Tales from the Inner Sea
The island realm of Omiskiira is located in the environs of the Mirror Sea, far to the East and beyond the official borders of the Armavine Empire, and is comprised of 6 islands; the largest island is a long stretched area of land, being 600 KM long (on a south east to north west angle) and varying between 90 KM wide at its widest point (largely the northern half of the island) to 40 KM at its narrowest point. The other 5 are of varying size, collectively half the mass of the main island. It is a harsh land comparatively low on iron though there are good deposits of copper and tin with silver and gold mines producing a steady yield. The land does however have great forests throughout 2 thirds of the islands terrain, so there is much lumber and good wood. The terrain can be quite hilly and mountainous as well, cutting down on available farming land, forcing the peasant classes to resort to clever and ingenious ways to enhance the available farmland.
It is ruled by a War Council of 9 Major and 24 Minor Clans, who “elect” a supreme Warlord to govern them all. The Warlord is named the Khujhiin and is selected from one of the Ruling Lords (or Wehnjhiin as they are called) of any of the Clans, and the official Head of State (a Priest of Perang called the Akhaarajhiin) anoints and blesses the new Khujhiin. The Warlord holds the office for a 10 year period, and has absolute authority in matters relating to Warfare, Defence and maintaining order, but on other matters, such as agriculture, taxation/finance, trade and other social and political policies they must consult with the other council members and the matter is decided after debate and arguments are heard. Importantly the Akhaarajhiin can reserve the right to remove the existing Khujhiin from his position if they exceed their authority or perform poorly. The role of Khujhiin can only be held once by any person, and no exceptions are ever made.
The society is a feudalist military Oligarchy with the peasant class at the bottom, then 3 degrees of middle class being Merchants, Craftspersons and Artists (a term that encompasses musicians, painters, dancers and actors, even courtesans amongst many others), and at the top there are the Warriors (called the Hiin), then the Wehnjhiin Lords, and at the top of the tree are the Priesthood (though technically the Khujhiin as a single individual holds the same level of status as the Akhaarajhiin). The bureaucracy of the land is managed by select members of the Merchant class who report to regional overlords and Clan members.
The population of the island (and its number of smaller islands also termed as Omiskiira) is scattered amongst Clan lines, and numbers something in the region of 4 million people. There are a number of large cities, ones even comparable to metropolis’, and the capital Skiirasal numbers 100,000. Of these people, only members of the Hiin class are affiliated to a Clan, with the peasants being tied to the land and obeying who currently controls the land. The Middle class tend to dwell within the cities and are again not affiliated with the Clans, but must still walk carefully around them. There are a number of social conventions governing conduct between the classes, with the general rule being that the higher status a person is than you, the more polite and respectful you are. Transgressions are harshly punished.
The place of the Hiin in Omiskiiran society is of great importance; they are the strong arm and the weapon that safeguards the land and their Clans, and they live only for war and battle. Iron and steel is used for weapons, with armour being made from leather. One thing the land does have is a varied flora, including trees that a lacquer called muun is tapped from; the lacquer has many different uses, for example it can be applied to leather to make it resistant to water and damage (the leather armour so created is more protective and comfortable than conventional leather armour elsewhere), and it can also be applied to wood to make it harder and water resistant, the properties of the lacquer varying on a number of different reagents mixed with it.
The Hiin weapons are by custom the Longspear, a Naginata like polearm called the Yuudarii and a slightly curved longsword called the Anaang, which is used as the primary attack and parrying weapon if no longarm is available. They have an aversion to using shields, regarding them as unwieldy and overly defensive. They also use the Shii Longbow, a cunning compound weapon with surprising power and penetration, with cleverly shaped arrowheads customarily made from lacquered wood. Mastery of weapons is a source of great honour and prestige amongst them and this drive for excellence has given the Omiskiira a reputation for great warriors. Weapons larger than a small knife are forbidden on strict pain of death to those beneath the Hiin class, excepting those who are hunters and woodcutters, and they are limited to bows and axes. The armour they wear is muun treated soft leather clothing under muun lacquered stiff leather or for the well off Hiin a version of Cuirboulli, and is normally a dark brown or black colour. Clan affiliation as well as the Hiins personal crest is worn on the shoulders and chest respectively.
