Content Warning: Discussions of racism, religious extremism, and slavery
The Confederation of Doflein Realms
is a major theocratic empire in the Sora, composed primarily of realms conquered or colonized by the doflein
over the past several centuries. The doflein rule a Confederation in name only, worshiping a god they call the Prime
, who they believe is the only “true” god. All others, the doflein claim, are pretenders or demons masquerading as gods. The doflein, then, are the only truly holy mortals in existence, being born free of sin while all other species are natural heretics. The only way to cleanse other species of their inborn taint, according to the doflein, is through slavery. To this end, the doflein conquer any inhabited realms they come across, forcing the inhabitants into bondage. It was only the actions of the Dranomyr Archive
, just over 300 years prior, which halted the doflein expansion.
Doflein society is an aristocracy built upon the backbone of doflein supremacy and chattel slavery. Doflein are the central species in the Confederation and the only ones who have any rights by law. The doflein themselves are split into two classes, the nobility known as keepers and the commoners. Keepers live lavishly, ruling over swaths of territory and forcing enslaved people to work it for them. While there is an internal hierarchy to the keepers, it is rarely relevant to non-keepers, serving instead as a pecking order of shifting loyalties and vassalage which largely seems to serve to keep the keepers in enough rivalries to prevent them from banding together to contest the power of the emperor. Even the poorest, lowest keepers possess a level of wealth that are several orders of magnitude higher than the average commoner.
Viewed without context, most Confederation citizens would seem at home in any other nation. They hold typical jobs, as traders, skilled artisans, scholars, and many other varieties of work. Most doflein within the Confederation would likely claim that they get no benefit from the practice of slavery, stating it to be a concern of the keepers alone. A closer examination of the situation reveals the falsehood of this claim. The most obvious case is that commoners, while disallowed from owning enslaved people directly, are often able to hire enslaved people from their owners to clean, cook, and do a variety of other manual labor at little cost compared to those charge by free people in other nations. Less apparent is that Confederation commoners need not conduct manual, unskilled, or dangerous labor such as mining, field work, or construction work. Instead, they are free to pursue less physically demanding work with much less competition. Additionally, they work far fewer hours than the average commoner in most other nations, have access to cheaper food and housing, and can spend a greater portion of their money on luxuries.
All Confederation citizens benefit from the institution of slavery, while those enslaved suffer tremendously. They are forced to endure backbreaking work, often with insufficient amounts of food, water, and healthcare. Their jobs and lives are completely at the whim of their enslavers, who can buy and sell them without concern for their individual needs. Families are often split apart, as the keepers hold the familial ties of those they enslave in little regard, ony caring in an effort to further their eugenic views. The enslaved people are treated by the Confederation, both keepers and commoners alike, as being unworthy of freedom and incapable of appreciating it even if they had it.
Despite how ingrained the institution of slavery is in Confederation society, a small but dedicated secret society of abolisionists exists, though their efforts are currently not systemic. They are too disorganized to effect widespread change, as even discussions of abolition are considered to be apostasy, a crime punishable by death. Thus they must remain in hiding, sharing their beliefs only in hidden meetings and communicating through hidden symbols, such as the display of pinwheels
. While they have occasionally managed to help individuals escape slavery, doing so requires a significant network of trust to get even a single person out. Many have ties to the small communities of doflein who live outside the Confederation.
Prehistory and Antiquity
The ancestors of the modern Confederation appeared on the realm Ernani roughly 10000 years ago, along with the other sapient species which share their realm. While the littori
had been gifted dominion over the largest continents, the doflein were left on a small island called Shprawǐraǔ, far off the coast of the northern continent Tsvawxto
. While the continents had far more space and resources to expand into, the island was isolated, free of danger, and fertile. The doflein established numerous settlements and began to show their devotion to the god that created them, whom they called the Prime. The core rituals and scriptures of their church were established at this point.
Time of Quisience
The doflein remember this period as the Time of Quiescence, as very little greatness was achieved in it. The doflein split into several different city-states, urban centers with politically affiliated rural communities. These city-states had only limited contact with each other, primarily facilitated through traveling merchants and war bands. Socially, it appears to have been dominated by two factors. The first was the church, which wielded enormous influence among the populace. However, the church was decentralized and individual parishes had little contact with each other. A governing body existed, but was relatively weak, unable to exert much power over its districts.
The second power was warlords. Originating among religious leaders, over the centuries, these powerful individuals grew more and more secular. They ruled the various city-states as their own, small kingdoms, occasionally attacking each other in an effort to extend their power. These warlords ruled solely through their own might, rather than any hereditary or religious right. The majority had their kingdoms collapse upon their deaths, though a few managed to establish short dynasties that lasted a few generations.
This state of existence continued for around 5000 years, ending with the foundation of the Doflein Confederation.
Around 5000 years ago, a highly religious warlord named Kengurn
initiated a war of conquest across the island from his city-state of Klùndo
. Though the aspects of Kengurn's life have become entangled with numerous myths surrounding him, several details are agreed on by even the most secular historians. Kengurn was highly charismatic and was backed by the church, which earned him widespread popularity among the populace. He conquered through diplomacy as much as with the blade, often offering opponents the opportunity to capitulate without bloodshed or risk to their own standing. While many refused his offer, a large number willingly bent their knees and proclaimed loyalty to his cause.
Within 50 years, Kengurn had conquered the entirety of the island and was crowned Emperor by the church. He named those warlords who had willingly submitted his keepers, firmly establishing a landed, hereditary nobility. He also merged the church and the government, placing his most religious keepers and loyal clergy on the new ruling council, which he named the Court of the Prime.
By centralizing the power of the church and so closely intertwining the religious and secular aspects of governance, Kengurn laid much of the foundation for the Confederation as it exists today. He also eliminated the fractures in the doflein, dismissing the old loyalties to individual city-states and instead unifying them as a single people. Freed from fears of conquest, doflein society was free to once again expand and grow.
