Monday, December 17, 2012

K is for Kinzassál

Records of the ancient days of the Mezzovian area are scanty and poor, meaning that many of the kingdoms, nations, tribes and peoples of long ago are poorly known, if at all.  The scientific inquiry into the past via archeology, anthropology, parahistory and prehistory is in its infancy in the Mezzovian area, compared to what it is in our own world.  But it is a fruitful area of inquiry to those of scholarly bent who aspire to learn more of such things, and while records may be poor, in some cases there are other sources of information that can be tapped by the brave or foolhardy: vampires, who's memories stretch back centuries, shades, ghosts and specters, and Outsider demons and angels or other spirits who's memory reaches into the past.  Trusting such sources is fraught with academic dangers--to say nothing of the actual physical dangers that come with inquiring for information--but occasionally academic and scholarly information worth its weight in gold comes from such lines of inquiry.

One kingdom that, relative to many others is somewhat well-known as a name, at least, if details of its history are not, is Kinzassál, a kingdom that sat north of the Mezzovian sea and east southeast of the Indash Salt Sea.  Today, this land is a wilderness, populated only by nomadic Untash barbarians, but these Untash are relative newcomers to the area.  Prior to their incursions, it was part of the Empire of Baal Hamazi, and although the badlands were thinly settled, they made up an important part of the satrapy of Pnakot or Pnakotus, the capital of the area on the shores of Lake Kidin, and still an important successor city-state of Baal Hamazi today.  But the Badlands weren't always as forbidding an environment as they are today, and there are many indications that climate change in the last millennium has dramatically changed the landscape.  Much of the land inhabited by the drylanders today was not, in fact, desert at all, but received far more rain than it does today, and it was dotted with pluvial lakes, the Indash Salt Sea being a shrunken remnant of the last of them, one that once covered all the land between the Kindattu and the Dagan mountain ranges, and much of the Shutruk Savanna as well.  These lakes were in retreat at the time of the very earliest historical records, which tell of the rise of the early balshatoi kingdoms: Rozovķa, Ryazan, Pjarmia, Pezhek, and Vuronezh.  The balshatoi kingdoms were along the northern coast of the Mezzovian Sea, and thus south of the lands that later become the Drylands.  Long before the arrival of the nomadic peoples who occupy the area today, a series of kingdoms of a completely unrelated ethnicity lived in the area, and dealt with the early balshatoi as traders, as allies, and occasionally as rivals and enemies.  The greatest of these kingdoms, and the only one who's name as come down through the ages, is Kinzassál.

The Battle of Eltdown, with much artistic license
At the time that the early balshatoi kingdoms were carving out their influence, the great kingdom of Kinzassál was already in decline, as waves of subsequent droughts depleted the shrinking pluvial lakes that made up their homeland, and the area become increasingly xeric.  This set in motion a great deal of unrest within Kinzassál, which brought them into conflict with the balshatoi kingdoms, especially Ryazan, which was located directly to its south and beyond the forests.  In those days, there was no gap between the Shifting and Haunted Forests, which were not known by those names, nor did they have the evil reputation that they gained in years since.  Legend has it, in fact, that many of the changelings that gave the Shifting Forest its name were originally Kinzassian peoples displaced and cursed by the droughts and associations with werewolves of the forest.  The Kinzassians contested right of passage though the area with the expanding influence of Ryazan, since settlers related to and subject to the king in Volék Szemennok, the capital city of Kinzassál, already lived to the east of Ryazan, in lands that later became Tarush Noptii.  It seems likely that the Tarushans today were related ethnically and culturally with the Kinzassians.  Some scholars even posit that Tarush Noptii was little more than a colony of Kinzassian settlers, while others speculate on more complicated relationships, calling the ethnic Tarushans more like "cousins" of the Kinzassians rather than direct descendents of them.  In any case, whomever the peoples were who lived in Tarush Noptii at the time, they recognized the authority and sovereingty of the Kinzassians, which put them at odds with Ryazan, and later with Pezhek, when it inherited Ryazan via dynastic union.  The borderlands of Ryazan to both the north and the east were unsettled and uneasy for many generations, although open warfare was rare.  Only the pitched battle at a location very close to the present day sleepy village of Eltdown is known to historians, while otherwise border skirmishes and diplomatic wrangling appear to have characterized much of the relationship between these kingdoms.

On the night that has retroactively been labeled "The Falling of the Star of Doom" the fate of Kinzassál appears to have been sealed.  A great sign and omen in the heavens was the falling of Tæriruuş, the Death-god from the sky.  The language which rendered his name is unknown, but he was eventually called simply Tarush, and is immortalized in name with the kingdom of Tarush Noptii.  Twenty great champions of Kinzassál traveled to the place where the the god fell, and by their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the ancient Witch-lord retainers they brought with them, Tarush was contained for all time beneath the surface of the earth, and eventually the capital city of Tarush Noptii itself was built over the spot where that triumph was realized.

This ancient sorcery and the legendary battles of the Twenty with the servants and creatures of Tarush ruined the land of Tarush Noptii for generations, though.  Ryazan and Pezhek turned its face from the land and contested it no more, and it took many centuries before the native population regrew to a sustainable level.  The loss of this territory devastated Kinzassál, however, which was still suffering from a climatic crisis that continued to worsen.  At the same time, barbarians--the most ancient ancestors of the drylanders and the tribesmen of today--had made their way on the now dried corridors between the mountains and the Salt Sea.  These nomadic peoples had an economy that was better positioned to take advantage of the drying conditions, by following nomadic herds of bison, pronghorns, or feral longhorn cattle, who spread across the dry savannas as the woodlands retreated following many years of drought and drying.  These barbarians fell upon the weakened Kinzassians until they met the balshatoi, who were now ranging up through the forests to the borderlands of the savanas and badlands itself.  By the time the two people first contacted each other, though, Kinzassál was largely a depopulated wasteland, and its few remaining inhabitants were absorbed completely into one of those two successor populations, leaving behind little evidence of their existence.

The ancient capital of Volék Szemennok's location is unknown, and its ruins are undiscovered, at least by Terrasan or Hamazin scholars.  Such a find would be a great treasure trove of knowledge, as it is believed that extensive archives of historical and arcane knowledge were lost with the city.  Some believe that the vampires of Tarush Noptii, as the sole remaining heirs of the Kinzassian people, know its location and have long ago looted it, or perhaps haunted its ruins, hoarding it for themselves, but this is only idle speculation.  In truth, very little of Kinzassál is really known, other than the legend of "The Falling of the Star of Doom" and the foundation of the current nation of Tarush Noptii as a splinter of sorts from Kinzassian sources.

No comments: