NATION

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Wrath and Grandeur [Short stories; PT; Astyria]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Trellin
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Capitalist Paradise

Wrath and Grandeur [Short stories; PT; Astyria]

Postby Trellin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:44 pm

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The Hyseran Empire was the most powerful realm on either the Sea of Jajich or the Sea of Velar for over eight hundred years. For most of its history it was locked in a bitter struggle with the Kingdom of Trellin, initially only a small foothold of migrants from around the Tanz river, in modern Aquitayne, which grew to eclipse the might of Hysera. It is a history filled with hatred and greed, suspicion and intrigue, war and rivalry; above all, it is a tale of the attempts of two proud peoples to utterly destroy the other in a contest that could only have one victor.

For eleven hundred years the Trellinese and the Hyserans would wage total war and make uneasy peace. Eleven hundred years is a long time, time enough for many heroes to rise and many villains to be made. There are figures like Cahaud the Brazen, a Hyseran emperor who was violently overthrown by his people and slain by competing generals after commanding religious persecutions, and King Fethre, of Trellin, who led his personal bodyguard in a battle-turning charge at the pivotal Battle of Sanjari. Heroes were born from the ranks of contending armies, or at the helms of warships vying for control of the all-important Serëtanz, the river that divided the two empires.

Yet on each side there were those who also called for peace. Hyseran philosophers asked why could they not live and let live, and be content to hold their old frontiers; Trellinese merchants, wishing to explore the far coasts of Velar and the jungles of Retikh, implored their rulers to stop the forays across the river and make it a lasting frontier. Few were the kings who listened; the proud Hyserans had showed no welcome in their hour of need, and now the heirs of the goddess Thaera wished only to avenge that injustice.

No lives went unshaped by the rivalry of Trellin and Hysera. From the day the Ethlorekoz first sighted the Lighthouse of Bara, a shining beacon perched atop its lofty cliff, their lives, and those of their descendants, were inextricably bound up in the rising and falling of the Hyseran Empire and the sighing and dying of its people. For the citizens of Hyser and its wide realms, they would never regain that taste of glory they enjoyed for so short a time. These are their tales. From the mightiest ruler under the Sidereal Crown to the lowliest slave in the fields of Ímorth, everyone whose life was touched by the Hyseran Wars has a story worth telling. This compilation does not try to collect them all; such a work would fill many libraries. What it tries to do is to present a wide variety of tales from different viewpoints and, in doing so, offer a survey of the joint histories of the two peoples.

This is not a work of fiction. This is a great epic, episodic in nature, but which has its roots in a recitation of actual history. If the tale has grown in the telling, it is not out of any desire to sensationalise or glamourise the past. No indeed, for this great saga far exceeds any fictional narrative of the present day, and within it are wrapped up the myths and legends of the Hyserans and Trellinese. This is the story of the long labours of the Trellinese to make a new homeland, and of the wrath and grandeur of their rivals to the north. These are the tales from a fallen empire, from whose ashes would rise another. This is the history of two nations united only in their distrust. This is the history of the Hyseran Empire.





As can be surmised from the above, in-character introduction, this is to be a collection of short stories, set in and around the long, slow demise of the Hyseran Empire, which preceded and, for quite some time, coexisted with the Kingdom of Trellin. Authorship is more or less open to Astyrians and/or anyone who's willing to get accustomed to Hyseran/Trellinese culture and history, though this is largely me getting to know my own countries' history. First and foremost, each piece will tell its own story, part of a greater history. I'll index them all chronologically in the next post. This is going to be a long-running project of mine, if all goes to plan, so, while there's not much (or, you know, anything) right now, I intend for that to change. Feel free to press Subscribe and follow along every now and then. I hope I don't disappoint.

~ Maltropia / Trellin
Last edited by Trellin on Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:52 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Trellin » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:05 am

Index

A Single Star ― 390 BC
Last edited by Trellin on Sun Jul 27, 2014 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Trellin » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:42 pm

Custodians of a lone light that repeats
One simple statement to the turbulent sea.

― Derek Mahon, Rathlin

A Single Star

The sun's dying light cast one last shaft of gold at the heaving sea before it abandoned its battle with the oncoming night. Clouds, in their robes of grey and purple, hastened from the sky, beset by the innumerable pinpricks of white starlight which now showed themselves in the darkening heavens. Far below the celestial rout, from the decks of their great fleet, men and women gazed upwards to see the stars once more triumph over the sun as acolytes praised their astral protectors with song. The smoke of burning incense climbed high to meet the stars, the gathering twilight weaving strange patterns in the spiraling haze.