First Golden Age
Under the reign of Kengurn, the doflein entered a period of peace and prosperity. At the emperor's order, they undertook several public works programs. They built flagstone paved roads that stretched from one end of the empire to the other, connecting every major city and several smaller villages to each other. Trade flourished, bringing wealth to all echelons of society. The emperor also mandated a census to be taken every five years. This census would lead to the establishment of the Book of Names, the largest part of Holy Scripture and most complete genealogical record in the Sora.
As the burdens of living eased, artistic expression blossomed. Several of the Confederation's greatest sculptors, composers, poets, and painters lived during this time. Several were eventually sainted, with their works canonized into Holy Scripture. Magic also underwent a revolution. A codified set of spells spread through the doflein, allowing for the establishment of organized wizard schools.
It is during this age that the first Great Manifestation occurred, when the Prime appeared and blessed Kengurn with the Ring of Dominion
, an artifact that provided the emperor with strength of mind and body. As the years passed, Emperor Kengurn remained healthy and hale, without seeming to age a day.
However, this golden age could not continue forever. Kengurn reputedly ruled in peace for two hundred years before the prosperous age was ended by the rise of an usurper named Shuubaǐ.
Shuubaǐ the Deceiver was a member of the Court of the Prime who managed to gain great sway with the keepers. Shuubaǐ greatly denigrated the emperor, spreading rumors repudiating his supposed immortality and divine connection to god. He spoke out against the Great Manifestation, saying it was a mere trick of the church to confound and placate the commoners.
Shuubaǐ managed to raise a popular rebellion against the emperor. He conquered nearly half of island before Emperor Kengurn managed to stall his advance. Locked in a stalemate with Shuubaǐ's armies, the emperor prayed to the Prime to deliver divine aid. When none came, he despaired, believing himself to be abandoned. Suddenly, the Ring of Dominion grew tarnished and the emperor aged all his years in a day. Reminded of the divinity of the Prime and the boons given to him, the emperor swore to regain the god's favor and destroy Shuubaǐ.
Despite his sudden frailty, Kengurn successfully turned the tide against Shuubaǐ. The forces of the Confederation battled the usurper for five years, finally routing Shuubaǐ and capturing him at the Battle of Jog’ǔxst. Shuubaǐ was brought before the emperor in chains and sacrificed on the altar of the Prime. Kengurn reportedly passed away that night, passing the crown to a successor chosen by the Court of the Prime.
Time of Serenity
After the end of Kengurn's reign, a number of other emperors took the throne in succession. They were drawn from the ranks of the Court of the Prime and, unlike Kengurn, were considered simply the first among equals. They led meetings and had some extra measure of influence, but they were practically unable to disagree with the majority rule of the Court.
The civil war left much of the Confederation devastated and depopulated. The doflein were at their weakest point since their genesis. Rebuilding was slow, but peaceful, carried mostly on the backs of the peasantry. Keepers and priests concentrated their power and, eventually, grew to become almost interchangeable. Many keepers were extensively versed in Holy Scripture and used their piety to further their influence over the lower classes. Peasants became concentrated in fiefs, working their keepers' land in exchange for theoretical protection from violence. However, as the entire island was united under a single ruler, the peasants had little to fear.
The stability of the Confederation allowed it to slowly advance. Innovation moved at a relatively leisurely pace, being limited mainly to agricultural achievements. Methods of growing, planting, and tilling allowed for bountiful harvests. Irrigation brought potable water across the Confederation, helping to limit disease and prevent famine. Even for the lowest commoners, life was hard but not harsh or painful.
Eventually, the Confederation began to reach a pressure point. The peace and agricultural progress led to a steadily increasing population. Around 3000 years ago, the island was suffering from overpopulation, a stagnating economy, and general unrest among the populace. Several peasant revolts broke out within the span of a decade, forcing the keepers to call up arms against the commoners. The church attempted to placate the common people, but tensions were reaching a breaking point.
The Confederation survived perhaps thanks to the arrival of the littori. One of the other natural species of Ernani, the littori had instead been granted dominion over Shuuljoots. Secular people, the littori had neither the religious fervor to bring them together nor the oppressive hand of the church to stifle freedom. Instead, the littori were primarily traders, merchants, and explorers, fractured among many different states.
The littori were the first outsiders to consistently visit the doflein. Though they had occasionally encountered fishermen or travelers blown off course from Tsvawxto, neither they nor their neighboring continent possessed the seafaring technology to make the journeys safely. The littori, on the other hand, were master seafarers, utilizing mutli-masted sailing ships to cross the treacherous seas in search of wealth.
The doflein were naturally suspicious of the littori from the start. The littori's secular ways clashed with the dogmatic doflein. The littori, however, saw the vast Confederation as a new source of profit and managed to tread carefully enough to establish trade with the doflein.
The littori began bringing in massive amounts of goods to the Confederation, trading them for doflein gold, works of art, foods and delicacies, and other valuables. The keepers benefited greatly and particularly enjoyed littori fabrics, spices, and wines. Several doflein purchased exotic littori animals and set up great menageries for their own amusement. At first, despite the initial unease, it seemed as if the two sides would manage to coexist peacefully.
However, the littori also brought their ideals and the chance of social movement and freedom that the Confederation lacked. Commoners, who had for centuries been bereft any way of escaping their lots in life, soon found littori eager to replace sailors and workers lost during voyages. Thousands of doflein commoners began to fill littori trade ships, bound for greener pastures on foreign continents. The Court of the Prime eventually realized the crippling effect this could have on the Confederation and that they would have to put a stop to it. However, they knew that they could not simply cut off contact with the littori entirely. The keepers and people alike would reject losing access to foreign goods. Instead, more drastic measures were needed.
