Raikoth was one of the traditional counties of Elwynn, since 1705 AN under the jurisdiction of the Cimmeria and Raikoth Special Autonomous Region of the Benacian Union, situated on a boreal island between Benacia and Apollonia commonly called Hyperborea. Although it had a long history as an independent nation, it has been a subdivision of Shireroth until 1671 AN when it joined the Elwynnese Republic as a bailiwick. After the Second Elwynnese Civil War had concluded in 1696, Raikoth became part of the Free Elwynnese Republic as the county of Hyperborea, a condition that persisted until its occupation by the Benacian Union in 1705 AN. It has traditionally been noted for its distinctive culture, lore, and language, which bear scant relation to those of any other culture in the world today. It was also, prior to the discovery of Leng, once considered to be the most northerly site of permanent human habitation on Micras. Raikothin culture continues to exist in Hyperborea, notably in the bailiwick of the Raikothin Autonomous Region.
The seven major cities of Raikoth were united in prehistoric/early historic times by conqueror Narsi Nodorion, who had fled to the boreal wastes with the intent of creating a sanctuary for refugees fleeing the fall of Audentior, prompting widespread resistance to his rule. When a volcanic eruption plunged the land into famine and darkness, holy man Kadmi Rachumion made Narsi an offer: he would intercede with the volcano spirit and restore prosperity, but Narsi must give him the throne if he succeeded. Kadmi then went on a pilgrimage through polar wasteland to Mount Yaanek, the icy volcano in the center of the island, entered through a cave, and pled to the volcano spirit for mercy. The volcano spirit introduced Kadmi to its masters, the true gods of the universe, two extraordinarily powerful beings named Truth and Beauty. Kadmi won promises from Truth and Beauty to quiet the volcano in exchange for his promise to spread enlightenment, virtue, and happiness to Raikoth.
Narsi Nodorion kept his word and abdicated the throne in favour of Kadmi, but the prophet faced several years of warfare before he could ensure that the fragile coalition of cities held together. During this period he was helped by a series of astounding events, including a star falling from the sky to fight in his armies, and Kalirin princess Kaya Kalirion agreeing to aid his cause in exchange for immortality (a promise Kadmi delivered by teaching her the art of writing). After unifying the cities, Kadmi began construction of a new capital, developed a new language whose very grammar was inimical to falsehood, took disciples from all over the island, wrote a record of his wisdom in the Book of Cold Rain, and finally died. These same factors that gave it its special character also retarded its growth, and although at one time it had over a prosperous citizenry and a flourishing government, it eventually sank into the general chaos of the Apollo Sector at the time, being subsumed into New Audentior and Jasonia in turn.
Hyperborea became independent again after the fall of the Union of Apollo States, and had a second brief period of flourishing during which it played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Micronational Cartography Society. This period saw a shift to a more Nordic theme, the rise of Orion as an important political leader, and a gradual relaxing of its strict code to permit closer ties with Shireroth. The period ended with its absorption into the Commonwealth of Benacia, the Hegemony of Alexandros, and eventually the United Republic of Tymaria. Due to the internal politics of Tymaria, Hyperborea found it expedient to annex itself to Shireroth; a treaty gives it the unique right to secede from Shireroth whenever it desires.
Within Shireroth Hyperborea became an important cultural center and eventually the leading region of the Duchy of Elwynn. On January 1 2003 it absorbed the rest of Elwynn to become the center of the Duchy of Hyperborea, an entity which included such important Shirerithians as pro-democracy leader Philip Locke and Kaiser Yarad I. Around the time of the so-called New Feudalism, political leader Scott Alexander decided he wanted to make it less of a power player and more of a cultural development project; Hyperborea was demoted to a County, or single-person fief, and renamed Raikoth, its original name in the Hyperborean language. It later became the center of Kai-Raikoth, a larger political division including Cimmeria, Bjorngard, and parts of mainland Elwynn.
