The Northern March is a region located in the north of the Empire of Dastan. It stretches all the way from Farrech up to the northernmost coasts of the Dastanese continent. Despite its tremendous size, the region is only sparsely populated, chiefly by the Polkung. As its name implies, the Northern March serves as a buffer zone between the richer, main body of the Empire and any barbarians living north seeking to despoil and ravage it.
A very long time ago, when the Empire of Dastan was still in formation, it grew quickly and it was always looking for expansion. Not stopping to consolidate gained territories, the newfound borders crept north, eventually enveloping what is now known as the Northern March. However, due to its rapid expansion, the Dastanese military was overstretched and undermanned.
During those days, few Humans lived on the steppes, safe for some wild tribe folk who had mastered horseback riding. But they were not the rulers of the steppes. The Centaurs, now a minority were then the major political player in the north. They, together with Cyclopses, called the steppes theirs. Centaurs are a wild and delirious bunch, taking great pride in their independence. They had recently been made subject by the Dastanese Empire, but they too saw the weakness to be exploited. So they attacked the few Dastanese military outposts stationed in the March. Through fast guerilla strikes the Centaurs gnawed away at Dastanese morale and numbers. So great grew their confidence, they even managed to attract the usually self-centered Cyclopses of the plains to their cause. Soon, even Humans bolstered their numbers.
To make matters even worse for the fledgling Dastanese Empire, several Viking expeditions landed on its shores. Norsemen, a greedy and warlike people, looking for spoils, land and glory in battle. The Empire stood with its back against the wall, facing an enormous horde of enemies, so it struck a deal with the Nord invaders. The Vikings would be given battle and bloodshed, land in the Empire and citizenship, and all they had to do was steer away from Dastanese targets and break the power of the Centaurs.
And so they did. With utmost brutality and vigour the Vikings cut a bloody swathe through the plains, utterly decimating the Centaurs, pushing the Cyclopses to the edges of the steppes and enslaving many of the Human tribesmen. The Emperors of Dastan kept their word and granted the Vikings Dastanese citizenship and gave them the steppes to live on. The Northern March was theirs, but a governor appointed by the Dastanese Emperors would be their superior. The Nords had to swear allegiance to the Empire and defend its northern border against all manner of invasions, even if they were of Nordic origin as well. It was an uneasy situation, but the Empire survived and the alliance upheld from both sides. For years, the Northern March has defended the richer southern belly from incursions by enemies.
The Northern March stretches from the gates of Farrech all the way up to the horns of the Dastanese continent, ending at the feet of the eastern mountains ranges, the home of the Dragons. The mountains making up the Pass of Farrech give way to rolling hills and the sandy grounds typical of the southern regions of Dastan turn into vast plains of long grass: the steppes. Upon these steppes, a myriad of different tribes dwell, of which the most numerous and powerful are the Polkung people. They are not the only ones there, though. There are small herds of Centaurs roaming those grassy plains and along the edges of the plains you will find communities of Cyclopses.
The green seas of grass that are typical of the Northern March stand in stark contrast with the sandy grounds of the regions south of Farrech. The rain clouds that are prevented from traveling south due to blocking mountain ranges unleash their wet payload in the North, feeding the grasses and rendering the rolling landscape green.
Overall, the Northern March is quite cold, even becoming genuinely frigid during winter. During the summer, the sun shines upon its land and snow thaws completely but one would never describe the weather as "hot", rather it is pleasant, comparable to spring in other, warmer, regions of the Olegaia.
The northern fangs of the March are even colder, constantly battered by the icy winds of the Helvetian Ocean. These lands are wet during summer and thick snow covers the coast during the winter.
Cities and Towns Edit
Most Polkung live in tribes that roam across the vast steppes. They are semi-nomadic and are travel where their herds take them. They do not live in towns, rather they live in settlements of yurts and tents. When the situation calls for it, they break up camp and go elsewhere, taking their belongings with them.
However, there are some towns and even cities dotted across the Norther March. The largest and most important of these is Nygrad. It is a trading hub and serves as a connection between the Northern March and the rest of the world. From there, the Polkung transport their wares across the steppes to Farrech and then further into the bowels of the Empire.
Nygrad is also the seat of power in the March and it is there that the governor and the Council of Tribes resides.
Political Landscape Edit
The Northern March's political situation is a peculiar one. Officially, it is part of the Empire of Dastan and as such, it is ruled by a governor, like other provinces in the Empire.
However, due to the March's defensive military nature and specific history, it has gained several privileges over time. Even though a governor rules the land in name of the Emperors, he is assisted in this task by a Council of Tribes. This Council consists out of the chieftains of the most powerful tribes and families of the Polkung. While this Council originally had a mere supportive function, some now claim that they are in fact the "true" rulers of the March and that the governor is merely their puppet, doing their every bidding, a facade of legitimacy to the outside world.
In the wake of the civil war, there have been cracks in Polkung politics with some wanting to completely secede from the Empire, while others want to retain their place in it, if they are allowed to keep their privileges.
The Polkung are a conservative and very humano-centric people and many fear that the Empire's push for better inter-species relationships and understanding will force the Polkung to treat the Cyclopses and other non-Humans in their domain as equals, thus losing power and influence themselves.