Races of Micea
© Thomas Harlan 1999
Races of Mirgul | Races of Bezem | Others...
Micea | Voleim | Agasha | Paorani | Lakasha | Al-Rifiki | Ratai | Kataii | Hasaii | The Kurgan | Sodeska | Takat | Lernei
There is a high level of internal strife between the Micean principalities and there is no central political authority. The largest political entity is the Seven Cities League, which controls the river traffic on the Pokratis river, which roughly bisects the realms of the Miceans. There is the widespread use of large birds for transport and / or war. The myriad Micean cities speak dialects of a single tongue, which is roughly understandable to all.
In each city the raksa (or knight) caste provides the bulk of the fighting men and the ruling class. Rural culture is centered on communal farms or noble manors for protection against the dangers of the wild (the great ratai or dreaded kataii, for example). The hasaii (hamster) race is held as slave / drudge labor by many clans. Very large extended families or clans characterize Micean society. There is a rich social culture of epic songs, fresco-painted wall murals and sculpture in marble and bronze.
The Eight Gods of Change and the Eight Gods of Order dominate religious life. A Consort (which reflects some aspect of the initial Godhead) serves each God in turn. City-state allegiance and internecine strife further divide the various temples of the gods. There is a very limited use of magic, restricted to the greater temples and occasional wandering sorcerers. Wizardry in all forms is viewed with extreme suspicion and dislike.
As a whole, Miceans are skilled with tools, machines and mechanical processes of all kinds. Strong, guild-based, mercantile classes of trading clans (the wo-san) connect the cities, sometimes transcending politics, sometimes driving politics.
The Micean Calendar
Each Micean month is thirty days in length and corresponds roughly to the period of the Greater Moon.
Sorcery is severely segmented in the society, to the nakash caste, generally regarded as the lowest of castes in the theoretical pecking order. In practice the nakash are the tools of the great nobles and command a high price for their services.
Volish society is nominally caste bound, but the pressures of constant warfare against the neighboring realms of the empire and internal conflict have collapsed the previously strict prohibitions against marriage and elevation / demotion in caste.
On one hand the fluidity in the caste structure has promoted vigorous economic activity and a flowering of the arts and sciences (under the heavy influence of Micean culture). On the other hand the collapse of ancient caste-lines and prerogatives, coupled with the elevation of merchants, peasants and even outlanders (Micean and Agasha mercenaries in particular) to the landholding kurash caste has precipitated severe internal stress.
Peasant caste (lukush) revolts are common in the rural domains and in some large cities of the empire. In many cases the lukush revolts are work stoppages and or demonstration marches rather than open warfare, but the effects are the same.
In addition to the kurash (nobles) and the Nine Imperial Families (the Ikusha), the third face of the pyramid that supports the Voltan are the pakash, the Thousand Houses of God. Unlike the Miceans, who have a strongly defined heavenly hierarchy, the voleim believe that there is but one godhead that reveals itself in myriad forms.
Each religious order devoted to a godhood form, or kuut, has a large, vociferous, and heavily armed following. The pakash temples are widepread and often exceptionally wealthy. Many of the orders practice obscure rituals and arts. Others are as powerful and politically involved as the Ikusha or the greater Kurash clans.
The current Ikusha voltan is Pao-Dra, a successful general that won the latest civil war. Pao-Dra expanded the empire by a quarter with a series of bloody wars against the Micean colonies south of the Lisan river, in the Domorian March, and on the Kobuti coast. An exceptionally shrewd general, Pao-Dra now faces a growing internal problem in the ever-swelling ranks of the Radiant Three Faces and the Blossom Lotus orders of the pakash.
A feudal, semi-nomadic, culture centered in the western highlands beyond the Tumuz Sea. Within recent generations the Agasha have spread south into the grasslands of Agashima. The agashi tukutza (war chiefs) have long found lucrative employment in the ranks of the private armies of the Volish factions. Some have even been granted lands and titles by the latest voltan, Pao-Dra. These tukutza and their followers are settled along the Micean frontier in the Domorian March. This has aggravated tensions between the Micea and the Agasha as races considerably, though they have never been particularly friendly. The agasha traditionally fight on foot in blocks of infantry armed with halberds, greatswords and axes. The southern aga (clans) have domesticated various species of weasel and have begun to field fierce heavy cavalry. The northern aga have long fielded raven air cavalry in their constant internal conflicts. Agashi traders are prevalent in the Voleimish Empire and are often seen in the port cities of the Miceans as well.
They specialize in slaves, bulk goods and smuggling of all kinds.
