This is a very casual index of worldbuilding information I’ve been amusing myself coming up with ever since I started conceptualizing Heretic’s Reward. Many of the entries are incomplete, because I add onto them when I feel like it, but I’ve only included entries that have enough information to be of some possible interest. As I put this together to post, I noticed I have far fewer notes on people and places than I thought I did, so those categories have been omitted for now. If by some chance you’re curious about something, let me know in the comments!
The “setting” of this index is just before Heretic’s Reward, but there are some spoilers (especially of events that are treated in flashback or in interludes set before the rest of the story). Conversely, the account of the Age of Feuds is particularly useful to read before reading Façade of Perfection. Enjoy!
The current language of Akomera, generally still referred to as “Oru” but sometimes bearing the more controversial title of “Akomeru,” is a new form of Oru with influences of Schoukaff.
Oru, the language of Akomera during its formative years, is a blend of two older languages: Uoru and Dyoru. Uoru was spoken primarily in the regions west of the Akomer’sa, while Dyoru came south from Dyongun and did not in its pure form leave the eastern side of the mountains. As the nation of Akomera began to emerge from the various lands surrounding the Akomer’sa, increased travel and awareness blended the two languages. They came from a common root and were already rather similar, and eventually the distinguishing first syllable was dropped and the language simply referred to as Oru. (Incidentally, Dyongun still speaks Dyoru, or what that language has since evolved into, with little to no corruption from Uoru, due to the early estrangement of Dyongun and what would eventually become Akomera)
Schoukaff is an entirely alien language brought to Akomera (as to most other nations in the Roulitsu area) by the ambitious traders of Gönst. A well-ordered but simple language, it became a sort of trade standard around Roulitsuni, and Akomera was not the only nation that found its own language blending slowly but surely with Schoukaff.
There are varying attitudes toward this throughout Akomera. The old-fashioned tend to disapprove of what they view as the corruption of their language, and there are still places in Akomera where “pure” Oru is spoken exclusively and dogmatically. The purity of this custom is somewhat doubtful, however, or at least ironic, as these pockets of linguistic rebellion tend to have a rather Uoru cast in the west, Dyoru in the east. The obvious backlash to this is the idea that Schoukaff is chic and modern, and that to appear thus one must use as much of it as possible in one’s speech; this attitude, predictably, is generally found among the young. The happy medium tends to lie with Akomerai traders, those who have the most actual communication with the Gönsting and are therefore best qualified to discriminate between the languages.
In the old, traditional calendar that is used throughout the Roulitsu area, each season is three cycles of the moon; their names, fairly consistent throughout the area, are derivatives of the Dyoru names for the four seasons: Heiiryu (Spring), Naito (Summer), Asuki (Autumn), and Fuiyou (Winter). Each week is ten days long; in Akomera the days are named Aik’hyou, Nim’hyou, Senhyou, Chihyou, Gonhyou, Okuhyou, Shiyohyou, Hayohyou, Kyuhou, Juhyou; elsewhere in the area the days have different names.
Rionura the Pious, as was his habit, reworked this system to conform with church symbolism. The four seasons, as well as the transition from each to the next, were already associated with the divine ladies in Akomera, so Rionura created a new calendar based on this association, naming his new five seasons of the year and five days of the week after the divine ladies.
In the new calendar, each season has 73 days. They are called Megufyo (Spring), Kaofyo (Summer), Yumifyo (Autumn), Tomofyo (Winter), and Misafyo (Transition). Misafyou is divided up into four sections that separate the others seasons; these sections are simply called Misafyo-aiki and so on, sometimes shortened to Misaiki, Mis’nimu, Missen, Misachi. Each has 18 days except for the fourth, which has 19. Each week has 5 days: Meg’hyou, Kahyou, Yum’hyou, Tom’hyou, and Mis’hyou.
Each new year begins with spring, or Megufyo, which for purposes of simplification can be considered as beginning on March 20th. Misaiki therefore begins on June 1st, Kaofyo on June 19th, Mis’nimu on September 1st, Yumifyo on September 19th, Missen on November 30th, Tomofyo on December 18th, and Misachi on March 1st.
The old calendar is typically referred to as “the Roulitsui calendar,” “the Dyorui calendar,” or simply “the old calendar.” Similarly, the new calendar is typically referred to simply as “the new calendar,” though some call it “the Rionurai calendar.”
Though both systems are widely used throughout Akomera, a certain stigma has come to be attached to each: the old calendar is more popular in rural areas, especially in agricultural communities where a clearer delineation between seasons is appreciated, and has therefore come to be referred to by some as the “country calendar,” and considered a sign of lack of refinement and/or education; whereas the new calendar tends to dominate larger towns and cities, as well as the entire church, and is therefore typically considered a sign either of snobbery or of religious fervor. These stigmas are not universally recognized, but are not uncommon.
The twelve-month, seven-day-week calendar of the Gönsting is occasionally used by traders, and sees fairly widespread use in Etoronai.
An arbiter makes the eventual verdict and sentence at any criminal trial. Arbiters are city guards that have demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of Akomerai law and (theoretically) a strong sense of disinterested justice. During the reign of Rionura the Pious, arbiters were appointed from among the devoted. Though these arbiters generally had the sense of justice that subsequent generations often lacked, they were less well-versed in the minutiae of the law than actual law enforcement officials could desire. The practice was not highly-favored either by the church — which felt it should distance itself from political and legal affairs as much as possible — or the guards — who resented having seemingly ignorant outsiders placed in such high office — and was abandoned not long after Rionura’s death.
A minor criminal trial lasts only as long as it takes the arbiter to reach a verdict. All evidence is supposed to be heard before he or she may do this, but this, though traditional, is not mandated by law and therefore can be dispensed with at the whim of the arbiter. In addition to the usual circumstantial evidence surrounding a case, a minor trial also often includes testimonials to the defendant’s character.
A major crime is rape or attempted rape (though the Akomerai definition of rape has historically been limited to violent rape); murder or attempted murder; assault resulting in any broken bone, significant blood loss, or concussion; theft or property damage valued at 15 azu or more; treason; or significant contribution to any of the above.
At a criminal trial, the defendant typically represents themselves. Although a separate representative may be chosen, this is usually viewed in a negative light, being seen as irresponsible and cowardly. The defendant is typically prosecuted by the guard that made the arrest, though when necessary (usually only for major trials) an arbiter’s aide may be called upon for the task.
A major criminal trial lasts, by law, a minimum of three days, during which time the defendant is entirely secluded either in jail or under house arrest. After this mandatory period, however, the arbiter may, again, declare their verdict at any time regardless of how much evidence remains to be presented. Character testimonials are not admitted in major trials.
A devoted accused of a crime may undergo a church trial prior to the legal trial. In such a case, the verdict reached by the church is the only evidence that may be presented on the corresponding side of the legal trial.
The Church of the Divine Ladies
This was not officialized as the national religion of Akomera, or largely organized into a widespread system, until the time of Rionura the Pious, but it has existed in some form as far back as Akomerai history extends. In olden times, there was a great deal of conflict between the followers of the various ladies, before it became evident that the ladies were allies in the guidance of mankind. Those that admitted to having received inspiration from more than one of the ladies tended to be disbelieved and even distrusted.
Many church policies and traditions originated in the shrine of Misao in Enca, where the mother of Rionura presided and where Rionura spent much of his youth. By copying the most practical of this establishment’s procedures on a larger scale, Rionura was able to unite the scattered shrines and various religious organizations across the kingdom into a smoothly-functioning nationwide church.
Religious officials in the Church of the Divine Ladies. Due to the formalization of this term, the word and others related (“devote,” “devotion,” etc.) will always have a religious undertone with Akomerashou.
The lowest rank in the church is referred to simply as “red” because of the color of the shiiyao worn by this level of devoted. Reds, being the most common, are also the closest to secular in the level of devotion and the tasks expected of them. In the church, red devoted are the laborers and servants, performing work very similar to what they might have been doing in the outside world, as well as anything else assigned them by their superiors. The religious oaths required of red devoted are relatively simple, so many red devoted are craftsmen that were unable otherwise to find work and therefore joined the church to take advantage of its system of transfers and distribution of labor where needed.
Among the populace, red devoted function as a general assistance service, doing odd jobs as required when not otherwise engaged. Although this latter was always the case (more prevalent, naturally, in more charitable religious communities), it was formalized along with the rest of the church by Rionura, who believed that not only was continual assistance of others an excellent way for entry-level devoted to hone their dedication and rid themselves of selfishness, it also strengthened the bond between the church and the rest of the kingdom, as well as providing a useful service to those in need.
First- and Second-Wash/Orange Devoted
Devoted shiiyao are colored with a dark red-orange dye called kereme, and for each subsequent level of devoted the shiiya is washed in a bleaching solution that lightens the color. Thus the second church rank is referred to as “first-wash,” and the third as “second-wash.” Either of these can be referred to as “oranges,” though the term is unspecific.
First-wash tend to function primarily as administrators of the activities carried out by reds. Second-wash devoted tend to hold higher, more-encompassing managerial positions and have authority over larger numbers of people and geographic areas. Second-wash devoted swear an oath of lifelong service to the church, and are not allowed to marry, nor to engage in sexual activity with anyone outside the church.
The gold devoted, so called because of the yellow color their shiiyao attain after the third bleaching, are hand-picked by the white devoted, and may be very few in number. They are the personal assistants and messengers of the white devoted, moving through the country and acting in their place.
The highest rank in the church is the white devoted, also called the “fourth-wash.” There is one white devoted in each of the five branches, and he or she has the highest religious and administrative authority in the church. White devoted typically reside in the capital, sending their golds in their place if they believe something requires their personal attention elsewhere. Each usually carries a staff symbolic of their office, though this item has no standard design.
This position was created by King Kenshin II in response to reports of widespread corruption among church officials. The Visitant’s task is to travel the kingdom inspecting the church and weeding out corruption. They hold administrative authority equal to the white devoted, and therefore can convene trials, decree organizational changes, dismiss devoted from their positions, and so on. They also have a certain amount of religious authority, and may read death rites, perform marriage ceremonies, consecrate materials, and so on. This religious authority was not officially granted to the position, but the early celebrity of the first holder of the title made it inevitable.
