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ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

Records of the Poor Historian

Index of lore posts written by @izakaya-jinh - that’s me!

Regional & National Histories / Geography:

Yanxia - in progress

Nagxia - withdrawn for revisions

The Azim Steppe - not started

Northern Othard

Hingashi - not started

Schools of Magic:

Doman Geomancy

Hingan Onmyojutsu

Far Eastern Mado

Demonic Cultivation: Kidoshi

Wandering Puppeteers: Kairaishi

Races & Cultures:

Far Eastern Miqo’te - withdrawn for revisions

Lupin Nomads & Far Eastern Miqo’te - withdrawn for revisions

Rise of the Raen - withdrawn for revisions

Northern Xaela Diaspora

Xaela Lords of the Ryakgyr Peninsula

ffxiv-shiji

Jul 3, 2022

YANXIA - THE SEASONS OF CHANGE: The Rebirth of Eastern Civilization

Yanxian History Masterpost

Previous: Yanxia - East Allag

This third part describes the rise anew of civilizations in the Far East from the remnants of Allag following the empire’s most unceremonious end. How did our ancestors reclaim their dignity after a millenium of foreign rule? What gave birth to the shared identity of“Yanxia” we claim today?

The Rise of Kings (c. 4,700 y.a.)

Despite sequestration of knowledge from the masses in the wake of the Allagan Empire’s disintegration, societies in the east did not collapse entirely. While the state of technological advancement and scientific knowledge certainly regressed in the east much as it did in the west, the basic principles of agriculture survived as did some rudimentary metallurgy.

Across the centuries of this lost era, descendants of Othard’s ancient tribes fought amongst one another for territory and survival. While the various races of Othard had intermingled during the time of Allag, the collapse of social order in the wake of the empire’s fall saw many groups rally around claims of ancient lineages in a bid for power and comradeship. These resurrected tribes competed for dominance over the central plains along the One River, however few could ever claim the lands for long. Tribes regularly formed alliances to overthrow one another, then turned upon their former allies once their shared enemies were defeated.

During this time, Raen tribes along the mountainous border with the Azim Steppe who once enjoyed the favor of Allagan rulers exacerbated territorial conflicts as several groups pushed further south into the already violently contested plains along the One River. Outnumbered by more plentiful Hyur and Roegadyn tribes, and without the support of Allag, many Raen sought to assert themselves rather than give others an opportunity to attack first. Affirming their long-held reputation for martial prowess in the region’s bloody battles for hegemony, the fierce warriors of the Raen tribes made it clear that they could be a boon to those who favored them or a terrible threat to any who crossed them. While some Raen remained loyal only to their own, others joined forces with Hyur and Roegadyn to establish even stronger factions for the sake of shared profits. Not all Raen chose to make their home along the bloodied banks of the One River, however, and some tribes chose to move onward to other lands or sequester themselves deep within the hidden reaches of the region’s numerous mountain forests.

Toward the later part of this period, as taboos on knowledge and writing weakened, legends tell of a series of wise individuals who emerged in the central plains region and brought with them knowledge and innovations that advanced the lives of their people. Innovations in farming, textiles, construction, medicine, timekeeping, and even writing are attributed to these legendary figures. By sharing this knowledge with all people, they were seen as wise and virtuous leaders, and were even said by some to hold heaven’s mandate to rule. These leaders were crowned as kings, and with each ruling in turn then offering the throne to the most capable individual as successor, they established a period of relative order.

Yet as the so-called “dark age” following the Allagan abandonment of Othard progressed, numerous natural disasters brought great suffering to the central region of the continent. Flooding was most prevalent amongst these, with the One River unpredictably overflowing its banks to devastating effect. The destruction, famine, death, and disease left in the wake of each flood confounded leaders of the time. With the loss of technological knowledge resulting from civilization’s regression, the techniques that once might have been used to combat these floods were a mystery. Nor was magic a widely accessible option at the time, as many of Allag’s remaining mages had been hunted down and executed in the early days after the empire’s fall. Without the wisdom and knowledge of past mages, many people of the time could only utilize rudimentary spells and techniques.

At a loss for how to stop the floods, King Wu appointed the most skilled builder of the time to devise a solution. A towering Roegadyn named Gun (literally meaning “big fish”), this builder is said to have been descended from ancient nobility and perhaps even could trace his ancestry to the gods. Believing obstruction to be the appropriate method, this builder oversaw the construction of levees to guard against rising waters. By some accounts, these were constructed using magical self-renewing earth obtained from the sacred tower of Heaven-on-High, while others say Gun obtained the soil from the dragon lords beneath the sea. This magical soil was said to expand on its own upon contact with water, making it particularly well-suited to the construction of dams or levees. For a few years, this appeared to work. Yet after a time, the floods returned in greater strength than before. As the earthen levees rose higher from expansion due to water, they eventually could support themselves no more and collapsed, resulting in countless deaths. With the failure of the levees, King Wu’s successor Shu held Gun responsible as the master builder and sentenced him to death to placate the spirits of the deceased. Before his beheading, the disgraced builder bade his son Yu swear to succeed where he had failed.

The Founding of a Dynasty: Xia (c. 4,500 y.a.)

The origin of the first post-Allagan dynasty to dominate Othard is explicitly tied in most accounts to the legend of Yu taming the floods. As an adult, Yu became a trusted adviser to King Shu and took up his late father’s task. Living amongst the people, Yu sought their knowledge while carefully studying the rivers and lands of the region. Drawing upon the wisdom of farmers and other common people, he devised a solution drastically different from the one his father attempted. Instead of obstructing overflowing waters using levees, Yu chose to reduce the likelihood of flooding through redirection of river flows. To personally oversee the construction of canals and fields, he lived and worked alongside the common laborers, often in harsh and austere conditions. For years they toiled to construct an extensive network of canals that drained excess water into fields and opened new pathways for the river to flow into the Ruby Sea.

Before Yu’s project, the One River was not entirely free to flow towards the Ruby Sea. As the river flowed south from the Azim Steppe, its flow was limited by a narrow mountain pass that at times became dammed by the natural accumulation of river sediments. The formation of these natural underwater dams would cause great accumulations of water and energy until finally, it could be held back no more. Such a devastating release of water and physical energy would sometimes cause the river’s course to change as it sought the path of least resistance, potentially shifting the mouth of the river north or south by as much as 500 miles. To mitigate against such explosive releases of water, Yu personally led thousands of workers to the northern mountains and widened the pass, which allowed the waters to flow more freely.

Not content with merely redirecting the waters, Yu labored further to dredge the riverbeds of excess sediment that contributed to rising floodwaters. In all, the effort took thirteen years. Yet it proved to be a great success. In the many years following Yu’s grand project, not once did the river bring disaster. Instead, agricultural production surged as the waters irrigated countless fields and the region along the One River became known for its warm summer growing season.

For his contributions, King Shu rewarded Yu with a fief named “Xia,” meaning summer in the old language of the region. Yu and his descendants would take the name of their fief as their surname, a practice sometimes followed by the newly ennobled. As agricultural production grew following Yu’s stoppage of the floods, the Xia clan’s power and prestige rose within the royal court. In the later years of Shu’s rule, Yu was even given command of an army to bring peace to the southern border tribes. At the time, an alliance of Hyur, Roegadyn, and Raen tribal lords known as the Sanhao (Three Tyrants) had joined forces to exploit their weaker neighbors. Yu’s army swiftly defeated the three tribes, who were then exiled south of the One River’s lower reaches into what is today known as Nagxia. Of Yu’s many deeds, another notable act would be the division of central Othard into regions known as the “Nine Provinces” or “Jiuzhou.” At that time, these regions were established mainly as geographic distinctions based on Yu’s accounts of the kingdom during his projects, however later dynasties would eventually formalize these as administrative provinces.

Yu’s achievements and the power of the Xia clan were held in high regard, and when King Shu grew older and sought to abdicate to a suitable successor, Yu was considered without equal as a candidate. Thus, the throne passed to Yu upon Shu’s retirement and marked the beginning of the Xia dynasty. When Yu’s own reign eventually came to an end, his son would inherit the throne, ending the previous custom of bestowing rule upon the worthiest man and setting a precedent for the custom of dynastic or hereditary rule.

Summer Turns to Autumn: Xia Falls to Qiu (c. 4,200 y.a.)

Up until this point, many of the events described before and after Allagan rule have been compiled from oral histories and writings dating from much later periods than the events described. As such, the historicity of some previously discussed events and persons in these writings cannot be conclusively confirmed. The earliest verifiable post-Allagan records of Far Eastern history date from approximately 4,200 years ago, as the “Forgotten Age” following the collapse of the Allagan Empire neared its end in Othard. During this time, the ancient Far Eastern script of logograms first emerged as writing began to evolve from pictograms developed during the lost years.

Inscribed fragments of bone and shell “records” dating from this period document the presence of a well-organized kingdom along the banks of the One River in central Othard. Archaeological discoveries of bronze and jade artifacts in this region also provide evidence for some level of technological development.

The early records and artifacts from this period are generally ascribed to scholars and officials from an early dynasty known as Qiu, meaning “autumn.” Centered along the middle reaches of the One River, several hundred miles north of present-day Doma, records regarding the origin of Qiu are sparse and often merge with mythological tales of gods and kings.

The most recognized historical account of Qiu’s emergence involves the first post-Allagan dynasty, Xia, founded by the legendary Roegadyn river-tamer, Yu. After nearly three hundred years of rule by Yu’s descendants, Xia fell into decline at the hands of a corrupt and tyrannical ruler who was overthrown by the Hyur founder of the Qiu dynasty. Despite overthrowing the previous dynasty, the founder of Qiu is recorded as granting a title and token fief to the surviving Xia clansmen. This act is characterized by eastern scholars as a virtuous sign of the new dynasty’s respect for the previous dynasty and marked the passing of a divine mandate from one dynasty to the next. Many later dynastic changes would follow this example, establishing a custom known as the two crownings and three respects.

Sprawling ruins along the southern edge of the Fanged Crescent have been suggested by some as evidence for a well-organized civilization corresponding to traditional stories of the Qiu dynasty. This has been supported by the discovery of engraved tortoiseshell fragments documenting questions pertaining to matters of governance, such as agricultural activities, military movements, royal marriages, and much more. Yet owing to their relatively recent discovery within the past hundred years, many of these records have not been thoroughly deciphered. Furthermore, most discovered records are believed to date to the latter part of the Qiu dynasty. For these reasons, a thorough and well-established chronology or accounting of this period does not yet exist.

However, one can at least confidently say that trade routes which may have once connected the Three Great Continents under the Allagan Empire do not appear to have been restored by this time. The variety of artifacts attributed to this period is too limited in apparent origins to support any theories of extensive trade networks during the Qiu dynasty. Instead, Qiu would likely have been limited to trade and diplomatic relations with neighboring border tribes and small coastal settlements along the East Othard coastline.

Autumn Turns to Winter: Han Encircles Qiu (c. 4,000 y.a.)

