Agenom (ɑ:.ge.nɒm) is a human nation on the southwestern side of the northern half of the Kalesten continent, settled on the interior coast of the Kalesten Gulf. It has two major cities, with many smaller cities, towns, and villages in between. The capital, Coom, is in the north. The southern city of Dashy is a major trading hub located in the south.
Agenom's northern borders are shaped by the western edges of the Perdraser Mountain Range and the river Eora that flows from the southern end of the mountains, then arcs down into central Kalesten where it forks. The western fork that empties into the Kalesten Gulf marks the southernmost border of Agenom. The eastern border was defined politically and is only marked by outposts. The border was formerly shared with the nation of Cheuz, which has since been conquered by the Kalestein Empire.
Agenom has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Much of the region is scrub, sparse woodland (such as oak savanna), shrubland or chaparral. much of the land is hilly, sloping down to the sea. Rolling foothills with scattered boulders are common sights.
The trade of spice is Agenom's lifeline. The sub-tropical region seems to be perfect for cultivating a myriad of exotic plants that cannot be grown elsewhere and produce tantalizing flavors that are highly desired across all of Kalesten, and even beyond. They hold a rather large monopoly on spices, but their greatest competition comes from Ertian trade.
With access to the mountains, Agenom has a strong trade in mining of metals and gemstones. Veins of silver and copper are found in areas of the Perdrasers, along with iron and other metals. Certain gems and crystals are the focus of other operations, including the mining of the ideal crystal for manastones, which are traded almost exclusively with Emkal.
The native flora and fauna of Agenom is akin to the species native to the California region of our world, specifically southern California's coastal, mountain, and oak savannas. Large predators common to the area include mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and some wolves. More exotic species from the south can range into the southern Dashy region. Deer populate much of the open landscape and bighorn sheep can be found in the mountains.
Agenom is home to two species of highly prized exotic birds. The Phishina is a beautiful large white bird that is considered a herald of Areria. Agenom's other sacred bird is the Leurija, a medium-sized songbird with silver and blue feathers. It was declared sacred when two hundred years ago, a Leurija is said to have saved the life of the queen.
Agenom is a monarchy ruled by the Pholleios Dynasty in a succession determined by birth order, regardless of gender. The current monarch is the young Queen Morotia Pholleios. The Pholleios family has ruled Agenom for thirteen generations with the mystique of supernatural abilities, which are maintained by marriage to their near relations and has long discouraged political marriage with other nations.
Beneath the monarch is a tier of nobles, a system taken from the old Kalesten Union. Dukes, counts, and barons control regions of Agenom beneath the monarch and act on the monarch’s behalf, managing taxes, seeing that laws are enforced, and representing their region to the monarch. Titles are determined by the population of the region in question, but it is descendants and relations of the Pholleios that make up the dukes and some of the counts.
Like many other monarchies, the succession relies on birth order. Female and male heirs are equally valued. Typically, after the death of the current monarch, their first born child will inherit the throne. The current queen, Morotia, is married to King-Consort Darius Kopios. Their son, Anais Pholleios, is the Crown Prince and stands to inherit the throne from his mother one day. Queen Morotia inherited the throne from her father, King Erios Pholleios.
In the case of the death of the heir apparent before succession, the next child in line is selected. If after the death of the current monarch there is no heir, one of their younger siblings maybe selected, and if they have no siblings, the task will go to an aunt or uncle—-one of the younger siblings of the monarch before them—-and so on until an appropriate heir is found. However, it has rarely ever had to go back more than two generations. In this event, the heir and their family is immediately elevated to royal status, and any children they have had before the succession thus become the next heirs.
The spouse of the monarch has no claim upon the throne, and their title is traditionally the King or Queen Consort. The main role of the consort is bear or sire heirs for the monarch, provide companionship, and advice. The family of a consort stands to gain influence and wealth from the marriage, but consorts hold very little political power. The consort can be granted regency in the death of their spouse when the heir apparent is under the age of sixteen. However, regency must be approved by the dukes, and if the consort is considered unfit by this council, one of them will take the regency until the heir apparent comes of age.
Agenom had been at peace for many decades, maintaining a standing volunteer military and navy only to secure their borders and protect traders, but the sudden expansion of the Kalestein Empire in KCY 595 forced Agenom to reinvigorate its military. Kalestein has frozen in its advancement while Chawoven, Agenom, Rheneld, Isbany, and Kosony put up a united front, but the threat of war still looms. Agenom has stepped up recruitment and is putting its army and navy through their paces, preparing for conflict, but they have not gone as far as to issue a draft yet.
As a coastal nation, Agenom has a navy alongside ground forces. The Agenom navy has many of the same standards as the army. At times, the navy has had far more enlistments than the army as it provides more opportunities than the army in peacetime. They navy has long patrolled the Kalesten Gulf, along with the navies of Ertia, Cheuz, and Kosony, to guard against piracy.
Agenom is allied with Chawoven, Rheneld, Isbany, and Kosony in a mutual defense pact against the Kalestein Empire. As Agenom shares a border with the new Empire and watched their neighbor, Cheuz, fall, they have been maintaining their military in preparation for the potential continued expansion of the Empire. Historically, Agenom has been moderately isolated due to the mountain range at their back and the sea at their front, but they have long maintained trade relationships by sea, through the mountain passes, by the Eora River and through their northeastern border with Cheuz. In generations past, there had been wars off and on between Agenom and Cheuz, which defined the two states' identities, but they had long been at peace when Kalestein expanded.
The Agenomians have very little interaction with the Zaedyn and Nafod, but mining and quarrying operations have had dealings with the Brech’mar in the past. After many instances of trespassing into Brech’mar territory, the Agenomian government was forced to negotiate diplomatically, or face war. Agreements were made that allowed Agenom to mine outside of Brech’mar borders, and to do so in an ecologically sustainable manner. While it was the Brech’mar who handled this agreement, they also represented the interests of their Zaedyn and Nafod cousins in the region. This still causes issues with many mining companies who find the Brech’mar provisions to be too costly and inefficient for them.
Agenomians are typically tan to olive-skinned with dark hair. Eye colors are typically brown, but hazel and green eyes are not uncommon. They are close to average human heights, if not slightly shorter than average; women stand around 5’5” (1.65m) and men at 5’9” (1.75m).
Agenom is a human nation and recognizes no significant populations of other races as citizens. Most other races in the region live outside the official borders of the nation. Brech’mar and Zaedyn cities are scattered across mountains in the Perdrasers, just north of Agenom, while Ochae’nafod and Dra’nafod tribes are scattered throughout secluded parts of the range. Kuzo inhabit the mountains as well, and can cause issues with livestock populations and sometimes threaten villages. From time to time, local militias are pulled together to slay rogue Kuzo tribes.
One of the most defining aspects of Agenom society is that it is broken into three strict castes, or tiers, defined by a person’s station in life, and shown by the color of their clothes. This is expected of all citizens of Agenom, but visitors are free of such restrictions. The rigidity of this class distinction plays out in behavior and etiquette as well--with distinct markers of class, it is clear to Agenomians how they should act with a person wearing indigo as opposed to someone in brown.
The first tier of society is nobility—starting from the royal family, to the nobles, and ending with knights. The first tier is marked by white clothing typically adorned with gold. This tier is mainly determined by birth and bloodline, and the only other way to enter into this tier is to either be adopted/ensquired or married into a knightly family.
The second tier is the middle class and determined by economic status. Successful merchants and their families, and some individuals earning high regard from the state (such as sorcerers who lend their talents to the monarchy, and are thus paid handsomely) enter into the middle class. They are marked by the azure and indigo dyed clothing, and typically use silver adornments. Families can be moved up into this tier based on their income. The third tier is the peasantry, mostly farmers and laborers. They are permitted to wear clothing dyed either brown or black, which is often unadorned except for formal clothing. They are only allowed jewelry of copper or more common metals.
Foreigners are not subject to this rule, but if they choose to dress in Agenomian fashion, they must wear a color suiting for their station in life. It would be considered a great affront, even illegal, for a foreigner to wear an Agenomian style outfit in white unless they were visiting nobility. Clerics, whether native or foreign, are allowed to wear their temple’s official uniform, even if it is white. Immigrants are expected to adapt to the color coding once they become citizens.
