Outcasts (book)

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The Outcasts

By Tiso Rhodri-Fawr, King's Wiseman of the Celendron Tribe
                            --**-- 
Ye may judge and scorn the Outcasts if ye wish.  Hate them for
their pride, honor and power.  But know this well, they are here
to stay, and will never be forgotten again. 
                            --**-- 

As an outsider looking into the lives of the Outcasts, I found them to be a curious lot. I am a new member of the tribe, and I still have much to learn of them. But as I became closer to Warrior King Raenilar Celendron, Yhaman and Koromas Urthil, I found that their desires were not uncommon to the rest of us. Speaking with King Raenilar and others of his tribe, I gathered information, and I have scribed my observations and opinions to help enlighten those who have come to fear or hate the Outcasts, or even those who only wish to know more.

Those who come in contact with them consider them uncivilized and yet are fascinated by their strength, stamina, force of will, charisma, and versatility. Those befriended by them have a great deal of respect for them and understanding of them. Those opposing them fear and lack needed understanding The Outcasts' dislike of strangers developed as a defensive reaction to the ones who have endangered their survival in the past. As a result they have received a reputation for being a sullen and hostile people.

The Outcasts are not the heathens and barbarians that many have come to call them. They say their ancestors were forced out of their home 600 years ago, and that learning to live in a harsh climate forced them to be fierce and sometimes cruel by our standards in order to survive. Raising their families in the brutal lands, constantly occupied with survival, they had no time to learn a more sophisticated way of life, the life of the ones they call the Wetlanders. Outcasts are specialists in survival against severe odds; and survive they did, and even thrived in the desert.

Judging Outcast tribes by our standards, something we sometimes unwittingly do, is unfair to them. We must look at them in their time and place, recognizing that their fight for survival and their severe life kept them at a different cultural level.

Outcasts strive for excellence in the way they conduct their daily lives. They believe that reason is the true source of knowledge and that a wise person is the best person. Reason, not emotion, should rule our lives. Every action in daily life is thought to have meaning and implication for the individual and guides how he or she interacts with tribal society or fulfills obligations imposed by society, law, and religion.

To acknowledge only the brutal aspects of their behavior is to fail to understand the Outcasts. The Outcasts recognize as law only their own tribal customs and laws. Their often harsh ways cannot be compared to Wetlanders' morality. The Outcasts were influenced by their own environment and the different cultures with which they came in contact. The Baron of Therengia and the Prince of Zoluren alike saw them as supremely accomplished in warfare and survival, although others see them only as butchers and shedders of blood.

There are many levels of civilization in the lands, each with an accompanying body of knowledge and customs. It was frequently necessary for the Outcast tribe to engage in internecine wars, which were usually not unprovoked. The strongest leader would receive the best lands and obtained the members of the losing tribe. Over time, the Outcasts became one of the most feared, mightiest and wealthiest tribes of the desert.

But still more astonishing than the speed of the conquests is their orderly character. I can only imagine the destruction there must have been during the years of prior warfare, but by and large the Outcasts, far from leaving a trail of ruin, led the way to a new integration of peoples and cultures within their tribe.

The structure of law that the early kings set down proved its value in controlling the other tribes. It is true that the instincts and traditions of some of the other tribes caused revolts and civil wars from time to time; but in the end, these uprisings served only to affirm more effectively the strength and the power of later kinds, and ultimately King Raenilar.

But to truly understand the Outcasts better, ye need to understand them as warriors. Among the many traits of these warriors, is their honor. It is one of the most admired things in respect to these warriors. But once honor is lost or damaged, it can at times be regained through rigorous trial or long term atonement, and sometimes not even then. There are some warriors that lose their honor completely and become nameless thereafter within the tribe. These warriors are ones that have betrayed the tribe in some way, or have broken a sworn oath or blood oath. For what ever reason, if they are not put to death, they are cast out of the tribe, never to be spoken of again, or allowed to enter within its boundaries. Their family can be stripped of all entitlements bestowed upon them in the past, and either may leave the tribe with the exiled, or remain and be struck down to a lower caste within the society. These judgements upon the family are made by the grace of the king.

