History of the Çerid
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Note: As with many primitive cultures on Micras, the flow of time for the Çerid originally defaulted to the same rate used by the ASC calendar. After the end of 7084 ASC/204 YU, Çeridgul adopted the same timeframe as the Kalgachi used, and beginning in 205 YU the Year of Unbinding is equal to the year in Anno Libertatis plus five.
Before the Beginning
Prior to the arrival of the Çerid, the islands in the Gulf of Aqabâ had been - like much of the Euran continent - uninhabited since the fall of Babkha, the major Euran power. The ancient kingdom's self-immolation by nuclear fire in 4973 ASC resulted in large portions of the landscape being turned to radioactive glass, subjected to fallout, or both. Eura fell into a dark age from which, arguably, it still has not completely recovered, though nations such as Constancia, Eklesia, and Alduria have steadily reclaimed portions of the mainland for civilization, while the thalassocratic Bassarids have colonized the continental margins.
The largest island of the Gulf, called Malachítis Nísos by the Constancians and Jazireh-ye Ažis in Raspurid Babkhi - both meaning "Malachite Isle" - had, in its Babkhan days, been part of North Molivadia province in the Emirate of Razjania. Its ancient name, cities, and population are no longer recorded in existing archives, but it appears to have been of extremely minor importance next to the nearby port cities of Aqabâ and Aden. The few ruins found there are those of villages and hamlets, and presumably the fall of civilization resulted in the emigration or extinction of whatever meager population once resided there.
The island, and some of its neighboring areas, were not directly impacted by nuclear weapons, and appear to have been relatively insulated from the secondary effects of radiation; the nearest concentration of emissions, consisting of the sites of Aden, Khosravi, and several other nearby cities, was well upwind of the island. This may have been due to the area's relative lack of population and importance, which may also account for the fact that, for many local centuries afterward, the area remained unclaimed save for the Constancian repopulation of Aqabâ.
The Origins of the Çerid
The ultimate origins of the Çerid are murky. Though most of their accounts and legends were recorded on the Walls of Memory at Vorinemtaj, the further back they claim to go, the more mythological their content appears to be.
It is clear, both from the suddenness of their appearance upon Micras and their own accounts, that they originated on some other world. The name of it is not known, for indeed the Çerid had none for it; the idea that there are multiple worlds has only taken root in the Çer worldview since extensive contact with humans, and since the Translocation it has been traditionally remembered simply as the Place That Was. It was clearly a habitable world - that part of it with which the Çerid ancestors were familiar is described as a desert of immense size, dotted with oases and crisscrossed by rivers bordered by narrow widths of productive land, and bordered by mountains and seas. Yet it was just as clearly one rather different from Micras. It appears to have had lighter gravity, as the first Çerid to arrive on Micras found themselves heavier than they had been and unable to fly; it appears to have had a very lengthy day-night cycle, with the night dominated by some kind of moon or other celestial body to which it was tidally locked, which remained in place in the night sky; and most of its animals had six limbs and none of them had feathers, judging from tales of utter confusion at the appearance of many Micrasian species.
The Çer creation myth relates that the creator goddess Taghli, after laying many eggs that were the origins of the celestial bodies, plants, and animals, produced from her last egg the Çerid, who had Her shape. They spread across the desert, which they dominated for eons, and were divided into many tribes and languages. But eventually, from over the mountains, came beings who are remembered as the Tall Ones, who, from their depiction on the Walls of Memory, were of a fairly similar appearance to the Çerid and in scientific terms may well have been a related species. While they died easily away from water, they were more numerous and organized than the Çerid were (Çer accounts describe them scornfully as "seeking to be ruled and regimented" and "swarming in hives"), and steadily evicted them from the land bordering the rivers, pushing them out into the desert.
