I have visited Fivetown many times for numerous reasons, chief of which is the purchase of healing herbs and spices for the Horn temple. I was a novice monk when I first set eyes on some of the towns that made up the country, and I was a fool then to think I had caught a glimpse of the country after just seeing one town. Fivetown is truly a wonder, and it is a most curious thing that the five towns of Fivetown have stayed together as one nation for this long. If the glue that holds nations together is common beliefs, values, traditions, and lands, then Fivetown should be an anti-nation if there were ever such a thing.
Akamma is predominantly forest, hilly land-- roughly the same size as the Horn. Through the Clan and Tribe Age, Akamma was ruled by elders, who were the oldest or most accomplished men in the town. The Akamma people had no single rulers or kings and found the notion of a man ruling over another man to be senseless at best. They believed that no being, not even the spirits, were worthy of such an honour. Perhaps this is why an Akaman finds ruling to be a burden. A daunting and frustrating venture that yields little result. An Akaman would much rather tend to his crops or trade, for they believe wealth is the one true ruler of men.
South of Akamma is the Kingdom of Olili. Unlike the Akamma people, the Olili people do believe in being ruled, so long as it is from an ordained family, whatever that means. Still, their willingness to be subservient to their betters serves them well. The Ooni Royal Family, for over five hundred years, have ruled their lands to fruition. The people are provided free education, medicine, and housing, and the elderly are fed by the graciousness of His Royal Majesty. But in life, nothing really comes free, and the price for the ruler’s kindness is that once a person comes of age, he must go to the palace and pledge fealty to the royal family, surrendering all he owns, and all the fruits of his labour. Of course, a person can choose not to pledge fealty and be ostracized. For even if he can own his own land and grow his own crop, he dares not ride the King’s road with his harvest.
Further south is Osisi. There is an old joke that goes - when the people of Akamma say, “We know no kings”, the Osisi people reply, “But you know conquerors”. A joke in bad taste tha t still stings, like salt in a wound. Since records began, the Osisi people have constantly attacked the territories of Akamma simply because they felt the world was theirs to rule. Such was the teaching of their oracles, so that was what they believed. From the great shrine of the Shades, the oracles would emerge bearing counsel said to be from the great spirits themselves; their words always heeded and never questioned. To the people of Osisi, these oracles are the embodiment of the spirits on the earth, and are feared, worshiped and adored. I was surprised, upon dining with the oracles, to find them to be exceptionally educated, all twelve of them, but yet, deny their people the same formal education that they enjoy. At the temple, it has been suggested that perhaps the oracles learned from the mistakes of Rawani, the mountain King; in order to rule without question, ensure no one can ask questions in the first place. Only one tenth of Osisi’s population are educated, and only one tenth of the educated are said to remain in Osisi.
Nyamagi is more quarrying site than State, with most nations and companies owning mining rights in one area or another within and around the town. Is it any wonder then, why the rails of Branom passed through miles of unpopulated lands just to get to Nyamagi?
Their soils, rivers and air are polluted beyond repair. The weather is hot and humid, the sky dusty and red. Nyamagi, by all accounts, is for sale, and the rest of the world is buying. The Esoreem royal family own sole mining rights to nearly all discovered precious stone mines, and the city of Branom own mining rights to nearly all Lume mines by Nyamagi’s border with the Shades. Nyamagi is grateful for the foreigners’ pillaging of their once beautiful land. After all, when their streams turn black from lume mining and all the fish die, Esoreem rushes to their aid with army food; shiploads of honeyed biscuits and sun-dried dates. When Nyamagi’s crop fields become barren, Branom teaches the farmers to become miners and put them to work in lume mines. The Lume ore is sent to the Cracks in Branom, refined, and then sold back to Nyamagi at a cost higher than any other land due to the distance the lumes must travel.
Many believe that Nyamagi’s leaders prefer things the way they are. Branom and Esoreem run smoothly, thanks to the low prices Nyamagi affords them. As a show of gratitude, the leaders of the two most industrialized cities in the world ensure that Nyamagis leaders are well to do, so long as they turn a blind eye to the possibility of a free market.
The Sky Sage is book one of the Sageland chronicles.