The Guzgëeret Suzerainty is a vast and diverse stretch of land, extending from the rim of the great marble flatlands to the east, the highlands of the Tercoj tribesmen to the west, flanked on the north by the Maliang mountains and on the south – at least until recently – by the inner ocean.
To understand the Suzerainty is to understand Tozia-je-Gëe, or “The Mouth” as it is colloquially known: the biggest city of the entire continent, a festering melting pot of cultures and languages, both miserable and majestic. Tozia-je-Gëe is the home of innumerable slums, as well as of the Palace of the Words, the most sumptuous construction known to men. Both Palace and slums are built around the estuary of the Gëe river, which leads to the other metropolitan byname: “the city of a thousand bridges”. Some of these bridges are made of driftwood, others are of pure marble; such is the nature of the “Jewel of the Gëe”.
No one knows for sure when Tozia was founded, what is known is that at least a thousand years prior to the Metuue (“Winged Fish”) dynasty there were settlements by the mouth of the Gëe. However, these settlements did not amount to much, and the arrival of the first person to unite the Suzerainty was what transformed the collection of small villages by the estuary into a thriving metropolis. Before then, the entire Guzgëeret stretch was partitioned between warring factions, kingdoms that changed in shape and power during the centuries. Although there was a lot of fluidity on each realm national identity, the main cultures could be summarized as follows: the tableland people, known as the Gviin, expert tradesmen who settled around the Gëe and throughout the central plateau; the ravine tribes known as the Taaliang, who inhabited the valleys beneath the Maliang mountains, specially the central dale known as “The Bosom of the Earth”; the fishermen and pirates by the narrow shoreline known as Liinluan; and the constantly quarreling clansmen inhabiting the highlands, known collectively as the Tercoj. A long history of animosity forced all these nations apart, while history registers several conquerors who tried to bridge this gap, the most well-known one being the Blind Whisperer – Fesëat Marij – a nobleman from the tableland who subjugated the entire region except for the Tercoj highland, and held it together for sixty years – his death lead to a civil war that ravished most of the land.
The founder of the Metuue dynasty, Allilia Metuue, was an undistinguished noblewoman from the Liinluan shoreline, whose family had made a living for centuries on pillaging the wreckage of ships from Gviin and the Surhisse city-states. Allilia proved herself early on to be a talented leader, and before her adulthood she had already united the Liinluan people in an autonomous integrated kingdom, a feat never before accomplished. By bringing the vast amount of ships of the Liinluan fishermen and pirates together, she was able to create a fleet that was unheard of in the Guzgëeret stretch, and before long she was terrorizing the Taaliang and Gviin rivers and shoreline. Through skillful negotiations she was able to gather support from the Tercoj people, uniting them in a common goal, quite a feat if the restless nature of the Tercoj is taken in consideration. With a joint army of both Liinluan and Tercoj soldiers backed by her impressive maritime fleet, Allilia invaded the central valleys, where she quickly overpowered the divided militias of the Taaliang. To conquer the plateaus of the Gviin people was a much more arduous chore for Allilia, and it took her twenty years of gruesome battles to overpower the army put together by the tableland king Maarj-je-Tan, who gathered significant support from the marble flatland people – the Vakriúscas. Albeit costly both in blood and time, Gviin fell to Allilia, and in honor of its importance as the mouth of commerce and cultural exchange to all Guzgëeret cultures, it was there that she founded her capital, Tozia-je-Gëe.
Tozia is, in a lot of ways, what helds together the Suzerainty, and what made it possible as a governable transnational entity. There, successive Metuue queens and kings created and educated a public servant class, which was tasked with governing and charging taxes throughout the Suzerainty’s realms. Also, in Tozia was were the Silent Siblings organization was founded, in the last years of Allilia’s reign, and its importance in shaping the Suzerainty was as great as that of the Metuue dynasty itself.
