by Jenorva the Drylander
The Delarquan Federation of southern Alastari has a population of more than
three hundred thousand sentient beings, mostly human. They belong to two empires
and numerous city-states, living in more than one hundred cities, towns, and
The human population of the Federation, like that of the southern "Free
Cities," consists mainly of tribes of fierce Rirorni plainsmen that have
migrated northward from the Rirorni Empire (usually after making a failed bid to
take over the Empire). Thus, each tribe at the time of its arrival in Alastari
was very aggressive and strong (just not quite as strong as the Empire's ruling
Hastok tribe). They came to Alastari because it is separated from the Empire by
natural barriers (the Shagornan Desert and the Silverwald Forest), allowing them
time to regain their strength without harassment from the south. Although each
city-state was founded by a different tribe, they have begun to coalesce into
larger groups, and will eventually form a truly unified nation. On that day, let
the Rirorni Empire beware!
The Delarquans (or Kannari, as they were historically known), like their
forefathers the Rirorni, are a brown-skinned people (hence the term "Dark"
Federation), with dark brown or black hair, and almond-shaped eyes of a brown or
amber hue. Their common tongue is Kannish, a dialect of the Rathiri (Rirorni)
language. Since migrating to Alastari, they have become somewhat intermixed with
shrewd blond merchants from the Skaithvarn peninsula across the Trier Sea,
muscular Norken slayers from the ancient and scattered clans, and the tall and
noble-featured soldier-folk from the remains of the Swordsman Empire. There are
also strong strains of high-orcish and elven (especially darkelven) in the
population, and lesser amounts of goblin, catfolk, and more obscure races.
However, the Rirorni blood predominates, making them very distinct from the
taller, blonder, paler, round-eyed people of northern Alastari.
The Kannari consider themselves warriors, taking great pride in their feuds,
raids, and conquests, and in their warlike history--although they are gradually
adopting the more civilized and productive ways of the north. Their land is
poor; the Federation must import food each year, while it exports crafted goods
(weapons especially), soldiers, and--paradoxically--scholars, as there are
famous universities in Jhans and Osksi, and on the island of Kolact. A major
caravan trail, the Great Eastern Route, branches in two as it crosses Alastari,
with one branch passing through the Andorian lands, and the other through
Delarquan territory. The Delarquan governments and merchants spend a great deal
of time and effort trying to get more caravans to take the southern route, as
they need the profits the caravans bring in order to buy food. Rivalry with the
Andorians over this issue has become extremely bitter. In addition, the northern
Delarquan cities--especially the Mordanti Confederation--have occasionally tried
to take more land, as they are tantalized by the rich farmland just a little bit
to the north of their borders.
It was to further these ends, in the year 430, the monarchs of the Osksi
Empire, the Mordanti Confederation, and the Kingdom of Talcama, as well as some
smaller Kannari city-states, met on Delarq Tor to sign the Charter of Destiny,
binding their realms (loosely) into a single entity. "Delarq" is an ancient form
of an Eyrian word meaning "enchanted" (the stones still glow faintly due to the
many arcane battles fought there). Delarq Tor is a tall, fortified outcropping
of the Rirorni Plain, which at that location is about one hundred fifty feet
higher than the adjacent Smoking Plain. The group of rulers that meets there
every year has come to be called the Crown Council, and their combined lands
were named after the meeting place. Thus, the Delarquan Federation was born.
Several of the rulers who drafted the Charter of Destiny were students of the
famous philosopher, Strigeron of Kolact, who taught that a society must be
designed to reward strength. Two laws based on Strigeron's theories were to have
a drastic effect on Delarquan society.
The first law, known as the Steel Mandate, stated that the warrior class
(above freemen and merchants and just below nobles) was accessible to any free
person who could pass a test of battle. As in the Rirorni Empire, the warrior
class enjoys tremendous legal rights and immunities, practically amounting to
the right to rampage unchecked over the persons and property of the lower
classes. But more importantly, it includes the right to own land, and thus to
vote on the various tribal issues that were not traditionally decided by the
rulers. Schools of martial arts immediately sprang up in every city, to teach
prospective warriors how to pass the combat test, and to help them maintain the
level of training required by law. The Steel Mandate effectively gave women the
right to vote (where they had previously been of low status and virtually
powerless), and provided them with the right and the means to defend themselves.
Today, about half the adult population of the Federation belongs to the warrior
class (though far fewer are actually landowners and thus voters).
The second revolutionary law in the Charter of Destiny was the Blood
Clemency, which grants freedom to any slave who kills his or her owner in a fair
fight. Huge numbers of slaves were freed the day the Blood Clemency took effect,
and the present-day Federation has only a small slave population (about four
percent). Some cities, particularly in the Osksi Empire, have claimed that a
slave-owner has the right to be represented by a champion in Blood Clemency
battles (this is debated every year by the Crown Council), but in most Delarquan
cities the law is interpreted in a straightforward manner. Today, most slaves in
the Federation are not particularly strong or determined, and they are owned by
extremely able warriors, who then lease their services. Still, each generation
sees fewer citizens willing to engage in this risky profession.
The first gladiatorial arena in Alastari was built in Mordant. Soon after the
Mordanti began training their young warriors in this manner, Mordant's sister
city of Niania also built an arena, and the lords of Osksi were not far behind.
It is said that Sheila Greywand founded her Alastari-wide system of arenas after
visiting Mordant and being impressed by the skill and ferocity of those first
gladiators. Delarquan cities that now have Duelmasters arenas are: Bonsur,
Cliffhome, Delarq Tor, Illis, Jhans, Jhelum, Kaltos, Kolact, Mordant, Niania,
Osksi, Rodeki, Sibikhas, Sunset, Talcama, Transel, Tricorus, Trocar, Valamantis,
and Xochithlan. On Lady Greywand's enchanted Isle of the Eye, the Federation is
represented by the Darkholm arena.
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