The Holden Stone

Reflections of a Fantasy Writer

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THE HUMANS

The Dominion: Keepers and Adventurers

 

When the humans arrived on Colonium in the year of descent 1 YD aboard the Dominion ship, most quickly spread out across the land to farm and colonize it, and within 3 to 4 generations they forgot they had ever lived elsewhere.   But one group never forgot, and never left the ship, hoping still to keep its machineries working in case someday the people from their lost civilization among the stars would hear their ancient distress calls and come find them.   Over the long centuries since, this small group has lost much of its former knowledge of how the machines work, and even of what they once were capable of doing; but there is still much to marvel at aboard the old ship.  The keepers keep its secrets secure even though there few who remain in the outer world who remember that the Dominion is more than just an ancient black tower standing in the oldest poorest sector of Durinbyrne.  Among those few are the kings and shaman lords who are always welcome among the keepers if they can be trusted to keep their society hidden and their "tower" from being sold or vandalized.   In return, the young men and women of the Dominion who venture into the outer world to explore and mine it for needed crystals and supplies have often become spies and messengers for the kings and shaman lords.

 

House of Durin:

The kings and the nine great houses of the high lords of the Dominion descended from the officers of the Dominion ship.   While most humans from the stranded ship became farmers and artisans and later merchants to survive and build a new world on Colonium, Durin, captain of the ship and his officers kept their power, first as governors, then in 10 YD, as kings and feudal lords.  Refer to the family tree of the kings and shaman lords of the Dominion Valley recorded by Queen Viona in the year 982 YD. 

Lords of the Guard and the guardsmen of The Barn

The Guard in the Dominion valley is organized into 3 divisions: Battle Guard, Honor Guard, and Palace Guard.   It is tradition for a scion of a high lord to serve 7 years as a Lord of the Honor Guard, at least 2 of which he must serve in the field as commander of a unit of 22 regular guardsmen plus a captain and a hunter of his choice.   The High Lord of the Honor Guard, often a Prince of the Dominion, is the leader of all the Guard and reports to the Lords of the Council. 

The long barracks for the Guard inside the old citywalls of Durinbyrne have for centuries been nicknamed the Barn.  The crowded rooms on its lower floors are quite often compared to cattle stalls, both in size and in their degree of cleanliness.  Its two top floors, well-lit and much better appointed, are reserved for the offices and apartments of the Honor Guard, although the lords of the Guard rarely spend more than an hour or two there a day.

Guardsmen in Norgondy report to generals and officials most of whom have advanced through the ranks of the common guardsmen.   A general is appointed by and reports directly to the king.  His rank is not one that a noble son can inherit through bloodline alone.

 Friends of the Coward

In the Dominion, Friends of the Coward are the defenders and advocates of either those accused of misdeeds by the courts or of those in disputes with a neighbor.   A Friend can be hired to speak for a citizen before a judge, sometimes at a cost that far exceeds the penalty for the crime in order to clear his name and family honor.  

The High Lord of the Friends of the Coward, appointed by the Council of High Lords, is often a position of honor only.  No Lord Friend of the Coward is expected to have to argue for the benefit of anyone not born of the nobility.  Notable exceptions include Lord Dannon who often took the sides of peasants, farmers, merchants, or women, as well as representing the wealthy.   Legend has said that Lord Dannon was indeed the real Friend of the Coward mentioned in the ancient Legend of the Coward from which the title of the defenders was derived.   [see The Chrysaliad]

Spring Tree dance around a spring tree with craft signs of the active guilds in a Capsen village

 

Merchants and Guildsmen 

 

Guilds are active in almost every town and city of the Dominion and Norgondy.    Few merchants, tradesmen or craftsmen work independently of a guild and its by-laws.

 

Pictured at right are craft guild signs hung from a spring tree pole commonly erected in Capsen villages.

