|The Šarratum Circle|
Motto: Until The End
National Anthem: "The Final Apex"
|Official Language(s)||Common, Šarratian|
|Cecaelian Emperor||Vahagn I|
The Šarratum Circle is a large grouping of cultures and societies, located on a series of islands within Lake Yaju in the south of Higashi. These peoples share a common trait in their language, with all of its member societies speaking a variant of Šarratian. The other common trait shared with all of them is their primary isolation from the rest of the world, with limited to no contact outside of the Circle, meaning that various societies may share traits with each other within the Circle. Besides these two shared characteristics and traits which may be shared between a small number of them, however, the Šarratian Nations, as they are called, are varied, with different forms of organization and culture, though they can be split into two primary groups. They are grouped together as one nation by most of the world, however, because they typically act on a large scale as one, and come together against outsiders. This has resulted in a cultural misunderstanding, as most citizens of the Šarratian Nations view themselves as belonging to a given tribe or group, while the rest of the world sees them as a single entity. The Circle is mostly isolationist, with largely closed borders and a lack of information or action from the inside reaching the outside, but maintain diplomats in several other countries, though these are normally forgotten due to their general lack of action in affairs.
The Šarratian peoples lived on the islands for an undetermined time before the evolution of the Circle as a country in any form. They are thought to have been helped in their crossing of the lake by the cecaelia, although for many years they had no relations with the cecaelia beyond some rare shamans or village wisemen who would communicate with them by chance. The relative protection afforded by the lake, and their distance from the militaristic northern countries, gave them ample time to develop, and also provided a catalyst for their vastly different culture and later isolationist policies in order to preserve that culture.
The first signs of organized societies beyond tribes appeared in the first century AD, when a number of societies begin expanding outwardly. The most notable of these, the Khimayan Rakhate, would survive long after the era of the small tribes was gone, becoming a major influential state in the Šarratian Empire. The Khimayans were ruled by the rakh, a title given to the most respected warrior and general, and were highly militaristic, conquering the largest swathe of the Circle before the Consolidation War, and were known for their large naval force.
In the year 422 AD, a small city-state known as Šarrakkad emerged near the center of the Circle, not extremely powerful militarily, but with well-trained warriors that allowed it to defend itself from attack during its growth. Its presence, and rapid growth, alarmed a number of the warlords and rakhs in the Circle, and tensions grew, while smaller tribal groups began raids on the larger states, which were preoccupied with their rivals.
In February of 441 AD, with the collapse of the rakhate that held the islands to the west of Šarrakkad, the smaller tribes, conglomerating into one military force known as the United Army gained access to large weapons stores, and greater recruitment power, conglomerating into a multiethnic horde, and suddenly posed a very major threat to the larger city-states. Attempts were made to cut off their supplies, and many tactics were attempted to prevent the outbreak of mass war. For a time, they were delayed by an alliance of several larger rakhates, known as the Grand Rakhate Alliance, and the Army's collapse seemed near, but in November of that year, the combined army assaulted multiple islands near their holdings, and the Consolidation War broke out.
The Consolidation War lasted nearly fifteen years, and is considered the greatest internal conflict in the history of the lake. For the first five, the major states fought a defensive war against the united army, with only the Khimayan Rakhate abstaining. However, during the third year, Šarrakkad began its own assaults, taking large swathes of the major states' territory, and clearly attempting to emerge as the dominant power. During the fourth and fifth years, Šarrakkad's strength waned and they became more focused on holding what they had gained, while the united army was finally pushed back. For the next two years, the united army barely held on, as the major powers divided up most of its land, in between breaking alliances and begin to fight each other. As the war seemed to be winding down, some looked to gain more land before the end. In 452 AD, an invasion was made of the Khimayan Rakhate, and they entered the war for the first time.
With the Khimayans' entrance, the major powers were divided by attacks to either front, and the Šarrakkadians took advantage of this by allying themselves with the united armies and assaulting the larger states' directly. Caught by surprise, the great powers began to crumble, and the next three years consisted of a two-front war with very different results on both fronts. The eastern front was a devastating war to the major powers, as they attempted to hold onto their land, though they did manage to do damage to the invaders as they went. On the other end of the spectrum, the western war, which started out with a rout by the Khimayans, got progressively better, as a coup in the Rakhate divided the Khimayans, and they were forced to the defensive. By 455, the western front was considered to be under control, though not a finished war, and a switch on the eastern front to an entirely defensive war allowed the major powers to divert more forces to the west, pushing the Khimayans back, and cutting deep into their original territory. The western front then received the full force of the major powers' forces, and Šarrakkad and its allies were pushed back, though they held on. With an attempted military coup in Šarrakkad, the war suffered a temporary but major lapse, and Šarrakkad found itself in dire straits.
However, in the final year and a half of the war, the tides changed. Šarrakkad, in an impressive turn of strategy, allied itself with the Khimayan Khanate in the name of defeating the major powers, and the result was the destruction of the major powers. The Khimayans were heavily damaged enough that the newfound superpower of Šarrakkad absorbed them diplomatically, and Šarrakkad became the most powerful state in the Circle.
In the later first century, Šarrakkad's power became less absolute, as its military dwindled, and it lost a number of battles to other forces. The Khimayan Khanate remained loyal, but by 1100 AD, Šarrakkad's hold was crumbling, and it finally dissolved in the early 1200s, when a number of other states were approaching its size.
