The Blazkul Hightribes are five different nations. From west to east these hightribes are the Firehorn, Blazewhip, Emberspike, Fireclaws and Flamewing Hightribe. Indeed, every Blazkul race has its own nation. With the Blazkul live the Blazlin, who have fewer rights than the Blazkul and serve them as warriors, farmers, crafters, scholars, and more. Yet the Blazlin aren't rebellious at all, because the Blazkul protect them, guide them, and are considered sacred in a way.
All hightribes inhabit the Searing Deserts. They are split into a northern and a southern half by a volcanic wasteland named the Sacred Lands, which is too hot and unstable to walk through. Hence it can only be crossed via flight or circumvented by using ships. Only the Firehorns and Flamewings are able to use the waterways to get around it, because only they have access to the oceans in the Northern and the Southern Searing Desert. The Blazewhips, Emberspikes, and Fireclaws have expanded beyond the desert in Threa's southern half; they've claimed large swaths of the Secret Sanctuary, a temperate, forested region. It can truly be considered a secret, because non-Blaz at most know of its existence from hearsay. The Blaz viciously keep any foreigner from entering their territory, usually by killing them. Speaking of foreigners, the hightribes border the Aezrikka Zule and thus the Aezkul Republic to the north. In the east, the Flamewings share a border with the Sokan Empire.
Overall, all hightribes have roughly the same culture and society, which is detailed on this page. Any differences between a hightribe and this general base are laid out on its own page. They all have the same form of government, too. Each hightribe is basically a federation of tribes. The highest political institution in each hightribe is a council of lords, at least during the more peaceful times.
While some of the Hightribes are the most technologically advanced civilizations, they're all warrior cultures, which revel in war and bloodshed. Conflict erases the weak and gives the strong the chance to become even stronger. The Blaz's affinity for strength goes so far that they even enforce artificial selection; they willingly cull the weak, so they don't waste the resources of the strong. Summed up, the Hightribes may be considered brutal and merciless in their ways, but they are not primitive.
The society of the Hightribes is very much based on the survival of the fittest and the glorification of the strong and useful. Strength is the primary trait the warrior culture of the Hightribes revolves around. This is shown by their hang for encouraging the death of the weak and reproduction of the strong. Many of their traditions and the eternal hostility between the five different species of Blazkul ensure that each generation has to be stronger than the last, otherwise their tribe or even their hightribe would be wiped out and forgotten. Mercy or pity are frowned upon and seen as weak. Destroying eggs and slaying hatchlings in order to prevent the reproduction of an enemy is seen as a means to an end, not a crime. A tribe even kills its own hatchlings if they are seen as frail and unfit. Any kind of disability and mistake in the bloodline is thus corrected right after hatching, in the eyes of the Blazkul.
Only the frailty that comes with age is exempt from being frowned upon. While the Blazkul hate weakness, they understand and accept that even the greatest warrior will have to submit to aging. Being able to live a long life means that the Blazkul must've accomplished a lot and have been a great warrior, because cowards are quickly chased off or killed. Hence elders are respected for their accomplishments, wisdom, and experiences, even though they require a lot of care from Blazlin or a helpful female Blazkul. They teach the next generations tricks and skills, and may act as an example to live by.
As implied, the Hightribes' society is very militant. Hatchlings are trained from a young age on how to become great warriors and how to defend themselves and their tribe. Both male and female Blazkul are trained. Yet only males take part in offensive actions; females are supposed to protect the clutch and their home in case of an attack. The training never stops either; continuously honing one's combat skills is seen as everyone's duty. This applies to the Blazlin as well, who eagerly take part in the warrior culture of the Blazkul. Hard, regular training and sparring sessions turn every single male Blazlin into a capable combatant, ready to serve their hightribe until death. Threa's best warriors come from the desert, because no other society focuses so much on selective reproduction and steeling their general population. Since the military training keeps the men from working on the fields or in their workshops now and then, the females often have to do a lot of physical labor to make up for the training males. This has granted them the respect of the Blazlin men, who see them as equals but unfit for combat. Summed up, for the people of the Hightribes, war is not simply a violent clash between factions; it is a way of life.
Blazkul and Blazlin live side by side, each benefiting the other. The Blazlin provide intricate crafts, their small, nimble hands, and their warrior service to the Blazkul, who in return offer protection, their sheer strength, and fast transportation. Not only do the Blazlin work as craftsmen or serve as warriors for the Hightribes, they also often offer services for the Blazkul. Blazlin cook food for the Blazkul, for example. The lin's lower place on the social ladder stems from the religious beliefs of the Blazkul and that they favor the large and strong over the small and weak. Despite their lesser status, the Blazlin are proud of being part of the mighty, kul-led Hightribes. They believe the Blazkul are chosen to rule and that it is an honor to serve them. Given that the Blazkul appreciate the Blazlin and treat them well overall, it doesn't usually happen that a Blazlin is unhappy with the order of things.
A group of Blazkul and Blazlin that identify as part of the same societal entity are known as a tribe. These tribes are minor factions within the hightribes and are pretty independent in most regards. Each tribe is led by a chieftain and how large its population is simply depends on how much the surrounding land gives. A tribe's internal relations are always tightly knit; Blaz communities are strong and hold together even in the most dire times. The tribe is a Blazkul's only family, as the concept of "parents" or "blood relatives" mean nothing to the collectivist kul, because of the way they grow up, as detailed in the "Lifetime" section. Blazkul are loyal to the bone and would rather die than disappoint or betray their people. However, despite the strong bonds between the members of a tribe, too long times of peace can easily lead to Blazkul fighting among themselves. The males are simply naturally aggressive. It's the females' job to ensure that the males do not end up hurting each other. They calm the aggressive males down when necessary and keep the peace within the community.
Despite being part of the same hightribe, tribes might bicker over food and territory. These conflicts often turn physical, especially between the towns and cities. They sometimes wage minor wars against each other over chunks of land or other matters. Violent skirmishes decide the winner and thus who earns the spoils and the glory. However, friendly relations exist as well; many tribes trade, communicate, celebrate the various holidays together, and their young kul even end up in mated couples with each other. How one minor tribe treats another of the same hightribe simply varies, depending on the kul involved and the deeds of the past. Some tribes have such deep feuds with each other that a wonder is required to heal it, while others have been trusted allies for centuries.
The Hightribes are in a constant state of conflict with each other. It can not be considered a state of constant, proper war, however, because there are no huge invasions or large scale battles. It's very rare that a single Blazkul grows powerful enough to lead a hightribe into a proper war as a warlord, unifying the minor tribes of his own hightribe to lead them against another. This has happened only two times in all of Blaz history so far, but it is likely to happen again in the future. In the meantime, smaller skirmishes and raids are common. They are a way for the Blazkul to prove themselves in battle, indulge their aggressive nature without disturbing the peace of their own tribe, and they ensure that the weak are culled, while the capable remain alive and become stronger. Foreigners are met with even more hatred; they're seen as weak and strange, unworthy of being in the sacred deserts. The Blazkul want to preserve their home for their own kind, so if a large outside force were to threaten the Searing Deserts then the Hightribes could even end up uniting against it, despite their internal strife.
Coming back to the society of the Hightribes. It is generally male-oriented, leading to them exclusively taking leadership roles in society. Blazkul females are needed for reproduction most of all and so are protected by the males rather than risked in battle, but they still learn how to fight like any male so that they may defend themselves, their clutch, and their home in a pitch. Despite the dominance of the male sex, female Blazkul still fulfill very important societal roles and are treated very well and with respect. No male would ever dare disrespect a female or disregard her opinion just because of her sex. However, they are seen as physically weaker, because it is simply a biological fact. The basis for the gender roles is the circumstance that males form the majority of the population. Due to the heat of the desert, more males than females are created. This applies to the Blazlin as well. Males exist in abundance and are thus expendable, unlike the more rare females. This also means that not all males will manage to get a male and thus a chance to reproduce, which leads to only the strongest and most impressive males spreading their genes.
When it comes to sexuality, Blazkul are certainly not prudes. However, copulating before becoming a full adult is forbidden, because males aren't supposed to produce offspring without having proven their worth by acquiring adulthood. A worthy male is simply more likely to produce hatchlings that will turn into worthy Blazkul themselves. Failures breed failures. Eggs of non-adults are destroyed and the parents lose all of their tribe's respect and are exiled from it. In order to prevent rapid overpopulation, it's a very common practice for a tribe to only actually reproduce when the chieftain permitted the tribe to. No tribe would ever put a complete stop to laying for over a decade, because every tribe intends to grow their number of members constantly. More warriors means more might. They would rather wage a war to acquire the land necessary to sustain the higher numbers than try to keep their population at a steady amount.
Courtship is usually initiated by the male and may begin prior to reaching adulthood. The male tries to impress the female of his desire with his strength, wit, and character, but rarely with gifts that only hold a material value. Females know that they are rare, so they can be quite picky when it comes to their partners. They are even raised to be picky, so unworthy males don't further their bloodline. In some cases a female may find a suitable male, have some fun with him, and call it a day. The Blazkul aren't prudes as mentioned before and being in a firm relationship isn't a requirement to be permitted to mate and reproduce, only adulthood is. However, Blazkul are rather possessive and if they end up falling in love with someone they're unlikely to share them, which leads to monogamous relationships being the norm. Yet death tends to commonly erase the male half of the couple, which means that it isn't uncommon that a female has multiple different partners throughout her life, even if she only sought permanent ones.
Finding a partner works very similarly for Blazlin, but they aren't bond by any obligations or laws of the tribe. The Blazkul care little what the Blazlin do in their bedrooms, as long as there are enough Blazlin to work the acres, run the smithies, and to use as warriors. Blazlin males are more common than females, which leads to the same consequences as it does with the Blazkul. Due to Blazlin raising their own children themselves, they have large, multiple generation households. Blazlin are not nearly as possessive as Blazkul are, but due to the fact that they have to raise their children on their own, monogamous relationships are the norm. It's difficult to tend to children without a permanent partner and helpful family members. Thanks to their helping hands, Blazlin couples are able and thus tend to have a lot of children.
Same sex couples are not tolerated by the Blaz, because everyone should try to produce offspring. Not seeking a partner to produce offspring with is seen as disgraceful. However, one consequence of the rarity of females is that not all males will end up attracting the affection of a female at all, not even temporarily. This has led to homosexual acts becoming a relatively common occurrence among males who could not find a female. These acts are tolerated, because it helps contain the aggressiveness of the males.
As a last point, Blazlin have learned how to tend to a variety of animals. Their livestock consists of poultry, cattle, and goats. Blazkul are carnivorous, so a lot of meat is required to keep them fed, which puts pressure on the Blazlin to produce a lot of it. As a result, large herds of livestock are a very common sight nearby any Blaz settlement. Apart from animals that produce milk, meat, leather, and similar products, the Blazlin also tamed a few beasts that have other uses. One of the most important animals the Hightribes have managed to utilize and breed in captivity are lizogs. These four legged, scaled, fast creatures make for great mounts, both for messengers and warriors. Lizog cavalry is deadly. Yet not all tamed animals need to serve a military or economical function; some Blazlin keep birds for their own amusement and because they're pretty.
Within a minor tribe, the most respected kul are those who are the greatest warriors and/or extraordinarily useful to the tribe. Raids, skirmishes, and war itself are the best ways to prove one's strength and prowess. However, that physical and mental strength are greatly appreciated does not mean that intelligence is disregarded. Wit and social skills are key parts of becoming a kul that is held in high regards. Dumb brutes may easily earn glory on the battlefield, but no tribe would ever allow them to get ahead and lead. Combine wit, charisma and strength and you have a Blazkul that is worthy of being a leading figure of his tribe and perhaps more. Wealth plays no role at all on the social ladder, since most necessities and land are shared among the tribe members and thus have nothing to do with the individual anymore. Apart from a ranking based on personal prestige and glory, there's no such thing as classes or castes. Priests have a special place on the ladder. Their devotion is well respected and they are seen as people one can talk to or seek advice from, despite their lack of combat experience.
Yet the most respected group of Blazkul are those who lead. Lords, the leaders of towns and cities, are the most prestigious Blazkul one can find. They have access to an entire region's wealth and fighters and possess the right to order the people of a province around. It requires great character and strength to become a lord, hence they are worthy of everyone's respect. Next are the chieftains, who have to provide the almost the same qualities, just in lesser amounts. They also don't need to have such a great eye for the bigger picture; they don't need to be grand strategists. Hence they're not as highly regarded as lords. Their prestige also heavily depends on the power of the tribe they rule. A chieftain of a strong tribe that belongs to an influential city is worthy of admiration, while the chieftain of a new, nomadic tribe isn't worth noting.
The Blazlin are set lower than the Blazkul, due to the fact that they're simply weaker and that they cannot withstand the heat of the Sacred Lands. To the Blazkul this clearly means they are not the descendants of the Great Flame. The Blazlin instead see themselves as the assistants of the Flame's creation, meant to fight alongside them and help them become ever greater, just like the Flame demands. Being seen as lesser has a few downsides. Blazlin cannot hold any government or high-ranking military positions, because only kul are seen as fit for those. However, they do have the same basic rights as any Blazkul; their personal items can't be taken away, neither can they be physically harmed without breaking the law. Rarely do the Blazkul intervene in the doings of the Blazlin, as long as the fields are tended to and their work gets done. Friendships can develop between Blazlin and Blazkul without a problem, however, it rarely happens simply due to the difference in attitude, lifestyle, and simply physical proportions. It's rough for Blazlin children to play with their Blazkul counterpart, as what would be a nudge to the latter could be a killing blow for the former.
The lowest step on the ladder is reserved for criminals and failures. Most commonly Blazkul exile them. Execution is seen as the easy way out for murderers and thieves. They should have to live with their deed, but they should have to do so far away from the tribe that cared for them, helped them, and supported them. Few things hurt a Blazkul or -lin more than knowing that their tribe disowned them. However, there's one crime that's always punished by death - treason. Those who betray their tribe and show that they do not care for it are killed, because exiling them would almost be like a reward to them.
Blazkul females do not raise their own children; they bring the eggs to their tribe's hatchling nursery right after laying them. One or multiple females handle the nurseries and the eggs and hatchlings in them. These females are usually in the prime of their life and not too old, so that they can properly play and interact with the hatchlings. They have to be kind but also stern and hand out punishment if needed. It's fine if the caretakers have eggs on their own, they will just mix them with the others so they don't know which are their own. The larger a tribe is, the more females are assigned to take care of the tribe's mixed clutch.
When hatched, a local priest closely inspects the fresh hatchlings. If no priest is present, the chieftain may do the honor. If a hatchling is obviously weak or a misfit, the hatchling is slain, as it won't make it to adulthood anyway and will just be a burden on the tribe until then. The hatchlings are not given a name, instead they're given a temporary alias based off of whatever distinguishes them from their clutch mates. These aliases can change with the personality and feats of the hatchling.
For the first half year of their lives, the hatchlings stay inside a hut known as the hatchling hut. It's necessary, because they're hatched coldblooded and can't withstand the freezing nights of the desert, but it's always warm in the hut. The so called "huthatchlings" play fight with each other and play with or kill whatever the adults bring them. Huthatchlings also see each other as siblings and refer to each other as hutsister or hutbrother. It is the first social bond they have and it is usually very strong. During this whole time, only the assigned caretakers tend to them. They're basically their substitute mothers, but they try their best to not create too strong bonds between themselves and the hatchlings. They aren't their biological parents, after all, and they don't want to create a bond that's stronger than their bond to their siblings or their tribe.
