Bergonian History



the New Land of Hope

Seal of the medieval state of PueoiPrakai Eleusi, the bloodiest tyrant in Bergonia's long history, persecuted the Satlaori, a reformist Shufrantei sect.  Satlaori refugees fled in advance of his advancing armies.  A Satlaori group in Cationi fled in ships along the coast.  They sailed around to the southern Bergonian coast and founded a settlement there. 

Because the Satalori intermixed with the native Faroi tribal people, the settlement quickly grew into a new state.  It was a vigorous, progressive state, a republic, a state bent on growth and expansion.  While the rest of Bergonia suffered from famine, war and oppression, many peope migrated to Pueoi, adding to its vitality.  Within a century it had grown into one of the most powerful states in Bergonia, opposing the staid, conservative states on the Ifuno plateau. 

The Flight of the Satlaori:

In 573 Prakai's army moved west and conquered the cities of Iutafaca and Sutreola, but many of the nobles of the Clacupo city-states remained nonplused.  They continued to sooth each other's fears with all sorts of blandishments about how Prakai's army was demoralized, underfed, underpaid and ill-equipped, altogether unable to make the march over the Ciarepepina Hills, and just as unable to make passage down the Cuanta River Valley below where the invincible Fort Etheutaroi blocked the way.  Troops from the city-state Cacrinanca bristled inside the fort and their commander swore that any enemy from the inland would be stopped dead before his walls.

Not everyone in the Clacupo communities maintained such complacent optimism.  The Satlaori communities in the Clacupo cities began preparing for the day Prakai's men would arrive.  They took quite serious the reports of the burning and sacking of inland cities such as Sutreola and Saltapani-- Saltapani, no less, one of the biggest cities of the West, bigger than Cationi even, and home, by and large, of a conservative citizenry that adhered to the Mrilitashi.  Why, people wondered, did Prakai Eleusi have this city burned after it had submitted to him?  Though no answer was apparent, the Satlaori took the matter at face value for what it said about Prakai's temperament.  They were equally aware of the many persecutions he had initiated, which resulted in a frighteningly large number of decapitations.  They knew that their sect-- the one most at odds with the Mrilitashi-- had already incurred Prakai's ire.  His armies would most certainly execute their priests and lay leaders, and perhaps every last member they could find.  They voiced their fears to the rulers of the cities, but  those who had been suspicious of them before turned a deaf ear to them now.  Then they tried to stir up the populace by circulating plans for armament and  mobilization, but most of the people reacted with blithe optimism.

Satlaori -- the BellringersWhen news reached the Clacupo cities that a colossal army of  approximately 170,000 was marching westward out of Iutafaca, the Satlaori realized that time was running short.  Their priests and lay leaders from all over the Clacupo area met in the main Satlaori temple in Cationi.  They considered their own numbers and concluded that it would be disastrously foolhardy to attempt to organize their own army either to go assist the defenders at Fort Etheutaroi or to meet the invading army on whatever route it chose to take.  Therefore, they decided to flee from Clacupo.

Several weeks later, a general panic seized the cities of Clacupo, in the middle of which leaders tried to raise armies to augment the ones of insufficient size that they had hastily fielded.  The forces of Prakai Eleusi had by-passed Etheutaroi altogether” by turning south from the Cuanta River valley and marching through the rugged hills of Panorama to the city  of Pieta, which was quickly subjugated.  Refugees poured forth from the flaming city and  headed west ahead of Prakai's advance units.

By this time, the Satlaori of Cationi had liquidated the entire wealth of their sect, excepting, of course, their ceremonial golden sun disks.  With the proceeds from their sell-off they bought a number of ships, the biggest ones they could find.  They tried to proceed with the utmost secrecy, for fear that they would be prevented from departing, but word of their plan leaked out, and many terrified citizens attempted to seize their ships.  The Satlaori priests felt compelled to put the ships to sail before more than a fraction of the brethren could assemble.  The priests aboard the almost empty ships dispatched a few of their number back into the city via rowboat to rouse the brethren and summon them to assemble on the rocky Kuecemono Point, where the westerlies blow hard and steady, just west of Cationi.  To avoid being spotted, they had to do this in the dark of night.  The scheme worked, despite the fact that they were found out at the last minute.  That same night word arrived in Cationi that Prakai Eleusi's army had marched into a defenseless Ashuetli the very morning before. 

