31 August 2015

Fantasy Races: Rivalries And Alliances, part 2

The Proud Herons And The Sagacious Apes

Kyo and kai-tang civilizations have different norms and ideals. Kyo culture is extrovert, expansive, hierarchical, emphasizing success, wealth, luxury, prestige, social advancement, and face. For kyo intent of an action is of lesser importance than following the prescribed forms. Kai-tang society is rather introvert, egalitarian, composed of semi-isolated groups with little desire for expansion, emphasizing intellectual honesty, spiritual development, and enlightened action—kai-tang are expected to understand intents that drives the action and balance the means and results of the action. Despite this differences, societies of both races are mostly meritocratic, rewarding individual achievements and capabilities with respect and prestige.

When kyo and kai-tang met, there is an obvious distance between each other. Kyo view ape-men as archetypal noble savages—creatures holding certain wisdom and grace that partly redeems their uncivilized (i.e. non-kyo) ways and grant them a measure of respect, but savages nonetheless. Kai-tang pity kyo's obsession with hierarchies, wealth, and social stance, as straining and hindering their intellectual and spiritual integrity and advancement. Both appreciate the interaction with the other to a certain degree, as an exotic distraction and an instructive moment (even if the lesson learned is usually picking aspects aligned with their own culture and avoidance of following the ways of the other race in matters that aren't similar already). The perceived exotic savagery and their physical strength combined with intelligence makes kai-tang mercenaries popular supplement of the Radiant Empire forces. A number of kai-tang settlements became protectorates of the slowly expanding Radiant Empire, retaining a high degree of autonomy, with some minor organizational glitches related to imperial expectation of having single directors clashing with kai-tang preference for selected associations performing equivalent roles together.

While the trade between the two races exist, it is sometimes frustrating to kyo merchants because of kai-tang philosophically driven assignment of values to goods and services. This splits kyo merchants into two camps: those who are irritated by dealing with kai-tang, and those who got used to kai-tang approach, treating it as a game with its own unique rules and forms.

The Winged Merchants And The Curious Swimmers

The xenopi are a real conundrum to kyo. Are they beasts of the sea only incidentally capable of communication, with a semblance of culture created via cunning mimicry? Or are they a really weird sapient beings to whom normal behaviors of sapient races, such as family bonds, sexual mores, material possession, and social divisions are alien concepts? Resembling a common sea food does not help solve that dilemma. From their side, xenopi are eager to help kyo reach mutual understanding between their people... Which of course confuses the matter, as xenopi have hard time understanding many crucial aspects of kyo life themselves. Why exchanging things is so important to kyo? Why social rank is that important to kyo? Why would low rank kyo follow what high rank kyo instructions if it does not agree with the instruction... And so on, and so on.

Kyo merchants do visit xenopi settlements, acquiring some xenopi produces via exchange of gifts, a process less reliable than regular trade or barter, but occasionally being very profitable. More than one minor kyo peddler earned a fortune by acquiring ingots of rare metals or high quality pearls from xenopi that had no foreseeable need for them. Curious xenopi are more than happy to join kyo merchant crews on their voyages to travel far and wide, and sometimes kyo merchants even agree to such requests, hoping that exotic nature of xenopi pet will attract more curious customers, and increase the merchant's prestige.

Xenopi venturing into the Radiant Empire jurisdiction have a vague legal status—killing a speaking entity would be certainly improper, even more mistaking it for a sea food and eating it, but at the same time they are known for their very limited ability to behave properly, even at the degree expected from a culturally inferior race. The expulsion is favored way of dealing with problematic xenopi.

The Feathered People And The Furred Nuisance

Whereas xenopi might be a conundrum to kyo, purrlings are a primarily a nuisance to the Radiant Empire. They are unruly, reckless, mischievous, disrespectful, loud, have no sense of shame or respect for authority. They are what kyo culture despise made alive and running around. And to add insult to the injury they enjoy eating birds' eggs out of their nests...

And yet, while they might be epitome of uncivilized behavior for the Radiant Empire, kyo show a surprising level of tolerance for their antics. This partly caused by kyo not treating purrlings seriously, more like a speaking animal that is barely suitable for a role of a pet when well behaved, or annoying pest if it moves past certain limits. While there is no imperial law prescribing legal status of the furred nuisances, they are generally treated as pets or wards of their companions, who take responsibility for the purrling's antics and any injuries caused and are denied legal personality of their own. Recently in some regions, it became fashionable for prestigious and wealthy kyo to keep a few purrlings, as mascots, and amusement. This fad might last until purrlings strain the kyo patience or become replaced by a new, more exotic pet.

Purrlings living among kyo love to mimic (imperfectly and without understanding of nuances of the etiquette) the kyo behavior while spurring a ridiculous claims to fictional ranks and titles that would be blasphemous for any proper kyo citizen. Many purrlings that entered into contact with kyo even for a short time are impressed with kyo vanity and behavior and are inspired into a new levels of mock-behavior of their own, occasionally trying to recreate kyo society and hierarchy among fellow purrlings, until they got bored or distracted by some new experience.

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