The Royal Library

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The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 00:25:08 Saturday, 28 March, 2015

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Deep within the heart of Gerand's Keep proper, past the walls and through the ramshackle seaside town and palatial estates that flank it on both sides, is the royal library. Expanded upon by King Ossian III to its present size, it is perhaps the largest library in the nation after the Bookhouse of Massalia and the Pantheon's archives. Accessible to all who can pass the scrutiny required to enter the Royal Castle, nearly everything not considered utter anathema to the dictates of the Nine-from-Three can be found here.


OOC: Using this to cover background stuff, will be updated as necessary. If something isn't found here, feel free to contact me for more details.
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
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Re: The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 18:25:48 Thursday, 02 April, 2015

Brother Against Brother: On the Saenwyne Civil War
By Iosith of Gaseriana, Scribe to the Shofet of Kharkhedon
...into the fourteenth year of Carlon Tremayne's reign, the realm teetered on the brink of war. Carlon's court was known much more for their decadence and lavish expenditure than for any meaningful reforms, and in the aftermath of the War of Elephant's Bay, the King had seen fit to concentrate as much authority as possible in the hands of his inner circle. This, combined with several years of famine, the resentment of the burghers (and, in a rare display of unity, both of the larger trade guilds) for the failure of the Crown to protect their rights in the war with Kharkhedon and the constant erosion of what was traditionally considered the rights of the King's vassals, set the stage for what would later be referred to as either “the Pretender's Strife” or “the Restoration War”.

All the sparks that threatened to turn into a wildfire needed was somebody to fan the flames and by 810 AE, Fergus Louarn had decided that he was that somebody. The Duke of Moryd, from a family as old as the Tremaynes and Redlances, had long been outside the King's inner circle. Though he was popular enough at court, his refusal to condone the royal extravagances and heroism in the war with Kharkhedon had earned him Carlon's enmity. With Moryd's historical connections across the continent and one of the largest available levies in the realm at his back, Fergus chose neither to flee court or oppose House Tremayne, instead cultivating his ties to the other disenchanted parties. It was only when Carlon attempted to revoke the title of one of his vassals, Count Ilyes of Marchmont, that he chose to strike. Louarn and his backers submitted the Declaration of the Rights of the Realm, demanding that the King's council approve it and have their authority weakened significantly or else have King Carlon removed.

Naturally, of course, they said no, and Carlon called for the arrest of every signatory of the Declaration. While Sir Jace Kern, his marshal at the time, balked at the idea of arresting two dukes, several counts, and many of the realms more powerful barons and burghers, Lord Fergus used the opportunity provided to strike. Escaping to Pennsbridge Keep, he and his conspirators met for three days and nights before issuing a second, more meaningful decree. No longer would they be subject to the tyranny of King Carlon and part of a realm full of what they viewed as lapdogs, but members of the Confederation-in-Moryd, an alliance of (nominal) equals seeking what they viewed as a restoration of their own rights. Supported by anti-royalist factions of both more moderate and radical views, the war for Saenwyn had begun.

Nearly all of Moryd had declared for their liege, and Lathair followed suit, though the latter was not without its detractors. King Carlon issued a call to arms in response, though only Tailledun and Cambaern (again, with plenty of detractors), along with plenty of royalist minor lords, brought their forces to the levy at Solange's Folly. As House Guefet, with its long-time friendship with the merchant class, and the ever-cautious House Redlance ignored the summons on both sides, battle lines were drawn, only to be shattered almost immediately by a series of lightning offensives by the Confederation. Within the first few years of the war's outbreak, the Confederation had linked up with their supporters in Cambaern, besieged Dainhall, and taken control over the northern Montrau's River. By the time that the royal army was on the move, Lord Hugon Adair had already obtained the right of passage through Massalia, and soon the two forces began to clash in the earnest.
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Approximate extent of the Confederation's control with neutral Duchies, 815 AE
This period -the first four years of the war- is largely, and not inaccurately, considered the apex of the Confederation's power. The combined Crownlands forces under King Carlon suffered defeat after defeat as Lord Fergus moved north, swatting away Carlon's forces and killing Lord Vicent Kern on the field of battle. Only his son, Jace Kern, managed to maintain the integrity of his forces, and as the Confederation moved to besiege Gerand's Keep, he issued a now-famous ultimatum. “I have two sworn to oaths to you, sire,” the new lord proclaimed. “An oath to defend your family and an oath to defend your crown. If you can't keep the first, then by the Nine, I won't let you keep the second.” Faced with the desertion of his most powerful ally, the King (now disparaged as 'Carlon Surefoot') agreed with his vassal's demands. His sons, Jowan and Gustave, were sent away, and he prepared for his final battle.

Thus began the second phase of the war. Fergus Louarn took the walls of Gerand's Keep with the aid of sympathetic merchants, and declared (in the midst of several power plays from his supporters), the temporary abolition of the monarchy “until Carlon's heir does treat with us”, cemented by the execution of King Carlon. As the Kerns fortified Tailledun against an anti-royalist offensive and the Dains left to defend their homes, the Confederation-in-Moryd had become the Confederation of Saenwyn. Prince Gustave left for Voslavja, attempting to rally support from the exodus of royalist nobility and the warlike locals. Prince Jowan, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found: first, he would surface on Epos Island, only to be sent running, then just as quickly, rumors of his royal presence on the Claw were confirmed, only for him to disappear again.

But as soon as the Confederation cemented its own power from outside threats, an internal struggle threatened to rupture them. Lord Adair came into conflict with the burghers and petty nobility after vehemently advocating the peaceful return of House Tremayne under the original terms of the Declaration. The burghers, meanwhile, began to vouch for a total abolition of the monarchy (and in even more extreme cases, the feudal system). When the heir to Lathair was abducted and later found dead by a group that called itself the 'Wynriver Knot', Fergus Louarn -now styling himself First of the Confederation, Custodian of the Realm and Lord Regent- saw no choice but to end the conflict by eliminating both the republican and moderate wings of his government from positions of power. While effective in cementing his control over Lord Adair and the anti-royalist army, however, the dissent and factionalism continued, with many republicans threatening their own war or turning to banditry and hired swords. For Lord Jace and the scattered royalists, it was time to strike.

