The Republic of Arkron
, also called the Arkronian Republic or just Arkron, is a human nation on Tashur
. Situated on the inner edge of the realm's top-north side, the Republic is one of the more important nations on the realm, being home to Hyathe Peak
, the sole soraport on Tashur. Additionally, the nation borders the Hecaton Sea
to the south, giving it access to sea shipping routes across the northern quarter of the realm, and sits atop the Erebian Tunnel
which leads to Okolube
on the bottom of Tashur. A republic, Arkron is ruled by an elected council called the Arkronian Assembly
, making it one of the few democratic nations in the entirety of the Sora. While populated primarily by humans, Arkron is also home to a diverse population of immigrants, mainly inauri
The Republic is a representative democracy, governed by a council called the Arkronian Assembly which is composed of representatives from each of the great cities: Arkron, Hyathe Peak, Spatha, Helle, Macene, Tithe, Thellas, Lycameus, Minoa, Platus, Aristrus, Pythia, Apallon, Thera, Pallus, Nikos, Ethius, Knosus, Kormonenos, Bassilis, Hittus, Aesos, Sarda, Lythia, Heliod, Diogenes, Sparinth, Thales, Ionus, and Xerallon. These representatives, called assemblymen, are elected by the citizens of the cities in a popular vote. Any citizen of a city may stand for election. The assemblymen sit for life, or until they are recalled by their citizens. Recall elections are rare, though political opponents of assemblymen often make attempts to start them. The longest-serving assemblyman is the Chancellor and serves as the head of the Assembly. The role is mostly ceremonial, acting as only the deciding vote in the event of ties and being responsible for calling sessions of the Assembly to order.
Each great city is responsible for governing an area surrounding them. These cities, and their outlying towns, each elect their own city assemblies as well. The sizes of these assemblies vary from city to city depending on their size and population. The smallest, the Council of Knosus, has only 12 assemblymen, while the largest, the Council of Arkron, has 105. Most are in between, with around 40 assemblymen. Only Hyathe Peak, as the newest of the great cities, lacks a city assembly. It is governed directly by the Arkronian Assembly.
The lands which the Republic now controls have been inhabited for thousands of years. The Republic traces its history back to the founding of the city of Arkron two thousand years ago. According to legend, the first settlers of Arkron were fleeing the destruction of their home by a powerful warlord. The leader of the refugees, a man named Arkros, spotted a phoenix flying through the sky. Believing that the phoenix, a holy symbol of the Pillar of Ashan
, was a sign of good fortune, he ordered his people to follow it, figuring it would lead the refugees to safety. The phoenix, however, flew through the day and night for three whole days, leaving the refugees exhausted. Finally, on the fourth day, the refugees spotted the phoenix's nest on the top of a nearby hill. As they began to ascend, the warlord's soldiers caught up with them and surrounded the hill. Arkros told the refugees to keep following the phoenix and went to face the soldiers armed only with a pitchfork and a walking stick.
Arkros was quickly cut down, but his sacrifice gave the refugees enough time to reach the phoenix's nest. When it did not attack them, the warlord's soldiers grew brave and charged up the hill. As they neared, the phoenix turned its solar ray on them, burning them to ashes. The phoenix then flew off, leaving the settlers behind. The settlers decided to settle on the spot, naming their city Arkron, after the hero who led them to safety. They built a temple to the phoenix, sheltering its nest.
The lands surrounding Arkron proved to be fertile and rich. Not only did the crops grow quickly and plentifully, but there were expansive forests teeming with game. Within a few generations, the small band of refugees had grown to a bustling town of over a thousand. While they had been sheltered from the outside by the dense, lush forests, increasingly they sent out scouts and traders to interact with the outside world. This in turn brought more settlers to the town, which caused strife as numerous disagreements arose. The people of Arkron realized they needed someone to lead them, thus they selected a descendant of Arkros's only surviving kin as their king.
