The Islands of Kyria

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The Islands of Kyria

Post  Mizu on Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:56 am

Kyria is a militaristic island nation centered on a large archipelago off the coast of northeastern Kossa. It's immediate neighbor is Briss, whom Kyria has appropriated land from on several occasions. Though the nation is advanced and has a very educated population, it is no less a warrior society than even the least sophisticated of Sabian cultures - they've merely formulated better ways to get the pointy bit into the guy they don't like. Kyria is a highly religious, imperialistic nation that resents its neighbors and loathes what it considers "lesser cultures" - that being, of course, most everyone else.





Kyrian History and the Evolution of Government:



Spoiler:

From the perspective of other races, Kyrians are likely the most notable race of Sabites due to their interest of matters outside of Sabia. Kyrians inhabit the Kyrian Isles - also known simply as Kyria - a place characterized by its cool weather, frequent rain, and even more frequent overcast and fog. Kyria is separated from mainland Kayre by a channel of water 80 miles across at its narrowest point, and 150 miles across at its widest. It consists of three main islands: Epella, Tyrum, and Dalla - the first of which is smaller than the other two and the northernmost part of the archipelago. Dalla and Tyrum are home mostly to grassy highlands, plains, and ancient deciduous forests comprised of trees such as beech, oak, and ash. Epella, higher in elevation, is more mountainous, comprised mostly of tall evergreen forests that lead up toward high, craggy peaks. In terms of larger wildlife, Dalla and Tyrum are home to a few species of deer, cats, and foxes, while Epella is mostly devoid of large game. In terms of wildlife that is perceived to be especially dangerous, there is little enough that one may rest easy at night.


Kyria, once known as Ossra, was once an isolated kratocracy long ago, home to industrially primitive, warring clans of Sabite natives who worshipped a vast number of different gods. Powerful individuals, known as Champions (“Lyri”, in Old Kyran), would rise to power and subjugate their neighbors through force, before new Champions would grow and repeat the cycle. From a historical perspective, it’s safe to say that the islands were in a state of constant war and utterly dominated by savage warlords - in such a place, complex civilization wasn’t given proper room to take root and grow. Champions would rise with violence and fall to violence - many died and accomplished little on a grander scale. It wasn’t until only a few millennia before the present, that one Champion showed the world he was destined for more: he was known as Caed the Conqueror, The Last Warlord and The Grand Champion of Epella. Caed, unlike most others of his ilk, obtained his power through cunning rather than brute force - a method that was often alien in his age, where shows of physical strength dominated society. Despite being more of a thinker than a fighter, however, he was no weakling - such was the strength of his arm, that it is said that during the seizing of his power, Caed killed three assailants with a single shot of his longbow. But it wasn’t cunning and strength alone that saw him surpass the others who had stood before him, instead, it was his vast ambition. In the modern age, he’s depicted artistically as a winged giant weilding two massive swords - a symbol both of strength and divinity.


Caed was a gifted tactician who pioneered the introduction of organized combat and complex formations into Kyria’s battlefields, such as the phalanx. Caed was also an adherent of Hyreism, a monotheistic, dualistic religion that had originated in the land of Nazara, further south in Central Sabia, many thousands of years ago. It had become widespread over the centuries - including as far as the southern shores of Kossa and infinitesimal parts of Kyria. In the Kyran tongue, the central figure of worship was called either “Kyras” or “Kyra” - whom Caed renamed Ossra after at the end of his several year-long campaign to unite the archipelago under his rule, dubbing it: “Kyria”. Under his 140 year rule, Kyria was finally given the foundations on which to build a strong nation - and eventually an empire - unified under a single religion.


