The Brave People
Isolated from the known world by the seemingly endless watery wastes of the fabled Vaet Ocean, the Eshal rule the watery continent of Tarrod with an iron fist, ever ready to carry out plundering raids on the subject races at the slightest excuse. Proudly calling themselves the Brave People,the Eshal are a race of savage warriors and fanatics that are driven by the consuming need to find an ever larger number of victims to feed the monstrous thing known simply as the Matriarch .
The Eshal are an amphibious race, akin to soft fish, in the sense that they do not have scales, or bony extrusions.
The Eshal are an amphibious race, akin to soft fish, in the sense that they do not have scales, or bony extrusions.
Locomotion within the water is primarily driven by the large paddle like tail. The limbs, which are small in comparison to the limbs of the Anura are kept tucked up close to the body. Within the water, the Eshal are more than capable of breathing water indefinitely. If changing from salt to fresh, or fresh to salt water they have to make a slow adjustment period or suffer a sort of chemical shock if they try to make the change too quickly.
Locomotion on land is dealt with through small fore and hind limbs. Each forelimb ends an a manipulative webbed hand that has seven digits, six ‘fingers’ and a grasping ‘thumb’. Breathing air is possible, but only as long as the Eshal is able to retain a high percentage of moisture. Drying out is lethal to them as it is to the Cuada, and the Anura as well. As a rule of thumb, anything bad for a frog, will be bad for these three races. Thus, when exploring the surface, the Eshal often wear all-enveloping loose cloaks made from kelp which are meant to shield them from the dehydrating rays of the sun.
The average Eshal is twelve to fifteen feet long, and carries itself two to three feet from the ground. On land they are quick, and efficient hunters, their wicked spiked teeth making short work of small mammals and other denizens of the wrack. In the water, they prey primarily on fish. The head is large and well developed with enlarged jaw muscles, and a larynx that is sophisticated enough to work both above and below water. Their large gaping maws allow them to close their mouths over most prey species and swallow them whole with the exception of very large fish. Barbs protruding from their forelimbs enable them to snag fish on their limbs. All Eshal possess an extremely keen sense of smell, enabling them to detect prey in the water very easily.
The Matriach and her children
The Eshal are ruled by a supreme ruler called the Emperor. He and his siblings are the offspring of the Matriarch. Worshiped as a Goddess by the Eshal,only the brood of this being are able to occupy the throne of the Brave People.
Deep beneath the vaults of the massive, submerged palace of the Emperor, lies the bloated behemoth that the Eshal so adore. Measuring five hundred feet from massive snout to gargantuan tail, she lies in an almost comatose state, slumbering in the massive cavern that she never leaves. It would not be an exaggeration to call her the life-giver of the Eshal for without her, their glory would not exist. She is old beyond the reckoning of time, predating the history of her people and is revered as a priceless gift from the Gods Of Water.
When the current emperor dies, a great sacrifice is held. Hundreds of bound slaves are led by priests into the cavern of the Matriarch. There they are bled by the late Emperor’s sibling. It is then that the Matriarch awakens, pulled out of her slumber by the rich, tantalizing scent
of spilled blood. With her gaping maw, she devours the sacrificial victims. As their mother sates her voracious hunger, her surviving children, the brothers of the deceased emperor, proceed to incite themselves into a religious frenzy and then with suicidal abandon, proceed to hurl themselves into the jaws of the Matriarch, joyful that they will now join their late sibling in the land of the gods. When her hunger is finally appeased with the flesh of her own children, she lays a clutch of eggs, before lapsing back into her endless slumber. Her new progeny is collected by the lesser priests and watched carefully by them. The first hatchling to emerge is declared the Emperor and the rest are selected to become the High Priests that conduct the sacred sacrifices and help their elder brother and lord govern his vast realm. It only takes a week for the hatchlings to mature and take over their duties.
