|Common Names||Boat children, Wayfarers, Mappers|
|Origins||The Emerald Isles|
|Dominant Race||Ailor, Altalar|
|Social Classes||Explorers, Sailors, Traders, Scholars, Mages, Lawyers, Scribes, Historians|
|Major Cities||Baile Gach Rud (capital of The Emerald Isles)|
From shores of emerald green in their homeland, to the distant deserts and frozen tundras, to the humid rainforests and the furthest shores, the Aontaithe have seen it all and traveled it all. Intrepid explorers and sea-farers, the world grows ever smaller with the connections made by these people, escaping the clutches of their mysterious island to spread their ideology and world beliefs across the world, while also making vast sums of wealth with their Sea-Castle ideology, and their far-stretching trade-network than even rivals the Regalian Empire, accessing markets that other Ailor can only hope to reach. Intensely private and distrusting of outsiders, the self-minded Aontaithe are still hospitable to visitors and kind as can be to anyone they meet who is willing to understand their complex beliefs and ideologies, and allow them to live in whatever way they please. Fiercely loyal and egalitarian, and believing rights are universal among even the lowest in society, the Aontaithe bring their unique sense of justice across the world, hoping to make all societies just a little bit more fair for those living within.
The Aontaithe are a people with deep complexity, and a background worthy of years of study, which has been carried out by many since their emergence from a strange, Magic-induced isolation. Heavy explorers of the ocean and seas of Aloria, the Aontaithe seek to make up for lost time while also spreading their ideals of equality, and a devotion to peace unrivaled by any other Culture in Aloria.
Also known as the Sea Castle ideology, this central tenet of Aontaithe Culture sees them viewing the sea as the ultimate challenge long-denied to them by the strange nature of their entrapment on The Emerald Isles. It is also seen, in some way, as their birthright given to them by the final Altalar from the Allorn era to die on the Isles, when he revealed his knowledge of how to build ships. Following this bequeathment, the Aontaithe have pushed out into the wider world, exploring the waters as much as possible and seeking to spread their own ideals as well as learning as much about the world as possible. They do this through the construction of Sea Castles, or Caisleán Farraige, fortresses which sit off major coastlines on virtually all continents, and are used as sites of supply for Aontaithe travelers as well as sites of trade. The Sea Castles and the ships which were developed to sail between them, have ultimately become parts of an incredible maritime network, assisted by seasoned explorers who have often delved in the great unknowns of ocean waters first, Regalia eagerly behind them.
Equality for All
Aontaithe laws are defined by the Aontaithe strict sense of legal egalitarianism. Within The Emerald Isles, the Aontaithe have a flat legal system where even a poor citizen can try the High King to court over perceived crimes, a fact that keeps the royalty in check on The Emerald Isles from abusing their position. In the Regalian Empire, Aontaithe law is a bit more subjective. While in theory, nobles are immune from being tried to court by commoners in the Empire, Aontaithe judges tend to ignore this, and Aontaithe nobles accept this, as it is part of their cultural beliefs and customs. In Aontaithe courts, in opposition to Regalian court protocol, innocence is always assumed on the part of the accused, while those plying the law have to prove that this innocence is false. In Regalia on the other hand, guilt is always assumed, and then both sides have to argue whether guilt should be upheld, or whether there is enough doubt to deny the trial. The two opposing ideologies often cause issues when it concerns legal struggles between the Aontaithe and non-Aontaithe, a matter of ongoing discomfort among them as they have only recently joined the Empire.
The Aontaithe are also a rare Culture given their extreme devotion and respect for not just the Altalar, but also the Fin’ullen and other branches of the vast tree the Altalar Race became, which is now summed up as the term Nelfin. Their position is unique because, while Ithanian society is positively Nelfin worshiping in some respects, the Aontaithe are a Culture from Ceardia, where the Allorn Empire left a heavy mark, and overall one would expect negative sentiments to fester among them. This is why Aontaithe equal extends to the Nelfin as well, and overall, to other Races with the same understanding of progressive common interest in improvement. However, in recent years, the Regalian Empire has truly seen the negative aspect to this respect for the Altalar, as when the Regalian Empire fumbled diplomatically, and released The Emerald Isles from their Navigation Acts, the recently reborn Allorn Empire swooped in, and totally occupied the region. There has been little indication of resistance to this effort, though Aontaithe in the Regalian Archipelago do not feel good about no longer being able to return home, and the matter of access to the Sea Castle network contested. Regardless, this aspect of respect and deference to the Nelfin groups of Aloria (in various degrees) is a core part of Aontaithe society.
Devotion to Peace
The Aontaithe’s devotion to peace is one that has been ridiculed following the bloodless, and effortless takeover of their homeland by the Allorn Empire, but they had and still have very good reasons for adhering to it. In the small scale, they learned firsthand of the brutality of constant warfare fought for decades over their homeland, where the scars of such conflicts only just began to heal. When they left their homeland, they found a world riven by warfare, but also learned of the collapse of the Allorn Empire, and how using violence can lead to jealousies, hatreds, and yearnings for power. Ultimately, that is why they gave up on the use of weapons, and their great sailing vessels carry no canons, instead allowing the use of Magic, and skills at seamanship to help them avoid or outrun those seeking to conflict against them.
The Aontaithe people speak the Aontaithe Language, which is sometimes also nicknamed “Aon”. The language has largely come about from Old Ceardian receiving syllable pronunciation from Allorn Altalar, thus creating a more melodious version of old Ailor languages. However, the Allorn and Altalar languages alike are both perfectly suitable secondary languages, and in fact even many Ailor Aontaithe speak Altalar.
