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Established February 2010
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* Plot Information for Rihland

A Black Jewel has obliterated the longstanding Eyrien rulership of the Territory. As the Rihlanders begin to reclaim their homeland they do so under the stern gaze of their "savior". Three separate peoples struggle to both claim their own identities and become a unified nation, but old hatreds are difficult to shed.
Culture of Rihland
Ebon Varos
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The Reclaimers
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Author Topic: The Reclaimers  (Read 903 times)

Description: Those who support a free Rih

Offline Kalvar Elbremov

  • Character Account: Inactive
    • red2black
    • prince
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      Ruler of Rihland

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The Reclaimers
« on: Dec 14, 17, 05:35:59 PM »

-This article was written by Reid and is posted with his permission. Edits and graphics by Dash.

The Reclaimers are a Rihlander resistance and cultural revival movement. An organization of scholar-historians, they draw upon the noble history of Rihland--what hasn’t been lost to Eyrien occupation--to inspire and instruct those who come to their cause. Reclaimers inspire a certain patriotism and nostalgia through moots, which are seasonal meetings usually held in Vyrkov province. They in the past used these moots to provide inspiration to the Rihlanders to act against the Eyrien occupiers, usually by waylaying deliveries of food or outright attacking Eyrien patrols. With the recent destruction of Kirian Svetlana’s Court they have now expanded their work into actively infiltrating the Courts which answer to Kalvar Elbremov.

Their specific long-term goal is to place a Queen of Rihlander descent on the throne of Rihland. Right now, there are two Queens allied with the movement: Gudrun Jollenbeck, Queen of Vyrkov Province, and a District Queen in Scythia. These two are considered their best hopes for a Rihlander ruler within the lifetimes of current members. The main concern of the Reclaimers is not the darkness of their prospective Queen’s Jewels, but how Rihlander she is. For a Queen to be supported by the Reclaimers, she would have to be willing to learn from the skalds of the movement just what it is to be a Rihlander Queen.

The first, and most urgent, of their secondary goals is to depose Kalvar Elbremov and eliminate any vestige of Eyrien control over the Territory. This means that all Reclaimers vehemently oppose all Prohibitions and all Eyrien-sponsored Courts. Since the ascendance of the Black, which Courts are Eyrien-sponsored has become less clear; currently, all Courts are watched, with particular focus on Courts which do not have a Reclaimer in a high Circle. The Reclaimers harry Eyrien food caravans in the Belaya Province, and steal tithes from Courts which are not friendly to them. After the destruction of so many Courts in the immediate aftermath of Kalvar Elbremov’s attack on Ebon Rih, there are very few Courts or organizations that don’t have one or more Reclaimer agents watching for their opportunities.

Their second goal is to encourage the spread of Rihlander culture, even in defiance of the Prohibitions. They seek to accomplish this by training more skalds (traditional scholar-historians) and holding moots to which any Rihlander is invited. Word of these moots is spread by runners, who are Reclaimer members who have, through one way or another, the freedom of movement required to spread the word. Reclaimer moots are rowdy, exciting celebrations full of story-telling contests and feats of strength or skill. Traditional Rihlander art and food is shared in open-air markets that are protected by large-scale aural shields and the webs of Reclaimer Widows. They function as small pockets where the Prohibitions are entirely ignored. However, this exposes them to a great deal of risk, as until recently even practicing Rihlander rites was enough to count as an infraction of the Prohibitions. With Kalvar Elbremov’s ascendance, moots are less dangerous, but the leadership of the Reclaimers has not relaxed their stance.

Their third goal is to preserve Rihlander culture. As the culture of the Rihlanders is very much against books--as so many of them were burned or destroyed in the initial Eyrien conquest of Rihland centuries ago--they are not proceeding with their project through the Great Library at Ebon Varos. Reclaimers, as a whole, do not cooperate with Kalvar Elbremov or Katrien Raske’s project to record their culture and history in books, as books are as untrustworthy as Kalvar himself. However, through the cooperation of two Black Widows sympathetic to their cause, they have begun to build a sizeable library of memory crystals recording Rihlander stories and legends in the words and images of the skalds who tell them. These crystals, which also contain records of traditional music, as well as samples of Rihlander craft and art pieces, are kept safe in the care of Tyr Madsen, the oldest living skald.

