The Sozlin tribes are not a singular, unified nation. Each is an individual, sovereign entity, that's generally led by a chieftain and a council off elders. Yet all of them belong to the same cultural group, which is why they all share a single page. Most tribes are located on the western coasts of the Forest Lands, especially on the shores of the Great Bay. All islands west of the Forest Lands are also inhabited by Sozlin communities. There are also a few that live far from the others on the coasts of the Great Savannah and even the Boreal Zone. The distance has led them to stray away from the general norm; they might behave quite differently than the common tribe and might even have different believes. Overall, the Sozlin are a simple, peaceful people, who simply want to survive and enjoy their life. That's true for most of them anyway.
The foundation of Sozlin society is a communal agreement to work with each other to ensure the survival of the tribe. It's seen as very important to cooperate, which is evident in Sozlin sayings such as "One lin can catch a fish with a spear, two lin can catch a swarm with a net". Sozlin are also very caring. They even care for tribe members who cannot care for themselves any longer, like the sick and elderly. It's simply seen as the right thing to do. However, everyone is supposed to contribute whatever they can and as long as they can. While an old hunter may not be able to chase prey anymore, he can at least teach baiting techniques, for example. Another important responsibility of the elders is telling the tales of their ancestors, so they are never forgotten. These stories must be orally passed down from generation to generation so the young ones have examples to look up to. They shan't become lazy! Laziness is seen as a vile trait that can only lead to a tribe's downfall. Able-bodied members who refuse to contribute are forced to work or disowned.
In spite of their very cooperative and social nature, competition and playful rivalry is also a large part of Sozlin society. It drives the Sozlin to become better at what they do. Fisher crews compete for the biggest haul, thus end up developing new fishing techniques to outdo each other. Meanwhile a hunter attempts to slay more Sozkul in his life than the next and, in the process, figures out the best way to bait them. Even simple activities can be turned into a friendly competition, such as swimming and climbing, which improves the physique of the Sozlin involved. These competitions are approved of by the elders, since they inspire the young Sozlin to improve themselves, which greatly benefits the tribe. Males as well as females compete; sexism isn't prevalent among Sozlin tribes.
But what is a Sozlin tribe exactly? A Sozlin tribe is essentially a group of Sozlin families that work together and are led by a single, common leader - the chieftain. Sozlin tribes live in fortified, stationary settlements. Each tribe has a single village and controls the land around it. Tribes stake out their territory by setting up totems, carving symbols into trees, or painting symbols onto rocks. Sozlin settlements are permanent, because fishing grounds rarely change, so the Sozlin have little reason to migrate. As long as the land sustains them and nothing threatens them that they can't handle they will remain where they are until their tribe or their settlement has been destroyed. Yet Sozlin don't necessarily like spending their whole life in the same location. Wandering to see a bit of the world or visiting other tribes is nothing unusual, but in most cases Sozlin return home after a short timespan. Home is where the heart is, where family and friends await. However, for the Sozlin, unlike the Blazkul, the tribe is not a substitute family which they unconditionally love. Some families of the same tribe may not even like each other, yet they stick together because it benefits them and simply out of tradition. Nevertheless, feuds and large arguments are very rare. If Sozlin don't like each other, they simply stay out of each other's way to avoid getting into a an argument. They aren't a confrontational people, unless they get into a competition.
If they do end up arguing, then Sozlin usually settle the matter with words, sometimes with the help of an elder or even the chieftain. It is rare that an argument turns into a fight or even a duel, but it is possible. When Sozlin duel each other they do not use weapons, because they don't want to harm each other. They use their fists, feet, and tails; they practically wrestle! Whoever is pressed to the ground for a few continued seconds first loses. There are rules set in place that ensure that neither of the two duelists is harmed permanently by the fight. One of these rules is that they have to wear leather gloves and shoes that cover their claws. A wrestling duel is a very refined process. Some Sozlin even take a liking to this kind of combat and do it for sport. It has become a good way to show off one's strength, especially to potential partners. Some wrestles, who have beaten everyone willing in their own tribe, even wander away to visit other tribes to challenge their champion.
When it comes to beginning relationships, it is the males who usually play the active role, but females may and sometimes do so as well. To woo potential partners Sozlin show off how good they could provide for their own family, for example by proving how well they fish or hunt. The various competitions they partake in can also impress the members of the opposite sex. However, it isn't all about being the best at everything. Emotions play a large role as well and other people do not influence the choice of partner, beyond giving well-meant advice. If two Sozlin get together simply depends on their feelings for each other. Sozlin also aren't prudes; it's not uncommon for Sozlin to only have temporary relationships or even to copulate just for the fun of it. However, if a couple wants to have children, and they usually do, then they bond for life, because children the responsibility of their parents. Bonding with partners of the same sex is allowed, but many see it as weird thing and people who do it rarely make it obvious.
As mentioned before, each Sozlin tribe is its own sovereign entity. Thus Sozlin tribes engage in diplomatic relations with each other that range from friendship to war. Thanks to their very similar cultural backgrounds and their shared believes, the Sozlin tribes get along rather well, which is why friendships are much, much more common than hostilities. The tribes actually like to interact with each other a lot. Some tribes even regularly go on large fishing trips together to make sure both tribes get enough food and to maintain a lasting bond. Sometimes, thanks to the playfully competitive nature of the Sozlin society, these fishing trips turn into a contest. Competitions between tribes are quite common; some even agree on regular wrestling matches between the tribes' champions. These events lead to a lot of socializing between the members of these tribes.
The basis of survival for all Sozlin tribes are the seas. Land doesn't provide much for the Sozlin; they don't practice agriculture beyond growing herbs and vegetables and gardens and keeping goats and chickens in their villages. Agriculture, beyond maintaining vegetable and herb gardens and keeping chickens and goats, isn't practiced It's the seas that provide for the Sozlin, thus they are a defining aspect of their culture. They build rafts and fishing boats to travel and work on the water, but it's an exaggeration to call them great seafarers. Their vessels are too fragile to enter blue waters, so they stay in coastal waters. Thanks to the invention of the sail, their ships are quick at least. Despite never having gone on the oceans, the Sozlin are avid explorers. Most islands that are close to the coasts they inhabit have been found and colonized by Sozlin tribes. These settlements are the most peaceful there are, being almost completely isolated from the dangers of the mainland.
Sozlin may not be big on animal husbandry, but some have managed to tame wild animals and adopt them as companions. Domesticated wolves can be trained to be great guard dogs to keep wild animals at bay and guard food outside of the village's palisade. While the Sozlin's connection to nature may not be as strong as that of Truzlin, they still appreciate nature and develop emotional bonds to their pets.
Given their simple way of life, it makes sense that the Sozlin have a simple social ladder. One's standing in society depends solely on one's competence and achievements, such as winning competitions. Bloodline doesn't matter at all, neither does gender. Age does matter. Sozlin respect their elders and value their wisdom, but they don't mindlessly obey them.
At the very top of the social ladder is the chieftain. They are of medium age, combine an experienced mind with an able body. Tasked with leading their tribe's hunts, they must also be a competent hunter and fighter. In a few cases, the chieftain isn't necessarily on the highest step of the social ladder. Sozlin who proved to be extraordinary in competitions can outdo the chieftain when it comes to popularity. However, they may not be able to best the chieftain when it comes to wit and experience, which is why they may not be good chieftains themselves. Basically, chieftains must be good at many different things at once. Achieving this is a deed worthy of respect, so Sozlin look up to them.
Right beneath the chieftain are the elders. Their knowledge and judgment is highly valued, hence they are often called upon to settle disputes. Elders are cared for by the entire tribe, no matter how old and helpless they become, since they have done their part for the tribe when they were younger. When chieftains become too old and frail they've to retire and become part of the elders as well. Former chieftains are the most revered elders.
On the next step are the average people, the common tribe members. They rank among each other based on their usefulness and reputation. Hunters and fishers are held in high regards, because they feed the tribe with what they catch, but even someone who just makes excellent pots or nets can be well known among the tribe for their work. All that matters is that they are good at something that helps the tribe or is generally approved of.
Rock bottom of the social ladder is populated by criminals and people who refuse to work. Troublemakers and lazy good-for-nothings are exiled very quickly. Hard crimes, such as murder or rape, are punished with death, to ensure that the perpetrators are not going to be a hazard in the future. Common ways to get rid of them are beheading them or impaling them with a spear. Their bodies are just throw into the waters, so they at least feed the fishes. Slavery isn't consider an alternative punishment because the Sozlin loathe slavery. Either one works voluntarily or they can try to survive on their own in the wilderness.
