The Holy, Ever-turning Wheel The Ouroboros of Steel
North of Anatar, the eastern possession of the Dragon Veles
Another kingdom had fallen. The Dragon’s tributaries blew their trumpets on their walls, sounding alarm to the distant south. Their hollow choir resounded far over untamed fields. A score of sound so vast had seldom been heard in this region, and all denizens of these lands knew, and trembled, about a great foe unlike any before had come upon them.
Down from the hyperborean midnight mountain a new people descended for slaughter. They arrived from beyond Anatar, driven by whips and the pounding of thundering wheels. Their vanguard was a consuming flame, as they came blazing through the green valleys to leave smouldering desolation in their tracks. Once green and pleasant lands, now its peaceful earth is defiled by the nomad claw -- its radiant settlements rendered smoking ruins.
The landed armies could not stand; as blades of grass the touch of hooves trampled them. These northern savages -- these hyperborean charioteers were known as the Schayan. And those misfortunate to come into direct contact with them saw them as an ungodly and barbaric race of wicked men. The invasion had been ongoing for less than a week, and already many met a violent end. The local leaders were captured or routed, their wives and children held as hostages and trophies, among them King Makhawon’s family. They took food and cattle, and burned most else. The Schayan savages have no concept knowledge of currency. They cannot be bribed with gold, and they cannot be battled without external support, without the patronage of the gods, without a fell overlord...
They took what they could, burnt the rest, and mysteriously as the Schayan had come -- they disappeared. They had no interest in the Dragon’s domain, for they merely sought to singe his pride before pushing onward to an eastern horizon. Their true aim lay far, far away. Beyond mountains, valleys, forests, dunes and fire. Their patron Sky-father, Dyauphater his name, had promised the Schayan their own Kingdom by the sea in a fertile river delta, in a great valley flanked by impregnable mountains. A land of immortality, a land of gods. The Schayan were wholly convinced that this strange and far-away land they had never even seen is their birthright. And so they cannot dawdle in some fell serpent’s domain. They answer boldly the call of their great destiny!
The great host was led by a chieftain that the Schayan dubbed ‘the Sky-King’. His name is Appareimos -- the champion who had united the tribes, and thereafter elected by the chieftains to lead their coalition, before setting them on this great journey. They were drunk on visions of glory, adventure and unknown lands. So drunk that few truly grasped the likelihood that they ride only to their doom. But no doom in Anatar can daunt the Schayan, and they ride to meet their fate manfully. Under the Sky-King’s stalwart leadership the Schayans will pass the trials of Anatar and reach the promised kingdom by the sea.
Leaving a trail of smoke and defiled fields scarred from a thousand wheels, the host of Appareimos comes upon the Northern Borderlands of Akkylonia… It is here, after months of scouring through valley after valley, that the Schayan host sets up their camp, and hold council. King Appareimos summons the elders and chieftains.
‘’We are now at the precipice of the immortal lands of Akkylonia. Tales of their exploits are known the world over. What glory when we show the world that we have surpassed these people in battle! We can become immortal in these lands. ‘’ These were lines used to commence the meeting in the Sky King’s yurt, uttered by Rival Chieftain Regiokartos. The King’s foremost shield bearers and companion confidantes assembled there with him, as their council determines the path the Schayan should trek.
Appareimos grunts, his mind traversing the realm of doubt. ‘’Akkylonia is not our Kingdom by the Sea. We must not lose sight of the true objective, and commit our hearts and minds to that. We can not dawdle or challenge doom prematurely.’’
‘’Doom?’’ The chieftain snarls in disdain. ‘’This had best not come across as fear to the follower tribes. Your strength is the reason that brought them together. Do not fail them through cowardice.’’ ‘’Cowardice? I am well beyond that. Do not lecture me on this, you goblin. It’s not death that daunts me. Rather the state of the Schayan people’s soul… For the heavens assigned us one great domain as ours in specific -- not just any. We must not deviate from Heaven's Will, doom or no. Whichever path we so choose; doom comes all ways, be sure of that.’’
On this, Regiokartos proclaims with bellowing voice: ‘’So? SO? Then we shall greet it with blade and fire! As we have always done!’’
‘’Yes, we shall… Regiokartos.’’ The High King twiddles with strands of his brownish beard as he looks at the rival chieftain with a coy, petulant gaze, and Regiokartos immediately flinches back with mistrust. ‘’The Schayan people need a doomdriven warlord as yourself to detour into the Kingdom by the Sea through the eastern route, as the bulk of the Host will traverse Akkylonia. Surely the fiercest among the Schayan chieftains can’t be daunted by this.’’
‘’Daunted? Me? Never. My chariots will race you to the Sea. We shall arrive there long before you, mark my words, Sky King.’’
The Sky King beams with pleasure, before dismissing the council from his yurt. Then he calls for his daughter: ‘’Atyloppih! I need you as envoy to the Akkylonian King...’’
Soiryndia: Miranid eastern frontier - February, 4907 YDC Fourth Cycle of the Fararual Calendar - Season of the Scion
For many years the borderlands between the Miranid Satrapy of Ümre and the Unbroken Host ebbed to-and-fro the city of Kand since the Luminescent’s dynasty passed from the coil of V’landriel. For long the Miranids relied on local human Tzücoman command to stem the tide of the Unbroken Host’s expansion into deeper Transtulania, while Miran’s army advanced against the Monurchen dynasts in Outer Keychuria.
As the battle against the Unbroken Host was a personal vendetta for the Gurkani, Miran deliberately saved them for last, when he was at the peak of his nascent power… The Miranid men and beasts were hardened from a lifetime of warfare. With skill and courage they had fought at Miran’s side through these long years in the face of much adversity, and against some of the fiercest warriors native to Soiryndia. From the Gnolls to the various races of Men, to the Üarim and even the simian Monurchen -- each was now accounted a Miranid, a subject of Miran, and adept warlords all.
