The Black Butterfly Rovers are a group of traveling fortunetellers, healers, and dancers who nomadically travel from town to town, performing shows, sometimes plays and other times lavish dances. Sometimes they also gain money through black market sales and through prostitution. Higher classes often dub them as vermin, as thieves and cutthroats, which is also often true. Those of religion believe they are witches and that they practice the dark arts and worship Coůr, or that they have a dark religion of their own.
Picture description. A member of the nomadically travelers, dancers, healers and fortunetellers, the Black Butterfly Rovers. Image by Quellion.
The Black Butterflies all look different, because they are a mixture of many
different tribes and even of races. These roamers, despite their bad
reputation, are actually very sensitive to the plights of the pariah and
low-class. They have been known to whisk away orphans from local orphanages, or
save prostitutes found bleeding or half dead on the side of the road or in
alleyways. They pick up anyone they can find, usually, and add them to the
group. For this reason, there is a variety of hair colors and eye colors, as
well as strange and exotic mixes of blood and thus of physical appearances.
Some of the strangest pairs find love and marry within this group of rovers.
Common practices among the group, however, help to identify members of this group. Tattooing has become one of the ways one is sworn into the tribe. All members will have the tattoo of a butterfly somewhere on their body, sometimes in places easy to see, like their arms or faces, while others get their tattoo in more hidden places. Extravagant piercing of the ears, noses, and eyebrows also isnít uncommon. Some females glue small gemstones around one eye or in decorative patterns on their arms and chest. Some women decorate their hair with beads.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Rovers have a symbol to identify them. They use the figure of a butterfly, painted black as though it were a silhouette, sometimes surrounded in a circular ring, also black. This symbol is painted upon their caravans and wagons, as well as portrayed on the medallions and pendants the members of this Rover tribe wear.
Territory. The Black Butterflies are nomadic, traveling around from place to place. They have been reported in places all over Santharia and even some places in Nybelmar. They have also been reported as being in two places at once, perhaps indicating that they separate and meet up again, or that they travel separately to different places. It is believed that the direction they move is depended upon the seasons or the stars or whatever the fortunetellers of the group tell them.
People. The Rovers are a rather fun group of people, making them often welcomed by young children who greatly enjoy their comedic displays and their elaborate, bright clothing and dances. They are commonly a group of clever, sly people who are quick with their hands and their minds. They are usually able to read people very well and can tell by oneís appearance if they are a friend or foe. Rovers are happy to join anyone into their ranks who wishes it, but most know what it means to be part of the group and donít. A roamerís life is not always an easy one.
Black Butterflies have a reputation for being sly and clever, and also sometimes unforgiving. They do not take kindly to acts of betrayal against their group and will seek revenge if need be. They have the ability to move silently in the night, to move stealthily through shadows and kill quickly. Members of this tribe are often filled with great sorrow of the past, more sorrow than perhaps any other peoples in Caelereth. Many of them are fueled by anger, but the Rovers always befriend one another, sharing woes and sorrows and, in doing so, become extremely close. Bonds are formed that cannot be broken.
But most Rovers believe the past is past and relish in the present. Most nights the Black Butterflies have dancing and singing and drink beer and wine. They love to party and to have fun. They enjoy coming up with skits and plays and practice them in front of each other before performing them in the towns the visit. They make up and teach each other new dances; they compose songs and write poetry.
Most Black Butterflies remain part of the group for life. Many of those who have become part of the Black Butterflies do not wish to leave because they have found support, love, and friendship in the group. Many do not leave either because they have nothing to go out into. Many have no family to go back to, no home, no other friends or lovers. Another reason is because the symbol of the Black Butterfly that is tattooed upon them is often the sign of a pariah, of one who is low-class and is thought of as scum. When the symbol of the Black Butterfly is seen, it works against a person. Most will not hire those who have the symbol branded on their bodies.
The Black Butterfly is a group of outcasts, for the most part, and thus personalities can differ greatly. Sometimes the personality of a member may be the completely antithesis of most members of their tribe. Dark elves in the tribe can become as light-hearted as fays. Some Rovers are more cut-off then others, but all of them have the capability to open up and usually have at least one or two close companions and friends. All Black Butterflies, though, have the capacity of gaiety and humor.
