Harkia - The Land of War Mar 4, 2019 15:37:49 GMT
Post by WildlingKing on Mar 4, 2019 15:37:49 GMT
Harkia – The Land of War
Much of Harkia’s early history is shrouded in mystery. However, it is known that dozens of distinct tribes inhabited the rugged land, quarreling for control of the fertile river valleys and coastal plains. Where the history of Harkia is usually seen to truly begin is the series of conflicts known as the Red Wars, which spanned from around 1680 to 1615 BFK. In these wars the tribe known as Harki vanquished their rival tribes one by one in brutal wars, enslaving thousands of their defeated enemies. The Harkians were led by the Red Kings, who in these times were more warlords than actual monarchs. This bloody and chaotic foundation shaped the Harkian culture and society, in which war was seen as holy and elite warriors were the highest class of citizens, their supreme commander being the Red King. The earliest Red King whose name still lives on today is Harzaw the Fury of Gods, who is believed to have been the king who ended the Red Wars. However, there is very little solid information about Harzaw, the folklore stories about his heroic deeds probably being more legend than history. Regardless, the first dynasty of the Red Kings is remembered as the Harzawian Dynasty. The Harzawian kings are remembered for their violent and relentless incursions to Gazyra and Abara.
The fifth and last king of the Harzawian Dynasty was Zartawata II, who reigned from 1537 to 1515 BFK. Throughout his reign he attempted to conquer Abara three times, failing each time and dying on the battlefield during the third attempt. Zartawata’s heir Walisra was seen as weak and ill-equipped to command the Harkian armies, which is why he was killed in a coup before being crowned. This was followed by a brief civil war, which culminated in a warrior named Askawa the Axeman being crowned as the new Red King, starting the Askawan Dynasty.
The Askawan Dynasty was a long-lived line of rulers, lasting all the way to 892 BFK. The Askawan kings favored polygamy, some of them having as many as twelve wives. The rationale for this was to secure that every king would have at least one capable male heir. The royal boys deemed unfit to either rule as a king or serve as a warrior were often coldly murdered at an early age, whereas royal daughters were either married off to sons of high-ranking warriors or gifted to foreign royalty in attempt to improve diplomatic relations. Nonetheless, the Askawan Dynasty is remembered as the golden age of Harkian civilization, during which their capital Haresa grew to a size rivalling even the great cities of Gazyra and Abara, and their territory was expanded to Hilya and Caparia by conquest. Despite still occasionally waging war with them the Askawan rulers also greatly improved Harkia’s trade and diplomatic relations with their neighboring kingdoms. This also resulted in some cultural influences from both Abara and Gazyra spreading to Harkia. Among the most famed Askawan Red Kings are Usharta the Scarred, who reigned from 1465 to 1444 BFK and personally lead dozens of successful and lucrative raids to Lekeia; Arawa the Fearless, who reigned from 1419 to 1390 BFK and conquered Hilya; Huzura Redhand, who reigned from 1358 to 1332 BFK and conquered Caparia; Usharta III, who reigned from 1309 to 1288 BFK and built a massive fleet for a failed attempt to conquer Kyrea; and Pahar the Old, who reigned from 1202 to 1157 BFK and was the first Harkian king to peacefully visit both Gazyra and Abara.
During the 10th century BFK the Askawan Dynasty begun to succumb into constant internal conflicts, including several political assassinations and threats of war. This finally culminated in Harkia breaking into an outright civil war in 898 BFK between two brothers Hastali and Hazuri, who both saw themselves as the rightful Red King. Their bloody and destructive conflict lasted all the way to the summer of 892 BFK, when both Hastali and Hazuri died in what is remembered now as the Battle of Brothers. This was followed by a great council held in Haresa, in which the couple dozen most high-ranking warriors of Harkia gathered to choose a new Red King amongst themselves. After days of fruitless debating it was decided that the new king would be chosen by a single combat between two famous warriors - Garala the Giant who had been a lieutenant of Hastali, against Kuzar the Proud who had been a lieutenant of Hazuri. The fight is told to have been brutal and long, but in the end Garala slayed Kuzar, and was thus made the first Red King of the Garalan Dynasty.
The Red Kings of the Garalan Dynasty went to great lengths to return stability to the Kingdom of Harkia, as well as to once again direct its military efforts to wage war against their neighbors. However, the dynasty was rather short-lived, its fourth and last king Temehar the Young dying without heir in 827 BFK during a military campaign in Achia. This led to another brief civil war, which concluded in the formation of the Red Council – a council of 30 nobles with the task and duty to elect the new Red King when the old one dies. This new system brought stability to the succession periods, but it also shifted away much of the power from the Red King, who now shared his authority with the Red Council. The reputation of the Harkians as great warriors and violent invaders remained, but in the centuries following the formation of Red Council the Kingdom of Harkia became much more passive than before, rarely attempting to conquer neighboring lands anymore. Instead, the militaristic efforts of the kingdom went mostly to suppressing rebellions within their own borders.
When the Gazyran God-King Rahar Bloodspear marched to conquer Harkia in 154 BFK he faced a kingdom weakened by centuries of stagnation. Despite that, the Harkians did put up a good fight, and it took Rahar eight years to conquer the land. The last Red King Daraka the Radiant died in battle during the last year of the war, and when the Gazyrans took Haresa most of the Red Council were either murdered or had to exile themselves, with the exception of the few that pledged their allegiance to the God-King. The Gazyrans were a merciless occupier in Harkia, removing most of the local folk from all positions of power and replacing them with Gazyran nobles, as well as greedily exploiting the resources of the land for the benefit of their homeland. However, Harkians did not bend easily, and rebellions against the Gazyrans were constant. In the end, it was a band of Harkian rebels who in 105 BFK ambushed and killed the God-King Ufar on the road from Abara to Harkia, consequently bringing down the Gazyran Hegemony.
Sadly of course, this did not spell any better times for Harkia. During the Age of Collapse the land succumbed into continuous internal conflicts between dozens of pretender kings, while the coasts were invaded and heavily raided by Hykyran warbands. It was a bloody and chaotic time which saw Harkia’s population decreasing massively, driving them into a dark age of poverty and quarreling warlords. No successful reformation of the Kingdom of Harkia came in the centuries following the Age of Collapse, despite numerous pretenders claiming the title of Red King and attempting to forge Harkia into one with war as their ancestors had done nearly two-thousand years ago.
When the Barvian King Syreda the Strong marched to conquer Harkia in 498 AFK, he was surprised by how easily this “Land of War” he had studied so much about was defeated. While the warrior culture was still very much intact, Harkia was so divided and poor that it stood no chance against the imperial armies of Barvia. However, Harkia has not proved to be as easy to control as it was to conquer. There have been numerous rebellions against the Barvian rule, and to this day there are parts of the land where the words of separatist warlords hold more weight than the Barvian law.
Religion and Culture
The Harkians had their own religion and mythology during the Lost Age. However, it was never really an institutionalized part of their culture or society, with the worship of gods seen more as a personal affair rather than a communal one. There was also no clergy or temples for Harkian gods, instead each person carried an idol of their chosen patron deity and used it to pray whenever needed. Only in some special occasions larger rituals or sacrifices for the gods were made. Due to this lack of institutionalization or canonization of religion a lot of different deities were freely worshiped in Harkia, so much that their pantheon was elsewhere referred to as the “Thousand Gods of Harkia”. Harkians were also eager to adopt deities from other cultures. The closest thing to priesthood that the Harkians had were so called godspeakers, who were believed to have been blessed by the gods. These godspeakers included prophets, healers and all kinds of sorcerers. However, some practitioners of magic were also shunned, especially ones using necromancy or mind manipulation.
After the Barvian conquest Mafanarism has slowly become the prevalent religion in Harkia, with new temples being built to the cities and Barvian clergy preaching the lessons of the Great Spirit to the local population. However, some active cults for the old Harkian gods still remain on the more remote parts of the land.
In general Harkian culture is one that favors strength above all else, which can be seen in many aspects of its society. Being a warrior has always been the most respected profession for a Harkian man, and this still holds true. However, instead of fighting in the armies of the Red King like their ancestors, Harkian warriors of today have three major career paths to choose from: One, enlist to the imperial army; two, make a career as a mercenary; or three, join one of the rebel factions led by local warlords.
It should also be noted that Harkia has traditionally had an extremely patriarchal culture, with women being reduced mostly just to the role of birth givers and caretakers, having little more rights than a slave has. The Barvian culture and laws have curbed this somewhat, but the old social norms still hold sway in most of Harkia.
Constitution and Economy
At the head of the provincial government of Harkia is its imperial satrap, appointed by the emperor. Satrap serves for life, or until retiring or being resigned by the emperor. Satrap’s primary duty is to enforce the Barvian imperial law in the province, as well as to collect and direct a yearly sum of tax revenue back to the emperor. Due to the conflict sensitive nature of the province, the Satraps of Harkia have traditionally been experienced military officers.
Harkia is divided into five districts, four of them being locally governed by imperial overseers appointed by the satrap, and one directly by the satrap. Each district capital also has its own elected council, which works in cooperation with the imperial overseer. These councils may for example make legislative or economical proposals, but to be put to action these proposals must be approved first by the overseer, then the satrap, and in some cases even the emperor. The satrap and the overseers also hold all the authority when it comes to the imperial armed forces of the province.
