Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plateau of Gnaeun

The great Plateau of Gnaeun is thick with old woods and stands bordering Vamarine. It is a place where it is taboo for all men to tread. Those foolish enough to enter tell tales of Halfling womenfolk mounted upon bearcats who hunt down any in their terrain, fossilized statues of strange creatures which stand as they would in life, and diamonds that fall from the sky. In truth the Plateau of Gnaeun is home and refuge of the Cult of Ainiatri, an all female sect of Halflings with a strong warlike heritage. They are well known in Halfling folklore but relatively unheard of by other races. The Halflings consider them somewhat of a stain upon their name and rarely offer information willingly – and when they do it is often simply to say that they are the killers of men. What they do not say is that these women see nothing but strife and death in all men with their presentient vision.

The Cult of Ainiatri is hardly so simple, but they do indeed slay those who tread in their territory without question. They follow matriarchal principles and have no male members to their tribes. These women will often cauterize and stunt the growth of their right breast so that muscle and sinew grows strong there. Thus, most of Cult of Ainiatri is dominantly right handed and have powerful right arms and chests. A few non-Halfling women are members of the tribes, usually orphans or other young women they have came across and raised.

Outside of their hunting parties, the Ainiatri are very similar to other Halfling villages. They grow crops, make goods, and socialize in large groups. The older women are dour and sullen creatures, often wicked and mirthless in the best of times. The young Ainiatri on other hand are mischievous and not quite as ready to slay at a moments notices. Some lost travelers are said to wander into a group of young Ainiatri who are rather more curious about the interlopers than ready to kill.

Every spring the Ainiatri will trek into the domains of their neighbors and seize any males that they find. Half of which they slay in the hunt, as it they believe ‘no girl shall have a child until she has slain a man’, and the remaining they will copulate with under the full moon with unwilling partners. These men are released unharmed but warned to never stray into their territory. The male children produced from these rituals are raised for 2 years then released onto the great wilds around the plateau to fend for themselves. Few survive but a few tales exist of feral men raised by spirits and beasts.

Female children are raised as a part of the Ainiatri and taught their secret rituals, survival and of battle. Those under age leave their right breast exposed to show that they are not yet a warrior - although they can be quite vicious if one expects them to be docile. Older women who have slain before wear modest armor of leather and hide. They battle with sturdy short spears with uncanny skill and ferocity. The Ainiatri employs a variety of animals in their villages and when they hunt. Bearcats, wolverines, a giant raccoons have all been seen with their hunting pacts. Giant snails, turtles and other forest dwelling animals work along side the women in their daily life. The Ainiatri do not trade or negotiate. They have a simple policy to repel invaders or seek aid from other tribes if a force is too strong to repel.

Most villages of the Ainiatri are centered on large glacial stones that have a layer of perpetual frost upon them. Most of these stones have large of amounts of scripted text engraved on every imaginable angle. It is told that if one reads the text, the surrounding fossilized creatures will come to life and once again walk the earth. Of course this is mere speculation but in the deep recesses of the plateau many of these strange creatures do indeed walk the soil, and even the Ainaitri avoid these places.

The Plateau of Gnaeun is also a magnet for meteorites which routinely fall form the sky. Why they are attracted to this place is unknown but it is common to see several falling stars per night, some of which land in noisy and in precarious ways. Fires, explosions and debris are common places. Luckily the forest has little brush and the muddy and rocky soil does not spread fire well. The meteors are highly sought after, as their metals are incredibly hard and rare. The Dwarves in particular risk expedition into the plateau for this very reason and pay very well for such meteors.

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