|Languages:||Southlander Common, Alesian, Bahijan Patois|
|Ethnic Groups:||Humans, Other humanoids|
|Current Ruler:||Parliament of Merchant Princes|
Bahija is volcanic archipelago sitting on the edge of the warm ocean current flowing in from the Road of the World. Despite the extreme weather in the mid-southeastern storm zone, Bahija has a flourishing economy, guided by a senate of shrewd and quarrelsome merchant princes. It's one of several countries to openly practice slavery on a wide scale, using its dark-skinned indigenous population and people imported from Mwayambi, as chattel.
Politically, Bahija is a client state of the Alesian Imperium, allowed a great deal of leeway for the money brought in by its highly advanced and well-connected merchants. Bahijan traders can be found almost everywhere in the known world.
Bahijans were originally Tollorian colonists who settled the fertile islands. The white-skinned colonists ignored that the islands were inhabited by indigenous dark-skinned people. Many of the locals either retreated, hired themselves out to the newcomers or became their involuntary servants. During Tollor's troubles and eventual dissolution, Bahija's merchant class flexed its muscles and gained independence.
After some time, the island's native minority revolted, killing many white Bahijans and entering a prolonged struggle. Bahijans, with their ships, had eventually made contact with the Alesian Imperium, whom they called upon to assist. Alesian legionnaires helped pacify the islands. Slavery, already covering most of the islands, became even more firmly entrenched but the merchants ceded some political control to the Alesian governors, who moved there to oversee the Imperium's interests. Many governors, seduced by the balmy climate and easy corruption, are dead weights on Alesia's shoulders. Nonetheless, some minor regulations were put in place that left overly abusive masters without protection at the mercy of their slaves.
Bahijan merchants have attempted to infiltrate most ports in the world, including the Far East. An infamous company, Resque Maessen's, made contact with the Sword Daimyo of Nipangu, beginning to compete against the Berjeron empire in trading highly lucrative Far Eastern weapons and personal goods. The Bahijan merchant marine occasionally comes up against Berjeron, Pentlander and Seccan competition.
Bahija has one large island and many smaller ones. They each have long, local names but more frequently, use the names of the predominant landowners there. Much of Bahija is plantations for a wide array of cash and food crops that grows especially well in the volcanic soil and wet climate. The largest island has a still-active volcano that had not erupted for the past few centuries. Nonetheless, magma is occasionally visible through the caldera. There are multiple cities across the islands but they are all collectively known as "Bahija."
Bahija sits on the border of the warm tropical stream coming from the Road of the World. The clashing temperatures generates a powerful storm zone that continually batters the islands with hurricanes and typhoons. Volcanic and tectonic activity sometimes creates tidal surges that can wipe out coastal communities. Nonetheless, Bahijan cities are artisanal marvels that are designed as much to astound visually as to withstand rough weather.
The Bahijans have a kind-of parliament for democratic voting but there is only one body represented: the moneyed elite, many of whom are in the mercantile and trading business. There is a careful code of behavior and what is and isn't accepted in society, that's understood by most Bahijans of Quality. Failing to abide by etiquette may incur duels or the loss of guardly protection, which can be fatal in a land where almost everyone has a foe and ethnic hatreds run deep. In extreme cases, people have been thrown into the volcano for their malfeasance.
Bahijans are a flamboyant lot and the constant threat of death in the storm zone and from tropical venoms and diseases makes them more inclined to decorate than prolong their life. They love duels, lavish bordellos, high fashion and sharp experiences. Still, just as many enjoy the calmer pleasures of laying in a beach hammock, enjoying a minty drink. More rustic people may be into dancing, feasting, cock fights, etc. Bahijans may seem fatalistic but they are eager to get all of life's pleasures in today before an unknown death takes them tomorrow. This culture of reckless adventurousness helps explain the breadth of Bahijan exploration and mercantile ties.
Aristocrats are the owners of the largest plantations and shipping concerns. They're elected to the top tiers of the government. The gentry are small to mid-sized plantation owners, professionals, the civil service and the military. The yeomanry are the working farmers, fishermen and tradesman. The poor are often vagrants, who get rounded up and sent to involuntary workhouses and farms. Bahija is a bad place to be a vagabond.
Bahijan love of their country borders on obnoxious at times. There's a cultural custom to glorify the islands for being the fairest, the freest and the best. In reality, most of the opulence is built on the backs of dark-skinned slaves and the common poor and Bahija's vaunted social mobility is mostly smoke and mirrors. Only the luckiest and the most ruthless have been able to sample the archipelago's best.
Most Bahijans worship predominantly Ellurian Religion gods, especially the Triad of Gitaro, Ekki and Seviro. Since the Alesian intervention, there has been a degree of synthesis between the Ellurian and Alesian religions. Rynia, the Alesian goddess of luck and wealth, is by far the most widely worshipped and has been adopted as the Bahijans' patroness. Natives have some rituals that they do not share with the white colonists.
Bahija is one of several countries that fields an aerial cavalry (others being Griffon's Aerie, Elvendeep, Arangoth, Pentland and Zul Kiras.) Bahijan mounts are giant breeds of hummingbirds that evolved to feed from some of the enormous flowering trees in the Bahijan jungle. These mounts are capable of vertical takeoff and can be trained to charge, inflicting serious damage with their lance-like beaks. They are fed a diet of water infused with nectar or sugarcane.