Caed had many children, but his heir was born of the union of him and the famous Champion of Tyrum, Lyrissi Hessa, whom had been the last to fall to Caed’s conquest and the most tenacious of his foes. The child’s name was Sarassa, a devout Hyreshi woman, who ascended the throne at the age of 53 upon Caed’s death at the age of 182 - considered a long life by Kyrian standards. Under Caed, many of the outlying islands of the archipelago refused to recognize his rule. Queen Sarassa (Also known as Sarassa the Blue) rectified this by investing in the establishment of a proper navy, instrumental in bringing the rest of the archipelago under her authority - which was completed after an 18-year-long campaign. She was hailed as a strong leader, but died at the age of 98 due to poor health as a result of a plague that struck Epella during the height of her rule. She accomplished a lot in her rule, however, doing many other things such as strengthening the church, furthering the standardization of common law, and lying the foundations of developing image of Kyrian nobility. She was replaced by her young son Elleas (The Administrator), who gained fame after putting down the Tyrumite Rebellions that were iconic to his rule - he also expanded the nation’s feeble infrastructure and introduced the standardized currency that still exists, albeit in an altered form, today. Finally, he also introduced the idea of “Being Kyrian” as a unifying cultural identity. Elleas’ rule was long and productive, and when he died after nearly a century of rule, he was replaced by his daughter, Elleas II. Elleas II was known most for being the central ruling figure who existed during the religious schism that occurred during that period, separating the Hyresh faith into two distinct sects on the archipelago: the Hyreshi and Kyranists.


Hyresh scripture states that heaven is divided into a hierarchy, and that only the most devout ascetics could reach the highest level of heaven - thus they would have a position of power second only to God. Kyranists strongly rejected this belief, the key difference between them, believing that heaven was a singular plane to which all good individuals pass equally. Additionally, Kyranists also rejected the Kyrian Hyresh practice of worshipping minor deities alongside God, which was commonplace in many households since the unification of Kyria. The Hyresh population was always a majority, despite the surge in popularity that Kyranism enjoyed. Kyranists were often persecuted in varying degrees, including under Elleas II, who restricted their property rights. As a result of the inequalities they faced, many Kyranists left Kyria for the Kossan mainland, relocating to Briss, where they intermingled with the native Brissian population. This contributed to the high demographics of Kyranists that can be seen in eastern and southern Kossa today. Elleas II was succeeded by her son, Lir, after 80 years in power. Lir's time in power was mostly uneventful, mimicking his mother’s policies in most aspects. He was also a devout Hyresh man. His son and heir, however, was much more tolerant than he - his name was Kass, known for being a very benign, if not somewhat naive ruler. He returned many rights to the Kyranist population and even converted, earning admiration from some and disdain from many others. He had a child to a Hyreshi woman near the end of his rule, ruling for 104 years before he died unexpectedly. The aforementioned son, Praed, his heir, was raised by his mother - a regency took place before Praed was of age to ascend the throne. When he finally did, there was a major turning point for the Kingdom of Kyria.


In the modern day, Praed lives in infamy in the annals of Kyrian history - as he is hatefully known as Praed the Apostate: The Enemy of God. By the time Praed ascended the throne, approximately over 35% of Kyria identified themselves as Kyranists, most of which inhabited Epella and Dalla. Unlike the father he barely knew, the Hyresh Praed had little tolerance for Kyranists, who he believed to be a corrupting influence in his kingdom - a disease and a moral crisis. Kyranists, despite facing some inequalities, were mostly equal in society at this point, as they always had been - differences in sect were seen of little consequence in most cases. Over his rule, Praed publically blamed Kyranists for many of Kyria’s hardships, such as the suffering economy, leading to the building of a more defined negative perception of them that they had to face. Praed wasn’t content with more rigidly defining Kyranists as simply second-class citizens, however, as his dream was a Kyria united under one, consistent faith - such as what Caed had fought for, as he saw it. He started by purging his court of all Kyranists and stripping them of their titles, surrounding himself with like-minded individuals. He then moved on to introduce legislation over a 20 year period that furthered the disenfranchisement of Kyranists - such as the Reclamation Act, which included the repossession of much land owned by Kyranist temples across the islands, as well as Kyranist nobles. He also introduced a tax on Kyranists that Hyresh citizens did not have to pay. These conditions persisted for around 40 years, before Praed’s injustices culminated in the outlawing of Kyranism altogether. By this point Kyranists made up less than 15% of the population - but they still strongly resisted conversion, and many continued to openly practice their faith. Praed reacted violently, and many Kyranists were rounded up and executed publicly by decapitation, something considered abhorrent to Kyranists, as losing one’s head in life means that one’s soul is doomed to purgatory. At this point in historic records, Kyrian texts begin to divert more toward the mythological and the romantic, as it gives way to the beliefs outlined in the Kyranist holy book.


