only at physical exertion were slated to become soldiers; and those who excelled at neither were simply slated to be manual laborers in the fields, mines or workshops of Istoria.

    Chosen children being taught by their patron-teacher

    From the ages of fourteen to twenty-one, those who still studied further at the Tower received education not only in arithmetic, religion and literacy but also logic, rhetoric, grammar, philosophy, the arts, military affairs (through a combination of reading epic myths of ancient wars and actual wargaming), engineering and astronomy, equipping them to be the ideal magistrates. Their lives were strictly monitored and regimented: students were woken at dawn with three horn blasts on each of the Tower's first seven floors, had exactly one hour for breakfast, and spent most of the day studying on their own, learning from their teachers in large lecture halls, or engaging in sports at their floor's gymnasium with only three breaks (one hour for lunch, one for supper, and one of a half-hour in-between) a day before turning in for the night no later than three hours after supper. At twenty-one, those who passed their rigorous final examinations graduated from their studies and would promptly be found an assignment for life by the Tower's faculty: whether they were to be guildmasters, diplomats, archivists, artists, military commanders, inventors, lawyers, local governors and supervisors, or teachers in their own right (among other functions) was determined by what they had excelled at over the course of their studies, as was the subject they taught should they be chosen for that profession.

    These graduates, the 'Enlightened', thus led and directed Istorian society in every aspect, and more specifically in the aspect that they proved to be the best at as individuals. However, the system that produced and promoted them also shackled them even after their graduation: their roles were for life and they had absolutely no chance of switching jobs, they were not allowed to have any private property save slaves (even their clothes were handed to them by the Istorian state and technically remained property of the latter), their spouses were chosen for them by the Scholarch and Guardians based not on love but on the likelihood that their union would produce a strong genius, any children they had out of wedlock or who were born with defects were immediately put to death, and any children they had who were both legitimate and healthy were given to a teacher three weeks after birth to be raised into another model student and Enlightened One, unlikely to ever learn of or interact with their biological parents. Discipline was harsh - many crimes that merited lesser punishments among the common populace, such as theft, carried a death sentence for Enlightened, who after all were supposed to know better. The very Scholarch who led them and was elected from their ranks was expected to be the best and brightest of them as well, so naturally he was supposed to be the perfect philosopher-king: a virtuous, selfless and incorruptible genius who could quickly calculate and implement the most efficient way of delivering the greatest good to the greatest number of his subjects, prioritized that greater good over himself at every turn, and heeded the counsel of the Guardians but had enough backbone and brains to not simply mindlessly do everything they advise him to.

    Idealized depiction of the atrium of the Ivory Tower's fifth floor, where Enlightened graduates, teachers and fifth-year students could mingle freely

    One less horrible-sounding oddity about the Istorian Enlightened and their Tower was that, in keeping with the greater Allawauric tradition of gender egalitarianism (at least compared to the generally staunchly patriarchal Hyperboreans), girls and women could and did study to become Enlightened. They were educated separately from the boys and men however, and strictly forbidden from the martial arts. Finally, though there was technically no law against women being Scholarchs, no women made it to that lofty spot throughout all of Istorian history: at best, there was the occasional woman who sat on the Council of Guardians.

    The second caste in Istorian society were the soldiers, or 'Auxiliaries' (All.: Damkhaboi). These were students whose intellectual capabilities were found lacking at the age of thirteen, but who were nonetheless physically robust and gifted at thrashing others on the Green Gymnasium. From the ages of fourteen to twenty-one they were drilled to be the perfect soldiers; capable of marching in full armor and while carrying spear, sword and shield for hours under the sun, immediately following a superior's orders and maintaining disciplined formations under great stress, vanquishing any foe on any battlefield with their weapons, and not retreating unless expressly commanded to do so by an officer. They were also rigorously indoctrinated into upholding the values of Istoria and serving the Enlightened with their all, even their lives, for the last thing those with brains wanted was to be overwhelmed and cast down by those with brawn: their final exam included the murder of up to a dozen Subjects (see below) and on the night before their graduation ceremony, where they would be issued their permanent personal equipment, each soldier had to kill a condemned criminal to demonstrate their loyalty to the Istorian state and its laws one last time. A third of the soldiers, the very best of them, lived in the Tower's town, while the rest lived in a barracks in Istoria proper; all were fed, housed and equipped at the expense of the Istorian state. (their officer corps, being entirely comprised of Enlightened who excelled at the martial arts and strategy during their studies, lived apart from them in the Tower itself) Their spouses were chosen for them by the Scholarch and Guardians (to maximize the odds of producing strong, vibrant children) just like their Enlightened superiors, but at least they got to raise their children themselves - and all so that their sons may hear their tales of heroism and follow in their footsteps when they come of age, of course.

    Boys training to be auxiliaries on Istoria's 'Green Gymnasium', c. 10,500 AA

    The third caste of Istorian society was called the 'Multitude' (All.: Plithos) and comprised of the free common laborers who lived in and around Istoria proper: farmers, miners, potters, bakers, fishermen, etc. They lived in the shadow of the Tower and the Enlightened it churned out, yet though they were poor and had no say in how things were run at all, these hoi polloi enjoyed far greater liberty than the two strata above them. The Tower couldn't care less who they loved, how they lived or when they woke up so long as they paid their taxes, did their jobs, broke no laws and didn't try to rise up against the Scholarch, after all. They did have to worry about meeting production quotas set by their local Enlightened supervisor, with those who failed being flogged or (for repeat offenders who have committed their third offense) beheaded, and also about having any particularly gifted children of theirs being taken away by a visiting teacher from the Tower, but besides that they most likely lived as any other commoner around the Muataric Sea did. In times of war, each household of the Plithoi was required to contribute at least one able-bodied man between the ages of twelve and sixty for a seasonal campaign.

    Beneath even the Plithos were the unfree men and women who comprised the majority of Istorian society: the 'Subjects' (All.: Subimatai) and slaves. The former was a caste of originally non-Istorian populations that had been conquered, still lived in and around their own towns, and occupied a role somewhere between free men and slaves; their men were required to wear dogskin caps and their women a shawl of goat's hair to denote their status, they had to turn over all of their produce to a local Istorian governor or supervisor from the Enlightened caste who would return only a fraction to them in the form of sufficient rations for two meals and a snack a day, they were worked to the bone by said governors and supervisors, those who couldn't meet a production quota lost their head on the second offense rather than the third as was the case with the Plithoi, and Auxiliaries would ritually slaughter the strongest, smartest and most independent-minded of them as part of their final exams. Still, they could not be bought or sold, being considered slaves of the Istorian state, and were allowed to own private property, live with their own families and even accumulate sufficient wealth to emancipate themselves from their condition, thereby joining the ranks of the Plithos; alternatively, a Subimata who was conscripted into the Istorian army and served admirably in war could also be emancipated at the commendation of their Enlightened officer, and those who were freed this way as opposed to buying their own freedom could also leave Istoria entirely as opposed to just becoming one of the Multitude. Actual slaves, whether taken in war or bought, were just chattel, actually were privately owned (as opposed to the Subimatai, who were essentially slaves to the state) and could be treated however their master saw fit; their children too would be born as slaves.

    Subimatai being exhorted to work harder by their Enlightened supervisor

    The voices of the many: Sagalassos
    Quote Originally Posted by Kadmon, first leader of the free Sagalassos
    The kings have failed us! They could not hold the barbarians back on the mainland, and now they work us to death to fund and supply their own return there! But why should any of us care about that? What is the mainland to us? Not one of us was born there, nor our fathers, nor our fathers' fathers. Why should we labor and bleed and sweat so that a king we've never chosen and never seen can reclaim his own home from savages his own forefathers couldn't defeat, all at our expense? And yes, we will bleed for his adventure, if we haven't already. Who do you think he's going to conscript for his army and fleet when he makes his move? If he desires Aidolos so badly, he should have to shed his own blood for it, but alas it is our sons who will pay the price if we let him try for it.


    Enough is enough, I say! Down with this foreign king and his nobles! Who set them to rule us? The gods surely did not, for if they had the favor of the Ecumene, they wouldn't have been chased off the mainland by the fair-hairs and trousered ones in the first place! It is time that we Sagalassians free ourselves from their rule and instead govern ourselves, working and making decisions for our own good rather than the good of a few! March upon that palace on the hill with me, and let freedom ring through our streets!
    In contrast to the more established Istoria, Sagalassos does not appear to have existed before the Late Bronze Age collapse. Instead, from what physical evidence archaeologists have been able to gather and date, this particular city appears to have been first founded around a cove on the island of Mykisia by the first few waves of refugees fleeing the Hyperborean advance on the mainland between 10,080 and 10,120 AA. As a community originally founded by and for mainland Allawaurë, it stands to reason that it would have originally been quite similar to mainland city-kingdoms like Aidolos in how its society was functioned, being ruled by an elected kin: however, he was not supported by a board of plutocratic merchant-princes (as had been the case in the pre-Hyperborean Allawauric civilization) but by a circle of military leaders, representing a change in the times on account of the disintegration of the Muataric trade network and the necessary militarization of society to survive these trying years. This lines up with the city's aptly-named founding myth, the Sagalassias, which declares that Sagalassos was indeed founded by Allawaurë fleeing from the mainland (most, but not all, of them having originally been born in Aidolos), names the line of Armazon (the former kings of Aidolos) as its ruling house, and identifies the Aidolic princeling Onoximandros I (or Onoximander) - reputedly the thirteenth son of the last King of Aidolos, but the only one who managed to escape the city's fall to the Hyperborealic barbarians - as its founder.

    According to the Sagalassias, Onoximander and his heirs gradually expanded their rule to the colonial towns and villages beyond Sagalassos' original borders, which were inhabited by the descendants of much earlier Allawauric colonists who'd cut their teeth fighting the Saurii. Moreover, they and their martial nobles were not particularly kind or fair rulers, frequently favoring the Aidolic newcomers and their descendants over the colonials. By 10,350 AA, Sagalassos had grown to become almost a proper city, having aggressively absorbed dozens of smaller outlying towns into its city limits and constantly moving its walls outward, but it was also unstable on account of power and wealth still being concentrated into the hands of the King of Sagalassos and the Aidolic-blooded aristocracy, who made all the decisions on all things - from who to fight, to what to build and when, and to how to distribute food and water - with zero input from the colonials, who far outnumbered them. Naturally, this situation could not stand much longer, and according to the Sagalassias it was the refusal of King Teleognis III to increase the size of commoners' rations during that year's winter caused the Sagalassian hoi polloi to finally snap: led by a man named Kadmon, the poor of Sagalassos picked up whatever weapons they could find - butchers' and potters' knives, rocks, sticks, fishing nets, hunting bows, what have you - and attacked their betters, overwhelming the city's soldiery in the streets with sheer weight of numbers and besieging the Aidolic palace.

    After a week of preparations, Kadmon directed an assault on the palatial walls: the mob failed to completely take the palace, but broke through the outer walls and occupied the courtyards, in the process seizing Teleognis and tearing him to pieces. His son and successor, Isiphanes, surrendered in exchange for safe passage for himself and half of his remaining loyalists to the city's port, from where they went back to the mainland to try their hand at reclaiming Aidolos from the Hyperboreans; the other half opted to accept defeat and remain behind, albeit with a reduction in status to be the equals of those they had previously lorded over. More relevantly to the story at hand, Kadmon proceeded to proclaim that Sagalassos no longer had need for a king to rule over them and instead the people should rule themselves, completing the 'Sagalassian Revolution'. The palace granary was ransacked and the goods hidden there distributed equally to all, and the nobles' chariots would be used in the city's first public chariot races to celebrate the occasion.

