Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Éský: an (extremely) succinct political history

I said I'd do verbs, but I feel like doing this instead.

This is a very short recounting of a very long time in Éský history. In theory, there would be dates and so forth, but since I tossed my other calendar system out the window, those will have to wait until I make a new one. I am also unable to really specify how many years pass between various events, but I will try to group things into a vague Early/Middle/Late scheme. I have an intended "present" for this people, at which point the history ends.

If at any point here, I say "for whatever reason", it means that I haven't gotten the details ironed out yet, but you have not heard the last on that particular datum.

Early: Eastern Expansion
Originally, the Éský lived in the southeastern edge of a very large continent in the northern hemisphere of the world. I supposed I could get into evolution a little bit at some point, and figure out what the movement patterns of whatever non-human-primate ancestors they may have had may or may not have been, but for the moment I'll start the story here. They lived along the southeastern shores of the continent, and their way of life at the time wound up revolving around fishing in some way. Eventually, as is bound to happen, a social order arose out of chaos and an extremely strict and non-negotiable class structure began to form.

I should mention at this point that even though the people here are essentially human, without any weird quirks, they do live in a somewhat alternate universe, and due to the fact that I invented them when I was twelve, in an effort to emulate JRR Tolkien, They do have magic powers of sorts at their disposal. I have oodles and oodles of descriptions, calculations, rationalizations, and rules for such occurances, fear not, and it will turn up here sooner or later. For now, suffice it to say that any magical power an individual might have is innate, not acquired, and that the Éský class system revolves around this innate potential, as do many of their cultural conceptions and categories.

Where were we? Oh yes, the first city/governmental system. The first city was named something which has been rendered unpronounceable by present Lán phonological standards, and will thus remain unnamed until I try to rename it at some point in the future. The first country was Latarvý. The governmental system was a system of Kings*, passing somewhat hereditarily, but mostly based on the Power** of individuals. The social and class structure was also based primarily on Power, and secondarily on gender. Religion tied into it heavily, though the religious system was almost never, in all of its history, a centralized one or the kind that validated the aristocracy (there is one exception, but not until very recent times). The Éský class system has always been rather rigid and restrictive at the best of times, and it's never been a source of mutual cohesian, as we shall see.

Gradually, the society expanded, and new cities were built, and Latarvý covered most of the southeastern quadrant of the continent after a while. It expanded until I hit the edge of a vast forest which covered a swath down the middle of this continent. At this point, with the growth of the government, the whole system had become somewhat totalitarian in nature, and a few of the higher-up-but-not-quite-high-enough-up officials in the government decided that the current King was chafing on their freedoms a little too much, and took a large portion of their underlings into the forest to set up another state. This was all under the guise of there being a need for exploration of the rest of the continent, and the King allowed it. For a while, they lived in peace, but once the underlords decided they had enough of an army to protect themselves, they cut off communications and disappeared into the forest. After several unsuccessful attempts to bring the traitors to justice, the King of Latarvý decided that enough was enough preoceded to distance his people from the seceders as well. As a result of all of this, the second group moved off into the forest and were not seen by anyone from Latarvý for quite a long time; Latarvý developed some interesting superstitions and fears about the forest (which will be very fun to write, heh). The forest was called Eðerný.

Middle: Western Expansion
Now, on the other side of Eðerný, is a tall mountain range, complete with an active volcano. Eðerný has at this point expanded almost as much as Latarvý had when they broke off, leaving some people living rather close to the volcano. Unlike Latarvý, Eðerný did not have the strict, class system relative to government - however, it had an extensive religious order, that was enforced heavily despite not being centralized in any kind of a "church". The religious system of Éský is polytheistic, and mostly animist, and is, probably unsuprisingly, tied to the system of Power as well. In Eðerný, the religious system simply replaced the governmental class system. Actual governmental leadership was more equitable, and based more on popularity than on Power (though still extensively on gender). But the religious order was inviolable. Until then, in Latarvý, the deities were somewhat impersonal, but in Eðerný, they became personalities in their own right, and generated different sects for each one, and inspiring fanatical followings.

Back at the volcano....
There were technically people associated with Eðerný already living on the western side of the mountains, which was not technically part of that same forest. Some particularly adventurous people lived on both sides, and crossed the mountains on a yearly basis, for whatever reason. The volcano would occasionally erupt, but that was rare, it wasn't devastating, the mountain was high, and it usually gave ample warnings. At some point, however, it became much more active and unpredictable, causing the mountains to be unscalable for a period of time, and separating the sizeable population on the western side from the larger population in the eastern forest. The area west of Eðerný was surrounded on the east and north by high mountains, and on the west by extremely cliffy "beaches" and on the south by nicer sandy beaches like the ones on to the east of Latarvý. It was a motley group of people, mostly from the lower classes in the religious structure than wound up isolated on the wrong side of the mountain, and after many years of infighting, they broke into three distinct groups - one settled into the northern region of the area, living mostly in the slightly more hospitable northern mountain range and in the valleys and plains below it. A second group moved onto the west coast of the region, along the cliffs, and the third to the southern and central areas. The two former, Kéðrý and Anderenlé continued the lax governmental system but strict religious system of Eðerný, while the other, Kylyðandylé, combined both systems which resulted in modern times with an entrenched nobility and an entrenched religious heirarchy, which came the closest of anything to a government verified by religion.

