by Max Barry

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Ancient history and First Contact with Europeans(WIP)

Get your stinking paws off me you DAMN DIRTY APE!
-Marooned space-traveler, on humans

Nobody knows where the neko came from, there are no fossil records before 12,000-8,000 BCE. What is known is that they appeared simultaneously in the Palmeran isles and in Japan. What is now Las Palmeras was uninhabited then, however there are traces of violent interaction in Japan which may ultimately show why the neko are a minority in Japan and why they were geographically pushed northward in the Northeast Asian archipelago.

Archaic Tohorinese civilization
If history is defined as recorded actions of a sentient species, the written history of the Palmeran Isles begins some time at around the 6th Millennium BC, granted the archaic language of the ancient neko has fully been restored and due to the gaps in archaeological evidence, it has likely been lost to history. Scant traces of urbanization in the southern part of Las Palmeras reveal that this civilization was likely the first to reach such development.

It was once believed that tales of an ancient empire was purely mythical, a supposedly greatly exaggerated golden age's splendor but recent demographic evidence and modelling of environment at around 12,000 and 7,000 BC show that the island had a lot more fertile coasts and a more humid inner climate prior to Early Holocene sea level rise; that is, in these early times, the whole of Las Palmeras actually had a climate which favored the development of a civilization. At around 6,200 BC, the island actually began to dry up.

Caution is advised though as most dates mentioned here are estimates based on limited geological and anthropological analysis.

Turmoil and Oceanic Expansion
Following a decline in activity, the "0 Dynastic Period" followed at around 2446 BC, where the first dynastic developed around the South after a gradual restoration of agriculture. It's possible the mythical figure of the Sun Goddess Tohorin began here (rival of "Terasu"/Amaterasu(?)). Once again, the hieroglyphic writing of this period has been lost to time. The First Fall/Old Wars Period follows from 1320 BC to 1000 BC. The first identifiable Dynastic Period, the "Unified Kingdoms" take the scene albeit much archaeological evidence was destroyed during the First Fall (a "dark age" gap where political instability and a mass demographic drop occurred). From 800 BC to about 100 BC, the general trend of societal decline continued in the Southern half of the lisland. Though the Southern Kingdom's capital remained -albeit a husk of its former self- it had little to no authority over a vast rural area where society spent the next millennium living through subsistence farming.

The slow downfall of the first great Cat Kingdom is thought to be an artificially induced environmental catastrophe, as opposed to the natural environmental catastrophes beforehand. Because of a desire for stucco in urbanized settings and monumental buildings, growing populations around the time cut down forests for agricultural land, and the fueling of a metallurgy industry all took a heavy toll in deforestation. After the rain cycle was disrupted, a catastrophic drought cut down the population and it's food supply, and with it the Old Kingdom's opulent way of life. And with it, the rise of the Northern Military State, whose head was the "commander of the military", or Daihan. The Northern Daihanate would rob the Southern Kingdom of its spotlight in the millennia to come.

Ironically enough during this tense time, the need to find new land and more fish to sustain the populace led to innovations in ship building and official clay tablets from the northern capital of Tamanshan indicate that "sea-ships" to chase tuna were commissioned in the year 116 BC. Among them, were mixing frontal triangular sails, or jigs, with the "Cat Sampan" layout. During the tuna chases, one of the "sea-ships" ventured within a group of unknown islands that'd become known as Mishki-hima, "the Green Isles" (the Azores). Hopping from isle to isle, the old Tohorinese found that the islands were a lush paradise full of subtropical grasslands and many forests that were conveniently uninhabited. As a result, a migration from the mainland to the isles eastward began.

For two centuries, the Green Isles were ravaged for vital wood, spelling disaster among many of the local Laurel forests and countless local species, albeit these were replaced by pine trees and the isles grew as a breadbasket producing wheat and planting berry wine yards. In the meantime, bases of operations for fishing expanded as more ships began to comb the sea and circle for more islands. In (99 BC), boats had found Tari-hima, the "Black Island" (Madeira) 400km to the south, which got its namesake after the abundant volcanic rocks and rough beaches. With it, the old Northern Cat Military State had found Macaronesia, and more wood to cut and more fishing grounds though the jagged coasts attracted less attention than Mishi-hima so only a humble fishing outpost full of men and a logging camp made up of mostly female peon laborers was established at first.

