The Kingdoms of Niranshetra
“Niranshetra is the shining beacon of the south, safe from the roaring winds and hot sands of the Grave thanks to the Shanvana Mountains. Our great land has been known by this name for ages, but never has it truly been under the rule of one leader until the modern age – yet even that has come to an end, and once again Niranshetra is beset by warriors vying for dominance and courts in politics. For all the fighting in our past, however, we of Niranshetra continue about our lives – ones rich with culture and dedicated to trade and commerce. Yagura may consider itself the hub of the world for its might and technology, but Niranshetra is where all sailors and merchants go in time.
Niranshetra is inhabited by numerous ethnic groups and species – the Noragman drow, Sedoulim and Dekuchi gnomes, Anzitil halflings, Shiarese oni, and the Niranese, Asoka, and Zhemri humans; truly making Niranshetra the most diverse land in all of Ortheia. Yet for as diverse as the land is, these disparate cultures are also united for our shared history and legacy in the Varyna Hadim Empire.
This is a lesson no school child of Niranshetra does not hear. Three hundred years after the Troll Wars, as the final spectre of blight was fading from our land, the young Seshanga Ephfraim was crowned King of Vishkanti. With the weight of such responsibility upon his head, he declared his idealistic belief that all of Niranshetra should be united under one crown and one reign. So, at the tender age of sixteen, he took to the warpath, conquering his Niranese and Asoka neighbors and bringing them into the fold. Yet what lay before him were the strong kings of the Zhemri, proud in their independence and their warrior culture. Many believed Seshanga would crumble before the might of their archers, and doubt soon festered in the hearts of his advisors.
The legend holds that, four years into his campaign, the Seshanga was riding at the lead of his samurai when he came across a poor Asoka woman. The Asoka kingdoms had just recently been conquered, and some of the peasants had taken to giving information on troop movements to the Zhemri; as such, they were not well trusted. She stopped to ask for water; Seshanga’s samurai advised him to push her aside or take her for questioning. Seshanga, however, stopped and got off his horse, deciding to offer the woman a drink from his own waterskin. The woman began to question Seshanga at length as to his motives for conquering all of Niranshetra, to which he replied in earnest. Finally, after an hour of discussion, a choking fog rolled in, and the woman led Seshanga away from his army with the promise of rewarding him for his honesty. In the forest, she revealed her true form and pledged her service, and the service of all her children, to Seshanga and all his children until the end of days. When Seshanga returned to his army, it was not upon the back of a warhorse, but riding the neck of a golden dragon. The woman was in truth Bahamut, and her brood pledged themselves to the Vishkanti army.
With the dragons at the front, Seshanga easily conquered the Zhemri kings. When all of Niranshetra flew his banner, he declared the beginning of the Varyna Hadim Empire, and crowned himself Emperor. With the dragons of Bahamut sharing power of decision making in the royal court, Seshanga decreed that all ethnicies and species would have equality under one law and one crown, a promise that the Ephfraim emperors following his rule upheld throughout the days of the Empire.
However, all things must pass – the Varyna Hadim Empire dissolved after three hundred years of rule, during a dispute of rule by the three heirs to the Tiger Throne, complicated by a popular revolt by the Niranese against what they saw as Zhemri manipulation in the royal court. The dragons refused to involve themselves in the war, as they saw this as a conflict between children of Ephfraim; thus, they could not break their vow to help one conquer the other. The Ephfraim-Niranese Wars lasted for thirty years with no true victor, with eight kingdoms existing at its conclusions. This of course was not the end of war in Niranshetra, as over the next hundred years the number of nations would be reduced to three, as each consolidated their hold over their respective regions.
Of the first of these nations, the Kingdom of Ganapali, I need make no introduction to your Majesty; our kingdom has succeeded in diplomacy and properly exercised force to unite the Niranese, with strong support from the Sedoulim gnomes. Pushed out by their Rashykali brethren, the Sedoulim were keen to help administer the land, and the kings of Ganapali used them to help manage newly conquered regions. This is not to say that they are the only two cultures living under our banner, for Ganapali controls the diverse eastern reaches and central hub of the former Varyna Hadim Empire. The Court of Ganapali remains keenly diplomatic towards other cultures, and diplomats from numerous lands can all be encountered in the capital city._
The Kartiya Empire represents the traditional Zhemri power before Seshanga’s conquest. Although at first a small nation, Kartiya has learned to solve most of its problems with a strong and brutal army, but the Emperor of Kartiya has learned the importance of self-governance over the long years of conquest – the Asoka and Anzitil, two major populations in Kartiya, experience great amounts of freedom. Although Kartiya and Ganapali have been at war numerous times in the past, tensions are slowly beginning to cool, and relations are improving rapidly. The construction of Ephfraim Bridge over the Sanchi River has been seen by the masses as the new symbol of hope for a reunited Niranshetra.
Of the Kingdom of Noragma there is little hope for reunion, however. Even though Noragma does not actively prosecute war with Kartiya and Ganapali, its rulers, the Noragma drow, remain fiercely territorial. Once the Kingdom of Teviyama, civil war helped to fracture and bring this prosperous nation to turmoil. The Noragma drow were expatriates from the Grave, a clan of merchants who had sent themselves into self-imposed exile to avoid what they saw as stifling tenets of the Suley religion. Using their wealth and uncanny knowledge for political manipulation, the drow became the new rulers of the land and swiftly ended the war. Although all manner of ethnicities and species live in Noragma (as it holds the southern tip of the bay, making its cities popular ports), the drow rule exclusively as the nation’s upper class, composing of the royal court and all the noble houses. For the most part, the dragons of Teviyama were also blinded by the manipulation of the drow, and they extended the same pledge of Seshanga over the court of Noragma, ensuring that no draconic reprisal could be issued. The Noragma have since driven the metallic dragons of Bahamut’s brood from the nation and replaced them with a new brood – a clutch of green dragons that seem to have been enticed to the land by drow sorcerers.
Of what the future shall hold for Niranshetra, I cannot say, but we are a proud people, many as one, and we shall continue to be so. A Zhemri man who swears to the Kartiya crown will be welcomed into the home of an Asoka family in Ganapali if he is trustworthy and kind, not judged because of his nation or ethnicity. This example is a reminder that while the crowns of Niranshetra all seek to restore the Ephfraim legacy and the Tiger Throne, the masses instinctively know they are already one people."
- Andu Sahib, Geographer for the King of Ganapali