It is the home of the Alkar or the horselords. This proud race of men, shun the building of cities and the trappings of so called civilisation. They hold horses in equal esteem to man and say that they ride with rather than on their mounts. Over many centuries the Alkar have bread horses that are stronger and faster than any on the face of Karandia.
To the Alkar, places are, in general, of little importance. Where the Shift chooses to camp for the time being is important, but they will soon move. Everything is transitory on the plains except the Alkar and their horses. Still, some places have gained a certain significance worthy of note.
Alkan is a wide land of rolling plains, covered in small rivers and streams that eddy through the low lying grasslands. These Alkan steeds fetch a high price and are the Horselords principle means of barter for outsider currency and products. Yet within each Shift there are some horses that have been bread to a further extent and in these abilities and strengths have arisen that go beyond anything of which their race had previously been capable.
There are various important organisations within Alkan. The most crucial are the Seven major tribes or Shifts.
- The Shift of Gales,
- The Shift of Inferno Blades,
- The Shift of Light,
- The Shift of Running Waters,
- The Shift of Shadows,
- The Shift of Souls,
- The Shift of Stones
The Alkar do not farm. The lack of shade or shelter leaves the land open to blistering abuse at the hands of the elements. Nevertheless, it is well suited to the support of herds and the Alkar have far more land than they could ever use. So they simply move when one area has been over-grazed. They raise herds of horses, as well as milk, fur and meat animals. This is what passes for real wealth in these lands. Most Alkar herds are geepa and horses though in some areas (mainly in the south) they keep cattle.
Alkar use money, but do not mint it themselves. They will take metal coin at face value but prefer actual items they can trade. Bank drafts which are becoming more common in places like Auria and promissory notes such as Errantlunders use would be completely unacceptable to an Alkar. Having money does not denote status to the Alkar, having possessions however does. The Alkar are people of the moment and though they have a flair for the figurative they have little understanding of abstract concepts.
So a merchant who had hundreds of thousands of cellans in his bank and invested in a large shipping company, shops and estates would be considered less than a shepherd with a forty sheep herd. Yet if the Alkar could actually be brought to see all those ships, shops and people behind the merchant, they would rate him much more highly.
There is no taxation in Alkan as noted politically the Alkar are not actually a cohesive government at all. Within a Shift there are now dues paid to the Tane and he is not expected to provide anything other than leadership and judgement to his Shift. During raids and the like the Tane will often take a larger share but only in accordance with his role and leading the raid not merely because he is Tane. If he were not on or organising the raid no one would be expected to give him a cut of the spoils.
The Alkar are the only true occupants of Alkan. It is true that some elves live in the the northern part of the Oakland or Quintox forest, which is technically part of Alkan. The horselords do not go there unless in need of large amounts of wood however and hardly consider it their land. The Alkar are human, but have grown lean and hardy from their way of life and in the same breath lack the literacy and other benefits of more ‘civilised’ cultures. Each Shift has its particular traits and special mounts that are in many ways races unto themselves. Finally, the centaurs are native to and most welcome in Alkan. They do not rest in specific lands much as the Alkar to not. Trouble between the two is not frequent and is limited to raids much like the Alkar raid each other. Certainly neither group has sought to claim the other as an invader. In the northmost parts of Alkan and Firemain Pass, griffons, great rocs and hippogriffs are often seen.
The Alkar were once led by shaman in the Time before Memory, but they were guided from that by Archan the god (An aspect of the Avatar of Wild), after whom they have named the plains. Alkan means land of Archan and Alkar means people of Archan. Archan was perceived to be the lifegiver, god of sun and rain. The Alkar see the sun as his body and the rain as his tears, the rivers of Alkan as his blood.
There was never any specific worship pattern or unified church to this worship. Each tribe keeping its rituals as it saw fit with no oversight or specific goal. However over time priests of Arkan grew up in all of the tribes wielding his power and the uniform teaching against demons began, especially against chaos.He is worshiped simply and since the Gathering all his priests have become the Shift of Souls.
At the Gathering at Starsmeet, the Priests of Alkan met and founded the Shift of Souls it is said on Arkan’s direct order. This in turn led to the founding of the other great Shifts. This led to the Alkar retaining their freedom, keeping walled cities off the plains and preserving the Alkar as a people. Since then the Shift of Souls has acted as the linchpin of the greater Alkar society and is its entire priesthood. Outriders from this Shift ride out as Wandering Souls to support the Shifts around the plains. Still there is little to no uniformity in their approach save for their hatred of demons and all their works.
Since the founding of the Shift of Light things have taken a slight turn as that Shift have claim to be Archan’s Priestesses, but many consider them to worship an aspect of Light rather than Wild, which places them somewhat at odds with the other shifts. However their is no suggestion of the religious divide being a problem even with the Shift of Souls.
