Umatoe

Hunters of the North

The Aalis were the origin of all the Clans, and of the Umatoes specifically. It is said they wove the mists into snow, then pounded the snow against the sides of the reef mountains as it drifted, pummeling the ice, snow, rock, and coral into one being which they then ripped from the mountainsides. This being leapt from the arms of the creators, falling from the skies down to the rivers and seas of ice. They found long claws useful for running, and proceeded to run from the gods.   When the Aalis sought them out, the Umatoes hid from the gods by digging their way under the ice and finding small shoals in which to hide until they passed. Eventually the creators got bored and went to create other members more willing to abide by them, and left the Umatoes to their own devices.   The big clan took this as a sign, and began to dig their way up from the icey seas, climbing and clawing and claiming all the mountain and the sea they traveled on as theirs. They allowed the other clans to grow at the edges of their borders, but none were allowed to pass beyond.   When the Aalis took notice of their accomplishments and growth, it is said they returned to the Umatoe clan, who did not run this time. They stood their ground, and as the gods came down to enforce will upon the clan, the clan decided they would be the ones enforcing will. The gods had no claim on their clan, they proclaimed, and they would not listen to any creatures, large or small, that they had no wish to listen to. The clan would stay as it was, and would not be ordered around like the others.   The gods looked down upon this decree, and it is said they debated among themselves. One of the gods came forward and challenged them; if they won, the Aalis would leave them. If they failed, they would do all that the Aalis asked of them, including coming back with them into the skies.   The clan agreed, and the challenge was brought forth. But the challenge was a distraction, a farce. For as soon as it was issued, the clan instantly saw it was not one they were meant to win; it was a challenge to swim upward into the frozen wastes and back down again before the next sky-change.   The clan felt the Aalis had already cheated them, and yet they were smarter. The clan as a whole reached into the sides of the mountains, tearing and ripping at the rock and coral and ice, binding them together with the resources of the land to create small, quick fleeting ships able to cross the ice and tundra and waves in one movement -- blades were interjected into the bottoms of the ships for the ice, and they learned natural ways to keep afloat for the water at the ends of the world. They kept their mendings a secret, only to be revealed when necessary.   The day came. The Aalis took mortal form and dove into the waters to swim under the ice, melting it as they went. The Clan set their boats into the ice and raced off, the sleds allowing them to travel faster than they could on paw. The Aalis were shocked by this invention and had not understood it, for the Clan used no magic in its construction.   The groups raced, the Aalis doing all they could to stall or destroy the crafts so the Clan could not win. One member, a smaller Umatoe, saw the attack coming in the NeverWaters and leapt clear of the attack, diving into the cold black waters and right at her attacker. Legend says she wrestled and fought with the Aalis, tearing the fins from the god and fixing them to her own tail with borrowed magic. She swallowed gulps of air and set off after her fellows, speeding past the boards and the Aalis.   Her tail allowed her to swim faster than the others, her small size allowing her to slip through and around obstacles until she reached the World’s End. It is said a single Aalis sat at the center of the waterfall, waiting. The Aalis explained she was sent ahead to say that the Aalis had won, but was impressed by the Clan’s cunning and the fearlessness of the Umatoe herself.   Here, the stories diverge. Some say the Umatoe was unimpressed and angered at the gods trickery and attacked the Aalis, killing her. It is said the act of killing her and shedding her blood enabled the Umatoe to steal her magic and solidify the fins around her tail and the air-pocket at the base of her neck. Others say the Aalis gifted the Umatoe with true fins and the air-pouch as a reward for her cunning and ruthlessness.   Either way, it is said that when the racing Aalis finally arrived at World’s End, neither the Aalis nor the Umatoe were present. They rushed back to the land to find the Umatoe had already beaten them, flashing her fins and throat-pouch in a loud proclamation of freedom. The gods had lost, and she demanded they leave the mountains and never return.   That Umatoe became the Nhaemuki, leader of all the Umatoe clans, and it is said that all female Umatoes can follow their ancestry to her. It is also said that when the Nhaemuki died, she was taken away from the mountaintop by the ghost of the Aalis she found at World’s End, and that every Nhaemuki after her meets the same fate upon death.