The Eshal have a uniqe means of communicating with one another. Due to their absence of vocal chords which limits their verbal communication to the crudest and limited exchanges, Ehsal biology has provided the Brave People with an alternate means of communication. Eshal are capable of suffusing their bodies with a dazzling variety of luminescent colors that range from a soft peach to a bright electric blue. Subtle differences between the various gradations of color that an Eshal can produce often convey very different meanings. Hence an Eshal that turned a murky yellow is indicating that he is hungry in contrast to an Eshal with a somewhat brighter shade of yellow who wishes to signal the fact that his appetite has been sated. The knowledge of the meanings attached to the various shades of color secreted by their hides is purely instinctive, stemming from a deeply rooted biological trait.
Eshal society is extremely hierarchical with supreme authority resting in the hands of the Emperor and his siblings. Claiming to share an innate bond with the Matriarch, they are revered as the speakers of her will and are hence obeyed unquestioningly. Indeed, they are worshiped as demigods in their own right with annual sacrifices offered to them annually. Since the Matriarch herself is regarded as an important deity who outranks even the mighty Gods of Water in terms of divine authority, it is only natural that her offspring are given an important role in running the empire.
The empire is divided into four regions, with the emperor ruling the central one that contains his capital as well as vast plantations of sea-weed and kelp that are manned by his merfolk salves. Adjoining his vast estates are located the small adjoining plots of kelp and sea weed run by thousands of Eshal smallholders who render their lord a yearly tribute of kelp and fish as well their labor which they employ in enlarging his already massive palace. His brothers similarly govern and rule the surrounding regions of the empire from their own provincial capitals and also maintain their regime via the exaction of kelp and fish from the local peasantry as well as labor for the erection of defensive fortifications.
The emperor and his siblings perform both and administrative and religious function. Reflecting the dual nature of the Eshal empire, their palace complexes are also temples which collect kelp and sea weed as well as fish in order to feed the thousands of staff and slaves who carry out the duties associated with annual rites dedicated the various deities of the Eshal pantheon. As regional rulers, the Emperor and his siblings, are expected to personally supervise the bloody slaughter of hundreds of merfolk slaves on these occasions since they are believed to be the intermediaries between the Brave people and the Gods of Water. Only they possess the authority to intercede with the gods in order to ensure that the divinities regularly sacrifice themselves in order to ensure that the submerged world of Tarrod continues to exist.
Although the Cauda priests that form an integral part of the entourage of an Eshal prince of the blood , play an important role in facilitating the interactions between the gods and the Brave People, the sons of the Matriarch play an even more important role. The Cuada may serve as the physical vessels via by which the Gods personally appear to their adherents, but only the sons of the Matriarch possess the authority that compels the very gods themselves to shed their own blood for the continued existence of Tarrod.
The Emperor as the eldest son of the Matriarch, is the only individual who can command the most powerful gods to sacrifice themselves. It is at his hands that a selected few among the Cauda elect to lose their lives to the bloody sacrificial flint bade in order that the gift of their souls will placate the gods of water who will only agree to offer their own lives with the guarantee that their elder children will ensure their subsequent resurrection by reviving them with their blood. The souls of the slain Cauda in their turn, are revived by the blood of the merfolk captives and thus reincarnate themselves in new forms among the un-hatched progeny of the Cauda. The Emperor and his siblings are also subject to a similar process of reincarnation since upon their demise, their souls return to the Matriarch who serves as a repository to hold them until they can once again be given new vessels in the form of her next clutch of hatchlings.
Peasantry and royalty
Eshal society largely consists of peasants who cultivate their own plots of seaweed and kelp in addition to constructing mud fish traps that provide them with a constant source of fish. They also raise certain aquatic beasts like the Ranchowen and Great Serpents. They are a largely self-reliant people with the exception of wandering artisans who wander from place to place selling their craft products which range from coral carvings to bone tipped spears. However despite being overwhelmingly peasants, most Eshal males are also warriors.