That is one way to show how the Alkar approach to religion is more relaxed and informal than elsewhere. It is something they are, not something they talk about or even feel the need to act on. Ceremony is minimal and even things such as birth, marriage and death rites need not be presided over by a priest.
The Alkar Shifts whilst they are considered one people, raid each other constantly and do not really come under any single head, though they can call unified councils at Horsegate if their is need. Typically these are called by the Shift of Souls. To these councils all of the Tanes of the Seven would go and together they would decide what to do.
These meeting are outspoken gatherings with little politicking or cunning manoeuvres and so are only called if there is a clear an open purpose to the Alkar working as one. Usually they involve war in one way or another.
Within each Shift there are clear rules and punishments defined. The absolute ruler of each Shift is its Tarrik or Tane. He will have hand picked counselors and lead Mistress Sorceress of his Shift as well to work with him. In the end though, he is the ultimate authority in his Shift and has the power with a word to command death, life, ownership, agreement and separation.
Beneath the Tane are his Horse Lords, (Not being used to define all Alkar but as the ruling ‘class’ of Alkar). Horse Lords typically lead family groups, own significant herds and ride the special true bred Alkar Steeds. It is the families and riders of these remarkable horses that more than any other factor make one a Horse Lord and give one the opportunity to ensure that your children become Manes (the Alkar’s version of young nobles, Horse Lords in the making).
Under these are riffs or regular Alkar who own little more than what they wear, a horse to ride (If that) and a tent to sleep in. Below them are the Sun-mad monks and rogues (Non-Alkar, living among the Alkar), who have no standing in the Shifts.
The Seven Great Shifts only ride as one, if a war of Shadowmane is called and the Desert Storm Warbanner is raised. This, all Alkar are honour bound to follow. It must be called by the Shift of Souls and is led by the Shift of Gales, traditionally.
Eqi-Tane (War Leader) Tanes or Tariks take this titled when leading in war. The one who is leader of all is called Eqi-Tane’al. Under these the title Horselord is used. The horselords describes all Alkar to the outside world but it is in reality only their leading class in each Shift. They are the war and political leaders of the Alkar.
The next are the manes the best fighters and the core of any Alkar force with their special steeds. The masses are made up of riffs or commoners and the sun-mad monks of whom thousands occupy the plains claiming the day when the Alkar leave or are driven away Chaos will destroy Karrandia.
When gathered a full Shift may rank 30,000 men and horse able to fight. These are not precise units like the empire though. These are decided by family etc.
Eqi-Tane, – leads the Shift of 30,000
He will have between 2-300 Horselords.
About 7000-9000 manes.
The rest Sun Mad monks and rogues who have joined themselves to the Alkar from elsewhere.
Each horse lord will either be given manes OR riffs to lead. Very rare to impossible to have one commanding both types. All but the sun mad monks and rogues will be mounted.
A single Horselord might lead 50-100 manes OR lead 200-2000 riffs. Usually one will be especially selected to try and direct the sun-mad monks into the right course. He is usually selected because he is considered lucky.
Some Horselords if the Chorus is present will be attached to units from the Chorus of Light. These fight even as do the rest of the Alkar, though all are women and are lead by Priestess and High Priestesses. In war though they will harken to the ‘advice’ of a Horselord. Usually the Eqi-Tane will choose his most diplomatic and/or religious sub-commander to be this Horse Lord.
The disposition of an Alkar Horselord depends heavily on his or her Shift. See the shifts for more information.
In general the Horselords are distrustful of males wielding magic as it is alien to them. They treat any disrespect to their family or horses as reason enough to kill. They have little tolerance for complainers and pampered walled-city dwellers. There are, as a whole, an honest and straight forward people. They do not strike without reason but they are raiders by nature and warriors by choice, so it takes little to cause a conflict. All the Horselords hold a great love of tradition and respect.
Time on Karandia and for simplicity on Tal is determined by the exisistence of the dominant human Empire or Auria. So years from before the Empire are annotated BE those after it or Post Empire are annotated PE. (eg ‘Jomark came to power in 10BE’ means Jomark gained his power 10 years before the founding of the Empire).
1800BE: Previous to this all of Alkan is covered by the then huge Karritan, Quintox forest.
1800-1200BE: Archan’s Blight Orc and elf wars rage the forests are cut back. The Dead Plains are created as well as the beginning of the Alkan Plains.
1200-400BE: Humans begin to populate the plains left by the elves, at first they are under elven and dwarvern protection.
600BE: First records of use of horses being used by the human plainsmen as cavalry the idea having been taken from the elves.
500BE-100PE: The human plainsmen having taken the ideas of cavalry from the elves fully adapt it and are living under the principles of a horse master society. The breading of Alkan Steeds commences. They use their increased numbers and mounted advantage to force the elves into the woods and widen the plains.
50-51 PE Aurian attacks into the plains are turned back, their settlements are destroyed by raiding Alkar horsemen. The different tribes competing for Aurian kills.