 

House of Korin

State-supported orphanages inside the old citywalls of Durinbyrne.   Several of the best houses also raise bastard children of wealthy lords and merchants.  In exchange for great donations, the mur agrees to keep the background of the child quiet.   These children have been known to escape the bounds of the Korin in later life.   True boys of the street, orphans with no known parentage, have little chance of making a better life for themselves when they grow up.   One famous exception was Sunarin, a hunter in the Honor Guard.  (see The Chrysaliad.)

 

Miners

Explorers from the Dominion started mining for various crystals needed for keeping the starship's engines running and for sending stones used for communication within the first few weeks of landing on Colonium.   Most deposits of crystals and sending stones were mined out within the first three centuries.   Only the rare lighting stone fosfar is still being found in the mountains of Norgondy and the Dominion.  

a sending stone, when cut and set can be used to concentrate and direct telepathic messagesRich deposits of silver, gold, copper, tin, iron and cobalt among other minerals and gemstones have made common miners and their overlords a wealthy and powerful segment of the population since the year 74 YD when the first diamond mine of the Lodestock  Enterprise was registered. 

A miner named Derlin and his followers figured prominently in the war of the year 200YD that led to the expulsion of the Norgons to Norgondy.    (see The Cassandra Stone

 Pictured at left, a sending stone, the blue-green agate that when cut and set resonates and concentrates mental images and thoughts.  Such stones were commonly worn on wristbands by travelers aboard the Dominion.   Sending stones found on Colonium were mined out quickly within the first few centuries of human habitation.  

 

 

Norgons and Narvanians

It's a widely held belief that the name of the people, the Norgons, and of the country/continent, Norgondy, came from a slurring of the words  "the north gones," ie, those who have gone North.   It is true that the majority of the early Norgons were descendents of refugees from the Great Devastation years following the meteor strikes of the year 200 YD that ended the first of the wars between the humans and the dolmen.   Part of the settlement at the time stipulated that those humans most responsible for the war against the dolmen would be exiled to the northern continent beyond the desolation of the midlands.   However no historian today has found proof that those exiles were called the north gones, or norgons, before a 100 years after their resettlement in the northern continent.   Beder's book The History of the World written in the year 307  YD, is the first written record of the name Norgondy.  

Narvan is a duchy in southeast corner of Norgondy which at various times has been an independent country.   The Navarns today maintain their spirit of adventure and independence as intrepid sailors and wealthy merchants.   Even when Norgondy has been at war with the men of the Dominion, traders from Narvan have been welcomed at both Norgon and Dominion ports.    Norgons, on the other hand, have acquired a reputation for never sailing out of sight of their own coasts of Norgondy.    They claim a sea god in the shape of a giant face of a beheaded king awaits any Norgon who attempts to sail farther.    (See Singer of Norgondy for the origin of this myth.)

Capsen Tellerwomen

The Capsens are various tribes of caravanning craftsmen, artisans, and sheep, goat and horse herders.   Capsen tellerwomen and silkdancers, often called witchwomen by outsiders, have been known to tell fortunes that many believe will come true.   A major tribe of Capsens living in Norgondy may indeed have a gift of clairvoyancy, as it is believed that Alred, the great leader who led them into Norgondy from out of the warlands of the Midlands in the year 400 YD,  was a Dolman prince who had fallen in love with a Capsen dancer.   If true, his descendents, the most famed of all tellerwomen -- and the most infamous of all witchwomen -- may have inherited some of his powers.

Pictured at left, a cast iron model of a Capsen hutwagon, by Crel, circa 601 YD 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morris shepherds and stargazers

The Morris build their villages high on the cliffs of the eastern side of the Norgol Ridge.  Their cliff dwellings are often centuries-old apartments built on top of each other filling the many caves near the top of the sandstone ridge.   On the terraces below, they grow corn and raise flocks of sheep.   The Morris shepherds sail down to their terraced pastures using kite wings they attach to their shoulders.   Rope ladders used for ascent back to the village are lowered during the day, and rolled up and stored at night or during raids from enemy villages.

