The Trade Tongue

The Trade Tongue is the main lingua franca in the Lands Under the Sun and the language in which you are reading this article.

The Trade Tongue is the language of Broadland on the west coast of the Sunrise Lands and shares a common history with the language of Greatvale, though the Trade Tongue has been influenced by a number of languages of both close and distant relation and its vocabulary and grammar reflect this.  The people of Greatvale can understand the Trade Tongue with some effort, while the peoples of Broadland find Greavalish overly complex and archaic. The Trade Tongue is of a different stock altogether from the Elder Tongue, though it often incorporates words from that language.

Broadland speech, which continues to be known in that country as Brallanish, became the speech of the mercantile fleets that traveled up and down the western coast of the Sunrise Lands as Broadland merchant fleets became the trade conduit for goods from surrounding nations.  Even after those fleets surrendered market dominance to the fleets of Greatvale, the Broadland tongue continued to be used among the ports of the west coast and even the Chain Islands.  The Trade Tongue over time became the dominant language of merchant fleets, due to the fact that most merchant fleets drew sailors from different lands and it became a convenient common tongue. As it became the dominant tongue of merchant fleets, soon it was the dominant tongue used by those engaged in trade among the ports of the world.  From there, it became the language of those who sought to benefit from trade, investments in trade, or other areas of commerce. It is a rare thing to travel to any port in the Lands Under the Sun and not to hear the Trade Tongue spoken.

Aelfwine Theodwita

On the 4th day of Windmath (4 Othalul) 1174 A.C., Hendryck and Æthelhilde of Fiscerehæfen welcomed their first born son, whom they named Aelfwine, after Æthelhilde’s grandfather, a renown sea captain in that same port city of Fiscerehæfen.

From a young age, Aelfwine demonstrated considerable intellectual acuity and his teachers in the city’s Leorninghus noted that he was an avid reader and consumer of stories. His parents, however, saw him entering the family business: a fleet of merchant ships engaged in trade along the west coast of the Sunrise Lands, from Carmadh down to Cape Verunnu in the south.  Fortunately for Aelfwine, the Boroughmoot of Fiscerehæfen mandated a minimum of eight years of schooling for the children of the city. And so, while his parents would have happily placed him aboard ship as a midshipman at the age of nine, Aelfwine was required by law to remain in school for another four years.

Aelfwine was seen as a serious child, rarely smiling but nevertheless demonstrating a biting wit.  It was said that his wit was so dry even as a child that his comments in response to his classmates’ taunts would send his teachers into fits of laughter and leave his fellow classmates dumbfounded.  Wyverun Larsmith, his teacher at the Leorninghus, told a story of a day when a larger boy, Brand, was picking on Aelfwine. After the older boy had finished his rather pedestrian insults, Aelfwine simply said, “Were the bliss your family must feel on account of your collective ignorance something we could bottle, we’d never have to trade with Carmadh for poppies again.”

Aelfwine struggled with mathematics and the practical sciences, but excelled in history and lore and was said to be able to recite the entire list of Kings and Queens of the Old Kingdom from memory.  Once, when challenged to do it by a fellow student who did not believe he could do it, he not only recited the complete list of monarchs, but followed with a complete list of all the rædgivers of the Folkdeed in chronological order.

After his eight years of compulsory education, Aelfwine’s parents removed him from school and put him to work in the family shipping trade.  Aelfwine worked well but not consistently; he was easily distracted, especially when working on something mundane.  Whenever he was missing from where he was supposed to be he could invariably be found on the docks, talking with the mariners who’d come in from all around the world, asking them to share stories of their lands.  He had a fantastic memory and voraciously consumed all the stories he heard, including the folklore and tall tales.  He also demonstrated an aptitude for languages, picking up some of the Carmadhi, Trade Tongue, and Vulgar Thuva-Tha that he heard being used.

