The Roctane of Stelwen have endured their harsh land for generations, creating a culture of survivalists and innovators. Stelwen has produced some of Nostrina
's finest warriors and mages, whose mettle was tested continuously by their alien home.
The Roctane are a race of elves with sharp facial features and red-brown skin, though their most fascinating features are their bones, teeth, and hair, which have various metals mixed into them. Bronze, copper, and iron meld with calcium to create more rigid bones and teeth that channel magical energies through their bodies more easily. Roctane hair has an extremely thin layer of metal coating, made of either iron, copper, osmium, silver, platinum, or gold. These metals determine the color of an individual's hair; in the case of iron and copper hair, the color changes as the metal oxidizes, changing the color of their hair along with it. All these attributes combined allow the Roctane to become some of Nostrina's greatest mages.
As the Decentur faith took hold of the elven population of the Genesis Peninsula, some were driven away by the prophet's rhetoric of sin and shame. The peninsula was no longer safe, with fanatics threatening them with death if they wouldn't heed Father Magnus's words. in 842 AE, two groups, each made up of less than a hundred individuals, fled the peninsula. The first fleeing to the north and the second sailing far to the south. The group that went north would eventually find themselves in the frozen lands of Enceladus and become the nimble Frost Elves
, while the group that went south would make a new home in the Fertile Land, Stelwen.
Stelwen, in all its verdant beauty, was a dangerous and unforgiving land. The dense forests of the northern coast were treacherous and full of hidden dangers. Ferocious beasts like the Bunyip and the Monarch Drake proved to be insurmountable obstacles for the settlers. At the same time, terrifying giant spiders crept in the dark corners of the forest, waiting to strike at oblivious prey. Despite the challenges, the elven settlers persisted, and future generations reaped the rewards.
The settlement of Sectum continued to grow, overcoming the challenges once posed by the environment. The first generation of children born in the settlement already began developing the red-brown skin and the sharper features of their modern-day descendants. Slowly but surely, the early Roctane expanded out of Sectum into the wilds, claiming more territory for the newly emerging elven society. Soon, the strangeness of elven evolution began giving children the Roctane's most distinct traits, their metal-coated hair and unique bone structure.
Reign of Queen Mulloran
In the early years of the Roctane, the elves were scattered across the continent with little to no unity. Only the villages in the north near the town of Sectum had any true unity. A power vacuum was beginning to form on the continent, one that Queen Mulloran would fill.
Born in a village tucked away to the southeast of Sectum, Mulloran Wingyah was seemingly born with ambitions to lead. In her early adulthood, she would become her village's leader and oversee expanding and linking the Roctane colonies. By 913 AE, the eastern colonies were under the rule of the newly titled Queen Mulloran, who was now expanding her rule towards the west. Sectum and its surrounding villages were resistant to the Queen's expansion at first, leading to a short conflict that would see Sectum's forces defeated by the young queen. With most Roctane colonies under her rule, Mulloran expanded Sectum and the eastern colonies, expanding roads and trade routes. Out of respect for being the first Roctane settlement, Sectum was named the new capital of the budding society.
As Sectum and the eastern colonies grew under Queen Mulloran, the western territories began preparations for resistance. Fearful of losing their identity and freedom, the west came together with the common goal of repelling the queen from the east. In 916 AE, Queen Mulloran and the combined forces of the western colonies clashed in what would come to be known as the Akpen Seige. This bloody conflict lasted for three years, stretched on by the western colonies' guerilla tactics against the Queen's better-equipped forces. By 919 AE, the western colonies would eventually surrender when the queen's forces captured the town of Akpenera, the de facto capital of the western territories. Queen Mulloran and the western colonies signed a peace treaty that gave the western colonies a degree of autonomy under her rule. The newly named state of Akpen would create its own governing body headed by a minister that answered to her. This treaty would be the beginning of the governmental system of Stelwen that still stands in the second era.
Queen Mulloran would eventually pass away on 1003 AE, pass on the throne to her daughter Mithyana. Mithyana's ascension to the throne marked the true beginning of the Wingyah dynasty and established the rules of ascension in Stelwen. Queen Mulloran's legacy as the first queen and as the one who founded the Stelwen government as it stands today is looked upon fondly by the Roctane.
