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Serulians

People of the Forest

I've heard the strangest tales about them- they live among the woods themselves, unafraid of what lurks behind the thick bushes of the forest. Their skin dark as bark, and their eyes shine like the most luxurious of their honeys. The legend says, they do not birth their own children- instead, they are grown from the very trees they share their homes with...
— Tales told around a campfire

Serulians are an isolated people, who prefer to keep among themselves. They can live up to a thousand years, and as a result few of them feel the desire to attach themselves to creatures they will easily outlive. Most of them never leave the Al Tahas forest, prefering to remain on their ancestral lands.

Appearance


Serulians greatly ressemble humans, with dark skin and unusual hair tones. Their ears are long and pointed, and their eyes are a golden honeyed colour. Their skin sometimes seems to present bark like appearance in the way it creases, though the impression disappears when observed from up close.

Most Serulians are taller than the rest of humanoids, averaging at 1m85 tall. Often, they carry ornamental and abstract tattoos on their face, neck, arms and legs. These are golden in colour, and use pigment produced by Seera Bees.
Serulians Hair
Serulian Hair
Serulians Skin
Serulian Skin

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Culture


The night sky was clear, and the smoke of the fire danced among the stars. They sat around it, huddled under the open roof, quiet as they waited for the Oshkan to speak. His voice rose softly, a low, barely noticeable hum ringing through the room. The beating of drums soon joined in. The Oshkan's voice grew louder, the hum deep as it rung from his throat. The fire danced, the tension grew, the music now filled the air to the point of suffocation, and with a sharp hand gesture the Oshkan brought it to a stop.

"Listen all, come close, closer still. Come hear the stories of our past and our people, of the very first of our kind..."

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Born from Trees

Serulians, unlike most mortal creatures, are not born through typical biological means. Instead, they are born from Seralian Cedars, a rare species of trees found within the forest of Altas. These trees are sacred to Serulians, they are family and creators, and are treated as such by their culture. Serulian towns and villages have come to be built surrounding these trees, so that they may be protected from harm.

Each village typically protects one such tree, and larger groups imply larger settlements. The tree will stand at the center of the village, usually decorated by a variety of paintings and flowers. Below the roots of the tree is a small pocket, called the Envetum by Serulians, which functions like a uterus and is where the tree will "grow" a baby.

This process is closely monitered by the village's Makalas, who ensure the baby is safe and grows well. The creation of the baby happens over a period of 150 years, at the term of which the infant comes to life and is extracted from the Envetum in a large religious celebration in honour of the newborn.


Raising a Child

Most Serulians grow up being the only children in the village, with a few rare exceptions. Despite their long lifespan, Serulians will grow at about the same rate as a human child. Whilst they are a baby and toddler, they will be cared for by Makalas, and once they reached their first decade the whole village will take charge of their education.

Serulian children are instructed in various skills, from the making of clothes to how to care for the woods they live in. They will be initiated to the Serulian mysteries, learn how to ride Altas Antelopes, and be tutorred in the ways of Serulian art and song.

As they grow older and older, they will take on more and more responsibility within the community, until they are about 250 years old and their education is considered to be complete. At that point, the Serulian will decide what path they wish to follow, and will be recognised as an adult by their village.

Life in Community

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Serulian society is organised around various villages, which are all organised in a communal way. There are no hierarchies or power dynamics, simply people living together and taking care of one another. Serulian villages usually welcome a 100 to 150 inhabitants, and that number rarely changes due to the low birth and death rate of the population. Because they live so long, Serulians come to know each other very well. Houses and food is shared- what belongs to one usually belongs to others too.

Villages are typically built out of earth and clay, with some occasional use of wood. They are painting in black geometrical patterns, with wide open doors and windows. Living spaces are shared, each house forming a sort of family or essemble of a kind, containing 2 to 7 individuals. It isn't uncommon for Serulians to move house throughout their lives, though these matters are usually up to personal taste.



bee
by unknown artist

Seera Bees

The Seralian Cedars are also the home of the Seera Bees, a culturally significant animal for the Serulians. Seera beehives are almost just as important as Seralian trees themselves, as the honey they produce is used for a variety of rituals and other every day uses.