The major difference between all of these groups and the two eastern ones was that most of the people involved in the formation of these groups were women, and among the group, the women tended to be the ones who had had the most status in Eðerný's system, for whatever reason. So when the group broke apart into different sub-groups, the women took control in all cases, leaving all of the societies to the west of the mountains highly matriarchal. Kylyðandalé became even more gendered than Latarvý had ever been over time, and this tied into the religion as well, as the religious dictates of Eðerný had decided that most of the pantheon was female.

Late: Conflicts
Back in Latarvý, all was not well with the currect political system. It wasn't as totalitarian anymore, and had begun to move in the direction of personal deities, but it was a far cry from democratic. In particular, people in the east of Latarvý were unhappy with the adoption of personalized/gendered deities, because on the one hand it was moving towards validating the aristocracy, which many people resented, and on the other hand, the deity representing innate Power was shaping up to be female, which many people in the male-and-Power-dominated society disagreed with. The result was that another sect lead by a higher-up-but(you know the rest) decided to secede before things got any worse, only this time there was no pretese about it. There was a long, bloody, drawn-out civil war, after which the eastern half of Latarvý managed to secede and form its own country, named after the leader of the rebellion (Atrystyn), as Atrynašá. The country itself was very similar to Latarvý, the main differences being that the reigning nobility continued to be based on Power and gender, and the deities continued to be impersonal and largely genderless, whereas in Latarvý, the reign was moving towards blood inheritance and the rigid power structure was collapsing into something a little more bearable.

Unlike most of the Kings of Latarvý, Atrystyn was significantly more daring, and eager to break through Latarvý's old myths about the forest to the west. As a result, he inadvertantly discovered the long lost Eðernýans, but considered their adaptation of the pantheon to be blasphemous and tried to impose his own. Naturally, this didn't go over well, and ruling class of Eðerný developed a distinct dislike of that of Atrynašá, and had the power to kick the forces of the newly formed country off their turf. The King of Latarvý, eager to find people to side with him against Atrynašá, hastily made agreements with the rulers of Eðerný. It helped that the years had weathered Latarvý's social and religious system into something much more similar to Eðerný's. The western forests opened up for "fair play", Atrystyn ventured farther, and over the mountain range, which had long since ceased the erupt.

The Latarvý/Eðerný alliance didn't fail to notice this, and moved over the mountains also, to prevent the rasher Atrystyn from becoming a threat. All three countries met with suprise the entrenched religious and political matriarchal aristocracy in Kyltðadylé. The Princess*** of Kylyðandylé was not happy to see any of them. Minor conflicts occured between Kylyð and the east primarily, but also including Kéðrý and Anderenlé, who tended to side with the Princess. No real war ever broke out, but at one point in the procedings, the new King of Latarvý (not the one from which Atrystyn had seceded) attempted to take over the Kylyð aristocracy and partly succeeded in at least lessening the religious influence over it, if not the matriarchal structure. The current Princess, when it became clear that Latarvýn forces were planning on enforcing their new order, collected a her supporters (a goodly part of the population) and left the ruling of Kylyð to her neice, who had been supporting Latarvý to an extent (for whatever reason), and high-tailed down to an as-of-yet unexplored island chain south of Kylyð. There, she set up a new country, under the same rules as Kylyð had formerly employed, called New Kylyð****. Kylyðandylé itself continued with the entrenched matriarchal aristocracy, but lost many of its religious leanings, and became an ally of Latarvý. The new island nation, if anything, became more religious, and in the "present" remains the only country where religious significantly impacts government.

Ok, that was a significant developement - I'm done for the night. Looking at the time recorded when I started this post, it took an hour and a half to type. Yeech.

*King - in Lán, the word used to describe Latarvýn "Kings" means something along of lines of uber-man (gender-specific, masculine man). I haven't invented the word yet. Bear with me.
**Power - refers to magical potential. As will all instances of Power with a capital P.
***Princess - there are several words for the rulers of Kylyðandylé, ranging from purely secular to purely religious/slightly idolitrous. However, none of them have anything to do with the Latarvýn word for King, so I'm rendering them all as Princess in this entry.
****New Kylyð - yeah, "New" will eventually be in Lán. Bear with me.


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