The Quartian Highlanders are a subculuture of Drude living in the Est Mountain Range of Quarto. Though currently integrated into mainstream Druden society, the Highlanders have a very different history and culture than their other kin, and still retain a strong independent streak.
Highlanders are often slightly shorter than other Druden, due to traces of Senjose blood running through their veins. By contrast, the Highlanders further north tend to be slightly taller than other Druden, though no scholar is quite sure why. They are almost always red or blonde haired, with blue and green eyes being especially common.
They are a proud people, with strong integrity and ties to their respective clans. Many powerful clans are noble houses in their own right, and hold a great deal of respect amongst other Highlander families. To a Highlander, clan and family ties are more important than anything else in their lives -- including loyalty to the state or other outside sources. A Highlander is expected to always share his house and home with a kinsman in need; to do otherwise would bring about great shame. One of the highest crimes a Highlander can commit is an act of violence, especially murder, against a fellow clansman.
Their people have always prized freedom and independence above all other values, and as such, are staunch abolitionists as a whole. To a Highlander, slavery is a crime against freedom that must be eradicated as an acceptable aspect of life. The pro-slavery status of Quarto is a primary issue with them, and most anti-slave protest movements made in the country are run and organized by Highlanders.
Their accents are vastly different from other Druden dialects, almost to the point that many believe Highlander Druden to be a language in and of itself. It is not uncommon for well-educated Highlanders to be fluent in Senjose, due to their close ties with the Horse Hordes of Naichi.
Education and lifelong learning are important to Highlanders. In the past, education was focused more on remembering facts correctly, and less on reading and writing such things down. This has evolved over time, resulting in high literacy even in their commonfolk. While their ancestors were highly nomadic, most current day Highlanders are settled into an agricultural lifestyle. Unlike other Druden, Highlanders have simple tastes, and often pursue a life of relative humbleness (at least compared to other Druden ideals) Highlanders developed and produced soap (possibly from Senjose influence) much earlier than other Druden groups, and still retain a cleaner lifestyle.
Familial ties are what bind Highlander society together. Clan loyalties come before anything else in life, but such ties are not only bound by blood. It is not uncommon for clanless and other outsiders to be adopted into a clan - provided they have gained the trust of the family. Once inside, they are considered a full member of the clan and retain all rights - and responsibilities - as a blood born clansman.
As with other Druden, Highlander lines are patrilineal. Like the Druden of Primo and Secondo, women retain many rights. Both Highlander men and women can inherit land, and both genders are commonly leaders. Warriors are more often men, but women talented in the art of war are readily accepted into fighter ranks. Despite this freedom, few Highlander women choose to enter a warrior's life - though many at least train in basic self-defense.
Because much of their society is still agricultural, families lean on the large and close-knit side. Extended family often lives within the same town/village, or at least within the same district. Even distant relatives are visited at least once or twice every few years, and literate Highlanders keep in close contact with their kin through letters.
There are many great noble houses from the Highlanders, and their knights are renown worldwide. In the past, Highlander society consisted of three classes:
- Royal clans - governed their tribes
- Warrior aristocracy - made up the bulk of the armies
- Commonfolk (Freemen) - laborers and artisans
Over time, the classes have simplified into a noble class and a commoner class. These modern noble clans are descended from a blend of their ancient royal clans and the warrior aristocracy. Nobles own land and the rural commonfolk til it, not much unlike the structures in western Druden countries. Unlike their western kin, Highlander classes are less protocol-ridden and respect is instead paid on both sides; nobles and knights are expected to be protectors and act as such, rather than greedy landowners, like some Druden can become. A layman is expected to be loyal to his noble only so long as that noble continues to treat him fairly and properly protect the land; Highlanders do not fault peasants who revolt as a response to negligent and abusive aristocrats.
In the past, Highlander warriors were their own class, but now they are blended into the noble clans. Highlander knights are staunchly loyal to their clan, and fight with as much ferocity as an enraged Datong. Because of the less violent atmosphere of the Age of Unification, many Highlander warriors spend more time acting on the governing part of their responsibilities, rather than the battle aspects. When they do bloody their swords, it is more often on brigads and roaming demons rather than armies.
Despite this, knights of the area are well trained and prepared (at least skill-wise) for warfare. Their ranks are filled with brave men and (some) women, ready to die for kin at a moment's call. Highlanders were the first people to develop chainmail; Highlander armorers are masters at crafting it, and chainmail remains the armor of favor for any Highlander warrior. Though it is more expensive to develop and has some drawbacks (such as it's weaker against ranged weaponry), chainmail is light and comfortable - perfect for the free-flowing fighting style most Highlanders adopt.
More information coming soon.