Tribal Wars (1685 CE - 1788 CE)
A VÍhitap Conqueror on Parade
During the Tribal Wars
The period known as the Tribal Wars were an extraordinarily chaotic period in MÍnnan history. Population growth and an increase in foreign trade encouraged territorial growth by the once fairly cooperative tribal groups. A race between the over three hundred separate tribal groups of the nation began to capture critical resources to support trade and growth. This growth led to larger armies and a growing series of intertribal alliances that formed a complex web of political connections across the nation. The size, frequency and scale of conflict gradually escalated over this period.
Wars of tribal conquest became the norm as disputes between territorial boundaries increased. Absorption of smaller, weaker tribes became the norm. Occasionally, especially powerful vÍhitap could gather support for rebellions, and new tribal groups would break off from larger ones in civil conflicts. The territorial map of the MÍnna became a constantly shifting entity as tribes grew, disappeared, broke apart, shrunk and shifted their land claims.
This escalation of conflict encouraged the rise of charismatic Hitap warlords. Of particular note were two young men from current day Shu‚ territory, Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ and Hitap TuspÍsÍt Pash. Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ was the son of Hitap St‚hak KiukÍ, leader of the Shu‚, and was his father's heir. Born in 1760, St‚hak was raised in his father's house, a large fortress, where he had incredible wealth, the greatest tutors, and dozens of servants. He was trained in the arts of war, foreign language and poetry, and was a well-known archer and horseman. Even amongst the vÍhitap'at, Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ was raised in extraordinary luxury for the time, carefully guarded from potential assassination attempts by tribal rivals.
Hitap TuspÍsÍt Pash, on the other hand, had been born in similar luxury, but was not familiar to owning it himself. His father had been the leader of a minor tribe, the Mau ShuvihÍw‚, who had been defeated and absorbed by the larger and more prosperous Ashuvi. TuspÍsÍt's mother had managed to escape being taken as a hostage, along with her son, and had run to the Shu‚, with whom she shared blood going back to the tribe founder, Shu‚ Shu‚. TuspÍsÍt's father was executed, and his younger sister was kept as a hostage by the Ashuvi. TuspÍsÍt's mother was accepted into the household of Hitap St‚hak KiukÍ, but died soon after, and so TuspÍsÍt was left orphaned at the age of four as an honoured guest in the home of a very distant cousin. He had access to no material wealth or warriors of his own, and grew up relying wholly on the temperamental generosity of Hitap St‚hak KiukÍ.
St‚hak KiukÍ saw TuspÍsÍt as a potential opportunity to either conquer the growing Ashuvi territory or to gain them as an ally later. As the only free heir of the Mau ShuvihÍw‚ people's warlord, TuspÍsÍt had the potential to incite rebellion, or to be used as a bargaining chip in later discussions. While TuspÍsÍt was given tutoring, servants and training, he was kept as little more than a glorified prisoner in Hitap St‚hak KiukÍ's home. Despite this, TuspÍsÍt and St‚hak S‚ntÍ, being very close in age and similar in interests, became rapid friends. At the age of eight, the two boys made an oath to each other, cutting their hands with kÍplisii and naming each other as brothers, a solemn rite. From that moment forward, they would treat each other as kin.
As the boys grew older, they both excelled in military training, but they diverged on several main points. TuspÍsÍt was fascinated in studying foreign militaries, politics and art, although he came to see the flaws of foreign powers as abusive and decadent. He also came to enjoy the company of many of the more radical priests who came to the Shu‚ lands. These priests espoused ideas of peace between the tribes, and a few began to foment new ideas in TuspÍsÍt's head: the concept of MÍnnan unification and the formation of a modern MÍnnan state. This came to be TuspÍsÍt's dream, the dream of MÍnna Shuli, a State of the People. However, it ran counter to traditional tribalists, who saw the independence of the tribes and the right of the vÍhitap'at to pursue their own independent wealth and prestige as sacrosanct.
Despite their differing political opinions, the two boys remained firm friends into adulthood. The pair were left in charge of the Shu‚ many times in their youth, with the aid of advisors, when St‚hak KiukÍ went off to conquer nearby tribes. Together, they oversaw building projects around St‚hak KiukÍ's home, learned the organization of defenses, and oversaw disputes between vÍhitap, setting the basis for their own future rules.
St‚hak's rule came sooner than the boy had expected. In 1777, while his father was overseeing coastal raids, a storm whipped up and drove the warlord's canoe into bluffs. He was rescued from the water by his men and returned to his home, but the cold seas had taken their toll and he came down with a case of pneumonia that claimed his life not long later. St‚hak S‚ntÍ inherited his father's home and rule of the Shu‚. There were some contestations, but St‚hak was able to defeat them all, either with the aid of TuspÍsÍt's contingent of low-caste friends whom he turned into an impromptu intelligence service, or through 'esh. St‚hak was now in charge of the Shu‚ tribe, with TuspÍsÍt as one of his closest advisors.
TuspÍsÍt wasted little time in asking his blood-brother for a favour. He had been in Shu‚ territory for 13 years while his last remaining family, his sister Hitap TuspÍsÍt Atshasat, remained a hostage. TuspÍsÍt asked the newly empowered St‚hak to help him in her rescue, and to aid him in retaking his tribal territory. St‚hak agreed, and the pair marched to war against the Shuvi, their first chance to test their skills in large scale combat. The pair were markedly successful in this endeavor, raising the local Mau ShuvihÍw‚ against the Shuvi, who were defeated within weeks. TuspÍsÍt gave three-quarters of the captured Shuvi to St‚hak, as well as spoils from his ancestral home and, most importantly, the hand of his rescued sister in marriage. Going forward, they believed, their lines would be tied together by blood. Unfortunately, this wouldn't come to pass. TuspÍsÍt Atshasat would marry St‚hak, but died in childbirth less than a year later. It was unclear as to whether or not the child was even St‚hak's, as it very well could have been sired while she was a hostage of the Shuvi.
The death of his sister caused TuspÍsÍt to begin considering his legacy, and he began openly proclaiming his support for MÍnnan unity. At this time, he was mostly laughed off by other tribes, and in order to avoid embarassment, St‚hak began to distance himself from his blood-brother. At the M‚k Na feast of 1778, several warlords gathered to celebrate and discuss a possible alliance between their tribes, including TuspÍsÍt, who had won several victories against attacking tribes in his early reign and had begun to gain a name as a tactician, and St‚hak, who had conquered a half dozen smaller nearby tribes. While the two already had an alliance, neither had called upon it since they had retaken the lands of the Mau ShuvihÍw‚. At the feast, while everyone was drunk, TuspÍsÍt began to outline his dream of unification. Another warlord, Hitap Hasha Ita, insulted him, and the pair swiftly escalated verbal jabs until Hasha challenged 'esh. TuspÍsÍt agreed and called upon St‚hak to back him and his honour. Such a move would inevitably ally St‚hak with TuspÍsÍt's dream, and he refused. TuspÍsÍt fought and won the 'esh, drawing some support and prestige, but St‚hak's refusal to back him inevitably sundered their connection, and they left on harsh words. The pair would not speak to each other again for nearly a decade, and never again as friends.
The Khas-Kirat people had been trading in MihÍkallu
since the times of the first Khas-Kirat Empire for
rare goods, such as zebra skins, obsidian, beryl,
garnet and local woods. As the Tribal Wars began to
escalate into the 1700s, the primary goods
demanded for by the vÍkivÍv'at who ran the city
were the new weapons from foreign lands: guns and
cannons. The introduction of these weapons into
MÍnna Shuli was a slow trickle at first, but had
became a flood by the 1750s. This nearly caused
ecological disaster, with hunters wiping out vast
populations of animals to try and gather exchange
materials for the weapons. Some of the merchant
caste traded for the methods of making the weapons
and began producing certain local versions in very
small supplies, but trade was still required for the
materials to make them and for continued weapons
since local production couldn't keep up with demand.
