Galachot, Theocracy of
by The Sultan
The endless rolling hills of Galachot were once home to the noble elite of a long-dead empire. Throughout Galachot, where once stood a royal manor now stands a monastery. When once the minotaur race deceived itself with notions of superiority and conquest, now they are a quiet, introspective people, concerned with the turning of the seasons and the growth of the community. The lands of Galachot are not without strife, but since the tragedy of the Drowning, the harbingers of chaos, war, famine, and disease, have not set foot in minotaur lands.
Life and Society
When compared to the rest of the world, life in Galachot moves at a slow pace. Whether you're a farmer, merchant, or descended from a noble line, nearly all Mahjoran minotaurs follow the Mahstoic Circle, the measured procession of the Circle of Life. The Mahstoic Circle (see Religion, below) dictates that all life has purpose and place, and only by searching within can one discover ones own purpose and place. Thus the minotaurs of Galachot are an introspective people, weighing the consequences of each action carefully, be it mending a sheepfold or brokering a trade.
The daily observances of the Circle might seem restrictive or superstitious to outsiders, but the Mahjoran find affirmation and solace in their customs. Even those who do not follow the Circle feel its influence, for each day is divided into phases, as prescribed by the Circle of Life. The exact timing of the phases fluctuates according to each individual, but in general they are observed according to the progression of day into night.
The morning is a time of physical labor, be it toil in the field or martial training: a time of youth, or for restoring youth to the body. Afterwards is a time of industry and commerce; for some this takes place mid-morning, for others this happens in the afternoon. The dusk and early evening hours are a time of community, of interacting with friends and family. And lastly, the dark of the evening and night is for solitude and quiet reflection. All of Galachot is guided by these phases of the day, even if all the peoples of Galachot are not followers of the Mahstoic Circle.
The prominent religion in Galachot is the Fellowship of the Mahstoic Circle. The theology of the Circle declares that life moves in a great cycle, divided into four phases: birth, coming-of-age, marriage, and death. From the passing of the seasons to the progression of a single day, all things can be divided into the phases of the Circle of Life. As a result, the Mahstoic Circle governs much of the everyday life in Galachot, and many government officials also hold prominent positions within the Fellowship. The Fellowship itself is governed by a coterie of High Prefects, the leaders of the most prominent monasteries in all of Galachot.
But the true head of the Fellowship, the founder of the order, is the minotaur known only as The Golden Bull. He does not concern himself with the minute functions of the order, such as establishing trade routes or determining the price of wool, but rather he is the font from which the philosophy of the Circle flows. All the dedicated ascetics of the Fellowship journey to the Mount of Mah-Jor, in the capital city of the same name, to receive his blessing and hear his wisdom. For over four hundred years The Golden Bull has guided the minotaurs of Galachot along the path of the Mahstoic Circle.
Throughout most of Galachot, the role of government is performed by the Fellowship of the Mahstoic Circle. Each village, town, and city is home to a monastery, presided over by a High Prefect. Often, the High Prefect acts as mayor or lord to the surrounding lands. On the rare occasion that neighboring communities dispute over land rights or trade routes, a lesser Prefect from Mah-Jor or Sur-Ng is called upon to adjudicate. All Prefects achieve their title only after years of travel, servitude, and meditation, thus corruption among the High Prefects is distinctly rare.
The one notable exception to the governance of the Fellowship in Galachot, is city of New Horn. There, the Emerald Fold Trade Company and the militant Fist of Joj vie for control of the thriving port and surrounding lands. New Horn is governed by the Council of Six, prominent members of the community elected for life by the city's merchant guilds.
The Fellowship of the Mahstoic Circle does not maintain a standing military, though each town and province can assemble a militia of physically disciplined warrior-monks in a time of need. The Golden Guard of Mah-Jor is the largest military outfit with ties to the Fellowship, but the order is dedicated to the policing of Mah-Jor itself; their influence is seldom seen away from the capital.
