Hou-Zi

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The Hou-Zi are a primate people native to the archipelago of Axios. Their historic territory comprises the isles of Malin, Tahn and Asul. The Hou-Zi once had an empire that spanned the entire continent during ancient times, but have crumbled and become a sparse people. Nowadays, they make their reclusive dwellings within the jungles of the isle of Asul, the ancient heartland of their people. They live by the creed of their Immortal Monkey King, Hou-Shen.

Appearance

This is an example of a Fei Zhu. Credits to TripleWing

Subraces

The Hou-zi come in three different variances in terms of physical attributes, depending on the subrace of Hou-zi. Those subraces are the Laobai-zhu, Fei-zhu, and the Hei-zhu.

Laobai-Zhu

The Laobai-Zi are the most common of Hou-Zi sub races. They were found all over the empire. They had fur usually in shades of brown and came in all shapes and sizes. Laobai-Zi are the more versatile and adaptable of the Hou-zi. The Laobai-Zu are said to be the line of Hou-Zi directly descended from the god-king's firstborn- Hou-Wang. Laobai-Zhu is the shortest lived of the Hou-Zi, reaching a lifespan of 80 to 100 years.

Fei-Zhu

The Fei-Zi resemble baboons, being by far the most colorful of the Hou-Zi species. Fei-Zi is known for their multicolored fur which can be blue, red, hues of yellow, or gold. Their faces are usually a contrast to their fur, a red-furred Fei-Zi would have a yellow face, for example. Fei-Zi is the smallest but most nimble of the Hou-Zi, being lithe in body, and around 5’ to 6’ feet in height. Fei-Zhu enjoys slight longevity, living a life span of 150 to 250 years.

Hei-Zhu

The Hei-Zi most closely resemble silverback gorillas, almost always having black fur. The Hei-Zhu are the burliest, strongest of the Hou-Zi subraces, growing between 6’5” and 7’ tall. Hei-Zhu are the longest lived of the Hou-Zi, experiencing a lifespan of 250 to 300 years.

Culture

In the Ancient Times, before the dawn of the old god Poison, the Hou-zi were known for being incredibly materialistic and living exuberant, expensive lifestyles. Wealth was a status symbol amongst the lords and higher ups in their society, with jade being the most prized possession one can have at all. The poor would seek to gain and collect their wealth, as the rich displayed it lavishly and freely. Another highly valued aspect of Hou-zi culture was music, noticeably not meant to play joyous, upbeat songs, but rather more somber, emotionally felt tunes and songs. Sports in the Hou-zi culture were usually martial arts done competitively against others, with many families raising their young to compete in many of these sports later on in life, such as the most popular one, gongfu. However, as the Ancient Times came to an end, and the Hou-zi were driven into seclusion, their life of splendid hedonism turned into one of meager sustenance and squalor. No longer are the days of athletes, or rich showing off, in its place the days of fishing and thatch-roofed homes. Despite this drastic change to a much more humble lifestyle, many Hou-zi nowadays would cling closely to memories of the old empire their ancestors once held, such as an old jade trinket or an ancient weapon. For the religious Hou-zi, long ago Metzli was worshiped as “The Awakener,” being the daemon that gave rise to the Hou-zi’s mental facilities. However, Hou-shen, the Godking of the Hou-zi was truly revered among the Hou-zi peoples, praising him and worshipping him for his feats and seeming immortality. However, this view shattered when Hou-shen was first killed, the Hou-zi lost the Second Elven War, and the old god Poison came to destroy their society. From this time forth, Metzli was not “The Awakener,” but rather “The Doombringer.” No longer was Metzli to even be known as their original title, but only as their negative one to the modern Hou-zi.

