Has Platinum, needs Gems.
South & west is hot and dry, north & east is lush and flat. Mostly humans, some elves that immigrated long ago. Individualist culture. Architecture is the national art. There are 6 elected regional Governors who elect the ruler. We have elven-Abhidic mojo that allows us to mine platinum.
People have been settled the in land of Sfaïr since time immemorial. At first, there was a kingdom that is said to have erected the southern mountains as a barrier against the then-savage southern nations. The ancient civilization supposedly had abundant access to magic, which they used to make Sfaïr a safe haven for all forms of life.
Ermunahíldiz the queen ordered one more artificial mountain to be built: one that would be so high as to reach the planets, so that they, too, may be collected and added to the realm’s collection of treasures.
When it had seemed that the Sfaïri were half done with the task, the mountain shook and fell, obliterating the kingdom. The Rúgari (see Geography) is said to be the place on which the bulk of the mountain fell, undoing the ancient magic that made Sfaïr a realm more blessed than any other.
From that time on, the Sfaïri people never had a monarch for fear of such ill-advised decrees. They formed powerful local governments. It is recorded that thrice did the restless Tëhlër̨khët cross the borders of Sfaïr from the West, and thrice were they repelled by the Sfaïri, who had been united under the banner of Nithard the Stalwart.
Under the Sun Banner of Avakon
While Dejan the Conqueror was nigh-invincible, he still paid attention to every terrain feature; indeed, that is one of the things that made him such a fearsome opponent. And so when he conquered Sfaïr (easily, as none of the local Sfaïri rulers were willing to commit troops to defend the other), he knew his armies would have more and more supply problems as they progressed north, given that the mountains separating the north from the rest of Emjata were almost impossible to cross with carts laden with supplies.
He therefore made Sfaïr a supply point for his northern armies, and improved the infrastructure, notably ordering the construction of Haumikilaz Pass, a wide road that crosses the mountain range at one of its lowest points and leads to Súthberg, connecting to roads leading to Andavenpolis, a city which was founded during the early Imperial era.
As the required laborers and administrators moved to Sfaïr, and large investments were made, the country flourished. Dejan died soon, but that didn’t affect the country’s growth much. Rich Avakonians have discovered the Sfaïri platinum, the rarest of metals, and had opulent residences with platinum-coated roofs. Súthberg became one of the richest and most populous cities in the world. Some called it the “Avakonia of the North”.
After the Empire
The declining Avakonian Empire did not have the resources to maintain far-flung territories, so Sfaïr broke away peacefully and became one of the most powerful and civilized post-Empire states in the north.
Due to the trade routes falling apart, it had been slowly declining and losing contact with the outside world to the point that many foreigners marked the land as “terra incognita” on their maps. In 121 IR, the old-fashioned government, whose workings had not changed since Avakonian times, finally succumbed to economic and cultural pressures and fell apart entirely without specifying who should govern next.
Nearly every military officer, noble and mayor declared themselves the ruler of some territory. A free-for-all power struggle engulfed the whole country. One by one, weaker leaders were defeated or formed coalitions. Eventually, six great countries emerged, having absorbed all others. Each had many graveyards’ worth of dead. From the few merchants that still traded with the outside world, they heard news that the Avakonian Empire was on the verge of being destroyed by other, new great kingdoms that had formed since Sfaïr lost contact with the south. The leaders signed an uneasy truce and military alliance in 132 IR, to protect themselves, should the foreign kingdoms invade.
As time went by, the states in the alliance grew closer. They undid the horrors of the civil war together and invented a new system of government. Finally, a single leader of the whole of Sfaïr has been elected in 157 IR.
The southern and western parts of the country, called Rúgari “the Red-dry”, are dry, as they suffer from rain shadow cast by the mountains surrounding them, the Haumikilaz. The Rúgari consist of rocks and steppes. The central mountain range divides the Rúgari into the regions of West Rúgari (obviously the part west of the mountains) and Temple of Besso.
The lowlands of eastern Sfaïr border the magnificent river Mollis, which joins Norbar further north. The East is humid and vegetation-rich. Beware however of the many swamps and marshes. Contrad, the capital of the region, is a great city on the river, whose economy is primarily based on trade.
