Never were there a people who had more to say about mushrooms than the Ahumahi.With access to some of the most fertile caverns in the Inner Shell, Ahumahi has grown large and prosperous. In a world where scarcity is frequent and survival is a struggle, Ahumahi is a place of plentiful food and dangers. Others look with envy at what Ahumahi has and the city-state has grown too large to be easy to defend. When their rulers fail them in that, the people of Ahumahi have proven to be a gritty, determined folk willing to defend what is theirs and all too happy to feed the corpses of invaders to their crops.
Ahumahi - the Fringe
The Fringe of the Ahumahi city-state is where the bold go to seek their fortune. It is the hinterlands of the city-state, spilling out from the surrounding caverns into the Expanse.
The central complex of Ahumahi is vast - large enough that not all of it has been completely claimed and in certain corners, cults and independent fiefs flourish away from the attention of Ahumahi's rulers.The heart of the city-state is a large, multiple stories cavern and the great grottoes underneath it, inaccessible by any other means than passing through the core of Ahumahi. These grottoes are treated with almost religious reverence and hold some of the most ancient and influential fiefs in the city-state, not to mention some of the most fecund caverns. Even if every other crop should fail, the people of Ahumahi have faith that the Grottoes will still provide. So far, it has. Their domain is humid and warm, the air cloying and thick with spores. First time visitors invariably come down with some infection, for which the people of Ahumahi have perfected many remedies through their constant exposure. It is less of an issue along the Fringe, but almost unbearable down in the Grottoes.
Prosperity and Peril
These intrigues have made the city-state home to spies, merchants and schemes from every city-state and settlement around. With the current plague of grey mold felling crop after crop, many different powers have begun to move within Ahumahi to exploit the situation - or prevent others from doing so.
Each fief can become a little world to itself, with its own superstitions, its own rituals and its own long-standing feuds and grumbles with its neighbors. While they are all connected by by rule and trade, the fiefs pride themselves first of all as citizens of their fief and of Ahumahi second.Artisans, merchants and scholars whose families have not worked the fields for generation have softened little. While they have acquired the same taste for luxury and come to enjoy the absence of the hard physical labor, they maintain the same values of hard work. No matter their station, the Ahumahi folk pride themselves in their willingness to get their hands dirty and get the work done, leaving the squabbles to others. Despite that, they are as capable of feuding as any other culture, with different fiefs arguing to great length with one another about the right and proper boundaries of their domains. That is not to say the city-state is devoid of vagabonds, drunkards or the lazy, but they become pariah in their societies and cut off from their fellows. In a culture that focuses so heavily on work, those without it even through no fault of their own will find themselves shunned and scorned.
Culinary Culture Next to the harvest, food and drink is the second cornerstone of Ahumahi culture. Some of the best culinary schools in all of Araea reside in Ahumahi and cooking skills is a point of pride for any denizens of the city-state. No one, man or woman, is considered an adult ready for the world unless they can cook a good meal or brew a good, strong drink. Many families have their own specialties or secret recipes, guarded as fiercely as their crops. With plenty of food and water, the feasts of Ahumahi are the envy of others. Read more about Cuisine in the CavesWhile they are not a militant people with Ahumahi starting few wars and launching few raids, nearly every farmer in Ahumahi has some skill with arms, and a willingness to use it. Countless raids from everywhere between fiefs to bandits to greedy outside settlements have hardened the common man and woman of Ahumahi. Some cults focus more on this martial aspect than even the harvest, but for most it is a matter of practicality: one cannot harvest a stolen crop.
Worry not that the humble farmer should grow bored while working. They'll find all the entertainment they need in complaining about the Council.Ahumahi is ruled by a much maligned council of powerful nobles, merchants and other powers. In the city, the Council is a byword for slow, inefficient bureaucracy and it is for the most part a reputation undeserved. Ahumahi has grown too vast to easily govern, fractured between competing fiefs and other powerful interests. Faced with an impossible task, the Council has chosen to focus its attentions to what it can control and grumblings about the council cease once a traveler reaches the well governed center.
Complaining about the Council is almost a past-time in the city-state and is particularly popular in the Fief Lands. Rakes can make an easy evening for themselves by aiming barbs and jokes at the Council's expense. Even those who know better, it is not an uncommon topic to begin a conversation or gripe session.Outside of that, the Council's direct power rapidly diminish however. Local warlords and farmer-cults manage many of the day to day affairs of fief management and rulers. Here, the rulers of Ahumahi apply a lighter touch, showing favor and aid to those who are cooperative or at least align with their own interests while undermining those who do not. Only rarely have there been need for the Council to raise an host to punish a wayward fief - often enough, other fiefs will sense when one has become a destabilizing factor and take matters into their own hands.
