Uytai

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Location in Arcél
UYTAI

Uytai [uj ˈtaj] is the leading nation of Arcél's southern, temperate zone. Due to Arcél's central mountain range surrounding the large plain in Uytai's sphere of influence, its people are reliant on irrigation. The most famous landmark in Uytai, and indeed the whole south of Arcél, is the mighty Festival House in the capital, Srethun. The Uytainese speak Uyseʔ, an Uyseʔic language related to the languages of Nyandai and Hlüim.

Etymology: Uyseʔ Uytai ‘ancestor-land’, Tžuro Udan, Ver. Udan; Kúŋsàɔ ‘Krwŋ country’; Itsenic Nyičegwamnam ‘the larger unspeaking people’, Old Skourene Ŋiṭegam.

Geography

Uytai and its neighbors

The heart of the nation is the Ħomtso-Hurtso river system, where Arcél temperate agriculture developed. The Ħomtso delta is the densest region of settlement on Arcél; however, there is no single route to the sea but a morass of swampy channels. The result is a natural barrier between the river system and the sea, which encourages a certain insularity.

The Hrat and the Surtso arise in the north mountains and flow into the Ħomtso; these are the focus of the enormously valuable tea highlands, which Uytai has not always been able to keep out of the hands of the nomads.

The other main river valleys in the south— the Tsyeʔ and the Yurdzo— were also settled by Uyram, developing into Phetai and Siad βo respectively. Uytai has ruled both of these at various points.

History

Uytai has a long and varied history, only summarized here; see the Historical Atlas of Arcél for more.

Origins

Agriculture was originated along the lower Ħomtso and Hurtso around -2500, by the Uyram. By 300 these had established city-states. They venerated their own ancestors (uy), whose will was interpreted by a caste of priests (pauram ‘intercessors’); this developed into a single priest-king.

The cities fought a dizzying succession of wars— immortalized in legend as the wars of continent-spanning epic empires— which culminated in the first large state, organized by Paukhel, king of Tsopwan, by 750. He instituted a tribute system that made Tsopwan into a great and glorious city, while his son Pausol created the lasting administrative system for a regional state: a command economy, an integrated military, roads and fortifications, the increased use of written records, and a personality cult.

However, new kingdoms emerged to the north: Uykhrai and Krwŋ along the Hrat, and Sɔitsɔi on the upper Ħomtso. Ħwentet of Uykhrai succeeded in conquering the delta in 984, and his son Mwatsye finished off Tsopwan, creating the first empire. Partly as war propaganda, Ħwentet claimed to be acting for the ancestors of all the Uyram, renaming his kingdom Uytai ‘ancestor-land’. By a mixture of co-opting and terrifying local lords and religions, the Uykhrainese knit their empire together. The writing system was perfected at this time, evolving from a shorthand for recording astronomical events and genealogical records into a system capable of representing all of Uyseʔ.

The twin empires

Krwŋ pursued its own path to empire, conquering Sɔitsɔi by 1112, and ruling with an even more absolutist mindset. Krwŋ and Uytai fought many wars, but finally agreed to an extended truce in the 1272.

The Krwŋese emperor Susirn believed he was strong enough to challenge this. He invaded Uytai and conquered Uykhrai (1457)– with the aid of his cousin Nyanyar, wife of the Uytainese emperor Tyaisut; she opened the city gates in the middle of the night. But Susirn was unable to capture another city, and simply stopped, having won the glory of taking his enemy’s capital. Tyaisut moved the capital to Srethun.

Just two centuries later Krwŋ had disappeared— caught in an ecological catastrophe, the result of applying the irrigation system appropriate to southern Uytai to the Krwŋese forest. Uytai expanded in the absence of its enemy, though it did not fully occupy the now devastated, depopulated highlands.

War with the elcari

Uytai had benefitted from trade with Skouras, largely desiring iron. When the Skourenes stopped coming, the pauram worried that their military superiority would also evaporate. The elcari of the Kròŋâ mountains sold iron weapons and armor as well, but at high prices. It was increasingly felt that the short wiry bastards needed to be taught a lesson.

The emperor Khrairam invaded in the 1920s. The war proved difficult: the elcari had steam technology, to say nothing of diabolical traps and forbidding terrain; the Uytainese had raw numbers as well as magic. Finally a deal was reached— basic metallurgical techniques in exchange for a large fee. In a sense the elcari cheated the Uytainese once again: the techniques relied on burning charcoal, a scarce resource in Uytai. The elcari remained the best source of both weapons and iron ore. But the emperors felt that honor had been preserved.