The first move was Prince Gustave's return from the Marches with a small army of exiled nobility and foreign supporters drawn to his cause, the Outriders of the Prince. Crossing the mountainous border into Lathair, with the support of the yeomen and disenchanted nobles, they fought their way across the border province to add his forces to his brothers. The uncrowned King Jowan, meanwhile, just after seeing the birth of his son, returned to Nolvagne to raise his banner among the Clawborne. Rather than risk a confrontation, Lord Douglass Redlance chose to tacitly ignore the ragtag royal army, giving Jowan a chance to slip south and meet with the remaining Dains, who promptly acknowledged and crowned their new liege at Dainhall. With House Tremayne's ragtag army of Clawborne, Marchers, and loyal nobles at Dainhall and Tailledun's levies amassing for one final battle, the royalists now had a fighting chance.

The two sides thus met in two battles within weeks of each other. The impetuous Lord Adair, seizing upon what could have been his last opportunity for glory and influence in the Confederation, moved south from Gerand's Keep to the border with Tailledun, meeting Lord Kern's forces outside the village of Hornbow. Three times he attacked, even once forcing Kern to personally fend off the assault of the Duke of Lathair's cavalry while dismounted and surrounded, and three times he was repulsed. The Confederation lines slowly crumbled against Tailledun's counterattack, and Adair himself was captured and killed trying to escape. With no time to lose, Jace Kern wheeled south and forced a march towards Cambaern.

It was help that would be appreciated, for despite the momentum shift, the army of House Tremayne immediately began to suffer setbacks. Harassed by the Confederation on all sides, the two royal brothers began a slow withdrawal towards Ividal, who had negotiated loans on behalf of the embattled House. A strange game of cat-and-mouse begun with both sides attempting to slow the other's progress, only to be ended nearly when it started when the Crown chose to fight and pray to the Nine for the arrival of Lord Jace.

The Battle of Pilgrim's Pass began at dawn in a valley flanked by forest hills, once used as a trade route until the Alsheraadi conquerors and their Dwarven slaves built a stone highway throughout the southern continent. King Jowan sat atop a hill within plain sight of his men in a stolen suit of armor and wielding his grandfather's sword, while Fergus Louarn had taken the right flank with his heavy cavalry, wearing plain chainmail and noted only for his lack of a helmet. For two hours, Marcher skirmishers and Confederation bowmen met with little in the way of effective action, only to give way to a Confederation spearwall slowly advancing uphill and meeting the vicious charge of the Clawborne. The line held against the undisciplined clansmen, however, despite taking severe losses, and those clansmen who didn't rout soon fell against Louarn's veterans. In for the kill, the Regent and his cavalry charged, hoping to use the momentum to cause a royalist collapse. Instead, Gustave's outriders came upon them from the hills, and the battle began in earnest. Until nightfall, both sides clashed to neither's victory.
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The Betrayal of House Louarn at the Hands of the Ashen Lords, artist unknown
And then, his army exhausted but eager, Jace Kern appeared on the horizon. Emboldened by the sight of his ally, Jowan sounded a charge, spreading his lines thin to envelop and flank the Confederation while Jace made an escape impossible. Even the Ashen Lords, the Duke of Moryd's most elite sellswords, switched sides mid-battle, turning on Fergus' cavalry. Within a matter of hours, Fergus Louarn was in chains.

The last two years of the war went as smoothly as war ever does. A triumvirate of Confederation figures -the 17-year old Tristan Louarn, the Representative of the League of the City of Glass, and the Count Southmarch- attempted to take the helm of the rebellion, directing resistance actions and levying all available forces. But it was too little and too late, for the Duke of Nolvagne and the newly-inherited Duchess of Massalia used to battle to declare for the King. Douglass Redlance, though derided as “the Late”, moved on Moryd, taking the City of Glass easily and besieging Melrose. Lady Jehan-Prospere, meanwhile, took the first step in proving (or at least using as justification) her allegiance to the king by seizing the ships of several "pro-Confederation" supporters, cracking down on the burghers who still proclaimed allegiance to the rebellion, and sending her husband through matrilineal marriage off to root out any rebellious nobles. By the time King Jowan, Prince Gustave, and Lord Jace marched on Gerand's Keep, the war was all but won.

The aftermath, of course, is known to all who study our neighbors to the north. King Jowan stripped several leading conspirators of the rebellion of their titles and inheritance, giving the Duchy of Lathair to his brother and partitioning the lands around Southmarch to be held by the second son of Lord Jace Kern. He died a scant two years later, however, and the crown was placed on the brow of his first son, young Corentin. Fergus Louarn was drawn and quartered as a regicide by orders of the Prince Regent, only for the Blood Royal to be forced to resign and hand over the regency to Jace Kern. But as the nation recovers, with a royal presence in Pennsbridge, House Redlance having filled its coffers with the sack of the City of Glass, and the ambitious Duchess of Massalia seeking to cement her place as a feminine power in a country ruled by men...
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
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Re: The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 01:11:38 Saturday, 11 April, 2015

Religions and Faiths of the Continent, both True and Heretickal

written by Patriarch Mors of Illenbridge, learned-brother of the Holy Throne, in 703 AE
“Pantheon of Extribus”

The most predominant of all the major religions of the Continent, practiced from the northernmost reaches of Alsheraa to the Marches, and gaining traction among the Greater and Lesser Kkham, the Pantheon is well-regarded even among heretics, witches, and blasphemers, if only for the sheer power it commands. While the faith itself has existed since the first incursions of the Elves of the south, the true date of the foundation of the Pantheon coincides with the inception of the Holy Throne as a political entity, two hundred years before the Elf-fall. Following a guerrilla war led by the crusading Xander the Prophet, the Alsheraadi ceded the lands north of the River Daral Harib and west of the Worldsfall Mountains, the area then known as either the Haribban Potentate or the Almovar Ranges. With the creation of this independent state, the first codifier of the traditions of the Nine-from-Three (as it is colloquially called) was elected unanimously by all attending as Steward of the Holy Throne, a title that would evolve into the position of First Patriarch.

