The historians' distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending interests , where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual.
The Spiked Sea as explained by the Oracles of Dahkturin-Beneath-the-Kazan
The Spiked Sea received its name from southern merchants who first observed sea ice upon sailing into its waters. To northerns it was known as the Warkra sea. Prior to 500 years ago there were 6 volcanic islands of roughly the same size in the sea. They were inhabited by a stone age tribal people known as the Warkra that successfully exploited the resources of the sea and engaged in basic agriculture upon their islands. Roughly 500 years ago the God Saulke was stricken by grief and hurled himself into the Spiked sea destroying two of the Warkra islands in the process and creating a legendary tidal wave upon all the shores of the Spiked Sea. His body formed two large islands, that were perpetually covered in snow and ice. Eighty three years ago a group of refugees, exiled Nobles, from Vartanadel struck a bargain with Saulke. They would provide Saulke with a human bride who would live as his chaste wife in a cloister on the island and he would ensure that the two islands made from his body would be in a constant state of spring. After a brief and one sided conflict with natives of Warkra islands, the Vartandel exiles set up prosperous alliance of estates upon the two islands. The culture of Saulkement is extremely stratified. The Vartanadel exiles brought to the islands their families and their slaves (known to the Vartandel simply as chattel). The Islands' eternal spring season supports three harvests a year and the chattel work the fields to the great benefit of their masters who export argiculture goods (wine, grain, fruit) and lumber to areas all over the continent. More recently the Vartans (as they are now known) have also taken to whaling and seal hunting, those these are seen as occupations fit only for the lesser members of the Vartan houses. It is feared by the Nobles that giving the chattel the tools necessary to carry out these hunting tasks would be dangerous. Saulkement is devoid of mineral wealth and has no mining or quarrying of any kind. Stone and metal are precious commodities and the Vartanadel exiles are beginning to eye the other islands of the Spiked Sea and they see the Warkra as obstacles.
The only city on the island is Hulan, the location of the Cloister and the edge of the great Saul forest. Here the first family of the Saulkements (Hulan) has their estates and oversees the islands' timber industry. Yet most of the population live in rural estates in which the Nobles enjoy a lavish life style. The social season of the Island nobility is as constant as the spring and the continous interactions of the rich at retreats takes the place of formal government. Though outwardly the Saulkement islands and the exile community appears quite stable there is a great deal of internal intrigue and shifting alliances which define the power struggles within the island. They do not have strong unified government, but the oligargy so far has remained small and is striking the same anvil with regard to most things. One unifying factor of the Saulkement nobility is their sense of entitlement and betrayal. The exiled Nobles hold a strong desire to return to Vartanadel and reclaim their hereditary rights even though they do not have the military and economic means or motivation to do so.
The History of the Saulkement Islands
by Rachel the 3rd
The two largest islands in the Spiked Sea, both referred to as Saulkement, were formed when the God Saulke was rejected by his wife Favopodees in favor of his brother Bragge. In his grief and despair Saulke descend from the heaven and sat down in the sea (destroying two other islands in the process) to weep and try to ply pity form Favopodees. His body now makes up the two islands of Saulke. For at least 500 years the two islands were an icy wasteland that filled whoever visited with grief, sorrow and the pangs of a broken heart. During this time of ever winter even the sea bird and mammals were not always immune for the ebbs and flows of Saulke's despair. So frequent were whale beachings on the Saulkements that the ice eyed pale skinned gold haired inhabitants of the four remaining white islands gave up traditional whaling in favor of the scanning the coasts for freshly beached beasts. (The occasional suicides and the lingering depression associated with a week or so in a whaling camp on the beaches of Saulkement still proved safer than kayak and spear whaling).
Things changed on Saulkement 83 years ago when a family of high born Vartanadel Nobles, displaced when their King decided to Ghost all their hereditary rights and claim that all personal property was indeed a King's Trust, found them selves on the rocky icy beach of western Saulkiment. In their company was young woman of 19 and that woman would be the spark of change that gave us the modern Saulkement Island. The current priest of Saulke say that on that day their God awoke from his sleep to begin another fit of supernatural weeping and self-pity, but was given pause by the sight of this strange woman. She resembled Favopodees so much that for a moment Saulke for got his grief. The sky opened up over Saulkement and warm breeze washed over the beach were the woman stood. He soon realized his mistake but yet was still very fond of this woman that remind him of his lost love. He melted much of the glaciers that filled the island, leaving numerous fresh water lakes and streams. He manifest fruiting shrubs (the Saulberry was born), filled the streams and lakes with fish and called crabs and shellfish up to the beaches. This family of Noble and their entire household set up the first estate on Saulkement. Equally as important as the 19 year old girl among the merchant's family was the merchant's sister-in-law, Rachel (Soon to be known as Rachel the 1st). She was aware that they were in the presence of a divine miracle and was also aware of precarious divine miracles. With the help of the white island natives she learned the story of the islands origins. More than that she located Saulke's Head, resting in glacier on the north of island. His face was covered in stone and ice from 500 years of immobile grief, but in cracked enough to speak when Rachel addressed.