    Now, whether events unfolded exactly as the Sagalassias claims is and most likely will forever remain unknown. However, it must have been at least an exaggerated version of some real events, for by 10,450 AA Sagalassos certainly had no king and had instead become the world's first large-scale democracy. The city had become the largest in the post-Hyperborean Allawauric world, with some 4,000 households compared to Istoria's 3,500 according to a preserved census, and it showed no sign of stopping its advance into and absorption of the rest of eastern Mykisia. Most notably, all who lived behind or outside but within sight of Sagalassos' walls were citizens equal in legal and political stature to one another, from the lowest potter or baker to the wealthiest merchant or farm-owner.

    Sagalassian society
    Sagalassian society represented a continuing trend of egalitarianism and democracy from the days of the High Allawauric civilization, in contrast to the authoritarian and elitist Istorians. It was governed by the Kadmonic Constitution, said to have been laid down by Kadmon himself, and the most important part of said constitution decreed that all who were born free on Sagalassian soil was considered a citizen: they had the right to a trial of their peers, they could not be forfeited of property nor life without being found guilty at a trial, and perhaps even more importantly, they had the franchise. Among the Sagalassians, citizens above the age of sixteen could publicly debate and vote on legislation - whether it was for new laws, the imposition or relaxation of tariffs, where & how to develop infrastructure, and whether to grant citizenship to other subjugated peoples, among other things - in the city's central agora, with a simple majority being sufficient to carry the day. They also voted on declarations of war and treaties, though these required a two-thirds majority to be realized, and elected their leaders. In keeping with Allawauric egalitarianism, female citizens who were of age could also vote, though not on matters of war. When there was a legal case going on, the people elected a judge who would then preside over the trial and deliver the sentence, with a jury of randomly-selected citizens (chosen by lottery) being the ones to deliver a 'guilty' or 'not guilty' verdict. In essence, the Sagalassian people were their own legislature and judiciary.

    The Sagalassian mob hears out two politicians debating before voting on their proposals, c. 10,500 AA

    Sagalassos was officially headed by a Chief-among-Equals, usually shortened to just 'Chief' (Classical Allawauric: Archigos). The Archigos was elected by all Sagalassian citizens for a four-year term, could not run for consecutive terms under the Kadmonic Constitution, and theoretically could be any citizen themselves; there were no requirements for the office beyond popularity. He headed the executive branch of the Sagalassian government, serving primarily as its war leader and supreme judge - in any case that resulted in a hung jury, the Archigos was consulted to deliver his final binding judgment and sentence - and was supported by twelve supreme general-admirals (All.: Metoikoi) in matters of war & twelve supreme magistrates (All.: Engravoi) in civil matters. Both these supreme commanders and magistrates were also elected by the Sagalassian mob by simple majorities for two-year terms, so that the Archigos couldn't simply stack the military and civil service with his lackeys. The Archigos did have the power to appoint and dismiss lesser officials, such as accountants and tax collectors, at will, and most notably he also wielded the power to set tax rates; as Kadmon himself was said to have dryly noted, the people could hardly be trusted with the power to ensure that they paid no taxes at all, because who on Earth likes paying taxes? An unjust Archigos, however, could be deposed in a recall-election if a simple majority of the citizens vote against him.

    Idealized depiction of Kadmon, the first Archigos: dressed modestly, seated on a humble chair, and listening to the grievances of his people

    Another duty of the Archigos was the management of the city's grain dole. A provision of the Kadmonic Constitution stated that the city's leader was responsible for ensuring that not one Sagalassian citizen, not even the poorest, went hungry; thus, the Archigoi had to ensure there was always enough grain in the granaries of Sagalassos to provide every family with one sack of grain a day, enough to make bread three times a day with. This grain could be procured in any number of ways - just the annual harvest tax from the Sagalassian farmers living beyond the city walls, imported from abroad (a rarity in the Early Iron Age), or seized from enemies - but the people of Sagalassos didn't particularly care how it was procured as long as enough of it consistently passed into their hands. On days when chariot races were being held, free freshly-baked bread was distributed instead of sacks of grain, again at state expense. An Archigos who let his people starve (or simply couldn't keep them from starving) could expect an immediate recall election at best, a lynching at worst. This grain dole was chiefly distributed from the temples of Trion, Mena and Verenor: the latter was a god of the Allawauric pantheon, typically depicted as a modest beardless man in his twenties or thirties who carried a shepherd's crook and wore a plain green & white chiton, whose importance grew in Sagalassos to match the growing democratic power of the farmers and herders whom he was the divine patron of.

    Sagalassian fresco of free bread being handed out on the eve of a chariot race

    A major centerpiece of Sagalassian society, besides its elections and direct legislative democracy, was the annual chariot race held on the nineteenth day of the tenth month to celebrate the harvest season and Kadmon's overthrow of the Aidolic kings. By 10,500 AA, these chariot races had also helped lend an identity to the four major political parties of the city-state, who adopted names and colors after the four main chariot teams:
    • The Whites, the party of the wealthy landowners and literati, whose leaders were the descendants of the royalists that opted to remain in Sagalassos after the Revolution. Their favored deity seems to have been Trion.
    • The Reds, the party of the urban working class: potters, bakers, brickmakers and bricklayers, fishmongers and fishermen, weavers, ragpickers and so on. Their favored deity seems to have been Mena.
    • The Blues, the party of commercial interests: merchants great and small, ship captains, and those who worked for them. They appear to have sought the patronage of Epheros and Pella above the other deities.
    • The Greens, the party of the rural laborers: farmers, miners, beekeepers, cheesemakers, water-carriers and so on. Their primary patron appears to have been Verenor, fittingly enough.

    These parties naturally worked as factions and voting blocs, advocating their own interests by any means available to them. The Whites and Blues could provide those planning to run for election or to propose major pieces of legislation with the funds to bribe voters; and the Reds and Greens, of course, could supply the votes for a majority in a more direct manner. Victory and defeat in chariot races were respectively considered good & ill omens for the parties and their agendas, and the supporters of defeated teams were known to riot. That said, the spirit of what modern observers might call civic patriotism was strong in Sagalassos in these early days: animosity between parties did not appear to get any worse than the occasional death in a post-chariot-race riot and vehement insults directed at members of another party, and according to the Sagalassian academic Themascuros (floruit 10,480 AA) at least a majority of Sagalassians appeared to believe that their fellows ultimately had Sagalassos' best interests at heart despite their differences. Male citizens had their rights balanced with the responsibility to fight in Sagalassian armies and fleets during wartime, and thus would have to set aside any political grudges to work effectively alongside those they disagree with on the fields of battle & high seas - and the constant warfare of the Early Iron Age, coupled with the Sagalassians' own love of attacking other resources for grain or to 'export [their] liberties' by annexing said other communities, meant old political rivals had to team up a lot.

    Depiction of a chariot race on a recovered Sagalassian urn

    Until after 10,500 AA, the Blues were the weakest party, while the Greens were the strongest (but also the least organized). It was not until intra-Muataric trade routes were fully reopened that the Blues began to regain the strength of the High Allawauric merchant-princes, supplanting the Whites as the primary party of the elites, while the Reds too grew in wealth and size until they outnumbered the Greens and took their place as the representatives of the majority of the Sagalassian underclass.

    Besides the citizenry of Sagalassos, there were two other classes of people living within and around the city: foreign residents (All.: Métaboi) and slaves. The foreign residents, defined as those who migrated to Sagalassos in their lifetime and their children, carried the burdens of citizenship - chiefly paying taxes and serving in the military when needed - with few of its privileges; they couldn't vote, and there was no guarantee that the jury trying them would be composed of fellow migrants. Their grandchildren, however, would be Sagalassian citizens from birth. Slaves, as was the case elsewhere, were considered chattel with no rights, and their children too would be slaves, all entirely at the mercy of their owners.

    Despite their significant sociopolitical and cultural differences, Sagalassos and Istoria were still both Allawauric cities at heart, and thus had some common ground with one another and the other Allawauric city-states scattered around the Muataric Sea: for starters, their people spoke and wrote in the Classical Allawauric language, of course.

    Olive oil and olives, wine and pottery remained among their chief and best-known exports as had been the case when the High Allawauric civilization still flourished, exceeding more common goods like cereals, tools, fish and slaves in both fame and quality; Sagalassos was especially reputed for its exports of marble and ruddle (ochre for waterproofing), while Istoria's most prized exports included salt and electrum. The end of the 'Archaic' or 'Colonial' Period and the dawn of the 'Classical' saw a marked uptick in trade between the Allawaurë themselves and their neighbors, as a measure of calm settled over the Muataric coast and more & more of the old oceanic and land-based trade routes were reopened for business, in turn bringing greater profits to the Allawauric cities and strengthening their mercantile class to the point that they began to become more than just a shadow of their High Allawauric ancestors.

    And also in keeping with High Allawauric tradition, the Classical Allawaurë were still quite sexually liberated, to put it delicately: while the men replaced their simple loincloths with chitons to deal with cooling global temperatures, women still wore sleeved dresses that were opened from the navel upward with obvious results, and both homosexuality (including pederasty) and polygyny were considered completely acceptable practices. Throughout the Muataric Sea, Allawauric women in general had a reputation (fairly earned or not) for being 'loose' and every bit as sexually aggressive as their men. Among the Sagalassians, wedding multiple wives and taking them to bed each night was encouraged not just for fun but because it was considered a civic duty to pump out as many new Sagalassian citizens as possible, while in Istoria it was not uncommon for students & Enlightened or Auxiliaries to engage in illicit relations without the Scholarch's approval and for patron-teachers to groom their chosen children - even despite Cephelonic philosophy's aversion to emotion and love.

    Other significant Iron Age Allawauric statelets
    As the Allawauric world emerged from the dark age that was the murky transition from the Late Bronze to Early Iron Ages and their societies stabilized, they organized into a multitude of city-states of varying power and influence, and their surplus populations were frequently encouraged to retake chunks of the mainland back from the barbarians and found city-states of their own there. Most of these were governed by oligarchies of some kind, which evolved out of the original Allawauric village councils and were often still elected out of at least the wealthiest fractions of the general population. Other city-states of note that existed by the time the Early Iron Age ground towards its end, in the process generating a new bevy of physical records for the historians and archaeologists of the present to sift through, include:

    Aidolos: The once-sundered seat of the greatest kings of the Allawaurë had been definitively reclaimed by either Isiphanes or his descendants, following their exile from Sagalassos, by no later than 10,410 AA. However, it never quite regained its former power, and would eventually be eclipsed by the comparatively upstart city-states of Sagalassos and Istoria. Nonetheless, Aidolians were reputedly fiercely proud of their heritage, and frequently looked down upon those hailing from newer city-states. In keeping with High Allawauric custom, they were still run by kings from the ancient House of Armazon (with the counsel of a circle of aristocratic, landowning warriors, as opposed to merchant princes) as of 10,500 AA, making them an anomaly among the generally oligarchic or democratic city-states of the post-Bronze Age Allawaurë.

    Calatia: One of the first mainland city-states, and an oligarchy. While the Allawaurë in general had a reputation for decadence and licentiousness that persisted past the Bronze Age, the Calatians took it to ridiculous new heights: If foreign observers and the Calatians themselves are to be believed, the city's residents favored unwatered wine at all times, and it was distributed for free on days of religious significance or chariot races like bread & grain were in Sagalassos; there were absolutely no laws forbidding Calatian citizens from walking around in the buff, which both men and women regularly did in the summer; prostitution was rampant, and orgies in drinking dens or just the streets themselves so common that it wasn't considered notable; and the city's central temple to Ainila hosted as many as a thousand sacred prostitutes. Naturally, this city was famous for its courtesans and pleasure slaves. To 'live like a Calatian' meant more than just being a hedonist among the other Allawaurë, it meant to live with no morals whatsoever.

    Tiotia: A city on northern Peithia, reputedly founded by the twin brother-and-sister adventurers Tion and Tia who gave the place its name, and another oligarchy. It was reputed as the home of the first Allawauric theater, and produced the best thespians and playwrights among the Allawaurë. Less pleasantly, the Tiotians also presented the deadliest and most obstinate obstacle to Istoria's expansion across Peithia - perhaps fittingly, considering that the passion and make-believe nature inherent to drama was and remains antithetical to the cold logic, detachment from emotions and dour seriousness associated with the Istorians.