The tribal wars were interrupted and, ultimately, ended by a new conflict. In 1780, the Xiangu Hangate (Wellsia) established a garrison and trading post at the location of modern day KuhÍtulka. Over the next two years, the East Xiangu Company entrenched the new community, trading with locals and beginning to move in ships, equipment and supplies. While conflicts with the local Shu‚ tribes did occur, this occupation of the isle was mostly peaceful in its early days.
However, in 1782, Xiangu leveraged its position with dreams of empire. The invasion began swiftly, with the Attack at Kush‚ and the Massacre at Xuta Hill. Conflicts between tribes prevented a unified response at first, and the technologically superior Xiangus made rapid headway in their bid to conquer the mainland. Soon enough, however, the nearby tribes began to see the potent threat on their doorstep and set aside their differences to combat the foreign invaders. The warlords of the tribes came together, forming a war council that would later form part of the inspiration for the S‚tÍp.
This war was particularly useful to Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ. The Shu‚ warlord used the opportunity to absorb many nearby tribes and to build his own forces and reputation as a commander. While he was not yet the leader of his people, the respect accorded to him was second only to his uncle, and his victories against the Xiangus and the honour he accorded to traditional tribal ways earned him a broad array of allies. His marriage to Hitap HashatÍ Mputa, the daughter of Hitap HashatÍ MÍtta, in 1784 carried with it particular relevance, as he symbolically refused to merge their tribes, but instead allowed his wife to retain control of her people, although he effectively had control of her 1000 warriors. This referred back to a similar action between their tribes nearly a century and a half earlier, and represented his continued support for tribal individualism.
The war was extraordinarily bloody for both sides and wound up lasting three years. Xiangu's main difficulty lay in supply line distribution, which had to be supported through the single hub of their trading post, and which was unfortunately thin across their warzones. MÍnnan fighters, with superior knowledge of the terrain and with better experience in fighting in local conditions, could easily disrupt supply lines, leading to widespread starvation or reliance on local hunting and gathering amongst the Xiangu attackers. In addition, while the Xiangus had superiority of firepower and technology, the MÍnnan fighters had superiority in numbers and could often just throw more men at the problem when required. The MÍnnan forces faced their biggest threats in a lack of unity between the various tribes, limited supplies of firearms and ammunition, and the limitations of their caste system in being able to deal with rapid deployment of newly trained troops. Both sides grew increasingly desperate for a victory, and by 1785 the MÍnnan forces were on the brink of dissolution.
It was in then that MÍnnan forces finally pushed back the invaders in a final attack on the Xiangu garrison. Hitap Itpa 'asha gathered thousands of boats, many of which were filled with dummies. In the darkness of night, the canoes were strung together and floated towards the garrison in imitation of an armada. As the garrison opened fire on the distraction, forces from the MÍnna approached in secret from the swamps. A small group of warriors from the MÍnna scaled the walls and sabotaged the Xiangu powder stores, causing an explosion and fire which took out part of the walls. As the Xiangu forces realized what was happening, the MÍnna swarmed the walls and passed through the new hole. The remainder of the battle did not take long, as Hitap Itpa wound up killing the garrison commander herself. The Xiangus attempted to retreat by ship, and while some got away, at least two ships were burned to the waterline before they could make their way away.
The Battle of a Thousand Canoes was a terrifying display of the potential of a unified MÍnnan people, conquering the trading post and cutting off Xiangu supplies. Within days, Xiangu forces on the MÍnnan mainland surrendered, and were allowed to leave the country. No Xiangu ships were allowed to dock in MÍnna for nearly a century following the war. What the Xiangu didn't know was that the council of chiefs who had been running the war had been on the brink of surrender themselves, and that the attack on the trading post had been an unauthorized assault by a collection of VÍhitap'at generals without the allowance of their superiors. Had the assault failed, MÍnna would have been conquered as the first step in a Xiangu empire within weeks.
Hitap TuspÍsÍt Pash
Unifier of the MÍnna
The narrow victory of the War of Xiangu Conquest war began to convince many of Hitap TuspÍsÍt's calls for unification. The young prince began to find broader support, but resistance among traditional tribalists continued to swell. Foremost among his opponents was his blood-brother, with whom he had grown distanced as a result of his radical politics. As Hitap St‚hak and Hitap TuspÍsÍt drifted apart in their friendship, each began consolidating power, and they became rivals.
War broke out between these factions soon after the end of the war with Xiangu. Only a few short weeks later, TuspÍsÍt had established a treaty with the ShiÍtu tribes, organizing his own marriage to the war-hero Hitap Itpa 'asha to bond the Mau ShuvihÍw‚ and ShiÍtu into a single tribe. This, along with TuspÍsÍt's alliances with other nearby tribes, worried St‚hak. Threatened by his blood-brother's rise, St‚hak attacked TuspÍsÍt's wedding with an army of 3,000 troops. TuspÍsÍt and his wife managed to escape the slaughter, and gathered their soldiers, beginning the Battle of the Wedding. TuspÍsÍt was defeated, but St‚hak had horrified and alienated potential followers and allies by breaking the protections of holy rites like weddings, and for keeping 70 young female captives without the traditional respect to tribal ransom. Those who had seen St‚hak as a defender of the traditional ways of the tribes began to grow concerned, and a few withdrew their support of the young warlord entirely.
TuspÍsÍt and Itpa retreated to the safety of TuspÍsÍt's uncle's lands, where they regrouped. TuspÍsÍt sent messages to several neutral tribal warlords and chieftains, decrying the violence perpetrated by St‚hak and his men. He was certain to try and get his messages to the furthest flung tribal lords before St‚hak could weave his own narrative, sending his fastest elite cavalry on the mission. He organized a meeting with those who sent a response, bringing his own allies with him, and began planning a military response against those who did not, assuming that they would eventually ally with St‚hak. At the meeting, he made a rousing plea for unity, hearkening back to the war against Xiangu, and framed St‚hak as a brute and opportunist who was taking advantage of divisions between tribes to conquer and absorb smaller groups. TuspÍsÍt claimed that he was not calling for a dissolution of the tribal cultures, but a unity of purpose against invaders. He ended his speech with the words that would later become the nation's motto, "Tunlam K‚x, Shuli K‚x, HÍvi K‚x" or "Strong Tribe, Strong Nation, Strong World". With these words, TuspÍsÍt shifted the dynamic of the argument away from discussions of traditionalism versus modernism, and placed unification on the side of the tribes as opposed to being antithetical to tribal authority. St‚hak was now characterized as the one opposing tribal authority by being framed as a bloodthirsty conqueror.
Not everyone at the meeting was won over by TuspÍsÍt, but those who were agreed to an alliance. TuspÍsÍt allowed those who were opposed to leave, but silently added them to his list of military targets. He and his allies pretended to move on to the traditional celebrations of a newly formed alliance, but he then called a second, secret meeting. There, he outlined his military plans.
St‚hak had not been inactive while TuspÍsÍt was planning, and came to believe that TuspÍsÍt was planning a counterattack for revenge on the Battle of the Wedding. TuspÍsÍt's spies within St‚hak's house had passed on the message that St‚hak was preparing defenses and readying for a assault, calling many of his allies from across the tribes to Shu‚ lands to prepare for the perceived invasion. TuspÍsÍt knew that an advance against St‚hak would be disastrous without further support for his cause, and if it wouldn't come from peaceful discussion, he was willing to win it through war.
