Medieval America Mark III



The Delta Borough
  • System of Government: Vassal Chiefdom
  • Religion: Laskan Orthodoxy
  • Population: 30,000
  • Totemic Symbol: The Plough, or Big Dipper
Fairbanks lay at the very edge of civilization, and perhaps a little past that. It is a rough town of squat log cabins and a few stone buildings, prime among these being the University of Laska and the city's small castle, a fortress for Eskimo raids and particularly nasty winters. It is surrounded by a rough wall of cobble stones and logs.

The Chief of the Delta is a Laskan vassal, selected by descent and the ancient customs of the land. He pays tribute to the President in Ankrage. This tribute comes largely from native trade. Fairbanks is one of the only settlements of any significance beyond the Laska Mountains. Beyond it is endless wilderness until you reach the the Arctic Sea. Scattered throughout are bands of Eskimos (the majority of whom are not Inuit) who make their living hunting reindeer, fishing and gathering. Despite their primitive lifestyle, they have access to the valuable goods of northern Laska - ivory, pelts, iron, gold. Goods trade hands from one tribe to another until eventually they reach Fairbanks. From here, they will be sent either through Tok or through Cantwell to Great Ankrage.

In return for these treasures, the people of Fairbanks have something even more precious - food. It is said that the sage wizards of the University of Fairbanks were the first to devise the arcane rituals needed for farming to work in a land where by all rights it shouldn't, but for the grace of Gods. Stories of these wizards - their encounters with different chiefs of renown and infamy, their conversion to Orthodoxy, the strange and often humurous rituals they engaged in to make agriculture work. Most stories have the wizards (now Orthodox priests) returning beyond the Laskan Mountains, to Eskimoland and to be immortalized in the Lands of Aurora.

Of course in reality, the priests remained very much in contact with the rest of Laska. Fairbanks became the Church's launching ground for missions amongst the Eskimo, and students sent to the seminary of Fairbanks would return with their arcane knowledge of agriculture. Most inhabitants are engaged in feverish agriculture, taking advantage of the short but strong growing season. Every farmable inch of the Tananna and Delta Valleys is planted, megaliths and earthworks erected, layers of coal dust spread, while in the uplands herds of caribou, goats, and the Yakows for which Fairbanks specifically and Laska so generally are famous for.

The Delta goes back and forth in its state of vassalage to Ankrage, paying more or less as the strength of Laska and the strength of potential Eskimo raiders. Most recently, President Homer Hardheart brought a large force to Great Delta just to remind Fairbanks who's boss.
 
Laska's close relationship with the Eskimos is interesting, during more peaceful periods they're plugged into a web of trade that could bring them treasures from across all of Old Canada. They could know quite a bit about the world, even though they're at the edge of it.

Also, I recommend this TL for anyone writing about Laskan/Canadian life, as a source of inspiration/stepping stone for research on farming, reindeer pastoralism, and other conditions of life
 
In absence of any other canon on the subject, I think I want that Natchez-Baton Rouge state on the East Map to be Voodoo, or a Voodoo confederation (w/ significant Non-Denom or heretic communities) that is forbidden from uniting with New Orleans by Mississippi and Texarkana, who also can't agree on which one of them should be the one to Crusade that state (which after all controls the last leg of the Mississippi before New Orleans). I'm basing this on the way Granada survived for over a century between Spain and Morocco on a prime patch of Med coastline right next to the Pillars of Hercules.
@tehskyman also wrote about Natchez Vodunists defending against a Crusader siege with elephants so there's that
 
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In absence of any other canon on the subject, I think I want that Natchez-Baton Rouge state on the East Map to be Voodoo, or a Voodoo confederation (w/ significant Non-Denom or heretic communities) that is forbidden from uniting with New Orleans by Mississippi and Texarkana, who also can't agree on which one of them should be the one to Crusade that state (which after all controls the last leg of the Mississippi before New Orleans). I'm basing this on the way Granada survived for over a century between Spain and Morocco on a prime patch of Med coastline right next to the Pillars of Hercules.
@tehskyman also wrote about Natchez Vodunists defending against a Crusader siege with elephants so there's that
That's an interesting idea. My own headcanon was that Natchez-Baton Rouge has a Voodoo population ruled over by Catholics who conquered it after several Crusades against Louisiana.
 