Saulke poured his aching and immortal heart out to Rachel and she did him the great and heroic favor listening. By her own account Rachel listened for forty days she listened, eating no food but the Saulberrys she had gathered and drinking only water. After Saulke was done enumerating the injuries bestowed on him by his wife and brother, the painful indifference of the other gods, his futile attempts to explain this to others, and his fervent hope that Favopodees is happy even though he knows she could not be because of the guilt and shame she must feel for what she did to him. On the fortieth day Saulke explained that the 19-year-old girl in Rachel's brother-in-law's house reminded him so much of Favopodees that it also reminded him of joy. Saulke said 'I will keep this, my body, warm and tender for as a long as she is her. But I see that see is leaving today, so tomorrow I will again be covered with the bitter ice of betrayal.' Rachel quickly struck up a bargain with Saulke and as part of that bargain Saulke gave Rachel one his eight eyes. Rachel hurried back to the estate, but the girl was already a league out to sea and the snow was already a foot deep.
Luckily for her brother-in-law's estate, and the future of the Saulkement Island Rachel was able to bring the girl back before the next day with the help of her allies among the White Island natives. Rachel became the first Priestess of Saulkement and that 19-year-old woman became the first Favorim. The two islands of Saulkement became lands of constant spring (save for the glacier were Saulke still lays his grief stricken head), no hot summers and no harsh winters. More and more exiled merchants brought their estates to the island Rachel oversaw construction of the Favorim cloister and the formation of the Priestess of Saulkement. The original Noble family required that each Noble house that arrived make a donation to the maintenance of the cloister and send three women to serve as Priestess in the cloister. To these demands the arriving Noble houses agreed.
The first Favorim lived in the cloister for 12 years of perfect spring, but in her 13th year in the cloister there was one day of snow on the Islands. In her 14th year in the cloister, there were two days of snow. Rachel noted that this coincided with the number of grey hairs forming on Favorims head. As time began to deteriorate Favorim, the perfect spring of the Saulkement Island began to deteriorate as well. The Nobles began to demand a better return on their investments. Rachel the 1st, still alive and vigorous at this time, and in consultation with Saulke decided to replace Favorim. With some painful experimentation, now known to Saulkement residents as the first winter, Rachel found a girl among the newly arrived merchant families. She moved this new Favorim into the cloister and the old Favorim was allowed to retire. The criteria for the Favorim is as follows: she must be young with very few lines about her eyes and mouth, she must have all of her front 12 teeth and they must be straight, she must be 1.8 meters tall with black hair worn half way down her back. Her hair must be so fine that a comb can pass through 40 times with out a snag. Her nose must extend more than 2.2 cm from her face but not more than 3cm. Her eyes must be brown. Her hands must be between 8 and 8.4cm in length. She must have never been with child and can never weigh more than 70 kgs. These are not always easy criteria to meet, but Vartanadel Noble are currently on the 11th Favorim. Inside the cloister Favorim lives under the watch of Saulke's eye and catered to by the Priestesses of Saulke. Favorim can have no encounters with men while she is the Favorim, she can only eat food from the Saulkement islands and she cannot leave the western island.
The high priestess is Rachel, she is responsible for the yearly 40-day communion with Saulke and she is responsible for managing the cloister's resources. The Cloister is currently under the command of Rachel the 5th, she was chosen from the ranks of the priestess (all members of the wealthily estate holding families) once Rachel the 4th had passed her. Like the Favorim the Rachel cannot be married and can have no children. This criterion is not held to other Priestess, only Rachel and those wishing to become Rachel.
There is always a winter associated with the changing of Favorims and an economic loss due to this winter. Favorims five through ten did not serve more than five years, with the shortest being two years. This was the idea of the third Rachel; she suggested that the Favorims not give up their whole lives and thus managed a wide search for volunteers that fit the criteria. This system my have led to more frequent winters but it provided a stable and humane means of fulfilling the Vartananadel's promise to Saulke. The elders of the estates disliked these frequent winters and thus the fourth Rachel came to power with the promise of bringing in a young Favorim that would serve for at least a decade. She promised to spare no effort in acquiring such a girl. Indeed the current Favorim has held Saulke's attention for 13 years without a winter or even 'a cold breeze'. Rachel the 4th presided over a decade of unprecedented economic prosperity on Saulkement, but she passed. The new Rachel is the youngest Rachel ever and also manages the richest cloister coffer in its 80-year history. But her Favorim is turning 30, and Rachel the 4th left her with no successor to the current Favorim.
People's history of the Warkra Sea
The Warkra fisherman, bundled up in three layer suits hand made from the skins of cold water cetaceans, were paddling their skin and bone kayaks through seas with 10ft high waves in freezing water. The Warkra kayak sits its occupants so close to the freezing water that the Vartanadel sea merchants often thought they were corpses floating upright in the water. No experienced sailor would every confuse a human figure floating in the Warkra Sea for anything but a corpse, the waters of the Warkra sea this time of year would freeze a grown man in 20 breaths. But the Warkra needed to brave the cold waters, their entire existence was supported by and built upon harvesting the whales that beached themselves along the White Islands. On this day eight brave Warkra fisherman had traveled 60 miles on the open sea, dragging heavy unwieldy cargo canoes behind their kayaks. They had traveled not knowing what they would find, but only hoping to bring back food to their families. On this day they were hungry, tired and cold, but when they saw the great Vartanadel wooden ship dragged upon the shores of the Great White Island they rushed forward to help.
The Warkra assumed the boat had been pulled in by the 'wyrd' of the Island. Despite their limited stores and their desperate need for those stores the Warkra immediately offered the Vartans food clothing, and anything else these strangers might need. Pavel Hulan, the leader of that Vartanadel men wrote this about the Warkra in his journal.
Today the sea finally began to overtake the Kornin and I was forced to beach her, my personal ship, on an island seemingly over run with ice and devoid of life or vegetable. Many of my chattel had grown despondent over the upon seeing the sight of land and my eldest son had to lash three of them to death before the others could be compelled to drag the ship above the tide line (an additional five were lost in cold water upon the landing). An expensive day, all though one marked with the seeds of opportunity. A group of natives from the Island quickly approached us and began to make offering of food and clothing. I immediedtly set my family upon them to determine the location of their larger village or settlement. I plan to use these lesser men...begin replacing my lost chattel within the month.
All chroniclers from foreign nations have described three common traits among the Warkra peoples: generosity, hospitality and xenophilia. These traits were seen as shockingly primitive by Vartanadel Ghosts that settled what would become known as the Saulkement islands. The Vartans' basic sense of human value and worth were distorted by the mores of rank, privilege and divine ascendancy that dominated the Vartanadel peninsula at the time. The Warkra were a people incapable of hatred. They didn't even have a words for worthy and worthless or justified and criminal or stranger and friend. All those concepts fell under the Warkra concept of wyrd. Wyrd was something everything possessed and it be roughly defined as 'that objects place in the universe'. When they saw the Vartan's on the White Island they knew that were seeing a different wyrd, perhaps a misplaced wyrd and they felt duty bound to help protect and restore the Vartan's wyrd.
But that was not the Vartan's world view. Soon after Hulan made the above journal entry the miracle of Saulkement happened, and what were the two glacial islands which the Warkra had referred to for centuries as the White Island because of the constant snow fall, became lands of eternal spring. Naturally the Warkra began to leave their small cold islands to take their part in the new bounty. Quite unnaturally the Vartans were unwilling to share. As the Hulan family lead more and more Vartanadel exiles to the islands, more and more conflicts arose with the Warkra. Unlike the Warkra the Vartanadel nobles felt they were entitled to ascendancy over all. The Vartans chased the Warkra from the Saulkements, trying to enslave them when they could. Hulan wrote this about the Warkra
These gold hair natives are little more than animals, they are unable to following any instruction and cannot be counted on to carry a single task to completion. Like a mad donkey they would rather die under the lash than move a single step in a harness. There is no place for them on Saulkement.
