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The major continent of this world is shaped roughly like an inverted tear drop. The human cultures grew in the northwest. The north east was the home of various goblinoid species. The two cultures were always at war with each other. The southern third of the continent was largely inaccessable to humans, because it was seperated from human culture by a broad dry prarie and dessert. The sea coast of human lands is uninviting. For most of its length it is broken by hills, fiords and islands.
This is a world in which wizardry works. At a time when human civilization was reaching from bronze age to iron age, humans discovered the ability to manipulate supernatural forces. This had several major impacts on human developement. For one thing, wizardry was almost always a plaything of the nobility. Like the early academics of the European rennaisance, the time and effort to study magic required funding, which usually meant patronage. The connection between the noble class and the study of wizardry kept any single ruler from building a great empire. Any noble with a wizard had the iron age equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction. For another thing, the existance of wizards delayed the developement of technology. It was simply too hard to imagine that anyone with tools could do what nobles could do with wizards. The iron age lasted for many thousands of years.
The furs were created by wizards, who somehow mixed human and animal charactoristics. It was always intended that furs were to be slaves. Something more than the beasts humans had already domesticated, but something less than really human. Being the nerds of thier time, wizards were certainly thinking of sex when they created these creatures. The animals trunk, including the arms, hands and sexual traits were mostly human. The animals head, face and feet were distincly inhuman. Certain traits of the furs of this world are noteworthy. A child born of a fur mother will always take the form of the mother, without regard for the species of the father; a fur male cannot make a human female pregnant; and a rabbit mother will always have only girl babies. Furs cannot perform wizardry.
The history of fur slavery is a rocky one. Every kingdom, principality and duchy seemed to have different laws dealing with slavery. There have been efforts at abolition, but most were short lived. There have also been movements to eradicate the furs themselves; a violent permanent solution. Freedmen always existed, but in some times and places they were illegal and in others they were encouraged.
Eventually, humans did embrace technology. The commoners seemed to be the first to accept any new invention. Perhaps, because it was one little step toward freedom from the nobles and thier wizards. As technology rose, so wizardry declined; black powder instead of fireballs, and irrigation instead of weather spells.
By the time technology and culture on Thurld reached a level roughly equivalent to Europes early to mid nineteenth century, slavery was on the decline in most areas. But, it still remained legal and viable. Then the Great Gobkin war broke out.
Through out the centurys, humanity had been at war with the various goblinoid species in the east. It was the one thing that could, however temporarily, unite the nobles for a common cause. Thousands of years of border skirmishes, conquests, shifting frontiers, and wars great and small, created legends and stories of great adventure. It also created atrocities and unreasoning hatreds on both sides.
Unfortunately for humans, the goblinoid species were very prolific, and suffered the stress of population growth. Fortunately for humans, the gobkin did not understand wizardry, and feared it. Wizardry served to offset the gobkin numerical advantage. But then, technology rose and wizardry declined. And the gobkin did understand technology. In fact, in some areas they were very good at it.
The goblinoid peoples swarmed across the frontier in unprecedented numbers. Where most humans had muzzle loaded rifles, the gobkin had cartridges and breach loaders. The humans no longer had wizards to bolster thier defenses, and the gobkin had both numerical and technical superiority. Despite many gallant battles, the gobkin steadily pushed back the frontier. In areas the gobkin conquered, they slaughtered humans, furs, and domesticated animals alike. Faced with the obvious, the human governments united. A defensive alliance was created that was in force until the end of the war plus two years. The principle effect was the creation of a single chain of command for all defensive forces. Other terms of the treaty included provisions for commonality of arms and equipment, and the handling of discipline.
Faced with the imbalance in force strengths, the Alliance treaty took the controversial step of creating units of furs. Under the terms of the treaty, a slave owner would receive compensation for any slave that he allowed to join the alliance army. The slave would remain in service until the end of the war, or ten years whichever took longer, and then be granted its manumision. Originally envisioned as twelve regiments of "musketeers," the number was quickly raised to twenty. Freedmen, compensated ex-slaves, and runaways, in unprecedented numbers took the risk of service as a way out of thier often uncomfortable situations. By the end of the war, over a third of the troops under arms were furs. Adding to the controversy, the framers of the Alliance treaty took the extraordinary step of allowing female slaves to enlist. Most by far of the human states did not allow women to serve. But the diplomats and generals who wrote the treaty decided that concepts of decency did not apply to slaves. Of the original twelve regiments, the second, fourth and sixth were to be segregated as female units. That too proved inadequate. Overall, about two fifths of the furs under arms were female.
Properly, the name of the regiment is: Fourth Alliance Musketeers. Through out history, though, the terms "fur" and "skin" were used to distinquish between humans and their slaves. The name "furred" was just easier for most people than saying "musketeers."
These are the stories of Cindy 8702, a runaway slave. She enlisted believing that military service and war could not be any worse than the life she had fled. By the end, she became someone important. These stories tell us how that came about.
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