Where the River Flows: The Story of Misia: A Native American Superpower

Chapter 1: The Great Kingdom
  • Thousands of years ago, civilization began to emerge on the Mississippian alluvial plain. Over time, the main center of civilization would shift north roughly to modern day Illinois and Missouri. During this time, the Midewin religion, originating from the northeast, would spread into Misia and throughout much of Eastern North America. From this region, known as the Inoka plain, the Hileni would conquer all of their neighbors and establish the Hileni Dynasty, the first imperial dynasty of Mihsiwahk ("The Big/Great Land/Kingdom), known as Misia in English. While sometimes people do travel by elk-pulled cart, the primary mode of transport is rivers. The Misians as a result become the world's greatest canal-builders, building canals connecting the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes and the Mobile River system. Due to their emphasis on water transport, they spread seafaring around the South Misian Sea (Gulf of Mexico) and the Caribbean, leading civilizations in this area to become more advanced. More civilizations also develop along the eastern seaboard and to the west in the American Southwest and Pacific Coast, although these are less well connected. Although regimes change and division occurs, Misia tends to remained united both culturally and politically throughout much of history thanks to the Mississippi River. In 1492, Misia is ruled by Emperor Manawesquah of the Kilsu Dynasty from the capital in Cahoqua/Kahoquah (OTL site of the Cahokia Mounds across the Mississippi River from St. Louis).

    Meanwhile, Columbus arrives in the Caribbean. He is convinced he is in the East Indies, and after hearing about Misia and Mesoamerica, is convinced that these nearby regions are descriptions of China and India. King Guanacari, King of Ayiti (Hispaniola) who rules from the city of Dujozemi (Cap-Haitien), allows Columbus to establish a small settlement right by the capital for trading purposes. After Columbus returns on his second voyage, tensions mostly caused by the desire to convert the native Tainos to Christianity boils over into fighting. After Guanacari offers peace, Columbus betrays him and has him executed. Columbus and his small group of men are able to easily control the city, whose native population is being ravaged by plague. The minor caciques who were previously subject to Dujozemi's rule begin fighting to kick the Spanish out, although Columbus, seeking after their gold and spices, slaughters and enslaves countless people. Columbus is killed in 1501 by a group of Taino rebels, although by that point all kingdoms had been defeated and the fighting mostly came down to a few rebel groups.

    Disease quickly spreads throughout the continents. In the summer of 1494, plague brought over by the Spanish in Caribbean reaches Cahoqua. Among the dead are many members of the imperial family, including the emperor himself. His 19-year-old son, Mamantwensah, is crowned emperor. A power struggle breaks out as the rogue general Mikaquah, fighting the Ojibwe tribes in the north, decides to build up a larger force to attack Cahoqua and start his own dynasty. Despite the unpopularity of the Kilsu dynasty due to the plague, Mamantwensah promises to redistribute the land of the dead nobility to his loyal peasant followers and amasses a force that easily outnumbers that of Mikaquah, allowing him to retain power and prevent any other challengers to the throne. He then precedes with his land distribution program, resulting in the formation of a massive class of land-owning peasants.

    In the north, John Cabot arrives in 1496 on the island of Takamkuk (Newfoundland), referred to the English as Takamcook, where he establishes the small town of St. John's. The local Beothuk people, with whom he enjoys positive relations, tell him that if he goes west and follows the Wepistook River (St. Lawrence River), he will be able to make it to the Great Kingdom of Misia, which Cabot also believes to be China. In his journeys, he meets the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). While the river to Lake Eriron (Erie) is not navigable due to Niagara Falls, the Iroquois say he will be able to pass through their land if he brings them more guns and horses. He does so on his second voyage, and the English are able to settle by the port of Cheektowaga (Buffalo, NY). He then goes inland to the Misian port of Sandusti (Sandusky, OH), where he first makes contact with the Misians. Pleased with his haul, which includes, silk, yaupon tea, honey, spices, local whines, and maple syrup, he returns to England. He also leaves behind another wave of diseases, which also cause significant harm. Between 1494 and 1500, Misia's population had fallen from 60 million to 16 million.

    After word arrives of the English in Sandusti, Emperor Mamantwensah summons Guama to his court, a Taino merchant from Dujozemi who lost most of his family during the conquest of his home and fled with his daughter to Shawasha (New Orleans) before making his way to Cahoqua. He warns about the Spanish, who he describes as pale men from across the Eastern Ocean who ride giant antler-less deer and carry sticks that produce smoke and fire, which he realizes matches the description of the men who visited Sandusti. On his third voyage in 1498, Cabot brings more men to Takamcook with some being sent to the Haudenosaunee lands while he sets out to explore the east coast. That summer, the Haudenosaunee and their English allies work together to conquer the lands of the Wyandot with their advanced weaponry, which they accomplish in a month's time. With the new men and the goods the recent expedition from England brought as well as a passport sent from England, William Brampton, an Englishman settled in Cheektowaga, leads an expedition to explore Misia. He and his men travel to Shicaqua (Chicago), but are prevented by a bureaucrat working for the Sipikapia (river keeper) from passing through the canal to the river. The Sipikapia arrives with orders from the emperor that any "pale-faced" foreigners from across the Ocean must be disarmed and escorted under careful watch to Cahoqua. After two days following the Inokaspi River (Illinois River), they arrive in the capital city, where they meet the emperor. The emperor questions them, and he brings out Guama, dressed in the uniform of a Taino warrior, shouting Spanish phrases that he had heard from the conquistadors on his home island to try to intimidate them. Guama eventually realizes that these men were not the same ones who destroyed his home, and breaks down emotionally.

    While Brampton is meeting with the Misians, Cabot journeys down the east coast, meeting a number of people in the port cities of the various societies along the eastern seaboard. He travels with Nutaq, a Beothuk from Takamcook, and is joined by Atemus, a Lenape merchant. In the land of the Calusa (Southern Florida), he stops at the city of Tekesta (Miami), a multicultural city home to Calusa, Tainos, Misians, and other peoples from all over the eastern seaboard. In Tekesta, he meets two Taino men, one of whom is shaken with trauma and initially mistakes Cabot fo a Spaniard. After hearing about what happened to the Taino, Cabot confronts Columbus and condemns his operation.

    The Taino establish a large diaspora in a variety of coastal cities primarily in Misia and Mesoamerica. In the 1510s, a series of wars take place along the eastern seaboard as the many small states use their guns and horses to compete for control of the trade. The war ends with three survivors. The Haudenosaunee conquer many of the best ports from OTL Massachusetts to Delmarva. The Wabanaki control all of the territory northeast of the Haudenosaunee bound by the Wepistook to the north and the Atlantic to the east. Tsenacommacah is to the south, bound by the Chesapeake to the east and the Appalachians to the west. Meanwhile, the Spanish continue to expand throughout the Caribbean, colonizing much of Central America and beginning to move into OTL Venezuela. The Spanish also colonize the Pikate peninsula (Florida), converting the Calusa to Christianity and preserving the local nobility as their vassals.

    After some border conflict between the Spanish and the Misians on the mainland, Hernan Cortes convinces Charles V to help him gather men for a crusade-like invasion of Misia. The invasion occurs in 1522, with brutal attacks on Mabila (Mobile, Alabama) and Shawasha. After a number of Spanish raids, the Misians use their vastly superior manpower and obliterate the Spanish invasion at Nicota (Wickliffe, KY).

    Following their crushing defeat, the Spanish decide to try to make new allies in the Americas. In 1524, Francisco Pizarro landed in Zempoala, leading the Spanish to forge an alliance with the Meshica (Aztec) Empire. Supplying them with horses and weapons, the Meshica conquer all of their nearby rivals and invade the Mayans, successfully uniting all of Mesoamerica under one banner. Christianity also slowly begins to spread in Mesoamerica, causing Meshica to brutally crack down on the foreign religion while the Spanish look the other way for economic and geopolitical purposes. Dominating the spice trade, the Meshica capital of Tenochtitlan is able to become one of the richest cities in the world.

    To the north in Oasisamerica, various tribes live scattered across the desert around rivers and oasis, farming irrigated land and herding bighorn sheep. The people known by the Misian exonym "Ashipes" (the Puebloans) live in a variety of competing tribes and smaller states, while the Kutsan to the west have established what can only be described as an American Egypt around the lower Haquat (Colorado) River. The Hopi people, who tend to do their best to stay above the violence of the other Ashipes, gain a reputation as respected peacemakers and thrive off of the trade able to peacefully pass through their land, and their religion, Maasawism, spreads across the OTL southwest and through the West Coast. However, due to the harsh arid and mountainous terrain, building a large unified empire is difficult. Following the Great Plague, political turmoil ensues. Starting in the 1530s, Ahiga the Great leads the Dinei (Navajo) and his Indei (Apache) allies in uniting Oasisamerica under his empire, using the horse. To the west, the wars resulting from the turmoil caused by the Great Plague resulted in the Ohlone, Yokuts, and Miwoks uniting as the single kingdom of Dadacia with its capital in Socoisuka (San Jose) ruled by Ohlone King Daraten and Miwok Queen Tukuli.

    To the south, the French begin to arrive in the New World, establishing Port Francois (Barranquilla) and forming relations with the Muisca. The Muisca are shortly after conquered by the Spanish-aligned Incas, although the French are able to maintain their sphere of influence and trade activities in the region.

    In North America, the French begin to establish a presence in the Misian ports of Yamacraw (Savannah, GA) and Kiawah (Charleston, SC). This is to the objection of the English, but the Misians demand that the English not disrupt their trade. In Haudenosaunia, the construction (utilizing slave labor) of a canal linking the Great Lakes to the port of Manhattan causes the Lenape city to grow increasingly important. As the Spanish Inquisition arrives in the Caribbean, a number of secret Jews flee to the mainland, as well as a number of other Sephardic exiles from Europe. The Sephardic Jews of North America come to be known as the Maaravim (Westerners), and form two major communities– the Shavashim based around Shawasha and the Monsayim based around Manhattan. A number of Jews and Tainos also become pirates, harassing the Spanish on the Southern Seas, and are joined by a number of Misians, Englishmen, and freed slaves. Several notable pirates include the fearsome Taino Captain Guarocuya Paharona, or "Captain Enriquillo", who popularized the Black Huracan flag, and the Jewish Captain Daniel Leon, who established the famous pirate hideaway of Nueva Masada. A number of prairie tribes would begin using the horse to attack settled peoples, leading the Misians and Meshica to divide the lands of the Karankawa along the coast of OTL Texas.

    The Anglo-Spanish War begins in 1585, with England, France, the Netherlands, and Misia on one side with the Iberian Union and the Meshica on the other. The pirates band together to attack the Spanish, who then responds by destroying Nueva Masada, killing Paharona and Leon. Misia fights both on land and at sea with the Spanish and the Meshica. Francis Drake also attacks Iberian holdings in South America, seizing Buenos Aires and southern Portuguese Brazil With the signing of the Treaty of London in 1593, the Netherlands is united (including the entirety of the Spanish Netherlands), Henry IV remains the Huguenot King of France, England annexes the seized territory in South America, Misia annexes the Pikate peninsula, and the Meshica annex Misian Karankawa. Spain also agrees to allow a small community of 1000 Tainos to live in Duhozemi, forming a small community known as "the Aragua" in exchange for recognition and trade with the Misians. The opening of relations with the Spanish anger many Tainos who begin to riot, causing them to face increased persecution in Misia, leading some of them to flee elsewhere, with as substantial amount ironically going into Spanish lands, although Misia still remains the largest center of the Taino diaspora. Misia also begins to crack down on Calusa Christians, forcing them to convert back to Midewiwin or be expelled. Many Spaniards and Calusa flee to the Bahamas and Jamaica.​

    (work in progress)

    Ahawatik– city at the southern tip of the Kamya (Salton) Sea
    Airapi– La Paz, Baja California Sur
    Apalachiqua– Apalachicola, FL
    Ashipewahk– Misian exonym for the Puebloans of Oasisamerica; literally means "Cliff Land"
    Aspa– Mexicali, Baja California
    Assinwati Mountains– Rocky Mountains
    Awaa Cala– Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur
    Awansachi Mountains– Appalachian Mountains
    Awnichma Isles– California Channel Islands
    Aztlan Sea– Gulf of California
    Cadeskit– Bangor, ME
    Cahoqua– Cahokia Mounds, across the river from St. Louis, MO
    Cheektowaga– Buffalo, NY
    Chesapeake– Norfolk, VA
    Chifin– Eugene, OR
    Chimasha– Morgan City, LA
    Chinquia– Evansville, IN
    Duhozemi– Cap-Haitien, Haiti
    Dzilola– Denver
    Eelsetcook– Bear River, Nova Scotia
    Erkachit– city on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Haquat (Colorado) River
    Haquat River– Colorado River
    Ileni/Hileni– First imperial Misian dynasty, similar to the Han of China
    Inoka Plain– Plains of Illinois and surrounding area
    Kaaman Kagaleha– Mulege, Baja California Sur
    Kadakaaman– San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
    Kakinampo River– Tennessee River
    Kamya Channel– artificially-maintained canal connecting the Kamya (Salton) Sea to the lower Haquat (Colorado) River from Paruk
    Kamya Sea– salt lake on the site of the OTL Salton Sea
    Kawanoteh– Montreal, Quebec
    Kawila– Matamoros, Tamaulipas
    Kekionga– Fort Wayne, IN
    Kiawah– Charleston, SC
    Kikoqua– Keoka, IA
    Kilsu– Current imperial Misian dynasty ruling since European contact; meaning "Dynasty of the Sun"
    Kosai– San Diego, CA
    Kotsui River– Rio Grande
    Kumeyai Coast– coastal region of southernmost portions of California and northernmost portions of Baja California
    Kutsan– Egypt-like civilization based around the lower Haquat (Colorado) River
    Lake Michigami– Lake Michigan
    Lake Piapa– Great Salt Lake
    Mabila– Mobile, AL
    Machigon– Portland, ME
    Makina– Mackinac, MI
    Manhattan– if you’re looking this one up please get help
    Mashowomuk– Boston, MA
    Masohna– Salt Lake City, UT
    Mayalamsen– Kansas City, MO
    Milioke– Milwaukee, WI
    Minohiyo– Pittsburgh, PA
    Minowasi– Nashville, TN
    Minutaliw– Cincinnati, OH
    Misia– Derives from Mihsiwahk, meaning "The Great Land/Kingdom"; includes the OTL American midwest and much of the south as its traditional heartland (basically the regions that were part of the OTL Mississippian culture)
    Nicota– Wickliffe, KY
    Nipafsaqua– Columbus, MO
    Ongniara River– Niagara River
    Osachit– Jacksonville, FL
    Paruk– near Ejido Hermosillo, Baja California
    Patai– Ensenada, Baja California
    Pateota– Minneapolis, MN
    Patoka– Paducah, KY
    Peorua– Peoria, IL
    Peskotoma– Pleasant Point, ME
    Pikate Peninsula– Floridian Peninsula
    Potapskut– Baltimore, MD
    Sakimauchin– Philadelphia, PA
    Sacuqua– Houston, TX
    Sandusti– Sandusky, OH
    Satapo– near Vonore, TN
    Shawasha– New Orleans, LA
    Shicaqua– Chicago, IL
    Socoisuka– San Jose, CA
    Takamcook– Newfoundland
    Talula– Tallulah, LA
    Tanpa– Tampa, FL
    Tashaka– Tuscaloosa, AL
    Tekesta– Miami, FL
    Tipiwik– Memphis, TN
    Tiwan– Tijuana, Baja California
    Tsenacommacah– federation/region based out of Virginia and Maryland based on the OTL Powhatan; one of the major powers of the Eastern Seaboard
    Tuf Shur Tia– Sandia Pueblo/Albuquerque, NM
    Tumbikbi River– Tombigbee River
    Wabanakik– federation spanning Northern New England, the Maritimes, and parts of Quebec bordering on expanded Haudensaunee
    Washtanoqua– Detroit, MI
    Wasioto River– Cumberland River (Kentucky and Tennessee)
    Watumka– Montgomery, AL
    Wepistuk River– St. Lawrence River
    Wilamut River– Wilammette River
    Yamacraw– Savannah, GA
    Yampapa River– Snake River
    Yanga– Los Angeles, CA
    Yelapu– San Francisco, CA
    Yenecami– Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur
    Yuum– Yuma, AZ

    Chapter 1: The Great Kingdom

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    Misia Medieval-Style Map WTRF.png

    It was a bright summer day in the city of Kahoquah. It was the a type of day where the warmth was cooled by a soft summer breeze that soothed the soul and refreshed all those who felt it; the type of day where merchants and vendors would gather at the markets to sell everything from yapa and fruity wines to soft silk blankets that shimmered in the light with their colors to cocoa and spices and mysterious knicknacks from far off lands to the south; the type of day where farmers would reap a bountiful harvest of maize and manoomin and other delightful crops to be sold in the city; a type of day where the people would gather joyfully in the cobbled streets and by the docks as the children run to play in the river. Yet today was not that day. It couldn’t be that day. Over the past moon or so or however long it had been, Kahoquah had gone quiet. The entirety of Mihsiwahk, the entire Great Kingdom had gone quiet, except perhaps for the sound of the occasional weil or moan as another life cries out to the Great Spirit, only to be snuffed out. It starts with a fever, then fatigue, then headaches and back pains. Before you knew it, your entire body would be covered in a red rash and blisters and boils, and then death was on its way.

    And now it was quiet. As Mamantwensah walked through the cobbled streets, passed by the market square, looked into the sorrowful faces of the fewer people there as before, saw that half the amount of riverboats stopped by the dock, he knew that the world had changed, and he knew that more were still yet to die. His world had changed. But that wasn’t why it was so silent today. Today wasn’t the day to mourn commoners.

    An almost blood red wooden carriage, pulled by four wapiti bulls, made its way down the cobble street. On either side and in front of the carriage marched a melancholy parade of soldiers forced to endure the heat in suits of iron. Closer to the carriage marched nobles and priests, dressed in red silk robes. Closest to the carriage marched the last consort who remained of the Emperor’s harem of three. For whatever reason, the disease hit the ruling family extra hard. And there, marching alongside his father, was Mamantwensah, the last remaining and newly orphaned son of the emperor and the empress.

    The carriage and the surrounding parade made its way down the artificial mound atop which sat the wooden palace to the east. Smaller palaces gave way to crowded streets, which eventually gave way to greenery. On all sides, the people of Kahoquah healthy enough to appear stood quietly and respectfully with blank expressions, albeit with perhaps a hint of fear. The carriage approached a great stone wall, surrounding a great mound not unlike the one upon which sat the palace. Passing through a gated archway into the green enclosure, the procession approached a great marble block, in front of which lay a humble flame. A group of servants dressed in ceremonial silk lifted the coffin made of the same blood red wood from the back of the carriage and set it onto the marble platform. A priest stood over the coffin as everyone else kneeled. In front of the coffin and next to the flame, Mamantwensah and his consort step-mother kneeled facing the rest of the crowd.

    “Emperor Manawesquah, head of the Kilsu Dynasty, ruler of all of the Great Kingdom, protector of the Great River, master of the heavens and earth, keeper of the ways of the ancestors, and earthly son of the Great Spirit, has now left from this world to join his forefathers. Today, after a reign of 16 years, his body will be laid to rest here in the Heavenly Mound of Kings with those who ruled before him. As was his dying wish, he shall now be succeeded by his last remaining son.”

    Another priest approached Mamantwensah with a silver bowl of water from the Mihsisipi River and a light blue silk cloth. Taking the cloth, he dipped it in the water and wiped his face, starting above his deep brown eyes, then down to his nose and cheeks and lips. He then stood up before the crowd in front of the flame.

    “All hail Emperor Mamantwensah!” shouted the priest.

    The crowd of priests, nobles, soldiers, and others on their knees bowed fully in respect, arms down to the floor. Mamantwensah, only 19 years old, stood looking at his people, people who were hoping for leadership to guide them through these difficult and confusing times. He knew that lives would continue to be snuffed out by this mysterious ailment. He knew that the growing instability would surely lead to war in the near future. He knew that he was still young and still had a lot to learn. What he didn’t know, however, was just how eventful his reign would be, and how his reign would completely change the future of his nation, his continent, and the entire world.
    ***
    Historians generally consider there to be six thousand years of recorded human history. For most of this time, human history was completely divided. In what Europeans would know as the “Old World”, civilization emerged in four places– the banks of the Nile, between the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Indus Valley, and along the Yellow River in the North China Plain. Over time, these civilizations would give rise to countless others. The many great kingdoms and empires of Europe, Africa, the Near East, India, and East Asia that followed in the wake of these original civilizations would trade, battle, and spread ideas between each other, creating a divided albeit connected world of continuous civilizations. And yet, despite how vast this world was, and despite the seemingly impassable distance between the Western Europe and the East Indies or between Japan and Songhai, not a soul was aware of the vast land that lay across the ocean.

    This so-called “New World” remained all but entirely isolated from the old for centuries. The exception to this is in 1000 AD when the Vikings made a brief landfall at the island of Takamkuk, a harsh and at the time mostly uncivilized landmass, with the first Beothuk kingdoms not yet rising for another hundred years or so. What these Vikings didn’t know, however, was if they had ventured further south, they would find great civilizations that existed in complete isolation from their own world, civilizations that rose and grew entirely separately, all from three original cradles of civilization. First were the fertile river valleys that flowed through the mountains of the Central Andes, mountains that would give rise to the Wari, the Chimor, and eventually the great Inca Empire. Next were the Olmecs who lived along the fertile eastern coast of Anawak by the South Misian Sea, who would eventually give rise to the Mayans, the Toltecs, and the mighty Aztecs. However, arguably the most influential of these cradles would be one that rose in the alluvial plains of the Mississippi River.

    Misian Civilization began on the alluvial plain of the lower Mississippi some time before 2000 BC. The massive fertile floodplain with its rich sediments proved to form excellent farmland for crops like manoomin, little barley, goosefoot, sunflower, sumpweed, knotweed, maygrass, and squash. Corn, beans, and other crops arriving from Anawak would also come to be cultivated around 1000 BC, allowing the three sisters of corn, beans, and squash to productively be planted and harvested together. Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, paw-paws, and other fruits were grown in vineyards and groves, and the yaupon plant was cultivated for tea. The people collected honey from stingless bees, and silk from giant silk moths, two insects which the Misians had begun to keep early on in their history. Rather than hunt for meat, the locals kept domesticated turkeys, ducks, geese, and rabbits, and later discovered that they could keep whitetail deer and wapitis in pens, the latter of which would eventually be used to pull plows to further increase agricultural productivity. In manoomin paddies, fish were used to fertilize the soil with their waste as well as providing an additional source of protein. Of course, if a local wanted to eat something other than the typical domesticated meats, wild game in the form of deer, bison, and other animals was plentiful, as was fish in the Mississippi river.

    However, agriculture and fishing were only the beginning of the Mississippi’s usefulness. The Mississippi was a massive navigable river with branches stretching north towards the Great Lakes, east towards the Awansachi Mountains, and west towards the Great Plains and the Assinwati Mountains. Misian Civilization quickly spread over the course of a few centuries in all directions, and through the flat land and many rivers connecting these regions, trade, travel, and communication between all of these groups was easy, and larger kingdoms were able to form. It was in this period prior to the formation of the first imperial dynasties that the Inoka plain occupying much of the middle and some of the upper Mississippi came to become the most dominant center of Mississippian culture, when Mississippian cultures further came to displace the old southern Great Lakes cultures, and when Midewiwin would come to be the dominant religion in the north, putting an end to human sacrifices. As kingdoms grew in size, warfare became increasingly frequent.

    In around 100 BC, Misia would be fully united for the first time under the Ileni Dynasty. Based around the Inoka plain, the Ileni expanded in all directions, creating a vast empire, connected by a network of rivers and shaping Misian identity. At its height around 150 AD, the empire controlled land from the Awansachis and Atlantic to the east, the South Misian Sea to the south, the Great Lakes to the north, and the Great Plains to the west. The dialect of the Inoka plain came to be standardized across the land, and to this day, the Misian people still ethnically identify themselves as Hileni. The Midewi fatih, practiced in the north, also came to be adopted universally by the Misians, and the Emperor would use the religion to claim that his rule was divine.

    Perhaps the greatest innovation of the Hileni that allowed them to maintain such a massive and closely connected state despite the lack of horses was the construction of highly advanced canals using systems of powerful dams and locks. The Tumbikbi River to the southeast, for example, was connected to the Mississippi watershed through a canal to the Kakinampo River to the north. In the north, canals at Shicaqua and Milioke connected the river to Lake Michigami. However, the river was not the only highway for this great empire. All along its coastline, a chain of barrier islands formed a safe and easily navigable intracoastal waterway, allowing them to dominate the entire southeastern coastline of their continent. The one exception to this was the swampy Pikate peninsula, which was not conquered until later dynasties, although they did succeed in establishing a small colony at the tip. The Hileni Dynasty were masters at navigating their coastline, and soon found themselves venturing further away into the South Misian and Caribbean Seas, coming into contact with the civilizations of Mesoamerica and the chiefdoms of the Caribbean, trading their silk, tea, wine, iron tools, and other goods for cocoa, spices, and more, making Misia incredibly wealthy.

    Exploring the coastline led them to discover the Kotsui River. While the lower portions of the river would come to form the southwestern borderlands of the empire, expeditions up the river led the Misians to make contact with the disunited cultures of Oasisamerica, an area they came to know as “Ashipewahk”, meaning “land of cliffs”. It would be developments in agriculture, technology, and navigation that would help the so-called Ashipes form larger, more advanced kingdoms, albeit ones that were still kept small due to the mountainous geography. Still, these people built massive cities on mesas, canyons, and cliffsides, and over time, their civilization would spread to the Kutsan people of the Haquat River Delta. The first united Kutsan Kingdom was established around 300 AD, and would remain stable for over a thousand years as the mountains and desert shielded the life-giving river from foreign intruders. Over the following thousand years, settled civilizations would slowly make their way up the west coast with the most advanced ones being those closest to the Kutsan in the south.

    Meanwhile, closer to the Misian heartland, other civilizations rose and fell. Along the Atlantic coast east of the Awansachis and to the north of the Great Lakes lay a variety of kingdoms, federations, and other native states that were closely influenced by the Misians with similar architecture, writing, cuisine, and religious beliefs. While not benefitting from the massive extensive watershed of the Mississippi, these civilizations made use of their coastlines and relatively flat land to build their own well connected albeit less vast civilizations.

