The Dry Season
Kosarnat and Mesarnat
Kosarnat and Mesarnat are the two largest islands besides the central one, and are directly south and directly north of the central island, respectively. Each is home to one of the great imperial palaces of the Celestial Kingdom, and to the surrounding cities that support and defend them. Kosarnat and Mesarnat between them represent roughly a third of the population of the Celestial Kingdom, which holds sway on six other islands as well.
Kosarnat and the Palace of the Southern Emperor are the current center of government for the Celestial Kingdom. Nonetheless, the Palace of the Northern Emperor is well-maintained and well-guarded – Emperor Tan-Idurat is not so secure in his power that he will risk offending the Mok and Jos clans that rule Mesarnat by letting the great palace decay.
The balance between these two islands, each the administrative center for the parts of the Celestial Kingdom nearest to them, is the greatest challenge of any emperor. For all their blustering insistence that they are the equals of the orcs, even the rulers of the elven republics are not sure that they could actually win a war against the full military power of their neighbors, but for so long as the north-south division holds, that will never be a concern. Nearly half the Imperial fleet is, at any given time, holding position around the orcish islands – the fleet in the south watching carefully for any signs of northern aggression and the fleet in the north watching for the same from the south.
To non-orcs, this is utter madness. Orcs from both Kosarnat and Mesarnat will happily stand shoulder to shoulder against elves or humans, and from the outside the cultural differences between the two hardly seem reason for such vast resources to be put in place to prevent one side seizing true power over the other. Most elves and gnomes simply dismiss it as the nonsensical political games of the powerful dynastic families. The orcs, who value the past almost more than they value the future, take a very different view, and even the lowest farmers and conscripts, with not even the faintest blood relation to the great clans, will take up their island’s cause with fanatical fervor.
The cultural divide lies on the line between the strong and warlike (or, to their opponents, barbaric and bloodthirsty) Kosarnat orcs and the cultured and civilized (or, to their opponents, weak and decadent) Mesarnat orcs. This is not to say that either would appear so to their neighbors – an elven soldier is unlikely to feel any less fear at the sight of Mesarnat formations than Kosarnat raiding parties, and a human will be no less awed by the palaces and ceremonies in Kosarnat than by the great oracular rituals in Mesarnat. But it has taken many centuries for the two to grow so similar, and the embers of conflicts that began when they were two very different peoples still remain.