Yoreiq is a six-isle tropical island chain off to the Southwest of Le’raana in the middle of the warm Tuor Ocean. The largest island is the namesake of the chain, Yoreiq, and is also the island that is the most populated. The isles are all rather close together and travel between them is done by canoe. The distance between Yoreiq and Le'raana is comparable to the distance between California and Hawaii.
While the isles have been populated for centuries, Le'raanans have only recently made contact with the Yoreiqi. The number of foreigners that voyage there is relatively small, given the only mode of reaching the isles is by ship. The isles are a two-month journey from Le’raana—if there are no complications, of course.
Most of the villages can be found along the coastline, preferring to be out near the sea as opposed to within the dense jungle that covers most of the island. There are a number of very large, dangerous predators within the jungle, some as large as horses. Big cats, wild dogs, and vicious boars are just a sample of some of the beasts lurking beyond the coastline.
The isles, in addition to being tropical, are also mountainous, and the Southern portion of the main Yoreiq island contains the Eiba Mountain, an active volcano that has been steadily oozing lava and helping to build the island. Currently, the volcano poses no threat; the villagers know not to build too close to it.
Ainu is the largest known village in Yoreiq, and it is the only part of Yoreiq that really sees outsiders. A port-side village, this is where any ships traveling to Yoreiq dock, and is thus the first part of the island any visitors will see: a modest village near the ocean where the homes are raised off the ground, huts that can be easily built and rebuilt in response to the storms that often visit the isles.
Yoreiq's weather is generally fair and pleasantly warm, generally sunny with a daily rain shower in the evenings. While they don't really experience a change in the seasons, there are some weather changes at different times of the year. Winter through spring brings the heaviest storms, which can cause flooding, and while typhoons are rare, they do sometimes hit. Generally, the isles only get hit by the tail end of a typhoon and rarely get struck by the full force of one. Tsunamis are also an uncommon phenomena but they are not unheard of.
1. Yoreiqi People
The people of Yoreiq (called Yoreiqi) are dark-skinned with jet-black hair distinguished with bright, vivid streaks of color in it. There is a very wide range of possible colors that they might have, but neons are common. Eye colors tend to range anywhere from dark browns to light browns, with amber (and even yellow) being rare. Other colors (like blues, grays, violets, reds, and greens) do not naturally occur in natives.
Most notable about them, however, is that brilliant wings are common among the Yoreiqi. The size and colors vary from person to person, some mimicking the colors and designs of the tropical birds that live in the jungles. Many Yoreiqi are even capable of flight, though not generally for great distances. (Some, for example, can use their flight to island hop.) Not all Yoreiqi are born with wings, but people are not treated differently based on whether or not they have them. People with wings often need extra help, however, as they cannot reach their wings to groom them on their own and because it can often be difficult traversing the thick jungle with them.
The Yoreiqi are a tall, strong people due to their rich island diet. The average height for men is 6'2" while the average height for women is 5'10". They are a fit and sturdy people, and obesity is rare. Yoreiqi tend to have thick hair that is commonly straight (though curly hair is not unusual), almond-shaped eyes, and rounded facial structures. They do not grow much body hair but may grow facial hair.
The Yoreiqi are a cooperative and communal hunter-gatherer culture with a strong focus on teamwork and family. They police themselves by shunning those individuals who display poor or selfish behavior. More severe crimes are punished through exile and, in rare and severe cases such as murder or sexual assault, death.
There is not much by the way of personal belongings. All belongings are there to be shared and, as a result, there is very little theft.
Paternity does not matter and while children know their mother, many children do not know who their biological father is--nor is that important. The village raises the children and no one cares what child belongs to who, because the children belong to the community. As a result, it's common for children to wander amongst the village homes and a single child may have multiple mothers and fathers, their father(s) being the men they have bonded to in that fashion. Their mother (or mothers) also need not necessarily be the one that gave birth to them. Blood ties do not matter to the Yoreiqi, for blood is not what makes someone family.
The sick, injured, and elderly are all well cared for. No one goes hungry.
Yoreiqi traditionally greet each other (and foreigners) by pressing their noses and foreheads together.
