Culture and cultural heritage
The cult of the dueling snakes originates from the prior civilizations, now fallen, who populated the valley. It mentions the duel entities of Massy and Set, the contesting entities of the cosmos:
MassyOne; bone white with piercing red eyes and bathing in light so bright, it is rarely even possible to be seen.
White snakes are deemed as unnatural to gardeners and a source of misfortune and deadly air. Hence, being clad in a white shroud is a traditional sign of mourning.
SetThe other, pitch black, forever hooded in shadows and found wherever the dragon lights glow at night.
Black snakes are seen as fortuitous because of how similarly it appears to obsidian weaponry. Hence, it invokes protection and disguise from physical threats.
All of the Garden Cities incorporate the black and white dueling snakes in some way into their city sigil. For the religious temples, the mark of two snakes consuming each other is carved into places of prominence.
Dragons of Yin and Yang by JoJoesArt
Shared customary codes and values
Colours of DirectionsCardinal points hold religious symbolism for communication with the Great God Tohil, as determined by their history, cosmology, and rituals. Each direction has colours associated with it, along with a ruling deity. However, there is a lack of uniformity with the color-direction association due to different usages for different ritual occasions and the various sub groups.
Green is representative of quetzal feathers and the snakes from serpentism in the northern direction ruled by Quetzalcoatl.
Red means war representative of blood and the bursting sun in the western direction ruled by Tezcatlipoca.
Blue means sacrifice representative of water and the eastern direction ruled by Huitzilopochtli.
Yellow means food representative of maize and the southern direction ruled by Centeotl and Mictlantecuhtli.Overall, the colours follow these concessions in general. But, it is standard practice, under picture writing to paint the symbols for directions in a select or combination of alternate colours:
- black, white, red, yellow, blue, or gray for the North
- blue, red, black, white or green for the South
- white, yellow, gray, or green for the East
- black, white, yellow, blue, or green for the West
Centuries Long BlockadeThe territory of the Garden Plot is a collection of small to medium sized cities in north and middle parts of Dragonsgrave. It is completely surrounded by its arch enemy: the Triple Alignment and has been under total alignment blockade for the past several generations. As a consequence, a close-fisted mindset evolved from the situation. Most commoners generally lived outside the central areas of towns and cities to work individual and communal plots of land.
Common Dress code
Given the scarcer resources, men are not able to afford the colourful trends that penetrate the rest of the valley. Thus, even their nobility are forced to wear drab and dull clothing. Gem piercings on the lips, ears or cheeks are rare, but are a sure sign of wealth and desirability; even if it is just one.
Art & Architecture
Dragon WallsDragon walls are the preserved bodies of the fallen dragon corpses with their feathers still in place and organs removed. Their serpentine bodies are painstakingly positioned to wrap around the perimeter of the old city limits oftentimes requiring 3 or 4 dragons at the least to be considered complete. In spite of the feather walls' pristine form, they are actually older than most of the cities. The dragons having been gutted and maintained by an ancient preservative by an ancient people. The exact details of how to properly construct a wall from a dragon is long lost but pre-alliance conquerors used to steal away the dragon of vanquished states to incorporate into their own. A practice that is now impractical, but old and minor cities still gripe about the lost dragons of their homes still serving the major settlements.
Lolth's WebNamed after the spider goddess of judgement, the web consists of the various river waters that flow from the snowy Step that can be redirected via dikes and dams into areas such that the landscape can be unrecognizable to enemy maps. The web can introduce obstacles and traps to hostile forces that entered the territory. The problem is that it is a complicated system dependent on timing, predictive reasoning, field coordination and luck to work as intended.
But when done succinctly, armies have been blocked, rerouted, trapped and drowned thanks to Lolth in her judgement.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
Trial by OrdealTrial by ordeal is a judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of an accused is determined by subjecting them to an unpleasant and dangerous experience. Such ordeals can include the accused having
- to pass through fire
- have molten metal poured on the chest
- consume poisonous substances
- survive water submersion
Coming of Age Rites
NeutralsFrom the point of view of the citizens of the Otorem coil, it is a time of sorrowful harassment by their tormentors. Normally, they lose more men than they capture, which overtime has led to a steady bleeding of any of their cities' population.
It is a slow death of a people
CareersConversely, there exist a minority of zealous partisans who commit to take part fully on the alignment's terms. These sort train since boyhood and participate year after year, excusing less able recruits and gaining fearsome reputations and prestigious social standing in the process.
State RegularsThe established political order who make the decisions as to when and where to mobilize the state army for direct conflict with the encroaching Alignment army. Due to the shrinking resources available, it is rare for the coil to attack, unless victory can be guaranteed.
PartisansDepending on where the ceremonial battlefield is announced to be, there is usually some official and unofficial responses made by citizens of the coil to sabotage, ambush or otherwise prevent the march of warriors into their territory. Annoyances such as these continued from the march in, through the proceedings, to the march out of the battle ground.
Funerary and Memorial customs
Social status and occupation influence funeral arrangement.
BurialWhen a city ruler died, he is buried with some possessions to help them in their afterlife journey. A red dog is additionally sacrificed and buried along side him to carry on his back through the streams of the underworld. A common burial is also given to lower-class members under the floors of their home, so they remain close to their family.
CremationGiven the difficulty in acquiring most things inside the garden plot, it is a mark of personal wealth to be burned. However, the practice has been assaulted under heavy criticism for being wasteful for a people under desperate, resource strapped conditions. As a result, unless they were incredibly popular in life, a dead person can be viewed scornfully, as well as their family who committed to following through.
Common Myths and Legends
A prophecy regarding the ousting of unworthy leaders (white snakes) by proper successors (black snakes) who can come from anywhere.
Its song is sung among the lower classes to encourage change and whispered to those on top as reminders for ruin.
Eben Coil rose to its ultimate prominence when an glorified merchant supplanted the long reigning pseudo-king and grandfather to that Coil. Both were contemporaneously known as the black and white snakes respectively, which in itself, predicted the Coil's radical restructuring. We can do the same.
Martial SkillsMen train since boyhood to participate year after year in the flower wars, however willing or unwilling. Thereby excusing less able bodied recruits, due to the shrinking resources, and gaining fearsome reputations and prestigious social standing in the process.
Monogamous/Polygamous MarriagesGardeners have patrilineal families; with commoners being strictly monogamous while elite men are allowed to practiced polygamy. However, women are granted a societally sanctioned course to be vicious against unfaithful partners.
Family SlavesBoth commoners and elites are permitted to own slaves. However, the slave trade is not as healthy inside the garden plot as outside. Slaves were usually sacrificed when their owners died so that they could continue in their service after death. However, under the constant strain of the blockade; most families, even elite ones, forego on wastefully disposing of this source of wealth to pass along as inheritance. Classes are also generally confined to each other under the current political climate, but if a man wanted to marry a slave woman, they would became a slave of the woman's owner; and vis versa.
It originates from a time when sufficient resources were hard for individual states were hard to come by, so sharing became most optimum. For the current age, gardeners in the garden plot have readopted the idea to resist the sang and Sangsalgu and would continue to do so, with the ultimate goal to cast them down.
There is little else known of them, cept that they likely have operatives in many corners outside of Otoerm Coil territory.
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