The Manirian Road and the Trader Princes


So as part of our Third Age Malkioni discussion, lets get to the Manirian Road and the Trader Princes. Remember what this is – it is a trade route between Safelster and Esrolia, dating back some 400 years. During the Closing this was the only way to get goods and people between Ralios (and from there to Seshnela) and the Holy Country.

The route was founded around 1170 by a talar named Castelain, who was descended from the god Issaries and worshipped by his kinship group as an ancestor (which is permitted by talars even under orthodox Malkionism). This was common among those talar clans that handled long-distance trade under the Silver Empire and later under the Middle Sea Empire, and many lesser talar families traced their descent to Issaries. This would have been around the time when the Kingdom of Jorstland dominated Ralios.

Castelain got spectacularly wealthy – imagine the markup of kafl, spices, iron, and other Western goods in an Esrolia cut off from trade. Of course he got his kin – his immediate family, cousins, and other clan members – in on the act. They made pacts with the local Orlanthi tribes, established settlements and caravanserai, and as talars, quickly fit into the role of judges in disputes between the tribes. They took Orlanthi and Esrolian wives and became part of the local network of alliances and kinship, but preserved their ancient role as talars, and invited zzaburi to aid them. Peace was maintained so that goods and people could be traded between Ralios and Kethaela – and when Belintar unified Kethaela into the Holy Country, that trade boomed!

They brought the Invisible God with them as well, although the locals continued to worship the Lightbringers. Eventually there was a degree of syncretism, although it was mostly one-sided. The Invisible God became a distant creator, and the Lightbringers were worshiped by everyone. Issaries was the favorite of the Trader Princes – their ancestor and patron. Some smatterings of Arkat stuff from Safelster likely got passed along as well, and zzaburi from Safelster or Tanisor could get good money working for a Trader Prince family.

If this sounds familiar, it is basically the Silk Road story.

But the Malkionism of the Trader Princes is pretty much worship of Issaries (as an ancestor, so it is ok!). With imported zzaburi to give respectability (not enough locals to keep the numbers up – besides the imported sorcerers are better trained). This manages to keep the Trader Princes from going completely native. Although I expect the zzaburi are well paid for this gig.

And so the Trader Princes have a curious “dominion”- the local tribes work with them because 1. they are good neutral judges, and 2. they give the local tribes a cut of their profits. The local Storm Voices get gifts, the Earth Priestesses are consulted (and the Trader Princes do not claim the land), and warriors get hired as mercenaries and guards. Win win for everyone!At least it is until the Opening. And suddenly it becomes cheaper to send a ship laden with goods to Handra than to send it overland across Maniria.

And if this sounds familiar, it is basically Barry Cunliffe’s theory on the collapse of the Hallstatt Fürstensitze and the rise of the La Tene warrior migrations.

The existence of gods regardless of nomenclature is not doubted by most Malkioni.