The Hjoria are a
human tribe (pronounced H-yor-reah, with
the "H" accented and strong) and are considered a race of crazed people by much
of Caelereth. Even those living on the
continent of Aeruillin tend to think that this tribe has taken belief in the
much-debated fae too far. The Hjoria live their lives according to the ways
they believe would please the supposed inhabitants of the
Appearance. The Hjoria, unlike most other Aeruillin tribes, go to great care to keep their skin pale, despite the fierce sun overhead. They wear long robes and completely cover the face, even in sweltering heat. Distinction between the sexes is easy although they are covered – the males of the tribe have a symbol dyed onto their clothes that means man, and vice-versa for the females. The exact reason for the cover-up is not known, the Hjoria are even unsure themselves of how their obsession with lily-white skin came about. It is theorized however, that this vain aspect of the tribe stems from how the faeries (a race of the supposedly mythical fae) are told to possess the whitest skin. Perhaps ancestors of the Hjoria decreed this strange custom out of respect to this race.
Due to this, not much else is known of how the Hjoria look. Their covering clothing is only removed during the night, or when they are in a dark, shady place away from the fierce glare of the sun. So, understandably, it is hard to get an accurate description of an Hjorian tribe. Strangely though, of all those who have been seen uncovered, each and every one has had long, jet-black hair, both males and females. It is unknown whether this is dyed, or perhaps natural to the tribe. The eyes are of varying colour. Most Hjorians have been reported to have thin, shapely noses, reminiscent of those of the Zarathians.
What is obvious is the difference in body shape between the sexes. There is never a fat or overweight Hjorian – men are generally stocky, with large muscles that can be identified through the clothing they wear, whilst the women are toned and lithe. This is due to the roles each sex undertakes within the tribe; the men generally have more physical and demanding work than the women.
Coat of Arms/Sign. A five pointed star, with each point representing a race of the fae, is on a rectangular, silver background.
Territory. The Hjoria are not nomadic unlike other Aeruillin tribes, they are exclusive to only one area, which is the south-west city of Hjoreh, although some also inhabit the Plains of the Forsaken. It is only within the last hundred or so years that they have started to live once more on these Plains, finally overcoming the fear of the myth that surrounds them. They are lucky in that they live close to these Plains, and also the Sea of Hylmagor, as this allows them to cultivate most of their own food and be self-sufficient.
Their location, below the formidable Ysthalinth Desert, means that they are in a protected position, away from most threats, which enables them to have a secure way of living, with little threat of invasion.
People. The Hjorian people are considered to be unstable in mind by many. This is due the their unfaltering, concrete belief in the fae. Whilst most of Aeruillin are content with their knowledge that the fae do live in the Void to the south of their continent, they do not act upon it bar a few respectful traditions and superstitions, unlike the Hjoria. They strive to please the beings in everything they do. There are daily rituals to appease the Glinkli, prayers for the Pixies, beauty items are offered up for the faeries. This is due to the tale of Jakata the Wise. It is believed by the Hjoria, and they claim written in their records, that their city was the first that the fabled pixie stumbled across. It was here that the Hjoria believe Jakata spent her first years on Caelereth.
The Hjoria worship, as would be expected, the ten Gods of the Void, the fae Gods. Each household chooses one to be their special protector. Nakashi and Mermaria are popular choices, whilst, for obvious reasons, Kashmina is favoured amongst young women.
The Hjoria are not an unkind tribe, and welcome travellers and pilgrims to their village with open arms – as few are rarely seen due to the distance they are from the nearest city. They will happily allow someone to stay in their house in exchange for perhaps some food, or even some previously unheard of knowledge of the fae will appease them. However, if a traveller arrives who attempts to draw members away from belief in the fae, perhaps some sort of missionary, then he or she would be demanded to leave. If they refuse, then it is stated to them the penalty is death. If they still refuse, then he or she will immediately be killed.
Hjorian people lead fairly simple lives, education is focused on only the basics, but one insistence that is put on them is that they must be able to read and write. This is due to the great Library that Hjoreh has and the knowledge contained therein. Hjorian claim that deep within the vaults are the original workings of Jakata, and to have the privilege to look upon them and study them is given only to those who have proven their dedication to becoming a scribe to the fae. The Library is a building of great magnificence. It is the only large stone building within the city, constructed from rocks from the bottom of the Sea of Hylmagor, and is under constant maintenance and watch.
Leaving the tribe to travel is frowned upon, although with the permission of the Ma’drea a member may. It is unlikely that the request to leave would be denied. Permanent leaving – that is a member who no longer wishes to be part of the Hjoria is a different matter. In these cases, the person concerned generally runs without leave of the Ma’drea rather than seek permission. This is due to the great shame that is put upon a person who has left – they are seen as someone who has turned their back on the great fae and denounced their people. If they returned, then they would be killed.
