Tarsas emerged as one of the most powerful city-states of the post-Scattering era, rivaled only by Achera in power and empire.
The term “Tarsas” comes from an ancient Tarsian word meaning “city on the Tars”, describing the city’s location at the delta of the River Tars (pronounced “tarse”).
The nation of Tarsas (as opposed to the city of the same name) is bordered along East-Southeast by the Sea of Jirra. The Et’tir mountain range runs along the majority of that border. The northern border, also running West-Southwest, is the River Tars, running down from the Eacenian highlands. The Danaurum River forks out from the mighty Tars and runs parallel along a line to the southeast of the larger waterway.
Cities and Places of Interest
The city of Tarsas lies at the southernmost tip of the what is generally known as the Tarsian Peninsula, on the delta of the River Tars. The city’s western border extends some ten miles from the walls, with markers denoting its border with neighboring Sianae. The city of Asir lies nestled in the foothills of the Et’tir Mountains and straddles the southern Danaurum River, northeast of the capital. Northeast of the the capital stands the town of Esayi, also near on the Danaurum River. The walled city of Imth lies to the far northeast of the capital and guards entry into the interior of the country by sea.
While the River Tars makes up the north-northwest border of the country, Tarsas has also established a line of garrisons all along a well-maintained supply road following the river border. The strongholds (from south to north) are A’Daez, Ryl’ire, Que’kina, I’rohdin, Eldyz’a, and Tia’cha. A final stronghold, A’asos lies at the foot of the Slayt Mountains, near the border with Ornis.
To the south of the capital, in the Sea of Jirra, is the Isle of Scypia, bearing a single city of the same name.
The Tarsian City-State was one of the most powerful entities to emerge from The Scattering. Before being eclipsed by the Acheran Empire, the city had risen to become a major economic power and held lands comparable to the extent of the present nation. During this period, the Temple of Praathi was Ascendant and pursued an aggressive campaign against the Acherans in order to maintain a more balanced distribution of power in the world. And while many Tarsians died in the struggle, and the Temple fought hard against it, the city and its nascent empire fell to the tide of history.
The Imperial Period
As was the standard of Kargans at the time, Tarsas was allowed to maintain its own government during its occupation, though many Acheran troops were garrisoned within the city’s walls and that government was required to send tribute and taxes to Asdari each season. During the decline of the Acheran Empire, the Temple of Shazira was Ascendant in Tarsas. The Temple maintained strict order in the streets, but also enacted a string of political assassinations in the city that crippled the Acheran leadership. Coupled with the severe drought that brought the rest of the empire to its knees in hunger, Tarsas rose up and cast off the yoke of Imperial oppression, the first nation to do so.
As the Acheran Empire fell, Tarsas quickly snatched up its previous holdings and maintained a strict border against neighboring Sianae—a long-time rival and one of the few countries that never fell to the Acheran armies. That border—and all of its strained relations—still exist to this day.
Though it has attempted incursions in the past—primarily during times in which the Temple of Shazira is Ascendant—Tarsas has never managed to seize any portion of Sianae nor neighboring Ornis. Even The Jirran Freeholds have seen raids by Tarsian ships, but have managed to turn them back.
During Irthanian reigns, Tarsas remains sedate and a staunch ally, usually attempting to cement permanent peace with its neighbors—but failing due to the transitory nature of its government policies.
Laws and Governance
Tarsas is essentially a theocracy, ruled by a rotation of three different goddesses (Irthani, Praathi, and Shazira). The country is ruled by the Temple that is Ascendant according to the Harbingers. Each year, during the summer solstice (15 Longday), omens are read to determine The Ascendency for the coming year. Whichever of the goddesses is ruled Ascendant, her Temple will rule Tarsas until ruled otherwise by the Harbingers.
The Harbingers are a highly secretive sect that choose their members at birth through the reading of omens (of course). Harbingers are raised in the sect and are held to be sacrosanct and above the influence of the temples. They are beholden only to the omens and signs through which they interpret the will and state of the universe.
While the benevolence (or otherwise) of the laws of the country changes according to the Ascendancy, all aspects of the goddess respect the forces of Order. Thus, the firm control of the country by the government seldom wavers, though its reactions and motivations to disorder vary greatly.
Tarsas is one of only two countries where slavery is outright and legal (the other being Jossia to the north). Even when the Irthani is Ascendant has this law remained, being legal and binding to all. Because slaves are often so by virtue of birth, this circumstance cannot be helped and must be ordained by the Goddess. Those that are sentenced have obviously chosen their own path. However, the rights and treatment of the slave class vary greatly according to the Ascendancy.
