Vitaw Organization in Umqwam | World Anvil


Maw used to tell me stories 'bout Vitaw. A land of mountains so tall they tore clouds. 'bout the Votaw livin', tunnelin' through 'em. 'bout the lake, so still it's like a mirror. Even seein' it for myself I couldn't believe it wasn' a dream.
— A travelling dreamer
Vitaw is the largest nation within Uqwam, situated in the nest of Hiik. Vitaw was built by a studious people, seeking the secret of their very existence. Devout to their faith and cause, they are often the first to lend aid to other nations— sometimes drawing the ire of others. A schism among them has led to a mass migration of their own population.  

The Question

  The Votaw were originally born in another nest. Where exactly this nest may be has been lost to time— alongside their history before the migration. Why did they leave? Even more worrying is the simple question of who lived in Hiik before them? Is there some great danger hiding in the shadows, waiting to strike? These unknowns spurred their pursuit of knowledge, and almost feverish record-keeping.  
When records began, hundreds of years ago, there were two separate tribes. These tribes were situated on opposite sides of the Great Lake lying at the bottom of the nest's basin, and due to some forgotten history, despised one another. Battles would occur every few months, spurred over contested hunting ground, stolen goods, or petty arguments.   One of the chieftain's daughters, a young woman by the name of Kuwyat, had long pondered their quarreling. Why did they fight, truly? Was there something she and her people had been unaware of for too long? She had to find out if the other tribe was as vile as she was led to believe. One night, she snuck from her home and took a boat— crossing the lake alone.   As she quietly made her way across the cold waters, her quiet contemplation was interrupted as her boat collided with something. Strange sounds, yelps and frenzied splashing, followed the collision, gripping Kuwyat with fear as she believed it to be a hungering beast.   Then, the cries formed a word, "HELP!" She had hit another boat, overturning it. Quickly, she jumped into the frigid lake and pulled the panicked soul into her own boat. She had saved the son of the opposing tribe's chieftain, Hohik. As the lake gently swayed them, the two talked for hours. Both had contemplated the state of their tribes' constant fighting, and both had left with the goal of uncovering the truth. As the sun rose they decided to leave for their homes, but their nightly meetings over the lake would become a habit.  

A viridescent pursuit

During one of these meetings, the lake would glow an ethereal green visible to both tribes. A beast from within the depths of the lake, lured to the epicenter, would swallow both Kuwyat and Hohik whole— but their light would continue to glow through the beast's belly. The chieftains, having long had suspicions of their children's actions, would each personally join a hunting party after the beast.  
  Both parties glared at one another as they competed to fell the beast first— even loosing arrows close to their enemy. Spears, arrows, and spells left not so much as a scratch on the beast's hide— it wasn't until they had set aside their grievances and made a coordinated attack that the beast finally was wounded. By sunrise, the beast was dead. The chieftains, together, sliced open its stomach as the glow dissipated, to find their children embracing one another— dead.   Their tribes would not immediately cease their hostilities, but they would slowly but surely dwindle, the two finally joining hands as one under the successors of the two chieftains— naming the new nation Vitaw, meaning lakebed 

Governing Structure

Vitaw is led by a reclusive individual known as Yonwalla, casually referred to as the librarian who has caved themselves in deep beneath Vitaw's capital. Yonwalla, it is said, is the most knowledgeable mortal being in Umqwam. They have mastered the art of spirit sight— a potent magic that allows them to experience the world through the eyes of others, who are willingly bound to them through ritual.   Yonwalla's word is carried by the Yilyonwalla, or literally after Yonwalla as they follow "after" Yonwalla both by being lead by them, and by being born after them.
The process for choosing the Yilyonwalla is known only to Yonwalla themselves— but the Votaw have yet to be let down, and most place their trust in them. Beyond spreading Yonwalla's decisions, the Yilyonwalla have the freedom to govern things that are of lesser consequence— at least to Yonwalla— as they see fit.   Mostly these are domestic matters, such as dividing resources, appointing local leaders, and managing infrastructure. Directly under the Yilyonwalla are numerous scholar councils, peopled by scholars whose work impresses the Yilyonwalla.


  The Votaw are inclined to burrow, and as such, much of their architecture is carved rather than built. The grand majority of settlements within Vitaw are carved into the various mountains which fill Hiik. Most structures consist of rough-hewn ellipsoidal shapes, partially carved from the stone walls surrounding them.   To the Votaw, shapes resembling eggs are the purest— but only the most important of structures deserve to be fully excavated, smoothed, and polished. The rest are left embedded, with all but the exposed exterior left connected to the surrounding stone.   Settlements are carved into precise grids, consisting of tiered elliptical rings each with six tunnels sprouting outwards from the center. Each of these elliptical areas is then connected by one or more of their six tunnels as they connect. The sixth tunnels are diagonal, and are where train tracks are set and operated.  

Assets, Industry, & Trade

  From the Great Lake, to the northern and southernmost mountains, all but two pockets of Hiik are controlled by Vitaw. The exceptions being the southeastern corner, and the Great Lake peninsula.  

Mountaintop farmland

Farmland is primarily on the outside of the mountains where settlements lie. Along the slopes, great enchanted pillars made of interlocking stone called maayot  are erected. Within holes carved along their sides, seeds are placed. Here, above the clouds, these crops gain ample sunlight and energy— further amplified by the maayot they lie within— allowing them to grow quickly and consistently throughout most weather. Staples include waak nuts, tsiha, and a variety of berries.

Scholarly pursuits

The colleges of Vitaw are world-renowned, some of the world's most impressive technological advancements have been made within their halls. Most notably are trains, magimechanical vehicles which run faster than any man or animal could dream. These revolutionary vehicles have connected Umqwam in ways never before imagined, and the scholars of Vitaw are excited to share their discoveries with the rest of the world. This is more due to the prospect of learning new things from other nests with newfound speed than it is a kindness. 


  Vitawan military forces are levied from the population when necessary— and in recent years, need for them has been quite rare. When forces are deployed, they rely heavily on the nation's technological developments. Twenty-four-shooters and long-distance rifles are utilized heavily, in order to keep as far from the enemy as possible. Their forces do not don uniforms due to the often last-minute nature of their deployment, either.  


  The official religion of Vitaw is Kuqim. Followers believe that their gods have not returned for a reason, and that the answer to this is hidden deep within the great tree of Umqwam. With this in mind, great effort has been made to burrow into the tree to discover the secret that lies within. The primary tenet of this faith is simply "Always answer." Which is to say, always find an answer, no matter the question. Leave no stone unturned.  

Great Knowledge

  Every citizen of Vitaw can receive a proper education. From a young age, children are read textbooks as bedtime stories, and sent to school from the moment they are able to say their first words. Primary schoolhouses can be found within every district of a settlement, with fewer colleges found towards the center of larger areas. Academics can get somewhat intense, with students often attempting to find ways to forgo basic health needs such as sleeping, bathing, and eating by way of volunteering for novice spellslingers as live test subjects. More often than not this leads to one or both parties needing to see the nearest healer.   Students never truly finish their education, the "end" of a college career is when a student is able to surpass an elder in a verbal test on their given field of study. After this, they are no longer able to attend classes and must instead find new modes of study such as discussions with elders, reading, and meditation.
Geopolitical, State
Government System
Power Structure
Unitary state
Economic System
Command/Planned economy
Qool: Small enchanted triangular stones. Common grey stone denotes the lowest worth, with light grey being higher, and yellow as the highest. The enchantment is known to very few.
Major Exports
Trains, and their tracks. Technological knowledge, and developments. Silver, gold, and mookiw.
Major Imports
Any and all knowledge and writing. Promising scholars.
Official State Religion
Official Languages
Related Ethnicities

Lake of love

To this day, couples will take boats out over the Great Lake after night falls.   It is said that those who are truly in love will glow green, just as Kuwyat and Hohik had.   This is quite difficult to prove, unfortunately, and can lead to altercations.  
  I can't believe you! After all I've done?   After how much I've taken care of you?   The sacrifices I've made!   Did it all mean nothing?
— A man to his cat

The split

Forty years ago, a great argument came about regarding the hidden truth within Umqwam.   Foreign nations feared the Vitawan's plans, and fervent work on burrowing into the great tree.   Many feared that they would cause the tree itself to collapse, and fighting had broken out as their attempts were sabotaged.   There were those among the Vitawans who believed that, perhaps, there was a better way.   Their peers would not hear it, and continued to burrow.   Thousands left, taking their research with them. Emigrating to another nest.  
I cannot, in good faith, remain among you.   You were my brothers.   My sisters. My teachers.   I won't forget you, but I won't help you in your suicidal pursuit.
— A Vitawan emigrant

Travelling Scholars

A select few beyond the Yilyonwalla have been bound to Yonwalla, acting as scouts to glean knowledge from the world at large.   These scouts, known as Tsa, or eyes, search for and ingratiate themselves with scholars of foreign nations.   The Tsa also search for technological advancements, and iterations on existing technology.   Others search for magical developments and secrets.   Given their unknown numbers, and connection to Yonwalla, various groups have tried to leverage them as spies— some claim that mysterious deaths, and changes in leadership around the world are the doing of hidden Tsa agents.

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Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!

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Dec 2, 2019 06:36 by Stormbril

This is fantastic! I love the layout, and the detail you go into. The origin story is really well done. And I love their exports -- the farming is so interesting, and trains are just cool all the time. Definitely glad to be following this world, excited to see more!   Also, that poor man and his cat. Simply heartbreaking.

Dec 2, 2019 19:32 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you!
  And yes, it is truly heartbreaking.

Dec 2, 2019 07:17 by R. Dylon Elder

Hereeee we go! Ok so first off, this is wonderfully written. I had a snake towards the beginning when you mentioned hunting ground vs. Hunting grounds, but I think that's correct in some contexts so there is that.   I love the story overall, it really screams western to me and I can't quite picture why. It's actually bugging me. Something about the plot structure or maybe a placebo from the theme. Either way A+   This brings me to an interesting question that km not sure if you answered. How are people commonly dressed? Is the classic western duster with some cowboy heels? Victorian clothing? Maybe some native garb? Its hard to picture events without knowledge of the style and also in deeply curious if you have an article planned.   I pictured the vitae as more efficient in their clothing. Scholars wouldn't want float bits or fancy coats getting in the way of their SCIENCE! All jokes aside it made we wonder if women generally wear hair tied back or cut short for this reason, or if dresses are less common than pants. If they even have these garments that is. Oof. sorry for the long wall. I love this setting XD

Dec 2, 2019 19:36 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you for the kind words!   Ground vs. grounds, never considered that there was a difference, used them interchangeably and it seems to be a legal move anyway!   I plan to write out the Votaw's culture within the next few days, which will go over their dress!

Dec 2, 2019 21:45 by R. Dylon Elder


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