The Aeriscan League (Aeriscan: Fódra Aerischiano) is a confederation of five city-states that claim a strip of heavily forested land that was formerly a province of the Rexan Empire known as Aerisca Borealis. The majority of the lands claimed by the Aeriscan League is largely unexplored and covered with hardwood and softwood forests. Along the coastal phrygana, there is land that is suitable for farming (in particular, the viticulture of which Aerisca is well-known for). The seat of the Aeriscan Doge, as well as the Council of 60, lie in the city-state of Abria, an active sea-port that serves as the capital city of the League. The population of Abria is around 16,000 inhabitants, with the vast majority being humans of Rexan, Eknoi, and Nar ethnicity. The smaller city-states of the League are Elefni, Varim, Pyria, and Alios.
The Aeriscan League is an oligarchic maritime republic that is ruled by a Doge who is elected by the Council of 60, a parliament made up of the mostly Rexan patrician families who fled to the province of Aerisca Borealis during the events of the Refugium. The Doge serves in his office as supreme executive until his death. Outside of Abria, the other four city-states are governed by Prefects elected by the patricians and clergy of each city-state. As the Doge is considered Prefect of Abria and, thus, "first among equals", the other Prefects possess a certain amount of autonomy in their internal affairs. Nevertheless, the Doge is recognized by all as the head-of-state. Additionally, upon election, the Doge is inducted as Pontifex Maximus of the Rexan religion.
The civil service is composed of educated noblemen who are hand-picked by the ministers in charge of a particular office. The top officials of the League are chosen by the Doge. In both cases, nepotism is rife. Similarly, despite having Ator as a patron deity, the rule of law is non-existent, with laws being capriciously applied and the rich and powerful are able to avoid punishment easily. The only form of accountability that exists is the admonishment and societal disapproval that comes from violation of cultural mores and religious taboo.
As a result of the collective threat posed by Nefastius and his Timendi, within Aeriscan society there is a modicum of collective allegiance felt between the elite classes and the commoners. While the patrician class and the gentry tend to view the Aeriscan commoners with disdain and exploit them when it is possible, the clergy and the Doge often act to protect the common people from the worst depredations of the elite. In part, this is due to a sense of self-preservation in that the rank and file of the nation must be strong and willing to fight the undead horde of the Timendi when the time comes. However, this is also due to adherence to the teachings of the Ouranic Gods, especially Ator's justice and Maya's mercy; particularly because as the Doge is also the Pontifex Maximus, the legitimacy of the state depends, in part, on the conduct of the Doge and the clergy.
As the League developed from the former Rexan colonial province of Aerisca Borealis, the status of commoners as tenant farmers had already been the status quo prior to the Refugium. With no privately owned land and no recognition of property rights, thus allowing the state to seize any private property without prior notice or any recourse, the foundations for serfdom to develop have been lain. One aspect of Aeriscan culture that has retarded the development of serfdom in the League is the fact that the majority of its military is composed of regional militias that act with a high degree of independence from the state. Nevertheless, the heavy tax burden the League places on its citizens ensures that the Aeriscan peasantry exist in a state of inescapable tax-slavery.
The vast majority of land within the League is considered to be property of the Ouranic Church. In actuality, this means the Doge, as the head of the Aeriscan church, is also the supreme landlord within the League. The current state of the League's treasury allows the government to spend upwards of 195,000 decim a month for various expenditures related to the functioning of the League.
At the dawn of the Fourth Age, coast of Northern Aerisca was home to the nomadic Nar tribes who traded with the Ghamodi clans of the Kharadim Mountains to the south. The prosperity brought by trade with the Kazma led to the Nar founding a the city-state of Qadshat. Eventually, Qadshat would come into conflict with Rexa over control of the maritime trade in the Central Sea, leading to a series of wars in which the Nar eventually capitulated to the Rexan Empire in 946 AR. The lands of the Nar would become the Rexan province of Aerisca Borealis, of which the Rexans founded several agricultural colonies to produce olives, pomegranates, wine, wax, and honey, and other products desired by peoples living in the somewhat colder lands of the greater Rexan empire.