    Lelegia: The easternmost of the mainland Allawauric city-states, Lelegia was founded around 10,380 AA and seems to have grown into a major commercial center (what passed for one in the Early Iron Age, anyway) through trade contacts with the neighboring barbarians, Mun'umati and other Allawauric settlements. Its agora was reputedly the one place on the Muataric Sea's shoreline where a Saor iron trader, a Vel'elite wool merchant from 'Illam, a Shamshi salt merchant and a native Allawauric peddler could all meet. Naturally, it was a plutocratic oligarchy, run by some of the first proper Allawauric merchant-princes after the Bronze Age collapse.

    Oenous: Located off the western coast of Mykisia, Oenous was an Allawauric city-state that just so happened to also host one of the most sacred sites in Allawauric mythology: it was supposedly at Oenous that Trion formed the first humans from clay and gave them life with his blood. The temple to Trion at Oenous was thus naturally the grandest of its kind across the entire Allawauric world. The Oenousians were religious fanatics, mystics and sorcerers by reputation, even more hostile to the anti-magic Saurii than the Aidolians whose ancestors had led the rest of the Allawaurë against them in the Great War of ages past, and the city did certainly seem to have an unusually high proportion of citizens who wielded magical powers, most commonly that of prophecy. As one might guess, the oldest and most venerable of these oracles would form Oenous' ruling oligarchy.

    Alassos: Located off the southern coast of Mykisia, Alassos was a dynamic commercial power that sat on vast copper and tin mines, invaluable for the bronze which the Allawaurë still used on a large scale even if they'd made the transition to iron weapons and tools. The owners of these mines, the copper and tin and bronze merchants, and the island's six democratically elected Metoikoi jointly formed a ruling council - the only example of such a fusion government among the Classical Allawaurë. The Alassans were reputedly rivals of Sagalassos, though their relationship was not as hateful as that of Istoria and Tiotia.

    Digenon: The westernmost of the new Allawauric city-states on the mainland, Digenon served as the primary intermediary between the Allawaurë and Hyperborealic barbarian peoples such as the Saor and Falathai, facilitating trade and diplomatic contacts between the two peoples - when they weren't fighting each other of course, as the first generation of Digenians had to when carving out their colony in the first place. It reputedly had the strongest walls of any Classical Allawauric city and was ruled by an oligarchy of martial landowning aristocrats, as needed to fend off Hyperboreans and the Saurii, yet its people were best known for their horsemanship and the lethality of their iron weapons: things they must have picked up from extended contact with the Hyperboreans. This barbarian influence, combined with the tendency of Digenians to take wives and slaves of Hyperborean stock, led to them being disparaged as half-barbarians by the other 'proper' Allawaurë.

    Iron Age Allawauric warfare
    Despite their political fragmentation and widening cultural differences, all Allawaurë of the Dark/Archaic and Classical periods fought in basically the same way: as infantrymen, and particularly as hoplites (Classical Allawauric: Enkodai, 'spear-bearers'). The city-states demanded that all of their adult male citizens serve as soldiers when war was declared, from the lowest pauper to the wealthiest merchant and/or landowner, and they would accordingly arm themselves in whatever manner they could afford. For the better-off residents of these polities, that meant suiting up in heavy bronze armor and arming themselves with an iron-headed spear about 2-3 m in length that came with a sharp iron counterweight on its butt, a heavy hacking sword of iron and a large, deep-dished wooden shield with an iron rim and (in the cases of especially wealthy combatants) a thin sheet of bronze on its face, which would be painted with symbols of one's patron god and/or hometown regardless of whether it had been bronzed or not. The shield's grip was placed at its inner rim, and a leather fastening at its dead center was used to support the forearm; this 'Aidolic grip', so named because Aidolos was where this design originated around 10,420 AA, gave the wielder more mobility with such a heavy shield. Despite their important innovation however, Aidolos apparently did not produce the best hoplites; that distinction went to Istoria, whose Auxiliaries fought exclusively as heavy Enkodai and seemed to have no match for their strength and fearlessness among the other Allawaurë.

    Allawauric enkodai of the Archaic or Colonial period

    In terms of armor, the richest citizens could afford and would no doubt fight in a heavy bronze helmet with a dyed horsehair crest and a cuirass, with a 'muscled' design for the latter emerging around 10,450 AA, as well as greaves and gauntlets. A knee-length skirt of long leather or quilted-linen strips hung from one's belt was also worn, for additional 'below-the-belt' protection. Those of more middling stature originally wore only the helm (often a lighter, open-faced variety than the full helm with large cheekplates and nose-guard favored by the heaviest hoplites) and iron greaves; however, in 10,500 AA the first linothorax - a cuirass of many quilted or laminated layers of linen, sometimes with bits of bronze scale armor and additional thin strips of leather attached to the shoulders to form impromptu pauldrons - emerged in Sagalassos and would soon prove to be a cost-effective piece of armor, leading to its adoption on a mass scale by middle-class Enkodai across the Allawauric world alongside leather gauntlets. The richest and thus most heavily armored warriors in an Allawauric hoplite formation were traditionally assigned to either the honored right wing or the dead center, and flanked by successively less wealthy soldiers in the latter case.

    Hoplitic warfare centered on the Enkodai forming a phalanx: a rectangular formation usually between eight and twelve men deep at most, presenting a wall of locked shields and outward-pointing spears to the foe, with the second and third ranks thrusting their spears out over the shoulders of the men in front of them. When locked in close combat, each rank would push the one in front of them against the enemy with all their might, trying to crush their opposition with an inexorable press of shields and spears and quick to switch to their swords should their spears break. The phalanx was a sluggish formation, with its component soldiers moving at no faster than walking pace until perhaps the last few yards before making contact with the enemy, but its discipline and mass meant it was a practically unstoppable bulldozer once engaged - at least, from the front. It was obviously quite difficult to turn such a dense mass of soldiers around to fend off threats from the flanks or rear, making the phalanx highly vulnerable to an enemy capable of getting around the wall of gleaming shields bristling with spears to their front. In the event that one phalanx faced another, the objective was to engage in a push-of-spear contest until one side broke and fled.

    Classical Allawauric hoplites advancing; note the ultra-heavy enkodas on the far right, and how the men to his flank wear progressively lighter armor the further they are from him, highlighting their socioeconomic status

    The poorer citizens of the cities formed a Classical Allawauric army's supporting ranks: the Epemētai and Hylatistai. The former, typically drawn from the lower middle class of free peasants with their own farms and well-to-do artisans, were more mobile medium infantrymen whose armor was limited to a helmet and wielded a double-edged stabbing shortsword in conjunction with a cowhide or goatskin-covered figure-eight shield in the style of High Allawauric infantrymen; they typically stood behind or at the edges of an Enkodai phalanx, supporting the heavier elite citizen-soldiers in close combat and protecting their vulnerable flanks and rear. By 10,500 AA, some Epemētai began carrying two javelins into battle as well, typically strapped to their shields and flung at the foe before they rapidly charged in to fight with their swords. The latter, drawn from the poorest citizens of any given Allawauric polity, were completely unarmored skirmishers who supported their betters from a distance or engaged opposing missile troops with a variety of slings, javelins and bows.

    A Classical Allawauric epemētas about to throw a javelin, with a trio of hylatistai in the background

    The Allawaurë appear to have abandoned the chariot as a weapon of war by 10,500 AA, but notably (with the exception of Digenon) they didn't pick up the use of cavalry in any significant manner to replace it, either. Unarmored horsemen were still deployed as scouts, camp sentries and messengers, but do not appear to have directly participated in battles. Instead, Allawauric battles with both the various barbarians around them and each other were decided by contests of infantry.

    Being a mostly island-based civilization, it should be no surprise that the Allawaurë were excellent sailors with a strong naval focus to their militaries. Unlike their armies, which (with the exception of Istoria) were not standing forces but instead levied from citizens who were expected to fight bravely out of a patriotic fervor for their home cities and the knowledge that their loved ones were in for it if they lost, virtually all of the Allawauric city-states retained a standing navy crewed by a combination of paid volunteers and galley slaves, which was further supplemented by conscripted merchantmen (if not for combat, then for the maritime transport of supplies and troops) in times of crisis. Most Allawauric warships until about 10,500 AA were two-decked biremes, a natural evolution from the Bronze Age pentekonter of their ancestors, and were armed with both a ram for...well, ramming and a company of marines armed & armored in the style of the Epemētai for boarding actions, though they wielded an additional weapon in the form of a short spear (probably derived from the fishing harpoon). Around 10,500 AA, Allawauric shipbuilding grew sufficiently sophisticated and their supplies of wood sufficiently plentiful to start producing the triple-decked trireme - formerly strictly reserved to the role of an admiral's flagship - on a larger scale, enabling this larger and more powerful vessel to become an icon of Allawauric military might.

    Modern artist's drawing of a Classical Allawauric trireme, c. 10,500 AA

    Warfare among the Allawaurë does not appear to have been total in most cases, in no small part because the majority of their soldiers frequently needed to go back to work in the fields and workshops to feed their families. Campaigning was seasonal, being done chiefly in the summer and winter, and wars between Allawauric polities were typically settled with a single set-piece battle on an agreed meeting ground followed by diplomatic negotiations to iron out a final peace treaty; extended conflicts involving extensive raiding of an opposing polity's farmlands and other territories, and especially those lengthy wars which ended with the total destruction and/or occupation of one side by the other, seem to have been quite rare. Larger and more powerful city-states like Sagalassos and Istoria were frequently approached to mediate in disputes between lesser polities, or made the offer themselves. Only when the Allawaurë were engaging a foreign enemy, such as the barbarians on the mainland or their ancient Saurii rivals, would their statelets bunker down and direct their citizens to prepare for a more brutal, protracted conflict.

    Map of the Allawauric city-states, c. 10,500 AA

    Large orange dot - Sagalassos
    Salmon - Istoria
    Blue - Sagalassian territories & tributaries
    Teal - Istorian territories & tributaries
    Gold - Other major Allawauric city-state (exceptions are Oenous & Alassos, whose host islands are too small for them to be marked separately on the map)
    Dark red - Aidolian territories & tributaries
    Purple - Calatian territories & tributaries
    Pink - Tiotian territories & tributaries
    Green - Lelegian territories & tributaries
    Cyan - Oenous and its territories
    Red-orange - Alassos and its territories
    Dark green - Digenian territories & tributaries
    Dark blue - Minor Allawauric city-states and villages
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; October 29, 2017 at 01:19 PM.

  17. #57
    Pericles of Athens's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Map of Midija in 10,500

    Purple - Asiti and Her Colonies
    Blue - K'Uchi Kingdoms and K'Medi Migratory Lands
    Red - Medhandassi Kingdoms
    Gray - Free State of Sit'ota
    Brown - Union of Chik'a
    Green Dashes - Considerable Mudmen Presence

    Asiti: The Everlasting

    Let not a dozen feet pass along the eastern coast that is not marked by a savage’s (Hyperaustralian) severed head, let them know what comes of those that assault these hollowed shores. – High Priest Igeba the Indomitable, from the Epic of Salvation

    The years of the Great Cooling ravaged Midija like few other lands across the entire world. Suuvulk rode like a storm from the north, Hyperaustralians sailed on a wave of blood from the south, and Mudmen from appeared from the vanishing jungles. Sebi’Awi cities burned, Sebi’Awi armies lied broken, and their people were butchered. Truth be told the new comers to the subcontinent generally took on many attributes of Sebi’Awi culture, preferring to place themselves at the top of the social ladder and allow the system to keep working rather than reinvent the wheel. This did little to soften the hearts of the (self-proclaimed) “Last” Sebi’Awi of Asiti.

