Ibarran

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Ibarran was a land that had been rife with internal struggle for nearly as long as it had been recognisably a civilised nation. Between bloody coups against the standing autocracy and take-over and revolutions against Sahradian occupation, the Ibarrish are a people as hardy and rugged as the dry and arid lands that make up their domain. By the time the Legion came to Ibarran, they and Andermark were the last standing nations of the Realm. The sparsely spread pockets of civilisation around Ibarran damned the nation to falling, giving them no ground to stand against the coming armies, but worked in the favour of anyone fleeing the lands to Andermark.

History

A Nation Born of Fracture

Ibarran's history is full of bloodshed and war. Finding itself as the closest of the kingdoms of the Realm to the Caliphate of Sahradia, the two countries were fierce enemies, seeing conflicts and occupations on both sides right the way through history. Even when Sahradia was nothing but a minor inconvenience to the Realm at large, there would be continuous territorial battles over the land itself and over the Sahradian harassment of the Ibarrish shipping routes.

Originally, a great portion of the Narrow Sea's coast was under Calavrian occupation, not Ibarrish. Roughly eight hundred years before the Fall, Ibarran was a small corner of the Realm. There had been wars against the Calavrian invaders, but because Calavria stood above other clan-based nations in their unity and advanced perspective on warfare, the Ibarrish had very little opportunity to defend themselves, and less opportunity to take back their land. The Ibarrish population within Calavrian lands soon saw acculturation, integration and assimilation into Calavrian walks of life. The population of Ibarran, however, was widespread over vast distances, and that allowed for a certain degree of division. As Calavrian methods started to infringe the border, unrest was seeding in Ibarran.

The Ibarrish Revolution

What began the initial revolution was the gradual weakening of the Calavrian Empire, which sparked within Ibarran a coup d'état against the Calavrian-instituted king, King Haitrus. The Ibarrish nobility were little more than former peasantry that had been elevated by Calavrian lords more due to favoritism than by any actual rights, and the peasantry that were left saw opportunity in the weakening of the Calavrian state. For them it was a deadly cycle, the times offering them the opportunity to take back Ibarrish soil with the anti-monarchists using Calavria's fall and the success of the revolutionaries to spur on anti-monarchist sentiments. It was these times, with a state of near-constant warfare diminishing the supplies of the land, that the Ibarriard mentality of making do with what you've got came about. The Ibarriards were so ardent in their belief of freedom from Calavrian reign that working households that supported the revolutionaries generally donated two thirds of produce to the cause. What was left was split between family upkeep or for trade.

The Seige of Sammeth, also known as the Twenty Day Siege, saw revolutionaries besieging the then capital, Sammeth. Conspirators within the city's militia let the revolutionaries into the palace gardens with the intent of killing the king and prince who were in attendance, intending to attack them whilst they enjoyed the gardens in the evening. They murdered the young prince, but the king escaped their grasp and as the palace locked down the revolutionaries were fired upon from above by archers. Turning events in their favour, the revolutionaries rode through the streets and rallied any sympathisers from their homes. Anti-monarchists from within the city rallied at the palace gates with wagons and barrels and began to blockade all of the palace entrances, nailing the doors shut and attacking any that tried to stop them. The palace guard were overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and their bodies were strewn against the blockades in a macabre warning to any others that tried to stop them. The prince's body was beheaded and the head was set upon a spike above the doors to the palace, just below where the architects had long ago carved the royal family's motto of ecurior quo paratior, 'the better prepared, the more secure'.

Over the next eighteen days, the revolutionaries kept the royals and their guard locked within the palace, intending to starve them unless they abolished their alliance with Calavria and declared war on their neighbours. The king at first refused to make any such proclamation when forced by treasonous factions, but over the period of the next twenty days the imprisoned family and their envoy grew increasingly distressed by the perpetual ring of protesters keeping them prisoner in the estate. Servants and maids that tried to escape out of windows were more than likely spotted, pulled down and either offered a place amongst the revolutionaries or executed as traitors to Ibarran. Amongst them, there were very few who chose to give their life for the King.

On the nineteenth day of the siege, the Queen appeared on a balcony overlooking the front of the palace. She was naked save for a single long, black silk scarf, looked ill with fatigue, and paced back and forth whilst clutching her stomach. The revolutionaries hurled rocks at her, and one caught her in the chin. Bleeding from her mouth, she stood on the rail of the balcony, spread her hands and shouted 'may not the king's blood live forever' before stepping out and falling to her death on the steps below. The next day, the doors were opened by palace staff that had been won over to the anti-royalist mentality. The riotous crowd clamoured over their barricades and set about searching for the king in the palace, only to find him in his bed chamber, his daughter in his arms, having pitched the two of them on a sword together.

A council of influential revolutionaries was formed. They took command of a military bolstered by the fall of their monarchy. The old regime of Calavria was collapsing, the spirits of the Calavrian defenders no doubt the apparent ease of their defeat by an enemy without a monarch. Yet, even when the Calavrian territories were drawn back to the River Venturi and the lands of Ibarran were fully restored, a new problem came to light: the uncertainty of rulership.

The Rise of Democracy

Within three months the council had elected their first ruler, Lord Rolan of Miragonna, working under the pretence that every four years a new Lord would be elected to the position of head of state. Lord Rolan’s first and primary objective was to see to the people of Ibarran. He took an entourage and visited every city and nearby towns to witness the damage of the revolution, then used of his own savings to finance transport for masonry and lumber to where it was needed. ‘I would sooner bankrupt myself,’ he said, ‘than see a wounded Ibarran.’

His words were more-or-less true. Come the period of his re-election, Rolan had invested a great deal of his personal finances into rejuvenating Ibarran. He continued to do so even after his second period as head of state, and he remained a prominent philanthropist for the remainder of his life even when he no longer sat on the council, eschewing all of his personal wealth to live as a pauper. It’s his words that are to this day the motto of Ibarran: ‘Our land above all else.’

Rolan was not an idyllic leader, however. As the heads of state after him would find, Rolan had begin to plant seeds of discontent between Ibarran and the goblins of Sahradia. He demanded that Sahradian imports be bought at a fraction of their cost both to save coin for Ibarrish expenditure and to allow greater amounts of Sahradian wears to be bought for the Ibarrish people. This had not been done lightly, and in fact Rolan had caused several offenses to the Sahradians in that time. Over the centuries to come, as new heads of senate took to Ibarran’s helm, relationships with the goblins got worse and worse. Anecdotally, it is said that Lord Edelmar, when being visited by a Sahradian ambassador, sat the goblin down in the council building and made him watch as every other petty case from local serfs and peasants was brought in and dealt with, stopping when the Sahradian ambassador shrieked his outrage only to inform the goblin that he would have to join the back of the queue.

The Heritage Tax

It was two-hundred-and-thirteen years after the formation of the council that Lord Edelmar ruled and, when he died died suddenly in his sleep with only six months left to serve as head of state another councilman, Chrisden Cortez, was sworn in his place temporarily. Within a week of Cortez’s rule certain councillors began to question his intent. Cortez had numerous friends elsewhere within the council who seemed willing to back his more radical decrees, and apparently he had enough influence to apply pressure to those he didn’t have in his pocket. When the time came for re-election, Cortez was reinstated as the head of state. Other councillors had identified Cortez’s power block and were content in stripping his power down from the shadows, buying support from trading families who would up the price of their wares and seed discontent amongst the serfs towards the taxes so they might back Cortez in a corner financially. Had they been left to their politicking, this might well have worked.

General Amadis Pasha, however, believed strongly that the council was going to collapse in its own power much as the Calavrian senate did all those years ago and was not willing to wait quietly whilst Cortez finalised the increasing corruption of the council. After two years of enduring the same game that the other senate members were playing, Pasha’s met the end of his patience when Cortez decided on levying a tax on families that had Calavrian blood in them – The Heritage Tax. Pasha was outraged more than any other of the senate members as he himself had taken a Calavrian wife. Pasha’s disquiet was matched by many other Ibarrish that had Calavrian family members. The tax actually saw households screened by Ibarrish militia for the tone of their skin and hair colour.

It is needless to say that this fractured Ibarran once again. As Pasha announced his protest and began gathering forces to challenge Cortez’s rule, families with Calavrian descent refused to pay the taxes. The efforts of the council to back Cortez in a corner by tightening the economy fostered a violent grudge between Ibarrish and Calavrian families, the former blaming the latter for the meagre funds with which they could barely afford food and clothing. These accusations often went further. Extremist thinking pinned bad harvests and poor rainfall on the bad omen of allowing a Calavrian as your neighbour.

Some of the councilmen saw Pasha’s gathering of a new revolution and realised that it was not just Cortez ‘s seat of power that was at risk. By backing the Heritage Tax they had fostered the bloody atmosphere Ibarran was suffering, and Pasha had openly named them his enemies. The Ibarrish military had seen almost a third abandon their posts and join Pasha’s forces, and whilst the peasants’ response had been generally bilious towards the Calavrians, most of them were wise enough to recognise that Cortez was also in some way responsible for the state of the economy.

The next six years saw a multitude of conflicts, of which Pasha and his men were only behind two. Civil disputes happened regularly. When the Great Pestilence came, Calvrian-hostile civilians declared that the Calavrians that were suffering it were getting their dues from the gods. When an Ibarriard suffered it, it was because of the dirty Calavrians polluting not only good Ibarrish bloodlines but the very water they drank. Meanwhile, Pasha and his forces had retreated to the west, to the city of Santhiago.

The Sahradian Occupation

In light of General Pasha’s retreat, Cortez realised that any army he could muster would have to cross a great deal of territory held by loyalists to Pasha. Not wanting to allow Pasha the opportunity to regroup and fortify, Cortez acted quickly, appealing to the goblins of Sahradia to lend aid. The caliph answered and sent a force of Sahradian vessels to assault the coastal town of Santhiago. Whilst Santhiago was held under siege, Cortez’s forces moved south-west to meet with the Sahradians. Santhiago was not long in falling to the combined forces of Cortez and the Sahradian goblins. A coalition between the Sahradians and the Ibarrish court saw the beginning of goblin occupation, presented by Cortez as an answer to the economic strain that Ibarran had seen over recent years.