The predominant tenets of the Pantheon are known to all, but it is, for the sake of comparison, still worth listing the major beliefs. The world, and all its inhabitants, were born from the Nine, who in turn, were born from the Three. Whether these Three were born in turn of some ultimate deity or have existed since the beginning, it is unknown- but what we do know is that these great deities -the Husband, the Wife, and the Wild One- are responsible for the three more personal gods, the ones we give reverence to. In the words of the Proclamation of Xander:

'For it is from the meeting of the Husband and the Wife that we have the Farmer, caretaker of the smallfolk and the commons, protector of the meek and the one who claims the hard-workers as His own in the Beyond, favoring His Father; and the Lady of War, patron of soldiers and the defenders of their homes, the one who claims the glorious dead as Her own in the Beyond, favoring Her Mother.

'For it is from the meeting of the Husband and the Wild One that we have the Barbarian, caretaker of those un-anointed in the Pantheon, bringer of chaos and strife and humbler of the mighty, favoring His Progenitor; and the Woods Witch, caretaker of the settlers of the deep wilds and adventurers, favoring Her Father and claiming the anointed who worship none other.

'For it is from the meeting of the Wife and the Wild One that we have the Lover, patron of those who follow their hearts truly and the one who claims those who protect their own as His children in the Beyond, favoring His Mother; and the Laughing Widow, who protects the artists, the musicians, and claims those who keep joy in their hearts as they live without regard for the consequences or the doubts of naysayers, favoring Her Progenitor.

'And it is from each of the Three that three more emerged. First, from the Husband, there came the King, caretaker of the rulers and those who seek to be rulers, favoring strength and honor above all else, and claiming those who die amidst power. Second, from the Wife, there came the Matriarch, caretaker of those who sought not power, but piety, those who held to their faith and the Pantheon above all else, and claiming those who died righteously. And third, and lastly, there came the Magician, born of the Wild One, patron of the unpredictable, of the mages and bringer of the Art. It claimed none but the practioners of magick and those who brought great uncertainty to the world, and it is Its actions that led the Three to awake from Their slumber and remove the force of magick from the lives of the common folk.'

These Nine are the gods that watch over us in our daily lives, and omnipotent in their sphere, these Nine are the ones that dictate to us what the righteous path should be. There are priests and priestesses dedicated to each of these Nine, accordingly, it is from their ranks that the Deacons and Women of the Faith are chosen. In turn, of course, it is these Deacons that are selected for the rank of Archdeacon, whose ranks in turn inspire the selection of Patriarch, and so on...

...and it from these ranks that we know that magick has truly left the world, and the only forces left are those of Man and the other...

“Vidal's Pantheon”

Elsewise known as the Ividalan Faith, this religion -largely, as one would assume, limited to the people in the demesne of the Holy Kingdom of Ividal- is derived from the faith of the Pantheon of Extribus. It should not come as a surprise, then, that the holiest figure of the Ividalan Faith bears some superficial similarities to Xander the Prophet, for they both claim a significant role in the history of the Continent, to say nothing of the personality traits they both held in common.

Said holy figure, Vidal the First, formed the nation of Ividal only seven years after the Elf-fall, in which the Alsheraadi forces were defeated by a coalition of disparate Saenwyne lords and Vidal's holy warriors. Initially supported by the Pantheon of Extribus, the First Patriarch was soon dissapointed when King Vidal claimed that the Extriban explanation was entirely wrong. There were no Nine, Vidal said, only the Three and the aspects thereof...and that therefore, any attempt at worshipping the heroes and magician-kings of years past was folly and heresy...

...since that fateful split in the Third Ividal War, the deacons of the Pantheon and the Ividalan Grey Priests have fought a shadow war, with words, coin, and faith instead of swords....

“The Heavenly Brothers”

A faith predominantly adhered to amongst Kharkhedonians to the south, the basis of this oddity is that two gods, “Zun” and “Soma”, brothers in some interpretations, a genderless pairing in others, are responsible for the creation of the world - and are embodied in this day and age as the heavenly spheres, the Sun and the Moon respectively.

Through their infighting they clashed and created the world as we know it, yet neither was powerful enough to overcome the other and rule the world in its entirety, and thus the rhythms and patterns of the world are manifestations of their battling - from the lengthening and shortening of the days and nights, to the seasons themselves. It said in their annals that in the past Soma, the Moon, held dominance over much of the world, but in a great fight one eclipse, Zun shattered Soma’s strength and he diminished. As a result, Soma took part of his broken strength and forged the stars to bolster his dimming brightness against Zun’s strength.

Other observations of note include that the Kharkhedonians believe magick never truly belonged to Man, and was a blessing from the Gods. To this end, there are a number of bickering interpretations for the power’s disappearance from the land, including that it was meant only to raise Man out from amongst the beasts, and that other Men, especially those followers of the Pantheon of Extribus, have misused the powers and thus they were withdrawing.

Soma is often worshipped by farmers and those depending on crops, who draw some link between the pale light of the Moon and the sap of plants; Zun is often viewed for his relation to time and decay. However, there is little to no infighting between those who favour either God, as they are often, despite their warring, viewed as a bound pair intrinsic to the other.


“Kazar”

The followers of Kazar, or Kazarans, believe in an all powerful god of everything, but particularly life and death. In keeping with the war-like culture associated with the Senevni, this Kazar is a particularly violent master, who blesses and raises up the souls of fallen heroes, who join with their God, and feeds upon the souls of slain enemies to sustain himself.