To understand the Siblings is to understand the silent words, a magical power unique to Guzgëeret. Every women and men born in all Guzgëeret cultures, since the beginning of times, have been given a silent name: a name that, when said, sounds are subtracted from the air around the speaker, not added. For a foreigner, when a Silent Name is said, the perceived effect is that the surroundings grow more silent, the lights seem to dim a bit. The speaker is seen to move his lips; yet what comes out of them is not sound, but silence. This rituals have been an ancient practice, and its effects are twofold: one, a woman or man who has been named with a silent name can now learn the silent names of others, both humans, animals, things and actions, and with it gain control over them; two, he is laid bare and controllable by anyone who gains knowledge of his own silent name. Because of this second effect the silent name of a certain person is known only by those who he trusts the most, and it is given by him in a secret ritual by his mother, most of the times even her or his father being barred from learning her or his silent and one true name. To tell someone her or his own silent name is a gesture of enormous trust, and is only justifiable as the one who knows the name can not only harm but also help the owner of said name in a time of need.
Everything in Guzgëeret has a silent name. People from the stretch will even make a case that everything in the world has a silent name, it’s just that those names have not been discovered yet. By discovering the silent name of – let’s say – a rock, a trained silent speaker can now control said rock, and, if she or he controls the silent tongue with proficiency, can move it, alter it and even destroy it.
The ability to speak silent names has been shared among Guzgëeret different cultures since time immemorial, but it was, until the arrival of the Metuue dynasty, a popular knowledge with very little systematization, filled with superstition and incorrect assumptions. The Silent Siblings order was founded by Allilia as an organization dedicated solely to the collection of silent words known throughout the land, as well as developing a deeper understanding of the silent language’s inner workings. Throughout the centuries after the establishment of the Metuue dynasty, the Siblings grew large and strong, their web extending throughout the land and rivaling only the Suzerainty itself in the power it holds over its inhabitants. Most importantly, the Siblings were able to discover that the Silent Language works in a similar way as our world’s programming languages operates: words can be recombined in near limitless variations, allowing for an ample control of reality even with the relatively limited vocabulary known nowadays. The Siblings collected, organized and created a methodology to apply and teach the Silent Language. In today’s Suzerainty, apart from people’s silent names – which the Siblings secret agents learn through bribes, torture or trickery – the names of things or actions are still largely unknown, and the only known way that people get access to this words are through dreams. Consequently, one of the activities the Siblings delve into is to systematically record and organize every dream dreamt in Guzgëeret, having agencies in charge of these recordings in most villages and cities of the land. These agencies then pass the description of these dreams to the central Dream Bureau in Tozia, were Siblings elders analyze and scrutinize these descriptions in search of Silent Names hidden in its fabric. Why silent names of things and actions are passed to humans through dreams is a much debatable topic, the most widely accepted conjecture is that this is a process of “leaking” from Izuurie dreams’ themselves, who is believed to be the creator of the Silent Language itself.
Izuurie, as the reader may know, is worshipped throughout Western Knis with different names and characteristics, her central attributes being that she is the first being, the mother of us all, the one who separated chaos from order and who stands to this day as a living barrier between this two forces, defending her creation. In most of Knis Izuurie worship is complemented by a series of other gods, who may be allies or enemies of Izuurie, and this pantheon takes different forms in different places. In Aquelê there are intricate myths regarding the relationship between Izuurie (known there as Ilhequê) and her sons and daughters, while in the Surhisse each city-state is dedicated to a particular god, with Izuurie (know there as Isuria) being the only one adored in all of them.
In Guzgëeret, before the establishment of the Suzerainty, Izuurie was worshipped alongside other gods, in a manner that seemed to merge Aquelê and Surhisse traditions. However, Allilia started a push that – over the few decades after her death – had all but imbued Guzgëeret with a monotheistic adoration for Izuurie, forbidding other Gods from being worshipped and erecting temples to the Goddess throughout the land. Monotheism fitted like a glove with the overall desire of unity that characterizes the dynastic period, and Allilia and her descendants fashioned themselves as direct offspring from Izuurie, a fact that was backed by the Suzerains unusual control and power using the Silent Language – traditionally known also as “Izuurie’s Tongue”.
It’s hard to tell how much this high proficiency of Allilia and her descendants on the Silent Language have contributed to their political victories, but its large-scale application they introduced – through the Silent Siblings organization – to Guzgëeret has had a huge impact on the land. Probably the most noticeable effect of said application is the creation of reclaimed lands that now constitute more that 2 times the original size of the Guzgëeret stretch: all the old shorelines are gone, and what were before beaches and ports are now no more than viewpoints to the sprawling dry lands below. The magical system that was used to create these dry lands had its seed when Göolaj-je-Allilia – Alilia’s son and by then a fifteen years old boy – dreamt the Silent word for the Inner Sea. Not for water itself, but the actual Silent Name for the Inner Sea, a monumental discovery that – with the newly-found systematic approach to the Silent Language – permitted the implementation over the next few decades of what would become known as the Sea Walls. The Sea Walls are created by having thousands of Silent Sisters and Brothers face the sea everyday and – by saying the necessary Silent Words in unison – create an invisible barrier that keep the sea away from the reclaimed lands. Each year they assign more Siblings to this post and push the Sea Walls further south, permitting an extension of arable land.
