One of the most prosperous
nations on the continent, the Scepteres of Tarshiin is situated on
Nybelmar's Western Bay, sandwiched
between the vast seas to the West and the rocky teeth of the Germon Doilth to
the East. Tarshiinite historians debate as to the root of the name 'Scepteres'
amongst Tarshiinite academics, though the most common theory is that it sprung
from the Tiquaitan. As the 'Scepterera' was an
ornate crown considered as a symbol of sovereignty due to its association with
the Tiquaitan King, the phrase 'Scepteres of
Tarshiin' was derived to express Tarshiinite dominion over these specific
areas. However, others think that the phrase might actually have been a
Tiquaitan joke. Since the word 'Sceptereri'
referred to the gifts that were given to a newborn baby, some believe the
phrase 'Scepteres of Tarshiin' patronises the Tarshiinites, suggesting that the
Tiquaitan merely allowed the child-like
Tarshiinites to do what they liked with the lands given to them.
Though Tarshiin's past is laden with deception and atrocity against their neighbours, the Tarshiinites are first and foremost an intellectual people, and this aspect has shaped their state immeasurably. Famously abstinent from archaic magic unlike the majority of its neighbours, the pragmatism and resourcefulness of its citizens have formed a political juggernaught, making underestimation of Tarshiin's potential very dangerous.
The Scepteres of Tarshiin are among the most powerful and affluent nations of North Western Nybelmar due to their well-established trade links in lucrative industries, Tarshiin notably being the greatest exporter of gold in the entire West. Coupled with their economic prosperity, the Tarshiinites have advanced from their humble beginnings as farmers into a cultured and sophisticated people, originally modelling their society somewhat on the now dead Kingdom of the Tiquaitan. It is through a well-established balance of rationality and passion that the Tarshiinites have achieved their seat of power within the North-Western Peninsula. Further, due to the multiplicity of their strength, the Tarshiinites make either an invaluable ally or formidable foe - the Tarshiinite's have little time for neutrality.
Description. The Scepteres of Tarshiin are characterised by an odd combination of rustic serenity and buzzing activity, reflecting perfectly the Tarshiinite philosophy that things in motion are the essence of beauty. Specifically the nation can be divided into a number of distinct scenes:
The Agrarian Tear
Occupying the Southern Extent of Tarshiin, 'The Agrarian Tear' is the agricultural centre of Scepteres and is the grain basket for the rest of the nation, providing the staple rila flour, honey and one of Tarshiin's most famous and popular exports, silk. As the agricultural heart of the nation, the Tear itself is littered with wide open fields of proud golden, Rila, providing a startling contrast to the concentrated buildings of the cities to the North. However despite the tranquility and perpetual sunlight darting through the silhouettes of the grain fields, the air of busyness does not abstain from The Tear, the constant chattering of silk weavers at work, the soft crack of husks in the mills or the melodic buzzing of honey bees all showing that The Tear is as lively as any of the bustling metropoli.
The ironically named Black Coasts lie towards the south and central areas of Tarshiin, and consist of sparkling white beaches set against romantically aggressive rock pools and sea caves. Named 'black' due to the traditional Tarshiinite ink industry that revolves around the area, the Black Coasts epitomise the Tarshiinite infatuation with water, the ferociously choppy waves further exemplifying how movement and motion underpin a number of important philosophical teachings for its inhabitants. The bounty provided by the oceans to the coastal settlers embellish the Tarshiinite diet with a whole manner of delectable seafood that rivals even the Gondolwenmith, a cornucopia of colourful cuisine born out of the monochrome juxtaposition of white sands and dark waters.
Lakes of Kimka
Generally considered the most beautiful region of Tarshiin, the undulating landscape of the Kimka composes itself in a weave of rivers and streams born at much greater altitudes in the peaks of Germon Doilth, creating an idyllic wetland where the violent waters pour into expansive basins, eroding against rock and soil, creating picturesque lakes that reach into as far as the eye can see. With steep, rapid currents in some areas set against calm, tranquil awe-inspiring meres, the waters of Kimka readily demonstrate the two facets of Tarshiin - the contemplative stillness of thought and the aggressive tenacity of activity.
As well as providing some of the most breathtaking vistas in the nation, the lakes of Kimka are vital to the prosperity of Tarshiin, being the centre of the gold-panning trade. With seemingly endless supplies of fragmented wealth flowing through the sediment of the rushing Kimka waters, the panning of gold in Tarshiin has embellished the nation with unbelievable prosperity, also leading Kimka to become the homes of the affluent Tarshiinites, their extravagant fancies leading Kimkatee, the region's capital, to become an artistic (if not hedonistic) paradise.
Previously belonging to the Tsohamin and still referred to as their 'spiritual home' by those who reside in the Municipen di Fa, the Fragrant Hills are a landscape somewhat reminiscent of the rolling hills in the Plains of the Faen, though inhabited by a whole manner of other flora and fauna. Rich in natural diversity, it is from the patchy woodland and tall grass that a whole number of natural ingredients can be garnered for the Tarshiinite alchemists, who form nature's fruits into a whole number of potions and powders. As their name would suggest, the Fragrant Hills are dominated by an assortment of aroma, though in ways one might not expect. Though there is no shortage of flowers, some of the most pungent scents come from flora such as the sweetbark tree, whose peeled skin can be used to make a popular Tsohamin sweet, or even more unusual sources, such as the Mint Dove, whose dried excrement produces a delightful, minty perfume (as long as you distance the product from where it came from).
The serenity of the Fragrant Hills is frequently disturbed by bloody clashes between the military and militant Tsohamin, usually banded together through the dissatisfaction that life on the 'Tsohamin Reservations' affords. As such there is strong juxtaposition between the expansive tranquility that the scenery presents and the ruthless metallic thump of the mobilised military.
