L'npei

History

The songs of the L’npei tell of a mythic age when all of Atelon was their domain.  They were a primitive race who hunted for their food and lived a nomadic existence in unstable hunting packs.  After an eon, the came into their midst.  Initially, the Wanderers were few and occupied mountainous areas that were of no interest to the L’npei.  Eventually, the Wanderers spread to the hunting lands in the lowlands.  They were well organized, and using their powerful weapons, drove the L’npei from their best hunting grounds.

For a long time after that, the L’npei existed in the margins of Atelon, in the forests and the jungles.  Those in the western forests came under the protection of the Temple at that is dedicated to the god named . The Mythic Age ends with the emergence of and his founding of the Six Kingdoms.

In ancient times, there were six great L’npei kingdoms.  The Song of Shirzal tells the story of their founding.  A hero named unified the L’npei bands of the north and, with help from the , drove the back into the mountains. The Guardians directed Shirzal to dedicate the lands from Lake Koros to the eastern mountains to sacred use.  On instruction from the Guardian Lord Protector, Shirzal allotted the conquered lands to his L’npei bands and gave each band a special mix of sacred plants to grow and eat.  With this change in their diet, each band developed its distinctive, unique coloration.

By allotting lands to each band, introducing sacred foods grown only in their lands and selecting foods that gave each band a distinctive color, the Guardian Lord Protector transformed 108 nomadic L’npei bands into the stable of the Six Kingdoms.

After died, the Guardian Lord built a shrine city on the shore of Lake Koros and called it Kempelani (G-d’s Gathering Place).  Each was allotted land within Kempelani to build a compound and for a garden of its sacred plants.  Each Gens sent members to the Guardian Lord’s school in Kempelani, so that L’npei priests could be trained to serve .

Later, the Guardian Lord selected L’npei from each to form six Sacred Gens to settle in the Kempelani lands.  In time, these Sacred Gens became the noble houses of the L’npei kingdoms, supplying leaders, priests and later, Taikahir Bringers.

kin settled in 36 west of Lake Koros and became the Kingdom of Vempelani.  The 12 Gens of the Kala River valley became the Kingdom of Pundri.  The 36 Gens east of the mountains and south of the Dunafolda River became the Kingdom of D’Mak.  The 24 Gens of the south formed three kingdoms.  These were the Kingdom of Lappi along the upper Inari River, the Kingdom of Hadad along the lower Inari and the southeastern coast, and the Kingdom of Jarvela along the southwestern coast and the Morer River valley.

The Kingdoms existed for millennia in this form.  In the east, Pundri and D’Mak coexisted peaceably along their broad river border.  Pundri’s main territory was isolated from the Gornarod by hundreds of kilometers of forest, so conflict between them was rare.  If the Gornarod pushed too aggressively against the bands, Pundri would respond, but otherwise Pundri was at peace throughout this epoch.

D’Mak bordered both the Schodni and Darjevka mountains, although both borders were buffered by forests that, like those of the north, were inhabited by bands of .  The Schodni Gornarod aggressively raided D’Mak, so a low level of conflict persisted on D’mak’s western border.  D’Mak’s relations with Kedmah and the Darjevka Workings were better and generally peaceful, though certainly not friendly.

Hadad and Lappi had an undefined border area that was the source of regular conflict between them.  In addition, the allegiance of the border to the Houses of Lap and Had were weak, so that wars were regularly fought to control these Gens.  Lappi also sits at the mouth of a complex of valleys cut into the Darjevka and Schodni mountains by the Guer, Modranie and Sonse rivers.  Throughout this period, there was a constant, intense conflict between Gornarod and L’npei for control of these valleys.

L’npei dominance of Atelon’s lowlands was upset when , the apostate Guardian Destroyer of Atelon, established himself as protector of the .  He waged war against the L’npei and the for centuries.  Most of these wars were fought in the lands of the D’Mak Gens.  Ultimately, M'Maoulek found allies with powerful weapons – the citizens of the Lost City of Amtirai.  The allies of M'Maoulek used their weaponry to defeat the Gens of the D’mak Kingdom and their technology to destroy the sacred lands of each Gens.  The Gens of D’mak were virtually exterminated.  Three Gens survived in the Banakur Forest.  Remnants of the other 33 Gens live on in Kempelani in their Gens Compounds.  The lost Gens of D’mak and the still dream of returning home and reclaiming their lost birthright.

The Six Kingdoms

Pundri is the northernmost and most primitive of the Six Kingdoms created by and his generals.  In shape it resembles a bolt, resting upside down on its head.  The bolt head is a ribbon of lowlands beginning on the eastern coast at the mouth of the Dunafolda and extending 180 km inland along the Dunafolda’s north bank.  The body of the bolt is a broad swath of cleared lowlands on both sides of the Kala River that extends upriver 2400 km from the Kala River mouth.  It has a population of 6.7 million inhabitants.

