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The Belochyar

The Belochyar, sometimes written as Belochyars or Belochyaroi, are a Kintaran people whose ancestral homeland is in the central woodlands of western Cildana, between the Har-Kizir mountains and the river Celedoz. They are the largest of the Kintaran tribes in terms of population and territory by some margin, and are one of the nine formally recognized constituent nations of the Kingdom of Belocharas.


The name Belochyar is usually translated as “White Roots” and is thought to refer to the tribe’s religious beliefs, in which the five demiurge gods were birthed amid the roots of a single white tree in the primordial universe, and from those roots they fashioned the material world and the heavens. The word beloch, however, refers specifically to white light, as of Light itself, said to be purer and brighter than even that of the sun, so the more apposite translation of the tribe’s name would be “Pure Roots” or “Luminous Roots.”

The tribe’s name is sometimes also attributed to the tale of Sacathar, the tribe’s founding father. When he was born, his mother, Iteline, said of him: “He is Sacathar, and his roots are white” (meaning that he was of pure birth, in contrast to a similar tale told by the Vacid tribe in which Sacathar is a rape-born bastard), though most scholars believe that the tale as told was playing on the already-established name.


According to tribal lore, the ancestors of the Belochyar went to the holy island of Chimid il Elsigan (“Island of the Arcane;” now known by the Vacid name Dearviél), said to have been the home of the Fae in the material realm. The Fae were very particular about which mortals they allowed to set foot on their blessed isle, and most were either turned away or slain. But the Belochyar’s ancestors were of noble stock, and the Fae welcomed them and offered them sanctuary from the chaos of mainland Cildana.

Alas, conflict arose between competing factions when a woman named Iteline secretly wed a valiant chieftain, Mokan, against her family’s will. Perhaps believing that his sister had been kidnapped, or perhaps wroth at her defiance, Iteline’s brother tracked her down and attempted to slay Mokan, but Iteline dashed in front of her brother’s knife and was herself mortally wounded. Mokan was felled by a volley of arrows, but as Iteline lay dying, she gestured to her newborn son, pleading with her brother to spare him. Those who felt remorse at Iteline’s death took the child to safety, fleeing across the water back to the mainland, while those who sided with Iteline’s brother remained in Dearviél and became the Vacid nation, with whom the tribe that came to call itself Belochyar would develop a complicated but usually amicable relationship.

As the exiles returned to Cildana, they applied the knowledge that their ancestors handed down from them, taught by the Fae in times before the Doom of Wings, and taught these skills to the tribes already living on the mainland, intermarrying with them, building a civilization vastly more advanced than what had previously existed on the continent. Wooden structures were replaced by ones of stone, roads and aqueducts were constructed, and iron-forged weapons were introduced. They would adopt some of the customs of the mainland tribes. At just twelve years old, Sacathar would become the tribe’s chieftain, and he would lead them for a hundred years in great prosperity.

As with most legends, there are some logical inconsistencies in the tale of Sacathar and the founding of the tribe, mostly having to do with linguistics. Notably, the Belochyar’s ancestors would likely have spoken the language indigenous to the island (which is still used by the Vacid tribe), or one near enough to it, as that language itself was said to have been taught to the inhabitants of Dearviél by the Fae. However, the name Sacathar (meaning “Born of the Noble Mountain”) is of the language currently spoken by the tribe, which is very similar to those of the other Kintaran tribes of the mainland, as is the tribe’s name. This indicates that the tale of Iteline and Sacathar was probably altered long after the tribe relocated to the continent, amending the characters’ names.

Whatever the manner of their return to Cildana, the Belochyar came to occupy the best lands in western Cildana. Their first settlements were on the coasts or at the mouths of the many rivers spilling down from the Har-Caras and Har-Kizir, but they quickly grew in number, spreading further into the dense wilderness and carving small but viable farms out of the hitherto impenetrable woods. As they spread, and came into contact with other Kintaran peoples, they split into different clans, each one with its own chieftain, though they continued to call themselves Belochyar. As the Belochyar have always been strongly connected to their forests, each clan took the name of a tree.

Around two hundred years after the death of Sacathar, a new ruler would come to power in western Cildana. From whence he came no one rightly knows, but his name was Daran, and he was known by the surname Ravenhelm for he wore the wings of a raven in his crown. Daran’s kingdom spread quickly across Cildana; some say his legions crossed the Har-Caras and conquered the Khadagan and even the states of the far east, some even say that his ships crossed the sea to Sordana and spread his empire of Darandiné even there.

Rise and Fall of Darandiné

Written records from Darandingaí times are lost to history, and only a smattering of artifacts and oral legends remain, so very little is known about the empire as a whole, let alone the Belochyar’s fortunes therein. The legends that remain have been passed down for at least eight hundred years (and, as the Tareas Darandiné timekeeping method may be hundreds of years off, possibly much longer), so their veracity is debatable. Most, however, suggest that Daran Ravenhelm built his capital where the Belochyar city of Haragrund now stands. (Not surprisingly, the other Kintaran nations have Daran building his capital where their major cities sprouted.)

With the paucity of hard evidence, scribes know frustratingly little about Darandiné. Unlike some other tribes, however, the Belochyar scholars all agree that Darandiné did exist and is not just a fable or a myth. They agree that it was a highly advanced realm, as the legends speak of ships that could fly (and even some that could sail beneath the waves), fortresses made from steel, and methods of manipulating fire and water.

Another aspect of Darandiné upon which almost all Belochyar agree is that its downfall was abrupt and violent. Some say that a great cataclysm befell the empire, a punishment sent down by the gods for the empire’s decadence. This seems to have taken the form of a great fire from within the bowels of the earth. Some even say that it was the great serpent who lives in the deep, whose name is not uttered by Belochyar but is simply known as meset (meaning “enemy”), stirring from her slumber and breathing her deadly fire upon sapienkind, whether of her own will or at the gods’ command.

The Belochyar typically do not speak of Darandiné, as the priests have deemed it forbidden for so grievous were the empire’s sins. Those who do are usually of the more learned class, who see the empire not as a realm of impiety and debauchery but one of great knowledge and power, whose success sapienkind should attempt to replicate while learning the lessons taught by its downfall.

The Dark Years

Though Belochyar speak guardedly of Darandiné, they tacitly admit that their people enjoyed great prosperity during the empire’s heyday, especially under the reign of Daran himself (which was said to last five hundred years) and that of his second successor, the Empress Pristacia. The final years of the empire, and especially the first two to three centuries after its cessation, were anything but. This period is known as Dagas Uroch, meaning “Dark Years.”

While many ills befell the Belochyar during this time, there was one menace in particular that wrought death and destruction across their lands, and one that may have been responsible for the very downfall of Darandiné: dragons. These beasts first awoke in the Vraçii High Plateau, which is called Kopya-Navath (“Deadly Heights”) in the Belochyar language, originally terrorizing the Vraçii before that reclusive tribe learned to master them through dark magic. Once the Vraçii had tamed the dragons, they set the beasts upon the Darandingaí in retaliation for the later emperors’ attempts to conquer the tribe.

The first dragon attacks came during the reign of the Vraçii marach (matriarch) Iaceala, who was called The Dragon’s Whisper. Under Iaceala, the dragons’ devastation was focused against the emperor’s strongholds and armies, and civilian populations were left unharmed. After Darandiné ceased to exist, however, the fire from the skies only grew fiercer, as the dragons began slaughtering indiscriminately, perhaps becoming emboldened as the empire’s armies were no longer there to resist their onslaught.

