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Eremias Orkoi, also known as Eremias Kunuaji (Eremias the Uplifter), was the first leader of the Axumite state. He would give his name to the title taken by all future rulers of Axum, becoming the first Orkoiyot of the early nation. Not much is known about his life, as his very existence is up for dispute, however a vague outline of his life is known.
Little is known about his early life, though it is estimated he was born in around 4600BC in the Amhara area of Axum. He possibly grew up the son of a fisherman, as with many families in Amhara. According to local tradition, when he was seven he fought off a huge boar that was threatening his village, using only a staff and his wits.
In 2009, archaeologists in the area discovered stone tablets with engravings which read 'Home of the Uplifter' in the ancient dialect of Axum. They have claimed this indicates the birth place of Eremias, though these claims are heavily disputed.
Rise to Power & Conquests
Soon after his father's death when he was only just into manhood, Eremias rose through the ranks of his tribe to be leader of the protective forces in the towns and surrounding countryside. As populations in the region grew, it was only a matter of time before conflict would arise. And conflict did come to the shores of Axum, some six thousand years ago when a prolonged drought lead to the failing of crops in the whole region. Food shortages led to the tribes attacking each other to increase their own grain stocks. It is around this time that historical records suggest Eremias the Uplifter began to make a name for himself, commanding the men of the Axumite tribe brilliantly and raiding many villages in the region. Local folklore suggests Eremias took great care to learn the names of each of the men fighting with him and was loved by his men and feared by his enemies. Whatever the true case may be, there is no doubt he was an effective commander, with his actions forcing the other tribes in the region to rely on his village for food. When these villages formed an alliance against him - he ruthlessly beat back their forces and killed every man in the village that instigated the rebellion to send a message.
When the rains returned, Eremias found that he still held significant influence in both his village and the ones which were still somewhat reliant on his village due to the fact many had come to live there. With the death of the chieftain of Axum, Eremias seized power for himself and consolidated his influence on the other villages of the region by killing their individual chieftains and declaring himself Orkoiyot - a term that came to initially mean high chief. It is interesting to note that Eremias himself came from Amhara - a village which had a few years before Eremias' birth come under the subjugation of Axum.
The villages under the Orkoiyot flourished, indeed helped by good rains. Fish were still plentiful and an increase in harvests lead to an increase in influence with other villages. However, the period of drought had caused massive upheaval and even the return of the rains was not enough to sooth the slights committed to the chieftains by their counterparts. Thus, the various villages in the region continued to fight each other, increasing their reliance on the food produced by Axum and allowing its ifluence to spread. Eremias was said to have seen the suffering of the people as their chieftains forced them into pointless wars. In truth, he probably took advantage of the chaos and the influence Axum had gained to unite all the tribes on the shore of Lake Axum.
He did this in two manners; warfare and winter. The Orkoi timed his attacks on the other villages to precision, gathering men when he knew they would not be working on the farms - winter. Although Axum had a large surplus of grain that could last them years if need be, other villages heavily suffered during winter where the constant warfare led to weak harvests and starvation. Using his skills as a battle commander, Eremias issued the men under him with specific orders - to target the village chieftains and ensure minimum casaulties on both sides. Attacking nearly a dozen villages at once, he used the element of surprise to maximum effect, ordering his men to launch the attacks in the middle of the night. The tactic was successful, villages were taken with near minimum resistance and come dawn the villagers were told of their fate: accept peacefully and see food on the table or resist and see their whole family slaughtered.
There really was no need to think for the villagers. They accepted the food and the Orkoiyot expanded the villages under his control. Yet this rapid expansion caused the other chieftains to look up in worry. What starvation couldn't accomplish was done by Eremias, and the tribes stopped warring - even if only temporarily. Many chieftains met and decided to form alliances in a bit to curb the influence Axum held over them and the arrival of srping saw the men of these villages finally return to their fields to farm. Yet until the harvest could be brought in the peoples would still suffer and so Axum did the only thing that could potentially damage the new alliances - it cut the food supply.
This had the desired effect, which was felt almost immediately and soon the chiefs were again at one another's throats. Yet a small number of chiefs would manage to look past their differences and realise that they needed to band together to survive and get in a good harvest. The rest would continue fighting and Eremias would have no problems in subjugating the warring tribes still remaining. Yet the men he sent to fight the small alliance of tribes would come back defeated, and instead of sending more men the Uplifter would decide to consolidate his holdings.
Eremias was no stranger to diplomacy, and knowing that he needed allies, took a rival chieftain's daughter as wife - thus securing his hold on the region even further. He would have more than half a dozen children survive into adulthood and at his death, aged 61, would leave behind a small but stable state.