Çeridgul

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Ekançeridgul-terashedostli
Flag of Çeridgul
Flag
Coat of Arms of Çeridgul
Coat of Arms
Motto: Not agreed
Anthem: Not agreed
Location of Çeridgul
Map versions 16.2.7 to present
Capital Gultaj
Largest city Gultaj
Official language(s) Çervelik
Official religion(s) Taghlishen
Demonym Çer, pl. Çerid
 - Adjective Çer
Government Unregimented Confederation
 - Great Speaker (changes frequently)
 - (no head of government) N/A
 - Legislature Vocal Assembly
Establishment 6881 ASC (fictional)
August 25, 2018 (real)
 - Ranked -
Area ~71,000 sq. km
 - Ranked -
Population ~10,000
 - Active -
 - Ranked -
Currency Barter economy
Abbreviation CDG
Time zone(s) CMT +2
National website -
National forum -
National animal Capra aegagrus euranus
(Euran feral goat)
National food Spiced goat stew
National drink Ejikad (Çerian gin)
National tree Gymnosporia aqabiana
(Western Euran spikethorn)

Ekançeridgul-terashedostli the gathering of the courageous Çer people beneath the celestial eyes, known more briefly as Çeridgul the gathering of the Çer people, is the nation of the Çerid, a nonhuman species that, according to their legends, originate in another world.

Or so it might be gathered from speaking to them, if anyone had the opportunity. The Çerid are neither socially organized nor scientifically advanced and are not familiar with the idea of worlds per se; they appear to assume there is only one very large, geographically continuous world, and that it is no less unrealistic to have different lengths of night and day in a faraway region than to have different species of animal.

Whatever their origin, the Çerid, despite having no known prior existence nor any apparent relation to a Micrasian species, now inhabit one of the larger islands off western Eura, which had been devoid of human life since the nuclear devastation of Babkha nearly nineteen centuries earlier. The residual radiation appears not to have caused them undue problems, as, due to their Bronze Age level of development, life expectancy is already such that most individuals do not have the opportunity to be struck down by cancer.

The Çerid appear to have a biological tendency to social anticoherence above the family level. They view society as a collection of individuals who go in a similar direction, rather than any kind of whole: there is no such thing as a person, or even god, whom one has a duty to follow or be governed by, only individuals whose opinions one may or may not graciously accept. They are a unified nation only when faced against a threat large enough to require one; otherwise they remain affiliated to family and, more loosely, to special interest groups of one kind or another. To non-Çerid, they often appear prickly and argumentative toward even their dearest relations.

The Çerid had, with some bemusement, noted the passage of ships by their island for a number of years - mostly merchant vessels bound to and from the Constancian port at Aqabâ, and it appears that at least some note had been made of them. Actual contact, however, has only been recently made with the ovareshid, the no-scales, and it remains to be seen what impact this will have upon them. In the meantime, a port and embassy district has been designated at Gejlak Beach.

History

(For more detail, see History of the Çerid.)

According to their histories, Çerid arrived on Micras - through some kind of teleportation event - from another world, where they had been enslaved. They appeared at what is now called Vorinemtaj, in the interior of Blue-Green Island, and took action to destroy whatever linked this world to the one that they had come from, so that they could not be followed.

The early years of Çeridgul were dominated by the struggle to survive; though their environment was lush and productive, they were utterly unfamiliar with its flora and fauna. Nearly half their number were decimated within the first five years, some by starvation but most by the Great Plague of 6883 to 6885 ASC. Further death was ultimately prevented by the Çer tendency to spread their population relatively thin. Many families spent the following years warding away any visitors until fear of the plague faded away and contact resumed.

Iron, and therefore steel, were not available in useful amounts, but they had access to tin from the southern foothills near the head of the Bay of Winds. Combined with small deposits of copper, this allowed the production of bronze, but it remained a vanishingly precious commodity, and many of the less fortunate early settlers had been forced to make many of their tools from stone, wood, or bone. This changed in 6921 with the discovery of huge deposits of the copper ores malachite and azurite, the struggle for control of which sparked the Verdigris Wars shortly thereafter. As the wars settled down and bronze became far more common, Gultaj, a major trading post, became the site of the annual Vocal Assembly and therefore the de facto capital of Çeridgul.