    Along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes, various states were in constant struggle with one another. In the Caribbean, different tribes fought one another for control of islands large and small. In Mesoamerica, kingdoms and empires came and went. In the Oases, the different Ashipe peoples struggled for control over rivers and trade routes to the east. Centuries passed and times changed, and only the Great Kingdom that stood at the center of the continent was eternal. Some dynasties collapsed and there would be warfare as other dynasties fought to take over, but for over a thousand years, Misia remained supreme. The entire order of this New World (barring the people who lived far south in the Andes) revolved around Misia. Every king, every chief, and every consul of every federation sought to win over the support of the Misian Emperor for the sake of power.

    Time had passed since the ancient days of the Hileni Dynasty. Now, the Kilsu Dynasty, the Dynasty of the Sun, ruled over all of Misia. The arriving Europeans would bring new crops, new animals, new technology, new powerful weapons, and new diseases. Despite how much the world was about to change, it would only be a matter of time before the interests of the European powers too came to revolve around the Great Kingdom where the river flows.​
     
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    Chapter 2: When Worlds Collide
  • Chapter 2: When Worlds Collide

    WTRF- Eastern North America in 1492.png

    "Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language.
    […]
    Several of my men have slowly begun to learn the dialects of the Indians, who have been able to give us greater amounts of information on their local geography. Somewhere to the northwest lies a landmass described as Calusa, a marshy land that is connected in the north to the vast land of Misihua, a land known for its wine, silk, honey, and other trade goods, including a leaf known as casina which makes a pleasant drink. It is my belief that the lands of Misihua and Calusa refer to the Oriental lands of Cathay and Mangi respectively. To the south lie other larger islands that make up the Indies, known primarily for their spices. The largest of these islands to the southwest is known as Cubao. Most of this island is ruled by a king referred to as a “casecua”. Another large and more heavily populated island to the southeast known as Ayiti is ruled by a casecua as well. With this information, I plan to chart my course further south in pursuit of these Indian kingdoms. West of Cubao is another landmass ruled by several great kingdoms and principalities, the largest being known as the Mechitco. The description of the land seems to be similar to that of India. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Lord has led me to discover the distant Orient.
    […]
    When I first beheld Dujozemi on the island of Ayiti, I was astounded by its majesty. Tall pagan stone pyramids reached up towards the heavens in mockery of the Lord like the Tower of Babel. The men and women of the noble class seem to wear golden jewelry. There seem to be a variety of spices not yet known to the Christian man that are sold at the markets. If it pleases our Lord, we desire to seek the permission of the casecua to establish a Christian settlement that we may establish a presence on, and perhaps eventually conquer, this land."

    – journals of Christopher Columbus, first journey, 1492

    "The Beothuk of Takamcook, although a humble and primitive people, have spoken of greater grandeur and wealth to their west. Venturing where the western sea narrows into a gulf, a great river known to them as the Wepistook passes through the lands of the Inu, the Omamiwini, the Wabanaki, the Hodenosaunee, and several other peoples, eventually leading to the lands known as Misiwa. Misiwa is described as a massive empire, with productive fields of endless grain, with excellent wine as well as another drink known as yapa, and wealthy and powerful cities all ruled by a single emperor. I believe, from the description of the land, I believe that the land described is the land of Cathay as described by Marco Polo, and that Wepistook River is the northwest passage for which we had been searching."
    –journals of John Cabot, first journey, 1497

    ***​

    The first contact between Europeans and Americans in 1492 would not involve the Misians directly. Shortly after landing in the Bahamas, he learned from the local Taino people about the Pikate Peninsula, at the time controlled by the Calusa, and the Kilsu Empire further to the northwest. Additionally, as his journey would bring him south to Cubao and Ayiti and more people saw their ships, word spread to Misia. Most likely from merchants in the Caribbean or South Misian Sea, word eventually spread to Kahoquah by the end of the year about a “fleet of strange boats manned by crews of strange men unlike any men they had even seen”.

    These strange men would eventually find their way in the Ayitian city of Dujozemi(1), the capital of the kingdom of Ayiti and the largest city in the Caribbean, whose name roughly translated to “throne of the spirits”. Being a major port on the northwest of the island, it had easy access to trade with both Misia and Mesoamerica, allowing it to become a major trading hub, and allowing the local casecua to dominate the other four smaller kingdoms in the island and unite them under his rule. When Columbus arrived, King Guacanagari greeted the travellers as guests, telling him about his island’s vast wealth. Due to damage to the Santa Maria, Columbus asked to leave behind the crew in a small settlement just outside the city. Guacanagari saw the Spanish as a potential new trading partner, and believing they would bring more wealth to his island kingdom, he agreed. The crew he left behind would build La Navidad, the first European-built neighborhood of the Dujozemi.

    In November 1493, Columbus would return, this time with a much larger fleet totalling 21 vessels setting course for Dujozemi with riches from Europe, as well as horses, livestock, smiths, priests, soldiers, merchants, and other people. Settling in La Navidad, the voyage had found that the local settlers were alive and well, taking Taino wives and receiving aid from the casecua. Columbus once again met with King Guacanagari and sold him Spanish goods– books, tools, weapons, Spanish wine, horses, and more, in return for more gold and spices. Leaving behind two thirds of his fleet and continuing to explore the Lesser Antilles with his remaining ships, the new settlers began to find their place in the colony. However, trouble began to brew when several local priests began attempting to convert the natives to Christianity. That December, Guacanagari requested that the Spanish cease their missionary activities, believing that the increasing conversion to Christianity was undermining his power. About a week later, a group of Spanish Christians entered a Taino temple attempting to convert the Taino priests. After they refused to leave, fighting broke out in which two Christians were killed and three Taino were shot dead. Among the dead was Spanish priest José Ferrero.

    By the time Columbus returned a few days later, news had spread throughout both the Spanish colony of a few hundred and the natives of the city. Many of the Indians, some of whom had begun to fall ill to an alien disease, came to express concern over the presence of the Spanish and wanted to see them gone. The Spanish, meanwhile, began calling for a crusade against the pagans, and as the plague disease began to spread more over the following month through the native population, more settlers began to see it as a sign from God. Several missionaries went to meet Guacanagari to offer for him to convert to Christianity, which he refused. Although he had personally grown quite fond of these foreign people and their religion, he knew that both his power over his own people and over the minor casequas depended on his faith. Over the course of January, more people died and tensions between the Spanish and the Indians only grew. Extending an olive branch, he invited the Spanish to come to his palace on February 4. Seeing an opportunity, Columbus surrounded the palace with soldiers and brought several armed guards with him, and when he entered the palace, all guns turned on Guacanagari, commanding him to convert. A local priest baptized him on the spot so that he would die a Christian. In Columbus’s journals, he confessed that while he sought to overthrow the kingdom for the glory of Spain, he had grown quite fond of Guacanagari as a man and wished to see him die a Christian rather than as a heathen. After the forceful conversion, all men opened fire, and the casecua of Ayiti was dead.

    Following the successful coup, Columbus paraded through the streets with Guacanagari’s head, demanding that everyone would either convert and accept his rule or be killed on the spot. With the city having already seen its population cut and severely weakened, Columbus’s relatively tiny force of about 100 men was able to seize control of the city. Columbus assumed that naturally, the rest of the island would succumb to his rule.

    Columbus was, of course, dead wrong. Not only did he control little outside of the capital city, but the four local principalities were now independent forces and would not be conquered so easily, requiring him to request a larger armada from Spain to send an army to conquer the remaining kingdoms. The last remaining Taino Kingdom, the Caizcimu Kingdom, would not fall until 1500, and even after that point guerillas would continue to fight their way through the jungles in the center of the island. Columbus would die before seeing the island pacified, being captured, dismembered, and set on fire by a group of Taino militants in 1501. Prior to Columbus, the island had numbered 1.5-2 million inhabitants. By 1520, following pacification and enslavement in pursuit of gold, less than 1,000 remained(2).

    Meanwhile, as the Spanish spread throughout the Caribbean, the disease the brough would come further north. It is believed that diseases that had been decimating the people of Ayiti would begin to spread to the North American mainland in early 1494, reaching southern Misia in late January. With the entire empire being highly interconnected due to its riverine transportation network, the disease would begin to ravage the capital in Kahoquah early that summer. The royal family, in particular, was hit quite hard, with Emperor Manawesquah of the Kilsu Dynasty and all but one of his sons dying. Mamantwensah, the surviving 19-year-old son, would become the new emperor.

    Immediately, trouble was brewing. In the view of many Misians, Mamantwensah was losing the grace of the Great Spirit. In early 1495, Mikaquah, a general in the north who had been at war with several Ashinabe tribes, had recruited a large army to prepare to march south, hoping to claim the throne for himself and become the new emperor of Misia. Hearing the news, Mamantwensah began to recruit his own army. Initially, there was popular opposition to the current dynasty, as many believed the dynasty had fallen out of grace with the heavens. To win the people over to his side, Mamantwensah knew he would have to come up with a strategy. The resulting plan was to send word to as many villages as possible with the message that all those who fought would be redistributed land from both those who had died of the plague as well as those who refused to fight. In a matter of two months, Mamantwensah assembled a massive force at Kahoquah. In April 1495, Mikaquah surrounded the city with his force not expecting resistance. Mamantwensah’s force stationed within the city walls fended off the attack, while the remainder of his forces successfully surrounded the distracted enemy force, putting them to the sword. Mikaquah was captured and tortured to death in the public square, serving as an example of what happens to those who attempt to overthrow imperial rule.

    Throughout the late spring and summer of 1495, Mamantwensah hired an army of surveyors, sent to assess the lands left behind by those who died from the plague. By mid-1496, most of the land had been properly redistributed to the loyal peasantry. As more people continued to die of the plague however, land would continue to be distributed. This would create a system that would have major long-run political and economic effects.

    As the Spanish continued to exploit the Caribbean under Columbus’s tyranny, a far more benign navigator arrived in the northeast of the continent. In the late August of 1496, Giovanni Caboto, known in English as John Cabot and in Misian as Shiyowani Kapotwah, arrived on the island of Takamkuk. The island was home to several small Beothuk kingdoms that in reality had rather small populations, and did not have large quantities of goods to trade besides perhaps lumber. Fortunately, what the Beothuks lacked in wealth, they made up for in knowledge. After learning to communicate, Cabot was able to find out about the Wepistuk River, which could be followed inland to the land of Misia. Passing through the river, one could look out on all sides and see vast farmlands and cities, most notable being the Haudenosaunee city of Kawenoteh, an island in the middle of the river that served as a major trading hub. Cabot learned from the locals more information about the river– it opened up to an inland sea known as the Ontario, and the river from the sea further inland could not be navigated, at which point one must cross the territory of either the Hodenosaunee or the Wyandot by foot.
    Cabot continued his journey inland until he reached Oswego, a major Haudenosaunee port on Lake Ontario. Following a stream that emptied at the port, he made his way to the city of Onondaga. There he met with the Tadodaho and requested for both passage to the nearest port on Lake Eriron, as well as permission to either commission Haudenosaunee vessels or build his own ship. The issue was brought before the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee, who came to a consensus after a day of debates and negotiations– the English would be granted permission to pass through, establish their own shipyard at the port of Cheektowaga, and even have commissioned a fleet of Haudenosaunee ships for an initial voyage to Misia. In exchange, they were to provide a portion of the Misian and English goods they brought through, as well as horses and firearms. Agreeing to the arrangement, Cabot sailed back to Takamkuk, established the settlement of St. John’s on the island’s southeastern peninsula, and returned to England with news.

    In the Spring of 1497, Cabot returned on his second voyage. He first left a third of his fleet of fifteen ships at St John’s on Takamkuk before continuing southwest towards the lands of the Hodenosaunee. He was greeted by several diplomats at Oswego, to whom he provided the horses and firearms that were promised. He then went to the town of Ongniara, a town on the eastern bank of the river of the same way that could not be navigated due to the massive waterfall in the middle. Travelling by horse, Cabot arrived at the port of Cheektagowa. Half of the expedition stayed behind at Cheektogawa to establish the English shipyard. The other half took the trade goods brought from England and loaded them onto six Haudenosaunee trade ships, captained by local sailors of the Wenro nation.

    The voyage made its way to the city of Sandusti on the coast of Lake Eriron, a major Misian port on the lake with its natural harbor. For guns, books, woolen cloth, horses, livestock, and other goods, they received silk, yaupon, tobacco, wine, maple syrup, furs, and spices. Pleased with their haul, Cabot returned to the Haudenosaunee, and then to England.

    Meanwhile, the voyages of Cabot would bring another, this time smaller wave of disease to the continent, albeit not matching the death toll of the initial wave. Still, the 22-year-old Emperor Mamantwensah managed to remain popular through his continuing policy of land redistribution. By the end of the century, the impact of disease was clear– Kilsu Misia had seen its population decrease from an estimated 60 million to only around 16 million.

    ______________________________________________
    1- Cap-Haitien, Haiti
    2- This number does not include those who inter-mixed with the Spanish or the small number that had converted and adopted Spanish culture, being counted among the mestizo population.
     
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    Chapter 3: Guama's Lamentations
  • Chapter 3: Guama's Lamentations

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    “The men. The pale men who came from the Great Eastern Ocean. What did you say they were called?”

    “Isapanoles, your majesty. That’s what they called themselves. The Isapanoles.”

    “Tell me, what did they do again?”

    “At first they came to trade. They established a little village in Ayiti. On the shore. To trade with us.”

    The Taino man froze up. His eyes widened. He seemed like he was about to tear up, yet his face was bone dry.

    “And, then what happened,” the emperor asked. “Why are there now thousands of Ayitian refugees on the shores of my kingdom?”

    The man was shaking. His lips were open, but they were stuck quivering. The emperor rose from his throne and stepped down from the platform upon which it sat. He approached the speechless Taino man, sitting down on the cushion next to him and, placing his hand on his shoulder.

    “My friend,” he said. “Guama, is it?” The Taino man nodded his head. “It is ok. You are safe here. You are under the protection of the emperor of the Kilsu, ruler of all of the Great Kingdom, protector of the Great River. Men of all nations know that there is no greater power. And now I must ask you, what did the Isapanoles do?”

    “Y-y-your majesty. There may be no greater power in our world, but these men are not of our world. These men crossed the Great Eastern Ocean and landed in Ayiti. They rode giant antlerless deer and carried sticks that made smoke and fire that could kill you in an instant. Their armor and metallurgy is nearly as fine as Misian craftsmanship. After we wouldn’t accept their god they destroyed our island. A few dozen men brought Duhozemi to its knees, and countless more arrived on boats to destroy the rest of Ayiti. He committed terrible atrocities in the pursuit of our wealth. They enslaved and slaughtered and massacred countless innocent men, women, and children. They were the ones who started the disease that ravaged our world.”

    The emperor paused for a moment. He needed to take a moment to absorb the information.

    “Recently, from Sandusti, on the northern seas, we heard reports that there was a group of pale men settled among the Haudenosaunee who called themselves Ihnelish, men with sticks of fire and great antlerless wapitis. It is believed that they live and work peacefully with the Haudenosaunee. Do you think these men could be the same men?”

    “I don’t know, your majesty. I was just a humble merchant of the Southern Seas before Kolombo arrived. They killed most of my family. I was lucky to save my daughter and bring her with me to Shawasha. I’ve only rarely heard stories about Haudenosaunee. I wouldn’t know what’s going on there, but if your descriptions are true, I would beware.”

    ***

    “A series of great marble steps leads up a great mound to the grand palace. The palace appears to be made of wood, being painted mostly red and green with many details of blue and gold. Two golden statues of eagles adorn the entrance, which lies just behind a series of great red pillars. The inside is no less magnificent, with sunlight pouring through the great glass windows and fine silk carpets and curtains decorating the surfaces of the interior. The throne, a wide seat with satin cushions, sits atop a dark brown polished wooden platform. The emperor, a man who is rather youthful in appearance, is dressed in a gold robe of the same material. As he welcomed us into his throne room, he invited us to be seated on crimson cushions in front of a long dark wooden table with golden details. His servants, dressed similarly fancily, set down ceramic cups in front of each of us and filled them with a cup of yaupon. […] Indeed, all of the wealth, power, and glory of this great continent can be found here in the great city of Cahoqua.”
    –Diary of William Brampton, first diplomatic mission to Kahoquah

    ***

    With the return of Cabot to England after his second voyage, both King Henry VII and the Parliament were impressed by the goods brought back from Misia. Shortly after, the crown established a charter for the Misia-Takamcook Company, a joint-stock company designed to control the English outposts in the New World and manage their trade and economic activity. In March 1498, Cabot was sent once more to the New World, this time with a fleet of 20 ships, including settlers destined for the colony of St. John’s and the outpost of Cheektowaga, explorers and diplomats meant to venture further inland to establish greater ties to the Misians, and a five ships that would remain under Cabot’s command assigned with the task of exploring down the eastern coast of the continent. The entire fleet would stop at St. John’s on Takamkuk, where three of the ships would stop, leaving more settlers. These settlers included artisans, smiths, priests, and farmers, but most importantly included administrators as well, since this was to become the primary administrative center on the North American continent for the Takamcook-Misia Company. Twelve ships would make their way up the Wepistook River to Lake Ontario. The first stop was made at Irodenquah, a port in the Cayuga territory of the Haudenosaunee. At the port, more horses and firearms were unloaded and given to the Haudenosaunee. After satisfying the needs of the locals, the ships would make their way to Ongniara.

    As some of the English would settle in Ongniara and Cheektogawa and others would board ships on Lake Eriron bound for Misia, the Haudenosaunee would make their own plans. Expecting the arrival of the Misians, the Haudenosaunee Grand Council had, in secret, made plans for war with the Wyandot on the other side of the lake, mainly occupying the peninsula to the west of the Ongniara River. Haudenosaunee forces had, with the horses and firearms from the first visit, begun training with the weapons, sharing the relatively small amount of supplies between them. Now, with more horses and more firearms, the Haudenosaunee could defeat their main military and economic rival once and for all.

    The casus belli came on July 12. Five Englishmen had ventured across the Ongniara river into Wyandot territory looking to go hunting. Believing that their land was being intruded on, three of the men were shot to death with arrows. One would be wounded in the leg, and the one man who remained unharmed helped his friend back to the town to tell the news, with the wounded man dying from infection a few days later. This event would come to be known as the Ongniara Massacre, and it would provide the Haudenosaunee with the justification that they needed.

    On July 16, 1498, before the sun had risen, Haudenosaunee warriors with support from vengeful Englishman rafted across the river with their horses, matchlocks, and even a few canons, and launched a surprise attack against against the Wyandot, easily capturing the towns of Nageah and Erige directly across Ongniara River. From both of these towns, the Haudenosaunee troops marched west to Sicantar located in the middle of the Wyandot Peninsula, attacking several smaller villages on the way. They would besiege the city on the twenty first and easily capture it. Following this victory, the force split up, with one half marching northwest through the center of the peninsula to attack Wawanosh in the northwest on the thirtieth while the other half marched southwest, attacking Sanoyane on August 5.

    WTRF- Haudenosaunee-Wyandot War.png

    Meanwhile, in Ongniara, the Haudenosaunee and their English allies had been preparing for another attack. Making use of the English ships left at the town, on July 31, the united English and Haudenosaunee force sent ships to blockade the city of Tecaronto to the north, a major Ontario port for the Wyandot. From the lake, English cannons were easily able to bombard the city walls, and the combined force landed on the beaches, easily pushing the Wyandot back and seizing the city, slaughtering many of the local inhabitants. More ships would arrive further east the following day at the nearby port of Oshawa, which would fall the same day. Following this success, the forces at both Tecaronto, Oshawa, and Wawanosh would march to the city of Ossassane, the Wyandot capital located in the north of the peninsula near Lake Karegnondi, which they attacked on August 7. The Wyandot would put up their largest defense of the war. They allowed the invading force to enter the city so that they would be forced to fight in the tight streets and alleyways, depriving the Haudenosaunee and English of the advantage they had in both guns and horses. The siege would last about a week to the fourteenth, at which point the consuls of the confederacy came forward to surrender over their starved and bloody city. In the end, the Haudenosaunee reigned victorious, controlling the entirety of Lake Ontario, the northern shores of Lake Eriron, and now had access to Lake Karegnondi to the west, providing them total control over the trade routes between the Misians and themselves as well as the northeastern coast.

    As the Haudenosaunee expanded their empire and established Lake Ontario as their Mare Nostrum, the English fleet made their way through Lakes Eriron, Karegnondi, and Michigami, following Misia’s northern shores the whole way to the city of Shicaqua. Reaching the city, just like at any other Misian city, they were stopped and had their boats inspected by dock workers before paying in silver coins to dock at the port and receiving approval to wander the city and trade their goods.

    The crew found easily the largest city that they had encountered on the continent thus far. However, much like everywhere else over the past several years, the city felt quite empty. The harbor seemed to stretch on for miles, yet only a rather modest amount of boats appeared to fill the docks, hinting at the greater splendor the city once held. Usually only a few dozen boats passed each day through the grand canal connecting the lake to the Misian hinterland. The market seemed to have room for twice as many colorful stalls as there were in actuality. However, not all was bad. A lot of food was quite cheap. Meat, most commonly in the form of a strange chicken-like bird known as wapipilia, and sometimes in the form of rabbit, duck, goose, or wapiti, was relatively inexpensive, as was a particular type of minnow (1).

    A couple days later, the expedition met with a bureaucrat who worked for the Sipikapia, the “river keeper” who dictated who could or could not pass through the river into inland Misia. The leader of the expedition was William Brampton, an Englishman who had been staying in Cheektowaga and had become near fluent in the local dialect of the Haudenosaunee language. By Brampton’s side was Deganawidah, a talented Haudenosaunee man of the Onyotaka nation who was fluent in Misian and near fluent in English who was able to translate for Brampton.

    “My crew and I request passage to the city of Cahoqua.”

    “What is your name?”

    “William Brampton.”

    Wiliyam Pwameten, the man wrote down.

    “And from which country are you sailing?”

    “My crew consists of men from both the Haudenosaunee and England.”

    “We receive frequent visitors from the Haudenosaunee Federation,” said the bureaucrat. “The same cannot be said for Ihnelan.”

    “We come from across the Great Eastern Ocean.”

    “Well, do you have a passport?”

    Cabot had been told by the Haudenosaunee that anyone entering the land would need a certificate from the leaders of England to prove his identity and origin in order to travel upstream from the seaport. Out of his pocket, Brampton pulled out a piece of paper in English writing that had been delivered to him from England attesting to who he was, carrying the seal of King Henry VII. He handed it to the confused bureaucrat.

    “I have never seen such writing.”

    “It is written in English.”

    The bureaucrat paused and thought for a moment.

    “I cannot approve your entrance into the Great River. Stay here. I will have to consult with the River Keeper.”

    After a few hours of waiting, the Sipikapia of Shikaqua arrived at the customs office. The Sipikapia and the bureaucrat spoke with one another while Deganawidah explained what was being stated to Brampton.

    “These men? Who are they?”

    “They call themselves the Ihnelish. They claim to come from Ihnelan, across the Great Eastern Ocean. They travel with the Haudenosaunee.”

    “I heard of these men. Last year they were at the port of Sandusti. They were traveling with the Haudenosaunee and sold giant wapitis and powerful weapons.”

    “Weapons?”

    “Yes. Sticks that create loud noises and smoke and fire and shoot a little metal ball like an arrow. Fortunately there were not too many and the imperial government managed to buy them all out. Who knows what could have happened had they ended up in the wrong hands. Could have ended up with another Mikaquah.”

    “Can we trust these people from this strange land?”

    “They haven’t caused much harm here in the north so far, but according to the Tainos there are a bunch of similar pale men from the east with big wapitis and firesticks in the Southern Seas who destroyed their kingdom. They slaughtered and enslaved them all!”

    The bureaucrat really did not know what a Taino was. He had heard of them in passing. But he understood the potential threat.

    “And these are the same men?”

    “Those men call themselves Isapanoles. These men call themselves Ihnelish. Perhaps they are of different clans, but we have no way of knowing.”

    “Then what do we do? Should we not let them into our river?”

    “The other Sipikapiaki and I have instructions from the Emperor of what to do should the Ihnelish, Isapanoles, or any similar pale eastern men come our way. They will not receive a Sipikapia’s seal on their passport. We are to escort them personally to Kahoquah. We are to thoroughly search these men and their belongings, and any weapons or armor that they possess will be placed on a separate boat. Their animals will be placed on another boat with only a caretaker brought along with them. These men and their ships are not to leave our site. If they wish to establish relations with the emperor, they will be able to do so. If they wish to spread their death and destruction, they will be unable to do so.”

    The Sipikapia turned to Brampton.

    “So, Wiliyam Pwameten, I know you understand the Haudenosaunee language, and so I will address you in it. You and your men will be given passage. However, you will be under strict imperial oversight. We will again search through every single one of your belongings to remove all weapons, armor, and animals and place them on separate ships that will be under our control. Imperial guards will be present on all of your ships. Whenever you leave your ships, you will be required to stay within our sights at all times. You will be escorted directly to the emperor in Cahoqua."

    Two days later, the expedition was able to continue through the canal and down the river under strict imperial oversight. The Englishmen often sat on the deck and watched the scenery pass by. All around them were great fields of maize and manoomin paddies, crops that the English had grown used to seeing in Haudenosaunee land but were nonetheless fascinating. They passed by impressive towns and cities such as Peorua, cities that seemed far larger than most of the cities back home in English, albeit far emptier.

    After only about two days on the Inokaspi River, the crew finally reached Cahoqua, the Great City at the heart of the Great Kingdom. After docking for the night and going to sleep, the crew woke up the following morning to see a massive city– one which stretched along the coast of the river and further inland, a city larger than any city that any of the crew had seen in Europe. Still, like the other cities, it was still relatively empty and quiet. Although there were a relatively small number of market stalls in the clean and beautifully cobbled plazas, they were incredibly well-stocked, and food prices were low like everywhere else– in fact, they were even lower here. As one travelled the cobbled streets up and away from the river, great mounds arose in the distance, on top of which stood great temples, mansions, and other important buildings. And in the middle, on a mound rising above the rest, was the imperial palace.

    A series of great marble steps leads up a great mound to the great wooden palace, painted mostly red and green with many details of blue and gold. Two golden statues of eagles adorned the entrance, which lay just behind a series of great red pillars. The inside was no less magnificent, with sunlight pouring through the great glass windows and fine silk carpets and curtains decorating the surfaces of the interior. The throne, a wide seat with satin cushions, sat atop a dark brown polished wooden platform.

    “Welcome,” said emperor Mamantwensah, whose words were translated into English for the crew by Deganawidah as he sat in his throne. “Please, take a seat,” he said, gesturing to the crimson cushions. “I was told of your arrival last night and I went to bed quite intrigued for this meeting.”

    Brampton noticed that the emperor was a young man, no older than 25 (he was, in fact, 23). He was dressed in a gold satin silk robe. His servants, dressed similarly fancily in crimson, set down ceramic cups in front of each of us and filled them from a ceramic pot of hot yaupon sweetened with a tiny bit of maple syrup and a squeeze of raspberry as was custom.

    “I am not trying to poison you. You are my guests, after all. I’m sure you will find our yaupon to be far finer than that which you have found in the Haudenosaunee lands,” the young emperor smirked.

    Brampton cheekily grinned at Deganawidah as he sipped his tea. Deganawidah shrugged the teasing off and drank as well. Brampton immediately understood what the emperor was talking about. Haudenosaunee yaupon and even the yaupon closer to the Great Lakes were a bit more syrupy, not as fruity, and not as fine a quality. Deganawidah, as much as he disliked to admit it, found the same. There just was no competing with imperial quality.

    “Now, I acknowledge that rules I laid out regulating your journey may have been restricting, but perhaps you were not all aware of a series of events in the Southern Seas that were, well, alarming to say the least.”

    Brampton had learned, mostly from Cabot and his fellow crewmates, about Columbus’s adventures south in the Indies, learning about the great riches that had begun to pour into Spain, but not much else.

    “I do not know much about it. I do know that the Spanish have launched several expeditions further south.”

    “The Sapanish?” he pondered. “We have recently heard about a group of people called Isapanoles in the Southern Seas led by a man named Kolombo. They have big boats and came from across the Eastern Ocean. They ride large beasts like deers without antlers and carry sticks of fire. We heard that you have been selling these same things on the Northern Seas, yes?”

    “Yes. Yes we have. We also come from across the ocean, but that’s not us in the south. That would be the Spanish. They come from Spain. I believe their efforts are being led by Columbus, this Colombo you speak of. We’re English. We come from England.”

    “Well,” said the Emperor, “according to our sources, the Sapanish from Sapeyn have slaughtered, massacred, and enslaved countless people on the island of Ayiti. Their refugees now live all over our southern shores. We have been told that they have spread plague throughout our land as well.”

    “Well I don’t know about all that, but I certainly don't rule it out.”

    “Well then, was that you or not?”

    “I already said, we’re English.”

    “How can I trust you? How do I know that you’re not allies or spies? How do I know that you’re not just gonna do the same thing to me as you did to Guacanagari? That Kahoquah won’t burn like Duhozemi? That Mihsiwahk won’t just become another big Ayiti?”

    “Look at me,” Brampton said. “I’m unarmed. All of our guns and armor are in your boats. We’re here to trade. How do we know we’re not here as your prisoners? As your slaves? After everything we risked when we left our families behind in England!”

    “Well then, we shall see. Guama!”

    In a purple satin cloak entered a man with much darker skin than any of the people Brampton had seen thus far. He could see that the man had a stern look and a hardened face covered in red paint and beads around his neck. The man took off the robe, revealing his muscular, shirtless body underneath. He realized that the staff he had carried in was actually a painted, iron-tipped spear. The man came up to the table and examined the faces of the men.

    “¡Voy a matarte!” he shouted. “¡Voy a matarte! ¡Tú y todos los demás infieles!”

    “What is he saying?” Brampton asked his men.

    “I don’t know,” the Onyotaka responded. “I assumed this was something in your language.”

    Brampton didn’t flinch. He wasn’t scared. The language sounded familiar, but he was not quite sure what the man was saying. If anything, he was confused. Maybe even sympathetic. He didn’t know what he was shouting, but he saw the hint of tears in his eyes. Guama noticed that there was no apparent fear or horror in his pale face, paler than even the pale men who destroyed his home. His hard expression melted.

    “It’s not them,” Guama stated, starting to break down. “It wasn’t them, he said, tearing up. These were not the men who killed my people.”
    _______________________________________
    1- The smaller population meant that there was an overabundance of food. Minnows are frequently used in manoomin paddies as mentioned in Chapter 1. Because the demand for manoomin had gone down, many manoomin farmers found it more profitable to sell their excess fish.
     
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    Chapter 4: The Savages
  • Chapter 4: The Savages

    WTRF- Eastern North America in 1492.png

    (yeah I know I already used this image just felt like it would be useful to throw up again)
    While the Haudenosaunee conquered the Wyandot and Brampton’s expedition set out to explore what was still believed at the time to be Cathay, Cabot’s third expedition brought him down the east coast of the continent.

    Arriving in St. John’s in the Spring of 1498, he brought more settlers to the colony. While staying in the town, he met with a man by the name of Nutaq, a Beothuk man who had learned English over the past two years living among the English and also had strong knowledge in several of the nearby Wabanaki dialects of the mainland. After toasting at the English tavern over a small glass of maple liquor, the Italian and the Beothuk went off to lead the expedition of Englishmen down the eastern coast.

    While most of the far northern coastal towns were relatively small, the first sizable yet modest port cities could be found at the Mikmaq town of Eelsetcook and the Peskotoma town of Sipayik. Using Nutaq as his translator he established relations with the people who lived in the towns. From there, he made his way to the larger cities of Cadeskit and Machigon further south, engaging in the same outreach. Cabot noted that the region had vast forests and was rich in lumber. Additionally, it was noted that while some staple crops like manoomin were grown, the region seemed to specialize primarily in fish, lumber, maple syrup, grapes, berries, and furs, which it frequently sold to those living further south in exchange for staple food crops, tobacco, manufactured goods, and more. It was this trade that brought men like Atemus, a multilingual Lenape merchant from further south, to the port of Machigon. After much persuasion and a bottle of musky wine, Atemus agreed to join Cabot and Nutaq on their journey south.

    The stop was Mashowomuk, a town larger than any of the previous ones they had visited, in the land of the Massachusetts, one of many small independent states in the area. Most of these smaller states to the northeast of the Lenape had their own dialects, most used the Munsey dialect of Lenape as a lingua franca due to the historic dominance of their neighbor throughout history. Further west were the lands of the Lenape which were dominated primarily by two states– the Munsey in the north based out of Manhattan and the Unamy in the south based out of Sakimauchin. Both cities were some of the largest on the eastern seaboard, sitting on the mouths of two rivers that led to a vast, fertile hinterland. With both rivers going north, they also both provided a means by which to trade with the Haudenosaunee, especially in the case of the Munsey. The fertile lands controlled by the Lenape were also useful for syrup and fruits, but were also suited to an even wider variety of crops, including corn, beans, squash, barley, and a wide variety of other foods.

    The lands further south, by comparison, were more swampy by the coast. While these wetlands were useful for specialized manoomin cultivation, most of the population was concentrated in a highly dense hinterland, primarily growing tobacco and the three sisters, importing their wine and syrup from further north. The two largest coastal cities in this region that Cabot visited were the city-state of Chesapeake at the mouth of the bay of the same name and the city of Werocomoco, the capital of the Tsenecommoca federation, one of the most populous and powerful of the coastal states.

    While much of the coast as he continued south he found to be largely swampland, he found larger cities where the small coastal states gave way to the Misian portion of the Atlantic coast. In this area, he found that Kiawah and Yamacraw were two large cities. In these cities, had found large quantities of any good he could want– yaupon, cocoa, wine, fruit, syrup, spices, and all of the riches he could possibly imagine. While at the port of Yamacraw, he showed a passport, hoping to be allowed up the small river of the same name, but after being unable to gain access, decided it was a waste of time to bother with customs and continue south after more trading.

    Perhaps one of the most fascinating destinations he would explore, however, would be the Pikate peninsula.

    Tekesta was one of the largest cities on the eastern seaboard, and perhaps the most diverse on the continent, primarily competing with Shawasha in that regard. It sat near the tip of the Pikate peninsula between the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the South Misia Sea. It was built on a relatively flat piece of land between the swamps to the west and the hurricane-prone coastline to the east. The city is believed to have been founded by the Hileni Dynasty in 109 AD as an outpost, although the dynasty would come to conquer the entirety of the peninsula around 80 years later. Still, the swampy peninsula was often difficult to control and was never fully assimilated to Misian culture. Throughout the history of the Misia, the peninsula would go through periods of Misian control, partial Misian control (often centered around either the far north of the peninsula or just near outposts around Tanpa and Tekesta), or full independence, in which local tribes would fight for dominance. As of the time of European arrival, the Timuqua controlled the north. After a brief stay Osachit, Cabot would recount in his journals that the city was quite similar to the nearby Misian cities, even possessing a large Misian population. The Calusa, meanwhile, dominated the south of the peninsula. While the Calusa tribe originated in the southwest portion of the peninsula, they moved their capital to Tekesta around 100 years prior, using their advantageous position to become quite wealthy. Although now the plurality of the population was ethnically Calusa, there were also significant populations of Misians, Tainos, Timuquas, Mayans, and even various Algonkian coastal peoples.

    And finally, Cabot was about to arrive at its coast.

    As he rounded the barrier islands, he noticed that, like every other port city he had visited on the continent, the colorful docks of Tekesta seemed to be far larger than they needed to be for the number of boats that it held. And as Cabot pulled up to the dock as he did elsewhere on the east coast, he heard shouting in a language that he did not understand.

    “Nutaq,” he asked his Beothuk companion, “ask Atemus what they’re saying.”
    Nutaq turned to their multilingual Lenape friend, asking him in Wabanaki what the men at the dock were shouting in Calusa.
    “They say we can’t dock here. They say no Isapanoles are welcome.”
    “Why not?”
    The Beothuk Nutaq asked the Lenape Atemus in Wabanaki, who asked the Calusa-speaking men in their native tongue, who then answered him, prompting Atemus to turn back to Nutaq, and Nutaq to say to his Italian friend in English:
    “We know what you are doing in Ayiti and Cubao.”
    “What are Ayiti and Cubao?”
    “They’re big islands in the Southern Seas that grow a lot of spices. They’re ruled by the Taino.”
    “Who are the Taino?”
    “They live all over the sea on a bunch of islands. Cubao and Ayiti are the two largest. The Taino sail all over, selling their spices everywhere and trading across the Southern Seas. You can find them in basically any southern port.”
    “And who are the Isapanoles?”
    “I don’t know. I’ve never heard of them. But they sure seem to have bothered a lot of people, and they sure left much of an impression. A lot of people down here usually don’t hold much sympathy towards the Taino. They’re kind of seen as greedy merchants by some, so whatever the Isapanoles did must be really frightening.”
    Isapanoles. Spagnole? Spaniards? Caboto had heard tales of the Genoan sailor leading the Spanish expeditions into the (still thought to be East) Indies. Was it really Columbus of whom they were so frightened? He had to find out. This city at the southeastern tip of the continent compelled him.
    “Here’s the plan,” he said. “We’ll sail away for a bit and then anchor by barrier island at night. We’ll row to the docks and I’ll buy some local clothes as soon as I can to blend in. I want to know what’s going on.”

    ***
    In the cover of night, Cabot rowed to shore with Nutaq, Atemus, and two other Englishmen. After making landfall just south of the city center wearing a plain brown cloak to disguise, the five men made their way north.

    At night, the city was still busy. Lanterns lined the limestone streets, lined with limestone buildings and colorful curtains and tapestries. At this time, spices, fruits, yaupon, silks, and other goods were no longer being sold, but several market stalls remained open belonging to street food vendors seeking to serve the nighttime crowd. Cabot couldn’t stop looking around him as he passed by the port, seeing all of the people and sights and colors and cultures and–

    “Are you ok?” Atemus said in the Calusa language, helping up the man who had stumbled as Nutaq bumped into him.

    The stumbling man stood up. He seemed relatively disheveled with bloodshot eyes. All of a sudden, the man locked eyes with Cabot and charged towards him, shouting at him as he grabbed his cloak. Cabot was really only making out the word “Isapanol”, which he said with rather slurred speech. The man began trying to punch Cabot, although did not have enough strength for the punches to land significant damage. At that moment he pulled out a small knife from his pocket, when all of a sudden another hand came forward and held the knife-wielding hand back.

    “Agwey!” the other man shouted, followed by several other words with which he was first reprimanding before speaking to him in a kinder, gentler tone.
    He then turned to the three men, speaking in Calusa, which would be translated by Atemus.
    “Please forgive my brother,” he said. “Agwey hasn’t been the same since Duhozemi fell to the Isapanoles.”
    Cabot thought for a second.
    “I’ve heard mention of the Isapanoles. I’m not one of them. I am a man from Venice, sailing on behalf of England. Who are the Isapanoles? What did they do?”
    After Atemus translated the sentence, he heard a lot of shouting coming from Agwey and his brother trying to quiet them.
    “How about you join us at the tavern? It will take some time to explain.”

    The seven men sat together on cushions surrounding a low palm wood table. In the center of the table was placed a small bowl of fluffy-looking whitish objects. Abey, Agwey’s brother, explained that they were covered in sea salt with the intention of making the customers thirstier to buy more drinks. Abey ordered a round of drinks for the table (except for his brother, for whom he ordered a cup of yaupon with honey), which were brought back in rather plainly-painted ceramic cups.

    “So what is this?”
    “It’s called balche. Popular drink on Ayiti and across the Southern Seas. It’s made from tree bark and honey. We used to drink it in Duhozemi, and for Agwey here it’s how he remembers home.”
    “Where is Duhozemi?”
    “To the south. It was the capital of Ayiti, a great island kingdom and a great center of trade, culture, and our way of life.”
    “And what was that like?”
    “Peaceful. Don’t let my brother’s drunken anger fool you. Ayiti and the other Taino lands were peaceful places. Sure, we sometimes had a dispute here and there and had to fight over trade routes. Sure, there was a bit of a slave trade. But in general, we resolved everything peacefully. There wasn’t that much crime. We all knew that the zemi were there watching over us.”
    “And the Isapanoles? They ended it all?”
    “Yes. Kolombo arrived a few years ago. Six years I believe. He was their casecua. Originally the Isapanoles came in peacefully. We got along. Then they started trying to make us abandon the ways of the zemi and Yucahu and Atabey and push their own religion onto us. We resisted, and so Kolombo overthrew our casecua and slaughtered and enslaved countless innocents across the island.”
    “Where did they come from?”
    “They called their homeland Isapanya. They claim it’s somewhere across the Great Eastern Ocean. They travelled on big ships with sails and flags. They rode big deer-like beasts called cabayos and carried long, fiery weapons that created smoke.”
    Cabot paused for a moment.
    “I know the people of whom you speak. I have corresponded with Kolombo. I used to live in the land of Spagna for several years before I left for England. I’m not one of them though, and if what you say about them is true, then that is horrible.”
    Abey’s eyes looked up for a moment, contemplating. He then turned back to Atemus and Cabot.
    “Who did you say your people were again?”
    “Well, I consider myself a Venetian, but now I am sailing with the English.”
    “Are the Inlis friends with the Isapanoles?”
    “I mean, it depends. They do trade and have relations with one another although they have fought in the past.”
    “Do you think that the English could go to war with the Spanish again? Do you think they could help us return home?”
    Cabot paused again.
    “I don’t think so. I don’t think the king of England is interested in starting a war with Spain over your homeland.” In truth, he knew that the English by and large would not care about a pagan people being conquered by a Christian kingdom and that even if the English did seize any of the islands captured by the Spanish that they would sooner take it over themselves than return it to the Indians.
    “I thank you for your sympathies,” Abey said. “It’s been a difficult several years. Agwey lost his wife and children. We’ve been outsiders in this strange new land. Even though the Calusa are taking the possible Isapanol threat seriously, the Taino refugees still aren’t treated like everyone else. Unfortunately you will probably have to leave. The Calusa are not taking very kindly to foreigners.”
    Cabot pondered for another moment.
    “Can I ask you for one favor then?”
    “Depends what it is?”
    “Do you know where I can purchase a map of the Southern Seas?”

    ***
    Cabot was now far from the mainland. He had sailed southeast from Tekesta through the Bahamas towards the island of Ayiti, sailing against the prevailing wind currents as he had been doing along the coast. He soon saw a large group of gulls above him flying off into the direction of the rising sun. Not long after, he saw two great limestone pyramids rising in the distance, not too dissimilar in color from the architecture he saw in the Pikate peninsula. A minute later, he saw a ship bearing a flag that he immediately recognized as a symbol of the united crowns of Castile and Aragon. The ship passed by his own, and he soon landed at the harbor of Duhozemi. He shouted in Castilian:

    “My friends! I sail on behalf of the King of England. I come in peace to speak and to visit your settlement.”
    The ship was able to dock at the harbor, resembling those found along the coasts of Spain. It was soon boarded by Spanish men.
    “And who are you?”
    “Juan Caboto. I come from Venice although I lived in Spain for a number of years. I now sail on behalf of the English crown.”
    “You’re coming from England?”
    “Yes. We have a colony up north– the settlement of St. John’s on the island of Takamcook. I have actually corresponded with Admiral Colombo about it.”
    “Well you’re in luck. The admiral has actually returned recently from a journey and is at the harbor today if you wish to speak to him.”
    Cabot suddenly perked up. He was pleasantly surprised.
    “I appreciate the opportunity.”

    Cabot was led through the streets. While in the distance he could see the limestone pyramids, he noticed that the area he was passing through was distinctly Spanish, containing houses and shops and streets and plazas reminiscent of those that he had seen during his time in Valencia, Seville, and Lisbon. This gave way to an area of limestone buildings reminiscent of Tekesta. Past these buildings he finally reached a large, limestone palace, entering it and being led into what must have been the throne room. There, he saw a group of dark-skinned female servants held in shackles with palm-frond fans, and on the throne in the middle, sitting on what appeared to be the skin of a great spotted beast, sat a light-faced man, not too dissimilar from those in his native northern Italy.

    “So, Giovanni Caboto. I’ve been receiving your letters. What a pleasure it is to finally meet you.”
    “Who are these women?”
    “It’s rather hot here. I figured I’d have a few of the locals help me out.”
    “I must say,” Cabot said, “I’m impressed with what you have done with this place.”
    “Of course. Conquering the city was quite easy. But breaking through the savage nature of these pagan brutes was quite difficult. We’re still waging a campaign across the island to deal with the Indio problem. All the while we’re beginning to establish ourselves on several other islands.”
    “Have they been turned to Christ?”
    “Many yes. But not most. They’ve been forced to go the way of the sword. Although it seemed that the Lord had already smitten most of the pagans himself. Of course, some such as the whorish women around me are becoming Christianized and civilized as we speak.”
    Cabot felt his gut turn. He knew that there was no greater cause than spreading the word of Christ. But he remembered the two Taino men, the two pagan men, the two human men that he had spoken to at the tavern in Tekesta. He remembered the pain and suffering in Agwey’s eyes. He remembered his fond interactions with the non-Christian Midewins of the mainland, men who were just as kind and soulful as any Christian man in Europe. He could not stand against Christ, nor could he get behind the enslavement of the Tainos.
    “Are there more of them here? The Tainos?”
    “Ah the Indios? Well here most of them have been killed, some have abandoned their pagan ways and found Christ, and many have fled to other lands. Although we do have some slaves here and are capturing more every day as we continue to conquer the eastern portion of the island.”
    Cabot didn’t respond.
    “But that’s enough about me. Tell me about your expeditions. You claim to have discovered an island called Takamcook, established a settlement called St. John’s, created outposts in the land of the Haudenosaunee, and are beginning to initiate trade in Cathay. How is that?”
    “I visited a port called Sandusti on their northern shores on my previous voyage. I recently visited parts of the eastern coast and another expedition is currently seeking to establish contact with the emperor of Cathay.”
    “I see.”
    “And on my journey I have actually met a couple of people up north who call themselves the Taino. They claim they come from this island. I met them in a kingdom called Calusa.”
    “Oh really?”
    “Yes. The kingdom did not allow us to enter the harbor because they thought we were Spaniards. It seems that you are really making a reputation for yourselves.”
    “Good. They should learn to fear Christ.”
    “They don’t fear Christ. They fear you. On this island you’re successful, but look around. These people despise you! They won’t let you anywhere near their ports! Do you really think the crown of Castile and Aragon will accept this?”
    Columbus slowly stood up from the throne and then walked towards Caboto.
    “Listen. I am here for three things– to spread the word of Christ, to spread the glory of Spain, and most importantly, to find gold and harvest spices to sell. The world revolves around wealth. As long as I keep supplying bullion to the Spanish treasury and selling spices to Europe, everything that I do will be righteous. Do you understand me? I don’t care how many of these worthless infidels die! These pagans have been given a chance again and again to accept Christ. Those who have done so have been shown mercy. Those that resist will be put to the sword. And to those that survive, their choice is either to submit to Christ or submit to the Christians. That is the choice I give them.”
    Cabot turned to leave and began to walk away.
    “Going so soon?
    Cabot froze.
    “Will I be receiving another letter?”
    Cabot turned around, walked over to Columbus, and spit in his face.
    “Burn in hell, scum.”
    He turned again and left.

    He made his way back to the harbor. He noticed that working by the dock were several children with dark faces. They were shirtless, and he could easily see their ribs..
    “Would you like passage on my ship?”
    “We’ve been told to stay here and work?” one of the children answered in broken Spanish.
    “You won’t have to take their orders any more. Come. We’re going to Tekesta.”
    “Where is that?”
    “Far away from here and far away from the Isapanoles.”

    The four children agreed to hop on board the ship. Cabot stopped briefly at Tekesta, brought the children over in the night, and told them about the tavern where they could find other Taino exiles.
    As he watched them run off in the distance, Cabot was still conflicted. It was the nature of the Christian man to be better than the other men of the Earth. But was this right? The cruelty? Slavery? Slaughter? Was it right to release these children in a place far from the Spanish but damn their immortal souls to eternity in hell?
    Cabot did not know the answer.
     
    Chapter 5: Separation and Consolidation
  • Chapter 5: Separation and Consolidation

    In the aftermath of Cabot’s third voyage, word began to spread about the treatment of the Taino people under the Columbian regime. At the time of the voyage, most mainland North Americans were still not aware of the actions of the Spanish. With several natives of the northeastern seaboard on board the ships that went south to Tekesta and the Caribbean, they came into contact with the Taino and their stories. Atemus of Sakamauchin, the multilingual Lenape merchant who travelled alongside Cabot’s crew, returned to Tekesta, where he interviewed several members of the Taino diaspora and wrote a pamphlet titled The Tragedies and Turmoils of the Taino of Ayiti at the Hands of the Spanish, more commonly shortened to The Taino Tragedies. The work, originally written in Calusa, was soon after translated into Lenape, Misian, and English. Meanwhile, word of Columbus and his abusive practices in the Caribbean made it back to Spain, and so he was brought back to Toledo in chains in 1499. Still, just a year later, he would return to the New World, just in time to be tortured to death by Taino militants in 1501.

    Still, even with the finger-wagging of the Spanish monarch, the great number of Spaniards that had moved to the New World, as it was recognized to be following Amerigo Vespucci’s 1500 voyage to South America, had grown accustomed to the tactics that had been used and developed in the conquest of the Ayitians. In 1501, a conquest would begin of the nearby island of Puerto Rico. In 1505, the Spanish would invade Cuba, an island which had become increasingly unstable following first the population loss due to plague followed by the largest wave of incoming Ayitian refugees. By the time the Spanish arrived, the island had erupted into conflict between several minor casecuas, all of which were incapable of fending off the Spanish. The Bahamas and Jamaica would also be invaded not long after. While there had been Taino refugees on the mainland, particularly in Tekesta, Tanpa, and Shawasha, 1505 would really be when the Taino refugee crisis would hit the mainland in full force.

    The largest portion of the Taino diaspora lived in the Pikate peninsula, and especially in the Calusa kingdom. The peninsula had for centuries possessed a large Taino population, with several small temples dedicated to the zemi alongside the larger Midewin temples. This population was, as elsewhere, concentrated along the coasts in port cities such as Tekesta, Tanpa, and even further north in the Timuqua city of Osachit. Tekesta, the largest city on the peninsula with the largest Taino population, saw its population swell even further after 1505 to the point where some believe that the Taino population had increased to more than half of the local population. Fortunately for the incoming Taino population, there was plenty of room due to both food surpluses and the availability of housing. Still, a large number of the city’s Midewin residents (mostly Calusa and Misian) disapproved of this influx of foreigners, and the city saw several lynchings against local Tainos, who had already been stereotyped as greedy merchants. Despite being a large portion of the population, the Taino residents were mostly peaceful, taking the abuse on the chin, hoping to not provoke any further retribution, and just being thankful it was not the Spanish.

    However, this period would be short lived. In 1516, the Spanish would show up to the Pikate peninsula. By this point, their approach had become more moderate, and rather than slaughter or work the locals to death, they demanded the Calusa king and his court convert to Christianity and become part of Spain’s growing empire in exchange for not having Tekesta destroyed by cannon fire. The result would be a caste system with the Spanish at the top, local converts beneath them, and everyone else at the bottom. The Taino in particular were treated extra poorly, both by the locals and by the Spanish.

    While the peninsula retained some portion of its Taino population, the majority fled to Misian lands, where there was already a significant diaspora. A small portion was found along the east coast, particularly in the city of Yamacraw, although the largest populations could be found in the ports along the South Misian Sea, particularly in Shawasha and Mabila. These two cities had always had Taino communities present, being the largest ports of the Misian heartland at the mouths of the Mississippi and Tumbikbi Rivers respectively. While these cities were fairly diverse by Misian standards, hosting modest populations of Tainos, Mayans, and Nawas, the region as a whole was still overwhelmingly Hileni Misian. The Tainos, most of whom were seen as outsiders who lacked passports, were forbidden from moving inland, although a small community had been allowed to settle in Cahoqua as early as the 1497 (in large part fueled by the emperor’s desire to understand who the mysterious pale men from across the ocean were). Still, the Taino were mostly confined to the coast. While they were faced with bigotry from the natives, the emperor ordered that peace be maintained at the empire’s ports and that the refugees be treated with respect and protected (Emperor Mamantwensah was personally rather sympathetic to the struggles faced by the Taino). In their homeland, the Taino historically mostly grew corn, beans, and squash as well as yuca and batatas. Manoomin, which was mostly a mainland crop commonly grown in paddies near bodies of water and wetlands, was not as common. However, the excess minnows that were farmed in the paddies alongside manoomin could easily be sold to the Taino, who had historically consumed very fish-heavy diets. As a result, minnows became a large part of the Taino-Misian diet. While batatas were still grown on the mainland, yuca was not, and so often Taino recipes that had historically used yuca began to replace the plant with other starches. Certain starchy variants of maize as well as little barley were ground up and made into flatbreads or fried in an attempt to mimic the classical style of cuisine. While peppers and other spices had always been used in Misian cuisine, they were still less common than in the cuisine that existed further south. As a result, the influx of Taino refugees caused South Misian cuisine to become significantly spicier. Additionally, with cacao less common, many switched to drinking yaupon and would spice it similarly to those drinks produced from cacao in their homelands. With its unique food, art, and music, the Little Ayitis of Shawasha and Mabila (and to a lesser extent Cahoqua) would become the epicenters of unique cultural movements within the mostly ethnically Hileni Misia.

