Ysefin

The Ysefin are the indigenous people of Pascent. Once the primary occupiers of their small continent, the Ysefin population collapsed after the colonisation of Pascent by Suran people just over a thousand years ago. A combination of introduced disease, slavery, famine and outright genocide eroded Ysefin numbers, and greatly changed their culture.   Today, most Ysefin are found within Juventius, once the core of their tribal confederation. The Ysefin population is split between those who maintain traditional customs in remote rural villages, and the many who migrated to Juventian cities in the hope of finding employment as their way of life eroded.   Though generally considered one group by outsiders, the Ysefin once consisted of over 20 language groups and hundreds of tribes.  

History

Traditionally nomadic, the Ysefin people were isolated from the world at large for over ten thousand years. This status was largely preserved by a shard of the Creature of Beginnings that had landed within the straits isolating Pascent from the world and possessed a great sea beast; destroying all ships that ventured near. The shard faded and lost its magic around the 21st century, and sometime after the first investigations of Pascent by outsiders began.   The Ysefin were never exposed to the Spellword revolution, or the general development of magic that took place outside of Pascent. Their society had, in comparison, evolved entirely on technological terms. By the arrival of Suran adventurers in early 23rd century, the Ysefin had developed into a complex tribal confederacy. Chiefs of the Ysefin met every three years at the Island of the Four Rivers, where Juventius City now stands.   Though they had developed the wheel, had pack animals, and a written language the Ysefin had failed to advance far in military technology and had only a rudimentary and superstitious understanding of magic. Suran mastery of magic proved overwhelming. When Damasus Elatus arrived in 2522 YSB (1st Century YP), he claimed the land as ripe for the picking. Damasus' initially contacted the chiefs of the Ysefin, and sought a treaty. However, he demanded the sight of the Island of the Four Rivers to found his city. The Ysefin, unwilling to give up their sacred island, refused.   Damasus' mages attacked and massacred a meeting of Chiefs a month later, and by the time the Ysefin could respond he had begun his city. Juventius grew up around the spot of the massacre, and in time four more waves of settlers arrived.   Within thirty years, the Ysefin had all but been decimated by disease and war. Furthering their downfall, many were enslaved by the settlers of Naeus and Caepio to build their new cities.   Many Ysefin fled to the lands of Juventius, which - though founded by their hated enemy - proved the least hostile to their continued existence. Ysefin outside of Juventian lands were massacred in the following decades, and few tribes out Juventius remained intact.   The Ysefin were relegated to menial labour, and largely discriminated against in Juventius. Their languages were outlawed, and their children were educated in Suran culture. Some communities settled in remote segments of the country, attempting to maintain an orthodox and traditional way of life, but the vast majority of Ysefin settled within the cities of Juventius.   There, the Ysefin remained to this day. Though their culture has faded, many seek to remain their ties to it. Juventian laws only changed under the reign of House Teniye in 534 YP, when foreign born Manirex Polus Vinias took the throne. The young king gave Ysefin many of their rights back, to the outrage of the Juventian nobility, and opened employment programs to enable the largely poverty Ysefin people to prosper again. Though racism against Ysefin was far from removed by Polus' changes, and still remains today, it was the first positive steps since Suran conquest of the continent.  

Architecture

The Ysefin traditionally build in a wattle and daub fashion, usually single story dwellings, with low pitched roofs made of reed thatch. These would be square, windowless, and primarily used only for sleeping and shelter in weather. Most day to day tasks would take place outside of the home, including cooking and socialising.   Once, Ysefin tribes would maintain two to three villages at various stages of their migratory route - usually following the movement of food sources. They would also build a number of temporary homes in between villages, which would be spaced up several weeks travel apart.   Their few large and permanent structures were religious. The Ysefin constructed a number of impressive stone temples. Historians theorise they acquired these skills from trade with Aeondra but saw little need to apply them to personal dwellings. Shrines and temples to Caerul, their mother goddess, were placed at various sacred spots - the meetings of rivers and within the eldest forests traditionally. These temples were usually built with monolithic stones, circular in shape, and roofless.   In most recorded Ysefin temples, a walkway of monolithic stones served as the approach to an opening in the circular wall of the temple. The interior of the temple was dug out and recessed, with stone steps on all sides - serving as an approach and seating. At the center, a stylised statue of Caerul in the form of either a woman or sacred animal would be positioned, where offerings could be left for her. Medicinemen would perform ceremonies in these temples, and new chiefs would be crowned here.

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

Once, the Ysefin had nearly two dozen dialects between the diverse communities on Pascent. Today, only scraps of their native language remains in the form of a Creole form, mixed with introduced Suran. Policies that heavily discouraged or outright banned Ysefin languages heavily contributed to their decline in the mid 5th century, and eventual extinction in the late 7th century.

Common Dress code

Ysefin traditional dress is only worn by staunch orthodox communities today, as most Ysefin have adopted Suran styles of dress. Ysefin women traditionally wore a white robe, and men a loose flowing tunic; both tied with a coloured sash at the waist. Colour was determined by societal rank, with the scarcity of dye sources contributing to the choice of colour varying locally for elders, chiefs and medicinemen. Ysefin dress included leather sandals, tied at the ankle. Women would wear a white hood in public, covering their hair, while men traditionally shaved their heads.

Common Myths and Legends

The Ysefin traditionally believe that the mother goddess Crelean is the continent they live on, and that she sleeps, dreaming them - all humans and animals being an extension of Crelean’s mind. This belief system adapted to the arrival of Surans, portraying Surans as devils who come from another god’s mind and wish to corrupt Crelean’s mind. Their use of magic is taken as proof of this. Most Ysefin died in the initial contact and the devout who remained retreated to isolated hamlets where they rarely or never have contact with the foreigners who now rule their land. Telling stories to their children of the evil Surans who will corrupt their souls.


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