Fearing for their lives and for their faith, the remaining Kyranists did what they believed was their only option. Under the guidance of Karra Kalassala (now know as “The Deliverer” and the first saint of the Kyranist faith), a low-born priestess said to be in direct contact with God, the Kyranists attempted to embark on an exodus from their homeland - the idea of this pleased Praed, but he did not want to appear lenient when Karra approached him. Instead of allowing them to leave, Praed told them that they must convert or die. Karra relayed this information to her flock, and they prepared to fight their way to the shores of Dalla. In popular lore, as Praed’s armies chased the Kyranists to the beaches, Saint Karra and King Praed himself fought in single combat on the sands just outside of the burning capital of Dalla: A’sarra a’ Daen, while the last Kyranists attempted to board the ships that would carry them from their hostile homeland. Saint Karra was said to have fractured Praed’s armor and removed his little finger, before being defeated dishonorably by the king and ten of his guard, who treacherously slashed at her back with their polearms. Praed was then said to have removed her eyes and killed all those who had stayed behind to fight beside her, before he bound her to the stone of his greatest temple, where she was left to die. After she finally did succumb, she was beheaded, her body left in the temple where she died, while her head was buried outside of the city beside which she had been defeated. As Saint Karra was believed to be an oracle, it is said that she was given foresight of this event, and accepted it - she had told her followers prior to the exodus that God had promised that her death and subsequent denial into heaven would allow all those doomed to purgatory by Praed to earn their passage onwards. After the exodus, to save face, Praed declared all who had escaped as exiles, never to return upon penalty of death by beheading.


The last thing that Karra had told her flock before the Battle of A’sarra a’ Daen, as described by the Kyranist Holy Book, was that they must “find the land that God hadst made holy by His birth”. The Kyranists, now at sea, wandered all of Sabia in search of this holy land. They wandered for 50 years, facing many trials, before landing on the shores of Aram - almost 800 miles southeast from Nazara, the true birthplace of their faith. At this time, the Arami peninsula was ruled by the ancient nation of Qaramyar - an empire originally of Aramari Sabites that was so vast, it even included Sarabites, Kossites, and even humans among its peoples. They were welcomed with open arms by the empress of Qaramyar, Amiti Shahbana (The Great), who gave them a home in the arid region of Ubayya among the Mazraks, a grey-skinned Sabite people with dark hair and bright eyes, who found Kyranism greatly appealing. The Kyranists, though finding themselves among Hyreshi adherents once more, found their treatment to be just, and therefore satisfying. A passage in the holy book reads that Karra’s key disciple approached Amiti herself, asking if they had reached the fabled land of Nazara. Upon hearing how far they were from their destination, they were dismayed, but Amiti only laughed - telling them that Nazara was well within her borders, and that the blood of all her lands flowed together - therefore, there was no need to be sad, as where they were was just as much Nazara as anywhere else. As a gift, Amiti bestowed upon them a relic brought from Nazara itself, and the Kyranists were overjoyed.


Over time, however, Amiti The Great passed and was replaced, and her kindness faded with time over the centuries. The Kyranists formed a distinct community, albeit an impoverished one, but were content - however, they found themselves becoming increasingly exploited by Qaramyari nobles, often in distinctly cruel and unreasonable ways. Amiti’s rule was the height of Qaramyar’s power, but after her death, her inept brother allowed matters to begin to slip after he took her place - allowing nobles to run amok and allowing the great wall dividing Qaramyar’s lands from the Kantorran steps, Khel Ranisq, to fall into disrepair. Shortly after he took power, Qaramyar suffered a crippling defeat to a nation known only as “Marishpur” in old texts, in a region known as “Pjaret”, which ended up being ceded to the nation in the peace agreement. Over his rule and the rules of those past him, the empire suffered increased corruption, administrative incompetence, and overspending resulting in a debt crisis. Fiscal independence slipped from Qaramyar’s hands, and the slave population increased alongside wealth inequality. The Kyranists didn’t take long to rebel, doing so only a few hundred years after their initial landing in Qaramyar. Their rebellion, bloodless, lasted only a year, when they were persuaded to surrender after being faced with insurmountable odds. As punishment, the Kyranists (including both native Kyrians and converted Mazraks) were declared an “Elqad Sulela”, most accurately translated as a “Slave race”. Enslaving minor ethnic and religious groups was a common punishment practice in Qaramyar, and the Kyranists spent many years in slavery.


Later, the Kyranists, both Kyrian and Mazrak, were united under a prophet known as Sibil during the later days of the Qaramyari Empire. Sibil’s lessons swayed many, culminating in many Kyranists labeling themselves as “Sibilists” instead, alongside a slew of new converts. Sibil was a skilled leader, originally only a goat herder, and helped stage a very successful rebellion against Qaramyar while they were preoccupied with an invasion of their western territories by a united Akiri horde from the Kantorran Steppes, as well as the growing dilemma of distant satraps declaring independence. Sibil’s rebellion quickly built momentum and inspired many other groups to rebel as well, most significant of which was a peasant rebellion that eventually lead to the destruction of the capital. Before this, however, Sibil and two of her four lieutenants were deceived into a trap by a Qaramyari general shortly after Sibil’s followers had declared her Queen of Ubayya. Her lieutenants were bound and killed with arrows, while she was bound to a great pyre and immolated publically. It was said that her death was so inspiring, that all those watching went into a frenzy and attacked their superiors. Shortly after this, rebels stormed the capital after an overextended military could do little to stop them. The Qaramyari empire fell with the destruction of the capital and the death of the emperor, its holdings disintegrating into a vast array of disjointed successor kingdoms.


After gaining their freedom, complications of ideology began to arise among the Sibilists. One issue was political: Sibil had left no clear successor to carry on after her death. The first group believed that Kassa, Sibil’s older sister and last remaining confident, should be the one to lead. The second group instead believed that they should be lead by Ishka, Sibil’s Mazraki lover. The other issue was an issue over the interpretation of Sibil's nature: the first group believed that Sibil was wholly divine, and thus deserving of worship. The second group believed that, though Sibil had divine qualities, she was only a teacher - they believed that she would rather not be worshipped, and such they disdained the idea of idolatry. The first group had a heavier Kyrian ideological influence, while the second was more Mazraki in nature. There was eventually a peaceful split, which resulted in the separate faiths of Sibilism and Ashyaham - "Ashyaham" meaning "humility" in Mazraki.


Scholars generally hold that the majority of Sibilists peacefully left the newfounded Kingdom of Ubayya under Kassa's leadership with the goal of returning to Kyria in mind. They did in the form of an invasion - generally known as the "Riaska", or "Reconquest". The Sibilists were victorious, as their battle-tested soldiers proved more effective against Kyria's military. Sibilism became dominant on the archipelago. Kassa took leadership and established many new reforms - one of which was the establishment of the idea that the head of state was also the head of the faith. She also divided territory and distributed it to personally appointed individuals, many of which were her generals and confidents, and were given the title "Lord General" - this system was based off of the Qaramyari satrapy system. Lord generals act as administrative heads of the territories they control and answer directly to the "Vin Kara" ("vin" being the Kyrian word for "Great", and "Kara" being an alteration of the Mazraki word "Qha'ra", most accurately meaning "leader"), who is also commonly referred to as either the "High Suzerain" or "Emperor/ess" in Common. Under the Lord Generals are various officers who carry out various bureaucratic duties. The Vin Kara exercises supreme authority, though they are commonly advised by the various monastic orders established after the Riaska. This is marked as the end of the Kingdom Period and the precursor to the Imperial Period.