The northern region is wetter, warmer, and its winters are rather mild. It is said that a fraction of ancient Sfaïri magic still protects this part of the country. Beaches of white sand line the great northern bay - Ascerb Bay. The typical northern biome is a flat grassland. Northerners make a living as fishermen and farmers. The coastal city of Andavenpolis is where Avakonian culture is preserved the most, as much of its population descends from Avakonian families, which immigrated during the Imperial era. Sfaïr was distant enough from the capital for the prices to be much lower, but developed enough to provide adequate services.
Overall, the region is rather easy to defend, being protected by natural barriers (mountains, the ocean and the river) from all sides. This is part of the reason why Sfaïr has an individualist culture: until Dejan the Magnificent came, no foreign ruler wanted to cross the high mountains to conquer a region so distant from the center of Emjata, so having to closely cooperate with others to protect oneself wasn’t a necessity.
The de facto capital Súthburg was founded long before Dejan. However, most of its growth took place during the Imperial era. The city is located slightly north of the center of the country, and in ancient times it sprawled across six hills. The lack of trade and failing infrastructure caused the population to decline, and now the city occupies only three. Of these, the northern two are considered to be Súthburg proper and on the other side of a desolate field, gray with abandoned buildings, lies the Foreigners’ Quarter. It was built when foreign diplomats and merchants first started to arrive in Sfaïr, to provide safe accommodation and luxurious amenities for the foreigners (and also in order to easily keep a close eye on them). It is separated from the rest of the city by a high wall and entry is only possible through the guarded gates. This made it a safe haven during the civil war, especially for the old noble families, some of which moved there.
Transmikilaz is the Avakonian-Sfaïri name for the region of Inyaka north of the great mountain chain that stretches east to west. Contact has been lost with much of it after the Imperial era, and given the absence of signs and well-maintained roads, attempts to explore the region would have been largely unsuccessful.
Sometimes, Transmikilaz is used as a name for Sfaïr only, as in the post-Imperial era, Sfaïr was, or regarded itself as, the most important place in the region. Secondly, the Sfaïri have lost contact with the peoples outside their region, so by using Transmikilaz, a Sfaïran may be referring to the part of it that he/she knows – Sfaïr.
Spoiler: People and Culture
About 90% human (Transmikilazi/native, Avakonian, tribespeople)
The people of Sfaïr are of average to somewhat short stature, but they more than make up for this with their broad shoulders and muscular build. The most common eye color is gray; more often than not a Sfaïran’s hair is curly. A somewhat unusual characteristic is that most Sfaïri are left-handed.
The traditional dress consists of a bright-colored cloak, long contrasting trousers or skirt, a shirt with an irregular stripe pattern, sandals and knee-high socks. The clothing is usually flaxen or woolen.
In some rural areas of Sfaïr, it is not taboo for a woman to bare her chest in public. However, this is not much of a common occurence, as for most of the year it is simply too cold not to be clothed fully.
Each Sfaïri local governor must contribute soldiers to the national army. If there aren’t enough volunteers, conscripts are drafted. While both men and women can volunteer, only men are normally drafted. However, if there aren’t enough capable men to face the threat, women can be conscripted too.
Due to strong discipline, clandestine occurences between male and female soldiers are rare. “Double drafting”, as the practice is called, has disadvantages too, for example, in the civil war there were villages whose entire adult populations died, leaving no one to raise the children.
Other than the preferential drafting of men, Sfaïri society doesn’t discriminate between the sexes very much. One of the core tenets of the Bessian school of Abhidic philosophy is that specializing is inherently detrimental, and that one should try all lifestyles. Applied to gender roles, this means that women should also try being the earners and protectors and men should look after the children half of the time, if possible.
The Sfaïri belief in individualism makes many of them approve of vigilante justice. There is a well-developed dueling culture, and dueling is fully legal and not murder if both participants consent.
The law is enforced and security is provided by the military. Members of city councils act as judges. Theft of private property is a more serious crime than in other cultures, on the other hand treason doesn’t earn you an immediate death warrant, as it does in much of the world. However, it still is a serious crime. One might think that a state that is lax towards challenges to authority might not be very stable, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Some philosophers have hypothesized that this is because the rebels don’t feel so threatened by the government and so are amenable to non-violent resolutions.
