Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chapter 5- Early History of Slobbovia

A region of Lagerburg, Slobbovia occupies the broad upper valley of the Pisswasser River leading up to mountainous West. Slobbovia has had a turbulent and varied evolution. Until the 4th Century, the area was mostly unsettled save for a few migratory herders. During the times of depredations upon the deteriorating Roman Empire a small Hunnish tribe, the Slobbs, stumbled upon the valley purely by accident. The Slobbs were not quite as bloodthirsty (or as good navigators) as their contemporaries, and suspended their migration to winter over. One winter became three, then five (or ten, depending on which history one reads), and the tribe soon forgot exactly why they were headed to Rome in the first place.
Over the next millennium, the now indigenous population of course lost all semblance of their nomadic heritage and quite contentedly adopted a largely agrarian and pastoral lifestyle in the wide fertile valley, ruled by descendants of Alexei Cherkinoff, the original chief of the Slobbs and first Count of Slobbovia. A few of the northernmost settlers began to realize and exploit the abundant mineral deposits of the lower mountains, and a subsistence mining community sprung up in the foothills of the western range. Overall, this isolated society maintained a modest level of prosperity, just enough to sustain the tribe’s future.
During the 14th century, the then-expanding SofanOttoman Ticklish Empire began to extend its reach to the west, eventually menacing Vienna itself. It was inevitable that Slobbovia would also fall under Ticklish control, and was annexed by the Sultan in 1528. Soon after the area was subdued (which by this time was no great feat), a family line of military governors was established. Sheik Akhmed Yerboudi, 148th illegitimate son of the Sultan (and, when at court, official wiper of the Sultan’s bottom), was assigned to keep the tributes flowing to Constantinople.
For a time, he and his descendants continued a benevolent and light-handed colonial rule. This arrangement brought mutual financial benefit to the Sheik and the Count, who was allowed as a courtesy to keep his title and some of his holdings.

During the 18th century the fortunes of the SofanOttomans began to recline, that is, decline, and the Great Sultan recalled the current Sheik to resume his hereditary duties in the court. Ali Yerboudi, not enamored with the image of his planned future duties, devised a ruse wherein he and his immediate entourage, on an inspection tour of the northern mines, was "lost" in an accidental cave-in. This of course ended the Yerboudi line of succession, and a new wiper was designated by the Sultan (lucky him!).
During secret negotiations with the now-reinstated (and self-promoted) Prince Sergei, Sheik Yerboudi pointed out that Slobbovia had done well under Ticklish rule, and in fact the Cherkinoffs were quite well-off by any standards thanks to the Yerboudi’s financial acumen. Thus persuaded, Count Sergei appointed the Sheik his personal adviser (Vizier), a role he retains to this day.

Prince Sergei, being a vacillating, somewhat marginal leader, defers to the Vizier and his senior military officers.

General D’Zordre, with his adjutant Major D’Zastre, commands a brigade of horse, foot and a rocket troop called the Slobbovian Legion.

With the Princedom now once again in Slobbovian hands, Prince (in reality, the Vizier) began a realignment of his military. Among the officers recruited to senior staff positions was a former Chinese artillery captain, Wan Hong Lo. The story of Wan’s previous employment, its termination, and his presence in Slobbovia is told elsewhere. Wan had lived in Slobbovia for just over a year when he was approached by the Prince’s recruiters. After considering his qualifications, Sheik Yerboudi appointed Wan to the posty of Chief of Artillery.
The standard headwear of the Slobbovian military is in the form of a low, flat topped beaver-pelt busby, sometimes with the tail still attached akin to the American colonial "coonskin cap". The giant Slobbovian beaver (Castor Slobbovicus Giganticus), is about the size and disposition of a Rottweiler.

This quite aggressive and vicious critter is an endangered species and national treasure native only to the valley of the Pisswasser River. The milk from the female of the species provides the basis for Slobbovia's fermented specialty, Bibermilch. This beverage is highly prized for both it's quality and it's scarcity, as the difficulty in obtaining the milk is quite obvious.
As a traditional rite of passage to manhood, each newly-enlisted soldier must fight a giant Slobbovian beaver mano-y-mano to the death armed with only a large knife in order to procure the pelt needed for his own uniform hat. (in such contests, the man is not always the winner). These hats are so rare and obscenely valuable (it is a capital crime for a non-national to caught with one), that if defeated, retreating Slobbovian soldiers will stop and retrieve the caps of the fallen, leaving none for their enemies to acquire.

1 comment:

MurdocK said...

More good historical background!