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Protectorate of Biengyar

In the past, the island states of the United Kingdoms had always been a powerful trading force in this region. Now seceded from the Kingdoms they grow closer with the free cities of the eastern coast of the Gulf of Biengyar. Their merchant ships pirate those from the United Kingdoms that refuse to pay their waterway tariffs and taxes, an act which is sanctioned by their leadership as justifiable for the excessive taxation they suffered when they were still a part of the United Kingdoms. The free cities to the south welcome this change as it provides a healthy competition between the Protectorate and the United Kingdoms for their natural resources and gives the illegal pirates a legal target for their predatory whims instead of preying upon the traffic of the free cities. Rogues of all kinds find sanctuary in the Protectorate if they are willing to be useful agents of the iron fisted merchants guilds which rule there.
    Population: human (94%), elf (2%), half-elf (2%), half-orc (1%), others (1%)
    Government: Mutual protection pact between wealthy merchant consortiums.
    Leader: Representatives from the most powerful guilds decide trade and military policy for the protectorate.
    Religions: Chishleen (38%), Arden (28%), Lathidus (12%), Hiteh (8%), Brakah (6%), others (21%)
    Climate: The island nations are frequently beset by rain throughout most of the year. Summers are mild and winters are without lasting snow. Because of the rocky nature of many of the islands, the protectorate imports a fair amount of food and timber in exchange for its metals, gems, weaponry, and other manufactured goods.
    Major Cities: Irendi (17,000); Minothrad (11,500); Ember (3200)
    History: Known for many years as a haven for pirates and criminals seeking asylum and a fresh start, the islands of the Inner Gulf of Biengyar are riddled with hidden coves, tiny fishing villages, and people that simply wish to live in peace. Minothrad originally was a penal colony of the United Kingdom, until its mines struck gold and gems deep in the earth. Then the merchant consortiums and families stepped in and took control of the operation out of the governments hands - which was an arrangement of mutual benefit. The merchants would help curb the rampant pirating and in return they would grow wealthy from the riches of the mines. Even the Black Scourge barely touched the islands, the armies of the Dark God remained land bound and the merchants profited by providing a method of relatively safe travel through the gulf. Following the Scourge, the United Kingdoms began to call heavily for metals and building supplies from the islands, to reequip their soldiers and rebuild the nation. Unable to pay for these things they bought on credit. Unable to pay their craftsmen to make use of the materials and in the face of invasion by the Galiadre of Alfheim, the Kingdoms raised their taxation on merchant profits, harboring, and in many other places. It was a matter of practicality that the powerful merchant houses decided that they could operate at a greater advantage and with greater freedom if they were not associated with the United Kingdoms, and so they formed their protectorate. The United Kingdoms refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of the protectorate and defaulted on the great loans they had borrowed from the merchant houses. Furious, the merchant houses began to sanction piracy on United Kingdoms vessels and to take their business to the free cities that dotted the eastern shores of the bay. Thus is the present state of affairs.