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Holy Queendom of Brellach

Holy Queendom of Brellach

Flag
Her Favoured Children, of Her Favoured Lands

Capital: Sheoth
and largest city
Official language: Standard Brellachi
and national language
Religion: Church of Her Divine Glory
Demonym: Brellachi
Government: Absolute monarchy
Divine Queen: Lyta I
Most Devout Advisor of Her Court: Fellis
Jessina

Formation: 1056 A.D.
Area
Total: 16,581,185 km2
Water (%): 1.75
Population
Total (2018): 22,016,521
Density: 1.33/km2
GDP
Total: $150.042 billion NSD
Per capita: $6,815 NSD
Gini: 37.2
HDI (2018): 0.561
Currency: Drake ()
The Holy Queendom of Brellach, commonly known as the Holy Queendom or simply Brellach, is a sovereign nation based on the Divine Isles, an archipelago consisting of one large landmass and several islands, situated in the middle of the Ocean of Panmenah. The capital of Sheoth, which is also the nation's largest city, is home to almost 200,000 of the country's population.

With a population of just over 22 million, occupying an area of 16 million kilometres squared, Brellach has a remarkably low population density, among the lowest in the world.

It is governed by a matrilineal absolute monarchy, presently ruled by Divine Queen Lyta.

Brellach is particularly notable for a large proportion of its population still practicing nomadic, 'primitive' lifestyles. Around 60% of Brellachi are thought to be members of one of the many nomadic tribes that roam the country, whom shun Western consumerism in favour of what they believe to be a more natural and devout lifestyle.

Much of Brellach's small economy is driven by the 40% of people whom have taken up permanent residence in one of the few permanent settlements in the country.

Etymology



'Brellach' is the Anglicised, phonetic spelling of the country's official name. It is an Old Brellachi word, or rather two words combined - 'Brel', meaning 'land' or 'space', and 'ach', derived from 'acha', which variably means 'unity', 'together', or 'at peace', the latter probably being the intended meaning.

The name was first used in 1056 A.D. when The Compact was signed, which united the tribes and city-dwellers of Brellach and formed the Holy Queendom. Prior to that date, city-dwellers were known as the Sheothi; Sheoth was their capital city, and the name of the original tribe that settled there. This term is sometimes still used by tribals to refer to city-dwellers.

Brellach is pronounced 'Brell-ak', with the demonym, Brellachi, being pronounced 'Brell-ack-ee'.

The archipelago as a whole, geographically speaking, is known as the 'Divine Isles' internationally, though to the Brellachi they are only known as 'Her Favoured Lands'. 'Brellach' has come to refer to the geographical landmass as much as the sovereign nation in modern times.

History



Artist's impression of the City
of Sheoth, circa 1056 A.D.
Sheoth was a source of strife
in Brellach for centuries.
Since prehistory, Brellach has been home to an ethnically unique population of nomads, who formed cohesive, interfamilial tribes around 10,000 years ago. These tribes were largely peaceful, and never remained in one place for too long for fear of over-hunting an area and causing an imbalance in nature. Some larger tribes, such as that of Sheoth, rose to prominence in the early 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., and established sedentary settlements near the middle of the Enjaen River, beginning with what is now known as the City of Sheoth. This city, the oldest in the country, today serves as the capital of Brellach, though it originally represented the first significant transition from hunter-gathering to agriculture for the Brellachi people.

The city of Sheoth was the focal point of violence for at three least centuries after it was founded, as more traditional tribes became angered by what they saw as the destruction of the natural order, and launched repeated offensives against the city, ostensibly in service of their goddess. The tribe of Sheoth, now with the first established economy in Brellach, was able to fortify the city and mass produce weapons, and formed the first organised military in Brellach. This army, fueled by a constant stream of farmed food and blacksmith-forged weapons, was consistently able to drive back the assaults by the other tribes despite being greatly outnumbered.

Brellach returned to peace throughout the 8th and 9th centuries A.D. until Sheoth began to expand, building new settlements elsewhere and encroaching on hunting trails that the nomadic tribes needed to survive. By this point, the tribe of Sheoth was no longer considered to be a 'tribe' at all, and all of the remaining nomadic tribes united against them in an attempt to preserve their own way of life. Towards the end of the 9th century, the largest battle in Brellachi history took place across the Aichan Savannah and the surrounding areas, where tens of thousands of lives were lost and little ground was gained on either side.

First Divine Queen, Sumi

Sumi I was the First Divine Queen of Brellach. Her birth date and origins are unknown, though it is known that she was roughly 15 years old when she acceded in the early 1050s A.D.

Known in modern Brellachi literature as 'She Who Was Sent by Her to Save Brellach', Sumi was proclaimed to be the Avatar of Her Divine Glory by the Priesthood at around 15 years old (as all subsequent queens have been), and was immediately recognised as the Divine Queen by the Sheothi people. She was crowned as the war between Sheoth and its cities and the nomadic tribes reached its zenith, and her first task was to bring about an end to hostilities. According to official history, she tirelessly visited each tribe leader in turn over the next two or three years, and each one promptly recognised her legitimacy as the Avatar of Her Divine Glory. According to myth, she did this by performing miracles for the tribe leaders, and by demonstrating her reverence for their ways of life, but historians suggest that it was probably due to a combination of the influence of the Priesthood, overtures of peace to a war-weary group of people, and a Sheothi guarantee of tolerance for the tribal way of life.

In 1056 A.D. she was able to summon all of the warring tribe leaders to what is now known as the Grove of the First Divine Queen - which was considered neutral ground, as it was a sacred site for both parties. After intense negotiations, Sumi brokered a treaty between the city-dwellers and the tribes in 1056 A.D., forming the Holy Queendom of Brellach in the process, under the terms of The Compact, which established a peace that has lasted until the present day. The position of Divine Queen of Brellach was cemented in its current form by this document, and the terms contained within required the tribes to venerate the Divine Queen as the Avatar of Her Divine Glory. In exchange, it required the Divine Queen to protect the ways of life of the Brellachi tribes, even at the expense of advancing the Holy Queendom's interests, and essentially compelled 'city-dwelling' Brellachi to 'live and let live' when it came to the tribals, and vice-versa.

Due to her being the first in a line of queens believed to be living embodiments of their goddess, and her role in forming the Holy Queendom, The Compact, and a millennium-long peace, the Brellachi people have elevated Sumi to near-legendary status, and even Divine Queen Lyta is said to revere her. Believed as she is to have been the first incarnation of Her Divine Glory to walk upon the Earth among mortals since mythic times, she also has a great significance in the mythology of the Church of Her Divine Glory, comparable to that of Jesus Christ in Christendom.

Since The Compact

Since the signing of The Compact, Brellach has been at peace both internally and externally. Developments such as the Industrial Revolution and increasingly urbanised populations largely passed the Brellachi by, with industry in particular being viewed with scorn. It is only in the past 50 or 60 years that the population has become somewhat more urbanised, and even now it is mainly spread out across the countryside.

Divine Queen Lyta has been one of the more revolutionary leaders in recent centuries; since coming to power in 2010 she has spearheaded a number of reforms, including a partial modernisation of the military, the establishment of rudimentary public healthcare for the first time, and reformation of the nation's highly insular foreign policy.

Climate and geography



Thanks to its massive size, Brellach's climate varies considerably from one region to the next. The westernmost areas experience a largely temperate climate, with deciduous trees, warm summers, chilly winters, and fairly regular and consistent rainfall. Stretching south from there, dominating the southern regions and stretching up the east coast is a more Mediterranean climate that is pleasantly warm and dry all year round; this is the region in which the capital of Sheoth is located. The central region is dominated by dry savannah and desert, and experiences low rainfall and high temperatures all year, while the northern areas consist primarily of steppes - low-lying, cold, dry grasslands devoid of trees, and experiencing the lowest temperatures in Brellach.