It was time to bring the last defiant regions of Transtulania into Miran’s fold, and thereby end this bloody reunification for good and all. The Son-in-law and avenger of the Luminescent bloodline insisted on leading the charge against the Apostate Prophet - this pretender ‘Godseer’ - in person... Even after a decade, his foot is still rendered lame from his fight against the Godseer’s champion; the long dead Husayim the Grey. A man of particular guile and aptitude, the Unbroken Host had surely not seen his likeness again. And with their greatest heroes succumbed, their forces stretched thin, and their armies exhausted, the Godseer’s Unbroken Host is now more vulnerable than ever. In a grand spectacle of slaughter, the Miranids will now scatter his forces and reveal to them the weakness of their false God. The time to strike was now!
The Miranids had carved their way through Unbroken territory to advance directly to the seat of the Seer’s power. Their black and red double headed eagle standards -- a mockery of Yllendyr’s banner in Miran’s own bid for Empire -- protruded to the very gates of the capital of Letyeh. They had broken the Unbreakable, and cut a swathe through the dire ranks of the south. The screaming mobs of the despoiled that heralded the approach of the false god’s hosts had been felled; the braying savage hordes the Seer had led out of their untamed pastures were routed; even the terrible sworn legions of the Sijrdomen, the zealous warriors clothed in black and gold, had been beaten aside. In truth, the advance had been most hard-fought at the frontier in the lands of Kand, where uncounted servants of the God-Seer still rampaged, and had become more and more easy as they pushed further into the domain of the Host. The lands around them had been almost eerily desolate. Even under the ancient walls of the city of Letyeh, which had become infamous as the Throne of the Unbroken, only a small force had come forth to meet them, clamouring and bellowing fanatically, and what many had expected to be the apex of the war had ended in a short, if bloody struggle. Ultimately the Miranid Oliphaunts and their scores of cannons carried the day. However not even the mightiest cannon in the Miranid arsenal was equipped against the city’s most redoubtable defense. It was not one that could be routed on the battlefield. Perhaps foreseeing the defeat of its guards, the master of Letyeh had cast a great enchantment over his capital. Flames coursed over the surface of its walls like skin lay over flesh, barring the way to all the gates with a blistering halo and towering over the citadel in a crackling dome. Though the stone below them appeared unharmed, no one could pass through that fiery barrier without being reduced to cinders. Not even the Miranid gryphons could soar through overhead.
This God-Seer was a mighty sorcerer indeed… But he is a deceiver, a false-god and apostate prophet. He stands no chance against the power of a true god, which the warriors of the old Luminescence will soon demonstrate. When the Miranids came upon the burning barrier safeguarding Letyeh against the Miranid claw, they understood a specialist would be required to dispel the Seer’s blistering hex. As such Miran promptly called upon the new Arch Magus Antaxaxes to be brought over to the frontier. However, curse that Deceiver Prophet! His little tricks and games had stalled the Miranid war effort by at least a few days, while they idly had to wait for Antaxaxes’ arrival. Even in the Unbroken Host’s obvious defeat, the seer denies Miran his rightful victory!
And so a few days did pass, till at last the Fararual Arch Magus dawned in the company of many Luminescent Magi. With his golden skin, arcane scepter and flaming hair, the Fararual wizard is surely a rare and imposing sight, not least when he in great spectacle smote his rod into the dome’s fiery surface. And with much chanting, prayer, twirling and a generous use of ritual incense, the inferno shielding Letyeh began to lose potency…
The gates of Letyeh were bared and deserted. And seeing this, a choir of deafening and trembling Üarim war trumpets resound as hellish braying from atop the Oliphaunts. The leading Tzücoman Warchief in his red dotted black cloak of Miranid heraldry, issues prompt command: ‘’Western clans! Clear the Letyehan walls!’’ The Üarim General follows with his own command. ‘’Satrap retainers! Clear the Letyehan streets!’’ The Fararual Arch Magus ends the series of commands by barking an order of his own. ‘’All Luminescentines! Clear the Letyehan skies!’’
Under flaming hail, dust of hooves, smoke from gunnery, the screaming and snorting of men and beasts, barrages of arrows and the clinking of steel from warbands of men, the Miranids stormed the Unbroken Host’s capital.
The city had once been the richest and most magnificent in Umar-Jahan, and though not as ancient as the monolithic abodes of the first Fararuals, the spectacle within its walls was venerable as well as opulent. Its sharp-angled buildings of red desert stone rose proudly in simple, yet imposing shapes. After the custom of southerners, its arches were few and rounded, and reliefs decorated the doorways of the greatest structures. Though many of them were defaced, no doubt to remove old symbols of faith, some temples and pillars, palaces and barracks bore fresh carvings of suns inlaid with the Host’s triangular sign, surprisingly well-crafted and elaborate for having been left by an army of furious zealots.
But, these houses, towers and any stations of office all lay deserted, as though they had been ransacked by savages before any subject of Miran ever could lay a finger on Letyehan property. And furthermore, not a single soul was to be sighted. Did the Unbroken Host pillage their own city? Once more the Miranids were left confounded. Though they were repeatedly supreme in the field, at every turn the conniving Seer and his Host manages to be ahead of them in guile. ‘’The city has been evacuated. The fiery dome was but mere diversion put in place by great sorcerery.’’ The Magus must regretfully state to the lines of fighting men.
‘’Axbak-Camen damn those goat fondlers to inferno! Where is our rightful booty?’’ The first of the Miranid warbands lament indignantly, seeing their prizes being denied to them. ‘’We had to wait three days FOR THIS?’’ ‘’Pick through the rubble you lot! They might’ve missed a trinket or three!’’ The Tzücoman general screams, who had just whipped his Griffon over the gate to commandeer his men.