The Riaska caused an influx of southeastern cultural influence to enter the Kyrian archipelago, which can be subtly seen in elements of their architecture, dress, and government - as well as some religious practices, such as the practice of giving kneeling obeisance to the horizon with the sun at your back, which originally came from the pre-Sibil Mazraks. Mazraks themselves also live as a minority in Kyria, particularly inhabiting Dalla.


Kassa’s leadership is marked by several key features: she established the Sibilite Order, a monastic organization that leads the Second Church of Kyranism - known more specifically as Sibilism. She also broke up Kyria into thirteen districts, each ruled by one of the thirteen Lord-Generals, who were allowed duke-like rule of their provinces, but who answered to the Vin Kara, the leader of the nation whose power was equivalent to that of an emperor. The Vin Kara is both leader of the nation and leader of the church, and is elected from a pool of candidates decided by the Sibilite Order (as, before her death, Kassa declared that the title of Vin Kara must be elective, not hereditary, decided "among the faithful"). It was originally intended as a temporary title until the intended reinstatement of the monarchy, but such ventures never came to fruition. Kassa was also famous for her Nine Proclamations:


One, that Sibil was the sole child of God and rules with Him in heaven.
Two, that none are more holy than Sibil.
Three, that Sibil is wholly divine and above the mortal plane.
Four, that Kyras, God, is the Conqueror of Heaven.
Five, that God speaks through the chosen saints and through the saints alone.
Six, that Kyras is as much a god of fire and vengeance as he is of love and peace, and that he created all things.
Seven, that Caed the Crusader conquered so that you might be free.
Eight, that Karra the Deliverer died so that you might be free.
Nine, that Sibil the Sanctified fought so that you might be free.


“The Conqueror of Heaven” refers to the belief that as the Kyranists purged Kyria of the old gods (after outlawing their worship alongside Kyras), so too did Kyras himself purge the Heavens. This also lead to the modern artistic depiction of Kyras as a warrior-god, outlined most quintessentially by the famous painting of the Early Imperial period titled “The Conquest of Heaven”, wherein Kyras is depicted as a great, soaring angelic being, clad in robes, face obscured, wielding two great swords above a sea of demons and false gods. The Nine Proclamations formed the basis of the new church of Kyranism. Under this new system of government and newly organized church, Hyreism was gradually stomped out - today, one is only able to find followers in the most remote of Kyrian islets - though Hyreism is still a very popular religion outside of Kossa. Kassa also rebuilt A’sarra a’ Daen as a holy city, and she erected a temple in memorial of Saint Karra over the ruins of the Hyresh temple she died in, declaring that Karra had finally earned her passage into Heaven. One of the largest temples in Kyria, it became a huge basilica and is home to the Karran Order, blind priests who concern themselves with the woes of travelers and the sick. Kassa is also attributed with the introduction of the tradition of cremation after death - as, since Sibil died of immolation, cremation is believed to be holy and cleansing. During this time, Kyria began to expand its borders outside of the Isles, touching upon the mainland as well as different island chains. Upon Kassa’s death, she requested that she not be made into a saint. Her wish was granted, passing at the age of 190, and she was given the title "The Humble". Approximately 700 years later we arrive upon the modern day, where Kyria has become a culturally rich, expansive, and industrial nation of proud people.



Modern Kyria:


Spoiler:

Modern Kyrians are boastful and headstrong - their violent heritage still lingering with them. The pious soldier is extolled as the model Kyrian citizen, as close to God as they are to their sword. Like nearly all Sabite societies, women and men are equal, and gender norms are virtually nonexistent. The Kyrian military is a centerpiece of Kyrian society, most famous for its armored crossbowmen (“Balissi”) and heavy infantry (“Kansa”), an effective and disciplined fighting force that boast many victories. These forces are grouped into legions, often accompanied by special cavalry and siege weaponry, lead by a general and the army’s Champion - a skilled fighter who devotes their entire existence to the concept of becoming a living weapon. Being a Balissi is a very prestigious position, as crossbows are considered an exquisite and dignified weapon. Kyrians take the manufacturing of these weapons very seriously - they are hand-crafted out of precious materials, and are as much a work of art as a deadly weapon; many of these crossbows are family heirlooms, worth more than the soldier that carries them. They tend to be quite heavy, even for a Kyrian, and are known to have the ability to punch clean through the skulls of their targets.


