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Written by Zeru
Spread throughout all the Arctic Islands are small deposits of rare crystals that the royalties and nobles of other countries go absolutely daffy for. Throughout the ages, these crystals were used by the natives for religious ceremonies, and are still considered to mediums to the spirit world. Excessive mining in late years depleted the resources of the crystals, leaving the caves bare and the tribal natives with little to no crystals left for ceremonies. This was brought to the attention of King Ataneq (now deceased). He ordered that non-natives had to have a permit for the collection of crystals. Of course, there is a copious amount of illegal mining.
The crystals are located in small, pocket-like caves placed randomly throughout the islands. Most natives know how to locate these caves, and are often paid in foreign items to lead expedition teams to the caves.
The island of Mairak, smaller than any of the minor islands and with no major towns or cities, is especially known for its crystal deposits, and has been nicknamed The Crystal Island. Most crystals there can be found poking out of the snow, and along the coast, crystals jut from rock cliffs. King Ataneq limited tourism to the island of Mairak for this reason. Natives there are also rather violent and unwelcoming to outsiders due to being used for their crystals in the past.
Written by Zeru
Each species has its own god or goddess, who reports to a singular supreme god. The supreme god has been depicted as a primarily human female with various animal characteristics. The animal characteristics are disputed widely, as the various species will try to make the goddess resemble themselves. Sometimes she's depicted with more masculine features. The high goddess is usually named Kukik or Kuk'ia. Other variants exist.
Amagu - Male; Wolf God
Asunga - Female; Arctic Fox Goddess
Issorartu - Male; Malamute God
Inung - Male; Dall Sheep (due to the second rebellion, Inung is portrayed as an evil god)
Kort - Male; Hare God (all types of hare identify with Kort)
Mekus - Female; Husky God
Nanuq (or Nanook) - Male; Polar Bear God
Nartok - Male; Muskox God
Negiliq - Female; Collared Lemming Goddess
Ugila - Female; Seal Goddess (previously Uglu; changed to conform with modern Feila language)
Suluk - Male; Penguin God
Raluk - Female; Caribou Goddess
The pantheon and Kukik are the only true gods to the Islanders.
Spirits also play a vital role in religion. It's believed that the spirits of those passed away watch down upon the living, usually on their relatives. These spirits live in the Northern Lights.
The crystals, which a clear, break down sunlight into different spectrums which resemble the Northern Lights. For this reason, they are considered to be immediate mediums to the spiritual world. The Crystal Island, Mairak, is a spiritual haven. To become a Shaman, one must travel to the shores of DalÃ¤lvin and stay in a trance for 48 hours without breaking concentration. Most Shamans-to-be usually stock up on as much food as they can before traveling, as they cannot eat from the moment the leave their village. After the complete trance finishes, Shamans can eat. It's generally accepted that they don't eat the non-sentient cousins of the main anthropomorphic natives until they get back home. (ie., a new wolf Shaman would not eat a non-sent. caribou, hare, seal, and so on..)
Written by JamesG
The Class System
Every citizen in the Arctic Islands is categorised by these classes, which relate to power and affluence. From the most powerful to the least, in order:
The Tsar: An All-powerful emperor, with responsibility and power over every fur in his country. Every Tsar has the right to choose his or her successor. The Tsar is the most affluent person in the land, and has complete political control over every policy. In relation to the people, he is seen as a father figure, and chosen by the divine Kukik to rule. Technically owns the whole of the islands, but usually lives in various Palaces. He can own servants and slaves.
The Royal Family: The relatives of the Tsar. These people do not have the same powers of life and death over the people as the Tsar does, but they have a similar status. The Tsar's wife may rule in his stead, if he is away. Otherwise, the Royal Family is basically uninvolved in politics, except to advise the Tsar. Allowed their own properties, servants and slaves.
The Aristocracy: The nobles of the islands. These people gain their position through hereditary means. They have very little political power, and can only act on the orders of the Tsar. The only power they have is the day-to-day running of each province they control. These people are very affluent, and are expected to adhere to the religion of the islands. This class owns all of the land they are designated, and are allowed to own slaves and servants.
The Shamans: The religious leaders of the Islands, the Shamans are seen as messengers of the gods, though they do not have divine status. They are quite affluent, but not as much as the aristocracy. These furs are responsible for caring for the religious needs of their provinces. They have no political power in relation to the Tsar, but the Aristocracy must take care to keep the Shamans on their good side. They are permitted to own their own property, and can own slaves.
The Kulaks: Wealthy peasants. These furs are not actually gentry in the Edwinish sense, in that they have no noble blood. These furs own businesses, and have peasants working for them. However, this class is entirely subservient to the higher classes above it, with no political power, and not as much affluence as the higher classes. The NKO, NEF and other minor officials like those organisations are usually made up of Kulaks. They are not allowed to own their own property unless they join the NKO or NEF, which is a great incentive to join either. This class cannot own slaves.
The Peasants: Workers. Miners, fishermen, whalers. These people are the producers of all the Arctic's food, wealth and produce. However, they see little affluence, and have no political power. This class is heavily religious, believing wholeheartedly in the reality of the gods. They cannot own Slaves, and cannot own property, instead being allowed to live in houses owned by the Aristocracy, for which they must pay rent.
Slaves: Prisoners from the Territory of the Ravens, Yamaha or homeless Islanders, forced into servitude. They have no affluence, no political power, and no ability to own anything, not even the clothes on their backs, and not even their lives, which belong to their owners. Slaves may be used for unskilled manual labour, whereas more skilled workers would be paid servants.
Written by JamesG
The Military of the Arctic Islands
The New Empire Forces, or NEF, is comprised of several different sections, each with its own rank system, shown below.
The New Empire Army
The Army is the land forces of the Arctic Islands. Its officers are made up of the Kulak class, the ordinary soldiers are peasants or slaves. It is made up of the following components:
The Imperial Life Guards - To join the Guards one must be a Polar Bear at least 6 foot high. The Guards protect the Tsar, wherever he travels.
The Imperial Crossbowmen - The crossbow-armed section of the army, which provides the ranged attack of the infantry. Crossbows are used in favour of longbows due to the cold conditions making using a bow harder than using a crossbow.
The Imperial Infantry - The standard infantry of the army, armed with 16-foot long halberds. They also carry one-handed swords for use once the halberd has expired in usefulness.
The Imperial Cavalry - The Imperial Cavalry is a relatively small unit of the army, as it is impractical to use horses for transport in the Arctic, where grass for grazing is scarce. The Imperial Cavalry is only ever trained to fight in more Southerly campaigns, such as on the continent of Piriqui.
The Imperial Engineers - The body of men in the army that are skilled in carpentry and building. The construction or destruction of bridges, siege engines, stockades, redoubts, trenches, watchtowers and any other related duty is carried out by this group.
The Imperial Commissariat of Supply - The logistics department of the army, which deals in supply wagons for food, crossbow bolts, ammunition for siege engines and wood for construction, as well as tents, tools, additional weapons, and any other necessary supplies.
The Imperial Sorcerers: The magic users of the army, used to defend the troops from enemy magical attacks, and deliver magical offences. This is the most religious part of the army, and is often comprised of Shamans, whom believe that the power of the gods is being channelled through them to heal the wounded, or to deliver destruction to the enemies of the Tsar.
The Narvikish Warriors: The elite infantry of the Arctic, second only to the Life Guards. Narvikish Warriors are known for their ability to survive in almost any climate, walk any distance and fight anything with the fury and bloodlust of a wild beast. They are also reportedly a little eccentric, though devoted to the Tsar. Their weapon of choice is a curved sword called a Shashka.
The New Empire Navy
The New Empire Navy is the seaborne forces of the Arctic Islands. Its officers are made up of the Kulak class, the ordinary sailors and soldiers are peasants or slaves. It is made up of the following components:
The Imperial Shipyards - Specially designated shipyards in Shiya and Andalsnes, focussed on the design and building of Arktik Galleons, and other Naval craft.
Arktik Galleons: The largest ships of the fleet, each a floating fortress rivalling the Edwinish Great Shyppes in size, however the unpredictable blizzards and strong winds of the Arctic means that these vessels must be built with exceptionally thick hulls, improving armouring, but slowing them down. It also limits the height of the masts, thus making Galleons also the slowest ships of the fleet.
Arktik Frigates: Ships designed not for war, necessarily, but to combat raiders and piracy in the Arctic waters. These ships travel with merchant convoys, and patrol the seas for illegal immigration, or criminals escaping the long arm of the NKO.
Arktik Specials: The Specials, as they are called, are usually magic-users, whom may be stationed on any Naval ship to perform 'special' tasks. These include diving, dealing with sea-monsters, dealing with airborne attacks, or attacks from under the water. This group are usually responsible for providing magical assistance during naval battles.
Imperial Marines: The soldiers stationed on Galleons and Frigates. These soldiers are used to the cramped and unhealthy conditions on these vessels, as well as being able to climb the rigging, and direct boarding and projectile-based attacks on enemy ships.
The New Keepers of Order
The New Keepers of Order, or the NKO, are the secret police of the Arctic Islands. These police deal with any criminal activity that the guards of a town are unable to deal with. This includes organised crime, foreign spies, domestic spies, anarchists, insurgents, and any other people deemed undesirable. They are also the Tsar's eyes and ears, able to act as spies watching any person the Tsar wants watched. This group only answers to the Tsar. They do not have a uniform, instead acting as normal citizens.
The NKO does not have a rank system. One can only join the NKO if one can prove one's loyalty, such as serving in the NEF, or if you are a trusted friend of the Tsar. Usually, NKO members hold other jobs, usually in the NEF. The only actual rank in this organisation is 'Keeper', which may be used as a password, or confirmation of the person's NKO status. It is also the only rank, to prevent eavesdroppers or spies from finding out which Keeper has more status, or is working on a more important case. NKO members have great power, able to break into, search, confiscate, arrest, or kill anyone to reach their goals. Of course, this power is moderated by the OIA, the Order Internal Affairs, a rather bland department which makes certain that its members are, and uncorrupted by bribery, or other such misdemeanours.
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