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The Olgarian Levtja

by Christian Constantin

Location: Continent of Brun, in the Converted Lands at the southwest of the Dark Wood and Hule. (For a map of Olgar)
Area: About 42 500 sq. mi.
Population: 55, 000 humans (45% Traladaran, 40% Bulzanian, 15%) plus some elves.
Language: Olgarian, Hulean, and Bulzanian.
Coinage: Hulean coins.

Government Type: Hulean protectorate. Formerly a feudal monarchy, the levtja is now headed by Hule's governor to whom the feudals owe allegiance. Traditionally the Church of Traladara has a strong influence over the course of politics in Olgar.

Industries: Agriculture (wheat, barley, vegetables), Animal rearing, religious artwork

Important Figures: Durul Özergan (C18, of Bozdogan), governor of the Hagiarchy in Olgar; Dimitur Yotov (C22, of Halav), head of the Church of Traladara in Olgar (currently held hostage by the Hulean administration); Rahil Venevanova (F15), Viscountess of Ossamva; Toder "The Traitor" Ginchev (T16), Viscount of Bartsja.

Description: The Olgarian Levtja or Olgar is situated in a region of plains and rolling hills dotted with small patch of temperate forest and rivers. The major part of the population is located along the three main rivers and in the plain between the Sarja and Rositska rivers. The Eastern part of the country is more forested than the western part, which tend to be more arid and hillier. The boundaries of this country are made somewhat by the natural features of the region: to the west Olgar extends to the Lotev Hills and the Yazak Steppes, the Dark Wood forms the eastern frontier and the south one is made mostly by the Syoutja Hills. The Olgarian climate is temperate but dry and marked with four clearly distinguishable seasons. In winter the northwestern cold winds blow from the heartland of Brun bringing with them some snow or cold rain. In spring and fall the climate is somewhat drier as the western winds cross the vast expenses of the Yazak Steppes, however, it is not unusual that those seasons bring heavy showers coming from the Western Sea of Dread. Summer is hot and dry, with sparse rain.

The population of this country is made up of three main ethnic groups that came in the region at different epochs. The first settlers were the Bulzanian, they were the descent of the surviving Yazaks of the cities destroyed by the beastmen invasion and of the heavy telluric activity that took place in 1700BC. They settled mainly along the eastern rivers and in the northern part of current Olgar, but the largest group of them decided to continue their migration toward the north where the dense forest would hide them from the beastmen. The second group was made of a first wave of Hulean colonists. They came in the southeastern part of the country during the era of the second Hulean Empire (300BC-300AC) as the then Overking of Hule was eager to reinforce his control over the southwestern border of the Empire and to keep his humanoids allies of the Yazak Steppes out of the region. The third group came from far in the east; they were led by a group of religious radicals from Traladara looking for a place to build a new golden age (see history). Their religious zeal and ideals were highly respected by the locals who slowly adopted both religious and cultural customs. Now, even though most of them are of mixed blood, this group forms the biggest part of the population. Finally, a smaller fourth group was form by a new wave of Hulean population brought into the country by the Master's decision to give the region known as the Janizary Lands to the humanoids at his service. But, since most of them are now part of the military and administrative structures of the Master's empire they aren't that much integrated in the Olgarian society and are regarded as invaders even by the older Hulean population.

If the Olgarian levtja is currently a Hulean protectorate it still retained most of the traditional institution and customs of the Olgarian society. Politically, Olgar is organised by a feudal system in which the feudal must swear allegiance to the king (currently to the Master represented by his governor). Historically, the Church hierarchy chose the king among the feudals or the king's family, now the governor is simply dispatched by the Master. Durul Özergan, the current governor, is a pure product of the Hagiarchy's administration and was nominated in 983AC to put an end to the religious troubles undermining the Hulean control over the region. Since then he has done all that is in his power to break the Church of Traladara, in so doing he was responsible for the destruction of the Cathedral of Zotchevo (the holiest site in the country) a move that forced the Church to become clandestine. Although, under the Hulean rule titles are hereditary (to ensure the loyalty of the Olgarian rulers), the titles of the vassals are normally given by the Church or the king to reflect the devotion or the loyalty of the fiefs' rulers. New fiefs may also be given from the royal lands to a particularly brave or loyal subject, the Hulean administration has refrain to use this power since their first attempt to grant a new fief to a loyal Hulean (Viscounty of Bratsja) triggered a period of social unrest in 832.

The Traladaran customs are now well integrated by most of the population regardless of their origins. The Shearing Ceremony (in which a young adult is forced to prove their aptitude to survive independently from the family by quitting it for a year) is common in both Traladaran and Bulzanian, but less so in the Hulean families of the first wave. The traditional Traladaran social classes (freemen, Lord/Lady of the court, knight, noble (with a fief), king) have mostly replaced the old Bulzanian castes and the Hulean religion-based hierarchy. However the Hulean administration and military are considered as a distinct class higher in the social hierarchy than the rest of the population. Divination and palm reading are widespread and specialists in those disciplines are highly esteemed.

