anotaqua was an empire ruled by Lady Mormariul. Like the Janakezans, its people worshipped the sun god Hazarakan. Most of the nobility had Katyathi ancestry, and they often married princesses from Janakeza or the Gahuzan island-kingdoms. They were proud warriors, skilled at archery and fighting from horseback. Their greatest foes were the Ukuzechans, the Naoskiuns, and later the Tuyaz-Oans.
During the Truce of Elanthar, Vanotaqua’s immortal ruler descended into madness, and it became known as a land of tyranny. Mormariul claimed to respect the wishes of her people, but in truth she allowed the nobility to own slaves, oppress the peasants and feud among themselves. Hunting was their favored pastime, and many ventured into Askamar in search of fearsome beasts to slay.
The other Ankaykari regarded Mormariul’s regime with horror, yet they could not decide how to restore justice to Vanotaqua. Most argued that she should be imprisoned, but some feared this would lead to rebellion, anarchy and even greater suffering in her empire.
The Vanotaquan Empire
The early Vanotaquans dwelled between the Ramoro and Kaquado rivers. Their kingdom was conquered more than once by Katyathi warlords who swept in from the east, but the reigns of the invaders did not last.
Over time, the Vanotaquans built up a fleet and founded trading enclaves across the Gahuzan Archipelago, where they clashed with Ukuzechans. Their greatest champion during this era was Kendara, who saved the island-kingdom of Raxiaquah and became a legend.
Vanotaqua’s conflict with Ukuzecha became more intense, as both empires sought to control trade in the Gahuzan islands. Daskesurul was determined to rule Rayak-Anya, and Mormariul knew that her coastal cities would be vulnerable if the island fell under his power.
The war against Ukuzecha culminated in a great naval battle that was won by Prince Garellazal Oquathal. Garellazal’s ship was sunk off the coast of Rayak-Anya by Carashanza, but his body was brought back to Karuxian, where it rests in a marble tomb.
Although Daskesurul had failed to defeat Mormariul in Udaris, he finally stormed her Citadel in Askamar and imprisoned her in his dungeons. Vassal-Emperor Tanadeyel Oquathal felt he had no choice but to give his allegiance to the victorious Esu lord. No one could have known that Carashanza would turn against her ruler and free Mormariul, who killed Tanadeyel and dozens of others when she discovered how they had ‘betrayed’ her.
Vanotaqua descended into chaos after the fall of the Oquathal dynasty, for Mormariul could not decide between the various rival claimants to the throne. She finally restored order with the help of a foreign wizard-king called Hakenar Vakagia, with whom she fell in love. She granted Hakenar great power, but he betrayed her, seized her Anengharen and declared himself emperor.
For the next several decades Hakenar ruled as a tyrant, aided by his Garakian countrymen and treacherous Vanotaquans such as Lord Voratham. He discarded the laws of Nenathal, allowed slavery and tried to impose the worship of the northern gods upon Vanotaqua. It was during his reign that Yon Adra and the former Naosakiun province of Na Kuk’ag were conquered.
The wizard Thayaxa rebelled against Hakenar, but it was a Vanotaquan lord called Jaxaim who rescued Mormariul. She inflicted a hideous death on the man who had enslaved her, and she promised herself that she would never be that weak or foolish again.
Over the next few centuries, Mormariul sought to strengthen Vanotaqua through conquest. She was desperate to regain the support of her people and prove she was a worthy ruler, but she remained wary of humans and anxious to win their loyalty.
Following the advice of her vassal-emperors, she awarded more ‘freedom’ to her favored servants, allowing them to increase their own wealth and power at the expense of the peasants. Carashanza said her lands were corrupt, but she insisted that she had more respect for the wishes of her subjects than others.
Mormariul ‘s decision to defend Tan Anguha from Liralian’s Tuyaz-Oan empire resulted in a lengthy war that left many of the Gahuzan island-kingdoms devastated. Their cities were plundered and their people enslaved, but Mormariul no longer cared.
By now the name of Vanotaqua was feared across the region. The other Esu were appalled by the rumors of the evils of Vanotaquan society, and Liralian sought to have Mormariul cast into Garashent for breaking the Treaty of Nenathal. However, Takanepi opposed her, saying that imprisoning Vanotaqua’s Ankaykari ruler would only allow mortal despots to seize power.