    Through a combination of luck, strategy, and fortuitous circumstances the islanders of Asiti were able to weather the storms of climate change while holding onto a number of their overseas colonies. True, their possessions and allies on the continent were overrun in gruesome fashion, but the Asiti themselves survived, hiding behind the wood wall of their fleet, surviving in the same way they had survived the rise of the Mul’Arn Empire. They watched from their shores gripped by impotence as the smoke rose from cities just a few hours sail away.

    For centuries they were a people under siege, watching helplessly as their vassals, allies, and enemies on the continent met grizzly fates at the hands of these new invaders. As the decades passed their records speaking of losing contact with the mainland, bit by bit. The seas turned sour and trade networks that had once made them rich dried up, the islanders hung onto a lifeline provided by trading with their colonial sister cities. In particular, Si’oli, the Firstborn Child of Asiti, provided the islanders with copious amounts of iron to replace the bronze (the tin for which came from the northern mountains of the mainland) that they could no longer access. This would prove a gift from the divine, as the centuries to come would be written in blood.

    Though most Hyperaustralian refugees (I cannot stress how loosely I use this term within this context) found their fill setting up shop on the mainland of Midija, more than a few found themselves veering toward the of Asiti (after all the island is but a few dozen miles out to sea) in the hopes of new conquests. Many a Hyperaustralian fleet, usually little more than an armada of leaking fishing vessels, met a watery grave when confronted by the mighty Asitin Navy. Though more than a few made landfall, during stormy weather when the Asitan ships refused to leave port, for fear of losing their only defense to the ocean’s wrath. These survivors were routinely dispatched by patrols from the warrior caste, for as effective as the Hyperaustralians had been against the mainland they remained weak when picked off in small groups by organized and tenacious resistance.

    One account from the Epic of Salvation, a lengthy tome describing how divine providence and fate saw to the survival of Asiti (rather than fortuitous geography and a fair bit of luck), recounts a particularly gruesome Hyperaustralian king half man and half beast (by the name of Ula) making landfall on the island. Ula was a gargantuan create, said to have been spawned by an unnatural coupling of a giantess and a man, he stood nine feet tall and wielded a two-handed hammer as if it were but a stick. King Ula and his limitless horde began burning the lands, raping women, stealing crops, and eating captives as soon as they stepped foot upon the holy grounds of the island (as savages are want to do, of course). It was in this time of need that Igeba, a High Priest of prodigious esteem, rallied the men of the warrior caste and rode to push the unwelcome visitors into the sea. In a titanic struggle the Hyperaustralian hoards were dispelled, and so terrible were their loses that the survivors threw themselves into the sea in an attempt to escape rather than face Igeba’s terrible wrath. Igeba slew the monstrous Ula personally, though not without great effort, and mounted his malformed head upon a pike, ordering all the men of the army to do so. And so, a great wall of rotting heads marked the western shores of Asiti until the flesh melted from the bones and the pikes rotted to dust. From that day forth Igeba became ‘the Indomitable’ and went on to rule as the Highest Priest for a hundred and fifty years, the Epic of Salvation credits him with creating the Cult of Salvation (a religious schism in the Sebi’Awi faith, that promoted the worship of Asiti’s spirte above all other gods, at times to the exclusion of the other gods) and bringing an end to Hyperaustralian attacks upon Asiti.

    Late Iron Age Depiction of Mythic Igeba Slaying the Monsterous Ula

    Heads of Ula's Hoard being brought Before Igeba

    Of course, most of the stories surrounding Igeba, and the entire Epic of Salvation for that matter, are false, to a greater or lesser degree. There was also no King named Ula, this seems to have been a bit of symbolic writing (as Ula is quite close to Ulat, the name of the Hyperaustralian god of war) in which a noble Asitan Priest vanquished the Hyperaustralian god of war made flesh. However, there does seem to be truth to the idea that a High Priest by that name repelled a particularly dire invasion by Hyperaustralian refugees, but there is nothing to suggest that he ruled for more than a century (or that he even ruled at all following his victory, we can’t say for certain if he even survived to see his ultimate victory), or that he alone broke the will of the Hyperaustralians, or even that he founded the Cult of Salvation. More likely is the idea that the Hyperaustralians ran out of steam, the thousands slain attempting to take the island were simply unacceptable loses, couple that with decreasing migrants from Hyperaustralia (as the wellspring of new new recruits ran dry) and conflicts with the Mudmen on the continent and you're left with more accurate picture of the political climate. As for the Cult of Salvation, it was formed (officially at least) nearly three centuries later, long after the Hyperboreans ceased to be such a dire existential threat.

    The Cult of Salvation

    The Cult of Salvation is the name given to a prominent Asitin cult that came to define the political and religious institutions of the island. Born in the midst of a monumental struggle the faith preached cultural protectionism and ethnic superiority, as outlined in Epic of Salvation. Unlike traditional Sebi'Awi religion (which both allowed for and even encouraged the cultivation of numerous cults dedicated to one deity or another) the Cult of Salvation preached that the flame of Asiti was (effectively) the only God that mattered. The faith started off as a Heretical version of the traditional Sebi'Awi religion, defined by its Clerical tradition and it's Bastion mentality. The mythic origins of the faith is outlined in great detail in the Epic of Salvation, while most of its practices come from the Revelation of the Flame (otherwise known as the Word of Asiti).

    As previously mentioned, the Epic of Salvation describes the daring deeds of High Priest Igeba, and other mythic heroes, in their efforts to save Asiti from Hyperaustralian hordes. After his victory over Ula Igeba returned to Asiti triumphantly, and goes to pay homage to K'Uta. But, as the hero bowed before the idol in reverence a natural disaster of epic proportions descends upon the city:

    Lighting bolts showered the city, as if the gods themselves descended upon it. The earth danced beneath their feet and many mighty buildings were left in ruins. In the chaos a bolt of lightning struck K'Uta his visage catching fire, his ivory skin blackening and cracking like firewood, as the gold finery about him melted as if snow exposed to light... This broken visage crackled with great ferocity and pious Igeba weeped at the sight. But the crackling of the clans turned to speech as the fire grew brighter than the sun itself, and its words were the law of men. "Do not fear.." the flame beckoned, "For the gods have abandoned you, yet I have not. For I am Asiti made flesh, and for as long as I burn your people will have a future." And so Igeba was made humble before the visage of the god.

    The Epic holds that day, before the Everlasting Flame, Igeba swore his life Asiti before all other gods. Becoming the first Keeper of the flame, soon his fellow High Priests followed his lead, swearing their lives to the flame or being turned into Ash by its judgement. With a unified people and divine patronage Igeba set out breaking Hyperaustralian power in south Midija over the course of his century long rule. Or so the holy times say.

    The Fiery Hand of Asiti, As Given to Igeba in Prophecy

    Historically these claims are dubious at best. By the time Igeba (seemingly around 10,100 AA) lived the Cult of Salvation (in an early for albeit) had already gained a great deal of popularity in Asiti (particularly among the lower castes), but it would be another three centuries before it became the official religion of the government, at which point the High Priests flocked to name themselves Keepers of the Flame. Before it's rise to power it was popular among the lower castes that wished to feel protected and special, the Cult of Salvation promised that their toils were for the survival of Sebi'Awi society and espoused that every caste had an equally important role to play in the survival of Asiti. The record does show that there was a great fire some time around 10,250 AA, that damaged many religious buildings (and entire housing districts), but this fire seems to have been man made rather than divine wrath. Likewise a great earthquake struck the island less than half a century later, leaving many temples outside the city in ruin, with their declining practitioners (and thereby funds) it seems that many of these temples to non-Asiti deities were left in ruin. Though it is likely that religious violence occurred in the early formation of the Cult of Salvation we have few records to support it before 10,300. Historians agree that by 10,400 the Cult of Salvation was the dominate faith by a significant margin, and by the turn of the next century other more traditional cults were largely irrelevant. Over the course of the next century the Neka caste’s traditionalist leadership was overthrow, and the caste split in two the bureaucrats rebranding themselves the Tenders of the Tomes and the warriors rebranded themselves the Servants of Salvation, likewise the High Priests reorganized the Biru caste as the Keepers of the Flame.

    Early Depiction of Igeba, Wings Readied to Ascend to Asiti's Side and the Everlasting Flame Atop his Head

    While the Epic of Salvation is a religious history, the Revelation of the Flame is more like a guideline to piety. It describes the holy days of the faith, how to properly punish crimes (most serious ones end in being burned alive), what conditions temples must be kept at, what encompasses heresy, and most importantly how to care for the everlasting flame kept in the former Temple of K'Uta. It also provides guidelines to how adherents must lives their lives, from the central pillars of the faith (such as no god may be held above Asiti and one mustn't eat human flesh) to the mundane (such as a prohibition on using purple dye). Some things are simply strange, such as an entire verse dedicated to the proper times one can eat shellfish, and others read more like guidelines to public health manual, for example how to properly deal with sewage or a prohibition on raising animals directly on top of one's water supply.

    A Keeper of the Flame reading the Word of Asiti

    Servants of Salvation

    The Servants of Salvation fought in much the same way as the Warrior Caste of Old Midija. Though formal divisions were made between infantry, archers, and beasts. By age 12 they would be assigned to the Gasha (shield), Kili (range), or Ihoni (elephant) branches.

    The majority of these men would be assigned to the Gasha, which served as mainstay infantry forces. Each man of the Gasha was armed with an oval shaped wicker shield, a spear, a machete, and a handful of javelins held inside the shield by a leather strap. The second largest were the Kili, armed with finely crafted longbows taller than a man, a machete sidearm, and finally a small rounded wicker shield strapped to the arm just beneath the elbow. Men of the Gasha and the Kili wore a limited amount of armor, a simple iron helm, vests made from woven coconut fibers, and loose fitting cotton pants for breath-ability. Finally, the Ihoni were the smallest of all three branches, comprising elephants (and other beasts of war) alongside their caretakers and the men that fight atop them. The caretakers were armed with little more than a hammer and nail, used to put down their beast if the need should arise, while the others riding atop the beasts would wield a variety of bows and javelins. These men wore almost no armor, to avoid weighing down the beasts.

    Early Depiction of Gasha Infantrymen

    The weaponry of the rank and file were crafted from iron, while officers were marked out by their use of bronze. Officers were also marked by a red cloak trimmed in yellow (made from bird feathers these cloaks were incredibly time consuming to produce) and a crest atop their helmets topped with horsehair dyed a specific color to denote their rank (red being the lowest and blue the highest). Though limited in armor the Servants of Salvation were as professional a force as one could hope to have in post cooling Midija, trained from birth for battle they had zealous loyalty to the Everlasting Flame and iron discipline.

    The Red Cloak and Iron Crest of an Officer

    While the Servants of Salvation were the finest soldiers in Asiti, they were not the most numerous. That distinction went to the Itenya (lowborn). The Itenya were draw up from families in lower castes during times of war. Each family not of the warrior, priestly, or merchant caste was required to offer up one male of fighting age (between 14 and 65) to serve, or pay a large fee (something few lowborn families could afford) as a war tax. Many families (caught up in religious fervor) would offer up more than one body in times of war. The Itenya had little discipline, coming to battle armed with whatever they could get together, spears, hunting bows, clubs, and machetes. They wore little to no armor, generally just trousers or lion clothes, though wealthier families might give their recruit an iron helm.