The Çerid had noted human ships passing in the distance, most of them traveling to or from the Constancian port at Aqabâ, and been thoroughly confused as to what they were; the Çerid feared the sea and had no history of shipbuilding more advanced than rafts. The arrival of a Constancian survey mission in 6975 resulted in first contact with humanity and spurred them to start experimenting with seagoing craft, eventually arriving at a crude catamaran design. Over the next few decades, they began colonizing the coasts of the northern Gulf of Aqabâ and cautiously interacting with the human civilizations of Micras.

Geography and climate

A detailed map of Çerid territory.

The island making up the Çer heartland, referred to natively as Blue-Green Island, is the largest of those lying in the Gulf of Aqabâ in western Eura. It has the approximate shape of a bident head, the 'base' pointing northwest and the peninsular 'prongs' to southeast, toward a neighboring island; the southern peninsula is rather longer than the northern. The island is approximately 360 km from the northwestern end to the tip of the southern peninsula, and 200 km at its widest, in the northeast/southwest direction, just as the peninsulas bifurcate. Several spines of highlands dominate the interior, with the rest of the terrain tending to be gently rolling throughout.

The aridity of the island generally decreases sharply with altitude. The inland highlands are considerably more humid than the lower elevations, and are largely laurisilvan, shrouded in fog and cloud and densely vegetated. The lowlands, meanwhile, are generally desert, especially along the western and northern coasts; those around the Bay of Winds and in the southeast are semi-arid rather than arid, bordering on a Mediterranean climate near the head of the Bay. However, the amount of rainfall in the highlands tends to generate a large number of streams and brooks running toward the sea, and around these are strips of denser vegetation.

The zones of mainland Çer settlement within the purview of Çeridgul fall on the northeastern, and to a lesser extent the western, shores of the Gulf. These areas are climatically similar to Blue-Green Island, with southwestern-facing shores and higher elevations receiving more rainfall than the surrounding desert. While zones of Çer settlement stretch further north than this, up to the former lands of Iteru, they are not yet represented in the Vocal Assembly nor answerable to the Household of the Great Speaker.

'Government'

Çeridgul has little of what a human would call government. Embedded deeply in the Çer psyche is a resistance to the notion of ceding personal sovereignty out of anything other than familial ties: one might obey one's parent or mate instinctively, but otherwise no one is held to be owed respect or loyalty except in a transactional sense, and only for exactly as long as the transaction continues. What counts as a transaction for this purpose varies: the ability to speak and convince, social respect from great and praiseworthy deeds, payment for services rendered, or even coercion. Local administration, such as it is, tends to be in the paws of political groupings called constituencies.

The nearest thing that the Çerid have to a notion of an institution invested with legitimate authority is the collective will. Every year, therefore, the Vocal Assembly (sheglaçenid-tegrik, lit. "the collection of voices speaking") convenes at Gultaj, one of the few dense Çer settlements and the effective national capital, to discuss matters of wide importance and attempt to come to decisions about them through consensus. Should the Assembly do so, the decision is held to have the force of law until reconsidered in the same way. Should no consensus be reached on an issue for which it is felt a decision must be made, usually some other method of breaking the impasse is required and may take whatever form is convenient to the members, whether through a game of chance, a contest, a sign from Taghli, or a disorganized brawl, many of which are going on outside the actual decision-making in any case and in which alcohol is frequently involved. From this it can be deduced that the Vocal Assembly is less of a legislature and more of a large-scale combination of town hall meeting, county fair, and pub night - a sort of marginally more functional draconic Oktoberfest.

The task of presiding over the Assembly falls to the kalashegtin, the Great Speaker, whose election and inauguration are traditionally the first event of the Assembly's annual activities. The position is, in fact, a mainly ceremonial one, given to community stalwarts, and mostly involves publicly announcing the Assembly's decisions. Nonetheless, a Speaker serves for the entire rest of the year until the following Assembly, and in being the one to announce the decisions the Speaker is held, in a sense, to take ownership of them. Should an act of the Assembly turn out particularly well over the following year, the Speaker may find herself widely praised; should it turn out particularly badly, she may find herself subject to complaints and verbal abuse. Her only solace, in that case, is that one is only eligible for the Speakership once.

Acts of the Assembly have no formal method of enforcement, and their willful violation is generally met with various forms of informal justice. How likely this is depends on the perceived severity of the violation, and indeed is far more often practiced for those things considered so heinous that the Assembly has found it redundant to explicitly discuss them.