At the age of fifteen, Aelfwine was sent on his first sea voyage on a trading mission along the northwest coast of the Sunrise Lands past Carmadh and the Vardani peninsula.  It there he first encountered mariners from the Chain Islands who told even more fantastic tales of the peoples of the Sunset Lands. By this time, Aelfwine had perfected a method that would serve him well the rest of his life: he could draw out tremendous amounts of information from people by engaging in what would otherwise seem to be casual conversation.  It would be on this trip that he would discover his calling: he wished to chronicle the history of the peoples of the world of Kadamu-nur-Shadju-a.

Returning to Fiscerehæfen, he made his wishes known to his parents who did not support his desire to return to school and insisted he remain with the fleet.  He approached Wyveryn Larsmith, his former teacher, and arranged to meet with her by night to continue his studies when possible.  At one point, his father became aware that he was sneaking out at night, but assuming that his son was finally behaving like a normal young man, he ignored it and even made an effort to look the other way.

When Aelfwine reached seventeen years of age, he was ritually disinherited by his parents, who expected him to continue with the merchant fleet in order to make a living.  But Larsmith had been more than tutor to Aelfwine, she had been his advocate and managed to procure a grant from the prestigious Stærwritere Academy in Folkhame to continue his studies there.  Aelfwine’s decision to enter the academy rather than continue in the merchant fleet was not taken well by his parents. As part concession to his parents and part need for funds for books, he continued to work the summers aboard ship, honing his skills at gathering lore while picking up new languages.

After six years of study, Aelfwine was granted the status of Theodwita or “historian” by Stærwritere Academy and was selected by the Gaderung of Fiscerehæfen to serve as official historian for the city.  Aelfwine was somewhat unorthodox in his style in that he spent far less time over dusty old tomes than his colleagues and far more time gathering lore from ordinary workers.  He continued to make sea voyages a regular part of his work, traveling up and down the coast and even along the Chain Islands gathering lore as he traveled.  He would often remark, “One fishwife will spin a tale of fancy that is mocked by even a few words of scroll, but twenty fishwives from twenty different realms offer a shared insight that shames the most learned scribe.” He was of the belief that all the peoples of the world had preserved fragments of the Elder Lore and that only by listening to the stories passed down among the peoples of the Lands Under the Sun could one hope to reconstruct the shared history of humanity.

His theories were controversial and he was often mocked as one who was less historian than bard.  In 1204, at the age of thirty, he presented to the Grand Conclave of Historians a theory about the origins of the peoples of Carmadh based on his reconstructions based on folklore and oral history.  The speech generated two controversies.  First, traditionalists felt the integrity of the Conclave was being insulted by such unorthodox methodology that allowed for such fantastical theories.  Second, Wigmund, a scholar from the Folk College at Oxbridge accused Aelfwine of having stolen his research.  On a trip to Carmadh to previous year, Wigmund had come into possession a very rare long lost scroll that contained actual documentation of much of what Aelfwine had concluded through his methodology.  Once it became clear to the Conclave that Aelfwine could not possibly have had access to or known about the document, they realized that Aelfwine had truly forged something new.  Aelfwine’s casual manner and fondness for interviewing ordinary people had blinded many in the Conclave to his exceptional skill, and carefulness, as a scholar.

The following year, he was selected by the Gaderung of Education to serve as a Theodwita Folcdædes or “Historian of the Folkdeed,” a special honor for someone of his profession.  In the succeeding years, he published the first ever history of the early patronages of the east as well as an exceptionally popular, if not somewhat controversial, biography of Eadlin Lahwita. At the age of 33, by recommendation of the Gaderung and upon confirmation of the Ealdormoot, he was elevated to the rank of Ealdwita or “Senior Historian,” the youngest person ever to be named to that rank.

In recent years, Aelfwine had been formulating a theory about the links between the ancient houses of the Sunrise Lands with some of the realms of the Sunset Lands, but felt that his research was limited by the fact that he had never been to the Sunset Lands.  And so, with permission from the Gaderung of Education, in 1210 A.C., Aelfwine chartered a ship from his family’s company and sailed west along the Chain Islands toward the Sunset Lands.  He eventually arrived in Thumbport in the Bay of Fingers and, having hired a local guide, headed west toward Mithulan and the Kastan’ose.  Hearing that Aelfwine had at last arrived in the Sunset Lands, Aelfric the Wise, Convener of the Gaderung of Education only remarked, “We shall have to see what Aelfwine’s time overseas will yield.  I can only assure you this: our understanding of the world is very likely to change profoundly.”

Kingdom of Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale

The Kingdom of Greatvale was one of the Nine Ancient Realms that dominated the Greatvale region for over five thousand years until it was reorganized into the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh led a party of colonists from the Hidden Lands toward the Sunset Lands. After their expedition was blown off course in bad weather, and after surviving a shipwreck that nearly claimed the life of Wulfred, they arrived in Greatvale near what is now known as the Beacon in Fralin’s Deep.

Wulfred led the survivors of the expedition up the estuary they named the Great Tidewater to a site suitable for encampment.  It is said that upon seeing the site for the first time, Wulfred exclaimed, “Ah, here at last is a home for our people.” Thus was the place named “Folkhame.” Accounts vary as to when the term Greatvale was first used, as it is not entirely clear when the scope of the valley was realized.

Wulfred remained as leader of the colony until  his death, when he was succeeded by his son Cynric.  Neither Wulfred nor Cynric, despite being considered the founding members of a royal dynasty that would last thousands of years, were ever called “king” during their lifetimes.  The term that was used of Wulfred and his descendants was traditionally “Boroughreeve,” roughly equivalent to “mayor.”  By the middle of the Fifth Millennium PC, the term buriff had lost all exclusive association with the Borough of Folkhame and had come to refer to the lord, based in Folkhame, who ruled the lands of the vale surrounding the Tidewater.

The Unification of Greatvale

In 3792 PC, the Buriff of Folkhame had succeeded in subduing or outright conquering all the other regions of the valley and established one unified political entity.  The unification of the vale brought about a transformation in the culture of the region and the belief that a new era of civilization had been achieved.  With that change, the Buriff took on the title of cyning or “king”, a term translated from neighboring tongues for a concept that had in reality long existed in the vale.  With the unification of the valley, the Kingdom of Greatvale was born.

Dynastic History

The Kingdom of Greatvale was ruled over the millennia by a number of different dynasties, but all of them claimed descent from Wulfred in some fashion or another, and so according to the official chronicles of the Kingdom of Greatvale, the line of Wulfred continued throughout the entire monarchy.  Contemporary scholars doubt the claims of a number of the dynasties as to the bloodlines of Wulfred, but the question is not settled.

The End of the Monarchy

The final dynasty to sit on the throne of Greatvale, the Beornish Dynasty, was plagued by capricious rulers who often bordered on the brutish.  The Last King, Godwine III Beorncyning, was such an erratic and cruel leader that his reign led directly to the Long Campaign of 118-110 PC that ended the monarchy once and for all and established the Folkdeed of Greatvale.

The Patronage

The Patronage is located in the northeast portion of the Sunrise Lands, located at the confluence of the Fithalir and Adder Rivers. It is bounded on the north by the Barkeater Mountains, to the east by the Long River, to the west by the Saltmarshes, and to the south by the Fortress Mountains.

The lands of the Patronage and surrounding realms

The lands of the Patronage and surrounding realms

In the Third Century PC, in response to the continued commercial and economic growth of the Kingdom of Greatvale, Carmadh attempted to establish a number of colonies in a bid to become a continent spanning empire. King Azh-Azuza granted colonization rights to a number of companies that would agree to establish colonies of a certain size. A number of Carmadhi companies committed to founding colonies along the shores of the Fithalir River on the east coast of the sunrise lands.

