Cinera

Cinera

Directly north of the Republic it shares a border from Franlius to Astraea
along the north fork of the Invex river. It is a hotbed of intrigue and
divided loyalties as ambitious warlords rise and fall. Cinera is a nation
that thrives in the atmosphere of constant conflict and warfare. Life there
is hard and rough, as death always lurks around the next corner. The warrior
class is praised for its might, a status they protect jealously. There are
extreme divisions between warriors and commoners, who are considered little
more then slaves. The few citizens that relocate outside of Cinera are
usually fleeing from some intrigue or dishonor that would cost them their
lives.

Cineran Religion

The major deity of Cinera is Ereal, the same Ereal that was introduced to
Iridine during the Age of Kings. Priests of Ereal are the only ones,
foreigner or otherwise, who are inviolate in Cinera. Even the most feared
warlord does not enjoy such protection. Attacking or in any way harming any
Erealite will incur a quick sentence of death. Over the last fifty years, an
independent priesthood has formed, one that was quickly denounced in Iridine,
but which has grown nonetheless. Like the society it lives in, it is very
hierarchical, prone to violence and ruthlessness. Many traveling priests
have compared them to the followers of Junia Gracious. Unlike Iridine's
Soldiers of Ereal, they are recognized in Cinera, are organized, and enjoy a
great deal of wealth. The last Iridine-Cineran war has also made these two
religious groups deadly enemies. The Cineran faction of the cult of Ereal
continuously casts covetous eyes towards Iridinian Monlon and its temple
complex, where secret artifacts are rumored to be stored. Fortunately, they
have so far not been able to convince any warlords of the necessity to claim
the modest fishing village.

Cineran Appearance

Cinerans of pure blood tend to be olive-skinned like their Iridinian
cousins. A few have paler skin, and as for those of mixed blood, the variety
is dictated by the lineage. All Cinerans almost without fail are dark haired.
Fair-haired men and women are considered to be weaker and are discriminated
against. Cinera's survival-of-the-fittest mentality has bred a nation that
tends to be taller and more muscular then average. On the other hand,
Cinerans also tend to not live as long as the denizens of neighboring states.

Cineran Culture

Cinerans worship strength, boldness and audacity. They pitilessly prey on
the weaknesses of others, tell insulting jokes with rabid frequency, and are
considered loud and arrogant by most foreigners who encounter them. Any
Cineran who isn't pressed into virtual slavery because of the status of his
parents or as payment for debt and dishonor, usually follows the warrior's
path. All Cinerans, men and women, know how to fight to some degree. Indeed,
the only way a woman can be recognised and allowed some degree of freedom is
if she can fight on her own. When Cinerans marry, the new couple will have
a contest with the fighting-dirk. This is a widely-honored ritual in Cinera,
even though deaths are frequent. If the woman wins, she will gain a measure
of respect from her mate. If she loses, however, she can expect a lifetime
of servitude to the man who now owns her.

It is important to note here the singular role the fighting-dirk plays in
Cineran culture. All Cinerans carry at all times on their person, a small
blade of some sort. If many of them are proficient with the weapon, even
more are lethal with it. Every single Cineran male believes himself to be
an expert with the blade.

Relationships of power are the basis of the Cineran society. All Cinerans
either own or are owned. However, the lowliest peasant in Cinera is granted
some land. This parcel may be ridiculously small, but none can take it from
him (unless by death). This man may own his piece of land, but he almost
always is owned in turn by a more powerful man. This second man owns his own
land (not always bigger) and the first man, but is in turn owned by a third.
This hierarchy permeates the whole of Cinera until the level of the more
important warlords. These wealthy individuals usually own vast expanses of
land, and countless men obey them.

There are many ways ownership comes about in Cinera. Foreigners who do not
seek the protection of a citizen can freely be made slaves by any Cineran.
Children of a Cineran and a non-Cineran are considered slaves. This stigma
remains on the child unless certain conditions are met: someone buys the
child his right to be Cineran (which usually means this benefactor becomes
the new owner of the child), the child flees Cinera, the child kills a
Cineran to take his lands and rights. If the child follows the third course,
he must defend his new acquisition for a year before being recognized. Women
are always owned by their father, husband, or protector (male). The only
exception to this is if the woman proves herself (ritual fight of marriage)
— at that time she can be considered equal to her man, although never
superior.

If one Cineran incurs a debt to another, he can be forced to serve this
man if the debt cannot be paid. In duels, if the opponent is not killed, the
loser can either be made slave or owned by the winner. Whether one or the
other depends on the previous status of the man and the clemency of the
winner. A victorious Cineran can in fact lose his status if his decision is
perceived as unjust by his peers. Matters of honor are very important to
Cinerans, and they are very fond of duels.

In this warlike society, feats of arm are a person's greatest assets.
Cinerans show little patience for the professions that require long
studies. Healers, herbalists, scholars and their likes are seldom Cinerans.
But where disorder reigns, there is opportunity. Thieves are common all over
Cinera but they are more often then not soldiers who happen to lift a few
purses while engaged in more martial pursuits. The law favors illegal
activities of all kind. Crimes and wrongs are settled with champions. The
right cause is that of the victorious champion, for it is said that Ereal
will guide their hand.

Cineran Enterntainment

Cinerans are typically described as the brutes of the world; outside of the
barbarous lands they are the most well-known for their brutality,
slovenliness and open attitude towards ferocious cruelty. These aspects
partially disguise to the outside world their society's complex social
fabric, attitudes, and mores.

The Cinerans upper classes, the warlords, generally find their amusement
in genteel pastimes. Much as the Iridine nobility do, they hunt for game,
place wagers on trivial matters, and vie for political power. Many of their
more public amusements are curtailed, however, out of security concerns; after
all, the only way to assume a noble's lands and titles are through his death.
This does not lead to a very secure life for those nobles, and their
enjoyments reflect this fact.

It is a fact that everyone in Cinera is the slave of someone else; the lower
class, enslaved to the Cineran warlords, find their enjoyment in far more
mundane activities. Topping the list is the perennial duo of drinking and
gambling. Cineran drinking habits account for a large chunk of a man's
reputation; an inability to hold one's liquor deals a serious blow to one's
esteem about town. Similarly, those who haven't got the ability to sit down
with a pair of dice and lose, quite graciously, several year's worth of
earnings are viewed with disdain. While puffing on his foul-smelling pipe the
Cineran peon will often abuse women and small animals, discuss at lengths his
upcoming attempt to levy an army and conquer Iridine, or practice new and
innovative techniques with the dirk.

One more unique facet of this strata of society lay in the curious Screnaca
Coranadin, which translates roughly as "The Dance of Drizzling Blood". Men
(and occasionally women) consent, for the sake of honor, entertainment, or
pure drunkeness, to bind their right hands together. Holding dirks with their
left hand, they proceed to strike at each other. The first to draw blood on
the other person three times is declared the winner. Entire industries thrive
around this form of entertainment, which the warlords detest with such
loathing it is almost impossible to believe they share common blood with the
lower classes.

Cineran Cities

CAIR CORADON

Capital city. In the central plains of Cinera, suddenly rises
a rock formation. This natural anomaly rises 200 feet straight up before
becoming once more, a flat plateau. On top of the rock formation the fortress
of Coradon was built long ago. It has never been taken during times of
war, although it often has changed hands with the nation's infighting. Along
with the fortress stands the imperial complex and the buildings of the High
Council. In the plains below has grown a vast and sprawling city. Every day
Cinerans come to Cair Coradon to swell its numbers.

ANORAD

Second city in importance in Cinera and most populated. It is home
to great festivals, each more warlike then the next. Anorad is the closest
city to the Iridine border and for this reason it is also a very important
military center. Recently it has also become home of the Cineran branch of
the Ereal cult.

CINERA

Small fishing village on the west coast. It is the legendary birth
place of the first emperor of Greater Cinera. Traditionally, all new leaders
of the nation go to Cinera for the ritual crowning. For this reason there is
a very rich and opulent sanctuary in this otherwise minor settlement.

CAIR CAINEN

Fortress town in eastern Cinera. It was originally built to
act as a first line of defense against the Kelestians and Iridinians. It
serves that purpose still, even with diminished numbers.

MARKAD

Cineran sea port. It is home of the greatest slave market in the
known world. It has gained a reputation over the centuries as the most
dangerous port, indeed the most dangerous city, the world over. All manner
of goods and people are said to be found in Markad at the right price.

Cineran Politics

Formerly the Empire of Greater Cinera, the nation of Cinera is but a shadow
of its former self, despite recent land acquisitions. The King, and under him
the High Council — a constantly changing body of leading warlords — rule
the country ruthlessly. It is the admitted goal of the Council to return
Cinera to its golden days when it ruled as the greatest nation in the world.
One of the obstacles in this quest is the Council itself, which is too
occupied with its own power struggles to consider seriously elevating the
King, let alone another warlord, to the status of Emperor.

Warlords in Cinera rise and fall, but precious few gain supremacy for any
extended period of time. Cinerans and foreigners alike agree that only two
things might one day unite Cinera: the ascension of a new Emperor or the
threat of a major invasion.

The High Council

The leaders of Cinera are found in the High Council, a body ranging from 150
to 200 individuals. They are almost all warlords and their most trusted
advisors and lieutenants; some priests have also managed to be recognized as
a member of the Council. To gain such recognition, one must present himself
before the assembly and ask to be counted among their numbers. If none object
(a situation that rarely occurs, and only through an unusual fit of boredom),
the supplicant is allowed in. If the man demanding entrance also has a
protector strong enough, he will be accepted. If another objects, however,
the result is a duel. If the supplicant is victorius, he is allowed to enter
the High Council, while the loser usually is killed.

King of Cinera.

The current head of the High Council is the self-proclaimed King of Cinera.
Once only a warlord among many, he was able to rise above the rest. Showing
surprising statesmanship, impressive military and combat skills, and
sufficient wealth, he was able to impose his presence over his adversaries.
He has now been leading the nation for 20 years and is only too happy to
promote its violent and divisive side. Under him, the High Council went from
being seperated in two parties to being seperated into five parties. Upon
graduating from the rank of warlord, this man announced he was to be
addressed simply, and only, as King. This happened to be a practice used
only by the Emperor in Cinera's greater days. Even though he is far from
being the unanimous choice as leader, the King sits as firmly on his seat
today he did twenty years ago.

Political Factions

  • The Imperial Party

A third of all the High Council are members of the Imperial party. The
leading figures of this party are second only to the King. Its goal, as
suggested by the name, is to seek out and find a man worthy enough to be
named Emperor of Cinera and lead the nation to great accomplishments. Once
so powerful they controlled half the Council, they received a serious blow
two decades ago when a single member broke rank. One among them managed to
elevate himself in such a way that he could be independent of his party,
that man became the King. The result of this was to see the Imperial party
fragment and its voice, although still heard, lose dominance.

  • The War Party

Fully another third of the High Council are members of the War party. They
profited much from the Imperial party loss when they saw their already
considerable numbers grow once more. These are the men who contribute most
to give Cinera its reputation. Among Cinerans, these individuals are often
considered even more brash than the typical Cineran. They have a passion for
battle, one they fuel at any opportunity. Luckily for Cinera and the rest of
the world, by their very nature, the members often find themselves fighting
each other. During the last Iridine-Cineran war an alliance of most of the
War party's warlords, along with the Anorad party, attacked Iridine. Their
defeat has helped restore the balance with the Imperials.

  • The Anorad Party

Named after the Cineran city of Anorad where their power base is found. They
are the political wing of the new cult of Ereal. Their membership is still
small, but slowly gaining momentum. During the last war, their loss was in
number while their influence increased. It was widely said after the Cineran
defeat that things might have worked differently had the Anoradian leaders
been heeded. Warlords of this party all have a priest among their advisors.

  • The White-Cineran Party

They could also be termed the pro-Iridinian party. They are a small group,
mostly based around the south-eastern corner of Cinera, near Astraea. They
remember their roots and seek to maintain some contact with their Iridinian
cousins. When Cinera moved south, almost all of the White-Cineran party
moved aside and refused to fight even though they were the closest to the
border. Some rumors even suggest they help fight against their own
countrymen, that remains to be proven. They have incurred the enmity of most
other parties and only their skills in arms have kept their numbers alive.

  • The Blue Wheel Party

The color represents peace, the wheel symbolizes change. At last count they
only had four members in the High Council. Their opinions and views are
generally drowned in the general clamor of the more powerful parties. They
want peace and stability, they want to bring wealth in Cinera but not at the
price of war. They are generally regarded as insane or eccentrics. They are
modestly wealthy and so can sometimes be of use to the other parties. For
this reason they are still in existence. How long this lasts some say,
depends on whether or not the War party can look up long enough to take
notice of them. The very rare scholar in Cinera usually comes from this
party.

Important Cinerans

CENOBUS

Largest land owner in Cinera, he is generally considered the foremost member
of the Imperial party. He once thought the Imperial dream would be realised,
but the man who was to be King betrayed him. He is influential enough to be
protected from the King's enmity but as the years accumulate, that protection
is dwindling.

AMERTON

Warlord of the War party, Amerton has recently suffered two setbacks. The
first when his brother Rogias left for Remath, the second when the Cinerans
were pushed out of Iridine in the most recent conflict. His skill with the
fighting-knife is becoming legendary.

RESTANEN

Important member of the High Council until a year before the most recent war
with Iridine. While preparing for that war, he mysteriously disappeared, and
his body has never been found. His named is still mentioned frequently,
leading most to believe he still walks the land. If so he is a power to
reckon with for he used to command the loyalty of Cinera's elite legions.

ORIEN

Son of a disgraced warlord named Sacathos, his position was in grave danger
among the War party until he made his move. He quietly disappeared from the
High Council for a while, when he reappeared he had on his left a priest of
the Anorad order of Ereal. Since then he has quickly risen to give the party
a strong voice in the Council.

MANEUS

The White-Cineran himself. Maneus is uncontested leader of his party and has
great respect on both sides of the border. His temperament is much more that
of an Iridinian then that of a Cineran. He has moved his powerbase as far to
the east as he could, to be far from the intrigues of the Council. The
tradeoff has been constant skirmishes with the neighboring Kelestians.
Maneus is readily recognizable for his blond hair and beard, both
uncommon traits among the swarthy Cinerans.

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