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Jackals: Aegyptus

Aegyptus

Aegyptus is a country unlike any other in Erdreja, from the fertile black land that surrounds the Nile region to the barren red desert that is deadly to any fool that ventures into that region within being prepared. The whole land is, in itself, vast but only a small proportion of it is inhabited by the Aegyptians - mostly centred around the Nile Valley or the major Aegyptian cities that dot the landscape. While there are transportation circles functioning within this country, they have only just became active again after five hundred years of laying dormant, and still the most common form of transport across land between the clusters of habitation is by camel.

To many cultures outside the Southlands, it could be hard to image a civilisation that has barely changed in over 1800 years of recorded history: a culture that has neither wanted to change nor was even influenced to change by outside elements. While there was some changes over the course of it history, some profound, some short-lived, none were fundamental.

One reason for this extraordinary stasis may be found in the landscape and the climate of Aegyptus. These vary only slightly, almost negligibly. The Nile, the principal source of the country's strength, economic security and power would, from time to time, either fail to rise high enough in the season of the Inundation, or rise too high. Either extreme - and the margin is a matter of a very few meters - could spell disaster for the harvest that year. However properly managed state granaries provide insurance against those possibilities and it is seldom that Aegyptus faces real material crisis.

The weather is predictable, the climate hot but not unbearably so, and the Great River - the Nile - provides the means of producing a virtually consistent supply of food. As for the landscape, that too is ordered, even monotonous. The location of the first capital city (before the time of the Two Kingdoms) was quickly established: at a site near to where the Nile joined with the Delta region. The northern part of the country is known as Lower Aegyptus - even after the Unification of the Two Kingdoms - because, as the Nile flows north, its lower reaches are towards the Southern Sea. Upper Aegyptus, where the upper reaches lie, is the southern part. The country as a whole was called, and still is today, Kemet meaning "The Black Land", after the fertile silt the Nile desposits annually during it's flooding. The desert beyond goes by the name of Deshret or "The Red Land" - the domain of the Ancestor Sutekh.

The Nile is not only a provider of the necessities of life, but also a means of fast and efficient transport the length of this attenuated land. The wind blows steadily from the north-east, so the ships heading upriver, against the current, could raise their sails and benefit from it. Ships travelling downriver stepped their masts and let the current do most of the work. The north wind is cooling too, providing a kind of massive beneficent air-conditioning for the whole land. Houses are built with open windows facing north to catch this wind.

The Delta region comprises a fruitful wetland. This part of the country was Lower Aegyptus, the Kingdom of the Red Crown. Papyrus, emblematic of Lower Aegyptus, flourishes in the Delta and not only provides paper but could also be bound together to make boats or huts. It can even be adaptable to the humbler resources of rope, matting, baskets and sandals.

A branch of the river Nile runs north-west just after Karnak? to debouch in the fertile Faiyum Depression south of Dumen?. There are also oases in the northern areas of the Eastern Desert, on the other side of the Nile to Faiyum, the most famous of which not least for their wine-production, were Dakhla and Kharga. In Lower Aegyptus, near the Delta where the land is marshier and wetter, villages and farms are founded on the desert borders and on sandy islands rising out from the morass. In the Faiyum, Lake Moeris absorbs some of the floodwaters of the yearly inundation. The name Faiyum itself derives from payom, which simply means, 'the water'.

Southwards of the apex of the Delta near where Karnak is situated, lay the realm of Upper, or southern, Aegyptus, the Kingdom of the White Crown. The emblematic plant for this region is the lotus, or water-lily. Three types grow, of which perhaps the fragrant blue lotus is the most enduring symbol.

Aegyptian Culture

The civilisation of Aegyptus is a lawful society. There are five main classes, Nobility, Merchants, Military, Craftsmen and the Slaves. These divide into the following five general categories.

Nobility - These are the noble houses that have existed for years. It is very difficult to be accepted into the nobility, unless you can trace your family back in the nobility for at least three generations. It is from the nobility that all the important posts and the government is made up from.

Merchants - These people are usually very well off, and supply the needs of the land. They will never be accepted into the nobility without performing some remarkable feat, and then it will only be their descendants that are really accepted. Many merchants are richer than most of the nobility.

