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Humans ('ven' comes from 'fen' or 'group of people') from Old Sartor who withdrew to caves beneath the mountains to escape the terrible war. They did not emerge for centuries; they preserved the most of the old knowledge, strictly kept to themselves for the most part. Melanin is all but gone from their hair and skin due to the many centuries underground. Their fingers and toes were altered by magic early on to enable them to cope with underground life, thus they have talons instead of nails. (See Silverwood in the atlas for possible origins.) They emerged into surface history for a relatively brief and disastrous time roughly around the first rise and spread of the Sartoran and Venn empires, after which the remainder withdrew for another long stretch of centuries.[1] They are also known, more rudely, as Marlons--"outcasts" as many did not like the looks of those talons, the pale skin, the weird colorless hair.[2] The cities they live in underground are known as Geliaths.[3] (Their references to surface cultures as "sunsiders" began as an epithet, like marlons, but both became more or less accepted, especially sunsiders.)

They are famed for two things: The first is their song. They have taken the intricacies of polyphony to an extraordinary degree, using echoes as counterpoint as well as singing in round. The shifts between keys, the triplets, considered characteristic of Sartoran music are mostly from the morvende--by way of Toar.

The second thing they are famed for is their weaving. Because their clothing does not have to protect them from weather, they are able to weave delicate, complicated patterns in threads spun so fine a hair seems thick by comparison. Depending on which continent and geliaths you visit, the weave has characteristics. On Sartor, the morvende tend to weave white on white, utilizing complicated symbolism woven into the fabric, the patterns only visible by shimmer, or by feel. On other continents, color is prized, and used to complicated and stunning effect.

Generally speaking there is weaving for home (and some of the weavings are so large and complicated they have taken years to make and to parse) and those for trade outside with the sunsiders. They will trade for flax, but they mostly use various silks they have developed over the centuries, some of which have been shared with, or discovered, by the Colendi. Weaving is considered an act of harmony, same as song: both have strong resonance for the morvende.

There are some morvende who live on the surface, usually in mountains. Occasionally individuals choose to join the sunsiders either for a time or for life, and no one holds them back.

Ordinary folk are sometimes accepted among some of the subsets as well. Morvende are not a homogenous culture. Spread all over the world as they are, they have developed variations in culture over the centuries. The groups have not been completely isolated due to the abilities of their mages to shift through the waters from space to space. But there are variations. For example, there have been various attempts to emulate or capture sunlight. For a time various geliaths combined their magic to draw sunlight into great crystal 'suns' that were suspended high in enormous caverns. There, some groups labored to bring in soil so they could grow gardens and trees. Others went the other way, carving the rock into a semblance of gardens: there is the famed crystal forest, whose 'trees' are lucent rock, filled with life, the carvings correct down to the bumps in leaves. There is another jewel garden, where great gemstones were carved into flowers--rubies to opening roses, for example.

Other morvende created complicated wind tunnels so that moving air and reflected real light could be projected far down below the level of the surface.

Mostly, though, the varying attitudes toward light carried over into Sartoran and especially to Colendi culture: it is not Sartor, but Colend, that has evolved the custom that a room that casts shadows is rude. Except when there is a Shadow Night held.

Most are vegetarian, eating mostly nuts and mushrooms of an amazing variety, but some Morvende eat fish.

Because travel between geliaths is a matter of will (and the magical waters), they share a language, a form of Sartoran that is closer to the Old Sartoran than new, though still understandable due to the steady communication with Eidervaen.

  1. Inda Glossary
  2. LJ. 14709
  3. SJ.part2chap.5

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Page last modified on June 07, 2013, at 10:31 AM