Before TuspÍsÍt revolutionized intertribal cooperation
and communication, MÍnnan warfare was extra-
ordinarily focused on tribes as individual units. While
alliances might be formed and armies gathered
consisting of multiple tribes, each individual tribe
within such a coalition would act independently of the
others. Any given objective in an operation would only
be pursued by members of a single tribe. As such,
intelligence gathering through scouting focused mostly
on watching for movements from large bodies of a
single tribe, as opposed to the actions of smaller groups
of warriors. The concept of mixed tribal "companies"
was an unfamiliar idea which TuspÍsÍt utilized in the
early stages of the war to gain the advantage of
In addition, the old ways were often predicated on the
prestige or honour of the commander. This undermined
cohesiveness, as the leaders of specific tribes might
break from established plans or goals to capture an
objective that would bring them more prestige, often
interfering with other members of the alliance as a
result. It was not uncommon for alliances to last only a
single battle, with the actions of a tribal leader in battle
breaking the alliance due to the harsh feelings of their
allies. TuspÍsÍt enforced a the concept of "group
prestige", where the prestige gained from battle was
predicated on the success of the overall strategy as
opposed to the actions of the individual. Rewards were
not doled out based on independent valor, but based
on the success of the group in following their tactics.
The basics of these ideas were presented to his allies at that first night, as well as the initial strategy for the war. While St‚hak's army remained dug in, TuspÍsÍt would spread deliberate misinformation by sending the bulk of the new alliances forces to act under the guise of preparing a revenge attack, as old rules of honour would dictate. Meanwhile, TuspÍsÍt and Itpa took a smaller collection of the coalitions forces, comprised of units from multiple tribes to disguise their exit from the main bulk, and marched them towards the lands of St‚hak's allies. These lands had been left lightly defended under the impression that TuspÍsÍt would seek the prestige and honour of facing St‚hak head-on in retaliation for the Battle of the Wedding. Most of the lands had been left in the care of the heirs of the various tribal leaders. TuspÍsÍt sent word ahead to these heirs, offering them an ultimatum: if they surrendered and joined TuspÍsÍt's side, TuspÍsÍt would provide them command of their tribes and a voice in the final shape of the unified nation, as well as the spoils and lands of war. If they refused, he would attack, and there would be no taking of hostages for ransom. With the sudden appearance of an army on their doorstep, many were cowed into submission, and TuspÍsÍt began to take away the support for St‚hak's army. He made sure that great respect and mercy was offered to all those who surrendered, with no hint of any ritual humiliation for the defeated. Instead, they were given a chance to prove themselves to the coalition in battle against those who refused to bend. Any of the new allies who fought bravely against opposition were embraced as equals in the coalition, and were given rewards in the shape of lands and spoils as though their tribe had been the conquering force.
As word spread of TuspÍsÍt's advance, two sets of dominoes began to topple. Firstly, the alliance in St‚hak's land began to hear word that their home territories were being conquered. St‚hak and his allies knew that they had the numbers to defeat TuspÍsÍt's smaller force to retake the captured tribal lands, but also knew that that would open the Shu‚ lands to invasion from the bulk of TuspÍsÍt's alliance. They were caught between a rock and a hard place: the tribal warlords either had to abandon their home territories to TuspÍsÍt's advance, or abandon St‚hak's defense. This was extraordianrily polarizing, especially since their entire moral stance in the fight was predicated on preserving traditional tribal independence, and either action seemed to undermine that goal.
The second was that tribes began to have to judge their stances. Neutrality became less and less of an option as the monolith of TuspÍsÍt and his alliance grew, adding friends and subsuming enemies. Those who had formerly turned TuspÍsÍt down began to send word to either TuspÍsÍt or St‚hak, finally seeking to end their neutrality. TuspÍsÍt, seeing the once-neutral factions that had turned him down now coming to him, offered them a different deal than he had with the sons and daughters of his enemies. Seeing them as potential opportunists, he knew that the only way to assure their loyalty was to buy it in blood. He forced these warlords to tie their lines to those of his allies through marriage, effectively merging various tribes together under broader and broader banners with absolute command provided to those who had already proven their continued loyalty.
St‚hak knew that he was on tenuous ground with many of his allies, and made a drastic decision: he and his coalition would abandon Shu‚ lands entirely and march on TuspÍsÍt's marauding army. The thought was that if they could capture or kill TuspÍsÍt, his coalition would break. In addition, they couldn't continue to allow TuspÍsÍt to foment rebellion against them from their own heirs, as it sent a message to nearby warlords that TuspÍsÍt was higher in prestige than they were.
St‚hak and his army disembarked from his lands on January 3, 1787. Against normal precedent, he left behind no defenders for his lands, and moved as swiftly as possible along the coast. A third of his forces broke off a few days later and boarded war-canoes, which they sailed around Keverai over the next several weeks. Some of these canoes left MÍnnan waters to go as messengers to other nations to seek alliances, carrying with them gifts from St‚hak's treasury. Meanwhile, the rest of St‚hak's men proceeded as swiftly as possible towards the remaining neutral tribes that were in the path of TuspÍsÍt's advance to rally them to his cause.
The main army of TuspÍsÍt's coalition soon realized that St‚hak had abandoned his tribal lands, and swiftly invaded. However, they found much of the land to have been left behind St‚hak in a less-than-desirable state: farms had been burned, cattle run off or slaughtered and left to rot, fortress gates and walls shattered and canoes taken or sunk. There were no spoils in any warlord's household, and no high-ranking men or women left to take as hostages. While the low-castes left behind were quick to call allegiance to their new tribal leaders from TuspÍsÍt's, the capture of the Shu‚ lands could ultimately be seen as a shot in the foot for the army. They had to make the decision to try and hold the land, which would require repairing damaged fortifications and moving in food from other holdings to feed both their warriors and the locals, all under threat of possible raid while spreading their own forces thinner, or to abandon the new territory. Abandoning the territory could lead to the spread of disease if the starving and weakened locals decided to cross into TuspÍsÍt's territory. at the least, it would leave a back door open for discontent low-caste rebels or for St‚hak's army to return. TuspÍsÍt's allies ultimately decided to try and hold the territory. At the very least, much of the garrison at KuhÍtulka was still relatively intact, and could be manned in defense of a possible return of St‚hak's forces.
St‚hak's army passed through several neutral tribal territories to cut off TuspÍsÍt's advance, which was met along the banks of Ihwala MusÍ near MihÍkallu, almost at the location of modern day Shuhakallu. TuspÍsÍt's army was outnumbered by nearly three-to-one but better rested than St‚hak's men, who had had to push at an extraordinary pace to catch TuspÍsÍt. In addition, TuspÍsÍt and his men had had over a year of experience fighting alongside one another, while St‚hak's men were out-of-practice aside from minor border skirmishes and prevention of local rebellion. Despite this, the First Battle of the Delta (March 30, 1786 CE - April 3, 1786 CE) was a bloody stalemate, a running battle which lasted three days. Near the end of the battle, TuspÍsÍt and St‚hak faced each other in 'esh, a combat which went to TuspÍsÍt. Many believe the war would have ended at that point, had TuspÍsÍt not spared St‚hak in memory of their status as blood-brothers. He left St‚hak with a blooding-scar on his cheek and asked for parley. St‚hak accepted the parley, but refused to surrender the battle, as his side's numerical superiority was beginning to take hold as attrition came into effect. Despite this, they eventually agreed to part and end the battle under terms of truce. There would be peace until Atuvi Shu‚ Shu‚ of that year, a date of importance for the pair's mutual ancestor. Historians aren't completely in agreement as to why this truce was made, but general consensus is that it was to honour predictions made by the priests overseeing the discussion. One of these priests, KiahÍspÍ Shu‚ Atu, is remembered for his poetry, much of which focuses on themes of peace, and it's thought that he and others may have been hoping to create a more lasting truce or treaty between the two sides.
St‚hak and his forces took up camp in MihÍkallu, while TuspÍsÍt and his army withdrew to allied territory amongst the Vivi. In the interim of the truce, TuspÍsÍt took the opportunity to enact plans he had drawn up against future potential enemies, and helped his Vivi allies conquer and unify many of their neighbouring tribes, extending their reach to current-day levels. Meanwhile, St‚hak built his connections with foreign powers. His emissaries had reached out to several nations, the most pertinent of which were Covonant and Belle Ilse en Terre. Covonant, still fresh to the regional stage, saw an economic opportunity to gain influence amongst the MÍnna, while nobles in Belle Ilse en Terre saw an opportunity for self advancement, especially with the gifts they had been brought by St‚hak's representatives. Covonant didn't have the force projection to be able to send troops, but was able to begin sending shipments of weapons to St‚hak and his allies, an easy task now that St‚hak occupied the ancient trading city of MihÍkallu. Knights from Belle Ilse en Terre arrived shortly before Atuvi Shu‚ Shu‚ to lend their support to St‚hak's cause.
As the truce reached its end, the two armies came out of their period of rest. This began a period of careful maneuvering. Both sides sought to choose the battlefields they would fight upon. While TuspÍsÍt's forces had swelled with reinforcements from the main bulk of his army during the truce, the success of his smaller, more mobile army in swiftly taking control of broad swaths of tribal land made him loath to face St‚hak's larger, less coordinated forces in open battle. St‚hak still sought to end the war by killing TuspÍsÍt, something certainly egged on by the blooding he had received at their last meeting and by the fresh loads of guns he had been receiving. While minor skirmishes occurred over the next few months as both armies ranged into nearby lands, absorbing many smaller tribes in their path, the next major battle wouldn't occur until October of 1786 in Sipuxa territory.
Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ
TuspÍsÍt did everything in his power after this battle to achieve diplomatic victory among the remaining tribes not involved in the conflict. He relayed messages of St‚hak's involvement with foreign powers and his open invitation of foreign armies into MÍnnan lands, described horror stories of knights from Belle Ilse en Terre raping and butchering women, children and priests in the open, and took great pains to paint St‚hak as a lackey to foreign powers unable to resist their temptations and as a butcher in his own right. The memory of the Battle of the Wedding and of the War of Xiangu Conquest was still fresh in the minds of many MÍnnan princes, and TuspÍsÍt began to see the last neutral parties in the country swing to his side. He aided those he could in their own, continuing conflicts, and by the end of the spring of the next year, the tribal map of the MÍnna began to closely resemble the final form it would take into the modern day.
St‚hak had attempted to pursue TuspÍsÍt after Imina Gorge, but the death of one of the two commanders who had charged Hitap Itpa, Hitap Ihaka T‚t‚se, led to confusion amongst his ranks. The commander's daughter and heir, Hitap Ihaka Itapak, had aligned herself with TuspÍsÍt early in the conflict, and there was division among the Tas V‚kik among St‚hak's forces as to whether they should follow a prince among their own number as their new warlord and remain associated with St‚hak's cause, or rejoin Hitap Ihaka Itapak on TuspÍsÍt's side. Their tribal lands were firmly controlled by TuspÍsÍt's forces and Ihaka Itapak, but her cousin, Ihaka Mpi, had a legitimate claim to inheritance. The quarrel eventually broke out into combat, which ignited similar, minor rebellions throughout St‚hak's forces. Stahak found himself having to quell internal problems while TuspÍsÍt set the narrative and gained allies among the rest of the nation.
As spring came, St‚hak had managed to return his forces to order. He had begun implementing some of TuspÍsÍt's changes himself in the wake of the unrest, and was again ready to return to the greater conflict, but knew he had to be more careful now. His numbers had been depleted, and the two sides were beginning to look more and more comparable in numerical strength. What St‚hak had that TuspÍsÍt did not was foreign support and wealth, his control over MihÍkallu having provided him direct access to the strongest trade market in all of the MÍnnan lands. He could continue to provide his commanders and men wealth and rewards, and the ancient city retained many of its strong defensive fortifications form times long past. St‚hak thought that if he could lure TuspÍsÍt into an attack against the city, he would be able to hold out through the incoming ships of his foreign allies.
Having learned of TuspÍsÍt's spies, St‚hak split off a number of his best and most trusted men from the city and began to march them west, making it seem like he was heading back to his lands to try and retake them. He let word spread among the merchant caste that his times of instability weren't over, and that the garrison at MihÍkallu were fomenting rebellion. Then, he waited. TuspÍsÍt took the bait and moved his forces towards the city, hoping to cut of St‚hak's material support. As TuspÍsÍt began his assault on the city, St‚hak swung his elite forces around and waited. The commander of the garrison made overtures of parley, and while TuspÍsÍt rode forward to meet with the man, cutting he and his guard off from the bulk of his army, St‚hak struck. His elite cavalry and cannon smashed into the flank of TuspÍsÍt's men. The garrison in the city likewise began to open fire. TuspÍsÍt's army was caught between the walls of MihÍkallu, the Ihwala Muse, and St‚hak's army. This began the Second Battle of the Delta (February 26, 1787).
TuspÍsÍt was cut off from most of his forces, and was forced to retreat while harried by cavalry. At first, St‚hak's plan worked perfectly. However, as TuspÍsÍt's army regained their footing, it became clear that St‚hak's forces outside the walls weren't going to be enough to break TuspÍsÍt's. While TuspÍsÍt's men had taken a great many losses in the initial attack, especially TuspÍsÍt's personal guard who had lost nine out of every ten men, once they had regrouped they could resist St‚hak's charges. As their leader returned to the army, they rallied and managed to hold the line, although unbeknownst to them TuspÍsÍt had actually been struck by a bullet in the thigh and had fought much of the battle wounded. With the bulk of his infantry inside the walls of the city, St‚hak saw his best opportunity to be to simply withdraw and pull TuspÍsÍt into a siege. TuspÍsÍt refused to take the bait, and instead ordered a withdrawal of his men up the Ihwala Muse.
In a change of pace for TuspÍsÍt, once the battle was over, he turned back and returned his army to Mau ShuvihÍw‚ lands. His wife had become pregnant, and he wanted to wait out the pregnancy in the safety of his own lands and by rejoining the two halves of his forces. In a role reversal from earlier in the conflict, the next nine months saw St‚hak ranging out to tribal lands to attack the homes of TuspÍsÍt's allies. TuspÍsÍt had prepared for this, however, and had made sure to withdraw as many people, as much food, and as much wealth as possible with him. Entire tribal groups had uprooted and followed along with TuspÍsÍt to his lands in a show of incredible unity. However, while this left St‚hak with little to conquer, it put massive strain on the resources in the west, and disease and starvation began to become a serious problem.
In addition, the withdrawal of the priestly caste in these areas left many tombs untended for and unguarded, a tremendous problem for the MÍnna. While MÍnnan warriors could be trusted not to destroy, damage or loot tombs out of respect, the same could not be said of the warriors of Belle Ilse en Terre. While most modern tombs didn't interest them, the pyramid tombs of old MÍnna held great interest for them, and they began to ransack these tombs for their wealth, artwork and the mummies within. This was an incredibly grave insult to the MÍnna, who believed that the destruction of these tombs was paramount to killing off their ancestor's souls.