During the early years of the Sahradian occupation United Church was formed within Andermark and missionaries had taken to spreading the word of the church across various nations. The war-weary peasants of Ibarran proved to be fine targets, particularly those that were still in dire straits after Cortez’s unwieldy taxes, or those that took issue to the fact that Cortez was willing to purge Calavrian blood from his nation but saw him as all-too willing to bend the knee to a goblin sultan. The United Church declared the goblin gods Amirr and Isall as heathen gods that should be abhorred and that tolerance of the goblin infidels was what brought about the Great Pestilence. A devoutly religious people, those civilians of Ibarran that found their worship enveloped into the United Church were easily won over by this way of thinking. Particularly in northern Ibarran, resentment towards the sultan grew.

On the death of the sultan with no named successor for Ibarran, the nation was split into seven sultanates between his seven sons. Between them, the goblin sons were ill-equipped to deal to rule over a fraction of Ibarran, let alone collectively as a whole. For instance, one of the western sultanates was neglected as that son spent most time overseas in Sahradia. After a marital dispute between two of the brothers, Santhiago was announced the nation's capital, causing a rivalry between the Santhiago sultanate and the Sammeth sultanate. There was a resurgence in the east of anti-Calavrian attitudes that saw some violent border conflicts, which the local sultan answered with a death sentence, putting thirty-eight men to the noose.

The Liberation and the Crusades

The chaos that this atmosphere fostered was all that was needed for the United Church to enact their retaking of Ibarran. The Liberation took seven years all-in-all, with paladins from Damryn, Andermark, Lancereaux and Calavria alike moving in to reclaim the lands for the Realm. These seven years would become the bedrock of the Sahradian Crusades, the blazing trail the United Church cut down through Ibarran leading the way for further conflicts against the heathen goblin pantheon.

The seven sultanates were each taken over by seven Ibarrish dukes, lords that were local to each area and best knew the tribulations of their people. They would convene at the Cortes of Santhiago, where the Archduke sat. Santhiago became the capital as the Duke of Sammeth saw only female heirs, and over the coming centuries Ibarran saw numerous Archdukes that were capable enough to dismiss the Ibarrish fears of a single leader, fostered a respectful foreign policy with the Realm, and each of them devout and passionate followers of the United Church that sought their overseas enemies on Sahradia destroyed.

The Saharadian Crusades were fought over a period of two-hundred years, not including the numerous isolated conflicts and various declines and resurgences, with numerous territories taken and won back by both sides. In this beginning of this period Ibarran was quick to use the sudden increase of trade from crusaders travelling to Santhiago to strengthen their relationship with Damryn and fully inaugurate themselves as a worthwhile member of the Realm. With the Sahradian Crusades were ongoing by the time of the Fall, Ibarran’s economy flourished under the attention of the passing nights. This bolstered economy was almost unnoticed within the more rural areas of Ibarran, rather more centralised around the coastal cities such as Santhiago. With the boost in mercantile trade and sea-travel, Santhiago quickly became a prosperous staging ground and an important trade-hub

Since taking the seat of Archduke, Joaquim Tejadasaw from strength to strength. He proved to be a shrewd economist and an excellent public speaker, the only weakness Joaquim ever displayed was that of his love for women. He was a known charmer in various courts, said to have a velvet tongue (in every way applicable), and sired bastards to no less than thirteen different women.

Even the family of the Archduke meant less to him that the prosperity of Ibarran, however. There was only one revolution against him, a small affair that saw one of his youngest sons taken hostage and Joaquim told that his boy would be put to death if he didn’t surrender power, to which Joaquim told the boy’s captor: ‘Then you must kill him. I did not bring a boy into the world at the price of Ibarran’s freedom.’ The boy was killed but the revolution was crushed, and no-one dared try afterwards.

The Fall

The Fall to many Ibarrish was seen as the greatest trials that the world could have possibly given them. The Ibarrish forces, compiling of the men-at-arms and trained bands of varios Dons, mustered caballeros and crusaders that were yet to set sail to Sahradia, moved to Lancereaux to aid in the defence of their neighbours. The Legion were for a long period not seein in Ibarran, which only caused paranoia in the Ibarrish: it must only be a matter of time, after all.

It was this paranoia that saw the Ibarrish generals pull their forces out of Lancereaux. Believing the enemy had been sighted at home the Ibarrish numbers depleted rapidly, leaving the Lancesians spreading their forces, as well as Damryn’s and Andermark’s, all too thin. To these nations, the withdrawal of the Ibarrish is seen as one of the reasons why Lancereaux ultimately fell.

Ibarran fell without grace, gaining no aid from Lancereaux or Andermark as their own losing battle occupied their attention. The widespread nature of the settlements of Ibarran allowed the Ibarrish to adopt tactics that best suited them, guerrilla warfare. Light cavalry and mounted archers harassed the slow-moving army, which under the harsh climate began to show its first signs of faltering. Although victory was unlikely, it might have been possible for them to keep the Legion occupied enough for Damryn to rally.

Unfortunately, this was not so, and coupled with an opportunistic strike by the goblins at Santhiago, the fall of Ibarran was a dead certainty. The forces of Ibarran were split to defend against two fronts, the Legion rallied its forces, and, distinctly less harried than before, swarmed across the peninsular. Archduke Joaquim Tejadasaw is reported to have last been seen sealing the doors to his palace in Santhiago and is presumed dead.