The Warkra that survived were denied entrance to paradise and were forced to remain on their original four islands. The Vartan's genocidal plans have extended to denying the Warkra fishing rights within sight of any Saulkement coastline. It is estimated that the Warkra population is 1/5 of what it was before the Saulkement miracle.
The World as of this Writing:
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? Responses (10)
a very rich environment you have created, axle - I love what you have done with it!
I can see plenty of uses for this place too. For example, a plot: The current Favorim has been murdered! The lands have turned to ice and there have been no replacement Favorims lined up as the death was unexpected! Indeed, there don't seem to be any women currently on the isle that fit the required description! The PC's must hunt down a willing replacement - whether it be on the island, or perhaps they must venture out into the rest of Decathros to find her! This, obviously is top priority, but as soon as they return with the replacement a new priority has emerged; who murdered the previous Favorim, and why!?
I love the multiple histories you have.
It impresses me what different views can come out of different peoples' minds: I had not had anything like this in mind when I drew it, but that's the idea. It will make this world rich and diverse, to see what everyone else comes up with.
Ah, also: If someone is gloomy and upset, in a bad temper, people often will say they are 'Saulking' in homage to the depressed god. Classic.
ah ha, I see you already had that plot pegged out in the forum thread, Axle :D Good show.
The multiple separate histories, written by the different people, was a great method. I especially like how the difference in perspective changed from the warkra just being a pest to explaining their side.
On the subject of Warkra, I personally think that they are too innocent. You have made them a society that does not hate, or have enemies. I think that any human culture is going to have some degree of competition. And competition spawns rivalries, which spawn enemies. And, if they were living on the four small islands, they'd probably not meet the people on the northern one. But this is a detail, and I won't mark you down for it.
Other than that, it had all the classic elements of excellence: depressed gods, a hard won miracle, and islands who just hate gray hairs. Good job, Axelrowes.
'You have made them a society that does not hate, or have enemies'
well I made this the view of the third author
travel from the southern Islands to the North Island is something I discuss slightly in the other posts about the area, But why do you think stone age people can't travel to distant islands?
Axle, I had promised to vote on this in exchange for your comment on my Fengshui (although I don't know whether you took notice or not). Anyway, finally I've finished reading this but I'm currently a bit torn over what score to give it- in particular, I'm choosing b/w 4.5 and a full score.
Onto the actual comments: I don't have any objections to the content and I love the 3 perspectives on history and esp. the opening blockquote. The idea of Warkra being a society incapable of hatred to me could possibly arise due to their living environment being resource-rich relative to their own population (prob. not the case here) or other things such as cultural belief that make them absolutely content with their current ways of life (I know, some ppl would start saying this is contrary to human nature which always chases after what it doesn't have but then in documentaries, sometimes you also see ppl living in less developed places and living a sort of hunt/forage life that are perfectly happy with their ways of living. And that's my personal take on these Warkra).
I do, however, have a slight issue with the formatting. As it currently stands, I find it ultra hard to read in one seating (and I actually read this piece bit by bit), esp. the History by Rachel 3rd. This is a length issue obviously but also, I think it will help improve the readability of the Rachel 3rd section if it was broken up a bit with blockquotes like the People's History of the Warkra Sea section. In addition, while I like the mythical feel of the tale of Saulke and Rachel's encounter with him, somewhat lacking is a more personal voice that will strengthen the atmosphere of this legendary encounter.
Sorry, Axle, couldn't vote full marks on this even though I was really tempted. My 5 are reserved for those that I deem perfection (i.e. wouldn't change a thing) or sweep me off my feet/keep my eyes glued at first sight. Nevertheless, this is still a high quality sub and adds great depth to the world of Decathros. In fact, now I will be eagerly following Decathros subs.
This is good stuff. By reading the multiple histories, you really get a feel for the different peoples and attitudes in the Spiked Sea. The tale of Saulke stands out to me in particular. The one thing I'd like to know more re: the Favorim is the reason for the specific measurements. They remind me the Thirty-two Excellent Signs, the external characteristics that are supposed to mark a Buddha. Those each had a specific purpose; e.g., His bodily hair grows upwards, from his having engaged in constructive practices and having inspired others to do the same. I wonder if there's a specific reason for Favorims to have such perfect measurements, or is Saulke just extraordinarily picky?
The formatting does leave something to be desired, and some of the grammar is stream-of-consciousness sloppy. But the meat is here, and it is succulent.
Saulke is just really picky... .
This is really nifty - there is a lot of places where this could go. Good stuff!
5/5 JUST WOW!!!!!!