As word began to spread of this tomb-raiding, St‚hak's allies made calls for him to cut off ties with the foreign desecrators. More and more, TuspÍsÍt's claims that St‚hak was being manipulated by foreign powers that he was too weak to resist looked accurate. In January of 1788, a number of merchants, workers and warriors in MihÍkallu, under the direction of several angry, militant priests, boarded a Covonantian merchant vessel carrying weapons and powder and burned it to the waterline. Within the city, violent mobs formed hunting down all foreign merchants. The MihÍkallu Massacre marked a drastic turning point in the war, and saw the beginning of St‚hak's downfall. He was forced to cut-off his foreign allies or lose control of his coalition, and with this end of the alliance, his material superiority began to dwindle. Both sides saw themselves reverting more and more to traditional forms of warfare as access to gunpowder, shot and new equipment began to fall. By the end of the MÍnnan year in July, it became increasingly clear that victory would have to come swiftly for one side or the other, or the toll on resources and health would become too much for the tribes to handle.
St‚hak knew that he would have to take desperate gamble to defeat TuspÍsÍt. With his rival's army united and bedded down in Mau ShuvihÍw‚ and Shu‚ territory, a direct assault from head on would be foolish. His best opportunity would be to get behind the opposing forces and take out TuspÍsÍt's house itself. To do so would require a dangerous gambit. St‚hak again split his forces. As they marched north to Kil‚mkallu past Mau ShuvihÍw‚ territory, St‚hak took a large contingent of his men and brought them west into the desert. TuspÍsÍt ordered his armies to move north after St‚hak while remaining behind with his newborn son. This is where St‚hak's gamble took hold.
St‚hak attempted the bold move of crossing the mountains by foot to enter TuspÍsÍt's territory and capture the rival warlord by surprise while his army was occupied near Kil‚mkallu. Unfortunately, fate had a different plan in mind. On the morning of August 10, 1788, as Hitap St‚hak crossed the mountains near NimitihÍ, the volcano exploded. The largest modern eruption on record in MÍnna Shuli, fully three-quarters of Hitap St‚hak's men were killed by poison gas, magma and falling stone. Without the support of St‚hak's army, and viewing the smoke from the mountains as a sign, Hitap St‚hak's allies broke, and the subsequent rout ended open combats in the war. TuspÍsÍt heard word soon after and sent out forays towards the devestation, and wound up capturing the surviving members of St‚hak's band, including St‚hak himself. The war was over.
Dawn of the Modern Era (1788 CE - 1894 CE)
Time of Trials and the Keverai Expedition (1871 CE - 1891 CE) | The Starving Years (1880 CE - 1894 CE)
Foreign trade in MihÍkallu,
overseen by a KivÍv merchant
The eruption of NimitihÍ effectively ended the war between Hitap St‚hak S‚ntÍ and Hitap TuspÍsÍt Pash. Hitap TuspÍsÍt consolidated his gains and created the first TÍmÍnna S‚tÍp as a council of the leadership of the now-unified tribes. The first meeting of the S‚tÍp was held on September 2, where Hitap TuspÍsÍt was named the first 'uhitap. Hitap St‚hak was killed in captivity on October 14, 1788, preventing him from again rallying support to his side.
The next decade was shaped by the new government quashing resistance to the new, unified rule, all while formulating the laws of rulership that would define the future of the nation. Many of Hitap St‚hak's allies remained active, but without their leader they had broken apart, many of them without home territories to return to. These rogue warlords continued to harry the infant nation, and it was the primary focus of the new S‚tÍp to deal with them. Those who did not become rebels within the new state escaped to the seas, and began to build a reputation for themselves as pirates and corsairs.
While Hitap TuspÍsÍt wanted the role of 'uhitap to be hereditary, hearkening back to ancient empires, traditional tribal chiefs and foreign kings, he found resistance among the new S‚tÍp, and the death of his son in 1799 effectively ended his direct bloodline and any hopes he had for hereditary monarchy. Instead, the role of 'uhitap became cemented as the role of an elected monarch, which became the precedent on to the current day.
Initially, the capitol of the new nation was centered on MihÍkallu, but 'uhitap TuspÍsÍt ordered the construction of a new city across the river from the ancient trade hub. This would become Shuhakallu, and it's population would swell as the nation began its first steps into unity. The Twin Cities of MihÍkallu and Shuhakallu grew to be the center of the culture of the new nation. VÍhitap from all the tribes flocked to these cities to gain connections and wealth, while lower caste individuals arrived for work. While much of the country remained quite similar in its day-to-day life as before unification, albeit with their rulers now working as a cooperative whole and a cohesive distribution of resources, the Twin Cities began to develop into something of a more modern edifice.
Continued resistance to foreign involvement in MÍnna Shuli's affairs set up isolationist policies in these early days of the nation. Those nations which had stood next to St‚hak were banned from the country, and all other foreign ships could only enter ports in MihÍkallu, where all trade was enacted through the merchant caste. The vÍkivÍv'at actually began to see their wealth swell during this period as their influence over foreign trade grew. The urban vÍkim‚'at, or warrior caste, grew increasingly resentful of the merchants at this time, who were technically lower than them on the caste structure, but many of whom were rapidly accruing large amounts of wealth. At first, this would cause little issue, but this discontent would eventually blossom into the new era's first open rebellion against the state.
'uhitap TuspÍsÍt oversaw the first fifteen years of the nation's development, before passing away on November 12, 1812, at the age of 52. The political turmoil following his death as the tribes each put forth their candidate for 'uhitap was all enough to stir the negative emotions of the warrior caste. The brewing ill feelings were increased by several remaining allies of St‚hak, who would come out of the woodwork in the wilds to aid the discontent warriors in the Spring VÍkim‚'at Rebellion.
HÍluk Kima, the Law of the Warrior, is a central tenet
of the vÍkim‚'at through to the modern day. These
principles serve as the basis for all vÍkim‚'at training
and behaviour, and are seen as sacred and inviolable
to them. Similar to the Bushido Code of the Samurai
or the European Code of Chivalry, HÍluk Kima are the
code of moral principles which a warrior in MÍnnan
culture must observe. The code somewhat differs in
wording from tribe to tribe, but the basics remain the
same: righteousness, courage, respect, duty and
mastery. A very important rule was deference to the
vÍhitap'at and an oath to protect and serve all of the
high castes. Killing of a hitap without the orders of
another hitap was a great dishonour, as illustrated
perfectly with the death of Hitap Pishat‚tÍ Shaka.
The Spring VÍkim‚'at Rebellion occurred between March 10, 1813 and May 22, 1813. It began when a large contingent of unemployed vÍkim‚'at in Shuhakallu marched against the Hall of the S‚tÍp, initially in a form of peaceful protest encouraged by tribalist priests. They were demanding a distribution of wealth to the vÍkim‚'at, who could no longer independently support themselves through raiding of nearby tribes, and now saw the "lesser" vÍkivÍv'at caste becoming wealthier than they off the back of trade and commerce. However, due to their right as warriors, all of the marchers were armed, and the S‚tÍp ordered the new MÍnnan Army to stand against them. Hostilities escalated quickly, and combat broke out between the two sides.
The protestors were dispersed, but many fled the city and into the wilds, where they convened to the north-east of the city. They journeyed to the small village of KunÍshÍktÍmilu, where the local warlord was known to have remained neutral until the latest parts of the Unification War, and begged him for aid. The warlord, Hitap Pishat‚tÍ Shaka, had been in dispute with the new government over the new taxes presented by them, especially their requirements from his fisheries on the lake. He heard the warriors and decided to shelter them. Exiled vÍhitap heard of this shelter and quickly flocked with their own small groups of bandits and outlaws to the village.
The government, hearing of this, sent a message to Pishat‚tÍ with an ultimatum: he would either turn away the rebels immediately, or face immediate reprisals. Pishat‚tÍ, who was seeing his village swell with criminal activity and his larders and hunting grounds succumbing to the onslaught of new mouths, was cowed, and attempted to turn away the warriors. However, it was too late, and he didn't have the forces to push them away. As his insistence that they leave increased, several conspirators among the burgeoning rebel army decided to eliminate the Hitap. A servant overheard the conspiracy and warned Pishat‚tÍ, who attempted to flee his home with his family in the evening of April 2, 1813. They were captured by vÍkim‚ outriders as they fled and were executed by firing line that same night.
