|Common Names||Heron-lovers, Ex-Exiles, Church Breakers|
|Social Classes||Herders, fishermen, priests, singers, and artists.|
|Major Cities||Thessalo, Talon, Iraklis, Vorfandu, Mlyat, Optikios, Hessalios, Gyrakios|
The Etosian people are a proud and deep culture, formed from the rejects of a dozen nations and one determined exiled sect of Unionism. They are known as some of the most jealous Unionists in Aloria, while also being some of the most conservative as they strictly follow the Creeds. They share a landmass with the Vladno, who make up much of their nobility, and the groups get along well though there is friction concerning the masculine ideology of the Vladno. In recent years despite their isolationist leanings, the Etosians have been pushed into a greater role in world issues and conflicts, aiding Regalia during the Bone Horror Crisis and Lo Occupation. Only time will tell if they will pursue a larger role or return to their more isolationist ways.
The Etosians are a people with an unconventional and negative origin when compared to other Ailor cultures who have since risen above it. Originally, the island of Etosil was nothing more than a desolate island that held one or two minor Elven ports. They had explored the region thoroughly even by the time of the height of the Elven Empire and had little interest in Etosil. Because of this, the region’s first population were escaped Ailor slaves from the Elven Empire as it was close to Killarallis, the processing center for most slaves, and the old Daendroc Elven provinces. When the Cataclysm came and went, the Ailor people were relatively unaffected as their landmass did little more than fracture at its edges. The Elves, on the other hand, wholly abandoned the landmass. For the next century, however, Etosil became a dumping ground as first Killarallis, then Arvost, and finally the many Daendroc coastal states sent some of their worst to Etosil to survive. The island became a prison land; lawless, with great swathes containing nothing between the fortified settlements of outlaws and the few good people in the region. Then, in 62 AC, the most influential group of people arrived in Etosil by far, and that was the Evintarians. Exiled from Regalia for not agreeing with the Eighth Creed of Unionism, the Evintarians acted quickly in Etosil. Within a decade, their religious leaders had helped organize the people, end the bandit ways, and set up systems for accepting those dumped on the rocky shores.
Over time, this sect’s religious views grew to encompass the entire population, but they were unable to unite them fully. Various city-states rose across the island and by the first century AC, there were numerous minor battles fought in mostly ceremonial combat outside the city walls. These disputes were then resolved by the city leadership as well as the Deacons and the Cantors. That all changed when, under the direction of Chancellor Vladimir Kade, the Regalian Empire invaded Etosil. While they put up a good fight, certain city-states aligned with the Regalian Empire against age old enemies. By 128 AC, the whole island fell to the Empire but despite this, Etosil’s isolationism only increased. The Regalian Empire reinforced a harsh blockade to “contain the heresy” of Etosian Unionism and sent in preachers to, unsuccessfully, convert the population to Sancella Unionism. During this time, those who went to Etosil would be unable to leave. This situation went on for some time before, under Emperor Justinian I, Etosians were free to come and go as they desired, but almost three generations of harsh treatment made the Etosians unwilling to leave their homeland. Ever since then, Etosil has remained insular, providing the Regalian Empire with what it asks but often not involving themselves in political issues unless it involves religion. They have also supported the Regalian Military in a limited capacity, sending troops primarily to fight in the recent conflicts against other faiths and races like the Songaskians in the Songaskian Wars and the Elves in the Elven War of 302 AC. Recently, the church was “healed” through an agreement reached under Cedromar Kade but with the position of Emperor abdicated to no one but the Spirit, the Etosians have been left somewhat in a lurch and formal negotiations as to the details of their proposed religious union have broken down. Many are still loyal to the Empire, however, and that is likely to continue into the near future. Still, unless their issues are addressed, the Church might have a new Schism on its hands.
Language and Dialects
The Etosian Dialect is an interesting case where the original Ceardian tongue of the Ailor slaves was mixed with that of the Elves, then the Daendroque slaves, and finally, the various criminals who were sent to the region after Etosil became known as a penal island. Thus, while it does have a base in what is now called Imperial Elven, time has added aspects of Daendroquin, Ceardian, and several other minor languages to their mother tongue. This messy development makes the language unique, but also difficult to learn for many, though Daendroque speakers may have an easier time. In addition to this, pockets across Etosil cling to their original languages as their heritage, with the most common second language spoken being the Daendroquin Dialect.
Etosian names are varied and exotic, making use of vocal sounds and letters often not seen in other languages such as “x” and “y”. The population also takes names or variations on the names of Herons, Emperors and key figures in their local church. Also, some of the more rural areas feature Etosian-ized names from the original culture that group stems from, the most popular being Daendroque. Etosian naming conventions also often result in male names ending in “ios” or an “s” and female names ending on an “a.” Some examples below:
The Etosian people are some of the most firm lawmakers in the Regalian Empire. They follow the laws of the Empire but are known to aggressively follow those rules involving religion, the Church and especially marriage. This last aspect of their core laws is the prime cause of issues between them and the Vladno people as the masculine underpinnings of the culture applaud adultery and cheating on a spouse. The Etosian church can only frown and bear it, imposing large fines on any men found to be doing so while women, unless Vladno themselves, face total social ostracization. As for punishment, Etosian laws are unique in that recognizing the pain of exile, it is never a verdict in any court cases. Even exile from one’s city is not allowed. Instead, public punishment and public restitution are the most common punishments stemming from the ideal situation where every member of the community adds something, and the Spirit helped form them for a purpose so the crime should be cleared before all present. Etosian law also heavily protects religious structures and religious figures. An example of this is while any person insulting the sanctity of a Reverend is fined 20 Regals in the City of Regalia, any person found doing so in Etosil can be fined upwards of 100 Regals.
Lifestyle and Customs
Etosian families are often made up of extended relatives living together, as since the early days, it was rare to wander far from home. One couple might live with the husband’s parents and the unmarried sister as well as other extended family members. As a collective unit, family unity is maintained, and homes have more hands for work. This structure is most prevalent in the rural communities where it is rare for anyone to live outside of the family house unless they are a woman since women often live with the man’s family unless he has none (something considered a tragedy in Etosian culture). Guests in a home are considered a blessing from the Spirit, as it is implies the visitor sees quality and security in the house, thus choosing to visit it. As for marriage, families often arrange matches between their eldest children to either help heal feuds or strengthen existing bonds. If no specific match is desired, every May a day of greeting is held where all the prospective matches meet and talk, even if they already know each other, with the adults watching nearby and discussing the merits of each match and making deals.
Individual families are often a husband, a wife, and at least one child since religious obligation pushes for reproduction between spouses. Male children often learn the trade of their father while female children learn the trade of their mother. For men, this often involves a lot of time outside unless they live in the urban cities where more crafts and trades are concentrated beyond the standard herding and fishing. Women, on the other hand, are consistent in their trade, which is always involved in weaving. It varies between individual houses as some of the more well-off middle-class families produce tapestries while those of the lower class produce wool cloth, clothing, and simple things for themselves or simple trade on market day.
The Etosian family is often seen from the outside as a classic patriarchy, with the man in charge and the woman lesser. However, there are underlining ideals to this which give women, especially mothers, a substantial level of respect. Women were rare among the exiles on early Etosil and so became almost a prize to the men around them. In the later years, as cities were set down, the woman’s role was still vital especially as the church emphasized their role in birthing and raising the future generation. As a result, abuse or negative actions on the part of a husband against his wife can result in public shame against him forcing him to make amends, since divorce is almost impossible to achieve in the Etosian interpretation of Unionism. These situations can lead to bitterness and some darkly joke it is easier for such Etosian women to get assassins to eliminate their husbands rather than stay with them any longer. However, despite this respect, women are not free spirits. They are banned from service in the Etosian church, and while Regalian influence is forcing the local leaders to start the process of setting up sites for Celestials of Mercy and allowing Sisters of Silence inside the preparation of the dead, it will be a slow process. In addition, female existence outside of marrying and producing children is often bleak as social pressure exists to force them down this path, save those in the upper and middle classes who may have slightly more options. Men, on the other hand, have a much freer life with little to no restrictions placed on them except the pressure to marry.
Etosians have a diverse number of holidays, mainly existing as local festivals focused on celebrating the various Herons. However, the one festival all of Etosil uniformly celebrates is “Iméra ton Mitéron” or “The Day of Mothers” on May 10th. The position of Heron of Mothers is incredibly important in Etosian culture, and the statue of the First Mother (known as Mother Jocastina or by her other title, Mother Etola) is the largest in the Pánta Cathedral in Etosil’s capital. On this day, she is draped in thousands of flowers as are those who lived and died as the Second, Third and Fourth Herons of Mothers. All women have the day off, and male spouses and offspring must give thanks to their mother.
Etosian religion is heavily built around the beliefs of the now “defunct” Patriarchate of Etosil, which itself refined ideals of the Evintarian sect of Unionism. They were separated from the main branch of Unionism over the issue of Herons, but when that happened, they spiraled even further away on many issues. The first difference in ideology is, of course, around Herons as the Etosian people believe in living, still present Herons and that there can be more than one of a certain area. For example, there are four Herons of Mothers in Etosian Unionism. Closely associated with this is the veneration of relics and objects, most of which have something to do with bones or pieces of a now-deceased Heron. These objects are worshipped on equal ground as any living Heron as the people feel all are touched and guided by the Spirit in some way. The next major difference is that the Etosians have long resisted depictions of the Emperor and the Spirit as insulting, believing strongly that no one can capture the true nature of the Spirit or any of his vessels. As such, the majority of Etosian art has been geared toward depicting Herons. There are also other minor differences in the form of death rituals, service structure, and marriage. Etosian Unionists have only one service a day, taking place at sunset each evening. This service is started and ended with a pair of songs, called the Elpida and the Charistia. The congregation sings these without the assistance of any instruments. Etosian Unionists also make heavy use of candles, with some of the oldest churches in Etosil having years upon years of built-up wax on their great candle holders from the vast number of candles that are burnt. It represents several parts of the culture, from a constant reminder of their survival through the trial of fire that was the early years on Etosil, to a living metaphorical representation of the Spirit (and thus not a static image), to a symbol for Unionism as a whole, lighting the darkness of a hostile world. It is seen as an ill omen if too many candles go out at any one time in a church and some dedicate their lives to ensuring this never happens.
Every service also includes a portion where the head Deacon or Cantor walks around the congregation purifying them with incense as a continued sign of faithfulness. To not be purified is a great social punishment and if that happens, the victim must immediately seek to fix whatever has brought them out of favor with the Deacon/Cantor or risk social difficulties. In addition to these differences in worship, the Etosians have a few differences for the Sacraments when compared to Sancella Unionism. The most obvious is how they perform the Sacrament of Slumber. After a person dies, the body is set on display in their best dress in a side room of the local house of worship for three hours. The family of the dead will then often hire wailers, who will shriek and cry at the loss of life. The belief is that the louder the crying, the more important the individual. This aspect of the service is often where social differences are most evident, with higher class citizens being able to afford a multitude of wailers while lower class ceremonies will usually consist solely of the deceased’s family. After three hours, the body is then burned as the wailers slowly stop their cries. This is done to prevent Undeadism and has grown especially fervent in the period following the Bone Horror Crisis that saw all unanimated flesh and bone rise up to attack the living. In fact, the old ways of burial (bleaching the bones and arranging them in family mausoleums) were abandoned as a result of that event seeing this new style of service take hold. Some of the more jealous communities even use Anaflexi to burn their bodies.
Finally, Etosian Unionism holds the act of marriage to be the most sacred of the Sacraments. To them, the union between two lovers is only to be ended by the death of one of its members. Even historically, there have been fewer than ten divorces granted by the Exalted Patriarch, and those come from situations where one member of the marriage was incredibly belligerent to the other. The other part of this is that the Etosians hold virginity to be sacred, and consider it incredibly sacrilegious to be with another outside of marriage. Members of the clergy all swear vows of celibacy, meaning that they reject the personal company of the other sex for the rest of their lives in honor of this. These vows are taken incredibly seriously, with the Patriarchate even having a law that punishes priests who break their vows. Additionally, Etosians only recognize marriage between a man and a woman with homosexuality outright illegal in most cities and settlements. Very recently, however, there has been debate fermenting among clerical and civilian Etosians due to the shakeup of Cedromar I who was homosexual. The Septarch and leaders of one city, Vorfandu, have so far accepted this fact outright and reversed restrictions on those who love the same sex much to the anger of the other cities though the current High Reverend of Etosil (formerly the Supreme Patriarch) has thus far allowed it. For now, the arguments in private and in public of church and public figures have not boiled over into large-scale outright violent conflict yet this is a possible crack for the future if another homosexual or even bisexual man sits himself in the Imperial throne.