The Sacred Kingdom of Kempelani was the last of the L’npei kingdoms to be established.  Unlike the Six Kingdoms, did not establish Kempelani.  Shirzal dedicated the lands between Lake Koros and the Brissa Gap to .  It was the Guardian Lord Protector of Atelon who founded the sacred City of Kempelani and assigned lands to the Sacred Gens of each of the Six Kingdoms of Vempelani, Pundri, D’Mak, Lappi, Hadad and Jarvela.

Physical Appearence

The L’npei are reptilians averaging two meters in height.  Their skin is covered with feathers rather than scales.  Their bodies are symmetrical and they walk erect.  L’npei have six limbs consisting of two powerful legs, two powerful lower arms and two smaller upper arms that are short and somewhat weaker.  L’npei have three digits on their feet and hands set in a directly opposing fashion.  Their hands are free of feathers and are covered with a smooth skin.  Each digit has vestigial remains of claws except for the upper hands which have long, very sharp claws, used for eating.  L’npei arms and legs tend to be shorter than human's and their torsos tend to be longer.

The body feathers of L’npei range in color from white through various yellows and buffs to a dark brown.  Body feathers tend to be of a uniform color although some mottling may occur.  The feathers that cover the head, neck and shoulders are very colorful and distinctive.  In addition, some L’npei have a distinctive feather crest while others create the distinctiveness by selective plucking of head feathers.  Ordinary L’npei pluck their tail feathers, but Taikahir Bringers and high officials grow long luxuriant tails that they drape over the left shoulder, across the chest and around the right lower arm.

Gens Characteristics

Each has its own unique pattern and color of head and neck feathers.  Typically, a Gens will have two colors, one of which is the common color of its kingdom.  A few Gens, mostly located in the south, have three or more colors.  The Sacred Gens have white feathers mixed in the other colors of their kingdoms.

Kingdom

Basic Crest Feathers Color

Pundri

Blue

D’Mak

Green

Vempelani

Red

Lappi

Yellow and Orange

Hadad

Orange and Purple

Jarvela

Black and Red

Clothing and Military Gear

The basic L’npei garment is a knee length tunic of coarse, heavy cloth.  It is fastened at the shoulders and under each set of arms.  In warm weather, the L’npei go without clothes or with a light version of the basic tunic. 

The Gens

The basic political and social unit of the L’npei is the .  The Gens bears some resemblance to the human clan or tribe, but with much stronger social and economic connection. Each Gens is strongly associated by tradition, diet and social bonds with a particular area of .  At the core of a Gen's lands is a sacred garden of the Gen's food plants.  Food from the garden is used in ceremonies and the garden supplies the seeds for cultivation of the Gen's fields.  Each Gens has its own unique , a mixture of dried fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.  It is the Gensmeal that gives each L’npei Gens the distinctive coloring of its headcrest.  The amount of Gensmeal required to maintain a L’npei’s headcrest is small, not more than a few ounces per week.  The Gensmeal is eaten ritually once per week, following a short purification fast.  Some Gens eat the Gensmeal unprepared, like a granola.  Others grind it to a power and drink it mixed with water.  Still others make a flour of the grain and nuts and bake it in the form of a small flat cake.

Brooding

The L’npei are asexual and in the wild, each will go through the matriarch phase during its lifetime.  In the matriarch phase, a L’npei begins to molt its feathers. When the molt is complete, the matriarch will have a series of patches on her skin where the outer layers have dissolved.  The matriarchs will rub these patches against each other to exchange genetic material and after fertilization, an embryo will begin to form.  The matriarch then hibernates while the embryos brood.  During the brooding process, the strongest of the embryos will kill and consume the other broodlings so that, at the end, the matriarch is brooding only one.

Among the , the brooding process is more controlled.  The matriarchs are housed in a brooding camp and fed sufficient quantities of food to ensure that they have an optimal weight for brooding.  Warriors are brooded longer than others so the warrior matriarchs begin with a higher weight and have a separate portion of the brooding camp reserved for them.  Most L’npei enter into the matriarch phase of the life cycle three or four times during their lives.  Among the Gens, the warrior matriarchs have been able to prolong this phase and devote a significant portion of their life cycle to brooding warriors.

Economic Activity

The are primarily pastoral.  The main economic activity of the Gens is the tending of herds of livestock.  A small amount of cultivation takes place in the immediate vicinity of the Gens administrative center, but this is devoted entirely to the production of . 

The L’npei have no cities or urban areas to speak of.  Each Gens has an administrative center with a small compound dedicated to .  Historically, its primary functions were to process, store and to distribute and to brood and raise young L’npei to adulthood. The small amount of commerce among the L’npei also takes place at the Gens administrative center.

Most L’npei tend the herds and live a nomadic life.  Each herd follows a pre-established route which begins and ends at the capital.  The duration of the circuit depends upon the particular livestock in the herd and the time it takes for the young animals to reach maturity.  The circuits are staggered so that a herd arrives at the administrative center each week for butchering and to provide fiber and hides for manufacture into cloth and leather goods.

