The Tindremic Empire
The few historical annals that remains in the world after the Conflux all tell the tale of The Tindremic Empire, the writing is always grand and pompous. The reputation of the Tindremenes as colonizers, conquerors or liberators is something that still lives on in all great civilizations in the known world and as a testimony to all this stands the grand Tindrem, the largest city of the modern age. Many things have come to pass since the Conflux, and although Tindrem escaped the catastrophe with minor damages only fragments of the complex caste system, technology and armies of thousands remain of the old and proud empire.
The Tindremic Provinces
The native Tindremenes still regard themselves as the most advanced civilization in the known world and call attention to their heritage from the mythic pre-Sidoian culture and the ancient alliance with Húergar. Although Tindrem is still a powerful city it is also one of the few things that remain of the great empire. Tindrem itself is nowadays a melting pot of different cultures and not even Myrland can be regarded as dominated by the Tindremenes, with the Khurites on the steppe land, Húergar to the north and the warlike Orc clans to the east. The Tindremic Empire still lives on as a name and as an ideal in the minds and hearts of the Tindrem people. Despite their pride the Tindremenes have realised the awkwardness of keeping the name of the empire on the map itself. Today the western part of Myrland and the different colonies are instead called The Tindremic Provinces, and their borders are not always fixed. Except the city of Tindrem a few small cities and villages in Myrland are parts of the nation, as well as the island of Isla Piska north of Tindrem and a small number of colonies across the world. Contact with these colonies is sporadic at best.
Most scholars agree that the city of Tindrem was built with the assistance of the allied Húergar approximately a thousand years ago. Analyses of the building material’s age confirm that the city has expanded in circles on the water from the majestic fortress Arx Primoris with its great colossi, which is still the home of the emperor. Those parts of the inner city wall that still remain are as ancient as the fortress itself while the aqueduct and the outer city wall seems to have been constructed a few hundred years later, using the same architectural style. The city is divided into several Vicas, or districts, each being governed by a Consul. Almost as famous as the fortress and colossi are the Clerus Magica, the magic academy, and Pharos Maximus, the great lighthouse. The harbour of Tindrem faces the Inner Sea to the north and is the most important trading site of Myrland regarding trade with other continents.
In connection with the Conflux something which is called the Great Washout befell Tindrem. The name is disputed but it probably originates from when the foul-smelling tanneries and fisheries in the northern part of the city simply sank into the ocean. Another theory which has been proposed suggests that the name comes from when all kinds of abominations that had thrived unknown in the sewer system were swept out to sea to the horror of the residents during the following flood.
In old times, only those with a true bloodline were considered genuine Tindremenes, meaning that they had the right to belong to the Plebeiancaste. This bloodline, which is claimed to have run in the Tindremic race since they parted from the pre-Sidoian civilization, had to be inherited by having at least one parent who was a part of the Plebeian caste or higher, or by presenting a proper pedigree for evaluation. Although this system has been generally abandoned since the Conflux and the confusion following it, it is still practiced by many in the Theurgy and Nobilitas castes.
Today a caste is not always inherited but can rather be assigned at random by various groups who possess power in the society, and what once was a clear system has degenerated into a jumble of symbols, where no one really keeps track of what stands for what. The caste mark is still said to signify plenty of information concerning the bearer to an observant beholder, such as family, social class, political influence and power, profession, assets and even sexual disposition. However, most Tindremenes only have knowledge concerning a small set of caste marks belonging to nearby families or people in one’s close proximity, as well as the most important marks belonging to the higher castes. To not be able to recognize a mark is however never shown outwards since it’s regarded as one’s duty and relates to one’s honour to show others a proper amount of respect depending on their specific caste. The “proper amount of respect” could be anything ranging from contempt to courteously fawning.
The Major Castes
The rules governing the caste-system proclaim that the caste mark should be placed in the centre of the forehead and plainly visible (this is however rare on the countryside or in a less civilized settlement). A basic pattern exists for every major caste, and this pattern grows and becomes more advanced for every step on the ladder. In addition to one’s major caste mark, which is required by law to always be visible, there exists an abundance of extensions to the mark depending on which sub caste, family and profession an individual belongs to. Usually the basic major caste mark is tattooed while the extensions to the mark are painted on a frequent basis. Below follows a listing of the largest major castes and their most important aspects.
