by Max Barry

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The Torporine Kingdom of
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Finian Culture

ARCHITECTURE

Early architecture is divided into two groups: the Seraphic and the Doxian. Seraphs primarily built luxurious, but single-leveled houses. Most of the “old” cities in Imperial Chael contain at least one example of a vast, mazelike palaces built from mudbricks and stone. The Seraphs always preferred to expand outwards rather than upwards and therefore tended to sprawl outwards. This was made possible by the lack of any fortifications, making more land available for use by the eastern kings. These buildings were also remarkable in the artistic stucco work; entire buildings were decorated outwardly with murals depicting folklore or the history of its owner.

This style was cut short in the fourteenth century BCE during the Ichyrolithic Revolution. Fortifications made of quarried stone spring up around the great cities and the Seraphs were no longer able to go one expanding their already extensive palaces. Many palaces were left outside the walls and were abandoned in favor of more modest dwellings within the protection of high Doxian walls. Doxians also favored simple, repetitive patterns stamped into stucco with a bronze stamp. Since most Doxians were slaves in Finium, they did not dictate aesthetics, but were often autonomous in implementation. Thus, regular stamp motifs appear during this time period depicting Seraph deities or kings.

Doxian architecture was supplanted by Oir, which is known for its polished stone surfaces instead of the domestic stucco art. After the Oir were driven out of Finium, most nonessential buildings were torn down and replaced with New Seraphic style. New Seraphic style made an effort to return to the old artistry, but used Oir materials. Since the Oir used regular stone blocks, they were often hauled away to create new buildings. Stone masons were mostly artists, employed to carve large edifices of stone block by block as it was being constructed.

FOLKLORE

Finian Folklore is firmly rooted in the ancient era’s grim pantheon of warrior-gods who reluctantly defended humanity from unspeakable horrors. Some examples of creatures featured include: Dytika’s hounds, the Fengari, which stalked mountains and foothills in search of human prey; the Skotadi, a race of insect-like elves that frightened children; the Kleidothikes, serpent-headed lions that could steal the voices of humans; the Illios, shepherds of the dead who had to be bribed to not eat the deceased souls of loved ones; Petagma, worms that would eat unborn children; Mazevo, giants that threw stones into the sea and caused tidal waves; and finally the Kidemones, six-winged golems that would scream truths and secrets, though they lacked sentience.

Eventually, however, a canon of humans began to circumvent the old tales. Figures like Aspida the Hammer, Heboca the Wise, and of course Simol Torpor were the subject of many oral traditions. Humans attained mythological status to the point that it was common to say that the old creatures were all hunted and killed by legendary human heroes

CUISINE

Cuisine varies heavily from one end of the continent to the other. For example, the Geraki prefer meat dishes and forest produce as their hunter-gatherer culture allowed them, while the Seraphs enjoy a variety of agricultural grains. While there is a great deal of variety, there are some themes that can be drawn on regionally to describe the national palette.

Vale foods include Rennish seafood and Valeland venison and proteins with the occasional addition of goat or lamb provided by Marten herdsmen. The seafood is often salty as the Rennish tribes have long refined salt, but the other meats are consumed often without seasoning. The exceptions are smoking and honey-glazing, which are popular methods of preparation. Sausages and processed meats are rare. The Vale is also home to “backyard agriculture” as a source of vegetables which include chard, celery, and radishes.

The Aquenti and Seraphs share many traditions. For example, they both grew wheat extensively and have many bread or pasta-based dishes. They also had access to spices from trade with the Poorvs allowing them to develop the popular spicebread, which is typically made with powered cayenne. Meat was less available to Seraphs since most of their agricultural was fluvial, but they did raise ducks and other waterfowl. The Gnatus-Sera are of a similar vein with the addition of nuts, which they grew in great quantities and varieties.

VISUAL ARTS

Like most cultures, the first examples of the visual arts in Finium have been discovered on cave walls and predate most civilizations. Proto-Finian cave paintings depict crude human and animal depictions and, in some rare cases, prehistoric battles. Proto-Finian art gives way to Petravoltan stone-reliefs around the fifth millennium BCE. Stone reliefs eventually were replaced with stucco reliefs as the Petravoltans declined and more permanent civilizations grew into their place. The Oir brought with them sculpture, art glass, and aesthetic pottery. Few example of these art forms remain in Finium as the successor kingdoms pursued erasure of their subduction with vengeance.

In the middle ages, prominent artists arose in each of the various kingdoms, but the Seraphs were often the most notable and patronized. Religion became a source of inspiration as Christianity supplanted paganism throughout the region. Manuscript illumination, religious icons, and religious ornaments were common. Portrait painting, however, was not popular. Seraph lords preferred marble busts or stone reliefs, keeping stone masons firmly entrenched as the artistic elite. Doxian slavery was extended well past other forms of the institution primarily for this purpose.

Jotham Durian created the Finian school of painting in the 14th c. when he was commissioned to paint a series of pieces depicting the mythic City of Petravoltans and his famous work of the same name is considered typical of the genre. An entire period of artists emulating Durian was focused on architecture and myths, it was considered a revival of ancient Finian culture. Stone masons continued to be the primary figures of the renaissance in Finium and some of the most famous paintings were of carvings, reliefs, and sculptures. Modernism reached Finium in the late 18th c. when many stone masons began to create abstractions instead of depictions. Other arts forms followed suit just as they had since the renaissance.

LITERATURE

Finium has a uniquely solid history of literature due to the prevalence of carvings. While undoubtedly many works on paper or papyrus were lost, a substantial record exists in stone. Thus, very early writings of figures such as Prin the Ancient and Klithra have survived to this day. Epic tales and, more commonly, business contracts have been recovered from the period.

The Oir introduced Latin and Greek, which many scholars converted to during Christianization. Oir literature was primarily expressed through drama, which was unpopular among the Seraphs. Thus, while they adopted the language, the Seraphs still preferred poetry and prose to drama. Since, therefore, prose literature was private rather than public, it developed more rapidly than comparative cultures. Poetry, however, remained public. It was often read aloud to maintain a sense of oral tradition or carved into magnificent monuments for the good of the public. The Church developed rigid rules for poetry during the middle ages, but prose remained unshackled.

Interestingly, the poetic monuments of the period contributed greatly to the literacy of the public. An analysis of given and family names demonstrates that uncommon syllables occur in almost exact proportion to those appearing in local monuments. Poetry was a proof of place of birth as well, it was considered admissible evidence in court to recite the poem on a particular monument as proof of place of birth. Thus, pseudo-literacy abounded in the middle ages.

The centralization of the empire corresponds to a collectivist ethos in literature. Karl Theophon’s novel Praetorium, for example, extolled the virtue of fanatic loyalty. Writers and poets patronized by the state created a cult of personality around the person of the emperor. This effort also increased the literacy of the public with campaigns to make every citizen understand the mysticism of the state. It was not until the 1980s and the rise of the Globalist party in Finium that liberalism and individualism made their way into Finian literature after having long been suppressed.

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