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Esterhold (Republic of)

Location: Peninsula west of the Jennite lands, north of Minaea, Continent of Skothar.

Area: Approximately 1,000,000 sq. mi. (2,590,000 sq. km.) are claimed, including Blackrock 100,000 sq. mi. (259,000 sq. km.) and Verdan 126,000 sq. mi. (326,340 sq. km.); the rest is mainly wilderness with scattered settlements on the southern coast.

Population: 230,000 including Blackrock (60,000), Verdan (150,000), Port Marlin (10,000), Rock Harbour (5,000), and Anchorage (5,000). Cities include Skyfyr (pop. 15,000) in Blackrock and Faraway (pop. 35,000) in Verdan. An unknown number of "free" Jennites also live on the peninsula.

Languages: Alphatian, Jennite.

Coinage: Crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).

Taxes: 15% income tax on everyone of servant status or higher and an import tax of 1% (NACE kingdoms and Karameikos excluded). 10% goes to the imperial treasury.

Government Type: Monarchy with developing democratic institutions; a member of the NACE. Free Jennite clans living on the central plateau follow their own chieftains.

Industries: Light agriculture (Blackrock); military (Verdan); herding, hunting (free Jennites); fishing, logging (south coast communities). Mining was once (and probably will be again) the chief industry of Blackrock and Verdan but recent unrest and social upheavals has disrupted this for now.

Important Figures: Favian Vern (President, human, male, P15 of Razud); Talin (Self-designated Leader of Jennite Resistance, human, male, F6); Tristilia (Governor of Verdan, human, female, M20).

Flora and Fauna: Scrub bushes, tough grasses, two-humped camels, wild asses, horses, gazelles, antelopes in the uplands; humanoids scattered in the broken hills and mountainous areas. Taiga along the southern coast has deciduous and evergreen forests, moose, elk, bears, wolves, mountain lions and some deer as well as orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres, ettercaps, and especially rabbits, all of which are prey for the feared and legendary Esterhold Devil.

Further Reading: Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.

Description by Vivianna Romanones (from a report to Emperor Eusebius leaked to Joshuan Gallidox Publishing).

The Esterhold is a large but infertile peninsula jutting into the Alphatian Sea; growing even modest crops requires backbreaking labour, which in the past needed to be forced. Esterhold was famous for its rich minerals and infamous for the harsh conditions the Jennite slaves were forced to endure in mining them. Of late it is known for the social unrest caused by several years of rebellion and warfare followed by the granting of freedom to all Jennite slaves. Favian Vern, appointed King of Esterhold by the NACE Council in 1013, has announced his intention to mould Esterhold into a republic with democratic institutions. It is not sure whether he will risk his own office by making it elective or emulate the Thyatian system, where the emperor (in this case, king) is insulated from the electoral process to maintain continuity of government. Furthermore, a significant number of Jennites are against any continued Alphatian presence in the region. The unrest they caused last year forced Vern to put all elections on hold indefinitely.

In addition, when Vern suddenly freed all the Jennites, he did not take into account the disruption this would cause. Jennites hate labouring in the mines, and find working on the (Alphatian-owned) plantations of Esterhold only slightly less abhorrent. Though many, if only because they need to work in order to eat, have accepted jobs working for their former masters, they usually demand high salaries. Furthermore, they can no longer be whipped into being productive and many barely work at all (and get angered if their employers complain of their lack of effort, claiming such employers are trying to turn them into "wage slaves" or some such).

Also, even the more enlightened Alphatian inhabitants of Esterhold have found the new arrangement somewhat unsettling. Though broadly supportive of Vern's goals, they were not aware of the extent to which their lifestyle depended on forced (if better treated) Jennite labour. The days of living in luxury and being waited on hand and foot by Jennites who were happy to have a relatively kind master are over. Faced with Jennites who think they should be treated as equals, even the liberal-minded Alphatians of Esterhold sometimes think that insolence among the servant classes (meaning, in Esterhold, the Jennites) needs to be curbed. In retrospect it might have been better if Vern had phased out slavery over a period of time instead of ending it instantly; but we must also remember the conditions under which he made his choice. Had he tried to keep slavery, even in part, even for a short time, the revolts that led to Vern's rise to power would have restarted (see below).

But these social frictions, though probably a long-lasting problem, are the least of Esterhold's difficulties. As mentioned, a large number of Jennites hate the Alphatians for what that empire did to them for a thousand years. They want complete freedom, not the freedom under Alphatian domination that Vern offers. This resistance movement is focused around a Jennite named Talin, a self-styled freedom fighter. If anything, the situation in Esterhold is reminiscent of the conditions your Thyatian ancestors were in when they threw off the yoke of Alphatia a millennium ago. Though we are, at the present, at peace with the NACE, we should recognise our spiritual kinship with the Jennites. And if at some point it becomes necessary, the Jennite resistance would no doubt welcome aid and support.

However, we must also take into consideration that Vern's reforms, emulating as they do our own system of government, may be the best way to encourage the spread of internal change within the NACE and evolve it into a less despotic society. If this happens, then in the long run the Alphatians will be less of a threat to their neighbours. For now I advise that we take a wait and see approach, even if it means not intervening on the side of the Jennite freedom fighters.