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Opinions of Other Cultures:by Geoff Gander
"Never has there been a people so enthralled with battle than the Antalians, those fierce, fair-haired barbaric people who live far in the frozen north of Iciria. All of them live for battle, for the ring of steel on steel, for the spilled blood of their enemies, and for the right to die gloriously. Needless to say, they are very aggressive and domineering - they even take slaves, and their women are scarcely more than property! The light of civilisation does not burn brightly among them.
"Still, for all that, they are marvellous sailors and warriors, equalling even some of our own. They bravely cross the seas to our shores in the hope of finding easy plunder, and too often they find it! Despite our best efforts, it seems some of them always get through. When our brave soldiers fight them off, the Antalians seem to enjoy it! I've heard that some of them laugh and sing as they fight our armies.
"It is said that some of these people, who were captured in a raid long ago, have stayed here, and adopted some of our ways. I do not know if this is true, but, to be sure, it would be an interesting sight! Despite their shortcomings, the Antalians do make lovely goods for trade, and in times of peace we have been able to obtain their fine hides, ales, and other such goods. An interesting people, I will give them that much."
"If there is one people on this world to whom we cannot relate at all, it is the Azcans. Without a doubt, they are the cruellest people ever to exist! They are a belligerent lot - when we first met them many, many years ago, they tried to kill our envoys! Apparently, their short-sighted priests, and their evil emperor, fanatically serve a being called Atzanteotl, or some name like that. Atzanteotl is an evil being, who calls for the sacrifice of all who do not follow the Azcan way of life, and who glorifies senseless cruelty in all its forms. He is not a compassionate, enlightened Immortal, as Xeron is.
"Did you know the Azcans practice a bloody sport where all the players ultimately get sacrificed to this obscene deity? Yet these players seem to think it's an honour! Madness, I tell you! No, the Azcans are definitely not an enlightened people like those of Selhomarr. This is why our ships give wide berth to their shores."
"A simple, but peaceful people, the Brute-Men live close to nature, never abandoning their stone tools or shamanistic magics. They are expert hunters, always on the move in pursuit of their prey, and never really settling down to till the soils or build proper houses. You see, they live in caves, and eat only what they can catch or gather. Certainly not a good life.
"One would think that being so primitive, they would have long ago been destroyed by their more aggressive and advanced neighbours, but this is not the case. Just as they are excellent hunters, so too are they fearsome warriors. Few who venture into their lands with violent intent ever return. I am glad that they consider us our friends."
"If there was ever a people one must both admire and pity, it would be the Jennites. These steadfast people roam the steppelands they call home, sandwiched between the Milenians on one side, and the Tanagoro on the other. They do not build cities, strangely enough, yet they have a rather sophisticated culture, where people of both sexes enjoy a level of equality unmatched by many others. Their lands are rich, yet they do not settle and till the soils - if they did, they could be a great nation. They dauntlessly face their foes, even when outnumbered, yet they also refuse the benefits that could be theirs if they adopted the ways of others and settled down.
"For all that, they are still a very talented people. Their horse warriors are said to be without compare, and some even say that all Jennites share a mystical bond with their mounts. They are also makers of fine jewellery, and almost all of them wear adornments of some kind or another."
"The Kogolors! An interesting folk, though strange in their ways. I have met them but once, and their size never ceased to amaze me. They are so small, yet they do not look like children! For all that, their very nature marks them as hardly children at all. They are truly an industrious folk, living high up in their mountains and underground, fashioning their lovely jewellery, their fascinating contraptions, and their wondrous feats of engineering. Looking at their cities, one would not think that such great masses of stone could be moved by so small a people, but they manage.
"They are a peaceful folk, though our contacts among them have shown us that they are not without enemies. We know they war with the horrid Krugel orcs from time to time, but they also make mention of other foes as well, of other folk who also live underground. This is difficult to conceive, for who would possibly wish to live underground when all the gifts of Xeron lie about us? Such is known only to Xeron Himself, I am afraid. All in all a wonderful people!"
"If you should find yourself in the lands of the Krugel orcs, on Iciria, find yourself a way out as soon as possible! The Krugel orcs are ugly, foul, despicable creatures who delight in pain and suffering, and who know only the destruction of what others hold dear. Nothing more needs to be said of these creatures."
"A chaotic lot they are! Whether its raiding the coasts, fighting amongst themselves, or celebrating in their own towns, the Merry Pirates do not seem to know the meaning of seriousness. If anyone thinks their ports would be easy to raid because they are so disorganised, forget it! In times of danger they are more than willing to band together to defeat a foe. Numerous shipwrecks attest to that.
"A gaily-dressed bunch, the Merry Pirates are excellent sailors, though they lack the guidance that an Immortal such as Xeron could provide them. A friend of mine spent some time among them, and he enjoyed himself so much that he decided to stay there!"
"Some have said that the Milenian people could very well be related to our own, but I do not see that as possible. Cultural similarities aside, they cannot be related to us because, as everyone knows, the world was destroyed after Lhomarr sank into the sea. End of story.
"As a people, the Milenians are enlightened, though sadly not through the guidance of Xeron. They build impressive, but unadorned, public buildings, civic works, statues, and temples - not even one colourful fresco in the lot! They lead regimented lives, in which physical and mental refinement is of paramount importance - much like our own striving to be the best at whatever we do for the good of the nation. They hold great sporting events, respect their numerous Immortals, and have social mobility in their society, such that a commoner might one day aspire to be a Senator, or even the Emperor himself, or so I am told.
"Despite the fact that the Milenians know the concept of citizenship, they only extend this privilege to men; women cannot own property and must tie their prospects to their men - regressive, if you ask me. Also, they actually elect their ruler! Where is the stability and continuity in that, I ask you? This system of electing Senators, who enact the laws, is also fertile ground for corruption. Better trusted experts in the bureaucracy, who are not subject to the sometimes capricious will of the people."
"Another bizarre folk, though one that has some similarities with our own. Like ourselves, the Nithians hold clerics in high regard, though like so many other cultures they worship many Immortals, and not just one. They, like ourselves, understand the need to have a spiritual intermediary between those on high, and mortals, and they respect them appropriately. Even their ruler is a cleric. What is so strange, and almost blasphemous, is that they revere their own ruler, called a pharaoh, as though he himself was an Immortal! This is truly an insult to Immortals, for a mere mortal to raise himself so high above his station. Mark my words, some day the Nithians will pay for it!
"Despite this error in their ways, one can still appreciate the Nithians. They build great monuments to their dead - even whole cities, I am told! It is also said that it is by their magical powers that they are able to thrive in that hideous wasteland they call home, for how else can there be rich fields in such a vast desert? Their warriors are also well-disciplined, and fear nothing. Still, theirs is a very rigid society; a farmer's son is expected to be a farmer, and his son after him. There is no room among them for social advancement, which surely must make the common man suffer."
"The Shahjapurans are fascinating. In their society, everyone is grouped according to social class, all arranged in a distinct hierarchy. It is said that those born in a certain class, or "caste", as they call them, are destined to remain in that social rank. Thus, there is no upward mobility, and everything is static. Those who are at the bottom live horribly, with many often not finding enough to eat, while those at the top live like kings, and have a life of luxury. It is a wonder that the commoners do not revolt.
"Still, Shahjapur is a beautiful land, with majestic forests, inspiring palaces - though not so inspiring as our own, of course - and a very refined culture. Many of the choice spices we import to add a little flavour to our dishes come from here, because we cannot grow enough of our own. Still, they seem to be a misguided people, if only because they do not recognise the authority of Xeron, who created the world in which we all live. This is not to say that they worship false Immortals, far from it, but that they simply do not give Xeron His due."
"Brave warriors one and all, the Tanagoro are a simple folk. They seem content to live in their huts on the verdant savannahs of their homeland, hunting when necessary, and living a leisurely life otherwise. Just because they do not wear armour or use metal, do not assume they are stupid, or lazy. I have heard tales of their wars against the Nithians and the Milenians. The Tanagoro have been pushed back for centuries, beaten down by those around them, yet they refuse to give up. Their warriors are both strong and amazingly swift; it is said that no one can run faster than a Tanagoro warrior.
"Since they are far away, we do not have much contact with them. Perhaps that is for the worst, because, from what we know of them, they are a very spiritual people, with a reverence for their numerous Immortals that we can respect and admire."