Physical Characteristics ·
Subsistence and Economy ·
Religion and Philosophy
Science and Technology · Government and Settlement Patterns · Military
Arts/Literature/Entertainment · Kinship/Marriage/Gender and Age Roles
Physical Characteristics of the Shedhweingá
The typical Shedhweing humanoid differs little from terrestrial humans as far as internal biology; the most significant differences are all external. Perhaps the most obvious difference is height: Shedhweing males average seven-and-a-half feet (~230 cm) tall, and the women are only a few inches shorter. Certain physical features are also proportionally larger than those on terrestrials, chiefly the head, eyes, hands, and genitalia, including secondary sexual features. Additionally, healthy Shedhweingá are born with a second thumb on each hand (and a corresponding sixth toe on each foot); this explains their tendency to use counting systems such as duodecimal.
Ignoring infant mortality rates, which vary in time and space, the average Shedhweing male lives to the age of 85 Askath-years; the females, to 82. Occupational hazards or violent deaths may result in lower lifespans, while exceptional individuals have been recorded as dying in their 130s. Although child-raising is a highly cultural aspect, they often wait until age 24-36 to begin having children. Shedhweingá are often hardier than terrestrial humans, and can tolerate greater extremes of heat and cold; they find a temperature range of 15-30°C ideal. Nevertheless, they prefer flat or mostly flat habitats; few groups choose to live in the mountains.
As on Earth, the demands of Askath’s many climates has led to certain differentiations between the inhabitants of those climes, resulting in a kaleidoscope of unique races. Non-cultural differences are much the same as among human phenotypes: the colors of the skin, eyes, and hair; the shapes of facial features; the inherent susceptibilities to certain hereditary maladies. Among the Ánhrushites, a light olive skin color is commonplace, as are dark hair and eye colors. Their hair is also typically straight, although wavy hair is a trait of some families. Their lips and nipples are also unusually dark, with a color similar to chocolate. Their eyes are somewhere between round and flat, indeed almost rectangular, as an adaptation to the harsh desert sun; likewise, their noses are small to minimize the chances of breathing in dust.
Subsistence and Economy
The Ánhrushites are talented farmers, and have mastered the means of irrigating their crops to produce very high-yield harvests. This grew out of a need to maximize the limited resources of the Amanha Desert. Due to the efficiency of their agricultural methods, farms are generally limited to the areas around cities, which themselves are mostly near water sources – the few rivers and many springs that gave rise to the desert’s name (Déshpei ám Ánhá, “Desert of Springs”). A city’s excess crops are both stored in granaries for use in droughts, and sent to the many villages far from major water sources (what water those villages have available is drawn from wells, and in only enough quantity for drinking). Any leftover food is exported, commonly to resource-poor nations and the Republic’s major trading partners.
Due to the dynamics of weather in the desert, there are two unique growing seasons, which roughly coincide with summer and winter; the harvest of one season and planting of the next fall in mid-autumn and mid-spring, respectively. Different crops grow in each season and are generally rotated through existing farmland during the year. Crops similar to wheat, barley, and citrus and vine fruits are grown in summer, while those resembling lettuce, beans, lentils, hot peppers, and root vegetables are grown in winter. Dates are collected year-round, whenever they happen to ripen. Additional non-food crops are also grown, mostly cotton and flax. Bees are kept for honey, but this is rare.
From these basic foodstuffs, the Ánhrushites produce many nutritious dishes. Since wheat has long been the most common staple crop, and remains popular today, a large variety of breads and pastas are made. Bread is most commonly flat, although some enjoy a Saruan import referred to as önd ainúmésh, “airy bread”; this uses yeast to make the bread rise when baked. As for pasta, both noodles and filled pastas are a longtime favorite; a few ancient texts refer to the excellent filled pastas prepared in the kingdom of Ham-Ham (which controlled a large swath of what is now Ánhrush). These pastas are mostly filled with either cheese or tomato paste, and come in a variety of shapes.
Additional main courses include baked potatoes, white and red meats, and pizza. Salad is typically a combination of lettuce and chopped citrus fruits, sometimes with a small amount of cheese used as dressing. Soups are made from boiling various lentils, beans, and noodles; and a kind of chili combining beans and hot peppers is popular. Herbs and whole fruits, often grapes and lemons, serve as additional side dishes. Honey, salt, and ground pepper are used to season different foods.
While cane sugar is not native to the Amanha Desert, it is commonly grown in Argolla and the Plains of Ga; pastries and desserts baked there are imported to Ánhrush. Similarly, cocoa plants are indigenous to those areas; the beans harvested from them are imported and made into coffee and chocolate. Temperate fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, and melons, are imported from Sāru and Ugvăn; they are sometimes added to native dishes for exotic flavors. Limish and Arailan spices are used for the same purpose, though as seasonings. Similarly, curried rice and meat from those areas are growing in popularity. Eggs from the northern nations are rare and considered a delicacy.
The number of meals an Ánhrushite eats in a day typically increases with wealth. Poor families may only be able to afford enough food for one meal, while better-off citizens usually eat two meals a day; the richest members of society might eat a third meal. Typically, the family eats éngkroish or breakfast at home, if at all, before the members go to their daily tasks; university students eat in a communal mess hall before classes begin. Most people then do not eat again until üthéng or dinner, after the family is back at home and classes have ended for the day. Those rich enough to afford églár, or lunch, eat it at midday in restaurants or small cafés. While meals are eaten mostly at home, families or groups of friends sometimes eat at restaurants, which often specialize in certain foods. At other times, a family may hire a caterer (or use any servants they might keep) to serve guests at home feasts.
In addition to the crops they raise, Ánhrushite farmers also keep certain domesticated animals. The most common resemble terrestrial sheep, goats, cows, and camels. Besides meat and leather, which are made from all four animals, each has its own uses: goats and cows are raised for their milk, sheep for their wool, and camels for transportation. Chickens are another, though less common, domesticated animal, raised mainly for their meat. Farmers, villagers, and rich city-dwellers also buy sheep for religious sacrifices.