Whatever honey isnt consecrated for ritual purposes is exported to the Danatelian Lands, and constitue one of the main exports of the Serulians. It is considered a rare delicacy amongst the Danatelian Elite, and they are ready to trade many goods to Serulians in exchange of some honey.

Hunters and Foragers

Serulians survive almost exclusively on foraging and agriculture. They have no proper fields to speak of, and instead encourage the growth of whatever food naturally exists in the Altas. Serulians also use their Altas Antilope to hunt in the forest, using a longbow as they ride in pursuit of prey.

The killing of a hunted animal is always a deeply spiritual moment for Serulians, as all existing things are considered to have souls and as such must be treated with proper respect. There is no guilt in killing an animal, as it is part of the natural order of life, but it is a matter that is to be treated seriously. Only a few appointed Hunters are allowed to hunt and kill animals, and they must be ordained by the Earthling.
 

Religion

Serulians follow an animist religion, believing that all things around them posess a soul of some kind. Earthling benefit from a privileged relationship with the world of spirits, and act as diplomats of a sort between the world of mortals and that of souls. The Serulian religion requires to pass rites of initiation, and as a result most of its tennets and rituals are kept secret from the profane.

Life

Serulians value life. As a matter of fact, respect for life is one of the core aspects of Serulian spiritual believes. One must be respectful and polite with all living creatures, and must treasure the gift of life they've been given. That is not to say that Serulians do not kill, or fear death- it is a natural part of life, and is embraced as its natural conclusion.

Death

When a Serulian dies, their body is to be burried beneath the Serulian Cedar which stands in the centre of their village. It is believed that the dead will come back as newborn babies, reincarnating through the tree itself. As such, cedars play an important role in Serulian spiritualism, and are at the centre of numerous celebrations and festivals.


Cover image: by A Fox

Comments

Author's Notes

So, a new article! I'm not entirely satisfied with this one, I feel like there's a lot of room for improvement but I don't have it in me to find where and how. Also I've been binging Dylon's The Void Between and its making me wish I could craft something as amazing as what he's got going on.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy these people! I'm hoping to write some more about them and their culture, and hopefully even comission some art of these guys. If you're interested in contributing, you can donate to my ko-fi !


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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Aug, 2021 21:07

Great article, I love how you've completed it :D And the idea of baby being born in tree is really amazing and cute! New random question: until the baby is properly born, is it protected inside the tree and not directly visible?

Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
12 Aug, 2021 21:40

Thank you very much <3 <3 !! Im pretty sure the baby is grown in the roots, so its unseen, but technically one could kinda like dig to take a peak? No Serulian in their right mind would do so however, apart from the Makalas ^^

Author of Interarcanum.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Aug, 2021 21:42

oooooh like a baby potatoes then XD

Feel free to check my ship challenge article.
13 Aug, 2021 08:08

Exactly like that!!

Author of Interarcanum.
13 Aug, 2021 12:04

These came out very well! <3

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities, and Vazdimet, its darker spacefaring future.
13 Aug, 2021 13:13

Thank you <3 and thank you for your help!

Author of Interarcanum.
13 Aug, 2021 22:35

All right, *cracking knuckles* It's been a minute!  

Design & Structure

  As I've come to expect from your work, this article doesn't lack in style. It's neatly organized into sections and colored with pretty imagery to bring the topics to life. This time You didn't use any commissioned art, but I don't feel the article calls for it in any case. The shades of hair and skin color are a nice touch, and you can expect me to 'borrow' the idea into an article of my own one day hehe. Music is awesome and fitting as always. You seem to know the specific tone for every occasion.   If I really had to nitpick, I would say the cover picture doesn't make much sense to me as to how it relates. Not that it really matters.  

