A scene from House of Flying Daggers to set the mood!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Longminjong are a very martial people.  The average Longminjong citizen spends his or her childhood learning one of the hundreds of martial styles that have arisen in the small nation.  Although most Longminjong have more than slight experience in martial arts, few master an art, and even fewer master more than one art. The art of war among the Longminjong is a strange thing, though the Five Cities are united under the God-King Abin-Thul they exist in a near constant state of war.

Though the eastern district of Dongjong suffers intermittent attacks from the Saru and maintains a series of forts along the border, it also maintains the largest standing army – often taking recruits from the other districts.  Dongjong manages this by offering any convicted criminal the chance to commute his sentence by spending five years in the military.  This leads to a large, dangerous, and often undisciplined fighting force.  Dongjong is also home to some of the most infamous mercenary companies in all of the Five Cities including the Woodsman’s Brigade, a large and loosely organized group of loggers, bandits, frontiersman, and retired soldiers who band together to fend off Saru attacks that manage to bypass the border forts.  The Woodsman’s Brigade commands a high price both for its size and for the experience of its members.

The southern district of Nanfang is currently the smallest of the five districts, having recently lost territory to both Dongjong to the east and Jongyang to the north.  While the military of Nanfang are currently relatively weak, their mastery of river warfare protects what remains of the district because none of the other districts are willing to attempt a crossing of the Yitiao Hehuoyan.  Nanfang’s standing military is supplemented by a few small mercenary companies such as the Seven Carp Daughters, a group of merchant soldiers that will provide nearly any service – for a price.

A view of the mountains over the capital city of Beifang District.

The western district of Shifang produces the best weapons and armor in the entirety of the Five Cities.  The forges of Huo are manned by a great many skilled smiths and several fallen stars have been found in the foothills and mountains near Huo, giving Shifang the ability to field an elite force of Honjyu armed with iron weapons instead of bronze.  The Lord of Huo is the only great lord to generally eschew mercenary units in his armed forces.  The few mercenary units, such as the Tieshou, that have been employed are above reproach in regard to honor, courage, and their treatment of the populace.

The northern district of Beifang splits its moderate forces between mountain patrols and military forces.  Though it has recently lost territory to Jongyang in a series of small skirmishes, Beifang still retains the majority of its land and people.  However, many of the mountain bandits that are taken alive find their place in the military of Dongjong, and because of this many in Beifang resent the larger territory.

The central district of Jongyang currently holds a position of strength.  Recent wars with both Beifang and Nanfang have gone well and yielded a large amount of land and populace.  The Jongyang military also contains the largest number of masters in any of the five districts.  These martial artists bring both renown and strength to their units and so Jongyang lauds its heroes frequently.  The lord of Jongyang also attracts some of the most skilled mercenary units among the five cities, including the Longxue Masters – a group of martial artists who have mastered the Longshi martial style taught by the God-King himself.

Nothing quite like a fight between Jackie Chan and Jet Li to finish out a post.

War between the districts is a very civilized thing.  Though Dongjong and Beifang both must deal with marauding barbarian forces, the Saru and the bandits common in the northern mountains respectively, all of the districts obey the rules of war set down by Abin-Thul when engaging one another.  These wars are fought by soldiers only, villages are off-limits and any soldier who cuts down a civilian will find that his life is forfeit.  Though fortifications are found throughout the five cities, battles are generally fought in the field and special permission must be obtained to use a fortified position in battle.

Similarly, war between the districts is strictly controlled by Abin-Thul.  Permission must be obtained for one district to attack another, and both districts are notified of the God-King’s decision.  Abin-Thul has been known to personally destroy armies sent out without his permission.  The controls placed on war by Abin-Thul serve to force each district to maintain an experienced military, while keeping anarchy at bay.

2 thoughts on “The Longmingjong Part 2: The Art of War

  1. Technically, if they are using cometary metal, they are using steel, not iron. This was the earliest steel known to man. The north African society was making small amounts of steel as early as the 300’s BC, I believe. That date is probably wrong, but it was very early compared to the rest of the world. Nobody else had developed the ability to keep that much heat long enough to make steel.

  2. While Iron in the form of man-made steel, was beginning to come into common use by 300 BC (both the Egyptians and the Hittites were using it, though there is some argument that the beginning of the Iron Age can be dated to 1000 BC), artifacts ranging from weapons, to tools, to ornaments made from fallen iron-nickel meteors have been found dating back to 5000 BC, and artifacts made from hematite have been dated to 35,000 BC.

    The difference is that man-made steel is an Iron-Carbon alloy while meteoric iron is an Iron-Nickel alloy with an amount of natural carbon. While modern academics argue that meteoric iron is technically a form of steel, most laymen either do not know or do not care about the similarities. In ancient times, especially before man-made steel was common, meteoric iron was considered a thing unto itself.

    So, while academically speaking meteoric iron is a form of steel, historically speaking the proper terminology for the time period of Avnul would be iron, meteoric iron, or star metal. I decided to go with iron and meteoric iron interchangeably because I don’t think that anyone in the world would be likely to see the difference (except possibly the Neshelim or Tonaconeh), and because I think that star metal sounds hokey.

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