As we arrive four thousand years ago, at the beginning of the “Age of Endless Frost” described by Eorzean historians, it is important to note that such an event may not have uniformly affected the Three Great Continents. Given that little of note appears to have been written by eastern historians regarding such a global fall in temperatures, some suspect this calamitous change had less pronounced effects in the Far East, allowing the persistence of a relatively favorable environment for ancient civilizations to continue in their development. The worst of the cooling climate’s effects in Othard may have largely been constrained to the northlands occupied by the Xaela tribes of the Azim Steppe and beyond, although famines and southward migrations of northern tribes were documented even in central Othard.

In the later years of the Qiu dynasty, the throne once again became tainted by depravity and cruelty. Inexplicably cooling temperatures that had swept from beyond the Azim Steppe caused widespread famine and discontent in the northern part of the kingdom, yet the King of Qiu refused to open the royal granary to feed the citizens. By this time, Qiu governance largely relied upon a clan known by the name of Wen which was linked inextricably with the Qiu royal family by marriage and political alliances. Much of the imperial court and military was controlled by the Wen clan, whose members held positions throughout all facets of government. As the King of Qiu became less and less predictable, paranoia and the whispers of his favorite consort persuaded the king to turn on the Wen clan, who he feared would seize his kingdom.

After forcibly securing the kingdom’s northern border by conquering several neighboring tribes who had fled south to escape the suddenly cooling climate of the far north, the eldest and most promising son of the Wen clan’s main line was ambushed by assassins. Evidence linked the assassination to the King of Qiu, provoking the Wen clan and its allies into open conflict with their ruler.

Declaring that heaven mandated the Wen clan replace the King of Qiu in the name of righteousness, the patriarch of the Wen clan gathered forces in preparation to march upon the capital. As word spread of Wen’s intent to rebel, popular support became increasingly vocal due to the ruthlessness of the King of Qiu at the time. When Wen forces advanced on the capital, many conscripted Qiu soldiers surrendered or even defected to the advancing army.

The conflict culminated in the Battle of the Western Plains, where the Wen armies destroyed the remaining Qiu loyalists in a bloody clash that forced the King of Qiu to retreat from the battlefield to the inner confines of the royal palace. In a final act of defiance, the King of Qiu set fire to the palace and locked himself within, choosing to burn to death rather than be captured or humiliated by the Wen clan. His consort escaped the blaze, however she was ultimately captured by the Wen patriarch and executed for her role in turning the king against them.

With the end of Qiu, the Wen claim that heaven’s mandate had passed to them was seemingly legitimized and efforts were immediately made to solidify their rule as the rulers declared the name of their dynasty to be “Han.” This name was allegedly chosen due to its archaic meaning of an enclosure surrounding a well, with the well in this case referring to the fertile lands of central Othard. A less popular theory also proposes it was selected due to being a hom*ophone for another word meaning“winter,” which follows autumn in the order of seasons and would symbolize Han’s succession of Qiu.

The new rulers opened the royal granary and implemented a distribution system that moved the much-needed grain throughout the kingdom to parts most severely affected by famine. To strengthen the royal government, talented and virtuous Qiu officials were given offers to serve the nation and right the wrongs of the past dynasty. Despite the challenges posed by a changing climate, records show that the Han kingdom flourished as a time of cultural development. The beginnings of many established Far Eastern philosophies can be traced to this time, especially in the later part of the dynasty as great thinkers offered their talents to warring nobles.

The Language of Ritual

Under the Han dynasty, the old Yan language was enshrined in state rituals and ceremonies as the language of nobility, while the Nawa-influenced common tongue of Othard remained in daily use by most citizens. Written characters also evolved from the primitive script of the earlier Qiu dynasty into several additional scripts that served various purposes including one used for official purposes and inscriptions and another more ‘common’ script often used by scribes and low-ranking civil servants. It was during this time that “Yanxia” first appeared in records as a name for the Han dynasty’s territories and a common cultural ancestry ascribed to the tribes of central Othard. Despite cultural and administrative changes in later dynasties that would diminish the use of the old Yan language in favor of the more widely spoken Nawa-derived tongue, the name of “Yanxia” has persisted across millennia into the present-day.

Warriors and Scholars

At the peak of society during this period were the armed retainers of the royal family and warrior aristocracy. Known in the ritually significant old Yan language as “shi,” these were also described in the common tongue of Othard as “bushi” and “samurai” interchangeably. Masters in war and civil service, these ancient warriors have been compared by some to a similarly named class that developed in Hingashi. However, they differ in that the military role of mainland “shi” would diminish over time. Professionalization of the military and the development of a more extensive civil service administration gradually reduced the need to draw warriors from the aristocracy, while the needs of an expanded bureaucracy called for the skills of often well-educated and morally upright “shi.”

Eastern Feudalism

The feudal structure of early dynastic Othard was distinct from the earlier system of military feudalism instituted by east Allagan military governors in the Third Astral Era. First established by the kingdoms preceding the Xia dynasty, this system included several ranks of noble titles which the kings of Othard would confer upon their relatives and elite warrior allies along with inheritable lands through the act of enfeoffment. Unlike the earlier east Allagan military government’s feudal territories which were administered in the name of the emperor, lands allocated by the kings of dynastic Othard were fully transferred into the control of the receiving vassals as their own domains. These lands were not given as simple gifts, however, as the enfeoffed rulers of these vassal states were expected to pay tribute to their king and provide military support in times of war.

During the Han dynasty, this system created numerous states as the kingdom expanded east of the One River. In the early years, most fiefs were given to members of the royal house or their loyal allies while nobles from previous dynasties were relegated to small and distant domains on the periphery of the kingdom.

Winter Turns to Spring: Dukes Become Kings (c. 3600 y.a.)

Following an attack by an alliance of Raen and Hyur nomads from the northwest in the middle years of the Han dynasty, the royal capital was moved east of the One River. The move distanced the ruling Wen clan from its ancestral holdings and its logistical, military, and political costs contributed to the clan’s decline. At the same time, vassal states across the kingdom were gaining power and influence through conflicts with one another. As rebellious nobles, nomadic tribes, and other groups at the fringes of civilization threatened the Han borders, Han monarchs depended upon their most powerful vassals to conduct military operations against these threats. This dependency only further elevated the prestige and power of these powerful nobles to the point that they were effectively rulers of equal standing to the Han monarchs in all but name.

In the late years of the Han dynasty, the rulers of the vassal state Lu in the heart of the kingdom faced a succession crisis. Taking advantage of the unrest, several powerful families in control of various cities in the state collectively deposed the Duke of Lu and divided the state amongst themselves. These families became the de facto rulers of three new states. However, the division of Lu removed one of the chief rivals to the neighboring state of Cui, which upset the balance of power as previously negotiated spheres of influence between Lu and Cui were negated. With the appearance of a sudden power vacuum, competition for hegemony between states began anew.

As borders shifted and the rulers of various states grew in power from their conquests, some nobles determined the time was right to cast off pretenses. First among these was the Duke of Cui who had grown dissatisfied with lesser titles of nobility after conquering several other states. (For clarity, “Duke” or other foreign feudal titles are only used here as loose translations and not wholly equivalent to the titles used in western feudal systems.) Believing a more suitable title was needed to match his accomplishments, the Duke of Cui made the unprecedented decision to declare himself King of Cui, effectively claiming his state’s independence from the Han dynasty. Other nobles would soon follow suit as they too consolidated power over the lands in their vicinity, marking the beginning of the Warring States period.

#yanxia#ffxiv-shiji#izakaya-jinh

ffxiv-shiji

Jul 1, 2022

THE AGELESS SONG OF WAR: An Art of Heroic Performance

Some lore regarding a form of“summoning” used by certain musical performers in the Far East to channel the spirits of ancient heroes both on the stage and in battle.

Across thousands of years, countless civilizations have amassed songs and stories of heroic deeds performed in the fires of war. Reverence of these heroes has raised many a mortal to the seat of godhood, most notably in the Far East where ancestors are worshipped as man’s link between the mundane and the divine. Even in the western lands of Eorzea, it is believed by some that the Twelve were once mortals who eventually attained divinity.

The epics and ballads composed by those who journeyed with these heroes and recorded their deeds were once commonly heard in the palaces and encampments of ancient kings and generals. Whether celebrating their allies and ancestors or evoking their greatness to rouse one’s martial soul in preparation for battle, the most famous of these songs and tales were considered essentials in any performer’s repertoire. What all great poets and musicians desired even more, however, was to bear witness to greatness in their own time and compose their own work to immortalize it.

In the Far East, many ranking officials and esteemed warriors were also musicians themselves, with mastery of the fine arts considered just as essential as mastery of martial arts among the educated classes. Thus, it was not uncommon for famous songs and poems about historic battles and events to be the work of the very same people who observed or participated in them. Perhaps precisely for this reason, the power of emotions and realism is seen by some to be even more profound and powerful in these works than that of fictionalized accounts crafted by later composers.

Immortalized as “classics” in Far Eastern education and studies of the arts, many historic compositions have been passed down in their original form or extremely close approximations. Annotations and commentaries have been made by scholars and nobles across the years, giving these works further depth through their analysis. While most records are engraved upon bundles of bamboo slips or inked in silk-bound volumes of paper sheets, there are some that have been discovered as “memories” sealed within the crystalline jewelry and accessories commonly seen in Far Eastern attire. Close study and examination have revealed some to be the possessions of renowned heroes, imbued with not only the full depth of emotion from their compositions, but also filled with years of accumulated spiritual energy encapsulating the essence of their knowledge and numerous skills. In some cases, repeated renditions of songs and poems by other musicians has also accumulated the power of belief and fervent desire in other crystals borne by famed performers throughout the ages.

These accessories have come to be seen as talismans and magical tools by some specializing in various schools of Far Eastern sorcery. Capable of transmitting ancient techniques and serving as focuses for arcane power, such crystals are also prized by musicians who seek to fully relive the past and bring a new level of authenticity to their performances. In particular, the combination of Far Eastern musical arts and sorcery by some has created a new form of performance, in which the essence of a past hero is called forth through a trancelike state that seizes the performer and wraps them in magical energy that takes the form of the hero’s full armament and costume. In this state, the performer calls forth the techniques of the summoned hero and channels them as if they were their own, giving the most true-to-life performance that one can possibly demand.

The most skilled performers of this art doubly empower themselves by simultaneously channeling the essence of a summoned hero and manipulating their instruments to give voice to the hero’s lingering and undying emotions. Through these heroic songs, their allies gain strength as well, while other songs of resentment chill their enemies to the bone.

To utilize these crystals, however, is not a simple task. By attuning one’s self so closely to the essence of another soul, one is exposed in full to countless memories of all kinds, including those perhaps traumatic in nature as well. Thus, to successfully and truly channel a heroic spirit, those who wish to give them voice must enter a trial of the mind in which those memories are relived. Only those who successfully emerge from these trials may fully bring forth the essence of these crystallized souls.

ffxiv-shiji

Jun 18, 2022

YANXIA - EAST ALLAG: The Allagan Era in the Far East

Yanxian History Masterpost

Previous: Yanxia - The Ancient Past

This second part recounts the eastern rule of the largest empire to rule the world; the western conquerors of our ancestors. Yet though our ancestors fell beneath Allag’s foreign banners, no empire has ever ruled eternal. And so I ask, what vestiges of it remain in our lives today?

Allagan Rule: The Eastern Territory

The Conquest of Othard (c. 5,900 y.a.)

In the years immediately following the death of Allag’s first emperor Xande, his direct descendants deployed their military strength far across the continents to the distant reaches of Ilsabard and Othard. Evidence suggests that during this time, Allagan forces swiftly moved across the continents with the aid of mighty airships that carried scores of unmatched mage battalions. It was during this age of conquest that the future of Othard took a drastic shift.

At the time of Allag’s first foray into the far east, the balance of power between various tribal groups lay largely in favor of the Yan tribe that ruled the central plains along the One River. Despite the martial prowess of the smaller Nawa tribe, Yan’s dominance remained mostly unchallenged for many years as other tribes pledged some degree of allegiance to its rulers.

As Allagan forces began to sweep eastward, however, a priestess of the Nawa claimed that the heavens decreed the end of Yan and the coming of a divine storm from the west that would usher in a new age. When clouds of Allagan airships darkened the skies of Othard and emissaries descended to meet with the leaders of the eastern tribes, the proud rulers of Yan scoffed at their request for peaceful surrender while the Nawa saw the Allagans as heralds of the promised future. Rather than surrender, Nawa leaders privately requested to join forces with the Allagans in their conquest of Othard.

Recognizing the benefit of using local warriors instead of risking their own, Allagan commanders authorized mages to support the Nawa. Strengthened in battle by powerful magics and aided by the destructive power of Allagan aetherochemistry, the Nawa armies rapidly crushed the smaller tribes loyal to Yan. As Allagan forces occupied the conquered territories, Yan found itself waging a lonely resistance that soon crumbled in the face of the emboldened Nawa onslaught. Within a short span, all Othard came under Allagan control at virtually no cost to the empire.

The Eastern Empire (c. 5,899 y.a.)

With the establishment of Allagan rule over Othard, the Nawa rose to prominence as members of the tribe were rewarded with positions in the region’s military government. Officially under the control of an Allagan governor, the empire’s eastern territories were administered by a mix of Allagan citizens and Nawa appointees.

A crucial element of ruling an empire as vast as Allag was the use of common language to streamline economic and administrative affairs. Throughout the empire, official documentation was largely recorded in the western common tongue and using Allagan script. However, local tongues and scripts often persisted despite imperial mandates regarding the official language. It was not uncommon for merchants and officials of local origin to know multiple languages to facilitate their business.

As Nawa involvement in Allagan governance of Othard grew, so too did the number of records in both the Allagan and Nawa language. Recently unearthed evidence has suggested that under Allagan rule, elements of the Yan and Nawa languages melded to create a tongue close to that of modern Othard. The precise mechanics of this change are unclear, but one theory posits that rather than erase all traces of their defeated rivals, the Nawa adopted elements of Yan culture as their own in a form of cultural succession. Furthermore, while little is known today of ancient Othardian writing before or during Allagan rule, it is the view of some modern Yanxian scholars that the Nawa and other groups would likely have used the ancient Yan script in some form due to the kingdom’s position as suzerain to many of its neighbors.

Throughout the history of Allag, Othard was not only geographically removed from the imperial capital in Aldenard, but also politically and administratively distant. Rule of the eastern continent by the military governor was mostly independent of interference by capital officials so long as imperial control over the territory remained stable and trade continued to flow.

Exercising their largely unchallenged power over the continent, decrees and administrative actions by successive governors gradually transformed Othard from an imperial occupation into a feudal military dictatorship in all but name. Land throughout the continent was increasingly reorganized into administrative divisions controlled by influential local military leaders. Nominally sworn to the Allagan emperor through a proxy, the military governor, many of these officials were principally loyal to their own ambitions and often vied with one another to secure greater influence. A close descendant of this system would later emerge in the nation of Hingashi, which is believed by some to have been founded by Allagan refugees in the Fourth Umbral Era following the empire’s collapse.

The Fall of an Empire (c. 5,000 - 4,995 y.a.)

Towards the later part of Allagan rule, the resurrected Emperor Xande imperiled the world with a dream of deathly cataclysm, stirring unrest throughout the Empire. Findings from renowned adventurers have revealed that during this time, the Empire’s technologists brought their attention to the far continent of Othard. Acting ostensibly under the emperor’s orders, they traveled to the northern steppe and there carved a gash into the mountains. Within that gash, the technologists erected a structure which at their command, stopped the natural flow of life energies that fed the land of western Othard. With its connection to the rest of the earth cut off, the once verdant land was then rent asunder as the Empire raised a portion of it into the sky. Yet the fate of its inhabitants, both beast and tree alike, remains unknown to this day, as seemingly all records of their existence were erased from history. Not long afterwards, the red moon Dalamud would also rise to circle the planet’s white moon. In modern accounts of eastern history, the rise of the red moon is depicted as a calamitous omen that signaled the end of the Allagan Empire. Throughout the millennia of history, observations of its motion would also be documented by eastern astrologists, with even the slightest deviation at times interpreted as a sign of heavenly reproach or imminent disaster.

Some eastern Allagan recordings from this period reveal a series of rebellions by descendants of Othard’s ancient tribes. Driven by a wave of cultural and historical rediscovery as well as discontent with Allagan rule, these rebellions were led by self-proclaimed inheritors of the tribes’ legacy as well as disgruntled Allagan mages seeking to break away from an empire in turmoil. Rebellion and internal strife between members of the military government led to a complete collapse of administration in Othard. By the time word came of the capital’s fall, Allag’s hold over Othard had already crumbled. News of the empire’s end is believed to have broken the spirits of any remaining Allagan loyalists, and only further emboldened those dedicated to independence.

Resigned to the knowledge that their time in power was at an end, the last Allagan governor of Othard gathered those of Allagan blood as well as the many Nawa descendants among the administration and military forces. Based on limited archaeological evidence, some believe the former governor led these refugees across the Ruby Sea in a desperate attempt at survival, eventually reaching the isles that make up modern-day Hingashi. Records discovered in Yanxian cave systems dating to the later years of Allag document the existence of a shaman queen who once ruled those isles and even sent tribute to the Empire’s eastern governor. However, modern histories of Hingashi omit any mention of this specific ruler and it is suspected by some that her kingdom was usurped by the arriving Allagan and Nawa refugees and scrubbed from the historical record.

In the wake of Allag’s ignominious fall, lust for knowledge was seen to be a vice across the world. By reaching too far into the realm of the gods, mankind had sinned, bringing about their own destruction. Records were destroyed and with the abandonment of written knowledge, the keeping of history was left to oral traditions. Cautionary stories were told, with tales of the once-glorious Empire’s rise and fall twisted beyond recognition as local storytellers adapted and revised them for greater effect.

Next: Yanxia - The Seasons of Change

#yanxia#ffxiv-shiji#izakaya-jinh

ffxiv-shiji

Jun 18, 2022

YANXIA - THE ANCIENT PAST: A Yanxian Creation Myth, Forgotten Origins, and Pre-Allagan Othard

Yanxian History Masterpost

This first part recounts the ancient past; the story of our world’s creation and echoes of our distant ancestors. What legacy did they leave those who followed? How did they shape what was to come?

Yanxian Creation Myth

In many popular Yanxian mythological traditions, the origin of the world is traced to the birth of an ancient giant who sundered the energies of the primordial universe to give form to creation.

“In the beginning, there was nothing.

The vast expanse we call the cosmos was made of only formless and uncontrolled energies. Over time, these energies came together in the form of a great cosmic egg. Within the egg, the ungoverned energy of the universe came into a state of balance as it coalesced into two opposing aspects – yin and yang. And as these opposites balanced themselves, the first being came into existence within the egg.

Emerging fully formed from the egg with a massive axe in hand, the giant Pangu sundered the two aspects from their intimately balanced state. From yin, he created the earth, while from yang he gave form to the heavens. Standing between the two, the giant raised up the sky. As Pangu pushed the sky further from the earth, so too did he grow taller.

After thousands of years, at last Pangu himself died. What remained of his body filled the universe: His last breaths gave birth to the wind, mist, and clouds; his final roar became heaven’s thunder. His right eye became the moon, while his left became the sun. As his skull and limbs came to rest upon the earth, they gave form to the great mountains and valleys of the world, and the blood that seeped from his corpse carved channels into the earth, becoming the rivers and seas. His veins gave form to the natural paths seen throughout nature, while his qi meridians became the currents of energy that flow throughout the universe. Pangu’s sweat evaporated into clouds and became the life-giving rain. His flesh turned to fertile soil and the dense fur that covered the primordial giant’s body would take root as bushes and forests. From his scalp, his hair drifted into the heavens to become the stars. After all else had joined with nature, finally his bones and their marrow would become the hardened bounty beneath the surface of the earth, its precious minerals, metals, and jewels.

And what of life? The fleas and parasites that once latched upon Pangu’s fur and body fell to the ground as he died, and over thousands of years these creatures became the animals and people that roam the world. Thus, it is said that all creation owes its existence to Pangu. From one being’s sundering of the universe, all aspects of energy, matter, and existence were given form.”

While the veracity of this tale is certainly suspect, it remains one of the most well-known.

Forgotten Origins

While the speech of East Othard is most recognizable to the west in the form of a heavily Hingan-influenced language, in truth the history is more complex.

During the period known to Eorzean scholars as the Third Astral Era, the Allagan Empire emerged as the eminent civilization of its day. The Three Great Continents of Aldenard, Ilsabard, and Othard fell to Allagan control and ushered in a thousand years of imperial rule.

Yet what of the languages spoken across such an expansive Empire, or the people living in its far-flung reaches? How is it that the modern speech of Othard differs so greatly from that of its western neighbors? And how did it come to pass that select words of varied origin came to exist in the land of Yanxia?

To answer these questions, we must travel far into the ancient past – to the birth of eastern civilization.

Pre-Allagan Othard

The Birth of Civilization (c. 10,000 - 9,500 y.a.)

Prior to Allagan rule over Othard, the continent was populated by numerous tribal chiefdoms. According to the histories compiled by later Yanxian scholars, these various peoples were at times united by great rulers who commanded the loyalty of powerful and courageous heroes possessing the power of gods. Enthroned by the will of the cosmos, these rulers earned the divine right to rule through their immense wisdom and benevolence. Each granted the skills and knowledge of early civilization to the common people, improving their lives and guiding them to periods of great peace, thus establishing what would be known as the Yanxian ideal of the virtuous sage-king. However, the truth of such tales remains unproven, and modern scholars with a more critical eye suggest that many are at least semi-mythological with embellishments made to help shape and justify the philosophies of rule in later eras.

