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First Blessed and Karasal
[First Blessed and Karasal]
Part of the heartland of the empire, these lands are magically blessed with warmer weather than nature would normally dictate.
This area is both a major homeland of Dara Happans and the cradle of the Rinliddi culture. Further, it was the place where the Red Goddess was born and the Lunar Empire began, hence its name. There are three Dara Happan polises in the western zone but the whole river area is full of Dara Happans. The Rinliddi live in the eastern half of First Blessed, while the hills in the south are home to the Jalaki people, a nation of herders and miners.
The Dara Happan region is divided into plantations worked by slaves who grow a variety of cash crops thanks to the magic which artificially warms the Lunar empire in the north. Cotton, coffee, sugar, indigo and various spices flourish; many of the slaves are descended from Pentans who served Sheng Seleris.
The Rinliddi are reviving their ancient culture these days and reviving their raising of both flightless and flying birds. A colony of ducks dwells here with them and flourishes with uncommon acceptance. Some Darjinni have moved to the area bringing their great heron cult as well to the swamps of the Thunder Delta.
Places of Note:
- Adimayan (7,000): This is a boat city where Rinliddi and Ducks live together in large numbers; the city smells awful to visitors but the locals don't care. Mistreatment of the Ducks will not be tolerated and there is an actual Duck temple of the Seven Mothers here. The city is a major center for fishing in the river and the preservation of fish. It's also a boat-making center, using the reeds which grow along the river.
- Birin (8,000): Birin is a town of piracy under the rule of the Tyrant of Birin, a seemingly immortal man who is at least 735 years old who has survived by his adeptness at giving fealty to whoever controls the region. Many pirates operate out of this town and it remains a mystery why Imperial authorities have not cracked down on the place. The Iron Guard is a company of 100 hoplites, all with iron weapons, who serve him; how he got so much iron remains a mystery as well. The townsfolk are Dara Happan in ancestry but lower-class Dara Happans; there is a large temple to Lodril next to the temple of Magasta.
- Elz Ast (70,000): This is one of the greatest of the Dara Happan polises, a great circular metropolis which has four layers of walls as it has kept growing. There is a solar style government but the real power is held by five major mercantile associations. Its people have an unusual taste for novelty for Dara Happans, especially in the field of intellectual pursuits. The Irippi Ontor Academium is the second largest university in the nation. It also has a major school of the Alchemists of Eyzaal and is home to many scriptoria, scholars, wizards and others of like bent. At the same time, it suffers from huge amounts of fraudsters, hucksters, confidence men and gamblers trying to harvest the city's wealth. There's even rumors of a criminal ring of scholars.
- Osmanang (25,000): This is a major center of the Rinliddi revival. Six springs rise here, each embodying one of the elements plus the silver light which flows from the Great Crater; the whole city is suffused in the power of the Red Goddess as a result. Vaskaru's Retreat is a combined school for bird cavalry, temple, seminary, aviary, and all-around center for the Rinliddi bird cults. The city is a sprawling mess because it has been leveled and rebuilt repeatedly. Birds fly everywhere and messenger birds are ubiquitous and their services very reasonably priced.
- Thunder Delta (12,000): Some 12,000 people, the 'thrice-blessed of Eol' dwell in this swamp in small villages, fishing and farming and hunting. They worship Eol (god of storms, Air, Motion, Beast) and his wife Allaya (Water, Harmony, Fertility). This region is famed for producing the Thunder Slingers, slingers who hurl stones that explode into miniature storms. Some 300 serve in the imperial army; nearly 2000 can be mobilized as militia if necessary.
- Torang (18,000): Once a small farming village by the banks of the Arcos River, now it is home to a massive shrine on the spot where the Red Goddess was born and a ton of lesser shrines and a roughly infinite number of businesses catering to pilgrims to harvest them of their money. The Lunar churches constantly struggle with keeping this place more holy and less mercantile but have not had much luck.
