THE MURMILLION MEN

APPEARANCE - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - PEOPLE - HOUSING - CLOTHING
DIET - WEAPONS - OCCUPATIONS - GOVERNMENT - PRODUCTION/TRADE
 
NATURAL RESOURCES -
FESTIVALS - HISTORY

In Nybelmar, the War of the Chosen ended with the defeat of the powerful wizard Menemronn, by the Kaŭrrhem and an alliance of three human nations that resisted his reign. But one tribe got corrupted by the power the remnants of Menemronn posed and deceived some humans and as well some elves to become his successors. The leader of these humans was Kyras the Dark who forged through sword and magic a realm to face Korweynites and Kaŭrrhem in the struggle for dominance of East Nybelmar: "The Second Shadow Realm". The descendants of these times were later called Murmillions, which means "Men of the Delms" in Santerran, and even now they form a strong and dangerous nation living in the cursed ruins of Menemronn's fortress.

Appearance. Murmillions are of slender appearance, with pale skin and dark hair which ranges from ash blonde to black. Their lifespan is somewhat longer than the average human and some say that even some elven blood flows through their veins, though of dark alignment. Murmillions are obsessed in gaining power and fame, thinking that this is the way in which they please their main goddess, Mari. She is similar to Thalisien, the God of Dreams in Santerran belief, a God of mind and dreams. Their clothing are mostly made of wool and dyed in dark, however shimmering, colors. Purple and blue are their favourite colors together with gray and wine red.
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Coat of Arms/Sign. The clerics and nobles of the Murmillions use a special kind of writing, based on glyphs - these are supposed to be sacred as their reading/interpretation is the only way in which one can connect with the truth of the Gods or the magical aura, cár'áll. Their coat of arms is a purple banner on which the glyph of Mari, the Glyph of Dreams, is painted. Sometimes, on special occasions, the noble families have the honor of adding on the vertical margins of the banner smaller glyphs that build a statement of wisdom, a "motto" that constitutes that family's signature of pride. Santerran Murmillions have kept the Glyph of Mari but they are painting it on a black banner. They want to point out that Mari is herself merely the manifestation of the Unspoken and that the free Murmillions are following a wrong path, being too much closely linked to Menemronn the Purple and, obviously, his mistakes.
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Territory. Murmillions live in the southern valleys and hillside of the Burning Mountains, in the hills that are now called the "Nightvalleys". Many myths tell about the dark and deep caves that can be found in these mountains and serve them as strongholds for refuge and shelter. Their territories extend till the coasts to the east and west and the plains south to the Oberion-Thaleseth mountains.

The hills of the Oberion Thaleseth pose the southern border to Aca-Santerra and those living there are now part of the High Kingdom though only loosely controlled by the Santerran king. While Free Murmillions and Santerran Murmillions drifted apart over the centuries there are still enough bonds to cause unrest in the northern borders of the High Kingdom, a feared and hated enemy by the Free Murmillions.
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People. Murmillions are a folk of strong will and short temper. In their belief in the Goddess Mari they’re willing to do much which appears weird, arrogant or cruel to other people, but in their own way they can be loyal comrades and warm family members. Murmillions are quite fatalists, as they do believe that some things are meant to happen. For instance this very reason is what stands now between Santerran Murmillions and Free Murmillions. The last great war against Aca-Santerra was started by them as many believed the Year of Darkness would mean the rebirth of the Dark God, Mari's spouse from beyond the world. They were defeated by Asthalon the Black, the only Santerran king said to be aligned to Mari. That's why a lot of Families accepted Santerran rule as being part of that destiny: they were defeated because it was meant this way. Of course, many free Murmillions are now regarding the Santerran Families as "Fallen Families" and they are accusing them of tendencies to "speak the name of the unspoken", giving their "unfree" status as an example of what could happen if one tries to deal directly with the Dark One.

Some wise man once said that Murmillions are split between darkness and light, seeking the one by obeying to the second. The religious rituals of Mari, the main Goddess of Murmillions, are always seemingly chaotic and are very mind-influencing, driving the participants often in states of hysteria, deep meditation or hallucinations.

They often use various rituals to determine the future, but those are more misleading and subtle than the ones known from the priests of Aca-Santerra's Thalisien and are also more detailed and presumably more powerful, if interpreted correctly. Santerrans see Mari more as a Goddess of illusion and insanity than as one of destiny, thus being the antagonist of Thalisien.
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Housing. Murmillions live in so-called “draks” which are houses built and carved into the hillsides and rocks of the mountains often reachable only via one artificial path or road. They serve as towns and fortresses at the same time and are difficult to conquer. Draks are often built into high cliffs and consist in a confusing network of stairways, passages and short connection tunnels. In these draks, often the nobility and craftsmen - which are more or less one and the same - live together with their family, their servants and other aligned families.

The other Murmillions live in small villages scattered over the hills. There, often a family lives from herding sheep and cattle and some basic farming. The houses they live in are halfway dug into the ground and covered with grass and earth as roof. The first room is an open meeting place with a fireplace in its midst around which the family eats and lives. Guests stay here overnight as well. As taverns and inns are rare, this is actually the only way for wanderers to find shelter in the Nightvalleys. From the circular meeting room normally three, sometimes more, doors lead to further rooms, one being the storage room and kitchen, one leading to a narrow stable for the livestock of the family and the last leading to the private chambers. This is usually one big room divided by thin leather or wood. Outside these, farms may have one small garden for vegetables and herbs.
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Clothing. Murmillions dress in crude wool clothes which are, however, specially dyed in mostly earthly and dark colors with a shimmer of brighter colors in them. Over their usually single-coloured skirts or dresses Murmillions - men and women alike - wear black leather vests, jackets, bracelets and belts often decorated with silver. Depending on the weather a wide fur coat wrapped around the body and often only fixed with the belt completes their outfit.

Murmillions also use black leather whenever possible. Black is seen as a pure colour, similar to silver which is related to the stars.

Most of their jewelry, rings, necklaces or bracelets are made of silver. Gold, precious stones - except the dark opal which is highly appreciated - are seen as a sign of unjustifiable arrogance, not worthy of a decent folk.

Men usually wear their dark hair shortcut, with well-kept beards, sometimes, when kept longer, with one or two braids, only seldom long and open. The women wear their hair long and open often kept together with leather straps or hats.

During a war Murmillions dress in black brigandines entrenched with steel plates around the shoulders, a half closed helmet that covers the eyes and nose and is often decorated with various figures or feathers to make the warrior appear higher. They bear a round shield and a scythar.
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Diet. Murmillions live mainly from their livestock, eating the meat and making cheese and other milk products. Grain for bread is also produced and every family has a small, private garden which adds some vegetables to their daily menu from time to time. Over time their demand for more food sources made them import food from the southern regions along the Jerrah and even fish from the islands of the Santerrans.
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Weapons. Murmillions are great mountain warriors. Most of them fight on foot, but noblemen may invest in a mountain horse to ride on the battlefield. They use mainly spears, pikes and axes.

Their most famous weapon is the scythar, the so-called "bladeaxe" which is used by nearly anyone who has enough money. Its blade is curved like a sickle, however at its tip a thorn points forward again. The bow between the thorn and the rest of the blade is used to fend off enemy swords and the thorn itself - as is the blade - is strong enough to pierce most kinds of armor.