The Scepteres is located in Nybelmar's
Western Bay, north of the overground holdings of the Trumarim and south of the
Kazai Morchin-I. It holds the most of the Western Coast of any of the nations,
with perhaps the exception of the Inami wastes, though the general chaos of the
region somewhat excludes them from holding the title of 'civilised nation'. As
mentioned before, the relatively thin strip of land is sandwiched between the
choppy Western seas and the domineering peaks of the Germon Doilth.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The official insignia of the Scepteres of Tarshiin, as well as the symbol of the Tarshiinite Priesthood, is simply three vertical parallel lines spaced an equal distance from one another. Though there are no specific colours associated with the coat of arms, the shade is important: if the lines are darker than the background, the insignia is representative of the state, while if the lines are lighter than than the background, the insignia is representative of the priesthood.
While there is no preset heraldry, certain schemes can be associated with certain provinces, cities or even important buildings. The Grand Temple in Shintee, for instance, uses banners pure white lines set against a Goldspun silk background. As such, any delegation or convoy flying these colours within Tarshiin commands almost immediate respect, while in foreign lands they are usually received as an omen of impending war due to the Priesthood's aggressive reputation.
People and Culture. The
population of the Scepteres of Tarshiin, as one might guess from the name, is
predominately made up of the Tarshiinite men. However, the lands that constitute
the nation have historical ownership from two other tribes, the Tsohamin and the
(now extinct) civilisation of the Ancient Tiquaitan. In modern times though, the
Tarshiinites marginalise the Tsohamin to the extent that now the largest
community of Tsohamin actually exists within the
Municipen di Fa, where they are free
Despite the Tarshiinite aggression displayed against the Tsohamin since the end of the Republican Wars, the shared roots of the Tarshiinites and Tsohamin are still reflected in mainstream Tarshiinite culture, perhaps most notably the architecture of their oldest cities, where architects abided by the spiritual doctrines of the Kunijen faith, which the Tsohamin still follow today.
The Tarshiinites reflect an odd duality, guided both by unquestioning allegiance to their religion and a strong appreciation for rationality, logic and productivity. Standing tall for humans at over two peds for both genders and glowing from their lives bathed in Injèrá's light, the Tarshiinites have a proud, healthy appearance. Through their lives of religiously prescribed exercise most Tarshiinites hold a well-toned psyche, despite their horrendously indulgent diets and inclusion of alcohol into any and all occasions. (More information on Tarshiinite appearance as well as their obsessive attitude towards hygiene can be found in the appropriate entry).
One of the central Tarshiinite principles is that of productivity, which paves the way for a huge number of pursuits and occupations. As the ruling tribe in one of the most prosperous and powerful nations in Western Nybelmar, Tarshiinites tend to have an innate desire for expansion and conquest. As such they have a thriving military that attracts all classes of society to its ranks. Possessed by quests for knowledge and understanding Tarshiinite churns out some of the greatest scholars in all of Nybelmar, with alchemists and engineers possessing knowledge and skills which can hardly be matched by Tarshiin's Kaerethi neighbours.
Given these qualities, it is odd that, unlike most of their neighbours, the Tarshiinites do not pursue the magic and arcane. While they obviously do not lack the aptitude to understand sorcery, there are a number of compounding factors that result in a Tarshiinite abstinence from spell craft. Around the time the Tarshiinites began to turn from their simple roots in agriculture to the construction of their first cities (circa 4600 b.S.), the Tarshiinites had already witnessed the corrupting influence of magic in greater societies, including the Faen expulsion of the Morshani Earth Magi to the Northern Wastes in 4700 b.s. and the violence incited by the Sorcerers of the Akalara Sun Cult in 4623 b.S.. While there were exceptions to the rule, such as the high-standing of Fire Magi in Orcal, these events engendered a critical attitude towards magic in the ancient times of the Western Bay. If these historical teachings were not enough to dissuade budding wizards, Tiquaitan philosopher Aroonate Masmalama in 3605 b.S. produced a hugely influential writing that highlighted magic as the pursuit of reality in falseness. By the time the Priesthood rose to power these social rejections of magic had been integrated into the dogma, with Tarshiinite society viewing sorcery as a forbidden practice because of its interference with the natural course of the spirits (see Religion). As a result, by the time the second wave of magic surfaced in Kaereth (with the arrival of tribes like the Amorai) the Tarshiinites had already closed their minds on the matter - though over time their resistance to sorcery did not prove an obstacle between Tarshiin and their magically-inclined allies.
In addition to their pursuit of pragmatism the Tarshiinites have developed a spirit of adventure, where people strive to emulate the exploits of great treasure hunters such as the fictional 'Otapii'. Perhaps the epitome of the Tarshiinite, adventurous spirit is that of the Tugaru Divers. Investing enormous sums of money in apparatus that allow them to breathe underwater for variable periods of time and regularly ingesting a whole manner of alchemical concoctions to overheat themselves to offset the freezing temperatures of ocean waters, the Tugaru Divers seem to represent a culmination of scientific knowledge and intrepid bravery and as such represent the true multiplicity Tarshiinite nature. Employed in either academic exploration of the Western Bays expansive coral reefs or diving for pearls, the Tugaru Divers are most definitely Tarshiinite-incarnate.
The Tsohamin would seem to be the stockier, rougher counterpart of the Tarshiinites. Characterised by their fiery red hair, which is grown into an almost bestial mane by men and is kept at shoulder length for women, the Tsohamin are a hardy, muscular people. Somewhat shorter than the Tarshiinites with a richer, dark brown skin coloration set against the warm Tarshiinite tan, the Tsohamin express a strength and resilience in their gait and demeanour.
