Ah culture … because of the diverse species, the way they’ve mingled and separated, culture can be a tricky creature to handle. And can clash, as most species within Thardrandia are capable of breeding with at least one other. The easiest way for me to explain is by going through the species …
Most of the old equineancustoms are closely linked to their elements, affecting even their daily life as the powers gifted to them by the gods require daily meditation to control. A nomadic people, one facet of the whole species, divided into small clans, will mingle through the season. This is usually a time where the unwed men show off their magical and hunting abilities and marriage contracts are agreed upon. These contracts are often in the man’s favour as a traditional equinean women has little rights in a Herd.
All four Herds meet but once a year at the aptly named Meeting Hill for prayer and to allow the Herd Leaders to discuss any troubles within the land. Their laws are quiet strict on their people, failing to have absolute obedience to them often results in death. Let’s take marriage for instance.
For the equineans, seeking to marry outside of one’s elemental birth is illegal. Depending on the Herd, the punishment can range from banishment for all persons involved, to death of one party (usually the woman), to the banishment of the man into Kamorn Ania (generally seen as a death sentence), to death of both. If an equinean dared to seek marriage outside of their species, well the punishment is death for all persons involved. This can include those seeking to cover up this atrocity.
Impregnation out of wedlock was once considered a ghastly thing to do to one’s family. The persons involved must either be married immediately or the female is to be killed. This practice has since fallen out of favour as healers learnt to rid a woman of an unwanted child. But this led to other troubles as some men, having learnt their wife was not a virgin at the time of their marriage, returning their wives to the woman’s family. He could also do this if there were no children after the first year of marriage. He was then free to move on to another wife, whereas if a woman was forbidden to seek another.
As the influence of the matriarchal societies of the other species grew stronger, much of these old laws were abolished. But a few linger such as the insistence that a pregnant woman is to stay by her husband’s side, and a man has the right to marry more than one woman if he chooses.
Now the katessare completely the opposite. Being a matriarchal society, the only male position that is remotely close to power is when they are a Priest of Antil. Outside of the priesthood, men have so little control of their household that a woman who reaches the age of ten (maturity equivalent to a human twenty-year-old) is legally allowed to completely rule her home, regardless if she lives there with her own widower father.
That’s not to say they don’t posses their own quirk. Here, marriage is customarily done by a mother buying the contract of a young woman for her own son. This is an old dance, and each contract comes with its own unique set of escape clauses bar one: either party is free to wed as they please, providing one side has garnered royal favour.
If a betrothed couple get as far as marriage, the man is branded with the emblem of the women’s family. This mark is placed in a concealed spot, generally on a buttock or the base of the tail. The ears of both are also pierced. In fact, katesses piece their ears for many milestones, using different metals to mark each one …
Brass earrings denote adulthood and are gifted by the High Priestess at the beginning of the New Year. Young men and woman, dressed in white gowns will line up before the temple to be ritually pierced upon the steps. It is usually done one at a time but both can be given if it is made known that the receiver will not be returning to Catsckin for the next New Year (along with a small donation).
Copper signifies one has lost his or her virginity. One earring of this metal is customarily exchanged between a wedded couple. Silver is used to symbolize one is a parent with one earring for each child. Gold denotes how many bedmates one has had, typically one earring for each partner. Katesses who have become Roguess have a very high percentage of these, with some women placing little discs/rings on the bigger earrings instead of piercing the ear again.
Raptereons share many similarities with the katesses in their culture. Though not as aggressive in their dominion over their men, the women are nevertheless in charge. This stems more from the natural fact that a raptereon man will live half as long as a raptereon woman; their death coming at a precise forty years. Though this not quite as apparent to outsiders as the women tend to do much of the ordering subtly. It is from them that much of the current laws and punishments were gathered.
Ever a vicious people, these punishments are often very painful. For example, the punishment for a third thieving attempt (the first two being a warning, then a lashing) is public blinding with hot pokers. More distasteful acts, such as the atrocities committed by the Rogues would lead to painful castration and death by whips. They are especially eager to have the latter punishment widely known as they believe Rogues fair worse in Defora after suffering in this manner.
The wolenainsociety had been in a wobbly favour of men for quite some time, never fully being one or the other. This changed with the ascension of Tiyad into goddess-hood and the influences of the nearby katess.
The strangest of them all is the Prewania-Tofuas. A hive-like mentality, females will choose three males to be her mate for life (his life as the males posses a ‘loyalty gland’ that’ll impresses on a female). This was because the males outnumbered the female three-to-one and, because of this unevenness, it was consider fine to allow half-siblings to mate with each other.
Each of these males will possess one of the qualities that’ll make them take up the role of guard, hunter or egg tender. All three can be chosen at once, but it is customary for the female to choose them one at a time and breed in order of selection.
Beyond this family structure, the people are governed by a council of old males who advise the Highness, a single female generally approaching five hundred years. For the prewania-tofuas, her word was law (and is partially what lead to their downfall).
On the milder side are the contanihians, the bir-dra, the sssstamne and the mezans. The first two, being closely related, share many customs in holding both warriors and scholars in high esteem. The last two are passive creatures. For the mezans, they prefer not to deal with those above the surface, but unlike the equineans, do not hold it against a person if they choose to venture beyond in both land or love. Whereas the sssstamne are more inclined to talk than act (likely because half of them are poisonous).
Now the trexens, isolated as they are from the others, have became very attached to their traditions. Especially when it comes to their leaders. Where the other kingdoms allow the leadership to be passed in more-or-less any fashion they choose, a trexen prince must adhere to specific rules, must speak precisely and marry within the correct timeframe. Among the nobility, women were expected to list their reasons before the in-laws, if not a whole court, as to why she would be a suitable wife (often, this meant proof of noble bloodlines).
While the common men and women would be equally treated, a woman was not thought to be capable of understanding the day-to-day tasks necessary to rule their estate alone. This mindset was fast abolished after Empress Miran took the throne following the dead of her father and two younger brothers and ruled alone.
At last, we come to the Rogues. Being a mixed group of species mostly made up of men in their prime, much cultural belief is intertwined and generally comes down to the individual. But there are a few customs they observe as a unit. Being what they are, most of them have to do with sex or the like. The Roguess Initiation is one of these. In short, a woman chooses one of the Rogues to aid her in her quest for Roguess-hood, usually in public with a group of other women seeking to be Roguesses. Do I need to go further into details there?
Sole Partnering is perhaps one of the few customs that is a little more on the personal side. See, once a man is classed as a Rogue, they do not, as a rule, have a family. They are not known to marry and monogamy is an uncommon lifestyle for most Rogues. To counter this, those who wish to remain with one woman request to be marked with a sole partner tattoo. Each pairing is marked with a different symbol, always in the same place: he on the left shoulder blade; her on the hip. This can be done with ink that fades over time, but often, the tattoo is permanent and bright for the remainder of their lives.
Very few Rogues will take this option, but of the handful who practice it are reputedly extremely devoted. Some speculate this is because of the retribution exacted on a sole partner who strays, with the women given the opportunity, as well as the means, to geld him (considered the worst punishment for a Rogue, as it is rumoured to worsen the man’s eternal suffering once in Defora).