Wemics and Humans in Kalerre
Wemics treasure their stories and records as dragons treasure gems and gold: possessed and prized, counted and recounted, the epics of history bind a roving people together and ensure commonality of culture and tradition. But wemics do not hoard their stories, and they have traded them with humans freely.
Discovery and contact
About 100 years ago, human pirates and privateers sailed south of the equator and found the continent of Kalerre. But humans and wemics, who dislike the water, did not meet until human explorers found their way to the drier heart of the land, to the savannah of the wemics.
When these explorer humans first met a wemic hunting party, the wemics mistakenly thought the humans were the beast-like cannibals of the north, and slaughtered as many as they could find. Reports from the few who escaped gave the wemics a formidable reputation among the humans, but the wemics were dismayed when they discovered their error. They saw the cloth, tools, and metal items of their victims as signs that these were not the hated cannibals, and they desired to make amends.
Foundation of Merx
In wemic culture, one who accidentally causes the death of another is bound to labor in the place of the victim for nine years. So King Eoweth of the wemics sent a delegation in search of humans. The delegation included bard ambassadors and the wemics who had slain the explorers. At length, they found humans from the pirate city of Cove, near the site of what would later be trading post at Merx. There the humans and wemics dwelt for a few months, learning each other's language -- although the wemic bards learned more of human speech than humans learned wemic. At length they held palaver, gifts were exchanged, and it was agreed that the four wemics who had slain the explorers would labor nine years for the humans. It was also agreed that a merchant post would be set up, and that contact and trade would become more regular.
Before the humans came
Since that first palaver, wemics and humans have learned more of each other. King Eoweth comes from a line of kings that goes back hundreds of years. The northern cannibals are the mortal enemy of the wemics, and the king leads armies against them, when they emerge from their swamp. The wemics cannot pursue them, however, because wemics sink like lead in water -- they cannot swim at all.
Wemics are organized into clans, and you can tell a wemic's clan lineage from the beads in his or her hair. Wemic clans are grouped into prides, each led by a warrior. There are also wemic bards (often female) and priests. The wemics believe in two dieties, called Fire and Ice. They believe that that everything that exists -- animals, plants, mountains, clouds, raindrops -- all contain a touch of Fire.
Wemics have also learned something about humans and human nature. They have become increasingly cautious and close-mouthed in their dealings with humans they do not know.
Wemic Culture in Kalerre
In the Kingdom of Kalerre, Wemics tend huge herds of aurochs, which they use for meat, milk, leather, fur, cloth, bone, and horn. Because aurochs graze the land hard, they must be guided from place to place. Wemics live in leather tents, moving their herds to better pasture. Only those Wemics who live in holy places or in Mivak, the capitol, have settled lives.
A few Wemics do not tend herds -- these "wild wemics" usually live by hunting in the harsh badlands near the mountains.
Wemics are Stone-Age people: they are a low-tech folk and have not mastered the art of metalworking. They use flint, bone, leather, and wood to make weapons, tools, and everyday objects. They know of gold, which washes down from the mountains, and which is prized for fashioning into hair beads. They also know the arts of weaving, working leather, and firing clay for pots and vessels.
Wemics have been quick to see the value in metal weapons, and swords are highly prized among them. They are talented hunters and formidable warriors. They also have a reputation for being generous and friendly unless angered.