Extremely aggressive, Eshal males produce massive amounts of testosterone from the age of five years onwards, resulting in irate dispositions that are quick to resort to violence. These are put to good use by the warriors of the local royal lord whose underlings personally supervise a training school for young males. Within a small mud and timber compound in each village, young adolescent males learn how to use a variety of weapons. In times of emergencies and war, these young males will be summoned as an armed levy by the reigning royal lord. In addition to participating in large-scale wars, young Eshal are also regularly led on raiding forays against Curd and Anura tribes by the local War Chief who serves as liaisons between them and the royal court. It is he who urges young Eshal males to unleash their compulsion for violence against non-Eshal foes rather than against each other.
Another outlet for relieving their rage is the annual mating rite when Eshal males search for females to add to their harems. Polygamous by nature, Eshal males often seek to accumulate as many healthy females as they can to procreate with. During the annual mating rites, Eshal males gather to challenge one another to savage duels. Everything from their barbed teeth to stone daggers is employed against competitors or rivals. Consequently, fatalities are not uncommon. The victims’ widows are subsequently incorporated into the harem of the victor.
However, Eshal males are also expected to be capable of more than brute violence. Due to carefully selective breeding, there are certain individuals among the Eshal who have produced generations of male offspring that serve as the administrative staff of the emperor and his siblings. Differing somewhat physically from the other Eshal, they tend to be slightly more diminutive and lack the heavy musculature that is typical of most Eshal. Instead, they possess slightly larger crania and possess more narrow and pointed arm spikes. These individuals are tasked with making records that consist of knotted cords of seaweed which signify different numeric values.
Eshal scribes are regarded as an exclusive caste who only rank below the Eshal royal lords and the Cauda priests in terms of the prestige that they command . They are only permitted to mate with females from other scholarly families in order to ensure that their genetic bloodline remains untainted. Like the emperor and his siblings, they are also priests since they perform ceremonies within the temple complexes of their imperial masters. Sacred chants used to invoke the smaller deities who serve the main gods are memorized by them. However despite the intellectual nature of their tasks, they like other Eshal males also receive combat training and are proficient in using weapons. During times of war, they serve as junior officers and carry bone or coral totems that represent the deities whom they serve.
Despite the rambunctious nature of the Brave People, they are not as grossly neglectful of their children as the Lurdi. Emerging as slimy, miniature versions of their parents, young Eshal are often spawned on a regular basis, the time of their hatching typically succeeding the mating rites by a few months and hence coinciding with the spawning season of the fish that the Eshal eat. The brood usually comprises of ten eggs which consist equally of males and females.
Any offspring that exhibits signs of physical malformation are immediately sacrificed to some deity or other in order to ensure that they will reincarnate in a healthier from. Their corpses are then eaten by the strongest females and males in order to ensure that their next physical forms will be generated by the strongest adults in the community. The remaining healthy offspring are quickly placed in a communal nursery where females from all the resident families take turns feeding them with fish and seaweed from the village fish traps and plantations. Once they are deemed robust enough, they are then thought to labor in the communal fields and fish traps. They are not taught to distinguish between their own biological parents and the other adults since they like all the other juvenile Eshal, are primarily part of the village shoal which in turn is part of the main shoal, the term that they use to describe the empire.
Eventually, as they begin to physically mature, females are increasingly segregated from males and placed among older females who will teach them sacred rites associated with mysterious female reproductive energies that are not worshipped by male Eshal. These energies are seen to stem directly from the Matriarch herself and hence only females can participate in the religious rites associated with honoring the Matriarch. In a sense, all females are seen as lesser versions of the Matriarch due to their egg-laying capability and are thus treated with some deference by all males, since it is believed that any injury inflicted on a female will hurt the Matriarch herself due to the psychic link that she shares will all females. Whenever a female perishes, a new sacrificial victim must be fed to the Matriarch in order to help repair the damage wrought to her, hence ensuring constant raids to feed the Matriarch. Thus, due to this powerful religious belief, female Eshal are forbidden to ever participate in war.
