Many of Hevna’s countries boast strange geography thanks to the work of unseen forces throughout the geologic record, a factor which can be clearly seen in the northern nation of Duntilik.
One could even be forgiven for thinking the entire region came about as a result of a petulant giant scrunching the very rock up like an unwanted piece of paper.
The Skalna mountain range dominates the northern edge of Duntilik, spearing southward periodically in thin tendrils. The presence of the mountains both helps and hinders the people who live here, for while they may impede progress between some settlements, the high rock ridges do much to protect the Dunts from the harshest Aether Storms, and violent cold weather of the Arctic circle it pierces into.
Where mountains do not cut up the land, a wild and cold tundra dominates, interspersed with areas of deep pine forest. It is in these rare pockets that one may find the only arable and fertile soil northern Duntilik boasts. Further human-favorable habitat can be found further south, however, as the mountains give rise to flatter land, and then eventually the forested slopes leading down to Pendesfern Great Forest.
Due to its extreme terrain and climate, Duntilik is a low population country. Nominally ruled by the Kai, as the head of all tribes, each nomadic tribal group tends to follow its own wants, rules, and laws and will only come together when their land as a whole is threatened. Due to its low population, Dunts do not bear surnames.
Capital: Tibor (Sacred place)
South West City: Iska (’Tavern Place’)
West Central City: Dima Dreva (’Thieves Retreat’)
East Central City: Vaca Cestum (’Great Fort’)
North City: Lorskal (Named for its Founder.)
East City: Arra Holme (’Smart Gentle Place’)
The Border Market (Not a recognized town, but nevertheless, a permanent feature near Wessenland.)
The Men and Nagan populations of Duntilik have a fairly good relationship, simply because they barely interact with each other. The Leyinagu and Funanagu of Duntilik are far more adapted to the cold than their southern cousins, and as such are able to make a living on vast stretches of Duntilik’s waterways, even in areas Men find unpalatable. As for the reclusive Tyakonagu, they have always been shy people no matter where one may find them in the world, and Duntilik’s few choose to actively avoid outsiders, including other Nagu.
As a result, the two races treat each other as one would any other apex predator – with cautious respect and avoidance. There have, of course, been occasions where either species has helped out injured members of the other… and occasions where hostility has broken out. No long term grudges seem to exist, however.
Duntilik has only six settlements with a permanent, year-round, presence, plus the Border Market. Due to this, and the nomadic nature of much of the nations’ populace, Duntilik boasts far less well built and integrated infrastructure for its peoples, except in these larger gathering spots.
Water: For the nomadic population, water is gathered from freshwater sources on their travels. In the case of the permanent settlements, however, one may find local rivers diverted into channels through key streets, and channeled into public wells. Where rivers are not available, aquifers are usually the reason for a settlements’ location and tapped accordingly.
If all else fails, one can always melt snow.
Food: The majority of the average nomadic diet comes from meat, quite often in the form of jerky, from the ample hunting the forests and rivers supply. Even the permanent settlements maintain hunting stock around their towns, and all Dunts pride themselves on getting the full use out of any carcass. The flesh is eaten cooked, the leftover is preserved, bone marrow goes into soups and stews, and skin and bone make their way into clothing and shelter.
Modern cooking, hunting, and living techniques have, in the hands of the Dunts, simply made them more efficient at ancient techniques, rather than changing the way the people treat the land.
Law Enforcement: The Dunts have very few over-arching laws as a nation, and plenty of more localized one for each tribe and/or settlement. Due to this, no national police force or judiciary exists, though every group will have its adjudicators.
Usually, the second on command to a tribe leader will form the backbone of a groups’ justice needs, with exile forming the worst punishment for the majority of tribes (a death sentence, in many cases.) On top of all this, there does exist the possibility of petitioning the Court of the Kai, in Tibor, but this is generally for much larger matters than the day to day enforcement of the common man.
Fire: Considering the cold nature of the country, one could be forgiven for thinking the Dunts don’t worry about flames that much. This could not be farther from the truth, however.
