THE ADHERENTS OF DRESDRASIL
The Adherents of Dresdrasil are named for the former Daemon of Abundance, now the Old One of the Sea, Dresdrasil. They’ve adopted a seaside lifestyle, spending their days fishing and sailing, diving deep in search of the ocean’s treasures. Their numbers include all races, and despite their friendliness, little is known of them by outsiders. They value their privacy, but make an effort to maintain outside connections, through trade and allies outside their territory. Their merchants bring forth all sorts of rare goods from the sea: pearls from their divers, unusual crafting materials like the bones of sea beasts and rigid scales and supple fin and hide. Adherents place enormous emphasis on craftsmanship and skill, a tradition stemming from Jugo’s influence. This is reflected in the formation of their society. The Ospreys, lead by the Huntsmaster, spans from fishermen and hunters to bounty hunters and monster hunters. If there is tracking or killing involved, so are the Ospreys. Adherents themselves focus on more peaceful endeavors, including trade and diplomacy, and contains the artisans of Adherent society. They use the sea’s bounty to craft their goods, releasing a steady stream of perfumes and jewelry, cloth and tools, all things crafted by hand using specialized techniques. Then there are Sages, priest of Dresdrasil who attempt to translate her portents and spiritually guide the Adherents. Every Adherent, however, carries on them a symbolic vial of water from the sea, no more than the size of a pinky finger, so they never forget where they come from. Collectively, the Adherents are lead by their guildmaster, as well as the Herald of Dresdrasil, their current religious leader. To prove yourself in Adherent society, be it coming of age or attempting to join or taking up a leadership position, you pass tests referred to as Tolls. One Toll is laid out before you by each of the leaders. Tolls are usually challenges of wit, skill, or strength.
Traditional attire for an Adherent is unusual, and often unisex. They wear flowing outer garments most of the time, everything from an elegant sari to a ornate cloak. Their eccentric style covers up form-fitting undergarments intended for swimming. Their loose outer layers are able to be quickly discarded, as to not inhibit them in the water. Some Adherents prefer clothing that bares sections of skin, to show off tattoos. Most, however, prefer easy to move in garments that allow them to enjoy the sun and surf. Their jewelry is often produced from things that would normally be considered waste, like bones, shells, scales, glass, and coral, prizing beauty over wealth. Though that isn’t to say they won’t use stones, precious metals, and lustrous pearls. But Adherents are economists, and prefer to use everything that they can from the sea, as to avoid waste and careless overhunting. A peculiar note to their clothing is the material they use to make it, a creation of their own known as “sea silk” or byssus cloth. Woven from the strands produced by fan mussels, byssus cloth is light as silk and far stronger, but does not decay from exposure to moisture, nor does it mold. The strands can even be broken down alchemically into a powerful adhesive.
When it comes to food, Adherents are largely a hunter-fisher society. They’ll fish with nets and rods to bring in ordinary fish, and dive for clams and mussels. To augment their meat-heavy eating habits, they establish farms next to their villages, to grow a wide variety of crops that are compatible with the salt-infused soil. The list of plants is extensive: barley, coconut palms, beets, water chestnuts, cattails, jelly palms, prickly pears, sea grapes, rice, sugarcanes, and more. They prepare these crops alongside the meats, in order to maintain a balanced diet, which even includes some kinds of seaweed. Some of their crops are even used to create marvelous desserts, like the fruit of the jelly palm. Alongside their deserts, they also use sea plants to produce their own alcohols.
Musically, string instruments, drums, and horns are quite popular among the Adherents. Drums made of monster hide are common, decorated with bone from the players kills. Horns are often either made of monster horns, or even out of coral, producing a variety of notes. Two-stringed shamisens are well liked, but they don’t limit themselves to just that, everything from lutes to violins are fair game. Music is a community hobby, just like meals, so it’s not uncommon for Adherents to gather just to make music. Just as popular as music is dance, something most Adherents are acquainted with. Art, however, is more complex, and varies from person to person. One Adherent might make sculptures out of coral, while another might make jewelry. Another Adherent could paint, or make tapestries. Weaving and carving are very popular, given the materials they often work with.
Adherents are followers of Dresdrasil, Queen of the Deep, Mother of the Sea. Being that she created all of the animals they hunt, protect, and eat, it only makes sense. Dresdrasil and her Thousand Children are the target of their worship, coupled with personified virtues that they strive for in their everyday life. The Children of Dresdrasil are powerful creatures living within the oceans, leviathans that inherited unusual and sometimes powerful abilities from their mother. Dresdrasil herself is a Daemon that loved her creations so much she couldn’t stand to be parted from them, choosing to plummet from her throne to live alongside them for all of time. The story of her sacrifice is taught to children as a tale of selfless love and community. The virtues extolled by the Adherents are: Beauty, Craftsmanship, Curiosity, Luck, and Glory. Each Adherent chooses their own method of pursuing these.
There are ceremonies and traditions adhered to be the Adherents. The creation of ritual salts and oils, coupled with the ritualized casting off of burdens through flame comes in the spring, to mark the new year and start fresh. During the cold months, Adherents recount the tale of Dresdrasil via oral tradition. When an Adherent wishes to marry, they combine a drop of their blood with drop of seawater, and enclose it in a bead of glass that they gift to their lover. When an Adherent dies, a shroud is woven for them out of seaweed, and they are sunken in the sea, weighed down by stones. Thanks are given to Dresdrasil for successful monster hunts, and good luck charms carved from bone and pearl are distributed beforehand, often made by family or close friends. Perhaps the strangest superstition of the Adherents is that of watching waters in order to find portents to assist in decision making. Watching calm waters might help an Adherent in matters pertaining to inner peace and stability. Watching on a stormy day can help inspire an Adherent to overcome obstacles in their life or recover from illness. Sunny, cloudless days of watching the sea are considered to help with creativity and ambition, especially happiness and positivity. Watching a moonlit sea is considered to help in matters of the heart and all manner of relationships. Even the ebbing and flowing tides are considered filled with omens, as are tidal and rock pools.
The castes of Adherent society are actually equal to each other, but serve wildly different purposes. While an Osprey hunts, an Adherent creates and communicates, and Sages teach and worship. Sometimes it's possible to tell them apart just by looking. Ospreys often carry bone masks on their belts, and wear armbands cunningly woven from feathers. Sages garb themselves in blue, even their tattoos are blue. While primarily used by the Ospreys, the Adherents actually have a system of whistles chat are used got crude communication.
When it comes to gifts in Adherent society, one must be careful not to get confused. The shape, size, material, and color of a gift can all lend it further meaning. For instance, gifting someone you admire a cleverly woven hemp knot that has been dyed red might send the wrong impression. But if you send them a different color or material, it could mean something else. The same can be said of gifts of beads or jewelry. Commonly, an Adherent will wear a necklace with a sharks tooth, commonly obtained upon passing their Tolls, but will decorate it with gifts they have received. Scrimshaw and wooden carvings are also beloved gifts. It isn't uncommon to exchange gifts, since many Adherents view their society as one big family.
Adherents have their fair share of superstitions. First and foremost among them is the form their altars take, that of a well with no known bottom. Nothing dropped into one if these wells has ever been seen again, leading to the superstition that items (and people) that fall in are lost forever, whisked off to Dresdrasils side. Because of this, it's become common to cast in items in hope of luck, or even obtaining their goddesses favor. Periodically, the adherents will set burning lanterns afloat on the water, and let the tides carry them away, as a tribute to those lost to time and to the sea itself. Sometimes it is thought that the lanterns might help people pass on, or even guide them home.