Santerrans later adopted this traditional equipment, including the scythar, and hired Murmillions as mercenaries in their wars against Korweyn. They have exchanged however the round shield for a great rectangular one and added several light throwing spears to a warrior's equipment. Later a caste of their own elite warriors would bear the name "Murmillions" for their expertise in ground war. This is also a sign of how high Santerrans value Murmillion skills in warfare, no matter if they are their allies or their foes.
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Occupations. Murmillions are excellent smiths and craftsmen and this occupation is held in great respect amongst them (their nobility is actually formed mainly by these criteria). They believe that the mastery of iron and craftsmanship are magically related and different noble families pretend to hold different secrets of linking magic to their products. However, they view the magic of their artifacts as working only for the one for whom the artifact was made. Thus their master warriors always have personalized weapons (the form is basically the same, but the various decorative elements differ, as well as the glyphs, which are usually embedded on the blades). Also many Murmillions are wearing secretely (under their clothes) various silver amulets inscribed with glyphs, believing that these are helping them not to interrupt their contact with the world of Mari.

Besides the noble families, there are also the commoners which deal with farming and livestock keeping.

A third social class is that of the clergy, priests and priestesses of Mari and all her manifestations. They are closely related to the noble families, each cult of Mari being involved in seeking the best way to connect the "World of Mari" (that of Dreams and Power) with the "World of Exile" (that which is usually referred to as "real life"). Also the clerics are keepers of the written knowledge (although every respectable noble family keeps a private library in their draks), which is traditionally printed as glyphs on leather scrolls - since the Santerran conquest though they started to use paper as well but not for the very important texts.

There is no obvious segregation of sexes amongst Murmillions though it appears that women can only be found in dealing with housekeeping or various modes of entertaining, or as a part of the clergy cults.
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Government. Murmillion's society may resemble to that of a tribal type, as there are many noble families, each with their own traditions, structured by a clan model. However they are ruled by a King who is always selected from one of the noble families by a council formed by representatives of all the religious cults. Once a King or Queen is chosen no one has the right to challenge him/her until death occurs. After the "Year of Darkness" Santerran Murmillions have given up to this tradition and accepted the rule of the Santerran High King.
They majority stayed autarchic though as Santerrans only intervene when civil unrest poses a threat to their dominance in the region.

The King has the right to enforce the general laws of the land but he cannot interfere in the various noble families' businesses as long as they don't stop paying taxes or supplying the King's "Drakkars" (his personal army) with soldiers. The main duty of the King in times of peace is to arbitrate the arguments between the noble families and prevent any signs of civil unrest.
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Production/Trade. Originally, Murmillions are reclusive people, doing little trade and almost never engaging in peaceful relations with other realms. However, since the Santerran conquest, the south-western Families began to change their attitude and be more open to various forms of exchange while still maintaining much of their old traditions. Some of the Families kept some contacts with the Free Murmillions (for acquiring amber or black opals in exchange for paper or exotic foods) but keeping them in secret - mainly for gaining an "advantage" over the other Families. They also trade some of their weapons and other various products of their craftsmanship to the rest of Aca-Santerra.
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Natural Resources. The lands of the Murmillions are formed by mountains and high hills, with a range of volcanoes (many of them still active - the Burning Mountains) far in the east. Besides small portions of farmlands and vineyards on the high hills, there can be found, up in the mountains, various mining sites producing mainly iron ore, silver, amber and opals.
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Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Murmillions worship Mari, the Goddess of Dreams, in all her manifestations. They have many cults each worshipping Mari in their own way, as they believe that the Goddess is present in everything that men are, or are doing. They believe that by dreaming they touch with Mari's very essence, thus many dreams are thought to be prophetic. They also believe in the existence of a second God - thought to be the "husband" of Mari, though his name is never spoken and his presence never revered. As he is the one that holds everything, yet he is nothing but "an absence causing Mari's presence". However, the Murmillions' attraction to the black colour seems to be related to this absent God, thus one can interpret the wearing of this colour as a means of acknowledging his existence in silence, preparing the way for Mari's manifestations,

This religious system prevents any grand festivals, as each day, and mostly each night, is connected to the sacred world through Mari's manifestations. However, they celebrate some moments of the year as well as the main moments of their lives but never outside their families. Also the choosing of a new King determines a week of leisure throughout all the lands of the Murmillions.