This break from the Law of the Warrior and the assassination of a Hitap forced the immediate hand of the government. For the first time, they marched a sizable contingent of their forces en masse against an enemy force. Rebel vÍkim‚ harried the marching army in guerrilla fashion while their forces dug in at KunÍshÍktÍmilu. However, when the Army arrived, the siege was fairly swift, lasting only four days. The vÍkim‚ and exile army were poorly equipped, and Pishat‚tÍ's armory and stores had not been enough to heavily supplement their meager weapons and food stores. Outgunned, they broke apart under the government's assault and dispersed again into the forests and jungles, taking heavy losses in the process. The leaders of the rebel army, Kilu Shu‚ X‚li and Hitap TÍtÍ ¬nup, agreed that surrender was their only option, and sent word to the government forces. However, the S‚tÍp and the new 'uhitap, Hitap Kashatu KÍv‚t, believed that the rebels needed to be made an example to discourage further rebellion going forward. They turned down the peace offer and order the execution of all the rebels captured in the final assault on KunÍshÍktÍmilu. However, they quietly realized that the vÍkim‚'at would continue to rebel over and over again in coming years if nothing was done, as their numbers now outstripped the need for them, given the reduction in local conflict. As such, they began discussing legislation that would reorganize wealth distribution for the vÍkim‚'at.
The rebellion was forced to continue, albeit without a base of operations. What followed was a disorganized asymmetric conflict, with the rebels acting as guerrillas in the woods while being hunted by government forces. Occasionally, small groups would coalesce into larger forces and larger battles would break out, such as the Battle of the Lake and the Battle of Twenty Trees, but the rebellion was unable to win any major victories. They were slowly pushed back into the densest rainforest.
The rebellion had, by this point, realized there was no hope of victory, and any overture of surrender was bound to fail. The remaining vÍkim‚ were pushed back to Shima Hill where, in a final battle, Army troops under the command of Hitap ¬spu Kikut outnumbered the rebels 60-to-1. However, ¬spu was determined to leave nothing to chance. The government troops spent several days constructing an elaborate system of ditches, walls and obstacles to prevent another escape by the rebels. The government forces finally began their assault on Shima Hill on May 21, 1813. By 6 a.m. on May 22, only 40 rebels were still alive. Hitap TÍtÍ ¬nup was dead and Kilu Shu‚ X‚li was severely wounded. Shu‚, despite his wounds, led the last of the rebels in one final charge. They drew their swords and plunged downhill toward the government positions and to their deaths. With these deaths, the Spring VÍkim‚'at Rebellion came to an end.
Opening Up and the Foreign Wave (1813 CE - 1830 CE)
Following the Spring Rebellion, the S‚tÍp worked on overhauling the vÍkim‚'at training system into a similar form as is seen today. At the same time, 'uhitap Kashatu dedicated himself to strengthening ties with foreign powers. Seeing the new era of ships that were sailing into ports, the 'uhitap became fascinated and wanted to expand the fledgling nation's own mercantile and naval power. Kashatu sent word out to many nations around the region, seeking shipbuilders to come to MÍnna Shuli to teach. He offered great wealth and position to those who could aid in this regard, and foremost among those who took his deal was Rorickk Surhammr of Polar Svalbard. Surhammr was brought to MÍnna Shuli in late 1813, where he began teaching local scholars and artisans the modern methods of ship construction that he knew. By the end of 1814, he helped establish the TÍhaÍvu Shipyards, and a district of that city bears a MÍnnization of his name to this day: Sulh‚m.
'uhitap Kashatu opened up trade in other ways as well, allowing ships to pass into harbors in coastal cities other than MihÍkallu. Small enclaves of foreigners began to exist in coastal cities, although their spread into the heartlands of the country were still limited by law and custom. In addition, worship of foreign religions was highly suppressed at first. The priestly caste were adamant that foreign faiths be banned in MÍnna Shuli, and 'uhitap Kashatu agreed. While he would allow foreigners to continue their worship in private, any gatherings of faithful or public declarations of faith were shut down and worshipers arrested.
This religious persecution was perhaps most visible in the crackdown on immigrants from Corindia. These Catholics were escaping similar persecution in their own nation, as they had been expelled for supporting Spain. Initially they set up an enclave in KuhÍtulka near the lower caste neighbourhoods, and began to practice their faith. One particular priest was caught proselytizing in public, drawing many vÍkita'at, and sentenced to lashings under the charges of "illegal sermonizing", "public disruption", and "incitation of caste disruption". Unfortunately, the elderly priest died on the whipping block. This led to riots among the Corindi, which spilled over into low caste riots among the vÍkita'at and undemployed vÍkivÍv'at and vÍkim‚'at. The riots led to the Great KuhÍtulka Fire of 1818, and the Corindi immigrants were subsequently confined to a single district, which came to be known as Kurinikallu (Corindi Town), and which is, to this day, one of the poorest areas in KuhÍtulka. Meanwhile, settlers from Negarakita brought Islam into the nation.
Despite this, immigration began to trickle in, with foreign customs, goods and practices beginning to insinuate themselves into MÍnnan cities. Known as the Foreign Wave (despite its relatively limited extent), this insertion of foreign custom into the nation would form the beginnings of MÍnna Shuli's foreign connections and rivalries, many of which continue to this day.
Befitting 'uhitap Kashatu's somewhat contradictory nature as both a modernizer and traditionalist, his other great contribution to MÍnna Shuli at this time was the foundation of its first Western-styled university. Tihitap MÍx‚ Shuhakallu (the Princely Academy of Shuhakallu), later to become the University of Shuhakallu, was built on the model of foreign universities, and was formally established in 1821. At first, the school was only available to vÍhitap, but was opened to foreign scholarship a year after its establishment, and later to vÍshuplishÍk‚ in 1824. VÍkinux‚t were allowed to attend as of 1831, the same year the school's name was changed to the University of Shuhakallu. The school focused on historical studies, politics, law, linguistics, zoological research and architectural engineering, many of which it is still know for to this day.
MÍnna Shuli has often surprised outsiders with its
extremely forward gender equality. Those unfamiliar
with MÍnnan culture often assume that extreme
inequality would be present between the genders.
However, since the MÍnnan Reconstruction, there has
been little difference in the rights or roles of men and
women within MÍnnan society: both genders have been
able to serve equally in military and leadership positions,
and there is little concept of a "gendered" profession.
Several anthropological explanations have been put
forward to explain this, from the cultural to the linguistic.
The generally accepted view is that the establishment of
the caste system around the time of the Dark Age and
Reconstruction divided society not along gendered lines,
but across class lines that were seen as deeper or more
intrinsic than sex, as well as an evolution of former
MihÍna views on gender, which themselves lacked a
strict binary. Linguists are quick to note that MÍnnan as a
language lacks any grammatical genders, although
whether this is a cause or result of the MÍnnan view on
gender is a scholarly debate.
In 1830, a charismatic young vÍhitap, Hitap Shukushuku AshÍtak, was elected to the S‚tÍp. Shukushuku was (unlike most vÍkivÍl‚) young, idealistic, and not particularly wealthy or from a prestigious family line. Instead, Shukushuku had risen to power through her undeniable charisma and enthusiasm. She began pushing almost immediately for reforms to several major, isolationist and protectionist policies that still remained ingrained in the MÍnnan political system. In addition, she pushed for a new tax structure, loosening of specific caste-specific regulations and limitations, and increased foreign involvement in development outside of simple trade.
