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by Lewis Roberts and Brian Mason
Spires is mostly land, with 4 small seas, and dozens of large lakes scattered about. There is the High Sea, near the north pole, Two Middle Seas, called the Upper Middle Sea, and the Lower Middle Sea and a Low Sea near the southern pole. These seas are fresh water and are the only significant area where native species survive.
The planet currently is in an age of extreme vulcanism, with hundreds of active volcanoes. Earthquakes are also common. The volcanoes spew tons of rock and ash into the air tainting the atmosphere. Visitors often remark about the smell of the place, the volcanoes also spew sulfur compounds into the air, giving the entire planet the aroma of rotten eggs. This volcanism has also created a great deal of obsidian, with which the populace turns into many different types of tools.
Most Spiri live around the Middle Seas, but Spiri have explored their entire planet. Spiri who seek isolation have settled in the far reaches of the planet. The area around the Middle Seas is temperate plains, excellent for farming.
Spires was colonized during the Rule of Man, by settlers from
Terra itself. During the Long Night, their civilization collapsed
and they regressed to a very primitive state. Since then their
technological development has been hampered by the fact that
there are very few workable metal deposits, and that the planet
lacks fossil fuels. When the planet was discovered by the
expanding Third Imperium, it was interdicted. The Scout Service
thought the planet was an interesting anthropology setup, and
wanted to observe it develop. When the Dawn League surveyed the
system they discovered the primitive Spiri. Unlike the Imperium
the Dawn League didn't think humans made "interesting experiments"
and they contacted the Spiri.
The Spiri were delighted to find out that other humans existed; all knowledge of Terra and the Rule of Man had become the basis for myths and legends. The Spiri were quick to join the Dawn League and many individuals wanted to help explore the stars.
Spires is governed by the Guilds, the Guilds were set up millenia
ago, as a way to regulated trade. Since then they have grown in
power and in scope. They now regulate almost all aspects of life.
The Guilds have grown into a sizable, bureaucracy. It can take
several months for news and information to travel from one side
of the planet to the other, because of this the Guilds are slow
to react to unexpcted problems.
To help solve this problem, every 10 years, the finest men and women come to Yuko, the capital of Spires, There they compete in the Contest of Champions. The Contest of Championsis a series of races, athletic competitions, and mental puzzles. The winner is made Archon, or supreme ruler of Spires. The Archon is the nominal head of the Guilds, but has little to do with day to day business, but when a decision needs to be made, instead of forming a committee, the Archon decides. He is kept up to date on issues, by a council of advisors. The council is made up of the other top contestants in the Contest. The Archons from previous years wander the planet as roving problem solvers.
Most Spiri are very spiritual, and spiritual matters are given
considerable thought. All Spiri are given a basic education.
This education usually lasts 5 years. It concentrates on teaching
students basic mathematics, and how to read and write. A small
amount of history and retoric are also taught. The ability to
think for oneself is instilled in all children at an early age.
The education starts at age 5, by the time the students turn 10,
they are needed to work in the fields.
The population of Spiri lives in many small villages, and a few large cities of several hundred thousand. Agriculture is the primary industry of the villiages. Each of the small villages shares a common religious or spiritual belief. Religion on Spires is very sectarian, when an irreconciliable disagreement over a spiritual matter arise, the solution, usually involves the minority leaving the community and setting up a new village somewhere else. Off world anthropologists suggest that this also helps allieviate population pressure.
The cities are much more metropolitian, they began as small towns on important trade routes. Thousands of people eventually came to live and to prosper as merchants. The mixing of people of many different faiths, created some conflict, but for the most part, the Spiri are nonviolent when it comes to Spiritual matters. To help insure that disagreements remain non-violent, the Guild has prohibited the carrying of weapons.
In the capital of Yuko, the Guilds have formed a center for higher learning, the Academy of Higher Thought. Here the best and the brightest Spiri are educated. Children who have excelled in the basic education are sent to the Academy to learn more. The Academy develops both the mind and the body. Students are taught philosophy, history, logic, mathematics and what science the Spiri know. The body is developed through athletics and through the martial arts. Many Contest winners have received an education here.
