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Land of the Venn

Language: Venn

capital: Twelve-Towers

Ruling family: Sofar

History of the Venn Empire

The Venn created one of the longest-lasting empires in the world. Their origins, not immediately written, were wreathed in the metaphor of myth, but it's pretty much agreed that a Viking fleet, setting out in the direction of the setting sun, somehow crossed one of the world gates. They passed into a land even colder than their own. Finding no one to trade with or to conquer (and thus to provide instant supplies and warm houses) they decided to return home, and sailed north, to discover no familiar land amid the fierce storms and craggy coastland of the northwest arc of Drael. This land lies directly in the path of the great storms that drive the wind currents down and across the world. The weather there is ferocious, and they made things worse for themselves by systematically denuding the land of forest in order to build their mighty fleet before the early Mage Guild caught up with them and imposed sanctions, but the damage was done. Meanwhile, Venn culture had gone underground, though they still had need for arable land.

As the centuries progressed and they benefited from the magic advances of the south, eventually they found their way down the continent and across the world belt. They soon discovered their ships were better than anyone's: some of their mages tried to find their way back to the "old world" and returned with innovations such as modern sailing methods. The Venn, already used to thinking in terms of world travel, set up a complicated navigational net based on magic. With their superior ships and fighting abilities, it enabled them to conquer an enormous kingdom, which solved the problems of food growth at home, when the season of mellow weather might be as little as a couple of months.

The Venn established colonies along Goerael, and here and there along the rest of the coasts of the world, and tangled most often with Toar, who in the early days, were looking for slaves--the whiter the better. The tall, pale Venn seemed ready-made for the role. Hence fiercely fought wars that were abruptly ended by a mage with a sense of humor and a taste for the colorful.

As the empire evolved, the old Viking Houses became the Oneli, the Sea Lords, whose responsibility was tending the empire. Thus the Sea Lords did not count their wealth in land, but in ships--it took a long time for them to value land as wealth, instead of merely a means from which to collect goods and taxes in order to support the family ships. To protect the land, the Hilda, the warriors, developed, but they were regarded for centuries as shipless warriors, lesser. The Hilda families could not serve as Kings, for example, or choose them.

Thralls

The hard labor was done by thralls, who were slaves in everything but name. People became thralls by punishment--wearing the iron torc instead of the finer metals of upper ranks, and all the time, not just at formal gatherings. Their hair was shorn (and kept short) and they wore brown tunics that instantly identified them. Anyone could order a thrall to do anything, but there was politics in whose thralls could be ordered to do what. Thralls were often unwilling sex partners during the years immediately after the Venn came from Earth, but over the centuries the attitude evolved to rejection of thralls: anyone who had to have recourse to a thrall was considered scarcely better than one. Romances between thralls and freemen and women had to be hidden, or the couple left altogether.

Families inherited thralls, who often had to be ordered to reproduce; the system became more unbalanced as years went by, until the last of the old-style kings, Rajnir, summarily declared the system of the born thrall at an end.

Kingship

The oldest system of Kingship evolved from the ancient Thing or choosing. During the empire period the training, choosing, and reigning of a king went in thirty year cycles, called the Breseng, the king-choosing. Each House who wished the honor of providing a king selected the most likely boy born in a Breseng year. He was raised to know he would never reproduce, but if chosen, he would rule for thirty years. His queen was chosen in much the same way. Her function was to oversee civil matters, and as kings and queens were forbidden to reproduce they seldom knew one another other than by sight at official functions; their lives were quite apart, their duties sharply divided.

'Choosing of the king--the Breseng'. At the age of fifteen, the Oneli House leaders interviewed the boys and selected an heir. For fifteen years that heir would be trained in kingship, and at age thirty, he would become king, and the old king would return to the Elders. Those rejected were still given honors, and often formed the new king's inner coterie. Most went into the navy, which was the most exalted of all callings outside of skalt or hel-dancer. Heirs to Houses could not be Breseng boys, so they were always second and even third sons. Likewise, heirs seldom went to sea, but there were many exceptions, usually through circumstances where an heir had been killed, and a second son, far up in the ranks, also became heir.

In theory the Breseng system was meant to keep any one House from predominance, but as do most human systems, it failed. This in part due to the ambitions of the Dags, the mages, specifically one. The chief Dag was the head of the Yaga Krona--the Eyes of the Crown--who were the king's mages, overseeing the empire's well-being, and acting as judges for the king when needed. Their symbol in the earliest days was a golden hawk eye. And the earliest symbol of the Arm of the Crown was a hammer, perhaps the hammer of Thor.

Protecting the king himself were the Erama Krona, the Arm of the crown, whose powers--when the question of royal safety was concerned--transcended any other authority.

The Venn venerated the Way of the Golden Path, the Tree of Ydrasal. After they were warded against the use of magic outside of their borders, their magic developed along lines that the watching mage councils were not able to perceive, as that ward, (eventually called the Arrow) went both ways. There were unsettling reports that blood magic, which once released could never quite be totally stamped out, had been refined in ways that were evident in body art, for example.

Defeat of the Empire

The first great Venn defeat was in 3921, and the last, magical defeat that broke the empire and bound them to their own land behind The Arrow was in 3983. Because of the mages who had gone rogue and done so much damage, the means to impose magical sanctions upon the Venn had to come from the king himself. The gem known as the Sofar Dragoneye, given by Halvir to Tamara, was offered the alliance of mages to take away and perform the bindings upon. The Venn never knew what happened to the stone after that: but they began to long for the day the binding could be lifted.

At that time, the old way of kingship was set aside, to be replaced by the first chosen heir, Halvir Durasnir, who married the remarkable Tadara Sofar. To begin a new dynasty (and as a concession to the other Houses) he adopted his wife's name, thus beginning the ruling family that has lasted (more or less) until the present day. Meanwhile, old colonies developed their own languages and ways, the most famous being Marloven Hess (they were outcasts during the mid-empire days) and Geranda.

See Also

<< Imar | Drael | Lascandiar >>

Page last modified on December 26, 2015, at 11:45 AM