Lands of Autumn; The Bitter War and the Riverlands Pt. V; The wretched Riverlander and his tricks

Caught between the avaricious plots of the treacherous Gal’Alorian and the arrogant zealotry of the inbred Karaashi, the Riverlanders have grown insular and xenophobic, prone to violence and slow to trust strangers. Spread across many hovels, villages, towns and hommlets, it is through the extraordinary health and fecundity of the Riverlander that he has managed to survive the decades of atrocities commited against him by both sides.

From the treatise Of the Peoples and Animals of the Western Provinces of the Gal’alorian Trader Falluro Tixinias;

Of tall, rugged and rugose stock, the Riverlander may be recognised by its blue-gray eyes, pale complexion and thick covering of coarse brown or blonde hair. Despite being renowned for the beauty of its womenfolk, which is said to rival the dusky godesses of the Gal’Alorian harems and the statuesque perfection of Muiran Ladies in Waiting, the Riverlander is curiously apathetic to the pleasures of the flesh and will mate only in tightknit communities. So too is the Riverlander hard to entice by promises of gold or threats of physical violence. It is only in defense of its community or scant personal possesions that the Riverlander displays anything but the sluggish sort of resentful activity that nevertheless allows it to work for long hours on its fertile fields. They make on the whole, terrible slaves, and many will die in futile escape attempts rather then submit to even the mildest form of indentured servitude.

The Riverlander female is fair in the manner of barbarians, possessed of a vitality of body and spirit that the delicate beauties of Gal’Alor would be hard pressed to emulate. They are joyful creatures albeit of a stubborn and impertinent nature that can become grating if one is forced to spend overly long with them. The Riverlander lacks many of the the jealousies and petty vindictiveness of her Gal’Alorian counterparts but is much harder to control and almost immune to discipline, be it physical or mental. While its affections are hard to win, they are unusually stable, continuing far beyond the point when any civilised lady would have switched her allegiance. Overall, they make decent travelling companions and satisfactory if demanding concubines but lack the cunning, deference and duplicity to make for good wives.

The Riverlander is fond of food, drink and festivity and fonder still of the intoxicated brawling that naturally accompanies any such celebrations. While it displays an almost pathological distrust of strangers and travellers, it will quickly drop all natural caution after it has shared a pint of the sickly sweet reedwine it consumes by the gallon. The Riverlander does not easily make friends, but has a child-like loyalty towards any that manage to win its trust, and those travelling among them should strive to win this friendship, for a friendly Riverlander makes a very useful tool and is an absolute neccessity when trading in the Riverlands.

One does well to remember that the average Riverlander has only a poor conception of the demands of civilised society and thus will perceive any politic evasion of the truth or the insincere flattery that is a neccesary component of the interaction between peers as a grotesque breach of confidence and a mark of personal depravity. It will respond to the natural shifting of allegiances in the face of changing circumstances with a murderous tantrum and vindictiveness that is almost unheard of in Gal’Alor. Indeed, the Riverlander seems to regard alliances and bonds of friendship as static, immutable things and any change therein to be a personal affront of great magnitude.
It has poor self-control and will blurt out the inner workings of its deepmost thoughts against any it considers to be the least bit trustworthy. Diplomacy seems an alien concept to the Riverlander, though one does well not to underestimate their capability for dealmaking and deviousness.

The Riverlander is prone to violence, and like the bear, this violence is explosive and unpredictable, very rarely preceded by the habitual threats and boasts that are common to men of the Lands of Autumn. In battle, the Riverlander fights in small packs, held together not by promise of reward but by strong interpersonal bonds of loyalty.   This sentimental and barbaric custom makes it exceedingly difficult for the Riverlander to organize in large hosts capable of confronting a modern army. Instead the Riverlander will resort to indirect methods of warfare when confronted with this threats, preferring ambushes, raids, night attacks, poison and calculated brutality to demoralize the foe.

When one does have the rare opportunity to meet the Riverlander in direct battle, one must be aware of two things. When the Riverlander enters the fray he will display an almost suicidal berserk rage, hewing with his great iron sword or mattock. This condition can reverse almost instantaneously as the tide turns against him, and he will attempt  flight and use the terrain to his advantage to lose any persuers. It is thus prudent to organize one’s forces to absorb the initial fury of a Riverlander assault, and always have in reverse auxilliaries capable of rapid persuit, like the I’noari houndmasters or the longrunners of Gyrr. 

The second salient fact is that the Riverlander displays a fanatical tenacity in groups and will sacrifice his life in order to safeguard the lives of his comrades. This is both an asset and a weakness, for a Riverlander will be reluctant to quit the field if his comrades are cut off from retreat, thus improving the tenacity of their units as a whole. It is possible to use this against them, and the cunning Gal’Alorian fieldmaster can force the foe into an ill-conceived stand or forlorn hope assault after seperating a host with a well-timed thrust.

Of religion, they are reluctant to speak with outsiders, even with close friends such as I. From what I was able to glean, the Riverlaners pay homage to a rather large collection of nature spirits, river godesses, totemic animals and others, though there is one curious exception. All Riverlanders pay homage to a mythical creature known as the Knight of the Sun and the Moon on the winter solstice, sacrificing a herd animal to assure its protection. I have heard it whispered that some, who cannot afford to spare an animal, sacrifice their deformed or sickly offspring instead, but this may just be rumours. 

Of goverment, there is little to say. The Primitive Riverlander lives in hovels and is ruled over by a local lord, who decides life and death within his village, advised by a council of elders. What few major cities they have are administrated by a body of ruling lords. There are rumours that the Riverlands have a so called Faceless King, a mysterious individual in possesion of great martial prowess and sorcerous that is said to command the fealty of all the lords within the land under pain of death but I suspect my companion Alfrek was merely jesting.

All things considered, I estimate the Riverlands are ripe for re-conquest. It is not right that people who come from the same stock as Gal’Alorians should be preyed upon by the arrogant Karaashi.

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