Sozlin hatch in the homes of their parents. Although the parents are the main caretakers, they do temporarily hand their children to other members of the tribe when they require free time to join the fishermen or hunters. Especially older, infertile women often take care of the little ones of others. Childhood among the Sozlin isn't easy. As soon as they can walk, the little ones have to assist. At first they only have to run errands; they've to bring tools and materials wherever they are needed. Just a few years later they already start to try to learn a primitive craft, like weaving baskets or knitting nets. Elders teach them these things. Learning such skills can be combined with learning about other things; often an entire group of children will be knitting a net or learn another craft while an elder tells them the history of the tribe.
When they are roughly seven to nine years old, they are a bit taller and stronger then, they are allowed to join the fishers on their trips. Spearfishing is the first lesson; fishing with a net from a raft's deck is the second one. Many also learn how to sail and steer a boat. Navigation isn't taught, because the Sozlin don't know much about it. After all, they never move far away from the shore, so every target they could reach is easy to get to, for example by following the coastline. At the age of twelve they are considered juveniles and old enough to follow the hunters. The children prepare themselves for their first hunt by play fighting with blunt sticks and improving their physique, usually by engaging in activities like running in races or climbing cliffs. The hunters show the juveniles how to hunt near the shore and in the woods. Usually they go after giant crabs, various herbivores, or huge insects. Once the children have acquired some experience they're taught how to hunt the most dangerous yet rewarding beasts of the coast - Sozkul. Some initiates do not return from their first Sozkul-hunt. Fortunately, no one is required to go on a Sozkul hunt; it is merely a prestigious act. Those who return from their first Sozkul-hunt with a trophy are bound to become the primary topic of the tribe for a while. Finding a partner will be easy for them.
After a Sozlin has learned how to hunt and fish and reached the age of fourteen they're considered an adult. They still try to acquire more skills and become better at whatever craft they decided to pick up. They will continue to work for their tribe and family until they become too old and frail to. Then they are an elder and assist their tribe with words of wisdom and tales of the past. Due to illnesses and dangerous beasts, it's rare that a Sozlin grows very old. Many die between the ages of 40 and 60. This makes elders even more rare and thus valuable.
Sozlin consider the two moons of Threa to be deities and call them"Yrun". According to their beliefs, it is the circles of the Yrun that determine the behavior of fish and dictate the seasons. The moons are a couple; the large one - Yra - is female, while the small one - Yro - is male. Threa was not created by these two, but was simply always there, and at first it was cast in everlasting darkness. Through their love and union the Yrun created the sun. The Sozlin see the sun as a gift that shines even brighter than the Yrun themselves, but they do not consider the sun to be a deity as well. The sun illuminated the world, which made the Yrun aware of how devoid of life it is. Being saddened by this, the Yrun created life. They first created the creatures of the sea, because water is the natural domain of the Yrun. But the light of the sun attracted the creatures of the water; they began crawling on land to be closer to it. Among these beasts that emerged from the waters were the Sozlin, the chosen people of the Yrun. The couple in the night sky wanted its chosen people to thrive and so gave them ways to catch the creatures of the seas. While the sun made life possible with its warm light, its permanent presence also tired the creatures and gave them no moment of rest. What's even worse is that the bright sun prevented that the dim Yrun could be seen! Sozlin weren't even aware of their own gods' existence. To show themselves to their people and grant them and their creatures rest, the Yrun started regularly chasing away the sun, thus creating the circle of day and night. Hence days are used to work, to thrive, while nights are used to rest or worship the moons.
The Yrun are watchful gods; they look upon their creation every night. The primary rules the Yrun put down are that Sozlin have to live in accordance with nature, must not kill senselessly, and have to respect the seas. As a result, Sozlin have many ceremonies and rituals that show their appreciation for the waters and what lives within them. Sacrifices to the Yrun are commonly involved in these rituals. As a consequence of their beliefs, one should never fish more than they need and wasting food is seen as a vile act. However, the need of a tribe is only sated when the stockpiles are full with salted fish, not simply when everyone had enough to eat that day. Stockpiling isn't a waste, after all. Another way to praise the Yrun is improving one's skills. Trying to become the best at one's skills pleases Yro and Yra, who want to see their Sozlin thrive, which adds a religious component to the friendly competitions between the Sozlin. Another common way to show devotion to the Yrun is by making various figures out of wood or bone that represent the moons or creatures of the sea.
Given how religiously the Sozlin watch the moons, it's no surprise that they learned their circles: Yro is full every season, while Yra is full once a year. Among each tribe that believes in the Yrun there is at least one Sozlin that knows how to read them to figure out when fishing will be the most rewarding. This person is known as the Sulan Yrun, which roughly translates to Reads-Moons. They tend to be the wisest and most intelligent elder of the tribe. The Sulan Yrun has an important position among the society, but is not treated with overly special care. They are appreciated, well respected, and given what they need to survive, so they can focus on reading the moons and preparing rituals. However, the Sulan Yrun is not seen as a Sozlin who has a special connection to the Yrun, merely as a reader of their position and intend. Every Sozlin has a connection to the Yrun and it is at its strongest when they dance or take part in religious rituals. The Sulan Yrun is tasked with conducting these rituals and memorizing how to do them properly. Another field of mysticism the Sulan Yrun discovered for themselves is reading the stars and various other little details to predict one's future - fortune telling. Not all Sulan Yrun claim to have this power.
To become a Sulan Yrun one has to be noticed and taken in by the current Sulan Yrun, who will then become their mentor. Apprentices learn how to read the Yrun and how to prepare the rituals. They also learn how to craft various figurines and trinkets dedicated to their gods. Herbalism isn't part of the curriculum. Sulan Yrun and their apprentices are dedicated to study the moons and the seas, not how to treat wounds or heal other ailments. Once the current Sulan Yrun dies, their apprentice takes over their role immediately. They are granted the former Sulan Yrun's religious items, adding them to their own collection. After multiple generations, Sulan Yrun become quite richly decorated in spiritual trinkets, amulets, and similar. Some attach these to a robe made out of fur or fish skins to display them.
Sozlin celebrations usually revolve around a generation coming of age, a successful hunt, or a great catch. The latter two events create an abundance of food, perhaps even more than the tribe can stockpile. Letting it rot would be a waste, so the only logical solution is to eat as much of it as possible at once! Many Sozlin holidays also depend on the status of the moons. Thanks to living in permanent settlements and the abundance of food provided by their environment. Sozlin have enough time on their hands to organize proper feasts with food and entertainment.
When a Sozlin dies their body is returned to the sea. It shall feed the creatures of the seas in return for them having nourished the Sozlin. This pleases the Yrun; it is in accordance with their laws. Sozlin return their deceased to the seas by putting them on small rafts which they push away from the shore. These rafts are supposed to sink somewhere far away from the shore, so the Sozlin do not have to witness how their dead relative or friend is being torn apart and fed on. The ceremonial act of sending away the raft happens at night, when both moons shine upon the mourning community. Before they send the corpse on its way, close relatives give a small speech. They speak about the dead, how they influenced their life, what deeds they accomplished, and so on and so forth. Then they untie the raft and shove it towards the water. After surrendering the dead to the sea, the Sozlin mourn them by remaining quiet for the rest of the day, devoting their thoughts to them. Feasts and celebrations are not part of the rites that accompany funerals in Sozlin culture. Death is a sad occasion. Loved ones of the deceased commonly gather to share time together to help each other overcome the loss.
Sozlin believe that they become one of the stars in the night sky after they die, joining the Yrun up in the heavens. Each star stands for a lineage. From the stars, the ancestors watch their descendants to ensure that they stick to the right path. This further encourages Sozlin to deliver peak performances to please their ancestors so that they allow them entry to their family's paradise in the star. Inside the paradise, the Sozlin will never have to worry about food or predators again. It's the perfect place to live, created by the Yrun to reward those who manage to thrive on Threa. The Sulan Yrun can help a Sozlin find the star of their lineage, so that they can look up to it and praise it and the ancestors that live within it.
In the middle of spring, between the 4th and 14th week, the fish swarms near the shore are extremely numerous, because it's breeding season for them. There's plenty to catch and the Sozlin fishers bring home more fish than the tribe could possibly eat! The huge surplus of fish sparks festive feasts, because the Sozlin couldn't even salt all the fish they catch, so they have to get rid of all the food by eating it. It's a good time, one that reminds the hardy Sozlin of the good things in life. Since less has to be spend on fishing, the Weeks of Fishing allow the Sozlin to spend more time with their loved ones and on any passions they have.
