Mɔłɔsɔu is the easternmost nation of the Bé, whose heartland is the Rou river valley. Its capital is Klɔusa, and it speaks its own Beic language, Mɔłɔ; the term may also be used for the people. In many ways it is the oddest and most divergent of the Beic nations, one reason being that it incorporates a people of Minče blood, the Hake.
Mɔłɔsɔu consists of the Rou valley as well as that of its tributary the Kełunu. Major cities along the Rou are Nura, Plipoŋ, Rousa, and the capital, Klɔusa (Lé Tláosɛ̀ ‘new city’); along the Kełunu, the Hake heartland, Kror and Łata.
The country is divided from Belesao by the low Mǎslù mountains to the west, and from the Minče lands to the east by the Lùlɔ̀r mountains and peninsula. To the south are the high Kròŋǎ mountains, with a large and ornery population of múrtani which prevents easy contact with Uytai.
Agriculture came fairly late to the Rou valley, around 1000, largely by settlement along the coast, displacing the Minče hunter-gatherers. The Hake, a Minče people in the southeast of the region, eventually adopted agriculture from the Bé.
The queendom of Mɔłɔsɔu was organized around 1510, under the legendary queen Leŋsir (Lé Líŋhír). Her territory did not extend far beyond Rousa, but this was already the densest population area. Over the next two centuries the queendom grew to encompass most of the Rou valley, and impelled the Hake to organize their own territory in response, Hakesata. This was a kingdom; the Hake resisted Bé culture, insisting in particular on male predominance and their own monotheistic religion.
Lady Tâɔnà, third daughter of the queen in the early 1600s, renounced her royal origins in favor of philosophical studies, founding the Nàłó or Interiorist school, which strongly criticized the ritual and pedantry of the competing Hâełó or Rationalists. Her influence spread to all of the Bé, but for centuries was strongest in her homeland.
As one Lé observer said, however, “Nàłó can only thrive in Mɔłɔsɔu. One must be both soft and hard with the Hard Women.” She meant that the dissidence and skepticism of Nàłó counterpoised its harsh, absolutist mores; also perhaps that the Nàłó intellectual pursued selfish enlightenment— disdaining even public office and community aid— because Mɔłɔ society provided no other avenue of engagement.
In the early 1700s the Mɔłɔ sent a small force to aid the Lé against the ktuvoks.
Conflict with the Hake
The Mɔłɔ fought incessantly with the Hake, and captured their capital Łata in 1825. The aftermath was bitter: the Mɔłɔ, who considered the Hake to be simply savages, took over their settlements and made their inhabitants into effective slaves. Farther from the river, free Hake were allowed to more or less retain their traditional way of life.
For fifty years the rump of Hakesata remained, till it too was taken over. The Hake were divided into three classes:
- Serfs, assigned to particular estates; these lived in a remnant of Hake social structure, but could be moved about at the owners’ whim.
- Servants, originally town-dwelling Hake; these became house servants and laborers, and thus lived more comfortably but within the Bé social structure.
- Free Hake living in remote areas. These could theoretically move to the cities as free citizens, but were subject to harassment and if they could not maintain a certain financial level were subject to reassignment to the servant class.
There was no racial component to all this; the Hake, like the Mɔłɔ, belonged to the Adurise race.
Hake were not allowed to serve as troops, but by doing much of the menial labor they allowed a greater number of Mɔłɔ to go to war than in other Beic societies. Like other Beic nations at this time, the Mɔłɔ military used men as swordsmen and pikemen, women as archers and artillery, with overall command in the hands of women.
War with Belesao
In 1910, to the Mɔłɔ’s surprise, they were attacked by the Men’s Empire, which needed large-scale wars to justify its hold over Belesao. The pretext, long forgotten by the Mɔłɔ, was Mɔłɔsɔu’s supposedly paltry contribution to the ktuvok war two centuries before. The first war was inconclusive, as were further wars in 1937 and 1954.
In 1983 the Men’s Empire invaded in earnest, intending to conquer the Mɔłɔ once and for all. They made a good start, occupying the western third of the country. Jiŋło was captured, and Klɔusa and Plipoŋ were besieged. But here the war bogged down; the Lé were overextended, and facing increasing unrest at home. In 1991 the Mɔłɔ secured an alliance with Hàɔráŋ, which opened a second front in the war, and added the Hàɔ navy to Mɔłɔsɔu’s already formidable one. Dominating at sea, the alliance was able to largely prevent the Lé from moving troops or supply by sea, forcing them to take the difficult crossing of the Mǎslù instead. The Lé offered a truce, but the Mɔłɔ refused to negotiate while their territory was occupied.
In 1997 the Lé heartland rebelled, dismissing the men’s battalions. The men’s armies decided to push on make a desperate final push against Klɔusa. This was a bloody failure, and the Mɔłɔ pushed them back, entirely out of the country, and then counter-invaded Nérsàɔ. It was now their turn to be overextended. A truce was signed in 1999, leaving the border along the Mǎslù.
One of the innovations of the Men’s Empire was writing, and this was adopted by the Mɔłɔ, first for military purposes, then for administration and accounting, and finally for general purposes.
Belesao declared itself an empire in 2538, and made this a reality with the conquest of Mɔłɔsɔu in 2542-48. (This time it had command of the sea, and new steel weapons.) The Lé assured the Mɔłɔ that their traditions would be respected, and they were even given some representation in the Lé legislature, the Béjan. Full citizenship was however restricted because of the Hake problem.
By this time the Mɔłɔ and Hake were deeply intertwined. The Hake had largely assimilated to Bé social norms and spoke Mɔłɔ; they were simply a hereditary underclass whose inferiority was marked by an array of indignities: serfs could not touch a Mɔłɔ in public; male serfs could not speak to a female Mɔłɔ without permission; Mɔłɔ women could take Hake husbands but not vice versa. The serfs lived much like Mɔłɔ peasants, but owed a larger portion of the crop to the estate and were not allowed to leave it.
The Lé were offended by all this and, at the legal level, outlawed it; but their new laws were only fitfully obeyed. The Mɔłɔ were incensed at the interference, and by the Lé using the status of the Hake to restrict their own rights. (E.g. districts with serfs were given no seats in the Béjan at all.)
In 2612 the Mɔłɔ established their own council, the Sɔujɔn. The Lé refused to recognize it, then negotiated briefly, then outlawed it. Within a decade the country was in open revolt, and finally the Lé realized that holding the country was more trouble than it was worth. They withdrew their forces in 2628, though they kept a number of border fortresses and refused to sign a peace treaty till 2651.
Steps into modernity
The Sɔujɔn had been established largely to annoy the Lé, but now that it existed, there was no question of returning to the traditional absolute monarchy. Some of the queens did not easily accept this; one dismissed the Sɔujɔn (2712-18), and when she died the Sɔujɔn reconstituted itself and deposed her young daughter.
In 2870s the country fought a civil war, largely a rebellion of the Kełunu valley against Klɔusa, which had been making noises about Hake liberation, and also imposed high tariffs on manufacturers, resented by the rural landowners whose excess produce after all was the backbone of the nation’s trade. The war, begun to protect the institution of serfdom, ended up destroying it. First the landowners were forced to conscript Hake as troops; then they were defeated by the northerners, who in revenge went further in reform than they had proposed before the war. Serfdom was eliminated, and even the status of ‘Hake’ was legally expunged for those who spoke Mɔłɔ.
Adventure in Rimasača
The Minče established a new queendom to the east, Rimasača, in the Sunča valley. The new nation was strongly influenced by Mɔłɔsɔu; its commerce was largely run by Mɔłɔ; it used Mɔłɔ for diplomacy, higher education, and writing; it had a queen following Beic custom. Nonetheless there were conflicts, usually relating to the Mɔłɔ commercial enclaves. Rimasača both needed and resented these enclaves, while for their part the expats resisted any effective governance, and loudly complained to the home country about any slights, including being made to follow Rimasačan law or to pay taxes.
Mɔłɔsɔu occasionally intervened to protect its interest, or simply to meddle in local politics. In the 3380s it decided to solve the problem by annexing the country. They quickly occupied the capital, Čurisanča, and much of the Sunča valley. But as a largely rural nation, Rimasača was not greatly weakened by the loss of its urban area. It continued to fight, requiring greater and greater Mɔłɔ commitments. Finally the countries signed a truce, leaving the Sunča valley in Mɔłɔ hands.
There were additional wars in 3433-35 and then 3456-58; in the latter Rimasača allied with Ânhɛ̀, which made the Mɔłɔ fight on two fronts. This ended in total defeat; the Sunča valley was left to the Rimasačans.
As the easternmost nation of the Bé, Mɔłɔsɔu has been the least interesting to outsiders. It has no access to tea, and any useful goods (such as silver or spices) can be acquired more easily in the western nations. Its language is also the most divergent among the Bé. For both reasons it has tended to be conservative, relatively poor, and isolated. On the other hand, its sheer size guarantees that it’s a considerable military power and can support a large elite.
It’s the only nation that still heavily uses men in its army; the western nations decided that this was a bad idea after the Men’s Empire. It also retains the sincerest dedication to the Bé goddesses; the western countries are more likely to follow modern abstractions of the old religion, or foreign imports such as Hyemsur. There’s little interest in Ereláean science and philosophy. The Mɔłɔ even resist modern clothing styles; even aristocrats wear skirts only, whereas the urban upper classes elsewhere in the Bé are likely to wear simple silk tops.
On the other hand, they are aware that the world is changing, and adopt Bé technological changes and participate in its literature. Some scholars and officials argue that the whole nation is in danger of being left behind, and invite in western manufacturers, teachers, artists, and architects— sometimes, indeed, giving them opportunities they would not have at home. The hall of the Sɔujɔn, and the palace of the queen, are some of the most imposing buildings in Arcél.
If this were a National Geographic article it would be titled something like “Mɔłɔsɔu, Land of Contradictions.” In the farming areas life proceeds much as it did centuries ago, while Klɔusa is a bustling commercial city, cleaner and in some ways more up to date than Jansɛ̀. As a nation settled for millennia, and still cultivated by shifting garden agriculture in a rain forest, it’s highly diverse; most residents can be said to be loyal only to their own small region, not to the distant abstraction “Mɔłɔsɔu”. There are still areas or pure Hake settlement, others where a major preoccupation is defense against the múrtani, others where an ancient peasant revolt succeeded, creating a little anarchic commune— or where one failed, leaving paranoid noblewomen running isolated despotates. The Mɔłɔ have the reputation of being unusually hard on their men, but there are also stories of all-male gangs or estates run by men. And finally the Mɔłɔ are said to harbor a multitude of cults— temples of strange goddesses and gods, eccentric nunneries, communities pledged to chastity or communism. No wonder one Bé, hearing that the Ȟamsanese call the Bé the “Crazy Women”, remarked that they must be thinking of the Mɔłɔ.