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A survey of Mideres by land, sea and air (see map)
Khos

Khos

ADMINISTRATION: 'Honorary' Democras; Council of Michine.

RELIGION: Daoism, Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Hospitable, Generous, Fierce, Cosmopolitan.

REMARKS: Khos is known as one of the black sheep of the Democras due to its surviving Council of nobles. Khos is, of course, a must-see destination for all discerning travellers of the Mideres. The western half of the island is a fertile plain watered by the run-offs from the mountainous regions of the east, where the remarkable landscapes of the Reach and the Tumbledowns are to be found in all their rugged beauty.

The island has two chief cities, Al-Khos (Port of Khos) in the north and Bar-Khos (Shield of Khos) in the south. Bar-Khos stands on the mouth of the 'Lansway' - a narrow isthmus connecting Khos to the southern continent. The ancient walls of the Shield have so far protected Khos from all invasions by land, but now, besieged these long years, this could change imminently.

Coraxa

Coraxa

ADMINISTRATION: Psuedo-Democras; Council of Patricians.

RELIGION: Daoism, Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Exploitative, Fierce, Independent, Hardy.

REMARKS: Famed as one of the pit-fighting capitals of the 'known world', and a major grower and exporter of tarweed.

Coraxa is another black sheep of the Democras - here the ideals of 'people without rulers' have been interpreted to fit a free-for-all economic tradition permissive of great individual wealth and monopoly - an interpretation which is fiercely defended by a culture of personal independence. Not surprisingly then, the most wealthy hold sway over everyone else in Coraxa, albeit behind screens of deception.

Salina

Salina

ADMINISTRATION: Democras; People's Assemblies.

RELIGION: Daoism.

TEMPERAMENT: Hospitable, Relaxed, Independent.

REMARKS: The unacknowledged jewel of the Free Ports. In Salina the people are a treasure in their own right, fiercely passionate about the finer things in life; love, cuisine, art, family, friendships.

The discerning traveller should dine in the evenings at one of the many coastal tavernas, where he can enjoy a superb sea-food dish washed down with cheap wine as memorable as the world's finest, before relaxing in the gentle company and music that his strange presence will inevitably evoke.

Minos

Minos

ADMINISTRATION: Democras; People's Assemblies.

RELIGION: Daoism.

TEMPERAMENT: Proud, Hospitable, Cosmopolitan, Ambitious.

REMARKS: Considered the heart of the Democras, and one of the primary civilisations in all the 'known world'. The island is in flower right now, culturally speaking, though with the empire at its door the discerning traveller should hurry if he wishes to experience it while he still can. Go there now and see the festivals exploding every month across the island; the street art everywhere; the rooftop gardens where people gather in the cooler evenings for food and drinks and music; the collective spirit of their participo's; the sheer vibrancy of this society in climax.

Coros

Coros

ADMINISTRATION: Democras; People's Assemblies.

RELIGION: Daoism.

TEMPERAMENT: Subtle, Hospitable, Relaxed.

REMARKS: Known for being the birthplace of the famed political philosopher Zezike, 'Prophet of the Revolution'. Zezike's ideas, refined while he was a political prisoner, gave birth to the Democras itself - though he was never to see it in his own lifetime.

Coros is a sedately-cultured island with remarkable qualities and many delights, though they take some gentle patience to pry open. The people here have a particular love of astronomy. Take a walk at night and see how young and old alike gather to watch the night sky and its shooting stars.

Beware their breaths though, which are made awful by the pungent cheeses they adore here.

Q'os

Q'os

ADMINISTRATION: Republic/Ideological Plutarchy.

RELIGION: Mann

TEMPERAMENT: Exploitative, Ambitious, Proud, Cosmopolitan.

REMARKS: One of the largest cities in the 'known world' and capital city of the Holy Empire of Mann, The many delights of Q'os's include skysteeples that soar into the ever-present cloud cover, poisonous fogs, slavery, extortionate prices, harried people, horns wailing compulsory calls to prayer, a smattering of decent wines.

If it isn't raining, the discerning traveller should take a bite to eat with him in the Drowning Gardens of the Temple District, where he can sit and watch for free as pilgrims purposely submerge themselves to the finer limits of drowning.

Markesh

Markesh

ADMINISTRATION: Republic/Ideological Plutarchy.

RELIGION: Mann

TEMPERAMENT: Hospitable, Nonchalant, Vain.

REMARKS: Once the mightiest trading empire in the 'known world' and now a subject of Mann. The people of Markesh tend to take the long view in life, both in regards to their personal lives and the life of their nation. The pidgin language of Trade originated here through their great trading network, which combines their own native tongue with words and terms from ports around the Mideres.

Ghazni

Ghazni

ADMINISTRATION: Republic/Ideological Plutarchy.