An Outcast warrior values courage, certitude, loyalty and honesty. He even values these things when they are evident in the enemy. Outcasts admire and respect such an enemy even when in combat with him. Through the very act of honorable battle, a warrior acknowledges the belief that this honor exceeds even the bounds of caste, city and code. When during the course of battle, an Outcast warrior has deemed an enemy to be honorable, but that enemy is bereft of a way to die according to their codes, an honorable Outcast warrior will provide him with an opportunity to die with the dignity of a warrior. The warrior will than return the defeated foe to his people; this is considered honorable to both the Outcast and the enemy. This was often seen as Yhaman and Koromas returned the fallen warriors back to their people during the war to take Shard.

Those who meet an Outcast warrior should know that they are prepared to instantly enforce their decisions and defend their personal code at all cost. And that it would be foolish for anyone to stand in their way unless they, too, have declared the same intentions. Ye may not agree with an Outcast warrior, but any attempt by you to prevent him from taking action will have immediate consequences. A warrior's honor is fragile yet powerful, and sometimes a fleeting thing, so it is the duty of the warrior to maintain honor at all costs. The warrior's honor is difficult to put into words because it is regarded as a highly personal matter.

The Word of an Outcast

One of the greatest and most important points of personal honor is a person's word. Understandably, it is not always sensible to tell the truth, and in certain situations the absolute telling of the truth can at times cause great complications, the death or injury of someone. However, there is a difference between always telling the truth and breaking one's word or oath, which is the concern here. An Outcast's word is quite literally his honor, and when a person offers his hand to an Outcast and is accepted, that is the formal pledge of the person's word of honor.

It was not because truthfulness had achieved such a high virtue in our society. Instead, we view our reputations as being the most important of personal possessions. Thus, if a person told a lie or betrayed their family or friends, the person would fall into discredit, and be known as a liar and a disgrace. This not only is their feeling among their own, but, as I have witnessed, is expected of those outside the tribe.

I saw this happen during the final days the Outcasts were in Shard. An Elothean lass who only wanted power over others tried her best to betray her friends, family and the Resistance by telling Koromas anything he wanted to know. His feelings toward her at the end were nothing short of disgust and displeasure. As Yhaman so eloquently put it, "In the wetlands, the only thing one sees is the corruption and degradation, where one's word means as much as a piece of yak dung."

A person within the tribe who has committed a wrong freely confesses it. This may save face, but he would still have to endure any and all consequences of his actions. As was stated, a man's word in his honor, and to disgrace one's honor within the tribe brings stiff penalties.

Respect

An Outcast warrior respects anything that can influence him positively or negatively. He must take into account the worth of each thing in life, each enemy and friend he possesses, then decide the degree of respect and importance it has in his life. To do otherwise is foolish. Respect is therefore a system where life's every object and event is classified and measured according to a Warrior's fears and desires. Once all things are classified, a warrior can move through life prepared, knowing that his respect for each thing of importance will guide his actions.

An Outcast warrior likes to be seen as a responsible man or woman who keeps his own and his tribe's honor by self-control and bravery, one able to protect the women, elderly, children and guests from physical harm and provide for their needs.

Duty

One of many roles of a warrior's daily life is service, or duty. Service is an act performed on behalf of another warrior, of the king, or of anyone in need in the tribe. Duty is the sense of responsibility that compels the warrior to serve his king and protect the tribe, and is the scale by which service is measured.

Everyone is also responsible for the tribe's communal honor. They will provide a guest with all he needs, and keep checking that he is comfortable during his stay with the tribe. This may seem to some as a rather strange custom within the tribe, but a guest of the tribe is considered just that and is taken care of, protected and honored till such time as they leave.

