Teyrnas

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:17 am   Subject: Re: Teyrnas

Teyrnas


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Nation's Name: Teyrnas
People's Name: Teyrnassians
Template: Human
Deity: Nox (Males and Females) and Rayne (just Females)
Magic: Path of Shadows
Government: Matriarchy
Language: Lingua, Teyrnassian dialect
Famed weapon: Hornblade (axes, swords, spears and daggers, all fashioned from the horns of the dead

Appearance:


Teyrnassian anatomy is indistinguishable from that of a normal human, aside from the prominent pair of horns which protrude from the sides of the skull. These horns are most commonly curled like a ram's, but come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Very rarely, a Teyrnassian is born with more or fewer than two horns, a phenomenon which is celebrated by the whole tref. An individual is born with small nubs for horns and it is only during puberty that they develop to their full size. Nobody knows the precise origin of these growths, but as they serve no real practical purpose other than brutal head-buttings, it has been speculated that the ancient Teyrnassians were cursed in some way by meddling with dark magic.

Teyrnassian skin is always pale and in blue, pink, grey or brown hues. Their hair is something of an oddity. Its colour ranges from platinum blonde to dark red, with different shades of red in the middle, and is thick and woolly. Despite its being soft to the touch, it is a notoriously tough material, requiring razor-sharp instruments to cut. Because of its remarkable properties, Teyrnassian armour includes tunics of hair woven in geometric patterns which offer protection similar to that of chainmail but are as light as leather. As Teyrnassian horns are strong enough to cut through the hair, any horns which are cut off (see Law and Military) are crafted into shears or daggers.


History:


The exact beginnings of the Teyrnassian mutation are lost in the mists of time, but the most popular legend is as follows. The human inhabitants of a scholarly village were pushing the limits of a certain dark, forgotten Path in an experiment to find a unifying force behind magic. One day, in a particularly adventurous mood, a group of scholars took a step too far which resulted in a burst of reality-warping diabolism. Luckily, this accident was contained as quickly as possible, but the village did not escape unscathed. Over the course of days they all had pains in their heads which increased in intensity as time went on. By the end of the month, their horns had emerged. Many of them sought to cut them off in shame, but the sharpest of instruments were required. Any who abandoned their village and went elsewhere were shunned as demons, and if they had children with regular humans (after losing their horns), their children would inherit the horns without fail.

Eventually, seeing no liberation from the curse, they embraced their new nature and formed their own cities in the most inaccessible of places, with houses atop natural stone pillars in lakes and hewn from giant rocks. With their knowledge of magic, they cast a shadow over their new home and vowed only to use the Path of Shadows for fear of going too far again. While the men were building their cities, a group of women, who were some of the brightest scholars from the original village, took the initiative of drafting the laws of Teyrnas so that they might live together relatively peacefully, appointing themselves the leaders of government and the first Boneddigesau. The men saw no choice but to accept these fair laws, and so societal balance was met.

Centuries passed and eventually the outside world had forgotten about the village of demons, but the scholars hadn't forgotten about the world outside. They wished to see how it had changed in their absence and update their encyclopedia of Zanzibar. The hidden cities were revealed and their inhabitants emerged wearing black cloth to protect them from the sun's unwelcoming light. Emissaries were sent out to discover what sort of civilizations had formed and whether they would still be seen as monstrous. From the intelligence received, they knew that there had been far more beastly powers in Zanzibar than themselves, and so they decided that it would be safe to announce their presence to the world and continue gathering information, some of which could make their lives easier.


Government:


Ever since the inception of Teyrnas, its women have been the governing body. It is recognized that they are superior in intellect, while the men are stronger and more suited to manual labour. This deep-rooted divergence of traits has developed over the generations: in the early days of Teyrnas the difference was present but less obvious, and as each gender's strengths were encouraged they became more and more pronounced. As such, the Boneddigesau, a group of elite Teyrnassian women, an aristocracy of sorts, run their nation from the Llys. Generally, there are one or two Chosen Boneddiges who are most active in ruling Teyrnas and practically function as monarchs. Family names are continued through the females, the leaders of trefydd are female and the generals in battle are female. Each tref and dinas is overseen by a Boneddiges representative who, while they do have separate individual power to some extent, receive orders from the Llys concerning major changes within their jurisdiction.

The electoral process is simple: each female can apply to be part of the government if they so wish, and they are supervised by an existing Boneddiges as they take a thorough examination in which their knowledge of Teyrnas and Zanzibar, their problem solving skills, logic, proficiency in magic and tactical ability are all tested. If they pass, they enter into one of the outer circles of aristocracy, but if they gain a distinction, they may become a Boneddiges at the discretion of the other Boneddigesau. A Teyrnassian may be removed from government if they make a grievous judgemental error or become seriously out of touch with their people and the world at large.

