The old ones tell of a mountain cleaved in two by the rushing torrents of a sea newly born! But the waters were too ambitious, and their spirits died before the open ocean could be reached. They sleep now in a river, a fall, and empty into a lake that feeds the roots of trees far older than waters could ever dream... The Godswood.
The first children, such trees were born at the dawn of time; trees that grew as the world grew with roots nested in the waters of the afterlife. So long and tall did they stand that at last a trees life neared an end. But trees are ancient spirits, and do not pass into cold and lasting death like mortal men. They petrified as grandfathers, with branches fully wreathed, in a canopy that spanned the whole of the narrow valley we call The Winter Vein.
- While dancing and spectacles of physical prowess occupy the majority of the wildcat's leisure time, some care is paid to the ornamentation of their woodland home. All structures of their habitat exist in addition to the trees, through the carving and working of their ancient roots and trunks, that does not hamper the vitality as going against the grain might. These homes are woven into the mazework of organic life and, at first glance, are easily overlooked for blending in. Columns and intricately carved 'screen walls' are common place with both typically depicting the beauty of nature and its creatures. The Wildcats of Verdeluz value nature and their deep connection to it, a connection that inspires the strong focus on sustainability in their day to day lives. Vines and bramble are dried to be woven and thatched with pitch for roofing when necessary (though most homes are carved nooks in the bases of trees and are sheltered on all sides by the living wood. Due to their low level of technology (by choice) will-o-wisp's - faerie fire - is contained in glass jars and used to light both their homes and their community.
- Trees as monumentally tall as they are old reach up to form the living ceiling of a massive underground cavern. The natural valley that had, in older times, been the floor of a vast forest is now safely sheltered by the giant trunks that hold the sky up above at bay. While the leaves, branches, and trunks have all turned to stone, monoliths standing testament to nature’s raw power and beauty, there is still an ingenuity to them found only in the wonder of the natural world. The interlocking mesh of leaves and branches spread like webbing above the valley below protects this cavern from rain and snow, wind and hail. As guardians of the secret world below, little to nothing is let through the membrane of hardened bark and brush. While the city may be safe from rain, snow, hail and wind, it is not to say that the inner climate is arid and dry. The underground city is rather warm and humid at differing levels. Rising up higher towards the ceiling, the air will grow colder, as if climbing mountains. While below, the higher moisture levels and closer proximity to the floor grant them a rather comfortable temperature to live in. Sun glimmers through the few openings in the treetops to make an immense display of light that shines during the day and vanishes during the night.
- The Wildcats think of beasts of burden as an abhorrent treatment of the living things around them. Instead of carriages, or steam-cars/gas-cars, they use pulleys and weighting systems to get about quickly. Vines interweave through the underground city, which provided the necessary components that otherwise would have taken years, if not decades to build given their location and surroundings. Another, though more recent, innovation for movement over the city would be waterways made from either canals dug into the ground, or giant stone branches that were concave enough to have water flow through them, allowing paddles or gravity to do the work moving the boats.
- As sensitive as they are to Harrowyn’s will, and the world around them, there are some tasks that even Wildcats cannot accomplish themselves. But, because of their understanding of the forces of nature all around them, they’ve created the most rudimentary of energy sources. Taking advantage of an underground waterfall, most certainly formed from an outside water source being funneled through tunnels and catacombs to reach Verdeluz, the Wildcats have made many places where there are crude water wheels, giving them a hydraulic power for farming and more advanced tasks that hands alone cannot accomplish.
- Tradition passed down through oration and ceremonies give knowledge to the next generations in Verdeluz. Elders are the most respected of their kind in this city, and educate the young in the ways of the Wildcats. From speech and their arts, to hunting and the savagery that comes without say when faced with undead hordes while on scouting missions. Shamans are also key religious teachers of both young and old, giving guidance through the infinite wisdom of the Earth-Mother, Harrowyn.
- Without modern medicine and therapies the natives of Verdeluz are forced to rely on more primitive methods. Fortunately the cavern, formed as it was from an ancient forest, is thick with natural herbs and roots for more organic cures. They’ve also developed a natural immunity through Harrowyn’s grace to a petrification disease brought on by the inhalation of microscopic spores native to the woodland. Such a condition is known to them as Wuudwrought, or “wrath of the Grandfathers”.
- The common philosophy in Verdeluz is that unity is key, and so competition outside of games and dance are frowned upon as unnecessary or rude, brazen displays of disrespect. To share with your neighbor and to keep the city strong; that is what the Wildcats of Verdeluz strive for.