The king set down laws defining the rights of citizens and outsiders, setting taxes, and establishing an army. Most importantly, the king decreed that the army should only be used for defense, never conquest. This meant that Arkron stayed out of the numerous conflicts that engulfed the city-states of the region and enabled the refugees from these wars to come to Arkron, settle peacefully, and become loyal, productive citizens. Within a hundred years, this had enabled Arkron to swell to nearly ten thousand inhabitants. Now a full city-state on its own, many others viewed Arkron with jealousy.
The first threat to its sovereignty came from the city of Helle, who marched on the city with a thousand soldiers. When they arrived at the city, however, they found the outlying farms abandoned, the fields stripped of crops, the animals slaughtered and butchered, and the gates of the city closed. Helle laid siege to the city, but found its walls impenetrable. Each night, the defenders on the wall would build large cooking fires, roast delectable meats, and drink wine. The smells and sounds of the revelry reached the besieging soldiers, who were forced to eat plain rations, drink ordinary water, and sleep on the hard ground.
While the occasional volley of arrows, javelins, and sling stones were exchanged, only a few minor injuries were sustained by the defenders. Their higher ground gave them a great advantage. Within a fortnight, the attacking soldiers were completely demoralized and began deserting during the night. A week later, the number of besiegers had dwindled to half. As dawn broke, the gates to Arkron opened and the well-rested and well-fed defenders poured out and routed the Helleans.
The strength of their defenses proven, few others attempted to attack Arkron, as it seemed to be no threat to its neighbors. Indeed, with its egalitarian policies, friendly tariffs, and neutral stance, Arkron rose to be an important trade hub in the region. Over the centuries, other city-states sent their traders to Arkron, where they not only traded for Arkronian food, but also Spathan bronze, Macenean dyes, Minoan pearls, and more. This ensured the safety of the city and positioned it to be a leader in the future.
Kingdom of Arkron
The fortunes of Arkron continued to ascend when, three hundred years after its founding, a farmer digging a well discovered small flecks of gold in the soil. He brought his findings to the king, who rewarded him handsomely. Further excavation revealed rich deposits of the precious metal beneath the farm, further enhancing the wealth of the city. Over the next few centuries, the wealth of Arkron continued to grow, while the other city-states warred endlessly with each other, wasting their resources and the lives of their citizens. Attacks on Arkron were infrequent and, while some were more bloody than the first failed assault on the city, were always unsuccessful in occupying the city.
A thousand years ago, the king of Arkron was among the most wealthy men on Tashur, if not the wealthiest. Meanwhile, the other city-states in the region were drained, weak, and tired of war. The city-state of Spatha sat at the confluence of two large rivers, making it a strategically important location which had often suffered assaults from its rivals. The three kings of Spatha were heavily in debt and the people were boiling with unrest. It was then that the Arkronian king, Laccus, offered to purchase the kings' titles from them, including taking all of their debts, for three wagons full of gold each. Two of the kings wished to accept, as it was more wealth than any of them had ever imagined, but the third refused. His fellow kings murdered him and delivered his body to Laccus, who split the extra gold between the two men, then had them banished from both cities.
Laccus paid off the kings' debts, relaxed taxes in general, and declared a year of rest where no Spathan citizen would be required to pay any taxes whatsoever. Before the year was out, the citizens of Pythia, which was down river from Spatha and had long been its rival, deposed their own king, brought his head to Laccus, and swore their fealty to him if he would extend the same protections he had to the Spathans. Laccus approved, his realm now encompassing three full cities and owning full access to the Hecaton Sea via the Aravnos River.
While Arkron did not grow further under Laccus, his heir Kyros had more ambition. By now having enjoyed a decade of peace, the young men of Spatha and Pythia were eager for battle again. While the laws of Arkron forbade raising an army for conquest, Kyros reasoned that this only applied to the citizens of the city itself, not necessarily to those of other cities under Arkronian suzerainty. Thus Kyros raised an army of Spathan and Pythian men and marched on the other city-states.
Within a decade, Kyros had conquered much of the area. Many cities surrendered without bloodshed, their people unwilling to fight and their kings unwilling to die for their titles. For these, Kyros followed in the footsteps of his father and rewarded those who submitted peacefully. For the few who fought, Kyros had their kings and the leading men of the city executed and dismembered, leaving their corpses to rot in the open rather than cremating them as was tradition. Kyros was planning to march on the remaining holdouts — Diogenes, Sparinth, and Lythia — when he fell ill and died, suddenly.