Yoreiqi names tend to be vowel heavy and favor consonants with "K" and "L" sounds. Yoreiqi also do not take on family names. Examples of Yoreiqi names include: Kaula, Kalani, Hika, Mahina, Alika, Aolani, Kana, Wikikona, and Leloi to name a few. Feel free to make up names that sound Yoreiqi or, if you're lost, Polynesian names are a good place to draw inspiration.
The Yoreiqi are an egalitarian people, and thus lack strict gender roles. While more women tend to care for home and hearth and more men tend to be hunters, no one is locked into a particular role based on their gender. They only care about one's ability to perform their job. Thus, anyone can be a hunter or a gatherer, anyone can tend the home and hearth, and everyone is free to move among those roles as it suits them.
Yoreiqi are open and accepting of transgender people and non-binary people. The Yoreiqi word for non-binary people is maha, and they are considered good luck to their village. They are viewed as a third gender that is somewhere between male and female, a mix of the two, a fluid fluxuation between genders, or an entirely different thing all its own; it really all depends on the individual. They are commonly found in roles as educators, spiritual advisors, and even shamans. Some maha prefer gendered or neutral pronouns, while others don't particularly care what they're called. While many maha present in an androgynous fashion, not all do, and they are quite diverse in their presentation.
It is difficult to physically transition in Yoreiq, so most transitioning is social. That's not to say it's impossible, however, and there are powerful shamans said to be capable of such transformations.
Yoreiqi have no stigma against different sexualities, and bisexuality and pansexuality are very common. They are a sex positive society and believe that sex is a wonderful thing to be shared. Virginity is not viewed as sacred, no more special than one's first time doing anything else. Fertility, on the other hand, is prized.
While romance often comes with sex, romance is not necessary for sex, and Yoreiqi are rather good at separating the two. Casual sex is viewed as healthy, natural, and common. Sexual assault is almost unheard of; it rarely happens, and when it does, it is dealt with swiftly and severely. The punishment is death.
Though the Yoreiqi do not link romance with sex, romantic relationships do happen, but they are almost always open rather than exclusive; Yoreiqi don't have a concept of monogamy. People often live together and share their lives with one another, but moving apart or moving out of their hut is not seen as a negative thing; they generally remain friends with one another.
Elemental magic is rare. Yoreiqi magic tends to focus on shamanic abilities and healing, and they use blood magic to accomplish this. Yoreiqi blood magic is not about causing harm or destruction (though it may be shocking to outsiders) and it is never used to hurt others; rather, it's about life and healing, about connecting with the earth and with each other in the most primal way. It is used in healing rituals, and slain prey animals are honored for their sacrifice, their blood used in various rituals.
All Yoreiqi receive intricate, filigree-like tattoos once they reach adulthood at the age of 15, as a rite of passage. These tattoos are done in black and rusty-red inks, and they create delicate patterns over the Yoreiqi's face (especially the chin, lips, and under the eyes), torso, arms, thighs, and buttocks. The level of detail, and the amount of coverage this tattoo provides, varies from person to person and is as unique as the individual. In addition to serving as a rite of passage that marks a person's journey into adulthood, the tattoos are simply considered beautiful and erotic.
The tattoos are also unique in that the process (which uses a bone chisel and a mallet) leaves deep grooves in the skin, so the tattoos are all textured. The tattoos are never organic in nature; they never depict actual plants or animals. They are stylized and abstract in nature, mostly lines and swirls.
In addition to the tattooing, Yoreiqi also use dyes to stain their skin, forming intricate patterns. This method is non-permanent and generally done for ritualistic purposes.
As far as clothing goes, Yoreiqi use light-weight fabrics. They commonly wear brightly colored sarongs, wraps, and loin cloths, often with intricate patterns. Yoreiqi go barefoot, and so their feet are tough enough to handle their terrain.
Both men and women may go topless; breasts are not considered to be inherently sexual.
Bones, feathers, and shells are popular as jewellery, and scrimshaw (or bone carving) is a popular art form. Flowers are also heavily incorporated into their style as leis and crowns, valued both for their beauty and color and as a way of perfuming. Elaborate, ceremonial headdresses are worn on special occasions.
