Achera is a country on the southern coast of Zaldara. Though no longer a great empire, Achera is one of the more powerful nations on the continent. The influence of their empire is seen in the cultures of most of the nations of the southern and central portions of the continent.
“Achera” comes from the ancient word Achra, meaning “Veiled” in one of the many tribal dialects that eventually cemented into the modern languages of the Age of Tears. The Acherans are known for their custom of veiling their faces when they go into battle, so as to turn their face away from the regrettable violence that they do.
Located on the southern coast of Zaldara, with its southern border facing the Urkhani Sea, Achera is bordered to the by the Jorani Mountains and to the west by the Sea of Jirra. Its eastern border is comprised of the southern tip of the Jorani and the southern tip of The Rift.
The country is neatly bisected by the River Sayek, which splits at the town of Sayek to the south. The branching of the Zyndara River reaches to the western shore at the city of Zyend while the Sayek continues down to the capital city of Asdari.
The northern portion of the country is rich in deciduous forest lands, while the south possesses thick jungles and moist, fertile earth.
The capital city of Asdari lies on the western coast on the delta of the River Sayek. The city of Zyend also lies on the western coast on at the foot of the Zyndara River. The town of Sayek lies at the split of the River Sayek and the Zyndara.
The city of Nyif lies on the north-most and largest of the Southern Islands, on the island’s north shore. The resort town of Kimeld lies on the southern coast of the same island. On another of the islands stands Unttir Prison, the main prison stronghold for the Kargan’s government.
Tower Kelmori sits in the southwestern corner of the country. It is a large-ish compound community of Wizards and Sorcerers, devoted to the precepts of their founder, Kelmori, who held that spellcasters, with their great powers, should seek humility in simple works. The Wizards at Kelmori are almost monastic in their pursuit of austerity.
Achera has a rich and varied history that has influenced and affected all of the nations of central and southern Zaldara.
The Imperial Period
In the early day of The Scattering, one of the hundreds of human tribes that vied for control of the remainder of continent emerged victorious and established one of the first nation-states of the Age of Tears. The Acherans, or “veiled ones”, once they secured their lands in the south, rose northward and eventually conquered most of central and portions of western Zaldara. Ruling from their capital city Asdari, the Acherans established an empire that reigned for over two hundred years before finally declining into its present state. Though no longer an empire, Achera remains a powerful and influential nation.
Jalila Sarad, subcheiftain of the Acherans, rose to become the first Kargan (“supreme ruler”) of the Achera by the time she was 32 years old. Sarad was known as a ruthless warrior and genius tactician, as well as an excellent ruler. In fact, it was her talent for retaining assimilated provinces after she conquered them that earned her the empire. Her fast rise and talent earned her the title “Bezumazran” or “blessed of Azumazran”, a title retained by future Kargans up until the present day.
After Jalila’s death at the age of 47 of natural causes, her son and successor, Pajab, continued the his mother’s traditions and established a lasting body of laws known as The Kargan’s Covenant. The Covenant established the idea the Kargan cannot act outside the laws of his own land and that the Sarad line has made a blood-oath with the people of Achera to always act in their best interest. Many attribute these concepts as the reason that Achera, even in decline, is a powerful nation.
The Sarad line has maintained the Karganship of Achera for the past 400 years. With the exception of an internecine conflict known as the Succession War (in which, as the term implies, the question of succession to the Orchid Throne was in question), the reigns have been peaceful in regard to the nation itself. However, beginning in the year 257 AT, Achera began to lose its outlying provinces to insurgency. A great drought has engulfed the land and the Imperial government began to beggar itself to keep the Acheran interior fed, much less the outlying provinces. Finally, in the year 337, under the reign of Rajesh IV, Achera’s borders had reverted to its original tribal holdings behind the Jorani Mountains. The Acheran Empire was at an end.
Since that time, Achera has remained first among the many nations of Zaldara, second ever only to great Tarsas. Both nations vie for the top position of power on the continent and have had a fierce rivalry—rivalry that has, occasionally, broken out in brief wars over the past two centuries.
Achera has had an antagonistic relationship with its northern neighbor, Kuskar, pretty much since that nation’s inception. Kuskar was the last nation to break away from Imperial rule and it was a hard-won battle. Both nations fervently guard the only to viable passes through the Jorani that separate the two countries.
Achera is also on the front lines of Orcish incursion, separated by their islands only by the Urkhani Sea and a series of rocks known as the Kraken’s Teeth. Their stronghold of Inai’im also protects against invasions of the monstrosities of The Rift.
Laws and Governance
The government of Achera is unique in that it is, essentially, a constitutional monarchy. While the Kargan is the head of all branches of government, he (or she) rules by virtue of The Covenant and the divine blessing of the matrilineal succession. The various bureaucracies (Treasury, etc.) are maintained by ministers appointed by the Kargan for this purpose.
Each Kargan is a first-born of the mother’s line in direct succession from the first, Jalila Sarad. The gender of the first-born is immaterial, only the succession being traced back to Jalila by blood. The Kargan’s are known to have a birth name (sanctified by The Three and then take on a new name upon attainment of the Orchid Throne.
With a monarch comes a noble class who are the primary land holders in a semi-feudal society of oaths and bonds of marriage banding them together to the throne.
The laws of Achera are benevolent, though somewhat harsh to repeat offenders. Capital punishment is reserved for traitors, murderers, thieves that have been imprisoned thrice for their offenses, and those found guilty of magical compulsion of others. There are the debtors prisons, though many would-be debt prisoners opt for indentured servitude instead. Slavery is outlawed in Achera, though many would argue that serfs and indentured workers are essentially the same thing.
The economic power of Achera is the backbone of its success. Between mineral rich mountains to the north and south, fertile farms of peppers and rice and other grains to the south, and fecund forests ripe with timber, Achera actually imports very little and is a model of self-sufficiency. As a result, tariffs against imports tend to be rather high.
*CP = Copper Piece, SP = Silver Piece, GP = Gold Piece, and PP = Platinum Piece
The Achera are the primary ethnic group in the country, though there have been many immigrants over the years. Toward the north are some Kuskar communities that have chosen to live in a more prosperous land and retain many of their homeland’s customs—though these are not far off from their own.
Half-Orcs and other Orcish descendants are a surprisingly high percentage of the population (some 10%). This is primarily due to the various incursions of the Orcish tribesmen over the years. They are not organized into a group, but simply cannot be considered as “uncommon”—especially in the cities. Most Acherans seem to have a tolerant—though far from friendly—attitude toward their mixed-blood brethren.
The Achera have classic Southron features: dark brown to reddish-brown skin, dark brown to black hair, brown eyes. The Achera are known to have hawk-like profiles with prominent noses, more so than their cousins to the north in Kuskar.
The primary language spoken in Achera is simply called “Acheran”. High Acheran is spoken in the court of the Kargan and is used in legal documents. Merchants, like most of their ilk throughout Zaldara, speak “Tradespeak”, a vulgarization of parts of Tarsian, Acheran, and other languages. The Kuskar language is also spoken in some parts of the north.
Most Acherans have but a single name, though they take on a matronymic (-asi, like Jalilasi) or a place indicator (“of Sayek”) to differentiate as needed. The nobility have House surnames.
The primary religion of Achera is Mazranism. Every city has a temple to The Three and shines exist in nearly every nook and cranny in between.
The faith of Mazranism is the Truth. In fact, Azumazran represents the Ultimate Truth. However, other gods are often assumed to be powerful Yazutas that people have mistakenly attributed the title “god”. But people are judged by their actions in life, not their adherence to faith, and so long as they do not stray from the path of Goodness, the Three have no issues with other faiths.
The Kargan’s line is said to be blessed of Azumazran and this fact is the source of some of their power (the rest is their place in The Covenant). Thus, faith in The Three is extremely important in Achera.
Sorcery and Wizardry
The practice of spellcraft is neither illegal nor frowned up upon in Acheran society. The Kargan Ishvara I signed the Athanasius Pact which allows for the governance of Wizards and Sorcerers by the High Council of Magic. There are Towers of Magic in Achera, though they are more like small, self-sufficient holds than true towers.
Crimes committed in Achera with magic, however, are severely punished—especially acts such as summoning creatures from Beyond and magical compulsion. Such acts can earn a death sentence in Achera.
Achera is the product of one of the oldest cultures on Zaldara. Its religion, currency, cuisine, music, and language have spread out from this ancient land to influence nearly all others.
The Acherans have a grand tradition of poetry, personified in the works of the 3rd Century Bard Kahlil of Zyend. His love poetry, in particular, still inspires lovers in Achera to this day.
Music is also much appreciated by Acherans. Acheran Bard are considered to be among the most skilled in the known world.
Acheran cuisine is very spicy. With over 100 variety of peppers growing in their southern farms, it’s no wonder. Goat’s milk and spiced wines are a staple of their diet. So too are rices and other tropical grains. Northern Acherans also have a fondness for roots and other savory herbs.
Weapons and Armor
Acheran weapons and armor are fairly distinctive. Acheran helms tend to be conical and not very ornate, except for etchings depicting the symbols of Azumartuk (the balance, the bull, the great owl). They are also equipped with either cloth or chain veils with which Acheran warriors cover their faces (up to the eyes) in battle.
Acheran blades tend toward the curved (scimitars, falchions, kukri, etc.).
Due to the strong traditions of Mazranism throughout Achera, men tend to wear long hair and beards, with their hair covered by short caps or turbans. Women tend to wear their hair long as well, but covered in head scarf or other hooded garment.
Most people wear flowing, light clothing due to the climate. Men often wear light shirts and dark trousers while women wear colorful wrap-like saris. For formal occasions, men will often wear patterned thigh-length, long sleeve tunics that button up in the front to a high collar. Sometimes even vests of the same design are seen during the summer months. Neither men nor women tend to wear large amounts of jewelry.
Married women and men wear the Bindu, a red tear-drop shaped mark on the forehead to indicate marriage.