The majority of the Olgarians live in numerous of small rural communities made of adobe or mud bricks and protected by a wooden wall. The custom is that the agricultural production of the village is put in common and shared to meet the needs of the different families. Taxes are taken on the village total production and given to the local lord (if in a fief) or directly to the state treasury (if in the royal lands). Surpluses are usually sold to travelling merchants who bring them to the country's major markets of Kulnovo and Irdzhygrad.

History: The modern history of Olgar begins with the arrival of Zhan Olgar in Slagovich in 442AC. He had to quit the far region of Traladara because of his extreme religious believes. It is said that he received an omen from Halav himself telling him to go to the West where the Golden Age of the Traladaran was supposed to happen. He was forced in exile because his preaching were taking the young Traladaran far from the original faith of quiet hope in the new Golden Age to come. When he arrived in Slagovich, he saw that the first wave of Traladaran colonists were suffering harsh conditions and that this region was to desolated for a new Golden Age to happen. So he and a couple hundred of followers began the Grand Move toward the western lands where he thought his visions were leading him.

In 454AC, after six years of a long journey across the western coast of the Gulf of Hule and along the Great Escarpment's edge, the pilgrims arrived in a Bulzanian village near present day Kulnovo. Extenuated by the long journey they've asked the local inhabitants for some food and the permission to build a camp near their village. They've accepted but asked, in exchange, that the warriors protecting the pilgrim helped them in fighting a group of goblins from the Yazak Steppes. Olgar took this invitation as a sign from the immortals that his journey was near the end and that the beastmen of the region had to be eliminated for the new Golden Age to come. When the goblins were defeated, Olgar told the Bulzanian leader the prophecy of the Western Golden Age and invited the Bulzanian to participate to the foundation of the perfect society that would be the Golden Age. Charmed by the loose principles of the Church of Traladara and the hope of a smiling future the local Bulzanians accepted that Olgar's group stays with them.

From 454AC to 512AC, more Traladarans arrived in the region and more Bulzanians from the southern province reverted to the Church of Traladara. However, as the influence of the Church was growing its precepts and the ideal of a Golden Age to come increasingly clashed with the principles of the Bulzanian pantheon and the interests of the Patriarchs and of the King of Bulzan. In 482AC, Olgar is imprisoned on accusations of heresy and subversion. He is tried and condemned to the stake. This decision proved highly divisive in the Bulzanian society because of the allegation that the rich Bulzanian clergy corrupted the king representative in the religious court. In fact, most of the secular power was happy to see a growing rivalry between the two faiths, as it would limit the power of the Patriarchs in the Bulzanian society. The king was also in favour of the arrival of new well-trained subjects ready to defend the southern border.

The divisions and conflicts between the secular and religious power in the Bulzanian society provided the opportunity for Milko Levtsky to stir an uprising of the Church of Traladara followers against the Kingdom of Bulzan. In 512AC, he is proclaimed king of Olgar, a tiny kingdom at the edge of the Yazak steppes but controlling the trade routes between Bulzan and the Savage Coast.

From 512AC to 527AC, as the military power of Bulzan is locked in the struggle between the Patriarchs and the King, punitive expeditions will be organised by the rich Bulzanian families looking for a way to restore trade. Their mercenaries (mostly made of the Bulzanian royal troops) will fail to regain control over the lost territories and, even worse, will loose the control of most of the southern province to the hands of the Church of Traladara defenders. The war ends with the failure of the Bulzanian mercenaries to defend Castle Venestiu, stronghold of the Patriarchs in the southern province.

For King Levtsky I, this victory is the sign that the Golden Age is coming over his new country. To facilitate the success of this politico-religious project he will created most of the current political structures of Olgar: the first fiefs are given to the heroes of the recent war against Bulzan and the construction of the Cathedral of Zotchevo is ordained. The following fifty years are marked with peace and prosperity with only some troubles coming from the humanoids of the Yazak or from the refugees fleeing the conflicts in Bulzan.

In 580AC, King Levtsky II invited the northern nomads who were invading Hule to sign a treaty of peace and friendship. Some of them adopted the faith of the Church of Traladara and were assimilated by the Olgarian society. Later as the reincarnation of Hosad was driving them out of the Hulean Valley, more northern nomads settled in Olgar and in the plains at the west.

In 651AC, the Master's declaration of Greatrealm transformed the sparsely populated lands at the east of Olgar into a military province of Hule. The Janizary Lands, as they were called, are transformed into a huge humanoid reserve. Many Huleans of the region join the Hulean community of Bulzan.

Between 662AC and 685AC, agents of Hule stirred discontent and envy among the Olgarian nobility. In the meantime, a conflict over woodcutting rights near the Dark Wood leads to an open conflict between Hule and Olgar's northern neighbour. In 685AC, a group of Olgarian nobles, influenced by the Hulean promises of wealth and power turn their allegiance to the Master. Manojan I, King of Olgar, suppress their status, a civil war between the Master's allies and the loyal vassals of the King ensue from this decision. 688AC marks the beginning of the Hulean participation in the conflict as the Master's forces came to the rescue of the rebel nobles, nineteen years later, Manojan I is forced to abdicate, the Church of Traladara is outlawed and the cult of the Temple of Chaos is brought in forcefully.