Punishments include, in general order of severity: fines, community service, beating, branding and execution. Imprisonment is almost unheard of as a punishment, though confinement of important adversaries, hostages etc. is common.
As for the socioeconomic classes, most Sfaïri families live in houses that belong to them and can afford small luxuries once in a while.
Those who have a better job than most, such as city council members, or those who possess large tracts of land, can live a worry-free life. They can afford to have many days off work to philosophize or indulge in a hobby. While they would like to claim to have a strong, healthy relationship with the lower class, the reality is that the members of the two classes don’t meet or talk very often, each following a different path in life.
There are very few really wealthy people, even less than in other countries. They are usually merchants. They frequently sponsor building projects and public services. Some do this to increase their reputation and to gain favor with the government (which mainly consists of the middle-class citizens), others out of a desire to see the extravagant projects come into existence, and yet others because of simple altruism.
Below all of these are the poor who struggle to survive every day. There are not many of them, but they discredit the Sfaïri belief in everyone’s personal freedoms to choose by existing and not having many of these freedoms. Some dislike or ignore them because of this. The government also thinks that having poor people in the country is a problem, and various solutions are being tried.
Noble families from Avakonian times still exist in Sfaïr, but their influence has been drastically reduced by reforms. Taxes now go straight to the government, and private armies are no longer allowed.
Slavery is not illegal, but is frowned upon and rare. Much more widespread is the practice of getting financially desperate people to be your servants for minimal pay.
About 10% elven (Amauri)
The elves are not native to Sfaïr. In ancient times, after the ancient kingdom’s collapse (the kingdom was real, though its feats are exaggerated to some degree), but before Avakonia became the center of the world, an elven tribe, to which the Omubui of Lasciemno are related, came to Sfaïr.
The humans there lived in a dark age. People no longer believed there was more to life than the day-to-day work with a few simple pleasures, like gambling or good food. Nobody was willing or able to pay artists or entertainers. There were barely any towns, let alone cities. Most of the population lived a pastoral, semi-nomadic lifestyle.
Then, about a hundred years into the dark age, the elves came, bringing with them their love of crafts, their refined culture and Abhidi, their religion. Slowly but surely the country livened up again. In exchange for the humans’ hospitality, they shared some of their knowledge, and both cultures changed forever.
The elves settled and benefitted from the sheer size of the human clientele, selling them jewellery, metalwork, and rare goods brought from the east where their relatives live.
The humans combined the elven meditation techniques with what little they remembered of the powerful Perijanist rituals from the Kingdom Era, which were particularly advanced in the art of creation and perfection of matter. However, soon they discovered that humans’ bodies are far less attuned to nature in contrast to those of elves. The most a human could do by invoking the aspects of Abhidi was bend a blade of grass.
Later, it was discovered that by removing the surface layer of gems and dipping them into a special concoction, the gems become receptive to receiving energy from moonlight. The moons act as four giant mirrors in reflecting sunlight, mirror being the symbol of Abhidi. Drawing on the energy in the charged gems, humans can recognize and alter the aspect of Abhidi in materials. This ritual is called dwimmercraft. More specifically, its most common uses allow the meditating person to recognize the material they’re touching, determine its spatial extent (useful when you can’t see the whole thing) or alter its shape. Due to the necessity of touching the target and meditating for at least a few seconds, weaponizing dwimmercraft has been deemed impossible.
About one fourth of elves live like their predecessors did, in the wilderness. However, Sfaïr doesn’t offer that much in the way of forests, so some of these elves live in caves in the mountains. These elves are governed by chieftains and druids, who are respectively the most powerful and spiritually attuned elves around. They are devout adherents of Abhidi. They organize in clans and families, led by a dominant head.
Nearly all of the elves living in towns in the human manner live in the Foreigners’ Quarter and its hinterland, and as such they are ruled over by the Governor of the Quarter. Historically, the most important elven clans controlled the Quarter, but they were deposed in a coup in 125 IR. The reason for the coup was the mafia-like behavior of the clans. All Governors of the Foreigners’ Quarter have been elves so far, as the Quarter has an elven majority.