Due to its position on the Central Sea, the cities of Aerisca Borealis grew in wealth as a nexus of trade between the Rexan Empire and the lands east, via the Dragon Silk Road. As the Rexan Empire grew fat on the bounty produced by provinces like Aerisca Borealis, its elites grew bored and decadent. A little over a century ago, Emperor Nefastius of Rexa became obsessed with finding the key to immortality, and directed his imperial magi to perform a powerful Third Age draconic arcane ritual to grant him eternal life. At the culmination of the ritual, the life-energy of the lands around the imperial palace were drained into Nefastius in a 50-mile diameter, and he emerged from the ritual as a powerful arch-lich.
As word spread of the emperor's blasphemous act, legions of Rexan soldiers rose in rebellion. In response Nefastius used his newly found mastery of necromancy to raise an army of the undead to crush any opposition to his rule. Those Rexans not fortunate enough to fall in battle, were corralled and kept as cattle to feed Nefastius and a growing class of elite undead, the Timendi, vampiric lords who swore fealty to Nefastius in exchange for his perverted form of immortal "unlife".
Despite the victory of the lich-emperor, Nefastius, several hundred Rexans did manage to escape Ione, and sought refuge in Aerisca. It would be these refugees who would eventually form the Aeriscan League along with the native citizens of Aerisca Borealis, as the last outpost of Rexan civilization in what many believe to be the beginning of the end for the Fourth Age of mortals. Expecting the undead army of Nefastius to sail across the Central Sea to obliterate the League, the Aeriscans were surprised to find that Nefastius seemed to have no interest in expanding his empire of the undead, having retreated into the aloofness of deep arcane meditation on dark truths of the Ar. With the retreat of the Emperor's concern for this plane of reality, his Timendi suffer without his leadership and guidance, fighting among themselves for power and status within what is now known as the "Deadlands" (Terra Manium).
Freed from the threat of immediate extinction, the confederation of city-states that make up the League have leverage their typical economic fortune over the past one hundred years to improve and strengthen themselves in preparation for the day when the undead cross the Central Sea.
Demography and Population
The League maintains a professional military force of 2,000 soldiers and sailors during peacetime. In the event of invasion, this force issupplemented by milita levied by each city-state.
While much knowledge was lost with the fall of the Rexan Empire, the Aeriscan League is still one of the most advanced of the Human nations. However, the level of technological and scientific knowledge possesed by the Aeriscans is still quite primative compared to the technological marvels of neigborhing Karad or distant Xian. Technologies of note known to the League include the stirrup, horse collars, plows, the two-field system of crop rotation, watermills, architectural pendentives, underground waterducts, and Eknoi fire.
The Ouranic Church is recognized as the state religion; however, the Aeriscan League is content to continue the long-standing Rexan tolerance for religious pluralism within its borders. Other faiths, including worship of the gods of the Nar pantheon and others, are free to build temples and shrines for their followers. However, religious conversion between faith groups is generally frowned upon outside of the context of an interfaith betrothal.
Trade & Transport
The League possesses a burgeoning economy with many natural resources available for exploitation. However, the massive demographic and economic shock of the Refugium has yet to fully subside, leaving much of these resources untapped. As such, the League is dependent on a high level of taxation to fund affairs of state. Income tax is collected quarterly, on each equinox or solstice, at a rate of 25%, to be paid in currency or crops. Additionally, the League levies a 5% tax on all sales. Due to its priorities as a merchant republic, import/export duties are low, only being assessed as 1% of a cargo's total value. Due to the lack of infrastructure maintenance in much of the League's land after the fall of the Rexan Empire, much of the responsibility for tax collection is farmed out to publicans who are given rectorship of a particular area or region.
The basic currency minted by the League is a silver coin known as the decim. Also minted are coins in platinum (duxon), gold (auron), electrum (quintim), and copper (cypron). The values of the currency based on the decim are given in the table below:
|1 Duxon||50 Decim|
|1 Auron||10 Decim|
|1 Quintim||5 Decim|
|1 Decim||10 Cypron|
Legislative power nominally lies within The Sinédrio. However, in reality, the majority governmental laws and regulations are decreed by the Doge through exercise of his executive power.
Supreme judicial power lies within the Doge as Pontifex Maximus. Priests of Ator serve as regional inquisitors of their assigned paroecia.
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