Many attributed his death to assassination, while others believed his cruelty had grown too great and he was struck down by the Pillar for refusing to cremate the remains of the conquered kings. While there was some initial instability following his death, Kyros's son Xander assumed the throne and quickly brought the realm into order, defeating Kyros's generals Diadous and Melachus to ensure the kingdom stayed together. While Xander did not press the conquests of his father, within a decade both Sparinth and Lythia had willingly submitted to Arkronian hegemony. Diogenes held out another two generations, until Kyros's great-grandson, Philius completed the conquests to unify the region.
Arkron settled into a long period of peace and prosperity. Explorers sailed on the Hecaton Sea and crossed the Alympan Mountains to the east in search of trade, making contact with many foreign lands. To the kingdom's north, the Bayish tribes unified under a single king to form the Kingdom of Bayeux, while to the west the Empire of Lothairold reigned supreme. Arkron resumed its stance as a peaceful empire, mainly enriching itself through trade. It continued to produce high quantities of gold, highly-valued dyes, and high-quality goods that were the envy of other nations. The Arkronian tradition of the defensive-only army was never formally made law for the entire kingdom, but became a tradition. For nearly nine centuries, Arkron did not engage in any conquests.
Roughly five hundred years ago, one of the deeper and older mines in Arkron, under the city of Nicos, broke into an expansive underground tunnel. Explorers ventured into the tunnel, which was tall that a man could not see the ceiling even with a brightly burning torch and wide enough that an entire legion could march down it shoulder to shoulder. Though it twisted and turned, eventually it was discovered that the tunnel led directly to the other side of Tashur, opening up a cave within the kingdom of Okolube. For the first time in recorded history, a direct route was opened between Arkron's region and the other side of Tashur.
It quickly became apparent, however, that trade through the tunnel would not be simple. It took nearly two months of travel to go from one end of the tunnel to the other. Caravans disappeared without a trace and men reported seeing glowing eyes staring at them from the darkness. Even well guarded caravans found people vanishing from their ranks without warning.
It soon became apparent that there was something living in the tunnels. Discussions with the Okolube eventually revealed this to be the inauri, a race well known in other regions of Tashur but not within Arkron. The tunnel passed through two different inauri nations, the Erebian and the Nycean, who both viewed the Arkronian caravans as invaders who had carelessly broken into the tunnels with no respect to the inhabitants. While there was some call for retribution for the lost caravans, peace was quickly established with the inauri and the tunnel, which came to be known as the Erebian Tunnel after the inauri who claimed the Arkronian side of it, was transformed into a major trade route.
As a center of trade, Arkron grew tremendously prosperous over the following centuries, becoming a center for learning, technology, the arts, and magic.
Decline of the Kingdom
Arkron flourished as a trade empire for several centuries, growing wealthy and strong. This lasted until the reign of King Theros, just over a hundred years ago. Unlike his predecessors, Theros was ambitious and vain. He desired nothing more than for his name to be recounted among the great kings of Arkron, much as Kyros, Xander, and Philius were. As such, he began two projects that devastated the kingdom. The first was the construction of numerous monuments across the kingdom. In each of the thirty great cities of Arkron, Theros decreed that a monument to his greatness be erected. Each monument would be a hundred feet tall and be capped with a precious metal or gemstones that were famous to the locals; such as gold in Arkron itself, rubies in Helle, copper in Apallon, tin in Archides, and sapphires in Thera.
Despite the deep coffers of the king, these undertakings came at a great cost. In order to pay for the materials and labor, Theros raised taxes on the merchants, who all bristled under the extra burden. However, things were still good on the whole in Arkron, so the complaints were never too serious. However, once the monuments were complete, Theros was still not satisfied.
