Thesta: An Heir Denied
A vast hinterland, the land of Ale-Alatau are inhabited by the Balwandar, which in their language means “crusading warriors.” Ancient when the Eradin Empire was formed, the Balwandar inhabit the swamps, forest and mountains of Ale-Alatau. They still venerate long-dead gods whose old cry of conquest still resonates, and Balwandari culture is primarily concerned with fighting and warfare.
Tribal by nature, the Balwandar seem human, save for a reddish tint to their skin and their strange quickness. They follow a complicated code of honour, gaining it through ritualized conflict, personal struggle, and warfare. Those who have acquired much honour becomes war leaders, band chiefs, and eventually can command whole tribal groups. The most honourable individuals lead conquests out of Ale-Alatau, clashing with the Eradin Empire, the Rhoan Dynasty, and more recently, with Taymyr. The Balwandar have waxed and waned over the centuries but have never achieved their divine mandate of conquest, and have often retreated into the impenetrable forests and swamps to rebuild and grow strong again.
Today, the Balwandar struggle to face the growing threat of raiders on their southern shores. Well-guarded mines, timber mills and colonies have sprung up on the coastline, while raiding parties strike at Balwandari villages and carry off the young to act as slaves. Despite their inability to deal with this threat, the Balwandari have grown strong since the fall of Rhoan. They engage in constant, devastating warfare with Taymyr, with seasonal strikes crossing the border. Though the Balwandar are poor metalworkers and prefer to fight one on one rather than in groups, their numbers, cunning mastery of terrain, personal courage and chaotic magic make them a foe to be reckoned with.