When the Gods created Men, they made many different Forms of Man, which you might term "races" or "cultures". The Forms of Men were all endowed with certain talents and virtues by the Gods, and when the Spirits descended the Stair at the Edge of the World, they, too, augmented the Forms. Everything Rests On Him, the Spirit of the World's Foundation, and the pre-eminent of the Earth Gods, even had the audacity to make his own Form, though these dwell deep in the caves and tunnels that twist through him.
When the Emperor was cast down the Stair at the Edge of the World, plummeting into the Sea, the Sea Spirits threw him forth upon the shores of a land, where he went for many days naked and afraid, for he knew not what dwelt there. He came then upon a great inland sea, and on the shores of this sea there dwelt a curious people, who, attracted by the paleness of his flesh and the shining of his eyes, came to him and asked him if was a Man. The Emperor said "No, little ones. I am a God." All the mortals were very afraid then, and cast themselves down to the ground, bowing before him.
The descendants of these people, whom the Emperor took under his wing, are the Imperials, the most advanced and most skilled, in many ways, of the Forms of Man.
Imperials are shorter than many other Forms of Men, with males standing 5'3"-5'7" (160-170 cm) and females 4'10"-5'4" (147-163 cm), with forms inclined to slenderness. They have smooth, golden-toned skin, giving them a Mediterranean look. Imperials have broad, brachycephalic heads with rather high foreheads and widely spaced, large eyes. Their noses are small, narrow, and pert, with small nostrils. Their faces have a definite narrowing toward the chin and most do not have high cheekbones. Imperials have dark brown or auburn hair that grows straight and somewhat stiffly; men trim their hair short so that it ends at the nape of the neck, and brush it forward, while women grow theirs long and wear it parted to either side of the face and flowing down the back.
Imperial dress for men consists of a mantle-like garment (si'to) that drapes over the shoulders, back, and upper chest about to the top of the solarplexus, as well as "sleeves" that are slipped onto the arms and end at the wrist and above the elbow (these are called e'ga'te), and knee-length loose trousers (neo'to) that are tightened to close at the knee. Also included is a belt (neo'to'pa) that must be drawn into a knot, and the hanging leftover cloth thrust again through the belt in a loop. Those in the Imperial service wear hip-capes attached to their belts. Footwear is sandals of cord and leather. Their clothes are usually brightly-colored, and, since Imperial religion frowns on iconic art, are usually decorated with abstract, flowing patterns.
Imperial dress for woman consist of a calf-length, sleevless (lete'to) dress with straps that cross over the upper arm (as opposed to the shoulder), leaving the shoulders and throat
area bare. This is accompanied by a belt (lete'to'pa) of similar fashion to that of a man's. Footwear is the same as men. Like men, clothes are brightly colored and bear abstract, flowing designs.
Imperials love jewelry, especially when it is made from gold, jade, and silk. Chokers and bracelets are the most common, though some women wear elaborate ear-rings, and anklets are a sign that a young person is looking for a lover. Imperials do not wear rings. The taboo against iconic art does not extend to jewelry, and motifs of stars are common.
The Imperial religion will be discussed at length beyond.
Imperial society is somewhat patriarchal- the father is the leader of the family. However, the father's Duty (explained below) is to be loving, caring, and firm but not tyrannous- the Emperor is the Father of the Empire. Women are not kept from high positions, but there is often a "glass ceiling" of sorts- there has only ever been one woman general in the Imperial Legions, and there are very few female merchants who have achieved any sort of success.
Sexuality is open- homosexuality is not looked down upon, but the Priesthood gently dissaproves of it among peasants, since it is the Duty of a peasant to reproduce and make more workers. Marriages are private affairs between the two people involved. They are loose bonds, and even loving partners take lovers and concubines.
Slavery is an accepted part of Imperial society, and one can treat one's slaves however one likes, at the risk of being a highly unpopular dinner partner. Slaves are generally treated well and sometimes are considered part of the family- they are fed, clothed, and cared for just like a child.
Imperial food is mostly vegetables, given the vast amount of viable cropland, and the relatively small meat industry. An Imperial meal consists of sets of dishes with one food on each; one dish may have squash, another beans, another rice. Foods are lightly cooked (except for beef, which is preferred charred) and then sliced into thin sections and arranged in pleasing ways on their respective dishes. Eaters then take a section, handful, or dish-full of whatever they want to eat, though it is bad manners to eat all of the food on a food dish. Imperials drink from shallow bowls, usually drinking tea or wine (which they prefer to be very sweet and very heady- they would definitely not be into modern wines and champagnes.)
Proper Imperial music is tranquil, slow, generally melancholy single notes, played at traditional intervals on various stringed instruments, including harps (du'tu-we), lutes (si'baiyo), and small guitars (u'ane-we), accompanied by a flute-like instrument (ne'mado). Most other Men find Proper Imperial music to be slow, boring, and somewhat saddening, though it has its own special austere beauty; Imperials, especially nobles, find it to be the mark of good breeding if one enjoys it.
A newer style of Imperial music, called Lesser Music by enthusiasts of Proper Music, is popular among commoners, and even among some nobles. It is more like the music of the Holholitlath or Dlanni, with rythmic beating of drums (bash'e) and tambourines (bo'bash'e).
Imperial singing is not rhymed or matched with the music- it takes the form of sung poetry.