The Aontaithe Culture both uses Altalar names, but also have naming principles of their own. For Altalar names, refer to the Altalar Race page. It is in fact very common for Aontaithe Altalar to have Aontaithe names, or for Ailor Aontaithe to have Altalar names, and for names to be mixed in families where some siblings have Altalar names and other Aontaithe Ailor names. This page will only contain standard Aontaithe names.
- Male: Sea, Oisin, Callum, Aiden, Finn, Shane, Seamus, Cormac, Cian, Liam, Darragh, Cillian, Fionn, Rian, Eoin, Clive, Tadgh.
- Female: Caoimhe, Saoirse, Niamh, Ciara, Roisin, Cara, Clodagh, Eabha, Aoibhinn, Aine, Sadhbh, Fiadh, Laoise.
- Unisex: Enda, Daire, Rowan, Dillon, Regan, Casey, Shea, Rylie, Caoilainn, Ailbe, Barra, Darcie, Eirinn, Faolan, Murtagh.
The Aontaithe religion is called Toil na Máthar, or Mother’s Will. Mother in this instance refers to the five islands, the Aontaithe believing that the islands are alive and have a soul. Additionally, the Aontaithe believe that continents are generally dead landmasses, but that all islands have souls and are living and breathing entities. They believe that these entities aren’t strictly alive in the soil, but rather the spirits that reside on and inside the land, all representing certain aspects of an island’s personality. The Aontaithe have a vast vocabulary for personality terms that apply only to islands, and much of Aontaithe poetry is also made around the anthropomorphization of islands. Each island has their own personality and strengths and weaknesses, but only The Emerald Isles are the true mother of all islands, because the Magic that the Aontaithe believe that is shared by all islands, they perceive as strongest on The Emerald Isles, due to the amount of unexplained magical events that appear like divine intervention that occur there.
Aghaidh Anam is the concept that each island has so-called soul faces, which are represented by specific spirits. Each island has exactly 16 spirits, 8 vices and 8 virtues, but the relation between them is wildly different between each island, and the strength of the island is also dictated by the strength of the spirits. For example, an island may have a boldness to it as perceived by the Aontaithe, a sense of pride, and perhaps even a greed as it swallows many novice sailors onto its rocky shores. This means that the island has more vices than virtues, making this island Dorcha, or Dark, versus an island that has more virtues, which would be Solas. Islands being dark or light is not necessarily a bad thing. Aontaithe don’t just avoid islands because they are Dark, it just changes how the Aontaithe apply their religion while on the island to either soothe the vices, or praise the virtues. It is important to acknowledge that there are no singular Aghaidh Anam, but that there isn't a copy of each of these spirits on every island either. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, where the spirits can create projections of themselves in far away islands, but that there is a rough shared consciousness between all of them even if they might be doing different things at different times. Each spirit has different levels of strength on each island, and all the strength of the spirits combined dictates how much spiritual energy there is on an island, which can be enhanced by the amount of people who have died on an island also, or decreased by depriving the island of dying souls.
Aghaidh Anam Dorcha
- llén Trechend (Pride), is a spirit of willful destruction and self-cannibalism. The llén Trechend is depicted as a hydra with three necks and three heads, and three tails. When depicted in symbolic form, it is usually curled into a circle, with each head eating one of the three tails. The llén Trechend supposedly lives in caves, hoarding expensive items and particularly mirrors. Occasionally when an llén Trechend feels insecure, it will leave its cave and rampage the countryside, burning everything, before eating itself and being reborn in the cave. To stave off the llén Trechend, Aontaithe always insist to cover up any mirrors in their homes, or any mirrors they come across with some sort of cloth. It is believed that a mirror that is not actively being looked at, is being looked through by the llén Trechend, and if the llén Trechend believes that the person it is watching is more beautiful or skilled, it will come and rampage around that person’s house.
- Bánánach (Fury), is a spirit that haunts battlefields and places that have seen much violence. The Bánánach does very little besides just appearing terrifying, and is in many ways perhaps even sad or melancholic to behold. It appears like a skeleton made out of shadows, with bright glowing blue eyes. It simply stands in an area where violence was incurred, mostly at night and often during passing mist. The size of the Bánánach is dictated by the amount of violence. Bánánach in the basement where a murder was committed can be very small, but a Bánánach standing in the middle of a battlefield can be as large as a mountain. Looking at a Bánánach causes the viewer to simply feel sad for the loss of life. Aontaithe usually avert their eyes from a post-battlefield scene, or avoid going anywhere near battlefields so as not to draw the attention of the Bánánach.
- The Pooka (Betrayal) The Pooka is the least malicious of the vice spirits despite its betrayal theme. The Pooka is a shapeshifting goblin that takes on animalistic traits, but it always has a dark hide when it appears. It can speak like humans, and will say things that make no sense, or cause logical confusions in those who can hear them. It always chases after people, saying things in an attempt to confuse them, or to terrify them. After encountering the Pooka, it is said that people feel uneasy and like they are being watched for up to a week. To keep the Pooka away, the Aontaithe wear Silver necklaces, as the Pooka is believed to be afraid of Silver.
- Abhartach (Greed), is a spirit which has an ever-lasting hunger for the flesh of the living. It is best described as a short (dwarf-sized) naked and bald creature with dark eye-sockets and small bead-like eyes, and a mouth filled with long thin razor sharp teeth. Abhartach is often also compared to a Vampire, because it feeds on blood, and is believed to be the most evil of all the spirits. Abhartach is said to be killable, but each time it is killed, its evil will return twice the next day, increasing by twice the amount for each time it is killed. To soothe Abhartach, and prevent him from terrorizing the living, families offer up a small bowl of drawn blood which they splash on the floor in front of their front door, to offer it to the spirit of Greed of the land. This is particularly done when the locals find livestock killed the previous day.
- Balor (Murder), is a spirit which has the desire to kill, but can only do so if it knows the name of the person it tries to kill, and makes eye-contact. Balor is a demon through and through, but is generally considered less evil than Abhartach, because it cannot kill without learning a name. Balor is described as a being clad entirely in black, with its entire face being a single lidless golden cat-eye. It will try to trick travelers into revealing their name, after which eye contact is made, and its unlucky victims die on the spot by turning to stone. In order to appease Balor, Aontaithe keep cats around their homes, numerous of them, and let them roam and hunt freely, believing that Balor is satisfied by the murder of rodents committed by cats.
- Dearg Due (Envy), is a spirit of perpetual envy towards those in power, and those in love. It is said that the Dearg Due appears in the grain fields of The Emerald Isles when the sun is at its highest position, seeking out a lover that she was denied. The Dearg Due is often depicted as a beautiful fair maiden in crimson red dress, floating gently across the fields in an energetic dance or an enticing motion. She will lure enchanted men closer for a kiss, and if they commit, she consumes them whole. It is also believed that the Dearg Due punishes those with a wandering eye, promising not to affect those who are faithful. The Dearg Due is not specifically encouraged to stay away, as much as the Aontaithe avoid going out into nature alone at mid-day, and take a break from work if they work outside during that hour to avoid contact with her.
- The Dullahan (Sloth), is a spirit of regret and in-action as well as procrastination. The Dullahan is often depicted as a headless rider on an emaciated horse that slowly walks the countryside. The Dullahan does not explicitly kill anyone or harm them directly, but it is believed that if one crosses the path of the Dullahan, that being near it or looking at it, will cause one to forget memories, and wander the countryside with it, looking for its head. It is believed that while doing this, the person will forget everything else in life, including to sleep and eat, and will eventually just drop dead by circumstances. To please the Dullahan, the Aontaithe carve faces into pumpkins and put them outside of their homes with candles inside or near them, as if to offer the Dullahan a new head and stay away from their areas.
- The Oilliphéist (Malice), is a spirit of pure trickery and malicious intent to the living. It is often depicted as a large Dragon-like beast with black tar-like skin and wings made of rotten leather-like membrane. The Oilliphéist is believed to not be expressly evil, but cause prolonged misery in the living by moving or rearranging furniture inside houses, writing in people’s diaries for them, or removing their clothes when they are about to take a swim. It terrorizes the living by piling more and more annoyances to the point that it drives the living insane. The Oilliphéist is often offered some sort of living sacrifice once a month, usually a goat or a sheep, but a cat can also do in case Balor is no longer feared.
Aghaidh Anam Gheal
- Donn Cúailnge (Justice), is the giant bull spirit of revenge and justice, the nearest concept of Karma in the Aontaithe faith. The Aontaithe believe that those who do ill things or things with bad intentions have their crimes recorded on the horns of the Donn Cúailnge. When these crimes have become too much, the Donn Cúailnge is believed to come charging from the forest at the intended to-be punished, and does not stop charging no matter what the target does or where they go. The Donn Cúailnge will break through any obstacle and through any Magic, intent on punishing those who cause others to suffer and commit crimes. Bulls have a specifically prolific role in Aontaithe society, with Bulls never being culled, but allowed to live into advanced age and die of natural causes, while their heads and horns are usually decorated with flowers and colorful ribbons, and given sweets and good food.
- Abcán (Valor), is the dwarf spirit of soothing and bravery. Abcán is often depicted as a dwarf (not the Race but Ailor of very short stature) astride a horse with a lion’s head, playing a lute or some sort of strings instrument, creating the most beautiful music that soothes the hearts and minds of the weary and afraid. Abcán is often depicted as the enemy of the vice spirits, seeking conflict with them, as it is also armed with a banishment mace that it will use to hammer the vice spirits away from the living. Abcán is a living embodiment of the Aontaithe’s love for energetic and fast-paced music, with his name being a praise to anyone who produces good music or singing.
- The Muckie (Freedom), sometimes also called Muckie, is a spirit of death and the afterlife. The Muckie grants freedom to those suffering of old age, wounds sustained in battle, or drowning, by eating them. It is depicted as a large sea-serpent with the head of a not-quite intelligent looking fish. The Muckie is believed to roll onto the land and eat those who are about to pass, consuming their bodies and leaving a body double behind for the grievers. While digested by the fish, the person’s soul is believed to be released into the spiritual energy of the land where they died, thus joining the spiritual energy of the place and becoming one with the land. It is very important for the Aontaithe as such to die on an island, as they believe dying on a continent or ocean will deny them the afterlife, and in fact turn them into Balor. The Muckie isn’t reviled, as it does not kill those whose time has not come. Rather, it knows exactly when the spirits have fated for someone to die of natural causes, and simply helps along the process of their soul passing on, as the gatekeeper of the afterlife.
- Aibell (Forgiveness), sometimes also called the Fairy Queen of Dál gCais, is a spirit who evokes forgiveness and compassion in enemies or rivals. It is believed that Aibell lost her husband, the Fairy King Adil to the rough seas, causing her to make solemn music wishing for his return on the coastline during each sunrise. Those who hear the music are enchanted by her wish for forgiveness for the things she never confessed to her husband. It is believed that those enchanted forgive their rivals, and seek forgiveness from those they have wronged with guilt and regret. Aibell is a term that the Aontaithe sometimes use to define a person (of either gender) who moves them to tears, or makes them feel true emotion, like a lover being called “My Aibell”.
- Aos Sí (Protection), is a spirit that is all about protecting the living despite its horrible and grotesque appearance. The Aos Sí appears like a man made out of mud, with rusted metal and rotten wood filled with maggots sticking out of it, and a vague face made out of holes on its head, covered in undulating layers of dirty sand. The Aos Sí is believed to rise out of the ground to protect those in their greatest hour of need, and is usually called upon by the Aontaithe in name when they are in trouble with the phrase “Aos Sí, save me now”.
- Fear Gorta (Charity), is a spirit of giving to others. The Fear Gorta always appears like a normal person who is extremely emaciated, like an old veteran or a begging mother. The Fear Gorta is believed to be sitting by the side of the street, asking for alms. When receiving alms, the Fear Gorta is believed to predict the future and bring good tidings to those who are charitable. The Fear Gorta as such causes the Aontaithe to generally be very charitable to the poor and hungry.
- The Far Darrig (Compassion), is a spirit that provides compassion to those bereft of pestilence and suffering from plagues. The Far Darrig is often depicted as a thin person in a long covering the neck and top of the head, while they also wear a hat, and their face is obscured by a bird-like mask with a long beak. The Far Darrig are often believed to be followed by a strong smell of flowers and spices, and may visit the homes of those affected by disease without care from others, to heal or tend to their wounds. The Far Darrig isn’t always explicitly good however. The Aontaithe believe that The Far Darrig will rather turn the living into Undead monsters, as it believes being Undead is preferable to being dead, a state that some of the Aontaithe believe is worse than being dead. The Far Darrig is as such praised, but also turned away, by simply trying to stay away from sick things and disease, and maintaining a healthy hygiene.
- The Cailleach (Knowledge), is a hag spirit who is believed to have created the earth that the living stand on, and perpetuates the cycle of life, while also guardian all knowledge in the The Cailleach is the only deity on Aloria that invokes a sense of rural durability. While she is not against the idea of agriculture or artificial gardening like most other nature related gods are, she does stand for sustainable agriculture and crop rotation, being the enemy of mono-culture and exhausting the soil and burning the forests for expansion. The Cailleach is believed to hold knowledge that she will share to those who are willing to learn how to live with the land in harmony. She appears to them at midnight in her grotesque and saggy form, but with a beautiful silken blue dress that gently dances in the wind, offering them words of wisdom. The Cailleach is praised usually by moonlight dances, where couples or families go out into the garden and have a feast under the moonlight, while vowing to protect the earth and nature around their home and live in harmony with it, not at the expense of it.
Families and Romance
Aontaithe families are fairly average, there is nothing exceptionally specific about their family situation that sets them apart from other cultures, besides the fact that the Aontaithe uphold monogamy as an absolute demand in their culture, both from a religious but also a societal expectation. Adultery is one of the worst imaginable crimes on The Emerald Isles, murder being the only crime worse than betraying one’s lover or bonded partner. Bigamy and Polygamy does not exist among the Aontaithe. What does tend to happen however is that multiple Aontaithe families live under the same roof of a much larger house, and divide household activities among them. While children distinctly belong to their parents, it is often very common for parents of other children to help raise and school children of other cohabiting families. This has always caused Aontaithe youths to have a lot of close friends in their communal homes.
Aontaithe are neither progressive nor overtly old-fashioned with their gender norms. The best way to describe their view of gender and sexuality is a naive apathy, or unwillingness to get involved in the lives of others to that degree. Same-Sex relations are tolerated by the Aontaithe, but their language lacks a specific gender-based term for spouse, so what the sex of a spouse is, is frequently omitted in conversation. When it comes to gender-identity, the Aontaithe apply a similar indifference. The term “boy” or “girl” isn’t traditionally used in the Aontaithe language, instead using terms like “youth” or “youngling”, general unisex terms. What the Aontaithe do have, is a rough gendered expectation. Within Aontaithe society, men are expected to be bold and poised with ambition to discover new things, while women are expected to be caring and nurturing (not necessarily child rearing, just generally kind). As a result, the Aontaithe language doesn’t specifically refer to women when calling someone a woman, but rather calling them kind, while a man isn’t called a woman, but adventurous. To them, the identity of woman is equal to kindness, and the identity of a man is equal to adventure, which causes some comical mistranslations. An Aontaithe might call a person of the male gender a woman when they are being kind, or dismiss a woman who is being bold in her goals as a man, in the common language because their gender expectations are more tied to personality behavior than actual birth sex.
The Aontaithe are a self-conflicting mess of political leanings that never truly put them squarely in the camp of any one particular political ideology. When it comes to individual rights, the Aontaithe believe in a fair and just government held by rules and equal opportunity to all, but still enforce absolute monarchy. When it comes to economic rights, the Aontaithe believe in the concept of private enterprise and ownership, but also share resources within households in a communal almost Minoor-like style. When it comes to Mage-rights and the Occult, the Aontaithe are very accepting owing to their integration with the Altalar, and they are also very pro-Altalar, but dislike nearly every other Race and most Ailor cultures as outsiders, finding only common ground with those who are willing to let the Aontaithe culture exist in their own hemisphere. The Aontaithe as such are frustrating in that they walk the line of appearing centrist, but have very radical left and right leanings, depending entirely on the subject at hand. They make excellent temporary friends, but terrible long term allies as a result.
In The Emerald Isles homeland, each island is ruled by a Petty King, and all islands are ruled by the High King, who is not a Petty King also, and of a specific dynasty. The Kings have very little actual control however, as most of Aontaithe society runs through the system of legal clerics that record data and administer taxes, and their re-distribution for the benefit of the people. The Kings receive their share, but are generally considered poorer than the Dukes in Regalia, even if they might rule more land and more subjects. The High King however does wield a considerable amount of respect, mostly because the High King is the sole person responsible for foreign relations, and the Aontaithe on The Emerald Isles are not allowed to make deals with foreigners without his presence and agreement, which is recorded in the Aontaithe ground-law, the central ruling document establishing the cornerstone laws of their realm.
The Emerald Isles are not part of the Regalian Empire, but were previously signatory of a couple of laws pertaining to Navigation in the Empire’s waters. Since more recent events, The Emerald Isles have fallen under the sway of the resurgent Allorn Empire, with the High King effectively being taken on (claimed) voluntary protection in the Allorn Empire, hundreds of miles away from the lands he rules, leaving The Emerald Isles mostly at the mercy of the Allorn Empire. That being said, most of the locals actually experience this as preferable to Regalian contacts, as the Allorn seemingly treat them more fairly than the Regalians did, who used a couple of legal loopholes to establish illegal mining operations on The Emerald Isles, guarded by Regalian soldiers.
World View represents a more loose collection of ideals, customs and traditions that were not specific enough to deserve their own section, but are still thematically relevant. These are useful to help frame certain interactions between the Aontaithe people and others.
- The Aontaithe don’t commit much to literature. They don’t not write, they simply don’t have much for the written word, as much of their knowledge transference occurs through word of mouth, or more specifically the Altalar sages in their communities. Particularly when it comes to either extremely knowledgeable Altalar, or very old Altalar, the Aontaithe have a sense of respect and venerability and may seek them out as mentors and teachers. What little Aontaithe literature does exist are folk tales, children’s tales, and poetry, mostly related to the spirits as well as other mythological creatures. Aontaithe mythology has an over-active list of creatures, with any local village or township having their own unique handful of them. To record all Aontaithe mythological creatures would be impossible, as there are most likely thousands upon thousands, some with very little variance, others with extreme differences.
- The Aontaithe still keep an ancient tradition alive that the vast majority of other Ailor peoples have largely abandoned, which is cave-paintings. The Aontaithe record historical events, mythological encounters, and the stories of their spirits on cave walls with pigments. It is very common for them to do this in any random cave, and never tell anyone about it, because the paintings are never meant for the eyes of the living, but rather for the enjoyment of the spirits. That being said, this art has more recently been translating to canvas and reaching beyond in a cave-painting style renaissance, with the Imperial court and scholars showing renewed interest in these depictions being made on canvas for a sense of closer connection to the Ailor home continent that was lost so long ago. The Aontaithe can certainly also enjoy other forms of art, but the more simplistic renditions made by dim candle light from their cave art (often painted by finger-painting) are their greatest pride.
- Aontaithe music is a massive part of their Culture. Their music has been described by outsiders as up-beat, infectious and inviting to dance to, with a great energetic rhythm, and bold instruments that struggle with each other for the spotlight. Music is made with the Clairseach, a harp with many strings, the Timpan which is a small string instrument played with a bow, the Buinne flute and the Guthbuinne, which is a type of horn. Aontaithe music is commonly heard on festivals and not terribly suitable for private social gatherings or more laid-back events, they absolutely have to be danced to, and an Aontaithe band or individual making music that gets no one to dance will absolutely be offended at the lack of enthusiasm for their art. Aontaithe have also developed an art called River-Dance with shoes with hardened heels and tips, causing a distinct tapping as the dancers jump up and down with rapid feet tapping motions in their turns and twists. Aontaithe music is sometimes also referred to as Fiddling, as the string instruments move rapidly, and are the most audible and visible instruments during any performance.
- The Aontaithe aren’t terribly up to date on the concept of fashion, and clothing in general isn’t very interesting to them. This does not mean that they don’t like looking good with their clothes, it simply means that they don’t care for fashionable style over the other, and largely adopt fashion from other Cultures depending on who recommends what to them. That being said, every Aontaithe always has a Silver necklace if they believe in the spirits to ward off evil, and every Aontaithe will avoid black fur like the plague, believing that this evokes the Pooka, or makes others believe they are the Pooka. Otherwise, colors and other designs are all fair game, though they do generally avoid anything overly militaristic. Chainmail or laminar can look good to them, but they never expressly want to be seen like warriors, as this goes against their low-militaristic attitude.
- Aontaithe architecture can best be described as Altalar-Old-Ceardian fusion. It combines the architectural structures of Altalar buildings with tall spires and roofs and support beams, but built entirely out of Ailor construction brick styles, and with far more color variance. Marble in particular is generally avoided, while buildings are allowed to become overgrown with moss or vines, believing that these plants allow a building to meld into the environment or become one with the land around it. Abandoned Aontaithe villages are usually just piles of stone badly damaged and overgrown by greenery, causing these villages to appear much older than they actually are. Very few genuine Aontaithe architecture exists outside of The Emerald Isles, with their foreign housing and even the Sea Castles mostly being built by general Regalian styles, using Regalian labor for their construction.
- Aontaithe cuisine has two distinct styles: the coastal style which is dominated by fish and sea-weed dishes, and the in-land style which is dominated by stews, soups and pies. The Aontaithe eat very little meat, they aren’t expressly vegetarian or pescetarian, they simply enjoy the fruits of labor from the earth more than to slay an animal for their meat, and as such, the majority of the days in the week, an Aontaithe will eat mostly vegetarian dishes by circumstance. Stews of herbs, carrots, onions and celery are common, while potato pancakes with butter and cinnamon are also very popular. The idea of an Aontaithe pie is common also, where the Aontaithe gather up scraps and leftovers of previous days and bake them all together into a big pie with flakey dough, which is then served warm with some cream.
- Aontaithe are principally a low-militarism Culture, desiring mostly to avoid combat and violence unless they absolutely have to defend themselves in a violent world, but that does not mean they never fight in sports. When it concerns sports, the Aontaithe believe that sports are an excellent vehicle for getting rid of unwanted aggression or pent up frustration, and as such, while the Aontaithe are principally anti-violence, violence is shared with great enthusiasm in sport. The Aontaithe commit to any violence and physical sport conceivable, from fencing to swordfighting to boxing to wrestling and even jousting. Women and men partake in equal measure, and with each other, sometimes to the chagrin of other cultures who separate the sexes during sports activities.
- The Aontaithe engage in leisure activities mostly related to the countryside and nature. This involves horse-riding, sailing, mountain climbing, walks in the park, fishing by the lake, or generally just sunbathing (in climates where this is possible). It is not unusual to see a couple of Aontaithe sailors sunbathing on the deck of a ship while it is passing by, as they love the heat of the sun, of which they get very little on The Emerald Isles due to the constant storms. Inside the house, the Aontaithe engage in the act of “rud ar bith i bhfad” which roughly translates to nothing much of anything. This involves simply reclining on a bed or sofa, staring at the ceiling and hoping someone comes up with something to do, or cyclically asking each other “well, what do you want to do” until someone breaks and proposes something to do.
- Aontaithe don’t have a specific holiday calendar, but apply the logic of Féile Pobail (Community feast). This generally means that small groups of people are grouped together, for example 15 or 24 people. Then, this number is divided by 12, meaning 1.25 and 2 respectively. This means that on average, out of these two selections, 2 people are responsible for creating a holiday each month, and everyone has their turn for creating a holiday on a specific month. Holidays can really be about anything, because the Aontaithe just use them as an excuse to get terribly drunk and revel. They are often done to celebrate the weather, good fortune in business and seafaring, a new child’s birth, a birthday, having bought a new pair of shoes, or even the death of a pet. This means that generally speaking, each smaller community of Aontaithe has a different Holiday calendar. Many smaller Aontaithe communities living close together do not synchronize their holidays, but might partake in each other’s holidays, giving them more days and more reasons to get intoxicated. There is however one exception, being the Night of the Spirits or Oíche na Biotáille. This occurs every 30th of October, where all Aontaithe people stay indoors from sunrise to sunset. This is because the Aontaithe believe that night is generally the time of the spirits, but an exception is made for the 30th of October where the Spirits get to have the day too. The night is still kept for sleeping, but during the day, the Aontaithe bake sweet pastries and vegetarian dishes for each other, before getting very drunk into the early hours of the 31st.
The story of the Aontaithe (which roughly means "the United" in the Aontaithe Language) begins around 200 BC on the continent of Ceardia where the infamous Ivory Wing slaving fleet departed from these frequently visited shores on their way to the northern reaches of the Allorn Empire, delivering a new shipment of tens of thousands of slaves to the far flung and largely autonomous northern provinces. These regions did not warrant a constant stream of fresh slaves like was normal in the rest of the Empire, but fared well with single large-deposits of large numbers of them, cutting costs on shipping logistics. The fleet sailed their usual route, following the Essalonian coastline up to where the modern state of Torse is, from which they would sail across the greatest of the seas to the other side, using various small islands along the way as navigation points.
The fleet sailed past The Emerald Isles as they were known by the Altalar, not only because they were always green with fresh grass, but also because there was an abundance of Emeralds on the isles. On top of this, the islands were terrorized by mysterious storms and weather patterns that only allowed small amounts to ever escape from the islands after decades of trying. The Emerald Isles were also known as the Emerald Envy by the Altalar, as they knew what riches lay on them, but considered the risk of being trapped there for a hundred years not worth the risk, and no amount of magical attempts to break the weather ever succeeded. Still, the islands proved useful for navigation, as they had sharp pointy crags and rocks that stuck out of the islands on all sides and were taller than some of the highest Altalar spires, while most of the southern coast of the islands were also blanketed with the “Giant’s Forest”, a landscape filled with perfectly straight and hexagonal rock formations jutting hundreds of feet into the air from the ground level.
The Altalar had sailed past these isles for hundreds of years, using them as an important navigational middle-point on the journey across the ocean, but the Altalar quickly realized that something was wrong. For hundreds of years, the weather patterns were fairly predictable and the Altalar knew how far away to stay from the coastlines to avoid being caught in it. This time however, the weather turned faster than the wind Mages could respond, the very clouds themselves appearing to push harder into the clouds than they could muster their magics to push back. The waves battered the hulls of the ships, with the captains agreeing that setting foot on land was the more viable option than having the ships ripped apart. As if guided by a divine hand, the fleet made way for the coastline, and made an orderly landing, unloading supplies and slaves, and attempting to make temporary lodgings to survive the worst of the weather.
The weather nearly instantly subsided, but kept a violent ring around the islands that could not be broken. In the weeks that followed, ship after ship tried to breach the storm border, only to be smashed onto the rocks and perish. Successive Altalar attempts to break through left their numbers dwindling to the point that the Altalar guards felt they could no longer secure the slaves. The fear of having long term habitation on the islands set in, and pragmatism took over Altalar ego. They realized that they could not control the Ailor slaves all at once, but the Ailor slaves also realized thousands of them would die if they fought the Altalar, who would use scorched earth tactics to burn all the supplies to ensure mutual destruction. With the idea of mutual death being a certainty, both sides agreed to appoint representatives that would meet in The Great Discussion, a term that was later translated into An Plé iontach when the Aontaithe Language was formalized. This event marked a 3-day discussion between the representatives of both sides to set up some form of liveable condition on the islands (travel between the smaller fragmented archipelago was possible, even if leaving was not). The Altalar kept some sense of aristocracy and had Ailor work for them, but also helped with tasks using their Magic, and made the lives of their no-longer-slaves somewhat easier. The matter of their slave identity was pushed back into a hypothetical time when they would be saved or when they could leave, but to the benefit of the Ailor slaves, this time would never come.
Occasionally, the Altalar would sight Allorn ships on the horizon smashing against the rocks, nothing ever coming in or leaving the islands. Attempts were made to leave by both Ailor and Altalar, but they always ended in tragedy, and eventually the ships rotted away on the coastline as decades of un-use left the wood weathered and weak. Permanence in their settlement eventually started settling in, and so the conclusions of the An Plé iontach were more formally adopted as a civil structure. The Altalar accepted that perpetual aristocracy among a lower class of Ailor would result in riots and overthrow, as the Ailor would eventually reproduce and outnumber them, creating the first historical case of the Altalar willingly handing over control to the Ailor, an even that would be reproduced by the Altalar some 130 years later after the Cataclysm in Ithania.
The proper integration of both groups did not always go smoothly, the matter of slavery was still largely not resolved, and violence occured in the early years. With successive generations however, and the Altalar growing older and more fond of their role as sages and teachers on The Emerald Isles, public opinion shifted. Altalar and Ailor started mingling among each other creating a large section of Half-Ailor/Half-Altalar halflings that became a considerable portion of the population. The Altalar truly captured their niche of the educated and mentors of their society (those that survived in their older age), and the Ailor started diverging from their Old Ceardian ancestry by combining Altalar customs or adapting them to form their own distinct Culture. It is around the year 100 BC that the Aontaithe Culture came into existence. Some of the Altalar still held onto their old Allorn customs, but many of them adopted with the Ailor just to fit in, and a harmonious state was quickly established.
Between 100 BC and Cataclysm, The Emerald Isles which were then renamed to The Green Isles, or Na hOileáin Ghlasa in Aontaithe Language, suffered a series of internal strife. Ailor populations grew, and many of the newer and rebellious younger generations did not agree with the social divisions created among the ailor, particularly the system comparable to serfdom that was enforced from the leftover memories of Old Ceardia. The Emerald Isles split into five constituent Kingdoms: Innis in the north with its imposing mountains, Tralee in the east with its sharp cliffs and expert fish-divers, Cloncorban in the south and home of the Giant’s Forest and towns built into the stone pillars, Taghmon in the east where the Altalar held their academies, and Baile which sat uncomfortably in the middle of them all. Baile was the largest of the five islands and had the largest population, but also did not participate in the infighting, yet always ended up being the actual landmass where most battles took place.
The wars between the Aontaithe islands were crude, largely because they had not developed metal casting yet, and were using crude whale bone and wooden weapons, despite their fairly advanced fabrics industry. The Aontaithe had mostly abandoned militarism since their arrival, but this sudden burst of conflict caused the rapid need for simple weapons to be made. The infighting continued for decades without a clear winner, damaging all islands save for Taghmon, as the Altalar acted like a soothing effect on the region, while also threatening magical reprisals if the academies became the scene of conflict. The conflicts died down nearly exactly when Cataclysm occurred elsewhere in the world. The Aontaithe watched as, based on their historical telling, a wave of water approached their islands that was twice as tall as the Giant’s Forest (which would mean gargantuan proportions) raced to their shores as seen with strong spy glasses that were developed over the years to look out for rescue ships in ages past, threatening to swallow everything. Panic erupted on all islands in equal measure, and many flocked to the coastlines to accept their doom, only to witness an event that has yet to be explained to this day, but created the foundation of the Aontaithe faith.
The massive wave did not crash onto their shores, rather, the water raced to the rocks in the ocean, and then curved around and over the islands as if they were caught in a large air bubble that would not permit the water to pass. Some of the Altalar that live to this day state that they could see all matter of sea material, creatures, even whole whales wash over them in the wave of water that eventually blocked out the sun and cast the islands into a cold blue haze. When the water reached the other side, it simply flowed back from where it came, and the wave continued on, as if it had never even touched The Emerald Isles, rushing on to different shores. The events left both the Altalar and the Ailor baffled, who in their conclaves and discussions, started seeing this event as divine intervention of the island. The island's own powers started being discussed openly in favor of the Altalar or old Pagan gods, gods that had never heeded their calls to be rescued, but the Islands had provided for them and kept them safe, even if it had forced them onto the islands to begin with. The preceding 100 years of conflict among the Aontaithe were quickly called The Great Mistake, or An botún mór in Aontaithe Language, reflecting that the great flood or wall of water was meant to be a warning for their sin of conflict and warfare, but that the islands had deemed mercy to protect the people living on them. The Aontaithe were also firmly of the Old Gods by this time, the winner of whatever battles had existed between the various pagan faiths practiced by the long-vanished slave population. While superstition and local beliefs remained a key part of Aontaithe life, the Old Gods remained intact in their society for many more years.
The following 70 years caused a cultural and educational flourishing on the Aontaithe islands, devoid of any conflict the population numbers soared, and the longevity of the Altalar and Half-Nelfin meant that the population’s knowledge could be perfected and passed down to successive generations by ever more skillful teachers. Around 120 AC, the weather around the islands seemed to subside, or rather, the weather seemed to respect the wishes of some of the Aontaithe people to pierce beyond the storms. The story of Myrna the Fisher is one that all Aontaithe know. Myrna was a citizen of Tralee (the islands still retained some level of independence from one another) in her teenage years and spent many days fishing with her father and mother. Eventually one day, upon the death of her grandmother, she was consumed with such grief that she launched a fishing ship onto the sea and sailed in the direction of the storm barrier which the Aontaithe had gotten to calling Land’s end, or Deireadh talún, sometimes also just called the Deir in nickname-like common speech.
She later claimed that in her tears she demanded that the Deir would either let her pass or swallow her in her misery, to which the barrier of the storms seemed to subside, and let a single fishing boat pass, leading her into the great seas beyond. It was after passing this barrier that she realized what happened, and wished to return, only for the wings to turn on her, and blow her small fishing ship straight back to the coast, everything having been watched from the beach by her family with the Aontaithe spy glasses that had no competition in the world. From this point on, the Aontaithe became more bold with their expeditions past the barrier. The last of the original Allorn-born Altalar, dying of old age, passed on their knowledge of shipbuilding, allowing for the creation of the first Aontaithe ocean faring vessels, and before long, the first Aontaithe ventured into the world they had only scarcely heard of. What they found was frightening to many, most of all to the Emerald Isle-born Altalar, who were shocked at the demise of the Allorn Empire and the upending of world order. The first discoveries made by the Aontaithe reinforced their core principles of disavowing violence, and expressing the desire for cooperation between Nelfin and Ailor. The news brought back home caused a lot of introspection on the islands, where the rough policy of having as little contact with foreigners as possible on the islands, but still finding the need to explore the high seas.
Over the years following to the modern era, the Aontaithe did not weigh down their ships with cannons, but perfected using every square inch of hull space for supplies, created the most sophisticated logistically complicated sea-supply network in the world, and unburdened their ship-designs of any weapons or defenses, prioritizing speed and maneuverability. What resulted was the creation of the Faoileán class vessel, nicknamed the Seagull by the Aontaithe for its unmatched speed, both by rigging and its use of wind magic, but also being perfect for exploring with a large carry load yet no defensive capabilities. The Aontaithe explored the high seas, mapping out the damage of the Cataclysm to all the continents and creating complex navigational charts, comparing them to the old ones of before the Cataclysm.
The Aontaithe developed the principle of Píosa Baile which would cause them to visit foreign shores, and buy a very small piece of land with large amounts of emeralds mined from The Emerald Isles. This land in turn would be used to establish the so-called Sea Castles, or Caisleán Farraige, sometimes also nicknamed Caisfar. These structures can best be described as miniature Dexai’s in nature, trading posts built on foreign territory across vast oceans, used to re-supply Aontaithe seafaring vessels, with sovereign territory respected by the local rulers as belonging to the Aontaithe people. The Aontaithe people meanwhile at home chose to elect a single High-King from among their ranks, establishing that the duty of unified representation and rule would fall onto the Half-Ailor Half-Nelfin lineage of the Obes-Ronna family, who continue to act as High-Kings to this day.
With their Caisfars established across nearly every nation’s coastline, the Aontaithe pushed further and further, exploring the seas to Farahdeen, mapping out the Northern Expanse, and even acting as navigators to the Regalian Empire’s expedition to the Southern Continents. Before long, the Aontaithe became known both for their reluctance to interact much with outsiders, but also their unrivaled skill in navigation and more specifically exploration of the unexplored. Tales of famous explorers like Laura Bloc Dearg and the explorer commonly known as Bébhar Dubh became known far and wide, and the Regalian Empire started mass-buying navigation maps from the Aontaithe to found their entire Navy’s trade routes and military patrols on. In the modern era, smaller populations of Aontaithe have colonized a large island in the Regalian Archipelago in agreement with the Regalian Empire. Sinnedh, as it is known now, is also unfortunately the only Aontaithe area now outside of the control of the Allorn Empire, who swept in and took over The Emerald Isles in 309 AC after mistakes by portions of the noble-staffed Regalian State Government. As a result, the Aontaithe population is split for the first time in decades, and some wonder if this division may lead to two diverse Aontaithe subsets as time goes on.
Symbols for the Aontaithe Culture are as followed:
- The color green is frequently used as a symbol for The Emerald Isles and the people overall.
- The depiction of any Aontaithe instrument can be used to define their Culture.
- The depiction of the coastline outline of The Emerald Isles, the number 5, or island shapes.
- Emeralds set into jewelry, and Silver necklaces are also a trademark of the Aontaithe.
- The Aontaithe Culture is the Culture with the largest number of Mages in it of any Ailor Culture. This is largely because of the intermixing of Mage lineages in their early years, and how many of their families have mixed Altalar ancestry.
- The Aontaithe Culture is the only Ailor Culture with innate magical abilities, even if they are never as strong as the Altalar, there are many similarities and parallels to be made.
- The Aontaithe have a special appreciation for primal elements, wind, earth, fire and water. This is why they get on pretty well with Old Gods worshipers, though their religions are still vastly different, and the Old Gods are not welcome on The Emerald Isles.