Natiel

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The people of Natiel are a bit darker in skin tone than those to the east or north.  They live mostly in the grasslands.  Though they have cities, many of them are still semi-nomadic in nature.  They are a prickly people with a lot of customs and taboos that seem to make sense only to them.  A lot of them seem rooted in superstition, such as it is taboo to eat fish when it is raining.  They rarely offer explanations beyond ‘it is taboo’ or ‘it is not the custom’ for why they behave the way they do.

If you respect their ways, and at least make a good faith effort to follow their customs and taboos while among them, they are a friendly enough people and can be very generous hosts.  In theory they practice sacred hospitality, however there are enough customs and taboos around this practice that it can be hard to tell, and they don’t do a particularly good job of communicating what violations can result in the revocation of hospitality.  Drinking wine before your host revokes your guest right.  Seducing your host’s spouse does not.

They read portents and omens in many things, from the flight of birds to the way a leaf lands when it falls from a tree.  Their gods are nature related, and chief among them is a sky goddess, who embodies both good and bad weather.  They worship them, but seem resigned to the fact that they have little influence over the whims of their gods.  The music of Natiel is heavy on flute and drums, and tribes commonly gather together in the evenings to play.

Their river god serves them also as a god of war, and from time to time he commands them to invade other countries.  They attack their neighbors and either win or lose a chunk of territory, then the ‘war’ ends as quickly as it begins and they go back to their lives.  The motive seems to involve a pattern of the weather, and their times of war usually coincide with when the water level in the river gets low.

Though their clothing is very modest and they tend to wear garb that covers them from head to toe when going about their business outside their homes, they don’t actually have a nudity taboo.  It’s not uncommon for them to strip down as soon as they enter their homes.  Their clothing serves the primary purpose of protecting them from the high winds and hot sun.

Most Natiel arm themselves with spears, and do not leave their cities unless they are armed.  Lions are common on their plains, among other dangers.  They associate fire strongly with death, as a fire through the tall grass can whip out an entire tribe in minutes.  They clear swaths of grass around their cities and villages in efforts to prevent this, and some settlements even have actual moats.  They have a lot of rituals around fire, from leaping bonfires to practicing ritual fire walking to even, on admittedly very rare occasions, burning someone alive as a sacrificial offering.

Forests are present on some of their borders, but they are just as superstitious about trees as they are about other things.  The forest between them and Petobae is said to be full of demons.  How accurate that may be is a subject for debate, but it is worth noting that the Horsemen of Petobae also tend to avoid those particular woods.

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