What most scholars do agree upon is that in the early part of this pre-Allagan history, the races of central and east Othard were primarily limited to the Hyur and Roegadyn, with the former far outnumbering the latter. In the northern steppe, two Au Ra clans clashed in the name of the gods, or so the modern telling of their story goes. To the south, the Viera kept largely to themselves in the humid jungle and forested mountain foothills, while the deserts were sparsely inhabited by groups of Bangaa and Hyur. The remaining lands to the west have been simultaneously reported by conflicting sources as both a verdant region once teeming with life in the distant past and a vast wind-blown expanse of mountains and deserts dotted with oases and traced by rivers. Regardless of which, in the present day the western part of Othard has been reduced to a barren and aether-starved desert known as “The Burn.” What peoples once dwelled in its lands are now a mystery that remains yet unsolved.

As the first civilizations of this region emerged, so too did the first large-scale evidence of man’s propensity for violence and greed. Archaeological discoveries dating to this period provide evidence for production of primarily bronze weapons with some examples of iron swords toward the later part of the warring era. Western scholars will note that the timing and nature of these developments appears to mirror their current understanding of Eorzea’s First Astral Era, the Age of Man. The wars and competition for resources during this age are suspected to have displaced the less populous races of the Three Great Continents, scattering them across the globe in search of safe havens.

The Way of Heaven (c. 7,500 - 7,499 y.a.)

Like their Eorzean counterparts, Othardian civilizations would also experience a major calamity ending the age of early man when the volcanoes of the eastern seas violently erupted and plunged the continent into darkness and unending levin. As a result of this calamitous period of global unrest, man turned once more to the gods and gathered in the light of prayer. The power of whispered prayers made manifest became the first spells and incantations, and in time, those who showed a talent for wielding such techniques rose to positions of prominence within communities.

Leaders of new philosophical and religious movements in Othard drew upon the legends of earlier sage-kings and contrasted them with later despots who brought ruin to their people. Claiming that catastrophes were a sign of heaven’s displeasure with the rulers, the leaders of these new schools of thought and faith each warned that only through their teachings would rulers earn and maintain the mandate of heaven.

In stark contrast to their western counterparts however, Othardian faiths were rarely grounded in unwavering devotion to a single god. Instead, studies of Othardian theology suggest that at the core of many Far Eastern faiths is a belief that the cosmos is governed by a universal principle shared across all things. This universal principle takes the form of a supreme, cosmic order that governs all divinities, which are merely manifestations of heaven’s power, but also finds itself manifested in all things within the earthly realm such that even the mountains and rivers may be worshipped as spiritual entities. Furthermore, extraordinary men may become deities should their deeds and legacies warrant such honors. Indeed, even the ancestors of Othardian peoples are worshipped by their descendants as their own human connection to Heaven which governs all things.

The prototypical Othardian state during this age of renewed faith was governed by a shaman king responsible for both communing with Heaven on behalf of the people and administering the state as its chief official. As the study of heaven and earth continued to develop, schools of eastern geomancy and astrology emerged to provide guidance in matters of war, urban planning, agriculture, divination, and much more. Early rulers were often responsible for conducting rituals and ceremonies to maintain favor with the heavens and ensure the welfare of the state. Over time, as expansive bureaucracies emerged as the principal form of government administration in Othard, the performance of routine magical and religious functions was delegated to specific ministries while the ruler’s direct participation was reserved for specific ceremonies of critical importance to the state, such as annual ritual sacrifices for good harvests.

During this age of great faith, as power and control of resources became increasingly centralized under the rule of these Othardian kings, many great architectural feats were accomplished. Some historians believe that the towering Heaven-on-High located along the East Othard coastline is a relic of this period, as descriptions of some upper levels of the structure cannot be fully reconciled with the known Othardian architectural styles of later eras. It is also suggested that large stone structures depicting Au Ra gods in the Azim Steppe originate from a rare period of unity during this time. Unproven rumors relayed by select tribes in the far north of Othard beyond the Steppe speak of a third Au Ra clan with beautiful multicolored scales who served as divine speakers for the elder gods and ruled over their Xaela and Raen cousins. However, these stories do not explain why this clan appears to have been obliterated from memory. All that is said regarding this is that some great calamity befell the people of the north, destroying the unity of the clans and instigating the Raen migrations away from the Steppe.

As the Raen departed from the Steppe and dispersed across the world, many settled in the neighboring region of central Othard that is now known as Yanxia. There they came into conflict with kingdoms of Hyur and Roegadyn, as the native dwellers of the region fiercely defended their lands from perceived invaders. Some of these early Raen settled at the fringes of the region, building fortified villages hidden within the wilderness while others sought to forge ties with the native peoples by offering their skills and services. Yet the wars and battles born of competing ambitions would continue to plague the region for years to come, and over time some groups of Raen thus chose to seek new horizons elsewhere.

The Rise and Fall of Suns (c. 6,100 y.a.)

Unlike Aldenard which suffered the brunt of the Calamity of Fire with the searing of Thanalan, impacts in the Far East were not quite so pronounced. The ancient mythology of Othard’s largest pre-Allagan kingdom, Yan, attributes the survival of the continent to a mighty Raen archer, Hou Yi. His legend tells that one day, ten sun-bearing ravens emerged and scorched the earth with their radiance. Commanded by the King of Yan, Hou Yi attempted to persuade the ravens to have mercy. When they failed to listen, the archer urged them to leave with a warning shot. In the end, he was forced to shoot them down one by one, until only one remained.

With the crisis averted, life continued to flourish in the Far East. However, it is said in some accounts that by shooting down the ravens, Hou Yi earned the ire of the gods. Along the eastern coast of Othard, a sun-worshipping tribe known as the Nawa also began to look upon the people of Yan with deep suspicion. Oral records of some present-day Ruby Sea fishing villages note the slaying of the suns was thought to forewarn of a Yan threat to the fortunes of the Nawa.

Despite the tensions between the two largest tribes of Othard, archaeological evidence suggests regular trade and cultural exchange between the Yan and Nawa. Burial sites unearthed during state-led construction projects in later periods also depict competing spheres of influence over other tribes throughout the continent. The significant presence of non-Yan artifacts recovered within sites attributed to the Yan tribe suggests possible suzerainty over neighboring tribes. In contrast, Nawa artifacts indicate a strong martial tradition that regularly tested the limits of Yan influence through conquest over its neighboring tribes. Conflicts during this period are said to have allowed Raen warriors to distinguish themselves and forge their place in the sociopolitical fabric of central and eastern Othard. Select groups of more peace-loving Raen would also depart the mainland during this time, seeking refuge beneath the waters of the eastern seas or traveling further west across the continents.

Next: Yanxia - East Allag

#yanxia#ffxiv-shiji#izakaya-jinh

ffxiv-shiji

Jun 18, 2022

YANXIA: THE CRADLE OF AMBITION

The history of Yanxia and Othard as a whole is an unending series of poems and songs, driven by the desires of powerful men and tempered by the virtues of peerless individuals. Much has been lost to time, yet there are those who steadfastly safeguard the past and others who brave ancient perils to shed light upon that which we have forgotten. It is with their aid that I bring forth Yanxia’s story of unending ambition.

As this is a particularly long tale, it shall be told in parts. For one’s ease of consumption, they shall be compiled in a list here for convenient access.

The Ancient Past: A Yanxian Creation Myth, Forgotten Origins, and Pre-Allagan Othard

East Allag: The Allagan Era in the Far East

The Seasons of Change: The Rebirth of Eastern Civilization

#yanxia#ffxiv-shiji#izakaya-jinh

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

MASTER OF THE STRINGS OF FATE: THE WANDERING PUPPETEER

A brief introduction to a non-canon Far Eastern mixed melee/ranged summoner-style puppeteer job called “kairaishi” that I’ve come up with. Some notes taken from FFXIV canon, others taken from real life traditions such as Buddhism, Daoism, Chinese folk religion and martial arts, etc.

Across the Far East, there are tales of peculiar entertainers that wander from town to town carrying boxes of doll-like marionettes. Stopping to give performances of vivid storytelling to afford their stay within each town, they preserve the myths and history of the East in their role as living libraries. While adored by the common people and children in particular, some of these itinerant puppeteers serve another less pleasant purpose as well.

THE STYGIAN PROSECUTOR

Within the craft of the kuileishi or kairaishi as these wandering puppeteers are known in the East, there are those who wield unusually lifelike puppets in their performances. While seemingly the product of extraordinary craftsmanship and the puppeteer’s skill, in truth, these are the work of a secretive arcane tradition.

Sworn to the service of the netherworld judge-king Yama, these kairaishi pursue justice for the dead in the realm of the living. Those who have escaped their fated end or have committed grave misdeeds are hastened to their judgment by the kairaishi. Ghosts and demons are not safe from the kairaishi either, as the puppeteers are empowered by Yama to bring those spirits to justice as well.

As agents of Yama, the kairaishi are aided by demons and ghosts who are bound to them at the behest of Zhong Kui, Yama’s appointed King of Ghosts. These lesser spirits come forth from the netherworld and give life to the kairaishi’s puppet, serving as the puppeteer’s armed companions in battle. In exchange for their service, the lesser spirits are permitted to consume as sustenance the corporeal essence of those destined for hell.

Should the services of lesser spirits be insufficient for the task, some kairaishi may call forth the power of even more powerful beings, offering their own bodies as temporary vessels in exchange for greater strength.

Many kairaishi are born as commoners and lack the strong qi reserves of more prestigious martial and magical bloodlines. Their reliance upon otherworldly spirits to compensate for this weakness would be considered by some to be a “demonic path” of magic, and thus their skills and duties are kept a strict secret under blood oath. To expose themselves or their fellows is not only punishable by death at the hands of their own, but also risks revealing their techniques to outsiders and arousing the wrath of orthodox traditions.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

Puppet Box - All kairaishi are known to carry upon their backs a box of some kind which houses their selection of dolls and puppets. For those in the service of Yama, the boxes they use are typically enhanced with additional hidden mechanisms that allow for the release and return of their combat companions at a moment’s notice.

Spirit Vessel - A specially constructed puppet made to host a spirit from the darkness of the netherworld. The materials and construction of the puppet facilitate a higher degree of mobility and durability than most stage puppets. There are some similarities to the golem-like bodies constructed by onmyoji to host shikigami, most likely due to shared roots in earlier Far Eastern magic traditions.

Chain Whip - Beyond being adept at manipulating puppets using strings or other techniques, most kairaishi who follow Yama may also be trained in the use of chain whips which provide them with a weapon that can effectively strike from a distance while remaining unpredictable in movement and difficult for an opponent to defend against.

JUDGE, JURY, AND EXECUTIONER:

The magics at a kairaishi’s disposal are largely influenced by the spirits summoned to possess their puppets on the battlefield. While all of Yama’s kairaishi are trained to use a selection of basic spells without the aid of their puppets, only by bringing forth the power of the netherworld through their summoned spirits does a kairaishi truly shine in their role as the agent of Hell’s judgment. A brief selection of some kairaishi abilities is listed below.

Puppet Possession: Shiromujo - Calls forth a friendly and approachable spirit to possess a white-clad puppet. This spirit aids the kairaishi with defensive and restorative abilities while also providing light offensive assistance. Upon dissipation, Shiromujo must briefly rest before returning from the nether.

Puppet Possession: Kuromujo - Calls forth a stern and fearsome spirit to possess a black-clad puppet. This spirit aids the kairaishi with offensive and empowering abilities while providing moderate offensive assistance. Upon dissipation, Kuromujo must briefly rest before returning from the nether.

Puppet Possession: Shoki - Briefly calls forth a warlike spirit to possess an armor-clad puppet. Dissipates all other spirits upon summoning. This spirit aids the kairaishi by significantly enhancing all offensive capabilities and bestows the Robes of Judgment. A light restorative spell is cast upon all allies as Shoki manifests. Upon dissipation, re-summons the previously summoned spirit to the battlefield.

Robes of Judgment - While Shoki is summoned, the kairaishi is clad in robes that evoke the image of Hell’s judge-king Yama. Powerful spells that would otherwise be impossible for the kairaishi become available as they channel the power of their netherworld patron. Robes of Judgment disappear upon dissipation of Shoki.

Condemnation: Pratapana - Condemns the target to a fiery judgment as a dozen flaming tridents pierce their body. Inflicts severe fire-aspected damage. Can only be executed while clad in Robes of Judgment.

Condemnation: Padma - Condemns the target and all nearby enemies to an icy judgment as a blizzard engulfs the area. Inflicts severe ice-aspected damage to the first target and moderately less for all other enemies. Can only be executed while clad in Robes of Judgment.

Divine Judgment: Thousand-Fold Execution - A force of will allows the kairaishi to exceed their limits and channel the power of Yama. Enshrouds the enemy within a bubble of altered time and space. A thousand punishments occur in an instant. Upon dissolution of the bubble, the enemy receives massive damage.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

THE CROOKED PATH: LORDS OF DEMONIC CULTIVATION

A brief introduction to a non-canon far eastern pseudo-mage job called “kidoshi” that I’ve come up with. Some notes taken from FFXIV canon, others taken from Mo Dao Zu Shi as well as real life traditions such as Daoism, Buddhism, Chinese martial arts, etc.

In ancient times, far from the supposedly aether-rich lands of Eorzea, an unusual discipline of magic emerged in Othard.

Traditionally, magic has been understood by many throughout the world to rely upon one’s aether, or as it is known in the East, qi. Far Eastern magic in particular is intrinsically tied to martial arts due to a shared reliance on qi as a source of energy. Yet not all are blessed with plentiful innate aether, and in some parts of the world even that aether which belongs to the land is lacking at times.

As trade flourished between Thavnair and the peoples of Othard, a concept known as akasa became known to Yanxian philosophers. A weak force in the hands of most, and one poorly understood due to the difficulty of observing its effects, the most basic theory of akasa assumed that somehow, as a counterpart to aether, it interacted with emotions. Compared to aether which is more easily observed and manipulated within the environment, however, akasa was never considered a reliable source of energy for any purpose. Due to its seemingly empty purpose, it became known as xu qi, or “emptiness.”

Yet in the minds of some Yanxian theorists, a new theory emerged. While many dismissed it as a meaningless subject of study, these few saw in it the potential to revolutionize Far Eastern magic.

To preface this theory: Traditional Yanxian philosophies dictate that there are Five Phases: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Rather than mere elements that represent the nature of substances, these are seen in the Far East to represent a cyclical relationship often used to portray changes in nature and society, as reflected in the naming of the concept. In addition to these five phases, all of existence is considered to be made up of yin and yang forces, which are ever shifting in balance. Yang, the force of light, activity, and masculinity. Yin, the force of darkness, passivity, and femininity.

In western magical studies, the Eastern concept of yin and yang is likened to the western understanding of umbral and astral states, where yin represents the umbral “dark” or “passive” state and yang represents the astral “light” or “active” state. However, this similarity is only partial and relies upon an orthodox understanding of qi in Far Eastern magic.

A FORCE OF FEELING:

It is unclear when precisely the theory originated due to destruction of records and suppression of knowledge regarding deviant paths of magic, but at some point in ancient Yanxian there emerged a proposal to realign the understanding of qi. This new school of thought embraced the concept of akasa as another form of qi, assigning the aspect of yin to the akasa known as xu qi and the aspect of yang to the aether traditionally understood as qi. An additional layer of complication came with the further differentiation of xu qi into yin and yang forms of yuan qi and xi qi, respectively known as resentful energy and cheerful energy. Within this new theory, xu qi was seen as an additional source of power that could be leveraged by those strong of will yet lacking in innate reserves of one’s innate qi.

A fundamental problem with the study of xu qi remained, though, which was the difficulty of observing or interacting with it. It was gradually understood that feats of unlikely strength in desperate moments might be attributed to one’s emotions affecting the xu qi surrounding them, thus manifesting their will in ways not typically possible through one’s innate ability to manipulate aether. Yet just as xu qi could allow one to exceed one’s limits, so too could it transform one into a monstrous being should its power be called forth by feelings of deep resentment or fear.

For its potential to unleash such monstrosities and its deviance from traditional thought, orthodox adherents of Yanxian philosophy opposed the new theory of xu qi, deeming it a perversion of the natural order. For deviating from orthodoxy, the study of xu qi was branded one of the “demonic paths” or modao, later known in the modern Hingan-influenced tongue as mado. More specifically, this path was distinguished from other demonic paths as the “ghostly path” or guidao, later known as kido. Practitioners are thus known as guidaoshi or kidoshi.

In response to persecution against them, some new theorists experimented with materials and techniques believed to amplify the effects of emotions and one’s convictions. Seeking to leverage the power of yuan qi against their enemies, these theorists only furthered the perception of their philosophy as that of an evil path. Due to poor self-restraint, many of these early kidoshi succumbed to their own dark emotions and transformed into monsters. Only the few who succeeded in mastering themselves survived to continue the study of xu qi in secret and pass their techniques on to select disciples.

Using the strong emotions of lingering shades and other beings as the source of their power, some of the most notorious kidoshi were known for manipulating shambling corpses which still retained some semblance of sentience long after their flesh had begun to decay. Songs that would drive ordinary men mad from the discordance of their tune stirred the unresolved feelings of these walking corpses, bending them to the will of their new masters as undead soldiers.

In time, other kidoshi would also learn to turn the living into unwilling puppets of their magics, turning them against others as monstrosities overtaken by blind rage and fear. Driven to madness by discordant songs and controlled using specially made tools, these living puppets were differentiated from true corpses in that they possessed the full mobility and strength of a living body, making them even more fearsome weapons than their truly deceased counterparts.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

Yin Tie Fa Qi - Literally “dark metal instrument”, this broad category of magical tools is specifically made from extremely pure meteoric iron. Originating in the vast emptiness of the cosmos, this material is believed to amplify the effects of the user’s emotions and aid in controlling xu qi. As such, this material is especially prized by practitioners of kido. Due to its rarity, it is extraordinarily expensive to procure and has also been subject to trade restrictions at various times in history. Tools made from yin tie may come in a variety of forms, however they all fulfill a core role as catalyst or focus for control of xu qi.

Pei Jian - A double-edged straight sword worn at one’s hip, this is the standard weapon of choice amongst Yanxian literati. There is speculation that this type of weapon is a predecessor to the Hingan ken or tsurugi. Most martial techniques used in kido are centered around the jian, however direct combat is strongly discouraged if at all possible due to the fundamental disadvantage that a kidoshi has against opponents who are able to channel aether into physical techniques. Instead, the kidoshi’s practice with the jian is seen more as a form of physical and mental training.

Musical Instruments - Like the Bards of Gridania, kidoshi are known for their songs, although these are often far harsher to the ear and rarely intended for the benefit of the listener. Using traditional instruments such as the Yanxian flute, zither, and lute, kidoshi command the battlefield from a distance by rousing the latent yuan qi of the corpses at their disposal. Some songs are also used to disrupt the mind and balance of enemies, causing them to fall ill or worse.

THE GHOSTLY PATH:

Due to the secrecy of kido as a path of study, most techniques are jealously guarded by masters and disciples. Even so, those who have survived encounters with kidoshi with their mind and body intact have documented some for the sake of future preparedness against those who follow this dark path.

Song of Torment - A discordant song that evokes the listener’s deepest fears, bringing them to bear in illusory form and weakening their every attack for its duration.

Raurava - A song of fearful urgency that evokes the imagery of a fiery hell, using the power of xu qi to turn an imagined sensation of burning into a brief yet terrifying reality upon the melody’s conclusion.

Arbuda - A chilling song that evokes the imagery of a frigid landscape, using the power of xu qi to turn the imagined sensation of freezing into an unbearable and blistering reality for its duration.

Nirarbuda - A brief set of notes that strikes momentary unease into the heart of the enemy, before suddenly bursting the blisters caused by the Song of Arbuda, inflicting horrifying pain across the entire body and leaving the enemy covered in frozen blood and pus.

Corpse Strike - Commands a controlled corpse to charge at an enemy and attack with their limbs.

Gnawing Bite - Commands a circle of controlled corpses to viciously attack all enemies within a moderate radius from the central target.

Gu - Cultivates a powerful poison within the body of the target upon each strike of this technique, extracting the cultivated poison for use upon the third strike.

Du Gu - Inflicts an enemy with a poison previously cultivated within another target. When poison has been extracted three times by Gu, the combined poisons achieve full potency.

Hexagram Array 36: Darkening of the Light - Shrouds the area in darkness and engulfs all enemies within the array’s radius in a waking nightmare of cosmic despair.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

FAR EASTERN MADO

A brief concept for a non-canon far eastern mage job called “madoshi” that I’ve come up with. Some notes taken from FFXIV canon, others taken from real life traditions such as onmyodo, Daoism, Buddhism, Shinto, etc.

The term “madoshi” is often used pejoratively to describe those who have turned to the ways of “evil” sorcery. Unlike traditional practitioners of magic belonging to specific schools or sects with rigid rules and regulations governing their behavior, madoshi follow no such orders, instead following their own way as rebels against magical orthodoxy. It can be said that even amongst madoshi, there is no agreement as to what the art means. If pressed though, some might say that it is defined by a disdain for restrictions and a reverence for magic alone.

The ultimate achievement sought in mado is the proposed combination of knowledge from multiple practices to create a unified master form of all far eastern magic. Known as the “Majutsu Taiho,” or “Grand System of Magic,” this total unification of far eastern magic is believed to be the restoration of magic to its root form as known to the gods.

Those considered madoshi often possess unusually strong magical aptitude and a complex knowledge of ancient magical theory and philosophy. With their propensity to mix knowledge from different sources, it is not unheard of for madoshi to wield innovative techniques derived from the orthodox arts of geomancy, onmyojutsu, and more. More skilled madoshi may even create unique personal techniques.

