A famed Ondilese poet, Katt the Younger, once said of Koeth that it was a “cultural fortress” and that the Koethans themselves were “grim-faced defenders, manning walls built of equal parts suspicion and superstition”.
Whether Katt was banned from Koethe because of his scathing, public commentry or due to some prior offense committed during his travels is up for debate (after all, the man was once famously quoted as stating that “the wildest women to bed are the ones the Brotherhood have locked away in that mountain Stronghold of theirs.”), but that opinion is certainly not his alone.
Many merchants, on travelling that harsh countryside, hemmed in by the spines of ancient mountain ranges, buffetted by chill winds that seem to find passage through even the thickest furs and granted only grudging hospitality by the dour, weathered inhabitants of the isolated towns that cling like scraggy mountain goats to the steep mountainsides, have wondered aloud as to whether the trip was worth making at all. If it weren’t for the quality of Koethan ore and the skill of their metalsmiths, trade with the mountain nation might dry up completely. Though whether this would really bother Koeth’s citizens is anyone’s guess, independence and endurance being points of national pride in Koeth.
Though it would be easy to claim that the legendary Koethan dislike of outsiders is simply a result of it’s largely Venthir population, a race well known for it’s sour tempers and sullen disposition, in truth the attitude of Koeth’s citizenry is a direct result of it’s history, a history which has oft seen it under siege from hostile forces, both within and without, all the way back to the days when they guarded their borders against the supernatural might of the Imarathi God-Sorcerers. Such a history, as well as the sheer hostility of the Koethan landscape, have shaped a people as unyielding and enduring as the mountains they inhabit.
We in Athar might see Koeth as a hostile neighbor, one given to attacking peaceful border towns, especially given the assault during the recent war. But it should be remembered that before King Thengyn began to covet Koeth’s lucrative mines and decided to take them by force, the relationship between Athar and Koeth was cordial, if not particularly friendly. Five invasion attempts over the course of Thengyn’s thirty five year reign put an end to that civility. While the Queen has since made attempts to reopen diplomatic channels with the Dhogun Council, all such attempts have been rebuffed and the recent assault on Athar’s northern borders have made it clear that peaceful co-existence with Koeth is, as things currently stand, wishful thinking.
But this situation could change in the near future. The internal political structure of Koeth is an unusual one, and somewhat precarious. Rooted in ancient tribalism, power and territory in Koeth is divided equally amoungst the five Dhoguns, the hereditary Lords of Koeth’s ancient warrior clans. Each holds a seat on the Dhogun council and, once every three years, a new leader is elected, the so-called Dhoshaar. While the Dhoguns could, if sufficiently united, oppose the will of the Dhoshaar, without that co-operation his will is as law. It has been over two years since last the Council met to choose a leader and the hope in the Atharan court is that a new Dhoshaar will be chosen, one more favourable to peaceful overtures than the current Dhoshaar, Ghand.
This hope is a somewhat blind one however. Without diplomatic ties it is hard to gauge the political situation in Koeth, given how difficult it is for outsiders to gain access to the inner circles of power. Especially in recent times, Koethan internal security has tightened considerably since the assault on and subsequent withdrawl from Athar’s northern border. Reports indicate that the Brotherhood has increased their presence on the Koethan borders and indeed throughout the nation, whether they are guarding against magical assault or readying to launch one is unknown. Regardless, Athar’s military commanders watch the border with extreme wariness and military forces remain in a state of constant readiness.