Thursday 31 March 2011

Some novel eating implements

Dwarvish Eating Knife - "A simple Dwarvish Eating Implement"

 Fragment # 1

 "A simple Dwarvish Eating Implement - From The Draran, home of Ok's Western Rebels

- A two movement eating meathod is employed - 1. Chop; 2.Skewer.

The other hand is left free to rest upon the axe in the belt.

They use flat slabs of wood.

These ancient rebels of the long extinct empire have not really developed much, being as xenophobicly superstitious as their forebears and completely surrounded by supposedly haunted forests of the interior of the Free Lands.  I was treated roughly, and only escaped with the aid of my anthropological knowledge of ancient Dwarvish superstitions - ie I lied through my teeth. This is the advantage of being in an isolationist enclave - They all think like each other and have no experience of thinking any other way.  This eating knife was also used in my escape. I think the Dwarve would have survived, though he may now be blind in one eye."

Elvish Eating Implements from Nanth Gaer

Fragment # 2

"Nanth Gaer, the capital of Gaer, is, of course, a sham. Its soul purpose is to provide a focal point for the diplomatic and military efforts of its neighbors. Its 'parliament' is made up of elected representatives of each of the Elvish tribes who can be bothered.

It is, however, a good sham. And to keep up the appearance of a modern sophisticated city some outrageous parodies of the etiquette of her neighbors can be observed. A good example of this is the current eating implement employed.

Most of Gaer eat using their fingers, as they have always done. Soup is avoided, and drinks are taken from fluted beakers. A normal knife is sometimes employed. In Nanth Gaer it is different - here they place little leather and silver sheaths on the ends of their fingers and employ dainty skewers in the off-hand.  This gives the illusion of great finesse, while allowing the Elves to eat food easily. Hugely complicated rules are employed in feasts dictating how and when and which one to use for each course.  Reproving and disdainful glances are shot at those Humans or Dwarves in attendance who fail in this knowledge.  They have not, of course, been informed of the latest etiquette dreamed up by the council specifically dedicated to such useful illusions of civilization. This always puts the Elves at an advantage and sets their diplomatic 'guests' on edge.

I, of course, saw through the show within an hour of setting foot in this eccentric 'capital city', but it is amazing how easily the simplistic minds of the aristocrat can be befuddled by such pompous buffoonery seemingly for months on end."

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Some rambeling notes on the Galmearan tribes of the Cochnai

This woman called herself by the trading pseudonym of "Thread Spruce" after a moderate sized spruce that produces fine black thread roots that can be used as a cord. She sat for me in her families hut by the bright light of the lace-working torches. Although they ware thick cloaks and delicate fabrics when outside, they go naked in the warmth of a hut or temple. She is from Cimbowli in the Cochnai, a strip of mountain and coniferous forest that borders the Frayan bog.  The Kreyicians would say she is from one of the 'Civilized Tribes', so called because they live in permanent dwellings, engage in trade and cultivate the summer soils.
"The so called 'civilized tribes' of the Cochnai engage in exquisite crafts.  Gathering the bog-cotton from the western marshes of the Frayan they spin fine cotton threads and knot them into delicate lace using bobbins of polished ivory and pins made of stiff ridge bristles from a local variety of hairy pig. They also make tallow, resin and skin candle lamps, by whose soft light they spend the long winter nights creating lace.

They trade in the north in the summer with the sea-elves and to the south with the few Moryan (gypsy) tribes who venture that way. 

Stip of Cochnai lace
The patterns on the lace are all deeply spirit based - but this is not known my the humans and elves who end up wearing it far away.  To the foreign wearer it is merely swirls, leaves, flowers and animals."

[Here Faadon had attached a number of samples of the lace, but unfortunately for us he seems to have later un-attached them, presumably to ware or give away. Thus we are left only with a few simple remnants to illustrate this craft.]

"The Galmearans of the Cochnai call this trade lace "seed spirits", and trade them with the intention that the appreciation of nature / spirits will be stimulated by those that ware it. In some ways it works.  In the Kreyic border regions where much of it ends up the people believe it is woven by the faeries, and those wearing it must respect the forces of nature.  It has its own quiet cult among the peasants.

