[3.0] Other Kingdoms
Sarmartia is a large and green country to the east of Arbrecht. Although it is very far north in latitude, a warm ocean current passes the south shore and up the east until it is lost in the cold North Sea. This current provides relatively mild weather; although it's not a tropical paradise it's also not common for people to freeze to death ten feet from the safety of their cottages.
Sarmartia is blessed with enough. They have farmland and lumber and mines; plenty of rivers and lakes. Nothing extraordinary enough to be noted internationally, but enough to go around. That said, there are two things they are known for worldwide -- amber and horses.
The great Northern Sea throws treasure onto the stones. Any person with a keen eye could walk the shore and discover glowing gems of gold and cherry and green; rarer than pearls and far more mysterious. Sometimes the jewels will have things trapped inside like a leaf or an insect. More commonly there will be patches of silicon and bubbles of air, but it doesn't matter. The amber is always beautiful and Sarmartia has an almost-exclusive handle on the trade. It is found nowhere else in such quality and abundance, and necklaces wrought of Sarmartian amber are objects meant for royalty.
The green southern plain is perfect land for horses. The land is gentle, the soil rich, and the men of Sarmartia have been natural horsemen since the first strays wandered in thousands of years ago. They breed selectively and keep studs managed by the Crown, dedicating on the best mounts to create offspring. The results show. Although there are plenty of pretty destriers and sturdy plow horses, Sarmartia is famed for a well-proportioned, well-mannered war horse that is strong, brave, tireless, and fast. These horses are the pride of Sarmartia's army and comprise one half of the cavalry. The other half is made of men in winged armor, the hussars who strike like lightning with the wind shrieking through the feathers on their backs.
Sarmartia is in theory a monarchy. However, the monarchy is so tightly controlled by the High Council that it can be very difficult for anything to get done, and although Sarmartian citizens have stout hearts and great talent the weakness of their government is beginning to be a threat.
Lehasi is a beautiful nation bordering Ahestere on the east. Much of the country is comprised of lush jungle and marshlands; on the east and north this jungle spills dramatically onto a sandy coastline. To the southwest a rugged mountain range cuts off the forest and makes the country transition to a desert that spreads into Ahestere, but a few small settlements exist in this corner of the world simply for its mining properties. There is a small trade overland trade route into Ahestere but the fastest way has always been by sea, so the road sees little traffic.
What Lehasi lacks in metal is more than made up for by its other resources. The jungle provides exotic lumber and fruit, flowers, brightly-colored feathers, herbs, and honey, while the coastlines are rich with sea life and a major source of salt that is dehydrated and then traded elsewhere. The ocean around Lehasi provides large, beautiful pearls as well as striking golden coral. Ivory is another large export, and there is beginning to be an interest in the land's native wildlife.
The land is abundant with rivers, and all the major cities are built on or near one. Most famed is Lehasi's capital, just inland from the eastern coast -- this city is built on a plain looking out over the sea, but rather than transport lumber from the jungle some miles away the original founders decided to construct their buildings from coral. What stands now is a gleaming white metropolis; the coral plastered over and decorated with bright murals and mosaics. It is a center of beauty and a gathering place for artisans, so what Lehasi has to offer in terms of sculptors and jewelers is mostly found right here at the beginning of the sea route to the wider world.
The people of Lehasi worship a water goddess, and perhaps this is part of the reason why the society is matriarchal. Men are not maligned and can be leaders provided they are the eldest child in their family, but ancestry is recorded from the mothers and the nation has a long history of queens. All rulers of Lehasi take more than one spouse; the first spouse is always their direct sibling when that can be managed or their half-sibling when it cannot. The next heir is always the first child of this union, a practice that is eyed askance by outsiders but ensures that the blood of the First Mother (the sea) remains in the royal family.
The two kingdoms of Hadoti and Melwar were united some sixty years ago, although it was not an easy transition. Still, over the last decade or so things have begun to smooth out as separate traditions started to blend.
Due to the acquisition of Hadoti by the ancient stronghold of Melwar, the new nation consists of some extremely diverse terrain. There are piercing mountains, red deserts, jungles and coasts and plains, and this diversity is part of the reason the two nations weren't quick to get along. It led to rather diverse lifestyles as well, but now that Hadoti-Melwar is settling into peace it's proved a blessing in terms of international trade. The region of Hadoti in particular is rich with gold and gems, and the artisans therein are world-renowned for their skill and delicate creatures. Melwar provides abalone, pearl, and rich red coral from the coasts; from the jungles come spices and concentrated oil for perfume. Stone is also an export, with a particularly fine marble making up the majority of the nation's palaces and now being craved around the seas.
Both Hadoti and Melwar follow the faith of Jyotis, a god embodied by the sun. Jyotism's emphasis on personal control and restraint has led to a unique society. Warriors are respected as necessary for the sake of defense, but they are not particularly honored. This has placed an emphasis on science and the arts that results in a highly advanced and cultured society, particularly in the realm of healing. Another interesting note: most of the population is vegetarian, or nearly so -- even those who do not refuse meat will never eat the flesh of a mammal. Chicken and fish are the only varieties of meat consumed with any regularity, although it is only considered proper to do so sparingly.
Unlike Lehasi, the Raja is always male. There is some similarity to the southern nation in that the ruler may take multiple wives, but this privilege extends only to the Raja and his two eldest sons. It's considered that the royal family are descendants of Jyotis, and that the person of the Raja is the last form a righteous soul is born into before finally returning to the god's paradise. Consequently the belief is that the senior male royals are the only ones with the morality and wisdom to handle multiple wives; they're also the only ones believed to have a necessity for it (more children means greater security for the throne). Because the royals also lead in terms of religion, they are more frequently in the public eye than leaders of other nations and often more subject to scrutiny. Although a devout Raja will believe that a moral failure at this point will doom him spiritually and will generally try to live a good life, it is possible for the nation to denounce a wicked ruler and pass the throne to one of his brothers. Jyotism is beginning to gain popularity outside Hadoti-Melwar, albeit in slightly different forms, but the faith remains one of the defining qualities of the nation.
Kusang is a mysterious land, one that has closed its doors to outsiders for generations and shows no signs of opening them any time soon. What little is known about Kusang comes from an account that is over two hundred years old -- an account that speaks of dense pine forests and mountains, of symbolic dances and dedicated warriors as well as a palpable distrust for outsiders. The account is very brief because the traveler who wrote it was not in Kusang for long; once discovered he was forced to flee back into Linchao.
That is all that is known. There are rumors of a ruler who guards his people with an iron fist, whispers of a magic king plagued by spirits of a past civilization, but only the citizens of Kusang know the facts and they are never permitted to leave. Messages to the central court from other nations are never returned (nor were the messengers, which is why it is now common practice to only send missives by bird). There is no trade. Whoever leads Kusang, it's plain he wishes to rule with the secrecy of his ancestors.
*By Renna, with special thanks to Luke for Kusang and Mike with Sarmartia. Have fun with these, just please don't use them for profit or claim ownership.
Last edited by Jenn; 09-16-2012 at 11:38 PM.
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