    The real strength of the Asiti was not on land however, it was at sea. For many centuries the Asiti had been the leading seafarers on the subcontient, establishing colonies across the east and trading goods between the Fong in the east and the Itami far to the west. This led to the creation of a designated merchant caste, members of this caste provided experienced sailors to man the standing navy and marines to man these vessels. The majority of these Asitin vessels were primitive combined sail and rowing vessels, though their primary means of locomotion were their sails, generally they only used rowing power to ram enemy vessels. These ships were armed with large mounted bows capable of hurling bolts at enemy ships, they also had grappling hooks to bring enemy's vessels close for boarding, and finally a bronze ram at the helm for.. well, ramming. Marines on these vessels wore no armor, and wielded machetes and bows, the latter for long range harassment and the former for boarding.
    Asitin Ships moving to Harbor in a Storm

    The K'Uta: Northern Midija and the Suufulk Invasion

    Corrupt and inept, we didn't destroy the Sebi'Awi, we saved them from themselves. - King Suulk of the Rejimi

    Little can really be said of northern Midija during the collapse of the Bronze Age, as the Suufulk fell upon most of them before they could record their own reckoning, whatever was recorded seems to have been destroyed in mass (either during the collapse itself or later) over the course of the centuries long dark age to follow. We do have a brief clip of Selami's final days before it's destruction, written by an unknown scribe of the day:

    The High Priest did not sleep last night, he said the crying of the children kept his mind aflutter, yet I do knot know of what crying the Magi speaks of. We send word to our tributaries to bring homage before us, yet none have answered, no riders return, we are alone and lost.
    So thoroughly was the city destroyed that its ruins were only recently rediscovered. The age old rivals of Yal and Hayili fell within a decade of Selami's destruction, the record suggests Huleti fell next after them. K'eyi, the city that founded a hundred colonies, fell to some unknown calamity before the Suuvulk arrived. What this disaster was remains unknown, the oral tradition of the Suufulk suggests that the hoards found only abandoned cities and squalored villages when they arrived. These cities generally fell with ease, as they had been drained of money, men, and resources by the rise and fall of the Mul'Arn empire in the prior centuries.

    On the northern plains only the Union of Chik'a successfully resisted the Suuvulk invasion, however at the cost of all lands across the Rejimi. The Battle of the Headwaters, in which a Suuvulk hoard attempted to cross the Rejimi to invade proper Chik'a territory, ended with the utter rout of the ill lead and disorganized Suufulk tribesmen (expecting an easy victory after the destruction of Chik'a's weak neighboring territories). Chik'a records suggest that the Union mustered nearly ten thousand men of the warrior (Mudmen) caste and three hundred and fifty war elephants. Though they lacked a significant cavalry detachment they made up for it with organization and war beasts, the elephants from this battle were hailed as heroes in Chik'a and lived like kings for the remainder of their lives.

    Depiction of the Victory Parade in Chik'a that followed the Battle of the Headwaters

    Within forty years the entirety of Northern Midija, aside from the Union of Chik'a, had fallen to the Suufulk hosts. This would begin a process of assimilation that would last for the next three centuries. From roughly 10,000 onward the Suufulk that remained in Midija split into two distinct groups, the migratory Suufulk that kept to their ancestral traditions and a new sedentary breed of Suufulk that adopted many of the traditions of the natives of the sub-continent. Those that held to tradition became known as the K'Medi (prancing men in the Sebi'Awi tongue), and those that adopted Sebi'Awi customs became known as the K'Uta (sitting men in the Sebi'Awi tongue).

    The K'Uta, much like their contemporary Hyperaustralians in the south of the continent and the Mudmen before them in Chik'a, parted with their ancestral roots in favor of adopting native traditions. They began using a modified version of the Sebi'Awi language, and adopted Sebi'Awi script for written works. Their invasion had destroyed most of the Noble Cities of Old Midija, so they began settling in smaller less notable cities, towns, and villages - giving opportunity for new seats of power to fill the void in authority. The rapidly receding jungles allowed the Suufulk to settle new cities away from the riverbound flood plains, and allowed the agricultural workers to spread out more to cultivate more lands. Like the south of Midija, under the Medhandassi, the north faced a fair degree of deurbanization - partly owing to the destruction wrought by the Suufulk, and partly owing to the vast new plains that had replaced the cramped jungles of yore. In addition to settling down the K'Uta adopted the caste system as their own, including the Biru (Priests), Neka (Buercrats and Warriors), Zik (Craftsmen and Artisans), Nisi (Peasants, including Traders), and Tochi (Slaves and Lessers). The caste of priests (known as the Biru) was relegated to a powerless group of bookkeepers and combined with the buerocratic elements of the Neka, and the Neka (now a purely martial caste, after the removal of the bureaucrats) became the dominate leaders of the new society born from the calamity. The rest of the castes functioned in the same fashion as before the invasion, albeit the society as a whole was more divided and poorer after the great collapse. Familes of the Nisi were expected to offer at least one male for military service during times of war, opening up the possibility of advancement into the Neka Caste, this was seen less as an obligation among Nisi familes and more as an opertunity to shed their lot in life. Overtime the K'Uta adopted the Sebi'Awi pantheon, mixing minor elements from their native religion (the religion of the Earth Mother) into the faith. Perhaps the greatest political change was the complete elimination of the priestly councils that once governed the entirety of the subcontinent, the Suufulk brought with them Kings that ruled through military might, rather than civil obligation.

    Early K'Uta Crown

    The K'Medi held onto many traditions of the Suufulk, resisting the push toward settling. Most of the K'Medi either became K'Uta over time, or were forced west toward the Ometic peoples, or east from whence they'd come, others survived into the late Iron Age and even beyond. The latter K'Medi would become popular fodder for tall tales of exiled kings and noble relics of a bygone age (though in reality they functioned more petty bandits, charlatans, and mercenaries).

    Horse Lords of War

    The K'Uta could rule the world, if they could only figure out ruling each other. - Scribe in Service to King Krull the "Uniter"

    In the aftermath of the Suufulk invasion the armies of K'Uta Kingdoms were divided into two groups, the Adisi and the Aroge. This development came about from Sebi'Awi influence of Suuvulk tactics, and the other way around. The K'Uta found that certain Sebi'Awi formations could help fill in the holes present in Suuvulk formations, and the surviving Sebi'Awi found the same in reverse.

    The Adisi was made up entirely of mounted soldiers, trained from birth in various forms of horse riding and the use of the bow. The Adisi are divided into two groups, based upon their armor and their status in society, Birihan (Light) and Mekakan (Medium). The Birihan made use of recurved bows at ranged and sickle swords in close combat, they fought with light hide armor (or no armor at all) and were most similar to traditional Suuvulk herdsmen. These men filled the role of skirmishers and scouts in a K'Uta army. The Mekaken were more heavily armored than their Birihan companions, wearing overlapping hide straps finished with iron or bronze studs, these men wielded recurved bows, light spear (for lancing) and a sickle sword for direct combat. These men could serve as skirmishers, but generally harassed the flanks of enemy formations, charging into their exposed parts before retreating and charging again.

    Crocodile Hide Armor from a Mekakan Horsemen, 10,450AA

    Where the Adisi pulled ideas from traditional Suufulk tactics, the Aroge pulled ideas from traditional Sebi'Awi tactics. In turn the Aroge was divided into three groups the Esi (bow), Ori (spear), and the Awire (beast). The Esi wore nearly no armor, just simple cotton trousers tied at the waist (or loincloths) with a raw hide helmet to protect the head, these men wielded long bows taller than themselves alongside machetes and small rounded shields of wicker. They made up the majority of the Adisi, in combat they moved as units firing volleys on enemy formations from a great distances and defending the weak flanks of the Ori in melee. The Ori was the most similar formation to the traditional warrior caste of Old Midija (pre climate change that is), armed with large circular wicker shields, short stabbing spears, and a machete, these men wore iron helmets, vests of woven plant fibers, and cotten trousers for comfort. They fought in a relatively tight interlocked formation, every man's exposed flank covered by his fellow's shield, from the front they presented a wall of shields bristling with spear tips. When met with another line of Ori the battle played out like a shoving match, each side pushing the other until one was forced to quit the field. If the formation was broken they would fight with machetes in a looser pattern, usually this would mark the beginning of a tactical retreat. The Ori made up the center of any K'Uta battle line, though they were rigid and had limited mobility. Finally the Awire, though their name means "beast" they were more akin to "beast masters". These men trained and cared for the various beasts of war employed by the K'Uta Kingdoms, in Iron Age Midija this mainly meant elephants. Lumbering beasts used as a shock force to break up enemy formations, men would sit astride their backs with heavy throwing spears to rain missile fire from above. Thunder beasts were brought south alongside the Golga and Suuvulk, so naturally these armored reptilians were used for war. Not very mobile, but capable of pulling down gates or ramming them open if properly encouraged. As it was before the conquest the most important role of the Awire was to kill their own beasts should they run amuck.

    Finally, there were the Nisi draftees that appeared in times of prolonged conflict, or when the kingdom needed extra heads. These men brought their own weapons, generally unarmored with a machete or hunting spear from their family farm. These men usually died in battle, used as fodder, but if they should survive and prove themselves worthy they would shed their Nisi caste and become Neka. This system not only gave hope of social mobility, but insured that the Neka were not missing out on any marital prodigies hidden among the peasantry. Wealthy trading familes were technically a part of the Nisi caste, and therefore subject to service, but rather than fight they generally paid a large fine to their King (if they could not afford this tribute they would fight like any other peasant, though traders could generally afford better equipment than other Nisi, increasing their odds of survival considerably).

    Modern Sketch of Awire War Elephants Rampaging through Enemy Ori Formation

    Modern Representation of Esi Bowmen

    Eventually this highly structured and diverse system was adopted by the peoples of Chik'a as well, as they were influenced by their new neighbors.

    Last edited by Pericles of Athens; November 11, 2017 at 03:04 AM.

  18. #58
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    With the Allawaurë done, I'm moving onward to try & tackle two new projects at once. I'll post a bit of the Enezi living SE of 'Illam first, then a bit of the Early Iron Age Yahg tomorrow, and alternately work between them in the days to come.

    Quicksand: The Enezi
    The Enezi, or 'Forlorn', were the major Mun'umati tribal confederation that settled in the marshes southeast of the River Hasbana, fed by said river's smaller southern tributaries; in 'Awali times, some effort had been made to drain this part of Zaba-Tutul's northern frontier and turn it into farmland, but the collapse of that empire resulted in the breakdown of what few sluices & irrigation channels had been made and the total reversion of the region into wetland. The Forlorn who lived there are one of the lesser-known Mun'umati tribes, in no small part because they played a much less significant role in regional (to say nothing of global) politics and left behind far fewer written records than the 'Illami, Shamshi or even the Taibani: where the neighboring 'Illamites and Shamshi used a mix of papyrus scrolls, vellum and wax tablets for record-keeping, the Enezi seem to have relied entirely on papyrus and oral traditions, and the former is known to rapidly deteriorate if not sealed carefully. The latter factor was further compounded by the Enezi's lack of stone-working abilities - none of the reed huts that they reportedly lived in (as opposed to mud-brick or stone buildings) have survived the passage of time. Still, they left enough physical evidence and made enough of an impression on their neighbors to have their memory preserved throughout the ages.

    However, the fact that so much of what modern audiences know (or think they know) about the Enezi comes from decidedly biased & unreliable outside sources rather than the Enezi themselves - in particular, from the 'Illamites, who had long been the sworn enemies of the Enezi - poses a serious problem to Enezic historiography. The process of reconstructing a more accurate picture of what the Enezi were like, how their society functioned, how their warriors fought and what their religion has been difficult, as it required extensive recovery of and research into physical artifacts and the occasional ruined murals coupled, with a careful reading of 'Illami & Shamshi sources to determine what is (probably) truth and what was just propaganda.

    Enezi language
    The Enezi language was perhaps the closest to the old Proto-Mun'umati tongue out of all of its descendants, showing very little influence from either the 'Awali or the nearby Shamshi and 'Illami languages and a comparatively conservative (if also simpler) orthography. There is little doubt that this was largely due to geography - the dense marshland that the Enezi chose for their post-migration home could not have been an easy place for foreign influence to penetrate - but it is another reflection of the conservatism of broader Enezi culture, which was fiercely traditional and opposed to change to even greater extremes than the 'Illamites and their 'Righteous Path' in more than a few areas.

