Location: South central along the coast
Climate and Terrain: Temperate rainforest to the north (near the mountains), tropical to the southern coast, and subtropical jungles to the west.
Citizenry: The Mana’Olai
Skin: Dark, tanned
Eye Color: Brown and hazel
Hair: Black, kinked
Avg. Height: 5’- 5’7”
Makua’Moi, Fedi’Omana, less commonly Yuinite
Monarchial Caste System
Title of Ruler
Name of Current Ruler
Allies and Trading Partners
Nefazo and Easlinder, local tribes of the marii, the mah’saiid (through the eashue), and the eashue
The shuen, Kukane’Haku, factions within Easlinder
Crops/ livestock: Fish, sheep, water buffalo, magrib (a large type of water fowl), rice, various orchard fruits, cotton, tobacco, elui (a multipurpose insect used in medicines and other industry)
Fabric: Silk, linen, cotton, wool
Unique Export: Elui, pearls
Major Exports: Pearls, silk, elui
Overview and History
The word Mana’Olai literally means “People of Freedom.” Until about 350 years ago, the Mana’Olai were slaves to a group of beings called the Kukane’Haku. The Kukane’Haku were worshipped as gods due to their powerful magic, but they certainly weren’t benevolent rulers. For thousands of years they enslaved the natural inhabitants of N’Halla, the continent directly south of Pileaus.
This tyranny lasted until 443 D.O. when a simple stone carver named Alaka’i Mei rose up and secretly killed the God-King Hammeoto. The Mana’Olai had been kept in check with fear and superstition, being led to believe that the spirits of the Kukane’Haku lived on in a new host after the body died. When Alaka’i slew Hammeoto, and the Kukane’Haku did not rise again, the lie was discovered. With the evidence that the Kukane’Haku were mortal, Alaka’i quickly spread word to the rest of the slaves throughout his city that they should prepare to leave before the other Kukane’Haku discovered Hammeoto’s death.
Less than a week later, Alaka’i lead the Mana’Olai out of Hammeoto’s lands and began the Dabattu – the Exodus. All along their path, they collected everyone they could and fled the lands of their oppressors. According to legend, Hokuanani, the Beautiful Star, took pity on the lost and wandering refugees, appearing to Alaka’i Mei in his dreams with warnings and portents of the future. She showered them with gifts of food and clothing and promised to lead them to a land of peace and prosperity. Lead by these dreams, Alaka’i guided his people northward through an unforgiving wilderness and eventually came to the borders of the Fong Qian ocean. There he and a number of other leaders met with the shuen who ruled the Fong Qian. Upon hearing the sad tale of the Mana’Olai, the Osei Xio (the prophet and ruler of all the Fong Qian tribes) took pity on the refugees.
With the aid and instruction of seven of the Fong Qian taishu (shuen floating cities), the former slaves built ships to ferry themselves across the River of Nine Dragons. Two of the taishu refused to aid in the heretical mission, choosing instead to flee to the territories of their neighbors.
During the ocean crossing, the Mana’Olai encountered the shuen from the neighboring seas of Shi Jia and Zhou Feng. These shuen approached the Mana’Olai and their benefactors with promises of aid, lulling them into a false security. But once the small fleet of ships and taishu had been surrounded, the group of refugees and their protectors were attacked without mercy.
The battle was fierce, and the waters ran red with the blood of the innocent as over two thirds of the ships were lost. According to legend, the spirits looked down upon the Mana’Olai with favor. Kahie’Hoku, the Heavenly Spear, intervened and sent his white fire from the sky to scatter the attacking shuen, allowing the survivors to escape with their lives. The Fong Qian shuen covered the land dwellers’ escape, earning the enmity of the other two houses.
Upon finally reaching land, Alaka’i and his people offered sacrifices to the spirits of the land and spent a full year celebrating the courage and charity of the Fong Qian shuen. Rumors telling of the terrible fate of the Fong Qian shuen drifted in from the sea by way of water spirits and wind sprites. The stories told of great hardships endured by the benefactors of the Mana’Olai as they were marooned somewhere north of the new Mana’Olai homeland. Alaka’i became the first king of his people, and his first decree was to send out search parties for the Fong Qian. Several years passed without success, and Alaka’i finally gave up the search. Before doing so, he decreed that the disavowed Fong Qian would always find a home and whatever aid they needed among the Mana’Olai.
Since that time, the Mana’Olai have been blessed with relative peace. Mysticism, religion, and other traditional practices have only become more popular as the Mana’Olai reap the benefits of freedom. Years of slavery have taught them a great deal, and they have put that knowledge to good use in building a new civilization for themselves.
