Hey guys. Look, I'm sorry but I'm kinda going on a huge hiatus for... let's say until September? I have to prepare for the college entrance tests, and the best schools have a 10% passing rate for the entrance tests, which kinda sucks, which is why I need to take a huge
time off to study. FuryFire knows what I'm talking about, I wouldn't be surprised if he was an Isko
(he knows what I'm talking about), anyway. These two pieces were never finished, and I'm not sure if I plan to continue them, maybe in September, but not today.The Grand Duchy
A History of the Lubnites
Many different ethnicities roam the lands of the Grand Duchy. First and foremost are the Lubnites (literally, people from Lubnie) who make up the majority of the people of the Grand Duchy. The Lubnites were so named due to the fact that they were in a sense the “face” of the Grand Duchy in the early days. When the Long Guo, the Khergits and the Ormeli invaded –or attempted to invade- the lands of the Grand Duchy, it was Lubnie that they first saw and it were the Lubnites that they first encountered. The name Lubnite became synonymous with the people of the Grand Duchy, those who resembled a mix between a Vaegir and a Khergit. Slightly slanted eyes, broad shoulders, strong chins and agile figures all resembled both the Vaegirs and the Khergits, which the Lubnites have somehow been able to combine.
Secondly are the Vaegirs. Many Vaegirs roam the lands of the Grand Duchy; most of them are from the lands today known as Zenislev. The Vaegirs themselves have integrated so much with the Lubnites that they are sometimes unrecognizable. The history between the Vaegirs and the Grand Duchy goes far back to the time when the Lubnite nomads were raiding early Vaegir settlements. The Lubnites would take many Vaegirs back to the Ducal Steppe (as it is known today) to marry, enslave, or sell. The Vaegirs are a people of different backgrounds, and thus they have a slightly different place in the society of the Grand Duchy. Whereas many of the Vaegirs in the Ducal Steppe are aligned with the Vaegir Church, they are sometime seen as outcasts by liberal members of the Lubnites.
Third to inhabit the lands of the Grand Duchy are the Khergit tribes. After the aftermath of many Ducal-Khergit wars, many Khergits were enslaved and many also continued to roam the Ducal Steppe. The majority of the Khergits now living in the Grand Duchy are the Karaites, they are those who rebelled against the Khergits for reasons unknown. They were healthily welcomed by the Lubnites for the roles they play in the wars. Other Khergits from other tribes have also settled in the Ducal Steppe, though their numbers are few and they largely remain unknown due to integration with Karaites, Lubnites, and Vaegirs. The Khergits are also sometimes shunned by the liberal Lubnites due to their strict shamanistic ways, and largely due to the fact that the Lubnites have regarded nomadism as “barbaric.”
Next to join the Grand Duchy, and most recent, are the remnants of the Nirdamese people. They had come in large numbers through Zenislev into the Grand Duchy. Due to their religion’s slight similarities to the Lubnite Ovinianism, they have been able to integrate easily with the Lubnites. The Nirdamese are highly respected due to their abilities in combat and due to the fact that they have easily bolstered the thin numbers of the Grand Ducal armies. They had come due to persecution from the Vaegirs, and so they did not happily receive the fact that a large number of Vaegirs lived in the Ducal Steppe. Majority of the Nirdamese live in the city of Tarnowd and the outlying villages, though there is also a growing population near Birute and Lwyw.
Last to join in the peoples are the Cossacks. Though many of the Cossacks are considered as Vaegirs, they seem to have their own peoples, distinct from the Vaegirs who have joined the Grand Duchy. South of the city of Lwyw, the majority of the Cossacks roam as bandits. How they are able to maintain such large numbers is still unknown, it is speculated that they recruit members from the Vaegirs who are now living as citizens of the Grand Duchy. The Cossacks have also begun to show Khergit characteristics, which has made many speculate that they have also been recruiting Khergits into their ranks. This new peoples are largely irreligious, regarding the search for happiness and material wealth the greatest religion they could ever follow, though there are also some Cossacks who follow some of the different religions that live in the Ducal Steppe.
The Ducal Steppe is a vast and very distinct steppe. It can more appropriately be called grasslands due to the fertile soil present; however vegetation in the Ducal Steppe is virtually none. Most vegetation comes from farmers planting their crops, other than that it is a vast and open land, unspoiled and unaffected by the many dangers that roam the Ducal Steppe. Ellisian and Lubnite scholars have attributed the fertility of the Ducal Steppe to the close proximity of the Gulf of Duagavirva, a large body of fresh water which has made the lands around Lwyw greener than other plains.
Lubnite Ovinianism shares similarities with very few religions in Calradia. Lubnite Ovinianism strives for the goal of finding true peace and true faith within oneself, which is the only way to be able to break the reincarnation cycles which the Ovinians believe in. The belief in reincarnation states that when you die your soul has two paths open to it: being reincarnated as another man or woman or breaking the cycle of reincarnation and ascending into paradise, which Ovinianism calls as “the land of true peace.” Only by being at true peace with oneself can one break the cycle of reincarnation. True peace is a very broad term for Ovinianism. It generally refers to being able to let go of all material wealth, which for Ovinians can be easily said, however is rarely truly achieved.
Ovinianism is generally stated to have been created by Ovinius, an early-age Ellisian who travelled to the Ducal Steppe to be able to have peace from all the politics of Ellis. Ovinius is said to have detached himself from all pleasures of the world to be able to gain true peace, when he died in his “deathless sleep” he was said to have been one of the first to achieve true peace.
To those who have difficulty in grasping Ovinianism, it is described by an Ovinian scholar known as Wilfred through what is called “Wilfred’s ladder (Wilfred’s name was not included in the original sayings).” The metaphorical ladder is a simple rickety ladder, with cracks on all different places. The ladder is extremely long and the top of the ladder is hidden by clouds. On the sides of the ladder, supported by clouds are different items that a person sees in life. There are the parents, the family, the loved ones and the material possessions, along with food and other necessities such as houses and animals. Wilfred explained that you are unable to properly climb the ladder if you are not able to let go of all this life has given to you, especially loved ones. To be able to achieve true peace and to be able to “climb the ladder,” one must let go of virtually everything in life.
The early histories of the Grand Duchy are simple. The geography of Calradia has made the Grand Duchy isolated from the rest of the peoples of Calradia. Their early histories are very debatable due to the fact that the people of the Grand Duchy, situated in the western Calradian steppe, started out as nomadic herdsmen and most of their early history is based on oral tradition. According to their early history they would continually raid Vaegir lands and came into conflict with the Long Guo, being soundly defeated and subjugated into the Long Guo Empire.
The defence of the Grand Duchy was different from the other nomadic peoples that were conquered by the Long Guo. Years before Xiao Ming Dun came to the lands of the Grand Duchy, they started building cities in an attempt to be able to successfully defend themselves, with the philosophy then that Xiao Ming Dun would be too accustomed to fighting nomads in open fields to be able to successfully besiege a city. The outcome, however, was no different. Only one city was properly created: Lubnie.
During the Siege of Lubnie the army of Xiao Ming Dun was halted for barely a month, after which his armies poured into the other cities with ease. Lwyw, Birute and Tarnowd were burned to the ground, with only the foundations remaining at that time. Lubnie, however, was spared due to the fact that the city itself was fully completed. However, the purposes of the city were purely militaristic, and Lubnie was garrisoned by the Long Guo as the Lubnites (old name of the people of the Grand Duchy) were left to themselves as they were ordered to rebuild Lwyw, Birute and Tarnowd.
