Tear is one of the most powerful of the modern nations, a large kingdom on the far south-eastern coast of the Westlands. It is unusual in being the only nation of the modern era not ruled by a monarchy. It is also a nation famed in prophecy, for it is said that the first sign of the coming of the Dragon Reborn will be the fall of the great Stone of Tear to his armies.
The history of Tear began during the Breaking of the World, when Aes Sedai aware of the Foretelling of the Dragon Reborn used the One Power to create the Stone of Tear. Not as tall as the White Tower but probably greater in volume, the Stone is a huge mountain of stone, riddled with galleries and chambers. In the Heart of the Stone the Aes Sedai secreted Callandor, the Sword That Is Not a Sword, one of the most powerful sa’angreal ever created, and wove around it wards so that none but the Dragon Reborn could touch it.
The Stone became a bulwark during the latter part of the Breaking, people flocking to the protection it offered. A great city took shape around it, also called Tear. As the Breaking ended and new nations arose, the mighty kingdom of Essenia was founded with its capital at Aren Mador (modern Far Madding) to the north-west. Alone among what would become known as the Ten Nations, Essenia was ruled by a council of nobles rather than a single king or queen. Tear joined the burgeoning nation, becoming its largest and most famous city, but not its capital. In 209 AB First Lord Cristol of Essenia brought the nation into the Covenant of the Ten Nations.
During the Trolloc Wars, armies of Shadowspawn penetrated as far south as Essenia, but were unable to take either Aren Mador on its heavily-fortified island, or Tear, defended by the Stone. Essenia survived the conflict but collapsed in its aftermath. The city of Tear became the capital of a new kingdom, Moreina. Relatively little is known of Moreina, save that it was a monarchy and a High Governor who was given responsibility for the Stone of Tear.
In late FY 942, during the War of the Second Dragon, Moreina was invaded by the armies of the false Dragon Guaire Amalasan. His armies overran much of Moreina and besieged the city of Tear, but were unable to breach the Stone. More than thirty Aes Sedai had journeyed from Tar Valon to bolster the city’s defences and prevent the Stone falling to Amalasan. Amalasan, frustrated by the deadlock, led his armies north instead into Talmour and Khodomar, where fate delivered him to Jolvaine Pass just as an army led by the young King Artur Paendrag Tanreall was crossing, resulting in Amalasan’s defeat, capture and gentling and Hawkwing’s rise to power.
A few years later, as the armies of the Westlands marched against Artur “Hawkwing” only to be defeated one after the other, the nation of Moreina chose willingly to ally with Hawkwing and become part of his growing empire. The armies of Moreina bolstered Hawkwing’s own and contributed to his conquest of the continent.
Late in Hawkwing’s reign, the city of Tear was chosen as one of the places where a great fleet was to be assembled and prepared for an assault on Shara, the mysterious land beyond the Aiel Waste. The invasion was launched in FY 993 but was apparently defeated, the Sea Folk reporting that, after some initial successes, the fleet was destroyed and the army either slaughtered or captured. Certainly none ever returned to the Westlands afterwards.
Artur Hawking died in FY 994; almost immediately upon news of his death breaking, Lord Istaban Novares and Lady Yseidre Tirado seized the city of Tear and a stretch of surrounding countryside, declaring the founding of the sovereign nation of Tear. Many lords and ladies in the city supported them, others in the countryside opposed them. Thus Tear became either the first or second nation of the modern era founded (around the same time as Queen Ishara Casalain founded the kingdom of Andor). With none of the Tairen nobles gaining enough support to declare themselves King or Queen, they instead formed a coalition of equals, the Council of High Lords. Over the course of the War of the Hundred Years they pushed the borders back in all directions and secured a significant amount of the former territory of Moreina with a notable exception: the peninsula to the east of the Bay of Remara had been seized by the city-state of Mayene, which firmly held it against every attempt by Tear to take control. Tear could have brought significant superiority of numbers to bear, but border clashes with the nations of Illian to the west, Maredo to the north-west and Mar Haddon to the north meant that Tear could not risk expending the strength required in case they were attacked from another direction.
Since the War of the Hundred Years, Tear has grown rich on trade and fishing, along with its lucrative position at the mouth of the River Erinin, which provides easy access for trade and travel to Andor, Cairhien, Tar Valon, Arafel and Shienar upriver. It has suffered several attempts by false Dragons to take the Stone, all of them defeated.
The most recent major conflict fought by Tear was during the Aiel War. After the initial Aiel armies decimated Cairhien and drove King Laman Damodred’s army from the kingdom in disarray, Laman fought a desperate holding action through the Maraside Mountains and into Haddon Mirk. Aware that Laman was leading the Aiel towards their borders, Tear formed an army and agreed to assist Laman on the condition that he crossed the Erinin (with their ships) and moved away from their territory. Laman agreed and the Aiel followed (despite their fear of water), leading the war instead into Andor and, many months later, to the fateful final engagement near Tar Valon. Tear sent 24,000 troops to the Battle of the Shining Walls under High Lord Astoril Damara.
Tear’s recent history has been dominated by its rivalry with Illian to the west, which has resulted in three major and numerous smaller wars being fought between them, the bloodiest being the six-year war between 970 and 976 NE which was curtailed only by the Aiel War. Tear also has a tense relationship with Mayene to the east, which it claims as a province (and which Mayene denies) and a difficult relationship with the Aes Sedai: channelling is outlawed in Tear and Aes Sedai are discouraged from visiting, although in practice the Tairens find it difficult to stop them if they insist. Tear also has internal tension, with the High Lords dominating the Lords of the Land (the lesser nobility and high-ranking middle class) and the working classes (whom the Tairen nobility considers almost subhuman) with arrogance and near tyrannical contempt. As a result Tear, for all its riches and military power, is an unhappy land.
Tear is located on the Sea of Storms in the south-eastern corner of the Westlands. It stretches for 880 miles from the Plains of Maredo to the Bay of Remara, and for most of its length extends inland for about 240 miles, apart from in the far south-east where a peninsula juts about 250 miles out into the Sea of Storms, forming the western coast of the Bay of Remara.
Tear is the only nation of the modern era which does not share land borders with any other nation; it used to have a direct border with Illian on the Plains of Maredo but some decades ago this was pulled back with a buffer zone of unclaimed territory lying between them to reduce tensions. The northern border is somewhat flexible, lying as it does against the great marshland known as Haddon Mirk.
Most of Tear enjoys a warm climate, comfortably cooled by breezes off the Sea of Storms. Olives grow freely and the nation has vast pastures where large herds of horses are bred.
The capital of Tear, also called Tear, is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Westlands. The city consists of an inner city, walled and paved, and an outer city, unwalled and muddy, with a poor port quarter known as the Maule. The city’s skyline is dominated by the Stone, which is located in the northern part of the city. Heavily fortified, the mountain-like Stone has been attacked and besieged more than a hundred times but it has never fallen in battle.
The city of Tear lies on the eastern banks of the wide River Erinin about 100 miles north of where it flows into the sea. Between the city and the sea lies a vast delta known as the Fingers of the Dragon, consisting of rocky outcroppings, marshes, confusing dead ends and tidal pools. Tairen pilots guide ships through the Fingers (for a price). The High Lords of Tear have ordered that no other port or harbour should be built on the Fingers, lest it threatens the capital’s supremacy.
The same law has discouraged the construction of any town or city within the borders of Tear that might threaten the capital’s position, with the residents of each town taxed according to the population of the town, encouraging people and businesses to live in smaller villages. The exception is Godan, the nation’s major port on the Bay of Remara, located some 720 miles east of Tear itself. Godan was exempted from the law due to the need for a Tairen stronghold in close proximity to Mayene as a staging ground for a possible invasion.
Tear is unique among the modern nations by not having a single ruler. Instead, it is ruled by the Council of High Lords (and High Ladies). This council is made up of the heads of the most powerful noble houses of Tear, although this can vary wildly; the Council has had as few as six representatives and as many as twenty-three. The High Lords are ambitious and scheme against one another, but their ambitions against Illian and Mayene have encouraged a greater degree of cooperation than is seen in Cairhien.
Below the High Lords are the Lords of the Land, lesser nobles with smaller holdings. Below the Lords of the Land are the middle classes and peasantry, but the nobles of Tear hold them to be unimportant and indeed contemptible.
Military and Population
Tear’s military is decentralised, with each noble raising troops as needed. The only long-standing elite military formation are the Defenders of the Stone, who are tasked with holding the Stone of Tear (and, to a lesser extent, the entire capital city). The Defenders are well-trained and formidable, but their military doctrine is based on defending a fortified position rather than taking the offensive in the field.
Tear’s huge population of horses means that the country fields much larger cavalry divisions than other nations, and has led to military commanders dramatically overestimating the effectiveness of heavy horse. Infantry are held in contempt, despite the relatively poor performance of Tear’s heavy cavalry against locked walls of Aiel spears during the Aiel War, the last major military conflict Tear took part in.
Tear’s population is estimated at being comparable to Illian’s, between 5 and 10 million. Tear is said to rival Caemlyn and Illian in size, suggesting a population of around 300,000 in the capital, perhaps more.
Tear has a diversified economy, which has helped it avoid economic distress during times of hardship in any one sector. Tear itself is a great trading port and the gateway to the Erinin. Trading ships from Andor, Cairhien and even the Borderlands of Arafel and Shienar stop regularly at Tear, whilst ocean-going ships head westwards to Illian, Altara and Tarabon. Tear guards the Fingers of the Dragon fiercely, forcing all ships that pass to pay a toll to gain access to the river.
Olive groves provide Tear with tremendous wealth. As well as being a delicacy, Tairen olive oil is used as an ingredient in fine meals across the continent. Tairen oil is also used for lamps and is exported across the Westlands (despite strong competition from Mayene’s oil, which many hold as superior). Tear also enjoys excellent fishing in the Sea of Storms just off the nation’s long coast.
Tear’s countryside is mostly flat and consists of pasture, olive groves and farmland. The nation produces a huge grain surplus every year. Much of this grain is shipped up the Erinin to Cairhien, which is still recovering from the depredations of the Aiel War. Although this sounds generous, the Tairen lords demand a high price from the Cairhienin for this largesse.
The final cornerstone of Tear’s economy is horses. Tairen horses are simply the finest in the known world and are widely admired (if grudgingly, in the case of Illian).
These combined factors have made Tear possibly the richest kingdom in the Westlands, and explains why people do business with the nation despite the overwhelming arrogance of its rulers.
The Tairen nobility are known for their fashion, with men wearing colourful coats and breeches and women wearing silk dresses. The lowborn wear considerably more muted colours and are known to wear straw hats to protect them from the sun. Both commoners and nobles in the city of Tear itself wear clogs, wooden shoe-raisers, to protect their footwear from the thick mud that permeates the outer city.
Mayene is a city-state located to the east of Tear, at the tip of the peninsular forming the eastern and south-eastern shores of the Bay of Remara. Mayene also claims the entire peninsular to the north, as far as the swamp known as the Drowned Lands. Tear claims the entire region as a renegade province, although the Mayeners are quick to note that Tear has never controlled the region and they have always been independent.
It is unclear when Mayene was built, although it existed during the latter part of the Free Years era. It was part of the Kingdom of Moreina (where Tear’s claim to the city dubiously comes from) and then became the south-eastern-most port of Artur Hawkwing’s Empire. When Hawkwing assembled his fleet to invade Shara, Mayene, as the nearest city to Shara (although still more than 2,000 miles from the Sharan coast) was one of the launching points for the invasion.
After the fleets to invade Seanchan and Shara were launched, the only direct heir to Artur Hawkwing left in the Westlands was Laiwynde, a daughter of Hawkwing and his second wife Tamika. In FY 994 Laiwynde and her infant son Tyrn were both reported killed in an accident. Hawkwing himself died a few days or weeks later; the lack of an apparent heir contributed to the outbreak of the War of the Hundred Years.
When Tear was founded, shortly after Hawkwing’s death, the High Lords laid claim to all of the territories of the former Kingdom of Moreina, including Mayene. Mayene, however, had declared itself a sovereign nation as well. As it took many decades for Tear to secure its borders on the Bay of Remara and as the threat from its direct neighbours to the north and west were more pressing, Tear never enforced its claim to Mayene.
In FY 1004, ten years after Hawkwing’s supposed death, a young man appeared in Mayene claiming to be Tyrn sur Paendrag Mashera. He had survived the death of his mother and gone into hiding to avoid assassination. His claim was recognised in Mayene and he was made First Lord of the City. This was initially a ceremonial position but over his lifetime, Tyrn’s good advice and governance saw him become effectively the ruler of the city in all but name. In FY 1054 his daughter Miselle succeeded him as the First Lady of Mayene, which was now the formal title for the ruler of the city. A council of other nobles, known as Seconds, was formed to help administer the city and its territories. Over time the title was shortened to the First of Mayene.
Mayene survived the War of the Hundred Years, although it was sacked twice during the conflict. The city was rebuilt even stronger after each assault and was soon surrounded by formidable walls and outlying defences which have been maintained to this day, further dissuading military adventures from neighbouring Tear.
Mayene’s history since the War of the Hundred Years has been one of careful strategic and political manoeuvring, keeping Tear at bay by skilfully employing both negotiation and resolve. Due to its isolation and distance from the rest of the continent, Mayene has not played a major role in affairs apart from the Aiel War, when it sent a small detachment of Winged Guards to the Battle of the Shining Walls.
Mayene is a relatively small city built around a splendid harbour. Although small compared to Tear or Caemlyn, it is very well-defended. Geography and fortifications make attacking the city a formidable task, only achievable with tens of thousands of casualties.
The territory controlled by Mayene consists of the peninsula along the south-eastern coast of the Bay of Remara. This territory extends about 120 miles inland from the city itself to the Drowned Lands, and around 80 miles across the peninsula.
The Drowned Lands are a large saltwater swamp extending across the entire peninsula north-east of Mayene. They are about 160 miles wide. The swamp is murky, with few open waterways, and infested with hostile creatures such as water lizards, nedar (tusked water pigs), soetam (large aquatic rats), swamp cats and varieties of swamp deer, including the spikehorn and forkhorn. The Drowned Lands inhibit overland travel to Mayene. They also discourage travel around the southern end of the Spine of the World to the north-west.
North of the Drowned Lands lies the far south-western extent of the Aiel Waste, although few Aiel live in this region. The most notable location in this area is Stedding Shangtai, the home of some of the Ogier’s finest stonemasons. To the east and north-east lies the hostile, vast desert known as the Termool.
Mayene is ruled by the First of Mayene, currently Lady Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron. The rulers of Mayene claim descent from the High King Artur Hawkwing via his daughter Laiwynde and grandson Tyrn. This claim is not taken very seriously outside of Mayene. The First is advised by a council of Seconds, who each hold responsibility for a different sector of the economy, society or military.
Military and Population
Mayene is defended by the Winged Guards, an elite, permanent military formation numbering in the low thousands. The Winged Guards are tasked with defending the city itself and the person of the First. Although a small army, the Winged Guards have established an impressive reputation for military skill.
Mayene is said to be an impressively-sized city, but is notably smaller than Ebou Dar, Caemlyn or Illian. On that basis, the population of the city is probably not higher than 200,000 and may be significantly less.
Mayene’s economy rests on the oilfish shoals, a type of fish which is both a delicacy and produces an impressive oil which burns with much greater efficiency than that found in neighbouring Tear. Mayener oil is sold across the continent and also to the Sea Folk (the Sea Folk island of Cindaking is located just 150 miles from Mayene). Mayene is also favourably placed on the Sea Folk shipping lanes running south to Cindaking, west along the coast to Tremalking and south-east to one of the Sea Folk archipelagos off the coast of Shara.
Mayeners are straight-talking, no-nonsense people who are known for their bluntness and forwardness. However, to those who prove friends and allies, they are also exceptionally and fiercely loyal. Mayeners have a reputation for personal toughness, with the Firsts of Mayene being trained to defend themselves from Tairen assassins from a young age.
Although they can be uncomfortably honest, the rulers of Mayene are also known for skilful diplomacy, forging key alliances to discourage Tairen aggression and protect their borders.
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