    Still, not all Taino refugees went north to the mainland. A large number, particularly those from Jamaica and many from the western portion and southern shores of Cuba traveled west to Mesoamerica. The Mayapan League, which once ruled the entire Yucatan peninsula and stretched even further south into the Southern Mayan Highlands, now only encompassed the northern portion of the peninsula, although still included prominent cities such as Chichen Itza, Mani, Ushmal, and the capital of Mayapan. Most of these cities had small Taino communities which would expand following the expulsions from Cuba and Jamaica. Still, the two largest communities were probably at Cozumel, an independent island city with a long tradition of maritime trade, and Chetumal, a coastal city on a large harbor with a similar tradition. In many ways, life in Mayan lands shared many similarities with life on the islands they were forced to leave behind. They ate similar foods (although deer and poultry made up a slightly larger portion of the diet) and wore similar clothes. In addition to the Yucatan, a small community of Taino also found themselves in Zempoala, a coastal city and the primary port of the Meshica Empire. In both Mayan and Meshica lands, the Taino were welcomed as economic assets due to their mercantile traditions, but often lived in separate communities. This separation was actually created for the benefit of the merchants– the Mesoamericans practiced human sacrifice, and the Taino in their separate communities were protected from the practice (although it is worth noting that, following the spread of diseases, many kingdoms slowed or temporarily paused sacrifice due to the population loss, claiming that this loss was itself a form of divine sacrifice).

    Meanwhile, as the Taino people scattered across the mainland shores of the South Misian Sea, Misia itself would see further changes. While the English were mostly confined to the ports, a small presence of unarmed English scholars and explorers were welcomed into Cahoqua. With the world rapidly changing around him, Emperor Mamantwensah wanted to ensure that Misia would retain its status as the most dominant civilization on the continent. Most valuable to the emperor were books, which he had translated into Hileni Misian. Mamantwensah was highly interested in reading the history of Eurasia, the sciences, and how to best utilize the new crops and livestock brought over by the English. Most important to him, however, was learning about warfare. Mamantwensah quickly learned strategies on how to best utilize cavalry and firearms in battle, as well as how to produce his own gunpowder and even basic firearms (although these were both still more commonly purchased from the English, particularly the latter).

    As Misia would devote itself to the study of warfare, the smaller kingdoms and federations of the northeast that began to develop closer trading ties with the English would receive a more hands-on education on the subject. Following Cabot’s third journey, English merchants established themselves across the east coast of the continent. While silk, yaupon, and other goods that the Misians had in large supply were quite useful, perhaps one of the most popular goods sold on the eastern seaboard was tobacco. Naturally, the densely populated lands along the Chesapeake Bay were some of the best lands for the cultivation of such a crop. As a result, the city-state of Chesapeake at the mouth of the bay that shared its name grew increasingly wealthy, obtaining wealth that would make the nearby larger federation of Tsenacommacah jealous. In the year 1510, with the largest army in the region and many horses and firearms, the Tsenecomaccans would invade their smaller neighbor. Fearing Tsenacommacah expansion, the nearby kingdoms of to the north Conoy and Wepemok to the south would both invade their larger neighbor, resulting in a two-front war. Within two months, the Nanticoke across the bay, who had also benefited from controlling the valuable chokepoint, joined the alliance. After a year of fighting, the Tsenecomaccans had completely overrun Chesapeake and fully conquered the Wepemok. With the southern front completely dealt with, the Tsenecommacans turned all forces north towards the Conoy, which would fall by the end of 1511. After threatening to land on the Nanticoke’s peninsula, the Nanticoke agreed to offer control of the Cape of Akomak at the southern tip to Tsenacommacah. Within two years, Tsenecommacah had gone from one of many states of the eastern seaboard (albeit a larger one) to the preeminent coastal power.
    Screen Shot 2021-06-14 at 1.20.04 PM.png

    However, this was not the only major war to rock the eastern seaboard. In 1513, the Mohicans, an effective vassal of the Munsey to the south living along the Muhekantuck River that flowed through Munsey land, forged an alliance with the Warpinger, another disgruntled vassal, to attack the Munsey for access to the sea. Naturally, the more powerful Munsey kingdom, which had more people and was able to buy more guns and horses with its better ports, was easily able to overpower their northern attackers rather quickly, first pacifying the Warpingers before marching up river to defeat the Mohicans. Fearing that the Munsey were getting too close to their territory and that the coastal states were beginning to catch up militarily with the Haudenosaunee (who had a head start and greater experience with the modern weaponry), the Haudenosaunee invaded south, pushing into the lands of all three kingdoms. As the Haudenosaunee neared Manhattan in early 1514, the Munsey called on Massachusett, Narragansett, and Unamy to join the war on their side. Initially neither of these kingdoms answered the call until the Haudenosaunee themselves pushed east into Massachusett land, fearing that they would join the war and hoping to seize the valuable port of Mashowomuk in the east. This invasion would bring the Naragansett into the war as well. Manhattan would come under siege in early 1515, and the Unamy, who were previously more focused on the potential threat of Tsenacommacah, would officially join the war to prevent the Haudenosaunee from conquering all Lenape lands. While the Unamy forces fought alongside the Munsey and Warpinger forces at the battle of Manhattan, the Tsenacommacans, who had made a deal with the Haudenosaunee, took the opportunity to invade the Unamy from the south, drawing in their Nanticoke ally. Nanticoke managed to successfully push the Tsenacommacans down to the southern tip of the peninsula while the Unamy were able to hold a successful defense on the Siskewahane River, although they had to withdraw troops from the north to do so.
    Northeast Seaboard before the Atlantic War

    WTRF Before Atlantic War.png

    With the Tsenecommacans keeping the Unamy busy, the Haudenosaunee fully seized Manhattan in the middle of 1515 and were able to push all the way east, conquering Warpinger, Narragansett, Massachusett, and even Wampanoag, which had prior to that point been a small neutral duchy. The five northeastern states– Ndakina, Panabskek, Peskotomakaty, Wolastokuk, and Mikmaq– had all formed an alliance against potential Haudenosaunee aggression shortly after the start of the war, and the invasion of neutral Wampanoag was the final straw that brought the newly formed Wabanaki Federation based out of Cadeskit into the war in 1516. The Wabanaki would invade the city of Kawanoteh, but would be pushed back by a combination of Haudenosaunee soldiers and local English traders (ironically, the English were supplying weapons too, and in fact, some Englishmen were fighting on the side of all factions in the war). The two federations would effectively stalemate along the Muhekantuck River and Lake Kaniatara further north.

    Meanwhile, as the front remained relatively still along the Siskewahane River, the Tsenecomaccans focused their forces to push north against the Nanticoke, a campaign that was largely successful opening the possibility for Tsenecommacans to encircle the Unamy forces and then march north towards Sakamauchin. However, it would be around this time that the Haudenosaunee, possessing the most effective military in the region, would push south with full force against the Unamy, reaching Sakamauchin in late 1516 before Tsenecommacah could. The Haudenosaunee continued south, reaching the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. Desiring hegemony over the bay, Tsenecommacah turned against the more powerful Haudenosaunee, aligning itself with Wabanakik. While the Wabanaki front remained relatively stable, the southern front was quite dynamic as the Haudenosaunee pushed south against the weary Tsenacommacan forces.

    Not long after (although not before the Haudenosaunee seized large portions of land), a Misian diplomat arrived at the front and ordered both sides to stop the fighting. The Misians had historically faced enemies from the taiga to the north and the plains to the west, although historically the largest external threat to Misian power and security was a united state to its east. Around the same time, a British fleet arrived in Kawanoteh and demanded that the Wabanaki and Haudenosaunee cease their fighting. In 1517 negotiations led jointly by the Misians and the English in St. John’s, the Haudenosaunee agreed to end its campaigns against the Wabanaki and Tsenacommacans. The borders of the Wabanaki Federation would be preserved, as would the pre-war borders of Tsenacommacah. The Haudenosaunee Federation would maintain control of all land in between, including the valuable ports of Mashowomuk, Manhattan, and Sakamauchin. The Haudenosaunee would also be guaranteed access along the Wepistuk River to the ocean to the northeast. In a matter of years, the many small kingdoms and federations of the east coast had been consolidated into three– the Wabanaki in the north, Tsenacommacah in the south, and the Haudenosaunee in between, whom the former two were now firmly aligned against. Peace, meanwhile, was maintained by an Anglo-Misian axis threatening any state that dared to violate the Treaty of St. John’s.
    Northeast Seaboard after the Atlantic War

    WTRF After Atlantic War.png

    That same year, with Calusa now a Spanish vassal ruled by Christian nobility, a failed assassination by a Midewin noble named Jibaya led the Spanish to purge the remaining Midewin nobles. Jibaya fled north to Timuqua where he received amnesty. After a refusal by the Timuqua king to hand Jibaya over, the Spanish and their Calusa allies marched north in 1518. Timuqua called on the Misians to the north to protect their Midewin brothers. The Misians began to push south, beating the relatively small Spanish-Calusa force at Osachit. The tide would turn once again when Hernan Cortes, a Spanish captain who had fought many successful battles across the Caribbean, arrived with more forces from Cuba. Able to outmaneuver and deceive the Misian forces on the battlefield, Cortes pushed the Misians out of Timuqua completely and fully conquered the territory. The Misians would attempt another excursion south toward the end of the year, but this would be pushed back once more.

    Still, the great Cortes, who had now furthered his reputation as a skilled military commander, saw the conflict as far from over. There were over 18 million people living in the so-called “Great Kingdom”, and Cortes knew that Spanish holdings on the mainland would not be safe as long as there was such a powerful pagan empire to the north. Furthermore, if this land was really as vast and plentiful as it was said to be by the natives and indicated by the English, Misia could easily be the crown jewel of Spain’s great empire in the new world. Recognizing the need for a large, well-trained force to deal with such an enemy, Cortes returned to Cuba before setting out for Spain.​
     
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    Chapter 6: The Isapanoles
  • Chapter 6: The Isapanoles
    “Tell me. What is it you want to do?”

    “There is a vast pagan empire in the New World– Misia, ruled by the Quilso. It is far larger than any of our previous conquests– supposedly far larger than Cuba, Hispaniola, Panama, and Calusa combined. Perhaps even larger than your entire realm in Europe.”

    “And you seek to conquer them?”

    “I seek to bring their land into your vast empire, your highness. Their pagan culture would be eradicated, and all of their vast resources would fill your coffers.”

    “And might I ask you, Senor Cortes, what do you require to achieve your ambitions? How many resources do you expect me to spend on this project?”

    “Very little,” Cortes stated. “We have already been sending soldiers and building up armies in the New World for decades. I myself led armies against the Misians with our allies in Calusa. You could, of course, pull funds out of the largest treasury in all of Europe and pay hefty salaries to a standing army, but why spend all of that? Did not countless peasants and noblemen centuries ago willingly take up arms all on their own for glory in the name of Christ? The Old World is full of countless antsy peasants and jealous nobles; the New World is full of countless treasures and vast lands for the taking. What if, instead of challenging your rule over Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, your ambitious rivals were overseas trying to carve out their own land in your name? To serve the Lord and to serve themselves, many would get together and pay their own way. All you need is to spread the word across your lands.”​

    ***​
    Hernan Cortes was born in 1485 in Medellin, a village in Castille. Historians recount that he was a rather pale, sickly child, and his father was an infantry captain of distinguished ancestry but rather modest means. Still, the young Cortes desired more. His parents had sent him to Salamanca to study Latin with his uncle at the age of 14, but much to their dismay he had returned two years later. However, during these two years, he had learned extensively about Spanish law, and it would be around the time of his return to Medellin that news would begin to spread of a vast landmass across the ocean full of gold, spices, and other riches.

    In 1504, at the age of 18, the ambitious Hernan Cortes sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in the city of Santo Domingo in Hispaniola, now the capital and largest city on the island. After registering as a citizen, he would soon find himself granted an encomienda. He would take part in efforts to pacify the island and would lead men in the conquest of Cuba, where he would become the secretary to Governor Velasquez and be granted an even greater encomienda. Through the sale of gold, spices, and sugar cane, he would grow increasingly wealthy and powerful.

    Still, as wealthy and powerful as he was, he sought more. He would also fight his way across Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. He would intervene most notably in the Timuqua War of 1518, leading troops against the Kilsu in mainland North America. The Timuqua War had involved larger armies than the Spanish had yet faced in the New World, and Cortes came to believe that the only way Spanish holdings in the Americas would be secure was if the pagan empire to the north fell. That autumn, he would set out back to Spain.

    After arriving in Spain in early 1519, he met with Charles V, King of Spain and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He spoke of the grandeur of the lands of Misia, and requested that the Emperor encourage nobles and peasants alike to go overseas in the name of Christ, land, and glory. The following couple of years, thousands upon thousands of people from Spain, Germany, and Italy would cross the Atlantic to Cuba. By 1522, an army of volunteers had amassed on the island. Initially, governor Velasquez did not approve of sending troops to try to conquer the massive landmass, but once men began to arrive in droves authorized by the king, he obliged and helped in the recruitment of more men. By the end of this recruitment process, there were tens of thousands of soldiers on the island of Cuba. Standing before his massive army in Habana, he declared that the fight was another Crusade to bring Christendom to a barbarian people in a speech that ended in shouts of “Deus Vult”.

    Shortly after, Cortes would sail north, landing in Mabila, the second largest Misian port on the South Misian Sea. The city sat near the northern point of a triangular bay where it met the delta of the river of the same name, a river whose branches extended northward to the world’s largest canal that linked it to the Mississippi River system. Much like other cities on the Southern Seas, many buildings were made of limestone as well as marble. It was quite large, and much like many other local cities, it was not depopulated nearly to the same extent as it was over twenty years prior. The harbors were busier. Market stalls once again were filled with silk and yaupon and spices and more. Guiding Cortes and his crew around the city was Dona Marina, a knowledgeable Calusa princess who had been baptized into Christianity. Quickly, the presence of a large number of white men with big ships alerted the local authorities, and so the men were quickly able to receive an audience at the customs office with the local Sipikapia himself.

    “Who are you?”

    “My name is Hernan Cortes.”

    “And where do you come from?”

    Cortes had thought this out. He could pretend to be English. He could even pretend to be French. But he knew there was a risk of being found out, a risk he could not take. He knew that honesty would be the best approach.

    “My men and I are from Spain.”

    The Sipikapia had heard of the Isapanoles. The recently emerging Taino quarter of the city was often rife with the sounds of former refugees cursing the Spanish. He had received orders from Kahoquah to take serious precautions when dealing with any visitors from overseas, especially those from Isapanya.

    “You are one of the Isapanoles?”

    “Sí, señor.” He pulled out his passport with the seal of Charles V. “We have the papers necessary to prove it.”

    “And I can assume, because you have come here, that you desire entry past the mouth of the river into our land? What is your purpose here?”

    “We have come a long way, and we desire an audience with the emperor. It is our hope to establish an alliance as well as trade ties with your emperor. We request passage to the great city of Cajocua.”

    The Sipikapia did not need to check his papers to remember the emperor’s orders. He knew exactly what he was to do according to the now decades old policy.

    “If you desire passage up river, there are strict requirements. First, we must once again search through every single one of your belongings to remove all weapons, armor, and animals to be placed on separate boats under our control. Imperial guards must remain present on all of your ships. You will also be required to stay within our sights at all times.”

    Cortes thought for a moment. He could not proceed with his plans if he and his men were all unarmed around the emperor. Still, spending time around the mainland natives in the Pikate peninsula, he knew exactly what to say.

    “We cannot proceed unarmed. When the Spanish began exploring the southern seas thirty years ago, we encountered a cunning yet savage people known as the Taino. When we tried to make peace, they attacked us for worshipping our own Great Spirit. We had to fight back in order to live safely. Of course, you here in Misia know what the Taino are like.”

    “My friend, do not compare us to the Tainos. You will be safe under the Emperor’s watch.”

    “How do we know? We come from across the ocean. How can we trust your people?”

    “If you cannot go unarmed, we can not let you go up the river.”

    “What if the emperor came down to Mabila?”

    “The emperor will not simply leave Kahoquah to talk to you.”

    “You should ask him. Send a messenger. We’re willing to wait.”

    The Sipikapia knew that there was no way the emperor would come. But perhaps there was a way to test at the true nature of these men.

    “We will send a letter to Cahoqua. I’ll see what we can do.”​

    ***​

    “Your majesty, someone is here to see you.”

    Mamantwensah’s head perked up.

    “Who is it?”

    “A messenger sent by the Sipikapia of Mapila.”

    “Send him into the throne room.”

    A sweaty young man in a leather tunic marched into the room, stopped in the center, faced the emperor, and bowed before him.

    “Well, what does it say?”

    “I don’t know. I can’t read.”

    “Bring it to me, then,” the emperor ordered.

    The young man stood there confused.

    “What are you waiting for?” he smiled. “I’m not gonna eat you. Approach the throne!”

    The young man marched up to the still youthful 47-year-old emperor.

    “Let’s see. ‘Your majesty, head of the Kilsu Dynasty, ruler of all of the Great Kingdom, protector of the Great River, master of the heavens and earth, keeper of the ways of the ancestors, and earthly son of the Great Spirit, I write to you to tell you that men who claim to be Isapanoles have arrived in Mabila requesting to meet with you. They are led by a man named Enan Kotehs, and they possess a large number of ships. I have agreed to allow passage to Kahoquah under the legal requirements, an offer which they refused. They claim that they fear disarming will leave them vulnerable to attack like they were to the Taino on the Southern Seas. They then suggested that I write to you to come down to Mabila. I do not believe that doing so would be safe for you. I suggest sending a proxy of sorts in your place to test the intentions of Kotehs.’ Signed, the Sipikapia of Mabila.”
    Mamantwensah looked at the paper and then looked back at the man in front of him.

    “Young man, what is your name?”

    “Onequah.”

    “Come over here again.”

    “Yes, your majesty.”

    “See this?” he said, pointing to his purple satin silk robe. “I want you to touch it right here on the sleeve.”

    The young man hesitated again.

    “Are you deaf, my boy? I don’t have spikes. Touch the robe!”

    The young man briefly poked the loose sleeve and immediately withdrew his finger.

    “What do you think of the fabric?”

    “It’s soft, your majesty,” he said, stuttering, “and very shiny.”

    “Well then, how would you like one of your own?”

    “I’m not quite sure I follow your majesty.”

    “Listen, boy,” the Emperor said calmly, “it’s very simple. How would you like to be the Emperor?”

    ***

    Cortes marched the two men in the silk robes down to the marketplace right by the dock, planning to take them onto the ship. The Sipikapia, an older man in a green silk robe, marched alongside the emperor in blue, and on all sides surrounding the men were Spanish and German soldiers holding guns up to them. He could hardly believe that it was so easy to seize the emperor as a hostage. Surrounding Cortes were several other soldiers, including Calusa men who could translate and shout his words to the entire city.

    “People of Mabila– your emperor and your riverkeeper have been taken as our hostage! The days of the Kilsu are over! The time has come for you all to join us and build a new empire! Surrender your city to our forces, or your old emperor shall be killed!”

    Cortes, with his words being translated by Dona Marina, turned to the emperor.

    “Kill me.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “I said kill me. Go ahead. I’m not the real emperor.”

    “It’s true,” said the Sipikapia. “The ‘emperor’ here is just a poor messenger boy from Kahoquah. After you refused to comply with our laws and requested an audience with the emperor, the emperor sent Onequah as his proxy to see if you were really here for peaceful purposes.”

    “Well then I’ll kill you both anyway.”

    “Go ahead,” said the Sipikapia. “My loyalty as the River Keeper of Mabila is to Emperor Mamantwensah, head of the Kilsu Dynasty, ruler of all of the Great Kingdom, protector of the Great River, master of the heavens and earth, keeper of the ways of the ancestors, and earthly son of the Great Spirit. The local mayor and governor both know that a false emperor has been sent. It is only a matter of time before Kilsu soldiers arrive.”
    Cortes raised his sword. A few seconds later, the golden limestone floor was painted red. The severed head of the Sipikapia sat lifeless without a hint of fear in his wise old brown eyes.

    “Shoot the boy.”

    Cortes turned around and could hear gunshots behind him and the thud of another body to the ground. At that point, he began to hear noise. There had been several confused local Misian officers standing by, but now a larger army of iron-clad soldiers began to arrive, including several with horses and firearms. Cortes heard the men shouting, and now both soldiers and civilians alike were charging him and his men. Already being right by the dock where his ship was anchored, he and his fellow Europeans and Calusa allies ran to the ship, with the sounds of gunshot and the smells of smoke behind them. The ship took off just as a flaming arrow barely missed the bow. The time had come to meet again with the rest of the nearby armada anchored just south of the city and ready the cannons for the backup plan. The time for war had come.​
     
    Chapter 7: The Battle of Mabila
  • Chapter 7: The Battle of Mabila

    Mabila battle map.png

    After Shawasha, Mabila (or Mapila, as it was pronounced in northern dialects) was easily the second largest city in Southern Misia. Historically, control of the city was important for any dynasty that wished to control the land, as it was located at the mouth of the river system bearing its name, the second largest river basin of the Misian heartland (not including the Great Lakes), and it was often quicker to reach cities along the Alabama and Tumbikbi rivers by going out to the gulf and travelling up river than by travelling over land. This changed around the turn of the millennium, when the Great Canal was finally completed, connecting the Tumbikbi and Kakinampo Rivers, a feat of engineering rivaling even the greatest projects of the Old World without any draft animals. Following that point, the city grew increasingly important as a trading hub, connecting the South Misian Sea all the way through the Misian hinterland. At its peak prior to the spread of plague across the continent, the city was home to around 100,000 people. The population had dropped to as little as 20,000 due to plague. In the following decades, as populations began to grow back and people decided to start new lives in the now less-crowded cities. Many of the new residents were people who had missed out on supporting the emperor during Mikaquah’s War and therefore were not included in the land redistributions. Others were those who had benefited and were selling off or renting out their land and now brought increased capital to the cities. Additionally, with there being greater surpluses of food, food in cities was now cheaper and more plentiful, making city life increasingly appealing. The city would also become home to a number of Taino refugees, carving out a large enclave mostly near the southern tip of the city. By the arrival of the Spanish, the population had bounced back to around 50,000 (similar phenomena occurred in many other Misian cities).

    The city was quite large. A little under four square miles were contained within its walls. Inside the city, a smaller inner wall with three gates separated Outer Mabila with its vast waterfront from the more well-protected Inner Mabila. Typical of the water-loving Misians, all along both sides of all walls ran canals that doubled as moats (especially on the outside of the outer wall, which was often swimming with alligators). Another canal ran from the inner wall southward to the sea, splitting the outer city into a northeastern and southwestern half. The outer wall of the city had six gates to the outside– two leading into the inner city, three leading into the southwest, and one gate, the most busy Northern Gate, led into the northeast.

    To the north and west of the city lay miles of farmland. To the east lay the river. To the south lay the sea. Immediately south of the city protecting the harbor was the island of Sasantiaki. Towards the southern end of Sasantiaki island lay the Sasantiaki Lighthouse, one of the tallest non-pyramidal structures in the New World. The island was also home to a modest naval presence which fought off pirates.

    Cortes had anchored his ships by the docks just north of where the canal meets the harbor while he and his men were waiting by the city, and it had been not far from there that the River Keeper and the fake emperor would agree to meet him due to concerns over allowing Cortes and his men into the inner city. Most of his fleet, meanwhile, were stationed on the east side of the peninsula across the river (of course, not including the majority of the men who were still in Tanpa in Calusa). After fleeing the scene, Cortes brought his ships to rendezvous with the remainder of the armada and would begin to attack. The Spanish were easily able to seize control of the peninsula, which was very sparsely populated in contrast to the large city just across the river.

    Cortes’s next goal was to seize Sasantiaki Island. He knew that if that island fell, he would be able to cripple the Misians’ naval capabilities. The first real fighting at Sasantiaki island began on June 18. To the surprise of the Spanish forces, the Misians had learned to mount cannons on ships from the English. Compared to the Spanish, the Misians were less precise with their cannonfire and did not possess the same amount of firepower. Still, the element of surprise was enough to cause the Spanish to turn back north. The following day, the Spanish attacked the north shore of the island again. An entire Spanish ship was exploded after a flaming arrow hit a barrel of gunpowder, breaking the resolve of the Spanish ships. More Misian vessels would begin to arrive south from upriver, beginning to attempt to raid Spanish ships. During that battle, a Misian sailor named Shaui would lead his men to seize a Spanish ship, holding the crew hostage and torturing those that did not comply to fire on their own fellow Spanish ships. As a result, the Spanish turned back again. That night, a group of Misian sailors from further north by the same peninsula where the Spanish were encamped would storm and set fire both to the camp on the ground and to several of the Spanish ships before fleeing, leading the Spanish to halt their campaign for a week for repairs.

    On June 26, the Spanish again attacked the island, this time swooping around to attack the southeast. By this time, more Misian boats had arrived, but by this point the Spanish knew what to expect. The Spanish successfully surrounded the Misian fleet, which this time was quickly crushed. Shaui successfully boarded another ship, but was quickly captured and tortured to death by the Spanish crewmates. After defeating the Misian fleet, the Spanish attempted to land on the island, being met by well-trained Misian soldiers with bows, crossbows, and matchlocks firing into the crowd. While this fighting went on, most of the Misian soldiers on the island fled to the remaining escape boats to the city. Sasantiaki Island had fallen, and now the Spanish dominated the harbor.

    With Sasantiaki secured, the next phase of Cortes’s plan was to surround the city on the mainland. On June 28, Cortes’s forces made two landings. One group landed north of the city while the other landed southwest. The group that went north faced resistance from river boats, which shot flaming arrows at the ships. After landing, both groups faced a Misian force composed of both actual soldiers and farmers, many of which were landowners defending their own land. After fighting their way through marshy terrain into the surrounding farmland with the Spanish cavalry and Calusa infantry mostly leading the way, Cortes’s troops successfully surrounded the city in its entirety.

    The following day, the Spanish began to fire cannons at the city walls. The plan was to concentrate fire in the northwest so that a landing in the southeast would be easier. The Spanish (although mainly their Calusa allies) also attempted to form bridges across the water, although fire from Misian archers situated atop the wall set many falling into the water with the alligators. As the walls began to crumble, the mayor began to fear that the Spanish would bust straight into the Inner City. As a result, the Southern Gate, the southernmost of the six outer gates located not too far from the southern waterfront, was opened in hopes that the Spanish would instead attempt to storm through the Taino Quarter. This idea was mostly successful. As word spread through the Spanish line, soldiers poured south. The guards would continue to fire at the invaders, but would storm into the Taino Quarter.