The Mound, the tallest point in
the country, rises 622m above
the west Brellachi landscape.
Brellach is notably devoid of mountains. There are some hilly regions, particularly in the north and the west, where individual peaks can reach upwards of nearly half a kilometer, but little mountainous terrain. The highest single point in the country is only 622m above sea level, a feature named - literally translated - 'The Mound'.

Temperatures vary drastically from one region to the next. The centralised desert and savannah regions experience highs of 40-50C all year round. The Mediterranean regions experience highs of ~40C in summer and lows of ~15C in winter. The temperate regions in the west have a climate similar to north-western Europe, while the northern steppe regions are consistently the coldest in the country, rarely receiving temperatures much above 10C.

Most precipitation falls in the west, with some in the south at predicable times of the year. Rainfall in the northern and central regions is low, however, which both receive less than 100mm of rain per year.

Evidence suggests that that the Divine Isles gradually emerged from the ocean in the form of an ancient, massive, mildly-oblique shield volcano, formed by consistent eruptions over the course of millions of years. It has since been further flattened by erosion since becoming dormant. Given that there is, in fact, a very mild slope all the way from the coasts to the rough centre of Brellach (the central Aichan Savannah is roughly 300m above sea level on average), and Brellach does not overlap with any extant fault lines, this also seems to be the most plausible explanation for the lack of significant mountains on the huge island.

However, the government, church, and most residents of Brellach only accept the creation myth told in their scripture, which claims that Her Divine Glory created it apart from the rest of the world, intending for it to be her sanctuary, or 'favoured lands'.

Settlements are distributed all across the islands, though the central regions of Aichan are mostly populated by tribes, with only one recognised town known to exist. Most population density is located in the southern and western regions. By far the most heavily populated city in Brellach is Sheoth, the capital, which has a population of over 200,000. It is also the most advanced in terms of services, amenities, and economy, which is gradually becoming more service-based.


The official map of the Holy Queendom of Brellach.

Demographics



The official population figure for the Holy Queendom was estimated to be 22,016,521 based on a census conducted by Her Court in late 2018. The government admits that it is impossible to know precisely how many Brellachi there are, however, due to the nomadic and insular nature of the majority of the population. Some tribes refuse to participate in any aspect of Brellachi society, particularly those tribes that roam the central savannah region.

Almost 60% of the population belongs to one of those nomadic tribes, or at least live 'off the grid'. A traditional way of life that has existed continuously in Brellach for millennia, these tribals eschew modern civilisation and technology, preferring to live traditional, natural lifestyles, rarely staying in one place for too long, and living entirely off the land. They avoid all contact with the government, though it is known that they all revere the Divine Queen and recognise her status as the Avatar of Her Divine Glory. Many of the tribes also avoid contact with each other.

This is the primary reason for the dramatic income inequality figures in Brellach, and the lower-than-expected GDP - nearly 60% of people in Brellach do not contribute to the economy in any meaningful way. On the other hand, none of them utilise state-funded services, so they do not require any expenditure by the government. For similar reasons, Brellachi infant mortality rates and standards of living are rated as being low, mainly because these nomadic tribes do not avail themselves of medical care or education services.

The remaining 40% of Brellachi are categorised as 'city-dwellers' by the Brellachi government, and either live within urban centres or in nearby agricultural regions. An estimated 30% of city-dwellers work in agriculture, though there is a growing service industry in the major Brellachi settlements.

With over 50% of Brellachi being under the age of 30, it is a youthful population, consisting almost entirely of ethnic Brellachi. Ethnic Brellachi are fair-skinned, of average height, and have predominantly brown, blonde, or red hair. There are no statistically significant representatives of non-native ethnic groups in the country, and obtaining Brellachi citizenship is difficult.

Language

Standard Brellachi is the official language of the Holy Queendom, and the primary language of most citizens. It evolved in geographic isolation, and linguists cannot link its origins to any other known language. Its formal alphabet consists of 197 'flourished pictographs' (such as symbol on the Brellachi flag, the Glyph of Light) which represent a number of objects and concepts. These pictographs can be be combined with other icons in different ways to form more complex words or sentences.

It is exceptionally rare for new pictographs to be incorporated to the alphabet, with only three new ones having been added in the last four centuries, which means that new 'words' must be created by using unique combinations of existing icons. This often results in the new object or concept simply being described in a literal sense. It is for this reason that direct translations from Brellachi to English tend to seem unusually specific, descriptive, or cumbersome; the name of the headquarters of their legislature, for example, is translated into English literally as 'The Building of Her Court's Residence', while the Brellachi term for 'computer' translates literally as 'The Machine That Counts on its Own'.

These linguistic peculiarities make it difficult for native Brellachi speakers to learn foreign languages, and it is similarly difficult for foreigners to learn Brellachi. These difficulties, combined with Brellach's political, economical, and geographical isolation, mean that Brellachi is a language not widely spoken abroad, nor are foreign languages commonly spoken within the Holy Queendom. Only a fraction of a percentage of Brellachi claim to speak English as a fluent second language, and most of them work either in government, or for one of the few businesses in Brellach with international ambitions. Speakers of foreign languages besides English (which is considered by Brellachi to be the global lingua franca) are statistically insignificant, and measured in single digits.

Some tribes, especially the more insular ones, are known to have their own dialects of Brellachi, some of which can be difficult even for a Standard Brellachi speaker to understand. Some tribes do not have a written language and never come into contact with society, and accordingly their dialect has deviated so extensively that they may be unique languages in their own right. Other tribes, particularly those that have at least semi-regular contact with wider society, have kept their dialects virtually the same as Standard Brellachi, with only minor pronunciation differences.

The literacy rate is low, rated at less than 30%, primarily as children from the tribes do not tend to enrol in schools.

Religion

Main article: Brellachi spirituality


The Brellachi Glyph of Light, the
symbol of the Brellachi faith and
the nation as a whole.
Commonly called Brellachi spirituality by foreigners, almost all Brellachi citizens - including tribals - are adherents of the native religion of Brellach, which they simply call the Church of Her Divine Glory, administrated by the Priesthood of Her Divine Glory. The Church plays a significant role in Brellachi society, such as selecting - and raising - all past and future Divine Queens. Tenets of the Church can be found in all aspects of Brellachi life, from politics and the economy to customs and the legal system. The symbol of their goddess, known only as Her Divine Glory, is used on the Brellachi flag, and it is also the symbol used on the Divine Queen's pendant (their equivalent to a crown).

The Church of Her Divine Glory posits that Her Divine Glory is responsible for all of creation (see also: Brellachi creation myth), and that all of nature is simply an extension of her form. She is typically described as being "the most perfect and beautiful being in existence"; she is credited with omnipotence and omniscience, and is said to possess "compassion and wisdom beyond all human understanding". It is believed by the Brellachi that she maintains a presence on Earth in the form of the Divine Queen, whom is described as being an "avatar" of the goddess. The Brellachi, therefore, believe that their Divine Queen is the most perfect woman alive, and she is worshipped as a living goddess.

Adherents of the Church are expected to respect their goddess' creation, including their own bodies and the natural environment. They believe their goddess has given them a set of moral codes by which to live their lives, which are mostly similar to those of other faiths; no killing, no stealing, and similar. They also believe that they have a unique requirement to defend Brellach, "her favoured land", "from the dark". An intrinsic respect for - and desire to be immersed in - the natural world pervades most Brellachi sensibilities, and is perhaps directly responsible for the nomadic nature of so much of the population.

