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Movers and Shakers - background information

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EchoMirage:
The afterlife

What happens to one's soul after it sheds the mortal coil? Is there life after death? What becomes of us, how will we be judged?

Every soul is inherently flawed for it is made of the substance of the Void's Prisoner, and must strive to improve, lest it falls prey to its inherent vice. That is the origin of many an ill.

After death, the soul has several options: if it was strongly affiliated with a deity, in resonance and harmony with its theme and purpose, it will fly towards it, and may become one with it, become one of its celestials, or return to the world to be born anew. Celestials are widely varied in both their capabilities and purpose - some are able to manifest and do the deity's bidding, while most manage to serve as guardian spirits at most.
Many souls do not have a sufficiently strong affinity to a deity, and wander to Sahud's halls, where they exist in a dreamlike state, resting after the rigors of life. The Keeper of Souls will cleanse them, and send them to be reborn, sorting out the most flawed and dissolving them back into raw creation.

While memories of previous lives are hard to keep, souls usually do become wiser with each life - one can notice this especially in hot-headed and inconsiderate individuals, who seem to have to learn every lesson the hard way, and also in especially insightful persons, who are aware of their flaws and strive to improve and learn.

Resurrection is possible, yet has to happen soon after death; once a soul has wandered into a deity's realm or undergone cleansing at the hands of Sahud, no cleric has power to call it back. Souls that were serene and experienced closure in their lives do linger a day or two at most, while those with unfinished business will stay near the world a couple of weeks, a month at most before Sahud's servants collect them.

EchoMirage:
The Dominium of Morskoi, Part 1

Established basically by one man over the course of one generation, the Dominium is an assembly of colonies scattered over a dozen islands.
The Dominar started out as a mercenary leader of twenty years, and siezed his first holding in a bloody coup d’etat, with the enthusiastic help of the former lord’s wife. Even then possessed of exceptional charisma, he sucessfuly led a rag-tag horde of of brigands from the four corners of the world as an organized force, to sieze land in an opportunistic fashion wherever they could.
Contrary to all expectations, the titled and landed criminals became a nobility of sorts, overseen by a caring yet (rightfully) dreadd patriarch; indeed, the Dominar had mastered the way of sugar and whip.
Much to his detractors’ envy, wherever the Dominium conquered, women would fall for the ruthless rogue, and he took them as wives; his relationships to his ladies and his word are two things he deems sacred.
Graying, the Dominar saw scores of progeny grow up all over the isles; he had them schooled well – at least those who took to schooling – and therafter tested. One never knows what the real test is, and what just an everyday task, thus the progeny rather stay on their toes and keep their wits about them. Meanwhile, without noticing, they grow up to be capable administrators and leaders – at least those who succeed; dreading their father’s stern gaze yet yearning for his respect, they strive to outdo each other to be the one who receives the Iron Crown of the Dominium one day.

Mainly a naval power, the Dominium gains a large portion of its income from trade, payments for safe passage, various industries in its colonies; it also rents out its regiments as mercenaries when they’re not needed and just sit at home, becoming more restless and harder to control from sheer idleness. Pillaging and piracy are also major pastimes of the Dominium, much to the chagrin of its neighbors.

The armed forces consist mainly of swift sailing ships and light infantry, with sky ray cavalry employed as scouts. Naval operations are assisted by the Changelings – men and women in a symbiotic relationship with a unique cephalopod that can join with a human and keep him alive underwater.
Troopers most often wear hardened leather fashioned from the tough hides of sea ceatures, heavier armor is worn only by a few shock troops and the rare cavalry. Furthermore, men protect themselves with large oval shields.
Weapons of choice are spears, crossbows and curved blades; being a warlike culture, every man knows how to handle a saber. Likewise, openly carrying weapons is the norm. Beside these common armaments, many martial schools focusing on a variety of more or less absurd weapons exist.
In naval battles, ballistae and catapults are still the mainstay, with cannons beginning to gain purchase. The naval doctrine also values a variety of thaumic devices highly, whether elemental projectors, storm-callers or the much-maligned Thumper, which is basically just concentrated disturbance, balled up into a mean package.

Culturally, the Dominion resembles a potpourri and a sponge at the same time, picking up debased customs from the variety of peoples it unites, as well as anything fancy from its neighbors. Those same neighbors do consider the Dominium tasteless, but politely and wisely avoid commenting.
Bright and flashy attires are in vogue, especially those made of exotic furs and leathers; decorated armors are a staple of male fashion as well – a man will have his everyday armor intended for serious use, and a fashionable one for social activities. Displaying one’s wealth openly is commonplace; likewise is carrying a good percentage of the same wealth on one’s person, especially in young men who do not own land yet.
As a noticeable percetage of young men do not live to found a family, polygamy is commonplace. An acceptable life’s path is to first adventure and campaign, earn a fortune and then to settle. Self-rpomotion, gathering renown and a healthy dose of bragging are all essential aspects of the lifestyle, as are various contests, official or informal.

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