The United Nerall Empire
"Nations that go down fighting rise again, but those who surrender tamely are finished. When our peoples end comes, let it be only when we lie choking in our own blood."The lands of the Empire reflect the unpredictability and beauty of the people who call it home. Semi-tropical forests grow bowed from the storm winds and typhoons that thunder in from the southern coast and across the Lonriden plains, no hills or mountains to break its power. When it rains it pours, monsoons blast the land and floods the rivers along with melt water, forming riptides. Then the summer sun comes, with a humidity and heat that baking the grass and ground. In the northern hills the summers are more temperate but the winters colder, settlements are pelted by hail, wind, and the occasional snowfall from the Iron mountains that dominate the northern skyline, looking down on coniferous and deciduous forests crawling with wolves.
The inhabitants of the Empire are an untamed and proud people. Hospitality is everything to them, but a wrong word can put an end to generations of peace between neighbours. The table is toppled, plates and cups are scattered across the floor, and old friends meet as enemies. They love and laugh as they hate and fight: driven by compassion, with no compromise. The Elves from the west see them almost as kindred spirits, two peoples cut from the same cloth. The Nerallian hold family and kin above all else, but love strength and competition, gathering under the banners of warlords and petty kings or queens to build their future, only to tear it down. They celebrate within each others households, hit each other, and make up again.
Threats unite them: Together they attack the aggressor, be it another family, local kingdom, or an outside Empire. Side by side they stand, with no room in-between. However once they have triumphed over an enemy, the wind turns and old alliances are discarded, though the aid is not forgotten. No one is more loyal and more fearsome than an Elanian.
Even within a family, a single word can tear the unit apart. One altercation, and father and son attack each other savagely, just to embrace again laughing the next morning. "Me against my brother - my brother and I against my uncle - together against the world!"
Breaking of the Last Great EmpireThe birth of the United Nerall Empire was part of the destruction of another, greater Empire. In 1112 AF, Gaerman the faithful was crowned Emperor of the Sagurian Dynasty, after the unexpected deaths of his three elder siblings. One
His reign was also plagued by instability, and in an attempt to counter this, exiled many of his late fathers trusted advisors, as many of them held a large amount of political power and may have been seen as an alternative ruling family. In 1116 AF Gaermans son, Lothar, king of the south, rebelled against his father. The rebellion was quickly put down, and by 1117 AF Lothar was captured and punished - the punishment of death being commuted to blinding, though he would die a few weeks later. Gaerman would establish three new kingships for his three remaining children: Alion was made king of Dalaii and co-Emperor, Ada was made queen of Sakya and Erhen was made king of Nerall. The later appointing of High Priest Aeldrik as First Chancellor caused tensions between Emperor Gaerman and Alion, eventually leading to him being stripped of his role as co-Emperor and banished to Minya in 1127, and Aeldrick gaining the title in his stead, assuming his place as second in command to the Emperor.
Over time, Aeldrick would gain more and more influence over Gaerman, and even the Empress, causing further discord among the nobility, and his children. This would come to a head when Erhen, Gaermans oldest son, who had been implicated in a botched military campaign against the resurgent Cessidian Kingdom in 1126, finally had had enough of his fathers overbearing involvement in the ruling of Nerall, and his repeated attempts to increase the worship of -------- in the Kingdom. When the time came, the angered Clanns supported his rebellion, and civil war broke out in 1128.
King Erhen was quickly joined by his brother, and Ada would eventually join them in rebellion as well. Gaerman was dethroned in 1129 and exiled soon after, only for Allion to claim the entire empire as his own irrespective of the previous three partitions.
As a result, Erhen and Ada went to war with their brother, and after loosing the Battle of ---------, Alion retreated to his capital of Larsis where he was ultimately killed during the siege. Dalaii was divided between the two victors, with ancient Thuja being given to Alions son, Garen.
IndependenceAfter the civil war, the Empire was never again united, with neither Erhen nor Ada willing to be ruled by the other, they both claimed independence and instead became allied, with little conflict emerging between the two siblings and their nephew, or their successors. In 1187 AF, King Jaecar the Young, Erhens son, died without a successor at the age of 17, but instead of turning to one of the living Sagurian rulers in the west, the realm elected one of the Dukes; Conrad of Chatlon, later Conrad the Axe, as the new Emperor of Nerall during the Vijerec of 1188.
GeographyThe Empires land contains the large, mostly flat plain known as the Lonriden. It dominates the western reaches and is subject the yearly flooding in the summer months, while to the north the land slopes up toward the largely dome shaped Wolfwood hills. They are composed mainly of granite, although limestone, sandstone, and red clay are also found in the lower-lying areas. These foot hills lead up further to the Pale Sisters, known as the Mountains Shann and Sienn that act as gateways to the Iron Mountains, forming the north eastern border.
Iron mines are dotted around the Empire, as well as copper, tin, lead, coal, antimony, and even a small gold mine in the north.
The western border is marked by the River Nari, one of the three great Rivers that carve their way through the continent and historically cut off the east from the west. At no point does the rivers width drop below a kilometer so there are no bridge crossings, only ferries. Because of its size however, ocean going vessals in the Glittergloom sea to the south can almost travel up the rivers entire length where it is controlled by the Empire before having to offload to smaller ships.
Rivers are of great importance to the locals, having for centuries provided the only means of transport north to the rest of the continent for trade and the movement of people. They flow through the land, cutting deep gorges and valleys through the hills and end mainly in estuaries and deltas, the largest being the swampland at the mouth of the River Nari, closely followed by the Jade Waters at the end on the Muddwater. These form natural harbours, and their abundant water supplies are used for domestic consumption as well as the irrigation of the myriad rice fields in the alluvial plains along their courses.
Forests cover a large portion of the land, with broad-leaved evergreens, bamboo, and other more tropical vegetations dominate the south, transitioning into coniferous and deciduous trees the further north one travels. The central plain is largely grassland used for animal husbandry and agriculture, with farmland criss-crossed with large to small canals linked to nearby rivers to grow rice. Bamboo groves are planted along roadsides and along rivers, while also being cultivated along with camphor and cedars planted around towns and villages. Dotted around the plains are a few small forests that are harvested for lumber, gradually expanding the grassland for farming.
"Elanians, value their freedom very much. They are fearless of death and bold in battle, considering any timidity to be a grave disgrace in battle. They are undisciplined in the charge and disobedient of their generals but will listen to their immediate captain. They can't stand the cold as much as the heat, they are easily ambushed, their camps are unorganized."
- Extract from, The -----------, written by -----------
The population figures of the Empire are extremely vague and vary from one professional to the next due to its political fragmentation. There are thus no central agencies that can accurately compile such figures, but a reasonable guess would put the population at around 5,000,000.
- The largest Nerallian demographic is still the native Khesumii population: being the Elanians and Han-azzi, which dominate the Empires culture and acts as a base for other cultures to merge their own values into.
- Along the south coast the Amanokami have a strong presence since their latest migration onto the continent from their jungle home, and have greatly influenced the societies there, with more women in military roles and a stronger martial culture. They can be found throughout the Empire however, as the Elanians and Amanokami have worked together since the time of the False Gods, merging their cultures over thousands of years of conflict.
- There are few Thujans or Sinians within the Empire, though remnants of their time ruling the north west can be seen in the architecture, cuisine, and culture. Their love of gladiatorial combat for instance remains but in the form of dueling pits, where citizens can hash out familial disputes with their fists rather than have such quarrels get out of hand. The hatred among those who were under their rule is still strong in the west, so the few Sinians and Thujans that remain are generally found on the eastern portion of the Lonriden.