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

Primary basic langauge: Reumto

Culture and cultural heritage

The general attitude of the umatoe clan has to do with a combination of self-reliance and respect for those proven over you. But this respect doesn’t mitigate a lack of action; indeed, if you have opportunity and means, you take authority for yourself and become the higher power.   Any idea that you must rely on something other than you and your tribe is seen as a bit ridiculous, and therefore worship and cults are not something Uma do or follow in the general populous. This is not to say they are not superstitious, believing in the Gifts of the AllMother, the Luck of Niniiho, the recitation of Uma legends and putting stock in rituals such as The Hunt and The Judgement. These are on the more honorable side of the Uma belief system, the righteous and the honorable, and they are to be respected and honored but primarily due to what they achieved on their own; if a Hunt was carried out by cheating, by using magic, or by something else, then it was not an honorable hunt and therefore not worthy of recognition.   Acts of Hunting, Skimming, and Mimicking are among the higher order of respect, and are only honored when done with no magic or extremely limited amounts and only in the vein of self-affecting magic. If you influence the elements in your favor while hunting, for example, then the Hunt is not an honorable one. (NOTE:‘Hunting’ as an act is different from hunting for food or resources; these can be done any way you choose and no one will bat an eye) These actions are based upon skill and skill alone, including accurately assessing yourself vs your target. If you judge that you can take it alone and are incorrect, it is not honorable. Likewise, if you think you need a team and it was something you could have easily handled yourself, it is also not honorable (and sometimes dishonorable depending on what you were trying to accomplish and how much of an overkill the team was).   Acts of thievery, looting, pickpocketing, brawling, dealing, double-dealing, and general wayward mayhem are acceptable neutral behavior in accordance to whatever Waypoint Rules happen to be in play at the time -- and while each Waypoint has their own version of what the Rules actually mean, generally all Waypoints are in accordance to what the AllMother specifically lays down. She is the only one with a final say as far as Rules That Shall Not Be Questioned. The only thing that makes this kind of behavior ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ is if you get caught (stealing, double-dealing, pickpocketing) or if you hit below the belt/outside of the rules (brawling, dealing, looting). (NOTE: you can use magic or skill for any of these, as they are neutral acts and no one cares one way or the other how the end goal is achieved)   Acts of betrayal, assassinations, intimidation, sucker-punches or pot-shots, lying about honorable deeds, dishonoring the dead, or political actions are dishonorable completely -- and some can get you banned for a Waypoint or worse. Several of these are in line with the Rules of the AllMother, and many have the same base sentiment; if you cannot look your enemy in the eye, you cannot take action against him. Underhanded deeds designed to undercut your enemy, to hurt, damage, or otherwise kill him in any way without giving him enough respect to see it coming and take action accordingly is dishonorable, and is never to be done. To follow through and do so turns the clan against you, and enough of those actions piled together earns you a black mark and a boot from all Waypoints, establishing you as a prey to be hunted and harassed until the day you die. You are never allowed to sleep, to eat, to rest, without knowledge that you are now prey. Any settlement or structure you make will be found and torn down. If guards see you attempting to leave, you will be stopped and chased back into The Domain. If you are injured you will not receive help unless you are on the brink of death, in which case you are to be treated only enough to get you back on your feet, for you are not allowed to die without great pains and suffering. Even on that day, they say death will not be a release, for if you do not undo the mark it will send you into The Hollows, to forever be tortured and hunted in the afterlife as well.   To that end, it is said that the mark of the AllMother appears with enough Dishonor (put there by magic of the AllMother herself), yet there is a chance of removal. For Honor is not gained by recognition of your peers, but by recognition of the land and of yourself. Gaining Honor is the only way to release the Mark of the AllMother, and it will disappear as it appeared. But you must maintain this Honor as best as you can, or the Mark will return and you will be Judged -- this time not by life in the land, but by the ghosts of The Hollows. For the AllMother is only forgiving to a point.   (So basically, if you start a fight with someone in authority over you, get into a brawl, beat the snot out of him and then take his place, that’s perfectly acceptable, as is making a deal with a higher-up, challenging him to a match, stealing his right of authority, or just straight-up killing him in a brawl or hand-to-hand match. Assassinating him, killing him in cold blood, or framing him on the other hand, are not acceptable and can lower your standing/land you in really hot water if anyone figures out it’s you.)

Shared customary codes and values

  • Honor
  • Territorial Law
  • Nhuameki
  • Community of individuals
  • Judge your task according to your skillset, and judge accurately.