Hairstyles are varied and diverse. Men, women, and maha alike often keep their hair long and well cared for, though those with active roles such as hunters often prefer to keep their hair short or tied up and out of the way.
Yoreiq is fertile and food is plentiful, and so the Yoreiqi diet is rich and diverse. There is plenty of fish to be had and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms, nuts, wild fowl and pork, fish, berries, coconuts, mangoes, pineapple, guava, taro, sugarcane, seaweed...these are only a small sampling of the foods they have naturally available to them.
A staple food of the Yoreiqi is poa, which is made by mashing cooked taro with water until it is as dough-like or soup-like as desired.
One of the most popular forms of entertainment is surfing. Both men and women participate in this activity. Boards are cut from strong trees and then used to ride the waves, with people either standing, squatting, or laying on their boards.
Other popular sports and recreational activities include boxing, wrestling, spear throwing, canoeing, and archery. Children also are known to play with kites, and poi dancing is very popular.
10. Perception of Outsiders
Outsiders are adored!
The Yoreiqi are a welcoming, hospitable culture that loves people, and outsiders are a curiosity to them. Outsiders are treated with the same respect and hospitality that they would show one of their own.
The Yoreiqi use their environment to create their tools. Weapons generally consist of spears, bows and arrows, clubs, and knives. Marlin bills are often used as the blade of a spear, and clubs and knives are often lined with shark's teeth, though many clubs are simply made from stone. Spears and pikes are the primary weapons of the Yoreiqi.
The trader's tongue, or "Common", is in fact not a common language in Yoreiq, but that is not to say there aren't bilingual individuals. Some traders in Ainu have picked it up in order to conduct business with traders from overseas, but as travelers have only started coming over recently, and as contact is scarce (most islanders have had little to no contact with outsiders), the vast majority of people on the isles speak and understand only Yoreiqi, a tonal language.
These weapons are hunting weapons, as warfare between tribes is almost never heard of. Similarly, the transport of weapons into Yoreiq is forbidden and Yoreiqi will not deal with merchants attempt to bring them in. They must remain on their ships, and any merchants caught smuggling them in are quickly sent packing.
Yoreiqi homes are simple thatch huts that are built raised off the ground. Most villages are built outside the thick jungle, though some tribes choose to live within it.
As Yoreiqi lack ceramic and metal, they use natural materials (such as gourds) to cook with. Much of their cooking is done using hot stones (generally volcanic rock and granite, so it will not split under high temperatures) rather than direct fire so as not to burn these materials. A pit is dug into the earth, a fire is built with embers, and when the rocks are glowing hot, the food is put into the pit, often wrapped in banana leaves or accompanied with ginger. Whole animals may also be cooked in these pits and hot rocks are often inserted into their abdominal cavities to better cook them. The pit is then covered with wet palm leaves and left to steam.
Yoreiqi have no organized religion, but spirituality is an everyday, casual part of their lives. Tribes have shamans and wise women who serve as healers and spiritual mediums between this world and the next. They also believe in various nature gods and goddesses and have many deities for all sorts of different natural phenomena, everything from thunder to rain to earth to the ocean and volcanoes.
They believe that all life originated from Mt. Eiba, the largest volcano on Yoreiq. They believe the fire goddess Rokalele formed man from its fire and ashes, and created Yoreiq itself from the magma. Fire is considered a powerful creative force.
Other common deities include Wokilea, god of weather; Palu, goddess of Earth; Kai, goddess of the oceans; and Hakile, god of the sky. Koa, god of war, is presently an obscure god with a bloody history. In ancient times, human sacrifice wasn't uncommon. Prisoners and people who broke a law were prime candidates for sacrifice to Koa, especially before a battle. This is a long-outlawed practice.
They also practice ancestor veneration. Deceased relatives are honored, and are also believed to be capable of helping and advising their family even in death. In addition to birthdays, the anniversary of a relative's death is also recognized yearly, with small shrines created on the shore in honor of their life, left there for the tide to wash them away. Sometimes, relatives can even become minor deities in the eyes of those who honor them.