- Parrians remain a welcome people among Elanians, and can usually be found in the Southern and Western cities where they run their businesses and act as moderators between households during disputes.
Birth and DeathA priestess of Rhydlean is usually called to help birth a child, though for those with a little more coin, seven midwives from the temple of --------- are called instead. Once the child is born it is washed in watered wine to test its strength before being wrapped and given to the mother. For the first five days no one but her and the father acknowledge the babies existence, and she remains within the bedroom with her child while the father brings food or anything else she needs.
After the five days, if the child is still alive, the household erupts in celebration for the newborn, crowding round the mother before heading towards the temples of Morr and Alhana in the nearest town or city, extended family members meeting with them along the way. Once there, the men of the family take the child into the temple of Morr and up to the first floor where they are given their name. The father then takes the baby to a west facing balcony and bellows the names as loud as he can to the cheers of the women below. The baby is then handed over the the women who take her into the temple of Alhana, passing them through the sacred vapours and washing their head, after which they are brought outside to more cheers from the men.
Once home the baby receives lots of contact from all family members in the household, plenty of feeding and attention, and barely any punishments. At around six months they will begin receiving masticated food and be fully weened not long after. A child will be able to relieve themselves on their own by around their second year.
ChildhoodChildhood for a Nerallian is much the same for both sexes and begins by spending a lot of time with their parents, going to the fields to watch them work and help dig out stones, to a market stall and help by carrying small baskets of goods, or watch their mother weave at the loom in the house. Children from wealthier families may accompany their parents to court, diplomatic missions etc. Free time is generally spent within the household playing board games, storytelling or learning to dance and play music. At the age of five or six the child can play outside with other children in the streets, playing hopscotch, chasing wheels, and playing soldiers with carved wooden swords until well into evening, all under the watchful eye of an older sibling, usually one for each family group. When the child is seven years or older and the parents deem them ready after a long talk, the child takes up the role of minder for a younger sibling. They are entrusted with their first knife, something done and taken with great reverence as a symbol of the trust that they can keep themselves and their ward out of trouble.
At the age of six to seven an child would begin their education. There are few public schools in the Empire as most parents will want to educate their children themselves or within the household. It is usually the oldest member of the household, who is still sound of mind, that will take up the role of tutor for all the children within their household, though if it is an especially big hold, multiple elderly may take up the role, and the children split into smaller classes. If a household has lost their most knowledgeable elder, an outside tutor can be hired, though this can be expensive and usually out of the realm of possibility for a smaller household. As such, it is in the families best interests for their children's education to become a part of a larger household, and perhaps not be entirely on their own.
All children are expected to be physically fit. These lessons of combat, wrestling, gymnastics, and horse riding if possible would be taught by their fathers or mothers, or, if the household has a combat veteran, by them in an open class. Both boys and girls exercise together in such classes. This is done even if they have no intention of entering the military to keep the whole population fit, and able to defend their household, village, town etc. in the event of an attack. Just because there's no garrison, doesn't mean a Nerallian settlement is defenceless.
MarriageMarriage the Elanian way involves, as most things do with them, much fighting and drinking.
It is usually the woman who has to make her feelings known toward a man first by weaving certain flowers into his hair depending on the relationship she wants. It is only after she does so that the man can begin courting her properly. The Woman then goes and informers her mother, who in turns goes to the mother of the prospective groom to draw up a marriage contract, something that can take some time. During this time, gifts are exchanged between the clans of goods or money, and the mothers will talk to an elder or wise one to set aside a date for the marriage on an auspicious day, usually a dry and sunny one.
The bride is dressed in red and met outside the clanhold by her family who all kiss her forehead before walking arm in arm to a hill designated for such proceedings. She stands at the top with her bridesmaids while her family form a defensive perimeter and await the arrival of the groom and his family. The groom is met outside to a similar ritual but on his way to the hill is met with a number of challenges, be they challenges of strength or of the mind, by members of the brides family. He cannot pass on until he has succeeded at each one, though family members can help after a time. Once he arrives at the hill, he must lead his family in an attack up the hill, fighting through his brides family to reach her at the top. There are certain rules during such an engagement: no hits below the belt or to the throat, no eye gouging, etc. but the bridesmaids are held by no such rules. Even the bride attacks her husband, trying to fend him off as best she can with clawed hands and kicks while everyone on both sides do their best to not touch her dress. The skirmish ends when the groom is able to grasp the bride by the scruff of the neck, or if the groom is stopped from reaching the bride. The name taken by the new couple, and the clan they will be a part of after the final ceremony is the family that wins.
Both family's pick one another up, grinning ear to ear and proceed to help one anothers elderly up the hill who were watching from the bottom, and likely laying bets. When all are at the top, dirty or otherwise, the bride and groom say any personal vows to one another beyond the ones drawn up by their mothers, before bowing to the West, then to their respective families, then to one another, paying respects to the Gods, their elders, and to their spouse. Once the ceremony is completed, they descend down the hill arm in arm toward the settlement with their families following behind in a two line procession. The newly weds are then left alone in the brides clanhold to consummate the marriage and cook a small meal for one another as an offering. At some point early in the evening, a delegation is sent to formally invite them to the other clan for the banquet therein. At this point no one has to wear formal attire. Once they arrive, all rise to see them in, and the newlyweds offer to pour drinks for their respective families before pouring one for one another. At the banquet, there are no more ceremonies, and everyone mingles. Ribbing of the new couple, arguments, and brawls are common, and become more so as the night goes on. It is expected there will be at least some form of spilt blood at a wedding, since everyone is of course armed. Some might say it would be a rather boring wedding if the family doctor didn't have to be called upon by the morning.
DivorceDivorce within Nerallian society is not looked at as socially disgraceful, but as with any population, people gossip and chatter. Only one spouse's will is required for any divorce, even if the divorced party is not informed, they just have to leave the clanhold. A spouse who has entered marriage sane and healthy, but becomes incapable of sound judgment (insane) is not competent and thus cannot divorce their partner; however they can be divorced without their knowledge or legal notice. Divorce, like marriage, is considered a family affair. It is discussed and agreed in private, in an informal family gathering of the parties most affected; the husband, wife, and senior members of both families. Such discussions invariably turn violent, but that is simply considered a part of proceedings. No public record is kept of the proceedings. Official registration of divorce is required however.
Even within political marriages divorce is not uncommon, a divorce by either party severs the family alliance that has been formed through the marriage; and remarriage might create an entirely new set of economically or politically useful alliances. Something that might have to happen in the constantly shifting political-scape of the Empire. Among the elite, husbands and wives might remarry several times. Royal marriages are no different, and be it prince or porper; if a family member wishes to leave their spouse, the vast majority of the time their family will back them no matter the political or economic damage it might do to them. To Elanians, immediate family comes first. Sudden divorces are perhaps one of the most common causes of war, along with spouses discovering their mates and running away with them. Such a war over mates, if even deemed necessary, are generally short and merely to service honour and save face however, as no Elanian would dare to actually keep a mated pair apart. Such a war seems almost to be good-natured, and with very few actual casualties.
WomenElanians hold their women in high regard, though not quite so above their men as in more Amanokami dominated regions. It is more likely to find a Nerallian woman as the head of a clanhold instead of her husband, and the Empire boasts a great number of Queendoms within its boundaries.
Motherhood is considered the highest calling, and the education of their children a close second. As such a Nerallian woman needs to be fit for bearing children, and educated to teach them herself if need be. This means a mother of young children need not do much else but look after them, with her husband or partner doing most labour, any maintenance and cleaning required, and preparing food. Beyond this calling, a woman can find work in a variety of jobs. She can own land and property, buying and selling as she sees fit, run a business or farm, enter politics if in the upper-class, become priestess to their chosen deity, or join the clans warband. Dealing in land is the respectable profession for the women of the upper classes while working in industry is mainly reserved for the women of lower ranks. Elanians follow a unique custom of marking an abuser, using their knife that all were given as children by their parents to slash the cheek of their partner if they are abusive. Elanians as a people are rather abrasive to one another, getting into arguments and fistfights over apparently small things, though to Elanians, such arguments between spouses are viewed as just another form of affection and not as abuse. Instead it is seen as a way of showing they believe their other half can handle them and thus neither need to hold back.
There is a certain understanding between Elanians, a sense of honour and respect between what should be equals that is ingrained in them from birth. As such, marking someone with such a knife wound means something very serious has been going on, and thus it is a charge that is not to be taken lightly nor is it to be dolled out easily.
It is a custom that spreads to most migrants who decide to settle within the Empire, and a custom that has led to many breakups soon after. The Elanians sign. Foreigners.
MenA mans role in society is generally centred around providing for his wife and the upkeep of their house. Like most societies, a large portion of the male population is involved in agriculture, though roles in trade and commerce are also available to a lower-class man. Once chosen he is expected to establish himself in his chosen profession before seeking a wife so he may more easily shift attentions to family life instead of improving his occupational standing.
Work within the clans warband as a warrior is a role that comes with great respect within the Empire, and is something most boys aspire to be a part of, looking to expand their fighting knowledge past the knife and hand-to-hand training they received as a child. The role as a warrior takes them away from home for long periods during wars and skirmishes where they will spend months in camps with both their own band and others, living, training, and bonding together. It is through such bonds that clanholds often gain new members and grow.
Clans and ClanholdsA Clan is an old Khesum tradition still followed by the Elanians native to the south. Within this tradition, every Elanian family, and a growing majority of overall Nerallians are a part of a clan, which in turn is usually a branch of one of the larger overall "Clanns" of the Empire. Historically, a clan was made up of everyone who lived on the Clan chiefs territory, or on the territory of those who owed allegiance to said chief. Over time this has changed to instead follow the bloodlines of those original clans and their allegiances, similar to royal bloodlines. As such, with the constant changes of "Clan bounderies", migration or regime changes, clans have become scattered across Tural, with some in the north still upholding their ties to their parent Clanns, while others have broken off completely and started their own Clanns and dependant clans.
A Clanhold, or Clanhold fort, is where a clan or family lives. They can range in size from a small fortified building housing a single extended family of adults, children, grandparents and cousins, all the way up to small fortified villages holding multiple families that are all part of the clan. Each member does a job within the hold making the larger clanholds practically self reliant, while still remaining within the boundaries of a city or town, predominantly made up of other, similarly sized clanholds.
FledglingFledglings are young, being given their knife only a few days ago by their parents and already looking for a task that they find enjoyable. They scurry about between the legs of the more experienced members of their clan, rushing to and fro to bring supplies, be they herbs, spices, leather, fruits, or ingots. Others take up the role of actual runners, delivering messages between the nearby Clanholds of their Clann.
Not all are so young though, and older Members may apprentice themselves if they'd like to change their direction in life, or only temporarily in order to learn new skills.
CrafterWhile they are yet to master their particular field of work, a Crafter is still a skilled worker in their chosen craft, working under their Masters tutelage. The ringing of countless clan smith hammers ring out across Nerallian cities as they shape and temper metal into horse shoes, hoes, cutlery, weapons and armour for their clanhold, while in the fields, harvesters taste the winds to predict the next storm, plant their crops so the roots grow deepest, and keep the clan fed with their labour. Others practice their footwork and speed in the courtyard for an upcoming dance, while still more will work tirelessly to master their artistic skills with brush and charcoal.
MasterThe clan member has been practicing and studying their chosen discipline for a lifetime, and there are only a few areas that they haven't touched upon. Whether a Master turns their hand towards miracle cures using herbs and plants, creating masterpieces of weapons and armour for their clann and well paying members of the public, or the weaving of breathtakingly beautiful tapestries and clothing using Borgian silk, a clan is greatly honoured to have someone dubbed a Master within their hold.
Apprentice KeeperThe Fledgling enjoys racing around and playing, but they have little use to the Crafters. They could carry baskets of goods but they're too slim for that. They could take notes but they can't write yet. They've started asking for the meaning of the symbols the Crafters write down however, and want to learn every one of them. As such they are taken under the wing of the clans Keepers.
As an Apprentice, they will sweep the floors of the hold and wash the dirtied clothes for the next few years while they learn to read and write. Some arithmetic is thrown in as well.
KeeperAs a Keeper, a clan member is a part of the domestic half of their clan. They cook, they clean, they keep careful watch on the gains and losses of their clans trade, they watch, and listen. Everything they do, hear, or see is funnelled through the clans Steward.
BandYoung teenagers with an aptitude for weapons and a penchant for getting into fights while protecting their siblings in the streets may find themselves joining their clans band. Their training starts early with extended knife work, as well as how to throw a javelin, and once they can hit a target at 30m, they can count themselves amount their bands Skirmishers.
StewardAt the head of the domestic side of a clan is the Steward. They sit at the centre of wide webs, managing the economics of the clan, bookkeeping, and overseeing the dispersal of goods across the wider clann and decide what is to be sold outside of it's familial borders. They run the domestic side of the clan while also filing away any bit of information and gossip brought to them by the clans young while out on the streets at play, Crafters selling their wares at market, or from Keepers who hear talk while at work within the Clanhold. This keeps the clan knowledgeable of outside forces and changes that they would otherwise be blind to in their isolation.
"In the mud, with the blood and the wine!"
-An old northern toast
Food and DiningTraditionally, a small meal is served at dawn to break fast, followed by the main meal of two courses at mid-day to early afternoon, and finally a light supper at nightfall. Depending on the region within the Empire, the consistency of these meals change, from lighter fish and pork soups on the coast, to heavier hot pots of beef and duck in the foothills.
For the lower classes, this traditional routine has changed little as it closely corresponds with their daily work schedule and the rhythms of manual labour in the fields, though the main meal has grown in size considerably. For the upper classes however, who normally do not engage in manual labour, it is customary to schedule all business obligations in the morning. At around 2 o'clock, work would be completed and the main meal of the day is had. This could last well into the night, especially if guests have been invited, and is usually followed by a round of alcoholic beverages. It is during such feasts that negotiations for trade agreements, peace, or alliance is initiated since neither party is in any mind to dissemble. Then in the morning when clearer heads can prevail, negotiations are concluded. Across the Empire, particular attention is given toward finesse with knifes and technique in cooking to enhance flavour, aroma and texture in the food, while also acting as a way to draw in customers with some flashy showmanship at a market stall or public shop.
An emphasis is put on seafood in the south, where food is kept light but flavourful, soft, and tender, with particular emphasis on umami taste. A diverse selection of seafood and woodland delicacies are used, including a myriad variety of local fish, shellfish and turtles, or indigenous edible mushrooms and bamboo shoots provided by the land. The most common cooking techniques on the coast include braising, stewing, steaming and boiling, with a strong emphasis put on the making of, and utilizing of broth and soups. In fact it is seen as disgraceful for a meal to not include a soup of some kind.
