Karashima

Motto:                      “Honour above All”
Coat of Arms          Five bells of Silver, Lead, Steel, Gold and Brass.
Ruler:                         The Council of the Five Clans
Population:               5,000
Major Products:       Food, textiles, philosophy, missionaries

 

If you have a fast horse, or are fit for a long march, and head due East of New Eblana for forty days and forty nights, on the final morning of the final day, on the horizon you will see Karashima. Beautifully planned and ordered, its buildings form the shape of a lotus, and its gleaming walls rise high over the plains of Tarnith. At the lotus’ center is the Great Bureaucracy, whose five towers ring with the bells of the Great Clans; Silver for Sincerity, Lead for Duty, Steel for Courage, Gold for Hospitality and the silent Brass bell of Clan Compassion.

Many years ago, the core of the five great Clans arrived on the plains of Tarnith. From where, exactly, is a mystery, for none had heard of them before their coming. “From far off lands”, “Where the Sun and the Moon meet” and “what matters not, is where we have come from, what matters is where we are” are some of the more sensible answers the Clans have deigned to give. It is not known whether they travelled here by choice, or whether they were made exiles from their homeland. What is known is that a combination of strong social ties and a focus on the five virtues of Honour, as exemplified by the five Great Clans, allowed them to prosper in their new home. They founded the city of Karashima, rumoured to have meant “Honours’ Fruit” in a lost language. Its order and structure mirrors the society which created it. Drawing settlers from all directions, it has come to dominate the plains of Tanrith in the last few decades, where before there was nothing.

Karashima’s ways are not the ways of other lands. The Five Virtues are the cornerstones of a very rigid social structure. All observe the virtues as a means of bringing honour both to themselves, and to their Clan, though each Clan champions a specific virtue. Each Clan is further divided into two or more Houses, with their own identity, history and traditions. The members of House Horned Beetle of Clan Courage are renowned as great warriors, for example, and the House of the Subtle Smiles have a grand tradition as wizards of sublime skill.

The finer points of the Five Virtues can be a topic of heated debate amongst the clans, and even the Houses within a different Clan may have a very different way of viewing their cardinal virtue. However, it is clearly apparent that they have provided a structure and focus which have shaped Karashima since its founding. Duty to the town and its needs, Courage when defending it, Hospitality to those visiting and those people from the outlying country who might someday be adopted into the clans, Sincerity in all your actions and Compassion to those who need it ­- these things are not simply expected, they are required to be exalted, if one is to be a part of Karashima.

To the outsider, Karashiman society is complex, and formal. There are many nuances to interaction, and it is all too easy to give offence, or speak at cross purposes. However, outsiders are welcome, and the Karashimans are happy to explain their ways to those who are keen to listen. Indeed, many have chosen to become part of their society, finding purpose and comfort in Honouring the Five Virtues, and being part of a greater whole. Notably, in Karashiman culture, the wielding of a sword is considered a mark of honour, and thus only those whose actions have brought them great honour carry such blades. The Gods of Karashima are the original founders of each of the clans, ancestors from several thousands of years past. Each clan worships their own founders, and the houses within each clan honour certain founders above the rest.

For many years – particularly in the last fifty – Karashima has grown strong and silent on the plains of Tarnith. It has attracted people from all walks of life, all cities, all species. Now, it turns its gaze outward, toward the wider world. How will other lands live up to the standards of the people of the Five Virtues? What might happen if they fail?