Home of the Purple Gold
"Khol-Chatal will eat you up and spit you back out, only to then trample you" Údar said to his apprentice, who was walking beside the wagon, rather than riding on it. His behind was sore from the long journey and he wanted to stretch his legs.
"So that begs the question as to why we are here, master", the apprentice asked.
Údar chuckled. "Trust me" he said, "I would not be here if it wasn't so insanely profitable. Khol-Chatal is a terrible place, where everyone will try to exploit you or even just rob you blind if they get the chance. Even the land itself, " he said and gestured out over the smelly bogs surrounding the trade route "will try and drag you under and kill you. But the gold, Fjólnir, the gold. The chatalans have so much of it that they're almost giving it away, yet in our lands it is beyond valuable. That, my very young apprentice, is why were are here. It is also why we are leaving as soon as we can."
Khol-Chatal is a decrepit kingdom in the far northwest of Arjin, nestled between its rivals and the Næka Mountains. It holds a reputation for being a country full of tyranny, deceit and where every day is a battle for survival for almost everyone but the disgustingly rich and powerful. It's people, the Chatalan, are widely despised the world over for their callous indifference to other people and their utter disregard for honesty.
This reputation is not entirely undeserved as the country has had a long line of despotic and selfish rulers who have consistently dismantled the country and its population for their own sake and profit, leaving the populace struggling to survive. But with that abundance of wealth, said rulers have forged themselves an almost unstoppable horde of soldiers, well trained and well equipped. Khol-Chatal is a military dictatorship in every meaning of the word.
One would think that this way of running a country in a feudal society would be suicide. This would be correct, as in most feudal nations the king has vassals and those vassals have armies of their own that they need to arm and train themselves and then show up to support the king in case of war.
Khol-Chatal is different. They have a standing army, and the king's vassals are forbidden from having any kind of force other than a small personal guard. Instead the vassals loan soldiers from the crown to run their duchies and lands. This is a small, but very powerful difference, because the soldiers are paid by the crown and loyal to the king, not the vassal.
This leaves the vassals largely powerless to act against the king, but it also means that the army is a larger cost of the crown, which is of course carried by the poor populace through taxation and the unimaginable wealth gained from the trading of purple gold.
Khol-Chatal is deftly designed to leave absolute power in the hands of the king, allowing him immense power without being at mercy of any vassals. A long line of clever, but greedy kings have gradually turned the country into a personal paradise for the royals and their closest, at the cost of everyone else.
Even the noble families of the country, who normally life fairly comfortably, sometimes suffer at the whims of the king.
Khol-Chatal has access to almost unlimited amounts of valuable metals through their control of the westernmost ridges of Næka Mountains and the neighboring moorlands. This gives them immense buying power and they import most of their food, weapons and luxury goods from other countries, rather than produce it themselves.
In particular, Khol-Chatal has access to vast quantities of gold and most of that gold is called Kek Sos'wa, "purple gold" or "amethyst gold". This is a gold alloy found only in the mountains in northern Khol-Chatal, and it's stunning beauty makes it highly sought after and it carries a hefty price in trade.
Most of Khol-Chatal is a frozen hellscape in winter and a sloshy bog in summer. It's a horrible place to live, and worse to find any resources in.
Thanks to the moorlands of Khol-Chatal they also have almost unlimited access to peat, which is a valuable fuel source.
Not much of Khol-Chatal's history has been recorded anywhere, and since every new king is very fond of rewriting history to his own benefit, not much is remembered either.
What is clear is that Khol-Chatal once was a wasteland dotted by warring tribes that were conquered or united by Gorj the Conqueror somewhere between 100 - 120 þs. Gorj's legacy became Khol-Chatal.
Khol-Chatal officially claims all of the Morvátian Peninsula, but since the kings are so busy filling their coffers with gold and their harems with beautiful women, they never strive to do something about the claims, which means that Khol-Chatal remains relatively small, but holds very strategic locations. The actually held territories of the kingdom constantly changes and the united tribes used to hold much more area in the past, particularly in the south.
Khol-Chatal cares little about other countries or their policies. The only time Khol-Chatal engages in politics is when it has something to gain from it. Latest on the agenda was the renting of soldiers for the Kingdom of Fodjan in the war against the Irdárina. Khol-Chatal rarely interacts with other nations unless it's through warfare, direct threats or demanding something. With it's innumerable soldiers, a threat from Khol-Chatal is a serious issue for almost any nation.
The only country that Khol-Chatal has something of an amicable relationship with is the Khobon Federation, with which Khol-Chatal has a very lucrative slave trade.
With how the kingdom is set up, it's no surprise that the military force is absolutely top notch. Soldiers are virtually bred into service, trained from an exceptionally young age. They are given the best training and equipment imaginable and they are trained to be infallibly loyal to the crown to the point of religious fervor.
While much of the kingdom may seem to be decrepit and in disrepair, the Chatalan armies are a fearsome, brutal and effective fighting force. This single fact is likely why Khol-Chatal still exists with such aggressive neighors as Khamad and Irdárina.
Take what you can, give nothing back!
Khol-Chatal mainly exports manpower in the form of rentable mercenaries and slaves. Khol-Chatal is one of the few countries in the world that openly trades in slaves.
Due to the infinite supply of peat, whatever isn't being used is sold and shipped off to others. There is also a substantial gold trade going on, as the chatalan purple gold carries a hefty price.
With limited access to decent resources Khol-Chatal is forced to import a lot from foreigners. However, the vast quantities of gold allows Khol-Chatal to freely do so with much issue.
The main imports are iron, grain, precious fabrics and fresh fruit.
The laws of Khol-Chatal are somewhat in a flux, depending on the king. Every new king seems to bring new laws, and since the kings are quite self-absorbed, their laws really only apply in Akeles. Out on the countryside, the commoners are at the mercy of any local lord who seem to be able to do as they please. However, not all lords are despotic moneybags, there are those who try to give their underlings the best they can.
Officially, the laws are written and decided on by the king and upheld by the army. In practice, however, it is usually the local lords and their sheriffs who run things.
Since "law" is a floating concept in Khol-Chatal and is more of a convenience or inconvenience depending on which side of it you are, it's difficult to really know who is meant to interpret and uphold the law.
Officially, usually the local lord have the judicial responsibility over their underlings, but it's not unusual at all for people to take the law into their own hands as necessary, or use obscure, outdated or local laws to use as leverage against political enemies.
The western reaches, dominated by a culture that values strength and honor.
The easternmost nation in the Morvátian Peninsula, forming the theological border between The Honorbound and The Path of Balance.
Irdárina is a country with a proud history and an even prouder people. It lies in the southern fields of Irdar in the western peninsula of Morvátu.