Once, Zynos was a glittering jewel. It has a culture that stretches back as far as the Astorina Imperium, and in it's own way was quite powerful. Unlike the Imperium, Zynos never sought to expand its borders, but rather simply defend them against any aggression. When the Imperium reached their borders, they defended them vigorously, but never retaliated.
Zynos has been ruled by an unbroken line of Eternal Potentates. Their authority has been unquestioned for millennia. Each Potentate selects their successor from amongst their children or grandchildren. Other heirs are appointed to important positions amongst the government. In Zynos, proximity to the bloodline of the Potentate ensured good position, and talent could only take you so far. Indeed, original thought and action was frowned upon, with dangerous radicals publicly put to death. This led to a den of nepotism and stagnation, a country trapped in its own past and unable to move forward.
When the War of Faith began, Potentate Marivsh banished the clergy that tried to inspire religious fervour in the population to try to force the nation into war. Zynos had always had a complex relation with the churches, as the churches had to walk a fine line between espousing the authority of the gods, whilst not diminishing the absolute rule of the Potentates. The clergy never held true power in Zynos, and their banishment, like most decisions by the Potentate, was not questioned.
Marivsh was not a fool however, and as the war progressed, he saw that the Astori were beginning incursions into the duchies. Zynos had much to lose if the duchies fell and a new unified Imperium arose as their neighbours. Breaking millennia of tradition, the Zynese armies marched on the duchies, and in the end, Marivsh sat upon the throne of Kile and declared himself God-King. This moment was the final important act of the war, as it triggered the events of the Breaking.
As the breaking began, Marivsh left Kile to return to Zynos after the God Vanur gouged the earth of Zynos, killing millions of his subject. He returned to his borders just as the Meteor of Nishtia wiped Kile from the world. With his kingdom in disarray but still with his armies, Marivsh conquered and claimed the lands that once belonged to the duchies of southern Bule and northern Zene, and resettled the refugees of his homeland in this new Potentate. The experience was a humbling one for the Zynese, who now cling onto their new homelands and some of the vestiges of their old lands with a ferocity that comes from surviving near extinction.
Zynese culture is one that focuses on obedience and knowing your place. In most cases, you are born into your role, and you stay there. However, Marivsh's successor, Nimtyor, opened the borders of the new lands, allowing trade and settlement of other peoples, as he recognised that their new lands were not like their old ones, missing key resources in abundance needed to thrive. This has slowly bought new ideas into the nation over the last 150 years, and not all of them have been of benefit to the Potentates. Whilst the Potentate still rules with absolute authority, they must be careful now to not incite rebellion, as any potential weakness could be capitalised upon by enemies within or without. The slightest hint of weakness could end with assassination by a possible rival that sees the chance to ingratiate themselves with their successor.
The people of Zynos are obedient and diligent for the most part, but tend to shy away from new ideas and concepts. Though some of their major cities have significant populations of foreign nationals, one would not call them cosmopolitan. Others are expected to take on Zynese dress, language and customs when in Zynos, and other cultures are viewed with hostility and suspicion. A common saying is "Obedience in all things" which is used as a reminder to oneself of ones place in the world, as well as a warning to another that what they have said or done could be seen as dangerous.
Zynese dress tends towards long, sleeveless robes for both men and women. The common folk wear browns and greys, whilst those with more status wear other colours with metallic thread trim. Women generally wear their hair long to their waist, and men generally shave their heads and faces smooth. Both genders wear makeup in differing patterns, with women accentuating the lips and cheeks, and men accentuating the eyes.
Language and names:
Zynese language is radically different from Imperial, and many who try to learn it struggle with the strange syllables that it forces together. Common sounds include those that are said whilst inhaling at the beginning of sentences, and exhaling sharply to denote the end of a sentence, but only with certain tense and word combinations.
Zynese names are agendered, and each person has 3 names. The first is chosen by a state official, the second by the family, and the last denotes lineage. The letter Y is used in most names at least once, though there are exceptions, and most non natives find them baffling to pronounce. First and state names usually have hard endings. Lineage names end with open sounds, are said breathily and with reverence.
State and family names: Anynvt, Aytynd, Chamxd, Cyvtn, Dramdys, Evynxtl, Emynyn, Gsymtyv, Hyftvyd, Iyiyiyn, Jvynxst, Kyntrtav, Oyrxyp, Pyqwstsht, Qvqyntr. Ryrdrv, Ttvtytt, Vyvtrtan, Xzxyz, Zymvyntr.
Lineage names: Auvynay, Byrety, Bisyphyny, Cyvyry, Eynynay, Firyoo, Hyvenya, Ionyuya, Lyrya, Novytyi, Oonya, Ryoorya, Teyrnayy, Vyshtyiy.