- Yuthuppa (42,000): This beautiful city is sometimes called the city of lights, for at night, a mixture of magical torches, glowing crystals and fire fly lanters make the city resemble the night sky when seen from above. Priests drive off clouds at night so the Star Seers can climb their ten towers and see the heavens above and below them. Holy peacocks wander the streets, tended by the folk of the city, sacred to the Sun and the Stars. In wartime, the city can raise the famous Star Batallion, a force of 30 Star Seers, 500 hoplites and 300 archers. The hoplites wear armor blessed by the Star Seers and few forces can stand before them. Or so they say as it has been decades since the last emergency.
Karasal is a meeting place but not melting pot of many cultures, each of which has its own ideas on how to run the place; the Satraps have to play them off against each other. The largest conflict is the battle of the Dara Happans who dominate the south and the Darseni who dominate the north of the Satrapy. Each want their own laws applied to the land.
The Darseni are matriarchal, ruled by a council of elder women and local Crones who lead individual towns. Each local community chooses a Brightface, a man whose job it is lead the men and ensure they follow the orders of the wise women. Darseni women govern and handle living things: planting, herding, child-bearing. Men fight and make tools and other goods and handle inanimate objects, doing things like mining. They live along the Great North River and the Cham River and dominate the port of Suisa, despite Dara Happan intrusions. They are protected by Great Sister, though they are not under her direct rule, nor is she one of them, except insofar as she is part of all groups.
The Great Sister dwells in Suisa, sister to the Red Emperor; like him, she changes from age to age, always mirroring him, strong when he is weak, harsh if he is gentle, kind if he is rough. In her current incarnation, she is stern and hard-working, watching vigorously over the empire. She does not drink or have sex or engage in other pleasures but works without ceasing. A powerful army, all-female, is based here in Karasal with her. Five regiments are stationed at Suisa, each 1000 strong. Two more are posted at Korjabedi.
- Battle Sisters: Heavy infantry
- Bow Wives: Bow Skirmishers
- Earth Axes: Medium infantry
- Iron Maidens: Heavy infantry
- Rune Ladies: Mounted Combat Magicians
- Copper Girls: Spear Skirmishers
- Sticks of Addi: Combat Magicians
Places of Note:
- Agsjabedi (18,000): A Dara Happan elite rules over peasant farmers in this area, providing religious services to the locals, who pay a tithe to the city. It is not a proper polis of the Dara Happans but it has ambitions towards that status. The city stays warm in even the harshest Storm and Darkness seasons and thus many wealthy folk maintain homes here to hide during those seasons, when cold winds can come off the gulf into places like Joranit.
- Joranit (42,000): This booming city is the home of the Satrap, though he is often in Suisa, currying favor. It is a very cosmopolitan city but torn by constant conflict between the Dara Happans and the Darseni for influence over the Satrap. The White Sea Fleet and several regiments are based here.
- Korjabedi (22,000): This is the center of the Darseni culture. They chose the Grand Crone, the head of their faith, who has only spiritual power in the current age of Lunar rule. Many come here to the temples for major ceremonies and the town lives on trade and spiritual visitors. And providing services to the two regiments stationed in the fortress here. For all the complaints of the Dara Happans, in most ways, this is a peaceful and well-ordered town; the Darseni are not so uptight as the Dara Happans but they're also not prone to getting drunk and naked in public like the Darjinni either. That being said, Dara Happan visitors will find that everything they do goes wrong somehow. Somehow.
- Suisa (52,000): For centuries, the Great Sister has lived here, slowly rebuilding the city towards some vision only she knows; a mighty fortress stands here where she resides with five regiments of troops. All the products of the Great North River valley flow into Suisa to be shipped to the rest of the Empire or hauled through the Gulf and off to other lands. Huge amounts of grain flow through the city to be sent to Glamour or off to First Blessed and Oraya. The city also is a major center for woodworking and training women in magic and the martial sciences. Both men and women come here to study breakthroughts in carpentry, masonry, and other building arts from the constant construction projects. The city's constantly changing nature tends to make both Mostali and Dara Happans uncomfortable but some brave it anyway because there is much to learn here.
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