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The Yamato Kingdom

The Yamato Kingdom is located within the Yamato Mountain Range, the largest mountain range of Aqualon, located east of the The Middle Lands. They are one of the most ancient civilizations to spawn from the ancestral races that survived the Reshaping of the World1

Before the First Age, or more precisely the Reshaping of the World, there was no planet, as in globe, of Aqualon but instead a collection of nine island worlds (meaning floating islands in space), which were called the Nine Realms. These of course were created from the ashes of the previous incarnation of Aqualon, which *was* a globular planet. For the largest part of their history, these Nine Realms were ruled by the Old Gods, then just known as the Gods of Asgard. During the War of the Reshaping, a strange Weltenwandler called The Faceless Worldshaper/Worldchanger rallied the Midgardians and Swartalben to his cause and they defeated the Old Gods, claiming the Well of Wyrd, which he used to create the planet out of the nine realms.

. The ancestral race they are related to most closely are the Swartalben (sometimes called Swarten or Schwarz) of Swartalbaheim.   The propensity and innate love for precious metals, gems, and metalwork lived on throughout the family lines of the clans that would once form the mighty Yamato Kingdom, and it shines through when reviewing their oldest tale, the tale of the founding of Yamato by Glam Shen.  
When the descendants of the Kokusei2

The Kokusei, short for Kokuyôsei 黒妖精 ("Black Elves"), are known as Swartalben in the Middlish tongue and were one of the races of men that lived in the Nine Realms before the War that Reshaped the World.

traveled further and further east, they found before themselves a majestic mountain range, full of strange wonders and treasures. Their greatest chief Glam Shen bade them to scale the mountainside and find out what was on the other side, for his people had become nomads of the land, moving here and there, never staying in one place, even though his ancestors had once built great halls in the mountains of Swartalbaheim of the Nine Realms. Glam Shen had the gift of vision, and he saw in these mountains a new home for his people, and so he scaled them with great determination. As he traveled through the lush forests of the slopes, he found delicious round fruits with a thin, yellow rind and a sweet, juicy core growing on trees everywhere, and he named it nantama, and its nourishing flesh allowed his clan to roam the mountain range far and wide. As they climed the tall peaks, they found the great valley, protected by mountains to all sides, and they called this land Yamato.

And on the slopes and sheers of the Yamato Mountain Range, Glam Shen discovered the strange creatures that we call murasaki moths today. Sweet was the scent they spread throughout the land, tufty and bright purple was their moth fur. His tribe quickly took to hunting the creatures, migrating through the edges of the valley, also making sport of goats and bayô, the horned goat horses of the Yamato Valley. As they traveled along the slopes and cliffs, they rediscovered their ancestors' great talent for mining and working metals, and they found many treasures hidden in the mountains, including a most precious yellow metal that gleamed beautifully: gold.

"What a wondrous treasure! Surely this gleaming metal is the stuff from which the wheels of the Daihô3

The Daihô 大法 ("Great Law"), also known as Dharma in the Seventeen Yonder Islands and as the Great Clockwork in the Middle Lands, is what the Yamato people call the basic truths of the universe or the nature of the clockwork.

are forged..." Glam Shen spoke. "We shall mine it and sell it to the Midgardmen, who built houses of stone and till fields in the earth, for surely they will covet it. And with their help we will carve out our own kingdom here!"

And he would have his men mine great quantities of gold and bring them to the Middle Lands where he convinced all the descendants of the Kokusei to join his new kingdom and bought manpower and technology from the Middlish men to support the founding. It did not take long for the people of Glam Shen to build houses of stone and wood themselves and till fields in the fertile valley. And they caught many goats and bayô and murasaki moths and held them in pans and fields, harvesting their milk, horn, flesh, and fur, and in time also the swamp gas that the moths carry in their bellies for lamps. Soon the new kingdom named Yamato was prosperous beyond ken.

But in his latter days, Glam Shen became restless and spoke of spirits of the valley that he had angered. He wandered for many hours each night and his subjects knew not where he went, only that he was somewhere in the thicket of willows by the mountainside. Some began to jest that he was going to treat with the Willow King, but their mockery was short lived for one morning after being gone for many days, he returned from the woods and his hair had become as white as winter snow, and his eyes glowed blue like sapphires with fire behind them. His people feared his new form, and he bade them to gather much gold and wood and to climb to the tallest peak and erect a great shrine in honor of the Daihô and clad it in golden plates, so it would glimmer and throw the sun's light far and wide for all to see. Glam Shen had become the world's first Yasha4

This statement is actually apocryphal since the Angel Smiths have suffered from spellblight since before the War that Reshaped the World. The misunderstanding is based on the fact that for the longest time, people were under the impression that that was just coincidentally a natural look for their kind.

.

