Cultures in the Broken Kaskea Novels (Fantasy)
Tyrra is the oldest and most advanced culture of humankind in the mapped world. Oral history indicates they started as nomadic tribes on the plains, breeding and keeping horses as their main currency for barter with each other. Their Minahmeran blood traces back to one Minahmeran princess named Raka who found hooved creatures made of starlight with singular magic horns that sang clear ringing notes. She befriended them and named them Phrenii. When a Tyrran chieftain met her while hunting, they fell in love and after some time, united the Tyrran tribes into one. Eventually her health failed and her soul now shines in the Stars, the brightest in the Meran-Viisi constellation. The grief-stricken King asked the Phrenii, "Will you leave us now? She was your beloved, too." The Phrenii replied, "We remain to serve," and they remain to this day. [From a Tyrran Children's Tale; see beginning of Chapter 16 in A Charm for Draius.]
The Phrenii obviously helped the Tyrran civilization advance quicker than normal. They appeared at the beginning of era 2 of the old Calendar (before "T.Y. 1" and numbered years). At that point Tyrrans used proto-writing. After the Tyrran tribes were united and the Phrenii became cultural advisors, Tyrrans quickly developed an alphabetic writing system. By the time there was consistent written history, Betarr Serin and Betarr Serasa were being built and the Phrenii were ensconsed as special advisors to the King. Their relationship with the King would change with the making of the Kaskea, and again with the breaking of the Kaskea. Minahmeran, or "Meran," blood has continued to create pewter-colored skin (with varying shades of darkness) and silver-blond hair to this day.
Common Tyrran has two major roots for words and names: one is what the Phrenii call the "old language," which is ancient Minahmeran, and the language of the original plains tribes. No one really knows whether there were precursors to what the plains tribes spoke, although when King Voima was battling the rock giants on the northern moors of Kitarra (around T.Y. 820, the Tyrrans found similar language elements in both the giant's and hill people's speech.
Since common Tyrran is the oldest of the current languages spoken in the Mapped World, almost everyone learns it and uses it (i.e., for trading). However, since Tyrra sequestered herself for more than 160 years behind the Lightning Wall, modern ("high") Tyrran has drifted away from common Tyrran in pronounciation and vocabulary. After the fevers, the matriarchs asked the Pettaja-Viisi to research the differences and ensure all tutors instruct Tyrran children in both common and high Tyrran. All Tyrrans are now instructed and tested in both,particular children who might be going into trade or diplomacy.
Almost everyone has adopted the Tyrran calendar because they were the ones who first mapped the stars and charted their passage through time. Tyrrans didn't begin to number their years until they began to have written history and fixed settlements, abandoning nomadic existence. The new calendar merely renumbers the Eras to coincide with the beginning of numbered years and written history. The Tyrrans moved fully to the new calendar in T.Y. 1000, and renumbered the eras starting from old calendar (O.C.) Era 3.
In the Tyrran calendar:
- There are 250 years in an era
- There are 14 erins in a year
- There are 3 eight-days in every erin
- And an eight-day has 8 days (go figure)
To give a precise day, one usually spells out which day in a specific numbered erin before noting the year, for instance: "Third Kingday, Erin Four, T.Y. 1465." The notation of Tyrran Year (T.Y.) indicates new calendar, rather than old calendar (O.C.).
The Tyrran names for days come from certain traditions which aren’t followed elsewhere. Some cultures use different names for the days. For instance, Groygans name their days after their gods. Top
Name of Day
|Markday||Marks beginning of eight-day, first work day|
|Hireday||For hiring manual laborers traditionally hired for an eight-day|
|Millday||Mills begin next cycle of grinding|
|Kingday||The King's Council meets on the first Kingday of an erin|
|Farmday||Farmers traditionally bring fresh produce into the city markets|
|Honorday||For the fallen: holidays related to battles are always on this day|
|Fairday||Last working day of eight-day; Nighttime song in reliquaries|
|Ringday||No business conducted in the cities|
There are five seasons in the Tyrran year, which begins with false-spring. False-spring, however, is only recognized in the northern range of the Cen Cerinas mountains. The southern and eastern cultures do not have a separate season for the cruel period between winter and spring. Their year begins mid-winter.