While bands of Tzücomen and Gnolls were tearing apart remnants to the buildings lining the interior streets, Miran’s personal Üarim cohorts advanced to the plaza and palace where the Hosts’ governing body was presumed to be seated. Their eyes were naturally directed towards a great citadel at the centre of the city. This citadel, once the dwelling of the illustrious Satraps of the south, loomed with the air of an impregnable stronghold. Though its windows were richly decorated to resemble so many watchful eyes, they were tall and narrow rather than broad. Its walls were smooth and polished, but thick and sturdy, and its roof peculiarly slanted to resist the strikes of catapults from more archaic times. The olden rulers of the city had evidently thought well to be twice safe within their walls, and it was clear that whoever held the palace could have withstood a siege. Yet its mighty iron doors were ajar, and silence hung within its drowsy halls.
Some of the Miranid hosts’ foremost and senior officials gathered in the boulevard before the citadel. Making sure no gnoll or another of the many savages in the army would desecrate the search for clues therein, the Üarim Satrap sent some of his own cohorts to scour the building in orderly fashion. Those men, carrying arquebuses and torches to light the way, trod through the iron doors, and through many dark winding stone hallways until they came upon the nethermost hall, the lair of the Godseer. Unsurprisingly; the entire way throughout the citadel it was devoid of life.
Indeed, even in that innermost sanctuum, only the dead awaited them. Strewn across a gilded table, whose surface glimmered in the light of four braziers, was a veneer of ash, fine and macabre. For a moment, the party stood hesitantly upon the threshold, peering into the shadows between the flickering flames; for each of the men thought he had glimpsed, for the briefest moment, a pale, fleeting vision in that uneven darkness - a distant and distorted simulacrum of a familiar face. Kindred, lovers, brothers in arms twisted and faded in the illusory penumbra like tortured spirits, and though the ephemeral nature of these sights betrayed their unreality, born of the solemn tension and eerie sorcery that alone dwelt in the deserted palace, they were troubling none the less.
And as the vanguard hovered uncertainly by the entrance to the deep chamber, awed by the larval visages they thought they saw, a new, still ghastlier emanation began to gather in the unhallowed sanctuary. The braziers’ light twisted strangely over the ash-covered table, and an impalpable wind seemed to disturb the cremated remains, though the air was ever as heavy and silent. Motes of strangely drifting dust and sparks refracted from thin air wove themselves into a dimly glowing cloud, which steadily took shape. It was in some ways akin to the fabled Efreets the Transtulanians had sometimes heard of in tales, just as ethereal and otherworldly, but its form was a hideous mockery of such noble beings of myth. Pale and stunted, it had many gnarly arms, most of which hung deadly along its sides, and seven heads of uncertain smoky features eyelessly gazed from its hunched shoulders.
“He consigned us to doom and torment,” the spectre whispered in a congeries of faint, broken voices, “Beware, lest he condemn all you know to the same.” And with those few ominous words, the tortured echoes of the last rulers of Umar-Jahan finally passed from the world, and the evil presences in the chamber were dispelled.
The Üarim vanguard leave the citadel to report their findings. Even for all their discipline, it was nevertheless evident they had been unnerved by their findings. But they carried themselves manfully all the same. Hearing the report, the Satrap looks to the Arch Magus. ‘’We have searched the building, and it should come not as surprise that naught was recovered.’’
‘’Those spirits -- Doubtless say I, it is the Sinner Seer’s attempt to recreate the efreet. A reminder not to tinker lightly with ghosts of the dead, as they carry an unspoken will that overshadows the conjurer.’’ Antaxaxes exclaims with a sonorous lament. ‘’The Gurkani had best been brought awares of the foe’s elusion - though pleased he won’t be! For now the breath of the Gods hangs unbroken. From their high thrones, their star orbs shall seem only a burning and a fever. Until the hunt for the Apostate Seer, who has so brazenly profaned the cosmic order -- first against the Luminescent dynasty, now against the dead -- is resolved to final completion.’’
Though it was an empty and largely ceremonial victory, the Miranids hoist their banners in the fashion of conquerors, over the walls and citadel of Letyeh. The battle is won, but the war continues on.
The double-headed eagle was based on the eagle of Yllendir, whose colony the Miranids had come into contact with. Miran had adopted the double-headed eagle as coat of arms for his own aspiring empire; one to rival Yllendir.
Type of Government: Empire Head(s) of Government: Pir Miran Shaykh Gurkani, abroad known as Miran the Lame, because he walks with a limp. He does not refer to himself as an Emperor, however, but as a placeholder for ‘the true luminescent emperor’… He uses the title ‘Gurkani’ (son-in-law) Economy Exports: A lot of dairy, spices, carpets, cattle, animal pelts, mounts and in the mountainous regions minerals as quicksilver, lead and charcoal. Economy Imports: The inhabitants of Transtulania have feverishly relied on Amrea to introduce newer and modern weaponry to Soiryndia. Though at times marauding warbands would make attempts to cross over into different lands to return with booty, particularly the colony of Yllendyr, the most technologically advanced region of the entire continent… Sometimes with success, but usually never to be seen again.
Fararual Elves – If they can be considered Elves at all is up to debate. Within the Miranid Empire, they are a caste of clergy and magistrates. Fararuals are the fire kissed progeny of the Fire God, they are immune to burning and are naturally gifted fire sorcerers. For all their expertise however, they grow weak in the absence of sunlight and especially at night. Historically the Fararuals built the first civilization in Transtulania with remnants of their Ziggurats and Fire Temples lining the steppes to this very day. They number few, and procreation is a great ordeal, for pregnancies take long, and miscarriages are all too common. This is because a Fararual womb is as a furnace, and a newborn spawn worthy of entering this world must literally pass a trial by fire before they may join their brethren among the living. This excruciating breeding process ensures the potency of their offspring, at the very least. The perpetually low birthrate of pureblood Fararuals and common miscarriages has for thousands of years opted male Fararuals to breed with humans, their slaves, which gave rise to the Üarim race.
When a Fararual dies, their bodies innate magical energies escape, causing the corpse to disintegrate to ashes.