In 1207, the scene was ripe for another to rise to power, and Hasyjing, which would later be named Rosemar, took that role. A provincial capital under the rule of Šarrakkad, when Šarrakkad's power crumbled it became a free state, and powerful. Its military power was great, due to the discovery of gunpowder, and many innovative uses thereof, by Tegʰ'raṣṣi. Hasyjing was also known for being the first homocecaelian-ruled state in the Circle, as the cecaelia had only just begun greater relations with humans. Hasyjing was given power over a number of other states through treaties, and took Šarrakkad easily. The Khimayan Rakhate, rebelling against the new rule, was coerced into joining Hasyjing's new Šarratian Empire, which had a senate believed to be the predecessor to the Devanun, but maintained a degree of autonomy.
The Šarratian Empire grew steadily, taking in large territories during the next two centuries. It expanded mostly southward, taking territory straight to the southern ocean, and eastward, occupying some swathes which reached to the sea to the east, though powerful warrior peoples kept expansion in check there to a degree.
During this time, the Khimiyan Rakhate came under the leadership of Çerıbıhan, a scion of the royal house of the Khimiyans, who had been trained in Hasyjing as heir presumptive of the Empire before the late birth of a direct heir in 1430 AD. Displeased by his ousting from the line, Çerıbıhan declared that unless he was put on equal footing with the heir as joint emperors of the Šarratian Empire, he would secede from the Empire with all of the lands and incomes of the Khimiyan Rakhate. When his requests were denied, his attempts at secession were met with the armies of imperial troops to enforce Hasyjing's rule, and rather than standing down, he vowed to make good on his word with war.
The first of the Šarro-Khimiya Wars began, the Secession War, a short but highly significant rebellion which would spark a long series of conflicts. The occupation of the Rakhate proved to be a mistake on the part of the Emperor, as the war not only taxed the Empire heavily and caused many deaths, but turned out worsening the situation. In the end, the Empire's tolls proved too much a cost, and the Rakhate was allowed to secede. Whereas Çerıbıhan had at first been content with the lands traditionally within the Rakhate's territory, with the war he asserted his dominance over many provinces of the Empire which reported to the Rakhate but were not part of it, and through invasions claimed large territories north of the lake. Over the course of the war decades, the Rakhate had also invaded other countries as it grew in power, dominating much of the land between the neck of Higashi and the lake, and becoming a smaller empire in its own right.
After the halt of the war, a six-month negotiating process began, ending in the recognizing of the Rakhate as a separate state by the Empire. However, upon his arrival into Hasyjing, the Emperor was assassinated by his third son, who had recently become heir after the deaths of his two elder brothers in the war. Taking the throne, Aiy'tre Mandavi declared the treaty to be null and inconsequential, and only two months after the treaty had been finalized, and little over a year since the war had stopped, his agents near the border assaulted the Rakhate by night, taking them by surprise as news had yet to reach them of the emperor's assassination. Most of the garrisons were drinking, as the passing of the emperor's party into Hasyjing meant that there were no known risks to the Rakhate's safety. Radıroir, the capital city of the Rakhate, was breached before reports could be made of the army's approach, and it was burned to the ground. As troops marched from the nearby garrisons, the emperor's brother, overruling the wiser general, opted to attempt complete capture of the city, and in a short skirmish he was slain. With the general taking command again, the army retreated into the lake, burning the boats of the foe so as to prevent their being followed. Çerıbıhan, realizing an open war would be too risky at that point but confident in his pride, desired to commandeer boats from other cities and give chase, but even this proved unfeasible, as the powder reserves in the city had exploded due to the heat, rendering his troops low on ammunition. Robbed of his ammunition, he was forced to be satisfied with assaults on outposts, keeping Aiy'tre aware that Çerıbıhan was not giving up.
The next year, when his forces seemed fully recovered enough to invade successfully, whereas before the Secession War's tolls had kept him from pushing the invasion any further, the Emperor sent a large force of men into the Rakhate, with the intention of capturing Radıroir, which was beginning to be rebuilt, or killing Çerıbıhan, either of which would provide a foothold for a continued invasion, with the ultimate goal of incorporating the entirety of the grown Rakhate into the Empire. Aware that Çerıbıhan was not expecting peace to last forever, Aiy'tre waited patiently, until the Rakhate was involved in skirmishes to the north, and paid spies to tell him the positioning of troops. The Traitor's War took place to the direct south of Radıroir, and easily cut through the unsuspecting troops stationed at the border and military towns therein, decimating the garrisons and taking many prisoners of war. At a village south of Radıroir, however, they were met with a surprisingly well-fortified defense consisting of multiple towns filled with large forces. Çerıbıhan had foreseen a second invasion, and with his own double agents had discovered that the skirmishes to the north weren't as serious as previously thought, but merely a diversion. Repelled by the fortifications, a foolish continued attempt at invasion resulted in a decisive defeat of the Empire's forces by the better-prepared Khimiyans, and the Empire was sufficiently battered so as to not be prepared for another war with the Rakhate for many years.
