The Known World
The Known World
“How could I stand those stinky horse riders? By the beard of Kagyar, how else, if not for the pleasure of bashing a few Glantrians’ heads? That’s the reason why we Brothers of the Bolt join the Golden Khan’s army –well, and there’s the Khan’s gold, too.” — Bifur Magecrusher, former Brother of the Bolt, now a resident of Vestland
The Sea of Grass is the name given by the nomadic Ethengarians to their land, a huge grassland crossed by the River Streel and its tributaries. The best grazing lands, like the Sea of Flowers or the Land of Purple Grass, attract competing tribes, and are the theatre of inter-tribal skirmishes. The Great Khan keeps two court sites, Chagon-Nah and Bargha, moving an entire town of pavilions and tents twice a year. Chagon-Nah serves as summer court, and Bargha is reserved for winter.
The most impressive landmark of Ethengar is the so-called Land of Black Sand, a blasted expanse of dark sand and rock, mostly avoided by the nomads, who believe the region to be cursed or haunted by evil spirits. Despite its reputation, this is also the place where previous Great Khans are buried.
The Ethengar steppes are subject to an extreme climate, due to their high altitude. Summers are hot and windy, while the long winters are freezing and snowy. The steppes’ autumn is marked by frequent rainstorms, and the only pleasant season here is spring, when the melting snow provides plenty of water, and the winds and temperatures are moderate.
The origin of the Ethengar clans is lost in the mists of time. Their myths speak of the first Great Khan, Baka, who is considered to have brought the Ethengars their lifestyle. After his death, the clans fought for supremacy in what is known as the first War of Succession. The Ethengar clans do not appear into the history of the Known World until the first century AC, when a warlike Khan drove the Makistan clan south, through the Dwarven lands. Five centuries later, two attempts were made to invade the western lands of the Flaems, which would later be known as the Principalities of Glantri, each resulting in a sound defeat as the Ethengar horse warriors found themselves unable to apply their hit and run tactics. The Flaemish armies retaliated, but, caught in the open terrain, were crushed. Since that time, the two nations are locked in a stalemate, each unable to overcome the enemy on their own turf. Espionage and subversion have become the weapon of choice, with Ethengar brataks matching their skills with Glantrians’ magic.
The last Great Khan, Toktai, died in the battle of Hayavik in AC 926, after an ill-fated attempt to invade the Heldann Freeholds. A new War of Succession began, lasting until Moglai Khan was recognised as the Khan of Khans in 996.
Moglai’s career started as heir to the Murkit tribe’s Khan, Huptai. At the death of his father, Moglai was only twelve, and his uncle Atikai easily usurped his throne. Moglai escaped, living alone for years in the Sea of Grass, and later adventuring south to Rockhome and later to Ylaruam, Thyatis and other lands. Later, he returned to Ethengar, declaring himself Khan of the Murkits. With a small force he was able to escape Atikai’s warriors, achieving more and more victories. In the end, the majority of the Murkit clans switched allegiance, and Atikai was captured and executed.
In two years, the united Murkit tribe under Moglai Khan wiped out the divided Maghurs and Hajiks clans. In reaction to the new threat, the other clans gathered into tribes, but Moglai was able to exploit intertribal feuds to get a few tribes join him for protection, then he used his newfound strength to force the remaining Khans into submission.
The Ethengarians are proud and savage horse warriors, living off their yak and horse herds. The clans are able to move fast, bringing along all of their possessions. These “possessions” actually belong to the Khan, who gives them to his subjects to use on a yearly basis. Men and women are both trained in archery and horsemanship, but women usually handle trade, while they seldom become shamans or hakomons. The Ethengar males often marry more than one woman, and are bound to marry the wives of their close relatives upon their death.
Besides tribal warriors, the Ethengar society knows only few social classes. The Keshak are elite soldiers in the direct service of the Golden Khan, and have therefore relinquished their clan standing. Hakomons, the traditional Ethengar magic users, also leave their tribes, but are often employed by the Khans, since they need wealth to support their magical research. Since there is no private property among the Ethengars, there is no thievery too. Instead, there is a tradition of spies and scouts, called brataks.
Moglai Khan is the undisputed ruler of the Khanates. He directly controls his own tribe, the Murkits, and an elite military force, the Keshak. The lesser Khans keep absolute authority over their own tribes, but have no power over the Great Khan, although they can influence the Great Khans decisions by giving him their advice.
The Ethengars worship a large number of Immortals through the clergy, but they also revere animal spirits from the Spirit World through the shamans. Both types of priests also serve as advisers, loremasters and storytellers.