Though the treasury was bare and Arkron had long stood as a bastion of peace, Theros decided that it was only through conquest that he could truly be memorialized. Thus he ordered the raising of an army and declared his intent to conquer foreign barbarians to bring glory to the kingdom. Again, the merchants balked as conflict would interrupt their free trade. In addition, the people of Arkron were resistant to the prospect of war. While small numbers heeded Theros's call to arms, most peasants were happy with their farms or trades. For any real offensive, Theros needed a larger army. As such, he raised taxes again, on merchants and peasants alike, and used these funds to hire foreign mercenaries.
Though the citizens of Arkros balked at Theros's spending, the king pressed on with his ambitions and invaded the neighboring Kingdom of Bayeux. The invasion was a disaster, both militarily and politically. Theros had little understanding of warfare and his generals were thoroughly trounced by the Bayish knights, who had been hardened in battle with its other neighbors. In the first large scale battle of the war, at the Artoi River, the Arkronian Army was routed after only three hours of fighting. The Arkronian soldiers were slaughtered, while the mercenaries broke and fled after receiving conflicting orders from their Arkronian generals.
Theros and the remnants of his army fled to Archides to regroup, but the Bayish army pursued and laid siege to the city. On the third day of the siege, the remaining mercenaries rebelled, captured Theros, and handed him over to the besiegers. Theros was forced to ransom himself, allowing Bayeux to annex Archides in return for his release.
Theros returned to his court, humiliated but not broken. He immediately began planning for another campaign to recapture Archides, hoping the loss of one of the great cities of Arkron would inspire the citizens to march to war. Instead, Theros's nephew Leos had him murdered and usurped the throne for himself.
While there was rejoicing at the death of Theros, Arkron's power had waned and the respect of its neighbors had been broken. The royal treasury was nearly empty and confidence in the king was at a low. The merchants hoarded their own wealth and kept it hidden from the tax collectors. Peasants were less able to hide their wealth and suffered greatly as the kingdom struggled to refill its coffers.
Leos, for his part, was just as power hungry and vain as his uncle, but realized that military action would not win the day. Instead, he set out to restore the kingdom's primacy as a trade nation. In the centuries since the Erebian Tunnel was discovered, other, smaller tunnels had been broached throughout the region. These other tunnels had begun to grow in importance, reducing Arkron's influence. Leos realized that the best way forward was not to look at the ground, but in the sky.
Visitors from the Sora had occasionally made their way to Arkron over the proceeding century, sending small parties from hovering soraships to visit and trade with locals. Leos met with representatives from one of the ships and learned more of the wider Sora. Realizing that trade off-realm would be immensely profitable, Leos decided that the best way forward for Arkron was to build Tashur's first soraport. He received details from the traders and called together the greatest engineering and architectural minds of Arkron to design a soraport.
Eventually, it was determined that the port should be built on the slope of the tallest mountain in Arkron, Mount Hyathe. A small herding village, named Hyathe Peak, was already present on the mountainside, so King Leos decided to build the port there. However, the costs to build the port would be immense. He realized he could not raise taxes any more, so he decided to conscript workers from across Arkron to begin the construction.
Over the course of several months, able-bodied men from many of the outlying villages across Arkron were rounded up and marched to Hyathe Peak, where they were pressed into service. Tens of thousands of men were taken to work on the construction. As work in the high mountains was dangerous and strenuous, fatalities were common. Soon, Leos had to conscript men from the cities themselves and it became impossible to hide what he was doing.
Open rebellion first broke out among peasants, who used their farming instruments and tools of trade as weapons. They took control of a large swath of the countryside outside Spatha. Leos raised his army to crush the rebellion. The two sides met on the fields outside of Spatha, which each had been moving to secure. While casualties were high on the king's side, his army eventually carried the day, scattering the untrained peasants. However, rebellions began to spring up across Arkron. Leos attempted to subdue them, but was unable to lead his army to put them all down individually.
Instead, Leos commissioned several noble families to lead armies to put down the rebellions. In return, he promised each of them taxation rights over the areas they pacified. This blunder had a two-fold effect; first, the merchants found themselves suddenly taxed again, this time by local officials with more knowledge of their businesses and how to uncover their hidden wealth. Second, the noble families began fighting one another in order to claim the greatest share of pacified lands.
