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Rathess: The Children of the Dragon
Rathess could by no means be called a populous nation. With barely twenty thousand Dragon Kings and an equal number of humans within its borders, the nation is smaller, in fact, than many of the lesser kingdoms of the world. Nor do they have much in the way of natural resources; although the jungles are verdant, they do not support much agriculture beyond what the nation requires, and they have little easy access to minerals or metals. Rathess does not even possess a great degree of political coin; in fact, it is by far the most isolated of the great nations. Rathess, in fact, has only one thing that sets it apart from dozens of other minor kingdoms.
Tens of thousands of Essence-users.
The Dragon Kings are back, with a vengeance. Hundreds of years of conflict have re-honed the fighting spirit that was nearly lost for all time, and Rathess continues to gather more Dragon Kings to it. On top of that, they are welcoming to the returning Solars and open to nearby Lunars, granting them the single most powerful elites in the world. This raw power is how they have held off an army a thousand times their size, and how they still stand strong in the dawn of the Third Age. Rathess alone holds almost as many Dragon Kings as there are Dragon-Blooded in the world, and almost all of them are warriors by nature. If they had the numeric support to back up their Essence-wielding, they would stand astride the world. As it is, they easily forced the Shogunate back on the defensive, and have recently been considering a war of conquest.
Dragon King society remains similar to how it was before the Wyldwar occured. The Dragon Kings retain their gladiatorial culture, focused on the glory of the Unconqued Sun, and of glorious combat and devout religion. These two principles remain the core of Dragon King society. A side effect of these principles is that while any Dragon King in Rathess might join a raiding party or attacking force against Deheleshen or other Shogunate-loyal kingdoms, but they have no formal army, little formal organization, and while individual Dragon Kings may show a good grasp of tactics, the nation as a whole does not. This, more than anything else, hampers their ability to do much more than defend their nation - three cities close together in the jungle, with a few scattered human hamlets nearby, remains the extent of their power.
Humans in Rathess are a little different. In general, they are expected to follow the laws of the kingdom, but the Dragon Kings understand that these short-lived creatures can't hope to live up to their own high standards. Thaumaturgy remains common in the kingdom, but most humans perform the basic tasks of the city in exchange for shelter and protection. The Dragon Kings are just rulers, although their culture strikes many humans as bloodthirsty, and most humans have little to complain of save general isolation (there being no more than ten thousand humans in all three cities of the Dragon Kings, and having little to no contact with the outside world).
Laws are usually severely punished; with their unbroken series of lives, Dragon Kings have a loose opinion of death, and although they understand that humans do not remember their incarnations in the same way, they can rapidly grow annoyed with the reticence that this causes. Spirits are venerated openly, and the Immaculate religion is scorned.
For obvious reasons, Dragon Kings do not have easy access to Shogunate technology. They have only a few Essence Reactors, and do not have a national radio or television system, nor do they have a rail line, or ground vehicles in any large numbers.
Instead, the Dragon Kings have focused primarily on their crystal and vegetative technology. The technology listed in Ruins of Rathess and the Exalted Player's Guide is commonly available, giving the Dragon Kings their own sources of lighting, skyships, and similar First Age-style devices. The Dragon Kings also have amazing agricultural ability through their connections to the spirits and their own Paths, giving them as much food as they require for any situation; famine is unknown in Rathess.
Rathess also has, due to their sheltering of Autochthonian refugees, a small amount of Autochthonian technology, although no Alchemicals are known to have survived to reach them. This technology is not widespread, but is often found in military applications, and Autochthon principles have been used with crystal technology to improve it - Rathess now produces adamant in small amounts, and adamant artifacts are very occasionally produced as well. More common are artifacts of orichalcum with adamant used as a reinforcing or focusing material.
Rathess's relations to the other nations of Creation are only one step up from abysmal. Most of this stems from their ongoing war with Deheleshen, which stems directly from their war against the Shogunate. While Chiaroscuro and Pangu are content to allow Deheleshen to take the brunt of the fighting, sending only occasional troops, they are still the enemy, leaving Rathess with three major opponents. Even the Balmori Republic distrusts Rathess, although they would be content to seal the borders and end the hostilities.
In addition, although they have some refugees from Autochthon in their borders, Rathess fought furiously against the invaders, and only sheltered the refugees when their power was shattered - they are distasteful of the old Alchemical power structures and the extreme order that it represented, and have no relations to speak of with New Estasia. The Western League is simply too far away for Rathess to manage any real sort of contact, although the independance of the Western Isles is enough for what little contact exists to be generally friendly in nature.
Rathess also distrusts the Deathlords; the concept of ghosts is somewhat baffling to them, and the idea of anyone being willing to NOT be re-incarnated is deeply suspicious to them. With the appearance of the Abyssals, this distrust is rapidly blossoming into full-blown suspicion, and the great nation would be very grateful to know where these twisted mirrors of Solars are coming from.
About the only friendly nations to Rathess are some of the minor kingdoms of the East, who broke free of the Shogunate and have no wish to rejoin it. While some distrust or fear the Dragon Kings, others consider them to be allies simply because they fight against Deheleshen, and these are willing to find ways to smuggle people into or out of Rathess. In fact, a few have quietly approached Rathess about the concept of formally attaching themselves to the nation, which the Dragon Kings are seriously considering.
Rathess is a strong ally to the Solars, and to date, nine Solars reside within its borders. The number would likely be higher, but reaching Rathess is a difficult task, and one that few Solars feel up to; many others have no idea as to the nature of the feud between Rathess and the old Shogunate, and do not know that they should go there. Rathess is also home to at least seven Lunars, who are equally welcomed. In particular, the Lunar Ma-Ha-Suichi, having escaped the destruction of most of his tribe at the hands of a Shogunate weapon, makes his home near the city with his remaining beastmen, and has thus far proven agreeable to the Dragon Kings - although his words are often designed to incite them further against the old Shogunate, and many other Lunars distrust him.