Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Overanalyzed Crazy Discussion

Mmm. Chocolate good. New bakery around the corner from the Paris Center? Better.

Also known as: Ketthel-region Manessah, 1533-present.

Okay, we have about eight important groups to bullet-point here, so let's try and keep up. I've got six hours to ramble as long as I want, but I wanna get around to Isabella's court some time this century. Here we go:

--Eannak: 30 second recap, jungle people, giant river delta, port city of Vara, relatively xenophobic.

They're somewhat Mayan, if you're looking for Earth comparisons, though I don't acutally know enough about the Maya to make it a full-fledged copy, and besides, that's boring. At any rate.

Most of the civilized world (i.e. Letasacia, for our presetting purposes) knows very little about the Eannak, given that they're not hugely fond of outsiders. That's not to say that they aren't all sorts of interested in what the outside world can bring them, at least in terms of material goods--but it's not like it's somewhere they would ever actually go. As far as letting foreigners in, well, keeping them out isn't too much of a problem. No, actually, it's not the shadowy figures in the jungle darkness with the poison-tipped arrows, or whatever, it's more that they've threatened to bar Letasacians from Vara if they come too close in on the jungle borders, and at this point it's the biggest port city on the entire known planet. So. No invading the jungle people.

Within the jungle, they're not exactly one big happy empire--lots and lots of fractured clan-groups, constantly disputing over hunting territory and mining territory and whether they get to clip the neighbor's azalea bush that's hanging over their driveway and whatnot. Lots and lots of diverse talents, capabilities, crafts, etc. etc. 'Eannak' (which, if transliterated directly from the native pronunciation, would probably be 'Yananak') was a made-up word rattled off by some wit to an early group of explorers; they don't actually have a word for themselves as a group. While any astute visitor to Vara will realize that, say, pottery from the northeast has nothing to do with woven baskets from the middle west coast, they probably won't get that the individual clan groups have so little in the way of overarching governmental structure. That's because they do have an overarching consciousness of self against all outside forces that will lead them all to forting up against others like woah whould it ever come to that.

This is helped by the river system. The entire jungle, more or less, is cut through by various waterways, which have pretty much an innate non-aggression pact. You set foot on somebody else's ground without invitation, you're just asking for it, but the river, its tributaries, the swamps, and pretty much anywhere in the entire jungle where you're sitting in a boat that isn't in dry-dock is officially neutral. This is what led to the creation of Vara at the delta's mouth. The entire area is pretty much just slightly muddier water and slightly waterier mud with trees growing out of it at irregular intervals--IE, many miles of communal territory. It was an ideal place to come, congregate, build, and gather.

Of course, it's very difficult to hold the largest port city in the world all from boat-side. So they hold it on bridges instead, more or less. Piers, docks, floating sidewalks...huge platforms laid over the water, and then built upon, staircases curving this way and that, levels for high, and low, and lowest, and storm tides. Built first out of wood, and then they started adding stone, which doesn't float but does hold steady and solid. Better than attaching things to trees that will eventually die, too, given that Vara's already several hundred years old and even Eannak jungle trees fall once in a while. And it's not just sidewalks and bridges--this is, after all, a rain forest, and some goods don't take so kindly to getting soaked every day at two. Buildings, huge ones, with high stone roofs and walls buttressed with pillars thicker than banyon trees, and mosaiced in vast, amazing designs, and huge, open arcades and no walls at all. And I mean, people do live here, too, even non-Eannak, thousands of them. Mostly non-Eannak, even, and certainly for much longer periods of time. Vara's sort of a quest of bravery maintained by the young, a couple of years spent in the city that's a giant portal to another world. It doesn't take too much in the way of defending simply because it's pretty obvious that without access to the jungle and everything from it, nobody could run Vara as well as the Eannak, and they're sure as hell not going to take too kindly to being enslaved and run it for you. Anything past Vara, it's miles through impossible-to-navigate marsh before you even reach the labarynthine waterways, if you ever get there. And while not a man nor woman among the Eannak would touch you whilest on the water, well, in the water will get you killed or eaten faster than you can say 'capsize'.

