The Thaliban Tribes
The cities in this area became duchies as part of the Thaliban decentralization (842TH [309SA]). In the year 1020TH [487SA], they gained complete independence.
Twenty years later (1040TH [507SA]), the Duke of Alzira, maddened by his desire to recreate the Thaliban Empire under his leadership, was seduced into seeking power from Nilgeranthrib. Within two months after their bargain was struck, Nilgeranthrib ruled Alzira and the duke was a zombie. In the months that followed, Nilgeranthrib desecrated Alzira. More than 13,000 of its citizens fled or were sacrificed to Nergal. The remainder became servants of Chaos.
With Alzira in hand, Nilgeranthrib began a campaign of diplomacy and terror against the forest cities. When he was ready (1067 - 1070TH [534-537SA]), he moved against these cities and conquered them. During the next decade (1070 - 1082TH [537-549SA]), he welded them into a nation subjugated to his will.
Throughout this period of consolidation, the Society of Light interfered with Nilgeranthrib's plans. Finally (1082TH [549SA]), he tired of their interference and his armies, living and dead, marched on Thalib. For a full year, he besieged Thalib and used his mightiest magics to punish its defenses. (At one point, he breached an inner wall and endangered the city proper. No other force has ever succeeded in doing this.)
In the campaign of 1083TH [550SA], Thaliban agents gained the support of Zarun and the mountain cities, These forces struck Nilgeranthrib from the rear while the elite force of Thaliba, led by the Zarunese hero Melanius Zendar (the first bearer of Life Sword), fixed his host in a battle to the death. In the battles that followed, Nilgeranthrib was slain, his host was routed and the city of Alzira was completely destroyed. (Its entire population was killed or enslaved by the victors.)
For ninety years, the mountain cities ruled the forest and grew decadent from their wealth. In the west, Zarun became a nation. Elsewhere, Nilgeranthrib achieved human form and he was reborn. In the year 1172TH [639SA], he led legions of the dead against the mountains and the forest, slaying their people wherever he found them. The few who survived sought refuge in the wilds and began a barbarous fight for survival. To give permanence to their fate, Nilgeranthrib laid terrible curses on their cities and hunted them mercilessly for years.
Since Nilgeranthrib's victory, the descendants of these cities have become barbarians who fear cities and dread the power of Chaos. Their days as a civilized culture are a faint and terrible memory to them. To these people, the true name of the Devil is Nilgeranthrib.
The Thaliban tribes are the Batani (20,000), the Woumai (18,000), the Ursmai (17,000), the Tilini (14,000) and the Bumai (11,000). Their total population is 80,000 with 16,000 warriors.
A barter system operates in this area. The tribesmen shun money, a product of cities, as a cursed talisman of doom.
The tribes worship Law, especially forces committed to perpetual combat against Chaos. Their faith has degenerated into a shamanistic version of the original Thaliban faith.
Thaliban tribesmen are paranoid, defensive and hostile. They suspect all strangers, especially civilized people (who they believe to be cursed).
They have an aversion to cities and a virulent hatred of Chaos. Among their own, they are kind, generous and trusting. Outsiders who enter their land, civilized or not, are hunted down and killed. Only rarely, and then only for a good reason, will they make any exception to this rule.
NOTE - The Tilini allow people to travel through their land on the road. They sometimes demand food and drink from these travellers. Only rarely will they attack them. They will kill anyone whom they find off of the road. (The Thalibans give the Tilini a yearly tribute in trade goods to allow this small part of their territory to be defiled by the civilized. Otherwise, they would attack all travellers who enter their land.)
Clan war chiefs rule the tribes. Within the code that the tribes follow the chief's word is law for his clan. Only chiefs are allowed to read, and interpret, the ancient writings that make up the code. The position of war chief is hereditary.
Criminal punishments are meted our according to the code. Common punishments are fines, servitude, slavery and death. The penalty for a non - chief who is caught reading, or touching a volume of the code is:
A) The felon is nailed to a tree with nails driven through his hands, feet and stomach. (The stomach nail is driven such that it will take days to kill the felon.)
B) The felon is hooded and gagged. He is then left alone to be eaten by the creatures of the forest.
The forest tribes (the Tilini and Batani) are paid by Thaliba to allow travellers to pass on the road (the Tilini) and to prevent invaders from passing through the forest (the Batani and the Tilini). The mountain tribes have no allies.
Nilgeranthrib is the perpetual enemy. The Zen'da often fight these tribes. They consider these warriors to be honorable enemies who are well worth fighting.
Swords, Longbows and Polearms (usually Spears)
the Goths, southern France, northern Italian.
Most warriors fight in leather armor, carry a buckler and take two of the three favored weapons into battle. They dislike cumbersome armor and helmets because they are "civilized" evils. Their common wear is buckskin and soft leather.