The Rhulran men are sometimes
called the most hospitable inhabitants of the rather cruel desert. Found in the
towns and cities around the Oasis of Nashrhul at the continent of Aeruillin,
they provide much welcomed supplies and company to travelers. The Rhulran are
known for their abilities to entertain. Their affinity to music makes bards and
other entertainers common.
Appearance. Adult Rhulrans are relatively tall in nature, women included, standing an average of about 2 peds. These people are typically slender by nature but each individual’s physical stature can depend upon the person’s way of life (a wealthy merchant as opposed to a laboring farmer, for example). Their skin is naturally bronzed a cinnamon brown, sometimes darker depending on how much sun one allows themselves to get. The skin itself is tough and nearly unsusceptable to burning, the flesh taking on a leathery quality with age. In fact, a popular tale is that of an old man who spent so long in the sun that his skin became too hard for him to move and is told to children by parents to bring them out of the dangerous heat. Light skin is favored especially by women since dark tans can show how much time a person does, or must, spend outside. Freckles are not uncommon and sometimes thought of as blemishes by women.
Hair is almost always straight, black and very thick, though dark brown can be found and even chestnut, though rare. Women always have long hair, having it braided accordingly to their age and status (see Traditions). Rhulrans are easily spotted by their bright green or near hazel eyes, commonly large and round with long lashes. The Rhulran face is generally oval with a small, flat nose and full, dark lips. To outsiders, this tribe appears exotic with an almost mysterious air about them, good business for travelling bards and dancers.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Still to be added.
Territory. The Rhulran men are clustered about the Nashrhul Oasis, found in the center of western Aeruillin and located on the plains between the Sveltash Desert and the Desert of Ysthalinth. Several small townships have clustered around the oasis, inhabited by the Rhulrans, but the main community is the city of Rhual located just north of the lagoon. The oasis itself is an estimated one stral by half a stral. It is bowl shaped, being deepest in the center, and is fed by a cool, underwater spring from the center.
Rhual itself is very much like the other towns since it is hugely based on the resources of the Nashrhul Oasis, though the city is run off the trade of travelers instead of the simple towns around it. Those passing to and from the surrounding cities often stop at the city for supplies, rest and good company. For this reason, Rhual is stocked full of inns and supply shops, even equipped with a large, year-round market.
People. The Rhulran people are very friendly and hospitable, as well as festive. It is in their culture to welcome kin and strangers alike into their homes, and to try and be helpful in any way. They are not selfish, for sharing is strongly encouraged, and necessary for these people. Only by sharing what resources and information they have can the tribe survive the harsh desert and thus they built the happy, thriving society they are today. For this reason, many Rhulran structures lack window coverings or more than a curtain for a door. Secrets and whispering is frowned upon and these people are sometimes seen as nosey and loud by others.
The Rhulrans are extremely hard working people, but believe in making work enjoyable. Songs and rhymes are not uncommon to their culture, passed down by workers to make their daily labour any bit more enjoyable. The lives of the Rhulrans are simple and happy. They work hard so they can play hard later. Music and games are common in their daily lives, people of all ages participating in anything from large neighbourhood tournaments to a tiny game of cards.
A staple in Rhulran life is their family and community. Families are large and close-nit as children are pressed into respecting those senior to them while adults must also recognize that their children are the future. Families tend to live together through generations on shared plots of land and it was once traditional for an entire family to move after a marriage to create a stronger bond of unity though it is becoming less and less practical among the younger generations.
Jenevére of the Aeoliran faith is the focus god of the Rhulrans. Shrines to Jenevére frequent the front yards or sleeping areas of most Rhulran homes while a large temple to the Goddess of Spirit can be found in Rhual with smaller, sister temples located in each town. To keep with the Rhulran importance of unity, Festivals of Celebration are frequently held together with the rest of the community (see Traditions).