Once half a year is over, the hatchlings leave the hut together with their caretaker(s). They are shown the area they live in and introduced to the other members of the tribe. It's a good time to do so, since about now they begin to speak in short, often butchered, but yet somewhat understandable sentences. Thus it's important that they are around the tribe more and hear the others speak, so they pick up the language more easily. Now that their bodies are also capable of withstanding the freezing nights, they are allowed to sleep outside together with their caretakers. For the hatchlings it's a shock to experience such low temperatures; it makes them learn the value of the warmth the tribe offers and they'll huddle closely against their substitute mother. Play fighting under the desert sun, hunting rodents, birds, and small lizards, and helping the tribe by running errands take up most of the hatchlings' time. From now on the entire tribe is involved in tending to them and keeping them supervised.
Once they are about four years old, their energy is channeled into physical training and learning about the world. A warrior will train them and drill, not to teach them combat skills, but to strengthen their bodies and improve their endurance. Their caretakers take them on small treks into the wilderness to show them various animals and plants. After spending most of the day with exhausting playing and training, they listen to tales told by the elders of the tribe, so that they may learn about traditions, basic history, and similar topics. Another year later, they learn writing, reading, and simple math from their caretaker or whoever else volunteers. They will also meet their first Priest of the Flame and therefore are introduced to the Great Flame and the religion around it. During this time, they will help around the tribe with slightly more complex tasks, especially those that involve the lin because their paws are still small enough to help with intricate processes.
Beginning at six years old, the hatchlings - now called younglings - learn to hunt small game and how to fight properly. Since their wings now begin to work, flight training takes up a big share of their schedule. The amount of time it occupies becomes smaller the older and more skilled at flying they become. They are prepared for more important tasks, like providing the tribe with food and protection. Females also begin to learn how to care for hatchlings and may already assist with the coming generation. All younglings also receive a yellow painted amulet. This circular plate made out of stone has their Hightribe's symbol on its front and the name of their tribe on the back. It signals their status, as the yellow color represents a weak fire that is not yet mature. It is every Blazkul's most priced possession, because it marks them as a member of their tribe.
At twelve years of age, the younglings begin to form deeper social bonds with others and explore beyond their tribe's immediate borders. They also may now become apprentices of craftsmen, to gain some experience in various fields to figure out if they want to learn a trade later in life. The grand majority of males are content focusing on honing their warrior skills or helping out with simple labor. While females also have to help with manual labor, they often pick up a trade, much more often than males in fact, because they know they are not permitted to fight on the front lines. Despite the harder training, the younglings are not yet allowed to take part in raids nor are they allowed to fight offensively. During the later half of this phase, whoever decided to pick up a trade also tries to further themselves in their craft to become a journeyman. Sometimes younglings leave their tribe temporarily to become acquainted with other tribes, perhaps even find their future mate, or to just explore their Hightribe's territory. Often this is necessary for the members of small tribes to find a master of their craft, so that they may learn from them.
Once they hit nineteen, males are send on a dangerous quest after the next Day of Ascension - an important holiday that's celebrated at the end of each year. They are tasked with slaying a challenging foe on their own to prove themselves worthy of adulthood. They have until the next Day of Ascension to do it, so exactly one year. It does not matter where they go during this time, as long as they return successfully. Most commonly younglings of one hightribe fight those of another, simply because they happen to randomly meet nearby the edges of their hightribes' territories. However, some younglings leave the desert to find a worthy beast or opponent. While they're supposed to prove their worth on their own, they still may band together to form raiding parties to prove themselves rather than going on a solo venture. Groups of vicious, eager younglings are quite the trouble for the neighbors of the Blazkul. The greed for glory and the curiosity for the outside world can drive them far north, even into the territory of the Trezlin, and sometimes they bring Blazlin warriors on their backs who are looking for loot. Even if they band together, each youngling still has to kill a foe on their own, but their companions can help them find one. Of course good friends will sometimes break the traditions, help each other, and simply claim that each of them fought an opponent on their own. Sometimes adults join the parties of younglings and lead them, which makes such tricks harder. During war, younglings who are on their quest may join the armies in the hopes of dueling a kul successfully during a battle. Proof of the kill - such as skulls, bones, or bodies - must be brought back to the tribe, regardless of how it was done.
Females do not need to pass an initiation, but it's looked at very approvingly if they learn a profession (ex. priest, scholar, herbalist, crafter, etc.) instead of just doing physical labor. They also not seen as proper adults, when they are twenty, like the males do, but when they are able to bear young, which is usually possible at around eighteen years old. This means that males and females of the same clutch won't become adults at the same time. This makes it less likely that a female unknowingly bears the children of her brother, because the female will have plenty of time to consider finding a suitable partner from another clutch.
Once the younglings meet the criteria for their sex to reach adulthood, they take part in the Day of Ascension. Central part of the ritual is to hold their amulet into a fire to burn off the yellow paint and darken it with soot. Then they are considered adults. At the Day of Ascension, they also declare their new first name, which they may choose on their own. Some males/females allow a female/male who they already got close to prior to the Day of Ascension to pick their name. This is seen as an act of devotion, since a bit of their partner will always stick with them. Shortly after the ascension, their first name is etched into the back of their amulet, right above the name of their tribe.
Adult Blazkul are allowed to find a mate and found their own tribe or join another one, as long as it is part of their own hightribe. Another privilege the adults earn is the right to become acolytes of priests or priestess. The path of the acolytes is explained in the Religion section. Very rarely do Blazkul try to become scholars in an academic field, but they may pursue to do so as well. Apart from that, the adults simply live their lives, do their job, hone their combat skills, fight for their tribe, and loyally serve it until death. Most males die in combat sooner or later, only very few manage to reach a high age and die from it. They also tend to die at a rather young age. Few male Blazkul become more than a hundred years old. Those who do become that old are often revered leaders. Females tend to make it past a hundred years far more often.
A Blazlin hatches among their family and is raised by them, too. Weak or frail lin are slain after hatching, if the father of the children deems them unfit. It is seen as a disgrace to raise unworthy life, as it is just a burden to all. A chieftain might even intervene and forbid that a young lin continues to live, if the father wasn't strong enough to kill his own children. The rules of selection apply to the Blazlin as much as they do to the Blazkul.
It's the job of the entire family to help with the clutch. Both parents, grandparents, and available siblings help. The fact that Blazlin live in large households that contain multiple generations makes this much easier. After roughly half a year, the hatchlings begin to walk and explore the house of their family, supervised by their relatives. It takes about another year until they begin to use words to communicate. After a few more months, their parents will begin to properly familiarize them with their tribe. They play with the other young children and try their earnest to help with chores, because they are taught that laziness is one of the worst traits a Blazlin could have.
At six years of age, their first sparring sessions begin as well. They are taught their way around a spear and bow, laying the foundations for future training. They also go on field trips to learn how to camp in the wild, survive on their own, and learn a fair bit about nature. For the children these trips are often very enjoyable since they are far more entertaining than boring chores, but it also steels their bodies because camping in the desert is no easy task. Of course there's always enough adults with them to prevent that wild animals will slaughter the mostly defenseless children. Lessons in simple math, reading, and writing begin as well, taught by elders of the community, often females.
When they reach an appropriate age, usually around the age of twelve, they young Blazlin will begin learning a trade. Most will just learn how to tend to crops and animals, but some learn a profession, like smith or carpenter. At first they are just assistants to their teachers and masters, but the older they become, the more they are taught. Hunting is off-limits to Blazlin, because it is reserved for the Blazkul. They still hone their skill with the bow during many training sessions and archery is seen as a great way to pass time and is likely the most common hobby. Their military training continues. Now they are also taught how to stay in formation and fight together, support each other where possible and never falter in the face of the enemy.
At the age of sixteen, they are considered full adults. They can take a partner and have a family of their own. To feed their family and tribe, most Blazlin simply work as farmers. Those few who did become an apprentice, are now, if they performed well during their apprenticeship, considered journeymen. These journeymen can try to master their craft or try to seek a mentor to become a scholar of some form of academic field. Most tribes don't bother with universities or colleges; those who can be considered academics teach their students in their homes. The Emberspikes and Firehorns are more advanced than the other hightribes in these matters.
No matter what they choose to do with their life, their military service never ends. Weekly drills and training sessions keep them in shape and ensure that they remain capable warriors. Every adult Blazlin, just like the adult Blazkul, are expected to pick up arms and serve their tribe when ordered to do so. This duty ends only once the Blazlin in question has become too old to fight or suffered a wound that handicaps them too much. In more peaceful times, the Blazlin tend to die in their beds. In times of war, the males very commonly die on the fields and the females die in their homes, cut down by the winner to be replaced with his own population. Most don't live beyond sixty years of age, simply because the times are hard and diseases often incurable.
- deity - deity origin (can be combined with creation story) - arch enemy of the deity - arch enemy origins - rules of the religion - priests, speakers, etc - ways to praise (Rituals, etc) - religious buildings (mention them, but they will be described under architecture) - religious orders - how to become a priest, etc
The Blazkul and Blazlin believe in an entity known as the Great Flame, which is one of the four elements: Fire, Water, Wind, and Rock. All four of them are part of Threa, but the Flame forged the world by melting Rock and letting it flow like a fluid, only to for it be made solid again by Water and Wind. It continues to create even nowadays, which is evident in volcanoes expelling lava into the oceans, which turns into rock and forms islands. In the eyes of Its followers, the Great Flame is part of everything and exists within everyone. It is heat itself. However, it burns the brightest within the Sacred Lands and every Blazkul, thus giving them their fiery breath. Despite the belief that the Flame created both the Blazkul and the Blazlin, the Blazkul see themselves as the only chosen descendants of the Flame, because they are the only ones who are resistant to the extremely high temperatures of the Sacred Lands and are thus also the only ones capable of treading on it. This has them believe that they must have been forged in fire themselves, while the other life on Threa has in most cases been created by other entities, perhaps the Wind like the Aezkul believe. It matters not to Blazkul which element created what. The sun was also brought by the Flame to offer permanent warmth to all creatures on Threa, so they do not die in the permanent frost that would come over the world without it. According to the Blazkuls' beliefs, nights only exist to make the creatures of Threa remember how cold it would be without the fiery gift the Great Flame put into the sky. The Flame also stands for the bonfire around which a community gathers; something that unites all Blazkul that praise it and follow it, despite their military conflicts. To deny the Great Flame means to deny strength as well as insulting the Blazkul way of life.
In contrast to other religions, the Flame did not set up many exact rules for the Blazkul to live by. It does demand that its only chosen creation remains strong, and thus calls for them to be the militant society that they are. They have to remain strong in order to defend the Searing Deserts, the home the Flame granted its descendants - their paradise on Threa -, and the Sacred Lands, the home of the Flame itself. No non-Blazkul or non-Blazlin shall ever tread on the black stone or even the sands, no foreigner shall ever exploit the land meant to be used by Blazkul and Blazlin only. Strength through struggle is the way of the Flame. Weakness has to be eradicated wherever it is met, so there's more left for the strong to thrive on. It causes the hightribes to see themselves in a constant competition with each other; every hightribe wants to be strongest one of them all in order to fulfill the Flame's will. It spurns on conflict and violent fights, as displaying great warrior skill and slaying one's foes is the best way to praise the Flame and thank it for the paradise it brought the Blazkul. Only if the blood of its people flows across gory battlefields can the Flame be satisfied.
It is the priests and priestesses of the Great Flame that make sure Its will is done. Priests want that the hightribes remain strong - all of them. For the priests it is important to continue the struggle between the hightribes, so that there are always enough conflicts to weed out the weak and for the strong to prove themselves in. It is thus preferred to keep a certain balance of power among the hightribes and not allow that one hightribe is ruled over or wiped out by another. This usually conflicts with the worldly goals of some of the lords, who want their hightribe to dominate the desert and wipe out any traces of the other hightribes. Arguments between priests and lords can happen. It is often hard for the priests to try and convince an overeager warlord that pursuing peace with the defeated nation instead of attempting to utterly destroy them is what the Flame really wants. Purity among hightribes is also aspired by the priests, so they disapprove of hybrids and having Blazkul of one race live in the hightribe of another. On the contrary, priests are allowed to take mates, even if they are of another race. However, they do not intend to be hypocrites, so they send the hatchlings to the hightribe they belong to, so that they are raised by an appropriate tribe there, or they swear to raise them as their own acolytes. The latter options also means that the priests sometimes raise their own children. If a Blazkul has troubles and needs someone to speak, the priests gladly offer their ears and advice, gladly giving spiritual support for their brethren in need. Of course they also arrange rituals, such as offerings to the Flame, and ceremonies, such as the Day of Ascension, and guide their followers through them. They are also charged with taking care of the temples, the fire within. In short, the priests are responsible for keeping the hightribes on the right path, to prevent that they mingle and weaken.
To praise the Flame in a more peaceful fashion, many Blazkul pray to the Great Flame in temples, which are usually located in every town. Prayer takes the form of laying down in front of the bonfire within these temples and meditating. They hope to acquire the blessing of the Flame that way, which is considered to be high endurance, no matter the odds. It is also helpful for clearing one's mind, because the temples are very quiet places, and the priests offer advice to those who require it. Spilling the blood of a believing Blazkul inside a temple is considered a horrible crime, even an act of heresy, as the temples represent ground where the Flame shall be praised with sacrifice and quiet mediation, while only on the battlefield shall it be praised with bloodshed. They thus also offer places of refugee for priests and their families, should the town their temple is placed in come under attack. Other Blazkul may not seek shelter there, as this is considered cowardice and the priests will force cowards out of their temples as proper Blazkul do not cower in fear in the face of death. If hightribes hold diplomatic talks, they usually do it within a temple outside of a city or in the Sacred Lands, because both sides can be sure that the other will not ambush them. The entire Sacred Lands are affected by the ban on violence against believing Blazkul as well, as it is basically seen as one huge holy ground. Of course the heretical Flamestealers are exempt from this and should be slain if they dare to set their paws on the holy ground.
As stated, the Blazkul may sacrifice things to the Great Flame in hopes of receiving its blessing. Common sacrifices are the hearts of strong opponents or the bones of a tough catch. After field battles, priests often have their assistants - servants and acolytes - cut out all the hearts of the enemy kul and sacrifice them in a large bonfire to underline the victory and pay their respect to the enemy fighters. Before the battle, the priests tend to encourage the warriors to fight viciously, brutally, and with utmost vigor, but they themselves retreat behind the lines during the fighting. A priest may not fight unless absolutely necessary, so they can follow their duty of encouraging the others to do so. Every army of the Blazkul usually has a priest who sticks along with them, to ensure that they behave like proper Blazkul even in wartime. In some hightribes, they even lead some of the pre-battle rituals. However, it is more common that the various commanders within the army do this.
In order to become a priest or priestess, a Blazkul has to give up their affiliation to their hightribe. A freshly accepted acolyte hands out their adulthood amulet, has it shattered by their mentor, and tossed into a stream in the Sacred Lands to signal the break with their tribe and start of their path to priesthood. They receive a new amulet, which displays a flame instead of their former hightribe's own symbol. Also, their name is etched into the back of the amulet. An acolyte's amulet is covered in orange paint, to show that they are not yet a full priest. After twenty years of traveling around the entire desert at the side of their mentor and intense study of the history of the Blazkul, an acolyte may become a priest if they have done their duties well. Should they be deemed unworthy of their position by their mentor, then their amulet is taken from them. Then they have to return to their tribe to ask for forgiveness and be adopted by them once more or be exiled. It is a risky undertaking to become a priest thus, as there's a chance the tribe won't accept their member that has been gone for twenty years back. Females rarely have to fear being turned down, given that they are rarer and thus less expendable than males.
After having their paint burned off their amulet during the annual meeting of priests in summer, which takes place in the Great Temple of th Flame in Victor's Home, they are considered a full priest. Now they are allowed to freely move throughout all of Blazkul territory, even without their mentor. Usually priests still remain in the lands of their own hightribe to fulfill their role in society there. Some enjoy to travel to the other hightribes, however, to make friends there and explore the desert in its entirety. Within the Sacred Lands, the priests must work in rotation much like elsewhere. The priests make sure that a certain morale standard is kept within a tribe, as well as keeping the community together around the warming fire that is the Great Flame. A very important task of the priests is to keep the tribes healthy; they have to inspect each newly hatched clutch of hatchlings and decide which one is worthy of living. They also judge the kills the younglings bring home.
Although Blazlin can't become priests, many become their servants instead. These servants also wear robes with hoods, which makes it hard to identify them and keep them apart. They refer to their priest or priestess with the words "master" or "mistress" respectively. Often they are well trained warriors, ready to defend their master or mistress at any time. Usually they have a steel sword sheathed at their hip, concealed by the rope. While the sword isn't any longer than the usual swords of the Blazlin, it has a longer grip, allowing the user to wield it with two hands. The servants never have shields with them, so their second hand is usually free and thus better used putting more strength into their strikes. Protecting the priest or priestess they follow is one of their most important task, but one they rarely have to actively do. For the most part they take care of the well-being of the priests and assist them in their chores, for example by burning incense to calm the minds of those meditating in the temple.
When a Blazkul dies, their earthly remains are incinerated. Before putting them on the funeral pyre, their tribe amulet is taken off and handed to their mate or at least their hutsiblings - or anyone else who cares for them. If they were a great warrior, their heart is cut out and sacrificed, preferably by burning it in a temple's bonfire, or otherwise in a fire made sacred by a priest. While the corpse burns, the achievements of the deceased Blazkul are listed and spoken about, by the priest as well as by the tribe members and other friends they one might have had. It is rare for a singular Blazkul to receive their own ceremony if multiple died that day. After a battle, when many have fallen, they just burn them all together. They shall be united in death as they were in life. One ceremony then counts for them all. During said ceremony their deeds are remembered, but rarely do they mention the individual achievements except they were very special. This practice of honoring individual deaths with with an individual ceremony and mass death with a mass ceremony makes, during which only special individual feats are mentioned, makes more sense when it is put into perspective. If a single Blazkul dies, it is usually of old age. Old Blazkul are very likely to have achieved something in life that is worth noting anyway, so arranging an individual ceremony is worth it. If multiple Blazkul die at once, it is likely that this is because of a battle, and during battle it is often the young and inexperienced that die first. Rarely have they already completed deeds worthy of the tribe's individual praise, so it is better to sum them up with the rest of the valiant fallen and only mention the truly worthy fighters among them individually.
When a lin dies, their body is simply burned as well. During the cremation of the corpse only the family and friends, including Blazkul, are present, not the whole tribe. The Blazkul present give the family the honor of burning the body with their own fire breath. Members of the family, usually the partner, talk about how the dead led their life and remind of their good deeds - it inspires the next generation to follow their example. If masses of lin die, like during a battle, then they are just stacked on top of each other and burned all together. Sometimes the corpses, even those of allied Blazlin, are devoured by the Blazkul, simply because food rations can be tight on a march through the desert, so the extra meals are appreciated. During the mass incinerations an available priest will say some words about the Blazlin that fell, how their sacrificed protected others or made reaching a goal possible, and that the Flame will certainly allow them to gather around its bonfire. Even the Blazkul know how important the Blazlin are and so do treat their deaths as tragedies, especially when many perish at once.
Blazkul believe that when they die their internal fire consumes them, turning them into a spirit of the Flame. Now they may join together at a bonfire of the Great Flame together with all the other honorable fallen and live in bliss. They are also free of any national affiliation and are joined together with all Blazkul. Blazkul who die as cowards or misfits simply extinguish and are trapped in a permanent void. Blazlin believe, and priests reinforce this, that they may be also become a spirit if they lived a life of hard work or die as a glorious warriors on the field of battle. Being a spirit is supposed to be an experience where pain no longer exists and the comforting heat of the Flame may be experienced thoroughly.
This day takes place on the last day of the year, during mating season. The young females experience their first heat and are thus considered full adults, while the males that managed to prove their worth celebrate their ascension into adulthood. On the day itself, a big ceremony followed by an even larger celebration takes place. The ceremony is being held by the tribe's elder, who holds a speech and presents the younglings, and a priest of the Flame, who officially makes the younglings adults by burning the paint off their amulets and letting them choose their own name. Should multiple tribes do the ceremony together, all the tribe elders will be present and each handles the ceremony for their own younglings. The younglings themselves get to show off their proof to the rest of the tribe before receiving their pendant and declaring their name. Every tribe does the ceremony a bit different, but the mentioned acts are the core of every ceremony.
In the evening, the celebration begins. They celebrate the Ascension into Adulthood as well as the passing year. It starts with food and drinks being served while the elders speak of the passing year, sum it up, laugh and smile over good times and show respect to the ones that fell for the tribe. Blazkul who do not manage to ascend are basically forgotten; they are either dead or exiled, after all. In the night, the fresh adults start showing off their proofs again and tell the story around it, trying to impress the newly adult females, especially the ones they already set their eyes own during their last few youngling years. Wine and other alcoholic beverages, especially spirits made out of cacti, are served as well, loosening up the mood between the eager new adults. They were not allowed to mate before this point after all, so they are all too willing to finally be able to be with the female kul of their dreams. This becomes most obvious when they start to dance. Females rub themselves along males, or even show off a bit, trying to allure them. This is officially forbidden and the dancing all happens under the watchful eyes of the elders, but they cannot be everywhere at once. The inappropriate behavior is not uncommon, but in order to make their bond full, the couples usually fly away from the feast to be somewhere alone. This means that at the next morning, when the celebrations die down, only lone males and females are left.
The morning after the celebrations the elders send out the next generation of younglings on their own initiation quest. Just the night before they saw the perks of being an adult and how much respect and honor it brings to be successful, making them all very eager to bring back the biggest, most impressive kill. It also means they see what they miss out on should they die. Dying a virgin and a failure is a pretty tragic end to a life.
The different Hightribes have various days on which they remember great victories, think about their fallen, etc. If any of them are of any importance, they will be mentioned on the respective Hightribe's page.
- symbols of the civilization - art - literature - music - dancing - clothes - jewelry - body paint - cuisine
Although their warrior society appears very rough, there are many writers and artists among the the Blazlin. Making things out of precious metals and gems or smithing beautiful armor is seen as an art in itself, but the writers, sculptors and painters are needed to keep records and images of historical moments like great battles, or achievements. Artworks of great battles are usually displayed within the palaces of the lords or within other buildings of great importance. Great monuments, like statues or memorial sites, are often constructed to remind the current generations of the glory of the past. This is supposed to encourage the young to follow the example of the old and become as great or even greater than the ones who came before them.
While art in many different forms isn't uncommon, the Blazkul and Blazlin are not the most fashionable, but they do use jewelry and body paint in order to impress or for cultural purposes. How common the usage of either of the two is depends on the hightribe; not all of them like to wear body paint or think that jewelry is a nice thing to wear. Clothing for kul is non-existent, except for the priests and priestesses, who wear it for ritual purposes. One item every Blazkul who belongs to a hightribe possesses is an amulet of their hightribe. Without this amulet, the Desert Sentries won't let them reenter the desert, except a Blazkul with an amulet vouches for them. Usually it is just a smooth, flat stone plate that is engraved with the owners name and the symbol of their hightribe. Wealthy Blazkul like to have these amulets decorated with precious metals; they might frame it with gold or silver for example. Many even integrate sockets into their armor where they can safely display their amulets. Blazlin tend to wear simple tunics or other clothing made out of plant fiber, wool or leather. Wearing jewelry is a rarity among them, because they can only acquire it through looting and pillaging. Blazlin also do not have a hightribe amulet.
Despite appearing to be rather stern and strict, Blazkul can actually be very festive. Good harvest, victories, or the successful hunt of a great beast can be the cause of a feast with food and drinks. It raises the mood of the tribe, calms the hot headed males, and strengthens the community. A good celebration requires music, but the Blazkul aren't all that musical. The Blazlin gladly make up for it by playing flutes, drums, various string instruments, and chimes. Any musical talent the Blazkul lack, the Blazlin can easily make up for. The music of the Hightribes tends to be exclusively instrumental and at most supported by chanting. Blazkul and Blazlin dance along with the music. The dances tend to involve at least a partner, sometimes even a whole group. This further brings the community together. With a good dance, either on the ground or more rarely aerial, a male can show off his body and his control of it to potential partners.
All five Hightribes speak the shared tongue of the Blazkul, but each of them has their own dialect. This language formed within the Blazlin tribes first, but the Blazkul who joined them took it over quick enough and mixed it with their own language. The language of the desert dwellers sounds very gruff and when speaking Blazkul tend to have a growly undertone, which the Blazlin lack. The language itself is rather fluid and features complex grammar rules, but the vocabulary is rather simple. The written language comes from the standardized form used by the Aezkul, but has been altered to the point that Aezkul will have trouble deciphering it without some experience, and is written simply into the sand or on leather, pieces of wood or more rarely papyrus.
Proper adults have a specific pattern to their naming - [First Name] [Minor Tribe Name] [Hightribe Name]. The first name is given by themselves once they pass adult initiation. Most common consonants in names are k, z, t and the r, making names often sound rather harsh. Females tend to receive softer sounding names that use a's more than other vowels. The minor tribe is a subset of the Hightribe they are born into and is their equivalent of a family name. The last name refers to one of the five Hightribes that the Blazkul live under. Often old Blazkul also earn a title, like "The Extinguisher" or one that sounds like a second surname like "Sharpclaw" or "Fangbreaker". Some younger kul like to keep their hatchling alias in their name, until they can replace it with something else. Blazlin have a first name, too, given to them when they hatch by their parents. Their name follows the same scheme though, ex. "Korguk Trek Emberspike". Rarely, renowned Blazlin warriors will earn themselves a title, too.
The Blazkul and -lin live under a hierarchical, tribal, council-based system of government. At the very bottom of the political ladder are the chieftains. They lead individual tribes and call the shots within their tribe until they die or become unfit for leadership due to a change in personality, old age, illness, or similar. Technically, the chieftain has undisputed power over his tribe, but it simply is not a wise to go against the wishes of the tribe members. It can quickly lead to being replaced, sometimes forcefully. They are also the judge of the tribe and oversee all law-based issues. In nomadic tribes, they are expected to know where the best places to stay temporarily are and eventually find a place to settle, as being a nomadic tribe is supposed to just be a temporary endeavor. Chieftain are also expected to lead in fights. How chieftains are picked varies from tribe to tribe, but in most cases they are either elected or the position is acquired by beating the current chieftain in a duel. The latter is more common in the more savage cultures, like that of the Fireclaws. If an election is held to determine who is the next chieftain, then every adult is allowed to take part. Handing the title down to their own offspring is impossible, since they are not even aware who their own offspring exactly is. As males are the primary warriors of the tribe and thus the best combatants, it is the norm that leadership positions are taken over by them. Female chieftains are not forbidden, but a true rarity as females are not as fierce, strong or large as males are.
When three tribes join together to create an official town, the jobs of the three individual chieftains change. Now they, as a council, rule over the entire population of the town's region under their shared influence together instead of as individual leaders. The chieftains elect someone to be the town's lord, whose word stands above their own when decisions are made. A lord can never be also be a chieftain at the same time, meaning that the three chieftains can't elect themselves, but have to pick another member of their tribes. The chieftains still take care of their own tribe's internal issues, like disputes between tribe members, but no longer have undisputed power over its resources and manpower. The lord on the other hand is expected to deal with foreign relations in particular and will lead the town's forces into battle if one were to happen. He is overall superior to the chieftains and can assign each of them specific tasks and positions, if he does not wish to handle them all himself. For example, Chieftain A could be appointed to focus on the raising and gathering of food while Chieftain B focuses on being a judge. These jobs apply to the entire community instead of just the individual tribes. The chieftains can forward their responsibilities to kul in their own tribe, if approved by the lord. This causes a large hierarchy of passed-on responsibilities that can often become complex. Sometimes titles are invented to help clarify a Blazkul's position. A chieftain could be considered the local "Master of the Mine" for instance, if he has to watch over the ore gathering branch of the town's economy.
If a town acquires six tribes instead of three, they are considered a city. This is possible by either splitting all three tribes in two new ones each, which still have to be appropriately sized, or by letting three more tribes of the immediate area join their chieftain council. It is not possible to have 3 to 6 chieftains in the provincial councils, only either 3 or 6. This community with six tribes will have two lords, one for each highdistrict, that must work together. A highdistrict is made up of three entire tribes. The capital cities are special cities because they have four highdistricts, thus four lords. The lords of the capital are the most powerful Blazkul within a Hightribe. They have three of the mightiest tribes under their control and thus are able of dominating many of the smaller tribes. Some like to refer to them as High Lords, but that is not the official name, because every lord is supposed to have equal say. In practice this usually not the case. A tribe can earn a spot in a capital or city by being large in numbers and thus powerful, of course such a spot has to be freed up first. Sometimes a tribe becomes so weak and insignificant that the other tribes of a city or capital kick them out and instead invite another tribe to take their place or split themselves in half to fill that position with their own kul. Every tribe always aims to have their own splinter tribes in such positions, as the relations to them are usually tight and thus they together can influence decisions of the council to be in their favor.
All of a hightribe's lords make up what is known as the High Council. This council rules over the entire Hightribe and has a large amount of power overall, which is used surprisingly rarely. Cities are very self-sustaining and any issues between two of them are generally solved between themselves. Only when disputes threaten the entire Hightribe will the High Council step in. The High Council also has the responsibility of dealing with foreign relations and diplomacy. The High Council meets at least twice a year. The location of these meetings alternates between the two capitals, since one is placed in the northern half and the other in the southern half of the desert. With each lord added to the council, the power of each lord becomes diluted. This hits the lords of the capital the most, as multiple town and city lords can easily outvote them. It can be hard to official acquire the right to have a lord for a town. Often the current lords will try to prevent by stating that the tribe isn't strong enough yet to have that privilege. Minor wars, intrigues, favors and other scheming can help in these situations. Sometimes an aspiring town simply needs backing from another town or city to acquire lordship, in turn they have to back them in the future.
The High Council rules the entire Hightribe most of the time with no direct leader above them, however, it is possible that a Blazkul is chosen by the High Council who is superior them. This kul is known as the warlord. The name comes from the fact that this position is filled only during times of war or a similar crisis. A warlord is basically a dictator and has undisputed power over the entire hightribe - its resources, its kul, etc. Even if complaints are voiced by their inferiors, a warlord's orders are always taken and never refused. The hightribe basically unites into one being rather than a squabbling bunch of tribes. This is necessary in order to fight any sort of bigger conflict and prevent defeat. A warlord can be elected from any Blazkul of the hightribe seen as capable of leading the entire hightribe to victory. Most commonly one of the High Lords is elected for this position, because they are usually the most competent Blazkul. Once the war is over, the warlord is supposed to step down. If it was won, it's possible for the Warlord to keep the position for a few more years, legitimated by bringing victory and thus glory to the Hightribe. If the war is lost, the warlord must step down immediately. If they do not, they lose all of their honor and are considered an even bigger disgrace than they are anyway. These defeated warlords are seen as such a disappointment to their species that they occasionally end up being assassinated by the bitter losers of their own tribe. If a warlord clings to their state of power for too long, no matter if the war was lost or won, it may cause a civil war.
Tribes can be founded by any mated pair, but it is an uncommon occurrence that new ones are created. Merging tribes or splitting an existing one in two happens more commonly. It's simply tough for a new tribe to establish itself. The first phase in its life is nomadic and it's the chieftain's spot to find a good spot to settle down permanently. Either the tribe finds an unclaimed territory, settles down near another community after receiving permission to do so, or they just fight another tribe to take over their land. Sometimes they even just assimilate another tribe by forcing its members to join their own or they might give up and just merge with an already established one. After they found a suitable piece of land and managed to claim it somehow, they settle down and build a small village, which is naught but a hamlet at first. Soon enough it will grow to be a proper village over time and engage in friendly or not-so-friendly relations with its neighboring tribes.
Once a province becomes populated by enough tribes, its inhabitants may decide to found a town. Each town serves as a center of trade and as a strategically important bastion. At least three independent tribes have to band together and the respective hightribe's high council has to permit the founding of an official town. Once the permission to found a town has been granted, the mightiest of the three founder tribes will be granted the honor to declare their village a town and appoint its first lord. This honor is bestowed upon them by the high council itself. Only lords have a say in the high council, so by founding a town the three founder tribes gain a way to influence this mighty political institutions. While the two tribes whose homes didn't become the town will continue to live in their own village, they also send a chunk of their population to live in the town to gain a foothold in it. Every town has a council of chieftains, but only the three strongest tribes of a province may take part in it, no matter how many tribes live in the province.
Further population growth and the arrival or founding of more tribes can lead to the town fulfilling the requirements to ascend to a city. Cities are truly massive, well fortified, wealthy hubs of power. In order to officially acquire this prestigious status, six independent tribes of moderate size are required and the high council has to give its permission again. Sometimes the three existing tribes just split, or they allow three neighboring tribes to become a part of the town's ruling elite to reach the necessary amount of tribes. A city has two lords, meaning it has twice the say in the high council than a town. Basically, the larger and more populated a region grows the more Blazkul will be involved in ruling it and deciding its fate, but the more influence they have on their hightribe as a whole. More about this intricate ruling system of the Hightribes can be found in the Government section.
Notable tribes, that have been mentioned in the history of Threa or the stories placed in it, are mentioned on the page of the hightribe they belong to.
The hightribes do not possess a military, they are a giant military. Every single Blazkul and Blazlin is trained to be a warrior from a a young age on. Obligatory weekly drills and training make sure that the adult population always stays in shape, even after they finished their initial training phase. Because conflict between the tribes even of the same hightribe are a common thing, they have to make sure that every single able-bodied kul and lin is ready to defend their home. In the event of an actual war, a hightribe could easily field an impressive army of Blazkul and -lin, thanks to mentioned training. Most hightribes do not have something like a professional officer corp, but veterans teach the best warriors how to lead in case officers are needed for an actual war at least. Only males may serve in the military, but Blazkul females are trained as well as the males, so that they may defend their home and clutch. Some Blazlin females pick up archery and sparring as a hobby, but they rarely have time to because they've to tend to the fields and work while the males learn how to fight.
War is an essential part of Blaz society and culture. The greatest most prestigious persons are war heroes. As hinted at above, many originally military activities like throwing spears or archery turned into free time activities for the Blazlin. Some even hold competitions to show off and prove their worth. Every warrior tries to achieve perfection with their weapons and earn great glory on the field of battle. Military service is not just a duty, it is a way of life for the people of the desert. Yet professional soldiering is not a thing. Every tribe member is simply expected to pick up arms and fight when ordered to do so. It is seen as a natural thing for their kind. Warriors are not paid anything, but they are allowed to claim a share of the loot after a battle or siege. For Blazkul the best way to obtain personal property is to forcefully take the belongings of another tribe.
If a tribe wants to take something from another tribe or from a nation outside the desert, they use their adult male kul to form raiding parties and just take it by force. Tactics are rather bare bones in such small skirmishes. Individual skill and numbers win the fights. On those raids, lin are brought along on the backs of the kul, so that they can assist in fighting the enemies and quickly snatch all the loot they can before their adult males retreat. Such hit and run tactics done by nomadic tribes against villages and even towns are not uncommon. Towns will always try to form a lightly equipped standing guard to protect themselves. While rare, smaller tribes may band together to raid towns of other hightribes, another nation or even their own. Even small tribes can form an impressive raiding party if they work together, which makes it even more important for towns to have a permanent guard. In these larger skirmishes, tactics are used but due to the short time these conflicts last strategies are absent. Major cities have much larger guards and sometimes even have a small standing military consisting of their best warriors, who focus on nothing but honing their warrior skills. They are required to always be on guard duty, lead the training sessions and be always ready. In return for their services, guards receive shelter, food and coins. Land is rarely occupied or conquered in the hightribe-internal conflicts.
During actual wars they use thought out tactics and strategies; generals are picked and more organized units are formed to be able to follow through with them. The hightribes can turn into very efficient war machines within a few weeks, allowing for huge, bloody massacres of wars that often leave both sides of the conflicts with dead laying everywhere. The losers of these wars will often lose land and are left with burning cities. Such wars are rare to happen, though, since it's near impossible to unite so many small tribes into one and form an army, except when times are dire.
A branch of the military that all hightribes possess, that most other nations do not, is the cavalry. The Blazewhips have managed to figure out how to tame the usually very vicious, unruly and ferocious lizogs into aggressive war mounts and the other hightribes followed suit over time. While all hightribes make use of the oversized, long-legged lizards to bring messages and supplies around, that aren't important enough to be carried by Blazkul, not all of them use them in combat. It strongly varies from hightribe to hightribe. Most do not even employ them in the military beyond using them for scouts or small raiding parties. It takes quite some effort to breed and tame lizogs, as they are naturally wild and prefer to not listen to any authority but the leader of their pack. The Blazlin have to be firmly displayed as their masters, sometimes with force. More detailed information regarding how a hightribe uses the strong mounts is shown on their individual pages.
Should all the Hightribes ever unite, they could easily field an unstoppable army made of the best warriors known to Threa. They would leave destruction and fire in their wake without even breaking a sweat. Stopping such a force might take the cooperation of most northern realms. Thankfully for them, this has yet to happen and is unlikely to ever happen to the continuous violent infighting. The Blazkul also have no interest in expanding outside of the desert, but they still enjoy making war plans against foreign realms or even their own hightribe and the other hightribes as a mental game and exercise. It has become a game for Blazkul in positions of authority, much like archery and spear throwing has become a sport for Blazlin.
Currently, the relative military strength of the Blazkul Hightribes, in order from greatest to weakest, is as follows: Emberspikes, Fireclaws, Firehorns, Flamewings, and Blazewhips. Compared to realms outside of the desert the hightribes are an unmatched force if all are taken together, but alone each hightribe has less military strength than the Sokan Empire. If a single hightribe were to fight the Sokan Empire, their only chance at success is through superior tactics, strategy, and skill and a good amount of luck. Even the Emberspikes would run into trouble.
All Hightribes, but the Emberspikes and Firehorns, use a system of levies in order to raise their armies. More about the military organization of these two Hightribes is mentioned on their individual pages. Every town and city has to pick a battlesteerer among themselves, who is then tasked with raising and commanding the military forces of the entire area, including surrounding villages and nomadic tribes. This makes the amount of units a battlesteerer commands depended on the population of the region, which causes it to vary wildly in size. Some lords, usually of the larger cities and especially the capitals, are even offered to become battlelords, which are the superiors of the battlesteerers. More on this organization is explained in the list below. It is a very general list of ranks and formations and is only true for the Fireclaws, Blazewhips and Flamewings. Naturally every battlelord and battlesteerer has a staff made out of specialized officers, like logistics officers, and a messenger corps. Younglings who are too young for their adulthood quest often have to serve as scouts and messengers due to their nimbler, smaller frame. This also gives them experience in being part of an organized military, which will help them in their future.
Logistically, the armies of the hightribes stand in front of a large challenge. The desert is vast and the food stockpiles far apart. In order to reach another hightribe's territory, hundreds of miles of desert have to be crossed without starving or dehydrating. Sometimes the branches of the Arms of Life reach deep into the desert, which allows to drink from them for a while before having to rely on their own water supply. Every host requires their kul and oxen to carry giant barrels full of water if they intend to bring great amounts of lin from one river to the next. The two legged warriors also carry waterskins and their own gear with them. Since Blazkul can live without drink for two weeks, they do not need nearly as much of the water as their smaller comrades do. They can even starve themselves for more than a week without feeling badly weakened, thus only rations for the lin have to be brought most of the time. Those consist of bread, dried fish and meat. For really long marches they even bring their own grain, which they bake into fresh bread in the field camp.
Those field camps are pretty simple, due to the lack of wood in the middle of the desert. Every warband has to bring enough tents on their oxen and their warriors to shelter everyone. Usually multiple warriors sleep in one tent. Even the bandchiefs just sleep alongside their warriors. Blazkul are too large for tents. The warriors simply all gather up and warm each other with their bodies by lying so close together that they touch. It also strengthens the bonds between the warriors to share warmth like that. The camps can't be surrounded by a palisade and any firewood has to be brought in advance or flown in. Often the following Blazkul have to sacrifice some of their liquid fuel to keep the lamps and fires lit. Flying is way faster than marching, so it is very common that the Blazkul of an army fly back and forth, carrying wood, water and food rations with them. Having flying units in your forces certainly helps keep long supply lines stable and running. Without Blazkul, it would be a much bigger effort to cross the desert. No matter how good the supply lines are, once an army reaches another hightribe's territory it is of utmost importance that they take over a local city, so that they can plunder its food stock and can safely reach the water of their Arm of Life.
The highest rank in political as well as in military matters. The warlord of a hightribe commands everyone and has the right to allocate resources as he pleases. No one can challenge his orders, except they are willing to fight him until death. A very uncommon act, because no one wants to destabilize their own hightribe in times of war. It is the most capable kul the hightribe has and a seasoned warrior as well.
A battlelord controls all battlesteerers within a theater of war, but no army of their own. However, they can take charge of a battlesteerer's army if they consider it necessary that they lead the forces into battle themselves. In extremely large field battles, where multiple battlesteerers are involved, the battlelord usually acts as an instance above them who has the last word when it comes to what tactic they want to use. Warlords usually give their battlelords missions such as defending or invading a certain area. They give them the resources necessary, while leaving it up to them how they accomplish their task. This also means that battlelords have to take care of supply lines, to ensure that the armies of their subordinate battlesteerers are always well fed and supplied - a difficult task in the vast desert.
A battlesteerer controls all the forces that his own town/city and the surrounding villages can spare. Only lords may fill this role, as only they are capable enough to. Battlesteerers command parts of a battlelord's host and ensure that his will is done. The amount of lin and kul under their command can vary wildly within most hightribes, as it just depends on how large the levy of their hometown is. Unlike the battlelord, they will lead a lot of battles themselves and actively participate in them, too.
Battlesteerers have the right to promote the warriors under their command to bandchiefs, so that they can command smaller units within the battlesteerer's levy. Even lin can be bandchiefs, but it is up to the battlesteerer how many warrior they command, as there's no set size for it. Basically, the entire organization beneath the battlesteerer is up to them. A group of warriors, archers or kul under a bandchief is referred to as a warband most of the time. Tight connections often form between the brothers in arms.
The usual soldier is often referred to as a warrior or grunt - be it a kul-warrior, or lin-combatants. Even veterans are put on this step, as they actually have no power over their fellow warriors. In practice, other warriors tend to listen to their orders because they simply have more experience and know what to do in the chaos of battle.
The hightribes have good smiths and even use steel for armor and weapons. The equipment is well made and made to last. Personal ownership of weapons and armor is very rare. Only lords and chieftains own their own armor and weapon sets. Every tribe has their own armory, so that they can arm their warriors in times of conflict. A spear for every male, as well as a longbow for everyone who is capable of using it and at least twenty arrows, so an entire quiver full, is handed to each Blazlin family to store them at home. This makes them capable of quickly forming a light militia if their hometown comes under attack unexpectedly. Despite being stored in their homes, these weapons are considered communal property and breaking them is considered a crime. In times of war, the Blazlin are supposed to bring those items to the armory, where they will receive their armor set and are assigned to a unit. Kul are even allowed to store their armor at home, as it has to be custom made for them so it fits right. Taking care of the armor, oiling it and making sure it is repaired when needed is an important duty. Failure to keep the armor in a good condition is a disgraceful act and seen as very ungrateful.
In most tribes kul wear light or medium armor. Metal plates are carried on a leather harness and are placed so that they protect only the legs, back of the neck, back and tail root. Too much metal would weight them down and hurt their agility in the air after all. In order to augment their own claws, many Blazkul wear claw sheaths to have bigger, sharper claws that cut through scale much easier. Having chest and flank armor is rather rare and mostly reserved for more important kul, as making such large plates requires as much metal as multiple hundred swords or even more spear tips. Some of the plates bear the symbol of their hightribe, but that is mostly the case for the more heavily armored kul. Lightly armored kul just draw it with body paint on their flanks.
Most of the hightribes equip their lin warriors with hardened leather armor for the torso and upper legs, augmented with leather greaves, steel arm-guards and helmets. Beneath the armor they wear linen tunics. Archers lack the helmets, bracers and greaves, since they are not supposed to take part in the melee. Seasoned warriors even receive full steel scale armor in addition to the leather torso piece. The scales are small, thick squares that are woven onto the leather or tied to each other using steel wire. Often they feature rounded bottoms and overlap each other to maximize their coverage. The scale armor doesn't cover the entire legs, only the thighs by split skirt that connects to the torso piece, as the rest is protected by the greaves. Most Blazlin use oval shields that are large enough to protect during a fight while still allowing them to be agile, but they don't offer as much cover against projectiles as a larger tower shield would. Every Blazlin carries the symbol of their hightribe and tribe proudly on their shield.
The most common melee weapons for Blazlin are the straight sword and the spear. Spears are common weapons in Threa in general, but the Blazlin mostly use them as throwing weapons or when they fight larger beasts. A straight sword is a simple, one-handed design that is easy to make for experienced weapon smiths. They are produced in such great amounts that every single melee warrior can be equipped with one, but they are still stored in the armory and not at the homes of the Blazlin, since they more valuable than a simple spear or a longbow. Even the archers receive a short sword so they may defend themselves with it. As implied, the longbow is the choice for ranged combat. Its long range is perfect for the open battlefields of the desert. Hemp or strong tendons is required to make its string - materials easily acquired in the desert. Lizog sinew makes for great strings. To be able to combat kul and armored targets, the archers are commonly equipped with steel-tipped arrows with a narrow, elongated tip. The weapons handed out to seasoned warriors are not the common material, but high quality work. Receiving a well made sword basically makes the veteran status official. If a hightribe's warriors have a different preference for weapons and armor, then it is mentioned on their hightribe's page.
In order to kill kul, the Blazlin employ kul-crossbows. Only renowned marksmen may join the ranks of the crossbowmen. Kul-crossbows are very large, very heavy crossbows - basically a hand-held ballista. They feature two strings that cross each other where the bolt rests. Wingripper bolts can be launched by those weapons, which makes them deadly to flying kul. A wingripper bolt is a specialized piece of ammunition, that consists of a pressure sensitive rod that sticks out of the front of the bolt. Upon impact with a surface, the rod is pushed inward, which pushes four spiked metal rods outside. They easily tear through the wing membrane and leave a grievous hole inside it. A couple of those bolts can easily ground a kul.
When it comes to war machinery the Hightribes have it all. Everything from ballistas over siege towers to trebuchets is known to their siege engineers. No city can withstand an assault executed by a hightribe. Especially ballistas are commonly employed, be it offensively or defensively. In field battles the use of artillery is more scarce, as it takes a lot of effort to bring the war machines out into the desert, since the wood necessary for them can't be gathered on the spot.
Blazkul officers use thought out tactics, that they often test out in training skirmishes. For some hightribes, war is a scientific field. Each hightribe uses a different approach to fighting, so their tactics are mentioned on their individual pages.
The Flamewings have a unique 'unit' that is allowed to patrol the entire northern border of the desert; they're known as Desert Sentries and they exist to prevent foreigners from entering the Searing Land. More about them is written on the page of the Flamewings.
The Firehorns have a Blazlin elite unit that functions as an intelligence service. They are called the Enlightener's Daggers and are masters of stealth and assassinations. More on them on the Firehorn page.
The Sacred Guardians are zealous Blazkul who believe their duty in life is to defend the Flame and the way it laid for the Blazkul, no matter what. Their symbol is the Flame surrounded by a spiky circle, which spikes point away from the Flame, protectively deterring anyone who wants to extinguish it. Basically, they are a religious military order with the sole goal to defend their religion and erase any trace of heresy. Unlike an inquisition, the Sacred Guardians do not try to seek out heretic individuals among their own community. The Sacred Guardians already have an enemy - the Firehorns, also known as Flamestealers due to the terrible crime they committed against the laws of the priests.
The Sacred Guardians were fonded in 277 ar, after the War of the Flame ended. The War of the Flame began because the Firehorns tried to steal a bit of the temple fire that burns in the Great Temple of the Flame, which stood and still stands in Victor's Home, the northern capital of the Emberspikes. Shedding blood in a temple of the Flame is considered a horrible crime, but the Firehorns send to steal the fire did just that. All the other hightribes allied to fight the Flamestealers together. Although they combined their strengths, they weren't able to win; fears of betrayal ended their cooperation after two years.
However, many Blazkul and Blazlin still believed in victory and in fighting together against a common foe within the Searing Deserts. They weren't happy that the Firehorns were allowed to live. They wanted to kill every last Firehorn and smash every last egg, until they finally accept the way of the Flame again or go extinct. Thus Battlelord Balaroz Kirmok, a Blazewhip lord, decided to give up his affiliation to his hightribe and found the Sacred Guardians together with the other Blazkul and Blazlin who wanted to continue the fight. He did this with the support of the priests, which in turn gained him at least the agreement of the highcouncil. The first ever cross-hightribe unit was founded.
At the beginning the Sacred Guardians were very weak, consisting only of survivors of the War of the Flame. They were heavily depended on donations from the Blazewhip Hightribe, too. It took until 281 ar for them become more independent. In that year the scored a large victory against Firehorn raiders that attempted to burn Blazewhip fields in the Southern Searing Desert. This granted them the respect of the Blazewhips. The further support of the priests also helped them become more known among the other hightribes. With a lot of diplomatic effort, the priests managed to acquire the right of free way for the Sacred Guardians. Finally they were able to send their recruiters across the entire Searing Deserts to rally more people to their banner. Seeing just how useful the Sacred Guardians could be in battling the Firehorns, the other hightribes also began sending them donations of food, weapons, armor, and other equipment. Slowly the Sacred Guardians shaped up to be a force to be reckoned with.
Although they fought the Firehorns whenever they attempted to invade the Blazewhips' territory, the Sacred Guardians could not muster the strength to go on the offensive themselves until 761 ar. During that year the Sacred Guardians finally had acquired so many men and material to strike the Firehorns. They managed to utterly destroy a weak Firehorn army send out to stop them and then began the Siege of the Obsidian Citadel. This siege lasted until 765 ar. In those four years the Firehorns tried again and again to destroy the army of the Sacred Guardians, but thanks to reinforcements and supplies from the other hightribes the Sacred Guardians did not budge. The Obsidian Citadel fell and is still in the hands of its conquerors today, but also in bad shape.
The streak of successes of the Sacred Guardians came to an abrupt end after the siege. The hightribes saw that the Firehorns were significantly weakened and that an allied faction - the Guardians - was threatening the Firehorns' northern capital by owning the Citadel. That was enough for hightribes; they reduced their support to a trickle of supplies. The Flamewings even stopped supporting them entirely. Only the Blazewhips continued to properly help the order that one of their own had founded. Another offensive was out of the question; the Sacred Guardians bunkered down and focus on protecting the Obsidian Citadel and blocking any Firehorn raids nowadays.
Because Blazkul of all four, Flame-following hightribes and even a few zealous Firehorns are part of the Sacred Guardians, they have the best available for every job. Flamewings work as scouts and aerial warriors, Fireclaws and Emberspikes fight as heavy warriors on the ground, and the Blazewhips as light fighters. The Blazlin do what they usually do, meaning those coming from the Emberspike Hightribe serve as heavy infantry, those from the Fireclaw and Flamewing Hightribe as wild warriors, and those from the Blazewhip Hightribe as cavalry. The tactics of the Sacred Guardian's revolve around using everyone at what they are best at. The large downside of the Sacred Guardians is that their numbers are rather low and they are dependent on favors to receive armor, weapons, and supplies.
Becoming a Sacred Guardian is rather simple; a willing Blazkul or Blazlin simply has to talk with a recruiter. These recruiters are often very old guardians, too old to fight even in most cases. They travel the lands of the Blazkul, visit festivities at the Day of Ascension, and just overall try to raise support and find suitable recruits for their order. Every male Blazkul who has become an adult is accepted into the Sacred Guardians, as long as they display a strong faith in the Flame. Recruiting grown adults means that training the recruits becomes unnecessary, their tribe already trained them after all. Of course the guardians still spar and train to stay in shape and sharpen the skills of the new recruits. When one joins, they give up their affiliation to their tribe and hightribe, meaning they lose their tribe's name and have to give away their hightribe amulet. In its stead they receive an amulet of the Sacred Guardians.
The amulet carries the symbol of the Sacred Guardians on its front and the name of the wearer on its back. It has an edge made out of silver, but other than that looks exactly like a hightribe amulet. Each guardian carries their amulet proudly into battle; the chest plate of the Blazkul armor always features a socket for the amulet, allowing them to carry it into battle in an obvious fashion. The Blazlin of carry the symbol on their shields and bracers. Speaking of armor, the Sacred Guardians use whatever is available for their kul, but they do have a roughly standardized set of equipment for their Blazlin. Each two legged frontliner receives a set of scale armor with bracers, a helmet, and greaves. Additionally they are given a shield, javelins, and a one-handed sword. The archers receive hardened leather armor and longbows. Riders also receive hardened leather armor for themselves and their lizog mounts, as well as a lance if they are a lancer or a shortbow if they are a mounted archer.
|Ranks and Units of the Sacred Guardians|
|The master guardian of the Sacred Guardians is the oldest, most combat-experienced kul among them. As wise as he is old, he is basically equal to a warlord when it comes to skill. It is him who leads all warbands and wings of the Sacred Guardians into battle, unless he has to split his forces. Then the detachments are led by a temporary officer, picked by the master guardian himself. The only way to identify him is by his armor; it is a special set that catches the eye with its gold and silver decorations, while also protecting the wearer due to being made from Fireclaw steel. Of course the guardians know who their master is and how he looks, so means of identification are rarely needed-|
|Battlesteerer of the Flame|
|A battlesteerer of the Flame is only a temporary title usually, which is tied to a mission. Once the mission is complete or other orders have been given, the holder of the title loses it. The title is meant to be given to capable leaders among the Sacred Guardians so that they have the right and power to command other guardians, so they can execute missions away from the master guardian. They can be identified by a special socket for their amulet. It is spiky ring made out of gold, which basically functions as a second ring around the one that is already edged into their guardian amulet.|
|Clawchiefs lead groups that are three Blazkul strong, which are simply called a claw. They can be identified by the yellow symbol drawn on their flanks; they are simply the symbol of the Sacred Guardians.|
|Bandchiefs lead groups of Blazlin that are one hundred warriors strong. They can be identified by the yellow symbol crudely painted on the front of their armor and the yellow feathers poking out of their helmets.|
When it comes to diplomacy between the tribes of a single hightribe, then it is the lords and chieftains who handle it. Cities, villages and towns will agree to trade, negotiate peace deals after months of raids or even form alliances against another town. Within a hightribe, all kinds of treaties and deals are a possibility. It is a grand game of intrigues and making sure to have the right friends and not make the wrong enemies. A tribe who is lead by a cunning leader can obtain positions of power, like becoming a tribe in the capital or acquiring a lord position for one of their kul. Usually at least some fighting is required to have such plans work out.
Between hightribes, their high councils are responsible for conducting diplomacy, at least during peace. This is rare to happen, because the hightribes do not have much to say to each other and much prefer to fight. During war the warlord is in charge of all diplomacy. If he wants to make peace, then his hightribe will have to make peace. At the end of large wars, it is not uncommon that the warring sides meet to negotiate a peace treaty, so they can be sure that they'll get a break for a while to rebuild and regain their numbers. Commonly this is done in temples and supervised by a priest, who is there to make sure the Blazkul give binding oaths. Permanent total war would ruin the hightribes, as they could not reproduce or craft supplies and equipment fast enough to keep up with the losses. Something like the Thousand Years War of the Aezkul would not happen among the hightribes; they are too afraid that an force from outside the desert could abuse their moment of weakness.
If a hightribe would hold diplomatic talks with a non-Blazkul nation, then its high council would also be in charge of that. They would likely appoint a trustworthy lord as a diplomat and have him handle the negotiations. So far Firehorns are the only Hightribe to actually do proper diplomacy with other nations. No one else even bothers for peace. They happily raid and kill every foreigner without remorse or a second thought. This has made them a threat and a pest in the eyes of many nations, who will kill Blazlin and Blazkul on sight, suspecting them to be naught but violent raiders.
Foreign relations mostly consist of a cold war between the hightribes and the other nations. Only the Firehorns have trade connections to other realms and even cooperate with a few of them. More about that on each hightribe's page.
As a warning: The Firehorns are an exception to many things mentioned in this section. More detailed public opinions can be found on the individual pages of the individual hightribes.
The Blazkul consider almost all non-Blazkul to be weak. In their eyes, none can stand up against the might of their hightribes and would be soundly beaten by their superior warriors. Frankly, the hightribes know little about the people outside of the desert. Their interest in them is rather low in general, as they only use them as targets for their raiding parties and challenge-seeking younglings. Only the Republic of the Zule, the HozReok and the Riz Tribes have frequent contact with the hightribes. Violent contact.
Being part of a peaceful society, the Aezkul are seen as cowards who would not be able to stand a real fight. The fact that they can breath fire doesn't help at all, because they can not even withstand their own fire well. Priests explain Aezkul to be one of the chaotic creations of the Flame - capable of using it as a weapon, but not able to withstand its heat. A failed creation that turned towards the Wind and away from the Flame. Younglings enjoy to take apart Aezkul villages because the Aezser have so many pretty trinkets.
Rizkul and Rizlin are seen as a serious threat to raiding parties that want to go far north, if only within their jungle. The Blazkul recognize them as great stalkers and ambushers; they consider them good warriors even. However, a Rizkul is easily overpowered by an experienced Blazkul in a one on one fight and the Blazkul know this. Even multiple Rizkul can be wiped out by a single Blazkul, if it is a melee brawl. Just their acid makes the fight difficult, if it gets into vulnerable places. If it weren't for poisoned arrows and guerrilla tactics, the Riz tribes couldn't handle the Blazlin and especially not the Blazkul.
The HozReok only really has contact with the Flamewings. More about that on their page.
Blazkul see the entire desert as their own land and allow the Blazlin to live on it with them, in return for a share of their production and labor. Despite this feudal-sounding approach, the hightribes have a very social economy and the Blazkul have to work as hard as the Blazlin or be abandoned by their tribe. It is basically based on sharing and caring, favors and organized production. Families share what they can with other families, knowing they'll receive something else back when it is possible. Old clothes or a set of boots might be given away for free, for example. Housing is another good example of how especially the Blazlin work together. Building abodes is a communal effort. Everyone in the community who has some muscle and time will help out with building or repairing houses. In return they or their children will receive the same help once they need a home. The resources for the building come from the communal stockpile of the tribe. If a house becomes empty because the owning pair died, then it is handed back to the community to be maintained until another pair requires it. The chieftain usually appoints a lin per district to keep track of the housing and organize the construction of new ones as well as the maintenance of the old ones.
The currency used by the tribes consists of copper and more rarely silver coins. For simplicity, they are just round coins with no imagery apart from the hightribe symbol. They also feature a hole in the middle to make it possible to put them on a string. A copper piece is called a quaz (Plural: quazi) and a silver piece is called a quoz (Plural: quozi). Only lords may order the production of new coins in their town's mint. Usually every bit of copper and silver that can be spared is turned into coins or ingots. Despite the existence of coins, many prefer to barter for goods and even receive wares as payment instead of money.
Building projects in general are an effort of the entire tribe. Everyone has to help if told to by the chieftain. As most buildings help the entire tribe somehow, like a temple, a city wall or a new storage building, it is seen as understandable that they receive no payment for their service, as they will benefit from the new structure just like anyone else will. If someone wants to build something that might not be helpful to the entire tribe, like a monument or a palace for just the lord, then the builders involved might receive at least extra rations for the duration of the construction as a reward for their help. In some hightribes it is not seen as self-centered or a waste to build prestigious structures, like palaces for a city's lord, as it raises the prestige of the entire tribe to possess such a grand building. Both Blazlin and Blazkul are involved in these projects.
The production of food is also centrally kept track of, but externally organized. Farmers and breeders join farmer communities, which sometimes sprawl across an entire village. Within that community they share tools, land, animals and often also other items. It is a tightly knit social grouping, which shares what they have to maximize their agricultural output. If ditches have to be dug, stables and sheds build or forests cut down to make way for fields, then the entire farmer community does so together. The eldest lin of such a community is always in direct contact with the chieftain, or whoever was appointed with taking care of the food production, and is responsible for making sure their community's overproduction is handed over to the tribe. Overproduction is considered to be everything that the farmers do not need to feed their own people. They also have to hand over all the leather and other resources they produce. In return for this tax, they receive free housing from the tribe as well as a payment in the form of some coins or items, whichever is preferred. The more they give, the more they receive. Blazkul often help the farmer communities out by offering their physical strength or by giving a hand with herding the cattle. Blazkul who hunt also have to give any overproduction to tribe's food stock and receive payment in return.
Whoever is tasked with taking care of the tribe's food storage then ensures that food is given to every Blazkul and Blazlin in the tribe equally. Farmers sustain themselves, so only the Blazlin within towns actually require rations. Rations are usually handed out to each Blazlin family individually once a week on the marketplace. The people charged with handing out the rations have to keep track of how large some of the families are, so that they know who to give how much to. A family is considered to be a pair of Blazlin and their children, so the people who give the rations just have to remember the couples, usually even only the mother, and not every single Blazlin. Everyone gets as much as they need or as much as the leaders can spare amongst all of them. Blazkul tend to eat the meals the Blazlin prepare for them together in a common spot. Although no hightribe has to starve, the Blazkul cannot risk greed when it comes to food, so lying or bribing the one responsible for the food stockpiles is seen as a crime worthy of death.
The fields surrounding the rivers are vast and always offer bountiful harvests all year round. Nutrient rich mud washed upon the shores by the overflowing of the Arms of Life makes those fields very fertile. Large herds of animals ensure that all Blazkul are supplied with meat and that leathers are easily available, which also supports the use of it for armor. Naturally, unlimited growth can't be supported by the desert no matter how good at agriculture the hightribes become, so at some point there's a critical amount of lin and kul, which can lead to dire times and thus to war over fertile land and food storages. Farmers, just like lumberjacks, miners and other resource gatherers, are rewarded for their work with free food, shelter and other necessities, just as clothing or furniture.
Of course every tribe also requires raw materials, like wood, ore or clay. The laborers tasked with mining, woodcutting and similar jobs form communities of their own, in which they share tools and expertise. Just like the farmers, those communities usually live together and are led by their eldest member. Tools are handed to each of those communities for free, based on their size. In return for the ability to work they are also supposed to work. Laziness is a crime in the eyes of the Blazlin and Blazkul. First of all, they have to find suitable woods for lumbering or in the case of miners a ore-rich place. The former is easy to find near the rivers, as lush forests grow next to them. However, cutting them down would ruin the ecosystem and cause the ground to erode. The hightribes are aware of this and thus scarcely cut down trees. Destroying the forests also hurts their hunting grounds. Sometimes tribes make lumber trips into the jungles of the rainforest or the Aezrikka Zule, which leads to conflict with the Riz Tribes or the Republic of the Zule. When it comes to ore, most of the desert is very barren; there is only a few places where one can find them or coal in the ground. Great cities are founded in those locations to exploit those resources. Ironhill is a good example of that, being founded on top of a rich iron mine. The great majority of ore is gathered in the Sacred Lands by Blazkul miners. The volatile volcanic wasteland just oozes with mineral rich streams of molten rock and has veins of iron ore growing over it like vines in a jungle. Gold, silver, copper and other useful metals can also be found there in great amounts.
All gathered resources have to be handed to the resource stockpiles of the tribe. In return for the raw materials they receive free housing and money or items, just like the farmers. Those resources are guarded by warriors, who only do this part time. They do not get paid for the guard service, it just changes weekly and it is usually left to the Blazlin to organize themselves when it comes to the guard duty. Some Blazlin might do it permanently, if others give them food and items in return for taking over their shift. If someone needs something from the stockpiles, in order to build a house or craft items, then they have to simply request it from whoever has been put in charge of it. Approved blacksmiths have an easy time acquiring the resources they need, if they have a contract to make tools or weapons. They are told to make certain items and in return receive what they need to make it, as well as free housing and payment for each item done. As stated in the Equipment subsection under Military, some weapons are handed to the families so they store them at home. If tailors, potters and similar people want to make items for sale, they have to buy the resources from the stockpile and can then sell them to the farmers and laborers. Leather workers are only contracted when boots and leather pieces are needed to fill the stockpile of the armory. That way everyone receives the bare necessities like food and shelter, but can still have personal belongings like clothing, furniture and similar.
Luxury goods are a good way to make some wealth, but they can't be traded to the tribe's stockpiles in return for money. The only way to sell them is by selling them directly to customers, this means that the producers can never be sure that their wares sell, just how it works in a free market. Luxury goods produced by the hightribes are things like wine made from desert berries, a variety of drugs like the smokable leafs of a special desert fern, spices and jewelry. A demand for those goods certainly exists, especially when feasts are held. There's a luxury tax on those goods, so for each luxury item produced, even if it has not been sold yet, they have to pay a bit of coin. This ensures that the production of wine doesn't become greater than the production of grain, for example. Sometimes this tax is paid in items instead of coins. If the lord of the town wants some wine for a community event, for example, they may request it as a tax from the vineyard.
As stated multiple times, there's a lot of money flowing into and out of the treasury. The lord(s) of the town or the chieftain of the village is tasked with keeping track of it, so it never runs dry. However, in a case of emergency, it is possible to just demand needed items without payment. Thanks to the taxes, trade and looting, it is rare that towns go bankrupt. Tribe members are not supposed accumulate great amounts of wealth and the payment handed out is just enough to live a modest lifestyle and not in great luxury. Personal wealth in general is not something that is usually aspired, as it isn't of such great use in the society of the Blaz. It doesn't give one greats amount of influence, as it is up to the head of the tribe how land is used and who receives what in the end and that title is not earned through coin, but through hard work, wit and warrior skill. Even chieftains and lords are expected to do some form of work. They help out with manual labor and receive food and housing in return, just as any other kul. Every political title or public service (like keeping track of stockpiles, housing, etc) are seen as honorable titles that the tribe members do for the respect, influence and prestige that comes with it, not for wealth.
It is easy to imagine that this economic system is prone to corruption. Despite their loyalty and usually honest nature, corruption and unofficial business is indeed quite common within the tribes. Here is where favors come into place. A lumberjack could for example withhold some timber and hand it to a carpenter, in return the carpenter will make chairs for both of them, without having to buy the wood from the stockpile first. Another example is, that a farmer makes spirits from cacti and does not pay the tax for it, because they bribe the tax collector with some of the alcohol. Small scale corruption easily goes under the radar and most do not mind it, as long as the work gets done, the people are fed and the armory stocked up with equipment. The lords and chieftains do not intervene in the doings of the Blazlin workers, unless they notice large scale corruption; it is quickly found out and the people responsible are punished.
Overall, the tribes are large, social communities where everyone tries to do their best, so that everyone can live in good conditions.
Blazkul very rarely learn a trade. Most who do are actually females, because they focus less on honing their warrior skills than the males do, so they have more time to master a craft. The majority of Blazkul simply does every day tasks for their tribe like hunting or using their muscle to dig ditches, mine ore or rip out trees. Many also help with the transportation of wares/resources, animal husbandry, and the like. Simple manual labor is the most common type of work for the large, strong kul. One of the most common types of trade they learn is how to smith tools, weapons, or objects required for construction. Quite a few also learn to create kul-sized jewelry. The Blazkul also are able to do fine works, such as curing leather, cutting slabs of stone, or creating bricks from clay. Pottery and similar is also possible. Simply put, most crafts able to be done by large paws are touched upon. Overall, Blazkul do not seek professions just for fulfillment, but in order to serve their tribe the best they can. Since the Blazlin make the better craftsmen most of the time thanks to their nimbler hands, the need for Blazkul is rather low. However, when it comes to making Blazkul armor, the best pick is another Blazkul. Thanks to their resistance to heat, they can form the soft, hot steel with their bare paws, which allows them to make the large metal plates necessary for kul-armor quicker than a group of lin could. Only a tiny minority of Blazkul become scholars, finding it boring to read or write tomes.
Blazlin fulfill most roles within the hightribes. Like in many societies, the vast majority of them are farmers and animal herders. Thanks to their organized agricultural sector, they are capable of having more crafters than most other Threan nations, though. The two legged inhabitants of the hightribes can learn any craft and produce anything from simple shoes over clay bowls to steel swords. Doubting the skill of Blazlin craftsmen would be foolish, because they produce great items and invest effort into everything they make to make sure it is of solid quality. Absolutely speaking, there are far more Blazlin scholars than Blazkul scholars. They've thus also furthered the technological advancement of the Hightribes the most. Overall, the Hightribes are a society of specialists. The grand majority just focus on a single trade instead of having a basic knowledge of everything. This ensures high quality goods, but also means that a product is no longer available if the specialist is gone and has no replacement. Only in villages and nomadic tribes do the people still possess basic knowledge of multiple crafts, out of necessity. Some Blazlin also serve the Blazkul; they clean their scales, their homes or may even maintain their possessions for them. In return for these services, they are often allowed to live in the homes of these Blazkul and receive a share of their payment. It is an honorable duty and not something that is frowned upon.
Due to their policy of "bite first, talk never" trade with other nations is basically non-existent. The Firehorns are an exception to this, because they are more peaceful towards non-desert nations and actually maintain good trade relations with them. More on how they handle trade and what they trade can be found on their page.
The internal tribe is very active. Towns, cities and capitals trade a lot; many trade ships move up and down the Arms of Life. Cities that have access to natural resource usually trade their excess to other communities, so that they may turn them into finished products there. Some tribes who are known for their expect craftsmen just sell the finished products to other towns instead. This allows for some towns to specialize in certain fields. This can create dependency between the towns. Again Ironhill serves as an example - it produces a lot of steel, but directly turns it into tools, armor and weapons and then sells it to all tribes north of itself instead of selling the ore or the steel ingots. Communities placed closed to the border of the desert often trade wood downstream to the places deeper in the desert, because they have a better access to expendable forests than they do.
Villages tend to have a large overproduction of agricultural goods. They sell that to nearby towns, whose population then doesn't have to focus as much on agriculture itself. In return for the food, they receive tools, weapons, luxury goods, clothing and all kinds of things that the villages do not tend to produce themselves. Experienced craftsmen simply tend to live in towns instead of the villages. This creates a strong bond between the village and the town, as the town has to make sure the villages remain safe so they can continue to produce food, while it is in the best interest of the village that the town is well fed and supplied, so that they can continue to buy quality products from them. This internal trade also makes it possible for a single tribe to become very wealthy, as they can export more than they import. Money that isn't spend on anything is pretty useless, so they tend to invest it into something which causes the coins to flow back into the economy.
Hard drugs are forbidden in all hightribes, as they just cloud a warriors mind and make them dependent. Soft drugs, like the smokable desert fern and alcohol, are allowed. Poisons can also not be acquired legally by the common people, neither are they harvested for military purposes.
Due to the hot climate, more males than females hatch in the desert. This counts for both Blazlin and Blazkul. This numerical superiority of Blazkul males is mitigated by multiple factors. First of all, some of the young males die on their quest to adulthood. It is a dangerous undertaking, which ends either in the youngling surviving or dying. Most tend to survive the ordeal, but sometimes there's also unlucky years where most of the younglings do not survive their quest. Second, even adult males may die in the countless military conflicts the Blazkul wage. Females are exempt from both, so the older a generation becomes, the higher the percentage of females becomes. If a female's partner dies, then she can pick a new one if she wishes to. This is encouraged, because the tribe requires new kul and lin to take over the positions of the ones that fell. Within all Hightribes, the population is a balance of young and old, as well, due to the aforementioned reasons for the balance between male and female. The balance would be thrown off with an abundance of young males, if it weren't for those two facts. They also have a pure population of Blazkul and -lin. Non-Blaz are not allowed onto their treasured and holy land.
Smaller nomadic tribes roam the desert under their Hightribe's control, having around four adult kul and perhaps around thirty lin. Many herds of desert-dwelling animals live near the huge rivers and their offshoots, giving the Blazkul great hunting grounds. These nomadic tribes will settle down into villages once they find a suitable spot and then the population grow way larger, since now the Blazkul can lay claim on a large territory and the Blazlin can begin with agriculture. After settling down, a nomadic tribe turns from a hunter-gatherer society to a farmer village and enters relations with nearby tribes, in the hopes of founding or becoming part of a town at some point. Those villages can claim quite a lot of ground, due to the farmland they need. Large villages often consist of a core and multiple hamlets that are build perhaps an hour of walking away. Bigger concentrations of Blazkul as well as lin can be found within the towns. The three tribes that live in the region belonging each one of them can easily amount to around 30 adult kul and way more than 6,000 lin, of which most live in the surrounding countryside and not the town itself. This also counts for the Blazkul. The cities containing six tribes have around 60 adult kul and more than 12,000 lin living in their area. Those big cities are hubs of trade and displays of power and vital beacons of the hightribe's strength. Every such city lost is a very strong blow to a hightribe's influence on the Searing Desert as a whole.
The largest population centers - and the most impressive - are the capital cities of the Hightribes. Each hightribe has two, one on each of the ends of their Arm of Life, which are near the Sacred Lands. At these places, the rivers flow into deltas that are constantly having water evaporated from them due to the heat of the sun and dryness of the air. The deltas and their flooding-and-drying allow for great agriculture, for every time they flood they deposit nutrient-rich soil and sand on the banks. The capitals are formed from four highdistricts, so they possess four lords total, giving them a lot of influence in the high council of their tribe. More than 10,000 Blazlin live in these large cities alone. The capitals are neighbored by a lot of villages and hamlets, meaning that in the capital regions the local population of Blazlin can be well above 100,000, while the adult Blazkul in the entire region amount to around 150. As implied, the Blazlin are spread over a large number of villages, which are under the control of individual tribes. Although they are technically independent, they are all under the influence of the four lords of the capital region. Each high lord thus has a great power basis beneath him.
The literacy rate of Blazkul is near 100%. They all learn to read and write as hatchlings. Many do not write a lot during their lifetime and thus tend to have horrible handwriting and make a lot of mistakes. Unlike Blazkul, Blazlin do not necessarily learn how to read and write. Elders often teach such skills to the young ones. The reason for this difference between Blazkul and Blazlin is simple: Every Blazkul could end up in a leading position at some point, maybe as a chieftain for example, so they have to be capable of writing messages to other leaders. Blazlin on the other hand, especially farmers, have no need of such skills in their everyday life usually. Literate Blazlin have a higher chance of acquiring honorable jobs like tracking a stockpile, as being capable of calculating, writing and reading is a requirement for those tasks.
When it comes to population, the Emberspikes have the most lin and kul. Second come the Fireclaws, third the Flamewings, fourth the Firehorns and last the Blazewhips. However, the Blazewhips have more kul than the Firehorns do, but have a smaller two legged population. The Firehorns simply have a higher lin/kul ratio than the other hightribes have, due to treating them as full equals, which draws some Blazlin to abandon their own hightribe and move to the Firehorns instead. This is rather rare, because Blazlin are as loyal as any Blazkul is to their hightribe. Traitors are despised and killed when possible. Deserting one's hightribe is an act of treason and joining the Firehorns is a heretical act.
The hightribes are more advanced than any other nation when it comes to engineering and other tangible science. They've entered the age of steel, having learned how to turn iron ore into proper steel instead of the crude iron the Gren produce. They use steel to great extent as the Sacred Lands continuously spit out ore; parts for structures and furniture (like braces or hinges), weaponry, armor, and the like is all made of this material. Coal is highly sought after, as it can be burned without any consequences unlike trees. These hightribes are, first and foremost, the co-discoverers of steel alongside the Hozkul. Neither had contact to each other and independently invented ways to make steel.
From the Aezkul the Blazkul have learned how to read and write, although not directly. Due to lack of contact and standardization, the Blazkul write in a different way than the Aezkul do, having a few special letters and some of their shared letters simply look different. Texts are written either on leather, papyrus or wood. For quick demonstrations, wooden plates covered in sand make for good boards to draw something on. Libraries exist in the capitals and some Blazkul own their personal book collections, but apart from that one will be hard pressed to find a lot of literature in the Searing Deserts. Most of the books are about warfare. No book has ever been written on how steel is made or siege engines build; this knowledge is carried from generation to generation orally, as it is considered dangerous knowledge. The hightribes do not want that their steel can be produced by anyone out there. It is a fiercely guarded secret that only few Blazlin and Blazkul learn. They are called Masters of Steel and even have their personal bodyguard and usually live in good conditions. Usually they hand down their knowledge to their eldest son, or in the case of the Blazkul to whoever they deem worthy. Steel is supposedly a gift from the Flame, because it is a material sturdy and strong enough to endure even great heat.
The desert dwellers also have invented the specifics of mechanics, being the first to create kul-powered devices that make life generally easier. For example, they've learned to make crucibles on swivel-and-pulley systems to make the general transportation of goods easier. They've also invented more complex gates able to be raised and lowered with a crank system. Water mills are another invention the Blaz possess and they are commonly used to grind grain into usable flour to feed the thousands of Blazlin or to power various devices needed in workshops. Despite possessing so many mechanical devices, the muscle strength of kul is still preferred. Having a Blazkul lift something up to the second story of a building is often simply easier than having to build a crane, at least when it comes to construction. Experts in warfare and engineering, the Blazkul have invented all modern war machines. Catapults, ballistas, and other various bits of wartime machinery. Their constant battles and state of conflict with each other have forced them to keep having an arms race to try and get a little bit of an edge over the other.
How skilled architects are varies between the hightribes. In some hightribes, simplicity and practicability is key, because they simply use very little special buildings such as monuments. In a few hightribes, however, they greatly enjoy building truly grand structures. For instance, Firehorns' lin are amazing at building fortresses with intricate defense mechanisms, which can make assaulting them a true pain. Emberspikes's lin on the other hand have more of an artistic vein for architecture and think up monuments to last the ages, so that every new generation can see how great the passing one was.
Blazlin physicians, Blazkul do not bother with how to heal, are not nearly as good as the ones of the Aezkul. They aren't really good at healing diseases or illness, partly because the desert offers few herbs that have medical use. Most old women at least know a few tricks and herbs to cure minor problems, but a plague is hard to control. A heavy lack of scholars willing to properly research and write a book about them further hampers the advances in this field. However, the Blazlin do excel at treating combat wounds. Most Blazlin know how to do first aid, like bandaging a wound, cleaning it and are even capable of stitching it. This is very important to stay alive after battle, as there's no time to wait for a proper medic to do it. Even Blazkul are capable of doing some first rough treatments, until the small hands of the lin can take care of them. Surgery like the Aezkul do it is not a field known to these medics, but they are great at removing projectiles from their comrades. It is simply knowledge that came up due to how often physician of the desert have to treat such combat-related wounds.
During their nomadic phase, tribes do not construct houses of course. Instead, the Blazlin just live in tents. They are simple structures, made from leathers, plant fiber and wood. Every single tent is large enough to allow a Blazlin family to seek shelter inside and sleep there, too. Cooking, working and simply most activities that require space or a fire are done outside. Few tents possess a coverable hole in their ceiling, so they a campfire can't be lit inside of them. Dried grass or reed from the riverbank as well as furs serve as bedding for the two legged tribe members. Benches, chairs, tables and other large pieces of furniture simply do not exist, as it takes too much effort to take them along when the tribe moves on. Crates, barrels and other sturdy containers can fulfill their function, however. Metal pots and pans are a common item at the cooking fire, they are easy to bring and important for making filling meals. There's no such thing as specialized tents that serve a special purpose. The Blazkul of the tribe simply sleep on the warm desert sand, sometimes covered by blankets. Mated pairs snuggle close to keep each other warm during the freezing desert nights.
A more sophisticated kind of housing are the abodes of the Blazlin. They are made from a wooden frame that is completely covered in a mix of thatch and clay. Some even cover the walls in plaster to make them more weather resistant. Due the absence of snow or heavy rain, they do not need a sloped roof and just have a flat roof instead. Usually this roof is made from wooden planks, so that the roof can be used as a platform and thus increase the space available to the inhabitants. The ground of the first floor is usually just flattened dirt, more rarely wood. Doors are also made from wood, but feature metal hinges and handles. The windows are more than just air slits. Since the weather in the desert is very hot and dry, it is fine if they are larger and they actually offer a view outside. During day, they let the light and warmth from outside in, while also ensuring a good flow of air. At night, they are covered up with furs so the warmth of the fire remains inside. Huts most commonly have one or two rooms, but the ones in cities and the capital often even have three rooms and a second floor, sometimes even with a balcony where people enjoy to consume food and drink. The interior walls are also made from clay, as it is so readily found near the river banks, unlike wood. Every house has a bulge with a chimney attached to one of its exterior walls; this is where the fireplace and thus the living room is. Here the family cooks on the hearth and eats in front of it. It is very common for Blazlin to sit on the ground while they eat, because chairs and stools are non-existent. Carpets or leathers make a fine place to squat or lie and it saves on wood. Bedding usually consists of leather sacs filled with hay.
Workshops look very similar to houses, but naturally feature more storage areas and large areas for the devices required to craft items like a workbench or a furnace for example. Manufactures do not exist. Craftsmen usually live with their families next door to their workshop or in the floor above it. Most workshops also double as stores for the products that are made there. A public workshop that exists in the communities is the bakery. Everyone can go there and bake bread in the large ovens, so they can produce more bread at once than they possibly could at home. Some females even dedicate themselves to baking bread for the entire community. It has basically become a sort of trade almost. Usually the children have to assist them. Another example of public workshops are watermills. They are not owned by millers, but instead young lin are often tasked to grind all the grain they receive into flour and then bring it to the local stockpile. It works similar with smelters and miners, who just deliver the ore at the former and have the workers , in this case usually adults, and Masters of Steel take care of making it into useful ingots and blanks. The entire community thus also has to take care of these buildings, as is the case with any structure actually.
One of the special buildings within a tribe is the hatchling hut. In nomadic tribes, this building looks like a cone made out of clay. It is the only stationary building a nomadic tribe builds. The tip of the cone is cut off, allowing light to fall into the rather large building. It is big enough to allow a female Blazkul to lie curled up inside, so she can take care of the hatchlings and eggs within. The hole in the roof can be covered with a wooden plank for example. Entering and leaving the building happens through a large opening that is covered by a curtain made out of leather. The inside of the hut is very hot, even at night. This is necessary so the coldblooded hatchlings stay warm no matter what. It makes the job of their caretaker easier, as she doesn't necessarily have to curl up around them, even at night. Larger towns feature even larger hatchling huts, that feature sockets for eggs and other amenities for the keeper as well as the hatchlings themselves. Overall, this structure is always guarded and well taken care of.
The temples of the Flame are another special kind of building. They are made out of stone slabs or clay bricks and build with great care, no matter if they stand in a town or a capital. Decorating them with gold and other precious metals is rare, the temples rather tend to have statues placed inside them or texts engraved into the walls that speak of the history of the local tribes. They are placed upon a platform with stairs leading up the front edge. The door is not directly at the top of the stairs, though; there is a flat landing area before the entrance. Through this entrance is a long hallway that opens into a large circular room, with a flame burning in the center. A hole is cut in the ceiling to allow the smoke and light from it to escape. The room is lit only by the flame and any light that falls through the hole in the roof. The fire in the temples are lit from the first temple and largest; the Great Temple of Flame. This does not mean that every temple-fire originates directly from there. Most simple took a bit of fire from another temple, which in turn has been lit by a bit of the fire from the Great Temple.
When the nomadic tribes set up camp, they place all their tents in a large circle. In the center of this ring, they make a bunch of camp fires for cooking and warmth in the night. People sit around them, chat, work and just go about other daily business. Due to the lack of wood or rather the wish to preserve the forests if possible, they tend to not have a palisade build up around them. Usually the tribes do not stay for a long time anyway. They stay as long as the hunting and gathering in the area is good, or until the oasis, waterhole or river-branch dried up or threatens to do so. The Blazkul tend to sleep at the edge of the campsite and not in its middle, in order to keep watch over the area around it, scare off any animals and because they do not require the heat of the hearth. Hatchling huts are always constructed as a part of the circle, but always have a Blazkul guard at the side that points away from the camp, so no animal tries to dig its way inside and eat the eggs or hatchlings.
Villages feature humble abodes as well as workshops. Every family receives their own house, which has been build by the entire community. Public stockpiles for food and materials are also erected, to store it all before it is sold to nearby towns or used up by the village itself. Raw materials like wood, stone or clay are just stored under wooden roofs, that feature no walls. Food and other vulnerable items are stored in proper silos. Usually villages are founded nearby a river, so they can make use of watermills instead of having their kul power the grinding stone. Despite featuring big structures like stockpiles and proper housing, villages almost never have defenses. Setting up a wooden palisade is considered worthless, because your primary opponent is going to use fire breathing kul against you, who also possess the strength to just knock it down. They do feature watch towers for the guards, so they can keep a lookout over the area. Villages do not have abodes for their Blazkul yet either. They just sleep wherever, but some do at least have their own shed. Most villages have a small plaza in the middle of it, where the tribe meets to discuss issues and celebrate holidays. Barren fields outside of the village serve well for temporary training grounds for the fighters. Temples do not exist in the small villages, but they do always try to at least build an altar in the form of a fire burning within a bowl.
Proper towns which have three tribes living inside their general area are always build right at the shores of one of the large rivers flowing through the desert or at least have a village there that serves as a port. Many have stone walls build up around their core part, with a wooden walkway set up right behind them so that archery may man the walls. The reason why not all have stone walls is simply the lack of material for them. Clay is not a good material for walls that are supposed to withstand kul or siege engines. Sandstone tends to be the most common type of rock available for that. Granite or other rocks of similar hardness are hard to come by in the desert. Towers and small gate houses are the only fortifications apart from the walls themselves. Every town features a plaza in its middle, from which the main roads go outward towards the gates. Those roads within the town are either flattened dirt or more rarely paved, sometimes gravel is also used as a filling material for the streets. The plaza serves multiple functions; it is a gathering point for the entire community when the lord and his three chieftains discuss matters, as well as a place where rations can be handed out, a market or celebrations held and just general a good place to meet up. Towns are split into districts. Each district belongs to a single tribe and only lin and kul of that tribe may live in it.
The abodes build in towns tend to be larger and more spacious. Some are large enough to allow a pair of Blazkul to live in them. Those kul-shelters are like big sheds with clay walls, a fire place and a small storage compartment. If they have Blazlin servants, then they live in a neighboring hut. Often doors are build between the Blazkul's living room and the Blazlins' living room, so the lin can go into the kul's home without having to go outside. Some of the homes are outside of the walls, because the town simply outgrew them. Public structures, such as stockpiles and temples, are always build within the city walls. The temples usually neighbor the plaza, so the local priest(s) have an easy time getting to it and noticing it when the political leaders discuss their course of action. Stockpiles are usually build wherever the resources are gathered, or in a central position. This differs from town to town.
Larger cities usually only come into existence where important resources like iron ore or coal can be found and are founded on top of easily defensible positions like hills. An abundance of fertile farming land can also lead to the evolution of a town into a city. Just like towns, cities feature a very large plaza. If the city's tribes have a glorious past, then one can sometimes find monuments or memorials here. The roads in cities are usually paved, but become dirt the moment they leave the larger gate houses. Speaking of defenses, every city has a proper city wall that is thick enough to not need wooden walk ways. Thick towers and bastions bolster the fortifications further and allow the easy placement of war machines. Thanks to very large food and material stockpiles, cities are major targets during war, which justifies the effort invested into fortifying them. Large, kul-sized huts are very common in those large cities, too, as the tribes there can afford spending the materials on the housing. One has to keep in mind though that not all kul live within the city. Most just spread over the general area.
Now capitals are truly impressive centers of population. Just as the two kinds of communities mentioned before, they of course have a plaza in their center. It is gigantic, because it has to accommodate so many more Blazkul and -lin than the others do. Some capitals feature multiple rings of walls and very well thought out defenses and moats. Their temples are far greater than the smaller ones of the towns. Sometimes they even have attached living quarters for the priests and their servants. If they are propped up on giant platforms made out of stone, then the living quarters are build into that foot. If one is looking for grand monuments, capitals are the place to look for them. A hightribe's institutes of higher learning are also likely to be found here. Overall, capitals are simply very large urban areas, made out of one district for each of the twelve tribes living inside their walls.
Despite their ability to raise large structures and quite easily pave roads, the infrastructure of the hightribes is surprisingly bad. At least so it seems. Villages are connected to their neighboring towns by naught but dirt paths, but no road at all connects the towns or cities with each other usually, unless they are founded quite close to each other. Since it barely ever rains, muddy roads are almost never a problem so paving them is likely a waste of time. Blazkul handle some of the transportation of goods and people between towns, but ships handle the grand majority of it. The Arms of Life connect every city and town of a hightribe, making ships the best way to reach them. Large amounts of cargo ships sail and row up and down those rivers in order to deliver persons and goods all year long.
Buildings of interest are noted on each Hightribe's individual page, either on the page of the current owner of on the page of the builder.
In the very, very distance past of Threa, the Blazkul lived solitary or at most in mated pairs. Soon enough mated pairs had to band together, in order to prevent that other pack hunters, like lizogs, or wyvern pairs can harm them. Often duels between the males broke out to settle who was worthy of being the alpha of the group. This kind of structure was beneficial to them, as that gave them strength in numbers against the other packs, as well as the other beasts of the desert. It made hunting and taking care of the young easier. The communal raising of the hatchlings and the role of the females as caretakers and the male role of warrior and hunter has its roots in this distant, distant past. The packs alone already separated by race, because instincts told them to not breed with the other races and see them as threats. But even among the same race they fought and killed. Blazlin and Blazkul did not live together yet, they fought each other wherever they met, as the hunter-gatherer society of the Blazlin was threatened by the Blazkul eating everything.
Constant fighting over suitable spots near the Arms of Life exhausted both Blazlin and -kul almost brought them to the verge of extinction, especially as the numbers of desert wyverns, sand worms and other deadly monsters continued to steadily increase, benefited by the fight between Blazlin and -kul. Blazlin began settling down at this point, or at least tried. Farming and animal husbandry were great ways to support larger populations on a smaller amount of land than hunting could. Unfortunately the beasts kept raiding their food stockpiles and hunted their cattle, which made life hard. Blazkul did not have it much easier either, as their hunting grounds were used up by the other predators of the desert.
The solution to this was working together. Blazkul packs began offering Blazlin settlements to protect them in exchange for meat. This made both sides' lives much easier. Cattle made for a great diet, while Blazkul made for great protectors, especially when assisted by Blazlin longbowmen. Together the Blazlin and -kul managed to scrap together safe, well-fed existences and the first small towns began to form. Now with less time spend on simply surviving, the Blazlin were capable to further technological progress. The use of metal for tools and weapons was discovered rather quickly and the first mines and quarries popped up. The stones were necessary to raise the first small walls, to keep predators out at night and attackers out at day. The Blazkul and Blazlin chieftains had a tense relation. Sometimes the former ate the latter if they had a dispute. Soon enough, Blazkul were seen as so strong by most Blazlin communities that it was clear that they should be the leaders. Not all believed this and resisted; they fought but eventually they died or were subdued.
Due to the territorial nature of the Blazkul packs, they did not allow the Blazlin to peacefully deal with nearby towns, even if they were of the same race. Instead they continued to wage war against each other and even dragged the Blazlin into the conflict, who hoped for loot and glory. Slowly, war became a center piece of their society and culture. People have also tried to explain the world using external, divine powers, but now with the all the fighting and the heat of the desert fire itself, known as the Great Flame, became the deity of a few tribes. This religion began spreading rather quickly, as the fire breathing Blazkul had an easy time seeing such a force of nature as their guiding entity. It also emphasized the Blazkul's position as the leading personalities as well, despite Blazlin having been the first to come up with the cult. This religion among other factors caused the next era.
Multiple tribes of the Fireclaws who warred over the large, northern delta of the central Arm of Life managed to negotiate a peace in roughly 1800 br. Part of this peace was that all of the settlements were never going to fight each other again and work together from now on. Knowing that they would need an instance above their chieftains, they agreed to vote on one leader for all of them and gave him the title "lord", thus basically founding the very first hightribe around 1800 br. As a monument to their unity, they also agreed to build a giant temple - the Great Temple of the Flame. In a years long effort, they hauled large amounts of black stone from the Sacred Land and build the temple. It took them almost a decade to create it and at that time it was likely the greatest surface structure created on Threa. The huts of the tribes that huddled around were nothing compared to it.
Impressed by their might and their great achievements, other tribes sought to join their community. The delta became more and more populated over the centuries. Slowly, even far away towns became part of the sphere of influence of the tribes in the delta. Most of the Fireclaws actually lived at the shores of the Arm of Life east of the central one, so once a few towns there voluntarily joined the Fireclaw hightribe, the realm's influence rapidly began to spread. However, the chieftains became dissatisfied with the fact that a single lord was ruling over them all. Fights broke out and the hightribe threatened to fall apart before it could truly rise. The only way to prevent this was by handing out lord titles to multiple tribes and founding what is nowadays known as the high council. Now the proper hightribe system that still exists today was laid out and in use. Fireclaws were united, strong and lived safe. Similar developments happened to the other races of Blazkul, but they formed multiple smaller power blocks instead of one large one.
The Fireclaw's warbands were numerous and since the infighting mostly stopped, had nothing to do. Hungry for more land to settle on, they set out to eradicate and drive away the other tribes. They were successful even. Due to their lack of unity and thus their lack of an organized defense, the other tribes fell before their blades and claws with ease. Soon enough, the Fireclaws ruled over not only half of the north of the center of the desert, but also over the entire stripe of land east of that. A truly grand empire, which expanse only stopped when the Emberspikes began to form their own hightribe. Now united, the Emberspikes fought back and caused the Fireclaws' expansion in the center to utterly stop. They even managed to conquer the entirety of the southern half of the central desert. Meanwhile, the Firehorns and Blazewhips noticed the usefulness of a big, hierarchical structure like the hightribes and began to adopt it. After some fighting, a few tribes became strong enough to dominate the others and earn the title of lords. Now four hightribes existed and only the Flamewings did not bother uniting yet. All four claimed land and waged small battles against each other, but so far there was still enough territory up for grabs that no one bothered with large wars.
Flamewings still lived in disorganized packs while the others already formed proper political structures. They also did not only populate the desert. Threa's greatest mountain range, known as the Aezrikka Zule, was inhabited by Aezkul communities and Flamewing packs. Due to the violent nature of the latter, these two were not friends and fought over the Zule. Some Aezkul are better fliers, but the Flamewings are simply larger, stronger and possess a far better fire breath. The conflict originated from the feral days of both species. It wasn't until the Wind Kingdoms were founded that the Aezkul gained the upper hand. With united strength, they drove the Flamewings out of the Zule and killed those who did not leave, managing to declare the Zule Flamewing-free in ca. 1100 br. This is also the root of the deep hatred the Flamewings harbor for the Aezkul, even though this event is thousands of years back. Now without their mountain lairs in the Zule, and the threat of expanding hightribes in the desert, the wild Flamewing packs had no choice but unit in a similar matter. Now, in around 1100 br, all five hightribes were founded. The year of this event, despite the presence of a written language, can't be perfectly pinned down, as the Flamewings did not bother writing it down.
- First Temple of Flame (ca. 1800 br)
- Fireclaw Hightribe Founded (ca. 1800 br)
- Flamewing Hightribe Founded (ca. 1100 br)
Even though unifying helped the gathering and distribution of food and quelled some of the chaotic fighting, it caused the Blazkul to strive to grow larger and further. After many centuries of growing and only little fighting, overpopulation and the lack of a common foe started to become a real problem for the hightribes. Slowly, the hightribes threatened to break under internal strife. Skirmishes and raids against other hightribes became way more common, but they just made the food problem worse. Times became more and more dire; starvation finally drove them into their first proper war. Beforehand, it was simply too hard to get all the lords to agree to dedicating all their forces to a single campaign. Promises of food and glory got them to finally agree, and the first ever warlord was elected and put into place. Interestingly enough, it started with Flamewings hit-and-run attacking cities of the Fireclaws in 378 br in order to breach in and steal food. The Fireclaws retaliated by forming an actual army and marching into the Flamewing territory. The Emberspikes saw their chance at taking a lot of land and invaded the Fireclaws and Blazewhips at once. The Blazewhips, being one of the weaker tribe at this point, offered the Fireclaws to invade the Emberspikes from the other side. The offer was accepted and total war ensued; it was a bloody massacre. It all got worse when the Firehorns joined and attacked the Blazewhips. A way to make crude iron was invented during this war, giving the Fireclaws an edge at first until the Emberspikes copied the methods. In the end, no one gained anything but a high death toll, because the fighting was too unorganized to keep a grasp on anything. It wasn't until the fighting began to leave the tribes vulnerable to dying to beasts and the lack of farmhands for the fields that the wars ended. No peace was negotiated, the fighting just kind of became less and less, until it was back to skirmishes and raiding again. Most historians see the failed Emberspike Siege of Stonetown, a Fireclaw city, in 367 br as the last battle of the war. As part of the aftermath, every hightribe started forming more organized and better equipped armies. They also began to fortify their large cities better, seeing that even if a raid was fended off, it left most cities as burning ruins with destroyed stockpiles.
During the first war the Firehorns, having been keen on taking land from the Blazewhips without any interference, made a non-aggression pact with the Emberspikes so that they may both focus on their respective foes without worrying about each other. Because of this the Firehorns saw the Emberspikes as friends. Extreme tectonic activity in the western half of the Sacred Lands in 275 ar caused an extremely strong earthquake to utterly destroy both capitals of the Firehorns. Both of their primary temples were destroyed as well and their flames went out. It was a time of crisis so bad, that the Firehorns elected a warlord who should manage the aftermath of the disaster. Lord Truckza Tal Firehorn was chosen by his people for this position. The Firehorns asked their Emberspike 'friends' for a bit of fire from the Great Temple but they did not wish to share. Enraged, Truckza sent forth a group of warriors, including his own hutbrother, to storm the Emberspike's temple in their southern capital and extinguish their flame after taking some for themselves. They spilled blood in the Emberspike's temple - a terrible act - and didn't even manage to get the flame. Their assaulting force was soundly beaten by the Emberspike defenders. Now the Firehorns were known as Flamestealers and considered heretics by the priests.
Enraged by this act and encouraged by the priests, all four hightribes united in a coalition against the heretics and waged a bloody genocidal war against them, which began in 275 ar. At first, they tried to fight the Firehorns separately, without uniting their armies. This meant that they were not able to use numerical superiority against the Firehorns, who simply fought every single one of their armies one on one. Thanks to their strategic and tactical wit, the Firehorns won the first couple of battles gloriously. Truckza Tal's mission to acquire a bit of the temple flame might have failed, but his war plans were proving to be a success. Desperate for something or someone to trust in, the Firehorns trust in Truckza. The priests denounced him, saying that he encouraged his people to heretical acts, that the true followers of the Flame will slay them all if they do not seek to replace their warlord. After the priests made their position clear, Truckza had all of them culled. He announced afterwards that apparently the Flame is naught but a false deity, for his people will stand and fight even against the worst odds instead of throwing themselves into the dirt before the other hightribes.
Unfortunately, the hightribes now began to form a great army, consisting of troops from all coalition members. It was large and had great success at first. They easily captured almost the entire southern half of the Firehorn territory. It wasn't until they stood at the gates of the still ruined southern capital that an end to their victories came into sight. The southern capital would have never survived an assault with its ruined walls, gates and exhausted defenders. Truckza Tal, who back then also received the title "The Enlightener", ordered the assassination of the battlelords. His Daggers successfully infiltrated the field camps of the hightribes and killed their leaders. Each hightribe blamed the other and soon enough they began fighting a large battle right outside the walls of the Firehorns. It left all four sides horribly wounded. Once they were weakened enough, Truckza marched out at the head of his army and demanded to talk with the warlords of the hightribes. They refused and paid with their lives. In 277 ar, after said battle, the coalition was broken and the war over. No hightribe bothered to attack the Firehorns again, as they were too busy being wary of the other hightribes. The Firehorns now bunkered down in their land, began building fortifications and looked for alternatives to the desert when it came to increasing their influence and population. Truckza Tal remained warlord until he died, as it was his cunning that ensured the survival of his people. Because they were the closest nation nearby, the Blazewhips managed to hold the southern half of the Firehorn territory and even today still own the largest amount of ground.
Almost two centuries of peace followed during which the hightribes licked their wounds and prospered. Of course the hightribes still raided each other's towns and waged battles now and then, but no warlord was elected and no military campaigns executed. It was peaceful, for Blazkul standards. Unlike the first war, the war against the Firehorns didn't exhaust the hightribes completely. They still had a lot of warriors and resources left afterwards, which meant that the next war would not be all that far away. A couple inventions were sure to make it even bloodier than the last - proper steel and war machines, such as ballistas.
Emberspikes alone called war against the Fireclaws and their Blazewhip allies by invading the latter at the end of 461 ar. That attack was nothing but bait, meant to lure the two nations into attacking their common foe. It was all part of Warlord Kilro Trek's plan, who intended to make the Emberspikes the strongest hightribe of the five. Having seen war machines in use on the newly built Desert Horns of the Firehorns, the Emberspikes' capable craftsmen copied these deadly machines to further the cause of their hightribe. The Fireclaws and Blazewhips, seeing an easy victory in their numerical superiority, marched straight at the southern capital of the Emberspikes, thinking they would easily beat them and put a final end to them. It led to the worst military defeat the Fireclaws and Blazewhips ever experienced. They assaulted the fortified city with war cries and reckless abandon, only to be decimated by bolts and stones launched by ballistas from the city walls. The counter attack of the Emberspikes was horrible; they took the northern central capital of the Fireclaws, nowadays known as Victor's Home, and forced them to sign a peace treaty. Part of said treaty was to give said capital and any other piece of land the Fireclaws' owned near the Central Arm of Life to the Emberspikes. The Firehorns took no part in this war, but bunkered down, gathering their strength for the next. The Flamewings, always the opportunists, took no side; they raided what they could, stealing everything they could get in their claws during the havoc. Since this war wasn't much of a genocide, but rather a relatively quick strategic victory, many more Blazkul remained after this war than the first.
The peace treaty secured peace for barely a decade. It was a shaky peace, which was sometimes disrupted by small scale raids from any of the three involved hightribes on one another. Soon enough those raids caused the treaty to be forgotten, and the usual violence between the Fireclaws, Blazewhips, and Emberspikes continued. The treaty was never meant to create lasting peace in the first place, but simply bought time for the Blazewhips and Fireclaws to secure the land they were left with, and at least prepare to defend them to the last drop. Once the usual hostilities broke out again, none of the three sides began a new big war. The Fireclaws and Blazewhips simply did not have the resources or manpower to do so. They still had and have huge amounts of land after all, so they preferred to stick with what they have instead of risking it, too. For the Emberspikes the reason to not continue their conquest was a different one - infighting. Having acquired vast amounts of territory, arguments and fights broke out who gets to keep what. Duels among chieftains and lords, and even small scale battles between tribes became common for a while, until the disputes were settled and the strongest tribes acquired their spots in the new northern capital of the Emberspikes. It distracted the entire hightribe, busied their Warlord Kilro, and consumed resources, so they weren't able to march against neither the Fireclaws nor Blazewhips for a while.
The Flamewings and Firehorns never ceased their own hostilities against the others, since they were not included in the treaty. It never became peaceful enough as that one could consider the Age of War to be at an end. The end of the fighting was and is not yet even in sight. In order to supply larger populations, the Firehorns began trading with the other nations for grain. This development actually began shortly after the War of the Flame, but it truly took off before the Second War. After the Second War the Firehorns actually had to execute a military intervention outside of the desert to ensure that their main grain supplier - the Gren Kingdom - wouldn't fall to the Sokan Empire. Treztown, a city state located in a defensible valley, received a section worth of warriors under the command of Battlesteerer Urzik Glazirik, who in turn was under the command of Battlelord Aruk Glazuruk. The later had two other battlesteerers next to Urzik under him, but it took a while for the two sections to arrive in Treztown to assist it while it was being sieged. Said siege began the Great War of the North in 467 ar. Once it was over, in ??? ar, the Firehorns had their sections return home. More details on this war can be found on the pages of the Sokan Empire, the Gren Kingdom and Treztown.
- First War (378 br - 367 br)
- Crime of the Firehorns (275 ar)
- War of the Flame (275 ar - 277 ar)
- Second War (461 ar - 464 ar)
With the advancements in agriculture and the population growth caused by it, a third war is likely on the horizon. Only three hundred years have passed since the last one. It will likely be way bloodier than the previous two. The Fireclaws yearn for their position at the top of the Hightribes, the Blazewhips wish to assist and become more than a blockade for the Firehorns, the Flamewings are thirsting for blood and loot, and the Firehorns feel ready to strike back and take more than just their previous territory into their own claws. Meanwhile the mighty Emberspikes make their own plans to perhaps rule more than just their own hightribe. More on the current situation of the hightribes and their goals on their individual pages.
Kilro Trek Emberspike: Emberspike warlord who came up with the idea on how to defeat the Fireclaws. He thought of the plan himself and was allowed to stay in charge for an entire two decades after the war, having impressed his entire race with his unbelievably quick strategic victory.
Truckza Tal Firehorn the Enlightener: Firehorn warlord who decided to steal the flame. He was elected due to his ferocity and unmatched determination. Only he had the courage to send a unit of Firehorns, led by one of his hutbrothers, to capture a bit of flame. The operation was a failure, but that did not lessen his reputation, for he interpreted it as the Flame having abandoned them and caused the Firehorns to stop believing in the Great Flame. He stayed their leader during the following war of survival. He led his armies with great strategical and tactical wit, making sure that the Firehorns did not go extinct and also took steps to destabilize the alliance of the other hightribes, so that they may offer them a peace treaty, if one that hurt. He was titled the Enlightener, for having freed the Blazlin from their lower social status and having moved his people away from the religion around the Flame. After the war he stayed warlord of the Firehorns until his death, which makes him the first warlord who ever received such an honor.