Athdaelda, IV Legion Fort of

Just a few miles east of Athdaelda is a small military complex which acts as base for the IV Imperial Legion.  This fort is a major force in the region, both militarily and economically.  The Empire is able to exert its influence militarily by maintaining the largest standing army in the region, whose direct line to the Empire both subverts the Prince’s influence while maintaining it by perpetuating his family’s rule through treaty and force.

The men stationed here are nominally guarding against potential uprisings by the horsetribes and act as deterrent against those who might practice highwaymanry on the road to Gazee and Diirdec.  They serve a more immediate function in maintaining leverage for both Cirsova and Athdaelda’s position in the region.  While no one would consider Karkuras occupied, it is notable that both Gatlia and Ungoza are “protected” by a lone legion stationed in Davou while otherwise being left to their own.

The economic impact of the IV Legion has a twofold effect.  While the land itself is taxed to feed & mount the soldiers, many supplies and dry goods originate from outside Karkuras, thus bringing traders & merchants from the Heartlands and from Paelnor to keep the troops equipped.  The merchants who created the community of Doan at the crossroads have benefited the most, though some farmers around Athdaelda are aggrieved, as they are most impacted by food tax, a burden not shared with Karkuras’ other citizens.

The Athdaeldan monarchy and IV Legion keep unrest in check, though many Karkurans, not just farmers, have begun demanding more voice in the matter of the fort and legion.  Hence, the Gatian nobles have their worries about the example set by Gatlia’s experiment in republican governance.

One of the primary responsibilities of the Legion was the deforestation of the Sabrio Valley north of the river, along with the razing and total demolition of the bastions of the Kingdom of Sabrio.  At the outset, this created a great surplus of timber for the Empire, however this act is ultimately responsible for the dearth of construction lumber within the province, which today relies heavily on Cirsova and Paelnor’s logging industries.

Athdaelda, City/Principality of

Athdaelda is the seat of political power in Karkuras, its ruling family considered “cousin” (though only sometimes by marriage) to the Imperial family of Cirsova.  Though well respected (principally in the heartlands) the Princes and their kin command very littly authority outside of Karkuras (and some would say Athdaelda itself).  Still, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the trappings of royalty can be felt in the city which once stood alongside a divine king bringing low a dangerous foe in Sabrio.

The city stretches and sprawls for miles upon the plain, far beyond the old city’s walls.  The old city, at Athdaelda’s core, is built upon and around a small butte which has been formed into a stable earthwork.  The old city is divided from the rest of the city by an octagonal outer wall, which surrounds the old city and the “upper city” (really the inner citadel), a walled diamond with each point a gatehouse oriented to a cardinal direction. The paths from each gateway spiral down the rocky perch of the citadel to the lower portion of the old city.

In the walled section of the “lower city”, which surrounds the base of the butte, one may find the old guildhouses, public halls, temples and houses of wealthy patricians. Here, all manner of business public & politic is conducted.

Within the walls of the “upper city”, the cardinal lanes lead to the palace keep, residence of the Prince and immediate royal family of Athdaelda.  Though during the period of unification this keep was hardened and prepared for long sieges, the palace has long since been retrofitted for creature comforts.  Armories are now dining halls & museums and barracks are ballrooms.

The palace itself is an imposing structure of sublime symmetry.  Each cardinal path leads to a heavy wooden door carved with intricate details recounting the deeds of past Princes.  Each corner of the palace is adorned with a vine-trellised tower, and a great central spire rises up from which the Princes can gaze over the plains.

The rest of the “upper city” has largely been converted to gardens.  A few of the old barracks remain to house the palace guards, groundskeepers and other palace staff who do not reside within the keep.

 

Of a somewhat exciting note, as of this post, the Brief Guide to the Imperial Provinces now exceeds over 20,000 words!  The average length of a Campaign Mastery post.  

Corineaus

The port of Corineaus boasts the best harbor on the western coast of the Empire, rivaling even Syflanis.  However, unlike Syflanis, Corineaus lacks the great shipyards for construction (or even repairs) of large ships due to the lack of timber in the region.  This has confounded many captains sailing south along the coast who had been harassed by pirates.  As such, many vessels have taken to carrying an extensive supply of timber in addition to their merchant cargoes.  Despite this disadvantage, Corineaus sees a great deal of traffic as it is the last major port town southward along the western board, as much of the land is either geographically unsuited for any sort of serious port or too inhospitable for inhabitation (the coast winds its way along the wastes and deserts of Paelnor and Ortia, where few journey and even fewer dare live).

Ships often take on large supplies of foodstuff provisions for the long journey to Solaris if they are southbound.  Though there are some quantities of Brebean metals that reach the docks for export, food & steeds (the eastern plains are renown for the excellent horses, many of which are provided in lieu of coin taxation from the loyal horsetribes as tribute) are far and away the most plentiful and valuable commodities produced in Karkuras (a land whose fortunes have somewhat waned in recent times).