Erins of the Year
|False-Spring||One - Two|
|Spring||Three - Five|
|Summer||Six - Eight|
|Fall||Nine - Eleven|
|Winter||Twelve - Fourteen|
Tyrra has the only partially representational government in the mapped world. Outsiders might consider Tyrra to be a monarchy or a matriarchy, but neither would be correct. It's really a complicated system of checks and balances:
- The monarch is always male and, if not originally Meran-Viisi, he will have the lineal name Meran-Viisi before he is crowned. He is selected by the matriarchy and he must then be bound to the Phrenii. That gives him limited powers, but it's also a strain upon his identity and his sanity. So the matriarchy is also tasked with monitoring the King's welfare or more specifically, his sanity. Thus, the matriarchy also has ability to depose him. The King and his magistrates are responsible for prosecuting the King's Law, a body of law that's been maintained since Tyrrans could write. The King can create new law (as can the King's Council), but either can veto the addition of new laws.
- The King's Council is entirely elected by the people they represent. If something happens to a member of this council before he or she can finish their two-year term, the King will appoint a replacement to finish out the term. Treaties and other matters of state can be negotiated by the monarchy but, ultimately, must be approved by the King's Council. While this council is mixed-gender, it tends to have more men because in Tyrra "women have the mind for business, while men have the passion for politics."
- In Tyrra, the matriarchy handles money and trade. Each lineage specializes in certain trades and there's a matriarch at the helm. While the structure and power of the King and King's Council are carefully defined in law, the matriarchy prefers to operate behind the scenes and in a less than transparent way. Okay, let's be honest, they're secretive. They select the King, but no one outside the matriarchy knows how they do that. There are candidates, but how many? And everybody knows that some members of the King's Council are merely puppets for the matriarchy. One's matriarch does everything: train and educate the children, ensure everyone is fed or gets a job if they need one, and they arrange the marriages (in Draius's time, all marriages were arranged). Few people have the strength to rebel against this system. Those that manage to live outside this system end up as nunetton (forgotten nameless).
The Tyrrans practice ancestral worship. When someone dies, their bones are purified in a pyre and stored in the lineal reliquary. Their soul, however, starts on the path to the Ancestral Stars, often called "the journey of souls." This pathway of starlight is protected by the Phrenii and one's progress along this path is determined by how one acted in life (truthful, generous, loyal, honorable, etc?) Eventually, the ancestor's soul reaches the lineal constellation and shines in the night sky. The Star Watchers are always finding new stars and they will announce any ancestor who has finally appeared in the night sky.
Many Tyrrans pray regularly to their ancestors for guidance, protection, or help. The more devout meet on Fairday nights in reliquaries to sing and encourage their ancestors along the path to the Stars. The night sky over the mapped world is full of stars and Tyrrans are taught as children to recognize their lineage's constellation and which ancestors are which stars.
Note from author: Imagine a night sky with even more stars than we can see in ours, with plenty of comets going by, and no moon. Have you noticed the lack of a moon in this fantasy series yet? And, yes, you can see by starlight on a clear night. When I was camping once in a valley in the mountains near CO Springs, there was no moon and no light pollution from civilization. At about 3:00 am, I really saw the Milky Way for the first time myself (not just in a photo) and how it looked like the "Hanging Road" of the Cheyenne. Then I looked down and saw my shadow, generated only by starlight. It took my breath away.
Tyrrans have three-star ("-Kolme"), four-star ("-Nelje"), and five-star ("-Viisi") lineages. This is because a family tree doesn't qualify as a lineage until the Star Watchers declare a minimum amount of major stars have appeared in their constellation. Many old five-star lineages have more than five bright ancestors, of course. The older ones have also split off smaller lineages (for instance, Meran-Viisi, Meran-Nelje, Meran-Kolme and Pettaja-Viisi, Pettaja-Nelje, Pettaja-Kolme are examples of how the two oldest lineages have split). Matriarchs of higher star lineages have more power as do ones who manage older lineages. If you want to rub elbows with matriarchs in Tyrran society, you better know your history and give your respect accordingly.
