Feb 22, 2012

Eopolitics: The Hill People

The Hill People's existence is dominated by their former glory as the Children of Night, the preeminent nation and people of the Dawnlands until the belligerent Kaddish engaged in a war of domination that culminated in genocide and the collapse of their civilisation. Even three hundred years after the destruction of the last City of Night, and at least a thousand years since the cities themselves were a single polity, the Hill People still dream of reunifying and conquering the Dawnlands. This dream is stifled by their ongoing destruction at the hands of the Kadiz nomads.

The Hill People are broken into about a hundred tribes scattered across the Plains of Kadiz. The tribes are divided by religion, former city affiliation, and politically, but a great revival of their power has begun in the form of two figures.

The first is Finder-of-Eyes, the great gnollish prophet of the southern desert. The gnolls have always had a tendency towards religiosity within the Hill People, their pack mentality readily ascending to the concept of union and harmony with the divine. Since the fall of the Cities of Night, this has led to religious fragmentation and innovation, as many gnolls turned away from the gods they saw as failing them and began to worship more responsive deities. Finder-of-Eyes has used that pack mentality and religiosity to assemble a mighty army of gnollish tribes who are dispersed across the southern plains. He preaches on behalf of the Silver Oracles of Djala, a cluster of protean devils who inhabit the sunken ruins of that city, prophesying that the time of reunion is at hand.

The second is Jarek the Snake, the most powerful of the pretenders, who is based in the north-western plains. Jarek the Snake claims to be the rightful Dusk King, a title not heard of in a thousand years, when the Cities of Night were unified under the rulership of the kings of Balwan. Such a title is mostly symbolic, but it would bring many of the lesser clans currently resisting him under his rule. In order to fully claim it, he must assemble a powerful artifact known as a "glass grove", composed of twelve massive pillars of imperishable green glass. The pillars will allow him to conduct the coronation and acclamation ceremony a true Dusk King requires. To obtain them, he has sent agents to the ruins of the Cities of Night, which has brought him four of the pillars so far. Once he is crowned, he intends to wipe out the Kaddish, and his people sit on the border of their hinterland, launching probing raids.

Finder-of-Eyes and Jarek the Snake have become even more problematic lately since they appear to have recently concluded an alliance. Many Hill People villages have been reinforced with warbands of desert gnolls, surprising Kadiz raiders looking for easy targets. Altars to the old and new gods of the Hill People have been raised, and the hearts of hundreds of Kaddish peasants burn in the pyres atop them. Jarek and Finder have also begun instituting unheard of reforms. Hill People have been seen riding horses, capturing Kaddish sorcerers to study their art, and trading enslaved Kadiz and Kaddish to the Dwer in exchange for fine metal weapons and army. It is only a matter of time before they feel they are strong enough and strike forth to murder every man between the coast and the desert.

Of the independent tribes not under Jarek's sway, the most powerful are the various warlords serving as mercenaries. Dwer Tor has engaged the Night Owl clan to protect their colonies along the Little Road. The Night Owls are cultists of the Leper Star, and have raised their own dead to handle most of the fighting, neither of which the optimates who hired them knew. Now the Dwer are stuck with barbarous lepers encamped around several key colonies, backed by an army of their undead relatives. Tensions have been on the increase, especially as slaves have begun to be afflicted by the disease.

The Crying Eagle clan under Silen the Eagle has been engaged by Zavak-Who-Crushes in the former kingdom of Weykuln to fight off the Orthocracy's military expedition led by Prime Haek. Zavak-Who-Crushes is the lord of the Gutuk Bastion, one of the westernmost bastions, and one that was bypassed by Haek on his drive to the Maruk Bastion. He pays them in kobold slaves (which they eat) and loot, and they raid Haek's supply train. Zavak-Who-Crushes has also sent them to locate Moon Peak, for if he can capture the gold mine from the Dwer, he hopes to drag them into the war as his allies in exchange for its eventual return.

Finally, the Lich-King of Dlak, who still reigns over the burning dead of his long-destroyed city, has become active again. Long ago, a powerful devil was bound under Dlak, where it has remained since. The stars have come right, and the Lich-King seeks to release it to devastate the Dawnlands and kill as many people as possible. Driven insane by the death of his people, he doesn't care who is hurt or killed, merely about lashing out at those who have the gall to outlive him. His power has attracted several gnollish tribes while his cunning has led them to believe they will be spared the holocaust if they assist him. In truth, he doesn't care about them, except insofar as they can kidnap enough sacrifices to power the unbinding rituals.