Khewedi

Khewed Cover

Ancient Khewed

“Ancient in Knowing/ Resplendent in the Raiment of Praise/ Gone down into the Darkness is their House/ and Plagued is their people”

The Laments of Knowledge, High Lorekeeper Temash, 7th Age

Introduction

May the rustling, oh reader, of the papyri in thy hands soothe thee. Harken to the sluggish waters of the River Wadi as they flow from the cataracts to the sea. This is the Land of Three Rivers, and the Land of Three Kingdoms; for are our people not divided into three kindreds? Between the Ketemsesh and the Penewet is the Land of the Kings; the Penewet and the Wadi bind the lands of the Merchants. The land between the three rivers up in the southern cataracts is the Valley of the Priests. This is our home, haunted with shadows, haunted by its past.

-Ekhem a-Marna

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A History of the Great Empire

The land of the Three Rivers was settled in the time of Night. In the earliest of years the cataracts were inhabited by a race of desert giants who welcomed the Sons of Zesh to their realm. There were shadows there, to be sure, and other evil spirits of the desert. The giants gave the first settlers protection from these beasts of the desert; the howling spirits that rise from the sands to flay the skin from the flesh, the houseless creatures that wander the desert. But in time they faded, and the sons of Zesh paid no more tribute to the south, and the people of the desert were left alone.

They called themselves Khemre, which meant in the old language “dwellers in the land of black soil,” for the three rivers there converge and dump silt from the heart of Mughar into the earth and make it blossom forth with life. They had built ancient step-pyramids to honor Zesh in the earliest of times, but when the sun rose and shone upon the land and the spirits were boiled off into darkness, driven into secret places, they no longer worshiped Zesh.

Qedhep the Architect and Sedjeta the Fire were first amongst the gods in those days, but soon thereafter rose the cult of Ahkemet. In the Third Age the Ahkemites were blessed by the appearance of Prince Setanep who was raised as a priest of that cult and helped it to ascend to prominence. Since the Third Age the Ahkemites have ruled the Valley of Priests from the cult city of Per-Medjed with little interruption. The other cults have been raised war against the Ahkemites in the past, but none of these lasted for longer than two generations.

Be it known that in the Sixth Age, the Moon Age, the might of Khewed was no longer bounded by its borders. Great fleets set sail, and the empty lands now called Ishtria, the satraps of Ralashar, and the princes of Tùlarmë were all brought beneath the rule of the Line of Kings from the Dynasty of Menep. And so it was in those years that even stretches of Mughar and Zesh submitted before Menep, and the power of Khewed was strong. Elf-slaves and dwarf-craftsmen came to the Land of the Three Rivers and, though its power was lost in the Seventh Age, the Sun Age, Khewed held mighty sway over many far places in the world.

The greatest challenge to the Ahkemite power came in X202 during the War of the Rivers; the Great Prince Haruhmet was a supporter of the cult of Qedhep, and his attempts at deposing the Great Priest Tekhmet; and yet, Tekhmet, chief priest of Ahkemet, was victorious. Since that war, three dynasties have ruled. They have been progressively weaker, ceding more and further powers to Per-Medjed. The current kings, who are from the dynasty of Aperu, are the weakest yet and our wisdoms have dwindled and our peoples turned inwards to look not out at the world but instead at their own valleys and streams.

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The Khemren People

My people are an ancient race, descended from the Zeshimites and the God-wizard himself. We are a people of the desert, but we do not allow ourselves to fade into the sands. Brightly colored buildings and garments, food spiced with Ralashian flavors and Mugharian tastes that drives foreigners away from our cuisine.

The people of Khewed live in houses made of dried mud brick or heavy sandstone blocks for the wealthy. Many inner chambers are coated with a form of Ishtrian plaster. The primary occupation of the Khewedi is farming, for the lands of the deltas are very fertile and rich. Little is worn by farmers, and indeed it is common custom for men and women to go bare to the waist. Short skirts are often worn by farmers, artisans, and scholars.

