Louh

That great and terrible nation, home to mad alchemists and their mutants— a patchwork people. Molded from all other manner of life in the known world into something new, something unknown. I wish to avoid it, if possible.
— A Rektouzk trader
  Louh is a nation disliked by most of its neighbors, a dislike that's grown to hatred in recent years as it has become transformed under the rule of the mad tyrant Dor Tzetz, who usurped the throne a decade ago. However, Louh is at the forefront of alchemical knowledge, creating amalgams and hybrids such as heul or oft discarded human amalgams. This draws scholars and alchemists to its borders, and makes them a valuable trade partner. The nation and its actions are driven largely by one particular goal— to become something greater than human.  

A Sullied Reputation

Those who founded Louh were brought together due to their shared ideology and goals, having been ostracized among their own cultures whose attitudes towards alchemical mutations were unfavourable at best— and violent at worst.

Han iklza qoulich.

Capital
Leader
Neighboring Nations

Living failures

Not every mutation is a success, this is due to the nature of alchemy— yet stumbling upon those poor souls does not inspire confidence in the nation's alchemists.   So, after Tzetz's rule began, many of them were forcibly relocated to isolated villages where further experiments and manual labor are carried out.
The human body is immutable— to transform it into something else, no matter the advantages of the mutation, is to forsake one's very being.
— A Lliaqeu scholar
 
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They wished only to found an independent village along the unoccupied territories of the northern Xhloui River Delta where they may carry out their studies and openly live with their mutations sans prejudice. However, word travelled. The world's most skilled alchemists could be found in this space— and this lured in alchemists, scholars, and merchants alike. As is often the case, the village began to grow and in time became a town. Being a town gave the settlement a larger footprint— which led to more promising tales told abroad, and more immigrants. Well after its founders had passed, this town became a city-state with ample land to call its own.   As the city-state grew, it would naturally begin to require more space— and its alchemists required more and more materials for their practices. However, in a nearby city-state, a new ruler would come to power— one who was a staunch opponent of alchemical mutations. Under their rule, this city-state would begin to block off Louh's trade routes— either through force, or diplomatic appeals to their trade partners. Pushed into a corner, Louh would raise an army in response. Their alchemical knowledge proved terrifying when put to use in the creation of weaponry, horrible alchemical grenades fell upon their enemies in great salvos of clay and liquid.   Their enemy's blood turned to metal, the fat within their bodies set alight, their joints joined together— becoming stiff and useless— and many other torturous mutations befell them. Those that survived were left permanently maimed. In the following years many wars— both territorial and ideological— would follow, and the nation would steadily grow. The alchemists of Louh would continue their studies, developing more and more powerful alchemical brews and mutations as the decades marched onwards— predominately in pursuit of a better way of being.  

Peaks & Valleys

A select few eventually found ways to transcend their humanity, having replaced every aspect of their human physiology with that of something else, and were practically worshiped as a result. Some began their own religions and philosophies, while others simply lived out the remainders of their many numbered days in meditative isolation— though even these hermits would entertain the occasional knowledge-seeker.   These elders would be sought after by citizens and leaders alike for their wisdom, leading to a veritable golden age for the nation. The usage of mutating brews in battle was discouraged, and greatly limited to those that could quickly and humanely end their foes rather than the torturous implements of their past. Curative brews and medicines would be developed and shared with the outside world, and the stigma the nation had long been branded with would finally begin to subside.  
We no longer look at our neighbors with fear— I dare say in this brave new era, we can even call them friends.
— A former Pomm
  Unfortunately, this only lasted until Dor Tzetz came to power. Few know of his origins, but he was most certainly not in any position to succeed the previous tichan. Regardless of where he came from, he had violently maimed and tortured the previous tichan of Louh, who would slowly approach his death, until finally transferring power to the man.  

Mixed language

A unique dialect of Qetlec is spoken in Louh, which is influenced by the myriad other languages spoken by its populace.   Notably, this dialect introduces the usage of the "xh" sound, which is pronounced "shuh".   While this dialect can be spoken on its own, it is typically spoken in conjunction with other languages.   Many of Louh's citizens are polyglots, who expertly weave together previously disparate languages into something new.   One may notice that the names of those born within Louh reflect this, Dor Tzetz being a great example— his first name coming from Dhogh, and his last from Qetlec.
Shortly thereafter, things began to change dramatically. On the surface, he supported the same ideal as those before him— improving and transcending the human condition through steadfast studiousness. However, his idea of what was "transcendent" meant radically differed to most— he valued raw power over all else. Whoever could become stronger than any other man alive, he believed, was transcendent. And so began a new era of atrocity as certain parties— who had long valued power over the ideological goal of transcendence— were supported by the tyrant. The transcendents who could oppose his rule were eradicated, alongside dissenting voices in his kingdom. Soon after began the widespread kidnappings of people from across the known world, for usage in various torturous experiments to develop new weapons— be they brews or mutations. Now Louh's denizens and neighbors alike live in fear— subject to the whims of a powerful man with a contrastingly weak temper.  
Each day I look fearfully toward the north. Will this be the day that madman crosses our borders to rain alchemical flame upon our people? I can seldom sleep most nights.
Pomm Golom
 

