The Laeonessai, as they grew to call themselves over time, were not originally one ethnicity, but a mixed society of an unknown number of mainlanders, primarily from the northern, mountainous regions of the mainland. In the early mists of time, a great tragedy struck the northern regions of the mainland and drove many of their inhabitants to flee for safer lands. What this cataclysm entailed has been lost to time, but it was enough to cause a sizable migration. Over the decades as the people filtered westwards, they began to hear rumors and tales of Laeonesse, a semi-mythical archipelago of islands in which the sun rested during the night, and ruled by magical creatures known as the Fae, who had the creative powers of the gods. Seeing a possibility of refuge in these distant lands, protected from whatever drove them to flee, they moved towards the isles, settling for a few generations on the western coast of the mainland as they learned to build ships capable of crossing the sea, and for explorers to go out in search of these mystical islands. Many of these sailors never returned and are believed to have been consumed by the Endless Sea. It is possible that some found and settled islands unknown to the rest of their mainland kin. As they settled the isles, the various groups and cultures began to mix, slowly adopting the culture of the first human settlers, until after centuries, their cultures had all mingled and combined to form what was known as the Laeonessai. They were the dominant culture of Laeonesse for thousands of years, until the Aelithi, inhabitants of a city-state on the coast of the Inland Sea united all the inhabitants of the central and southern mainland. Knowing from merchants and travelers of the wealth of Laeonesse, and disbelieving tales of the Fae, they moved to occupy the islands, seeing them as barbaric and uncouth. After a brutal, bloody war, they managed to secure the isles of Laeonesse. As a result, they tried to stamp out the Laeonessai culture and impose the Aelithi culture as the dominant culture to help main political and social stability. New waves of settlers were brought over to the islands and forcibly settled on the islands, breaking apart the ancient clan-lands and kingdoms of the Laeonessai. The Laeonessai themselves were pushed further into the highlands and to the west, losing many of their ancestral lands. Those who dwelt in Ynys Awen were almost completely annihilated and the once verdant island reduced to ruin and waste, as the Aelithi soldiers salted the land to ensure nothing could ever again grow of the sacred isle. Bards and druids were banned, being described as witches and practitioners of dark arts, and it was forbidden to share or teach the Great Songs. Yet despite this, the secrets of the two orders were shared in secret, protected by the clans and chieftains in the remote highlands and farthest shores. In such a way, Laenessai culture was able to survive, dormant and in hiding, for several centuries, until the Aelithi civil war forced the removal of all military and governmental assets from the isles. Soon after this, the empire utterly collapsed, and Laenessai culture was allowed to exist once more, moving to reclaim its position in the resulting power vacuum.
Examples: Angharad, Elrid, Agrona, Andrast, Epona, Aiofe, Bebinn, Brighid, Deirdre, Dairine, Maeve, Murine, Morghan, Niamh, Aeron, Arianrhod, Branwen, Bloddwued, Enid, Luned, Rhiannon, Fianoch,
Examples: Belenus, Ineirin, Gwydion, Aneirin, Dwyn, Cerun, Cruithne, Lugh, Taran, Nuada, Llyr, Fionn, Finan, Finn, Bran, Ailill, Aodh, Arawn, Aeron, Bedwyr, Beli, Mabon, Mathonwyr, Pryderi, Uthyr, Uthan, Caderyn, Drust,
Examples: Caryn, Gwynedd, Morgan, Enfys, Aeron, Bryn, Athol, Ruaddan, Brogan,
Laeonessai family names are based primarily around the clan name, with regional variations. Usually, the names have the structure of forename, son or daughter of, clan name. For example, one individual might be named Llewellyn ab Admer, meaning Llewellyn, son of the clan of Admer. However, these clan traditions didn't begin to develop until after the Faen War. So the individuals and heroes of before that time were known simply by the patronym. Cruithne Cruithson is one such example.
Major language groups and dialects
Laeonessai is the primary language, but its dialects are differentiated between Highland Laeonessai, Lowland Laeonessai, Common Laeonessai, and Sailor's Laeonessai, which developed over time in the subculture of sailors and ship-builders to more effectively communicate with each other even over the sound of storms.
Shared customary codes and values
Hospitality is the foundation of Laeonessai society. As all once fled from some foe, it is now both customary and necessary to shelter those who ask of it from the elements and, if it comes to it, from lawful enemies (a brigand may not be sheltered from the Lord who hunts him, but a trader fleeing a brigand must be sheltered). Gifts are used to cement relationships of hospitality between individuals, clans, and kingdoms.
Average technological level
Laeonessai are an Iron Age culture with great skill at forging iron, copper, bronze, silver, and gold, with some skill at stone-carving, but it is not a priority to their culture, or esteemed over highly. Most stone that they work with is of the small highlands variety, used to build drystone walls and foundations.
Common Myths and Legends
The First Song and The Separation of Lynur and Ytoniel provide the foundational myths of Laoenessai culture and it is from these that all later myths and legends are seen as part of. It is their explanation of reality and how it functions, why things happen in life, and what will happen after life.
For the Laeonessai, beauty is dark, and there is a bit of wildness to it. They tend to have lighter skin and darker hair, so darker skin and darker hair are considered more beautiful. Brown eyes are rare, so they are considered more beautiful than the normal blue or green eyes. As for body type, the general consensus is that a hunter's lean and muscular physique is ideal.
There is not much distinction in the Laeonessai minds between genders. Both can own property and manage their own affairs. Given the nature that they were founded by those fleeing, they still respect strength, speed, and valor in both sexes. Both are free to be hunters, but men do it slightly more frequently as they are expected to be the primary warriors in case it becomes necessary, as they are, in essence, more expendable as far as societal survival is concerned.
Courtship is fierce and joyous, with the male suitors trying to outdo each other in demonstrating their passion and zeal, both for life and for the woman they are trying to win. Typically, this consists of trying to create the grandest and most expensive sign of their love, also demonstrating their wealth and ability to provide for her and their future children. Cattle and sheep are the most common examples, with silver being a close second among wealthier families. Only the wealthiest suitors gift gold to their beloved and this is usually reserved for royal heirs and the joining of kingdoms.
Marriage is viewed as a means of survival and propagation rather than tools for happiness. Not that love is not involved in the process, especially for those with the economic privilege to not be concerned about their future welfare, but it is a secondary consideration rather than the primary reason. As such, stability and children are seen as the goals of the marriage. Even the temperate and bountiful isles of Laeonesse are still subject to famine, drought, and strife, so having the means of survival is the most important goal. As such, for wealthier individuals, polygamy is seen as a sign of prestige and wealth, as they can support more than one wife comfortably, although later wives did not always have the same protections as the first wife.