Essentially, matriarchs trade in people and marriage contracts establish cross-lineage connections, so do Tyrrans change their lineal names when they marry? It depends. If your lineal name changes, you become an asset for a different matriarch. Sometimes no name changes occur. Or a name change might be the result of contract negotiation or personal choice. Draius, for instance, wanted to get far away from the Meran-Viisi so she asked to change her name to Serasa-Kolme (a respected and old lineage even if it's remained three-star for so long). In another example, Draius's magistrate father moved up from Meran-Nelje to Meran-Viisi when he married Draius's mother who was cousin to the current Lady Aracia. Lyn moved up from Meran-Kolme to Meran-Nelje, although she didn't care about that because, atypically, she was in love with her future husband. Obviously, other lucre is exchanged when marriage contracts are made, but the matriarchs will never discuss that with anyone outside the matriarchy.
Matriarchs often begin their training very early but they cannot become a matriarch until they are 18 years or older. A matriarch is always making sure she has her successors lined up—the plural is used because she never depends upon only one successor. There's always a main successor in training, whom everyone knows will carry the mantle. But there'll be younger candidates—many of whom don't know they've been selected until it’s too late. No one really wants to be a matriarch, at least initially. The position comes with a massive responsibility, for which the position's power and control is usually not a sufficient trade (although that depends upon the matriarch's personal lust for power, doesn't it?)
Each lineage specializes in some sort of business or trade and someday I'll get a list of lineal names on this web site. Since the lineage raises and trains children, does that mean that everybody ends up working for the family business? No, that wouldn't be practical and plenty may not be suited to that business. Matriarchs try to find the right positions for their "assets;" work that makes a person happy and encourages their talents to grow makes them more valuable when the time comes to marry them off. Consider the efforts taken by Lornis's matriarch to find the right position for him in A Charm for Draius; she even went so far as to get a reading from the Phrenii.
If a matriarch places someone outside the lineal business, do they forego lineal benefits? Not if they're working with the permission of the matriarch. There are plenty respectable careers that must operate with mixed lineages: councilors for the King's, borough, and county councils, as well as any sort of city guard are examples. And while the Meran lineages run the King's Guard (Tyrra's standing military force), they'll accept anyone who can pass the entry tests—as does the Naval Guard. Note that none of these careers pay that well, so the matriarch may supplement the member's income with family funds especially if they're an officer (and removing that allowance can be used as punishment, as happened to Jan in A Charm for Draius).
The Groygan clans originated in the mountains east of Groyga which are inhospitable, hot, and dry. They were originally cave dwellers and some feel that is the reason their eyes shine when they catch light at night like cats. Perhaps they needed light protection during the day and better night vision. By around T.Y. 650, these tribes had settled in places closer to the Angim where runoff became real rivers and had became semi-agrarian. The humankind living in Groyga and Gosleir (which has been absorbed—essentially taken over—by Groyga and renamed Gioygare) supposedly have the same origins, but they have slightly different myths and gods. The Groygans hold the dubious honor of being the most aggressive and combative culture in the mapped world.
- Some internal historical events of interest:
- T.Y. 783: Condotga cements the Lord's Council together by using the head of his strongest opponent (see Government).
- T.Y. 1293: Groyga invades the Kainen peninsula of Tyrra, starting the Fifteen Year War
- T.Y. 1308: Fifteen Year War ends in stalemate (from Groyga's perspective). They can't cross the Lightning Wall
- T.Y. 1309 - 1324: A particularly dark period. Perhaps due to the failure of the Fifteen Year War, there is much internal struggle as the temples vie with the great houses for control of the Lords' Council.
One can certainly get by with common Tyrran in Chikirmo, since it's the language of trade. But once outside the great city, the use of common Tyrran becomes challenging. Groygans in rural areas haven't much schooling or practice in speaking Tyrran.
The Groygan language is newer than common Tyrran and, while it appropriated a few useful roots from Tyrran, it doesn't share much more than that—particularly pronounciation. Some words have a plethora of 'g's and one rule of thumb for pronouncing these words is that any 'g' at the beginning of a word is a hard sound as in the word "grow." Later 'g's are soft (spoken from the throat) or sometimes silent as an English 'gh' combination. For instance, the word Groyga is pronounced 'groi-ha.'
