Eventually the run of the River Halit slows and the flood plain widens it is here that the writ of the Marquis runs out as it runs against the settled and ancient Empire of the Tawny whose wiry peasants have farmed the banks of the lower Halit for millennium.
In the time of the Drake Seljford the soldiers and sorcery of the Empire held him back and the area of Midmark was known as the Ravaged Banks. Before his time they battled with the now dead City of Caracosa. Now the Empire both prospers through and is undermined through it’s Northern neighbour.
All the people and possessions in the Empire are the property of the Sun-Emperor regarded as a personification of the Sun God (and sundry other deities.) In realty this isn’t the case and a noble class exists with extensive wealth though the most powerful institutions in the Empire are the Temples.
Temples not only provide scribes for the Imperial bureaucracy, but gather and ration the harvest, provide their guards to police the towns and country, heal the sick, administer justice, perform magic and generally provide all services not provided by the Army or the All-Seeing Eye. The Temples each devoted to a different one of the man-beast gods of the Tawny constantly jockey for position, not only within the Empire as a whole but with the Nomes or districts of the Empire.
Cut off by the great deserts the nobles and peasants of Tawny (including the Emperor) desire the luxury goods of other states. However state doctrine is that everything needed is within their borders and heavy tributes (tariffs) block trade. However such is the desire that the Temples administering the tribute have been become hopelessly corrupt in respect of the Drakesdoom trade and barges from the City are allowed through without challenge for healthy inducements. The result is that trade to Tawny routes through Drakesdoom to the benefit of the Midmark and the consumers of Tawny. Much of this trade is paid for by surplus grain shipped to the Midmark and there on to the teeming Kingdoms of the Coasts.
The Sun Emperor has four vital tools to maintain his position:
- His Divine nature, believed by the mass majority of the population protects him from sedition. Even bad or unpopular policies are put down to bad noble or Temple advisers.
- The Army – Military service is not valued in Tawny so the army consists of peasant conscripts of 25 years in the infantry and middle and noble conscripts or 12 years in the artillery, charioteers and officer corps.
The Infantry is organised into Kelat consisting of three 500 men Let. Two Let are armed with shields and one handed spears. The third consists of composite bow armed archers who skirmish in front of the spears and then retreat behind them to rain arrows on attackers.
Chariots are organised in Let of 100 chariots each pulled by four horses and consisting of a Charioteer and an Archer.
Artillery features Let of 12 Trebuchets each served by 20 men and sundry oxen with 60 mounted scouts to select targets,
A typical Nome garrison will consist of 3-5 Infantry Kelat 1-2 Chariot Let and an artillery Let. The Emperors Army is 2-4 times that size with units in similar proportions. One Nome garrison would provide the defenders of Midmark with a hard fight in terms of numbers (though the tactical limitations of the slow moving Tawny Army may be telling.)
- The All Seeing Eye – originally a division of the Army this is the Emperor’s intelligence force reporting directly to him. It spies abroad ideally through foreign agents and at home through informers. It’s masked ‘Brutals’ rarely appear to make arrests but their reputation is well known.
- The Meinerrat – descended from escaped slaves and desert raiders who undertook to serve the Sun-Emperor for their freedom these tribal peoples are very like the Desert Raiders they fight. They also act as a strike force to crush rebellions and are organised as Mutik Meritah under their own elected Headmen.
Build: Tawny are wiry and muscular in the main.
Colouring: The Widnez are vary from light café au lait colouring to very dark skin tones. Skin colouring has no bearing on position in society. Hair tends to be dark and wiry but as all classes shave all hair is rarely evident.
Endurance: Widnez endurance is within the normal human range though the tireless peasants of Tawny are reckoned to have phenomenal energy for physical labour.
Height: Typically around 5’6”-8’ for men and 5’5”-5’7” for women
Lifespan: Within the normal human range where decent healing magic is commonplace 50-60 years.
Resistance: Long established in the region the Tawny are immune to diseases which would lay low a traveller from other parts.
Clothing and Decoration: Both sexes and all classes shave off all body and head hair come puberty. Clothing for peasants made from simple linen sheets that were bleached white, and both men and women of the upper classes wear wigs, jewelry, and cosmetics. Children go without clothing until around 12.
Fears & inabilities: The Tawny have a habitual fear of chaos which is the great evil in their religion system.
Lifestyle: Most Tawny are farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings are restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mud brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling flour and a small oven for baking the bread. Walls are painted white and could be covered with dyed linen wall hangings. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture. Mothers are responsible for taking care of the children, while the father provided the family’s income.
Music and dance are popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Instruments include flutes, harps, trumpets, oboes,, pipes, bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and sistrums.
Board games are popular as is juggling, ball games and wrestling. Nobles enjoy hunting and boating too.
Marriage Pattern: The society is monogamous though the upper classes have concubines if they can afford them. The society has no brother-sister incest taboo and in the case of the nobility and royal family such marriages are common to restrict diluting the bloodline.
Religion: The myriad half-beast gods of the Tawny are ancient and unknowable. Their names are legion. They are celebrated through music, dance and sacrifice. In eons past they warred with the Gods of Caracosa which embodied the hated chaos. While the people of Tawny are pious the clergy are often hated for their opulent lifestyle and power. A reformation might be brewing in the land – despite the potential for chaos it would unleash.
The particular focus on the afterlife of the Tawny means that the building of tombs and acquiring of grave goods takes a lot of economy activity. The desire for prestigious grave goods feeds the demand for foreign luxury items.
Demeanour: Tawny are generally haughty and dismissive of what they see as younger races.
Language: Tawny has 25 consonants and nine vowels. nine. The basic word is a root of consonants and semiconsonants. Suffixes are added to form words. The verb conjugation corresponds to the person.
Adjectives are derived from nouns. The word order is PREDICATE–SUBJECT in verbal and adjectival sentences, and SUBJECT–PREDICATE in nominal and adverbial sentences. The subject can be moved to the beginning of sentences if it is long and is followed by a resumptive pronoun.. Stress falls on the ultimate or penultimate syllable, which can be open or closed.
Prejudices: Tawny are suspicious of foreigners and foreign gods.