Kalyr Today

Most kandar now live in fortified cities, surrounded by vast human-worked plantations that feed the cities. The archetypal kandar is arrogant and superior, looking down on other races. The kandar are split into two castes, nobles and freemen. Some of the more privileged humans also warrant the status of freemen. A great many more humans are still slaves.

There are now three main kandar nations. In the South, tradition-bound and decadent, lies the Great Kandar Empire, ruled from the imperial capital, Vohrneyn. Once the Vohrleyni emperors ruled most of the kandar settled lands, but their power has waned, and the cities of the more sparsely-populated northern lands either became independent, or were abandoned, depending on who you listen to.

In the north-west is a loose confederation of three semi-independent city-states, Filgeth, Calbeyn and Ravenah. These three cities have a much greater human population, with human freemen outnumbering slaves, and the total of the two outnumbering the kandar, and humans have far greater rights than elsewhere.

To the north east stands the new power, the Konaic Empire, ruled from the grim city of Karmork, one of the first cities to break away from Vohrleyn. The Empire is militaristic and expansionist, having absorbed several smaller cities. In contrast to the cities of the north-west, there are no human freemen at all; the only humans are slaves. Even the slave population is lower than elsewhere.

Life in a kandar city varies according to social status, which is in turn largely dependant on race. At the top of the social heap are the kandar nobles, members of the fourteen ancient clans. They are the ruling elite, holding key positions not just in government, but in the powerful guilds. Noble kandar receive an education steeped in ancient history, great works of literature, multiple contradictory myths and legends, and of dead languages. They’re taught from infancy to look down upon the lower orders, especially humans.

Beneath them are the Freeman, the vast majority of them members of either guilds or temples, not just craftsmen and shopkeepers, but also priests, wizards, artists, architects, career soldiers or physicians. Most are kandar, but an increasing number are human.

At the bottom of the heap are the poorer humans. They struggle to make a living, not necessarily always managing to stay on the right side of the law. They live in decaying tenement buildings, possibly underground, maybe partly collapsed. Life can often be nasty, brutish and short, and such people need wits and street skills to survive.

Then, of course, there are the slaves. Many are labourers, worked to death in dirty and dangerous jobs. But some are trusted servants of powerful people or organisations, who live relatively comfortable lives, and sometimes wield a lot of influence. Despite this, they are never allowed to forget that they are someone else’s property.

The cities are surrounded by “civilised” areas, dotted with farming villages and plantations that exist to supply food for the city. Most people outside the cities are agricultural labourers, either workers on a kandar-owned plantation, tenant farmers struggling to earn enough to pay the rent on a piece of poorer- quality land, or free farmers scratching a living on the poorest quality land on the very edge of the civilised area. City dwellers tend to regard people from outside the city walls as ignorant hicks.

The wilderness areas beyond the farms are not totally unoccupied. Large areas are thinly populated by communities of humans and other races, many of which were founded by escaped slaves. Life in these communities is hard, under constant threat of attack from bands of outlaws, or by the kandar trying to eradicate outlaws. Anyone from outside the “bounds of civilisation” will be looked down upon in any kandar-ruled area.

The zughru still live in their warrens beneath the mountains. Very little is known about the zughru kingdoms, but there are rumours of fabulous wealth and wondrous devices. There is a long-running border war in the supposedly mineral-rich foothills of the mountains between the zughru and the kandar of Calbeyn and Filgeth. There is little real fighting, but there are quite frequent skirmishes. These skirmishes are just about the only time zughru are ever seen above ground.

There are still survivors of the kandar’s earlier slave races around. The reptilian sssra have now reverted to savagery, and have been all but wiped out except in remote areas., The small purple uleem are occasionally encountered in kandar lands, often as merchants and traders, or as thieves. In the wilds, the savage vordral may be encountered, hideous warped creatures who first appeared during the times of darkness. There are rumours of other, stranger races living in remote areas.

The landscape is still full of relics of ancient times. Ancient ruins litter wilderness areas, many of them reputed to be haunted. One might encounter a devastated area where the very rocks have melted, or a line of decayed towers, purpose forgotten, marching across the horizon.

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