Any record of revelation made in words by one of the divine ladies or by proxy to a human is considered divine writ. The problem lies, therefore, in distinguishing the true from the fake or deluded, and this has proven such a difficult task that as yet there is no officially-recognized collection of divine writ. Every shrine tends to have its own collection, though many pieces of writ that were received particularly well or considered particularly important at the time of their introduction have become widespread throughout the church.
The Church of the Divine Ladies teaches that all souls must in the hereafter pass through the blue flames; so it is only fit that the body, once it no longer houses the spirit, should do the same, lest mortals lose sight of and forget their eventual fate. Interment is considered sacrilegious and barbaric.
A body is prepared for cremation with consecrated oils, dressed in a long blue or purple shiiya made of thin material, and placed in a box of light wood that is also often stained blue or purple. A pyre is set up on a funeral hill, in which a declivity has been dug at the summit, and the death rites are spoken, almost always by a devoted.
Though these customs are adhered to fairly universally, funerals vary vastly in their details, usually based on the wealth of the family or funeral director. A poor family, for example, may dress the dead in whatever garment is available, with only a dot of blue or purple paint at the chest to recall the divine lady of death or the fires of eternity; whereas a rich family may pay for the death rites to be spoken by a higher-wash devoted or one that’s particularly celebrated for their excellent delivery.
Megumi Seihyou – Celebration/Festival of Megumi; sometimes the name is shortened to “Messeihyou.” The basic tradition in the old system was to hold this holiday the day after the first full moon of Heiiryu, but many communities developed their own traditions: the second warm day of Heiiryu, the day after the first flower bloomed or first rain fell, etc.. In the new calendar, this holiday is held on the first Meg’hyou of Megufyo.
Messeihyou is primarily a festival of spring and of new life, but typically also celebrates Megumi’s other domains such as learning and charity. As such, Messeihyou customs usually include donating to or assisting the poor, and most charity pilgrimages are made to coincide with this holiday. It is traditional to exchange books or scrolls on this day, and to include a book or scroll in any set of gifts given to those less well off.
This metallic mineral, discovered within the last century (c. Torimei I) in the Akomer’sa, seems to be exclusive to that mountain range — or else, at least, no other part of the world seems yet to have learned or embraced its useful properties. In Akomera the latter could said to have been found by accident. A weaponsmith, looking for ways to strengthen iron, was experimenting with a number of alloys with various materials at hand; only once did he combine iron with the slightly stronger but significantly less manageable keon, since the process was difficult and the resulting alloy, though easier to temper, was not noticeably stronger than the original iron. This alloy has also come to be called simply “keon,” given that the mineral is almost never used in its pure form.
The weapon created by the smith out of this material was, along with the smith’s other possessions, donated at the time of his death to the Epauica shrine. This shrine being one of Tomoe, few of the devoted there were trained in the use of weapons; therefore, it was several years before the astonishing discovery was made that the seemingly unremarkable keon sword was capable of translating the spiritual energy of its wielder into a physical form.
This is the name given to any weapon that relies on its user’s channeled spiritual energy to create a functional blade. Such weapons have been in common use in Akomera by those that can master them since they were popularized by the royal knights of Torimei II. The use of keonblades is referred to as “keonmastery,” though there has been dispute about the term among keonmasters since nearly the beginning of the weapon’s history, given that “master” implies greater proficiency in the field than many users of keonblades ever attain.
The blade created by a warrior’s spiritual energy via keon is unbreakable as long as they are able to maintain control over that energy. The greater the warrior’s control, the more control they have over the shape and size of the blade, not to mention the duration of its presence. Technically only a small amount of keon is needed to channel enough energy to create a blade, but only an extremely skilled keonmaster would be capable of creating and maintaining a blade using less than what has become the standard amount.
The typical shape of a keon weapon is that of a short sword with a heavy, club-like pommel, which not only contains the aforementioned standard minimum of the mineral but also helps the warrior to focus on the blade-like shape they are creating. Keonmastery requires steady concentration during distracting circumstances, so any assistance to staying in control of spiritual energy during battle is a useful feature.
Additionally, the object itself has a certain level of functionality as a weapon thus shaped, though the edges tend not to be very sharp, and is easier to practice with than other shapes that have been suggested. The dull edges make the forging and upkeep of the weapon easier than that of a regular sword.
This design is also space-efficient. Since it is shorter than a standard sword, it’s easier to draw from most positions, and can therefore be placed closer to the dominant hand of the user. In terms of how it’s worn, stored, and accessed, the typical keonblade shape is more comparable to a long dagger than a sword.
However, despite its roots in tradition and convenience, keonblades are by no means forged exclusively in this shape.