At most times of the year, the high productivity of farmland allows most of the Ánhrushite population to work at non-agricultural jobs; only about one in ten citizens are farmers during growing seasons. However, when the time comes for harvesting the yield of one season and planting for the next, up to 25% of the population may be in the fields, resulting in a work slowdown of two to three weeks for other industries. Once the fields are fully harvested, the whole population takes one or two days off to celebrate before returning to work; these harvest festivals occur in autumn on 26th Chántángkou and in spring on 1st-2nd Árroufántou.
Because up to 90% of the population is not occupied with growing food most of the year, there is a certain amount of specialization in commerce and industry. In most industries, there are craftsmen who process a certain raw material into an intermediate product, which they then sell to other craftsmen; these then transform the intermediate material into a finished product, which they sell to merchants and traders. This four-link industry chain (raw material → intermediate product → wholesale product → retail market) is most common with goods like cloth, furniture, and baked foods; some industries, most notably jewelry, collapse the middle links into one, processing raw goods like gemstones as part of creating the finished products. In either case, almost no craftsmen sell their products directly out of their workshops; they instead sell them to merchants. (Raw materials have a similar situation: they are sold in special industrial markets, separate from the retail shops.)
Generally speaking, any good that is not essential for survival is a luxury in Ánhrush. With such a broad definition in use, many goods are considered luxuries. The type and quality of luxuries vary by wealth; poorer citizens tend to have fewer such goods beyond family heirlooms, while the rich enjoy the use of many luxuries. Most people own some sort of fine clothing and jewelry; among rich people, these are frequently made from imported silk and precious metals and stones, respectively, while average citizens’ finery is made of linen and more common metals. Richer folks also often own some sort of musical instrument, which would feature intricate carvings and metal inlays. The quality of furniture also increases with wealth; poorer members of society can often only afford plain, undecorated pieces. By the same token, most people own plates and utensils made of wood, clay, or stone, while the rich eat with fine ceramics and metals.
Rather than barter for goods and services, which they consider primitive, the Ánhrushites pay for their needs and wants with gold and silver coins, which collectively are units of yúksh, or currency. The basic, one-yúksh piece is a silver coin, about one inch in diameter. A gold coin of twice this size is worth twelve yúkshá. While the average citizen uses only these two kinds of coinage, other units exist for storage purposes: the 144-yúksh gold rod, with the diameter of a silver coin and the gold (by weight) of twelve gold coins; and the 1728-yúksh gold ingot, a rectangular prism that contains the gold of twelve rods. These large-unit pieces are mostly used for bulk trading and intergovernmental transactions.
Since so much of the population is engaged in non-agricultural business, Ánhrush accumulates a moderate surplus of goods. The majority of these are traded internationally, while a fraction is kept in storage, much as with extra food. The most sought-after Ánhrushite products in the world’s markets are chiefly artistic: many believe Ánhrushite artists to be the best in the world. As such, their traders mostly sell paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, along with some tools and pottery. Ánhrushite pasta-based dishes are also popular in foreign countries, and cookbooks are another frequently-sold commodity, along with some of the basic ingredients in those meals.
This huge amount of outgoing trade, combined with a low number of imports, has created a trade surplus within the Republic. Among the relatively few foreign goods bought in Ánhrush are food from various countries, some art, and Saruan lamps. These last are prized because of their solid construction and high light output, a useful feature in the northern country. Boats, also mostly from Sāru, are another common import.
In order to transport all these goods, as well as people, different options exist depending on the distance to be traveled. The Republic maintains a large network of paved highways, which form a web with Ánhrush City at the center: the twelve main highways pass through the city, lesser roads branch off from them, and all are connected via ring roads. Along these roads, people and their wares travel in open and enclosed carriages pulled mostly by horses, though other beasts of burden are also employed. Individuals also ride on the backs of horses and camels, both on and off roads. Within the cities, walking is more common, but there are also rickshaws for both people and objects.
While Ánhrushites are very hard-working at their jobs, many homeowners are able to relax much more at home than others. This is due to the Republic’s system of indentured servitude. While slaves in other countries have few rights and are often little more than their owners’ property, the indentured servants of Ánhrush enjoy almost as many rights as free citizens. Masters are required by religious law not to abuse their servants in any way, and must liberate them once they have earned it, unless the servant wants to remain with his or her master. Typically, servants are friends or relatives of their masters who either committed a crime against them, or accrued a debt they could not otherwise repay; as such, master-servant relations tend to be amicable. Those few servants who complain to police or priests about mistreatment are entitled to an early liberation, while the offending master is fined.
Religion and Philosophy
The majority religion in the Republic of Ánhrush is the monotheistic Yádár-Yá; it is estimated that about 88 percent of the population are Yavites. Additionally, there are some Argollan pagans (about eight percent of the people), a remnant from the days of the Argollan occupation of Ánhrush. Another three percent of citizens are henotheists; this group is mostly concentrated in the northern plains and desert. The rest are a variety of other pagans, shamanists, and agnostics, in no particular order. The remainder of this section will focus on Yádár-Yá, with a few references to the beliefs and traditions of minority faiths where they are relevant to the majority.
The Yavite creation story closely parallels that of the Hebrew Bible: both tell that their respective worlds were created by God over a period of six days, ending with God resting on the seventh day. By contrast, Argollan pagans believe the universe is eternal, and that the gods created Askath when they wanted a more pleasant home than the void of space. Unfortunately, the introduction of evil into the world forced them to retreat to the two moons of Askath, where they could still influence the world and visit when necessary. Here the Yavite creation story can be seen to have had an influence in the pagan story: prior to the occupation, the pagans believed both Askath and the universe were eternal.