Taxes are very high, as the elves have an “all for one, one for all” mentality – contributing to the common good is viewed as a citizen’s most important duty. On the other hand, the money is well spent.
Lowlifes and human peddlers are kept out by the stable wall and vigilant watch, nobody dared to invade the Quarter even at the height of the civil war, and the infirm are taken care of relatively well.
The elves have always kept to themselves, especially during and after the civil war. The elven community is effectively a state within a state, ignoring most of human politics. They are legally associated with Sfaïr only at the highest (constitutional) level.
Contrary to (human) popular belief, the elves don’t have secret passages under the mountains. They do, however, make use of their excellent geographical knowledge to transport goods to and from neighboring regions quickly, avoiding bandits and toll roads alike.
Most elves are crafts(wo)men and merchants. Some have more shady jobs in the service/entertainment sector and the black market. It is thought that they dislike the menial jobs like farming or sheepherding.
Amauri means “dark ones”. The reason why the elves are called dark is unknown – the elves’ complexion is pale, resembling moonlit human skin. Folk etymologies propose that elves wore only dark clothing in the past, or that the name refers to their alleged preference for shadowy places. The Amauri are similar enough to humans to be mistaken for such on a cloudy night. What makes them different is their hair, whose colors vary between purple, red and yellow. It is typically worn in a single long braid by the women. Elven eyes have slit pupils. Elves tend to age slightly slower than humans.
The elves speak a dialect that might be called French on Earth. They used to speak a language different from that of humans, but over centuries of contact, so many loanwords and grammatical patterns were exchanged that the two are now mutually intelligible.
Half-elves are shunned by elves and humans alike, as they don’t fit into either culture and are perceived to be unattractive. No half-elf has held a public office in the history of Sfaïr. It is then no wonder that few wish to marry a member of the other species. For example, when an attractive young elven man has a human admirer, her friends will likely advise her to forget him.
The current governmental system was established in 132 IR. It is the result of a union of six states which has been growing closer. Some are concerned that further unification will distance the leader of the alliance more from the common folk and give them more power than any one person should wield. However, the majority of people are enthusiastic about the fairly progressive leadership and support the elites.
There are six Governors, who each rule over one of the countries in the alliance. They can elect and dismiss the Leader of the Sfaïri Free Alliance.
Almost anyone can run for Governorship by participating in a competition that takes place once every 9 years in each region. The exact theme varies by region and by the historical period, but all competitions are aimed at selecting a wise, strong and ruler. The competitions are often life-threatening, and it is fairly common for some competitors to die. The competitors’ performances are scored by a panel of elders. Obviously, the participant with the highest score wins and becomes the Governor for that region. A person may run for governorship any number of times.
The judges that select Governors aren’t impartial, they might give a few more points to a relative of a current governor or to an heir of a wealthy family. Political dynasties do exist in Sfaïr, but the successors need to be at least a little physically and mentally able.
Since the new government has been formed after the war, Goveronors (even the general populations of the six regions) have been traditionally anxious about the balance of power in the alliance, secretly suspecting the others of trying to usurp control over the whole country. Many peculiarities of the SFA result from this political atmosphere, such as Súthberg not being declared the de jure capital of the country.
On the local scale, there are powerful city councils who govern not only cities, but also the adjoining land. They are appointed by the Governors or their deputies.
The regions and their current Governors are:
-Foreigners’ Quarter (Sir Varden Bandeson. Little is known of him, but he he must be plotting something secretly if he is so cooperative with the humans, which is unusual for an Amauri.)
-West Rúgari (Dame Rosagund Luitbertien, still an impetuous but bright child. Apparently one of the tasks in the West Rúgari Governor competitions is crawling though caves, which advantages thinner participants, i.e. children.)
-Andavenpolis (Sir Lull Radeburg, a former merchant. Is suspected to be corrupt. Having ample experience in the world of money and power, he will reject prevarication and glibness in negotiations.)
-Contrad (Dame Clothild d’Arberonto, reliable and conservative. Popular, but inexperienced in politics.)
