c. 4700AD The Traditional Nomad Economy
To understand Amondiage, it is essential to understand the Nomad way of life. The Nomads have been molded by their harsh world into a grim, noble and proud people. The primitive existence of the first centuries has faded into the past, but these early times live on in the heart of any Amondiagian who claims Nomad blood.
By 4550AD, the pattern for life on Amondiage was set. Over 95% of the population were nomads, with the remainder living in the (partially underground) lakeside settlements.
The Nomad Cycle starts and ends with the Moot. The Moot is a gigantic fair which takes place at Midsummer (every 8 earth-years) on the North Pole. For two months the Moot goes on without a break - summer on the North Pole is constant daytime. The Moot is the great gathering of Nomad peoples. Wherever they travel through the Cycle (Amondiages long year), all must return to the Pole for Midsummer, as the heat makes the rest of the planet uninhabitable.
The Moot is a chance for old friends to meet, for deals to be struck and marriages to be arranged. It is here that the Moot council (also, confusingly known as The Moot) meets to make laws, mediate in disputes and decide court cases.
The Pole is habitable for a year either side of the Moot. Hardy crops can be grown in the fertile polar soils. Farmers, known as Grubbers till the land and stockpile food and grain and cattle-feed. This is used to feed the tens of millions of Nomads and livestock that crowd into the Moot.
After the Moot, the Nomads gather themselves into their Clans and start down the Road. Clans are groups of families that form a community which stays together throughout the Amondiage year. Often there are too many individuals in a Clan for them to move together effectively. The Clan splits into Caravans, which travel the Road in parallel - often many hundreds of miles apart.
The Road is the way South. There are a dozen well established Roads - none are roads as a city dweller would know them. Only very rarely is the Road a recognisable path - more often it is merely a route from this mountain to that forest, around this desert and across that steppe. Sometimes the Road is marked by boulders or tumuli, placed to show the way.
As a Caravan travels the Road, pioneers go on ahead, scouting out the terrain. It is their job to clear the path of dangerous animals, to discover the best pastures, to find the best camp sites. The rest follow on behind, driving the herds with them - much as the early white American settlers did on Earth.
Roughly a third of the way through the Cycle, after 1000 days on the Road, the Clans begin to reach the permanent lakeside settlements. The permanent settlements are much more technically advanced than the Nomads. They have hospitals and schools and factories, and access to sophisticated weapons and tools.
Every year, the lakesiders emerge from their shelters and start to tend their crops - its a race to get them harvested and into the defended granaries before the Nomads begin to arrive. Every year the Nomads have to decide whether to trade their precious cattle and leather-goods for what they need, or to take it by force. Most often there is a wary stand-off, and a barter-market is set up outside the settlement. Sometimes Nomad children are left to be educated with the lakesiders for a Cycle.
For the lakesiders, the temperate season is a long series of anxious encounters with the hostile Nomads. No sooner has one Caravan been faced down and forced into peaceable trade, than the next one is arriving. Only their superior weapons and strong defences keep them safe.
The hardest part of the Cycle is the next year. After getting what they need from the lakesiders, the Nomads push on South, spurred on by the increasingly cold weather to the North of them. Winter in spent in the cool jungles. This is unforgiving territory - never touched by the winter cold, this part of Amondiage is uncomfortably close to the uninhabitable hot jungles of the equatorial belt. Worse than the climate and the lack of good pasture are the dangerous beasts that live there. Occasionally one of the fierce hot jungle monsters might stray this far North - and they have been known to wipe out whole Caravans.
When the winter has passed, the Clans start to move North once again. First meeting up with their old friends the lakesiders once again, before pushing on to close the Cycle with the next Moot, a year and a half later.