Dunts specialize in cloth and leather buildings, and wood-hull aether ships, not to mention how precious wood can be when a tribe is mid-journey in a non-forested area.
Universally, Dunts are very careful about open flames and each group will have a clear designation of tasks and responses among its populace in the event of a fire. Even the Capital, Tibor, uses mostly material homes and thus has water towers to help combat any outbreak of fire that may occur.
Utilities: With only a few settlements that do not move around, most of Duntilik has no set utilities in place, or handled by any governing body.
Most groups handle their own needs, whether it be keeping a supply of coal, wood and magus globes, or having a set routine in the group for collection and burial of waste.
In Tibor and the Border Market, an effort has been put into laying more permanent solutions to sewerage and waste concerns, but even these places do not have dedicated gas lines or ward protections on pipes and channels. It simply isn’t something most Dunts consider necessary, considering the average transient lifestyle.
As with many other features of Duntilik, only that which is needed by the individual group is managed on a formalized basis. As most groups do not regularly see combat with other human beings, save in the rare dispute over hunting land at certain times of the year, the Dunts do not train a formal military force.
That said, most larger tribes will have fighters and warriors in their number, often drawn from the most successful hunters of the group, and it is customary when two tribes meet for there to be a spectator fight between each groups’ warriors on the first possible night. It is also not uncommon, in the modern era, for these fighters to train and maintain Thunder Bears as mounts and companions, fearsome as the beasts are.
Dunts also maintain herds of horses and reindeer that travel with them on their journeys, and thus also have skilled riders and archers in their number, again rising from hunting practices. Many are the tribes that also boast of their aggression of the horses themselves, which are bred for such and walk on plate-sized hooves to handle the snow – hooves which can snap bone with a single kick.
Finally, the Dunts have shown a natural aptitude for aether ships since the invention of the Aether Engine, and while they may not make for the best engineers, their mastery of the wood in their home to make fast, nimble vessels makes them a formidable concern in the air.
One can only assume that should the land be threatened by invaders once again, as it has been in the past by Wessen expansionists, the Dunts will rally together as one again to push back the aggression, aided by the plethora of foreign airships that fly in every day to make use of the Border Market.
Unique Imports and Exports: With the existence of the Border Market, Duntilik is a hotbed of trade, despite its relatively low status on the export tables. Duntilik is a good producer of wood and granite to those places which need it, but perhaps their biggest export (beyond moving stolen good with unbridled glee), is the Thunder Bear.
Thunder Bears are a notoriously strong and vicious magus breed, matched with a degree of cool cunning that makes them both terrifying, and highly prized. Alongside the white coatl, Duntish ponies, horses, and reindeer, the Bears account for the largest interest foreign powers have in the country (see The Bestiary for more details).
Dunts will also import anything and everything that makes their lives easier, especially aether technology and medicines.
Docks: Duntilik maintains a few small docks around permanent settlements on the coast or rivers, but only the Capital bears anything large enough for international travel and trade.
Airports: Similar to docks, the Dunts maintain small airfields where it suits certain groups (which come and go as people move on), but nothing truly substantial in most places. That said, proper ‘international-grade’ airports can be found in the Capital and around the Border Market, and most Dunt captains will happily land in most other parts of the country if asked, as they pride themselves on being able to land anywhere mostly flat.
Railways: The sheer cold and changeable nature of Duntilik’s environs, not to mention the very loose nature of its government, mean railways are impractical, if not outright impossible.
Currency: The Duntish Dram (DUD). As an ‘unstable’ nation that nevertheless does trade within its own borders and outside of them, the Duntish currency has had a colorful past. The actual name of the currency itself and its in-country value has been very stable for a long time, however.
A ‘dram’ in Duntish understanding is an eighth of a fluid ounce, three seconds of time, or a coin worth both. Seeing as it takes about three seconds for a Dunt barman to pour a length of drink into a glass, it’s safe to say Duntish money matches Duntish ideals.
Dundrams are the most valued coins used by the Dunts, followed by drammen, drams, and Duds. A dundram measures 24.6 millimeters in diameter, with a 45% silver content.
