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This is my entry for kkolivia's Profile Character Challenge. And I voted for a Fantasy/Romance novel, because that's what I like best!
So I was writing the 'Background/Past' part, and suddenly I got an idea for a novel - about this character. About her past, so to speak. So if you're curious, I'll be posting some chapters soon :)


Submitted:Jan 8, 2011    Reads: 80    Comments: 9    Likes: 6   


Name: Zephira Acotas (Short: Zeph) 'Zephira' is a name with a Greek origin, meaning 'Strong Wind'. 'Acotas' has a native American origin, and it means 'Group of horses'.
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Age: She's seventeen winters old, so seventeen years.
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Sex: Female, but not acting like a 'proper woman' should.
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Personality:
In our world she would be called a feminist. She doesn't hide the fact that she strongly disagrees with the image of a stereotype woman, that they should always be ladylike and well-mannered, stay at home, take care of the household and be subordinate to men.
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She can be really stubborn and she always wants to do things her own way, even if she knows deep inside that another way could be better, for her or for the results. That has as a consequence that she is very tenacious and determined, so she won't quit something she started nor back away from a challenge.
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She can, however, be very sweet too. To people she likes or loves she sometimes shows her soft side, though not very often. She's learned to harden against most external influences (for the reason, see her past), though that wasn't the way she was supposed to be. Zeph can be described as a diamond in the rough.
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That has as a result that she doesn't like to show weakness, hides her feelings most of the time and never talks about them to anyone. When she's sad, she doesn't cry. As far as her memory goes, she has never cried in ever since her brother said goodbye to her before joining the army.
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Zeph is an early adult (and again: for the reason, see past), even though the child she was never fully able to be still hides in the corners of her heart and is bound to slip out now and then. She never just looks at her surroundings, she absorbs them into her mind, just like a child would do. She knows, however, that the heavy burden of responsibility rests on her shoulders, so she has to push her younger self back. She's serious most of the time, but she likes to laugh and joke around when she has spare time, which is sadly very rare.
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She can become furious when someone insults her or her loved ones, and she has a sharp tongue when she is. When fighting, she often says something in the heat of the moment that she regrets later, but she mostly apologizes after the discussion.
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When afraid, Zeph does her best not to show it to anyone. She also doesn't show when she's impressed, unless she chooses to. She has a very good pokerface.
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In the moments she's truly happy, her eyes soften and a tiny smile lingers on her lips. The remains of her emotional defense stay standing, but she breaks through. Just like the sun breaks through the clouds after days of a monotonous grey sky.
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She might give the impression she's reserved and cold, but only to people who don't know her. It is very hard to get to know her, since she flinches away a little from deepening relationships (I'll explain the reason in background/past!).
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Even though she might seem like a little of an ice princess to outsiders, Zeph tries to do her best to be polite and kind to other people.
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General looks:
Zeph is a general sized woman, about five and a halve feet long. She's slim built and doesn't have prominent curves , but she's muscled, due to hunting, running, working hard at home and working in the stables of the royal palace.
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She wears her light brown hair in a knot or a loose ponytail, so it doesn't hang in her eyes while she's working and it doesn't bother her. When the sun shines brightly, it might seem like her hair has a golden aspect hidden in it. Normally, it just hangs straight, no curls or waves to detect. That fact would bother a lot of girly girls in the village and in the palace, but not Zeph. It's just hair, not important, is her opinion.
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Her eyes are very dark of color, almost black but with a hint of brown in them. Speckles of gold are spread over the darkness. They can capture light and make Zeph's eyes almost glitter.
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Her mouth is thin and rosy, like the heart of a cherry blossom. Her nose is rounded, not pointed.
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She has long legs and long arms, which is an advantage while riding and taking care of horses.
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Her skin is sunburnt, a soft caramel color, as a side effect of her work outside. Together with the sun, freckles decorate her nose and cheeks. Freckles are considered a sign of poorness, and people who have them are generally seen as unwealthy, if not pover. But again does Zeph not care. No one who works in the stables could be expected to be rich, could they?
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The palms of her hands are covered with callus, just like her size-8 feet. Her nails are neglected and bitten.
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Zeph doesn't like make-up and never wears it. She thinks it's dumb and only necessary for dolls without brains. From her feministic point of view, make-up is invented to appeal and pleasure men. Like women were paintings made out of meat, begging to be bought on the market.
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The clothes she usually wears are a loose shirt with long or short sleeves, depending on the time of the year, a woolen sweater when it's cold, thin shoes and woolen or cotton socks, again depending on the time of the year. To the great exasperation of the ladies in the palace, she also wears riding breeches or sweatpants all the time. The riding breeches cause the most indignation, because proper ladies must ride in sidesaddle and wear a dress. Another disregard for Zeph. In the winter season, she wears a bonnet and mittens in addition to her usual outfit.
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Hobbies:
Zeph doesn't really have the time to get hobbies, but of one hobby she has made her job: horse riding. Since she was a child, she had a deep fascination for horses. Not in the way spoiled courtly girls admired them, all girly and dreamingly, but in a reality-stuck way. Those girls never thought one second about cleaning out stinking stables or brushing horses until their expensive clothes were covered with hair. But Zeph did all those things happily if it meant that the horse she took care of was happy too.
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Another thing Zeph likes to do is shooting with her bow and arrows. The pleasure of hunting with those doesn't come near the feeling of being busy with the horses, but she likes it very much. The feeling of stretching the arrow back and feeling every single muscle, not only of her arms but of her stomach and her shoulders also, working and experiencing the smallest amount of pain is amazing. Then letting the arrow go and flow through the air faster than the eye could follow is even better.
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Abilities:
As mentioned, Zeph is good with horses. But not the usual 'good'. She can sense the feelings of horses, and sometimes even their thoughts. Horse thoughts aren't the same as human ones, more disorganized and instinctive. They don't think with words, but with senses and images. Zeph can choose to say things in their minds, like orders or appeasements. They will listen to her and they trust her unconditionally, but when the horses are panicking they shut their minds and exclude Zeph out of them. They have no control over that.
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Zeph is also a great archer, as that's what she likes to do. She had to hunt for her family before she went to work in the stables of the palace, and then she used her bow. Her aim is very good: she can pierce an apple on the head of another person from a distance of 350 feet. Since her arms are so muscled from all the work in the stables and at home, it's easy for her to shoot fast and far.
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Another ability of Zeph is that she's very quick. Her body is slim, and that allows her to move fast and precise. She can also hide in small spots and enter places many other people can't.
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She's very smart too. Not book smart, but she's innovative and good in making connections between events. She has an attentive and alert nature, and not many things escape her noting. So sometimes she notes too much and gets into trouble.
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Likes:
She likes her hobbies, horse riding and archery. Especially horse riding is her passion: she adores the feeling of freedom when galloping through a field, only the horse and her, wind in their hair.
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And freedom is another big like for her. When a door closes, she gets a little nervous, no matter how hard she tries to suppress the feeling. Her doorway to the world outside, her freedom, is cut away from her and that makes that a feeling of uneasiness sprouts in her stomach.
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She likes the wind, as did her mother. Her name fits her personality: a strong wind. It doesn't decrease or be ignored easily, and it's strong and steady. It carries small things, like a few leaves or a few pieces of people's hearts.
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She loves the smell of vanilla. When the wind comes from the south and travel further north, it brings the sweet and overwhelming scent of vanilla with it. In addition to that, she likes all things with vanilla in them: vanilla cookies, cake, or other baked goods,and orchids. Orchids are her favorite flowers, since they have that delicious smell.
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She also has a strong love for her family and friends, even if she does rarely show it. They know, but sometimes it irritates them that she acts so distant most of the time.
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Dislikes:
Zeph dislikes lying people. She can't stand if someone's being dishonest to her or anyone in particular. What's the point of lying when it usually doesn't lead to any good and is discovered anyway? Another reason why she loves horses: they never lie - unlike humans.
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Sycophants are also detested by her. They're like slipping snails on the feet of mighty people, sticking to them. Then they turn into parasites when the person has accomplished something. It was like they didn't have a life on their own.
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Zeph hates small places. Even though she's small and could hide in them, she has a kind of claustrophobia. Humans aren't made to be locked up in cages or rooms, they're supposed to run around in meadows and forests and fields and plains.
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Another dislike would be chicory. The bitter taste of that vegetable makes her gag, if not vomit. Zeph doesn't understand how in the world people could get that through their throats, it's disgusting!
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And as I told you before, she also doesn't like make-up (for the reasons, see General looks).
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Background/Past:
Zeph was born on the fourteenth of August, when the days start to cool down. Her mother, Ariana, died by giving her birth, which was very common in those areas and time. Her father, Melanion, couldn't handle the dead of his true love and became permanently drunk.
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Because Melanion didn't take care of his baby daughter, Zeph's older brother Lux did. Then Lux was only 8 years old. He fed her and played with her and hummed lullabies for her when she couldn't sleep. He told her stories and made her laugh when she was sad.
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So the years passed by, and Lux taught Zeph how to shoot with a bow and work with a knife, how to hunt, how to ride a horse. He taught her all things he considered important, even taking care of the household. The young Zeph was already convinced that not only women should clean, do the laundry and cook, but out of respect for her brother she reluctantly agreed to clean the house, because Lux had to work on the fields of their small farm, and her father was in no condition to do anything else than drink and sleep.
