The Vladno Culture, often mistaken to be related to the Mirnoye culture, is a relatively new culture spawned from the Etosil Isles among the more aristocratic and well-off inhabitants. While the Vladno people speak the same language as the Mirnoye, the two cultures grew up on entirely distant places from one another, and thus developed entirely different cultural notions. The Vladno culture is one steeped in religious simplicity, religious zeal and internalized ruthlessness. If there was ever a high culture (such as Ithanian, Alt-Regalian and Imperial) that was ruthless, it would undoubtedly be the Vladno culture where patricide is more frequent than even among the Northerners. Dull and lacking in the eye of a fashion-oriented person, yet strong and resolute in the eyes of a military man, the Vladno culture has made more strides in the Empire as of recent, notably due to the movements of Vladno nobility from Etosil to Regalia as well as the blurring of the lines between Etosian and Sanchelle Unionism.
Language and Dialects
The Vladno people speak a language shared with another culture called the Mirnoye languages, shared with the similarly named Mirnoye people. Despite their languages being identical (in fact, there is no dialect separation), the two people groups developed entirely differently. The Vladno are generally considered Mirnoye descendants who converted to Unionism when Etosil was conquered by Vladimir Kade and migrated there from their Mirnoye homeland. The Mirnoye language is written in the Palyeva script, making is entirely unreadable to most other cultures. The Mirnoye language has a real life equivalent of “Slavic sounding” languages. This language is exclusively spoken in Mirnoye and Etosil, though some pockets of speakers also exist in Regalia, but also Etolia in the Regalian Archipelago.
The Vladno have complex naming customs, often related to where they come from, but also constructed in such a way that they represent their gender and heritage; it is even applicable to their social standing or even whether a conversation is informal or formal. For example, a woman may be called “Anna,” which is her full name. In an informal conversation with just anyone, she may be referred to as simply “Anya” when her surname is omitted. An even greater step of endearment only reserved for lovers or parents is “Anyechka.” Another female example: Ksena, Ksenya, and Ksenyechka. This is also applicable to male names, for example: Aleksei, Alyeksey, or Alyosha. Another male example: Ivan, Ivaney, Ivanosha. Names are very strong to a Vladno, a Vladno will never tell someone their name unless they specifically trust said person, and will become offended if the wrong address is used (for example by using a more endearing name version than is permitted in their relation).
Furthermore, the Vladno also use their middle name more than other cultures do. This is often derived from their place of birth. When one is male, the place of birth would be name + shniydom, while a female’s place of birth would be + skiydom. An example would be, if Anna was born in Talokon, which is a major city in Etosil, her name would be Anna Talokonskiydom. Middle names are always used in official capacity and when introducing one’s self as a Vladno. Similar to the importance of names, Vladno carry a lot of weight and pride from where they were born.
Surnames in the Vladno culture often delineate in what social rank they were born. Generally speaking most Vladno are of the aristocracy, though there are some lesser terms used for those born outside of aristocratic status. A poor person would have a surname + ra. If Anna Vana was a poor person born from Talokon, she would be Anna Talokonskiydom Vanara. Should one belongs to the common aristocracy and wealthy Etosian land owners, the surname would have a nid added to it. In the instance Anna Vana born in Talokon was of aristocracy, she would be called Anna Talokonshiydom Vananid. Finally, the highest position one can have as Vladno nobility would be having alyusha added at the end of their surname. If the example again was applied, it would be Anna Talokonshiydom Vanalyusha.
Finally, to complete a full name, Vladno people have a suffix to their full name to indicate their father’s first name. For example, if the noble Anna Vana from Talokon was the daughter of Ivan, her full name would be Anna Talokonskiydom Vanalyusha Ivanovich. Such suffixes at the end of names are always supplemented with an “ovich” behind the name of the father. The mother’s name is never used in such a suffix.
All of these naming customs become entirely irrelevant padding in Regalia however, and many government institutions often have problems properly translating these long names into names they can actually use. As such, on documented papers, the Vladno prefer to stick to their simple first name and surname, but it is estimated that over half the Vladno people in Regalia are registered as Ivanoviches and Pyotroviches.
Here are some examples of names for Vladno people
The Vladno have a very lacking relation with the State, more notably with the Etosian Church. In Etosil, despite the fact that Imperial State Law applies, the Vladno pay little heed to the central Imperial Government, and engage directly with the Etosian Patriarch who is officially the semi-autonomous head of state in Etosil. This relation is one of complete respect and deference. The words of the patriarch are almost on level with those of the Emperor to the Vladno, and generous donations are often sent to the Etosian Church to both sustain it, but to also bribe the Patriarch to assign any particular family a private priest for their spiritual needs. Not many Vladno pay taxes to the central state, preferring to share their wealth through the church, but in many ways the state also doesn’t chase after these profits because the Vladno bring an important aspect to governance: high military manpower. While in average numbers the Nordskag Kingdom contributes the largest number of troops, on average the Vladno people are the most numerous among the Officer Corps of the Regalian Empire, and they have a tendency at being rather good at it. As such, the central state sometimes overlooks tax deficiencies in exchange for drafts into the military during pressing times.
Lifestyle and Customs
The Vladno people are strictly monogamous, though this is often not entirely accurate when it applies to the men. Male Vladno have an extreme, internalized macho culture where adultery and intercourse out of marriage are glorified. This often presents an internal struggle as the Etosian Unionist Church is always strictly against these practices, and heavy fines and imprisonment are issued against adulterers. This often gives the Etosian men a form of sinner’s guilt, causing them to frequently seek the personal aid of an Etosian priest to secure their spiritual needs. This in itself has led to Etosian Priests often being hired and sustained by a family for purely their personal spiritual needs. Such a priest would be called a Zlotskiya Prichasta. Aside from this tendency for debauchery, the Vladno people can be very endearing during courting rituals. In their culture, men must always be the ones courting females, and attempt to conquer them with showcases of strength, resilience, and ironically enough, Etosian virtue.
Children are strongly raised in a harsh household where fathers tend to be cruel. The Vladno people are the world's foremost users of corporal punishment for misbehaving children including but not limited to imprisonment and starvation. This is done to try and make a child more resilient to the harsh environment of Etosil and the internal struggles of the Vladno people. As such, fratricide and sometimes even infanticide can be quite common among the Vladno, though this aspect of their culture never really changes. It could also be said that the Vladno are the most resilient of all to cross cultural pollination.
Vladno Gender roles are often snubbed by other cultures, and even among the Alt-Regalians Vladno gender roles are considered absurd and restrictive. In every way and form, a woman is a man’s property among the Vladno, and if he chooses to deny her the ability to leave the home, the ruling is set in stone. Violence is often used to enforce that sentiment. Women have no function, jobs or roles in the household beyond simply producing children, though many husbands who do truly love their wives ensure they are entertained with personal hobbies such as weaving, poetry and art. Vladno women who are married must never be seen in the company of other men without her husband, for if she does, she will be despoiled. Husbands hiring a thug specifically to spy on his wife is not too uncommon in Etosil.
The Vladno have little in ways of personal holidays, but one major tradition they do have is the All Night Vigil, in which large groups of metropolitan Vladno gather at dusk. The Etosian Priests guide the procession with massive candles that are sometimes as tall as themselves, while the Etosians all carry a portrait of their Heron suspended by a chain around their neck. During the procession, the Vladno will not wear anything beyond a woven tunic and pants, even among the women (though they do still tie their head away with a simple scarf). This whole procession is considered the ultimate sign of reverence to the Herons, and by outsiders, has often be described as beautiful and solemn. The Vladno do not sing, but often hum The Vespiya, the most widely known hymn of the Etosian Church, all in unison. Often miles far and wide, these processions aim to walk through every street until sunrise.
The Vladno people are entirely and exclusively Etosian Unionists. In fact, Etosian Unionism is ingrained in their culture so much that even the ones who may convert to Sanchelle Unionism or some other religion will continue to observe the Herons of the Etosian Unionist faith. The Vladno people in general are zealous, believing strongly in the convictions of Unionism as a whole, but pay extreme respects and deference to the Herons of both Etosian and Sanchelle Unionism. More information on how this applies to their culture is provided further below.
Literature and Folklore
The value of Vladno literature is hard to exactly pinpoint because it is written in the Palyeva script which is entirely unreadable to most Ailor and Elves. Most modern scripts are based on the old Elven script, though the Mirnoye and Vladno developed their own script for unknown reasons. As such, Vladno literature, when it concerns a global perspective, is unknown, untranslated and generally considered rubbish. They produce fairly little literature themselves, what little that is known outside of Etosil is mostly limited to compilations of poetry that tend to focus on drama and household tragedy.
Vladno art caters absolutely and entirely to their obsession with the Etosian Herons. In fact, the Vladno don’t have any other form of art like landscape or portrait art, but exclusively produce and commission iconographic art of their personal Heron patrons. When a Vladno is born, their parents usually (or father in most cases) chooses a personal Heron for them to act as their life patron. The Vladno often develop a very personal relation with these Herons that borders infatuation, and many Vladno often report having visions or hearing the voice of their Heron. This sometimes causes intense emotions and gives them purpose in life and ambitions to strive for. These icons made to worship the Herons are often simple, but can be anywhere, ranging from a painting on the wall to an embroidered drapery, to even a small locket around the neck.
The Vladno produce music mostly based on drums, taking the form of rhythmic drumming that often resembles either a marching army or a galloping herd of horses. The Vladno completely abhor vocals in music and find any singing with words absolutely disgusting. That being said, the Vladno have been known to produce some extreme bassist voices who skirt around the cultural rules by simply humming a tune without words.
Vladno fashion is called boring, mundane and even plain to the simple outsider, and the Ithanian. Even so, their fashion is quite unique in that both genders wear only exclusively black velvet as a main and only color. This means, for example, that an entire doublet or dress will be made of solid black. In order to accentuate this, the Vladno make use of a fabric weaving technique that produces a unique weave called Vladniblast Tlakan. This special weave is made from the silk weave of a specific caterpillar that lives only in Etosil, and has a brilliant reflective property to it. Any such weave naturally sparkles almost as if it was made of true silver thread, meaning it can be used with a much higher quantity without becoming obscenely expensive. As such, despite being solid black, their clothing’s edges are often embroidered with this particular weave to produce an intense contrast between black and white. Often, the sleeves are also made of a solid piece of Vladniblast cloth, thus making the body black, but the arms light.
Men often wear a black fur hat called the Bhorkov. This hat is cylindrical shaped, and usually more narrow at the base than at the top. The size of the Bhorkov usually shows how important the wearer is, as again, this piece of clothing is produced from a very unique Etosian pelt belonging to the Highland Thessaliy, being a sort of deer with long hair. This hair has the unique property of being completely water resistant, thus making a Bhorkov very multifunctional during bad weather. While head wear is not mandatory among men, it certainly is among women. In fact, among the Vladno, a woman exposing her hair is considered an obscene temptress and a whore. What the Vladno women lack in hairstyle freedom, they certainly make up for in Shilyastis; headdresses set atop white scarves that cover all their hair, but are richly decorated with white crystals and diamonds. These headdresses are often the most expensive piece of a Vladno woman, and any Vladno may have three varieties: a more pious austere one for religious mass, a regular one for everyday use and an extra sparkling one with long ear pieces for official events.
Another curious custom is that men abandon the strict, black velvet in favor of a strong red velvet on the eve of battle. They also wear this color when in battle itself, and this is often explained as a means to stave off bad luck. Among the Vladno, it is believed that because the Etosian culture in particular sees black as a mourning color, that wearing black on the eve of, or during, a battle will ensure the death of the warrior. These colors must quickly be abandoned after battle however, for to linger in battle clothing will equally bring about bad luck in the belief that it incites others to violence against the wearer. It should be noted that some particularly daring Vladno stick their nose up to this principle, and specifically wear their red velvet battle garb to try and incite others to fight them.
Vladno architecture, much like their fashion, is dominated by dark colors. Their estates are often built from granite or volcanic rock which is plentiful in Etosil. Vladno housing is often considered menacing, dark, and foreboding. They do however cultivate large gardens for their houses, and as with their clothing, contrast is very important, often causing them to bring much needed color in through extensive flower beds.
Vladno cuisine is similar to Anglian cuisine in that it is often considered pauper food, even among the richer circles of the Vladno nobility. Their staple food is all grain-based, though with heavy supplements of sugar. The only real famous cuisine that the Vladno are used for are their Glastrov Cakes, a specific way of producing a very sweet and strong smelling cake with fine pattern decorations that melts when put in the mouth.
It should come to no surprise that it was the Vladno people, or more specifically their men, made weightlifting a personal sport and leisure. Before the Vladno capitalized on this practice, weight lifting was something done in classes or in training sessions among soldiers. The Vladno extracted this practice out of the military, and put it in the home. All major physical training equipment are designed by Vladno people like Vladimir Kostnaya and Ivan Dobrivats. The Vladno do however prefer to physically strengthen themselves in the comfort of a private home, though some have started public training houses. Here they act as personal trainers to anyone wishing to pay a fee. These have become extremely popular among the Imperial culture men of Regalia, due to that culture’s heavy focus on the physical ideal of a male, and how desperate many Imperials are at fulfilling that standard set by the Imperial court.
Aside from their focus on physical activities, the Vladno do not have much in terms of leisure. What little leisure they perform in are often related to hunting, or more specifically undead hunting in Etosil.
The Vladno people are a people of strength. As such, their most frequently used symbol is the Etosian Bear, though martial arms are also very frequent on their crests and embroidery. That being said, they never combine a Heron and any form of weapon on the same piece, as it is believed that this will spell ill luck for the remainder of one’s life. Pearls are also very valuable to the Vladno, used to decorate clothing for women, but also as buttons or used as means to add more depth to the various woven decorations of male clothing. Surprisingly, the Unionist Eye is always strictly absent from any Vladno symbolism. This often seems to contradict the fact that they are zealous, but the Vladno have always explained it in that they believe in the church principle that to flaunt one’s Unionism is false and pretentious. They believe that out of all the Unionist peoples, the Vladno are the most devout.
- It is generally assumed that the only reason why the Vladno people moved to Etosil was because many of them could self-identify with Vladimir Kade because he bore a traditional Mirnoye name, for unknown reasons.
- Children and infants that have perished by the hands of their kin are believed to arise as wretched beasts in Vladno folklore. Bearing sanguine-like traits, these cursed beings supposedly catch hapless travelers along less-traveled roads and treacherous landscapes during night.
- Though a strictly masculine culture, Vladno men will often engage with their male compatriots in jovial dance. This tradition is especially prominent among military men, who find it a worthy pastime to boost morale and establish a sense of brotherhood.