Sahradia

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Occupying the Northernmost continent closest to the Realms, the nation of Sahradia sits upon the vast Khuatian Desert, a domain of extreme heat and deadly creatures, the centre of which is known as the Ocean of Dunes, an impossible to measure body of sand where no living thing can survive. No human has ever charted the full extent of the the continent and Sahradia itself is so vast it defies boarders. The goblins that make up the Caliphate of Sahradia, as long-lived enemies of the Realms, are generally unwilling to aid in any such inquiries. The goblins are, in the eyes of the Realm, bloodthirsty heretics that bare their heathenish ideals proudly and wish to dominate the freedom of all civilised races under their reign. The United Church had opened the eyes to the sinful nature of what the goblins call 'true divinity' and had waged a bloody Crusade against their kind to cast them out of Ibarran and back over the seas. Since the Fall, however, the goblins have returned, apparently untouched by the devastating wrath of the Legion, and have begun occupying Ibarran anew.

History

The Three Tribes

What is known today as Sahradia is a nation born from numerous tribes that occupied the Khuatian Desert. Ancient records show that three tribes, known as the Enkadian, the Streatians and the Nylamians all rose to power at relatively the same time, the Enkadians and Streatians to the West, the Nylamians to the East. In their rise to power, however, the Enkadians found themselves quickly dominated by the Streatians, who geographically were closer to more water sources than the further inland Nylamians. The Streatians would raid against the Enkadians but never entirely wipe them out, letting them rebuild and then striking at them again, effectively using their more advanced warfare tactics to plunder them for resources. Time passed, and these tribes became nations in their own right, accepting mantles equivalent to ‘king’ amongst themselves. In all this time, the tradition remained that the Enkadian nation was a slave nation to the Streatians. Then, somewhere around 850 PF, the Enkadians revolted from their mountains against the Streatians. The legends of the battle are often told in light of the Streatians being slovenly, living their lives of comparative luxury and never engaging in the kinds of labours the Enkadians had to in order to survive in the mountains. As such, the Enkadians were are hardy creed. Despite being outnumbered by the Streatians, their resoluteness and their passion drove them to victory. When the walls of Streat were theirs, the ruler of the Enkadians, a goblin by the name of Rayet. Rayet declared himself the King of Kings. Under King Rayet the Enkadians claimed themselves the rulers of the continent. The message was meant for the unaffiliated desert communities and for the Nylamians.

The Enkadians secured their seat and their comfort, unaware of (or simply ignoring) the irony that they were taking advantage of the luxuries the former Streatian settlements offered even when the ‘soft-handed’ lifestyle was one that had seen them uprise in the first place. King Rayet sent his armies to the former Streatian communities and unaffiliated communities, stretching his influence in the west as far as possible. Over the next few years, the Enkadian influence began to encroach on Nylamian territory. When this began, King Rayet sent ambassadors to the capital of Nylam to accept their fealty under the king of kings. These ambassadors were thrown out of the city within a month of their arrival.

King Rayet, seeing the refusal of the Nylamians as the ultimate of insult to the empire he was forging, mustered a warband to strike at the the Nylamians. He amassed a huge navy and sent them across the ocean to land at the shore, but a terrible storm obliterated the ships. He sent soldiers marching across the desert, but a fire struck their camp in the night and their provisions were burned, forcing them to turn back. When finally the Enkadian army reached Nylamian territory, they were convinced that their King of Kings had angered the gods by some means.

Whilst the Enkadians had arcanists, the Nylamians had the advantage of a strict military routine. Nylamian generals would always ensure a strict number of priests and arcanists spread amongst their ranks where the Enkadians had separate units for mages and priests. As such, the Nylamian strategies were more technical in mind of powers beyond brute force. They soon became known as the Unbreakable Wall, perfecting a strategy where a string of casters would constantly be empowering a shield wall at the head of the army, making their lines more or less impervious. Cavalry units also included mages, allowing for swift and severe strikes without having to disembark from their mount or engage the enemy in close quarters.

