Day two of the Worldbuilding Bloghop hosted by Sharon Bayliss. Again, I am using the world of Thardrandia from The Rogue King for this bloghop. Previous posts:
Geography & Climate: Part 1
Geography & Climate: Part 2
Geography & Climate: Part 1
Geography & Climate: Part 2
Thardrandia has a long history. At the time of The Rogue King, the main continent, while mostly ruled by one royal family, is split into the three sections I showed in my first post. Before then, each kingdom was each governed by a royal family. Of course, the desert isn’t considered a kingdom and it certainly isn’t governed by any one person.
Before the kingdoms, it was what is now known as the Zan Empire (in the day, it was simply the Empire). Before the Zan Empire, the land was divided into many smaller realms, the borders defined, and disputed, by the species populating it.
Let’s just touch back on the geography first. Thardrandia has two continents and four islands. One continent, Cynati, and her island are on one side of the planet; whereas the main continent, Zan, along with three islands, are on the other side. With me so far?
Now for the history … we’ll start back before the Empire was formed.
The smaller continent of Cynati and the island, Loudan, are populated by one species, the trexens. It was governed under a council of thirteen lords, which were responsible for both their own section of the continent and relations with the others. There were skirmishes, but it all tended to run smoothly.
On the other side of the planet, we have the three island. Two of these islands still more or less govern themselves. Japek, due to being far enough away from the main continent to not be concerned with day to day relations, and Tepol because it’s deserted. The third island is the native land of two species – the katess and the wolena – that, after many disagreements, have come to share the island as well as some certain basic fundamentals.
Whereas on the Zan continent, half of the land was one big hunting ground for the other half. This led to a nomadic lifestyle for the hunted equinea. Breaking into small groups, they wander the grasslands after their … for the sake of brevity … cattle. Each group is answerable to one of the four Leaders and, once a year, all four Herds meet. They still live like this, even though they are no longer hunted.
The other half, the predatory half belonging to the raptereons and the sssstamne, lived in clans, but it was the raptereons who fought with one another (and anything else that got in their path). Some of these clans, the more peaceful ones, like the mystics I spoke of yesterday, were subsequently wiped out by the larger, more aggressive groups.
Over this time, there would be the occasional group that was spearheaded by the feared Shadow Speakers and their Dark Born armies. New realms would be formed, only to crumble at another force which would, in turn, fall to a third.
Into this chaos entered the trexens. They’d built great seafaring vessels and stepped onto the Zan continent with limited knowledge of the land, but the full intention of conquering it. The tidal currents had them land on the Estridorean Fields where the equineans wandered. Bearing a striking, if taller, resemblance to their predators, the equineans were shocked when the trexens, having never been faced with another talking species before, failed to treat them a food source and more as subjects. They joined forces with the amenable trexens and allowed the continuance of the foreigners using their land as a home away from home.
From this foothold, the trexens spread, hitting Contra, the arboreal homeland of the contanihians. The herbivores there were a more technologically-minded people that, while fierce when provoked, tended to keep to themselves. They’d the ability to design weaponry and transport vastly superior to their neighbours, but not the resources to make anything beyond a few.
The trexens, like the contanihians, were already advanced enough to have steel while the rest of the planet carried bronze or iron. They absorbed these newly-found people into their new kingdom, taking the designs back to Cynati and creating the advancements using a strange amber metal. This accumulation of weaponry and transport enabled the trexens to move vast numbers quickly without peer. Their rule spread all over Zan until everything was, more or less, under the control of their empire.
Centuries passed with the trexens ruling, a single language was formed and people grew accustomed to the thirteen Greater Lords being in command. But the trexens started to squabble amongst themselves. Having the rule stretched between the thirteen men who all wanted the power made any decision drawn out, with conclusions usually in their best interests instead of the people.
It wasn’t until the death of the Greater Lord Haldron that things began to change. He’d one child, a daughter by the name of Aladone. She and her father spent much of the year in Cynati, untouched by the rivalry of the other Greater Lords. But, back then, trexen law clearly stated that only a son could take a Greater Lord’s place and Aladone’s newlywed husband had risen from a lowly palace guard.
