Dal'Ra
Honor, nobility, and lineage.
A quotidian Dal'Ra scene.

Overview

Originally, the Dal'Ra were a nomadic people divided into thousands of tribes living in a hunter-gatherer society with a close relationship to nature. While some aspects of this lifestyle have survived throughout the ages, their naturalistic way of life is but a faint memory. Honor, nobility, and lineage are the three pillars that their feudal-like society is built upon today.
Each member of the Dal'Ra is forced into a rigid caste system from birth, wherein the aristocracy faces political intrigue and the peasantry the struggle of survival of the fittest on a daily basis. Moving up the social ladder is nigh-impossible, and only through feats of strength and wit or heroic deeds can a Dal'Ra's position be elevated.
Change doesn't come easy to this secluded people. They still roam the lands, only now from their slowly hovering fortress cities, always in pursuit of the great herds that their ancestors used to hunt on foot thousands of years ago.

Physiology

The Dal'Ra mostly look like predatory mammals with a generally strong and muscular physique. There are some that look more herbivorous, but even they are armed with sharp teeth, claws, spikes, or horns, a reminder of their fierce nature. Others are more feline in nature with lean, agile bodies, capable of moving with astonishing grace and precision.
To preserve genetic traits, Dal'Ra nobles are incredibly selective when associating with other highborn families. Through arranged marriages, the offspring of one's family is expected to continue the bloodline or even enhance it, thus furthering their societal status. The ultimate goal of every self-respecting highborn family is to get one of their kin onto a fortress city's throne, making them the ruler of that fortress city.

Society

As their society is feudal-like, the individual name of a Dal'Ra and that of their family is extremely important. Through name alone, an individual may be destined for greatness. This leads to high expectations placed on cubs of the aristocracy from birth. Males are especially pressured to bring honor to the family and further the bloodline due to its patriarchy.
There are many ritualistic trials a young Dal'Ra will face on their way to adulthood. Should they fail and bring shame over the family, they will swiftly fall from grace and be shunned by their highborn kin.
In this event, tradition demands their surname is taken from them, and they are cast out to live a life roaming the streets outside the grand pyramid palaces with the rest of the peasantry from then on.
Some try to climb the social ladder and regain their place by performing heroic deeds like hunting the most dangerous game. Others seek out a Warden to officially challenge one of their former family members to a ritualistic duel that could earn them back their name. A few succeed, but most fail.
It isn't uncommon that these outcasts, or Oyak, turn their upbringing to their advantage. Schooled in combat, politics, and strategy from an early age, they form groups of mercenaries, cut-throats, or criminal bands of pick-pockets to eke out a living on the streets.
Members of the lower castes, however, do not have this privilege of training and schooling. They are not even seen as worthy of having a surname. Despite this, the peasantry is still fiercely proud of their heritage and thus their home city. Therefore, they mostly call themselves by their name followed by their profession and the fortress city they hail from.
To earn their daily meat, members of the Dal'Ra pursue all kinds of occupations. Once again, however, society dictates what that means for each individual. A Dal'Ra's family background will almost exclusively dictate their career path. It is very difficult for families with low status to occupy high-status jobs.
For example, the literal path a city takes, i.e., where it will travel to next on Serra, is decided by the de facto clergymen called Wardens. Below them are officials, merchants, entertainers, and even lower stand the craftsmen such as stonemasons and blacksmiths. The peasantry tackles the undignified and dirty work.
In a lot of cases, though, skill does not equal status. A highly skilled job may have low status as conformity to heritage and traditions dictates Dal'Ra society.
The highest status in Dal'Ra society is held by the hereditary monarch. Each fortress city has a monarch, and each fortress city's monarch rules over that city. They give privileges and land to the highborn families, "land" is the most desirable commodity on an island-like hovering city. Socio-economic and political decisions are also made by the monarch, who is counseled by members of the nobility.

Culture

While the aristocracy strives to talk in a neutral and stately way, the lower castes generally use more growls and guttural sounds to get their points across, they gesticulate a lot and raise their voices much more frequently.
The higher up on the social ladder, the more embroidered the clothing and bejeweled the individual. Skillful artisans sow emblems and family crests onto long flowing robes which are dyed with expensive, handmade colors. These robes are mostly made from cloth or other natural materials and are usually combined with armor made from rare metals and masterfully integrated technology.
Conversely, lowborn Dal'Ra own fewer colorful garments. They are generally plainer, dressed in worn leather and tattered cloth. If they own heirlooms, such as brooches or the teeth of their forebears, they wear them on leather straps around their neck.
These items are cherished beyond anything else. Through this, they honor their ancestors and keep their legacy alive. In fact, science and progress are generally not something that the Dal'Ra strive towards. They are more concerned with tradition, ancestry, and heritage.
Dal'Ra enjoy physical activities, especially traditional martial dances before a hunt or during festivities. These dances are accompanied by thundering drums, chanting, and singing. They are ritual acts or gifts to the ancestors who took part in the same dances with the exact same choreography decades ago. Interestingly, there is no word for music in Dal'Ra society. Musicians "sing" on their instruments while dancing is seen as "singing with your feet".

Belief systems

The blood that flows through their veins, as well as genetic traits, are a spiritual concept to the Dal'Ra. Through heritage, they honor the legacy of their forebearers and worship their memory.
To uphold family lineages, and therefore respect their ancestry, highborn families often employ the services of Wardens as genealogy experts to council them on advantageous marriages.
Although they do not hold religious office, Wardens are members of what can loosely be called the clergy of Dal'Ra society. Their duties include upholding traditions, steering the great fortress cities, and keeping track of bloodlines.
Dal'Ra believe the soul of their ancestors is at the heart of everything they do. For example, the fortress cities hover around 10 meters above ground and move at walking speeds to not damage the nature below and honor their ancestors' land.
This steadfast belief in upholding honor combined with ever-mounting social pressure and the scheming and competition for supremacy in every aspect of their lives has, perhaps inevitably, led to spite and bitterness permeating their relationships. This means that Dal'Ra hold grudges and never forget when they have been wronged. As a result, animosities between families or whole cities lasting for generations are commonplace. Some blood feuds have even led to the near-extinction of some of the most prominent Dal'Ra bloodlines.

Habitat

Dal'Ra are nomadic, constantly venturing forth, covering vast distances within traditional tribal hunting grounds. Time has seen them develop technology that combines the comfort of a modern city with their nomadic roots. Their hovering fortress cities are a sight to behold.
In the middle of each city, a monumental pyramid reaches for the clouds. It is the seat of the monarch. Around this pyramid lie the noble districts.
Lush and decorated stone ziggurats with many terraces dominate the skyline. Martial training spaces, other recreational activities, and intricate canals flowing with water are hidden behind thick stone walls manned by guards. The guards are kept busy maintaining the separation of higher castes from the lowborn mob.
The architecture, in general, is thick and blocky. Hefty doors occasionally punctuate the enormous walls as a reminder of everyone's place in society. The architecture is lined with technology with intricate buttons and mechanisms built into surfaces to open windows, reveal hidden stairs, or extend bridges between buildings.
Outside a fortress city's walls, the craftsmen and peasantry intermingle. They have formed various districts organised by specialisation and live in tent-like structures with the occasional stone house of a wealthy merchant close to the palace walls. Massive storage spaces for the long journeys a city takes are kept stocked at all times. On the edges of the giant, floating fortress cities lie the slums, home to the lowest of the low and the poorest of the poor.
During the day, masses of Dal'Ra move out of the cities and follow their professions. They go hunting, trading, or foraging for resources to sell or process back at home. Since the fortress cities are on the move most of the time, the richer Dal'Ra usually carry a homing beacon to easily find their way back home after a long journey. In contrast, the poorer members of society have to rely on knowledge of the ancient traditions and pathways that a city takes. In some unfortunate cases, this can lead to years of separation should a city cross a large body of water.

Technology

Since they are a rather secluded society, members of the Dal'Ra do not excel in sciences and technological progress. Dal'Ra have slowly adapted to the modern world by incorporating technology into their lifestyle. They mostly build upon the technology that other races produce and augment and enhance it to fit their own needs.
For example, they augmented existing hover-technology from other species to such perfection that they started to raise more and more things above ground, enabling them to take ever more things on their nomadic journey. This culminated in the first floating fortress cities. These early versions expanded ever outwards to form the gigantic fortress cities the Dal'Ra are known for today.
This habitual adaption has become such an integral part of their technological prowess as making something from scratch would lack the most important part: the legacy of an ancestor, a soul.
To adapt this further, certain Dal'Ra craftsmen have become masters in incorporating technology into old heirlooms and ancient weaponry, thus honoring kin and tradition. These specialists are highly sought after by the aristocracy, with most noble families even going so far as to permanently employ the best craftspeople, giving them the opportunity to live an objectively better life behind palace walls.
Last modified 7mo ago
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Overview
Physiology
Society
Culture
Belief systems
Habitat
Technology