In absence of any other canon on the subject, I think I want that Natchez-Baton Rouge state on the East Map to be Voodoo, or a Voodoo confederation (w/ significant Non-Denom or heretic communities) that is forbidden from uniting with New Orleans by Mississippi and Texarkana, who also can't agree on which one of them should be the one to Crusade that state (which after all controls the last leg of the Mississippi before New Orleans). I'm basing this on the way Granada survived for over a century between Spain and Morocco on a prime patch of Med coastline right next to the Pillars of Hercules.
@tehskyman also wrote about Natchez Vodunists defending against a Crusader siege with elephants so there's that
I like to think that Natchez is Santanoo's Pakistan. He conquered it and his troops wanted to go home afterwards.
 
On the Kanadi Prarie



Following the Regression, harsh winters and fierce storms became commonplace throughout the Canadian plains as the cruel land caused civilized men to regress into savagery. For the next couple of centuries, Kanadi’s history would be defined by this savagery as the Great Blood Nation began its vicious conquest of the prairie, only to fall prey to the sin-eaters of Absaroka. But soon, Kanadi would become more than just a battleground for Injun tribes as hordesmen from the Black Hills of Dakotah descended upon the prairie in their bloody wars of domination. Very soon, the Kanadi would learn of the Old Testament, the sacred cliffs of Rushmore, and the Messiah with No Name, who will come to burn the eastern heretics in a storm of fire and brimstone.

But while the New Israelite Conquest was a resounding success, the cold north would continue to cling to the traditions of their ancient past. During the winters, one can find the Kanadi clans huddling up in their decrepit malls where shamans will tell the story of how Paul Bunyan, King of the Giants defeated the Mountie hordes on the banks of Lake Winnipeg. Other times, they would boast of how the Messiah rescued his beloved Laura Secord from the jaws of the Opo-Pogo. But above all, they whisper the legend of the Wendigo, the horned beast who lurks in that frozen northern hell. It is believed that every winter, when the Great Spirit’s presence begins to fade, the Wendigo travels south to prey on the flesh of man, carrying the long dark with him.



However, the wise shamans have kept the man-eater at bay by performing the sacred Thirst Dance to appease Archangel Nanabozho, the Eternal King of Jerusalem. As of now, the greatest family of the Canadian plains are the Verigin Clan, who emerged out of the Crowsnest Pass around two centuries ago. The origins of this tribe begin when the Sifton Clan forced the Macleods to flee to savage Colombia during the War of Wild Rose. During the Macleods’ brief reign over the western badlands, it was discovered that the lands were largely inhabited by Doukhobors, praying away the coming frost in their molennas. Following the regression, the Doukhobors, originally a dying sect of religious dissidents from Eastern Europe, managed to expand across Columbia thanks to several outside factors.

The Laskan raider-kings who scourged the Salish Sea were always willing to trade with the Doukhobors, viewing them as fellow descendants from the mythical promised land of Rossa. Meanwhile, the Cascadians often viewed them as “civilized Christians” who shared several Buddhist wisdoms such as revering an ascetic life, a peaceful nature, and a vegetarian diet. However, this would all change when those cowboys arrived from the prairie, bringing their grand herds and barbaric gospel. Following the War of Wild Rose, thousands of Doubukors eagerly joined the Macleod horde, as Cowboy warriors introduced horse-archery and cattle-ranching all across Colombia. The once-meek Doukhobors quickly followed their new liege into battle, as Irvine Macleod began his conquest of Snake River before the eruption of Mount Rainier put a halt to his campaign.



Arguing that the Chief Irvine’s actions had upset the Great Spirit, David of Clan Malakoff convinced his fellow vassals that the Macleods could not sit upon the throne of Judah, successfully launching a mutiny against the old Dynasty. After seizing power, David Malakoff would not only proclaim himself High Chief of the Columbian Israelites, but also a descendant of Peter Verigin, the legendary forefather of the Doukhobor Tribe. But while Clan Malakoff (now Verigin) had quickly achieved mastery over the plateau, infighting between the Cowboys had allowed Cascadian and Desereti colonizers to put rebellious Columbia to the heel. Meanwhile, on the other side of Rockies, the Sifton Horde had begun to die down as the constant cycle of genocidal conquest had left their armies stretched thin.