Imperial Naming Conventions: Imperials do not take names until they are twelve years old. Before then they are known as "(mother's name)'s Daughter/Son" (For instance, the young daughter of a woman named Red Sparrow is Red Sparrow's Daughter). After the age of twelve, children are named in a long ceremony called Ato'kutu'ra'neng, "the Naming of the Beloved Child". Imperials do not celebrate birthdays before their Ato'kutu'ra'neng. Imperials are often given names reflecting the surroundings or circumstances of their childhood, such as Bright Sun Shines or Swift River's Bank. Others, often the children of parents in cities or members of the Imperial Authority, are given abstract names reflecting Imperial virtues, such as Tireless Duty, Recrimination and Apology, Heartfelt Greetings, or Counting Only Hap
y Days. The poor often give their children names that reflect their parent's occupations or things so related, such as Grey Minnow for a fisherman's daughter, Little Wolf for the son of a woodsman, or Sprouting Very Green for a farmer's child. In the North, names that reflect the child's behaviors are also common, such as Sleeps In the Shade for one sleepy or lazy, Chatter Forever for one who is talkative, Smile and Silence for a quiet child who smiles much, or Leaps Every Day for a very active one. Imperial names do not differentiate between men and women, and women are just as likely to be given "strong" names than men.
Words to Remember
Duty- Duty, duty, duty. This ideal[i is beat into Imperials from Day One. It is the Duty of peasants (Sepu) to grow food and do menial tasks. It is the Duty of goodmen (Esso) to create art, produce commerce and travel, and do other middle-to-high-level tasks. It is the Duty of nobles and members of the Imperial Authority (P'e'ku) to see to the stewardship of the people and the Empire. It is the Duty of the Priesthood (Do-pe) to be the servants and spouses of the Gods. So on, so on.
Respect- It is everyone's Duty to respect their elders and betters.
Loyalty- Loyalty is to the Empire first, then the Family. Soldiers are loyal to the Legions, who are their foster family
Dragonglass Hillsmen are an offshoot of the Imperial race who dwell in eight city-states throughout the Dragonglass Hills. They are semi-independent from the Empire, but they subsist on the trade provided by it. Dragonglass Hillsmen are much like Imperials, but they are more independent and self-reliant, and have a tendency to be shockingly (at least to Imperials) disprespectful.
Walking barefoot through the morning of the world, a tall people roamed from Sea to Mountains, and back again, searching for their true home. They went to the Mountains, and suffered terribly in the cold, but the stern heights turned them back. They went to the Sea, and were wracked with disease and heat, but the wild waves turned them back. Then, as they went back towards the Mountains, they lay down to rest for the night. As they slept, they had a dream- a dream of wind and of grass, and of a brilliant golden land. The dream came to them each night, and drew them to the east, beside the jungle, onto the Golden Plains. Here the Holholitlath met Flitloholm and Olholitlim, the Winds, who taught them the Way to Live.
This is said to be the origin of the Holholitlath, a nomadic people who are fleet of foot and happy of heart.
The Holholitlath are tall and thin, men being 6'1"-6'6" (185-198 cm) and women 5'7"-6' (170-182 cm), with lithe, muscled builds; men are wide-shouldered, women wide-hipped, and both are long-legged. They have smooth, golden-toned skin like Imperials, though it has a tendency to be more oily. Holholitlath have long, narrow, dolicocephalic heads, with high cheekbones and V-shaped mouths that give them a constant smile, close eyebrows and closely-set, almond-shaped eyes. They have aquiline noses. The Holholitlath have soft, straight black hair; men wear theirs shaggy about their shoulders, with short goatees, while women wear theirs in a mass of braids that begin at the shoulders and are held together in clips of bone, bronze, or woven Grass-cloth.
Holholitlath men and women both wear the same garb, a draping, poncho-like robe (called a yoliholtlith) that hangs just below the knees. This robe is held tight by a belt (holimoliti), a straight strap of Grass-cloth, rope, or leather. Draped over the shoulders is an intricately-patterned cape-blanket (doiholitmil) that hangs about to the waist around the shoulders like a long shawl. Robes are always a solid color, usually white, while cape-blankets are woven with geometric patterns and stylized beasts and animals of the Plains, usually done in blue, yellow, or red thread. The doiholitmil, cape-blanket, serves as a pallet to sleep on at the end of the days wanderings, as well as clothing. Virgin girls wear anklets of woven Grass-cloth, and virgin boys anklets of leather.
Holholitlath prefer simple, elegant jewelry, such as uncarved bracelets of bone and Grass-cloth. Leather is usually tooled in geometric patterns. Holholitlath enjoy the look of silver, and rich tribes often purchase silver ornaments from Imperial traders. Motifs of wind and clouds, and patterns suggesting the flowing of the grass and of the wind, are common, despite the geometric leanings of Holholitlath weavings.
The Holholitlath are nomadic, and always walk or run of their power between their camping locations. The society is an equal one, but the elderly are to be offered respect and admiration. Holholitlath believe that it is not good to sleep under a roof, since the Winds cannot then carry away evil spirits and demons.
Sexuality and marriage is very strict- a Holholitlath child loses its virginity in a special ritual at the age of 13, to an older member of the tribe. After this, the individual is expected to find a suitable spouse of the same age within one year. After marriage, which is a tribe-wide celebration, the couple are exclusive lovers, and no other pairings are allowed, unless one is chosen to take a youngster's virginity.
Holholitlath do not infight- there is too little time in life for battle among the tribes. They are not an altogether warlike people, but Holholitlath tribes do have warriors, and these warriors are usually well-trained for battle on the plains, using bow, spear, and blowgun.
Holholitlath do not keep slaves. If they must, they will swear captured foes to tlotolotlo, the state of war-service, in which one serves the tribe as a member who may not marry or own property, but who is housed by a family.
Holholitlath eat mostly grasses and the meat of wild bo'te and snakes. Animals are boned, skinned, and lightly cooked so that the meat is still bloody, while grasses are soaked in blood and then boiled. Meals are served in small bowls, with grass and meat, if there is meat, intermixed, sometimes with a sprinkling of pungent, spicy herbs and a broth of blood and drippings. Drink is taken from a communal tureen, and usually consists of simple rainwater from the day's waterskins or cooled blood from the day's catch of meat.
