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Let me be clear, Near Dios: I do not believe you are my who you claim to be. I have seen warriors return from the Broken Lands a shell of their former selves: there is a warping force under the wasteland that does not know rest, and only the mightiest pass the test of its corruption. While I do not doubt that you believe yourself to be my pupil, and definitely see the resemblance in aspect and words, your body speaks with different tones - how you move, how you size up an environment. You're faster, but much sloppier. A master-at-arms sees these things and her eye is not clouded by a family member's yearning for one presumed lost.

This is delivered to you, but addressed in truth to your "brother" Pepe, that you may read to him someday. Here I explain the state of the realm as I would a child: there are the sort of untruths that some give children until they understand the nature of life ad death, and my test of your identity is for you to find them and correct them, for the sake of your relative. I do not question your allegiance to the Dios clan -- your recent actions speak of dedication and passion, and I respect that -- merely your nature.

Agrias, master-at-arms

Other lands in the Known World call the last quarter century the Long Peace. I suspect that this is because our proud clans were too busy with each other to unleash Ethengar jarids from the top of the world to the lands below...

After the death of Moglai Khan, all foresaw chaos in our golden country, and possibly alien invasion be it from the Freeholds or Glantri. Of course, as much as we squabbled for the Golden Court until no two yurts of it were left pitched together, all attempts at subjugation met the end they deserved... There was, as there would always be, a War of Succession, each clan stalking the other across the plains. What is new is that, with both Great Empires jockeying for support in the heart of the continents but afraid to call for what they call total war and that I will not deign of such a honorable name -- why not something Imperial sounding, like Mutually Assured Destruction? Soft words and gold and poisoned daggers. We saw all of that and more, with the result that clans who didn't come to terms at least with to degree with either evil empire became poorer and marginalized as iron gave way to steel.

The Murkit, heirs to great Moglai, are a remnant of their former selves. They have all but dispersed, a few going so low as to seek foreign support for their claims to rulership: this slow, low burning treason of what it means to be Ethengaran has lost all sympathy to the remanants of the former ruling family. Today, family names nonwithstanding, three great clans still roam the plains as the Immortals intended.

The noble Uighurs, who have given up on claims of rulership and instead fight to keep aliens out of our lands, both with their armies and most crucially with their baubles. Fiercely nomadic, Uighurs see no distinction between Man and Ork, female and male, freeborn or serfborn; all will be judged worthy by the Ocean of Grass or fertilize it with their bones. Their leader Hulagu disapproves of our very existence, but admits that he would rather trade with an Ethengar than with a foreigner.

The insidious Bortaks, who are claimed by some to be bankrolled by Daro nobility. They are better traders than us, and what their messengers can't spy upon their silver can influence. Their leader Batu has allowed a few permanent settlements as a way to build a messenger network; we respect their predatory trading isntincts, but fear their lust for control.

The evil Kiyats, who after a long stay in the Land of Black Sand are thought to have consorted with the dark energies that lie within: in order to build a power base, they have effectively introduced serfdom to our land when the proper manner of procuring slaves by raids became insufficient to their needs. Their power is fueled by the gem trade, and some say that they have been harvesting Arcane Emeralds since the substance became known. Their leader Kadan has recently volunteered for a public ordeal to prove that he was not possessed by a demon. They work with us only because they haven't found it possible to simply retake Izwald and use the ruins as a port as they used to.

Then there's us. The Dios clan. Izwald. The only "proper" city in Ethengar, to hear foreigners; a bad idea made good by sweat of ten thousand brows, I say. We have so far existed as neutral territory, a place to find water year-round and to grow spices and herbs, the only farmable land when the river came back in force following the failed Glantrian invasion and their magical meddling giving us the position of both being prosperous and being an easy target. Our claim to rule was bolstered when Melcher convinced the remnants of Keshak clan to, in effect, be Izwald's standing army. Until recently, it was beneficial for the three great clans to keep us neutral: it is Brand's opinion, and mine, that this will not last.

Finally there's this new enemy, unknown -- whether it be from the Top of the World, or beyond the sky, or the abyss between the planes I do not know.

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Page last modified on October 15, 2012, at 04:35 AM