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Chwahirsland

Country on the Eastern end of the Southern Continent that is ruled by the Sonscarnas. They are always trying to expand and use dark magic to do so.

Capital: Narad

Ruler: Shnit Sonscarna, Wan-Edhe, or THE King, mid-4600's up through most of the next century.

General History

How does a country become everyone's idea of EEEVIL? Because the Chwahir have had such a long, and bad, reputation, that their name has taken solid root in various forms of insult in most of the languages of the world. " . . . as a Chwahir" has ceased to have any positive connotations, despite the fact that the Chwahir were once associated with dragons, and after that were known for their ship building, for the superlative quality of their sails--and were probably the ones who first brought writing to Sartorias-deles, along with their famous, almost mystical linden honey, which was their main vehicle for trade all over the world. The eight-fold linden leaf circle was their oldest device.

Since most of their early history was destroyed by the Chwahir themselves, there are very few clues, and those tend to be found in carvings far from Chwahirsland, one constant being the obvious curves to inflexed arches, and the eight-fold linden leaf, from the days when they traded the best linden honey in the world. The very early people tended to be small and light-boned, round-skulled, prizing proportional smallness as well as the contrast of black hair and pale skin. They flourished, developing a complicated culture--and again it is possible that they were the earliest mages, and were definitely part of the secret decision to eradicate certain character traits from the human race by killing people who exhibited those traits, as well as experimenting on humans with a mixture of magic and genetics. Whether it had to do with dragon culture or not, it could be that the earliest Mage Council's decision to abandon this program of selective genocide (as well as genetic experiments) triggered the early Chwahir's flight (in both senses of the word) but in any case, there were chosen ones who took wing in the most literal sense, and abandoned the rest.

The Sartoran records indicate that they thought the smart and talented ones self-selected, but that might be an accusation arising out of the split, because there ceased to be any communication with Sartor thereafter. No one knows what happened to their superior culture afterward; though the evidence is clear they became target practice for early Norsundrians, that does not explain their disappearance. (The Scribes and Heralds feel that the very lack of evidence is suspicious, so closely were they watched by the then-Mage Guild: they might have been forced through the world gate to somewhere else.)

The flying humans now may or may not be their descendants, but they have evolved in different directions, and there is no trace of Chwahir roots in their language, which has largely Sartoran roots: they express time through conjugated verbs, as in Sartoran-rooted languages, and not with time words and single verbs as in Chwahir.

The yezhe fyanya, the ones-who-fly, took their writings, art, and skills with them, leaving behind the how-wuye hachan which got shortened to hwa-ye (or 'without'). The very few traces make it clear that those early people were quite aware of the bitter irony of hwa-ye meaning 'without'; the dropped word, hachan is the root for the word flight in present-day Chwahir. The 'h' sound, always pronounced, altered to the back-of-the-throat cough that characterizes the Chwahir language now. It's an emphatic. Anyway, the ones left behind, the early Chwahir, retaliated by destroying every trace of the Ones Who Flew that they could find.[1]

So one could say that the history of Chwahirsland properly begins with those left behind. Why they stayed at the northeast corner of the Sartoran continent probably has to do with the dragons that the earliest Chwahir tended and interacted with. The terrible mountain range along the southern border (as well as that around Sartor) were probably raised in a war against those dragons, for reasons utterly unknown, or even who was fighting or why. But subsequent to that, the dragons left the world altogether, which may have precipitated the split of the Chwahir.

While Sartor's ecology survived, that in Chwahirsland began a slow decline over the centuries, propped by various magic attempts now and then, that inexorably underscored the desperate situation they are in now. The became poor, receiving the heaviest storms due to being where the currents of water and air met. The great, ancient linden groves slowly died off, and the only land they considered arable was the marshly flatlands along the rivers, where rice was grown and harvested. Over the centuries, as the land became dryer, the hemp they grew for sailcloth was gradually replaced by such 'land' crops such as wheat, oats, and barley, but these foods do not have the same value as rice.

The Chwahir were early traders, both during the days of Early Sartor, and after the Fall. They were the ones who developed the typical round-hulled traders, fore-and-aft rigged, that carried their linden honey ("dyansha") to trade ports around the world, and this design of ship persisted for several centuries, after the linden honey trade was gradually replaced by linens. Their sail cloth was rarely bettered right up to the present day, when the depredations of Shnit Sonscarna were so intolerable that the surrounding kingdoms refused to trade with the Chwahir--which of course threw them onto their own resources and ingenuity the more.

