The People of the Light
desire to separate from other cultures, races and religions created a
conservative mind set among Devera's Lithian people. Two groups
diverged after the Great Cataclysm. A small and deeply traditional
society, who call themselves The Pure Ones, migrated to distant and
secluded mountain valleys far to the northeast. These people strictly
forbade intermarriage with humans, shunned technology, adhered to an
orthodox religious perspective and focused on living in harmony with
the natural world. Behaving this way, they believed, preserved their
unity with God. However, because of their isolation, cultural
influence from this group can only be found on the fringes of its
The second group remained in the Lithian ancestral homeland and did
not pursue these distinctions to the same extent. Their civilization
prospered in a deep, well watered valley surrounded by towering
mountains, where a wide variety of food plants grew wild in a warm and
humid climate. They named their homeland "Shira Kalinath lo
Alilithianua," a place name shortened to "Illithia" by the surrounding
nations for the sake of brevity. In this delightful place they
prospered, building a huge city, an extensive system of narrow roads
that interconnected smaller settlements and country villas, many
beautiful temples and a network of sacred schools; all without the
control of centralized, governing authority.
Shirak, on a stormy day.
Agriculture and fishing sustained
these people initially, but their sophisticated understanding of
astronomy bore fruit in an uncannily accurate calendar that
optimized the timing for planting and harvesting. This, coupled with
a deep knowledge of their natural environment led to progresses in
resource management that routinely resulted in abundant harvests.
Natural longevity, advances in medicine, nutrition and a lifestyle
bolstered by faith stretched life expectancy two or three times
beyond the typical range for humans. Because of social constraints
that include very long courtship customs and bewilderingly complex
reproductive biology among Lithian women, the low fertility restrained
population growth. Thus, their numbers remained relatively stable.
Lithians can have large families, but their children tend to be
spaced several years apart.
This is Brenna's family, shortly after her wedding. Lithian families
are typically much larger than this.
Over time the Western Lithians
developed a very clever and ecologically-friendly technology powered
by light that enabled them to blend attributes of metals with
properties of crystals. They discovered a way to separate gases from
the atmosphere and polymerize water for various purposes. Using
precision lenses and mirrors, Lithians concentrated light from the
Daystar, creating high temperature forges that allowed them to produce
specialized equipment of a quality no other civilization could boast.
Lithian edged weapons and armor remained so effective, their tiny
armies restricted access to their deep valley for thousands of years.
They did not, however, isolate themselves completely. Intermarriage
with humans became so common, very few Western Lithians can boast of a
pure family line. The physical characteristics that contrasted them
with humans began to fade, until the typical Western Lithian could
only be distinguished from an ordinary man or woman by smaller
stature, coupled with the slightly downward slanting and nocturnal
luminescence of the eyes; a trait expressed in Lithian genes stemming
from the time before the cataclysm, when the Great Eye bathed the
heavens in brilliant, ultraviolet light.
The Guardian Mountains separate Illithia from the Saradon Plateau.
With the mingling of cultures came a
tolerance for, and a blending of, outside religious influence. Among
conservative Lithians, this issue is perceived as the reason for
their nations demise. The Lithian priesthood, once the bastion of
monotheism, gradually adapted their view of God to include a rather
diverse expression of divinity, manifest in the forces of nature.
Given that their ancient holy books attributed the very existence of
the universe to Gods creative power, they did not have to bend
their views very far to incorporate the more pantheistic practices
of their neighbors.
Initially, the Lithian religion
demanded a lifestyle of stewardship for creation, personal humility
and social justice. Over time, the steps toward pantheism emphasized
the stewardship aspect until God "existed" in every living thing,
and in some extreme adherents, in non-living things too! Very few
Lithians retained loyalty to their traditional views.
The beautiful Mari Halinneah
a vast, inland sea.
Their treasured cultural
distinctions, coupled with the slight physical differences that
contrasted them from humans became a source of contention with
surrounding nations. The Lithians guarded their technology
carefully, restricting trade and zealously refusing to share
their manufacturing secrets with their human neighbors. This did
not endear them to surrounding nations, who already chafed under
what they considered Lithian racism. Additionally, their lack
of formal governance meant that they never developed
relationships with their neighbors. Most Lithians considered
human governments backward, corrupt and ill-intended; a
suspicion mirrored by the very people upon whom this attitude
was projected. A long series of minor wars, initially intended
to establish a "buffer zone" between Illithia and her neighbors,
prevent human settlement and preserve Lithian territorial
integrity, diverted resources to warfare that could have been
better invested elsewhere. The technical innovation that had
once been a source of pride for the nation, ceased, while the
Lithian people struggled to preserve self determination from the
restless human civilizations nearby.
Eventually, corporate interests within the Empire of the Azgaril
sent the Northern Liberation Army to expropriate resources in
the Valley of Shirak. The sheer size of deployed forces equipped
with massive firepower overwhelmed all resistance. Obsessed with
obliterating the hated Lithians, the Azgaril commander ordered
his army to destroy every vestige of that once great
civilization. Scattered groups remain in isolated locations, but
the power of Lithian people has been broken.