"One need never ask if the Mayadrihn are watching your every move - after all, they penned the very script in which your actions were written!"
~Tanjer Niamey, Mayadrihn Secret Service Operative
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The Suoro were one of the first Five Clans in the Üaharte, and decended from a breed of cat-like creatures called sualis cats. Sualis are an endangered species in modern days but can occasionally still be found in the old woods in nothernmost Suoro. The Suoro have retained the slinky movement and elegant appearance of their ancestors along with certain instincts of cleanliness and similar mating and breeding habits.
In appearance, the Suoro are more elongated in shape than humans, with longer necks, long tapered ears that range from about 4 to 6 inches in length, and long slender fingers and toes. While they range in shape from the slender and lithe endomorphs to the curvacious and shapely ectomorphs, the mesomorph middle ground is their idealized version of beauty. But while they have such ideals, there is a great amount of education and pressure for everyone to choose styles that best flatter their shape and size rather than all of their people trying to squeeze into a specific cut or style that isn't designed for their body type. For this reason, along with their skill of "making the light love them" as they would phrase it, all Suoro appear attractive due to the way they hold themselves and how they style themselves.
They have prominant incisors that look like fangs on their top jaw, and cat-slit pupils in their either blue-, purple- or red-coloured eyes. Their skin and hair tones are dependant on where in the country they hail from. It is curious that despite mingling and breeding between Sectors, there still remains to this day distinct differences in their colourations, which might have something to do with the nutrients available in each Sector, as well as the weather and the amount of Manna Weave and Huskline they are exposed to. In the Old Sector the Suoro have dark golden hair and dark chocolate coloured skin. They also tend to be more prone to thick hair in their men's beards or on their legs. In the Dragon Sector they have the same dark chocolate brown skin but their hair is pale white-gold to a point of nearly silver tones. The Dragon Sector Suoro tend to dye the tips of their hair to match their favourite clothing colour or to match their eyes. In the City Sector they have a medium brown skin tone and the same dark golden hair as the Old Sector Suoro. They are considered the standard Suoro. In the Guild Sector they have the same medium chocolate skin as the City Sector Suoro, but have a lighter honey-gold coloured hair. The Fan Tundra Suoro have the same honey-coloured hair, but their skin is a light mocha colour and they're prone to have honey-coloured freckles on their noses, their shoulders and down the line of their spine. The South Sector Suoro are the lightest of the bunch, with clear, mocha coloured skin and white-gold hair.
Suoro women are about 6'0" to 6'3" and the men 6"2" to 6"7". Their builds are lighter than humans. They have long, straight noses that tend to be Grecian or aqualine in style. Their eyes are a bit larger in the face than human eyes, with wide and glittering irises and long eyelashes. Their lips are usually full with strong, angled jawlines, giving them a sleek and elegant look. They tend to wear minimal cosmetics to accentuate their looks but wearing enough to cover up a rash or blemish or to greatly change one's appearance is considered tacky. Their body hair is as golden as their head hair and tends to give their skin a glistening sheen in the light. The Suoro trim and maintain their body hair, but it is not expected that people shave the way that some human cultures do. Some men keep beards or goatees, but only if they are well kempt and trimmed. Long hair is equally acceptable on men as on women, though fads of the length tend to shift for both genders. Since the Suoro are prone to wavy or curly hair, a lot of their styles have to do with the right cut to frame the face or accentuate the facial features.
The topic of Suroro fashion is perhaps one of the most complicated social topics in Ul-Zaorith. They have a long history of fashion fads, and they also have a strong belief in wearing what best suits you, meaning that an "out of fashion" dress that looks good on the wearer would be as acceptable as a brand new design from the latest designer, assuming the quality and freshness of both are equivalent. Because of this, it is always likely that a wide spectrum of Suoro fashion is bound to be seen at any given time. There are a few articles of clothing that were developed or invented and added to the Suoro fashion roster, and there are also those fashions that were influenced by garments of other races that have been added to their fashion (such as the adoption of the Tirivahni corsets). Rather than trying to completely picture all of Suoro fashion, let's instead focus on a few articles that are uniquely Suoro:
Belts: Belts have always been a staple of Suoro fashion and are a social marker of status, wealth and power. While what is considered gaudy versus tasteful has always been a careful line to toe, general standards like the weight of the materials, the length of the belt, the adornments and the style of fastening are markers of status. Initially the belts were always made of leather, with the colours one dyed it (black, red, white and turquoise being most expensive), and the thickness or cut of the leather were the main markers. Then studs or rivets gave way to beadwork and embroidery, which gave rise to appliqués of fine fabrics being added in. Then entire belts were made of layered fabrics, which led to the fashion of cut separate segments that could be arranged like chainlinks to make various patterns. Without the need to have a limit to the length of a single cut of leather, the length of belts grew longer and longer, with belts wrapping about more and more times before being fastened. These multiple looped belts were more easily kept in place with more rivets or pinning points between loops, which led to a return of the leather belt in cut segments attached by pivot points or rings of metal or even broaches and multiple clasps. The metal clasps and rings gave way to belts made entirely of chain or links of metal, some set with jewelry or gems, which then got incorporated into cloth belts. During the Suoro Civil War, the rebellion refused to wear belts so that they wouldn't be judged on their status instead of on their opinions or skills. After the rebellion was quashed, belts came back in full force. Today, all of these styles of belts can be found, some even incorporating things like ribbon, weaving, feathers, ivory, painted panels and the arts of engraving, leatherwork, embossing, embroidery etc.