An age-old tradition among Akomerai devoted; it has been practiced for nearly as long as shrines to the divine ladies have existed, and was probably inspired by similar customs in neighboring countries. Typically the courtyard statue of a shrine’s lady is built on a base that contains alcoves facing in various directions; at select hours of the day, a devoted will stand in whichever alcove is most completely shadowed by the statue and recite a specified prayer, to which anyone listening will respond with a specified reply.
For centuries, these memorized prayers were spoken twelve times a day, every two hours. It was not a universally embraced custom, since some shrines did not have sufficient staff (or inclination) to maintain it, but in many locations where it was practiced, the punctuality and consistence with which the prayers were spoken became a matter of pride, and the accuracy and style of the devoted speaking the prayers would add to each shrine’s individual character.
The prayers themselves are variations on simple formulas. They typically mention the time of day (if it is of note); an attribute of the lady; a blessing that has been bestowed, either to mankind as a whole or the area or shrine in specific; and a blessing desired. An example, from the shrine of Misao at Enca: “At divine Misao’s orange dawn, with joy in our hearts, we thank our lady that we live to see this day, and ask that we may be worthy to see the dusk as well.” This example is typical of the average length of these prayers; however, given the custom to add thanks for any perceived local disaster that has been averted or overcome, and supplication for any specific local need, it is not unusual for the cants to become quite long. In fact, some devoted become so accustomed to lengthier prayers at kuumaruaya that they will repeat the shorter ones two or three times, or sing the words to a slow melody rather than speaking them, in order to reach the length they’re used to.
In generic response to any prayer, any listener may speak the divine lady’s name with “honored” or “beloved.” Various shrines also tend to develop their own specific responses to specific prayers, and these responses may be as diversified as the prayers themselves. For example, “Praise and joy to Misao” is the traditional response to the above-cited dawn prayer of Enca’s shrine of Misao.
During the rule of Rionura the Pious, the number of prayers was reduced to five: at sunrise, midday, sunset, before midnight, and after midnight. Rionura left it up to the shrines to decide which of the already-existing prayers should be preserved, though he did suggest that important supplication and thanks from extraneous cants be merged into those that were specific to the times of day at which the prayers were now to be spoken. What he did mandate was that the kuumaruaya be performed at all shrines throughout the kingdom regardless of whether they had previously practiced the custom.
These changes displeased many devoted. Those that had taken pride and pleasure in correctly performing the twelve prayers throughout the day did not appreciate the simplification; those that had developed elaborate and poetic versions of the prescribed prayers disliked having to choose from among what they considered works of art; and any smaller staff, especially village shrines that were often manned by a single devoted, certainly did not enjoy having to take up a practice that was time-consuming and disruptive of sleep. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the mandate was revoked not long after Rionura’s death, and many shrines returned to their old custom. Many others, however, retained Rionura’s version of kuumaruaya, so that even to this day it is not unusual to find devoted praying aloud twelve times a day, five times a day, or not at all, in the shadow of the divine lady.
The Oru word for husband or wife, “aoji,” has its roots in “aonani,” the word for companionship; it is a gender-neutral term largely equivalent to “spouse.” Schoukaff terms for marriage and associated concepts have taken far less hold than many other Schoukaff words because their linguistic roots (and, more importantly, the Gönsting that bring them) imply a strangely exclusive combination of male and female.
A typical Akomerai marriage ceremony will include an exchange of vows of fidelity as well as gifts symbolic of love. These are traditionally (though not necessarily) items reminiscent of the couple’s courtship, meaningful to them as more than mere objects, and can be simple or elaborate, inexpensive or valuable.
Beyond these staples, marriage ceremonies vary widely depending on the divine house and the preferences of the couple. During what is considered the most famous wedding ever held in Elotica’s temple of Kaoru, the two warriors being married fought each other to a standstill — a process taking nearly two hours while their guests watched in silence — as indication that their love could endure any disagreement, pain, or trial.
As suggested by this example, the Akomerai concept of marriage is based on fidelity and commitment.
When a same-sex married couple wishes to have children, they decide on a surrogate parent, a “bainagoi aoji” or simply “bainagoi,” to help initiate pregnancy. It is considered most appropriate to find a same-sex couple of the opposite sex that is also in need of a bainagoi, but this is not always possible. This custom is sometimes also used by different-sex couples that are unable to have children; however, this is traditionally not considered appropriate.
The younger member of a couple joins the older’s family when they marry, except in the case of the heir to the throne, who always brings their spouse into the royal family.
Evidence suggests that incest has always been quietly common throughout at least eastern Akomera; however, it has never been well accepted publicly. One reason for this is that incest is a pervasive tradition in Dyongun — where people prepare themselves for marriage by coupling with an older relative throughout their teenage years — and Akomerashou distrust and disapprove of any custom they associate with that nation. Another reason is that a notable writ declaring “the fruit of sister and brother shall be cursed” has long been interpreted to mean that the union of male and female relations is a sin. In fact, it led to the early outlawing of “brother-sister incest” throughout Akomera, the term encompassing any combination of male and female relatives even as far as distant cousins.