As one would head further north however, the cuisine changes; with cooks making more use of peppers, shallots, and garlic. Meats, mainly pork and some freshwater fish, are usually smoked and cured before being cooked, and food is rarely served cold, as tea oil is the primary cooking oil in the hills which can cause stomach problems if consumed uncooked. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking.
Education and LanguageThe level and quality of education provided to children within the Empire varies drastically from family to family. The traditional Elanian way is for the eldest member of the household to teach the younger generation and pass on their knowledge through stories of the great men and women of the family, cautionary tales about individual failures, and what they know of arithmetic and writing. Parents and other family members are to act as role models, and parents who worked for a living pass their skills on to their children, who might also enter apprenticeships for more advanced training in crafts or trades. This education generally starts at around the age of six, as they believe a child's memory is especially retentive at a younger age. Strenuous, disciplined physical training helped prepare children for their eventual citizenship and a potential military career, while also instilling in them a proper morality as well as a sense of courage and self worth.
The concept of tutors has been working its way into Nerallian society for some time, though their prices are usually out of the reach of many families. Some households pool their resources to hire a foreign tutor for their children, and sit in on lessons too. Thus, when they are elders, they may better educate their grand children and they theirs, meaning in theory a tutor need only be hired once in a households history. This does mean that as far as reading, writing, and arithmetic are concerned, some households, even wealthy ones, may be a little behind the cutting edge.
Public schools exist, though are usually only pupiled by those who immigrated from outside the Empires borders, with a few Elanians who decide it might better their clans literacy. Such schools are not state supported, nor free. Instead it is organized by a schoolmaster who accepts fees from the families. School can be held regularly in a rented space, or in any available public niche, even outdoors. Boys and girls receive primary education generally from ages 7 to 12, but classes are not segregated by grade or age.
Sports and EntertainmentThough a heavy focus is put on fighting via the Elanian culture and history, they still have plenty of other pursuits. Hobbies and interests are important to the Nerallian citizens, and they engage them with the same voracity and passion they would their fighting. Whether they are involved in dancing, athletics, hunting or attending a festival or banquet, a Nerallian gives one hundred percent.
AthleticsWithin the Empire, athletics and other physical sports are a massive part of life. Young or old, male or female, athletics is something everyone is involved in. It has come to be the chief way of connecting the people within the Empire through something other than an outside aggressor, while still allowing individuals to elevate their position in society, train for combat, represent their city or community, and earn respect among their peers.
Running, high jumping, swimming, acrobatics, rugby, spear throwing, boxing, and wrestling are just a few of the sports athletes compete against one another in. Smaller competitions were held between neighboring Imperial states but the greatest honour is to be involved in one of the great Imperial Games. There are four of these games with each being held on a consecutive year, allowing athletes from the surrounding territories of each location to train and take part. The costs of training, transportation, lodging, and other expenses can get quite high, so the states ruler will often help finance the athletes if they show promise.
The first takes place in Kikaia to the west. The year after, the city of Lamis to the north puts on its games, and Pordenz hosts the local games in the east on the third year. On the fourth year, the top three from each sport within each of these games proceed to the Dukedom of Vasse in the south, where they compete against their fellow victors for the title of ---------- and the victors garland. No financial or material prize is awarded to any victor. Instead, the Kikaian games awards a garland of --------; the Lamisian games, a garland of ----------; the winners in the Pordenzen games are given a ------- garland, and the final victors at vasse received a --------- garland.
Though their is no material wealth to be awarded, winners are of course showered with gifts and honours upon returning to their city, and within the smaller competitions of a city or its immediate neighbors the winners receive some form of award for their victory.
DancingNerallians love to dance, as it fits well with their athletic persuasions while also allowed them to celebrate and show off their physical skills. Children are taught to dance from a young age by either their family or a tutor right along side their knife and hand-to-hand training.
Within the Empire people dance for fun, to show their skills and to highlight the beauty of the body. In fact as nights go on and drink flows nude dancing at festivals is not uncommon, and Nerallians are not shy about showing off their skills and flexibility be they male or female. It is a practice that has caused no small amount of discomfort with dignitaries from outside powers, and has done little to reduce their "barbarian" image within the north.
HuntingHunting is another activity the Nerallians enjoy. It provides competition in the absence of battle and the Great Imperial Games for the upper classes, while providing food and materials for use in clothing and decoration for the lower classes. A usual competitive hunt requires many hands, as well as horses and Elanian wolf-hounds. Elanians like to make the kill up close at such events, using a spear rather than bow and arrow, or even their bear hands, to bring down their mark be it deer or tiger. Just them against the animal, a true competition and approach that fully embodies their ethos.
GamesMany board games are played both by children and adults within the Empire such as chess, backgammon, tic-tac-toe, checkers, and dice. Gambling with coin or goods is a common occurrence during such games in public and in private, though such bets may be chores instead.
War games are popular among the upper-classes, where gridded boards are set up and various sized pieces of wood representing units are moved around using dice. Each unit type has its own rules with movement allowances, and dice number. Even terrain is represented. A simplified version of this has found its way into the lower-classes called ---------.
Festivals also held ritual games as well; such as the poll climbing race held during --------- between youths where they attempt to be the first to climb a greased pole to win the prizes held at the top.
MagicWithin Elanian society especially, ancestor worship is a key part of everyday life, and it is the Shamans, mages, and wisemen/women that are the intermediaries for this practice. Throughout their history the Elanians have held magic in high regard and have seen it promulgate throughout theirs and the wider Nerallian Culture. They talk to a clans ancestors to deliver messages or advise, they act as judges in communities where the courts are not available or are ignored, and provide council to Emperors, Warlords, and Queens. Their most important role however is as keeper of the oral histories of their people, older shamans passing on their secrets, complex archaic incantations, lore and stories to apprentices, making sure they remember them perfectly. The written word has had a big effect on this role, and hidden books and scrolls now hold much of this lore, but the stories are still passed on verbally, as they know it would only take a single raid and fire, a common occurrence in the south, to destroy generations of work.
Such Shamans were once solely trained in and belonged to the various Cults of the South, or were apprenticed to one who had been since such institutes were the most knowledgeable on the subjects in question, especially the Cult of Morr and her A'kin Mages.
After the Tangan Empire however, and the growth of Schools of --------- and their inverted pyramidal structures, this dynamic is slowly changing. The Cults are loosing many prospective mages to these schools and they are not pleased with it.
Traditional Nerallian magic is not flashy. Shamans and wisemen do not shoot lightning from their hands or cause the earth to swallow their enemies. They are instead expert alchemists, and practitioners of spirit magic and curses.
Using their knowledge and a touch of power from Tenk'so, they can make a variety of potions and salves out of rare ingredients grown in their gardens. During times of war, the most common such potion makes the imbiber stronger and faster for a time, usually an hour, but then horrifically hungover for the rest of the day. Another is a type of red oil that is applied to the skin and helps protect from cuts and blows. This does not make the user immune to damage, but many, especially the Warcrow warriors act as if it does once battle is joined. Besides warfare; salves to numb pain, cure infections, aid in birthing or to nullify a potential mistake are also constantly bought by fellow clan members and locals.
Imperial GovernmentDespite its name, the Empire is not a centralized state nor a nation-state ruled by a powerful leader but is, perhaps unsurprisingly given their history, a massive confederation of fiercely independent petty states, provinces, and free cities ruled over by individual kings, queens, dukes, counts and a host of other titled rulers known collectively as Vijecnahs. At no time can the Emperor simply issue decrees and govern autonomously over the Empire. His power being severely restricted by various local leaders. He does not even have direct control over his personal estates own military, as that job is taken by his Empress on the day he is enthroned. The inhabitants of these states are tied together only by a common language, shared Gods, and a mutual culture.