Content

  Introduction: I actually commend you for how you switched the purposes of the opening quote and the introduction paragraph. Where usually a quote is put for atmosphere, you used it here to deliver (a lot of) information and then made the following introduction much lighter in substance and focus more on this people's personality and essence. Good stuff.
  Appearance: You give precisely as much info as I feel I need to have a clear picture of how they look. The simple colors go a long way in helping that, as well. You also create intrigue with their customs, so let's jump straight to the Culture section ->   Culture (quote): Now this quote is marvelous! Not only was I absorbed into the scene, but I seriously paused the article's song when 'the Oshkan brought it to a stop'. I don't know why I did it, but it fit the situation lol.
Born From Trees: HOW?! The whole process of their birth is fascinating! It's described in such broad strokes that I can't help but have many questions like how this Bark to Flesh thing came to be? (release the draft!) Why is the Altas forest a unique place for this people/species? How rare are the Seralian Cedars? If the Serulians found settlements around their trees, how do those settlements look like? Do they repurpose the surrounding trees and fashion them into houses? Do they deforest a sufficient area around the holy tree? (maybe the other trees aren't as important, but I doubt it) Also, when a baby is born, is it 0 years old, or 150?
  Raising a Child: You manage to bring many different aspects and details into their culture, which makes them feel tangible and real-like. Another question I have about their growth is if they grow at the same rate as normal humans, do they stop developing at around 25, or do they grow extremely old until they're 250? Also, is it 250 years or 350 years since they were conceived?
  Life In Community: I love this tribe-vibe I get from them. It's always nice to see a big (super ancient) family taking care of each other, even if they are not all blood-related. Wait, are they bark-related? Now that you described their houses as made of earth and clay, I must know how dense this forest is and if they deforest. Maybe every holy tree grows in the middle of a clearing? I wonder. Oh and remind me how old your world is, because if a single tree-man-baby grows in the community at a time, they probably took a WHILE to get to 100-150 people per settlement. Is the holy tree immediately 'impregnated' after a birth?
  Seera Bees: What can I say? I love bees, I love honey and I especially love the use of exports and general economy in my articles.
  Hunters & Foragers: It's always interesting to see the relation between nature-loving cultures and hunting. This almost reminds me of the Ainu and their view of animals as sacred food. Also I didn't mention it before, but Antilopes totally give me those Mononoke vibes.
  Religion (Life & Death): Yep they're Ainu lol. So one question - how do they die? Old age? I do like the concept of being buried under a tree to pass the soul onto it. Though, if they believe the dead reincarnates into the tree-fetus, what happens if two people die? do they bury them both and expect both of them to be reborn? And in the beginning when there weren't that many Serulians, they probably didn't believe in reincarnation as much right? I don't know, I feel like I'm getting too deep into this.    

Conclusion

  A great return to form! This article is not only a good read, but it's full of inspiring worldbuilding bits that bring everything to life! I seriously don't have that much to critique about it, just praise mostly. I await to see how you expand on the Serulian lore with your mini-articles!


Let us unite against the enemies of Album!
21 Aug, 2021 17:32

AAah shit I completely forgot to answer ;-; Thank you so much for the great and positive feedback! As always your questions are right on the money and manage to spot every detail I've missed. I'll make some notes to answer these when I find the time! Once again, I really appreciate your help <3 <3

Author of Interarcanum.
21 Aug, 2021 12:48

I really like this take on tree peoples. The descriptions are quite vivid. Great work!

27 Aug, 2021 22:05

Hey! Thank you so much for the kind words, they mean a lot. I really appreciate it <3

Author of Interarcanum.
27 Aug, 2021 17:16

I really like this article, from its layout to the very detailed information. It all seems to flow into each other well. Great article :)

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
27 Aug, 2021 22:05

Thank you!! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this piece of work :) !!

Author of Interarcanum.
31 Aug, 2021 00:03

I love the Serulians, and the thought and care you've put into their culture. I really like that raising a child is a task for the whole village.

6 Sep, 2021 09:06

Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad to hear what parts of them you enjoyed :D

Author of Interarcanum.