Atop the Shoulders of Giants
The Parlimentary Kingdom of Kefran is a nation of primarily halfling citizens and inhabitants (upwards of 99%) with a history older than the Nada’Ath empire. The Parliamentary Kingdom of Kefran was once the Kefran Clan, then the Kefran Empire, then the Kingdom of Kefran, and finally the Parliamentary Kingdom of Kefran. The longest standing stage of this nation’s government was the Kingdom of Kefran, which lasted from Nadan 338 until Nadan 1211 when a civil war resulted in the addition of the Parliamentary branch.
Even in the mid 1600’s strong factions still exist within Kefran regarding loyalties to the crown and to the Parliament. In fact the nature and disposition of these factions had a large role in the formation of the East-Sea Alliance, to which Kefran belongs along side its allies Leiln, Kiyi-Jini-Antu, and Ptolzi A’Brafnen. Kefran has long been, and remains to be, the most dangerous place in the known world to be a politician, and the inner workings of their government are wrought with superfluous rules, sanctioned extortion attempts, and – occasionally – acts of physical violence.
What Kefran may lack in control of its internal politics, however, it makes up for with an incredible amount of control over its external politics. Despite their best efforts to do otherwise, the members of the Kefran Parliament have never managed to exert any authority over foreign affairs, leaving them to be handled by the monarchy. In the past 100 years the consensus among Monarchical agents has been to treat almost every foreign nation like a hated enemy in a cold war. Kefran strikes little to no trade agreements, denies entry into international compacts, and spies constantly.
And all of this is no secret. In the Nada’Fan especially halflings have become a stigmatized and stereotyped group with the general human population holding the expectation that every halfling they see is looking for the right opportunity to steal Nada’Athi magic, goods, and ideas to take home to Kefran. Though the situation is no where near that extreme, it is an acknowledged fact among the leaders of every nation of the known world that Kefran is in the practice of disseminating civilian agents to foreign lands to steal secrets and technology for the good of their homeland.
For the average citizen of Kefran, though, all of this is just what the wealthy politicians concern themselves with and has little to no effect on daily life. Approximately 88% of the citizens of Kefran live in rural areas, and of those living in cities less than 1% work in professions connected even tangentially to political affairs. One of the largest professions, and perhaps the most romanticized, is actually pony training. Kefran is famed for its War Ponies – a breed of specially bred ponies that can lift almost as much as horses. Kefran War Pony riders are famed for the elaborate and heavy armor they outfit their steeds with, making it nearly impossible to force a rider’s dismount without hacking through their military saddle. Another of the largest professions in Kefran is working in irrigation. The nation of Kefran is on a very large plain with relatively few sources of flowing water. Through the creation of very complicated and impressive aqueducts, however, Kefran has managed to establish flood-plain style farming more than 80 miles from the nearest water source in some cases.
Culturally Kefrans tend to be a proud and loyalist people. A defining point of Kefran culture is what’s referred to in their language as “Nurut”. The term is difficult to translate as it is a very broad concept that incorporates aspects of personal and familial honor as well as aspects of cultural and political loyalties that can be partially expressed through a code of conduct which specifies a hierarchy of duties one holds to country, family, friends, and peers – though not in that order. Nurut is far and above the most pivotal reason that outsiders find Kefran a difficult place to live, both because under Nurut loyalties to outsiders always come last, and because generally most outsiders haven’t the slightest clue how to conduct themselves according to this complicated social expectation.
Religiously, the majority of the citizens of Kefran are pantheistic. They have been known to adopt beliefs from almost any other religion they come into contact with and usually pay respects to the majority faith of whatever nation they enter if they ever travel outside of Kefran. That being said, this does not discount attempts by political figures to impose a state religion. Though it is widely ignored by those who do not involve themselves with Kefran politics, according to a royal decree from the year 591 the official religion of the courts in Kefran is the worship of the Matron Sisters, called Xodu. Specifically, Xodu is the worship of three sister deities who are said to have given birth to Kefran. Bira to the lands, Meusse to the people, and Hallu to the nation. Functionally, to most citizens, this simply means reciting an oath before the Matron Sisters at the beginning of any official proceeding, but to some few keeping this faith is considered the height of Nurut.
Leading up to the signing of the East-Sea Alliance in 1622 a very violent civil war erupted in Kefran that spanned the two years preceding the treaty. The conflict was largely denied by the king of Kefran, who famously announced that the majority of the purported deaths were the result of “honorable duels between just persons over private matters." Though the conflict finally ended when the Nada’Athi empire threatened to march an army into Kefran to seize its northern floodplains, a large number of Kefrans continue – decades later – to wear checkered hats to show their support for an “independent Kefran” – in other words a Kefran with no external alliances.