First and foremost the Tsohamin are workers. In the thousands of years since their arrival in the Western Bay they have continued to rear semi-domesticated boars and goats and many stay true to these unfaltering traditional occupations. The Tsohamin are dominated by their absolute veneration of Kunijen and, without it, it is not inaccurate to say there would be little purpose to the lives of simple livestock keepers. Famous for their worship practices, where it is believed chiefly that imitating a spirit shows it deep respect, the Tsohamin are able to enter a number of roles under the guise of its patron spirit (or 'Kuni'). The most renowned of all the spiritual venerations is that of the Reikuni or 'Rage Spirits,' whereby Tsohamin adopt the roles of chaotic, destructive spirits, honing their combat abilities with meticulous practice to show respect (and to appease) the Reikuni themselves.
It is through their religious training in weaponry that the most successful of the Tsohamin pursuits came into existence: that of the Tsohamin Mercenary. It is thought that at least two thirds of all Tsohamin (both men and women) are professional mercenaries, chiefly in the employment of the Faen which, since the reformation of the 'Old Nation,' have had no organised army of their own. Deadly warriors, famous for a seeming invulnerability during the heat of battle, the reputation of their devastating onslaughts using barbaric hand scythes leaving the Tsohamin renowned as one of the most formidable foes on the continent. It is actually quite ironic that the Tsohamin consider themselves to be pacifistic and that they only engage in such mortal combat as the crux of religious duty.
State Organization. The governing of Tarshiin is separated into three very distinct authorities that co-exist with one another: the Jartanic government, the military and the priesthood.
The Jartanic Government
Firstly, the Jartanic Government, which represents the bureaucratic and political arm of the state, is (theoretically) the most powerful arm of the nation. The government itself can be divided into a number of echelons: the free assembly, the open house, the Senate and the Jartan.
- The Free Assembly
Essentially the most democratic of the echelons, 'The Free Assembly' is open to all citizens of Tarshiin and has one date every month reserved in Goshuntee's Tarajuni Hall (which is also used on a full-time basis by the Open House). One the specified date every month debates are held and directed by the 'Speaker' of the Open House, who then compiles the concerns of the public to be addressed at the next session in the Open House. The debates within the assembly are known for their rowdiness, however, especially concerning controversial issues. As such many disagree that the assembly actually provides anything useful and critics suggest it is a superfluous link to 'normal' people to make the state seem more credible.
- The Open House
Where most politicians will find themselves, 'The Open House' is the main occupying body of the Tarajuni Hall and is open to anyone who has an academic qualification in politics (usually attained from universities in the Northern City of Jirai). Meeting around ten times every month (at the discretion of the speaker) the Open House is, as the name suggests, open to any topic. As they are discussed by professional academics, the conclusions and solutions deduced by the Open House are greatly respected by the higher branches of the government.
While the Open House has a tendency to build upon the issues brought up in the Free Assembly in conjunction with other recent changes in Tarshiin since the last meeting (which can, in some cases, be only a day ago), it is commonplace for the Senate to refer issues to the Open House before they discuss them completely. These referrals usually concern legislative changes and have resulted in the creation of the 'Open House Veto' to give the Open House more actual clout. Though rarely used and only ever successful in a handful of cases, the Speaker of the Open House can attempt to veto a decision made by the senate, though only if they can gain a majority of at least nine tenths.
- The Senate
Comprised of twelve senators, the High Commander, a Grand Priest from the Priesthood and seated by the Jartan, the senate is generally considered the most powerful facet of the government. As a single body they possess a whole number of important powers. If they can gain a majority of nine or more then they are able to veto legislation, expenditure changes and resolutions proposed by the Jartan.
Additionally, the twelve 'normal' senators are elected by a civllian vote, parallel to elections for Provincial Governors. The usual term length for both senator and governor is five years and as such, when the officials enter their fourth year of office they begin their re-election campaigns (though a rival's campaign may have been ongoing for the whole term). Three months before the completion of a five year term, elections are conducted in each of the twelve provinces, with each ethnically-Tarshiinite adult (anyone over the age of 16) having a vote for both governor and senator.
- The Jartan
The Jartan, theoretically, has the most power in all the state. Unless opposed by a suitable majority in the senate, the Jartan does have great control over how the state affairs are ordered. The Jartan, does not, however, pull all the strings, lacking for instance the ability to declare war without the agreement of the Senate or the joint blessing of both the Military and Grand Temple.
The seat of the Jartan is decided by a vote between the twelve elected senators, nominating one of their peers. Since all the senators are elected by the civilian public, it is thought that by proxy the entire nation has a say in who is declared Jartan. Due to the perceived omnipotence of the role, an important issue in elections for senatorhood is to whom the candidate intends to give their vote for Jartan to, as this is the only real influence the normal citizens have in this massively important decision.
Parallel to the more mundane political system, the military, for the most part, is considered independent from the government. When, thousands of years ago, the military capacity of Tarshiin grew the influence of the military within the Scepteres was enormous. Being of equal if not greater influence to the Jartanic Government, a series of unsuccessful but frightening coups had given the generals and admirals a stranglehold over the Jartan until the emergence of the Priesthood amidst the Black Throat Fever epidemic (see Priesthood below).
In times since the Priesthood's ascension the bulk of the Military has been absorbed into the 'Armies of Faith' under the Grand Temple's direct control, taming the once unruly beast. The independent army and navy have been significantly downsized to around a third of the Priesthood's. While there were initial power struggles with bloody consequences, the physical ability of the Priesthood to put down any dissidence and their mental ability to manipulate the figureheads of the military through the Vassal System has long since kept the aggressive power of Tarshiin within the Grand Temple's hands.