Black Butterflies excel in dance, acting, and tricks. They have a distinct music and a dance that is unique in its incorporation of many different cultures and ideas. Black Butterflies are also great thieves and tricksters, but have morals and tend to be very specific as to who they steal from. For example, they will never steal from small children or from those poor or less fortunate, but will not hesitate to steal from a snobby member of high-class society who walks with his nose in the air. Many members of this faction are also excellent herbal healers or fortunetellers.
The members of this group make no distinction. Everyone is treated with respect no matter who he or she is or where he or she came from. Race, tribe, gender, age, etc. hold no weight in the group. It is one of the rules of the Black Butterfly. Because the Rovers spend most of the day traveling, they use the time they have in the caravan to talk and teach. Some makeshift schools are set up to teach both young and old how to read and write or how to play a certain instrument.
Housing. These roamers donít really have specific housing, but rather travel about in caravans and wagons. Usually many people will share one caravan and another will be used to carry food, clothing, props, and supplies. Bedding caravans, as theyíre often called, will hold six comfortably. Beds are made by nailing wooden planks to the sides of the caravan. The Ďplanksí are fitted securely in place before anyone is allowed to lie upon them. After the plank is secure, it is made comfortable by laying blankets and pillows on it. All members, no matter of age or tribe or race, share the same kind of bed. Meals are typically eaten outside, together in a large circle.
Clothing. The clothing of this group is bright and usually elaborate. Despite their name, these rovers enjoy an array of bright colors including romantic reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, lime greens, vivid blues, and Santharian purples.
Women wear different garments depending on age. The younger women will wear dresses of many different colors. Theses dresses often have collars that run low, exposing their upper chests that they will sometimes decorate with gems or that will otherwise be covered with clinking, metallic necklaces. The sleeves of their dresses are sometime made of a transparent cloth or have dresses that are sleeveless. They wear jingling bracelets and anklets and lovely rings as well. Their dresses commonly fall to their ankles, but the hem is lifted when they pick up their dresses to dance.
Older women tend to dress in slightly darker clothing, sometimes very dark if their vocation requires them to, and can often be found in tops that cover their arms, though they tend to still have low collars. The sleeves often flare and are not transparent as the younger generationsí. They will wear plain skirts, sometimes ones that are carefully crimped slightly, but that also fall to their ankles. They, too, wear metallic necklaces, jingling anklets and bracelets, and glittering rings.
Men tend to wear the same sort of garments regardless of age, though the older men tend to wear darker colors. A loose shirt with either long or short sleeves (depending on weather) is usually all that is worn on top. Pants vary; some men will wear loose, colorful pants, those usually only the ones that have comedic vocations. Many of the men will wear leather pants of either black or dark brown. Men will also commonly wear large rings.
Children are always dressed in bright colors so that they can be easily spotted. The children of both sexes wear basically the same thing, though the boys wear pants while the girls will wear colorful dresses. Sometimes you may also see jewelry on girls, but not to the extent as their elders.
Members of the Black Butterfly rarely wear shoes, though some may use the money they get from dancing or doing magic tricks to buy shoes. However, most consider it something they can do without, and build of calluses to help them walk on rocky surfaces.
Diet. Rovers eat a variety of foods. Because they are always moving, their diet changes depending where they are and whatís in season. Many roamers are also hunters, using their various skills to aid the group as a whole. Meals are sometimes hunted for, and everyone can manage to share a rabbit or two if it comes to that. They will also eat birds and deer if they can find one and bring it down. When times are tough, some members may try to buy food. If they canít spare the money or if the owner of the store wonít serve them because of the faction they are part of, they will steal. Black Butterflies are sly and quick, and can steal a chicken or even a cow without a word. Children will often move in the night and collect fruit from a crop.
Weapons. Daggers and knives are the most common weapon of these roamers. They can use the weapons for tricks and utensils, but also to help defend themselves and kill people who might do wrong against them. The group tries to make sure that all members know how to use a dagger and everyone has their own as so everyone remains protected. The long-time use of the dagger and knife has engendered some unique fighting styles that are distinct of this group.
Daggers and knives are rarely bought. Most are handmade, created from scrap metal. Everyone has his/her own specific kind of dagger, with designs and patterns unique to that dagger. Some have gems encrusted on them, while others have only sleek, intricate designs. Most all of them, however, have the Black Butterfly Symbol somewhere on it, usually on the side or bottom on the handle.