Eeta – The Excrement
Eeta is not considered a caste per se, it is more of a common name for those with no rights, also known as the Casteless or Untouchables. Belonging to Eeta is one step away from being permanently banned from the Tindremic Provinces and Eeta is mostly constituted by convicted felons and outcasts such as native Thursars, the gravely ill, plague victims or those who suffer from a mental or physical handicap. They are all regarded as a potential risk towards the rest of society regardless if that is the case or not. Several Eeta have had their forehead badly burned with a symbol which displays their individual caste in order to prevent them from adopting a false identity. For example thieves belonging to Vispellio, Canacheni or Thesauria (body looters and grave-robbers, pickpocketers, burglars and treasure-thieves) are all burned with their respective mark when sentenced.
Eeta who live in the city of Tindrem are banished to Vica Caducus, the Sinking City, and are not allowed to set foot on any other property in the capital.
Slaves – The Feet
Those who belong to the slave castes are not regarded as regular citizens, however these castes are differentiated depending on their use and their personal rights. For example, a lower class such as Serfs work on their master’s estate in exchange for food and lodging but are not allowed to own any property themselves. Villeins also work in exchange for food and lodging but are allowed to own property and Gladiators are even expected to fight and earn enough money to buy their own freedom.
Plebeians – The Body
The majority of the population belongs to Plebeian or Plebs and it is also the most extensive of the major castes. Even visitors to the empire are considered Plebeian although many specific rules and constitutions concerning visitors exist. Everyone who belongs to the Plebeian is considered free men and women who can own and manage property. The term covers recently redeemed slaves, Freemen, to a plethora of other sub-casts such as Courtesans, Mercenaries, Guards, Workers, Fishermen, Crafters, Merchants and Lesser Landowners. Only the Plebeian have the right, and are forced by law, to enter into the army if necessary. It is also among the Plebeian you will find the majority of the guilds in the empire, and they are represented by members of the Nobilitas in the Tricapita.
Army – The Fists
Those who can be said to belong to the army are only those who are employed to serve in the defence of the city of Tindrem, these men and women are often of higher rank. Regular guards and soldiers still belong to the Plebeian and it is only if they rise to a higher rank that they can change their major caste. Belonging to this caste are Guards, Officers, Lictors, Specialists, Military Officers, Aquilifers, Commanders, Legati and Generals.
Theurgy – The Spirit
The Theurgy consists of those who are regarded as “knowledgeable and wise individuals who are a benefit and of use to the empire” and includes members of “approved” magisteria, sciences, religions and magic schools. Following the same manner as other castes, one can see a distinct hierarchy within the cast’s members, the Readers, Acolytes, Hierodules, Scholars, Vicars, Lawmen, Mages, Priests, Archimandrites, Elders as well as Arbiters, Archmages, Patriarchs and Matriarchs.
Within the Theurgy constant debates and disputes are held, the topics discussed range from questions regarding faith and science to what sub divisions should be included in the turbulent Theurgy caste or not. However, open fights and wars are rare, probably owing to the theoretical nature of the Theurgy caste, but when fighting does arise it is fought in the shadows by hired agents.
To belong to the Theurgy caste from birth at least one, or preferably both of one’s parents have to already be members of the Theurgy caste or another superior caste. Representatives of the Tricapita are chosen from the Theurgy class.
Tricapita – The Three-Head
The Tricapita is the ruling caste with the highest ranking representatives, and it is composed by the Emperor himself and his two Ephors from the Theurgy and the Nobilitas. Both men and women can hold the position of emperor/empress and the title is both hereditary and open for election according to diffuse rules not known to the lower castes. Also included in the Tricapita are the supreme commanders of the army (Praetors), priests, wise men and magicians appointed by the government (Flamines), a number of Consuls and Quaestors as well as the Praetorian guard of the Emperor. Except for the Emperor and his closest kin it is not possible to be born into the Tricapita. The titles are instead appointed within the Theurgy or the Nobilitas.