As such, the Senevni people largely use this as an excuse to wage wars, both amongst themselves and with their neighbours. They have blamed bad harvests, disastrous weather, defeats in war, and most of all the disappearance of magick, on a lack of souls being supplied to Kazar - or on the conversion of his followers.


“Unnism”

The Elves worship a far more curious idea, one as alien to our way of thinking as they are themselves. The believe in a sense of the “Eternal Creation”, a concept that states that the universe has always existed and will always exist, and can be embodied by a flame, which they refer to as “Un” - a contracting and expanding eternal fire that symbolises the universe, changing over time from soldering embers to roaring infernos and all stages in between.

It is a peculiar and difficult to grasp faith, maintained only by the Elves and ill-explained to outsiders and non-elves, who even during the zenith of the Sharifate’s expansion, were expected only to adhere and obey, rather than comprehend. Worship was commanded of those lower and freely given by those higher at consecrated “Firehalls” - elaborate structures of stone that seemed to sway and move before your eyes, though whether by design or queer Elven magicks it is unclear. These Firehalls were focused around carefully maintained flames, connected to furnaces deep within the structures.

Other peculiar indicators of Unnism include its fierce repression of heretics and heresies, often purging or cleansing them with rituals fires. This is typically in contrast to other practices of the faith, which has been a largely quiescent force, though insidious and relentless in its spreading.
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
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Re: The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 03:03:16 Monday, 11 May, 2015

The Rise and Fall of the Saenwyne Inquisition

addendum to the writings of Patriarch Mors of Illenbridge, made by Archdeacon Philipp of the City of Glass in 810.
Since the liberation of great swathes of land from Elven tyranny by Xander the Prophet, inquisitions have been a feature of the Pantheon wherever it has spread - first as an element of judicial enforcement in the Holy Throne to the west, before becoming a religious weapon against heresy and blasphemy. The beginnings of the Saenwyne Inquisitions are rooted in a later time, though.

With the defeat of the Sharifate around 435 AE, House Laeneirn came to rule great swathes of land, which were consolidated in 450 AE into the Kingdom of Saenwyn with the blessing of the First Patriarch. Attached to this recognition, however, were a number of conditions designed to ensure the unity of the new country and the piety of its rulers - the land was newly liberated, and overrun by divisive and subversive elements. The Saenwyne Inquisition was formed under the leadership of Patriarch Malleus, Saenwyn's highest clergyman, and set out for the next two hundred years. Instrumental in the early years of the Kingdom, it helped preserve the religious unity of the country, particularly when Vidal the First hewed off from the Pantheon in his ignorance.

Making use of their priestly magicks, moral authority, ruthless efficiency, and other weaponry, they instilled fear in the enemies of the Nine - essentially working to expel non-believers, obtain conversions, and fund campaigning against the Elves and other infidels. Their power peaked in 661 AE when former High Inquisitor, Archdeacon Antoin of Dryndin, became Patriarch of Saenwyn. At the same time, the House of Laeneirn was weakened by succession crises, leading the Church to become a powerful faction within the Kingdom, orchestrating the implementation of numerous religiously based laws that exerted at least some degree of influence over most aspects of Saenwyne life. However this period of power was not to last - when the last Laeneirn King died, the Patriarchs at first backed opposing parties, and with the ascension of House Tremayne found itself having to surrender boons that had been granted it.

Thus began the long decline of the Inquisition. While dedicated adherents of the Nine and pious besides, House Tremayne's early kings took the Inquisition to task on its excesses, strengthening again the laws set in place by the early Laeneirn Kings to ensure the religious tribunals were accountable to Royal authority and submitted those convicted to secular punishment. Various rules and laws were also repealed, and after standing in opposition to what became an increasingly vital and strengthened monarchy, the influence of the Inquisitions faded. Indeed, their decline persisted throughout the 600s and 700s - to the extent that their standing was recently derided by the Council of Archdeacons as being "a relic of centuries past", now utilised more as a tool of censorship than a tribunal against heresy...
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
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Re: The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 19:36:12 Sunday, 26 February, 2017

The Cultures of Tir Bhaile

Unity from Division: The Saenwyne Peoples
A true crossroads of Tir Bhaile, the domain of the Tremaynes has been host to a dozen different peoples, all of which have left their mark upon the Kingdom of Saenwyn. It is a land where dwarven ruins played host to battles between elves and their slaves, where the ferocity of the Burgones has mingled with the rugged spirit of the An Saennan, whose wars are won with Massalian coin and Norvhen blades. But it is these differences that have made the kingdom stronger, despite its countless intrigues and occasional civil wars; the Marches and Oscella may have been lost, but the nation has emerged as a curious whole. The blood of a commoner working the Cambaernian fields may differ from that a burgher in the City of Glass, and the latter's accent may be found curious by a scheming Massalian baron or his Crownlander rival, but they are still one nation, with one tongue, one crown, and one way of life.

An Saennan

The An Saennan, also known as Heartlanders, may not be the original inhabitants of the lands which take their name, but there is little doubt as to their prominence. Hailing from the northern shore of the Moryn Bay and arriving in the realm approximately four centuries before the Elf-fall, the first An Saennan had a mixed reputation as warlike barbarians, known first for their raiding culture and their service to both sides of the rebellions that led to the demise of the Alsheraadi Sharifate in the region. With the gradual defeat of the slave-armies of the elves, however, came the establishment of the modern Saenwyne political system: the clan system of the An Saennan turned into a patchwork system of septs, lairds, and petty kings. Their gradual expansion throughout the modern realm (and to a much lesser degree, Kharkhedon, Ividal, and the Boeric Archipelago) gave the nation -now one of the largest in Tir Bhaile- many of its place names, and its individualistic culture and original faith, revolving largely around ancestor worship, made the conversion of its people to the Pantheon of Extribus an easy feat.