In T.Y. 783, while Tyrra's King Voima was extending Tyrran influence northward and eastward, Groyga was still fragmented into clans, split by powerful leaders. It took clan chief Condotga to cement the original Lord's Council and establish the Great Houses. Lord Condotga had forced cooperation, making his point by throwing the head of his most obstinate challenger onto the Council table at the first meeting. Through Condotga's hard work, the Council of Lords still has a robust charter for making law, collect taxes, dispersing monies, and directing diplomatic efforts outside the country. All ambassadors and embassy staff are appointed by the Council and they have to pledge fealty to the Council before their houses.
In current times, the Council shows a united front to the rest of the mapped world. Internal battles are waged through subtle politics behind closed doors, and in the shadows with poisons and hired agents. The Council does have its own militia, or guard, but rarely is it used outside of securing Council meetings and policing within the city of Chikrirmo. Outside the city, the Great Houses are expected to police their respective lands as well as provide militia to Groyga's cause when requested by the Council.
Note, below, that each god and goddess has representatives on the Council. Just like the houses, they jockey for power and influence within the Council as well.
Groygans worship a pantheon of gods, similar to many of our past cultures. Each god and goddess has temples, usually one or two large ones in Chikirmo and a few smaller ones in the countryside close to pockets of worshipers. The temples are managed by priests and priestesses, led by one or more oracles who have direct communication with their deity. The temples have representation in the Council of Lords so the more money and influence a temple has, the more they can influence politics. Some of the gods who are mentioned in Souls for the Phrenii are:
- Anneghta, Mistress of Grace in all senses: elequence, elegance, and agility. Patroness of cats, small and big, which figure prominently in Groygan culture.
- Erina, Mistress of Time. Even though she doesn't condone thievery, she's a favorite of cutpurses and thieves.
- Falcona, Mistress of Spirit. She's popular and powerful, the counter-balance to Giada. When Groyga goes to war, Falcona's support must first be obtained. Soldiers going into battle often divide their prayers between her and Giada. She also can bestow the power of blessed magic, creating a magus. Unfortunately for her worshippers, she doesn't do this very often.
- Fortgis, Master of Music, where "master" is meant in the generic sense of controller and adept. Fortgis is neither male nor female, yet both.
- Giada, Master of Fate. A very popular and powerful god. He has many followers and his temple can exert influence in the Council of Lords.
- Surmagla, Master of Choice, sometimes called Master of Death. All Groygan souls must pass his tests before they can travel over the chasm to the protection of Falcona in their afterlife. Surmagla presents himself to everyone before they die. Groygans believe those who struggle to hold onto life, who choose life, can impress Surmagla and he might return them to the realm of the living.
- Ueros, Master of Passion and Desire. (Okay, I couldn't resist using the Greek god for desire, since we're all keyed into that root "ero-").
The houses of Groyga may sound similar to the lineages of Tyrra, but people who work for or owe fealty to the house aren't necessarily related to the house lord. A "great house" is the term for a house that has a permanent seat on the Council of Lords in Chikirmo. Some of the great houses mentioned in Souls for the Phrenii: House Brugio, House Chintegrata, House Endigala, House Ergrugia, House Glotta, House Laglana, and House Porgnone.
Part of the aforementioned King Voima's extension of Tyrran influence was to establish Kitarra as a Tyrran colony (around T.Y. 785). The colonists had to be sturdy stock willing to brave a more humid and colder climate than that of Tyrra. Kitarra sits on the hills sandwiched between the northern marshes and the Mirror Sea. Luckily, there're plenty of fish and wetland wildlife to live upon in that area.
The initial colonists found the area already inhabited by the "hill people." These two groups slowly intermarried, although the original Tyrran bloodlines are the basis of the Suellestrin nobility. Some nobility are still disdainful of anyone with old hill-people blood; this was encouraged by King Markus and his court once he had seized the throne, which provided his nephew Cerith with ready supporters who knew their way about the marshes.