Government, Religion and Morale
As far as the historical documents reveal the Tindremic Empire has always been governed by a Tricapita in various forms. As the name implies, the Tricapita consists of three heads or Capitas – the Emperor, representatives of the Theurgy and representatives of the Nobilitas. The major part of the army is under direct control of the emperor’s Capita, while influential members of the other Capitas are allowed control of their own legions.
In the times of the old empire before the Conflux, the ruling Tricapita maintained discipline and control by means of spiritual and physical power in a strict hierarchical system. This according to most scholars formed the basis of the once large and thriving empire. Today’s version of the Tricapita is merely a shadow of its former self, and even though no one can deny that the Tricapita rules supreme, the manner of how it acquires power is very different compared to days past. It is difficult, almost impossible to say if the decline of the caste system is a result of the corruption within the ruling caste or vice versa. A number of theologians even claim that a certain deity ruled over the caste system before the Conflux, but as it has been forgotten now its domain has withered.
What is clear is the fact that only a fragment of the former army and its legions remains. The government supported religions and their representatives now find themselves in competition with new gods and deities who celebrate independence, profit and individual happiness, and a large number of new temples have been constructed to honour these challengers by their followers. The emperor is rarely seen in public except from some appearances on festivals and gladiator games, and there are people who believe that the emperor and his predecessors have been marionettes of the elite for a long time.
The combination of former glory and pride as well as the decline of the caste system has resulted in a new kind of morality to be developed in Tindrem. A true Tindremene, regardless of caste lives by the principle “the strong shall prevail” and “what’s gained is earned” and praise what many would regard as outright swindling. This perspective is used in trade negotiations, as well as in discussions or in power struggles. One always should be prepared for an intellectual or in worst case a real stab in the back. First time visitors to the city of Tindrem are often appalled by “the lack of honour” amongst the native population. A Tindremene on the other hand finds plenty of naive and easily duped visitors in the city, and considers it awkward when a visitor makes a scene or calls a guard. “Not only is the foreigner incompetent in negotiations, he doesn’t even have the wits to keep quiet about it.”, as a Tindremene would say.
The prevailing mentality which has emerged since the Conflux has been summarised adequately by the acclaimed and respected philosopher Levai Cham: A man should always seem to have virtues, even if he does not actually have them. Not having virtues is in fact preferable than having them, since such a man is not tied by the bonds of morality; a mind not feeling the constraints of virtue is able to adapt itself according to the wind. However, a man able to scheme on the inside should be mercy, faith, integrity, humanity and religion on the outside.
Way of the Fox, Levai Cham, Majus Philosophicus
Prior to the Conflux the law of Tindrem went through a revolutionary change. During a rebellion the Tricapita yielded to a demand for publicizing the law to the lower castes beneath the Theurgy as well. This happened as a result of the imprisonment of an influential Plebeian who later campaigned for making the law public so that every citizen could learn it and therefore not be taken by surprise when arrested. In the negotiation which followed the rebellion the Tricapita agreed to publicize the law in exchange that some castes would still be exempted from it. This arrangement created Lexus Tredecim Tabula (Law of the Thirteen Tablets), or as it is generally known The Golden Means. During a grand ceremony the laws were placed in the arms of a majestic statue on Forum Iudico so that every citizen, at least those who were literate, could read and memorize the laws. The law had a varied degree of penalty depending on castes (and some were, as mentioned before, fully exempted from it.) However, the law recognized every citizen’s right to a fair trial before conviction.
Whether the Golden Means actually were made of pure gold or another material such as stone or plaster, is still up for debate since all traces of them as well as the statue they rested upon disappeared in the Great Washout. Regardless, the Golden Means still apply within the borders of the Tindremic Provinces. A problem with the law is partly that it has never been made public in its whole format since the last time it was made public and partly because of the abundance of later interpretations and exceptions made for new castes. This has resulted in farce-like trials where bribes in the form of money, goods or influence appear frequently, the corruption is hard to make public since the trials are often conducted behind closed doors. The trials and public punishments that are held openly at Forum Tindrem for the general public seem to be carried out only to make an example of.
A visitor to Tindrem should also be aware of Lictors and their unique role within the legal system. One or a number of Lictors always accompany the members of the Tricapita but can also be appointed to temporarily protect certain citizens, often those belonging to an eminent caste. A Lictor possesses the right to defend his master at any time with the use of violence, and might even kill in order to protect his master from real or imaginary threats.