The discovery of the eashue in recent years, through the aid of the mah’saiid, has been met with great excitement, even though the majority of the nation does not yet know of the newfound relationship.
How they are perceived by other nations
The Mana’Olai are seen as an energetic and happy people generally very open to outsiders. Their arts are admired by the Nefazo, who appreciate the exotic differences, and, of course, capitalize on them. Their military and navy are a growing power in the south, as is their economy. The rilk appreciate the acceptance they have felt at the hands of the Mana’Olai. They are the fastest growing nation on the continent and are spreading their influence quite rapidly – something that has begun to concern their neighbors, Nefazo and Easlinder.
Major Heroic Figures
Alaka’i Mei – lead the Dabattu and became the first King of the Mana’Olai
Keohi Leiki – the shrine daughter who tamed the thunder spirit Ki’e’hiku
Lelanikila Mei – Mana’Olai woman kidnapped by the shuen
Akuah Nami – fierce warrior and huntress renowned for her beauty.
The Mana’Olai are a very family- and religion-oriented society. Their customs celebrate a unique balance of individuality and social unity that cannot be found anywhere else among the nations of the Pilean continent. Though there are often small, short-lived internal disputes among the Mana’Olai, their philosophical outlook does much to temper their relations with other nations and peoples.
Style of Dress
The Basics: Like in Easlinder, clothing in Mana’Olai is divided into two groups based on religion. Yuinite dress tends to be very boring. The Fedi’Omana prefer wear light and festive clothing. Mana’Olai have a love of jewelry that pervades their religious influence, so followers of both religions are often decorated in a variety of necklaces, bracelets, broaches, and rings.
Males: All males generally wear the same loose fitting cotton shirts and trousers. Most men wear serviceable boots or leather sandals. The cut, pattern, and colors of the clothing are where the real differences lie.
Yuinite: Men tend to wear neutral colors (black, white, brown, and gray). They also wear a patterned silk sash of a specific design denoting their marital status.
Fedi’Omana: Men wear dark colors that accented with colorful patterns embroidered on their clothing. They also wear a dyed linen head cloth (think a bandana rather than a turban) to cover their heads while they work. Most men are not seen without this head cloth.
Females: Females in the south wear light dresses, blouses, and skirts due to the heat and humidity. The style, color, and accessories differ for each religious belief.
Yuinite: Modesty is prized above comfort, and the Yuinite women dress accordingly. Full-length dresses cover the body from the neck to below the ankle and an “underdress” preserves modesty should the over-dress rip or tear. Calf high boots and stockings are worn to completely cover the legs, while a light scarf is often employed to cover the neck when the hair is worn up. Since migrating to a warmer climate, this code has relaxed a bit in the younger generations.
Fedi’Omana: Unlike the Yuinite women, freedom and comfort are prized above modesty. The women wear a sleeveless dress called an “Umola” that comes to just below the knee. These dresses are often very colorful and richly patterned. A large brimmed straw hat called a “Ruli” is worn by women that work outside in the sun. Sandals are the most common footwear, when footwear is worn at all.
The Mana’Olai embrace styles from all over the southern part of the continent through trade with the Nefazo (and even, for the very wealthy, styles from the north), so it is not uncommon to find fashions from all over the continent represented and tailored specifically for the Mana’Olai. Both men and women wear a variety of jewelry in the form of necklaces, chokers, armbands, bracers and bracelets. Gold, silver, and ivory are favored materials, as are coral and alabaster. One such set of ornamentation is a set of ornately decorated totem jewelry worn by the Mana’Olai called the “Nahaliwei.” The Nahaliwei is an intricately decorated necklace, armlet, or choker that they believe is imbued with spiritual power. These totems are carved with the name or the image of a favored spirit and used to ward off evil, gain insight, or increase the wearer’s fertility. These charms are given to children after their first Maesore and are added to as needed by the wearer.
Notes: Younger Yuinite women wear clothing that is more practical for the climate, such as the Umola of the Fedi’Omana women, while older Yuinite women should be completely covered.
The sash worn by Yuinite men is a prominent part of the outfit. Unmarried men wear bright blues and greens to attract potential mates, while married men wear tamer browns and whites. Men who’ve lost a wife to death wear black, and divorced men red.
On the whole, the clothing of Mana’Olai Yuinites is less modest and more expressive than the dress of Yuinites from other nations. All Mana’Olai, regardless of their religion, are covered with bangles, beads, and other trinkets, giving them a sort of gypsy look.
The people of Mana’Olai are a very family- and community-oriented group. As such, the raising of a new structure is a community-wide affair, with everyone pitching in to help complete construction, no matter how large or small the project.
