Marmarra is amongst the larger
Citystates of the Zhunite people,
having very similar levels of influence to that of Hootar, Cusca and Kimbar.
The Marmarran realm itself located on the
Zhunite plains of Western
Nybelmar, their domain spanning most significantly
into the southern and central western portions of the Plains of Zhun,
characterised predominately by its harsh regime and abuse of its citizens. The
multiple vassal settlements and few thousand people under the control of
Marmarra could seem to be nothing more
than puppets of the Witch Queen and the
Marmarran population, the settlements themselves being exploited to keep
the important and affluent in a level of luxury and grandeur they desire and
have become accustomed to.
Though the system works in terms of pleasing the City’s "important" residents as well as not causing threatening levels of tension amongst Marmarra’s neighbours, it seems to be the case that whenever a settlement falls under the control of the Witch Queen, a joy-sucking cloud accompanies, bringing with it such misery that the loquacious Zhunites affected become demoralised shells of their former sociable self.
Consisting notably of "The Witch’s Barb" outpost chain, "The Morose Shores" fishing villages, Leinata Fortress and the Broken Woods, the Marmarran State is a vastly varied realm, most probably a result of the Witch Queens taking an unrefined interest in a variety of local industries.
Name. Though casual internal documents refer to the state as "The Queendo"’, the initial title of the domain is thought to have been "The Illustrious Queendom of Marmarra". Such self-glorifying titles do not transfer to other states well, especially when the self-glorified realm is fiercely unpopular. Usually, areas or regions within the Marmarran sphere of influence are simply referred to as "of Marmarra". It is very rare for the term "Queendom" to be used outside of internal governmental affairs. Generally, no distinction is made between the "City of Marmarra" and the "State of Marmarra" in terms of how they are referred to, though the fact that the City acts as the State’s hub may make distinction somewhat unnecessary.
Location. The "State" of Marmarra (as the name probably suggests) revolves around the metropolis of the same name. The City of Marmarra (the most easterly of the four main Citystates) is located on the southeast portion of the West Nybelmarian Zhun peninsula, in close proximity to the golden Zhunite beaches. The state itself (as is the trouble with the undefined borders of the Citystates) often stretches into the territories of various other settlements (predominately regions under Cuscan control). Handfuls of Marmarran dependencies are nowhere near the main sphere of the City’s control, strategically placed far-flung protectorates. As such, if you were to draw borders illustrating the known limits of the Marmarran domain, you would produce a large, odd, web-like image encompassing a lot of Zhun.
The entry's author however would like to highlight the nature of Marmarra's landscape mentioned above is not as it appeared under the Earth Empire, and reference to entry on the Grand Empire of Krath would be a better source of information on the nature of the domain those periods of history.
Description. Despite the fact that Marmarran territories can be found throughout the rustically idyllic Plains of Zhun, categorised by their brilliant rolling hills and enchanting golden beaches, the Marmarrans themselves would seem to have an element about them that allows them to spoil positive ambience - if not physically then through strong social undertones. Though the terrain and location of the Marmarran territories is incredibly varied, there are certain distinct regions and locations of importance that are worth mentioning. The following regions, though constituting most of the Marmarran domain, are not fully representative of the whole of the Witch Queen's realm, there being many somewhat excluded settlements allied to Marmarra that can be found all around Zhun:
The City of Marmarra
The inherently gloomy metropolis that dominates the eastern Zhunite coast, the City of Marmarra, as the residence of the Witch Queen and the Kogianate Families, is the administrative hub of the state. The unique Marresque architectural style utilised predominately in this city (characterised by narrow, stately, oppressive shapes, by dark colours, and aggressive stylings – spikes, pikes, spires and arches) produces a commune of morose beauty and absent, hollow elegance. For further elaboration on the City of Marmarra and its inner-workings please refer to the main entry.
Despite their depressing title, the Morose Shores are physically quite pleasant. Early in the morning, hours before the unusually late, casual sunrise, the grainy, radiant surface of the southern beaches are disturbed by sparse footsteps of somewhat glum faced fishermen, unenthusiastically dragging back basketfuls of freshly caught fish, creating impressions in the sand that the tumbling waves will quickly mend. As the lazy sun takes its place amongst the few idle clouds embellishing the brilliant blue blanket of sky, the presence of the miserable, deflated individuals becomes increasingly incongruous. As the masses of depressing faces slowly expand as the sun sheds both heat and light on the rustic coastal settlements, the warmth radiated from the fiery globe is absorbed into the insurmountable tragedy conveyed in the eyes of these poor men. The level to which the idyllic setting juxtaposes the disastrous situation of the citizens perhaps heightens the intensity of the calamity. The cheery setting for these people’s hardships only heightens the enormity of their struggle.