 

Corineaus does see its share of the art and goods of far northern make, though much of this finds its way to the royal houses of Karkuras and lesser imperial noble residents in the south.  These remain idle curiosities for the less provincially minded gentry, however, and are not as highly prized as in the northern provinces.  The average Karkuran native tends to prefer finely wrought and beaten metals to the odd stonework and graven crystals of Polaris.  Other imports tend to include Gatlian quarried stone (for building; many of the older structures in Karkuras are native stone and mortar) and supplies for the legion stationed in Athdaelda.

Like other cities in Karkuras, Corineaus is subject to both the Imperial Agent and the Athdaeldan crown.  There are frequent disagreements between the local, Imperial and Athdaeldan authorities in regards to jurisdiction of law and collection of taxes and tariffs (and the matter of occasional mystery ships).  The question of how to handle piracy and other maritime matters has provoked as much debate as it has inaction.  Since all timber must be brought (usually overland) from the Cirsovan heartlands, the general consensus (to the frustration of locals) is that Gatlia, by way of Syflanis, is far more capable of dealing with such trouble and should, thus, be left to them.

There are a few landmarks of particular note in Corineaus, the first being a lighthouse, old as the city itself, shining brilliantly over the harbor.  Some claim that on truly clear nights, its beacon flames can be seen from the top of Owen.  Another is a small, squat tower on the western edge of town. Made of carefully piled and stacked stones, this structure predates any others in the town (perhaps in all Karkuras).  There is only one portal, a small window (too small for anyone but a child to pass through) roughly 15 feet from the ground.  A large fence has been erected around the tower in effort to discourage the practice of youths throwing stones through the window. Attempting to climb the tower has been a violation of public ordinance since a boy fell to his death while scaling the structure.

Brebea

There are small mining communities in the hills and mountains of western Karkuras, as well as countless isolated fishing villages along the Dusksea coast, however, Brebea is the westernmost recognized imperial city in the province.  Brebea is nestled in a well-defended horseshoe in the foothills and is connected to the rest of the Empire by a road to Doan.

Though Brebea was far enough from the Sabrio Valley that the city was not directly threatened by the barbarian kingdom, the city was an integral part of the war against those murderous savages.  The Brebeans supplied additional spears, shields, helmets, axes and blades to the Athdaeldans, who provided a staunch auxiliary to the Cirsovan legions who cleansed the land of Sabrio’s threat.

The mountains of west Karkuras were rich in coal and iron, as well as gold and silver.  For at least five hundred years, Brebea’s mining has been supported by Athdaeldan grain.  Though the hills around Brebea, provided some grazing grounds for sheep and goat herds, the foodstuff sent from Athdaelda had allowed the population of Brebea to remain stable, large, and hard at work at the region’s industry, mining, smelting & refining ores to be exported throughout the empire.  The area immediately around Brebea, however, has stopped producing with the regularity and quality it once had, and the town has been in a steady decline over the last century.  Despite this, the quantity of ores produced in the regions surpasses that from Gatlia, which has quarry camps and scant mines, but no large communities devoted solely to the task of producing and refining.

Ore produced from the more remote mines of the western hill lands is transported to Brebea via the winding mountain trails into the valley to be smelted and worked, but fewer operations are willing to allow the Brebean smelting guilds, who are known to extract exorbitant fee from outside companies, to take their toll on the miner’s bottom line.  Thus, many mining companies have begun to simply sit on their claims, waiting and hoping for the political & economic climate to change.

A number of mining companies have proposed either a large-scale move or to found a wholly new community in a richer area, however these attempts have been rebuffed because they were found either to violate Brebea’s imperial charter or the treaty between the Empire and Athdaeldan Principality.  Thus, no new charters have been granted, and Brebea continues its slide into poverty and ignominy.

Doan

A great ways southwestward down the road from Daaln is Doan, at the crossroads of Central Karkuras.  Though Doan’s history is more recent than other cities in the region, post-dating the imperial incorporation of Athdaelda and its allies, it is still subject to the rule allowing the Prince to appoint a sheriff.

After the Athdaeldan cities were connected to Daaln by imperial road, Doan grew up naturally as a trading post, with a few merchants setting up stalls for a few weeks near the road, allowing them to sell to travelers between Corineaus and Athdaelda and Brebea, as well as those going to and from the imperial province.

Doan is by no means, however, a large and thriving merchant town.  Karkuras benefits little from overland imperial trade.  Only Corineaus, to Doan’s north, sees many trade goods, as it is the last major Dusksea port that ships bound south around the peninsula may stop at with any certainty that their needs may be met.  While some of these goods trickle down through Doan to Brebea and Athdaelda, much of it ends up staying briefly in the warehouses before eventually shipping to Solaris.  The greatest exception is supply for the Karkuran Legion stationed in Athdaelda.  This often comes overland from Daaln (when Cirsovan in origin) or from Corineaus (when Gatlian in origin).  Doan thus serves as distribution and exchange center for those intent on trading or moving goods to Athdaelda.