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When Zeph turned ten, the King's men knocked on the door of their small house. They demanded Lux to join the army, as was expected from every young man over 17 years old. No discussion was allowed, so Lux had to pack his bags immediately and leave his parental house, on his way to the war that ran across the frontiers of the country. When saying goodbye to Zeph, he gave her a delicate earring. He had worn it for years, in his left ear. It had been their mom's: one had gone with her in her grave, and the younger Lux had impulsively taken the other one. Now he gave it to Zeph. He told her to always wear it, and asked her to please keep thinking about him, not to forget him. He promised to send her letters from the camp.
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The late summer turned to autumn, and then to winter. Occasionally, a letter would arrive, addressed to Zeph. From Lux. She never found a single letter to her father, only a P.S. in hers. "Tell Dad I said Hi." Nothing more, but then again, Zeph didn't know if her father would be able to read it anyway. There had been no improvement in his behavior. He was still drunk every second of every day, and didn't even bother to come out of his bed anymore. The only reason his room didn't smell like the ass of a pig was the cleaning Zeph did. The only reason he wasn't dead was the food Zeph brought him. But he never thanked her. He probably never even thought about it.
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Zeph had taken the responsibility of running the farm. She worked on the fields, she hunted for food and she still managed to clean up the house. Her childhood was taken from her, and the usual desires of a ten-year-old were being pushed deep into the corners of her heart and her mind.
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In the winter of the same year, another letter was found in their hallway, but it didn't come from Lux or anyone else that could be expected to send Zeph and her father letters. It was from the King's men. In the letter was told that Lux had perished in battle. The words were cold and distant, black on white, no feeling attached. But Zeph's world collapsed. Her brother, the only one she ever cared about, was gone. Gone! His joyful laughter, his capturing way of telling stories, his patience when he taught her something new, his warm gaze when he looked at her - all that was gone too! And she would never, never, see him - or all those things - again.
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When Zeph came to that realization, her heart stopped beating for a while. And then broke forever. The unhealable crack that had found his way to her most vital organ hurt for years, and still hasn't stopped hurting.
Even though her heart - and her mind, too - were irreparably damaged, not a single salt teardrop escaped Zeph's eyes. She just sat on the hallway floor, unmoving and still as a statue. On the outside it might have seemed like she didn't feel a thing, but on the inside, she was feeling too much. The agony that flamed up her chest was unbearable, and her mind was indescribably miserable. Her emotions weighed on her like tons of water on the bottom of the ocean. But after sitting there for a while, she got up, laid the devilish letter on the kitchen table as she passed by and started to clean up the house while wearing a pokerface. That she was still only ten years old, didn't mean she couldn't be strong.
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She never told her dad a thing about Lux's death. She didn't know why exactly, but he probably hadn't even noticed Lux had joined the army. Besides, she had never gotten even the slightest feeling her father might care about his children. All he seemed to notice in his life were his bottles and his drunk dreams.
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But Zeph's life carried on as it always had, now only with a hell load of pain resting on her heart. Every time she noticed something funny or a little mood lifting - and that wasn't very often -, she had to think about her lost brother, and what he would think of it. Her light pleasure immediately faded when she pictured him laughing loudly, his head thrown backwards.
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That was why Zeph always flinched away from deepening relationships: she had loved her brother so much, and then he had left her. As a ten-year-old, she had made the connection between loving and pain. So if she never loved anyone again, they couldn't hurt her anymore. She never thought the loving and caring about someone could be worth the pain of loss.
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Five painful years later, nothing had changed much; Not her father, not the farm, not her work and not the agony over Lux. One day in mid-spring, she found her father lying in his bed, not moving and not breathing. Dead. Involuntary, she thought about how he didn't look very different dead from alive. Zeph didn't feel much over Melanion's passing away, only relief that she didn't have to clean his hellhole anymore, and maybe a little pity. He had obviously cared a lot about his wife, only he had not been able to handle the loss of her. Of course, she was doing much better to her own opinion. Only later Zeph would understand that pushing her feelings away hadn't been that much greater a solution.
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She decided her father had died of his addiction to alcohol. As a goodbye to him at his funeral, she whispered that he should tell Lux she said 'Hi'.
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She knew her life at the farm had ended. Without her father, she wouldn't be allowed to live there on her own, a fifteen-year-old girl. That was the reason she sold it, farm animals included, and went to the village to search a job. The only things she took with her were some clothes, food, what was left of money and the earring Lux had given her. And also her favorite horse, named Indigo.
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Indigo is a grey-with-black horse, something that isn't seen often in those areas. He is a sanguine stallion, and he had the strangest clear blue eyes. Thence his name, Indigo.
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Zeph didn't really expect to find work in the village. Most people didn't have enough money to pay someone, and the few who had weren't looking for a dirty, plain girl that didn't have experience with anything but farming and hunting. But by lack of a better plan, she could always go beg for money on the street.