When the lace reaches Kreyic it is in the hands of the Moryan (gypsies). The Moryan stick to the border regions as the cultural hegemony is less restrictive here. They themselves have become symbolic of a free society amongst those who are involved in the periodic peasant rebellions and surf uprisings of the territories. As their home is often the green-wood they have become in Kreyician border folklore as equivalent of "the Wild" - a term used to promote a sort of primitivism and an ideal of natural pureness. Given the poverty imposed by land ownership on these oppressed people it is not surprising. The Moryan are sen in direct contrast with the "Dirty Civilization" of the city and castle based inner counties of central Kreyic. 

Some Cochnai lace from the hem of a Kreyician peasants skirt. Unfortunately this old and re-used scrap was acquired from the gallows after a peasant uprising. Its owner was a young woman whose first child had died from malnutrition.  After birthing a second she and her husband had then retreated into the royal hunting forests and built an illegal home where there would be no tax. During this rebellion they where found, and in their home where three wounded rebels she was treating. All the adults where hung, and the boy taken by the kings knights to train to be a man-at-arms or bailiff. I will not say how it was achieved, but that child is now living peacefully with the Moryan in a distant land.

The lace that the Moryan are trading thus became a small token of this rebellion - it was, after all, how many of the Moryan where clad. Surfs and peasants thus adorned themselves in the rich lace and tassels whenever they had any surplice to spend.

Some finer decorated cloth - 'winter plants'
Of course it did occasionally leak up the social hierarchy, but like all aristocratic fashions it quickly faded.  Lower down it persists, and has done for many hundreds of years, the individual animal / leaf / energy symbolism of its creators lost and consumed by a struggle for freedom.  It becomes a symbol for natural non-centralized, non-hierarchical society. In this way the Cochnai creators achieved, partially, their ideas of "seed spirits".

The only major difficulty for the Cochnai Galmearans, if they knew the whole story, was that it also promotes wide spread illegal farming and hunting, which from a balanced natural point of view can be far more destructive than the wild chaises the aristocracy maintain for their personal pleasure.

The people of the Cochnai also make delicate tassels and intricate wood inlays. They create big carvings of deities, but these are not traded. they are "mature spirits".

They farm small areas during the summer for plant food and they milk the semi-domesticated hairy pigs. They live in sedentary villages and maintain a network of pathways.

Cross-section of a temple building.

Front view of a temple building
Their form of nature worship is the most dogmatic and least individualistic of the Galmearan tribes, and involves temples (large hall with a host of carved and dressed deities at one end. They have no priests, but for three moons a year everyone dedicates themselves to worship. In summer it is to the Sun, using trance and fasting, and involves invoking fey spirits. In winter it is a dedication to the Earth, involving meditation. In either spring or autumn, depending on the particular town, it is dedicated to celebrating Plant and Animal life. This involves feasts, social festivals and energetic ceremonies. 

Celebration of Water was also carried out, but how or when or by whom was not disclosed to me, though my wife gave me an infuriatingly knowing look (which she then denied) when I told her of my frustrations in discovering it.  I can only conclude that they told her something of it freely enough, and this is because she is female."

Saturday 12 March 2011

Dwarvish Pickles and other culinary adventures

Fragment # 1

"Dwarvish pickles and Chutneys are second to none.  I would heartily recommend the combination of Nazouralian Oat Plates, mature cave-cured mouflon cheese and a good ten year old Dwarvish chutney, washed down with some heather ail or de-fortified Fjoar. A rich mountain feast!

However, avoid shank of trilobite marinaded in vintage algal ferment - the must stink clings to the back of the tongue for a good half-moon. The trilobite 'globes' in earth-ball vinegar are a different mater entirely, and recommended in moderation."

Fragment # 2

Dwarvish bowls and spoon.