Of course the Yrun must be thanked for the bountiful food. Sacrifices appear to be the most appropriate way. Sozlin try to slay Sozkul to offer them to the Yrun by feeding the corpses to the ocean. This of course is a feast for the local fish swarms. Energized and well-fed, many fish reach the breeding grounds and reproduce. Many new fish will enter the world as a result, which in turn increases how many fish can and will be caught. In other words, the Sozlin, without really realizing it, actively support the ecosystem they rely on by feeding it. Unfortunately, an increased amount of fish also means there's more Sozkul around. More Sozkul mean more trouble for the Sozlin.
The Day of Creation occurs exactly in the middle of the year, when both Yro and Yra are completely full and shine brightly in the night sky. It's very important that the Sulan Yrun reads the Yrun and stars carefully so that they may figure out the night this spectacle happens. Missing it would spell bad fortune for the tribe! Some Sulan Yrun have began keeping track of how many days pass between one Day of Creation and the next and realized that the amount of days is always same. They basically invented a form of calendar or at least a way to count the years. The meaning of this holiday is quite simple: The Yrun are shining brightly, they gathered their full strength, and that can only mean that they are creating more life. According to the Sozlin, the Yrun still create more fish and other creatures, but it happens only during this very night. Religious ceremonies and sacrifices take place on this night thus, to convince the Yrun to increase the number of edible aquatic creatures. Naturally the whole tribe partakes in this festival.
It all begins with the Sulan Yrun gathering the whole tribe, save for a few sentries, on the village's strip of coast. Once everyone is present, the Sulan Yrun begins the ceremony with a welcoming speech. For the Sozlin this holiday marks the start of a new year, so the Sulan Yrun speaks of the passing year, summarizing it, and also of the tribe's best and other noteworthy people. Afterwards he speaks of the coming year and how this day the Yrun must be praised to ensure it will be a good one.
Now begins the sacrificial part of the ceremony. The tribe members begin chanting. While they chant, a few chosen people carry the sacrifices for this night to the elders. Usually the sacrifices consist of Sozkul remains, fish, other sea food, and various animals of the land. After inspecting the offerings, the Sulan Yrun orders the tribe to embark. Everyone boards the tribe's various vessels, taking the sacrifices along. The ceremonial fleet heads out to open water. Burning oil bowls and torches illuminate the waters and the religiously decorated ships as they form a circle in the middle of the night. This is quite a gorgeous spectacle. All tribes do it at once, so they can see each other as small, dim dots in the distance. It creates a feeling of unity among the tribes that share these traditions and the faith in the Yrun; they are with each other in spirit.
Once the ritualistic circle of ships is assembled, the Sulan Yrun prays to the Yrun, speaking loud enough so all present tribe members can hear him. Then the sacrifices are thrown into the sea. Meanwhile the Sozlin chant and play various instruments and the Sulan Yrun prays to the Yrun for full nets and successful hunts. Some people make small, personal sacrifices on their own and ask for the resolution of private issues. After this phase of sacrifices is done, which can easily take an hour, the gathering heads back to shore and the people return to their village.
After gathering everyone in the village, the Sulan Yrun officially ends the ceremony. However, the celebrations aren't over yet, at least not the private ones. Instead of having a great feast that involves the whole tribe, the Sozlin gather in small groups consisting of relatives and friends. Together they eat and drink, share stories of the passing year, and listen to the tales of their elders. Another Sozlin tradition is to think about what achievements they want to accomplish in the coming year, basically think about new year's resolutions. Over the course of the night, the parties disband. By the time the sun rises again, everyone is usually already asleep.
The seas play a major role in every Sozlin's life, so of course depictions of aquatic life are very common. Some symbols are just pretty, the Sozlin do appreciate decorated homes and items, but many also carry a meaning. A Mazkul can stand for hunting, while a Sozkul can stand for lazy fishers who still catch the biggest fish. Azkul usually stand for terror and fear, because that's what they tend to instill in fishers that meet them out at sea. Nautical and tribal symbols (rafts, canoes, spears, and huts) also play a big role. Spears are connected more with hunting and fishing than war, because the Sozlin don't wage many. Huts and hearths stand for home and thus for the community of the tribe. The moons, in all their configurations, are also common symbols the Sozlin use. The general shapes they use the most are clearly circles like full moons and curvy lines like the waves of the sea.
In their free time some Sozlin like to busy themselves by creating pretty ornaments, like figurines which depict the symbols mentioned above, out of bones, teeth, or wood. They also like to add embellishments to their spears and ships. Usually Sozlin even grow rather attached to their personal spears and hand them down to their oldest children as heirlooms. Spears that have been handed down many generations sometimes tell the tale of a lineage, because each new owner engraved his or her achievements and deeds into it. The best example is the tribe's chieftain spear. It's richly decorated and speaks of great feats the tribe as a whole has accomplished. However, the runes and symbols do not actually spell out anything. They just help the Sozlin remember the tales they have been told. Ships are the property of the whole tribe and hence decorated by everyone. Dyed sails, engraved planks, and masts embellished with ribbons are a common sight, especially during celebrations.
Another object that Sozlin invest a lot of effort into are their tribal totems. These totems are used to mark the border of a tribe's territory. Tribes always let their best wood carvers produce them and try to richly decorate the totems with trophies of hunts and fishing trips. After all, the totems are what visitors will see first when they enter the territory of the tribe and first impressions matter! Sozlin enjoy competition, so newcomers must be shown right away that the tribe living in the area is competent and good at what they do. However, they do not want to scare strangers, so they never use parts of lin or Wolshaks to decorate the totems. They do show off trophies, but they try to do so in a non-threatening manner. Totems can even be a way for two tribes to communicate, especially if they are hostile to each other. Placing a prepared meal next to a neighboring tribe's totem is understood as an invitation for dinner to settle matters.
Sozlin also like to decorate themselves with jewelry made out of organic materials. Wearing necklaces or bracelets made out of teeth, shells, or bones is common. Clothing is not; Sozlin only wear clothes when it's cold. Then they wear thick garments fashioned from hides and furs. They do use functional clothing, such as leather harnesses, backpacks, and belts. Sozlin clothing doesn't look good or appears very well made. It isn't meant to please the eyes and the Sozlin simply lack the skills and tools to do better. Body paint also isn't common, because salt water washes it off too easily. When visiting cultures in which being nude is considered indecent Sozlin do wear clothes, if only enough to fit in.
Beyond carving things into or out of wood and bones and applying dye or engravings to various items to make them prettier, Sozlin don't possess many creative skills. They do make music, because it's needed for festivities and religious rituals. Playing instruments is the preferred way to make music. Sozlin play on drums and chimes. Their instruments are made out of wood, bones, and animal hides. Musicians among the Sozlin see their skill as a passion. Instead of just simply producing a beat, some try to compose rough melodies by using multiple instruments at once, basically creating a rudimentary drum set out of sea shells, bones, and whatever else makes a nice noise when struck with a stick or femur. While the musicians create music, the others dance together as a group, usually while standing in a circle around a fire.
It's no surprise that the Sozlin primarily eat sea food. Fish, shellfish, sea urchins, various water plants; the list of edible things one can find in the seas is very long. The Sozlin aren't picky and eat anything that isn't poisonous and completely revolting. Fish organs can make a good stew, especially when mixed with the vegetables they grow in their small gardens. Due to their settled lives and the abundance of food, Sozlin have had more time and resources to experiment a bit with cooking than other primitive societies. They are good at combining various herbs, salt, various kinds of seafood, and vegetables to create delicious and nutritious meals. They even create dips based on mammal fat or eggs for their fish. However, making proper meals takes time so they primarily do it when they expect visitors or for important occasions such as holidays. Smoking or salting fish are known ways to make it last. However, since fishing is good year round, there's rarely a reason to preserve it.
The Sozlin have their own language, called Soz, but they do not have a writing system. They do have runes that represent certain concepts, such as 'danger', 'help', or 'supplies'. These vary from region to region. Soz is rather clipped with hard-spoken, short words. Many Sozlin who speak other languages often have an accent where they cut out parts of words, making them seem and feel shorter and more comfortable to their tongue. The language isn't very complex and is one of the easiest to learn; the Sozlin prefer to use as few words as possible to express a point, especially since they don't have many words to begin with. More complex words are formed by combining existing ones. Many As, Ls, Ns, and Us are used in their language.