The stigma extends further than that; the general prejudice against incest often causes in-laws, or unrelated males and females who happen to have been raised in the same home, to be treated very badly if they form a romantic attachment. Those who practice same-sex incest, which is technically legal (although marriage between such is not), usually receive similar treatment: harassment and often ostracization. Though the work of activists has bought a certain amount of acceptance, any form of incest or perceived incest is still controversial and often offensive to the general populace of Akomera.
Romantic/Sexual Relationships Within the Church and the Celibacy Controversy
Ironically, the faithful monogamy that is so prevalent, as a matter of religious principle, among Akomera’s secular populace is practically nonexistent within the church itself.
As the son of a high-ranked church official, Rionura had good cause to know what a distraction spouse and offspring can be to someone in such a position. Until that time, marriage and childbearing had occurred among devoted as it had elsewhere; but Rionura believed that a greater level of spirituality and a greater ability to serve and direct the people could be attained through a more streamlined dedication and freedom from extraneous responsibilities.
Therefore, as part of his reform, he declared that celibacy should be mandatory from the second wash upward. He did not intend this to destroy existing marriages — those of higher rank that were already married were allowed to remain so, with the new policy only enforced from that time on — but rather discourage those who looked forward to promotion within the church from forming romantic attachments in the first place, ensuring that only those who were seriously willing to make the divine ladies their first priority would aspire to these ranks.
This policy lasted less than fifty years, however, before church leaders realized that the enforced abstinence was creating more problems than it solved — causing, among other things, a marked division between the higher and lower ranks; a stigma of sexual repression and ignorance beginning to be attached to church officials; and many worthy devoted to be disciplined or even expelled for something that was not technically a sin but that had been arbitrarily banned.
The eventual reaction was something of a backlash: instead of merely declaring Rionura’s experiment a failure and restoring the state of things prior to his reform, the church decreed that any (consensual, non-incestuous) physical relationship between devoted was now appropriate. Romantic attachment was still discouraged as an unnecessary division of loyalty; relationships with non-devoted were not allowed from the second-wash level up; children born of devoted unions were either adopted out or raised communally without a specific set of parents identified; but when it came to sex, the entire church was an open field.
This change was introduced relatively quietly, but it wasn’t long before it led to uproar among the populace. So accustomed to regarding multiple sexual partners as a sin, many found it impossible to believe that the very church they looked to for guidance away from sin was embracing such a practice. The controversy escalated to the point of physical retaliation against the church all over the country: church dormitories or shrines with living quarters were vandalized; higher church officials were antagonized in public settings; devoted sometimes found themselves abducted, often without prior knowledge or consent, by their own families or friends that believed they were saving their relative or friend from certain damnation.
Eventually the king, Kenshin I, was forced to step in. In his famous Address to the Followers of the Church, he reminded the people of their relationship with the church, what the church provided the people and vice versa, what was and wasn’t an obligation of either party; he admonished them to let their monetary support of the church speak their opinions rather than the destructive and otherwise criminal displays of displeasure in which many were engaging. On the specific policy in question he made no comment, but his words were potent enough. The demonstrations stopped, and a much more peaceful general boycott went into effect.
Church leadership stood firm, however, believing they’d made the right decision and also that the populace didn’t have the stamina to starve them out of existence. This belief was confirmed when, after a few years of low revenue, the lack of support from the people gradually ended. Akomera had become too accustomed to the many services the church provided; this, combined with the almost instinctive trust of the church that had built up over generations even before Rionura’s formalization, brought about the eventual general acceptance of the new policy, and a quiet, still somewhat uneasy balance between clerical and secular sexuality developed.
This did not guarantee an easy transition for any new devoted from an outside world (which stressed cautious, monogamous, generally asexual relationships leading up to life-long marriage) to a church world (which stressed devotion to the chosen lady at the expense of romantic attachment but did not forbid the casual fulfillment of physical needs). Many devoted imposed upon themselves the celibacy Rionura envisioned rather than depart so drastically from the morals with which they’d grown up. The somewhat derogatory slang term “childhood block” is often applied to this way of thinking by devoted that have embraced the concept of open sexuality.
Additionally, as the continuance of the practice was never universally accepted, protests and boycotts were not uncommon ever afterward, though the issue never again escalated to the type of criminal reaction with which it was originally greeted. Many circles have come to stigmatize devoted — specifically those of higher ranks — as more lustful than the average person, though church leaders work tirelessly to combat this attitude. Since no writ has appeared on the topic to date, the policy has never been changed.
By tradition, the knights of Akomera’s current ruler are the same sex as that ruler, and are typically referred to as “dantaajin chenshou” — “king’s/queen’s knights.” “Danta chenshou” — “royal knights” — is also employed, particularly when discussing it in more general terms (the establishment or tradition rather than the specific group). The distinction is somewhat superfluous in any case, as no one else has received the title of “knight” for over twenty years. Though the name is sometimes shortened to “danchen” and this is fairly commonly used, it is still considered slang.
When the rulership of the kingdom passes on, the previous ruler’s royal knights are disbanded, and referred to as “ob’dant’chenshou,” or “former royal knights.” This title is held until the death of the knight, and is considered an honorable one.