Rise of the Orkina and the Discovery of the Reaching Hand
Years of isolation from the rest of Nostrina allowed the elves of Stelwen to develop a unique culture. Ununified cults and spiritual orders took root among the scattered towns and cities. Many of these groups were short-lived, either being phased out by new beliefs or overtaken by rivals. The one exception to this was the Orkina, the followers of the Ancient Gods. Originating out of the small seaside village of Vas Otamma, the Orkina worshipped the Ancient Gods, a collection of powerful spirits from the dawn of the world.
What made these beliefs succeed were other groups failed was the faith's accessibility. Narratal, the credited founder of the group, chose not to impose one specific view of the Ancient Gods, instead allowing newcomers to view them as they wished. Even in its earliest days, new Orkina sects emerged, unified by their belief in the Ancient Gods.
The growth of the Orkina faith accelerated when the The Reaching Hand
was discovered in the Ratr Isva Wasteland
wasteland at the heart of Stelwen. Protected by the imposing Ansulluk Mountains and the harsh Ratr Isva, the massive metal spikes remained hidden from the Roctane until 1061 AE. A brave explorer named Warnda and his band battled through the treacherous Ansulluk mountains and the dusty wastes of the Ratr Isva to lay their eyes upon the Reaching Hand. News of their discovery quickly spread across Stelwen like wildfire.
The Orkina faithful were particularly ecstatic, however, as the existence of the mysterious structure seemingly proved the existence of the Ancient Gods that would sway any non-believers. In the Orkina stories, the twin gods Udamar and Tubera sacrificed themselves to create existence and stave off the all-consuming nothingness of Inan. According to Orkina beliefs, the remains of the twin gods could be found somewhere in the world, serving as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice.
Spiritual fervor spread across the Roctane, now more emboldened by their beliefs than ever before. Queen Mithyana would create the Orkina Temple, an administrative body that rules over the numerous sects. Within the Ratr Isva, the town of Bal Assandi was constructed by Orkina faithful to live alongside Udamar and Tubera's remains.
In 2831 AE, conflict began to brew in the State of Akpen. Rumors of the incredible power of the Dreddars were circulating among the Roctane, intrigued by these supposed "New Gods," as some called them. Stories of them slaying an all-powerful being and taking its power caught the ears of the curious. Fearing a possible coup by what she called The Dreddar Cult, Minister Cadayan attempted to squash this group before the situation could get out of hand. Months later, her fears were realized as a mob led by Serra and Beloran Dreddar stormed Mor Akpenera. In a display of their great power, the Dreddars turned every government official to dust in an instant, with Minister Cadayan seemingly banished from Nostrina entirely; the exact details of her fate are still unknown.
Stelwen's Queen at the time, Tubanda, unleashed the full might of her army upon the Akpen, attacking from the north and south. She hoped to overwhelm the Dreddar's forces with this two-pronged attack, and it seemingly did at first. However, when the Dreddar's themselves entered the fight, things took a turn for the worst for the Queen's forces. Serra Dreddar, the matriarch of the family, decimated entire battalions by making every one of their heads explode. With control over Akpen secured, the Dreddars began preparing for the eventual attacks from the rest of Stelwen. Beloran and his daughter Calvila cut through the Queen's warriors as the immortal blademasters they were. Uvekthis, the second child, unleashed violent and blinding storms of lightning upon the soldiers who stood little chance against his onslaught.
With the Queen's army in ruins, Tubanda's only option left was to accept the Dreddar's demands for independence. The territory initially belonging to the state of Akpen was now renamed Derraken. The new government, headed by Beloran Dreddar, would have no representation or support from the rest of Stelwen. Trade embargos were placed on Derraken in an attempt to weaken it, which led to the Dreddars reaching out across the sea and conducting trade with Nyajumo, Drakkard, Barbaross, and their ancestral home of San Cardel. Queen Tubanda's embargos had invertedly opened the flood gates to a new wave of foreign merchants, travelers, and diplomats to the once isolated Roctane. Derraken had become fairly open to foreigners while the Roctane of the other states became more xenophobic.
Traditional Roctane culture often emphasizes personal discovery. The Orkina faith is as much of a religion as a tool to grow one's mind. Young Roctane are meant to hear the stories of the Ancient Gods and draw their own meanings from them, carrying the lessons they learned into their adult life. As adults, Roctane are given a choice to either serve Stelwen through a political or military career or live freely and pursue their own goals in life. Starting from the bottom of their state's government, individuals can slowly climb up the ranks of the political hierarchy, with some possibly being elected to become the ruler of Stelwen. If politics is unappealing, one may also become a warrior for Stelwen's army, which battles against foreign and domestic threats.
