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The Delarquan Federation: An Overview

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 villages.

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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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1741 reads)

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