I can't possibly perceive what modicum of culture those northern commoners possess! Why, a Gish woman would enter a wrestling match against her own wife before she would even consider an attempt to understand basic social etiquette. Zephyrs, I wouldn't put it beyond her to wrestle her own wife regardless! I cannot believe my people were conquered by such a barbaric race three centuries prior. -Poram Tseka, Shiv Diplomat, on her encounters with the common folk of Rezhita. Circa 372 AWThe Gish are one of the largest ethnic groups in Northern Reish, and one of the oldest. The first Gish appear sometime around 850 BW, arriving as nomads from the southeast, likely one of many nomadic tribes clustered around the Gish Sea that spoke Betlao-Gish languages. Upon arriving on the western coast of the Gish Sea, the Gish, likely carrying the latest in iron weaponry, invaded the native Nevavi tribes, forcing them northward and onto the various islands dotting the Gish Sea and the coast of northern Gishik. With the Gish putting down roots in the south, they quickly became sedentary and adopted a fully agricultural lifestyle.
The merchants hailing from the lands of the barbarian Ozav provide us strange pottery not of their own design. They tell us that it comes from the "Kis" people in the north, whoever they may be. I have not heard of these Kis, but I assume they are of equal unimportance as their Ozav cousins. -An ancient Old Betlao stone tablet, marking the first written record of the Gish known to GaizhaA few hundred years later, the first Gish kingdom appeared on the southeastern coast of the Gish Sea, adopting the writing system of the Betlao, who they did some indirect trade with through the Shiv. Various other kingdoms showed up, although the only ones with considerable power were the ones with trade routes along the Gish Sea. For another century, the Gish enjoyed a brief peaceful age, but were soon conquered by the Betlao in 518 BW. For the next two hundred years, the Gish, which were not yet a cohesive group, were grouped into the conquered territory known to the Betlao as "Kisik". But in 325 BW, a massive ritual gone wrong tore open a hole into the Primal Home, allowing hundreds of Storm Elementals to pour out. These Elementals murdered both the Gish and each other in the hundreds, until twelve of the most powerful remained. A Gish mage named Optur Goshika sacrificed himself to seal the portal, but the damage was already done. The twelve "Elemental Kings" ousted Kisik from Betlao control, turning it into their own Elemental empire.
The demons, with their eyes of thunder and their skin of lightning! Oh, how they torment us! Oh, how they humiliate us! Sweet Gtopre, lead us to salvation with your joyous song upon the wind... -The opening lines of Lamentations of the Storm, a poem an anonymous poet fleeing to Northern Gishik circa 300 BWUnder the brutal oppression of the Elemental Kings, the Gish worked as a slave race for their overlords, doing menial labor and acting as sacrifices for the magical experiments done by the Kings. Worship of Gtopre - a minor Gish god of the spring wind, the underworld, and freedom - became widespread under Elemental rule. In Redeko, the only free city in Kisik (now called Gishik), Gtopre's cult became the cult of many of the city's leading politicians. Hope seemed to be lost for the Gish, and possibly all of Reish, when a young girl was born in a small village under Redeko's control in 1 AW. This girl was Gikzha Tama, the Windspeaker, and she would change history.