Üarim – Considered a race in their own right, they are technically humans of half or partial Fararual descent. Other cultures would consider them ‘halfbreeds’ or a ‘bastard race’, though the Üarim themselves certainly do not regard themselves as such. Rather as 'lesser Fararuals', for the pureblood Fararuals are regarded by them as a divine race of ancestors, venerated to the point of worship. To preserve their Fararual blood the Üarim breed only among themselves. They are physically more robust than humans, olive skinned, dark haired and with bright orange eyes resembling sundisks and somewhat pointed ears betraying their ancestry, they appear otherwise not too dissimilar from humans. They are famous beastmasters and huntsmen that have harnessed wildland spawn ranging from warhounds, warglar, golems, griffönlu and, most of all, the tremendous Oliphaunts; their trademark superweapon. In the warmth of the sun is where they excel, as it genuinely makes them stronger and fiercer warriors. Because of their Fararual ancestry they are also naturally resistant (but not immune) to burning. The Üarim people originally comprised the armies of the Fararuals. Today, with the Fararuals slowly going extinct and taking on spiritual & ascetic roles in Transtulanian society, the Üarim became self-serving and under Miran Gurkani, rose to the top in their own bid of empire building, and accordingly form the core of the Miranid Empire’s leadership. Temperamental, aggressive and innately expansionist (let’s just say they have fiery temperaments); in the absence of powerful leaders or warlords, Üarim would go rogue to form marauding warbands and sell sword armies.
Tzücomen – Full blooded humans, the largest majority and natives to the steppes of Transtulania. Throughout history they’ve been serfs and roaming herdsmen, and in ancient times many were slaves of the Fararuals. They are distinguished from other humans by their swarthy complexion and artificially deformed cone-shaped skulls, achieved through ritual head binding. They have a long history of cooperation and kinship with the Üarim. Their warriors too fill the ranks of the Miranid army as auxiliaries. Militarily they have some uses as light cavalry and skirmishers, due to being lighter weight than their often bulkier Üarim cousins. Many Tzücomen live abroad and are prone to adopting many aspects of foreign cultures. The Tzücomen living in Keychuria consist of a large minority, and are much more Amrean-leaning than their northern kinsmen, residing in sedentary, landed communities and townships.
Arier Galians - Locals to Ariers Haven, they are an offshoot of the Galians that sought their fortunes further north in establishing an independent colony. Isolated by wildlands infested by Gnolls, however, they are depended on maritime ties and relations with their cousins in New Galia. Being poorly armed against increasingly aggressive and cunning Gnolls, the Arier Galians were increasingly undermanned and their garrisons spread thin. As such the Arier Galians are one of few realms in Transtulania that willingly offered their vassalage to Miran to avoid a savage conquest and destruction of their property.
Denizens of Keychuria, depicting (from left to right) Zhuxi, Monurchen and Amrean-Tzücomen. Monurchen – A Simian people with a proud martial tradition. Monurchen are aggressive, but not savage. Hot tempered, but not unreasonable. They share many aspects of Amrean culture, and even acknowledge the universal rule of their Empress. As such, a leader of the Monurchen dons the title of ‘Prince’, rather than crowning themselves Emperor likewise. There is but one sun in the sky, and likewise but one sovereign on earth. They hail from the Principality of Outter Keychuria, with Inner Keychuria and their southern kinsmen being located across the Amrean border. Today the Keychurian domain serves in Miran’s mighty army, some out of free will, most coerced by force.
Zhuxi – A hog-people living as a minority in Keychuria along the Monurchen. The Zhuxi aren’t known as lookers. In fact, they are often reviled and looked down upon for their grotesque shapes. This is undeserved as the Zhuxi are overwhelmingly a wise and kind-hearted people, living simple rural lives and known as great agrarians. They seldom travel far, and uniquely have no inborn taste for the lure of power, luxury or wealth. More often than not, they are perfectly happy living a simple lifestyle among friends and family. Being so reliable and uninterested in the sinister dynamic of power, the Zhuxi have since ages past sometimes served as advisors, coaches and confidante’s to dynasts and viceroys in Amrea and Transtulania both.
Gnülonlar – Sapient canines resembling hyenas walking on two legs. Other cultures would call them Gnolls, and they are natives of the sandy northern wastelands of Transtulania. They are less intelligent than their equally savage human and Üarim neighbours. But while being driven by the most base of instincts and generally dimwitted, they are also capable of acts of shrewd cunning. They make for excellent ambushers and surveyors, and more so than any man can analyze weakness and opportune moments to strike. Because they are arid creatures, and smaller and generally weaker than men, they require less food to sustain themselves and breed rapidly. However as they are carnivores native to an arid dominion, food is sparse, and thus for ages now the Gnulonlar were locked in endless cycles of tribal warfare against each other where they kill and eat other Gnulonlar; this having the effect of a self-imposed population control. They rely on numbers and savagery and make for excellent shock infantry and skirmishers.
Efreets - Holy and revered entities that live between worlds, Efreets only appear in the confines of religious sanctuaries and other holy sites such as temples. They are conjured from the ashes of dead Fararuals, based on the Fararual's innate magic still contained in those ashes. They are not spirits of the dead, but rather an afterglow, a memory, of the dead Fararual magically given form. They often serve as oracles, and their words are always very cryptic. The meaning behind which (if there are any) is entirely up to interpretation.
Golems - Beasts of animated Stone said to have come into being through an ancient curse. They are native to the rocky dunes and canyons in the north where they are spawned through wizardry. The Golems resemble gorillas, and are barely sapient, but do understand war. The Üarim beastmasters had long since tamed them and used them as an integral part of their wars.
Literacy: The population, save for the Fararuals and high-standing Üarim, is almost completely illiterate. It is whispered that Miran himself barely knows how to write or read. Population: some 70 to 80 million total, the vast majority of which conquered peoples. The heartlands of Transtulania are compared to surrounding lands arid and sparsely populated. Most of the population live around rivers and in the recently annexed territories closest to Amrea and Wulfram.
Fararual Elves: 40.000. Pureblood Fararuals are a dying breed. Most of them live in the Holy City of Aranagh; the spiritual centre of the Miranid Empire.