Common Etiquette rules

  • Keep your tail low/even when you meet strangers unless you are directly asking for a fight.
  • If claws come out, the rules go out with them.
  • Do not start a fight or a hunt you do not intend to finish.
  • For something taken, something is given.
  • You must give your target or opponent some awareness of your intentions (it is up to them to respond accurately).

Common Dress code

Soft and flexible. Beaten leather or tightly-woven grass that stretches and conforms to shape without constriction. Usually applied in distinct separate plates or squares that attach through rope or a sticky substance to allow for maximum amount of shifting and movement. Back is always covered in a single piece, while chest and stomach are two separate pieces and are often optional. The tail is never covered.
Bracers around the wrists are standard, either two stiffer pieces with stretchy material between or a single band of stretchable leather/membrane-like cloth. Non-combatants often wear more see-through types of fabric/clothing to allow for their markings to show. Combatants or those that are active outside of the Waypoints will have apparel that is embedded/painted/decorated with their own set of marks, so camouflage/identification is not altered or hampered. Those that are sea/water-faring will often take material that is lighter but more strongly reinforced as to not weigh them down in the water but still be able to defend from sea creatures, the side-effects of which are sometimes reflection of the surroundings which often helps them blend in with sight-based water creatures as it helps to hide them underwater. Those of the ice take the middle, with light to medium apparel but no additional reinforcements, while those in the mountains will often be in medium to thick apparel, with strong but supple material and reinforcements to take off bulk or weight without damaging the effectiveness.

Art & Architecture

Architecture:
Interlocking joints through pulley, rope, stone, locking and unlocking hinged-joint mechanisms. Planks made of carved coral and rock, stone fixtures and leather sails. Lots of curves and swoops for strength of sailing combined with pillars for support, tent-like doors/separators, ceilings and covers twice the height of a regular Uma at its tallest. Eventually introduced with bio-luminescent light, usually in the form of specifically-grown plant/animal matter cultivated on the inside or sides of the structures/mast. Walls are textured panels, usually with a bar or straight design along the very middle. Every piece is carved and polished, and if rough patches are left it is for specific purpose or reason. Eventually central pillars were raised with the specific intention for sharpening claws/tusks, and ramps, platforms, and ropes were designed for floor-to-floor access, although some simply have rough walls with holes between floors to allow for direct climbing/leaping access.
Sleeping is always done on the top floor. Beds of woven grass, stretched leather, or circle of outstretched pillars are typical, with a combination eventually coming into being as standard, where the beds are raised off the floor via short pillar, several branch-like pillars extending outward in a circle, a leather tarp put down and the center filled with woven grass, either open or encased in a soft material. The beams/branches are usually worked so that they are either connected to each other or to a nearby wall, can be at varying heights with various ways to get up to each one (plank, ramp, rope, jump, climb), and generally are placed in a circular pattern so there is still room to move on the floor without disturbing others.
Holes eventually were carved into the centers of rooms to provide context; some holes were filled with water to grow fisheries, some were filled with salt or sand or dirt for farming, some were filled with piles of naniahiar (a type of coal), etc. Mats or platforms grew to circle the pits for those tending their fare to rest during the day, while general resting places were comprised of raised platforms, usually in an open center with steps, ramps, or ropes for access to both the platforms from the floor and from each other. Planks and tunnels were introduced to the resting areas between the ceiling and the floor as walking ways, and eventually these walkways began to extend outside the dwellings, connecting nearby structures to each other or to structures across the way. The more extensive the walkway, the more support it needed from underneath, but alongside that the pillars were designed so those walking under them had easy access using said pillars to climb, either straight or with ramps and platforms.