Holholitlath music is generally fast, rythmic beats on various kinds of drums (poliholtli, variations bipoliholtli, hopoliholtli, sopoliholtli, and opoliholtli), and shaken maracas (that is, gourds full of sand; called shishiholtli). Flutes will be included (nyaiholitloholtli), especially during holy celebrations, and small tubes mounted on top of staffs, which are whirled around, making a whistling noise, called yopoloholtli. Singing is generally all the gathered crowd and musicians, though dancers remain silent, all chanting the verses, while a designated singer wails out certain important verses.
The Holholitlath worship the Winds, Flitloholm and Olholitlim, also called White Wing and Black Wing, two of the Five Winds. Flitloholm and Olholitlim taught the Holholitlath to run like the wind, and to go barefoot, and to love the plains. It is said that one day, the Winds will lead the Holholitlath over the mountains to a place of eternal golden plains, free of the Empire.
Holholitlath Naming Conventions: Male Holholitlath names end in -lim, -om, -oyilt, and -tlam. Female Holholitlath names end in -olm, -oit, -iti, -oho, and -tilt.
Example Male Names- Doiholilim, Oholitlom, Hlitloholoyilt, Folotlam, Ifofolim, Holidilidoyilt
Example Female Names- Yohilolm, Hodilohoit, Ofolololiti, Hoyifoho, Tlohifotilt, Ifoholitlolm, Yododifoit
Words to Remember
Family- family is important, especially the spouse, and all Holholitlath are expected to be loving parents and faithful partners. Those who abuse their children or fail to teach them the proper Way to Live are outcast from the tribe, and their children are fostered in another home. Holholitlath families are usually small, consisting of two to four children.
Tribe- the tribe is also important, and usually is like a very large extended family. It is expected of Holholitlath to treat other tribe-members with respect and care. Those who betray their tribe to another tribe can expect to be shouted at and chased away, sadly refused, or even simply ignored.
Way to Live- The Way to Live is the ancient Holholitlath tradition of survival on the plains, memorized by all Holholitlath. The Way to Live includes instructions on edible grasses and plants, ways to find the tribe if separated, and other such tips.
In the eternal twilight of the End of the Previous World, the Caatjun slaved for the cruel Dragon-Men, building mighty cities of stone and metal and light, where the Dragon-Men flew about on stone discs and tubes of metal, and grew all that they needed on wondrous trees. The Caatjun were much despairing, and called out for the Celestials to aid them. The Celestials, seeing the plight of the Caatjun, cast thunders and lightnings upon the Dragon-Men, and with rage unseeing, destroyed the wondrous glass-and-metal-and-stone in great rising mushrooms of fire, the Knives of Light, fires so hot and so powerful that even the smoke caused all to sicken and die. The Caatjun were afraid, and trembled, but then, after ninety upon ninety years, the Celestials drew back their anger, and the curtain of poison rain and sickened wind disappeared, and the Sun shone. The Dragon-Men were all gone, and in their place had grown a great jungle-swamp. The Celestials brought the Caatjun out of the soil where they had hid, and said: "This now is your place."
That is the legend that the Caatjun tell of their earliest history.
The Caatjun are about the same height as Imperials, but instead of the slender shapes of those men, the Caatjun are more inclined to roundness and shape. Women tend to be muscular and strong, while men are usually thinner. They are pale-fleshed, like Northerners, and have the same tendency to freckle, but they do not burn under the sun like a Ffolkii or a File. Caatjun have dolicocephalic heads with low cheekbones and rounded chins. They have straight, narrow-bridged noses with long sinuses, and almost all have brown or hazel eyes. Caatjun have brown hair that tends to be somewhat wavy when it is long. Caatjun men and women both wear their hair long, slightly below the shoulder-blades, and weave small plaits and braids into their hair. Caatjun men over 30 years old wear closely-trimmed beards along their chins, with a braid at the chin.
Caatjun men wear waist-length vests of bo'te fur (preekyal-mou), for bo'te are common in Blue Coast, and braid the fur of these vests into many small, colorful plaits wrapped in colored thread or fibers. They also wear knee-length kilts of leather, hides, or plant materials (straan'mjum). They belt these kilts with strips of silk (straan'mjum-rou), tied together to hold a totem-pouch (dreetjo'am) at the navel region. On their biceps and wrists, Caatjun men wear wraps of fire-hardened cord (trem'mjem-oyart). During periods of rain or (rarely) cool weather, they wear cloaks of bundled leaves from wide-leafed trees such as palms. Footwear usually consists of socks of mud-packed cord (nimoum-caylo). Caatjun men also tattoo their hands with symbols of protection and quickness. Colors are usually the browns and greens of the jungle, better to camouflage themselves while hunting or traveling.
Caatjun women bind the breasts and torso with shirts of cord (noumyal-mou) and a shawl of tanned bo'te fur over the shoulders and back (laatjon). They wear the same leather kilts or skirts worn by men, along with silk belts and totem-pouches. Under these kilts, however, they wear trousers of leather or hides that drape over the foot, tight around the hips and upper legs but loose at the ankle (straan'mjum-nomiman). They usually go barefoot, or with sandals of cord and woven plants. Caatjun women tattoo their lower backs and the area just under the navel with symbols of wisdom and grace. Clothing is usually dyed in bright colors, for Caatjun women have no need to hide.
Caatjun wear little jewelry, but they enjoy what they can get, and the brighter the better. Gold and silver jewelry is common among the leading women and wise women, but most others wear bracelets and necklaces made from woven hemp.
The Caatjun are a matriarchal society, and women are the rulers. Men are in charge of gathering food, construction, the raising of children (after the age where breast-feeding is necessary), and other tasks such as these. Women are the decision makers, the warriors, and the leaders, and the tribe's spiritual life is governed by the Wise Woman.