Origins

The Hou-Zi were an uplifted race. Once a species of monkeys like any other, they were a primitive animal incapable of fire, tools, architecture, or anything of the sort. Just like any regular primate.Fate smiled down upon this primate species however, as Metzli was looking for worthy candidates. This was a time before Metzli had created the Kharajyr race which would ultimately become her chosen servants. The Daemon was still experimenting with the creation of a mortal race which would serve her, and trying to figure out how to go about it. Finally, she resolved to first experiment by taking an already existing bestial race and granting it intelligence. Metzli turned to the fauna of the land. She spent seven years and seven days scouring the world, the various continents, until she came upon what would become Axios in the present day. The jungles in the isle of Asul were filled with thousands of creatures, many intelligent, many fierce, but none suited Metzli’s needs. None until she came upon the primates. The primal ancestors of the Hou-zi. These monkeys pleased her. They were clever, they were quick, they knew how to hunt in a group, and above all else, they resembled the descendent races, with two legs, two arms and two eyes full of life. She could work with this. So Metzli got to work. She approached a primate. This monkey was the alpha, the leader of the pack. He had twelve monkey wives, and no other monkey dared eat before him when it was time to feast. Metzli unlocked this monkey’s mind, opening it to sentience. To the idea of the future, of the past, of fire, of the stars. The monkey would become Hou-Shen, the Monkey King. Metzli would perform all manner of lost arts and powerful magics on Hou-Shen in the coming days. Transforming his soul, his mind and his body. The Monkey King would soon live up to his title, growing strong, lean arms and legs much like the races of men and elves. Metzli gave Hou-Shen a crown of jade, and instructed him to go and be the prophet of his people. However, Metzli warned, Hou-Shen was to be the vessel of her will. For as long as her newly created people- the Hou-Zi- obeyed her will, she would shower them with prosperity. Metzli did this not out of vanity, but with the cold mind of a scientist testing her hypothesis on sentience. Hou-Shen did as Metzli commanded, unlocking the gift of sentience on all the monkeys in the jungle of Asul with power granted to him by the Daemon themselves. Soon, the Hou-Zi race was fully born, and their history began.

History

The Hou-zi expanded and evolved their culture at an astonishing rate. Within two years they were forging their own steel. Within four, they had built their first palaces out of stone and jade. Guiding the Hou-zi through this entire process was Hou-Shen, teaching his subjects the wisdom imparted on him by Metzli herself.

Expansion and Golden Age

By the 50th year, Jing-Taiyun, the capital and center of Hou-zi civilization had been built. With their newfound sentience, the Hou-Zi developed a complex society. Hou-Shen and his sons- Hou-Wang, Hou-Da, and Hou-Xiao formed the top tier of society, ruling from the Jade-Monkey throne in Jing-Taiyun. Underneath them served the Ruling Council of Chi. The Ruling Council was made up of twelve Hou-Zi lords who governed over a respective territory of Hou-Zi land, which had expanded to encompass the entire ancient jungle of Asul. Hou-Zi society lived stably for a while, but this was not to last. The Hou-Zi people were growing used to their luxuries and wished for more. So, Hou-Shen meditated upon the Jade-Monkey throne and meditated long and hard for the correct path to take his people on. In his meditation, Metzli approached and spoke to him. The Daemon ordered the monkey king to expand beyond the jungle. To claim wealth, fame and glory in her name. The Hou-Zi would rise like the morning sun and become the master race, they would bring in wealth and riches from their defeated enemies. And thus, the Hou-Zi conquest of ancient Axios began.

The First Great War of Malin

The Hou-Zi would ultimately fight all their great wars with one other race: The elves. At the time of the first great expansion of the Hou-Zi, the First Kingdom of Ancient Malinor was the dominant power in Axios. It was a well established kingdom led by the forefather of the elves himself, Malin, and had a heavy presence on all three major isles.

The native territory and first city of the Hou-Zi before the first great war. The rest of the Isle of Axios were under control of the Kingdom of Malin.

Malin and his council had caught wind of these hyper-intelligent primate people, who had only gained intelligence around half a century or so ago, not a very long time by elven standards. The King of the Elves had not devoted much energy into developing ties with the Hou-Zi at first, but soon, seeing their rapid development and advancement saw the need. However, all the elven emissaries and ambassadors he sent to Jing-Taiyun to meet Hou-Shen had been turned away, sent home without being granted an audience. This made Malin weary, and be began preparing his people for war. Which, consequentially, was exactly what the Hou-Zi were doing as well.

War began two years later.

Height of the first great conquest, with territories of the Hou-Zi empire shown in red. The Hou-Zi would hold this territory for around 150 years before ultimately being pushed back.

The Hou-zi poured out of the jungles around Jing-Taiyun and began their conquest of the isle of Asul. The elves were ultimately taken by surprise, and could only offer piecemeal resistance as the Hou-zi army blazed through many small towns and villages. Malin reacted quickly, and sent a large detachment of his Sentinel warriors to fortify the walled city of Asul’onn, the center of elven influence on the isle of Asul.

The Monkey King Hou-Shen himself led his armies west to Asul’onn, and demanded the surrender of the city. The Sentinel commander garrisoned inside refused, and the siege began. The battle of Asul’onn was a fierce one, with the elves putting up a savage resistance, their druids performing great feats to keep the monkey-men at bay. However, it ultimately took 70 days for the city to fall, the walls crumbling due to strange, dragon-shaped gunpowder rockets engineered by the Hou-Zi, which tore through the city walls, allowing them to pour in and slaughter the elves inside with their superior weaponry.

With the fall of Asul’onn, the Kingdom of Malinor no longer had any holdings on the isle of Asul, and Malin had any remaining forces on the island pull back to the mainland of Tahn. The Hou-Zi would continue to expand their territory after that.

The isle of Ceru was the next target. The Hou-Zi won a decisive victory at the battle of the southern peak, where an army at the command of the elven lord Uradras was defeated by a force of Hou-Zi led by the eternal king’s first son, Hou-Wang. Hou-Wang would lead his armies northwards to siege the city of Andria. The Kingdom of Malin would score their first decisive victory of the war here by repelling the invaders and slaughtering most of Hou-Wang’s army. The Hou-Zi retreated to nurse their wounds, and would never conquer northern Ceru, albeit gaining control of the south.

The expansion continued as the Hou-Zi armies would push their way into the heartland of Malinor, the isle of Tahn. Bathed in blood and baring ornate armour and enchanted weapons of Jade, they conquered the westernmost coastal city of Cerulin, rapidly expanding eastward, despite fierce resistance from the elves.

The first phase of the conquest was finally put to a halt at the siege of Naeri’onn, a city in central Tahn. It is said that Malin himself led the defense of Naeri’onn, with his most trusted advisors and generals by his side: Irrin Sirame, Veluluai, Uradras, Larihei. The siege was a decisive victory for the elves, a three-pronged assault which ended up slaughtering the entire Hou-Zi detachment to a man.

Both the Hou-Zi and the elves had been exhausted of men and resources, and thus Malin and Hou-Shen met in a peace council. It was agreed that the Hou-Zi empire would keep all territories it had conquered during the war, but would halt any further advance. For awhile, it seemed the war had finally ended.

During this period of interlude peace, which lasted for around a century, the Hou-Zi greatly developed their influence in their newly conquered territories. Cities like Dansui and Gao-shan were erected on the isles of Tahn and Ceru, ran by Hou-Shen’s sons, Hou-Da and Hou-Xiao respectively. The Hou-Zi rebuilt the infrastructure of the area, and regions which had once been predominantly elven soon came to have Hou-Zi majorities. Conquered cities like Asul’onn and Cerulin became tributary states, having a mandatory quota of riches and wealth to deliver to the Hou-Zi empire every year, the cities themselves remained elven in population, but ruled by a Hou-Zi elite.

This tenuous peace lasted for awhile. Malin was no fool, and realized that the monkey king Hou-Shen was intent on conquering all of Axios and wiping the Kingdom of Malinor off the face of the political map. Both the Hou-Zi Empire and Malinor had been rebuilding their armies. War seemed inevitable, and indeed reignited after the 100 year ceasefire.

However, Hou-Shen’s attempt to annex all of Malinor would lead to his ultimate downfall.

The Hou-Zi Empire’s plan to win the war quickly was to strike at the city of Malinor (named after the Kingdom) which was situated on the isle of Malin itself. Malinor City was the beating heart of the empire, as well as the home of Malin and all his key advisors. The City’s fall would throw the rest of Malinor into chaos and ensure Hou-Zi domination in all of Axios.

The battle for Malinor City was long and bloody, and ravaged the entire isle of Malin. It pitted the best of both species against one another. The immortal monkey king Hou-Shen led the Hou-Zi offense personally, with all three of his sons at his side. The Elven Forefather Malin headed the fierce defense of the city named for him, with his chief advisors fighting alongside him.

Stories vary, but the end result is all the same: Hou-Shen fell in battle. Some say that he was poisoned by a brave elven slave he had indentured in his service. Some say he was shot through the heart by Irrin Sirame. Some say he died against Malin himself in single combat, impaled through the chest by the elven forefather’s legendary falchion, blessed by the Aspects.

The death of Hou-Shen dealt a fatal morale blow to the Hou-Zi army. The loss of the king they thought was immortal sapped many monkey-men’s will to fight. In dismay out of loss of their father, the three sons of Hou-Shen called for a retreat. Much of the Hou-Zi army was cut down by the vengeful elves, while the three sons escaped. Many Hou-Zi prisoners were taken, and many were subject to subject to horrific torture at the hands of the Elves, who for so long had been tormented by Hou-Zi kind.

The momentum of the war did a full 180 after that. Malin ordered the complete reconquest of all lands formerly taken by the Hou-Zi empire. The elves stormed western Tahn first, liberating the city of Cerulin and committing a cold genocide on all Hou-Zi who had settled in the region during the 100 year peace. Women, children, and elderly were all massacred with the intent to fully exterminate the Hou-Zi presence on what was seen as rightful elven land.

The reconquista continued in all other lands of the Hou-Zi, the elves retook the entirety of southern Ceru, doing much as they had done on Tahn, slaughtering any and all Hou-Zi they found living in the region. The isle of Asul became the last holdout of the once great Hou-Zi empire. The city of Asul’onn, which had been under the Hou-Zi yoke for 150 years, was liberated by an elven army led by Irrin Sirame. The Hou-Zi elite which had run the city were publicly executed in front of a throng of cheering mali. The Hou-Zi which did not flee were systematically slaughtered.

The remaining Hou-Zi flooded into Jing-Taiyun. The first, and now last city of the monkey-men, deep in the heart of the Asul Jungle, one great capital of the now crumbled empire. Hou-Wang, Hou-Da, and Hou-Xiao, the three sons of the deceased immortal king, prepared a last desperate defense of their historic heartland.

But, as it seemed, the Hou-Zi had only lived through the beginning of their terrors.

A primordial deity known as “The Poison” had been watching the war closely. The Poison was an old god, unspoken of and unknown to most peoples and cultures. He was a nameless deity whose only purpose was to facilitate the collapse of civilizations well past their time. The Poison had seen the rapid crumbling of the Hou-Zi empire, and like an algorithm, set to work. Red mist seeped into the great jade halls and golden palaces of Jing-Taiyun, causing the grand spires and statues to collapse in a truly apocalyptic event. This killed the Hou-Zi spirit, and put the final nail in the coffin, they saw it as Dragur, their creator, come down to punish them for their failure.

The Hou-Zi scattered into the deep Asul jungle, hoping beyond hope that this vengeful god would not follow them, or that the elves of Malin would not slaughter them to the last monkey.

When Malin and his armies arrived in Jing-Taiyun, they found nothing but a ruin, an abandoned city. Seeing no battle to fight, they went home. Malinor and all its former territories had been restored. As far as the elves were concerned, the Hou-Zi would never be a trouble to them again.

They were wrong.

The Second Great War/The Grand Elven Alliance

Distribution of territory across Axios before the second great war with the elves.