The royal knights were originally almost inadvertently established by Gontarun the Great as his small personal army in his efforts toward unification. As such, they were little more than hired muscle, and, though most of Gontarun’s knights developed a strong loyalty to him and stayed with him of their own volition throughout his reign, still the tradition continued for several generations only in the form of the ruler having at their disposal a hand-picked set of mercenaries with no official title.
As the kingdom began to settle in to actually being a kingdom, however, such a position high in the ruler’s service and favor became more and more desirable, until the royal knights came to represent the best combat talent the kingdom had to offer. And it was during the reign of Queen Jiomosu that the group was first referred to as “queen’s knights.”
The tradition continued unchanged for several generations until the Jo’onhkun war killed Queen Bienura and nearly all of her knights, and her successor Ero chose not to retain an extensive personal guard in favor of strengthening a standing army. Though the army was disbanded after only a few years, Ero never kept more than about ten knights at any time. His son, Rionura the Pious, lowered the number even further (as was his custom) to the sacred five. This has been the traditional number of royal knights ever since, though not every ruler has adhered to it as strictly as Rionura might have wished.
In Elotica, the knights’ function expanded even as their numbers decreased: in addition to being the ruler’s bodyguards, they became courtiers and overseers, involved most particularly with the guards of both palace and city. Therefore the qualifications of a royal knight were even greater than they had been in previous generations, and consequently the position became even more respected and sought after.
Royal knights tend to be a tight-knit and highly cooperative group, and, as such, every set of knights has a unique team dynamic. This adds a certain historic “flavor” to the associated rule, and some less distinctive rulers are to this day identified rather by the knights who served them than by any accomplishments of their own.
There are two houses of the Akomerai royal family, Gontamei and Barenor’mei, from the first king, Gontarun the Unifier, and his brother Barenora. Rule of the kingdom passes from eldest child to eldest child; traditionally, if the ruler dies without an heir, the current heir of the other family becomes the next ruler.
Oru, which has few gender-specific terms, does not differentiate between “king” and “queen;” either is called the “Dantaaji.” The spouse of the king or queen is called the “Dantaoji,” which simply means “royal spouse.”
A noble in any other family is considered a prince or princess (“dantanaji”) if they are half or more of the blood of Gontamei or Barenor’mei. What constitutes nobility outside of the royal families has to do mostly with money and history; generally a family that has had at least one lucrative business or estate in their family name for at least three generations is considered nobility. Nobility may also be conferred, officially by title or unofficially by favor, by royalty. The title is “nadanji.”
As Akomera, an abolitionist country, borders on Ayundome, a kingdom where slavery has been practiced for as long as anyone can remember, Akomera has very specific laws on slavery relating to their neighbor.
Travelers or immigrants from Ayundome may retain their slaves in Akomera for no more than one year; after that time has passed, the slaves become Akomerai citizens and are subject to protection under Akomerai law. Even prior to this time, standard Akomerai law applies to slaves in regard to personal crimes such as assault and rape.
Escaped slaves that have crossed the Akomerai border may be retaken by Ayundomei slavers unless the slave or another donor is capable of presenting the slavers with Freedom Post. This is a set amount considered a reasonable price for a single slave (based on monthly reports of averages from the Ayundomei markets), and must be accepted in lieu of the slave.
Escaped slaves that have crossed the Akomerai border and manage to avoid recapture for one year are considered Akomerai citizens and protected under the law.
No slave may be bought or sold on Akomerai soil; no negotiation that takes place within the borders of Akomera regarding a slave, except for the Freedom Post, is recognized by Akomerai law, regardless of the parties involved.
Spiritual energy is best described as the Energy of Self. Passion and experience help to strengthen the spiritual energy; while awareness of and understanding of one’s nature, a satisfactory alignment of personal truths with the truths of the universe (as discovered by experience), purpose in life or drive to complete long-term ambitions or goals, and a sense of meaning or fulfillment to life help to control the spiritual energy. Not everyone, however, has the gift of recognizing and controlling spiritual energy, and not everyone that can manipulate it can do so to any great effect.
The Rulers of Akomera
King Gontarun I (the Great/the Unifier) ruled for 26 years (0-26)
King Gontarun II ruled for 34 years (26-60)
Queen Barenora ruled for 5 years (60-65)
King Gontarun III ruled for 13 years (65-78)
King Barenora II 42 years (78-120)
Queen Jiomosu ruled for 29 years (120-149)
King Rionura I (the Usurper) ruled for 2 years (149-151)
King Kiroshin ruled for 4 years (151-155)
Queen Imau ruled for 9 years (155-164)
Queen Kurine ruled for 55 years (164-219)
Queen Bienura ruled for 36 years (219-255)
King Ero ruled for 17 years (255-272)
King Rionura II (the Pious) ruled for 22 years (272-294)
Queen Rionura III ruled for 29 years (294-323)
King Kenshin I ruled for 37 years (323-360)
Queen Torimei ruled for 12 years (360-372)
King Torimei II ruled for 18 years (372-390)
King Jiomosu II ruled for 37 years (390-427)
Queen Piron ruled for 12 years (427-439)
Queen Imau II ruled for 13 years (439-452)
King Kenshin II has been on the throne for 20 years (452-472)
The Great Years
The first 120 years of Akomera’s official history are referred to as “The Great Years” after the most common title of Gontarun the Unifier. During this time period, every monarch was named after either Gontarun or his brother Barenora. This was the era during which unification of smaller holdings were effected, and borders established between the fledgling Akomera and the countries to the north, until the entirety of the Akomerai peninsula recognized the sovereignty of the royal house Gontamei.
