THE FARMING SETTLEMENT MIARZAN

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

Miarzan, a large area consisting of leagues of grazing land, is home to perhaps the most affluent and sought-after farmers in all of Zhun, farmers of the Miarzan "Tough Hide" cattle. Each of the great Citystates invest heavily in these farmers, bidding for the precious asset to their progress. The skin of the Miarzan cattle is used to make some of the highest quality leather armour on all of Nybelmar, and is sought for its perfect balance of flexibility, comfort and durability. The preciousness of these animals and what they provide to each of the cities is shown by their constant presence and involvement in the farmer’s life. Inspectors, guards and escorts for the cargo arrive from leagues away to review, protect and deliver the resources to whoever the farmer has made his allegiance with.

Apart from the fields of rich, delicious pasture, Miarzan also consists of a small settlement that homes the farmers and their creature comforts - such as the famous Miarzan ale halls. All in all, the Miarzarians (or Miarzar, since both terms are used to describe the township) are a very relaxed and content people.


Description. Situated close to the centre of the Zhun peninsula, Miarzan is quite far from the picturesque Zhunite coasts. Though they are spared the southern ocean’s beauty, they are also kept out of the hustle and bustle of the larger working towns - Miarzan having a much less stressed atmosphere. Its location also makes it hard for any one of the southern Citystates to declare it as their dominion, and due to its now affluent status, only the parts agreed to be exchanged to the greater powers are claimed (much to the dislike of the more "Take and Conquer" attitude of some Marmarrans).

It is quite hard to tell where the unclaimed pasture (or those worked by small hamlets) and the fields of Miarzan actually begin. A lot of central Zhun is covered in the beautiful, long grass that the "Tough Hides" love, so a lot of places look similar to one another. Some of the telltale signs of being in Miarzan are commented on by the Cuscan novelist Ashara Turai:

"I was in what was called the ‘Second-Class’ carriage - away from the master smith Kli, his relatives, and the captain of the Cusca ‘Free Legion’ whose name I still don’t know. I was kept in a not too spacious carriage with some of the accountants; one of the mercenary sergeants who really should have been with his men outside, marching around the carriage. Also directly opposite myself was the stern faced chief appraiser.

I slid open the window to let some of the cool breeze wash away the tense and humid climate and atmosphere of the silent carriage, only to the delight of my eyes. I saw the rolling hills of a simple but magnificent green, with the occasional patchy orchard growing miscellaneous fruit in the perfectly fresh noon. Though I had spent my time in the harbours and on the golden Zhunite beaches, admiring the power and majesty of the glittering ocean, this beauty had a new effect. It seemed so… modest. The crashing sea arrogantly washes over the soft, smooth sand in a repugnantly conceited manner. This beauty, the simplicity yet the amazement, is like the delicate beauty found in the forgotten hamlet. Its beauty is uncelebrated, unknown but so potent that it strikes a reaction in a part of you that you didn’t know existed.

I had no idea how close we were to our destination; to pick up our Miarzan cattle that Kli had spent a fortune upon. Despite this, I began to suspect we were drawing closer. I spied a small band of soldiers in an unusually dark uniform, a nearly black leather torso with an odd purple fabric underlining. The expressions and mannerisms of these men made me suspect they might have been well-armed bandits, but then I spied the banner flying behind them. The infamous eye. They were Marmarrans.

I watched as the free legion troops around the carriages drew their swords from their sheaths without breaking their marching rhythm. The Marmarrans who spotted the armed Cuscans placed their spears into a more prepared position, and arranged themselves into a more attentive formation. You could see the hate in both the Marmarrans and our guards, but the Marmarrans were seriously outnumbered. They slowly withdrew backwards as if to say ‘We don’t want any trouble.’

After we passed this potential threat more differences seemed to indicate to me we were in Miarzan territory. I saw in a field not too far away two men (who, judging by their attire, weren’t farmers) arguing over what seemed to be the corpse of one calf. One of the men had blood on his hands, and if the argument escalated, I didn’t doubt that he would have a bloodied face either.