Yoreiqi have a number of celebrations and feasts. Both births and deaths are celebrated, though deaths are a more somber affair with a ritual of sending the bodies out to sea. Afterwards, there is a feast and a celebration in honor of the individual's life. There are dances to appease the fire goddess Rokalele, and summer celebrations that bring the tribes together for surfing competitions. Truly, if these is an excuse to feast and celebrate, the Yoreiqi will do it.
Yoreiqi also believe in a variety of spirits. Yoreiqi spirits tend to be neutral entities; like any force of nature, they are neither good nor evil, but can be benevolent or malevolent in the right circumstances. Even the most dangerous spirit can be helpful--while still being is also predatory and unpredictable, and any spirit has the potential to be dangerous if trifled with.
That said, Yoreiqi have no concept of good or evil, and while there can be malevolent, dangerous spirits, they have no concept of demons.
Yoreiq is a united kingdom lead by their supreme ruler: a single King, Queen, or Crown ("Crown" being their gender-neutral term for the position, as maha are just as eligible). Every ruler can trace their bloodline back to the first Queen of Yoreiq, Queen Elikapeka, who played a major role in unifying the warring tribes in the early, bloody days of Yoreiq.
Beneath the supreme ruler is the royal family, which is diverse and extensive. The eldest heir of the current ruler is first in line for the throne, followed by their siblings should an heir not be produced (or die, or be otherwise unfit). Cousins are last in line, but anyone with royal blood is eligible. A ruler's favored paramours often occupy high seats in the court. Their children, however, are automatically considered to be of royal blood, and the first child born becomes the next heir to the throne. This is the only time in which paternity matters in their culture, and as such while the ruler may have multiple lovers, their lovers are expected to remain faithful solely to them. This ensures that they always know any children produced are of royal blood. Typically, this matters more to male rulers than to female.
Beneath them, Yoreiq is divided up into many tribes that stretch over the isles, and each tribe has its own governing body and laws. Each tribe is lead by a chieftain, who can be of any gender, and who is often trained from birth for the position. They are the children of the previous chieftain, and take over the position once their parent dies, retires, or is otherwise unfit to lead. Unlike the position of King/Queen/Crown, chieftains may be removed from their position if they are unfit and a new chieftain may be elected in their place.
Below the chieftains are the spiritual leaders and shamans, who oversee religious rites and rituals and who are often experts in a craft. Commoners come below them, and make up the majority of the population.
While Yoreiqi traditionally have no concept of money, as they live off of a trade and barter system, they do pay labor taxes to their chieftains, who pay taxes to their ruler. These taxes come in the form of food, clothing, and other goods used to support their ruler. They are collected weekly by a local overseer. Money has started to become more popular in the last ten years as foreign trade grows, but it is mostly found in the trade cities.
In the past, Yoreiq was a militaristic society. Currently, the only bloodshed occurs on hunts.
Yoreiq does not officially have a military, but each tribe does have their share of warriors proficient in martial arts and weapons. Today, it is more of a formal and precautionary measure; warriors participate in hunts and rituals and rarely see any actual combat, outside of dealing with crime. Most crime is concentrated in the trade and port cities.
Yoreiqi originally migrated to the isles around 1,500 years ago, and have been living in seclusion up until a little over a decade ago. Where they came from is lost to time, and as far as the Yoreiqi are concerned, they have always been there.
In the early days, the Yoreiqi were divided and warring. Land feuds were common. War ripped the land and tribes apart. Blood tinted the ocean foam pink.
It all came to a head over 800 years ago. A notorious warrior named Elikapeka gathered up an army of her own to resist the violence and unite the tribes. After years of war, the fighting came to an end. The tribes united under Elikapeka, and she came to be Queen by popular demand. She worked with the chieftains of the time to create the system of government that Yoreiq still abides by today.
Yoreiq was "discovered" by people from Le'raana a little over a decade ago. On their way to Essyrn, a group of Adelan merchants were blown extremely off course during a severe storm. Luckily for them, the warring ways of the Yoreigi were long past, and they were welcomed with warmth and curiosity.