The more immediate ancestors of the Çerid led a somewhat transhumant existence, clustering around oases during the long, burning day, and venturing out into the wastes during the equally long but more hospitable night to gather resources, hunt, trade, and raid settlements of the Tall Ones, with whom relations remained hostile. It was in an apparent attempt to retaliate for, or put and end to, the raids that the Tall Ones were moved to mount military expeditions to the oases in the middle of the day, when most of the tribe would be present. While this was presumably an extremely difficult and expensive feat, the Tall Ones succeeded in killing many members of the tribe, including the troublesome and those unsuitable for labor, and enslaving most of the rest.
Many of them were assigned to a particular farming estate outside a major riverside town. Among the younger members of the group were Kadri, a female smith, and Tibed, a male employed as a courier and go-between; the latter was taught to read and write the language of the Tall Ones for this purpose. The group remained enslaved for what equated to several Micrasian years before they escaped during the Translocation.
Hearing-stalks be held high! I am Shorhad! I speak!
In the time of our mothers' mothers' mothers, we were in thrall to the Tall Ones. Cruel mockeries of the People were they: clumsy, lumbering, with misshapen stalks. They huddled together in great and miserable masses, each a servant of some higher and haughty one. And, so that they could appease those lowest among them, they enslaved the People to be lower still.
(Woe for the People, thus to be bound!)
But there were those among the Tall Ones who, greedy and fat, gathered many things; and among these were atimes books of travel, which, when a paw was placed upon a page, could send one away to another place. Cunning and careful was brother Tibed, who took the book of his haughty ruler, and generous was he when he brought it to his brothers and sisters in their cages. One by one, they departed the Place That Was; and last of all was Tibed himself, who held the book above the flame as he passed through, that none might follow.
(Joy for the People, thus to claim their courage back!)
For his deeds did many seek him as a mate, but his heart was claimed by sister Kadri, to whom he and he alone gave many children. Even here among you are those who came forth from them. And like them, the People have become numerous in this new place where the sky is strange. There is no life without courage, and without sufficiency, and without being unbowed before anyone.
(Learning for the People, thus to guard them from tyranny!)
It remains unclear by exactly what process the "books of travel" operated, how they were made, how common they were, or even whether the Çerid completely misunderstood the cause of their journey. Despite, too, the stated importance of the Doorstone to the process, there is no indication of what its connection, if any, might have been to the book or, if the Çerid did not create the Doorstone, how it arrived on Micras. Above all, it is not clear, even assuming all else was as the Çerid describe, why the book evidently led to Micras at all.
Still, the basic facts remain: the Çerid, who had not existed upon Micras before and had no conventional means to reach it, nonetheless arrived.
In 6881 ASC, approximately eight hundred Çerid appeared in the inland highlands of Malachítis Nísos, on a shelf of rock partway up the side of a cliff; they dubbed the place Vorinemtaj, the Place of Arrival, shortly afterward. Tibed had burned the book that was reportedly used to send them there, but, to make doubly sure, he convinced the exhausted Çerid to destroy the Doorstone as well, picking it up and dropping it to break it against the ground and then twisting up its metal inlays.
The Çerid were astonished to find themselves in a rich land, well-provisioned with water and food, but a strange one. Both sun and moon looked different, and chased each other around the sky at a dizzying pace. The air was thick and humid. The earth squeezed them against it, making it all but impossible to fly, more difficult to breathe, easier to injure oneself. The plants and animals were utterly alien, and they little knew which ones were safe to eat or how to harvest them. Regardless, their spirits were high; they felt they could endure any difficulty, so long as they remained free.
Feeling unnaturally confined in such numerous close company, the strongest and healthiest Çerid began spreading out, the males to start exploring, the females to claim plots of land and see what use could be made of what was on them. Tibed, who for his central role in the escape had acquired an unusual amount of praise and regard, received a number of very direct offers, but he had evidently been courting Kadri well before the Translocation and felt it impolitic, not to say potentially life-threatening, to take up with another female. He therefore moved in with Kadri, who had gained a certain amount of status herself and who used it to claim the area immediately surrounding Vorinemtaj as her own land. Remaining with them as their tenants were a selection of the Çerid who were unable to journey long distances, whether due to age, infirmity, illness, or a simple inability to adapt fully to their new home.