As we passed further fields, lined out with megor picket fences, I spotted something quite odd. One of the farmers tending to the famous ‘Tough Hides’ had a golden bracelet around his wrist and a cloth bag full of coins. What was most unusual about this situation though, was that a small hole in the bag was leading a stream of coins to fall onto the grass. The farmer though, perfectly aware of this, didn’t seem to be bothered by his money being dirtied. By his almost sinister grin I would guess he had just made a deal with one of the many foreigners seeking the rare
cattle.

I lent my head out of the hole in the carriage side and I saw the patch of long, wooden buildings with straw tops, some with streams of delicate smoke escaping from their roofs. I now knew we were in Miarzan, and I quickly sketched out a small drawing of the settlement in the distance before arriving too close, placing this in my satchel, and waking up the now sleeping sergeant before the captain saw him slacking."

-- Ashara Turai: "On Miarzan", found in "Tales and Narrations", p. 57 f.

A majority of what is known as Miarzan is a huge expanse of luscious grazing land to sustain the precious livestock that Miarzan is famed for. It is hard though to deduce where Miarzan fields actually begin, with poor definitions between each farmer’s fields - the most effective divisions are nothing more than picket fences. Despite this, farmers seem to instinctively know which land is theirs, as if it is imprinted in their being. Usually, families stay with farming the same area for generations so some suggest it is possible these boundaries are defined in the persons' minds by their parentage. What is quite odd though, for such a large expanse, is the number of cattle. Most fields give the cattle more space than they could ever require. A lot of people have various theories about why this is; some say the grass isn’t as nourishing so more is needed to satisfy them (which is unlikely due to it being perfect pasture for other livestock - including cattle). Others suppose that the Tough Hides don’t develop well in enclosed spaces. What is certain though, is the fact that whatever the reason, the product is undisputable - so no argument is made.

Once inside the settlement of Miarzan you are immediately struck by its atmosphere. There is seemingly a constant chatter exuding from the ‘noisy foreigners’ that are always present, celebrating their recent deals or depressing in their loss of funds or failed negotiations. There is also a surprising military presence around the southern part of the settlement (where most of the travelling businessmen and their companions/underlings stay) from various Zhunite nations and organisations. Groups of armed men clad in a whole variety of armaments, uniforms and bearing an endless series of banners are quite commonplace, but conflicts between (sometimes bitterly) rivalling forces are almost unheard of.

With all of this commotion around the settlement, a resident of Miarzan can easily be identified if you know what to look for. Miarzarians firstly are normally spotted in their working clothes, normally leather boots, gloves and various tunics made of some cheap fabrics. They will also tend to be quite oblivious to the area around them, with an absence of thought about them. They will wade through crowds like it’s a routine, not a bother and are quite partial to humming or whistling an optimistic tune.

The architecture of Miarzan is nothing special, from an artistic point of view at least. Most buildings are long and wooden, with the shape of a long ship, but turned upside down. Most of the roofs are lined with golden straw, with small chimneys protruding to allow cooking fumes to escape from the buildings. Some of the most famous sights in Miarzan, excluding the Tough Hide cattle fields of course, are the Miarzan ale halls. An old tradition, these buildings are some of the most friendly and cheerful places in all of Zhun. Most consisting of three floors with wooden barriers and no central boards means it is possible to see the top floor from the bottom and for the music, the laughter and the general joy to travel around the whole structure.

The Ale Hall. Unsurprisingly, in an ale hall, you drink ale - normally by the firkin. Miarzarians tend to have a strong resistance to the intoxicating effects, drinking the brilliant liquid in vessels that some claim to hold as much ale as a bucket would. It is not uncommon for visitors to enter such a hall and leave unconscious. Despite their names, ale halls are just dedicated to providing an intoxicating getaway. Many are also famed for their food. Though many visitors criticise it for its simplicity (Marmarrans notably), halls offer various filling pastries, stews, soups and also some piping hot desserts. Though the other, more ‘classy’ Zhunites may not approve, it’s a perfect example of Miarzarian attitude, they do things for comfort and enjoyment - not fashion, image, reputation or other superficial motives. Some Miarzarians seem to have been influenced by their constant visitors, many halls now catering to demand for beverages like wine or the famous "Hootar Sting", though they still aren’t drunk in any less quantities that would be expected by other Zhunites.