Stampeders exiled from the northern prairie fled to the Holy Black Hills and used their position to decry the Siftons as heretic usurpers. Ultimately, their end would come when David Verigin claimed marched through the Rockies to conquer Calgary in a swift and violent campaign. Following the loss of their capital, it was not long before the lands of Chief Alan Sifton was usurped by the Ghost Dancers of Dakotah and those invaders from the western marches. As of now, Clan Verigin has assumed its place in the pantheon of great northern tribes, alongside the Rosebuds, the Sioux, and the Pallisters. While the Verigins have long converted to the Gospel of New Israel, remnants of their foreign past still remain.

The cowboys under Clan Verigin claim that they are truly God’s chosen people, combining the oral history of their exile from Tsarist Russia with the legend of the Ten Lost Tribes. Similar to the monk-warriors of distant Cascadia, many shamans live a chaste and austere lifestyle of wandering the prairie. With a pipe of tobacco in hand, these wandering druids pray for good harvest to the Great Spirit in the sacred tongue of Israel (which in truth is a heavily corrupted form of Russian). Meanwhile, several other unique Dukhobor traditions, such as the Nude Fire Dancers are met with bemusement by some travelers and disgust by others. These traditions are especially unpopular amongst the Mormon cowboys, who mostly view them as crypto-Buddhists. However, the Kanadi remain fervent in their belief of the coming Messiah and how he will slay the Wendigo and the heretics with a spear of light, ending the cruel frosts that plague their lands once and for all.

 
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In the Duwamish there is a small island close to the west bank, where the spider lilies bloom. In Seattle’s city bounds, fighting is only permitted in sport or defense; but even in an abode of Amadi there comes a time where two parties ask not for a fight, but demand war. Seattle preferred peace, and harmony with nature, but nature is savage and so are the men made demonic by hate. For the clashing of demons, Shura-ba Island was set aside, and the graveyard on its eastern tip has grown ever since.

***

Ken Saltchuck, the Ninth Manager of Daiso Fist, had the honor of setting foot on the Island first. During his induction into the upper ranks of the society, he stopped a rival applicant’s heart with a two-finger jab, demonstrating for the first time a frightening skill with that quantity known to some as the Force, and to others as Ki. But a society is only as strong as its weakest link, and the honor of a society is a delicate thing. Lately a middle-aged stranger had taken to provoking young Daiso Fist practitioners in taverns and temples alike, and his repeated “self-defense” threatened to destroy the reputation of the style, a reputation built up through careful tailoring of messages to particular audiences (promising to treat the merchants’ sons with kid-gloves, or to give the soldiers’ sons a proper education) and the projection of a general air of invincibility even in a scrap with the Jedi. Ken was persuaded to deal with this himself, and though it was a dishonor in itself to be so concerned about a single unaffiliated stranger’s challenge, to deal with this problem personally was a manly thing. And if there was a way to conceptualize an act within the relations of honor and penance, it would be done. On the back of Ken’s uniform, patterned on the black tracksuits of the Ancients, were the totemic words embroidered in red: SHIFT STARTS WHEN YOU CLOCK IN, SHIFT ENDS WHEN THE JOB’S DONE.

The stranger arrived second, ferried across the river by kayak. Behind him, a crowd of two hundred spread out along the banks, finding comfortable stumps and patches of grass to sit and watch the show. Twice as many had come to see the match between Ken and the… dearly departed former head of the Nijiya-Do; but that was a match between affiliates. This, however, was an execution of a promising talent, who might have been a great man if only he’d been a bit more respectful. The stranger introduced himself to the city guard as “Reese”, but as far as Ken was concerned the only man who needed to know that name was the gravestone-carver.

Reese’s loose and simple flax tunic flapped slightly in the wind; he cracked his neck, and echoes of the sound stirred the birds out of the nearby trees. The two men circled among the spider-lilies, waiting for the call from across the river to begin the match. After ten tense seconds, a sharp whistle rang out from the banks, and Ken lunged first.

The game-ending blow was delivered… and missed, as Reese darted back. He leaned forward again, and blood dripped from the tip of his nose. It had been sanded flat, as if put against a lathe. Ken exhaled slowly, and his forearm smoked gently from the exertion.