In this time, Brandric was chieftain of the Likanoi Belochyar, the northernmost of the clans. He was a highly educated man, and he’d heard tales of tribes dwelling deep within the Har-Kizir (“Dagger Mountains”) that separated the Kintaran lands from those of the Northmen, and that these tribes rode into battle not on horseback but upon great warhawks with wingspans the width of lakes, large and fierce enough to bring down a dragon. Out of options, Brandric took a small complement of men into the forbidding mountains, and there indeed he encountered strange men of hard complexion. He could not understand their words, which he described as “grotesquely rough, as if hewn from the tongue with an old axe,” but they led him to their chieftain, who called himself Arghors and used instead the title of tagar (which Brandric learned means something like “khan”). Arghors knew the Belochyar language enough to assure Brandric that his people, the Ayunyeri’un, would deal with the dragons, as they were a threat to Arghors’s mountain home in the Har-Kizir, which he called Achyanak (“Wolves’ Teeth”).

Arghors did indeed ride into battle upon a hawk, Muri the Hammerwing, and thus began the Wars in the Aether, in which Arghors Khan would eventually slay the last of the Fire-Drakes. This should not be interpreted as the Ayunyeri’un forming an alliance with the Belochyar or coming to the aid of the Kintaran lands south of the Har-Kizir; Arghors was acting entirely in self-interest as the people of the Achyanak shared a long-standing hatred for the Vraçii. No relations between the Belochyar and any of the tribes of the Achyanak ever evolved.

With the threat of dragons gone, the Belochyar continued to grow in number, and as they did, they sought out new lands for farming and constructing trade centers. The Malkanoi Belochyar clan occupied the lands around the mouths of Celedoz, including the island between the river’s two forks, which in Belochyar are simply called Ezo-Celedoz and Dulo-Celedoz (ezo and dulo meaning “north” and “south” respectively). It was there that they founded a small trading port that they christened Haragrund (“Peaceful Garden”); from that modest village carved out of the dense deciduous forest would grow the largest city in the Kintaran lands and, eventually, the capital of the Kingdom of Belocharas.

The Varsakoi Belochyar clan had originally moved into the marshy lands immediately south of Celedoz, but found this area difficult to eke out a stable living, so they marched southward, putting them into conflict with the Vihichai and Duchai tribes. The Varsakoi were successful in their campaigns, carving out a territory between Celedoz and the Vali-Hazlad. In time, they would develop cultural and linguistic differences with the rest of the Belochyar, and they would eventually stop calling themselves Belochyar altogether, becoming the Varsakh (or Varsakian) nation.

As the clans’ territories expanded, conflicts with other tribes (as well as with the other Belochyar clans) were inevitable. One of the most devastating episodes in the greater war between the Kintaran tribes was the Battle of the Bloody Hills, in which a Belochyar army under the command of the Saganoi chieftain Aryen Rendelos engaged a Kirlanni force under the chieftain Libanec in the highlands south of Celedoz. Seeing that his numbers were greater than Libanec’s, and confident that his warriors were of better stock than the “barbarian” (in his own words) Kirlanni, Aryen made camp early while he sent men to reconnoiter the area. But Libanec had lured Aryen into letting his guard down. Making matters worse was the fact that the Belochyar scouts decided to plunder the villages along Celedoz, giving motivation to the already enraged Kirlanni. Libanec struck at dusk, overwhelming Aryen’s guards and slaughtering many Belochyar before Aryen could form a cohesive defense. While the Belochyar did fight off the initial assault, the battle was far from over. When Aryen took the field the next day, instead of concentrating his full force in a charge against Libanec’s ranks, he sent half his army into the heights in secret. While his frontal assault was repelled with relative ease, Aryen’s retreat was a strategically calculated feint in which he drew the Kirlanni force into a position where his reserve force hidden in the hills could flank them. But Aryen was horrified when the reserve army attacked not the Kirlanni force but their own tribesmen. Libanec had known of a long-standing feud between Aryen and Sindric of the Himmanoi Belochyar clan, and secretly forged an alliance with Sindric, whose men had already occupied the heights that Aryen had ordered taken. Though a brief skirmish had broken out between the Saganoi and Himmanoi warriors, many of the former opted to lay down their arms in surrender rather than slay their brothers, and not a small number even joined the Himmanoi force, betraying their deeply unpopular chieftain. The joint forces of Libanec and Sindric overwhelmed the Saganoi army, and Aryen was killed, though the Saganoi would eventually claim the highlands a few centuries later.

The alliance between the Himmanoi clan and their Kirlanni neighbors did not last, however, as the Himmanoi and Hakenoi clans attacked the Kirlanni riverside settlements a decade later. The combined force overran the village of Ostonya and had surrounded Cillavalca, only agreeing not to raze the town after the chieftain agreed to pay an annual tribute of coin and slaves to the two Belochyar clans. This arrangement was short-lived, however, as the Himmanoi and Hakenoi were at war with each other within three years, and the Kirlanni took advantage of the turmoil to launch an assault on the Belochyar and push them back to Ostonya.

Attacks from the Khadagan

Though the tribal wars had caused great loss of life and property, they were typically resolved in short order through a combination of diplomacy and decisive military action. Beginning in approximately T.D. 225, however, a new threat emerged, one that was nigh impossible to defeat in the field or reason with at the table. As the khanates of the Khadagan grew in size and strength, they became emboldened to push beyond the Har-Caras, which had previously separated the agrarian societies of western Cildana from the nomadic hordes to the east. Indeed, so formidable were the mountains, and so seemingly impenetrable, that the Kintaran peoples once believed that they were the edge of the world.

The Khadagani had crossed the Har-Caras through the Celedhar (meaning “Mountain-Way”), a series of treacherous passes that joins with the headwaters of the Vali-Stribya in the western part of the range. While the dense forests west of the mountains did slow the horsemen, who were accustomed to open plains and treeless mountains, the regions that had been cleared for farming were decimated with lightning raids, with the Aratanni, Ornaznya, and Vuš Kalaiks tribes enduring the first assaults. The riders seemed to come out of nowhere, and some Kintaroi believed that the mountains themselves had spawned these ferocious and ruthless warriors.

While most Kintaran armies featured small companies of mounted warriors, they had never encountered the waves of mobile cavalry that bore down upon them from the eastern steppe. Oftentimes, the Khadagani hordes would destroy entire villages before any alarm could be raised, let alone any viable defense mounted. These raids compelled the Kintaran tribes to move, either northward toward the even more imposing Har-Kizir, or more often, westward toward the sea. As the inland tribes moved into Belochyar lands, the Belochyar in turn moved into the territories of neighboring clans, often resulting in armed conflict between the clans at a time when unity was paramount. Some Belochyar chose to sail across the narrow strait to their (putative) ancestral homeland of Dearviél and to seek refuge with the Vachedoi (Vacids), whom they viewed as their kinfolk and natural allies.

Those who remained knew that they needed to make common cause with the other Kintaroi and form a cohesive resistance against the raids, which were becoming both more frequent and more destructive. Whereas the first raids from the Khadagan saw riders plunder Kintaran villages, farms, and homesteads and then return to the Celedhar, by T.D. 250 the hordes were occupying the lands they had pillaged, often taking the Kintaran women as wives by force and making slaves (or corpses) of their children. Unbeknown to the Kintaran tribes, the raiders were themselves being pushed from their usual pasturing grounds by the growing Ganhar Khanate, which was quickly growing into a nomadic empire.