The main symbol commonly associated with the Llys is the Amddiffynfa. Situated in the centre of Teyrnas, the Amddiffynfa is a grand castle perched on top of a rock in the middle of a calm cove. The building is only accessible by water and air and no one bar the Boneddiges are permitted entry (special exceptions may be made). It is common knowledge that all the main decisions are made in the Amddiffynda, but the inner workings of aristocracy and what goes on inside the stony walls are unknown to most citizens. Descriptions of the interior from those who are privileged enough to see it reveal that there are many pillars and arches and staircases which lead to small, hidden rooms. These structures surround a central chamber filled with carved stone thrones, in which the Boneddiges presumably sit and discuss matters. This spacious room extends all the way to the ornately painted ceiling.

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While they are not necessarily official, the Llys is divided into certain parties which have differing views. The main two issues which polarize the Boneddiges and the more involved of the common people are the equality of gender and the use of magic. More liberal Teyrnassians see the matriarchy as an antiquated form of government which perpetuates the injustice of the misandry inherent in the culture. The opposition presents the argument that the gender divide is necessary as the men and women are so different in capabilities and that the whole balance of power would collapse were men to be treated as equals. With regard to magic, it is both the power which forced the Teyrnassians into seclusion and which keeps them safe to this day. Many claim that if magic caused their curse then magic can surely reverse it too, and they insist that it is such a useful tool that it would be beyond foolish to refuse to use it. Despite this, there are radicals who still have a deep hatred for mages and their meddling with powers above their control, advocating technological advancements in preference to reliance upon the Path of Shadow. In truth, most Teyrnassians simply don't care and see their horns as a proud symbol that defines who they are as a people.


Society and Foreign Interactions:


In the daily lives of a Teyrnassian household, the norm is for the father to perform manual labour such as craftwork and gathering food, and for the mother to organize finances, keep the family archives and, if a member of the government, manage their lot. The father looks after any sons and the mother any daughters, so they can educate them in their respective skills and duties. Unfortunately, due to the ingrained societal structure, it is difficult for an exceptionally bright male to get a more cerebral job. He may be scorned by the more right-wing members of Teyrnas, but if there is a more liberal library in the vicinity, then they might take him in and give him something fulfilling to do. There is a level of misandry comparable to the level of misogyny in Western Europe at the time of the First World War, although recently there has been an increase in Teyrnassians in favour of total gender equality led by certain key Boneddigesau. There are equal parts respect and bitterness for the women on the men's side, but they know that they are incapable of revolting and actually forming a working government afterwards. The most respected jobs in Teyrnas are the office of Boneddiges, the role of mage-priest and the duty of archivist. These jobs are mostly limited to females, although men are also known to become mage-priests. The highest jobs a male can be expected to conceivably fulfil are craftsman, architectural master and keeper of the peace.

After many years cooped up in their hidden cities, Teyrnas is extremely eager to communicate with the outside world. The nation knows that its military is not terribly advanced and so likes to maintain good relations with other nations and avoid war unless it is absolutely necessary. However, Teyrnassians are keen to explore, converse with other nations and show what they can offer in the ways of material goods or mental stimulus. Females travel the world in search of knowledge (see Religion and Magic), but the males often venture to other cities in order to trade wool armour and other craftwork. In order to be accepted into other societies, these travelers are always very polite and open with the locals. They also bear in mind that hostile stranger reveals less information than a friendly one! Due to their strength, the males sometimes take to the seas or skies to become pirates, using their Shadow magic to attack unwary sailors, or hire themselves out as mercenaries. If they set their mind to it, a female could also equally become a competent ambassador or spy.

Of course, the Teyrnassians must also have something to offer the rest of the world. In fact they have three things: information, education and magical policing.
- As their archives of knowledge grow every day, they are the perfect source of information, be it on geography, magic, alchemy, art, anything. Each female citizen (and male if they feel like it) is constantly searching for new things to learn. Maps are drawn, people are engaged in conversation, places are explored. Partial access to this store of information may be granted to outsiders, at least with a varying price range depending on the sensitivity of the data.
- Teyrnas is also keen on sharing their philomathy with the youth of other cultures, so that they can be well educated and not repeat mistakes of the past. They will grow up to become the next generation of leaders, and if they are knowledgeable, then they will have the means to make their nation prosperous and at peace with the rest of Zanzibar. For this reason, the formation of schools both within the tiroedd and in other nations is highly encouraged.
- Speaking of past mistakes, the Teyrnassians have not forgotten their origins. They do not wish any other society to suffer as they had as a result of reckless magical experimentation. They recognise that the Planes are a dangerous and mysterious force and that there is a limit to which one can use them. As such, Teyrnas will attempt to put a halt to any unsafe or potentially harmful practices in any nation. This can include anything from attempts to open a portal to a relatively unknown or hazardous Plane, to communication with an "evil" god, to the summoning of powerful daemonic forces. Naturally, the safety of Teyrnas is taken into account when this brand of justice needs to be served. Call it paranoia, call it conservatism, call it what you will, but it's for the good of Zanzibar.

Religion and Magic:


The Teyrnassians feel a deep connection to night and darkness which is mysteriously inexplicable but may be rooted in the origins of their mutation. Both genders worship Nox and have constructed churches in which they pray for her protection. The mage-priests of Nox lead their congregations in chants (see Miscellaneous) which invoke her name and use any power bestowed upon them because of their dedication to shroud their cities in a penumbral cloud. Many male worshippers construct stone circles in which rituals can be performed and songs sung.

As Nox is worshipped for protection, so is Rayne worshipped by females for progression. Within their tenebrous archives, they catalogue all they can glean from both their culture and others. For this purpose, females pilgrimage to the furthest ends of Zanzibar in pursuit of knowledge, be it from libraries, spoken word or merely keen observation. While travelling, they carry a dark veil of Nox to comfort them and a fresh tome in which they record all their findings. These excursions may last a year or more, depending on their inquisitiveness and how far-flung their destinations are.

The Path of Shadows grant the mage-priests of Teyrnas the wherewithal to protect their cities in perpetual crepuscule which disorientates any race without low-light vision, blindsight or affinity for darkness. Soldiers adept in magic can also utilize the Path in battle, confusing foes and bringing environmental advantage to their companions.


Law and Military:


Teyrnas's tolerance of crime within its tiroedd is extremely low. If a crime is committed, the culprit is immediately put on trial before the local Boneddiges, and if they are found guilty, they are imprisoned for a while. If the crime is small, such as petty theft, they will be released with a fine and verbal warning. Repeat offenses and more serious crimes result in the removal of the culprit's horns. These horns are then used as sharp instruments and weapons. If a hornless Teyrnassian is caught committing a crime, they are put to death (see More about Horns section). Each tref and dinas has an active local militia of male Teyrnassians led of course by a capable female which act as a police watch. Laws may vary from place to place due to the nature of the individual localities. The most common crimes committed are fairly small scale, such as theft and acts of petty vandalism. Criminals make sure that their evil deeds are utterly untraceable, for the long arm of the law comes down heavily upon the careless. As such, the theft of horn-tools or hair-clothes is quite rare, as each item is unique and easily identifiable by experienced carvers and weavers. Murder is never committed either; instead, perpetrators take to cutting off their victims’ horns in their sleep. This may involve the use of narcotics to make sure the unfortunate does not wake mid-crime. This special “murder” is usually a means to the ultimate revenge, as they have no use for the horns if they are known to be those of the victim.

Teyrnas prefers not to use brute force to settle matters, but in times of crisis, the whole militia assembles quickly and forms an army of fit and skilled soldiers. The greatest warriors form the "Gibbous Legion", a hardened assortment of male veterans, who are unmatched in strength and battle-adroitness within the nation. Their horns and muscles are tough, their eyes keen, and they charge in the shadow, unseen by their adversaries but very much felt. Mage-priests may accompany the troops to grant a cover of darkness and boost their morale. Almost all melee and ranged fighters are male and as such rely on their natural strength, unless directed by a more tactically-minded female general. Their weapons fashioned from horn and armour woven from hair are a sight to behold on the battlefield (if the enemy can see them in the shadows) and are as effective as they are beautiful. There are also rumours of a mysterious "Crescent Cavalry" which may have some involvement in magical policing, although their modus operandi and identities are unknown...


More about Horns:


To Teyrnas, horns are symbolic of existence, and so to be without horns is to not exist. As such, every dead Teyrnassian has their horns, preferably ceremoniously, removed, to signify the end of their earthly existence and their passing into the eternal shadows of death. Their name is passed to the horns, which are fashioned into weapons or other instruments so they may still have use in the world of the living. Every Teyrnassian hornblade has a name, which is the name of its previous owner followed by either "chwith" or "dde" to mark whether it was on the left or right side of the head. If a hornblade breaks, it is laid to rest with their previous owner if possible. When a criminal is deprived of his horns, as is law, he is forever marked as an outcast, dead to society, who can never truly return to Teyrnassian life. Some criminals prefer this anonymity, but if a "dead" Teyrnassian is caught committing a crime again, they are put where the dead belong: the graveyard. Their horns are still used along with their names, but they are put to a less honourable use, such as farming.