A complete stranger could stay for as long as three days without being asked of his whereabouts. While he is still under suspicion and watched with an ever-constant eye, he is considered and treated as a guest and can enjoy the tribe's full protection.

Religion

Although some Outcasts do not have a religious code to live by, they have certain traditions, and according to these, certain actions are considered sinful. But this is not to say that some do not take on the daily worship of a god of their choosing. Most, as I have observed, are very reluctant to speak on their beliefs and deities. But it is the unanimous code with all of members of the tribe that they despise the undead and all forms of necromancy, and will go to great lengths to ensure all of the tribe understand this. Anyone who is found thinking otherwise about this matter would be exiled from the tribe or in extreme cases, put to death. I am told that if I said any more about these beliefs and their consequences, I would be revealing tribal secrets.

Oaths

Oaths among the Outcasts are not considered something that is sworn directly to the king; an oath to do what one is in honor bound to do is considered unnecessary. It is likewise a given that all tribes are loyal to the king. As mentioned above, the word of an Outcast is his honor; established tribes honor their tribe's leaders, and most of all they show honor to the king. Koromas holds great loyalty to the king, but is not under a sworn oath. His oath of honor to the king is given in accordance to the prophecy.

Unlike the Wetlanders, who may swear an oath to their leaders or not as they choose, all the Outcast tribes are bound by honor in an unspoken oath to follow King Raenilar.

The exception to this would be called the Blood Oath. This oath is a bonding of blood, whether it is to the king or another member of the tribe. Due to circumstances and actions, a Blood Oath was taken between King Raenilar and Yhaman, binding them together as if they were of birth blood. Among other things, this means any insult to Yhaman or the King is also a direct insult to the other. Yhaman is sworn to protect the King, as the King would do for him. Many have heard Yhaman refer to King Raenilar as Aman, this meaning that he is family in the closest degree.

Now to the oaths of another tribe: outside the king's tribe, an oath of water would be considered to seal any sort of deal that could be made. These are usually done in regards to alliances, safe passage or anything else that influences the tribe directly.

Debts and Laws

Blood debts occur within the tribes themselves. These are usually due to breaking an oath, and not only the person in question would suffer, but also the entire family could be held to this blood debt. Blood calls for blood. If a member of a tribe commits murder inside the tribe, nobody will defend him. In case of escape he becomes an outlaw. No worse tragedy could happen to an Outcast than the loss of tribal protection. An Outcast without the protection and security of his tribe is helpless and lost in the desert. If the murder is outside the tribe, a vendetta is established, and any fellow tribe member may have to pay for the crime with his own life.

Ironically, in the tradition of "Blood for Blood," if any rival family or friend takes the life of even the lowliest member of another family, that family retaliates just as fiercely. In this, it is a matter of pride and propriety. Even if a family member is a weakling, it should be a private matter for the family to resolve, not for an outsider to remedy.

If in a particular case the situation can not be resolved, the king will resolve the matter. This is not always something a secondary tribe may want. It could mean the absorbing of their very tribe into the main tribe or the loss of status (if any) within that tribe.

Blood debts can also occur over a great deal of time. If the tribe is wronged, a blood debt will be established and carried out to the very person that has wronged them or to their family or ancestors till the debt is satisfied. This was seen during the war upon Shard when the life of Ferdahl Kukalakai was taken due to the wrongs her ancestors did against the Outcasts. To some this may seem barbaric and cruel, but to the Outcasts, it is simply justice. As it stands, there is still one such debt that remains unpaid at the time of this writing. The King assured me that this person or his descendants would be taken to task for the wrongs that were committed.

Castes

Plain and simple, warriors rule over the tribe under the direction of the king. Their duties include the day to day function of the tribe, making sure everything is going smoothly. They are responsible for the training of the troops and protection of all within the tribe, including guests.

A caste may attempt to add a ranking system for their own, but even their highest falls below that of a warrior. This gives the right to speak for the caste over all others within it. But nevertheless, the speakers or superiors of the castes would answer to the warriors, who in turn answer to their Chief, who in turn answer to the king.

Family life

Outcast society can be considered conservative and family oriented. All the young are taught to do the tasks of the tribe, and they must show themselves worthy to be warriors. Once one achieves a place by skill, even a child of the highest rank, he will not become a warrior until he comes of age. He would have to earn such, or else be set in a lower caste. And there is no movement from one caste to another. So once a trader, always a trader, once a crafter always a crafter.

Most take one wife and sometimes this woman is obtained from other tribes during raids and such. But this is not to say that they do not take more than one wife if this is their wish and they can afford to do so. There is no ceremony to pronounce the marriage of an Outcast. It is said, so it is done.

The husband shows honor to the woman within her home. Contrary to popular belief, the woman does hold status in her tribe. When an Outcast does finally marry, he or she marries for life; there is no divorce system within their society. Loyalty is also directed towards the extended family and the tribe.

Other tribes that live outside the king's tribe set up their tribes using the same structures as the main tribe. Within each tribe there are tribal leaders or Chiefs that the people would answer to, and the Chiefs would answer to King Raenilar. Outcasts feel comfortable only with their close relatives, "our trusted people," and well known friends within their tribes and guests that have been proved worthy. All others are suspiciously regarded as potential enemies, even if they are treated as guests.

Women, elderly and children are under the protection of the warriors of their tribe. Depending on the caste of the women, they would do the housework and take care of the children and camp. Men and women share equal status in society, so it is not uncommon to find female warriors amongst them.

Rites of Passage

While tribes do have rites of passage that mark important stages in a person's life, the rites are secret rituals closely guarded, and I am unable to comment on the actual ritual. I was assured that when my firstborn was of age, I would witness the ritual, But in any case, once a child is of age, a ritual occurs that reflects the ways of the Outcasts.

Gifts

The custom of officially exchanging gifts between individuals of equal status is generally a show of good faith and willingness to do some short of barter, trade or form of alliance. It involves, apart from the economic value, an acknowledgment of the social positions and roles of the two parties involved, sentiments of honor and a display of generosity increasing the prestige of the giver.

A gift from a higher caste to a lower caste is an honor by itself, regardless of the gift. The greater the gift, the greater the honor the receiver feels. This is normally done when deeds of service to the tribe and king were greatly noticed. Gifts from lower castes to higher castes are generally done for various reasons. One is to show thankfulness, gratitude, and respect towards the higher caste.

An outsider who wishes to give a gift to an Outcast should take great care in doing so. These gestures could be taken as a pledge or insult, depending on the type of gift, or something else not intended by the giver. Ye will at times be asked to even explain the reason behind the gift, as it might not always be clear to an Outcast as to why ye would do such. A gift to an Outcast has great meaning, so caution should be taken when doing so.

Punishment of Crimes

While in some provinces, the punishment of a crime is lax and laughable by Outcast standards. Ye do the crime; the punishment is of death. There is no reason to keep one within the tribe that is a lawbreaker; it can only cause disturbance and lack of harmony thereafter.

Blackfire

While I can most likely give some information to this subject, I cannot give much. The tool itself is very dangerous and can only be used by those that are strong enough to control the effects. Anyone less than worthy of such would find themselves in cinders. As so quoted to me by a master of the tool of Blackfire, "Those who are weak that use it die in its fires." The magic was learned in the desert by Yhaman, and is still in use by him to this day, but was not part of their history of 600 years ago when they say they were in Shard.

The Prophecy

Under the prophecy, it was said that a great leader would be born and brings their people to the greatness they once were, return them to their homelands, and they would grow stronger and form great alliances. When Raenilar's mother was pregnant, she had visions of his life to be. Gifted by his god from birth, the King was no longer just stories handed down over the generations of the people. He was trained in the ways of a warrior and given the gifts of his god. His power grew as he gathered the tribes together and brought unity to all. Visions given by the god set the King tasks to earn his power to control and conquer as foretold by the prophecy.

The prophecy that was passed down for generations among his people will now come to pass in this child. King Raenilar took his place as the leader of the tribe at the coming of age, accepting all wanders of the desert as part of his tribe and through trials given to him by the god of his guidance, leading his people on a great journey.

King Raenilar was driven with a fierce and relentless quest to capture and hold Shard, the land that was once their home of 600 years ago. With his blood brother Yhaman at his side, the ever-faithful Koromas and even-tempered Egolan T'aiyar, they fought several battles, usually possessing overwhelming odds as their warriors and allies pushed south to Shard, till finally taking by stealth what they had once claimed. After taking the life of Ferdahl Kukalakai to fulfill the blood debt of the her ancestors, driving the Elotheans and others out, and deposing the Three, the Outcasts tried to make a new life for themselves in Shard.

Over time though, there was still something that haunted the King. His daily meditations and prayers to the very god that bestowed on him the great powers he seemed to have left him with more questions than answers. The ever-constant battles in the streets, the deaths of his people, the resistance ever ready to take the life of one of his own, took its toll on the great King.

The vision of this glorious home they had dreamed of for years, had envisioned for generations, was nothing as they expected. Over time, his visions changed, as his great god showed him his new path and his new fate.

King Raenilar received several visions from his God and after great thought, decided to return his people to the desert. It was not upcoming war that he saw, it was the bleak future for the Outcasts in the wetlands. They were not only losing the honor they once had and their edge as warriors, but they had gained nothing as promised by the prophecy. There was also a great loss that King Raenilar began to realize, something he knew he could only regain once he had returned to the desert. With this knowledge, courage and a bit of relief, he announced his departure from Shard to the desert, giving Shard back to its owners.

Fate plays a part in our lives, whether we accept this or not. The prophecy had changed over time as the hand of fate tugged at its strands. His people, Sharuul, his wife Michie and myself (newly adopted into the tribe) followed him to the new prophecy of his visions into the Velaka desert of Muspar'i.

After King Raenilar returned with his people to the desert, he left to the place of his meditation. For days he remained without food and water, till his calls to his god were finally answered. With a mighty blow, the very god that blessed him struck him down in contempt and with a great warning. He was stripped of the old prophecy tattoos, and his eyes were cleared, the a task was made clear to him with his strength and power renewed. But the rest of the story will remain with King Raenilar, as it is a more personal matter.

Raenilar in His Own Words.

Raenilar says, "And finally let me say what I did before."
Raenilar says, "In spite of what people want or hope for, we are not fading away to the rumor we once were."
Raenilar says, "We will not attack unless provoked."
Raenilar says, "We will not tolerate fools coming here looking for trouble."
Raenilar says, "They will surely find more than they want."
Raenilar says, "But we intend to establish trade and what other relations we need to survive."

Where do we go from here?

So now what? The tribe itself continues to thrive in the desert, making alliances and growing in numbers. They will respectfully trade with those that show alliance with them and allow them into the areas of their homes. While the main tribe moves constantly through the desert, a smaller tent city will welcome those who can find it -- under certain conditions. King Raenilar has not yet started trade with the Baron or signed an alliance. But a visit of my King to the Baron is coming soon, and I am hopeful that an agreeable alliance will be formed in the nearest futute. As for the other provinces, I think that at this time no alliance will be conducted, although who am I to say what the King will do?

Although history searches for truth, our knowledge of the past is always incomplete. In these writings I have tried to give my observations and opinions of the Outcasts. The ways of the Outcasts are not set in stone, of course, and I still have much to learn of them, but I hope these pages shed some light on them. History constantly changes as we learn more about the past and as we move forward in time, creating new history. While my knowledge of their past is not perfect, mayhap this guide will bring understanding to the present and to future dealings with the Outcasts.

By my hand,
Master Tiso Rhodri-Fawr, King's Wiseman of the Celendron Tribe