320PE: Every priest or Archan gathers in one place and in, the Disolvement, they become the first of the Great Shift, the Shift of Souls. They did this by divine command becoming demon hunters and the guide to the other Shifts soon to be formed at their behest. Led by the newly formed Shift the Alkar horselords drive the walled men ( Aurians and Torans) from the plains.
320-25PE: After their victory under the Shift of Souls, at the command of Archan, the Shifts of Stones, Running Waters, Gales and Inferno Blades are founded at Firemain Pass.
345-347 PE – Aurians under Garath the Warrior invade the Alkan plains and attempt to settle them. The Five Shifts work together under the guidance of the Shift of Souls to rebuff this . After years of fighting and many successes, the Emperor dies and the Aurians cease their efforts. No official declaration or peace talks as Alkan is not seen as a country at this time.
355PE: The Battle of Starsmeet, a with the Forces of Chaos. During the Battle the Shift of Shadows and the Shift of Light are born and rise with their unique weapons to shatter the forces of Chaos. After this battle the Seven great Shifts name themselves collectively as the Alkar and take the title ‘horselords’ as well.
678PE: Settlement War with Errantlund. Many Errantlunders attempt to move past the Eagleclaw mountains and into the plains. These settlements are heavily resisted and many of the settlers hunted and killed by the the Alkar their homes burnt to the ground. The Errantlunders rally in force mustered by outrage at the ‘unprovoked’ killings of whole families and settlements. Eventually the Errantlunder army chooses to retreat to Errantlund after there are massive losses to both sides.
1000-1200PE: During this time some sub or lesser Shifts were created now often called the Second Generation. Many of these are Shifts that live in different places in Karandia and their only contact with the main Shifts is through the Pathfinders.
1243-45PE: Attempted invasion by Auria, powerfully rebuffed by the united might of the Seven Great Shifts. Alkan’s borders are officially recognised by some and drawn onto maps in much the same places they stand today. Though the Aurians and Saracan dwellers are far more aware of them than the Alkar.
1400PE: The Fortress of Horsegate is begun in responce to increased tensions and threat of invasion. It is to stand on the very spot where the Shift of Souls held the Disolvement. The Trail between it and the sacred Firemain Pass is completed and named Farhoof.
1480PE: Horsegate is completed with walls 50 Strides high and 5 strides thick.
1520-22PE: The first invasion of the Dragon Armies, some Alkar go to fight especially the young, but the Desert Storm banner is not raised and the majority of Horselords are unaffected and never so much as see a dragonite.
1563PE: Peace has reigned among the Horselords for so long their leaders give up the title Eqi’Tane or War Leader for simply Tane/ Tarrik which means only Leader.
1599PE: War of Walled Treachery, The Tarrik of the Shift of Gales is killed whilst within the walls of an Imperial border city. Haji his successor calls ‘Shadowmane’ (all out war by the Alkar nation).
1600PE: The new Eqi’Tane of The Shift of Gales, Haji, rides to the city backed by the Seven Shifts and flying the united Desert Storm Banner. The vizier Tazar (the murderer of the origional Tarrik) calls down a Chaos demon and battle commences. Led by Haji and the Shift of Light the Alkar defeat the demon and break the walls of the city leaveling it and leaving its people no choice but to run homeless back into the Empire. The Aurians officially recognise Alkan as a country at this point.
1646PE : Skirmishes fought with Errantlund over the Ancestral axe blade Cavernous Might. The Shift of Stones argue it should not have been taken the Errantlunder Knights that it was a fair trophy taken as spoils from a fair challenge. Only three Shifts (Stones, Inferno Blades and Running Waters) ride to war, but they failed to break through Eagle’s Gate. A great battle was fought there. It was captured in a painting and tapestry by the reknowned Errantlunder artist and bard Wiley Phelps.
1780-90PE: The Horselords raid and engage in skirmishes with the people of Torra City, the last walled city, within their lands. Eventually, after several years of this the Torra City people realised Torash itself was too far and so they appeal directly to Auria for help. During the Darkness of Magic the Prince of Torra City Tathallan with his allies, including Leonadar Halkithantarius, managed to ensure Torra City’s independence and safety. Tathallan was crowned King by the end of the decade.
1824PE: The son of King Tathallan plots with a Horselord warmonger to remove his father. They do so, but he is also betrayed and Torra City is destroyed. Its people were forced to live a guerilla lifestyle for the next several decades. Until they were taken in by the elves of Tathallan’s Retreat.
1898-1900PE: The Second Dragon Army invasion. The Alkar were almost tricked into a self destructive civil war, but thanks to the Stars of Destiny they wre able to see through this and were eventually convinced to directly involve themselves in the war. They raise the Desert Storm Banner and help drive the Dragonites back into the sea.
1924: The rise of The Avenger.
Return to Karandia.