Every three to five Morris villages sponsor a stargazer.   The stargazer lives as a holy hermit in a cave whose doors and ceilings have been painted to imitate the night sky above Norgondy.   The Morris often consult the stargazer for astrological predictions, the most exalted of which are made during a meteor shower.   Questions of love or war or success or death can be answered by watching which constellations the meteor originates in and passes through. 

Eller Islander Village Fathers: The Dream Walkers 

Eller Islanders believe they're brothers of the whale.   Their creation myth tells them that a whale swimming in the ocean was the first dream of the Whale of the World, and men, the second dreamed.   That is why their islands are shaped like whale backs.  Mainlanders, not fortunate enough to live on a whale back, have forgotten their origin and no longer know "the truths"  that any Islander man older than seven has learned.   

Islander women are not descended from the whale, but instead from geese, they believe.  The women, their daughters, and their sons younger than seven, are the sisters of the moon which they call the goose's egg.    Women are not allowed to know the mysteries of the whale dream nor any rites associated with passing the soul of the whale down to the sons of men.   However the women own all the property in a village, and are famous the world over for their fine woven goods and needlework.    Most women and children live and work in the long house in the center of the village, although some young wives consent to spend evenings at their husband's hearth, and some maintain cabins on their flax fields during spring and summer growing seasons.   It is the women who deal with all mainland traders.

Most Islander men are fishermen.   In small reed coracles, they lay baskettraps for salmon in inland rivers and along the coasts.   For deep sea fishing they venture out for weeks at a time in shallow bottom squared-nose sailing ships.   When they die, they return the shells of their body and their ships back out to sea where their spirits can be swallowed back into the dream of Brother Whale.

Eller Islanders have one of the most extreme coming of age ceremonies for becoming a man of the village.   During the week-long rites, boys of the village who have reached 7 years are initiated into the secret mysteries of their clan.   They must survive being bitten by a sea snake and be willing to quickly suck the poison out of their yearmate's arm to help their "brother" survive too.   Those that do survive the testing, are taken to the dreaming hut where the village father walks into a drug-induced dream to see the boy's future as a true man of the village.    If the boy dreams of  fishing or smithing as his father did, he has inherited his father soul and will walk in his path.   If the boy does not dream of following in his father's path, he may likely be disowned by the village, with his name and memory struck from all village records, and be sent off to wander the world soulless.

It is the duty of the Village Father to implant his soul throughout all the households of his village, strengthening the chances of all future sons born of a woman to become true brothers of the whale.   Many a young woman before she is marriageable has a young son by the Village Father.   It is a custom that many women from other cultures of Colonium have a hard time understanding, and is perhaps one of the major reasons that mainlanders consider the Eller Island culture so primitive and backwards. 

It is suspected that some of the Eller Island Village Fathers, those with the strongest powers to enter dreams and do other small magics, might have some lakemen (dolman) blood in them.

Orliand Island Ice Shepherds

The Orliand Islands along the far northern shores of Norgondy border islands that are covered in ice year round.   The Ice Shepherds corral the growlers and bergs that calve off the ice shelves in sturdy ships, keeping the shipping lanes further south free of the dangerous bergs.   The Ice Shepherds also carve the ice into blocks and sell them to merchants to deliver to chefs of the wealthy lords and great cities in Norgondy and, rarely, farther south in the Dominion, for the making of ice confections and for the keeping of meats during the hotter months.    The Ice shepherds are also noted carvers of ice sculptures.   They have beliefs and village life similar to those of the Eller Islanders.

Westers

Clan members living in the semi-arid hills in the southwestern province of The Dominion.   Highly superstitious people with a back-country culture and a heavy accent.   Westers rarely travel a day's walk away from the village of their birth.   Their fear of being caught outside at night is reported to be more a fear of being seen by the moon.   A baby born on the night of the full moon will be possessed by the demon and will bring destruction upon the village of its birth, unless the babe and its mother survive being exposed to the elements on a high stone hill for a fortnight after its birth.

The Westers

Wester Badlands

Priests and their Gods

Bearmen