The Demosthene Ascendancy is a fairly large territory among the human states of D'hennex. It is largely composed of a single province of the earlier kingdom of An-Yneaith, with some small changes in border due to incursions and conquest. It is governed by the Assembly, a parliamentary body composed of the aristocracy of the land -- power wielders. Personal honour and face are the two most important commodities, and political savvy is a necessary survival trait, among that aristocracy.
- 1 Sociopolitical Structure
- 2 Religion in the Ascendancy
- 3 Economic Capacity
- 4 Military Capacity
- 5 Geography
- 6 Persons of Note
- 7 Current Political Climate
The Ascendancy is, at its roots, a feudal land. Mortal peasantry exist at the whim of their powered overlords, held in psychic domination by psions and enthralled to the power of mages. These power wielders owe their allegiances to other lords, with the most powerful owing allegiance to no one except themselves. Whereas a king might rule in other places, the Assembly takes that place. Complex movements of political power occur in the Assembly, and even the most powerful lord cannot stand against the combined might of the Assembly, should he think to stand against its collective decisions. This serves to keep the nobility in check from running wild as they otherwise might -- although the internal affairs of their fief are largely up to them to decide upon.
Several unique factors exist, besides the feudal structure and the Assembly, to set the Ascendancy apart. First is the very low incidence of ki-wielding fighters. It is considered, among the people of the Ascendancy, that while possessing significant ki energy is not bad, to exercise it by expelling it (whether in combat, as blasts and aura explosions, or merely in peaceful flight) is a hideous crime. As ki energies are the energies of the soul, they believe that expending them outside the body is actually to deface your very soul. With that tradition binding them, ki wielders of the Ascendancy are at a significant disadvantage compared to those of other powers. Second, is the Demosthene Code Duello. This dictates the terms upon which the various members of the aristocracy can violently interact. It limits powered conflict within the borders of the Ascendancy to strictly-controlled duels. Internal conquest is only recognized as legitimate if performed using mortal troops to conquer the target's land. Honour dictates that they defend themselves using only mortal troops as well.
The Dictates of Honour
Among the people of note of the Ascendancy (that is to say, the aristocratic power wielders), honour is highly prized. While they also cherish cunning and deviousness, a violation of a person's given word tarnishes them forever. As rising into the Ascendancy's Assembly requires a highly ritualized (and very public) loyalty oath to the Ascendancy (and its laws and traditions, such as the Code Duello), if an aristocrat was to violate the basic principles of the Ascendancy, they would find themselves stripped of their power and fief overnight (and quite possibly their life, as well).
While this holds true within the boundaries of the Ascendancy, when dealing with outsiders, the rules are significantly more lax. For example, the Code Duello only holds true between persons of honour -- which is to say, aristocrats of the Ascendancy. When dealing with intrusive outsiders, their breadth of options is much wider. Nor do the laws of honour strictly require them to keep their given word to outsiders, albeit most would do so anyway, out of habit if nothing else.
Religion in the Ascendancy
The Demosthene Ascendancy has complete religious freedom. Anyone may practice any religion they like -- in principle. In actual fact, given the complete enslavement of the Ascendancy's mortal populace by the bending of their wills, only a few religions are actively practiced, and many practice no religion at all. Few religious establishments exist, as they usually need a powerful Demosthene patron to be constructed.
The Ascendancy is a fairly large territory, with significant amounts of arable land, as well as rich mineral deposits. The mortal workforce is in the fairly unique position of being completely repressed and under the control of the power-wielding minority, and being forced to be productive. Unlike nominal slave labour, however, due to the unique processes of domination and enthrallment used by the power wielders, instead of resenting this, properly dominated and ensorcelled mortals actually love their overlords, and would cheerfully cut their own throats for them. In return, the aristocrats tend to take good care of their mortals, treating them as valuable assets. As such, the industries of the Ascendancy tend to be uniquely efficient and productive, enabling the feudal society to supply its needs as well as export significant amounts of goods to its neighbours in trade.