In 247 PC, the first Carmadhi company, the Fithalir River Trading Company, established a colony at the mouth of the Fithalir on the Island of Many Hills. By the royal charter granted to each company, the head of the company, or Patroon, was granted lordship rights over a tract of land not to exceed ten leagues long (or five leagues long if on both sides of the river) and five leagues inland.  The families that agreed to settle on this patronage land, were in effect indentured servants for a period of fifteen years, during which all income generated went to the Patroon who forwarded a percentage on to the king in Carmadh.

In 223 PC, Ethif Zu’ujja founded the patronage of Fort Naranj near the juncture of the Fithalir and Adder Rivers.  The patronage established under Zu’ujja began to prosper immediately from the fur and lumber trade.  The fur trade was made even more lucrative by good relations Zu’ujja developed with the indigenous populations of the high forest and the lands south of the Barkeater Mountains. His son, Gikud Zu’ujja continued development of the patronage and by the beginning of the Second Century PC, the Zu’ujja Patronage was the wealthiest of all the Carmadhi patronages established along the Fithalir.  The patronage system was a great success for Carmadh, allowing them to grow in wealth and prestige among the realms of the Sunrise Lands and would likely have continued unabated but for the Catastrophe.

With the Catastrophe, much of the communication between Carmadh and their patronage colonies in the east was severed.  By the time the Lost Time was over, the Zu’ujja Patronage had managed to establish itself as the sole surviving patronage of the region, having conquered or purchased the other realms.  The records of this era (as with the records of so many other realms during the Lost Time) are fragmentary, but suggest that through a combination of military prowess and diplomatic cunning, The Zu’ujja patroons won control over the whole Fithalir Valley from the Island of Many Hills and the Great Isle in the south to the edge of the Barkeater Mountains in the north. Unverified reports suggest that the Zu’ujjas even entered into a pact with the Nine Related Tribes to the south that effectively surrounded the historic patronage of the Fithalir River Trading Company and led to its conquest. By the end of the Seventh Century AC, the Patronage (as it was now called), was in effective control of all the lands from the Long River to the east to Saltmarsh in the west.

The Patronage remains to this day one of the great economic powerhouses of the far east and continues to have strong economic ties with Carmadh, although Carmadh has never formally relinquished its claims on the lands of the historic patronages and as a result there are always rumors of conflict brewing.

 

The Beacon

The Ancient Beacon of Greatvale, also known as Cynric’s Light, Cynric’s Rock, or simply The Beacon, is a massive stone monolith on the southern tip of Wulfred’s Byland, which juts into Fralin’s Deep. The name “The Beacon” refers to both the monolith itself, as well as the light or lighthouse on top. It is both symbol of Greatvale’s economic power, serving as the most important lighthouse leading to Folkhame, and a bitter reminder of its monarchist roots, as it is home to the Tomb of the Elders, formerly known as the Tomb of the Kings or the Royal Crypt.

Legend holds that around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh embarked with 5 ships and 400 settlers to join a colony in the newly discovered Sunset Lands. Wulfred was accompanied by his wife, Fralin, who was pregnant at the time of departure. A few weeks into the journey, a great storm from the west blew the ships off course and toward the Sunrise Lands. The storm thrashed the small fleet, sinking two ships and severely damaging the ship that Wulfred was on. The stress of the storm sent Fralin into labor as the remaining ships all but abandoned hope of survival.

A large wave crashed against Wulfred’s ship and the vessel began to break up. Though he tried desperately to reach Fralin below deck, the ship had already gone under, and he was left with no choice but to cling to a broken piece of the hull. For two days, Wulfred floated on his makeshift raft, mourning his wife and unborn child. On the third day, as Wulfred lay close to death, the storm broke, and a ray of sun shined through the clouds onto him. Wulfred managed to look up and saw a great rock with a fire burning on its top.

A small boat from one of Wulfred’s ships, which had been out searching for survivors, saw him in the light and moved quickly to rescue him. Two ships had found safety in a small inlet near the great rock. Hoping to attract help, or at least anyone who had survived the wrecks, members of the crew climbed the rock through the storm and nursed a fire on the top. Other crewmembers set out in small rowing boats, using the fire as a navigational aid.

Soon after they brought Wulfred aboard, a crewmember spotted another piece of debris that looked as though it had a person on it. While the boat rowed toward the debris, it appeared as though the person slipped into the water, leaving only dark figure on the raft. When the boat pulled along side, the crew was shocked to discover that the figure was in fact a baby wrapped in a blanket: Wulfred and Fralin’s baby. They assumed that Fralin had survived long enough to protect her child, and, having seen the boat approaching, finally let go. Wulfred, though still very weak, took the baby into his arms and discovered it was a boy. He called his son Cynric, after his beloved wife’s father.

The Beacon has been lit nearly continuously for all of The History, serving as the most important lighthouse in guiding ships through Fralin’s Deep up to the Great Tidewater. Sources differ on whether or not the Beacon remained lit during The Catastrophe and The Lost Time, though the official position of the Folkdeed is that the Beacon was never extinguished. Various taller structure have been built on top of the Beacon to increase the distance that it can be seen from, including the current Leofric Tower, named in honor of one of the Great Fathers of the Folkdeed. A small, secondary fire, however, is always maintained on the top of the actual Rock in honor of the Elder Folk.

The light itself is capable of being manipulated with dried plants and other chemicals to signal incoming vessels. The light is made approximately two times as bright while Greatvale is at war. Red light means that the city has barred ships for quarantine purposes.  Green light is shone for one week after the election of new Rædgivers. The light is dimmed significantly for one day following the death of a former Rædgiver, while the light is dimmed for one week if a Rædgiver dies in office. The light is only extinguished entirely if someone akin to a national icon dies. This honor has only been granted to eight people in the history of the Folkdeed, including Eadlin Lahwita.

Beneath the Beacon lies the Tomb of the Elders, where it is said the remains of Wulfred, Cynric, and their descendants, who became Kings and Queens of Greatvale, were entombed for millennia until the Long Campaign. The Tomb is maintained by the Order of the Sun, the only royal order that was left intact following the Long Campaign. Its members, extremely small in number, are drawn from the royal families of the other realms, all of whom are somehow related to old Kings of Greatvale. Usually unwanted sons or heirs of defeated foes are sent to live out their days in the Tomb, where members are forbidden from leaving once they enter. While the people of the Folkdeed, including the Witeger, near universally condemn this practice, the Ealdormoot has respected the covenant made with the Order at the Foundation of the Folkdeed.

Every year on Elder Folk Day, the Gaderungs escort two wreaths to the Beacon, where the Witeger lays them at the locked entrance. One is in honor Wulfred the Elder and his son Cynric, while the other is in memory of the victims of the Kings of Greatvale and in protest of the continued existence of the Order of the Sun. Once the wreaths are laid, the entrances is unlocked from the inside, and the wreath honoring Wulfred is taken while the other wreath is ignored. If the Order wishes to communicate with the Folkdeed, the previous years wreath, rotted and decayed, is set outside with a letter attached. The wreath is then brought to the Rædgivers, who burn it without reading the letter. Officially, no letter has ever been read or replied to, but there are rumors that this is not entirely accurate.

Vardanit

The mountainous territory of Vardanit occupies the stretch of land connecting the northwestern peninsula of the Sunrise Lands to the rest of the continent, cutting off the outcropping to the west of the mountain range which provides the shortest journey across the Middling Sea.  However, most who can afford to choose to embark from the bay to the south instead, given the harsh nature of the Vardan climate and terrain.  Only one road is maintained through the Vardanit, and travelers from outside are generally advised to keep within its borders for their own safety.