The Paorani are a wide-ranging race hailing from the cold and misty islands of Pao and Paorana. They are quick and agile, loving the sea and moving in close-knit clans on great ships and 'moving islands' in the currents of the sea. The Paorani are well known sights in the ports of the Tyngvald Sea and the Southern Ocean. They dislike being far from water and are notorious for their fickleness when dealing with land-dwellers that do not speak their tongue well. Through they have little military experience on land, their fleets are the masters of the sea, exacting tribute and toll fees from all merchant shipping. Apparently there are intermittent struggles between the clans at sea, but little or no news of this leaks to the land-bound races.
The religion of the Pao is little known, through those few land-bound temples of their primary god, Payaray the Ship-Master, are noted for their dank nature and seeming abandonment. It is believed that the afterlife of the Pao concerns a "Black Fleet" ruled by the Ship-Master and the demons and wights at his command. Those Pao who serve him well in life receive rank and prestige in the eternal travels of the Black Fleet on the Sea of Tears. Those that have displeased the God of the Whirlpool must row, row for all eternity...
Deep in the forests of the distant land of Laka, the Lakash have a thriving civilization built in the vast groves of the yeh tree. A strongly matriarchal civilization with an intricate social code, the Lakash are best known in Micean lands as technically proficient mercenaries and cunning traders. Only male Lakash are known to have left the deep forests of Laka to wander south into the 'civilized' lands. Lakash mercenaries are particularly good with artillery and siege engineering.
The Laka also profess an almost racial dislike of sorcery and mages of all kinds and types. They view all supra-normal manefestations with ill will.
The Al-Rifiki worship the twin gods of the Greater Moon (Knuf) and the Sun (Rakah). The little moon (Nyan) is never spoken of. The priests of Knuf and Rakah are solitary and hermetic, wandering from tribe to tribe adjudicating the legal matters of the people and dispensing the wisdom of the ancients. Deep in the Rikif Sand lie ancient cities, long turned to dust, leaving only wind-pitted spires and eroded edifices of the ancient rulers of Micea. In such demon-haunted metropolises the holy men of the Rikif spend long seasons in meditation and study, slowly reclaiming the lost wisdom of their predecessors.
No creature in the lands of Micea is more feared than the awesome kataii. Easily as large as one of the ferocious war badgers of the northern city-states, the kataii is a revenant from the lower hells of Sarku, Lord of the Undead, or so the peasants and freeholders of the frontiers will tell you. Giant claws, a mouth filled with needle teeth, incredible speed, and voracious appetites for any living thing, the kataii are wide-ranging monsters capable of demolishing an entire town. Luckily for the other inhabitants of Micea, the kataii require an enormous range to support a hunting pair and, further, they dislike water. In recent times the spread of Micean civilization into the forests and hills of Nimur and Gayan has increased the incidence of kataii attacks, leading to large bounties being issued by the Seven Cities League, for example, for kataii kit heads.
Dull and ponderous, with broad faces and large eyes, the hasaii are seen in menial positions throughout the realms of Micea, often as rural laborers and drudge workers. Many mines, quarries, lumbering operations and construction projects are crewed entirely by hasaii laborers with volish and micean supervisors. Noted for their pacific and level disposition the hasaii are bred by many major cities and sold throughout the land. The hasaii are not known to possess a language or intrinsic culture of their own, instead adopting that of their owners.
Also known as the fireblood. The Kurgan is of a reptile race, though unlike the Rifik. It is broadly built and stocky, with pebbly black skin (orange and yellow patterning). Its blood is hot, almost boiling, and it is immune to magic of an overt nature. It is quite strong, though slow-moving in most cases. It is a solitary race with a well-developed verbal mythology. Its lives and memories are long. It gladly uses the tools and artifacts of other races. Originating, at least as popular rumor has it, in the deserts of the far south, the Kurgan is a great traveler, often unexpectedly encountered in odd corners of the world. No more than one Kurgan has ever been seen at one time, however. As each Kurgan refers to itself only as "The Kurgan", the impression is often fostered that there is only one, possibly immortal, Kurgan.
A large race of bear-like creatures that inhabit the endless sub-arctic forests in the far north, living in scattered villages and towns, with a few large cities on the great northern rivers that feed into the boreal sea. They are nominally ruled by a "tzar", who seems to be only the greatest chief of many "boyae" that command the many clans and fiefdoms of Sodeska. Renowned as heavy infantry and fighters, they are sometimes seen in the (to them) hot southern lands as mercenaries, bodyguards and hired muscle.