To this day, despite having adopted many customs of the Burgones, the An Saennan are known for their fierce independence, reflected in the popular conception of the nation as “the Folk and Gentry of Saenwyn”. Even the nobility recognize this peculiar trait: one need only look to the recent conflict that engulfed the nation as to what happens when a would-be tyrant ignores the traditions of his people. The An Saennan are most prominent in the Crownlands and Tailledun, but stretch through southern Nolvagne and northern Massalia towards Cambaern, although their influence is felt across the nation and most can claim at least some An Saennan blood: a particular point of pride among much of nobility is how “pure” they are related to the early High Kings. Prominent houses include the Royal House Tremayne, House Kern, and House Louarn, although many claim the last has adopted Burgone customs far too well.

Na Faolchloinn

The first humans to populate Saenwyn, the Na Faolchloinn (or Nolvhen, in the Trade Tongue) have a history as storied as their An Saennan cousins. Theirs was the first true kingdom in the realm, excepting the foreign Alsheraadi and the vanished dwarves, and the lands of Gleann Ruaidh once stretched across all of what is now Nolvagne (a name believed to have been derived from the name the Wolf's Children gave themselves) and into the Crownlands. Famed for their resistance to the Burgone invasion, the Nolvhen bent the knee only with the Second Ascendancy of the An Saennan, and to this day the Children refuse many of the customs of the “southrons”, although even their greatest lords have acquiesced in adoption of the realm's hybrid culture when it comes to matters of religion and government.

The purest Na Faolchloinn live on the Claw, a region of peninsulas jutting out into the sea, where their language and and the practices of their clannish culture -tanistry, blood feuds, and so forth- remain the strongest. Most Nolvhen are stereotyped as rather dour, backwards people (albeit known for their strong royalist views), although said people often accuse their lords of being soft and decadent in the face of courtly tradition: an accusation that is most usually leveled at the only prominent Na Faolchloinn house, the Redlances.

The Saeno-Burgones

The Burgones, as a people, do not truly exist anymore. Intermarriage with the An Saennan has led to their assimilation within the peoples of Saenwyne: but with that assimilation has came an influence over the Saenwyne culture that rivals that of the An Saennan. Having displaced and later absorbed the Moryn people in the wake of the Alsheraadi conquest of the Ingthorp Mountains, the Burgones spent several centuries as overlords of Lathair and Cambaern, warring with the elves and An Saennan alike, in the process spreading their own customs: Burgone horsemanship became the model for mounted knights, their traditions of honor became the chivalric ideal, and the titles for their war leaders became the modern ranks of Baron, Count, and Duke.

This became particularly pronounced after House Laeneirn, with the First Patriarch's blessing, united the Saenwyne fiefs against the elves. Rather than resist, the Burgones acknowledged the An Saennan ascendancy, and thus came about the modern Saeno-Burgones, who claim descent from both native cultures, and are now known as much for their vaunted (to the point of vanity, some might say) ideals of chivalry and honor masking a well-known love of politicking and intrigue. The Saeno-Burgones are most prominent in the west of Saenwyn, from which the languid, nasally “Westron” accent derives its origins, and the Marches of Voslavja. Most noble families in Moryd, Lathair, and Cambaern can claim some Saeno-Burgone heritage (whether they do or not is another story entirely), as well as many merchants in Tailledun and the Crownlands, such as the Odile family. House Dain and the fallen House Adair are considered by many to be the most prominent Saeno-Burgone lines, although the Louarns are considered by more traditional families to have crossed the divide as well.

Massalians

Popular wisdom has it that "if you scratch the paint off a Gold-blood, you'll find yourself a Kharkhedonian." While not strictly true in an academic sense -the Massalian people are by and large the equal descendants of the Burgones and the Kharkhedonians who once ruled the region- culturally, it is quite appropriate. The region of Massalia, seated on the north of Elephant's Bay, has its origins in the Burgone conquests: originally, the region was purely a Burgone one, an influence seen equally in its many castles and deadly intrigues. With the rise of the First Kharkedonian Republic, however, the region was swiftly conquered, ruled by a network of vassal-kings who relied on the locals to police the lands and maintain the trade that made it relevant to their masters in the grand city of Daena. Intermingling birthed the Massalians: an olive-skinned people set apart from their realm with their irreligious nature, mercantile ways, and relatively equal status for women.

At their worst, the Gold-blooded are stereotyped as a people who believe integrity is something one can purchase at the market, while defenders of the culture point to the meritocratic values, artistic temperament, and love of learning found in Massalia City, whose Grand College outshines all but the Extriban Observatory in Gerand's Keep. To this day they are a people apart from the rest of the realm, bound to the Crown by oath and coin, but finding their culture more prominent in the republic to the south. Nonetheless, the Massalians persevere; represented by House Guefet, more and more burghers have the Gold in their veins (the most notable of which is 'House' Sauveterre, the largest banking family in the realm), as the saying goes, or at least adopt aspects of their culture.

Ividalans

The last prominent ethnic group of Saenwyn are the Ividalans, who as a rule practice the heretical faith named after their country. One of the many peoples descending from the Pavonians who claimed the largest amount of land from the Alsheraadi Revolts (and populate, to this day, the realm of the Holy Throne and the Kingdom of Segadora), the practices of the Ividalans are considered by most foreigners to be largely similar to their neighbors to the west, despite their unorthodox religion. This, of course, is a gross oversimplification of the numerous regional cultures -particularly with the dusky-skinned Jende of the southwest, the closest living descendants of the Moryn- that make up the three domains known simply as “the South”, they share many traits that make them identifiable to outsiders: a cuisine renowned for its use of spices and heat, a single language (albeit one with many dialects), and a martial tradition influenced by the Burgones.

