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The Kebreni archipelago consists of Kebri (the largest island by far), Kernoḣa, Inganoḣa, and Nynoḣa and smaller islands to the west, and the Strait Islands between Kebri and Érenat, the largest of which are Gaḣta and Meḣta.
Its language, Kebreni, is the sole surviving member of the Meťaiun family, which once occupied the entire Plain. It's more distantly related to Monkhayu, spoken in the southwestern corner of Dhekhnam.
Kebri was inhabited for many milennia by the iliu. According to the Count of Years, the first iliu woman, Alāna, was born in Fugaaźi, the Deep Lake nestled in the mountains of western Kebri. The chief city on the lake is still called Boḣtundu “iliu town”, and contains well-preserved ilian ruins.
Meťaiun people fleeing from the Central conquest of Davūr (-270) settled Kebri (as well as Koto. The iliu ceded the islands willingly, though they maintained a hostel at Boḣtundu for some centuries). They named the island Kevrei, but their kingdom Davrio, after their lost realm. Like other Meťaiun states, it was organized as a loose confederation of lords, who elected one of their own as king. This was never a very strong system on the continent, but it worked well enough in Davrio, which was protected by the ocean. The capital was Laiwen in the Melim valley, modern Laaven.
Davrio and the other Meťaiun states, Ažimbea, Neuor, and Leziunea, were interconnected by trade to a greater degree than the Cuzeians (who distrusted trade as somehow profiting from nothing) and the Central people (little more than barbarians at this point). Davrio produced copper, jewels, and minerals; Neuor provided timber and silver; gold was found in the river deposits of the Eärdur and Svetla, fish from the rivers and the littoral, salt from the coast, olives and wheat from Ažimbea. The Meťaiun never had true ocean-going vessels; coast-hugging ships sufficed for all this trade.
In 440, Munkhâsh invaded Eretald, conquering Ažimbea and most of Neuor and Leziunea; Davrio was immediately promoted from the remote rustic of the Meťaiun world to its protector and only safe stronghold. (Munkhâsh landed armies on it several times, but only as undermanned (and underktuvoked) side projects; they were always beaten back.) Davrio at first sent armies to help resist the Munkhâshi, and then to help beat them back.
In the 900s, Davrio faced a new threat: the Central nation of Kaino, which liberated the Eärdur to the sea, then crossed over to occupy Koto and the rich Melim valley in Davrio. The Meťaiun of Awoilas came to their rescue, pushing the Kaini out of the Melim valley; but for nearly three centuries the island was ruled from Awoilas.
Finally, the lords of the island - tired of having to send troops to fight in Munkhâsh - met and elected their own king. Davūr was long in the past; the new kingdom was simply named after the island, Kevrei. The king of Awoilas threatened to invade and thrash the rebellious nobles, but never did.
Kevrei was little-affected by the great war against Munkhâsh, which established the Caďinorian Empire as the preeminant power in all of northern Ereláe; but after the war the emperor Ilďaneas, son of Ervëa, conquered Kevrei (1695-7). There was no animosity in this on the Caďinorian side— to the imperial mind, it was simply Caďinorian destiny to rule the entire civilized world, and better for the natives as well.
Nonetheless, Caďinas never considered Kevrei to be much of a prize. It had little arable land, and there were other sources of forests and fish. There were minerals and wine, of course. They built a new capital, Caďincaer, at the mouth of the Ḣabu, a bit more convenient for their ocean-going ships. The Kebreni still call it Ḣyr Kaťynyr, “Caďinorian port”. Few Cadinorians except administrators and soldiers moved to the island; those that did concentrated in Caďincaer. Well-off Caďinorians did enjoy relaxing at the lakes in the western mountains, however.
The Caďinorians took some of the best estates for themselves, especially in the Ḣabu and Melim valleys; elsewhere they simply confirmed the local lords.