The wealthier a Khewedi is, and the higher is station amongst the great classes, the more linen garments he will wear. Great princes are often robed all in whites with lapis and gemstones decorating them – garnets from Mughar, rubies and topaz from Zesh. Colored dyes are common, and even the lowliest commoners can afford to add color to their clothes. More expensive garments also generally include the incorporation of lapis, the plumage of exotic animals, and other devices to enhance the appearance.

Clerics wear even more elaborate garb, and the most important of all the cults tend, the Ahekemites, wear black layered robes adorned with brilliant crystals, gemstones, lapis lazuli, and gold.

The art of perfumery was invented by my people, and the distillation of perfumes is practiced primarily in the upper delta region. While most foreigners are ignorant of the perfuming arts, the merchants do sell many perfume jars to the lands of the far east, where the Moon Goblins eagerly purchase them.

Makeup as well was originated in Khewed, though northerners shun it. Androgyny, the perfection of both sexes into the alchemically pure whole, is much sought after by my people. Khol is used to rim the eyes of men and women, and styles of dress and hair are undifferentiated by sex.

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Map of Khewed

The Land of the Three Rivers

The Land of Khewed is divided in its people along lines of class, cult, and geography. The lower classes are prevalent throughout Khewed, no matter the geographic locale. These are the farming class, the slaving class, and the artisans. Those from the lowest class of Khewedi folk cannot rise beyond their station: artisan’s sons are artisans themselves, and the sons of slaves may be free farmers but nothing more. Upon rare occasions the lower classes may rise to the priestly caste, but this is beyond the pale and not due to any actions on the parts of those so raised; Rather, it is a holy calling that can sometimes be recognized by other clerics.

Above the lower class is the merchant class. These live in the major urban centers and export the massive grain surpluses of the rich deltalands to the kingdoms of the north. Khewed has many things that the northerners require, and the merchant classes provide all of them. Their power is in money and accumulated wealth, but even they bow to the priests and the princes. While it is rare, some artisans may accrue enough money to begin merchant-ventures of their own; if these go well, they may enter the merchant class by use of secret ceremony.

Above the merchants are the scholars and wizards; these are alchemists, scribes, and recorders who serve the priests and kings. They are a learned class, literate, but not a particularly well-loved one. Even merchants must have tally-men after all.

Above the scholarly class is the princely class, who administer the realm. Long ago Khewed had but a single ruler who was both a priest and a prince, and this body was known as the Nesut-Bi’it, or simply the Nesut. His was a sacred person, inviolable and all powerful. However, there has not been a Nesut-Bi’it in Khewed for many centuries. Prince Haruhmet was the last to attempt to gain this title by force, but the Ahekemites are now so strong in Khewed that no prince can rival them.

Instead, the land is now ruled by the highest, the priestly, class. These priests themselves as divided into orders; the Lesser Priesthoods and their Cults, the Middle Priesthoods and their Cults, the Higher Priesthoods and their Cults, and the Most High Priesthood itself which belongs to the cult of Ahekemet.

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The Land of Kings

The desert between the Khetemesh and the Penewet gives way to oasis’ at its heart. There, in the very center of the Land of Kings, is te old palace-city of Abuhar. It stands empty and silent, a testament to the faded power of our great kingly rulers. There has been no Nesut for long centuries, though it is the most ardent desire of the princes of Khewed to revivify that tradition. Alas, it seems as though it has long since died.

The towns that adorn the inner desert in the Land of Kings are trading posts and artisanal centers were valuable goods can be found. For example, Gebtu and Per-bast both contain vast sandstone quarries and the masons to work the rock. The royal cities are those that sit upon the Penewet; the princely cities,each belonging to one of the Three Great Princely Dynasties, are upon the sea-side.

