The Plains of Ermus sprawl across the center of the continent, divided amongst a number of nations. Villages spring up to take advantage of the fertile soil. Cities rise along trade routes across national borders. And yet, despite this, the plains are so indescribably vast that they cannot be fully patrolled, and so, they are also the home to any number of tribes of nomads and raiders. And the most feared of these is no doubt the Aurelyans.
Remarkably capable horsemen, the Aurelyans raid with speed and precision - those who live in fear of them claim that one horseman fights like ten normal men. More experienced officers and sages scoff at such boasts, saying that, at most, one Aurelyan is worth two or three rank-and-file soldiers. And yet, their raids go unstopped.
When not pillaging, the Aurelyans have been known to hire themselves off as mercenaries, and even to open their camps to traders. The tribe itself boasts perhaps 500-850 individuals.
Aurelyans are humans, and stand tall and lean, rarely falling below 5’8". They typically have long brown or red hair, and beards are common among their men. Scars and deformities are almost non-existent.
In peace, they tend towards loose-fitting garb, often wearing hoods and boots
The Aurelyan tongue is somewhat strange in sound, and they tend to have moderately thick accents when speaking other languages.
A typical Aurelyan raiding party consists of roughly forty men and women - enough to deal with a village and its militia without any real trouble, but not much more. When the tribe is threatened, however, several hundred capable horsemen can take the field. This is, however, a rare occurence.
The typical Aurelyan warrior carries a spear and two or three long darts. The spear bears a heavy knob on the end opposite the tip, suitable for beating in the heads of those who come to close. Typically, the warrior also bears a shield, with a notch cut into the top to serve as a resting place for the spear, should the horseman need to strike at a foe on the other side of his mount.
He wears a suit of thick leathers, perhaps with metal studs. A pair of iron plates are sewn to the outside of his legs, for added protection while riding.
The horsemen are generally experienced raiders, and difficult to catch off guard.
An understanding of the Aurelyan’s faith is key to an understanding of them as a people.
The Aurelyans are essentially monotheistic, revering a single god known Gnorgus, the Undivided. According to their legends, their once existed only two deities, Gnorgus and Amnion, each a supreme ruler. The two fought, and Gnorgus cut Amnion into hundred of pieces. Each of these pieces then grew into the deity of a specific portfolio - fire, war, etc. This new host prepared to attack Gnorgus, but before they could do so, he jumped on his horse and rode away. Hence, he, unlike, Amnion, remained Undivided.
Therefore, while the Aurelyans do not deny the existence of other gods, they see them as unnecessary - Gnorgus is still a god of everything, and so worshipping him covers all bases.
From this legend, the Aurelyans glean two of their most important ideals.
First, the Aurelyans believe that they are Gnorgus’s chosen people because they have always remained Undivided. They have never split into smaller tribes or clans. To further this idea, men and women fight together in battle, to belittle the differences of sex. Should a warrior lose a limb, or even acquire a simple scar, he will likely be shunned by his fellows for the remainder of his life.
Some scholars have speculated that this is why the Aurelyans plunder - they seek to gather all of the wealth of the world into one, cohesive whole. This is most likely a load of hogwash.
Second, and perhaps equally relevant to the Aurelyans, is the idea of Running Away. To them, fleeing from a more powerful foe is wise and honorable, rather than any sort of cowardice. Hence, it is rare to see them try to conquer a foe they cannot defeat. Indeed, even if a man challenges the chieftain for rulership of the tribe, should he decide he is outclassed and successfully flee during the fight, no actions will be taken against him when he returns.
The tribe’s leader is usually its finest horseman or best strategist, and cam be male or female. Disputes are traditionally settled through ritual combat - usually from horseback, and always to the death or flight of one of the combatants.
When dealing with diplomats from other nations or cultures, the Aurelyans are quite tolerant. They are usually willing to accept tribute in order to stop raiding, and are often open to mercenary contracts. Nonetheless, the Aurelyans have no respect for those who do not understand the idea of Undivision. Should they be contacted by a diplomat who is missing limbs, they will be quite insulted, although they will probably be willing to overlook minor scars. Similarly, they have no desire to deal with excessively patriarchal or matriarchal societies.
Aurelyans tend to set up two types of camps, overnight and long-term. The former are most often set up by travelling raiders, and do not welcome visitors, though they may take a moment to direct someone towards the long-term camp. Although the camp itself will look like a disarray of leather tents and campfires, it almost certainly will have been set up in a fashion to allow the horsemen to pack up and leave in a brief period of time.
Long-term camps are where travelers and diplomats would be greeted. These camps will also consist primarily of leather tents, but will be deployed in a method more conducive to travel about. A few wooden buildings - temples and meeting halls - will be found, but these buildings are designed to be easily disassembled for transport, and this is evident in their appearance - they tend to be simple and lacking in decoration, and often appear to be well-worn. The wider avenues between tents will be used for shops during the day, as merchants will set up stalls a slight ways in from the street’s edge. Horses will be prevented from walking between the stalls, saving shoppers and visitors from the indignity of treading in horse waste. Smaller streets lack this safety, however. Merchants will be found selling supplies, small decorative items such as carvings and jewelry, and weapons, and little else. Aurelyans are generally self-sufficient.
The tents will typically be deployed in a circle about a large fire pit, which the temple and meeting hall sit on either side of. The tent entrances will face this fire, and the fire will be lit every night, at which time stories will be told and victories recounted.
Aurelyan horses are trained to respond to any rider using the proper Aurelyan technique, so horses will be stabled throughout the camp, allowing for lightning-fast reaction in the event of an attack, although this reaction will often be to grab the horses, people, and gold, and run. Tents and wood can be replaced lives cannot.
Though Aurelyans live by the codes of their faith, they rarely hold any sort of services or holidays. Rather, the priests generally serve more as advisors and guides, hoping to keep their people strong through Undivision.
The Aurelyans tend to trade for or simply take those things which they cannot make for themselves. When cut off from trading opportunities, the Aurelyans have been known to enslave villagers, using them to construct the things the horsemen need. Similarly, when trade is good, the Aurelyans tend to engage in less pillaging.
Magic and Technology
It is rare for an Aurelyan to have the gift of being able to channel magic, but when it does appear, it is often strong, if rarely pursued.
The Aurelyans are essentially in the technological Dark Ages. They do not have access to steel, nor do they make metal armors.
Language and Names
A Few Choice Words:
Kul (kull) - Son
Kui (kwee) - Daughter
Y (ee) - The
Ya (ee-AH) - My
Yk (eek) - Your
Yl (eel) - That
Yok (ee-OK) - Horse
Syl (seel) - Gold
Syk (seek) - Valuables
Phykos (FEE-kos) - Idiot (curse)
Yoksti (ee-OK-stee) - May your horse kick your head in (curse)
Sen (sen) - Great, Wise
Phee (fee) - Beautiful
Dal (dal) - Links the next to words in meaning; as, like
Aurelyan names are often simply words chosen from their vocabulary, and mixed together with random syllables if necessary. ‘Dalyokphee,’ for instance, is a popular girl’s name, but essentially means ‘As beautiful as a horse.’
Surnames usually simply denote one of the parents - often the more capable. For example, a man might have the surname Sendroskul, or Sendros’s son, while his sister might be Sendroskui.