The ships were large, as leviathans out of the abysses of the dark sea; now they were sail-driven, the wind driving them further south, but whenever it dropped out would come countless oars from banks unseen and sweep the deeps below. For now, the evening wind was stiff and sustained, and the people on the boats were content to let it do their work for them. On the many vessels of the fleet, men and women prepared the evening meal - mostly fish, or whatever remained from their last provisioning - or tied things down for the night. It was a quiet night, the wind gliding over the wave crests rather than churning them up, and the prows of the ships cut cleanly through the water. There were many ships, for they carried many passengers; many thousands, with many more left behind along the way. For this was no fleet of war, or any merchant venture; this was the great migration of the Ethlorek people, which had begun decades before, shedding factions and other groups along coasts from the Kahhaan Rühayiz all the way to the Mett Erhië Haanu. There had been those who had insisted the last islands were home, but they had been silenced. Too barren, too small; no, they were not the home Perrë promised them, a land of vibrant beauty and prosperity, with no foreigner to call himself Emperor over the proud Ethlorekoz. Let those who had fallen by the wayside remain there, if they found the road too hard. The greatest part still pressed on, following a star, and where it led them they would follow.

In their great journey they had brought everything with them: wealth and livestock, children and elderly, heirlooms of all description; their ships, for the time being, were their homes. Perhaps not as spacious as that which they had had before, but then, few could now remember a life on land. Most had been born on the ships, stopping not infrequently for supplies but never staying long. It seemed they were on the last leg of their long voyage - sailors among the Kalhoz spoke of a land by the sea, no longer far to the south, with constant warmth and few peoples. It had been generations since they had ventured to the the land they called Iskrix, but they remembered it as a land of wealth and plenty. Many among the Ethlorekoz hoped that was where they were bound. They would not say it, but even the acolytes who served Perrë, who had openly shunned those who abandoned the journey, were growing weary of the unending search for a homeland.

In a corner of one of the ships, a family sat gathered around its small dinner pot, eating in silence. They were only three, the parents and their young son, one of a minority who had been born ashore, when they had briefly settled near, and traded with, the people of the village of Belogarda. The mother, Arva, had not been sorry to leave that place and its strange warrior society. None of their people had stayed there. She looked at her bowl and the unappetisingly watery stew within before sipping cautiously from it. The taste, at least, was tolerable. She glanced quickly at her husband, Beran, and was relieved to see his appetite had overcome his trepidation. Her son, unfortunately, was not so easily placated.

He stared at the bowl, watching the liquid and its paucity of fish sway back and forth with the motion of the ship. "It looks worse than last time," he complained. "At least last time it wasn't just fish."

Arva looked pleadingly at her spouse, who was either too exhausted to notice or deliberately avoided her gaze. She resigned herself to the task at hand. "You need to eat your dinner, Teqial."

"But it's just fish in water."

"It's not just fish in water. Look, there's oats, there's vegetables. All important for a growing boy like you." She picked a piece of - something, she couldn't tell precisely what - out of her bowl demonstratively. Teqial was nonplussed; seven years old he might be, but she didn't know a more difficult child. He finally sampled the stew, but still pouted. "I wish we were home," he grumbled. Arva stared at him.

"You've been on land three times in your entire life. This boat is home, as far as you're concerned, young Teqial."

He looked at his mother, disgusted by her incomprehension. "I meant the new home. When are we ever getting there? We've been on this boat for forever."

"Soon," Arva replied. She hoped her husband would know, as he worked with the acolytes, but when she looked at him he shook his head. She knew he was as tired as she was. "Very soon now."

"Why didn't we stay in the last place? Merak and I found a valley we were going to be kings in." He looked at her accusingly, betrayal painted on his every feature. So that was his grievance? He had been told from the start that the islands were just a stopover, that they would be there only a few days. He'd had to beg for permission to be allowed away from their beach camp to explore the coast.

Arva smiled at her son's audacity. "It didn't feel right. It didn't feel like our home."

"Nowhere will feel like our home if we don't stay there," Teqial moaned, before taking a mouthful from his bowl and abandoning it on the deck. "I'm going to bed. Good night," he declared, and promptly rose and ran to his bedding. Arva sat in silence, suddenly stricken by the sense in her son's words. She had now but a distant memory of her home in the valley of the Tanz, so faint that it had become impossible to think of it as Home any more. There had been only a few places where they had stayed long enough for it to make much impression upon her, but those were now the homes of those who had left the fleet, weary of years of travel. For Arva, the ship really was home, and she began to wonder if their leaders felt the same way, stubbornly insisting that no other place was adequate while they clung to their rafts just waiting for another storm to throw their armada into disarray. Now more than ever she longed even for a glimpse of their future home. She voiced her opinion to her husband; not the first time she had in recent months.

"I feel the same way," was his reply, after a pause. "Everyone does. You can only spend so long on a ship before you long to feel firm ground under you when you awake. Even Perrë hopes for this to end soon."

Arva looked at him, wide-eyed. "You talked to Perrë?"

Beran smiled a little. "Of course not. No one talks to Perrë but the acolytes. But when I feed them fish they feed me information, so I believe them when they tell me we're close."

"They've been telling us we're close for seven years, Beran." His confident smile slipped as she kept talking. "I have never thought they might be lying to us, but I also don't know if even they believe what they tell us."

He stared into the distance, deep in thought. Then his gaze moved towards the sky and focused on the star they were following, a star which grew in strength as the fleet travelled further south. "No, they believe," he said firmly. "And so do I." Then he rose and helped her up, balancing against the motion of the ship. "Get some sleep. Maybe we'll see something new in the morning light."

She smiled hopefully at him. Then, leaning forward, she kissed him lightly before turning and going to her bedding. His eyes followed her until she lay down, and then he watched the waves in the starlight.


Arva woke to see her husband standing over her, whispering urgently. Bleary-eyed and confused, she slowly realised it was still dark. "Get up," Beran was insisting, "quickly!" She didn't seem to have much of a choice in the matter - if any - so, dutifully, she arose and was surprised to see dozens of people gathered in the ship's bows. "What is it?" she asked. He didn't answer her, but it wasn't hard to guess what she should be doing when she saw everyone else looking in the same direction. Turning to the southeast, she tried to peer around a wall of heads and then she saw.

There it was, right at the edge of the horizon, the brightest light in the night sky. No, not right at the edge: as her eyes adjusted, Arva could now see that the light seemed to float just above it, and between the horizon and the light was a greyer smudge. Land. Land! All around her she could hear the unanimous joy of the people as they, too, realised what they were seeing. She felt her heart lift as it had not done in years, and barely noticed Beran putting his arm around her. She looked up at him and he looked up at her, and she saw her joy reflected in his smile.

"You were right," she said, quietly, apologetically.

"I was," he replied; not with pride but satisfaction. Then they were silent again amid the sounds of happiness and they stared at the distant light.

After a while she turned to her husband again. "What is that light?" she asked. She saw that their own guiding light was still firmly in the heavens, though it had moved further south. She began to become aware of the absence of other stars around this new light, as though they were retreating from it, or revering it.

"I do not know," answered Beran, "but I do not need to. Not now." Arva wanted to share his faith but found herself besieged by doubt. The longer she watched the light the less certain she was that it was meant for them, though it did not seem deceptive or hostile. The night was slowly fading into morning but the light did not move as their star did.

Eventually enthusiasm for the light waned, and though those who were only just waking were fascinated by it the rest of the people set about preparing for the day ahead. Beran and Arva set about making breakfast. Teqial arrived with the dawn; he hadn't been in his bed when Arva went to check on him, so she assumed he had been in the stern with his friend Merak. He sat down with his bowl and started eating from it. He didn't seem to notice it was fish from the night before.

"Did you see the star?" he asked, excited. Arva smiled at him. "Didn't everyone?" she asked.

Teqial shook his head. "Merak didn't. He slept through it and it was gone when he woke up." His attention returned to his breakfast.

"Gone?" she demanded, but got no response from the hungry boy. She turned to look at the horizon, startled to see no light, just a wisp of black smoke curling up towards the sky. The smudge of land was now barely perceptible in the twilit mists. "Where..." she started to ask, confused, but realised Beran had already left to do his work for the day.