Yádár-Yá has a very centralized priestly hierarchy, focusing on the high priest at the Temple in Ánhrush City and working downwards. In addition to the high priest, there are three orders of lesser priests; each is the same size and has an eponymous primary symbol that represents two of the six Yavite virtues. The Order of the Sun represents holiness and righteousness; the Order of the Tree stands for good works and discipleship; and the Order of the Scales symbolizes justice and moderation. Eight chief priests lead each order and serve on the national religious court with the high priest. Additionally, one chief priest of each order represents one of eight geographical regions within the Republic; there are therefore three chief priests from each region. Under them, each synagogue and monastery has a single, appointed priest, with monks, nuns, and priests-in-training under him, organized into the orders.
While this hierarchy is impressively large and efficient, it is also completely separate from the civil government. No portion of state taxes is spent on its upkeep; it is entirely paid for with offerings from the populace. In this respect, Ánhrush is socially ahead of its terrestrial counterparts in Renaissance Europe and the Middle East, and even among its own neighbors. Although Yavites enjoy their position as the majority religion, they do not use the government to force the worship of Yávé upon any religious minority. The only area of any civil and religious mixing in the government is in the unusual dual court system: both religious and civil courts exist in Ánhrush, and, as such, there are both religious and civil crimes tried by them. The two categories of crime are very clear-cut; only a few particularly heinous crimes, such as the assassination of a priest, fall into both categories; those that do so are tried in both court systems.
Openness is a hallmark of Yádár-Yá, and all religious meetings and rituals are public affairs. Visitors are often welcome to see monasteries, though such visitations are rare; nevertheless, the actions of monks and nuns are well-known because of their mainly charitable nature. Only among the minority faiths is secrecy the order of the day. Meetings with and among shamans and Argollan mystics are invariably behind closed doors, and access to the henotheists’ walled complexes is for members only. As such, it is commonplace for Yavites to complain about their neighbors’ secrecy and spread (mostly false) rumors of their activities.
In daily life, Yádar-Yá requires a modest amount of time from its adherents. Every Yavite prays at mealtimes and after waking up, and families have a short devotional time after dinner, often in a separate room or a corner of the common room designated as the house’s chapel. However, the faithful spend several hours of every Yárang in their local synagogue (or the temple in Ánhrush City, if they live close enough), where they take part in the weekly services. Those services start with the priest calling all local Yavites into the synagogue, much like an Islamic muezzin on Earth. He then leads the people in a series of songs and chants that form the core of worship in any service. This continues after the communal sacrifice, when every family present brings some food item (usually a prepared dish or entrée) to the altar at the front and the priest leads the congregation in a prayer that Yávé will accept the sacrifice and forgive the sins of those present. Once worship has concluded, monetary offerings are collected, and the priest reads from the scriptures and gives an exhortation based on what he read. Afterwards, the people pray once more and eat lunch in the synagogue’s attached dining hall; it is common for part of the meal to be sacrifices from the service, while the rest is prepared at the synagogue. The rest of the sacrifices are later taken to any local monastery, convent, or reform house by the priest, some of his staff, and a few of the congregants. Families spend the rest of the day together, including extended families.
Yavite theology tells a story of a very personal God – a radical difference from almost every other theistic religion, whose gods are all quite distant and unapproachable. By contrast, Yávé (a name commonly translated as Yahweh/Jehovah) knows each of his followers personally and cares for them as a father cares for his children. Therefore, he is commonly expected to provide for the well-being of his followers, both in body and in money. In family matters, he is responsible for a couple’s fertility or lack thereof, and guards all weak family members, especially children. At the national level, he is believed to favor Ánhrush above all other nations and to look after the Republic’s soldiers. All his blessings, however, are held to be contingent on righteousness and good works; a dearth of these essential qualities can lead to disaster in a Yavite’s life.
Originally, all Yavite traditions were oral; but as the population rediscovered writing after the establishment of Ánhrush, people began writing these traditions down. In the earliest centuries, there were some conflicting accounts recorded, and a few important traditions and doctrines remained unclear. These discrepancies were settled in the late 14th century HwÁ, during the construction of the Great Temple of Yávé, when the need for a unified written account became clear. Gejaim III, the high priest at the time, examined all the different books of history, ritual, prose, and prophecy that then existed, along with his chief priests; they then agreed on which texts were the most accurate and faithful to tradition and ordered the production of a unified manuscript for the new temple. The result, besides the modern pékrif or alphabet, was a set of seven scrolls – two of laws and ritual, two of history, two of prose, and one of prophecy – that became the basis for all future religious manuscripts. Today, while those original scrolls no longer exist, copies of them are in every synagogue and monastery in the Republic, along with the temple; the richest citizens also have their own copies. Commentaries on the scriptures are also popular among those who can afford them, and every monastery and synagogue has a few in its library.
While prophecy plays an important part of the Yavite tradition, career prophets have been historically rare. The only such prophet to have achieved high recognition during the First Republic was Shábôrrin Írraiyou, who is best known for predicting the creation of the Milky Way in 772 HwÁ. By far, however, the most famous prophets lived fairly recently, in the mid-38th century; they are mainly remembered simply as the Twelve Prophets. They first began their careers in different areas of the former Ánhrushite Empire (then occupied by Árgôlla) near the beginning of 3842 (late 1 BC on Earth) and vanished without a trace in spring of 3866 (about May AD 33). Many of their proclamations and actions coincided with each other, as well as with events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth on Earth. Their impact on history was profound: two religious holidays have since been celebrated annually, and many of their sermons ultimately inspired the revolution that ended the Argollan occupation and established the Second Republic.
The Yavite view of the afterlife envisions the universe as a plane with one cone above it and another below; the apexes of the cones are farthest from this plane, while their bases are closest to it. The cone above the universe is heaven, with God at the top; the cone below is hell, with the devil at the bottom. Yavites believe that the first destination of the souls of the dead is God’s throne, where their life’s actions and beliefs are measured like grain into two transparent jars, one for good works and one for bad works. The fuller the jar of good works is, compared to the jar of bad works, the closer to God they will be sent for eternity. Every good and bad work is weighted the same, but the most venerated of good works and most despised of bad works are composed of several lesser works of the same nature. If the two jars are equally full, the person’s belief or disbelief in Yávé is used as a tiebreaker, with belief sending that person to the lowest part of heaven and disbelief sending him to the highest part of hell. Those who died with significantly more good works than bad will be resurrected after God renews the universe to live in his presence forever.