By T.Y. 1000, it was assumed the northern giants had taken such a beating from King Voima that they had withdrawn permanently from all humankind settlements around the Angim and Mirror Seas. Feeling no further need of Tyrra's protection, Kitarra petitioned for its independence, which was granted around T.Y. 1107.
Common Tyrran is the main language of Kitarra but as mentioned above, modern and common Tyrran has drifted considerably apart. Also, Kitarran pronounciation and hill-people additions to the language make it initially incomprehensable to most Tyrrans until their ear is trained to understand the "brogue."
From the point that Kitarra became its own country, it's been a monarchy like Tyrra. Unlike Tyrra, though, it's never provided representation for the people. Unfortunately, this helped Markus Ungought seize the throne. He managed to buy and negotiate enough support in court and throughout the nobility to depose his own brother for treason.
The Tyrran settlers, of course, continued their ancestral worship with a few changes. Burning the dead upon pyres wasn't easy in a place with more stone than fuel, so they adopted the hill-people's tradition of laying the dead within special caves. Their beliefs also adjusted as they intermingled with the hill-people who believe they are descended from the "old ones," beings powerful enough to place several mystical circles of huge standing stones (no one entertains the possibility the old ones were giants, considering most hill-people are on the small side).
All in all, there's a lot of parallels between Tyrran beliefs and those of the hill-people. Both believe their ancestors make their way to the stars, that their ancestors can intercede for them in this earthly life, and that natural elemental energy fuels the afterlife. The Tyrran settlers, of course, brought stories of the Phrenii elementals and were surprised to hear hill-people stories of sightings of these creatures. These stories are apparently ancient; there's no history of the Phrenii ever being outside the borders of Tyrra since the making of the Kaskea.
Sareen is actually an alliance of three city-states. Illus, Forenllus, and Paduellus were originally started by nomadic tribesmen who wandered the Great Desert. Each of these massive cities is sited over a aquifer that services many deep wells, so making these places for trade and protection from the elements was natural. There are still a few nomadic tribes that eschew city living either completely or partly, but most Sareenians enjoy steady food, water, and shelter within the cities.
The Sareenians have protected waters between their city-states, so they became the first shipbuilders to try extended voyages on the Angim. They established trade routes all about the Angim as well as selling their ships to other countries—but the Sareenians have always enjoyed a special relationship with Tyrra through a long-term trade treaty. In T.Y. 1293, when Groyga pushed into the Kainen peninsula and started the Fifteen Year War, Tyrra decided to squester herself behind the Lightning Wall. This wall was fueled by elemental magic and created by the Phrenii—it prevented anything and anybody from entering Tyrra without special permission from the Phrenii. It did not prevent anyone from leaving Tyrra and one of the Phrenii was always at the sea wall of the Betarr Serin port to ensure that Tyrran and Sareenian ships could enter the port. The Lightning Wall was in effect until T.Y. 1456, when it was dismantled and the Embassies were established, at the direction of King Valos. At that point, Sareen lost their exclusive trade with Tyrra and had to compete with other countries.
Sareen has always traditionally aligned themselves with Tyrra, if only to ensure continued trade and commerce. The Asequar Treaty, signed every thirty years between Tyrra and the Sareenian City Fathers, pledges continued support. That treaty is due to be re-validated in 1473. The Sareenian Church of the Way is followed by Sareenians who wish to climb higher in the cycle of life. Contrary to Tyrrans, Sareenians believe the journey of souls to the stars must involve many lifetimes of toil. Since the Phrenii are made of starlight, the Church has no recourse but to acknowledge them and make a place for them within its dogma.
The Sareenian language has roots in the old desert tribal languages. When the cities were built and Sareenians had to communicate between themselves, the language became standardized. Once Sareenians began exploring the Angim and trading with Tyrra, they quickly learned common Tyrran. Since they are the only country that maintained a relationship with Tyrra when the Lightning Wall was up, merchants brought back language primers and could provide pronounciation guidance during those years. Because of this, Sareen is the only country where one might converse in modern/high Tyrran. Common Tyrran is spoken by practically every city resident in Sareen (desert tribes are another matter; it depends upon how they train their children and whether they visit the cities periodically.)