    In the Taino Quarter the fighting was most brutal. Tainos, with their deep-seeded hatred of all things Spanish, hid behind walls, corners, and windows, and the fighting in such close quarters mitigated many of the Spaniards’ advantages, causing them to take greater casualties, leading the Spanish to withdraw once more behind the wall. The battle would continue this way. The Spanish would enter the city, set fire to buildings and supplies, and then withdraw behind the wall once more for another week. However, he knew the siege could not last too long as more Misian soldiers would arrive. On July 5, he stormed the city once more, fighting again mostly through the Taino Quarter, which was now largely in ruin. Another push from the Northern gate combined with several landings all along the coast quickly brought the entirety of Outer Mabila to its knees as soldiers fled behind the inner walls. In the confusion, many Misian soldiers kept fighting while some surrendered and offered to join the Spanish, while most fled behind the inner wall. On the seventh, the Spanish stormed into and seized the inner city, decapitating the mayor and instructing a messenger boy to bring his head to the emperor.

    On July 10, the largest Misian army the Spanish had faced yet had arrived and surrounded the city’s damaged walls. With their superior cavalry, the Spanish were able to use their posts north and south of the city to surround the Misian army, corner it against the outer wall, and send it into disarray. Much of the confused army was killed, fled, deserted, or even joined the Spanish.

    The Battle of Mabila was over. The Spanish had won.​
     
    Chapter 8: Shunapi's Head
  • Chapter 8: Shunapi's Head

    The eight generals sat around a large low table. Painted directly onto its surface was a large, detailed map of blue oceans surrounding the eastern half of the North American landmass, complete with labels and borders that had been updated following what was known to those in the Great Kingdom as the treaty of Sente Chansa several years prior. The map also featured the continent’s many rivers, the most prominent being the Great River into which the others flowed, which itself flowed southward to the Near Southern Sea at the city of Shawasha. On the southern end of both the map and the table sat the Emperor of the Kilsu.

    “We have confirmed, according to the smoke signals from the south, that Mapila has fallen. As for the troops we have sent southward, we are unsure what to expect, although considering the size of the divisions we have sent I am not optimistic of their success. My suggestion is that we send another force, this time a larger one, to Mapila. We must divert troops to Mapila immediately. As many waves as possible. If we can wear them down we can defeat them.”

    “Thank you General Atekawah. General Patanewah, your response?”

    “Your majesty, if we keep sending waves of men we would be sending them into the millstones. If they control the city they will be able to defend it. The best we could do is set up a siege campaign and starve them out at Mapila.”

    “Starve them out how?” said another aggravated general. “With what siege? Their navy destroyed ours, and who's to say how many more will come? Besides the sailing merchants, there are maybe a thousand Ihnelish situated in the Great Kingdom and Eastern Lands, maybe a few thousand more on Takamkuk. There are tens, hundreds of thousands of Isapanoles on the Southern Seas if not millions.”

    “The question of how many more may come is exactly why we can’t concentrate our entire army on Mapila. What about Shawasha? What about the fact that they already rule Pikate? We cannot divert men away from the south.”

    “What about the east? The Eastern Lands are at peace now, and we are shielded by the Awansachi Mountains.”

    “And what happens if another war breaks out? What happens when we’re not able to keep our end of the Treaty of Sente Chansa and the Ihnelish do all of the peacekeeping? What if the Haudenosaunee go back on the warpath and come for us next?”

    “Forget the Ihnelish and the Haudenosaunee! We can deal with them later. Right now we have a war in this country!”

    “What about the north or west?”

    “You want some barbarians to swoop in and finish us off while we’re busy?”

    “Hey, the Ashinabe to the north are a Midewin people.”

    “Well when you have to deal with those primitive raccoons to the north you realize they are no better than the heathen barbarians to the west.”

    At this point all of the generals were shouting over each other.

    “Silence!” Mamantwensah shouted. All of the men suddenly stopped and turned towards their emperor. “Everyone shouting over each other will get us nowhere. Any action will have its benefits and drawbacks, but we must–”

    “Excuse me your majesty.”

    Mamantwensah shifted his gaze as a servant in a crimson robe entered the room.

    “I know you are in a war meeting, but a messenger arrived from Mapila. It seemed that whatever information he may present would be relevant.

    “Bring him in here, then.”

    A sweaty, skinny young man just slightly younger than Onequah entered the room and sat before the throne. Mamantwensah’s thoughts were with the previous messenger boy who he had sent back down to Mabila in silk robes only to be slain alongside the Sipikapia. How many more men would die from his failures?
    The young man opened a rolled-up piece of parchment.

    “Well? Can you read it?”

    “No.”

    “Then bring it to me.”

    The boy walked around the table towards the emperor, handing him the letter.

    “To he who calls himself the Emperor of Kilsu, Ruler of all of Misiwahk. My name is General Enan Kotehs, an Isapanol commander of soldiers in the Southern Seas. During our most recent attempt at a diplomatic mission to your kingdom, we were deceived and assaulted by your men. In the following battle at the city of Mabila, my men have swiftly and completely subdued your forces and declared the city to be part of our domain. Should you continue to send more soldiers to attack us, we will continue to push north until your kingdom falls.

    I therefore lay out the following choice– you may surrender now in peace, only if you accept the lord Hesus Keristo as the son of the one true God and subject your domain as subservient to Isapanol crown. Should you fail to surrender, we shall purge your heathen domain of its pagan ways, Kahoquah will be burned to ash, and you and all of your heirs shall go the way of your riverkeeper, your previous messenger, and the mayor of Mapila.”

    Mamantwensah looked up and saw that the young man had been carrying a large leather sack.

    “Is that also a delivery for me?”

    “Yes your majesty.”

    “Bring it forward.”

    The man placed the bag down on the table and opened it. He pulled out a well-preserved severed head. He could still see the feelings of both fear and hope in his eyes.

    “Shunapi,” he said. “I met him when I visited Mapila on my most recent trip to the south.”

    He looked back up at the messenger.

    “Please take that with you and ensure a proper burial for him.”

    “Yes your majesty.”

    Both the servant and the messenger left the palace. The generals could see the solemn expression on the emperor’s face, his eyes sinking into his soul.

    “Your majesty, what should we do?”

    “This war is not just about us,” Mamantwensah said. “Or about me. Empires and Dynasties come and go. The Great Hileni Dynasty was just one of many that had to exist before ours could arise. This is not simply a matter now of who rules or how we maintain a balance of power. This war is about everything– the Great Kingdom, the Hileni people, the Midewin tradition. If we lose, thousands of years of culture, of history, of civilization are gone.”

    “What are you saying?”

    “I’m saying that this is the people’s war. Sure, we may not be able to promise them massive land redistribution, but now we can rally the masses behind the protection of everything they have ever known. We can put in place a draft, demand every able-bodied man fight, bring together an army a million strong. We can put guns and horses and arrows in the hands of normal men trying to protect their land and their livelihoods. The Eastern Lands? The Northern Lands? Who cares how many soldiers we have to pull from those frontiers? We’ll have countless more, and then some. If the Isapanoles destroy us, the Great Kingdom, what do the rest of the Midewin nations think will happen to them? We can rally together an army of all peoples to resist this threat. We can bring the fight to the Pikate peninsula and the east coast, forcing the Ihnelish to join us at sea. Maybe our numbers aren’t as strong as they were during the rule of my father, but we will build something never seen before– an army of all people and of all peoples, all unified, all fighting for our shared destiny.”
     
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    Chapter 9: A Fortress Breached
  • (missed me? I know this isn't the longest or most detailed chapter, but I wanted to be able to write something on Misia)

    Chapter 9: A Fortress Breached

    Can any city in the Christian realm compare to the glory of Xahuaxa? A port such as this puts even nearby Mabila to shame. In every direction are great golden buildings of limestone surrounded by bronze clay houses on the outskirts, alas they have all been stained with ash. Within the great walls of the Golden City lie grand palaces and temples to their pagan god, which could be easily converted into a cathedral unlike any existing house of Christendom. Oh, what great canals bring men and riches across its face! Oh, what treasures are to be found in its markets! Oh, what fertile lands surround it to bless it with its bountiful harvests?
    – journals of Hernan Cortes following the Battle of Shawasha

    The mouth of the Mississippi River has shifted throughout its history, changing its course. In some previous eras, the river would empty along the course of what is today known as the Atchafalaya River. During these eras, the city of Chimasha would reign dominant on the southern coast of Misia. In some eras, the river would instead shift east, taking its normal course, which would eventually become the standard course of the river through the careful management of the Misians. It would be this eastward shift that would allow a once modest village to grow into the great city of Shawasha.

    At the time Columbus first arrived in the New World, Shawasha was one of the largest cities in the empire, second only to Cahoqua. According to imperial censuses at the time, the city was home to around 300,000 people. Its location where the river system that held together tens of millions of people met the busy and vibrant South Misian Sea made the city wealthy as a key center of trade. Although most of the population was Hileni Misian, there were large communities of Tainos, Mayans, and Nawas, some even living in the inner portions of the city (although most tended to live in the outer portions closer to the docks). There are records of Misian bureaucrats in southern Shawasha who would go to the minority neighborhoods to try the foreign cuisine and drink balche. One record even tells of a young Misian scholar who was kicked out of a Mayan tavern for mocking Mayan culture and asking for human flesh, in reference to the admittedly accurate stereotype of Mayans practicing human sacrifice. In reality, many local ethnic Mayans had adopted the Midewin religion. Still, Taino and Mesoamerican temples existed alongside those of the Midewin faith.

    Like other cities in the New World, Misia was hit hard by the plague, especially given its enormous population and its status as a center of New World trade. While the population may have been brought down to as little as 50,000, the massive amount of available food and resources made city dwelling even easier and encouraged further trade. From both migration and high birth rates, the population of Misia rebounded to more than twice that amount. Some of the outermost districts beyond the walls made up of bronze colored buildings constructed out of bricks and baked clay from the river were still rather empty. Numerous inhabitants were able to move further into the inner city, with many of those now living outside of the inner walls being newer arrivals, minorities, and merchants. These merchants would often bring in goods from the nearby piers and bring them along the streets or canals to be sold in the central market.

    On 7 August 1522, Cortes would begin his attack on this city on the soft underbelly of the Great Kingdom. By this point, many Misian troops had been diverted to Mabila and the border of Spanish territory on the Pikate peninsula, both of which had seen significant skirmishes. While the local generals believed that the existing garrison was enough to defend the city, they were not fully prepared for the Spanish invasion, which was even larger than the force attacking Mabila.

    One defensive advantage that Shawasha held over Mabila was that while Mabila was effectively on an open bay, Shawasha was a bit up river. While it had some points that were accessible to harbors and lakes which connected to the ocean, these points were defensible. Attacking the city by land also entailed marching through difficult swampland– land in which the Misians were accustomed to maneuvering. Of course, bringing boats up the river would also leave them quite vulnerable to attack, although the river was wide enough that keeping boats in the middle of the river would give them protection from attacks on the mainland as they made their way up.

    The Spanish strategy was therefore to send ships up the mouth of the Mississippi alongside several canoes. On the swampy land, Calusa soldiers and Misian defectors, mostly from Mabila and the surrounding area, would run up the course of the river attacking any Misian forces defending its run. Meanwhile, to divide the Misian defense, another group of boats would use their naval superiority to break through the straits to access Lake Chepuna to the north of the city. The Spanish would land on the shores and march through the marshy land toward the city to the south, but the local Misian forces would be able to push back the Spanish, who were unable to use many of their firearms due to the humid conditions and who were unable to make full use of their cavalry.

    From the middle of the river, Spanish ships fired their canons upon the city, destroying as many structures as they could. On August 11, after the first failed land invasion of the city, Spanish troops on Lake Chepuna made another even larger landing to draw as many Misian forces as possible to the north, while another landing was made in the city from the south on the riverbank just east of the city. This time, the Spanish were able to surround Shawasha and continue to bombard its walls. The Spanish marched through the outer-portions of the city, slaughtering anyone who resisted. Using the narrow alleyways, Misian forces attempted to attack the encroaching Spanish. Cortes simply told his troops to fire back and keep marching along the main thoroughfares towards the inner walls.

    Upon reaching the inner wall, the Spanish issued an ultimatum– either all of the inhabitants would surrender and convert to Christianity or everyone would be killed. Seeing how quickly the Spanish breached the city, Shawasha surrendered. Cortes then declared everyone would be baptised, and every household would have to volunteer at least one man to serve alongside the Spanish.

    On the 15th, a Misian force arrived from upriver. They surrounded the city expecting to siege it and starve out the Spanish. Misian riverboats had some success boarding and sinking Spanish ships, but upon landing, the Misians were surprised to see a large force consisting of Misian soldiers who valued the safety of their loved ones over loyalty to their empire. At the Battle of Shawasha, Spain one a victory even greater than their victory at Mabila. Now, access to the Mississippi River and the empire's heartland were exposed. The fortress had been breached.​
     
    Chapter 10: The Midewin Army
  • Chapter 10: The Midewin Army

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    It was a hot, muggy summer in the village of Sakikansia, a small agricultural settlement named for the blue ash trees that were so prevalent throughout the Minowasi basin and elsewhere. The town was typically quiet. Merchants would often bring excess produce from the village to feed the nearby city of Minowasi located on the Wasioto River, which flowed into the mighty Pelesipi shortly before the point where it merged with the Mihsisipi. The shade of the sakikansi trees covered the paths leading from the small town center with its shops and Midewikiam to the surrounding houses to the mills by the stream to the pens of turkeys and ducks and geese and rabbits to the maize fields where the corn stalks grew tall.

    In addition to the quiet, the town was, more often than not, peaceful. While the population of the village had steadily regrown over the past couple of decades, there was still more than enough cropland and housing for everyone to live comfortably. Everyone in the village knew each other, and so disagreements were often resolved rather quickly without much of a fuss either personally or in the town hall or Mitewikiam. The village was not near any major potential battlefronts. On the occasion that an Awansachi hill tribe went raiding into the Great Kingdom, it almost never made it as far west as Sakikansia. Most villagers had rarely if ever seen a soldier, and only once in a while would a governor or imperial bureaucrat visit.

    Pashektha was returning to town with his father carrying the carcass of a deer which he had shot in the woods. They walked past the fields of golden corn and red tomatoes, past the turkeys and rabbits, and into the town center where they could sell a portion of their fresh kill. All of a sudden, they heard a sound that would stop them in their tracks– the sound of hoofs getting nearer. Emerging through the trees came a man dressed in the standard corn husk fabric clothing. He pulled on the reins. The horse picked up its front legs and then placed them on the ground and stopped. The man sitting atop the horse blew into a bison horn tied onto his torso by a leather strap, alerting the entire town to his arrival with a loud boom that echoed through the sakikansiaki.

    “Pesintawiyani! Pesintawiyani!” the man shouted. He reached into the leather satchel on his back and pulled out a scroll. All within earshot of the announcement gathered together.

    “I come bearing a message from Emperor Mamantwensah, head of the Kilsu Dynasty, ruler of all of the Great Kingdom, protector of the Great River, master of the heavens and earth, keeper of the ways of the ancestors, and earthly son of the Great Spirit!”

    The messenger unraveled the scroll, cleared his throat, and began to read.

    “Pesintawiyani, to the people of the Wasioto Province. Our great homeland is under attack by a foreign army known as the Isapanoliaki. The Isapanoliaki have attacked the great city of Mapila and killed tens of thousands of men, women, and children. They have come not simply to overthrow the Kilsu, but to destroy your entire way of life. They seek to seize all of the land under your feet for themselves and kill you or sell you all into slavery like they have done on the islands of Ayiti, Kupao, and Poriken in the Southern Seas, and lay waste to all of your Mitewikiam like they have done in Pikate and in Mapila. All men of fighting age must come together to fight this threat. Every family must send at least one man of fighting age to arrive in the city of Minowasi by sundown in four days time.”

    Pashektha put down the deer and turned to his father.

    “I will leave in the morning.”

    “My son, Minowasi is at most a day’s journey away. You can stay longer.”

    “Nohsa,” he said to his father. “If we’re under attack, then how can I wait? What if they do to us what they have done in Mapila and the Southern Seas?”

    “Bring some bread with you for the journey. And some deer pahtekiaki. I don’t want you to get hungry. And don’t travel alone.”

    “I won’t, nohsa,” Pashektha said. “I will meet the other men tomorrow morning by the canoes and row with them to Minowasi.”

    “And go to the Mitewikiam tonight with your friends to be blessed by the Nahiteh. I want to know that Keshiwia will protect you.”

    “Nohsa,” Pashektha said, “I know he will. I know that Keshiwia is on our side.”

    ***

    Following the victory at the Battle of Shawasha, the army of Cortes had only grown, and the crusaders now dominated the South Misian coast. Misian forces in the south were scattered, and there was no other nearby city of a comparable size. Rather than continue directly up the Mississippi, Cortes took the time to ravage his way through the countryside with as much of his united force as possible, beating smaller armies and bringing an increasing amount of land and resources under his control as he solidified control of the region.

    Cortes was largely successful in this endeavor. Although he faced some resistance and found fighting in the swampy alluvial plains of the lower Mississippi to be difficult, he forced dozens of villages and towns to hand over men and resources and convert to Christianity, and the few that resisted were outright massacred with only a few remaining survivors to recount the events to nearby villages. Historically, Misia’s strongest armies were never in its southern regions. It was very infrequent that any sort of attack would come by sea. Usually, the largest threats came from the Great Plains to the west, the hill tribes and kingdoms to the east, and the boreal forest tribes to the north. The men of these regions were more often battle hardened and ready compared to their southern counterparts. A significant number of soldiers were still in the northeast where they were enforcing the treaty of St. John’s to the heavily militarized eastern federations.

    However, the fact that they were already militarized was simply a bonus. It meant that not only could the Kilsu pull on their own troops, but also on the forces of these smaller nearby kingdoms. Including the former Wyandot who had been conquered more than 20 years prior and not including lands recently gained in the Atlantic War, the Haudenosaunee Federation had a population of around 1.2 million. While this was less than a tenth of the 18 million Misians, the Haudenosaunee also had effectively universal conscription, and thus possessed an army of tens of thousands that could be quickly raised to an even higher amount. The numbers for Tsennacommacah were quite similar, although the Wabanaki population was a fair bit smaller.

    Convincing Werecomoco to join the war was surprisingly easy. Several Taino refugees had migrated up north to Chesapeake, prompting the Manatowick, the leader of the federation, to read The Taino Tragedies. The Manatowick became sympathetic to the Taino and came to fear and abhor the barbarism and expansionism of the Isapanoles. He therefore pledged that, so long as their Haudenosaunee adversary agreed to do the same, he would send troops. Their Wabanaki ally would follow suit.

    The Haudenosaunee took more convincing. In order to make a decision to go to war, sachems from all five of the original nations that joined to form the federation had to agree unanimously. In a meeting with the Misian diplomats and the leaders of his rival federations, the Tadodaho agreed that he could convince the Sachems to go to war if the Misians pledged their support to help the Haudenosaunee build a canal in their territory in order to bring boats from the Great Lakes to the port of Manhattan. Although the diplomats did not really have the power to make such a guarantee, they agreed to the Tadodaho’s terms, and the Haudenosaunee Council voted to declare war on the Isapanoles.

    Meanwhile, in the Misian heartland, provincial governors were tasked with conscripting soldiers from each family in every village of their jurisdiction. By late September, a force of hundreds of thousands of young men who had all received at least some training had been assembled at the city of Nicota, one of the historic imperial capitals located just east of the confluence of the Mississippi and Pellissippi Rivers and a key point which the Spanish would have to pass by on their way to Cahoqua. By October, forces from the east would also arrive in Nikota, and Emperor Mamantwensah himself would arrive to lead them. The army was incredibly diverse– Wabanakis, Tsenacommacans, Haudenosaunees, Lenapes, Englishmen, and Misians from all across the empire had all gathered on the banks of the Mississippi to fight for the fate of an entire civilization.

    Meanwhile, in the south, word had arrived to Cortes that an English fleet from St. John’s had been spotted passing by the coast of the Pikate peninsula. Realizing that time was limited before the English arrived at Shawasha and Mabila, Cortes rallied his troops to march northward along the Mississippi towards the capital. Hearing that the Isapanoliaki were on their way north, the Misians prepared their defenses and waited.
     
    Chapter 11: An Anticlimactic Ending to a Poorly Conceived War
  • Chapter 11: An Anticlimactic Ending to a Poorly Conceived War

    The Battle of Nicota is often mythologized in modern media. The recent box office success of Mamantwensah featured the legendary battle as a group of downtrodden underdogs who united to stop the mighty Spanish, winning in desperation. The story stands as a testament to the will of the Misian people in the face of adversity. In reality, despite their previous success, the crusaders were never all that likely to win the battle.

    For one thing, Cortes had miscalculated. He foresaw the English attack on Spanish garrisons at Shawasha and Mabila, and therefore reasoned that seizing the Misian capital as quickly as possible and subduing the empire would protect him against the English. He correctly recognized that the governor in Cuba would do little to aid the Spanish force. However, the English force was quite small, and had he turned back south, it would not have been very difficult to beat back the English. By contrast, going north was effectively a death sentence. The number of Misian soldiers far outnumbered the Spanish by an absurd margin. The Spanish had managed to build an army of tens of thousands. The Misians had built one of hundreds of thousands, all gathered at Nicota.

    On the evening of October 31, the Spanish had camped south of the city and sent scouts north to report a Misian garrison that was alone more populous than the entirety of Shawasha. The prideful Cortes, however, did not believe he could turn back and must press forward, having faith in the superiority of his men. He had to devise a plan. The Misians likely would have expected him to attack at daybreak. Instead, he would send cavalry into the camp late at night, setting fires to scatter them and kill as many as possible.

    The initial attack was successful. In the middle of the night, the Spanish at Nicota successfully made their way into the camp, setting fires and killing hundreds of sleeping soldiers. However, the sheer number made the possibility of victory difficult. The Misians and their allies arose from their sleep to fight back against the Spanish force, which began to retreat. Cortes had counted on the burning of the camp to distract the Misians such that they would be unable to counterattack. Instead, they were chased down by native cavalry, composed primarily of Misian soldiers from the Inoka plain and Haudenosaunee regiments.

    At the camp in the south, the unprepared Spanish hastily arose to fire their cannons at the incoming Misian troops, hitting a number of their own men in the process. Still, the Spanish infantry marched forward, shooting the native men off their horses, pushing the Misians back on retreat until the remainder of the Misian forces showed up, forcing the Spanish to abandon their camp.

    Just when the Spanish thought the situation could not get worse, the Misian conscripts in the Spanish army who could see the writing on the wall began to attack the Spanish forces. Confusion broke out among the Spanish ranks, due to both infighting as well as the darkness of the night that was just slowly starting to give way to daybreak. With the Spanish invasion forces falling apart, they were surrounded by the Misians. Eventually, a south Misian conscript who had rebelled against the Spanish emerged, bringing emperor Mamantwensah Hernan Cortes’s head. Mamantwensah ordered for the fighting to stop, but with a force numbering over a hundred thousand, the emperor’s orders were not heard until a few hundred European Crusaders remained standing.

    Meanwhile in the south, the English had been bombarding Spanish garrisons on the coast for about a week. Ironically, the English had failed to push out the Spanish, who would only surrender after news of the Battle of Nicota arrived in the south, fleeing to the Pikate peninsula. When word reached Havana, the governor agreed to send forces to defend the Calusa against the potential Misian invasion, which would never come. Still, the Pikate peninsula would remain militarized for decades to come.

    While all throughout eastern North America the locals celebrated their triumphant return home after defeating the Isapanoles just in time for the late autumn harvest, the Spanish saw that their position was precarious. Contrary to their experiences in the Caribbean, they could not simply conquer and subjugate every heathen nation they encountered, and they had now wasted resources making an enemy out of the most powerful one. If the Spanish were to maintain their power in the New World in the face of an angry giant to the north allied to their British rivals, they would need a powerful ally of their own.​
     
    Chapter 12: Rise of the Meshica
  • Chapter 12: Rise of the Meshica

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    Misia was unique in the Pre-Columbian history of the Americas. Despite the lack of horses and other draft animals, its relatively flat land and many navigable waterways allowed for the facilitation of trade, travel, and communication with ease from the Awansachi Mountains and Atlantic to the east and the Great Plains and Assinwati Mountains to the west, and from the Great Lakes to the north to the South Misian Sea to the south. It only made sense that over time, the Misians would unite both politically and culturally, allowing for centuries of peace across the vast watershed of the Mississippi and beyond, with occasional threats from nomadic barbarians and smaller kingdoms. While times of division, dynastic collapse, civil war, and successful conquests could often be brutal, many Misians had the privilege of living in times of peace.

    Mesoamerica was the exact opposite. Like the Misian heartland, Mesoamerica was also an independent cradle from which great civilizations would arise. However, unlike Misia, Mesoamerica would for most of its history remain politically and culturally divided between many states and tribes separated by mountainous terrain and dense jungles. War and conquest were parts of daily life, with subjugated peoples becoming human sacrifices at the temples of the victorious. Of course, Mesoamerican civilizations had seen many great accomplishments, from the great craftsmanship of the Olmecs to the science and mathematics of the Classical Mayans and the construction of great cities such as Teotiwakan and Tulla that served as the centers of those great empires that did arise. Mesoamerica was a center of trade, connecting North to South and Central America, and connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Still, the landscape was one that was often more divided, and hence, more violent. To carve a successful empire out of such a tumultuous landscape required skill, good statesmanship, and a society of strong warriors capable of overcoming the odds– all of which could be found in the Meshica Empire.

    According to legend, the Meshica, known by many others as “Aztecs”, were one of the many Nawa peoples who migrated into the Valley of Anawak in the centuries prior to European contact, of which the Meshica were one of the later groups to emerge. According to Meshica legend, an ancient prophecy foretold that the wandering Meshica would find a site to settle and build a great city where they saw a golden eagle perched atop a cactus with a snake in its mouth. The wandering tribes would find such a site on a swampy island in the middle of Lake Tetzcoco, founding the city of Tenochtitlan. Although initially the island was small and unimportant, the Meshica built up the land of the city through the construction of chinampas, or small rectangular areas of arable land built up to grow crops on shallow lake beds. This large amount of reclaimed fertile land as well as the protection and ease of transportation provided by the surrounding lake allowed the city to thrive, and granted it significant autonomy, although for its history it was still subservient to other cities.