Contact to the South
#### (68 BC) proved to be a surprising year: On a sweep heading southeast, the "Sea-Boat" known as Lucky Tuna 6 found the North African Coast and went downward assuming it was a large barren wasteland, and then headed back westward when it found the island of "Little Tohorin", a sandy isle with many physical similarities to the Home Island, but most importantly, it was inhabited by beings almost similar to the Tohorinese but not quite entirely the same. A race of tall people described as "hairy giants" whom didn't have bronze implements. By petition of (....), a flotilla arrived in "Little Tohorin" to gather more information and act as a show of force to the so-called giants, the Guanche people of the easternmost Canary Islands though they soon began to patrol around the whole of the Canarian archipelago and map out the region.

This act at first was blatant kidnapping of islanders and capturing of goats, sheep, pigs and dogs. An assessment of their (lack of) technological breakthroughs and the fact they were all seemingly independent tribal units won confidence at home. Some Northern Daihanate nobles wanted to conquer "Little Tohorin" but felt that transporting soldiers to such a faraway place was unfeasible without setting camp in Tari-hima, which itself was sparsely populated and was an inadequate invasion point. Under such realism, cooler heads prevailed and instead opted to trade with the "Giants" and gain access to meat from their quadrupeds. The fleet of offered in exchange, bronze slashing swords, helmets, and polished lapislázuli. Officially, Daihanate ruler (...) declared "Little Tohorin" a tributary, even granting the chiefs a seal with the authority to rule and occasional contacts persisted for centuries, especially informal trade from the fishing post at Tari-hima.

Meeting Western Civilization
However, the real shock would come in the following years, after progressive coasting, reports of sail ships and insistent rumors of large stone cities began to circulate among the tuna fishing fleet. The primitive Gauches also had with them artifacts of a civilization that lied further inland. Finally, staging from Tari-hima, and assembling three large boats measuring 60 meters long with large sails, the Grand Daihanate fleet headed northward and they were astounded by the sight of many stone cities as far as the eye could see and a society which appeared to be equal to the one in the Home Island, or maybe even more advanced. Perhaps more alarmingly, it was a land full of "Giants". This first fleet only coasted around before heading back and the news reached the Mainland only a year later.

Daihan (...) insisted on returning to the "Land of Great Cities", and even got the normally ceremonial Empress to sign a letter.

In the year 27 BC, the Grand Daihanate flotilla returned to the land of cities, that is, Gades or Gadir (Cadíz) and waited on the port city when they were approached. With them was also a Guanche interpreter, whose native tongue was fortuitously closely related to Berber, and acted as a middle-man between the Hispano-Romans and the Tohorinese. The flotilla also carried "gifts" with the best equipment to impress the locals from the Daihanate's perspective: berry wine, gold discs, ceremonial lapislázuli masks, luxury ceramics and star-poppies.

The first contact went by smoothly enough: an exchange of food inside the ship happened, part of the crew was allowed to touch land and trade, the Roman authorities received the letter. The crew was ordered to trade everything they could and empty their stock of Lapislázuli to obtain whatever they could find inland. Amphorae of garum and wine were shipped to the Home Island along with many glass containers, along with dogs and some iron artifacts. Western sources indicate that the letter did in fact reach Rome years later and would've been thought of a rumor if it weren't for the fact that the official envoy and his interpreter didn't stay around, along with a box of gifts and a concubine: the letter and its proposal were well received, most of the gifts by all accounts were seen as exotic curios, and the concubine turned into a living advertisement and freak show.

In the coming years, the Daihanate Military State and the whole of Tohorinese society came to have a deep introspection over its role in the world and felt humbled by the massive Roman Empire's purported size and territorial claims, its immense resources, Rome's seemingly endless manpower and its land armies' military might. At the same time, they were fascinated by the affairs of the rest of the World. As a result, the Army was gradually but steadily rebuilt and modernized to an imitation of "Roman" standards. In 15 AD, the first formal trade envoys received each-other in their respective "courts". Both reported on each-other's land.

