Areah

From Anstepedia


The Hall of Areah
Flag of Areah Missing image
None
Coat of Arms of Areah

(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: "Acharai Kadima" - "Follow After Me"
Anthem: None
Location of Areah
Capital Second Hall of Areah
(since 1A 5255)
First Areah
(1A 4593-1A 4763)
Largest city Areah
Official languages High Ivrit
Religion Adon La'hav
Government
Conclave of Sages
Keeper
Theocracy/Meritocracy

Sage Elisha Atzarai Shel'Zelier
Founded
Aarisan's Enlightenment
1A 4763
Population
 • 3A 4388 est.
 •Makeup
 
220,000 (10th)
>99% Human
Currency None
Extremely xenophobic, outsiders strictly forbidden

Overview

Claiming and selfishly guarding what most would consider an entirely undesirable tract of land, Areah (ey-RAY-ah) has been long established as a monastery-city of sorts in Calenndor’s Northern Tundra. Founded by the enigmatic yet highly revered soldier-missionary known only as Aarisan in the First Age, the great hall is devoted entirely to studying and perfecting the art of the blade. Areah remains almost entirely detached from Calenndor’s politics, barely retaining contact with Valanthas, Xanthia and some human tribes of the Hinterlands. Because of their religious zeal for the art of armed combat, the hall is home to a populace known for their ferocity with the twin blades they all invariably wield when faced with military conflict.

The hall itself is one gigantic complex of pale tan stone, said to shimmer at night in the northern permafrost. Great spires extend from the hall’s base, as over the ages, the interconnected buildings have expanded upward rather than outward. Separate from the structure is a towering perimeter of ancient walls, possessing a number of uniquely decorated and religiously significant gates.

As they have been for millennia, the Sages of Areah are content to ignore the outside world and look only inward to their own affairs, much to the chagrin of a vocal minority within their conclave. Still, the defeat of the Lich King has prompted many within the hall to reconsider their position within the world of large. While this has not forced open their doors for all to enter, it has prompted the leadership to allow for more Blademasters than usual to leave Areah and examine the political climate, so long as they return periodically to train and report their findings.

Major Personalities

Dalin Kayde

Table of contents


Culture and Philosophy

Areah’s culture is built around a religion called Adon La’hav ("Blade Master" in High Ivrit), formed by Aarisan at Areah’s foundation. Intrinsic in this set of beliefs are the values of meditation, mental clarity and physical refinement. As such, for entertainment and training, residents of Areah are expected to practice with each other daily in non-lethal combat, and spend considerable amounts of time in the serenity of the hall’s numerous shrines and gardens.

Despite its notable cultural enlightenment, Areah remains extremely xenophobic, and is entirely closed off to outsiders. Very, rare exceptions have been made in times of dire need or for the sake of influential sages, but such exceptions occur once in a number of centuries. Outsiders, particularly those from the tribes of the Hinterlands, are invariably intercepted by border patrols and ordered to leave under pain of death. Areah records some slain sightseers at the hand of her border guard.

Areah has a very strict age-based and merit-based hierarchy. All children are trained as soldiers for the hall, initiated as Blademasters. As they age, many come to fulfill special roles such as those of a healer or cook, while still continuing their combat training. A selected few focus all of their efforts on physical prowess, and become what are known as Tempests, in Common. These chosen roles persist for most of a Blademaster’s life, until he or she reaches an old age. At that point, many are relieved of duty and revered as Elders, while those who have marked their career with great service to the hall are given the title and honor of Sage, and inducted into the leadership conclave.

The appreciation of literature and written knowledge is highly valued in Areah’s society, to the point where Areai refer to themselves as “B’nei Sefer,” or “Children of the Book.” Though residents have very little personal contact with the outside world, Areah is known even to the Central Kingdoms for importing vast amounts of books from all corners of the world. Most of their study is still devoted to remnants of Aarisan’s Book of Swords, a partially lost text narrating the life of the warrior-missionary and illustrating the core beliefs of Adon La’hav. Volumes of commentary and interpretation of this puzzling text can be found within Areah's library, each representing the hard work and devotion of a number of sages. Residents of Areah are also familiar with its deep underbelly of ancient catacombs, containing holy tombs and volumes of ancient knowledge. Maps to these tunnels have long since been lost, along with most of the literature stored therein. Because of their holy nature, dubious structural integrity, and spiraling complexity, the catacombs have been sealed and abandoned for ages. This is despite the wealth of literature, artifacts, and as it is rumored, even the lost chapters to the Book of Swords stored within. Writings from long-dead scholars also allude to a 'rosetta stone' between High Ivrit and the lost language of Noble Aracthan buried in the tombs.

In addition to reading books, Areai also read the stars. Some of Calenndor’s only observatories are built atop the hall’s spires, and are used constantly. The sages in particular, and some of their younger students attribute great value to interpreting astrologic omens, and have predicted great catastrophes (including, it is said, the sinking of Unath) with great accuracy. The secrets to this augury are very closely guarded by the senior members of the Sage’s Conclave, kept even from other sages and veteran Blademasters.