The Lonely Path

The life of a far eastern mage is not an easy one. There are those who depend on the greed of wealthy patrons for a living, while others find themselves swept up in the treacherous world of politics. Yet for all the drudgery and intrigue that orthodox mages like the geomancers and onmyoji of Doma and Hingashi must endure, nothing compares to the danger of the less traveled path walked by the much reviled madoshi.

Not only are such wayward mages known as rebels to magical orthodoxy, they are also often enemies to one another. With each desiring to become ever stronger, many wander across the land and challenge others in the name of growing their own power. Should two powerful madoshi meet, a duel that will shake heaven and earth is nearly assured.

Yet it is not only other mages that madoshi seek to battle. Some are known for their use of powerful magical weapons and devices known as madogu. Often crafted to enhance the physical prowess of their wielders, it is not unheard of for a madogu-wielding madoshi to be equally gifted in martial arts. Such warrior-mages are the bane of wandering martialists, who are often too proud to turn down a challenge when they should rightly flee for their lives.

Despite the dangers that madoshi pose to order, they are not all necessarily evil. While stories of evil sorcerers abound, there are also many madoshi that serve a more benevolent role as traveling healers and defenders of justice. Perhaps their poor reputation is in part due to the latter, as corrupt officials are known to spread stories of evil mages in an effort to turn the people against these would-be heroes.

If the way of power is paved with such dangers, then why do some still choose to walk its lonely path? For some, it is out of necessity to fulfill a goal. For others, it is because they simply can. If the beginning of the journey presented itself to you, would you follow it?

Below are described some tools and techniques wielded by Far Eastern madoshi.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

Hijutsu Zosho – Literally “collected books of secret arts”, these tomes are jealously sought after and guarded by madoshi. While many tomes are compilations of techniques from orthodox far eastern magic disciplines, the most valuable manuals contain the secret techniques of legendary madoshi. The rare madoshi who does accept disciples will often record their techniques in secret manuals that are magically locked so only those with the proper aptitude may read them.

Senkai Hoju – Functioning similarly to soul crystals, these rare and precious stones are believed to have fallen from the land of the divine and are prized by madoshi as such. Containing the sum of each owner’s life and techniques in a compact form, many stones are lost to time when lone madoshi disappear from history, while others are passed down from master to successor. Without one of these stones, a less experienced madoshi may find it difficult to attune to the elements of nature or communicate with the kami.

Madogu – A broad classification of magical objects that are created and used by madoshi, the best recognized madogu are martial weapons imbued with magic that may be activated using the wielder’s internal energy. Defensive and supporting devices also exist, however these are less famous owing to the fearsome reputation of certain madogu weapons. Many powerful madogu may be found in ancient tombs and burial grounds guarded by high-level magical seals.

MIGHT MAKES MAGIC:

With the sheer variety of spells and techniques that various madoshi have collected and created, it is impossible to catalogue all of these at this time. However, a brief selection is provided for insight into some techniques one might encounter from a madoshi.

Latent River – A fundamental technique mastered by every madoshi is the control of their internal energy. Agitating its flow like that of a rushing river allows the madoshi to increase the speed and potency of their spellcasting at greater cost to their internal energy reserves.

Gogyo Sokoku – The madoshi applies the opposing natures of elements against each other, striking their foe with the appropriate elemental magic to greater effect.

Gogyo Sosei – The madoshi applies the generative natures of elements towards each other, using the appropriate elemental magic to heal and strengthen themselves or their allies.

Genjutsu: Meido – Entrapping an enemy’s mind within an imaginary purgatory, the madoshi condemns the enemy to a torturous mental journey that depletes their resolve to fight.

False Nirvana – The madoshi enters a state of heightened universal awareness, curing them of enfeeblements imposed by enemies.

Sansui Fuin – Drawing upon the energy of mountains and waters, the madoshi activates an arcane geometry that erects a field around themselves and their allies, protecting against enemy attacks while increasing the benefits of healing magics.

Gishiki: Eikon f*ckkatsu – The madoshi gathers life energy from the battlefield to perform an ancient magic, restoring the vitality of their allies and reviving the fallen.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

HINGAN ONMYOJUTSU

A brief concept for Hingan onmyojutsu that I’ve come up with. Some notes taken from FFXIV canon, others taken from real life traditions such as onmyodo, Shinto, and Daoism.

Onmyojutsu emerged in the land of Hingashi in ancient times. Birthed from a marriage of Doman philosophies and Hingan religion, the systems of onmyojutsu evolved over time into a form unique to its Hingan homeland. At its core, onmyojutsu believes in the concept of “onmyo” which refers to “on” shadow and “yo” light. All things in nature are aligned in some way to these two forces, and the movement or balance between the two is the foundation of onmyo magic. As diviners, onmyoji also observe the stars, the land, and the passage of time in order to predict good and bad fortunes.

Much like western thaumaturgy, onmyojutsu manipulates two polarities in the form of elemental magic. Light is represented by raging fire, an active and volatile force. Shadow is represented by ice, which is water in its most passive or static form. The shifting of energy itself between extremes is embodied by lightning, a pure energy that leaps from heaven to earth. By manipulating these elements, an onmyoji may wield potent destructive power.

Further empowering the onmyoji is the art of “shikigami” conjuration, a form of summoning in which spirits called “kami” are bound to objects or creatures to give them form as servant familiars.

Below are described some common tools and techniques of Hingan onmyojutsu.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

Ofuda-sho – True onmyoji are master calligraphers, conveying their intent through the use of black and crimson inks. Words of power bonded to paper talismans called “ofuda” convey the incantations and arcane geometries that are needed to call forth the power of the elements and exert their will upon a target. In the past, these slips of paper were affixed to the targets of spells, however the innovation of the ofuda-sho has allowed onmyoji to compile their talismans into books for faster and more efficient spellcasting.

Shikigami – A spirit bound by the onmyoji in physical form, the most basic shape of a shikigami is often a paper manikin. However, more complex interactions with the physical world require more complex forms. To that end, onmyoji are known to craft golem-like bodies from wood and clay for their summoned creations. Other methods and materials exist, such as the possession of living bodies or the creation of precious amulets that house these spirits and may give them form upon command.

Armillary Sphere – A sphere designed to model the heavens, this device floats before the user by means of a small wind crystal. Onmyoji may use it to verify the positions of celestial bodies as well as mark the passage of time. Observations from the sphere inform the predictions of their divination rituals.

MASTERS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW:

Onmyo Balance – The onmyoji focuses their mind and spirit towards light or shadow.

Divine Warmth: Destructive magic calls upon the light of the heavens, bringing forth great power at greater cost to the onmyoji’s spirit.

Mortal Chill: Destructive magic calls upon the shadows of the mortal realm, soothing the onmyoji’s spirit in exchange for reduced destructiveness.

Duality – Bringing light and shadow into perfect alignment, the onmyoji momentarily harmonizes with the rhythm of the universe to smite their enemies with greater power.

Summoned Spirit – The onmyoji calls forth the power of a summoned kami, granting it form as shikigami.

Spirit of Heavenly Fire: A kami aligned with fire appears, smiting its master’s enemies.

Spirit of Abyssal Ice: A kami aligned with ice appears, bringing quiescence to enemies.

Spirit of Lightning: A kami aligned with lightning appears, disrupting the spiritual energy of enemies.

Ama-no-Iwato – The onmyoji shrouds the mind of the enemy in darkness, crippling their strength.

Ryusei – A comet signals imbalance between “on” and “yo,” portending great disaster. The onmyoji activates a warding defense against their enemies.

Jumon – The onmyoji activates a curse from their arsenal of spells, tormenting the enemy with persistent pain.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

DOMAN GEOMANCY

A brief concept for Doman geomancy that I’ve come up with. Some notes taken from FFXIV canon, others taken from real life practices such as fengshui.

Doman geomancy emphasizes the pursuit of harmony and does so through communion with the world’s currents of air, earth, and water. While the presence of air and water currents may seem obvious to many, the so-called currents of earth are naturally occurring lines of energy that run within the land itself. These underground currents are more commonly known as “ryumyaku”, which translates in the Eorzean tongue as “Dragon Veins” or as better understood by some, ley lines. By observing the world around them, a well-trained geomancer can identify the flow of these different elements and tap into their power for their own arcane purposes.

Below are described some common tools and techniques of Doman geomancy.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:

Hakke Mirror – A magical focus tracing its origins from the Doman art of geomantic divination. Surrounding the central mirror, a polished octagonal metal plate is engraved with eight “trigrams,” each aligned to one edge of the plate and representing a cardinal or ordinal direction. The mirror itself represents protection against negative energy, which in geomantic magic is exemplified by the art’s affinity for barriers. Many ancient hakke diagrams also show a symbol of light and darkness called “inyo” or “onmyo,” which has led some scholars to suggest an ancient Doman ancestry for the Hingan art of onmyojutsu.

Ekikyo – A classical text studied by countless scholars and far eastern mages, this essential tome canonized at some point after the founding of Doma contains the 64 hexagrams of Doman divination, their meanings and interpretation, and philosophical commentaries on the spiritual and moral significance of the text. While any master geomancer has memorized this book, the majority continue to carry it for ease of reference and to reflect upon its contents.

Handbell – Evolved from the ancient Doman technique of casting bronze bells called hensho, the geomancer’s handbell is an essential tool for the activation of certain magics. After attuning with currents of air, earth, and water, a geomancer channels these energies using their own ki or aetherial flow as the path that delivers them to their ultimate destination. The tone of the geomancer’s handbell then resonates with the elements, expressing the caster’s will and activating the desired magic. In some cases, bells are directly attached to the geomancer’s Hakke Mirror for convenience. Some highly skilled geomancers are known to wield multiple bells to produce different tones, which when combined may produce extraordinary results.

ART OF THE ELEMENTS:

Elemental Attunement – The geomancer draws upon an element, altering healing magics with its characteristics.

Heavenly Air: Healing magic stirs the internal ki of the target, granting the power of regeneration.

Guardian Earth: Healing magic draws the strength of earth into the target, granting the protection of barriers.

Flowing Water: Healing magic channels the movement of water, granting increased evasiveness.

Shifting Balance – Excessive use of destructive magic alters the balance of power. As the balance tilts towards one element, destructive effectiveness is reduced and the burden upon the geomancer grows. Only by returning to balance with the aid of the other elements can power be restored.

Veins of Power – Drawing upon the energy of the earth itself, the geomancer increases the strength of their barrier magics.

Perfect Harmony – The geomancer brings all elements into harmony, momentarily granting them the capability to cast magic with rapid ease.

Divine Command – A trigram on the Hakke Mirror glows with the will of the kami, granting the geomancer a sign of power that may aid themselves or an ally.

Greater Rite of Heaven – A second trigram on the Hakke Mirror glows with the will of the kami, granting the geomancer a greater sign that may aid themselves or an ally when activated simultaneously with another trigram.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

LORDS OF RYAKGYR: The Northern Dragons

In the ancient past, it was not uncommon for tribes of the Xaela to rebel against the Khagan if they felt the leader’s rule was weak or ineffectual. During one particularly long period ruled by a Khagan with isolationist views, several of the eastern tribes grew restless in their desire for territory.

