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Morya--Arena 28

Like so many of the southern Free Cities, the history and culture of Morya has been greatly influenced by the Rirorni horse tribes. Founded some three hundred years ago by colonists from Lapur, the city was little more than a collection of shacks surrounding a small riverside fort. The colony did not prosper, some said because Lapur did not want to foster a city which might compete with it for the lucrative river trade. Some two centuries ago, a wave of Rirorni horse-raiders swept up from the southern deserts, and after several years of raid and counter-raid, wrested the city from Lapurian control. The raiders renamed their clan and their new city "Morya," or "victorious."

With their new, permanent base, the Moryans spent the next fifty years developing the fearsome Moryan war-chariot and strengthening their hold on the plains. For generations thereafter, Morya was the scourge of the eastern plains, raiding near and far for goods and slaves. At last, about fifty years ago, Morya attempted to conquer Lapur itself. The Lapurians, though lacking military might, were rich in both gold and guile. The city's noble families, aided by Dullens and Khalani, who had also suffered under the Moryan lash, hired a huge mercenary army and retreated to the nearby forest, where the Moryans' chariots and cavalry could not follow. In their pride, the Moryan army followed anyway--and, dealt a crushing defeat, Morya was forced into signing the Charter Of Mutual Defense. The treaty forbade aggression between the four cities and pledged them to come to the aid of any of the others should an outside force attack. The Charter also grants the cities of the Quinumvirate favored status in matters of trade and immigration.

In recent years Morya has gone from a grudging acceptance of the Charter to a fierce defense of it. Proud of their position as the military leader of the Quinumvirate, the Moryans have retained much of the savage culture of their ancestors. They are by far the most warlike of the "Charter Cities" and provide most of the military muscle when one of the cities is threatened.

While slavery is illegal in Dullens and frowned upon in Lapur and Khalani, Morya encourages the slave trade and many of the warriors sent to the arena are slaves. Morya is ruled by a warrior caste, the Equites (historically, those warriors wealthy enough to own a warhorse). The main classes of Morya are the Equites, the serfs (descendants of slaves with some native Moryan blood; technically free citizens, but so low in wealth and status that most of them must attach themselves to a noble house to survive) and slaves. The Equites control all commerce, government and religion in the city. The slaves work the fields and do all the scut-work such as street cleaning. The serfs usually hold positions such as clerks, merchants, physicians, scribes and so forth--they are generally far better educated and cultured than their noble masters, who scorn any art not related to war or farming. (Many Moryan nobles are illiterate and proud of it.) In recent years, due to the difficulty in mounting slave-raids, the serf population has been growing in size and influence. A widespread movement rose in the year 503 among the gladiators to free the slaves. Equestor Valarrian Kiyle agreed to listen to their proposals--in the end, agreeing that slavery was on the way out, promised to abolish all slavery at the end of three years. This has never been strictly enforced, but there is much less in the way of regular slave trade in Morya now.

Lacking the fertile soil and agricultural magics known to the Andorian kingdoms, Moryan landholders own immense tracts of plains, making up for quality with quantity. In Morya, land is status, and the nobles continually struggle to own as much as possible. Moryans are actually very capable farmers. It was they who discovered and introduced the concept of crop rotation to the south of Alastari. Despite the poorness of the land, they manage to export wheat, corn, barley and other grains at prices low enough to compete favorably with the imported Convincian produce. Morya also produces several varieties of cheap, moderately palatable wine. By far their most famous product is the exquisite toys made by Shendell and Co., a fellowship of former soldiers from another dimension, who came to Morya to invade, and ended up settling there in peace. Morya exports at reduced prices to the other Charter Cities, receiving in return beef and salt from Dullens, horses from Khalani and manufactured goods from Lapur. Though Moryan Equites control the finances of their businesses the actual trade is handled by serfs, as it is beneath the dignity of a noble to haggle.

The Moryan charioteers are still a feared and respected army on the plains, though ineffective in rough or forested terrain, and the army retains its edge with frequent raids. Unlike the tribes of Rocanis, who take captives mainly for honor and ransom, Moryans use their captives to swell the huge slave population needed to farm their vast fields. Since the Charter put an end to their raids on the cities nearest them, Morya has had to range further afield. Raids have become lengthy and expensive propositions. The most frequent targets have been Rocanis, Jhans and Sibikhas, Needless to say, this has not endeared Morya to the Delarquan Federation, nor has it endeared the Charter Cities to Rocanis. Relations with Sibikhas have recently improved, however, due to a recent spate of intermarriages and visits back and forth.

Though many Moryans look down on Dullens and Lapur, where the ancient noble classes have fallen into poverty and disrepair, they are wise enough to realize that having buffer cities between them and the objects of their raids is a good idea. Moryans get on better socially with the Vehan Khalani, who have maintained more of the old horse-culture in their modern society.

The arena in Morya began as a series of private slave-fights held between bored nobles and gradually grew to its present state. Free-born gladiators are a fairly recent phenomenon (in fact, one of the common rewards for warrior-slaves who achieved the Duelmastership was promotion to serf status).

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Published on: 2002-07-15 (1319 reads)

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