The Spiri are a very spiritual people. They follow many different
creeds and beliefs, but the most common is a version of Plato's
idea of forms, mutated through 5000 years of history. The basic
principle of the theory of forms states that for all objects
there exsists on another plane, the perfect form of that object.
When one person says "chair," another knows what the first means,
even though they might be thinking of another variety of chair.
It is because thjey both have a common language that "chairness"
implies the same sort of object. A form, then is an extra-planar
As to the radical variant of Platonic thought, it refers specifically to some of the conclusions of The Republic. There, Plato argued that the perfect form of government would be a benevolent dictatorship. Now, this obviously is in conflict with the nature of the Spiri. Therefore, the Spiri accept Plato's Theory of Forms, his Rhetoric Style, and the Socratic Method, but reject the benevolent dictatorship.
The Spiri view psionics as the ability to work on the Plane of Forms. They might view the benevolent dictatorship as possible of the Plane of Forms, but not in a flawed universe with flawed people. They would argue that a philosopher-king, even if he understood the Form of the Good, would be tainted by an imperfect universe.
The Spiri believe that Plato was Philospher King of the ancient civilization of Atlantis. The Atlantis myth is a myth of mystically powerful people who, for a while, brought much good. Later, they became despotic. The exact location of Atlantis is quite disputed, most Spiri believe that Atlantis is on the mythical home of the Spiri, Earth. Others believe that the Spiri were always on Spires, and that Atlantis is hiding somewhere on the planet. These Spiri have set off on many great quests to find Atlantis.
Once Spires joined the Reformation Coalition, it learned the truth, that Earth is not Atlantis, but people, technologically advanced people, but people none the less. This event has precipitated a spiritual crisis on Spires and some religions would have ended, or become more fundamental in their denial of reality. There are a number of cults which deny that Earth is the mythical Atlantis and would go off in search of the true Atlantians.
Spires only had a fragment of the Dialogues of Plato. The copies that they did have have been copied and recopied, translated and retranslated over the millenia, the result is quite different than the orignals. Now that the planet has contact with other planets, it is able to get copies that are closer to the originals. Many people have expressed an intrest in reading the "new" dialogues, and the Academy has bought many copies from off world publishers and is distributing them across the coutnry. They are also sending wandering techers, to discuss the significance of the new writings. Other cults deny the new "rediscovered dialogues" and consider them false. The Academy is viewed by these people as either, in the best case, misguided, and in the worst, heretics.
PSIONICS and the SPIRI
The presence of psi among the Spiri is rare, and a trait which is
passed in a matrilinear fashion, but only manifests itself in
males of the Spiri. The families which possessed this trait
quickly became important, and in a manner of speaking, the local
gentry. Not that there are any classes among the Spiri, but the
families possessing this trait came to be the mediators of
disputes. The pursuit of psi powers among the Spiri has led to
almost a cessation of aggressive tendencies and an almost
fanatical devotion to development of the mind and philosophy.
This focus on the development of the mind and the body has led to
the Great Houses leading an aestic lifestyle, and they tend to
have few children. So, despite there power, the Psi among the
Spiri do not often hold important posts in the government or
bureaucracy, although they are usually treated with a certain
degree of deference by all.
The Great Houses of the Spiri believe that the psi ability originated among citizens of the long fabled Lost Continent of Atlantis. Their philosophical leanings are a radical variant of Platonic thought. The technology level is low by choice. While they accept the theories of forms, the reject the benevolent dictator on empirical grounds: there never has been one. Rather, they favor individual freedoms above all else and most of the government is geared towards protecting individual freedoms.
They are aware of the fear (and possibly hatred) that many outworlders feel towards individuals possessing psionic abilities. They are therefore careful in their use of it - only using it when necessary and for good. Other Spiri know about, but do not understand their abilities, but the Great Houses leave them alone, so they return the favor. Some intellectuals have tried to research psionics. The Great Houses don't mind this, every person must pursue his own destiny, and possibly an non-psionic will have insights that a psionic individual would not.
The Spiri believe that outworlders place too much emphasis on technology and not enough on development of the mind. They fear the Oriflammi and their Centrist policies as it could change the very nature of Spiri Society. As such, they ally themselves very closely with the Federalists, and quietly enjoy the actions of those among Helios.
©1996 by Paul Walker. Some of the material on this page is copyright by Paul Walker.
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