It is said that the Brellachi are 'her favoured children, in her favoured land', hence why she maintains her avatar in Brellach. Brellachi couldn't be said to be 'god fearing', however, as their deity has never been portrayed as having a vengeful or malicious side. Instead they seek to win her adoration much like a child seeking the approval of their parents. They believe that acts of benevolence, generosity, and kindness bring joy to Her Divine Glory, which in turn increases the love she has for her people. On the other hand, selfish or malevolent acts bring her great sadness, and Brellachi believe that things such as natural disasters happen as a result of this. Not as a deliberate punishment on her part, but as an unintentional side-effect - akin to a tear falling on and killing an insect.

There is no government legislation that requires Brellachi citizens adhere to the Church, nor are there laws against following other religions, although the government does not allow churches from other faiths to be built within 'her favoured land'. Rather, a social convention exists amongst the Brellachi themselves, who simply find it incomprehensible that anybody wouldn't revere their goddess.

Tribes

Most Brellachi are members of one of the thousands of nomadic tribes that roam the country. The exact customs and traditions of these tribes vary from one to the next, but commonalities include matrilineal hierarchy, an emphasis on community, and strict adherence to the tenets of the Church of Her Divine Glory. All tribes are known to recognise the legitimacy of the Divine Queen, whom they acknowledge and revere as the Avatar of Her Divine Glory, even though they choose to remain outside of Brellachi society for the most part.


A female leader of Tribe Roro,
from Western Brellach.
The bulk of these tribes are nomadic, and live entirely off the land. Men are expected to hunt and forage, while women lead and organise the tribes and promote veneration of the goddess. They take only what they need to survive from the land, as their faith dictates, and greed is a largely alien concept to them. In essence, the tribes are the ultimate communists, with their only consideration being the well-being of the group. They have no understanding of currency or commerce; if one tribe needs something that another has in abundance, it is simply given to them freely, with trades being extremely uncommon. In the rare event that a tribal enters a city, city-dwellers are expected to give what they can to those in need - it is illegal for them to attempt to charge the tribal for anything, which is considered a form of exploitation under Brellachi law.

It is very common, particularly for those tribes that operate principally in the Aichan Savannah or in the southern regions of Brellach, for tribe members to live their entire lives without any form of clothing, and for many tribes the knowledge of how to make clothes has been lost. Only tribes in the colder northern areas, and a few in the temperate western region, are known to wear clothing with any degree of regularity, purely due to the lower temperatures these regions experience.

All of these traditions are influenced by their faith. Tribals are known to consider themselves "the purest of Her Divine Glory's favoured people" - with the exception of the Divine Queen herself - and consider city-dwellers to have "lost their way". Immersed in nature as fully as possible, Brellachi tribals live their lives exactly as taught by the Church of Her Divine Glory. City-dwellers sometimes request to spend time among local tribes in an effort to be closer to their goddess.

Rather than the tribes being considered an inconvenience or a nuisance as they might in other countries, Brellachi value their presence in the country. They believe that having the tribes reside in Brellach pleases their goddess, who would otherwise be upset at how many Brellachi had started to live in cities, distancing themselves from nature in the process. Divine Queen Vala III, ruler of Brellach from 1942 - 1999, said of the tribes: "None but the tribes know the absolute truth of Her Divine Glory's Creation. Selfless and devout, those of the tribes are as much a part of nature as nature is of Her Divine Glory. Their presence in Brellach continues to be welcome, for their presence is welcomed by Her Divine Glory, to the benefit of us all. We should thank and honour them for staying the path from which that so many have strayed."

The tribes and their ways of life are protected in law by The Compact, the oldest functioning legal document in Brellach. Signed in 1056 A.D. by tribe leaders of the era and the first Divine Queen of Brellach, it establishes the roles and responsibilities of both parties in relation to one another. Most importantly, it precludes the Brellachi government from interfering with the lifestyle of the tribes, as well as requiring tribes to be respectful of any Brellachi settlements they may come across. In return for this protection, the tribes acknowledge the legitimacy of the Divine Queen of Brellach as the Avatar of Her Divine Glory, and also agree to lend their support to the state in the event that Brellach is threatened by outside forces.

The Compact also compels the Divine Queen to intervene if any state activities have a negative impact on the tribes. The most recent time this occurred was in 2013, when Divine Queen Lyta overturned the decision of the then-mayor of the savannah-bordering town Aichen-boke to grant a local farmer permission to extend his farm. This extension would have overlapped the hunting grounds of a nearby tribe, and they petitioned the Queen to intervene. The ruling was successfully overturned, and Divine Queen Lyta personally visited the tribe leader to offer her apologies.

Politics



Brellach is an absolute monarchy, with a matrilineal Divine Queen assuming power over all matters of government, served by an advisory institution and legislature that translates literally as 'Her Court'.

Divine Queen of Brellach

Revered as the earthly avatar of their goddess, Her Divine Glory, the Divine Queen is the absolute ruler of Brellach. Though powerful, Brellachi queens have historically tended to be significantly less autocratic than most monarchs in the world. Despite their powers, they also have many limitations upon their day-to-day lives.

Rather than being a hereditary position, the Divine Queen is selected as an infant by the Priesthood of Her Divine Glory. As the incumbent Divine Queen reaches the end of her life, the priests begin a protracted ritual known as scrying. The nature of this ritual is a closely-guarded secret, but is believed to involve mild hallucinogenics and deep meditative states. During this ritual, the priests are supposedly informed of the location of the next avatar - known at this point as the Divine Successor - by Her Divine Glory directly, and they are then authorised by the incumbent queen (or Her Court, should there be no living queen) to take the Divine Successor into their custody. This process is known as The Renewal, which is considered a great honour for the child's family.

The future queen is never informed of the identity of her family, nor is her family permitted to reveal their daughter's true identity to anybody. She is expected to be nothing but a Divine Queen; an object of adoration for the Brellachi people, with no history beyond her supposed ties to the Goddess.


The Divine Queen's Pendant,
the Brellachi equivalent to a
crown, is worn by all queens
and symbolic of their link to
the Goddess, the Divine Glory.
The Priesthood raises the future queen from that point onwards at Church of Her Divine Glory's headquarters in Sheoth. She is trained extensively in theology and taught about her ties to the goddess. She is taught to be compassionate, dedicated, and dutiful, is often schooled in multiple languages, and given an understanding of subjects such as humanities. Throughout her time at the Church, the young queen is trained in horsemanship to an expert level - as it is traditional for the Divine Queen to be the best rider in Brellach - and she is rigorously tutored in fencing.

During her upbringing, the Divine Successor is never seen, nor spoken to, by anybody outside of the Priesthood until the age of 15. On her 15th birthday she is granted the Divine Queen's pendant - the Brellachi equivalent of a crown - and becomes the Divine Queen.

Despite being the absolute ruler of Brellach, the Divine Queen has significant restrictions placed upon every aspect of her life - more than any other citizens. While clothing is optional across Brellach, the Divine Queen is prohibited from wearing any items of clothing for her entire life, without exception - she is not even permitted footwear. This clothing prohibition lasts from the moment The Renewal is completed, to the moment she dies. The only item she can keep on her body is the Divine Queen's pendant.

She is also forbidden from owning possessions; she is provided with the Divine Queen's pendant, the symbol of her reign, and is allowed a single horse of her choosing to live with her and serve as her transportation and companionship (which is immediately replaced if it dies), neither of which are her property. This restriction on her ability to own anything is partially symbolic - indicating that she needs nothing but the creations of Her Divine Glory - and partially meant to discourage notions of greed or selfishness. All of her most basic needs such as food and medicine are satisfied by Her Court, which is responsible for her health and well-being.

It is also forbidden for the Divine Queen to use make-up or alter her body with piercings or tattoos in any way, for such would be considered 'tampering with the perfection of Her Divine Glory's Avatar'. A similar restriction is placed on unnatural substances like soap or shampoo, and artificial additives in foods. Her body, more than anybody else's, is literally a temple. Medicines are permitted when absolutely required, but as a rule she must only use wholly natural remedies for non-serious ailments where possible.


