|Common Names||Horse-haters, Tri-southies|
|Social Classes||Farmers, Herders, Potters, Merchants, Miners, Soldiers, Aristocrats|
The Dvala are a unique society known to Aloria for possessing three Groups underneath their banner. There are the urban and coastal-dwelling Raggna, who have led the society for decades, the Boss, the largely agricultural people of the plains and forests, and finally the Moren, the people of the hills and mountains who serve as miners and raw labor. Their societies, while different, all come from the same base, a collective of peoples whose land was disrupted with the arrival of the ancient Byala, causing them to go to war with these outsiders. The bad news wasn’t over for the Dvala, as with the arrival of the Regalian Empire, even more of their land was lost, and they suffered greatly when the Szabadok arrived a few decades ago. Today, as a result of this, they are hostile to outsiders and often actively deceitful towards them, seeking to test the world as it has so tested them.
The Dvala claim mythical origins, saying that they were slowly pulled from the earth by the powerful breeze that came down from the mountains and out into the wider land. The actual origins for the peoples who make up the modern Dvala are vague, but the Wirtemcaller came into contact with them sometime around 200 BC and most now take that to be their founding date. In these early years, the Dvala were broken up into tribal groups, the Morr, Nebon, Dorvo and more. Leading them all were the Zorno, who were the most powerful and the source of unification between the other tribes. But then came the ancestors of the group now known as the Byala, and several of the lesser tribes swiftly joined them. To the Dvala, the actions of these outsiders grew intolerable, especially when they lost over half of their own coalition to the Byala and their “Danu”. As a result, they waged war against the Byala for almost 100 years, with periods of truces and peace rarely breaking up the longstanding conflict. During that time, the Dvala consolidated their peoples into three tribal groups: the Raggna, the Boss, and the Moren. The Zorno joined with others to make the Raggna, and in the aftermath of what amounted to a defeat in their eyes, they bitterly turned away from their now long border with the Byala and moved in the opposite direction. They plotted out new colonies, new expansions, and further knitted together even as their three tribal markers remained. As a result, the Dvala claimed a huge region of coastal territory in the west of their region, in what is now called the Venetinez Strait. They began to conduct trade and exploratory missions out into this area, and these efforts caught the attention of the Regalian Empire.
Initially, the relationship between the two powers was good and trade flourished. However, as more and more news was brought home by Dvala traders of the Empire conquering all in the Regalian Archipelago, the people knew that they were next. Indeed, Regalian agents had just attempted to restart the long cooled conflict between Dvala and the Byala, which failed for several reasons. When the Regalian Empire came next, they came in force. The vessels of the Imperial Navy were thick in the Strait, and the coastal lands that had been the new frontier for the Dvala were invaded and conquered. The Dvala fought hard, but their largely open terrain and poor treatment of those they captured earned them no mercy from the Regalian Empire. In the end, where the Byala were conquered with words and ink, the Dvala were conquered with blades and blood. A huge area of the Dvala-owned coastline was stripped from them, as were the more southern lands, making way for Etosians to arrive and form The Hellatian States in the south and for the Leutz-Vixe to eventually form along the coastline. Forced to suffer this humiliation, the ancient city of Raguna suddenly had a “mutiny” of its merchant navy, resulting in many pirates plying the Venetinez Strait. These pirates targeted Regalian shipping and coastal settlements, and the wayward sons of the Dvala were eventually crushed when the Leutz-Vixe fully came into their own and defeated them at sea.
At home, the Dvala suddenly found even more land lost, this time to outsiders from lands far beyond Regalia’s shores. The Szabadok were brutal, and while they made inroads into Dvala land, their ultimate direction was southeast and east, leaving most Dvalan land intact. For this reason, the Culture avoided becoming entangled in the Order of the Black Dragon. Today, the Dvala are an aggressive and irritated people, having lost much to people from beyond their borders over the past few centuries. Their three tribes are united in their shared dislike of the Byala, the Szabadok and the Leutz-Vixe, and it is their aggressive style of diplomacy which has often led to minor skirmishes and border battles in The Southern Dukelands. Only time will tell if cooler heads will prevail, or if the Dvala will remain the tinder to the volatile fire that is The Southern Dukelands.
Language and Dialects
The Dvala have long spoken old and archaic dialects unlike all others seen in Aloria, though they are all mostly relatable with the Mirnoye Dialect. Today, three Groups exist under the banner name of Dvala, and each have their own minor quirks in what most suspect is a central, long lost mother tongue. For a point of reference to real world languages, the following list is provided that gives a rough understanding of the dialects.
- Raggna speak Serbian.
- Boss speak Croatian.
- Moren speak Albanian.
It should be noted that all of these languages are mutually understandable in Aloria.