Vardanit and neighboring Carmadh

Vardanit and neighboring Carmadh

The most easily ascertained features of Vardan culture include the production of beautifully worked silver and velvet products and a rich collective repository of epics, poetry, and songs.  Vardan food centers on goat or lamb stew, usually roasted and served over rice or large square-shaped flatbread with boiled eggs.  Almost all Vardan men perpetually chew the leaves of the garn plant, which seem to work as a mild intoxicant.  Vardans have a reputation among those who visit them for long-windedness and involved, perhaps even misleading, speech, but this impression can be attributed somewhat to the Vardan diglossia.  As a mark of respect and honor, Vardans will usually only address outside visitors in the higher register of their language, reserved otherwise for educational and religious arenas and more closely related to Thuva-Tha, the elder tongue.  Thus, knowledge of the everyday, lower register of the Vardan language is limited to the Vardan themselves and those few determined traders who have spent decades trekking through the mountain passes of Vardanit.

The Vardan themselves are highly hospitable but maintain strict privacy about certain aspects of their culture, especially those pertaining to religion.  Rumors abound among neighboring peoples about their practices, including that they worship either demons or fire, and perhaps also incorporate cannibalism into their rituals.  The only one among these wild tales to be corroborated is the report that some groups among the Vardan historically view handling fire or burning brands as a mark of holiness, although no outsider has observed this practice for some fifty years.  During the brief Carmadhi occupation of the southern reaches of Vardanit, Carmadh military conducted brutal raids on Vardan settlements with objection to the fire-handling ceremonies as a pretext, driving the practice underground if it continues at all.  Since the end of the Carmadh occupation, the Vardan have continued in the principle of dapet, or necessary concealment, which allows them to lie without moral consequences if directly asked about inner tenets or practices of their religion.  Thus, any information gleaned about them since the Carmadh occupation must be regarded with some suspicion.

It is known for sure, however, that the Vardan worldview prizes balance.  Part of this emphasis on balance involves a belief in reincarnation, which among other factors leads to a great affection for infants and children in Vardanit.  Since any new-born Vardan may in fact contain the soul of a recently-deceased loved one, children are highly favored and often seem spoiled to outside visitors.  Through a series of rituals and tests, religious practioners among the Vardan are sometimes able to determine the previous identity of a newborn.

The other reason for this devotion to the young is a marked lack of fertility among Vardan men.  (Some outside researchers have posited that the garn plant which plays such a central role in male Vardan social life may have cumulative contraceptive qualities, but not enough studies have been conducted to prove conclusive.)  Vardan society, then, is monogamous in structure, reflecting the cosmological concern with balance, but male outside visitors are regularly boarded alone in the room of a daughter or young wife.  Like lying under the auspices of dapet, intercourse under such circumstances carries no moral consequences for the family or the traveler, but instead is officially viewed as a contribution to the continuation of the entire people.  (Some reports have emerged, however, of altercations between husbands and such visitors should anything but discretion be exercised afterward.)  Vardan society is therefore matrilineal, tracing family lines and religious belonging along the only path that can be determined for certain, and outside males are sometimes “localized” through marriage with Vardan women, though the opposite is never true.

The Vardan, living as they do in isolated settlements carved from (and sometimes into) the stone of their mountains, tend to be self-sufficient and have little use for centralized authority, traits which contributed to their intransigence and repression under the Carmadhi occupation.  They have historically offered refuge to exiles or refugees from other realms.  Vardanit does, however, contain one single leader in the person of the Danthag, literally the “people’s best.”  The Danthag is believed to be the one Vardan in each generation capable of containing two reincarnated souls, specifically those of the first mother and father of the Vardan, and so symbolically serves as both to the entire people, never expressing one gender to the exclusion of the other.  In a furtherance of the Vardan concern with balance, the Danthag lives within a large cavern in what Vardan believe to be the exact middle of their realm, thus forming the physical, religious, and political “center.”  In practice, however, the Danthag’s power lies more in the realms of ritual and, in extreme cases, conflict resolution, with local governance performed within smaller areas by a yazdan, or “least person,” whose rhetoric is traditionally constrained by an extreme modesty but who nonetheless exercises near total control within their domain.