The kingdom of Kebri
From 1894 to 1910 the Caďinorians were engaged in a fierce civil war; Caďinorian control was effectively lost outside Caďincaer itself, which still had an imperial garrison. The first native kingdom to emerge was Laita, the rich trading city that was the gateway to the mountain lakes of the west, modern Laadau. The Pabadu valley in the northeast also easily established its independence.
The rich valley of the Melim was a three-way scramble between Laiwen, the port city of Bokundu (modern Boguidu), and the local Caďinorian barons. These had some of the best lands, but depended for defense on Caďinorian garrisons. When Caeva won the civil war, he sent an army to help, under the general Cuomodennos. Cuomodennos first tried to reconquer the island; when this failed he tried to subjugate the Melim valley; and when he was beaten down, merely to safeguard Caďincaer and the Caďinorian estates in the valley. For a time that would have to do.
During these struggles Bokundu and Laiwen were theoretically allied; but Mardaḣyr - the king of Bokundu, who controlled the mouth of the Melim - bottled up his own ally on the pretext of fighting Caďinas: only Bokundu ships were allowed in and out of the delta. This weakened the inland city, and he was able to seduce many nobles to his side and eventually take over Laiwen outright (1927). Two years later, with the same mixture of intimidation and war, he took over Pabadu.
He was now in a position to put pressure on the Caďinorians. At first he avoided Cuomodennos’s army, preferring to burn crops and attack nobles wherever Cuomodennos wasn’t. Cuomodennos once more besieged Bokundu, but with little naval support, he was unable to take the city. Full-scale battles tended to go Cuomodennos’s way; but every soldier he lost was irreplaceable, since Caeva sent him no reinforcements. In the 1940s Mardaḣyr began to attack in the valley of the Ḣabu, forcing Cuomodennos to keep more of his troops there. That was enough to tip the balance in the Melim; by 1950 Mardaḣyr had effective control of the entire valley.
(About a third of the Caďinorian barons switched sides convincingly enough that they were allowed to keep their estates; the remaining estates were kept by Mardaḣyr or given to his generals.)
Finally, in 1972, at the age of ninety, Mardaḣyr led the final assault on Caďincaer. Cuomodennos had died years before; the Caďinorians held the siege for a year, then surrendered. In celebration Mardaḣyr declared himself king of Kebri, and laid out a new, grander capital a few km south of Bokundu, to be called Kebropol.
Laita had sent troops to assist in the capture of Caďincaer— partly in hopes that Mardaḣyr would be grateful enough not to come after them. For about twenty years it looked like their bet had paid off; but in 1994 Mardaḣyr's son Zavibry finished them off, uniting the island.
Expansion into the littoral
The Caďinorians did contemplate reconquering the island, but by this time they had bigger troubles to worry about— barbarian invasions and the homegrown dictatorship of the Red Cabal, marking the start of the Dark Years.
Once again Kebri was insulated from dark times by the sea; they were chiefly impacted at second hand, by the general slowdown in trade.
During the 2100s, Kebri extended its authority to Koto.
When Caďinorian power eroded, Kebri saw a chance to establish its own. It occupied the northwest coast of Érenat in 2590, and very slowly extended its rule over the entire province; the process was completed by about 2760. Its rule was not terrible by Dark Years standards, but it did not pretend to be fair or egalitarian: it was a conquest, the locals were their inferiors, and the wealth of the country was efficiently shunted into Kebreni hands.
Increasing prosperity, and the needs of administering its new conquest, impelled the Kebreni kings to strengthen their government and exert their authority over both cities and feudal lords. Occasionally this was done with force; but the most effective method turned out to be law. Courts were set up, judges were appointed and strictly supervised for probity, and scholars were set the task of combing native traditions and Caďinorian law to work out a unified written code of laws, which was finished in 2743.
Rebellion began among the unlikeliest of their subjects: the Arašei, who had long learned the art of living invisibly in strange lands. They were infected now by a zealous religious revival, started in 2780 by a group that called itself the Elenicoi, who claimed to come from another world with a message of redemption. The Elenicoi claimed to disdain armed revolt, but the Kebreni took no chances; they banned the new religion. This only seemed to increase its fervor and growth; agitation continued until the Kebreni were forced to execute the Elenico leader, Mihel.
This was the signal for the entire city of Avéla to revolt; Kebri never got it under effective control again. The struggle lasted for over a century, exacerbated by the zeal of both sides, but also by their weakness. Kebri’s strength was always naval; its population was far less than Érenat’s, and its army was therefore small. It could blockade the coast and easily transport men to any point needed; but it never had the forces necessary to maintain order— and now that duty in Érenat largely consisted of fighting guerrillas rather than relaxing in country villas, it was hard to get more Kebreni over to fight. For their part, the rebels didn’t even have a country; they concentrated on disruption and assassination, scattering before any marching army. And in the last decades, when the rebels controlled the Eren valley and Avéla and looked more like a nation, both sides were simply too committed to think of compromise.
The final loss of Érenat broke the prestige of the Kebreni kings. When king Harre died in 2959, the most powerful nobles had his heir arrested before he could be crowned, and had him tried for treason in his own courts. The priests were consulted, and they chose a new king, Syhtuḣu. This is the only dynastic change in Kebreni history; the two dynasties are simply named the Źem (‘Old’) and the Muk (‘New’).
Kebri retained the northwestern coast until 3021, when Érenat fought a short war to take it back, and the Strait Islands to boot.
The Verdurian wars
- For a fuller account of the wars, see the article on Elena.
The loss of Érenat only seemed to give the Kebreni new energies in other areas. The establishment of a strong kingdom of Verduria in the north of Eretald restored the conditions for proper trade; and the Kebreni, rather than the Verdurians, were the first to seize the opportunity. Their ships were larger, stronger, and faster, and they built more of them. They not only dominated the trade of the littoral— leaving the river trade to Verdurians— but discovered new markets in the Little Kingdoms and Nan, and established sea contact with Skouras and Xurno. During the years Verduria was under the thumb of the wizards Utu, Kebri even took over much of the trade along the Svetla.
Verduria gained a dynamic new dynasty, the Eleďe, which threw out Utu-On in 3241. Verdurians resumed ocean trade, and competed with the Kebreni to explore the world, reaching as far as Uytai and Téllinor. Kebri was still the stronger naval power, but Verduria's resources were greater. Apparently figuring that a position of relative strength must be pushed, Kebri attacked the major Verdurian naval base at Gulagór in 3266. To add insult to injury, they landed troops which sacked Pelym and marched about burning crops in the Etald Verdúran, and burned the Arcaln Bridge, the only bridge connecting Verduria city with Arin island.
The Verdurians fought back fiercely, but they were caught unprepared, and had to sue for peace. The terms were harsh: Verduria was barred entirely from the waters of Kebri, Xurno, and the Alfonine Coast; Kebreni vessels were allowed to stop and search Verdurian ships to enforce the restrictions. Even Érenat was punished, because (though it didn’t dare enter the war) it had kept Kebreni ships out of its ports during the war. It had to cede Melloin Island off Avéla to Kebri.
The war only encouraged Verduria to rebuild furiously and try again. They declared war in 3271, and got off to a good start, taking Melloin Island and the Strait Islands and landing an army on Kebri. 4000 km away at Moreo Ašcai, ten Verdurian ships won a decisive victory over a slightly larger Kebreni force. But further progress eluded the Verdurians; Kebri retook the Strait Islands, and the Verdurian force on Kebri had to be evacuated, with great losses. Kebri now felt it had the advantage; but then it accidentally sunk a Floran ship in Avéla harbor. The flaids threatened to join the war on the Verdurian side, and that was enough to force negotiations. The restrictions on Verdurian trade were removed, and Melloin became a Verdurian base. On the plus side, however, Ismahi now felt more frightened of Verduria than Kebri, and could be counted as an ally.