As it so happened, Metzli had been watching her creations progress with a cold, calculated curiosity. She had been recording all her observations, seeing their war with Malin, their expansion, and collapsed. However, one thing bothered the daemon. She saw the total destruction of Hou-Zi civilization at the hands of the old god “Poison” to be irritating meddling, an artificial factor thrown into her experiment. She considered it her duty to undo the damage the Poison had done and let the Hou-Zi either rise, or fall, of their own merit.

Metzli had captured the soul of Hou-Shen, the immortal monkey king, upon his death at the hands of the elves during the first great conquest. She had not intended on bringing him back to life, but now it had become necessary in order to finish his project. She regenerated a new body for Hou-Shen, one of pure, royal white fur, golden eyes, and a scarlet tail. Hou-Shen was reborn, and sent back to his people.

The Hou-Zi people had lived scattered for around a century, surviving like the primal animals they had once been, off of nuts and bugs. Their cities had been destroyed and they had lost the rest of their empire in a devastating war. Never did they expect to recover.

Yet, everything changed when their immortal king returned.

Hou-Wang, Hou-Da, and Hou-Xiao, who had led the exodus of their people into the deep forests, were beyond delighted to see their father return. Hou-Shen was the beacon of hope for their people, and he would soon become the driving force which would rebuild their civilization.

Through sheer force of will and effort, the immortal king Hou-Shen oversaw the reconstruction of Jing-Taiyun. The once mighty capital was made mighty once more. Through years of effort, it's jade spires and golden parapets were made gleaming and strong. The Hou-Zi worked like madmen to repair their capital city, and soon it was done.

With the return of Hou-Shen came the return of the ambition of the Hou-Zi people. During the century in which the Hou-Zi had been forced to survive as savages in the deep jungle, the elven race had fractured. First the high elves, who had built their silver cities over old settlements such as Cerulin and Naeri’onn. Second the dark elves, led by a moon spirit deep into the mountains of the isle of Ceru. Finally, the wood elves, who had made their exodus into the deep forests across all Axios, forming their tribal Seeds.

The stage was perfectly set, the elven race was divided and resentful of one another. Malin himself had disappeared. Hou-Shen knew that now was the time to strike if he ever wished to fulfill his lifelong dream, to conquer all of Axios and make the Hou-Zi the dominant peoples of the realm. And so, once more, the Hou-Zi spent years rebuilding their population, their army, their technology. They created more dragon-rockets capable of blasting through stone walls, weaponry emblazoned with jade, and armour of world-class durability, yet ornate enough to be divine art.

Once more, the Hou-Zi poured out of the jungles of Asul, and much like before, they experienced initial success. Their first target was the territory of the high elves. Smaller high-elven outposts and towns fell quickly to the Hou-Zi, and the monkey men quickly annexed most mali’aheral territory. Next were the forests of the wood elves. The tribal mali’ame put up fierce resistance, but many Seeds were forced to retreat from their ancestral hunting grounds. The Dark Elves were the last, refusing to meet the Hou-Zi in open battle, and retreating deep into their cavern city. The Hou-Zi conquered the entire surface of the isle of Ceru, proceeding to starve out the mali’ker, who were trapped inside their underground home.

Yet, despite being fractured, the elves had evolved in their own right, and the tide of war soon turned.

The Mali’aheral held out in their provisional capital of Naeri’onn. They had consolidated all their power into this one city. The high elves were very advanced, and through powerful arcane magics they pushed back the Hou-Zi. Voidal wards protected their cities, while elemental atronachs fought fiercely on behalf of their silver masters, slaughtering Hou-Zi.

The Mali’ker were a resourceful people. The Hou-Zi had hoped to starve the dark elves out by trapping them in their cavern city. But as it turned out, the dark elves were entirely self sufficient beneath the surface. Impatient, the Hou-Zi attempted to storm the underground city of Magara’lin, their fatal mistake. Channeling the power of the shamanistic spirits, Veluluai, matriarch of dark elves, led the mali’ker to a great victory. The ker were a race born of night, and they knew how to fight in the darkness of their caves more than the Hou-Zi ever could.