Eshal material culture
Most Eshal dwellings are simply large, communal mud mounds with a single curved entrance within which the entire village population resides when asleep. A single stone trough is the only utensil in existence and is used to hold the regurgitated fish meal from which all members of the village help themselves. Nursery crèches are similar in design but are somewhat smaller. However, such simple structures are nothing like the vast palaces of the emperor and his siblings. Their administrative and religious seats of power are vast, rectangular buildings erected from vast masses of coral quarried by teams of Eshal peasant levies.
The irregular shaped masses of coral are reduced into rectangular block by skilled Eshal artisans who are paid generously in gold and captives by the high lord. Often reaching to a height of fifty meters, these structures sprawl across the expanse of riverbed, often encompassing vast miles that are enclosed by formidable walls erected from submerged boulders and other rock formations. Massive square doorways lead into these buildings within which vast idols made from stone and gold are displayed prominently. Positioned before each idol is a great stone alter on which captives are sacrificed. These alters are often inlaid with precious stones and pearls and are sculptured to resemble the outstretched, grasping claws of the Eshal goddess tasked with delivering the souls of sacrificial victims to the gods.
The idols themselves are often bedecked with gold and pearl chains. This vast space is the central precinct within which sacred rituals take place. The personal residences of the lord and his mates and other dependents are located within the smaller blocks adjoining the central precinct, while his most humble servants live in classic dome shaped Eshal mud mounds located close to the dwelling of their lord. The lord for his part dwells in one of the largest secondary blocks which contains elaborate carved coral throne inlaid with pearls and gems. Various other coral formations are sculptured to resemble the form of various animals and mythical beasts. These often have a flat surface which is used to support the gem inlaid coral troughs of the lord from which he and his family dine from during the daily mid-day feeding. The largest block of all contains the royal crèche where the emperor’s offspring are raised by his servants who feed them a diet of the most rare fish and crabs until they are old enough to join the rest of the family for the daily meal.
The Eshal have always been at war with all their neighbors and have reduced most of them to status of defeated rivals, despite the fequent Anura and Curd uprisings. In the past few decades however, human voyagers have seized the outermost fringes of Tarrod from the empire, using deadly steel weapons to lethal effect against the Eshal warriors. However, the perpetually submerged interior has proven impossible for them to conquer. Hence, the empire has largely survived, although the memory of the defeat of imperial armies by invaders from beyond the Vaet ocean, has encouraged some very ambitious imperial war chiefs to revolt against the emperor.
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? Responses (18)-19
5/5 for this warlike race. And an HOH as well.
A post that was a long time in comming. It has such potential that is disappoints. Formatting errors aside, it has spelling and punctuation errors. (Can you EVER put a space after a comma or period? The few places you do it seems almost accidental.) It seems like this escaped from the working space too early.
However, this is the key post for an entire set of posts. You call it the Land Of The Eshal after all!
The Eshal are so 'alien' to common experience, you need to heap and heap explanation and examples so people have a real understanding of what they are and how they live. This write up is spartan in that area.
A couple of questions and observations...
Quadraped or Biped? So these people can carry no items while on land? (Except maybe in pockets?) Do they 'walk' often, then have a burst of speed as a quadraped? And robes and kilts not very useful to 4 footed walkers.
The paragraph that starts 'The average Eshal is twelve to fifteen feet long, and ' should come before the talk of various locomotions. It makes sense that we know what we are talking about before you tell me how it moves.
Differences between males and females?
Can you give me an idea what these people look like? Are various castes different colors? Eyes are like? Do they have a narrow ant eater like snout? A broad flat mouth like a salamander or frog? What Terrestrial Animal do they most resemble?
Senses: Do these people have the same senses as humans? Is anything more important to them (like smell, as sight is useless in their aquatic dens). Echolocation? Sense heat? Since sight is not too important in a fairly aquatic environment, why does their clothing have specific color associations?
If there are only three castes, why not tell us exactly what their variations are? (What is the priest's variation?) Or does each profession has its own mutation? So the hands of a ceramics maker are different than one that cuts wood? You imply one, but don't explain clearly.
The section on drying out might be more useful towards the beginning instead of appended onto another paragraph.
