I just wanted to provide a Q&A section for the Three Widows area that will be built out over the next several months. You can think of this zone as being north and northeast of where Ashtan was, which is also west of Tarea. It is not intended to be connected to the Tundra and is not as cold, except at the higher elevations of the mounts (where no mortals can get to).
Feel free to ask questions, though I may not answer all - depends on what should be discussed at this point.
Story of Area
The Three Widows are an expansive area that is settled by Trolls and Dwarves primarily, though a few Humans are known to exist.
The Three Widows are named after three of four Human children that supposedly escaped the Skythrone long ago - their descendants settling into Augerweald and now limited in number. The story is that four sisters (those children) married the same man, though his name is not disclosed nor his race. When the sisters realized this, three of them each took a moment to stab him and cut his body into three large chunks. To show their final revenge, they cast the remains aside from each of the mountain tops - where the piles of bones might appear still today. Because of this act, it was decided that each mountain would be named after one of the sisters. Unfortunately, the fourth sister was distraught at what happened and flung herself off the mounts and now haunts the lands in search of his remains.
However, the Trolls and Dwarves did not care for this and try to claim that the territories are named after their own people with their own specific background for it (though the story varies very little).
The Trolls and Dwarves despise each other, though after this many generations it is hard to know what started it. Much of it is believed to have started with the Cathedral of Gloaming, but a lot of it is just differences in society that neither can accept and move past. The Trolls live within a simple village built around Hubride, the Dwarves call inside of Heylai their home, and both fight for control of Humgurd.
At some point in the past, the Dwarves and Trolls discovered what is now known as Luzith's Lair. It was a soft spot in the soil that opened up to caverns rich with minerals and crystals. They raced to dig further and further into the soil, rushing to beat the other to materials. However, the Dwarves eventually dug into the pocket that held Luzith. Luzith managed to slay most of the miners, though a few escaped to advise their respective villages of Her. They left the area be, for the most part, after that as to avoid Her wrath.
The Dwarves left with the encroaching Indoron down in the south. They traveled for a long time, eventually finding the Three Widows and carving a fortress into what is called Heylai. They vehemently hate anything the Indoron were related to - demons, chaos, necromancy, undeath, dark magics. They could be considered something like Paladins or Templars in their abilities.
They are very old-fashioned, seeing that men are superior than women. Very few women get to do more than breed and take care of children. They also believe that the only true union is between a man and a woman, which will become particularly important in consideration of their religion. They are also very heavy into pure-race themes, thinking it completely disgusting for races to breed with one another. It is not uncommon for them to have arranged marriages.
They worship Dhaivol and refuse to recognize that he is split nor was he ever interested in undeath. They do not recognize the split because what the union represents. They are fairly extreme about their views on his teachings. Specifically, they believe that the earth should be pure of everything - plants, undeath, etc. Also, they feel that meeting death proudly is the highest pleasure one could find.
When their people fall, their corpses are burnt. One reason for this is to return the ashes to the earth, which is where they came from to begin with. The second reason is to prevent the nefarious Trolls from taking the bodies and using them for unseemly things. They fear that if the corpses are left at all, the Trolls will eat the remains as an act of cruelty. Or, worse, the Trolls might be doing more nefarious things - like trying to bring them back as undead or unnatural creatures like the ones that are haunting the Cathedral of Gloaming. They will have no respect for their enemy whatsoever.
Of the two societies, these would be likely the more advanced. But, definitely not the smartest and far more stubborn/less open to talking. They like to keep to themselves. They are fairly selfish as a whole, though this tends to be seen less in the lower society (the women) - but they keep it to themselves lest they be harmed or kicked out.
The females carry facial hair like men in some cases. So, I see them looking something like this:
The Trolls were encroached upon by the Ankyrean, pushing them further and further away until they found enough safe distance within the Three Widows. They have tried restore ties with the Dwarves, but they have been met with constant hostilities. They do tend to be more open, though, to speaking with people in general - finding themselves to not have anything to hide. This means they are far more open to mix-raced and same-sex relations
In the past, the way their warriors fight would be somewhere between an Infernal and just a typical village warrior. Now, they use axes more than spears. They do not use any necromancy, though it is rumored that some of their ancestors might have. They more have a deep connection to their ancestral spirits, Xia specifically being their 'Seer' and able to connect to them as needed. The Seer is the village leader, always a female. They see the strength in women and use them for a wide variety of things, though men are seen as mostly equal. Women just tend to be respected more because of the fact that they can bring life to this world - something they revere.
They are open cannibals. The cannibalism is a survival tactic more than anything else. In the past, they had a hard time surviving while running to find a new home - many of their numbers falling and having to become their food in order to survive. Because of this, the idea of 'waste not' became a high ideal - something not needed now because their numbers have been recovered, but more respected as an important tradition.
Rather than allowing the fallen become food for the animals, they make them their own food. It's an act of respect. The bones get left with respect in a special ossuary, save for family members sometimes holding onto a single digit from a finger that they add to jewelry. It serves as a reminder of that person.
Archi and Tayanatra are the only two Human descendants left that live in the area. Archi still dedicates himself to protecting the area from the direwolves, though it is truly only to keep them from escaping into other lands. Liraena is a ghost you might run into, who happens to be the fourth sister of the ones the mountains are named after. She also married the man her sisters did, but committed suicide in response to his death - now haunting the village.
The area was once a lush land - beautiful, vibrant fauna to be seen. However, heavy winds from the top of Mount Heylai have swooped down over the years and frozen much of it. If it were not for a hidden spring of warm, fresh-flowing water - the area likely would have been dead and abandoned years ago.
