The Fourteen Tribes
The Maeng live on the northern edge of the great Moon Forest, hunting the moose that live there and riding the black deer that are native to the region and grow to the size of horses. They are ostensibly a peaceable people, making their living from trade (the Spiral is on their land and they levy a tax on all business there) and subsisting from the game they hunt and the food they buy from the Moon Forest Folk.
All raids in the forest and the slaves sold southward to the Rah and the mages of Mirror Town are said to be the work of the warlike Janggok. In fact, the Janggok are the Maeng – they have ceased to exist as a separate people, having intermarried into the Maeng over the years. Those called Janggok are simply young Maeng men spending a few years raiding to earn money, prestige and the possibility of a wife.
Over the years, the Gyo, the Gung, the Nae, the Dokgo and the Yeum, federated into one super-tribe, the Five Together. Soon, though, the Yeum left the federation to move north into the Great Nothing, losing all contact with their fellow tribes. The Four Together remained in the central grasslands of the plains, where they are bound together by a proliferation of cross-cutting packs, in which men and women are united by common interests rather than shared blood.
The Seonu parted from the other tribes after the desert crossing and for many years were considered lost to history. They reappeared centuries later in the cold wilderness of the Black Heights, where they lived in relative peace until the Ashane invaded and made them a subject people.
After their arrival on the shores of Mirror Town, the Ahn’s route through the desert took them past a string of oases – and they chose to keep these as their bases and make the desert their home, taking the lizard-like desert mammoths to ride. The Desert Ahn farm the oases and charge travellers a toll for their use. The tribe is highly atomised, with individual bands controlling one or more oases and prepared to fight to protect their holding – or gain another. Trading is the Ahn’s other main source of income, and has created the tribe’s other main branch – the River Ahn, who carry cargo the length of the New Misa and its tributaries.
The Geun perished on their own desert crossing. Perhaps the Ahn know where their mass grave lies.
Renowned herbalists, the Eom were never happy on the plains where the other tribes settled, as the precious poppy seeds they’d brought with them wouldn’t germinate there. They found a coastal region ringed by mountains and with a unique, almost subtropical microclimate. Eom lands are closed to outsiders and their poison-tipped arrows, which give an agonising death, ensure that their wishes are obeyed. The Eom are rarely seen outside their lands, and their intervention to broker a peace during the Five Tribes War shocked everyone. Occasionally, however, wandering Eom healers do emerge from their isolation to help the other tribes.
The Rah settled on the fringes of the desert when they found the fertile mouth of the New Misa (named after a river in their homeland). They are the most socially stratified of the tribes with the wealthy living in large, floating mansions where they are served by their slaves as the poor toil in the rice and hemp fields or the tin and silver mines found at the verges of their territory.
The Dae once bred deer and rabbits on the scrubby grass in the foothills of the Black Heights. But the Dae are no more.
The Chun were once a lowland sister tribe of the Dae. The deer and rabbits of the Dae couldn’t survive on the rough scrub the Chun inhabited, as it contained the black glove, a flower lethal to them. But giant hill rats thrived there and the Chun domesticated them.
In all other ways, the Chun were similar to the Dae – until the murrain killed their livestock and they embraced genocide. Now the Chun name has ceased to be and there is only the Brotherband.