Yanbuka is an empire in Oborsurea ruled by the Kaniyari mage Naskaran. It is the strongest of the surviving Askamaran territories, famed for both its wealth and its army. Several Kaniyari from other courts have granted their allegiance to Naskaran, and they often visit his imperial capital at Nenushka.
Yanbuka is a diverse land, ranging from mountainous rainforests to savannah. One of its greatest challenges has been forging a sense of cultural unity among its people, who include Yan, Eskei, Thabaru and Quali, along with immigrants from neighboring kingdoms and more distant Ankaykari territories. Unrest is common in the poorer southern provinces.
Yanbuka’s exports include gold, weapons, cotton, precious hardwoods, sugar, coffee, cocoa beans and palm oil. However, drought is a frequent problem, and the Yanbukans often import grain and timber from Arunisa – a northern Askamaran territory to which they are allied.
Their greatest enemies down the ages have been the Abokonans, Kahuburi, Hadachi and Sakruans. Since the Gabakaruan empire broke free of Askamar and started colonizing the Ishkebuan coast, it has also become a threat.
The Yanbukan empire encircles an inland sea known as Chasuwa. Great cities such as Kahunaske, Kuara and the imperial capital Nenushka stand along its shores. Beyond these are fields of millet and rice, meandering rivers and the vast sunlit plains where herds of antelope roam. Countless trading vessels sail Chasuwa’s waters, bearing cargoes of gold, diamonds, cotton cloth, cocoa, ebony and palm oil.
Yanbuka’s oldest heartlands lie to the east, in the rocky stretch of land between Chasuwa and the Ishkebuan sea. It is here that the former capital Habaskoe stands, along with the Gateway of Yathure which leads to Burshnar. To the north of this region lie dense rainforests and mountains, while to the south are low hills, scrubland and savannah.
Aruske and Taphiske are the most heavily populated provinces. The people here cultivate rice, sweet potatoes and beans, as well as luxury crops such as cocoa and coffee. Further south are the great plains of Ekusha, famed for their horses and cattle – and also for being home to the Tayukakur fire-dragons. West of Ekusha is Kuarake, a province that produces rice, salt and beautiful glassware. At the fringe of the empire is Gabuwesu, a land of forests and mountains once ruled by Lady Liralian.
Since 1434 Yanbuka has been ruled by the Emperor Naskaran, who governs on behalf of his immortal sire, Lord Naskremari of Burshnar. He is supported by the mages of Tatheya Yathure (the imperial battle-mages), Tatheya Korbure (who specialize in scrying and portaling), Tatheya Namarua (who are healers) and Tatheya Skaranere (an ancient Ekushan order of battle-mages and healers).
The empire is divided into ten duchies, which are further divided into baronies. By tradition, each duchy is either held by the emperor himself or is granted to a lord from one of the noble Yan bloodlines – the Bayansar, Dransar, Mahsar, Khanosar, Etosar, Sorohsa or Skasksar. This is a cause of resentment among the commoners, most of whom are not Yan.
Naskaran, who has no Yan blood himself, has tried to reduce this unrest by allowing others aside from the Yan to serve on his Council. He is opposed in this by House Bayansar, which holds the duchies of Aruba and Sobaru, and is the most powerful family in the empire. He also remains wary of House Sorohsa, which was the ruling dynasty before he assumed power.
When foreigners speak of ‘Yanbukans’, they are usually thinking of the Yan – the ruling elite. Other peoples of the empire include the Eskei (from Aruske and Taphiske), the Thabaru (who used to rule Gabuwesu and share close ties with the Elo-Olashans), the Quali (from Kuarake), Ekushan tribes such as the Xekbansa, Rokabu and Tauduka, and the largely-immigrant population of Sangrabor.
Yanbukans are seen as stalwart warriors, courteous hosts and pitiless enemies. They are said to hold liars and traitors in contempt, and to be willing to fight to the death for their rulers. However, the empire is very culturally diverse; in the north, only the Yan see themselves as warriors.
The Yan value inner strength and integrity. They believe that it is better to die than to compromise one’s values. While the Yan endeavor to honor their ancestors and bring glory to their family, they feel that their first loyalty must be to their emperor. The sages say that a man who seeks personal glory should be regarded with disdain, for he has no concept of honor.
Despite this, the Yan love to hear songs about legendary heroes. Bards are held in high esteem, and are often seen travelling between villages or staying in the castles of noblemen. Both men and women can become bards, although female bards – like the ladies of noble houses – are often accompanied on their journeys by a pair of Habasari warrior-maidens who act as body-guards.
The founders of the Yanbukan empire were originally an Ekushan tribe called the Yanbu, who migrated north-east from the Dakurashan highlands. When their settlement of Ghaboken was threatened by the Taphisken empire, they fled into the Benakayu mountains. There they rediscovered the legendary Gateway, passed into Burshnar and pledged their allegiance to the immortal Lord Naskremari.
At that time Naskremari ruled over the magical realm as Sovereign of Janzaris. His forces helped the Yanbukan warlord Xashakaro to win the allegiance of the Aruskens and to drive back the Taphisken ‘upstarts’. Xashakaro married an Arusken princess and chose the city of Habaskoe as his stronghold, as it was from here that the ancient Jurian emperors had once ruled.
In 21 EA, Xashakaro conquered the Taphisken imperial city of Kahunaske. His son Jebomaro Tan Yaske later used Taphisken war-galleys to invade Quasakeo, whose king Hanqua had dared mock his loyalty to the Ankaykari. By 84 EA, that land had also been absorbed into the empire.
Yanbuka suffered a blow when its Ankaykari patron was overthrown as Sovereign in 95 EA. Although Lord Naskremari remained concerned for the fate of his empire, he was too caught up in his own struggles to give much assistance to the Royal House of Tan Yaske – and its enemies knew it.
During the years of strife that followed, the Yanbukans were grudgingly aided by Gabuwesu, a mountain-kingdom whose people served Naskremari’s Esu vassal Liralian. Throughout the 2nd century EA, the empire weathered revolts in Quasakeo and Taphiske. Abokowan warlords raided the western farmlands, while Hadachi pirates plundered the eastern fishing villages, carrying people off as slaves.
In the end, the Tan Yaske dynasty managed to hold the empire together. They strengthened their ties with Gabuwesu through marriage-alliances and built strong fortifications around their borders, some of which have survived into modern times. Their reign finally came to an end in 257 EA, when Emperor Hakora died childless and passed the throne to his great general, Tokabo Sanyo Takun.
In 488 EA the mighty Kahuburi empire allied with Hadacha and launched an invasion of Yanbuka. Habaskoe was looted and burned, Emperor Tayashon was slain in battle, and the imperial court was forced to flee inland. The Ankaykari flew into a screaming rage when they heard the news, but the Yanbukans rallied around Tayashon’s second son, Prince Kekansh; with Xessuralen’s help, they successfully vanquished the invaders.
The next great conflict between Yanbuka and Kahubur occurred in the 6th century, after Kahubur had fallen under the power of Naskremari’s Ankaykari rival Daskesurul.
It was Lord Daskesurul’s ambition to conquer Namiva – a kingdom allied with Naskremari’s Esu vassal Tassedehami – and extend the Kahuburi empire all the way to the Elurissan sea. Naskremari thwarted him by portaling an army north under the leadership of Lord Mabbaro Son Akuru. Further wars followed, ending only when Kahubur’s provinces rose in revolt against their Ankaykari overlord.
In 610 EA, the Yanbukan empire turned its attention west, launching an unprovoked attack against its erstwhile ally Gabuwesu. Their reasons were rooted in Askamaran politics – Naskremari wished to punish his former vassal Liralian, and to impress Ruzenathra, whose allegiance he hoped to gain.
The mountain-people fought long and hard, but their crown city was conquered in 624 EA; by 705 the last vestiges of resistance had been crushed.
Yanbuka’s next war of conquest was against Ekusha, the ancient homeland of the Yanbu people. The Ekushan High King Jaskurbor and his sons were killed in battle, the yuyarni of the Dakurashan mountains were subdued, and the last free city-state of the coast, Yanbor, fell in 782 EA. After this, Naskremari declared that his rule extended far enough; any further conquests would only weaken Yanbuka.
The empire became involved in several other conflicts over the centuries – most notably during the Sovereignty of Shekruvaris, when its men were sent to fight in Gabakarua and Tuyaz-Oa – but its own borders remained secure until 1382, when it was invaded by the Sakruan empire.
Armed with the hand cannons that they had been granted by Zakrusepi’s court, the Sakruans swarmed across Yanbuka’s southern border. Quasakeo was conquered, the Ekushan dukes surrendered and even the Gateway of Yanthure fell into Sakruan hands. Emperor Tokoron Yonu Ta withdrew to Kahunaske, where he finally halted the Sakruan onslaught with fire-arms of his own.
In 1434, the aging Emperor Tokoron granted his throne to Naskaran, the Kaniyari son of Lord Naskremari and the Aumoreyan princess Rasayna. Magic was pitted against gunpowder as Naskaran and his siblings clashed with the Sakruans, driving them back beyond Ekusha. The Sakruan emperor appealed to Zakrusepi for help, and rejoiced when they learned that he had captured Naskremari in battle.
Naskremari’s brood continued to hold out, however. Naskaran regained the loyalty of the Ekushans, then pressed south, determined to liberate his mother’s homeland from the Sakruan tyrants.
The Sakruan empire collapsed in 1471, and Lord Naskremari was rescued in 1518. Since then Naskaran has govern Yanbuka on his father’s behalf, defending the empire’s borders and maintaining treaties with the surrounding lands.