So little is inarguably known about the Nitenmangrey that it has become commonplace, in the historical community, to attribute any unexplained event to that period. It would be arrogant of me not to continue this longstanding and venerable tradition - a tradition which many historians trace to the Nitenmangrey period. Thus, without further ado, I offer this treatise on what is, and also possibly on what is not, known about the Nitenmangrey.
First, a word about usage. The term "Nitenmangrey" is variously used to refer to:
- A period of time, ending somewhere around -900 EC
- The Nitenmangrey culture, which flourished during that period.
- The religious practices of that time, and, thus, the small group of fanatics that still practice a religion vaguely related to what is known about the ancient Nitenmangrey people.
As it's not always clear in which of these contexts it is being used, it's almost always safe to say that one particular thing or another originated in, or was originated by, the Nitenmangrey, without fear of being challenged with hard facts.
The Nitenmangrey Epoch
The period of time referred to as the Nitenmangrey Epoch ran roughly from -2750 to -900 EC. Exact dates are rather vague, since they are drawn as much from legend as from archaeology, however, there are some indisputable archaelogical finds, primarily in the Dagger Seas area. While experts argue as to whether these people rose to prominence as early as -2750, or whether it was not until as late as -2500, it is fairly universally accepted that experts will argue about practically anything given half a chance.
The Nitenmangrey Culture
Depending on who you're willing to listen to, the Nitenmangrey culture is marked by great kings, enormous wealth, fantastic literature, and wise governmental theories, or by tyrants, poverty, ignorance, and anarchy. The historical record is slightly confused on a few points. However, on closer examination, we find that the culture existed in several phases, as do many cultures. Simply speaking, it had clear periods of rise and fall. The final catastrophic fall appears to have begun with the discovery of the so-called "perfect ratio" for Kreem Pye, and ended roughly -900 EC.
The Nitenmangrey, as a people, began to gather in the Dagger Seas area some time around -2750 EC, although the use of the name does not first appear in the anthropological literature until much later. The first recorded use of the name appears to be in the -1648 work by the anthropologist Kebonston Lefkrane:
The peoples in current prominence in the Dagger Seas region, while not so enlightened as us, have some amusing characteristics of their culture. They call themselves the Nitenmangrey, a term which, in their high religious speech, means The People Of Varlansk, Who Wear His Hats. Varlansk appears to be either one of their many gods, although one doddering old fool claimed it was just an ancient joke about the wind. Whatever the case, the name of Varlansk is never actually spoken aloud, on pain of death. Consequently, the joke was never fully explained to me.
It is perhaps one of the jokes of history that we don't know for sure what culture Kebonston Lefkrane is referring to as "us" in this passage, although there is evidence to suggest several possible answers.
Most researchers agree that at least by -2500, the Nitenmangrey had risen to clear prominence in the Dagger Seas area, and their influence, in religion, art, literature, and agriculture, spread far and wide. Due to the clear influence of Nitenmangrey culture in far-flung parts of Ghyll by -2500 EC, it seems clear to this researcher that the earlier date for their rise to prominence seems the likeliest.
The Nitenmangrey were very formative in our current concepts of governance, creating the notions of the Hive-Lord, the Paramount Queen, and the Parliament. The Parliament, in particular, is considered a true innovation, and survives to this day, in our Parliment, with many of our strangest parliamentary customs being vaguely attributed to tradition and nothing more.
Bursine the 14th
Bursine the 14th, creator of the Bursine Calendar, was a Hive-Lord of the Nitenmangrey towards the end. He appears to have held that position circa -1050 through -998 EC. This final date is well documented, as you probably know.
Contributions to literature were apparently copious, although little of it survives to this day. It is evident, from references in both historical record and local legend, that there was once a great library, containing thousands of volumes, primarily of poetry and religious literature, located at a secret, carefully guarded location. The actual location of the library has passed into legend, and is rumored to still exist somewhere in the hills around the Dagger Seas. Expeditions set out nearly every year, with the stated purpose of locating this library. Predictably, local industry thrives on these legends almost as much as on the stories of the Kebro-shepenor.
Adlorst and kreem pyes
The Adlorst Vinifera grape was developed, from wild strains, by the agricultural experimentation of the Nitenmangrey people. They also developed a very potent early form of the wine, which led, inexorably, to the demise of their great culture. Around the same time period, experimentation into the legendary "perfect ratio" for Kreem Pye removed whatever doubt may have been remaining.
The fall of their culture
In the mid 900's, the Nitenmangrey degenerated into a hopelessly alcholic culture. Between the Adlorst and the proliferation of Kreem Pyes, business ground to a halt, the functions of governance were abandoned, and the culture fell into disarray. When the culture awoke the next morning, so to speak, the hangover never went away. By -900 EC, the great civilization had all but vanished.
The Nitenmangrey Religion
Of inestimable impact on today's Ghyll is the Nitenmangrey religion.
During the -50's, the age of religious tolerance, it was customary to attribe any weird religious practice to the Nitenmangrey. Thus, the gap between the populist view of Nitenmangrey religion and the actual scholarly knowledge is significant. For example, neither worshiping dead monkeys, nor the ingestion of live ones, can be reliably attributed to anything other than too much beer and dares at New Year's Day parties.
However, the true Nitenmangrey religion has given us such sacred rites as the blessing of the Darseed, the solemn 'WHOOOP' uttered before (and, occasionally, after) Bindlet Ball games, and Aquentravalkeration.
The BoFK, and the modern Nitenmangrey Cult
The Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge has made a concerted effort to unforget the details of the Nitenmangrey Religion. Indeed, this is one of their central focuses. This focus has, unwittingly, led to the emergence of the Nitenmangrey Cult. This cult bears a small resemblance to the ancient religion, in so far as anything is known aboout it or uncovered by the BoFK.
Where details are unknown, the members of the cult seem perfectly content to be creative, or, as the official process is called, Making Crap Up. Indeed, every year, it is requisite to add at least three major beliefs to the cult, while others inevitably pass out of vogue via attrition.
The latest thing seems to be the fervent belief that submerging oneself in purified darseed oil will lead to eternal life. Certainly, the many people who have drowned in investigating this belief now know one way or the other.
--DrBacchus 09:53, 14 Jan 2005 (EST)