They celebrated with the conquest of Siad βo, using a steam-powered catapult which had been taken from the elcari. It broke down during the war and was left outside the gates of Ɣardze as a strange monument.

Barbarian invasions

The collapse of Krwŋ greatly increased the size of the nomadic zone. The nomads didn’t have horses, as in Ereláe, but they were highly mobile and were all trained as warriors, making them immense high-speed armies. They began to exert their potential.

The first to do so were the Mnesean Sumë, who pushed into the highlands and then the entire Hurtso valley. This led to a coup; Mansye, a distant relation of the emperor, took over the palace, creating the Hanthal dynasty (2031). They were strong patrons of the fundamentalist Swolanists.

The emperor Nyehan thought he could take on the Sumë in Twot (2310); not only was this a failure, but the quicker Sumë were able to move south and take Uykhrai. The Uytainese defended their capital, but the initiative lay with the barbarians.

The failure to take Srethun discredited the Sumë; the empire passed to their remote relatives the Nyuam. These, in alliance with the Kemic Gleŋ, finally conquered all of Uytai (by 2355), ushering in centuries of barbarian rule.

The Nyuam were relatively respectful of Uytainese institutions; not so the Gleŋ, who replaced their former patrons as lords of Uytai in 2522, under emperor Krišip. The Gleŋ deposed Uytainese landlords and turned the peasants into serfs. Any show of wealth was fatal; the Uytainese learned to hide mansions behind drab exteriors, and likewise hide exquisite robes under ugly cloaks, a custom which permanently influenced Uytainese aesthetics.

Rebellion behind the door

The Gleŋ severely punished open rebellion. A covert one was thus planned, a network of activists collectively known as the Fatħel (‘behind the door’). Uytainese professed loyalty to the Gleŋ and advanced into trusted positions in the infantry; meanwhile weapons were stockpiled and allies acquired— Nyandai and Ťrim.

When the Gleŋ were occupied with a war with the Ȟšanda, the Fatħel sprung the trap. Infantry rebelled; new armies appeared; the allies swarmed the seaports. By 2680 Uytai was independent.

A new emperor was named, Khesur, but things had changed during three centuries of barbarian rule. The old aristocracy was gone; a market economy had developed; and there was no taste for absolute rule. The Fatħel turned itself into the Yonram, the real rulers of the country.

Military height

The northern highlands were reconquered in the 2900s, and heavily fortified them. Cultivation of tea, cotton, and meigrass allowed the population of the area to rise.

This gave Uytai a monopoly on tea, and they raised prices— leading to failure of some major banks in Nyandai, which in turn depressed the entire southern economy. The Uytainese convinced themselves that this was all a plot to ruin them; emperor Murħrel invaded in 3010, quickly conquering most of the country. He expected to find vast hoards of gold, not understanding that most Nyanese wealth was virtual. He found barely enough gold to pay his armies.

In 3104 a coup brought in a new emperor, 'Hansye. He occupied Siad βo; as an established conqueror, he could now reduce unprofitable military commitments, and withdrew from Nyandai in 3124. He also quietly employed Nyanese accountants to run the treasury, placing Uytainese finances on a surer footing— and damping down calls for more fundamental change.

The Ōkmisan crisis

The colonization of Fananak by the Tžuro created a huge hostile empire in what had been a quiet frontier zone. Worse yet, the Tžuro brought horses, and allowed them to fall into the hands of the barbarians, notably the Ōkmisan.

These amassed in the highlands, growing stronger and bolder, and terrorizing the merchants and settlers in the tea country. In the 3270s their emperor Gdōšnīmag asserted control over the upper Ħomtso, and in the 3280s took over the tea highlands.

The Uytainese learned to counter the horsement with pikemen as well as their own barbarian auxilaries. However, many believed that Uytai had been too soft on its enemies, too open to foreign influence, too intellectual, too religiously tolerant. Their ħwentai (Patriot) movement had no tolerance for opposition; in 3277 half the Yonram arrested the other half, and the movement was effectively in control of the country. They replaced emperor Loytai with a Patriot emperor, Syenyer... an amiable old fellow, who remained personally popular even as Patriot rule grew darker.