However, the remnants of the military's dominating past still exist. By far and large, soldiers and sailors live very different lives to normal citizens due to the changed bureaucracy affecting them, demonstrated perhaps most dramatically by the introduction of a completely separate legal system affecting members of the military. Due to the number of fundamental differences there is a whole other system in place designed to deal with the iron fist of Tarshiin.
- The Courts of the Sword and Sea
While not directly related to the politics of the military 'caste' in Tarshiin, The Court of the Sword and The Court of the Sea (dealing with land-based soldiers and naval sailors respectively) are of huge importance to the lives of military personnel. With various branches throughout the Scepteres, whenever the civilian security services apprehend an accused criminal they must be sent for a trial at the nearest military court. With every Tarshiinite who has completed the standard training, exchanging their status as 'civilian' to 'armsman,' these establishments are often very busy, with soldiers and sailors having a reputation for bending the law more so than others.
Generally run by senior (and thus older) members of the respective armed forces who are now unfit for service and have the necessary legal education, the 'Swordjudges' and 'Seajudges' have sole authority over how to deal with a criminal armsman. Since trials are conducted in private courts without a jury, on many occasions with only the guard who detained the armsman and the accused himself, the sentence given to lawbreakers revolves around entirely on how the judge feels about the situation. While a whole number of crimes carry much harsher possible sentences under military law, such as assault which can be punished by exile, many offences treat the armsmen in a favourable light; theft, vandalism, hostage-taking and poaching, amongst others, warranting incredibly minor fines.
- The Armed Coffer
The only division of armsman politics that isn't run entirely by those who have served in combat, 'The Armed Coffer' orchestrates both the payment and taxation of serving armsman. Taxes applied to armsmen are notoriously lower than those applied to the rest of Tarshiin by the Jartanic Government, making them exempt from times of economic hardship throughout the nation.
- The Armed Councils
With the navy and army maintaining their own committees, the Council of the Sea (made up of the Admirals and seated by the High Admiral), and the Council of the Sword (made up of the Generals and seated by the High General) are the second most powerful bodies in deciding how the affairs of the military are orchestrated, often making important liaisons with the Jartanic government in times of war. The Armed Councils also play an important part in the training and stationing of the military across Tarshiin, or rather they give a general outline to their legion of underlings.
- The Triad of the Legion
This committee consists of the High General, High Admiral and lead by the High Commander (who is chosen by a joint decision between the current Jartan and the other two committee members). The Triad of the Legion only meet in times of great need, almost exclusively during war, where they can declare 'Martial Autonomy' and use their forces how they see fit without the government's approval. The powers of the Triad, however, only materialise when an official declaration of war has been made by the government, since a variety of unsuccessful but devastating coups littered the Tarshiinite past before the military became centralised.
During the build up to the First Gondol-Tarshiin War, the Gondolwenmith Amor Sedia Martia famously stated 'The Scepteres of Tarshiin are a nation that dresses in the clothes of an academic, dynamic democracy, where only a few scratches on the surface will reveal a mindless, dogmatic, de facto theocracy, with the Grand Consulate of Psuedo-Holy Men presiding over every minute nugget of activity throughout the lands'.
Now while it we must respect the right of the enemy to exaggerate their foes shortcomings on the political stage, the aforementioned quote is not entirely inaccurate. Since long before the Republican Wars, when the Kingdom of the Tiquaitan still reigned as the dominant power of the Western Bay, the Priesthood has had an amazing level of control within the political and martial framework of Tarshiin.
The Priesthood revealed themselves as bearers of vitality during the devastating Black Throat Fever epidemic, which was crippling the then atheist nation in all of its echelons. The desperate state of affairs in which the Priesthood arrived allowed them free-reign in dictating their will in reforming the broken country. Though there is little documentation and historians in this area often generate a number of conflicting ideas, it is possible that the fever's cure which the Priesthood had managed to acquire was only to be administered to Tarshiin in exchange for a number pivotal powers within the Scepteres.
- The Army of Faith/ Fleet of Faith
The Priesthood maintains its own armies and fleets in complete separation from the government. The forces themselves are approximately a three times the size of the actual state's armed forces, and are much better equipped and paid, having the additional benefit of being held to account under The Holy Law. Though in all major conflicts the two armies have co-operated, the selfish aims of the Priesthood are often orchestrated through their armed branch, the sacking of Tsu, for instance, is attributed to Priesthood.
Furthermore, since the absolute authority on the Priesthood's armies and fleets is the Grand Consulate, generally consisting of five very war-hungry Grand Priests, a handful of conflicts between Tarshiin and other nations (particularly the Kazai) are thought to have been initial strikes by the Priesthood, reported as unprovoked foreign aggression. These false claims then prompt a decision in the senate to wage full-scale war.
- The Courts of Faith
Similarly to the independent legal system governing soldiers and naval sailors, the Priesthood and all its associated branches (such as the armsmen serving in the Priesthood's military) have their own law and court to deal with their misdemeanors. Unlike the scattered branches that constitute the Court of the Sea and Court of the Sword, there is only one building which can adjudicate criminal accusations against members of the Priesthood. The Court of Faith in Shintee, a city which acts as the hub of all the Priesthood's activity. The Court of Faith itself is seated by one of the Grand Priests, and similarly to the absolute power held by the Sword/Seajudges, the final decision for prosection is based solely on their decision.
The Court of Faith itself is notorious for its soft sentences against members of the priesthood, with murderers, thieves and smugglers receiving nothing more than an inconvenient fine, or in cases of remorseless offenders 'severance', a process which exiles the criminal from the Priesthood by using aceeds to remove their distinguishing forehead tattoos and in a majority of cases, exile from the realm of Tarshiin as a whole. Jail sentences or executions are practically unheard of, unless the victim of the crime is also a member of the Priesthood.
Many criminals that are governed by the 'Holy Law' are often never taken to trial. Since the chances of receiving a substantial punishment are practically non-existent, the accused would need to be taken to the City and the fact that the Court of Faith actually charges a fee on every case it judges, it seems like far less of a hassle to simply allow the holy man to slide through the net, making the Priesthood, in many instances, above the law.
Probably their most powerful method of controlling Tarshiin, the Priesthood maintains vast numbers of 'vassals'- personal spiritual advisors who have the convenient ability as priests to define morality. As a result, by supplying individuals of power with incredibly influential vassals, whose ability to define morality to a fiercely religious people is by no means always observed with the purest intentions, the Priesthood is able to insidiously lead people of power to make decisions that favour the Priesthood's own ambitions.
The network of vassals is remarkably extensive, with most important military officers, wealthy merchants, mayors, provincial governors, senators, diplomats and judges having their own personal vassal assigned to them to ensure their 'moral health'. One of the Consulate's Grand Priests also acts as the Holy Vizier to the Jartan, allowing the Priesthood to exert incredible control over the nation should the Jartan be especially weak-willed or impressionable.
- The Grand Temple
Situated in Shintee along most other important protrusions of holy bureaucracy, the Grand Temple is both an organisation and a building. Within the Grand Temple, besides the gigantic sermon halls and serene meditation gardens, it also serves as the staging ground where cohorts of high-ranking priests organise the internal affairs of the Priesthood. While the duties performed by the priests within the Grand Temple vary from maintaining the grounds to archiving delivered sermons, the main business of the Temple circulates around the expenditure of the Priesthood's gargantuan budget. Since approximately a third of all money earned by a Tarshiinite in their lifetime is donated to the Priesthood, as well as the Grand Temple taking a significant cut of the Senate's taxation coffers, the Grand Temple is by far the wealthiest institution on the Western Bay. As great investors in Kimkanite land, a region of lakes littered with gold-laden waters, the Grand Temple continues to expand its wealth. In addition, with most of its enterprises remaining self-sufficient, the Priesthood itself is afforded a luxurious and powerful existence.
- Grand Consulate
The upper tier of the Priesthood and the absolute authority on all of its members is the Grand Consulate, a council of the five Grand Priests. While their concrete powers within Tarshiin are mostly undefined, their influence matches and may even exceed that of the Jartan. Between them they must fulfill a number of duties, which including delivering three daily sermons to pilgrims amassing at the Grand Temple, seating the Court of Faith, occupying their seat in the Senate or acting as the Jartan's Holy Vizier (the latter two requiring them to live in the capital Goshuntee). However, these duties are not particularly demanding and as such much of the time the Grand Consulate concerns itself with using the Grand Temple's vast wealth to pursue their own aims and ambitions. It is known, for instance, during the Republican Wars the Grand Consulate were particularly devious, beginning to orchestrate a mass repossession of profitable Tiquaitan land around ten years before the Kingdom fell.
The Grand Consulate itself is a very exclusive group. Once you have been promoted into its ranks you remain there until death, at which point a promising candidate is usually selected from the current High Vassals. In order to enter the consulate, however, all current Grand Priests and the Jartan must agree that the candidate is suitable for the job. If there is a unanimous majority of the Grand Priests that disagrees with the Jartan, the decision is made nonetheless and the Jartan's vote is discarded. As a result, it is often seen that the Jartan's vote in the process simply shows his blessing rather possessing any actual clout in the decision making.
The citizens of Tarshiin enjoy a very favourable climate. Flanked by the
domineering peaks of the Germon Doilth, the Scepteres is sheltered from the
ravaging winds of the Municipen but still manages to inherit the crop-quenching
rainfall that blesses the agricultural heart of the Kazai Morchin-i throughout
the colder seasons.
The settlements of Tarshiin, particularly along the coast, experience pleasing amounts of sunshine from the arrival of spring to the fall of autumn, creating a warm but precipitous middle of the year, creating a number of romantic vistas along airy Tarshiinite streets punctuated with bursts of skin-warming showers
However, at any time in the year there is great variation in the temperatures. While the injera bathed sands of the Tarshiinite beaches can reach somewhere between 2.5 and 3 periks at the peak of summer, the northeastern foothills of the Doilth can drop to even less than half a perik, as the warmth of the Western Sea currents dissipates into the easterly lowlands. At the upmost limit of the foothills, at such high altitudes where one becomes dangerously close to the Germon Doilth themselves, it can become bitterly cold. In the past it has been so cold that in the depths of winter one of the most awe-inspiring phenomena graces the brink: a dusting of snow, which most Tarshiinites or Tsohamin will only see once or twice in their lives.
Economy. The Scepteres of Tarshiin is rich in both resources and industrious inhabitants, and is perhaps a prime example of how nature's bounty can be cultivated and harvested without scarring the land irreparably (as, for instance, could be seen in the mass deforestation of Zhun). Distanced from their origins as small-scale crop-growers, the Tarshiinite economy classically centred around four main trades: ink, silk, sea-salt and honey. However, after the dust settled at the end of the Tiquaitan Republican Wars, the Tarshiinites inherited the crown jewel of their fallen foe, the Lakes of Kimka. Through their expansion upon the existing infrastructure established by the Ancient Tiquaitan, the Tarshiinites quickly became the principle exporters of gold throughout Nybelmar. As the monopolies of Tarshiin grew in size, flushing wealth into all of the Scepteres' provinces, the economy of the state became more and more prosperous.
