Rhoynish Ethnicity in Fourteen Flames | World Anvil
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Rhoynish

Author: Jetis

Let us look beyond the veil of time, before the Doom engulfed the Dragonlords, before Mother Rhoyne drowned Chroyane with Her tears when the greatest of the Rhoynar’s city-states fell to Valyria. Beyond, to when the Palace of Love knew only joy, and the great cities dotted the coasts of the mighty River.   Let us see the Rhoynar, as they were, rather than a distant dream in the deserts of an unknown land.   In Fourteen Flames, a contingent of Rhoynar’s finest have arrived at Valyria, the heart of the Valyrian Freehold, the empire of the Dragonlords. These men and women, hailing from Chroyane and Sar Hoy, have come to play the great Game with the Valyrians.   Will they escape their own Doom?
 

A General History

 

The Rhoynar civilization is as ancient as the Old Empire of Ghis, existing long before shepherds discovered dragons in the Fourteen Flames. Its origins are shrouded in mystery: the poets (of which some complain are far too numerous and held in far too high of esteem in the Rhoynish City-states) will say that Mother Rhoyne fell in love with a mariner, dark of hair and bright of eye, and from their union came the children that would found the city-states (and conspicuously enough, each city-state will claim that their founder was the most beloved child of Mother Rhoyne), and the tales of their adventures, affairs, and conflicts with both foreigners, the minor river gods and themselves filled many a great volume.

 

The more serious-minded scholars will say that groups of people settled at various points along the Rhoyne, and after many conflicts, a near endless period of turmoil settled into a stalemate among the prosperous river people, and they decided, rather than be bound in an endless cycle of jockeying for ultimate power, destroying and rebuilding cities after countless petty wars, and the deadly intrigue in a single royal court, they would instead be bound by pacts of aid, of custom, uniting to defend the richness of the Rhoyne against all that would seek to control, rather than venerate, their Mother. So, there were Princes and Princesses, rather than a single King, and no one child of Mother Rhoyne would be set above the other, just as no one city of the Rhoynish would rule over the others.

 

There was relative peace among the great city-states of Rhoyne when the Valyrian Freehold arrived. Even this did not have a violent beginning - the Valyrians established outposts and colonies along the coasts, and for many years, the Freehold and the Rhoynar lived in peace. Trade was good, yet after the Dragonlords razed Ghis and drove the Andals across the Narrow Sea, the independence of the Rhoynish irked the Valyrians, especially as they generated great trade and wealth from their control of the great river and were loath to share with outsiders. It is said that the only thing the Rhoynish city-states could agree on was their own superiority to outsiders. They guarded their wealth with magic cultivated over centuries, if not millenia, and why should they bend to the flames of the Dragons when they can conjure great waves and water spouts to extinguish the fires?

 

The First Turtle War, as they would come to be known, was born out of a dispute between Sar Mell and Volon Therys. It is said that when the Valyrians slew an Old Man of the River, one of the giant turtles the Rhoynish held sacred. Some say it was to provoke the Rhoynish to action after Sar Mell imposed heavy tariffs on goods that would come through Volon Therys bound for Volantis. Others say that the giant turtle was a nuisance to the Valyrians’ port, and yet others say that it was a meal for the dragon belonging to the Valyrian governor of the city. There is even talk that it was an accident, and the Rhoynish of Sar Mell seized on the event as a pretense to drive out the competing outpost.

 

Regardless of the cause, for a month there was a bitter, bloody war. Sar Mell was raided and burned, but the Rhoynish emerged the victors when their water-wizards summoned the waters to rise and flood Volon Therys. The Valyrian city was destroyed.

 

So began the first of the Rhoynish Wars, and in that, a dance of fragile peace, simmering tensions, and bloody eruptions of violence.

 

Chroyane is one of the grandest and largest of the Rhoynish City-States. It is known as the festival city, a splendid assortment of monuments made of marble, gold, and many precious gems and materials. Chief among these is the Palace of Love. This golden-domed edifice is less residence and more a public place of gardens, pools, and pavilions for all rites of love, where marriages, great and small, happen.