Their tactical superiority was let down by their lack of experience in warfare. Where Nylamian generals were cunning, Enkadian generals were opportunistic. Their strategies were brutal and unorthodox, they had a better eye for advantageous ground and whilst the Nylamian shield was dubbed ‘unbreakable’, it was not immovable. The results that the Nylamians were losing battles with lower casualties than the Enkadians, forced into retreat by their perseverance.

In this time, King Rayet had died, succeeded by his son Adsbur of whom history says very little other than his reign was much like his father’s. The news of the death only served to empower the Enkadian conquest, fighting with the rage of grief for the loss of the one who had granted them freedom. Pushed back to the Nylamian capital, the city was sacked by land and by sea, an assault the likes of which the Nylamians could not defend against. The Enkadian’s reign of the continent was complete.

The Enkadian Era

In the centuries that followed the people of the Enkadian empire grounded itself in its newfound territory. The lineage of Kings only once deviated from the direct line of Rayet, a lack of direct heir yielding the throne to the next elligable male, Esskel. It was under Esskel’s rule that fissures began to appear in the Enkadian empire. The land simply proved too vast for a single rulership. Feuding lords began to cause divisions amongst the Enkadians that split the Enkadian territory under suspiciously similar boarders to that of the former Nylamian and Streatian nations. The people were demanding more control, finding it impossible to adhere to taxes and laws that were perfectly applicable to the more metropolitan areas but useless to settlements in thicker arid turf. The logical solution was the division of land, but there came problems in who would control that land.

There came two contenders for the land: the mercantile class and the Church of Isall. The merchants were simply used to a life of power and affluence and were struggling to maintain control over trade with the peasantry struggling to adhere to royal taxation. They posited that if they were given power and prominence that they would be able to more shrewdly tax their fiefdoms in accordance to what the population could afford. They also demanded that they sit in courts and have say in regal affairs, one or two even suggesting that they should also be mediating the king’s coffers so as to regulate the economy stringently.

The Church, on the other hand, were furious over negligence in regards to the repair of Church property in the wake of the war. In the generations that had passed, church property had been overtaken in regal priority by matters such as the securing of trade routes between the larger cities. This had come to a head before the reign of Esskel when the then King Oreq, a goblin who paid less attention to his own worship than he should have, was deemed by a prominent Priest of Isall to be ‘better suited for worship of the Lady than the Light, for we are not reigned by a King but a Princess.’ The Priest was banished, but the observation remained that the royal line seemed more devoted to internal affairs than matters of divinity. Esskel did not alter that perception, and it was deemed by the Church that this was the only fitting way to resolve the lack of attention they had received: to be given the opportunity to stand in equal weight to the King himself.

The Prophet Sahrid

The matter could have become one that shifted the ways that goblins interacted with the world if it hadn’t been for the appearance of the Prophet Sahrid. Sahrid and his followers, presumed survivors of the Nylamians, wandered from the desert. They spoke of messages from the divine that the light of Isall and Amirr should shine beyond the lands of the Enkadians, that the subjugated Nylamian people be set free from their slavery, and the king be held accountable to the illustrious light of the Church.

The Bloodless War was a conflict of the minds rather than a conflict of swords. The prophet Sahrid gathered followers as he marched towards the king's seat of power in Kadrasalem. Once Nylamian settlements emptied of their inhabitants as they joined the march of the prophet, some of them never to be repopulated again. Followers of Sahrid brought with them supplies - water, food, tinder, shelter. The Sahrid movement is said to have marched to Kadrasalem four men abreast the collumn of which stretched over the dry planes the city overlooked, disappearing over the horizon. Sahrid stated that the city belonged to his people as much as it did the King, and they would not leave until an audience had been granted. King Eskkel could do little to dissuade Sahrid and his followers from setting up camp, but he would not see the prophet Sahrid. Men and women would go to Sahrid and hear him speak of what had driven him here, the divine illumination that had visited him and given him the strength to walk the desert unhindered by the heat and sand. The passion of his massage and the right of the divine behind him saw people look to the King, who still refused audience.