Stereotypes have it that the Ividalans are some of the best bowmen in Tir Bhaile, and their austere religion does little to dampen the reputation as a passionate, hot-headed people with limitless ambition. In Saenwyn, they are as numerous as the Saeno-Burgones in the County Southmarch, but elsewhere they are scattered at best, occasionally persecuted by the local nobility, and generally despised by the average faithful commoner. There are no noble houses, minor or major, that claim Ividalan heritage, but with the marriage of King Corentin to an Ividalan princess, several knights and men-at-arms serve the Royal Army at Pennsbridge and the capital, with even more serving the King's Marshal in Southmarch.

Kharkhedonians

Claiming descent from the same people who birthed the various clans and pseudo-kingdoms of the Maryaenae, the Kharkhedonians -or Kharkoi, in their tongue- are the inheritors of the oldest extant human nation in Tir Bhaile. They are a fiercely proud nation, famed for their cutthroat business acumen -which has enabled them to set up enclaves in the far north, as well as conquer many of their cousins in the Maryaenae- and unique faith. Indeed, their lust for gold goes so deep that they are one of the few nations who trade with the Alsheraadi elves, a fact that rubs many other kingdoms the wrong way, even as they purchase the exotic wares crafted by skilled slaves.

There are few Kharkhedonians who claim permanent residence in Saenwyn, excepting the ambassadors in Massalia and Gerand's Keep. The reverse is not true, however, for a significant minority of Massalians yet live under Kharkoi rule, their native faith repressed at every turn.
To be continued.
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
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Re: The Royal Library

Post by Gesar » 02:50:27 Sunday, 05 March, 2017

The following is a preserved excerpt from the collected letters of Jago Halfhand, Ambassador to the Court of Massalia, to his master the Shofet of Kharkhedon, dated to have been sent just prior to the Year of Steel that suppressed a large-scale Extriban revolt across the Republic.
Your Worship, the Most Honored Shofet,

At your request, I have spoken to the strange white-robed heathens of Massalia, the Deacons and Sisters of the Pantheon. While I concur with your initial assessment that the native people of this Duchy have indeed retained some semblance of the civilization we so nobly provided them, I must first relay my most profound feeling of inconvenience that Your Worship, in your infinite wisdom, has so generously bestowed upon me. For it has been thirty turns of Soma Himself since I have been elevated to the lofty heights with which now I observe the barbarians that call themselves Saenwyne, and I am afraid that I have little tribute to pay Your Munificence but the ordered observations I have made in regards to that bizarre and pitiful faith known as the Pantheon of Extribus.

Truly, I throw myself onto Your Worship's mercy, and beg that I am punished with the swiftness of a hawk and the ferocity of a sea-wym. Perhaps, if one so lowly and pathetic as I am allowed to advise the Most Honored Shofet himself, a fitting punishment for my general and terrible uselessness would be my immediate recall. Indeed, there could be no greater dishonor for myself than to be retired to my ancestral home. There, I could recount my failures among my many vineyards, and be shamed by my beloved wife and four children, whom I have not seen in three years. For I am so wretched that I dare not show my face in any capacity of the Serene Government, such is my failure.

But I digress, lord. The information below has been organized into simple categories, as to make the task of looking upon my transgressions far easier on your Most Honored eyes.

Teachings of the Extribans

The followers of the Pantheon of Extribus -not to be confused with the Pantheon of Vidal, a simpler but no less unsophisticated offshoot of the Extriban infidels- date their religion's founding to the rebel Xander, whom you undoubtedly know as the most significant of our minor allies in the First Imperial War. It is said by their followers that Xander, who was educated in a polytheistic faith of twelve deities, received teachings from these gods, and spread them with the aid of Julian, who would later found the Holy Throne. It is also claimed -peculiarly, if I may be so bold as to offer comment- that the destruction of the Alsheraadi forces at the River Daral Harib was a matter of Xander breaking the compulsion that held the slave-armies obedient to their elven masters, an act which required his martyrdom. This is important, Your Worship, for the barbarians also believe that this is what inspired their primordial gods -the Three- to form a barrier between this world and the divine forces that inspire the Art. Magic is viewed with suspicion, accordingly, and those who make claims to it beyond academic study are often prosecuted as heretics.

In order to rationalize that magical power did not simply...disappear overnight, one might say, however, the Extribans have rationalized a system of belief that the original intention of the Three was for those most devoted to their children, the Nine, to be taught the Art, and that the heroes and magician-kings of ages past were accordingly those favored. This has led to the superstitions of the present era, that certain bloodlines retain quasi-magical traits, a belief especially common among the lower classes.

Morally, the faith is less peculiar than might be believed, particularly after having read the above drivel. The usual virtues (justice, compassion, and whatever Your Worship has the wisdom to ascribe to the heathens) are taught by the clergy, particularly as concerns those uneducated enough to explore the faith in any detail. Temperance in particular is a key teaching of the Pantheon, with stigma against drunkenness, gluttony, and lust (without preference for gender, although relations between a man and a woman are the only publicly recognized ones. Closed doors, of course, draw few moralists...) being emphasized – although few would deign to inform all but the youngest Saenwyne nobles of this. There is one exception, of course, and that is the tendency of most Extriban to choose one god (or at most a handful) from among the Nine as a sort of guiding figure, or in the case of the Deacons and Sisters of the Pantheon, a patron to which they are devoted.

This is not to say that a soldier will not offer a prayer to the Matriarch, when the time comes, nor a blacksmith to the Woods Witch. But as all of the Nine are said to embody certain virtues, and as they are said to claim in the Beyond (their afterlife, to which all but the most grievous offenders are ascribed, with those few being relegated to nothingness) their own chosen, the moralizing system of the Pantheon lends itself quite well to the feudal structure of the realms of its followers. Worshipers who prefer the Farmer, for example, are taught servitude to their lords as a matter of course, while a sculptor who follows the Laughing Widow should view politics, warfare, and matters of trade as anathema to their kind. While this might be seen as a strength to one as...efficiency-minded as Your Worship, I must then remind you that the outcasts which our society might nurture -bastards, beggars, and those who would reject the Nine entirely- are confined to the meager Beyond of the Woods Witch, should they not prove exceptional, an afterlife full of the sort of strife one would hope to escape after leaving the mortal coil.