-Temple of Besso (Sir Médard Ansfing, the High Priest of Temple of Besso. Many seek his counsel, and it is said that he knows even the name of your unborn child. Tolerant of other religions.)
-Súthberg (Sir Anatole Theophanous, whose noble family came from Avakonia. Sympathizes with the poor, and thinks making the common folk content is the mark of a good ruler. This goes against the elitist tendencies of many Sfaïri.)
Sir Gerold Blanc, a middle-class man from southern Contrad in his late twenties. He is charismatic, and has managed to convince all six Governors to vote for him after it was decided that the country would have a leader. Reinvigorating Sfaïri culture and economy, making them no longer mere shadows and derivatives of the past is his primary reason for wishing to lead Sfaïr. He is a nominal Abhidic.
He has decided that his goals would be accomplished best through military and economic might. Also, he has been sending incognito observers to foreign countries to assess the current political scene.
State religion: Abhidi
When the elves came, only a few people converted to Abhidi. It did not become the dominant religion until it was discovered that the Abhidic techniques could be used for mining platinum (and other minerals) and until Besso published his geometrical treatises. Besso asserted that geometrical figures were the most important reflections of Abhidi. They can be constructed from any material and inserted into any work of art. Thereafter, the Sfaïri people have paid special attention to shapes. For example, six-pointed stars and hexagons are believed to bring good luck, and are worn in the form of pendants or earrings.
Worship of Abhidi was tolerated by the Empire. Unrest in the strategically placed region was something that could threaten the Empire’s territories further north.
HC1 (Temple of Besso): Abhidi
In the lowest valley of Rúgari stands an old temple, built in -39 IR and well-kept since then. It is made of unhewn black local stone held together by clever fitting of the gaps of one stone into the protrusions of another and thick resin. Were it not for its regular shape, it might have been confused for a cave sometimes. That does not make it any less awe-inducing. On the outside, numerous overhangs and spirelets dazzle the viewer, seemingly defying the pull of the ground. Inside, many marvelous paintings and statues decorate the serene altar, while not disrupting the peace of those who enter.
The temple was built in honor of Besso the Hermit, who has inspired the manifold Sfaïri rules and forms of architecture with his theories on geometry. The art is a point of pride for the Sfaïri, and one of their reasons why it’s their culture that’s superior to anyone else’s.
HC2 (Home of the Aspects): Initia
Spoiler: Journey of Magi Indago
When the wave of diplomats from Regno flooded the world, among them, though noticed by few, was Magi Indago of family Garrio, father of Magi Vorbi. Following the philosophy of the Aspect of Air, the Magi journeyed around Inyaka aimlessly, going to lands he heard interesting rumors about, and attempting to spread Initia with little success. Nevertheless, he didn’t lose spirit.
One day, Indago had been contemplating the Aspects when he heard the conversation of two elven merchants strolling by. They were talking about a war that has raged in their country for five years. Indago knew of no such war or country, so, curious to know more, he stopped them to inquire about its whereabouts. One of the merchants, Lyebault, was returning home and offered to take Indago along with him. Indago was too excited about his discovery to send a message about it to Regno.
When they crossed the mountains to Sfaïr, they went straight into the largely elven city of Foreigners’ Quarter. Lyebault said it was dangerous elsewhere, and Indago saw that he was right; along the way they saw burning villages, armies maneuvering endlessly, and scavenging animals and birds feasting.
Nonetheless, the Magi thought the land to be beautiful. The flowers almost shined with vibrant colors, and the old buildings scattered throughout the landscape, although in a state of disrepair, had a kind of magnificence he had never seen before.
They arrived at the Quarter, and soon Indago felt the eyes of the crowds on him. One of his kind, a half-elf, was rare here, and not welcome, explained his companion. They hurried inside Lyebault’s home, where Indago was told many stories of Sfaïr, like the myth of the ancient kingdom.
The next day, Indago said farewell to Lyebault and left to explore Sfaïr on his own. He wanted to go to the renowned temple of Besso first, but he was captured along the way by scouts of one of the warring states, Hiltland, as he was deemed suspicious by them. Indago was wary of using his magic power against them, not wishing to make himself known as a threat to be eliminated. He was taken north to their coastal capital, and presented to duke Alberic, who asked him about his identity.
