Parthan Geography

We have described the general look of Parthan geography in the past: hilly, rather dry, kind of like Greece, Italy, and Spain, with a large forest (the Drey-Gelvani woodlands) to its north.

While up in Idaho, I was struck by the geography there. Specifically, there were more arid areas where the highlands looked like the sort of cliffs and flat-topped mountains you might see in a western (though not to such an exaggerated degree). Where farmers were, though, there would be this striking enclaves of green, and the compounds themselves were surrounded by trees - both tall and narrow, and round-topped as well. The trees provided a break from the ubiquitous winds, but they also made this cool border of sorts: the idea that despite the harshness of the land, where there was water man was able to eke out his living, and inside these larges rings/groves of trees there were houses elegantly arranged one next to the other.

At that point, I was kind of struck by the dichotomy between Parthus and Sora. Sora is a land more or less composed of woodlands (I know, I know, in the map it's only about 50% or so). People have to clear out these woods to make their homes, their villages, their castles, etc… or, at any rate, they need to do so to make them secure. Going back a long ways, the mystery of dark woods, the monsters that prey on man within such forests, etc., is fairly common. This fits: Sorans are the good guys of the setting, and they make their homes/master their land by clearing out the unknown and defeating the evil/monstrous within. It's an over-simplification, but as a theme it works.

The Parthans would be kind of the opposite. They have this austere, dry, craggy land. To make their own homes, villages, etc., they need to impose their will on it differently. They're not defeating monsters or clearing out lightless woods. Just as Memnos is about domination (versus heroic deeds), so must they dam rivers, carve irrigation channels, plant their own crops and trees, etc.

Sorans do what they must on a stereotypical level with their efforts led by heroic knights. Parthans do what they must on a stereotypical level by driving on slave-like serfs.

To tread on Parthus, thus, is to tread on a dry, arid land. Those shrubs that line in the land are prickly, dry as the dirt they sprout from, and unsuitable for the sort of herds Ronans and Sorans raise… never mind proper warhorses. Ubiquitous to this land rocky, craggy hills that sometime grow to heights that might lead someone to confuse them for a minor mountain (though, in fact, they never get much bigger than 1-2,000 feet). Free-grown trees are exceedingly rare, and only found near wilderness streams or around hill-side springs. The sun beats hard, and the winds earn the reputation and names given to them by the locals.

Come closer to rivers, though, and the land takes on a green color: the green of crops. A Parthan compound is surrounded by plots of land dedicated to what we would consider Mediterranean farming crops. Orderly irrigation ditches are dug out from the rivers to bisect the plots and afford water distribution. As one comes closer to the compound itself, one would see equally orderly rows of groves: grapes, olives, fruit-bearing trees adaptable to the climate, etc. Interspersed throughout the plots and groves are small, humble homes belonging to the serfs who actually work the land. The outermost of these homes, and nearest the bridges that cross the river into the wilderness outside, are next to mangers housing flocks of sheep. Ringing the compound itself would be tall, strong trees that provide protection from wind and shade from the sun alike. Within this ring are a handful of small, Roman-style - that's my initial thought - villas where the Parthans themselves live. They have a small village square of sorts that they use for their communal feasts, for their ceremonial dances, for their martial exercises, their religious mysteries, etc. Sometimes their chosen serfs are invited here, but more often than not they're just serving their masters during these occasions.

There is no wall for such a compound. Culturally, the idea of having a wall around your community goes against the guarantee of safety and sovereignty that the Primus of the Great Citadel you are allied to has made to you. Secondly, it goes against the grain of Parthan warfare: with land being so precious and difficult to master, one would never burn the crops and homes he wishes to conquer. Thirdly, raising a wall is symbolically a challenge to your Primus and Great Citadel.

The compound is connected with neighboring ones via "avenues" that are marked by little more than parallel lines of planted trees. The Parthans don't pave their country roads like the Ronans do because (A) they never had the massive unified peacetime economy for such works and (B) the geography of Parthus makes a mess of such things. When the autumn rains come, the mudslides and flash-floods from the eroded highlands would simply bury the cobblestones of a proper road. The lines of trees serve to give a traveller direction and shade.

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