The Morturii


The Morturii metalsmiths are famous for forging beautiful and deadly long-knives from the prized black iron native to the Byzantur hills. Even in the armies, the sword is not a popular weapon in Nemerl, and the longest knife of any soldier would be approximately the length of a short ceremonial sword. The Morturii have a large standing army to compliment their very spartan existence and to protect their thriving slave trade, but they also consist of merchants, sailors, fishermen, and craftsmen. There is little arable farmland north of Sondek, and Ankar subsists almost wholly on trade from Minh and the foreign merchant ships that ply the harbor in the late summer and early fall. They also do a brisk business with the port cities of Volkovoi and Arbyss across the Channel. Their language is Falx and Bizye.

Life in Morturii centers around civic duty, which includes compulsory male service in the military. All families - high born or low - are expected to contribute their sons to the military and their daughters to be the wives and servants of the soldiers and officers. After a standard term of 3 years, a soldier is allowed to remain in the army, or he may return to his family and take up a trade.

Morturii is ruled by an absolute monarchy of the Agalina, the current of which is Helain AnDaros Agalina, the 6th of his Line.

Morturii women are reputed to be sorcerers and fortune tellers, and the Byzan believe this and keep a respectful distance. By nature, the Morturii are stern and aloof. There are no open hostilities between Morturii and any other country, and they worship Om-Ret, a snake goddess that is said to be a fey incarnation of Deva. and whom is represented on earth by a sacred pachem (usually a boy of the Agalina family). When the country loses a pachem, it is a day of national mourning and considered to be a portent of impending disaster. The pachem is the luck of the kingdom. Om-Ret is notoriously unforgiving of anyone breaking her many rules of conduct, and as a result the Morturii are rigid in nature and unforgiving of criminals, deserters, and all law-breakers. Physically, they are tall, lanky, and rather plain looking, with dusky-hued skin and hair coloring ranging from charcoal to reddish-brown. Their language is Falx, a guttural and difficult language with with influences of Minh and Chrj.

Naming

Many Morturii include their family name in their surnames. Thus a member of a large or wealthy or renowned family will be instantly known. The family name is preceded by ur' ('from the family of') and some examples are:

Sanja ur'Sevan - Sanja of the Sevan family
Actaeon ur'Thanos - Actaeon of the Thanos family
Rihu ur'Sera - Rihu of the Sera family

Also, there is the Sr' prefix, which is used to denote a distaff line of a house or a much-lesser connection to good families. For example:

Kio Sr'thanu - Kio, connected to the Thanu family

See: Castes and Classes: Morturii



The Hilurin and Aralyrin

Byzantur is a country in the midst of tumultuous change. Thousands of years ago, several tribes of pale, dark-haired, fragile people landed on the shores of the Iron River and made Byzantur their home. They called themselves Hilurin, which means Old Tribe. Physically, they were smaller than Morturiis or Chrj or Minh, and they possessed startling abilities that their new neighbors immediately dubbed as magic before giving them a wide berth.

For centuries, the Hilurin kept apart from other nations, worshipping the old gods: Deva and her Consort, the Gentle One, who is never named. They are marvelous craftsman and artists and have a love of color and ornament to rival any Kasiri.The Hilurin quarter in Rusa is considered the most beautiful place in the Southern Continent. The Hilurin are a quiet and reverent people, mostly made up of farmers, craftsmen, artisans, bakers, and fishermen, with a habit of avoiding outsiders. Outsiders see them as stolid and boring, as it is rare for them to wander far from home or get into trouble. Yet, a few are plagued by a peculiar wanderlust the elders call the wilding, which seems to strike here and there among young people without warning. Their stubbornness on matters of honor and family is legendary. Most of the population is illiterate, as reading and writing are considered very unlucky things, and books are believed to bring ill-fortune. They depend on memory and rote to achieve varying tasks (such as routes and long lists) and are accomplished navigators, being able to find their way by starlight or daylight. Outside of Byzantur, there are many folk tales of the Hilurin and their ability to kindle magic, but the Hilurin never demonstrate their powers and will not discuss them openly. When they speak of it at all among themselves, they call it the Gift.

Yet, inevitably, change must come. Long ago, some Hilurin tribes, dismayed at the dwindling numbers of their own folk, married their children to Chrj or Morturii mates, who were themselves of many bloods from far away. These people called themselves Aralyrin, and they prospered especially in the south of Byzantur. They became taller, stronger, bolder, and were also totally devoid of the innate Hilurin ability to create magic.

Currently, the ancient and regal power structure of the Hilurin is giving way to the influential new families of the Aralyrin. Rusa is the southern capitol where the Byzan royal army is encamped, which is fiercely loyal to Hilurin, but the regular army is much larger and controlled by the Aralyrin. Beyond a few scattered army outposts, there is no longer any protection at all for Hilurin villages north of Kurelen.

Their language is Bizye.


Naming - Hilurin
Hilurins, unless they are noble, rarely have surnames. Everyone is known by who their father is, and if they are asked, will tell you. Scaja, son of Herec, for example.

Specific naming details - Aralyrin
Aralyrin frequently have last names, but they can be anything, from a type of tree to a color to an obscure word in Falx. Most Aralyrin are Hilurins that have bred with Morturii, and they have their own hierarchy and semi-noble families. The Aralyrin are careful to eschew the love of bright colors and detailed artwork that are the hallmark of Hilurin, and the Aralyrin quarter in Rusa is very spartan and almost bleak in comparison. Aralyrin have many money-counters, merchants, and slavers in their population, and they excel at banking and business, and the running of households. A fully-trained Aralyrin House Marus is worth his weight in gold to the right nobleman. Many Aralyrin youth embrace the warrior life-style of the Morturii and adore combat and weapons.

See: Castes and Classes: Byzantur


The Minh


The Minh are a fierce and feared warrior race in Nemerl. Physically, they are dwarfish and thick-set, with long arms and short, stout legs, and their skin is like yellowed parchment. They have a large and opulent kingdom to the east of Byzantur, and their civilization is significantly more advanced than their neighbors. Despite their intelligence, the Minh are openly aggressive and hostile to the Byzans and the Chrj. They trade cautiously with the Morturii, who send their wares to the great and fabled north kingdom of Rshan through the port of Sondek. Minh will kill or make slaves of any Chrjy or Byzan they catch in their frequent raids. As a result, the Minh have taken on a terrifying aspect to the Byzans, who almost never cross the Iron River to venture eastwards.

The Chrj


The Chrj, called the Painted People because of their many dark tattoos, are nomads; goat farmers who herd their flocks from one patch of scrub to the next in the shadow of the mountains. Their two main cities, Dorogi and Skya, are little more than outpost villages with good water sources. Like the Byzans, the Chrjy are a clannish people with very old fashioned values. Yet, unlike the Byzans, they are looked down upon by their neighboring countries as backward, thieving rabble, dirty and underhanded and sly. Their native language is Taluk, but it's usually not spoken to outsiders. For daily speech, they use Bizye and rarely Qaha. The Kasiri tribes - gypsy bands who roam the roads of Byzantur and Morturii - originate from Chrj. Their gods are Deva and Her Consort, but they have a host of ancestral and hearth gods to supplement them.

Specific naming details
Male Chrjy children are named after their father and females after their mother. This is denoted by ata for a boy and seda for a girl, followed by an apostrophe and the parental name. For instance, Chetta is named after his father, Korilu, so his full name is Chetta ata'Korilu.


Rshani


Though the Rshani place great importance on the purity of their bloodlines, not every Rshani bears a surname, or even cares to. Like elsewhere in Nemerl, most Rshani are commoners without any particular wealth, family history, or fame. Though Rshani upper society is divided into strict castes, only far-faring mariners (as opposed to merchanting mariners who do not leave Rshani waters) are considered "low class". Half-bloods (nar) are considered truly low, barely above lenilyn.

Their language is Sinha, but most noble Rshani speak Bizye fluently.

"Sunge ocaru" is a well-known Rshani phrase: "the blood speaks for itself". A pure Rshani has snow-white hair, dark skin, and eyes of the palest ice-blue. Occasionally, the eyes will be bright gold instead of blue, especially in cities north of Uzna, and it is said that this serves as warning of an unpredictable or even uncontrollable temper. Those who bear the last name of Nar (half) are called Halfbloods openly as an insult.

Some noble Rshani names:

Amaud
Karel
Martimus
Harada
Jehann
Lakul
Dragan
Peris
Nazera
Radakh
Daine


The Setna give up their surnames names upon entering the brotherhood. The Ancients never reveal their true names.

The only noble Rshani who are not of pure Rshani blood are Baron Ressanda of Tebet (called the Red), and his daughter Ressilka.





Khetians


Their land is ruled by a monarch who styles himself the Silk Emperor, yet the stories say that he lives in a castle made of sand. The land in Khet is arid and harsh, and a great deal of it is desert. The men go veiled and paint their arms blue, and they keep their women in absolute subjugation under paternal rule.

Any man who acts the part of a woman in bed is automatically shunned from the company of warriors. He will be known as "woman" thereafter and he's fair game to anyone who cares to take him. No law protects him, any more than Khetian law protects a wanton woman. Theft, adultery and most small crimes are punished by the Trial of Sand, in which the offender (man or woman) is buried in a sand dune by day with only their head bared and surrounded by mirrors that reflect the heat and light of the sun. When death is not warranted (such as a murderer, poisoner, arsonist or rapist), the prisoner is taken out after one day, after which most are fully or partially blinded by the mirrors. There is a Sand Guild of beggars in Khet consisting entirely of blinded offenders.

Khetians, like Hilurin, are known to be clever artists. They weave colored thread into brilliant tapestries and rugs, which sell for great amounts across the Channel. They breed a kind of stocky pony suitable for dry climates, called a bittor horse, characterized by a thick neck, short legs, and very long eyelashes, tails, and a fringe about their hocks to keep the flies off.

Khetian settlements near the Channel are called bens (Falu Ben) which indicates a fishing village. They do not sail, but make slender wooden canoes to fish the more shallow waters. A woven Khetian fishing net is the best kind to have. Their only other export is centaury, which they have elevated the manufacture of to an art.





Kasiri


The Kasiri are not a race in their own right, but are made up of various peoples in Nemerl who have - for whatever reason - left their homes and lands to lead the lives of nomadic bandits. A great many Kasiri are Morturii and Aralyrin, but the Kasiri pride themselves on being accepting of new members to their krait. The exception seems to be Khetians. Kasiri distrust the rigidity and prejudices of Khetians, who have a reputation for being brutal and xenophobic. There are no known Khetian females who have joined the Kasiri.