From 10 AD to the 5th Century, the Daihanate, the Southern Kingdom and Rome would trade via the "Tohorin Ship" as the Westerners would call it and the "Roman Convoy" as the Tohorinese would say. The chief Roman imports in Tohorin remained being garum (until locals started producing their own), wine, linen and cotton. Tohorinese items like the analgesic Flower Poppy, lapizlázuli and turquoise stones were the most sought after items. And in an odd request, female slaves from time to time, something taken for granted in the Daihanate that was considered to have low value. Instead of being peasant laborers though, the Roman elite took a fancy to women as domestic servants and possible love slaves. It should be noted that in this lapse of time, the top naturalists of the "Long-Nosed Giants" and the "Little Sea-Cats" had discovered both people could bear fertile offspring together...starting the great naturalistic question as to why? A question that led to asking over origins of the cat-people and whose answers would still be sought after by Scholastic friars, Renaissance thinkers, Enlightenment philosophers and finally modern anthropologists.

End of an Interconnected World and Consequences
By the 5th Century both Rome and the Tohorinese Isle both parted in their own ways. The mounting turmoil within Rome and its gradual downfall made trade more uncertain, though mostly for the inland European routes carrying merchandise if not for the coastal Tohorinese posts. The Antonine Plague and the Plague of Cyprian in the 3rd and 4th Centuries had wavered trust and cost the Island +35% of its populace, leading to bouts of xenophobia within the courts of the Daihanate and even the Southern Cities that profited from trade. The introduction of Christianity into the island, that directly threatened the State's ideological monopoly and the existential doubt bought by the plague, had led to mass repression in the same time. The fall of Hispania's administration to the Visigoths marked an end to 4 centuries of mutual exchange after tariffs imposed by their Christian Kings because of the Tohorinese Empire's "Pagan" practices steepened and choked most lucrative trade.

Back at home, Western teachings and observed reverse-engineering changed life in the Home Island. Access to hydraulic technology, pulleys, thermal laminae in bath-houses were among the many wonders bought to the mainland...however what truly revolutionized the island were windmills, which were exploited to the maximum in the wind-swept Home Island to grind wheat. The population rose again and movement to cities increased as hard rural labor decreased. And the Isle entered the Age of Iron and Alchemy, with all its civil and military implications. The North and the South were embarking for an Arms Race and a Birth Race and most political efforts in the Tohorinese world spiraled inward instead of outward, Tari-hara would become abandoned by the 7th Century AD.

The Warring States Period
The following 700 years are known as the Imperial Reunification period, due to the Northern Capital, the Northern Military State, winning a slow and gradual uphill battle for control and taxation of the rural kingdoms in absorbed in the island, and in defeating their Southern rivals. The reestablishment of a functional all-encompassing bureaucracy is considered the hallmarks of this phase as is the re-structuring of ancient roads. A total ideological revision occurred around the divinity of the Imperial Figure occurred in 914 (AD) following the Divinity Proclamation of the Court of Empress Tohorin, albeit the military aristocracy and the civil bureaucracy held the real power. Many old temples and deities were destroyed or outright censored save for the Sun Goddess Tohorin and the old animistic shrines to blood-relatives and nameless natural spirits. The greatest ideological triumph of this period was the creation of a sense of civic duty among the Capital City and citizenship based on being related to the Sun Goddess, a mix between reminiscences of old Rome and a very local notion of ethnocentric ancestor-veneration and "exceptionalism".

Most importantly, the use of formations and "artillery" (catapults) that had been observed by Tohorinese attachés for centuries in the West had led to not only the learning of such strategies to counter a hypothetical Roman takeover, but also to local innovations even after contact with Europe ceramic tar-grenades, and eventually, the use of explosives from the inner desert's saltpeter deposits. All these things would come to mold and evolve into our very own destructive form of siege and trench warfare that was reduced to a demographic war of attrition, which would ironically be first used between neighbors instead of an external threat.