Almost since its founding the United Nerall Empire has been marked by an uneasy coexistence with the Vijecnahs attempting to take power away from it. To secure their own position from the threat of being deposed, early Emperors were forced to grant more and more autonomy to local rulers to the point where even the title of Emperor is now an elected position. Ambitious Vijecnahs have been known to give away privileges, titles and land to any that will cast their votes for them, weakening themselves and strengthening others until the next elections come, at which the throne may pass to their heir due to the previous Emperors influence, or the heir may begin to buy back some of their families lost privileges and lands in exchange for their own vote toward a new ruler, and so the wheel turns. Several Emperors attempted to reverse this steady dilution of their authority but have always been thwarted by the Vijecnahs.
Imperial EstatesThe number of territories represented in the Vijerec is considerable. Many of these states cover no more than a few square miles, while others include several non-contiguous pieces. An entity is considered an Imperial Estate if it has no authority above it except for the Emperor himself. These Imperial Estates comprise of:
- Territories ruled by a hereditary noble, or Vijecnah, such as a bull, archduke, duke, or count.
- Free Imperial cities and Imperial villages, which are subject only to the jurisdiction of the Emperor. Free villages are not represented in the Vijerec.
- The estates of free Imperial knights and Imperial counts, immediate to the Emperor but unrepresented in the Vijerec.
The King of KingsA prospective Emperor or Empress must first be elected as "King of Kings", an old title dating back to the Parrian Empire. Early on the King of Kings was a monarchical title until various states began pulling away, at which point the holder of the title was elected by the leaders of the five successor states at the Vijerec. As more and more states became autonomous however, the Decree of ----------- was issued by ----------, which limited the Electors, or Bulls, to six:
- The King of Ospria
- The Duchess of Borgas
- The Queen of Chatlon
- The King of Viadeza
- The Margrave of Yuvraj
- The Count Palatine of Rais
After being elected, the King of Kings could claim the title of Emperor only after going through lengthy procedures. These are usually held-up themselves by other tasks such as quelling rebellions in the north and quarrels with the Bulls. In many cases this process could take several years, with some Emperors dying before even technically becoming Emperor.
Women could take the throne if they wished, though many prefer to marry the Emperor and gain control of the armies rather than the state and its maze of violent bureaucracy.
The VijerecThe Vijerec is both a holiday, and a branch of government. On this day, it is said the Khesum, led by their bulls, first set foot on Tural and laid claim to the south. Every member of the Vijerec can trace their clans lineage back generation after generation to one of the 16 bulls that lead them all to freedom. Over the ages, wars and feuds cut away some of these branches, while other branches migrated wherever the winds led them. The territory of a Vijecnah may expand, and sometimes they may need to gift land to a victorious enemy. Where once, two Vijecnah were mortal enemies, tomorrow they may unite against a common foe.
Thousands of their warriors die in skirmishes, farms are burned, clanns torn apart. But always, the Vijecnah honour the Vijerec. Every year they meet, and for two days, drink, sing, and strengthen old alliances and forge new ones. They bend over maps and discuss mutual targets and plan the events of the year to come. On the second day, they cast their votes.
If the united Vijerec's army is needed to deal with outside aggression or some other issue, and Vijerec can be called at short notice, and all are given a week to travel and attend.
Imperial LawThe Empire has two supreme courts: the Emperors Court, and the newer Imperial Chamber Court which was founded by the Imperial Council.
The Emperors CourtThe Emperors Court not only has concurrent jurisdiction with the Imperial Court, but in cases of Imperial processes, criminal affairs, and affairs which concerned the Imperial Government and rulers it had exclusive jurisdiction. It is the earliest Supreme Court of Justice in the Empire, in which the Emperor them-self presides.
Each Emperor summons a new Court upon their accession to the throne to advise them on decisions of justice composing of a president, a vice-president, a vice-chancellor, and 18 councillors, who were all chosen and paid by the Emperor, with the exception of the vice-chancellor, who was appointed by The Count Palatine of Rais in their capacity of Imperial archchancellor. On the death of the Emperor, the Council is dissolved and is reconstructed by the successor.
The Imperial Chamber CourtAll legal proceedings could be brought to the Imperial Chamber Court except for matters relating to Imperial fiefs and cases of criminal law, in which case the Court could only intervene if basic procedural rules had been violated.
It was formed once it became clear the Emperor ceased to command as much respect as they once did and the Empires subjects thus lost confidence in the court. The "province of the Imperial Chamber", as it come to be gradually defined by statute and use, extends to breaches of the public peace, cases of arbitrary distraint or imprisonment, pleas which concerned the treasury, violations of the Emperor's decrees or the laws passed by the Vijerec, disputes about property between Imperial estates or the subjects of different rulers, and finally suits against the Imperial Estates, with the exception of criminal charges.
The courts composition is determined by both the Emperor and the subject states of the Empire. The Emperor appoints a Chief Justice, several divisional chief judges, and some of the other puisne judges. The majority of judges however are selected by the the rulers, nobles, and peasants of the Empire.
The Court is infamous for the long time it takes to reach verdicts, with some proceedings, especially lawsuits between different states of the Empire taking several hundred years.
Legal Codes and Use
"If someone keeps to themselves and does good, they are to be left alone. No-one, be they bull or porper, shale enter their clanhold unannounced or uninvited and drag them out, for it is their home, and they are given full rights to defend themselves physically unless a proper rite is given, in which case they may defend themselves in the court of law."The Empire takes its legal codes and laws from the old Parrian Empire that once controlled the area, with a few additions from their own culture. The old code of rites was considered the controlling document on civilized behaviour according to the Northern conquerors, with the rule of law applied only to those who have fallen beyond the bounds of civilized behaviour. Civilized people were expected to observe proper rites, and only social outcasts were expected to have their actions controlled by law. Thus the rule of law was considered a state of barbaric primitiveness, prior to achieving a civilized state of voluntary observation of proper rites. What is legal is not necessarily moral or just.
-Extract from ------------, written by --------- in -----
This view on law is held in high regard, along with many other things from the old “Golden Age”, meshing more with the Elanians sense of independence and dislike of outside forces meddling in their affairs. Disputes are largely dealt with between the clanholds involved with no outside oversight. Generally this will lead to greater arguments and fights between the families but in the end a decision is reach and those involved will drink to one anothers health arm in arm, the fights in between were just part of proceedings, and unworthy of seeking recompense for after. The Courts are largely only there for deciding precedent in law and for use by those without a clanhold.
The Council of StateDue to the size and complexity of the Empire, it has become common for Emperors to surround themselves with advisers chosen from members among the most prominent noble families so that they may assist on legal, financial, diplomatic and military matters in the Emperors stead. Over time, this gathering of councilors turned into a formal meeting, which officially became the Council of State.
EconomyOver the past one hundred years or so, the United Nerall Empire has been going through a period of huge economic growth. The population has increased from around 2,200,000 in ------ to around 5,000,000 according to the census of -------, stimulating increased agricultural outputs and the export of raw materials. Except for the years of "The Anarchy", most military conflicts either had only the usual localized economic impact or proved only temporarily disruptive.
Trade has also been increasing, with peoples over the ---------- mountains and sea routes seeming to have a great desire for the silk produced in the Iron Mountains. Combined with a somewhat unified taxation system and more efficient trade routes via rivers and roads has led to a truly nationwide market. Regional specialization has promoted economic efficiency and increased productivity. Although much of the Empires treasury still goes to each states military, taxes imposed on the rising commercial base refills the coffers and further encourages a more monetary economy.
