You thought running to the Steppe would bring you freedom? Not with them. Never with them.
The Tulaant Steppe
has ever been a place stained with the blood of those who dare brave its surface. Whilst the lands surrounding it have steadily become settled by groups of humans
, dwarves, and the many other races of Istralar, the Steppe has always proven to be too dangerous. As empires have risen and fallen, the Steppe has remained a wilderness where no man holds any crown.
This has not stopped the bravest of men from living upon its harsh surface. As the domineering shadow of the Khortoiir tribe
falls across the southern banks of the Steppe, other tribes linger to the north, or resist their rule with opposition of their own. The Heijian tribe, currently headed by Qaragan
, falls into the former category by right of physical location alone.
Since their founding by Shan Heijian
in the early 5400s, the Heijian tribe has been a fixture in the northern Steppe, functioning as a nomadic tribal group that emigrates from one side of the Steppe to the other over the course of time. They are known for their particular skill in the smithing of weapons and armour and have carved out a small market for their wares, often sending smaller groups of trusted members to other tribes interested in trading. Traders from neighbouring nations interested in Heijian wares rarely travel to meet the tribe itself due to the risk of being forced to join
the tribe - though some foolish souls do make the attempt - instead choosing to await their yearly festival of Summer's Height
. Due to the excessive temperatures reached on the Steppe, this fortnight-long festival marks a time of pacifism and feasting for the Heijian, and visitors from other tribes or outside the Steppe are invited to participate if they bring gifts of their own.
By my divine right as Khan of the Heijian, I grant you the right to begin this ritual. Let this man’s soul be destroyed in the bloodied swell of our land itself!
The Heijian's laws and principles are each drawn from the Tablets of Shan
. These stone tablets are engraved within the depths of the northern Talmian Range
in a secretive location known only to the Khan and his most trusted allies, and reportedly offer advice and guidance to the Khan in dealing with tribal issues. Upon the defeat or death of a previous Khan, the new leader is expected to make the pilgrimage north as soon as possible to receive the information needed to keep the tribe running.
To prevent this knowledge from being lost, every full member of the tribe is blessed with the Steppe's blood and informed of a sacred location where they may meditate to, supposedly, be guided to the Tablets. External scholars suspect this ritual to have connections with deep necromancy and divine spirits; none has yet been able to prove this hypothesis, as those who dared make the attempt were quickly killed or otherwise disposed of.
Clothing & Armour
It should first be noted that any traders robbed by the Heijian also have their clothes and personal belongings taken; these items are often more extravagant and foreign than the usual Heijian fare, and are given higher value within the tribe as a result. Fine ballgowns from Ordan
, for instance, might be reserved for weddings of bloodthirsty warriors or, if male, their wives.
Their usual clothes are woven fabrics tied with rope or other fastenings (such as makeshift buttons), generally in the form of a set of trousers and a basic undershirt paired with a long coat-like tunic. In colder weather, these are traded out for fur-lined variants. A hat is generally paired with this outfit, as is a set of leather boots or sandals. Slaves receive plain and undecorated clothing in shades of crimson and brown; the garments worn by full tribe members are brightly coloured and embroidered to show their heritage and any significant battles they have participated in.
For the tribe's warriors - meaning most of the tribe - carefully-crafted lamellar armour is worn over these clothes. Unlike traditional Steppe gear, this armour is augmented with the secret Heijian techniques and is thus far sturdier. Like their clothing, this armour is also decorated according to their standing within the tribe. If a warrior dies with children, their children will be gifted their armour to wear as a family heirloom that they may add to; warriors that die without any way of continuing the line have their armour sent to the gods with them.
Relationships & Marriage
Joining the Heijian
[to be written: Voluntary and involuntary; differences in treatment]
Demography and Population
A large majority of the Heijian tribe is comprised of humans from across the Steppe and from trading caravans ambushed and forcibly recruited into the tribe, but there are significant minorities of dwarves, orcs, and half-humans of various kinds. Half-humans find the tribe more welcoming than their original families and have less attachment to their birthplaces; they make ideal members. Renan, the current Khagan (also known as the Khan's lover), is one such member, having been recruited by the Heijian at less than a year old.