Filed under: ! colonialism, geography, maps, politics
Mountain–basin–delta geology. Settled around second-largest river system on Altyn. Complex topography has allowed for proliferation of ecological niches and biomes. Rich in natural resources, borders strait that creates a maritime lane between seas and connects the western portion of Altyn to the continent of Samiyo to the east.
Traditionally a diverse population due to its crossroads location and cultural appreciation of difference and willingness to provide havens to persecuted and marginalized populations (literalized as mountain grottoes & caves). However, the same topography and diversity can make Joret difficult to navigate, and infrastructure can be spotty.
Lowland, river-based state. Capital city of Ingres at first major confluence of tributaries of [[IDK FIGURE OUT A NAME]] river. Settled around source of largest river on Altyn.
Marshy wetland geography has been difficult to settle. Rich freshwater ecosystem and trade, but although the river source isn’t too far inland from the sea, the cliffs and treacherous altitudes by the sea make it highly difficult to create any kind of actual access to the sea. The river itself isn’t particularly deep and makes large-scale boat travel difficult, so despite close access to a waterway, Palatine is very adept at land travel and land-based infrastructure.
Palatine’s relationship with the Skylands
The Skylands are to the north of Altyn at the pole. Northern Altyn is high-altitude tundra and steppes, with a center of power in the glaciduct/icepunk state of [[IDK HOW HAS IT BEEN TEN+ YEARS AND I DON’T HAVE A NAME YET??]]. The terrain is a lot more difficult to navigate than the northern parts of Samiyo in the other hemisphere, so the Skylands expanded colonial rule toward Samiyo instead of Altyn.
During the time of the duarchy in the Skylands, Palatine allied with the Skylands economically and began an air-based trade route that bridged the eastern hemisphere with Samiyo and the western hemisphere with Altyn via a route over the Skylands (and Ora below) that took advantage of the shorter polar distance to transport goods instead of prior circumpolar routes. Freshwater goods such as fish became particularly in demand in the Skylands, which doesn’t have sufficient land or water mass to cultivate those resources.
Initially Palatine’s partnership with the Skylands was an economic relationship. But of course, culture gets diffused as well. Skylander attitudes of predestination and divine right of rule began to influence Palatine ideas of rule, which until then had been based more on tracing matriarchal lineage, in line with creation myths of tracing origins to the source of a river.
The Fall of the Skyland Empire acted as a catalyst to kickstart a new system of governance in Palatine. Although Skylanders found the fall sudden, Palatines had seen the collapse coming for years, if not decades before the events that precipitated it. Trade figures had shown waning power before the social reaction to that decline peaked.
So Palatine was prepared to step into the power vacuum left by the Fall of the Skyland Empire. Dissatisfaction had already been simmering in Palatine—the system of matriarchal rule and lineage meant that the vast majority of Palatines were shut out of any kind of decision-making, and the exposure to various modes of thought that had been initiated by the aeritime trade had led Palatines to want to be more involved in governance and self-determination.
So it was probably inevitable that, idk, some small group started claiming that divine right supersedes any kind of hereditary right and therefore anyone can swoop in and claim power so long as they can offer enough proof of authority that woos people into supporting them.
tl;dr a shockingly large imperial bureaucracy big bangs out of the vacuum.
Palatine’s relationship with Joret
So, to bring this all back to Palatine–Joret relations, Palatine learns the worst lessons from the Skylands. They don’t stick to a trade-based politics that’s cooperative by nature and instead turns to a conquest-based politics of expansion and exploitation. Because the skill that Palatine has that the Skylands never has is infrastructure. The Skylands, based in tiny floating islands, can create super impressive technology and infrastructure… that doesn’t scale. Cool on an island, falls apart if you try to expand it.
But Palatine is used to taming things like swamp and marsh. But as Palatine begins an ideological shift, the relationship with the environment shifts as well. The notion of controlling one’s environment, bending it to one’s will, transforming and manipulating it, supplants notions of flowing with the environment and adapting to the environment, rather than vice versa. The ruling court manages to build such power so quickly in part because of feats of environmental manipulation and transformation, such as transporting dirt to extend land into water, etc. etc.
And I mean, of course every culture transforms the environment along with adapting to it, but soon Palatine’s rapid land development leads to things like pollution and desertification. The more you try to force something to do what it’s not meant to do, the more cost you encounter, and Palatine is more than willing to pay that toll.
Ermei Village, setting of “As Dark As Hunger,” is located downriver of Ingres. Just a few years after Palatine’s decision to expand and conquer the environment, the wetlands of Ermei Village have become severely polluted.
Palatine is centered along one river system, and as the pollution becomes more apparent and widespread, Palatine realizes it will need further resources, and wants to drain those resources to restore Palatine’s seat of power. Joret centers along a separate river system, one that is managed rigorously through regional coordinated efforts (shares parent organization as locust patrol that Ahosabai is on). Palatine assumes that the river is pristine because of some kind of divine intervention, while Joret is like, uh, dude, we just work real hard to keep it clean.
So as Palatine expands toward Joret, it wants to accomplish a couple things: establish power over the maritime trade route that Joret borders and currently manages, and access to the river. Palatine begins swaying Joret by promising feats of infrastructure and architecture, like trains that would connect distant regions. Palatine first starts to build telegraphs as proof of concept that they can create infrastructure, and as a means to scout the various regions of Joret before more destructive construction begins. At first people find the developments exciting, but soon the methods used to create that infrastructure begin to divide people—including language policy that imposes one language (Palatino) above the local languages.
And that about catches us up to the beginning of Razing Babel. Empress Iboshi is the current ruler of a Palatine that has begun a new phase of terrible colonialism.
Real-world contexts to draw from
China’s railway infrastructure and colonial restructuring of land & labor as tools of genocide, Singaporean reskinning of Western colonial epistomologies to conform to a construction of “Asian values,” Evangelical erosion of church & state in the USA and the rise of Christofascism, labor exploitation and genocide in USA railway history, land manipulation and development in Dubai and the human cost of that construction, systems of tolerance and persecution in the Ottoman Empire precipitating genocide, UK drainage of resources from India via colonialism.