The Council of Miarzan. The only stone building in the town is the Council of Miarzan. This building houses the governing and inter-politics of the settlement - but also the policies regarding the constant visitors. The council - consisting of the (elected) governor and ten members of his choice - meet every two months to discuss the political climate of the town, and to raise any issues individual councilmen have. In addition to this, at the council building documents concerning every transaction are kept - after the law was passed to prevent the Citystates from gaining Miarzan cattle using fraudulent or hostile methods. Return to the top

The Region of Dragon's Back

View picture in full size Map  description. A map of the Dragon's Back region in southwestern Nybelmar. Map by Koldar Mondrakken and Coren FrozenZephyr.

Location. Miarzan is found on the southwestern part of the continent Nybelmar, in the plains of Zhun (the area south of the Dragon’s Back region). Miarzan is located near the centre of the Zhun plains, with a slight inkling towards the east. The settlement itself is northwest of Marmarra, north of Hootar and very far northeast of the Cuscan citystate. Return to the top

People. Miarzarians are well known for their relaxed, stress-free, comfortable lifestyle. Some could label them as typical Zhunites; if it weren’t for their considerable wealth - they are friendly, inviting and content with their existence (not to mention possessing the famous Zhunite attachment to a good meal). They spend their time fulfilling their needs and wants, but not an excessive level. Miarzarians will listen to a musician play, but won’t criticise their work like a Cuscan - they will thank him for investing his time, regardless of the performance’s quality. A Miarzarian will drink a glass of wine (though ale would usually be his first choice) and wouldn’t emphasize its sour aftertaste like an ‘impossible to please’ Marmarran, but rather the dedication that went into growing the fruit and fermenting it to create the product.

Miarzarians are seen as somewhat barbaric and feeble-minded by the monopolising southern states. They have no love for ‘conventional’ art, the depths of the arcane or the splendour of modern poetry and writing. Many of the more metropolitan Zhunites also frown upon the Miarzarian lack of frivolity. Marmarrans especially fail to see the point in the Miarzar way of life, especially the fact that many of them have so much money but never spend to such a degree that an affluent nobleman of the south would. In fact, Miarzarians are vigilant not to become complacent on their wealth. They have all too often seen the dangers of power, with the rich and arrogant ‘elite’ of Zhun mingling amongst them all the time. The Miarzarians therefore place a strong emphasis on hard work, not only to make a living but to keep one’s mind strong and one’s vision clear.

Most Miarzarian men are employed in professions revolving around the Miarzan cattle. Most are farmers of the Tough Hide, though the town also employs many tanners and leatherworkers, though these are considerably less sought after since their kind can be found around most of Zhun. Miarzarian women normally have the role of taking care of the children and household, though employment in the town is not biased because of this, a woman found working the fields isn’t uncommon by any means. Both genders take up professions as tavern (or hall) keepers, and many have set up inns for the passing visitors who are tired from travelling or would like to remain and explore this odd little gem a little more.

Miarzarian men are notably muscular, normally due to the fact that many spend their entire lives wrestling and pulling the great bulls and cows that make them their money. As such, they find the traditional (and rather physical) Zhunite sports very entertaining. The most prestigious of these sports being ‘Miarzarian Wrestling’, a popular twist upon the traditional rules. The sport is so popular in fact that annually the town holds an open competition, with anyone allowed to participate. There is no monetary prize, only the satisfaction of winning, which is more than enough for the life-loving Miarzarians.

The rules of the game - called Syrrum by the locals after the inventor Herstan Syrrum - are quite simple. The two competitors are put in ring about five peds in diameter, normally marked out my chalk. Pushing your opponent out of the ring takes one point away from their total, but the total never can become less than zero. After the two have chalked down their hands (and removed their shirts to impress the women) they begin the intial charge, or Utan (meaning "First"). The two entangle themselves within in each other, as if at first they are becoming intimate. However, one of them is quickly taken to the floor. The first take down gains three points to the score, and being able to pin your opponent down for a further six counts gains you an extra mark to your score. In a standard game their are five charges (the middle three take-downs being worth one point rather than three, only the last charge still remaining at a worth of three points). The winner is decided simply by who has the most points. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The Miarzar have no coat of arms per say, especially since it would rarely be noticed with all the various city banners and mercenary heraldry displayed all over the town. The most noticeable symbol of Miarzan is its exclusive cattle breed, but the second most notable could be the warm smile found in little other places close to the Citystates, who the Miarzar believe have their life priorities all wrong. Return to the top

Climate. The climate of Miarzan is quite pleasant. With the frequent but light showers of rain nourishing the copious grazing land combined with the odd but soothing warm breezes that pass the area on regular occasions, the weather is enjoyable and (much like Miarzan itself) very relaxing. In the summer months, the temperature increase to a high but not uncomfortably sweltering degree, and due to a lack of humidity, these days are usually spent working happily in the fields with the sun on your back and lying on the grass staring at the delicate sky in the evenings. Return to the top

Flora. Miarzan’s flora consists mainly of a whole variety of grasses that the Tough Hide cattle feast upon. With each field having a different mixture of species, the grassy farming land has a beautiful mixture of yellows, browns and greens. Apart from the expanses of grass, Miarzan also has a couple of small orchards sustaining a variety of fruits for the families who own them. Though a huge mixture of fruits is grown, they are usually all in trees high enough to stop rogue cattle sneaking in and stealing them. Return to the top

Fauna. Miarzan’s main fauna is obvious by its name - the Miarzan ‘Tough Hide’ cattle. This beast has an amazingly thick hide that if treated correctly makes brilliantly durable, flexible and comfortable armour. For this reason, it is sought after by many of the Citystates and larger Zhunite settlements. The Miarzan cattle, apart from their hides, also have prominent black horns - even in the female of the breed. The horns on a male Tough Hide tend to be around two peds long by the end of adulthood. When an adolescent boy in Miarzan is to become a man a common ritual is to take a chip of a male Tough Hide’s horn. Later on he pierces this chip and wears it around his neck. Return to the top

Resources. The main resource to the Miarzar is the rich and nourishing pasture which (in turn) gives them their most important (at least financial) asset - the exclusive Tough Hide cattle breed. Apart from this, nothing much else in Miarzan is of use to the outside world. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Miarzan don’t take much delight in stories of fantastic myth and legend, but do find fable and folklore very alluring subjects. Songs and stories that give a moral message, especially to the somewhat rowdy Miarzarian children, are very popular. One such song is that of "The farmer who sold his pride" - teaching the children the importance of hard work and avoiding temptation of an easy, frivolous life:

The Farmer who Sold his Pride

The man stood in the open fields,
His cattle grazing free,
The pregnant cows strolling around,
Mothers soon to be,

The man stood in the open fields,
Back breaking under work,
Arrived the shadows came along,
Silent in their lurk,

The man stood in the open fields,
The shadows lined his pockets,
A couple cows were no price,
For the coins, rings and lockets,

The man left the open fields,
He sat inside his home,
Wasting gold with his friends,
Or wasting gold alone,

The man stayed out of the open fields,
Sleeping in his bed,
Remaining in his luxury,
To soothe deluded head,

The man looked out to the open fields,
His heart was filled with dread,
Bull, cow and calf alike,
Each one there lay dead,

The man now shunned the open fields,
Used gold to fill his day,
But he spent more than his share,
His gold soon went away. Return to the top

 

 Date of last edit 27th Frozen Rivers 1667 a.S.

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