The Magi correctly deduced that the Sfaïri like visibly impressive feats – according to the story, their mythical kingdom performed many impossibly grand spells – and made flowers of fire bloom in the sky, to support his claim that he was an official diplomat of Regno, a distant land, and much power had been vested in him.
Alberic was suitably impressed, and granted Indago the freedom of movement within his realm, but forbade him to leave altogether, thinking a foreign diplomat would be a valuable asset to have after the war, whether serving as a hostage or an ambassador. Indago was assigned bodyguards that enforced Alberic’s rule.
Indago spent three years in Alberic’s country, learning the peculiar ways of the Sfaïri and showing them the Aspects’ workings. He had no trouble attracting students; the life goal of many Sfaïri is to know as much as they can about the world.
As the end of the war approached, Indago was told by one of his students that Rúgari troops were closing in on Hiltland from all sides. Neither side guaranteed the survival of civilians. The Magi didn’t want to leave the other Initiates behind. In spite of that, he decided it would be better to flee the country and negotiate with the attacking army’s leader.
In the night he fled. Air itself gave him speed, and soon he appeared in front of the Rúgari soldiers. They detained him, but soon he was led to the commander’s tent. Lyebault the Merchant was there; he had been searching for Indago since his disappearance, and, having tracked him to Hiltland, travelled alongside the Rúgari army. It was he who arranged for Indago’s current audience with the commander, instead of Indago being taken (as is usual for detained persons) to some lower-ranked, possibly close-minded officer.
The friends greeted each other warmly. Indago told the commander of his captivity in Hiltland, and answered her questions about the terrain there, the enemy’s preparatory military maneuvers and the composition of the Hiltland army.
Answering his request, the commander also told Indago that she was never going to kill civilians. On the surface, she had been sending mixed signals to everyone, including her troops, to trick the enemy into defending villages that she wasn’t going to attack.
At the dawn of the next day, the battle with the most participants on both sides in Sfaïri history took place. It was more tiring than bloody. After 5 hours of intense stonewalling and cautious advances, duke Alberic knew that he wasn’t going to win. He ordered his army to surrender, boarded a ship and sailed away beyond the horizon.
The civil war effectively ended, and Indago went back to Andavenpolis territory, formerly known as Hiltland, to make sure the teachings of Initia were firmly rooted in Sfaïr, for he had to return to Regno as soon as it was possible, at least temporarily, to reunite with his family and tell of his journey.
Having ordained a few Speakers, Indago left for his homeland in 166 IR. After he left, the Sfaïri initiates negotiated financial support from Sir Lull Radeburg for a new Cursuri building, replacing the provisional one. Besides providing more space and a nicer environment for the study of Initia, the new building was to impress Indago upon his return. Each of them did their part in the grandiose project.
The Home of the Elements is an observation tower and an Aspect Campus. It is located in the northern Andavenpolis region, on a lone hill in the middle of vast grass-covered lowlands. It is built of chiseled white stone bricks, and the slate roof is polished so well that it shines during both day and night.
The central tower is surrounded by a garden. It has a pentagonal cross section. Connected to it by flying buttresses that also serve as bridges are five smaller round towers, each themed after one element. Each tower’s base has an adjoining entry hall.
From the top of the central tower, one can see the land, the ocean, and the sky very well. There is astronomical equipment in the tower.
HC3 (Flute of the North Wind): None
Where the north side of the Haumikilaz Mountains meets Mollis, a weather-worn gray rock full of round openings stretches for two Sfaïri miles. When wind blows from the north, it passes through the holes, producing a beautiful sound. People come here to listen and meditate. It is regarded as a sacred place by the Sfaïri. It isn’t associated with any particular religion.
Spoiler: Trade and Resources
In ancient times, it was discovered that the northern side of Haumikilaz is abundant in a white metal, Platinum. Unlike gold, it naturally contains impurities, which make its properties unpredictable, and it resists any attempts to smelt it. For these reasons, it was barely used for even the crudest of items before dwimmercraft was invented. Using dwimmercraft, a smith first removes the impurities, then he beats and stretches the platinum into a rough shape with his tools. Finally, he uses dwimmercraft again to carve the details of the object and smoothen its surface.
With dwimmercraft being used for many mundane tasks, the Gem consumption of Sfaïr is great. Abilities like telling apart a solid gold ring from a gilded one by touching them (the user can determine the spatial dimensions of the substance – they can tell if the gold goes all the way through or if it’s just a surface layer) aren’t even considered supernatural. And while the gems can be reused, a bit of them is shaved off in every recharging and they also gradually lose quality.
TP1 (Haumikilaz Pass): Sfaïr
The old Avakonian road, now repaired, is where countless goods will cross Sfaïr’s southern border. At least the government, which expended much of its budget on the repairs, hopes so.
TP2 (Foreigners’ Quarter): None
Súthberg has declined greatly, but the elves in the Foreigners‘ Quarter somehow kept trading with other lands all throughout history. Do they really have paths through the caves that they tell no human of?
TP3 (Contrad Port): None
Although Sfaïr has a northern coast, the port near Contrad, the biggest on Mollis, is the most important Sfaïri port, as it is located close to other civilizations and in very safe waters. Platinum is shipped to the eastern nations in return for materials that cannot be found in Sfaïr.
Written up by Fire Tarrasque, edited by me
While until recently Cesaria was a group of scattered City-states. It was once a mighty... one region kingdom. Much wow. But in reality is was lead by a dynasty of kings. While these may have been mediocre leaders on a world scale, rather unconcerned with expansion, and militarily weak. As the empire of Dejan rose, the Cesarian king did nothing. He sat there, unconcerned with this strange king. After all, people rise and fall all the time! He'll be fine! When Dejan comes, he'll just raise a small army, fend him off, take some more land, and continue to rebuild after the latest Mortovium.
During Avakonian Rule
Then Dejan actually came. Despite their very greatest effort, they put up what would be described by anyone else as token resistance. After the complete destruction of a few border towns and the destruction of their army, the king was murdered. And there was much rejoicing. They did not want to surrender, but having deposed their own monarch, it's not too hard for the foreigner with the giant army to take the throne. After this, the Cesarians did not like Dejan. They were more militarized, less localized, and ruled by what they viewed as an upstart. Then they didn't. With the increased interaction with the surrounding areas, the constant need for sheep to provide clothing and food for Dejan's ever growing army, and a constant inflow of money, the people of Cesaria quickly became patriotic. VERY patriotic.
Then Dejan died. The (governor? What was Dejan's ruling system? I'm going to say governor, just to further the Rome similarities because Proconsuls.) ordered a full year of mourning for Dejan, and the mass sacrifice of rams, both to the newly divinized Dejan and to force the sheep into mourning. (This isn't all that absurd, there are similar instances from our own history, like when Shaka ordered the mothers of a bunch of animals killed after his own mother died.) Before this year was even done, the infighting began. There are four empires now. Sure, Cesaria already technically belonged to one of them, but the people didn't much care. And so, civil war. Starting with two sides, it gradually descended into more and more, and as the four empires split apart further, so did Cesaria, though this relation was not infinite.
Eventually, Cesaria settled down into fiefdoms, but fighting a civil war for someone kind of sticks them into your cultural memory. And despite their history, the ancient Cesarian kings have been completely forgotten by the average civilian. They perceive that Dejan ruled, and don't really think of before, and if they do, they perceive it as some kind of dark age.
Cesaria is a relatively new kingdom, on a world scale. Only recently united by a ruler who could be less described as great, and more as better than the rest of that generation's idiots, by the title of Rexan Crassus. In the time that has passed, they probably haven't gotten much better. From then on, the most power individual, by any form of appointment, or none at all, was referred too as the Crassi. (A king could be a Crassi, as could a president, or even someone who made so much money they eclipse the actual government in power. The title holds no power, it is simply an honorific.)
Before that time, it was a group of petty dukedoms, fiefdoms, and at least one that declared itself an empire. It was not of course, actually an empire. Before that still, it was part of the Dejanite empire, of course, and an eager component at that. Not especially important, but glad to be a part of greatness. Much of the petty squabbling was initially caused by extreme disagreements on who was the true successor of Avakonia. They now aspire to find the next great empire, and become a vital part of it's success, or if necessary, become that empire itself.