Weapons such as swords and bows and arrows are usually carried along to help hunt for food, but are rarely used. Swords and bows are hard to hide or store away in small areas, and thus are of little use when out around town working for spare change. Swords and bows are usually brought in to the group when people join the Black Butterflies, and are not made in the way the daggers and knives are.
Occupations. The occupations for the Black Butterflies are often switched and shuffled. Everyone makes money to support the group and makes sure that there is plenty to go around. The vocation one has depends on their talents and what they want to do, and doesnít necessarily have to be the same for each town or each performance. A person might be a dancer in one town and an actress in another. The fortuneteller might also be a teacher. Everyone is simply required to do his or her part. It doesnít really matter how they do it.
Also known as performers, those who practice this occupation are often the players in the plays and musicals that the group may put on. They tend to be humorous and friendly. This position tends to be good for those who donít have a lot of other talents, but is certainly not for the shy. The actors and actresses need to learn how to make things appear real that are not, and must have a quick mind to memorize their lines and actions.
The men and women who work in crafts such as jewelry making are craftspeople. They are responsible, often, for making the jewelry that the dancers wear, and that are commonly sold to people in the towns they visit. Itís a rather easy job, and is a popular line of work for the elderly, the young, and the blind or disabled.
One of the most popular occupations is that of the dancer. Black Butterfly dancing tends to take quite a bit of energy and is thus made up most of the young men and women. The dances can be as arduous as they are beautiful, and tend to require a lot on the body. Many female dancers wear heavy jewelry as they dance, and men often do flips and gymnastic-style moves. Dancers work up strong bodies and endurance in dancing.
Picture description. A Black Butterfly Rover specializing in predicting the future. Here we see one with a flashy crystal ball - however such showy objects are more often found at Macanti than truly gifted people. Illustration drawn by Morjer.
Often called Seers, those of this vocation are blessed with understanding basics of magic and sight through time. Fortunetellers use various methods to determine peopleís fate and what will come in the future. It is a common stereotype that they use crystal balls that they look into to see, but the truth is that such a thing is rather expensive and very few fortunetellers have one. They have found other ways to determine the future, and will commonly use the stars or cards or throw bones, use tealeaves or read in hands. Many times those who are blind are trained as Fortunetellers because it is believed that their lack of sight makes them closer to Seyella and more able to accept her visions and messages.
Healing is an art that is commonly taught from the older generation to the younger generations. Most healers do not use magic, but are very knowledgeable when it comes to herbs and plants. They know some recipes that are unknown to others outside the group and that are passed on from generation to generation through words of mouth.
Those that create and play music are known as musicians. Most all musicians play different kinds of stringed instruments that they make themselves. Musicians are very respected for their abilities, as many Rovers know that it takes a quick mind and ear to play an instrument. Musicians pick up melodies and styles from the places they visit, and thus their music has tunes that are both familiar and unique. They tend to be very exotic.
Though this occupation isnít as popular as other jobs, it certainly brings in a lot of money. Some small towns depend on the prostitutes to bring in new blood to the town. It is common for the females of this vocation to get pregnant, but they are not shunned by the others, but rather accepted along with their child. It is not uncommon for male Rovers who impregnate females to steal away the child for time to ride with the Black Butterflies so that they can decide whether or not they wish to join.
Teachers earn nothing except gratitude, most often. Most teachers are usually old women who are somewhat educated in mathematics, sciences, reading, and writing. They teach both young and old what they know. Still, most roamers are illiterate, though many have the desire to learn.
Those that are literate are writers, or those that compose lyrics, songs, and plays for their fellow roamers to put on for towns. As is the case in many other vocations, writers get their inspiration from each town they visit. They overhear stories and gossip and will even buy or steal a book or two in order to gain some inspiration. Writers tend to come into the group well read, but this isnít always the case. Sometimes they merely learn from observing the world around them.
The Black Butterflies donít really have a strict government. The elders or
those who have been with the Black Butterflies for an extensive period of time
commonly make decisions of the group. When a decision is to be made, the elders
gather around and talk of the decision, of what is to be decided. Any other who
wishes to participate in the decision may also join in a circle around the
elders, giving tips, advice, and information, but in the end it is ultimately
the elders who may do the decisions.
