Tales from the Inner Sea
The Kingdom of Voya
Few of the nations and realms in the Inner Sea are regarded as poorly and with as much suspicion as the Kingdom of Voya. Many of the people of Voya are ethnically Armavine and the original inhabitants of this northerly region, but many more are comprised of it’s most recent inhabitants; The Stromovar. The Stromovarii were a huge tribe of barbarians who originated from colder and more harsh lands to the north west of the Inner Sea. A great migration of their peoples exploded from their original lands over 200 years previously, caused by a great tribal schism.The huge invasion swept down towards the Inner Sea, looking for new lands to conquer and settle. They fought the Shen in Northern Menetia but kept on moving (not liking Menetia too much), avoided the dwarf held fortresses in the Great Range and fought their way between the Dark Trolls in the Black Wastes and the Altai clans until they came to a warm, rich area of coastlands that made up the former Imperial province of Merolinden. This land was ripe for their taking, and in a brief and extremely bloody rampage, took the land and utterly crushed the resistance of the original civilized people.
Over the next 200 years until the present day, the Stromovarii renamed their new lands Voya (after the strongest clan within the tribe, and the ruling house) and created a powerful and intractable kingdom always watching for more lands to take and more people to conquer.The fact that the Altai to the north hold lands that the Voyans want has so far allowed other nearby lands to avoid all out war, but some believe that this situation may change in coming years. The capital city is called Voyatiel, holding 25,000 people.
The Kingdom is presently ruled by King Adilmar the second, a brooding warlord never at ease with total peace and seemingly committed to conquest and war. His iron gauntlet has Voya firmly by the throat and his powerful land forces are the instrument of his influence and formidable will. The population of Voya is split into 2 parts, with the original people being a civilized underclass limited to agriculture, soft crafts and labouring, whilst the Stromovarii are an overclass given to the military, hard crafts (weaponsmithing and metalworking are honoured) who tend to dominate the priesthood (though certainly not all religious positions). About 1 million make up the numbers of the underclass and 1.5 million make up the Stromovarii. The armed forces are exclusively Stromovarii except the small navy which recruits from civilized nobility, with all weapons banned under pain of death (both the culprits and their families) to the underclass.
The army of Voya is divided into heavy infantry and heavy cavalry (the elite), with all other Stromovarii males expected to form militias called “Tira” who have strong legal enforcement powers over the underclass and are tasked to defend Voya from interior threats at all times and exterior threats when requested. Women are honoured as lifegivers and hold surprising domestic power (most property is the responsibility of the female, allowing the male to be ready to fight). Women can elect to forgo family life and join all women fighting units sworn to Parang. These “Brides of Perang” are bound to chastity (though not celibacy if their partner is also a Parangian initiate), and are no less zealous in their defence of Voya and the King. Current armed force levels are 75,000 heavy infantry, 25,000 heavy cavalry and 5,000 Brides of Perang. Due to the formation of the Tira, a further 200,000 light infantry can be mustered in the case of extreme danger to the realm.
Voyan Stromovarii have acknowledged some civilized elements as useful, principally agriculture, but also the Colisseum and Chariot Races have proven to be popular as well, not unusual given the warlike and energetic nature of the Stromovarii. Overclass farmers have much more status than the civilized counterparts and tend to coordinate and rule like petty landlords over their oppressed neighbours. The civilized Voyan has a poor lot as a second class citizen at best in their former land, though Royal Favour can elevate an exceptional case to Overclass.
The Stromovarii still esteem and hold to their original customs and culture due to a deep seated sense of racial superiority over everyone else, and the males preference for beards and moustaches is still very much the style. Women and men both wear hair long, with the men holding their hair back in leathered ties given them when they come to manhood in their Initiate ceremony. The Merolindens dress much as they used to with hair cropped short for men.
One weakness the Stromovarii have is an intense dislike of the sea, and so they have a comparatively poor navy. Indeed, the Navy is the final refuge for the last of the Civilized Nobility. Their only limiter is that it is understood any mutiny or act of treason will see the transgressors entire family slain in the most public, lengthy and agonizing manner imaginable.
In matters of religion, Perang and Satrom the Storm God are the almost exclusive domain of the Overclass, with Sensu worshipped along the coast by the Underclass, Nerukata and Bumi-Bijiran followed by the inland Underclass. Sorcerors are held up as an example of the rot in the soft civilized cultures and are outlawed, being slain out of hand when encountered.
Slavery is practised, but nowhere near as much as it is in other lands. With the Underclass firmly kept in place with so few rights, there is not much to choose between the two. Slavery tends to be limited to an alternative to death, and is for life with no legal rights whatsoever.
Law and justice heavily favour the Overclass and is extremely punitive, with execution the most popular deterrent. Corporal punishment, heavy fines and slavery for life are lesser alternatives.
Voya has no allies locally, though there has been contact between them and the Tarmaki HorseLords (the arch rivals of the Altai), likely with a view to an alliance against the Altaic Clans. This is something that all peoples of the Inner Sea let alone the Altai could do without. Voyan attitudes to their neighbours are poor. The Principality of Calvia is regarded as a morally bankrupt city peopled with vermin and ruled by a decadent slattern, the Altai are cowardly horse archers with no redeeming features other than their horses and the Armavine Empire is a soft nation too weak to take back their lost lands. Padiha is seen as an irrelevant distraction to maybe conquer in the future once more dangerous foes have been subjugated. The Dark Trolls of the Black Waste are the only foes the Voyans have faced in battle that they respect and are wary of and large forts and defenses dot their western border to safeguard against these inhuman and formidable foes. The feelings on the Valheeni are that they are unknowable and so far there has been almost no contact between the two. Adilmar is no fool though, and has paid attention to the cautionary tales of what happened the last time the Valheeni went to war.