State Religion: Technically, none. With no true centralized government, Duntilik does not dictate, regulate or accommodate faith on a national scale for its peoples. Naturally, though, people do have their own faith and beliefs, and most Dunts are some breed of Lodaist mixed with local tribal oral history and tradition.
Conflicts: When one spends more time combating Mother Nature in a country of lesser resource value than its contemporaries, both domestic acts against what passes for a Government and foreign aggression are usually non-starters. Periodically, the Dunts and peoples of Wess will come to blows, but this tends to manifest as raids more often than not. Occasionally (especially in very hard years for the Dunts), this escalates to all-out fighting, but Dunts prefer to take what they can, where they can, and win their ultimate battles in trade at the Border Market.
Alliances: None, governmentally. Many individual tribes will have trade routes and agreements with each other and some foreign towns, but even these are liable to shift year by year, especially as Dunts have no qualms with concepts such as piracy.
Manner of Rule: As stated in all of the above, Duntilik does not have a traditional government or leadership as one might find elsewhere on Imyra.
Despite this, there are times and challenges to the country that call for a position of authority and nominal head to the beast that is the Duntish tribes, and this is where the Kai comes in.
The Kai is the most revered and respected of the Duntish peoples, given the honor of the Chiefs Tent in Tibor. He or she, for the Dunts give no discrimination to gender, is tasked with meditating and deciding factors which affect the country as a whole, as well as those few laws enacted country-wide.
The Kai is chosen on the death of the former position holder nu a challenge of ritual combat. After the death of the previous ruler, one month is given for any challengers to gather in the Capital for the event, before the combat is carried out over several days, often in a tournament-style series of knockouts.
The current Kai is Logar the Strong, originally from the northern nomads of Skal.
Border Market: Duntilik’s most unique feature, beyond the geography, is the market that sits near the Wessen border, on a series of plateaus. The location was once a Wessen town, though the territory was ceded to the Dunts centuries ago.
Historically, this market came into being for the Dunts to exchange looted spoils gained from raiding Wessenland. Pirates and rogues would meet in the ruins to trade with their kind for necessities from in the country. Over time, however, the scope and use of the Market has increased drastically, especially once foreign traders began flying in.
The Market succeeds today on two principles. The first is what made it appealing to foreigners in the first place – there is no regulation on the goods sold, beyond certain safety restrictions to keep volatile materials away from each other. Coupled with a relatively low tax to enter and maintain a shop, the Market built itself on its free nature.
The second feature came from the first. There is simply nowhere else on Hevna with such a wide array of goods available, and from so many different sources. Anything one needs can be found at the Border Market, and the free market has built itself to natural moderation as various vendors try to undercut their neighbors, without losing profit.
In exchange for all this, one can understand why pirates own and run the largest areas of real estate in the Market, and why no one minds too much.
Building Materials: Dunts favor bone, skin, wood, furs, and sometimes stone. Warm fur tents remain the most common and sought after lodging for most Dunts, with great stock put into the beauty of such by carving the bone spars that hold most tents up, and choosing skins of different colors carefully for an aesthetic effect. The richest of Dunts show off their status mostly by decorating the interior with glass or metal wind chimes and their collections of pottery rather than adjustments to the tent proper. Too big a tent won’t withstand the wind, nor will it be easy to take down when moving, after all.
Healthcare: Entirely localized. Health is the purview of each individual tribe, usually under the care of a group doctor. Dunts seem to produce more Weavers than most in the Spin, and it is far from uncommon to find the local caregiver is a Weaver.
Duntilik is home to some rare and useful herbs for treating illness, but despite these and the efforts of local doctors, Dunts do have a shorter life expectancy than other Imyran races, and outbreaks of disease in particularly harsh years are common.
Disaster Relief: Considering the harsh nature of Duntiliks climate and weather, what would be considered a ‘disaster’ in most countries is merely ‘Merday’ for the Dunts.
Part of the joy of constantly moving is the avoidance of expected disasters, and tents are easy to replace when disaster does strike. All Dunts will also know the nearest cave shelters on their nomadic routes, and maintain plans to be near them when Storm years approach, as a normal part of their lives.