Meanwhile, back in the physical universe, the corpse is typically embalmed over the course of a week, sealed in a sarcophagus, and buried; executed criminals, however, are cremated, and their ashes are then sealed in a small jar and buried. The deceased is then given a funeral parade from the embalmer’s workshop to the grave site. The bereaved family is at the front of the procession, followed by the local priest, the pallbearers, and friends of the deceased; rich families may also hire musicians to mourn in the parade. At the grave, the priest leads a prayer for the dead, the sarcophagus is buried, and the procession travels to either the family’s house or the synagogue to eat the funerary meal.
While Yádár-Yá is not known for a host of superstitions, the few its adherents have are commonplace. Many superstitions stem from the belief in a complex hierarchy of good and evil spirits that are present at various times and places, both day and night. The most obvious result of this belief is the inscription of blessings on the lintels of front doors as a safeguard against demons and other evil spirits which, under orders from more powerful spirits or the devil, would try to disrupt the well-being of the household. This practice is, in fact, very ancient, and can be traced directly back to the Gomai family itself. Furthermore, the belief that disguised angels may sometimes visit homes makes families very hospitable to travelers. It is also common to utter a brief benediction upon mentioning the name of God or of a dead person, due to the belief that all things eternal are to be hallowed.
While there are many minor festivals honoring various prophets and historical figures, only a few holidays are of great significance. Those that are, however, are celebrated joyfully across the Republic. Those most significant holidays are summarized below.
• The start of the new year, on 1st Dháshkóbódh, is marked by music and dancing in the forums of every city and town. Restaurants lower their prices to give more people the opportunity to not work as hard as usual. In Ánhrush City, people write worries and prayers for the new year on stones and throw them into the City Reservoir to symbolize their trust in Yávé for his guidance and blessing in the coming year.
• As has already been mentioned, festivals are held between the harvest of one growing season and the planting of the next, on 26th Chántángkou and 1st-2nd Árroufántou. Once again, public music and dancing is common, as well as praise to Yávé for the harvest and prayers for blessing in the coming season.
• The Yárang closest to 1st Youkhár is known as the Day of the Prophets. While Yavites celebrate all the prophets on this date, special attention is given to the Twelve Prophets, as it was on this day in 3842 that they proclaimed the birth of the Messiah. People gather at their local synagogue and partake in a commemorative feast.
• On 6th Youkhár, Yavites celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Great Temple of Yávé with a complete work stoppage, public gatherings in open areas, and a commemorative dinner.
• The newest holiday is a general celebration of Ánhrushite history on 4th Ánhrushkár. In the past, this was a celebration honoring the ruling government of that year; it was cancelled after the Argollans began their occupation and reinstated after they were expelled from the reconstituted Republic.
• Those families fortunate enough to have their ancestors buried in Ánhrush City’s Tomb of the Ancestors take the third Woilshrang in Ánhrushkár off to gather in the mausoleum to pay their repsects to their ancestors; a conjunction of the two moons generally occurs at this time.
• While not really a holiday in the traditional sense, citizens are given the day off on 12th Zaikárdhou every three years to vote in senatorial elections; local results are then proclaimed in the forums shortly before dinnertime.
• Across the Republic, 33rd Zaikárdhou is celebrated as the vernal equinox. While celebrations tend to be more enthusiastic among pagans than Yavites, everyone generally has a good time. Additionally, the day is celebrated in Ánhrush City as the anniversary of the city’s incorporation.
• The Yárang closest to 21st Rangkouánd is the Day of the Messiah, when the announcement of this most important earthly Yavite figure was declared by the Twelve Prophets to have achieved his greatest victory in rising from the dead in 3866 HwÁ. Yavites typically spend the whole day on the grounds of their local synagogue, or at the Great Temple. Similar festivities follow seven weeks later, on the Day of the Spirit.
• The entire month of Oiwoikhár is known as the Month of Sacrifice. Every citizen gives up something of personal significance for the month; also, every able Yavite brings some sort of sacrifice to the Temple as an offering to Yávé.
• Additionally, festivals are held in the evenings of days when Búrtekei and Lódeis, the two moons of Askath, are aligned, an event which generally occurs around the 18th of every month. (Not coincidentally, the start of a new month generally coincides with the time when the moons are on opposite sides of the planet; the ancients thought it fitting to begin a new month when one moon was rising and the other was setting.)Philosophy
Not all Yavites share these philosophical tenets. Throughout the religion’s history as a majority faith, small sects have arisen that have touted the merits of a few particular modes of living over the rest. However, each time one sect has approached dominance over the body of Yavites, the religion has returned to its basic, moderate philosophy. While most minor sects arose quickly to prominence, only to disappear just as quickly, a few have survived to the present. Most notable are the Ashményéntá, who exalt all things spiritual, believe in the random nature of events, and are known as babbling mystics and ascetics; the Gírkéntá, who state that God made the world for the pleasure of the Shedhweingá and therefore indulge their senses often; and the Éshtókéntá, who maintain that God has already planned out all of time, though not necessarily via cycles, and favor strong government and strict adherence to dogma and formality.
The common acceptance of algorém has, over the past few centuries, fostered an advanced understanding of algorúch, or trigonometry. The sinusoidal functions are especially well-understood, and transformations of them are sometimes employed in analyzing historical patterns. Inverse trigonometric functions, meanwhile, are a fairly recent discovery, but they are already being put to use; conversion between classical rise-over-run slope and angle measures, via the arctangent, is becoming popular across many disciplines. Additionally, the Ánhrushites have been familiar with polynomial algebra and conic sections for over 2800 years; architects have been basing arches on parabolas since the time of the First Republic. Another recent innovation is basic calculus; philosophers interested in rates of change and acceleration are busily exploring the properties of derivatives. An understanding of set theory and complex numbers, meanwhile, is still in the future.
While each sect has had its own central philosopher, few have ever risen to national prominence. Those that have, however, remain well-known and (generally) respected – even venerated.
Perhaps the best-known philosopher from the early history of Ánhrush is Zátreikhá Oindémyád, often called the father of Yavite theology and philosophy. Living in the early years of the First Republic, he popularized algorém, solidified the common understanding of the nature of Yávé, and even made the first statement of heliocentrism. He is best remembered, however, for his works on theology, saying in The God of Our Fathers, “Yávé: though He is omnipotent, yet He chooses to aid us in the mundane things; though He is omniscient, yet He desires our prayers; though He is Lord of all, yet He chooses to serve us, His wards. Though one searches all the world, one will not find a people with such a god as Him.” He also promoted moderation in living with his statement, “Let not a man seek only to please himself and ignore all others, nor let him seek only to please God and ignore himself, nor let him seek only to please others and ignore God, lest God find him lacking in these. Rather, let him seek to please each one in its proper time; then, God will judge him favorably.”
Later, near the end of the First Republic, was the rationalist Gomai Khakpálén. While the Dárûdént sect that flourished after his death has since been marginalized, his work promoting analysis of all ideas and the thorough application of logic has influenced both the scientific disciplines and philosophy at large; many of his teachings have found their way into Éshtókéntín doctrines. In his most famous speech, he directly rebuked the Ashményéntín belief in the randomness of time by saying, "Why would an omniscient God, He who designed the many-layered body, leave history to chance? No, our God is not capricious; He indeed planned all that will be before one day had yet passed.”
Proper, ethical behavior is very important to the Ánhrushites, as most of the rules governing ethics are carefully laid out in the Yavite scriptures. As such, two governing principles of behavior have been identified: fairness and mercy. Every Ánhrushite is expected to respect those around him, not unfairly showing more or less respect to anyone than is due; those who fail to give proper respect are looked down upon. However, such offenders are generally not ostracized from society because of the expectation of mercy. Anyone who is wronged in some way can choose to either forgive the offender or require something in recompense, whether a service, public apology, or material payment (both money and personal effects can be used in this situation). However, if neither party can agree on a resolution to their problem, they can take the matter to the civil courts. Actions prohibited by the ethical codes include such familiar taboos as theft, murder, adultery, and perjury.
Etiquette is closely bound to ethics insofar as respect is highly valued, but with the key difference that no recompense beyond an apology is needed when someone behaves rudely. Furthermore, the rules of etiquette are not part of the legal system (though many tacit rules are common in society), and so disputes are never settled in court. That being said, it is common among Ánhrushites not to be more intimate with someone than is appropriate for their relationship; for example, touching another’s body is acceptable among couples and close friends only. Also, the humble imperative should be used when giving non-urgent commands; only in very serious circumstances, and when ordering servants and military subordinates, should the forceful imperative be used. As a corollary, only the humble imperative is used when making requests to God in prayers. In conversation, interruptions and questioning another’s moral integrity are to be avoided; disagreement should be done respectfully, without using inappropriate words or gestures.
Part of showing proper respect involves following greeting protocols. When two strangers or acquaintances meet, or anyone in a formal setting, both parties are to remove their hats, bow at the waist, and utter some sort of benediction to the other person. Friends and relatives of the same generation have more freedom here, and generally hug and say an informal greeting such as pál “hello” to each other. When leaving for any amount of time, the leaving party must say something; what he or she says depends on the situation. If that person is just leaving for a moment, words to the effect of “Pardon me” are appropriate. For longer departures, the more formal or polite way to say goodbye is kháfú; in more relaxed settings, yáháv is acceptable.
Science and Technology
Thanks in part to the widespread acceptance of algorém, Ánhrushites understand that they live in a heliocentric universe; they know that Askath and the other planets in their solar system orbit Seing, although they currently believe the same of the fixed stars as well. Telescopes are a fairly recent invention, but already astronomers are coming to the conclusion that the other heavenly bodies lie great distances away. Whereas the paths of the planets were previously thought to be the combinations of cycles and epicycles, the heliocentric model has given rise to the understanding of the planets’ true, elliptical orbits. Meanwhile, the Ánhrushites still believe that all of the stars are the same distance from Seing, and a mature knowledge of distances in space is still in the future.
Concerning the other natural sciences, the Ánhrushites are at various levels of understanding. Chemical properties have not yet begun to be examined in depth, although recent developments among alchemists will soon result in a more modern approach to chemistry. They have a great deal of knowledge about the desert’s native flora and fauna, including some aspects of anatomy. Furthermore, Ánhrushite optical technology has improved in recent years to the point that the first microscopes are being made. Natural philosophers have been studying the properties of rocks for centuries, and have recently begun to understand the geological processes that lead to various rock formations and strata. Physics, however, remains less advanced than the other disciplines; while optics, magnetism, and inertia are already well-understood, gravity remains a mystery, and the atomic theory is still a few centuries in the future.
As previously mentioned, alchemy exists in Ánhrush, and is currently well-respected as a science. While mysticism is officially disdained by Yádár-Yá, and divination is practiced only by pagans, there is a widespread belief in a form of astrology that relies on two cycles—one based on the constellations and a second based on years. This dual system is mostly used to predict the personalities of newborn children, although those who take it more seriously may also attempt to predict specific events with it. Such beliefs are common among Yavites, both in the mainstream and various algorémín sects, although the more mystical practices are rare among mainstream believers.
Education is a long-standing tradition
in Ánhrush, dating back to the pre-republican period. Although families must pay
a fee to a school for each child enrolled, the high enrollment numbers at most
schools tend to make such fees low enough that all but the poorest families can
afford to have their children educated. Furthermore, richer families generally
hire teachers or keep well-educated slaves to teach their children. Education
usually begins at age six and may last up to 18 years, depending on the level of
schooling sought; the school system is divided into three
six-year periods, with the variety of subjects taught decreasing at each level.