There are no marriages in the Caatjun tribe. All men of the tribe are the property of all the women, to do with as they wish, and sexuality is not a taboo- sexual acts are often done out in the open, where anyone can see, so that other tribesfolk can witness, or even join in.
The Caatjun are very warlike, and there is frequent tribal warfare. No quarter is given or asked for in Caatjun battles, and enemy villages are usually depopulated to the smallest child, ransacked for food and goods, and then the remains are burned or tossed into the swamp. The Caatjun do not take prisoners, save that the Wise Woman may take one man from a defeated tribe into her harem.
The basis of Caatjun cuisine is "treek", that is couscous (crushed and steamed semolina). Treek is the base on all meats and fruits; meats are raw, while fruits are charred on a fire. Fruits, the sexual parts of flowers and tasty foliage is also gathered and charred, and then chopped up and mixed into the couscous. The mixture is usually served on a large leaf, and eaten with a whittled stick, which is dipped into the mixture and then drawn out, and the mixture is eaten off of it. Larger pieces in the mixture are eaten with one's fingers. Other dishes are salads of fruit slices, leaves, and flowers, flavored with fruit juice, or broths of blood, drippings, and juice, heated over the fire. Drink is usually rainwater, captured in gourds, or fruit juice, though swamp-water can be used in an emergency, the Caatjun being able to drink with impunity, as they immune to many jungle diseases.
Caatjun music is made with long, wooden staves called thraakartimeek, of various lengths, which the musicians thwack against the ground, trees, other staves, and such, to create a rythm. It is sometimes accompanied by huge drums made from animal skins (aarp'raamjo) stretched over wide racks, which are kicked by the drummer. Long wooden instruments much like an Australian aboriginal didgeridoo, called mjnaa'olee, are also played. Caatjun singing is considered pleasant; it is done by female children of the tribe, who warble fluting, quivering melodies sounding much like birdsong.
The Caatjun worship the Celestials, a collection of female gods who dwell in the sky. Each Celestial also has a "creenee", a second aspect, that governs a separate portion of life. The queen of the Celestials is Taamjum, Goddess of War, Death, and the Caatjun People; her creenee is Caa'rin, Goddess of Love, Sex, and Birth. Other Celestials include Neetjou'rimjum, the Goddess of Rain, Water, and the Marsh, and Culee, the Crocodile Goddess, Mother of Monsters and Creator of the Imperials. The Caatjun believe that there have been seventeen different worlds before the current one, and that Nayol destroyed each in a fit of fury, and that in the current one, Caa'rin brought the Caatjun forth from the soil of the earth.
Caatjun Naming Conventions: Female Caatjun names end in -rin, -ol, -mjum, -lee, and -tjis. Male Caatjun names end in -moum, -on, -art, -ram, and -aa.
Female Name Examples: Naamjum, Ritje'mjumee, Cramuumol, Noumlayotjis
Male Name Examples: Nirimoum, Meem'mjon, Loy'yart, Treetjim'maa
Words to Remember
Women: Women are the rulers, the masters, and the more intelligent and stronger sex. Women were the first to be born, and the leaders, and they have a Celestial-given right to rule over men.
War: Caatjun are very warlike and very intolerant, and frequent battle is a woman's dream. The destruction of one's enemies shows that one is favored by the Celestials, and that one is the strongest and most clever.
The Earth: The Caatjun legends tie them to the Earth. They are said to be born from it, made from packed soil by the goddess Caa'rin, and they must love it and know its ways and treat it well, lest the Celestials destroy this world and make a new one. The name Caatjun means the Earth People, but the Imperials often mockingly call them the Mud People.
Romdand and Fizoml, the First Man and First Woman, emerged from the Cave of the Earth Giant, Gohumdt, and they saw the Rabbit God, Zepi. Zepi shouted, for Ocdanta, the Fire Giant, had told Zepi that Romdand and Fizoml wished to string him up by
his ears. Zepi ran and ran and ran, and as he ran, his long feet threw up the mud from the Earth Giant's Field, which landed on Fizoml, giving her new shape, different from Romdand's. When Romdand saw Fizoml's new form, he was inspired by her beauty and the allure of her new form, and they fell together in passion. Then, realizing that Gohumdt would soon return to find them, his prisoners, gone, they crawled into the sheltering branches of Tomdaler, the Willow Woman, and there, Tomdaler help Fizoml to bear one-hundred children, who were like Romdand and Fizoml in respective forms, and Tomdaler named these children Corusta.
And that, according to myth, is how the Corusta came to be.
The Corusta are taller than Imperials, and more stout and wide of body. Men average 5'5"-5'11" (165-180 cm), and women 5'2"-5'8" (157-173 cm). Corusta have a pale skin tone, quite unlike that of more southerly races (save the Caatjun), and a tendency to sunburn easily and quickly. They have dolicocephalic, narrow heads, with high cheekbones and square, solid jaws. Their noses are blunt, with round nostrils. Their hair is curly and black, with an oily tendency; men wear their hair shortened, in a curly mop, while women plait theirs into a long, single braid.
Corusta men dress in a knee-length tunic of sheepskin or woven cotton (boltecundt) and a heavy fur pelt of wolf, bear, or mammoth across the shoulders (godandef). They wear a belt across the chest and waist, made from sheep sinew or leather (boltecundt lefodz). Footwear consists of wooden-soled sandals with leather straps (hintperzm). Colors are usually subdued, dark maroons and browns and slate colors that suit the climate. Their tunics are usually sewn with zig-zag and wave patterns in contrasting colors.
Corusta women wear ankle-length dresses lined with wool (themzihundt), and a belt of leather with strips of hanging leather (themzi godandef). After marriage, women wear a loosely-tied scarf with a pattern representing their clan affliation (cors palhust). They wear similar sandals to men. Colors, like men's clothing, are usually subdued, and woven with zig-zag and wave patterns.
Corusta men do not wear jewelry; they believe that it deprives them of their manliness. But women are expected to wear plenty of jewelry. Usually it is colorful bits, feathers, stones, and other bits strung on thongs of goat sinew or leather. Bracelets of beads are also common, and elaborate ear-rings that show devotion to the Gods are frequently seen. When Corusta can get them, they love silver, platinum, bronze, and glass.
Corusta live in clans of 6-7 families, each family consisting of the husband, his wife and assorted consorts, and the children (who come only from the wife; consorts are made barren). The society is patriarchal, and judges worth on the basis of "reality"; the most "real" Corusta are warrior chiefs, followed by warriors, followed by any other man, followed by women, followed by slaves and consorts, and then children. Children are believe to become more real as they age. Outsiders are illusions, set forth by the wicked Earth Giant Gohumdt to trap the Corusta into his service once again.
A Corusta marriage involves the clans of both man and woman, and a marriage is usually a huge, celebratory affair. Men are expected to father many, many children, and women are expected to be ready to do whatever the man asks. Sexuality is a private thing between a man and his woman and his consorts; whatever he does in his own home is his business.
Corusta are not terribly warlike, but relations between clans are often cool at best. Corusta are masters in the business of keeping grudges, and many chiefs keep ancient, crumbling sheepskin scrolls with the names of all those who have wronged the clan in the past. Those who insult a member of a clan can expect him to hunt the insulter down and extract an apology in blood.
Corusta eat a lot of protein, and much of their diet is meat. Food is large animals or pieces of animals, spitted and cooked over a fire, sometimes marinated in beer, making meals of good, hearty, meat. Usually, one's meat is served on a wooden platter, and one rips off hunks. There is also an accompaniment of mashed potatoes or other root vegetables, flavored with meat drippings and beer. Bread is a treat, seen only at celebrations, and is usually sweetened with sweet spices. Drinking is done from a wooden bowl, and is usually beer. The more beer, the better, say Corusta eaters.
Corusta music is played on a variety of flutes (comzendand), horns (fomeltl), and small hand drums (haldodel). Corusta music is droning and slow, accompanied by loud, barking lyrics.
Corusta worship Lagez, the Sky Father, and Gordentof, the Earth Mother, who coupled to make the First Man and First Woman, Romdand and Fizoml. They also produced four monsters, the Giants, who are Gohumdt the Earth Giant, Ocdanta the Fire Giant, Riz the Air Giant, and Polepp the Water Giant. Other Gods include the animal gods, Zepi the Rabbit, Tolendt the Fox and his sister Castedof the Wolf, Adotendi the Eagle, and Cemz the Snake. There are also the Underworld Gods, Pocsa and Postula, who are horrible beings named after diseases.
Corusta Naming Conventions: Male Corusta names end in -ez, -dt, -i, -a, -and, and -et. Female Corusta names end in -of, -ml, -iz, -mz, and -ect.
Male Name Examples: Capez, Rohunandt, Detemi, Orstinenda, Lotemand, Corimet.
Female Name Examples: Hestof, Firiml, Racoliz, Epelanect, Fiz, Tepomz, Rimz
Words to Remember
Clan: The clan is EVERYTHING. Slights to the clan are personal slights to a Corusta, and the Clanbook of Grudges is required reading for all children. The clan's needs are the individual's needs, its strengths and weaknesses are the individual's, and so on. The name of the clan is usually given before the name when greeting someone ("Red Feathers Stega I be!")
Happiness: The dour environment of the Corusta (East Coast) guarantees that the days weigh on Corusta spirits. But Corusta try to stay cheerful, and most have a sunny outlook on life. When one has so little to be joyous about, one is joyous about everything.
Strength/Reality: The Corusta judge all things based on their reality. The strongest men are the most real, while those who are weaker are illusionary. This contributes to their opitimism- how can one despair when the environment is merely an illusion? The stronger one becomes, the more real they become.
Going North from the Land of Meum, the great warrior Dlan, who was three-fourths divine, came to the Hill of the Gods, Kaitak. Dlan, who had sworn a great and terrible oath of vengeance against the God Psuut, who had seduced his wife. Ascending to the peak of Kaitak, Dlan took his sword in hand and cried:
"God Psuut, stealer of women, betrayer of friends, come forth!"
Psuut first came in the shape of a great tiger, but Dlan brought forth a weighted net and cast it about the God, trapping him. Dlan took his sword and cut forth the tiger's fierceness.
Psuut took then the form of a serpent, and struck at Dlan. But Dlan took up a stone and struck the serpent down, cutting forth its cleverness.
Psuut was then a great soldier, and dueled Dlan with sword and fist. But Dlan bested Psuut, for there was never a more accomplished warrior or more skillful martial artist than Dlan, and Dlan tore forth Psuut's skillfulness.
Psuut cried: "I am bested! I am bested!" and threw up his hands in shame for being defeated.
Dlan went to the House of Psuut, and gathered his wife, and there discovered that she was with child. Dlan was angry, and raged at his wife, but Psuut came and said: "Nay, do not strike her, for it is your child she bears!"
And there Dlan's wife gave birth to a child, named also Dlan, who was the first of the Dlanni.
The Dlanni are the people of the rich kingdom of Dlan, a boisterous, enthusiastic people who idolize warriors and the skills of battle. They are a tall people, 6'4"-6'10" (193-208 cm), tall and lanky, with wide shoulders and wide hips. Dlanni have smooth, chocolate-brown skin, and mesocephalic heads that taper steeply towards the chin. Their cheekbones are high and their eyes narrow and almond-shaped. They have long, straight noses with a sharp look to them. Dlanni have black, woolly, hair that is difficult to tame; men wear theirs in many long braids, usually down to the waist, while women pull theirs back into a tight knot behind the head, or straighten it to a long, albeit curly, fall.
