the Vesren are tall and skinny to the point of being gaunt. They possess a dark brown skin that seems in fitting with their Forrest surroundings. Their features are somewhat sunken and their eyes seem to be perpetually in shadow. Even when an Vesren looks directly at you, it feels like they are staring from a great distance behind their eyes.
Vesren are not much for ornamentation and tend to avoid anything made by another. All of the people of the wood can craft the necessities of life and see all work as an extension of their spiritual presence on this world. This feeds into their belief in the "echo."
The Vesren are often seen as being very simple folk. When brought into the fold during the Calivesti and The Republic, they put up no real resistance, for they knew that governance would be lax in the deep hollow. They have been free to live their lives here undisturbed for countless centuries.
The history of the Vesren is recorded in a process called ring shaping wherein a shaman can impress events connected to a ring of a tree. So instead of having any oral history or formal education system; the young and the curious simply spend hours meditating in contact with the tree.
No outsider has ever been granted the privilege of having direct contact with one of these lore trees and the threatening of these trees seems to be one of the few things that will move an Vesren to violence. When these normally pacifistic people are moved to extremes of emotion it can be truly frightening.
Vesren drink deep of the intoxicating black sap of the bleeding groves which have a mild addictive property. This consumption has altered their physiology through the years and while the consumption of the blood will be immediately overpowering to outsiders, it only produces minor effects in the Vesren.
This sap is one of their primary trade commodities, and the tree shamans can distill specific flavors by tempering the wood with strong emotional signatures. When a member of the community mourns, he or she is allowed to imprint that feeling and then the community partakes so that the pain can be lessened as the entire community bears the load.
When a community loses its hub tree, the effect is devastating. Without the shared cultural knowledge, people quickly lose their place and other Vesren tribes can baulk at taking in elders due to their frequent insistence on the ways they have learned in defiance of the new tree.
Marriages are arranged in Vesren culture and an individual is promised to another from a young age. The act of first coupling is a ritualized affair that melds the two with echoes. Vesren do not remarry, and if the two turn out to be completely incompatible, they are not allowed to seek other companionship. Instead, they undergo a spiritual marriage to the world of the Tonah that divorces them from worldly concerns.
The rising was particularly horrific to the moral of the Vesren because the dead are buried within reach of the hub tree, so that the roots may incorporate them into the evolving spirit of their people. When the dead rose, many hubs trees were destroyed and those tribes that weren't wiped out were often cast adrift.
Vesren venerate the Tonah in much the same way as the Luthander but it is a very personal affair. The Tonah are known as the "second family" and are considered the progenitors of the Vesren's spirit. Most maladies of a non-physical nature are ascribed to bouts of disharmony between the individual and their second family.
The hub tree is referred to as grandmother and is considered the spiritual ancestor of the entire tribe. Each tribe has unique myths involving how their specific grandmother unified the tribe. The character of the grandmother is reflected on all members of a specific tribe and determines how another tribe deals with them.
Vesren that take the second Union begin to starve themselves making them even more gaunt and only partake of the sustenance provided by the sap of the hub tree. This is sufficient to keep them alive but their body wastes away as their spiritual life elevates. They learn to walk with grandmother as she guides them across the branches of the world tree.
The People of Ib
The shorefolk are pale of skin and muted of coloration. They have a slightly bluish or grayish tone to their skin as if slighlty sickly by the standards of Alvanen. They typically stand between 5'4-6' in height with hardened musculature that resists the cold, wet winds of their climate. Their hair is usually blond or light brown and grays early in life to reach a faint silver hue. While their bodies may be muted in coloration, their eyes are a completely different story. Their eyes change drastically with their mood; darkening with anger, lightening with happiness and ocaisionally literally glittering with mirth.
The People of Ib typically dress in a rather plain fashion but are very fond of trinkets. Trinkets are attached to memories for each of them and provide a solid reminder of a truth. The baubles are worn around their neck, displayed in body piercings, and worn sewn into their clothes. This ornamentation usually does not hold practical value and is only worth anything to the individual or that individuals family.
Those communities that have setteld ib's thumb and the Idlewind Isles share a common culture defined by their relationship with the Calypso Sea and it's queer effects on memory. As the tides come in, they carry with them strange memories of different times and people that cause the individuals to doubt their own recollections.