All residents of Areah are taught from birth to be reverent towards the conclave and the hall itself. Personal priorities always place the protection of the hall over self-preservation, and Blademasters are quick to place the lives of their own before those of their kin. Unnecessary self sacrifice, however, is frowned upon, especially when considering Areah’s small but growing population.

The Family Unit

Residents of Areah have no distinct clans or platonic nuclei. Instead, personal ties are established by a unique blend of family and military unit, called a “tzevet.” These usually consist of approximately nine individuals, arranged by a special committee of sages. From birth, children are raised communally, though each has a primary caretaker chosen by the sages. Caretakers can, of course, be responsible for a number of children, and tzevets are often arranged according to groups of children under the charge of one caretaker. Many caretakers are chosen from among the younger elders, though very rarely, a sage will take the responsibility for a particularly promising youth.

Names given to children in Areah reflect this communal upbringing. Residents typically have first names and surnames, but these surnames are dependant more on defining characteristics than the child’s parents. Bloodlines and family trees are carefully traced and mapped, however, and children will be specially noted in their full names if they carry the blood of prominent historical figures.

Members of a tzevet are by no means isolated in terms of social contact. In fact, mingling with members of other units is highly encouraged. Love and marriage are permitted within or outside of tzevets, though childbearing is regulated by another committee of sages to preserve bloodlines and prevent incest. Residents who marry outside of their tzevet are warned, however, that their priorities on the battlefield is to their unit first, and then their spouse or children. This, understandably, causes sporadic conflicts.

Overall, residents of Areah share a very strong communal bond along with a sense of camaraderie. In the hall’s Ivrit slang, the various words and phrases for “my friend” are interchangeable with those for “my brother” or “my sister.” Commanders of a tzevet are referred to as “my father” or “my mother,” and Sages and elders are invariably referred to as “my grandfather” or “my grandmother,” regardless of how distant the actual blood relation may be. Because of these close ties, any loss of life among Areai is not taken lightly.

Crime and Punishment

Crime is a rare but persistent reality in Areah. While the close familial bonds and strictly regulated teachings of Adon La’hav curb crime rates, there is still the occasional theft or assault. Hearings are tried by a judicial committee of Sages and senior Blademasters, and most punishments involve imprisonment, demotion and/or mandatory assignment to less desirable duties within the hall. Harsher punishments, particularly for military insubordination, include exile and marking by branding or disfigurement. For religious reasons, capital punishment is abhorred in Areai society, and has only twice been carried out in Areah's entire history - both for grievous crimes of high treason. The judicial committee is widely regarded as fair and just.

In cases of affronts to personal honor, duels to the death are permitted but tightly regulated. Both parties must consent in writing, and a request for approval from the judicial committee must be granted. Duels are an extreme, and only a small number of them have ever occurred within Areah’s long history. Most revolved around heated political debate, and many prominent figures of Areah’s history have engaged in sanctioned duels.

Military

Areah has no civilians. Every resident of the hall is obligated to serve as a soldier, and expected to train daily in the art. Many serve additional non-combat roles, but are granted only little excuse from the basic training undergone by all Blademasters. Men and women serve equally, with the same expectations held for both except in the case of a woman’s pregnancy. The military is itself is managed by senior Blademaster commanders, who, under the Sages’ guidance, arrange tactics and handle promotions or demotions. Since military rank and social caste are inherently linked, soldiers develop a very strong will to be noticed, and competition for promotions is fierce. Commanders must constantly deal with cases of excessive ‘heroism,’ and rebuke soldiers who risk their lives unnecessarily. Most focus this competitive nature into a drive to hone their skills, and it is no wonder that Areah is home to the finest swordsmen of Calenndor, if not all of Feanor.

Until very recently, war has been a constant reality for the Areai. Endless attacks from agents of the Lich King and other entities within Sargothas had etched their mark on Areah’s population in the past. At the same time, however, they offered Areah’s warriors a constant source of real combat experience, so long as they could live to put it to later use. Areah has also withstood attacks from several tribes in the Hinterlands, though only one of those attacks ever pushed as far as Areah’s perimeter walls. The destruction of the Lich King has recently afforded Areah a temporary lull in hostilities, though all signs indicate that the hall should spend this time preparing to face another, more fearsome foe.

Calls to arms in Areah mean a halt in all but a few essential societal roles in the hall. Since all capable residents are obligated to fight, any cooks, masons, or other artisans must immediately cease all activity and take up their blades. For this reason, many roles within the society are assigned with redundancy in mind to ensure that the in the unpleasant but realistic likelihood of casualties, the hall’s infrastructure is not similarly crippled.

Training

Stories are told of how children in Areah are given swords before they are given names. This is, in fact, technically true. The very naming ceremony of a newborn involves the storage of two blades that the child is expected to later use. Training actually begins once the child develops the capability for speech. This initial training includes no combat, but focuses on developing coordination, specific motor skills, and, in particular, ambidexterity.