Cultural Overview

Before the Fall

Ibarran was a sparse, sandy land at the southern-most point of the Realm. The semiarid climate meant that the large tracts of territory that were all but uninhabitable were broken up sporadically by verdant, rich pastures. It is for this reason that whilst Iberran is one of the largest nations, the population is low for its size, but by no means lacking in its agriculture.

The separated nature of the country meant that, although the Archduke ruled the kingdom from within the walls of the white city of Santhiago, he had to place his trust in the regional lords, the Dons, to supervise their fiefdoms and keep them healthy, loyal, and well-defended. Ibarriards were a heavily community-based people. The rough terrain, hot days and cold nights and the often huge distance between townships fostered an atmosphere where villages depended heavily on one-another and their local Don. In light of this the Ibarriards put a great deal of stock into celebrations and festivals throughout the year in order to keep up local spirits and remain thankful for the little things.

The community’s vested interest in itself has lead to a fairly insular mentality within the Ibarrish. Multiple sayings that have their origins from Ibarrad revolve around the notion of being careful who you trust and looking after yourself and your family above all others. This has always been the way, through the occupation of Calavria, the revolutions that Ibarran to its goblin occupation and even beyond to the reconquest and the Crusades: if anything, as the years went on, these mentalities became more hardened. Even with the influx of paladins of the Holy Church seeking victory over the heathens overseas, usually worshippers of the same gods as they followed, the Ibarrish remained at least wary on a background level of the Crusaders. A lot of villages saw their able-bodied men depleted as fathers and sons went to war, or saw those strange knights sleeping in their barns on the way down to the Santhiago staging grounds. The image of a knight was not entirely unromanticised, however: songs and bard tales flourished in Ibarran about knights saving an Ibarrish beauty, or remaining stalwart in battle as they were spurred on by her mere memony. Since the Crusades there has been a great deal more children wanting to pursue the avenue of a caballeros, a type of knight-errant.

Women in Ibarran are treated a little better than they are in the rest of the Realm. The self-sufficiency of most of the townships means that the contributions of women are both necessary and important. Whilst they are not expected to be warriors, there is a common tradition of their involvement in smiting, fletching, horse-rearing, and other tasks integral to both daily life and to warfare. In light of the fact that the defence of a family’s home couldn’t be a man’s duty, as his days were spent working to support the family, so most every Ibarrish woman will know how to at least load and aim a crossbow.

The Ibarrish were generally a people that were content with their lot in life, believing that they were a part of some divine scheme and that they would be given all they need provided they showed faith where faith was due. In the years leading up to the fall they believed that every tribulation and hardship they found in the path of life was fated and that, if they persevered through it, they would be duly rewarded either here or within the Heavens. For that reason the farmers of the lands would continue to arduously till the land despite the dry and arid nature of the soil, masons would do all they could to secure transport of foreign stones to build with, carpenters would work with the harder woods of the southern trees.

The merchant class and trading with other countries flourished due to these very reasons, providing the pivotal transportation and redistribution of both Ibarrish-made goods and imported materials. A merchant could expect a fine life, provided they were prepared to rarely see one place in any number of days. Ibarran saw a great deal of innovation in regards to trade, usually seeing trading families and merchant families allied together in marriage to make the trading process as lucrative as possible. Families of this calibre likely lived in Ibarran’s cities.

After the Fall

In Andermark today, the Ibarriards can just as easily be treated with the utmost of respect as the most vehement of distrust. The ignorant can all-too easily pin the fall of Lancereaux on the Ibarrish withdrawal and has lead to the stigmatisation that they as a people are, if not outright cowards, then certainly more interested in their own affairs than that of the Realm. Others, however, are not so quick to dismiss the piety of the Ibarrish and that the manifestation of the gods at the Last Battle of Andermark might well have been due to the unwavering zealotry of people like the Ibarriards.

Regardless, the Ibarriards are a hard-working people and have arguably bounced back from the Fall better than any others. Most Ibarriards were quick to find themselves work within Starkholm after the dust had settled, taking the defeat of the Legion as signs that they had placed their faith well and that not all was lost. The Ibarrish mentality that faith would reward kept the Ibarriards together, but this optimistic outlook was seen as blind faith in the eyes of others.

The Ibarriards represent a sturdy and reliable workforces for the most part, as well as the more devout members of any church they swear themselves to. The more wiley Ibarriards have ended up either in the slums along with other thieves or vagabonds, or have had sufficient charisma and contacts to pull themselves into the reeling and ever-shifting higher echelons of Starkholm. It remains true of the Ibarriards, even in these days, that they don’t do things by half.

Don Luis Avalos sits on the king’s advisory council, but he has not been able to attend court for some time. Don Luis has not been seen outside of his family’s procured holdings and instead sends his wife, the Lady Basilla, in his place. There are rumours abound in court as to why Don Luis himself does not attend court, but these rumours are usually whispered in the most quiet of corners, as it is widely believed that Lady Basilla is an ardent follower of Ryniss.