Military - Aegyptus has a standing army, and also uses conscripts in time of war. There are three main types of troops, Archers, Infantry and Charioteers. The officers are chosen from the men, but the generals are chosen from the nobility. It is customary for the sons of the nobles to spend time in the army.

Craftsmen - These people provide the infrastructure of the nation. They include Scribes, Builders, Decorators etc. They are responsible for the building of the temples and other sites. The scribes keep the machine of government running.

Slaves - These are the people who do most of the manual labour or servile jobs in Aegyptus. However, whilst they do belong to people, and can be bought and sold, they still have rights, and cannot be mistreated. They must be looked after and cannot be dumped when they get old or sick. Killing a slave is still a major crime. Beating a slave is only permissible when the slave has done wrong.

Races

Aegyptus is very much pre-dominantly populated by humans. Ever since Aegyptian records began, the Pharaoh and the Royal House? has always been of pure human stock, and the Aegyptians tend to view any other race with caution. Even with this possible xenophobic outlook, there have been several non-human races that have called Aegyptus home, Fey, Elves and more exotic creatures have all been encountered in significant numbers, you can find more details on these creatures in the list of Southland Inhabitants.

Government

The Pharaoh decides on all matters of state. He has advisers, including the Voice of the Ancestors (High Incantor of the Aegyptus Ancestors), and he appoints the officials and all government posts. To support him there is a large civil service consisting of many scribes and officials. These are the people who actually run the country. Pharaoh appoints a Governor to run each of the cities of Aegyptus, and a Foreign minister for each foreign power that Aegyptus is in contact with.

Second to the Pharaoh is the Adjutant. This is his most trusted adviser. The Adjutant is appointed whenever the Pharaoh wishes, and holds the position for life. Upon the death of the Pharaoh, the Adjutant must take his own life, and is buried with his master.

The Pharaoh also has several key advisers. One of which is directly responsible for the control of a shadowy organisation known as the Scarabs?. The Scarabs acts as an Internal police within the kingdom, but is rumoured to be more than just an Aegyptian organisation.

On Faith

Aegyptus is a land dedicated to large pantheon of Ancestors, where faith is a common place within daily life for all inhabitants. While the general population are aware of the Ancestors and pay homage to them, it is those special few who serve one particular Ancestor over the others that can claim to be truly close to the Neter and call upon their patron Ancestor through the skill of Incantation. These Incantors have created a specialist class within the Aegyptian social hierarchy that is totally separate from it, whether the priest is born from nobility or merchant class, their power and influence over the general population means that their status is both higher than noble but lower than slave simultaneously, but demands respect regardless.

The Incantors of each Ancestor are gathered together in a structured cult, commonly known as a Temple, with the Head Priest of that Ancestor (usually known as the Chosen) governing the actions of all the other legitimate priests of that Temple. Depending on the size of the Temple, there are possibility several High Priests beneath them, each one overseeing the day-to-day running of one (or more) temple complexes dotted across the face of Aegyptus in other cities, and perhaps beyond in other countries too. These Temples collectively have held a strong position of political power within the land for many centuries, at times even rivalling the position of Pharaoh himself.

See the faiths of the Southlands for further detail.

On Magic

The Aegyptians have a strong history of magic. However its paths differ greatly from those in the Heartlands. Wizards within Aegyptus are few, with the exception of the Temples of Isis and Thoth, and as such have little experience or power. Those that do show some degree of skill are enough enrolled into one of two arcane priesthoods. Before the corruption overtook the Council of Vizers?, a skilled magician would have been sent to the Arabian kingdom to study with the fabled omnipotent sorcerers.

For over half the Kingdom’s existence, at least in it current unified state, the Ritual & Transportation Circles that are dotted across the land, have not worked, leaving the country to learn not to rely so heavily on them like the other nations of Erdreja. The scribes and priesthood of Thoth have concluded that there was some link between the Aegyptus Circles and the Nosta Ka, since their sudden re-activation co-insides with the appearance of the Nosta Ka in Avalon.


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