New Horn is home to the powerful Emerald Fold Trade Company and the Fist of Joj, both organizations with a strong military bent. An alliance exists between the Council of Six and the Fellowship regarding keeping Galachot a land controlled by, "the descendents of Tang," as outlined in the Treaty of Rexan, but in the two-hundred years since it was signed, there have been no conflicts to test the Treaty.
Magic and Mysticism
Magic in all its forms is commonly accepted throughout Galachot. The city-state of New Horn is home to the Academy of Mages, a collegiate organization devoted to arcane magic. New Horn is also the focal point of the Fist of Joj, warrior-priests who devote themselves to Rey Joj, rather than Mah-Jor. The Order of the Existent in Nur-Chot is a sect of faithful worshipers of Mah-Jor who follow the divine path to discover their role in the turning of the Circle, rather than the disciplined one. Throughout the land, mystic-monks, those ascetics who find their paths outside the rigors of the Fellowship, are common, but none-the-less abide within the great Circle.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Cup of the Moons: Along the northern coastline of Galachot is a bay called the Cup of the Moons. When the moons align and shine full on the waters of the bay, the waters turn calm and crystal clear; one can peer into the depths of the bay and make out all the minute details of the ocean floor. It is common for the followers of Mah-Jor to journey to the Cup as part of their practice in meditation and introspection. The lands surrounding the bay are sparsely populated, but watched over by wandering priests from the temple at Nur-Chot.
The Volume of the Spirit, written centuries before the Great Wave transformed the coastline and created the Cup, speaks of a place called the Moon's Chalice, calling it "The Door of the Prophet," which leads to the library where the Volumes were penned. Whether the place spoken of in the Volume and the bay along the coast of northern Galachot are the same, none can say.
Dwyndlewood: The thick, untamed forest that divides Galachot from Etlarn is regarded by the locals as a dark place, a haunted place. Travel from one side to the other is achieved only by the "Dark Road," from Mah-Jor to Pren's Glade and beyond, or by circumventing the 'wood all together, either by ship or over-land along the northern coast. Either route is fraught with danger from typical forest inhabitants, but deep within the 'wood is rumored to be a cabal of druids, bent on covering the continent in a single forest as dark as the Dwyndlewood.
Myor Fen: In the southern reaches of the Dwyndlewood, where the forest meets the Kundamarsh, lies Myor Fen. Once a grand open-air temple, the Fen is now a haven for pirates and outlaws, as well as more monstrous inhabitants. Rumors persist that the de-facto leader of Myor Fen is a medusa by the name of Sh'rlin.
Traveler's Tower: Before the Drowning, the Traveler's Inn stood in along the North Road. The Inn was a common stop when traveling to the coast from the heart of the Empire; a three story building atop a steep hill, the Inn was the only public roof for a day's travel in any direction. The Great Wave decimated the land around the inn, but remarkably the building itself was largely unharmed. Today, the building is perched atop a rocky cliff overlooking the Gashir Strait; it serves as a lighthouse for ships navigating the straight at night. The Traveler's Inn not only transformed from prominent roadside way-point to a well known sea-side tower, but in the centuries since the Drowning it has become a museum of curios and artifacts form the drowned Chôt-tang Empire.
The minotaur race prior to the Drowning was respected as the dominant political, military, and economical influence throughout Adlatum: Chôt-tang ambassadors sat as advisors to foreign monarchs, the Horned Marshals were called upon to settle border disputes, and the Emerald Fold Trade Company had a gilded presence in every major market from the western coast to their eastern port city. The immense capitol city of Rhas-lac stood as a beacon of civilization and the epitome of culture in the Empire of Chôt-tang.