Dlanni of both sexes wear the same costume, a loose robe (tlepu) that falls to slightly below the knee, with elbow-length sleeves, and a wide, open collar that bares the upper chest, and, for women, cleavage. They wear loose belts of beads or tooled leather (tlep'bekk) around their waists, and sandals of leather and woven reeds (adlesi). Dlanni wear bright colors with striped and barred patterns in many colors.
Dlanni are fond of gold, and, luckily for them, their country is rich in it. Most Dlanni can be seen wearing bracelets, anklets, and other jewelry of gold, with stones such as rubies and sapphires, as well as amber, which can be found in great abundance in the western regions of the kingdom. Stylized lions, bulls, dragons, and spiders are common motifs.
Dlanni are a boisterous, enthusiastic people who, like their famous ancestor Dlan, from whom the nation derives its name, live each day like it is their last. They love, and hate, and war, and party, all with the same great happiness and optimism. Most Imperials regard Dlanni as a nation of drunken brawlers, with boundless irritating good spirits and a lack of devotion to duty. Dlanni idolize the warrior arts, and especially the martial arts, for those are the epitome of perfection of the body, and of martial skill. The Dlanni are famous martial artists, and Dlanni tutors are often brought to the Empire to teach their skills to the children of nobles and to the military.
Dlanni men are slightly higher than Dlanni women, in their beliefs. Dlanni men were created by Tlevak, the Sun God, to be smarter, and have the capacity to be more skilled, while women were created by Mumti, the Moon Goddess, to be the partners of men. However, Atzah, the Goddess of the Dead, created a weakness in men- love.
Dlanni marriages involve three partners, either a man and two women, or a woman and two men. These marriage triads are sexually exclusive with each other, but they may disband at any time. A Dlanni usually joins his or her first marriage triad at age 15, and stops entering them at age 50. If a woman in a marriage triad has children, the triad cannot disband until the child is cared for.
Dlanni food is based on bread, and Dlanni bread is famous even in the Empire. Dlanni families keep a great pot of dough, usually flavored with grapes, salt and other spices, and whatever other foods that might be casually tossed into it, and this is lovingly referred to as the "vreumol", the &^%$@. The &^%$@ is used to spawn other, smaller batches of dough, which are baked as flat, triangular loaves of bread. These triangular loaves are used like plates for piles of noodles, intermixed with bits of cooked tomatoes, squash, maize, and meat (usually beef or mutton). Dlanni usually drink water mixed with cinnamon out of cups made from wood or metal.
Dlanni music is made with many different flutes (vakar, uuvakar, shahlvakar, and rusavakar), played all in turn and overlapping, so that there is no real pause in the music. Also included are gongs (baardahsi) and clashing slats of metal (shekra). Singing is high and melodious, but with strange vocal yips when a baardahsi or shekra is sounded.
The Dlanni worship Tlevak, the Sun God, Father of All the World. Tlevak's wife is Mumti, the Moon Goddess, Mother of All the World. Their children are Shakuu, the Lion, God of Skill, Ahlat, the Bull, God of War and Cattle, Ahdleu, Goddess of Darkness and Mystery, and and his sister, Psuutsi, the Spider, God of Trickery and Magic. Other Gods include Psuut, God of Animals, a distant cousin of Shakuu and Ahlat, and Muem, God of Smiths, who was the first God, and forged Tlevak from gold. All the Gods dwell on Kaitak, the Hill of the Gods, save Atzah, Goddess of the Dead, who lives in the Land of the Dead over the Sea.
Dlanni Naming Conventions: Dlanni do not differentiate between male and female names. Dlanni also take a last name, the name of their mother, and this is said as "shu(name)". For example, Vehluuk shuBahsai
Example Names: Keuru, Ahshotsi, Psalka, Rutavak, Tlem, Muulep, Asi, Kaibesh, Shuulp
Words to Remember
Skill: Dlanni revere skill in battle- the Dlanni gods and heroes are all mighty warriors, skilled with sword, javelin, and martial arts. One can be skilled without being strong, but cleverness is necessary, and speed is usually also important.
Live Life to the Fullest: Dlanni follow the aphorism that one should live each day like it was your last, because it just might. The hot land and warrior tendencies of the Dlanni make death a distinct posibility with each sunrise, so this is not altogether untrue.
Honor: Honor is important to the Dlanni, in fact, almost as important as Skill. One's Honor must be maintained, and slights to one's Honor are usually repaid with a duel of swords, martial arts, or a bout of two-handed dancing (see Sports thread in Flesh It Out). It is best not to say anything about a Dlanni's family (especially the mother) or birthplace, or anything about them either, lest they construe it as an insult and give the insulter that deadly request of duel, which no Dlanni can refuse. Thus, Dlanni tend to be happy and gregarious, but still somewhat careful and choosy about words, giving the impression that they are holding something back.
The Ffolkki (Blue Eyes)
Mohellk's father, Guurrat, was a great drunkard, and when the day was done he draughted deeply of his tankard, which was full to brimming with Tullth, the ale of the Gods. One eve, while deep in the ale, Guurrat came to the wife of Mohellk, Ullraefenu, and raped her. When he was finished, Guurrat awoke from his stupor and saw what he had done, and with great fear fled from Sovnaesiikk, the Circle of the Gods. Mohellk, coming upon Ullraefenu, vowed terrible revenge, and took up his sword and battle-mask, and chased Guurrat his father for nine years and nine days, until they came to the Edge of the World. Mohellk grasped his weeping father by the arm, but as he made to strike of Guurrat's head, Ullraefenu came and begged Mohellk for mercy, and revealed five small, shivering beings, who trembled at Mohellk's angry gaze.