    Modern speech Proto-Mun'umati Enezi
    Man, men Mat, umati Mu'at, emu'ateh
    Woman, women Nisa, ranisa Nesa, enesa
    Life Ma'ish Ma'esh
    Death Maw'tah Mawt
    Defense Yanah Yeneh

    Enezi society
    As hinted at under the language section, the society and lifestyle of the Forlorn were both highly conservative. The Enezi may have come far from their ancestral deserts, but they did their best to keep their traditions alive in the marsh they had been calling their homeland since the collapse of the 'Awali Empire regardless. The result was that Enezi society remained fragmented into many tribes, each of which was further divided into clans bound by patrilineal ties, that largely lived quiet and isolated lives in the swamps southeast of the River Hasbana; this was a land of dense forests, swampy rivers lined with thick reeds, knee to waist-deep marshes and mangrove thickets, making life (especially in the summer months, when mosquitoes were a major concern) and warfare alike difficult enough to keep the Enezi from tearing at one another's throats too often.

    Enezi men at work in the marsh, c. 10,180 AA

    Each clan was headed by a single elder or Musnin, elected for life from the ranks of the clan's venerable seniors - any man who'd seen fifty summers and came from a respected family in the clan could make a play for the elder's seat - by all free and mature kinsmen of the clan. Though elected, each elder wielded absolute power within his clan; he decided if they should stay where they lived or move elsewhere, when they made war or peace, how resources were to be distributed, and who could marry who. A larger tribe was headed by a council of the Musnin'i who led its constituent clans, and so each Enezi tribe can be loosely classified as a combination of a representative democracy and a more traditional oligarchy.

    Each Enezi household, a three-generation family led by the oldest man in the house (whose seniority made him its patriarch, naturally), would have lived in houses made of the largest, thickest reeds they could find: bundled into columns, bound and bent into arches, these reeds were then combined one after another and covered with mats woven from smaller reeds to create a longhouse, which floated on artificial islands made of compacted mud and bulrushes. From these mudhifs, the Enezi did what they could to survive: men hunted lizards, frogs, ducks and fish, tended to herds of water buffalo, kept their homes and kin safe from the mimic raptors that stalked the swamps, and farmed wild rice where they could. And while women were considered little more than property in the patriarchal Enezic (and, more generally, Mun'umatic) society, they too helped out by gathering cranberries, lotuses, watercress and cattails, as well as cooking & weaving (both clothes, usually from linen, and building materials, baskets or sandals from reeds). The Enezi built no great cities, and indeed there is no reason to believe that they congregated into any settlement larger than villages of up to a dozen of these mudhifs throughout their history. Each household traditionally brought a fifth of their food to the clan elder twice every year; he would then redistribute the gathered tribute to the clan's families, with those whose members had done particular services for the clan (such as performing especially heroic feats on the battlefield) receiving a larger share.

    Recreation of an Enezi mudhif, c. 10,200 AA

    Though the Forlorn generally liked to keep to themselves, some Enezi did engage in trade, especially from tribes living near the borders of the wetlands. They had very little to offer in the way of crops and goods that couldn't easily be found elsewhere (even slaves taken from rival tribes or neighboring peoples), save one thing: papyrus, which grew aplenty in their new homeland and which they would accordingly trade in vast quantities for food, jewelry and higher-grade iron than what they were used to working with. The Shamshi to the south, among whom there was very high demand for papyrus as a writing material, were their main trading partner, for the 'Illami to the north frequently warred with the Enezi tribes and produced their own papyrus, making them bitter commercial rivals to the Forlorn even on the rare occasion that their peoples weren't openly at war. Enezi merchants rarely resided in foreign countries any longer than it took to complete their business transactions (and those who did were often ostracized back home for having willfully exposed themselves to foreign influence longer than strictly necessary), impairing the Enezi's ability to forge long-lasting trade relationships - chiefly to the benefit of the 'Illamite Vel'elim, who had no such restrictions on their own commercial activity.

    In times of great stress, or major wars with the 'Illami (or more rarely, the Shamshi), the Enezi tribes were known to pull together and elect one of their own who'd proven both great strength and courage to lead them as their Mehrid, or supreme war-leader. This warlord, distinguished from other Enezic tribal leaders by the silver-green pelt of an older mimic-raptor that he draped over his head and shoulders, was tasked with leading the combined armies of the Forlorn against their foe until said foe had been utterly defeated or a peace agreement had been reached. Besides the (in)famous Daydan bul-Wazzah who betrayed the 'Awali to their doom at the start of Man's tenth millennium, five other Enezic Mehrids were recorded in the 'Illamite Qabal and thus remain known to history: Asirteh bul-Yaqur, Urhalb bul-Ibir, Idrim bul-Yurim, Nuqalim bul-Nuqalim, and Ishul bul-Uded.

    None of these five seem to have had the greatest of track records though, for all but the last of these were eventually defeated and slain by the 'Illamite Stewards. Only Ishul seems to have managed to fight the foe to the north (in his case, Steward Galad bet-Lior) to something resembling a standstill and secured a negotiated peace with the 'Illamites, and even he suffered his share of catastrophic defeats. Evidently, the key to Enezic victories over the 'Illami was to remain on the defensive and engage the armies of the Righteous Many on their marshy home ground; every one of those first four Mehrids were vanquished when they attempted to counterattack into 'Illamite territory, and Ishul too barely survived his own disastrous outing into 'Illam, even having to withdraw from the northern frontiers as a result and only regaining an edge over Bet-Lior when he battled the latter deeper into Enezic territory. (well, that or acquire Shamshi support, as the unnamed Enezi Mehrid who succeeded Ishul and slew Bet-Lior in 10,498 AA did)

    Modern depiction of Ishul bul-Uded, the most successful of the Enezi Mershids, floruit c. 10,480-488 AA)

    In general, though the Enezi remained in a constant state of low-level (at best) warfare with the 'Illami for almost as long as the two peoples have lived next to one another, they had the worst of it. Besides losing almost every one of the wars that they fought with 'Illam - something which the 'Illamites attribute to the favor of their own Lord Above, and which secular modern historians believe to be the natural consequence of 'Illam's superior organization and standing armies (in the form of the Sacred Band and the entire Rechabite Sept) - frontier tribes were frequently raided for the only thing of real value they had to the 'Illami (besides papyrus): slaves. The tribes living deeper in the Forlorn hinterland could, at least, count on the denser foliage and their own remoteness from 'Illamite borders for greater protection from the raiders and slave-peddlers of the 'Illami. This is not to say the Enezi were totally helpless incompetents, though; as mentioned above, they fared better in proper battles and large skirmishes on their home turf, and Enezi marauders in reed boats paid back 'Illamite atrocities with their own slaving raids and by torching farms along 'Illam's southern borders as frequently as they were able.

    Enezi religion
    The faith of the Enezi, which they themselves called Tunbit buth-Taydud or 'Path of Renewal', can be best defined as a Mainstream religion with a Traditional soul and a Bastion-of-the-Faith mentality. It is monotheistic, like the other Mun'umati religions, and reveres Ul-Heya, the Forlorn god of life, death and rebirth. In the sparse stone Enezi reliefs that have survived the test of time, Ul-Heya is depicted as a gaunt humanoid figure in a cloak, neither male nor female but possessing the skull of a ram for a head and a pair of black-feathered wings like a raven's, and carrying a lantern in one hand & a spear in the other. It was never referred to with male or female pronouns, but appears to have been venerated as a genderless, indeed virtually featureless entity: a walking, or rather gliding, personification of birth and death. In Enezic reckoning, souls were not destroyed or sent to an extradimensional afterlife after death, but rather reincarnated into newborn infants; Ul-Heya was the one who kept this cycle of death and rebirth going, beckoning recently-passed souls into new vessels with its lantern and freeing those who'd lived long enough from their present bodies with its spear. It is from It that they derive their name, the 'Forlorn', for Ul-Heya doesn't exactly inspire hope in those who follow It.

    A winged ram's skull, one of several symbols (along with the lantern and two crossed spears) attributed to Ul-Heya

    Worship of Ul-Heya seems to have been done in a simple manner, and Its worshipers had a decidedly fatalistic take on life. There was no point in praying to Ul-Heya for a long life, for It dispensed and claimed lives on Its own schedule with no regard for mortal input, nor was there any point in praying to It for prosperity and happiness, for It had nothing to do with such concepts and was utterly emotionless. Instead, the Enezi prayed to Ul-Heya to let them die in meaningful ways, which would shower them with glory and actually aid their communities, and to let them be reborn to nobler lives. The duality of life and death, with each leading into the other per the cycle of reincarnation, and the eternal renewal that Ul-Heya symbolized were also revered concepts.

    Worship of Ul-Heya was apparently conducted at sacred groves and meadows by tribal shamans, who wore shaggy coats of raw hemp & flax as they led somber services and offered up prayers and sacrifices of crops to sacred trees into which wheels - a fitting symbol of Ul-Heya's, considering the reverence attributed to Its role as the caretaker of man's cycle of reincarnation. However, both the Shamshi and 'Illami reported that some Enezi tribes built crude temples (unfortunately built entirely of perishable wood and wicker, hence why none remain as of the modern day) where ram-headed figures of clay with horns made of twisted branches & brambles were venerated as idols representing Ul-Heya, and curiously placed close to the doors and windows - which are, after all, 'portals' to another place, mirroring how one's death and the beginning of new life are just considered portals to new experiences so long as one is guided by Ul-Heya. On certain days of religious import (but most prominently the winter solstice), choice animals were also sacrificed at these trees, with the understanding that their souls would be reborn as human souls in human bodies.

    A dead yet miraculously preserved sacred tree of the Enezi

    The Enezi were oft-mocked by their neighbors, more-so the 'Illamites than the Shamshi (indeed the Enezi are disparagingly called sher'at eravi, 'tree-worshipers', no less than twenty-six times throughout their Qabal), for their worship of an apparently uncaring god; what point was there, they contended, in revering a being that not only did nothing for Its followers but didn't even care for them in the slightest. The Shamshi contended that their Sun gave life to their crops, lit their way during the day, and forced the Moon to continue its work at night; and the 'Illami proclaimed that their Lord Above - while not omnipotent - was at least trying to fight the forces of evil and to guide men to live righteously, which was more than could be said of Ul-Heya. But the Enezi faithful paid no mind to such boasting and preaching, for they knew that their god was eternal, above the foibles of this world, and had no equal. The Sun rose and fell each day, and the white throne of the Lord Above was ever endangered by the claws and legions of the Lord Below, but they could count on Ul-Heya always being there for them and remaining utterly un-distracted from Its duties. What will be, will be; the Forlorn found a strange sort of comfort in the inevitability of their own death and (as far as they were concerned) reincarnation at Ul-Heya's hands, and like the Venskár half the world away, came to consider their mortality & destiny to be things to be left entirely in Its hands, instead focusing their energies on the here-and-now.

    Enezi warfare
    Enezi warfare, like most other things known about them, is known to modern audiences only through the lens of the peoples who fought against them: chiefly the 'Illami, and to a lesser extent the Shamshi, neither of whom were charitably disposed towards the martial abilities of the Forlorn. Both of the Books of Stewards are filled with 'Illami gloating on the topic of their many victories over the Enezi, matched only by their preaching of how the Lord Above was so much mightier than the probably-false-and-otherwise-demonic 'swamp god' of the tree-worshipers, while the Shamshi too boasted of having scourged the Enezi back into line with spears and the Sun's searing rays whenever the 'marsh-men' forgot their place and thought to ransack settlements on their kingdom's northern frontiers. Still, it should be noted that despite their many defeats, the Enezi were never totally destroyed by their neighbors, or even substantially conquered for any appreciable length of time.