Due the relatively low amount of communication between the individual Sozlin tribes, one tribe may have words another does not, but the most noticeable difference exists between Sozlin of the east and west. Eastern Soz and Western Soz can be considered dialects. Western Soz is closer to the roots of the language. Eastern Soz has been heavily influenced by Gren, Trez, and the various languages that were spoken in the east before the Sokan Empire conquered it. In the past the speakers of Eastern Soz were Sozlin traders or migrations. Nowadays they're all slaves within the Sokan Empire. Sozlin living in Treztown either speak Trez or Western Soz.
Common phrases and figures of speech of the Sozlin tribes are: "May the Yrun watch over you" (Good night), "Plenty of fish shall fill your net!" (Long form of good luck), "Beware of ripples in the water" (Watch out, be cautious), "If you can have a lake, why settle for a river?" (Words of encouragement), and other fishing and moon related sayings.
A Sozlin is given a name by their parents at hatching, but they may change it later if they figure out a more fitting one. Their name usually revolves around their skills. A very strong Sozlin might be called Crushes-Boulders, for example. Other examples are Brings-Smiles, Catches-Many-Fish, Feeds-Hungry-Birds, or the name of the famous Stalks-Two-Moons. To note, the name Feeds-Hungry-Birds is negatively connoted, because feeding birds is seen as a waste.
A common Sozlin tribe is led by two institutions - the chieftain and the elder council. The chieftain is usually the tribe's most competent and wisest hunter. They are supposed to be old enough to be experienced, yet young enough to be able-bodied. An ideal chieftain combines peak physical condition with wit. Wisdom comes with age, but the chieftain mustn't be old and frail. Hence chieftains are not expected to be wise. Wisdom is offered by the elder council, which consists of however many elders the tribe deems appropriate to have. Most commonly the elder council consists of three to six elders, among which is always the last chieftain. The former chieftain is the most important elder and supposed to assist the current chieftain with their experience.
The chieftain has almost absolute power over the tribe. One of the powers he does not have is the power to judge. Only the council of elders may judge criminals and breakers of traditions. Given that they live in a tightly knit community, the chieftain will listen to the input of their people and make their decisions based on what they consider best for them, not for the chieftain. Of course the elders also counsel him. The two most important duties are to lead the hunters when they go on dangerous hunts and the warriors when they go war. They are supposed to lead by example. They should also be selfless; the chieftain is the first one to charge the beast and the last one to leave the hunting grounds, unless they want to risk being considered a coward and unfit for their position. As a result, chieftains don't become very old in many cases but those who do become revered elders.
A tribe's chieftain is elected. The entire tribe gathers when a new chieftain has to be picked. Candidates can be proposed by others or propose themselves, and then the tribe discusses long and loudly which candidate is the best. Often the debate lasts well into the night. The successful election of a new chieftain is celebrated with a small feast, during which he or she is handed the tribe's chief spear. It is a special weapon which is richly decorated with carvings and engravings. It clearly shows that the Sozlin wielding it is in charge of the tribe. A chieftain lose their position when the tribe members decide they should, or when they must retire because they are not capable of leading the hunters anymore. Rarely does a tribe have to retire their chieftain actively; usually the chieftain realizes on their own when they better hand over the tribe's chief spear to the next generation. Once they retire, they join the elder council even if there's no open position.
The members of the elder council are also elected. They are chosen for life, so only when an elder dies does a new one have to be picked. There is usually not a specific required age to enter, most tribes simply define it as 'old'. Most elders are over the age of forty and have been capable fishers or hunters during their lifetime. Ordinary old people are not considered suitable candidates for the elder council. The elders of the council do not require a special object to display their status. Due to the relatively small size of Sozlin communities, their faces are known by every tribe member anyway.
This section lists relevant Sozlin tribes that have been mentioned in roleplay or Threa's history. There are many more tribes than those listed here. Each tribe is its own nation essentially, with its own leaders and its own diplomatic ties. Usually the tribes stick together and help each other when needed, but there's no union of tribes that includes all of them. Sometimes tribes even go to war against each other.
The tribe Live-On-Rocky-Shores is located on the rocky cliffs west of Varhal's Ridge, right near a little bay. Despite the steep cliffs, the Sozlin love the location. They set up their settlement right on top of the cliffs, granting them a breathtaking view across the waters and a very defensible position. A narrow dirt path goes along the cliffs and leads down to the beach. The way is just large enough to allow two Sozlin to walk side by side each other comfortably. The Live-On-Rocky-Shores keep their rafts and fishing vessels in the natural bay at the end of the path.
Live-On-Rocky-Shores are great friends of the Aezkul historian Rikisaka Hraki. She has in fact spend a lot of her life recording the history of this tribe and getting to know its people. She befriends each generation and has followed plenty of tribe members on their path from egg to grave. The history of the Live-On-Rocky-Shores has not been particularly breathtaking. It has been peaceful and prosperous, likely because they live so far away from anyone else. The worst troubles they ever faced was when two Sozkul thought they could steal the tribe's fish. Fierce warriors of the tribe taught them otherwise.
- Rikisaka Hraki (436 ar - ??? ar): Rikisaka is considered an honorable member of the Live-On-Rocky-Shores. She's a dear friend to the entire tribe.
The Sozlin, being a simple, tribal society, do not have an actual army. In case a threat appears that requires a whole group of warriors to handle, the Sozlin simply gather and arm every able-bodied and capable male and female. As the most experienced hunter and thus most capable fighter, the chieftain is expected to lead their tribe's warband. The chief spear has to be the literal and figurative spearhead of the tribe's warriors!
Most Sozlin know how to fight. This is taught to them through hunting and sparring with others. The wrestling sport has given some of them experience when it comes to fighting unarmed, which is something most other humanoids lack. This can cause brawls involving Sozlin and other humanoids to turn into a surprising defeat for the other humanoid, even if they are seemingly larger or stronger than the Sozlin. Tribes that are attacked a lot by Wolshaks, bandits, or wild animals might even decide to train a proper little militia that works as a team and faces threats with thought out maneuvers. While war itself is seen as something that only brings death, being skilled at the craft of killing is not looked at disapprovingly. Being able to defend yourself, your family, and your tribe is respected and seen as a necessary skill.
The Sozlin tribes are grateful that the Gren Kingdom is their ally, because without them the Sozlin could never face any hostile nation. While the Sozlin are able to fight off Wolshaks and wild beasts, even wyverns and Sozkul, they would never be able to face an army. A Sozlin tribe in such a situation only has two options: Submit, or leave the shores and hide in the forests. Fighting would only lead to death and defeat.
Every Sozlin has to bring their own weapons when the tribe requires warriors. This isn't hard to accomplish, since every Sozlin usually owns a spear, a hatchet, or at least a club of some sort. Few Sozlin possess no weapon at all. Spears and shortbows are the primary weapons of the Sozlin. Stones or bones are used as arrow tips, spear tips, and attached to clubs to give them sharp edges. Bows are preferred over the javelin, simply because it has more range which is quite helpful near the less densely overgrown shores. Animal sinews, especially those of Sozkul, also make for pretty good strings. If the Sozlin have the time, they will try to prepare some poisons to lace their arrow tips with them. Although the poisons they can find on the shores are not as potent as those that can be found in the Starless Jungle they can still at least weaken the target.
Complex armor is not used by the Sozlin. Some do wear hides or even the scaled skins of slain Sozkul to protect their own hide. When a tribe has to face an opponent that utilizes many ranged weapons, it will equip its warriors with rough shields made out of ship planks. If possible, Sozlin prefer to have both hands free and on their weapon, especially if it is a spear. Due to trade with the Gren and the Firehorn Hightribe, some advanced weapons, proper shields, and a very low amount of pieces of armor have made it into the arsenal of the tribes. That means that some of the better warriors of a tribe might be equipped with bronze tipped spears or iron plated shields. Steel is so expensive that the Sozlin normally can't afford it.
When Sozlin tribes get into a fight, they rely on the individual skills of their warriors and not on formations or advanced maneuvers and tactics. When two Sozlin tribes go to war with each other, they often organize some sort of team fight between their most capable fighters, if both tribes agree to it that is. Some even agree upon rules, for example that hitting a lin who has fallen to the ground is forbidden or that injured fighters must leave the battle. The winner of the team duel receives the previously agreed upon spoils. Most of the time tribes agree to this kind of duel; they prefer an organized fight over a brutal struggle that could annihilate of one of the tribes and created even more hatred.
If an unorganized, brutal fight does break out, Sozlin are enduring fighters that will stop at nothing to defend their families and homestead. While they still try to break a battle up into multiple duels that happen at the same time, they can fight as a united group if need be. Of course they do not know how to properly assume formations, but hunting has taught them a few tricks. For example, sticking close together and using spears to keep an opponent at bay works against two legged foes as well as it works against beasts. Archers are very helpful support; they can deter the enemy or at least thin their ranks before they reach the tribe's warriors. When the lines clash, archers usually drop their bows and grab their melee weapons. All in all, Sozlin are mediocre fighters. They're better with spears than they are with bows and the other melee weapons.
These men and women don't belong to the tribes and aren't elite warriors, but they are certainly special and thus worth noting. They've left their tribe to serve on the vessels of the Firehorns. They do so for various reasons; some have been exiled, others want to see what the world has to offer, and a few are in it for the money. It's quite obvious why the Firehorns began recruiting Sozlin for their navy. Blazlin aren't made for the seas, but Sozlin have a natural affinity for water and don't mind staying on it for extended periods of time at all. Many also know the basics of sailing and some are even able to teach the Blazlin crew members a thing or two. However, when it comes to warfare the Blazlin are clearly the better mentors, so the Sozlin sailors fully adapted the fighting style and tactics taught to them by their Blazlin instructors.
To sign up for duty on the vessels of the Firehorn ships - no matter if it's a trade or war ship - requires visiting Thirpofen or hope that a Firehorn ship anchors nearby. Once contact with the Blazlin has been established, the Sozlin is mustered. If they appear suitable for the sailor's life, then they may give a pledge of allegiance to the Firehorn Hightribe and thus become one of its Sozlin sailors. Once recruited, they will be trained by the crew's best. Usually the Sozlin teach the new guys how to sail, work the oars, and take care of the ship, while the Blazlin train them to be warriors. They must know how to fight, board a ship, and in some cases even how to handle war machines. Depending on how quickly the recruit learns, the training phase can last a few weeks or a whole season. After the training has been completed, they are considered proper mariners and receive full payment, but also have to tend to their duties.
A Sozlin sailor's obligations are to obey all orders given to them by their superiors, to be unquestionably loyal to the Firehorn Hightribe, and to forget about any obligations towards any other nation or community. The Firehorns expect the same loyalty and obedience from the Sozlin as they do from the Blazlin. In return for their service the sailors receive payment in the form of food, shelter, and coin. They are paid in sjod, because they primarily receive shore leave when the ships dock in Thirpofen or anchor nearby the coast. Even the Sozlin in service of the Firehorn navy may only stay in designated districts, like the commerce district of Openwaters Harbor, when they visit the Searing Deserts. If they dock in a Firehorn port without such a district, then the Sozlin must stay on the ship.
The Firehorns do not force the Sozlin to wear any normal clothes or some sort of uniform, because the Firehorns don't see any benefit in forcing that upon them. They do demand that the Sozlin wear leather armor for their own protection. It consists of a torso piece which leaves the arms and legs free. Short swords are given to them as well. Short weapons are easier to use during crowded fights on deck and pose a lower risk to the wielder during rough waters. It's also overall easier to keep a good grip on them due to the lighter weight and smaller dimensions. All sailors also learn how to shoot light crossbows and some even learn how to use longbows as well. Longbows are quite useful to deliver burning arrows across vast distances. As mentioned, a few Sozlin sailors even get to learn how to operate a war machine. Bolt and rock throwers are great ship-to-ship weapons.
Diplomacy is primarily conducted by the chieftain of the tribe, who's advised by the elders. It is a delicate matter after all, so it's wise for the chieftain to listen to them and to his people to ensure the chieftain does what is best for the tribe. Generally the Sozlin only rarely have to engage in diplomacy. The tribes do not bother each other usually and are self-sustaining, so trade isn't a necessity. For the most part, the tribes try their best to remain peaceful and stay friends. There is one thing the Sozlin gladly fight for the - their freedom and independence. They will fight or hide, but never surrender. It is better to spend your life hiding in the woods than in chains. Sozlin would also fight for their shores. The great powers of Threa already claim the inland, so the Sozlin tribes want to at least keep the access to their sacred seas.
When a foreigner does come to trade or negotiate with the tribe, they are invited to dinner. It's tradition to eat while discussing business. People are less greedy when their stomachs are full, say the Sozlin. Even when the Sozlin are the ones visiting they expect to eat together with their host. Sometimes they even bring meals with them, but they prefer and welcome it when the host serves food on his own accord. During negotiations, all elders and the chieftain are present. This means that the Sozlin usually outnumber the foreign delegation visiting them. This can make them feel a bit uneasy but the Sozlin do their best to make them feel comfortable, if they come with good intentions. Should they come with bad intentions, the tribe will carefully judge them and what threat they pose prior to deciding on an appropriate response.
The Gren Kingdom is the best ally the Sozlin tribes have. King Bjorn I. issued a royal decree when the Gren Kingdom was founded in 465 ar. The decree states that no Sozlin may be harmed and that the Sozlin tribes can freely live on the western shores of the Gren Kingdom without having to fear vassalization. Even before 456 ar the Gren and Sozlin had lived side by side in peace for many centuries. Bjorn merely made their friendly relationship official and put it on parchment. Gren nobles may not tax the Sozlin tribes living in their domain, neither may they force them to work or to join their levy. In turn the Sozlin may not move too far inland. Tribes who were too deep inland when the edict was issued had to move to the shores or integrate themselves into Gren society by becoming serfs or free people without land and even homes. The only exception are a few tribes that live on the shores of the Verdant Lakes in the Verdant Valley.
Second best friends of the Sozlin tribes are the Truzlin tribes. Only the Sozlin that live in the far north really interact with them, but they usually do so in a friendly and mutually beneficial matter. Trade is common occurrence and the two tribal societies gladly exchange stories or just meet up to chat. However, they never stick together for long. The Truzlin are too restless to remain permanent visitors of the Sozlin's settlements. Sharing a common friend - the Gren - and a common enemy - the Sokans - further improves their diplomatic ties. However, hostile clashes between Truzlin and Sozlin can happen and have, if rarely, happened. They are never terribly brutal and usually settled quickly. Desperate, starving Truzlin might try to take salted fish from Sozlin by force, for example.
The Firehorn Hightribe has good trade relations to a bunch of the tribes. The Sozlin have no large harbors with deep basins, so the Firehorns simply anchor nearby the shallow water and send boats to the shore. Not all tribes approve of the Firehorns. There's many that disapprove of the desert-dwellers because of their affinity to war and violence. They have heard the tales of the desert's wars and want nothing to do with those that are involved in them. Hence they do not trade or cooperate with them at all, but simply avoid them whenever possible.
Foreign relations with the Wolshak Packs vary and are primarily hostile. Most Wolshak packs tend to avoid the Sozlin, but there's also a tiny number of packs that trades with them. This is a bit problematic, because Wolshak packs are hunted by the Gren. Yet the Sozlin continue to interact with the friendly packs; they don't see the Gren's hatred for them as a reason to stop, unless they know that the pack in question committed vile deeds. Fortunately, the friendlier packs tend to be those that stay away from Gren settlements altogether and just hide in the vast forests, hoping to never establish any contact with them. Then there is also the vicious packs which attempt to rob the Sozlin tribes' food stocks or outright just kill their tribe members for various reasons. These are seen as savage enemies and they're also the reason that Sozlin meet strange Wolshaks with suspicion when they first establish contact.
|Nation ▼||Relation ▼|
|Hozlin Clans||No contact (cautious)|
|Republic of the Zule||Peace|
|Riz Tribes||No contact (cautious)|
|Sokan Empire||No contact (hostile)|
|Blazewhips||No contact (hostile)|
|Emberspikes||No contact (hostile)|
|Fireclaws||No contact (hostile)|
|Flamewings||No contact (hostile)|
|Wolshak Packs||Mixed relations (peace, minor conflict)|
Guarantee of Sozlin Independence (465 ar - ???): This is a royal edict and not a treaty, but it is an official document that defines the diplomatic situation between the Sozlin tribes and the Gren Kingdom. In 465 ar, the first Gren King Bjorn I. decided to guarantee the independence of the Sozlin tribes. Since then the Gren Kingdom allows the Sozlin tribes on its land to live on their own and thrive, as long as they remain peaceful and stick to the shores. They are considered sovereign entities that exist on the Western Kingdom's soil, which also puts them under the protection of the Gren King. Any tribe that lived further inland when the edict was declared had to move to the shores or dissolve. To protect the habitat of the Sozlin and prevent conflict, Gren must not found settlements on the coast within Sozlin territory. In return for their guaranteed independence, the Sozlin aren't permitted to go too deep inland when hunting, foraging, or cutting wood. Summed up, the Sozlin have been granted free reign over most of the coast, while the Trezlin have free reign over the inland.
Gren are seen as kind neighbors. Sozlin like the Gren, because they allow the shore-dwellers to keep their lands without complaint. Both sides engage in mutually beneficial trade, stay out of each other's business, and have coexisted in peace for many centuries. That's about all that connects the Gren and the Sozlin, because there is a large difference between their cultures and beliefs. The Sozlin do disapprove of the fact that Gren tend to wage minor wars now and then and overall have a rather aggressive attitude compared to the Sozlin.
The Sozlin of the north see the Truzlin as good trading partners and friends. The shore dwellers appreciate the furred nomads peaceful attitude. Both societies are primitive and tribal, so they understand each other's issue better and can identify themselves with each other more easily. However, there's also topics that can cause arguments. Some Truzlin believe that the entire Boreal Zone should belong to the Truzlin, including the shores. These Truzlin are few in numbers, but can cause trouble. In general, both societies like each other and meet each other with open arms.
Treztown has a good reputation as well, since it allows Sozlin to come and go as they please and it's also rather peaceful. However, Treztown is so far away from the western coast that few Sozlin bother to visit it. Some haven't even heard of it. Those that have bothered consider it too noisy and crowded. Sozlin are simply not used to such busy, compact communities. Gren towns aren't even close to being so densely packed! Overall, Sozlin who know of Treztown approve of its stance on things but don't like staying there.
Part of the Sozlin hold the Firehorns in high regards, because the Firehorns treat them just and equal. The weapons and tools the Firehorn traders sell are also very welcome. Nothing pierces a Sozkul's hide better than a metal tipped arrow! Their cooperation doesn't end at exchanging wares; Sozlin can even become sailors of the hightribe's navy. Serving on one of the large war or trade ships is quite the tempting opportunity. It allows one to see the world a bit, even the Searing Desert, and to perhaps slay an Azkul. The hostile beasts of the depths do sometimes assault ships. Overall, the Firehorns are appreciated and trusted, at least by the tribes that do cooperate with them. Those who don't cooperate think the Firehorns to be ruthless warmongers, who only use the Sozlin to further their own goals. Sozlin tribes who hold this belief refuse to interact with them and try to convince other tribes to do the same.
For Sozlin there is good Wolshaks and bad Wolshaks. The good ones are friendly, if also a bit rough around the edges, but one can have dinner with them, share stories, and exchange wares. Sozlin get along well with these more peaceful Wolshaks, as long as they do not harm the friends of the Sozlin. Sadly, the friendly packs are a minority. The majority of the packs are feared because they either attack Sozlin who stray into their territory or attack the settlements outright and refuse any form of diplomacy. At least Wolshaks tend to be open about their intentions, or perhaps they aren't cunning enough to think of tricks. If they come howling, screaming, and with axes raised, they are there to raid and kill. If they come with lowered weapons and full pouches, then they are likely there to trade. Overall, the Sozlin are wary of the Wolshaks; they see them as very dangerous by default.
Citizens of the Sokan Empire are met with disdain. The Trezlin of the east have enslaved the Sozlin that lived peacefully among the various eastern realms before the Empire annexed them. Sozlin disapprove of the enslaving of their fellow Sozlin and of slavery in general.
The Sozlin have a communal economy. Necessities are shared among the tribe members, are considered communal property, but personal property does exist. If a hunting party needs spears or backpacks, they either make them themselves or request them from the skilled crafters of the tribe. Once a spear is in a hunter's possession, it's considered their personal property, so they have to take care of it. They only have to give it to others if there's a dire need to. Usually the elders give directions on what to make because they keep track of what's in high demand. For example, when a tribe lacks baskets, an elder will just grab some people and make some more with them. If there's not enough material for the baskets, then the elder will send people out to fetch some.
Everything the Sozlin need is available on their land practically on demand, so they don't need massive stockpiles. They do stockpile food and the chieftain has to make sure there's always enough. They assign Sozlin to fishing, gathering, and hunting. They also lead the hunters. To create long-lasting stockpiles of food the Sozlin smoke and salt their fish and meat.
If the tribe acquires luxury goods, for example through trade, then they are considered communal property that the chieftain administrates. The chieftain has to decide when the luxury goods are used and who may use them. This also applies to rare, high quality tools and weapons. If a tribe gets its hands on some steel-tipped spears, then the chieftain together with the council of elders decides who deserves them the most. There's also a small black market. Some Sozlin might sell things they acquired to secretly buy small things for themselves and their friends. This is frowned upon.
Sozlin tribes are not all that large, so such a communal economy works well. It's easy to keep things fair and it doesn't take a lot of effort to track supply and demand. Complex economical concepts, like banks or taxes, are strange to Sozlin. However, some tribes do possess a small treasury of coins just so they can use them to buy things from the more advanced neighbors if they don't have any goods the others would like to barter for. If precious metals weren't useful as a means of payment, Sozlin would not care about them at all.
The natural resources available to the Sozlin tribes are abundant but not varied. As building and crafting materials they have bones, wood, and various kinds of stone at their disposal. Leathers are also available in adequate amounts, even rather special leathers like Sozkul hide. Sozlin certainly don't have to worry about food. Their vegetable gardens only produce enough to spice up their diet, but the sea easily provides for them. Fish, shellfish, and other seafood is in great supply. One, if lucky, can also find valuable objects underwater, like pearls from clams. Yet the Sozlin aren't known for finding pearls, they're known for fishing and for producing salt. To do the latter they dig small, shallow ditches near the shore and let the ocean water flow in. The compacted dirt at bottom of the ditches is covered in animal skins so the water doesn't seep into the ground along with the salt. Once the ditches are full of water, the Sozlin cut their connection to the ocean and wait until the water evaporated. What remains is salt, which the tribes use and sell.
Every member of a Sozlin tribe, no matter if they are a male or a female, learn how to make basic items, such as the tools they need to do their jobs. For example, fishers know how make nets and fishing spears. However, just because they know it doesn't mean they do it. Fishers prefer fishing over crafting nets, so they usually leave that task to children or tribe members who took a liking to it. Hunters are an even better example. Every hunter knows how to produce spears, bows, and arrows, but they rather focus on perfecting their hunting techniques than their crafting techniques. As a result, they delegate the production of their hunting equipment to those who enjoy doing it. These Sozlin then end up crafting so much hunting equipment that they become very good at it, basically becoming a specialist, a primitive craftsman.
Sozlin workers may not possess the best tools, but they put effort into their labor and make up for the lack of accurate tools with patience. Especially the boat makers among the Sozlin take great pride in their work and do their best to make sure that they only deliver great products to their tribe. Both Gren and Firehorn try to employ Sozlin boat makers in their shipyards, where their skill and experience is combined with proper metal tools to achieve even greater feats of naval engineering. Sozlin are also known for their high quality nets.
Professional merchants do not exist in the Sozlin tribes. When a Sozlin tribe wants to sell some of its wares, the chieftain and elders simply pick a few suitable Sozlin, load them up with the goods and send them on their merry way. Usually they pick one smart Sozlin who knows a couple of different languages, preferably Trez and Gren, and a couple of good warriors to guard and carry the wares. They also use goats as pack animals. Wealthier tribes even buy pack animals such as ironheads and oxen from the Gren. Sometimes the tribes don't even have to leave their settlements to trade. Traveling merchants of the Gren and the ships of the Firehorns visit them occasionally.
The Gren are the most important trade partner of the Sozlin, but the trade happens on a small scale. Small Sozlin caravans go to the nearest Gren community, sell their wares, and return home. From the Gren settlements the Sozlin wares make their way to other places. Some Gren merchants have made a fortune by buying salt from the Sozlin tribes and selling it in Treztown. The second most important trade partner of the Sozlin are the Firehorns. Most of the trade with the desert-dwellers happens indirectly through Gren harbors like Thirpofen. Direct trade is only possible if the Firehorns anchor near the coast and then send small boats to it; the Sozlin don't have the infrastructure to allow large ships to dock in their bays. That doesn't stop the Firehorns; they do rather often engage in direct trade. This makes it easier to stay the good side of the Sozlin and thus ensures they remain open to the idea of serving on the Firehorns' vessels.