Said Ullraefenu: "Would you slay their father?"
Mohellk and Guurrat then took arms again, and Guurrat swore amends, and they took these five children out of the Land of the Gods to the Lower Land, which before there had not been any use for.
Said Guurrat: "This is all yours, and I, your father, shall aid you in its keeping."
Thus did the Ffolkki come to the Lower Land.
Ffolkki are the tallest known of all Men, males standing 6'5"-7' (196-213 cm), and females 5'9"-6'4" (175-193 cm), with muscular, wide builds. Ffollkki have pale white skin that burns and freckles in sunlight, and brachiocephalic heads having strong chins and brows, and a tendency towards aquiline noses. The great majority of Ffolkki have blue eyes, whence comes the Imperial nickname for their race, the Blue Eyes. Ffolkki have downy, rich brown, auburn, or red hair that tends to be wavy when grown long. Ffolkki men grow their into wild manes, which they braid into a mass of plaits, and they do likewise with their great beards. Ffolkki women who are unmarried wear their hair at shoulder length, while married women grow theirs to about the middle of their backs.
Ffolkki men wear little clothing, despite the icy climate of their homeland. They wear a kilt (rraesk) of mammoth leather, lined with fur and a cloak (uudesk) made from a large pelt such as buffalo, snow lion, or even mammoth. Footwear is sandals or slippers of hide (orraeskkild). Decoration is usually bright, geometric patterns in red, green, and white, along with stylized depictions of animals.
Ffolkki women generally wear robes of hides lined with fur (braeffikk) and cloak and sandals or slippers like that of a man. Decoration is similar to mens'.
Taboos against nudity are not present in Ffolkki society, so in warmer Ffolkki locals, it is common to see the Northern giants striding about in the nude.
Ffolkki love jewelry, especially gold, bronze, and brass, and are generally laden with it. Men weave wires of gold or bronze into their braids and beard, and wear multiple ear-rings and bangles, torcs and arm-rings. Women wear masses of gold-bead necklaces, armlets and anklets. When in the nude, as Ffolkki usually are at home, one can see pierced nipples and nether regions. In the most formal or sacred of occasions, and at war, Ffolkki may paint their nipples with gold or dyes, and paint the symbol of their clan between their eyebrows.
Ffolkki have a warlike, savage society, where the strong are the rulers, and honor and strength are high concepts. The chieftans of Ffolkki clans are often the mightiest warriors, though there has been more than one very clever ruler.
Ffolkki society is strongly patriarchal, with women often confined to the home. Men are warriors, hunters, builders, priests, while women are mothers and tribal sorceresses. Marriages are not through love; rather, they are alliances between families. Men are allowed to keep harems of women, and women are allowed to take lovers, if they wish. A wedding is a solemn ceremony performed before the eyes of the Sun God's priests.
Sexuality is very open, as one can see above, and public nudity is common.
The Ffolkki worship a multitudinous pantheon of wild warrior gods, but the highest god is the Sun God, Urrd, who created the whole Universe with a wave of his hand from the corpse of Urruu, Darkness. Other gods include Guurrat, the Father of Humanity, who taught the Ffolkki the ways of life, Mohellk, the fierce God of War and his wife, Ullraefenu, the Goddess of Beauty and Love. Also included are Urrd's Twelve Sons, gods of the twelve directions, and Twelve Daughters, goddesses of wind and weather.
Ffolkki food is hearty, meat-and-potatoes style stews, usually composed of blood-broth and whatever happens to be cast into the pot. This stew is generally consumed from a bowl, with lots of honey (an easily-gotten sweet) and great quantities of ale in tankards.
Ffolkki music is played on discs and plates of clashing copper (tuurku), hide drums of various sizes (kuurrai), slow, droning horns (fvoruum), and a bagpipe-like instrument called the vaemoldt. Singing is usually in the form of a long saga-chants, or in strange droning hums and buzzes produced deep in the throat. Ffolkki music is at times very gloomy and oppresive, and at other times wild and roaring.
Ffolkki Naming Conventions: Ffolkki men have names ending in -llk, -at, -ird, -arr, -iinand -faenr. Ffolkki women have names ending in -enu, -rro, -aem, -kiirt, and -em. The Clan name is given after the first name.
Male Name Examples: Kuurrmat, Aesellk, Fiimird, Vadiin, Lossafaener, Trinarr, Drimllk, Vaatrnarr, Kafaenr
Female Name Examples: Irkuumenu, Aestrro, Kuudaem, Taekiirt, Sem, Urro, Kasekkenu, Hunenanurro
Clan Name Examples: Sullen, Bronze, Firewing, Brighthair, Glimmerpool, Dragon, Flames, Blackhaired, Strongarm, Sword, Lionslayer, Mammothspear
Words to Remember
Clan, Honor, and Strength.
Pride: It is said among Imperials that the Blue Eyes have robes like savages but pride like eagles. Ffolkki believe that if a man cannot take pride in what he has, however little it might be, then what he has is not worth anything. Ffolkki are very prideful and many a time, this has caused Imperial-Ffolkki relations to be strained, as an Imperial Ambassador is insulted by a Ffolkki chief's refusal to meet his eyes, or by a haughty insult at his stature.