    This was, no doubt, partially due to geography: neither the Shamshi nor the 'Illami would have had much interest in trying to rule over a swamp when they both had fertile riverlands of their own to call home. The Enezi too, knew their marshy home well, and were protected not just by the mangrove thickets that concealed their warriors and the knee-deep water & mud that slowed their enemies down, but also by the swarms of mosquitoes and the germs within those stagnant waters that piled pestilence after pestilence upon any enemy foolish enough to wade too deep into the swamp. But that is not to say the Enezi had no defense save the elements, for they were quite capable of defending themselves with spear and ax and bow - at least on their own hometurf. (suffice to say, there are very good reasons as to why the Enezi stopped trying to counterattack beyond their borders beyond mounting raids, most of which have to do with their repeated failures on that front)

    Enezi raiders in Shamshi territory, c. 10,180 AA

    Enezi warriors were described by their foes as being generally un- or very lightly armored, for heavy armor was a hindrance in the fetid swamps that they were most comfortable in. Owing to the dearth of preserved Enezi armor, modern historians have largely come to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of Enezi fighters would have worn no armor at all, instead entering battle only in layers of woolen clothing (the rough, untreated wool they used had enough animal fat left in it to be almost waterproof, allowing them to safely wade through swampwater) and chiefly wielding either bows or short, stout, iron-headed spears coupled with longer but slimmer javelins and wicker shields covered in animal hide. For close combat, they also carried the axes and machetes that they normally used to clear mangrove thickets or other underbrush in their daily lives. Their primary tactic seems to have been to have their archers distract and pin down the enemy with arrow fire, while the spearmen got as close as they could before loosing a single wave of javelins and then charging in with their spears; not exactly the most complicated of strategies, but perfectly functional given their environment. Almost needless to say, on any battlefield that wasn't a swamp, their unarmored spearmen would be effortlessly shredded by either an 'Illamite or Shamshi army, and their archers - being nothing particularly special - would have followed suit.

    A pair of Enezi warriors, of the sort that 'Illamites would have faced c. 10,325 AA

    The Enezi do not seem to have had much in the way of cavalry or chariotry, though this was completely natural, considering that neither would have been very useful in a marshy environment. Enezi chieftains and Mershids instead fought on foot with their men, garbed in multiple layers of woolen clothing like them but wearing headdresses made of mimic-raptor hide to distinguish themselves. These men also wore lamellar cuirasses made of rawhide, iron veils and helmets (typically just small bowls of iron worn beneath their raptor-head hoods), marking them as the most heavily armored fighters in an overall very sparsely armored army. In their first few engagements, both the 'Illami and Shamshi mistook Enezi warchiefs leading their soldiers on night-raids for actual mimic raptors, and the Qabal duly noted:
    Quote Originally Posted by 1 Stewards, 9:19
    ...but to his great relief, Shachar found that these were not, in truth, the walking lizards that could spout the words of men. They served the Lord Below, as those monsters did, but they were merely men garbed in the hide and feathers of the Speaking Lizards...
    Near 10,500 AA, the Enezi do appear to have finally learned to field small quantities of horsemen. Described as the 'leading men of the tribes' in the Qabal and by Shamshi scribes, these warriors wore lamellar rawhide vests and helmets, fought with medium-length spears and axes or machetes, and rode small but agile and hardy steeds capable of navigating a swamp better than the larger, stronger warhorses of the Shamshi and 'Illami. Within the Enezi swamps, they proved to be highly effective raiders and ambushers, being able to both move more quickly than the Forlorn footsoldiers and survive fierce close-combat actions thanks to their armor. Still, they do not appear to have been anything special outside of their home ground and were reportedly trounced over and over by the horsemen & spearmen of their neighbors pretty much every time they stepped out of the marshes.
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; November 10, 2017 at 10:27 PM.

  19. #59
    Barry Goldwater's Avatar Mr. Conservative
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    As said, while I'm writing up the Enezi I'll also concurrently be doing the Early Iron Age Yahg.

    Storm on the Steppes: The Early Iron Age Yahg
    The Great Cooling spelled disaster for the Yahg, even if it what they faced wasn't quite as bad as what the Hyperboreans and Hyperaustralians had to deal with. Camping under the night sky was no longer an option for a quarter to half the year, as winters grew longer and much more severe the further north one went. Yahg herds thinned with the grass, and many nomadic clans faced starvation or hypothermia as they fruitlessly wandered from one devastated grazing ground to another in these dark times. Modern archaeologists have even found evidence of cannibalism in Yahg graves dating to the period around 9,900-10,000 AA, showing both the desperate measures that the Yahg resorted to in order to survive (while holding a more cavalier attitude towards eating fellow men than many more 'civilized' cultures would be comfortable with, the Yahg don't seem to have taken to the practice nearly as well as the Hyperaustralians) and that the Cooling affected their corner of the world ahead of many other peoples, as can be expected from their northerly location.

    Naturally, the Cooling thus resulted in the migration of many Yahg tribes and clans southward...directly into the lands of the more peaceful Suuvulk. Starved, desperate, and newly armed with chiefly iron weapons - the copper and tin deposits of the north having been abandoned as the Yahg drifted south - they fell upon their neighbors, whom they'd previously at worst only raided and at best actually developed somewhat cordial relationships with, like wolves upon sheep. The darkened Yahg gave and expected no quarter as they advanced, wiping out any Suufulk tribe that lived in the vicinity of decent pasture & failed to get out of their way quickly enough or which happened to have enough food to make them a worthwhile target for looting. Even Golga were neither spared nor avoided, should they try to save their friends or otherwise get in a Yahg tribe's way; many a tale was spun and sung of Yahg men throwing themselves by the dozens or hundreds at a single Golga, trying to shoot the titan down with arrows from their saddles or hopping up on as much itükhade juices as they could ingest without killing themselves and charging the giant with blades in their hands. Essiq Khulliq-kili ('Essiq, son of Khulliq'), an early Yahg warlord who led his Yallıg tribe on the first mass migration onto traditional Suuvulk lands around 10,000 AA and was said to have been the first Xan-Xibyt-ana-Tänma (or avatar of the Yahg war god), slew three giants who were friends to three Suuvulk tribes in one day with three iron arrows according to Yahg myth.

    Essiq Khulliq-kili directs his Yallıg Horde on the way out of a Suufulk encampment they just rampaged through, c. 10,100 AA

    Speaking of saddles: some of the first proper framed saddles in Muataria date back to this period, and were of Yahg make. It is considered quite likely by many modern historians that the Yahg invented the saddle (alternative candidates including the Suuvulk and Mun'umati), and certainly it proved instrumental in revolutionizing their military doctrine by both enhancing the effectiveness of the traditional Yahg horse-archer and making it possible for them to start fighting as mounted lancers. But that is a topic that will be discussed in greater detail further below...

    After several decades or centuries, the Yahg appear to have ceased expanding westward and southward - the complete lack of Yahg written records, or indeed any evidence of a Yahg writing system at all, in this period makes it difficult to discern when exactly their advance ground to a halt - but regardless of when it happened, the reasons why it happened are fairly well-understood. Many Yahg tribes had found fields that was good enough to sustain their herds in perpetuity, at least with careful management, and the Suuvulk that they'd been pushing around had also sufficiently militarized to more effectively fight back against their invasions & general marauding; those Yahg tribes that failed to migrate for whatever reason also had less competition for the limited resources of their now-taiga homeland. An unstable equilibrium appears to have settled over the eastern steppes of Muataria in this time, as Yahg tribes continued to migrate - sometimes intentionally or unintentionally crossing onto the grazing grounds of Suuvulk tribes - and extensively raid and war with both the Suuvulk and one another. With that said, the range of Yahg artifacts from the 10,000-10,500 AA period was definitely conclusively limited by 10,200 AA at the latest, indicating that any later wars of expansion they waged towards the waning years of the Early Iron Age were unsuccessful or failed to secure any territories in the long term.

    Extent of Yahg presence, c. 10,500 AA

    Changes to Yahg society
    Easily the biggest and most obvious alteration to Yahg society post-Great Cooling was a limited process of centralization, by which individual tribes began to gather into larger and more dangerous confederacies - so-called 'hordes', or Uyğüz (singl. uyğü) - headed by a Yantâsh: the nomadic warlord who, by a combination of charisma and brute strength, managed to pull and hold together these tribal hordes in the first place. Yantâshi were not elected, nor did they inherit their position (though their sons were accorded greater respect than most as Yantirs, tribal princes, so long as they lived): oh no, they had to fight for it, for every time a Yantâsh died his horde would splinter as the various tribal warlords under his command battled one another for the right of succession, ensuring that only the fiercest, most cunning and most brutal of the Yahg could emerge as leaders in society. Yantâshi were also wholly unrestrained despots who wielded as much authority as they could get away with: they could hoard as much food and mare's milk for themselves, take any woman in the horde, order the Horde to pack their things and migrate elsewhere at will, declare themselves & their followers above what passed for laws in their wild tribes and kill just about anyone they liked for any reason or no reason at all - if their people wanted to put a stop to their excesses, well, the Yahg way demanded that they revolt and violently overthrow him, or at least assassinate him if they didn't have the stones/muscle to take him on head-to-head. If the rebels succeeded, then all was well, for their strength had proved greater than that of their oppressor; and if the tyrannical Yantâsh prevailed, that too was fine, for the brutally Darwinistic morality of the Yahg recognized the right of the strong to do as they pleased to those weaker than they until someone stronger comes along to put a stop to it.

    Eliq Öqer-kili, a Yantâsh of the Elman uyğü or 'Horde', engaged in a recreational hunt, c. 10,155 AA

    All this said, smarter and longer-lived Yantâshi restrained their baser urges, not because any law or shaman told them to, but just to retain the loyalty of their followers. These more reasonable rulers still governed with the consent of nothing and nobody but their lance-arm and warriors, but they did accept the support and counsel of a circle of tribal shamans and elders, tried to judge cases fairly (though the Yahg had no concept of the rule of law and legal precedents, so there was no problem if a Yantâsh should make completely contradictory rulings in two or more similar cases unless those affected wished to challenge him to single combat) and keep their warriors from engaging in uncontrolled pillaging, at least of their own people.

    Among some Yahg tribes and hordes, the Yantâshi also tried to ensure a more orderly succession, so that their people didn't just fragment and start murdering each other before their bodies turned cold; these measures ranged from designating a Yantir as successor and calling on anyone who challenged his right to succession to present themselves before the reigning Yantâsh, who would then engage them in a duel to the death and thus try to preemptively clear out his favored heir's competitors (as practiced by the Yeri and Yubu), to having one's counselors elect one of the Yantirs as his designated heir and then killing anyone who disagreed (as practiced by the Yallıg and Ulwars), to sending all who were interested in being named heir on dangerous quests assigned by the tribe's oldest and most venerable shaman, with the first to successfully return being designated the Yantâsh's heir (as was done by the Elmans).

    Within these new hordes, life didn't change too much from the pre-Cooling days - the Yahg still chiefly lived as nomadic pastoralists, riding from one pasture to another to pitch their yurts, feed their herds of horses, goats and cattle, and supplement their diet by engaging in hunting and gathering - but they were noticeably even more militarized than they had been before the Cooling. When there was raiding to be done (and there was always raiding to be done), the Yantâsh called on volunteers to assemble into mounted war parties (which had the privilege of selecting their own leaders, by having anyone who volunteered to lead the warband fight one another to first blood) and strike out against his designated targets for as long and as viciously as they could, with those who returned getting to keep a fraction of the spoils for themselves and certainly showering themselves in prestige. In times of full-blown war, every man in the tribe over the age of twelve was required to ride out to destroy the enemy under the Yantâsh's command; anyone who couldn't ride a horse and fire a bow while moving by that age was considered hopeless, and practically a woman. Men who proved their worth in battle and/or raids, or had the good luck to be related to or to have befriended the Yantâsh, would be offered a place in his Kurzum - a retinue of elite warriors, who were fed and housed and equipped at his expense & granted first choice of the spoils of war.