Agriculture and Monsters:


One of the downsides of living in a darkened environment is the fact that plants can't photosynthesize efficiently, if at all. Because of this, nothing much green really grows within the tiroedd and one might have thought it difficult for the Teyrnassians to find food. However, they have created specific areas untouched by the magical shadow for the purpose of growing crops and raising the animals which require pasture in which to graze. As the Teyrnassians are uncomfortable in the light, they wear dark veils like transparent blindfolds while they work, or they get any foreign workers to be farmers instead. Teyrnassians are omnivores, but they prefer to not eat meat, so many rely upon mycoprotein from fungi that grow in their region. If by a body of water, they are capable of fishing for nutritious seafood.
With regards to monsters, the Teyrnassians regard them as just another thing to be studied and put to use effectively, be it in transport, agriculture or military matters. They try to use creatures used to the dark, but they need to evaluate each creature before they use it. A sample of a male, female and child of the species are captured and then examined in close detail, perhaps going so far as to be dissected to find out anything interesting. Once this inspection is complete, the zoologists can then decide whether the monster is useful or not. If they are useful, more will be captured. If not, they set the creatures free (if they haven't died already).


Miscellaneous:


Most Teyrnassian artistic endeavours have some practical purpose. Their woolen armour is highly ornate in its weave, either displaying complex geometric patterns or else little scenes of nature or Teyrnassian life, such as Alban Arthan celebrations. The idiosyncratic architecture is often built in inaccessible locations for both security and beautifully jarring juxtaposition, featuring buildings carved into the rock, and bridges, walkways and arches simultaneously allowing access to different heights and casting more shadow down below. This, and the unhelpful signposts written in the consonant-heavy Teyrnassian "dialect", makes it difficult for an outsider to navigate the trefydd and dinasoedd, but if they are good-natured about it, then the Teyrnassians are happy to direct them to their destination. Other visually pleasing articles of Teyrnassian culture include their illuminated manuscripts which record their ever-growing knowledge and their stone circles for the worship of Nox.

Most of their music is vocal and for religious purposes. The chants of Nox are soft and written polyphonically (although they give the impression of homophony due to their slow tempo), employing both dense cluster chords and wide ranges. While their voices are nowhere near as powerful as that of an Ubayime-a from Epsilon Era, Teyrnassian singers have developed a sensitivity to pitch and dynamics, allowing a single singer to fade in and out of a complex and chromatic texture with total accuracy. On the other hand, their rhythm is rather loose, allowing for lots of rubato (although this requires concentration from the ensemble to keep everyone together). These factors make Teyrnassian chant incredibly ethereal and moving to listeners, even if they do not worship Nox.

There aren't many major festivals in Teyrnas aside from Alban Arthan, which takes place on the darkest day of the year. The mage priests take away the huge magic shadow which normally conceals Teyrnas when the sun goes down and put their efforts into producing fantastic displays of shadow puppets and illusions by candlelight to entertain the citizens. Red wine from the light chamber vineyards is drunk and traditional dishes such as grilled mushroom are cooked in every household. At midnight, trefydd and dinasoedd gather together to sing their Solstice Hymnal and the most important member of the area makes a speech. When the sun rises once more, the mages restore the shadow and everyone rests.

Language:


While the official language of Teyrnas is Lingua, the culture has developed its own unique dialect, terms and idioms.

Over its time of isolation, a few grammatical quirks have arisen in Teyrnassian Lingua. The placement of the predicate in the sentence is often before the subject and verb e.g. "Completely fed up, I am." There exists the catch-all interrogative tag phrase "isn't it?", regardless of the form of the preceding statement e.g. "You're going down to the river, isn't it?" Similarly, there is the imperative tag "look you" which comes after the main statement e.g. "Get up out of your bed, look you." Other oddities include "where to", which replaces "where" e.g. "Where to are you going?" and "there's" which is used in a similar way to the exclamatory "how" e.g. "There's nice to see you!"

The Teyrnassian accent is often described as "sing-song". To textually represent this, hyphens may be inserted tactfully into the longer words to denote the change in pitch. Thomas Pynchon used this when writing direct speech for Gwenhidwy in his novel Gravity's Rainbow and it's very effective e.g. "swallowed by the immense, the sil-ent Mother Con-tinent", "Plot-ting da-ta from the maternity wards", "The bab-ies born during this Blitz are al-so fol-lowing a Poisson distribution, you see?"

A Brief List of Teyrnassian Terms:
    tir, tiroedd - territory of Teyrnas
    dinas, dinasoedd - city of Teyrnas
    tref, trefydd - town of Teyrnas
    Llys - Teyrnassian centre of government
    Boneddiges, Boneddigesau - High member of aristocracy
    Sansubŷ - Zanzibar
    anghenfil, anghenfilod - monster
    drwgdyn, drwgdynion - evildoer

And here's a pretty picture courtesy of DA:

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Goldaline, my dear,
We will fold and freeze together
Far away from here.
There is sun and spring and green forever.
But now we move to feel for ourselves inside some stranger's stomach.
Place your body here,
Let your skin begin to blend itself with mine.

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