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Welcome to Illakia
Illakia (pronounced Ill-ache-ia) is an empire in another world. Whether this world is a parallel universe, another planet, the figment of someone’s imagination or whatever doesn’t matter, and can be up to the reader’s interpretation if they wish.
Illakia is ruled by the Emperor (currently Alexander IV). The Emperor is the supreme ruler of the land and, Illakians believe, the world. He has this power by not only being deemed a living god, but the god of gods. The other gods are deceased Emperors, and this pantheon exists to advise the worldly Emperor, who becomes their leader on taking the throne. This theory is at the centre of the Illakian Cult of the Emperor, the state religion if there is one, which almost all Illakians believe. This means a decree from the Emperor has the power of a religious decree as well as being legislation, and the Emperor can change the cult’s doctrine at will.
The Emperor is always male (Illakia has grown deeply patriarchal, as we shall see, and the current doctrine decrees that women who pursue political power are heretics). The Emperor’s eldest son by the Queen is usually the heir, though there can be exceptions. The Emperor can marry as many women as he likes (the only person in Illakia allowed to do so). He generally chooses his brides from the daughters of favoured lords, chosen on the basis of their looks usually. The Emperor’s wives are called princess consorts, except one that is chosen Queen and who provides the heir.
Illakia does not have a legislature, but the Emperor does have an advisory body called the Council of Lords. To be made a lord, one has to be in the Emperor’s favour, be sufficiently rich, and gift the Emperor a present to demonstrate this wealth (traditionally twenty slaves – meaning the Emperor has a huge harem). Decrees from the Emperor are the sole means of legislation.
The people of Illakia and its world are basically Earth humans. Illakians are fairly similar to Caucasians, while there are peoples to the south and east who are darker. There are some biological differences though. Women have a much shorter life expectancy – no higher than about forty-five – while men can live to their seventies. Women also have other biological differences – for example, they don’t menstruate. It should be noted that there are no sexually transmitted diseases and there are no gay men.
As noted above, most people in Illakia are white. People resembling South Americans live to the south, and people resembling Asians to the east. There are very few black people in Illakia. Of the blacks in Illakia, around 70 per cent are female, and 98 per cent of those women are slaves. The blacks are descended from the prizes the Illakians took from their conquest of Tasmynor generations ago. Black slaves are the only slaves that pass on their slave status to their female children.
There is a growing gap in Illakia between the poor and the middle class. You are largely born into your class, though leaps up and down are possible. Most of the poor are women. This is because there is a poll tax that only applies to women of 10 lira, the Illakian currency, a week. This is roughly equivalent to about £10 sterling. This is small change for middle class women, but a major challenge for poor women, who also have to contend with a high taxation on textiles, making clothes outrageously expensive, and relatively high rental prices for the shacks they live in. Men get a poll tax at L1 a week.
The poor only receive state-provided education which is compulsory to everyone – two hours on a Sunday afternoon mainly concerned with indoctrination and not literacy and numeracy. Middle classes send their children to private schools for the rest of the week. It is then easy to see why poor women can’t get a well-paid job, not being able to read and not being able to afford smart clothes and often not being able to afford much more than a bikini. For example, working in a tavern in the slums may pay a girl at worst about L3 a day – just enough to feed themselves for that day. There are no benefits or a welfare system – if you can’t pay the poll tax, you are sent to debtor’s prison. The slums really are an employer’s or a landlord’s market.
While the poor live in slums dotted around Illakia (almost every major town has a slum area) the lower middle classes can live in flats or townhouses while the upper middle classes live in villas in residential areas, and are able to afford a slave or even a small slave stable or harem. Professional men probably earn a slum tavern barmaid’s daily wages in about half an hour.
Above the middle class, there is again a huge leap to the upper class, which is very hard to break into if you are not born into it. The upper class consists mostly of lords or aspiring lords, who live in mansions and have large numbers of slaves.
One of the most interesting things about Illakia is its judicial and penal system. For men, it is quite similar to how it is in the West on Earth, a time in prison relative to the seriousness of the crime, with an adversarial court system. For women, though, there is a completely different system. For a start, there are a number of laws that apply only to women – adultery, prostitution, lesbian sex and drinking alcohol are some examples. When a woman is charged they are transferred from the Imperial Police to the Imperial Guard. The IG is split into five divisions; the White Division (so-called because of its traditional uniform, and which looks after newly-charged pre-trial prisoners), the Custodial Division (which runs the prisons), the Slavery and State Auctions Division (which organises slavery and auctions off confiscated property) and the Public Punishments and Executions Division. There is also a Men’s Division which solely looks after male justice.