A storm churns on the horizon! Praise be to the Windspeaker! May she be a brilliant bolt of lightning in this maelstrom of unholy darkness! -Battle cry of Pralim Ruzhta, wife of Gikzha Tama and second Empress of the Gish Empire during the Battle of Bleeding Thunder, circa 21 AWGikzha moved to Redeko in her late teens to study the arts of storm magic. When she arrived, she learned of Voidstone, a strange black rock discovered in Redeko's famous Vusha Mine. All of the most popular citizens were wearing it, so as she did, Gikzha bought a chunk of voidstone and had it forged into a knife. Months later, on a mission to investigate the sighting of a Maishadok, Gikzha's group of students were attacked by an elemental scout. In her panic, Gikzha used storm magic to hurtle towards her attacker and stabbed it with her voidstone knife, trapping it inside. Armed with this revolutionary scientific discovery, Gikzha took it upon herself to conquer the former capital of Kisik, Rezhita, from its elemental ruler, known to the Gish as Kubkot the Hurricane. With a small posse of brave and/or suicidal mages, Gikzha made her way to Rezhita. There, she met Pralim Ruzhta, a rebellious fire mage and her team of other rebel slave-mages. Together, the two staged a giant slave uprising known as the Battle of Bleeding Thunder. Soon after, Gikzha defeated and imprisoned the other eleven Elemental Kings and established the Gish Empire, with her as its Empress. The populace of Gikzha's new empire seemed to view her as a divine emissary from Gtopre, who was being increasingly viewed as the one true god. Gikzha began to believe in her own divine power (or perhaps she simply acted the part for the sake of greater political unity among her subjects), and the Church of Wind Worship began to spread across the empire with great speed.
And upon the lake the Windspeaker was born,The Gish Empire (and Wind Worship) spread rapidly, conquering old Betlao territory, much of what became modern Shivish, Uddat, nomadic Okrif lands even further northwest, and even small parts of the mountainous domain of the Antom tribes, although not for long. The empire enjoyed almost a century and a half of peace, before a sharp decline took place. The Shiv became tired of Gish leaders owning their land and ordering mass killings of their more rebellious brethren, and the Antom were simply tired of being invaded. The Gish monarchy and aristocracy themselves lived lives of great riches and hedonism, while even their own Gish citizens suffered just outside their manors. Large-scale rebellions began to become common all over the empire, and in 243 AW, Shivish seceded, with the help of a small army of Antom mercenaries. As the Gish attempted to organize their armies and regain political control over both Gishik and Shivish, local Shiv leaders began infighting among themselves, and several smaller groups broke off to form their own queendoms. The largest queendom, which kept the name of Shivish, invaded Gishik, aiming to take Rezhita, but were miraculously stopped by Sanapik Goskarsta, a Gish general. This, however, was not enough to save the Empire from crumbling.
Under the storm and under the rain.
And purest truth was given to Man at last. -The final words of the Birth, the first book of the Prikanon, the holy book of Wind Worship.
Our own generals order the destruction of our lands. Our own soldiers pillage our towns and murder our children. This is the end of times, indeed. -Entry in the diary of a Gish farmer at the beginning of the Crimson Years, circa 249 AWVarious local warlords began tearing the political fabric of Gishik apart. Many of them desired the former Imperial capital, Rezhita, for their own. Sanapik Goksarsta arrived to find the city under siege on three different fronts. The Tama family, which still ruled what was left of the empire was overjoyed to see what they believed to be their savior. They were wrong. Sanapik defeated all three of the armies besieging Rezhita, but then decided it would be nicer if she ruled Gishik instead. So she ousted the Tama family in a violent raid on the city, killing most of them. and burning much of Rezhita to the ground. She ruled Rezhita and its surrounding territories for seven years, before her second-in-command, a woman named Pralim Tarkazh, wed the youngest daughter of the Tama family in secret. With the Tamas' blessing as an honorary daughter, Pralim went to Redeko and asked the High Priest of Wind Worship to allow her to declare holy war on Sanapik. The High Priest allowed it, and Pralim easily ousted the aging Sanapik out of a barely self-sufficient Rezhita, taking her place as the ruler of the city-state. Thus began what was known as the Crimson Years, a century of bloodshed and war where hundreds of small Gish and Shiv queendoms, bandit gangs, and religious domains fought for control over the remains of the Gish Empire.
A bright flame of unity burns at the end of this long tunnel, stained with the blood of the leader, soldier, and peasant alike. -Mira Tarkazh IV, upon establishing the Queendom of Gishik, circa 347 AWThe Crimson Years came to an end when Mira Tarkazh IV, the ruling queen of Rezhita, which was now a stable bastion of safety in a violent world, took control of vast swaths of southern land, becoming a sizable Queendom to rival Shivish. With a large enough threat stacked against them, many smaller queendoms began to calm down with their infighting, and banditry slowly began a decline. Mira IV declared her Queendom as the Queendom of Gishik, and ushered in a new age, one that Northwest Reish is still experiencing today.