Lifestyle

Peasant Class

Ibarrish peasantry knew the meaning of hard work. Most every profession was made more of a struggle due to the climate of Ibarran. For farmers, tilling the land was made difficult by the dry nature of the soil and even with oxen and horses to pull the plough the animals would tire quickly under the beating sun. Carpenters worked with harder southern woods from local trees. Masons would have to pay higher fees for more sturdy stone to be imported or have to work with local sandstones (though there was plenty of limestone and granite available for those that could afford it). The average Ibarriard peasant would spend most of the hours of their days baring holy days arduously plying their profession, be it ropemaking, cooping, fishing, glassblowing; and even then, the average Ibarriard knew that come the end of a good and productive day they would still only have just enough to feed their family.

This was in part due to the climate, meaning that agricultural produce was slightly harder to come by and had to be distributed wider than it would have been in other realms, but also in part due to the fact that Ibarrish families tended to be quite large. The Ibarrish boasted slightly longer lifespans than most humans and as such it wasn't uncommon up to three generations to be living under one roof at any given time. No-one had the opportunity to be a drain on their family's resources, however. Ibarrish peasants usually worked until the day they died, with women expected to keep up their duties around the home right the way through maternity and returning to them in a matter of days after giving birth.

Just as important to the Ibarrish families were their neighbours. Small townships and villages would have long tables stacked up by their houses to be brought out to the town square or a useful avenue come dinner time and the community would mostly eat together, bringing what they could to the table be it bread, olives, fish, cheeses, whatever they could afford. News would be spread around, tales of the day’s work, charming anecdotes about the inquisitive mind of children or collaborative rumour-milling (all done in good nature – except for when it wasn’t.)

The peasantry of Ibarran were generally content with their lot in lives. Life was a struggle, of course life was a struggle, and of course the higher classes had it easier. But barring a Duke’s son taking a fancy to a farmer’s daughter, there was no realistic way that a peasant would elevate beyond this station. This was, however, viewed to be the path that the gods had chosen to give them. An Ibarriard peasant would continue through their life fully content in the knowledge that heaven would see the respite that mortal life did not.


Merchant Class

An average Ibarrish merchant had a great deal of travelling to do, not all of it within friendly territory. Most of Ibarran’s merchants lived within coastal cities as travelling by sea was much easier than taking the roads up through the nation. Merchant vessels were expected to sail to as far as Andermark, Calavria to deal with their age-old enemies, and even to Sahradia, be it to human settlements on the lands or to minor goblin caliphates that were more interested in trade than war (of which there were two). Trade caravans did happen, but they were usually exclusive to trading within Ibarran.

It was rare, however, for a merchant to own his own ship. Ships and crews could be hired, usually charging a one-off fee for the voyage and a cut of the trade. It was not unheard of for multiple merchants to build a relationship with a single captain and share the vessel. Indeed, several of these relationships had been maintained through generations, so much so that they could collectively be seen as something of an enterprise. ‘Cadena & Carrasquil’ was a notable example of a family originally of blacksmiths working with two generations of merchant sailors, the Carrasquils owning five galleasses and the Cadenas having marital ties to various other craftsmen. The ‘C&C’ touchmark still denotes a master-crafted Ibarrish sword to this day.

The average merchant could expect a better life for both himself and his family, but at the cost of rarely seeing them. Whilst sometimes a merchant would take his new wife or eldest boy on the road, such excursions would only last until their first child was born or until the boy had learned enough of the trade to take it on himself. Merchant families mostly enjoyed sharing a city house with other merchant families or craftsmen whose work they sold. There would be a healthy rapport built up between these traders and craftsmen, the former making his trade almost exclusively for the latter to peddle.

One area of trade that flourished in Ibarran was glass. Panes of glass were sought-after fixtures for nobility across the Realms, and ornate glassware made for luxury gifts for those that could afford it. A merchant whose trade was selling and transporting glass could expect to live comfortably.

There were of course less municipal merchants. Within villages there might be only one merchant, or there might be a sole merchant for a local area who would make regular visits to towns. These merchants would buy produce from one community and take it to another. Such a lifestyle required a keen sense of bartering and economy. A bad harvest meant that one area might up the prices they charge for the furniture they make, for instance, and so it was wise for that merchant to instead visit a township that had a good harvest beforehand so they might have ample grain and vegetables to trade in the hopes of haggling down prices.

Across the board, a merchant needed to be shrewd and world-wise, and could expect a lonely life away from their family with only their crew or armed guard for company. Some of the more prestigious merchants of Ibarran were likely Dons.


Warrior Class

Caballeros were a type of knight-errant that originated within Ibarran, strictly devoted to the United Church (in particular Vaitera) that roamed freely around Ibarran lending their aid where they needed it. Caballeros were as honour-bound as any other knight, but due to their wandering nature they lived lives of squalor, taking only what they needed in return for their services and operating without the pursuit of wealth and riches. As the standard for the warrior class in Ibarran, the caballeros were generally as poor as a street begger. Quite often they would find themselves in good holdings, living under the roof of a family they might be lending aid to or looked after by a town that they happen to be staying within, but similarly a caballero had to be perfectly welcoming of knights under the stars without shelter or warmth. At the end of the day, however, a caballero's priorities were to keep their armour serviceable, to keep themselves and their horse healthy, and to pursue the word, the will and the honour of the gods.