The first six years are considered the formative years of the child, and as
such, lessons cover almost all basic areas of knowledge, including: art, writing
and grammar, history, social conduct, the sciences, mathematics, and studies
specific to the father’s career (for boys; girls are given their first lessons
in homemaking instead). At age twelve, children may either begin working as
apprentices to their parents or continue with their formal education; if the
parents choose the latter, studies continue in the above disciplines, and
children may also learn foreign languages and economics. The final six years, if
chosen, are spent studying a single subject at a university; the range of
subjects is quite wide, and includes advanced studies in preparation for a
career in teaching. Religious instruction is kept wholly separate from this
course of study; those who elect to enter the priesthood or other religious
service spend the final six years of education in a seminary or monastery of
While germ theory has not yet been developed, certain religious rituals provide
higher levels of safety from disease than were common in pre-industrial Earth.
Yavites believe that a spirit of infirmity naturally inhabits drinking water and
their own waste; this is how they explain how such things give them diseases. As
such, a water-boiling ritual exists where the family matriarch chants prayers
and blessings of good health while she boils pots of drinking water. Similarly,
the family members excrete their waste into a common vessel during the day; at
evening, they take this vessel to the roof of their home (or the yard, if they
live in a rural house) and burn the contents, once again chanting prayers, and
In the period this document describes, Ánhrushite technology is comparable to that of the European Renaissance circa AD 1600. Iron has been the tool material of choice for over two millennia, and steel has been produced since the early imperial period; the first mentions of steel all date to the early 28th century. However, the primary uses of steel are still limited to weaponry and tools; iron remains the preferred metal in construction. In those industries that require mills or some other source of motion, a complex system of wooden gears has been developed that allows for variable speeds, complete stoppage, and even reverse motion.
While germ theory has not yet been developed, certain religious rituals provide higher levels of safety from disease than were common in pre-industrial Earth. Yavites believe that a spirit of infirmity naturally inhabits drinking water and their own waste; this is how they explain how such things give them diseases. As such, a water-boiling ritual exists where the family matriarch chants prayers and blessings of good health while she boils pots of drinking water. Similarly, the family members excrete their waste into a common vessel during the day; at evening, they take this vessel to the roof of their home (or the yard, if they live in a rural house) and burn the contents, once again chanting prayers, and sometimes singing.
Although modern sanitation systems are still some centuries in the future, a system of clay pipes allows water to be delivered under moderately high pressure to fountains for clean water. Waste disposal, meanwhile, remains rather crude; refuse of all kinds is collected at the backs of homes and businesses and buried some distance from the nearest settlement. Ánhrushite engineering, meanwhile, is impressive; the techniques employed have thus far allowed towers to exceed 600 feet in height and bridges to span almost a quarter of a mile. At the same time, their architecture is widely praised for its beauty, durability, and variety. Medicinal practice is slightly more advanced than it was in Renaissance Europe, due in part to a greater understanding of anatomy; surgery is common in Ánhrushite hospitals, though the success rate remains lower than in modern times. Herbal remedies remain popular and are prescribed alongside dietary practices and spiritual advice.
Government and Settlement Patterns
Ánhrush is organized into a republican system, where the citizens elect senators to represent their wishes at the national level; at present, there are about 600 senators. Due to negative past experiences with individuals at the head of the government, there is no separate executive branch; rather, the Senate chooses one of its own members to serve a single one-year term as its presiding officer, whose role is to maintain order in Senate meetings; he does not vote except to break ties. The senators at large may serve the country for a maximum of 18 years, divided into six three-year terms; all the senators are elected at once at this interval, on 12th Zaikárdhou, and the ensuing two months are a transition period for the government. Furthermore, the Senate is composed of both temporary committees, formed of senators to create resolutions related to current debate topics, and seven permanent departments, which senators administer: these are the Departments of the Treasury, Health, Security, Culture, Foreign Affairs, Commerce, and Education, most of which have further subdivisions devoted to certain aspects of that department’s specialty.
Beyond this national government, the Republic is organized into provinces, each of which has its own council and courts and serves to localize government administration and tax collection. Elections for half of a provincial council are held every year, and members are limited to twelve two-year terms; council size varies according to province population, with one councilmember generally representing about 5,200 citizens. Each province has its own highway police, and military divisions are based in specific provinces during peacetime.
At present, voting rights are available to all non-servant men at least 24 years of age. Despite the prohibition on women and servants voting, this degree of suffrage is still remarkable for having existed a millennium ago; there are no further restrictions within this pool of free men, meaning that even convicted criminals may vote. Concerning who may run for office, any man at least 30 years old with either his own craft shop or a university degree, as well as at least three years of military service, may serve as a provincial councilman. Similarly, senatorial candidates must be at least 42 years old and be knowledgeable in either a craft or field of study, as demonstrated in the same ways as a lower-level candidate; they must also have served in at least one lower-level government position, whether that be on a city or provincial council, in a government department, or as a military or police officer. All elected positions are limited to natural-born citizens of the Republic and those who have been citizens for at least twelve years.
Because of its roots as a council of family elders, the common belief about the role of government is surprisingly modern; people believe that government exists to accomplish those tasks at the national level that could not be accomplished otherwise. Such tasks typically include maintaining order within the Republic’s borders, protecting its citizens from external threats through military defense, and building and maintaining such public works as benefit society. A postmodern liberal, however, would likely find the Ánhrushite government too small; healthcare, trade, basic education, and care of the poor are left to citizens and private organizations. As such, the government builds theaters, but not hospitals; it funds universities and mints coins, but it does not regulate banks or lower-level schools; it provides justice and reforms criminals, but it does not hand out welfare checks or house the homeless. However, what the government does not do for society, philanthropists, doctors’ guilds and synagogues do – arguably better than the government ever could do them.