AgricultureAgriculture is still the most important part of the Empires economy, though with a wide variety influenced by the geography. Where rice or wheat cannot be grown, other resources are exploited instead.
Many states have made a push to improve their arable lands irrigation through multiple projects to expand local canals and dredge rivers.
Where such developments are not possible such as in the deeply forested northern foothills, agriculture is centered on the grazing and herding of animals, while in the deeper swamps and fens, fishing and bird-hunting takes precedent, supplemented by basket-making and peat-cutting. In some locations, such as ---------- and ----------, salt manufacture is central, including production for the export market. Fishing has always been an important trade along the Glittergloom coast, especially in Vasse and The Duchy of Hardwater, and the ------- was a particularly popular catch; salted at the coast, it could then be shipped inland or exported to he rest of --------. Piracy between competing Imperial fishing fleets is of course not unknown and fishers go to sea well armed just in case, be it in defense of their own catches or to take that of a particularly weak looking boat.
The economic development of the Empire has been aided by improvements in farm tools, seeds, and fertilizers as well. The Empire took the plow innovations from the western Sinians and in some states improved on it. In the south west, the -------- took the curved iron plough and invented a special steel plough designed specifically for reclaiming the Nari Swamps. The wetland plough, or Nari's Backscratcher, was not made of iron, but of strong steel. The blade was shorter but thicker, and particularly effective in cutting through reeds and roots in wetlands. The design was quickly spread throughout the south coast and has made The Queendom of Chiona quite wealthy. Imperial farms also use a bamboo water wheel design taken from --------- to harness the flow energy of rivers to raise water for the irrigation of farmland, though some farmers even use a unique three stage wheel system to raise the water even higher.
Other food crops produced include sugarcane which The Duchy of Borgas is famous for, various fruits and nuts, corn, barley, sweet potatoes, and peas.
Commercial crops include their highly sought after teas of various scents and flavors that are grown in the hills, cotton, which was introduced to the mainland through the Empire from the --------- island. Hemp is also farmed and produced alongside cotton to make clothing and other textiles, but it is their silk that is their most desired commercial export. Its production and even location is kept secret, and all that is known is that it is made somewhere in the Iron mountains. Other important commercial crops are rape seed, sesame seed and soybeans.
Currency and BankingBanking hasn't taken hold within the Nerall Empire as much as it has in other territories, as the culture doesn't lend itself to the idea of some outside force having control over almost anything belonging to the individual, let alone their income or, as in some lands, their very houses. In fact, the barter system is still being widely practiced, if only within large individual households.
Coins are still weighed rather than counted, which has meant the Empire is more financially stable, and its economy less prone to debasement than its competitors, if a little behind the times. As ever, nearly every state within the Empire has its own currency, and though Emperors and Empresses have attempted to form a unified currency such as Emperor --------- in ---- with his -----------, or Emperor ---------- and his -------- in -----, few have taken to them and instead remained with what they know. Merchants will generally collect all these disparate coins into groups depending on their metal, be it gold, silver, bronze, or copper. Bullions and Ingots are not used in general buying and selling, and limited only to the purchasing property.
IconographyThe main focus of imagery on coins is usually the states own banner or a portrait of the ruler themself. Coins are seen as an important means of disseminating this image throughout their own subjects and the Empire as a whole, giving the currency political value as well as monetary.
This in turns causes the coin to be viewed as embodying the attributes of the individual portrayed. At one point following the death of -------- of -------, the -------- demonetized his coinage, and ordered that they be melted, demonstrating the importance and meaning that is attached to the imagery on a coin. The reverse is far more varied in its depictions, usually bearing the image of a certain God or Goddess important to the ruler at the time, and sometimes a political message or propaganda, generally stamped at the beginning or end of a war and making various claims of liberation, subjugation, and pacification.
TradeTrade among the Imperial states forms the base of the Empires income, and it gives the opportunity for each state to specialize in a select few products depending on their geography. Something that has been pushed in decrees by the Emperor. Because of this, the various Lords and Ladies are now somewhat dependent on one another and thus don't war among themselves as much, and instead focus on trade agreements to keep their own populous content. Wars for materials and resources are therefore the main reason for fighting to breakout between states when negotiations breakdown.
The current capital of Ospria has been such for some time since the ------- clan has been able to hold the crown for multiple generations, and as such the city holds a special status within the Empires economy. The nobility purchase and consumed many luxury goods and services in the capital, and as early as ------ the Ospria markets have been providing exotic products such as spices, incense, palm oil, gems, silks, furs and foreign weapons such as fire lances. Ospria is also an important hub for industrial activity; it has many blacksmiths making a wide range of goods, including decorative ironwork and clocks based of designs from --------.
Trade extends outside the Empires borders as well however, with the main export being rice, and silk being their most highly demanded luxury item, followed by their flower scented teas. Various food stuffs, timber, marble, pottery, ivory, metalwork, pearls and textiles also travel out of the Empire. This trade network is mostly overland however, and only really encompasses the territories of ------, with a few choice items being sent on through the -------- by middle men. The Empire makes little use of the Sea of Claws and the larger oceans to link with distant peoples as indigenous trade along rivers and canals is so fruitful, and piracy within the Glittergloom Sea by their own inhabitants is so rife that little profit could be made without a unified fleet to deal with the problem.
Mining and productionsMiner has been an important occupation for much of the regions history, giving the occupants a steady supply of bronze and then iron weapons to be used in their countless battles.
In the smelting process, huge bellows driven by river and canal fed waterwheels are used, and massive amounts of charcoal needed to be burned in the production process, leading to long term deforestation in the territory. However, by the end the ---------, the Nerallians discovered that using bituminous coke could replace the role of charcoal, hence many acres of forested land within the Empire were spared from the steel and iron industry with this switch of resources. Besides armour and weapons, iron and steel is used to mass-produce ploughs, hammers, needles, pins, nails for ships, musical cymbals, chains for suspension bridges, statues, and other routine items for an indigenous mass market, as well as also being a necessary manufacturing component for the production of salt and copper.
Tin mining is centered around the Duchies of Fivebridges and Hardwater where alluvial deposits are exploited. In history these mines have been valuable resources for exporting the material north where few tin mines existed, and up to the present have remained a sought after export good to places such as --------- and ----------.
A gold boom occurred in ----- after the discovery of gold near the town of --------- in The Duchy of Seopo. Huge quantities of gold were produced from a semicircle of mines reaching across the Dutchy and Windreach, with The Duchy of Argario and The County Palatine of Rais managing to grab some of the minable land as well. All together, up to three to four tonnes of gold was being mined each year. The result was a local economic boom and a major uplift to local finances and living, after some brief internal strife in the County about distribution.
TaxationThough the local kings, queens and various other rulers recognize the need for a common purse to protect and preserve the Empire, they are, as ever, simultaneously unwilling to surrender any power to the Emperor they don't need to. Thus, instead of a direct tax collected by the Emperor, obligations have been set through the Accord of Kings on the individual Bulls, Vijecnahs, Counts, Lords, Imperial Towns, and other political structures to provide a set number of horse and footmen, or a set amount of money based on the wages of the requested troops. The obligations of the territorial powers are based on a rough estimate of how wealthy each individual territory in the Empire is, with some of the larger, richer territories obligated to provide hundreds of men, while smaller states provided as few as five. Through this system, all the separate territories were obligated to pay something to the Empire, while leaving collection and payment of the tax up to the regional territorial powers, preserving their vaunted local independence.