And yet, Vara is not now nor has ever been on Isabella's list. The Eannak have two cities, actually--every soul among them knows about the other, and not a one would breathe a word of it to an outsider, not for any price. The other is called 'Se'. It means, more-or-less literally, 'God'.

The Eannak are mostly into their chthonic-type deities--earth style, underworldy, dark, fertility-and-death sort of things. They're traditionally very reincarnitive. Mother-goddess is of course the river, although she's got a hundred different aspects; the earth and the jungle and everything in it are father and husband and children and god-home, all at once, and yeah, there is not a bird or beetle that hasn't at one point or another had a deity devoted to it. They go through periods of consolidation, cults of 'Mother and the Father', and also of diversification again.

The idea of 'sacrifice' is sort of present, but not in terms of your traditional, say, Greek burnt offerings. Basically, everything they do, make, take, or leave lying around is a sort of sacrifice, part of doing-something-for-the-land. Thence comes the idea of 'striving-to-perfection' anything that's useful. Building huts, for instance--useful. Making better huts--more useful, therefore more holy. Making a vast, towering city out of stone, decorated with jewels and gold and gardens and what-not-all--possibly not as immidiately useful, but still, the culmination of the whole house-building thing. And therefore, most holy. Thus more or less explains Se. It also is more or less entirely on water, built up on stone pillars sunk into the middle of the river, hell, the river itself inside some of the buildings. And yeah, people live here. Mostly priests and scholarly-types. When clans are trying to conclave with other clans from far-away places, they usually did it here, before Vara. Now it's just...the holy city. Completely and utterly sacred.

More discussion of their religion, the sacrifice thing, and the modernism move towards controling-of-nature can come at some other time. The last important thing to note is the view on law and justice. Clans deal with most of it in themselves, and issues in Vara are handled based on a completely different method, but there are serious, serious sacriligious crimes. Like, killing a member of another clan in fair battle, no big. Killing a member of any clan outside of fair battle, you're gonna get a beating and some interesting side punishments that may or may not be applied. Killing someone, no matter who, on water? No-no. The response to this is basically--something's gone wrong, gotten sick in some kind of moral way, and must be dealt with. Execution is the typical response to such sacriligious crimes, in a 'return to the earth, it'll rot away properly and come back in better form', and is less of a punishment for the criminal than a 'fix this' sort of answer. There is, however, another, rarer sort of answer, and it's banishment. Given that most Eannak will never even go to Vara in their lifetimes, and the general not-okay-with-the-outside-world-ness ingrained into their culture, almost none of them would ever choose it--and no tribunal would ever force it. You could pretty much bomb Se, and they wouldn't forcibly banish you while still alive. Kill you and then send your body out to sea, maybe, but at least they'd put you out of knowing you were cut off from the world forever first.

Some people, a little too fond of Vara, a little too fond of life, a little too unsure about the unshaking faith in circle-of-life stuff or the mercy of the gods after what they've done, pick banishment. And that's all I have to say about that.

--Inaferre: Once-Ketthelan, then up for grabs, then Letasacian, then rogue, low-tech but pretty self-sufficient in terms of material goods and also defence.

Damn, I'm tired after that. Okay, let's keep going. Hit Inaferre and Zhaitannatel tonight, Keissat and Sikreth tomorrow, Letasacia and Ketthelan politics under Isabella over the weekend. I hope.

Inaferre's actually not too hard to describe, because its history and basis is basically Letasacian, by which I mean (for I am invested in creativity, but not that much creativity) basically Carolingian, without many of the Christian influences. (Why yes, I have been putting way too much of Eurociv into this. I've also been planning way too much of this during Eurociv. Why do you ask?)

I don't actually know why they're important--they were never part of my original conception of the Ketthelan border zone, but I like them. They are, in some sense, this world's first version of the proletariat revolution.

Originally they were a people somewhat similar to the Zhaitannatel, only not. The area is mountainous, full of mines and good lumber, but not hugely successful in terms of, oh, say, wheat farms. It was settled by a bunch of people who got pushed west by other, slightly more violent tribes from the east. They did a lot of hunter-gathering, farmed sheep and goats with some success, and had some issues with scurvy. Still, they were getting the hang of it, planting the lowlands, dealing with their goats, defending their little patch of mountain, etc. etc. These are the same people who founded Aerie, BTW. It was originally a lookout post for defensive purposes, and gradually got a bit more civilized. More or less the largest unit of settlement, though, was the extended family housing--vaguely matrilinial inheritence line, where property mostly went to the daughters' husbands, with the oldest daughter's husband becoming owner and patriarch of the estate, while the younger daughters' husbands, if there were any, colonized it farther afield. Ever-so-slightly Amish.

