Kingdom of Sharisar
Caught between the Eira-Gwyn Mountains to the south and the Uplands of Ara to the north, the Kingdom of Sharisar is a windswept sea of grass that is home to the still nomadic horsemen and women that continually move across the landscape. Almost the whole of the kingdom is taken up by the Övsnii Sea, a huge swathe of lush grassland where the grass can be taller than a man in places. The Övsnii Sea is perfect for the rearing of horses, cattle, sheep and bison that the Sharisians herd in huge numbers. Sharisian horses are especially prized in the other kingdoms, where they can fetch an incredibly high price. Sharisians tend to move across the country in groups known as caravans, which are often comprised of several family units travelling together for mutual protection, and help tending to one another’s herds. As most of the population of Sharisar is itinerant, there are only two permanent settlements in the whole kingdom, Uighurtai, the capital, and Dalain, the port city built on the east coast. The people who reside in Uighurtai are predominantly bureaucrats, who keep the limited corporate functions of the Kingdom ticking over, and maintain the site of the royal palace for the times of the year when the Royal Caravan stops there. There is some farmland that surrounds Uighurtai, but it is not a production centre, and is instead a ceremonial centre. Once a year almost the entire population of Sharisar descends on Uighurtai for the Midsummer Games, and the Royal Caravan returns to the capital three times a year to celebrate major festivals, conduct Kingdom business and receive foreign embassies. For many years, there were no towns or cities in the whole Kingdom, but it was eventually deemed prudent to retain a ceremonial hub, to provide a fixed location for ambassadors of other kingdoms to travel to if nothing else. There was a famous case of an embassy mission from the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm that spent 12 years wandering through the Övsnii Sea trying to locate the Royal Caravan. It was only when they happened to be overtaken by the royal caravan in their twelfth year of searching that they were able to deliver the message they had been despatched with; an invitation inviting the then Queen of Sharisar to the wedding of a Kjörnic Prince, eleven years overdue. Although each Sharisian caravan can seem to operate in complete isolation from the rest of the country for most of the year, they can communicate with one another surprisingly easily, thanks to the skill of their outriders in tracking, and the speed with which a Sharisian horse can gallop across the Övsnii Sea. There are a huge number of outriders who accompany the Royal Caravan, and it is said that they can mobilise the Sharisian army in three days if they need to. The apparent lack of infrastructure can make it seem like the Kingdom of Sharisar is an easy target, but almost all of those who cross into the Övsnii Sea are watched by the Royal Cavalry, and it is only when their swift horse archers begin to rain down arrows on them, that intruders become aware of their presence.
The Kingdom of Sharisar is an absolute monarchy, but as the monarch tends to be away from the capital with the Royal Caravan for so much of the year, almost all of the day to day running of the Kingdom is left to the bureaucrats based in Uighurtai. The general rule of work for these bureaucrats is that they are given leave to make all necessary decisions in the interest of the realm, provided that they can give a good reason to the monarch when they return to Uighurtai. This often means that most will leave decisions on very important matters for the times of year when the Royal Caravan is resident in the capital, or in urgent situations send an outrider to pose the question to the monarch themselves, rather than put their own lives on the line. Each Caravan will elect a Chief, or Darga from amongst themselves to lead the group until they no longer wish to continue leading, or until their rule is challenged. The monarch, however, does retain the right to appoint a Darga in any Sharisian Caravan.
As a kingdom of nomads, Sharisar produces little in terms of crops and the majority of arable produce that is generated is used to feed to sedentary population of Uighurtai and Dalain. Instead, Sharisian Caravans travel with large herds of animals, horses, sheep, cattle and bison, from which they farm for their meat, milk and hides. This is the staple of Sharisian trade outside of the Kingdom, which is often exchanged for metal ores that can be turned into weapons or tools. The Övsnii Sea is a great habitat for other wild animals, whose horns, teeth and skins are highly prized as luxury goods in other parts of Turoza, and the Sharisians generate a stable amount of income through this. Sharisian horses are a highly prized commodity across Turoza, and the finest beasts can fetch an extraordinary price at the horse markets in Dalain. The Sharisian Recurve Bow is also very much in demand, as it is small and durable, but capable of firing arrows with a tremendous amount of power.
Demography and Population
Unlike the other Kingdoms in Turoza, wealth is measured in Sharisar by the number of livestock that each family herds as part of their Caravan, as opposed to coin. Even this is only really a rough estimate of wealth, and on the whole Sharisians are less concerned with hoarding wealth than residents of other Kingdoms can be. Caravan Dargas and those who are invited to move with the Royal Caravan are seen as having a higher status in Sharisar, but as their lifestyle depends on the families of each Caravan sharing resources to survive in the Övsnii Sea, status for statuses sake is not particularly coveted in Sharisar’s very communally minded Caravans. The most common sapient species to be found in the Kingdom of Sharisar are Humans, Elves and Half-Orcs. The nomadic life style of the people of Sharisar means that there are few Dwarves, Halflings or Gnomes amongst the population, as these species tend to prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, and prefer to root themselves in settled agricultural and trade centres. The few members of these three races resident in Sharisar tend to be found in the two permanent settlements in Sharisar, the capital Uighurtai, and the port hub of Dalain on the east coast. There are a large number of Centaurs who reside in Sharisar, some of which move in their own family groups, but many move with other species as part of a Caravan. A lifestyle based in the saddle has an obvious appeal for Centaurs, and all Sharisian caravans will welcome a group of Centaurs that wishes to travel with them.
When the Kingdom needs protecting in times of invasion, or the monarch decides that Sharisar will go to war, a vast host of horsemen and women can be summoned incredibly quickly from all across the Kingdom, with Royal outriders travelling day and night at immense speed to muster the host. Sharisar’s army is almost entirely comprised of cavalry, from swift horse archers, to heavily armoured Cataphracts, whose devastating charges can decimate infantry formations. The only soldiers in Sharisar that regularly fight on foot are the Foot Guards, who maintain two garrisons at Uighurtai and Dalain, to protect the two cities. Most of Sharisar’s troops are mustered from the scattered Caravans, but the Royal Caravan does maintain a host of several thousand at all times, that can be used as scouts, and when necessary and expeditionary force.