Ndak legends said that the Ndak and the Talo - or Mandak, "not-Ndak", as the Ndak called them - were once one people, but that they split when the Talo turned their backs on Ombasi in favor of a new religion. These tales are doubtful, as the Talo were at that time worshipping a mother goddess they called Adasi, so perhaps there was another reason for the split, lost in the mists of time. Some have suggested the basis of the split was simply that the Ndak had been ruled by the Ngauro and absorbed much from Ngauro culture and technology, while the ancestors of the Talo missed those advancements by successfully evading Ngauro rule. In any case, they also largely escaped the later Ndak conquests by moving into the deep forests north of the river, into which armies had great difficulty penetrating.
For some two millennia the Talo remained an obscure, little-known people of the forests and mountains well north of the Eigə, and no record of any interaction with them remains from the entire period from -1600 to -400 YP. It is uncertain to what degree the classical-period group descends from those Mandak the Ndak knew, save that their speech is strongly demonstrated to have been related to the Edastean languages. At some point they must have had some contact with Faraghin peoples, as their language contained Faraghin loanwords which appear to have been borrowed early in the first millennium BP. A very few words of probable Qedik origin may indicate contact with them as well. Our first recorded contact with them is from Fáralo explorations late in the pre-Imperial period, and sporadic Fáralo documentation over the next several centuries is our main source of information on the Talo.
In classical times the Talo suddenly came to historical significance: During the Etou Civil War in Huyfárah, a faction of Fáralo rebels called the Epuonim (or Puoni) escaped into the Tal in 295 YP. They were welcomed and sheltered by the natives, and in time these two groups became one people. However, in 318-319 YP the Huyfárah emperor Etou III set out to invade the Tal, conquered it, and deported 2/3 of its population to Ussor as slaves; these people became the ancestors of the Toło ethnic group in late southern Huyfárah. Most of the remaining Talo and Puoni fled south, crossed the Eigə river, and finally settled in the land of Kuaguatia southwest of Kasca. A more detailed account of these events can be found here.
What little is known of the classical-era Talo people comes mainly from Fáralo documentation. It seems they practiced a form of semi-nomadic pastoralism, building small annual settlements of semipermanent tent-like houses similar in function to yurts. These settlements tended to stay in place for only a year, each then moving to a new, undepleted location in spring. The Talo relied heavily on sheep, which they used for meat, milk, and wool, but supplemented their diets by hunting. They also practiced garden-scale agriculture, planting grains and vegetables in clearings and fields near their settlements.
The landscape in the northern forest was primarily montane open woodland, interspersed with occasional grassy fields - especially on hilltops and above the tree line. This was nearly ideal for the pastoral lifestyle, and the Talo helped maintain the open fields by burning them from time to time. This is in contrast to the much richer, thicker forest further south, which they kept as a buffer between them and the Aiwa valley far below - for the Talo were strongly isolationist, desiring little contact with other cultures. While they were known to welcome itinerant traders, whenever a foreign group settled too closeby the Talo would retreat deeper into the vast region of foothills and highlands. Though not known for great agression, they are believed to have attacked encroaching settlements of plainsmen from time to time, which may be at the root of the generally sour regard in which the Fáralo held them.
The Talo seem to have organized themselves tribally; each settlement (which usually counted no more than a fifty people) would have a local chief, or teak, but the settlements grouped themselves into tribes or clans, each led by an isaqʷi or "big-man" who made decisions affecting the whole tribe on the advice of his teaks. The local chiefs sometimes had to travel significant distances to reach each other or the big-man, as the settlements of a given tribe could be spread across widely separated lands. The isaqʷi also acted as mediators and appellate judges, leaving settlement-level management to the teaks (who were often too far away to consult with them regularly).
Main article: Tlaliolz
The Talo "language", Tlaliolz, was in fact a group of diverse but related dialects, which together constituted the Talo branch of the Talo-Edastean language family. The dialect for which we have the greatest attestation is the variety the Fáralo came into contact with in the classical period, here referred to as Eastern Tlaliolz.
By two centuries after the exodus of the Talo and Puoni, the Eastern Tlaliolz language survived in neither Kuaguatia nor Huyfárah. Descendents of other varieties of the language are believed to have hung on in remote mountainous regions for perhaps another millennium after this.