Thesta: An Heir Denied
When the Rhoan Dynasty fell, Kentau was an inconsequential province inhabited by about 50 landholding families. These families acquired serf workers for their large plantations, producing various agricultural goods (mainly wines and olives) for export further south. Although the collapse of the dynasty brought some immigration, Kentau remained mainly a backwater for the next half-century.
That changed when Akim Aleksandrov, last son of a moderately wealthy landholding family, was paid by his father to leave the line of succession to avoid splitting their lands. Akim purchased a ship and hired a crew and set out north, seeking fortune. He found it on the shores of Ale-Alatau, where his ship allowed him to set sail rather than risk fighting the native Balwandar. He returned to Kentau with a hold full of fine pelts. He immediately set sail again; this time returning with a hold full of Balwandar slaves. A third voyage discovered a rich vein of gold.
Thirty years had passed by the time others began to mimic Akim’s success. Numerous ships now ply the waters between Kentau and Ale-Alatau, bringing back gold, ores, timber, pelts and the occasional boatload of slaves. The native Balwandar eventually became wise to the raiding southmen, but naval superiority allows raiders out of Kentau to, for the most part, avoid conflict. There is still considerable danger in seeking a fortune on the shores of Ale-Alatau and numerous ships have set out but never returned.
Today, Kentau is ruled by a council of prominent families, though there is significant conflict between the traditional landowners, led by the Sokoloff family, and newly wealthy traders, led by Akim’s grandaughter Elena, a forceful young woman. Worked by significant numbers of slaves, the estates of Kentau are now finely developed, though they consume much of what they produce. Most activity is centred on the city of Tabak, a lively boomtown of 15,000. Kentau has little in the way of military forces, though the island maintains a navy to keep a wary eye out for pirates. Kentau is a mix between the aristocratic traditions of old and the ambitious vibrancy of new money.