The Sozlin primarily export fish and other bounties of the seas. Seafood is mostly exported to the Firehorns, the Gren Kingdom, and Treztown. The Firehorns and Treztown only buy smoked or salted fish; fresh seafood doesn't last long enough to endure the journey to either of the two's homes. An alternative is to sell living seafood, such as crabs or lobsters. Gren, if they live close enough to a Sozlin settlement, sometimes buy fresh fish. Some nobles even send riders on fast daebis to the Sozlin just to buy special seafood, like lobsters, and quickly bring it back home. Some land dwellers even fancy sea weed, because it's cheap and yet nutritious. Pearls and other valuable objects one may harvest from the sea are usually sold to the wealthier Gren or merchants from Treztown. The Firehorns do not really care for these things; they have enough gems and precious metals at home.
Salt is the second most commonly exported good. The only buyers are the Gren Kingdom and Treztown. Since the Sozlin tribes are the only producers in the west, the Gren don't have any other choice, unless they're willing to buy salt from the far away Sokan Empire. The Sokans and the Firehorns are the only other suppliers of salt. Buying salt from them would be much more expensive for the Gren Kingdom, because the trade routes are much longer. Treztown prefers to buy salt from the west, because they don't want to give money to Sokan merchants if they can avoid it.
None of the Sozlin tribes rely on imports to cover their need for basic materials or other necessities. Most imports simply make the life of the Sozlin easier or more enjoyable. Some imports also allow the Sozlin to forgo one activity in favor of another. An example: Sozlin prefer fishing over hunting, so they will gladly trade the fruits of the sea in return for warm pelts.
Metal tools are the kind of import that make the Sozlin's lives easier by greatly improving the productivity of their workers. A steel axe is simply much more efficient at cutting down a tree than a stone hatchet. It lasts longer, too. Metal weapons improve the hunters' chance of survival and the likelihood of successfully slaying beasts. A metal tipped arrow is more likely to pierce a Sozkul's hide than a wooden one. The list goes on. However, metal is expensive so the tribes do not own many metal items. They also can't maintain them, so any metal item bought won't remain useful forever, unless the Sozlin pay a Gren or Firehorn blacksmith to fix it. The latter is rare and can practically only be found in Thirpofen or on a Firehorn ship.
If a tribe can afford it, they will try to import luxuries, too. Tobacco, alcohol, and various recreational drugs can really spice up a celebration. Sozlin do produce some spirits themselves, letting fruits ferment isn't a difficult task, but they still prefer the professional produced ales and beers of the Gren.
What's considered illegal varies from tribe to tribe. Most tribes are rather liberal; they allow their members to buy and consume whatever they want. However, some outlaw the import of goods that they consider bad for their people, like hard drugs.
Sozlin tribes consist almost exclusively of Sozlin. Non-Sozlin almost never attempt to join. If one tried to, then they would have to impress the Sozlin, prove that they're a useful addition, and establish great relations with the tribe. The tribes would never allow a useless person to join their community. They expect more of newcomers than they expect of their own people.
Males and females appear in roughly equal amounts in the Sozlin tribes. Both have almost exact same lifestyles; females hunt as often as males do, for example. There's no reason one sex would die earlier than the other. There are few elders among the Sozlin. Illnesses and the dangers of nature tend to kill the tribal shore-dwellers before they can reach a high age, making elders rare and valuable. The literacy rate is very low, because the Sozlin do not have a writing system of their own. Learning foreign writing systems is extremely uncommon, because it doesn't have many apparent uses in the eyes of most Sozlin.
Roughly a hundred Sozlin tribes exist in total. The average tribe has between fifty and two hundred members. When a tribe becomes very large, the Sozlin split it to prevent that the land stops being able to sustain them and the outbreak of discontent due to overcrowding. The splinter that decides to leave will attempt to found their own settlement somewhere else. On their journey they will probably come across abandoned or destroyed villages. Tsunamis, diseases, angry Sozkul clans, ravaging Wolshak packs, and other disasters can wipe out an entire village, leaving few if any survivors. The new settlers then found their colony on top of the ruins, hoping they don't repeat the mistakes of the previous ones, or settle elsewhere.
The grand majority of the tribes settle on the western coasts of the Forest Lands and the islands close to it. They've in fact spread across most of these. The Gren haven't bothered to settle away from the primary landmass and basically handed the Sozlin every island as a result. A few tribes also live nearby the Verdant Lakes, sharing the land with the Gren peacefully. Other tribes, if only very few, live far away from the Forest Lands. Some dare to attempt survival in the Boreal Lands, others colonized the western coasts of the Great Savannah. These tribes, due to the distance between them and their fellow Sozlin, are often very different in their customs and behavior from the ones near the Forest Lands. Some may even be aggressive warrior cultures, while others might be fanatics that praise gods that are very unlike the Yrun. Caution is advised when dealing with those edge-cases.
Sozlin are very slow when it comes to making discoveries and inventing new methods and objects. They inherently do not care much for figuring out how the world works, simply accepting that Threa has always been and that the Yrun populated it with life. Scholars and engineers are non-existent among the Sozlin. All inventions are made by crafters and workers who want to increase the quality of their products or become more efficient at what they do. Yet, thanks to trade with their neighbors, the Sozlin do have access to some modern technologies. The Sozlin are also overall more advanced than the Riz tribes and the Truzlin tribes. They're at a stage that lies between the Gren Kingdom and the truly primitive societies.
A major difference to the Gren is that the Sozlin have little to no personal experience with metallurgy, even if it isn't a foreign concept to them. A few of them have witnessed Gren blacksmiths and smelters work, but they never managed to replicate what they do. They don't really even attempt to, feeling like trading for these items or simply relying on bone, stone, and wood is enough. Ores are scarce at the shores, so even if the Sozlin tried to have smithies of their own they would run into severe difficulties. The primitive tools the Sozlin produce are of an alright quality, good enough to get the job done. An advantage of their simple tools is that most Sozlin know how to make them, allowing them to live out in the wilds on their own if need be.
Unlike many other tribal societies, the Sozlin aren't very knowledgeable when it comes to natural medicine. They know how to bandage a wound, but herbalism is not one of the Sozlin's strong suits. They know the basics, but they're far from creating sophisticated concoctions. They do know how to make poisons. Unsurprisingly, they prefer to draw their poisons and venoms from creatures of the sea. The toxins are used to enhance the lethality of their arrows and spears.
One field in which the Sozlin do shine is shipbuilding. The ships aren't noteworthy because of their size or quality, but because they play such a large role in the lives of the shore-dwelling lin. Little ships with sails and rudders, manned by Sozlin fishermen equipped with nets, are a common sight at the Forest Land's western coast. The ships are not capable of sailing the high-seas. None of the Sozlin ships could be used for long range sailing or even warfare, but they are enough to reach the islands that are close to the shores. Outrigger canoes and catamarans are the most common ship types. Some of the catamarans can become large enough to carry easily more than fifty Sozlin. These large vessels are used to transport people in between islands or to bring Sozkul corpses back to the settlement. However, even these larger ships aren't even close to being as large as Firehorn vessels.
Sozlin have simple buildings. They live in huts, use sheds to smoke fish or store food and materials, and don't construct anything unique or special apart from their totems. They haven't created gigantic statues or elaborate temples; they're a primitive society after all. Given that Sozlin are quite capable carpenters, thanks to their experiences with ship building, their houses tend to look neater than those of other societies that are on a similar level of development.
A standard Sozlin hut is made out of wood, thatch, and animal hides. The ground within the huts is generally made out of compacted dirt, more rarely out of wooden planks. The huts only have one or two rooms and house an entire family, so a couple, their children and sometimes the couple's own parents. The abodes tend to be rectangular in form, because it's simply easier to build, but circular ones have also been built before. They feature a hole in the roof or at the top of the gable to let the smoke of the house's cooking fire out. If the hole is in the roof, then it also features a little roof of its own, so rain can't get in. Some of the huts do not serve as living room, but as smoke houses or stockpiles. Tribes who keep livestock also build small stables so their animals have a dry, warm spot to hide and sleep in. They don't have to worry about predators because Sozlin keep their animals inside their settlement at night.
Despite carpentry being a common skill, furniture is rare. Sozlin simple sit down on the ground to eat and store their goods in clay containers or wooden boxes. Few Sozlin own shelves or similar objects to help them store their belongings in a more orderly fashion. Wooden hooks are more common than shelves; they allow the Sozlin to hang up clothes or attach smaller containers to walls via ropes and handles. Bedding usually consist of thick hides laid out across the ground. Some like to put dried plants underneath the hides to have a thicker buffer between the compacted dirt and their own body.
Sozlin build basic docks for their ships. They are usually just long wooden piers with berths. Usually they simply build their ships out in the open, on top of wooden scaffolding, but some tribes construct sheds and build their boats inside them. To move the vessels into the water they roll them across wooden logs, utilizing them as wheels. Because the ships of the Sozlin have a shallow draft they are able to come very close to shore, which means that constructing elaborate docks, anchorages, or artificial bays isn't necessary.
