Empire of Hacik

Against the protests of Her commanders
She bent and spread Her cloak upon the ground
On it placed the Hook, the Book, the Bottle
Then bade the children come and sit.
– From The Song of the Founding

Hook, book and bottle. Children of Hacik are taught to understand their home first through these three symbols, lent significance by the empire’s foundational myth. In this story, intrepid Haciki explorers arrive on the shores of an undiscovered, benighted continent. When native Moduins approach the landing party, the first Queen-Navarch, Lubertha Luxravit I, lays her cloak on the ground to display these offerings, meant to represent the greater gifts of order, knowledge and trade that Hacik will bring to Modui.

The reality of the founding is somewhat less illustrious. The first Haciki ships were originally part of the Endless Argosy, a seafaring empire with no terrestrial holdings. Rather, the Argosy was an enormous flotilla that would move from port to port around the far continent of Rhadam, trading, raiding or collecting protection fees as they went. While their enemies insisted they were nothing but jumped-up pirates, the Navarchs of the Argosy argued they acted no differently than land-dwelling kings who taxed and terrorized their own subjects.

During a tremendous storm, eight ships were separated from the Argosy and driven deep into the uncharted waters of the Aegyr Ocean. After months lost at sea, this small fleet found itself on the shores of a previously unknown continent. They established a colony, Queen’s Cloak, future capital of the Haciki Empire. Soon, they had made contact with the makniki fishing tribes that trawled the waters of the Greenmantle Gulf. These mouseborn helped the stranded humans survive their first few seasons in the unforgiving Moduin wilderness, and for decades the two populations lived in relative peace.

Knight of the Order of the Frigatebird. Credit: Jennifer Voigt

During this period, the settlers began to think of themselves less as citizens of the Endless Argosy, and more as something wholly independent. They named the area around Queen’s Cloak “Hacik,” and began referring to themselves as “Haciki.” They created a new calendar based on the date of their arrival, and named Lubertha Luxravit the first Queen-Navarch of their new society, installing a dynasty that continues to this day.

About a century after the founding, a sea route to Rhadam was established, which brought settlers pouring into the Haciki ports. As the human population grew, disputes over territory and the richest fishing grounds eventually led to outright conflict with the natives. Several makniki tribes banded together to fight the fledgling empire, and were soundly defeated.

Hacik’s victory in the so-called Whisker War began a hundred-year-long period known as the Great Expansion, in which imperial forces seized more and more territory from Moduin natives. This voracious and rapid spread was stopped only when the empire encroached on the Swaying Veld. A coalition of Vanni forces under the command of the Butcherbird, a legendary mabish general, broke the back of the Haciki military in a series of decisive battles, and they were forced to sue for peace.

Haciki Calendar

Ledvezan – January
Sivanabo – February
Ledpauza – March
Kisagost – April
Ikvatu – May
Zetva – June
Neznodan – July
Vetargost – August
Oblagost – September
Valcera – October
Gozba – November
Sevgost – December

Hacik today still dominates the continent south of the Heart. During the Great Expansion, many communities of Moduin natives were necessarily absorbed into the empire, and after several generations the citizenry is a cosmopolitan mix of beastborn, humans and mab. Governmental reforms in 417AF transformed the empire into a parliamentary monarchy by establishing the Komora, a diet of elected officials known as lawbinders. While the Komora holds a measure of administrative power, the Navarch is still recognized as the supreme authority in the empire.

Though Hacik has developed into its own distinct culture, its customs are rooted in those of the Endless Argosy. The Haciki pantheon of gods is influenced heavily by the constellations, the ocean and the weather, all phenomena of great importance to their seafaring progenitors. The Haciki navy is the pride of the empire, giving them a commercial and martial edge over the other Moduin powers. Hacik’s extensive trade agreements with various Rhadamanthan kingdoms across the Aegyr bring a steady flow of coin into the imperial coffers, while their fleets sweep virtually unchallenged along the continent’s eastern coast, from the Vanni port of Jinjinjad in the far north to the icy waves of the Ironshroud in the south.

On land, units of heavily armored knights form the backbone of the Haciki military. There are eight major chivalric orders, each named after one of the original ships to arrive on Modui’s shores: Gray Rose, Southerly Sons, Blue Meteor, Anchor’s Fall, Salt Mother, Frigatebird, Undaunted Merewif and Trident’s Thrust. Each of these orders is associated closely with one of the so-called “Proud Eight,” noble families that can trace their lineage back to the founding of Queen’s Cloak. While the prohibitive cost of securing armor and mount mean that the ranks of these orders are usually filled with the elite of Haciki society, there is a patronage system in which commoners can compete to be considered for knighthood, and recent decades have seen mab and beastborn knighted.