The horizon slowly grew more defined as the morning wore on. The smoke had faded away within the first hour after dawn, leaving only riddles in its absence. Perrë, it appeared, had not yet spoken any words on the light they had seen, and speculation was rife. The consensus aboard this particular ship was that the light was a divinely-sent star, though no one seemed to know why it was sent or where it had gone. There was no attempt to explain the smoke; that was too much for them. They would wait for an official statement.

It soon became apparent that the glimpse of land they had seen was not just a coast but a high cliff, its base just below the horizon. The fleet wasn't heading for it - it faced northwest while their route was still due south - but it was definitely coming closer. Now they could see larger features; dips and rises on the heights, but the cliff marched away to the south and east in an unbroken wall of grey-white stone. The base and waterline came into view at the same time as the top of the cliff distinguished itself from stands of trees and - was that a tower? People once more flocked to the bows to stare at the rather geometric shape rising from the top of an particularly high point. In unneeded whispers hasty councils were held as all concluded that yes, it was a tower, and it was without a doubt the source of the light they had seen. All stared up at the oddly square structure as they passed it by. There was no activity up on the cliff. However long men watched it, they saw no sign of habitation aside from the tower itself. Of far greater interest now was the waterfall thundering over the edge, a wide river simply pouring over the brink and plunging hundreds of feet into the sea below. It held its watchers captivated, and even long after it was out of sight they could still hear it rumbling away as all the land behind emptied itself into the ocean.

The fleet adjusted its course to follow the cliffs, and they passed several days like this, in renewed vigour and hope. Word went around, disseminated by the acolytes who served Perrë, that the light really was a sign from their protectors; not all were so sure, but the land they were passing did finally look like what they had been promised. Even when the cliffs finally broke, giving way to a long, sandy coastline, they still saw no real sign of civilisation. They passed what looked like a fishing village but saw little else.

"The Kalhoz said they used to trade here, once, long ago. The people here must live in the forests," Beran said to her one night as they watched the coast passing slowly by.

"Or up the rivers," Arva replied. Beran said nothing.

In the evening of the tenth day after reaching the cliffs, the fleet began to turn towards the shore. Excited whispers spread quickly among the people, and they quickly decided among themselves that this was it, the final port on their long voyage. Ahead of them, the coast curved away into a great bight, its far side too distant to be seen. The sails on hundreds of ships were furled and then out came the oars, pushing the fleet over the last waves and up towards the pale golden sand, their shallow hulls sliding onto land as men leaped out to coax them up high enough that they wouldn't drift. By now the manoeuvre was well-rehearsed, but people went about their assigned tasks with a spring in their step that had not been there for many a year. Even as ropes were being tossed ashore, Perrë and a number of his chosen assistants walked out over the sand, getting maybe fifty paces from the activity of the fleet before they turned to face it. Arva, pausing from gathering up her belongings, looked ashore and saw Perrë and the acolytes deep in conversation. One of them appeared to be trying to argue something, but Perrë dismissed it with broad gestures. Eventually the acolyte conceded and bowed, and the group resumed a serene united stance.

Arva leaned in close to Teqial, who was watching the foam on the sand below the ship, and said quietly, "You might get that valley after all, young Teqial." He looked up at her, confused, but she just watched Perrë.

She realised with some surprise just how old he was. He had been a young and inspirational leader when he had led the entire population of the Ethlorekoz out of the Merovian Empire and its incessant war and hunger, but decades of leading his people from port to port had taken its toll on Perrë Ieqentuz. He had negotiated for supplies and for work in leaner years, had bargained for peace when other kings had sought to drive them from their ports, had taken up arms with his people when they fought on the beaches of Írendh. Now he was no longer young, but his charisma, and the respect of all his people, he retained, for he was their leader. He opened his mouth, and there was instant quiet. Then he spoke.

"No speech could ever do justice to the hardships of the people of the Tanz. For far too long have I led you in uncertainty and with no land to call home, to call your own. You are the people of the sea, and you alone have the right to rule it. I say the time has come to take up a land for your own. A land never to let be wrested from your hold. A land for all the Ethlorekoz!" Arva found herself wiping tears from her face as everyone on the ships cheered Perrë on. "My people, I bid you welcome to your new home!" he shouted, and there was unrestrained joy. Arva silently thanked their guiding star for leading them home.


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