Northern Customs (book)
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Therengian Culture... Page 2 Therengian Holidays... Page 4
- Shosandu... Page 5
- Andu of Penance... Page 8
- Vereklaath... Page 9
- Langen's Feast... Page 12
- The Gypsy Gathering... Page 13
Therengian Customs... Page 14
Introduction -- Therengian Culture
It is well known amongst all that the southlands are ruled with disgrace. While the lords of Therengia serve honor and tradition and duty, the lords of the south serve greed, ambition. Shady deals made under tables with shady characters, a southern lord would abandon any principle, any belief, any ethic for the sake of profit, political advancement, or some other materialistic goal. Therengia, however, is different. Long after the surrounding lands fell into chaos and anarchy as they discarded the traditions that had given their civilizations birth, Therengia clung to the Old Imperial laws and honor, and clings to them still. It is with these laws that House Theren has maintained order and dignity. From duty comes honor, from honor comes strength, and from tradition comes stability and prosperity.
The old ways shall always live in the north. In these harsh lands, bordered by barbaric tribes and savage creatures, devastated by brutal cold in the winter and bitter heat in the summer... a strong devotion to honor and fulfillment of duty is important.
Essential to the carrying out of justice, peace, and prosperity is order. Without order, all is chaos, and honor is lost. Order, though, cannot exist with a weak government, or when the lords are more concerned with their political well-being than the well-being of their subjects. It is this knowledge that gave birth to the Imperial nobility. It is House Theren that provides order and stability in Therengia, and from this comes justice and peace.
In the Empire, it was the task of the lords to protect their people and see to their well-being. They were tasked with leading the people, providing unity, seeing to the carrying out of justice. There was a bond between the two groups of noble and subjects, each side providing their own part.
That is the way of things in Therengia. Each portion of the land is seen to by the Chosen of Chadatru, the descendants of Akroeg, the lords. Above all those lords is the highest of lords, the Baron, the head of House Theren. The Barons that rule Therengia have always held more power than many kings, yet it is said the first Baron Palatine chose to retain a title of lower ranking after the Great Collapse as a gesture of humility. The line of Theren has been the favored of Rutilor, Lord of Kings, since then.
Like all realms, Therengia has many holidays all its own, that are either celebrated only in Therengia, or that are celebrated elsewhere, but with extremely different customs here. I will list some of those holidays, and practices they involve, for the uneducated. I understand the brutal desert Musparans have some unique holidays of their own, but I'm certainly not going to cover those here.
Shosandu, or New Day, is the first day of every year.
During the time of the Great Collapse, the cult of the World Dragon Priest came into existence. It wasn't long after Provincial rule was established that this order turned militaristic, and under Dzree they began a rampage across the newly formed and therefore weak nations. Her people took advantage of the instability of the lands following the end of the Empire, and they cut a bloody path northward, under the Conqueror's Banner.
The Therengian forces were slowly pushed further and further back, until they were defeated wholly. The people were forced to flee the capital in the night before the Dragon Priest army had arrived, forced to take refuge in the furthest Therengian border-forts. The Lord Theren, His Excellency Baron Bamiec himself, along with his most elite soldiers held Fort Kriota throughout the length of Dragon Priest rule, keeping most of the citizenry safe (unlike such disasters as what occurred in Shard). There was no shame in losing to the Dragon Priests. There was no loss of honor. The Priests fought without honor -- they used evil magics and evil beasts conjured from the womb of Dergati. Even the Hounds of Rutilor fell to the Priests. No shame.
The Baron and his people were forced to remain on the outskirts of civilization, holding an uneasy alliance with a ragtag group of Dwarven refugees, forced to wait until the time to strike was right. In time, that chance presented itself.
The seers of the land knew when that chance had come. It was an omen from the gods. Just as they had battled the World Dragon and sealed it away, so to would their children battle the spawn of that defeated beast. The Conqueror's Banner lit the sky again, and that night Dzree died. Revolts broke out across the Dragon Priest Empire simultaneously. Ferdahl Alec the Phoenix led the Elotheans and Elves in liberation of Ilithi, Neithrel and Savrin led the people of Leth Deriel to fight the Dragon Priests in the nearby regions, and the young Baron Falstad, descendant of Bamiec, with minor assistance from the Dwarf Baulsir defeated the Priests in the north.