Due to their dominance as long being the leaders of Dvala society, Raggna names have all but taken over as the naming style across the entire Culture. Unilaterally, female names end in “-a” and male ones can be easily converted to female ones through the use of this letter. As for surnames, the suffix “-ić” is used, but variants in the form of "-ović" and "-ević" are also sometimes present. Here are examples of possible Dvalan names:
Lifestyles and Customs
The Dvala, unlike the Byala, have not so fully integrated together so as to have a norm of family structure across their whole society. Instead, each of the three groups underneath the Dvala cultural banner have specific traditions which they maintain. The Boss are the most numerous of the Dvala, and are largely agriculturally focused. As a result, they often have large, multi-generational farms much in the mould of those in Anglia, with large families to go along with the tracts of land they farm year round. Marriages here are often arranged to help unify parcels of land together, and love matching is rare. Then there are the Moren, whose lands are rugged and based in mining. There, marriage is almost an afterthought as they are also the most pagan of all the Dvala Groups, and follow ideals one might most easily assign to the Highland Ceardians. Due to their free society and generally open lives, while mariages do occur they are merely called “bonds”, and can be broken at will by either party. For this reason, children are more often raised by village elders than their actual parents, who spend their lives focused on mining and for a bare few, herding. Finally, there are the Raggna, who are the merchants, professional soldiers and urban dwellers of the Dvala. They are the most Unionized, and often have nuclear families with two parents and two children. Unlike the Dvala, they follow a conservative strain of Unionism passed on from New Regalian preachers, and so abhor same-sex unions as unnatural and pagan in nature. They also are against them for the simple reason that the Byala approve of them, and while the old and baseless grudges between the two peoples has ended, stereotypes and general animosity produce modern tensions.
In general, the Dvala can be considered patriarchal, but there are twists to this which make it harder to pin down as absolute. For one thing, the Moren are very egalitarian, and while the Raggna are often patriarchal, outstanding female merchants and female leaders over their history has made it so that there is more of a level of respect between the genders. Men are generally expected to uphold certain ideas of masculinity and male-focused work while females are expected to do the same. If either party fails to do this, the other is capable of stepping in to provide both, or perhaps even fully switching roles, though this is generally seen as a bit distasteful if viewed as unnecessary.
Due to the diverse nature of the Groups underneath the Dvala banner, their holidays are similarly spread apart and varied based on religious or cultural precepts. The Raggna often celebrate Heron Days and other Unionist celebrations, while the Moren and Boss are far less tied to that faith and have their own holidays which tend to cross over with those of Unionists. Both celebrate versions of festivals celebrating the coming of spring, as well as festivals dedicated to the harvest (though in the case of the Moren, this is dedicated to the “times of light” that come before winter). The one holiday knitting all of the groups together is the celebration of the Battle at Zorzamuza Pass, called “Zorz Day" in their various tongues. It was at the pass, over 200 years ago, that a great Byalan invading army was supposedly obliterated by a smaller Dvalan ambush. The action supposedly helped to spark the peace-talks that finally ended their century-long conflict, though most outsiders and even most Byala (who do acknowledge the general details of the battle) consider it to be a mythologized event. It is celebrated on June 17th, to great feasting and celebrations, and often sees veterans and active soldiers lauded by those in their community.
The Dvala are most easily understood as the divide between the Moren, worshipers of Old Faiths and paganism, and the Raggna, worshipers of Unionism. Between them sit the Boss, who generally loosely follow beliefs of both in a weird, blended fashion that is satisfactory to no devoted Unionist. How this situation arose is quite telling for the internal politics of the Dvala. In the aftermath of their conquest by the Regalian Empire, the Raggna accepted New Regalian-style preachers into their lands, but the Moren did not. They claimed that the failure of the Raggna to defend everyone should not be reason enough to leave the old deities, and further stated that it was actually the weakness of the Raggna, already being influenced by Unionism spread to them via trade, which had lost them the war. The Boss didn’t take a side, and their leaders, while converting to Unionism loosely, never pushed for Unionism to spread through their lands. As a result, the Dvala are religiously divided, which has not helped relations between the Groups since the Regalian Empire took over the region.
Literature and Folklore
The Dvala have penned a great deal of their literature on the conflict they had with the Byala, who inversely rarely discuss the war at all in their own writing. The Dvala have deeply mythologized the events found it in, to the point of perhaps warping the truth. Nonetheless, they are powerful tales related to a powerful people who have been militaristic for years. Most significant among their writings are the epic poems, existing in three loose collections: “Tales of the Frontier Guards,” “Tales of Time,” and “Tales since Conquest.” The Tales of the Frontier Guards mostly deal with romantic-influenced warriors alone watching the border between Dvalan and Byala land. Sometimes there are raids by the Byala and the hero triumphs, sometimes a matter within his small border town forces him to go on a quest, and other times he is joined by other warriors who all lament about what has been lost to the outsiders. The Tales of Time are best described as general folklore, and are a rough collection with no true linearity or common theming. In them there are gods interfering with the lives of men, origin stories for some creatures or geographical formations, and also some mythology thrown into the early conflicts between the Byala and the Dvala. Finally, the Tales since Conquest are modern works, often streamlined versions of the other two sets of tales, or religious works discussing the role of the Spirit in the past of Dvalan society.
The Dvalans are best described as temperamental and picky by outsiders, or outright crazy by others. But to some extent, that is to be expected. The Dvala went from ruling over a vast swath of territory in the years before and after the Cataclysm, to lacking even half of what they once had. As a result, they view the world as harsh and unfair, and have developed ways to “trick” the outside world. They seek to cause uncertainty when they speak to outsiders, sometimes purposefully giving them wrong information both to test and confuse them. Additionally, they are obsessed with justice, the just rule of law, and the upholding of that law. Maintaining a status quo is extremely important for them as a people, given that they have slid so far from their own former status in Aloria. Upholding the letter of said law is also important, and the Raggna in particular are well known for being sticklers of protocol, rules, and methods of speech while the Moren are the most loose in this regard, at least within their homeland. Then there is the Dvala’s hatred for horses. It is considered well justified by their society, having to deal with first the horsemen of the ancient Byala before that group’s ancestors became sedentary, and then the horsemen of the Szabadok in the recent decades. As a result, donkeys, oxen and other such beasts of burden are far more populous and used, in addition to the idea of manpower over the use of horses, which has greatly set them apart from wider Aloria.
The Dvala have a wide array of folklore attached to their Culture, coming from each of the groups and commonly acknowledged by all three Groups. Most commonly believed in is the Angu-Makth, a strange grey goat said to appear in one’s dreams. When it appears, it means that the creature is feeding on the victim’s dreams, and so must be warded off by the individual suffering from the creature’s presence. Another creature of their folklore is the shtriga, a monster capable of sucking the blood of another as they sleep who often targets children before vanishing into the night in the shape of an abnormally large moth. The last creature is essentially the demonization of Vampire Broods, which are called Dhampires in Dvalan lands. They are considered sorcerers and sorceresses automatically due to the unholy nature of their birth, and are said to be tools of their Vampire parent to help them acquire more blood slaves. Finally, there is a local belief and custom which sets them apart from most areas of Aloria: their swearing based on the elements. A fairly ancient part of their society and one which has survived, even among Unionist converts, they are known as Besas in their Culture. Essentially binding promises, one makes their Besa based on a number of factors. The objects they swear on are the sun, the moon, the earth, the water, the sky, the wind, the stone, the field, the forest, and, for some reason, the snake. Breaking one of these Besas is seen as disastrous, as it evokes the primal elements of the world to do harm to the one who has broken the Besa, and in the case of the snake, invites treachery, treason and death into one’s life immediately.
The Dvala have a diverse array of artwork produced in their lands due to their diverse society. In general, it can be said that no painting such as on a canvas or even stone exists within their society, instead with a focus on frescoes being the method of 2-D artistic display. These frescoes are exclusive to churches in the region though, and rarely exist outside of them. Then, there are the statues and rock carvings found within their society. Generally viewed as crude by outsiders, they still present lavish design details in the form of various repeated patterns on the clothing or hems of clothing worn by figures and also features the appearance of an interlacing pattern unique to the region. This pattern is known as Dvalan interlacing, and it also appears in their architecture. The Dvala are also well known for their black colored pottery, which makes use of unique processes they have mastered over the centuries. As a result, peoples like the Vladno seek their wares with great interest, and it has become one of the few areas of external interest in their region.
The music sung by the Dvala is diverse, and each Group generally has their own speciality. Among the Boss, there is a more rugged, heroic taken with an increase in men in choirs or chants, women often being few in number, existing as interludes in the overall song. These songs are often lyricized versions of the various Tales of the Frontier Guards which exist in the region’s literature. A similar template exists among the Moren, who themselves mainly focus on the Tales of Time. Only in the southwest and with the Raggna is there deep complexity. Influences by outsiders and the presence of Unionism, the songs here are often liturgical and praise the Spirit, with a particular set of regional songs known as the “Emperor Cycle”, which are a series of songs dedicated to each individual Emperor, from the first Ivrae Theomar I to the current leader Alexander I. Additionally, choral groups are mixed and varied based on need or location. Within all of this music exists a variety of unique local instruments, from the one-stringed Laguta often used to accompany epic works to the Zumarë, a unique kind of wind instrument that is used alone without any voiced accompaniment. This last instrument is used exclusively by the Boss, who use it to create haunting, melancholic tunes often classified as lamentations and considered an expression of how much the Dvala have lost.
