Population 1.3 millon
FOLK TRADITIONS People are gruff but honest and straightforward. Little to do in winter but song and ballads and games. High literacy. Complex choral music. Hunting, lumber, craftsmanship. Rhyming and riddling games very popular. Also a board strategy game called Kessl with blue and white counters. Ice vs sky. Epic ballads common, Bards very revered. People are very worldly, many travel South for the winters. They have traditional dances for different events and times of the year as well as festivals. A reasonably prosperous country. Buildings all one story. Odd superstition about pruning trees on a ladder- since it’s unwise in earthquake land. When there’s an earthquake, they say Four paths are colliding. Quiet and spread out. Lots of fishing. People always polite.
NAMES AND LANGUAGE Lots of weather analogies. People are uncomfortable with compliments, they deflect them, deny them, or change the subject. The empire has a different speech pattern, Seln and barbarians use a lesser version of it.
CLOTHING STYLE Modest and practical, loose leather or wool pants and shirts; women have wider sleeves and pant legs. Decorate with fringe and intricate dying patterns, no embroidery. For festivals, both sexes wear bright colors. Longer hair indicates age and leisure-- both very respectable. People are clean without artificial scents. Woven or leather jewelry. No beads. People usually carry a staff when walking around. No weapons unless living in a dangerous area or hunting.
POLITICS Twin brothers rule equally according to father’s will. If they quarrel, kingdom goes to someone else. Visitors welcomed into almost all ceremonies, but expected to respect local customs. The ruler or potential rulers must submerge themselves in the pool of truth at the monastery, long enough to get hypothermia. When the last one leaves, if their skin is warm, they have the inner balance needed to rule. The pool has never chosen badly.
CURRENT ISSUES New trade agreement with Alcanster, having a bad winter up north which means less fresh food and a long boring winter.
JUSTICE All the men over a certain age in each village confer to determine guilt and punishment. No royal pardons except exceptional circumstances. Crime uncommon, banishment is a common punishment. Occasionally a painless death is agreed on. A few people poison themselves rather than leave forever.
GEOGRAPHY Cold and inhospitable climate, mountains not farmland. Homes very sturdy to withstand snow, Hot springs, geysers, natural wonders, great beauty. Kind of an Alaskan feel to the place. Very earthy, in touch with nature. Life precarious but people calm and regimented. They generally know how to deal with disasters. Tlingta fruits, snow furies. Snows in autumn.
EXPORTS Known for producing special drink made from berries that only grow up there. Lumber, iron, copper. Lots of raw materials—salt, hides, wool, iron or lead ore, fish. Import luxury goods, but they have to be quite self sufficient. They trade ballads and tales with other countries. Haul with Oxen to Lake Teral or from Jhedorah to Seln.
HOLIDAYS/CALENDAR: . Beautiful Spring festival at the end of May after a child in the town finds the first Cellia blossom. Rikka dance performed, lots of food. Birthday of kings: parents bring babies to have the king touch them, supposed to be lucky. New year in midwinter, feasting and spiritual, entire night of storytelling, seeing the dawn in the midst of stories provides blessing for the next year. Fall holiday when wind changes. Day for each element in midseason. 4 seasons, 12 months.
LIFE CYCLES Babies play together in large, supervised groups called quarters (four age levels). Usually after that they get a religious mentor to advise them about their quest. Can be a relative or not. Big celebration as kids graduate to the next quarter up. Solemn quiet ceremony where they bury dead. Crying usually thought unseemly. Family and friends groom the dead before burying. Always have the Four Candles buried with them to light their way.
MEN AND WOMEN Men and women pretty much have equal roles in society. There are masculine males, feminine males, masculine females, feminine females. No stigma to any of above. 4 is their big number.
RELIGION They worship 4 gods in charge of four paths. Very personal gods, like guardian spirits, also representing the 4 directions. Your god is your lucky direction. It’s the custom in Seln for everyone to go on a journey before inheriting property or starting a trade. There are four paths to follow—final goals to pursue while questing. Honor (earth, spiritual, outside self), enlightenment (air, spiritual, personal), adventure (fire, practical, outside self) and self improvement (water, practical, personal). Folk tradition says that love is all the elements, while greed is none. People are said to show the personality of one or more elements. Seln people are very worldly.
FOOD Tlingta fruit, tlingta wine. Spiceburn. More fatting foods are prized. Most people eat simply prepared dishes but try for lots of them. Lots of sheep. Sheep milk, cheese, meat. Little farming or big farm animals. Hay and grain, few common fruits. Tough roots for vegetables. Lots of preserved and stored foods, so they have rationing but not famines.
MONEY medium sized coins, star coin has a blue topaz. Printed with a geyser on the silver and bronze.
MAGIC Staffs common in Seln, also in Ordno. Bards more respected than mages, mages are valued for entertainment. In Seln, magic is in 4 element categories. Trials at age 16 or so.
Seln national symbol geyser. Colors blue and gray