For fourteen years the Hulean armies will have to fight to keep their control over the country as enraged Olgarians are still fighting against the Hulean domination. Finally, in 722, in a move to appeased the population, the Master order the Church of Traladara to regain its privileges and to punish his former allies, the seditious nobles: all of them are publicly put to the axe... Calm is established in the new protectorate. Wishing to divide the Olgarian society along ethnic divisions, the Hulean administration of the Olgarian levtja decide to create a new fief, the viscounty of Bratsja to regroup the Olgarians of Hulean origins. This decision provokes major discontent among the population. The cool down the situation, the authorities decide to give the new fief to an Olgarian of Traladaran origin renown for his loyalty toward the Master. Thanks to the Church of Traladara the troubles are put to an end.

The change of generation in the high clergy of the Church of Traladara brings some younger cleric eager to shake the Hulean domination over the country. Between 953AC and 983AC, tension will slowly build up as the old hope for the Golden Age reappears and because it means the end of the Hulean Empire build upon an army made principally of humanoids. However, as the Church is more and more involved in the struggle against Hule, the majority of the nobility prefers to keep a low profile in the face of the Master's armies. In 983AC, Durul Özergan is sent to put an end to the troubles, he chooses the violent way: Churches are closed, the clerical hierarchy is outlawed, shrines and temples dedicated to the Hulean Temple of Chaos are erected everywhere, books referring to the Golden Age are banished and, the final blow, the Cathedral of Zotchevo (holiest site of Olgar and crowning site of the kings of Olgar) is destroyed. In 984AC, following the treason of Toder Ginchev, Viscount of Bratsja, the high clergy hideout is uncovered and its members are slaughtered. Since these events, the Church of Traladara is still an underground movement supported by most of the population and the Hulean repression of any sign of rebellion is systematic; the population lives in the constant fear of Hulean retaliation while the nobles enjoy some autonomy.

Religion: In general the population of Olgaria share the principles of tolerance and harmony preached by the Church of Traladara even though it is currently forbidden throughout the country. The Hulean administration is trying to extend the Temple of Chaos philosophy and pantheon as a counterweight to the Church influence, but they have had little success to implant it outside the Hulean community. Some Bulzanian communities near the Bulzan border still revere the Bulzanian but the expectation of a golden age to come through the Church of Traladara has made the Church more appealing than the old Bulzanian pantheon.

The Church of Traladara in Olgar is a little more radical than its Karameikan counterpart. Even though it stands on the same six principles, some of them are more important than the others. The sixth principle is in fact more important than in Karameikos because the Traladaran settlers of Olgar were looking for a place to build a new kingdom where the Golden Age of the Traladarans could bloom again. What is the Golden Age? Most of the people wouldn't be able to tell, but, according to the local Church of Traladara, several requirements must be met: first, a wise and just king will bring riches and harmony into the country; second, all humanoids must be driven out of the lands of the Traladarans; third, the golden age will bring many peoples and cultures to adopt the Church of Traladara faith. When the Church of Traladara will be the greatest faith of all, Halav, Petra and Zirchev will come back on Mystara and they will help the humanity to progress into harmony and tolerance.

Notable Sites: Even though the current political situation is dire Olgar is still a nice place. There are a lot of nice villages where the population is particularly hospitable. The region is renown for it's nice flowers that can be seen nearly everywhere at the houses' windows and for the multitude of cats, which are particularly respected for their freedom and independence and supposed to protect the soul of the people unfairly killed. In fact, it is better to stay in the campaigns while in Olgar since the two major cities are under tough Hulean control.

Kulnovo is a nice looking city but the closing of the frontier to trade implemented by the Hulean authorities and the martial law that is severely imposed over the historical capital has brought hard economic conditions and a general impression of despair over the entire city. Once a prosperous city dotted with inns and taverns, it is now somewhat deserted as many of its inhabitant flew to the campaign where living is easier. Once a thriving trade centre, Irdzhygrad is nearly a ghost town nowadays. The city is totally under the control of a troop of ors that has done much damages and plundering. Definitely a place to avoid actually. The Lotev and Syoutja Hills and the neighbouring fiefs harbour the main groups of Olgarian rebels. In spite of regular Hulean military interventions in the region, the rebels (from Olgar and Bulzan) haven't been dislodged. It is in villages like Lozarat or Halavgrad that the traditional Olgarian society may be felt at its best. The tower of Ossamva in the eponymous viscounty is the headquarter of the Olgarian resistance and the current shelter of the remnant of the Church of Traladara high clergy.

Once the architectural jewel of Olgar the Cathedral of Zotchevo, is now a pile of ruins rumoured to be haunted by the souls of the slaughtered cleric of the Church of Traladara but also filled with religious treasures. Located in the southwestern portion of the Dark Wood is the lair of the great Voysava, a huge green dragon that is the only living being in this evil forest beside the master and his close minions. Voysava is known to like gratuitous destruction and terror, however it haven't been seen for years, rumours want it dead, killed by a group of Torreónese adventurers or asleep.