The Great Years were followed by the Age of Feuds.
Age of Feuds
The Age of Feuds, also known as the Years of Contest, was the approximately 45-year period (120-164) following the Great Years, encompassing the reigns of Jiomosu I, Rionura I, Kiroshin, and Imau I, as well as others that usurped or made claim to the throne at some point but are not listed among the official rulers of Akomera.
When king Barenora II of royal house Gontamei died without having produced any direct heirs, the throne went to the senior princess of Barenor’mei, Jiomosu. She ruled peacefully for several years, but Gontamei grew gradually more and more unhappy with the situation. They believed that a member of the original ruling family should have been the next ruler, even if he or she held a lower place in the family than Jiomosu did in Barenor’mei. Eventually (149) Rionura, a young prince of Gontamei backed by most of the family, usurped the throne, imprisoned Jiomosu, and declared himself king. This earned him the historic title “the Usurper,” despite the fact that there were several others after him who did much the same.
In fact, less than a year and a half into Rionura’s rule, another Gontameiji, princess Inrei, declared that although she was younger and of lower status than Rionura, her greater ability in several areas qualified her better for the throne than her cousin, and that if they were to pick and choose among existing royalty, she had an even better right to rule than he did. Declaring herself queen somewhat prematurely, she demanded the rule of the kingdom be handed to her. Rionura resisted, and fighting and tension ensued.
Into this chaos came Jiomosu’s younger brother Kiroshin, seeking to free his sister, whom he regarded as the rightful ruler. He managed to kill Rionura and drive Inrei from the area. Jiomosu also died in the struggle, however, so Kiroshin proclaimed himself king (151). He spent his entire reign consistently repelling Inrei, whom he could never quite defeat.
There was also tension with Jiomosu’s son Tokorae, the only one of her three children to survive the effort to free her from Rionura. Tokorae was suspected of being illegitimate, but now maintained that he was closer to being Jiomosu’s heir than Kiroshin was. Additionally, Jiomosu’s oldest living grandchild, a child prince named after his grandmother, was held by some to have the greatest claim to the throne.
After nearly five years, Rionura’s husband Kaemei overthrew and killed Kiroshin (155). Kaemei at first called himself regent, acting for his young daughter Imau, but this only lasted a few months before he began referring to himself as the king despite only having married into the royal family.
Tokorae, who had escaped, joined forces with Inrei, and together they fought with Kaemei and his supporters. Once they had overthrown him, however, they turned on each other and continued to vie for supremacy. Inrei managed to defeat and imprison Tokorae; her plan was to convince him to marry her, thereby further solidifying her claim to the throne. However, he died of his wounds in prison. Inrei had only a few weeks as queen before she met much the same fate, succumbing to an illness that was the result of the wounds she took from her last fight with Tokorae.
What remained were those who supported Gontamei through Imau (then twelve years old) and those who supported Barenor’mei through Jiomosu (then ten years old). Tired of the bloodshed, misery, and confusion of the era, these groups met peacefully to discuss the matter, and it was decided that Imau and Jiomosu should marry, and that Imau I, being older, should assume the title of queen (155). This did not entirely suit everyone, but those who objected did so only peacefully and there were no further usurpations.
The Age of Feuds was followed by the Jo’onhkun War Era.
Jo’onhkun War (Era)
The Jo’onhkun War officially began during the reign of Queen Bienura, but the conflicts with Jo’onhkutsu began during the reign of her mother, Queen Kurine. The war was ended by Bienura’s son Ero, and therefore the period of time between Kurine and Ero (approximately 108 years (164-272)) is typically referred to as “the Jo’onhkun War Era,” despite the fact that the war itself lasted less than a decade.
During this era, the islands of Ikensa and Hyonsa were made Akomerai protectorates.
The Jo’onhkun War Era was preceded by the Age of Feuds and followed by the Pious Years.
The Pious Years
Immediately following the Jo’onhkun War Era was a 51-year period (272-323) called “The Pious Years,” encompassing the reigns of Rionura II (the Pious) and III.
The Pious Years were preceded by the Jo’onhkun War Era followed by the Age of Knights.
The Age of Knights
The Age of Knights, also known as the Years of Tournament, is generally considered to have begun during the reign of Kenshin I and ended with Jiomosu II, thus comprising the reigns of Torimei I and II and a total period of about 75 years (323-399).