On Shosandu, the New Year, we celebrate this victory, the victory of Baron Falstad who drove the Dragon Priests from Therengia. We remember the joy of freeing our cities. But we also stand in remembrance of the defeat all Five Provinces suffered at their hands, and stand fast to prevent such tragedies. Shosandu is a day of cheer, but it is also a day of sadness and grim determination.
Andu of Penance
This somber occasion occurs during the last week of the month of Skullcleaver the Dwarven Axe.
Though known as the 'Day of Penance,' this is actually a misnomer as it lasts an entire andu (four days). This holiday first appeared amongst the Teyra, but though Therengians scorned the foolish beliefs and customs of those misguided individuals, the Andu of Penance was adopted into mainstream Therengian society.
During the Andu of Penance, one reflects upon the wrongs and mistakes they have committed during the year. Our lives must be lived according to the codes of honor and duty, and the Andu of Penance is when one atones for their failures in achieving a pure lifestyle. During this week, one spends most of their time in meditation for their failures, and contemplation upon how better to live their lives in honor. The remainder of the time is spent working nonstop. Celebrants are also required to fast.
Also, the Andu of Penance serves to prepare the people for the coming winter. Therengian winters are particularly harsh, and the Andu of Penance reminds us of the hardships to come, and how best to endure them. It bleeds the weakness out of the heart and spirit, and reinforces our devotion to honor and the gods.
Vereklaath, Founding Day
Vereklaath is celebrated on the first day of the month of Akroeg the Ram. Though the holiday is honored throughout the entire province, the primary celebrations occur in Therenborough.
After the time of the Clan Wars and the Elven-Human War, there came Akroeg, who began the process of uniting the various clans. Sometimes Akroeg brought others with him and his Ram Clan by peace and negotiations, and the weaker clan's willingness to join something larger, their lack of will to resist and fight any longer. Sometimes he brought others to heel with force. His task was to unite the lands and end the never-ending cycle of warfare by small, disparate groups. The Elven-Human War had shown that something needed to change.
Akroeg formed a unique system of governing for the Ram Clan which he hoped would pacify them and give them a say in the running of things. But even with this in place, people still thought as themselves as members of this or that race, and further as members of this or that clan. Old clan blood feuds refused to die, and there was still enmity and a lack of true unity.
When Akroeg died, his successors continued the process he began; his wife, Lirum, his son, Verek, Barabalas, and the scholar Moliko. The proclamation they would soon make shocked the people that had been placed beneath the Ram's banner -- the old Clans were no more. Thus the Empire was born. The Empire sought to abolish the ancient blood feuds and enmities, eliminate the separateness created many smaller groups having their own clan name. It sought to make one people, and thereby bring about a new order of civilization and peace.
Verek was anointed the first Emperor of the Seven Pointed Star, and pledged oaths before Chadatru. He then saw to continuing the uniting of peoples his father espoused, and brought even more land to the new Empire. Though there were many areas the Empire never conquered, and some lands they conquered and couldn't hold, it brought huge amounts of land under its benevolent rule, and to those lands it brought civilization. and law.
On Vereklaath we celebrate the founding of the Empire, and its descendant Therengia, which still holds the Imperial way of life. The day is marked by festive parades, which includes a march of the soldiers in full armor bedecked with colorful ribbons and flowers. Citizens will also often share gifts to remember the Empire's spirit of unity, prosperity, and giving.
We don't know the precise day when Langen, a Human monk, first crossed over the lake in the year two hundred and forty into a small firth, there a tiny fishing village. Historians have narrowed it down, though, and that is the date believed. But even if it is not accurate, that is the day the people of Langenfirth (later renamed in his honor) celebrate his coming.
Though at first shunned by the villagers, Langen won them over with his creation of one of the finest ales ever brewed, which he crafted from the waters of Lake Gwenalion. Langen's Ale was soon popular the world 'round. Langen taught his brewing secrets to his son when he died, and his son in turn passed them on when his time came.