The Morose Shores themselves once consisted of a large assemblage of small fishing villages and were amongst the first settlements conquered by the legions of Hiartun Rarkan in Eluda’shi Lashmara’s name. In current climes, the settlements that compose the Morose Shores are perfect examples of the tyrannical Marmarran regime. Though profitable in their own right, the Morose Shores are heavily overtaxed and exploited by the Marmarran officials who "own" them. Though as a collective region the produce of the Morose Shores is of amazing economical importance, the settlements themselves are separated from each other and as such are unable of rejecting the policies imposed by Marmarra, regardless of how ridiculous they may be.
Originally intended to be a chain of temporary outposts to station Marmarran military all over the Plains of Zhun, the region known as "The Witch’s Barb" has now become a patch of strategic strongholds placed at varying distances from the main City. The settlements themselves, noted for their combination of robust, pragmatic design and ominous architectural traits, created stronghold towns of considerable size with aspects of martial discipline and Marmarran obscurity. The strongholds themselves are amalgamations of dark architectural spectacles and strong, functional designs. As with most things Marmarran, the sheer level of juxtaposition found between the purposeful and the whimsical natures of design create an almost crude blending of elegance and simplicity.
The focal point of the Witch’s Barb, Leinata Fortress, is perhaps the most striking example of these mixtures in sophisticated and down-to-earth ideas, where the opposites converge into one point. Ornately decorated hedonists mingle with dutiful soldiers, whilst the sound of the delicate harp becomes a faint clamour underneath the clattering of the martial drums, the elaborately detailed spires of Marresque constructs beginning to dance with the black smoke billowing from the numerous armouries located in the cities "undergrowth" below the spiralling "canopies". Though Marmarra in essence is a melting pot of a variety of cultural influences, the near absurd nature of "Design" and "Functionality" are coming together in and outright abrasive, conflicting manner.
The largest remaining forested area in the plains of Zhun; the Broken Woods are perhaps second only to the City of Marmarra in suspicion and aversion. The woods themselves are somewhat reminiscent of the warped Jungles of Shar (which were corrupted by the cataclysm), full of dark, barren branches, bizarre, entwining roots and creepers - as well as being an area with the largest known concentration of Gaisho spirits. Such forests, filled with malicious spirits and lifeless flora, have little to offer in terms of natural resource or economic worth - but their worth to matters of the arcane is invaluable.
Lyrias Meurtian, the first known visitor to the Broken Woods (or at least the only one who reportedly came out alive), studied the Gaisho spirits meticulously for years. Though this had an ultimately detrimental affect on his health and physical appearance, as well as not doing his sanity any favours, Lyrias was able to create the foundations for the Gaishen magic system. Though through the generations Marmarrans have greatly increased the capabilities of the Gaishen system and its manipulation of Gaisho spirits, the potential of Gaisho themselves has not been fully exploited. As such, despite the danger, expeditions of Marmarran Sorcerers to the area are incredibly common. Though many perish in their attempts to expand their magical scope, the conclusions drawn from the systematic experiments in this area constantly improve the limits of the Gaishen system.
Similarly to the Morose Shores, the climate and terrain of the Heartless Fields does not adequately reflect the level of hardship faced by the residents. The rolling, grassy hills of the raw plains would seem to have been tamed by the clean-cut blade of agriculture. Though the undulating terrain has been morphed into densely packed groves of olives or relatively spacious rows of cattle pasture, the bucolic developments seem to mesh seamlessly with the undisturbed natural surroundings, the unkept tall grass and the coppices of roses complimenting each other flawlessly.
Unlike the depressing yet vibrant beach of the Morose Shores, the somewhat dejected expressions and mannerisms of the growers, keepers and pickers does not seem to distract from the beautiful, tranquil surroundings. Though the monthly arrival of a Marmarran military contingent to collect the Witch Queen’s taxes does tend to spoil the atmosphere. Since the soldiers choose to ignore obvious pathways, favouring to walk in a straight line and slash at any foliage in their way, the frequent visits of the army tend to leave the environment looking quite mangled and neglected- a look much more fitting to the area’s mood.