But it was minotaur philosophy that exerted the greatest influence on the nations of Adlatum; Ryunus's treatise The Natural History, Tyoo's Proverbs, and Emperor Tang's The People's Will were standard reading for the educated of all races. Even among the small folk, it was as common to call upon Tyoo or recite one of his proverbs as it was to call out to Ry Joj or the other gods. The minotaur philosophers spoke of the natural order in which all life is part of an ascendant pyramid, atop which sit the mortal races. An age of relative peace and enlightenment lasted for more than five hundred years, until the great philosophers of Rhas-lac discovered the power of the Volumes of the Prophet.
When the power of the Volumes, the power to foresee and influence the future of an entire race, was uncovered by the minotaur scholars, the categorical nature of minotaur philosophy slowly began to change into a totalitarian belief that minotaurs were destined to rule; the Chôt-tang eventually saw themselves as the Stewards of Adlatum. Twelve hundred years before the drowning, the Empire found excuse to engage in bloodshed with human bureaucracy of the Midlands, ending the centuries of peace, sending the world economies into turmoil, and forever tarnishing the reputation of the Chôt-tang.
For a thousand years the Chôt-tang gradually expanded the Empire. The kunda, long under the protection of the Empire, were now held prisoner, confined to their own borders on penalty of death. A portion of the noble magocracy of Eltarn was forcibly annexed in 1011 PD. In 542 PD, the elves signed the Pactu Pinyin, an agreement of fealty and non-involvement, and many primitive Oguna were conscripted as foot-soldiers in 299 PD. By this time, the minotaurs sat alone atop their philosophical pyramid, and worship of even the exalted Rey Joj was nigh unheard of. When in 158 PD minotaur scholars discovered that multiple Volumes used in unison yielded greater effect, diplomacy and intimidation were abandoned, and the Chôt-tang declared open war on the Midlands in an attempt to seize the human Volume.
The Canon War, as it came to be called, raged for a century. The fronts expanded and shifted across most of the northern and central regions of the continent. One wide swath of land stretching across the land became the grounds of a stalemate that lasted for eleven years during the middle of the war. This disputed territory became known as the Fields of Death. On the eve of what would have been the largest battle in the history of the entire war, the Great Wave came from the southeast and flattened the battlefields and destroyed the continent.
The Drowning decimated the Chôt-tang Empire. The capital city, the endless leagues of verdant farmland, the mighty armies, all destroyed in a single day of misfortune. The only Chôt-tang to survive were portions of the western invasion force, trapped in the arid lands that soon became known as Sakkaras, and the Chôt-tang noble elite who made their homes in what was known as the Emerald Fold – the lands of rolling green hills and lush forests between the Verdant Plains and the Eltarn Sovereignty.
It was common practice then for the noble Chôt-tang to build their familial manors on a hill-top, overlooking the few homes or small village that served the aristocrats. The worst of the Great Wave hit farther west, but still enough of the ocean fell on the Emerald Fold to flood the valleys and glades in which the servants lived. By days end, the low-lands were awash with salt-water and debris, the manor homes of the noble elite overflowing with refugees.
The land became known as Galachot – the washed lands. For nearly a decade, the land once known as the Emerald Fold was merely a series of high, dry hills amidst a murky sea of treacherous mud and silt. As the land healed itself, and returned to something resembling the rolling countryside it once was, communities grew out from the surviving communes, but the old ways had washed away.
As a result of the Great Wave, the surviving minotaurs of the region adapted to a communal lifestyle. The aristocratic privilege of the old empire fell away amidst starvation and isolation. The "religion of ascendancy," as the beliefs prior to the Canon War were called, were replaced by study of the old philosophies. But in rediscovering their religious roots, the minotaur were lead by a wise sage whose hair reflected the color of the high-noon sun: The Golden Bull.
The Golden Bull claimed himself a servant of the gods and a lesser prophet of sorts. Traveling throughout Galachot, The Golden Bull taught the philosophies of old, of the Mahstoic Circle, and of Mah-Jor, she who places all things in the Circle, and guides all to find their place in the Circle. Blessed with long life by Mah-Jor, the Golden Bull still leads the minotaur faithful today, from the temple atop Mount Mah-Jor.