Kadri and Tibed divided their time between the organization of their small settlement and the expansion of their family; they began having children without any significant delay after marriage and continued to do so until near the end of Tibed's life. Out of their tenants, those who retained some amount of mobility helped gather food and resources to maintain those who could not. To help keep this latter group busy, Tibed urged them to take on a cultural role for their people, depicting in art the history and knowledge of the Çerid so that it might be preserved.
Two years after the Translocation, the Great Plague broke out. Çerid are, to their great fortune, apparently immune or resistant to most human diseases and vice versa, primarily due to differences in body temperature making them mutually inhospitable for the other's microorganisms. But some Micrasian microbe apparently found a safe refuge in Çer lungs, spreading through coughing and reducing oxygen absorption and ultimately causing the lungs to fill with fluid. Out of the eight hundred Çerid who had arrived on Micras, nearly three hundred died of the Plague, including most of the species' male bands and nearly all its children, including the entirely of Kadri and Tibed's first clutch. Aside from those who were able to fight off the symptoms of the disease, those who survived largely did so due to the Çer aversion for high population densities; with few males to spread the Plague while roaming, individual families were able to maintain a form of quarantine by simply attacking any trespassers, preferably from as far a distance as their technology allowed.
The species survived, but the effects left their mark. Territorial as females were, the rather extreme level of Çer insistence on property rights and measures against trespassing did not appear until the quarantines made them necessary. The cultural preservation efforts at Vorinemtaj, which began as busy work, took on a new sense of urgency as many of Kadri's tenants perished and it seemed a very real possibility that the Walls of Memory might become the only legacy of the Çerid left to the future. Even after the Plague receded and died out, a process that was mostly complete within three years (though sporadic outbreaks occurred for decades afterward), terrified Çerid families remained isolated from each other, not daring to cross their boundaries.
Over the next fifteen years, families steadily increased in size as surviving parents bore children, but geographic mobility remained negligible while they remained fortified on their own lands. As the children began reaching maturity, however, it became impossible to maintain the situation; they were unable to pursue their own lives or families while remaining where they were, and felt it increasingly urgent to leave. Beginning around 6900, the quarantines began to end out of sheer refusal by the new generation to abide by them: cautiously at first, but with increasing confidence.
As his children began leaving home and the survival of his people seemed assured, Tibed began occupying himself by expanding on what had already been done to preserve Çer culture. In the Place That Was, the Çerid had never written their own language, Çervelik, and Tibed was one of only three Çerid that had both been taught to read and write the language of the Tall Ones and survived the Plague. He had spent time during the quarantine years adapting the letters he had learned to Çervelik, and taught them to his children; now he went back to the Walls of Memory, until now covered only in art and drawings, and annotated and explained each one in writing. This task occupied him until his death in 6907, by which time he and Kadri had seven living children - three daughters and four sons - out of a total of twenty-two. Kadri neither married nor had relations with any other male, and passed away three years later.
Although birth rates were very high in the post-quarantine years, particularly among the new generation, so too were infant and adult mortality, resulting in only modest population growth. The sudden expansion of the Çerid throughout their new home was therefore less a matter of a physical need for new land and resources than a psychological need to escape to unseen lands. The new bands of young males roaming the landscape were accompanied, at least temporarily, by females who were sick of staring at the same vistas and faces. The population spread widely but thinly across the humid highlands, and into the area around the head of the Bay of Winds.
Vorinemtaj retained a certain cultural primacy in the Çer mindset, but remained an estate unto itself, kept apart from others by topography.
- 33 YU: An unusually rich site, already home to several homesteads in close proximity and centrally located, becomes Gultaj after having attracted a number of new families to it. It becomes the largest of a number of villages founded around the same time as the population increases.