The produce of the Heartless Fields, though it varies from farm to farm, consists predominately of olives (both black and green), olive oil, rose wine and beef cattle. Though some choose to keep cereal crops or to cultivate fruit orchards, regardless of specifics, the produce of the area is another important facet of the Marmarran economy.
Coat of Arms/Sign.
The ever-recognisable "Eye" motif is the most recurring symbol that can be used
to identify vassal settlements to the
Marmarran state. The design itself has a
beautiful yet eerie feel to it. The thin, elliptical shape it assumes conjures
up images of arrogant beauty as well as fear-invoking scrutiny. In many
instances, it has an almost soul penetrating quality, the almost reptilian, thin
pupil staring at you in an unsettling manner. However, certain territories or
settlements are the private property of the Kogianate families, such as the
Meladaria Outpost in "The Witch’s Barb" region, which is the property of the
Rarkan family. In these situations, the family crest (such as the Meurtian
snake) is used as a coat of arms. Though Kogianates act as the governing bodies
on these areas, they are still considered to be under the Witch Queen’s
People and Culture. Though predominately Zhunite, the origins of the Marmarrans stretch into a variety of other tribes, including the ancient Lillivear and Anpagans, as well as a handful of Daedhirians for good measure. As such, the main difference in the people existing under the rule of the Witch Queen would seem to be solely determined by their place in the social hierarchy, their social standing defining their outlook and behaviour. Despite the rich heritage and the conglomeration of tribes that make up "Marmarrans", few noticeable cultural elements can be found. Certain aspects of Krean nature seem to have transferred into the Marmarran psyche (namely arrogance, hedonism and ambition), though this by no means results in the Marmarrans creating a civilisation of equal grandeur.
Although many of the denizens of the Queendom are Zhunite in blood, this generally is only noticeable physically rather than through cultural attitude. Zhunites under Marmarran rule no longer have the typical loquacious, warm-hearted aspects they are famed for - though the traits replacing them seem to vary depending on the individual’s status within Marmarra.
Higher ‘class’ Marmarrans (particularly those living in the inner city and central metropolitan areas) are usually characterised by their self-obsessed and self-indulgent nature. More often than not, they live lavishly excessive lifestyles at the expense of extortionate taxes and broken spirits. Though there are a handful of these Marmarrans who actually contribute in some way to society (if you can consider finding new ways to exploit, defeat and out-do others a "contribution"), many are disinterested, frivolous and arrogant people who generally have very little talent besides vicious ambition (though their malice and absence of mercy or compassion often helps them achieve their aims through less than savoury means). However, many Marmarrans, despite having incredible pride in themselves and in their nation, live in constant fear of the Witch Queen and her generally capricious decisions. Wherever you are in society, no one is above her terrifying inspection.
Lower class Marmarrans (namely those living in the poorer districts of the metropolis, but more so those of conquered settlements) seem to exist to fulfill the whims of their superiors. Their lives are spent in constant labour under the ever-present scrutiny of Royal Appraisers, their hours of backbreaking effort resulting in nothing more than the bare minimum they need to survive. These people lead tragic, sombre existences - either choosing to barely survive on what remains of their harvests (after taxation) or opting to face the Witch Queen’s harsh punishments for disobedience. Though of practically identical racial backgrounds, the two people are very different. Both however seem to have lost the warming, welcoming nature that the Zhunites are known for. At any rate, the only trait that seems to bring the two classes together is ever-present fear of what course the Witch Queen wishes your fate to take.
The only real influence of the Lillivear in Marmarran society and culture is that of one individual, Eluda’shi Lashmara, the first Witch Queen. The woman herself brought with her a great sense of ambition, as well as a ruthless attitude towards servitude. Eluda herself was rarely pleased, though failure to comply with what she requested usually resulted in excessively cruel punishments. Though physically this ancient tribe’s culture didn’t actually transpose into Eluda’s beliefs (since she herself had radically different ideas to what was the Lillivear norm), the grandeur of civilisation that the Krean had achieved most likely was a huge contributor to the attitude of the Marmarran people - setting them apart from the other Citystates quite significantly.
However, Eluda’s affiliation with Marmarra, regardless of whether or not she is actually dead, has ended. As such, despite the crucial influence that one Lillivear had on Marmarra's creation, one should not assume that the god-like Krean tribe has anything to do with the Citystate in the current age.
