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Malkioni Scriptures

Although the seas had closed, the merchants of Ralios still desired goods from Dragon Pass. Bold knights set out from Ralios, through Pralorela, and eastward through Maniria toward the fabled land. Over the years they settled several strongholds to look out for their interests. Over time they have come to terms with their neighbours, either by conquest, absorption or assimilation. Now a series of old chivalrous families, called the Trader Princes, hold a chain of forts stretching from Bastis to Esrolia. Their farmers retain their worship of Orlanth without rancour towards the overlords.

The Wenelians of the forest regard the subjects of the Trader Princes with contempt, as "pet animals" of the Western Lords.

Dormal's Opening led directly to a decline in inland trade. The situation became even worse with the Wenelian Wars.

The Trader Princes and New Coast are distinctive and separate groups. Dormal's Opening of the Oceans was an economic disaster for the Trader Princes, who'd sunk so much effort into developing the land route ("the only way from the Holy Country to the West"), had profited off it for centuries, and then saw it all go up in smoke in 1580. Since then, their revenues have gone way down low, and the need for cut-throat competition, "re-positioning" and the like is agitating everyone along the old "line of castles" in the north.

Recent developments: some Trader Princes have been raided by Greymane and others, and now supply weapons as tribute, which the Wenelians use against Esrolia and the port cities of the New Coast...

The Trader Princes are not really a Malkioni thing. They are a really adaptable batch of entrepeneurs (well, decendants of them) who initially came from the west through Pralorela, with knights and castles. But I am sure they have adopted Issaries as their trade god, (Initially perhaps as "Chief among the Visible Gods"? Whose role as intermediary between peoples can be likened to the importance of clear communication between mortals and the Divinity?) and some have variously adopted whatever cults allowed them to become trade lords among the tribes. Also, some of the local Orlanthi have adapted to be "local Trader Princes" or whatever. The originals gradually slid down the slippery slope to genuine ("barbarian-style") worship of Issaries and the relegation of the Invisible God to a disused chapel within the keep...? Hence, some are now Orlanthi, some are Malkioni, and some may be something else. They look and act like Issaries traders to those who meet them. After all, "Trader Prince" is itself an Issaries title.

Their initial castles slipped along the edge of the tribal and the elvish territories. (This is very nice. It puts them into "scary country" -- places the Wenelians wouldn't choose to live, without the recent population pressures, but where weird Aldryami stuff is happening in the forests at their back). The tribes at that time (ie- the Closing) were all pretty weak and decentralised. All the tribes, however, pretty much ran north-south along the rivers (and still do). Since the Opening, most of them have had some urbanisation, but not a lot. They are loose tribes, looser than any in the east of them.

Established in their northern route, the Trader Princes moved downriver with influence, not armies. Their military might is for self-defence (against natives and each other), for protection of caravans passing along their stretch of road (in exchange for tolls, naturally), and for occasional offensives, either punitive raids on native raiders (who may be Wenelian barbarians, Aldryami, Tusk Riders or others) or else assaults on other Trader Princes who've crossed them (caravans not paying for protection, family feuds, business-motivated "hostile takeovers", that kind of thing). They are not interested in territorial expansion: they know that Money is Power.

They have Western-style castles and knights in shining armour (albeit most of these are heirlooms). They still hire Western mercenaries to defend their castles and caravans, and to prosecute their wars, both punitive raids against the natives and Mafia-style takeovers of nearby fortresses. It's a nice, scheming, cut-throat business environment.

(NB: Sir Ethilrist was in the region with the White Horse Troop about a century ago -- cf. Genertela Book p.71, "Mislari Mountains". His mercenary company was employed by one of the Trader Princes against his rivals, and traces of this feud remain: there are old alliances and resentments between the Trader Prince strongholds and Muse Roost.)

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