This obligation can be multiplied when more funds are required, allowing the Emperor some flexibility in taxing his subjects while keeping the distribution somewhat equal among the various territories of the United Nerall Empire.
Nerallian warriors may seem undisciplined. Rebellious. Insubordinate. But that's what makes them so dangerous. They're allowed to think.The military might of the Empire has for most of its history been fairly undefinable. Units hold very little organization or set sizes, as individual units consist of a clanholds military output and a Captain chosen from among their number to lead them. Each clanhold, or "band", as they are still called, ranges from as few as 3 warriors, to as many as 200 members, with larger clans and kingdoms fielding multiple bands under a Captain or Warlord. Famous bands or Captains attract smaller bands to their banner, as Nerallians want to follow a powerful and successful battle leader that promises them the chance to accumulate loot or land, and being part of a famous band is an honour.
Elanians, while able to function as a traditional army, perform best when using small unit tactics, operating as their individual bands with riders passing open ended messages from the overall Captain or leader for what and where they should be. This is how they fight within the boarders of the Empire while raiding one another; skirmishes in the forests or hills before a final attack on a city if necessary, and it's how they prefer to tackle outsiders. When a field army is mustered, specialized units such as Ironbacks will join into single groups to make better use of their skills, but their individual loyalty remains with their clans band.
In the early days armies were massed when charismatic leaders able to command the loyalty of many bands emerged. As has been noted, Elanians are a fractious lot and bands fight against each other at least as often as they fight enemies if not given a constant stream of targets to focus on instead, and an army will fall apart entirely if left idle for too long. The last army put together like this was under the command of Empress -------- in ----, when she attacked north and saw much success in the field. That was until she came across determined resistance in the form of -------. The siege lasted for over three months, and eventually Empress -------- realized it would be better to head home with their loot and spoils rather than see her force break apart in foreign territory to loot and pillage, only to be picked apart and destroyed piecemeal.
Weapons of the Empire: 1) Hatchet; 2-3) War Axe; 4) Great Axe; 5-7) Macharis'; 8-11) Barigs; 12-14) Longsword; 15) Barigna; 16) Greatsword; 17-19) Swordspears; 20) Partisan; 21-22) Spears; 23) Javelin; 24) Firelance; 25-32) Warscythes
After this, most armies were raised in defence, where they could be quickly massed against a common foe, and then sent home again immediately after the threat was dealt with. Over time as the bulls and dukes gained more power and the Imperial clann lost more, the Empress found herself relying almost entirely on the goodwill of these increasingly autonomous rulers to lend military support to deal with anything bigger than her own Imperial Band could handle. That is until the threat posed by the ----------- in ----- saw the creation of the Army of the Empire by the Vijerec, where contingents of troops from the various parts of the Empire were called to arms under the Vijerec's banner rather than just mustering for battle at the Empresses call if they deemed it expedient for their own interests. The following ------ Wars lasted for fourteen years, during which the army proved its worth.
Over the next hundred years, the size of the Army was controlled either by the number of serving men being strictly regulated or by limits on the money that paid for it. The Vijerec aims to keep the armies strength at around 9,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry, paid for under the Accord of Kings. Money is also sometimes provided by some states instead of men to fulfill these military obligations to the Empire. The Army is not a permanent standing army and can only be deployed with the complete consent of the Vijerec. The Imperial Amy commanded by the Empress is the Empires permanent standing army. It mostly draws its strength from the Emperors own Kingdom which for the last few rulers has been Ospria, one of the largest states in the Empire. Being the Emperors army, it has many privileges within the Empires borders, such as being allowed to freely march through other states and recruit any who wish to join from all but the electoral states. Every state within the Empire also maintains its own standing army of various sizes depending on manpower, need, and cost. The Margraviate of Yuvraj for instance has a vast standing army to patrol the Empires Western
A warrior of the Empire is equipped by his own clan, usually through heirlooms or a clan smith, but is trained and maintained by his state. Enlistment is a full time occupation, with warriors remaining on active reserve until the age of 60. Coupled with the almost constant low level fighting and skirmishing between states and the Empire boasts garrisons and armies brimming with grizzled veterans of many campaigns, led by men and women of even greater strength and valor.
SkirmisherThe first weapon any young Nerallian is trained to fight with is the javelin. Under the tutelage of their parents they spend countless hours learning to aim and throw javelins before they ever get near a sword or axe. When a Nerallian is first chosen to join their clanholds band it is as a skirmisher. Speed is prized, so little armour is worn, and each skirmisher carries a bundle of javelins, a short sword or hand axe, and a small crescent shield. They range ahead of the band, finding the enemy, where they are not to engage the troops but to harass the enemy and pin them in place with hails of javelins.
As the skirmisher progresses they are taught to fight with spear, sword, and axe by their elders, but eventually they are suddenly subjected to menial tasks, pushed around, and given no further training. This continues until the skirmisher either demands entry among the other warriors, or looses it. Attacking their comrades with fists to no avail.
Short of breath and red faced the skirmisher has passed their entrance test. The young warrior must see themselves as equals to the other band members and deserving of respect, rather than being told they are ready. Thinking independently rather then feeling a sense of obedience. In this the band gains strength through free thinking warriors who respect and follow their chosen Captain, but still question them and bring up alternative ideas if they deem it necessary.
WarriorWarriors make up the largest part of any band. Warriors are melee infantry, armed with spears, swords, or axes. They typically wear light or medium lamellar armour, and carry a round shield. Some prefer two-handed weapons such as greatswords or axes.
Warriors are not known for their discipline, and do not fight in formation like their opponents might. Thus a band usually resembles a mob of individual fighters rather than a military unit. Warrior infantry relies on ferocity and the power of the charge to carry the day, breaking lines and causing the enemy to panic. In such cases the warriors are in their element, inflicting terror among the ranks and then taking advantage when the enemy turns and runs.
Such tactics can be countered by a determined and disciplined battle line that weathers the first wild charge, but many generals have discovered the hard way the difference between saying, and doing.
SwornswordA Swornsword, or Swornbrother/sister are the most elite veterans of a band. They are the bravest warriors from each band, hand-selected by their Captain or Warlord to serve as their chosen protectors.
Each warrior that has a place within this elite unit has earned their place by some exceptional feat of arms, for a Swornsword is chosen based on their deeds, rather than age or time served. As such, these small cadres maintain a mix of hot-blooded young warriors and stalwart Ironbacks among their ranks.
Captains will favour their chosen warriors with the best weapons and armour they can gather, and each member is expected to fight in the style at which they excel at. Not only do the Swornswords serve as bodyguards for their Captain or Warlord, but also as mentors for younger warriors. They make excellent role models, for their experience and talent is what earned them their esteemed position. As such, they are often attached to less experienced groups within the band to teach and lead them, taking a role similar to a sergeant in other militaries.
IronbackAn Ironback is a veteran warrior who serves as heavy infantry within their band, armoured head to foor in layered lamellar armour and fighting with heavy spears and long shields Unlike their younger kin, Ironbacks fight in formation. They are normally old, proud, and wise; commanding awe and respect from those of lesser years.
There are relatively few Ironbacks as so many warriors die in battle that only a minority survive. Such veterans are disciplined and steady in the heat of battle, taking their place in the centre of the battleline where they can punch through the enemies formation, disorganising the foe so the younger warriors can pour in after them to finish the job.