RELIGION: Mann

TEMPERAMENT: Exploitative Of Strangers, Fierce, Tricky, Magnanimous.

REMARKS: The men of Ghazni vary in many ways save for their love of zels and boys. They stay away from the home as much as they can. In their absence their families tend to thrive under the subtle, clever manipulations of their women, who themselves add a special texture to this landscape of grasslands and zel herds and sprawling, wicker-fortified towns. They sing always; fashion jewellery from feathers and river-pearls; take time over the finer things in life.

One must beware their temptations however, in this land where it is still not unheard of for adulterers to be stoned to death.

Brule

Brule

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy.

RELIGION: Mann

TEMPERAMENT: Exploitative, Friendly, Ambitious, Proud.

REMARKS: A subject of the empire though not a part of the inner republic. Brule instead is ruled by the heavy hand of its ruling Mannian family, the Uln-wei. Since its conquest, Brule has become a highly sophisticated economic free-for-all, its capital city a scramble of a place where ships carry off settlers and trade, and in the marketplaces the air sparkles with the silver coins being hurriedly tossed in exchange for goods.

High Pash

High Pash

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann, Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Relaxed, Easy-Going, Solid, Traditional.

REMARKS: The highest land mass in the 'known world'. The air is thin in the mountains of the High Pash. The people are scrawny and tough like the sparse vegetation that grows here. A strange other-worldly mood prevails in these high settlements clinging to the misty slopes and valleys.

Unfortunately, attempts to travel further into the interior were thwarted by bandit attacks and flash floods that swept away the roads. More travels are pending.

Zanzahar

Zanzahar

ADMINISTRATION: Monarchy; The House of Sharat.

RELIGION: Shanii

TEMPERAMENT: Polite, Gregarious, Forthright, Cosmopolitan.

REMARKS: Like the rest of the desert people of the Caliphate, the citizens of the capital city of Zanzahar worship the Blessed Prophet Zabrihm, who taught that their God is love and that self is a delusion within 'The All'. The people of Zanzahar are more worldly in their ways than those of the desert however. This is a pulsing, modern metropolis where innovation, trade, and cultural and intellectual exchange flourishes; a civilisation long enjoying its Golden Age.

Serat

Serat

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann and Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Suspicious of Strangers, Insular, Fair, Respectful.

REMARKS: They take great pride in not speaking Trade in Serat, which would appear to be a legacy of their old rivalry with Markesh. Unfortunately their traditional language is unintelligible to the outsider and impossible to learn. The people too are extraordinarily insular when in the presence of non-natives, a trait that has perhaps been intensified by the Mannian oppression here. In a way though, the precious nature in which they guard their ways makes these people even more fascinating to live with and to study.

Nathal

Nathal

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann and Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Noble, Proud, Stubborn.

REMARKS: Nathal fought hard against the Imperial invasion of its lands and people. Its fighters turned guerilla after Queen Hanno's defeat on the banks of the Toin, though the crucifixion of entire towns finally subdued this resistance. Nathal has simmered quietly under the heel of Mann ever since.

Some day these people will revolt, and they will do so in some style.

Tilana

Tilana

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann and Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Devout, Hostile to Non-Believers.

REMARKS: The people of Tilana have been twisted into a peculiar nature by the collision of two fanatical religions. First there is their old faith, which must be practised in secret now, and which involves the sacrifice of slaves to gods-in-the-wind and a dire mistreatment of women, whom they keep as cattle. And then there is Mann, which demands of them devotion to the self and the righteousness of power.

They are ugly for it.

Pathia

Pathia

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann and Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Relaxed, Realistic, Philosophical.

REMARKS: Before the Mannian conquest, Pathia's monarchy had grown rich through the nation's trade in Royal Milk, which is imported via sources in the Great Hush and then exported, at great profit, to Zanzahar and the rest of the world.

Pathia has always been the traditional enemy of neighbouring Khos, though during its conquest it was the city of Bar-Khos which opened its gates for the fleeing refugees.

Exploited and occupied, Pathia remains a nation of heavy Alhazii weed smokers, where some of the finest black is available on every street corner.

Cheem

Cheem

ADMINISTRATION: Tyranny; Beggar Kings.

RELIGION: Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Cracked, Wild.

REMARKS: Mostly mountainous with communities scattered around the rugged coastline. It is said that the Beggar Kings of Cheem are useful to the empire, and so they are allowed to continue their reign of the fortress island even while their fleets of reavers plunder Mannian shipping lines. In sound Mannian fashion - it is also said - the Order considers it a more efficient practice to secretly tax these spoils rather than expend resources in stopping them. It is suspected too that the empire calls on the reaver fleets to make black-flag attacks upon their enemies.