Do these people have a stone age culture? How much building do they do? Where do the Dens okay. Other buildings or do they have a society based on dug out holes?
Do they have fire? And you can't make plaster without it (unless they are obscenely lucky and know where certain minerals are... but you make no mention of mining).
You need to expand the explanation of their lands, so people really understand about the swampy lands and the transitions about their aquatic lives. You make it seem, in parts, like they live above water almost all the time. Then the home life is totally aquatic.
The section on the Matriarch might be better placed after the section of Society. One is a better lead into the other. (The matriarch section makes more sense after we know about their society a little).
So females can generally be 'forced to have intercourse' when ever a male feels the need? How willing are they? Do they just submit? do they have urges either, or is this just a case of 'let them have their way and it will be over faster'? Or are they just horny all the time?
Clothing section might go better after the appearance section.
What do merchants and craftsmen wear? They do not have extra 'items' to trade for more clothing to show their status? Is their nakedness just a caste enforced rule?
Why are they all not wearing hooded cloaks to avoid 'drying out' when on the surface. They should look like Bedouins in loose fitting robes to avoid drying out and cancer from sun damaged skins (like frogs).
Domestic life might go better between the Society (and matriarch section) and Finance section (Call it economics or trade, these people do not do finance). This way we know people have a better understanding and the ideas lead into each other.
Cooking, such that it is, is done on the surface? (hard to marinate food underwater). Yet the house is underwater (and seemingly submerged). So all houses have a storage room and a kitchen up top? Should not all houses be 'split level' with sections above and below the waterline? It looks like you have cooking... and if there is soup, then people eat above water? So there is a dinning room on the surface?
Houses (and other buildings) obviously need to be better described. And do they have 'other buildings?' or is everything just done in people's houses? Is there any light in there? Are their openings in the roof to let light (and other things) in (like a beaver den)? Are there fires (oh wait, they are totally submerged, might want to fix that). Or do they exist in the dark with echolocation?
Do the Eschal manage the water level? If something happens and the water level rises or lowers (beyond tidal forcess) do they just abandon the area or create a damm/ dyke?
Religion: We have a priestly caste, but no mention of religion's beliefs, worship, or anything. It seems the priests are nothing more than administrators for trade and their nobility telling people what to do. Why call them priests then? Or how about the Link to the existing duties post?
Language: How do they communicate? Does their language work the same above and below the water? Are their two tongues? Are they telepathic. Not mentioned anywhere?
Agriculture? Are they hunters/ gatherers? Do they 'ranch' fish in ponds and pools? Any domesticated land animals or other aquatics? Do they have grain fields on the dry land (or rice, since that is a semi-aquatic plant)? They must grow something of how do they have cloth to make those priests and warrior robes and kilts? Or do they trade with other races to get that?
No mention of the Ranchowen or other critters.
Oh and you might want to LINK important things to back to the Brave People.
Updated: Tried to fix the bold and /////'s
This is a post of such significance to the setting, with so much information, that you might want to break off some sections into separate posts, then make them into a codex. It's already a substantial post, so considering Moonhunter's suggested additions, it might be easier to tackle in smaller chunks.
Have to echo the prior comments - and in my opinion, the punctuation especially needs to be addressed. There are a lot of text-editors (some freeware) which with a little work with regular expressions could correct these en-mass.
One of my first ideas to be birthed on this site, I guess that for the Eshal, some major refurbishment would be in order. Points understood and noted, my fellow Strolenites.
Update: The Brave People revamped for 2009.
Why do you have 4 votes, a 4 rating, but only 8 xp?
Good question. A glitch maybe?
It should be fixed.
I voted on it-no effect.
I should probably look into that. Does anyone know who I can see concerning a matter like this? Thanks
I think somehow it got really messed. IT shows as submitted recently but has comments 3 years old.
An ambitious explanation of an amphibious people. The otherwise noted problems aside, any sub that makes such an attempt to outline the unique characteristics of a race in such detail is worthy of a thumbs up in my mind.