There was no standing army in Ibarran. Towns and cities would have standing watchmen, and Dons would have a mixture of caballeros and men at arms at their disposal, and it would be these individuals that would be called on should war break out.


Noble Class

The Dons were the nobility of Ibarran, predominantly old money families that likely achieved their high-society status in one of Ibarran’s many conflicts, be it internal or external. The older Dons tended to be the fiercest and most conservative of the families, having held on to their prestigious lifestyles even through the various usurping of leaderships and upheavals. A good many families were persecuted as royalist sympathisers by the revolutionaries during the collapse of the monarchy, and again those were carried by the coattails of the caliphs under Sahradian occupation were met with much the same displeasure by the Crusaders.

A lot of the nobles families in Ibarran about the time of the Fall were young nobility for that very reason. They were likely supporters of the Dukes that now reign over Ibarran, rewarded for their loyalty with seats of influence and as luxurious a life as could be afforded for them. There were some old Dons still alive, however, who believed that the Dukedom of Ibarran was likely going to see fall just as the Caliphates did and much like the Monarchy did. It bred an acidic atmosphere within Ibarrish courts. The older Ibarriard Dons were wary that they had been fortunate to hold on to their wealth for this long, and knew it might be a matter of time before their good luck ran out. As such, they sought to keep the new nobility under tight control. The new blood, after all, had but a fraction of the wealth that //they// could boast, so it was only a matter of time before they tried to take it for themselves.

This wasn’t strictly as paranoid a mentality as it might come across. The new Dons //did// want the wealth to back up their positions and their influence. Their agendas weren’t always quite as self-serving as the old money, however. These were men and women that had fought for their country, and most wanted to ensure that their lands could be protected from future Sahradian threats, to invest in the local community for the sake of their local Duke, or simply to ensure their family had the security it needed in this venomous echelon of society.

The nobles of Ibarran were masters of waging a political war of words. They had to be, else they would lose everything. Every court saw prominent figures pursuing their agendas, every function was a boiling pot of whispers and rumour, every ball saw the shaky alliances between families dissolved and enemies embraced as old friends.

There is a saying in Ibarran: ‘Behind each noble man stands a woman holding up upright with one hand and whispering behind the other.’ Where men would attend courts with the brazen interests of his household to pursue, it would be his wife, his sons and his daughters who would do most of the scheming for him.

Arts and Entertainment

A lot of Ibarrish art predominately adorned walls, pottery and ceramics. Walls around towns and the sides of buildings were often decorated with murals and paintings of important individuals, scenes of legend and history, or abstract pieces of vibrant colours. Most households were whitewashed, but some particularly exposed and plain walls would find themselves subject to a local artist's attention. Similarly, if there were no black walls to be decorated, clay pots and plates would often be the subject of the artist's expression, often painting in immaculate detail to create paintings as beautiful as any put to canvas.

What is striking of Ibarrish art and architecture is how much Sahradian influence it underwent. During the goblin occupation Ibarrish art became much more focused around colours, calligraphy and intricate symmetry. Ibarrish tapestries and carpets became very profitable exports before the Crusade and examples of penmenship that has survived that era and the Fall remain amongst the most sought-after pieces of calligraphy for collections. The unique quality of such arts came from a heavy goblin influence, popular due to it being considered a 'safe' means of enjoying the styles and fashions of the exotic. There are numerous cases throughout the Crusade of very grandiose goblin architecture kept safe by the Crusaders who saw it befitting the glory of the United Church provided revisions were made. However, more buildings were torn down or defaced of their original décor than to be salvaged by the more art-appreciative Crusaders.

The Ibarrish retained a great deal of the Sahradian mentalities they had grown familiar to even despite the Crusade. Passion remained a quintessential element of the Ibarrish lifestyle. The regional poems and plays tend to be full of the pursuit of ones passions, from being devout in ones religious lifestyle, being ardent in ones pursuit of aspirations, or, the most stereotyped of the passions, the passion of the pursuit and acquisition of a lover. Small ditties and sweeping compositions, puppet shows to five-act plays, the pursuit of a love that is unrequited, forbidden, or hindered by some apparently impossible circumstance is a theme most common for the Ibarrish.

Fashion

The fashion of the Ibarrish leans towards the severe and rigid. Gowns of a form-fitting nature tended to be worn by both men and women, he sleeves sometimes poofed or the shoulders risen in a broad fashion. The gowns of men tended to be shorter than those of women. Shirts were frilled and broad of sleeve, lacking in cuff and collar instead tending to be laced at the neck and worn loose at the wrist. Trousers were similarly worn loose for the men, sometimes to the knee, or hose were equally popular. Skirts and blouses were often sweeping, accented by jewellery by those that could afford it. Darker colours were worn to formal occasions, but dyes of white, yellow and green were most common to the area. Blues and purples were often worn to denote status. Reds were colours adopted by the revolutionary figures throughout Ibarrish history and carries with it a connotation of the impassioned and the radical.

