The Lands of Autumn: Subadar

They say that, if one goes north, beyond the Principalities of Great Gal’Alor and the razor-edged desolation of the Glass Wastes, beyond the bayou of the Bleached lands, where men and trees are grey like ashes and nameless invisble things feed on the colours of the soul, one comes upon a caldera the contents of which are unto a garden of eden to the withered and rugged men of the Lands of Autumn. Protected on all sides by a formidable bastion of black peaks like the jagged fangs of bygone predators, Subadar is isolated, fertile and like paradise for the hungry traveller.

No untamed garden of Eden is beautiful Sudabar, for its emerald forests soon give way to cultivated fields and orchards. Appealing to the civilised man are the ordered streets of its villages, each dwelling a model of angular perfection, bereft of ornamentation or the habitual disorder of human habitation. Its cobbled streets mirror this regularity, and the repetition impressess upon the weary traveller an atmosphere of serenity, harmony and peace. The fearful glances and strained smiles of its diverse inhabitants might give one pause, but only for a heartbeat, for all doubts are quickly assuaged when one hears their melodious yet elegant greetings in the True Tongue. The Trader, his caravan now laden with dried fruits and forged iron for the ever-hungry cities of Gal’Alor, leaves the Caldera dreaming of one day inhabiting it. He might get his chance. He would regret and curse at length, with the most blasphemous words to be found in the expansive vocabular of the Gal’Alorian, his foolish desire that now condemns him to a lifetime of gruelling labour and tyranny more opressive then that of the accursed Harrow Kings of Old.

Sudabar is a charnel field, beneath its fertile acres lie sufficient bones to fill a hundred armies. Its villages live in perpetual fear of themselves, their neighbours and the nightmare tyrant that they can no longer even curse, so total is their imprisonment. At times men will escape the Arbiter’s long reach, but each one that reaches civilisation lives in perpetual fear, every one uniquely broken and inured to horror. 

Sudabar is ruled absolutely by the Arbiter, a vast leviathan of jade and shimmering gold. From whence this accursed monster came, few dare to speculate, but a sage would recognise in its ostentatious decoration and the flowing runic inscription on its great crystalline wings the touch of the decadent artificers of Nzembar. The Arbiter’s face is a deathmask of a young emperor, locked forever in a benevolent gaze that both belies and confirms its true nature. The Arbiter was forged to bring unto the world a lasting peace and harmony that no human regime, no matter how benevolent has ever managed to achieve. Unfortunately for the world at large its vision of utopia is a psychotic fantasy and its crystalline mind can no more accept that this is so then one can accept objects fall up or one is fathered by the number nine. For long ages it has laboured diligently, creating order and harmony, purchasing subjects from the slave-pits of Gal’Alor and Ursk or taking them a whole village at a time, leaving their shattered bodies to rot when they finally rebel. It will never tire, it will labour at its sysiphean task until the moon is dust and the sun is ashes.

The Arbiter seeks harmony in all things. It cannot distinguish between men and women, between young and old, between infirm and hale. The very distinction is blasphemous to the Arbiter, thus it orders its civilisation according. Each person is given a work rota, divinely ordained from the glyphs upon the Arbiter’s ornate chestplate. Fields must be plowed, houses must be maintained, streets must be paved, and so on. The slightest deviation, be it positive or negative, from this quota is punished by increasing the quota. Naturally, sickness or pregnancy is no excuse, since the Arbiter is a just lord that treats its subjects equal. This also explains why the militia of Sudabar, on the rare times an unfortunate raiding party sets out to attack Sudabar, is usually composed of equal parts women, men, children and the elderly (though old age tends to be a rarity in Sudabar). Since the Arbiter understands its population must be replenished for them to be happy, it has set aside three days in the year on which they may rest, give birth to children and spend the day in contemplation of its benefisence.

The Arbiter faces new challenges every time. While it would first respond to repeatedly lapsed quotas with obliteration, deeming the subjects irredeemably corrupt, long meditations upon the True and Glorious Path have revealed to it a degree of leniency is preferable. After all, The Arbiter is merciful. So it is that each of its subjects is permitted to lapse three times before it receives punishment, not by obliteration of the body, but by obliteration of the soul. Many times the Arbiter has struggled with the notion that it would be preferable to lord over subjects thus bathed in Its light, but the mindless automatons that remain once their impurities have been burned away are useless for anything but the most simple of tasks, and they do not live long, for eventually they will sit down and cease all activity, dying with blissful seraphic smiles upon their faces. So is the Arbiter greatly tasked, but it perseveres eternally.

So too has the Arbiter long since solved the problem of rebellion. Many of the subjects it retrieves are irredeemably corrupt, seeking to conspire to escape, rebel or worse, speak ill of the Arbiter. It has put its mind to the task and concluded the best solution is to change the words they use to form their hateful thoughts so all of Sudabar might see the truth of his vision. The True and Glorious tongue is its greatest creation. So precise is its inflection, so stripped of unnessecairy lies is its vocabulary, that the True and Glorious tongue gives the Subjects the opportunity to express all that is needed, removing the tempation to engage in hateful speculation or the plotting of sedition. The Arbiter has reluctantly allowed the subjects it has randomly selected to act as merchants to deal with the outside world to learn a smattering of Sybarese so they may communicate with merchant carvans and slave traders, teaching them the True and Glorious Tongue in time.