Each city-state is run by a city father who, while not wearing a crown, is essentially a monarch. Depending upon the city father's personality, life can be oppressive or not. The people of Illus, under Pater Danta (Danton's father), probably have the most amount of freedom and the best lifestyles. Forenllus and Paduellus have been run by a family of despots, but it's always possible that the current rulers might break the mold.
Note that the boundaries of the city-states don't always meet and certainly don't cover much of the desert areas in Sareen. Those areas are left to the desert tribes. Much like ancient times in Tyrra, these tribes are ruled by a chieftain (usually male, but there have been female ones) usually with the counsel of a wise one, who must have the Sight.
The Sareenians are the only humankind in the Mapped World who believe in reincarnation, albeit mixed with Tyrran beliefs of the afterlife as well as the Groygan tradition of organized religion. The Sareenian Church of the Way began with the establishment of Illus, Sareen's oldest city-state, and has only grown in power and number of followers. Instead of the Tyrran idea that once you're dead your soul can start on the path to the afterlife, "the Way of the Light" means that death is only one step of the process—one has to prepare through many lifetimes to attain "perfected Light" (which isn't the same as actually becoming a star like the Tyrrans believe). How many lifetimes does this take? The answer from the Church, of course, is however many lifetimes it takes. By living each life being truthful, generous, loyal, honorable, etc., the Way becomes shorter.
Do the Phrenii play same part for Sareenians in their path toward perfected Light? In Souls for the Phrenii, Danton is half Meran-Viisi (Tyrran) and half Sareenian. He's been raised in the Church of the Way and while Church brothers and sisters acknowledge the Phrenii and the fact they're made of Starlight, Danton never encountered any Church doctrine that addresses them. Unsure what to make of the Phrenii's invitation to bind with them, he consults with a brother of the Way (by T.Y. 1471, the Sareenian population in Tyrra's sister cities had grown due to the intense need for labor, and the Church of the Way had come to Tyrra to support them). He asks the brother how the Church views the Phrenii and is surprised to find the Church thinks the creatures travel the Way. When Danton points out that the Phrenii can't die and thus, can't support the cycle of life, the brother responds that they are "perfected Light" and "they no longer need to progress along the Way." Danton walks away wondering if this is a convenience to explain the existence of the Phrenii or, more likely, a way for the Church to avoid rejecting the Phrenii and their power outright.
What Does Humankind Know of the Minahmerans?
Not much. In fact, there aren't supposed to be any Minahmerans in the mapped world anymore. Only the Tyrran and Kitarran cultures have mythic references to them and no specific reason why they disappeared. The Tyrran Meran lineages still show the strongest Minahmeran (or "Meran") blood, but that blood has been dispersed throughout many other lineages by now. Both Draius and Perinon have the classic Meran indicators: silver-blond hair and a sort of "pewter" color that supposedly comes from their silver-skinned ancestors. Hence, the Sareenians often refer to Tyrrans as "grayskins."
However, Dear Reader, you've made the effort to investigate this web site and you deserve to know more. Yes, they still exist though their numbers have dwindled. They're extremely long-lived: for instance, Ihmar's mother is currently a ruling Elder and she remembers when the Kaskea was made, which happened ~920 T.Y. before Draius was born. But, while long-lived, they are extremely vulnerable to one of the Fevers that has managed to be carried about by humans. A human has a one in five chance of dying from this Fever, but a Minahmeran who catches it will die. Period. That's why they're recluses and they don't allow humans to step on their soil. They make sure humans never cross over the mountain range that separates them from the rest of the mapped world.
The Minahmerans still have the ability to wield "life-light" magic (also called elemental or true magic, because it comes from nature itself.) Of course, there are varying levels of talents among the population and Ihmar has the title of Sorcerer, meaning he's got a strong talent for true magic. His twin Ildizar is strong as well, but she doesn't have a talent for sorcery (general manipulation of magic). Instead, she can command legions and has an instinct for using weapons, magic, and soldiers for protection, invasion, conquest, or any other strategic or tactical purpose the Elders may give her. She's their last, most terrible weapon. Unfortunately, she considers humankind to be on par with disease-carrying vermin. Hmm, what could go wrong here?