Quoting scripture which placed the doflein as the supreme children of the Prime the emperor launched the Proclamation. He ordered an entire merchant fleet seized by his soldiers. The littori, unprepared for hostilities after fifty years of peace, were overwhelmed and captured by the doflein. Knowing that his people were unskilled in sailing, the emperor had the littori sailors impressed into the newly christened Doflein Navy. These sailors were the Confederation's first enslaved people, forced to sail their own ships against their fellow littori. When the doflein captured further littori ships, those crews were likewise forced into slavery.
The early years of the Proclomation did not go well for the doflein, as they were unused to warfare and sailing. However, the littori were comprised of many rival states, as opposed to the unified Doflein Confederation. Additionally, the littori were mostly uninterested in conquering the doflein, content to simply defeat them at sea and hope the Confederation would eventually capitulate. This only gave the doflein time to learn and grow stronger. Within a decade, their fleet had massively increased in size and the Confederation had its own sailors, well versed in seafaring and naval warfare. The Confederation began winning more and more of its engagements at sea, until the littori states were forced to take the doflein seriously as a threat. Unfortunately for them, they remained disunited, caught up more with old squabbles and grudges than they were in preventing their own conquest.
The doflein began making territorial gains on Shuuljoots, the nearer of the two littori continents. They initially pressed the conquered littori citizens into service, much as they had with the sailors before. Many of them were unfit for combat, however, and the sheer numbers of conquered people made it impossible for every able-bodied individual to be pressed into service. Instead, they enslaved them, first shipping them back to their home island for service, but eventually leaving them where they lived and simply forcing them to continue working their own lands as enslaved people for the Confederation.
The enslaved people were given to the most powerful and loyal keepers in the Confederation, as well as to the church and religious officials. Through this, the taking and ownership of enslaved people was firmly encoded in Holy Scripture, setting down laws and regulations that continue mostly unchanged to the present day.
Despite the gains made by the doflein on Shuuljoots, the Proclamation eventually became bogged down. The littori states finally banded together to combat a common foe. They fought back ferociously against the doflein, stalling their advance and forcing them into a stalemate. They were unable to push the doflein back, but the doflein were similarly unable to make any additional gains for quite some time.
With their path across Shuuljoots blocked, the doflein looked back to Tsvawxto. By now fully in the fervor of the Proclamation, the doflein viewed any who did not worship the same as they did to be heretics and the enemy of the Confederation and the Prime. Several different groups lived on Tsvawxto, including several tribes of related nomadic warriors called the brachids. These nomads had been in contact with the littori even before the doflein and relations between the two groups had been bloody. They were considered uncivilized barbarians by the littori, while they saw the littori as weak and unwelcome outsiders.
Naturally, the doflein and the brachids initially clashed. The doflein conquered several of the tribes, pressing them into slavery much as they had the littori. However, these enslaved people were both eager for combat and fascinated with the doflein religion. The doflein soon realized it had a potential ally on its hands and approached the remaining tribes with open arms.
Playing off their mutual hate for the littori, the doflein promised them equality in their society and offered their leaders positions as keepers if they would willingly convert to the doflein religion. A large number of brachids agreed, becoming willing soldiers on the front lines of the Proclamation. Those few who refused were subsequently conquered by their former fellows and enslaved. With their forces bolstered by the brachids, the doflein broke the stalemate with the littori. Slowly but surely, they began grinding the littori states to dust, eventually conquering the entirety of Shuuljoots roughly 2000 years ago.
Time of Short Calm
In the conquest of Shuuljoots, the brachids had taken heavy losses. By the time the littori had been fully conquered, the brachid were in no position to resist when the Confederation enslaved the rest of them. The doflein had conquered Shuuljoots, Tsvawxto, and their home island. The Confederation was massive, covering a third of the realm. Holding the Confederation together became a massive logistical challenge. The Court of the Prime still ruled from Architeut, but its reach was limited.
The first great keeper families began to truly emerge during this time. Families were given vast territories to rule over, each with their own subservient keepers who in turn commanded many other lesser keepers, in a labyrinthine system of vassalage. Their rule was almost independent of the Court of the Prime, though they all owed fealty to the Court in theory, and ruled only by their pleasure. As many were members of the Court themselves, it served them to maintain this state of affairs, so outright rebellions were exceedingly rare.
Unlike previous transitional periods, this age was not one of stagnation by the Confederation. Instead, it utilized its peace and the talents of its conquered enslaved people to the fullest degree. The Confederation was the strongest it had ever been and was ready to return to conquest.
Final Conquest of Ernani
After another 400 years, the Confederation was hungry for new conquests. The Confederation controlled the western hemisphere of Ernani, but the eastern hemisphere remained unconquered and mostly uncontacted. Only a few brave traders and explorers had made the journey across the turbulent oceans, but they had returned with stories of primitive and godless peoples who lived in cities of gold and platinum.
The emperor decided it was time to recommence the Proclamation and ordered a fleet of Doflein Navy vessels to cross the ocean. The journey was long and treacherous, with a third of the fleet being lost at sea. The force that reached land found themselves on a continent they named Shtǒsyaapt. Shtǒsyaapt was neither as primitive nor as rich as the stories had made it out to be, but the force established a beachhead and conquered the natives they had discovered.
Over the following centuries, the doflein slowly subjugated Shtǒsyaapt and the other eastern lands. Roughly 600 years ago, the doflein had conquered the entirety of Ernani. With the realm fully under one rule, the doflein turned their eyes to the sky.
Expansion into the Sora
The Early Years
With all of the known world conquered, the doflein wondered if they had conquered everything in existence. The greatest doflein mages began to probe the very nature of existence, eventually coming to realize that their world was surrounded by a swirling maelstrom of elemental chaos. What lay beyond, they knew not. Some suspected that the realm of divinity lay there, that by piercing the veil they could ascend to the side of the Prime itself. Others thought that, much as their own world had been formed from the elemental chaos by the Prime, that other realms would be out there as well. Many believed the chaos continued forever.