Sozlin settlements are usually build on top of cliffs or hills, because the elevated terrain allows them to observe their territory and gives them an edge when defending it against aggressors or predators. If there's no suitable cliff or hill nearby, then the villages are erected directly on the shore or even in the water. In the latter case, or when the ground is simply not suitable for building, the Sozlin build the entire community on stilts. Indeed, they remove the branches off a trunk and then sink it into the mud or the bottom of the nearby water. Then they build a wooden platform on top of it and their houses on top of said platform. These stilt houses are a rather common sight near the western coasts and the Verdant Lakes. A whole village can be erected on one very large platform. They're easy to defend out in the water, unless the aggressor is capable of damaging the stilts from afar.
A typical Sozlin community consists of clusters of wooden huts. Each cluster surrounds a camp fire, around which the Sozlin gather to make tools, weapons, and other items, and to prepare their meals. Sozlin do have small fires inside their homes, too, but they prefer to work around the communal fires so they can spend time with the others. Small stables and vegetable gardens are also located within the settlement, as are smoke houses and stockpiles. If the Sozlin have more sheep than they can supply with the small pastures within the village, they lead them outside of the settlement during the day and bring them back in during the night. Naturally a village build on stilts within water can't have vegetable gardens within, unless the Sozlin create artificial dirt patches on the wooden platform.
Every Sozlin settlement that's build on solid ground is entirely surrounded by a wooden palisade. It's tall enough to keep Sozkul and other large critters out, though Sozkul are strong enough to knock it over, if with some effort. Hence why the Sozlin erect earth mounds fortified with wooden spikes to deter these beasts or at least further hinder their approach. Outside of their palisade the Sozlin at most have miniature fields to grow a few plants on, such as fruits or perhaps some potatoes. Hunting and fishing offer more than enough food to the Sozlin, so large scale agriculture is unnecessary. In the eyes of the Sozlin, working fields requires too much effort for too little yield.
The ships of the tribe simply lie on the beach or are tied to poles out in the shallow water that have been partially buried in the ground. Sozlin aren't worried that people might steal their ships, but just in case they tend to have a couple of people guarding them around the clock. While they watch over the ships these guards tend to craft things, so that their time isn't wasted staring at the wooden vessels. Only in few cases does the settlement's palisade also include a chunk of beach. Most tribes prefer to have a circular palisade that surrounds the whole tribe and isn't open towards the sea; that would be a weak spot. It's basically an open invitation to Sozkul to come in and raid the stockpiles!
Sozlin communities have not always lived exclusively at Threa's coasts. Many millennia ago, Sozlin packs also existed inland, lived nearby lakes and rivers. Over time, some Sozlin became better adapted to the conditions of the densely forested regions; they became the first Trezlin. Trezlin packs had an easier time in the Forest Lands and hence began driving out the Sozlin, beginning in the far east in the region nowadays known as the Golden Woods. It took a lot of time for the Trezlin to spread across the Forest Lands and establish themselves as the dominant species due to the various dangerous beasts that inhabit it. The expansion of the Trezlin meant that the Sozlin either go extinct, retreat to a habit that they're better adapted to, or hope that the Trezlin packs allow them to live or join. Over the course of eons, the Sozlin were driven to the western coast and slowly became extinct on the eastern one. In the west they managed to survive; the Trezlin there weren't as eager to hunt on the coasts and didn't compete with the Sozlin as much.
As they grew more intelligent over time, their brains' growth helped by fish protein and fats, they began banding together, creating more civilized tribes instead of wild packs. Utilizing spears, bows, and small fishing craft, they managed to make a living. Unifying also helped keeping the Trezlin packs at bay, who also began forming tribes of their own as they acquired sapience. As languages became a thing, so became diplomacy. Trezlin and Sozlin learned to live more peacefully with each other, leaving each to their habitat instead of fighting over it. At least that's how it happened in the west. In the east, the few Sozlin groups that managed to form were erased.
While some Trezlin tribes flourished in the verdant environment of the forests, where minerals, lumber, and stone were and are easy to find, the Sozlin only very slowly advanced. This is also true for the majority of the Trezlin communities. Inventions like fishing nets and coastal ships made sure that food would never be an issue, but the lack of easily accessible ores and the lack of a dire need for metals, due to an abundance of flint, jade, and bones, led to the Sozlin not discovering metallurgy, not even by 795 ar. Trezlin began waging wars against nature and each other using metal tools and weapons. The Sozlin stuck to their shores, lived in relative peace.
Overall, Sozlin history isn't all that thrilling. But there's one legend that is so interesting that it has been passed down orally and in the form of imagery from generation to generation for hundreds of years, even across multiple tribes. Supposedly the Sozlin tribes at the western side of the Great Bay send out a small fleet of ships to look for new lands. According to research done by the Aezkul historian Rikisaka Hraki, this likely took place around 250 ar. The Sozlin expedition found small islands off the shore, which are still inhabited by Sozlin nowadays. Yet the explorers were not satisfied. After spending a few years developing new colonies on these islands, the fleet, now many ships stronger, headed further east. They were never heard of again. The tribes who share this legend are not sure why, but they think that the morale of this story is to never go too far from the shores. Threa's seas are dangerous, too dangerous. The water is rough, the Azkul consume ships, and who knows just what else lurks in the dark depths.
Back to real history, which becomes more intriguing in 207 ar. Sozlin had migrated eastward again by this point since many hundred years, but not to form tribes on the eastern coasts. They simply became a part of various countries east of Threa's Spine, lived as farmers, laborers, some even managed to become important people. Then the Sokan Empire under Emperor Jurva the Conqueror began its greatest military expansion in 207 ar. Wherever the Bronze Legions marched, the Sozlin had two options: They either ended up as slaves, no matter if they fought or not, or they fled to find a new future in the west. Most Sozlin tried to fight, valiantly so, but ultimately in vain. They were enslaved and put to work in the mines and construction sites of the Empire. Many also became personal servants, because they are on average smaller than the imperial Trezlin, which pleases them. On the other side of the Forest Lands, in the west, the Gren Kingdom began forming. Luckily the Trezlin in the west have always gotten along well with the Sozlin. One of the first edicts the first Gren King - Bjorn I. Scalecutter - issued was that the Sozlin are not to be ever harmed without legitimate reason and that they are welcome to live on the shores of the kingdom. Even today - centuries later - this edict is still active; the Gren and Sozlin never fought.
The alliance between the Gren and Sozlin even held in times of war. When King Ulfrid declared war against the Sokans in 467 ar to come to Treztown's aid, many Sozlin came to serve in his armies in exchange for loot and coin. Those mercenaries were grouped in their own units, led by their own kind. Just like the Gren they wore leather armor and used metal weapons. But not only did Sozlin serve as simple grunts, a few former members of the Sozlin tribes ended up being true heroes of the war. A good example is Stalks-Two-Moons. She served Treztown even before the siege, she even saved King Ulfrid's life, and valiantly fought in the defense of the city during the Sokan assault. Unfortunately, she suffered a critical injury to her head during the first wave, which put her out of commission for the rest of the battle. Overall, King Ulfrid was very happy with the performance of the Sozlin warriors. Once the Great War was over, the history of the Sozlin became dull again.
In the year 697 ar, a ship with a catamaran design crashed onto the shores south of the Vandell Forests. It was found by Sozlin fishers. The ship appeared to be Sozlin in origin, yet it was much larger than the vessels the Sozlin usually build. It looked like it could be used to transport a whole tribe. Sozlin do not build such big ships, there's no need for them, so it was very odd that it appeared to be Sozlin-made. No living crew members were found; it only carried a few Sozlin corpses. The bodies were found under deck and had cracked skulls, like the ship had been thrown around so much that they hit their heads too hard on the hull. The ship also sported an obvious bite mark, most likely from an Azkul. It was written off by the Sozlin as a journey that ended tragically, perhaps executed by one of the tribes in the north. Nobody ever bothered to look into the matter. Rikisaka recorded the find when making her yearly visits to the various large Sozlin tribes. That was the last exciting event in the history of the Sozlin tribes that's noteworthy on a larger scale up until today.
- Begin of the Legendary Expedition (~250 ar)
- Mysterious Ship Found (697 ar)
The Sozlin tribes are not involved in any ongoing historic events. Their lives are focused on survival, praising the Yrun, and living in as much peace as wild beasts and ravaging Wolshaks allow them to have.