    This state of subservience would change with a great war in the Valley of Anawak that challenged the existing balance of power. A number of nearby cities had declared war on the dominant city of Azcapotzalo, capital of the Tepanec Empire, including the cities of Tlacopan, Tetzcoco, and of course, Tenochtitlan. After these three cities emerged victorious, they would form an alliance. In 1430, these three cities, known as the Triple Alliance, would expand rapidly throughout Anawak, forming an empire stretching from the South Misian Sea to the Pacific Ocean and obtaining sacrifices from prisoners of war and as tribute from conquered lands. The control of lands stretching from coast to coast meant that the Meshica were easily able to facilitate trade and become quite wealthy. While many of these conquered lands were initially brought under the rule of the alliance as tributaries, the empire would soon come to rule these lands more directly, and just like in the conquered lands, power within the alliance would consolidate as well, with Tenochtitlan increasingly becoming the hegemon.

    This process of expansion and consolidation would be expedited by the Great Plague. Awitzotl, the Wei Tlatoani, the ruler of Tenochtitlan and effective emperor with power over the other Tlatoanis, was one of the rulers who survived the plagues of the 1490s. With Tetzcoco and Tlacopan in disarray, Emperor Awitzotl was able to march his military into both cities and install puppet rulers who were entirely subservient to him, and declared most of the remaining portions of the empire to be directly under his control without much resistance, providing stability to the vast lands under his control. The lack of leadership also led to infighting among longtime Meshica rivals in the Zapotecs and Tlashcala. The reign of Awitzotl and his successor, Moctezuma II, also known as Moctezuma the Great, saw the conquest of both Tlashcala and the Zapotec lands, conquests that allowed the Meshica to continue, albeit on a smaller scale, the practice of sacrifice that had been essentially been paused since the plague first hit.

    As the Meshica Empire steadily continued to rise as the dominant player in Mesoamerica, the dominant player in the Caribbean, the Spanish, was going through a crisis after being defeated by the dominant player in East America. Although the colonies in the Caribbean were bringing wealth to Spain in the form of sugarcane plantations as well as certain amounts of precious metals, spices, cocoa, and yaupon, the miserable failure that was the invasion of Misia had resulted in a major loss for the empire as well as a need for both new prospects for wealth and a strategic ally in the region to counter the Anglo-Misian alliance.

    When Columbus had landed in the West Indies in 1492, he learned of two supposed great empires from the natives– one to the northwest and one to further to the west, lands he had mistaken for China and India when he first heard about them. Indeed, the bridge had recently been burned with the West Cathay, but the West India was by comparison quite open, with only some minor trade missions to the independent island city of Cozumel and the rather disunited Mayapan League, which was mostly carried out by Taino converts because many of these cities did not allow the Spanish to dock their ships. Seeking an opportunity for access to new riches, the Spanish would set out from Cuba led by Francisco Pizarro with the support of Taino and Calusa conversos to the west, hoping to find the Meshica port city of Zempoala.

    Pizarro landed in Zempoala in February 1524. The city was primarily constructed from a combination of coastal limestone as well as stone from the nearby river. He saw that the city included a number of temples, with one great stone pyramid towering over the rest. He could see a series of vegetation-covered arches carrying an aqueduct, not entirely unlike those in Europe. Pizarro, who had been around the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and Pikate but had not gone to Misia, had not seen a native settlement quite like this one. Tekesta being the closest comparison, was still quite a bit smaller.

    Shortly after Pizarro docked his ship, he was greeted by Pitalpitokeh, the local governor and diplomat appointed by the emperor. They would meet outside the Great Temple of the Sun in the city center. With the help of a Mayan merchant by the name of Akhkai who could speak and translate Nawatl, they were able to communicate.

    “Señor Pizarro, your friend here tells me you are one of the Isapanoles, yes?”

    “That is correct.”

    “Well, as it happens, there is a significant Taino population here in this city and others in the lands of the Triple Alliance. While we do welcome foreigners in our ports, most of those here who are knowledgeable are aware of the actions of the Spanish on the Eastern Seas, and even more recently about the invasion of Misiwak. If you attack and show such brutality to the Great Kilsu, then how do you expect us to trust you will not do the same to our great kingdom?”

    Pizarro pondered the question. He then turned to his translator and answered.

    “Your excellency, do you know how the Quilso were able to defeat us when no one else could?”

    “The answer seems quite obvious. It is like asking why it is more difficult to fight a jaguar than a turkey.”

    “Perhaps that is true,” Pizarro stated. “And from what I hear, the Mexica are just as great. But the people of Misia have tools which you lack, tools that have also allowed us to build an empire on the Eastern Seas. You are familiar with the stories about us that have been spread by the Taino, yes?”

    “Of course. We know of how you came in riding giant deer with sticks that could create lightning and great metal beasts that spit rocks from their bellies that can topple entire fortresses.”

    “Well, how would your emperor like it if we could trade for all of the same things? Your kingdom has plenty of gold and spices and cacao, does it not?”

    “And why would you seek to arm us with your weapons?”

    “It’s quite simple really. Much of our time in your world has been spent making enemies. Now, we have made the biggest enemy of all. It seems about time that we found a friend.”

    “Are you asking us to fight the Misiwecs?”

    “Not at all,” Pizarro answered. “I’m giving you the tools to be just as powerful. They may call their country the Great Kingdom, but if you accept our alliance and trade with us, we can make your realm even greater.”

    Several months later, after debate within the imperial court, Pizarro was finally escorted into the city of Tenochtitlan. As he rode the canoe on the way to the Meshica capital, his jaw dropped in awe. Zempoala was indeed impressive, but it had nothing on Tenochtitlan. It was easily the largest city he had seen on the continent, with its great pyramids towering towards the sky. With the many canals cutting through the chinampas which grew bountiful crops of maize, he could not help but be reminded of the great descriptions of Venice. He was walked by imperial guards to the city center, and saw around him the Great Pyramid that towered over the rest of the city as well as the great palace. But this was not where he was to meet the emperor

    “The zoo? Quite an interesting choice for this meeting.”

    “Yes, well the House of Serpents happens to be my favorite, but I figured the jaguar pit would be a much more fitting place to hold this meeting.”

    “Why?”

    “Well, they haven’t eaten yet today, and I would like to confirm that you will not seek to overthrow me.”

    Pizarro was taken aback.

    “We came here unarmed. We are no threat to you.”

    “Is that what you said on the Eastern Seas and in Misia?”

    “Our purpose in those lands was conquest. Our purpose here is to trade and to forge an alliance. In fact, as I am sure you have heard, we are here to bring you the tools to avoid conquest and become even greater conquerors yourselves. The great deer, the lightning sticks, the metal beasts, it’s all here. All we ask in return is to be able to trade, to forge an alliance, and to not be sacrificed.”

    Moctezuma summoned forth a servant who handed him a turkey. He threw the bird into the enclosure with the jaguars, one of which immediately pounced onto the bird, sinking its teeth into its flesh and ravenously tearing it apart.

    “Well, you do make a compelling case. I suppose we could continue to talk in the palace.”

    And thus, Pizarro presented the emperor and his court with guns, canons, and horses, and was not eaten by the jaguars. Pizarro returned to Cuba with boatloads of gold, silver, cacao, and spices, and further trade was facilitated. Initially, trade was constrained only to the port of Zempoala to ensure Tenochtitlan had control over the supply of weaponry, although the Meshica would eventually allow the trade of other goods at other ports as well starting in 1530. As a result, the Meshican ports of Zempoala, Atzaccan, and Tushpan grew significantly in population as did the capital city. Following the start of trade with the Spanish, the Meshicans went on a new wave of conquests. By 1525, the Meshica had fully conquered Michwakeh to the northwest, seizing the capital of Tzintzuntzan, and would complete a number of other conquests by the time Moctezuma II died in 1534. Most notably, in 1529, a number of northern tribes formed together into the Chichimeca Confederation following the adoption of the horse and began raiding Meshica towns, leading to a campaign of scorched earth against the nomadic tribes that saw the sacrifice of countless Chichimeca. He would move in Meshica settlers and force those who defected from the confederation out of fear to settle and assimilate to Meshica culture, leading to the conversion of much of the Chichimeca grasslands to cattle country. Montezuma would be succeeded by Wei Tlatoani Cuauhtemoc I, who would lead a series of campaigns mostly against the Mayans, seizing the city of Mayapan and bringing an end to the Mayapan League in 1539. Perhaps most impressively, under the reign of Cuauhtemoc, the Meshica would build a large navy with the help of the Spanish, allowing them to besiege and conquer Cozumel by 1545.

    The 1540s would see an arguably even more important shift in the Meshica empire. Increasingly, Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries had been arriving in coastal cities alongside the Spanish traders, leading to conversions among many who disliked the Meshica religion. With many of those who feared sacrifice, the concept of a merciful deity who instead sacrificed his own human form for the salvation of humankind was one that was meaningful and relatable to their fears. A conflict emerged in 1549 in Zempoala where, when demanding tributes to be sacrificed in Tenochtitlan, the Spanish refused to allow any Christian convert to be taken as such a tribute. In response, Cuauhtemoc issued the 1550 Edict with Regards to the Christians, in which he agreed not to sacrifice any Christian in his empire, but also banned anyone else from converting and prohibited any form of proselytizing.

    Still, the merciful message of Christianity in comparison to the harsh rituals of the Meshica was one that resonated throughout the empire, and underground Christian communities soon emerged, moving beyond the coastal cities and into the hinterland. The Meshica Empire was a great kingdom that controlled virtually all of Mesoamerica from the deserts to the northwest to the jungles of the southeast where it would butt up against the Spanish Central American colonies, and all across that land, pockets of Christianity would secretly practice their religion. The Meshica would often hunt down these “illegitimate Christians” to be sacrificed, with the Spanish mostly looking the other way despite the pleas of the local bishops. The Spanish would eventually reach a deal with Tenochtitlan with the 1562 Compromiso, allowing a number of Christians to escape to the Spanish colonies, with most settling in Cuba and Central America. The Spanish were able to continue ignoring the situation, while Meshica saw this policy as sufficiently alleviating the potential pressure on their empire, believing that their other efforts to crack-down on illegal Christianity were successful. Still, over the centuries, Christianity would spread throughout the mighty hegemon, setting the seeds for what was eventually to come.​
     
    Chapter 13: The Wooly Wild West
  • Chapter 13: The Wooly Wild West
    Oraibi.jpg

    Most of the Hopi people had never before seen a horse. Yet now, there were countless men parading them into the sacred city of Orayvi. The horsemen wore robes of thinly-spun wool covered with plates of iron armor carrying banners of black, white, turquoise, and yellow, representing the four clouds of creation from the Dinei sect. Some of the men carried long, iron-tipped spears which were pointed upward, some held curved swords in their leather belts, and some held bows with quivers of arrows strapped to their backs. The man riding at the front wore a headwrap of what was unmistakably Ileni silk, dressed at the front with a number of large eagle feathers. Marching forward to meet him was a man dressed in a colorful maize-linen tunic with a similar eagle-feathered headdress. The man on the ground stood directly in front of the horse, which came to a halt. The man on the horse came down and stood in front of the Hopi chieftain and high priest.

    “Ha’uh,” said the Nabeho man, addressing the Hopi in their own language. “I am Ahiga, Naat’aanii of all of the Dinei and Indei.”

    “What is it that the Nabeho want with Orayvi? Are you another tribe who has come to raid the land of the Hopi which we were given by Maasaw?”

    “My friend, you misunderstand me. I am your brother under Maasaw and the Creator, and I come to honor your peaceful ways.”

    “And this has led you to march an army into the City of Peace?”

    “This has led me to offer my protection to the City of Peace and to all those who honor your peaceful ways. Since the time of the Great Death all of the lands of Maasaw have been thrown into disarray. We know we are not the first to bring an army to your people’s cities, but we will be the last. I can assure you that Orayvi will be under our protection.”

    “And what do you ask in return?”

    “I ask that the Hopi join my new kingdom. I believe my mission is to bring peace to a warring land, Maasaw willing. Allow me into your Great Kiva and grant me Maasaw’s blessing, and I will forever ensure the sacred peace of your people.”
    ***
    Misia was a land that was geographically vast, densely populated, and geographically diverse. Across the cool and temperate regions of the Great Kingdom, the annual problem that had to be resolved was the struggle to stay warm. While one could hunt for wild leather and furs, one had to be careful to avoid overhunting. From the peoples of the more lightly populated northern forests and high plains, the people of Misia were able to trade for thick furs and bison hides respectively. Of course, wild game was not the only resource for material to be used in the production of warm, comfortable clothing. Turkeys, geese, and ducks provided their downy feathers. Some dogs and rabbits were bred for their wooly fur which could be sheared and spun into cloth. Although not as common, the hides of semi-domesticated deer and elk were also used. Cotton was also grown in southern Misia as well as in Mesoamerica, although such material was rather expensive. Even more expensive was the silk worn by the Misian nobility. Llama and alpaca wool, although not difficult to produce, often saw its price marked up significantly by the time it reached the port of Shawasha. However, in the past several centuries, a new popular source of wool emerged– this time from the far west, and when the Misian population would collapse making local resources more available, it would have a profound economic, social, and political effect on West American societies.

    Millennia ago, prior to the formation of the Hileni Dynasty, Misian legends told of a western land known as the “Cliff Lands” that lay across the Great Plains– lands that would be known in the Misian language as “Ashipewahk”. According to the legends, the cliff (or “Ashipe”) people had built great cities into rocky canyons and cliffsides. Of course, as we know from archaeology, most of the settlements that existed at the time, while impressive, were not so large, boasting generally a few hundred people and at most a few thousand. Still, the accounts were otherwise quite accurate– between nomadic desert tribes dwelt settled people living in great stone and adobe structures with farms watered by surprisingly advanced irrigation systems drawing water from the Kotsui and Haquat Rivers. Of course, the region also benefited from trade with the Misians, eventually allowing for the spread of technology such as writing and metallurgy. As the Hileni Dynasty was established and closer contact became more frequent as the Hileni were more easily able to manage both land and river routes to the west, a cultural revolution began within the Cliff Lands. Populations exploded. Settlements grew into larger cities. Small amounts of locally written records begin to emerge. Although the emerging kingdoms were kept small by the harsh terrain and lack of horses, they nonetheless thrived in the oases.

    The most advanced civilization in this region would by far be the Kutsan. According to the archaeological record, the Haquat River delta and the region of confluence between the Haquat and Haquasail Rivers did not feature the same early architectural achievements as the neighboring regions to the northeast, but did feature a rather humble farming culture that was able to take advantage of seasonal flooding to ensure a regular bountiful harvest. In the middle of the first century BC, the population would expand rapidly– faster even than any of the surrounding regions. The locals managed the wetlands of the delta and irrigated surrounding desert land, allowing for the cultivation of the three sisters, cactus, and a number of other crops– notably manoomin, of which recent varieties had begun to arrive from the east. Some time shortly before 300 AD, the Kutsan people would unite the Haquat River Delta with significant portions of the lower Haquat and Haquasail rivers to form the Kingdom of Kutsan. A number of large, sandstone pyramids not dissimilar in shape from those in Mesoamerica, rose towards the sky. By 400 AD, the Kamya Channel was completed, ensuring the water of the Haquat River would be split between the Aztlan sea to the south and the endorheic Kamya Sea to the northwest, further expanding the available farmland by draining some of the wetlands and bringing life to the desert. While a number of cities would each have their turn as capital, the two most common sites were Paruk, where the Kamya Channel split off from the Haquat River, and Yuum, located at the confluence of the Haquat and Haquasail.
    Kutsan Kingdom map.png

    As the population of Kutsan grew, demand increased for resources such as meat and cloth to make clothing. Around the same time as the completion of the Kamya Channel, there is the earliest documentation of the maintenance of herds of bighorn sheep under the reign of King Numet II. Around two centuries later, evidence first appeared of the nomadic peoples living in the nearby mountains and deserts also maintaining herds of sheep. Taking advantage of the vast tracts of land unsuitable for agriculture, the nomadic herder population was able to sell their meat and wool to the settled Kutsan in exchange for grain. This practice would gradually spread throughout Oasisamerica and to the west coast, but would never catch on to the south or the east.

    Meanwhile, back in the Cliff Lands, smaller tribes and kingdoms were frequently vying for power. Tribes like the Zunis, Keresians, Tiwas, Tewas, Piros, Tanos, Nuchus, Havasupais, and others frequently fought one another for land, water, and other resources, which would eventually also include grazing land for sheep. Outright conquests were not uncommon, but attempts at empire building did not last long across the vast arid, mountainous terrain. One tribe, however, remained above the rest– the Hopi. The Hopi tribe, as much as possible, preferred to stay out of wars, resolve disputes peacefully, and try to gain the protection of other powers. Over time, the other Ashipe tribes came to acknowledge the Hopi as a neutral party which could be trusted to facilitate peaceful interactions. Due to its peace, Orayvi, the Hopi capital, was able to thrive as a center of trade, bringing people from all over. Over time, they came to be seen as a spiritual people not to be messed with. According to the Hopi religion, Maasaw, the caretaker of the Earth who guided the Hopi people to their homeland and instructed them to build a great Kiva to him at the city of Orayvi, had instructed the Hopi to follow in his peaceful ways.

    Before long, Maasawism, a religion based on worship of the god of the Hopis and its many variants, would spread from the kingdoms around the upper Kotsui River all the way to the West Coast. Thaampo I would implement the religion in Kutsan when his popular dynasty took over from the previous unpopular and oppressive one in around 550, at which point the religion was already quite popular. Paruk had been the capital of Kutsan since the Kamya channel began construction, but Thaampo would move the capital north to Yuum, representing the theological shift towards the great city of Orayvi. Yuum would become the site of the Pyramid of Maasaw, the largest in Kutsan, which had a large kiva within. Still, with such a diverse and disconnected landscape, religions varied significantly from the original Hopi practice. Other tribes would often merge their own traditions with the new faith, forming their own sects. The Maasawism of the Hopi differed from that of the Zuni, which differed from that of the Kutsan, which differed from that of the Tiwa, which differed from that of the Dineic tribes that would eventually migrate into the region from the far north. And before long, this religion would spread even further west along with other aspects of Oasisamerican culture.

    The west coast, despite its proximity, was an entirely different realm from the inland cultures to the east for much of its history. Unlike Oasisamerica, which contained settlements centered around irrigation-based agriculture with nomadic desert tribes in between, the west coast was a lush and temperate landscape– so much so that large settled populations could exist even without agriculture. Prior to the rise of agriculture in the Americas, the Far West was the most densely populated region on the continent. Plentiful fruits, nuts and wild grains filled the valleys. Deer and wapitis ran through the grasslands and forest, and there were plentiful fish in the rivers and seas. Naturally, when the three sisters and other crops cultivated by the Kutsan entered the Dadacian valley and the land known to the locals as “Daadaaktak” (literally “The Valley Land”), the population skyrocketed. The central valley as well as many of the smaller valleys between mountains of coastal Dadacia proved perfect for agriculture. Squabbling city states would emerge between the mountains, while at any given time the river systems of the Central Valley would be home to a number of small kingdoms. Maasawist missionaries would convert most of Dadacia by around 900, seeing the religion mix with the local Kuksu cult forming the Kuksu sect, with most of the Pacific Northwest converting in the following centuries. Of course, the religious practices of these regions would differ significantly from those of distant Orayvi.

    The most prosperous city-states of Dadacia were Ohlone cities located around the Ohlone bay and further south. Two of the most prominent Ohlone cities were Yelapu, one of the northernmost Ohlone cities that sat at the mouth of the bay, and Socoisuka, a city at the southern end of the bay with a large well-protected fertile valley as its hinterland. The bay served as a key point in trade both north and south and between the coast and the Central Valley, making the region as a whole quite wealthy. In the Ramaytush Wars of the early 1300s, an alliance led by Socoisuka crushed one led by Yelapu, which allowed King Apsen of Socoisuka to establish the united Ohlone Kingdom.

    When the plague hit Dadacia 200 years later, much of the political leadership in many states died, leading to scrambles for power. King Daraten of the Ohlone Kingdom, however, survived. To his east, the nearby Yokuts, a related people, had broken into a complex civil war. Daraten, whose mother was a Yokut princess, would march east from the mountains into the Central Valley claiming that he, blessed by Maaso as the most powerful survivor of the plague, was the rightful ruler of all Yokut lands, a campaign he won rather quickly. In 1506, he married Queen Tukuli, who had just finished her own campaign to unite the Miwoks, another related people, to the north with his aid. The Miwok warrior queen would join her husband and rule from Socoisuka, forming the kingdom of Ohlones, Miwoks, and Yakuts, which would quickly come to be known as the Kingdom of Daadaaktak, or Dadacia.

    Still, the victories of King Daraten and Queen Tukuli were not enough to bring peace to the region. While the population had taken a hit due to the plague (and to a lesser extent due to war), the demand for sheep wool had disproportionately fallen, with those to the east instead relying more on other more local options for clothing that were now less scarce relative to the population. For many tribes, particularly in the mountains and the grasslands, the wool trade was rather important. A driving factor in Daraten’s invasion of the Yokuts was the desire to bring trade back through the Ohlone ports. Still, the wool market was in shambles, and so the Dadacian kingdom came under the attack of economically desperate herding tribes in all directions. Raids were frequent on the frontiers of the kingdom, which fought back by marching into the mountains and slaughtering sheep, in the process hoping to help their own wool market.

    The wool market crash affected Oasisamerica even more so than the Far West. It was bad enough when the king of Kutsan died, leading to a civil war, during which the Kumeyai people of the west coast who had lived under Kutsan control seceded to form separate kingdoms, that in turn continued to fight each other. The situation in Kutsan quickly got even worse when a branch of the Yavapai would attack, motivated by their economic desperation. Akwathek, the leader of the Yavapai attackers, would install himself as the new king in 1508 and ban anyone except for him and his new noble caste from selling wool to merchants. Meanwhile, other desert tribes, including other Yavapai, would attack the kingdom, raiding cities and villages for excess grain, taking wives to revive the population, and slaughtering populations of sheep. Meanwhile, both the raids and the prohibition on the sale of wool led to revolts against Akwathek’s reign, which were brutally suppressed. Similar events happened in the east, with nomadic tribes, mostly the Nuchus and Dineic peoples attacking the settled Ashipes.

    The status quo, of course, would not last. Like the Eastern Seaboard and Mesoamerica, the deserts of the west would also be changed by the introduction of horses to Oasisamerica, most likely by Nawa merchants or plains tribes to the west. The Dinei, also known as the Nabeho, and their fellow Dineic Indei tribes, would quickly master the horse. In 1535, the Dinei, led by Ahiga the Great would do the unthinkable by conquering the Hopi homeland. Fortunately for the Hopi, the Dinei were benevolent leaders and agreed to protect the Hopi from raids by other tribes. This conquest granted the Dinei legitimacy in the eyes of some tribes, while angering others. During the Indei Wars, the Dinei would align with subservient Indei tribes while attacking those that refused to subjugate themselves to him. In 1537, knowing about the precarious political situation, Ahiga and his allies would invade Kutsan, ousting the unpopular Akwathek II and declaring Kutsan to be part of his empire and securing a valuable source of grain. The following year, the Kumeyai campaign would see the Dinei quickly subjugate the Kumeyai along the coast. By the mid 1540s, Ahiga would conquer the Zuni, Keresians, Tewa, and Piro kingdoms. Perhaps the most notable of these conquests would be that of Tuf Shur Tia in 1542, the great Tiwa city that served as a major trading hub in the region and was even featured on Misian maps for its legendary status. The Dinei Empire now stretched from the Upper Kotsui to Kutsan, with the Nabeho city of Natani Nez on the Sa Bito River, a tributary of the Haquat River, as its capital.​
     
    Chapter 14: L'Homme D'or de Bacatas
  • Chapter 14: L'Homme D'or de Bacatas

    At this time, they stripped the heir to his skin, and anointed him with a sticky earth on which they placed gold dust so that he was completely covered with this metal. They placed him on the raft ... and at his feet they placed a great heap of gold and emeralds for him to offer to his god. In the raft with him went four principal subject chiefs, decked in plumes, crowns, bracelets, pendants and ear rings all of gold. They, too, were naked, and each one carried his offering ... when the raft reached the centre of the lagoon, they raised a banner as a signal for silence. The gilded Indian then ... [threw] out all the pile of gold into the middle of the lake, and the chiefs who had accompanied him did the same on their own accounts. ... After this they lowered the flag, which had remained up during the whole time of offering, and, as the raft moved towards the shore, the shouting began again, with pipes, flutes and large teams of singers and dancers. With this ceremony the new ruler was received, and was recognized as lord and king. This is what is known as the ceremony of L’Homme D’or.
    – Giovanni da Verazzano describing a Muisca tradition
    ***

    While Portugal established Brazil, Spain plundered the Caribbean, and England built a political and economic sphere of influence among the Midewin cultures of East America, France sat on the sidelines in Europe for thirty years. King Francis I eventually decided to send his first expedition to the New World in 1523 led by Giovanni da Verrazano. The expedition neared the shores of Takamcook that spring, where he was warned by the English that the entirety of the Eastern Seaboard and its ports were controlled by the English. Initially refusing to heed the warning, the French expedition neared the Haudenosaunee ports of Mashowomuk and Manhattan, but in both cases was turned back by the English.

    In 1525, following the failure of the first expedition, King Francis decided to send Verrazano on another voyage, this time to the Caribbean. Spain had become wealthy thanks to the spice trade, gold mines, and sugar plantations of the tropics, so Francis hoped that the French would be able to establish their own presence in the region. The 1525 expedition of Giovanni da Verrazano would be much more successful. The French would explore primarily the islands of the Lesser Antilles and the Guiana shield, areas where the French would eventually set up their own colonies.

    However, by far the most important development of this voyage would be the French landing on the northwest corner of the South American continent at the mouth of the Camache River. On the east bank of the river was the settlement of a small local tribe of the same name. After learning the local language, he learned that the Kamash and other local peoples were part of a vast trade network that was dominated culturally and economically by a powerful federation that lived in the mountains inland, and that this federation, known as the Mouisca, could be reached by journeying up the river to where it was no longer navigable and ascending the nearby mountains. He would journey up the river and establish contact with the Zipa of the Muisca Federation, trading for spices and precious metals, which he brought back to France to impress the King. In subsequent voyages, the French settlement of Port Francois on the western bank of the River would grow into a prominent city.

    Meanwhile, in the south, the Spanish from their port at Panama would launch an expedition south in 1528 led by Pascual de Andagoya to explore the west coast of South America, having heard rumors of another large empire to the south. This voyage would lead the Spanish to discover the city of Tumbes, a major coastal city of Tawantinsuyu. Emperor Waskar, being geographically removed, was not aware of events in North America, but was nonetheless somewhat skeptical of the arriving Spaniards. Still, he would eventually reach the same trade deal as did the Meshica, and so Waskar would provide the Spanish with spices and minerals from the mines of the Andes in exchange for guns and horses, spurring further Inca expansion.