There is an odd balance between entrepreneurship and state control in the economy of Tarshiin. While anyone with sufficient investments can capitalise on the bounty of Tarshiin for their own financial designs the main impediment to expanding business in the nation is land ownership. Though no different under the law from a commercial landowner, huge regions in Tarshiin belong either directly to the provincial governor or one of the consortia affiliated with the Grand Temple. As such, while there is no such thing as a completely worthless piece of land within the Scepteres, laying your hands upon can pose the greatest challenge.
Resources. The territories making up Tarshiin are rich in resources:
As the traditional domain of the Tarshiinites, the coasts of the Scepteres are the heart of the nation's oldest industries. Aside from the huge numbers of delicious seafood, rivaling that of Gondolwain, the Tarshiinite sea offers huge numbers of harvestable sea-salt on the picturesque coasts. Possibly the oldest of the Tarshiinite occupations, the salt trade has been steady one for thousands of years, with the landlocked realms to the south and the east demanding it for a whole number of pragmatic uses.
The Tarshiinite waves also yield the Filachara or 'Ink Dumplings,' a creature as odd as it is useful. Possessing the unfathomable ability to reconstruct itself after grievous wounds, Filachara have long since been farmed for their plentiful ink sacs. With the consideration that these unique sources of ink are perhaps the epitome of renewability, the ink industry in Tarshiin has always been one capable of catering to the economic climate.
The Agrarian Tear
Besides providing Tarshiin with cattle and all the associated products, the Agrarian Tear is the oldest territory belonging to the Tarshiinites and has changed little through the ages. The Tear has the most suitable climate for agriculture, and yields huge amounts of grain, crops and meat to feed the nation.
The Tear is, notably, also the home to two very small yet very important creatures: the silkworm and the malise. Both of these creatures have been the target of Tarshiinite pragmatism and, as such, have developed into unbelievably effective trades for the nation.
The Lakes of Kimka
While the old Zhunite phrase 'and even the waters run with gold' has never been experienced by those in Southern Nybelmar, the sheer volume of gold which flows through Kimka's rivers is inconceivable. The waters are so rich in the precious metal that the gold industry has easily remained the most profitable in Tarshiin since shortly after the Republican Wars. The scarring to the land has also been impressively minimal, with the Tarshiinites using more effective Sluice Mining techniques, where the Tiquaitan before them tried constantly in vain to drain entire rivers. The value of Kimkanite lakes is in fact so enormous that the principal river 'Narsira' (a Tiquaitan homage to the innovative King Narsira the Green) generates more revenue than the provinces of Farshun and Tikwa combined.
The Fragrant Hills
Typically seen in the shadow of the industrial regions of Tarshiin, the Fragrant Hills are far from absent in produce. Littered with a number of sturdy forests, Tarshiinite lumber is known for its durability all across the continent. Due to its beautiful ashen hue and extreme strength, itis a prized construction material, a particular favourite of the Ancient Tiquaitan who built most of their three cities from it.
The Germon Doilth
Easily the most treacherous of all territories in Tarshiin, the mountain ranges of the Germon Doilth are home to some of the richest mineral deposits in the Kaereth. While miners have harvested silver from its depths since the reign of the Tiquaitan, the ranges themselves are rich in tin, as well as possessing significantly smaller deposits of copper, though mostly in Morchini-owned regions.
When contrasted against the
number of resources within Tarshiin, the number of finished products created by
the Tarshiinites is relatively low. Tarshiinite silk, particularly the Goldspun
Silk of the Goldworm, is a highly prized fabric both within and outside of the
Scepteres, developing a specific rivalry with Gondolsilk. Finished inks, which
come in a variety of colours, are another principle export of Tarshiin.
Not much is done with the collected gold by the Tarshiinites beyond smelting. Most Tarshiinite gold merchants make their trade in the easily stored gold bars- allowing other creative types to do with it what they like. There is, however, a very niche market for coloured gold in the continent, and as such there are dedicated craftsmen in Kimka concerned solely for its production. An even smaller market within the province is that of damascening: once a popular art form, it has declined in popularity in the last two centuries.
Tarshiinite alchemy is also one of the most advanced in all of Caelereth. While much of the nation's formula and products are kept secret, a few examples of Tarshiinite ingenuity reach other nations: consisting mainly of pastes for cleaning teeth.
If the Tarshiinites are proud of anything, however, it is their skills in invention. Possessing some of the most skilled and precise engineers on the continent, Tarshiinites are famed for their production of everything from incredibly accurate thermometers to running hot water to tindersticks, a wondrous invention that ignites a small piece of wood with the smallest amount of effort.
The height of Tarshiinite engineering, however, is their weaponry. While the well-disciplined infantrymen of the Tarshiinite army form a ruthlessly effective fighting force in themselves, the Tarshiinite military is famed for the wide array of devastating siege engines they employ. Their naval masterpiece, the Dreadhammer Warship, is so effective in battle that only two were sunk in the ten year Gondol-Tarshiin conflict. However, offensive technology is not always for sale, though military engineers from Tarshiin have historically been in high demand from nations such as Orcal during times of war.