Enraged by his failure to reconquer the Rakhate,the jingoistic Emperor Aiy'tre was restrained by the Devanun from attempting war again, because of his abysmal failure before and his tendency to act as a loose cannon. He was mostly imprisoned towards the later end of his life, under the pretense of retirement, and his son ruled in his place as a well-groomed ruler controlled by the Devanun. This continued for multiple generations, until 1554, when Raiastyn Mandavi, the great-grandson of Aiy'tre, whose father continued to rule after he turned senile because the Devanun thought Raiastyn too rebellious, declared his father unfit to rule and assumed power, disbanding the Devanun and transforming the Empire into one where the Emperor's power was tempered only by the power of the nobles' coalitions. The Devanun would not be seen again until its next incarnation centuries later.
Raiastyn, wary of the little tolerance the people would have in early years for too drastic a temperance in the more powerful emperor, acted wisely and did not make many waves after his disbanding of the Devanun. Only four years after his ascension, however, he died of a plague, as did his newborn son and his brother-in-law. His nephew took up the throne, marrying Raiastyn's wife, whose beauty was legendary, despite laws forbidding this. Having been nearly killed by the plague, historians widely agree that this emperor was insane because of damage to his mind. He initiated the Three Šarro-Khimiya Wars, a series of invasions by both countries. At the end of the invasions, the Empire had become the more powerful of the two and was the undisputed victor, but it was a pyrrhic victory, leaving the Empire with a devastating death toll. His efforts nearly brought both countries to their knees, and only tyrannic policy and corruption in the nobles kept the emperor in power until his death.
After the emperor's death in 1579, an unsympathetic people reluctantly welcomed his lackwit son, Sermain Prionstil to the throne. With the cecaelian blood in him very weak, the new emperor had been committed to the clergy at a young age to keep him from inheriting, and his mother had hoped to remarry. However, the nobles, who had decided that Raiastyn's reforms had clearly been for the worse and wished to restore the emperor's status to its previous diminished state, guided Sermain to claim the throne despite being a priest of Ajjagar, and he became the first and last priest-emperor of the Šarratian Empire. His reign was surprisingly smooth, as despite the weak state of the Empire no attacks came from the Rakhate. A plague which killed thousands including the rakh preoccupied the Khimiyans for most of Sermain's rule, and after the succession had been decided, the new rakh felt too insecure to risk war. An assassin, which would not be traced decisively until much later, was sent instead, and in the nineteenth year of his reign, Sermain was killed. The celibate emperor left no heir, and while the Mandavi family debated over which of them should be his successor, the nobles rebelled in a coup d'état led by Elgador Tinimrath, head of the highest noble family to protest against the puppet status of the emperors. With the support of the military, who were happier with their pay coming from a single source, rather than multiple sources which sometimes disagreed, he assumed the throne, and ended the Homocecaelian Dynasty of the Empire, though that would later be reinstated with the Circle.
In 1607, Elgador, whose reign had until then been plagued by raids on the Khimiyan front, went to war with the Rakhate again, at almost the same time they finished preparations for an all-out assault on the Empire. It was called the Threefold War, because as the two were at war, a faction to the east of the lake, an ethnic region with peoples in both the Rakhate and the Empire, saw its chance at a long-awaited rebellion, and attempted to steal land from both, provoking an alliance between the two, who easily put down the rebellion.
This alliance provided an era of peace, and lasted until 1717, by which time, without the wars to devastate the countryside, both nations were at their heights economically. Ecthımıs, the Khimiyan rakh at the time, was the first direct descendant of Çerıbıhan to rule the country since his ancestor, and his pride in his bloodline drove him to wish for the destruction of the Empire. A team of assassins from him eradicated the entirety of the Tinimraths, leading to the Bloody Succession, at first just a disagreement on the heir that became a civil war. Ecthımıs declared that, as Çerıbıhan's line had never been formally removed from the succession, he was the true heir. His pride proved his downfall, however, as the nobles realized his hand in it. Following this, the civil war spilled over into the most brutal of the wars between the Empire and the Rakhate, ending in the destruction of most of the Rakhate, and the death of Ecthımıs, extinguishing all known members of Çerıbıhan's line. The Bloody Succession ended the two nations' rivalries, as the devastated Rakhate in the end made peace with the weakened and unstable Empire, both of their leaders gone. The two merged to restabilize the Empire, but lost most of its land to the north. During this recombining, the capital of Hasjing was renamed Rosemar, and as the only nobles in the succession lines of both nations, the Aelroy Dynasty began.
The government of the Circle is very complex in its nuances, though at its heart it is firmly a plutarchy, ruled by a select wealthy few, and with the upper classes possessing the majority of the wealth. While the inner ring and the few major cities are rather strongly connected, they still enjoy relatively free self-government, though with the national government never entirely forgotten. The outer ring is more provincial, with many of the inhabitants of the smaller islands not even realizing that they are part of a greater nation. Most of the ruling class inhabits the inner ring, although a number of the Devanuni have private residences in remote locations within the outer ring.