Historically, the herds and the bands that accompanied them were small.  This practice is still commonly followed in Vempelani, Hadad and Jarvela.  In the kingdoms which are in contact with the United Councilate States however, the demands of war have modified the traditional custom.  There, each herd is large enough to support a war band in addition to the traditional group of herders who guide and care for the animals.  The L’npei believe that this practice strengthens the cohesion of the war band and hardens it to the rigors of war.  The herd provides the war band with its primary source of food and the war band spends its time in war training and preparation.

The L’npei have limited resource gathering and craft skills. The primary craft activity within the involves the production of simple household items for cooking, eating and sleeping, basic building materials, garments and weapons of war. 

All produce animal fiber which is spun into yarn and woven into cloth, as well as hides which are tanned and fashioned into a variety of objects.  Pundri, Lappi and Hadad harvest timber and do extensive working in wood.  All of the other Gens also have woodworkers but their activity is limited to more basic items.  Some of the Gens raise plants for which also produce fiber.  These Gens spin that fiber into yarn and weave it as well.  All of the Gens make high quality leather goods. 

Most building materials are of wood, canvas and leather.  All of the pastoral L’npei live in temporary, movable shelters and this is also the preferred form of shelter within the Gens administrative center.  Storage buildings and official residences are built of a combination of wood, fired brick and river stone. 

The do not smelt metal and their metal working skills are very basic.  Merchants from Hadad and Tasavara (the Pundri port) travel to Kedmah to trade for Gornarod metal objects and a similar trade takes place in Korslik.

E'lani and the Taikahir

Each Gens administrative center has a compound devoted to the worship of .  The compound is staffed entirely by L’npei priests, all of whom are from the except for the senior priests who come from the Sacred Gens in Kempelani.  In times before , the priests served the rituals of worship, identified and recruited likely candidates for the priesthood and filled the religious needs of the Gens.  The more adept were trained at Kempelani and occasionally one would go from Kempelani to serve E’lani in .

After introduced the weapons and technologies of the into his armies, the established the Hospodars of Taikahir in Kempelani as a counter measure.  Since that time, each identifies promising young L’npei, who are sent to the Gens compound in Kempelani for training in .  When they return to the Gens, some are assigned to war bands, some remain in the administrative center as part of the Healers Hospodar at E’lani’s Compound and a few from each Hospodar maintain a small school within E'lani’s Compound for preliminary training of pupils.

Military

The basic L’npei military unit is a war band of 90 fighters, each band led by a respected warrior.   When the young warriors complete their adolescence, they are formed them into bands and assigns them to a herd.  The band follows the herd for a number of circuits.  During this time, the band is hardened by the rigors of nomadic life, and frequently experiences some conflict with bands of raiders.  Over time, the band coalesces around its leader as a unit and is ready for war.

Usually, 2 to 7 bands of varying experience are combined into a Pack, which is led by a Hero of the Sacred Gens.  A Pack will frequently have one or more Taikahir Bringers accompany it to war.

The L’npei are aggressive but undisciplined fighters.  A warrior carries a weapon in each of his fighting arms and a small buckler for protection in one of his eating hands.  Since they lack advanced metalworking skills, most are armed with trade swords, war clubs and melee weapons improvised from metal trade implements or edged weapons looted from a battlefield.

Warriors cover the tunic with a light weight cloth or leather war vest, a sleeveless garment with a high collar held closed by side straps.  Generally, the war vest extends to mid thigh in front and back, but is split on the sides for freedom of movement.  An open basketwork of leather straps on the side protects while permitting free movement.  Older, experienced war bands affix irregular bits of metal to their war vests in the form of scale mail.  War band leaders and champions have more regular, worked scale plates obtained from trade with the Gornarod or Rapani.  L’npei wear no head protection but frequently carry a small buckler in one eating arm that is used to deflect missiles and blows aimed to the head.  L’npei warriors carry a variety of melee weapons in their lower arms and may carry a small buckler on an upper arm for head protection.  Some L’npei carry short throwing spears that resemble an elongated dart.

L’npei Taikahir Bringers also command a group of retainers who are priestly in their garb and carry light weapons.  Captured power armor cannot be used by L’npei.

Because of the excruciating death that the parasite inflicts on its host, the L’npei will go to great lengths on the battlefield to rescue a leader from the Gornarod.  A war band of a captive will often fight to the death to attempt a rescue.  Eastern Gornarod units will frequently display a banner of Khia cloth made from a captive of high rank and paint the host's name upon the banner as a taunt.

Wild L'npei

The continue to live in bands of a few hundred individuals and hunt in the northern forests, the jungles of the south and in west of the Czarni Mountains.  The Wild L’npei are under the direct protection of the Guardian Lord Protector.  They are an important reservoir of the spirit that lies at the core of the power to hold Atelon for .  Wild L’npei have head and neck feathers of many colors and patterns.  Their crests change with the seasons and the location of the band.