History: The history of Zanxima begins before the Primordial War with a large group of humans who managed to escape their Southern Dragon King keepers. Possibly, they were let go as part of an experiment to see how mortals might adapt to the wilderness, but in either case, the Primordial War soon erupted, and with it, the Dragon Kings lost most of their importance and power and never recaptured their lost humans, who carved out a survivable, albeit primitive, niche for themselves deep in the South-Southeast.
In this state they stayed, well into the 1st Age, when they were discovered by a Solar of the Twilight Caste named Axuma, who discovered them living at the foot of a mountain miracously filled with rich deposites of the Magical Materials, especially Moonsilver. Impressed by the hardy mortals, he nonetheless felt that their potential was unfulfilled, and decided to enact certain theories he'd been mulling over. It was a simple matter with powerful social Charms and Sorcery to convince the people that he was their divine lord, for were the Solars not given dominion of Creation by the highest of the gods? It took a few generations to completely reengineer their society and culture to test his ideas, which was that by fostering the virtues he believed the Unconquered Sun valued most, he could dramatically increase the number of Solar exaltations among the population. While there were some positive results, they were ultimately disappointing, and in the end he merely managed to increase the percentage of Heroic Mortals produced by his people, along with a healthy number of Half-Castes thanks to his own efforts.
By this point, however, Axuma had truly fallen in love with these, his people, and spared no expense to see them civilized to the point of the rest of Creation, importing the latest in 1st Age technology as well as Dragon King tutors to instruct his people in their use and to improve their grasp of the arts and sciences of Thaumaturgy. The few Solars he'd managed to produce, he made his lieutenants and brought into the Solar Deliberative. And so, the new nation-state of Zanxima prospered until it became a rival for any other city of the Age...
Then the Usurpation hit. Axuma had already died, and few were surprised when the successor to his might was one of the very folk he'd fostered. Sadly, his inheritor hardly had time to master his newfound power before being cut down by the Dragonblooded along with most of the rest of the Solars. Some of the fleeing Lunars, who regarded Mount Moon as something of a holy site, gathered in Zanxima, informed the populace of the Terrestrial's treachery and planned their next move. Unfortunately, the Sidereals had foreseen this, and managed to have a sizable force of Dragonbloods ready to invade the land. The Lunars were faced with a desperate choice: Either continue running further South, make a stand here, or go to meet the gathering army. Sickened with fleeing, and unwilling to destroy the city and its people and ruin holy ground, they choose the latter. To help avenge the fallen Chosen of their god, the Dragon Kings went to aid them.
No Zanximan veiwed that epic conflict, though they could hear and feel the tumultous clash miles away; days later, it was done. As far as could be determined, every single warrior on both sides died to the last. Even the best services the Zanximans could provide could not lay the devastated ground to rest, and the land to the North became a unusually furious Shadowland. Over the centuries, this would both protect and alienate Zanxima from its neighbors, many of whom came to believe that it actually resided *within* the Shadowland...Seeing that their neighbors had little to offer them anyway, in their pride they closed their borders and lived in strict isolation.
For the most part, Zanxima lived in peace for generations, save for the occasional probing attack by the Shogunate (which they always handily repulsed). Bereft of divine and supernatural lords for the first time, the people lived up to the potential that Axuma had foreseen in them so long ago, refusing to bow the knee to any powerful, greedy and increasingly demanding spirits and elementals that crossed their land. Indeed, with their mastery of Thaumaturgy and the 1st Age gear they still possessed, they succeeded in intimidating or binding the worst of these to serve Zanxima.
And then the Great Contagion came. Some say their isolation ironically lessened its impact, while others say it did no such thing. Regardless, they held on as best they could, and proved one of the more stable bastions of Reality when the Fair Folk invaded. Although many argued against it, Zanxima still chose to accept many refugees from the decimated tribes and nations of the South. While many among them feared this would contaminate them with more plague or (even worse) other cultural ways, this probably saved the nation by shoring up its numbers after the Fair Folk were fought off and the Contagion faded.
Unfortunately, the Realm's Defenses weren't used to the best of their potential. Not all of the encrouching Wyld was pushed back, and Zanxima found itself in the middle of a reality-warping Wyld Zone. Zanximan Savants acted fast, and were able to attune certain 1st Age engines to the enormous Moonsilver deposites within Mount Moon, and were able to generate a safe zone of stability around their nation. The refugees eventually became as one with the people, and all settled in for a long nightmare of fighting off constant attacks from Wyld mutations and Fair Folk raiders...
Eventually, change came, in the form of a Pack of Lunars, questing through the Wyld. They were shocked to discover an entire civilization thriving within the heart of the Wyld itself, and most impressed by the people's dedication to survival as well as the tale of the nation's founding, and of course, an entire mountain of Moonsilver. Although they could not free the people from the Wyld, they decided to aid them as best they could, which was by emulating the original Solar founder of the nation. Using their divine Lunar influence to engineer the culture they'd found, they hoped to give the people the true strength that would allow them to become not just survivors, but *lords* of their domain. Knowingly or not, they followed a pattern similar to that of the Lunars who founded the Haltan Republic, in balancing the virtues of civilization and barbarism. Zanxima as it stands today is a product of that evolution.
Long afterwards, the Wyld surrounding Zanxima receded, joining the lost nation to Creation once more. Those in the know suggest this may have something to do with the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, while others maintain it is the doing of newly reborn Solar heroes, or just some whim of Luna's. But few in Creation are aware of the existence of this lost kingdom, tho many would act quickly to attempt to plunder it if they were. As for the Zanximans themselves, while some few argue caution, most are eager to aggressively explore the new world that they have been cut off from for so long. There future place in the South depends on the reactions of their neighbors: if met with friendliness, their ambassadors will ally them with other nations. It met with fear and violence, then their warriors will teach the attackers the error of their ways...