Initially ignored and denigrated by her fellows in the S‚tÍp, her political ideas began to catch on among the younger generation of the princely caste, who had been born into life as a unified nation and who had come to study foreign art, culture, history and so forth. Loosening of more traditional and rigid structures was seen as necessary by this particular generation, particularly as they saw the outside world speed forward through the Industrial Revolution, while MÍnnan advancement was much more measured and shallow by contrast. Much of the country, even in the somewhat cosmopolitan cities, was not greatly changed from what it had been thirty years earlier.
It took several years for this support to grow into something efficient within the S‚tÍp, but in 1833, Shukushuku saw the first of her major tax reforms enter into a vote on the floor, with support enough to pass. However, she had rivals that she did not have the influence to overcome: the 'uhitap's conservative advisors in the priesthood and judicial caste, and by extension the 'uhitap himself. The priestly caste had heard of Shukushuku's calls for a reduction of restrictions on foreign worship, which would limit their own influence. Meanwhile, the judges knew that she supported a more uniform legal code of conduct which would likewise limit their capacity to exert influence on the princely caste at a local level.
Shukushuku saw her first piece of major legislation stalled on the floor by a refusal by 'uhitap Kashatu to call it to vote. Refusing to be defeated so easily, Shukushuku stepped back and reassessed her political strategies. With the aid of several close friends and allies, she began to court the further support of the S‚tÍp, and reached out to members of the vÍkinux‚t and vÍshuplishÍk‚ who might be able to aid her goals. In addition, she took a more drastic step. Shukushuku knew that the power of the vÍkinux‚t and vÍshuplishÍk‚ came primarily from their known influence over the merchant and worker castes. If she wished to limit the sway they held over the 'uhitap, she had to first undercut the source of their power. To do so, she announced her intent to legislate against a piece of tradition which had been codified into law during the first days of unfication: the Restriction of Caste Movement.
This was a step that was bound to undercut her efforts to strengthen ties with more traditional vÍkivÍl‚, but was also a necessity of Shukushuku wanted to progress forward in her political career. She was already three years into her first ten year term, and knew that without a win soon, she was unlikely to gain much ground. Furthermore, unlike some members of the S‚tÍp who were content to remain silent and coast out their terms, she had made enough noise that a failure to succeed would be seen as a tremendous loss of prestige, and she would be likely to lose her seat when the time for reelection came up. Shukushuku had longer term plans, and refused to be stonewalled.
Her announcement kicked a hornet's nest. The vÍkita'at, traditionally ignored and forgotten in political matters, seemed to crawl out of the woodwork. Marches and displays in support of Shukushuku's calls against the Restriction swelled, and the army was called in several times to break them up. The vÍkivÍv'at, especially the richest merchants, began to leverage their vÍhitap backers to support Shukushuku's policies. Members of both the priestly and judicial castes both saw that if they were to retain the respect accorded to them by the lower castes, they would at least have to make a show of supporting Shukushuku, or they would risk the ire of the mob. Fearing a more disastrous repeat of the Spring VÍkim‚'at Rebellion which had marred the beginning of his reign, 'uhitap Kashatu quietly allowed Shukushuku's original tax legislation to go to vote and succeed on the floor, hoping this would pull her leash.
The Restriction of Caste Movement was an ancient
tradition before being codified into law at the unification of
MÍnna Shuli. It was one of the primary restrictions placed
on low-caste individuals, including warrior caste, merchant
caste and worker caste. The Restriction of Caste Movement
provided for specific rules as to the capacity of low-caste
individuals to travel from place-to-place or to change
permanent dwelling location. Most strongly affected were
members of the worker caste, who were not only
prevented from leaving the country, but couldn't move to
new communities without the express permission of a
prince to whom they owed direct tribal loyalty. While the
law was often broken, finding work without a Writ of
Permission was nearly impossible, at least of any sort of
quality, and this directly led to the establishment of slums
and horrible working conditions which persist to this day.
The technology of steam-power was growing in other nations around the Isles, and Shukushuku saw the great potential in the technology to further unite the still disparate country and to enrichen those who controlled it. To this end, she secretly explained a new idea to her fellows in the S‚tÍp, a plan which would greatly enhance their wealth. By creating a central organization within the government based on the standards of foreign companies, and placing members of the S‚tÍp in charge, they had the potential to make vast sums of money.
This group reached out to trade partners in Verdon and offered a deal. The S‚tÍp would offer a special deal for companies from Verdon to operate within MÍnna Shuli, and in exchange, Verdon would underwrite the construction of MÍnna Shuli's first rail-line, constructed by one of these companies to aid in their operations. They were successful in gaining the cooperation of the foreigners, and began to slowly convince others in the S‚tÍp through a combination of diplomacy, bribery, blackmail and seduction. It was obvious that the matter would pass.
Unfortunately, an unexpected wrench would be thrown into their carefully crafted plans when the 'uhitap died in 1834. While on a pleasure cruise on the Ihwala MusÍ, the 'uhitap's yacht struck an unseen sandbar and tipped, tossing men overboard and trapping several underneath it. Unfortunately, that area of the river was known to be home to crocodiles of particularly large size and hunger, with folktales of animal hakÍm haunting the place stretching back hundreds of years. Many of the men managed to swim to shore, but those trapped beneath the boat, including the 'uhitap, were devoured.
This threw all previous political maneuvering to the wind, as the focus now had to lay on attempting to encourage nomination of candidates helpful to Shukushuku's cause, aiding with their election, and helping them settle into the role before any further reforms could be made. Barring that, determining the new political landscape when the next 'uhitap was named, regardless of who it was, would be integral to everything going forward.
Initially, Shukushuku and her allies considered pushing for her own election, but felt that it was too early. Shukushuku had made a name for herself, but her respect among the upper-castes was nebulous. Instead, she and her allies landed on a more moderate candidate who could be convinced of their goals in the long term: Hitap Vikuhit HÍshi, an up-and-coming politico and dilettante who was popular among the foreign-styled feasts, dances and dinner parties of the richest business owners among the vÍhitap'at that had recently come into favour.
Vikuhit was charismatic, well-spoken and intelligent, but was known to be somewhat lacking in his own opinions, instead parroting the opinions and beliefs of whichever foreign writer or historical poet had most recently taken his fancy. Shukushuku and her friends believed this propensity for rote memorization with little critical reflection would be useful to them.
Hitap Shukushuku AshÍtak
It rapidly became clear that Itpa was not going to serve Shukushuku or her allies' political goals, as she swiftly began reversing many policies put in place during the Foreign Wave. Foreigners were only allowed in specific districts of specific communities, trade was once again funneled purely through the hands of the merchant caste, and tax reforms began to be reversed, all through executive decree and bypassing the S‚tÍp in many cases. Itpa retained the support of the older generation of politicians and began to pull in the support of the priesthood and judges, although with Shukushuku's influence over the mob, they were still hesitant to wholly back someone who was rolling back reforms that were lauded by the worker caste.
At first, Shukushuku sought political solutions, and let her legislative goals lie fallow. However, as forward movement in her goals stalled and reversed, Shukushuku sought more drastic measures, and in 1836, she and a group of co-conspirators initiated a plan: the assassination of 'uhitap Itpa.
It was well-known by this time that 'uhitap Itpa had a weakness for young lovers, particularly of the warrior caste. This wasn't particularly condemned, as developing harems of lower caste servants was not unheard of for unmarried individuals of the vÍhitap'at, but it did provide Shukushuku and her allies a potential point of access. Utilizing their not inconsiderable resources, they managed to integrate their own agents into Itpa's harem. On the morning of March 3, 1836, a year and a half into her reign, 'uhitap Itpa was strangled to death in her bath by a vÍkim‚'at lover, who was killed by fellow warriors before he could be questioned. It would not come out for nearly fifty years that this assassination had been completed at the orders of Shukushuku.