Internal Economic Activity
As the territory of the Ascendancy is divided up into semi-independent and independent fiefs, there is a significant degree of internal trade between them. Mineral-rich areas trade with fertile fiefs, exchanging metal ores for food, for instance. At the higher levels, there is also a degree of trade between the arisocrats, although this tends to take different forms. As they typically have sufficient wealth for their needs, and they do not need to pay their workforce, per se, the aristocracy tends to trade in other things of value. There are a few different things, but land and skilled servants tend to rank highly. The landmass controlled by an aristocrat tends to denote his or her influence, especially in the Assembly, and thus a gaining of even relatively small portions of land can be turned into significant political capital. And, while every aristocrat has many mortals under their command, a uniquely-skilled mortal can be a real prize. Beyond these, the typical favour-trading of the political elite occurs as well, of course, including military deal-making.
As a feudally-structured land, each territory of the Ascendancy maintains its own military forces -- both mortal, for waging internal battles, and powered, for defending their territory from those who do not recognize the Demosthenian concept of limited warfare.
When the Ascendancy faces a significant external threat (typically of national scope), or needs a force to travel into a foreign land to 'protect Demosthenian interests', the Assembly issues a Writ of Duty, calling upon the bonds of fealty of the nobility to summon sufficient military forces for their needs. The lords of the various territories then select forces from their lands and dispatch them to join the army as it is formed. The lords themselves typically remain at home, to tend to their own interests. In cases where time is available, a (non-lethal) tournament will often be held to determine who shall command the overall forces of the army. When time is of the essence, however, the Assembly will typically appoint a commander-in-chief for the duration.
While the commander-in-chief dictates the overall strategy of the campaign, and assigns tasks to different forces, how those forces pursue their objectives is typically left up to them. When an objective is important enough or difficult enough to demand multiple groups from different territories, the commander-in-chief appoints one of the leaders to lead that task force.
Whatever the spoils of war may be, they are divided amongst the home territories of the forces that were sent, in a manner recognizing both the number and power of forces committed to the army, as well as how well those forces performed in the field. The tremendous wealth and resources that can thus be acquired by the lord of an established territory, landlocked by surrounding Demosthene lords, is the primary motivation for them to commit their forces to the Assembly's will. In the case of a conquest, new territories are formed, but they must send tribute back to their home territories for a period of time (generally ten to fifteen years, depending on the circumstances). It is in this manner that the Assembly grows -- rarely does a territory inside the Ascendancy split into segments, although it's not completely unheard of.
The geography of the Demosthene Ascendancy is variable, as the territory it claims as its own is quite significant. With the heartland of the Ascendancy existing in a valley-like depression, the vast majority of the Ascendancy possesses adequate arable land. Many of the bordering territories have significant mountainous terrain, forming both an impediment to conventional invasion and a rich source of important ores and minerals. As it is wholly contained within the landmass of D'hennex, the Ascendancy could be considered to be landlocked -- the only bodies of water it has contact with are lakes and rivers, some of which are significant in size, and provide a measure of waterlife to the local dietary staples.
The Ascendancy is divided up into numerous territories, which are in turn divided up into sub-territories by their masters for their lieutenants. Few true cities exist -- those that do are not vassal lands of a single power wielder, but rather, held in common by the Assembly (such as is the case for the capitol), or by a small group of power wielders. They are thus most commonly found at the intersections of territories, where the aristocrats can meet without becoming overly anxious about territorial intrusions.
The Capitol Territory includes the Capitol, its outskirts, and not much more. Rather than being controlled by a single power wielding overlord, it is held in common by the Assembly that meets within its limits. Violence is strictly restricted there, and lawbreakers are harshly dealt with by a patrolling power wielder corps. Even mortals found to be fighting are disintegrated on the spot, as they are judged property of their masters, who are, in turn, held responsible for their behaviour.
The population of the Capitol possesses a greater percentage of power wielders than most Ascendancy cities, given that many power wielders gather here to meet in government of the country, but the vast majority is still composed of mortals, or power wielders of such low grade that they might as well be mortal. Many of these mortals work in the busy trade sector of the Capitol, ensuring that their masters' needs are met, by bargaining for goods required for their home territories, and arranging the sale of the goods their land produces. A large segment of them are also involved with the drudgery administration of government, and are either owned outright by the Assembly in common, or are lent to the use of the Assembly, often in trade for other concessions.
The land known as the Ashla Territory is named after its controllers -- a fairly typical situation. In this case, the controllers of the territory are a group of monks. The Abbot of the Ashla Monastery is the titular ruler of the Territory. The monks are known to specialize in the arts of the mind, and many are formidable psionic combatants. The Abbot in particular is known to be a very powerful psion, and it is he who psychically dominates the majority of the mortals in the area. The intricacies of the monastery are largely unknown to outsiders, as they are very insular. Their robes are similar enough to those of some Kamist orders that they are occasionally confused -- this has led some to speculate that the Ashla are an offshoot of the Kamist religion, rather than Catholic or some other independant tradition.
