The Kingdom of Naba'al is one of the Six Great Nations of Alter-Mana, occupying the south-east most portion of that world's Me'Diel continent. Naba'al was only unified just prior to the start of the War of Threes. Before that, the desert sub-continent that comprises the whole of Naba'al's territory was fragmented among several semi-nomadic tribes, and before that the region was dominated by a fundamentalist theocracy.
- Star of the Desert
Naba'al occupies the whole of the Scorching Desert, a bulging sub-continental mass at the southern tip of Me'Diel. The nation was unified a generation ago by the mighty Flamekhan, but still retains internal divisions into several smaller tribal states.
Map of Naba'al
Humans form the largest racial segment of Naba'al's population, followed by Nekos and Mallardans. All three races tend to mingle freely among the various Naba'alian tribes, though a few tribes enjoy pronounced racial biases (the Raiders, for example, are mostly human with a small number of Nekos, while the Flamelicks are all Mallardans).
The Naba'alians were long ago unified under a strict Elementalist theocracy based out of the city of Sultan. While the Sultanates are no longer in power, their legacy remains in the form of the orthodox elementalism traditionally practiced by the desert tribesmen of Naba'al. Several aspects of the local Naba'alian brand of the religion are not endorsed by the larger Wendelian Church, but the Naba'alian sect is nonetheless recognized.
Naba'al was one of the first nations of Alter-Mana to break out from under the Guardian aegis. They associated freely with the Esper Union, and even briefly retained a membership in SRAN. Those associations yielded lasting trade relationships and technology exchanges that helped to fuel a developing industrial economy.
In addition to trade with Guardia, Esper and various other former and current SRAN members, Naba'al engages in trade of the illicit kind on the Fringe and throughout the Core (by proxy of various distributors). The most valuable export of Naba'al is the narcotic agent Spice, which is produced in Naba'al. Naba'al's government does not officially have a hand in the Spice trade. Unofficially... they have a hand in the Spice trade!!
It is said that there are two kinds of Naba'alian law: Sultan's Law, and the Khan's Law.
Sultan's Law is religious law, handed down by the Sultanate theocrats in olden times, and in modern times by the self-appointed keepers of the orthodoxy that reside in Sultan's old temples.
The Khan's Law, in the other hand, is nominally a secular authority, handed down by the Khan of the Tribes who rules from the Raiders' Fortress of Naba'al. Presently, the Khan's law is dominant: the sitting Khan has absolute authority over the nation (ensuring Naba'al fit in well among the largely fascist membership of SRAN).
In addition to the Khan, there is an informal gathering of tribal chiefs that meets irregularly to deal with matters of importance to the state, but these chiefs are more like a caste of petty nobility than a true organ of government. True, absolute and final governmental authority rests with the Khan.
Most internal politics in Naba'al can be traced back to the rivalries that were had between the various desert tribes: blood feuds that may never reach anything resembling a resolution. There are dozens of tribes scattered throughout the Scorching Desert, most of them small close-knit kin groups that revolve around one or several larger tribes. There are eight major tribes, however, that have significant influence on the politics of the nation:
- The Flamelicks: This fierce all-Mallardan tribe lairs in the Valley of Flames, and the foothills of the Flaming Mountains beyond. They pride themselves on their racial purity, being not only 100% pure Mallardan, but also refusing to mix or mingle with Mallardans from other tribes. Generations of ritual incest has taken its toll on the Flamelicks -- they are, by and large, not the brightest suns in the sky, and their birth rate is plagued by numerous defects and stillbirths. That said, the Flamelicks have historically been among the most ferocious warriors in Naba'al.
- The Sunbrothers: The traditional enemies of the Flamelicks, and sometimes allies of the Scorchers. Where the Flamelicks pride themselves on racial purity, the Sunbrothers are strong advocates of racial tolerance and diversity: their tribe boasts a nearly even mixture of races native to Naba'al, and is the only major tribe that is willing to initiate foreigners into their ranks. Their main outpost is the Sunbrother Stand, due south from the fortress of Naba'al. The Sunbrothers were one of the first tribes to be won over into Flamekhan's tribal union, which established the Naba'alian nation.
- The Sandriders: This tribe produces some of the best horsemen and chocobo riders in the entire Web of Worlds. The Sandrider cavalry has been nearly unbeatable in the history of tribal warfare in the Scorching Desert, but conquest is not the Sandrider way. The Sandriders instead tend to their herds of gray oxen, which they drive from their Sandrider Outpost in the high desert down to the oasis city of Deen, and then back again. The battles they have fought (and mostly won) have been incidental to the calling of tending their herds: Sandriders fight to protect their animals, to protect their families, and to protect their territory.