A recreation of the shelter used in the
Divine Queen's Sanctuary, based on
descriptions given by the few people
who have visited.
She does not have an opulent residence like many monarchs, instead residing in the Divine Queen's Sanctuary. This heavily guarded, open-air shelter is located within an extensive, untamed wilderness in the woods just outside Sheoth, and is essentially a roof on stilts. It has no walls or flooring, and is made entirely from natural materials, designed purely to keep the rain off the queen in winter. Inside the shelter there is only a small bookcase, complete with books she enjoys or requires, and she is permitted nothing else. Brellachi queens only spend any time indoors when such is absolutely necessary for their health (or during particularly bad weather), or when such is required to conduct her duties.

The completely exposed shelter and lack of clothing are said to serve three key purposes: firstly, as an Avatar of the Divine Glory, her body is considered to be utterly perfect and not to be covered. Secondly, her simple abode, completely open to the elements, allows her to maintain a deep spiritual connection with Her Divine Glory and her natural creation. It is believed that her bare feet must maintain a connection with the 'True Ground' (the earth) and her skin must stay in contact with fresh air as much as possible for her link to the goddess to be strong; this limits the amount of time she can spend indoors. Lastly, the combination of the two is symbolic; her divine status means that her happiness depends on nothing but being immersed in nature, and all of her needs can be met by being physically connected to the creation of the goddess.

At no point in her life may she have sex or marry, for it is said that her body is not to be touched by mortal hands. No Brellachi queen has ever had children. Even when Divine Queens have required medical treatment, doctors have been expected to wear gloves and only touch her when absolutely necessary.

Essentially, the Divine Queen has nothing in her life but her faith and dedication to her people, and these restrictions are stipulated in the Divine Contract of Rule. Written by the Priesthood (some time during the early 1050s A.D.), and believed by the Brellachi to be the direct words of Her Divine Glory as spoken through the First Divine Queen, Sumi I, the Divine Contract stipulates not only the powers afforded to the queen, but the restrictions placed upon her life. All Divine Queens since Sumi have rigidly adhered to the terms of the Divine Contract, having been made to memorise its contents during their upbringing.

A myth exists which suggests that Brellach could one day be corrupted by an "Avatar Lost to the Dark" - a corrupted queen - and thus the Priesthood, as well as being in charge of selecting and raising future queens, must also watch over them to ensure they abide by the terms of the Divine Contract. The Priesthood can theoretically be summoned to 'correct' a wavering queen by Her Court, should there be considerable evidence to demonstrate such, although no formal procedure exists for actually 'dethroning' a Divine Queen, and it has never been necessary in practice.

While the overall tone of the document is known, the exact text of the Divine Contract of Rule is known only to the Priesthood and the Divine Queens themselves, however. The original is kept securely in the main Sheoth Church of Her Divine Glory, under the watchful guard of both the Priesthood and Her Protectors.

Despite their frugal and restricted lifestyles, Divine Queens command the adoration of the Brellachi people, and have the ability to shape their nation however they choose, typically doing so altruistically.

'Link Break'

The Priesthood of Her Divine Glory is usually efficient at ensuring there is an adequate line of succession, however there are occasions when their calculations are off, leading to power vacuums - usually when a Divine Queen dies unexpectedly. In Brellach this is known as a 'Link Break', for their direct link to the Divine Glory is believed to have been severed. During this time it is seen as appropriate for the existing Devout Advisors of Her Court to govern the country in the Divine Queen's stead, until a Divine Successor is chosen and comes of age. As the Devout Advisors were hand-picked by the outgoing queen, they are thought of as carrying out the deceased queen's last wishes.

During this time, Her Court will rarely pass new laws, and will essentially maintain the status quo until relieved by the new Divine Queen. The Priesthood of Her Divine Glory will often oversee them during this time, ensuring they don't overstep their bounds.

Despite governmental stability largely being maintained, the years without a Divine Queen become cynically known as 'Sun Rotations Lost to the Dark', believed to be a sign that their goddess is upset by something they have done - the living embodiment of their goddess having essentially abandoned them. While there isn't considerable public unrest, Brellach's already-weak economic output invariably deteriorates into recessions during these periods.

The last time a Link Break occurred was in 1999, when Divine Queen Vala III died suddenly of a cardiac arrest. Although not a true Link Break (The Renewal had already occurred, and had selected Lyta as the Divine Successor), Lyta - then aged only 4 - would not come of age for another 11 years, and Brellach entered an economic recession almost immediately. The economy has only just recovered to its pre-Lyta level.

Divine Queen Lyta I
Main article: Lyta I


Lyta, Divine Queen of Brellach,
with her royal horse, Enan,
The present ruling Divine Queen, Lyta, is one of the more popular monarchs of recent times and has reigned since her 15th birthday. While most queens have the benefit of tutelage from the outgoing queen, in Lyta's case the previous queen passed away before her Renewal could be completed. This lack of guidance from the outgoing monarch has brought a fresh approach to Lyta's rule.

Taken from her parents shortly after birth once she was identified as the Divine Successor, like all before her the 23-year-old's family history is unknown even to her, and she spent the entirety of her younger years undergoing intensive training for her position. As is tradition, she devotes the majority of her time to matters of state and spirituality, is forever forbade from wearing clothing or jewellery save for the Divine Queen's pendant, and has no possessions of her own.

She chose her first royal horse when she became Divine Queen, whom she named Enan. She is said to be extremely fond of him, which is often true of Brellachi Queens who tend to be isolated, and he lives with her, unrestrained, at the Divine Queen's Sanctuary. As per Brellachi custom, as well as being her closest companion, he is also the only mode of transportation she can make use of, except for in extraordinary circumstances (for example, when travelling abroad on a diplomatic visit, which she is rarely able to do due to how protective the Brellachi are of her - and historically, such journeys have been undertaken by ship, with the royal horse accompanying the queen).

Her affinity for the 'common soul' has garnered much respect for the young monarch in her short reign. When she is able to do so, she often walks the streets of Sheoth, talking to its citizens about issues that concern them.

Her full title is The Magnificent and Beautiful, Wise and Powerful, Perfect and Almighty, Avatar of the Divine Glory, Divine Queen Lyta of Brellach, Her horses swift and Her blade true. According to tradition, there is no 'short form' version of this title, and members of Her Court will usually quote it verbatim each time they refer to her. Divine Queen Lyta herself, however, is notoriously unconcerned with her title, finding it cumbersome and unnecessary, and prefers to be referred to without it.

Her Court


The Building of Her Court's
Residence, where Her Court
has operated since its
inception.
For at least five hundred years the Divine Queen has been served by an institution literally translated as "Her Court", which is a collection of 12 royal advisors (the 'devout advisors'), each specialising in a different matter of governance. Her Court is led by 'the most devout advisor', who is senior to the others but still subordinate to the queen herself. The most devout advisor will typically also represent Brellach (and the queen) in foreign affairs, and is as close to a head of government as can be found there.

Each member of Her Court is hand-picked by the queen shortly after she assumes power, in a process known simply as The Choosing, designed to ensure Her Court's loyalty and devotion to the Divine Queen, to Her Divine Glory, and to Brellach and her people. Anybody can put themselves forward as a candidate for membership, although typically only candidates who are well-schooled or has good experience in certain professions or lifestyles will be seriously considered. Each queen has different motivations and methods when choosing her advisors; Divine Queen Lyta is known to subject candidates to particularly lengthy interviews, with candidates expected to stay with her at her sanctuary for several days, during which time they will discuss all manner of subjects. She is of the belief that a brief interview based on prescribed questions does not reveal a person's true character. Once appointed, any member of Her Court can be dismissed by the queen at any time, and replaced with another of her choosing.

The current members of Her Court are:

  • Fellis Jessina - Most Devout Advisor of Her Court

  • Rena Vaska - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Speaking with Those of Other Places

  • Rayna Brenyoi - Devout Advisor of Her Court With Responsibility for Farming and Building

  • Rekka of Trelnya - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Learning

  • Sula Ramta - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Horses and Moving

  • Tirra Moro - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Spending and Trading

  • Tula Brann - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Upholding Her Laws

  • Urla of Nakre - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Defending Her Favoured Lands

  • Yariss Uranti - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for the Church of Her Divine Glory

  • Karra Vulto - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for Healing

  • Ell of Sten - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for The Tribes and The Compact

  • Cici Lucona - Devout Advisor With Responsibility for the True Ground and Her Creation

Each week the Divine Queen meets with Her Court to hear of issues of national importance, and orders them to enact any decisions she makes. To avoid having the queen go indoors (and therefore have her bare feet leave the 'True Ground'), the tradition is for members of Her Court to hold these meetings on the grass in the grounds of her sanctuary. When not meeting with the queen, they reside in The Building of Her Court's Residence, located in Sheoth.

For day-to-day matters the queen will typically accept the recommendations of Her Court without argument, though she is technically under no obligation to listen to any of them and can overrule them on most matters. Her Court is also expected to tend to the basic needs of the queen, providing her with food, water, and a replacement horse when necessary. Although submissive to the queen, they have the power to call upon the Priesthood to punish her should she fail to abide by the terms of the Divine Contract - such as attempting to own property, wearing clothes, or the like.

Her Court maintains their own separate, more recent organisation called the Her People's Court, meant to give the people of Brellach a greater degree of influence over national governance - at regular intervals, prominent individuals from the community such as tribe leaders and businessmen will meet with Her Court to discuss any issues they feel should be addressed. The advisors of Her Court then decide whether or not these issues should be brought to the queen's attention. Occasionally the Divine Queen herself will observe and even take part in these sessions, a rare honour. Although prominent community members will normally be the speakers in these sessions, any Brellachi citizen is allowed to raise an issue if they wish.

Local governance

There are 40 administrative divisions in Brellach, attached to one of the 40 major towns and cities spread across the country. The Brellachi term for these jurisdictions, translated literally, is 'Her People's Space'. These constituencies are almost all governed by an elected official, usually the mayor of the town or city they are centred around, although there are a handful with hereditary leaders. Although an absolute monarchy, local authorities are given surprising leeway when it comes to matters that purely affect local residents, being allowed to make decisions with a minimum of interference from the Divine Queen or Her Court - though such interference does occur, often when the queen believes a decision has not been made with the best interests of the local residents, if the decision runs contrary to national laws, or if it impacts local tribes in a negative way.

Each of Her People's Spaces includes a town or city at the centre, with the constituency's territory extending roughly 20 miles away from that settlement's core (this varies in some larger regions, such as Sheoth, which has considerably more area under its sway). Vast swathes of the country, particularly in the Aichan Savannah, which has only one Space centred around Sia'sa, do not fall under the jurisdiction of any local authority, and are thus only governed by the Divine Queen. The goal of this configuration is to allow urban Brellachi the ability to have some measure of control over their regions, whilst still leaving as much space as possible available for tribes to remain isolated and unmolested by local politics. There is nothing stopping people from living in these 'unclaimed regions', but they must not get in the way of any tribes that might also roam in that space lest they be evicted by the queen.

All of these local authorities are ultimately subordinate to the Divine Queen and Her Court. Their governors are usually the ones who represent their constituents at Her People's Court.

Law and order

Brellach operates a mixed legal system; it is largely similar to common law systems in that judges make laws based on precedent, but the Divine Queen - the highest court of appeal - has the power to create laws arbitrarily or even overturn the decision of judges if she feels it necessary.

As in every other part of their society, Brellachi spiritual beliefs play a large part in the process. Their goddess, in-keeping with her portrayal as a compassionate and benevolent deity, teaches that people are to be treated with compassion even when accused of a crime. When arrested by Her Lawbringers, people charged with crime undergo a trial by their peers (for which the Brellachi word is literally 'impartial others'), presided over by a sentencing judge, who is almost exclusively a member of the Priesthood of Her Divine Glory with training in law - the thinking behind this being that while the jury speaks for the Brellachi people (who have been directly 'wronged'), the Priest speaks for Her Divine Glory (who must 'reset the balance').

The Brellachi do not employ 'punishment' as English speakers understand it, with their equivalent word translating as 'Divine Penance'. Those convicted of minor crimes ('Penitents') will be required to complete good deeds that either benefit either their victims directly or the local community as a whole. These deeds can range from assisting in the construction of schools or hospitals, to teaching underprivileged children or helping the sick, depending on the skills of the Penitent. In some cases, when the victim agrees and it is appropriate to do so, the Penitent may be tasked with aiding the victim and their family specifically with whatever they require. The Brellachi believe that crime upsets the Goddess, and these benevolent activities go some way towards pleasing her again and thus 'rebalancing the universe'. It is also thought to have the side-effect of rehabilitating the Penitent, as it rekindles a sense of community spirit and empathy in them as they meet and work with the people they wronged.


Her Place of Redemption,
Maeloth; one of the oldest
'prison-churches' that still
exists in Brellach.
People who are convicted of more severe crimes, particularly violent crimes, are not released back into the community. The Brellachi are aware that dangerous criminals (known as 'The Darkened') must be kept away from the innocent, though they believe this to be as much for the sake of the convicted as for the rest of the population. Specifically, the Brellachi believe that people who commit acts of violence for selfish means are not in control of their actions, or at least being coerced into doing so, as they are "tainted by the dark, and must bathe in Her light". If given the chance to commit more crimes while under this influence, it is thought that they would experience great mental and spiritual anguish when they are eventually redeemed.

As such, The Darkened are placed into the care of the Priesthood, in specially-commissioned churches called 'Her Places of Redemption' (which could be termed 'prison-churches'), intended to spiritually cleanse them. The length of the sentence depends entirely on the severity of the crime committed, and whether or not the Priesthood believes The Darkened has been properly cleansed.

The Darkened will find themselves completing good deeds much like Penitents, but in a much more strictly controlled manner. For those who are 'too dark' to be allowed to leave the confines of Her Place of Redemption, this work can involve manufacturing clothing or preparing food. Others may perform work in the local community, under the watch of the Priesthood and Her Lawbringers, until returning to the prison-church when they are done. The rest of the time, The Darkened live as the priests themselves do, having nothing but bare essentials to their names, and spending their days maintaining the church and 'revering Her Divine Glory'. Many may be released once the Priesthood is confident of their 'redemption', but many more either choose to remain or are never released.

Laws are enforced by the Brellachi equivalent of a police force, which is known as Her Lawbringers, whose organisational headquarters are in Sheoth. They are responsible for detecting and investigating crimes, as well as patrolling the streets and aiding needy citizens. It is uncommon for Her Lawbringers to be armed with lethal weaponry; they are instead trained to apprehend criminals through non-violent means where possible, non-lethal means where necessary, and to only use lethal methods when no other choice is presented.

Her Lawbringers answer directly to the Divine Queen, and venerate her accordingly, but have their own hierarchy and infrastructure. That they answer to the queen directly has the side-effect of making the people of Brellach accord them with some measure of reverence too, for it is believed that they operate under a divine mandate, and have a living goddess as their guide. Her Lawbringers have done nothing to dissuade this, as it has been noted that people cooperate with them much more readily during investigations.

Crime in Brellach is largely a non-issue, however. Their simple lifestyles, combined with their strict adherence to their spiritual beliefs, means that the Brellachi are not typically inclined to criminal activities beyond crimes of passion. Even the impoverished can find assistance from the Church, precluding their need to steal in most cases.