"Dwarvish Bowls

The two bowls pictured are from Garthvanittborgoch. Pot # 1 is a typical eating bowl, I am told identical to ones used in the lower countries.  The shape owes its existence to the Dwarvish preference for low things.  This bowl will have more of the lower part of a soup, and is thus considered to lend the food a higher quality, without letting it go cold.  The spoons go with a specific bowl to which they are shaped. This is annoying to the outsider, who wishes they would instead concentrate on shaping spoons to the mouth...

Pot # 2 is a traveling pot, spherical only to keep the heat. The lid is made from a bladder (unspecified) treated with chemicals and then lashed to a mettle collar at the bottom of the pot this renders it waterproof, allowing it to be chucked into the pack with out consideration of leakage.  Chutney pots are of a similar design, though are conical rather than spherical..."

Fragment # 3

"Dwarvish washing up consists of placing the dirty vessels and cutlery into a soupy chemical bath, followed by a pure water rinse - no scrubbing, but very thick gloves."

Tuesday 1 March 2011

Map of the Galmearan freelands, detailing the tribes as defined by the Kreyicians

"Freelands map"

"This dreadful map is one I copied at Dyn Cwmroch in Kreyic, on the eve of invasion, whilst negotiating and inebriating a Kreyic lord.  It has been compiled by both the military magicians of Kreyic using remote sensing and by hostile spies on the ground. as such the tribal divisions are questionable, being based on visual cues and military interactions only.  It is, however horrifyingly accurate given these limitations.  I fear for the future of the Galmearans even more than I did.

It shows the extent to which semi-peaceful co-opting of land by Kreyic in the south has already occurred. Squared town icons are non-Galmearan, doubly squared if walled. Galmearan bases are dots if un-walled, dots with circles if walled and dots with tents if only seasonally occupied. Three dots indicate a ruin.  Only land marked with vegetation or mountains is that considered by her neighbors to be unclaimed by an official nation."

Tribes as defined by Kreyic and their location

The Naya Towwan Mountains (north to south)

The Water Chariot Tribes
(These island dwelling tribes where named after their use of dolphin pulled hide boats.  They interact closely with dolphins in much the same way other Galmearans interact with deer. Somehow, despite the seasonally frozen waters they posses the ability to swim amongst the pack ice. They are a distinct sub-race of Galmearan, the same as the Whale Singer Tribes.)

The Mauljajodd Tribes
(These tribes share ancestry both of the Galmearan Water tribes and Dwarven rebels who fled the Dwarvish Empire over 1000 years ago.  They are the only people I know of to have this interesting mix of ancestry.  They live in shallow natural caves and are astoundingly hardy, especially by Galmearan standards. Most Dwarves and many Galmearans think of them as mystics and visit their oracles. The name derives from the Dwarvish surface Kroltz "Maul Jaðod" meaning "Death Bay")

The Whale Singer Tribes
(These tribes are true mystics of the element of water, from an ancient ancestry that can be traced back across all the migrations of the Galmearan people.  They sing to Whales, including to an ancient Mage in the body of a grey whale who forwent the Magish transition to human form, preferring to stick to that of the larger water realm.)
- The Temple of the Water
(This temple is the latest incarnation of this place, a truly Galmearan affair, woven into the natural fabric of the coast of its island.  Galmearan priest/esses are often seen floating out at sea.  There is also an occasional colony of Mer-people, that rarest of the Magish races, who visit as part of their seasonal migrations.)

The Tribes of Centaurs
(Little is known about these nomadic tribes.  Are they truly a tribe of Galmearan-esk Deer-Centaurs, as the Dwarvish mercenaries reported to Kreyic, or was it a trick of the light?)

The Griffin Riding Tribes
(There are certainly Nobel Griffins breeding here, big enough to bare aloft Galmearans.  They have been reported doing this by Dwarvish spies, but how wide-spread this practice is is unknown. This area is one of very few on the globe where the Nobel Griffin lives.)
- Abooiana
(Being primarily fish eaters the colony of Nobel Griffins and Galmearans nest here together by a large lake, high up in nest dwellings constructed on conifers growing out of cliff faces with creeper walk ropes interconnecting them.)
- Biyiyihya
(This appears to be a smaller, even less accessible version of Abooiana.)

