Relations with Other Peoples
The Mei are probably the group of bae most familiar and friendly with the amelae. Thus, their cultures have blended somewhat to the extent that most Gotevians can get along with most Mei. The demeanor of a typical Mei is usually mild-mannered, brave, and honest, so the Gotevians found them the easiest to work and trade with. The Mei have many exports to offer—plirad wood, special types of fruits that only they know the locations of, iron ore mined far to the north of Ei, and very intricate wood carvings, for which they are famous.
The Mei are also some of the most accepting bae of other species. Whereas the attitude of the Megana or Nirfai toward amelae customs might be one of scorn or disdain, the Mei as a rule attempt to understand prior to passing judgment, and so they do in all areas, not only cultural. This had led them to create strong alliances with all types of peoples.
The Mei have an absolute monarchy, headed by an emperor who rules over many different slinnai, who constitute the next level of the hierarchy. The slinnai are somewhat like governors or princes, rules areas of land but ultimately answering to the Emperor on all matters of law. The slinnai are permitted to choose the members of the nobility just below them, but this appointment occurs only once every 20,000 years or so. In between appoitments, the first child of the current noble takes their place upon death, so in effect there are “mini-dynasties” of lesser nobles.
The Mei have a very strict code of laws called the jatil hir, or the Dawn Command, which consists of 1784 sections, each including 94 statements. This code is extremely slow to change, so in this aspect Mei law can be considered almost overwhelmingly stagnant. However, it is bound to seem more so to other species than it is in reality to the Mei and other bae, due to the simple fact that everything by nature moves more slowly in their society because of their extremely long life spans. So for some Mei, the jatil hir may seem to stagnate, but it functions reasonably well within their society.
The Mei have not had a particularly violent history, but they have fought a few notable wars in their very long history. Usually, however, they were not the aggressors, and took measures of warfare only as a defense. The first war recorded by the Mei was one against the Megana, known as the War of the Moons (kasareθ velisseθir), so called because it originated as a conflict between the children of several prominent nobles of the Mei and Megana (in Baen, “moon” is a metaphorical word for “child”, since the moons resolve around Aeniith, as do, supposedly, children around their parents). It had begun as a dispute over land, then to a dispute over who owned what percentage of the output of the nearby opal mines, and escalated quickly when the Megana accused the Mei of duplicitous trading policies. They also then demanded that the Mei release their legendary secret technique of vlemmissiur weaving and clothing production, which the Mei of course immediately refused. The Megan then rather hastily declared the Mei the enemy of their people and in the following years made petty attacks on various Mei cities until the Mei declared all out war. It was a war that lasted a mere 15 years, however—hardly any time for the long-lived bae. Its end came about thanks to the Quiluma, in fact, whose trade routes were being disturbed by the constant warfare. They demanded a cease to the violence and even offered the Megana an alternative technique to vlemmissiur processing, which, although not comparable to that of the Mei, was still effective in appeasing the hot-headed Megana, at least for a while.
The Imperial dynasty has only changed once in recorded Mei history. This was during the klansta revolution, in which the first emperor was overthrown by a group of angry nobles. They had been angered primarily by a lack of funding to their respective territories, which had resulted in famine and disaster, but also by the fact that the emperor had begun to take power away from the nobility and return it to himself. Soon he instated this process of power shifting, the affected nobles started a conspiracy against him, and after ten years were able to overthrow his regime. They then put one of their leaders on the throne, Tlimarrioss, and his line has reigned over the Mei ever since.
Society, Art, and Values
A very important part of Mei culture is art and craftwork. Not only do they excel in woodwork, but they have many talented metalsmiths, watercolor painters, and fiber artists. The clothing they make is of exception beauty and quality, and sells for very high prices in the markets of both other bae and amelae. They use the fibers of a plant called vlemmissiur in the Baen language. They have developed over the course of many thousands of years a technique (a process aided of course by their exceptionally long lifespans) that produces a material that is extremely soft yet very durable and resistant to water. The Mei are very protective of their secret technique and have in the past defended it even with violence. Integrity is highly valued, especially when it comes to the arts and crafts, as these are sources of great honor and pride.
Honor and pride are central values of Mei culture in general, as are honesty and loyalty. Lying is considered one of the worst wrong-doings. Any other crimes are considered doubly wrong if accomplished through deception or betrayal. For these reasons, the Mei are considered all around as some of the most trustworthy allies one can have.
Perhaps because of this, they are excellent merchants. In fact, in the class system of the Mei, there is a prominent merchant class known as the frelimeθ, who are highly respected by many different members of society. The basis for their respect is their sense of honesty reliability toward their customers as much as the quality and quantity of their goods. Commerce is a serious matter in Mei culture, and the relationship between the client and merchant is almost sacred.
In addition to the merchant class, there are several other classes that make up the hierarchical structure of Mei society. From top to bottom, these are the Mei classes:
The Emperor:The Emperor is the undisputed head of Mei society. Looked to as practically divine, he wields absolute power.
The Imperial Family:The family of the Emperor is just below him in social importance. First is the Emperor’s spouse, then his children, beginning with the eldest, and then his parents and siblings.
slinnai:These are the nobles and officials under the power of the Emperor. They manage certain regions of land and/or certain departments of government. They have the liberty to choose those who serve under them as lesser nobles, but usually this happens only every 20,000 years.
Lesser nobles and officials:These people work directly below the slinnai. Most of them inherent their position as the first child of their parent. They are the last rung of what can be called nobility.
Merchants:The merchant class is most often the wealthiest and most respected of the non-noble classes. They have gained this respect over the course of many thousands of years and have a strict and ancient code of honor regarding their business and their clients.
Artists and crafsmen:This also includes artisans or professional semi-skilled workers. They have strong guilds and do fairly well in most large cities.
kanissimeθ:These are the laborers, largely unskilled and untrained, who are the second to last class in society. They often live difficult but bearable lives in service to rest of society.
lumimeθ:These are the poorest people of Mei society, often without constant jobs and sometimes homeless. Their names means “soul of the foot” in Baen.