|Religion||Golden Thunder cult|
The entirety of Maos is termed the bosom of Earth, because of the richness of soil, continuous rain, and many rushing rivers. The land is filled with high-reaching trees which scrape the skies and anchor the ground. Complex but beautiful, dangerous but valuable, natives live both beneath the roots of Mangroves and at the top of the mallorn trees.
A massive bowl or crater, the Thunder-Lake stretches for at least twenty miles, in a near-perfect circle. The natives of Maos state that it is from the very fist of the Golden Thunder, and keep it as a hallowed hunting ground. Because of the height of the mountain range around it as well as intense heat from the caldera beneath, there is a separate biosphere, giving the Thunder-Lake its name. Massive thunderstorms rage for days, whipping unbelievably sized trees and forcing even the largest of dinosaurs to flee to caves. The Thunder-Lake has its own biosphere, and is practically unaffected by the outside world, except for high level thermal winds, which have the altitude to pass over the encircling ridge.
Because of the rain and hard-beating sun, much steam and vapor rises from the earth towards the heavens. In many places, this manifests itself as mighty thermal jets, known as the Sky-Voice, allowing monstrosities to keep themselves aloft with ease, but equally allowing the Sky-leapers to fly and fall with grace.
The folk of Maos are simple and hardy, because they have to be. Often dark-skinned from the power of the sun, they are small and lithe, all the better for running, swinging, paddling, or fighting for their lives against the murderously fierce jungles that they love.
Maian children have some of the toughest childhoods to endure: those who dwell in the ground may have it easier every day, but the terrors that stalk the mallorn trees can smash through walls and devour families whole. The children of the treetops on the other hand worry not about monstrous "dragons", but can fall to their death with ease if for a moment they lose their skill of body.
On the whole, they are forced to maintain their hard-fisted training regimen. At five, children are taken from their parents and abandoned in the wilderness, and all in the village simply pray that they can return. At twelve, boys and girls are allowed to become adults, should they wish to take their test of age. This test begins first with a trip to the edge of the Thunder-Lake, peering into that hallowed ground. If they can return safely, they begin creation of their own master-spear or beast-saddle. When they return to the Lake in a few years, masterpiece completed, they must single-handedly tame or destroy one of the forest's monsters.
And so, en masse, twenty or thirty Maian youth will rush down the edges, some leaping onto the Sky Voice and floating across the trees in search of their flying steed or tree-breaking quarry. The elders, having done their duty, turn and leave: it will take nearly a month for the anxious mothers and fathers to see their children's triumphant return.
From there, life does not get easier, and monster-hunts are a monthly occurrence. Guilder has provided no little aid here, as its many advancements, such as finer spears and greater taming of the creatures of sky enables hunters' spouses to live without fear.
Dinosaurs are the most obvious and plentiful resource of Maos, as they thunder their way across its rivers, lakes, and forests in massive herds. These range from tiny scaled chickens to 40-foot behemoths with jaws the size of longboats, capable of devouring a man without a single chew. The smaller flighted creatures have recently been tamed, with aid from Guilder's knowledge.
These dinosaurs are of several various types, though most notable are the Theropods, Sauropods and Pterids. Pterids, because they are quite the smallest, despite being capable of sustained flight, even with a rider. The super-light frame of pterid and Maian alike allow the master and his beast to spend many calm hours gliding the Sky-Voice over the forests, between hunts.
Sauropods are the largest by size, and are frequently unable to enter thick-trunked mallorn forests. Some can grow up to a hundred feet in length, though none are capable of anything approaching a dainty size. Sauropods are easy to track, due to their man-sized footprint and miles-audible steps and cries. Maian children frequently make a game of finding and climbing Sauropods in motion, leaping onto their long tails, and running up to the broad backs. The monsters feel little difference, and the youngsters can often spend whole days atop their rides. There is little honor gained thusly; climbing to the back is considered a daily activity. What gains prowess among the children is the more arduous and useful task of climbing a beast's long trunk-neck, and riding there.
While both Pterids and Sauropods may be ridden, Theropods of all sizes are almost impossible to domesticate. Whether the tiny runners which must have legs, arms, and jaws tied shut to prevent escape, or the golden-skinned Tyrant Kings which can devour herds, Theropods stand alone. They are almost never seen in herds, except when tackling difficult meat. This would seem to make them easier to hunt, yet it presents each Runner or Tyrant as a lone threat, well used to sizing up and feasting on packs.
The dinosaurs are of every possible description. Smaller ones are frequently green or deep flecked brown and tan to match the Earth-Bosom's floor. Larger creatures care less for camouflage, and more for appearance. The great Sauropods range from bright blues to crazed red patterns, while great Tyrants are usually black or gold in appearance. The creatures of the sky are more practical than those of the tropical forests below, with white underbellies and green, tan, or brown tops. Only one notable exception to these rules exists: the Thunder-Lake. Its creatures are wholly alien, always being covered in luminescent, impossible-to-miss colors. This is because, in large part, they are poisonous, or pretending to be so.
Athletes, known as Sky-Jumpers, are common amongst the Maian. They are unafraid of anything, since they have been falling from the back of tamed pterids from the age of twelve. In these falls and on their many hunts, the people of Maos demonstrate their prowess in moving swiftly between trees, fighting, and of course, leaping.
There are many different ranks among the Sky-Jumpers, often determined by the number of hunts or kills that have been achieved. The young, however, have taken to a dangerous new sport using the skin of dead pterids. They strap these tough, leathery hides to both arms and legs, and then, riding into the sky, leap from their mounts to fall on the open air. This in and of itself is rather normal: most Maian adults have ridden the Sky-Voice before. The difference is that safe flights require a mount to be both above (for release) and below (for the catch). The foolhardy young athletes care not for such measures of "safety", and opt instead to leap from mountains or trees, gliding through the Bosom on the false wings they formed.
There are certain athletes who do not leave the village. These are called "Maiwa" or "Gorillas", because they are the warriors and first defenders. From youth, they are trained not in speed, but in strength and vitality. They fight raptors bare-handed and carry logs for their sport. Whenever another tribe swoops in from the trees or the skies, the Maiwa of a village are the only ones carrying shields to defend it. As such, they are accorded high honor, so long as they fulfill their tasks.
The greatest need of the Maian is Metal, which Guilder palns to supply with Bronze, for their weapons. A man is useless without his spear is a common saying amongst the warriors, though the women usually replace spear with "mate."
Bronze and gold, interestingly, are only minor parts of the economy of Maos. These metals cover trophies and decorations, adding value, but are usually used for practical ends.
The people of Maos are rumored to be related in some way to Guilder: because of their worship of Golden Thunder or the supposed "Golden Dragons" of the Thunder-lake, they revere gold and metals.
They value prowess as well, making a sort of religion from showing off useful skills to impress the tribe. Naturally, this engenders many competitions, especially among the various castes or circles of athletes.