The Cursed Tribes
(So named after their apparent ability to resist all Dwarvish advancement into the mountains. It is known that any undertaking by the Dwarves of the nearby Nordvall goes unaccountably wrong in this area, especially after Galmearans of the Cursed Tribes have been spotted.  Rumors abound that the mountain range is home of that true native life-form of the earth, the living mountains, and inexplicably on this occasion their silicon hive-minds have sided with the Galmearans against the Dwarvish city-states of the Nordvall, Ceamol and Kahn. Certainly the area was once Dwarvish, and the remnants of their ancient empire can still be seen in places - but when the very rock has turned against you no Dwarve can dwell...  It is truly a cursed land.  

The Cursed Tribes have a strong tradition of walking - a long walk is thought to be able to cure all ailments of the mind, and most of the body.  They even have medical practitioners called 'Walkers' who will walk with the afflicted.  The last part of any cure, the walk home or back to the tribe, is always conducted alone - the 'Walker' always takes a separate path.)
- Shard
(A well fortified natural pillar of rock, with shallow caves peppering its flanks like woodworm holes. There are lots of goats about.)
- Keld
(An ancient imperial administrative surface fort used to wage terror and thus control the surface farms and 'wood mines' in the time of the empire.  The upper levels of Keld now serve the Galmearan shamans and warriors of the Cursed Tribes.  They use the fort as a meeting place to learn the ways of their tribes.  Keld still stands on the path of a long imperial tunnel through the mountain range, though the maps of how to use it safely are usually thought to have been long lost.  There is, however, a rumor that Ok's western rebels of the mountain called "the Draran" in The Raheeni still retain this knowledge. The network of surface passes in the mountains around Keld are still maintained by the 'Walkers', albeit in a much narrower and less even form than previously. Many Dwarvish would-be raiders and salvagers have met their deaths in landslides trying to use these apparently sure paths.  In local Dwarvish folklore Keld is the home of Make - the goat daemon of mine collapse.) 

Frayan (north to south)

The Witch Tribes 
(Most of the reports from this area talked of the tribes doing inexplicable things. Since they where unexplainable the spies deduced it must be linked to religious activity of some sort, and as they where known not to have a state or capital city or any other administrative paraphernalia loved by priests they where therefore deemed to be practitioners of witchcraft.  And several of the spies did appear to become possessed and absconded to the other side.)
- The Temple of Fire
(Built in and around an active volcano in a marshland prone to summer fires and random explosive gas events the pilgrims who come here to learn of this element go naked except for a dark paint made of animal fat and soot. They usually have no hair.)

The Wild Tribes 
(This fearsome group of nomads ware oiled skins in winter and moss leg wrappings in winter and have feathers in their hair.  Some have been observed riding giant bog deer - an exceptionally rare species, though most ride elk.  They hunt with otters and are well versed in bow-craft and the use of bolas and the sling. When in combat they come clad in a seemingly impenetrable armor.  How it is manufactured is unknown - but it appears magically strong and light, and slightly flexible.  An area best avoided by the maliciously motivated.)

The Whispering Grass Tribes
(This apparently peaceable group of families living on the long-grassed mosaic of lakes and islands that are the Frayan marshlands dress head to foot in fawn coloured leather. They have short curly hair (unusually for the Galmearans) and lead a seasonal life of secrecy hunting wild water fowl and fish.  They appear to hibernate through the winter in grass globes constructed just before the first snowfall.  In the summer they dwell in small conical tents)  
- Moot
(This is a summer meeting place, by a vast goose colony, where the abundance of eggs and white meat allow a festival to occur. On one occasion the Kreyician spies did observe it being broken up by a marauding party of bears.  Instead of fighting them or scaring them off the people simply took to the water in skin boats and waited until the bears went, some two days later.  The festivities where then resumed.)

The Daemon Tribes
(Only one Kreyician spy returned from this area, and he was mad.)
- Inishamayan
(Amongst his incoherent babalings the spy mentioned dances carried out on this island. To quote him "There they hungry are, WATCH OUT! Dancing like the cranes, their beaks - oh their beaks - They called the island Inishamayan I tell you!  Inishamayan - don't go near if you value you pizzle! AND WATCH FOR THE EYES!!  Oh the eyes!  Tall as houses. Oh the eyes... Slender they are, red and black and white and the colour of flesh...  All up and down and no sideways, like lines of rain in the grass. That daemon island, those dancers, KEEP AWAY, cant keep away, stay BACK, I CANT!! ohhh ohhh...  Breasts like eggshell, nipples like flame. OH THE EYES!!!  Watch for the eyes my friend - the cranes will eat them as you stare like onions - and your lolling leching tongue - peck peck peck PECK!!! AGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  I swam away I swam away I was hungry I wanted the bulrush roots so I swam but the burning beaks followed me they stilted followering yab yab ligaaaa!....
Is that a duck pie?  Yum.")

The Clay-god Tribes
("These tribes appear to worship clay idols that they build around the marsh.  They are usually formless and hollow, fired from the inside without expertise. The clever among them occasionally build small temples around the mightiest of them, though most are allowed to weather outside back to the soil. They constantly seem to be in search of new gods as the ones they have do not appear satisfactory.  They are thus considered a particularly unintelligent and stupidly focused set of tribes. simple military tactics should deal with them swiftly" - Kreyician spy report. I happen to know from personal experience that these "clay-gods" are in fact chimneys from winter hibernation huts.  Structurally they only last one season, so the huts are ceremonially burnt and the crumbling chimneys are abandoned each year, when a new area with fresh driftwood fuel is moved to in the subsequent winter.  They are in fact more intelligent than most Galmearans in their management of resources.  Almost none die in winter.  Their Gods are not their chimneys (they are animists, so their chimneys do have spirits) instead being part of the most common Galmearan pantheon, that with the family of Earth, Sun, Water, Greenwood and Fire at its head.)


The Civilized Tribes
- Nanda
- Cimbowli
- Ilmolio
- Aataifohegil
- A'Eatabooa
- Pirooahie
- Bwenan I'Sowin

Shenambi Forest (north to south)

The Fish Eater Tribes
- Burilis

The Red Axe Tribes
- Naratacea

The Cloud Weaver Tribes

Estoadai Grasses

The Blue Axe Tribes
- Eianae
- Olkie

The Raheeni (The Inertia)

The Tented Tribes
- Shelaada

The Noble Tribes
- Lismad
- Lowea

The Sluttish Tribes
- MaBrae Staa

(Ok's Western Rebles - isolated Dwarvish Hive
- The Draran)

The Vay Mountains (north to south)

The Tall Tribes 

The Dark Path Tribes
- Thiow Thiow
- Chiooriss

The Canny Tribes
- Agwan
- Deer Avon

The Wild Wood

The Deep Tribes
- Greenwood Temple

The Tribes of Death

The Higher Grasses (north to south)

Nomadic Tribes

The Daemon Music Tribes
- Uradeur
- Earth Temple / Temple of the Deep Earth
- The Colmarsh
- Dihrlarm

Mwnnwdd Abeata Hills 

The Weapon-maker Tribes
- Old Red
- Old Black

The Middle Grasses

The Incense Tribes

The Eastern Forests

(Blackbeard's Eastern Rebles
- Urikjolt

The Featherheads
- Tamdrey


No permanent tribes
- Teash Traiding Camp

Shi Hills

The Tribes of the Cities of the Skies 
- Minx

The Dark Woods

The Leafbright Tribes
- Gaeib

Marrin Hills (east to west)

Tribes of Spears 
- Felt
Shining Tribes

Drisghol Hills (east to west)

The Many Coloured Tribes
- Grange Mass
Man-mother Tribes

Lliddydram Woods

The Invisible Tribes
- Ambara

Vayrean Hills

The Weak Tribes
Deep Oak (north to south)

The Hiding Ones
- Moss 

The Tribes of Many Arrows

The Tree-hut Tribes
- Ameahga
- The Last House

The Lower Grasses

Ceolarai Forest (north to south)

Gypsy Tribes

Bandit Tribes
- Ealosai

The Faceless Tribes

The Cortez Mountains

The Far Away Tribes

Some scetches and notes on the Difani, or 'Tall Tribes', of the Galmearans

"Portrait of Shinka of the Difani"
"Shinka of the Difani on New Defences"

 Fragment #1

"Shinka of the Difani on New Defences
From what the Humans call "The Tall Tribes"

- Short hair from cutting to weave into fabrics - energetic signature of artist - cut every 9 years. Peoples age sets are defined by this.