The Gish naming structure is as follows: Given Name-Mother's Given Name-Family Name (Optional) A common Gish name for a girl would be "Mira Zharim Kupur" in very formal environments, but most people would refer to her as "Mira Zharim", or "Mira, daughter of Zharim". If somebody has no mother, they usually take the name "Ingtop", which means "From the Winds".
Major language groups and dialects
The Gish speak the Gish language, a Betlao-Gish language which has many dialects. The written dialect is Rezhpi Gish, the dialect spoken in the city of Rezhita. Rezhpi Gish is also used for large-scale politics and diplomacy. The dialect with the most speakers, however, is Bdshanpi Gish, spoken on the southeastern coast. The Gish language shares the Betlao-Gish family with Shiv, Udda, Antom, High Betlao, and many other languages in northern Reish.
Shared customary codes and values
Those Gish are strange ones indeed. They have no respect for bloodlines! They go so far as to treat orphaned children like they share blood. Winds, it boggles the mind. -statement of an Antom merchant after meeting a Gish merchant at Savatil, Shivish, circa 400 AW
As devout followers of Wind Worship, the Gish are taught to follow the core tenets of the religion. Those tenets being freedom, valiance, and a desire to seek new experiences. As such, the Gish, unlike their Betlao trading partners, forbid slavery. Of course, some nobles have managed to convince the Church to... tighten the defenition of "slavery", but the point holds nonetheless. The Gish also value the individual, and Wind Worship teaches that they all have a purpose in life that they alone are destined to achieve, so they should better themselves to achieve it. This has given the Gish notoriety for being quite competitive and often violent, shown most obviously in their love of wrestling, which is an institutionalized sport that the Gish live (and sometimes die) for. Somewhat related, the Gish place less of an importance on bloodlines than other neighboring cultures, and adopted children are just as valid for inheritance in the eyes of the Gish as biological ones. When a child is adopted, the parents' biological children (if they have any) are taught to accept the adopted child as if they were a biological child as well. In fact, if a queen of Gishik chooses to adopt, the Church representatives in Rezhita put together a display of various toddlers they believe hold special significance for her to choose from.
Common Etiquette rules
Despite some... accusations to the contrary, the Gish do have a fairly fleshed out system of social rules. A child is expected to be loyal to their parents unless ordered otherwise by a wiser authority, such as a priest. The Gish also place quite a bit of importance on posture, and even peasant children are taught from a young age to learn to stand up straight and at attention.
Common Dress code
The Gish dress in somewhat thick clothing made out of Basu wool and leather. Hoods are common, as rain is ever-present in Gishik and one always has to be prepared for a storm. Wool clothing is most often the color of the basu it was sheared from, although middle class Gish often dye it blue or purple. The elaborate robes of the nobility - worn by both noblemen and noblewomen - are also made of basu wool, but are not made of a solid color, and often sport a secondary color in the form of complicated patterns woven into the main robe. The Gish are also very fond of jewelry, especially in noble circles. Many Gish of all social classes have pierced ears, usually with a small stone or gemstone, and the nobles love to dress themselves in golden necklaces.
Art & Architecture
The Tarkazh palace was a beautiful mass of gigantic clay blocks stacked on top of each other with expert symmetry, each one covered in a sloped wooden roof that cast the entire building in an imposing shadow. Thin metal rods jutted out from the corners of each clay block, likely lightning rods, although I had never seen so many in one place. They made the palace itself look dangerous, as if the building was fully prepared to harm me. -From the diary of the traveling priest Insha Sekon, circa 402 AWThe Gish bear the full brunt of northwestern Reish's famous storms, made all the more worse by Gaizha's chaotic magic powering them to often supernatural levels. Even a simple rainstorm can blow away a few loose trees. As such, the Gish have to make heavy use of stone and clay architecture. An average Gish peasant house is often built on a hill, be it natural or artificially made. The building itself is made up of a clay hexagon with two rectangles jutting out of its back end on both sides. The roof of these houses is usually made up of long wooden plans stuck to the house with nails. The shape of a roof is a small hip roof with minimal overhangs. Gish houses only have large windows in the central hexagon, which is used as a kitchen and meeting room. Bedrooms often just have small, slit-like windows on one end to allow a bit of sunlight in.