Undershirts: Also known as "germain" in Suoro, the undershirt has been a long standing staple of Suoro fashion and has come to symbolize many different things over the years. Germains started as a way to keep your fine outer clothes clean while being able to change your linens, but soon the parts of them that showed became a major part of design and fashion. The long, pointed lapels of the germain pressed over top of the doublet, jacket or overshirt worn over it is a recurring style seen in portraits throughout the ages. Needlepoint, embroidery, ribbon work, beading, cutting and lacework have all been used to decorate the lapels of the germain, and swiftly these decorations spread to the cuffs, which fluctuate in length and ornateness in different eras. Some forms of germain are laced up the front, while others are worn open, only held in place by the vest or doublet worn atop. Others simply pull over the head or are cinched at the chest, neck or waist by drawstrings, ribbon ties or surface lacings. Originally the germain was always a white, cream or ivory colour as these were the colours of linens, but as the wealthy began having custom germains crafted in colours to compliment their overclothes, germains in virtually every colour available began to arise. Then came the Black Shirts - the black coloured germain given to slaves to wear so that even those finest dressed slaves of wealthy or highborn families would be recognized as what they were when in market or other social venues. The Black Shirts became a symbol of slavery, and were considered taboo for any free Suoro to wear. They became a verbal reference to the people who wore them, some slaves being heralded or summoned by calls of "Black Shirt!" rather than the use of a name. When the Black Shirt of Essra arose, freeing slaves and smuggling them from their families' homes, there arose an epidemic of propaganda, civil rights arguments on behalf of the aristocrats and the slaves alike, sensational stories in the news and equally sensational operettas, plays and fiction composed revolving around the slave wars. During these years, it became fashionable to wear the black shirt if you were a supporter of slave rights, and for a time it was impossible to tell who was a slave and who wasn't. In modern years, it is not required that all slaves wear the black shirt, but it is still taboo for anyone not associated with slaves to wear the black germain. Polyss, one of the most current Cahmirs for the Fan Tundra Rahva, made a point of wearing a black shirt because he was Master of the slave trade in Suoro and proud of the fact.
The Suoro are possibly the most influential Race when it comes to the international scene. Fashions, standards, laws and pastimes that become popular in Suoro are often picked up by the neighbouring countries - or at least emulated in an adopted or converted fashion. While there are certain aspects of Suoro culture that have remained constant throughout the ages, they are a surprisingly progressive and embracing nation, intrigued by and welcoming of change, development, discovery and challenge of the accepted morals of society. This said, there are strict separations in society between the slave classes, the working classes, the middle born, high aristocracy, noble born and ministerial levels. One is often restricted to their own scope of peers, and rarely do members of different classes directly connect. Different privileges and expectations mark each layer of society. The Suoro claim these guidelines and boundaries are what enables each section of the country to run smoothly. Each attends to their own portion, and doesn't interfere with what they do not know. This is perhaps best glimpsed in the ruling powers of Suoro: The Monarchy, the Government, the Rahva and the Mayadrihn all doing their part to contain and run their quarter of the country.
Sexuality is an integral part of being Suoro. More specifically, the self-knowledge of sexuality, the embracing of all its myriad forms, the practice and honing of sexual skill including seduction, courting and copulation, and the connection the sexual self has to one's spiritual, physical and intellectual health. The act of love-making is not only considered a measure of health by the Suoro, but also an act of religious piety. It is holy and sacred to lay with someone - regardless of their gender or station. In the same sense, it can also be a gift to share that moment with someone, something intimate that reveals the innermost psyche of your lover. Lovers are not to be confused with spouses (which we will approach later). As for gender preferences, the Suoro do not believe in there being such a thing. One must learn to couple with both male, female, and neuter in order to embrace wholeness. As youths, before and during their puberty they will be educated by a family member or a tutor, beginning with learning the mechanics, the methods and the reproductive purposes of intercourse, and once they reach puberty (and are therefore considered adults) are given one-on-one lessons with the tutor chosen to educate them. This teacher is always of the same gender as the student. Therefore, if it is a young girl, it is another woman's job to teach her, likewise a boy will be taught by a male figure. Only once they have mastered their own pleasures will they be allowed to begin mastery of coupling with the other sexes. For this reason all Suoro are quite relaxed about the nature of the body and it's impulses, feeling no shame in physical attraction towards any individual, and many have limited relationships with their tutor which the Suoro call the "First Blush". Because there is such a relaxed manner towards sexual attraction and following through with those desires, there is also a great awareness about birth control, safe sex and sexual hygiene.
Marriage is strictly a political act in Suoro. The joining of estates is as much a financial move as it is a strategic one to ensure power, influence, security and social support. Always one is trying to marry into a 'better' family, or better situation from what they were born into. Marriages are arranged by a parent, uncle or aunt, family friend, and sometimes local magistrate attempting to heal fueds or quiet unrest. While arranged marriages are usually decided between a child's birth to the onset of puberty, they can be nulled if certain conditions are not met, i.e. the betrothed's fortunes take a turn for the worst, illness or death before the marriage (though during a few periods in history this didn't stop the wedding), intellectual incapacity (such as opposed political views), or breaking of any other conditions spelled out in the betrothal agreement. Love, or lack of it, is not an issue. Most successful marriages in Suoro would appear to us as a case of best friends rather than soul mates, as those who do well are those who compliment each other, both bringing skills to the social, financial and productive spheres of married life to create a functional household. Obviously marriages can produce children, and often do since the married partners often become (at least temporarily or sporadically) lovers, but the aim is not to create a child of the union between them. And children had by either partner (regardless of the partner who sired/birthed them) are raised by the household as belonging to both halves of the marriage. A child raised in a stable environment by two functional parental figures becomes a product of that household, regardless of the genes that crafted them, with all the trust, love and alliance one might expect. Lovers outside of the Household who are responsible for siring/birthing children rarely get any contact with or raising privileges over their offspring.
Infidelity is also an interesting topic, as it does exist and often is a major topic of gossip in social circles, but its definition is quite different than ours. To have a relationship outside of your married partner is acceptable, in fact it is expected. These other relationships are meant to be romantic, social or productive (in a sense of progeny, work or accomplishment), and are expected to last anywhere from a few hours to several years. The separation from one's married life is that at no point should this other relationship interfere with or compromise the stability of the household - in a monetary sense, as pertains to one's duties and obligations, and one's alignment (politically or socially). So long as one can function in both circumstances, these trysts are perfectly acceptable. If one begins to shirk one's household, the infidelity is towards one's house not to one's partner. More commonly the term is used when one is in a relationship with a lover and secretly also seeing another. All relationships are supposed to be open and disclosed. Casual sexual encounters notwithstanding, anyone that is being seen or dated, even if only on a semi-regular basis is considered a relationship, and one is meant to disclose all relationships to all lovers at any given time. This is partly due to safety of health, and partly to do with honesty, but mostly to do with status. As a lover, one can be elevated or degraded by the lovers one takes, but also by the status of the other lovers one's lovers are concurrently seeing. Being referred to as a 'one of so-and-so's boys' can imply a world of meaning simply based on who you are associated with. Infidelity often arises in this scope when a lover takes on another without disclosing this to the remaining lovers. Scandals of lovers outside of status or class are often a mark against one's popularity or desirability, and can have huge ripple effects into other aspects of one's life - even one's household, where the relationship becomes a problem. While a spouse has no say over whom their partner takes as a lover, if the relationship becomes an infidelity to the household, they have legal rights to place a lean on either the spouse or the lover to repay damages caused, or to even legally have the relationship ended by writ if need be.
Marriages can be between all genders. Divorce once one is married is a difficult thing, and throughout the ages and the different Sectors has at times been illegal, or the partners involved were faced with financial penalty, taxed, imprisoned, excommunicated, exalted or ignored. Currently the guidelines on divorce often range from case to case, depending on the social repercussions, the division of the state, the allocation of any children that have been raised (as not always do the children wish to remain with their birth parent), assignment of incorporeal assets like connections to guilds, churches, societies etc. Most divorces are denied, and instead the family suffers a Schism, where the aspects of the household in question are absorbed by various family relations and their respective households in order to keep the overall family cohesive, and leaving simply an empty blank in the centre of it.
Because of the heavy use of contraceptives for both men and women, it's impossible to say what the natural Suoro rhythms for fertility might be. Instead, when a Suoro wishes to become pregnant, they will need to cease taking their contraceptives and cleanse their system, which usually takes 3-4 months before they can begin trying to conceive. For AMABs, it typically takes longer to flush to contraceptives from their systems, with an average of 5 months. Once in a fertile state, a Suoro AFAB goes through a fertility cycle lasting approximately one month, followed by a period of two-three weeks of infertility during which they'll experience a menstrual sloughing lasting approximately 9 days (one Ul-Zaorith week). To enhance conception, most Suoro use various cradling poses (similar to yogic asanas) in order to help the sperm and egg mingle.
Suoro can carry up to three fetuses at a time, though often an AFAB might consult a doctor to abort one or more in order to control how many infants they will eventually bear. Nutrition is vital, especially during the first six months of pregnancy to ensure the health of both infant and mother, with gestation typically taking 8 months. In the case of twins or triplets, gestation takes a month longer. The birthing itself is typically done with magical aid where AFABs may even astral travel out of their bodies in order to distance themselves from the pain of birth. In some regions, narcotics or hallucinogens may be topically administered to the pregnant Suoro to distract from the birthing process without leaving the body as vulnerable as an out of body experience can.
A more recent and still dangerous alternative is the use of conjuring during the birthing process to remove the infant directly from the womb, however, the rate of postpartum depression vastly increases, affecting both the birthing Suoro and child with this method. At present, it is considered prudent to reserve this as a last resort in the case of complications.
Recovery time is dependent on how easy or difficult the birthing was, with the ideal recovery taking little over a month, though is complicated circumstances it can take up to 5 months.
In Suoro a family unit is made up of two parental figures (regardless of gender), any siblings or half-siblings one may have, and usually a Tutor figure which is like a Godfather/Godmother, and who can be an aunt, uncle, friend of the family, long-time lover, cousin of suitable age, or a hired tutor. Suoro have a great deal of knowledge in how to control their fertility, and so there is a very low number of unwanted children being born. The fertility suppressants and the contraceptives are a provision of the King of Suoro, and so all levels of society have access to them. Because children are born when chosen, most Suoro have between 2 and 5 children, though the number of children born by a specific household is directly proportionate to how many children they can afford to support. At a time, Suoro have a single child, with twins being an extremely rare circumstance, and when they occur being almost exclusively identical twins.
Coming of Age
The Suoro live longer than humans do, but age proportionately to humans, meaning they develop slower. On average, Suoro live about 130 years. For them, 15 is prepubescent, and completing puberty around the ages of 18-20. While the Suoro recognize those that are 18+ as adults, their mid to late 20s is when Suoro begin to feel their way through what their life as an adult will look like (much like 20+ year old humans). For them, there are a few events that are huge turning points in their development, though rather than at a certain age, it's by certain actions that one reaches the markers.
Gelmonyn~ The point at which the child begins making their own acquaintances and friends without needing to be introduced. This stage shows independent thought, cultivation of judgment, social skill and self-confidence.
Huvagonyn~ The first fight (be that an intellectual battle, a physical fight, a challenged duel or a social contest) that the Suoro partakes in, regardless of the outcome.
Kælthonyn~ The point at which the Suoro experiences their first sexual acts and associated ablution, and is the first step into adulthood.
Lukænyn~ The point at which a Suoro experiences their first menstrual cycle or ejaculation.
Y'nivonyn~ The completion of some form of education.
Sirthonyn~ The first lover that a Suoro takes.
Aubitonyn~ The point at which a Suoro gets married and becomes a portion of a Household. Curiously, for the slave classes this also is the point for them in which they are hired or purchased by a household.
Nusonyn~ The point at which the Suoro becomes a parent but this requires consciousness of the birth, and experiencing the raising of the child (at least co-operatively).
These are the key points that are said to define a person and complete them as a person. There are other minor ones, such as experiences of illness, embarrassment, first social gathering, first creative work, and such that are sometimes referenced, but these are the core 8.
Death is a curious issue for the Suoro, and is as complicated as every other aspect of their culture. On the one hand, they celebrate the life of the one who died, but on the other hand, they also mourn the loss, they exalt sacrifice but they condemn murder, they prize duels and hire assassins, yet they utilize apothecarists and carry on feuds. The manner by which one dies has as much to do with the treatment of the dead, both in body and spirit, and which gods the dead took as their patron ties in deeply with the way one is remembered and their body disposed of.