"Quilted panel -  dyed fine woven rabbit wool."
Quilted panel

(Dyed fine woven rabbit wool)

[anti-clockwise from top left]

* Black Berry (belly-button)

* Red Berry

* Pink-white shell

* Representing Deer

* Galmearan
(Dark-green nettle cord knots)

* Black/brown

* Dark brown

* Light green

* Light brown

* Light brown-green

* Light green

* Light green / dark yellow

*Dark yellow"

"A Difani Blade" - an Eashay

 Fragment # 2

"A Difani warrior always keeps a hand on their weapon - partly this allows rapid drawing, partly it serves as a reminder of their role, and partly it is because being unsheathed they would otherwise stab your legs when you ran or sat down...

The Difani do not use scabbards as such, instead resorting to platted string. Great skill is needed to draw the blade smoothly. This ensures both that no-one carries a blade without good training and also it makes it almost imposable to draw someone elses blade.

Ever economical and resourceful, the people of Defani have developed their weaponry from their tools.

This blade, called an Eashay, is very close in design to the tool they use to prune and coppice the hazel and a small but well thorned tree, local to the area, called naois. Naois buds are gathered, dried and powdered to be snorted like snuff. This aids concentration when weaving.

The original tool has a lighter handle and no blade other than the saw.

The steel used is Dwarvish, and thus of the highest quality. The people of Diffani trade woven cloth and embroideries for their imports.

Imports include the aforementioned Dwarvish steel, as well as some Dwarvish rock powders used to colour and fix their bright cloths.  They also trade with other Galmearan tribes for forest colours and for some of the raw wools they then spin and weave. Noticeable among these are rabbit wool and deer fawn under-wool, as well as certain dried lichens.  They also use bog-cotton and other grass-stem fibers that are gathered originally by the bog-hoppers of Llanwern as well as those Galmearans in the "Frayan" marshes to the north.  Their must be an extensive inter-tribe network across the Freelands that bring the goods to the mountains.  Of course no coin would be used, being Galmearans, so all trade would be barter based. 

One day I will follow the bog-cotton from Teash trading camp just over the Llanwern border, and see where I end up, and if I survive the wild tribes and the death tribes the Human spies seem to fear so much..."


Fragment # 3


"Naois Flower - drawn with experimenal
pallet - not a success."
Naois grows naturally as a single maiden, up to 6 legs (24 hands) tall - this is roughly 18 feet using the common measurment. However, as the flowers (and their harvestably mind-focusing buds) grow only in carnivorous lesions on the third-year wood the Galmearans of Difani first coppice the tree every five years for four consecutive seasons, until an ideal of 30-40 stems are shooting from the base. These are then pollarded at roughly three hands. Each year the stupor inducing thorns are meticulously pruned off with great care."

Today I Rage

I Hate Humans

Fragment #1:

"I Hate Humans.

I will make the sea boil, the hull hiss and the sailcloth crack.

Today I Rage"

Fragment # 2:

"Imp in the bilges eating my spare halyard.  I trapped it in a jelly-pan. Next self-important human aristocrat donkey-bothered filcher who tries to nick some thithe off me gets an imp in their garderobe!"

[There is no way to tell what sent Faadon into this mood - this fragment is a loose leaf unconnected to any other. It may be that t he picture is an actual depiction of the Faerie Realm, but Faadon was quite open with the fact that he never managed to master much of the shamanism or magic craft that would have allowed his to travel easily to there. Instead it could simply be an expression of his feelings.  He is not known for his steady mood when dealing with officialdom, as the second fragment shows.]