Tournaments evolved from casual, non-lethal duels held among Kenshin’s royal knights and various warriors in Elotica. When Kenshin formalized them, he intended to give warriors an outlet for their skills during times of peace, and at first this goal was successfully met. Royal knights customarily participated in order to ensure a set of honorable, challenging opponents, and it was fairly typical for the better ones to go undefeated. Tournaments were also a useful picking ground for those looking to hire bodyguards or companions for dangerous expeditions, as warriors from all over the kingdom would travel to the tournament grounds (usually at Elotica) to join in.
Gradually, however, the events became more of a sport and an entertainment than anything with a real purpose; rather than merely providing a channel for the energy of already-existing warriors, they encouraged the unnecessary growth and popularity of a separate warrior class. Seeing this, Jiomosu felt that tournaments had outlived their usefulness and discontinued the practice. The occasional tournament was held from time to time after that, most notably during the reign of Queen Piron, but never on so large a scale as in former years.
Prior to the Age of Knights, the rank of knight was attainable either through war heroism or by being in the right place at the right time to perform some gallant act in sight of the monarch or a close relation. The tournaments provided another way for the rank to be awarded: excellent performance in a tournament, often regardless of the subject’s eventual ranking, could result in knighthood.
The Age of Knights was preceded by the Pious Years and followed by the current era.
The Refugee Issue (The Bandit Wars)
During the early years of the reign of Kenshin II, when civil war erupted in neighbor Ayundome (or, more accurately, when the neverending Ayundome civil war escalated to a previously unknown intensity) and that kingdom split into two segments, refugees from both sides of the struggle found their way to Akomera. Many of these were products of Ayundome’s troubled history, lacking the skills or the drive to integrate themselves honestly into a new society; even the more upstanding newcomers, however, found it difficult to find decent work, given the influx. Because of this, there was a significant rise in criminal activity of all sorts, and specifically smuggling and banditry.
In response to this, a general outcry arose for Kenshin to close off what little border there was between Ayundome and Akomera, ban Ayundomei ships from all Akomerai ports, and/or outlaw Ayundomei presence in the kingdom. Kenshin, however, refused to take any such drastic step, declaring that his kingdom would always welcome refugees who were willing to live peacefully. Given that many of them weren’t, however, he had to take additional steps. So for four years he traveled the kingdom with his knights and personally worked and fought against the smugglers and bandits that were spreading across the country, eventually bringing an end to the large-scale pursuit of these trades. It was during this time that he gained his distinctive facial scar; it was also during these pursuits that his chief knight Isami was killed.
These years came to be known colloquially as “The Bandit Wars,” a more popular name than the more diplomatic title Kenshin took to calling them ever after. Kenshin used it as his symbol for the promotion of peace, stating that, while he would never allow his kingdom to become like Ayundome or his people like the unfortunate Ayundomeshou, still that nation and its citizens had his support and friendship. It was at this time that his practice of wearing an empty sheath to symbolize his desire for peace went into effect.
A potato-based liquor, often shortened to “ab’giru.” The suffix -giruou is used for all alcoholic drinks, and sometimes used on its own as a general term.
Of Akomera. -ai is an adjectival suffix.
Citizen/citizens of Akomera. The suffixes -ji and -shou can be applied to a number of words to make them refer to a person or people.
A seaweed-based liquor.
The currency of Akomera is the azu, which literally means “piece,” though when referring to money it’s not pluralized with -o like a standard noun.
the bee on his nose
Roughly the Akomeru equivalent of “the elephant in the room” — something evident to everyone present, and particularly relevant to at least one of them, but ignored by everyone (in this case because to draw attention to it might provoke it into stinging).
A unit of geographic measure similar to a mile (abbreviated “ch.”).
A term of emphasis used especially among the religious, as five is a sacred (or at least religiously significant) number.
Strictly speaking, there is no concept of Hell in the belief system of those that worship the divine ladies. The term used as a mild profanity refers instead to the blue fires of eternity through which everyone must pass to be purified after death. I’ve rendered it as ‘hell’ for convenience.
Similarly, there is no concept of damnation. The blue fires are said to burn away all evil from a soul, and therefore a thoroughly evil person runs the risk of being reduced to very little of what they once were during this cleansing. The idea of losing so much of one’s self seems close enough to damnation that I’ve seen fit to use related English terms in place of referencing it!
An amphibious snake-like creature with salt- and freshwater varieties indigenous to Akomera and especially its west coast. The fanciful idea of giant and/or winged kousetouo is an idea similar to that of dragons in our folklore.
Twice as far as a chuwei (abbreviated “ni”).
The outer garment typically worn by everyone in Akomera and many other nearby regions, the shiiya is a loose tunic that extends, on average, to the thighs and has hanging sleeves that can be buttoned on in adverse weather conditions. Shiiyao vary greatly based on area, function, and fashion, and may have attached hoods, pockets, larger or smaller sleeve buttons (or none at all), thicker or thinner material of different types, longer or shorter hemlines, and a variety of cuts to neck, hem, and sleeves. A tighter, often laced-up sleeveless shirt of thin material is typically worn underneath, designed to provide support for breasts or made very simply for a lack thereof.
Someone only romantically/sexually interested in women. Bisexuality is considered the norm in Akomerai society.
Someone only romantically/sexually interested in men.
Any fruit-based liquor.