- 36 YU: The thirty-sixth anniversary of the Translocation, there is a celebration of what, in base-6, is an important occasion. This marks the beginning of an annual commemoration of the event, known as the Feast of Unbinding, which is later held to fall at the end of the year, with the new year beginning at the close of the Feast.
- 41 YU: Malachite and azurite, copper ores, are found near the southern end of the island. Combined with tin deposits in the streams flowing into the Bay of Winds, this gives the Çerid a far more reliable supply of bronze and spurs further migration into the arid lowlands.
- c. 45 YU: Gultaj's central location, both between the major copper and tin deposits and with respect to the distribution of the population, results in it becoming a booming market town. Gultaj acquires a number of new shrines to the local zeren as a result.
- 47 YU: The Verdigris Wars break out. Increasing competition between landowners for copper-bearing ores results in the breakout of hostilities. The resulting coalitions, though consisting broadly of owners of small estates versus those of large ones, are nonetheless extremely fluid, as anyone who gains too much more territory than others often finds themselves a target of their former allies. Matters are complicated even further by the bands of males hired as mercenaries by various factions, since - though they provide much-needed manpower - they often prove spectacularly unreliable, either plundering the lands they are supposed to be delivering to their employers, or extorting higher fees immediately before important actions.
- 51 YU: After dragging on for several years, the Verdigris Wars sputter out. None of the coalitions prove stable enough to be said to have won anything; instead, there are many individual winners and losers, with the net effect broadly being that the winners carved out territories among themselves in a more or less equitable fashion, with the losers either becoming tenants on those territories or being pushed out of the region entirely - mostly toward the coasts, where they subsist on fishing. The most immediate damage done is economic, with mining operations and homes repeatedly destroyed and stockpiles of goods stolen; fairly few people died in combat, though about 55 died from exposure, starvation, illnesses, or injuries related to the conflict.
- 54 YU: What is held to be the first Vocal Assembly occurs in Gultaj, originating as the 54-year celebration of the Feast of Unbinding. The close proximity of such a high proportion of the population is seen as an opportunity to discuss the news, accomplishments, and issues of the day. Being an utterly unofficial consequence of the gathering and dominated by shameless gossipers, it is soon recognized that the Assembly has produced a number of tall tales and conflicting accounts but spectacularly little hard information - but, just the same, entertaining and worth doing again. One particular benefit recognized is the reduction of tensions left over from the Verdigris Wars, with representatives of the wars' losers getting into a drunken fight with those of the winners and prevailing, to the cheers of onlookers. After sobering up, the copper miners offer to start buying fish from their former adversaries, and the demands of honor are considered satisfied on all fronts.
- 58 YU: After several annual repeats of the Assembly, which have become popular as an excuse to socialize and make money, it is felt that the collective information store needs to be more rigorously distributed. As many scribes as can be gathered are set to recording tales and accounts brought to the Assembly from across Çeridgul in writing. To minimize the risk of undue exaggeration, it is decided that a prominent member of the the community should announce the most interesting or relevant information publicly, so that, if found to be untrue over the following year, it can be debunked equally publicly at the following Assembly. The first election of the Great Speaker eventually results, after a spirited contest, in the victory of the copper baroness Sabiri, who duly announces the year's news and then sits back satisfied with a job well done.
- 59 YU: The year's Assembly begins, rather than ends, with the election of the next Grand Speaker, so that this contentious part of the proceedings can be disposed of first. A huge percentage of the previous year's findings are determined to be either outright falsehoods or so exaggerated as to be useless, but one previously unclear point is reasonably well-confirmed: the land of Çeridgul is an island, albeit a big one. This fact had not previously been apparent, partly due to the harsher climate in the lowlands, and partly due to a superstition of the sea. The result is almost immediately challenged by those who feel that other, wider lands are waiting to be found, though there are partisans in favor of almost every conceivable direction in which it might be found.
- 62 YU: The most fanatical partisans of the peninsular theory, after endless marching along desolate shores, are either forced to concede defeat or are dead (in one notable case, by marching directly into the waves, certain that the sea was merely a shallow veneer). The exercise does, however, have a somewhat more useful result, in that a party exploring the southernmost tip of the island spotted objects in the distance, traveling on the surface of the sea - human cargo vessels, although the explorers thought them to be particularly large and odd fish.
- 72 YU: The 72-year Feast of Unbinding, and the associated Vocal Assembly, is not only a numerical milestone but a cultural one; it was announced by the Great Speaker that the last known individual to be born in the Place That Was, Ebelad husband of Hali, had passed away. Sobering as this news was, there was a sense of euphoria at the thought that they were now entirely creatures of their new home.
- 86 YU: Constancia, the major presence in the Euran interor, decides to survey the area around the Gulf of Aqabâ; this includes the island of Çeridgul, which they call, among less flattering names, Malachítis Nísos (Malachite Isle).
- 90 YU: The 90-year Feast of Unbinding is held.
The Constancian survey mission arrived in 95 YU. First contact was made on the east side of the Bay of Winds, somewhat to the astonishment of the crew - who had heard of the "scaled-demons" but thought them the literary creation of some functionary of the Autokrator back in Vey - and very much to the astonishment of the Çer fishing families they first encountered, who, up until they saw the ship heading in to shore, were partisans of the "fish" theory on the identification of human vessels.
The meeting was peaceful, less due to any natural inclination on either side than to simple mutual incomprehension. Not sharing even the same body plan, much less bodily or verbal language, they managed to misinterpret, or miss entirely, many potentially hair-raising cues (the surreptitious pointing of a rifle in the general direction of one Çer was regarded with little more than a polite glance; it was a damn strange-looking blowgun, but after all the unscaled one hadn't had it anywhere near its mouth, so obviously it wasn't dangerous). While each side learned a few of each others' words, any kind of in-depth communication proved elusive.
After landing at several points along the coast and having similar encounters - the only meaningful insight being gained was that the creatures became agitated if they tried to cross any lines of poles or crude cairns to head inland - the survey crew decided to move on to Aden, leaving the problem of dealing with the Çerid to those with a higher pay grade. They paused only long enough to produce some pamphlets, done entirely in pictograms, on the benefits of switching to the Norton calendar as their national timeframe and hand them out to the confused Çerid.
The annual Vocal Assembly was dominated by news of the ovareshid and the perusal of their pamphlets, many of which had by this time been repurposed as nesting material but enough of which had been preserved and passed along that some study could be made. The scribes, conferring among themselves, agreed that while they appeared to show the Burning Eye moving at different speeds in different places, this in itself was not a particular revelation - they had known about this since the translocation, when they had been confused by the unseemly speed of the sun whizzing around the sky. The use of different numbers of tally marks in association with each place was no more revealing. Somewhat more interesting were the accounts of the aliens' abilities. Clearly they were rich and powerful people; they had carried many objects made of metal, like their strange blowguns, and been clothed in strange fabrics. Their ship had not been a raft made of logs or driftwood, but a sleek and shiny thing.
It was, perhaps, a testament to the Çer worldview that when they contemplated these things, their overwhelming thought was not how do we know their intentions? or what might they do to us?, but how can we get a piece of that?
There was no clear ultimate answer to that question, but the first step, at least, seemed clear: though the Çerid lived on an island, they were not trapped on it. The ovareshid had vessels sturdy enough to travel the sea in defiance of the Abyssal; therefore, the courageous Çerid, despite the danger, could do the same (it being inconceivable that the Çerid were inherently inferior to anyone). Perhaps they could build vessels; perhaps they could buy them from the ovareshid; perhaps (though the thought rankled) they could even hitch rides. One way or another, it would be done. New lands beckoned.
The Age of Exploration
- 99 YU: Several years of experimenting fail to result in a ship nearly as big or impressive as those of the ovareshid, but some success is found in the development of an outrigger canoe. These are able to cross the Bay of Winds much more efficiently than a raft, but are too small to carry much cargo, and those that attempt to leave the island entirely fail to return.
- 101 YU: Several merchant ships develop a habit of stopping by the island to barter for local resources, usually in exchange for suitably shiny or useful objects. Some linguistic understanding develops, and from a reasonably friendly merchant who reads them selections from newspapers, the Çerid are introduced to the concept of diplomatic communications. Trying out the concept, they send a missive to the Queen of Caputia congratulating her on her pregnancy.
- 107 YU: Keledi of Ezintash combines the concept of raft and outrigger canoe by attaching a canoe to each side of a raftlike platform. The resulting watercraft is both surprisingly fast for its size and surprisingly difficult to capsize, and successfully completes several voyages to the mainland. In the same year, a zone for foreign diplomacy and commerce is opened at Gejlak Beach.
- 109 YU: Keledi's family, along with several nascent competitors, begin ferry services to hitherto unclaimed areas of coast on the mainland. For land-hungry young females eager to establish themselves, it proves a popular service.
- c. 110 YU: With the introduction of a wider geography to the Çerid, it becomes evident that calling their home island "the island" is no longer sufficient for official purposes. Eventually, the name Nuranselevraj, Blue-Green Island, gains currency, as a reference to its vegetation, sky, and sea, as well as to the colors of the copper ores mined on the island.
- 112 YU: One young couple reach the ruined Babkhan city of Aden, and - somewhat ambitiously - claim the entire city as their territory, naming it Ajinkeliç. Other would-be settlers take note of the name, but promptly ignore the territorial claim, which is moderated to something more reasonable shortly thereafter.
As the Çerid braved their dread of the sea to settle and expand on the shores of the mainland, conflict began brewing beyond their borders. To the north of Çeridgul, the pharaonic nation of Iteru had been falling gently into decadence and corruption, state institutions held together increasingly by the divine prestige of the Pharaoh himself, and that only barely. Its weakened state was seen by their Raspurid enemies as an opportunity, and shortly after the turn of the millennium, the latter sent armies to destroy the kingdom. As these would inevitably pass near Çer territory, the Raspurids requested permission to build bakeries in Ajinkeliç to feed their soldiers while in the region, and invited interested male bands to join the vanguard of the expedition.
While the Household of the Great Speaker hesitated, the prospect of free baked goods for the newly settled territories - which, after all, were still in the process of developing local food supplies - proved too good to pass up. So too did the invitation to join the expedition, which the Household ensured was circulated among its populace; the rowdier male bands saw an unparalleled opportunity for loot and glory, and while the Household had no power to stop them in any case, it saw the situation as an opportunity to usefully occupy an otherwise troublesome segment of the Çer population somewhere else.
Outside of Çeridgul, the timeframe of the raiders became gradually synchronized with the Norton calendar, and, combined with the time taken to trek across the desert, it was therefore not until the mid-150s that they began to arrive in the region immediately bordering Iteru, where they harried the river kingdom's patrols, looted outlying settlements, and funneled information on their findings to the Raspurids. During their journey, however, they discovered silver ores in the region north of Ajinkeliç, news of which they sent back home.
As the Iteru war continued, another wave of explorers filtered through what had become known as the Glittering Canyons, in search of water and fuel for smelting. The former proved to be available from occasional wells, while the latter was found in the form of a curious liquid found while prospecting for water. While few settlements progressed beyond the level of mining camps and turnover was high - the Canyons were far more barren and radioactive than Çeridgul proper - they remained popular with those seeking to make a quick fortune. Over the following decade, the silver extracted from the region, although lacking a certain practical value to the species, became desirable as a status symbol, and more importantly as a trade good. The population of Ajinkeliç began to balloon as the town became a trade port second only to Gejlak Beach.
This period also saw the first widespread introduction of firearms to Çeridgul. These had originally been acquired from the Raspurids by some of the more reliable bands who had been tasked with guarding downed planes, supply depots, and other objectives that the Raspurids themselves were unable to immediately reach. It did not take these bands long to recognize that the new weapons represented both a source of power in their own right and a valuable trade good, and firearms began making their way back toward Çer settlements.
This new prosperity, however, was cut short by developing hostilities on the Euran continent. Raspur and its ally Constancia, both moving against Iteru, were both members of the Raspur Pact, but the Bassarid Empire, a member of the rival USSO, had extensive interests in the continental interior due to its railway system. With the Iteran war ongoing and coinciding with an uprising in Constancia, the Bassarids had strengthened their military forces on the Duranian Plateau, leading to a furious response from the Raspurid delegate at the Micras Treaty Organization. The upheaval continued as the Constancian military moved north to establish a new stronghold adjoining their allies in Raspur and Eklesia.
While none of the conflicts, aside from the Iteran war, directly involved Çeridgul, they had an effect on the economy. Many basic goods that might have otherwise been traded to the Çerid by Constancia were instead diverted to establishing population centers and civil order in central Eura. The mainland coastal regions between Ajinkeliç and Aqabâ, for their part, remained inclined to good relations with the Raspur Pact because of this history and because of their trade links, despite the increasingly wary attitude of the Household of the Great Speaker toward the impact of foreign conflicts.
War of Ingots
This difference in opinion fed into other divisions developing within Çer society. Çeridgul's system of governance, which was extremely loose, relied on mass numbers of individuals traveling to Gultaj on a yearly basis for the Vocal Assembly. While the majority of the Çerid resided within easy travel of Gultaj, this had worked well enough; but as more of them migrated away from Blue-Green Island to the mainland peripheries, an increasingly large percentage of the population was too distant to conveniently travel to each Assembly, and found its interests consistently underrepresented there. The peripheries had been increasingly adopting the idea of coinage from the human nations, and advocated it to supplement or replace barter with a certain amount of success, but in most other matters, particularly foreign affairs, were overruled by voices on the Island who desired a distancing from the developing clash between the great alliances - or, beyond that, joining forces with the new Azad Eura alignment.
The situation came to a head in 164 YU, when the silver miners' constituency, whose economic power had been growing for years and whose stronghold lay north of Ajinkeliç, angrily repudiated the Assembly following a successful attempt by the copper miners of the Island to block the consideration of the use of silver in coinage. The following year they refused to attend at all, partnering with Ajinkeliç to set up a rival Assembly, and the year after were joined by most of the east coast of the Gulf of Aqabâ. The flow of silver to the Island, as well as other goods, was constricted, as inhabitants of the coast boycotted the Island and redirected their trade to human buyers. Angry Islanders (the "Coppers") accused their coastal brethren of betrayal and corruption by foreign influence; the coastal communities (the "Silvers"), in turn, claimed the right to exchange goods and ideas with whomever they pleased, and accused the Islanders of arrogance and tyranny; and the Speakers, despite their best efforts, were ultimately unable to prevent the conflict from escalating to the level of violence.
The first attacks began in 165, but the peak of the conflict came in late 166 into 167. What became known as the War of Ingots was not an organized conflict in the human sense; there were no generals, no armies, no orders of battle, no strategic planning. The only organization with the potential authority to produce these things, the Household of the Great Speaker, spent the war trying desperately to wage peace. Instead, it was more a period of disorganized violence, raiding, and piracy by each side upon the settlements of the other. Most of the cost was in property and the economy rather than lives. Regardless, it was notable for hosting the first Çer ship-to-ship actions, and their first battles with firearms.