The gradual decline of Chwahir history is a long and fairly grim story. Not all the fault lies with the Chwahir. They were certainly not alone in trying to solve problems of poor soil by conquering neighbors with better land. Spring storms seldom got over the mountains, so either Chwahirsland existed in drought, or was hammered by violent storms that were powerful enough to clear the peaks. The growing season of Chwahirsland was reduced to a couple of months at most, and some years that was minimal. Its kings tried to amend that with magic, which solved the problem short term, but made it worse in the long. Only dark magic could wrench the changes necessary for such alteration in wind, rain, and soil--which slowly leached the land of life. Meanwhile, dark magic was also the most effective resolution to the political problems internally and with neighbors.

Conformity arose out of a sincere belief that everyone must pull together to save, and serve, the homeland. Warlords, Nan Ijo and war commanders Dan tonli --respected since early days for security purposes and mostly benevolent, eroded into tyrants: the belief that one must be strong to survive engendered a tradition that warlords and war commanders are promoted by duel, then warfare, has persisted.

With the deliberate choice of dark magic as the route to power and change, the rulers evolved the social sanctions typical of governments based on the holding and use of power: you don't want anyone else using it, so you have to control it. And controlling it means spells and henchminions. A strong military was also the solution for the attempt to wrest better land from the neighboring kingdoms. That leads to a gradual erosion of civil rights, which leads to the use of (and expectation of) violence in civil and even cultural affairs: children usually know what kind of death differing crimes (and there are many crimes against the state topping the death list before thievery and murder and the like even begin) will earn, and by their teens, go to executions the way other kingdoms go to seasonal celebrations. Second most popular punishment is flogging, and there are many expectations for the victim, assuming he's intended to survive: how long before you yell out, when you faint, how long you can walk afterward before they drag you, etc. Betting often occurs on these things.

Changes of government were just about always violent. Then the ruler had to move fast to consolidate power, which sometimes meant throwing the impulse to violence outward. so the Chwahir embarked on a long series of wars, sometimes successful but in the long run not, as their land slowly worsened. The past five centuries were the nadir of Chwahir history when the Sonscarna family gripped and held power. Their method was not only to be more ruthless than anyone else, but to learn magic early, and use it--including on themselves, to prolong life as long as possible. All the Sonscarna kings, including Shnit, extended their lives, and all died either by violence or by betrayal into Norsunder.

The long prejudice against women was the sad result of what at first seemed a possible turn for the better, when in late latter 4200s, a Landis princess was married to a Chwahir prince. He was besotted with her, and she brought art, fashion, style, celebration and laughter to the militaristic and grim Chwahir governing city. They had a son and daughter, Kwenz and Lammog. She took after her mother: she was charismatic, full of style and grace, and smart. She was also ambitious. Though sons had inherited ever since the kingdom became organized around the military, Lammog campaigned hard for a queenship--after all, queens of Sartor were the norm, and most other kingdoms had queens as well as kings. When it seemed the kingdom was cleaving to her, Kwenz took care of the problem in time-honored Chwahir fashion: assassinated her. He shut down as much as her influence as he could in order to get rid of her memory.

A century later, his descendant, Joras Sonscarna, was deeply disappointed when the celebrated Lasthavais Lirendi turned down his suit in order to marry another military king at the other end of the continent, Ivandred Montredaun-An of Marloven Hesea. Joras was left with the bitter but inescapable fact that it wasn't his culture (which the Colendi court regarded with derision) it was himself she'd rejected. He gradually soured on women, and the country paid the price.

Eventually the crown took ownership of land, at first granting privileges to the former warlords, who had become barons responsible for military protection of the farms that provided food for them. Their power eventually eroded through increasing demands of men, horses, and taxes, until the only possible advancement was controlled by the king through his vast army..

Under Wan-Edhe, most forms of expression were forbidden, but the old linden leaf, with its eight leaves intertwined in a circle (representing the twi), could get you executed on the spot. So it altered from an old and outmoded symbol to the emblem of secret resistance.

Footnotes

  1. Some of that same evidence, plus other traces, indicate that writing came to Sartorias-deles with the early Chwahir, and was taught to the Sartorans, an unpleasant enough idea for the Sartorans to accept that they may well have participated along with the Chwahir (the ones left behind) in eradicating their own ancient history. At any rate, early Sartoran was a vertical script of increasingly complicated characters whose very complexity became bound up in the rituals of the Sartoran culture.
It was not until after the Fall that the Revolt of the Two Towers brought the change of alphabet to Sartor, which changed script from vertical to horizontal, and from up and down to left-to-right (accomodating mostly right-handed people). That change signalled a change around the world, except for the Venn, who had already developed a horizontal alphabet whose antecedents are early Anglo-Saxon uncials and runes.

See Also

<< Breis | Sartoran Continent | Colend >>

Categories: Chwahirsland

Page last modified on August 14, 2018, at 08:09 AM