They had themselves bands of roving warriors that congregated in big, racous parties up in the uninhabity bits to exchange intelligence on occasion. They tended to stop by the homesteads and do a little more taking than they strictly, or, you know, at all, paid for. But they also had things like traveling medics with them, and took care of all sorts of problems dangerous in nature for the locals, and unlike raiders and bandits (which they chased off or killed), they didn't actually take a sword to you if you refused to give them stuff. They just threatened to, gave you mean looks, and picked up and moved away, taking their medics and magics with them. People tended to like them better than the alternative.

Then a certain Lady Hawkfire swept in with some troops from the Letasacian imperial army, and the whole area just folded like a card table. There was a lot of bitching, some pissing and moaning, but then they were all, 'We can ship you in all sorts of exciting new technology and farming implements and exotic cloth, and did we mention that fresh fruit from the south prevents scurvy? And hey, if you give up the farming in this area that isn't really great for it, and start mining and logging for us instead, we'll pay you in food you don't have to grow yourself. With solstice-tide bonuses.' And they sort of gave up on the bitching thing.

They were held under one of the Hawkfires' vassal lords for a few centuries after that, but the territories their area was split up into (including what's now Ketthel, about three or four times the size of Inaferre as it is now) were mostly given to lords drawn up from the people themselves, and they tended to be down-to-earth sorts. Less with the 'noblesse', more with the 'oblige'. Life didn't suck too much.

Then Ketthel proper got taken over. Inaferre was in quick succession the property of an incoming invasion from the east, then at an effort more Inaferrian than Imperial, Letasacian again, then taken by a completely different group of invaders, whose entire country/kingdom/principality/empire/barbarian realm/entity was taken over by yet a third group that also no longer exists, before Letasacia finally got them back. Their new liege lord proceeded to treat them more or less like any other tiny swatch of land in the empire at large, and not one that he actually knew much about, given that he'd recently been put in control of a whole lot of land that had been other people's responsibility for centuries. There was quite a bit of discussion in local towns about returning to that pre-Letasacian state of farmers and wandering swordsmen, and then a whole bunch of veterans from the conquest wars got together and started organizing. Next thing you knew, the entire area from the western edge of the mountains across to the Aillon River on the east had just sort of...stopped being home when the tax collectors came by. Their neighbors were often around, with grim 'discouragement,' on the other hand.

And then a couple of local lords found themselves unceremoniously dumped on their asses outside the borders of their mannors, which were beginning to smoke, and they more or less got the hint. The nobility took off, the army trooped in, and the Inaferrians who knew their land better than anyone else, and had used that ability to fight off multiple invaders in the past two generations or so, made their life deeply miserable.

Eventually, the Letasacian government just sort of gave up, and set up a perimiter around the edge of Inaferre to sigh and take it back with much finger-wagging the next time they got conquered by someone else. Only that was a good five hundred years ago, and that has yet to happen. They've been invaded a few more times, but the Inaferrians know their terrain pretty damn well, and for all they've mostly gone back to farming, they had a couple hundred years of learning to be miners and smiths to figure out all the best ways to make nifty, sharp, pointy weapons, too.

Their relationship with the Sikreth is probably one of the most, ahem, 'amicable' that anybody has with the Sikreth. They don't go into the water, or across it, and they can use the banks and what they pull from it as much as they like. The Sikreth don't come up the Inaferrian side. If they try, they get their asses kicked.

Millitia service isn't compulsory, but it's pretty frequent for one or two kids from every family to take off with the swordsmen for a few years. Male and female, though primarily male; still, it's considered an asset in a wife to be able to defend your hearth and home personally.