The cut and style of Agenom’s clothing is much the same throughout the tiers, though designs and fabrics differ in extravagance and quality between the tiers. The basic fashion is a long-sleeved tunic and vest for men, paired with loose-fitting pants that tuck into mid-shin high boot tops. Women wear long dresses with at least two layers; a flowing gown with long sleeves covered by a sleeveless over-dress. Both genders wear thick sashes around the waist. Higher tiers adorn their clothes with gold or silver foiling on vests, over-dresses, and the ends of the sashes, while lower tiers will use light colored fabric or stitching to achieve the same effect.
Curly hair is considered highly fashionable for women, and is worn pinned up with some scattered loose curls falling free or cascading down the back. Women with naturally straight or wavy hair often curl their hair daily, but natural curls are the most valued.
Gender Roles & Sexuality
There is a mix of rigidity and flexibility in Agenom's gender expectations. Legally, men and women are equal persons. Both genders can own property, run businesses, pursue education, and enjoy many of the same privileges. Women are not allowed to join the military, though noblewomen may lead soldiers into battle or play a role in strategy and planning. Women are also not legally disallowed to learn to use weapons, fight, or own weapons.
Socially, however, there are expected gender roles that both men and women are expected to follow. Agenom follows the ideology of strong, stoic men, and fragile, feeling women. Women are encouraged toward early marriage, devotion to the home and family, and specific intellectual pursuits that are considered more "feminine." Increasingly, men are encouraged towards military service and postponing marriage into their twenties. In the lower classes and in more rural settings, these gender roles are more strictly enforced by social expectations, but urban and upper class culture is more flexible. The leaders of businesses and noble houses are equally men and women, and in mimicry of the royal family, succession in noble houses is determined solely by birth order, and not gender.
Agenom maintains a heteronormative status-quo and binary recognition of gender. There is no recognition for same-sex marriage and individuals who flaunt expected gender roles and identities are mildly ostracized. Men have a little more freedom in avoiding marriage to a woman--"confirmed bachelors" are considered social curiosities and oddities, but not frowned upon (except in noble houses where marriages are important for maintaining bloodlines, inheritance, and relations). Women who refuse to marry are not so well-received, regardless of class.
Virginity for young women of marriageable age is expected--but not so much for men. Women who are rumored to have had romantic liaisons before marriage struggle to find a man willing to wed them. Widows or divorcees at least have less pressure in remarriage.
Divorces are granted on specific grounds and can be sought by either gender. Cases of abuse, neglect, financial ruin, infidelity, and other serious issues are acceptable reasons for divorce, but must be proven.
As with many North Kalesten nations, Agenom's marriages are overseen by the regional branches of the Temple of Love. While the Temple of Love's doctrine is far more flexible than Agenom's culture, they are beholden to the culture of the nation they are established in, so they can perform marriage services only for what the law of Agenom recognizes. However, the Temple of Love does provide sanctuary and opportunities for women and others to escape abuse and oppressive cultures.
Agenom follows the Religion of Light, like much of North Kalesten, and temple services are integrated into some state functions.
The Seasonal Goddesses are highly revered in Agenom, especially amongst farming communities. Both Dashy and Coom have major temples, and there are many shrines maintained by priestesses throughout farming communities in the countryside. One of the grandest Seasonal Temples in the world is located in Coom, but for all its grandiosity, priestesses are still trained at the home temple in Chawoven.
As a nation rich through trade, they are one of the few nations to make Casril a major god in their pantheon. Coom is home to one of the only two actual temples to Casril in all of northern Kalesten—the other being in Serdenaugh.
The other Gods of Light are worshiped in Agenom as well, though their places of worship are far less grand. Acoassa, Erada, Saeven, and Essan and the Muses all have small temples in Coom and Dashy to serve the people as needed. Coom has a large complex of temples, creating a section of city known as ‘the holy quarter’.
Agenom does not have a public education system. Most children in the first tier are educated by their parents in only the skills they need, typically the same skills their parents have. This leads to long family lines of farmers or laborers that are stuck in the same line of work as their forefathers generations before them. Children who aspire to more than this typically only have the options of hoping that a knight will want to ensquire them, or a second-tier artisan apprentice them, or joining the clergy.
Children of the second tier are expected to attend private academies, funded by tuition paid by their families. Most children of the first tier have private tutors, but some lower nobility and knightly children attend the same private academies as second-tier children. Knightly children are either ensquired to their knightly parent or another knight in the family and receive private tutoring along with training, but if they show no martial talent (or sometimes simply if they are female) they are sent to an academy for education.