Üarim: 30 million, after the Tzücomen the largest majority of the Miranids and rulers of the Empire’s heartlands, namely the Fararu Luminescence (their ancestral place-of-origin) and the Satrapies.
Human Races: Tzücomen: 45 million Arier Galians: 2 million
Beast Races: Monurchen: (monkey people) 7 million Zhuxi: (pig people)80,000 Amreans: (fox people)50,000 Gnülonlar (hyena people): 22 million Ukani (bug people): 2 million
Culture: Patriarchal and warlike. Every man is expected to be capable of basic martial prowess, archery and life in the saddle of whichever beast they have mastered, a tradition that echoes bygone ages. In addition to the people's rogue lifestyle, very few leaders have been able to assert control over the unruly masses. Üarim respect strength above all, for strength and confidence are the measure of a man.
Despite increasing urbanization, the majority of the population live a rural and nomadic lifestyle, and less than a quarter of the population comprise of city dwellers. Most Üarim and certainly every Tzücoman, no matter how poor, herds cattle for sustenance and owns a steed.
Spicy food that burn your taste buds is a big deal in Transtulanian diet, and it is the spice trade (importation and exportation alike) what made Transtulanian cities wealthy. Chili and peppers Üarim people eat on a daily basis.
Religious and Other Beliefs: The Sun God (the same as Amrea's) with emphasis placed on the Üarim and Fararual’s own patron Fire God; Axbak Camen
According to ancient legend and oral tradition, many thousands of years ago Axbak Camen was the first Emperor of the Fararuals that ruled an Empire spanning every corner of Soiryndia. Upon death, the Fararuals believe his spirit ascended to Godhood, and in Transtulania he is revered as 'the Fire God, first son of the Sun God'. Beyond this key difference, their religious practices are virtually the same as those of Amrea.
Location/Territories: Much of the present Miranid borders comprise a land referred to as Transtulania.
Climate: Very diverse, though overwhelmingly (sub-)tropical and arid. From north to south:
In the Keychurian Principality and Ariers Haven; forests and lush rolling hills
In the Gnülonlar Badlands and Uar-Ög; arid, mountainous with canyons everywhere
In the Fararu Luminescence, Tzücomen Beyliks, Ümre and Ushji-Dash; grassy steppes and flat riverlands
Military: There is a tremendous emphasis on war beasts in the Miranid Army, and it is their harnessing of beasts that has been their truly distinguishing strength.
Oliphaunts - great Elephants native to the southern Transtulanian plateau. Indomitable and titanic creatures, their steps are a prelude to devastation. Few have the skill to tame and harness their power, and among the Üarim the secret has been passed down to befriending these monsters. For over a thousand years they have been the Üarim superweapon.
Griffönlu - Great beasts, vaguely reminiscent of horses combined with eagles; since ancient times the chief source of Üarim power. When their enemies were confined to the mortal coil of land, the luminescent army took to the skies. Today, with competitors also having a similar access to aerial combat, this boon had been somewhat negated.
Mounted archery - In this day that largely means rifles and fire-arms, though there are some (namely from the Tzücomen Beyliks) that still use old fashioned bow and arrow, and lances for charging.
Or Gnüllonlar as they are known by the Üarim, are the relatively ‘domesticated’ Gnolls that have pledged their servitude to the Miranids . They are numerous, ferocious but ultimately expendable. The Miranids regard them as being more beast than sapient, and thereby account them as part of their arsenal in beastmastery.
The different races listed above give an insight to the purpose each race serves in the Miranid army, with Tzücomen and Gnülonlar being generally cheap levies and rank-fillers, the Golems as crude fantasy-tanks, and the Üarim as competently versatile professional soldiers.
Magic Prevalence/Usage: Fire! And conjuring tempests.
History/ Background Info: Miranid History is linked to the warlord Miran Shaykh Gurkani, whose history goes back only a few decades; prior to then the lands of Transtulania (so named for the Tulani river separating it from Amrea) overseen by the Fararual Luminescence, with the Fararuals being regarded an aristocratic and priestly race to whom all lesser races pay homage. It is known that in ancient times, Transtulania was part of the Amrean Empire and the first Emperors are to this day revered in Transtulania and considered as their Emperors as well. Transtulania had been separated from the Southern Empire by a northern dynasty led by Fararuals two thousand years ago.
For at least the last millennium the lands of Transtulania had been ruled by a Fararual High Priest known as ‘The Luminescent’ from the Holy City of Aranagh. Though his authority was never absolute, and he was more of an over-arching spiritual leader over the various warring nations of Transtulania. The Arch Luminescent was commonly disobeyed and sometimes even opposed by the Üarim states.
The Luminescent’s sovereignty ended a century ago when the divine bloodline of the Luminescent ended without male successor. In the absence of a central religious authority, there was no incentive for the nations of Transtulania to show any further allegiance to another. The Fararuals had become too weak and few to control their Üarim subjects. Tensions finally blew over when Üarim warlords made a bid to power to fill the power vacuum and effectively replace the Luminescent. Among the most recent of these warlords to ascend to prominence was Miran.
The turmoil of Transtulania was exacerbated with the arrival of the Old World some 5 decades ago; the establishment of the imperial colony of Yllendyr carrying sinister and alien weaponry. Their coming was regarded as an omen, and prompted the Fararuals to prophecy the imminent fall of their world; a fall which only a new Luminescent could avert.
Miran’s career began when he was charged to lead a continent-spanning search for a new Luminscent. He was born Miran Shaykh, of lesser Üarim noble birth in a long line of Holy Defenders sworn to the Holy City of Aranagh. Ever since the passing of the last Luminescent, Miran’s family had no master to serve, and had been scouring Transtulania and beyond for any clue to a possible replacement. He is a man strong in body and relentlessness in spirit, and though his career as a warrior painted for himself a font of a vicious brute and killer, he draws little enjoyment from his bloodsoaked deeds. His true passion is - (don't laugh!) - in writing poetry. In fact it was his writing that caused Miran from a young age to befriend the Luminescent’s Daughter; the Fararual woman Mulk Khamun.