    Most of the expansion of the Inca would be directed north. Movement through the mountainous terrain was slow, but by 1537, the Inca had launched a full-scale invasion of the lands within the Muisca sphere of influence. In the Mouisca War, the Muisca would rally their North Andean allies along with the French to fight back the Incas, who were supported by Spain. In 1542, with neither side wishing to see continued destruction, particularly with the newly Protestant England as a potential threat, Spanish and French diplomats called for an end to the fighting and met in Bacata. Under this deal, the French would allow the Inca to annex Muisca lands in exchange for Franco-Muisca autonomy, including France’s right to maintain its current ports and construct other ports on Muisca land in the future.

    The Spanish, meanwhile, would continue their expansion in South America. After a failed attempt in 1541, Spain would successfully establish the settlement of Buenos Aires at the mouth of the Plate River in 1578 in a region that had come to be known as Argentina. When Spain and Portugal merged into the Iberian Union in 1580, Portuguese Brazil would also be incorporated into the same empire, and Iberia would begin to construct a series of forts throughout Argentina up to and into the still relatively undeveloped southern portions of Portuguese Brazil to protect the villages from the native tribes. While this region was garrisoned to some extent, it was still left quite vulnerable, a vulnerability that could be exploited.​
     
    Chapter 15: Power, Ports, Persecutions, Pirates, and Protestants
  • Chapter 15: Plains, Ports, Projects, Persecutions, Pirates, and Protestants

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    It was unmistakably an Isapanol ship. The Spanish flag was not there, but it was very clearly not an Ihnelish vessel.

    Policies had changed since the Spanish invasion. No mysterious ship could simply enter Shawasha harbor, and with an indigenous navy unlike any seen before in the history of the Americas, the Misians were able to stop and board the ship offshore. The crew of the ship looked quite similar to the men who had invaded six years prior, and they spoke a similar language. Yet, they were rather modestly dressed, and searching the stowage of the ship, there was little in the way of arms. There also appeared to be no other nearby ships. When they were interrogated as to their origin, the men responded back in the language of the Isapanoliaki and referenced the island of Kubao in their language, yet they seemed to refer to themselves not as Isapanoles, but as Hutiyos. Perhaps these men were spies, yet they seemed to be pleading desperately in a language that the Sipikapia’s agents did not understand well.

    After holding the captain of the boat on the ground at gunpoint for over an hour, Tuchutwah, the Sipikapia of Misia’s greatest port, stepped onto the ship. Tuchutwah was a native of Shawasha and a friend of the city’s previous Sipikapia who did not survive the war, and of all people, he was one to be bitter and distrustful of the Isapanoliaki. Still, his trauma and hatred had also driven him to ensure protection against these thalassocratic barbarians, and from books provided by the Ihnelish and captives taken during the war, he was able to intensively study and learn their language as well as anything else he could about their entire culture. As he stepped forward in his blue silk robe he instructed the agent in front of him to step to the side and ordered the captain to come up from the floor to his knees.

    “Who are you?” the Sipikapia demanded. “Who sent you? Where are you from, and why are you here? Are you an agent of the Spanish?”

    He could see that the man before him was trembling in genuine fear.

    “I am from what they call Spain,” he said, “But I am not of Spain, I am of Sepharad. My men and I have no loyalty to Spain. We are Jews, seeking refuge from the Spanish. They are our enemy just as much as yours.”

    The agent kept the gun aimed at the man’s head. The man’s eyes began to well up.

    “Please, we have nowhere else to go. The Inquisition has come to Cuba.”
    ***
    Mihsiwahk was triumphant. The Spanish, for decades now a major threat in the eyes of the Kilsu regime, had been defeated in open conflict. And now, hopefully, would be a time of peace.

    On land, peace would require the Misians to fight off attackers from the nomadic peoples to the west. Historically, these people were often significantly weaker than the Misians, but now the horse was beginning to make its way to the Great Plains. Following a series of raids made by men on horseback, the Misians would begin a campaign throughout the 1500s of hunting down encampments of marauders and burning them down, but often took more casualties overall than their attackers. The largest of these conflicts would be the Numunu-Karankawa Wars. The Karankawa were a people living along the coast between Misia and the Kotsui River that had throughout their history been controlled by the Misians, adopting the broader Misian culture albeit with its own regional differences, being rather removed from the Mississippian heartland. In more recent centuries, the land had been attacked by a Nawa tribe with a religion and culture somewhat similar to that of Mesoamerica. The Karankawa had lived under a united Nawa-ruled kingdom until the Great Death, in which most of the leadership died and the kingdom fractured into squabbling coastal city states. In the late 1550s, an expansionist Numunu League would begin expanding in the arid and semi-arid grasslands north and east of the Kotsoi River, raiding independent settled tribes who farmed along rivers as well as larger civilized peoples, such as the Dinei and the Karankawa. The leaders of different Karankawa towns would write to Cahoqua and Tenochtitlan for assistance. The Kilsu and the Meshica would both lead a campaign against the Numunu in the early to mid 1560s, splitting the Karankawa lands between them with the Kilsu taking the majority. The Dinei, meanwhile, would seize more of the hinterland, particularly along the river.

    Peace at sea, of course, would have to come through greater naval strength. Although the Kilsu had possessed an admirable fleet, it was not enough to protect themselves from the Spanish. The Misians therefore expanded their shipyards in their southern port cities. In particular, Shawasha, Mabila, and Kiawah would become the largest ship-building cities, constructing European-style ships. These ships would first be put to the test in 1540 when fighting between French and English ships broke out off Misia's Atlantic coast. Word travelled to the Emperor, who demanded that he would not allow any foreign power to restrict trade on Misia’s oceanic ports. As the fighting continued, a fleet set out from Kiawah led by Captain Wichawah Nunti that successfully surrounded the fleet and brought them into Kiawah. Messengers set by the emperor delivered an edict barring the English from stopping the French from trading at their ports. Thankful to the English for their alliance, the Misians would allow the English to trade freely without any tariffs, tariffs that were still applied to the French. Following the Edict of Kiawah, the French began to establish a presence in Kiawah and Yamacraw, although the English would continue to hold a monopoly on the ports of the northeast. The settlement of this dispute and the assertion of Misian sovereignty would be considered the last of the great achievements of Emperor Mamantwensah, who would die in 1543 at the age of 68. He would be succeeded by his son, Manawesquah II.

    Kiawah and Yamacraw would both undergo a boom during this period with the rise of trans-Atlantic trade becoming more important by the year. However, even greater developments had been taking place further north. The Haudenosaunee now had an empire stretching from the Great Lakes to ports of the Eastern Seaboard and wished to connect the two regions. The Grand Council had secured an agreement from the Misians for support in the construction of a canal, and the English would also agree to support the project. The question that remained was where. The Haudenosaunee knew that they wanted to connect Lake Eriron to Lake Ontario, but there was debate as to whether to construct the canal to the west side or east side of the Ogniara River. The west side would be shorter, but would involve a more extreme slope, while the east side would be longer yet on a more controlled slope, and would also have the benefit of passing through lands controlled by the Haudenosaunee prior to the arrival of the English. There was also an issue of how to connect the Great Lakes to the Muhekantuck River, which emptied into the Atlantic at Manhattan. Some suggested connecting this river to Lake Kaniatara to the north, which was itself connected to the Wepistuk River, bringing trade through the city of Kawanoteh, an idea mostly popular among the Kanienkeha sachems of the east. Meanwhile, the rest of the sachems preferred a longer canal that would pass through their lands in order to keep trade more secure from potential Wabanaki interference, which was a major motivation for easing transit to their own ports in the first place. These sachems would also cite the fact that a more southerly route may be less likely to freeze in the winter, a fact which would be pitched to both Cahoqua and St. John’s to receive their support. In order to achieve a consensus, the Council agreed to construct the Ogniara Canal east of the river, and would build both the Cheektowaga Canal and the Kaniatara Canal.

    To construct the canal, the Haudenosaunee would receive partial aid from both the Misians and the English. Seeing an advantage in the project, Mamantwensah would send his best engineers in late 1523 to oversee the construction of the project. Due to a shortage of cheap labor, the Haudenosaunee would purchase African slaves from the English, who in turn bought them from the Portuguese, in order to construct the canal. Most of the slaves that came to work on the canal would die due to a combonation of exhaustion, abuse, unsafe working conditions, and an inability to deal with the cold Haudenosaunee winter. Many of the sachems of the Grand Council were appalled by the conditions of the slaves, but due to the desire for these infrastructure projects, there was never enough of a consensus among them to liberate the slaves. For the thousands of survivors alive at the end of the construction in 1534, the Grand Council generally agreed to let them go free and accept them among their numbers, although they would not be able to vote for another generation. Many of the former slaves would intermarry. While some slavery would continue to exist primarily in the coastal ports working on the docks, this dark portion of Haudenosaunee history would often go forgotten to history.

    It is also worth noting that, due to slavery in North America, the mid to late 1520s also saw the spread of malaria from Spanish Calusa into the rest of the eastern portion of the continent, primarily around the southern coastal swamplands. While deadly, it was quickly discovered in the particularly miserable summer of 1527 that kina, a common medicine made from the bark of the tropical American tree of the same name, was able to successfully combat the disease. This knowledge quickly spread, nipping the potential pandemic in the bud. The increased demand for kina in the following years would provide an economic boon to the Meshica Empire and French Mouisca, which were the primary exporters. Around this time, the Misians and Tsenacommacans would also purchase some slaves to work in the tobacco fields, but this was generally on a small scale.

    Returning to the topic of trade, the two most important cities for trade would become Shawasha, which had historically been Misia’s most important port city, and Manhattan, which would explode in wealth and population during the construction of the canal and following its completion. Both Shawasha and Manhattan would see a large influx of merchants both from Europe as well as from nearby lands. Being the largest port on the eastern seaboard, Manhattan would also dominate the other captured cities culturally. Munsey Lenape, which was already used as a lingua franca among nearby coastal peoples, would remain the lingua franca of the Haudenosaunee coastal territories. The city of Manhattan, which originally just sat at the southern tip of the island bearing the same name, would gradually begin to expand up the island, the first city to do so since the Great Death. New homes, markets, administrative centers, and Midewigams were built, as was a thriving English community. However, perhaps even more interesting was the fact that as much as a third of the non-native population of Shawasha and half of the non-native population of Manhattan was Jewish.

    North American Jews, often referred to as Maaravim, were mostly made up of Sephardic exiles coming from Europe. While some small populations of Jewish merchants would work and live among the English, they generally maintained a low profile. While there were small Jewish congregations in St. John’s, the first true synagogue to be built in the New World was the Kahal B’nai Israel synagogue in Manhattan built in 1518, which then moved to a larger building in 1532 due to the rapidly increasing Jewish population. Sekharya Halefi, an early member of the congregation, would even be a member of the conscripts that went to fight the Spanish in Misia, leading a small contingent of fellow Jews eager to stick it to the Spanish. In Shawasha, the first Jewish communities would come later. In 1528, a ship filled with crypto-Jewish conversos from Havana arrived in Shawasha fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, which had arrived in Cuba earlier that year. The Jews were held at gunpoint offshore by the Misian navy until the well-educated Sipikapia Tuchutwah, who understood Spanish and learned about the circumstances of the Spanish Inquisition, allowed the Jews to settle in the city, establishing the first permanent Jewish community in Misia. Tuchutwah and Emperor Mamantwensah would both come to be remembered fondly in Jewish history.

    The Jewish population, particularly in Shawasha, was treated generally with suspicion. Misia had recently fought a war to get rid of the Spanish, a war in which Shawasha was directly affected, and now there were men who came from the same place and spoke the same language living in their city. In May 1529, a group of Misians attacked the Mikve Tziyon Synagogue, which had been constructed from an old Midewikiam that had been abandoned during the plague, in the small Jewish quarter, although forces were quickly sent to protect the community, and there were only two deaths and about a dozen casualties. While there was some resentment among the uneducated masses, much of the elite as well as those among the people who had come to learn more about the Jewish community were quite sympathetic to them. Still, the greatest degree of solidarity that the Jews of Shawasha found was among the Taino community. Much like the Jews, the Taino were a people in diaspora who were displaced by the Spanish and found relative safety among the Misians albeit while facing some discrimination. A similar solidarity would also be found among Jews and Tainos in Manhattan, where the Taino population was also beginning to grow.

    In particular, Jews and Tainos were active on the high seas as pirates attacking Spanish ships. A typical pirate ship was quite diverse, with Jews, Tainos, Misians, and even some Englishmen. Many legends would arise about Guarocuya Paharona, the Taino pirate captain with his diverse crew more commonly known to the Spanish as “Captain Enriquillo”, and the Shawasha-born Jewish hero Daniel Leon, who founded the legendary pirate hideout of Nuevo Masada in the Bahamas, from which he and countless other pirates were able to terrorize Spanish ships in the Southern Seas. These pirates would often become buccaneers, receiving funding directly from Cahoqua to continue their activities, and were able to sell their gold, sugar, and spices to the Misians and English. Captain Enriquillo and other captains would very often liberate slave ships and kidnap Spanish Christians of Taino descent. The Christian Tainos would typically be forced to convert back to their Zemist ways. The freed slaves would often combine their own native African traditions with those of Midewiwin, Judaism, and Zemism, establishing the modern basis of the Futu religion common in Southern Misia today.

    Jewish thought would also take influence from local customs. Manhattan would become the center of Maaravi Kabbalah. In 1562, Rabbi Parukh pen Afraham (also referred to as Rabava) would write Sefer Marpe Ruach, commonly referred to simply as the Sefer Marpe or Marpe Ruach, which was a mystical work commenting on the Zohar, Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, and aspects of Jewish history influenced heavily by Midewin tradition, involving concepts of spiritual healing and medicine that were considered important to Midewins. In 1574, the Haudenosaunee would reform their political system to give some voting power to the Wenro and former Wyandot tribes, expanding democracy within their borders. Tafit Sacuto, after visiting the Haudenosaunee capital of Onondaga and learning about their political system later that year, would return to Manhattan and publish With Regards to Federation and Democracy in 1575, a work which praised the political freedoms of the Haudenosaunee people in deciding the fate of their government, and would also praise the Haudenosaunee state for its tolerance of Jews, Christians, and Zemists despite its Mide majority. This work would become widespread throughout Europe, eventually influencing Enlightenment thinkers.

    While Jews were able to thrive in the New World, English Catholics were not. In late 1534, news would arrive from England that the newly formed Church of England had
    split from Papal authority. Some Englishmen, rejecting the change, would flee to the Spanish Caribbean, mainly to Calusa or Cuba, only to find themselves subject to the harsh inquisition. While there was some protest, such as a minor riot in Cheektowaga that was swiftly put down by the Haudenosaunee military and their English allies, isolation from any other Catholic power made the maintenance of Catholicism near impossible, and so the majority simply went along without much of a fuss. The most notable protest was in 1535, when a group of Catholics in St. John’s marched to the southern side of the Avalon peninsula of Southeastern Takamcook to form the village of St. Mary’s on St. Mary’s Bay. With the help of their Beothuk allies on the island, the English marched on St. Mary’s in 1536, finding that the village was struggling to survive the winter.

    The brief reign of Mary I did not have much of an effect on religion in the New World. The Takamcook-Misia Company continued operations as usual, and was highly effective at defending itself from the potentially hostile French and Spanish forces. In Yamacraw, a few dozen Frenchmen attempted to march on the English quarter to revert them to Catholicism in 1557, but the Misian authorities quickly intervened and put an end to the fighting.

    While religious tensions were somewhat cooled on the North American mainland, they were heating up in Europe, and the English intervention into the Spanish Netherlands in 1585 would bring war to the New World.​
     
    Chapter 16: L'Shanah HaBa'ah
  • Chapter 16: L'Shanah HaBa'ah

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    It was that time of year when the late autumn gave way to winter, yet it was as warm and pleasant as ever. Daniel, or Taniel, as many of the mainlanders called him, had seen the changing leaves and snowfall up north in the lands of Tsenacommacah and Haudenosaunia. He had sailed up to chilly Manhattan several times to visit his kin at the great synagogue of Kahal B’nai Israel. He had also sailed upriver from Shawasha, the city where he had grown up which he still frequently visited, to visit the benevolent Emperor who aided him in his endeavors. Still, he spent most of his winters where he spent most of his time– down in the warmth of the Southern Seas.

    Nuevo Masada, a base located in nominally Spanish territory which he had established years prior in the isles of the Bahamas, had grown into a full-fledged metropolis of pirates and buccaneers from across the Southern Seas who would exchange sugar and spices and bullion seized from Spanish ships with merchants based in the mainland. The base was a diverse place. There were, of course, Sephardic-Maaravic Jews such as himself, as well as Tainos, who had historically been indigenous to these islands and were able to find refuge among their allies. Englishmen, liberated Africans, Misians, Tsenacommacans, Haudenosaunees, Lenapes, Wabanakis, and even a few Mayans and Nawas joined together on this island hideaway to take part in the looting and plundering of Spanish treasure ships. He no longer spent quite as much time on the high seas as his fellow pirates, spending much of his time maintaining his underground empire from his island home among the palm trees, yet from the center of his empire he would still maintain his fearsome reputation among Spanish sailors and remain a specter haunting the minds of the Spanish authorities.

    He would march forth onto the docks every year and erect a nine-pronged candelabra, not unlike the seven-pronged candelabra that burned constantly outside his verifiable palace of a home. By now, most of the people who lived on the island or frequented it around this time, whether Jewish or not, understood that for eight nights every year, Captain Daniel Leon would invite everyone to a feast of fried foods and gambling that would always begin each night with the lighting of the candelabra. And on this night, as the sun set over the horizon, the Lion of the Bahamas stood before his men with the center candle known as the shamash in his hand prepared to light the other eight candles to mark the final night of the festival.

    “Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukah.”

    As usual, many of the native mainlanders struggled to pronounce the bet and the dalet, and many other struggled to pronounce a number of other sounds in the blessing or even to follow along with the words they did not understand in the first place, but like everyone else on the island, they always joined their Jewish crewmates and compatriots in celebrating the annual ritual.

    “Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melekh ha’olam, she’asah nisim la’avoteinu bayamim haheim baz’man hazeh.”

    And with that, the famous pirate lit all eight candles and placed the one which he held back into its place at the center of the candelabra elevated above the rest.

    “My friends,” he said, “tonight, as we are every night, we are blessed to have everyone– Jew, Taino; Englishman, African; Misian, easterner; people of all nations gathered together to experience the light of the Hanukiah. Tonight is the last night of our festival, but we must remain merry and joyful throughout the year, as we remember the story of the rededication of our temple and carry that story as an inspiration throughout the year. Whether we were forced out of our homes or invaded by those who seek to destroy us, the story of the brave warrior forefathers to all of Israel who fought for their freedom against the tyranny and desecration of the Greeks is a reminder to us that hope can never be lost. Whether it be the Babylonians or the Greeks or the Romans or the Spanish, there will always be forces of darkness that seek to destroy us, but we will always resist, and we will always fight back to reclaim that which is ours. War may be upon us soon. It has already begun between England and Spain across the sea, and it is only a matter of time before it will be up to us to strike against Amalek like we never have before, but when we win, we will rededicate all that we have lost. God willing, we shall celebrate next year in Pikate, next year in Ayiti, and next year in Jerusalem.”

    All of the men surrounding Daniel on the dock began chanting “L’Shanah HaBa’ah”, a Hebrew term that had become an anti-Spanish slogan among the pirates of the Caribbean. Surrounded by other smaller candelabras, the men feasted on fried dough and fish and drank wine and balche. They gambled gold and silver and other precious goods into the night. All the while, the great Menorah stood over the docks, its nine candles in all of their glory lighting up the waters of the Atlantic. Nuevo Masada may have been created as a hideaway, but tonight, it revealed its true purpose– as a beacon, a place not just for illegal activities, but for the hope of all humankind in the pursuit of liberation.​
     
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    Chapter 17: The Anglo-Spanish War
  • Chapter 17: The Anglo-Spanish War

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    Captain Garcia lounged on the deck of La Magdalena, the warm sun and mild breeze of the Straits of Calusa rejuvenating him as he relaxed. The voyage was not a complex one. All he had to do was bring supplies, mainly firearms and gunpowder, from Havana, Cuba to Tequesta, Calusa, an expedition so peaceful a child could lead it. All he had to do was sit back and relax as the ship merrily made its way across the bright aquamarine sea.

    “Captain,” he said, “there’s another ship approaching.”

    “Is one of our own?”

    “It appears so.”

    Captain Garcia arose from his seat and squinted across the sparkling waters. A ship was indeed coming closer, and it bore the Cross of Burgundy on a yellow banner. The ship continued to near his own, drawing closer and closer with every second. Suddenly, mere yards away, the ship lowered the Cross of Burgundy and raised a black flag with a white skull-like face with two curved arms coming from each side forming the shape of a tilde– unmistakable as the Black Juracan– the flag of…

    “Captain Enriquillo!” the men shouted and scrambled across the deck. They had all heard of the legends of the Taino captain who had slaughtered countless Christian Spaniards on the high seas. Garcia turned around and saw that there were two more ships flanking La Magdalena from the other sides. His men drew their muskets and pistols preparing to defend.

    Boom! Crack!

    A cannon had fired from the first ship and knocked over the mast, which was now crashing onto the deck, throwing the crew into disarray as the pirates circled the ship. Garcia noticed one man had his leg caught under the mast of the ship and went to help him.

    “Help us!”

    Two crewmates came over to help move the mast as he yanked. After pulling him out and helping him to his feet, Captain Garcia looked around and noticed that his ship was fully ensnared by the enemy, which had begun to lay planks across the walls and board his ship. The men immediately dropped their weapons and held their hands to their sides at shoulder height. Garcia turned around and a thin African man dressed with a headwrap and corn-linen trousers held a knife to his throat.

    “Who here is the captain of this ship?”

    Garcia heard and raised his hand above the rest in response to the heavily accented Spanish.

    “Kinte,” he said to the black man with the knife, followed by instruction in a language he was not familiar with telling him to stand down. Kinte obliged.

    “Well, Captain, it is an honor to meet you.”

    Captain Enriquillo stood before him. He was a Taino man of golden brown complexion and a relatively modest stature who was nonetheless rather intimidating. His face was smooth and flawless with only a simple scar across his cheek, likely from a blade. Despite his tropical islander heritage, he dressed remarkably like a European, wearing light stockings under a maroon tunic with a feather in his hat. Around his neck, however, was a silver amulet that was unmistakably identical to the symbol of Juracan on the flag seen on his ships.

    “Captain Enriquillo, is it?”

    “The name is Guarocuya Paharona, but that is what the Isapanoles call me.”

    “I don’t want any trouble. Just do what you want and go, but please don’t hurt my crew. We’re just traders.”

    “Traders?” asked Paharona. “Tell me, what cargo are you carrying? Sugar? Gold? Spices?”

    Garcia froze up. Paharona smiled.

    “Ammunitions, is it?” he smirked. “Did you think you could really get away with carrying arms for the evil empire in my waters?”

    “Take what you need and go.”

    “Tell me, is that what the Isapanoles did when they came to the land of Ayiti, the land of my ancestors since the dawn of time? Did they simply demand tribute and leave? Yet here you are, on your ship from one stolen piece of land to another, arming the empire responsible for the vast death and destruction across the Southern Seas and demanding mercy.”

    “I suppose it is just like an infidel savage to engage in indiscriminate slaughter.”

    “If only you could hear yourself,” Paharona replied. “Be thankful this is one ship and not your entire civilization.”

    Paharona shouted to his men, followed by the crack of flintlocks and slashing of blades as the men on the ship cried out in agony to Christ. All that remained of the Spanish crew was the man who had his leg stuck, the two men who helped to move the mast, and Garcia himself.

    “Don’t worry, I won’t kill you. I need someone to send to Tekesta in a canoe to let the Isapanoles know exactly what it is like to be the few survivors of a great indiscriminate slaughter.”

    Paharona watched as several of his crew walked the survivors to a canoe. The boat was lowered into the water with the four men on board and sent off to the north in the direction of Tekesta.

    “What now captain?” asked a Misian crew member.
    “Glad you asked, Ochako,” Guarocuya replied. “Set course for Nuevo Masada.”
    ***

    No war was officially declared, but war effectively began in 1585, following the seizure of merchant ships in Spanish harbors. In response, the English began a campaign in the Canary Islands, seizing Lanzarote but failing to push much further. That August, England joined the Dutch Protestant United Provinces, which had declared their independence from Spain, and began fighting in the Low Countries in mainland Europe. Initially, the dutch campaign faced setbacks, and Queen Elizabeth was furious with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, for taking the offer of Governor of the United Provinces. Still, the English faced some successes, taking Axel in July and Doesburg the following month. Unfortunately for the English, Dudley’s poor diplomacy skills resulted in the weakening of both his political base and his military situation, leading to him being recalled as the English continued to struggle in the Netherlands.

    Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the Takamcook-Misia Company began an attack on the Spanish Caribbean. A fleet led by Tobin Cornett set out from St. John’s, picking up more recruits on the way south. Rather than attack the New Spanish capital of Havana, the English made for the island of Hispaniola. An initial attack on Santo Domingo in May 1586 would prove unsuccessful, but an attack on the lightly-defended Duhozemi on June 2 would prove successful, and the English would manage to hold onto the city until the last day of the month after reinforcements arrived from Cuba to force them out.

    Although ultimately the Hispaniola Campaign ended in failure, it galvanized complete Taino support behind the English. As word spread of the fact that the English temporarily forced the Spanish out of their sacred city, young Taino men from all over the diaspora sought to become pirates and privateers to attack the Spanish. They were joined by other men who sought to take part in the war against Spain, especially the Maaravim. Misian Emperor Mahsihtaqua, who had not yet entered the war in an official capacity, began to increase funds to privateers. Captain Enriquillo, already a folk hero to the Tainos and a nightmare to any Spanish sailors who had heard of him, achieved legendary status and became a household name. As captain of the Black Huracan, he would fly the flag of the same name, a flag which would become a symbol for pirates in the Southern Seas, and attack countless Spanish supply ships and warships. 1586 to 1588 would be golden years for anti-Spanish piracy.

    On April 12, 1588, King Philip of Spain would launch an armada to attack England with the endorsement of the Pope, hoping to install a Catholic monarch. Meanwhile, on May 28, a fleet from Cuba would begin to attack St. John’s and Manhattan. Both of these events would disrupt the English War effort in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, that summer, the Spanish would collaborate with the Meshica fleet in the South Misian Sea to prevent Misian aid from privateers, This would see the Misian fleet begin to engage in several small skirmishes on the South Misian Sea, usually not with much success against the combined Spanish-Meshica force.