Housing. Most of the Hjoria live in houses made from the skin of an inja – but the buildings made from them are no simple tent. They are rectangular shaped, with several areas within, each designated for a different purpose or function. A typical Hjorian tent will have a sleeping compartment, most have more than one, an eating compartment, a storage compartment, a washing area and a study area, where the family's books and texts are being kept. There is also an outside plot where they can light fires to cook food.
In the front of the tent is a shrine to the God that the family has chosen as their personal protector. Their preference is also generally indicated by picture or mark on their tent. Each day of a Hjorian begins with the family gathering outside the shrine, to offer their morning prayers.
The inja skins are treated with a secretion from a type of seaweed, known as the trepo, which is found in the Sea of Hylmagor, which boosts the natural waterproof coating on the skins, coming from oil secreted by the inja. It also allows the tent skins to keep for longer – on average, a Hjorian family must replace their house about once every five years.
Some important members, such as the Ma’drea and some successful farmers, have been able to build themselves a small stone house. However, they are rather crude, as the stone mason skills used to make the Library have been long forgotten, and do not hold up for a long time.
It is quite a sight to look upon Hjoreh – it is dominated by the beige rectangular tents, in which most live, followed by the stone houses, and the magnificent Library in the middle.
Clothing. Due to their strange custom of wishing to have pale skin, both male and female members of the Hjorian tribe wear long garments that cover all parts of the body – from the head to the toes. The material is not heavy however – it is made from the coarse skin of a goat that is indigenous to the Plains. The goat, called the Inja, has a special skin that allows it to live in the harsh, hot environment on the continent of Aeruillin. The Hjoria have learned that it is perfect for making the clothes that they wear, as it has tiny, natural pores all over, allowing air in and out. Also, it is light, and the lack of fur (Inja fur is barely noticeable) means that there is no unnecessary retention of heat.
The clothes are rarely decorated; only high-ranking members, such as the Ma’drea and perhaps members of his or her family would indulge in decoration of clothes. What is always seen however, is the mark that distinguishes a male from a female, dyed onto the clothes, generally using the blood of an Inja, which is a deep red colour.
The people do tend to have one special garment though, one which has taken much time to prepare, in order to wear at the holy days throughout the year, and at the Festival of Finding.
Diet. Living near the Sea of Hylmagor and the Plains of the Forsaken have enabled the Hjorian people to cultivate all food they need. Their main food is fish – notably bonehead. Evoor are also caught, despite its oiliness, and eaten, although mainly by the poorer people within the tribe.
Also, various crops, especially a special type of rice suited to the conditions in the desert, called polent, is grown on the Plains.
The Inja (a special type of goat) is also eaten, and its flesh can provide a welcome change from the staple diet of fish and rice. Generally fried on a hot surface, the meat has a chewy consistency that is not unbearable however.
They rarely leave the city to trade for food, they pride themselves on their independence, this does cause a rather limited diet however. It is a welcome relief when pilgrims and travellers come to the city with foreign and unusual goods.
Weapons. Females are not expected to know how to handle weapons. All males however, are taught to use a common bow and a medium sword, in order to defend against an (unlikely) attack. Little is known of combat beyond this – simply because there is no need to, the location of Hjoreh is too far out for any potential invader to worry about.
Occupations. The males of the Hjoria tend to be the labourers, whilst the females, although welcome to undertake these tasks, are generally house-bound, looking after children or undertaking domestic chores such as washing and mending clothes.
The most honoured and respected occupation within the Hjoria is that of a Scribe to the Fae. These people have proven themselves worthy of the right to look upon the workings of Jakata in the Library by their dedication in study, and their prowess in reading and writing. The Ma’drea chooses the new Scribes personally and each year suitable candidates are put forward by the existing Scribes. If chosen, the new Scribe has a responsibility to tutor prospective candidates, to attend and record meetings between the Ma’drea and her people, study the writings of Jakata in the Library and also to tell the works to the Hjoria, so that they may know as much of the fae as the scribes do.
It is unsure whether this system of recording, studying and telling is a copy of what the fabled pixies are supposed to employ, or whether the tales of this system originated from what the Hjoria have long employed.
Another highly regarded occupation is that of a farmer or fisher, due to the fact that if the Hjoreh are to retain their much-valued independence, then food is vital. Without the farmers or fishers supplying them with food, whether it is meat from an inja, dried polent or the bonehead, they are seen as valuable members of Hjorean society.
Teachers are also highly thought of, as they tutor the scribes of the future.
Priests and Priestesses are also regarded highly, as they are considered most in touch with the Void and its inhabitants.
