Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Bog Folk

This amphibious people are one of the most common and yet the most mysterious in all of Rysanthis.

Called simply the Bog Folk, they are in appearance a salamander like, bipedal intelligent humanoid with a great frog like head set with massive black eyes and a perpetual  gaping grin.

Olive Green hued and leathery skinned, the Bog Folk stand only four to five feet in height at their very tallest, having long ungainly limbs joined to a hunchbacked body, three tapering fingers and a long thumb on each hand, and webbed, frog like feet.

Bog Folk dress in loincloths, shell and stone jewelry, and simple leather accoutrements such as harnesses, belts and shoulder straps and bags in which they carry important belongings. They have no metallurgy at all and produce only tools and weapons of sharpened, polished stone.

These gentle humanoids are known throughout Rysanthis as a peaceful race for whom almost no one has any use for except as guides in the marshes and river lands that are their home.

 Virtually no one in the City States pay them the slightest mind as they never take up residence in the cities or towns of men but choose to dwell in waddle hut villages set upon the river bank or the swamplands.

 They do ferry travellers back and forth in their long reed boats and are sometimes seen in freshwater ports for this reason, but even then most only greet them with good natured laughter at best or else downright scorn, for it is well know they accept the most mundane trinkets and baubles in exchange for their services...shells, pretty glass beads, and other mundane items which are without value to most human traders.

This disdain is a shameful thing, for the learned know that that the Bog Folk are skilled herbalists and animal friends with a knowledge of flora and fauna from their regions that is unmatched in the libraries of the most learned sages. Healing remedies to maze the greatest priest of Illuvion lie at their finger tips, as well as paralytics and narcotic essences most useful to those interested in the physic arts.

Bog Folk are utterly incapable of human speech--they have no language that can be learned either, as their native communications consist only of croaking, chirping, and warbling which are totally incomprehensible to anyone but their own kind other than to convey the most basic emotions such as pleasure, surprise, sadness or, more rarely, anger. Bog Folk do, however, have a sign language which can be learned by humans and this is used in trade situations and other contacts.

This race prizes peace, and to many, the Bog Folk appear pacifistic. In times of danger to a village they will leap into the water and try to hide before fighting. They are amicable, do not comprehend insults, and will try to help nearly any traveller who happens upon one of their villages. They do not understand the concept of war or politics and have a simple, tribal law, crime and violence among their own race being almost non-existent.

However, whoever mistakes these peaceful tendencies of the Bog Folk for weakness is foolish indeed, for Bog Folk do fight when the need arises and they show no fear in battle. Bog Folk fight with spears, slings and stone knives, and a few have been known to wield steel weapons acquired by various means such as trade or as gifts from travellers.

The Bog Folk are governed by venerable elders, and they have shamans which offer ritual and practical magicks to their folk. It is said they worship Illuvion but in a manner not understood by human observers. They venerate and make totem of a great freshwater serpent-like monster which is their greatest natural predator--the bones, skins, and painted images of these monsters are sacred, and the serpent skulls are found as important decoration in Bog Folk communes.

The Bog Folk do not, however, eat meat. They are vegetarian and subsist mostly on river plants and large insects. They have strange religious practices which includes, most notably,  a communal chirping and croaking that is believed by some sages to be a sort of sacred song, and they also dance during such outpourings.

Bog Folk can hold their breath underwater for hours, swim very fast, and can leap like frogs at very great distances.

Once in a very great while, one might see in Rysanthis a Bog Folk person who leaves their little village and travels among humans in search of adventure or enlightenment.

The Baak-Suul

The Baak-Suul are a race of great reptilian warriors who dwell in the deserts of Far Eastern Jashan, across the sea from Rysanthis.

Tall, slender and serpentine, the Baak-Suul have scales like iron, muscles and sinews of incredible strength and speed, and a cunning intelligence that is surprising given their mostly static and primitive culture.

 They are brown in hue, having a finned back, long snaking tails and long heads with leathery fanged jaws which, with their long knife like claws, give the Baak-Suul an arsenal of natural weapons that make fearsome enough without their legendary great scimitars.