Trade. The Tarshiinites are one of the principle partners of the Faen Merchants, both exporting and importing from the various trading houses that their neighbours operate. The primary exports of Tarshiin are bulk quantities of silk, gold, ink and sea salt. Though most trade is conducted directly with the Faen (who use their wide web to find costumers for the goods) it is possible to trace where the products end up. While gold tends to carry weight in a number of luxury-loving nations throughout the continent, coloured golds (particularly Rose and Turquoise gold) are a particular fancy of the Aesterans of the Northern Bay. Silk and ink are particularly popular with the Zhunite Citystates of the South, with salt and honey being purchased in high quantities by Tarshiin's longstanding ally the Amorai. In addition to their penchant for the rather domestic products of Tarshiin's economy, the Amorai are also the only other nation with whom the true bounty of Tarshiinite alchemy and technology is shared, with a small proportion of the Amorai armies being equipped with hand-held incendiaries and the (admittedly small) Amorai navies being stocked with Warships that are remarkably similar to Tarshiinite designs, though enquiring whether the Amorai bought a navy from their ally rarely receives a simple answer.
Furthermore, independent of the coventional Faen trade web, Tarshiin also holds a number of trading contracts directly with the Trumarim, where the dwarven Rock Oil (essential for Tarshiinite heating systems) is traded for exceptionally large amounts of gold.
Imports are an integral part of Tarshiin, with large parts of their culture being dependent on goods unavailable in the Scepteres. The first love of any Tarshiinite is alcohol, and it is probably a solid claim that the Tarshiinites drink more Jinn than the Morchini who make it; morning, noon and night. The more sophisticated types within Tarshiin, however, have developed tastes for more exotic drinks. As such, both Zhunite grape and rice wine are particularly popular imports. In addition, Tarshiin is one of the few markets in Nybelmar where foreign liquor is actually available (mainly through Gondolwenmith intercontinental trade), and as such Vhodka, Wisk-Away and R'unorian brandy can be found if you know the right places to look.
As well as satisfying their expensive tastes for alcohol, Tarshiinite cooking also involves larges amounts of frying and as such they are a huge importer of Zhunite olive oil.
Military. Tarshiin represents one of the major military powers in North-Western Nybelmar. The Tarshiinite military is a noted institution both within and outside the Scepteres. The most common way of attaining affluence and social standing in the nation involves distinguishing oneself in combat. Distinction, however, is difficult with the extreme skill and discipline of the military, with each serving armsmen receiving excellent education in both the practicalities and tactics of combat.
The Tarshiinite army is one of incredible organisation, with the main bulk of the institution made up of infantrymen armed with swords and shields large enough to conceal most of their height. The army is famed for its complex maneuvers, most famously the 'Turtle Shell', wherein a unit's shields are arranged into one seamless piece that protects them all.
Despite their effectiveness, the average Tarshiinite infantrymen is taught only three sword strikes, one of which only applies to unarmed targets. However, their limited repertoire is compensated by their extreme precision. The usual intent is to mortally wound an enemy, rather than to hack away at them zealously. Tarshiinite swordsmen are also notorious slow in their advances, keeping their impenetrable formations by maintaining only a light pace. As such most of Tarshiinite close-combat is counter-active, the Swordsmen relying on the enemy to both advance and provide an opening where a single thrust will be fatal.
The most devastating arm of the Tarshiinite army, however, is its missile forces. Completely bereft of bows, the Tarshiinites have long since armed themselves with spring-loaded Spearlaunchers, an ingeniously designed and relatively lightweight contraption that can fire wooden spears over incredible distances. Spearshooters (the operators of Spearlaunchers) themselves are given a more comprehensive education in ranged warfare; they are trained to disrupt heavily armoured units, inflict huge casualties on lightly armed troops or to pave a clear path for the central moving body of swordsmen. Exceptionally skilled Spearshooters known as 'Sharpshooters' are deployed to eliminate particularly dangerous or important individuals from long-distances, armed with specifically enhanced Spearlaunchers that measure around twice as long, though are unimaginably accurate in capable hands.
The crowning jewel of the Tarshiinite army are the Rhino-Mounted Captains, 'The Horn of Tarshiin,’ a group of warriors as ornate as they are dangerous. Selected only from the cream of the Tarshiinite forces, the Rhino riders are always at the front of battle, relying on both their eremonial halberds and enormous steeds to devastate the enemy. As The Horn of Tarshiin itself is made up almost entirely of distinguished Captains, Lieutenants and Generals, and as such it is the ultimate aim of every foot soldier to one day earn the privilege of riding atop the White Rhinoceros, an opportunity reserved only for the most adept members of The Horn. However, while the Horn of Tarshiin as an institution is well-acknowledged it does not constitute an actual battalion in itself and as such the highly skilled warriors are assigned to lead or (in the case of incredibly prestigious forces) integrate as a part of one of the existing battalions. The prestige associated to the Rhino Captains, however, is enormous within Tarshiinite society, with almost every High General having at one point served within The Horn of Tarshiin.
Tarshiin is a disproportionately important naval power with regard to the size of its fleet, which is somewhat smaller than that of Anis-Anpagan. The key to Tarshiinite naval success, as with success in all of Tarshiinite pursuits, relies on astuteness. Despite being few in number, the warships of Tarshiin are maritime juggernauts, being spectacular examples of offensive engineering, making use of much of the siege weaponry used by the army (see above). So devastating is the Tarshiinite Navy that after its first mobilisation against Tiquaitan in 1688 b.s. that by 1686 b.s. the entire Tiquaitan fleet had been destroyed or captured. This is particularly impressive since the Tiquaitan were by no means a weak nation. The coalition forces of the Tsohamin and Tarshiinites required another 38 years to vanquish their magically-augmented armies.
Tarshiinite intelligence is not only applied to weaponry, but also propulsion. Due to the combined efforts of conventional sails and huge numbers of manual rowers, the Tarshiinite storms. The number of rowers is in fact so large within the Tarshiinite navy that the records w around two thousand 'Rowmen' (an unskilled rank in the Navy) serving in both the Tiquaitan Republican Wars and the First Kazai-Tarshiin War, and these rowmen never actually left the lower decks of their ships.