As the Khadagani became more sedentary, they became more vulnerable to the native tribes, and the Kintaran armies were able to fight the invaders on their own terms. Able to force the Khadagani into fighting dismounted, utilizing tactics to which the forests of western Cildana were more conducive, the Kintaran forces decimated the invaders, in part thanks to their superior armor and hand-wielded weapons—Belochyar chieftains’ long swords in particular were said to be able to cut straight through the blades of Khadagani falchions—but also due to their greater adeptness in close-quarters combat.

By T.D. 277, the conflict between the Kintaran tribes and the Khadagani invaders had ceased—temporarily, as it would be. Some Khadagani abandoned their pledge to fight until the death, laying down their arms and suing for peace. Some of the Belochyar clans allowed the surrendering Khadagani to remain in their lands, though they were forbidden to take Belochyar wives. Other clans, as well as other Kintaran tribes, refused to accept the invaders’ surrender, either slaughtering them or forcing them back to the river Stribya, where they were given the choice of returning to the Khadagan or begging the southern Kintaran tribes, the Vuš Kalaiks and the Ghorns, for quarter. These tribes were generally regarded as more barbarous than their northern kin, and distrusted, so most of the tribes north of Vali-Stribya were more inclined to execute their Khadagani captives than risk them forming alliances with the southern tribes.

With the Khadagani threat abated (for the nonce), relative peace returned to western Cildana. Fewer and fewer Belochyar left for Dearviél, and more towns and villages grew out of the wilderness. Trading ports like Ostonya and especially Haragrund grew into veritable cities, growing wealthy through commerce with Dearviél, the Northmen of Cildana, and the tribes to the south. Some enterprising mariners, upon hearing rumors of a wealthy and powerful island kingdom somewhere in southeastern Cildana (meaning the Ha’oha Kingdom), even launched a commercial expedition in that direction, but the entire fleet was lost in a storm off the continent’s southern coast.

Territorial skirmishes were commonplace, much like they were before the first hordes from the steppe came, but perhaps due to fears of another invasion from the Khadagan, no large-scale conflicts between the clans and tribes broke out. In fact, the period immediately following the Khadagani withdrawal saw a renaissance of diplomacy and trade within the Kintaran lands, which would lay the groundwork for the establishment of Belocharas two and a half centuries later. The Belochyar language became the (unofficial) diplomatic tongue of the Kintaran lands, largely because the Belochyar themselves were the most numerous in population and Haragrund had become the most popular trading hub (though Linraslan in the Duchai territory and Suvarmo in the Vihichai domains also prospered). Belochyar is also of the same language branch as that of the Kirlanni, Aratanni, and Ornaznya tribes, and while it is not mutually intelligible with the languages of the Duchai and Vihichai, many of the former’s merchant class spoke it (or at least had a rudimentary understanding of it) due to their proximity to the Belochyar.

Belochyar in Dearviél

The first waves of Belochyar to arrive in Dearviél were generally welcomed by the native Vacids, but many found adjustment to life there challenging. Few if any Belochyar spoke the Vacids’ language, and only a few Vacid nobles knew enough of the Belochyar tongue to communicate effectively. Vacid politics were drastically different from those of the mainland tribes; for instance, the Golden Owl, the Vacids’ high king, was not a “king” in the traditional sense, or a chieftain as the Belochyar were accustomed to, but more of a steward whose responsibility was mostly settling disputes between quarreling noble families. The primary sources of authority were the cathbrainead (landlords). As the Belochyar settled anywhere they could find a vacant plot of land, the idea that they were beholden to one family, rather than the leader of their clan, could be confusing. Many Belochyar immigrants were skilled craftsmen, predominantly woodworkers, blacksmiths, and weavers, and these often found employment in the independent towns, where they were under the aegis of the local mayor. Because of this sense of (relative) freedom, the Belochyar flocked to the towns; those without in-demand skills often sought apprenticeships with tradespeople, both Belochyar and Vacid, even if they otherwise would have been considered too old to learn a trade.

The largest culture shock for the newly-settled Belochyar, however, was the stark difference in faith. Whereas the Belochyar, like the other tribes of the mainland, revered the gods—particularly the five demiurge gods—and made offerings to them, the Vacids practiced a form of ancestor worship, praying instead to the spirits of the natural world and holding an antagonistic attitude toward the gods. This was the primary cause of friction between the Belochyar, who wished for groves and stone circles to be set aside for the gods, and the Vacids, who refused to build them for they believed that the gods were responsible for sapienkind’s suffering and the curse of death.

Despite their cultural differences with their new neighbors, the Belochyar in Dearviél enjoyed a great deal of prosperity, especially in comparison to their kinfolk who had remained on the mainland. Many Belochyar learned the Vacid language, which is notoriously difficult for outsiders to master, and intermarried even with noble houses, as well as with the Northmen who lived in the towns and sometimes worked nobles’ estates as tenant farmers. Some were even allowed to purchase land of their own. These landowners were not given the title of cathbrand but rather had the lesser moniker of branda (simply meaning “lord;” the Belochyar themselves translated this, quite liberally, as pana, the Belochyar title for a clan chieftain) bestowed upon them, and, while they sometimes attended the tir-carima, the tribal gathering in which the Golden Owl was elected and matters that affected the whole of the nation were debated, they were not active participants—though many Vacids brought their Belochyar neighbors’ petitions before the council as proxies.

But beneath the surface, friction between the two peoples had existed since the Belochyar first arrived on Dearviél’s shores. Much of this stemmed from the legend of Iteline (called Fionna in the Vacids’ version of the tale) and Sacathar. The Belochyar tale claimed that, when Iteline was slain, a faction of her brother’s men swore fealty to her and Sacathar, but these were forced out of Dearviél by those who remained loyal to their liege, and these exiles were the forebears of the Belochyar. The Vacids’ telling asserted that Fionna was kidnapped and raped, and that Sacathar was illegitimate, and that Fionna’s brother, called Fearhan the Younger in the Vacid story, was attempting to save his sister when Mokan killed her. Whereas Belochyar and Vacids had mostly passed these tales as children’s stories at first, they became weaponized as tensions grew.

Those tensions boiled over into all-out war in T.D. 283, when Tavar Orestan, the self-styled “chieftain” of a small plot of hitherto unclaimed land in the hills between the estates of the Vacid families Fiolamha and Mana, visited the town of Úlnadóth on the shore of Innis Adurië. There he encountered Teachshlaifhe Deafridhinon, the daughter of Glúinn, the town’s mayor, and became enamored with her (though his affection seems to have been unrequited). When Tavar approached Glúinn to ask for Teachshlaifhe’s hand in marriage, Glúinn declined, saying that his daughter should decide for herself if she wished to be wed. (Tavar probably didn’t understand that men and women had equal legal standing under the Vacid custom, and arranged marriages, especially outside noble houses, were uncommon and subject to the intended bride’s veto.) Wroth, Tavar again demanded that Glúinn give up his daughter. This time, Glúinn laughed in Tavar’s face, and he said: “I’d walk this earthly tomb as a wraith until all is undone before I let my daughter be soiled by mainland swine.” At that, Tavar drew his dagger, leveled it at Glúinn’s throat, and pledged that, if a fortnight had passed and Glúinn had not yet acceded to the marriage, he would burn Úlnadóth to the ground, slaughter its people, hang Glúinn and his wife, Deafridh, and take Teachshlaifhe for himself. The Battle of Úlnadóth, the first engagement between Vacids and non-Vacid Kintaroi in Dearviél since at least the time of Darandiné, was thus fought. Notably, Glúinn did not seek the aid of any of the nearby cathbrainead, but chose instead to hire a company of Winterborn mercenaries to defend the town. This is likely because Glúinn did not wish to incur the debt of any landlord, especially the Fiolamhaí, who could muster only a modest force of their own but were under the aegis of the extremely powerful Cathanda Caragrinda.

The defeat at Úlnadóth did not deter other Belochyar leaders from enacting hostile actions. Another Belochyar landowner, Margamal Lempkanes, tried to cement his position as undisputed leader of the Belochyar in Dearviél by leading an assault on the fortified town of Linnot Annavian. The fortress, built atop a large black rock the size of a small mountain, seemed nearly impregnable, but both the town and the posts supporting it were lightly garrisoned, mostly by Winterborn mercenaries for no Vacid nobles held lands in the marshy Denawyld region. Though Margamal eventually had victory, this coming nearly six months after he first laid siege to the town, the massive loss of life inflicted on the Belochyar forces caused many of Margamal’s allies to disavow him.

During this time, anti-Belochyar sentiment among the Vacids had boiled over, particularly thanks to a movement led by the Vacid nobleman Floghain Luachmathea, a son of his family’s master of estate who had renounced his nobility, adopted the customs and faith of his Belochyar neighbors, and led a nonviolent resistance movement against what he called the “oppression of the cathbrainead” and the rejection of the gods. Floghain took the Belochyar name Baranc, and his followers became the Baravacids. While Baranc himself lived a solitary ascetic life, being dubbed “Baranc the Leper” for his reclusiveness, his followers became increasingly vocal and sometimes hostile (which ran contrary to Baranc’s revulsion for violence). Most Vacids deemed the Baravacids of both heresy and sedition, the latter being a crime of negation under Vacid law and thus condemning one to outlawry and an effective death sentence. Moreover, they blamed the Baravacids for influencing their kinfolk, and reprisals against Belochyar residents and their property were swift and often unpunished by the Vacid authorities.

In T.D. 289, a Vacid force attempted to retake Linnot Annavian. This was to have been a coordinated campaign led by the Cathbrand aí-Caragrindaí, but rather waiting for the full host to gather, the impulsive Gretiwoln, Cathbrand aí-hIdearaí led his men into the marshland around the fortress, encamping his vanguard on a prominent hillock well outside the range of Margamal’s archers but close enough that the defenders could see that their enemy was present. Margamal sent a force out to engage the attackers, which Gretiwoln dispatched quickly, using men hidden behind the many rocks and ridges in the bog and riding in from old crannogs in the myriad ponds. Then Gretiwoln stormed the fortress, surprised to find it empty. Instead of performing a thorough search of the obsidian mountain, Gretiwoln was satisfied with his success and ordered his men to prepare a victory feast. At midnight, Margamal’s warriors crept out of their hides inside the rock and slaughtered the Vacids to a man as they slept, cutting off their enemies’ heads and mounting them on oaken palisades that they displayed around the fortress’s perimeter.

Linnot Annavian would be retaken by the Vacids, led by a strong Caragrinda army, the next year. The Belochyar attempted to retaliate in T.D. 295 by gathering as many fighting men, including some Baravacids and mercenaries from among the Northmen, as they could and marching on the Caragrinda stronghold of Dúingreath, but this army was routed, due in no small part to the presence of the Storm Owls, the Vacids’ elite guild of warriors, at the defenders’ van. The Belochyar consider this the beginning of their expulsion from Dearviél, as the landowning Belochyar had their estates confiscated by the Golden Owl and their titles nullified (though some who had adopted Vacid surnames were allowed to keep their landholds). These mostly opted to flee to the mainland, and many Belochyar tradespeople and Baravacids followed them. It is incorrect, however, to call the exodus an “expulsion,” as more Belochyar remained in Dearviél than departed, and no formal decree was made expelling the Belochyar or any other nation. Furthermore, many Belochyar—including those who had fled Dearviél—would return to the island within a decade as the Ganhar Khanate conquered the Kintaran lands of Cildana.

The Ganhar Conquest

The Khadagani raids of the mid-200s were the actions of small, disparate khanates whose original successes were as much a factor of the speed and surprise of their assaults. But when riders from the steppe returned to western Cildana in T.D. 298, they were something that the Khadagan—and their Kintaran victims—had never seen before.

How and when the Ganhar Khanate formed is not known, as the Khadagani do not keep written records and their oral histories are of great victories and conquests rather than of origins and other banal matters. What is certain is that they very quickly became the dominant power in the Khadagan under the utterly ruthless leadership of Suhtaras Khan, who slew at least a dozen of his rival khans within his first year at the head of his horde, taking their wives as concubines and their sons as battle-slaves while winning their riders to his side with his skill and reputation.

Though Suhtaras had earned repute for his brutality, he also grew into a skilled administrator, a skill that served him well as his conquests extended beyond the traditional nomadic lands of the Khadagan and into the more sedentary settlements in the southern mountains and along the trade routes from the eastern mercantile states. Though he’d originally dealt with the peoples he encountered in the south and east much the same way he had with his rival khans, razing cities, scorching farms, and putting entire populations to the sword, he quickly learned that there was profit in diplomacy, provided that said diplomacy was backed with the threat of utter annihilation.

These new skills served Suhtaras well when he turned his attention to the west and sent his armies through the Celedhar as his predecessors had done—though Suhtaras did not actually lead the invasion of the Kintaran lands, instead remaining in the Khadagan with the bulk of his horde and leaving the campaign across the Har-Caras to his eldest sons, Orgushin and Bayakhim.

The twenty-one years since the last raid had lulled the Kintaran tribes into a sense of complacency, and the initial Ganhar onslaught was devastating, especially to the southern tribes, which Suhtaras had commanded Orgushin to attack, knowing that they were relatively weak and could not rely on the support of their northern kin. Orgushin quickly earned a dark reputation, and the Vuš Kalaiks named him “Bloodyhands.” Bayakhim, though younger, had more of his father’s instincts, and, having listened to the accounts of raiders from the previous campaigns who had returned to the Khadagan, he knew of the northern Kintaran tribes’ skill. He later confided to one of his Kintaran subordinates that his greatest fear in his conquest was that the Belochyar clans should unite under one banner, at which point he deemed they would be insurmountable.

With this in mind, Bayakhim’s strategy focused as much on pitting the Belochyar clans against one another as on open battle, just as he had done with the other Kintaran nations. (Bayakhim’s initial success against the Aratanni tribe came thanks in no small part to a large number of Ornaznya joining his host after he promised them their neighbors’ more abundant lands.) While Bayakhim lacked his brother’s reputation for bloodshed, he was in truth just as brutal in dealing with his enemies, nearly wiping the Aratanni out entirely and forcing the survivors to flee into the Har-Kizir, then sacking the bustling Kirlanni river town of Cillavalca with such slaughter that Celedoz ran red for seven days.

Bayakhim’s attempts to play the Belochyar clans off each other met with failure, however, and after the destruction of Cillavalca, the Hakenoi Belochyar chieftain Haladric Vadrasilion led a counterattack that pinned Bayakhim’s forces against the river. When Bayakhim attempted to cross the river in the night and flee, he was ambushed by another Belochyar force under the Varsakoi leader Aracul Apayones, who had been lying in wait in the hills on the southern riverbank. Aracul’s archers picked off Bayakhim’s men as they crossed a single narrow bridge. Those who tried to retreat were waylaid by Haladric’s force, while those who made it across the bridge were hewn to pieces by Aracul’s warriors. When dawn rose, Bayakhim’s entire host—including Bayakhim himself—lay in heaps, and Celedoz once again flowed crimson.

Punitive Actions and Subjugation

When word reached Orgushin of his brother’s death, he was said to have gotten so angry that he strangled ten of his concubines with his bare hands. Having suppressed the Ghorns and Vuš Kalaiks, Orgushin mobilized his forces—including many men from his new Kintaran conquests, eager to settle their grudges with their northern kin—and marched north.

Orgushin was known (behind his back, of course) as Orgushin the Arrogant for his utter refusal to listen to any of his advisers (and usually have them killed if they disputed him or offered advice that he disliked). Because of this, instead of using the ships provided him by his newfound allies to attack the Belochyar, whom he correctly identified as his most pressing threat, directly at Haragrund, Orgushin, perhaps out of the Khadagani distrust of open water, instead led his riders through the decimated Aratanni lands. The lack of any major resistance meant that Orgushin was able to reach the Kirlanni territory with great speed, but his choice of route had been predicted by the Kirlanni and Belochyar leadership and confirmed by scouts. This enabled those tribes not only to mount a solid defense but also to leverage their newfound diplomatic relations and call upon the Vihichai for aid. As the Khadagani force engaged the northern armies on the plain of Kirlanya, the Vihichai sent a force of their own through the Har-Kulos, taking Orgushin’s forces in the rear and compelling the nomad prince to fall back south of the Vali-Stribya.

After licking his wounds (and dispatching several more concubines with his hands), Orgushin planned another attack northward—this time taking the advice of his Vuš Kalaiks allies and plotting an assault from the sea. Once the strategy was set, Orgushin is said to have cut out his Kintaran advisers’ tongues, lest they take credit for the plans and presumed victory. The assault came as a complete surprise to the Belochyar and Duchai, who had assumed that the Ganhar feared the sea and thus would not attack from the west. So certain were the northern Kintaran that the Khadagani would not come by sea that, when the lookouts saw the sails of the massive fleet, they assumed that they were part of a large trading delegation. Even when it was clear that the ships were heading for the mouth of Ezo-Celedoz, comparatively lightly defended versus Dulo-Celedoz, at whose mouth sits the walled city of Haragrund, the scouts guessed that the ships were those of Northmen coming to raid. Thus, they were slow to raise any alarms.

The delay proved disastrous. Orgushin’s army landed amid heavy but ultimately futile resistance from the smaller fortifications to the north, then marched south at a quick pace and surrounded Haragrund on all sides, using his Vuš Kalaiks and Ghornish subordinates to take the perimeter south of the river. The prospect of a prolonged siege displeased the impatient Orgushin, however, so he attempted to trick the defenders into opening the gates. At night, he sent a group of cloaked men to dig holes in the ground around the walls near the front gate, just deep enough for them to climb inside, covering themselves entirely with earth and breathing through wooden tubes. Then, at dawn, he sent an emissary to the gate under the guise of negotiating the city’s surrender. When the Belochyar opened the doors, Orgushin’s hidden men sprang from their hides and stormed the gate guards, overwhelming them before the gates could be barred again. Seeing that the advance party had held the gate open, Orgushin’s main force made its assault. Haragrund’s inhabitants made a valiant defense, inflicting heavy casualties on the Khadagani host with arrows, javelins, and projectiles fired from catapults and ballistae, but the bulk of Orgushin’s army reached the gate and poured into the city. Brutal combat in the streets ensued, with the defenders using their knowledge of the city and superior close-quarters combat to their advantage. But in the end, Orgushin’s force was simply too large, and was made larger when a second Khadagani host arrived outside the city, this one led by Khulush, son of the vanquished Bayakhim, who had received reinforcements from the khan. Upon seeing the second army, the Belochyar chose to surrender. Orgushin, never known for his mercy, commenced a campaign of wholesale slaughter, smiting men, women, children, animals, and even a number of his own men who took pity on the civilians and tried to help them flee the city. When dawn arose the next morning, a grisly sight welcomed travelers to Haragrund: a mountain made from the severed heads of her citizens.

Orgushin’s barbarism proved to be his undoing, as word spread of the slaughter at Haragrund, galvanizing the support of the Belochyar and their neighboring tribes. Khulush, never fond of Orgushin to begin with, saw an opportunity to rally the Kintaran to his side. Whereas Orgushin had been the quintessential Khadagani warrior, Khulush had learned much of the value of diplomacy, much like his grandfather the khan. This is not to suggest that Khulush was not a skilled warrior. On the contrary; even at a young age, he had proved both a fierce fighter and an adept strategist. While Khulush, like other Khadagani, had deemed the Kintaran peoples to be inferior (and ugly), he was impressed with their bravery and skill in battle and viewed them as useful to his personal ambitions.

One of those ambitions was ridding himself of Orgushin, who routinely insulted his nephew’s manhood. Knowing that Orgushin would likely spew another such slander, especially when deep in his horn of bikhu (a fermented milk beverage popular in the Khadagan), Khulush accepted Orgushin’s invitation to the victory feast following the conquest of Haragrund. Sure enough, as he boasted of his deeds in the battle, Orgushin called Khulush a coward for not fighting—even though Orgushin had explicitly ordered him to hold his position to defend against any Belochyar reinforcements. But Orgushin didn’t stop there, also dubbing his nephew atadh’arakha, meaning “horned-girl” (essentially “girl with a penis”). In Khadagani culture, questioning a warrior’s masculinity is an especially grave affront, and Khulush was almost obligated to challenge Orgushin to single combat to defend his honor—exactly as Khulush had planned. The next day, Khulush fought Orgushin and slew him. As per custom, he ordered Orgushin’s closest bondsmen slaughtered beside their commander.

Khulush sent his riders to gather the Kintaran chieftains at Cillavalca, where he presented Orgushin’s head as an offering of peace—with the caveat that, should any of those present continue to resist the Ganhar, they would end up like Orgushin. But Khulush understood the value in a “carrot-and-stick” approach to placating his subjects. He promised that no further destruction would come to the Kintaran if they accepted their lot as vassals to the Ganhar Khanate. The chieftains, shaken by the massacre at Haragrund, laid down their arms.

Suhtaras himself would cross the Har-Caras the next year to interrogate Khulush on the death of Orgushin, who had been one of the khan’s favorite sons. The khan was impressed by Khulush’s management of the Kintaran lands. Ironically, whereas the Khadagani had previously sneered at the Kintaran and other agrarian peoples, the Ganhar themselves were becoming more and more sedentary, finding profit from taxing the trade routes that ran through the southern parts of the steppe. Suhtaras saw an opportunity to grow his coffers even more by facilitating trade between the Kintaran and the lands to the south and east. Therefore, he ordered Khulush to expand the Celedhar, making travel through the Har-Caras more feasible and safer. Khulush’s engineering corps was made up heavily of Belochyar. They also carved a second series of mountain roads in the southern portion of the Kintaran lands, in Vuš Kalaiks territory, establishing the trading port of Varchimid at the roots of the mountains. Though this would see much wealth flow into the region, the Vuš Kalaiks balked at the presence of so many northerners in their domain.

While the fortunes of the Belochyar and their neighbors did improve under the new trade regime, word spread that the Vacids of Dearviél, under the leadership of the high king Gormfreith Eirendranga, had successfully completed an expedition to the western continent and established a series of trading ports, which would come to be known collectively as The Twelve. While many Belochyar in particular were hesitant to return to Dearviél, recalling the nature of their kinfolk’s exile just a few years prior, others recognized the prospect of prosperity free from the Ganhar yoke and departed for Dearviél in the hopes of joining what would come to be called the Great Sailing. Thus, a new wave of Belochyar, along with other Kintaran peoples (notably the Öreacha, whose language and customs more closely resemble those of the Vacids than the other Kintaran tribes), arrived in Dearviél, either joining the expeditions westward or finding employment in the many trades that supported the massive endeavor. The renewed relationship between the mainland tribes and the Vacids would prove invaluable to the former in the decades to come.

The Belochyar under Savaqa Khan

Once the trade routes through the Har-Caras were established, the hostility between the Kintaran peoples and their Khadagani overlords dissipated. Resentment still lingered, and intermingling between the native people of western Cildana and those from the steppe was almost unheard of, but few organized rebellions broke out, and those that did were usually localized and a result of unfair taxation (or the perception thereof) or similar matters. The khans and their appointed governors generally allowed their subjects to conduct their affairs after their own fashion. As with their other conquered lands, the Ganhar allowed the Kintaran to practice their own religions and customs. Most importantly apropos of keeping order in the conquered territories, they ensured that a steady flow of profit found its way into the Kintaran lands. Taxes were high—excessively so, according to many chieftains and merchants—but few could argue that the Kintaran tribes were better off before the trade routes opened up.

When Savaqa Khan took power in T.D. 429 at the age of twenty, he seemed poised to continue the policies that had ensured the compliance of the khanate’s conquered peoples. But though his rule lasted an astonishing seventy-seven years, it was marred by both unforeseen events beyond the khan’s control and rash decision-making on his part. First among the latter was the baffling decision to attempt to conquer the city of Amlakhan, through which most trade in Cildana went, in the sixth year of his reign. Previous khans, even among the powerful Ganhar, were content to leave Amlakhan be, even offer some of their horsemen to defend the city, for fear that any hostile act might compel the highly influential merchants there to suspend all trade, which could potentially bankrupt the khanate, which was now dependent on trade revenue rather than being the self-sufficient nomadic empire that it grew out of. Attacking the city would be no easy task, even for a powerful force like the Ganhar’s, as the nobles of Amlakhan had plenty of coin with which to hire mercenaries from all parts.

Savaqa decided that he, and not the warlord-governor of Amlakhan, should control the trade routes through the Khadagan, and in the summer of T.D. 435 he laid siege to the city. Amlakhan’s armies broke the siege with alarming quickness, taking their revenge by suspending all trade with the Ganhar and their vassal states (as well as inflicting severe casualties on the khan’s army). This abrupt cessation of commerce decimated the economies of the Kintaran tribes. Many former tradespeople were forced back to a life of subsistence farming, often having to eke out a living on whatever meager lands they could till. Some fled the region entirely, seeking sanctuary in Dearviél and Amlakhan or making the perilous journey across the sea.

The effects of the loss of trade were amplified in 459 when a plague swept across Cildana. The disease affected both people and livestock, causing both sickness and starvation among the Kintaran, and few farms could produce enough food to compensate for the loss of so many animals. Furthermore, the disease had soon spread to wildlife, so subsistence through hunting was untenable. The only reliable source of meat, then, was from fish; though this meant great profit for the riverside settlements, it also meant that the fishermen had a difficult time fulfilling all the demand. The Kintaran chieftains, who were allowed to keep their titles and statuses but were subordinate to governors and tax collectors in service to the Ganhar, pleaded with the khan’s authorities to reopen the trade routes so that cures and foodstuffs from the east could be procured, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. The chieftains, and the people, cursed the Kintaran bureaucrats for their indifference to the suffering of their kinfolk, and for taking considerable profits while the people died.

Desperate, the Hakenoi Belochyar chieftain Valyeric Orkanes and his Kirlanni colleague Tondreg son of Tonomond sailed to Dearviél to beg for aid from the Vacids. The Vacids obliged by sending a fleet of ships loaded with grains, salted fish, meat, and vegetables to Cillavalca, which was among the places hardest hit by the plague. But the Ganhar administrators confiscated the gift and divided it among themselves and their armies rather than distributing it to the people. The Vacids were furious at this, and several nobles gathered their forces to launch a retaliatory raid on the Ganhar facilities at Cillavalca. This force was bolstered by a large contingent of Belochyar and Duchai warriors who marched alongside the fleet as it sailed up Celedoz. Unfortunately, some of the raiders pillaged the city in the aftermath of the attack, and several, including a Vacid nobleman, were executed by the khan’s men.

Savaqa’s misadventures continued when merchants and warriors from the khanate’s southern conquests banded together and demanded independence. Among this group’s number, it was rumored, were warlocks and sorcerers who could fell entire armies with their dark magic. Despite this, Savaqa attempted to quell the rebellion, but was once again unsuccessful, with many of his riders mysteriously falling ill, likely due to some devices of the warlocks. Finally realizing that he couldn’t outlast the enemy through attrition, he conceded the rebels’ lands, which would soon become the nation of Khodryzh. As the nascent state expanded, it absorbed Amlakhan, which became its capital city.

Alarmed by Khodryzh’s meteoric rise, and knowing that the merchants there wished to reestablish trade with the Kintaran lands, Savaqa blockaded the Celedhar and moved additional forces into western Cildana. To the Kintaran tribes, this was nothing less than a full-scale military occupation. It was against this backdrop that the Kintaran themselves would begin to contemplate independence. What began as localized mumblings in alehouses and on fishing quays grew louder, even amid the threat of death by hanging on charges of sedition.

Savaqa Khan lay on his deathbed in early T.D. 506, ignorant to the secret meeting between the Kintaran chieftains that was taking place in the shadow of Hormenvush (“Snow-Spire”), the tallest peak of the Har-Kulos. It was at this meeting that a Belochyar chieftain of relatively modest acclaim, Amandric Yerevolos of the Malkanoi clan, was elected to lead a united Kintaran coalition against the Ganhar.

Savaqa died on 21 Nifasté 506 at the age of ninety-seven. He left the khanate in the hands of his favorite grandson, Saghave. Sixty-four days later, on 2 Amhrané, Amandric’s coalition would strike the first blow in what would be a bloody six-year struggle for freedom.

Resistance and Fight for Independence

It is said that Amandric was chosen to lead the Kintaran coalition because he had the greatest reason to hate the Ganhar. He was descended from the brother of a woman who was unfortunate enough to have been taken as a concubine by infamous concubine-strangler Orgushin (and was indeed a victim of his rage). Amandric’s own brother was stabbed and killed by a Khadagani without cause; the perpetrator was not punished for his crime on account of his loyalty to the khan. While the chieftains gathered under Hormenvush all loathed the Ganhar, the desire for revenge burned hottest in Amandric.

In addition to the Kintaran tribes from north of the Vali-Stribya, the coalition received support from an unexpected source: the Baçu-Kurgins, a nomadic people from the northern Khadagan whose culture and language share some similarities to those of the Achyanak and whose religion incorporates some elements that resemble those found in the Kintaran faith (such as the belief in five demiurge gods, as opposed to the quasi-monotheism of the prevailing Khadagani faith). Always fiercely independent, the Baçu-Kurgins had especially come to despise the Ganhar’s embrace of sedentary ideals, ruthless pursuit of wealth, and imperialistic attitude toward conquered peoples. The tribe’s chieftain, Armhanduni, offered to fight with the Kintaran coalition, giving Amandric’s army a much-needed mobile cavalry element; this was not a standing alliance but an expression of mutual self-interest. The two sides swore that, should they be successful, they would honor each other’s sovereignty, essentially swearing a non-aggression pact.

The coalition’s initial actions consisted of raids on strategic targets like Otovaman and Varchimid, which the Ganhar deemed more vital than the coastal cities due to their proximity to the Khadagan. These raids were actually strategic feints, designed to force the Ganhar to pursue the raiders so that the main body could ambush them. This worked to great success at Otovaman, but was less successful at Varchimid, as the Vuš Kalaiks chieftain had sided with the Ganhar (though some tribesmen were secretly supportive of Amandric and lent aid to the attack).

In 508, Amandric took into his service a young squire, a blacksmith’s son from the Hakenoi Belochyar clan to whom Amandric himself had once been a ward. Though a boy of eleven at the time, Sacatyer son of Sacathar discharged his duties like a veteran and, while much too young to do battle, he showed promise as a budding swordsman, training with Amandric’s two sons, Donimund (age nineteen) and Strigismund (seventeen), both of whom were accomplished warriors in their own right.

For the next four years, the Kintaran coalition would secure a number of tactical victories, but on a strategic level, showed frustratingly scant progress. In early Iochain of T.D. 512, Amandric and his commanders implemented a battle plan that they hoped would prove to be the decisive victory that they had sought for six years. Some months earlier, Amandric had devised a risky and difficult plan to split his army into two, sending a mostly Aratanni and Ornaznya force to fortify the Celedhar to prevent the khan from sending reinforcements. Of course, this meant that he had only half his warriors available to him when he fell back to the land east of Haragrund, between the branches of the river Celedoz, where he would mount a final assault meant to decimate the khanate’s armies.

The battle plan itself carried its own risks for Amandric had positioned all but his Baçu-Kurgin allies on the island between the Forks of the Celedoz, where the Ganhar could easily surround them and, if the Baçu-Kurgins were defeated, simply besiege the defenders and starve them out. Amandric had received word, however, that the Feacthengead of Dearviél, who had long supplied mercenaries to fight with Amandric’s men, had officially broken their neutrality and were preparing a strong force of five thousand warriors (which, in truth, ended up being closer to seven thousand, with the Golden Owl’s ranks being bolstered by Winterborn mercenaries), spearheaded by the Vacid high king’s elite fighting force known as the Storm Owls. The Vacid force would land upriver, taking the khan’s forces from the rear, while the Baçu-Kurgin cavalry would remain south of the river, cutting off the Ganhar escape route.

Thus began the Battle of the Forks of the Celedoz. On the morning of the battle, the Kintaran chieftains presented Amandric with a crown, consummating an idea that they had been collectively discussing almost since the freedom movement began: coalescence into a single kingdom, a unified confederation of eight broadly autonomous nations under a single high king (this number would eventually grow to nine with the addition of the Vacids). Thrice did Amandric refuse the crown, but the chieftains would not accept any other leader.

Alas, Amandric would never wear the crown for he was slain within the first hour of battle. The manner of his departure is not recorded, only that he fought valiantly. The Kintaran coalition lost heart after the new king’s fall, and might have broken and fled even with victory so near at hand, if not for two factors: the arrival of the Vacid army under Hamath Eirendranga, which not only joined with a small Belochyar force that Amandric had sent to reconnoiter the area to encircle the Ganhar but also led an assault on the Ganhar camps, decimating their supplies and slaughtering or stealing most of their packhorses and replacement mounts; and the emergence of a new leader who took it upon himself to take up the king’s banner, rally the dispirited Kintaran, and lead them to victory. That leader was none other than Sacatyer son of Sacathar, formerly Amandric’s fifteen-year-old squire, who slew the Ganhar commander with the fallen king’s sword. The Ganhar led a disjointed retreat back to the Celedhar, where they were harangued and picked off by the Kintaran host guarding the passes.

Sacatyer would come to be known as Sacatyer the Bold for his heroism, and, with the consensus of the Kintaran chieftains and the sons of King Amandric, the crown was given to him. Ten days after the battle—the nine days customarily reserved for mourning the loss of a leader, plus another for such was the love that Sacatyer, and the Kintaran coalition at large, had borne Amandric—Sacatyer I Sacathrion was officially coronated as the first of the Sacathrioni Dynasty, the lasting line of kings of what was now known as Belocharas, the Luminous Kingdom.

Of the deeds of Sacatyer and his heirs upon the Throne of Amandric more can be learned in the Annals of the Sacatid Line of Belocharas.

Politics and Law

Prior to the Ganhar raids, and especially the formation of the Kingdom of Belocharas, Belochyar power structures were largely decentralized, much more than other mainland Kintaran tribes, with much legal authority placed at the familial and clannish levels rather than in the tribal leadership, who served mostly as a central figure during times of conflict but otherwise served more as a steward and arbiter of disputes than an absolute ruler. As threats to the Belochyar grew, the clan chieftains, and eventually the tribe’s high king, began consolidating more power. By the time Belocharas was founded, the noble families saw much of their autonomy stripped away, though influential noblemen still had much sway over who would be chosen as their clan’s chieftain, who in turn selected a high king through consensus. The political structure of Belocharas, in which a council of the constituent nations (tribes) was formed to act as an counsel to the king, largely mirrored the relationship between the Belochyar high king and the clan chieftains in the last years of the Belochyar’s existence as an independent tribe.

The effective head of government is the high king, or hayan (pl.: hayanoi) in the Belochyar language (the feminine form huyen is used for ruling queens, a small number of whom had served prior to the foundation of Belocharas; the kingdom’s laws currently forbid a woman from sitting the Throne of Amandric, though Jenesse did serve in that capacity, albeit off the official records, while King Olaister came of age). Clan leaders are called panoi (singular: pana), which translates roughly to “chieftain” and is also the title used by the earls of Belocharas. Noblemen hold the title of mocas, literally “powerful man” (the feminine form is mocyen, “powerful woman”), generally translated simply as “lord” or “lady.” (The plural form, for either gender, is mocanoi.)


The Belochyar tribe is further divided into clans that function under a singular high chieftain (or high king) chosen by the consensus of the clan leaders. Throughout the tribe’s history, there have been as few as three such clans (early in their written records) and as many as eight. There are currently six recognized clans.

Sometime during the early years (the records are unclear on when), the Varsakoi clan, whose lands were further south than any other Belochyar clan’s, became sundered from the other clans, and in time, their language and customs changed, incorporating ideas from the neighboring Duchai, until they had become unrecognizable from the other Belochyar. They thus began calling themselves Varsakh (or Varsakians, as they are often called by the remaining Belochyar) and declared themselves an independent tribe. This was originally met with some friction, but no major conflicts broke out between the tribes and they currently enjoy cordial relations. After the majority of Kintaran nations fell under the aegis of the Kingdom of Belocharas, the Varsakh would be formally recognized as a people entirely independent of the Belochyar. During the great plague of T.D. 459, while the Kintaran nations languished under the hegemony of the Ganhar Khanate, the Asuinoi were decimated, their chieftain dying without an heir, and they dissolved as a formal entity, being absorbed into the Saganoi.

The eight Belochyar clans at their height were:



Geographical Area

Patron Deity



lakelands, south of Celedoz




south of Vali-Odra




northern lands, east of Ostoslev, beneath the Har-Kizir




between the rivers Ostoslev and Celedoz




northern lands, west of Ostoslev, beneath the Har-Kizir




coastal areas north of Celedoz and between its forks




central highlands south of Celedoz




forests between Celedoz highlands and Vali-Hazlad



The Belochyar are known to be great lovers of story. Poetry is less favored than long-form prose; Belochyar bards might speak for hours at a time, and will seldom lose their audience. These stories might tell of the gods, legendary heroes, or a family’s ancestors. In Belocharan times, the lives of the kings may also be recounted. However, it is generally considered uncouth for a storyteller to boast of his/her own deeds.

