by Max Barry

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Region: The Western Isles

Southmen in Balnik

The core of Balnik and her identity comes from its ancient southern history and its dwellers, the Rustan and their ancient cities and societies that dominated the South of the nation. The Rustan primarily dwell in the hills, valleys, and plains of lower Balnik. Most of the Rustan are gathered around their ancient home of the lowlands, the Nizina (Lowland). The Rustan and its home are the southern neighbors of the Valkoihet and have had a long and often bloody rivalry with their tribal neighbors.


is the southern half of the country with the other being the mountainous Kotlumi. Nizina is characterized by grasslands, forests, hills, and the definitive Uldraminskysk valley that runs from Kotlumi. Winters are cold and summers are warm in these areas. Most of the developed Balnik exists within Nizina. The Uldraminskysk valley remains the industrial, economic, and cultural center for Balnik.

Uldraminskysk River

The majority of the population inside Nizina and Balnik as a whole lives within the Uldraminskysk valley, also known as the Rustov valley, due to the city being located inside the valley. Rustov, the ancient capital is the largest city within the region and serves as the oldest city in Balnik. Most of the industry within Balnik is located within the valley, this includes steel manufacturing and machining, mining, agriculture, and oil refining. The southern coasts remain the premier activity for naval, trade, and unfortunately, smuggling activity in the country. The south is concentrated by dense highways, railroads, and air activity, being heavily developed, animal activity is less prominent than up north even though all of Balnik typically share the same species.

"Hundred Saviors" monument in Rustov.

Nizina retains much of its natural beauty and environment despite heavy mining and resource extraction, however, some areas and cities, such as Virosk are marred by heavy extraction and its surrounding land poisoned. The cities in Nizina, primarily its valley cities are full of ancient history of empires and kingdoms bygone, Rustov in particular is engrained with communist, ancient, medieval, and new fascist architecture, with some of the districts and history of the city being likened to the rings of a tree. The southern coast are full of beaches and sun and are popular destinations of holiday goers and excited surfers. Balnik's shores remain protected and in their natural shape, with most industry only being concentrated around Cinnigrad.


The Rustan are native to Nazina and have lived in the region since ancient times, being the dominant ethnicity throughout the ages. They are typically of average height, have fair to tan skin, with the more tan individuals living along the coast and in the south. Rustan have brown to blonde hair and green to blue eyes. Some scholars, anthropologists, and geneticists theorize that the Rustan and Valkoihet come from an older, unified ethnic group due to similarities in genetics and through artifacts, however there is not enough evidence to conclude that for good. The oldest evidence of Rustan civilization emerges from around 2600 BC where an etched recording of a well being constructed in the township of Juzno, a part of the Skoll Empire was found. the earliest evidence of people in the region is a 3000 BC early bronze age axe being uncovered in the Uldraminskysk valley.

The history of the Rustan is a long and complex one, with their origins tracing back to around 3000 BC in the Uldraminskysk river valley. The first large civilization that composed many cities and large territory was the Skoll Empire, one of the first empires in the Western Isles region and the oldest in Balnik, it was roughly formed in 2600 BC and fell in 2500 BC to famine and wildfires. Several empires would rise and fall in its place with the last being the Rustov Empire, conquering and holding most of Nizina for over 200 years, from 423 AD to 655 AD where it collapsed due to infighting, lower class and slave rebellions, and a Plague that wiped out nearly a tenth of the population. In the 700s the new kingdoms of Nizina would become active and plunge the region into a dark age, it is here that the first written reports of the Valkoihet are found and recovered. It would not be until the 1500s where King Jorek Voyachek would conquer and unite all the kingdoms of Nizina and the Valkoihet tribes, establishing himself as the god king of Balnik and a legendary figure in its history.

Nizina would continue to be the dominant political, economic, and cultural centre within Balnik, dominating much of the politics of the nation well into the communist decades of the country. The balance of power would shift in favour of Kotlumi to the north, as during Balnik's civil war, it hosted multiple rebel factions that would fight for power. In the present day much of the power is taken away from Nizina and given to Kotlumi in an effort to balance the power and to create a trust between the various groups that reside within these regions.

Red Oakwood Truffle.


The cultures and practices within Nizina have often evolved, shifted, split and changed completely over the years from its beginnings to the point where some anthropologists cannot even find the origin of some of the practices or traditions within Balnik. One of the most prominent and long lasting staples within Balnik's history is the consumption of the hallucinogenic and euphoric Red Oakwood Truffle. The consumption of this fungus has also bled into the tea culture within Balnik to the point where they are now intertwined and indistinguishable from one another. Even in modern day Balnik the Red Oakwood Mushroom is one of the only legalized substances and is widely accepted to the point where most cafes serve Red Oakwood tea. Consumption of the tea is often done with friends or acquaintances, often used to strengthen bonds and relax an atmosphere behind a deal or meeting.

People within Nizina are often very honorable, chivalrous, altruistic, and considerate, this comes from the strong sense knightly spirit the people are often instilled with and reminded by through government propaganda and incentives, often rewarding those who act with kindness and perform good deeds. Due to the mandatory military service all citizens must attend many are indoctrinated with these values during their training with imagery and lessons on history and tradition. Since most of those in Nizina worship the God King Voyachek, many follow his teachings on chivalry, honor, sacrifice, and duty.

Besides God King Voyachek a large cult of personality revolves around Andre Chernobog, Dovesti of Balnik. Several government regulations are in place to maintain this reverence of himself and the National Socialist Party of Balnik. Example of these regulations include all public buildings to uphold the mandatory display of a portrait of Andre Chernobog, usually next to Jorek Voyachek. On top of this all citizens are expected to carry a book of Chernobog's autobiography and doctrinal book, "My Legion" when outside their homes, no penalties are given if one is found without it, however ostracization is common for those who often speak or act out against Chernobog or the government.

The largest, most widespread, and by far the most well known tradition in Balnik is the samopo˛rtvovanja or "self sacrifice." This practice as often seen as taboo by most of the Isles, but nonetheless it is still practiced on the 3rd of September every year, anniversary of the death of Jorek Voyachek. The most important of Voyachek's teachings was that of sacrifice and how he sacrificed his mortality and body for Balnik, stating before he died from poison that the concept of sacrifice should not be forgotten, and that every single Balniki citizen must make sacrifices in life to protect their families and nation. The practice of samopo˛rtvovanja was started by Jorek Voyachek II on the first anniversary of his father's death. Gripping onto his final lesson of sacrifice, Jorek II knelt with his fathers sword in hand and with his right on the hilt and the left on the blade, he would slide his left hand down the place until he bled. He would sit in silence for 30 minutes before standing up and wiping the blade. Jorek II had just sacrificed blood for his nation and memory of his father. The modern ritual is the same, with a few differences. A family would take turns performing this ritual with a household ceremonial blade, and faces the household picture of Jorek Voyachek.


take great pride in their nation and their home of Nizina and proudly represent it. They are proud of their northern Valkoihet and will proudly defend them. Fascism in Nizina is now core to Balnik and is a now inseparable part of their people and culture, as well as identity.

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Just finished my Southmen factbook, gonna work on the identity section tomorrow then hop on something new.