Ancient Lands: Lizardmen

The Lizardmen are the dominant race of the Mahiri Jungles, Kemesh, and Suvanea, with smaller isolated groups being found on islands and in marshes as far north as the Tavir Mountains. They are on average a head taller than humans or elves and often weight twice as much, but the clans of some regions are of much more slender build. While not particularly fast or agile on land, they are very good swimmers and divers and most often make their homes directly at the water. As the other races are concerned, lizardmen show few emotions or individual personalty and seem generally somewhat dull, but in reality they are not any less intelligent. Much of their culture seems very strange to other peoples, such as their apparent lack of families. Eggs and young children are cared fore collectively by the women of a village and most make very little difference between their own children and those of others. Men are often not aware which children of the village are their own and young lizardmen become mostly independent of their caretakers by the age of ten. Positions of authority are usually attained entirely be merit and not by right of birth. To people from other tribes lizardmen often appear as highly indifferent and uncaring towards their children and eggs are usually regarded as replaceable, but they protect their young just as committed as all other peoples.
The cultures of the lizardmen are among the oldest in the Ancient Land, with many of their realms predating even the earliest elven kingdoms. However, the people of most major cities consider the lizardmen to be stuck in the past and having reached the limit of their abilities. While many of the outlying tribes do indeed have no writing or barely any metal, the major cities hidden deeper in the jungles are just as advanced as any elven kingdoms.

Gandju

The tribe of the Gandju lives in the many islands of Suvanea on the eastern end of the Inner Sea, which they share with the much less numerous human Amakari. Though there have been a few old naga castles in Suvanea, the Gandju never were made slaves in large numbers and their culture is entirely their own. Like the Amakari, the Gandju use no metals except for a few knives and spear blades taken from elven ships that have been boarded or run aground in the region. Gandju villages are mostly found on the beaches or lakes found on some of the larger islands. Their boats are much smaller than the merchant ships of the Keyren, Neshanen, and Takari and not well suited to endure storms out on the open sea, but very fast and maneuverable and perfect for travel between the islands. Some clans are frequently visited by merchant ships buying fresh food for the long journeys across the Inner Sea, but others are pirates who simply steal whatever goods from foreign lands they find a taste for.

Kuraka

The Kuraka a group of highly diverse clans of lizardmen whose most common trait is that they never were slaves to the naga or part of the Mayaka kingdom. They have no cities and only a few towns of significant size and they don’t make bronze, but have long ago learned to work the metal taken from dead Mayaka and Suji soldiers and they have many bronze spears and daggers in addition to their own stone and obsidian weapons. The Kuraka are most numerous in the highlands west of Kemesh, but small clans can be found throughout the huge unclaimed territory that separates the lands of the two great powers of the region and on many stretches along the coast. Most clans don’t want anything to do with either the naga or the Mayaka and live in small villages in hard to reach places.

Mayaka

The Mayaka are the largest of the lizardmen tribes and one of the most advanced civilizations in the Ancient Lands. Enslaved by the naga lords who ruled over most of the Mahiri Jungles and Kemesh many hundreds of years ago, the lizardmen in the western cities rebelled when the power of the naga began to wane and over several generations gained control over a large territory. Shamans of the slaves had been worshiping the Sun in secret for centuries, and it was these shamans that eventually were able to overcome the naga sorcerers, allowing the warrior slaves to conquer the great city Nakat Sahri. The shamans chose one of the greatest warriors of the rebellion to take charge of the armies and made him the first king of the Mayaka. While the king has been the leaders of the Mayaka warriors and in control of most of the everyday business of the kingdom for almost a thousand years, each king is chosen by the high priests of the Temple of the Sun, who may even replace him if he ever becomes unworthy as the avatar of the Sun.
Having driven the naga from one of their greatest cities and making it the seat of their new kingdom, the Mayaka had access to large irrigated fields and mines of copper and tin from the very beginning, when most other tribes where still living in trees and caves with nothing but sharp stones for weapons. Even almost a thousand years later, only the Neshanen and the skeyn have achieved a sophistication of technology to rival theirs. Though only a relatively small number of Mayaka is living in the great cities of the kingdom, most villages are well connected to the bureaucracy of the kingdom and the army of the kingdom is well organized and has many fortresses and camps on the borders to the dark elves in the West and the remaining naga cities of Kemesh in the East. In addition, the king also commands the Guard of the Royal palace, which is one of the most well trained and organized forces in all of the Ancient Lands, being rivaled only by a few of the best companies of the Sakaya. Soldiers of the Royal Guard wear bronze lamellar armor and swords, which make them stand out clearly from the regular Mayaka soldiers, who are equipped with armor made from corded rope and iron spears. While Mayaka soldiers are rarely seen outside the borders of the kingdom when not on a campaign to destroy enemy troops, soldiers of the Royal Guard also have the duty of escorting dignitaries of the kingdom to other countries and are sometimes chosen send on special assignments that lead them to far away places. Within the great cities of the kingdom, children of women of the palaces are raised away from those of the common masses, creating a kind of aristocratic caste that is unknown to the other lizardmen tribes. Commoners can still rise to position of great power and might even be selected to become king, but the children of the palace are given much better education, which puts them at a great advantage.

Suji

The Suji are a unique tribe in the Ancient Lands, as they have no chiefs or shamans and are entirely under the rule of the naga of Kemesh. They are almost never seen outside the naga realms, except when crewing the rare occasional ships that transport their naga masters to other lands. The Suji perform almost all manual labor in Kemesh except for the casting of weapons and armor for the naga and their elite serpentmen guards, and they also make up the majority of the vast naga armies that are in a slow but almost constant war with the Mayaka, and occasionally come to clash with each other. According to the Priests of the Sun and the Mayaka king, they are continuing their rebellion to free all lizardmen from naga slavery, but to most Suji they are heretics who are refusing to bow to their divine masters. Fieldworkers from villages captured by the Mayaka are often brought to the kingdom and live pretty much as slaves, with their young being raised in Mayaka hatcheries. Suji soldiers often fight to the death rather than joining the heretics and it is rare that any are taken alive by victorious Mayaka armies.

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