Koralan’s ascension from guard to Greater Lord brought the internal squabbling to a head. Simply put, the other greedy rulers whose title he shared did not like him. His death, along with that of the sole Greater Lord who sided with Koralan, was plotted numerous times. Each one ended in failure. Eventually, the Greater Lords attempted to do away with him themselves. This was also a mistake, one that cost them their lives. With their deaths, an emperor rose.
This change was meant to be the start a new era. The calendars of old, some very basic, were abandoned in favour of new one. Under the emperor’s rule new treaties were formed, respecting each people’s culture in favour of, if not harmony, then at least union. It was during this period that the last of the planet’s pirates were said to be wiped from the sea.
Then the Demise happened.
It started sometime during the tenth succession, where young Prince Kork took the throne after his parent’s untimely deaths. The prince was still very much a boy and did not fully grasp the responsibility thrust upon him. He made countless blunders, some were quickly smoothed over by the Greater Lords who counselled him, but many were ignored and the trexens soon started to fall out of favour with the other species.
Things got worse after the succession of his only son, Morth. To this very day, historians believe the Empire would still be around if the throne had instead gone to his older sister. Morth was, in short, an idiot. Four centuries after their ancestor had killed to take a throne he didn’t want, the Empire crumbled. Morth ignored even the most ancient treaties, completely alienating himself and his species to the point where the trexens had to flee or fall.
They fled back to Cynati where it became apparent that the smaller continent couldn’t hold the sudden influx. With the contanihians help, they found that the unmoving Mora Moon was habitable and the larger percent of the population was transported there. In fact, only a very tiny portion of trexens were left on Cynati, leading very simple lives under the reign of a lord and a few earls.
Up on Mora, a quite elderly, and childless, Morth passed away. The throne was taken by his nephew, and all awaited breathlessly as he made his first few decisions. King Kriss proved to be wise beyond his years. He kept his people well hidden, urging the contanihians to encourage the idea that the trexens were extinct. The law forbidding anyone to leave the moon without of king’s permission began here. When King Kriss finally died, he left a slightly less haughty people with laws to help them mend what their arrogance had broken.
With the trexens gone, the Empire fell, dividing itself by way of the desert into two kingdoms: Maxia and Predonia. The trexens had instilled a sense of nobility in the people and had even gifted land and titles to those they deemed worthy. These people managed to stall in keeping the land from deteriorating back into its old clans.
Predonia fell to raptereon rule more by default. The mezans weren’t concerned and the sssstamne were vastly outnumbered. The raptereons squabbled amongst themselves as only raptereons can, and after a few rather messy discussions, they had a ruler, Queen Jakio.
It wasn’t long after her succession that Predonia City was built, the idea pinched from the trexens and their central imperial city that stood in the middle of the desert before the trexens vanished. With the raptereons being the hotheads they are, things in this kingdom ran surprisingly smoothly. But then, perhaps it is not such a big surprise since raptereons tend not have a very high patience threshold for law-breakers. It is from this kingdom that most of the laws come from, many holding very painful punishments.
Somewhere along the line the prewania-tofuas took over the kingdom by the simple act of marrying into the royal family. This progress was so slow that the Predonians probably didn’t notice, or even cared.
Of Maxia, rule went to the contanihians who attempted to hold at least half of the old Empire together; persisting long after the Trexens had fled. Their purpose for this tedious task we can never be sure, but not exactly being suited to the task, they blundered in ways that few thought were even possible.
They were stormed upon by what are now known as the ‘Maxian troops’. With the four equinean herds coming from the southwest; the wolenas, katess and bir-dra swept wide until the two armies could finally converge on Contra.
Unaware that they were being attacked until the last minute, the contanihians suffered terrible losses and still haven’t really recovered from that one battle. The only thing that stood between the contanihians and complete annihilation were their superior weapons. Even with pushing the armies out of the forest, they were defeated and the kingdom fell out of their grasp.
There were a few petty fights in the victorious army over just who should take control of the prize that was to be their kingdom. It eventually fell to the wolenas, although how it happened has always been a bit murky. Stealing the idea of a separate base from the slightly more advanced Predonia, Maxia City was built. It is in this city where all Maxian species live side-by-side. Although, the contanihians, while grudgingly considered Maxians, are unsurprisingly absent.
It would be about eighteen hundred years after the collapse of the Zan Empire before the two kingdoms would begin fighting each other. The cause was simple and is spoken as one of the greater love stories of its time, on par with the Greater Lord Larthoran and his beloved, La’dia. The prewania-tofuas were in command of Predonia and one female had married into the Maxian royal family.