The reason for this is simple: Khewed is a dry and barren land away from its three rivers, which give it life. The Penewet routinely floods, bringing thick silt in from the Mugharian jungles to the far south, and thus the terrain directly surrounding the rivers is quite lush. The ancient capital-cities of the Khewedi were Ineb Hedj, Khumru, Waset, and Nehkeb, each powerful in its time. Now they are thriving centers of trade and culture, but they no longer house the dynastic power of the royals. Instead, the princes who rule in these cities are powerful contenders for dominance within the Land of Kings, and their wars mostly focus on one another.

The Penewet is awash with river-boats and the barges of princes. Riverine warfare is not uncommon, though it is a great taboo to burn cities or fields, for the life provided by the Penewet is sacred.

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The Land of the Merchants

The Lower Kingdom between the Penewet and the Wadi rivers is known as the Land of the Merchants. This region is still under the control of the Princes of the Western Land but it has developed considerable freedoms since the last Nesut fell. The major cities of Yunu, Bastet, Qis, and Avaris are under no direct governance of the Princes; rather, these cities are commanded by powerful merchant councils which export Khewedi material to the lands abroad.

This region belongs principally to the merchant class, who govern their own affairs and make alliances with the various royal families of the Princes. The Land of the Merchants is often a safer location, for the violence that rages in the Land of Kings does not usually spill across the Penewet.

No indeed, this land is the province of the merchant-lords; not true nobility like the Princely Houses but rather single men with the weight of their organizations behind them. We do not have guilds of merchants, so all contacts they may have are simply that. They are not given the luxury of preserving their empires, and so must do what they can to ensure their family remains as powerful in the next generation.

This has led to fierce competition amongst the Khewed merchants; though the merchant-wars rarely degenerate into violence, the fallen of a major merchant can signal a shift of power throughout the whole region.

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The Valley of the Priests

Ahh, the Valley of the Priests! The Upper Kingdom between the Penewet and Wadi rivers, the Cataracts, is a place known as the Valley of the Priests. Since time immemorial the cult centers of the great gods have resided here. Hutnesut, Hebenu, Iunu, Per-ineb, and mighty Per-Medjed are the domain of the priestly class. While priests can be found in any of the cities of Khewed, the cities in the Valley of the Priests belong to them. When a Prince comes, he comes as a guest. In the past, Princes have come armed for war; but no cult will allow the sacred grounds to be trespassed by soldiers.

Per-Medjed is the center of the Ahekemite cult, and therefore the biggest and most important city in all of Khewed. From the massive Temple of Ahekemet in the city center, the entire valley can be surveyed. Each of the major settlements in the Valley is ruled by a different cult, with lesser cults clinging on and attending them.

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Adventurers in Khewed

The custom of adventuring is quite common in Khewed, but not as it is seen in the north. The Khewedi equivalent of your northern ‘adventuring companies’ are the thieves companies that have no respect for the dead. They seek

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Politics

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Religion

The Gods of Khewed are different from your northern gods. Some are their ancestors (Ahekemet, for example, from whom your worship of Akem is descended). However, in the Fifth Age a Khewedi scholar named Horoun A-djed wrote a long papyrus called the Transition of Faith in which he posited that each Khewedi God was an analogue of your northern deities. His list is as follows:

Aha’seb – The Secret God of Magic; compare to Galos.

Ahekemet – Our chief deity and strongest cult, your worship of Akem actually comes from Khewed/Ishtria.

Henqet’hy – The Drunken God of beer. A-djed compares with Heimir.

Shebi’a – The Goddess of Fate; Compared to Fortuna.

Sedjeta – The Goddess of Fire. A-djed claims she is the parallel of Avauna.

Tarahet – The God of Evil Necromancy; his cult is small and secretive, and is descended from your northern cult of Tharos.

Qedhep – For us, a minor smith deity. The Transition calls this Haeron.

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Economy

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Geography

Ineb Hedj

Per-Medjed

Tamn-hor

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Characters from Khewed

Characters from Khewed should refer to the (currently unfinished) Book of Egyptian Adventures!

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Khewedi

Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius