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Dalyéwo


My people refused to adapt and almost lost everything because of it. I’ll bring them into the future, even if it means I have to drag them there kicking and screaming.

-Bagaan, Hach’hihem’s advisor


The pacifistic dalyéwos are natives of Hafland, with evidence putting them on the island as far back as 11,000 years ago. Their current population of 1,929,178 lives almost exclusively within Emerald Crater, choosing to live in solitude from the rest of the island. Though reclusive, dalyéwos provide the bulk of Hafland’s produce, growing abundant crops with rituals only they understand. Their vital role in Hafland’s livelihood earned them the last seat on The Council of Six in the year 602. Their language is called Dal Bizaad.

Biology

Dalyéwo
Click to enlarge: a 100-year-old dalyéwo.

Dalyéwos are significantly hardier than the other inhabitants of Hafland, and in many ways, can be considered their physical superiors. Not only are dalyéwos taller with an average height of 7-8 ft, they are stronger in just about every measure with apex physiques. They run faster, jump higher, lift heavier, and have enhanced vision and hearing. Dalyéwos also live twice as long and heal wounds at an accelerated rate.

Dalyéwos are humanoids. They have tan, olive skin and black hair that lightens to shades of light brown. Their amber eyes glow a brilliant golden-yellow under direct sunlight, but unlike humans or kavi, lack a visible white sclera. A dalyéwo’s canine teeth are also longer and more pronounced, curved like a wolf’s; and their black nails grow into thick points. While all these traits are distinct enough to pick a dalyéwo out from a crowd, their defining characteristic lies in their horns. A dalyéwo’s horns are an important part of their culture, used to mark their age, attract a partner, or even removed as a sign of shame. Horns begin as horn buds on the sides of a newborn’s head. Initially, they grow straight out at a 45-degree angle until they’re about 25-years-old. The horns then begin to curve, and by the time they reach their 50s, the tip of their horns point straight up. Between ages 50 – 100, the horns continue growing into a distinct “L” shape. As a dalyéwo enters the second half of their lifespan, their horns curve inward with age, and horns can be expected to have a distinct “C” shape by the time they hit 150-years-old. The horns continue this inward, curling growth pattern into their senior years, with the oldest dalyéwos having horns pointing to the tops of their heads.

For those unfamiliar with them, a dalyéwo’s longevity can make it difficult to pinpoint their age. Though they grow and reach sexual maturity around the same age as humans and kavi, their prolonged life means they take far longer to show signs of aging—a 70-year-old dalyéwo can look virtually the same as they did when they were 25. For this reason, the best way to gauge their age is by their horns, which grow at a steady rate from birth. Within dalyéwo society, partnering and thoughts of starting a family aren’t even considered until they are well into their 50s.

Dalyéwos also have exceptional healing capabilities. Compared to an average human, they recover from injuries six times faster. This powerful healing goes beyond mending cuts or broken bones; their bodies can regenerate tissue most living organisms are incapable of. Given enough time, a dalyéwo will regenerate any lost limbs or organs. They are not invincible, though. While a dalyéwo could repair superficial damage to a vital organ such as their heart or brain, they cannot come back from a fatal blow that pushes them to the point of death. During the Sailor’s War, when dalyéwos were conscripted to fight, this led to the unfortunate practice of “double tapping”: shooting an injured dalyéwo in the heart and head to ensure they died.

Culture

The structure of dalyéwo society is matrilineal and organized by clans: children take their mother’s clan name, while adult men move to live with their partners and adopt the partner’s clan name. Dating within one’s clan is strictly forbidden, since it is viewed as incestuous. Every clan is named after their ancestral First Mother, the woman that started the clan. There are clans that can trace their history back thousands of years, but not all clans are inherently old since the process for creating a new clan is simple: a woman need only form a settlement and declare it so. The formation of new clans is extremely rare, however, as dalyéwos prefer communal living. When dealing with outsiders, dalyéwos use only their given name, but when conversing among their own, they always refer to one another by their given name and clan name—to not do so is considered rude.

