|Common Names||Mountain Preachers, Winter Knights|
|Classification||Pious snow-dwelling crusaders|
|Social Classes||Peasants, Priests, Knights|
Whether they’re seen as righteous crusaders or overzealous brutes, the Ohrneti people have been agreed upon as an oddity among the Unionist Ailor, often holed up in their strongholds in the Ohrneti kingdom of Kausis. Viewing themselves as the bastion of Unionism in the frozen wastelands of Ellador, the Ohrneti wage a nonstop holy war against the Dragon-worshiping Isldar, Velheim heathens, and Dorkarth Vampires of Ellador with their canonized Holy King leading them. Ohrneti culture began as a bastardization of Etosian and Vladno, though once its people eventually decided to set sail for a different land and spread their faith in the furthest corners of Aloria, they went far and wide before settling in southern Ellador. Even with their aggressive and xenophobic form of Unionism being considered worrisome even by Sanchelle and traditional Etosian Unionists, the Ohrneti priests and knights are radically devoted to the Regalian Empire and consider themselves a satellite state of Regalia. Today under pressure by the Isldar who are rapidly expanding across Ellador, the Ohrneti continue their crusade in hopes of eventual victory in the name of the Spirit.
Ohrneti history is confusing and rather unknown in the wider Alorian world, largely as a result of their isolation from wider society. What can be agreed upon is that they originated on Etosil, as various aspects of the Culture leave clear indicators and notes from Etosian Culture. They are also clearly Vladno in origin and likely represent a mixing of the two societies shortly after the Vladno reached Etosil. But how or why they reached Ellador is where opinions split. The Ohrneti themselves claim a Heron of Foresight had a vision of a vile menace far to the north in the form of a magical infection that turned men into half-beasts. Their ancestors were warriors assembled to go out and fight this menace, sent off with the Etosian Patriarch’s blessing and his writ that one among them should be their great and blessing “king.” They then traveled north, reached Ellador, and began a crusade that has lasted for the past century and a half. Etosil’s records, on the other hand, make no mention of any of this. Instead, all that is noted is that a religious dispute in the city of Iraklis sadly saw misguided Vladno and their Etosian servants and allies depart into a self-imposed exile of their own making. Further information is unknown, but it is popularly claimed that one of the Vladno arrogantly tried to make himself into a king despite being not allowed by Etosian religious beliefs at the time. Then there is the final position, coming from the Kingdom of Hedryll. They claim that after the Great Vampire Wars, their monarchs still sought help to reclaim territory. Around 130 AC, Hedryll scouts returned with a warrior force from a “distant, far drier land” who agreed to help in the fight. They did so but ultimately betrayed the nation by claiming the land they had captured and set up their own small “nation” under a petty king.
Regardless of which tale is true, and perhaps all tales have some level of truth to them, the Ohrneti did leave Etosil and come to Ellador roughly around 150 AC. They then carved out a territory along the southern coastline of Ellador, on the peninsula known to the Ohrenti as The Bolo-St’endi (to the Velheim as Merkelig Mannland) and have focused on cleansing, converting and fighting everything hostile, heretical and Vampiric threat that has dared to cross their path. Regalia’s first contact with the Ohrneti was rather poor, as they attacked and overwhelmed a group of simple merchant vessel believing it to be an invasion of the “Evintarian haters.” Regalia, nonplussed about the event, sent a firm diplomatic response three years later, in 224 AC, which thrashed the Ohrneti Knights before educating these backwards people about what had happened to Etosil, and what the Regalian Empire actually was. They immediately swore fealty forever to the Regalian Empire and deeply apologized for their previous actions by giving gifts and promising to fight even harder against the heretical and corrupting forces found in Ellador. Since that time, they have fought Velheim forces on the continent, battled the Dorkarth Vampires offshore of the continent, and resisted Isldar attempts to scout them. Recently, with the Isldar takeover of much of the continent, a number of Ohrneti have retreated to the major settlements to reinforce them while others have left the continent entirely to go to Regalia and seek help or knowledge that can aid them in their fight. It is likely to continue unless Ellador is freed from Isldar domination, a prospect unlikely given the Regalian Empire’s focus elsewhere.
Language and Dialects
Ohrneti Dialect is a strange tongue that appears unrecognizable to any but the people of Kausis, too isolated from many other Cultures to diversify. However, just like its culture, the dialect was a hybrid between the Etosian and Vladno languages before forming its own identity in Ellador. There are slight variations of the language depending on where one is in Kausis, though it otherwise remains rather homogenous and standardized for the Ohrneti.
Ohrneti naming, drawing from its language as a foundation, use many Etosian and Vladno names alongside those of its own. Surnames are present in the Ohrneti language but rely heavily on suffixes to define an Ohrneti and their origins. Common suffixes include -dze, -ia, -ani, -shvili, and -uri, while the suffix -eli is exclusively for nobility and those of high birth in Ohrneti society; with the first three being common in the southern plains of Kausis while the rest (exempting -eli, which is both) are in the mountainous northern Kausis. In addition, last names are either formed by regional origin or patronymics implying an ancestor or paternal relative. For example, an Ohrneti is named Irakli and was born into the nobility of his society, and being descended from a man named Mikheil, his full name would be Irakli Mikheileli. For an additional example, a commoner is named Mariam and from the western part of Kausis, though her ancestor is named Levan; the full name would be Mariam Levandze. The following list is a compilation of a few common Ohrneti names:
Ohrneti law and justice is greatly inspired by the Regalian legal system, though the Ohrneti people have adopted a far more religious and harsh interpretation of the law. Castles and land are given to knights who prove themselves as true warriors of the faith, with the noble families of Kausis being descended from or made up of these knights. However, a knight who betrays their code or who strays from Unionist principles is subject to being stripped of titles and excommunicated. Priests are the primary sources of law among the Ohrneti, and as such their society is designed around the church and the Unionist clergy that hold sway over knights and peasants alike from their mountainous monasteries. Apostasy and heresy are both unforgivable crimes in the eyes of the law, with offenders being executed and condemned to an afterlife of damnation. Due to the Ohrneti’s constant crusade against the Vampires of Dorkarth, Sanguinism is highly illegal, and anyone infected with the curse is given the two options of curing or execution, with Vampires automatically being sentenced to death if they are reinfected. While the Holy King is the absolute lynchpin of power and authority, in theory, most state and societal functions are controlled by the military and clergy while the King remains more of a figurehead.
Lifestyle and Customs
Family units remain very close and conservative in Kausis, with fathers leading what are sometimes several generations of family members under one roof. Common children learn their trades directly from their parents without many other options, such as sons learning to be a carpenter or farmer from their father who passed down those trades from generations of forefathers. Family sizes often remain small with only about two or three children at the most due to the scarcity of resources to allow for large families, though higher-ranked or noble Ohrneti families can usually afford to have four to five children. While Ohrneti family life isn’t often as brutal or abusive as the Vladno, Ohrneti children are still expected to be obedient and to never question their father’s decisions.
Recent Ohrneti society, compared to its past, has somewhat liberalized its gender roles and expanded opportunities. Women were previously barred from any notable position in society and were solely expected to be household caretakers, though reforms by Holy King Zhirayr have allowed a more gender-equal footing in the military and even government. Despite these reforms, high clergy positions and church power are still exclusively in the hands of men, and the military positions are usually only for noble and affluent class women. Gender roles of the average and lower-class Ohrneti are still strictly patriarchal and staunchly conservative, with divides having occurred over whether civil liberties should be expanded out of necessity to survive in the war against the Isldar.
Almost all of the Ohrneti holidays are based on Unionist celebrations, recognizing various seasonal festivals and especially days commemorating Herons of Union. However, the two most notable holidays for the Ohrneti are the Day of Canonization and the Crusader’s Vigil. On the day a new Holy King is crowned, the Ohrneti gather in town squares and hold great festivals celebrating the coronation and canonization. The Ohrneti Patriarch will then hold several services throughout the day, praising the Spirit and blessing the Holy King for their upcoming reign. During the Crusader’s Vigil, flowers and ornaments are placed at the statues of various memorials, followed by the evening service where people light candles and honor both the crusaders who founded Kausis alongside Ohrneti knights and crusaders who fell in a battle for the cause of Unionism.