The Sodeskayans have a rich culture of ribald songs, dance, drinking and pungent epigrams. Like the Kurgan, the Sodeska have a very complex verbal mythology and their own gods of the sky and ice. Oh, they are passable poets, though they - of course - consider themselves to be the finest on all Mirgul. The anecdotal sayings of the Sodeska are well known and have spread beyond the confines of their forested and cold land.
A secretive and reclusive race from the far southern islands, the Takat (shrews) are a small, vicious, race best known for their unbridled energy. Though their homelands are reputedly a raw and primitive place filled with active volcanoes, dangerous jungles and strange vine-covered temples, those Takaii that have made their way into the more settled lands of Mirgul have proven to be exceptionally adept at the new mechanical crafts born from the Micean city-states.
They are argumentative and ruthless, often giving as much offense as they take. Sought out by the criminal underworld of many Micean and Voleimic cities for their peculiar combat and stealthy skills. Though the Takaii presumably have their own language, in Mirgul lands they prefer to speak their own accented version of Micean. Indeed, very little is known of the culture of Taaka (their homeland) or their religion.
The Lernei (martins) hail from the mountain peaks and highland meadows of Pijenta, Kobuti and Uwode. By nature a solitary race, they do not claim cities or nations as their own. Rather they range the towering peaks and valleys of Mirgul on errands of their own. Cunning trackers and skilled huntsmen, they are particular terrors to the Nish, who call them the Ghostmen for their sly skill in the wilderness.
A short race, with broad back-stripes and a short, stubby head, the Lernei possess their own language - but since they see their fellows so seldom, they easily fall into the use of the more common Micean and Volemic tongue to discourse with their neighbors. They are particularly fond of the use of cunning mechanical devices and machines - though they do not undertake the construction of such mechanism's themselves.
Sadly, nothing is known of their own religious uses or practices. For their personal habits, they are noted for their fondness of foul-smelling Agasha cigaretti, which come from the lowland plantations of far southern Agashima.
Also known as the "maggot folk", the "blessed of Nakaf" and the "Skinless Ones". A medium-sized, furless, race with large eyes, clawlike hands and a peculiar spicy smell. Inhabit the underworld of tombs and tunnels beneath the Blackwaste and other portions of the Rifik sands. Believe that they come from the Lesser Moon (Nakaf to the Rifiki) and that they predate all other races on Mirgul and in Bezem. Skilled with tools and implements of all kinds. Speak their own sibilant tongue, with many sub-dialects in the endless tunnels and warrens of Bezem. Possessed of a wide range of technology - in Bezem they use ornate, scalloped, ceramic armors and weapons. After the theft of the Eye of the Hidden World (or the Eye of Devouring) they were forced to come above and undertake commerce with the "zivil" (the other races of Mirgul). The Hűkun are keen smiths and scribes. They are physically divided into several castes or sub-races:
The Neskuilko (the "least") are smaller than a Micean (SIZ 8-9) and form the underclass of farmers, miners, raw soldiers, craftsmen and slaves of the clans and cities of the Hűkun.
The Neyad (the "hands") are average sized (SIZ 9-11) and built. These are the common craftsmen, soldiers and scribes. In bad light they could pass for Shukut or even Micean, as long as their skin (a disgustingly smooth surface with no fur at all, like a snake) were not seen. Unlike the almost non-sentient neskuilko, the neyad are intelligent and cunning. Many of the neyad have mana and become attendants or aides of the K'tayyn. Others have true power and join the myriad secret societies and sorcerers guilds within the Underworld.
The Tokai (the "blinded") are a sub-class of those neyad who have experience in the upper world as traders, scouts and spies.
The Bolzhe (the "great maggot trolls") are a sub-race of the Hûkun bred for size and cunning and ferocity. Quite large (SIZ 13+), the bolzhe are primarily fighters in the service of the K'tayyn and neyad-Hûkun lords. They are organized into fraternities, which teach specific types of fighting skills (both armed and unarmed). Some have served as mercenaries in Vola and Agashan armies in the recent past, particularly as siege engineers. Due to their background in the warrens and mines of Bezem, they do not have much experience with ranged weapons (like bows).
Also known as the Insectmen of Nakaf or the Hidden Masters. The most foul of the races that descended from the Lesser Moon in ancient days; the hideously insectile, multilimbed, eyeless, K'tayyn rule the Hűkun as their utter masters. Skilled in all manner of sorceries and magics, the strangely moving K'tayyn live amongst the maggot folk as flies upon rotted meat. Foremost among their abilities is the skill to move their intellect from body to body. This extends to other races as well, with the "blessed" of the neyad Hűkun being given "eternal" life as crystal enshrouded brains used to power all manner of infernal and nefarious devices. There are many orders, guilds and societies of the K'tayyn and they plot and scheme against one another with a vigor almost unmatched by any other race of society on Mirgul. Some K'tayyn are really very powerful neyad Hűkun who have been 'elevated' to the highest caste. In some remote pits, the immature bodies of true K'tayyn are gown.