The trouble with ironback is that it takes time for them to form up and deploy on a battlefield. Time when frequently, the warriors surge forward to attack and leave the veterans behind. It takes a skilled to genera to hold the bands back so the ironbacks can strike the first blow.
ChampionA Champion is the bands finest and greatest warrior. They challenge the enemy and preforms the most heroic deeds. In every attack, he charges the strongest opponent and fights relentlessly until he has defeated them. To help in such a fight would mean diminishing the heroic deed and is considered unforgivable.
A Champion serves many key roles in rituals an ceremonies beyond the battlefield as well. When two or more bands join, it is their Champions that first meet in ceremonial combat to determine the pecking order among them. Brawls, especially among Elanians will still occur after, but it helps. Other roles such as the acceptance of new skirmishers into the band, promotions to higher ranks, and accompanying their Captains to larger meetings within an army are also duties given to the Champion.
Some bands will have additional traditions that their Champion will take part in, but in general, the Champion represents the band and defend its honour with weapon and will.
WarcrowSome Champions grow bored or neglectful of their ceremonial roles within the band. They wish only to fight and kill on the battlefield, and even the mock duels between Champions is not enough to sate them. At such a time the Champion steps down from his role and allows someone else to take up the mantle.
For such warriors there are few places for them to go, and so they give themselves over fully to warfare and battle. After countless duels on hundreds of battlefields they begin to believe themselves invincible, as do their bands, and to such fighters what use is armour but a useless weight to slow the body and weapon? They become known as Warcrows, warriors that go into battle alone and unarmoured, dressed only in loose clothes and their Champions headress, bedeckd in pendants and fetishes of Morr and ----------. They seek the greatest opponents regardless of where they are, suicidally jumping spear walls to get at the commanders where they become a whirlwind of flashing blades and blood.
Such warriors cannot be controlled by Captain or Warlord, and cannot be deployed to any sort of plan. Only released at the beginning of a battle and dug out from the mound of corpses afterwards.
SpotterA skirmisher that shows promise in the hit-and-run style of warfare, or who prefers to roam under open skies rather than remaining with the close-nit clan band may find themselves under the tutelage of the bands scout, under whom they take the roll of spotter. Here they learn the arts of hunting, tracking, stealth and infiltration.
The hills, forests and open plains are the Spotters’ new home, and here they learn every game trail, river, tree, and hill within the surrounding area of their clanhold. They are lightly armed, well camouflaged and tough. They watch and take notes.
ScoutA small group of Nerallian Scouts can have a hugely outsized effect on a large battle compared to almost any other unit. Their role has been perfected over generations of unfair or onesided wars against massive northern empires looking to conquer them. Where armies failed, the Elanians broke up into dozens of smaller groups, each fighting tooth and nail for their freedom; destroying bridges, assassinating enemy leaders, planting traps in the dark forests, and preparing ambushes. Many times they still lost, but the empires bled rivers for their trouble.
Scouts are the evolution of this style of small unit warfare. They observe and analyse the enemy, providing intelligence for their parent band or army, while also operating as infiltrators; silencing guards, starting fires, and causing other distractions for their band to take advantage of. Once battle is joined, scouts continue their work, assassinating officers and messengers, as well as striking at the enemies rear, cutting off escapes, and severing supply lines until the enemy army is completely hamstrung.
Their style has been adopted by many other cultures, such as the Marines of the -----------, who themselves have been copied by multiple other factions, the various spy organizations of the ----------, and the secretive Order of the Black Rose within the Cult of Morr.
CaptainA Captain, who still gains the title of “Warchief” in times of battle, is the elected leader of a clanholds band. They are chosen from among their peers as the most respected member of the clan, as well as most militarily gifted and for their ability to lead. It is the Captain who decides when the band will go to war, and where they will fight. They lead the family into danger, spur it on, and keeps it together. If one of their warriors fall, it is the Captain who is held responsible by the band and the ancestors.
He is guarded closely by Swornswords and his Champion, who takes any challenges against him in his stead so he may continue to lead and issue orders uninterrupted. It is not the Captains place to fight for personal glory but to keep the band alive, through this they gain honour, prestige, and renown as a good Captain that others would wish to follow, this way, a Captain may one day become a Warlord.
Lost SoulLost Souls, or Lone Souls, are a natural byproduct of the unique familial structure and warrior brotherhood of the Nerallian culture. Unlike in most militaries where soldiers are frequently reassigned and units combined to replaces casualties, Nerallian families fight together as a single band until death claims them all.
Families may marry and their bands join, but it will take a number of generations before the two bands form into one. Familial bonds grow ever stronger as the years pass, each band becoming may times the sum of its individual parts as they live and fight together. So strong is this bond that every band member keenly understands the sense of loss left by the absence of their family members, and a Lost Soul has suffered the loss of their entire band, usually meaning the destruction of the clan as a whole. To so suddenly loose this kinship is a psychologically traumatic experience that few can fully understand.
Though Nerallians traditionally face death with a jovial fatalism, the thought of fighting and dying completely alone is something few relish.
A Lost Soul is vengeance incarnate, stopping at nothing to avenge their fallen kin, hurling themselves into the thick of the fighting without hesitation so that they may win great glory for their fallen kin or a good death in battle. Other bands do not necessarily shun them, but do see them as bad luck: for how is a person who saw their band destroyed and did not die with them not, unlucky.
If such a warrior does not find death, but finds vengeance instead, the warrior can often find they have a place among a Warlords Swornswords, though whether they accept the position is up to them. For some, death is the only release, not new companionship.
BattlemageWhen a member of the clan shows signs of awakening sickness, they are sent to one of the Cult temples to learn and control their burgeoning powers. Once taught, they can either stay within the Cult and work their way through its hierarchy and travel Tural, or return to their clan and be honoured as a mage.
Within the clan they become a sort of holy person; a priest of the Cult they were trained in who also uses their powers to benefit the family. In times of war, a mage may decide to join the clan on the battlefield as a Battlemage. Alone they can be quite powerful, but those of the same dream were often trained together in the same temple in their youth, and share a bond that leads to the forming of cadres between clans. Such Cadres work together to maximize their effectiveness on the battlefield by magnifying one another's spells.
ShamanTo become a Shaman, a mage must be of the A'kin Dream. A shaman is the one a clan member goes to in order to speak with their ancestors, an important practice among Elanians, and one the Cult of Morr is forever trying to monopolise. A Shaman must be wise, teaching the clan old rites, lessons from their past, and the clans history, as well as more earthly needs such as medicine ad herb lore.
To learn such things themselves a prospective Shaman must travel, and speak with members of cults or clans to learn what they can. In so doing they create bonds outside the clan that can be called on for aid later.
WarlordWarlord is a title given to kings, queens, duchesses and anyone with the brutality and cunning to come out on top of hundreds of confrontations, both physical and political, in order to raise and hold a force of multiple large bands under their banner. Only the Empress is above such powerful leaders, and has the power to call them to her in times of great peril, and when the Vijerec deems it necessary.
All Warlords have advisers, mostly famous Captains and Shamans from within their army, though they are not always listened to. Their Swornswords are also drawn not only from their own Clans band, but uniquely, from other bands under their command as well. Usually only one from each as a show of unity, but ultimately acting as armed hostages for good behaviour. As expected, especially of Elanians, this can lead to terrible inner fighting when the army begins to break up, but it remains a continued practice even so.
United Nerall Empire
CapitalTravelling court with no permanent fix location.
Ospria (Imperial Palace and Emperors Court)
(Imperial Chamber Court)
GovernmentConfederal elective monarchy
Population5,020,600 as of the census of -----
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