Then came the day of silence. The King awoke not to the sounds of the city, not to movement about his palace, but woke to an uneasy silence. When he called his wives and his guards, none came. He grew furious and stormed out of his room still in his nightclothes to find the palace staff, his slaves, his advisers and his wives lining the corridors, staring at him. When he yelled, they did not flinch. When he struck them, they only straightened up. He drew the blade of a guard and put it to the throat of his wife, but neither shifted. He threw the sword down and stormed his way out of his palace, only to find that his courtyard gates had been opened. The people of Kadrasalem lined the streets, flanking each side in walls of silence and staring. The king yelled, screamed, made demands, threatened with execution - allthewhile, the people stared in silence. It was then the king realised that they formed a path, leading right out of the gates of the city. So stricken was he by confusion, fear and anger that he followed the passageway of people. As he walked through the streets, he found himself under the gaze of every citizen of Kadrasalem, all of them stood still and silent, merely watching. The path he was lead down took him out of the city and right to Sahrid's camp where, outside of his tent, stood in the middle of a ring of people, Sahrid spread his arms. Accounts differ on what was said - some posit that Sahrid then told the king he had been rightfully been judged by his people, and asked if he still felt worthy to lead them. Some state that Sahrid said that he welcomed the king to his camp, or uttered a prayer of forgiveness, or said nothing at all. All accounts state that the king dropped to his knees and wept. He was lead into Sahrid's tent. The city returned to normal whilst the king stayed a week in Sahrid's tent - an apprehensive return to the status quo, almost mechanical in that no-one put a foot out of line, everyone waiting for the results of the meeting.

When the week passed and the king returned, he returned with Sahrid, the two walking to the palace. A crowd had already amassed, watching and waiting for the results. The king spoke no words, simply took off his crown and lay it on the head of Sahrid. The people broke into applause and cheering, silenced only by Sahrid's risen hand. It was then that the Prophet said simply, 'let us pray.'

An entire city was brought to prayer by that simple command. And from that point, each day at high noon, the Sahradians drop to their knees facing Kadrasalem and engage in the same prayer their prophet lead them in.

The Rise of Sahradia

That day marked the shift from Enkedian rule to Sahradian rule. The line of the Prophet Sahrid has remained an important and revered line within Sahradian culture but, despite the name, were not always the head of state. The position of Caliph was one of a lifetime vow to serve the will of Isall and lead the Sahradian people into conquest, and that is what many of them enacted. Sahrid and his descendants spent their lifetimes building the structure of the caliphate, dividing the land into sultanates, the devisions smaller and more numerous than the original three tribes but allowing for each sultanate to concentrate its resources under the guidance of a local sultan, each sultan appointed by the church of Isall. Upon Sahrid's death, his sons made no claim for the title, instead backing a goblin by the name of Iremash. Iremash's direct line held the title of two generations. Then, when no sons were born, the line of Issacha came to power.

It was a period of growth for the Sahradia that in many ways cast a grim reflection upon overseas Ibarran. Laws of the church were formalised into national laws, external trading to the Realm brought in as much commerce and imported goods as it did innovation. In a period of a hundred years the sultanates brought about an economic reform for the caliphate and conflicts of any notable scale were few and far between. Spices and silks became an export that boomed once relationships were established with Andermark and Calavria and various merchant families grew powerful and influential. The high prices fetched by these 'exotic' exports meant that more Sahradians found themselves capable of enjoying lives of leisure. The arts, as a direct result of this, no longer were focused around interpretations of religious doctrines but turned to the depiction of recreational habits, landscapes and the goblin form. Meanwhile, Ibarran in this time had a severe slump in their economy, their leader had perished suddenly and had been replaced by a power-hungry man who had no legitimate claim to the position but showed no indication of giving it up. Another revolution was brewing in Ibarran, which came as no surprise to the Sahradians who paid any attention to matters of the Realm.