Housing. Most homes, especially those located closer to the open plains of the desert, are dome shaped and rarely extend over one story in height. This shape is meant to protect homes from damage of harsh desert conditions such as flash sand storms and heavy winds. Rhulrans do not build their homes within the lush vegetation near Nashrhul itself since these areas are prone to flooding, unstable land and pesky insects. The buildings themselves rarely have more than two or three rooms, a large living area with one or two sleeping rooms, depending on size of the family. At times, families resort to branching a second, connected, room to adapt to a growing family. The domes are constructed by first laying out a simple, flimsy wood frame and then forming the dome itself with a sand/mud mixture. The dried mud is both resistant to heat and even water once completely dried. Strategically placed slots and holes are drilled through the clay to provide both an interesting lighting system and ventilation. As to be expected of clay homes, these are prone to be worn away by wind and sand. Repairs are made often and the Rhulrans are careful not to lean too far on a neighbour's home at risk of pushing in a weak spot!
Homes are furnished sparingly since strong wood for furniture is limited. Cushions stuffed with soft, dried leaves and coarse rugs of twine are commonly used in homes since they can easily be put away and taken out. Pottery and decorated rugs color the drab inside of the dome as hanging mats serve as partitions for separate rooms.
The more wealthy citizens, more commonly found in Rhual where they can make a profit of trade, have the luxury of flat roofed homes of two stories. Still made of clay, these are fashioned of pale white bricks held together by the simliar, cream coloured mortar. Roofs of these homes serve as both storage areas and sitting rooms, the flat top acting as yet another floor on cooperative days.
Clothing. Everyday workers and citizens dress namely for comfort and practicality. Fabric is made from the fibers of some of the plants found in the area, sometimes left plain to retain it’s tweed-like colour and texture. Women wear long, simple dresses or skirts while men wear short trousers or long shorts. Shirts are usually sleeveless and loose for the best circle of movement. Clothes are sometimes embroidered or dyed by family elders in simple geometric designs.
For festivals or celebrations, every Rhulran has a special outfit. These are usually frivolous and colourful, often with bits of rather unnecessary material hanging off (though the outfits of young women seem to be missing other, seemingly necessary, material, much the joy of young men and chagrin of old fathers!). Often worn with these outfits is some kind of hat, bandana or even headdress. These costumes are the delight of most Rhulran youths and occasions where they can be worn are sure to be looked forward to.
Diet. The Rhulran diet consists, as expected, mainly of the flora found growing around the Nashrhul Oasis. Fruits, such as the ciaxa (oineapple) and dashefruit, are very popular when served in small slices. Village women and children will travel into the oasis in search of fruit for themselves. As for professional merchants, workers will go into the oasis area and collect a good amount of fruit to bring back and sell in the market.
Small family plots of land, usually located just outside the dense flora of the oasis yet still close enough to make use of the fertile soil, are used to grow vegetables and even some grain. The land, though fed by thin, underground veins from the oasis, is very delicate and must be managed properly to properly produce. Tubers and other root-plants are popular as well as the coarse, grassy fibers used for clothing. Though this grass will grow in the wild, picking them is difficult and is much better to be cultivated in small areas.
Some game is also hunted from the oasis, though large prey is hard to get and rarely eaten fresh, save for special occasions such as festivals and weddings. Meat, because of its difficulty to keep in the hot climate, is usually lightly spiced and dried, hung in kitchens, back rooms and even small warehouses for storage.
Weapons. Rhulrans are a peaceful people, believing firmly in community, family and respect. Though, when circumstances beyond their control arise, methods of protection are needed. Young boys are taught, often by relatives or older family friends, basic self-defense. Some young girls are taught this fighting form, known as Leránta, but not as extensively as it is to the males. More traditional households believe that fighting is for the men while women should keep to their homes, things like embroidery and dyes are more fitting for a young lady. This form of hand-to-hand fighting stays true to the Rhulran ideal of peace and focusses on dodging and mild offensive. When watched from afar, Leránta is very agile and quick, almost acrobatic and resembles a dance. When weapons are used, staffs, spears, small blades and even whips are weapons of choice as they can easily be tied into the quick paced combat. There is almost never official training in the small villages surrounding the oasis, but in Rhual, city officials pace the streets casually, watching for unrest.
Occupations. Rhulran peasants, especially those in the smaller towns, must work especially hard to provide for their family in the harsh and difficult environment. Men of the household go out to the small plots of lush farmland to work the land. Heavy labor in the hard climate of the desert is hard work, and Rhulran men commonly experience back, shoulder and leg pains. Women and children do their share of work as well. Most housewives will go into the jungle-like environment of the oasis to pick fruits, herbs and even hunt for small game found there. It is usually the children’s job to collect water from community wells, tote supplies to and from home and do the house cleaning.
Music, already being a large part of Rhulran culture, is a popular line of work. Whether it is through an instrument, dance or singing, children are taught rhythm and beat at an early age. Bards, musicians and dancers frequent the streets and taverns of Rhual, performing to earn a living and often venturing beyond their borders to adventure and make a living elsewhere. Rhulran music is very lively and upbeat; popular instruments including the lute, fiddle, small drums and wind instruments of all kinds.
Teachers of the musical arts vary; one may learn from a tutor or mentor, a family friend or perhaps pick it up on one's own. The Hall of Arts is the only professional school in the Rhual area. Here, musicians and dancers alike come to learn their trade from the stoic masters of the arts who live there. Teachers will help all who wish to come and learn, though only the selected few gifted ones will have the honour of becoming an apprentice of the scholars.
In the city of Rhual or the larger towns nearby, inns and shops are staple occupations. Year round, travellers from other cities come into town for supplies and rest. Certain streets in Rhual are lined with only inns and taverns and others with supply shops. Most employ their own family or close family friends to help around the business. At the year-round market in Rhual, most popular in early winter, tradesmen from all over the Rhulran region come to sell wares such as cloth, pottery, jewelry and food.
Government. The Rhulrans are a very intense community and family oriented people. Small towns are run by majority decisions made by respected people in the community. In Rhual, city councils are held frequently to hear the voices of citizens and for them to voice concerns and suggestions.
When a council of leaders is selected, it is a decision made by the community as a whole. Council members are nominated by citizens at the town meeting, and from there are later selected by a quick vote. The leader council makes the important decisions which cannot be settled by community vote. The council members themselves are usually the wealthy, educated and well-liked, nominated and elected by the citizens themselves. Over time, these council members may become celebrities of sorts, the position promising high pay and respect. Serious crimes and disagreements, even from outside the city, are taken before the council of Rhual for a final ruling. For any out of city ruling, an official representative of the town accompanies the party to Rhual for moderation.
Production/Trade. The Rhulrans are well known for their haven shops in the middle of the harsh desert. Shops offering food, supplies and goods litter the streets of Rhual, while almost every family in the smaller villages has a trade shop operated from home.
One of the major items of trade from the Rhulran people is their clay pottery. The sticky clay found around the oasis is excellent for producing easily molded and dense products which are fired in large, shared kilns. Paints can be made from the various types of soil and plant life around the oasis and items are colourfully decorated with simple and geometric designs. Children find it especially fun to paint pottery for themselves, such as personalized bowls or beads.
Embroidery and dying of the coarse, fibrous fabrics is a popular trade and pastime among the people, something usually passed down from mother to daughter, each family having their own techniques and styles. Dyes are made from the various flora surrounding the oasis which is harvested by the women or children, and very rarely cultivated by a few groups. The making of these mediocre dyes is a long and repetitive process of crushing, melting and drying.
In return for their goods, the Rhulrans import many things. Spices and herbs not found in their oasis are brought in from the Ordions. Cloth, jewelry and metal tools are also imported as well as the occasional meats or fish.
Natural Resources. As is to be expected, the Rhulrans rely mainly on the oasis and the things growing and living around it. The lagoon itself is used mostly for drinking and washing, but the abundant life growing around it is vital to the survival of the desert tribe.