Cesaria has also always had a strange, nigh supernatural prevalence of sheep, to the point where it has occasionally become a problem, with them destroying all the grazing material for miles around. These times are known as the times of Mortovium, or times of the Death Sheep. (The sheep are not actually magic, they are simply a mass that violently overgrazes, leaving other animals starving, and then moves on, collecting any sheep in the last area as it does so.)
Cesaria is mostly flat, open ground, pocketed by very occasional valleys, often referred to by residents as the Convalacras, or "Lands of grazing," and the occasional bubbling stream or brook. Three notable cities exist in Cesaria; Oviteram, Aliqa Licarm, and Magnoram.
Oviteram exists in the center of their territory, serving double duty as a trade hub for the surrounding area and a shelter from any large enemy forces that would manage to reach Cesaria's juicy center. It is also the oldest, though for most of it's history it existed as a relatively small settlement, only the hub of a small area, later elevated by being made the acting base of Rexan Crassus, the unifier, while he waged his campaigns. Most goods produced in Oviteram are than exported to Aliga Licarm or Magnoram.
Aliga Licarm is built near a large inland body of water, (Mechanically either the river for 22 or 24, or the lake for 20,) and the smallest of the three, though it is has lasted the longest as a a large settlement.
Magnoram, whose name derives of a gradual corruption of an old phrase for "Great coast," as this city was initially founded by former residents of Aliga Licarm, is the largest and newest of the three cities, as well as both the greatest exporter and importer of goods. The rest of the empire is mostly small towns, with lone houses being quite rare. "Castles" are rather common unifying points for several small town sectors that were previously petty kingdoms, but most of these were horrible, and true castle like structures are rare. Other sites of note would be: Sinerra, the primary source of stone and other minerals, a moderate settlement with one of the only true defensive fortifications, and one of the first petty kingdoms to swear fealty to Rexan Crassus, and Nemoribus, the only forest of note, which also houses a settlement of the same name. While wood is scarce, it is not so much so to be a significant problem.
The people of Cesaria are generally timid. Shepherds are a very common profession, but not so common as to eclipse all else. Most are short, stout people, who refer to themselves as the Pastori Qui. Minorities are, while not second class citizens in the classical sense, still looked down upon by the general populace. While it doesn't advance to racism, they generally experience some hostility. However, if these people have some sort of claim to Dejanite power in their ancestry, this is very much reversed, as Cesaria's strange obsession with Dejanism will probably never stop persisting.
Sheep. As mentioned earlier, Cesaria has a lot of sheep. Not just domestic sheep, but wild ones as well. Several kinds of rare, semi-magical sheep are found in the herd, but these are rare enough that they aren't considered an export in any way. For instance, the Aes Ovium (Lit. Metal Sheep,) who's horns grow hard as metal. Though mechanically yeah, the resource is sheep. Sheep sheep sheep. Lots of sheep. YAY SHEEP! Lacked resource is crops, as it is very hard to grow crops when there are roving bands of angry nomnom sheep who eat them.
Center 1: Cesaria
Center 2: Cesaria (bought out in round 16.)
Center 3: Unowned.
Due to their Dejanite obsession, many Cesarians are Dejanite (Religion, not nationality.) However, Jayleong-bo is a large minority religion, easily the second largest, and enough to have a religious center, though the Cesarian practicioners can be at best described as... Slightly deviant. That actually remains a general theme of Cesaria, as the Dejanites alike practice a slightly altered faith, worshipping Dejan as the great king to unify the world in greatness, instead of the murder murder stabby stab king.
Center 1: The great temple of Oviteram: The largest Dejanite temple of the region, and a place of many pilgrimages by the surrounding area.
Center 2: A Jayleong-bo center, and one of the main differences of Cesarian Jeyleong-bo: They believe this particular valley is sacred. That's about it. Known as the Manes Collem, or Valley of Spirits.
Center 3: Known to the inhabitants as the "Second Temple," and as implied by the name, is the second largest Dejanite temple, located in Magnoram.
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