The Reclaimers came into being through the Exchange, and the remnants of the Rihlander resistance, largely due to the agitation of Melany Kriemhild; a young skald. It is impossible to pinpoint a year in which it took its form, though Skald Kriemhild first began agitating among her peers for a more traditional resistance movement in 182. The name Reclaimer was first heard in its common usage in 186. Reclaimers are passionate, proud, and idealistic, and as such they’re almost entirely a young person’s game. Members over the age of forty are incredibly rare, as many of the older members of the Exchange disdain the active rejection of the profit the Exchange enables, and the older resistance fighters are mostly deceased. Melany encourages the Reclaimers to pull away from the Exchange as they can, desiring to separate her movement’s breaking of the Prohibitions on a moral level from the Exchange’s rather less savory goals.

The core of the Reclaimers are their skalds. A skald is a word used exclusively for Rihlander storyteller-historians. Skalds are poets, songmakers, and performers. They preside over cultural celebrations, such as moots and baby-namings, and record legend-marks. For a Rihlander to have their story immortalized by a skald is a great honor, and as such many skalds are welcome guests at any Rihlander’s table. Skalds made treasured advisors to Queens and were often chosen to act as a second-parent to children. Skalds made their livings by performing Rihlander cultural rites and through stipends paid for their performances at moots. In the old days, skalds could wander or they could choose a District to make their home. In the modern day, almost all skalds keep on the move. Each of them is protected by the Reclaimers, and as such each of them tends to bend to Melany’s requests even if they don’t consider themselves a member.

As the Rihlander culture was ground down under the weight of the Prohibitions, skalds were entrusted with knowledge of Rihland-exclusive caste rituals as well, in that they were much less tempting targets than Rihlanders who held castes. Once most of the caste-bearers with their caste-specific knowledge were wiped out, Draekar Eventide began focusing his attentions on skalds, dramatically reducing their numbers as well. In 162AP, there were 39 skalds in Rihland. By 192, there were only a dozen or so (and several of them are apprentices). To give an idea of how far the skalds have fallen since the Prohibitions were brought about, Rihland once boasted nearly ten thousand skalds. A skald could once be expected to have multiple students at a time. However, in the two hundred years since the Purge, those numbers have been brought down to almost nothing, and the role itself is nearing an extinction point. As such, some Reclaimers consider skalds more important than Queens; Queens are born, but skalds must be trained. It’s not an accident that the leader of the Reclaimers is a skald.

While Priestesses and Princes make the most obvious candidates for skalds, it is in fact Warlords and witches who once made up the bulk of this unique Rihlander role. Priestesses and Princes had other duties within the Blood hierarchy that witches and Warlords did not, and as such they were generally much more able to devote their time to the rigorous, multi-discipline study that being a skald required. Once the Prohibitions were in place, a caste was a curse which brought down more Eyrien attention than a skald could safely handle. However, any Caste and any gender could become a skald, should they be able to complete the training.

Training as a skald varies greatly from one skald to the next. Sometimes it takes only a few years; others it takes decades. The teaching invariably involves lessons in performance and creative writing of some sort; some skalds are encouraged to also pick up an instrument or a Rihlander craft. One thing that persisted across all styles of skaldic education was the memorization of Rihlander legends and histories. A story’s genealogy can be traced through the skalds that have told it dependent upon certain names or attributions. It’s considered customary to credit the skald who told you a story if you haven’t put a twist of your own on it yet. Skalds will often tell stories competitively for prizes: a judge will assign a theme or a specific cultural story, and the skalds compete to see who can tell the most enthralling version of it. Unfortunately, the practice has died out as skalds have. The last story-telling competition was almost twenty years ago.