The Korachani Empire
An ancient empire in an even more ancient world, Known in the Fourth Age as Korachan millennia before its disparate iron-age tribes were united by the prophet Malichar, the Korachani empire stands as the yardstick by which other nations in the Inner Sea are measured.
At the peak of its power in 3000 RM, it was the largest Fifth Age empire ever to spread across the Inner Sea. Its ruler is the most infamous and chronicled Otherworlder ever known. Its deity is the only known Demiurge to still be openly worshipped by a major power. It was an innovator of industry and technarcana and its feats of engineering were inspired by the Great Acts of Shaping, from the Bridge of Valamir, to the Bastion of Steel in Khadon. Its language is the most widely-spoken in all of Elyden thanks to its colonisation of Eastern Meniscea and Southern Sammaea.
Rich in resources, and gifted with an idyllic climate for supporting the military campaigns that characterised the expansion of its first centuries of life, the Korachan of today could not be more different. Its resources spent centuries ago, its lands rendered barren by millennia of exploitative farming and deforestation, Korachan survives today through the momentum of its past conquests. Once opulent patrician houses exist now in the crumbling ruin of their ancestral lands, spending as much effort against their rivals as they do on their own businesses and industries. Its military, once the envy of the civilised world, has abandoned its elite vat-born clones in favour of cheaper, more-numerous, mortal troops with mundane equipment.
Yet still the Korachani empire maintains its bitter grip over the Inner Sea, while looking longingly to its golden past, as its rivals - The Republic of Almagest to the North, the Reformed Empire of Sarastro to the south East, and the Secular Republic Parthis to the south-west - consolidate their positions around the Inner Sea.
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the Koracha Civilization
From a Neolithic background centred around a fertility cult that was prevalent for close to a thousand years, the people of proto-Korachan, known as the Koracha, discovered iron as far back as c. –700 RM. The Koracha people were skilled craftsmen, already adept at creating alloys such as brass and working them into tools, weapons and jewellery, and their discovery of iron came centuries before neighbouring people. As a contrast, take the disparate city-states of the Pelasgosi peninsula and its western archipelago: its people lived in extended familial groups with little other ties. In C. –500 RM, when Koracha was already familiar with iron; mining it, the process behind smelting it and working it (though not yet working it into steel, which would develop some time later), the people of Pelasgos and other surrounding lands were still in a bronze age culture.
The early development of iron gave the Koracha people many advantages: stronger weapons, better tools, the basis for a more efficient agricultural system and development of religious beliefs, granting it a stable foundation from which it could rise from many different tribes into a true nation. Moving elsewhere, it is perhaps no small coincidence that around this time, the phenomenon called
‘the Shadow in the Desert’ was growing more prominent in Kharkharadontis, showing a bulging in the strength of the Atramenta, boosting an already burgeoning mystical tradition in the Korachani peninsula, which would lead to the growth of the Cheiroahim, immigrant shapers who would, by the time of Malichar’s birth become rulers of the Korachani states.
Wealthy and strengthened by trade along the Northern coast if the Inner Sea, the Koracha people grew powerful. Societies grew around a caste of powerful merchant-lords who built coastal strongholds around which people gravitated, becoming by c. –300 RM the seven states of the Korachani peninsula - Bachan, Caldera, Goradach, Palun, Khadon, Makhara, and Zephanichan.
The rise of the merchant-lords led to the emergence of a duotheistic religion that rapidly became the only common-ground for the increasingly belligerent states, which commonly faced each other in skirmishes for territory and rights over trade-routes. Already, the resource-stripping that would characterise the later Korachani Empire was beginning to be felt, with the plentiful natural resources across the peninsula allowing for the rapid growth of the seven states.
As neighbouring civilisations grew, so too did the power of Koracha people. But, with trade came the inevitability of dilution – many of their secrets were disseminated throughout Llachatul and Northern Sammaea. To the North, the three great city-states of Almagest; to the West, the state of Aglaia (later capital of Azazem); in the East, Judiciary-age Pelasgos; and farther East, Xanthos in Nárthel, all grew in power over the next hundred years, rivalling the reach of Koracha.
The Odyssey of Malichar
It was to this world of tension and trade that Malichar was born, in –41 RM, the son of a merchant-prince; one of three siblings, whose father (Malichar’s grandfather) was a powerful merchant-lord in the state of Khadon.
Being form the mercantile class it is easy to postulate his upbringing: Malichar was almost certainly well-schooled, literate (when most of the population was not), of relative wealth, and was, through his bloodline, in control of a mercantile warehouse or, more likely considering future events, in command of a transport ship owned by his family. Both roles were administrative, charged with keeping ledgers updated and inventory stocked, though the latter had a far more hands-on approach, and the tenured captains often lived dangerous lives, defending ships from pirates and other threats.
In his eighteenth year (–23 RM) the ship aboard which Malichar was sailing was shipwrecked on the isle of Maleth, in the middle of the Inner Sea. The island features little in the history of the region, for it is largely barren, with no resources, its people likely descended from tribesmen of past ages, advanced little beyond a small Neolithic cult. Despite its lack of impact on culture, it plays an extremely important role in both mythohistory and the future political shape of the Inner Sea, for it is where the collected visions of the Demiurges Dopellanich and Achaia reposed, in the form of the Scripture of Shadow – a book prophesizing the reunification of a people who, eons past had been divided by the Demiurge Talantehut into seven nations. Originally referring to the tribe of the Demiurge Rachanael (he plagi), it was believed that the prophecy pointed to one who would help reunite and lead the plagi.
Shipwrecked, Malichar found that he was alone. Without hope of rescue, he wandered the small island, finding a Neolithic temple in which was buried the Scripture of Shadows, guarded by a cadre of mystics, who saw him as a being capable of fulfilling the prophecy, in which he saw the seven states of Korachan, and not an ancient mortal tribe. Thus were set into place events that would change the future of Elyden.
Slavers landed on the island, rounding up what few natives lived there, and slaying the mystics, leaving the place deserted. Amongst those taken was Malichar, who silently beckoned capture as a means of fulfilling his future. Taken to Vaalk, he was sold as a slave, then six years later a gladiator. Over the next ten years he carved out a successful career in the arena, slaying a great beast in –7 RM, and later escaping in a revolt of his devising, slaying his owners. He escaped and begun the road back to Korachan, forsaking the deities of Life and Death, his sleep filled with images of another entity, one he could not name or place.
In the wilderness of Vaalk he found the sword Tartaruch, which he carried until his mortal death in 133 RM and again following his rebirth as an otherworlder. in when the otherworlder Neaishia appeared to him, foretelling of great wars that would, in the settling of their dust, unite the tribes of the Inner Sea under one banner; that of his house.
He successfully made his way back to Korachan, where his rebirth as Archpotentate would begin.