Little is known about the loathsome Shukut, but they are widely reputed to infest the labyrinths that riddle the earth beneath the lands of Micea. Great cities of the ancients, particularly in the Obsidian Badlands and Uwode, are known to be their strongholds. In appearance they resemble the agasha, though without any color in their fur or eyes, but any relationship is vehemently denied by the agasha clans. Common rural legends accuse the shukut of theft of babies in their cribs, in the failure of the crops, of blights and pests of all sorts. Some little of the complex and lilting shukut language is known by sages and alchemists, but it is exceptionally difficult to learn, particularly since the shukut themselves do not treat visitors or outsiders with anything but malice and hatred.
The state of relations between the Shukut and the Hűkun are unknown, though given the dispositions of each race, it cannot be favorable.
A very large predatory bird, flightless, with a razor beak and strong legs. Found in marshes, cane-breaks and river bottomland. Lives on fish, unwary Micean fishermen and small animals.
A semi-intelligent race found in far northern climes. Incredibly strong and quick. Rapacious predators with a taste for blood. Few have ever found their way into civilized lands, but those that have inspired legends of their ferocity and evil demeanor. Can use weapons and armor if they find them. Not to be underestimated. The most well known wolverine in recent times was the famous Torg the Slayer, who had a short but brilliant career as a pit-fighter in the arenas of Dyonzal.
Also known as the Blessing of the Eye, Skulleaters or The Blue Death. Another horrid spawn of the Lesser Moon, the vohyom are a flying, tentacle-fringed, creature about the size of a pie-plate. They infest many of the tunnels, crypts and tombs of Bezem, where they are bred by the K'tayyn lords for their succulent taste and other, more dubious, talents. They are close to intelligent and reproduce by affixing themselves to the cranium of a sapient creature (a Micean or hapless Hûkun). Their tentacles then secrete an acid that bores through the skull, allowing hundreds of minute fibrils to enter the brain and spinal cord of the host. This is a particularly agonizing experience for the host and the vohyom feeds upon the rush of chemicals released by the body of the host-creature. With this infusion of raw essence, the vohyom lays hundreds of eggs in the host spinal column; these eggs will grow to maturity in some months, at last erupting through the skin of the back like great purple-black bulboes. The vohyom young will then ooze out, shed an initial amniotic sac and then flutter off into the night like a great cloud of deep blue-violet butterflies.
During the period of egg-growth, the adult vohyom achieves a sentient fusion of its own intellect and that of its host. These "mated" creatures are indeed dreadful, for the vohyom can achieve an almost perfect degree of bodily control over the host body. The "Brides" are often employed by the K'tayyn as assassins and agents in Mirgul lands.
A great dome-shaped creature that inhabits the waterways and sunken rivers of Bezem. It has a tough armored shell, long stilt-like legs, and a mouth filled with ripping and crushing teeth on its underside. Very strong, bone-edged tentacles protrude from its sides, and dull red eyes are spaced around its circumference. It is quite quick and fond of all kinds of meat. It is equally happy above and below water. It spends most of its time under water, however.
Large, ten to twenty meter long, armored worm that burrows and gnaws at the hart of the world. Responsible for many of the coiling and looping tunnels of Bezem. It's thousands of teeth can crush rock into gravel and sand. It is very strong and quick in the open air. It is fond of metals, particularly refined alloys. It has a keen sense of smell. Sometimes presaged by an ozone smell in the air of a close tunnel.
Distended spider-like creature with translucent limbs and body. No visible eyes. Thousands upon thousands of cillia cover its pod-like body. Its feet have broad pads, allowing it to run quickly across the slow-moving lakes and channels of Bezem. Somewhat like the Hellcrab in that it draws its prey up into a central mouth underneath its body to consume.
Also known to the Miceans as the Slinkers. A forest and mountain dwelling race of squirrel-like creatures. They live in clans of one or more villages and support themselves with hunting and gathering, or brigandage and thievery. Their level of toolmaking is pretty much relegated to slings, arrows, carved wood tools and flint-napping. They expend considerable effort, however, in stealing better stuff from other races and communities and are a real hazard in the high mountains.