    A humble Yahg family's yurt on the tundra in the late spring or summer, c. 10,000 AA

    Recreation of the elaborate yurt of a Yahg nobleman or Yantir, c. 10,450 AA

    Iron Age Yahg warfare
    As mentioned under the 'society' tab, Yahg society was both better organized and better militarized after the Great Cooling. Every able-bodied man (defined as males over the age of twelve) was required to fight for the tribe/horde in wartime, leaving behind the women, elderly and infirm to tend the herds and keep the hearths burning at home. Yahg armies were loosely organized into tribe-based warbands, with each constituent clan's warriors being led by their patriarch (or his eldest and closest male relative by blood, in case the patriarch was too old or sickly to fight) and those clan patriarchs in turn were led by the tribal chief, who then answered to the Yantâsh. The larger tribal and multi-tribal warbands generally had three divisions of warriors: the 'screamers', the lancers, and finally the horse-archers who made up the bulk of the Yahg fighting ranks.

    Yahg warriors on the offensive - from left to right: a horse archer, two Kurzum lancers, and a screamer ('Shahg')

    The Yahg screamers (Shahgui, singl. Shahg) were, essentially, mounted berserkers: a mix of slaves and foolhardy volunteers between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six, these men consumed enormous amounts of itükhade juices on the eve of battle while shamans prayed and sang and danced around them, calling on all the gods (even Karash) to strip away their reason and compassion and even base humanity, and to instead turn them into ravenous monsters in human skin who knew nothing but victory, death and how to achieve both. The screamers would then be trotted out in front of the rest of the Yahg army, bound in ropes and tied to their saddles; there, slaves deemed especially worthless and expendable would cut their bindings (save the ones keeping them stuck in their saddles), present them with their lances and swords or axes, and then try to get as far away from them as possible. With any luck, the screamers will then thunder towards the foe without murdering the hapless slave assigned to free and arm them, faces warped and mouths open as they shrieked insensible battle-cries like the complete maniacs they've become. After breaking their long but brittle lances in the initial charge, each man would wield a weapon in each hand, one given by the slave and the other stored in a scabbard hanging from their saddle, to be drawn when they got close enough to speed up to a full gallop; from there the screaming largely stopped, as these berserkers needed to bite down on their reins to steer while their hands were occupied with hacking and slashing into enemy bodies.

    Delirious, extremely violent and unable to feel much (if any) fear and pain, these men were lightly armored - if at all - and expected to all die fighting, or at least take heavy casualties, as they stormed on towards the enemy's lines, where they'd hopefully terrify - and terribly bloody - the foe before dying; any Shaghui who actually survived their battle and wasn't driven so mad that they had to be put down by their fellow tribesmen afterward was guaranteed a place in their chief's Kurzum. Slave Shaghui who survived were also granted their freedom and adopted into the tribe that once owned them, for the respect they won as berserkers was considered to outweigh the weakness that landed them in slavery in the first place.

    A shirtless Yahg screamer about to charge ahead of his peers, c. 10,120 AA

    The bulk of the average Yahg army were not these insane screamers, of course, but rather horse-archers. Most Yahg fought unarmored, or at most wearing an iron helmet reinforced with boar's tusks or goat's horns and/or an iron disc over their hearts, as highly mobile mounted skirmishers. Riding small but hardy steppe horses, they could ride circles around their foes and fire the infamous Yahg recurve bows from their saddles while keeping their steeds' reins in their teeth, or keep their distance and blanket the enemy with arrows while the screamers and lancers did most of the up-close-and-dirty-work. Yahg archers have been known to even fire into melees involving their comrades among the screamers and lancers under particularly ruthless and uncaring Yantâshi, trusting in the lancers' armor and the screamers' drug-induced fear/painlessness to let them survive the friendly fire while remaining in fighting shape. Should these men find themselves in melee by chance or simply their chief's orders, they had axes and lassos to fall back on; the latter could be used to entangle an enemy warrior, pull him from his saddle and strangle or drag him to his death, or else to take an opponent alive so that he can be held for ransom or sold into slavery after the battle's conclusion.

    As the Yahg practiced horsemanship and archery (both critical to remaining mobile and hunting on the cold northern steppe) since they could walk, or even before that, virtually all Yahg men could serve as proficient horse-archers with little need for extra 'official' training when called on to serve their tribe. Being speedy and skilled marksmen, these men were also the primary killers of any Golga that tried to protect a targeted Suufulk tribe; not the savage and insanely fearless screamers, nor the elite lancers in their heavy armor, but the mass of lightly or un-armored horse archers loosing scores of arrows per minute (against Golga, primarily targeting the eyes, heart, armpits and groin) proved to be the most effective force the Yahg had to field against the giants of the eastern steppes.

    An unarmored Yahg horse archer opening fire while on the move, c. 10,300 AA

    Neither the horse-archers (at least not entirely) nor screamers were considered the best the Yahg armies had to offer, however. That honor went to their lancers, drawn from the ranks of the tribal nobles, their sons and their retainers, as well as the Yantâsh's kurzum: the advent of the saddle made it possible for mounted men to effectively fight in close quarters, rather than just sticking to scouting and skirmishing, and the Yahg took full advantage of this fact. Suited up in helmets and lamellar armor made of part rawhide and part iron plates or scales, these elite warriors thundered onto the battlefield atop the tallest, strongest and most fearless horses in their tribe's herds, wielding a massive two-handed, iron-headed lance that ranged between 3-4 m in length. Their role was brutally simple: form up into either a dense block (four to six ranks deep) or a wide but 'shallow' square (two to three ranks deep), charge into the enemy with their lances, and then start carving up any survivors with their axes.

    Being both more heavily armored and disciplined than the rest of the wild Yahg forces, these lancers presented an iron fist capable of decisively winning battles with a single charge. In the wars between their tribes, a Yahg lancer onslaught - inevitably following the first rush of the screamers and a couple of volleys from the lesser horse-archers - could easily scatter and crush anything but another mass of Yahg lancers, and against foreign peoples only rival heavy cavalry, especially tireless horse-archers who could also afford to take on the Yahg's own mounted archers at the same time, and/or disciplined masses of armored infantry would have had a prayer against a charge of these formidable steppe warriors.

    A lancer of the Yeri Horde, c. 10,500 AA

    The chieftain or Yantâsh's kurzum presented a special cut of lancers, clad in iron scales and equipped with a bow and arrows of their own addition to the lance & ax. Accompanied by retainers chosen from the ranks of the general horse archers, the kurzum lancer first moved towards the enemy at a trot while firing arrows, and only tossed the bow to his retainer in return for the lance when they got close enough to start galloping: at which point, naturally, they sped up to a gallop to close in on the enemy with lance in hand.

    A kurzum warrior, c. 10,500 AA, with three lesser retainers

    Now all this said, most of the time, Yahg warfare revolved around raiding, pillaging and ambushing; not grand set-piece battles, in which the lancers would shine, and which really only happened when an entire Horde was migrating into some already-occupied territory. No, most of the time, the Yahg hordes sent forth small but speedy parties of screamers and horse-archers to ravage an opposing tribe's camps and pastures, looting their stores, torching their tents, stealing from their herds and carrying off their sons and daughters as slaves. Anything that couldn't be taken was put to the torch; anyone who presented a liability to the Yahg raiders - the elderly, the infirm, and the overly willful - were cut down rather than being dragged off in chains and ropes. These raiding parties naturally preferred to flee from any pursuers rather than fend them off, but when flight was not an option, they would attempt to find favorable ground for an ambush, attempt to surprise said pursuers, and then try to break through past them rather than stick around to achieve a proper victory; loot and slaves could even be left behind. Almost needless to say, it seemed the Yahg only considered bravery a virtue when a horde was mounting a proper invasion with the intent of seeking out and engaging enemy armies: or as they themselves would say it, 'a brave raider who'll stick around to fight is a stupid raider, and will probably be a dead raider soon'.

    Yahg raiders making off with their plunder, c. 10,300 AA
    Last edited by Barry Goldwater; November 10, 2017 at 08:05 PM.

  20. #60
    Pericles of Athens's Avatar Vicarius Provinciae
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    Default Re: A New World - The (Third) Worldbuilding IH

    Iron Age Suufulk
    The great climate shift that mark the end of Bronze Age civilization on a global scale, and no people were more effected than the Suufulk. It began subtly at first, where once there had been two seasons (one wet and one dry) there came a third, a ‘cool’ season. This season became longer and colder as the years drew on, the once lush tropical fields of the expanse grew increasingly arid and many herds pushed southward. Soon the more aggressive tribes began taking up arms and followed the beasts southward toward greener pasture, but many others stayed, certain that the Earth Mother would not abandon her flock. Many came to believe this was merely a test of their faith, and so lift continued as it had before. The Suufulk adapted, building warmer mobile structures with thicker walls of animals pelts. But, their trial of faith was not over, as soon the Yagh were set against them.

    Savage creatures, wielding tools of iron and riding horses much like those the Suufulk rode. But, these men were different, they fought like beasts foaming at the mouth and their battles didn’t end after the foe was defeated. Instead they raided villages, killing and enslaving the women and children within, while murdering the sick and elderly. Each tribe fought the invaders on their own, but they were used to fighting small territorial disputes over pastures, not full scale battle. The Suufulk response was divided and ill prepared, and the Yagh swept over them like a tide. Giants fought alongside the Suufulk from time to time, and some evidence suggests it is due to their sacrifices that the Yagh advance slowed. Many, Golga and Suufulk alike, fled south to join other tribes or seek to fight another day, but the enemy was relentless. The great number of Golga that died in the conflict was an unparreled blow to their entire people, ever after the giants grew increasingly insular.

    Within a century the Yagh conquest was stopped, we can’t be certain if they chose to stop (or like the Hyperaustralians simply ran out of prospective migrants) or if the Suufulk halted their advance, as neither people had any form of written language at the time. What we can say is the Yagh conquest pushed many Neuri (translating to tribes) into larger and better organized Meuri (roughly meaning a hoard). Evidence abounds that the multitude of Neuri scattered across the plains were forced together, by circumstance, into a number of tribal confederacies, these Meuri were far more threaten than any single Neuri (no matter how powerful) could ever be. The Meuri had greater manpower and were far more capable of engaging the Uguz of the Yagh. As preveiously mentioned, what exactly ended the Yagh migration is up for debate, but there is evidence that a large battle took place just south of the Un’Ril river (what would later become the boundary between Yagh and Suuvulk territorial possessions), thousands of broken arrows and spears were found alongside Yagh and Suufulk dead. Though we do not know who won this “Secret Battle” (as many have taken to calling it), many still hold it up as evidence that the Suufulk ended the migration through military force. Whoever was the winner of the Secret Battle they were incapable of capitalizing on their victory, as the line of demarcation between their people remained at the Un’Ril for millennia to come.

    In this period we see the quantity and spread of Suufulk weaponry increase nearly twenty fold, alongside this we find evidence of the first (known) framed saddles in the world. Historians have, do, and will continue to fight over who first invented this framed saddle. Some say the Yagh did and used it in their genocidal campaign against the Suufulk, other say the Suufulk invented it and used it to stem the tide of the Yagh invasion. Whatever the case, both people had adopted wide spread use of this invention by the end of the “war”. Suufulk oral tradition names the conflict(s) the Wuew’Puli (translating directly to, “hundred years of sorrow”). In their tradition the Suufulk survived these dark times through the sacrifices of many heroic Suufulk and giants in the north, buying time for Maymam’Yul (translating literally to “the mother chosen”, but better put as “chosen by the mother”) to unite all the Suufulk and drive off the invader’s countless hordes. Though the hero dies (at the treacherous hand of his younger brother, who’d secretly been corrupted by Yagh promises) before he could lead his great Meur north to reclaim the ancestral lands of his people.

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