With their bodies being near perfect conduits for magic, it should be no surprise that it plays a big part in their society, with many Roctane children beginning to learn how to use it from an early age. Spread across Stelwen are independent magical institutions that train new mages and study new and innovative uses for the arcane. Magical practices commonly banned from other institutions like necromancy and conjuration are openly practiced by Roctane mages, although magic using the element Entropy is still treated with extreme caution. Many of these groups also assist Stelwen's armies by teaching techniques that can be combined with their weapons or using magic to assist warriors during conflicts.
Stelwen's government is ruled over by a monarchy that oversees all aspects of the government and signs new laws into effect. The crown's succession line starts with the oldest daughter and continues down the line of daughters, only starting with sons once there are no other female heirs. Under the monarch is a parliament made of one head representative from each state and nine minor representatives. The seven head representatives bring new laws and policies to the floor, to which the minor representatives will then vote on. When there are no more heirs to the throne, the parliament with vote on which head representative will become the new ruler of Stelwen. The Ecratta Isul is the military leader of Stelwen and answers only to the monarch and can veto laws if they feel they would interfere with military operations. In a similar vein, the Orkina Temple handles all matters pertaining to the Orkina faith in Stelwen.
In Derraken, the separatist nation led by the Dreddar family, all government and religious matters are controlled by the self-proclaimed New Gods. Beloran Dreddar is the king of the separatist country, handling foreign affairs and everyday operation of the land, while his wife, Serra, is the religious leader and is seen by many as the true head of the Dreddar family. Their daughter, Blademaster Calvila, the oldest child, leads the Dreddar's military forces clad in brilliant golden armor.
After the Derraken gained its independence from Stelwen, much of the traditional Roctane culture was replaced by one centered around the Dreddars. The old Orkina faith was wiped out by the Dreddar's faithful, with the few remaining Orkina worshippers fleeing the country or practicing their faith in secret, lest they catch the attention of Arven Dreddar, the executioner of the family. Serving one's country shifted from a personal choice and almost a requirement with the military recruitment being pushed on young Roctane and independent magical groups being consolidated into one that served the Dreddars. The domain of the Dreddars is far more open to foreigners than the rest of Stelwen, having both a sizable Barbarossan military presence and the largest population of Unganna
outside of their homeland of Nyojuma. In comparison to the rest of Stelwen, the Roctane in Derraken are somewhat welcoming to outsiders. Derraken is seen as the first stepping stone for those looking to travel across Stelwen.
The primary language of the Roctane is Roctanik, which like Dissenan and Cardeña, is an offshoot of the old Arrini language. Roctanik has two variants, Common Roctanik and Western Roctanik. Common Roctanik is the more widely spoken of the two, while Western Roctanik is only really found in the country of Derraken. Common Roctanik is softer sounding than the western counterpart, incorporating more of its Arrini roots within its vocabulary. Western Roctanik is harsher sounding and draws upon its Arrini roots far less.
Roctane names consist of a first name, a State name, and a Union name. An individual's State name acts similarly to a middle name, used as an identifier for which Roctane state an individual was born in. If a Roctane were born outside of Stelwen, their State name would be whatever country they were born in. The Union name is a familial name that combines the names of the individual's parents. Those who grew up without their birth parents or under a different family will take on their caretaker's Union name.
The names for places also follow similarly rigid conventions. Settlements will always use two words, with the first word designating the type of place it is. Examples of this are Vas for villages, Bal for towns, or Mor for cities. Religious sites will use Ron for shrines or Tekra for temples. The second part of a place's name is its actual name, which, when translated, is either descriptive of the location or has a name with its own unique translation. An example of the latter is Bal Assandi, whose name directly translates to "Under the Divine Remnant."
Art and Architecture
The architecture in Stelwen is quite varied among the Roctane provinces, who have each adapted their structures to suit their environment. In the state of Syrakyes, which contains many of Stelwen's oldest settlements, one can notice the faint hints of the old rigid Cardinal Elven style among the newer curved structures. Enfluport, which encompasses Stelwen's eastern regions, utilizes the curvier architecture while digging into the earth to create tunnel networks and underground settlements. The southeastern Province of Utek uses far fewer stone structures in favor of large wooden structures to fit its tropical climate. Off the eastern coast is the Eskratir Archipelago
, a trade and agricultural hub with a similar style to its mainland counterparts. Mongrasil, a region that mostly remains unclaimed by Roctane, has most of its citizens living in mountainside settlements made with rigid stone. Rural communities in this state utilize the towering trees to their advantage, creating high rising and interconnected homes within the branches of the trees. Piramer, bordering the separatist nation of Derraken, contains fortified cities weathered by the many conflicts with its neighboring country. Lastly, the northwestern province Ugarra
incorporates the curved style of the east and combines nature's untamed might to create chaotic and somehow still orderly structures.
Derraken, which separated from the rest of Stelwen during the Dreddar Insurrection, utilizes many different building styles from other countries. One of the most prominent is the rustic Barbarossan buildings surrounding their embassies and military installations. In the northeast of Derraken, which has the largest population of Unganna
outside of Nyojuma, features settlements built with the race's eerie angular stone style. Mor Akpenrra, the oldest city in Derraken, still uses the traditional Roctane techniques, while some newer parts of the city feature Barbarossan designed buildings.
Roctane art is defined by its abstract symbolism and cryptic meanings. This can best be seen with Orkina religious artwork, which often tells stories of the Ancient Gods in great tapestries depicting their gods and their actions through runes and symbols. This practice was initially born out of the Orkina's ideals of promoting higher thinking among its followers but has taken on a new identity as a cultural art form. Traditional Roctane art rarely depicts elves or animals directly. Even the separatist nation of Derraken still uses this style, although they use abstract depictions of the elven form in combination with the symbolism.
There are some who'd argue that the Roctane have made an art form out of their use of animal parts. Everything from tents, apparel, weapons, decorations, and even culinary wares are often made of animal parts in Stelwen. Roctane armor is distinguished by its heavy use of scale and bone alongside traditional metals, with citizens wearing standard fabrics with additions using skins, fur, bones, chitin, teeth, and scales. Drakewing clothing and cloaks made with spiders' bodies remain popular choices among Roctane nobles and mages.
Having broken off from the main body of elves early in the Ancestral Era, the Roctane have developed their spiritual beliefs without outside influences. In the early years of their life on Stelwen, many short lives cults formed in the treacherous forests of the fertile land. The only survivor of these cults was the Orkina, the followers of the Ancient Gods. Over time, the beliefs of the Orkina spread across Stelwen and became the primary faith on the continent.
The central focal point of the Orkina faith is the Ancient Gods, a collection of powerful beings from the dawn of the world who've shaped the world with their actions. Instead of dictating one perspective on these gods, the Orkina allows the worshiper to draw their own conclusions on the Ancient Gods. As a result, many different religious sects and cults have formed with their unique interpretations of the Ancient Gods. This practice intends to promote open-mindedness and critical thinking in their followers, rather than becoming mindless zealots who blindly worship the gods unquestioningly. The Orkina Temple is an administrative body serving under the monarch, governing all Orkina sects and hunting down dangerous cults.
For many centuries, the Orkina stood unchallenged as the dominant faith in Stelwen, but that changed in 3831 AE when the Dreddars took control of the Akpen region of western Stelwen. Serra Dreddar and her husband Beloran attained immortality and incredible power. They gathered a massive following and succeeded from the rest of Stelwen, forming the new nation of Derraken. The old Orkina faith was wiped from the Dreddar's domain, left only to secretive cults practicing the old faith out of sight of their new gods. Devotion and fear are synonymous feelings for the followers of the Dreddars.
Serra and Beloran would share their power with Beloran's brother, Arven, and their three children, Calvila, Uvekthis, and Adurus. Serra Dreddar is the spiritual leader of Derraken, while Beloran is the political head of the nation. Arven is the Dreddar's executioner, feared by any who would stand in the way of the family. Serra and Beloran's first child, Calvila, is the military leader for the Dreddars, leading the charge in the war to secure their control over Akpen independence. Their second child, Uvekthis, is a mysterious individual who is rarely seen by the Roctane, although he is known for the powerful lightning storms he commands. The youngest child, Adurus, has left Nostrina searching for new and greater sources of power to further the plans of the Dreddars and fuel her ambitions.