Literature and Folklore
Etosian literature is mainly focused on matters of religion, both concerning the medium and the subject matter. Histories of the faith and the Herons as well as discussions of the Creeds are commonly hand produced within the great cathedrals of the various cities across Etosil and feature beautiful artwork in the margins as a display both of skill and devotion. There are also many moral examinations, done through cases studies into specific examples of corruption and malpractice of the faith, and other examples of sinful people that attempt to warn the public of how fast a person can go downhill. More liberal groups often accuse such works of being inaccurate and stretching the truth.
Etosian philosophy is a very complex matter, involving multiple nuances and ideas influenced by Etosian Unionism, Unionism as a whole, and the many absorbed parties that made up the early Etosil. Etosians believe in the need for a centralized state, but emphasize a unification of church and state or at the very least ensuring that everyone in the government is loyal and religious toward Unionism. Because of this, they express distaste toward the Velheim and the Anglians, who they view as the least pious and rife with worship to old religions which are either heretical or misinformed. They also tend to push their ideology on others heavily as they were unable to send official missionaries out from their island, making every member valuable in spreading the faith to strangers they might meet on Etosil. They are zealous in their faith, a trait put to good use by the Regalian Military when they have needed to call upon Etosil to “defend the faith” such as they did in the Chrysant War and the recent conflicts against the Songaskians. Etosians are known for following the Creeds absolutely, which makes them very inflexible in situations of religious discourse. Etosians also put a heavy emphasis on the individual, especially on those who are pious or holy such as churchmen or living Herons. Being successful, pious, and powerful are signs that the Spirit is helping you in life and you deserve respect because of this, which is also known to make members of the Etosian upper class some of the most arrogant in the Regalian Empire.
However, there is a dark side to Etosian Unionism which has never quite gone away. They were once extremely xenophobic to non-Ailor races, these old ideas living on today in the stubborn Vladno and their current ideas of slavery. When Regalia assimilated Etosil into the Empire, political pressure forced the region to tone down this extreme view which saw a period derogatorily called “O Vrómikos Chrónos” (The Dirty Time) when Varran and various Nelfin races moved freely to the island. The Vladno’s enslavement practices, however, were never checked, and almost a quarter of these free citizens were taken against their will into servitude. It took until the 11th Creed in 304 AC for the Patriarchate to finally stop what was essentially kidnapping, albeit begrudgingly. Since the advent of the 12th Creed, Etosians are making the slow transition, but their perceptions about other races thrive on stereotypes. Finally, many Etosians hate the Undead. While there is limited information on how far back the Undead on Etosil go (some claim they were there centuries before the Cataclysm, others claim as late as 100 AC), the hatred from the local population is certainly nothing new. Etosians try to burn their dead as quickly as possible, due to a surprising level of superstition around the process of Undeadism. However, this hatred has faltered in recent years as in the Bone Horror Crisis, Etosil’s cities and the Undead teamed up to fight against the Bone Horrors that were attacking both of them. The Undead even joined the Regalian Army when they tried to take back the Crown Isle in the Lo Dictatorship. While this relationship ultimately broke down in the months following both events, the official status of the two “peoples” is one of peace so, with time, it may get better.
The Etosians have a rich folklore to their island, mainly stemming from the foundation history of each city in Etosil, all claiming to have been founded by a member of the Evintarians. Such stories chronicle their extraordinary adventures battling bandits, demons (real or internal) and wild beasts before ultimately choosing their settlement site. These works are also those most frequently adapted into epic plays. The remainder of their folklore is religiously based, using parables, tall tales and other stories involving the Herons or the Emperor to teach lessons to children.
Etosian art is diverse and covers a wide range of mediums. Painting and drawing are done in a natural style but often have minor flourishes to symbolically represent what or whom they are drawing so as to not require a title. For example, a field in Etosil while ordinarily empty might find an artist adding a crook resting on a fencepost and the spire of a cathedral off in the distance to show the piety of the land under the guidance of the Spirit. In the area of sculpture, artists go for realism as well, even at the cost of beauty. The Etosians believe the Spirit loves all it creates, so those Herons who had unsightly facial features or non-ideal body types are displayed as they were in life. Finally, there is the unique work of mosaics, rarely seen outside of Etosil. Using small pieces of glass and stone, Etosian artists can assemble great and beautiful scenes often on the floors of buildings. Such works are diverse in subject matter, and the technique is said to have come from the first Etosian Heron of Artists.
There are, however, restrictions and conventions within Etosian artwork that put it at odds with many others. Well known in Etosian culture is iconoclasm, as at no time can the Spirit or an Emperor himself be depicted in artwork. This restriction has been relaxed with time, however, especially recently due to the rise of Imperial Culture. However, the Etosians are opposed to several other aspects of Imperial Culture. The use of both the nude figure and the perfect figure is disgusting and appalling to many Etosians the first few times they encounter it. To them, nakedness outside of labor and the enjoyment of water is representative of bad times for the Ailor and a lack of civilization, likely derived from the little clothing exiles landing on Etosil had and how precious it was in the early years. They also believe it is vain to depict one as they were not in life and thus, a sin to do so. While original rhetoric decrying these features of Imperial Culture was short-lived, it is still a present rift.
Etosian music heavily derives from the vocal chorus, and what few instruments it does have are often from the string and wind families. Etosians believe their voices are sufficient enough to worship the Spirit and over time, these prayers have evolved into long drawn out chants. Men speak the majority of the lines, though some chants involving marriage, partnership and honesty require female chanters. These chants and hymns are traditionally used in church, but they are also present at social events. In more relaxed settings, they are often quicker and only occur at the end or beginning of an event. Music involving instruments is limited to simple lyrical rhymes, patterns and often only done within family gatherings.
Etosian fashion is varied and rich. For women, there are three styles: the Agnóssa style, the Fórema Afroú style, and the recently developed Néa Epochí style. The Agnóssa style is the most widespread, existing up and down the social ladder. Its principle features are the Krývontin Koukoúla or “Hiding Hood”, a long thin piece of fabric women can wrap either tightly or loosely around their head to hide their hair and features beyond their face, a single piece dress that goes down to the ankles, a waist and chest wrapping called a Semnótita which acts as a loose external corset of sorts as well as the Polla-Chríseis, a piece of fabric often tied around one lower arm before looping around the back to be held by the other hand. This clothing is often the lightest in colors, with whites, light blues, and washed out colors in the fabric. Fórema Afroú clothing is similar but is designed for coastal regions and is often used by the lower rungs of society. The Periorízontin Koukoúla or “Restricting Hood” is an even more restrictive style of headgear, with a simple white coif underneath a woolen cap cleanly framing the face with the intention to secure the hair thoroughly. The rest of the style calls for a simple camisia (a baggy form of shirt) that goes down to just below the knees and a loose tunica overtop, acting as a smock for many of a woman’s daily activities. It usually comes in various tones of blue, often contrasting with the white and brown of the headpiece and camisia.
The final style, Néa Epochí, has caused the most stir, only developing within the last thirty years and only in the major cities. Here, young women focus on revealing their physical form more, first with a low-cut top called an Apokalyptikó or “Revealer” attached to the neck through a series of straps that also go across their lower neck. A thin, veil-like piece of rumpled fabric also extends around the back and over the shoulders, helping to obscure the straps. At the shortest point between each side of the body, a strand of simple metal tags is secured to draw attention to the thinness of the woman with a similar line of metal tags along the neck strap of the Apokalyptikó. The lower body is shrouded in a large bolt of cloth folded and wrapped making a type of “dress pants” the Etosians call an Agnodica. The entire arrangement is then held together at the back below the end of the rumpled fabric. This final style is only allowed during times when a young woman is looking for a husband, and the church allows them to “reveal traits that show positive qualities of motherhood.” Older or married women wearing the style is thus frowned upon. This style has the brightest colors, with reds, oranges, and yellows being standard fabric colors and shades to the metal tags.
Male Etosian fashion is less complicated, but still has its own unique nuances in three fashion styles, more based on class than region. The first style is Lykófos Diakomódisi and was made for those who serve or associate with the Vladno. It features the Apovladnos, a black trapezoidal shirt with two open slits down the sides to the waistline. The area around the collar and at the hem of the clothing is then richly embroidered with Unionist and Etosian symbols along with basic shape patterns in red, white and yellow. The rest of the garment is an undershirt and black pants. The second style is one that crosses all classes, known as the Ptychés Yfásmatos style. A simple single piece of clothing similar to a dress covers the male body that either goes down to above the ankle or on the lower leg with a belt around the waistline. Then, for protection from the sea, the wind or the cold, a cloak known as a Sómahider is draped around the shoulders and is pinned together using a Psychí Brooch either at the shoulder or just below it. The clothing openly reveals one side of the body but then shields the other, with a narrow slice removed to allow for the other hand to come in. While the underclothing is often reasonably plain, perhaps slightly decorated at the hemline or edge areas, the cloak is the real piece of color. Blues, greens, reds, and whites form various geometric patterns and lines along its edges before a single simple design is found in the middle, often the Unionist eye.
The last clothing style, Patéras style, is the clothing of the church and all associated male figures. In simplest terms, the style features a large cloak called a pallium draped over a simple long sleeveless robe that goes down to the feet with a long Epitrachelion (essentially a very long scarf laid over the neck and hanging down to the feet) set between these two layers which can be seen at the front of the robe. The robe is then placed over a basic tunic with full sleeves. The entire assemblage then has a color-coded system for each of the classes of the region’s church. The High Reverend of Etosil (formerly the Supreme Patriarch) wears a robe of all white, with a black pallium draped over them and a yellow Epitrachelion. The Septarches (rulers of the seven great cities of Etosil) wear black robes, a yellow pallium and a white Epitrachelion that prominently features the symbols of their city on it. Deacons and Cantors as the general priesthood wear yellow robes, black palliums, and white Epitrachelions. In more relaxed scenarios, the Epitrachelions are done away with entirely while the pallium colors are instead in place in clothes wrapped around the waists of the men who participate in the faith. Also, each piece of clothing is often edged with needlework of another color save for the white robe of the High Reverend of Etosil, who is solidly white. While there are more ranks to the church, they have no formal code of dress and follow those set out by their individual institutions of faith. Etosians often have the color combinations of the Patéras style memorized by the age of ten. All clothing styles, male and female, do have one commonality: Their footwear. Boots are a rarity in Etosian fashion, and as such both genders make use of either several types of simple sandal or thinly surfaced and basic shoes of a single color.
Etosian architecture has evolved uniquely over the centuries, with those exiled to Etosil each bringing their own region’s architectural ideas which mixed with that of the natural landscape. The majority of Etosian structures are made of stone, brick, and plaster and are simple in construction. Semicircular arches, narrow windows, and tiled roofs also mark their style. The real developments and unique features exist in their religious and ”military” structures. Great domes nicknamed “Poppy Heads” in Common top great vertical churches, supported by internal columns, pillars, and archways. They are often onion-shaped, bulging soon after beginning before rising to a point, normally a single spire or a spire topped by a five-pointed star. Within the church itself, there is first the narthex, the receiving area comparable to the reception area of an upper-class home. The central area of the church is unique as it holds no pews, requiring people to stand though members of the church while the Vladno culture have seats at either side of the space. At the rear of the church sits a screen or thin wall, around and upon which are placed statues and artwork of the various major Herons with the “lesser” ones found throughout the wider worship space. Two sets of doors, one for entry and one for exit, then lead into the square sanctuary at the back of the structure. In this room lays the collection of relics belonging to that particular institution. Most of the time they are bones, but some may be specific objects, especially if that object related to a Heron of a craft.
While the Etosians are not a military culture, their other two unique works of architecture are derived from a military background. The most obvious is the Etosian Tower, a relatively simple tower that rises into the sky at a slight slant on each edge before ideally turning into a perfect square within the last few meters before a slanted open gable roof meets with the square. The tower’s sides are punctured with narrow vertical slots, four small square openings at the top and feature a narrow set of steps almost all the way up. These towers originated as crude watchtowers, made by the early settlements to keep a lookout for approaching foes, returning friends and in some coastal areas, new exiles. Over time, they grew more sophisticated and took on cultural meaning to the Etosians, serving as a reminder of their determination and rugged past. In the more rural areas they were often still used to keep an eye out for approaching Undead but due to the recent peace between the two peoples, there have few if any attacks from this former foe. The towers are often placed next to the second defining unique feature of major Etosian settlements, the Vathmiaíos Walls. Built slowly over time, as Etosian warfare was mainly ceremonial and fought outside of the settlement’s walls, these walls became more decorative and artistic as statements of a region’s identity. Many of them have three clear stages, as defined by the different sorts of material used in their construction. Stage one is a solely stone base, with the second level a combination of bricks and stone, where the majority of artistic imagery appears mainly in murals and carvings of animals, plants, and critical historical events. In the minor cities and major towns, they often have simple geometric patterns created using the bricks against the stone. The third layer is made almost entirely of brick and features the least artistic designs. Circular towers help create corners for new directions and feature rounded teeth tops.
Overall, this architecture also makes use of aquatic imagery in minor or edge decoration along with a square spiral design though to be a take on the Elven spiral that was used to represent the Elven Empire. Their decorations also make use of the Unionist eye, the stork and in more recent structures, the Feathered Dragon.
Etosian cuisine is similar to Daendroque cuisine, making use of seafood but also makes use of the animal products of pastoral herding animals, resulting in interesting taste combinations. For example, cheese and fish are commonly prepared and eaten together, and olive trees abound in the interior regions of the landmass. These are eaten whole or made into oil for multiple uses by the populace. One of the odd things about Etosil is despite its southern climate, it cannot produce sugar and has long relied on honey as its sweetener, producing the local dessert delicacy known as Strómatou Ouranoú. The pastry uses thin dough and honey to produce a delicious baked good, often seasoned with nuts. Another local food is Chtypi-sitirá, a blend of barley, water, cheese, and several minor herbs designed to be hearty and help get someone the nutrients they need for hard work or a rough journey.
Etosian culture focuses much on the individual, and so sports are often non-team based affairs. The varied terrain makes many sports difficult, but three remain popular among young Etosian men. The first is running. As their land’s terrain is heavily hilled, contests are regularly held in rural areas to ensure young men get their footing at a young age. These contests are also held in the cities but are usually considered “soft” by rural participants as the ground is mostly flat and the route more direct. The next sport is swimming, done by many coastal settlements and usually features races or diving aspects. The last sport is one only done in the cities, and that is javelin throwing. In the ceremonial fights of old, combat between the city-states principally involved spears and armored combatants. As time went on, the art of the spear morphed, lost its more militaristic qualities and became a sport of strength and ability. Often such contests are distance based, but a few also add aiming at targets for some variety.
Etosian leisure time is much like that in other cultures; children play while adults relax and spend time away from work. However, Etosian children have several unique games they play. The most prominent is the game of “Vasiliás í Anóitos,” “King or Fool.” One child, either the winner of the last round or the oldest stands with his back to a group near a large wall. The child must then throw the ball from their toes up and backward into the air. Whoever gets the ball and dribbles it on the wall the most is the winner or king. The loser is the fool and is told to do something. If they don’t follow through, then they are berated for a week. Other games involve rolling sheep knuckle bones or spinning clay tops. A more general game is their variation on checkers as instead of eliminating pieces, “Perivállo” requires the player to sandwich the piece they wish to eliminate between two of their own pieces.
Etosians have many symbols associated with them and cover a diverse range of subject matter. They are linked to Lazurite, mined in great quantities from their landmass, while also being tied to the olive tree and its oil as well as a variety of fauna, like the Squiggs Octovin, Etosian Bear and the Highland Thessaliy. Individual cities also have their own unique symbolism, such as Hessalios being tied to a setting sun and the face of a Tsarr Cat on their heraldry. Etosians are also eternally tied to Herons since that is the issue that split them from the main Unionist church.
- On Etosil’s 200th anniversary (counted from the date of the arrival of the Evintarians), all seven great cities combined their founding myths into a continuous play that went on for three days. Even the Arvostians who attended were impressed with its effects and narrative structures.
- Etosian legs are said to be the strongest of any Ailor culture thanks to the rugged local terrain and needing to stand so long during religious services.
- Etosians have little to no information on the Elves who were on Etosil before them or what they did. Hessalios was founded over the site of one of their outposts, but if any records from that period exist, they were likely destroyed soon after the settlement began due to xenophobia.