The Ash'mari ("Rabid Wolf Tribe") were once of the Kuglimz, but were in time corrupted and then subjugated to the Diorye'oleal. They have little will of their own, rather being used as the martial force of the dark elves. Their reputation as intelligent savages is well earned and they take pleasure in that reputation.
|Image description. An Ash'mari barbarian as seen in the Hovel Frond Forest. Illustration by Faugar.|
No one has yet been able to see an Ash'mari woman, so their appearance is
unknown. It is not sure if they are kept by the
somewhere so as not to cause the males to be distracted from their duties, or
wether there is just such a strong belief in the strength and abilities of
males that the women are all but locked up in the home. It has even been
thought by some that there are no Ash'mari women, but rather that the
create the men. This thought is scoffed at by the scholars, for they could not
possibly have such magical abilites.
Whatever the case is, the appearance of the males is well documented especially due to their incursions during SW III. They average between 1 ped, 2 fores to 2 peds 1 fore. They are dark of eye and hair with green eyes being a rather uncommon sight. Ash'mari do not shave and hence all have full beards and long hair. Due to the fact that they seem rather hairy in general it is not uncommon to find thick beards and hair even beyond waist level. They are very stocky and well muscled, this in conjunction with the beards have made some jokingly refer to them as giant dwarves. Though, it is doubted any was dumb enough to say this to an Ash'mari.
The Ash'mari bedeck their hair and beards with talismen. The talisman is always made of bone and is often carved with runes or animal shapes. The bone is taken from a defeated enemy, it is then attached to human sinew and tied to a knot of their hair or beard. Thus the amount of talismen are a sign of stature and skill. This practice is believed to be a corruption of the Kuglimz usage of warrior rings.
Ritualistic tattoos are strewn about the body of an Ash'mari. Dye made from the Burning Man flower is used to tattoo runes of luck, protection, strength, fertility and many other things. The nature of the rune dictates its placement. If it is for strength it is often found upon the chest or arms. If it is for protection it runs along the spine, and for fertility it is tattooed upon the genitalia.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Ash'marian coat of arms is a skeletal human skull with an iron axe sunk into it. This is surrounded by a circle of black twisted thorns. The Ash'mari being a very literal people have made their coat of arms such as well. The skull is representative of their foes, which is just about everyone, the axe represents the Ash'mari themselves, while the circle of thorns represents their subjugation to the thorn throne of the Diorye'oleal. As banners are rarely used, actual items are affixed to long poles so that it forms an intimidating standard.
Territory. The Ash'mari lands are tightly confined geographically. The dark Hovel Frond Forest is to the South, the Southernmost branch of the Luquador River is to the North. To the West are the Southern Foothills and the Sea. The Crystal Lake is to the East with but a span of land that allows access to the Southern portions of the Celeste Lowlands. They actively control about eight furlay of land from East to West and five furlay of land North to South.
People. Most if not all inhabitants view all humans North of the Tandala Highlands as barbarians. While this is not true of the Kuglimz or the Kanapans, it most certainly is true of the Ash'mari, and all of the stories told to frighten children are most often true. Generations of use as the Diorye'oleal's rabid hounds have bred out all compulsions of mercy and honor. While not as cruel as their masters, they are certainly the most bloodthirsty of men. Even the orcs of the area have respect for the visciousness of the Ash'mari. Nothing is truly known of their personal or domestic lives as they are rarely encountered outside of their homelands without being in a raiding or war party.
Housing. With the exception of the Fortress of Darkness, which is an impressive display of masonry, all of the homes of the Ash'mari are very simple. The homes are made up of walls of thick mud with some stone inlaid for support. Usually thrush and branching is used to weave a ceiling that is prone to leaking. Small square cut windows allow some air to get into the fetid abode. The windows have untanned skins or fur to protect from the rain, while the floor is covered in the same to add some measure of comfort.
Clothing. Clothing is actually very minimal, which is surprising given the climate. Warriors when at home or on normal duties are thought to wear untanned fur as use as loinclothes, boots, and cloaks. When in combat many of the same warriors wear nothing, rather giving up any protection of clothing for the protection of their gods.
Diet. The diet of the Ash'mari is mostly meat based. The lack of agriculture is due mostly to the lack of any farmers amongst the Ash'mari. It is doubtful that even if they possessed such craft that it would be of much use in the mostly rocky soil of their lands. Animals are plentiful in the area and so food stores are well kept, though it is not too unusual to go a few days without eating. They make up for this by gorging themselves whenever there is an abundance of food. The little grain and vegetable are gotten only when a raid on one of the Kuglimz villages have gone succesfully. There are rumours that they even partake of human flesh. While this is discredited amongst scholars, it is still strongly believed by the humble folks.
Image description: The crude workmanship of a typical Ashmari axe. Picture drawn by Erelen.
