Tabaxi Wind and Fire: Chapter 2
Mekka is the homeland of the Gnomes. It is a rocky string of islands on the southwest seas; temperate and mild, benefiting from cool southern ocean currents. Most islands are covered in low mountains and hills, scoured down from an ancient mountain range by glacial drift, leaving a rich network of deep harbours and fjords.
Gnomes keep little record of their history; gossip and stories last a lifetime and then are allowed to die with their keepers. Knowledge, however, is kept in ever-growing Guild Archives, egoless and without record of originators.
Society, Culture, and Religion
Two races of Gnome coexist comfortably in Mekka. The Tinker Gnomes make up the majority of the population in the three cities. Rock Gnomes, making up three quarters of the population, are scatted in rural communities and small villages throughout the smaller islands and deeper mountain ranges.
Gnomish culture is reliant on a regular calender of festivals, with almost a hundred days out of the year designated holidays and grounds for a feast, gathering, carnival or Illusionist performance.
- Middlemas, held twice a year on the mid-most day of Spring and Autumn, in honour of Mid and to mark the changing of the seasons from coldest to hottest.
- Sharing Day, held to commemorate the close of harvest and in honour of
- Svillbar. It is a day for filling pantries, sharing bounty, and gifts to local
animals and family guardians.
- Festuval, the day of planting, held every spring in honour of Festun.
- Burrowsday, held on the coldest day of winter, to give thanks to Vejuyn. It is the day for which the brightest explosives are saved.
- The Meetings is the held in early summer, a day of courtship and dancing for young Gnomes.
In addition to a national holiday calender, villages and cities hold regional festivals and special holidays in accordance with local traditions, in respect of prominent individuals, to celebrate weddings, funerals, and special occasions, and for many reasons completely forgotten about!
A pantheon of minor spirits hold regional sway around Mekka; most villages tribute two or three local forces, and most guilds hold patron spirits. Worship is achieved through revelry and festivals, with half the annual holidays named for a god or spirit. Gnomish religion is naturalistic, and gods and spirits are believed to be physically present in their domain, connected and part of it rather than ruling from above. There are few personifications; of the common pantheon only Mid, Hjak, Skahh, and Svillbar are seen is deities with fixed personality. Gnomish religion is by and large deanthropomorphized, instead seeing spirits as a pervasive force to be acknowledged and appreciated, called on or rejected, rather than caricatures vulnerable to mortal whim. Like their own history, Gnomish religion is largely without ego construct and mythologizing.
Notable gods and spirits
- Ilbvar, spirit of curiosity
- Softone, spirit of satisfaction
- Mid, god of balance
- Ilsja, spirit of aestheticism
- Thrill, spirit of joy
- Hjak, water god
- Skahh, sky goddess
- Svillbar, protection goddess of small animals
- Festun, spirit of vegetation
- Dbhun, the spirit of stones
- Klash, the spirit of metals
- Vejuyn, the spirit of combustion
Magic is very uncommon in Mekka, a subject of much philosophizing and theory.
Gnomes maintain a limited democracy with a federal and municipal levels of government.
Most governance is managed by municipal councils, composed of elder Gnomes elected by common assent and a Village Speaker elected by direct vote, with one vote cast by every Gnome or visitor race over the age of 50 who has maintained permanent residence in the village since the previous election. Election schedules are set locally, generally occurring every 10 to 15 years, or when a Speaker leaves office.
In the three cities governance is divided between a City Council and numerous Guild Councils; a resident has the right to elect or stand for office in the City Council OR a Guild Council, but not both. Most Gnomes, particularly Tinker Gnomes, choose to be involved politically though their Guild, as the Guild Councils regulate and support industry and economy, while the City Councils primarily hold sway over public services and infrastructure.
Federally, the elected Village Speakers, City Speakers and Guild Speakers meet for about one week every year as the Great Mekka Council to decide matters of foreign and national policy. They elect ten speakers from amongst themselves to stand as the Overseeing Gnomes for a year. The position of Overseeing Gnome is regarded as a substantial burden, and thus changes hands every year.
- The Inventor Guild, the largest guild with branches in all three cities
- The Mariner Guild, focused on seafaring and fishing
- The Incendiary Guild, dedicated to the study of combustion and explosive chemistry (banned from holding conference within city limits)
- The Society for Illusionary Arts, the only guild without permanent residency requirements, composed of the many Illusionists who often travel nomadic around Mekka
- The Skyfar Society, commanders of airship technology
- The Shimmer Folk, master gem cutters and miners
Many other smaller guilds exist.
Geography and Notable Features
Mekka is separated geographically from much of Tabaxi, and is largely self-reliant on fishing and farming, with advanced technology of flight and sailing created (but rarely shared) by the Tinker Guilds. Travel between islands is considered a public service, and is the domain of the Skyfar Society and Mariner Guild, who maintain air and sea transport across Mekka, respectively. Neither guild provide regular service beyond the boarders of Mekka; travel outside the country is irregular and generally arranged via passage on merchant ships. Citizens of Mekka do not often travel abroad, though their Illusionists are renown internationally as masters of performance.