Practically all of the Anpagans that existed under Eluda’s rule were refugees, seeking safety from the turmoil of the Anis-Anpagan Republican Wars. Since a majority of them were supporters of monarchy in nature (fleeing from those who wished to democratise the nation) they quickly adapted to serving under the Witch Queen. Being a sea-faring nation by nature, Eluda’shi was quick to attempt to create naval fleets to assert Marmarra's presence in the seas. Though Marmarra still maintains a navy of its own, it is quite small in comparison to those of the other Citystates, and miniscule in comparison to that of the Anpagan Republic’s.
Though most Anpagans mixed blood with the indigenous Zhunite residents of the region, there are still a number of pureblood Anpagan families, predominately residing in the larger harbour towns (usually as governing bodies). Though they consider themselves as Marmarran, the influence of Anpagan culture in these settlements is quite strong; the inherent laziness of the towns, the unusually slow-paced nature of work and a slightly smaller dosage of malice in these places making them distinctly different.
Perhaps the greatest allies of Marmarra, the Daedhirians have always had a significant presence in Marmarran society (particularly in terms of magic). Despite this, very few Daedhirians actually chose to live as a part of the Witch Queen’s realm. Those that did acted usually as high-ranking agents under Royal jurisdiction or were employed as magical tutors (of both Daedhirian and Marmarran arcane pursuits). In instances where the Witch Queen herself was unavailable (which was often) a trusted Daedhirian teacher would usually educate the Thorns (prospective Witch Queens) in her absence.
As one of the Zhunite Citystates,
Marmarra itself has the main metropolis
itself as the core of the domain with a variety of other regions, settlements
and dependencies branching off in various directions. The reigning Witch Queen
is, for all intents and purposes, considered to be the absolute authority of
Marmarra. In theory, all decisions
remotely based on governing procedure, be they economic, martial, legal or
otherwise, need her approval. However, as Witch Queens are generally known for
their lack of interest in matters of government that have little impact on their
personal pursuits they generally nominated others to act on their behalf. Those
with the authority to act on the Witch Queen’s behalf are issued with the "Black
Article" a scroll on black parchment that declares the owner’s power, signed by
the Witch Queen. Forgeries of such documents under
Marmarran law result in a prompt
hollowing. Genuine proprietors of the Black Article are, second to the Witch
Queen, the highest form of government and are often attributed with the same
fear felt for her (though entourages that generally accompanied them often aided
in their frightening image).
Second to ‘Black Agents’ (which theoretically act under the direct control of Witch Queen) are "Governors". Though many governors themselves in fact did have Black Articles endowing them with relevant powers, governors themselves are in fact nominated by Alla’garam diplomats through elections to oversee dependencies from a political viewpoint. However, despite having access to a whole variety of official documents and receiving considerable wealth, the powers warranted by this position are very minor if not accompanied with Black Article authority. As such, for a governor to act efficiently, regardless of the majority in the Alla’garam election, the Witch Queen must approve them personally.
The lowest member of the governmental hierarchy was that of the Alla’garam politicians. Despite the fact that they are amongst the wealthiest and socially affluent men and women in the city, they are in practice nothing more than glorified critics. Their only relative importance to physical affairs being the concerns that they bring to the "Council of Five" between the Witch Queen, the four Kogianate Housemasters and one representative of Alla’garam, though even then their voice holds little weight.
Additionally, separate from mainstream governmental affairs, are Kogianate governors. Kogianate governors account for (most usually) settlements that act as the private domain of the Kogianate families (Rarkan, Meurtian, Tisare and Venraius). Though these areas are still officially considered as a part of the Queendom, they act relatively independent of conventional Marmarran rule. The influence of Black Agents in such areas is additionally quite miniscule, the Kogianate governors themselves in practicality only needing to answer to the Witch Queen herself.
Climate. The State of Marmarra is actually subject to beautiful surroundings. In fact, if you were to simply base your impression of the state on its climes, it would be a pleasant place to live. Situated in the Plains of Zhun, an area of temperate winters and sun-filled summers, the ambience that is the backdrop for Marmarra’s activity is quite ironic considering their somewhat sinister nature.
The hottest part of the Marmarran domain are the southerly Morose Shores, bathed in warmth from the earliest days of spring to what is mid-autumn for the rest of the plains; it seems such a shame for these sundrenched landscapes to be ruined by the unforgiving rule of Marmarra.
