Weirworld’s history turned out more complex than I anticipated, so I split it into two posts. This initial post covers the rise of the First Krithali Empire up to the beginnings of the great experiment that would twist the world and give rise to His Radiant Highness.
For millennia thriving in a river valley surrounded on all sides by desert, mountains and jungle. The Krithali tribe practiced simply agriculture on the flood plain, but maintained a strong hunter/gatherer ethos and placed great value on hunting skills. All members of the tribe learned the art of stalking great beasts in river, mountain and plain. Skilled hunters earned the title of “Iwa,” meaning “He Who Is Patient.” Only Iwa could make important decisions for the tribe and formed the ruling elite. The Krithali placed great value on probity and patience and made no decision without several days of contemplation. This peaceful existence continued for many years until the coming of the the R’pak. Wielding advanced copper weapons and a conqueror’s ideology, the R’pak enslaved the Krithali. Though the Iwa fought valiantly from the shadows against the invaders, even they saw the futility of further resistance. This months-long guerrilla war sent many R’pak to the next life and garnered a nearly supernatural reputation for the Iwa.
Though conquered, the Krithali were not defeated. Despite heavy casualties during the invasion, some Iwa survived by disappearing into the enslaved Krithali population. Though the R’pak tortured hundreds trying to find the last Iwa a few escaped the genocide and implemented a plan to free their people. The plan leveraged the only asset the Iwa still possessed. Patience.
Over the next century the Iwa guided the Krithali slaves on a slow path of vengeance. Krithali children secretly received training in Krithali culture and the Iwa ethos, all the while serving the R’pak as compliant slaves. During this time there were no uprisings, no slaves murdering their sleeping masters and the R’pak slowly learned to trust their slaves with every aspect of their lives. As the century of servitude drew to a close, the Krithali slaves performed most of the critical tasks of daily life. Agriculture, building, transportation and commerce were overseen by the R’pak, but the Krithalis did the work. The R’pak degenerated into a perverse, decadent shadow nation, more interested in drugs and blood sport than conquest or managing their empire. A sober few R’pak noticed their dependency on the Krithali workforce, but could not rouse their brethren to action. Apathy ruled the R’pak.
Records from the uprising are sparse, but one thing is certain; blood flowed like water through the streets. Trusted house slaves trained from birth as Iwa, rose on cold, moonless night to slaughter their masters.
In a single night, the R’pak culture ended and the Krithali Imperium planted its seed in blood-soaked ground. Because the Krithali could never return to their simple agrarian existence in the face of external threats. A century of training and suffering created a civilization that worshiped military power and dominance. Never again would a ruthless, foreign power enslave the Krithali because the Krithali chose the path of power, of ruthless ambition and absolute control over their environment.
Centuries passed and nations fell before the Krithali through diplomacy and violence. Though ruthless in battle, the Krithali exercised only limited control over a conquered nation. Local leaders maintained power, freedom of religion helped pacify conquered peoples and anyone could achieve great power within the empire through hard work and fealty to the Empire.
A few rebellions flowered, but quickly wilted in light of the Krithali practice of cultural genocide. Any nation that dared oppose the empire became “immured.” Iwa cohorts destroyed religious sites, cultural artifacts, even entire cities fell to their cleansing flame. Children grew up in Krithali barracks, forbidden on pain of death to speak their native tongue. Displacement of thousands in forced death marches to distant labor camps diluted the culture across the vast empire. Krithali criminals, homesteaders and fortune hunters filled the void, earning large bounties for making the land productive or avoiding harsh prison terms. Soon the local culture became a distant memory. In time, even the nation’s name fell into disuse. In a century, the rebellious nation is now a loyal imperial province.
The Krithali Imperium and succession of Emperors/Empresses conquered the entire continent of Reth within a few generations with only the occasional cultural genocide to encourage loyalty. Food was abundant, peace controlled by the Imperial military (with the Iwa as a sort of secret service/special forces branch) and opportunities endless. Once defeated by advanced technology, the Empire lavished funds on explorers, scientists, doctors and engineers to stay ahead of potential threats. Once of these scientists, an engineer named Herrick, took an Imperial grant and sought new mineral sources high in the God’s Test mountain range. There he found the seductive power of Burden and sought to change the world. A world that still bears the wounds of his hubris.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer