Monday, December 14, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Icefolk

Here is a bit on the Jotnar Tribe of humans in #Crux.  They and Ice Giants have formed a society dominated by space-bending, teleporting witches.  In Bor, they've clashed with Ursyklon and the neighboring Jarn.  But with their unique magic and culture, they've got a cultural solidarity few other Human tribes can match.

The Jotnar or the Icefolk of Bor
I locked the door behind me.  I returned back to my book.  At least some diversion from the day I'd
been having.  Sometimes the City of Curses asks for more than you have to spare.  

I sat down, got comfortable.  I opened Of Blood And Prudence back to where I'd left off.  I didn't get to have more than a moment with it.

An owl hooted.  I looked up to see a white owl with glowing blue eyes perched atop my bookshelf.

"City of curses!  Where the hell did you come from?"  I didn't have a window open.  Everything should've been locked.

"Rarl."  A familiar voice came from my bedroom door. 

"No."  I shook my head.  "How did you get in here?"

A woman with blue dreadlocks and white furs stepped out from my bedroom.  One eye was blue, the other red.  Her brown skin hid behind a veil.  It left only her eyes visible.  The image of a gaping blue maw had been painted over it.  Her left hand glowed with a unearthly light.

"Rarl."  She repeated.  "You didn't answer my question.  One does not test the patience of one of the Zinka.  Have you ever heard of the Spirewitches of the Jotnar?  Walls mean nothing to me."

"I... I..."  I found myself confessing long before she attempted to repeat the question.

Gaze Into The Abyss...

They say that when Jotnar children first gaze into the depths of the Fissure, it the outlook they have for the rest of their lives.  Jotnari children are sent to the Fissure as soon as they reach the age of ten.  The Fissure dates back to when the first Ice Spires arose in central Bor: it is a region of wild energies, ancient spirits and subtle power.

The children sometimes go mad.  Others run away as fast as they can.  Those who do not run and do not go mad, carry the aloof witchcraft that defines each day of their lives.  Those who live in the Fissure, those glowing fae call themselves House of Aeons bind to each Jotnari child.  Thus are born the Spire-Witches.

The Witch Queen and the Spire-Witches

The space-bending, cold magic of the Spires has long defined the Jotnari.  Although Icefolk can be found throughout Northern Ainesia as well as Bor, they as a people are united by their hereditary monarchy.  The practice of bringing children to the Fissure is only found in Bor proper.  Wealthy Icefolk families outside of Bor do pilgrimage to the Fissure, to expose their children to the rite all Jotnari consider central to their culture.

The Monarch of the Icefolk is the Ice Giantess known as the Witch Queen.  Her reign is one of the longest on Orphos.  The Ice Giants of Bor have long been formed the core of the Nobility of the Spires.  Their blood has long mixed with the Icefolk.  The Icefolk and the Ice Giants consider themselves to be one people, despite caste and other divisions.

The Witch Queen stays within the Spires.  She herself has always admitted one truth to outsiders: she cannot leave, so long as the Prince of Crux remains in his city.  She hates the Prince, upset at him for some ancient sleight.

The Witch Queen founded her Queendom around the Fissure centuries ago.  Until recently, she and her people were a independent power.  She has always been an isolationist.  She doesn't desire interactions with outsiders, so long as her Spires and their witches can remain unmolested.

The Ursyklon and the Spire-Witches.

The strong allegiances the Spire-Witches hold with the Fae have always put them against the Ursyklon.  During the Invasion, the Ice Giants and the Witch Queen steadfastly stood against them.  The Ursyklon took over Bor.  They allied with the Jarn.

The Witch Queen went into the Fissure.  Her fey and Ice Giant allies kept the Ursyklon from entering it.  For thousands of years she slumbered, until the House of Aeons helped her to retake their Spires.  The Icefolk remembered the Jarn's part in the invasion.

The Icefolk and Ironfolk's long feud over Bor continued for centuries.  In the last two centuries, Othebea has maintained control over Bor.  Knights of the Twins forced the two sides to enter into a tense peace.  The Witch Queen has kept this peace, working with the Othebeans.  But the Icefolk dislike the demands Othebea makes on them.

Spirewitches themselves specialize in a form of space-bending magic.  It's part of what makes the Spires what they are.  They aren't just rocks and ice, but edifices of space warped into shapes that serve their purposes.  A Spirewitch can stand in two places at once.  Or she could easily from one place to another in the blink of an eye.  Their familars carry the same tricks.  They don't use doors.  They just appear where they wish to be.

Naming Conventions

Icefolk first names have clear meanings, although they sometimes have alternate meanings within families.  Surnames are based on caste.  Having one of the titles pertaining to magic or witchcraft castes is considered the highest honor.

First Names: Anik, Luki, Aput, Kunik, Oki, Nasak, Ruk, Suqi, Taktuq, Ila
Caste Names: Zinka (Witches), Vazqa (Healers), Lunka (Singers), Onqa (Criminals), Kunka (Herders), Nasunka (Beggars), Aunika (Runners), Opuqa (Crafters), Sanka (Muckrakers), Inka (Warriors)

Example Icefolk Names: Aput Zinka, Oki Vazqa, Ila Onqa
Jotnar Culture Aspects: "Something Broke When I Gazed Into the Fissure"; Icefolk Survivor; Child of the Spires

Icefolk Castes

Ice Giants and Icefolk live in separate castes.  The greatest and most noble caste is the Zinka Caste.  It is the Caste of Witches, Wizards and other sorcerers.  All of the other castes are less regarded than the Zinka.

Zinka have legal authority in areas no other castes possess.  To promote magickal powers, they've long been allowed polygamy.  A Zinka can have as many wives or husbands as they deem fit among the Icefolk.  Outsiders like the Othebeans find the practice barbaric.  Other castes must seek permission from a Zinka before they can marry.  The same goes for the sale or ownership of property.

Outside Bor

Icefolk outside of Bor rely more heavily on Spirewitches.  Because the space-bending powers of the Zinka, Jotnar outside of Bor often have local association houses that let them go back home.

But a good deal are those who've been sent into exile.  Regardless of caste, some Jotnar commit crimes against the Zinka that force them to wander in foreign nations.  Even some Spirewitches.