Nations of the Anhoi River
The great Anhoi River has long formed the eastern frontier of the Empire of Splendour. Roughly 150 years ago there was a wave of rebellions and secessions from ineffectual Imperial Rule, leaving a group of new nations along the eastern shore of the Anhoi, each with its own character and each reacting to independence with varying degrees of success.
The Anhoi is formed from two seperate branches. The Far Anhoi flows to the east of the Three Sisters Mountains, originating from the bleak marshland of the Lake of the Burning Spear. It is frontier land, bordering plains tlaxu territory and home only to sparse human habitation. The Near Anhoi arises in the Throne of Heaven mountains and flows to the west of the Three Sisters. The exact source of the Near Anhoi is unknown but rumours place it near the displaced region of chaos around the fabled Oracle of Kulaban. Disgruntled Imperial administrators used to say that chaos and rebellion was in the very water of the Anhoi, which was why the region was always troublesome.
Starting at the mouth of the Anhoi, the City of Llaza stands atop a cluster of islands near the delta. It is a powerul port ruled by the Merchants League and played a key role in the provincial rebellion, caused by a lack of aid from the Empire when the city was nearly sacked by a tlaxu horde. Llaza is the de facto capital of Fnoi Province, formerly the Nome of Silence in the Empire, a warm hilly region rich in iron deposits.
On the Imperial western bank of the Anhoi lies the Nome of Farseeing, ruled by the City of Blue Jays. Farseeing is famed for its silk, and is a centre for Imperial agents spying on the Merchants League.
Upriver from Llaza and Fnoi lies the Ashoyin Protectorate, once comprised of parts of Fragrant Waterlily Nome, the Nome of Silence and the Nome of Woe. Independence has not come happily to Ashoyin. The official ruler, Most August Minister Es-Gadar managed to inflame the populace with unfair taxation and heavy-handed enforcement. An insurrection led by General Chandrat has split the country and the resultant civil war has bogged down into a messy stalemate where both sides seem to have lost sight of their reasons for fighting, committing atrocities in desperation of getting the upper hand. The Most August Minister lives in exile in Llaza whilst his elderly mother, Dowager Lady Temusha, maintains a powerbase in the western part of the region. Several smaller towns have vowed neutrality in the conflict, forming the Zeihar Alliance. Bandits roam the countryside claiming service to one or other side. A group called the Jade Sword has formed to protect the common folk from maruaders. Rumours are that the Merchants League and the Empire are using the Ashoyin conflict as a theatre for their own agendas, with agents on either side.
North of the troubled Ashoyin region lies the Meadow Flower Alliance, an economical union between the two city-states Tibrafes and Kronlordan. Tibrafes stands on the meads of the Lemnaha River and is famous for its leather, perfume and glass-work. Rebellion in Tibrafes stemmed from an unlikely source - the lowly dunnyman. Human waste is an important part of the tanning process, and the Tibrafen dunnyman is a proud individual who collects ordure from the public latrines and sells it to the leatherworkers to season their product. When the Empire tried to introduce sewers to the city, the threat to the livelihood of a large portion of the population led to armed uprising, the destruction of the Imperial administration building and the expulsion of Imperial rule.
Kronlordan, on the other hand, stands on a terrace high in the Three Sisters Mountains. It is home to noyaki-herders and is famed for its wool and textiles. Kronlordan is a city of steep steps and monumental stone buildings, most famous of which is the Emporium, a great covered marketplace at the highest point of the city. Kronlordan was one of the Imperial Provinces that became independent easily, by being ignored by the Empire. Its ruler, Lana Fzaib, goes by the title of Shorugan, or Military Governer, but this is a ceremonial hereditary role that stems from the original independent leader, Colonel Qinu Fzaib. Lana Fzaib is a stately woman in her fifties and not by nature a military person.
Nestled between the Three Sisters and Throne of Heaven Mountains lies the Magistracy of Nirhamsa, with its capital Corbasal, governed by a streamlined version of the Imperial bureaucracy. Nirhamsa encompasses the hilly region of Niranim where overgrown bamboo forests hide ancient ruins, and where many wild vug, strange humanoid automatons, are 'harvested'. The Hills of Niranim are also rich in jade. Across the Anhoi from Corbasal lies the Plains of Pesh, also known as Plain of Banners. It was here that the bloodiest battle between the Empire and the rebel Anhoi provinces were fought, and the land has never been re-settled. Some say that it is home to ghosts, and certainly the Pokan Marsh to the south of the Plains of Pesh is infested with creatures from the Underwater Darkness World ruled by a hag sorceress styling herself Queen of Pokan.
