The Ashoyin Protectorate
The Ashoyin Protectorate is an autonomous region that covers the valley where the Far Anhui river flows between the Three Sisters Mountains to join with the Near Anhui at Two Rivers Lake. The Protectorate consists of seven city states, joined by cultural ties but now locked in an ongoing civil war.
The seven cities are, roughly heading west to east, Ashoyin, Atheroma, Tzefu, Zeiher, Arai, Akt and Galis.
This area was once part of the Empire of Splendour, part of the Fragrant Waterlily nome. They bore the brunt of the fighting during an invasion of Tlaxu, and when Llaza, Tibrafes and Nirhamsa rebelled against the Empire the seven cities of Ashoyin joined to form the Protectorate. Although they helped throw off the Imperial yoke, the Ashoyin cities remained fiercely independent of their fellow rebels, especially Llaza who was seen as a major rival for trade.
Despite continued internecine disputes the Protectorate remained united against outsiders, but twenty years ago events led to the current state of civil war. Ashoyin, nominally the capital city of the Protectorate, is built upon the marshy shores of the Two Rivers Lake, and much of it is held up by wooden pilings. This is costly to maintain, and the leader of Ashoyin at the time, the Most August Minister Es-Gadar, introduced harsh trading tariffs on the other cities of the Protectorate. Protests in the more eastern cities of Akt and Galis over their paying for something of no benefit to them, turned to rioting and the Most August Minister sent in troops to restore order.
In Arai, the military leader General Chandrat, objected to the heavy-handed treatment of Akt and Galis, and, fearing that Arai would be next, raised an armed insurrection to remove Es-Gadar. Es-Gadar heard of this and fled to Llaza for sanctuary, where he still lives in exile. Loyalist forces are now under the direct command of Es-Gadar's mother, the Dowager Lady Temusha. This old lady, frail in body but strong in mind, is a powerful symbol to the loyalists, particularly after her capture by Chandrat and subsequent daring rescue.
Chandrat's motive's seem now to be the conquest of the whole of Ashoyin, rather than the removal of Es-Gadar and the abolition of the Ashoyin tax. His base is in Arai, and Akt and Galis follow his cause. Lady Temusha, meanwhile, remains ensconsed in a fortress at Tzefu. Ashoyin, Atheroma and Tzefu belong to the loyalists. Zeiher remains aloof, having formed the Zeiher Alliance with nearby smaller towns. Rich Mercantile families in Zeiher fund mercenaries and weapons.
The civil war has not been a clean one. There were suppporters of both factions in all the cities, and in the early stages there were atrocities committed as each city attempted to purge "undesirables" from its streets. Many saw a chance to settle old scores, and so false accusations of treason and spying abounded.
Both sides also hired in mercenaries, who often saw easier pickings by becoming bandits than fighting for the side that paid them. The sack of Galis by Thellingers was one of the most notorious events, since it was Galis that had they were supposed to be working for.
The fighting now is sporadic, with neither side gaining much advantage. Mostly the farmers find their crops destroyed or commandeered for one party or another. The rule of Law has all but collapsed outside the cities and bandit gangs roam the land at will, preying on peasants and travellers. The Bandits of Dailat, who operate on the eastern borders of the Protectorate, are one of the larger and more well known bands. Another group, the Jade Sword, is a secretive group that fights for the rights of the common folk, and although condemned as outlaws by both the Loyalists and rebels, are one of the few parties that maintains law.