True fighting begins shortly before combat experience, when youths are given their first practice weapons and engage in their first spars. From then on, they are expected to train with ever-increasing intensity and acuity. If a particular individual displays extraordinary talent at a young age, they are recruited into the “Kharutzei No’ar,” or “Youth Adepts,” many of whom later go on to become Tempests. Additionally, any predisposition to magic is noted and developed within another separate, more secretive group of Blademaster-magi called the "Kishufim." At the age of thirteen, young Blademasters are given the twin long swords that had been put aside for them, and are officially initiated into the military. These younger soldiers are, however, usually assigned far safer duties than those of their older and more experienced comrades.

True Areai eschew all types of weapons aside from the specifically designed and crafted blades given to them in the hall, as per spiritual law laid down by Aarisan. Despite this, it is rare, but not unheard of for those traveling abroad to apply their principles to other arts and arms. Those that do, however, often still prefer the long swords they were born and raised with. Unarmed combat is also taught in the military training to all young Areai.

Military Structure and Organization

Areah is not overburdened with an abundance of ranks, though there exist a number of hierarchal divisions. Blademasters are divided between the normal soldiers referred to as “Khayalim” (Singular: “Khayal”), and the officer caste known as the “Aviirim” (Singular: “Aviir”). Invitation to the Aviirim is considered one of the highest honors for an active-duty Blademaster, and indicates that that individual is well on his or her way to later becoming a Sage.

The smallest unit in Areah’s military structure consists of three fighters and is called a “Shu’lash” (Plural: “Shu’lashim”). The three fighters assigned to a Shu’lash will constantly train to fight together as a solid body, particularly in a triangular formation called a “Darvan,” or “Spur.” The Darvan, of course, is just one of many tactics designed for the Shu’lash unit. Shu’lashim have no individual leader, and each of the three in the unit are considered equal.

From the Shu’lash level, organizational structure increases in degrees of three. Three shu’lashim compose a tzevet, or squad. Three squads compose a platoon. Three platoons compose a brigade, and so on until the entire army of soldiers is assembled. The lowest rank of Aviir is in command of approximately 300 soldiers, while the highest ranking Aviir commands the entire army, taking orders only from the sage conclave.

Areah also has a number of elite units, specialized for particularly challenging or unique campaigns.

Seh'arim (Tempests)

A select few of Areah’s core warrior base are selected for there exemplary talent with the blade. These soldiers are granted the honor and title of “Seh'ara” or "Tempest." Tempests assemble within their own teams and component units. Generally, these warriors are placed at the front lines, leading by example for their younger and slightly less adept compatriots. As Areah is a very merit-based society, it is common for Tempests to see promotion into the ranks of the Aviirim, though it can not always be expected.

Kishufim (Mages)

Young Blademasters with an inclination towards magic are identified at an early age and taught the vast wealth of Areah’s arcane knowledge. In the hall, they serve duties such as conjuration and preservation of food, or assistance with basic building maintenance. On the battlefield, the Kishufim match martial prowess with arcane fury, and provide the equivalent of tactical artillery for their front-line compatriots. They are also trained as healers, prepared to treat serious wounds that cannot be mended by any other means. Their art is kept with even more secrecy than that of Adon La’hav itself, and only the higher ranks of the Aviirim can even hope to be informed of their obscure nature.

Kanaiim (Zealots)

Ages of combat with the Lich King of Sargothas have lead Areah to develop tactics specifically designed to counter this threat. The result of research and rituals has been the establishment of the Kanaiim. Chosen from birth with the aid of magical augury, a very small number of infants are infused with spiritually purified and magically contained essence of the Lich King himself, stolen in the aftermath of one of Areah’s invasions of Sargothas. These unique soldiers are trained as berserkers, possessing capabilities and resilience far beyond that of any mere mortal. Kanaiim are recognized by their bright red uniforms and inability to speak, instead using telepathy to communicate. Like the undead they have been molded into, they emanate a magical aura of fear, and are known to howl like banshees when unleashed upon the battlefield. Kanaiim have their own wing of Areah devoted to their quarters and rituals, and usually keep to themselves.

Conclave of Ravim (Sages)

All Blademasters are given the option to retire as they reach a particular age, and are forced to retire when they can no longer effectively fight. Many simply gain the status of Elder, while a few are chosen by a conclave vote to become Ravim (Sages). Sages serve many roles within the society. They are lawmakers, judges, healers, tacticians, scholars, and instructors for the younger generations. Most, when inducted to the conclave, begin training in minor magic arts, primarily for the sake of clerical duties, though this is only ever met with limited success. The number of sages varies greatly depending on internal political climate and overall population, but is never very high. The conclave has one presiding figurehead, known as the "Shamor Ravim" or "Conclave Keeper," an individual elected every five years, with no limit on consecutive terms.

All sages receive an equal vote in conclave decisions, while the Conclave Keeper may veto any movement that does not receive a 70% majority of votes.

History

Aarisan's Enlightenment

Foundation

Fall of First Areah

Second Areah