While under the rule of the Kukane’Haku, Mana’Olai dwellings were little more than simple huts. As a further means of declaring their freedom, the Mana’Olai have created cities and towns with the look and feel of those inhabited by their previous masters. Thick timbers are used to create sturdy frames and then covered in a quick-hardening mud that turns a soft white color upon settling. These walls are often covered with bright scenes celebrating Mana’Olai freedom. Flat roofs made of the heavy framing timbers serve as gardens and patios. Colorful tapestries embroidered with family crests are hung on either side of the front door.
Communities are laid out in a roughly circular pattern around a large town square. Twelve avenues cross the spiraling streets like spokes on a wheel, one for each of the Fedi’Omana Moral Precepts. Residences and businesses abutting those avenues are often decorated to depict that avenue’s precept. The town square itself is a focal point of Mana’Olai life, and as such is always clean and festive.
Royalty reside in palaces similar to those inhabited by their previous Kukane’Haku overlords. Built with the same materials as the smaller residences, these cylindrical palaces are known as some of the tallest structures on the continent, rivaling even those in the Empire. Each floor above the first is ringed by a small terrace often draped in bright flowers or spiraling ivy. The roof is a massive dome structure that billows outward beyond the circumference of the tower itself before finally coming to a sharp point at its peak. Kukane’Haku palaces were built in the absolute centers of their communities; in contrast, Mana’Olai palaces are constructed on the outskirts of town to encourage royalty to travel through the streets of their community and as a further affirmation of Mana’Olai freedom.
The Mana’Olai are a simple agrarian society content to live with manual labor, especially as the former slaves are now working for themselves. They have gained the trust of the mah’saiid and much of their population live in the abandoned cities of the ancient race. The technology of the fallen civilization is unknown, but it is expected that their ruins still hold some technological wonders. The Mana’Olai have access to these, though how much they are utilized is unknown.
Elo’Murai – Prilis: “Feast of the Elo” – This day is reserved for the honoring of masculinity and the hopes and dreams for the up and coming generation of men. Coming of age ceremonies are performed, blessings are pronounced by fathers and community leaders, and mock wars are held between small armies gathered from among the young men of the community. The day ends as all the men visit the communal baths, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water to bathe with the Elo – a female forest sprite that comes to watch the men bathe – in a rite of purification. Women of the community are often found dressing up as the Elo and spying on the men as they bathe.
Dabattu – Tulealis: This holiday spans seven weeks during the latter part of mid-summer and recounts the exodus from the oppression of the Kukane’Haku. The beginning of each week holds a special ceremony in each community that marks an event experienced by the Mana’Olai during their crossing of the Sea of Moa’ilani.
The first week is a silent vigil where the people work and go about their days in exaggerated quiet. No one speaks above a whisper in remembrance of the night that their forefathers snuck from the cities of their oppressors. At the close of the first week, a number of grotesque and monstrous effigies are created and burned in representation of the Kukane’Haku and their defeat at the hands of Kahie’Hoku, the Heavenly Spear.
The second and third weeks are a week of fasting and light eating, representing the harsh conditions that the Mana’Olai faced when crossing the harsh and barren wilderness. The most common dish during this time is bland, heavy bread called “Maoi.”
The fourth week is a celebration of the stars. According to legend, Hokuanani, the Beautiful Star, took pity on the lost and wandering refugees and appeared to the elders of the Mana’Olai. She showered them with gifts of food and clothing and promised to lead them to a land of peace and prosperity. Throughout the week parents make small dolls and other representations of Hokuaonani and the family creates a shrine within the home to give the goddess gifts of gratitude for their deliverance. The end of the week is celebrated with the “discovery” of new gifts from Hokuaonani. These gifts are normally directed towards children – small boxes of sweets, toys, or other trinkets.
In the fifth week, each community comes together to build a large boat that represents the ships that ferried them across the sea to their new home. When the boat is finished, the whole community gathers in a show of common solidarity and launches the boat in the largest body of water to which they have access. In places where no suitable water source is available, the people will parade their craft through the streets of their town or city to mark the crossing.
The sixth week is known as the week of blood and treachery, held in remembrance of the attack on the Mana’Olai vessels by the shuen of the neighboring seas. This is marked by passing goblet of red wine during dinner to all members of the family, and at the end of the observance families gather and burn a number of small wooden boats. These boats are set out to sea – or any other available body of water (be it a tub, lake, river, etc.) – and the patriarchs of the family cut themselves and allow the blood to drip into the water as a testament to defend against such treachery again.
The seventh and final week is marked by an ongoing marathon of celebration. Day and night the Fedi’Omana (regardless of their nationality) celebrate the Mana’Olai finally reaching the shores of their new home. It is a time of feasting, parades, dancing and song.