The Baak-Suul were first encountered by the ancient Jashani, the darkly tanned, black haired race of Men who dwell in the harsh and forbidding lands that bear their name. There are many Jashani legends about early wars with these ferocious warriors, but in time, through the occult arts, Jashani wizards discovered a means of subduing and controlling the fearsome Baak-Suul, and since that time, the Lizard Men have been largely subservient to their human masters.

This is one reason why Jashan has never been troubled by the kingdoms of Rysanthis; the Baak-Suul serve not only as palace and Temple gaurdians for the Jashani but as terrifying infantry who strike terror into the hearts of the armies of the City States.

Concerning magic, the Baak-Suul themselves use none and are utterly incapable of it, insofar is as known.

They have a savage and pitiless culture which prides only warrior skill and raw courage. Their strange vocal anatomy permits them a very wide range of words from human speech, albeit in a hissing and growling manner which is unpleasant to human ears. Their own mysterious language consists mostly of croaking sounds and hand, tail and head motions which are quite difficult for any human to decipher.

Baak-Suul are famed for devouring prey they vanquish in battle and to be consumed by their own kind is a common punishment for those who offend Baak-Suuli cultural customs. Their law is simple and tribal in nature. Aside form their apprehension towards magic, Baak-Suul seem to possess no faculty of fear. They have very poor vision and cannot use bows at all, but their hearing and smell is almost supernatural.

The Lizard Men can be found in many major cities of Rysanthis, particularly port cities, usually serving as guardians of Jashani ambassadors.

They are much sought after as mercenaries by some Rysanthian rulers, particularly the Gurdosians. Baak-Suul have surprising military discipline, in addition to their skill in war. They are highly resistant to poisons and illness as well. Many are mariners, surprisingly good seamen and capable swimmers.

Some offenses in Baak-Suuli culture do not bring death but exile--for this reason the odd solitary Baak-Suul can be found in Rysanthis, having no attachments and being a wanderer, usually finding no refuge in anything but the road. There is a Baak-Suuli enclave in Gurdos but exiles are not welcome there.

Baak-Suul have an odd characteristic, in that they have a strange admiration for human culture and will affect an air of refinement when they are able, such as when in places of entertainment and drinking. They are deeply affected by music, particularly wind and stringed instruments, since their own culture knows only crude drumming. They do not distill alcohol and have a weakness for human drink, though it takes massive quantities to alter their minds at all.

Their chief weakness, however, is Qorro Leaf, a Jashani plant which produces a very mild euphoric effect in humans and other races which partake of it but which cause sensations of rapture, sexual arousal, and even vivid hallucinations and trances which have a religious significance to the Baak Suul. In most of the Rysanthian City States, Qorro Leaf is forbidden and even in the cities of Jashan, its use is strictly regulated.

Although their scales provide a natural armor, the Baak-Suul craft battle harnesses and gear from the bone and horns of dragons, wearing conical broad brimmed helms, breastplates and arm, shin and shoulder protectors which serve them well in battle. They wear long, single coloured robes patterned in black with intricate Oriental designs when in human cities, but in the rocky desert crags of their eastern home, they wear no clothing at all.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Kingdom of the Coral Throne; The Merfolk and the Merlings

The Merfolk are said to be nearly as old as the Avalone, having come to Rysanthis from a world made entirely of water somewhere far beyond the stars,  on a day that can no longer be reckoned.

They are shapechangers who can appear as aquatic beings with the upper bodies of men or women and the long tail of a great fish or, if they will, with a more human aspect, having the form and shape of tall, graceful men and women of great handsomeness and beauty, except that their skin is of hues of green and blue from the very lightest shade to the most vibrant and remarkable hues. All have hair white as snow in whichever form they go about in.

Merfolk usually keep the form of Men, using their fish-like form chiefly for when they travel far by sea or need to escape their enemies in the Deep. The reason they favour human shape is mostly because Merfolk are very fond of taking lovers and spouses--willing and unwilling--from the world above down to their watery courts.

