Zantium was a kingdom located south of Eltenia, separated by the Luzhin mountains, and east of Iskirra, across the Garhoon strait. It was a constitutional theocracy run by members of its clergy, who chose a "king" or central leader from among their ranks. It's capital was Kynaston.
Originally an Exekian mining colony, the Zantines followed the example of the Apicartans and rose up against their slave masters. Under the leadership of their first mystic king, Peredur, the nation of Zantium was founded. In 149, Zantium was invaded, overrun and conquered by the Iskirrans, who purged their leaders and clergy, displaced much of the population, and forcibly assimilated the rest. The region, while still colloquially referred to as Zantium, is now considered part of Iskirra.
- Government Type: Constitutional Theocracy
- Nobility and Privilege:
- Capitol City: Kynaston
- Crime and Punishment:
- Allies and Adversaries: Traditional enemies of Iskirra; allied with Apicarta. Maintained peaceful relations with Eltenia; relations with Nykara often strained, but never to the same degree as with Iskirra. Exekians disliked but viewed as cattle rather than a pestilence.
- Taxation: Medium
- Natural Resources: Lumber (particularly cedar), iron, red marble, precious gemstones and prized resins.
- Trade, Guilds and Market
- Technology and Medicine
- Transportation and Communication: Infrastructure was outdated and underdeveloped; few railways, mostly dirt roads and a few major highways paved with stone. Most travel on horseback or in carriages.
- Farming: Large areas of the country dedicated to agriculture, shepherding, fishing, etc. Bulk of the peasant class are farmers or animal tenders.
- Export/Import: Primary exports include lumber, Zantine steel, Zantine amber, and red marble from the Luzhin Mountains. Zantine-made wooden furniture was also highly prized.
Other Significant events
The Zantine government was a constitutional theocracy based on worship of the creator deity Akhen. Zantine Akhenism, the national religion, was unique from other forms of Akhenism in its region-specific history and traditions, but its clergy still considered themselves to be members of the Temple, a religious organization centered in the kingdom of Apicarta. The history of alliance between the two nations is a rich one: because they were both liberated from slavery under the Exekians, Zantium and Apicarta were collectively known as the "Freedom Kingdoms". Both were united under the Temple, which provided social stability and protection in the wake of the fall of the Exekian Empire.
However, as Apicarta focused on expanding its borders and repelling the Exekians, they were forced to instate a monarch who would serve as a military leader. Their culture became more warlike as a result, with knighthood becoming a secular pursuit outside the Temple. Meanwhile Zantium, which was able to expel the Exekians much faster, turned their focus to the western sorcerers of Iskirra. The practice of knighthood differed in terms of purpose in either country; Zantine knights were known as "paladins" and were expected to be holy warriors. Their weapons were made with Exekian blood, which possesses anti-magic properties, and they never adopted the genocidal rhetoric of the Apicartans, seeing the Exekians not as a scourge that needed to be wiped out but as a necessary resource similar to cattle.
Zantium's theocratic government consisted of Temple clergy. Issues of sectarianism gradually faded as the Temple splintered off into an organization for Zantine Akhenism, which concentrated its power exclusively in Zantium. This government legally reinforced anti-magic legislation, expelling magic users from within the populace, incorporating religion into education, etc. The noble class consisted primarily of paladins; the training of a knight was passed down from parent to child, generation to generation.
According to Iskirra, Zantium's fatal flaw lay in its dogmatic rigidity and religious intolerance. The punishment for apostasy and heresy was banishment, and for witchcraft it was death. The definition of "witchcraft" became unclear, however, resulting in the death of innocents and the escape of genuine witches, who were able to manipulate the system and either hide their practices or escape via exile. Those who were exiled tended to flee to Iskirra and Nykara; in the case of the former, they became the driving force behind the Iskirran war machine, infusing magic with weaponry and new technology. Decades of hostility and conflict between Iskirra and Zantium were primarily driven by the problem of magic.
During Zantium's darkest hour, they called upon Apicarta for aid. Apicarta sent out a small force which became lost at sea, failing to arrive in time. (Supposedly, the storm at sea was caused by Iskirran sorcery.) As a result, the Zantine capital of Kynaston was destroyed and its surviving population displaced.
- Foreign Relations
- Internal Relations
Geography and Ecology
Zantium was part of an island, sharing the space with Eltenia to the north. The Luzhin mountains provided a natural border between their two nations. Across the Garhoon strait to the west was Iskirra, Zantium's long-standing enemy, across the southern sea were the more distant nations of Dardanos, a small island, and Nykara, a desert at the north of a potentially vast but largely unexplored continent. Across the eastern sea was Apicarta.
The terrain of Zantium was heavily forested, with rugged mountains, lakes, and beautiful coasts. Infrastructure was largely underdeveloped, with few railways, which may have contributed to its failure to defend itself.
Notable Natural Landmarks
Native Zantines are known for being of average height, leaning tall. Many are pale or fair-skinned, but the majority of them have a "dun-colored" (ranging from light brown to gray-gold or tan) complexion, which is considered one of their defining traits. Most have dark and wavy or curly hair; though blonde is not unheard of, it is typically attributed to Eltenian ancestry. Blue or green eyes are more common among them than among the Iskirrans.
Eltenians were the nation's largest minority group, with Apicartans a close second.
Much of Zantine culture revolved around differences. The division between the sacred and the profane, male and female, childhood and adulthood were all observed with ritual significance. Men and women were separated at many functions, including church services. For example, in churches and chapels the all-female choir would sing in the mornings while an all-male choir would sing in the evenings.
Tutors wore a maroon sash tied around their waist to signify they were educated men and women.
People and Society
- Races (Numbers): 92% Zantine, 5% Eltenian, 3% Apicartan
- Languages Spoken: Zantine; educated upper class were taught a variety of languages, but the general populace was monolingual.
- Autonomy: Citizens are expected to be followers of Zantine Akhenism, or at least to respect the authority of the theocrats. "Witchcraft" or the use of any school of magic, is punishable by death; heresy and apostasy will result in banishment.
Zantine Akhenism is the official state religion.
Magic is illegal, with execution being the punishment for those caught practicing it.
- Gender Equality/Roles: Women and men are seen as equal but separate. Women are not looked down upon; many have served as paladins, and they are educated as well as men. But there is a mentality that the sexes each have a natural place, and to deviate from it would be to deny human nature, leading to problems. Most women are domesticized wives and mothers, staying home to look after the children.
- Familial Units: Divorce is considered tentatively acceptable; one must be able to prove wrongdoing in a divorce court. The divorce rate is quite low, accounting for less than half of all union dissolvements. Neither parent is favored over the other on the basis of sex when it comes to child custody. From a social standpoint, children born out of wedlock bring shame upon both parents. Child-rearing is left up to the parents; the state does not involve themselves in the educating of children. As a result, if a family cannot afford a tutor, their child may be illiterate. Adoption and foster parenting is fairly common, especially among the upper classes. A typical child's education is incorporated with religious propaganda.
- Social Rituals:
- Fashion and Dress: Depending on social status, clothing is usually more elaborate and of better quality the higher up one is. Gender roles are strictly enforced when it comes to clothing; cross-dressing is considered obscene.
- Art and Other Great Works: Most noteworthy art and architecture is of a religious nature.
- Notable Subcultures:
- Greeting and Meeting: