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Empire of the Danvreas
Motto: "Follow Always the Heavens"
Anthem: "For Ten Thousand Years"
A map showing the location of the Danvreas (green).
|Ethnic groups |
All others <0.01%
|Chen Pa 99.9%|
All others <0.01%
|Government||Unitary Semi-theocratic, semi-constitutional monarchy|
• High Chamberlain
|1,322,438 km2 (510,596 sq mi)|
• 2006 census
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
|Time zone||UTC -7:00|
The Empire of the Danvreas, known usually as The Danvreas or simply Danvreas (//), is a semi-constitutional monarchy located in Gondwana. Between the years 1274 CE and 2006 CE, the country was almost entirely sealed off from foreigners, who if found within the borders of the country were killed on sight. Only the Port of Ngawang, a city near the border with Okunbana, was open for foreigners to conduct trade. For centuries, the only information on the country came from pre-unification Tavari accounts of the country prior to the closure, an order known as the Scarlet Decree. Much of the country's land area is taken up by the Danvreas Plateau, a massive, high-elevation, cold desert plateau, though most of its population lives in the coastal lowlands to the west of the Plateau. Though since 2006 it has begun a slow process of opening up, the country maintains formal relations only with Tavaris and Bana and it is a member of no international organizations or agreements.
The Empire of the Danvreas consists of most of the Danvreas Plateau, one of the largest plateaus on the planet, which has an average elevation of about 3,000 meters above sea level. It also consists of the lowlands between the plateau and the Strait of Vaklori, where the vast majority of the country’s population lives. These two regions were first united under a single ruler in 774 BC, after a General named Ngawang undertook a massive military campaign from east to west. Ngawang would become the first Emperor of the Danvreas. It is from this title that the Staynish-Codexian name of the country, “the Danvreas,” comes. The country’s name in Danvrean is an entirely different term that is difficult to pronounce properly in Staynish-Codexian, so most other languages use some variation of “Danvreas” as the name of the country.
Throughout much of history, the Danvreas was known as a source of gold, silver, precious gems, and various kinds of incense and other luxury materials. They were one of the first trading partners of the Tavari, who are believed to have migrated through their lands in the late first millennium as they migrated across Gondwana. It is believed that there was some violence between the Tavari and the Danvreans, leading to the Tavari to continue across the Strait of Vaklori instead of attempting to settle in the coastal lowlands west of the plateau. The Danvreas would later form economic relationships with the various nations of the Bana people; the Kings of Okunbana were known to send delegations to the Violet Court as early as 1010 CE.
In 1274 CE, then-Empress Zingten I, on the occasion of the 1,500th anniversary of Ngawang’s ascension to the throne, issued a decree closing the borders of the country and expelling all foreigners. She did this, she said, because she had received omens of ill portent that invading armies of demons, traveling under the guise of foreigners, would invade and destroy the country. Because the Emperor of the Danvreas is a semi-religious figure who is believed to be the country’s link with the divine, her order was strictly followed, and those lords who rebelled against her were swiftly eliminated. This decree, known as the Scarlet Decree because of the red paper the Empress had ordered the decree be printed on, remained in effect until the year 2006. Entrance into the country is still highly restricted, with only 99 foreigners permitted entry into the country at any given time. Trade with foreign nations was only permitted to occur in the harbor of one village near the border with Bana, which would later grow so large it became a city and was given the new name Ngawang.
The Scarlet Decree was strictly enforced for almost all of its history. Citizens of the Danvreas were required to carry identification on them at all times, historically a kind of bronze ingot stamped with the seal of the local lord or noble. Those who could not produce their identification when asked were likely to be killed unless they could get the local lord or someone from their court to identify them, which usually came with a steep cost. Non-orcs were regularly violently attacked on sight. In order to acquire one of these ingots, and therefore permission to travel beyond the borders of one’s village of birth, it was almost universally required that the person pay for it, which meant that many people could never afford it. Later in history, the bronze ingots were replaced by scrolls and then sheets of paper, before being replaced with an internal passport system in 1928. The system remains in effect to a degree; while citizens have the right in general to travel anywhere in the country, they are still required to show an internal passport when crossing between provinces, and some citizens can have their internal passports revoked as punishment for (or on suspicion of having committed) a crime.
In 1451, upon hearing of a plague in Ni-Rao, and in suspicion that the rapidly expanding port of Ngawang would bring the disease into the country by transmission from foreigners (who he considered “dirty,” “impure,” and “demonically-tainted”), Emperor Gya II ordered that no one be permitted to move to Ngawang, and that only people born there could live there. This order was also in effect until the year 2006. With this major urban area closed to new migrants, migration to the capital Ri-Teng ballooned. It has been one of the largest cities in Northwest Gondwana since the 16th century. It is also one of the poorest major urban areas in the world; vast swathes of the metro area are considered to be slums, most of which have only intermittent access to electricity and primarily use hand-dug wells for water.
Since the beginning of the modern era, the vast majority of the country’s population has lived in urban or semi-urban slums in the coastal lowlands of the west. About 3 million people live on the Danvreas Plateau itself, a vast majority of whom live as pastoral nomads. Also present on the Plateau is the country’s religious political elite class, most of whom live in the various monasteries at Chen Dzong. Due to the aggressive isolation of the country, Industrial Era technology was slow to filter in, and the country even today remains significantly behind much of the world in infrastructure and development. In 2006, after a series of widespread riots in the country (one even in Chen Dzong), Emperor Palchen IV ordered a limited set of reforms, which included lifting the ban on admitting foreigners and allowing 99 of them at any given time, as well as allowing foreigners to participate in business ventures and even own property in the country. While the move was politically popular among the general public, Emperor Palchen was assassinated months later by the Grand Priest of the Imperial Household, who committed suicide afterward.
Palchen’s daughter Zingten IX became Empress in 2006 and was believed to be a supporter of the “conservative” faction that opposed the reforms (despite the fact that they murdered her father), but surprised the political elite when she announced that the reforms would stay in place. However, the Empress committed vast personal resources to enforcing immigration regulations, which has satisfied the conservatives because her strict enforcement has ensured almost total compliance. Those immigration violators who are apprehended are brutally punished through caning and a long period of hard labor, usually 10 to 20 years. These immigration enforcers are known as Knights of the Imperial Household and are, in effect, a sort of “Empress’ secret police” personally paid for and maintained by her (with non-tax revenue outside income, largely from investments).
Some economic development has come to the country since the reforms, though progress is slow. Reports that Morst Feed intends to open a location in Ri-Teng have been neither confirmed nor denied by the company. The first foreign business to open in the Danvreas was the Royal Rodokan Coffee Company, which opened a store in Ngawang in 2010. Royal Rodokan Coffee had been traded through the Port of Ngawang for centuries and has long been very popular in the country.
Society and Religion
The Danvreas is a very conservative and religious culture. The religion of the country is known as the Chen Pa faith, a highly ritualized tradition that views the Emperor or Empress of the day as the representative of the people to the divine, and vice versa.
While commonly believed to be a religious monoculture, religious beliefs are actually very diverse in the Danvreas. Broadly, all sects believe that the divine comes from the heavens: the sky. All good is said to come from the heavens. Conversely, all evil comes from hell, which is a pit of fire deep in the Urth populated by evil entities translated as demons. Chen Pa calls Danvreas "the place where heaven meets Urth" and is therefore a sacred battleground between the forces of heaven and hell. All Chen Pa traditions believe that people must act and behave in particular ways to stand on the side of good and defend against evil, but the disagreement comes in what those things are.
Beyond the fundamental cosmology and philosophy, Chen Pa sects vary widely, including on what the true nature of "the divine" is. These beliefs about what is translated as "Hell" are believed to have influenced the proto-Tavari religious faith that later became the Tavat Avati, especially its’ conception of what is also translated into Staynish-Codexian as “Hell.”
It is from the religious association with the heavens as "good" and the urth as "bad" that the Danvrean preference for isolation comes. As the other countries of the world are lower in elevation, they are seen as further physically from the heavens, and therefore closer to, and in more danger from, the forces of evil. In addition to the country's religious elite, the general public is also observant of Chen Pa, with 86% of citizens saying they attend their local temple more than once a year. It is mandatory in the Danvreas for all citizens to attend temple once a year, at the New Year, punishable by two lashes by a cane, a number that is increased by one each time an individual misses a year.
Chen Pa priests comprise the vast majority of the country’s political elite, with senior religious officials serving as the Empress’ closest advisors. The Violet Court, which is both the Empress’ “court” in terms of being both the group of those who attend to her and the country’s legislature, has 105 Courtiers in total—45 of whom are priests, a number enshrined in law. While they are outnumbered by the popularly-elected Courtiers, known as “Noble Courtiers,” the Priestly Courtiers have two votes each, meaning they functionally control the legislature. This extra vote, known as “the third vote,” is actually said to belong to the Empress, who could choose to give it to the Noble Courtiers or could even grant it to a third class of Courtiers of her own creation, a “check” which assures her ultimate control over the political system.
The general public elects the Noble Courtiers as a single nationwide constituency in which the 105 candidates who receive the most votes are elected. Political parties in the country usually nominate slates of 105 names, though voters have to individually check 105 boxes on the ballot paper, a process believed to contribute to the country’s low average turnout: 19%.
The Violet Court elects one of its own members to be the High Chamberlain, a title functionally equivalent to Prime Minister. The High Chamberlain is responsible for both the household of the Empress and the administration of government. (Though, because they are literal attendants of the Empress, every legislator has some additional role in the functioning of the royal household.) Elections for the Violet Court are held every five years, with the Priestly Courtiers appointed by the various monasteries, each of whom has a particular number of seats based on ancient convention. The Cabinet is the various Courtiers the High Chamberlain has chosen to assist in running government departments. Notably, the term “Cabinet” is a direct translation and is believed to have arisen independently of the Staynish-Codexian term, but for the same reason: it once described the literal room in which high-level meetings in the palace took place.While the vast majority of day-to-day government activity is left to the civil service and the government, the Empress does have the right to issue laws under her own authority, and maintains a functional veto over the legislature. It is understood that her lack of personal involvement in government is a choice that she may some day change, so the government has never seriously drifted from the Empress’ personal goals.