Education in Suoro is arguably the best in the world. They have three key methods of schooling: Tutoring, Apprenticeships, and University. Which method you undertake as a child depends greatly on the wealth of your household (including both money and social connections), your aptitude as a student (including your style of learning), your interests in subjects or professions. Aside from these methods of education there are also the basics of Common Knowledge which are paid for by the King and mandatory to attend. Common Knowledge is a collection of skills and information that are considered essential to know as a Suoro in order to function in the world. Common Knowledge consists of 16 subjects, often commonly called The Scriptures: history, arithmetic, rhetoric, literature, languages, dance, etiquette, sexual education/hygiene, music, prose/poetry, philosophy, crafting/mending, magics, medicine, cooking, and politics.
Cuisine in Suoro varies greatly depending on where in the country you go. The Dragon Sector makes use of the most seafoods, while the South Sector prefers spicy or pungent foods. The City Sector has a wide array of sweets and desserts, while the Old Sector specializes in hardy pastas and thick stews. The Fan Tundra excels in baked goods and breads and the Guild Sector focusses on drinks, especially wine and decælyn. Like the Briandynians of the West, the Suoro focus on the tasting of all flavours in a single meal (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy, Bitter, Effervescent, Umami, Earthy, and Tangy), with there being multiple removes (or courses depending on the formality of the meal) with different flavour concentrations for each one.
More info coming soon!
Intelligence: 16/16. The Suoro are generally agreed to be the most clever race in the world. They not only have completely labyrinthine thoughts, able to touch on the simplest and most complex issues with ease, they are also creative, with a great sense of aesthetic, valuing balance, complexity, intricacy and style, making their language the hardest to master. They have a great ability for understanding the view points of other races, and often use this knowledge to manipulate or position themselves to advantage. Rather than an emotional endeavor, politics and social circles in Suoro are a way of gaining information, position, prestige and standing. Their every interaction centres on worth and meaning, pulling the implied from the unspoken, the potential from past choices.
Wisdom: 15/16. The Suoro likewise have keen perception and strong senses, willfully honing all of the senses - both tactile and cerebral. They understand and feel a great wealth of emotion, and understand the bigger picture when compared with the individual. However, when it comes down to choice, most Suoro side with the cerebral rather than the emotive, and this keeps them from fully exalting in Wisdom. Their prowess for connecting with deities and other Realms is also a large part of their potency in magic.
Agility: 15/16. One of the more agile races, the Suoro have descended from cats, and it shows. They are naturally graceful, quick on their feet, with long, dexterous fingers and an eye for finesse and detail. If it were merely this potential, perhaps they would not score so highly, but the Suoro make it a mandatory portion of schooling to learn how to move, sit, speak, dance, copulate and hold themselves so that they make the most of these natural talents. They are bewitching to behold - especially a master of the art of "Making the Light Love You".
Strength: 7/16. Strength is not the Suoro forté, though they have structured their culture around passive aggressiveness, manipulation, charm and smooth talking to get themselves out of most physical scrapes. Rest and relaxation, health and prevention are huge parts of their hygiene and medicine, which generally keeps their systems in good working order and their immune strong enough. They are not designed for long hard labour and their stamina for anything other than sex is quite poor. In physical prowess they are tender, sensitive and physically weak, not even reaching the points of strength that a basic human has.
Resistance: 9/16. In resistance they are slightly better, but again, this is mostly due to training and good health care rather than a natural aptitude. They have a fairly good magical resistance, as they are very in tune with the world's rhythms, but they do not deal well with blunt trauma or infection. There are many diseases they are susceptible to, but they treat illness quickly and efficiently, rarely giving sickness a chance to take hold. When an illness does infect them they are highly contagious and quickly become susceptible to a myriad of other health problems, as their delicate balances are thrown out of whack.
Recovery: 9/16. Recovery is also highly dependent on a mix of magical healing and natural remedies. Chemists, herbalists and doctors play a huge role in nursing a Suoro back to health, but if given the time and peace to heal, they recover remarkably well. If they are pushed however, or not given ample rest, they descend into chronic illness. An allergy or sensitivity to a certain poison, food or ailment often increases with exposure, sometimes causing permanent damage.
NMP: 5/6. The Suoro have a high potential for magic, both in casting and non-casting cost types. They are naturally good at picking up things like metaphysics and religion if taught, and have a great mind for the complexities and precision of fine recipes such as required for Spell Casting and Alchemy. They are convincing in their entreaties, making their skills with Summoning and Familiars some of the best. They also are very good at channelling magic through their bodies when aware of its imminence, however, it can weaken them for illness or imbalance quickly if not treated. They need to be very careful not to bend to the associated illnesses and decay caused by excessive magic use.
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