Population: Zanxima's people are over a million strong, and fit the standard appearance of Southerners. They wear their hair in a variety of ways, from shaved to short, to braided or dredlocked. Many forms of decoration are widely used, including wooden, bone and crystalline jewelry, and some have elaborate piercings and scarification. Clothing depends on social status and job duties, ranging from simple loincloths to brightly colored embroidered robes.
An unusually large percentage of the population qualify as Heroic Mortals and Thaumaturges, most with access to their Essence Pools. Most of the God-Blooded among them are Solar and Lunar Half-Castes who continue to breed true; Fae-Blooded are not unknown, but tend to be ostracized. There are few Terrestrial Exalted among the people, as they were never common in Zanxima. There is a fairly large number of Beastmen in the nation who tend to keep to themselves and are regarded with awe and fear much as Haltan Beastmen are.
There are more Lunar Exalted among the Zanximans than any other form of Exalted. Most are natives, while others were invited by the Lunars who found the lost city, and passed on the sacred Lunar arts of tattoo-fixing and Moonsilver shaping. All of the Lunar Packs currently residing in Zanxima respect that First Pack's decree that they not interfere in its further developement, although that doesn't mean that they can't fight for it if the odds are bad enough...
Religion: Zanxima worships the Celestial Incarna, with special emphasis given on worship of Luna. Only Beastmen are allowed to be Luna's High Priests, although exceptionally devoted humans may be their aides, and are notable for dressing in animal skins. Zanximans are likely to not be pleased upon encountering the Immaculate Philosophy...
Society: Zanximan society divides itself according to Lodges. These tribe-like associations are each affiliated with the Totem of the Lunar Pack who found them in the Wyld, and each traditionally handles a certain duty towards Zanxima. The major Lodges are:
The Lodge of the Lion-Most of the great leaders and generals of the nation come from here. Lions prize strength and valor, and are pledged to rule justly and fairly, but many fear their excessive tempers.
The Lodge of the Ox-This gathering produces many of the best warriors, guardians and strategists. Oxen prize humble service to the people and their leaders, and are strong in their conviction, although they are often simple and shortsighted as a whole.
The Lodge of the Snake-It is here that most of the best Thaumaturgists and Savants are trained. Reknown as the most compassionate of the Lodges and the closest to the people, they are also chiurgeons and medicine-makers without equal, but are rumored to brew equally vicious venoms when displeased...
The Lodge of the Owl-Generates the temperate seers, griots and mystics who advise the leaders. These wise men and women are currently experiencing a dilemna, as they had learned to read the shifting fates of the Wyld with a little success, and have almost lost the lore of reading Creation's stars. They must get up to speed quickly, lest their flawed guidance lead the people into disaster...
The Lodge of the Fox-Creates the spies, ambassadors and assassins that serve the nation in whichever way is best. Stereotyped as the shiftiest and least trustworthy of the Lodges, they silently bear this condemnation in the knowledge that their sacrifice best serves the people.
Each of the Lodge founders is gone now; some were killed by behemoths, others died or simply left. They decreed that only great and worthy humans who past a multitude of rigorous tests should lead the Lodges, just as only Beastmen should be High Priests. Therefore, each Lodge is led by a Heroic Mortal who wears a ceremonial outfit and mask that evokes the Totem of the Lodge. The lords of the Lodges select a member from their number to rule as King, and currently this honor sits on the shoulders of the Lion Lord, King Yfe.
Resources: Zanxima is one of the most advanced city-states in Creation, easily on par with Lookshy or Rathess at their best. However, while the people have maintained its original condition better, it does not have quite the sheer dedication to outright large-scale warfare that Lookshy does, and so does not have quite as many munitions at the ready. Still, long-range observation devices, flying machines and weapons from shock pikes to tornado cannons are all present. The few Warstriders and Battlechargers that Zanxima has are heavily in need of major overhaul from constantly fighting behemoths, but they still serve. Zanximans get much more use from Ashigaru and Gunzosha armor and have even created their own modification of these for use against Fae in Wyld Zones, the Ghanan.
Geography: Zanxima is a Moonsilver-walled city in a large plain at the foot of a small mountain, that is surrounded by lush rainforest. Most of the flora and fauna found in "Creatures of the Wyld" native to the region can be found there, although many of them are oddities or outright mutated by the muted Wyld energies in the area. Although the Reality Engines and Mount Moon have kept most of the area stable, they are really only effective within a smaller radius, and farther out things give way to the Wyld. Now that the Wyld has receded, many of the most dangerous creatures have gone with it or weakened and died. There are still many unusual formations and phenomena left behind surrounding the city, many of which would be worth quite alot to collectors in Creation.
Mount Moon is a small mountain, mostly impressive for the great veins and deposites of the original four Magical Materials within and under it. There is 50% more Moonsilver than any other Material here, and so it tends to dominate most of the Artifacts the Zanximans build (their Lunar patrons permit as a special exemption, so long as they perform the proper rituals to Luna) in the many laboratories and factories within the mountain caverns. No one knows how such deposites of a manufactured substance came to exist naturally, but most believe it was the doing of Luna, the Wyld or both.
To the North is a large Shadowland, which attracts restless Hungry Ghosts. The entire cursed place is swarming with dark and twisted spectres and worse and is impossible to inhabit. It would take an epic quest to cleanse the land and put all of its tormented dwellers to final rest...