Cheem Port is the only city on the island. It is mostly famed for its alley-courtesans, who are clad in nothing more than luminous skin-paints and are as skilled as any Mannian Sentiate, though not as costly.

Lagos

Lagos

The people of Lagos are gone now. After their failed uprising the empire set about massacring the entire population. By most accounts only a few thousand were able to flee.

A crime beyond imagination this.

The Green Isles

The Green Isles

ADMINISTRATION: Ideological Plutarchy; Order of Mann.

RELIGION: Mann and Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Passionate, Hardy, Proud.

REMARKS: 'Island of a Thousand Gods.' They say the people of the Green Isles have a god for everything, and then two more for good measure. Though you hear it said less often now, for in reality the number of gods has been dwindling since the occupation of Mann. The Green Isles fell early in the expansion of the empire. Before their conquest their choices were stark ones; surrender and live as slaves or face possible annihilation. It was to their final Winter Council, convened to discuss their fate, whom Nihilis addressed his now-famous words to:

'If you cry freedom, start praying to your fiercest gods.'

The Great Hush

The Great Hush

Travels still pending.

The Lost Coast

The Lost Coast

Travels still pending.

The High Char

The High Char

No-one lives in the High Char, no man nor beast save for the slaves of the Holy Empire working themselves to death in the salt-plains of this high, desperate plateau.

Travels still pending.

The Sea of Doubts

The Sea of Doubts

The route to the Isles of Sky and passage to the Eastern World. Remarkable only in that there are no islands in the sea save for carnivorous ones - the thousands-of-year-old Hoarii, which devour the living mass upon them when they finally, fatefully sink into the depths.

The storms can be fierce here, the winds funnelled by the mountain ranges on either coastline and narrowing murderously towards the Strait of Bairat. Waves reach ridiculous proportions. More ships are lost here than anywhere else in the world. Beware.

Sister of Longing

Sister of Longing

The Water Moon. Contemporary details unknown.

Northern Steppes

Northern Steppes

ADMINISTRATION: Tribal Councils/Tutelage of Mann.

RELIGION: Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Good-natured, Tricky, Readily-Hostile.

REMARKS: 'Strange beasts these northerners,' were the only words my wagon companion had to say to me on the first day of our travels across the steppe. A little snobbish of him, I thought at the time. Yet two weeks later we were in total agreement.

The Holy Empire of Mann

The Holy Empire of Mann

Founded by an urban religious cult whose creed is the worship of the 'divine flesh', or the naked power of the self and its deepest animal desires, above all else. An ideology of self-interest, power and wealth wrapped in the trappings of ritual.

Half a century ago and following years of effective shadow-play, the cult of Mann overthrew the monarchy of Q'os in a coup known as the 'Longest Night'. Its leader, who called himself Nihilis (he was never to reveal his real name), became the First Holy Patriarch, while the cult transformed itself into an official state religion/ideology run by a fanatical priestly elite. Since then, this revolutionary Order of Mann has launched a major industrial effort whilst carving out an empire for itself spanning most of the 'known world'- within which the creed of Mann is the only one permissible.

The Mercian Free Ports

The Mercian Free Ports

Over a century has passed since popular revolution flared across the islands like wildfire and deposed the first High King, along with the nobility class when they tried to assume his place during the Years of the Sword.

Since that time, the islands of Mercia have existed as a 'Democras', or 'people without rulers.' Each island follows its own variation and ways, yet they are united in a common front known as the League of Free Ports, a federation through which their confidence has grown only stronger over the decades.

How long this condition can last however is uncertain. The Free Ports stand largely alone in their defiance of the Holy Empire of Mann. Besieged by this imperial berserker, their future looks bleak.

The Alhazii Caliphate

The Alhazii Caliphate

Perhaps the great wealth and influence of the Caliphate can be explained by two simple words: 'black powder', the stuff that makes the guns go bang. Or perhaps it is four words, 'The Isles of Sky'?

To put it plainly, the Isles of Sky are the only location in the world where blackpowder can be procured, along with that great paraphernalia of 'exotics' deemed highly profitable back in the Heart of the World. And it is only the ruling House of Sharat and the chartered trading guilds of Zanzahar who know how to find them.

Such is the simplicity of the Alhazii monopoly over the rest of the world.

The Inner Isles

The Inner Isles

ADMINISTRATION: Democras; People's Assemblies.

RELIGION: Old Ways.

TEMPERAMENT: Dour, Uptight, Suspicious of Strangers.

REMARKS: A remarkable necklace of islands in the beautiful green shallows of the Sargassi Sea, mostly famed for the prevalence of the gigantic coral trees found in the waters of the region. Surprisingly good wines here. Shame though about the people.

Site: Black Crow Valley