After several years of fighting, the rebellions had not been fully crushed, trade had virtually ceased moving through Arkron, and the people were suffering. The merchants, who until this point had largely stayed out of the war, began to side with the rebels. Decades of misrule and overtaxation by Theros and Leos had incited the merchants against the monarchy. Though the war had hit the merchants hard, many were still wealthy and influential. Their support quickly shifted the balance of the war in favor of the rebels.
Spatha, the starting point of the rebellion fell first. This was a huge symbolic loss for Leos, as Spatha had been the first city to come under Arkronian dominion thousands of years before. Leos retreated to Arkron and holed himself in, while the rebels swept through the country. The noble families commissioned by Leos held out valiantly for several years, but the tide had turned against the aristocracy. One by one, the great cities of Arkron fell into rebel hands. Finally, Arkron itself fell. Leos, rather than submit to the rebels, threw himself from the roof of his palace. A mob hauled his body into the city center and hung it from the gallows, where it was left to rot and be picked at by birds for weeks.
Foundation of the Republic
The rebels, led by the merchants, convened in Arkron to discuss what to do next. There was some discussion of establishing a new monarchy, but none could be agreed upon. Instead, the merchants devised a plan where each city would select a representative from among its citizenry, who would gather to rule Arkron as a group. This would ensure that all people of Arkron would be fairly governed, as no one interest would grow too large. They called this gathering the Assembly of Arkron and renamed the nation the Republic of Arkron.
The Assembly then drafted a new set of laws for the Republic, including outlawing noble titles and establishing voting rules for selecting the representatives. Then they turned their eyes to Hyathe Peak, which had continued to be built by Leos until the waning years of the war. With trade through Arkron devastated, the Assembly realized the soraport was the only opportunity to revitalize Arkron and return it to its glory. The Assembly named Hyathe Peak one of the thirty great cities of Arkron (replacing the lost Archides) and declared that it would be the Republic's new capital. This would prevent any one of the older cities from gaining too much undue influence in politics, while also concentrating wealth in Hyathe Peak to aid its growth.
Over the next several years, construction on Hyathe Peak's soraport was finished. When the first soraships arrived at the port, roughly twenty years ago, those merchants who had invested the most quickly became rich. Traders from across Tashur began pouring into Arkron to get access to the soraport and off-realm goods. The power of Arkron swiftly recovered with this influx of foreign wealth, both from on Tashur and in the greater Daren Hegemony.
Politics and Diplomacy
The Republic shares a land border with Lothair and Roldstein to the west and Bayeux to the north. Its closest eastern neighbor, Almena, has little contact with the Republic due to the impassable barrier of the Alympan Mountains. Historically, the Republic has kept its neutrality in the region, refusing to engage in hostilities with its neighbors. It maintains non-aggression pacts with the Kingdom of Bayeux, Roldstein, Erebia, and Okolube. It has yet to sign an official agreement with the Archduchy of Lothair due to the tendency of the feudal lords to raid their neighbors, though to date they mostly refrain from testing Arkron's borders.
Prior to the formation of the Republic, Arkron lost the city of Archides and surrounding territory to Bayeux, which organized it into the County of Dulofos. Lingering tensions remain, particularly on the border, as the populace of Dulofos continue to maintain Arkronian culture and language, while their nobility is of Bayish descent. There has been some calls for the Republic to reclaim its lost territory, but the Arkronian Assembly has refused to act, preferring to maintain its neutrality.
Territory and Demographics
Located on the inner edge of Tashur's top-north region, the Republic of Arkron consists of mountainous, forested terrain which juts into the Hecaton Sea to the south. Over half of the Republic is mountainous or hilly terrain, with the Alympan Mountains in the east holding its highest mountain, Mount Hyathe. These mountains have historically been a barrier to east-west travel. The Aravnos River, the largest in Arkron and a primary trade route, has its source in these mountains. The northern-most portion of the country is dominated by forested wetlands, marches, and lakes. Extensive plains sit in the Republic's west and southern regions, forming the majority of the country's arable land. The city of Nicos sits atop the Erebian Tunnel, a major tunnel that leads directly to the bottom side of Tashur. Owing to its inward position on the top face of Tashur, Arkron has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Snowfall is common in the eastern areas during winter, while the north is prone to flooding during the spring.