Economy

Ibarran was never considered a particularly prosperous realm, but the economy of Ibarran has been considered one of the most stable, surviving the Calavrian decline and booming as vital trading partners to Calavria during the War of the Narrow Sea. It could even be argued that the Sahradian occupation of Ibarran did wonders of its economical climate in regards to aiding in developments of agriculture in arid climates. Silks and textiles became the major exports for Ibarran, as well as metals, stone, ceramic, leather and, as a popular alternative to that produced from Lancesian vineyards, wine.

Naming Conventions

Rather than having surnames, an Ibarrish born child is given a name derived from the mother and the father's names. The conventions behind this are not quite so strict, coming from a matter of preference from the parents. For instance, if Remedios Ciro Correz and Matilde Gracia Eliana had a child, that child might be named Maria Ciro Eliana - the 'Ciro' coming from her father's side, and likely a name passed down through Remedios's family, and the 'Eliana' being the family name of the mother, Matilde. Combinations such as 'Gracia Correz' and even 'Matilde Ciro Eliana' would be acceptable surnames for baby Matilda. More prestigious families will see their name used through the generations as a sign of pride.

//Sample Male Names: Rogelio, Leandro, Bernardino. Sample Female Names: Graciana, Micaela, Aracely. Sample Family Names: Gaspar, Ascencion, Osorio, Rivera//

Geography

Ibarran is known for its dry and often arid climate. It bares a landscape with widely-spread mountainous regions in comparison to other nations, quite often distant specks against the rolling planes of yellowed grass. That is not to say it is completely devoid of greenery. Hardy plants and grasses do take root in areas of high humidity or local to water sources, and it is within these areas that civilisation first bloomed into towns and cities. Because of that fact expansion beyond these hubs often required the construction of reservoirs, a costly and laborious endeavour that, for smaller settlements, was simply not worth the hassle. Stand-alone towns had their own water source within a village well or a nearby stream. It also meant that the more densely populated areas of Ibarran grew densely-packed with buildings as they became centres of commerce. Sammat and Santhiago both were well-known for their narrow streets of ancient, towering buildings.

The life of the farmer was a hard life, with unpredictable wet spells meaning there was no certainty in the harvest. Orchards became a staple of Ibarrish agriculture, as did cattle and goats, creatures more adapted to the hotter climate. There was a higher proportion of meat consumed from domestication than from game, though rabbit, dear and feral horse remained good sport for the hunter.

The Sahradian occupation saw some changes in the way of agriculture, giving the Ibarrish new means of transporting water, and by the time of The Fall the landscape overall was a little more green than it had been in the previous centuries.

Religion

Within the widely communal mentality of the Ibarrish there fostered a very passionate religious streak. Most every town had a church dedicated to the United Church, if not several stand-alone churches dedicated to individual gods. The Ibarrish tended to begin and end their days at a sermon, with most of Sunday morning given to worship. As with most churches, parishes within Ibarran were largely supported by donations and contributions from the local townsfolk, but there were scarcely any churches in Ibarran that saw disrepair or unkempt. It was not uncommon for citizens, be it hamlet, village, town or city, to spend some of their free time gardening the church grounds. Masons and carpenters would work on any repairs needed on the building itself without payment, seeing no need to be paid for services to the gods and knowing full well that the gods would look kindly on them for their acts.

The Ibarrish were next to none in how much of themselves the devoted to religion, and in these zealous mentalities there cultivated equally zealous branches of worship. Churches of Vaitera within Ibarran have interpreted her book to some further extremes than other cultures. The Vaiteran church expect their followers to swear full vows of chastity and poverty, interpreting the passages regarding being sparing of material objects to be an indication that, to really understand Vaitera’s suffering, one must be as close to her suffering as possible. Her Lady's Scourged, a branch of the church believing in sanctity through the mortification of the flesh, originated in Ibarran.

Military

The Ibarrish divisiveness extends to its armies. As each Don raises, trains, and commands his forces separately, there is a large disparity in the skill, equipment, and leadership across the Ibarrish military. The worst are nothing more than peasants with farming equipment, whilst the finest - those furthest to the south, and closest to Sahradia - are arguably the best light cavalry in the whole of the Realm.

These are called the Caballeros, the Ibarrish knights with their own particular take on the tenets of chivalry and service. Many will find themselves in sworn service to their liege lord; however the tales and traditions arise from the more exceptional individuals amongst them. They are the warriors who, for whatever reason, are not tethered in service to any one Don. As such they tend to travel the land, lending their sword to whatever cause requires it for as long as is necessary. Moving from place to place, their need to live off very little was originally a practical one, but eventually developed into an ascetic tradition based upon Ibarran's religious devotion to Vaitera.

Magic

It is perhaps unsurprising that elemental magic was one of the major practices in Ibarran. The people were a practical people, everyone in a community was expected to pull their weight, and that included the local arcanists. There was no obligation to learn the elemental magics, but the adherence to a school that seemed less useful to day-to-day life seemed a selfish pursuit to those not properly educated in the arcane. Santhiago became something of a haven for the magic-user. It was there that scholars congregated in their own university for the arcane, the Zequiel Chambers, named after the university's founder Eugenio Zequiel. There were many stories of young men and women who had a talent for the arcane and did not want to live a life of water-summoning and earth-shifting fleeing their homes to the Zequiel Chambers, giving rise to a suspicion that magic-users would wander through towns trying to lure other arcane-sensitive candiates to the building where they could be trained in more infamous arts such as seerism and illusion.