It should also be noted that, while other religions may be tolerated on a personal level, it is unlawful to practice any religion other than the state religion within Tarsas.
The Ascendant current government (508 AT) is that of the Temple of Shazira. Their “Blade of the Goddess” is head of state. She is called Kabidit Yahazi.
Tarsas is a farm-rich nation, having fertile soil and plenty of rain for crops. It supports many vineyards and olive presses, as well as simple grain and fiber production. The Et’tir Mountains are a source of iron and bronze as well.
*CP = Copper Piece, SP = Silver Piece, GP = Gold Piece, and PP = Platinum Piece
Tarsians are the primary ethnic group in Tarsas, though many travelers from The Jirran Freeholds or from Ornis may take up residency there. They are also allies with Kuskar and thus have a small population with roots in that country.
Tarsians are a Southron race, known for their olive skin and striking amber-brown eyes.
Tarsian is the primary language of the nation, with High Tarsian spoken in Temple and used in documents. Tradespeak is also prominent, of course.
- Noble houses : Azor, Bod, Gidd, Hasdru, Mattan, Niquma, Rom, Shumir, Sikar, Taman, Ur, Yapith
- Male*: Abbir, Akbar, Anzor, Barquan, Binu, Bodi, Dabar, Gamar, Gahur, Hanesh, Har, Hirrom, Kinesh, Namar, Sedeq, Tagi, Taom, Zabul, Zamir, Zikar
- Female : Akbarit, Aldeshi, Arishat, Bannit, Berrekt, Besho, Eldeshi, Girgishi, Hagnit, Heled, Huld, Kabidit, Namgidda, Phamea, Shamohit, Tamemit, Toarar, Yatunit
The three primary goddess of Tarsian worship are Irthani, the Queen of Day and Light, Praathi, the Queen of Dusk and Twilight, and Shazira, the Queen of Night and Darkness. The three rotate through a period of Ascendancy in Tarsas, according to the oracular Harbinger sect.
As the nation is a theocracy, priests are given the highest amount of power in the countries strict caste structure. The nobility, though land owners and prominent, are second to the clergy. However, many of the nobles also have members of the clergy as part of their family, giving them added temporal powers and helping to maintain the exclusivity of the caste.
Sorcery and Wizardry
All crafts of magic are actually illegal in Tarsas. The country is not a signatory to the Athanasius Pact and take it upon themselves to police spellcraft.
The society of Tarsas is built on a strict caste structure:
- Clergy (entry by “merit” or connections)
- Nobility (entry by birth)
- Merchants (entry by birth or connections)
- Laborers (entry by birth)
- Slave (entry by birth or sentence)
Foreigners fall outside the caste structure and thus are often treated with either wonder or disdain, depending upon the individual. Many are upcharged by merchants and some are even turned away at the door of some establishments. others are welcomed as exotics. Regardless, foreigners have very few legal rights and protections in Tarsas and can expect little sympathy from law enforcement. Some vulnerable outsiders have been taken as slaves, so foreigners traveling in Tarsas often must be wary and travel in groups.
Attending religious services is required by Tarsian law for all. Thus, religious trappings often make their way into fashion, speech, etc.
Tarsian music is atonal and strange to most ears. For Tarsians, music is an expression of order—keys and notes and tones make a certain arithmetic sense. To deviate from the natural order that exists within the musical system is strange to Tarsian thinking.
The food in Tarsas uses much olives, goat meats and cheeses, and whole-grain breads. Fruits such as figs and dates are used for sweetness. Wine is a staple.
Weapons and Armor
The Tarsian style of weapon and armor is very symmetrical and straight, reflective of their highly ordered society. They also tend to lacquer their armor in the colors of the Ascendant temple.
Clothing and Fashion
Tarsians tend to wear dark clothing, with trinkets or embroider-work utilizing popular religious motifs of the time.
Men and women of the clerical caste shave their heads and do not wear facial hair.
Men and women of the noble caste tend to wear their hair in a series of elaborate braids, festooned with beads, bells, gemstones, porcelain bands, etc. Both also wear decorative masks when outside of their homes, so as not to have commoners from outside their manors gaze upon their faces.
Men and women of the merchant caste tend to wear their hair in a series of elaborate braids, festooned with beads, bells, gemstones, porcelain bands, etc. Men will often wear forked beards, also braided and decorated, but without mustaches.
Male laborers wear their hair short and wear beards without mustaches. Women wear their hair in a long, elaborate braid, wrapped about their head.
Slaves are made to shave the left side of their heads, from top to bottom. The right side is grown long and is separated into a series of braids.