WHAT WE ALL KNOW…
We live in an age where the Hybori peoples are the possessors of a virile civilization, whose most powerful kingdom is Aquilonia, though others vie with it in strength and splendor. They are the supreme in the Western world. In the North, however, golden-haired, blue-eyed barbarians have driven the remaining Hyborian tribes out of all the snow-countries except Hyperborea. Their land is known as Nordheim, and they are divided into the red-haired Vanir and the yellow-haired Aesir. Now the Lemurians enter history again, as Hyrkanians. Pushing westward, one tribe establishes the kingdom of Turan on the Southwestern shore of the inland Vilayet Sea. Later, other Hyrkanian clans push westward around that sea’s northern extremity.
Glancing briefly at the peoples of this age, the dominant Hyborians are no longer uniformly tawny-haired and grey-eyed; they have mixed with other races, but this mixing has not weakened them. The Shemites are men of medium height with hawk noses, dark eyes, and blue-black beards. The ruling classes of Stygia are tall men, dusky and straight-featured. The Hyrkanians are dark and generally tall and slender. The people of Nordheim retain their light skin, blue eyes, and red or yellow hair. The Picts are the same type as they always were; short, very dark with black eyes and hair. The Cimmerians are tall and powerful, with dark hair and blue or grey eyes. South of Stygia are the vast black kingdoms of the Amazons, the Kushites, the Atlaians and the hybrid empire of Zembabwei. Between Aquilonia and the Pictish wilderness lie the Bossonian Marches, peopled by descendants of an aboriginal race mixed with Hyborians. They are stubborn fighters and great archers, as they must be to have survived centuries of warfare with the barbarians to the North and West.
Into the Unknown…
“But how have we come to be in this land?” This land referred to only as, The Edge of the World. This sand and rock which whispers of an ancient civilization in a tongue older than any spoken by man. This territory rich in secrets, dangers, and hidden power. “How have we come to be here?”, you ask again?
Some have found themselves exiled to this land after crossing an enemy or perhaps even a god. Others have traveled here having heard whispers of the ancient forgotten relics of this land – relics forgotten in shadow, holding great and terrible power. I’ve heard a tale of traders on their way to Iranistan who became trapped here, shipwrecked after storms crushed their boats on the rocks to the east. A few were born here, and having been blinded by childhood nostalgia or perhaps raised on the Cimmerian adage, ‘Accept what you cannot change,’ – they’ve grown comfortable in this hostile realm.
Lush jungles, harsh deserts, and mountains of chalk-white stone spread across the horizon as far as the eye can see. At their edge, a vile sorcery marked by archaic signs waits to trap those who may enter and kill those who try to leave without permission. The mark of this sorcerous curse lies on each of our wrists in the form of an ornate gold bracelet. ‘Who is responsible for this?’, I hear you asking. Such an inquisitive ‘Exile’ you are. Even I cannot tell you who is responsible – I can hear the name being whispered, but the sands speak it too faintly to decipher.
What I can tell you, is that this place is more than its facade. Do not let your eyes fool you when exploring here. Be strong of purpose, and clear of sight like the Ancient King Kull at Valusia – who knows, perhaps you will encounter remnants from his saga long thought passed from this world. Keep your god in your heart, and your sword in your hand exile – then, and only then, will you perhaps make it through this.
Though many of us were stripped of our possessions when we came here, we retained our roots – the ideas we were raised within our glorious homelands.
We are all generally familiar with the concept of the servant. The Hyborian nations are based on a feudal system with absolute monarchies. Most of the whole peasantry consists of serfs working hard for their lords and receiving little or nothing in return. This is not slavery, but it’s not far from it. This is also probably why many free farmers settled in the Westermarck on Pict territory to avoid serfdom and paying heavy taxes.
There is slavery in Koth, Ophir, Khoraja, and Khauran, due to the “cultural habits” of the local civilizations before their absorption by the Hyborian tribes. Koth, Ophir, and Corinthia existed before the Hyborian migrations and were subject states to the Acheron Empire. The Hyborian conquerors imposed their way on these nations but by absorbing the local inhabitants they couldn’t prevent “local habits”. That is why Mitra is not the only cult in Koth and Ophir. This is even truer in Khauran as the Hyborian only seized power but the local overwhelming population had other origins and worshipped other gods.
Slavery is a general fact in this age where the defeated often become subjects of the winners – hence the saying: “Woe to the vanquished!”. As mentioned, it is a generality in the southern nations (beginning with the line Shem-Turan).
As for Zamora, I would say there is no slavery as such but the civilization there is so corrupt that people sell themselves for any jobs to rich nobles or merchants just in order to survive, be it to serve dishes or to sell their body. So a beautiful but poor person would rather sleep with a disgusting rich person in a palace in a bed with silk cushions than work in the dirty brothels of the Maul. But of course, this is the case everywhere. This is one of the reasons why Conan loathes the so-called civilized society (after all he is the living example of freedom and independence).
Glory to our Gods…
This world knows as many cults and religions as it knows
In any case, this world has bred few atheists, and even the most cynical of philosophers accepts the existence of greater beings, both good and evil, as a fundamental tenet of reality. Though the various individual gods are often worshipped within strict geographical boundaries, this age is thoroughly polytheistic, and it is a matter of course for nations to acknowledge the existence of rival deities to their own. The major exception to this rule is to be found among certain priests and adherents to the god Mitra who has declared their deity to be the one true God, deserving of unwavering, devotion.
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