Despite the existence of clans, dalyéwo society places heavy emphasis on community; there is almost no sense of personal property—not even land. Clans can be associated with an area of Emerald Crater, but that land is not for their exclusive use and can be shared with others. The closest thing to ownership they have are their personal hogans, a small family dwelling used solely for rest or rare moments of wanted privacy. Work and responsibilities are shared by all members of the clan, with heavy emphasis placed on doing one’s part in the community. No dalyéwo is assigned any single task for long; it is considered healthy and good for the spirit to partake in all village activities, whether it be farming, building, weaving, or looking after the children. A typical clan’s village is built with many open spaces and common areas; the village is integrated with its surroundings, making use of whatever nature has already placed. At the heart of every village is a sha’ebodz (lit. ‘Greatest fire’), a massive fire pit used as a gathering spot for meetings, celebrations, and rituals.

Traditionally, dalyéwos have no true rulers, with many village decisions and assigning of duties made communally at the sha’ebodz. Shamans are the closest thing they have to leaders; they are usually the eldest members of a village, possessing fonts of knowledge regarding rituals and communion with spirits. They provide a variety of duties including, but not limited to: healing, conflict resolution, communing with the dead, and rituals to cast blessings or curses.

Clothing

The weather in Emerald Crater stands in stark contrast to the moody and wet climate the rest of Hafland usually experiences; it is far warmer year-round, and there is rarely heavy cloud cover, giving dalyéwos access to the sun most of the day. The weather exists separately from that of Hafland, despite technically being one island. It’s common for the rest of the island to experience heavy rains in Autumn while Emerald Crater remains unaffected. Traditional dalyéwo garb reflects the warmer climate they live in, opting for airy tunics, pants, and dresses—embroidered with colorful patterns or symbolic depictions of native wildlife. Though they make their clothes from a wide variety of materials found in Emerald Crater, the most commonly used are atahe cloth made from hangman’s vine plant fibers, and the shed hide of pincushion deer. If they leave Emerald Crater, they’ll commonly be seen wearing thick, fur-like ponchos made from furchins.

Pacifism

Although dalyéwos do not have a defined religion, their culture holds sacred a collection of beliefs that guide their shamans, with the right to life being the most important. Dalyéwos believe taking the life of another living creature is abhorrent and should be avoided at all costs. This attitude reflects in their day-to-day and has most notably translated to their non-violent pacifism and vegetarian lifestyles.

Conflict among dalyéwos are rare and almost always resolved peacefully, but in the unusual event two dalyéwos cannot reconcile their issues, a shaman intervenes. The shaman takes them into a hogan to perform a healing ceremony, mediating their conflict and holding them there until resolution.

Dalyéwo pacifism is absolute, even shunning self-defense in the face of danger. They have learned to coexist with the dangerous wildlife in Emerald Crater, circumventing violence using a mix of natural medicine, curses, blessings, and shamanistic powers to protect themselves—all without ever harming or killing. But this attitude, while noble, was what spelled their doom when humans and kavi first waged war on Hafland.

Horn Removal and Banishment

Unsurprisingly, the purposeful taking of a life is the worst crime one can commit among dalyéwos. Killing with intent—no matter the life or circumstance—is unforgiveable. Those that kill have their horns cut off and cauterized to prevent them growing back; it is a great mark of shame to have one’s horns removed in such a manner. They are then cursed by shamans, preventing them from ever physically returning to Emerald Crater. Although killing is the most common reason for horn removal and banishment, it isn’t the only one.