The coastlands of the Bay of Yanxia had grown crowded with tribes eager for the bounty of the sea, leading to growing conflict between neighbors. The discontent of the eastern tribes peaked when the Khagan refused their petition for a campaign to claim new lands. Declaring themselves independent of the Khagan’s rule, nine tribes pledged their allegiance instead to the strongest leader of the east, the warrior-Khan known as Dorgon.

Before the Khagan could summon the other tribes of the Steppe to oppose them, Dorgon gathered the nine tribes and declared to them that their future lay in the northeast. The nine tribes set forth and followed the Bay of Yanxia’s coastline, passing through the eastern edge of the Arras and into the northern wilderness of Ryakgyr.

The chill of Ryakgyr’s northern forests drove the tribes further south, to the warmer coastal region where the Bay of Yanxia met the Ruby Tide. There, Dorgon declared the establishment of a new Xaela khaganate. Ambitiously taking the ancient Yanxian word for gold as its name, the state became known as Jin.

The Five Banners of Jin:

Under Dorgon’s leadership, the Jin Xaela conquered the many smaller tribes that roamed Ryakgyr, as well as Hyuran communities of Khun hunter-gatherers. A pragmatic leader, Dorgon cared little about one’s race so long as they could be useful to the greater whole and would accept non-Xaela who submitted to his rule, a policy that invited people of other races to join him at Ryakgyr. As the numbers of the Jin grew from this, Dorgon reorganized the Xaela and Hyur under a new system of military and social units identified as banners. Heavily influenced by Yanxian culture after generations of trade between his tribe and their merchants, Dorgon named each of the banners for one of the Four Auspices of ancient Yanxian myth.

Thus, the banners of Qinglong, Zhuque, Baihu, and Xuanwu were created. In the later tongue of Yanxia and Hingashi, these came to be known by the modern names of Seiryu, Suzaku, Byakko, and Genbu. Dorgon’s personal standard was the banner of the all-powerful Yellow Dragon, known in ancient Yanxian as Huanglong, or in modern Hingan as Koryu.

The tribes of the five banners were given territories according to the cardinal directions associated with their respective auspices. This also determined their regional responsibilities for the defense of the khaganate and strongly influenced the industries which they would specialize in. At the center of the peninsula, Dorgon raised the banner of the Yellow Dragon in the settlement of Alcuka, which would later grow to become a sprawling capital city.

Growing a Nation:

Despite his reputation as a fearsome warrior, Dorgon was also known for his wisdom and breadth of knowledge. Under his guidance, the tribes of Ryakgyr shed the nomadic ways of their ancestors and adopted farming techniques from Yanxian manuals he had collected in the past. With some effort, these techniques were adapted for the colder northern climate and its less fertile soil. While their first attempts at farming in the north developed, the tribes continued to supplement their diets by hunting and fishing, a practice that helped to maintain their skills with bows and spears.

After several years, the farming efforts of the Jin Xaela proved to be worthwhile, as they began to harvest enough food for not only themselves and their warhorses, but also excess to store for leaner times. Mining in the northern hills of the peninsula provided plentiful iron and stone for smithing and construction, while the discovery of gold and silver provided the khaganate with a valuable source of wealth.

As the Jin continued to grow in number and power, it became common for weaker tribes of the Xaela coastlands to submit themselves in an effort to ensure their survival. For this reason, the Jin were often derided by the people of the Steppe as a nation made up of weaklings. Yet under the leadership of Dorgon and his descendants, the Jin were anything but weak.

A Nation of Soldiers:

Much like Xaela of the Steppe, the children of the Jin learned to hunt and fight from an early age. The difference lay in that while the Steppe passed these skills down from generation to generation within tribes, the Jin instituted a system of standardized military training across the entire state, with additional specialized training for individuals selected by an examination. This statewide training system ensured a more equal distribution of skills and knowledge across Jin society, reducing the risk of weaknesses caused by substandard instruction. Jin troops primarily used swords, spears, and bows in the earlier part of the nation’s history.

In later years, the advent of firearms in Hingashi and their spread to Ryakgyr by shipwrecked pirates would lead to a revolution in military technology, as their design and function were studied by Jin weaponsmiths and recreated in mass production. The formula for black powder was also used in the creation of other more devastating weapons such as cannon and bombs. A similar transfer of technology occurred in Yanxia, although adoption of such weaponry was limited due to more widespread use of magic.

With the Jin comprised of many tribes with varying aptitudes for magic, the proliferation of black powder weapons provided them with a means to make up for that variance with a non-magical method of ranged destruction.

An Unbroken Line:

Over the centuries, the succession of Jin leadership would remain exclusively with Dorgon’s bloodline. While nominally, the khaganate elected its rulers through a council of the highest ranking bannermen, in reality the council would typically ratify the successor nominated by the previous ruler. On some occasions, the children of the previous ruler would attempt to influence the council to vote in their favor instead, leading to cliques and alliances which threatened to tear the nation apart.

After one particularly contentious succession crisis, the successor who emerged victorious abolished this system and declared that successors would thenceforth be determined by a secret edict to be read only upon the ruler’s death or abdication. This encouraged the ruler’s children to prove their worthiness to rule instead of dividing the nation with intrigues and petty conflicts.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

BEYOND THE LIGHT OF AZIM: The Xaela Diaspora of Ilsabard and Northern Othard

For lore on Northern Othard’s geography, check my previous post!

In centuries past, the ambitions of powerful Khagans led the Xaela beyond the plentiful grasslands of the Azim Steppe. United by promises of treasure and other spoils, generations of Xaela gathered during the warmer summers and trekked west across the tundra of the Dalvalan Grath, crossing the narrow channel at its western edge to reach the island stronghold then known as Tomorbaatar. There, armed with the shipbuilding skills of the eastern coastal tribes, the first Xaela navies were built.

Braving the stormy waves of the Knowing Sea, these raiders crossed the waters to reach the shores of northern Ilsabard. A shadow of terror fell upon the north as the Xaela, hardened by centuries of tribal warfare, slaughtered their way across the northern nations with savage abandon. After seizing the riches of the north as their own, the Xaela sailed back to Tomorbaatar and divided the spoils amongst themselves before returning across the tundra to their grassy homeland to weather the chill of winter.

Toward the end of each winter, the Xaela celebrated the coming of the lunar new year with the Tsaagan Sar, culminating in the annual Naadam to decide the new Khagan for that year. Not all Khagans sought to plunder the lands of the west, however, and in some years the tribes pressed south towards the fertile soil of Yanxia. Such southern expeditions never bore fruit, with the Xaela invariably forced back to the Steppe each time.

Settlers of Northern Ilsabard:

Over the centuries, the Xaela invasions of Ilsabard continued intermittently, on some occasions leaving behind groups that established their own small settlements. Some were annihilated by the natives of Ilsabard as retribution for the atrocities committed by raiders, while others thrived and developed a unique mixture of Xaela and Ilsabardian customs. These Xaela settlements were rarely loyal to the Khagan of the Steppe or their ancestral tribes, instead forming new identities over time—and in some cases becoming victims of their raider cousins’ greed.

As the surviving settlements grew, the need for alliances to survive against both the natives of Ilsabard and Xaela raiders became more apparent. Many of the settlements formed treaties for mutual defense and established a network of coastal watches that could quickly spread word of an invasion force on the horizon. Others attempted to broker peace with the Ilsabardian natives in return for guarding the coast against future invasions. With time, the Xaela settlers eventually were absorbed into the nations of northern Ilsabard, becoming an essential part of the region’s martial history.

Guardians of the Western Crossing:

Many years passed and the allure of western riches gradually faded for most Xaela raiders. Opposed by their cousins who had remained in northern Ilsabard and facing increasingly strong resistance from the natives of the coast, the raiders grew weary of war. After a particularly brutal campaign tainted by the broken promises of Chaghagan Khan, who sought to keep the spoils of war for himself, the mighty stronghold of Tomorbaatar became known as the Unpromised. And with the slaying of the greedy Khan, so too ended the Xaela’s western conquests.

Many of the tribes who had joined Chaghagan Khan returned to their homeland in the Azim Steppe. Yet some remained in the frigid tundra of the Dalvalan Grath. A prophesy foretold the coming of another great leader who would one day lead them across the sea to conquer the west and establish a new homeland. Of those who remained in the Dalvalan Grath, many assembled into a new tribe named Mosonchonos and swore to guard the western crossing for the coming of their promised leader.

Led by shamans in lieu of a Khan or Khatun, the Mosonchonos occupied the western part of the Dalvalan Grath and the isle known as the Unpromised. The tribe believed that their true leader would emerge from the wilderness on the back of an enormous white wolf. This legendary wolf was only known from stories told by the first Xaela explorers of the tundra, but the Mosonchonos firmly believed in its existence and its significance in identifying their future leader. Many attempted to find the wolf, but in most cases perished or returned without success. These failures were taken as signs that they had not been deemed worthy to look upon the wolf, rather than disproving its existence.

The Gegeersen:

Other Xaela who chose to dwell in the tundra did so out of disdain for the warlike nature of their cousins in the Steppe. Choosing a life of relative peace and subsistence, these Xaela formed communities of hunters and gatherers that rejected their martial heritage, calling themselves Gegeersen, meaning enlightened. Weapons of war such as bows, spears, and axes returned to their roots as tools for hunting and survival.

In the harsh wilderness, every animal, plant, and resource was precious, and the Gegeersen believed that these aspects of the natural world were inhabited by gods or spirits. Among these gods, the most important to the Gegeersen were those that influenced their very survival. The Gegeersen, beyond the warmth of Azim’s embrace, worshipped the god of fire above all else as the most essential part of their lives. Fire brought warmth to their huts, light in the darkest nights, cooked their meals, and much more. Without it, there was no hope of survival.

The Fishers of the Arras:

Throughout the years, some Gegeersen migrated from the tundra of the Dalvalan Grath to the cliffs of the Arras. Where the sheer cliffs and rocky shoreline gave way to beaches, the Gegeersen built fishing villages. They were not alone, however, the northern coast having been settled in centuries past by ancestors of the same Hyur who also dwelled in the northernmost parts of Koshu and Ryakgyr. Culturally distinct from the Hyur who founded the nation of Hingashi, these Hyur of northern Othard were known simply as Khun in the Xaela tongue. These Khun lived as hunters and fishers for the most part and had limited contact with other groups. Still, the Gegeersen of the Arras were able to live peacefully alongside them after careful negotiation of boundaries.

From the Khun, the Gegeersen were able to rediscover the art of boatbuilding that had been lost to their people, enabling them to venture into deeper waters off the northern coast. It was in these waters that they encountered the great beasts of the sea, known to Eorzeans as megaptera. In the language of the Khun, they were called humpe, one of many words the Gegeersen would borrow as their cultures blended through the years.