    That year, on the evening of August 1, which was also the Jewish day of mourning of Tisha B’Av, the Spanish fleet, which had been scanning the Bahamas for years by this point, had finally found the outpost Nuevo Masada. There, hundreds of pirates and privateers were gathered, including Captain Leon who ran the outpost as well as the infamous Captain Enriquillo. After being rallied by the Lion of the Bahamas, all of the pirates agreed to fight to the last man. The entire island went out in a blaze of glory, defending their home against the Spanish, with legends saying that Leon was the last to die. The one surviving witness was Miriam Leon, Daniel’s daughter, who managed to flee to Yamacraw where she spread word of the tragedy of Nuevo Masada.

    Immediately, hearing that the Spanish were up to their old ways and learning that many of those killed at Nuevo Masada were Misians, calls for war spread across the Empire. On September 24, 1588, Mahsihtaqua issued an official declaration of war against Spain, and issued an order for forces in the southeast to push south into the Pikate peninsula. On October 17, Misian forces attacked Spanish-controlled Osachit along the coast but were pushed back north. On November 2, a large Spanish-Calusa force attacked Yamacraw, but were pushed back by the Misians along with the small number of English and French inhabitants of the city. Lothaire Julien, the leader of the small French community in Yamacraw, would write to Paris requesting France intervene in the war, although Henry III would not heed this request. The Spanish and Calusa would make another offensive, attacking Apalachiqua to the west and successfully occupying the South Misian port in December that year. On Christmas, the now-mobilized Misians marched onto Apalachicola from the north and west, and a Misian fleet arrived south of the city, winning over the Spanish navy. During a January offensive, the Misians marched south into the Pikate Peninsula, seizing Osachit with its overwhelming numerical advantage and pushing southward. Tanpa would fall on January 22, leaving Tekesta and the surrounding areas as the last major safe haven for the Spanish. The Spanish force was concentrated in this small piece of land, and the seas to the east and south were still controlled for the most part by Spain, while the swampland to the west was controlled by the Calusa, who would continue to fight the Misians. Eliseo Gomez, the Spanish governor of Calusa, would write to Havana on the desperation of the situation, leading Havana to send a letter to Meshica, demanding they fully enter the war.

    On February 19, Awitzotl II would order a full-scale attack on the Misians. By this time, the Spanish had been pushed out of Tekesta, with most of the force retreating to the Bahamas while many Calusa in the southeastern swamplands maintained a guerilla campaign. For the Calusa in the swamp and the Spanish in the Bahamas, the Meshica invasion of Misia was a blessing. In early March, the Meshica pushed north into Misian Karankawa, and the Misians would have to rush forces over to the relatively lightly defended area. By the time Misia had brought enough troops to turn the tide in May, the Meshica already controlled Sakuqua, posing a significant threat to Misia’s major southern ports. For the most part, fighting would stall around Sakuqua. Despite their larger population, the Misians found that they were outmatched by the Meshica cavalry and navy. While Misia could keep sending troops at the Meshica and prevent them from advancing further, the Misians themselves were unable to gain ground, leading the front to stall.

    With Misia and allies mainly holding down the Spanish in the Caribbean, the English were primarily focused in the Netherlands. Despite their initial setbacks, the English and the Dutch were achieving victory after victory over the Spanish. Meanwhile, the war began to spill over into France, with the Protestant King Henry IV leading the Huguenots against the Catholic League. During the Siege of Paris in 1590, King Henry and the Huguenots took the city from the Catholic League. Meanwhile, seeing the opportunity to open up a new front against the forces of the Iberian Union, Sir Francis Drake would lead an expedition in 1590 to attack the Spanish settlement of Buenos Aires on the Plate River in March. He would also successfully seize the southern Brazilian ports of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which had a relatively larger Portuguese population but were still rather small outposts compared to the large Portuguese settlements to the north.

    Calusa had fallen. The Low Countries were united. Argentina had been lost. The Protestants were winning in France. The Meshica mostly dominated the Southern Seas, but Misian ports remained out of reach. The Karankawa front had stagnated, as had the front between the Misians and Spanish in the Bahamas and Caribbean, where the Spanish defense had now consolidated quite significantly. On all sides, combatants were beginning to grow weary. In 1593, Queen Elizabeth, King Philip II, King Henry IV, Emperor Mahsihtaqua, and Emperor Awitzotl II would all gather in London to sign a treaty.​
     
    Chapter 18: The Treaty of London
  • Chapter 18: The Treaty of London
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    The Treaty of London marked a key point in the history of European-American relations. For the first time, two great American emperors were seated together an ocean away from their homelands, face to face with the monarchs of Europe. In particular, the meeting between Mihsahtaqua and Philip II was the first time that there would be any sort of diplomatic relations between Misia and Spain as the leaders of these two countries that were historically bitter enemies were forced to confront each other.

    In France, Henry VI was recognized as the monarch, and the Protestant Huguenots were recognized as victorious in their campaigns. Spain would be forbidden from attempting to exert any influence on the Catholics of France, who were still a majority, to rise up against their Protestant monarchy. In turn, France would be forbidden from persecuting anyone for their Christian beliefs. The entirety of the Spanish Netherlands, meanwhile, would join the Dutch Republic, which would also pledge religious tolerance.
    In South America, Spain would agree to fully withdraw from the French sphere of influence in Inca-controlled Muisca lands. The English would also receive the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, previously controlled by Spain.

    Further south, the English would also receive Argentina, including much of what was previously considered to be southern Brazil. England would annex the cities of Sao Paulo (now called St. Paul), Rio de Janeiro (now called Janera), and Buenos Aires (now called Bonusairs), which King Philip saw as more trouble than it was worth. After all, the core of Portuguese colonization in Brazil was where all of the money was to be made. These southern colonies were all quite peripheral. The English would shortly after begin sending settlers to these towns and distributing the fertile farmland of the coast and the Plate River to the incoming colonizers, quickly outnumbering the Spanish and Portuguese populations.

    In mainland North America, Misia would agree to give up most of its Karankawa land to Meshica. The city Sakuqua and the surrounding areas would be returned to the Misians, with the Nokaki River becoming the border.

    After nearly a century of Spanish rule, Spain recognized Pikate as Misian territory, and agreed to facilitate the withdrawal of Spaniards and Calusa Christians out of the peninsula. The Calusa were not consulted on this situation, leading to the Calusa Revolt in 1594. The Misians would crack down, banning any Christian iconography among the natives of the peninsula and slaughtering entire populations who refused to either leave or revert back to Midewiwin. Notably, in the city of Tekesta, as much as 40% of the population was massacred in 1595, while the rest fled or converted. The fighting was most intense in the swamplands of the southwest, where many Calusa guerillas gathered, not being forced out completely until 1601. Much of the Spanish and Calusa population fleeing the peninsula would go to the Bahamas or Jamaica, where the Spanish hoped to strengthen their control through a greater population.

    Mihsahtaqua had hoped to convince the Spanish to give up some of their Caribbean territory to the Tainos, although the Spanish still maintained naval superiority in the region, so doing so would be impossible. Spain agreed to allow Tainos to live in their own communities in the Central American and South American colonies, but only a limited number would be permitted on the Caribbean islands. On the island of Hispaniola, a small community of 1000 Taino immigrants would be permitted to live on Hispaniola in what was effectively a ghetto in the city of Duhozemi. In exchange, Misia agreed to recognize Spanish rule in the Caribbean, stop financing and even crack down on piracy, and open up trade with the Spanish, although it could only be conducted by Misian ships registered with the Sipikapia. This latter condition was largely to the benefit of the Misians, who had been more or less unable to conduct trade with the Caribbean for about a century. The decision to open up trade with Spain was largely due to the fact that much of the trade for tropical goods came mostly from the Meshica Empire, which was now itself considered a hostile force, and although Pikate could satisfy some of the Misians’ needs, trade with Spain made more sense, since it would also seem to guarantee a lasting peace.

    When the terms of the treaty reached the New World, Tenochtitlan felt vindicated, having won a major victory against the historically dominant power on the continent, proving itself as Misia’s rival. While many Misians particularly in the Southwest were concerned with the encroaching Meshica, most celebrated the fact that the Spanish had been pushed entirely out of the mainland. Peace with the Spanish and the opening of trade relations was looked upon favorably by the majority of the population. Spain was recognized by many Misians as a historic threat, but the campaign of Hernan Cortes had been over 70 years ago, and few were alive to remember it, and thus there was not the same hatred of the Spanish instilled in the population.

    The Taino, meanwhile, felt betrayed by the treaty. In Mihsahqua’s declaration and among leaders throughout the war, a common slogan was to “drive the Spanish out of the Southern Seas”. The fact that not only were the Spanish still there, but also that the Misians recognized their rule, angered the population. Starting in late 1514, Taino living in coastal Misian cities would riot in protest of the treaty. This resulted in counter-riots in retribution committed by the local Misians against their Taino neighbors as part of an overall rise in anti-Tainoism. While cities like Shawasha and Mabila would continue to have large Taino populations, significant populations fled to other places like Pikate, the Meshica Empire, the Northeastern Seaboard, and ironically, parts of the Spanish Empire, where they were now legally mandated to protect small Taino populations. As per the Treaty of London, about 1000 Tainos from all over the diaspora (but with a majority from Misia) would end up in the old city of Duhozemi. The community of Tainos in what was once the Land of Ayiti came to be known as Ara’-Gua’cara– the “People of the Birth Land”–, often simplified as “the Aragua”. The Tainos of the early Aragua would merely be the first of many to return to the Land of Ayiti.​
     
    Chapter 19: The World in 1600
  • Chapter 19: The World in 1600
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    1600– seven years since the Treaty of London, 65 years since the Dinei conquest of Orayvi, 78 years since the first Spanish invasion of Misia, 83 years since the Treaty of St. John’s, 94 years since the union of Dadacia, 104 years since the arrival of Cabot, 108 years since the arrival of Columbus, 150 years since the formation of the Haudenosaunee federation, 162 years since the formation of the Inca Empire, 172 years since the formation of the Meshica Empire, and 188 years since the formation of the Kilsu Dynasty, 700 years since the end of the Mayan classical period, 1050 years since the reign of Thaampo I in Kutsan, and 1705 years since the formation of the Hileni Dynasty. The history of the Americas goes back thousands of years, but some of its most drastic changes had been seen within the last century. Since then, Hispaniola had come under the full control of the Spanish, as had the other islands of the Greater Antilles which the Taino had once called home; populations all over the continent would rapidly decline due to disease before rebounding at unprecedented rates; new technology and strife across many states allowed those strongest and most advanced to emerge as regional hegemons. Spain ruled the Caribbean. Portugal ruled Brazil. England ruled Takamcook and Argentina and dominated trade between Europe and East America. France took whatever minor trading posts it could get. Although there had been many native American states for millennia, due to European colonialism and consolidation, there were now only eight major native states– Kilsu Misia, the Meshica Empire, the Inca Empire, the Haudenosaunee Federation, the Federation of Tsenacommacah, the Wabanaki Federation, the Dinei Empire, and the Kingdom of Dadacia. There were also significant diaspora populations, particularly of Tainos and Jews.

    Misia was by far the largest nation in the Americas. Although its pre-Columbian population of 60 million would collapse by a total of 80% from disease, the survivors were quite prosperous. There was far more room to move into cities, and farmland had been redistributed to those who remained loyal to the Emperor and stayed on the land, and new crops and animals arrived from Europe. While disease still posed a threat, Misia, like many other parts of the Americas, was able to recover significantly, reaching a population of 40 million by the end of the century, making it the third largest state in the world after Ming China (150 million) and Mughal India (56 million). Cahoqua remained the largest city with its population of nearly 400,000. The city of Shawasha came in second at just over 200,000. Following Shawasha, the largest cities were Mabila (130,000), Shicaqua (100,000), Washtanoqua (80,000), Nicota (67,000), Kiawah (56,000), and Yamacraw (50,000). Tekesta, Tanpa, and Osachit were relatively small following the Spanish withdrawal and the war against the Christians, but were quickly gaining population as Misian settlers were starting to move into the land.

    To the east, the Haudenosaunee ruled the eastern Great Lakes, the Upper Wepistook, and the most valuable ports of the Eastern Seaboard from Mashowomuk to the Cape of Akomak. Although the city of Onandaga served as the capital of the Federation, it was just barely the largest city. Even prior to European contact, it typically competed with the capitals of other major constituent nations before eventually surpassing them, but now its population was actually neck-in-neck with Cheektowaga and Kawanoteh. However, now other cities were starting to rise. Manhattan had seen rapid growth since the construction of the Eriron Canal, and was on the verge of passing the other three. To the north, the Wabanaki had a far smaller population, but useful ports of their own from which they were able to export lumber, syrup, grapes, wine, and berries. Cadeskit and Machigon, although smaller than other major American cities, were the largest cities, and were useful centers for shipbuilding. Despite its often swampy coast, Tsenacommacah had valuable ports of its own, including Chesapeake, Potapskut, and the capital of Werocomoco, from which the English purchased large quantities of tobacco and other goods. The populations of the Haudenosaunee, Tsenacommacah, and Wabanaki were 4 million, 3 million, and 500,000 respectively. In the Haudenosaunee lands, one third of the population lived in the territories captured during the Atlantic Wars, referred to as the “Coastal” or “Lenape Territories”, even though large portions did not yet identify themselves as Lenape at the time. English Takamcook, meanwhile, had a population numbering in the tens of thousands.

    To the west, the Dinei Empire ruled over a population of around 1.5 million, of which about half lived in Kutsan and on the Kumeyay coast. The empire had tried to expand north unsuccessfully while facing some minor rebellions. Indeed, the concept of empire was quite new in Oasisamerica, having been enabled entirely by the horse. While Natani Nez was the capital, the city of Yuum was the largest. Outside of the Western portion of the empire, the largest city was Tuf Shur Tia. Oravyi, although a significant trade and religious hub, remained quite small.

    Further west, the expansion of the Dadacians had more or less stagnated. Although they controlled the bay area and most of the central valley, the mountainous terrain and many small tribes made expansion difficult, especially as horses were defused. The kingdom had a population of around 2 million, supported by the vast fertile land. While it had rebounded, much like the Dinei Empire, it had not yet seen the same massive regrowth in other parts of the Americas. Still, Socoisuka remained the most populous city, followed by Yelapu.

    To the south, Meshica Empire ruled the entirety of Mesoamerica. Although the Mesoamericans had seen a similar population collapse as their colleagues to the north, they had significantly rebounded to a population of 15 million. Around the time contact was made with the Spanish, between a quarter or a third of Mesoamerica’s population lived under Meshica rule. Now, it was 100%. Although it was diverse, the eastern portion shared a Mayan culture, while the western portion was becoming majority Nawa as surrounding peoples were encouraged to adopt Nawa culture. Unity was further fostered by victory over the “Misiwatecs”, which was seen as a sign of divine favor from the gods. This divine favor, of course, did not prevent the spread of Christianity. Although the religion remained small, missionaries had carried it inland, and now as many as half a million Mesoamericans were practicing Christianity in secret. Tenochtitlan had seen its population rebound to around 150,000, and as the center of the gold and spice trade, it had become perhaps the wealthiest city in the entire world. The next largest city was the port of Zempoala, which boasted a population of around 100,000.

    Tawantisuyu, referred to in this period as the Inca Empire, home to 10 million, stretched across the Andes all the way to the Caribbean in the north, where the French held their sphere of influence over the autonomous Muisca Suyu, home to about a fifth of the population. Although Qusqu remained the largest city in the empire, the port cities were now growing the fastest, particularly Tumbes and Wayakil in the north, Ichima in the south, and Port Francois on the Caribbean coast. It would be from these ports that spices, cacao, llama and alpaca wool, and minerals mined from the Andes would be exported.

    Crossing from the Pacific or Atlantic, goods from the Inca Empire would pass through Spanish Central America, typically through Panama or through Rivas in Nicaragua. From there, it would usually stop at the island of Cuba, the center of Spanish power in the New World. In addition to the Greater Antilles and Central America, the colony of Parias on the northern coast of South America. At the time, Spanish America was home to only around 1-2 million people. In Portuguese Brazil, at the time also part of the Iberian Union, the population was far smaller at only around 50,000.

    South of Brazil, English Argentina was just getting started. It was home to only a few thousand people, but immigrant populations were starting to come in pursuit of gold. Sir Walter Raleigh had begun leading British expeditions to the colonies of Bonusairs, Janera, and St. Paul, and up the River Plate to create new settlements, allotting farmland to thousands of new English settlers.

    In addition to large states, the Taino and Jewish diasporas were farming large cultures of their own. Both generally were confined to cities, making up part of the mercantilist cast. For the Tainos, Shawasha and Mabila were still the largest centers of settlement, with other major centers including Sacuqua, Apalachiqua, Yamacra, Kiawah, Zempoala, Cozumel, and Chetumal. There were growing population centers now as well in Manhattan, Chesapeake, and other northeastern cities, as well as in the newly conquered cities of Pikate. Almost paradoxically, there was also a growing Taino diaspora population living in Spanish America. A community of about 1000 moved to live in Duhozemi, and many were joined by Taino conversos who had kept their identities hidden from the inquisition and chose to revert back to Zemism, which the Spanish were often reluctant to crack down on due to a desire to avoid conflict with the Misians. The total Taino population at the time was around 300,000. The Jewish population was primarily concentrated along the Eastern Seaboard and along the southern ports of Misia. Manhattan and Shawasha were by far the two largest centers of Maaravi Jewry, so much so that Jews of the seaboard referred to themselves as the “Munsayim”, while the Jews of southern Misia referred to themselves as “Shavashim”. In total, there were around 25,000 Jews in the New World, with about two thirds of them being Munsayim and one third being Shavashim.

    In total, close to 80 million people lived in the Americas around this time. Although this number was less than it was in 1492, it was also far greater than it was at the start of the century, thanks to massive population growth driven by plentiful resources, newly found political stability due to increased political consolidation, and new crops, livestock, and technology brought by Europeans. As populations began to reapproach their pre-Columbian level, people would still continue to demand to be able to maintain their previous standard of living, and while the international system seemed stable, the demographic bomb would pave the way for internal changes within the different American societies.​
     
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    Chapter 20: The Tip of the World
  • Chapter 20: The Tip of the World

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    Compared to the historically densely populated lands of Mesoamerica to the east and the Far West to the north, the peninsula of Cochima was historically quite barren. In the north, the Mediterranean climate was home to the Kumeyai. Still, most of the landmass was dominated by hunter-gatherer tribes such as the Cochimi, Monki, and Waikuri, illiterate people who wandered the mountainous deserts feeding on game and cacti and occasionally invading their neighbors– including both each other and Kutsan and Kumeyai. The eventual introduction of domesticated bighorn sheep near the end of the first millennium would cause many tribes to adapt a pastoral lifestyle, but pasture was often difficult to find. In other words, Cochima was like Oasisamerica, but with far fewer oases.

    Towards the southern end of the peninsula, the Pericu people lived relatively easier lives than their northern cousins. The harsh desert gave way to semi-arid montane forests and grasslands, although most of their culture was actually maritime, fishing the Aztlan Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. To the north, the mountainous terrain provided some protection from their neighbors, who would often attack. However, due to the greater Pericu population density, the Pericu were generally able to either fight off their attackers or at the very least retain their vibrant culture.

    Naturally, standing where the Aztlan Sea meets the Pacific with a developed maritime culture, the Pericu were perfectly situated to establish mercantile centers. There is evidence that the Pericu were to some extent the facilitators of trade since ancient times, although this especially took off with the rise of Kutsan. In the 400s CE, shortly after the formation of the Kamya Channel permanently connecting the Haquat River to the Kamya Sea, the archaeological record shows a significant uptick in trade passing through Periqua lands. In around 570 CE, King Thaampo I, founder of a new dynasty and the first Maasawist king of Kutsan, established a formal presence in Pericu land, which Kutsan records suggest was in order to aid them against the invasion of the neighboring Waikuri who were disrupting trade. This Kutsan presence was mostly non-intrusive, but it resulted in significant developments. Although fishing, hunting, and foraging would remain important, Kutsan also introduced turkeys and agriculture. The coast was generally drier and less suitable for agriculture, but the somewhat more fertile hinterland that was not able to benefit from the mariculture could now benefit from growing crops. They would grow little barley, nopales, sunflowers, tomatoes, and even the three sisters, featuring varieties of maize relatively more suited to arid climates, and trade with the coastal settlements for fish and goods from far off lands that had arrived overseas. The Pericu would even begin to cultivate their own rare varieties of peppers that would become prized throughout the continent. By the year 1000, Pericu wool (much of which in reality came from other Cochiman tribes) came to be seen as a luxury on Mesoamerican markets.

    In addition to agriculture, Kutsan would also bring Maasawism. Being isolated from the primary centers of the already decentralized religion to the north, Pericu Maasawism developed its own flavor. It was influenced by Kutsan Maasawism, which itself had absorbed many elements of local pre-Maasawist mythology and customs, but also largely by its own traditional mythology. Maasawists all over shared a common belief in a powerful creator god with a son typically known as Maasaw who guided and watched over humanity, instructing him in his peaceful ways, as well as common religious texts and a veneration of Orayvi as a holy city. In Pericu, the local creator god Niparaya was merged with the Maasawist figure, taking on its own name. Niparaya’s third and final son, referred to as Wac or Tuparan depending on the sect (with Tuparan eventually winning out and becoming more common), was merged with the figure of Maasaw, and a number of local stories came to be ascribed to Maasaw. Through trade, the Pericu sect would come to influence other sects on the Cochiman Peninsula. In addition to existing religious texts, these stories were written down and made part of the local religious canon as well, making use of the writing system that was also introduced by Kutsan.

    With the rise of major civilizations in the north and the advent of agriculture, the Pericu grew richer and more populous, and major Pericu settlements grew into thriving ports. The two most dominant of these were Yenecami, located on the southern tip of the peninsula, and Airapi, located on a natural harbor by the Aztlan Sea towards the northern end of Pericu land near the border of historically Waikuri territory. Facing the open ocean, Yenecami and nearby settlements would have to develop as expert sailors, while Airapi with its protection from the ocean and the threat of invasion from the Waikuri and other tribes would have to develop militarily. Typically, especially with the influence of Maasawism and the interconnectedness of trade, there would be relative peace compared to antiquity. The cities would often join together to fend off invaders from the Cochiman desert, although there were still periods of intense rivalry and even conflict, with Yenecami and Airapi typically being the major players.

    As the population increased, some Pericu began to expand. Some tried to go east to the mainland where they already had a mercantile presence, but following a large influx of men with their sheep, the local rulers with their vastly superior forces sacrificed them, killed their sheep, and outlawed shepherding. The Pericu would maintain some presence on the west coast of Mesoamerica, but purely in a mercantile role, for which they were typically exempted from human sacrifice. Relations with Mesoamerica would also remain important for access to greater quantities of wood for shipbuilding. By contrast, the Pericu would succeed in establishing themselves as a dominant force in settlements to the north on the coast of the peninsula and on the islands off the coast. Some time before the year 800, the Pericu would establish a thriving port at Awaa Cala, a port on a large Pacific lagoon with great salt formations, leading the city to become not only one node on a vast trade network, but also a primary center of the salt trade, making it one of the wealthiest cities on the West Coast. They famously built the Great Tupuran Kiva of Awaa Cala in the middle of the tenth century. Although Pericu architecture was usually famously rather plain, the Great Tupuran Kiva made use of gold as well as imported marble, the latter of which being meant to represent the wealth from the salt trade with its white color. It would be conquered by a Cochimi tribe in the following century, which would establish their own dynasty to rule over the city. In the year 1342, Hamla Hathpa, the king of Awaa Cala, would make a famous pilgrimage to Orayvi, passing through the old Pericu heartland, the Aztlan Sea, and up the Haquat River, distributing gold, spices, and salt to many of the villages he encountered on the way, not unlike Mansa Musa in Africa, albeit on a smaller scale. A number of Pericu would also settle on the Awnichma Isles farther to the north alongside the Tongva and the Chumash.

    The expansion of the Pericu would also bring a small degree of agriculture to the nomadic tribesmen of the desert. One group originating from Airapi would settle in the oasis of Kaaman Kagaleha, which had been settled by the Mulehe tribe of Cochimi for over a century. The Pericu were welcomed by the Mulehe, happy with the wealth which they brought, and allowed the Pericu to develop farms and manage plum groves. The Mulehe and other tribes in the region would also begin practicing modest agriculture in the small oases that dotted the landscape. Kadakaaman would become the most famous inland oasis, with Awaa Cala importing its famous plums.

    This development led to another population increase among the Cochimi and Waikuri, resulting in a series of wars between the various tribes, particularly heating up in the 11th Century. In the year 1076, Ahmil of the Kuhagi tribe invaded the fertile Haquat Delta to the northeast that formed the heart of Kutsan. The ruling dynasty at the time was rather unpopular, so with little struggle he was able to seize Paruk, gaining control over the Lower Delta and the Kamya Channel, installing himself as king.

    When plague hit the Cochiman Peninsula in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries, the population, already quite small and spread out, would decline. This drop in population was, to a certain extent, seen as quite welcome. The early to mid 16th Century was a rather peaceful time in the region. The decline in trade between west and east meant fewer ships were coming around the Cape of Yenecami, but it also caused people to spend less time fighting over the control of trade routes. Many merchants who survived returned to their home cities, easily sustaining themselves off of fishing and trading that fish for crops grown in the Pericu hinterland. In some cases, tribes that were at a loss for leadership would band together into larger tribes, resulting in a consolidation over the course of the century that was typically quite peaceful.

    War would come to the peninsula with the introduction of the horse. In the mid to late 16th Century, a number of Cochimi tribes adopting the horse would wage war on another. From the north, a now united band of formerly distinct tribes known as the Mulagi would journey south, uniting the remainder of the Cochimi before conquering all the way to the southern tip. The Mulagi Kingdom would establish its capital in the centrally located oasis of Kadakaaman. Around this time, the Pericu had begun to recover both in population and in their role as merchants, with increased trade between the ports of the West Coast and the Sea of Aztlan, trade on which the Mulagi placed heavy taxes. Both the Pericu and the Dinei Empire grew angry over the arrangement. In 1599, an excursion sent out from Kutsan into Mulagi territory failed, and they were promptly repelled. Later that same year, with several skirmishes already taking place in the Pericu homeland, the Dinei sent an emissary to the Pericu to tell them that if they revolted, they would receive aid from the empire, and if they succeeded, they would come under the benevolent protection of the Dinei. In 1600, several Pericu tribes and settlements began to rebel against the Mulagi, while the Dinei and Mulagi were both launching raids into each others’ lands that typically did not get very far. This state of ineffective warfare was the situation when the French arrived.

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