The only exception to this are the eclipses the priesthood of Mari is very skilled in determining. This is seen as a sign of the Unspoken coming close to the world and is accompanied by several days of frenetic festivals and fanatic worshipping until the very day of the event. These signs have been sometimes used as good reasons to start wars against the neighboring nations, be it the Korweynites or, later, Santerrans. In the recent centuries, however, the political impact of such occurrences has ceased.
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THE ERA OF FLIGHT
(UNKNOWN - 5.400 B.S.)
9000 b.S.
to 5500 b.S.
The Rise of the Murmillions
Kyras the Dark establishes a new kingdom in Epheran'ypheró on the remains of Menemronn's fortress, seeking to resurrect the lost powers of the Chosen. In later times they'd be called Murmillions. Their society is basically a military one and they start to wage war against the neighbouring territories, claiming the regions west of the Burning Mountains.
  

5500 b.S.
to 3200 b.S.
The Arkhaeon Guild
The rise of the strange cult of Teor Kunran, the Arkhaeon Guild, takes place in these years.

THE ERA OF MYTHS
(YEARS 4.300 B.S. - 3.170 B.S.)
ca. 3200 b.S. The Defeat of Korweyn
Many wars have been waged between the empire of Korweyn and the Murmillion kingdom, called "The Second Shadow" (Realm). The Korweyn Empire was already in its decline though, so more and more lands fell to Murmillions until they extended their rule to Eypesh river. Murmillions defeat the last emperor of Korweyn near this river and thus destroy their greatest enemy. However after this grand victory they suffer their own decline and soon most of the conquered lands fall into anarchy.
ca. 3200 b.S.
to 1647 b.S.
Murmillion Peak of its Power
The Kingdom of Murmillions establishes its traditions and culture. This is a long period of relative peace for the kingdom, none of the Murmillion Kings or Queens laying claim over the neighbouring lands that lay in chaos. The turmoil following the destruction of the empire has not left Murmillions unharmed though. While their culture and religion prospers, economy and military slowly becomes corrupted by intrigues and rivalries among various opposing factions.
THE CURRENT AGE
(YEARS 2.970 B.S. - 1.667 A.S.)
1700 b.S. The Fall of the Murmillion Kingdom
The last king of the Murmillions leaves the kingdom in a power vacuum and various factions begin to fight for the throne. The kingdom falls into complete disorder with each noble Family only caring for their own advantages. Poverty and hunger strike the kingdom so the Murmillions only concentrate on internal affairs not bothering about a new power setting its foot onto the continent: Aca-Santerra founds its first cities and outposts along the Jerrah river and the coastal regions.
  

1649 b.S. The Reign of Asthalon the Black
According to Murmillion interpretation a solar eclipse determines a religious movement towards the Dark One, the husband of Mari, and the Murmillions gather once more to wage war. Asthalon, son of Narn the Blue of Delvynnar, claims command over the Santerran forces gathering in the besieged city of Delvynnar to fend off the attacking hordes.

With the help of the gods he manages to hold the city untl the end of darkness and defeat the Murmillions in a huge land battle one year later. At the command of the Highpriestess of Barkhas he rides alone into the corelands of the Murmillions to seek the legendary throne of Menemronn and his deeds on his way become famous in the "Tales of the Stoneking". Asthalon is said to defend the throne of darkness until the end of all times.

Under his short rule - he only reigns the combined forces of Santerra for one and a half year - and in these desperate times the Goddess Mari, formerly a Goddess of the Murmillions, only becomes one of the Aca-Tar as counterbalance of the fanatic belief the free tribes of the Murmillions share.
  

298 The "Oath of the Three Seakings"
The lords of Therigal, Zigorath and Delvynnar sign a treaty to counter the threat of the Korweynites to the west and the Murmillions to the north. The footholds on the continent are entrenched, the fleet increased in size.

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