The third war began in 3285, with a struggle over a bit of Ismahi, Harum, that Verduria claimed; the real objective was to dislodge Kebri from the Ismaîn islands. The Verdurians managed this, a little clumsily, and occupied the Strait Islands again as a prelude to an assault on Kebropol. However, they were happy enough to start peace negotiations. (In part, this was because the Verdurian admiral Petro Erakilo had angered queen Elena by moving far beyond the orders he'd been given— she considered punishing him, but retired him and gave him a peerage instead.)
Verduria had established that it could not be dominated, but had also shown that it had little stomach for naval conquest. Kebri’s trade hardly dipped.
Global trade and colonization
By 3000, Kebreni ships were large and sturdy enough to withstand the storms of the deep ocean, and large enough to allow trade in bulky commodities such as rice, lumber, and sugar, brought from the Little Kingdoms and Nan. They discovered a bean named kahawa in Moreo Ašcai— coffee, which became the rage of Eretald. The Kebreni closely guarded their trade with Moreo Ašcai, to the point of garrisonning the major coffee-growing areas, effectively establishing a protectorate over the islands.
The smaller island of Lascita, near the Zone of Fire, and the Little Kingdoms on the Alfonine Coast, next fell under Kebreni domination. Nan was strong enough, however, to maintain its independence, and eventually favored Verduria as a counterweight to the heavy-handed Kebreni.
By the 3200s Kebri was sailing regularly to Xurno, and then to Arcél. The prize here was tea, which is grown only in the highlands of Uytai, but which makes its way to markets either southward to Uytai or northward to Belesao. Kebri concentrated on the latter route; Verduria on the former. In the late 3300s it established a dominant position in Pahsau, a country west of Belesao; it is also the only major Ereláean trading parter of Ȟamsan, on the eastern coast of Arcél.
Kebri traded in Karímia from the 3000s, but never found the area lucrative enough to settle. Verduria built a fort there in 3291, which developed into a thriving colony. Eventually (3420) Kebri felt the need to built a fort and small settlement at Broidabo, farther up the Qarau coast.
Kebreni is somewhat notorious in Eretald for trading with Dhekhnam. “Shouldn’t we bleed them dry?” they like to joke, pointing to Dhekhnam's trade deficit with Kebri; but Verdurians believe that the trade strengthens the ktuvok empire and undermines human solidarity against it. Kebri assures the Verdurians that it would help out if Eretald were invaded.
The modern government
The current king (melaḣ) is Ťeruźir, of the Muk (‘New’) dynasty, which has been in power for over 500 years. The Kebreni are very conservative about their kings, who are considered one-third divine. Kings’ actual power has varied greatly, however-- often they are mere figureheads. Ťeruźir does have an influence over the government, but his role is more head of state than head of government.
The kings frequently held councils (neisi) of the linna or nobles; after the Verdurian wars, which were partly blamed on overreach by the king and the army, the nobles insisted on establishing a formal legislature. The Neisina (‘great council’) consists of four houses, representing the four self-governing sectors of Kebreni society: the clergy, the nobles, the cities, and the king’s household (the melaḣte keda, which means his lands, the royal government, and the navy). Most of the city seats are now elected, but some are still reserved for guilds and universities.
The head of government is the melaḣte mitaseu or King’s Agent. In theory he’s appointed by the king; the reality has always been more complicated. In medieval times the Agents were effectively monarchs who chose their own successors-- or were overthrown by another feudal lord. For a while clerical Agents were chosen, to keep the nobles from fighting; during the Verdurian wars, naval commanders were appointed. Since then, the Agent has been a noble with strong urban support, or an urban merchant with strong support among the nobles. As the head of the king’s household, he is automatically a member of the Neisina— indeed, he acquires a second seat if he had one already.
The colonies are ruled by naval commanders, answerable to the Agent.
Kebri is widely admired for its riches and industry, though especially in the Littoral there is resentment for its overbearing ways and its financial power (in Ismahi, and till recently in Flora, banking was largely controlled by Kebri). At the same time it is viewed as a welcome counter to Verduria, which can seem pompous or threatening in its evocation of ancient Caďinorian brotherhood— and empire.
Countries and important regions in or near Eretald: