|Common Nicknames||Drake-kin, Horned Slavers, Desert Draklings|
|Naming Customs||Malian names found on earth |
|Distinctions||Half-Draconian descendants of the Black Desert Dragons|
|Height||6’0 - 6’8|
|Eye Colors||Amber/Orange reminiscent of fire|
|Hair Colors||Jet black, snow white or a combination of these|
In the far-off distant sands of Farah’deen stand the towering pearl cities of the Songaskian Masaya, home to the heirs of the Elders and the Great Old Ones. The Songaskian Empire spans the massive continent of Farah'deen and stands as one of the foremost threats to Regalian supremacy, equaled only by the Kathar Dread Empire. While commonly covered in Desert, the total landmass owned by the Songaskians is twice the size of the Regalian Empire, and it is commonly said to have the most well-equipped and trained professional army in the world. The Songaskians, being relative newcomers to the world, have rapidly mobilized onto the global stage, and played pivotal roles in all the recent events. Some of the last remaining remnants of the Dragons, the Songaskians have proclaimed themselves the inheritors to the guardianship of the world, a title once held only by the majestic winged creatures that roamed the skies and lorded over the mortal Races. Poised to strike from the great cities built by their Sariyd forerunners, the Songaskians spread their proverbial wings across the oceans, gathering resources and manpower to achieve their own goals of a great utopia of biodiversity and life, which they of course are the leaders of through benevolence. Others yet continue to follow in the footsteps of their draconian ancestors, living lives of study, self-exploration, and development to become the worthy descendants the Dragons wished them to be.
- 1 Physical & Mental Characteristics
- 2 History
- 3 Culture
- 4 Trivia
Physical & Mental Characteristics
Songaskians appear, in every respect, almost exactly like Ailor. Their proportions are the same, and they have no particularly stand-out traits about their appearance like Altalar ears, or purple Sihndar skin, or fur-like Varran. Songaskians would be impossible to tell apart from dark-skinned Ailor, if not for the color of their hair and their eyes. All Songaskians have a very dark skin tone, however, they uniformly only have one eye color: amber-like orange, with a slight brightness to it that makes their eyes look very piercing. Additionally, while many Songaskians have black hair, many also have snow-white hair, and some even have differing patterns or patches of white hair in black hair that can even become as varied as having a striped pattern, or only white head-hair and a black beard. Songaskians are generally described as good looking, and physically fit. While it is possible for Songaskians to become overweight, they seem generally more capable than Ailor at keeping their build in check, and their facial configuration tends to favor homogenized features over variety. They are usually a few inches taller than Ailor on average, and also have somewhat less gender dimorphism than Ailor, with men both being capable of the opposite ends of masculine and androgynous scales, while women also have that free capacity. Songaskians have a wide variety of hair types, ranging from frizzy and curly to straight and wavy. Their hair can also be matted or braided to form long rope-like strands, giving rise to a cultural hairstyle called dreads.
Songaskians live on average twice as long as Ailor, up to 200 years or so, and also age proportionally half as fast, meaning they still look 50 years old when they reach 100 years of age. Songaskians however carry infants to term much faster, within a full month from conception a healthy child can be born. Songaskians barely show pregnancy because their children are born much smaller than an average Ailor baby, though these infants grow faster to being toddlers, but overall Songaskians mature at about the same rate as Ailor, and then slow their aging process down to half speed. Additionally, Songaskians also have a unique trait called gynandromorphism, meaning their Race has characteristics of both genders. Both male and female Songaskians are capable of carrying children, and conceiving (note, this does not mean that they have both reproductive organs, it is purely an internal biological matter). This means that Songaskians are uniquely capable of reproducing with other Races, resulting in a wide range of half-Songaskian children all over the world, something they also find culturally acceptable.
Despite their cultural drive for world conquest and their support of slavery and a powerful military, Songaskians strangely enough exhibit one of the world's most laid-back worldviews on life. The Songaskians are averse to the very concept of killing anything living, from the highest sentient Races to even the most insignificant insects and critters. This however does not make them vegetarians (though many of them do end up living like vegetarians) as there is still room for the ritualistic, sustenance-validated killing of pasture animals. While there are certainly outliers that enjoy killing, these tend to be more the exception to the norm. Songaskians also have the seemingly contradictory mental trait of both feeling racially superior but still considering all Races, even slaves, to be worth investing in. While many Ailor have the mentality that the world would be better rid of the lesser Races, the Songaskians seem to genuinely believe that biodiversity and racial multiplication and mixing is a good thing. This comes with the caveat that they must remain in control of the highest forms of authority to protect and guide the lesser beings towards a utopian world view. As such, the Songaskians are also the only Race that openly accepts Half Races without any caveats, racial mixing and cross-race relationships, and likely have given rise to the largest half-race populations in the world, despite their short presence on it. They have a perhaps uncontemporary acceptance even of their own Race’s dilution, yet maintain a very strict approach to tracing their lineage to the Dragons and excluding those who have fallen too far from the main succession line. Half-Songaskians are still considered full citizens in their Empire, even if they have none of the racial Abilities.
Songaskians are always ready for a game of gambling or a drink with strangers and are equally jovial and comical in their response to ridicule. Most Songaskians don’t even feel insults and will tend to just send a quip back with a flair of kindness. This unique trait makes them both very much disliked by those who actively try to get under their skin and liked by those who can appreciate their snarky yet well-meaning attitude. However, when things get physical the mood of a Songaskian can very quickly turn. Their utopian lording attitude causes them to also be control freaks and vain in their appearance. Anything that ruins that, like a spilled Kaffee on a dress or a dusting of sawdust sprinkled into their well-made hair, will make them very upset. Songaskians are very passionate when their emotions flare up and are famously hard to calm down. They are angry for long, kind to many, warmhearted to even the most distant of guests, and more passionate and dedicated to their lovers, friends and family than most other Races. It is hard to ever find a Songaskian excluding anyone, even Qadir, from socialization and their homes, as long as everyone understands that if that kindness is offended, that the Songaskian will find whatever way to get their way, including but not limited to violent submission.