When at dawn the small armada pulled away from the dark promontory, the waters were crowding with all manner of boats full of refugees determined to avoid the Necruruean sword.  But most of these meant to sail only across the Clacupo Bay, either to the city  of  Furisho, which the city of Ceinanei ruled, or to the territory of Secrito, across Claciufla Bay  from Cationi.  The state of Cationi owned this territory, administering it from a stone fort named Eushafitaroi.   Many  of  the refugees hoped they could find safety there.  Only a few of the refugee boats, besides the Satlaori armada, thought to seek their safety beyond the Clacupo.

The little armada sailed beyond the Clacupo Straits into the boundless ocean, of which all Bergonians were wary.   The armada from Cationi consisted of twelve ships, four of which were large two-masted trading galleys designed to go the long distance along the coast that the Satlaori intended to go.  Each of the four large ships held a hundred people normally, but the holds, which usually held cargo, were jammed with refugees, and so each of these four carried 400 apiece.  The Satlaori had not the money to hire professional rowers for the galleys.  But the young men among their ranks they selected for the oars, though vigorous and willing, had neither the professional rowers' muscular strength  nor their experience at the oars.  So the Satlaori galleys moved unsteadily and slowly, but gradually gave proof to the old saying, "desperation breeds talent."  The eight smaller ships, all sloops designed for fishing and small transport in the Clacupo waters, held no more than 600 altogether.  Just outside the Strait the ships paused long enough to allow five more ships, including one large trader galley, from the city of Ceinanai to catch up.  These ships carried 600 more Satlaori refugees.  The complete armada, when it turned and began its arduous journey southward, carried 2,800 refugees in seventeen ships.  These had left many of their brethren behind in the Clacupo cities.  Among those left behind were many of their priests and leaders who had decided to take their chances with Prakai’s inevitable oppressions in order to do what they could for the flock that remained behind.   The parting  between those who sailed and those why stayed was tearful, for both had every  reason to fear for the other.

This strategy of flight over the waters would, of course, be of only casual interest to the historian as a curiosity were it not for its successful conclusion and the huge impact these refugees had on Bergonian history.  But history magnifies the sorrow of the flight, in part because history remains silent about the Satlaori who stayed behind in the Clacupo cities.  They either met death under the swords of Prakai's agents or disappeared as nameless fugitives.

The Birth of the State of Pueoi

Fate showed more mercy to the Satlaori refugees who took to the sea, for after many months and almost 1200 miles of creeping southward, and then eastward along the coast in their cramped and stuffy ships, suffering a dearth of food, watching their friends and family members perish from disease, 500 survivors in eight ships finally found a comely harbor where there was no city, not even a fishing village, and no suspicious hosts ready to drive them back out to sea.  This was where the Serofi River empties into the sea--  and there they found a fine harbor.  There they dropped anchors and came ashore, chanting "Alai Arsai," meaning "Victory, Home," signifying their redoubtable pride.  The land was dry and flat.  Trees were sparse, growing mainly along the banks of meandering streams and small rivers, while a blanket of grass and scrub covered the remainder of the land.  The tribal, relatively uncivilized Faroi occupied the surrounding lands, living in small villages and practicing subsistence agriculture.  The land was "too large for the Faroi," the Satlaori observed, and the Faroi seemed much more at ease with the drum and beer-cup than the sword and bow.  The Faroi greeted them heartily, with laughter, and forced the new arrivals to attend celebrations and dances.  The Satlori remarked that they had never seen people with so many goats and chickens.  This would be a good place to settle.