Travelers come from all over to Langenfirth and the other villages along Lake Gwenalion's coast to celebrate Langen's Feast, which is complete with roasted meats from the forest animals, hunted by the villagers, fresh Gwenalion fish , and Langen's Ale. When the feast is over, though, no Langen's Ale remains.
The Gypsy Gathering
There is no set time when the Gypsy Gathering is celebrated, though it almost always occurs in the heart of spring, when life strikes a tenuous defeat over death.
During the Gypsy Gathering, each of the nomadic gypsy tribes from around the entire northlands send a group of representatives to celebrate the victory of Lanival and the establishment of their way of life. The event can last from one day to as many as six or seven, though it usually lasts three days.
It's a joyous event for the gypsies, which they celebrate with festivals, feasts, and games. The tribes bond during this gathering, and communicate with each other -- sharing stories, songs, their trials and tributes since the last gathering. Clan leaders are announced during the gather, and inter- tribal councils are chosen.
There are several different marriage customs throughout Therengia. I will attempt to detail some of the most common ceremonies.
One custom dictates a man asking for the permission of the woman's hand from her father. The young man will present the elder with an abuertelo. The two men will then duel for the honor of the woman. If the father approves of the man, it is customary for him to allow himself to lose, to give the honor of the marriage to the young man. Afterwards, he will give his blessing. If he does not approve of the wedding, he must fight with all his heart to defeat the other. If he still loses then the marriage has been approved by Chadatru, and must proceed without the father's blessing. It should be noted though, that if one dies during this honor duel, there is great shame placed upon the killer. There is never any honor in killing in that manner.
With the father's blessing received, the bride and groom can proceed with wedding plans as they wish. The ceremony of the wedding itself is more or less the same as that done in Zoluren, save that every Therengian couple must take vows for Chadatru, pledging to live their lives with honor.
The duel of the abuertelo is by far the most prominent wedding custom, honored everywhere in Therengia. There is another major one, though, held by people of the Danduwen Forest or those that live near Lake Gwenalion.
The family and friends and the man and woman gather together on the shores of Lake Gwenalion. A raft is loaded with willow sticks, and then the man and woman together push it out into the water. If the raft floats out to the center of the lake, the marriage is blessed by the gods and should proceed. If it doesn't, or if it sinks, the time is not yet right, and the couple must wait another year. Either way, following the ceremony, the gathered people share a feast.
It brings ill fortune to disregard the warnings of the lake ceremony. If it is unsuccessful, the couple must wait. Going against the ceremony is the same as not doing the ceremony at all, and it is a slight to tradition, a way to bring dishonor to one's family and ancestors.
Just so, it is a bad omen to be wed in the winter, for several reasons. First, in the intense cold of northern winter, parts of Lake Gwenalion will freeze over, making a successful ceremony an impossibility. And second, winter is considered to be the season of the dead -- no good can come of a union during that time. Being wed in the winter is a sure way to bring upon a person and their descendants the attentions of Dergati, who will curse the family and their line. One such marriage was that of Tatia and Byron Dunshade.
When a boy reaches the time in his life when he is to become a man, he must undertake a coming of age ceremony. Therengian youths are drilled from a very early age, required to learn the Codes of Honor. When he has reached the age where he shall become an adult, he must recite the Codes perfectly, without the slightest error.
Once the recitations are complete, he will be gifted his first true sword from his father, and sent out into the wilderness. The areas children are sent varies with the region. Some are sent to Ker'Leor, others to the Fens, others still to various local ruins. There the child is expected to remain for two andaen, eight days. He may take only his gift-sword and his knowledge and his honor. The boy will be required to survive those eight days, and then return to his home, where he is greeted as a man.
From nothing do we all come, and to nothing we must return. When a warrior dies an honorable death, he is placed upon a pyre and turned into ash, releasing the spirit. Those ashes are then sent free, that the warrior may join his ancestors. When one who is not a fighter dies, or if a warrior dies an dishonorable death, they are buried, though this imprisons the spirit.
By my hand,
Scribe to House Theren