Children of the Wind
The wakeful land of Bryoni lies north of Kanace, beyond the Mistborn Mountains. This treacherous barrier, alive with lindorm and wyvern, dire wolf and strange flukes of power, kept the two lands seperate for centuries. Some rare Kanascan exile would be found wandering now and then, either to die their first winter or intermarry among the Bryoni mad enough to take fairy spouse.
Such was, and, to a point, still is, what the people of Bryoni believe Kanascans to be. Fairies. Spirits. Troubling and tricksome things.
So, when their king, the noble Gareth Daraghson, returned from having been lost on a hunting trip with a tiny Kanascan princess he had taken to wife, the matter was taken with a measure of wariness. She looked, after all, every bit the fae, a golden skinned beauty with eyes that shimmered violet and danced with kiss of gold at her pleasure, dark hair touched with violet, who could call a wind with but a whistle and rise a spark with a snap. The Circle would not permit the marriage until the curious Alina was accepted by the land herself, her blood dedicated to the stones and the runes thrown to speak her place.
Their union opened up commerce with the Mistlands, though limited. There was market for the wines and fruits of the lush summerland beyond, but few cared for the airy arts of the fae folk, or their strange drugs. Fewer cared to admit that these were properly human.
Bryoni is, assuredly, no summerland. It is by strange quirk of current that Kanace comes by her warmth, while Bryoni is a place of long winters, brief summers, howling winds, and wild seas. It is a hard place, yet a place that will, to a point, watch over her own. Alive and aware, the blood-fed stones know their people and work their own curious will now and then. Great forests, stony plains, a bit of greener land towards the Mistborn Mountains, and chilly reaches to the far north make up ths land, a few marshy areas in the midlands to be found near the most fertile stretches.
The land can be coaxed to give forth crops, if rough things, and hardy things. The fine hardwoods and fragrant cedars that grow near the mountains are of great value for trade. Those who are truly daring can find profit of iron in the Mistborn Mountains, but it is gotten with no little peril. Mining occurs to a point in some other points. Fur-bearing animals are trapped and hunted, and the treated skins of wyverns, lindorms, and those dire wolves who cannot be tamed are offered up to the southlands as well, along with ambergris, rich oils, baleen, and whalebone from the beasts of the sea. Some sealskins are traded as well, but not all are quite comfortable with hunting or eating such.
The men of Bryoni are stout and hearty, standing above 6’ tall and powerfully built. They tend to blonde, scarlet, or pale brown hair, the rare dark hair often accredited to impurity by faerie heritage far distant. Eyes tend to grays, blues, and greens, some rare pale brown or mingled hazels that bring to mind the eyes of wolves, and skin tends to fair. Their women are no tiny, shrinking things, either, few below 5’10.
Some pattern their skin with marks in woad and dark pigments, though more often men than women. There are marks that speak blessings and marks that speak curse, some meant to call down the battle-spirits of beasts. It is rare that they mark face, and hands are forbidden. Often these marks are traced across back or chest, or over arms. They are usually the gift of a wife or sister, mother or wise woman, and though they often have no true power, some rare patterns do work magic. Men and women both wear their hair longer, and either might bear charms within it meant to offer protection or stand as totem. Some of the men’s charms are shaped of the bones of beasts taken in the hunt or are cut from the hair of those they have defeated. No man who is below sixteen is permitted such charms, however, no matter how battle-proven he may be. The women’s charms tend to be of beaten metal or rough cut stone, glass or clay, and can either be meant as ornament or protection. Either might have pierced ears, but other piercings are not generally seen.Men wear long tunics and laced boots, furs and leathers. Women tend to long and layered dresses and stockings. Warrior women and women of the Circle in active combat will wear trousers and long tunics, sometimes indistinguishable from the men. Armor tends to boiled leathers mixed with maille and metal pieces, some rare armors incorporating the skins of lindorm and wyvern, though lammelar or Southern styles like breastplates not unheard of. Mages sometimes go unarmored, though the Circle tended to robes of tight weave before, then took up the Queen’s curious designs, now often wearing armor cut in panels with pieces that fall and allow for the complex movements of their spellwork. The young Prince and a few of the other magically gifted men wear such oddly cut caster armor in battle sometimes as well.
Typical armaments are hunting bows, longaxes, spears, some javelins, and longsword. Some use of claymore and bastard sword is known, but not as common, and more often seen among nobles. Bow use is often limited, for ranged weaponry is often viewed as a bit cowardly, but in the case of raider incursions it is more acceptable as a kind of way of dishonoring what are seen as somewhat subhuman. Trained hounds, wolves, dire wolves, and hawks are used in battle as well, the hawks a bit rarer, the wolves often interbred with hounds and trained to work together as a pack. The dire wolves are possessed of a greater intelligence and will sometimes almost direct the lesser elements. Some will interbreed with larger dogs now and then, but it is rarer and the resulting pups are prized for intelligence and loyalty.
Men generally ride horses, though some will actually ride the wolves into battle. Others disdain this practice, claiming that it limits the wolves’ battle readiness, though most nobles know how to manage one. If a horse is slain in battle, it is not unheard of to switch off to companion if speed is needed. The horses themselves are trained with the wolves, both from young age. Beasts are sometimes provided with light armor themselves, but this is also a debated practice, as again, many feel it interferes with battle readiness. It is rare that a woman keeps wolves or will deal with them, though to show fear around them is something to be derided, whether man, woman, or child.
The common folk tend to live in walled villages, livestock kept within the common ground when not watched by herders. It is not uncommon for beasts to be held commonly by a single village. The keeps of the lords who watch over the scattered villages are designed to allow for retreat of the women and children behind their walls, but it is rare that the outlying villages could reach such protection. Generally, there is a lesser Circle woman either per village, or within two villages distance, who is consulted in times of illness and sought to settle disputes and speak over crops. They are almost seen to function as priestesses, if treated slightly less reverantly. Men will commonly default to women of the Circle. Lesser often bear a single small mark on their hand to denote their rank, while Inner Circle are known by their manner and their dress. Lords will often speak with the Circle women as much as with men among the common folk to understand local conflicts and needs, though common women are less regarded.