Since then, Raikoth concentrated primarily on developing its constructed society, especially its religion, government, philosophy, art, and architecture. In this it has been generally helped by its long-time foil the Zjandarian Babkhans, whose conflicts with the Raikothin formed the basis for many interesting stories. These briefly took on a national significance when Babkho-Hyperborean leader Hesam Jahandar rose to the throne of Shireroth, but quickly returned to local interest only after his equally abrupt fall. Raikothin culture changes every few years based on Alexander's current conception of a utopian society, but retains several constants that have kept it recognisable within Shireroth and the broader Micras Sector.
Nithi Kirenion once described Raikoth as an "emergent oracular techno-theocracy", although it's unclear if even he could explain exactly what this meant.
Much of the important governmental work in Raikoth is done by oracles, people or organisations who predict the outcome of events using historical analogy, mathematical models, or educated intuition. Oracles are monitored and ranked on the accuracy of their predictions, with more accurate oracles rising to greater importance in determining policy.
Various priesthoods, especially the Priests of Joy, are tasked with creating databases of population values, including exchange rates for various quantified material and philosophical goods. Through discussion in Kadhamic, a constructed language in which it is difficult to speak falsehood, these values are made to reflect upon themselves and determine the true will of the Raikothin people.
Anyone with a plan for improving Raikoth was welcome to run the plan through an oracle and determine its effect on those parameters which the society values; those plans which increase the happiness of society take the force of law, and are promulgated and enforced by independent governmental organisations.
Raikoth considered itself a theocracy because its government was meant to implement the will of the gods, Truth and Beauty. This was understood pragmatically as an attempt to fulfil the potential of the world by acting with clear and correct understanding of reality. Because of this theocratic tone, most government officials called themselves priests of one sort or another.
During the upheavals caused by Elwynn's first secession from Shireroth, Raikoth remained loyal to the Kaiser and formed strong connections with the surrounding Shirerithian lands, including Cimmeria, Bjorngard, and North Elwynn. Bjorngard was once considered a mostly-assimilated Raikothin colony and fortress; the Cimmerian Isles in contrast were a half-civilsed realm plagued by rebellion against Raikothin cultural encroachment, while North Elwynn was supported in its uneasy peace with the treasonous Elwynn Riqi Adurellion, against whom Raikoth has sworn to defend them.
Time marched on and as the lustre of Raikothian philosophy began to fade so too did the relevance and dynamism of the contribution of Raikoth to the wider Imperial Republic. The population, besieged for eleven months of the year by unrelenting winter, retreated into a nativism and "thought rigidity" which rejected almost all forms of innovation and contact with the outside world. For almost a century now up, to the present year (1686 AN), the extent of the contact between Imperial and latterly Elwynnese administrators and the native population of the interior has been limited to sporadic dialogues with the "High [unstranslatable] of Raikoth", who appeared to a senior officiant in the holy orders who served as a spokesman for a seeming confederation of monasteries situated away from the coastal regions controlled by the civilising power of Elwynn.
KALEN is the southernmost, largest, and richest city. It stands on Raikoth's only river. The river is more of a stream, but the water is used for irrigation during the very brief growing season. Kalen's about an inrhon (a unit of measurement = one day's walk) from the sea, and stands in the middle of a flat plain. The climate is similar to that of northern Scotland and the Orcades. Winters are mild, and summers are longer than they are elsewhere on the island.
Kalen is the only Raikothlin tiel that supports itself primarily by farming. Staple crops are apples, nuts, berries, and rye. There are also a few crops with no exact non-Raikothlin equivalents, including a citrus fruit similar to a lime, a vine similar to grapes, and the omnipresent niphil flowers. Cattle are not common, though there are enough musk oxen and sheep to provide a strategic source of fibers in the case of a conflict with the other Tairakothin cities. Hot spring farming is less important than in other tielal.
In the Age of Mists, Kalen was ruled by the Kalirion Dynasty, said to be descended from polar bears. It was the unofficial capital of Raikoth until the official capital was founded in Tala, and remains the economic and cultural center. Its rivalry with Midhoth has lasted four thousand years, ever since the two cities vied for control of Tairakoth during the Age of Mists.