In 12 PC, the doflein uncovered the secrets of soraflight. Their first soracraft were clumsy, slow, and inelegant. Without knowledge of the eddies, many early flights were destroyed only a few short hours away from Ernani, consumed by fire, sails torn off by crashing waves, or smashed upon gigantic rocks. It took another 50 years before they had fully mastered soraflight and managed to escape their home realm into the expanse.
It took until 53 PC before the doflein reached their first foreign realm. It was a wild, untamed disc world, full of life but empty of any civilizations. The doflein declared it a bounty, a gift from the Prime for their piety and devotion. Thus they quickly sent a convoy of settlers and enslaved people to the realm, establishing their first colony. They found the realm bountiful and rich, easy to exploit. Their enslaved people tilled the soil and mined the earth, producing significant wealth to the Confederation.
Encouraged by the discovery of a rich realm, the doflein pushed further out into the Sora, searching for even more worlds to conquer. They found many, some with life, some barren and empty, of all shapes and sizes. The one thing they didn't find was intelligent life, causing the doflein to believe they were the only civilization in existence.
Discovery of Toren
In 65 AC, the doflein uncovered ancient relics on one of the realms they settled. These relics were old and strange, something the doflein had no idea what to do with. They realized they were not natural, however, and clearly were not created by doflein tentacles. The doflein came up with numerous theories to explain these relics. The most popular was that the relics had been placed there by the Prime, to be found by the doflein as rewards. These theories stated that the cryptic nature of the relics was so that only the most pious, those who most understood the Prime and thus could understand the relics, would be able to use them. Others thought the relics were a sign that other species existed in the Sora, only to have died off and left the relics as the scant evidence of their existence. This theory was declared heretical by the Court, as it implied that the doflein had not been the first species to come into existence.
The existence of other species was confirmed when the Confederation came across the realm of Toren in 121 AC. This sphere realm was inhabited by several species which were completely alien to the doflein; humans
, and dwarves
particularly. Though common throughout the Sora, the doflein had never seen such people before, but realized their civilizations meant they were intelligent. The Confederation believed these others were clearly inferior to the doflein, thus could not be favored by the Prime. The emperor called for the realm's conquest, mustering their army and invading the realm.
The natives were unprepared for the invaders and, thanks to old internal rivalries, were not quick enough in banding together to muster a significant defense. Even so, they fought fiercely for their freedom, inflicting significant casualties on the invaders. Though many perished in the fighting, the doflein pressed the survivors into slavery and parceled out the realm to newly raised keepers.
Realizing that if there was one other realm with intelligent species in the cluster, there were likely more, the doflein quickly spurred their exploration of the Sora forward. Spearheaded by the naval exploration forces, the Confederation encountered dozens of realms filled with life but lacking the technological and magical advancements of the Confederation. They conquered these realms entirely, forcing the natives into slavery and essentially eradicating their cultures from the history books.
The speed of the doflein expansion caused significant internal strain on the Confederation. Their borders expanded much quicker than their ability to police their territory did. Criminals and heretical groups established themselves on smaller, less worthwhile realms that the Confederation had bypassed. Populations of escaped enslaved people commandeered soraships and began making raids on colonies, freeing their fellows and unifying against their doflein masters.
Additionally, far from the central power of the Court of the Prime, the more powerful keeper families began to grow independent and resentful of distant control. Several small rebellions broke out during this time, as individual families attempted to break away, banking on their remoteness to protect them. Though the Confederation eventually put down all rebellions, some managed to survive for several decades before they could be properly broken.
Era of Peace
After nearly a century of expansion through the Sora, the doflein had carved out significant territory for themselves. They continued to be plagued by internal unrest, but it was minor in the grand scheme of things. They considered themselves the mightiest people in the entirety of creation, as they had encountered no others as advanced or powerful as they were. But this situation was not to remain. During this period, they officially changed the name of their empire to the Confederation of Doflein Realms, reflecting their broad expansion into the Sora.
The doflein stumbled across the Daren Hegemony
in 218 PC. First contact was established between two scouting ships. The Confederation scout was completely surprised to stumble across a sorafaring vessel and took a cautious posture. The Hegemony, who were used to seeing other empires by this time, attempted to communicate, but the doflein ship rebuffed all attempts. Eventually, the Hegemony ship withdrew and the doflein, fearing a trap, fled.
Faced with an entity of unknown strength, the doflein immediately put out the call to its ships to take a cautious approach to further contact. The two sides had rare encounters over the following years, but it took nearly a decade before the two sides managed to communicate. Both quickly realized the other side was powerful, but held views they considered abhorrent. The Hegemony demanded the Confederation stay away from their territory, also warning them against their tendency to invade and conquer more primitive realms.
Shortly after establishing open communication with the Hegemony, the doflein encountered the Kamakari Mandate
in 230 PC. Thanks to the experience of meeting the Hegemony, this went far more smoothly. The psionic powers of the kamakari enabled them to communicate with the doflein easily. As the doflein had never encountered any psionic species before, they reacted with fear and confusion, quickly withdrawing and trying to keep away from Mandate territory.
Though the Dranomyr Archive had been in contact with the Mandate and Hegemony for several decades prior, it was not until 237 PC ago that they appeared to the doflein. The Archive simply made itself known to the doflein, but did nothing to attempt to engage them diplomatically other than to provide their standard demands of non-interference in primitive worlds.