The Tarshiinite navy holds a whole number of ship designs, though the most common is the Hammerhead. Lightly-armed for a Tarshiinite warship with only two ballistae and three Spearlauncher armaments, the principle weapon of the Hammerhead is its heavy iron 'nose.’ Streamlined for acceleration, the Hammerhead’s primary objective is to crash into enemy craft, often with such speed that the opponent is torn in two with the whole Hammerhead passing straight through.
At the opposite end of the scale, the rarest and most powerful of the Tarshiinite warships is the Dreadhammer, a floating beast which is plated in metal and has a top deck of just under half a stral in length, armed to the teeth with all imaginable war machines Tarshiin has to offer. So great is the power of these seafaring monsters that in all history only two have been sunk and one captured (all by the Gondolwenmith). Additionally, despite their enormous power, there have never been more than eight in service at anyone time, usually acting as the spearhead of large fleets or as a single opponent for smaller flotillas.
As is quintessential of Tarshiinite nature, the navy is laden with specialist roles, perhaps most famously the Naval Tugarus. Unlike the civilian Tugaru divers, who search the ocean commercially for coral and pearls or academically in employment of the Enkyklopadië Nybelmarnica, Naval Tugarus are employed as expert saboteurs. These specialists swim underwater to penetrate the bottom of a ship's hull, then release into the ship’s bowels a incendiary device known as 'Wetflame,’ which ignites more ferociously when wet.
Religion. While each
respective tribe of the Scepteres has its own religion, the Tarshiinite attitude
of domination towards the Tsohamin is not any different with regard to faith. As
a result, the Kunijen (Appeasing the Spirits) faith of the Tsohamin has a very
low prevalence Religious iconography and shamanic rituals are more prominent in
Municipen di Fa, where the largest population of Tsohamin live and where they
are much freer to worship whatever they like.
While religion is an enormously important aspect of Tarshiinite life, it was not always so cemented. In fact in simpler times, many ages ago, both Tsohamin and Tarshiinite alike revered the spirits of the Kunijen Pantheon. Even in modern Tarshiin the influences of their previous religion are evident: Tarshiinite roofs have the curved pagoda design people once believed attracted Karkuni (Fire Spirits, ones associated with good fortune), and Tarshiinites still continue the practice of hanging wind chimes on the edges of windows, residual practices from the belief that the twinkling sound kept Suukuni (Water Spirits, associated with harm) away.
However, from the time the Tarshiinites began to idolise their enormously advanced Northern neighbour, the Tiquaitan, they distance themselves from their humble origins with the Tsohamin, and more or less abandoned Kunijen. Imitating the atheism of the Tiquaitan, Tarshiinites began to invest more and more of their time in advancing their civilization.
However, considering the impact of the Priesthood's arrival (See the appropriate State Organization section) the Tarshiin had little trouble in accepting the dogma that had cured the largest crisis they had ever known, the Blackthroat Fever Epidemic.
The fundamental assumption of the Tarshiinite faith is that the world is made up of a variety of spiritual essences: The Natural Spirit, The Moral Spirit and the Mental Spirit.
The Natural Spirit emanates from almost everything, and its concentration causes animated life. Ultimately it is believed that all living things are made living by their by their 'Natural Spirits.’ People are made up of this spirit (partially) and it is the only essence shared between humanity and the rest of animal life (as well as trees, rocks etc.). A person's internal natural spirit ultimately keeps them in constant commune with nature as a whole. Pure health cannot be attained if the world's nature is rejected.
The Moral Spirit is specific only to people. Moral spirits are nurtured by positive ethical decisions and choices (though one should note ethics are defined by the Priesthood). The 'centre' of the moral spirit is supposed to be the heart of a person. Among other things generosity, strong family bonds and love help to nourish this spirit.
The Mental Spirit (a.k.a. "Spirit of the Mind") is also human specific. This essence provides intelligence, rationality and logic if nourished properly. Qoans (generally unfathomable statements) are given by the priests directly or read from Qoan compilations to improve this essences potency. Education and intelligent thought are essential to ensuring the health of this spirit, which is why a lot is invested in Tarshiinite education.
(More information on the details of the Tarshiinite faith can be found in the 'Tarshiinite Men' entry under the relevant section)
The power of The Priesthood to define morality and essentially mold what Tarshiinite's consider to be a third of their being should not be underestimated. While for the most part the lower echelons of the Priesthood are of pure intention, with the priests of minor temples being reliable sources of guidance, there seems to be a long-standing trend that power corrupts. As such many high-ranking priests, from Vassals to influential Tarshiinites, are directly ordered by the Grand Temple to influence their decisions in favour of the Priesthood under the guise of 'morality.’
The ability of the Priesthood to essentially be the absolute authority on what is right and wrong permeates throughout the entire society. So dedicated are the Tarshiinites to honing their spirits that almost all of them wake before sunrise to perform their Shiigar exercises, allocate specific portions of their day for intellectual expansion and spend most of Shiinria ('Day of the Spirit'- The first day of the Tarshiinite week) deep in contemplative meditation.
Perhaps the epistome of religion's involvement in Tarshiinite affairs is their influence in economic activity. With the average Tarshiinite giving around a third of all they will ever earn to the Priesthood in good faith, in conjunction with state subsidies and well-managed business interests, the economic (and thus political) weight pulled by the Priesthood is immense. This, coupled with their substantial, independent military, levies enormous influence and autonomy onto the Priesthood, therefore allowing them to pursue their own aims with relative ease. Thus, while their influence in Tarshiinite affairs remains for the most part unofficial and indirect, it is remarkably potent.