The nobility, who enjoy great power in terms of influencing the government, are organized according to a complex system based on their wealth. The Circle's government is that of a plutarchy, the implementation of both plutocracy and oligarchy at the same time. In this form of government, rule is restricted to the wealthy, and a small group of individuals holds the power. In the Circle, a distinct system has emerged for the structure and perpetuation of the government. It is rather simple, yet unique from the governments of other nations. Šarratian titles are granted based on the merit of wealth, with specific numbers as to how many of each rank of nobility there may be. The fifty wealthiest in the Circle are granted the title of Hyor, the highest rank of nobility, the next one hundred the rank of Kraes, and the next one hundred the rank of Seir, the lowest rank of nobility. If person's wealth rises or lowers beyond a certain point, then they can bypass the ranking system and be raised or lowered to a different rank, changing the number of nobles. For humans, they must be extremely wealthy to be granted a noble title, even if they are within the required number of wealthiest people, and the other non-cecaelian races cannot become nobles at all. Homocecaelians, even if they have no true rank, are treated as nobility, and housed at the palaces of any whom they call upon, unless they are specifically disgraced by the government. These nobles are organized into houses based on their familial ties, and these houses have varying degrees of influence based on the ranks of their members. Members of powerful houses with no title themselves receive a title based on their position within the house and the house's position, and are respected nonetheless, although a wealthy Hyor is accorded more respect than a Hyor by relation, and so forth.
While the nobles are powerful and influential, many technically hold no governmental position. The official governmental authority, at the lowest level of the executive branch but still with control over almost everything, is the Devanun, a group composed solely of homocecaelians chosen by their influence, typically numbering between fifteen and fifty, who govern the country as they wish for the most part. The four wealthiest in the Devanun, while retaining the title of Hyor, are inducted, mandatorily, into the Sinyukanra, the four-person group that has executive power over all of Rasyvias. While not even the Hyor can gainsay the Sinyukanra, the Sinyukanra can be overruled even when all four agree by a powerful enough alliance within the Devanun. The Sinyukanra has a number of titles for members, more than four, referring to the possible positions, which are never all filled at once. A Sinyukanra where none of the members have a defined position is called a Rykuin, the Šarratian word for Balance, for it means that all of the four Sinyukanra members have equal authority in all areas. Currently, the Sinyukanra positions that are filled are Sinyukadel, the member with the most authority and first among equals, Sinrekyadar, the most powerful magic user of the Sinyukanra, Senyavmat, the greatest ratakkadār amongst the Sinyukanra, and Serghamen, the religious leader of Rasyvias. The unfilled positions are Sinramdal, the ultimate military leader of Rasyvias, which is currently deferred to the head general in the Armed Forces, Serkyulin, the wealthiest, which is currently a tie between the Sinyukadel and Senyavmat, and Soryukrait, the warrior master, currently deferred to the head of the Armed Forces. With two deferred responsibilities of the Sinyukanra, the head general of the Armed Forces is currently the most important member of the Devanun outside of the Sinyukanra.
The Devanuni are the day-to-day rulers of the country, but not the highest authority. That is deferred to the upper Oligarchs, the collective term for members of the executive branch. The upper executive branch, often not even thought of by most civilians, is the Five Emperors. These five are the true rulers of the country, and are composed of the Devanun Emperor, which is decided amongst the Devanun, the Emperor of the Cecaelia, the Human Emperor- the wealthiest non-homocecaelian in the Circle-, the Cartel Emperor-the leader of the slave Cartel- and the Wealth Emperor, the wealthiest noble in the Circle, which has been a homocecaelian for all of the nation's history. While these five technically give decisions as one unit, they are not all equal in reality, with the Emperor of the Cecaelia, often referred to simply as the Emperor, having nearly autocratic power on the rare occasions he chooses to exercise it.
In the analysis of Šarratian cultures, a primary concern is the need to distinguish between the overall culture, and non-cecaelian culture. While all societies have some different traits or aspects of culture, most of the cecaelian societies share a large number of traits, as they are all under the culturally dominant force of homoececaelian culture, which diffuses throughout the societies. Non-cecaelian societies, on the other hand, may in some cases share a few traits with cecaelian societies that have leaked in, but for the most part are otherwise separate, and share only a few mutually developed traits with other non-cecaelian societies, being in large part unique.
While forced labor exists in many of the more primitive non-cecaelian societies, typically carried out on prisoners, the Šarratum Circle's cecaelian societies have turned slavery into not only the singular biggest aspect of its economy, but also into a nearly monopolized industry. The slave industry is run almost solely by the Cartel a government-affiliated group, though still nominally independent, which oversees the production and distribution of slaves. This organization is intertwined on a deep level with the government, with many higher-ups involved in both to a degree, and tends to work with the government on all matters of import, and vice-versa.
Šarratian slavery, as it is known, is unique not only in its industrialization and monpoloziation, but also in the nature of its basis, and in the creation of its slaves. The Cartel is based on island close to the volcanoes at the center of the Circle's Core, known as the Slavemounts. Via a number of skilled mado users, the original Šarratian slaves, entombed under each volcano in a magic-caused stasis that allows them to provide magic while not aging or needing sustenance, the volcanoes' various forms of activity have been brought under control, and enhanced in a particular way. People, provided by the societies of the valley islands due to an aspect of their society that believes being chosen by the volcanoes for slavery is an honor, are sent to the volcanoes and wander about a number of paths for a day, after which the volcano will have completed its cycle. This cycle consists of the various forms of activity being conducted, and whichever person is caught in them at the time is considered to have been chosen by the volcano. The enhancement of the activity via mado has caused the volcanoes to affect anyone marked, as all comers to the island are, with a specific symbol in a different way from others, whom it kills. Those marked are instead changed by the volcano's activity, both physically, marking them as a slave, and internally.
