Igosi

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An Igosi merchant and navigator.

History

Venturing off from the homelands of the far east, the Igosi were the first explorers of Skantos. Travel westward was long considered a folly, but these sea-faring people disproved legend. On large galleys they sailed the Hesperan Sea for thirty days and thirty nights, before making landfall on an island that would grow into the first settlement on Skantos: Bru-Al’s Hearth. Serving as a major hub for both settlers and merchants, the Hearth quickly grew into a bustling port, and long ago was one of the wealthiest cities in the known world. The Igosi would continue to explore the new continent, and indeed contrary to myth and legend, are the forebears of the Yultani and the more populous Karvish. It is lost to history exactly why these souls departed their homeland to sail west, but it is believed to be related to a cataclysm of magical origin. This event is simply referred to as “the day”. As a result of this, the fear of magic is still present in Igosi today, and its practice is outlawed. The drying out of the Dro Borel--the freshwater lake on which Bru-Al’s Hearth was constructed--and the growth of more prominent ports elsewhere in Skantos has seen the Igosi wealth and influence decline. They are nevertheless a proud people, remembering they are the descendants of those who conquered the sea.


Appearance

Although diverse in origin, the passing of time has begotten recognizable features among the Igosi. They are often average of height and strong of build, with dark hair and fair skin. Almost all of the men are bearded, and such hair of the face is considered to be proof of a youth reaching adulthood. The nobility often braid their beards and hair, a practice considered queer among the common folk.

Traditions, Customs, Attire and Cuisine

A sea-faring people by nature, it is oft said that the Igosi take to water like fish. As such, many of their customs are related to the water. Perhaps the most curious of these is the racing of catboats. A catboat is a small, narrow, one-sailed ship, no larger than twelve feet. These boats are often constructed by the racer themselves, and it is a common sight to see older youths venturing into the forest east of the Hearth to gather wood for their own boat. These races are often unofficial and between only two or three people, and are a popular way of settling disagreements. At the Summer Solstice, when the northern waters become more accommodating, many Igosi settlements will host official tournaments. It is sung that the greatest of these races, taking place at Bru-Al’s hearth, had one thousand ships participate.

The Igosi have, due to their history, a fear of magic. And as such, even the most liberal of its inhabitants disprove of its use. It is the culture’s greatest taboo, one not even kings can break. Aldarian, Fourth King of the House Salm, declared magic legal and was a known practitioner. He believed it would further increase the wealth of Bru-Al’s Hearth. His beliefs could never come to fruition, as he was overthrown in a popular revolt and executed on the docks. His body was weighed down by stone and sunk to the bottom of the sea, receiving the burial of a criminal. Those caught using magic rarely escape with their life, and are often killed in cruel or unusual ways.

Igosi clothing can be diverse, reflecting the many groups of people that ventured west to settle Bru-Al’s hearth. But, due to the cold climate of Northern Skantos, warmth is prioritized over style. The men generally wear thick quilted jackets and fur boots, and the women slim padded dresses. The wealthy and nobility can be immediately distinguished, donning elaborate fur cloaks and coats to further protect themselves from the elements.

Inhabiting primarily an island and nearby coastal cities, fish are the primary source of food for the Igosi, although small farms are present in their settlements. The most famous dish is that of the Addenkake, a traditional pancake filled with the roe of a sturgeon, which is served during feasts and name-days. Those of wealth will eat rarer fish, such as the golden-eyed tuna.

Although connected to much of the world through trade, Bru-Al’s Hearth is not rich in natural resources, which is evident in its art. Only the most wealthy can afford to adorn their walls with murals and marble statues. The most common forms of art are often done with fish bones which decorate peasant homes, and warriors decorate their armor with shark teeth. The skeleton of an old leviathan, Fyrkos, imposes over the city, with a bridge going through its ribs and its tail stretching over the roofs of houses.

Afterword

Despite dwindling in number and wealth, the Igosi are still respected navigators, often employed in merchant fleets across Skantos. They are set in their ways and can be perceived as ignorant especially with regards to magic, but are considered a loyal and friendly people to those they trust. Though their golden age is long past, their legacy is a testament to the power of a driven sea-faring people.