The Iera are as different to the Order’s adherents as they are to the rest of Anaimon’s citizens. Thousands of spans of persecution have inspired their nomadic lifestyle, and though they are not without sanctuaries and semi-fortified safe-havens of a more permanent nature, most of the tribes tend to prefer the simple serenity of a nomadic existence. Though they can at times be found in semi-permanent dwellings and fixed encampments, as a whole they tend to prefer a roaming existence.
Few Iera are comfortable within the city-states of the Order or any other large permanent settlement for long; feeling a stirring of wanderlust in their spirits, and a sense of oppression and containment from the walls around them in such places. As a whole they are a vibrant, earthy people; and while they acknowledge the existence of Anaimon’s Gods, they do not swear fealty of offer any form of worship or reverence to them, which has resulted in persecution and bloodshed over countless spans, and continues to fuel conflict in Anaimon between the Orders and the Iera.
Some regions where a more benevolent and compassionate Basileia or Basileios Acolytus of an Order reigns, the Iera are welcomed into the great cities and actively encouraged to retain their own divergent beliefs, rituals, and culture. In other regions, they are ruthlessly expelled from cities, imprisoned, even executed, and in such regions the populations of Iera have suffered enormously, forced to fight for their very lives time and again.
At heart, most tribes are not a warlike people, but their long history of inadvertent and unwanted conflict has altered this, and they now place great emphasis upon individual fighting skills. Their methods lack the formalised structure and discipline of the Order’s grand Koinomahkes, and they tend to arrive on a battlefield as a great thronging mass, their charges fuelled by passion, fury, and vengeance. Sadly, they rarely win such encounters due to the structured organisation and military training the Order’s armies are subject to, but their fury and rage upon a battlefield has still proved sufficient enough to claim many thousands of the Orders’ Militares. Such bloodshed sometimes is enough to awaken the Order’s citizenry to compassion and tolerance; other times it is but another sombre song in the Iera’s oral histories.
The Iera’s nomadic lifestyle and spiritual beliefs place great emphasis upon self-sufficiency, including traditional skills like hunting and tool-crafting, but they also possess an intriguing assortment of highly specialised skills, some equal to and potentially even beyond the abilities of the Order’s highest ranks. Like the Order, these are inculcated into the Iera members with training, but it is their sacred rituals that stir their inner power to action, that they may unleash it in times of great crisis and anguish.
They have specific castes for those who are destined to greater purpose, particularly those who would serve their Iera with all of their being; champions who will ensure the stability, welfare, freedom and serenity of the Iera’s way of life despite the oppression, fear, and persecution they have suffered at the hands of the Order. Such champions seek oneness with the Elementals, striving to achieve a sufficient level of instinctive awareness and control over aspects of the natural forces prevalent throughout Anaimon. Attuned through great personal enlightenment and an affinity with a particular element, these individuals are able to harness a measure of control over the elements and bend them to their will; shaping, changing, creating, and wielding these elemental forces in attack or defence, as well as nurturing and cultivating them to make the lives of their people easier.
The Iera are diverse in their composition, their rituals, even to their appearance; their complicated alliances and perspectives causing far more inter-tribal conflicts than the Order experiences between its divisions. Though their main beliefs are almost identical to each tribe, their interpretation of the natural and unnatural developments of their world can differ vastly, to the point of open conflict between two Iera. Each practices a wide variety of specific rituals and rites of passage unique to their tribe, though there are offshoot or second-foundling tribes that hearken to the practices of their former tribe. Inversely, there are those isolated tribes that eschew any connection to their former Iera, seeking a new way to connect to the Elementals, and there are some tribes that are considered savage, brutal, and utterly reprehensible even to other Iera for the customs they practice.
Unlike the Orders’ internecine conflicts, when Iera tribes go to war against one another it rarely carries the same loss of life, for even the largest of the Iera tribes are a trifling number compared to the vast citizenry that adhere to the Order’s rule. As such, the Iera rarely meet the Order in direct battles, and if they do, it is almost always a coalition of allied Iera tribes to ensure that they have as many fighters to field as possible. A single Iera warband, even from the largest tribe, would have little possibility of facing off against the Order’s Koinomahkes in a pitched battle without excessive loss of life, or being wiped out entirely.
Due to the diverse nature of their customs and sense of persecution, most of the Iera tribes are reticent in nature, mistrustful of the Order and other Iera alike, though at times they can be found sympathetic, or at least neutral, towards the Syndicals and the Aletheians who have suffered equally under the Order, though perhaps not for the same long spans as the Iera. The mutual dislike of the Order is yet to unite the Iera with these other disaffected peoples, for the marked divergence between each of their cultures remains a strong enough impediment to any reasoned understanding or acceptance of one another.
The Iera possess an organic belief system that looks to the Elementals as didactic and aetiological forces, understanding Anaimon and the Iera’s place within it as much by the consistent and cyclical patterns of nature as by those profound or miniscule divergences of the natural state of things in their world. Led by a Witch-Seer, every tribe feels a certain pull or inclination toward a destiny, and through their animistic rituals, fire-songs, and journeys they seek to understand what this destiny may be.
A large part of this destiny, they feel, is to maintain the natural balance of Anaimon; they hunt only for what they require for subsistence, avoiding waste of natural resources as much as possible, and trying to maintain an innocuous state of living that is harmonious with nature. They actively cultivate or practice conservation of the natural fauna and flora of Anaimon, eschewing the misguided and often vain efforts by the Order to introduce exotic species into environments unsuitable and destabilised by such invasive impositions. That the Order’s Gods do not seem to intervene or regulate such practices is abhorrent to the Iera, and is the cause of much worry among them as a people.
This belief and way of life is the other major cause for antagonism and strife between the Iera and the Orders of Anaimon, for the Iera see much of the Order’s behaviour and conduct as stripping Anaimon of its’ resources; of squandering, destroying, or poisoning that which the Iera revere and hold sacred, and ultimately, of enslaving the natural world to the Gods and the Order, instead of nurturing it and safeguarding it from all who would bring harm and ruin to their world.
The Iera thus remain interested in their own affairs, and of the natural state of Anaimon, content to seek peace as best they can and safeguard the natural state of their world. Where they perceive this harmony to be threatened or denied them, they fight with an unbridled passion and fury to remain free.
All information and material contained herein remains the copyright of the author.
(C) Timothy Nancarrow 2014