Miran had opted to break tradition by favoring Mulk Khamun’s ascendency as the next Luminscent, however as she was a woman this was not supported.
One day a Magus aligned with the Unbroken Host had Mulk Khamun seized and brought to the monolithic city of Kand, of which Grand Temple he was Master of Rites, in a bid to sacrifice her to the Sun God. He was known as the Hierophant. This was to reverse the decline of the dying race of the Fararuals. Only one of such potent divine lineage would make for an offer powerful enough to invoke the protection of the Sun God. Immediately Miran mustered his band of Holy Defenders and pursued the Hierophant to the gates of Kand. They prepared the investment on the City, however Axbak-Camen willing, one of Miran’s old friends was among the city guard, and agreed to smuggle him inside. At seeing the Holy Defender barging into his temple, the Hierophant mistakenly believed Kand had fallen, and he rushed into a hidden passage leading outside of the walls… Where Miran’s men had been stationed, and easily captured the Hierophant. Later that month he was presented in chains before Aranagh’s Grand Magus to answer for his crime against the divine bloodline. This feat accomplished, the Grand Magus inquired what reward Miran desired most, to which the Holy Defender gave resolute response: the hand of Mulk Khamun, to whom his sword and heart was pledged. But this was not allowed, for his blood and birth was tainted by his humanity. Instead he obtained land grants as compensation, with the grand title of ‘Gurkani; meaning ‘son in law’ to the Luminescent dynasty. However Miran Gurkani disobeyed the Luminescent, and he and Mulk Khamun agreed to marry in secret.
Husayim the Grey, named so for his grey skin, was another and mightier Holy Defender of Aranagh, and witnessed their secret marriage. He was quick to inform the Grand Magus of Miran and Mulk Khamun’s defiance of his wishes. The Grand Magus was outraged; to him this was the ultimate betrayal by disobeying the one thing he strictly forebade. As punishment Miran was stripped of his lands and titles and sent into exile to the desolation of the Gnülonlar, (this was considered merciful, for had it been anyone else the penalty would’ve surely been death then and there). All the while Mulk Khamun was placed under house arrest in the citadel of Quaraash.
Miran and a handful of Holy Defender defectors accompanying him, wandered into the wasteland. The absence of these defenders provided Husayim the opening he conspired to get, for he was a henchman of the Unbroken Host all the while, determined to enact the Hierophant’s scheme to revive Fararual Power in Transtulania. Swiftly, Husayim the Grey assassinated the Grand Magus and kidnapped Mulk Khamun from Quaraash back to Kand.
Immediately Miran and his band, accompanied by Gnülonlar auxiliaries that had joined them on the road, rode against Husayim in Kand. But they were too late, Mulk Khamun was cooked alive in ritual sacrifice committed to the Sun God.
In the subterranean halls of Kand, Miran defeated Husayim in single combat. During this battle, Husayim cleft Miran's foot, causing him to walk with a limp ever since. When at last Husayim relented to Miran's mercy, Miran showed none; in wrath he threw him to the Gnülonlar who ate him alive. Then he retrieved the ashes of Mulk Khamun and interred them in the Holy Temple Axbak-Aranagh.
With the Grand Magus dead, most of the Satraps and chieftains of Transtulania regarded Miran as the most viable candidate to lead the Luminescence. …The Magus had made him a son in law (Gurkani) after all, even if that title had technically been revoked. But Miran avenged both the Arch Magus and the Divine Bloodline by capturing the Hierophant and killing Husayim the Grey. Speaking of the Hierophant; he was still alive. And as a prominent magi of Transtulania, Miran begrudgingly turned to him for counsel. This he said:
‘’Conquer the world, and Mulk Khamun will be brought back from the ashes.’’
And Miran believed him. For at the very least, the thought of getting her back is a flame that keeps the aspiring conqueror to the path of conquest. In Kand he was anointed the Sword of the Fire God, and received the Flaming Sword Zara-Thuster which he carries into battle on his relentless campaigns.
It was a hopeless quest, for how can a man actually conquer the world? Miran resigned himself to doom from the beginning when he accepted Zara-Thuster, but nevertheless he is resolute to carry out his given duty as Chosen One of the Fire God.
Over ten years have passed since then, and though there were other warlords, it was Miran who pulled firmest at the threads of fate to come out on top. Many atrocities had been committed: his armies of Üarim and Gnülonlar swept across the land, and with sword, scores of cannons, pillage and fire the nations of Transtulania and the northern steppes were brought to heel. This became the foundation of a nascent Empire of the north, which has been dubbed the Miranid Empire – the subjects of Miran Shaykh Gurkani.
Identity His name is Dyauphater, or Dyaus Phater. The daylight sky-lord and patron of warriors and masculinity -- Lord of the vast diurnal sky. For the heavens are the celestial steppes through which he roams on his chariot pulled by his two trusted flying goats. When he flies, he does so in a conjured storm cloud. As such Dyauphater is known also as ‘storm-bringer’.
He is a champion of the untamed wildlands at the outremer of the civilized world. Dyauphater is a warlord, and one of several leaders at the helm of a confederation of independently minded roaming and pastoralist societies known as the Schayan. The Schayan people deify Dyauphater as their patron and protector.
Potency Beastmastery, as many a Schayan had in primeval times domesticated the wild horse that roam their hyperborean homeland. Mundanely Dyauphater is proficient at animal husbandry and carpenting, crafting wheels for the trademark cart for which the Schayan are renowned in traversing their vast, largely sparsely if not unpopulated homelands. Dyauphater' affinity for animals showed in the care he put into his flock of goats, combining his husbandry with wizardry to selectively breed two magical-goats -- Bokkos and Kapros, his inseparable companions and probably Dyauphater’ best and mightiest friends. They are flying, celestial goats whose burning fur crackle with fire and lightning, emit great light and possess great magical aptitude. Indeed, you might go so far as to call them wizards… despite being goats.