The Harkian backlash to this stranglehold of Barvian rule has come in the form of separatist warlords, who make their bases in old forts of rural regions that they control with iron fist. Many Harkians are sympathetic to the cause and ideals of independence that these warlords hold. However, an increasing amount of people have also begun to see them as no better than common bandits, considering their methods more violent and tyrannical than those of the Barvian occupiers.
During the Lost Age farming and hard labor in Harkia were mostly left for the slaves, who were primarily prisoners of war, while free men worked as soldiers or artisans. However, the Age of Collapse brought down this system, and ever since then slavery has been much less prevalent in Harkia. The wealthy can still afford to buy slaves from foreign slave traders, but the majority of Harkian landowners for example now farm their own land or hire farmhands.
When it comes to economy Harkia is mostly self-sufficient. The province’s agriculture produces enough crops and livestock to feed its own population, but it is by no means a breadbasket in a larger frame of the empire. Harkia also has its iron and copper mines, but they aren’t a great source of wealth either. Overall, Harkia is one of the poorer provinces of the Barvian Empire.
Efesa is the provincial capital of Harkia, located on the coast of the Purple Sea. With a population of around 150 000 it is also the largest city in the province. The city was originally established as a trade port during the Askawan Dynasty around 1300 BFK. Being the center of trade in Harkia, Efesa is by far the wealthiest of its cities, as well as the most culturally diverse. It has a large Barvian population, Mafanarism is the dominant religion, and there are notable cultural influences not only from Barvia but also Balaria, Gazyra and the Herian world. Overall, Efesa is clearly the center of power and culture in today’s Harkia, though there are some Harkians who discard it as the home of Barvian tyrants and their bootlickers.
Haresa is the ancient capital of Harkia, as well as one of its district capitals, built atop a large mesa near the river Harha. Haresa was first established as a royal citadel during the Harzawian Dynasty around early 16th century BFK, and over time a great city raised around it. During the Lost Age it was one of the greatest cities of the world, but its decline begun during the Gazyran Hegemony, and intensified during the Age of Collapse when its wealth and population decreased heavily, leaving the city a shadow of its former self. Today Haresa has a population of around 40 000, making it the third largest city of Harkia. The city has a clear Harkian majority population, but there is still a strong imperial presence, because Haresa acts as a base of operations for Barvian military in the province.
Milea is a port city slightly east from the Straits of Hilya, as well as one of Harkia’s district capitals. With a population of around 70 000 it is the second largest of the Harkian cities today. Much like Efesa, Milea was established during the Askawan Dynasty around 1300 BFK. However, instead of a trade port its primary purpose was to be a military outpost for the Harkian fleet. During the Age of Collapse Milea was captured and held by Hykyran warlords for a long time, and some Hykyran influences still remain in the city. Today the city acts as a base for one of the many imperial warfleets, and it has a relatively busy trade towards west.
Anhyra is a city near the eastern border of Harkia, and one of the district capitals of the province. The city gained prominence during the Gazyran Hegemony, when Gazyran migrants turned what had before been a minor town into one of the largest cities in Harkia. Today it has a population of little under 40 000, making it the fourth largest city of the province. And to this day the Gazyran heritage and cultural influence is distinctly visible in Anhyra, even if Mafanarism has become the prevalent religion in the city after the Barvian conquest. Worship of Gazyran deities still remains fairly common however, even if Anhyrans haven’t recognized the religious authority of the nine High Priests back in Gazyra for a long time. During the Age of Collapse and the centuries following it Anhyra was an independent city-state, as well as one of the more stable political powers in the region. It was also by far the greatest challenge Syreda the Strong faced in his conquest of Harkia. Today Anhyra is a kind of staging post between the provinces of Harkia and Gazyra.
Climate, Landscape and Wildlife
Harkia is a rugged and mountainous land, with a mostly hot and dry climate. Its river valleys and coastal plains offer some fertile patches of land suited for cultivating crops, but the Harkian people also largely rely on additional sources of nourishment such as herding, hunting and fishing.
Harkian wildlife is quite diverse, especially on the highland regions, including ibexes, deer, boars, eagles, hawks, wolves, hyenas, lions and leopards. However, the most infamous of all the beasts in Harkia is the species of wyverns that live high in its mountains, commonly known as the Harkian Blackwings. These wyverns have black scales and hunt at night, which is why they are rarely actually seen by humans, but they have a fearsome reputation nonetheless. With a wingspan of around 25 feet the Harkian Blackwing is actually one of the smaller species of wyvern in the world, but in the hierarchy of Harkian beasts it is the unrivaled king.