The Satlaori set to work and built a small village on the edge of the harbor.  They raised their first temple, nothing more than a longhouse of wood, and then they formally named their town Alai Arsai, and their colony Pueotlasai, "Conquerors' Haven."  The five hundred worked hard and never allowed petty quarrels to divert them.  They gladly submitted to the direction of their lay leaders and their priests, who joined together in a council of eighteen, thereby giving Alai Arsai its first government.  

These refugees in time raised up a temple of adobe of which they could be proud, replacing the longhouse.  They commemorated the eighth year anniversary of their flight from the Clacupo by mounting in the temple tower a small iron bell which they cast themselves from iron they got from the Faroi by trading away nearly all their valuables.  Eight was the most significant number in Bergonian religion and culture-- the holy "duinity" manifested thrice-- from two to four to eight.

The leaders exhorted their flock to reproduce; they hoped every woman would have ten children, and in no time their numbers started to grow.  Soon Alai Arsai was becoming a city, and the Satlaori expanded into the surrounding countryside and built villages.  They constructed a small navy of sloops and trirems, and dominated the coastline.  

Relations with the neighboring Faroi were good, thanks in part to the Faroi's laconic, adaptable nature, and also the astute efforts by the more technically and artistically accomplished Satlaori to cultivate trade and economic integration with the Faroi.  History records only one violent outburst of enmity between the Faroi and the Satlaori, but this was apparently resulted from a confounded misunderstanding over local riparian rights.  After the loss of a sixty lives, the leaders declared a truce and cleared up the dispute. Ultimately the Satlaori included some Faroi leaders on the council of eighteen.  They even began wearing the Faroi short kilt.  In time, with their own Nacateca tongue compromised by the Faroi language, the Satlaori shortened the name Pueotlasai to Pueoi.   

By 630 AD (long after Prakai died), Pueoi had become a state with a population of 200,000.  By 700 AD the population had grown to two million.  Thus, the one fortuitously good part of Prakai's legacy was the founding of the progressive state of Pueoi.

Pueoi was the very antithesis of the staid, traditional societies of Ceiolai and Tiericoatli.  Puoei was dynamic, optimistic and creative.  Pueoi was a true republic, not a dictatorship nor an empire.  Pueoi was the product of colonization and ethnic intermingling, with the accompanying intermingling of folklore, music, tatse, perspectives, and ideas.  Pueoi's upper class was new, still flushed with their own sense of mission, with short roots, and modest.  Though Pueoi was the newest of the big powers, it had no pretensions of succeeding to the sanctified imperial legacies of the earlier regimes of Ceiolai and the Naithitieri, and instead rejected all the historical legacies. 

Pueoi amassed a considerable army by 700 AD, and her traders reached all parts of Bergonia-- even far distant Pasiana.  Pueoi became on of the four most powerful states of the period, the so-called "Four Posts,"  and then became one of the major players in the Endless War, with armies ascending the Ifuno Plateau and occupying large parts of the central Ifuno region.  Even in this time of martial ambition Pueoi remained the most progressive of Bergonian states, with no forced religion, lenient slavery, strong local governments, and a council-form of government (like Tiericoatli) that ameliorated against the worst aspect of despotism.

On 15 September 886 AD  a savage hurricane of epic proportions struck the southern coast of Bergonia.  The eye of the hurricane passed over the capital city of Alai Arsai and followed the Serofi river northward until it slammed into the escarpments and the ascending mountains of Letlari.  The fierce winds destroyed hundreds of the peasant villages, built of wood planks and thatched-roofing.  The immense rains resulted in days and days of flooding.  The Serofi River jumped its banks and flooded every city, town and village for miles around.  The smaller streams and rivers also jumped their banks, flooding the rest of Puoei's heartland.  Pueoilasai was completely flooded.  The death toll could only be guessed.  Worse yet, the flooding completely disrupted the corn harvest.  When word of the disaster reached the armies at war, the soldiers clamored to go home and the generals had no choice but to abandon their positions and march their troops home.  The net effect of all this was the total ruin of the state and society of Pueoi.  It took over a hundred years for Pueoi to recover anything resembling its previous glory.


rev 10-dec-04

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