The Gods of the Pantheon

And so I have explained the mores of the Extriban people, despite the curiously independent and rebellious streak that most Saenwyne are possessed of, perhaps the biggest hindrance to the studies of this mere groveller. No discussion worthy of Your Worship, however, would be complete without further explanation as to the peculiar gods of the Pantheon, and so I have detailed them below.

The Three: 'Extribus', in the tongue of the Western Pavonians that make up the population of the Holy Throne and Segadora, translates roughly to “From the Three”. Excusing any grammatical errors prone to these barbarians, the impersonal nature of their nomenclature describes the relationship of the faithful to the Three well. They are more embodiments of principles made divine: the Husband is viewed as the incarnation of protection and masculine energy; the Wife, of the sacred feminine and of emotional succor; and the Wild One, a hermaphrodite born of forces beyond the ken of mortals. They are the precursors, who made the world and lifted man from the level of beasts, but they have been inactive in this world since the Magician repented his ways. And so it shall be, claim the Deacons, with the World firmly in the hands of their Nine.

The Three are never worshiped on their own, but religious holidays to all the gods happen on both equinoxes, the winter solstice, and one week after Midsummer's day – the date when Xander was said to martyr himself.

The Farmer: Patron of the smallfolk, and the easiest for them to understand. He is born of the Husband and Wife, and preaches the virtue of hard work and loyalty. A simple god for a simple folk, his main celebrations come at the beginning and end of the farming season, although craftsman and fishers alike offer prayers to his beneficial ways.

The Lady of War: Depicted as a fierce woman with a spear in one hand and a shield in another, the soldiers of the Extriban realms always offer a prayer to the Farmer's sister before a battle. But as she values bravery above all else, even the most meager soul will supplicate the Lady of War before a trying time: war may simply the easiest realm for her to understand, but she favors all with a stout heart. Her festivities are never set on the calender, but tend to happen before wars or as part of a general celebration of the gods.

The Barbarian: Those unanointed in the Faith are claimed by son of the Father and Wild One, but he is much more important to the Faith than this measly theological justification. He is the reason for wrongdoing alongside his cousin the Magician, but unlike that controversial deity, his reasoning is understood. The Barbarian claims the heretics and infidels of virtue because it is believed by the faithful that any so resolutely good have overcome hardship, which is what the Third Child represents: strife and chaos exist in the world to better Man. And so the Barbarian sends plagues, war, and famine to the world, to weed out those who lack faith, and reward those weak of body but strong of mind, alleviating their suffering.

The Woods Witch: The sister of the Barbarian, the Woods Witch is the hardest deity for us of civilized lands to understand. She claims those who knew of the Extriban faith but rejected it, and yet lived decent lives; she is the sacred contradiction that tames the wilds but rejects those who would rule her. She values independence of all else, and like the Barbarian, has no true supplication, but rewards those who would pacify the wilds both physical and mental.

The Lover: Just as one's heart is warmed by following the whims of the heart, the Lover's Day is celebrated at the first melting of the winter snow (or in warmer climes, by the blossoming of the local flowers), typically with the giving of gifts to family, friends, and romantic interests, the last of which is often celebrated by momentary escapes into quiet, amorous retreat. The Lover is a popular god among the youth, claiming for his own those who have chosen their own path or protected their kin and kind above all else. He values passion and a quick wit, and the most conservative of the Pantheon have investigated this, assuming it must be madness bordering heresy to indulge oneself in the height of emotion.

The Laughing Widow: Like her brother, the Laughing Widow (or just the Widow) prefers free-spirited individuals. But where her brother exults in passion in all its forms, the Widow is precise, her holiday falling on the first day of Midsummer, wherein the faithful display whatever crafts they can manage, or in the case of the nobility, commission. The reckless few who have talent are claimed among her number, as are more cautious artists, poets, and musicians: creativity and excellence are her traits, and any who seek her support shall be rewarded.

The King: It comes as no surprise that the King is worshiped primarily by nobility, but he is also patronized by any with ambitions, for he favors men and women with a steady drive above all. Strength and honor are also his defining characteristics, and his celebrations often come in the form of demonstrations of feudal and chivalric ideals, to be found primarily in the beginning of summer.

The Matriarch: From the Wife alone comes the Matriarch, personifying her mother's ideals and honing them into a fine craft. Many Sisters of the Pantheon are consecrated unto her, primarily those taught the craft of educating the young. She is called upon at the birth-date of all, for it is she that teaches the value of knowledge and wisdom, as well as family, and it is she that claims both those who honored wisdom and those who died whilst imparting a lesson unto their loved ones.

The Magician: Lastly, there comes the Magician. It (or he, for the smallfolk of the Extribans are unfamiliar with the concept that one need not be one or the other) is the Traitor God, the one who brought the Art to all, and doom upon all the world. It is the Magician who caused the downfall of the dwarves, who introduced the ratkin to the world and gave the elves the Art, and claims responsibility for every bit of mystery that haunts the world the Extribans call Tir Bhaile. But it is also the Redeemer God: So moved was the Magician by Xander's sacrifice that it called upon the Three to empower him to act fully within the world, and when granted this power, sacrificed its domain -the Art itself- to ensure that the children of Tir Bhaile lived on without fear of magic. Whether or not it was successful is another matter entirely, but to the followers of the Pantheon, the truth is clear enough: only the mad and those beyond claim of any sane god are surrendered to its part of the Beyond, and while the Magician favors knowledge, very few can offer it any worship beyond a customary, solemn thanks for the sacrifice it wrought. It is said those faithless who die with the thoughts of the Nine on their lips are sent to the Magician, who elevates them to its own private realm, above the others it claims.