Though not as hot all-year-round as the Morose Shores, the Heartless Fields (with their frequent refreshing rain showers) are by no means unpleasant areas. However, as seems to be the case for most areas under Marmarran jurisdiction, the Witch Queen seems to have a gift for casting a proverbial cloud over the stunning terrain. The dreariest part of the Marmarran domain is in fact the city itself, though a Cuscan would remark this because there are so many cold hearts in one place.
Economy. A substantial amount of Marmarra’s income comes from taxes, most notably the extortionate rates forced upon the relatively simple folk that are slaves to the Marmarran regime. As perhaps a testament to the typical Marmarran lack of concern, the taxes imposed on most of Marmarra’s dependencies lead many hard-working agriculturists and labourers (who do generate a lot of profit) into the lowest depths of poverty. However, a nation cannot run on tax alone. Unlike most of the other Citystates, Marmarra choose to dabble in a variety of Zhunite industries rather than focusing and honing one. However, due to the strict requirements dictated by the Witch Queen’s regime, whatever the particular produce is, it is practically always of high quality.
Marmarrans, due to their ambivalence in choosing an industry to concentrate on, utilise a variety of natural resources. Valuable shipbuilding wood was the main resource that allowed the early periods of Marmarra, though unsurprisingly, Eluda’shi and Mila Venraius (the Kogian who proposed the idea) grew greedy in their pursuits and felled all the fragments that remained of the Zhunite coastal forests. Nowadays, most of the natural resources that the Marmarrans utilise are distinctly similar to those used by the rest of the Zhunites (consisting of a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, honey, poultry, cattle and seafood) though the variety that they choose to sample is amazing.
Due to the systematic overworking of producers, a huge surplus of high quality goods exist even after the voracious Marmarrans have taken their share. In most instances though, Marmarrans themselves are much more interested in items that are harder to attain than those which are readily available, leaving a lot left to trade. Similarly to other Zhunite nations, Marmarrans are noted for the production of olive oil and wine (using both grapes and roses), though they also have a small monopoly on the fish and shellfish markets of the eastern coasts. Additionally, with the collapse of the Krean Empire, Marmarrans are now the largest producer of poisons on the west of the continent, though the substantial lack of suitable flora has hindered them significantly in comparison. Due to an inability of outsiders to access the Shar peninsula post-cataclysm, many of the most potently poisonous plants and venomous animals have been neglected from conventional sale.
Since Marmarra has a reputation for being "a band of deceitful sorcerers with only their interests at heart", it is unsurprising that many are reluctant to trade with them. In fact, if it were not for the high quality of Marmarran goods, it is likely that no one at all would wish to exchange with whatsoever. However, most large (and respectable) nations of Zhun still refuse to trade directly with the Marmarrans, even if it is only to preserve their image. However, the Faen act as a useful intermediary between Marmarra and their neighbours. Through the Faen men, Marmarrans purchase large amounts of rizjo wine and are also relatively large customers for exotic foodstuffs and animals (to keep as pets). As aforementioned, the Evalaris and Sharosar nations are vital to the Marmarran poison industry, but the two do also limit their open trade with the Marmarrans, also opting to use the Faen as a neutral party. It should be recognised however that Marmarrans choose to live very self-indulgent lifestyles and though these are the conventional areas to spend your disposable wealth, practically anything that takes one’s fancy can be procured somehow.
Military. The Marmarran military itself is predominately a land-based force. Though after the influx of Anpagan refugees attempts at producing a naval force were made, these were significantly less fruitful than predicted (the remains of the usually navy being used to hijack and pillage independent vessels, masquerading as pirates rather than real Marmarrans). Marmarran soldiers are generally (as individuals) quite inexpensive, most standard foot soldiers being grossly unequipped in comparison to more militaristic nations (such as the Karakanites). What the Marmarran army lacks in substance, it makes up for in quantity. Though handfuls of the many Marmarran legions (such as the "Faceless Legion" or the Ashen Palace Household guard) are highly skilled, challenging opponents, a majority of the Marmarran army’s function is dealing with the public (or rather scaring them into submission). Marmarrans are great proponents of social and political warfare, be it against foreign foes or their own people.
Marmarrans themselves have a great affinity for ranged combat, at least half of a general fighting force consisting of archers. These black-fletched masses of arrows block out the sun before raining down upon opposing formations, which even if ineffective at least scare the opponents. Even when the enemy comes close, Marmarrans still seem to keep as far away from the enemy as possible, predominately using spears, halberds and a variety of other exotic polearms