A long-standing tradition of commitment to fair justice, as well as a high literacy rate, has resulted in an immense corpus of legal documents, practices, and statutes at all levels of government, from the Senate and its departments to the smallest village. In most cases, the law is very unambiguous, with few loopholes and clear language eliminating all doubt about the will of the government. Punishment is as clear-cut as crime, when the law calls for it; most crimes only require a set fine and time spent in a reform house. Some transgressions, most notably sexual sins, require a form of public humiliation as well; for example, adulterers must perform fellatio on the cuckolded husband in either the local forum or synagogue. Only serious crimes merit a form of punishment, according to national law – such crimes as murder, treason and serial rape. Criminals convicted of these crimes are often publicly flogged, sentenced to a period of servitude to their own relatives or those of the victim, or executed. Additionally, those who commit crimes tried in both the secular and religious courts are almost always stoned to death.
The average tax burden that families bear is fairly unremarkable; the government exacts fees to pay for all the services it provides and dispense wages to its employees. Tax collectors require the same amount of money from rich and poor households alike, but only the absolute poorest families find themselves unable to pay their taxes; they usually opt to serve richer relatives to pay off their debt to the Republic. Such situations are, however, very rare; almost all families have enough money left over after taxes to maintain a decent lifestyle.
In general, Ánhrushites attempt to reach an agreement on their own when a dispute arises. However, if one party makes unreasonable demands of the other, or if some other circumstance precludes a private accord, the parties involved may instead turn to a lawyer, who is trained in such mediation, or the court system. Some situations, such as more than one man seeking a single woman, may result in the competitors participating in an athletic competition or duel to determine the victor.
In the historical heart of the Republic, which also happens to be the driest part of the country, settlements tend to be fairly large and distant from one another, with a typical town holding around five thousand inhabitants. Surrounding these towns are many small villages, generally with fewer than a thousand people living in them; these are often between six and twelve miles apart, although in some areas this distance may be greater due to climate or terrain. Not surprisingly, the more temperate plains beyond the desert are more densely populated, with cities, towns, and villages closer together; the situation is similar in the desert river valleys and near canals. Across the Republic, there are also thirteen cities that are remarkable for their great size; these are the great centers for trade and culture, with Ánhrush City first among them. Overall, about one in 28 Ánhrushites lives in an urban center, or over two million of the Republic’s nearly 58 million citizens.
The range of services available in a settlement increases with city size. Every settlement has a market, a granary, and at least one religious building, be it a synagogue, pagan temple, or henotheistic complex. For water, villages have wells, while towns and cities usually have fountains, with the water coming in clay pipes from the nearest water source. Local craftsmen are also common and specialize in various crafts, as described above. As for education, schools are only found in those settlements large enough to support them, which excludes all but the largest villages; the country’s nine universities are located in the largest cities. In towns and cities, markets tend to be larger, as people travel from the nearby villages to trade there. Restaurants and inns are common in such settlements, and cities also feature theaters and libraries. For health care, villages may occasionally have a local doctor or two, but they are more easily found in towns, and cities often have hospitals as well. Government offices are also only found in larger settlements. The neighborhoods and districts of large cities are arranged in a similar fashion.
As most of it is a private space, the typical home, be it an apartment or free-standing house, is laid out so as to limit access to those spaces where visitors are not welcome. In a standard one-story house or apartment unit, one first walks into the common room, where the family meets, engages in social activities, and welcomes guests; houses may have a small foyer between this room and the front door. The dining room and kitchen may or may not be separated from each other or the common room, depending on the overall size of the home; if they are part of the same room, they are distinguished from each other by their unique pieces of furniture, with the dining table and reclining couches identifying the dining room, and the stove and preparation table distinguishing the kitchen. A large bathroom lies beyond the kitchen, often at the rear of the home, containing a small bathing pool in the center of the room and a toilet in an enclosed enclave; this is emptied by leaving a full waste-pot outside a door that only family members can open at the back of the home. Access to a private or apartment-wide garden is provided through doors which open from the common room (and often the dining room, in those homes that have these spaces separated); every garden features a fountain from which to collect drinking water. Bedrooms are either on the other side of the garden or on an upper floor; beds may also be located in elevated alcoves in the bathroom and/or kitchen. When in their own rooms, beds are located in small, private niches.
Home size tends to increase with family wealth. In poorer homes, which are mostly apartments, the common room is frequently merged with the dining room and kitchen, with only bed alcoves. Wealthy families’ villas, meanwhile, keep all these spaces separated, and often have extra rooms, such as a chapel, study, or guest bedrooms; most wealthy homes also have foyers of various sizes. Wealthy apartments are unusual, but quite spacious, with enclosed entries and large common gardens. Isolated farm houses often have attached stalls for animals, although barns are separate structures.
The pinnacle of the Republic’s achievements is, quite naturally, the capital at Ánhrush City. Home to a quarter of a million people spread across 5.4 square miles, it is the largest city in the known world, and arguably also the safest. It is where the Republic was founded almost four millennia ago; in fact, the Ánhrushite year-numbering system uses the year of the city’s founding as its zero-year. As its chief defense, the city is surrounded by huge walls that have been expanded whenever the city has run out of room; however, a recent change in the law will allow future development to occur without wall expansion. These walls are 88 feet thick at their base and the same height, tapering to a top thickness of 66 feet. A series of regularly-spaced towers and four fortresses allow the defensive garrisons to completely man the wall quickly whenever necessary. There is also a large citadel within the city, which was built by one of the emperors, where citizens can gather for protection.
The city has been organized at many levels for centuries. While the oldest neighborhoods lack any organized plan, the more recently-developed areas feature streets arranged in geometric patterns or grids. Additionally, the city is divided into 21 administrative districts, with the district forum often surrounded by local service buildings and markets. Theaters and other entertainment structures are often in their own areas of the city, though some are near forums and markets. Especially large buildings such as hospitals and libraries serve areas larger than a single district and are therefore fewer in number. Each district, however, contains a bath-house, a police station, a fire brigade office, an administrative office, at least one school (often two), and several synagogues (except near the Great Temple of Yávé, which serves as a meeting place for thousands of Yavites). Most districts also have markets and entertainment areas.