Hierarchy of the Pantheon

Finally, my benevolent master, I would bring to you to the peculiar and convoluted hierarchy with which the Pantheon restricts itself. They are headed by the First Patriarch, who is also the temporal head of the Holy Throne, and commands both the Lords Spiritual of that land and the Knights-Militant. It is from he that all doctrines on the faith come forth, and from he that all grand decisions involving the Pantheon are made. But I will expound, for the unecessary edification of your grandeur, upon the less-significant titles, so that my inevitable disgrace may at least be made with ease.

Knight-Militant: An order unto itself, the Knights-Militant no longer exist in any lands beyond the Holy Throne. Once, they were crusaders beyond compare, who executed heretics and political enemies alike, an army unto themselves. And now they are extinct in all realms that claim autonomy. I need not explain to Your Worship why.

Inquisitor: Not as officially defunct as the Knights-Militant, the Inquisitions in Saenwyn, the Marches, and Segadora now limit themselves to the prosecution of heresy within the ranks of the Pantheon. It is a far cry from the recent memory where the Inquisition might have dragged a man off the street on the basis that he held suspicious knowledge of the Elvhen, but as the nations of man have brought them to heel, they have claimed power over them. The fear that the Inquisitors might rise again is a very real one, in the realms of the Extribans.

Brother: The scholars of the Pantheon's realms, technically divided into two categories. The lay brothers of the Pantheon are the scholars and administrators, the former of which do much of the research into realms forbidden to the Deacons themselves for fear of heresy, but nonetheless possess an interest that the Pantheon has taken unto itself. They take vows of chastity, but not asceticism, and have a general freedom of movement outside the Abbeys and the charges of their superiors – those claimed by an ordained Brother or an Abbot must remain at the oratory or abbey to which they are pledged.

Those ordained within the Pantheon are more restricted, but given the freedom of movement within the realm and Deaconage they are loyal to. Their vows go farther, pledging general asceticism and an abstinence from heretical knowledge, but the young among them are the first considered for Deaconage, whilst the old are often assigned to comfortable courtly positions or renowned abbeys and observatories, for from their number come the Abbots.

The Abbots are also known among the commons for their ownership of land, typically vineyards in the south, breweries or vegetable farms in the north, and in Saenwyne and the Southern Marches, cideries or workshops of ornate crafts.

Sisters: Much the same as their Brothers, the Women of the Faith are technically relegated to the lowest ranks of the Pantheon, laywomen or ordained. This is undone in an instant, however, when one understands how much power the Sisters hold: the Abbesses are held to looser strictures than the Abbots, and the grandest libraries are often maintained by ordained Sisters. As they do not hold, as a rule, spiritual or temporal power, Sisters are given the job of education: few lords or burghers cannot recall the Sister who taught them their letters. In this way, the faithful claim, young men are taught respect to women, or at least fear, as more than a few can remember the rapping on their knuckles of an elderly sister's cane.

Like their masculine counterparts, the Sisters are known for their professions as well as faith. Those who are not educators are often found tending their own fields, or in those who are more public (or at least have not taken a vow of silence), possessing knowledge of the arts, illumination, or gardening.

Deacons and Archdeacons: The ordained priests of the religion. Deacons attend the oratories, and although they retain ranks among themselves, are virtually indistinguishable apart from the highest level. A man who obtains the rank of Deacon eschews all family ties, formally, although in practice this is a very subjective principle. Typically the advancement of a Deacon, in the most ideal form, involves first the maintenance of the nearest library outside of the control of the local lords or Abbess, and then as a sort of second-in-command to the ranking Deacon, who officiates the weekly prayers to the Nine and the administrative functions of the oratory. If he is fortunate, he will then succeed the nearest Archdeacon, of which there are five in Saenwyn (the Archdeacon of Saene, of Massalia, of the Eastern Marches, of Cambaern, and of Nolvagne), and thus be responsible for the administration of the Pantheon's dictates from on high.

Patriarchs onwards: As the Deacons choose the Patriarchs, the Archdeacons choose the First Patriarch. There are six Patriarchs on the continent, and each of them chooses the dogma of their respective realms, so long as it doesn't contradict the dictates of the First Patriarch -who, being subject to the approval of the Archdeacons in theory and the Pavonian knights-seculiar in practice, tends to be either uncontroversial or very politically astute- or their congregations. Truthfully, most of the commons couldn't give a whit for how the Pantheon feels about the extinct dwarves or those claimed by the Magician, and so life goes on...unless you are a local ruler, in which case a Patriarch's ruling could turn the entire local priesthood against you. For indeed, a minor lord's dictates may be ignored, and his superior's as well, but when the voice of the Gods -and those descended from Julian are assumed to be nothing but- speak against you, well...Your Worship can assume the rest.

Or so is my hope. As before, I grovel at your feet, and pray this primer proves informative. Do consider what I said, Your Worship, before the inestimably-dull bits of information monopolized mine own pleas. I am, as always,

Your most humble servant,

Jago, called Halfhand,
House Qhora,
Ambassador to the Court of Massalia
Editor's note: Jago Halfhand was not, in fact, forcibly retired, but made to suffer nine long years as ambassador to Cyril-Prospere, a particularly insufferable Duke of Massalia known for his fondness for brass instruments.
Saenwyn: A Song of Ashes: Storyteller

Louisiana 1792: Fils de la Révolution: Monsieur le Commissaire de l'Intérieur Thomas Francois Jérôme Cossard, Mayor of Saint-Louis and editor of L'Ami de la République
Liberty in Dark Waters: Leopold Karl von Stenhielm, Baron af Rödesund, Knight and Commander of the Orders of His Majesty the King, convicted traitor
Balance of Power 1968: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, President and Baba wa Taifa of the United Republic of Tanzania
Smyg wrote:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of Gesar coping with being a total fucking a-grade revolutionary thinker
SpoilerShow
#DraftGesar

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