By this point, relationships between Ibarran and Sahradia had all-but collapsed. Restrictions on Sahradian imports a century before had culminated in, all at once, mutual distrust between the Ibarrish and the Sahradians and a rise in piracy against vessels venturing out to, or returning from, trading at Ibarran. The attitudes between the two nations were perhaps outdated and should have long-since been abandoned, but a few generations had seen prejudices embedded within both sides. When the revolution rose up against him, the acting head-of-state Lord Cortez brokered for a truce with the Sahradians to help in the elemination of the revolutionary forces and in the securing of his position. The caliph, a grandson of Issacha by the name of Janal, saw an opportunity to further the cause of the prophet Sahrid. 'The light of the divine must shine beyond Enkedian boarders,' after all. Janal was able to strong-arm Cortez into a coalition that would see the caliphate claim land on Ibarrish soil provided they stamp out the revolution.

Occupation and Liberation

The occupation of what intended to be the first overseas sultanate was left to the hands of Sultan Ackip, Janal's foreign affairs advisor. Ackip went to Ibarran a young man with a wisdom beyond his years and a knack for numbers, and it was that he utilised in the reformation of Ibarran. He had quite the task ahead of him, the old Ibarrish resentment still deeply embedded in the people he would be reigning over, seeing Cortez as little more than a thoughtless anarchist who had thrown himself to be the puppet of the goblins when he realised his reign could not be accommodated. Yet, somehow, Ackip managed to at least bring the Ibarrish economy back on the rise, introducing programs that saw a utilisation of Sahradian farming techniques that allowed land-owners to get more out of their land - a land which, it was commented by Ackip, looked positively sodden compared to the conditions the Sahradians had been farming in.

What Ackip could not anticipate was the rise of the United Church. By that time the elderly Ackip had been struggling with his duties and in the years before his death was more often than not delegating to his seven sons. His sons simply didn't have quite the same grasp of people and of politics that he did. Ackip was eventually bed-bound and passed away without being of sound enough mind to name a successor, to which his sons split the caliphate into seven. This division worked against them upon the Church's formation and denouncement of the goblins and their gods as heathens, none of the sons able to match Ackip's already tentative grasp of the Ibarrish people. It was a cruel irony that the Liberation of Ibarran by the newfound Crusaders took seven years, one year for each of the sons, none of which made it back to Sahradian soil.

The Crusades

The Crusades were the bloodiest period of Sahradian history, even bloodier than the Enkadian uprising. For the first time in history the goblins of Sahradia were not only pushed back into their land, but pursued relentlessly across their land by the paladins of the United Church. The First Crusade was launched in 403 PF and, in reality, never really stopped, only becoming the 'Second', 'Third' and 'Fourth' Crusades as a matter of differentiating between resurgences and shifting focus rather than denoting any actual cessation from either the United Church offensive or the Sahradians defending their land. The Caliph withdrew all of his resources to Kadrasalem, calling upon his holy advisers to guide his generals as the planned against the Crusade offensive. The Crusaders landed to the east, taking over towns and cities and flying the banner of the Crusade from the towers, establishing their own stronghold on the continent. Both Kadraslem and these Crusader settlements stood against everything their enemy could throw at them, but over the years the Crusaders moved further and further to the east, claiming more land. The Sahradian armies could not simply put themselves between Kadrasalem and the Crusaders. Quite often the forces would have to move into the desert itself to try and move around the invaders, to give them some chance at striking from behind or assaulting established strongholds in their wake. These attempts did not always go unnoticed, and sometimes the Crusaders would pursue the Sahradians into the desert. These conflicts were the most devastating. Sandstorms and ever-shifting dunes meant navigation was next to impossible. Sometimes the survivors of the battle, regardless of which side they fought for, would be stranded in the desert. They would not emerge, but to the Sahradians any sacrifice in order to slay the enemy of the true divinity was an acceptable sacrifice.

The Fall and the Reclamation