For all their faults, the Gish do know how to play their drums. -Statement of a now-unknown Okrif traveler, circa 140 AWThe Gish aren't heavily focused on the visual arts, although they do have some of that. They mostly focus on epic poetry and the musical arts, both of which are very sought-after jobs. Gish drummers are known far and wide for their skills, both as simple musical performers or as scene-setters for a bard's tale-telling. Epic poetry is also a favored creative outlet, especially among younger generations. A popular poem in the current age is the Mukdarsh, a poem by the priest Adaru Hasha, about a peasant girl accidentally becoming a mage during a strange game and meeting twelve strange demons.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
The Gish have a tradition of kite-flying, which goes back to the very early Gish settlers in Gishik. The tradition has spread across Reish after the expansion of Wind Worship, as have some other Gish traditions that other groups refuse to recognize aren't their own. The Gish also have a near religious love of wrestling sports. In Rezhita, popular arena wrestlers are sponsored by politicians, and the sport is almost intertwined with politics. Some political disagreements are actually solved by matches with sponsored wrestlers.
Birth & Baptismal Rites
When a child is born, a priest of Wind Worship will often sit with the baby through the next oncoming storm. This baptizes them as a follower of Wind Worship. (note: sitting in a storm doesn't automatically baptize someone - they have to do it with intent and in a specific way)
Funerary and Memorial customs
The Gish don't really have elaborate funeral customs. When somebody dies, a single prayer is said and a family member burns the body of the deceased. Even the grandest of queens have their bodies burned upon death. While the Gish don't care much for the bodies of the dead, they do practice a form of ancestor worship, believing that the souls of their dead are one within Gtopre, or the Winds. The Gish often pray to their ancestors for guidance before making difficult decisions, hoping that the Winds will send their loved ones to them for aid.
The Queen was... beautiful. Perfectly tall and thin, like a brilliant bolt of lightning. -A particularly poetic Gish man after meeting Queen Mira Tarkazh III circa 294 AW
The Gish value lean figures in both their men and women, although they don't fine more bulky bodies inherently bad if they're muscular enough. Hair color wise, they are attracted to lighter hair, which is a bit rarer among the Gish than their northern Nevavi cousins. The Gish don't really discriminate based on eye color, and find all eye colors beautiful.
Gishik is matriarchal, and women are expected to take up leadership or intellectual positions. Men aren't forbidden from the latter, but men are outnumbered by women seven to one at Gish universities. The only exception is in the priesthood of Wind Worship, in which there is a more even split. Gish men are expected to do more physical labor, such as farming, construction, and battle. In an army, you'll most likely find a woman as a general and men as her troops. There are small groups of women soldiers, but they're not nearly as common.
The Gish allow children, as long as they're of age, to date other children somewhat freely. When that turns to a proposal of marriage in adulthood, the Gish have a somewhat ritualized process of courtship. In Gish courtship, someone who wants to marry does a great deed for their partner's family. If their partner's mother (or oldest parent, if the couple is same-sex) approves of the deed, that person then lets out a drop of blood on the family's copy of the Prikanon, usually from their finger. Once this takes place, the two partners are now allowed to marry.
The Gish and the StormThe Gish are in part defined by their relationship to the storms that are so pervasive in their environment. Even before Wind Worship, gods of the storm, rain, and lighting were very important in the Gish's pagan religion. Intense prayer was often (and is still often) had to these storm gods to spare the Gish in their harvests, and to spare them from eventual floods. When natural magic was present during the reign of the Gish Empire, storm mages were by far the most common. Art depicting lightning and rain was incredibly popular, and the Gish language itself is full of idioms relating things to the wind and storms.
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