- The Scorchers: One of the only tribes that boasts a minority population of humans. The Scorchers dominate the southern reaches of Naba'al's desert valley, from their walled city of Scorch Run, a trek south from (but still within reasonable travel of) the oasis of Deen. The Scorchers have a long and bloody history of violence with the Flamelicks, and are sometimes allies of the Sunbrothers. The tribe was founded by Neko merchants, and its founding members (mostly Neko and Mallardan mercenaries) were the protective entourages of the tribe's travelling traders. To this day trade remains the focus of the Scorcher tribe; apart from the Flamelicks, the Scorchers have historically maintained friendly relations with most of the other major tribes. The Scorchers have a history of alliance and association with the Luon Federation's Neko Merchant's Guild.
- The Sons of Scorpid: This tribe broke away from the Raiders several generations ago, lead by a ninja named Scorpid who had tried (and failed) to usurp his tribe's chieftainship. An ad-hoc (and ultimately ill-fated) alliance between the Sons of Scorpid and the Flamelicks was the last obstacle that Flamekhan faced in his quest to unify the tribes under the nation of Naba'al. The Sons of Scorpid blame the Raiders' ultimate victory on the failures of the Flamelicks, and so the Scorpids now count themselves among the Flamelicks' many, many enemies.
- The Bulette Masters: This tribe derives their name from the small saurian lizards that they have trained as war mounts. Confrontations between the Bulette Masters and the Sandriders were common in olden times, especially when the Sandrider drovers would arrive at Deen's watering holes while the Bulette Masters were there to water their mounts. Clashes were often biased in favor of the swifted Sandriders, though the Bulette Masters were hard opponents to defeat decisively.
- Noonburn-Crawl: This tribe is actually the result of several smaller tribes joining together for mutual protection from the Sandriders (whose herd migration path cut through several smaller tribes' territory). The tribe takes its name from the two largest tribes in the mix: the Noonburns and the Crawlers.
- The Raiders: The largest and most powerful tribe in the desert, the Raiders of Naba'al are now dominant. Under the rule of Flamekhan, the Raiders unified the major tribes, and from that union forged the nation that he named after his tribe's immense fortress-city.
Naba'al is closest with the Kingdom of Laurent, and Khan-mandated reforms of the orthodoxy in Sultan have garnered much favor for the Khan in the Holy City of Wendel. Since the New Wraith Incident, these three nations (Naba'al, Laurent and Wendel) appear to be moving closer and closer to what some speculate will eventually be a unification.
Naba'al is one of the only nations in Alter-Mana to field a modern military navy -- the result of Naba'al's ties with the Esperians. Naba'al also fields an impressive land army, airforce and space fleet that synthesizes Guardian and Esperian technological elements. The Naba'alian space fleet is decidedly more low-key than the Forthenan Grand Fleet -- this is because most of Naba'al's fleet is currently tasked with shipping or protecting shipments of Spice to other destinations in the Web.
The nation known as Naba'al is only as old as the War of Threes. Prior to that, for most of the desert's history, the land and people have been fragmented into semi-nomadic tribes. Local legend holds that the land was not always a desert; rather, it was made a desert as a punishment handed down by Zea, the Fire God, for some insult or transgression long since forgotten. Feeling pity for the people who remained in the desert, the elemental Daorid caused living patches of green plants and water to spring from the burning sands -- the oases, of which the city of Deen is the largest.
The first great civilization to rise out of the Scorching Desert was the theocracy of Sultan. The Sultanates were lead by a Praetor of the Church of Wendel, Evanster, who was excommunicated for his radical and somewhat extreme ideas about the interpretation of holy mana scripture. Following his banishment from Wendel, Evanster fled southeast into one of the church's more remote and disparate synods and settled in the city of Sultan. He amassed a large following there, and in a couple years his sect had enough support and power to overthrow the local government, putting an entire city-state into the hands of Evanster's naiscent theocracy.
With Sultan under his control, Evanster and his sect spread their message to Deen, the hub of the greater desert. One by one, the cities of the desert were bent to the will of the Sultanate sect and forced to live under Sultan's Law. After a scant ten years of rule, Evanster died under suspicious circumstances; his successor, Vioise, insisted that the Wendelians must have assassinated him because they feared his growing popularity, but there is evidence that suggests Vioise and several of Evanster's underlings conspired to kill him so that they could take over.
Whatever happened to Evanster, his successors slowly desroyed what he'd built through mismanagement. Eventually the tribesmen of the greater desert rebelled against Sultanate authority. Vioise and his retainers were captured by one of the tribes, Sultan was sacked and left in ruins, and the rule of Sultan's Law shattered. Tribal rule returned to Naba'al.