The doflein were intrigued by the seeming inaction of the dranomyr. Their scouts reported only scattered settlements and populations, with little in the way of a navy or other armed forces. Compared to the massive Hegemony and psionically powered Mandate, the Archive appeared to be weak. Additionally, the doflein learned the Archive only maintained loose contact with either of the other two empires they were aware of. With the confidence of the people shaken by the defensive posture taken after contact with the Hegemony and Mandate, the doflein were hungry for conquest.
Having encountered three separate empires, each inhabited by peoples the doflein considered heretics, the more zealous keepers demanded a new Proclomation. These voices grew over the century following its encounters with other empires, eventually growing loud enough that they could no longer be ignored. The Doflein Emperor considered each of the three empires. The Hegemony was considered too powerful, their soraships certainly matching the numbers and capabilities of the doflein ships. The doflein continued to fear the Kamakari psionic powers, especially as their lepicephs
were a complete unknown. That left the Dranomyr Archive.
In the years since the Archive had first contacted the Confederation, they had done little to change the perception they were weak and powerless. Though the crystalles
were an unknown, the doflein knew the Archive did not have many of them, only maintaining a small navy. The dranomyr also seemed to be physically weak to the doflein, much weaker than many of the species the doflein had already enslaved.
In 362 PC, the Confederation sent a fleet toward Archive territory, expecting to swiftly overrun the border realms and claim numerous dranomyr enslaved people. As they neared the eddy that would carry them to their first target, they encountered a solitary crystallis blocking their path. Believing that their estimations of Archive weakness to be correct, the doflein pressed forward, aiming their forward rams at the crystallis. Mere moments before their ships would have impacted, they exploded in a ball of flames. The other doflein ships had no idea what happened, not able to comprehend that their ships could be destroyed in such a way. The trailing ships turned toward the crystallis, which held back no longer, firing its arcane rays at the attackers.
One by one, the doflein ships were reduced to ash, virtually indistinguishable from the background Sora. The last few remaining ships, understanding that they could not fight back, turned to flee. Of the fifty ships sent by the doflein, only seven returned to Confederation territory. The Doflein Emperor, unable to comprehend what had occurred, angrily demanded the crew of those ships, slave, commoner, and keeper alike, executed for their incompetence.
Soon after, an envoy from the Dranomyr Archive arrived, boldly walking into the emperor’s throne room without fear. He informed the emperor that the Confederation was to cease its aggressive expansion and obey the mandates laid down by the Archive to refrain from interfering with primitive realms. The envoy promised that, should the Confederation ignore these demands, then it would not simply be one fleet that the Archive would destroy.
Cowed and humiliated, the Confederation surrendered, promising to obey the Archive’s commands. The envoy vanished before their eyes, leaving the doflein terrified.
The Confederation continue to adhere to the letter of the Archive demands, though as time has passed they have bristled more and more against it. It’s only thanks to the decrees of the emperor, the same one who reigned during the disastrous invasion, that they have refrained from taking any aggressive action. Today, the Confederation maintains tense, but neutral, relations with its neighbors. Officially, enslavement has been restricted to criminals and pirates captured by the Doflein Navy, though “unauthorized” raiders have begun making incursions into the territory of other empires, attacking traders and poorly defended realms. The Court of the Prime officially denies knowledge of these raiders, claiming them to be illegal criminals acting without sanction.
The only individuals with political power in the Confederation are the keepers, who are divided into five major schools of political thought. These schools differ in mostly minor ways, being aligned along the major concerns and goals of the Confederation. All five support the institution of slavery, the concept of doflein supremacy, belief in the Prime as the sole authentic god, and other such central dogmatic elements of the empire. In that sense, the Confederation is politically more unified than other nations, though the outward picture thinly covers the intense rivalries between and within each group. The schools are primarily differentiated by what concerns they want the Confederation to focus the most energy on.
The largest and oldest school is the Elders (Shuulzaǔawùrn), who largely concern themselves with promoting the grandeur of the Confederation. They do this through sponsoring the arts, erecting audacious monuments, and building up the worlds the doflein already occupy. They largely support the status quo and are content with the official pause on enslavement by the Confederation, reasoning that a steady patience will eventually bring the empire to the strength it needs to restart the Proclomation.
The second school is the Zealots (’Ǔchyalpstǔst), whose concern is on religious matters. They engage in ostentacious displays of religious piety, devoting themselves to learning and quoting scripture. Much like the Elders, they sponsor arts and monuments, though they are more explicitly religious. However, they are less accepting of the current state of the Confederation, believing it to have become too secular and lacking in moral fiber since the expansion into the Sora. It does not directly call for a resumption of the Proclomation, instead believing that the Confederation will be capable of restarting it much more quickly if they can only regain their diminished fervor.
The third school is the Belligerents (Aǔntsaǔxengst), who believe the Confederation have become too passive and insular. Adherents contend either that the Confederation surrendered to the Archive too quickly or that in the half-century since have gained the necessary prowess to challenge the other sorafaring powers. They are advocates of restarting the Proclomation immediately. While few openly desire to attack primitive realms, they consider the other empires to be fair game. They mostly promote attacking the Heshian Syndicate, believing it to be the weakest and with only tenuous alliances with others.
The fourth school are the Traders (Mawǐbaǐuurn), the only one which believes the Confederation should be more open to foreign powers. While they continue to believe that other species are inferior, they acknowledge that the other sorafaring empires are powerful and have thriving economies. They see great benefit in easing trade between the Confederation and other empires, hoping to bring foreign goods and luxuries into the Confederation while exporting cheap commodities to others. They reason that their use of enslaved labor will let them undercut the prices others charge for raw materials, if only barriers to trade were lowered. They do not openly speak against the Proclomation, but most reason that economic conquest is as good as a military one while spilling far less doflein blood.
The fifth and final school are the Supplicators (Kihawǐuurn), a somewhat denigrating term bestowed upon them by their political rivals which has in turn been adopted as a badge of pride. This group of keepers focuses most of their energy and wealth on improving the lives of their subjects by building public works, engaging in charity, and pursuing improved living conditions for all doflein. While some consider them to be squandering their Prime-given rights on less worthy commoners, the Supplicators argue that improving the lives of their subjects in turn leads to greater happiness, more productivity, a healthier economy, and more money flowing into the pockets of the keepers. Their largress does not extend to those they have enslaved, however, being content to improve their subjects' lives at the expense of the non-doflein.
These schools are loose affiliations and do not represent actual power blocs. There exists no real structured political factions in the Confederation, either formal or otherwise. Instead, keepers maintain webs of alliances and agreements between each other as they try to manuever, scheme, and politick their way into greater power. Court intrigue is virtually a national passtime, with even commoners engaging in gossip and discussing which keepers are trying to steal power from others and how. This backroom dealing can occasionally boil into open conflict, engaging in wars more akin to the fighting between criminal gangs than actual warfare. Such fighting is usually tolerated for a time, though once it begins to cause too much disruption either the emperor or higher-ranking keepers will step in to put an end to it.
The Confederation is a theocratic empire, governed by nobles known as the keepers
who submit to the central authority of the Doflein Emperor
. The emperor serves as both head of state and head of religion, though has little to do with the day-to-day functions of either.
Ruling from the doflein home realm of Ernani, the Doflein Emperor is viewed as nearly a demigod by his people. The beneficiary of a multitude of life-extending spells, the emperor is just short of a lich; not quite undead, but no longer truly a mortal either. The current emperor has ruled for 500 years; the doflein only developed soraflight 350 years ago.
In theory, the emperor's rule is unchallenged and absolute. In practice, however, he typically only has influence when personally present. Instead, he issues commands which are then carried out by a number of subordinate officials, governmental bodies, and vassals. While the emperor can make decisions that run counter to the wishes of his subordinates, he does not do so without assuming some measure of risk. The emperor must instead carefully balance the wishes of numerous rival factions against one another, keeping them all happy enough that a majority do not act to undermine his rule. The history of the Confederation is spotted with ineffective emperors who, through failure to keep subordinates appeased, became relegated to little more than figureheads.
The emperor has numerous roles within the government of the Confederation. He is both sovereign of the doflein state as well as the leader of the doflein religion and draws authority from both secular and divine authority. The emperor has often been termed a “god-emperor” because of his connection with the Prime, but no emperor has claimed to be an actual deity or hold any special divinity. Instead, the emperor is thought of as the mouthpiece of the Prime in the mortal world, carrying out the Prime's rule.
The keeper class makes up an expansive, byzantine hierarchy that sits below the emperor. In some senses, the keepers can be thought of as simply emperors on a small scale. They possess many of the same general powers as the emperor does, though they are far more restricted and must adhere to the whims of the emperor himself. However, the majority of keepers are much more hands-on in their approach to governance than the emperor and are personally responsible for more mundane aspects of rule.
In general, keepers can be grouped into three basic strata, though these are rough approximations and may vary greatly from region to region and even realm to realm. At the top, just below the emperor himself, are keepers that maintain authority over clusters or other ad hoc groupings of realms. These keepers are present across the Confederation, except in core realms with higher populations. In some cases, they oversee closely located realms, though others may have, through rewards or political maneuvering, gained authority over disparate fief-granting titles.
Roughly equivalent to these keepers are those who oversee individual realms. While seen as direct vassals of the emperor, they are occasionally unofficially obligated to submit to the authority of keepers who control clusters. However, many of these keepers can shrewdly utilize their own power to put themselves on nearly-equal footing with their more-entitled brethren. Additionally, in the more populated core worlds of the Confederation, a keeper who oversees a single realm may be richer, more powerful, more influential, and have greater prestige than a keeper who oversees several realms in less traveled clusters. The constant politicking and maneuvering between the two makes up much of the court intrigue within the Confederation.
Below these two groups are the realmside keepers. These keepers rule over individual fiefs on a realm, ruling over continents or other small parcels of land. A rare arrangement of keepers occurs in some areas, where a single realm governor is atop a group of continental keepers, who may also sit above a group of even lesser keepers who control a small parcels of land. This tends to occur mainly in older realms, where centuries of shifting alliances and politics have been allowed to weave a complicated web.
The final, lowest tier of keepers are those who own a small part of land or minor realms. They have little influence over the Confederation government as a whole and are rarely able to exert great will over their own domains. When lucky enough to hold dominance over a city or important minor realms, they can manage to collect taxes and institute laws and regulations, but those who simply own a large plantation or collection of hamlets must instead act more similarly to wealthy businessmen than government officials.
Laws and Criminal Justice
Laws in the Confederation are fairly typical, though only the doflein have legal rights. Non-doflein have no legal recourse in the Confederation, though keepers who are dealing with foreigners for some reason (such as for trade) often extend their protection over them, meaning any harm inflicted upon the foreigner is treated as harm against the keeper. Aside from this, the most unusual laws of the Confederation are those dealing with religious crimes, ranging from serious matters such as heresy to minor offenses such as failure to properly recite prayers. A significant portion of Confederation legal code deals with enforcing strict adherence to the letter of Scripture.
The Confederation has a convoluted legal system, split between a secular court, a religious court, and the keeper courts, each with overlapping and often contradictory jurisdictions. By tradition, the keeper courts are the first line for legal matters. Keepers have jurisdiction over their entire demesne, hearing both criminal and civil complaints. They have broad discretion to rule as they please, issuing whatever judgements they see fit for the case in question. The keepers themselves are expected to hear the entire case, both evidence presented and arguments from the advocates of all sides. This often leads to an extremely high backlog of cases, often times with with them waiting for years to be heard in larger demesnes.