The Fananaki invaded Phetai in the 3290s. They had cavalry and better matériel, but Uytai had larger and better trained armies. The Fananaki conquered the region by 3314, but it left them exhausted. The Patriots used the occasion to exert even greater control. Syenyer's son Tsuyut dismissed the rest of the Yonram, ruling with the aid of a cabal of Patriots.

Fananak collapsed when its viceroy and its main general quarrelled over the inability of the army to advance on Uytai. In the 3320s emperor Nyekhyuʔ recaptured Phetai, and int he 3340s his son Ħumnet reoccupied much of the tea highlands. Both made use of anti-cavalry attacks, Ȟatiŋga auxiliaries, and Verdurian advisers.

The Siadese interlude

Siad βo had always been an inconsiderable eastern imitation of Uytai. It had pushed the Ōkmisan back from its own northern territories, but then came into conflict with Uytai, which accused it of taking territory along the upper Hurtso, as well as harboring dissidents— and their wealth— from the totalitarian Patriot regime.

In 3354 the Siadese king Mampao persuaded the Verdurians to transfer their support to his country. The conflict intensified into war, colored by the Siadese attempt to pose as liberators.

Things began to seem serious with the fall of Tsopwan (3358). Phetai and the tea highlands both rebelled, unwilling to support the Patriots but equally unwilling to join the Siadese. The northerners called themselves the Turnon, the Restoration.

However, nothing seemed to stop the Siadese. They conquered the coast (3362) and then Uykhrai (3365). The attack on Srethun petered out, however; the Patriots were able to hold onto the city for decades.

Most of Uytai was ruled by Siad βo, which showed the particularly annoying condescension of a former underling raised to great heights. The Siadese reestablished Uytainese institutions, including the Yonram, and wouldn’t shut up about the need to engage the modern world.

The Restoration

The war heated up again in the 3400s. The Restoration took Uykhrai in 3414, and finally ended the Patriot enclave in 3420. In the next decades it recovered the coast, Phetai, and half the Hurtso valley. Finally, with the move of the capital to Srethun in 3435, everyone recognized the Turnon for what it claimed to be, the restoration of Uytai. An air of northern practicality and simplicity attached to it for some time, until it was overshadowed by the familiar old powers from the south.

In 3461 a dispute within the Restoration movement led to the de facto independence of the Ħomtso, under the name of Nontai.

Verduria does most of its Arcélian trading in the south, and thus is the dominant Ereláean nation within Uytai. The Verdurians supply modern manufactures and weapons; the Uytainese pay largely in gold and tea, though a few oddities such as potatoes have made it back to Ereláe. The Uytainese have a healthy distrust of Ereláe’s ideas, religious and cultural; they are too used to being the cultural center of their part of the world. Though they admire its technology they don’t see much reason to adopt the mathematics or science that produced it. Other southern nations, especially Nyandai, but even Siad βo, have been more open to Ereláean thought.

Religion

Uytainese religions and philosophies are not exclusive, as those of Ereláe tend to be; people have always felt able to range over their options and select the best of each. For ease of exposition, however, we can distinguish several strands:

  • The ancestor worship itself, which has persisted to the present day, though it’s grown more abstract— e.g. you no longer have to actually have your ancestor’s bones around.
  • An adaptation of Dnetic shamanism, focused on the Powers (purhyet); this developed into one of the few attempts to persistently study and apply magic at the state level. Most states found that the Powers were too unreliable, but Uytai got around this by employing hundreds of magicians: some of them at least would be useful.
  • A moral revival first seen in Krwŋ advocating purity (han), virtue (kran), and martial vigor (twan)— the ‘three -an’ or Swolan movement, which has always been the favorite philosophy of absolutists and conservatives.
  • The countervailing philosophy of Hyemsur, founded by the Krwŋese hermit Syalenar, whose answer to Krwŋese arrogance and destruction was inner peace, social harmony, simple living, and pacifism. Questioning all authority, Hyemsur has been most attractive to dissidents, skeptics, mystics, and those eager to open up Uytainese society.
  • Purpau or Reform, the pragmatic and moderate philosophy of the Fatħel.
  • The Patriots (ħwentai) can be seen as a modernization of the Swolan movement, with increased xenophobia and intolerance of internal opposition. As a movement, however, it was largely destroyed by the Restoration.

Characteristic figures

See also

Article begun by Gremlins, largely rewritten by Zompist