- For as long as any of the Wildcats can recall through their proud history, Verdeluz has always and only been watched over by the Byakko lineage of white tigers. Within this household there is not so much an outright sense of scheming, but more a sense of raw dominance. Each member is out to succeed the throne before another, intent on proving their worth to the current ruler before the others can prove their usefulness. Other classes of Wildcats have no say whatsoever in their government, unless they request an audience with the ruler, which is very infrequent. There have been disputes in the past between the Byakko and the lions, but the white tigers have always remained dominant and noble, strong enough to squash the lions in the end of their uncivil battles.
- Byakko law dictates that outsiders are to be forced back to whence they came, and Undead are to be slaughtered for Harrowyns’ sake. The Wildcats do not value any other race as an important diplomatic ally, other than their own, which is why Verdeluz has remained isolated and safe for so long. Even with their isolationist policies though, Verdeluz Wildcats may have the occasional encounter with outside civilizations, but they’ve shown their clear stance on industrialization through their violent responses on each encounter. The Undead are the second neighbor to the City of the Wildcat Efferii, and are the first hated. While they do not go out of their way to inspire all out war, any intrusions into their ancestral land is met with open and unforgiving violence. The Undead are an affront to the natural way of the world, as Harrowyn decrees, and the Wildcats do all they can to give the corrupted souls their proper rest.
Law & CrimeEdit
- Even with all of their peacefulness, and civil ways, the Wildcats still retain their baser, more animalistic traits as well. When there are matters of the criminal nature to be dealt with, the Asiik-Taw are sent to find and punish the wrong-doer. Laws themselves in Verdeluz are harsh, excessively even, to the point where theft can be punishable by partial dismemberment. As inelegant as they may be, the Byakko house knows that the harsh unbending laws and traditions as much as coexistence and unity are what keep them strong and true to the Lady of the Woods.
- While there has never been a recorded war fought within the Wildcat city, Verdeluz is not in the slightest bit defenseless. Their military is strong; shamans lead packs of leopards and panthers as well as the internal security force that upholds the law. All of these are lead by the Byakko household which plans for all possibilities, ranging from an invasion to retaliation. The military is split into two factions, as per the Byakko’s law centuries ago. There are the main forces which lie in the city, ready to rise to the challenge, and then the Snow Leopards, high above the city that are treated with the utmost respect as warriors. Within the spiritual ranks - removed from the military itself, exists an order comprised exclusively of females. These warriors have pledged the length of their entire lives to Harrowyn, severing ties with their families of birth, and take the boiled sap of the God Tree into their bodies to prove their dedication. This solution renders each infertile so that they may bare no children to beget families of their own. They are called The Children, for they are of the trees and trees alone.
- While the Wildcats may be a very isolated tribe, they are couth in the arts of movement and poise. Like their token essence, these creatures of beauty and finesse pride themselves on dances, sports, and other arts involving movement. More towards the center of the city lay an immense arena where something like an Olympics is held bi-monthly to celebrate the most spectacular and beautiful of the city’s residents. The games they play can be anything from one-on-one boxing-like matches, to hurdle jumps among many others. Another game invented for the Efferii is called Mai’Nahs or “Godswood Ascension”. The goal of the game is to climb to the top of the tree in the middle of the arena before your fellows while ringing a series of large bells on the way up. Of course, each contestant has a bundle of blunted spears strapped to their backs to knock their opponents from their perches! The Wildcats also pride themselves on their live art displays. Bodies painted with berries and leaves are then shown off to the general populace around the commerce center of the city. The painted will put on dances, meant to exhibit how they have been painted and move the colors in ways the artist could not.
Arts & MusicEdit
- Being such an isolated culture, the Wildcats have developed their own understanding of “beauty” and “music”. With more acute hearing than most races, the music that the Wildcats enjoy involves higher toned instruments such as chimes and bells, and then the louder, lower range is filled with percussion instruments like drums. Music of Verdeluz is uplifting and very soothing, often compared to the wind in its’ fluid rhythm. Song is also praised by the elders and Shamans, but is only reserved for special occasions, such as births, ceremonies, and rite of passages. The voice is believed to echo the spirit within. A softer, gentle voice is believed to be one that belongs to one who is compassionate and kind, while a high-pitched, scratchy one may be associated with the peculiar and questionable of intent. Art is displayed in two forms; the architecture of the city, which gives them harmonious residence in the forest beneath the Forest, and their body. The body is considered holy in its’ own way and is uplifted through meaningful body transformations of tattooing and piercing.