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AZCANS (Empire of the)

Location: Northwest Iciria, east of the Northern Atlass Ocean, north of the World Spine Mountains, west of the Malpheggi Swamps. HW

Area: 728,847 sq. mi. (1,887,715 sq. km.). This does not reflect the severe loss of lands to the Schattenalfen, which the Azcans refuse to acknowledge.

Population: 3,000,000 including Chitlacan (pop. 200,000, including 10,000 nobles and 30,000 commoners on the island part), Huitlaktima (pop. 45,000), innumerable towns and villages.

Languages: Oltec, Neathar.

Coinage: None (barter only).

Taxes: Corvée labour and levies of in-kind produce.

Government Type: Theocratic monarchy.

Industries: Agriculture, especially beans, corn, and peppers.

Important Figures: Otziltipac (Tlatoani), Malinalxoch (Ometochtzin).

Flora and Fauna: Predominantly what is found in tropical and sub-tropical rainforest; dinosaurs, monkeys, swine, snakes (including the Azcan winged viper and feathered serpent), tropical birds of many varieties, and great cats (especially the jaguar).

Further Reading: Hollow World boxed set, HWR 1 Sons of Azca, previous almanacs.

Description by Theukidikies the Historian of Corisa.

The Azcans live amid a sun-lit tropical rainforest, practicing their bloody rites.

The Land

The lands of the Azcans are flat and wet, and covered in jungle. Indeed, it rains every sleep here, at least once, with unbreakable regularity. The air is warm and damp, the land overgrown with underbrush. The forests are lighter on the fringes of the Azcan Empire, and in the southeast it grows boggy, becoming the Malpheggi Swamp. The country is crisscrossed with an elaborate network of rivers and canals, which the Azcans use to travel and transport goods in canoes and rafts, the more so as they refuse to use the wheel. The wetness of the land also makes it very fertile. Indeed, the farm plots of the Azcans sometimes seem to be like floating gardens. Many dinosaurs prowl the jungles, as do cats such as jaguars and ocelots, which are held in high regard by the Azcans as totem creatures.

The People

The Azcans are a copper-skinned people with coal-dark eyes and hair, prominent noses and high cheekbones. They are short, but strong and fierce. They wear their hair long, but the men have no beards. They favour the wearing of headbands, and dress in linen garments. The wealthy also wear ocelot fur and large amounts of gold jewellery with jade, obsidian, and turquoise gems, and sometimes brilliant emeralds.

The Azcan people are ruled by a king known as the tlatoani, or speaker, a priest-king like the Nithian Pharaoh who rules with absolute power over the people through a vast and exacting bureaucracy and hierarchy of nobles. They administer the Azcan people with more minute exactitude than even the Nithians are ruled under. The tlatoani nominates judges to adjudicate disputes. Their justice is swift and harsh, with many of the convicted sentenced to be sacrificed to their Immortals.

The Azcan Empire is organized along military lines, with a large and active army. From the day of their birth, Azcan men are devoted to the arts of war. They begin their formal training at the age of six or seven and serve at least until young adulthood, when, if they prove unsuccessful at war, they are expelled from the army, and only those who continue to excel in combat are kept in service. The most successful of these rise to become leaders and officers, and the best of all join one of the three fearsome military orders, the Jaguar and Eagle Knights and Coatl (formerly the infamous Winged Viper). Those who are expelled are pushed into the peasantry, where they are bound over into servitude.

The Azcans have had a shockingly sudden religious upheaval. They followed the Immortal Atzanteotl from the earliest times until just last year, and their tlatoani was always a priest of Atzanteotl. But last year there was a sudden uprising and revolution, and the Azcans deposed the tlatoani and the priests of Atzanteotl, and their new tlatoani reveres Quetzalcoatl and has promoted a faith called the New Way over his people, and claim to have entered a new phase in Azcan history. The followers of the old Immortal, Atzanteotl, continue to resist this revolution in some areas. The Azcan people remain highly superstitious, consulting soothsayers before making any major decision, only now these soothsayers supposedly get their inspiration from Quetzalcoatl rather than Atzanteotl.

The Azcans are organized in a rigid hierarchy, with the common peasants at the bottom, followed by young warriors, then experienced warriors and officers, followed by members of the prestigious military orders, over whom preside nobles (the tecuhtli) and priests. Azcan villages do elect local leaders, known as a calpullec, and this is similar to the Milenian practice of democracy, but the selection of this local chief is as far as they take it. Set somewhat apart from this ordered structure are the tradesmen, the pochtecatl, who are wealthy but despised, and live with separate customs and laws, almost like a nation within a nation, though obedient to the tlatoani and his officials. The pochtecatl do not flaunt their wealth, putting on a humble atmosphere, but they are quite proud. Trade among the Azcans is in barter rather than coin, but this primitiveness is somewhat alleviated because they often use quills filled with gold dust as a means of exchange.

Don't Miss

The Azcan capital of Chitlacan is a splendid city built on an island in Lake Chitlaloc and its western shore. Over it looms the step-pyramid temples of the Azcans' Immortals and the massive palace of the tlatoani. The city has broad streets suitable for ceremonial occasions, with the streets being flagged in stone. The ceremonial buildings and dwellings of the nobility are constructed out of large stone blocks. The commoners live in humble square, one-story homes made out of hardened mud (adobe), with each containing a small courtyard open to the sun. The island portion of the city is connected to the shore by a long wooden causeway. The Azcans' lives are so regimented that if one looks upon Chitlacan from afar, they seem like white-breachclouted ants, carrying a seemingly endless stream of supplies to the city in baskets on their backs. Canoes and rafts ply the lake and the rivers leading to it as well, likewise transporting goods to the city. At the centre of Chitlacan is a large ceremonial plaza containing a calendar stone from which the Azcans measure time.