Dvala Culture has a diverse array of fashions. Men often wear an ensemble of a simply spun shirt and pants with a xhamadan, a sort of long-sleeves vest over top. On their heads, they wear a Plis, a soft woolen rounded cape. Women often wear a unique sleeveless jacket, overtop of a white shirt and a brightly colored dress down to the ankles, with their own headgear being an array of cloth head coverings, aimed at keeping their hair pushed back out of their faces. Diversifications across their society in terms of colors and imagery in clothing stitching is highly local, and so there is immense further diversification in and amongst the many rural villages within Dvala territory. As for footwear, their society is known for the odd feature of possessing the same footwear, a leather wrapping around the foot similar to moccasins. This footwear does vary slightly in its structure which indicates which Group it came from. Those made among the Raggna have pointed tips, those from among the Boss have flat ends, while those from among the Moren generally go higher up the leg and are far thicker than those of the other Groups due to the higher altitudes the Moren must deal with. Additionally, the Raggna frequently wear clothing or fashion from outsiders, and the Raggna are largely the source from which the other two groups get their wool, as even if portions of the Boss do make it, it is refined in and around the grand city of Raguna.
Dvalan architecture is largely viewed as lackluster, as the majority of its structures possessing heavy influences from the Dressolini and Etosians who have entered the region within the last hundred years. However, notable as unique to the Dvala are their styles of Unionist churches. Similar to New Regalians, these churches aim for the sky but in such a way as to sacrifice expanse, to instead favor a sheer upward approach, somewhat similar to a fortification. There is often a large central circular core to the building with a shallow top on the dome. Around it is usually another, short but larger circular part of the structure, or a square area, which makes it so that the core of the building is much like a tower extending upward above a base. These structures also tend to have tall, narrow windows like archer’s slits, and generally lack metallic ornamentation, as the Dvala associate Gold and Silver with the Byala and nia respectively. Instead, there are extensive stone carvings and fresco paintings within these buildings. These carvings are often simple, save for entrance to the church known as a porch. Around this door both inside and out is extensive use of Dvalan interlacing, which is used a decorative symbol of the union knitted by Unionism between all Ailor Cultures, but also the unity between all Dvalan Groups. The only city of real architectural note is Raguna, the Dvalan cultural center located on the Venetinez Strait, which has a unique look other Dvalan cities have copied. It represents the last major example of golden age Dvalan architecture, which involved the import of foreign materials and stones to this trading center. Great orange-red tiled roofs rest atop large, stone-based houses and stonework streets, all behind a great set of walls which work to keep the city safe. Additionally, the city’s harbor is notable (or rather, was notable) for the vast amount of activity in and out of it in past centuries.
Dvalan cuisine is delightfully diverse and varied, much in the way that Byala is, due to the different environment and resources that the Dvala have at their fingertips. Their opening-day meals are often grain-focused with breads and oatmeals served alongside dairy products like yogurt. Lunch and dinner often feature heavier foods, but start off with the custom of Meze, collectively an assortment of different, raw-food based appetizers. From there, soups, meats, and more are served and washed down with local alcohol. Each area of Dvala territory has their own foods so to catalogue all of them is almost an impossible task. However, one of the most notable foods from the region is Gulaš, a soup of meat, vegetables, spices and sometimes noodles. It is often served in large pots, requiring people to draw closer to ladle out their servings. Additionally, there is the exotic Tačkice, a dessert which makes use of frying bits of dough or batter and further seasoning from there to produce special treats, common treats, or more savory offerings.
The Dvala are best represented by the tricolored red, blue, and white flag most commonly employed to represent them. Red is thought to represent the Boss, white the Moren, and blue for the Raggna. This normally exists in a plain, striped arrangement, or as the colorations in an elaborate heraldry symbol that makes use of a white predatory bird with a crown underneath a six-pointed star. The Dvala are also seen to be represented by their hatred of horses, and also by the prominent city of Raguna.
- Raguna’s capture by the Imperial Navy was somewhat humiliating for the Raggna. Seeking to belittle these outsiders, they attempted to force a ceremonial duel on the Regalian generals. The Regalian response was to engage in the dual, but while this went on, the Imperial Navy sailed into a relatively empty harbor, as much of the city’s population had left to jeer and cheer the contest on.
- Most suspect that the real reason the various client groups under the Dvala confederacy defected was because the ruling caste, which now forms part of the Raggna, were tyrannical and cruel. The Dvala decry this as Byalan slander.