When charged, a girl can expect to spend about a week under the care of the White Division. It is in this time that a judge is assigned to the case, and he decides whether the accused should be presumed innocent or guilty. If she is presumed guilty, then she has to prove her innocence to the judge in court. There is no jury – the judge presides over the case, often helps prosecutes, and passes judgement and sentence. Women are not permitted to appeal and the sentence will be served out in full to the letter – parole is not permitted for women. No legal aid is offered – if you can’t afford a lawyer, you will have to represent yourself.
A judge has quite a lot of freedom with punishments, though there are guidelines and customs. Some offences are considered ‘capital crimes’ because they were traditionally punished by capital punishment. These crimes are murder, treason, aiding the escape of a slave and a few other similar crimes – these crimes have to be punished with a capital punishment. The term ‘capital punishment’ now encompasses execution, enslavement and life imprisonment, as all these involve the criminal being declared sub-human and ceasing to be a human-being in the eyes of the law from the moment of sentencing. Other crimes may be punished with any combination of a prison sentence, corporal punishment such as a flogging or branding, public humiliation such as the stocks, a fine, a capital punishment if the judge wishes or any other suitable punishment the judge thinks necessary. See Fair Justice and Tabatha’s Prison for examples on how much freedom and imagination a judge can have in sentencing. There are also customs to consider – for example, murders are punished with crucifixion, so are runaway slaves and those who aid or shelter runaway slaves, traitors get a variation of hanging, drawing and quartering and heretics are burned at the stake.
As you can probably tell, women get a rough deal in Illakia. This is due to the Imperial Cult, that says that women are less important than men and usually responsible for their troubles, and so they should be subservient to the desires of men. This is why only the woman is prosecuted in an adulterous relationship – it is not illegal for a husband to be an adulterer nor is it illegal for a man to have an affair with a married woman. Only men can initiate divorce proceedings. It is illegal to have lesbian sex, as this is women having sexual pleasure that does not pleasure a man, though it is legal to perform lesbian sex as a performance for a man, as this negates the first point. Also, only women can be made sub-human.
You become sub-human automatically if you are enslaved, sentenced to death or life imprisonment. The moment you become sub-human, you cease to be human – the law legally declares you the lowest form of life. You lose all rights, including the right to life. You become the property of whoever legally enslaved you, be it the state or a private person. As a piece of property, you can be bought and sold, and your owner can do absolutely anything they want to you, just as you can freely and legally do anything to an item bought from a shop. There are a small number of customs relating to sub-humans – mainly that their ceremonial attire should be nothing but a white loin cloth, they should always have bare feet and should have no visible hair below the neck – but these are only traditions that can be ignored by an owner if wanted.
There are two ways to become a slave – by judicial sentence or by enforcement of a contract. These contracts are usually those involving money, such as leasing property or a loan, which provides for the girl to be taken as a slave as repayment for defaults. You can be sentenced to slavery for a crime or for defaulting on tax or fines three times. A judicial enslavement will see you transported far away so friends and family cannot attempt annoying rescue attempts – no one will be told where you are going. All of your property becomes the property of your enslaver, as does your body. The state generally then auctions off this property, as it does your body, if it is the enslaver.
There is also a lesser form of slavery, known as a subservience contract, where a woman can sign away some rights to a person and promise to serve and obey them for a set amount of time in return for payment.
Despite the Roman and medieval style of the judicial system, Illakia is pretty much like the modern Western Earth. Styles and fashion is the same – people wear jeans or suits, and live in modern-style housing (except the slums of course). The differences are in technology – there are no computers, phones, TVs, cameras, cars etc available to the public, although some are used by the state. Transport is by horse (with carriage or cart) for short distances or for rarer longer distances by the rusty network of state-owned railway lines. Civilian communication is mostly through post. The only newspaper it is safe to read is the state-run Grand City Chronicle.
The capital of Illakia is Grand City. Grand City is by the sea in the north of the Empire, and is home to the Imperial Palace, the Emperor’s official residence, the largest building in Illakia, almost twice the size of the largest building on Earth with 15 million feet of floor space. Most of it is hidden behind closed walls, and it has its own beach and island. Grand City is also home to Justice Palace, the largest court and prison complex in Illakia, and the only site in the Empire that houses all five branches of the IG.