Toletska and Valimaa
Anthologica Universe Atlas / Universes / Maikros / Toletska and Valimaa

Toletska and Valimaa, depending on who you ask, is either one or two continents. It's mostly the Valimans who like to say it's two, while everyone else just lumps the Valimans, probably unfairly, in with the Toletskans. Valimans are loosely based on Uralic peoples, while the Toletskans have their linguistic base in Slavic peoples, while having their phenotypical base in Indian people of the Indo-European variety. Culturally, they're probably some mix of the two. As you can see on the map, there are lots of states. This map is actually kind of disingenuous, because it presents many of these states as independent, when in fact most of the Toletskan states of the west and north and some of the northern Valiman states along with all of the islands of the Dotted Ocean visible on the map and then some are under the dominion of the Trade Union of Toletska and Valimaa.

Much like India throughout most of its history, or post-Roman Europe, most of - if not all - Toletskan and Valiman states were in a near-constant state of feud. Conquering, reconquering, rebellion, etc. States came and went, came again. Empires formed and dissolved, both violently. There came a point when various intellectuals from across the continent(s) became fed up with the constant conflict. These intellectuals were also primarily mages, as was usual. They found ways to come together, despite the vigilance of armies, and thought of how they could promote peace. These mages formed a new mage guild known as the Brotherhood of the Black Cloak, or simply the Black Cloaks, with the black cloak symbolizing the secrecy they originally operated in. The Black Cloaks came to the conclusion that the best way for them to promote peace was to promote trade, as ostensibly, the primary cause of wars was a lack of some resource or other. Through various tactics involving some of its members' high positions in the relevant societies, the Black Cloaks were able to get the two states of Anchelniy and Kyiyzo - which bordered eachother and thus were rivals frequently at war - to sign a peace treaty and engage solely in trade as the way to gain resources from eachother. The plan actually worked, and both countries saw an increase in their economies along with a rise in happiness of the population, because, hey, they weren't at war so much.

This was the beginning of the Trade Union. At this great success, the Black Cloaks were able to get more and more states as signatories to their treaties. Thus the Black Cloaks gained more and more economic power, eventually officially supplanting the various regimes of the individual states as the de facto, and sometimes, de jure government, though in most of the de facto cases, the individual regime is recognized as subordinate to the Black Cloaks. The Black Cloaks' guild is headed by a Grandmaster, who is thus also the head of state of the Trade Union. The primary focuses of the Black Cloaks as a guild, aside from governance, is, as many other mage guilds, research and development, along with many other scholarly pursuits. The Black Cloaks' specialties are in economics and magic, with a side order of psychology and others of the humanities. The Black Cloaks are probably one of the few organizations that actually conducts research in economics. They are known for setting aside small areas of the Union for experiments with various models and ideas, temporarily isolating these areas from the rest of the Union's economy.

What the Trade Union's actual economy currently looks like as of the late Third Age of Salenzian Reckoning might vaugely be referred to as some form of capitalism, though it is certainly not capitalism as we know it here on Earth. First off, the Black Cloaks have come at their economics from a completely different direction than we have. Whereas real-world capitalism evolved in the context of a Europe in which no one state had complete control over its economy, as opposed to the norm for millennia of states taking complete and direct control of it, the economy of the Trade Union is firmly under the guidance and scrutiny of the Black Cloaks. Furthermore, the European capitalists were primarily concerned about profit, which has carried right up to the modern day, while the Black Cloaks are primarily concerned about reducing conflict as much as possible - the motto of the Trade Union is "Trade is Peace". To that end, the Black Cloaks have continuously modified their expanding economy to address various issues that could lead to some kind of conflict. Of course, profit is a thing in the Trade Union, but to focus on it to the exclusion of all else is seen as the height of foolishness. There are corporations in the Trade Union, as it was deemed necessary to allow participation of as many people as possible in their monetary economy. However, these corporations are kept a close eye on, as it was discovered in one disastrous experiment that left to their own devices, corporations would eventually merge or die off into one or a few organizations which essentially served to funnel money up top to the very few rich. The experiment had to be canceled when it was realized that the commoners were on the verge of armed revolt due to the horrible conditions they had been left in. This was, of course, a situation antithetical to the Trade Union's mission statement of the promotion of peace. To this day, that experiment is a controversial topic used by many who are critical of the Black Cloak government. Competition amongst the corporations is encouraged and enforced, as it was found to help curtail those tendencies of 'monolithization' and 'wealth-funneling'. Toletskan corporations even have presences outside the Trade Union, all the better to promote Trade Union ideology and connect more of the world to the Trade Union economy, with the eventual lofty goal of uniting all of Maikros under the peace of the Trade Union.

Of course, at the end of the day, the Trade Union is an empire - it wants to control more and more of the world, just as Zarcos and the Talurmen. They just prefer economic domination over military; peaceful integration of territories rather than forceful. Another interesting fact about the Black Cloaks is that at this point, they are essentially one of the corporations, it's just that they run the whole show, something that critics are quick to point out.

Trade Union embassies even serve as Black Cloak guild chapters from which they provide their services as a mage guild. The exception to this is their embassy in Zarcos, which must be staffed entirely with non-mages in order to comply with Zarcosian law. On the rest of Salenzis, they chafe against the treaties that permit only the Order Necrotica to legally perform necromancy there, and frequently lobby the Salenzian states to allow them to do so as well, claiming, not without merit, that their methods of prevention of insanity among necromancers are just as good as those of the Order. Of course, the Order vehemently disagrees, considering itself the only legitimate organization of necromancers, and anyone else is a rogue necromancer deserving only of immediate execution, including Black Cloak necromancers. For this reason, and that of the Black Cloaks considering the Order Necrotica a monopolistic organization, the Order is banned from the Trade Union. Of course, this may seem hypocritical, seeing as the Black Cloaks also hold a monopoly on necromancy in their jurisdiction - it is a rather dangerous form of magic if not properly trained - but the Black Cloaks claim that they would be happy to be in competition with the Order Necrotica as long as the Order would be willing to not murder Black Cloak necromancers. The Order, however, is quite strict in this matter and has no signs of budging.