On Yazik history and culture

On Yansk and Chev (collectively Yazik) culture: of all the sentient races, these are the two most isolated. Before the Exile, only the northern raiders even knew of lands beyond their islands. These pillagers (called Zakchic in Yazic) mostly raided the port cities of their own kind. On rare occasions however, a Zakchic chief would decide to risk the open waters for greater plunder. Pallasian records suggest that Yazic raiders have sporadically visited their territories for at least a century. Further, some of the pictographs in northern Arakesh depict long-tailed invaders in longboats making off with gold and pottery.

For the most part however, the Yazik are an insular people; the world, their islands, was big enough. Whether this is because of an innate cultural trend or the fact that they’re just smaller than most is uncertain; all that’s known is that, when looking over the Uzki Strait, few had a desire to cross it. As such, Yazik have spent a lot of time working on what they have built at home. The pastoral life is greatly romanticised in Yazik culture, and as such large cities are few; those that do exist – Iskil, Sacha and Borovi being the largest – are expansive. Iskil, for example, is believed to have over 200,000 inhabitants living in multi-level (and often multi-family) tenement buildings wedged between  winding, cobblestone streets. The cities are also where the Yansk class system is clearest, with clear divides between the wealthy, middle class and poor. Movement between the classes is possible, but it is rare. The middle class generally consists of skilled artisans and merchants who are often unwilling to make their trade too available. Despite this system, most Yansk are literate, particularly those who live in or near urban areas.

The worship of The Great Owl, who regurgitated the first of the Yazik race from the undigested parts of the old races it consumed, is still common. This is despite the Exile of all Gods some centuries ago. Part of this can be attributed to the isolation of the Yazik, and part of it is related to the monotheistic nature of their religion – when you only have one God and know of no one else’s, their disappearance can be attributed to their own grand machinations, and not a cosmic event beyond their control. Central to many Yansk settlements, and surely given pride of place in the great cities, are the cathedrals to The Great Owl. Bishops and priests (Sovish and Svashn, respectively) tend to large, weekly congregations, and a calling as a religious leader is still seen as a respected pursuit. The teachings of The Great Owl are many and varied, but they emphasise preparedness, community and pragmatism. Many stories tell of ill-equipped or incompetent Yansk being devoured by The Great Owl who ‘stalks all from above’.

Yazik society, particularly among the smaller Yansk, values learning and the arts. In particular, there are strong traditions of literature and theater that cut through most sections of Yazik society; rich and poor, rural and urban. Even in these pursuits however, the goal must be practical, serious study. Flippant or nonsensical works are generally disregarded by the more critical and established artistic communities. The heroes in Yazik works are pragmatic and efficient; in possession of great emotions, but not being controlled by them. It is a generally patriarchal society, with fathers and grandfathers tasked with seeing to the needs and development of their kin. Women can and do work, hold prestigious roles in the arts and government, and mothers are important members of the family. However, they cannot vote and cannot be elected acha (see below), though this is more out of custom than official law.

Relations between Yansk and Chev are generally good. They live alongside one another and even, on rare occasions, as couples. The offspring of such coupling faces no direct segregation or prejudice. Both Yansk and Chev are present in all levels of government and the arts. The reasons for the predominantly cordial relations can be, perhaps, linked with the strong sense of self each possesses. Both generally believe their people to be the superior creation on Caldera, and each see the other as a reflection of themselves. This means to deride the other is to deride oneself. Relations haven’t always been smooth. The Chev riots a generation ago in Borovi are still fresh for many Yansk families who felt their ire, and every so often a political aspirant will run of a divisive platform in order to generate momentum. Negative stereotypes certainly exist; the Chev are lazy, brutish and clumsy, whilst the Yansk are joyless, priggish snobs. For the most part however, there is mutual cooperation and subsequent benefit.

Politically, the Yansk employ an aristocratic democracy; that is, land-owners and merchants vote to elect a king (acha) from a group of candidates (sopernik). The powers of a king are not expansive, and are generally kept in check by the aristocrats who elected them. Their main role is to be the arbiter in disputes between territories and between guilds, however they are also tasked with the defence of Skiirsgad and its territories.

With the world opening up as it is, the question of whether to remain as isolated as they are is of great debate at the moment in Yazik society. Formal delegations have been sent to the Pallasian elves and some trade since occurs. Enterprising Yazik have established small towns on the western shore of Soldara, which they call Insotranye. From here they mine precious metals and harvest lumber from the redwood forests that don’t grow in Skiirsgad.

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