12 December 2018

Atlas Elyden #28 - N'rach, J'thana and Siriphagos

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A key/legend to the map can be found here.

Probably the strangest region detailed so far, this one has been a long time coming. Were it not for the magical corruption that pervades the world, most regions would be pretty realistic, comparable to alt-earth post-industrial societies. This is one of the more fantastical regions - it's home to spider-men who construct buildings from a resinous silk that they secrete (how original!).

A key/legend to the map can be found here

Atlas Elyden #28 - N'rach, J'thana and Siriphagos

Home to arcahniform monsters, N’rach is a blight within a blighted continent. Using human slaves, its architects build great silken fortresses to protect its overgrown lands. Very little is known of N’rach. Its denizens, the abhorrent arachniform aantha, are insular and aggressive to contact with outsiders, a stance possibly developed to cope with the xenophobic actions of other mortal races towards them in the past. Their culture is as alien to humans as it is to other mortal races, and attempts made by Korachani explorers to learn their ways have invariably failed. Their home is arid, covered in harsh shrubs, hardy evergreens and forests of sentry plants that lend it an alien appearance, befitting of its occupants.
      The aanth are a relic of ancient times, their true heritage unknown. There are no ruins from previous ages that are attributed to them, so it is unlikely that they are an old race, and if so they were never a united or strong people. Thymi records mention a war with misshapen silk-weaving beings over adamantine deposits in what is now northern N’rach. The aanth of this age were not a unified people, and consisted of many individual tribes that had little relations with each other. It was in around -1200 RM, when the Thymi empire was breathing its last, when attacks against border settlements increased, as did the number of people taken as slaves.
      The collapse of the Thymi empire early in the Fifth Age saw the aanth spread across their abandoned lands, populating their ruins and taking what people remained as slaves. The young races that inherited the Fifth Age were superstitious and cautious, and shunned such lands populated by these misshapen warmongers, allowing them to spread further.

      By c 500 RM the aanth had consolidated around the K’sena caracrats of the river Shibboleth, controlling lands as far east as the Amraot Massif in Ehbot and as far north as Eiclon in extant Lidea. The aanth had reached Ehbot but continued expanding their territories, with various nests and gossamer forts appearing around lake C’data. By c. 875 RM the aanth were pushed back across the Araaht, with the humans, their lands to the E of the Araaht by then known as Arkos, advancing against them. A great war followed in c 1100 - 1150 RM after human explorers uncovered caves north of lake C’data that led to the birthing pits of the goddess Maalkat - this was the first recorded contact of outsiders with the aanth goddess. It was revealed that the aanth territories encompassed as much of the subterranean world as they did the surface and that they died selflessly in defence of their goddess.

By the end of the war the aanth had pushed the Arkosians back to their citadel mounts, where they remained, allowing the aanth to reclaim the lands around lake C’data, fortifying them with their grotesque silken fortresses. By 1550 RM the region south of the Sterhbel mountains had become a place of pilgrimage to the growing aanth culture, which had become known as N’rach by then.

Slaving raids into neighbouring lands continued during this time, and it’s thought that much of the workforce in N’rach is composed of foreign slaves and their descendants. What contact N’rach maintains with foreign lands is done through human diplomats and merchants born and raised in Ekallu, Maalkat and M’hotok, which are its three largest known cities. These ambassadors are deeply indoctrinated into the ways of aanth culture and are as alien to foreigners as the aanth themselves. What we know of the nation is through contact with such ambassadors and the descendants of slaves who settled Barathea and J’thana. Dissent amongst the slaves in the metropolis of N’satta led to a rebellion that culminated in 2193 RM with the overthrowing of the city and the slaves - numbering hundreds of thousands - fleeing south-east. They clashed with the armies of N’rach outside the small city of N’habba. Many died, but they defeated the armies, taking the city and fortifying it. This led to sundering of the region of J’thana from N’rach within a few years. The J’thani expanded south east, mingling with outcasts from Siriphagos and Arkos.       In 2814 RM J’thana became a vassal of Siriphagos through the politicking of its Aliheioan rulers, though as Siriphagos waned in power the region managed to break away, alongside a large part of western Siriphagos, in 3306 RM.

      The lands to the east of lake C’data had remained uninhabited since the N’rachi victory against the Arkosian people, and it was settled by another group of freed slaves, becoming known as Barathea in 2200 RM as it expanded into regions of Ba’ath abandoned by Korachan to the Atramenta, resettling some of its ruins.

      N’rach maintains loose connections with Barathea and J’thana, with the latter two acting mostly as mediaries between it and human realms.

Much like their homeland, little is known of aanth culture. The average aanth stands around 5-ft. tall and is of hunched form, with a large chest and spindly limbs, and thick grey skin that varies between rough and chitinous. Aantha have a pair of large black featureless eyes, that do not see colour and distance very well. It is not uncommon for individuals to have more than a single pair of eyes, sometimes arranged haphazardly on their faces. Similarly, aantha are known for their errant limbs, usually vestigial and unsightly, and rarely fully functioning. 
       Aanth bodies are naturally resistant to the effects of the Atramenta despite their apparent physical corruption. This suggests that their physical aberrations are not rooted in the Atramenta, but some other phenomenon. Such specimens - with their multiple eyes and limbs - are seen as blessed by their goddess, Maalkat, and are often chosen to be atterkhats - community leaders and shamen.

Aantha live in small semi-nomadic family groups known as sodalities, generally consisting of a single dominant female, a handful of k’hat champions, many young and a great number of human slaves who have been tortured into obedience. These sodalities travel around N’rach, stopping for months at a time in the major aanth settlements that are centred around the city of Ekallu (exotically known as the Silken City to outsiders). The aanth are expert engineers and mathematicians (using a base-8 number system), construct their cities from a unique pumice-like stone that is common to the region and the natural resinous silk that they secrete. The two combined make for a light and incredibly strong material that is used in fortifications and homing alike. Despite their skill, they have an affinity for subterranean dwelling, and most of their cities exist on two levels - above-ground and below.
      Their society revolves around worship of their deity, the goddess Maalkat, who is said to dwell in a labyrinthine pit beneath the mountains of Strehbel. The devotion they show Maalkat is utterly alien to humans, who have difficulty understanding this and other aspects of aanth culture.


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