Military and foreign relations

The Holy Queendom is defended by Her Legion of Light, a military force that serves the Divine Queen. Their stated mandate is to "lift the veils of darkness that hang over those who would do harm to Brellach or Her Divine Avatar, our Divine Queen." It is split into three branches; The Legionnaires of Land, the Legionnaires of Sea, and the Air Legionnaires.

It is centrally funded at a cost of $4.307 billion NSD, and currently has 140,000 active personnel in service, known as Legionnaires of Light regardless of which branch they serve in. A compact exists between the government and the nomadic tribes, however, as part of the same agreement which grants their traditional lifestyle legal protection - when Brellach is threatened, the tribes will rally to its defence, which means that there are over 9 million people fit and available for military service. Her Court maintains an armoury of old, mothballed weapons to arm the tribesmen with in the event that it becomes necessary.


The Brellachi navy is small
and lacks carriers, but it is
well-organised and
commands reasonably
modern ships.
Most of the Legion's equipment is designed and built in Brellach, with personnel in all branches sporting natively designed assault rifles (ARM-19L) and sidearms (PM-58V). Their navy is built with defence in mind rather than expeditionary missions, and it is not a bluewater navy - rather, they have centred it around four large, modern anti-ship frigates and twelve anti-air guided missile destroyers, all constructed at great cost to the state across a period of 20 years, with air support provided by the mainland. Their navy represents the most well-funded branch of the Legion, as it is intended to be their first line of defence in the event of an attack. All modern Brellachi ships are named after past Divine Queens.

The Land Legion has access to just over 300 Brellachi-manufactured main battle tanks, 500 infantry fighting vehicles, 100 mobile artillery vehicles, and 52 attack helicopters, with myriad light transport vehicles. With the exception of the MBTs, which were introduced some 20 years ago and received upgrades 10 years ago, most of these vehicles are reaching the end of their useful lives, with the IFVs in particular being almost 40 years old now. Insufficient funding exists to either design and build new equipment, or to purchase new equipment from abroad, and Divine Queen Lyta has set government spending priorities elsewhere for the time being.

Similarly, the Air Legion is small and poorly-funded, with only 33 third-generation fighter aircraft at their disposal and a handful of tactical and strategic airlifters, and there are no plans to expand this.

The incumbent Divine Queen has set a foreign policy of 'compassionate cooperation', intended to curry favour with the nations of the world by maintaining a reasoned, considerate approach to international issues. Where possible, Brellach will offer material support to those in need, but often their support is vocal.

Brellach is currently a signatory nation of the anti-piracy OMNI Declaration, to support which they have assigned the frigate Valla III and the destroyers Hessia I and Juno II, though as yet they have not been called into action to enforce the declaration. They are not party to any other international agreements, though they have signed several non-aggression pacts in the past with nations that, in some cases, no longer exist.

Economy



As some 60% of the population of Brellach are members of one of the nomadic tribes - choosing to live outside of society, and hunting, foraging, and living off the land for their material needs - the economy of Brellach has never been as robust as similarly-sized nations. Essentially, the Brellachi economy realistically only includes the product of 40% of the population, as they are the only citizens who directly contribute to its growth. Accordingly, the GDP of Brellach is at an all-time high of $150.042 billion, with a per capita rate of just under $7,000 - both reasonably low for a country of this size and population.

Farming and agriculture is the prominent industry in Brellach, with cotton, rice, sugar cane, sugar beet, wheat, beans, and onions being grown in particularly large quantities. Cattle and goats are also significant, and so meat and dairy products are produced in somewhat large numbers. The product of tribal hunting and foraging is not included in GDP figures, as it is unknown how much of either is gathered.

Heavy industry finds heavy opposition in Brellach, as the Divine Queen - supposedly the living embodiment of their deity, and therefore mandated to protect her creation, environment and all - outright rejects any proposals for large-scale mining or manufacturing operations. There is a modest arms manufacturing sector in Brellach, primarily due to the Legion of Light's insistence on purchasing Brellachi-made equipment, but this has been struggling since the completion of their last naval destroyer and arms exports are illegal. More recently, Her Court has been supporting the queen in making Brellach a desirable place for financial institutions and other clean, high-value services to set up shop, as the tax rate in Brellach is virtually non-existent. The relative poverty of Brellach has made this a difficult proposition, however, as the market for some services simply doesn't exist.

All of the main towns and cities, and most villages, have access to amenities like electricity and running water. This is in stark contrast to those living outside of urban areas, which constitutes the majority, as they have outright refused to adapt to the modern world. Even city dwellers only make use of a bare minimum of modern services, opting to stay as 'natural' as they can. This has led to a reduced market for many luxury goods.


A 1 coin, minted by the
Royal Bank of Her Divine
Avatar. Each coin features
a profile of Divine Queen
Lyta I.
The Royal Bank of Her Divine Avatar is responsible for setting interest rates and minting new currency - that being known internationally as the 'drake' ( - a symbol only used abroad, as it has no meaning to the Brellachi). The value of drakes is set by the Royal Bank, and is currently pegged at around 1 = $2 NSD. The Brellachi drake is a non-decimal commodity currency, used exclusively in the Holy Queendom.

A drake can be sub-divided into 20 'pieces' (literally translated), and each piece can be further divided into 12 'bits'. Quarter-bit coins, known as 'slivers', are minted also. Paper notes are uncommon, but are in circulation and can be found in denominations of 10 pieces (half a drake), 1 drake, 5 drakes, and 10 drakes. 20 and 40 drake notes are produced, but are never found in circulation and are used primarily in business transactions.

Barely integrated into the global economy, despite the Divine Queen's efforts to do so, Brellach rarely experiences 'booms' or 'busts' nor significant inflation or deflation, aside from during a Link Break. It could be said that the economy is somewhat stagnant; GDP only seems to rise and fall in line with population changes, rather than because of enhanced productivity or trade. While this stagnation and lack of integration limits opportunities for growth or competition in the global marketplace (concepts which seem to be unimportant to residents anyway), it does have the side-effect of protecting Brellachi citizens from overseas recessions and depressions.

Transport

Vehicle ownership in Brellach is not high; currently it is rated at less than 2 vehicles per 1,000 people. While this figure is impacted dramatically by the fact that 60% of Brellachi are tribal, and eschew modern civilisation in all its forms, even accounting for this unusual trend vehicle ownership is not particularly high among the remaining 40% of the population when compared to most modern countries. This is thought to be due to a combination of the environmental impact cars have, which runs contrary to the beliefs of most Brellachi, and the relatively low income of most Brellachi families.


Roads are sporadic in quality
and fewer in number,
particularly toward the savannah
region.
Despite this, most major cities in Brellach have paved roads, though a large number of city centres are exclusively pedestrianised due to the narrow, historical streets. Vehicles, when owned at all, are often owned by several families jointly, or even by entire neighbourhoods, with their usage - and financial burden - shared between them. Most major cities are linked by roads, while less significant settlements may only be linked by unpaved trails - however, virtually all vehicles in Brellach are capable of all-terrain driving. Road networks are much better developed in the south, and to a lesser degree in the west, where the majority of urban areas are located. By contrast, the central region has no real transport networks to speak of, requiring off-road travel to get anywhere.

Traditional modes of land transportation far outweigh vehicle use, particularly given that the tribes rely on horses to maintain their nomadic lifestyle. Even amongst 'civilisation', people in rural areas also rely on animal locomotion.

Rail networks are not comprehensive, though Divine Queen Vala III spearheaded a large railway expansion plan in the latter years of her reign, which resulted in virtually every city being connected via rail, albeit not directly. Railways have become the principle mode of travel for intra-national journeys, which is unsurprising given the vast distances between some Brellachi cities. As with the road network, rail links are better-developed in the more densely populated southern and western regions.

Air travel is not well supported in Brellach, principally due to the infeasibly high cost. Only one international airport exists in Sheoth, which is small, poorly-funded, and not heavily used. It is, however, the only entry point for international visitors, and has seen greater revenues - and the development of a dedicated airline - as tourism has expanded in the last ten years. Only two other significant airports exist, and both only cater for domestic flights; one in Bekton, western Brellach, and another in Reechpuint, on the east coast. Despite their size, the position of these airports makes them ideal for traversing the vast distance between the eastern and western coasts of Brellach in a reasonable timeframe, and both cities have seen economic growth since their construction.

Far more common in Brellach is sea travel; most Brellachi coastal settlements have at least some form of harbour or port, and it is often quicker to journey from one coastal city to another by boat than it is by car or plane. As recent years have seen a dramatic increase in importing and exporting commercial goods, development of large commercial harbours has occurred in a number of towns.

Energy

Electricity did not come to Brellach until the early 1960s, and was not common in homes until the 1990s or later in some areas. There is no unified national energy grid, with each settlement generally being responsible for providing electricity for their area of influence, although some have linked their power grids up with neighbouring settlements.

More than 65% of power generation in southern Brellach is achieved via the use of photo-voltaic panels, nearly all of which were imported at great cost to the cities using them. These are primarily employed in great 'solar farms' on the outskirts of towns, with only a handful of towns - notably Huleoth - operating schemes to place them on individual homes.

In western Brellach, most towns opt for wind turbines, similarly placing them together in wind farms at the outskirts of towns, using solar power for only a small proportion of electrical output.

The use of fossil fuels for power is not common, and never has been. While this is partially because large deposits of fossil fuel have never been discovered in Brellach (with the notable exception of significant coal deposits recently identified in north Brellach), but is primarily influenced by their religious beliefs. As energy generation did not come to Brellach until long after the environmentally damaging effects of burning fossil fuels were known, it was never an option for the Brellachi.

Education



Public education in Brellach is sporadic and not compulsory. Given that more than 13.2 million of the 22 million Brellachi people are tribal, and avoid both the government and civilisation in general, attendance at schools is already severely restricted. Even amongst 'city dwellers', home schooling is the predominant form of education.

Each settlement in Brellach is required to offer adequate public schooling for those who wish to make use of it, and Her Court is responsible for providing schools with both funding and a curriculum. These public schools, known as Her Places of Learning for Children, teach a combination of basic academic skills - mathematics, the Brellachi language, and basic sciences - and vocational skills that are useful in typical Brellachi life. No 'qualification' as such emerges from this, beyond a greater understanding of the subjects involved.

Excluding tribals, who all 'home school' their children, an estimated 65 - 70% of parents home school their children, and do not enrol them in schools. The literacy rate in Brellach, accordingly, is below 40%. Despite Brellach's Divine Queen and Her Court attempting to modernise the school system, a cultural aversion to schools, and a tradition of schooling one's own children, has kept public schools firmly in the minority.

Further education exists in the form of university-equivalent facilities that teach subjects in a great amount of detail. Known various as Her Places of Learning or Her Academies, depending on the royal charter they receive, these institutions often teach specific subjects such as law, history, or language, and offer a qualification known simply as Knowledge of subject certificates. People attend these 'universities' when they wish to pursue a more academic career, particularly in law or politics.

Health



Thanks to the nomadic lifestyle of the majority of the population, key health indicators in Brellach are typically poor on average, but with great inequality; those living in cities typically have much lower instances of infant and child mortality than those living outside of society. Infectious diseases tend not to spread quickly amongst tribes, however - it is unknown what causes this.

Air quality and pollution, however, are amongst the lowest in the world, to the point of being non-existent in many areas; a notable lack of heavy industry or polluting power stations, and low vehicle use, are the primary factors. Smoking, though not legislated against, does not exist in Brellachi society, outside of some tribes that smoke herbs on rare occasions. Respiratory illnesses are accordingly low.

The tribes of Brellach make use of various types of traditional medicine. Some, such as their own versions of acupuncture, and the use of salt water to clear the body of disease, are of dubious or no scientific value. Others, however, are surprisingly effective. Northern tribes long ago discovered the anaesthetic properties of a particular type of native plant that grows alongside rivers in the region, and refine it into an effective painkiller which is now used by nearly all of the Brellachi tribes. This same painkiller is also used by Brellachi doctors, due to the prohibitive expense of importing foreign drugs. Meanwhile the western tribe of 'Roro' have been known to understand the relationship between diet and health since at least the 1400s1, and have since exported that knowledge to the entire island. Most tribes have also discovered the antibacterial properties of certain types of mould, and in more recent years have made use of them for fighting disease instead of traditional methods.

Public healthcare in Brellach has historically been patchy and underfunded - but since coming to power, Divine Queen Lyta has made its modernisation a priority. Government healthcare funding now consists of more than 16% of total national expenditures, and the results are beginning to be felt. More than half of the large settlements (23) now have at least a moderately-sized hospital, and medical training techniques have been copied from foreign systems and issued to doctors and nurses across the country. Those settlements without hospitals are home to large general practice surgeries with equipment to handle most common and serious ailments, if not on a large scale, and vital medicines have been imported from abroad where possible. Existing private practitioners have been utilised to plug gaps, with the government paying for eligible patients.

1 15th century Brellachi scholar, Chus Tarrid, after visiting Tribe Roro noted in his letter to Divine Queen Hessi II: "The tribeswomen of Roro insist upon their folk a varied but balanced diet - eating a good quantity of apples is advised, but not too many, for too many bloats the abdomen [distension]. Fish and grapes are said to improve the mind, especially the [memory]. While too much meat will cause a weak heart and a lazy gait [obesity]. And alcohol, that temptation of Her Divine Glory, is to be avoided for the damage it causes to [the liver]. All of this, and more, leads to the tribeswomen and men of Roro to be among the healthiest in all Brellach, with great stamina, acute minds, and few if any ailments."

Culture



Brellachi culture is heavily influenced by their faith, which informs almost everything they do. The lifestyles of the tribes, the people of which make up the majority of the population, also features heavily in their culture.

Visual arts

Most visual artworks in Brellach typically have a religious function. Paintings are not common, but woven tapestries of varying styles and sizes can be found across the country in all manner of buildings. These tapestries, woven mostly from wool, often depict either events from their mythology and history, or natural landscapes or animals.

The most famous of these is 'Her Favoured Lands Emerging', a huge tapestry produced by an unknown artist in the 15th century and presently found in the main hall of The Building of Her Court's Residence. It is over five metres in length and depicts the lands of Brellach emerging from the ocean, as described in their creation myth.

Other tapestries portray various scenes from nature - a key element in their belief system - and historically significant events, such as 'The Compact Is Signed'.

Sculptures are less common than tapestries, but more so than paintings, and are most commonly used to portray the Divine Queen - each Divine Queen, for example, is always portrayed by an officially-commissioned bust at the commencement of her reign, with a hall in the Sheoth Church of Her Divine Glory hosting each one ever made. Smaller sculptures of the current Divine Queen can be found in many homes, often used as part of that household's shrine to the queen, as well as in official government buildings. Sculptures of animals, particularly horses, are also common as either religious or decorative features.

Music

As with other art forms, music in Brellach is influenced by a combination of their spirituality (and, therefore, nature), and by tribal customs. Instrumentation consists primarily of wooden percussive and wind instruments that are unique to Brellach.

Among city-dwellers, singing without instrumentation is more typical, with various religious songs being favoured by the populace. Singing is often part of religious activities such as veneration of the goddess, as the Divine Glory is worshiped through song and dance. The exception is during major festivals, when bands of wooden instrumental performers can be found on the streets playing music that could only be described as tribal in nature.

Within the tribes singing is also common, and many of the same songs are used by the tribes. They too use wooden instruments of various types (which city-dwellers most likely inherited from them, given their own tribal origins), though they use these more commonly than city-dwellers - many tribes play music before they sleep, as a means of seeking the protection of the Divine Glory at night.

Major musical performances - either recorded or live on stage - do not occur in Brellach as they do in other countries, and there is no such thing as a 'music industry'. Accordingly, there are no particularly famous musical artists, and the origins of most of their songs and tunes are largely unknown - this being true even for more recent works.

Architecture

Though building styles vary across Brellach, as slightly different traditions and environments influence constructions from one end of the landmass to the other, the overall architectural style can be summarised as functional.

As even city-dwelling Brellachi view man-made structures as 'blights on the land', only to be constructed as necessary, little attention is given to their appearance - they are to be fit for purpose, long-lasting, as clean as possible, and little else. Common themes include natural materials such as stone and wood, few buildings above five or six storeys in height, and often large gardens with enough room for growing food.


The savannah town of Sia'sa.
In the southern and eastern regions, where a warm/hot, dry Mediterranean climate reigns all year, houses are typically more open and aerated, usually made from stone, with flat roofs and cool stone or tiled floors, and shutters instead of glass windows. The stonework is often painted in bright colours to reflect the sun away, leading to surprisingly colourful towns.

In the more temperate regions to the west, where it rains more heavily and the temperatures can plummet to zero or lower, houses are usually made from a combination of stone and wood, with thatched roofs, insulated walls and usually glass in the small windows. Floors are often carpeted in the larger, wealthier towns, though sometimes a simple covering of hay is used in poorer areas (or in households where families feel the need to connect more strongly with the True Ground).

In the northern areas, which are predominantly steppe and grassland regions that experience cold temperatures year-round, houses are predominantly stone due to a historic lack of wood. Often they are only a single storey in height above ground, with living areas found underground where it can be kept warm more easily.

Only one settlement can be found in the central region of the Aichan Savannah, a region of intense heat and limited rainfall. Houses here are superficially similar to those found in the south, though they are typically even more open - to the point of being little more than roofs on legs in some cases.

The various tribes that roam Brellach have dramatically different living arrangements, however. Some sleep in the open, with no form of shelter whatsoever, seeking to bask fully in the creation of their goddess. This is particularly true of tribes who predominantly roam in the warmer areas. Others, particularly those active in the colder regions, use rudimentary tents made from natural materials, which are often reusable and can be packed up to travel with.

Government buildings, such as The Building of Her Court's Residence, are somewhat larger and more elaborate than most buildings, given their purpose and 'divine mandate'. Though not influenced by foreign designers in any way, they often bear coincidental similarities to a mixture of Renaissance Baroque and Islamic styles, with other aspects being unique.

Media

Media in Brellach is underdeveloped. Predominant among the various disparate outlets are the local newspapers that serve most large Spaces; these are often printed using obsolete technology, and serve populations of thousands rather than millions. No national newspaper exists, nor does the Brellachi press have any kind of international presence - indeed, a foreign, volunteer news provider called 'BrellachWatch' has been set up outside of Brellach for the purposes of delivering news regarding the Holy Queendom to interested foreign parties.

Radio is fairly new to Brellach, with the first local station having been set up in Sheoth about 20 years ago. Generally, radio stations in Brellach are community-led, as the traditional advertisement-funded model used elsewhere proved unsuccessful. Due to many homes lacking electricity, often voluntarily, it is unlikely that radio will expand in the near future.

Television stations face similar problems; a lack of revenue and viewers makes it an infeasible proposition. Television sets do exist in Brellach, particularly in Sheoth and in schools that teach foreign languages, but no domestic broadcasting company exists, and so the few owners of television sets must rely on imported media or foreign satellite broadcasts.

Of the few 'motion pictures' have been produced domestically, most - much like the early history of American movies - have featured recreations of their history and mythology, with the most popular feature being 'The Moving Picture About The Signing Of The Compact', a supposedly historically accurate retelling of the unrest leading up to the signing of The Compact, and the accession of the First Divine Queen.

Internet access

Unsurprisingly, considering the level of technology used in Brellach, Internet use in the Holy Queendom is quite limited. Excluding the tribal population (who, despite being in the majority, do not factor into such calculations due to their complete disinterest in technology of any kind), only 4-5% of city-dwelling Brellachi citizens can access the Internet on a regular basis, with a further 5% professing to use it semi-regularly at communal locations such as libraries. Predominant users are students and people with (as they are considered in Brellach, at least) niche technology interests.

Internet use is more common with some of the larger businesses in Brellach, particularly those with more than one premises (as they use it to communicate more efficiently) or those who deal with international clients regularly. Larger cities like Sheoth, Bekton, and Reechpuint have rudimentary copper cable networks for businesses to connect to, and are linked together with other large cities (and, via way of Sheoth, the global web) via cross-country cables. Most smaller towns and villages lack true access to the Internet, though a handful of businesses in these settlements have pooled their resources to create small, private, isolated WANs.

Only Her Court and its associated organisations have invested in broadband connections, mainly for the purposes of international communications, which are prohibitively expensive for most. Most others are limited to basic dial-up speeds, though this is a financial limitation rather than a legal one - the tiny market has precluded the large-scale development of broadband Internet. As with most things, the Divine Queen and Her Court tend not to interfere in people's use of (or method of) connecting to the Internet; freedom of expression is a de facto right for Brellachi web browsers and content publishers.

Censorship does not exist in Brellach, with the government opting to stay out of such affairs.

Brellachi calendar

Literally translated to English, the Brellachi term for 'year' is 'Sun Rotations Since the Birth of the Avatar of Her Divine Glory'. As indicated by the somewhat obtuse name, Brellachi years correspond to the age of the current incarnation of the Divine Queen, and as such the start and end date of official years can vary from one ruler to the next, and is reset when a new queen comes of age.

In general, the Priesthood of Her Divine Glory is reasonably good at predicting when to begin The Renewal (i.e. when the incumbent queen is likely to pass away and need replacing), meaning there is usually only a very short gap between the death of an incumbent queen and the coming of age of the next (known as the 'Divine Successor'), and so the years continue in that until then. Should a Divine Queen die a considerable period before the Divine Successor comes of age, however, a Link Break occurs, and years are instead measured from the time of death of the late ruler, and are known as 'Sun Rotations Lost To The Dark'. This continues until the Divine Successor is old enough to fill the void.

At present, the year in Brellach is currently the 23rd Sun Rotation Since The Birth of Lyta, and this cycle commences on 25th November. For the sake of foreigners, this is occasionally abbreviated to Year 23L in correspondence. Due to the way Divine Queens accede the 'throne', Brellachi years can never be below 15.

The year itself is broken up into two 'months' per season (known as a 'season group'), for a total of eight 'months' with 45 days in each. These months do not have names, but in typical Brellachi fashion are merely given descriptive terms based on which season group they are in. These are (translated from Brellachi): 'The First/Second Half of the Coldest Season', 'The First/Second Half of the Season of Growth', 'The First/Second Half of the Warmest Season', and 'The First/Second Half of the Season of Wilting'.

Five days of the year are not included within any one month; instead, they are interspersed between 'season groups' as 'free days'. They are used to celebrate the change from one season to the next, and are often accompanied by festivities. Two 'free days' are included at the end of the autumn ('Season of Wilting'), and one day is included at the end of every other season. To prevent the calendar from falling out of sync thanks to the missing quarter day, much like leap years in the Gregorian calendar, every four years an extra free day is added to the end of winter ('The Coldest Season').

Despite the calendar year commencing on the Divine Queen's birthday, the precise date does not reset to one on that day and is still expressed based on what day of the traditional month it is. As an example, 25th November 2019, according to the Brellachi calendar (and literally translated to English) shall be written as: "The 43rd Day of the First Half of the Coldest Season, on the 24th Sun Rotation Since the Birth of Lyta". As shown, the exact date continues based on what day of the month it is, while the year advances on from 23L to 24L.

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