Kyria is as militant at home as it is abroad. Kyria’s police force, known as the Syrassi, is made up of highly trained military veterans, who patrol the streets fully armed and possess full authority to subdue - or even kill - troublemakers if it is deemed necessary in the moment. They are expected to be virtuous and stoic, and thuggish behavior and abuse of privileges is punished severely. Above them is the Kyrassi, the imperial guard, an elite force who is tasked with the defense of military officials and even the High Regent themself. They most often wield large, intimidating pole-arms, are dressed fully in thick armor and dark robes, and have their faces completely concealed with masks. The Kyrassi are supposed to be silent while on duty, as it is believed that when danger comes, they are capable enough to not need to say anything. Being a member of the Kyrassi is a very desirable position, hence the Kyrian expression: “Going to the Kyrassi”, used to describe something or someone with high potential, or to describe a favorable sequence of events that may continue into the future - or ironically, to describe something or someone destined to failure. Lord-Generals are often accompanied by 24 Kyrassi, while their officers, who govern the districts within the province ruled by their Lord General, are usually accompanied by two Kyrassi each.


Kyrian society is highly epicurean in nature. In fact, many foreign cultures view them as debauched and sinful - however, to the Kyrians, epicureanism is simply considered to be a compliment to God - a thanks for the gifts he has created. Kyrians can be fickle, constantly seeking new sources of enjoyment, whether it be in the form of activities or individuals. Marriages are a strange thing - while two individuals may be married, it’s extremely common for each to openly have lovers. To them, marriage and sexuality are fluid concepts.


Social norms demand that all Kyrians are literate and artistic, as well as competent combatants and skilled mathematicians. Thus, the Kyrian school system has fused many of these expectations into one academic system, where training with weapons and dueling is as common to the curriculum as reading and writing. After their primary education, Kyrians are expected to specialize their education by taking it in a number of different directions - such as studying to become a priest or learning to become a soldier. Because of all the options many youths are given, this has lead to Kyria becoming a very individualistic society - though luckily for the Kyrian government, the extolment of military values innate within their culture ensures that there’s never a shortage of fresh young soldiers for the war machine.


Kyria’s scientific community is ruled predominantly by the Kyrian Alchemical Societies, run by alchemists - whose image in Kyrian society is viewed similarly to how mages are viewed in the human world. Because Sabites cannot use magic directly, they must instead make use of it through different, more indirect means. They accomplish this through the drawing of complex, magical runes which, in essence, ‘cast spells’ for them. Kyrians call this practice Thaumaturgy, or alternatively: "Rune Magic". Alchemists, in general, are stereotyped as knowledge-hungry recluses who contribute most heavily to the Kyrian war effort - particularly in the areas concerning weapons and machines of war. Other users of Thaumaturgy include the priests of the various holy orders that have been established since The Reconquest, including anyone from the healers of the Karran Order, to the undertakers of the Ardessi Circle, or to one of the feared Sibilite Inquistors. Thaumaturgy is viewed as a wonderful and powerful thing, and its users are known as Ascensi - “higher”. Ascensi enjoy the prestige that comes with their craft, and are even allowed special privileges, provided that they are first evaluated by the government and given proper identification - this does, however, bog them down with certain obligations, particularly to the military.



Despite the prestige and glamour associated with Thaumaturgy, and despite its entrenchment within the Kyranist Orders, there exist those few among Kyria's Ascensi who seek instead to further their race’s ability to resist magic, not bring them closer to it. These individuals vary in origin, but the most famous are those known colloquially as Mage Hunters, members of a shadowy religious order who believe that magic is God’s curse upon the world. They are aptly named, as many of them seek employment abroad as skilled assassins of magic-users.



More information will be coming, such as a timeline, as well as details of their actual culture, military, and economics.
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Mizu

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