Some notes on Janiss’ astronomy, calendar, and history: the people of Janiss refer to their world as Home. The brightest object in Home’s sky is the Sun, a warm yellow disc that feeds Janiss’ crops and tans its people. The second brightest in Home’s sky is the Guardian, a stationary disc that waxes silver with every sunset and wanes black with every sunrise. The third brightest is the Path, a faint stripe of white that shines brightly every clear night. After those, there are pinpricks of light–most stationary, some mobile–that sparkle down through the darkness of night. The Sun, the Path, and the countless points do their own dances behind the Guardian, but the Guardian stands firm over Janiss, always showing the same face to the busy people below.
Through every tetrad, there are four feast days in Janiss, each marking the beginning of a new season. Spring’s feast is the rowdiest, as people shake off the gloom and chill of winter and remind each other that skin remains beneath the long sleeves, pants, and dresses of the last season. Summer’s feast is known for the physical contests associated with it, where communities send their best athletes to compete and for mock battles to train and entertain. Fall’s feast is the truest to its name in terms of food and drink. Winter’s feast is the quietest, reserved more for families to reconnect, share gifts, and do public service, but some public celebrations occur.
A tetrad consists of 352 days. Each of the four seasons lasts 88 days. The people of Janiss divide their seasons into eleven weeks. Each week starts with two days of rest and ends with six days of work, although tradition holds that the sixth day of work be finished after the midday meal. Days are divided into 24 hours, divided further into 60 minutes each.
There is some tension around recent feasts, especially in the older folk, over the possibility of a Red Guardian. Over the last twenty tetrads or so, there have been three Red Guardians over feasts, two on spring feasts and one on an autumn feast. For younger folk, Red Guardians are just a thing that happens, something to gamble over and mock, to dress up in costumes and let off steam. For those who have no memory from their youth of the Guardian being any color but silver, it is one less thing to understand in a world experiencing rapid change.
Janiss itself is a superpower, boasting the largest army, navy, and guard in the known parts of Home, and a roaring economy to match. Janiss takes its name from the unbroken hereditary line of kings from the Janiss family that brought humanity out of darkness with the light of knowledge. Janiss’ neighbors are slowly trying to imitate its success, but they too often find themselves reliant on buying Janiss’ ships, farm equipment, and other manufactured goods, lest they be outcompeted by others doing the same. Neighboring kingdoms who lag too far behind learn of Janiss’ expansionist policy firsthand, and–most frustratingly for former neighboring kings–neighboring peoples are anything but unhappy to know the prosperity Janiss’ rule brings.
How did the first Janiss create such a lasting power? He did it by creating written language and by sharing it with his people. He chased away superstition, replacing it with science. He challenged his people to always ask the question “Why?” and to never be satisfied with answers that rely on fear or legend to obscure the truth. They answered his call and built him an empire. Before the first Janiss, man was just another animal, competing with all the other beasts for food, shelter, and life itself. After Janiss’ enlightenment, mankind now commands the land and the sea, builds great structures, creates art, and yokes those beasts to plow his fields.
Janiss’ society is armed and, for the most part, polite. There is a strong rule of law in the kingdom. Murder carries the death penalty, but a successful self-defense argument is the best way to win such a case. Assaults are often responded to with the admonishment to not put yourself into situations in which assaults occur. Petty theft is endemic and unprosecutable, for the most part. Crimes against business leaders, smuggling, tax evasion, and other attacks on Janiss’ economy are aggressively and swiftly investigated and prosecuted. The city guard is everywhere. Stops for identification papers are common and expected, even in rural areas.
Today is the eighth day of the eleventh week of the winter season of the 382nd tetrad of mankind. Today is New Tetrad’s Eve. There will be some pre-partying tonight, but the actual feast and accompanying excitement happens on the first day of the new season. Beside being the first day of the 383rd tetrad, tomorrow also happens to be Alis’ 21st birthday.
The three of you find yourselves drawn to Janiss City on this day for your own individual reasons. What you find at the city gate are some very long lines.