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NITHIA (Empire of)

Location: Southeastern Iciria, west of the Bay of Adoth, north of the Great Southern Shield Mountains, south of Lake Menkor, east of the Plains of Teuz along the River Nithia. HW

Area: 687,277 sq. mi. (1,780,045 sq. km.).

Population: 4,000,000 including Tarthis (pop. 350,000), Dashur (pop. 100,000), Hapta (pop. 75,000), Menkara (pop. 200,000), Ranak (pop. 45,000) and numerous towns and villages.

Languages: Nithian, Neathar.

Coinage: Eye (gp), hawk (sp), beetle (cp).

Taxes: Additional corvée labour in the flood season for monument building.

Government Type: Imperial theocratic monarchy (all pharaohs must be clerics).

Industries: Agriculture (rich along the Nithia River), textiles (linen), mining (gold).

Important Figures: Ramose IV (Pharaoh, human, male, Pr16 of Rathanos), Al-Belak (Southern King, human, male, T12), Djemun (Nomarch of Menkara, human, female, T15), Al Fatmah Nikita-Ahmed (Vizier of Internal Security, human, female, F18), Khnemet-urt (Delta King, human, male, Pr9 of Pflarr), Permon (Priest and Vizier human, male, C8, the only non-specialty priest in Rathanos' clergy).

Flora and Fauna: Among the many monsters and animals are oxen, horses, sheep, goats, giant ants, rock baboons, bandits, giant (scarab) beetles, camels, carrion crawlers, lions, dragons, efreet, gargantua, gargoyles, gelatinous cubes, ghouls, gnolls, liches, giant lizards, manscorpions, mummies, purple worms, rats, rocs, flame salamanders, scorpions, skeletons, snakes, sphinxes, living statues, stirges, and zombies.

Further Reading: Hollow World boxed set, HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia, previous almanacs.

Description by Theukidikies the Historian of Corisa.

The Nithians are a city-building folk, a nation of teeming peasants tilling fields along the length of the River Nithia, serving their pharaoh and his priests, rulers of unlimited authority. It is a land where superstition, not philosophy, rules.

The Land

The Nithian Pharaoh, in his arrogance and temerity, claims all the land he or his representatives can see, but we will discuss not these spurious claims but only the actual territory occupied by the Nithians.

This whole land is hot and arid. Therefore, almost all Nithians live along the banks of the river of the same name. This river runs out of the Great Southern Shield Mountains, winding its way north for over a thousand miles until it empties into Lake Menkor. The Kingdom of Nithia is the gift of the River Nithia, as were it not for this river and the fertility it brings to the valley, the kingdom would be as dry and inhospitable as the wastelands to either side of it. Irrigation canals are dug out from the river by the Nithians on either bank, making it possible for them to water their crops.

But the river, which floods twice a year and thus waters the lands along its bank, makes settlement here possible. The Nithians till the lands made rich and fertile by the river, and build large cities along its length. The northern part of Nithia, where the river broadens out into a delta, is a region of broader fertility still, fed by rains sweeping off of Lake Menkor. Here are not only farmlands, but also lands for herdsmen and shepherds as well. This area forms the Delta Kingdom of Nithia, while the region upriver along the banks of the river forms the Southern Kingdom of Nithia.

To each side of the area made fertile by the River Nithia are wastelands and deserts, where the cruel wind blows hot and dry, but in many areas flat and hard-baked, allowing the Nithians to range across them in their chariots. The wind scours the sand, and sometimes, eerily, seems to sculpt it into fantastic shapes, like beings or creatures, which it is said that some of the Nithian adepts can manipulate as golems.

In this region also there are, however, vast badlands full of rocky, broken terrain and blighted box canyons with walls of clay and rock, where mesa-like rock formations seem to rise in the shape of a natural pyramid. Many wealthy Nithians have their tombs built out in these regions, and tomb robbers and other bandits are a danger to the unwary here.

In the east this country eventually ends at the mountains known as Pflarr's Wall, while in the west it gradually becomes less arid, until the steppes and plains of the Jennites are reached.

The People

The Nithians are a short, dusky-skinned people with dark hair and eyes. The men cut their hair short, and are beardless, while the women wear their hair long, but often they wear elaborate wigs. Most men wear nothing but a loincloth or skirt-like garment, while the women wear linen dresses. Some palace slaves of both sexes are dressed in nothing but a belt. Wealthy Nithians also wear garments of fine cotton or linen, often very sheer and transparent, or dyed in bright colours.

Nithia is ruled by an absolute ruler, who is called pharaoh, whom the Nithians obey as if he were an Immortal, which he claims to be. Under him are two kings, one administering the Delta Kingdom and the other the Southern Kingdom. All Nithians live to serve their Immortals and their pharaoh, whom are considered one and the same, and are ruled through a vast bureaucracy of priest-scribes and noble functionaries known as nomarchs, all of whom ultimately obey the wishes of the pharaoh. Thus the Nithians are governed almost as minutely as the Azcans, and all life in Nithia centres around the pharaoh and his religious apparatus, the priesthood of the Nithian Immortals. Even Nithian artists work in groups, and seem to have no individuality themselves, but work collectively and produce objects, venerating their pharaoh or the Immortals, which look like they were made by one person.

Under the rule of this administration are the Nithian people, their commoner landowners, the peasants who are bound to the land they work or the business they serve, and the slaves. The slaves are divided into two categories, one being war prisoners and captives, who as non-Nithians are considered barely human. The other are the hereditary slaves, which may be house servants and are treated better than the captive slaves.

Average Nithians live in flat-roofed, one-story houses made of sun-baked clay or rough stone coated in hardened mud. They are designed to let breezes through, which keeps the house from being too hot but which also blows dust throughout the structure. Thus, during windy seasons, Nithians prefer to sleep on the roof of their house, under a covering to shield them from the sun, rather than in the house itself. Most of these houses are sparsely furnished, and only the wealthy have tables or chairs, most people making do with reed mats or benches made out of rock or hardened mud. But almost every home has at least one chest in which the people can store their belongings.

The wealthier Nithians have access to various household magics, which keep them in comfort but can also make them soft and indolent, as they are served by not only slaves but have common tasks done for them by magic rather than by diligence.

The Nithians have several cities, but there is no civic life as the Milenians know it, with politics and policy discussed among the people. Instead, the cities of the Nithians revolve around the temples of their Immortals, and upon constructing huge monuments to them and their pharaohs. Nithia abounds in monuments of all types, which are quite wondrous to behold. These range from the palaces of the pharaoh, the kings, the nomarchs, and prominent priests, to the famous pyramids. Obelisks and huge statues are also commonplace, and Nithian society seems dedicated to creating these impressive monuments. Work on them is usually done during the flood seasons, when the river is high, so the farmers, who are not working their lands then, can be directed by the pharaoh's ministers to move stone and work on these structures. Large barges, including hover barges, are also used to move stone up and down river for this purpose. Nithia rivals Milenia in the number of its monuments and artistic buildings, and outdoes Milenia in the sheer scale of these projects, though I believe Milenia has more artistic refinement and realism in its own, and more individuality is expressed in Milenian art and architecture.