The working class in Ahumahi can be roughly divided in two: the free citizen and "everyone else". Everything from indentured servants or slaves to immigrants not yet adopted by a Fief, they have no right to the crops they harvest or the land they work, but are paid according to their labor. It is a system rife with abuse, with some paid little more than what they need to survive.Second to agriculture comes livestock, mostly in the form of insects and reptiles. Some specialize in more rare breeds such as giant slugs or the Leyux with their accompanying edible parasites. Ranching doesn't have quite the same prestige as agriculture and Fief who specialize it are often considered second-rate. Even so, the meat, bone, skin and other they provide the city-state are valuable and lucrative markets. Ahumahi has struggled with finding easily accessible veins of ore, with caverns that could be mined instead set aside for raising crop or livestock. The city-state does have mines, mostly extracting copper, tin and some quantities of iron. Tools of copper or bronze are common sights in Ahumahi, with steel being almost exclusively an import. Artisans use bronze to craft elaborate sculptures or jewelry, while copper is used as a cheaper material for the lower classes. Azurite, Lapis lazuli and especially Malachite is found in some abundance around Ahumahi. While Azurite is considered a sort of cheap stone, used to create die and other trinkets, Lapis lazuli and malachite are popular to use for jewelry, decoration or ground up to make dye. Malachite in particular is often used in construction in building or furniture. Other ores and gems are used on a more opportunistic basis or imported for artisans to work with. Ahumahi trades with almost everyone. The city-state exports its bronze-work, jewelry and dyes, but most of all its food. Even in times of plenty, other city-states import the harvests of Ahumahi as the very best in the caves and in times of starvation they have little choice but to rely on Ahumahi's exports. Ahumahi trades the least with Thawke and Dhanâ due to distance and feuds, and the most with Mharaji and Dūbavum. In turn, Ahumahi imports vast quantities of steel and iron, both in the form of bars to work with and finished tools or equipment. Fish and seafood from Dūbavum are, despite the abundance of food, popular imports for their exotic flavors. Gold from Kharkorp are popular with the wealthy, and the masks from the city of ancestors are gaining in popularity as a decorative item.
Guilds & Factions
Warrior-Noble Some Fiefs go the other way. They leverage their warriors as a considerable asset for the city-state in exchange for wealth and political favors. Some are former mercenaries who have been landed while others are warrior-cults sprung from the Ahumahi's martial culture.Even so, Ahumahi can match and if necessarily exceed any enemy it face with numbers. There are still enough Fiefs that the Council can reliably call upon to form a mighty host and even those who are not required to often contribute when war threatens the city-state itself. Out of all the city-states, Ahumahi has the least need for mercenaries to bolster its ranks and tend to use them more sparingly. The average Ahumahi warrior is of uncertain quality. The farmer-warrior ethos of the city-states many workers mean that most levy come with some training and often their own equipment, but the quality is inconsistent. Few are well-versed in matters of discipline or fighting in formation, preferring to rely on personal bravery and skill at arms. Some troops of Ahumahi farmers can be the match of any elite mercenary, while others crumble and break at the first sign of serious opposition. In addition, the equipment fielded by the Ahumahi is poor. With few reliable sources of iron, they are forced to rely on copper or bronze for their arms and armor. They do have an abundance of Hattick and make use of it to field perhaps the largest quantity of crossbows, though these are still hampered by copper bolts. Ahumahi is not a militant city-state and have few plans of expansion. They see little need for it: they have what they need inside their domain already and most see little to be gained from spilling blood just to get more of it. This attitude is reinforced by the web of trade deals and lucrative caravans that frequent the city-state. While some on the fringe seek to push their borders outwards and stake their claim on fresh riches, most of Ahumahi busy themselves with the next harvest.
The Inner Shell Ahumahi exists in the Inner Shell, the name given to the region of caverns that lie many miles below the dangerous surface of the world. Here, the cavernous halls grow vast and the tunnels labyrinthine. Read more about the Inner Shell
The FiefOne of the central concepts of Ahumahi governance is the Fief. It is an claim of land from the ruling council given to an individual, group or organization. It gives them the right to rule the land within the claim and tax anyone who live there. With the difficulty of mapping the caverns or setting borders, the limits of a fief are vague and one of the most common cause on conflict within Ahumahi as two or more parties claim the same tunnel or cave.
Most fiefs are hereditary, but not all. The fief of the Closed Fist holds a tournament of unarmed combat every four years where the winner comes to hold the fief. While it is far from the most prosperous fief, there is great glory in holding it and the competition is fierce.
WaterAhumahi gets it water from a myriad of springs, rivers and underground lakes sprinkled throughout their domain. Not every source of water have been suitable for drinking, almost all have some use or another. The largest single supply of water comes from the Kinrui stream, which snakes along the Grotto beneath the city-state center and into a few flooded caverns.
Faith and FuryTo many, the land they tend and the crops they harvest are more than mere material things. It has become an act of supplication and the land beneath their feet holy. Ahumahi is home to countless cults that have sprung up all around the different fiefs, each with rites and rituals that will protect the land, ensure good harvest and keep pests away. While most are relatively benign as long as you do nothing that would endanger their crops, some take their worship too far. Blood sacrifice, secret groves and orchards, faith enforced at any cost are some the darker elements of Ahumahi culture. The fear of crop failure have lead to down many dark paths before and in dark corners of Ahumahi, bloody alters still wait for sacrifice.
Such cults have become a common boogeyman in the city-state and almost everyone has a story about someone who went missing.
A Question of ImmigrationTo those who can make the dangerous journey through the caves, Ahumahi is a common destination for migrants from villages decimated by starvation. For the most part, Ahumahi welcomes them. The caves are a dangerous place and if it is one thing that elicits the sympathy of the Ahumahi folk who are used to relative plenty, it is the thought of starving. They know the caves beyond their home is often barren and believe it is only their hard work they have what they have. As such, immigrants are welcomed but expected to match the locals attitude to hard work - and most of them do. Once accepted by a fief and allowed to settle, many even exceed it in their attempts to integrate and blend into their new homes.
Migrants who have not yet been accepted by a fief face a nomadic life, forced to travel between fiefs in search of work and shelter. These unfortunates are sometimes the target of abuse or criminal enterprise, made to do the hardest or most disgusting work.