By the second century AD, the former noble manor homes had been fully converted to hill-top monasteries. In time, the minotaur became known as the Mahjoran. Soon, Mahjoran communities began to grow beyond the highlands; the greatest of these became Mah-Jor, the seat of The Golden Bull, heart of the Mahjoran faith, and capital of Galachot. In the intervening centuries, trade relations with Eltarn and the Midlands were re-established, Mahjoran culture experienced a renaissance of philosophical notoriety under the guidance of The Golden Bull, and the Fellowship of the Mahstoic Circle has begun to influence much of the governance of Galachot.
Mah-Jor (Metropolis 38,000): Mah-Jor, the Golden City, is the capital of Galachot and the seat of the Golden Bull, the spiritual leader of the Fellowship of the Mahstoic Circle. Situated around a steep "mountain" of the same name, Mah-Jor is a sprawling city built in two rings, called Lower City and Upper City respectively. There is no functional difference between the two portions of the great city, save their elevation and defensibility. Many minotaurs make pilgrimage to Mah-Jor as part of a spiritual journey to discover their place within the Mahstoic Circle.
New Horn (Metropolis 63,000): The independent city-state of Galachot pays lip service to Mah-Jor as its capital, but in truth New Horn is governed by their own Council of Six, but numerous factions vie for control of the city. One of those factions is Adlatum's most recognizable guild, the Emerald Fold Trade Company. (See Chapter X: Organizations.) Another is the Fist of Joj, warrior-monks dedicated to Rey Joj. Should these two factions ever ally for any reason, New Horn could boast a navy strong enough to rival any of that hosted by the Midlands nations.
Nur-Chot (Small Town 1,200): This small town is built around the temple of Nur-Chot. Built in 64 AD as a holy place, a refuge and place of worship for followers of Mah-Jor, Nur-Chot is now home to the Order of Existent, those select few who answer the call of Mah-Jor to facilitate the turning of the Circle in the mortal realm. The Order functions as an auxiliary to the Fellowship, but carries a similar structure for its priests. Many rulers and nations throughout Adlatum seek out the priests of Nur-Chot for counsel.
Persica (Large Town 2,500): The town of Persica in central Galachot is one of the few settlements in the minotaur lands that did not grow from the presence of a nearby monastery. Slavery was commonplace in the latter years of the Chôt-tang Empire. When the Great Wave struck, the old empire was washed away along with the misguided notions that encouraged societal behaviors such as slavery. The people who were once slaves in service to the Empire soon found themselves as indentured servants, freed but impoverished. The town of Persica grew as a gathering place for those souls who desired true freedom, away from the minotaur communities that had so long held them in servitude. Today, the old prejudices from slavery are seldom seen in Galachot, but the minotaur population of Persica has never quite outweighed that of the other races.
Pren's Glade (Hamlet 120): More than a few of the locals in Pren's Glade refer to it as, "The town that should never have been." Built in 56 PD, the town was meant to be a way-point for travel through the Dwyndlewood. From the beginning, the small hamlet was plagued by encounters with giant spiders, ettercaps, wyverns, and worse. When the Drowning destroyed the Empire, Pren's Glade was left largely untouched. As a result, many of the old traditions still survive in Pren's Glade.
Sur-Ng (Large City 23,000): If Mah-Jor is the spiritual heart of the Mahstoic Circle, Sur-Ng is the martial center of Galachot. In the days prior to the Drowning, the stretch of land that would become Sur-Ng was home to three closely allied clans, all with hill-top manor homes within sight of each other. As the culture slowly changed from noble-hierarchy to monastic theocracy, the clans developed different traditions, which in turn became distinct martial arts. Today, schools throughout Sur-Ng teach a multitude of variations on these three martial art styles, and Sur-Ng itself is regarded throughout Adlatum as the foremost place to learn hand-to-hand combat.