The Mali’ame were made up of nomadic tribes called Seeds. They had no cities, no strongholds. The Hou-Zi army was built around capturing centres of power, which the ‘ame had none. It was made for large pitched battles and sieges. The Mali’ame refused to fight on the Hou-Zi’s terms. The Wood elves were masters of their deep forest and excellent guerilla fighters, their marksman picking off Hou-Zi soldiers from 100 meters, and their Naelu’ir druids commanding the wilds around them to swallow the monkey men into the earth. The Hou-Zi were finally forced to retreat from mali’ame lands.

How each elven subrace came to fight the Hou-Zi to a standstill came from the fact that the initial subjugation of all three subraces came when the Hou-Zi army was united into one body. After all three had been defeated, the Hou-Zi had to split their army in three to maintain conquered lands. This made for smaller targets for the various elven peoples to fight.

The final defeat of the Hou-Zi came from the simple principle: Nothing unites rivals faster than a common foe.

Leaders from each three elven subrace met on the isle of Malin. Attending was the high elven Larihei, the dark elven Veluluai, and Taynei’Hiylu, the dragaar patron of the wood elves. They formed a grand alliance, uniting elf-kind for the first time since Malin in order to deal with the Hou-Zi threat.

King Hou-Shen knew that the end was drawing near. With the elven races united, it was now all or nothing. He had to gain a decisive victory or lose his chance at having an empire forever. The gathered his army and marched onto the isle of Malin, where a coalition force of all elves had gathered. Over the long abandoned ancient capital of Malinor, elf and Hou-zi kind fought a battle of fates once more.

In the end, victory came to the elves for simple reasons. The Hou-zi, with their dragon cannons and ornate weaponry simply were not enough to overcome the combined powers of the elven army. Swarms of savage beasts and cannibalistic plants commanded at the behest of ‘ame druids, torrents of hostile weather called upon by ‘ker shamans, and arcane lightning raining from the sky at the behest of ‘aheral mages.

Each of Hou-Shen’s three sons were slain during the battle. Traditional elven accountings claimed that Veluluai slew Hou-Wang in single combat, as Larihei slew Hou-Da and Taynei’Hiylu tracked down and hunted Hou-Xiao. There is no proof that this particular telling is the truth. Nevertheless, Hou-Shen fled the battle in grief, and his army was entirely routed once more.

Hou-Shen retreated back to Jing-Taiyun and consolidated what little remained of his army, preparing to make a final stand. Yet, in the face of destruction, the Hou-Zi people were shown an act of miraculous mercy.

The council of the grand elven alliance, made up from the leaders of each elven subrace, offered Hou-Shen an ultimatum. His people would be allowed to continue living, and his capital, Jing-Taiyun, would not be destroyed. However, the Hou-Zi would never again leave the jungles of Asul, or build any settlements beyond Jing-Taiyun itself. In shame, Hou-Shen agreed. The official surrender of the Hou-Zi people was signed.

The Jade Wars/Stagnation and Destruction

The final territory of the Hou-Zi empire, holding the same borders with which it began. It would endure in this form for another 500 years before its final collapse.

Hou-Shen abided by the terms of his surrender, and for the next five hundred years, he ruled his slowly stagnating Hou-Zi jungle empire.

During the Hou-Zi golden age, and the first great conquest, the Hou-Zi had controlled nearly half of Axios. They had the resources of all their vast territories to exploit, and conquered cities and peoples in their empire to draw tribute from. As a result, wealth flowed steadily into the Empire, and the noble families of the ruling Council of Chi (the direct advisors of Hou-Shen) all had opportunities to grow rich.

Hou-Zi culture was built around wealth. Society in Jing-Taiyun had always been a chaotic game of noble families perpetually seeking to one-up one another in displays of opulence and hedonism. They did this by displaying massive amounts of precious items such as precious metals, holding huge banquets, or performing great ceremonies to Hou-Shen, their immortal king. But, the Hou-Zi empire now was hardly an empire at all, controlling only Jing-Taiyun and the jungle on the isle of Asul, its ancestral heartland. As a result, much fewer raw resources were available to the Hou-Zi, and no more wealth was flowing in through tribute. Richness of all kinds became a limited, dwindling resource. Now, instead of seeking to out-do one another, the noble families of Jing-Taiyun began fighting one another for possessions.

These conflicts, ranging from minor to major, were known as the Jade Wars. They were named thus as Jade was the symbol of the Hou-Zi people, associated with royalty, power, and status. It was by far the most valuable commodity and extended, violent conflicts would often erupt between Hou-Zi houses over small pieces of it.

Immortal King Hou-Shen tried his best to put an end to the various Jade conflicts, but in truth, he now held little power, his de-facto authority had eroded away after the two devastating losses to the elven nations. Power was divided by the Council of Chi, who were fractured and divided into bitter rivalries.

Thus, this continued for another 500 years. Hou-Shen helpless to stop the incredibly slow and painful corruption of his society, as productivity ground to a halt and the Hou-Zi population, already halved by war, slowly eroded away further as bit by bit, Hou-Zi died in petty conflicts between nearsighted nobles focused on consolidating wealth and influence.

Jing-Taiyun slowly fell apart. Entire districts of the once great jungle capital were left abandoned as the noble families which had stewarded them were wiped out in one jade war or another. Gold rusted, buildings began to crumble.

Enter the Poison once more.

The old god began working his influence once more. This time in a far slower, subtler way. Temples began to crack at the foundations, great halls collapsed. Sickness and plagues began spreading like wildfire across Jing-Taiyun.

Hou-Shen, with the weight of nearly a thousand years of defeat on his shoulders, finally had enough. One day, he simply walked into the thick of the jungle, and was never seen again.

The disappearance of their god-king was a wake-up call to the squabbling, warring noble factions of the Hou-Zi. The jade wars had come to a fall stop now, as plague had rendered all factions incapable of fighting. Jing-Taiyun had become a ruin, the Hou-Zi suddenly realized what had happened to them. As such, there was only one option left to them.

The Hou-Zi abandoned Jing-Taiyun, and just as they had done after their first collapse after their first great conquest, they scattered into the Asul forests. The old God poison would finally finish his work, sinking Jing-Taiyun into the earth, leaving only barely traceable ruins where a grand city had once been.

Metzli had been watching all these events unfold. Initially she had felt rage that the old god had been interfering in the affairs of her creation once more. But, her rage subsided after she came to realize her creations had been a failure. She resolved to abandon the Hou-Zi to their fate, to learn from their mistakes. Metzli’s next creation would be proper servants for her cause. She would go on to make the Kharajyr.

The Hou-Zi civilization had collapsed entirely once more. But the Hou-Zi had hope. They believed that Hou-Shen, their immortal lord, would return to them once more. That he would rebuild the great city of Jing-Taiyun and lead them into a third great war with the elves, one they would finally win.

But, Hou-Shen never returned.

Culture

The Hou-Zi developed a rich culture during their centuries as a dominant power in ancient Axios.

Ancient Times

The Hou-Zi were a culture that valued wealth above all else. Known for great materialism and hedonism, the Hou-Zi lavished in great displays of richness. The nobles and lordlings of the empire often made huge displays and ceremonies to show off their fortunes. Of all the symbols of wealth in the Empire, jade was the most important of them all. Naturally, all this wealth was possible due to the steady flow of tribute coming in from the conquered provinces of the Hou-Zi empire. This wealth also allowed Hou-Zi princelings to continuously out-do one another in architecture. Magnificent spires and palaces were erected in the various Hou-Zi cities. Ancient Hou-Zi culture was lavish and rich beyond belief. At its heart was competition. The poor Hou-Zi would aspire to be rich and do whatever it took to get there, the rich Hou-zi would stop at nothing to display their wealth. Hou-Zi society was a constant chaotic hodgepodge of poor monkeys seeking to rise up, and rich monkeys constantly one-upping one another in a fierce competition to be the most famous, hedonist Hou-Zi in the empire.

Music

Bards and minstrels held great respect in old Hou-Zi culture. The Hou-Zi believed music was the purest form of communication, as it was fueled by emotion alone, and therefore came purely from the soul. Hou-Zi music tended to be slower and more somber, with melodies twisting and turning in alien ways.

Sport

With a history so deeply tied to war and conquest, it's no surprise that the Hou-Zi’s national sport involved the development of martial prowess. Martial arts like Gongfu were extremely popular, and practiced extensively. Gongfu tournaments drew in crowds of tens of thousands, with noble houses backing certain athletes who would train for years on end. Noble houses sponsoring a winning martial artist would by proxy get popularity and fame, something sought after highly in Hou-Zi society.

Modern Era

Naturally, with their empire and great cities destroyed and most of their race killed off, Hou-Zi culture now is drastically different.Hou-Zi now live a meager life of survival. They are mainly subsistence hunters and fishermen, living in thatched-roof huts and mud housing. The Hou-Zi seclude themselves for practical purposes, and pockets of Hou-Zi rarely see one another. When they do, they often trade simple goods. Some Hou-Zi still carry around pieces of the old empire with them. Trinkets of jewellery, or old weapons. These are highly sought after, and often traded from Hou-Zi tribe to tribe, especially any jade remaining among their people.

Religion

The Daemon Metzli was naturally the highest deity of the Hou-Zi. However, she was not their main diety. Metzli was known as the Awakener in the Hou-zi’s own tongue, for her role in bestowing sentience to the people. The Awakener was not actively worshipped, however, except when paying tribute to her through the spoils of the great empire. The Awakener played a background, omnipresent role in the Hou-Zi faith. However, it is Hou-Shen who captured the hearts, minds and faith of the Hou-Zi people. Hou-Shen was their immortal god, who lived generation upon generation as other Hou-Zi were born, lived and died. He seemed unkillable in battle and incorruptible as a ruler. He was worshipped as a living god among his people.

Upon Hou-Shen’s disappearance, he went from being an actively worshipped living god to a mythical figure of legend. After the final abandonment of Jing-Taiyun, he had become a god like any other, frequently prayed to, but never truly there. Prayers in the last days of high Hou-Zi civilization often called for the return of Hou-Shen, the Monkey King, the god of their kin. In modern post-downfall Hou-Zi society, the remaining members of the species still cling to the memory of Hou-Shen. They believe he is prophesied to return some day, and bring his people back to glory. Shrines of his likeness are erected in every Hou-Zi mud village in the jungles of Asul.

Modern Hou-Shen revile Metzli, his title changed from the Awakener to the Doombringer. Any memory of Dragur creating the Hou-Zi has been wiped from the memories of the remaining members, and only resentment and anger of their civilization’s destruction remains. Dragur is a satanic figure in modern Hou-Zi faith.

Language

The Hou-Zi language is lost to time. Any examples of it in written form were washed away by the wrath of Dragur during the purging of Hou-Zi civilization. Furthermore, the old Hou-Zi character system has been abandoned for a simplified phonetic system with letters adopted from the common tongue, which was picked up through sparse interaction with the descendant races. What is known of the Hou-Zi language to outsiders is only a smattering of words and phrases.


Mechanics

Hou-zi require an accepted Creature Application to play-- such an application can be made in this sub forum. They receive the Kharajyr underlying race.

References

Races
Human Heartlander · Highlander · Farfolk · Adunian
Elf Wood Elf · High Elf · Dark Elf · Snow Elf
Dwarf Cave Dwarf · Mountain Dwarf · Forest Dwarf · Dark Dwarf
Orc Olog · Goblin
Other Hou-Zi Laobai-Zhu · Fei-Zhu · Hei-Zhu
Kharajyr Kha'Leparda · Kha'Cheetrah · Kha'Pantera · Kha'Tigrasi
Misc. Halfling
Special Natural Creatures · Magical Creatures · Spectral/Undead Creatures