Dyauphater himself isn’t capable of flight and it is only through Bokkos and Kapros, and the cart that they transport him with, that he is capable of aviation. To be sure, Bokkos and Kapros are arguably the true source of Dyauphater’ power and make up two thirds of his full strength. When the three are together, they are all-mighty bringers of the untamable tempest of the sky! The connection of Bokkos and Kapros towards Dyauphater is so strong, that Dyauphater can butcher one, eat it, and then resurrect it using its bones, and continue on roaming the wide open skies though nothing had happened without the goats thinking any less of him. Even a celestial sky-lord needs to eat, you see.
Dyauphater no longer has need for a spear… His spear is lightning and the elements around him, which shapes in his hand at will, and which he uses to great effect in smiting his enemies.
Ambition: As Dyauphater regards himself the spiritual successor of the Gods of Old, he feels the compulsive need to show his greatness to the world. As such he is struck with vanity and a shallow hungering for glory. Particularly to win the affection of and marry the beautiful Plethwi. The Sorceress Plethwi had stated that only he who passes her arduous trials could win her heart. Accordingly, Dyauphater has vowed to do just that, and he cast off to his first trial... obtaining the tooth of the dark dragon Veles. However when Dyauphater challenged the dragon for a fair battle of wizardry, Veles refused to meet him in battle and instead evicted him from his lair. Slighted and indignant, Dyauphater spurred on his Schayan kinsmen to invade the Dragon's northern tributaries for no reason other than to get Veles' attention. It worked. However when Dyauphater bid his kinsmen to leave, the Schayan refused to relinquish their new hard-fought cities and properties. The Schayan conquests led to the rise of a new Kingdom -- the Schayan ruled Kingdom of Ittarya.
What is known: He grew up amongst a royal clan of the Schayan. He unearthed the power of wizardry, which inflated his pride and self-worth monumentally, and saw mere kingship as insufficient. He combined his wizardry with his knowledge of husbandry towards spawning the greatest of beasts, which led to the creation of Bokkos and Kapros. After which he became an outrider, departing from the northern wastelands of Hyperborea. He discovered the civilized world and these strange agrarian settlements known as ‘cities’. And he discovered Plethwi, the sorceress and fairest woman in the world, who had ensnared him under her spell. Dyauphater, in a sense, lost his freedom, and now dedicates his life in seeking a way to woo her. Thus began Plethwi's arduous trials.
The sun retreats behind the somber grey clouds at the end of another chilly day in the Visandzan mountains. Four night Einhard had passed in captivity, and by the filth in his cage the Paladin’s sorry state is starting to show. Crusts of dried blood are on Einhard’s blue and inflamed face from the beating he received the evening before, and the cup of Einhard’s ear had been cut off by the Gastald Liutpertus when the Paladin refused to talk. Paired with the malnourishment from being critically underfed, slowly the Paladin feels hope receding, and death approaching.
‘’I’m not done with you, Chlotar swine… I WILL make you talk, one way or another.’’ Liutpertus hisses at him as he locked the cage and withdraws to the outposts’ interior.
For now the Lamperts have called it a day, and most of the outposts’ garrison retreated back to the central hearthfire, or their tents, with only a few sentries remaining to stand watch.
Silence fills the camp’s premises. Einhard hears only the throbbing pulse of his bleeding and mutilated ear, and a soft, distant howling wind soaring by the mountain tops.
For hours he sat there, the once proud and honourable Paladin, now cowed by the evils of his fellow men, surrendering to a miserable fate in the dead of night. Most of the Lampert garrison is asleep, save for the night shift shuffling on and by the sentry towers. Yet more hours pass, when finally Einhard can sense footsteps approaching his cage... He does not bother to perk up.
‘’You sad man sitting in defeat. You are Paladin Einhard from the Chlotar Kingdom, is that correct?’’ The voice of a woman. Einhard looks up at the approaching form, saying nothing in return. ‘’Have you succumbed, or do you yet have some spirit in you? Your people need your strength, Paladin.’’ Einhard responds, “Chlotar men don’t forget easily.” He pauses as he straightened himself. “I will do my duty as my fathers before me. Our vow to Godas has never been broken in my line.”
The woman nods. ‘’On the subject of fathers… I see that my own father’s men have not been kind to you. But I am not as them… so listen to me, and I will do my best to set you free.’’ As the woman spoke these words, Einhard takes notice of the embellished garments, furs and jewels adorning her. And it finally dawns on him: this woman is a Lampert royal! ‘’My name is Dalgiserata, namesake of my father Dalgiserius… I believe you’ve been acquainted with him, a little.’’ ‘’What do you want?’’ Einhard snarls at her. ‘’Justice for both our Kingdoms. We are not your true enemy.’’ Einhard just looks at her incredulously as though she takes him for a fool.
‘’Let me have an audience with your King Cauroman. If it is at all possible to avoid war, we must do everything in our ability to make it so… Wouldn’t you agree?’’ Sighing, the Paladin leans up. Einhard has always been a reasonable judge of character, and has a nose for the smell of liars. Locking eye contact, he makes attempt to read her sincerity. …By the looks of it, she seems serious. Her face is beset with concern -- a quiet melancholy. Does she really care?
‘’All this death and turmoil will not be necessary, we will only wind up weakening one another.’’
Einhard takes a deep breath and gives reply; “Every Chlotar, from babe to crone knows not to trust a Lampert, just two-legged snakes looking to sink their fangs into you.” Einhard shifts forward towards Dalgiserata, “How do I know you weren’t sent here by your father in witchcraft inspired plot to kill my lord?” Dalgiserata sighs. ‘’I knew bartering with you would not be easy. As a gesture of good will, I feel you are entitled to know just who had betrayed you.. Odo, the chief of Rudinberg, had been harbouring Lampert agents and providing information to my father for the past three years now… That is how we knew of your coming. That is why you are here now.’’
“Odo broke bread with me and my shield maiden, he swore an oath to King Cauroman, one would not anger Godas in such a manner.” Einhard spat back at her.