Due to this, many with civil complaints have turned to the secular courts for relief. These courts are a relatively recent invention within the Confederation, having only been put into place in 328 PC. These courts are better staffed and are able to have a number of judges as opposed to the singular keeper, allowing numerous cases to be heard within each jurisdiction at the same time. However, these courts lack any real binding authority, relying instead on the willingness of all parties to accept the outcome. Theoretically, this acceptance is enforced by the signing of contracts between both parties, but as keepers are actually responsible for determining if these contracts are enforced. If one party disagrees strongly enough with the decision of a secular court, they can appeal to the keeper court for relief. Those who do risk having alienating the secular court, ensuring that they must instead sit in the queue of the keeper courts which might mean relief does not come for years.
Sitting at the top of the hierarchy are the religious court. Backed by the Court of the Prime, the religious courts rule on disputes between keepers, crimes committed by and against keepers, and any appeals from keeper courts. Making these appeals are a difficult and lengthy process, typically only possible with those who have significant resources such as wealthy merchants or non-keeper nobles. Keepers can also refer cases they do not wish to hear to the religious courts, though the religious courts can kick them back to the keeper if the case does not meet their standards of importance. This often leads to contentious cases bouncing back and forth from keeper court to religious court, back to keeper court, being handed off to the secular court, then being appealed back to the keeper court, where it is once again passed to the religious court.
While the rulings of religious courts are supposed to be binding, it is up to keepers to enforce their rulings. Keepers can and do ignore or even contradict rulings from the religious courts, relying on the lack of an enforcement mechanism from the court to shield them. In some situations, the cases are considered too unimportant for the courts to follow up on and the keeper's will prevails. If the court wishes to press the matter, they must find ways to rectify the situation. If a keeper has a vassal lord, they can ask them to intervene. If the keeper has a proclivity for ignoring court orders, they may excommunicate the keeper, giving their overlord an opportunity to arrest and punish them, and any underlings the opportunity to rebel and attempt to seize power. Relatives of the keeper may also be called upon to act, most frequently through usurping their title.
Ultimately, the emperor holds ultimate authority over all judicial matters in the Confederation. They can overrule any judgement issued by any court and order keepers stripped of their titles for disobedience. Such involvement is rare, however. Typically only the most powerful and influential keepers can get their grievances aired before the emperor, leading to no more than a handful of cases every decade.
The Confederation exists to expand the worship of the Prime and the political power of the Doflein Emperor. They seek out new realms to conquer and exploit. In the early years of their expansion, they conquered indiscriminately, settling on uninhabited realms and taking enslaved people from both sorafaring and realmbound societies alike. Following a brief, disastrous conflict with the Dranomyr Archive, the Confederation was forced to stop from attacking any more realmbound worlds. Even so, the doflein have continued to conduct raids across the Sora, keeping a veneer of respectability by focusing on pirates and other criminals. Rumors abound that the doflein attack poorly defended sorafaring realms and purchase enslaved people from black markets. Whenever full proof of such activities are uncovered, the doflein typically blame it on rogue keepers as a way to deflect responsibility. The Confederation maintains uneasy truces with its neighbors, many of whom maintain more powerful navies than the doflein. The Confederation would love nothing more than to invade a weak neighbor and enslave their entire population, but realizes this would likely end in retribution from all other realms.
The Confederation proper consists of 217 realms and 328 minor realms. These realms are divided into 8 themes, each roughly the same in number of realms, grouped approximately by distance. The themes are further subdivided into clusters, which are realms in fairly close proximity to one another. Each of these divisions is ruled over by a keeper. In addition to the core territory of the Confederation, the doflein have laid claim to a dozen other realms scattered throughout the Sora. Many of these realms are in the Neahmidath
region, which has begun being colonized in the last century. The Confederation was late to the region and has thus struggled to gain a real foothold in the area.
Trade and Economy
Confederation industry is dominated by the influence of the keeper class. Keepers are the primary business owners in the Confederation, with most of the largest businesses in the Confederation being owned at least in part by keepers. Many of the smaller regional and realmside businesses are also owned by keepers, who control virtually all industries through ownership of the businesses involved, though many have little day-to-day involvement in their running.
The Confederation's three largest business sectors are agricultural, mining, and manufacturing. The majority of labor in these sectors comes from enslaved people, with only small numbers of commoners involved, most often as overseers and drivers, only on extremely small scales as actual laborers.
Agriculture has always been incredibly important to the Confederation to feed both its populace and its enslaved people. Combined with its unwillingness to import food from the other empires due to a variety of dietary and religious restrictions, the Confederation must produce virtually all of its own food. Most agriculture is conducted through manual labor, with little in the way of magic or constructs to aid the slave labor.
Because the Confederation is willing to send enslaved people to inhospitable realms, it has access to large amounts of mineral resources. The majority of the Confederation's mineral wealth is utilized inside the Confederation itself. The Confederate Fleet is the largest single user of the minerals, as it must often replace or repair aging ships, construct new ones, and furnish its troops with weaponry.
Most of the remaining minerals goes toward maintaining the extensive infrastructure of the Confederation. As the Confederation favors tradition and relics, it pours incredible amounts of money and resources into keeping its most ancient buildings and landmarks in good repair. The often ostentatious displays require many rare and expensive minerals to keep in peak condition, thus draining the Confederation of its most valuable mineral resources.
Other industries in the Confederation rely heavily on its mining backbone, particularly its manufacturing industry. The majority of Imperial goods are constructed from materials mined by enslaved people.
As with most things, the Confederation manufactures most of its own goods, doing little importing of foreign output. This has oftentimes caused it to lag, particularly behind the Heshian Syndicate
, in terms of overall luxury and quality of their goods. For day-to-day objects such as tools and furniture, the Confederation is often considered second tier to the other empires.
However, this isolation also keeps the manufacturing sector internally strong. Though unable to compete with Syndicate for reach, Confederate manufacturers tend to turn healthy profits relative to their size, as doflein prefer (and often have no choice but) to buy goods manufactured inside the Confederation.