MIDHOTH is two or three inrhonal north of Kalen. The two cities have been at each other's throats since the Age of Mists. Its climate is little different from Kalen's, but its surroundings are rolling and rocky and agriculture is almost impossible except of low-requirement luxury crops like niphil flowers. The Midhothlin are mostly shepherds, although a few fisherman stick near the shore in poorly built boats. They are a poor city with little interest in trade or culture.
Midhoth's harsh environment and limited economic opportunities has given them a decidedly militaristic bent, and the only pan-Raikothlin empire before Kadham was that of the Midhothlin tyrant Narsi Nodorion. During the Age of Mists, their main source of wealth was plundering their luckier neighbors to the north and south. Their culture did not take well to the peace Kadham brought to Raikoth, and many Midhothlin have a sort of desperate arrogance, as if their birthright has been taken away. They tend to cause trouble for the Council, resist integration attempts, and consider themselves superior to the other tielal. Among their few positive contributions are a disproportionate number of vebedhal and excellent dairy products.
ANSHIR is only an inrhon north of Midhoth, on a rocky promontory jutting out into the sea. The Anshirae were shipbuilders extraordinaire, and live, one might say, in harmony with the sea. No doubt this has something to do with a paucity of arable land and an old tendency of Midhoth's to raid and kill their cattle. In the time of Karusion, when the White Ships began to sail, Anshir was the chief port of Raikoth, and even eclipsed Kalen in terms of international trade.
The Anshirae were in ancient times purported to be the only masters of Rakive, the art of taming and riding dolphins. In the Age of Mists, such troops were important in fending off Midhothlin and Kalenin navies. Nowadays the veneration of dolphins remained a tradition for tradition's sake, and art work featuring aquatic duels between men mounted on dolphins is a common motive on artwork produced in this settlement, most notably upon the painted sealskin screens which are raised and paraded during the Ainaifest celebrations in Anshir.
Peaceful until provoked, Anshir was usually an ally of Kalen in their mutual resistance against Midhoth during the Age of Mists. Now, they are primarily a port for travels to and from Valus, aquaculture a shipbuilding centre, a fishermans' harbour, a centre for engineering and technological innovation, and a great experiment in aquaculture.
TALISRE is about ten inrhonal north of Anshir, and a centrally located tiel. A pilgrimage from any other city to Tala has to pass through Talisre, as does any trip from Tairakoth to the rest of the island. Talisrelin are mostly shepherds and merchants, although there is some small amount of farming.
Talisrelin have a reputation for being friendly and easygoing, perhaps because one of the city's main industries is providing hospitality for travellers. Coriolander, the second most important Raikothlin prophet, was a Talisrelin, and the city proudly identifies with his message of universal brotherhood. As consistently as Midhoth opposes the central government, Talisre consistently supports it.
IRSIL, a few inrhonal northwest of Talisre, is the smallest southern tiel. Located high in the hills, food is the limiting resource here, and what little there is comes from cattle, hunting, trade, and limited geyser farms. Irsil is surrounded by copper mines and some sources of precious gemstones, but despite the stereotype of the surly, brutish miner, Irsilelin are cheerful and philosophical.
TARAS, fifteen inrhonal north of Irsil, is the capital of the far north. Farming is impossible here, and herding tends more towards managing the vast herds of wild caribou and musk oxen than any controlled cattle breeding. Geyser farming, aquaculture, and hunting are also crucial to Taras' existence.
The city is called "The White Tiel" for the high quality and lustre of the white stone out of which it is constructed. It is a center of arts rivalled only by Kalen in the south, but because of the huge geographical gulf between the two, the cities usually have completely different styles. Taras is also much influenced by being the gateway to the Cold Waste in the interior, where hermits and outcasts go to build a life away from society. The hunters in the Waste bring goods for trade to Taras, from where they later get transported further south after bringing a profit into the city's coffers.
Kadham Ragum, the most important prophet of Raikoth, was originally from Taras although he spent much of his life in Kalen, and Taralin don't let visitors forget this for a second. The Taralin support the central government out of loyalty to Kadham, and continue his tradition of mathematical and philosophical excellence.
SITHLI, twenty inrhonal north of Taras, is at the very edge of what could be called habitable by any stretch of the imagination. Some would deny it is in the habitable zone at all, and say its people cling to life only out of sheer perversity. It sits in the interior of a big island off the Raikothlin coast, and exists only by grace of the hundreds of hot springs surrounding it. Geyser farming is literally a life-and-death matter here, though fishing, whaling, and aquaculture are also popular.
Sithlelin are ethnically distinct from the rest of the Raikothlin, and consider themselves a race apart. Their origins are unknown, and they were not part of Narsi Nodorion's Raikothlin Empire or the original confederation of cities under Kadham Ragum. They are now assimilated genetically, culturally, and linguistically, but something about them remains subtly Other. The few travellers and traders who reach Sithli don't find it a very inviting place, and usually leave after their business is done.
Some say that the Sithlelin have gotten too close to whatever mysteries exist in the deep north, and that their humanity has suffered. Others say they were never entirely human to begin with, and that unlike the other Raikothlin tribes who came from the south, the Sithlelin came from the deep north and wandered southward into human realms. Nevertheless, the Sithlelin participate in the central government with benign indifference, participate in the central religion with benign formality, and deal patiently with foreigners until they get the message and leave of their own volition.
SHINOMAI, three inrhonal interior of Kalen in the south, is no longer inhabited. It is the legendary ruins of the first Raikothlin city, constructed millennia before Kadham before even the Age of Mists. According to legend, the first tribes to wander onto Raikoth from the south built it around the first potable water they found in the new land.
Shinomai has seven springs within a few hundred meters of each other, and separate communities ("tribes") developed around each of these that diffused together into a unified city without losing their own individual character. When the springs ran dry, each tribe set off on its own to locate a new source of water, founding the six traditional tielal (Kalen, Midhoth, Anshir, Irsil, Talisre, Taras). The seventh tribe, the Komyye, dispersed among the cities of the other six. The last tielal, Sithli, does not trace its descent from Shinomai.
Nowadays, Shinomai is a set of picturesque ruins in Raikoth's only forest. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Tairakothlin, who come during the summer to pay their respects to the long-dry ancestral springs. "Shinomai" has also (thanks to the songs of Coriolander) taken on the sense of a future paradise, for which one's soul yearns and which it can perhaps someday reach.
Before the springs in Shinomai ran completely dry, each tribe collected a certain portion of their own spring's sacred water. Bottles of such water are extremely important relics in the tielal with which they are associated (a popular Raikothlin curse is to say one has pissed in the ancestral water of someone else's tribe - the phrase sounds better in Kalasperelin).
TALA, six inrhonal inland from Talisre, is the political and religious center of Raikoth, and the capital of the central government instituted by Kadham. The city, which stands on the slopes of the sacred volcano Mt. Yaanek, is built primarily out of ice, which at Tala's elevation never melts. It features some of the most spectacular architecture of all Raikoth, and is a popular pilgrimage destination.
Tala has no source of food. All foodstuffs are bought or taxed off of the other tielal. Tala has no shortage of money: aside from taxation, various social systems promote donating money to the Tala government. Pilgrims usually come laden with coin, and mines in the surrounding mountains are rich sources of silver, opals, and other valuables.
Tala is accessible only in the summer. During the winter, the mountain paths become impassable, and the city stocks up on food and ceremonially shuts its gates until springtime.
