The Book of Eight Sages
Any who have traveled the Southern Empire have no doubt seen the mysterious Bamboo People. A race similar to Men, they are of a lithe build with a very pale skin of a greenish hue. Their faces tend to be oval shaped with large, widely spaced eyes, high cheeks and a small nose, mouth and chin compared to Men. Ears are pointed, and eyes are hazel to brown in color. Perhaps the most striking feature is their hair. They lack almost all body hair, but can grow thick head hair. Females will have long head hair, thin eyebrows and long eyelashes. Males will have thicker eyebrows and can grow moustaches. In shade their hair is a light brown to black, but in the sun it shines with an iridescence similar to the tropical Birds of Paradise. Both sexes like to grow their hair long, tying it into ponytails, long braids or simply holding it back with headbands or circlets. Males will usually only grow moustaches once married.
As their name implies, they came from the vast bamboo forests of the south, though most are now found in the wilder regions of the Mountains of Min down to the Fuzhou coastline, a region only recently brought under the sublime guidance of Heaven’s Chosen before Heaven moved its Mandate. Here they live much as they have from ancient times. Stories tell of other regions even further south and west where they live as their ancestors had. A numerous people, they are divided into many nations, some very similar to our own in art and building while some live much simpler lives. Many of their kind have moved to the cities of the Southern Empire, integrating well into the economy and society of the cities, though usually settling in their own neighborhoods. Legally, they usually enjoy a separate, but substantially equal, protection as valued subjects of the Empress and local lords. Few have moved beyond the Southern Empire due to the colder climate and less tolerant attitudes of the Northern and Western Empires. In the Southern Empire, many of the lords and even the Imperial Court keep Bamboo People as a valued advisers and court mages. The most famous is the Bamboo Enchantress Husing Drahn Dao of the court of Duke Fu Zhe.
Among both the civilized and traditional Bamboo People the dominant philosophies would be the Way, followed by the alien philosophy of Siddartta. Believing in reincarnation, the ancestor honoring philosophy of Kung Tzu makes no sense to them, and Legalism holds little appeal to their sensibilities. Among the traditional Bamboo People nations, their old gods have been adapted to the teachings of the Way or Siddartta. The Bamboo People also have a reputation as powerful mages and alchemists, though the latter are found only among those who have settled among Men and become civilized.
A unique aspect of the Bamboo People is their total rejection of iron. Both traditional and civilized avoid iron, leading to many superstitions about them. Inquiring about this, it has been learned that their avoidance is due to a physical reaction to contact with iron. The reaction leads to rashes, swelling and even extreme discomfort, though only rarely are the reactions fatal. Because of their avoidance of iron, the Bamboo People use copper alloys for most metallic needs, and have become true masters at bronze and brass working. Their bronze arms and armour are nearly as strong and durable as the iron weapons of our own iron smiths, and many wealthy, but lower class, among Men prohibited by law from owning iron weapons will purchase the bronze weapons of the Bamboo People, as products of barbarians are usually not prohibited by sumptuary laws.
Many superstitions exist about the Bamboo People, though those who live and work with or around them are less likely to believe them. Many of these, all assuredly false, are given below:
- They are Spirit People of the southern forests.
- They are either an extremely wise and ancient people or a stupid and brutish people.
- Their livers, if eaten, will extend one’s life by decades.
- Their blood is an universal poison antidote.
- Their sexual organs, if dried and steeped in tea, will impart fertility and virility upon the drinker.
- Their rendered fat makes a good skin cream and burn balm. Sadly, the skin cream is true, though no fat is a good burn balm.
- They fear and recoil from iron.
- Cold forged iron amulets will disrupt their magic.
- Iron shackles will render them powerless and burns them.
- Iron weapons will pass through their armour easily and the slightest wound by iron is fatal.
- They cannot cross an iron barrier.
- They are immune to poisons.
- A chance encounter in the morning is good luck, in the evening is bad luck.
- Some demon cults consider them preferred sacrifices and good eating. Of course, some demon cults view Men the same way.
- Bamboo Hair Silk will stop all missile attacks.
Submitted by Xiyang