Weather:Tropical storms with a seasonal wet/dry climate, near constant rain.
Government: The island is guided by a small circle of matriarchs who attained their status over time. Seirens rise in society according to how many grandchildren they have. Those living with six generations of children naturally fall into the Circle of Mothers. These women act mostly as representatives that write and suggest law and statues to the people, which are voted upon by members of society who have birthed at least one child. They also act as judges for formal squabbles and crime and oversee naval operations as well as trade and supply. Up to date, there are 52 members of the Circle of Mothers.
Culture: All seirens are aware of their connection to Oceanus and Videre, as well as Formosa. They are thus a highly religious society that holds daily public gatherings for hymns and prayer. These sessions happen individually for villages with much larger festivals that span weeks and may even invite travel to the main city of Leimomi, where the shrine of Videre resides. All seirens are taught to believe in temperance and serenity, which invites the spirit of Formosa and opens the mind to truth. They are also taught from a young age to vigorously pursue knowledge, learning of the magic of nature and the philosophy of the world. The average 200 year-old seiren knows around 23 different dialects and is expected to have some talent in the liberal arts as well. Almost all seirens are also expected to have written one or two books to contribute to the overall pool of knowledge. Most of these consist of their time off the island during their iter itineris.
The seirens live in a highly communistic society where the Head Mother of a village determines the needs of the other families and spreads resources according to need and want within reason. Seirens are free to pursue any way of life, but the older among them are expected to teach and help care for the younger seirens. Everyone is expected to spend some regimented time in helping to gather food and other resources, so all seirens learn something of fishing, herbalisim, hunting, woodcutting, and housekeeping.
The most celebrated of skills are generally those associated with art, including sculpture, music, written prose, painting, and even architecture. Sciences are the next celebrated, consisting of ship experimentation, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and so forth. The more necessary tasks that consist of self defense, gathering, and building receive gratitude but generally little celebration. Above all of these, however, none are more exalted than those who have fostered responsible daughters who have endured the iter itineris. While those who survive it are celebrated, the mothers receive even more reputation for the sacrifice and care given to the task.
Seirens, on the surface, care little for the outside world. One rarely, if ever, finds members of other races (particularly males) in their tapestries and mosaics. One will, however, find extensive documentation on outside lands and “trophies” in their places of learning, where even new seeds and animal specimens are cared for.
The Circle of Mothers can be found in almost every place of high society, becoming headmistress of the most formal school, head priestesses of the major shrines, and major business leaders in trade and exploration. Few have ever questioned the wisdom of these long lived seirens, but frustration is often shown in the younger among them that believe the outside world to be less dangerous and more in need of exploration.
There are few things more sacred to Seiren then children. Hitting a child would be akin to slapping Formosa herself, who rescued her own children from the hands of a fearful lover. Children are also considered so pure and vulnerable that it would be insultive for a male to touch a seiren's child. True to Formosa's edicts, however, the seiren also realize that children are entitled to learning reason and discipline, and thus expect much from their children. All have to contribute in some way to the community, and even the youngest among them are expected to aid the work of their mothers as soon as they have strength to.
It is rumored that Formosa taught her children three very specific doctrines that all seiren learn as soon as they are capable of understanding Forerious (the native seiren tongue):
1. You must find and use the power in yourself to build sanctuary for your family.
2. You must find and maintain reason in your life to keep meaning for your existence and the beauty of it around you.
3. You must find and obtain a mate to continue your people and mother your children.
These three edicts are thought to work sequentially as well: first a child learns the skills necessary to survive, then the child searches for meaning and reaches into their own talents to find their “deeper self,” and then the seiren must find a mate in the world and bear children to become a full member of society. Once they return, they are responsible for providing the same knowledge and resources to their posterity.
Seirens also attribute a great deal of meaning to nature. They worship Oceanus as a god of life and generosity, showing respect to him by learning of his realm and treating the creatures of his domain with respect. Prayers to him are given at every meal to remember and praise his kindness in sustaining them.