The population of the Republic is estimated to be just over 7 million people. The majority of these (roughly 65%) are human, but Arkron's connection to the Sora has brought a number of migrants. Most are inauri (20%) and vitulina (12%), while the remaining 3% are a mix of other races. Of the human populace, 75% are of Arkronian birth, 12% are Bayish, 7% are Lothian, 4% are Roldian, and the remaining 2% are a mix from across Tashur. The non-human populace primarily lives in the cities, with most inauri living in Nicos and other nearby settlements, while the vitulina tend to settle in the cities bordering the Hecaton. The Arkronian census does not account for the ethnic backgrounds of the non-human inhabitants, so accurate numbers are not available.
The Republic maintains a small standing army and navy of professional soldiers, supplemented by militias from the cities. The army comprises roughly 150,000 active soldiers, divided into 30 divisions of 5,000 soldiers each, each consisting of 2000 light infantry, 1000 heavy infantry, and 1000 cavalry. Three of the divisions compose the Arkronian navy, which maintains roughly 300 ships between them. The navy patrols the Hecaton sea and protects the merchant ships from the Republic. By law, the Arkronian military cannot be used for conquest, only for defending the Republic from invasion.
Religion has never been a very powerful force within Arkron, neither the Kingdom or Republic. It had some influence for a short time following the founding of Arkron, as the phoenix followed by the settlers was seen as a sign of favor from the Pillar of Ashan. However, over the proceeding generations, religion largely fell into the background of Arkronian society. While most citizens, particularly natives, make prayers or offerings to the Pillar, less than 20% participate in organized worship. By law, the Republic can name no official religion and most large communities have universal shrines in addition to temples to the Pillar.
The Republic has a very diverse economy, though much of its wealth has arisen from serving as a central location for trade. Once, long ago, it was the primary supplier of gold in the region, but its gold mines have mostly run barren. The merchant class controls most of the wealth in the Republic, retaining it from prior to the revolution. It was the merchants who founded the Republic government and they make up the majority of the Assembly. Strict zoning laws and regulations favoring guilds mean new entry into any market are difficult. Laborers and those from the countryside tend to be poorer and have little saved wealth, instead living off their monthly pay.
The vast majority of the Republic's wealth comes from its position as a center for trade on Tashur. As the current sole soraport on the realm, all offworld trade comes through Hyathe Peak, meaning the city is able to charge high taxes, tariffs, and fees for all trade passing through. Though lesser trade hubs, the other great cities of the Republic are all centers of trade themselves, with trade from other Tashuran realms passing through them. Many merchants solely buy goods and move them from one city to the next, buying low and selling high.
While no longer producing the majority of gold for the region, the Republic still has extensive mines which produce a large amount of copper, tin, and nickle. It also produces small amounts of platinum and gold, as well as numerous gemstones as a byproduct of its other mining efforts.
The seaside cities of the Republic engage in significant fishing activities. In addition to fish, crabs, urchins, and other seafood, each city has its own specialty. Sarda has large, high quality pearls; Heliod produces beautiful coral; and Lythia farms fire kelp, which has famed medicinal uses.
Macenea produces a large number of rare and valuable dyes. The most expensive is Macenean Gamboge, a vibrant orange that grows brighter and most striking with age and exposure to the sun.
Most individuals in the Republic have little more than a basic education. There is no large scale public education system and it is not compulsory. Most children are taught how to read, write, and do basic arithmetic at home by their parents. Teenagers typically apprentice themselves in some trade, usually following the industries of their parents, though sometimes branching out into new fields (especially for third, fourth, or younger children). Each of the great cities has a university, with the University of Diogenes being the most prestigious. The children of wealthy merchants are usually the only ones with enough wealth to pay the tuition to these universities, though some exceptional children from lower classes are sponsored in by others.