The people of the distant land of Myrkheim, frozen and mountainous
DescriptionThe violent and barbaric Myrkese are the people inhabiting the frozen, frigid lands of Jugeum, far across the seas with only a small colony on mainland Zheng-Kitar. They are a heavily misunderstood people, and are seen as raiding, slaughtering vikings by most - but in truth, they are a people with a rich and deep culture. They have a deep warrior-culture, but one deeply rooted in religion, community, and survival - all byproducts of their constant struggle for survival in the frozen lands of the north. They are at constant odds with the more monstrous inhabitants of their island home, and have been at odds with the towering titanesses, the Dai-Yukai, for as long as any can remember - and the mere fact they still stand as independent is a testamount to their incredible battle and tactical acumen. Despite this, they are avid traders and their longships travel all across the Liuwang Ocean, trading slaves, silver, and all manner of resources both mined and plundered to other civilizations for a profit...though some refuse to deal with them.
AppearanceThe Myrkese have a fairly unique appearance - higher ranking members of Myrkese society tend to be well-groomed with neat hairstyles and express their wealth and status by hearing expensive clothes and well-crafted jewellery(Mainly belt buckles, necklaces, arm rings and brooches), but more importantly, beautiful and mastercrafted arms and armor. More middle-class Myrkese tend to express themselves in similar ways, albeit more relaxed and inexpensively, as only the high ranking Jarls of Myrkese society tend to afford extravagant weapons and full suits of armor. Regardless of social standing, men and women both tend to braid their hair(and beards, for men), and their hair color tends to be lighter colors, most commonly white, silver, and golden blonde. Their eyes are similarly colored. They tend to have tall, well-built, and imposing physiques due to their cultural emphasis on sports and especially martial combat. Females tend to be just tall and built as males. Despite their reputation, grooming is a relatively common practice to the Myrkese, and they are often suprisingly well kept on hygiene - on all levels of their society. Their skin tends to be white or pale, and rarely dark or tan - their faces are thick and imposing, resembling rocky crags moreso than actual faces, with brutish corners and jagged features.
HistoryThe history of the Myrkese is one of blood and war - the holds and clans of the Myrkese have long called the isle of Myrkheim their ancestral homeland ever since the most ancient of histories, when their ancestors crafted fur pelts from the animals they slew and hid in caves to escape the blistering wind. Over time, the Myrkese began to coalesce into holds, where clans united together beneath the rule of Jarls to survive together in the frigid snowy tundra of Myrkheim - these holds warred against each other constantly, and it was not until relatively recently that they banded together to form the nation of Jugeum. In the times before the formation of their society and the Kingdom of Jugeum that the Myrkese now call home, they were kept disparate and scattered by the native populations of Dai-Yukai that roamed the entire island of Myrkeim - the frigid titanesses sat at the top as apex predators, crushing and trampling all they pleased when they pleased. Before their overwhelming power, the ancestral myrkese could do naught but cower and flee - to fight their petty squabbles and wars and run and hide when the titanesses came close. They lived in fear of them, and never dared challenge them - until the rise of Orvar Hafrsson, the legendary first High Jarl of Myrkheim, who rose to unite the disparate Myrkese and showed them how to fight their titanic oppressors with the might of his legendary Berserkrs, and ingenius battle tactics. It was mostly thanks to the first High Jarl of Jugeum that the country even formed - his political scheming and devious warring soon led him to the top of Myrkese Society, and it was then that the Myrkese people truly united into one beneath his banner. Having driven back the Dai-Yukai into the north of Myrkheim, all things south of the Nidavellir Mountains were claimed as property of the Myrkese. And though that fabled first Jarl has passed into memory, the disparate clans of the Myrkese have maintained a loose alliance in the centuries since the loss of their precious first High Jarl - though the Jugeum Union only formed somewhat recently, as after a long and bloody crisis of Succession after the death of the Fourth and final High Jarl, the previously united Myrkese split into countless factions and territories, which only managed to reunite centuries upon centuries later after forming three giant kingdoms to form the modern and current Jugeum Union.
CultureMyrkese culture is divided up into three classes: Thralls, Karls, and Jarls. Thralls are the lowest among the three and are nothing more than slaves - slavery is of great importance to Myrkese society, and is used for everything from everyday chores and large scale construction to also trade and the economy. Thralls tend to be servants and workers in the farms and households of the Karls and Jarls, and are used for a variety of hard work projects. Thralls are typically not seen well and are often looked down on - and more are typically supplied through children of existing Thralls and those the Myrkese capture abroad in their raids. Karls, in contrast, are free peasants. They are the free men of the Myrkese, and stand in contrast to the Jarls - the aristocracy of Myrkese society. Myrkese are organized into keeps, which are typically ruled by a Jarl - many families can gather together into one keep, but all inside of that keep are expected and mandated to carry out military service in the armies of the keep - this generally means taking part in a mandatory amount of raiding parties in a given year or for a given duration, after which they will be given the time between raids for themselvess. Whatever the means, all are expected to contribute to the armies of the keep and of the High Jarl by extension - Thralls are the general exception to this, as they get no choice in the matter. Exceptionally skilled Thralls may be kept back from raids to preserve their talents, but a vast majority are organized into special military units and used for raiding purposes at the whims of the Karls and Jarls. Hallmark of the Myrkese culture is battle and death - every Myrkese's passage into adulthood involves fighting on a battlefield, and central to the Myrkese culture is the notion of an Honorable death - that is to say, death in combat. They believe that they must die in combat against a worthy foe to be worthy to pass into the next world and be accepted into the halls of their ancestors, and so sports and martial might are crucial to their culture. Sports are widely practiced and encouraged at all levels of society save for thralls, and typically involve weapons training or somehow developing combat skills such as spear and stone throwing, wrestling, etc. The Myrkese make little distinction between male and females in their society, unlike many other nations on Zheng-Kitar, and females enjoy almost the same array of rights as men, even joining the army as Shieldmaidens for raids and assaults. They also place a huge cultural emphasis on trophies - as such, they can often be found wearing pelts and skulls and fingerbone necklaces, all mementos from worthy adversaries - they believe doing so keeps one's worthy foes alive in memory, so they might be remembered even after they died. This does little to help the fact they are seen as brutal barbaric savages, as they often take these trophies and fashion them into fur cloaks, bone flutes, and the like. Large communal feasts in massive longhouses and feasting halls are also an incredibly common part of Myrkese society - it is customary to celebrate a victory with a large, raucous celebration with no expense spared - the food and ale flows freely, and these communal feasts are an integral part of Myrkese culture, as many Myrkese believe there is no better way to get to know another than to fight, eat, and drink at their side. As a culture, they are rather unique on the field of war as well - they tend to eschew swords in favor of axes, and commonly imbibe alcohol or hallucinogens before charging into combat. As a result, alchemists and herbalists are incredibly common in Myrkese culture, as are most hallucinogens and drugs to a certain degree - some of which imbue magical properties onto they who takes them.