Posted by Ian Samuels on 13:21 1/15/02
In reply to: (none)
Kudos on the completed Almean Historical Atlas -- it's brilliant stuff. I have a couple of questions about the ktuvok empires; I've been browsing the various Almean materials and there are a couple of things that don't quite make sense to me just yet:
1. Establishment: In the Historical Atlas, you write that the ktuvoki first "tempted" the Eynleyni into forming the empire of Munkhash with superior technology (like wheat and bronze weapons). Elsewhere, though, you've written that the ktuvoki are relatively uninventive and that their societies tend to be technologically similar to the surrounding human societies. So where did the ktuvoki of Munkhash get this superior technology?
1b. For that matter, how did such uninventive creatures manage to hold off the prodigiously advanced and determined ilii through thousands of years of war, and survive to form empires of their own? Surely not through mere physical prowess -- by Attafei and Ervea's time, they're not even that good in a fight, and to add to all their other faults they're also, relatively speaking, physical cowards. Correct?
2. Longevity. You mention repeatedly that ktuvok statecraft required a constantly expanding empire in order to be viable. Yet it seems to me that Munkhash, in particular, is a long-lived that goes through long periods of territorial stagnation. How, then, did the ktuvoki manage to keep it together through the long centuries where no new peoples or territories were being added to the empire?
3. Administration. I'm still a little fuzzy on how day-to-day administration would work, either in Munkhash or Dhekhnam. Do the ktuvoki periodically leave their marshes to tour their empire and enforce loyalty? Do they leaveadministration totally to the humans, and spend their time manoeuvring with each other in the marshes? And if the latter is true, then what's to keep the ambitious humans from simply taking over control from their absentee masters, making the ktuvoki rulers in name only? From what you've said elsewhere, it wouldn't seem that the ktuvok hypnotic powers are impressive enough to be influential in their absence...
Hello and welcome to the board, Ian! Glad you liked the Atlas!
1. They had these technologies from the iliu-ktuvok wars of the previous age. (There is no history of these-- not before I can decipher that tricky Eteodäole-- but there's a distorted mythological account in the account of Cadhinorian paganism.)
1b. They're not so much cowards as bullies: they try not to choose losing battles. They also disdain humans as mere slaves. For both reasons, they were highly discomfited when Ervëa and Attafei started winning.
They're not as smart as the ilii, but wiliness and unscrupled violence go a long way. Slave armies, sorcery, and the support of darker powers helped as well. The ilii consider them respectable enemies.
2. If the empire isn't expanding, or is contracting, about all they can do is rely on repression of the most recently absorbed people. E.g., while they occupied half of Eretald, most of the people would dogpile on the Cadhinorians; that largely kept the former happy and the latter helpless.
I think I should also emphasize that the ktuvok empires are not necessarily hellish places to live in, by local standards. In medieval times, for instance, you had to worship the demon-masters, but you were safe from the nomads, who might, if they didn't simply turn you off your land, steal your crops, burn down your house, and steal your daughters. And the ktuvoki are not empowered madmen like Nero, Stalin, or Hitler. They wouldn't massacre their own citizens any more than a farmer would kill off his own livestock for sport.
3. The ktuvoki will tour their estates just often enough to remind stewards that it's a possibility. They also rely on inspectors and spies, and heavily reward anyone who brings (true) news of rebellion.