Magic and Science
On top of the windswept pillars inVica Levitathe Clerus Magica is situated, one of the largest magic academies in the world. Acolytes thirsty for magic and mages from the whole world come here to study and explore some of the branches within the wide realm of magic. One unique aspect with this academy is the fact that all schools of magic are allowed, each having their own institution, as long as their members refrain from using rituals of necromantic or demonic nature within the walls of Tindrem. Concerning such rituals it should be mentioned that one is often referred to the small neighbouring island of Isla Piska. The major schools of magic are, since historical times, represented in the Tricapita byFlamines.
When Vica Iudico sank into the ocean the Athenaeum Regalis disappeared as well, it was a well-regarded academy which also housed one of the largest collections of books and scrolls in the world. Those items which could be saved were divided between the Clerus Magica and the former city hall in Forum Tindrem, which has taken over the role as both library and courthouse. One of the most important items recovered was the Armillogion device – a kind of ancient orrery of mystical origin that according to legend was the reason to the success of the old empire because of its ability to predict the future. Unfortunately no one has ever understood how the mechanism in the item worked and since it stopped working during the flood it now mostly stands in its new place in the Clerus Magica collecting dust.
The large scroll collection attracts visitors from all over the world and this is something that is often bragged about and the collection remains a source of pride to the inhabitants of Tindrem. However, despite this fact knowledge itself is not valued in the same way by the new Nobilitas caste as it was before the Conflux.
This reflects upon the Theurgy, who receives less and less resources to construct new academies, write scripts and to do research. The money that is received is mainly used to maintain the already existing institutions. However, a tradition which is still honoured is that it falls upon all respectable Tindremene of Plebeian caste or higher to give their children one or more years of education, often administered by a hired scholar, and the empire has a high degree of literacy.
The city of Tindrem is a city of celebrations, plays and gladiator battles. Among the multifaceted population cultural celebrations as well as festivals are held frequently and for the young Nobilitas it has become something of a sport to find new events and rites and elevate them to official tradition. More often than not the original background of the rites is left little consideration, and most parts are forgotten or in the worst case twisted to fit the new Tindremic version of the old tradition. In other words there is nothing strange about celebrating the Black Lobster Feast eating broiled spica or to replace “North Sea” with “Inner Sea” in the beautiful Norse oratorio Ice Shards of Skadi, despite the fact that there has not been any ice on the Inner Sea as far back as anyone can remember.
Amongst the most important days of celebration are The Imperial Gladiator festival that lasts for about 30 days, and the Raffle of Caerus which is a yearly event in the honour of the god of fortune. In the latter festival the name of a Nobilitas is drawn from an urn, resulting in open and legalised plunder for anyone of the selected person’s house and belongings. The household is then driven away and banished while the participants of the celebration cheer. This festival is meant to show the god of fortune’s inherent fickleness, but as with everything in Tindrem political motives play a major part since it appears to be possible to bribe your way out of the urn using the right connections.
The climate in the city of Tindrem is warm all year round, with high temperatures during the summer months and only in rare cases does it become really cold during the winters. Because of this climate the inhabitants of Tindrem are lightly dressed. The classical Tindremic piece of clothing during the summer days is a toga with no sleeves, the female counterpart of toga is a stola, this garment is worn with open sandals. During the winter months the people often wear a long-sleeved tunica together with a pair of bracae (trousers), with socks worn inside the sandals and an additional mantle, palla, fastened by brooches.
The clothes are an important status symbol for women as well as men, and are often colored in different patterns and decorated with various ribbons and ornaments. The women often put emphasis on their breasts with a corset or a strophion, and often expose one of them by tying their stola asymmetrically. The most common material for clothes is coloured cotton followed by different kinds of silk, during the winters the garments are decorated with exotic and rare furs. A rule that rings true to the young Nobilitas is that the more impractical piece of clothing is the more status the wearer possess, since this individual then display that he or she do not have to do any manual labour at all. As an example of this the togas made of the extremely delicate and fragile material Sarducaan Papyrus are considered one of the most distinguished garments since it barely allows the wearer to move his or her head without breaking, leaving the wearer almost unable to move without being carried in a palanquin.