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Nikiltu

Appearance Apparently reptilian
Average Height 3-5ft; 0.90-1.50 m
Weight 30kg-60kg
Facial Appearance Facially reptilian
Fur/Skin Colour Any.
Bipedal/Feral Looks Digitigrade bipedal
Distribution In and around the Dread
Place of Origin The Land of Dread
Behaviour Humanoid

The Tribe of Nikiltu, or Ba'ulatu Nikiltu,' is a collection of villages and cities in the Land of Dread. Due to its inaccessible culture, It is nearly entirely composed of a single reptilian species, the Nikiltai, with few allochtonous individuals. 

Species

The Nikiltai are snakelike anthropods with horns  Their size varies greatly, with some Nikiltai never outgrowing the size of a child, the tallest reaching up to 5 feet. Their skins often have distinguished patterns compared to the other Hulmittu, some patterns being a source of great pride and envy. 

They are average reptilian bipedals, though with a very long lifespan: there has been no recorded instance of a Nikiltai dying of old age. Because of this, some believe them to be immortal. In either case, their brains do not share this seemingly endless lifespan, and will start to degrade  around their 80th year. This degeneration continues until the individual is no longer able to sustain their life; upon which they usually starve to death.

Castes

Nikiltan Society is a mobile hierarchy of many, many castes.
Scrollkeeper

An average Scrollkeeper.

Moving up and down through the castes is an integral part of society, with everyone being born in the lowest. By showing others their smarts and talents, they may rise through intellectual duels with members of the higher castes. Losing one too many duels may cause one to fall back to a lower caste.

In villages, the average caste of any individual is rather low, with the higher castes being found either travelling around, leading villages, or  in the capital. The most visual representation of the castes is the structure of the Nikiltan capital, Kimjanu, where one needs to be part of a high caste to even enter certain levels of the city. Each gate between levels is guarded by the Scrollkeepers,  ensuring each caste is in their place. 

The caste system is one of the few systems all Nikiltans abide by without trying to add a personal touch to any part of it. 

Culture

The Nikiltu are the most nomadic settlers of the Dread (as paradoxical as that sounds), wandering around being a rite of passage for young Nikiltans. looking for any kind of knowledge and copying it, they have the most refined and extensive writing system, and jovial amount of regional dialects in both the written and spoken word

As such, the Nikiltu are well in touch with the traditions of the Dread, being fervent and fanatical practicioners of Ina Battataya . Thought Pillars in particular, are all the rage for aspiring Nikiltan teens.  

Ina Battataya

Truth is the most important pursuit for any Nikiltan. A fact is not a transcendental or spiritual concept, it's a thing you can literally own. In this culture, they revere the discoverer as much as the discovery. 

Religion

Nukartix

"This, that, and those too, shall perish. Piece by piece, I shall tear them asunder. Your kindred shall wither and fall. Of this, there is no doubt. Your only freedom in the matter, is how long you can resist." -- Nukartix

The Nilitan religion is largely misotheistic: they are at war with the gods, actively refusing to worship those incorporeal beings in the sky. They do believe that gods exist, and take pleasure in screwing them over. Many Nikiltan villages have a temple, which is intentionally left in a disorderly state for this purpose. The existence of these (often highly ornate) temples suggests there used to be worship long ago, but those traditions have long since been forgotten.
  • Aeruvartix: the god of creation. He didn't bother to make his creation as timeless as himself, instead creating a flimsy, fleeting world of temporary things. The act of writing is seen as the Nikiltan's way of getting around this god's shortcomings.
  • Nukartix: The god of darkness, who laughs at the puny mortal grasp of knowledge. He is intensely hated by the Nikiltans for the curse he brought upon their tribe. Nukartix makes the pursuit of knowledge ultimately futile for the individual and deserves no worship or awe for this dastardly act.

As they travel abroad, Nikiltans have learnt of many other gods. In most cases, they see this as a simple alterations on their own gods: Aeruv couldn't keep a permanent form if he wanted to, so other folks would logically have another image of him; Nuk purposefully deceives mortals on a regular basis, of course he'd appear in various different forms.

Gods that fall outside of this explanation, often give rise to small scale cults when knowledge of them is brought back home. Examples:

Language

Fanatical about language, the Nikiltu have developed an immensely diverse language, specifically looking for new things to name as a form of knowledge. With this comes an immensely diverse alphabet to write everything down. Nearly every village has put its own twist on Hulmi, adding a new letter or shifting a pronunciation, because important Nikiltans want to leave their mark on something. 

Sexuality

Despite their immensely diverse language, it took Nikiltans an approximate century before figuring out what a 'virginity' was.

From the first researchers focusing on mating rituals to the still living Nurritia Exbitansa, the virgins of the Esemseru and Masqutu have puzzled these great minds.. they tell me of many Temu-Zamu with proposed translations for the term, innumerable experiments to find out what is and isn't exclusive to virgins, the loss of many a respected Nikiltan's life at the sword of angered parents... All so that one day, right where I stand, the finished translation was finally agreed on and inscribed into these rocks by Exbitansa. It's a milestone in understanding other cultures, a sacred rock all young Nikiltans study before wandering into the world...”( Traveling records V, M'rafiq Asalani)

Views on other tribes

Most Nikiltans have their own idea of the other tribes, through first hand experience. Nevertheless, some stereotypes endured:

  • Esemserans are greedy, and quick-witted. A pleasure to outsmart.
  • Basans are friendly caravan folk, great to travel with.
  • Masqutans are prideful, arrogant folk, easily tricked into giving away their secrets.
  • Banbirrans are funny, furry creatures. A ton of spiritual hodgepodge, nothing much practical. Not worth the cold climate.

Notable Nikiltans

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