Skirting The Dodgy Path
The island Kingdom of Queg is located in the Bitter Sea southeast of the Free Cities of Natal. Quegans are known for their large war fleet, their aggressive business practices, and their love of competitive sports. Quegans are considered by some to be compulsive traders and view themselves as being surrounded on all sides by enemies. Given their geographical location, this feeling may not be far from the mark.
In ages past, Queg was a Keshian province. Over a decade before the first conflicts between Kesh and her Lesser Confederation, Queg, began a successful revolt and become an independent nation. Although the former Keshians mixed with local islanders through intermarriage, they consider themselves the only true heirs of Ancient Kesh. They believe Queg has endured as the sole repository of their great culture since the fall of Bosania to the Kingdom and that those who sit upon the Throne of the Overn Deep are a fallen people – not the “Truebloods” they call themselves.
The language of Queg is a variant of the ancient Keshian spoken at the time of the Empire’s withdrawal from the Bitter Sea, and so is related to the languages of Yabon and the Free Cities and similar to the language spoken in the land of Novindus.
The island of Queg is volcanic and has some of the richest farmland north of the Vale of Dreams, and is surrounded by unusual local currents making it the most decent climate in the Bitter Sea. Thus, the nation is self-sufficient when it comes to feeding its populace. Queg has the largest navy in the Bitter Sea, a fact of life constantly driven home by its regular harassment and occasional seizure of Kingdom, Keshian, and Free Cities ships.
Non-citizens of the Kingdom of Queg have no legal rights. If one sets foot on Quegan soil without a Quegan sponsor, they are considered property for the slave trade. Resisting apprehension, even to save one’s life, is assault on a citizen of the Empire. Visiting Queg, even under the auspices of a sponsor, can be a dangerous proposition. A sponsor could withdraw protection at a whim returning one’s status from “guest” to that of alien and potential slave. Quegan government serves two purposes: to keep order – by keeping the peasants beaten down – and to defend the island. The real power within the government rests with the nation’s wealthy merchants. The oldest families have hereditary rights to a place on their ruling body, the Imperial Senate. Those with enough money, however, can buy a seat.
One of Queg’s most valuable exports, and carefully guarded secrets is Quegan fire oil. This substance, compounded by Quegan alchemists from naphtha and limestone dust, which are both found abundantly on the island, is a powerful incendiary weapon. It burns upon application of physical force and even water will not put it out. In addition, the fumes of Quegan fire oil are heavy, hugging the ground and, if the fumes build up, the tiniest of sparks will make them explode.
Like its parent nation of Kesh, Queg is also known for having open markets for slaves. (In the Free Cities and the Kingdom, the practice is discouraged.) Another popular export Queg is noted for is beautiful marble statuary – most being life size sculptures of the human form.
Queg treats the whole of the Bitter Sea as her territory and Quegan war galleys, as well as Quegan pirate ships, have repeatedly raided the Free Cities, boarded Keshian ships, and even attacked the coastal towns of the Kingdom. The Kingdom has always had strained relations with Queg. Too much smuggling and raiding from the Kingdom’s point of view and too little paying of duties for sailing on “their sea” from the Quegan point of view. Quegan war galleys are reputed to have known only one fear – Trenchard the Pirate, “The Dagger of the Sea.” At the sight of Trenchard’s fleet, Queg’s galleys were seen to turn and flee.