They have given their name to the mountain on which most of them live, Fumetsu-zan, while the youngest generations live in the fortress city of Chieshi. The Fumetsu are immortal in the sense of never ageing rather than never dying. They are highly susceptible to disease, death in childbirth, and death from infected wounds. They live in a highly controlled and formal culture, which is governed by an all-female Elder Council who reside at the summit of Fumetsu-zan. Fumetsu culture is highly militarised, especially in Chieshi, where adult males live in barracks set into the Outer Wall, while women and children live in houses nearer to the Inner Wall.
Same-sex attraction is the default Fumetsu sexuality, but in Chieshi heterosexual marriage is enforced, while heterosexual relationships are illegal on Fumetsu-zan. The rationale given for the ban is that Fumetsu women (and men) never lose their fertility, which makes population control a necessity for an unageing people. Fumetsu women must wed on their 33rd birthday and their primary duty is to bear and raise children. Once a woman's youngest grandchild is married she make elect to leave Chieshi and go through the Inner Gate, the only access point between the city and Fumetsu-zan. Before she crosses over to the mountain she must divorce her husband, who then gains his right to move to Fumetsu-zan. A divorced man can continue to serve in the army, but is not permitted to engage in front-line action.
There is no Fumetsu religion although they have a spirituality centred around the hearth and the shrines for their dead. In Chieshi the main off-duty past-time for men is drinking wine in the public houses that dot the city. For women the main past-time outside the home is the sport of sword-fighting, which takes place in fighting halls, also dotted around the city. Sword-fighting as a sport grew out of the tradition of women being trained in sword-craft, so that they might defend their home and children against attack. Despite this enthusiasm for sword-fighting Fumetsu women are not permitted to serve in the military. The main character of Preserving Eternity is Mayu, a once in a generation talent who has dominated the sport for many years.
The Fumetsu culture is based on that of feudal Japan.
The Kirigesh are nomadic tribes, who roam The Plains in Mercia McMahon's alternate Asia fantasy series the Fumetsu Cycle. They have been at war with the Fumetsu for a thousand years by the time the novel begins. Their culture is tribal, but they maintain a combined standing army that wages war against the Fumetsu in the southern plains and the Paek-Du in the northern plains. The Kirigesh army makes extensive use of women's units, something that sets them apart from the male-only Fumetsu military. The Kirigesh maintain an uneasy peace with the aboriginals of the southern plain in virtue of their common war against the Fumetsu. The Fumetsu travel on horseback and their weapons of choice are swords, hand-axes, and spears. They have a strong religious belief centred around a doctrine of reincarnation. The main past-time is hunting, for which they use bows.
The Kirigesh are the narrative foil to the Fumetsu, therefore much of their culture is based on drawing a contrast with the immortals. Their weaponry, names, and religion are based loosely on Sri Lankan history.
The Winter People is the name the Fumetsu give to those the Kirigesh call Aboriginals. They are a mortal race that has limited contact with the other peoples in and around The Plains, except in war. They are cave dwellers living in what others call the Aboriginal Hills, which are to the East of their sacred mountain, Fumetsu-zan. They are bitter enemies of the Fumetsu, who built a walled city around the base of the mountain. Their language is not spoken by many outsiders and so their culture is little understood. They have a form of collective government known to outsiders as the aboriginal leadership. The aboriginals name for themselves is humans, even though the Kirigesh and Paek-Du are also humans. Therefore those races refer to them as aboriginals. As the novel opens the Fumetsu still refer to them as the Winter People, but that terminology is being called into question.
The aboriginals are great engineers and built siege towers to try to get onto the battlements of Chieshi. In response the Fumetsu built enclosed battlements and the siege tower attacks came to an end. Chariots are the chosen form of transport and the aboriginals' horses are perfectly comfortable being underground.
The Aboriginal culture is based on the Ainu of Japan.
The Paek-Du are a mortal race who live on Mount Paek-Du and are at war with the Kirigesh to their south and the Chang to their north. They look very similar to the immortal Fumetsu and can be mistaken for them. They were at war with the Fumetsu when the latter lived on The Plains, but there has been peace between those two races for a thousand years. The Paek-Du maintain a large army as they are fighting a war on two fronts. All Paek-Du have a name ending in -Du. The Paek-Du army incorporates women warriors.
The Paek-Du culture is based on that of Korea.
Fumetsu-zan (or Mount Fumetsu) is the crucial location in Mercia McMahon's Fumetsu Cycle, a non magical fantasy set in an alternate Asia. It is a tall and wide mountain on which all but the youngest generations of the Fumetsu live. It is a fertile wood-covered mountain, with vine groves on its lower slopes. It is surrounded on four sides by the Inner Wall, which has only one exit at the Inner Gate, which is in the south side of the wall. The Inner Wall separates Fumetsu-zan from the fortress city of Chieshi, where the younger Fumetsu live. Wildlife is smaller than on the neighbouring plains.
The original inspiration for Fumetsu-zan was Japan's Fuji-san (or Mount Fuji), but without the snow or surrounding desert.
Chieshi is the city-state that lies at the heart of Preserving Eternity, the first novel in the Fumetsu Cycle. It surrounds the mountain of Fumetsu-zan on which the older members of the immortal Fumetsu race live. Chieshi is a militarised city of cramped conditions whose sole purpose is to protect Fumetsu-zan from attack by the mortal human races they live among. The city is essentially one street going around the four sides of the gap in between the Inner Wall that separates it from Fumetsu-zan and the Outer Wall that protects the city and mountain from attack.
Chieshi dominates the south of The Plains and mirrors the mountain kingdom of the Paek-Du at the northern end of The Plains. The Kirigesh live nomadically on The Plains and those the Fumetsu call the Winter People live in the caves to the east of Chieshi. As the novel opens Chieshi has had peace for a thousand years with Mount Paek-Du, but an on-going war throughout that time with the Kirigesh and Winter People.
The original idea for Chieshi was inspired by the walled city of Troy in West Asia, but the Fumetsu are modelled on feudal Japanese culture and so the architecture of the city is inspired by the battlements of Kumamoto Castle in Japan. The image of Chieshi on the book cover is a re-rendering of a 19th century photograph of the castle.
The Hill Castles are ruins of hilltop castles once occupied by Fumetsu clans before the move to Fumetsu-zan. They sit opposite the eastern end of the front wall of Chieshi and as the novel opens have lain in ruins for a thousand years. They form the foothills of the Aboriginal Hills, which are further east.
The Plains (or the plains as it is written in the novel) is the fictional area controlled by the nomadic Kirigesh tribes who are at war with the Fumestu who live at its southern boundary in the walled city of Chieshi. The world of the novel is an alternate East Asia that has no South China sea to keep its alternate Japan (Chieshi) separate from Korea (Mount Paek-Du) and China (home of the Chang to the north of Paek-Du). The Plains are the equivalent in their Earth of the South China Sea in our world.
The northern end of the plains is dominated by Mount Paek-Du (home of the Paek-Du) and the southern end by a slightly smaller mountain Fumetsu-zan, around which the Fumetsu built Chieshi. To the west is a desert and to the east is the hills where the aboriginals (equivalent to the Ainu in our world) live. Just to the west of those hills are the ruins of hill castles where the Fumetsu lived before they moved to Fumetsu-zan and later built Chieshi. The Plains are arid, but with many glades to provide more fertile zones. It is a considerable distance to ride from the southern end to the northern end of The Plains, hence the characters in the novel taking about northern plains and southern plains.
The climate changes considerably between winter and summer as noted in the Fumetsu change of skin-tone from pale in winter to dark in summer. This leads them to use the derogatory terms Winter People to refer to the paler aboriginals and Summer People to refer to the dark-skinned Kirigesh (they call the Paek-Du Spring People, but without reference to their skin-tone). The animals on The Plains are larger than the wildlife found on the two mountains.
The Aboriginal Hills are the ancestral home of the cave-dwelling aboriginals. They are to the east of Chieshi, although the foothills, which house the ruins of Fumetsu hill castles, are to the north of the front wall.
Mount Paek-Du is the mountain home of the Paek-Du, who dominate the northern end of The Plains, where the Kirigesh roam, just as Fumetsu-zan and its surrounding city of Chieshi dominate the southern end. It is a large, gentle-sloped, wide mountain, with wildlife that is smaller than that typically found on The Plains.
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