Most goods from the more southern reaches of the Empire, however, make their way to the Imperial province from Diirdec to Korsha, so Doan rarely sees Paelnoric or Ortic wares on the shelves of its stalls & stores.  Little from the heartlands that it not intended specifically for Athdaelda finds its way to Doan, either, as Korsha’s shipping lanes are the primary means of moving goods to and from Central Cirsova.

Doan suffers some neglect from imperial authorities, who have largely handed over administration of the district to the merchants who have built up the community.  Almost no one lives there who is not a merchant, in the service of a merchant (clerks, porters, etc), or various tradesmen who keep the town running, repaired and supplied with tools that are easier made than traded for.  Even without attention or support from the imperial praefects, the town does well enough for itself.  Because of this, however, there are often questions raised in the public square in regards to the taxes which must be remitted to both imperial authorities and the Prince.  This has not manifested itself into any zeitgeist of independence, though the Legion stationed in Athdaelda, it is said, has its eye more toward Doan than the horselands to the east.

Karkuras

The Province of Karkuras is comprised of the Principality of Athdaelda, it’s northern satellites, and the unincorporated plains, which are still inhabited by a dwindling population of horsetribes.

Geographically, Karkuras may be considered divided into three parts.  One could draw a line from the headwaters of the Sabrio northward through the town of Brebea to where the coastal waters of the Dusksea bend northeastward into the Bay of Santia, and declare all west of that line to the shores West Karkuras.  The western portion is only sparsely habited and mountainous, bordered by the Dusksea.  While there are a few isolate fishing villages along the coast, none appear on any maps and, due to the rough terrain, the central Karkuran authorities are able to exert little if any influence on these communities.  All recognized and chartered communities in Karkuras are found in the central corridor, down which the road from Corineus bends southeasterly through Doan, then Athdaelda and toward Gazee, with the Sabrio river marking the province’s natural southern boundary.   East Karkuras is bound to the north by the Imperial Province, east by the Dawnsea, and south by the Sabrio.  Though there are some rolling hilling and sparse forests, much of this land is gentle sloping grasslands and plains, in which the many wild herds of various quadrupeds roam, followed by the less civilized Karkurans.

The lands annexed by treaty of vassalage with the Prince of Athdaelda and that conquered north of the Sabrio River during the war were incorporated into the province of Karkuras and granted a nominal co-rulership between the Prince and an imperially appointed chancellor.  The Prince is granted authority to select and appoint sheriffs to the cities of Karkuras, on condition of approval by imperial authorities.  Additionally, the Prince has the authority to appoint a Barbarian Subduing General, however this privilege has rarely been exercised, due to the relative placidity of the horse tribes following the destruction of the Kingdom of Sabrio.

Though the system of governance in Karkuras has ensured relative stability, there are parties who resent the monolithic dynasticism which the treaties established, while other nativists oppose the imperial oversight of the Principality.  No Karkuran will tell you they are happy supporting one of the largest standing legions within the Empire in the province’s capital.

Karkuras’ past and adjacency to wild and dangerous jungles of the Sabrio valley and wastelands of the neighboring Paelnor has earned Karkuras the moniker ‘the Borderlands’.  Even today, after over three centuries of Imperial rule, much of Karkuras remains untamed, though its reputation pales comparison with the oddities of Paelnor.

Sabrio, The Kingdom of

Though no written records exist of the Kingdom of Sabrio, it is thought that it originated much the same way as early Cirsovan culture.  The Kingdom of Sabrio originally consisted of communities along the Sabrio River valley which were at some point unified under a single king.  Despite the dense rainforest growing around much of the valley, the communities were well connected by the river. Large swathes of forest were clear-cut along the banks, and in those clearings the cities of the old kingdom flourished.  Indeed, by the time of the Second War of Unification, very little of the original forests remained, so many had been cleared away.  Not content to remain a solely riparian power, the Kingdom of Sabrio pushed outward from the valley, displacing less settled peoples and encroaching on the territories of more civilized inhabitants.

During the war that destroyed the Kingdom of Sabrio, Orwen Akana saw to it that every city was thoroughly eradicated.  The Imperial Legion moved up the river valley, from its mouth at the Dawnsea to its distant headwaters south of Brebea, a great cleansing fire through the land.  The people of the Sabrio valley were, by the written accounts of the legion, wholly committed to evil, vice, debauchery and human sacrifice.  The Empire today benefits greatly from their extermination.

Parts of the modern province of Karkuras, as well as large portions of Paelnor, were parts of the Sabrio Kingdom prior to the treaties of annexation which created those provinces.