"Perelithve": philosophy and religion
Perelithve is the Raikothlin word for the prevailing Hyperborean philosophy/religion. It means "the way of Truth and Beauty". Raikothin society is based on a philosophy of deterministic materialist utilitarian noology: the belief that the world operates by rational laws, that correct understanding of those laws promotes an urge to improve human existence, and that improving human existence requires particular focus on the inner workings of the brain and mind. This is cashed out in a nationalized formalization of positive psychology, the science of determining what makes people enjoy their lives.
Raikothin religious practice consists of a philosophical layer of dual theism overlaid upon a much older background of animism and superstitious tradition.
Most prominent is the worship of Elith and Ainai, Truth and Beauty, who are viewed simultaneously as mystical forces, anthropomorphic beings, and everyday concepts. Truth represents the physical world-as-it-is; Beauty represents the subjective inner world of meaning and desire. The world is the dialogue (mystically, the act of procreation) between Truth and Beauty: matter self-organising according to law to give itself subjective meaning, and it constantly tends towards a state of greater integration - reality made more beautiful or beauty made more real. Humans are natural parts of this integration, and the purpose of human existence is to resolve the seeming conflict between truth and beauty in order to make the universe more fully created. The child of Truth and Beauty, and the natural result of the procreative process they undergo, is Joy.
More solidly, Truth is represented as a stern black-haired man who rules the ice, the winter, and the night; Beauty is represented as a gold-haired woman who rules the sun, summer, and day. In Raikothin myth, the two rule the universe together, dispensing justice to the various lesser beings and spirits.
In addition, Raikothin mythology includes a dizzying array of local gods, mountain and river spirits, ice demons, and various entities representing everything from the hours of the day to to the terms of an oath. Many center on the fantastic lands to the north of the world, inhabited by glorious civilizations of polar bears and terrifying dancing lights. These myths also list various rituals and superstitions necessary to propitiate these spirits and live in peace with nature.
A key feature of Raikothin religion is the ability to switch from the viewpoint of Truth to the viewpoint of Beauty. In the viewpoint of Truth, entities like mountain spirits do not exist; mountains are purely natural entities. In the viewpoint of Beauty, it is enjoyable and meaningful to imagine entities such as mountain spirits, and they lend a certain grandeur to the world - therefore mountain spirits exist. Knowing when to use the viewpoint of Truth and when to use the viewpoint of Beauty is an important skill taught to all Raikothlin, and foreigners can often see them switch en masse from starry-eyed shamanists to hard-headed rationalists instantly on cues invisible to the outside observer.
The philosophy centers around Ainai (northern dialects: Per) and Elith, two figures who would probably be termed "gods" according to our own religious sensibilities but who are treated much more subtly in actual Hyperborean philosophy. Ainai is the goddess/force/concept of beauty, Elith the god/force/concept of truth.
Elith represents everything that actually objectively exists, in the exact way that it actually exists. The world of Elith is mathematical, precise, and completely devoid of subjectivity. He is symbolically associated with winter, stars, the colors blue and silver, and all the hard sciences.
Ainai represents feelings, dreams, hopes, personality, meaning. Her world is numinous, charged with emotion, and fantastic. She is symbolically associated with summer, roses, the colors green and gold, and all the arts.
Both Elith and Ainai exist eternally and completely in and of themselves. However, these separate existences are literally incomprehensible by humans and have no relation to the human world or any value in human terms.
There is also a certain relationship between Elith and Ainai. This relationship has been expressed by poets and philosophers, depending on their earthiness, as love, a kiss, or a sex act. Out of this relationship comes the world and everything significant to humans.
Nothing in the world can exist independently of its connection to both Elith and Ainai. Consider a book, to take the example of the first thing I see on my desk. It exists in the world of Elith, as a series of measurements - two centimeters thick, twenty centimeters in height, and so on - as a set of atoms arranged in certain geometric shapes, and as the syntactic structures that regulate the words upon it. But it also exists in the world of Ainai, as the story within it, the associations and memories it creates in people, and even the feel of your hand stroking the cover.