What this culminated to was a distrust of magic from the rural denizens of Ibarran, one that arcanists would endeavour to change. Troops of arcanists would take to the road, living in caravans adorned with bright colours and bells, travelling from town to town to provide fairs and entertainment, lending aid with labours in trade for meals, and generally demonstrating that magic beyond the manipulation of the elements held its usage. The families that begun these troops over the generations took a liking to their lifestyle, and soon the traveller families became a recognisable element of Ibarrish culture. Villages soon welcomed the travellers, with their shows of fireworks, jugglers, fortune-tellers using their gifts to speak of someone's future and illusionists putting on grand plays with illusionary props. The origin of the travellers as a means to dismiss the fear of the city-based arcanists, became more-or-less forgotten over time, viewed by the Fall as a quirky people with a unique lifestyle rather than the very people that normalised perceptions of magic across the nation.

Perspectives on Other Races and Nations

Andermark

"The Anderman is the perfect example of how it is all too easy to say all is well when the problems are not on your doorstep. They are a nation of opportunists, only strong today because they hold their seat in the far west, not because they're militant. They came in their multitudes to aid in the Crusades, and fled back to their homes when the Legion broke through into Ibarran. They're a gritty and bloodthirty lot that only see the world in regards to the problems straight ahead of them. It's not the Anderman that keeps Andermark strong these days."'


Damryn

"There is much honour in the Damryans. They are a people sworn to duty and honour through their herritage, moreso than most others, and that is nothing if not a deeply respectable walk of life. It was the High King's endorsement of the Crusades that gave the United Church the strength it needed to see those goblin heretics out of our nation. The future of the Realm is theirs."


Lancereaux

"Cowards. Not cowards that run from battle, the sieges that slowed the Legion were part of the reason that we are here today, but the Lancesians are a more subtle breed of coward. They sat idly by whilst we suffered goblin occupation until the United Church put the fear of the gods in them and sent them to us in force to help us. They've been our neighbours through all of our conflicts and sat idle throughout as if we were underneath their notice. And now they have the disgrace to call us cowards because we left their lands when we heard the Legion were advancing in ours? Cowards, and a selfish creed of coward at that."


Calavria

"I don't understand the Calavrian. They're almost unsustainable in their wants - more land, larger properties, greater wealth, more power. They're gluttonous, hungry for knowledge, starved for gossip and unhappy without either. It must be a hard life, never being satisfied with what one has. Even with their magic, they seem only satisfied when it is overwhelming."


Norlundar

"They call the Norl a barbarian. I'm afraid I just don't see it. What is barbaric - their strong communities? Their reverence of family? Their adaptability to the harshest of climate? I think the day we decide a man is little better than a troll because of his lack of table manners is a sad day indeed for the Realm."


The Iron Empire

"We've seen so little of the elves, we do not have the same history of conflict with them as the Calavrians do, or the Damryns, but it is interesting to see a creature such as they so humbled from their former might. I believe fully that the elves are a fair-weather friend. Though, aren't we all fair-weather friends? The best that can happen with their kind is that they learn a lesson from this, that their long lifespans mean little and their interactions with our nations mean more. But we shall see if, come their return to their lands, they remember any of this or go back to their sheltered arrogance."


Dwarves of Kordurren

"It's said of the dwarves that they hid themselves away until the Legion came, or something more sinister than that. That, I have no problem with - we all must survive, and sometimes the decisions behind that survival are hard choices to make. But to be godless? To revoke their worship of the divinity? It is little wonder their god did not appear at the Last Stand. They are a lost people, they are heathens as much as any goblin, and they cannot be trusted. If one is not guided by the grace of god, what is left for them but damnation?"


Sahradia

"Heathens. And understand when I say that word, I mean it with the utmost of vehemence from every inch of my soul, every fibre of my being, from the depths of my heart, screaming through the blood of all of my ancestors, those green-skinned heathens are rank bastards, worse than any plague, that should be scoured from Ereda every last man, woman and child. I hope the Legion did worse to their kind than they did to us."


Beastkin

"I think them horrid. The gods curse the leper and cast them onto the streets sickly, to be shunned for their sins. Why do we harbour these beasts? Their gods are the gods of blood and sacrifice, they revere what all civilised peoples deem to be sinful. They are twisted wrecks of humanity that should be removed, lest why even pray? Why worship at all? What god would believe the words of a man who neighboured happily with such an abomination?"


Demons

"Any and all that act against the will of the gods, be they man or beast, should not be tolerated. Demons are anathema to the soul, agents of the chaos of Hell that seek to drag us into lives of sin. Fear them, for they are deserved of that fear. Destroy them, for they will destroy you in more subtle ways. And should you entertain the notion that they can be dealt with in any way, gods have mercy on your soul."


The Legion

"The Legion were a message. Before them, the locked door sundered, the towering wall broke down, the hardest steel was shattered and the greatest heroes of our time lost their heart. They walked on a road of broken bodies to destroy everything they came across, and they earned the ire of the gods for it. They were a brutal lesson, that the only thing that should wield that amount of power are the gods themselves, for only they can deal it fairly.'