There would be no peace, however. Three sons of Xiao Ming Dun, Xiao Xi Khi, Xiao Lei and Xiao Wei Jiao, were sent to govern the cities of Tarnowd, Birute and Lwyw as part of their system of succession. For eight years Tarnowd, Lwyw and Birute experienced great growth due to the effective leadership of the three sons. However, this growth would be grounded to a halt when Xiao Ming Dun died, and the system of succession was put to the test for the first time as the three sons quickly marched through the western Calradian steppe to wage war.
Xiao Xi Khi won the crown of the Dragon Throne and as his first proclamation; he awarded the area which is today the Grand Duchy the status of “Province of the Empire” with Tarnowd as the capital of the province. The title gained them proper fame in the empire with the so-called “benefit” of being able to send their troops in the service of the empire, which would eventually lead to the province of Lubnie being recognized throughout the Long Guo Empire.
Centuries later, after the fall of the Jade Throne, the Grand Duchy returned to its isolation. Ellis had never sought the lands of Lubnie, deeming it worse than the steppes of Calradia. With no conquerors it can be speculated whether or not the Lubnites fared better with conquerors or without. Before Xiao Ming Dun, there was no single unity in the lands of the Grand Duchy. There were no tribes, there were no clans, no different peoples, no permanent settlements, not even bandits or raiders. The Lubnites were in an everlasting peace. Families would only form a group when they would venture out into Vaegir lands to raid, after which plunder was divided and the families dispersed. With the Long Guo they built cities, their homes became permanent and they learned to properly prosper, however their nomadic identities would be forever gone.
Only one thing has – and shall never – change for all Lubnites: the steppe. The steppe is their home. Even to this day horses – both wild and tame – outnumber the Lubnites, which is properly used to their advantage. Horses are no luxury for Lubnites: horses are a way of life. No Lubnite man has less than three horses, no Lubnite woman has less than two horses and no Lubnite children have at least one horse. Due to the everlasting wars in inner Calradia the Lubnites have taken advantage of this, masking themselves as traders they would enter Calradia, talking of faraway lands but never directly mentioning the Lubnite peoples or Lubnie itself. It is not uncommon for many people to mistake the Lubnites for both Khergits and Vaegirs due to many physical similarities: the slanted eyes of Khergits and the large figures of Vaegirs are both present in the characteristics of Lubnites.
The next proper mention of the Lubnites is made by the Khergit Khanate. When trading king, Tadeusz Hiszowicz sent his caravan into the Khergit steppe. Legend has told Hiszowicz’s caravan to have had a hundred men and a thousand times more horses. Today this is proven to be merely myth and the number of horses that accompanied Tadeusz was approximated to around only two-thousand, with around two hundred men accompanying the caravan. Tadeusz Hiszowicz gained notoriety for breaking the unwritten pact of Lubnite isolationism by telling the Khan great tales of the city of Lubnite, afterwards Tadeusz would sell his two-thousand horses, returning to Lubnite to buy another two-thousand to continue to supply the Khergit hunger for horse. The Khergit Khan would use the Lubnite horses to his great advantage, smashing Ellisian iron walls with bow and horse.
Tadeusz Hiszowicz would soon regret his decision to trade with the Khergit Khan. Soon after a few successful wars with Swadians and Ellisians, Sanjar Khan marched on Lubnie, lured by the grand open and fertile steppes (very rare to the rest of Calradia). Lubnie, Lwyw and Birute were captured within a month and Tarnowd seemed doomed to fall after.
Help would come for the doomed Lubnites from the most unlikely allies. To the south, the Karaites of the Khergits rebelled while they were garrisoned in Birute, causing a massive popular uprising which did little effect, however dispersed the armies of the Khergits to the point that there were as many Khergits as there were Lubnites in Tarnowd. What’s more, some Vaegir Lords had taken advantage of this as a chance to gain new allies against the Khergits, thus they launched a surprise attack through the mountains into the great open steppes of the Lubnites to lift the siege of Tarnowd by drawing the Khan to open battle.