But the Maxian Queen fell and Predonia was accused of her death. Protesting its innocence, Predonia sought peace, but instead lost its own queen and, when the rest of the prewania-tofuas fell before the King’s wrath, it was feared Predonia had lost her prince as well. But Sarch, as he is called, had not died with his kind. He’d fled long before then.
In his self-exile, Sarch eventually came across Maxia’s princess and, long story short, they fell in love. This news drove the girl’s mad father further into madness. While he attempted to kill his daughter, and only child, he was struck down by Sarch. The prince of Predonia then married the Maxian Princess. That was two hundred or so years ago and the pair still rule to this day.
Although, the kingdoms have, in truth, been one for several years, many still see it as two that happen to live peacefully. Perhaps this would not be so if it weren’t for the treacherous land the two kingdoms unwittingly made when they broke the Empire. A different sort of a desert from the one they’d always known, a land that is now ruled by the Rogues.
Few within the kingdoms know the difference between the two desert-living groups: the Rogues and the nomads. Most see them as the same thing and treat them the same way, a thing the nomads have quickly come to hate. Within the boundaries of the golden sand, it is definite that the Rogues prefer not to have the nomads mentioned. It’s somewhat obvious that they are linked in many ways, but at the same time, are quite different.
The nomads have always been a roaming, tent-living people. Their only true building is the long-since-fallen temple to the Serpent God, Lorric. While they are the original people to live in the desert, the area they occupy is quite small; mainly due to Rogues taking over the rest. Most of their territory is near the southern shoreline where they survive on trade, fish and their herds of walfre (think of it as a cross between a camel, a iguanodon and a woolly mammoth. Not exact, but close enough).
While the nomads themselves are not solely to blame for the Rogue presence, they were part of the cause. Although according to them, it was an unintentional act. Fearing their slow slip into obliteration, they sought to boost their numbers by absorbing the shunned males. It was their god that chose to exploit and corrupt the assimilation by demanding the new men performed the ritual of drinking a maiden’s blood and allowing his control over them.
The Rogues themselves were a product of the kingdoms. These men were the outcasts; exiled into the desert to die for their crimes. Under the desert’s tough climate, the strongest endured and slowly began to prey on unwary travellers, at first not to rape and kill like their decedents are known for, but to survive. They took what they needed from the merchants daring the sands, be that food, water or other items. Only sometimes would it be women.
But commerce necessitated a trade route between the two kingdoms. The sea was no longer a plausible route, the lack of strong vessels and a sea cliff taking up much of the shoreline in the east not infested by sea monsters meant the only reliable passage was through the desert. The Rogues, little more than single ambushers, made the journey difficult, but not impossible for the heavily guarded caravans.
The kingdoms, blind to what they were making, pumped more and more vileness into the desert. The sands grew filled with the worst of the lands, until the area itself had to be walled off. As numbers gradually increased, raiding became a group effort, making attacks on caravans possible and lone riders easy prey. Survival of the desert no longer pressing, the Rogues fell to the Serpent God Lorric who encouraged their bloodthirsty side.
Eventually, someone amongst their ranks began a very haphazard attempt at controlling the steadily growing horde. It’s not entirely certain how they managed, but at some point, order was there and the Rogues slowly became a threat too great to ignore. Armies were sent to quell them, but the Rogues fled to Rogue Rise. There, they’d water and, through nightly raids on the enemy camp, food. Many fell to the desert. None of them Rogues. This time is forever known to the Rogues as the Kingdoms’ Stupidity.
Unable to route the danger, the kingdom’s worked around it. Men were forbidden to enter each land without proof he’d come from the other. Those without proof were automatically considered Rogues, to be punished and slain as such. Women, however, can go to and fro, leading to Rogue using women – known as Roguesses – to procure what they cannot. As many of those within the kingdoms are not entirely convinced women do the bidding of Rogues, it is generally assumed that Roguesses do not exist.
But they do. Roguesses spend much of their time confining the men to Rogue Rise where they subtly commanded them via rules that usually result in a swift end if broken. Not an easy task when half of today’s Rogues don’t care if what they do is illegal and a quarter of them are high on ahok.