While spoken poetry is less common than in other Kintaran tribes, the Belochyar are great lovers of song. Wind and percussion instruments are most common, though lyres and zithers may also be found, and, during the Khadagani occupation, many Belochyar musicians adopted the kimaqa, a two-stringed horse-hair fiddle prized by the nomads. Because of the Belochyar’s reverence for trees, musical instruments are only made from deadfall. Belochyar believe that, by making music with fallen wood, they are both honoring the tree by making song upon it and imbuing that song with the spirit of the tree. Belochyar music is reputed for its earthy, droning, almost hypnotic aura, accompanied by singing that is often a deep, monotone chant, usually with multiple voices.

Religious Beliefs

The Belochyar refer to the gods as “the cosmic mariners,” though no legend tells of their place of origin within the cosmos. Like most other Kintaran tribes, the Belochyar have at the apex of their pantheon the four craftsman deities—Salion, Eryda, Greathain, and Vilenya—and Erd the Life-Giver. Even though these names come from the Vacid language (and, more than likely, Fae-speech before it), they are the names the Belochyar give to the five high gods.

There is little distinction between the lesser deities and what other cultures refer to as Fae. The named deities are often seen as leaders of Fae-tribes, differentiated by which trees they dwell within or under. The Belochyar term for these beings is stara-domajan, meaning “old sky-dwellers.” In Belochyar legends, all Fae are capable of flight, and no distinction is made between the likes of Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarves in the manner that other tribes might divide these beings up based on their habitat. This stems from the Belochyar belief that whatever form the Fae/gods take in the material world is merely illusion, and that said form may change at their whims.

While the five high gods are deeply revered by the Belochyar, they are also viewed as distant ethereal entities, and the Belochyar religion is focused more on the worship of the stara-domajan, who are associated with the functions and maintenance of the natural world (unlike the Vacids, the Belochyar do not see the material world as corrupt or errant). The Fae are particularly connected to trees in Belochyar beliefs, hence the tribe’s deep love for the forests in which they dwell. As such, any cutting of wood is conducted in conjunction with a religious ritual, asking for the forgiveness and blessing of the deity associated with that type of tree. Belochyar will only fell trees in the uttermost need (which may have driven the transition from wooden dwellings to ones made of stone), such as the making of ships or fuel for forges.

Some of the primary deities in the Kintaran pantheon, beyond the five high gods, are:

Aeren, the god of healing and of dreams, who is linked to birch trees;

Almikos, the god of drink and of pleasure, who is linked to hemlock trees;

Bardinthe, the goddess of music and poetry who is linked to rowan trees;

Daranthe, the goddess of virtue and twin of Almikos, who is linked to hawthorn trees;

Dini, the sun-god, who is linked to hornbeam trees;

Evular, the god of fresh water, who is linked to walnut trees;

Giel, the goddess of death and guardian of souls, who is linked to chestnut trees;

Grunacta, the goddess of love and fertility, who is linked to elm trees;

Kilas, the god of war, who is linked to ash trees;

Kustos, the god who is friend to animals, who is linked to crabapple trees;

Loni, the moon-god (twin brother of Dini), who is linked to fir trees;

Manya, the protector goddess, who is linked to maple trees;

Marya, the matron of seafarers (twin sister of Manya), who is linked to poplar trees;

Nocis, the god of magic and of arcane knowledge, who is linked to mahogany trees;

Rovenna, the goddess who teaches, who is linked to locust trees;

Ruthiel, the goddess of birth and patroness of mothers, who is linked to cedar trees;

Sierhe, the goddess of wisdom and practical knowledge, who is linked to willow trees;

Thalian, the god of justice, who is linked to oak trees;

Vrintashka, the goddess of the harvest and of the hunt, who is linked to aspen trees;

Vulo, the god of the winds and storms, who is linked to pine trees.


While the Belochyar claim to have originated in Dearviél, the language they presently speak is unintelligible from the prevailing tongues of that island, and much more akin to the languages spoken among the mainland Kintaran tribes. Scholars believe that the Kintaran of Cildana (minus the Vraçii) once spoke a common language, one that evolved into three distinct linguistic subgroups as the tribes spread across the western part of the continent. The Belochyar language is of the Northern Kintaran subgroup, the same as those of the Aratanni, Kirlanni, and Ornaznya; in fact, it is almost identical to the language of the Kirlanni. Speakers of the other Northern tongues will have no trouble understanding Belochyar speech; it is much less mutually intelligible with the Western languages (those of the Duchai and Vihichai), and has become almost completely sundered from the Eastern tongues (of the Vuš Kalaiks and the Ghorns).

Pronunciation of Belochyar letters is fairly straightforward, however some characters do require some clarification:


​Always a hard sound, similar to the English K, regardless of what vowel follows it.


​While this sound is not native to the Belochyar speech, it is found in some other Kintaran languages such as that of the Vraçii. It is pronounced as a ts sound.


​When preceding a vowel, pronounced as a slightly aspirated C sound as described above. When preceding a consonant or the letter Y, pronounced as the ch in the English church. Thus, “Belochyar” is pronounced as bell-uh-CHAR, where as “Belocharas,” derived from the same root word, is beh-LOCK-ah-ras.


​Spoken as a soft Y sound.


​Spoken as a heavily phlegmatic K sound.


​Often pronounced as the ee in the English bee, though a fluent speaker pronounces both letters simultaneously, such that the sound is more of a we or ye sound with the w or y heavily truncated.


​Pronounced similar to sh, but with a slight i sound immediately preceding it; e.g., the “Vuš” in “Vuš Kalaiks” would be pronounced roughly like vuysh.


​Always pronounced as the th in the English then; never soft as in thin.


​Always pronounced as the u in the English true; never as an uh sound.

The suffix -oi denotes a plurality of people, whether as a tribe or clan or simply multiple persons. Translations like “Oak Clan” (Malkanoi) or “White Roots Tribe” (Belochyaroi, an alternate writing of “Belochyar”) are interpretations based on the type of grouping.

Naming Conventions

Prior to the foundation of the Kingdom of Belocharas, the Belochyar, like other mainland Kintaran nations, did not have family names but were identified by patronymics (e.g., Sacatyer Sacatharion, or Sacatyer son of Sacathar), with property rights and familial power codified under the family’s deeper lineage (e.g., the House of Sacathar). Most Belochyar were further given some kind of epithet, either of their own choosing or bestowed upon them by their peers (e.g., Yerevolos, the title bestowed upon Amandric before his coronation).

Under Belocharan law, formal surnames were introduced among all tribes who did not yet use them. Some Belochyar simply adopted their patronymics as surnames, derived either from their direct fathers or from a more distant ancestor; others took their epithets instead, such as the descendants of King Amandric, who made Yerevolos their formal surname. Patronymics are still used, however, as lineage is an important part of a Belochyar’s identity. So, for instance, while the current king of Belocharas is formally known as Donimund IV Sacathrion (Donimund the Fourth of the House of Sacathar), he is properly addressed as Donimund son of Haladric of the House of Sacathar (or, in more informal situations, just Donimund son of Haladric); that he is the son of Haladric is considered more important than the fact that he is the fourth king of the House of Sacathar to bear the name Donimund.

Rudimentary map of western Cildana showing location of Belochyar lands. (Areas in green represent territory of the Kingdom of Belocharas as of T.D. 824.)

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