Coming of Age Rites

The Hunt:
The Hunt as a 'coming of age' has less to do with actual age and more to do with maturity and ability, whatever age you happen to be.
The candidate: An Umatoe that feels they are ready to participate in The Hunt. Of any age. To gather with the rest on the edge of the Boonylo territory, a frozen hunting ground used only for The Hunt, a gathering that happens officially once a revolution.
The Sponsor: An older Umatoe that has already been accepted into a clan. Comes into play one of two ways: either a willing Sponsor looking to add to his clan joins the gathering looking for Uma he/she'd like to guide, or arrangements have already been made and he/she is simply showing up as a matter of ritual.
The Hunt: Once Sponsor and Candidate are matched up, the two descend the mountain into Boonylo and split off from the group. The goal is to find your way into a cave guarded by a massive creature, defeat the creature and come back with a trophy as proof you have completed the quest. However, you are not to harm the young, the eggs, or take more than needed to prove what you killed. The Sponsor is not there to help, he/she is there to observe and make a judgement call at the end and, should a life-or-death situation arrive, to drag the candidate's butt out from the fire.
The Result: Once a candidate returns from his/her hunt, the sponsor makes a recommendation. He/she has observed if the candidate judged skill and task accurately, if the candidate disobeyed the few rules, if the candidate took time to respect the kill or simply left it on the ice, etc. The recommendation is 1.) if the candidate is mature enough to be considered to have passed the test and 2.) to which Clan/Territory/Group the candidate would be best suited.
The Aftermath: Once a candidate has passed the test, they can decide if they will join the recommended clan or strike out on their own. If they choose to be part of the recommended clan/territory/group, they have a few Seasons in which the clan/territory/group tests to see if the recommendation was correct; if it was, that Uma is officially accepted. If it was not, the Uma is not kicked out but not accepted, and must try again later. After the official decision is made, said Uma can choose to stay or to strike out and live alone (but if already accepted, still receives full benefit, rank, and title of status).
The Point: Before an Uma passes the test, adult or cub, they are permitted to learn and practice any trade, but not allowed to participate in any official capacity, simply because their abilities are not counted as known. Therefore, if anyone is picking other Uma for a hunting party/exploration party/trade party/etc, the unassigned Uma cannot be chosen because the one asking for help doesn't officially know what the unassigned can do, and therefore doesn't know if the unassigned is needed or not. After the test, the skills and abilities are known and can be utilized accordingly, even if the Uma has chosen to go off and live by themselves. They are allowed to participate anywhere in the clan/territory/group they wish, be picked for quests/jobs, and have a call for help answered by honor of the clan (assuming the call for help was genuine).

Funerary and Memorial customs

Bodies are taken en-mass once a cycle to Rahnie, set upon Skimmers specifically made for carrying a single body (or double, if circumstances call for it) with designs and marks to show it’s cargo (honorable charge, which clan they belonged to, what they were like, etc) and are attached to Rahnie, which then sets out. If there are many, some are brought to the mountain’s edge of Sanumor, where each Skimmer is attached via rope and let out long enough to know the waters will catch.   The symbolism is that the soul has already been dissolved into mist and the body be returned to World’s End.   Rahnie anchors outstretched with Skimmers from all participants that have them, from mountain’s edge to Sanumor, with the current catching at the death-barge skimmers. A song is sung, the rite passed of history and legend and the community of all Uma.

Common Myths and Legends

Myths:
  • Iohnirahu is a prison/trap for the Atmu.
  • The Atmu of legend still live under the ice, and one day they will return.
  • There is life in the Frozen Seas. The worst of which has never been seen by survivors. It was created and left by the Atmu as a guardian, a barrier to crossing the cold wastes.
  • Atmu are deceitful and destructive. Very few are helpful, and none are worthy of trust.
Legends:
  • Nheukrioh; story of Nhaeumeki and the race against the Atmu
  • The Path to Iohnirahu/Keep of the Atmu
  • Ghost of the mountains
  • Hidden Hoard
  • Path of Padu
  • Ryclo, Ice-Speaker, and how she raised the ice with no magic
  • Rhnahkoai and The First Nahkos Hunt
  • The Lost Souls (of Loiohem Fields)
  • How Sruhnahe carved a home into the mountains
  • Discovery of Raonleioheni (and the last known of the hunters that went inside)
  • How Horioh became a Bloodforest
  • First Bopun Hunt
  • The birth and fall of Pustunitry, in the original age
  • The rise of Lobiio
  • The cunning of Nanielni
  • The curse of the Onysea
  • The corruption of Setu

Historical figures

  • Nhaemuki, All-Mother
  • Ryclo, Ice-Speaker
  • Rhnahkoai, The Hunter
  • Sruhnahe, Mountain-Claw
  • Nanielni, ShadowSkin
  • Lobiio, The Living Deception

Major organizations

  • Nharau/Arau: Rouges of Nhaemuki
  • Araryc - Arau that serve Ryclo
  • Nhagas, Nhaemuki’s Fighters
  • Gaehutia, Brawlers of the mountain

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