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Azcan Empire

Location: Hollow World, continent of Iciria, northern hemisphere, western coast.
Area: Unknown. Estimated to be between 500,000 and 900,000 sq. mi.
Population: Estimated to be approximately 3,000,000.
Languages: Oltec (Azcan dialect), Neathar.
Coinage: None (barter only).
Taxes: Forced military or other duties.
Government Type: Theocracy, with the King being a priest of Atzanteotl.
Industries: Agriculture (beans, corn, peppers).
Important Figures: King/Emperor Azcotica (human, male, Pr12 of Atzanteotl).
Flora and Fauna: Dinosaurs, monkeys, swine, snakes (including the Azcan feathered viper), and great cats (especially the jaguar).
Description: by Claransa the Seer, during her visit in AC 1005. Note that only parts deemed important for you the reader were taken, and sections have been edited, deleted, and even rearranged from their previous order for brevity and/or clarity. If you would like to read more, I recommend purchasing a copy of "Claransa's Travels."

"As I travel through the lush jungle, I cannot help but imagine what these people must look like. I have heard many descriptions from the Neathar about the short, dark, burly humans called Azcans, and most of them seem to indicate that they are extremely savage and brutal, even to their own people and the land they live upon.

Still, at the moment, my main concern should be to get there alive. Right now, the jungle I am crossing is filled with various large reptiles, most of which could easily kill me by merely stepping upon me."

The Land

"This is my fourth day in this jungle, and nothing has changed very much. The area seems very flat, without any significant hills or mountain. Luckily, the vine-covered trees do not block the reddish sunlight from the stationary star above, preventing me from getting lost in the underbrush."

"It also rains every day or two, making the climate very warm and humid. Fortunately for the Azcans, this allows them to cultivate maize and vegetables from the very poor soils cleared from the jungle by their slash and burn techniques."

"The most northern part of the nation reaches far enough in latitude to include temperate forest. Here, the Azcans are fortunate enough to have rich soils and can harvest more than enough for their northern cities to thrive and even export food."

"Here in the foothills of the World Spine, the southern border of the so-called Azcan Empire draws near. I find it only fitting that my journey through their nation finishes with a complete change in scenery as well as nation. The mountains are tall, the terrain rocky and jagged. Yet, despite the climate change, the Azcans are still present. In this area also claimed by the Schattenalfen elves, the Azcans maintain several gold mines, as well as mines for other precious metals. Considering that they use this gold only for jewellery, since they do not possess any coinage or currency, I find that this only tops the list of the things they do for pride and personal prestige. To risk war with an enemy so close just to be able to wear more jewellery is suicidal. Then again, the Azcans are nothing if not fatalistic."

The People

"The Azcans are a savage and cruel bunch. I see now that this reputation, spoken so much about by the various peoples of the Hollow World, is well deserved. This race participates fully and whole-heartedly in human sacrifices to their Immortal Atzanteotl. In fact, just as often as not, the victims are volunteers who believe that such a sacrifice will guarantee them a great place in the afterlife."

"The Azcans enjoy a game called Tlachtli, where commoners and slaves are forced to play. The game consists of getting a ball through a hoop at the other end of the field, and players are allowed to use any means necessary, and I do mean ANY means. Fatalities are not unknown, as the players play for keeps since the losing team is usually sacrificed to Atzanteotl."

"They seem to have a very strict and detailed hierarchy within their society, yet at the same time, anyone of any social class can rise from the lowest to the highest, or vice versa, rather easily. This has mainly to do with combat and fighting prowess, which is in high regard by all Azcans. Another sure-fire way to gain prestige is to join the ranks of the priests of Atzanteotl."

"Most of the commoners wear breechlouts, or a short tunic-like dress for the females. Sandals are very rare, unless in a rocky region. Such simple clothing is permissible because their climate requires nothing more from them to survive. Many also like to wear headbands. Colours are simple; almost everyone wears an off-white cloth. It seems to do otherwise is a signal of rank. Bright colours, such as red and turquoise are a sure sign of nobility. The nobles also wear excessive decorations, such as furs, gold, silver, exotic feathers, and the like."

"The goal of every Azcan, besides attaining personal wealth and glory, is to fulfil the Azcan dream. This is, of course, nothing short of world domination."

"And nothing gets in their way. The current King, Azcotica, received the crown upon assassinating his father Moctaplan and his older brother Tenpocatliotl just a few months ago. There is no proof of such deeds, but everyone seems to know it. The fact that the Azcans can follow such a ruler despite knowing what he has done goes a long way to show what cruelty they can tolerate."

Don't Miss

(The editors of the Almanac would recommend missing the entire Azcan Empire at all cost. It seems that they sacrifice almost all visitors to their nation for the glory of Atzanteotl. Claransa was only able to visit because her magic enabled her to pass as one of them, thereby eliminating most potential problems. Still if one insists on going, the following extracts seem to indicate a few things worth seeing. Ed.)

"Finally, there I was, but a few more minutes from Chitlacan, the capital of the Azcan Empire."

"The largest and most impressive building (in Chitlacan. Ed.) is a stepped pyramid dedicated to Atzanteotl. This is where the daily sacrifices to Atzanteotl take place. The building must be at least 200' tall and probably twice as long along the base. At the top is the actual shrine to their Immortal which contains the sacrificial altar and basin. I would love to get a closer look, but there are several squads of Azcan warriors guarding every possible access to the pyramid."

"I must say, I enjoyed watching this game of Tlachtli. The eagerness and desire to win by all players makes it a very exciting game without any dull moments or stops in activity. The huge Tlachtli court is also a sight to see, capable of holding several hundred spectators, as well as the occasional visit from the King himself and his court." (Ed. Note: This was her opinion of the game before learning what happened to the losers.)