Warriors are almost exclusively male, though there are rare women of the Warrior class who take the Hiin lifestyle, though often the woman is shunned by her own family and must find service with another or work directly as a mercenary or soldier for the office of Khujhiin. Racially the people of Omiskiira are pale or rarely lightly tanned, with narrow dark or amber eyes, high cheekbones and almost all are fair or blonde haired, though occasional red or chestnut is seen and regarded as a blessing of the Gods. The higher the individuals class, the longer they may grow their hair, with peasants keeping theirs very short (males almost shaved, females just past their chin), middle class no longer than their shoulder and Hiin and higher growing theirs as long as they wish. Hiin hair is normally kept in a long tail that has battle and family honours woven into it, most often in the form of wooden beadlike toggles, though each Clan has its own customs and styles passed down through many centuries.
Culturally the Omiskiiran people are scrupulously clean, bathing at least daily, where bathing is often a communal affair amongst family members and close friends; they have no nudity taboo, nor any stigmas attached to sex or sexuality, though they are extremely monogamous. The nearest they come to recognised infidelity is in using courtesans, and this is regarded as entertainment rather than being unfaithful. The style of architecture uses stone and wood in equal measure, and in the peasant and lower middle class areas paper and wood is most often used for the building of homes, with richer people tending to use stone and wood more; paper and wood frames are often still used for inner walls and partitions due to ease of use and its ubiquity.
Marriage across the classes is permitted, but not to the Hiin class or higher; one may have a concubine or lover, but marriage is within class. For the middle class and the peasants the male is the decider over which class a person is part of. In matters of art and culture, their poetry, plays and literature is decidedly saga like and heroic, with the occasional work featuring religious themes and occasionally love and romance. Dance is extremely popular, and music is normally string and reed instruments with singing being quite high and normally performed by women.
They are a religious people with the cult of Perang (here known as Hakaricha) being the most important and being seen as the head clergy. Other cults of the established Heavenly gods are here, all known by different names. Peasants tend to favour Bumi-Bijiran(Tiisa) and Sensu(Sasaii), with Middle class tending to vary between Nerukata (Amasii), Ba’Ath (Samsarii, for the artistic types) and Ciha (Tuun). Only Satrom( Vii) is not widely worshipped, followed by hunters and those who dwell in the wilder areas. The followers of the Dark gods of Mowta (Yataar), Neraka (Saung) and Yesann (Ueuek) are slain whenever discovered.
As this island land has an abundance of wood and stone, building castles and fortifications is important in their military doctrine, and they have a fiendish array of stone throwing siege engines that have caused problems to their foes, also being quite mobile when a Hiin army marches. They have horses, but not as much pasture land as they would like, so horses are used purely for war, never for draft. The comparative prevalence of copper and tin does mean bronze is used here much more than in other realms and is used for tools, nails and the like. Silk was also introduced from the Armavine Empire over 30 years ago, and the silk industry within Omiskiira has blossomed with silk worms thriving in the lands, becoming a recent and welcome addition to trade and everyday use.
In trade, they prefer to use silver and gold coins, but they don’t use copper in coins; it’s too useful. They export excellent lumber and stone, pearls are harvested from the sea (seaweed, fish and shellfish are a big part of the diet) and traded as well, and they have an excellent and varied paper industry, with many uses, including for housing. As previously mentioned, they produce a good amount of silk that they trade with the Eastern lands (the Empire has enough of its own in any case).
The Omiskiira are great foes of the Natri-Bro-Addah and in the past have waged successful defensive wars against them, though as the Omiskiira are not fond of sailing they have not pursued revenge attacks, instead preferring to wait for their foes to attempt to land. The Omiskiira have made contact with the Armavine Empire, and discussions over a formal alliance are at an advanced stage. The Omiskiira have an Embassy within Armarissa and also one in the Eastern city of Kaduria (largest Armavine city within the east of the Empire, 40,000 in number). They have a high regard for the warrior traditions of the Tan Ti Kikkuya (and some think they may even share a common ancestry) but do not understand their social system. They are very impressed by the Armavine Empire (despite shields being used) and the power it has, and the sheer amount of resources the Empire has may lead to a formal alliance.