Ánhrush City is home to a number of notable structures. Most important to the Republic is the round Senate House, with its massive dome and grand marble porticoes, on the Great Republican Forum. Many government buildings are located on or near this forum, as well as across the Canal if the Republic from the Senate House. Also on the forum are the National Library and the administrative offices of the city’s university, which has been educating Ánhrushites and foreign students alike since the early years of the Republic. Between these two edifices is the Central Synagogue of the Order of the Scales, with an adjacent monastery of the same order. Between a side street and the canal is the massive Gomai family house, where the famous founding family of the city has lived for centuries. The seven colleges of the University and their classrooms are spread out across the two islands formed by the city’s canals, which were dug out by the Gomais and other founding families before the city was incorporated. Across the canal, along Senate Avenue, is a long stretch of embassies, with the apartments of the Foreign Quarter behind them. The aforementioned temple sits on a rocky bluff called Vision Hill, on City Island, which is separated from Council Island (home of the Senate House) by the Gomai Canal; the main Yavite seminary and high religious court are at the base of the hill, along with the Ritual Bath-House. Not far from them is the City Forum with the opposing City Hall and City Courthouse in matching archaic architecture; the Blue College of the university is also located on this forum. Many theaters and two museums make these two islands the center of national culture.
Farther away from the city center are the Triangle Markets, at the center of the largest shopping district in the city. The Central Baths sit nearby, where the Republic and City Canals meet. Across from the markets is the Great Circuit, home to many chariot races. Farther up this canal is Long Pool, which is the city’s western harbor; shallow-draft barges moor here after traveling south along the shipping canal that enters the other end of the pool. Beyond the embassies is the massive New Arena, which was built in recent centuries to replace the Old Arena closer to the center of town. At the other end of the city is the Great Spring, after which the city and country are named; periodic floods from the spring prompted the ancients to dig the canals in the first place. It is surrounded by the city’s nature preserve and botanical garden, which is home to a large number of desert cedars. Next to this park is the former imperial palace, which has been converted into a museum. The emperors ordered the layout of a series of avenues radiating from their palace to emphasize its (and their) importance, and one avenue passes the city’s largest bath-house complex, also built by an emperor. The most easterly series of monuments is the new National Athletic Center, which boasts three stadiums dedicated to different sports, a large gymnasium, two theaters and a bath-house.
A wide variety of weapons exists for use by the Republic’s soldiers. Infantrymen are trained in the use of both short and long swords, depending on the battle situation they are in, and some troops wield tomahawks, some of which are thrown across short distances; they all defend themselves with small, lightweight shields that they can position wherever an enemy blow is likely. Soldiers in formation stand behind a two-tiered array of pikemen, in similar fashion to a Greek phalanx; these defend themselves and the infantry behind them with broad, curved shields placed close together. Native archers shooting with compound bows line up at the rear of the formation beside Saruan volunteer longbowmen, renowned for their deadly accuracy and efficiency; their only defense is their tightly-wrapped silk armor and distinctive crested helmets. Cavalry ride on both horses and camels, the latter being most common in the desert and highlands; they normally wield long swords or pikes and ride in stirrups. All Ánhrushite soldiers wear imported Saruan silk armor, chain mail, greaves, and helmets featuring the cast head and wings of the zhgáxám, a multi-colored desert raptor that is also the Republic’s national bird.
While Ánhrush has several large port cities and an increasing eye towards maritime trade and overseas colonies, there is little in the way of a naval tradition, due largely to the country’s inland origins. Most boats, like the aforementioned silk armor, are imported from Sāru, which has a rich maritime tradition stretching back over 3000 years. The current royal administration there is very friendly toward Ánhrush, and while a formal alliance has yet to be written, there is much civilian and military technology shared between the two powers as part of their trading relations. In recent decades, Saruan shipwrights have traveled to the Republic’s ports to aid in the construction of native warships and long-range galleons; modern designs are very efficient, with a typical top speed exceeding 12 knots and capacity of hundreds of passengers, be they colonists or marines.
All Ánhrushite young men over 18 are required to undergo military training sessions, beginning the winter after they complete secondary education (graduation from schools occurs shortly before the winter solstice) and lasting until they either complete their university studies or enter the military or priesthood. Priests and monks are exempt from military service, although some serve as division chaplains. If a man chooses to make a career out of the military, he spends six months in formal training, which includes training on one or two weapons, defensive and offensive individual tactics, and martial arts. Such professional soldiers spend one year on active duty during peacetime, followed by a three-month furlough; wartime duty periods last as long as necessary, with periodic leaves of absence granted. In wartime, as many men are drafted as needed and put into accelerated training.
Numerous opportunities exist for advancement above the simple soldier level due to the army’s command structure. At every level where multiple soldiers or military divisions are bound together, one man oversees the combination. All of the officers under a commander at the next-highest level meet with him to determine strategy and receive orders in a senate-style meeting, where officers vote on matters, with the senior officer holding more votes than each individual junior officer. At the topmost level of the army, the First General presides over the entire army, meeting with the generals who each command one of the 42 legions into which the army is divided. Each general holds council in turn with his twelve colonels, who each lead one of a legion’s divisions. They hold authority over six centurions each, who themselves meet with the six captains of their centuries’ cohorts. Each cohort contains 24 soldiers, excluding the officers, so that a single legion contains 10,364 common soldiers and 517 officers in total.
Besides open battles, the Republic’s armies are also well-equipped to besiege cities. In a typical legion, at least six centuries are specialized in operating the rams, ballistae and trebuchets that make up the artillery of the army. Military engineers can design and build earthen ramps and large towers in the field to allow soldiers to climb over defensive walls. Once inside a city, troops know how to fight in close quarters and can raze buildings if so ordered. To keep all this from happening to their own cities, the Ánhrushites are also well-trained to defend what they have. Many cities in historically dangerous areas are surrounded by large defensive walls, with strong gates and tall towers. Defenders have the option of pouring heated liquids, often water or oil, upon any attackers, and the same weapons that soldiers use in attacks can be used to defend as well. To keep invaders from getting near the cities, there are hundreds of independent fortifications located along highways and at geographic chokepoints; such castles are generally guarded by a division or two of a legion.
© 2005, 2006 Zack Hart and the Republic of Ánhrush