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But for once in her life, she was lucky. Only afterthree days, she came across a kind old lady who recommended her to go to the royal palace. She told Zeph there would always be a place for a small girl like her.
With a spark of hope in her heart, Zeph made her way to the palace. She had no idea what she would like to do as a job, but she guessed being a maid would be okay. In the palace - and around it - there was a rule about 'men's work' and 'women's work', as it was called. Men could work as counselors, supervisors, inspectors, soldiers, attendants, butlers, body guards, and many other things. Women were allowed to work as maids, cooks, escorts, laundresses, seamstresses, cleaning ladies, and stuff like that. To her regret, being stable master or one of his apprentices was 'men's work'.
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And that was just the one thing she really wanted to do.
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When arriving at the castle, she was redirected to the chief over the woman's work, a firm, middle-aged woman. Zeph was rejected for the job of maid, and every other job at the palace for that matter, because she accidentally tripped over one of the chief's cats. The look on her face had made Zeph suspect that the woman would hold grievance against her for the rest of eternity.
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Disappointed and discouraged, Zeph made her way to the gate to go back to the village, until she suddenly stopped. She smelled… horses. She looked to her right, and she saw an enormous building - well, enormous for her, since she never saw anything bigger than a regular house. That must be the stables. She debated to herself whether or not to go inside, but the go-inside side of her mind won, so she did.
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While walking past the separate boxes, she admired every single horse she passed. They all had shiny hair and twinkling eyes, a sign that they were taken care of very well. Almost all of the horses there had a royal pedigree. These were quality horses.
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While mesmerizing,Zeph thought about her brother once again. Wouldn't Lux have thought this was wonderful as well? He had shared her love for horses, and had been equally as fanatic about it as she was. A sharp jab of pain raced through her chest, but Zeph was used to it. Every single time she thought about what Lux would think, what Lux would do, or anything involving Lux at all, she braced herself against the familiar torture.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the loud voice of a young man that asked what she was doing. She didn't answer. The sudden voice had scared her stiff. Then the man approached, examining the way she was leaning against a sorrel. Zeph guessed his age was around twenty years, his handsome features still youthful. Then he looked her in the eyes, detecting her anxiety. The man told her not to be afraid, and that he was impressed by the way she could approach this horse. It was one of the most temperamental horses in his stable, so he said, and the only one who the horse allowed to come closer than a few feet, was him. Until now. Then he repeated his previous question about the reason of her being here.
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Zeph told him about that she had wanted to get a job here, but that the chief of the woman's work disliked her.
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The man, who apparently was the stable master - which was very odd because he still was quite young for such a job - stayed quiet for a moment, and then told her he might know a solution for her problem.
His 'solution' was that Zeph should disguise herself into a boy, and then he would agree to hire her - him - because he saw her bond with that horse. He didn't know how she did it, or what she did exactly, but he knew there was something.
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His plan works, and Zeph is allowed to work in the stables. She has to follow the orders the stable master, Viggo, gives her.
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Picture:
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Family:
Mother - Ariana *Last Name Unknown*
She died right after giving birth to Zeph, at the age of 26 winters.
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Father - Melanion Acotas
'Melanion' is also a name of Greek origin, like Zeph's, meaning 'Black'. He died because of his addiction to alcohol since Ariana's death, at the age of 42 winters.
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Brother - Lux Acotas
'Lux' another name with a Greek origin, and it means 'Light'. He perished while fighting for his country at the frontiers at the age of 18.
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Horse - Indigo
He's named after the - for a horse - unusual color of his eyes. He might not be actual family by blood, but Zeph considers him just that. He is still alive, and approximately six winters old.
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Live:
Zeph lives in a fantasy world that's similar to our Middle Ages. Her country is called 'The West Kingdom', and is in war with its neighbor 'The East Empire'.
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More precisely, the village Zeph lives in, Thronia, is located very close to the capital city, Center, and the royal palace. The farm of Zeph's family is in the outskirts of the village. Thronia and Center lie about five miles away from each other, with forest and fields in between.
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The climate of that area is moderate. The summer can be very hot, but in the winters are harsh and often it snows. The whole year through, however, it rains a lot - or, as mentioned, it snows.
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P.S. If this information doesn't fit your story, kkolivia, feel free to change it!
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Additional info:
One of the customs of the people of The West Kingdom is that they don't count age in years, but in winters, because the winters are the hardest of seasons to survive. Most of the babies die of the cold in their first winter.
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Another custom of the people is that they call things by their name. Just look at Center, the capital city. Although it isn't necessary, they generally prefer to name their children with a meaning.
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Healthy young man with their age above the seventeen winters have to join the army and go out to war. The country needs every hand - and life - to save itself.




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