Koltovaere

This barbarian kingdom occupies a long stretch of land running hundreds of kilometres from the tip of the Snag Peninsula all the way south to the arid hills of the Fated Bay that leads to the Vardonne Straits. It is a nation much given to war and almost eternal civil discord, with there having been at least 4 changes of dynasties and ruling families within the last 150 years alone and many different nobles and warlords vying for the throne. The current King is a man called Arbatoth Tenkiller Machand who’s own grandfather slew the previous dynasties king in battle and who fully expects some other rival to try and do the same to him. The population of 600,000 is well used to war and strife and is divided on many different clanlines with many obscure alliances and treaties who have many differences except the ability to hold grudges for hundreds of years and the grim determination to resort to violence as the first and best recourse to disputes and grievances. The capital moves with every dynastic change as custom often holds that the utter destruction of the losing families powerbase and clan occurs with the new capital moving to the victors lands; currently it is the Machand Family stronghold of Amoch, a grim forbidding fortress city perpetually on the defensive.

Geographically speaking, it is a harsh land of light forests, craggy hills and the occasional low mountain range, along with bogs and marshland. The southerly parts of this land are dry and arid, with settlements tending to cluster around rivers and any water source of any size.The winds and storms that make it this far from the Limitless Ocean keep the climate wet, but with poor soil the agricultural yield is much less than other Western lands.

The image of the proud, tattooed and painted merciless deathseeking warrior is how most people view a typical Koltovaeran and it seems the people of this brutal land are happy to indulge and perpetuate this view. As a people they are notably larger and stronger than other peoples, but there is an element of natural selection within this, for their society and ways winnows out the weak and the frail with natural infant mortality and the custom of abandoning seemingly frail infants and children. They have their own harsh and barking language, which has a simple written form, though those who come into contact with other cultures tend to pick up other tongues easily (especially curses and insults unsurprisingly).

Religion within Koltovaere is a further cause of divide with many holding to the old ways of the Shamanistic forefathers and others embracing the Gods, (Perang and Satrom are extremely popular here) with violence often breaking out between the 2 belief systems. Since followers of both can be found within the same settlements on occasion, this doesn’t help civic order. The clergy is outwith the Orthodoxy, and extremely bloody, some reputedly holding to old barbarous traditions they followed before the gods were adopted. Unpleasant tales of potential sentient sacrifice abound and will not go away and the priesthood of all deities (Siha and Sensu apart) tends to be well armed and violently evangelical.

The military is informal with Sworn Men being the main fighting class and bands of enthusiastic Nameseekers making up the numbers. Each warrior yearns to claim a Praise Name, awarded to him by his overlord or peers; a Praise Name marks one out as being special, a warrior first amongst the hordes and warbands. Troop quality is either green or veteran, with little middle ground, and the use of 2 handed weapons and javelins being popular with armour being whatever the warrior can get their hands on and keep by main force. Mercenaries from foreign lands can and do find work here but can often become undone with the swiftness of alliance shifts and the lack of understanding that comes from being a non local. Koltovaere has great resources of iron, copper and tin and makes trade of these things with outsiders, and their weapons are well made with the emphasis on Greataxes, Greatswords and other grievous weapons. Mercenaries are also a great export as well, with the ending of each conflict and feud resulting in the losers who survive departing their lands, often to leave Koltovaere forever.

Culturally speaking, Koltovaere has music, dance and some art but it is largely simplistic, bombastic and often comes back to matters of war and battle. Literacy is low, even for Initiates and socially the culture thrives on machismo and is very male dominated. Rare women can rise and become more than a wife and bearer of children, but she faces a lifetime of perpetually proving herself against the tide of misogyny; small wonder that the adventurous Koltovaeran woman is apt to leave this war ravaged land and find her own way in more enlightened lands.

Their enemies (not counting each other) are the lesser kingdoms and realms that lie between Koltovaere and the other notable kingdoms, and the absence of any meaningful naval presence means little contact with Bassur. The last time warriors from Koltovaere went to Uleywyn was about 80 years previously, when they were massacred in what some survivors dubbed the Battle of “Nothing but bloody arrows and trees”. Vardonne lies several hundred kilometres to the west and the Orc, monster and savage infested lands between have discouraged land contact between the two, though there is careful sea trade.

In short, Koltovaere is a barbarous, insular and civil war wracked land, unlikely to become any more than that until a truly strong and forward thinking warlord unites the people, keeps a lid on the intra tribal grudge based warfare and lives long enough to create a proper realm; as Klytes of Armarissa once said “There are colonies of fleas in a Voyan armpit that have more unity than that lot”.

Koltovaere

Tales from the Inner Sea AndyGlen