The Ash'mari viewpoint on warfare and the need of libations of blood to the
soil restricts what weaponry the barbarians use. No
bows or slings are used as the outpouring
of blood with such wounds are not enough. Thrown spears and
axes are the extent of the ranged weapons
used. For close combat the most common weapon is the
axe, this is for no other reason then the
cuts of the axe allow the most blood to
flow and thus appeases their gods even more.
Swords, spears, and long knifes are used as well, though most often as secondary weapons. Shields are viewed much as clothing in battle is. It is nothing more then a way to take the gods favor away from you by insulting their ability to protect you. If one of the gods wants you to die no matter what amount of armor you wear it will do no good.
Occupations. The only well known occupation of the Ash'mari is that of warrior. They seem to be broken up into different categories based upon the number of kills they have. If one has killed more people he tends to go into every raiding party and every war party. Those with less kills get to go far less often. Those with no kills usually have to kill someone with many kills to earn a place in a raiding party. It is thought that the men with few or no kills are used to hunt.
Government. The Ash'mari are governed from the Castle of Darkness which is a Diorye'oleal stronghold within the Ash'marian lands. The Ash'mystrume ("Battle Wolf") is the head of the Ash'mari. He makes all of the decisions as far as the raiding and general practices of the tribe are concerned. Any male can challenge the Ash'mystrume to physical combat, and whomever comes out the victor is the new leader. It is not rare for the elven ruler of the Castle of Darkness to get annoyed with the current leader and simply kill him. Several men who believe they should then lead fight it out and the victor presents himself to the castle as the new Ash'mystrume.
Production/Trade. The only thing that the Ash'mari produce is weaponry. It can be added that it is not very good weaponry either. Artistry is lost upon them. They only value it if it looks sellable. The only trading that they do is their lives for the goods of the Diorye'oleal. Beyond that they take everything else by raiding others.
Natural Resources. The area provides few natural resources, some ore might be found in the Southern Foothills if any Ash'mari thought about it. Most of their resources come from the Diorye'oleal. This is one more way that the dark elves continue to keep control over the people.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. The Ash'mari do not have festivals so much as they do have rites. The difference being that there is not much in the way of happiness or communal joys. Rather there are usually individual events based upon actions.
Taug'fa'yale ("Burning Man Feast")
In the midst of summer when all of the Fa'yale ("Burning Man" flowers) have been gathered and turned into dye, ritualistic tattooing begins. Males who wish to be tattooed use sharp knives to slice the runes they desire deep into their skin. The deeper one goes the more effective the rune as more of ones own blood is spilled into the ground in tribute to their gods. With the aid of much meade and ale, the dye is pressed into the wound. When the wound heals it will remain a blood red line in the shape of the rune. The coloration is important due to its representation of the blood gift to the gods. This feast has no actual begin or end date, but usually lasts for several days as it takes some time to prepare the dye and to administer it to the many who want it.
This is a one day event that occurs at different times for different warriors. After the first person they kill, they take the body and proceed to slice it open more. This allows them to take their victim's blood and drench their naked form in it. They then proceed to go into isolation for one day and allow the blood to dry upon themselves. This is viewed as the rite of manhood, for by allowing it to dry upon them it has soaked into themselves giving them all of the powers their victim possessed. Many a young warrior falls to an older one in an attempt to take a strong warrior's blood for his first kill as a stronger foe is bound to have stronger blood.
This is a one day event that only takes place when a new Ash'mystrume has defeated the old leader. The old leaders head is taken and the skin peeled from the skull. The skin is then cut vertically down the forehead, nose, and mouth region. The new Ash'mari leader then puts on the skin of the old leader upon his head. For that day he is feasted and made drunk. No one else participates, he alone as the Ash'mystrume is allowed. After the day is over the skin is tossed away as all power has by then been drained from the vanquished leader. The talismen that hung in the hair and beard are reaffixed in the new leader's hair and beard respectively, showing he now holds all power that the old Ash'mystrume held.
Origin. The Ash'mari along with the
Kuglimz are the descendents of the
Mynian Kingdom and thus all the
way back to the human calvarymen of the
great army that threw down Fá'áv'cál'âr.
They have fallen far in those centures. With the fall of the
Mynian Kingdom they fled the
furthest South of all of the Kuglimz. In time they
grew closer to the darkness that was the Hovel Frond and forsook many of the
Kuglimz ways. They fell away from their gods
Lier'tyan and started to worship
bloodthirsty gods. It is said that the Ash'mari do not know how to ride
horses as all other
Kuglimz do, for
horses being noble animals saw what the Ash'mari were and would no longer
allow them to control them any longer, and so left them to walk the
History. Unlike the Kuglimz who have a rich oral tradition and give nearly every event a story, the Ash'mari have no such tradition. This is combined with the fact that the Diorye'oleal do not care much for their servants and have not truly kept any record of them either. Besides, anything that was kept by the Diorye'oleal would not be brought to light anyway as they are a secretive people. This being said, some events have been noted either by the Kuglimz or other outside observers. While some of the dates cannot be given accurately, they will be given at approximately the time the event was supposed to have taken place.
Information provided by Drogo