The water that comes from the spring is tainted. In Humans, it gives them strength but causes them to become sterile - Archi and Tayanatra both ceasing to drink from it because of this. For animals, it causes them to grow to unusual proportions. Archi believes that the water might flow from Luzith's Lair, but that is yet to be proven.
Luzith's Lair Lore
In an above section, it was advised that Luzith was found by Dwarves during a mining rush against the Trolls. Other things to note about Luzith Herself:
-She is the child of a Goddess, though it is not known Who. She is a Yeleni "Demi-Goddess", though.
-She's seen some stuff. She tries to forget, making herself think it's all just a nightmare.
-She's completely loony due to being locked away by herself for who knows how long.
Beyond that, there is little more to be revealed for now.
Long ago, a large number of Atav in the Aerie decided the mating with humans was an abomination. They gathered their like-minded numbers and flew north - finding a stout mountain that held an extremely large stone of blue at the top. This stone seemed alive and called to them.
The mountain was settled by a large number of humans already, who they enslaved and used to build their village. This village came known as the Skythrone, which was named after the throne at the very top of their land. The throne itself is carved from that stone that called to them, only the Tsvi'iveyti ever being the chosen one to sit upon it due to the history it is a reminder of.
Little else is known of the land. A handful of humans escaped the stout mount years ago, eventually establishing a village in Augerweald. Some were even the four sisters whom had tragedy befall them. Sometimes Dwarves and Trolls are kidnapped and taken off to this land, only a handful of which have ever escaped to tell the tale.
There are three groups that handle leadership in their society:
Spiritual Group: Tsviveshkiesvo, or Atava for short
Law Group: Ataves, or Lawkeepers
Military Group: Rerites (Reriti for the warriors, Paotavo/paotava for bowman)
There are also several subgroups that are respected (middle-class):
-Crafters - fairly respected because they cook/sew/etc for them
-Historians - moderately respected because they teach the young
-Scientists - not respected at all, but allowed to exist because they sometimes improve their society's quality of living
Leadership Succession at Present - the Revered becomes the Tsvi'iveyti upon the death of the Tsvi'iveyti. The Head of Atava Training becomes the Revered when the Revered is promoted. The Head of Atava Training has many underlings that he or she will choose a successor from once they are looking at promotion. They usually choose someone who is aligned perfectly with the ideals of the Atava and will fall in line - not question anything.
At this time the Atava group rule the area, which was never intended to be permanent. As it stands, their sacred number is five (for the first five that flew), so the spiritual group rules for five months and it's supposed to move to a period of 3.5 months for the law group proceeded by 3.5 months of the military group. However, because of a recent high number of bad omens (many unworthy children, crossbreeds with slaves [trolls, dwarves, humans] in troves, and crops not doing as well), the Atava have taken full control - stating that these bad things are happening because they have not been reverent enough. Since the religious group is the largest one, there is no good way to coup the current regime.
The Three Widow war was started mostly because of these omens, thinking that they needed new stock of slaves to help fix the situation. Plus, adding to their land would provide more access to fresh crops.
The lower classes are listened to by the law group and have been advised the true reasons for the bad omens (inbreeding because lack of new stock from hundreds of years of isolation, religious beliefs making it hard for people to find a mate for recreation [they do not allow for harems], and the weather has not been favorable [something secret-secret going on]).
The law group has presented this to the military group in hopes of convincing them to help coup, since their numbers combined would do it, but the military group as a whole are fiercely loyal to the crown and the Giver of Breath.
So, the law group - seeking justice for their people - have started stealing more people from outside areas to increase their slave numbers and work on the crops without informing the crown. They've hired people to find Atavians that are almost Atav in appearance and brought them back for breeding, trying to refresh their 'stock' with outsiders. The military and religious groups are completely unaware, though a single (thought to be crazy) Atava is on the verge of discovering it. You won't see this in the zone at present because they've stopped part of these actions while they are on high alert for outsiders.
Children/Age of Maturity:
Children are examined upon birth for their purity. It is possible for a child of 'perfection' to be taken from their family and be adopted by the King/Queen as their child. This will be handled by the Atava (religious) group who will sometimes sacrifice children of weakness to try to gain the favor back from the gods. I'd say one a season or something.
The chosen children are taught and test at a later age, an age of maturity, on which group they will join. If they prove unruly or unusual (mental illness that creeps up at older ages), they will be sent back down to become peons. If the mental issues are truly bad, they are either slain or made to live with the slaves.
Who is the Giver of Breath? This is unknown.
With Spinesreach winning the war for Three Widows, and the Syssin being the highest contributor, things have started to be affected by the Spirean people. The Dwarves have dropped all of their beliefs, accepting fully the more 'modern' society ideals. They are still fairly kamikazee in mindset, but it's not needed to be used for now. The Dwarves, through Elerl and Teani, have a great number studied in the ways of the Lycanthrope.
The Trolls still carry on their traditions, though are the primary teachers of both groups. They have gathered knowledge of the Syssin and Carnifex, even sending some trainees to Spinesreach as a showing of good faith in unity between their societies.
The Three Widow Republic was formed as a copy of Spirean ruling - even the Atav being offered to join, though they declined. They do not have a chairperson, however, and work as a unified group of Senators.
In general, Spirean people will find themselves praised when they are in the main villages of the Republic. They are even paid a small stipend weekly for their services. Ambassadors have been moved into Spinesreach and Hubride to represent the unity between the peoples.
Xia left the Hubride people and moved to Enorian, retiring from her Seer life. Zelaji took over in her stead. Xia does not agree with what is going on there, however, and asks Enorian people to go free slaves from the Atav people - regardless of what treaty the Three Widow Republic has.