The universe is constantly struggling to integrate its Elithian and Ainian aspects so as to achieve a complete concurrent expression of Absolute Truth and with Absolute Beauty. This is not a conscious, mental act on the part of the universe; it can be considered more analagous to a chemical reaction between two unlike substances, or like red and yellow mixing to make orange. Nevertheless, this is an extremely difficult process, and it corresponds to the extremely diverse range of phenomena that exist in the universe we observe. It begins with things like rocks and dust, which are neither scientifically/mathematically complex enough to fully express Absolute Truth nor meaningful and beautiful enough to fully express Absolute Beauty, and progresses all the way up to things like animals and people.
Humans are a special case, sort of a maelstrom of unamalgamated Truth-essence and Beauty-essence powerful enough to take an active role in its own amalgamation. We invoke Elith each time we solve a simple math problem or make a logical decision, and we invoke Ainai each time we make a moral or aesthetic judgment. But we ourselves are neither of Elith nor of Ainai, but of the reaction between them. Continuing on the chemical reaction metaphor, we are the light produced as a byproduct between the two reacting substances. Or, to go further, we are the neutrons produced in a nuclear reaction - because we create a positive feedback effect allowing the reaction to bootstrap itself and progress further.
The specific question arising from this, expressed in the context of the belief system, is how are the Elithian portions of me and the Ainian portions of an individual to be integrated in such a way that the love between Elith and Ainai is properly consummated and the universe is brought closer to full perfection.
There is no simple answer to this. The answer is not to sit and ponder this specific question, because the form the answer takes is a life well-lived - whatever that means! A person with a talent for drawing who becomes a great artist has answered the question in one way: bringing the Ainian aspects of zirself into reality by combining them with the Elithian attribute of objecive existence. A politician who has a dream of a more perfect system of government and works to instantiate it has done likewise. A scientist who explains the motions of the planet has done the same thing in reverse: taken something in reality, and cast it into meaningful, elegant terms.
One of the greatest heresies of Perelithve is to try to cut corners in this process; to try and reduce Beauty to Truth or vice versa by a simple rote theory. Platonism, the belief that concepts like goodness and beauty are simply objects that exist in a different world, is a heresy; relativism, the belief that facts are just things people believe is another. It is not a heresy to try to explain things typically viewed as belonging to one world in terms of another. To find patterns in music that explain why people find it beautiful is not a simple reduction of Ainai to Elith, it is an attempt to explain one of the many linkages between them that form the real world.
Hyperboreans tend to resolve many complicated philosophical problems by saying that each side is true in one of the two spheres. So, for example, determinism is correct in the sphere of Elith, but free will is correct in the sphere of Ainai. This is not to be treated as a contradiction, but rather as two separate statements, sort of equivalent to "In a factual, measurable sense, the world is deterministic, but once we slice the world up in such a way as to view it from our perspective as conscious beings, we really do determine our own destiny". Likewise, aesthetics and morality are not factually true or logically derivable, but they exist in the realm of Ainai and therefore shape the universe we live in. Theoretical equations exist in the realm of Elith, and also shape the universe we live in without being literally a part of it.
In the sphere of Elith, Elith and Ainai are interpreted as philosophical principles and ways of looking at the world. In the sphere of Ainai, they are interpreted as people, and this is where Perelithve begins to resemble a religion rather than just a philosophy. Their depictions are relatively constant, and best exemplified in the first chapter of the Book of Loss:
He looks a boy of thirteen summers
His very eyes alight with Knowledge
His flowing hair as dark as Science
His glowing skin as fair as Wisdom
His mouth grown pale and worn from silence
His body decked in blue and silver
In raiments shining blue and silver
And round him, on a silver necklace
A single silver spiral sigil.
And she, a girl of thirteen summers
Her eyes as subtle as mandalas
Her hair as fair and long as comets
And gaily decked with living blossoms
Her mouth grown ripe with pregnant silence
Her body decked in many colors
As if she wore the very rainbow
And round her, on a silver necklace
A single silver spiral sigil.
In mythology, they are the Father God and Mother Goddess of the world, having complete and immediate control over all spirits, demons, and celestial and terrestrial beings. Elith's servants are the fixed stars; Ainai's the "dancing stars", the aurora borealis.
In some unorthodox version of the mythology, Ainai and Elith have a single child, Quai, whose name means "joy". The philosophical implication of this is that joy is the result of successfully integrating Truth and Beauty in one's life and in society.
Raikothlin view a human soul not as an object but as a question the divine asks itself. This question is different for each person, and it operates on a level higher than ordinary thought - that is, it cannot be put into words in any human language. A human life is the process of answering this question by discovering new knowledge, creating new things, and feeling new emotions. A human can know how far ze has progressed in answering this question only by looking at zir own life: a person who is successful, spiritually fulfilled, and hay is probably on the right track.
Since a human life is not viewed as an object good in itself but as a process useful for achieving a goal, Raikothlin views about death are somewhat different than our own. Death is the natural response to successfully answering the question that forms one's life. One should fear death only insofar as one has not yet completed one's task.
Suicide is a common cause of death in Raikoth. Old people who feel they have settled the matter of their life to their own satisfaction and who consider sticking around a waste of their time undergo the ritual of niphlokas, freely chosen death. After a goodbye party with their friends and family, they wrap wreaths of flowers around their head and neck and jump off a cliff into the ocean. About one-quarter of Raikothlin die this way.
The most important death-related custom is the kasapsid, or deathbook. Every Raikothlin should, before dying, write a book that summarises their life. Not a biography, per se, but a list of the lessons they've learned, a summary of the wisdom they've accumulated, their own unique thought processes, and their advice for the young. Most people write several, one when young, in case they die prematurely; another when middle-aged, for the same reason; and a final one when they are old and feel death approaching. Each previous deathbook is destroyed when superseded by a new one.
When a person completes a deathbook, he gives it to the local Temple of Truth, which hides it in a vault. The book is revealed only after the person's death, when it is put on the library shelves next to the books of all other Raikothlin who have died in that city. In accordance with the Raikothlin custom of identifying a person more with the contents of zir mind than with zir physical body, after death a person's name comes to refer to zir deathbook. So it would be perfectly correct to say "I am going to the library to read Nithi today" when you mean "Nithi's deathbook." After death, the person himself is never referred to by name alone, but with a suffix, for example "Nithinomai", meaning something like "lost, respected Nithi."
Each deathbook has a number, marking the order of the person's death. The prophet Coriolander was the first Raikothlin to write a deathbook, so he gets number one. There is a complex system between cities to standardize deathbook numbers, so every Raikothlin knows exactly how many people have died between Coriolander and any specific dead person. Deathbooks are arranged in the library based on the person's number.
Because of the lack of interest in physical bodies, there are no strong traditions about disposal of corpses. In the most northerly cities, especially Taras and Sidhli, relatives cremate bodies; it is too difficult to bury anything in permafrost, and there is too much chance of the bodies remaining intact and undecomposed. In more southerly cities, the body is put directly into the ground, without a coffin, in order to return its components to the soil and the circle of life.
In Kalen, known for its orchards, a special tradition is practised. The body is burnt or buried as previously described, but the brain is separated first. The brain is then planted in the ground with an apple seed inside of it. Over the years, the seed uses the nutrients in the brain to grow into a fruit tree. The prophet Coriolander was the first to choose burial in this way, and it has become popular among his most zealous followers. The fruit from Coriolander's own tree (which still blooms) is considered to be powerful magic, and his priests auction it off yearly and donate the proceeds to charity.
No one marks the spot where bodies or ashes are buried, again out of lack of concern with physical remains. However, the spot where the person died is (when convenient) marked by painted a special symbol upon it in purple paint (the color of death). The symbol is a circle, with the letters NYTA ASYT written around the circumference and the stylised number of the deathbook written in the centre.