Beyond Pesh, on the Imperial side, stands the mighty Fortress of Forbidding, a grim cubic structure. The Great Canal begins here, an Imperial folly designed to connect the Anhoi with the Nine Spirits River. Since the Empire now has as little as possible to do with the Anhoi provinces, the Great Canal is choked and un-navigable for much of its length. It runs through the Plain of Giants, so named for the fragments of colossal ruined statues that dot the landscape.
Tracing the Far Anhoi back to its source one first passes through the Ashoyin Protectorate into the Wasted Lands, which are in fact quite fertile but mostly de-populated by the tlaxu horde and never fully re-settled. Fear of ghosts keeps settlers away, as do roaming gangs of marauders such as the Bandits of Dailat who make incursions into Ashoyin and prey upon caravans passing to the Far Anhoi lands. The Merchants League has made some moves to tame the land by offering land grants to retired soldiers as a form of pension.
Wedged between the Wasted Lands and Ashoyin is the city of Nyerdhan, called by the Empire the City of Endless Woe. Nyerdhan experiences seasonal floods and has protected itself by a combination of dykes, houses built on mounds and ancient Imperial pump machinery. It is an oasis of civilisation in an otherwise dangerous land. The authorities of Nyerdhan on one hand support the settlement of the Wasted Lands but on the other worry about an increased League presence in the area.
Much of the Far Anhoi borders the Tlaxu Plain, wandered by tribes of plains tlaxu, descendants of the tribes who joined to form the tlaxu horde 150 years ago. These felinoid folk tend now to keep to themselves and indulge in internecine warfare. League traders carefully cultivate these rivalries by selling metal weaponry selectively.
Beltavia Keep is an odd settlement, based around a castle built by refugees from the Khazarate of Vaarta. The founders were members of a heretical religious sect who fled persecution in their homeland and trekked across the Empire seeking a new home. The Beltavians hire out their skilled horsemen as mercenaries as well as trade horses that they breed upon the plains. Although non-Vaartans have gathered around the keep the settlement still has a strong Vaartan flavour.
Tibra's Crossing is another typical Far Anhoi town where people have banded together around a defensible point. The Crossing was originally an Imperial staging post in wars against the tlaxu but the military withdrew after a disastrous attempt to invade Mopendor. It is now a trading outpost and thriving ferry crossing where plains tlaxu, Kronlordans, Thells, Beltavians and other Far Anhoine gather to exchange goods, in a frontier atmosphere of rough justice.
The Far Anhoi arises in seemingly endless marshland that stretches to the Great Glacier. There are no mountains between the glacier and the plain here, so freezing winds blow in from the north. The ground is kept warm by the Lake of the Burning Spear, where legend tells that the East Sun killed a mighty monster from the Unwashed Horde, pinning it to the ground with his spear of fire. The burning spear is still hidden beneath the ground, giving off its warmth. The monster is still there, too, alive but trapped. The Lake of the Burning Spear is inhabited by humans who live on floating reed houses and gather eels from the lake. These people are shy, with a slightly frog-like appearance but sometimes journey to Tibra's Crossing to trade. The other Far Anhoin consider the swamp-folk to be backward and inbred, as shown by their webbed fingers and toes, pallid skin and bulging eyes. Others suggest that this is due to the Chaotic influence of the unknown monster beneath the lake. Rumours tell of an ancient stone temple deep within the swamp, and dark cultists have been known to seek ways of removing the spear and freeing the monster.
(c) 2006 The Creative Conclave.
The Empire of Splendour
Bandits of Dailat
City of Llaza
Khazarate of Vaarta
Lake of the Burning Spear
Meadow Flower Alliance
The Plains of Pesh
The Anhoi People
The Anhoi are considered a seperate racial type in the Empire of Splendour, although they are probably nekuuese in origin. The Anhoin phenotype is a broad face, olive coloured skin and dark curly hair. Since there is little prejudice or social expectation attached to looking Anhoin, people of Anhoin heritage can be found in all levels of Imperial society, both rich and poor. For this reason also it is more likely to find Anhoin of mixed heritage since the racial segregation that keeps the supposedly 'high' asharans and the 'low' nekuu apart does not affect them.