 

Chroyane is the closest thing that the Rhoynish might have to a capital. It serves as a meeting point between the northern and southern city-states, the center of worship for all the river-gods, and houses the Conclave, a many chambered palace where representatives from the six city-states can meet and decide on matters that affect all the Rhoynar.

 

It is one the oldest of the Rhoynish cities, bearing the name of one of Mother Rhoyne’s children. Its position among the other city-states is both a point of pride for its citizens, and one of contention for their fellow Rhoynar. In the distant past, Chroyane has sometimes subjugated the other great cities, while beaten back, subverted, or besieged in retaliation, it has never faced serious opposition. Its walls have never been scorched by fire, nor its extravagant monuments sacked.

 

Yet.

Sar Hoy is the greatest port among the Rhoynish City-States: no small feat when all of the Rhoynish pride themselves on their watercraft. It is a large city made of pink stone, featuring a network of canals, resplendent with salt-water gardens. A thousand languages can be heard in the city’s ports, with men from all corners of the known world coming to trade. It serves as the entry-point to great Mother Rhoyne, and so all traders wishing to go further up-river stop here: if they do not wish or are unable to sail themselves up the rivers, there are ample Rhoynish importers are glad to serve as the middle-men between the foreigners and their fellow Rhoynish northwards.

 

Here is where most outsiders are exposed to some of the peculiar Rhoynish customs: the river-people are quite militant about traffic on the great river. Those unprepared might find themselves forced to deal with Sar Hoy importers, only travel by pole-boat is permitted up the river. Traditional craft might bring harm to the Old Men of the River, the giant turtles seen as Mother Rhoyne’s children (and so kin to the Rhoynish themselves). As the Rhoyne serves as the means and lifeblood of the Rhoynar, the conservation of the river and its denizens are a chief concern. Yet Sar Hoy is the most cosmopolitan and welcoming of the Rhoynish cities. It must be, else those traders that are its main source of wealth might prefer the Valyrian outposts opposite of Sar Hoy: Volantis, Volon Therys, and Valysar.

 

This proximity to the outposts of the Valyrian Freehold causes much unease for Sar Hoy, after all, Sar Mell is still being rebuilt after the First Turtle War, and they said only red flowers bloom there now: fed by the blood of the Rhoynar slain by the dragonlords.

 

Culture

Culture and cultural heritage

The city-states of Rhoyne are unique in both their treatment of women and their view of same-sex relationships. The women of the Rhoynish are every inch the equal of their counterparts: the eldest child, regardless of sex, could inherit, no position {save for some ceremonial roles} was barred to a woman, and vocation was determined by skill and rank.

 

This equality had a curious effect: while the ruling Princes and Princesses were a hereditary rank, adoption was a valid form of expanding family, and settling heirs. This welcoming attitude relaxed the need for alliances bound by marriage and secured through blood heirs. While such things did not entirely lose their significance, there was (or so there hoped to be) less bloody intrigue among the older families of the Rhoyne. Marriages were largely sentimental affairs - if you could simply adopt an heir, why worry about the need for a biological child? Those inclined could join with their beloved in the Palace of Love in Chroyane (or any suitable place in the other cities) regardless of gender.

 

However, marriage could only be done after a will was established. Numerous Houses of Letters could be found in any of the Rhoynish City-States, recording and storing numerous legal documents pertaining to wills, succession, property, titles, and enough minutiae of Rhoynish affairs, and their caretakers never lacked for work.

 

Yet as open and equal as the Rhoynish prided themselves as being, as great as their civilization, they are, as a rule, fiercely independent to the point of xenophobia. Some city-states, most notably those whose wealth is bound in foreign trade, do present a welcoming face, what the Rhoynish deem private remains private, and to trespass on that privacy, to go beyond the limits imposed on outsiders, is a grave offense. Rhoynish cities have a great deal of public spaces for this reason: pavilions, forums, open air-porches and porticos, great public baths, gardens, pools, meant to be welcome and open. It is rare that an outsider is invited beyond the courtyard or receiving rooms, and marks the guest a deep and trusted friend of the household.

