Or the lack thereof…
Fels, and more specifically, the Three Rivers continent, is notable for its lack of standing armies among its diverse polities. With the exceptions of Nae, Oloi and the city of Myre, none of the nations anywhere in the world possess what could be classified as a professional military.
The vast majority of polities in the world are city-states, as most nations have disintegrated over time due to warfare, decadence or depopulation. Lands such as Arimaul and the continent of Marnopyre once were kingdoms or possessed nations who were such. Today, they are simply markers on a map. Arimaul only exists as a region to the few who care, such as geographers or scholars, and the continent of Marnopyre was devastated by warfare aeons ago, and has never regained even a shadow of its former population.
The reason for the lack of established armies is simple: sorcery.
Armies of men and women armed with swords and axes can do little against the power of magic, as the various forces of the Marnopyre states learned when Sosophra Ikananyar destroyed them.
Rulers since that day have relied on smaller, all-mercenary forces for the protection of themselves and their subjects. Others have earned the favour of various sorcerers to provide security that an armed force would ordinarily provide. This approach is fraught with dangers as sorcerers are notoriously fickle and generally aren’t motivated by basal things as money. Other cities are ruled by sorcerers directly and employ guards and mercenaries to keep their citizenry in check.
The city of Myre is one exception to the rule. The city is ruled by the Hielachs, who are adept priests of the god Ydrys. Each and every one of these men are accomplished mesmerists and have little to fear from sorcerers at large. The city itself is overseen militarily by the Militia, a professional standing army who not only keep the peace, but enforce the Hielachs' will in the lands about Myre that the city claims as its own.
Nae is another exception. This is a nation in the south-western part of the River Rivers, ruled over by a hereditary Monarch. It is has been stable for millennia, while empires and kingdoms have risen and fallen around it. Unlike the tyrants that frequently rule in the Three Rivers, Nae has been governed with an even hand, which has augmented its stability. Nae maintains a sizable army to protect its borders, particularly the barbarous south, and to keep internal order.
Nae is also protected from ambitious sorcery by a magical interdiction that surrounds the land and all but limits sorcerous activity. Any wizard wishing to visit Nae has no choice but to travel directly to the capital where they are subject to scrutiny.
Oloi lies directly to the north of Nae and maintains an army, though her reasons for doing so are only similar on the surface. The Oloii are a close and secretive folk, keeping to themselves in their mountainous land, and practising a form of xenophobia that would put the Canal Society to shame. Oloii’s borders are protected by not only human soldiers but the famed automatons; large animated structures of stone and metal that are allegedly powered by the captured life forces of condemned prisoners. Oloi is also a difficult country to visit for sorcerers for much the same reason as Nae. An interdiction preventing most sorcerers from entering the land unbeknown is in force.
©1996-present Peter (Booth) Greenwell - texts and images CC BY-SA 4.0
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