It is hard to say why Nerunism is so very harsh in Tal’dor when it is applied much more liberally in other parts of Bratsk. The people’s temperament might have something to do with it. Stubborn at the best of times, intransigent at the worst, the Tal’dori have long memories and do not forgive easily. Then again, such inflexibility could well be a result of millennia of hard-boiled maxims and stern, sombre lessons, so that the citizens of this country know little joy in life, for joy is a sin. Perhaps it is a result of feeling constantly under threat, from the south, north and east, although the Nur-Dal suffers the same geographical exposure but none of the paranoia. Whatever the reason, the sternness of people here is the takeaway impression one gets when visiting it, and whilst not inhospitable, it is unlikely the traveller will make any life-long friendships in Tal’dor. Suspicious of outsiders, and downright hostile to settling foreigners, the Tal’dori have always preferred their own company, and the Church has supplied it with plenty of reasons as to why one’s own company is the best company. The Elaramaika is full of warning parables and myths about not trusting, about suspicion, about the likeliness of betrayal.
Besides Kvev, two other major cities should be mentioned – Xorxiv in the north, and Polt in the west. Both cities are older than Kvev, and in fact, when Tal’dor was first established as a unified nation state in 788 BU, it was Xorxiv that became the capital and the major seat of power. Eventually, the capital was moved, for around 500 BU the theocratic state felt uneasy having the beating heart of the country so close to Volchok, itself recently unified and quickly militarising itself. And so, in 499 BU, Kvev became the new capital city of Tal’dor, and every effort was made to make it as impressive and oppressive as possible. One need spend only an hour or two here to see the bizarre results of mixing archaic religious scripture with modern engineering know-how. Kvev is a marvel of gravity defying proportions, in much the same way Ulaam is, but on a much grander scale. At the centre of the city is the Cathedral of Neruna, a building the size of a small city, and made up of multiple levels upon which smaller places of worships, such as shrines, churches and temples are located.
The Priesthood live within the Cathedral, and perform their duties here too, rarely venturing out into Kvev proper. One could spend one’s entire life in this place and not feel as though one were missing out on much. The libraries within the Cathedral are the most extensive and well-resourced in all of Bratsk. Most books are kept in the archives below ground and are not accessible to the public, and when one considers that the available collection of over three million books is only five per cent of the Cathedral’s entire holdings, one begins to understand just how large a body of knowledge and art the Cathedral possesses.
Shops, bars, taverns and restaurants line the avenues that lead away from the cathedral on all levels, though the variety of saleable goods is far less impressive. No alcohol is served within Kvev, and a strict supply of fish, bread and rice is pretty much the staple food stocks here. That, however, does not mean one cannot find more interesting food and drink elsewhere in Tal’dor, but one has to know where to go and where to look. Indeed, in Kvev itself, the clergy have a very hard time of stamping out the sale of alcohol completely, despite the punitive measures that are taken against seller and client if it is found on their person or property. Law after law has been passed to prevent alcohol, even to the point where children have been requested to inform on their parents or other adults if they are witness to such things, but it seems the Tal’dori love of spirits is one thing that can never be eradicated.
To that end, the police in Tal’dor must be the most feared of all countries in Bratsk. Rather than serve their communities, there is a very real sense of them punishing them, and it is extremely rare to find someone who has anything positive to say about them if they are permitted to speak candidly. Corruption is rife, but underground and out of sight, and the Priesthood of Tal’dor seem to have accepted that this is the necessary price worth paying for their theocratic state to function properly.
What of its relationship with other countries? Culturally, Tal’dor is much more aligned to Volchok than it is to the Nur Dal, and once again, religion can be seen as the determining factor. Besides Blood Voron, Blood Neprev was the most actively engaged in the destruction of necromancy between 1520 and 1720, but their reasons for this were different. For Volchok, betrayal was the motivation, and at least in the early stages of its war against the necromancers it targeted its ire not at all necromancers but those perceived to have initiated the schism within the Order. It was the Priesthood of Tal’dor, however, that insisted the persecution of necromancers should – must – be extended to all those actively or passively engaged in necromancy. What started as a targeted response became, under the growing influence of the Priesthood on this point – an all-out annihilation of the necromancers. And Volchok went with them, every step of the way.
The reason for such wilful genocide is obvious – necromancy represents everything that Nerunism (or the Nerunism of the Tal’dori Priesthood) reject. The ability to see the future, communing with the dead, travelling by one’s mind to the land of the silent, these were activities that could only be explained as rank demonology and witchcraft, and nothing else. Even when the Nekromika served the empire, before Nur Dal ceded from it in 1519 and Tal’dor did the same precisely one hundred years later (1619) Tal’dor refused to have necromancers stationed within its lands. It was one of the preconditions for Tal’dor signing the Blood Unity. After necromancers were blamed for the empire’s loss against the Sakr in 1519, the Priesthood of Tal’dor felt entirely vindicated for always having suspected necromancy as a vile, untrustworthy discipline, meddling with powers that only Neruna herself had access to. Whispering in the ear of Blood Neprev, Blood Voron got what it wanted, and both provinces worked together to destroy necromancy altogether.
But necromancy survived. They went to ground yes, but their survival was also assisted by the Nur Dal, whose Blood had an historical link to this particular school of death magic. The Nur Dal offered necromancers asylum from 1519 AU and allowing them to move between the Nur Dal and the Sakr in peace. Such harbouring brought the Nur Dal into conflict with Tal’dor. Eventually, around 1720, the war against the necromancers ended, but no one really thought necromancy had truly been eradicated. But after five hundred years of near continuous warfare – whether against an enemy state or enemy race – even Tal’dor was tired. And so, like a shadow, necromancy continued, albeit on a much smaller basis. But Tal’dor has never taken its eyes away from the south, and even today entertains hopes that, with Blood Neprev having fallen, the day will soon come when they can march on the Sakr, and put an end to necromancy for good.