Those caught in the bursts of superheated gas and ash, which erupt from small cavities in the volcano located on its lower and middle sides, and less frequently higher up, are stained permanently red and black of a sooty and ashy variety, and the mado that caused the activity affects them, causing them to gain innate talent for a general field, allowing them to become superior slaves. Each volcano of the primary seven, called the greater Slavemounts, has a specialty, with one producing warriors, another creating various craftsmen, and so on, while the three lesser ones end up producing a wide variety of slaves with unique or odd skills. The higher up on the side the cavity is located, the more talented a created slave is. At the upper slopes, larger crater-like depressions mark lava-holes, where lava will emerge from and travel down depressions, causing those touched by it to gain burnt-black skin with blood-red streaks and swirls on it, giving them knowledge and experience of their skill, rather than simply an untapped talent. At the very peak of each greater Slavemount is a small circular hole, smaller than a hand, which shoots up irregularly, rather than daily like other events, and turns victims pitch-black with flame-like markings, and leaves them with an identical hole through the center of their chests. These people are the most valued slaves, and possess great prowess in their skill, exceeding both the innate talent of the lower slaves and the unused experience of the middle slaves, with a top war-slave being capable of defeating five elite bodyguards in battle.
The Šarratum Circle, despite being in many areas a sophisticated nation, is thought of as primitive and undeveloped, due in large part to the sterile nature of Šarratian technology, which is almost entirely at a low level. While it possesses some innovative replacements for the fields filled by technology in other areas, it lacks most modern technology found in other regions of the world. In its place, they have evolved a number of natural resource-using systems, most relying on the unique nature of Šarratian minerals and animals, due to the Circle's isolation from the rest of the world. These different systems have been termed the "cecaelian sciences", because of their similar nature to technological sciences. The most notable examples of these are the reactive minerals, which produce a certain effect under given circumstances, used for various applications in a large number of Šarratian societies, and the "fish technologies" of the peripheral non-cecaelians, at the edge of the Circle, who use different fish for economic and technological purposes, due to the variously beneficial traits of consumption. Communication between those higher in society and government is facilitated by special "nodes", orbs endowed with mado that allow messages to be sent by writing a letter and dropping it on one node, sending the text to the surface of another. The nodes appear to be able to replicate the letter if authorized personnel touch the sides of the node with their palm.
In most of the cecaelian cultures within the Šarratum Circle, the highest art form is that wielded by the ratakkadī, a term loosely translated as "I, the founder of a regime". This terminology denotes the way in which they consider a well-crafted ratakkadār, the term used for the piece itself, as something capable of moving mountains in terms of influence, and as something within and shared by everyone, noted by the usage of the "ī", a special suffix referring to oneself, used within this word even when referring to another person. A ratakkadī is best described as a mixture of a poet, a politician and a public speaker. The ratakkadār is a speech-poem composed in a very specific manner and organization, based off of the art of rhetoric, which exemplifies an argument, typically on a philosophically or morally deep matter, but sometimes on a more practical matter held important by the speaker, the crafting and deliverance of which is considered a high art. The composition of a ratakkadār is strictly formulaic, although the greatest ratakkadārs are those by the higher-level ratakkadī who have gained enough reputation to manipulate the form of the speech itself as a device for their meaning. The standard form for a ratakkadār is as follows: an argument via logos or logical appeal, following a typical two-part organizational scheme of dispositio, comprised of a statement and proof, which in turn comprises the exordium and narratio of a larger six-part dispositio scheme which lies throughout the entire speech, followed by an argument with pathos, or emotional appeal, in which the divisio and confirmatio stages of the dispositio are utilized, and thirdly an argument in ethos, or appeal via character, which must have been established beforehand but not utilized openly until this stage, which typically takes the easily identifiable form of either eunoia, arete, and phronesis, during which stage the audience is invited to criticize or refute his work, and the ratakkadī responds, completing the dispositio with the final steps of confutatio and peroratio.
The art of the ratakkadār is based upon five principles, which are used for appraisal and categorization of a ratakkadār. These are dispositio, the argument's organization, which is inorporated directly into the speech; inventio, the topic and method of discovery of the topic of a ratakkadār, found in large volumes of suitable topics, which must be chosen for a speech to be considered a true ratakkadār; memoria, the principle of knowing the foundations and points of an argument, as well as relevant subject matter, which must be used during the final stage to refute criticism in order to establish authenticity; pronuntiatio, the principle of controlled voice and motion during a ratakkadār, different styles of which are taught in the different schools of ratakkadī; and elocutio, the principle of correct style and writing, which was judged based on which of three categories the speech was meant for: subtile, robusta, or gravis, in order of prestige, and also is used as the principal for the accepted words and grammatical rules of the ratakkadār, which are documented and are often radically different from those of typical everyday language.
While original written Šarratian utilized the basic alphabet in writing, and is still used by the majority of speakers, causing it to be considered the "true" written form, a cuineiformic system was developed during a time period five to eight hundred years before the current time. It is a non-phonetic script, and is only used in correspondence between higher-class individuals or official archive records. It is composed mostly of triangles. The number of triangles signifies the caste of the word (lower, common or noble), and the arrangement gives a specific word. Arrow-like symbols separate bases from prefixes or suffixes, and diacritics are shown in deviation, color-wise, from the typical black text color, with many intricate shades developed.
The unifying language of the Circle is Šarratian, which is spoken in some capacity by every society in the Circle, though some variants are exotic and difficult to understand even by those fluent in Šarratian. Šarratian is notable for being extremely difficult to learn, both practically, as the Šarratum Circle is isolationist and jingoistic, as well as technically, due to its high complexity and situational modifications.
Šarratian grammar is highly intricate, placing it amongst the most complex lingual systems in the known world. It follows a word order of Object Verb Subject, a highly rare word order in which the object of a sentence comes first, proceeded by the verb which is followed by the subject, as in the sentence Rannašar Nokavilan Tarrakād, meaning The thief kills a noble. In this sentence, the object is Rannašar, the verb is Nokavilan, and the subject is Tarrakād. The language also follows a triliteral root system which forms the base of its word classification, with different sequences of consonants, typically three, called a triliteral, or less often a biliteral or quadriliteral, characterizing the general overall meaning of a word. The vowels placed between these determine the full base of a given word, distinguishing between words with the same sequences. These word bases give a more specific meaning, though still rather general. In tarrakād, the triliteral sequence is t-r-k (doubled consonants are voided in sequences), signifying a term related to criminality. The more specific tarrak is a base which specifies to any variant or different part of speech form of "thief" (noun), such as "to thieve" (verb) or "thieving" (adjective). The suffix determines the part of speech variant, with three different categories for suffix attachment, dividing words based on their social level in the society which originally created the language, separating words into lower, common and noble categories. Tarrak, being in the lower category, takes an -ad suffix to signify noun status, while the diacritic over the "a" is used to show its placement as a subject in the sentence, with other diacritics annotating other declensions. The diacritic is placed over the first letter of the suffix, denoting the end of the base. As thief is the default noun form, no prefix is needed, but a word is extended frontwise for non-default variants of a word in the same part of speech, such as thievery or theft. If a word does not have multiple forms, a -ū, a vowel-accent combination used nowhere else in the language, is placed at the end of the word, denoting its singularity in its base.
A quirk of Šarratian linguistics is that the object of the sentence is considered to be the agent of the sentence, or in simpler terms, the object is understood as the noun carrying out the act. In the above example, Šarratian identifies Rannašar as the agent, placing the noble as the one carrying out the act of being thieved from. This can also be understood as a flipping of passive and active voices, making the normal passive into the active, and vice versa. Another oddity is that, in place of varying the verb form itself to signify tense, a short word is placed directly before the verb, an "a" flanked on either side by an identical accent next to it, producing a distinct sound which verifies the tense of the following verb to a listener. Conjugation of verbs is done similarly to noun declension, using diacritics. This and other critical uses of accents to change meaning are part of the difficulty of Šarratian.
Šarratian religion is generally unified, with the vast majority, up to eighty percent by common estimate, belonging to the Ajjagar faith, though the Akkados faith is recorded in another ten to fifteen percent, with the remainder being either atheistic, or believing in mostly extinct ancient tribal beliefs.
The tribal beliefs that are still extant are mostly the same, although the isolated pockets worship different specific deities and observe different practices. The general belief is in divine forces, usually either composed of, created by, or the source of, Mado, which typically take the form, as gods, of elemental entities or such, and are thought to inhabit dangerous or powerful areas. The most common belief, perpetuated as stories in the modern world, was in demonic counterparts, called Reavers, which were formed purely out of mado, and roamed the night skies destroying and causing misfortune, and combating the gods. They are said to ride upon panthers, which were said to have been more common, once.
The Akkados faith is relatively mysterious for a major religion, with the only details of their actual beliefs being that they worship the panther as a god-like creature, and believe it to be the guardian force of the world from destructive wild magic, as well as the living source of energy and the material of the cosmos. Composing ten to fifteen percent of all within the Circle, its priests collect incense of the Panther's production, and give it to the Mado adepts of the Akkadosi for usage in the art of Incensing.
Incensing is a branch of Mado found only amongst the Akkadosi faithful. The Akkadosi believe that the Incense of the panther endows majesty and brings those on whom it is endowed closer to divinity. By mixing different Incenses from the Panther together and imparting them with Mado, similar to alchemy, they may create new Incenses. Using these incenses on creatures, or even inanimate objects, can create powerful creatures that seem to have an innate instinct to serve the Akkadosi religion. Gathering in swamp areas, these adepts are responsible for many reptilian megafauna dominating these areas.
The primary faith by far, encompassing a massive eighty percent of the Šarratian population, is the Ajjagar religion, centered around a god who is called Arramon, as a being, but is named, when calling upon or mentioning him as a god, as Ajjagar, though his true, core name is considered taboo, and is not known to any within the religion, kept in a scroll that it is blasphemy to open. He is said to have been born, long before the origin of mankind, in a chamber that was the only place in the world, which was primordial and not complete in its self, known as non-existence or "All", that was not ravaged by the darkness of nothing. No living thing, or matter as is known, was present within All. Throughout an age, a rock formed, the only thing that completely existed within All, which was half-existing and ravaged by nothingness. At the end of the age, the rock was complete, and from it, over a thousand years - the blink of an eye next to the vast expanses of the rock's creation - Arramon emerged, in a process known as the petra genetrix. His body came to exist from the rock even as it tore free in its emergence, the torso first, followed by the lower body and finally the feet, red flames emerging from the rock from the energy of his birth. The flames that were released grew, and destroyed the non-existence that ravaged All, cleansing it rather than banishing it. With the completion of Arramon's thousand year birth, existence came to be, the world becoming complete and taking its inherent form. Arramon was existence itself, the culmination that also embodied the whole, and was all of its inherent qualities without possessing them, for some of them did not even exist yet, and his self would create everything necessary for a true world. Because of this, he is also known as "The All With Nothing", because he is supposedly alive without having life, a god without having divinity, good without having a given set of morals, and all others, for he existed before he introduced these things.
Arramon felt that the world was without energy or completion, and felt an inner urge to complete it, as he was the embodiment of everything and his entire self was in itself a purpose, the purpose of completing existence. To this end he went to the rock from which he had been born, a spiral-shaped monolith about ten feet high, with a man-shaped imprint in it, and gave it life and soul and energy, which he was and displayed but did not have. The rock, known as the Deific Rock and named G'ai'rhen by Arramon, was given the life and energy that made the world a reality rather than a non-real existence, and held the soul of the world, becoming indestructible by any known means as a defense for the soul. This embodiment of energy led to the creation of life and sentience, along with life force.
Yet just as the world had not been reality without its life and soul and energy, so life, which in itself was a higher form than the world, was not a reality of life in this form, but rather just another form of the world. It lacked a key thing, which Arramon felt within himself though he knew he did not possess it. It lacked values and morals, and the world had no good nor evil. Arramon found a great bull, and chased it down, hunting it with bravery and skill, and brought it to G'ai'rhen and slew it, imparting into the world values and caring, which he was and exemplified but did not himself possess. This slaying, however, did not produce the morals, the good and evil, though he imparted them, which he was and displayed without possessing, as well. It formed two beings, as similar as pearls but at the same time as different as life and death, in the form of winged lions with coiled about their legs. They were each a different moral, one good and the other evil, and exemplified them, but did not possess them. In this way they were like Arramon himself, for nothing short of him could possess both morals in their fullest extent, and so before they could be imparted to the world they took on their own forms. Arramon then released the bonds on the creatures, causing them to take on different forms, the snake on one becoming a tail and the wing becoming those of an angel, while the other gained a snake for a low half and stingray-like wings. However, in that instant they collapsed, as morals were not life, but rather a gift imparted to life. With this, mado came into being, as the pure moral source mixed with the energy given to the world, and the world and its life were complete.
However, humanity, not just humans but all sentient races, was not a reality. They were life with sentience and intelligence, life which was in turn the world with energy and morals, but they were not a reality as humanity. They lacked the morality that pointed them towards good while resisting evil, and they lacked the ability to choose. Arramon imparted unto them the morality, which he was and displayed but did not possess, yet could not give the right of choice to them in the same way, because while he had choice, he was not choice, nor did he display it. In this, it was different from all other things. For this, he wrought about himself a sheet of sapphire, and imprisoned himself in it, rebirthing himself anew, and shattering an instant later, freeing that which he had but did not display, and giving humanity their final reality, completing all of reality. Arramon then became a being that was everything, but existed only as one who was everything, walking in everything as an individual, but appearing only as the entire world.
The edge of the Šarratum Circle's jurisdiction is just outside of Lake Yaju, in neutral territory that is claimed by both they and neighboring territories, although the dispute is considered a moot point, and it is rarely openly disputed. A number of small settlements are located in this territory, and welcome visitors, although they tend to highly discourage entry into the Circle, commonly not permitting further travel. The lake itself is the true Šarratum Circle, with the peripheral ring, or outer ring of the Circle, located significantly closer to the shore than the rest of the islands, although still some distance into the lake. These peripherals are non-cecaelian, and are amongst the least directly controlled of all the islands. They are less isolationist than the inner islands, and are known to sometimes trade with outsiders. Some distance within the peripheral is the inner Circle, marked by a line of islands encircling the less symmetric array of islands within it. This ring, known as the concentric ring, is the true barrier of isolationism, letting almost none pass, and legally enforcing the expatriation of any who manage to reach the concentric despite heavy discouragement in the outer areas. Within the inner circle, islands are arranged in no particular manner, and the center, known as the core, of the Circle contains tightly packed islands, then several miles of open sea, with valley-like islands invisible except from the sky between them and several sparse isles that hide a precisely centralized chain of volcanoes. The animals of the Circle are varied, having developed mostly separated from the rest of Higashi. These include the rare Panther, as well as a number of large reptilian predators, some known as "false dragons", while others are completely different, such as the six-limbed basilisks and the many horned taurosuchus, as well as other exotic alligator-like species. The depths of the lake are also known to hide prehistoric survivors, such as monstrous placoderms.