The thing is, things were damn good under the Hawkfires and they all know it. They'd go back to a really decent rule they felt safe under, if somebody asked them. They're not about to trust the Letasacian empire to do that without some serious negotiations, and the empire's made it pretty clear that they think Inaferre's too small to bother with the negotiations with. So they handle themselves.

In terms of religion, they favor the same sun-moon-world paradigm that the Hawkfires, of Letasacia at least, tended to espouse. (The religion of the Hawkfire-inclusive culture back in the tribal days, for instance...oh, to be gotten into so much long later.) Sun's got fire-god echoings, and is very much the patron of the Hawkfires. What the Inaferrians do with it all can get discussed in a later discourse on religion. Because yeah, remember that fun post back at the beginning, about the gods and such? Well...we'll get to that.

--Zhaitannatel: Fairly nomadic raidery-types to the north a bit, not overly concerned with boundary lines.

I'm so cheating on this description because I want to be done for the night. Oh, rising-at-6:30-to-do-homework-you-still-don't-finish. Okay. The Zhaitannatel are originally from much farther east and a bit to the north, but things were getting a little bit uncomfortable for them there a few dozen decades ago, there were some crackdowns on barbarian raiders, or possibly it was the barbarian raiders doing the cracking down, and they migrated. They've yet to really settle down since.

Letasacian presence on the eastern side of the Kitari mountains has been spotty at best since the fall of Ketthel. When the Zhaitannatel first swept in, about two hundred years ago, a large portion of the territory they're now more or less living on was technically imperial colonial holdings. It's far enough north to be fairly cold, somewhat fertile but not easily so, and honestly better for large herd animals than crop-growing. The Letasacian colonists were trying to do both, and not with huge success. There wasn't a whole lot there to defend, save people's homes, and it'd been owned and lost more than once since Isabella. The Imperial government was, quite frankly, sick of caring about the entire Ketthel border situation, especially the parts to the north of Keissat. Enter many people on horseback, significantly better accustomed by nature to the cold than the soldiers, with inferior weapons that they knew how to use very well, and thirty head of cattle for every man, woman and child among them. Because while it's somewhat difficult to bring your amber waves of grain along on a mass, overland exodus, cattle, though not exactly easy to shift in such quantities, at least had the benefit of being slightly less...inanimate. The Letasacian government struck a deal with them to start importing large quantities of beef, and surrendered without too much of a fuss.

The original Letasacian colonists were given the choice of returning to the empire or staying; most of them had been around for a coule of generations already, and decided to stay. The Zhaitannatel herdsmen bought up their livestock at somewhat decent prices, and strongly encouraged them to start putting more time and effort into the crop-based agriculture. It's not exactly their most flourishing economy, but they make enough to make do.

The herdsmen themselves, and their families, remain nomadic, in caravans of about twenty to thirty people and a few hundred cattle each. And I mean more or less completely nomadic. They'll pop down into the Plains of Toledero and then up again a few hundred miles a month later. East even up into the mountains, west until their herds get raided more than it's worth. Other people's borders don't bother them much; they own what they say they own, on any given day, in terms of land. 'Zhaitannatel', by the way, means something along the lines of 'their home is on the wind'.

They tend towards lots of little gods of very concrete things--horses, cattle, goats, wheat, swords, etc. etc. The presence of the colonists has had interesting interaction with the Letasacian idea of religion and deities as a very conceptual sort of thing. Then, they're neighbors with the centaurs, who tend to be practical to a painful sort of degree, split somewhere between strong traditional belief in a four or five elements paradigm, and pragmatic agnosticism. Basically, there's the sense that whatever specific task you're about to embark upon, be it war or farming or marriage or whatever, there's a particular god who has more to say about it than any other deity, and that if you address one or another aspect of him or her with a fair amount of respect, they'll probably get the message. And then you'll go on and work your ass off anyway, because this is not a place for an easy life, and there're probably going to be invaders from the east even earlier next spring, and the god of protection, or of swords and arrows, or of fire and battle and courage and boldness, is only going to give you a hand if you're ready to help out your own self.

They're not deeply territory-covetous, but you know, if they were given a chance at the farmland on the other side of the Kitani, and an easy passage through? They so would not turn it down.

Okay, I'm exhausted now. Sleepy-time. Mmm, sleep.

Latest Month

June 2009
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by chasethestars