Besides their normal Ailor-like appearance, Songaskians do have the capacity to change their appearance through a number of mechanics, usually in an indefinite manner. This means that, even though the Songaskians are born Ailor-like, many of them choose to use their Elder Shift Abilities to change their appearance to distance themselves from dark-skinned Ailor, and appear more unique. A number of these Abilities are related to the Dragons, and appearing more like them through the additions of scales, horns, and a tail. All of these additions are flexible and can be tuned up or down depending on preference, aesthetics, or purpose. The following traits are available, and can be independently used or combined in whatever way desired:
- All Songaskians are able to convert any part of their skin into black Dragon Scales, effortlessly, and instantly. This can either be done on only certain areas like the shoulders and the spine, on whole body parts like the full arms, or on the entire torso and legs and arms, save the face. The face is the only part that cannot become scaled. These scales are stronger than normal skin, meaning that before or during battle, a Songaskian can cause parts of their body to become covered in Dragon Scale to increase their durability. These scales have the toughness of chainmail armor, and as such, can resist several direct attacks before creating open wounds. These scales however do little against spears and ranged projectiles however. These scales can be upheld practically forever, and many Songaskians choose to cover certain parts of their body in scales for aesthetic purposes, though many also choose only to use their scales in combat. If the hands are fully covered in scales, the fingers turn more claw-like, however these claws are purely aesthetic and grant no combat benefits. The same applies for the feet.
- All Songaskians are capable of creating a black scaled tail that tapers into a sharp point at the end. This tail, while standing, reaches down to the floor with a small amount of drag, and is prehensile. It is capable of holding items, wrapping around things, and can even apply an equal amount of force as two hands normally could, but cannot under any circumstance wield a weapon. Tails are less frequently seen among the Songaskians, though there are those who wrap them around their waist until they wish to use them like belts, or hide them under clothing. Still, there are plenty of tailless Songaskians.
- All Songaskians are capable of manifesting some shape of Draconic horns on their head. This can either manifest as two horns bent backwards, or multiple smaller horns bent backwards, however no matter how many horns there are or in what shape, they must always bend backwards. The colors can range from dark-brown to ivory, usually depending more on the color of the Songaskian’s hair, with the horns usually colored in opposite light-dark. These horns instantly regrow when removed, but can also be upheld forever and effortlessly retract or extend. They must however always have the same shape, but can differ in length from time to time and on demand. Many Songaskians in Regalia use horns, but others might also choose to go horn-less so as to fit in better.
- All Songaskians are capable of changing their head from humanoid to draconic. This is one of the least used changes to Songaskian physiology, but some Songaskians prefer it to stay closer in tune to their heritage. When used, this changes their head shape into that of a Black Dragon, complete with slitted eyes, black scales down to the neck, and ivory horns. They are still able to speak normally while having a Dragon’s head.
- All Songaskians are capable of turning the hair on their head and any potential facial hair into animated fire. This fire will be more orange colored than real fire, and be cold to touch, while remaining roughly proportional in size to the amount of hair they had, and the styling and shape of their hair. For example, a single mohawk will still result in a single mohawk-shaped orange flame on the head. This can be effortlessly turned on and off, and can be upheld practically forever.
Summary of Racial Abilities
|Elder Form Ability||Type||Range||Description (These Abilities can be mixed and can overlap, they are all optional aesthetics for the Race, meaning all, some, or none can be chosen.)|
|Elder Tail||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians are able to manifest a black scaled tail that drags slightly on the floor. The tail is prehensile and can hold items and apply as much force as both hands put together. This Ability can be maintained indefinitely, if the Songaskian wants. The tail is either out, or it isn't. As such, this Racial Passive is a Toggle. The tail can also be bound or hidden under a belt around the waist and then revealed at a later point in time.|
|Elder Scale||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians are able to change their skin anywhere on their body (except the face) in any quantity and near-instantly. When applied anywhere on the skin, the area becomes as tough as Chainmail. This Ability acts like a gradient, meaning the scale quantity can cover whole limbs, partial limbs, parts of the torso or only the back, it is entirely up to the Songaskian. This Ability can be maintained indefinitely, if the Songaskian wants. If either the hands or feet are covered in scales, the nails turn more claw-like, but this is purely aesthetical and has no combat advantage.|
|Elder Horns||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians are able to manifest horns from their head. These can either be just two horns, or multiple horns close together. These horns can have any shape, but must never be larger than the head, and can only ever bend backwards. Their color can range from ivory to dark gray-brown. These horns grant no combat advantage. The length however can be changed, but the design and shape must always be the same for each individual Songaskian. This Ability can be maintained indefinitely, if the Songaskian wants.|
|Elder Head||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians are capable of changing the appearance of their head into that of a Black Desert Dragon, complete with scales down to the shoulders, slitted orange eyes, and ivory horns. The face must always look the same, but can act as a disguise for those who have not identified the Dragon head yet. The horns however must always be the same as the horns from the Ability Elder Horns. With this head, the Songaskian can still speak like normal and gets no other advantages.|
|Elder Flame||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians are able to change their head hair or facial hair or both into orange flames. These flames move somewhat slower than real flames, and respect the rough outline of the Songaskian's hair, while also being considerably more orange in color and being cold to the touch. This Ability acts like a toggle, and can be maintained indefinitely, if the Songaskian so desires. It is also instant in terms of activating or removing.|
|Common Abilities||Type||Range||Description (All Songaskians have these Abilities)|
|Sand Mastery||Racial Passive||Emote Distance||Songaskians can, aesthetically, move their hands around, causing grains of sand to follow along in a sliding movement. This movement is about the speed of a slithering snake, and can move vertically up surfaces if 'steered' by both hands. The sand can also be shaped to appear like the outline of buildings or a part of the city, but it cannot ever appear like anything else, and is purely aesthetic in use. As soon as the Songaskian stops steering with their hands, the sand stops moving.|
|Desert Wall||Racial Spell||Self||Songaskians can, while rotating both arms in front of them in large circular motions, pick up a lot of sand particles from nearby areas, and form a disk of sand rapidly rotating in front of them that obscures view of their body from the front. If any mundane projectile were to try to pass through this disk of rotating sand, it would instead deflect. Additionally, if a melee person attacks or jumps into this disk, it explodes, causing the attacker to be knocked back 3 blocks and off their feet. This ability has a 1 hour cooldown, the Songaskian cannot move while the disk is up, but it can be held up indefinitely until it is broken, and cannot be turned around.|
|Shambala's Gaze||Racial Spell||Emote Distance||Songaskians can rapidly clap their hands above their head, causing a sunlight flash to appear from their hands. Within Emote Distance, the Songaskian can choose 2 Characters maximum to apply Magical Blindness to. These players must use "/t add Blind" (a blindness trait) for the duration of 15 minutes. Then, the trait can be removed with "/t remove Blind". This Ability has a 2 hour cooldown. While used in an area, it cannot be re-used by another Songaskian within Emote Distance of the original usage, for at least 15 minutes. While Magically blind, the victim can only see what the Trait Blindness allows them to see. Magical Blindness immunities prevents this effect.|
|Dragon's Core||Racial Passive||Self||Songaskians have complete immunity to fire damage. They still find direct contact with fire unpleasant, but their skin does not catch fire, and fire does not cause burns or damage. They can still choke on smoke inhalation, and generally find extreme heat unpleasant or irritating, but can resist being set on fire, and even resist being hurt by Ability Created Fire.|
Songaskian history is immensely difficult to verify or prove, largely because the events leading up to their arrival on Aloria remain a mystery. The Songaskians had no writing in the early days of their arrival, and no other Races (besides the Qadir who have their own version of events) witnessed their creation in this particular corner of the world. The majority of Songaskian history is guarded and told by the College of Priesthood, which is also a major religious organization, and likely has some inherent bias to what is told. That being said, the story of Songaskian arrival begins somewhere 100 BC, when the Sariyd Empire (the forerunners of the Qadir) brought conflict to the Black Desert Dragons of Farah'deen. The Sariyd and the Black Desert Dragons had always lived in an uneasy agreement of mutual indifference, with the Black Desert Dragons living in the scorching deserts of Bouginaptoii, Idalbile, Khatil-Assatola, Baouele-Mbene, Khgargoro, Banforakoro, and Ouelessaboulefassabagougou. Each of these deserts contained two pairs of Dragons, meaning a total of 14 Black Desert Dragons roamed the massive landmasses of Farahdeen, while the Sariyd stuck to their pearl cities and known trade routes as well as oases. The Black Desert Dragons were considered a nuisance to the Sariyd, because they made the majority of Farahdeen infertile and dry, while the Black Desert Dragons were wary of the Sariyd who “Developed the means to scar the very world itself with their pride”, or so it is told by the Priesthood.
Eventually, this mutual disinterest between the Black Dragons and the Sariyd broke down, and while the exact year of the conflict is not recorded, it is at least very clearly recorded that it was the Black Desert Dragons that attacked first. These beings started laying waste to smaller communities and whipping up massive sandstorms that coursed through the land, swallowing whole valleys and covering whole mountains. In some areas of Farahdeen, it was thought that the sun had gone dark, with sand swallowing the land, suffocating the animals and killing the crops. The Sariyd quickly fought back with large stampeding beasts of brass and copper, built like bulls and hellish steeds, capable of shooting large projectiles that would impale a normal man. The Sariyd called this the Red Hunt, not because the Dragons were Red (as they were in fact Black), but because the cover of sand storms gave all of the pearl cities of the Sariyd Empire a red hue, and because the Sariyd population were choking on the Dragon attacks.
The exact nature of the conflict is badly recorded, but in rough lines, the Dragons were very obviously losing, causing them to retreat to a location called Kouriyasui, which was always considered the home of the Black Desert Dragons, and where they held their Conclave. Kouriyasui had never been approached by the Sariyd, on account of being a massive valley made of quicksand, with a single huge mountain in the middle with a flat top and what looked like buildings. The vast valley was surrounded by huge towers of black marble and gold, with sundisks resting on top of them that would cast reflected light at each other and into the valley, giving rise to no shadows and no darkness. The Sariyd assaulted the valley with massive spider-like machines, arthropod-like assault vehicles and giant walking bipedal clockwork mechs that blasted white light from their eyes at the Dragons. It is there in their final act of desperation, that the Black Desert Dragons, according to the Priesthood, gave heed to the decree from the Old Ones that the time of Dragons had passed, and that Creation would rule. It is however believed by Dragon Worshipers elsewhere that the Black Desert Dragons dissented the decree, though not by rejecting it outright. Instead of dying or disappearing, they chose to become Creation itself. It is said among the Songaskians that each of the Dragons part-took in one huge Draconic ritual or spell that would “Give birth to each songaskian, one black scale at a time, so that all scales would give rise to a nation”. In essence, the Songaskians believe that the first of their kind were born from the scales of Black Dragons, who gave life to them, and in the process disappeared to live on in their new creation. The byproduct of this spell, however, was a sandstorm of cataclysmic proportions that rapidly raged across Farahdeen like a shockwave.
The cities that were already covered in a red haze often never saw it coming as the sand coursed through the streets, through every opening and nook and cranny to fill up the insides of homes, people, animals and suffocate all life. The assault on Kouriyasui came to an immediate halt, all the clockwork giant’s technicians and operators dying from suffocation, their mechs and machines grinding to a halt in the valley, half-sunken into the quicksand. The shockwave continued, swallowing all of the Sariyd pearl cities and killing millions of them in the process, only halting just beyond the pearl city of Dogono. When the Great Storm subsided, the only land on Farahdeen that had remained untouched was the backwards and often forgotten province of Al-Alus and Mooriye, where the pearl cities of Alus-Ahadara and Mzwenhlanhla which were previously some of the smallest Sariyd pearl cities left, suddenly became the last. The Sariyd had been dealt a massive blow, losing not only countless cities, but also hundreds of libraries, workshops, archives, palaces and other structures of learning and science, buried deep into the sands of the Farahdeen deserts, some to never be seen again. By the time the Cataclysm rolled over, the Sariyd had already become known as the Qadir among themselves, and Farahdeen was mostly spared from the destruction that ravaged the Allorn Empire and other places in the world. The extreme loss of life and identity for the Qadir had however damaged them on the global playing field, a position from which they would not recover until modern times.
The Songaskians appeared from the Great Storm, as if children wandering from a dark forest that they had gotten lost in. They were created as both adults and children, left behind with a language and ideology, but with no Dragons to guide them. There was a common identity shared among them, and a story told of their creation, that would continue to guide them to retake the old Sariyd cities, where even though the Sand had killed mere years before, the white pearl colors of their bastion walls and the gold-domed towers remained as pristine as ever, reflecting and basking in the sunlight that was so plentiful in Farahdeen. Indeed, in many pearl cities, the Songaskians simply picked up where the Sariyd had left and died, as the Great Storm had effectively only touched animals and people, but not buildings and items. The Songaskians started building their own culture from scratch, and before long, animals started returning to the deserts and the wetlands, crops started growing again, and songs could be heard in the streets of the old Empire. After 10 years, it was as if the Great Storm had never happened, a newcomer would think that the Songaskians had existed in these pearl cities for hundreds of years, that is how at home and at ease they appeared.
Still, Songaskian history is marred in violence as much as it is covered in tranquility in those early years. The Qadir immediately declared a blood feud against the Songaskians and mobilized to try and take back their pearl cities. The Songaskians however severely outnumbered them, and each battle lost only brought more slaves to the Songaskian armies that would come bearing down on the Qadir. Through slavery missions sailing north and west, the Songaskians even captured Ailor and Allar as well as the rare Altalar, creating a more diverse community in their cities, even if it was based on slavery. The Qadir held onto Kankagner for several more decades, before the Songaskians overpowered them in 170 AC, and the final boundaries between the Masaya and the Qadir states were more or less created.
Songaskian piracy remained a major issue for the Regalian Empire all the way up to modern times, where Regalia officially went to war during the First Songaskian War, where the Songaskians temporarily managed to occupy the capital of Regalia and send the royal family into hiding. Eventually, the Songaskians were ejected and the war ended in a stalemate. By intervention of the Imperial Dragon as Emperor during the Second War, instability started affecting the hierarchy of the Masaya. The sudden presence of a Dragon in their midst caused an issue with Songaskian beliefs that all Dragons had disappeared. Many of the Masaya insisted that they should not be fighting Regalia, but instead ally it, while hardliners continued the idea that the Masaya should stay away from Regalia, and that while they might have a Dragon, that the Songaskians should stay true to the Black Dragon’s decrees, and were the heirs to the Mantle of Creation, a concept that dictates that the Songaskians should rule all lesser Races.
A civil war occurred between these two sides that the pro-Regalian side eventually won, solidifying Massya Musamansa Koné on the throne in favor of his uncle, who insisted on permanent war with the Regalian Empire. While the uncle was in power, for a short while, he allied with the Sihai and the Altalar to form the Magical Covenant that was meant to destroy the Regalian Empire. Upon losing his throne to his nephew again that he had cooped just a year before however, the Magical Covenant was broken. There currently exists an uneasy truce between the 18-year-old Massya and his older uncle, who rules a small portion of the Masaya’s far east and continues to subtly court Sihai diplomats, likely to have another try at overthrowing his nephew. The Songaskians are not formally allied to Regalia, but have showed strong inclinations to positive relations with the Regalians, even exchanging the world’s first permanent embassy missions to each other, with a member of House Black serving as Ambassador for the Regalian Empire in the Songaskian capital of Korbamakora, while a general’s son is positioned permanently in Regalia to act as a liaison to the Massya.
The Songaskians now roam more freely in the world, their slavery and piracy having reduced strongly in favor of trade and diplomacy. Over the centuries, the Songaskians had to learn both the hard and good way that violence and oppression did not always work, and sometimes got them into more trouble than it was worth. While their whole economy and bureaucratic and military structures continue to be supported by rampant slavery, it is often said by other Races that to be a Songaskian slave is not such a bad thing. Songaskians have gained a far more enlightened attitude to the idea of ruling, and unlike the other Empires in the world, seem more convinced to try and charm others into their fold instead of ruthlessly crushing anyone who opposes them. Still, Songaskians are often underestimated. They continue to have the largest and most well-trained army in the world that is endlessly able to replenish its losses, while individually, Songaskians are counted as some of the most skilled and versatile fighters, and their priesthood contains some of the most powerful Life and Death Mages.
Families and Romance
Songaskians have both some of the happiest and some of the cruelest family situations, depending on one’s perspective. Songaskians believe mostly in monogamy, though polyamory is not entirely unheard of. Same-sex relations are not as common as in other Races, but unlike other Races, they are seen as entirely normal, largely because two men can still procreate, as can two women. Interracial couples are also common, and entirely accepted, while their children are also raised as worthy members of Songaskian society. Songaskian commoners have a very pleasant life. The home’s economic burdens are taken care of by slaves usually, leaving the parents all the time in the world to take care of and raise their children. Indeed, while other Races often delegate the task of children raising to communal clubs or grandparents, Songaskian parents spend the most amount of time with their children to form strong bonds. However, when adulthood arrives, Songaskians have a habit of abruptly and harshly cutting off contact with their children as a means of establishing their own independence in the world. A parent might from one day be loving, turn to stone-cold ignoring their child the next if it is time for them to reach out into the world and make their own name. This is because Songaskians absolutely despise the idea of inherited wealth or status. Indeed, this whole process of ejecting a child from one’s household is more severe among Nobility, because the Songaskians don’t have a concept of hereditary nobility in the Masaya. A General might rise to fame in one lifetime, only for his children to be failures and his family name to die out. In the hopes that children realize the need for building their own wealth and fame, they are given the most basic of pocket money to get started and then cut off. If a child still has not achieved anything by age 70, the parents tend to take them back in, however this child is then considered a failure to the family, and only allowed to do menial household tasks like manage the slaves and prepare feasts for the family instead of hosting them. As soon as a child has achieved some level of success or fame or at least equal financial stability of the family however, these two units are re-combined into a greater whole, and the family continues with the children onboard. Orphans however, are the most downtrodden of people in the Masaya. Despite the strong child-welfare (even at the cost of complete separation as soon as the children become adults), children born without parents or who lose their parents somewhere along the way end up in a funnel of hellish child-homes and orphanages from which they can rarely ever escape without some mental anguish. Orphans cannot trace their lineage to the 14 Black Dragons, and as such, are considered tainted goods, and no parent would adopt a child and take care of it. Commonly, the only way out of orphanages for these children is slavery among their own people, which usually ends up in the military. These children and later adults are called the Farborn, those without a Lineage.
The Songaskians have largely united into a single large Empire called the Masaya, though smaller Songaskian states exist to the north of the Masaya called Saruhanna and Malifant. For the purpose of this section however, those nations are so small that they do not really factor into the common Songaskian identity, and as such, the focus will be on the Masaya. At the head of the Masaya sits the Massya, or Emperor. The Massya is in theory an absolute ruler, but in practice, their authority is usually curbed by the nobility of the Masaya. The Nobility is non-hereditary, meaning the court of nobles is always only ever made up of the most skilled and most talented or most lucky members of the upper class, who continue to uphold their status with further achievements. This can make Songaskian upper class living fairly cutthroat, with noble houses collapsing in a single generation due to lack of proper upkeep. Noble assassination is quite common among especially the military nobles, the warlords and generals who each have their own slave army to complement the state’s army. Much of the state’s governance is run through appointments such as having a noble appointed to General of the North, while another is appointed to the position of Grand Calculator of the Treasury. This means that while on the surface the Masaya might appear like the Regalian Empire, in practice it is far more meritocratic and has far less bureaucratic weight. The people of the Masaya are also not taxed, while the economy and leisure of the people is supported by a vast network of slavery. It is often said that while the Songaskians in pure population numbers don’t even reach half the Ailor numbers in the Regalian Empire, their military is four times the size of all Regalian soldiers put together, and far better trained and equipped. The change of the old guard when a noble is flushed out and a new one installed however, can sometimes be chaotic. Most nobles appoint their own servants and clerks such as lower ranked government officials, and one noble being removed can mean an entirely new administration takes office, often losing some paperwork and efficiency of the past in the process. Generally speaking however, the Songaskians are very content with their government and rarely if ever does a Songaskian flee to Regalia from prosecution.
Songaskians are very proud of their lineage and many Songaskians trace their lineage back to the original 14 Black Desert Dragons, which all had names. The lineage distinction doesn’t have much bearing on the actual position of Songaskians in life or their prospects, it is merely a cultural notion that the Songaskians proudly proclaim, as their heritage is something to be cherished in their eyes. Songaskians might proclaim their lineage when introducing themselves, but others also prefer to keep this a secret, so that only others who are Songaskian get to know this intimate detail about their life. Lineage membership doesn’t imply direct family relations, as most families have diluted so far that it does not matter. Half-Songaskians are also culturally permitted to claim lineage. Some Dragons do have some traits that they were known for, and frequently, Songaskians might try to emulate these traits or consider them good virtues passed down from their lineages. Indeed, sometimes, Dragons pass down physical traits. For example, Kah-Tooral was the largest of the Black Dragons, and so Songaskians of their lineage tend to be on the larger side, both for females and males. The more common short version of the Dragon name is sometimes used as a middle name for ease for reference so others can quickly understand to what Lineage the Songaskian in front of them belongs to.
- Kash-Tooral (commonly called Kash) was the largest of the Black Dragons and commonly seen as a strong warrior. Those of his lineage try to live up to his example with strength training, and frequently prefer a carnivorous diet.
- Birk-Marvahjr (commonly called Birr) was the orator of the Black Dragons, with a sharp tongue and even snarkier responses. Songaskians try to emulate them by honing their insult-skill, and those of other lineages seek to be insulted by them as a form of comedy.
- Kettrakh (commonly called Kett) was one of the smallest Black Dragons, was the schemer and plotter of the Black Dragons. Those of their lineage try to play mind games with others as a way of paying homage, but only “good natured” plots, like surprise parties or gift ceremonies.
- Vult (commonly called Vult) was the most studious and intellectual of the Black Dragons, those of their lineage attempting always to learn more and discover new things, collecting a vast library of their own, and digging for Sariyd treasures.
- Uttrakhar (commonly called Utt) is also sometimes called the sleeper, giving rise to a lineage of those believing that the best way to pay homage to them, is to take life as easy and laid-back as possible while avoiding as much responsibility as possible.
- Rakhaksaris (commonly called Rakka) was the peacekeeper and the kind one, an unusual disposition in a Dragon Throne of warriors. Those of their lineage try to always seek for the kindness in others, and express their desire to have others be more kind to one another.
- Askaisyam (commonly called Askia) was the energetic challenger and the boisterous proudful one of the Black Dragons, Those of their lineage often end up as pit-fighters or gladiators, attempting to rival a reputation of combat skill and prowess.
- Songalay (commonly called Song) was the consorting warrior. Those of their lineage end up usually being more androgynous and seeking true love in the world, whether that be just a single person, or being adored by many.
- Innil-Tarra (commonly called Inni) was the most playful and cheery of the Black Dragons, giving rise to a lineage of those seeking to become stage masters, actors and theatre performers. Those of Inni’s lineage tend to be shorter.
- Baoul (commonly called Balou) was the most angry and ill-tempered of the Black Dragons, and likely the one to attack the Sariyd the most. Their lineage is dominated by those who have equally ill tempers, and frequently live their whole lives with Dragon heads instead of Ailor heads from their racial abilities.
- Karkihs (commonly called Kark) was the compassionate and the doubter, rumored to only begrudgingly consent to the Great Storm. Those of their lineage try to go about helping others in their lives, and attempting to get those helped to pay that charity forward.
- Dirér (commonly called Dirri) was the so-called mother or father Dragon, being the first to give up their body to give birth to the Songaskians. Those of this lineage often only find happiness in having a large family of offspring.
- Kaye-Mahina (commonly called Kaye) was the so-called all-shaper Dragon of the sands, the one most gifted with Draconic Magic. Those of this lineage often find comfort living underground, or building their homes in the faces of mountains.
- Damin-Ouilia (commonly called Damin) was the so-called Life and Death-mancer, or guardian of the Sand Ghosts. Those of this lineage often sign up for the College of Priesthood, and there is also a higher tendency for Life or Death mages being born in this lineage.
The Songaskian religion is called Shambala, though there also exist some more generic Dragon Worshipers among their people. Shambala however, is a fairly unique religion that while maintaining a concept of priesthood, worship and divinity, is not considered an all-truth like all other religions. What this means is that those who worship Shambala do not necessarily see their religion as an absolute worldly truth through which everything can be explained. While in Altalar Faith of Estel all of creation is ascribed to Estel and her pantheon, in Shambala, the exact creation of all other Races and the world is left really vague, while only the subject of the creation of the Songaskians is touched upon as a divine moment. The Songaskians also do not believe that their religion should at one point in time “rule” the world like the Ailor do with Unionism, rather, they consider their religion a very personal matter that does not affect politics, and one could say that the Songaskians are the only Race that have truly harnessed the separation of church and state. At the same time, the Songaskians are very possessive of their faith. Shambala is not a religion that other Races besides themselves and half-Songaskians are allowed to follow, even though they do sometimes proselytize others into their beliefs.
At its core, Shambala is a religion declaring the Black Desert Dragons (and other Dragons by extension) as divine beings, but more notably the Black Desert Dragons. It is believed that while the celestial body of the sun was at one point very mundane, that during the Great Storm, the Dragons gave up their bodies and magic to give birth to the Songaskians, and then had their souls transcend to the sun, where they would form one all-god called Shambala, who continues to bless the Songaskian people, and watch out over them, and pass judgment where necessary. Shambala is primarily worshiped through recitations of holy texts called Haana’s, usually while facing the sun and placing one’s hands with the palm in the direction of the sun, one on each side of the sun, while praying with one’s eyes closed, letting the sunlight cover the face. To cover one’s head is heresy to the Songaskians, and so Songaskians must never wear any clothing article on top of their head. Anyone wearing hats or armor while in the Masaya or in a Songaskian’s home who is not a Songaskian themselves will be quickly if not roughly urged to remove their blasphemous item, as the Songaskians believe that to cover one’s head, disallows Shambala from peering into the soul of the individual and judge them.
Communal worship is done in so-called Sun Temples which are often in fact large open-air theatres with a number of large pillars, each adorned with a massive golden disk suspended in air with Primal energies that catch the sun’s rays and redirect them to a focal point at the center of the Sun Temple, which is also a floor covered in polished gold, creating the so-called sunwell. At the heart of any Songaskian community, such a Sun-Temple often provides a bright well of light even visible from far away. Worship is led by the College of Priesthood, an organization not too dissimilar from the Regalian Unionist priesthood, except it is mostly filled with women, with the occasional male priest. Additionally, the College of Priesthood is an organization that has a large Mage population, primarily Primal and Ordial Mages, but some Void and Exist Mages are also present.
Attitudes to Void/Exist
Songaskian attitudes to Void/Exist and by extension Mages/Silven and other such dimensional beings, is a bit complicated. Normally, one would expect these Primal/Dragon related people to absolutely hate Exist and Void things, as all Dragon Worshipers and Isldar tend to do. At its core however, their acceptance of these individuals (and sometimes even celebration of them) is related to their cultural notion that the world being biodiversified is a good thing, and that non-Songaskians are fine people meant to be ruled by the benevolence of the Songaskians and let to thrive and prosper, or serve as slaves if they get in the way of that utopia. Biodiversity being a good thing, to Songaskians, means that dimensional diversity must also be a good thing, while they also reject the entire notion of the world coming to an end supposedly because of the proliferation of Magic. By extension of Magic Diversity, Void and Exist Mages and Silven are allowed to exist in the Songaskian Masaya, and Mages are even incorporated into the College of Priesthood. In fact, the College of Priesthood is not necessarily even a religious organization, a Void Mage or Sorcerer half-Songaskian might for example be officially named Priest, but not offer any religious services or even know half the Haana’s by heart, instead using their magical powers in one of the many other tasks undertaken by the College of Priests. As such, the best way to put it, is that the Primal and Ordial Mages, high ranking officials in the College of Priesthood, are pro-integration to their Void and Exist touched kin and non-kin, but on a number of conditions.
There is a very clear preference for Primal and Ordial Mages in the higher ranks. While Void and Exist mages have held the positions of High Priest and Priestess, the number of them ever-ascending this rank are far less than the ones among Primal and Ordial Magic. Furthermore, the Songaskians make an assessment of the “hostility of a Magic”. In order to categorize and streamline their Magic usage, the Songaskians have schools specifically made for catching children with Magic early on in their life and encouraging them to have a beneficial form of Magic. If a Magic caster enters the College of Priesthood at a later point in life where their Magic was already allowed to develop to something corrosive or hostile to morality and ideology, then the Songaskians might violently reject them from their society, or enslave them to work in the Masaya’s army instead. It must be said that the Songaskians are very tolerant of Void and Exist, more so than Ailor, but less than Altalar who accept any and all forms of Magic no matter what the nature is. Songaskians remain picky and believe that the Magic caster must have some sort of beneficial use. A Mage that can only destroy or corrupt and make things ugly or disorganized is quickly ejected, albeit never killed outright and given a better purpose elsewhere away from the faithful and society.
Vampires and Werebeasts exist in an even grayer area. Werebeast are commonly believed to serve well as slaves, and so Werebeasts are legal among Songaskians, as long as they are enslaved to Songaskians and in chains. Vampires are only legal in certain situations, judged by the same specifications as Mages. The Songaskians believe that if a Vampire can control their bloodthirst to just the Slaves they have been assigned or own, then their Vampirism is permissible. This has caused a certain Vampire upper-class to exist in the Songaskian Masaya that is out in the open and entirely legal and socially accepted among them, as long as they keep their feeding to their personal property. Some of the most notable generals in the Masaya are Vampires, and are also not afraid to hide it because of their societal acceptance. It has notably been observed that these societally accepted Vampires tend to be far kinder than their hunted and forcibly cured kin in Regalia. They are in all ways of measurement model citizens of the Masaya, and use their Vampiric powers for good. Just because Vampirism is legal in this form, also does not mean that Vampirism rampantly grows. The Vampiric aristocracy are quite vain in their Vampiric gifts and very rarely if ever recruit new Vampires into their folds, while Covens practically do not exist among the Songaskians.
The only thing the Songaskians absolutely despise are Undead, which they call the Great Rot of the world. The whole College of Priesthood is in fact geared towards the eradication of the Undead and the cleansing of ghosts from their habitats. The Primal Mages are often geared towards the School of Life Magic, healing and blessing skills to the benefit of the Priesthood or the army. Death Mages on the other hand, or Ordial origin, are usually geared towards giving the Sadeir ghosts, remnants of the killed Sariyd that continue to haunt the desert ruins, a final resting place, and cleansing their locations. It is as such common to see Life Mages in white robes in houses of healing and temples, and Death Mages in black robes seated on Bakhshuna Jamals or Sandmaws, scouring the deserts for lost souls or ghosts that haunt the hills, sending them to the afterlife. The duality between life and death is very important in the Shambala faith also, which is why Primal and Ordial mages are highly respected among the Songaskians.
Songaskian cuisine is as vibrant and inviting as the people themselves, with a wide range of dishes all uniquely made in the Songaskian ways. Songaskians frequently do not use open fires for food or skillets, rather preferring closed-environment cooking like the famous Tagine earthwork pot with a lid that usually makes slow-cooked stews, or through steaming or smoking the food. One of the most famous Songaskian dishes is the couscous, a tender steamed grain usually mixed with steamed vegetables and smoked lamb or fish. Other dishes also include filled meat pies, as pastry baking and dough making are very frequently used to prepare dishes. Preserved olives and lemons are common, while prunes and almonds are also frequently used to add nutty and sweet notes to food. Soups are uncommon, as soup is considered a poor traveler’s food, and because every traveling donkey has at least one tagine hanging from its saddle. Desserts are very important to the Songaskians, an entire feast can be ruined by a bad set of desserts. The Songaskians adore puff pastry and simple cookie-like dishes. M’hanncha for example is a pastry dough rolled up in the form of a snake, filled with almond paste and sugar and almonds, while Sellou is a pile of roasted browned flour, fried almonds and toasted seeds, usually complemented with cinnamon spice. It is commonly believed that the Songaskians invented the doughnut, as they have a dish called Sfenj that is essentially a chewier doughnut, dating back to the early days of the Masaya’s creation.
Songaskian fashion, simply put, is very revealing, either in the literal sense that it covers little, or in the figurative sense that the clothing is tight-fitting and leaves little to the imagination. As a vain people that have a habit of being more physically fit, it is not uncommon for men to wear so-called Mounda, which are vests that only cover parts of the chest and the arms, but not the midriff or the stomach. Waist sashes are common, as are Alounas, which are similar to panty-hoses worn by women in Regalia, however they are instead not see-through, and have a rubber sole at the bottom of the feet pads, causing them to be worn without shoes. This creates the impression that the Songaskians do not wear shoes, but their shoes are often incorporated into their legwear. Women frequently wear tight fit and poised and classy dresses, necklaces with red beads and rubies are common, as are large earrings. Women tend to cover themselves up a bit more, but leave nothing to the imagination with their shapes. Songaskian fashion is often considered base or offensive to other cultures. In Regalia in particular, the showcasing of so much skin has often led to misunderstandings. To remedy this, Songaskians frequently cover up more while in Regalia if only to satisfy their society that they happen to live in at that very time, but besides that, Songaskians are frequently proud of their body, and willing to show it. Hair wise, there are no real trends. One popular trend among Songaskian women is baldness, which is considered a powerful status icon among them, often seen among the priestesses of Shambala. Tattoo art is not that common among Songaskians, and usually, Songaskians believe that when one has tattoos, this betrays a loyalty to some sort of cult or underground organization. Indeed, there are cults in the Songaskian Masaya, outliers that do not worship Shambala and instead worship various Arken, such as the Cult of Envy and the Cult of Judgement. The Songaskians instead invented a body paint called Tawhroon, which is a long-lasting skin paint that has gold leaf mixed in and some other faux-gold materials. When this paint dries, it mimics the clean and polished reflectiveness of gold, thus appearing as if gold has directly been applied to the skin. Depictions of geometric lines, faux-crowns, and shapes that depict important symbols to the individual are common. This paint tends to last for several weeks before it detaches and must be re-applied.
Architecture and Buildings
Songaskian architecture is identical to Sariyd pre-Qadir architecture, something the Qadir continue to perceive as insulting, even if their architecture has radically moved away from their old principles. Songaskian cities are often plastered as white as possible, allowing them to reflect light and appear immensely bright and alive, while the roofs of their houses are usually topped with domes, covered in either bronze or gold-leaf to reflect the sunlight also. Their pearl cities, formerly inhabited by Sariyd, have huge bastion walls that no normal army could reasonably mount an assault on, while towering buildings peer above it like shards of ice. Scattered around the city are sun disks, usually less magic-inclined imitations of the ones near and in sun-temples, for decorative purposes, but sometimes also to tell the time of day. Near to the ground, the Songaskians use a mixture of tapestry and linen coverings to stay out of the sun, alleyways covered with red and orange bright colors, soaked in eucalyptus incense and the fragrances of spices and pastries being baked. Further in the provinces, the bright white building plaster is often replaced with simple sandstone to save time and money, but each smaller community always has a tall sun disk in the middle to act both as a lighthouse in the desert, and also as a central focus point of worship for Shambala. The Songaskians have essentially picked up the Sariyd architecture and continued building just as they had 400 years ago. As such, anyone researching Sariyd culture or architecture, can often simply look to Songaskian architecture.
Slavery is a massive cornerstone of the Songaskian Masaya’s economy, internal runnings, and military, but also of everyday life. Generally speaking, every family has at least one slave, while richer families have several dozens, and greater nobles have several thousands. Slavery in the Songaskian Masaya is fully legal on all Races including their own, but only under what they consider the enlightened principle of purpose. This enlightened principle of purpose dictates that Slaves can only be gotten from those people or individuals who get in the way of the Songaskians attempting to extend their benevolence and kindness to all corners of the world. Criminals, war prisoners, orphans and those born in slavery are all fair game, as long as there was a cause for their affront to the Songaskian ideology. Slavery tends to condemn one’s children and grandchildren to slavery also, and the policy of releasing slaves simply does not exist among the Songaskians, as any inch of freedom given is considered dangerous to their high standard of living as slaves continue to perform all basic industrial and maintenance tasks, and the Songaskians simply live in luxury, much like the Altalar. It is presumed that this standard of slavery cannot be maintained forever, as the Songaskian population will at one point simply become so large that there aren’t enough people left in the world to enslave to take care of the state’s functions, however the Songaskians simply refuse to look that far ahead, and continue the current status quo.
It is commonly said that to be a slave among the Songaskians is the least terrible fate for a slave in the world of Aloria. Altalar slavers can be downright cruel, while slavery in the Dread Empire is a very deadly game, with frequent slave sacrifices. Among the Songaskians however, slaves have moderate rights. While it is certainly never ideal to be in bondage against one’s will, Songaskian slaves have reasonable lodgings and privacy, are permitted personal property, in many cases even have small wages with which they are allowed to buy things, are frequently gifted items by their masters, are never bound in chains (though can be if they misbehave) and are generally well-fed, well-groomed and treated with fair and just overlordship. Slaves can even bring court trials against their masters for alleged mistreatment, and can win freedom from that master (only to be enslaved by another), with an additional heavy pouch of gold to cover the troubles. While slave uprisings are not unheard of, Songaskian slaves tend to be far more docile and present in the lives of the families. It is in fact not unheard of for a slave to be in a lover’s relation with their master, and for their master to even bear a child from the slave. In such situations, the child is born free, Songaskian in status, and no part of any of this is considered a taboo in their society, something that would be absolutely shocking and unheard of everywhere else.
- Songaskian army divisions often defy popular social beliefs in other countries, especially on the subject of brotherly love. Some women or men only battalions encourage romance between the soldiers, believing it strengthens their bond.
- Songaskians are immune from heat overexposure and can remain in the desert’s blistering sun for days on end. Dehydration and eye damage however does still affect them, so even Songaskians use care to garb themselves appropriately in the deep deserts.
- The Songaskians were the ones who developed the art of dune-sailing, with their dragonwing-like sails and boats called Sandmaws.
- Songaskians are dubious in their opinions of Slizzar. Some get very offended when a Slizzar imitates a Songaskian, because they are Farborn and cannot have a Lineage, while others are pleased, because yet another creature acknowledges their physical superiority. It is often a gamble.
- A full blooded Songaskian born to a Slizzar and Songaskian parent is in the eyes of the Masaya still a full blood Songaskian, even if it has a Slizzar parent.