Agriculture

Dalyéwos have a strong agricultural tradition, using rituals to allow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (both native and foreign) to grow in Emerald Crater. They also rely heavily on Emerald Crater’s natural resources, harvesting plants and raising animals such as:

Pincushion Deer: Kept for their hides, pincushion deer are a common sight in dalyéwo villages. Pincushion deer are medium-sized animals (100 lb) with short brown fur and a white underbelly. All are born female, but in every herd the largest becomes a male; to prevent overpopulation, the male is kept separate from the females. Pincushion deer earn their name from their defense mechanism: when threatened, quills rapidly grow from their body and shoot out at predators. Every six months, pincushion deer regrow their skin and shed their old hide completely; dalyéwo farmers take great care to prevent their pincushion deer from spooking, since ejecting quills ruins the hide they molt.

Hangman’s Vine: Hangman’s vine is a naturally occurring plant in Emerald Crater’s Feral Forest. It is a carnivorous vine that grows in the treetops. It feeds by lowering its vines to the forest floor, where it waits dormant; the moment anything touches it, the vines constrict around its unfortunate victim and pulls it high up into the canopy to strangle it. After it kills its prey, the hangman’s vine secrets enzymes that slowly digest the body, which it then absorbs.

Furchin: Furchins are slow-moving aquatic creatures, living in the Feral Forest’s freshwater lakes and streams. It is a small mollusk completely covered in long and thick, black hairs. When shaved and dried, this hair resembles fur, which dalyéwos use to create warm ponchos.

History

Dalyéwos once inhabited the entirety of Hafland—including the snowy mountain Gast Academy is built on—but lost it all in the Sailor’s War. Unwilling to resort to violence, they attempted diplomacy at first with the invading humans and kavi, but upon failing that put up a half-hearted defense. Even when it came to protecting their own lives, they only used their shamanistic powers to avoid fighting, ultimately sabotaging themselves in the long run. They were systematically killed and forced out of their homes until they retreated into Emerald Crater; the dalyéwos found respite from human and kavi aggressors who were unable to fight their way through the dangerous forests.

Those unlucky enough to escape were captured by both the Populo Federation and Radiant Empire. Their incredible physiques and sturdiness meant they’d be a boon to whichever side could recruit them. It is an unfortunate reality that most of these prisoners refused to fight and were murdered for it; only a tiny percentage gave in, proving themselves ferocious warriors. After the conclusion of the Sailor’s War, these veteran dalyéwos returned home only to find themselves ostracized. Having killed, their people took their horns and banished them. Many of the banished committed suicide, and the ones who didn’t simply left the island and disappeared into the world, forgotten. These dalyéwo warriors are referred to as the Lost. It is assumed most, if not all, of the Lost are now dead.

Years after the disastrous events of the Sailor’s War, efforts were made by humans and kavi to make amends. Hafland’s leadership tried to integrate the reclusive dalyéwos with the rest of the population, but the dalyéwos would never truly trust humans or kavi enough to do so. However, a prominent shaman, Zaltana, saw the need to join her people with the outsiders in one form or another. She saw Hafland’s population swell with each passing year, and though people generally kept out of Emerald Crater, she knew it would only be a matter of time before they started spilling onto dalyéwo land. Zaltana devised a shrewd arrangement: her people would grow food to feed the burgeoning island, and in return she demanded a seat on the council. Hafland’s council agreed to the arrangement, officially giving Zaltana a seat on June 18, 602 and forming The Council of Six. She became the voice of her people, advocating policies to ensure the Sailor’s War could never be repeated.

Shamanism

Dalyéwo shamanism is often lumped together with the chanting magic used by kavi. While some superficial commonalities exist, the two are entirely different. Chanting is focused on the material world and is powered by telepathy, having the distinct limitation of being unable to directly control living beings and the energy that surrounds them. The shamanism practiced by dalyéwos is interested in the spiritual current that flows through all life; shamans channel this spirit energy to use its power. Their ancient rituals and ceremonies manipulate life itself and operate at a level unsurpassed by the other races. Even today, their curses and blessings are barely understood by even the most gifted Wraith Hall mercenary.

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