Tribal rule would last until the year 23 WR, when the chieftain of the Naba'al Raiders, Flamekhan, began in earnest a quest to unite the tribes into a single nation. By that time Naba'al, the most well-defended of the tribal outposts that dotted the desert landscape, had positioned itself as a peace broker and neutral arbiter in the disputes between the tribes. Flamekhan, sensing that there was greater potential to be had from controlling the greater desert as a whole, began to use his influence with the other chiefs to forge a tribal union. By 24 WR, most of the tribes had joined Flamekhan, but there were two that resisted: the xenophobic Flamelicks, and the Sons of Scorpid (who were formed long ago by breaking away from the Naba'al Raiders, and opposed the Raiders out of sheer principle).
A short-lived battle was joined then, between Flamekhan's tribal union and the Flamelicks and the Scorpids. If the Scorpids and Flamelicks had been able to work together more effectively, they might have had the power to crush Flamekhan's dream of nationhood: both tribes fielded some of the most powerful warriors in the desert, and the tribes' chieftains (Maimsoul of the Flamelicks, and Tityus of the Sons of Scorpid) were both incredibly capable military commanders. However, in the end the ultimate incompatibility between the two tribes spelled doom for their alliance: neither had the intention of honoring the other once Flamekhan was defeated, and so Flamekhan was able to turn his enemies against each other and ultimately prevail.
The War of Threes
With his new bride Isabella at his side, Flamekhan launched the nation of Naba'al into the War of Threes by announcing plans to invade and conquer the Kingdom of Laurent. He was vocally opposed by his own son from another marriage, Eagle Flamekhan, together with his friend Hawkeye Navarre and several other prominent members of the Raider tribe. Eagle would not long after turn up dead, and Hawkeye was blamed for the murder. Driven out of Naba'al, Hawkeye would eventually join up with the Six Heroes to oppose the major aggressors in the war.
After conquering Laurent, Naba'al's forces entered the Mana Pureland, where they encountered the forces of the Beast Kingdom and Altena, and a massive three-way fight followed. After the Battle of the Purelands, Bigieu's hold on Naba'al was broken, and Flamekhan (under "Isabella"'s thrall) was rendered comatose and eventually died. For the rest of the war, Naba'al joined the Alliance in fighting against the Three Evils, but without Flamekhan to lead the tribal union, the nation's future remained uncertain.
Following the War, Hawkeye returned to his homeland as a man of no tribe. He pressed his claim on the city of Naba'al himself, and appealed to other tribes (especially the Sons of Scorpid) for support. The Scorpids, who identified with Hawkeye as an outcast Raider, were the first to suggest that Hawkeye take the title of "Khan."
Meeting in secret with the remaining leaders of the Raider tribe, it was agreed that Hawkeye's fame as one of the Heroes of the war would make him an ideal candidate to succeed Flamekhan as ruler. But because of the very visible support of the Sons of Scorpid, it would not be politically prudent for the Raiders to look too enthusiastic about taking Hawkeye back into the fold. It was agreed that Hawkeye would take the title of Khan and rule by right of a political marriage to Flamekhan's sole remaining family member, his daughter Jessica, with whom Hawkeye had been romantically involved with prior to his exile. While this arrangement was ideal for Hawkeye politically, it proved something of a conundrum for him, since in the course of the War he had started a relationship with his fellow hero and heiress of Laurent, Reisz Rolante.
As Khan, Hawkeye entered Naba'al into the Forthena Alliance, and followed Forthena's lead in allying strongly with the Guardians and the Gate Three. As time went on, Hawkeye became the first to resent Duran Ferrant's strong ties to Guardia, and resented Guardia's domination of the Fringe in general. Against the insistence of Duran, Hawkeye entered Naba'al into the Sky Riders Aerospace Navy, and formed a close alliance with the Esper Union. Naba'al forged for itself a path to economic independence by facilitating the Spice trade, quickly becoming one of the wealthiest nations on the Fringe.
During the New Wraith incident, Naba'al became the scene of a final battle between the New Wraith, and everybody who was against the New Wraith. Several towns were destroyed in the fighting, and Naba'al itself received little to no aid for reconstruction once the war was over. This lead to a straining of relations between Naba'al and the Esper Union (which had been one of the major participants in the conflict with the New Wraith), and following the conflict Hawkeye's falling out with Esperian leadership lead to a hiatus in the two nations' alliance. Later, when Gate was sealed by Rajaat during the Cleansing Wars, the GATO pact withered away. Forthena attempted to keep the alliance alive by establishing a United Fringe Nations pact, but Naba'al and several of the Merge states refused to support the new alliance. Similarly, Naba'al pulled itself out of the Sky Riders, resulting in a new Fringe with fewer ties to the Core and much more technology and independence.
Next to Forthena, Naba'al now stands as one of the most technologically-empowered and militarily significant powers in Alter-Mana, and ranks with Forthena, the Merge League and the Alter-Dragonian Combine as one of the four powers of the Fringe.