The Ohrneti are overwhelmingly a population of pious Etosian Unionists, their leaders dedicated to the Emperor and the cause of Humanum. Continuing the idea of “living Herons” prevalent to Etosian Unionism, they’re ruled by a ‘Holy King’ whose reign is legitimized by Ohrneti priests canonizing the king as a living Heron upon his coronation. Even with status as a near god-king, the Holy King is second only to the Regalian Emperor, and the Ohrneti wouldn’t dare declare anybody to be above the host of the Imperial Spirit. While they match the Etosians and Vladno in devoutness, the Ohrneti have broken with the former two cultures’ isolationist nature and instead resorted to more expansionist and aggressive methods of spreading the faith. Taking the Fourth and Fifth Creeds to a much greater extent than most other Unionists, Ohrneti priests identify the other Races and faiths of Ellador as purely heretical and only deserving to be enslaved or purged from the world, such as Isldar Dragon Worship or the Old Gods of the Velheim. The Frostweaver Dragon of the Isldar is viewed as the ultimate embodiment of evil and sin by the Ohrneti, with even the Holy King promising land and Heron canonization for any man who can slay the beast. Due to isolation from recent events in Regalia and Etosil, the Ohrneti branch of Etosian Unionism holds to the many practices currently being phased out by normal Etosians such as funeral wailers and sunset services. Rather than the Exalted Patriarch of Etosil, the Ohrneti Heronian Church is led by the Patriarch of Kausis, who is responsible for the clergy of Kausis and often performs the crowning and canonization of an upcoming Holy King.
Literature and Folklore
As a people isolated in a land of enemies and monsters with nothing to hold on except their faith, the Ohrneti have formed their way of thinking around themselves and the conditions they developed in. The Ohrneti are descended from Etosian Unionist crusaders who landed in Ellador to fight against the Vampires and set up Kausis as their own crusader kingdom and a solid foothold for Unionism in this frozen land. Sharing the same continent as Isldar, Velheim, and Dorkarth Vampires, they’ve formed a mindset of being a chosen people both surrounded by the evils of a savage world and destined to spread their faith. This constant struggle against their enemies forms the cornerstone of the philosophical idea of what the Ohrneti call the “Eternal Crusade,” where they are locked in holy war and must remain vigilant against their heretical foes. As a result, the Ohrneti are often the aggressors in wars against their non-Unionist neighbors, launching “Spirit-sanctioned invasions” at the behest of either the Kausis Patriarch or the Holy King.
Racism and xenophobia are rampant among the Ohrneti, with many distrusting outsiders and other races that come to Kausis. Due to their “us versus them” mentality that has grown with their isolated war against everybody in Ellador, the Ohrneti see no reason to expand rights or protections to even the Nelfin and other Humanum races (such as Qadir and Sihai) like Regalia has allowed. Any Isldar found in town is often brutally beaten or killed by a mob, with the average Ohrneti seeing the winter-touched Elves as monsters to be extinguished. The Velheim culture and people are at least tolerated due to being human, but any who are practising the Old Gods faith often receive a visit from local government inquisitions.
Despite being devout Unionists, the Ohrneti keep many old stories and superstitious tales. Old wives and mothers will warn their children of the many demons that wander the night in search of the blood of innocents, with horrific tales being created to teach these children to behave and listen to their parents. Many other stories also feature heroic knights and Herons who fight fearsome monsters such as flesh-eating Ogres or cold-hearted Isldar, and often give a religious tone to exemplify the glory of Unionism. One of the more unusual creatures in Ohrneti folklore are called the Aralez, described as large winged dogs who either lick the wounds of warriors in battle to heal them or use their wings to carry fallen souls to Paradise.
Art isn’t usually considered a strong suit for the Ohrneti due to their warlike reputation, though skilled craftsmen often produce beautiful pieces found in churches and estates. Ohrneti painters and glassmakers are often commissioned by both clergy and nobility to create grand, religious-themed visual spectacles. The Cathedral of Living Herons is known for having two entire walls of stained glass windows depicting the story of Kausis' founding. In the Royal Palace, the Holy King at the time will usually hire a painter to create a portrait of them to be hung up with those of previous kings. Weaving, while usually exclusive to women, tends to be culturally significant with intricate patterns found in Ohrneti tapestries.
Ohrneti attire draws heavy inspiration from Etosian and Vladno fashion and can differ based on social class. The main staple of fashion for both genders is called the Arkhaluk, a low-collar item fastened with small hooks and made of cotton or silk. In all Ohrneti outfits, a thick woven scarf is wrapped around the waist and laden with symmetric patterns, usually able to replace a belt. Men wear caps of either fur or wool, the former being common in northern Kausis while the latter is more southern Kausis. Women wear an embroidered apron and Arkhaluk-styled outerwear with elaborate cotton headdresses, which often have small ornaments hanging off the side.
Much of the finer architecture in Kausis borrows elements from those cathedrals and palaces of Etosil, which sticks out as a mark of beauty in the often dull towns of Kausis. Mosaics of Herons often adorn the halls of the various Ohrneti churches, which are then capped off by symmetrical domes. Walls of both common homes and castles alike are made of thick stone and lime mortar, with artistic patterns being inlaid within more sophisticated works. The Orhneti capital of Dedakali is home to the awe-inspiring Cathedral of Living Herons where visitors can view the symmetrical rotundas and mosaic-ladened walls, while all the past Holy Kings of Kausis are buried in the crypt. However, the Ohrneti’s most notable architectural accomplishment is known as the Iron Wall, which is a massive length of fortresses and castles connected by both natural mountains and great stone walls. The Iron Wall, which stretches across the mountain chain in Kausis’ northern border, was built by the original arriving crusaders in order to protect against incursions by the Isldar. These fortifications derive much of their architectural sensibility from the structure known as the Etosian Tower, which is accentuated with walls, keeps and other structural features of forts.
While the Ohrneti people aren’t often credited as the pinnacle of cultural cuisine, their local foods are promised to leave anybody warm and happy in the wastelands of Kausis. A key staple of Ohrneti diet is Khinkali, which are dumplings stuffed with spices and meat. Due to the broth inside, one must carefully eat a khinkali dumpling without making a mess, often accomplished by turning the dumpling around while taking small bites. Stew and flatbread are also common additions to Ohrneti meals, while a favorite dessert is known as Gata, a piece of sweet bread with custard in the center.
Ohrneti are particularly fond of rigorous physical sports meant to help a person adapt to the cold Ellador climate and the Ohrneti’s harsh way of life, though hunting is often prevalent for those who want to prove themselves capable and strong. While the Ohrneti hunt a variety of creatures in Ellador, Trollar Hunting has become the most popular for its challenge and potential prestige for those who are successful. Ohrneti hunters will sail all the way to Trollar to spend time hunting down the largest and most barbaric of Trolls and Ogres on the island, slaying the creatures and bringing back various body parts as trophies of their victories. Casualties and deaths during these hunts are not uncommon, but those who are successful in bringing back some trophy of an Ogre or Troll can gain local fame and gain the title of ‘Didi Monadire,’ meaning ‘Great Hunter.’
Ohrneti boys often participate in sport-like pastime activities to prove themselves as men, taking part in axe and javelin throwing contests or rock climbing up the mountainsides. Fathers usually teach their sons hunting at a younger age and start them off with rabbits and squirrels before moving on to larger prey. Due to the winter climate of Kausis, many Ohrneti of all ages will go snow sledging down hills either in races or just pure enjoyment. The city of Dedakali even holds an annual festival dedicated to competitive sledging on the large hills outside the city, where individuals or teams work to become the best sledder in the kingdom.
- During a battle plan as part of an invasion of neighboring Hedryll, one Ohrneti commander had the bright idea for the army to round up as many pigs as possible and drive them into the enemy ranks to disrupt formations. Needless to say, the attack was a complete failure after the animals were quickly butchered by Hedryll warriors, and the event is known today as the “Pigs Charge.” However, the event did inspire small towns in eastern Kausis to start doing an annual “running of the pigs” where contestants outrun a stampede of pigs.
- The Ohrneti heavily focus on an oral tradition and so only recently have adopted the written word for the sake of proper record keeping out of a desire to please the Regalian Empire.