Midian

Jack Shear’s post on Midian is here. This is one of the country descriptions for my upcoming book on the World Between. This is a draft.

Basic Description

Hot and dusty, this country is the beating heart of the Lands of the Lady. The Church of the Lady of the White Way is based in Calrissia, and from there it spreads into the World Between. The country is defined by four proud city states in alliance with each other. They are proud and uncompromising, much like the land where they live.

 Stylistic Feel

Not-Spain. Dangerous blinding pride leads to crusades and inquisitions, limiting the immigration from the rest of the World Between. The biggest cultural influence outside the Church of the Lady is from the south, where the Mordish escape oppression in Mord-Stavian and settle in Midian. They bring their own culture and art, and quietly slip in some of their religion too. Another great influence is the Vistani, who trade and entertain in Midian as in the rest of the World Between. The idea of demons manipulating the Church to further their schemes is too terrifying to consider—the Church must be above such things. Midian considers the Church and the Lady to be great gifts to the rest of the World Between.

 Ruling Structure

Rulership in Midian balances between two points. Spiritual matters overflow into the temporal world under the supervision of the Pontiff at the Landing in Calrissia, spiritual leader of the World Between. The nation is ruled by a King supported by the Council of Eight, noble advisors. From there, the system is feudal for both the secular and spiritual structures.

In the past, civil war was prevented by the Pontiff interceding as needed, or by the King stepping in to curb heresy that approached schism. Now, the Church and the State are pitted against each other. From Calrissia, Prince Eduardo Melrose II claims the throne to Midian based on his family’s relationship with the Church through the millennia. He plans to unleash a purging inquisition to finally reach spiritual unity. From Arlona, Princess Saliani Avengelina claims the throne to Midian based on her backing with the Council of Eight. She would risk civil war to nationalize Church holdings and distribute them among her supporters.

 Stereotypes

Midianites (or Midish) people are short and olive-skinned, with dark eyes and hair. Their educated speak with a lisp, and all of them talk very fast. They are all slavishly devoted to the Lady, and all of them cherish at least one silver pendant with a saint depicted on it. They are so proud they are willing to risk death to force you to retract an insult that stains their honor. They cannot accept defeat, and are very narrow-minded. They are bad sports, whether they are winning and gloating or losing and moaning. All are trained with sword-fighting and theology; the Church is not a religious choice, but a cultural background. All of them obsess about their sins, forgiveness, and inevitable damnation.

The Mordish are a sizeable sub-population. They have very dark skin that makes their eyes and teeth seem really white. They all prefer wearing curtains with belts, and head gear, and they fight with curved weapons. They had to raise so many monuments to the undead in Mord-Stavian they only like art with abstract geometric patterns. They will eat anything. They like hot tea when it is blisteringly hot outside. There are two kinds; Mordish that are devoted to the Church of the Lady for protecting them, and Mordish that smuggle their snake cult into the country with them. Either way, they use their cultural trappings to adjust the culture where they arrive, creating hybrids that can be disturbing to locals.

 Famous For:

Scholars from their seminaries, all knowledge of the Lady of the White Way, connections with the Church of the Lady, fine horses, fine steel, passionate dancing, meditative mystic hermits.

 Major Cities

Calrissia. Armies of the Lady of the White Way have landed here twice. Once during the First Crusade that started recorded time about 7,000 years ago, and again for the Third Crusade in 4,540 to save the World Between from Ulverland’s domination. The failed Fourth Crusade was launched from here in 6,500. The secular city calcified around the holy core of the Church’s beating heart, to protect it. Pilgrims come here in a constant stream. Patron saint: Arianna, the Bloody Redeemer.

Arlona. The city defends the only viable land entry to Midian. It has the greatest trade markets in Midian. The Princess rules from here, with her all-female musketeers known as the Guns of Arlona. The city also has the Echoing Downs, a haven for the Vistani granted them for their heroics defending the city during the War of the Traitor Knights. (They defended a section of city wall, and it has never been repaired, so they have their own way in and the meadows around it.) Patron saint: Calbrius, the Light Seeker.

Sustantivo. This major port was built during the Deathfleet invasion in the 5th century. The arrogant culture is based on ship-building and famous high-spirited and powerful horses (Sustantine mounts). Patron saint: Bernus, the Stumbling Wayfarer.

Armandura. This city was shattered in the 5th century by the Deathfleet, and again by the dragons. The city is a center of culture and education for bounty hunters, monster hunters, and undead hunters. Bounty Square is a major city feature, with bounties on bandits constantly refreshed. The Order of Valenciar are the greatest vampire hunters in the World Between. Raids into Mord-Stavian are mounted from this ruined city with fair frequency. Patron saint: Coraline, the Voice of Doom.

 Notable Locations

Shield of Faith. To the south, a rugged range of mountains stands between the Welcoming Sea and Midian. Legend suggests the mountains were erected to protect Midian from Mord-Stavian. There are enough caves and canyons in the badlands and the mountains to hide numerous packs of desperate bandits, hermits, heretics, and other fugitives.

Searching Desert. The center of Midian is filled with an arid dust bowl, plains mixed with badlands. Those seeking a closer relationship with the Lady of the White Way go into this wilderness to test their bodies, minds, and spirits, to cleanse their souls of impurities.

 Supernatural Elements

The Church of the Lady of the White Way. This is the seat of power for the church, and it embodies all the best and the worst the Church has to offer. Those speaking for the Lady have stated that all demons and gods are powerful entities, yes, but not worthy of worship. They say the Lady is the only true divine and cosmic power. She does not see fit to grant them supernatural trickery; instead of giving them powers that seem like magic, she looks after the fate of the world, coincidence and guidance with the occasional unpredictable miracle. She is subtle and powerful (or imaginary, depending on your point of view.) Her saints have provided a tangible presence, and she inspires holy warriors and prophets to her service. Her theology is at its most vulnerable when the Church is flush with temporal power and wealth, and it is at its best protecting the weak when it is underpowered with little practical reason for hope.

Kumo-Thlis (the Snake God, The One Who Slithers).All those raids into Mord-Stavian earned Midian special attention. A cult of Kumo-Thlis has begun manipulating the rulers of the Church and Midian with startling success, and the snake cult is suspected of supporting Princess Avengelina in opposing the Church. Their influence gained momentum before the Fourth Crusade, the disaster that weakened Midian to dangerous levels and precipitated the fiercest infighting the country ever endured.

The Faithless. The lawless places in Midian are haunted by tall, fur-covered subhumans with gleaming yellow eyes and fangs. These stealthy bandits eat human flesh and survive entirely on the proceeds from theft and mayhem. Their lives are illegal, so killing one is a service to Midian and they don’t mingle in the cities. They are almost invisible in dust storms. According to legend, they are the cursed descendants of those who refused to worship the Lady, their bestial traits surfaced for all to see.

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