Part 66: Regarding Brown MenRegarding Brown Men
The brown men are the third and final kindred of men, other than the low men and high men. In ancient days, they ruled a great empire, and were one of the primary rivals to the high elves for dominance of Arcanus. They were in those days great traders and explorers, and dauntless before new challenges. Their skill in magic never matched that of high elves, high men, or orcs, however, and with the rise of the Confederation of Wizards their empire fell. In these days, after the dark years following the fall of the Confederation, only their town of Aifa survives of all their former holdings. In appearance, they are much darker than high or low men, ranging from a very deep tan to a tarry black. Amongst their darker members their hair is often exceedingly curly.
The modern brown men remain skilled sailors and caravaneers, and it is said no other folk is better at enduring hardship on the road between towns. Even before being incorporated into the realm of Fairlands, the folk of Aifa travelled far and traded with many peoples despite the dangers. Thralldom is an accepted practise amongst them, and their thralls may be freely sold between owners, but there are traditions of law protecting their thralls, ensuring that married thralls may not be separated from one another nor from their children before their children reach adulthood, protecting them also from arbitrary punishment and ensuring means whereby they may eventually purchase their freedom. Unlike amongst the dark elves or beastkin before their conquest by the dwarves, owners of thralls amongst the brown men own only a few, and great thrall-worked plantations are not known amongst them. Amongst them wealthy merchants are highly regarded, and their Prince who still rules Aifa in Horus' stead is in fact descended from a line founded by a skilled merchant adventurer in the early 1300s. The brown men are skilled in many crafts and trades, and share much the same level of excellence in their normal arts as high men. They have, perhaps, somewhat less skill in forging heavy armor, but in crafting of bows and of swords suitable to travellers afoot they exceed the high men in skill. They have some skill in magic, but still lack the great learning in that field of the high men.
Their religion is, in many respects, now greatly similar to that of the High Men, although they retain their traditional names and depictions for the Bright Gods- The Empress of the Sun, The Sage of the Stars, The Captain of the Skies, and The Bride of the Moon. The Sage and the Captain are most revered amongst them, and all of their many who travel the seas or the roads wear the ship of the Captain. It seems possible that Horus' heresy was in itself taken from a corrupted form of the ancestral beliefs of the brown men such as reached the high men, for, more than any other folk, they preach the value of humility before the gods. Nonetheless his doctrine of absolute submission and denial of free will would not be recognised by those following the older forms of their religion.
There is much to admire in the society of the brown men, and even their institution of thralldom might easily be dissolved with any will to achieve it. I have no doubt that they could easily form deep and true friendship with the dwarves.