NYTA ASYT is an acrostic taking the first letters of a poem of Coriolander's referring to death:
Nothing ever will be lost to ye
Ye will dwell again in Shinomai
Truth and Beauty will dwell next to ye
And all will be at peace''
All is not as it appears to be
Seek in things the secret symmetry
Ye are tesselated endlessly
Through worlds more real than these
As is evident from the poem, Raikothlin have some views on life after death - but they are fuzzy and indistinct. Coriolander wrote on the difference between erasing a question and answering it: an erased question is simply gone, whereas an answered question exists in a passive, unchanging state of perfection. According to his works, life after death is in the state of an answered question; the answer may be either a good one or an unsatisfying one depending on the quality of the life lived.
More explicit are Raikothlin views on reincarnation. Any part of the original question that remains incompletely answered, or answered in a way that is ambiguous or unsatisfying, remains open in the divine mind. The divinity will eventually incorporate those aspects of that question into other human lives, which connects them with the lives of humans who have already died. This is not classic reincarnation of entire humans, but it is a way in which parts of one human soul can be "recycled" into another.
Those people who, while still alive, answer their question so completely as to annihilate all traces of doubt cease being distinct personalities and become avatars of the divine mind in general. Known as the utheyethi, "those who have no name", they tend to live as holy hermits in the wilderness or the Cold Waste. Some commit niphlokas; others remain for inscrutable purposes of their own.
Utheyethi have the power to deliberately choose to reincarnate themselves completely and with at least partial memory of their past lives, similar to what the Dalai Lama does today. Generally, utheyethi never use this power, as their purpose for living is over and they have no reason to remain. In certain very rare circumstances, they may use the power to influence certain events, most notably the Twenty Hermits who took vows of continuous reincarnation during the Loss.
The sort of complete annihilation of the question that produces an utheyethi should not be confused with the normal question-answering process that forms a normal life. In most cases, a life simply provides an answer - maybe a good one, maybe otherwise - and then departs.
Kalasperin, the vernacular of Raikoth, is an agglutinating VSO language nominally in the Nostratic family, and is still under construction. The final product should bear some resemblance to Greek and Finnish but be essentially a priori. The written form of the language is a flowing script of eighteen letters representing consonents plus optional diacritical signs representing vowels;. Each letter is based off a part of the natural world (for example, 'm' is an apple, 's' a river) and words take on poetic or kabbalistic meanings based on the arrangement of their constituent letters.
Kadhamic is an artificial language used to discuss philosophy and politics. Its austere, minimalist structure removes assumptions and value judgments - making propaganda, hate speech, and logical fallacies difficult. For example, a sentence like "Southerners dislike art" would be ungrammatical: the Kadhamic version would come out more like "(I believe with between 50-99% probability) (a majority of) Southerners (have a significantly greater tendency than Northerners to) (emotionally) dislike (what I define as) art", an empirical statement which can then be investigated to determine its truth or falsehood. An absolute taboo on discussing emotional issues like politics in any language but Kadhamic prevents it from becoming a source of division in society and leads to an unusual amount of concord on what would otherwise be controversial issues.
Raikoth practices a non-coercive form of eugenics in which financial and social incentives are used to convince certain people to have more or fewer children, and a highly coercive form of euthenics, in which couples considered at risk of neglecting or abusing their children are forbidden from conceiving and in which the biophysical environment in which children are raised is carefully monitored. As a result, there is an unusually low level of disease, maladjustment, and violence among Raikothlin.
Art and Architecture
Raikothin art focuses on color and geometry, with representational art less common than in many other cultures. Popular media include stained glass, woven fabric, and embellishment of walls, floor, and ceiling. Calligraphy and illumination of manuscripts are also very popular, as are jewelery and (generally nonpermanent) body art.
Architecture is usually monumental and austere, but sometimes includes spectacular domes and minarets. Although the majority of the population live in mobile but comfortable structures resembling yurts, a core of permanent buildings in each city are made of gleaming stone, usually with stained-glass windows, tiled floors, and other decoration. It is common for entire texts to be subtly engraved into the walls of buildings.