This penchant for fair humans is legendary and has earned them enmity with many of the world of Men, but aside from those kidnapped or enticed to the Sunken Realm, there are two coastal kingdoms in Rysanthis where humans intermarry freely with Merfolk and have a shared culture, the city state of Zimrilas and the Island Kingdom of Haphalla.

The children born of these unions are the Merlings.

Merlings always favour the race of their human parent in appearance, and this is a mystery for the wise to ponder, but though they look mostly like ordinary mortal men and women, they age far slower and, more remarkably, can breathe in water, a trait that can survive as many as three generations among their human offspring. Thus Merlings may come and go between the worlds of Men and the courts of the Sunken Realm.

 Full Merfolk cannot live more than a few hours outside of sea water, which is why their kin in port cities build living quarters which pipe in water from the sea into great vats and tubs to accommodate their sea brothers.

Merfolk live in uncanny rapport with a species of fish known as the Bo'be, highly intelligent creatures which appear as frightening trap jawed aquatic beasts that can inflate their insides with air through a spout. The smallest of the Bo'be are large enough to be ridden as watery mounts by the Merfolk, who can fight upon them when engaging human mariners, making the Merfolk the most formidable sea power in all of Rysanthis.

No human fleet dares ply the seas  for war or trade without treaty and tribute for the Coral Throne.

The Bo'be have the ability to create vast canopies of silvery bubbles brought from the world above down to the coral and stone castles of the Mer Lords, enclosing the citadels and dwellings of the Sunken Realm within vast pockets of continually replenished air, permitting human visitors to that realm to live normally in halls lit by great luminous aquatic plants. The Merfolk build these labyrinthine dwellings near hot spouts and vents which further add to the comfort of their human guests or captives. The Merfolk can swim in the deepests of the deeps but prefer coastal shelves.

The only enemy which poses any real threat to the Merfolk are the terrible and fierce Sea Demons who haunt the canyons and craters of darkness far below the ocean foam.

The Avalone' (or the Elves)

The Avalone', or Elves, as they are called in the Common Speech, are the oldest of the races of Rysanthis.

It is futile to attempt to trace their beginnings, but they ruled the world for time immemorial until the appearance of the Jennerak.

Diminutive and graceful, they have the aspect of fair youths of man and womankind, except for their ageless eyes and wise countenances, which have an eternal quality. They were always powerful magic users, though they have no use for books or scrolls; their magic was of a natural sort. The warriors of Avalone' were no less fierce in physical valour--they wore no metal armour but carried sharp long swords and knives and had a rapport with the sylvan animals whom they would summon into battle.

A few could be capricious, exchanging faery children for human infants whom they stole away to raise in their magical realms, but most were benevolent towards humans if shown respect.

It was the Avalone' who taught the Jennerak some enchantment and their great craftsmanship. When the Jennerak eclipsed them in Rysanthis, the Elves cared not a little, content as they were to dwell in forest, hill and dell with Nature, but they were honoured by Men.

When the Dragons arose and laid waste to the world, the Avalone' were valiant and rose for war, but seeing the Kingdoms of Men willingly capitulate to the Serpent's Reign, the Elves turned their back upon this world and left Rysanthis in long wooden ships they sailed across the waves to parts unknown.

Those who loved this world too much, though, remained behind, earning them the name of the Lost Children. With the departure of their highest kin, the Lost Children diminished in power, and at this day, there are Men who doubt that any Elf dwells yet in Rysanthis. Where people still believe in them, they are feared as forest sprites.

Far off the coasts of Eastern Rysanthis, though, there is said to be an ancient Island called Avalone, where once the highest of the faery Lords maintained a great kingdom. Some say it is a myth only, but sailors tell of a wild sea pulsing with magic and a fury not of this natural world...they whisper that the magic of the Avalone' roil the waters round about this Isle, so that none may land upon that shore but they who are welcome.

The wise say that the Avalone left behind watchers upon Avalon who will return and help Rysanthis rise to new days of hope and glory.