Scholars typically organize Šarratian societies into two categories; cecaelian and non-cecaelian. Cecaelian societies refers to those Šarratian societies which have become mobile and established large amounts of contact and relations with other societies within the Šarratum Circle, so called because all of those societies, no matter how otherwise isolated, are under the more unified rule of the Homocecaelian people, a society of partial cecaelian humans originating in the center of the Circle which has taken power. Non-cecaelian societies are less mobile, typically less active in larger events and somewhat unaware of the outside world, which are still under the control of the Homocecaelians, which are dominant throughout the entire Circle, but do not think of themselves as members of a larger nation, and are mostly left to their own devices. Cecaelian societies tend to be concentrated in the core of the Circle and the outer ring, while the inner ring of the Circle, excluding the small core, is full of non-cecaelian societies.
The dominant society of the Šarratum Circle is that of the homocecaelians, originally based on an island near the center of the Circle, which overtook a large grouping of islands in that area, which are now collectively part of homocecaelian society, and influenced a large number of other cultures, integrating its culture into the natives' own. The homocecaelians are a humanoid race descended from direct hybrids of humans and cecaelia, an octopus-like race. They are the most powerful culture and society in the Circle, and have direct control over a large portion of the most important venues.
The Montane Ring is a smaller circle of mountainous islands, found within the inner ring but off-center, close to the largest cities but not including them within itself. It isfull of high altitudes, with difficult terrain, and jungles. It is one of the many places in the inner ring where cecaelian and non-cecaelian society mix together, with non-cecaelian peoples being more interconnected with the outside world, and cecaelian societies in the area tending to have lesser degrees of contact with the outside world than other cecaelian societies. The most significant area of the Montane Ring is the Vale of Mist, once the caldera of a volcano thousands of years extinct, which has become overrun with rainforests and wildlife. It is inhabited by various small sprites. It is also notable for being full of various rare creatures, most notably as the home of the Panther, a mysterious beast which is the subject of worship by the Ajjagar faith.
Similar to their technology, Šarratian military is less advanced than those of other nations, using a less technological approach to warfare. Their lack of heavy mechanics is not a dire issue to them, because of their infrequent forays outside of their own territory, and the difficulty of bringing anything of that type larger than a small gun across the lake, especially due to Cecaelia attacks on armed convoys on the lake. Their armed forces mostly consist of either warriors from tribes, which they call together when necessary, or a smaller force that join up in the actual army. They call upon city guards in times of war as well, which also act as riot police in less violent times. Their two primary forces that they call upon are these riot police, which are also trained for combat, and several specially trained units of government agents, sent for foreign operations, known colloquially as Terrorist Cells.
The riot police act as city guards, normal police, and suppressors of riots and violence, acting in the capacity of all three as the situation requires. Their primary weapons are swords, staffs and metal bolas, but they have a number of less conventional tools available to them. These include a number of subduing substances, as well as their most famed asset; their signature capsaicin spray and grenades. These are based on capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, which are grown for this purpose, that causes pain and often temporary incapicitation. The highest level of this has been modified by the government to be at a much higher level than standard spray, and can cause major issues in victims.
The Terrorist Cells are teams made of highly-trained agents of the government, ranging from smaller units of five to ten people to the deployment of large networks of over a hundred. They are foreign-operating units comprised of specialists, often including grandmaster ratakkadī who are skilled at undermining a government or rousing support for a rebellion, and are often accompanied by a small force of guerilla fighters under their command. These cells interfere with the infrastructure of the enemy, often utilizing terrorist-like tactics and causing confusion, as well as kidnapping important figures and assassinating some to create fear and deprive the enemy of important figures. They also make heavy use of instigatory tactics, undermining government and causing rebellions, and well-trained groups are highly feared for their ability to detach cities or regions from nations.
In contrast to the bulk of their forces, and as a notable exception to their otherwise low technological level, the Circle's Šarratian Special Defense Force is made up of more modern weaponry and infantry. Typically sequestered in a number of sea bases, these forces are posted to a perimeter guard during times of emergency, in accordance with Operation Gabriel, an emergency defense system composed by Emperor Vahagn himself. While not particularly strong, this extra ring of defense allows them to preemptively dissuade invasions.
The Circle was once more heavily involved in warfare, and had a much larger military, but after the Treaty of Rosemar upon the death of Emperor Traeltemuir, its military was forcibly downsized, and it was forbidden a standing army. With the Šarrakkad Accord, the nation was allowed to raise an army again, but was forbidden official troops numbering more than 2,000, resulting in its current state.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The name of the Circle comes from the Akkadian word for King. The Šarratian language is based off of a semitic triliteral root, with the overall sound styled after the Akkadian language. The idea of different peoples being chosen for specific roles comes originally from the race-based hierarchies in colonial Latin America and other places, but in this case was inspired, though the content of this page itself is solely the author's own, by the works of Brandon Sanderson. The nature of their technological state was inspired by both the economic and technological applications of magic in Brandon Sanderson's books, and by the biotechnology of the Yuuzhan Vong race of Star Wars. The Terrorist Cells' methods were inspired by the Zapatista movement in Mexico and the ETA. The Akkados religion is heavily based on the Mithraic Mysteries. The history of the Šarratum Circle, and its original inspiration as a country, comes in order of importance from the Akkadian, Ottoman, and Russian empires, and its flag is taken from the symbol of the Crimean Khanate, on which the Khimayan Rakhate is loosely based.