Governing Structure

Originally, the government would consist of a court— embodied by people from every walk of life and origin— and a tichan. The court members were neither elected nor appointed, each would simply find themselves in the court by luck. The secret of how, exactly, this system actually worked died with the previous tichan. Under Tzetz's leadership, these seats have instead become directly appointed positions.   At the local level, that being in specific counties, settlements, and districts, the system of ruling varies wildly— mimicking rules and systems from the various other nations within the continent of Rqet. One city may adhere to a strict court system, akin to that of Zilopnou— while another may be ruled by an elder council akin to those found in Tteunor.

Architecture

There is a reason Louh is often referred to as the "patchwork nation"— not only do they have a significant mutant population, but their architecture appears as if someone took pieces of buildings from every nation in the continent and stitched them together haphazardly. The foundation of one building may be built of adobe bricks and plaster, but it's roof would bear the undeniable wooden slant of Hanviehl structures while being constructed of the lacipex wood typically seen in Chlotoun.   Each building is a hodgepodge of architectural materials and techniques from around the continent in this manner. Settlements are laid out in a similar fashion, one section excavated like those of Rektouzk while another is laid out to match the patterns of the stars above— as the Gokh Tribes construct their settlements.

Assets, Industry, & Trade

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Louh's territory consists of the area north of the Xhloui River, to the the coasts in the north and west, and the northern peaks of Nipinoul in the east.  

Alchemical Expertise

Louh's greatest asset is their alchemical expertise, as this is what has allowed the nation to grow as large and powerful as it has. For centuries, they have developed new and amazing brews on a regular basis. There are several educational facilities dedicated solely to the practice of alchemy throughout the nation, which were once graciously opened to the entire world.   At least, until Tzetz came to power— after which, any scholars studying at these facilities were forced to become citizens under threat of incarceration and death.

 

Mutated Meals

Alchemical mutations are not limited to just living creatures, in fact, much of Louh's crops today derive from what were once mutated species. Most common is a sort of mutated corn, which grows on smaller stocks akin to wheat with fewer kernels per stalk, and an absence of husks. This tastes almost identical to other corn found throughout the world, but has a notably grainier taste.  

Military

Louh's soldiers are chosen and trained in a variety of fashions, mimicking the various methods used by their contemporaries. Some are conscripted, some are trained to fight from birth, others simply choose to join the arm. Few are typically alchemically trained, their potions and grenades being developed by specialists who devote their alchemical research to the development of weaponry. Each soldier typically consumes a slurry of potions before heading into battle, in order to increase their awareness, reaction speed, strength, numb their feelings of pain, and more— depending on the particular solider, unit, and their specializations.  
It tastes like mud, but after it finally settles, I feel like I could take on their entire army alone.
— A Louh soldier.
  Their grenades vary from simple explosive concoctions to horrible mutating brews that transform their enemies in torturous fashion. Beyond this, the armies of Louh utilize weaponry and armor from across the continent— sometimes in a proper set (like, say, a Zilopnou spear with Zilopnou armor) but these are more often mixed together. (For example, a soldier may wield swords fashioned after Romtol's while wearing armor akin to those donned by one of Rektouzk's mercenary armies.). This, alongside a similar mix of tactics and battle strategies gives them an unpredictable nature in battle.  

Religion

While there are faiths that are endemic to Louh— namely those surrounding the transcendents— most citizens simply follow extant religions from around the continent, amalgamations of them, or none at all. Cults with peculiar beliefs about mutation and transcendence, too, are not unheard of— though these often go largely unnoticed.

Education

As with governance, this, too varies wildly depending on one's location. One town may send all their young to brutal life-or-death schools fashioned after those of Lliaq, while another may teach only those with the coin to afford an education like Rektouzk. All, however, have access to alchemical mentors and schools— though the methods for entering vary.
 
 

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Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!


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8 Oct, 2020 08:58

I love the detail in this article - the history, the military, the quirks that make Louh unique.   This is my favourite line - 'enemy's blood turned to metal, the fat within their bodies set alight, their joints joined together'. Such visceral horror there.   I'm looking forward to finding out more about Dor Tzetz. He sounds like a character and a half.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
8 Oct, 2020 17:29

Thank you! I'm glad you like them! I had them on the docket for quite a while but needed everyone else set up before I could write them.   I'll definitely get to them in the future!

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