 

But overall, the children of Mother Rhoyne are a peaceful people. Some would call them decadent, but that is only a mark of their ability to take the time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. How else could they come to cultivate water like they do? For there exists within the City-States an order of water-mages. Call them witches, wizards, seers: certain among them were so attuned to Mother Rhoyne’s nature that they discover they can wield water like they did their iron, and more. There is a single order, not unlike a guild, that various schools and specialties are sorted beneath its banner. They are nominally ruled by the Conclave, a council made up of representatives from every city-state, meeting in New Chroyane to decide the direction the order of mages would act to benefit the Rhoynish. They are not too numerous, but not exactly rare and unknown. They command great respect and prestige. Often, they will serve as high priests and priestesses in the name of a particular river spirit, but they are under no illusion (and in fact, chafe) at the notion that their service to Conclave is anything but compulsory.

 

There are as many opportunities for conflict as there are branches of the Rhoyne, it is said. But another common quality shared by all the Rhoynish is a great love for song and a tendency for ornamentation. Sar Mell was the city of flowers, rainbows of color winding along the roads, the archways; Ny Sar had a thousand thousand fountains, with artificial waterfalls like curtains around their pavilions, and so on. If they were not decadent, well, their architecture certainly was.

 

And why not fill such places with song? Birds are a favored pet, the sweeter the trill the better. Often, a performance of a song might serve as a thing to barter with for favor or a discount. Dancers, singers, musicians - all manner of performers - are greatly appreciated.It is an easy way to get on their good side, to relax their fierce privacy.

 

However warm they are, remember they were the first to work iron into weapons, who taught the art of smithcraft to the Andalos. Their blades remain deadly sharp, ready to cut. To attack one of them is to attack them all…Or so they would like to believe.

Common Dress code

As with most things, their dress is a reflection of their surroundings. Draped silks, flimsy gauzes, all wrapped to compliment the wearer. There is a tendency towards bright color in Rhoynish dress, commonly an air of unstructured form to highlight the body beneath. There may be regional differences from city to city, not to mention accounting for personal taste, but their network of river-trade ensures a steady flow of goods to diversify their wardrobes as they choose.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

The Rhoynar are peculiar in that they acknowledge the other gods of foreigners, but they simply do not affect their reverence and focus on Mother Rhoyne. Their priests and priestesses tend to the cities and their people. Certain points of the season are observed, a marking of the full moon, but there is little great sense of mystery behind their religion. There are few fanatics, and their zeal appears to extend only to the edge of the field of battle. This is not to say they aren’t spiritual people, but it not as strict as some other religions.   Other gods include the Old Man of the River, a turtle god, and his adversary, the Crab King.

Common Myths and Legends

It is said that the Rhoynar use water magic to defend themselves from enemies, that the Mother Rhoyne herself whispers to her children of every threat, that the Rhoynar princes wield strange, uncanny powers, and that their cities are protected by "watery walls" that will rise to drown any foe.   It is said that during the First Turtle War, the Rhoynar were victorious over the Valyrians when their water wizards called up the power of the river Rhoyne and flooded Volon Therys.

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The Rhoynar are a loose confederation of six independent city-states along the Rhoyne River network.  

Notable Characters

Ny Sar

IF 2
  Princess Sayyadina of Ny Sar  

Sar Hoy

IF 1.5
  Princess Nhaessa of Sar Hoy
Lia of Sar Hoy
Osbeorn of Sar Hoy

Ar Noy

IF 1.5
  Princess Riandra of Ar Noy
Darin of Ar Noy
Myria of Ar Noy

 

Other Notable Characters

  Kaegan

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