THE AENYA BESTIARY: ILMAR

The Ilmar (plural) or Ilmarin (singular, descriptive) go by many names: savages, barbarians, wild humans. Given their propensity for nakedness, and for living in the wild, they are viewed by most civilized people as more animal than human. This view is perpetuated by the little that is known of their culture. Ilmar are often forced into wars and labor camps, or, ostracized by society, become beggars and prostitutes. Believed to be sexually promiscuous, Ilmarin women are often raped or taken as sex slaves. A lucky few become wives, adopting local customs, while keeping their heritage secret.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES:
Isolated for millennia between rugged hills, mountains, and sub-tropical / temperate forests, where food is often scarce, the Ilmar have developed lean, muscular physiques. Once subsumed into other cultures, however, they can be difficult to distinguish from other humans, aside from a coppery complexion and light-colored, translucent eyes. While their homeland is known for its ideal climate, Ilmar tend to be more resistant to temperature changes, and to physical hazards like brambles, thorns and rocks. Unfamiliar with shoes, the soles of their feet can be as tough as leather. Beyond the most extreme conditions, Ilmar find most fabrics unbearable, which may be ascribed to a hyper-sensitive sense of touch.

HISTORY:
For some natural philosophers, Ilmar are not human, but an early ancestor. While this view is heavily contested, it is true that they harken to the days of the proto-human, when technology was limited to building fires and to using simple tools of wood and stone. According to an inscription found within a Septheran ruin, the earliest word for human was ‘ilma,’ which the Ilmar use to denote their species, as they do not identify themselves as a separate social group.

For one hundred thousand to one million years, the proto-human lived peaceably, subsisting off hunting and gathering and basic agriculture. It can be said that, during this epoch, the whole of the human species lived as the Ilmar do. With the arrival of the Septhera c. 10,000 BGM (Before the Greater Moon) came the beginnings of a new age. Finding the dominant surface-dwelling species defenseless, the reptilian invaders conquered the planet with ease, enslaving all of humanity, save for a small population hidden between the Ukko Mountains and the Wildwood. There, the proto-human continued to thrive, oblivious to the changes occurring beyond his borders. It was not until 5 BGM that the people of the Ukko river valley were discovered by a Zo researcher named Kjus, who became so enamored by their simple way of life, that he abandoned his own society to become one of them. He named the people ‘Ilmar,’ based on his anthropological studies, and the land ‘Ilmarinen’ after them, and the flower of orange and violet that grew in abundance there the ‘ilm.’ For the remainder of his life, Kjus proceeded to teach the Ilmar of science, history, philosophy and medicine, but made certain not to pollute their culture with the excesses of his own civilization. To protect the knowledge of the Zo, he built a monastery high in the mountains, and before his death, founded the Order of Alashiya, known also as the Keepers.

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For the Ilmar, clothing is unnecessary

 

CULTURE AND SOCIETY:
Knowing nothing of war, crime, or government, the Ilmar live a simple agrarian life. Since everything in the community is shared, they have no concept of currency or property. As is said of the Ilmar, “No man is poor who wants for nothing.” Much of their day is spent farming and gathering, but they will hunt during a famine. In their leisure time, they enjoy singing, dancing, and telling stories. Their myth and history is recorded in verse, and passed down though generations. The holiest time of year is the Solstice, the longest night, when families gather from across the land to celebrate life, love and creation. It is during this time that young men and women, showing hair about the loins, pair off and jump the sacred bonfire, after which the pair is forever joined. It is believed that, during this ceremony, souls of lovers from past lives find one another again. Contrary to what many believe, the Ilmar do not engage in orgies, nor fornicate wantonly, but only with those with whom they are joined. When Solstice Night ends, it is expected that the female move into the male’s household, and by the following year, that she bear a child. Bringing new life into the world is the highest honor, and for this reason, mothers are afforded greater status than fathers, as it is from the womb of the mother that life originates.

The Ilmar lack many technologies, but are skilled wood-smiths and clay workers. Their artifacts include elaborately carved farming tools, throwing spears, atlatls, and pottery. They also excel in the shaping of trees to produce living homes. Camphor and oak are hollowed to make bedrooms, though most activities, including cooking, eating, and grooming, is practiced outdoors. As they are without any concept of crime, the Ilmar do not have doors, though partitions include curtains of bead or bone.

LANGUAGE AND CUSTOM:
For the Ilmar, personal identity extends far beyond the physical body, to encompass the inner being—or spirit—family, friends, other living creatures and even their environment. Anything one touches, or affects through his or her actions, becomes part of what it means to exist, and therefore, to be Ilmarin. Consequently, concepts of shame are incomprehensible. Clothing is entirely unknown to them, and so there is no word in their language for nude or naked. They also lack terms for secret, lie (deception), or even honesty. During their menstrual cycles, women camp by the river, where their blood is offered to the gods. The Ilmar are not, however, without a sense of individuality, and will decorate their bodies with flowers, bones, semi-precious stones like jade and lapis lazuli, and with elaborate mud patterns. Neither sex cuts its hair. Women wear a single braid, which can grow to their ankles, while the men wear locks down the middle of the back, either loose or in multiple braids.

To foreign ears, the Ilmarin language sounds hard and clipped, as they will use conjoined consonances. Common names include Xandr, Baldr, Heimdl, and Borz. Female names typically avoid the conjoined consonant, ending in ‘a’. Examples are Thelana, Aliaa and Anja.

RELIGION:
For the Ilmar, all life is sacred, from the smallest insect to the greatest camphor tree. They make no distinction between human or sentient life and animal or non-sentient (plant) life. All are part of a singular essence known as the Mother Goddess, or Alashiya. The goddess is thought to exist in all things, even non-living matter, in the wind, in sunlight and in the earth. Alashiya is never seen or heard, but can be sensed through the skin.

According to myth, the Goddess was born of two elder gods, Anu and Eru. At the beginning of time, these primordial deities danced through the astral void, singing to one another while making love continually, birthing new worlds in the process. After Aenya was created, the elder gods moved on.

The Ilmar do not consider dreams separate from reality. Each and every dream is a literal experience. By grinding the ilm flower into a fine powder and drinking it, ritual leaders embark upon purposeful dream journeys. In this way, it is believed, they can traverse time and space, other dimensions, and realms beyond death.

In death, the Ilmar become one with Alashiya, as they were before birth. The body is marked by a cairn close to home, typically under a tree, which is absorbed into the soil to become new life. Due to limited nutrition and a lack of medicine, the average lifespan for an Ilmarin is sixty years.

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