Usually, punishments are intangible, such as loss of social standing, refusal to do business, or ostracism. Only in the worst cases, such as unwarranted crimes against one's person - murder, severe injury, rape - will reprisals be delivered through physical deprivation or violence. Crimes against property, while not subject to the same moral outrage, are nonetheless taken seriously and there is, in particular, an extensive body of etiquette surrounding one's behavior when on a female's land, willful failure to observe which will result in expulsion, often with the collaboration of neighbors who do not want similar trouble.

Demographics

Population and distribution

The total population of Çeridgul is small by modern human standards, approximately only 10,000 individuals. This is a function of the small founding population, the difficulties of adapting to a new ecosystem, and the plagues that ravaged them during their earliest years. While population has begun to increase more sharply in recent years due to a more stable food supply and increased prosperity from trade, the fact remains that, even provided they were able to achieve the population density of a modern state, it would take them a century of sustained high growth to reach a number of half a million.

On Blue-Green Island, the Çerid are concentrated in the island's higher-altitude interior, where rainfall, humidity, and therefore biodiversity, are highest. This is the only region where concentrated settlements of any size have developed, most of them mere villages with a handful of families; the largest settlement and site of the Vocal Assembly, Gultaj, swells enormously in population during Assembly season but maintains a base population of approximately two hundred. Most of the rest of the population is found in family homesteads, either scattered throughout the interior or along the indented southern coasts of the island. That said, there are few areas that are completely devoid of Çer presence, and even in the arid western littoral there are an increasing number of families making a living extracting minerals from streambeds.

Çerid have a latent fear of large stretches of open water - explained domestically by the presence of dangerous spirits, particularly the Abyssal - which for many years kept them confined to Blue-Green Island. Contact with humans from passing ships, combined with a desire for less encumbered living space, prompted a reevaluation of the inadvisibility of sea travel, and Çer catamarans began traversing the Gulf of Aqabâ beginning in 107 YU, with waves of settlement upon the Gulf's western and northeastern shores following afterward.

Language

The main language of the Çerid is Çervelik; it is universally understood, and all public business is conducted in it. Its primacy is due to the fact that most of the Çerid's slave ancestors were captured from a cluster of closely related ethnic groups, who spoke either the same tongue or related tongues so similar that they were able to assimilate relatively easily. While two other known languages, Hwimpilh and Pa'irkai, are also spoken, they persist only as the home tongue of particular families and are decreasingly used by new generations; as they are not written, they are likely to be lost.

While Çervelik itself was not historically a written language in the Place That Was, some domestic slaves among the Çerid evidently learned the writing system of their masters and, after the translocation to Micras, applied and adapted it to their own language. Most of the population is not literate, and those who are - generally descendants of particular families - form a caste regarded with respect and superstition for their power to preserve words.

Religion

(For further details, see the article on Taghlishen.)

The Çerian religion, Taghlishen, is named for the celestial creator-goddess Taghli. While considered to be ultimately benevolent, Taghli must work for the good of the world rather than of individuals, and is seen as too "big" too be able to make an impact that is reliably favorable for mortals, in the same way that a human might struggle not to step on ants while walking among them.

As a result, Taghlishen has a strong animist aspect in that mortals can seek supernatural aid from the other numinous beings with which Taghli has populated the world. While it is convenient to classify all of these as "spirits", in the minds of the Taghlishentinid there are several classes of such beings, which share little in common beyond not having a recognizable body.

Culture

(For further details, see the article on the Culture of Çeridgul.)

Economy

Calendar

The Çerid have not yet adopted a method or marking months or days, but number the years since their arrival on Micras, or "Years of Unbinding". The meaning of these years to the rest of the world, however, has not remained constant.

For much of its history, time passed in Çeridgul at the same rate as the ASC calendar; because the First Year of Unbinding was 6881 ASC, the Unbinding year equaled the ASC year minus 6880. The last year in which this was true was 7084 ASC/204 YU. By this point, psionic communications with Kalgachia had influenced the Çerid - who had already noted the difficulties of interacting with a world in which time passed more slowly than for them - to make a determination on their own calendar such that the flow of time was more at parity with that of the rest of the world. Perhaps as a result of the psionic resonance between Çeridgul and Kalgachia, the flow of time in the former attuned itself to the latter, with the result that 205 YU was effectively identical to 200 Anno Libertatis; from this point forward, the Year of Unbinding could be found simply by adding five to the AL year.