Fertile soil is rare in the desert, though around the oasis the soil is very good for growing. Land is conserved and strictly organized into, most often, family plots. Though the Rhual market is a popular place to sell surplus crops, harvests are usually used up entirely by the family since plots tend to be small to conserve space. The people try to limit irrigation, as they believe that the lagoon may dry up if they abuse the gift of the gods.
The natural flora around the oasis can be used for anything from medicine to food to dyes. Nearly everyday, it seems, a new use for a common plant is found, whether it’s a new recipe or a healing paste. Wood is a luxury and the trees that surround the lagoon are strictly used for small things like tools and some furniture. Trees grow slowly in the harsh climate and the cutting down of them is nearly taboo.
Traditions, Holidays, Festivals and Observances. The most important festivals among the Rhulran are as follows:
Festival of Celebration
The Festival of Celebration, a religious festival of Jenevére, is held by the community as a whole to celebrate their goddess. Each town or city holds at least one each year and many out of town Rhulrans will actually travel to other cities to attend their celebrations as well. They are large and joyous, full of food, music, laughter and friends. This is a festival where traditional costumes (see Clothing) are worn and showcased. It continues well into the night, even after young children have been brought home after a long day of games and fun, until finally all company eventually disperses. It is usual for the day after the Festival of Celebration to be a very lazy and quiet as people sleep off the festivities (and perhaps certain alcohol induced illnesses).
Day of Marriage
Arguably the most important part of a Rhulran’s life is his/her day of marriage. As celebrated through their goddess, Jenevére, a marriage celebration is very public and usually a joy for the entire community.
For the bride, it is a day that not only begins her life as part of yet another family, but also ends her life of a child. Her hair, having always been worn down and loose, is now braided. For the wedding, all of the bride’s hair is braided by her mother (or another female guardian) into one long braid to signify the unity of the husband and wife as one. A married woman’s hair is almost always worn in one braid afterwards, except during times of grief or mourning where it once again hangs loose.
For the groom, his day of marriage is a proud day for him and his family as it unites his family with yet another. It is traditional for the groom to prepare a large meal for his bride’s entire family the night prior the wedding. As for preparations for the wedding itself, this is done completely by the community and rarely even includes the couple to be wed.
History. Still to be added.
Myth/Lore. Though it seems as the cool, spring-fed oasis would be a popular spot of relief from the hot desert conditions, it is quite the contrary. Travelling too far out over the water is taken very seriously and never done; most Rhulrans even refuse to enter more than their hands and feet into the water. The reason for this fear is the famous legend of the Nashrhul Banshee.
A banshee is the ghost of an elfmaiden, often haunting a certain location in particular, that can cause a coma or even death simply by hearing her terrible wail. A water banshee is said to live under the surface of the water in the deepest, most central part of the lagoon. She was once the most beautiful Aeolrhan elf to walk the land, gifted with beautiful pale skin and snow white hair. She travelled with her elven kin, her entire party dying from having run out of water. The elfmaid was led away from her party to the oasis, long before the settlement of Rhulran ancestors, by the gods themselves. There she drank until healthy and was ready to travel once again to save her kin. But selfish was this elf and she refused the god’s wish to tell her people of the oasis. She died that night, but was cursed to remain, neither dead nor alive, trapped within the boundaries of the oasis she loved so much. The banshee is believed to be extremely touchy and irritable. At times she can be reasonable, quietly living within her watered land. But she is also incredibly moody, and does not like it when people come and go around her oasis and take her water. And so, those who venture too deep into the Nashrhul Oasis will be killed by this banshee, and enslaved below the waters for her own amusement.
Where this myth began, it has not been completely agreed, though a popular theory among scholars is that it was started by worrisome parents to tell their children so they would not swim too far from shore. It is also speculated that this legend began to keep people from wasting their precious water source.
Information provided by Luca the Thief