A common practice in the region is to "cast a remember" where they attempt to trace a specific memory back to its origin and therefore discover its veracity. This has also evolved into a rich storytelling tradition where the community gathers around twice every tenday to swap individual tales from the mist. While the origin of a specific memory may be doubted, the fact that the event in question happened is accepted without debate, therefore, the history of the isles is like a puzzle that is being slowly assembled by the People of Ib.
If a story has been recalled by enough individuals, it is written down on a long roll of cloth that is then braided with other stories and hung between the beems of houses. This is a symbolic way of tying the community together by a shared narrative. These cloths are often stained bright colors, at least originally, to distinguish them from the common mundane elements of the community at large.
The People of Ib have always been quick to swear allegiance to whatever new banner is presented them by would be conquerers, while undermining that rule at every turn. They see conquerors as deserving of whatever comes to them and will lie to, cheat, and steal from these interlopers whenever possible. The stories of particularly daring heists are some of the most beloved stories of all.
Stories are sacred and hold power all their own. The People of Ib respect a great storyteller as other groups would respect a cleric or shaman. It is said that the sea will quiet to listen to the words of a storycrafter and the spirits of those departed will cease their aggression if their tales are properly told by one with the gift.
Their exists a unique Hunter tradition among the people of the Last Captain's. Instead of emphasizing the banishment of specters, Last Captains are skilled negotiators and shepherds of souls that are adept in discerning what ties a spirit to this world and allowing them to move on to the next. While Last Captains are trained in the use of the hook and chain, their real power lies in their voice and presence which is capable of calming the supernatural anger of the departed.
Due to the telling and retelling of stories certain figures that feature prominently have developed a following. These are called The Castaway Saints and their spirits are evoked in times of hardship. This could be a sect of the Spirit Pantheon worshipped by villages in the Wheel Lands and in the west.
The Sharo are a graceful people with sinuous bodies and an exotic allure. Their skin is light brown with dark colored hair and eyes. Body hair is incredibly light and even men cannot grow beards.
Both male and female Sharo grow their hair long and those in adulthood start squiring intricate braids that represent their position in soceity. Only the Heishin Slayer caste shave their heads to denote the fact that their bond is solely to their work.
Clothing is light and practical to allow them to move freely and to shed the heat of the Spiral lands. Jewelry is fairly popular with stone talismans being made from discoveries in the deep.
The people of the Spiral Lands to the far west of Korvast suffer from a hole in their history. Each child is born with the knowledge that something is missing and they struggle as a people to reclaim it. All that is known for sure, is that the secret to their history lies in the Labrinth.
The Sharo live in a caste based soceity where a person's role is assigned after their first walk into the Lanrinth that lies beneath the mounds of the Spiral Lands. When an individual Sharo reaches adulthood, the being bonds with a Tonah spirit known as an Aspyian Wasp. The creature is able to integrate with a soul in such a way as to lose its original identity and expand the senses of its host. In particular, Sharo have their memory enhanced to a point of near perfect recollection.
Once this ceremony is complete. The being wanders into the Labrinth and comes back with some new insight into their past. Depending on the insight, the new initiate is given a role in soceity and their first braid to represent that position. The castes are: warrior, gatherer, listener, braider, and the most esteemed Heishin Slayers.
The Sharo are ruled by the braider caste of females who are considered most knowledgable of the spirits of each member of the tribe.
Sharo have engaged in brief periods of warfare with outsiders but most leave in time. Sharo consider themselves as having never been conquered and take swift offense to those who would insist otherwise.
"The wilderness without is but a reflection of the wildness within"- Lines In The Sand
In Sharo culture every non-human thing they encounter they consider a reflection of the spiritual life of one of the human wanderers. The outside is simply a testing ground where knowledge of the self is gathered and it's real substance is nothing but a great illusion..
The Labrinth is the gateway to full enlightenment, with the Sharo's destiny being held somewhere in the twisting halls. But entering the tunnels is limited to an individual going through the right of adulthood and who has yet to become burdened by the lies of this world.
Within the Lands of the Spiral every Sharo hears four distinct voices aside from their own inside their head. These voices are known as Slither, voice of caution and cowardice; Heavy, voice of responsibility; Flutter, voice of passion and Open, voice of innovation and curiosity. These voices are considered the great teachers and venerated as such. The Sharo are accustomed to these voices and grow lonely in the quiet of the outside world.