The Fionn are humans who have lived on small islands for many generations and adapted to marine life. They’ve called Tuil Sianaach their home for centuries before Imperial Pentland made the crescent isle a colony.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Appearance and Adaptation
- 3 Culture
- 4 History
The origins of the Tuil Fionn will differ depending on who you ask. Some claim they came from Veth, while many Fionn elders point to their legends and even their unique double hulled voyaging canoes as proof they came from somewhere within the Great Ocean.
The Tuil Fionn did, in fact, originate from an uncharted land within the vast expanse of the Great Ocean. By either divine intervention or sheer determination, these stalwart navigators spent decades following currents, waves, the stars, and migratory birds, which led them from small island to small island until they reached Tuil Sianaach -- a pristine paradise. They then began building settlements which altered their cultural practices.
Appearance and Adaptation
Without written records, many debates still happen around a bonfire about the particularities of Tuil Fionn’s origins, but all agree that they’re a people who straddle the world of air and water. Centuries of living a partial aquatic lifestyle have led them develop adaptations that differ from mainland humans, with some people saying they’re not human at all anymore. Webbed feet and hands and the ability to hold their breath for long dives are the two most stand-out adaptations. Some say the Tuil Fionn intermingled with Oneidhae which led to their aquatic adaptations, but the validity of this theory is questionable.
Fionn generally appear very human. They’ve developed darker skin tones than their predecessors from living close to the equator. Their eyes can be a variety of colors -- typically brown, blue, or green. Their hair is usually medium to dark brown and can be wavy to very curly. Men and women both average at about 5’6 in height and both have stocky builds.
They’ve adapted to marine living with the ability to hold their breath for up to 30 minutes with dives that can go 200ft deep, sometimes more if a Fionn is exceptionally skilled. Some assume this trait is related to their lung capacity since some Fionn have a larger ribcage than normal, but the real reason is not known.
Fionn cultural beliefs and practices center on a harmonious existence with the environment around them. Their spirituality enforces this type of lifestyle, since it’s believed throwing the elements off balance by taking too much will anger the wind and water spirits. People who experience misfortune, like days of no wind or little to no catch of the day, are said to have thrown the balances off and took more than was needed. Fionn are thus resourceful and attempt to make do with what they can. They use and reuse replenishable materials to build things such as houses on stilts and mono and double hulled canoes. They act as shepherds of the sea by practicing aquatic agriculture that increases biodiversity through passed down techniques. They’ll use basically every part of a marine animal too and leave little to nothing to waste. The islands they’ve inhabited, aside from Tuil Sianaach, have had a limited amount of resources, so their spiritual beliefs about sustainability were likely influenced by necessity.
Their values put the good of the many above the needs of the few. Hoarding resources is frowned upon, and in extreme cases there will be an intervention that either involves exile or death. It’s believed that greedy people will anger the wind and water spirits, thus causing great misfortune like large cyclones or tsunamis striking the island. However they value individualism expressed as feats of daring and strength. Respected challenges include showcases of navigational skills by sailing solo, felling a large marine predator, or defeating a village champion in hand-to-hand combat.
Fionn otherworldly beliefs describe the two domains of ocean and sky. They consider themselves the people who straddle the border between these realms and also think that they live close to the edge of the world where sky and ocean blur into each other. Their folktales are full of air or water spirits that control the elements or steal children into the depths. As a cultural trait, caution competes with the spirit of adventurousness that enabled them to explore so much of the ocean.
They consider wind and water spirits to be neutral entities with neutral energy. They can be both good and evil, but they typically maintain a balance between the two. There is nothing distinctly masculine or feminine about the spirits, and they can be either or both.
The Fionn know they didn’t originate on Tuil Sianaach, but they’ve never been given clear guidance from the wind and water spirits on whether they were created or simply chosen by the spirits. They do know they were given a destiny to explore the oceans until they reached a “promised land,” which they believe is Tuil Sianaach. Tales about their creation from a union of wind and water are prevalent among Fionn, however. Though some say other deities, who later left them to their own devices, had a hand in their creation
Fionn have some typical gender roles split between men and women. Men are primarily protectors, and women are primarily nurturers. But akin to their belief in themselves as a people who straddle two worlds - air and water, they accept that there are those who do so with gender as well. These Fionn are considered a double-spirited third gender, touched by the wind and water spirits. Double-spirited Fionn have a place among the Fionn similar to shamans and healers with specialized magical skills in healing and divination.
Ship building is a respected art among the Fionn. Experienced shipwrights not only build swift and durable vessels, but they go into excruciating detail with carved embellishments as well. Their double hull sailing canoes are unique on Siveth, with skills and designs passed down and enhanced over the centuries and with little to no outside influence. Their voyaging canoes rarely exceed 75’ in length, but they were designed to have enough carrying capacity for cargo to sustain crew for journeys that could go over a thousand miles without spotting land. Even while fully loaded, their double hull vessels are swifter than most large carracks. The Fionn are a peaceful people, so their naval skills are underdeveloped compared to other maritime countries. They lack cannons and ballistas, and in times of conflict Fionn rely on raiding rather than long range battles. This might explain why, despite their lengthy history of sailing, they were easily dominated by Pentland.
The Fionn practice tattooing and scarification to record their life histories and events. Coming of age, the first shark killed, among other rites of passage are intricately inscribed upon their bodies. No two Fionn will bear the same tattoos, with differentiation in common symbols meant to express individuality.
Fionn love to party with many celebrations involving bonfires, smoked meats, music, and group dances.
The anniversary of their arrival on Tuil Sianaach is a particularly auspicious day, which means the week leading up to the main festivity involves a series of smaller parties hosted by some of the island’s more prominent Fionn families (namely those on the council). The main festivity is a feast where everyone on the island contributes a dish. People indulge in each other’s household recipes and trade cooking tips, while groups dance and sing for everyone’s entertainment. At the end of the feast, the Fionn row into the bay with a large effigy on a raft. The effigy is burned while all the Fionn look on, and it’s said this ritual cleanses the people of their bad luck built up throughout the year.
An annual boat festival celebrates Fionn shipbuilding, and shipwrights brightly decorate their prized double hull voyaging canoes with flags, tassel bunting, and fabric canopies. Men and women wear brightly colored ceremonial garments with coral beading and seasilk embroidery. Decorated boats parade in the bay, and outrigger canoes race for a grand prize.
The history of Tuil Fionn can be separated into two categories, pre- and post-colonization. Tuil Sianaach’s time as a sovereign country is longer than the century, plus some decades, under Imperial Pentland rule.
Written history from the early days of the Tuil Fionn is lacking and most of what’s known about them has been passed down orally or preserved as artistry. It’s said that proto-Fionn were paler skinned and from islands within a colder climate. How these people caught the exploration bug is still a matter of debate around bonfires late at night, but it’s said these proto-Fionn were influenced by the wind and water spirits to find a better, warmer, and more abundant home. At the time, their vessels were simpler but still able to sail over open water. They followed migratory birds heading east, incrementally going further and further each year’s migration. Complex wayfinding skills ensured they could either find their way home or to a new island nearby should they lose sight of these birds. They lived a simple life as tribalistic sea nomads for centuries as they journeyed between islands but spent most of their lives out in the open ocean.
When the Fionn finally reached Tuil Sianaach, an island larger than any they encountered previously, they settled and built up villages and small cities. The island was initially lacking native wildlife except for seasonal migratory birds and small lizards called Kaas rippers, but the Fionn brought with them animals and plants from the previous islands they visited which are used for livestock and crops. The most important foodstuff brought to Tuil Sianaach is a purple tuber called “tasheen.” It grows in wetlands and has large elephant ear-like leaves. Its tuber can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Food prepared with tasheen has a rich purple color.
Their arrival on Tuil Sianaach marked a period of advancement as their new society required more organization and structure. Though the Fionn remained tribalistic along family lines, they developed a system of governance with a council of representatives to legislate and mediate island issues. Most settlements were built on stilts in shallows within the interior bay of the crescent isle with a few smaller settlements on land dedicated to growing tubers, tending native nut tree orchards, and animal husbandry. Aquatic farming was further developed the longer they were settled, with coral reefs cultivated and maintained for a sustainable supply of seafood.
Large crustaceans, simple and docile by nature and native to the region around Tuil Sianaach, were utilized by some Fionn for transport between islands around the crescent isle. The creatures also provided their own habitats for fish and migratory birds given their great size. Some creatures are large enough to be akin to a motile island, and a few Fionn utilized them as their home rather than settle permanently on Tuil Sianaach.
Interactions with Oneidhae
The Fionn were not necessarily alone on Tuil Sianaach. They had suspicious neighbors called the Oneidhae, merfolk who live in vast network cities underwater within the vicinity of the crescent isle. Relations were initially not good, since both cultures are aquatically inclined and would sometimes compete for space in the bay. Scuffles happened often in the early days due to both language and cultural barriers. Over time they developed a mutual tolerance since each side had a commitment to keep the area thriving and to keep interactions between Fionn and merfolk minimal. Some cooperative projects developed involving fish farming and trade, but otherwise they had a hands-off approach towards each other.
Some Fionn settled on the islands that are known as Arrantiada, Kargaan-Eurymedon, Thule, and Adoración but in lesser numbers than Tuil Sianaach. These Fionn encountered proto-Pentlanders and adventurous Tollorians first as these newcomers began to settle on Kargaan-Eurymedon, Arrantiada, and Thule. The proto-Pentlanders became more territorial and first pushed out Fionn on Kargaan-Eurymedon, followed by the great dragons. Then Fionn fled Arrantiada after plantation owners on the island asked for Pentland’s assistance in driving away Tollorians.
Tuil Fionn’s story of the last century is one of a downtrodden people under colonial rule by the naval superiority of Pentland.
Imperial Pentland Incursions
Fionn on Tuil Sianaach were not unaware of the aggressions against their kin on neighboring isles, and proto-Pentlanders had already staked claims on their paradisiacal home. Many grew nervous about these foreigners, but none had assumed they’d be taken over so quickly. Soon proto-Pentlanders were a cohesive, imperialistic nation with colonies and tributaries grouped together and known as Greater Pentland. It wasn’t long until the newcomers who had less regard for delicate balances in the environment found and began mining and dredging for precious resources. The more docile Fionn were ill-equipped for invaders that had built up their navy in a short time. Whatever resistance they attempted was easily squashed. The Fionn and Oneidhae shared their ill-will towards the colonizers and staged more decisive interventions, including nighttime raids on vessels hauling rare minerals and gems. Imperial Pentland retaliated by dumping poisons on a reef. Both sides claim they never engaged in questionable and terroristic behaviors, but regardless the Oneidhae were terrified of seeing their homes destroyed and thus surrendered.
Tuil Sianaach changed as the land and seas were exploited. Biodiversity on land and in the sea diminished. Large gatherings of Fionn were severely surveyed by Imperial Pentland, and vibrant cultural practices diluted as less Fionn were alive who could remember the old days. The Fionn in their helpless sullenness began emigrating by either becoming true sea nomads who roam the Green Sea or working from ship to ship to various ports of call. Certain rebellious Fionn took to piracy in the South Sea and specifically target Pentland ships. A few Fionn allied with Imperial Pentland, in the hopes that doing so might bring them some power and stability. They act as spies and informants, and their presence has sewn distrust among the Fionn population.