The one area the Confederation is strong in is fabrics. It is particularly famed for its silk, which is considered exceptionally lustrous and sturdy. While most clothing created by the doflein is not usable by other species, their raw fabrics are prized by tailors throughout the Sora.
Not only a source of labor, slavery is an industry in itself within the Confederation. Trillions of grackles change hands every year in direct relation to the slave industry. Though the industry, in a contained fashion, isn't as large as the preceding three, it is vitally connected to each. Not only do enslaved people provide most of the manual labor in those industries, the slave industry also requires large amounts of food, minerals, and equipment to properly function.
In some senses, this is a self-fulfilling cycle, as more enslaved people mean more needs, which means more work must be done, which means more enslaved people are needed. This, as well as a perceived inefficiency in utilizing manual labor over other means, has led to criticism of the slavery industry from a purely economic standpoint. Ignoring the social and religious implications, the doflein often respond that adjusting a process which has worked for millennia would have massive costs which could potentially crash the Confederate economy entirely.
The Confederation trades fairly little with other empires, its main trading partners being the Daren Hegemony
. It mainly trades its excess minerals, food, and fabrics for items it is less proficient in making, such as tools, furniture, and any sort of fine craft. The Confederate Fleet patrols the trade lanes, protecting them from pirates.
The Confederation started as a very homogeneous nation on their homeworld, being inhabited entirely by doflein. This situation persisted for roughly 3500 years, until a party of littori explorers landed on their island home. The doflein soon launched a systematic conquest of the littori. During this time, the doflein also encountered the brachid people and absorbed them into the Confederation. By the time they discovered soraflight, the doflein had conquered and enslaved all others on their realm. Soon after expanding into the Sora, the Confederation encountered other inhabited realms. Recognizing these creatures as intelligent but lacking faith in the Prime, the doflein began attacking and enslaving them. This has brought dozens of different species into the Confederation, all as chattel enslaved people.
Currently, the population of the Confederation stands at roughly 500 billion individuals. The vast majority are not doflein, who are a minority within their own empire. Only 12% (60 billion) of all inhabitants of the Confederation are doflein, though only they are full citizens. The rest of the populace are enslaved people, the largest group (33% or 165 billion) being brachids, with small percentages of humans, elves, dwarves, goblins, varanids
, and many others.
The sole legally recognized language in the Confederaton is Hewirski
, the native tongue of the doflein. They do not, by tradition, teach it to non-doflein, who find it difficult to properly pronounce many words regardless. This includes enslaved people, who the doflein allow to continue speaking whatever language they knew before. The enslaved people have developed a pidgin that takes words from doflein and hundreds of other languages, most of them extinct in their native form. This pidgin often has significant differences between different groups of enslaved people depending on their backgrounds, though there is usually enough intelligibility between dialects for individuals transproted between groups to communicate and quickly pick up the local version.
Those doflein who regularly interact with foreigners typically pick up their language. A significant number of doflein interpreters exist to facilitate communication between keepers and foreign traders.
The Court of the Prime is the official state religion of the Confederation and is the only legal religion allowed within the empire. In fact, all inhabitants of the Confederation are required to actively practice the religion, including attending daily prayers, observing all religious festivals, and participating in regular rites. enslaved people are required to participate in self-flagellation rituals as well. Failure to practice is a severe crime in the Confederation, punishable by enslavement for doflein and flogging for enslaved people. Apostasy, which the doflein consider to be even the acknowledgement of other religions much less practicing them, is considered the most serious crime in the Confederation, punishable by death.
The doflein have established numerous learning institutions across their territory. These are not schools as familiar to many other species. Instead, they are unstructured combinations of religious sermons and educational lectures. These discourses are delivered by specialized priests who have passed several tests given by the church to confirm their knowledge of various subjects. For the most part, these presentations are rarely structured or contain any sort of organized curriculum. Instead, they tend to be up to the whims of the priest giving the lecture for the day. Many commoner doflein children are sent to these institutions during the day while their parents work, assuming they are in a settlement large enough. Commoners thus tend to have a very broad, but not deep education, greatly conflated with religious tracts.
The children of keepers receive much more structured education from tutors. These tutors tend to be enslaved people who have a large degree of knowledge and rely on numerous texts created by the doflein. When a particularly knowledgeable individual is enslaved, they tend to command a high price from keepers who want new tutors. The tutors frequently have apprentices who learn alongside the doflein they teach. These apprentices are also enslaved people, being trained to tutor future generations.
Aside from these tutors, other enslaved people receive no education beyond what they require to do their daily toil.
The Confederation Fleet consists of approximately 2000 soraships of various classes. The majority are coleoids
; large, powerful, heavily armored soraships
piloted by a doflein with multiple enslaved people used as boosters. These ships defend doflein territory by ramming hostile ships at high speeds, smashing them apart or at least dealing heavy damage. Most of the remaining ships are chleana
, smaller, swifter corvettes armed with grapples, enabling them to hold down foes and board them at leisure. Chleana are supposedly used as interceptors and pursuit ships, but the doflein have been accused of using them to conduct piracy and slave raids. Confederation ships are crewed mostly by enslaved people, with doflein officers. Enslaved crews are generally treated fairly well, often having better living quarters and receiving better meals than other enslaved people, helping to earn loyalty and obedience. Despite this, they are considered expendable by the doflein, sent in first in boarding actions to wear down foes.
In addition to the Fleet, keepers maintain their own small personal fleets. These fleets, which range in size from a single ship to a few dozen. They are usually not as well armed and armored as Fleet ships and their crews tend to be less disciplined and not as well trained. In many senses, they are puffed up bodyguards, security details, and mercenaries, their loyalty lasting only as long as they are well paid and well treated.