Reese caught the next punch in his own palm. A third of the crowd had run off to grab their friends; those who remained drowned out the rushing river with their wild whoops and cheers. The unfolding match was like the story of the Park-Ranger and the Bear, but who was the Ranger and who was the Bear changed with each passing moment, as each fighter turned from poised hunter to whirling storm of sinews and back again. The drums of war sounded in Ken’s ears, but still he devoted whatever thought he could spare to figuring out his enemy’s style. Here was the grappling of Tacoma; there, the weightless leaping of Victoria; again, the bone-conditioning of Bella Coola; and amid it all, something that seemed to be Reese’s own, a sort of drunken stumble, an excessive movement which drew in and confused the eyes, redirected at the strangest moments into perfect stability or overwhelming force. A neat trick, turned into something useful by speed and good judgement. There was something familiar about it, something unnerving, but for all that Ken gave as good as he got. Surely Shura-ba Island had been named in expectation of a fight like this, surely it had risen from the Duwamish for just this moment. But as the fire rose, the humor burned away. Both were growing exhausted, but each was the other’s jailer.

Reese was the first to lose his cool. Sucking in his breath, he thrust his arms out to either side, and inflated to over twice his size. As Ken put his arms out to grapple with this apparent monstrosity, Reese— who had merely appeared to grow larger— slipped between Ken’s arms and slammed his forehead into Ken’s jaw. Ken retreated to a safe distance, cradling his head, but to keep him dazed Reese yelled out. “You like that? Learned it from a peasant out in the Yukon, and he learned it from the moose. I thought I’d let you know— after all, it was you who paid for my training!”

The first words spoken, and the last link in Ken’s chain of thought. How had he failed to recognize such an enemy, even after twenty years’ absence? “No, it can’t be… Lu Pasiuk? What would you want with me? It was the City which exiled you for breaking the Jianghu Code!”

The man formerly known as Reese barked out a laugh. “All I did was make a wholesaler’s son run a few extra laps. But then you and the Eighth Manager went and tweezed the judges’ ears a bit, and just like that I was on a boat to nowhere.”

Ken wiped away at the sweat on his brow. “So, what now? You’re going to start the society you dreamed of? You’ve only got five more years of fighting left in you, and then you’ll be an invalid with his head stuck in another age.”

“I’ll do more in two years than you did in twenty, and you knew it even back then, Saltchuck. Let’s call it like it is. You pushed away a problem you couldn’t solve, and now that problem is ten times harder, and a hundred times more ready to kick your shit in. I’m going to tear down everything you built and everything your mentor left you.”

A step too far. “You half-Mormon dog!” Lu raised his arms but Ken batted them aside. “Just who,” and with this he drove both of his thumbs into Lu’s upper chest, right between his collarbones, “do you think you are?” Lu was blown back a distance wholly disproportionate to the force of Ken’s prodding, but as he rose back to his feet his knees buckled and he coughed up a gob of blood.

Ken stood over his dying enemy. “You should have read up on me. I’ve attacked your Ki itself, Lu. I’ve reversed the direction of your blood flow, and it will destroy your body from within. You should have just curled up and died in the northern wastes, but instead you’ll cough up your life here.”

The unnatural flow tore through Lu’s veins, robbing him of his breath. His head pounded until he could hear nothing else. His nose filled up, his mouth was dry, his stomach churned. Every part of him screamed out for relief or else for a quick end, every part but a hard core deep within, built up over his odyssey along the islands and inlets. Nearly dying in on some guano-crusted rock, being rescued by Haida fishermen, waking up among the scholars in Joono, recovering his good sense and resolve, meeting people as he had never seen living lives as he had never imagined; the memories spooled out like a rope, and he held tight. His heart worked determinedly to still the flow of blood, though it would surely kill him if he took too long. With the last of his life he struggled, moment by moment, to the future beyond.

Ken’s greatest skill was undone before his eyes. “What? No, that’s impossible! How could any person have this much vitality?” Ken wanted to move, wanted to swim back across the Duwamish, but terror clenched his feet and set his hands shaking.

Lu was breathing so hard he could barely speak, but speak he did. “You idiot… You might as well have tried to turn back the sea!

He closed the distance in a kind of unconscious tumble, but as his eyes shot open he swung his leg, and it connected with Ken’s side like an axe splitting a tree. The last Manager of Daiso Fist screamed as his spine twisted and splintered, and two massive gashes tore open in his twisting torso, spraying hot giblets across the Duwamish and onto the unfortunate crowd. The spider-lilies accepted this offering more quietly, their rustling like quiet laughter amid the yelps of surprise and disgust from the opposite bank.

Ferried back across the river, Lu Pasiuk announced the founding of the All-Under-Heaven Society, founded on the principles of constant experimentation, openness, and equal treatment. Those who had not already left to clean their clothes became its founding generation.

— From “Duel in the First Turn of Nirvana,” a short story distributed by All-Under-Heaven practitioners to attract new members.
 
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