The latter proved to be a decisive factor in the war's outcome. The Silvers had acquired the bulk of the firearms available to the Çerid, and they were therefore well-placed both to put early ends to the raids upon their own shores, and to raid in force on the Island. The war was effectively brought to a conclusion when Ezintash, the Island's foremost port and shipyard, suffering from the disruption to the Çer trade network, fearing Silver attack, and chafing under the demands of Copper forces for assistance, associated itself with the Silvers. A number of constituencies, particularly in the east of the Island, had economic stakes in Ezintash and the maritime trade and feared the Island becoming dependent on foreign imports rather than internal trade, and these either followed suit or proclaimed themselves neutral. The shift gave the Silvers deep inroads into the Island and handed them effective control of the waves, and Copper raiders, already severely disadvantaged due to the disparity in firepower, found themselves unable to continue to take the fight to the Silvers. With both sides tiring of the conflict, the Silvers were nonetheless in a position to declare the price of peace to be a discussion - and solution - of their concerns.
The Assembly of 168 ASC - remembered humorously as the Rather Loudly Vocal Assembly - was the first since the before the war in which both Coppers and Silvers participated. The celebrations were unusually subdued, and shortly gave way to what was, for the Çerid, the equivalent of a constitutional convention. The discussions were lengthy and heated, and ranged from the practical to the philosophical, dealing as they did with such points as the scope of government and the division of power, the method and degree of decentralization - the latter being seen as a vital step in ensuring responsiveness to local concerns. The eventual result was the Covenant of the Çerid, the first codified constitutional document in Çer history. The adoption of the Covenant inaugurated the Confederation period.
As part of the settlement, it was agreed regarding foreign affairs that, while a certain commonality of interests with Raspur and Constancia was to be expected - they remained, after all, the largest trading partners of the Çerid - no closer alignment with them, or with the other Raspur Pact members, would be pursued. However, neither would the Çerid seek to join the USSO or Azad Eura, since this both risked offending the major alliances and ran counter to Çer ambitions in the direction of Iteru.
The 170s and 180s saw Çeridgul occupied mostly with domestic matters, as the Confederation was organized and built and coinage became more commonplace. It also saw the acceleration of Çer settlement northward, despite more radioactive conditions; though the Glittering Canyons could not support much more population than had already settled there, the adjoining Khosravi Corridor - a less-arid region home to the ruins of several Babkhan cities - had thus far been neglected except as hunting grounds by nomadic males. This changed as, lured toward Iteru by its impending collapse, transiting females saw potential in the region. Game was plentiful, if somewhat mutated, and the ruins offered both easy shelter and the possibility of scrap metal, which was highly prized - particularly steel, which was otherwise only available as an import. Others continued northward and began, with the help of raiders already present, to casually displace the Iteran peasantry.
The Household of the Great Speaker found it difficult to extend its operations to the newly settled territories; while the local communities often organized themselves along the same lines as the rest of the Confederation, keeping in contact with them and connecting them with the Vocal Assembly was complicated by their low density and sheer distance. Seeking to avoid either a drifting away of the northern Çerid or a repeat of the War of Ingots, the Vocal Assembly of 187 YU made the decision to establish Çeridgul's first highway, stretching from Keledikai up the eastern coast of the Gulf to Ajinkeliç; from there, two branches would trend northward, one striking northwest through the Khosravi Corridor and one directly north through the Glittering Canyons, meeting again at the ruins of Arzudeh and terminating near the south bank of the river.
The period immediately prior to the War of Ingots had seen a curious form of contact between the Çerid and a foreign power. Beginning in 160 YU, it was discovered that the propagation of psionic waveforms across the surface of the planet made it possible, at certain locations with the appropriate conditions, for the Çer empathic faculty to pick up emotional radiation from the opposite side of Micras, and vice versa.
- 207 YU: Unification of Constancia and Raspur.
- 212 YU: Trade deal with the Octavian Import-Export Corporation.