Graceful and gentle, yet enormous and powerful in their movements, the sailors wondered if these beasts might be gods of the sea. Yet they witnessed these humpe being hunted and eaten by packs of other smaller beasts. Cutting through the water were sleek black bodies with bright white bellies; these streamlined creatures would work together to drive the humpe to their deaths, after which the pack would feast.

From time to time, the hunting packs would drive the humpe into the shallows, and some of the great beasts would beach themselves on the shore in desperation. These landings were seen as gifts from the gods and provided a bounty of meat, bones, and blubber that could cure a village of starvation. For this reason, the black-white pack hunters of the sea came to be seen as agents of the gods, respected and revered for their generosity. When such gifts washed ashore, prayers of thanks were offered to the god of the sea, known as Repun-kamuy to the Khun, and the carving of a beached humpe carcass would only be done with consecrated blades. Such was the reverence that they held for that bestowed by the gods.

The Lords of Ryakgyr:

Long before descendants of the Gegeersen expanded beyond the tundra, a group of rebellious eastern Xaela tribes pledged themselves to the fearsome warrior Dorgon and refused to bow to the rightful Khagan’s authority. Abandoning the coastlands on the western edge of the Bay of Yanxia, this group traveled northeast through the Arras to the reach the land now known as Ryakgyr. Leading the tribes south to the edge of the peninsula, Dorgon declared Ryakgyr to be their new homeland.

Under Dorgon’s leadership, the Xaela of the peninsula established themselves as an agrarian society while maintaining the hunting traditions of their ancestors. Over time, southern Ryakgyr began to prosper as clusters of thriving towns and villages developed. And as they thrived, the ambitions of the Ryakgyr Xaela grew as well, with several attempts to invade northern Yanxia by sea over the years. These attempts prompted the Doman construction of naval fortresses which still overlook the Bay of Yanxia to this day.

The growing wealth and power of Ryakgyr was not lost on others, and clashes along the coast of the peninsula would lead to advances in martial technology for the Xaela. With Yanxia’s fertile lands to the southwest and Ryakgyr’s growing wealth in the north both envied by Hingan lords, pirates were sent from the island nation to raid the continental coast. In doing so, the unscrupulous Hingan lords inadvertently introduced the musket to the Xaela when their hired forces were shipwrecked against the northern coast.

The lords of Ryakgyr readily adopted the firearm and their smiths eagerly studied it to replicate its production. The mass production of these muskets would ensure that in the event of an attack, even a farmer with rudimentary training could be armed to defend the homeland. After several additional failed campaigns against Ryakgyr, the Hingan lords reluctantly abandoned their northern ambitions, fuming at their losses and humiliation.

While southern Ryakgyr grew into a prosperous land under the rule of Dorgon and his descendants, the colder northern region of the peninsula remained a sparsely inhabited wilderness that failed to achieve significance in the records of Ryakgyr’s historians. Populated mainly by weaker tribes and small communities of Khun and Gegeersen, northern Ryakgyr would remain known for little besides the deathly chill of its winters and legends of rare fauna that roam its forests.

So it was that after many millennia and centuries of war, the descendants of the Xaela spread across the north. From settlers along the coast of northern Ilsabard to the wealthy lords of Ryakgyr, there remain countless lives with tales to tell. For now, we leave you with simply this: an invitation to venture forth to distant lands and brave the north beyond the light of Azim.

ffxiv-shiji

May 3, 2022

BEYOND NHAAMA: THE FROZEN NORTH

Too cold and inhospitable to draw the attention of most, the northern lands of Othard are a largely forgotten and timeless place. Sparsely inhabited, primarily by relatives of the Xaela, these lands are the domain of rugged hunters and gatherers who subsist on what little nature has to offer.

Let us embark on a journey of the mind through this frigid realm.

Map Source: TheWorstAvatarEver; reddit

The journey begins at the northern edge of Doman claims. Here, we are greeted by the sparkling blue vastness of the Bay of Yanxia, so great an expanse that to many, it is a sea in and of itself. Along the southern shores of these cold yet bountiful waters lie the coastal fishing villages of northern Doma and naval fortresses constructed by Yanxian warlords in the ancient past. The largest of these fortresses guards a bustling port that serves trade between northern Yanxia and the Hingan isle of Koshu.

As we trace a path northward along the bay’s coastline, we come to its western shores, home to the Xaela tribes of the Jhungid, Kharlu, Haragin, and Mankhad. Each year, an annual battle between the Jhungid and Kharlu tribes dyes these shores red with blood and the victor seizes control of a large swath of valuable coastland. While these two great tribes spend much of the year preparing for battle by conquering smaller tribes, their Haragin and Mankhad cousins are known for finer skills. Passed down through generations are the shipbuilding and navigation skills of the Haragin, whose ancestors once sailed across the eastern ocean. As for the Mankhad, their exceptional skill with pipes and poisoned blow-darts has long protected them from larger tribes and other threats. Sharing the southern edge of the western coastline and guarding against the territorial ambitions of the Xaela tribes are Doma’s northernmost frontier outposts, whose defenders have long ensured the bay’s southern shores remain under Doman control.

Meanwhile, along the bay’s eastern edge lies the Ryakgyr Peninsula, a frigid stretch of land that is often so cold that even drifting ice floes may reach its northern shores intact. Here, small clans of hunters roam the wilderness in pursuit of prey that will provide them with food, furs, and fuel. The strongest clans have long established themselves on the southern tip of the peninsula, where the cooler waters of the Bay of Yanxia meet the warm currents of the Ruby Tide. In summer, the monsoon rains bring warmth and wetness to the edge of Ryakgyr, while in winter the climate remains cold and dry. At the coldest time of year, temperatures in the peninsula’s south hover just barely above freezing, and in the north the chill is so deep that to go out unprepared is to invite death.

The chill of the frozen north is not unique to Ryakgyr, and as we venture west we reach the sheer and frosted coastal cliffs of the Arras. Here, the temperatures are so cold in winter that even the northern sea called the Blindfrost freezes over. This seasonal freezing deters trade, and attempts to construct a major port along the Arras have been met only with frustration. Throughout the year, the northern sea and its shores are hammered by violent gales while drifting ice chokes the waters. Still, nature provides for those who persist. Should one seek to eke out a living here, they will discover the life-giving bounty of the gentle giants of the sea—megaptera.

Imagine the great primal Bismarck, but smaller and with a shade of skin like that of the inky ocean depths. Yet despite its smaller size, a megaptera’s monstrous mass still dwarfs even the largest gyuki. A single specimen provides meat and blubber for an entire village, perhaps more, yet the catch is not without its perils. Drifting ice floes and the sheer power of these beasts have been the end of many fishing boats. One cannot make the catch alone; it requires the efforts of many. Here, the villages have invented a technique in which several boats encircle a beast and drive it into the shallows, where large nets are wielded by another waiting group. Caught in the nets, it struggles, exhausting its energy and becoming an easier kill for the harpoon-wielding villagers. The slain beast is then quickly brought ashore, where every part of the creature is taken and used to ensure the survival of the villagers. Here in the north, nothing is wasted. Indeed, if anything remains in excess, it is traded across the Bay of Yanxia to the Domans in the south.

Tracing our path along the rugged northern coast, we eventually come to the eastern foot of the Tail Mountains. From their lower reaches, one can look south and see the northern edge of the Azim Steppe’s sweeping grassland, while to the north, the powerful waves of the Blindfrost crash against the rocky shore. Capped by snow and the glacial remains of the Age of Endless Frost, the Tail Mountains are also the source of numerous streams that gather in the grasslands of the Steppe and flow into Yanxia as the mighty current of the One River that has enriched the central plains for thousands of years.

As we thread our way through the mountains, we cross into the tundra of the Dalvalan Grath. A land of blinding white known to most as a frozen wasteland, few dare to brave its wilderness. Yet in the past, a tribe of Auri hunters left the bountiful plains of the Azim Steppe to dwell in this unforgiving place, and even now their descendants continue to survive here. Birds, deer, and small animals survive off the bushes and shrubs that emerge from the blanket of snow that covers the land, while larger predators like tigers, wolves, and bears ensure they never grow too plentiful.

The Auri hunters who live here avoid direct confrontation with other predators for the most part, devoting their efforts to trapping small prey and gathering edible vegetation instead. Those who do pursue larger prey are considered foolhardy, yet respected if successful, as their more substantial kills provide larger bones and precious furs that can be used to make tools, weapons, and clothing. It remains unclear why the ancestors of these Au Ra chose such a cold and lonely place to make their home, and even more mysterious is why their descendants still choose to remain.

At the western edge of the Dalvalan Grath, a channel of water separates the Othardian mainland from the island known as the Unpromised. Once the site of the mighty conqueror Chaghagan Khan’s naval stronghold, this isle has been the staging point for Xaela invasions into northern Ilsabard in centuries past. Of these, the final conquest led by Chaghagan Khan is most notorious both for its success and its aftermath. After a savage campaign that reaped untold riches for the Xaela, the invaders returned to the island to celebrate their success and divide their spoils. Blinded by greed, Chaghagan Khan sought to withhold the promised spoils from those who had brought him victory. In the ensuing bloodbath that upended the victory celebrations, the Khan was slain, a deserved end for betraying the trust of his generals.

Since the death of Chaghagan Khan, his once mighty stronghold has been largely abandoned and fallen into disrepair. Few inhabitants remain on the island, save for some fishermen and a small trading post. Moreover, the might of Garlemald in recent times has protected northern Ilsabard from invasion, and the few attempts by the Xaela to assemble another raiding force have ended in petty disputes.

Our journey ends with a voyage south from the Unpromised to the southwestern tip of the Dalvalan Grath, where we finally look upon the Knowing Sea. A sea once known as the edge of the world to those dwelling along its shores, here the cold air of the Blindfrost collides with fierce gales from the Burn to create powerful storms that endlessly roil the sea. From the Othardian coast that encircles the eastern part of this inland sea, we can look west across the waters and imagine the rugged coast of Ilsabard. In fact, at the very northern edge of the sea, where its tempestuous waters meet the even colder northern ocean, a narrow strait marks the boundary between Othard and Ilsabard. On a rare day of clear weather, if we stand at the edge of the strait with a spyglass, we may even see another peering back from across the water.

And so our travels end. Countless miles we have traveled, from the plentiful shores of the Bay of Yanxia to the stormy tempests of the Knowing Sea. Along this journey we have seen warring tribes, fishermen, whalers, and hunters. We have visited Ryakgyr, where cool waters meet the warm currents of the Ruby Tide. We have danced along the sheer and frosty cliffs of the Arras coast and seen the glacial streams of the Tail Mountains. Clad in heavy furs, we trekked across the vast tundra of the Dalvalan Grath and crossed the western channel to see the ruins of the Unpromised.

Yet though we have seen much, questions still remain. What brought the Au Ra to the northern tundra? Was this realm once a place of plenty before the Age of Endless Frost? Where did the riches of the mighty Xaela raiders go? These and more, perhaps we will one day answer.

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Author: Chrissy Homenick

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Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.