There are, of course, all the other jobs that are needed to keep Hjoreh running, many people work as labourers on farms. Some spend long months away in the Plains as shepherds of many hundred inja.
Government. There is a family within the tribe who have held the position of the rulers for many years, the line has never faltered. Legend says that they descended from the great Karlin Hjoreh himself, who originally led the tribe to their territory. The eldest of this family is called the Ma’drea, translating roughly to "Revered/Exalted One". The title is used for both sexes.
As can be expected, the history of this family has not always been happy. There have been many power struggles; most notably the corrupt Ma’drea Akathás who sold members of his tribe to Shan’Thai into slavery, his greed nearly spelt the end of their rule. However, faith was restored in the family when the remaining members overthrew him, and the following Ma’drea was good and just, one of the most celebrated to this time. Her people called her Kaitha The Great and there are many poems and writings concerning her within the tribe. An example is:
She, who did unite,
She, who did overcome,
She, who was just,
Kaitha was her glorious name.
She, who did rule,
Honourably and fair,
She, who joined the people,
Kaitha the Great.
There are many rules regarding the Ma’drea and his or her relation with the tribe. The following are the main ones, although there are many protocols and other expectations of a Ma’drea. Unlike most ruling positions, being a Ma’drea is not enviable. The "Ma'drea" rules can be summarized as follows:
The word of the Ma’drea is nearly always final, however if a majority of members that are immediately related to him or her disagree then it can be overturned. However, this has rarely happened.
The Ma’drea will meet with the representatives of his or her people at the beginning of each month, to discuss all matters of the tribe with them.
The Ma’drea will officiate at the holy festivals throughout the year.
The Ma’drea will choose the child who is to be sent into the Void each year by his or her own hand, for the Festival of Finding.
Most trade for this tribe comes from pilgrims and travellers, who undertake the
journey to Hjoreh in order to simply be at the city where the fabled
Jakata was said to have first
appeared. There are no main trading routes for the Hjorians, as they are
self-sufficient, not needing to bring anything into the city.
Those who do travel to Hjoreh will generally bring unusual foods, in order to trade for a place to stay within one of the great domes of a Hjorian family.
Natural Resources. As previously mentioned the Hjoria are self-sufficient, due to the abundance of natural resources in and around where they live.
The Inja provide skins and meat, polent basic food, bonehead and evoor food and oil. Perhaps the only resource the Hjoria lack is wood, but they have found ways to live without it – fuel for fires is provided from old, unused inja skins, which burn slowly.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. There are many observances and festivals for the Hjoria. Many revolve around the worship of the ten Gods, and on the seasons throughout the year. Each God has his or her own day, and each person looks forward to these with great anticipation.
Festival of Light for Nakashi, a magnificent feast.
Festival of Sorrow for Polmaen, a very solemn one.
The Festival of Love is held in honour of Kashmina. It is a time where young courting couples will proclaim their love together for everyone to know, and on that day be joined forever more.
The Festival of Life is held for Mermaria, by the Sea of Hylmagor, where the Hjoria worship the Goddess all day long with games in the water, and many prayers.
Festival of Finding is the most important occasion. This festival takes
place on the first day of the first month, to mark a new year, and a new chance
for knowledge and discovery.
In preparation for this festival a young child is chosen from the tribe, by the very hand of the Ma’drea. He or she is the main focus of the Festival, and for the week beforehand is prepared for the ritual and what he or she will have to undertake. It is a great honour to be chosen for this Festival, above all others, and although a mother in her heart dreads that her son or daughter may be chosen, it is likely also that she will harbour a secret wish that the honour could be bestowed upon her offspring.
When the Festival day dawns, the Hjoria don their celebratory outfits, and all gather outside the house of the Ma’drea. The pathways are all filled with people; it is rare that anyone should miss this Festival. At some time during the morning, the Ma’drea will emerge, flanked by some immediate members of his or her family. A short speech will be said, the same every year, it is as follows.
“As the Fae sent forward a messenger to us, in the form of the great Jakata the Wise, so we will send one to them. We send in a child, a being that has been untainted by the ways of this world, so that they may be among the fae as a reminder of us. They will be our ambassador, they will learn of the fae, and perhaps they shall return to us.”
Upon this, the crowd replies, “So it will be done.”
Then, the Ma’drea continues. “So it is agreed. As the New Year shines forth, bringing with it an opportunity for greater understanding and knowledge, we shall send in a child to be amongst the great fae.”
After this, the child emerges, dressed in the finest clothes. However, their head is completely covered, not even the eyes can be seen. Then, the Ma’drea turns to the child. “O child, are you willing to undertake this burden for us?”
Upon which the child replies, “Yes.”
Following this, there is a long trek south along the Sea of Hylmagor for many days, during which there is much celebration and festivity. The child is treated with honour and dignity, and is even considered above the Ma’drea during this time. Then, when the Void is apparent the trek stops. The Ma’drea turns to the child, who has remained in darkness for the entire trek, and turns him or her to face the Void. Then, the Ma’drea removes the head covering, so that the child is apparent for all to see. After this moment the child is not allowed to look back, only forward to the Void.
“Child, you must now leave us. May Nakashi greet you with open arms.”
The Ma’drea and the rest of the people then watch the child walk into the Void, and do not leave until they can no longer see him or her. Then, the trek back begins; this time there is a solemn mood, not the one of celebration that is resident during the trek towards the Void.
Many people not part of the Hjoria view the Festival of the Finding as barbaric, as they see it as the sending of a young, innocent child to certain death. The Hjoria see it as the greatest honour however, with no doubt in their minds that the child has reached the fae. Although it is true that not a single child has returned, they are unworried, believing them to be safe.
Important Achievements. Whether
the fae be true or simply a myth, there is the undeniable fact that this tribe
keeps the tales alive within the hearts of the people of Aeruillin, and for
dreaming children all over Caelereth.
History. There is a tale of the origin of the Hjpria, passed down through the families, that dictates the beginnings of their tribe.
Some time ago, the Hjoria were originally part of the great city of Shan’Zarathan, home to the now mighty Zarathians. During this time there was said to be a terrible tyrant for a ruler. He would starve his people whilst he lived in absolute luxury, take women and girl-children as he saw fit, and any who opposed his regime were immediately killed. However, there was an uprising amongst the peasants and common folk, led by a man known as Karlin Hjoreh. He stirred up restlessness between the people, proclaiming that they should be able to have a better life than this. He spread rumours of their ruler’s greed, whilst they, the workers who provided the food went hungry. About half the town joined his crusade, numbers were said to be about ten thousand. They led a revolt, marching to the palace, with Karlin at their head. They demanded their rights, but in return many were slaughtered by the well-trained guards, the untrained mob stood no chance despite their numbers, and Karlin was taken hostage. His actions had not gone unnoticed, and worried the tyrant. He gave the peasant a choice – either Karlin watched one by one as his followers died, with him last, or he'd take his people and walks into the Desert of Ysthalinth, never to be seen again.
At this time there was no knowledge that fertile land lay beyond the Ysthalinth – to Karlin both options seemed to be death within the city, or a slower death out in the desert. However, he would not surrender, and chose to lead those who would follow out into the Desert, in hope of finding a new land.
He took five thousand who remained loyal to him, all clinging to the hope that they would find a better life past the desert. However, it seemed hopeless. As the days passed, there was not even a glimmer of green in the never-ceasing sandstorms. Food was never in great supply from the start, and water soon dwindled, the people started to loose strength to dig great wells in order to find more. The eldest were the first to die, many of them lost their lives in the unforgiving desert. Then, the young children, scared and unhappy, undernourished and sadly neglected either died or ran away into the desert, not to be seen again. Even Karlin’s son, the once-healthy Hylmagor, lost his life to the desert ravages. Hope slowly dwindled, only kept alive by Karlin’s determination that he would live a better life.
Soon, the five thousand had dwindled to only two thousand. The people had lost faith, and many cursed Karlin for leading them astray. The remaining food and water was passed around against the advice of Karlin, as all had decided to have one last decent meal before their deaths. Their forgotten leader did not share in the last of the food, and for the last days of their journey did not eat a thing, refusing liquid also. Then, as he lay on the sand, hope lost himself, ready to die, he saw a sparkle past the next great sand barrier, quite unlike something he had seen in some time. Gathering his strength he walked, painfully, onwards towards the twinkle that had caught his sand-blinded eyes. As he stood on the dune, he could not believe what his gaze rested upon. He looked out past the edge of the desert, onto a great sea, and a fertile land.
Karlin Hjoreh began to weep, and with great joy he shouted into the night, "Even the desert has not defeated me! I have found the Sea of Hylmagor, and land for my people!"
His proclamation of the name, with which he honoured his dead son, bought the weary people to their senses, and soon he was joined by the remaining two thousand.
There was great joy, people forgot for a fleeting moment their hunger, and left the desert with great jubilation. They entered the newly named Sea of Hylmagor, praising their leader, washing their wounds and sores. They called for Karlin to come – but he did not.
They looked upon the dune where he had stood and proclaimed the finding of the new land. He no longer stood there; the only sign of his being was a crumpled heap.
The desert had claimed him after all.
As the people regained their strength and began to rebuild their lives, they decided unanimously to name their fledgling city Hjoreh, out of respect for their great leader.
Information provided by Artemis