Monday, February 4, 2008

Centres of Culture II: The Western Coast (Part ii, The Western Coast)

Just north of the Bay Coast, the Western Coast marks the divide between warm, agrarian grasslands and hilly, rocky shield. Summers are warm and winters are cold, with distinct cool periods in between.

The peoples in this area, especially extending to the east, are generally put together in small villages, mostly ignored by larger kingdoms. Most of the area is under the control of the Four Kingdoms, but most people outside a short ride of the capitols have never seen a high noble.

The Four Kingdoms are a usually peaceful alliance comprised of three traditional patrilineal hereditary monarchies and one matrilineal monarchy. The capitol cities are, in fact, one metropolis built on the traditionally defined meeting of borders. The capitol was moved here with the signing of the Four Kingdoms Treaty.

The Four Kingdoms are Gallus, Poletia, Mercia, and Ferrad. Being easternmost, Ferrad extends further east than the cultural area marked on the map (the maps are coming, I promise), but is considered to be part of the Western Coast.

Gallus and Mercia both border directly on the coast, and are quite similar to Littoria and Calar in the south. Mercia's Queen, however, is anything but standard.

The matrilineal monarchy of Mercia arose as part of their interaction with the culture of the Icy Coast. Northern religion places the power associated with birth in the hands of the women, rather than the men as is the custom in the south. Mercia has officially adopted southern-style religion in the form of Sun-worship, but many people (the further north you go, the more there are) still worship northern gods.

Poletia reaches south in the direction of the Golden Interior (coming soon!), and is the most agrarian of the Kingdoms. Apart from the greater focus on agriculture, Poletia is fairly similar to the other kingdoms.

Ferrad, like Mercia, is torn between two cultures. The largest of the Four Kingdoms, it was originally founded in violent revolution from the former Kularian Empire. There will be more about Kulari in another post (being its own cultural boundary), but Ferrad has taken a language and mindset from being a part of this historical empire.

Where most of the Western Coast believes in formal agreements and formal shows of force, the Kularian Empire was founded on shadowy operations. This is not to say that these operations were evil, merely hidden. It is considered normal for leaders to lie and maneuver, making informal agreements and alliances in the background. It can be very difficult to follow for leaders from outside the former Empire.

North of Mercia is unclaimed lands. These lands are inhabited by small tribes who are no less civilized than those of the Four Kingdoms, but they lack an overarching government. They are, however, distinguished from the Four Kingdoms by their (supposed) propensity for war. Each tribe tests the others' strength, and this war is rarely lethal or absolute, though the Four Kingdoms believe these tribes to be savage.

Next time: The Icy Coast

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