On the Roof of the World, where the Tentpole of the Sky rises from Mount Tseng-Hayang-Rinquenchompung-Langpah, there once lived a God named Su Den Xongpa, who was in charge of the snowfall. Su Den Xongpka, who was very strong, but very cowardly, liked to build little statues out of snow, which he would make to look like him, or sometimes to look like his sister, Shun Liyang Gungpo. Now, also upon the Roof of the World there dwelt the Brothers, Yuan Shi Tianchengompe Zun and Tong Tian Jiaongenche Zhu, the sons of Lo-Ukpa Wen, the God of the Farthest West Mountain. The Brothers were very mischievious, and enjoyed playin tricks, especially on Su Den Xongpka, who was so cowardly that he feared them, despite their small size. One day, the Brothers decided to ask their friend, Luongung Xu Hu, the Tiger Man, to help them scare poor Su Den Xongpka. Luongung Xu Hu was at first ambivalent, for he had been sternly warned by the Boddhisatva that he was not to leave the forest below the Roof of the World. However, the Brothers convinced him, and when night came he went onto the Roof of the World while the Mountains were sleeping. Luongung Xu Hu and the Brothers went to the house of Su Den Xongpka, and, using colorful lanterns, pretended to be ghosts, scaring Su Den Xongpka out of his house. Su Den Xongpka ran in fear from the "ghosts" and ran and ran and ran until he came to the cave where he kept his little snow-statues. But when he came in, he struck his head on the roof, and his scalp was cut. His blood dripped onto the stone statues, and low and behold, one by one, they awoke, and yawned, and opened small dark eyes at him.
And that is how the Qi were made, or so their legends say.
The Qi are a small, stout people, with males standing 5'3"-5'7" (160-170 cm) and females 4'10"-5'4" (147-163 cm). They are inclined to have a little more padding around the middle than most, though it is often a sign of wealth and status if one can eat enough to be fat in a Qi city. Qi have relatively flat, plane-less faces, with wide noses and v-shaped mouths that give an impression of a constant smile. Their eyes are slanted and almond-shaped, with epicanthic folds, and are usually brown. Qi have shiny, straight, heavy hair that is usually black or very dark brown, though in the east, where their territory bounds with that of the Ffolkki, there are some red-haired folk. Qi men grow their hair long, about to the middle of the back; they sometimes braid it, or wear it in a top-knot. Qi women do likewise, but pin their hair behind their heads in elaborate styles.
Both men and women of the Qi wear the same complicated garment, called collectively, the dieng qai. The dieng qai starts with a knee-length tunic of light cloth (dieng su ko), belted (dieng su timpucho). Over this tunic goes a second, knee-length robe of similar make, the inside lined with wool (dieng su kampchi). This robe is then covered in an ankle-length, fur-lined jacket of leather and silk (dieng fuchuengomp). Feet are girded with socks (din de map) and leather slippers (rimpak pa sue). The coat is usually decorated in repeating, naturalistic patterns, such as leaves, dancing animals, or stars.
Qi wear little jewelry, for their religion stresses humility. What they do wear is usually religious in purpose- necklaces or anklets of prayer beads, a colorful belt of jade prayer-tabs, or ear-rings of jade in the shape of mythical animals.
Qi society is very religion-dominated. Each Qi city-state is ruled by a Lama, a priest-king who has power of life and death over every Qi under his eye. All Qi make many prayers a day, and all their cities exist as massive temples. Other Qi cities are not theocracies, but autocracies, military war-cities ruled by warrior kings called Dawan.
Qi are a male-dominated society, but women are not as repressed as they are in other such places. Qi women, in fact, have a very important role- they are the keepers of finances, of knowledge, and all bureaucrats are women.
Qi, despite their theological leanings, are a happy people, who try not to let the icy climes and fierce Gods weigh down their souls. It is said that Sung Wa Gorthangpo, the first Lama of the city of Lakpa, laughed for seven years, and that was how he became a Saint.
The Qi primarily worship the Boddhisatva, a human being who ascended to enlightenment through a path of righteousness. The Boddhisatva, and the Saints, other enlightened beings, serve as a way for mankind to escape the whims of fate set out by the other Gods, who are fierce and demonic in their leanings. Gods of the Qi are numerous, with thousands of local gods for each city, road, and mountain, as well as general spirits, and various other beings not easily classified, and each is given its due worship, though only to stave off the Gods' anger while one seeks enlightenment. The Qi maintain that, originally, the Ancients, the elder Gods, climbed down the the Tentpole of the Sky and created the Gods that Men know. These lesser Gods were originally pure, like an enlightened being, but by dwelling upon the Earth, they became tainted, and thus, so are Men. But the Ancients, taking pity on Men, gave the Boddhisatva the means to enlightenment.
Qi cuisine is similar to Imperial cuisine, but is much more comprised of proteins. Meat and beer are central, replacing grain, and fork-like utencils are used to eat.
Qi music is played on a variety of chimes (shuengxi; these are also important in religious rituals), flutes (xiompak), gongs (dailon) and drums (gunpoche). The music has a tendency to be slow and loud, sounding somewhat pompous. Their singing is low and chant-like, accompanied by yodels and throat-buzzes.
Qi Naming Traditions: The Qi have up to four names, according to social rank. The Lama, and the Dawan all have four names, while priests, warriors, and merchants have three. Anyone less has two names.
Male Name Examples: Gorthangpo, Lakba, Anchang, Gwengdao, Xioadeng, Wa, Lee, Junfan, Gaoungpeng, Chukumpo, Fanchen, Ma, Thongdrol, Dzomang, Konchong
Female Name Examples: Jiy, Yanchangi, Lingche, Saobe, Ningenchoa, Thumpukiy, Yami, Omgonchendei, Wemfungden, Soe, Mei, Tsengdre, Tschenshan
Words to Remember
The Five Virtues- Good Thought, Good Action, Understanding, Peace, Concentration.
Gods- There's a lot of them, and you've gotta' pacify them all.
Happiness- We are all going to die and live again until we're enlightened, so we might as well be happy about it.
Obedience- Somewhat like the Imperial concept of Duty.
(More to come...)