Great respect is always shown to the mothers of society with grandmothers at the peak. While a seiren may refer to her mother by name, she is expected to address her grandmother(s) with the honorable prefix altus, and if ever speaking to one within the Circle of Mothers, the prefix maior. Seirens do not have surnames, but if necessary, they will apply the name of their longest living mother with the proper prefix. In Erato's case, she would be “Erato of Altus-Elien,” which is the name of her great grandmother.
The society of the seiren is a polite one. Their unique gifts from Videre tend to make them more sensitive and insightful to one another, and violence outside of sparring practice is very, very indecent. Stealing is frowned deeply upon, as one doesn't thieve from an individual, but an entire community when they take or plagiarize what is not their own. They are still very lively in conversation and work, remaining at the peak of health until the last few decades of life.
Experimentation has led the siren into many different kinds of dress, but the numerous variety of plants make for many colors. Linen, silk, and cotton are the main sources of cloth with linen being the most used in the damp and warm climate. Silks are used mostly for formal occasions as well as festivals, but each pieces, from the common to special, are seen as art. Very detailed embroidery is used as well as a great deal of pearls and shells. Precious stones are an immense rarity, most, if any, coming from lands beyond the island. Those details aside, seiren clothes are loose and generally short for land exercises and form-fitting as well as durable for time in the ocean.
Finally, the seiren do believe in an afterlife. The general idea is that all seirens will pass on into an immortal form as a sprite, living blissfully as sprite servants to Videre and Oceanus. There is also the belief that most of these immortal sprites will be sent back to live again in mortal bodies, lacking memories of their previous life but given new gifts and powers to continue enriching the physical world.
Description: The architecture of the seirens consists mostly of wood (all of which is white in color) and earth, spiraling up into trees and sinking down into the water. There is also an extensive use of mosaics for wall art, consisting of marble, paint, and pearls. Metal is extremely hard to come by, and only very few among the seirens know anything about iron ore or how to process it.
Seirens are fond of wide spaces and high arches, often refusing to leave any beam or pillar plain when it could be shaped into the form of a plant or animal. There is also a great lack of stone in their buildings, so little of a building is considered permanent within their lifespan and constant renovation is in order. Colorful canvases and thatched rooftops is what one would see the most of, each of a circular design and spacious in its creation. Wooden floors are the most common for private homes and temples and shrines are housed in caves lined with mosaics.
This manner of architecture leaves the land mostly unscathed. Rocky paths and the occasional statue or fountain can be seen along a road leading anywhere. Only underwater does one see buildings carved into stone, which is mostly granite on the eastern half of the island and basalt on the western part of the shore. As there is also an active volcano just offshore of the west coast, the seiren tend to avoid those waters and even fear the presence of a fire god there.
Banana pudding, roasted fish, fruit salad, guava cake,fried rice, poi, and all manner of sweet barbeque can be found in a seiren's diet. Their pallet tends to be balanced between meats, fruits, and vegetables with grains being a smaller part of their diet.
Points of Interest:
Lake of Mirrors: The largest inland lake of Silva that houses the shrine of Videre. The water itself is tainted with the power of the goddess, said to come from a great stone that was carved into the image of Videre. It siphons the power of the goddess and allows those that swim into its waters to hear and see words and visions from Videre herself. Only those within the Circle of Mothers may grant access to it, often consulting the power itself to receive vision and answers to their actions as leaders. It is a rite that a seiren may swim into its waters to receive insight before leaving on their iter itineris, the sacred journey a seiren must take to find a mate beyond the island.
Lagoon of Life: Seirens are born in water. True to the legend of their birth, Seirens must spend infancy in water because they do not develop proper lungs for breathing air until at least a year of age. The place where birth is most popular is a lagoon on the eastern shore, which is protected by a barrier reef. Birthing there is also seen as a tribute to Formosa, who gave birth and saved her children from her lover on the island's shore. It is the sacred duty of one of the women within the Circle of Mothers to oversee that place and help the new mothers in nursing their babies along with her assistants.
School of Gems: The main center of the island holds a temple to Videre and houses the majority of literature pertaining to life lived outside of the island. It is here that young and old students alike learn art and scientific craft, and it is also the major center of healing for the seirens. The only place that comes close at all in comparison is the dock city of Aberanon on the northern coast, which focuses more on sea exploration and military training.