‘’Laiamicho, come here.’’
A lanky, handsome man with dark curls and a shaven face appears besides the Princess, and Einhard recognises him immediately. He was at Odo’s side in the hall of Rudinberg!
‘’Hello again, good Paladin of Chlotaringen. It appears we meet under different circumstances now.’’ The man, Laiamicho is his true name, gives a sly smile.
Dalgiserata speaks again. ‘’He is my most trusted servant. His loyalty cannot be questioned..’’ She says, after which Laiamicho follows: ‘’Sadly the same can not be said for Odo’s loyalty to your King Cauroman.’’
The Paladin and the Princess lock eye contact again, and in the moment Einhard knows not how to respond. He opens his mouth, but is immediately interrupted by the princess. ‘’If your king is indeed the honourable man he is known to be, tell him everything. Tell him about Odo. and tell him about my request...
If war can at all be avoided, this is the only way. Will you do this, Paladin?’’
Einhard is still perplexed, overcome with a variation of feelings… Confusion, to name one. Disbelief, and also revulsion -- revulsion for himself that he let himself be betrayed, and that his lack of vigil has endangered Chlotaringen’s entire war-effort. He knows not how to respond to the Lampert Princess’ offer, and neither is he given the chance, for in that moment he could sense the approaching footsteps of someone else coming out of the dark.
A group of figures draped in dark cloaks strides into the tent, glints of reflected firelight in their folds betraying the blades they carry at the ready. Faceless as shadows in their hoods, at first sight they barely appear human, filing behind one whose head is distorted in a monstrous insectile visage. Only at a closer look reveals that it is Dauraulf wearing his Locust-head helmet. The others bear similar countenances on amulets of roughly graven wood.
The adorned helm turns from the captive to the Princess, the Farigai’s hoods following its motions as sword-points budge near them, before the mouth underneath lets out a half-voiced exclamation.
“Pest!” Dauraulf moves a step towards Einhard, blade now well in sight, but stops, glowering at Dalgiserata. “Treason in the King’s own camp! And by whose hand! From you-” he points at Laiamicho, “-there’s no surprise. Rotten mongrels always try to find a way to him, else we wouldn’t be on our feet day and night. But his blood! You’d throw out your father for the Chlotars?” By how he spits the last word, it is clear that is in itself a most grievous curse for him.
If nothing else, this encounter is all the more evidence to the Paladin at least, that the Princess was being honest. Or it’s a very elaborate ruse. Carrying herself with strength, with no sign showing fear in the presence of her father’s most dreadful retainers, she retorts: ‘’You, from the Farigai. The likes of you should know better than to make such accusations. You serve the Royal Family, and what I do is for the good and survival of our Kingdom.’’
Scowling from the back, Laiamicho calls agitated towards Dauraulf. ‘’The prisoner is our business. Your presence here displeases her highness...’’ To add power to the statement, the armed escort draws his broadsword up from his sheath unto its point, halting a bare second from brandishing it fully.
“Pest and famine! You must think I have rot for a head that you’d have me believe that!” The Farigai leader points his sword at Einhard, his men moving past him into the tent, bristling with blades. “What good’s going to come from dealing with snakes and swine? If this isn’t treachery, you’ve gone mad. Be that as it may,” he steps forward, “we’re taking the Chlotar.”
At his signal, the cloaked men advance into the tent. While they carefully step around the Princess, avoiding so much as brushing against her, they are less considerate with Laiamicho, who finds the points of several swords inches from his throat within the blink of an eye. Under Dauraulf’s direction, they tug open the Paladin’s cage and roughly haul him out of it, the enfeebled prisoner’s weak resistance amounting to nothing as he is dragged out into the night. As his henchmen push their charge out between the tent’s flaps, the leader turns for the last time towards Dalgiserata.
“You’re lucky we’re more loyal to the royal family than anyone in this wretched land,” he sneers, “but remember we serve the King above all. Hope that this doesn’t reach his ears.”
The Princess stands mute and defeated as the Farigai take away her one chance at bartering for Lampertei's future. While Laiamicho only scowls at the men that had threatened him, though cold sweat is on his brow, betraying how scared he actually was underneath the swagger.
Einhard was burning with resentment, but he was unarmed and malnourished, weak. He could but imagine what perverse cruelties these freakish looking Lampert men sought to inflict on him. The company of men with the prisoner trod down the mountain slope from where the Lampert camp was, southwards towards the green valleys of Lampertei. The wind ceased howling, as though the elements themselves stood watch of what transpired. Save for the torches of the Farigai men, they and Einhard were in total darkness. Darkness, until the first light of day broke through the eastern sky, beaming at the group of men. And following this first beam of dawn, two white wings soared past the mountain tops directly towards the Farigai. As it approached, the Farigai halted, sensing its approach, and looked towards it unnerved. From afar it looked like a seagull, except much bigger. Einhard looked up as well. A darkling after night time? That can't be. Is it a predator of heaven, preying on the enemies of God? None of them could grasp its form by the angle and sheer speed it flew with. Only when it got very close could they see what it was… a white stork? But they saw it was clutching a lance in its bird talon, and it had an oversized helmet on its head. Before they could contemplate how silly that made it look, the stork with its lance swooped down at Dauraulf.
‘’My King, the Horn is lost. As the cowardly Lamperts slew Mauger in ambush, Godas sent down an Angel to pick it up, and took the Horn to the heavens as to not let it fall in Lampert hands. It is no longer of this world.’’ Yet another Paladin speaks. ‘’An angel? I thought it was a white dragon!’’
Hey palls, not sure if anyone'll still be reading this, but since nothing had been OOCly said for literally half a year I figured i'll break the ice. I'm gonna wrap the RP up. There'll be 2 more posts and then.... I think we'll leave it discontinued.
Is there anyone still here?
Additionally, would it be an idea for me to give at least a summary of the possible endings I envisioned for the story? If the RP is over, spoilers don't matter anymore. Yea, I know, after prolonged periods without progress people quickly lose interest, that's how it always goes.