After the death of Allilia, Göolaj himself took charge of creating the effort of extending the drylands incrementally year after year, and a few years into his reign the area the Guzgëeret had increased more than 30%, and all of it a mineral-rich soil that was ideal for agriculture. The created dry lands were partitioned between the noble families of the realms and transformed into huge plantations that quickly became the main motor of the Suzerainty economy. By command of Göolaj, a hardy bean known as Asza – similar to our world’s soybean – was the only staple permitted to be planted throughout the dry lands, creating huge monoculture agriculture ribbon surrounding the entire Guzgëeret stretch.
To work in this fields the noblemen had to import slaves from outside the stretch, creating a demand of enslaved people that ravished societies throughout the continent. Enslavement was never a taboo in Guzgëeret, but it was done in a traditional and non-extensive way similar to the old Volta Empire, where slaves had basic rights and were primarily used inside households or in specific military regiments. In the new systems instated in the dry lands, slaves were overworked and underfed, treated rashly by their masters and systemically denied of any rights. This has led to innumerous slave revolts and to an overall social tension that permeates Guzgëeret society nowadays.
The creation of the dry lands had an extremely deep impact in how the Guzgëeret society organized itself, socially, culturally and economically.
Traditionally economic and cultural exchange with the rest of the continent had two entry points to Guzgëeret: the marble flatlands to the west of the Gviin, where the Vakriúscas people would connect Gviin with the rest of Knis by transporting goods and people on their wind-powered land vessels; and the vast shoreline of the stretch, which historically allowed very decentralized trade exchange with ships from all around the continent. Both this methods were dynamic, with trade partners and goods fluctuating throughout history, the only major import that remained constant throughout the ages being wool from the Surhisse city-state; export-wise the sale of U’raat porcelain from the Maliang mountains to the U’soors was also a dependable market regardless of the time period.
The trade traffic through the marble flatlands has remained mostly unchanged with the establishment of the Suzerainty, only growing in size and adding slaves to the commodities being handled by the Vakriúscas. However, the sea trade changed drastically. With the creation of the dry lands there were no way to approach the stretch except by the Tozia-je-Gëe seaway that was purposefully left intact, forcing all of the sea trade to go through the capital. This helped enormously with taxing and organizing the trade of goods, but also took most of the income derived from the sea away from other regions and into the capital itself. This has lead to an extreme impoverishment of the two realms that were the first supporters of the Suzerainty: the Liinluan shoreline and the Tercoj highlands. These realms’ villages and castles are mostly empty by now, with the population having moved either for their respective dry lands – both as workers and slaves – and to Gviin in search of better opportunities.
Globally, Guzgëeret has become the breadbasket of Knis, allowing for a huge population growth throughout the continent, and making asza the staple food of nations both near and far. In terms of power balance, Guzgëeret is seen as force to reckon with by all its neighbors, even though – except by a failed attempt by Göolaj-je-Allilia to invade the Surhisse city-states – it has remained in peace with all of them since its establishment.
In the stretch itself, the creation of the dry lands allowed an enormous accumulation of wealth to those close to the Suzerainty, while at the same time threw in utter misery most of the population. Now a commodity-exporting society, Guzgëeret has seen more change in the last five hundred years since the establishment of the Metuue dynasty then on all its history combined.
Revolts are brewing both in the dry lands, amidst the slaves, and in the impoverished realms of Liinluan and Tercoj. The current Suzerain, Mäarzia-je-Jefno, is as cunning a politician as most of her forefathers, but not only does she have to restrain the possible revolts – she also has to deal with the growing political power of the Silent Siblings, who literally hold the whole economy of the Suzerainty hostage by being the force needed to keep the Sea Walls up.
Dark clouds seem to be approaching, and the Suzerainty may be changed drastically in the coming years.