As a side-note, they prefer their arts to remain solely theirs. As such, if an Ashla monk is enslaved by another's will, the Monastery will typically take ruthless action to either retrieve the monk, or eliminate them before they can be compelled to teach their ways to outsiders.
Not all power wielders in the Territory are members of the monastery, or Ashla monks, but all do acknowledge the Abbot as their leader -- lest they face the consequences of rebellion.
The Ashla Monastery is the largest single structure in the Territory, as it houses the vast majority of the Ashla Order at once. A few kilometers away is a major village, where many mortals live and work. The remainder of the mortals are spread out over the territory, with no other major establishments, save some small border villages where trade occurs with other territories.
Persons of Note
Joining the Assembly is not terribly difficult. One must simply be a power wielder, and surpass certain thresholds in the control of territory and retainers, and one is automatically a member. However, even among a theoretical membership of equals, there are people that stand out, persuasive voices that can bring others around to their way of thinking without exercising any 'power' upon them. These people stand out as true leaders of the land. Besides these, others are quieter, working behind the scenes to bring about complex machinations, fueling certain rivalries, brokering peace elsewhere, all to bring to fruition their schemes.
While it is difficult to point out powerful figures that are not part of the Assembly, they do exist. The lieutenants of the most powerful overlords are puissant individuals in their own rights, and while they may or may not sit in the Assembly in their own rights, their influence cannot be ignored.
The Right Honourable Taran Basillus, Voice of the Ascendancy: The Voice of the Ascendancy is he who keeps order in the Assembly. While by no means autocratic, they fulfill many of the daily roles that are filled in other countries by their head of state, as well as sitting as chair for the debates whenever the full Assembly is called. While nominally an equal elected by his fellows, the Voice does have considerable influence over the affairs of the Assembly, to such a degree that they can often subtly cause legislation they do not agree with to simply disappear before it is ever brought before the Assembly for discussion -- provided that the would-be law does not have too large a margin of the Assembly supporting it already. The current Voice is staunchly conservative, and fiercely protective of the power that the traditional government of the Ascendancy has brought him. His territory is quite large, and he has a vast pool of retainers to draw upon, as well as his own formidable talents in psionic skills and the arcane arts.
Current Political Climate
Domestically, Demosthenian politics are no more agitated than is typical for the feudal realm. Low-intensity skirmishes continue between rival neighbours, but few are in large-scale warfare currently. The Voice of the Ascendancy is currently a strong personality, and he maintains peace and amity in the Assembly as well as could be expected.
Foreign affairs with the Demosthene Ascendancy is always a touch and go matter, as they view themselves as being superior to their fellow nations, and that arrogance often spoils diplomatic relations. Despite that, the Ascendancy currently has strong trade relations with Westphalia and Kallinstrate. As they are currently at peace, there is some trade flowing between the Ascendancy and An-Yneaith. However, relations with An-Yneaith are often strained, given their close proximity, strong military, and the history of the Ascendancy having seceded from An-Yneaith's empire.
The Ascendancy is formally at a state of war with Fel Nobel, however, due to the low hazard the rogue state presents to the Ascendancy, the political will within the Assembly has not been formed to crush the demons at this time. The neighbouring territories to Fel Nobel continue to harangue the Assembly, and in time will no doubt succeed in persuading the Assembly to reconquer the divided land. In the meantime, were someone else to attempt to claim the land that Fel Nobel currently claims, and that the Ascendancy considers to truly belong to it, they would not be warmly welcomed.
The Ascendancy has no formal relations with the Jungles of Ka, as they do not recognize them as being a united nation. Some citizens of the Ascendancy have taken it upon themselves to trade with individual villages or people of the Jungles, but there is no formal policy in place. Due to recent events with the mutated monsters coming from Ka, the Assembly is increasingly turning its attention toward the Jungles, and considering its options.
The Ascendancy has not been able to establish diplomatic or trade ties with the Elven nation, given the xenophobia of the Elves.
The Ascendancy is in a permanent state of war with the Drovinian Reaches, but rarely sends war parties to raid the undead.