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it is currently season 1, the year 1449 NE. The continent of Tnarem balances on a precarious edge between survival and destruction. Wars rage between nations, fractures open in the Mete. The world as the Tnaremi people know it is dying and they are left with a choice: act or perish with it.

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world
The Kingdom of Dubhion
the kingdom, the black


I
t can be argued that Dubhion has no culture of its own, that it has intermingled so heavily with the cultures that surround it that any culture it had developed itself was washed away long ago by the constant flux of trade and migration to, from, and through the region. Of course, while it is true that Dubhion has adopted many of the traditions of the regions around it, those regions have also been influenced by the cultural and economic powerhouse that is Dubhion. The central nation of Tnarem is a tumultuous area, often at war with one of its neighbors and not necessarily by any fault of its own. Proxy wars fought via Dubhion between Lornesse and Mercia are common, and the Black is always warding off the advancing borders of the same two nations.


As the breadbasket of Tnarem and despite its unparalleled trade of goods, it is a conservative nation ruled in equal parts by the nobility and general population. It has seen a decline in its power politically as it shifts slowly from a monarchy to a democracy, though recent years have seen an increase in military power, partially out of need and partially out of a regional shift toward a more fear-based view toward the foreign nations surrounding it.

Overall, the culture is one controlled by guilt, much like that of Ostia, though the harshness of the Reach does not persist in the Black. The Temple, however, remains a more conservative sister of the Temple in Mercia, mingling the two regional mores into a strange blend of northern and southern. Among such blend is also a mixed belief surrounding magic that has spring forth from the conflicting influences of Lornesse and Mercia. Ultimately, it is Mercia who has won, as the Augury and Carnifex are firmly cemented in the region and can even boast that they have the ear of the Ard Ri.

Views on the kingdom of dubhion

The views on Dubhion are complicated to say the least. Influenced by centuries of shifts in power and foreign culture, the Black possesses a reputation of fallen greatness and simultaneous necessity. The massive export of foodstuffs makes them a valuable ally, but the more population-centric approach to rule marks the region as no longer cultured--or at the very least as the nobility as such. The unlanded nature of the nobility only adds to this perception among foreign nobility, often earning the nobles of Dubhion the reputation of "glorified pig farmers." The region as a whole, however, is afforded a reputation of hard-working providers and devout Templars.


Social Class

Dubhion was built and is maintained on the backs of its common folk, a fact that resonates even in the ruling body. While it remains a kingdom, the non-nobility hold significant power, acting as a check to the monarch in all important decisions pertaining to the function of Dubhion. Still, the nobility exists, and they struggle to maintain their power in the region as it dwindles slowly with the growing bureaucracy.

Nobility

The nobility of Dubhion are a relic of its older governmental forms. They persist today, though they have considerably less power than the nobility of Lornesse--a fact of which they are envious. Still, despite the fact that they are no longer landed (the nation owning all land in Dubhion), they maintain considerable political and social power, inhabiting many bureaucratic roles throughout the region and the majority of the ministry positions.

Headed by the Ard Ri, the strange mixture of kingdom and republic that makes up the government of Dubhion provides the opportunity for many powerful state positions. Moreover, the ministry positions are appointed by the Ard Ri and usually filled with the nobility. These lesser nobles are known in the Black as leathes, or singularly, leath.

Gentry

The gentry class of the Black enjoys an environment conducive to production and trade, making traders, financiers, and farm owners among the wealthiest of the population--wealthier, even, than a good portion of the leathes, who's power is gained via title and not worth. This class is likely to hold some bureaucratic position, most likely on a city or state level, though the most powerful of this class is certainly able to hold positions on the ministry and national level.

Commoners

Most of Dubhion's population resides in its fields and in small towns and villages. The urban population of this region is the lowest of all the northern nations of Tnarem. These people, the common men and women, feed the whole of Dubhion and provide supplemental foodstuffs and farm-related goods to the rest of Tnarem, spanning all the way to the southern tip of Nis. It is not something the commoners of the Black forget, and a point of pride for them. Those of the population that do not tend to farms are traders, workers, guardsmen, and craftsmen, earning their income with no less dedication than the farmers of the region.
People

The people of Dubhion are almost as pale as their Lornesian neighbors, with angular features and short, medium builds neither too slim or too stocky. Shortest of all the people in Tnarem, men in Dubhion average only 5’6” to 5’10” while women generally reach heights of 5’2” to 5’5”. They are blessed with thick manes of glossy curls that bounce when they walk, though the ringlets loosen the closer one travels toward the west. Hair colors can range from fair blonde to brown, though they tend toward the darker hues, ranging in hue from mousy sable to dark chocolate. Auburn is also a prevalent color, though it is slightly less common. Their eyes are often deep grey, blue, or green, although hazel eyes can be found in the areas bordering Mercia.

Fashion

Like the lands of Dubhion itself, the fashions of its people are modest. The gowns are simple, and the colors of choice are muted. Garish jewel tones are considered too flashy even for court, and instead, earth tones and cool colors are preferred. The trim on Dubhionic finery is small, and usually, a design embroidered directly into the fabric itself. The sleeves are bell-shaped or close to the wrist depending on the season, and the area of Dubhion you find yourself in. Ribbon is used as a decoration around the upper sleeves to give a bunched appearance and a bit of contrast to the subdued colors. The doublets and trousers that men are usually seen in are just as simple as their female counterparts' choice of dress. Sleek cuts with little embellishment are preferred, with a doublet that contrasts to a usually brown or black pant and high boots crafted of durable leather rather than the slippers of other courts.


Despite the simplicity of their design, Dubhionic fashions emphasize quality and versatility. Even the nobles have comparatively few garments to people of other regions in Tnarem; instead, they create pieces that are easily mixed and matched. Underdresses can be paired with different vests and overskirts, and sleeve pieces are often tied with ribbon at the shoulders so that they can be changed out for different occasions.

As for hair, Dubhion greatly differs from Ostia. Young, unmarried women often allow their tresses to flow freely or half-up. Once they are married, however, it is appropriate for their hair to be put most of the way up. No matter the woman’s marital status, ornamentation is simple. Ebony combs or silver pins with pearls set on the end are popular examples. Men of all ages tend to keep their hair ear length or even shoulder-length in some cases, though balding men may choose to shave. There is no preference for clean-shaven faces, nor one for beards – either is fashionably acceptable.

Hygiene

Hygiene in Dubhion is centered most strongly around the concept of preventing disease using herbs and flowering plants said to ward off the plague. People in Dubhion bathe the most frequently of all the northern regions, in part because of easy access to the land’s numerous freshwater sources. As the months get colder, they do bathe a little less, though many people still believe that a brisk winter dip in the river improves one’s constitution.

For the nobility, bathwater is adorned by fresh or dried rose, lilac, and lavender petals, all flowers believed to prevent illness. Women of all social classes will also wear lavender sachets around their necks, both for fragrance and for protection against disease. Those who can afford it will wear these sachets inside gold or silver lockets, a very popular fashion in the Ebon King’s court.
Norms & Mores

Gender Roles

Less repressive than Ostia toward women, Dubhion still remains true to the culture retained during the conversion from Creatorianism to Templarism that separates the northern Temple from the southern Temple. Women are still viewed as subservient to men, very rarely permitted to hold political office, and cannot, under any save for the most extreme circumstances, own wealth or property. They remain the property of their family until marriage, at which point they become the property of their husband. Women in Dubhion are not protected by laws against marital abuse, however, the social stigma surrounding it is stronger than that of the Marks, evidence of Dubhion's heavy mingling with Mercia and Lornesse. Because of this difference, it is very uncommon for a Dubhionic man to physically harm his wife. In the event that an unwed woman is raped and the culprit found guilty, the family is owed payment equal to her dowry.

Women are absolutely held to a higher standard of chastity, expected to be entirely subservient to men with an emphasis on portraying themselves as agreeable and modest. Second only to Ostia, Dubhion is one of the most repressive cultures toward women in the entirety of Tnarem.

Equine Sports

No other region in Tnarem holds a greater love of equine sports than Dubhion. Horses are beloved by the leathes and Ard Ri’s house as symbols of status and wealth, and in many cases, a prized mount is treated with greater consideration than the servants who tend to him. The Ard Ri himself is the proud owner of a large stable of the finest horses in Dubhion, and arguably all of Tnarem. Most of the horses sired in the region are Dubhionic Warmbloods, perhaps the most sought-after horse breed on the continent, known for its durability and athleticism.

Equine sports are a common pastime of the Dubhionic elite, stemming from the invention of the joust in present-day Inshmor over three hundred years ago. In addition to the traditional joust, flat-racing has become a hugely popular public spectacle, where the fastest steeds and their riders are pitted against one another at the Inshmor Run, a massive racetrack located just outside of Dubhion’s capital city. Everyone from the Ard Ri to the lowliest peasant enjoys race day, though only those wealthy enough to foot the extensive bill it takes to prepare for the race will participate in the sport itself. Some leathes and nobility may choose to race their own horses, others will hire jockeys. Only men are allowed to participate in such events.

For the women, a gentler sport exists – the Mare’s Dance, as it is called. Extensive training goes into training the equines into producing intricate footwork and precise figures on command. Their riders sit side-saddle and are judged on the elegance of their “dance” and the seamless transition between commands. Such precision requires a great bond between horse and rider.

When a stallion is still in his prime, he is retired in order to be studded out to interested parties who wish for their mares to produce his offspring. The more successful the horse in the jousts and races, the more his owner can expect to be paid. Breeding is a lucrative method of securing extra income; those who do it intelligently can become rather wealthy indeed.
Religion & Superstition

Like Ostia, Dubhion retains some of the culture instilled in it when it was a Creatorian state. Now, however, it exists in a much more liberal atmosphere influenced by both Lornesse and Mercia. Still, religion is of the utmost importance, and there is no option but to be devout. It is like its Markish sister nation in that way: there is no such thing as a less-than-devout Dubhion citizen for to be so is to be less than worthy of the Kingdom. While Ostia holds tightly to many of the customs and beliefs established under the Church, Dubhion has let go of enough that it is more recognizable as Templar than Creatorian. However, to label them as traditionalists in the Temple would be disingenuous as the population of Dubhion's acceptance of various tenants of the Divine Temple varies wildly. The territories closest to Lornesse, for example, do not adhere so closely to the idea of magic being malicious, while those to western border closest to the Marks cling to their strict ideals of chastity and purity. The majority of the population falls within the middle ground of these three forces, leaving them moderate in most regards.

Read more about the Divine Temple here.

Magic

The influence of Mercia is unmistakable in Dubhion. The acceptance of the Carnifex and Augury, as well as the decision to outlaw the unsanctioned use of magic, tell of Mercia's winning influence and the erosion of Lornesse's. While the Vale and the Black remain trade partners and maintain open borders, a tension exists due to Dubhion's ever-hardening anti-magic stance. There remain pockets of northern and eastern Dubhion where the practice of magic is not so vilified, though they are shrinking. Particularly the cities bordering Lornesse are more tolerant or even accepting of magic, a point of contention that remains between them and Dubhion at large.

The Augury and Carnifex are largely welcome bodies in the region, heralded as heroes and protectors by the population and nobility. Those who are born awake or awaken at some point in their life usually go willingly to the Athenaeum, though it is not unheard of for a family to harbor a witch unknowingly due to that witch hiding his or her powers for fear of being taken from their home. Most consider service to either faction to be a great honor, and families will sometimes offer their sons to the Carnifex so that they may become Justicars in the famed group.

IMPORTANT: All witches in Dubhion must submit to the will of the Augury, meaning if your character is able to cast magic, they will have to incorporate the Augury into their story in some manner. You can read more about the Augury here.
Language

Dubhion is a melting pot of culture. Because of their position in the heartland of Tnarem, they find themselves interacting with Ostia, Lornesse, and Mercia in equal measures. Each region has left a distinct cultural mark on Dubhion, and this can be seen most heavily in their language. While their text is still Markish, High Markish is nearly never spoken save for by the elite. More common is Common Markish in central, northern, and western Dubhion, Common Lornesian in eastern Dubhion, and Common Mercian in southern Dubhion.

Script (Base) - High Markish (Common Celtic)
Spoken (Secondary) - Common Markish (English), Common Mercian (Italian), Common Lornesian (French)

IMPORTANT: Dubhionic characters have the choice of Common Mercian or Common Lornesian for their third language, however, all Dubhionic characters must choose High Markish and Common Markish as their other languages.

Names

A Dubhionic name consists of three parts: the given name, a middle name incorporating the mother's surname, and the surname. The mother's surname is often changed to suit the idea of a second given name rather than a surname, so the removal of the last few letters is common, often being replaced with -all for males and -na or -ia for women.


IE. Rovena Cavana Carmody
"Rovena" being the given name, "Cavana" being the feminized version of the mother's maiden name, Cavan, and "Carmody" being the surname.

The given name is chosen at the Nameday Ceremony and will often be the name of a Great Messenger, though such practices are far more common among the general public than the nobility. The nobility does not shy away from holy names, they have a set number of familial names that are usually also the names of Great Messengers that are passed down through generations. They do not often deviate from traditional names in favor of a new Great Messenger's names. Family lineages can be traced back through the development of Creatorianism and Templarism based on which names they have chosen as familial names.

Common Dubhionic Male Names - Alden, Beckett, Bradford, Braxton, Chadwick, Cordell, Edward, Edwin, Ford, Gibson, Greyson, Harlan, Kenelm, Kimball, Langston, Marshall, Millard, Ramsey, Royston, Sheldon, Thatcher, Westin, Westley, Winston

Common Dubhionic Female Names - Ainslie, Ashton, Bathilde, Corliss, Dana, Deana, Earline, Edita, Edwina, Edwine, Emerson, Ethel, Everleigh, Lilianna, Lillen, Marleigh, Mildred, Rohesia, Rovena, Sutton, Whitley

Bastards

In Dubhion, bastards are not afforded titles or special distinctions. They are generally frowned upon, so as much as possible is done to hide the fact that they are children born out of wedlock. If the father claims the child, it will have his surname. More often than not, the child will remain with the mother's family and be given to an older married couple who already has children. From there, it will adopt their surname and be raised as theirs instead of as the biological mother's.
Romance & Relationships

Sexuality

Sexuality in Dubhion is highly influenced by the teachings of the more conservative northern Temple. Sex is taught to be nothing but a means for reproduction, and that those who wish to be devout remain pure up until and throughout marriage. The vast majority of people in Dubhion remain true to their religion’s demands, and if indiscretions of this manner were discovered and publicly exposed, the reputations of both parties would be greatly damaged. This damage is complete pariahdom for women, regardless of whether or not she consented. She will be shunned by society, any existing marriages usually annulled, and she will often be permanently given in service to the Temple. For men, the social stigma is less ruinous – a slap on the wrist by comparison.

Same-sex relationships of any stripe are frowned upon heavily in Dubhion. They are not tolerated and are considered as grave an offense against the gods as bearing a child out of wedlock. In order to conduct a same-sex affair (or any affair) the participants must take great care to avoid being discovered.

Marriage

In line with Dubhionic views on sex, relationships are meant to procreate and to jointly worship the Four. Love and romance is not necessarily discouraged within a marriage, but public displays of affection are still considered unseemly. When political advancement is not being considered, Dubhionic people tend to choose their spouses based on how well they adhere to the Temple. A pious wife or husband is a good husband, and such morality is what the people of the Black strive for.

Consummation ceremonies are expected, in which elder women (usually the mothers of the bride and groom) from each of the uniting families test the bride’s virginity on her wedding night. If the bride is found without her virginity intact, the husband reserves his right to annul the marriage. If she is pure, the elder women then witness the first carnal act between the new husband and wife in order to ensure that consummation is complete.

Of all the nations, Dubhion has the lowest average age for marriage. Those ages being 16-18 for males and 14-16 for females. Those of higher social status will marry considerably earlier, on average, than those of lower social status. Arranged marriages are extremely common (to the point of being expected for nobility) in Dubhion, contributing to the lowest average age of marriage of all the nations.

pregnancy & childbirth

In Dubhion, there is only one acceptable way to have children – within a marriage. For a woman to conceive a child outside of wedlock is to condemn herself socially and religiously. Considered an irredeemable offense against the Four, conceiving a bastard in Dubhion has been the reason for many a young woman’s descent into shame and sisterhood. Before any other course of action is taken, a hasty marriage between the mother and father (if it can be) is arranged without the father's knowledge of the pregnancy in hopes that the child can be chalked up to a fortunate consummation. Such scenarios are ideal but rare. Abortifacients are not considered a viable option by most people in Dubhion because of the conservative tenor of the culture, and therefore many who find themselves with child out of wedlock will be sent away to live out the duration of their pregnancy.

Upon the birth of the child, the mother is sent home and the child is dealt with by either sending it to a distant relative to be kept in secret or, should the more unsavory route be taken, the child is culled. The mother will never have contact with her bastard child from birth forward, and the father will never be made aware of its existence if he was not already. In the scenario where the pregnancy becomes knowledge or the father is told, the father will sometimes take possession of the child (and the mother, should they both be unwed). The mother will never raise the child.

Divorce & Annulment

Annulment is seen as the singular acceptable, pious, and legal means of separating a marriage in Dubhion, and it is a very serious matter. It is a privilege only the husband may invoke; women are never allowed to request an annulment. Furthermore, the only reason the Temple will ever grant an annulment is if the husband can prove his wife’s infidelity. Dissatisfaction, barrenness, and even crime are not considered sanctioned reasons to dissolve the marriage; in most circumstances, married couples are stuck.

In the event that the Temple agrees to grant an annulment, the marriage is stricken from all records and the man is free to marry another, theoretically more virtuous woman. By nature of the annulment, however, the woman is morally and socially disgraced and any children born of the dissolved marriage may be considered bastards unless the father requests they remain legitimized. The woman is sent away, either back to her family in shame or to be cloistered in service to the Temple.

Love & Romance

Dubhion possesses a more clinical and pragmatic approach to marriage and love that is common in Lornesse or Mercia, though less so than in Ostia. As is promoted by the lingering Creatorian inclinations and the current northern Temple's teachings, the people of Dubhion do not often participate in the romanticized ideals of love practiced with lovers outside of marriage like is common in Lornesse, or the blatant pursuit of pleasure of Mercia. Muted love that is expressed via servitude, chastity, and purity are the ideals of Dubhionic love. To fall in love outside of marriage is a taboo affair and often causes great guilt for those involved, bringing into conflict emotions and morality. However, there is a distinct warmth promoted within the sanctity of Dubhionic marriage that Ostian marriages lack; friendship is encouraged, even if blatant and passionate romance is not.

When married, it is never appropriate for a couple to show feelings outside of friendship for one another. While they may indeed love one another, the outward appearance must always be one of platonic affection. Acts such as sharing a marital bed outside of sex, public professions of love, and large shows of public affection are all unacceptable. Unlike in Ostia, however, Dubhionic people do not look down upon small shows of kinship or affection toward spouses: a kiss on the back of a hand, a brush of fingers against a wrist, a stolen smile--these things are acceptable with a spouse. Affairs and any of the behavior above with anyone aside from a spouse are grounds for social banishment. Instead, lovers conduct their affairs in secrecy and often at arm's length in order to shield themselves from trouble, should it arise.