The construction took many decades, and many people died during the project, but in the end the golden shrine was completed, and he named it Dairintaisha 大輪大社 ("Grand Shrine of the Great Wheel") and proclaimed that on the first day of the year, the king was to visit the shrine and pay homage to the Daihô, and so he did and his successors as well. The Shrine was struck by lightning ten times on occasions during which he visited it, and despite taking severe damage and requiring serious repairs that were perilous and expensive, Glam Shen himself was never harmed, and many rumors and terrible stories spread that he had made a contract with the Willow King, selling his soul to the Willow Kingdom, which had turned his hair white and his eyes blue and forced him to have the shrine built. But for what he had paid this price none knew, though everyone speculated much on it. When he died, no King after him dared to ommit the annual shrine visit, fearing some unknown contract with the spirits may be broken on that day, and the custom continued for many centuries.
— Hans Walger in "A Comparative Study of Yamato Folklore", original story from an unknown source
 

Geography

For the First Age and the Age of the Iron Divide, the capital of the Yamato Kingdom was located in the lush Yamato Valley, which was strategically protected by high mountains to three sides and the wide, unforgiving Iron Belt to the south. Though, the capital city was not always the same, and in fact with the rise of new dynasties, it would move from time to time, and great city planning projects would be set into motion to turn small, strategically located villages and towns into new splendid capital cities. This trend continued throughout the first two ages, until the ambitious task of constructing Yamaseki on the tallest mountain of Aqualon, Tenbashirazan, was undertaken by the new Taira dynasty during what would become known as the Age of Awakening.   To this day, the capital has not changed since the construction of Yamaseki had been completed. Overlooking the entire fertile valley from the palace located in the Tenjôken, the upper stratum of the city, the emperor holds supreme power both literally and metaphorically. Thus, even when the Taira dynasty was overthrown by the Tenshin dynasty, the capital remained the same.  

The Emperor

The emperor counts as the highest power of the kingdom and has a powerful influence on the instating of new ministers and governors, though individual provinces, save for Mt. Tenbashira and its foothills, are ruled not by him or her but by appointed governors, which pay taxes to the kingdom. The current emperor is the child empress Airi Tenshin, who is counseled by the so-called sangami (three high ministers), two of which are eunuchs: Shigeru Gaowang and Li Yata. The third is a young woman called Kanade Bygate, an ominous name to say the least, though little is known about her outside the Yamato court. Empress Tenshin is also counseled by her great uncle Jizi, who had been taught by one of the Five Grand Sages, or so goes the rumor.  

Traveling Through the Yamato Kingdom

Warning: this is an actual excerpt from Aqualon, Rise of the Broken.
Nanashi the Null Arrives in Yamato
Now that the sun rose to bestow her gift upon the Yamato Mountain Range, the moths went to sleep to soon again cast their flapping dance of worship to the moons light at night. When she looked down beside the path before her, she could see the mountainside going down and forming terrace basins carved by the men who lived here. When rain fell, it would swell the mountain streams and flood the first terrace until it was full to the brim and then overflow into the next and the next and the next. The cycles of overwatering and drying were the best way to harvest rich crops of Yamato long corn rice.   The ground was oft not the best for potatoes so those were grown more seldom in these parts, making them more of a delicacy used in fine cooking. Wheat and barley could not stand the harsh, stormy winds and cold snaps that were part of the weather cycle up here, but she had heard that they were regularly sold to the Yamato folk by the Aerialingers.   Nanashi shivered a little from the cold winds and so went back into the village, entering the inn where the group had kept a room. Now that she was alone, she had switched to smaller accommodations. She sat down at one of the tables and was brought the bowl of steaming rice with some pickled vegetables and salted fish from Aerialis she had requested as well as some green leaf tea, which was grown in large parts on the Yamato Foothills to the west of the Kingdom.

Nanashi and Günther's Trip to the Moth Herder Begins
They slowly advanced away from the village, traveling along the eastern mountain paths, the slowly expanding Yamato Valley to their left in the west as they went northward in the direction of Yamaseki. Nanashi had packed what little things she had and Günter only had a small backpack and his large sword, so departure had been on the time table right after a good lunch. Now the wind blew fierce oft as not and made Nanashi’s wide robes flap around like a flag. They were moody winds, coming and going, blowing from here, then from there, never quite decided; and with them they carried moth dust every now and again. It made Nanashi think of her long forgotten childhood, climbing around the cliffs and crevasses that were about Yamaseki. Yamaseki was the capital of the Yamato Kingdom and built in lofty heights just as most of the cities and villages of the kingdom that had been built around former castles and fortifications, erected in large parts during the Age of Heroes. The wealthier cities and the old capital lay in the Yamato Valley, which was protected from wind and war and blessed with fertile soil. The new capital stood tall above any other settlement or fortress, looking down on the southern cities of the valley, and only a few monasteries were on higher summits still. Notable was also that Yamaseki was not just grafted onto a plateau, it was half surrounded by a mountain’s rock face that had been hollowed to house the ‘Uramachi’ as the citizens had taken to calling it: ‘the city behind the city’.

Yamato Kingdom2 (Custom).jpg

Sons of Swartalbaheim

The tales of the Swartalben are signified through old Kaltani songs and eddas, most notably "the Nine Songs", which describe one of the nine old realms, each starting with the same three verses. The Swartalben are mentioned in the The Albenlied and have their own song: "the Schwarzgesang", which goes as follows.  

The Schwarzgesang

In olden days before the war
There were nine realms and not one more
Remember well, this story tell
Of golden days of yore

There was no ball of earth and ísen
Under mannen’s feet
And eons passed us quickly by then
For realms were split by gaping silence.

A river branching like a tree
Of light and rainbow-colors then
Ran between the shards, you see
war was no easy feat for men

The fifth realm was Swartalbaheim
The Swarten there did dwell
Their eyes were crystal, and arms of iron
Mined the Swartenwelt

Up in the sun they saw the strength
of furnaces and forges there
that glowed so brilliantly and fair
that to her they would speak a prayer.

Their hearts were true to Albenheim,
they served their brothers full of zeal
and forged them weapons, armor, and
true might from ashen steel.

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