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TWAELAR (Merrow Empire)

Location: Seabed around the Thanegioth Archipelago. OW

Area: Approx. 250,000 sq. mi. (647,500 sq. km.).

Population: 1,000,000 (including 200,000 in the capital of Twaeloporis). Roughly 50% merrow, 15% aquatic ogre, 10% triton, 10% locathah, 10% sahuagin, 5% aquatic elves.

Language: Merrow (Twaelar dialect).

Coinage: Black pearl (5 gp), pearl (gp), seed pearl (sp), coral (cp). Merrow coins consist of mother-of-pearl into which seed pearls are embedded; none for the coral, one for the seed pearl, five for a pearl coin, and five black seed pearls for the black pearl.

Taxes: 20% income tax collected biannually, 5% sales tax on all goods except food, plus in-kind exactions and corvée labour on behalf of the empire.

Government Type: Monarchy advised by a council of priests.

Industries: Fishing, kelp-raising, pearl-harvesting.

Important Figures: Diviloplop (Emperor), Igilbolb (Empress), Goblopob (High Priest of Protius).

Flora and Fauna: Kelp forests, coral, whales, dolphins, seahorses, hippocampi, narwhals, giant leeches, electric eels, lacedons, dragonfish, dragon turtles, giant lampreys, jellyfish (man o' war), water naga, piranhas, giant squid, ixitxachitl, giant sharks, marids, urchins, school fish, giant clams, nereids, eyes of the deep, krakens, giant octopi, aquatic jellies, giant sea snakes, giant lobsters, scrags, sirines, giant sea spiders, kelpies, aquatic dinosaurs, and in hidden areas, kopru.

Description by Favonius Viator.

[We are pleased that imperial officials have finally released this information for publication. We requested access to reports on the Twaelar Merrow Empire earlier, but with the exception of Favonius's heavily censored account of his imprisonment, we were refused. We are glad we can now bring this information to our readers. Ed.]

The Twaelar Merrow Empire consists of the nation of the merrow and members of other aquatic races that are subject to it as a result of the efforts of the Twaelar to expand and subdue their enemies and potential enemies.

The Land

The Twaelar don't rule land, they rule the space below the ocean surface. This is a span of territory roughly twice the size of Darokin around the Thanegioth Archipelago. Borders are rather indistinct, and there seem to be some zones that the Twaelar don't completely control within this area (mainly mysterious submarine canyons, which are feared and the subject of superstitions, supposedly some old master race is said to lurk therein). But they also have some enclaves beyond their core areas as well, colonies if you will. The seas here are relatively warm, and because of the Thanegioth Shelf are not exceptionally deep.

The People

The Twaelar merrow dominate the merrow empire. These are merrow akin to most others, but more militant, aggressive, and organized than those you might be familiar with. They have succeeded in either wiping out or subjugating and absorbing the other aquatic races of the area, creating a powerful empire. The sahuagin are supposedly restive, and form a despised underclass. They were supposedly the merrow's greatest rivals for power in the area until they were crushed in a series of major, and bloody, wars. The aquatic ogres form a menial caste, and also serve as shock troops for the merrow empire. They seem to be almost blindly and fanatically loyal to their merrow leaders. The rest of the races are second-class citizens within the empire, denied positions of authority and rulership but otherwise able to pursue most careers. This is, however, not so much a race-conscious attitude but rather the relationship between a conqueror and a defeated population. Only the aquatic ogres (which have the status of, as the Hattians might put it, Untermenschen within the empire, menials and expendable soldiers) and the sahuagin (who are considered potentially dangerous and threatening) are discriminated against. The others are excluded from power not because of their race, but simply because they are the vanquished and the merrow are the victors, and naturally rule over those they defeated. Oddly, however, none of the aquatic ogres are officially classed as slaves, but some of the members of the other aquatic races are enslaved. Approximately a third of each, with some variation-a little less than half of the sahuagin are enslaved, but less than a fifth of the aquatic elves are slaves.

The merrow of the empire are highly religious, and the priest caste devoted to Protius is very influential. Indeed, it would almost be proper to characterise the empire as a theocratic state. These priests gained power, supposedly, during the days when the Twaelar were subjugated to the mysterious previous rulers of the area, as a quasi liberation movement. They then led the Twaelar in the wars against the other aquatic races, cementing their authority over the merrow themselves.

The Twaelar warrior caste forms the second-most respected rung of society (war-wizards included), due to the support they provide to the maintenance of the empire and its authority over the subject races. Note that the aquatic ogre shock troops, which are often used in war, while commanded by the Twaelar warrior caste, are not considered part of it. How the Twaelar keep the aquatic ogres so blindly loyal to them while treating them as servile minions is something I was not able to discover. Some of the guards who kept me imprisoned were aquatic ogres, but I could never even get them to speak to me without permission from their merrow overseers.

I have some familiarity with the greatest city and capital of the Twaelar, Twaeloporis, since this is where I was kept during my imprisonment. It is a large city in size, covering as much area as the great city of Thyatis. The buildings are farther apart, though, to make it easier to swim through. Though many of these buildings (actually rock formations with chambers carved into them) are a couple dozen stories high, a comparatively small proportion of each consist of rooms, since carving out too much of the stone would weaken the structure and cause it to collapse. Thus, though it covers a wide area, I estimate its actual population is around 200,000. Still a larger population than in virtually any surface city. Around two thirds of its inhabitants, or perhaps even more, are merrow, as this is the centre of their culture. Most of the rest of those who live here are their aquatic ogre servants, with some aquatic elves as well (perhaps 1% of the population). Few, if any, sahuagin are permitted to live in Twaeloporis.

Their capital is a majestic, eerily beautiful but foreboding place, with schools of shimmering fish swimming between the spires that form the city's buildings. There is a huge palace-temple in the centre of the city, which is seemingly carved out of multicoloured coral, akin to the palace of Ierendi but several times larger. This palace is perched atop an ocean mesa, looming over the rest of the city, except for some of the taller spires. A sunken vessel damaged its upper stories, much to the anger of the Twaelar, who launched their war against all the surface peoples over this. Recent evidence may be that sahuagin saboteurs, rebels against the Twaelar, were responsible for this, in the hope of provoking just such a war that might weaken the Twaelar Empire, and thus its grip on subject races (such as the insurrectionist sahuagin).

Twaeloporis is a heavily militarised city, with heavily-armed troops, aquatic cavalry, and regiments of aquatic ogre shock troops. It would be difficult to invade and conquer, especially by a surface (air-breathing) power. Many of these troops are used to keep the rest of their empire under control, but additional forces have been mobilised for the war against the surface races. The Twaelar have some highly innovative artisans and enchanters, who are said to be working on developing weapons to permit them to expand their operations to the surface lands themselves.

There are also several dozen major temples in Twaeloporis, heavily patronised by the merrow, who seem to conduct religious ceremonies daily. The other races of the Twaelar Dominate worship their own Immortals, but all are required to give at least some veneration to Protius and obeisance to the Twaelar's version of His faith.

The Twaelar can be cruel, and don't mind using torture on captives or corporal punishment on their subordinates. They have developed several ingenious methods, and could possibly have taught the Arogansans a trick or two. Though sometimes they hit them with a rod to get their attention, they never need to inflict punishment on the aquatic ogres to get their obedience. This is just another mystery I was unable to solve during my captivity.

Recent History

I have learned little of Twaelar history. They seem to have had a small nation centuries ago, which was dominated by some other race that was said to have ruled over the Thanegioth region, an aquatic race that dominated both the sea peoples and the air-breathing people. This race was defeated or overthrown somehow. Following this, the merrow re-established an independent kingdom, but were in conflict with their neighbours. Out of these wars, the merrow managed to subdue their rivals to create the Twaelar Merrow Empire, which has dominated the undersea region in this area of the Sea of Dread for about a century. I admit this is very sketchy, but it is all I was able to pick up during my captivity.