The history of the planet Vhar Before Liberation (BL)
Of the four peoples of the world Vhar, the Vhrelt were the most technologically advanced before the arrival of the Dalonj*[see Alien Peoples]. Indeed, for over a millennium Before Liberation the Vhrelul Empire had been enslaving the Ketone in their homesteads in their native Ghonah, and the Sgeir in their mines and plantations in Pomulkhat. They even claimed dominion over the seafaring Kolakt, but were unable to make good this boast.
Liberation, the establishment of a democracy and enfranchisement of the slaves, occurred in the year 589 of the Fourth Dynasty. The First Dynasty was founded in 1,240 BL, and based on Khol at the mouth of the Ilkhol. It lasted three hundred years and at its height controlled the whole continent of Ghonah. Some Ketone were enslaved at this period, but the majority remained at large, pursuing the life of hunter-gatherers in the highlands and settled in small agricultural communities on the coastal plains, paying tribute to the Vhrelt, whose iron weapons afforded them military superiority.
When the ruling line failed, the Second Dynasty was proclaimed in 932 BL, but was unable to establish full dominion of the empire, and in 917 the rival Third Dynasty established its base at Somalik in the south. For some decades there was sporadic civil war, the Third Dynasty finally achieving ascendancy by the use of a small professional army paid by the gold of Somalik’s hills, and aided by the Ketone as allies. At this period, intermarriage between the two peoples was by no means unknown.
There followed over two centuries of peace for Ghonah, punctuated by waves of expansion against the Bronze Age Sgeir in Pomulkhat as a means of absorbing the energies of the standing army. Two factors served to bring down the Third Dynasty: overextension in Pomulkhat, which left it militarily weak at home; and the rise of the Cult of Vhrela, hitherto one among many, to a position of power. The Sisterhood (vhelmenar) supported the general Seit kha Hondah in his bid for the throne, and he in turn created a new capital, Vhreltor, and named Vhrela’s the official cult of the empire.
The royal clans of the original Vhrelul petty kingdoms had already developed into an aristocracy, but only in the Fourth dynasty was the caste system fully established: the vhelmenar (sisterhood), t'ensar (aristocracy), klanitar (military) and olsar (citizenry). Below that came the other races, regarded by the zealous as unclean. Racial intermarriage became a blasphemy, and intermarriage between castes was frowned upon; anyone marrying into a lower caste became a member of that caste, and their issue was illegitimate and could not inherit.
Ultimately the rigorousness of this system, and the exclusive zealotry of Vhrela’s Cult, led to the downfall not only of the Hondah dynasty but of the empire itself. As long as the emperors were strong and decisive men, the people accepted the many taboos imposed on them and took a pride in their culture, but once the imperial power began to decline a natural resentment of such stringent laws greatly contributed to the widespread unrest, and the liberal thinkers of the last days of empire found fertile ground for their philosophy.
*The first Dalonj starship landed on Vhar in 134 After Liberation, Galactic Year minus 327 or 301 years before contact was made with Earth.
The Vhrelul Language
The Vhrelul tongue includes the following vowels and diphthongs:
Spelling Phonetic Value
a as in French patte
ah as in English calm
e Engish met
eh like a long French e
i English bit, or a little more closed
ee English beat
u French tu
ou French boule
o English lot
oh Engish law
ai English kind
au English cow
An r following a vowel should always be pronounced, as in Scots and most varieties of US English.
The consonants are likewise paired in the Vhrelul alphabet, the second of each pair being regarded in later imperial times as more 'noble', most aristocratic names, for instance, beginning with one of these
Spelling Phonetic value
v/ vh English v/ f
z/ s* English z/ s
l/ lh English initial l/ Welsh ll
q/ h Scottish loch/ English h
r/ rh trilled r/ devoiced trilled r
j/ jh palatalised j/ semivowel y
n/ m English n/ m
d/ dh English d/ voiced aspirated stop, no English equivalent
t/ t'** voiceless unaspirated stop/ English t
g/ gh English g/ voiced aspirated g, no English equivalent
k/ kh voiceless unaspirated stop/ English k
b/ bh English b/ voiced aspirated b, no English equivalent
p/ p'** voiceless unaspirated stop/ English p
* It might be considered illogical to transcribe an f sound as vh, but an s sound as s not zh. In general, I have tried to respect the Vhrelul pairing, except where this would lead to some unclear transcription, hence the use of s not zh. But the letter transcribed as vh, being the initial of Vhrela's name and consequently of all sacred words, including the people itself, carried such weight with the Vhrel people that I felt it appropriate to mark it specially.
** th and ph being more likely to be read be an English reader according to English pronunciation, I have substituted an apostrophe for h in these forms.