Thus began another election for a 'uhitap. Surprising even herself, her M‚ups‚tÍ fellows nominated Shukushuku for the role. Despite having been prepared to back a different candidate, Shukushuku threw herself into campaigning amongst the S‚tÍp. In secret, she nearly bankrupted herself in this campaign, taking on credit from merchant bankers and accepting loans from foreign creditors, but in the end, her natural charisma won through, and Shukushuku was elected as the fourth 'uhitap of MÍnna Shuli. Thus began the true period of the Shukushuku Reformations.
She began by first reversing many of her predecessors decrees. Then came a period of purging. Many older vÍkivÍl‚ who had stood against her came to meet with unfortunate accidents or passed away of minor health concerns that had rapidly grown serious. While rumours spread that these actions were Shukushuku's doing, no evidence was ever put forward and no charges laid. Shukushuku formed the first form of the Pride, the personal elite guards of the 'uhitap, who many believed acted as her personal enforcers and assassins among the S‚tÍp. Even several of her former allies weren't safe, if they spoke out against her in those early days.
By 1839, this period of purging and enforcement calmed, and Shukushuku settled into the more peaceful, political entity she came to be known as for the rest of her reign. As she had promised years before, she began by rewriting the Restriction of Caste Movement. While some restrictions still existed on emigration, workers no longer required permission from their princely leaders to move from place to place, and city populations exploded as a result. To counteract the potential unrest this could cause, Shukushuku quietly expanded the military, drawing on the warrior training communities that had grown following the Spring Rebellion to provide more troops to maintain law and order.
Next, she followed through on her deal with Verdon. Verdonese companies expanded rapidly, and rail lines began to be laid, particularly to support a burgeoning business in rare lumbers from the rainforests. To control the new railroads, Shukushuku founded the first state-controlled company of MÍnna Shuli, X‚hulitu' L‚nu' TÍmÍnna, the MÍnnan Transportation Company, which she placed many of her chief supporters in the S‚tÍp in direct control of. Soon thereafter, she founded L‚nu' MÍnna Kinnat, The People's News Company, which would later become LaMÍnna, and established the nation's first widely distributed newspaper. These companies, and others that would follow, would encourage vÍkivÍl‚ to support Shukushuku in the hopes of being appointed to control boards, where they could feasibly greatly increase their wealth without breaking the rules of the S‚tÍp regarding company ownership.
Shukushuku's rule as 'uhitap wound up lasting 35 years, and was marked by increasing modernization efforts and great popularity amongst the lowest castes. However, it also began to see the vast explosion of wealth among the princes without an accompanying boom in low-caste wealth. While the lowest castes did see their freedoms expanded, they didn't see as och of an expansion in opportunity.
Shukushuku allowed for a certain freedom of religion, and while 'unux‚ remains the state religion into the current day, worship of other religions in public and the development of temples has been protected ever since, with the exception of a period of fundemantalism in the 1920s. The greatest restrictions currently in place involve the rights of bodies and the dead. 'unux‚ traditions must be observed for all burials in MÍnna Shuli, including observance of the Law of Decipherability, which has led to some friction amongst both Christians and Muslims.
Shukushuku died on April 17, 1871 at the age of 69 years old. She had outlived four husbands and had had eight children. Her last words were, reportedly, "I leave my children a legacy, but I leave my nation a history."
'uhitap Kinikiw II
Following the death of Shukushuku, the stable system she had held up through the force of her personality had its foundations shaken. Over the next several years, the country would go through six different vÍ'uhitap as political rivals between warring bodies of the S‚tÍp organized coups, counter-coups, assassinations and general political unrest in a bid to control the government of the nation. Immediately after Shukushuku was 'uhitap Kinikiw I (1871), an extreme tribalist, who sought to imitate the concept of provincialism or statehood seen in many other nations by creating permanent tribal territories with their own legislative capacities. Kinikiw was poisoned by his political rivals at a banquet six months into his rule, and was swiftly replaced by 'uhitap Ikash (1871-1876), a more moderate tribalist himself. Ikash was shot during a military parade on May 15 1876. Whether this was an accident or an organized assassination is debated to this very day.
Ikash was succeeded by 'uhitap Kinikiw II (1876-1880). Kinikiw II was a distant cousin of Kinikiw I, although their policies were extraordinarily different. Kinikiw II saw himself as a masterful military commander, and immediately set out to reorganize the military and leverage it in pursuit of his expansionist goals. Kinikiw II turned his eyes upon Keverai, that land's borders having long divided the east and west coasts of the MÍnna's territories. Kinikiw II styled the nation against other imperial nations of the time, and believed in the capacity of the MÍnnan state to take Keverai and perhaps expand from there. In August of 1879, he launched the Keverai Expedition, looking to conquer the land.
Unfortunately, Kinikiw II was not the military genius he believed himself to be. He had failed to take into account the political climate of Argus at the time of his invasion. As the MÍnnan Army swept into Keverai, Dormill and Stiura turned their eyes towards MÍnna Shuli, seeing the invasion as threat to their interests in the region. While the MÍnnan Army made swift initial gains against the ill-prepared enemy, utilizing a strategy of overwhelming numbers and rapid cavalry strikes, Dormill and Stiura reached out to Ainslie, and the pair of nations swiftly sorted out a deal to deal with the MÍnnan bluster.
The alliance of Ainslie and Dormill and Stiura launched a counter-invasion against MÍnna Shuli, striking the ill-prepared an under-equipped nation from behind. Forced onto the back heel, Kinikiw II withdrew his forces from Keverai, but his reactionary responses and multitude of losses to every action of the enemy earned him the ire of the S‚tÍp. In October of 1880, a coalition of vÍkivÍl‚ rose up against him, backed by the 'uhitap's Pride. Kinikiw II was beheaded in before the people on October 3, 1880, and 'uhitap HÍsukat KÍv‚t, in a break from tradition, was named the next day. 'uhitap HÍsukat's first action in his role of leadership was to call for surrender against the enemy forces, and the war officially ended on October 15, 1880, with the signing of the Treaty of MastukÍ. The treaty placed punitive reparations on the MÍnnan people, which some historians continue to hold as the basis for the nation's current economic position.
The Starving Years (1880 CE - 1894 CE)
Following the failed Keverai Expedition, and facing reparations to Dormill and Stiura and Ainslie, MÍnna Shuli faced a drastic period of depression. Known as the Starving Years, this period saw disease and famine spread widely across the nation, especially following the Corn Blight of 1883. By some estimates, three-quarters of the population faced starvation, and one-in-ten died as a result. Over a million deaths are believed to have resulted from the Starving Years.
'uhitap HÍsukat died as a result of a stress-induced heart attack in 1882, followed by 'uhitap St‚hak 'iktu, a descendant of the warlord St‚hak of the Unification Wars. 'uhitap St‚hak lasted in the role for a year, before abdicating after an injury from falling from horseback left him paralyzed from the waist down. Having had five leaders in nine years, the S‚tÍp stepped in. After electing 'uhitap L‚su' v‚t, the S‚tÍp immediately began efforts to overhaul the process for selection from a mere majority vote to the current system of the two-thirds supermajority required to name an 'uhitap. The hope was that this would prevent political division that would lead to the rivalries and infighting that led to such a high turnover rate in the late 1800s. While this change served its intended purpose, it led to the new political reality of secret rivalries and backroom deals that were required for much of MÍnna Shuli's government to function.
Despite the Treaty of MastukÍ, relations between MÍnna Shuli and it's enemies from the Expedition were far from settled. Minor skirmishes, both naval and on the ground, broke out with disturbing regularity, particularly when the reparation payments began to slow, or when MÍnna Shuli saw it's rivals as infringing upon its territory. The continued hostilities between these sides escalated into the 1890s, and in 1894, war reignited.