So far this summer’s been a doozy, with its hot, dry spells; hot, humid spells; and cooler, soggy spells toward the fringes. We’re about buried in tomatoes, and have a truckload of pumpkins and other winter squash on the way. We’ve almost got our quota of hay in the barn, and I really do need to get out to weed the flowers. Those blasted wild morning glories are the worst. This afternoon we have yet another wedding to attend (and I believe that’s the last one for a while), but this morning I want to take some time and continue our tour of Phen. So far we’ve seen five of the regions that divide the country, the smallest, the largest, the strangest, the heartiest, and the trickiest. Today I’m going to show you around the wealthiest:
The region of Kollan sits at the northwesternmost corner of the country, bordered on the west by Ashelon, the south by Gadrei, and to the north and the west by the Black Mountains and the nation of Zedek. It’s fairly mountainous country, although not so much so as Gadrei or even Kedash, fertile in the valleys and rich in quarry-stone in the mountains. The moneymaker, though is trade. Merchants travel back and forth through mountain passes to the markets of Zedek, which is a neutral country bent rather on their own prosperity than the effort and expense of war with the people of Phen. Goods from all across the country are traded through Kollan merchant routs for rare, exotic, and other supplies that can’t be or aren’t grown or manufactured in-country, such as certain spices, fruits and vegetables, medicines, textiles, fine ink, jewelry and cosmetics, furs, etc. and etc.
However, the region is also well-known for the bloodrose briars that grow there. Think of a miltiflora and garden climbing rose hybrid, with large thorns and needle-tipped petals. They’re a beautiful flower, but invasive and difficult to manage. These blossoms are so famous that they’ve become a part of the Kollan identity and are featured on their Coat of Arms:
The Kollan branch of the Phennish Army is perhaps one of the most active of the military, for while they’re not at war these men serve as border patrol, keeping an eye on the porous margin between Kollan and its neighbor, as well as bodyguards for the merchant caravans that travel hither and to. Like Zuar, their weapon of choice is a spear, but that’s about where all similarities end. Their spears are shorter and heavier, with larger and more jagged heads. They train as much, if not more so, in single combat as they do in small party and larger phalanxes. The heft and length of their spears serves them in similar ways as a quarterstaff, aside from a stabbing weapon. Kollan warriors do not carry shields, reserving both hands for the maximum use of their spears. They do wear moderate body armor, although its design has evolved to defend primarily against ambushes through the mountain passes, featuring collars, spaulders, fixed tasset and culet lames, and plated gaiters.
The Kollan forces are popularly known as Bloodrose Briars, like the symbol of their standard. Their motto, Kurhiku nai Sueza, is actually an old proverb that goes along the lines of ‘lovely for the eyes, sharp blade in the hand’. Kollan is a prosperous region, a major trade route for all the finest goods and materials (at least in the country and nearby nations), a wellspring of fine art, fashion, and architecture. But while it looks pretty, and perhaps a prime place for other nations’ greedy hands, they are by no means undefended. This is something they themselves want to remember, as well as for their foreign neighbors to keep in mind ─ they are profitable, but they hold a sharp blade in their hand and are by no means hesitant to use it for the defense of their national borders as well as their homes and businesses. Roses are lovely, but mishandle them and you get pricked; that is the philosophy behind the proverb and the heart behind the motto.