Despite its best efforts, it still faces sedition and though its eyes can pierce the souls of men and the petty illusions of conjurers, it cannot be everywhere. Its well-ordered cities need men and women to act as its eyes and ears, to speak its words into the ears of its adoring subjects. Thus the brightest, strongest and smartest are brought before it to become one with its mind. Their memories are overwritten with the mind of the Arbiter, so they may know his thoughts and act upon them. Unfortunately, a mortal mind cannot properly contain the labyrinthine complexity of the mind of the Arbiter, and so many of them go insane. The Arbiter cannot see or acknowledge poor decisions by these avatars, for they carry its thoughts and its thoughts are flawless, though it has been known to obliterate them if they attempt violence against it. It is also these avatars that guard the few entries to the land of Sudabar, blocking all escape.

Though it is benevolent, it has discovered many of its subjects suffer from unhappiness. At first it solved this problem by merely making unhappiness illegal and with the advent of the True and Glorious Tongue, removed their ability to express unhappiness. This did not stop the suicides. Its new edicts are meant to solve the problem by having each of its subjects set aside their labours for one hour and tell others of their happiness and gratitude towards the Arbiter. In the True and Glorious Tongue it is, in fact, impossible to state anything but the shortest most rudementary things without telling others of your happiness and stating your gratitude towards the Arbiter, but the Arbiter has devised several new words meant to build upon this further and allow its subjects to express their gratitude and happiness in more eloquent ways.

A big problem facing Sudabar is starvation. Though Sudabar is extremely fertile, the Arbiter has devised planting and harvesting cycles based on the agricultural procedures of the ancient Nzembarese, which are sadly no longer applicable to the seasonal rythms of the Lands of Autumn. Deviation from these planting rhythms is punishable by death, as is stockpiling or holding back foodstuffs, since all must be shared equally in great Sudabar, regardless of need, practicality or want. So it is that Subadarans can starve surrounded by an abundance of fertile land.

After several generations, revolt becomes almost inevitable. When its subjects finally rebel, tearing down their well-ordered domiciles with the iron tools of their trade and screaming their wordless rage as they march upon the Halls of Light, the Arbiter emerges from its throne room, resplendent like a Second Sun, standing taller then six men combined. As they bellow and pelt its impenetrable diamond hide with stones, handaxes and feces, it asks them to desist in its most seraphic, beautiful and polite voice. When this fails, the Arbiter finally enters the fray, emitting a light of such intensity that to look upon it is to be struck blind. Its claws of obsidean and diamond leave only mangled husks in its wake. After the rebellion has been crushed, it chases down the fleeing survivors, leaving them broken upon the fields. After a year, it will set out to find new subjects, for the work must go on always.

Few men who know this would enter Sudabar willingly, but it is said by the precious few escapees that within the Halls of the Light the Arbiter stores all the objects it has found within its realm but considers inappropriate or disruptive. The Armour of the Skraeg-Hai, the thirty-three Iron manacles of Sung and the Incantation of Expulsing the City of Great Ion are said to be among these objects.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Lands of Autumn: Subadar

    1. I was going more for a Blue Rose as inspired by George Orwell with a whiff of Wolfe’s Ascians but it’s interesting the differences are so slim that you would get that vibe. It is a small step from Cultural Marxism to just plain old vanilla Marxism after all. Ah that reminds me Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, where the big bandguy is a gigantic religious/socialist welfare state empire.

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  1. This looks like one of the better written pieces on Age of Dusk. I managed to only throw up inside my mouth three times while reading so you must be getting better Mr. Maas, Congratulations!
    So what’s the moral of the story here… Don’t throw poopoo at commies for it will only make them stronger?

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    1. I’m glad my work is massaging your hair-trigger disgust sensitivity to more managable levels. Whenever I want to throw up I just read the Volkskrant but it is okay to like different things.

      I rushed this piece and could have added stats, and that is a fact, nevertheless, thank you for the compliment. I don’t do morals. If you want to run this as part of an attempt to galvanize filthy storygamers and diversity cultists into wholesome dungeoncrawlers and right-wing hatemobs this is fine, but if you must i suppose you could also just use it to have cool fun adventure shit in it.

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      1. I would watch the hell out of a cartoon named Cool Fun Adventure Shit. Get on it, Prince, and get Vader Abraham to do the theme song.

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      2. Only if you help me get Tarnowski to do the writing and Kent to do the Voice acting. My affiliation with the Vader is not to be called upon lightly. My missing right eye can attest to this fact (but we did manage to get that X-rated version of the Land van Ooit (the Land van Bier & Hoeren) off the ground before it was shut down on account of moral leprosy).

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