In order to avoid everyone shouting out at once, an object, usually a stick a little less than a fore long and decorated with beads and designs is passed from person to person. Only the person who holds this stick, often called the ďSpeaking StickĒ, is allowed to talk, and the rest must listen.
Production/Trade. The Black Butterflies donít have much in the way of production and trade. They earn money by performing in the towns they visit, or by putting on plays or shows. However, many roamers steal in the towns they visit, though only from the rich or well off who can afford to lose an expensive bracelet or ring. They take the loot they steal and sell them in the next town. However, stealing tends to be only to earn cash when itís really needed. Most of the money comes in through dancing and performances.
Typically one or two of the caravans will have the supplies needed to create a large tent and to fill it with chairs. People pay at the door to see the plays that are put on. Though the Rovers are commonly looked down upon by society, many enjoy the often-humorous comedies they put on and their tent might be filled the opening night. Even some of the rich will pay the small fee to see them.
Natural Resources. The most important resources to the Black Butterflies are their fellow members. Everyone pulls their weight and helps out to benefit the group. Talents are extremely important to help the group survive. Those who can dance choreograph steps to the music that those who can play an instrument compose. Those who can tell the future become fortunetellers and give their services to those that will pay. Those who can work metal make daggers and knives. Those who know carpentry will help build caravans and props. Those who know how to sew will make clothes and costumes for those who can act upon the stage.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. The Black Butterflies are a combination of many different tribes and races, and each member is allowed to celebrate in the manner he/she wishes. Some members will abandon the customs of their tribe or race when they enter the Black Butterflies, but some will remain faithful to their tribe. Members of the group are often very supportive and, even if they do not agree with the practices, do not keep a member from believing what they wish to believe. This is another rule of the group.
Many members of the group have taken up the customs of the Black Butterflies, though, and one of the holidays often celebrated is the coming of spring. The first day of spring is viewed as the start of a new year and is believed to be a time of renewal and rebirth. It is often celebrated in gentle ways, such as light dancing and an appreciation for nature. Wine is drunken instead of just beer, and women will often make tiaras of flowers. A feast, or an as large a dinner as can be given, is served and all members are willing sit down and eat with each other.
Beliefs. Each member has his/her own private religious beliefs, and it is a rule of the group that none shall try to impose their religion on another. Most who are part of the group are believers in AvŠ and her twelve gods. The most celebrated god, however, is Nehtor. He is believed to share the most in common with the Rovers, and to also be sensitive to the plight of them. He is described as having danced while the world was being created, and the Black Butterflies dance as he did, with vivacity and energy. It is believed he mourned when the world was in part destroyed in the same manner that the Black Butterflies mourn for the sorrows their past lives have given them. However, Nehtor is also viewed as a God of Renewal, of healing, and he is perhaps most celebrated for such. The roamers believe that each new day brings new opportunities and a new start, that a soul can be healed and a person wrought with sorrow can live again in happiness and gaiety.
For many of the fortunetellers, Seyella is very much revered. Many fortunetellers are clerics of Seyella and will commonly use methods that include throwing of bones or reading hands to tell the fortune of others or help direct the caravanís path through the world of Caelereth. Fortunetellers, like Seyella, do not often see what will happen because of their predictions, or why they were given a certain vision to follow, and thus, like her, are blindfolded in a sense.
Important Achievements. The Black Butterflies are not really thought to have created anything of too great importance, but their achievements in arts, both literary and performing, are something to be revered. Many outstanding poets and playwrights have belonged to the Black Butterflies and attribute their inspiration and captivating words to their travels with the Black Butterflies. Also, the dance created by the Black Butterflies stands out among all the rest. The blend of all different cultures and classes merge into a intriguing and unique dancing style that is arguable the most beautiful of all Santharian dancing. The music, too, follows this pattern, with originality that is exotically pleasing.
History. Little is known about the history of this group. It is commonly believed that the first Black Butterflies were Northern Sarvonian elves that were seeking freedom from oppression. Northern Sarvonian elves commonly use animal guides, which are decided at a young age and almost completely determine the childís fate, including their place in society. None are sure if the Butterfly is a high-ranking position that was taken up our desire for such a place, or if it was merely a sign of lower-class that merely developed into the name of the group. In any case, it is believed that the dark elves of a tribe crossed the dangerous Tandala Mountains and came into Santharia where they traveled around, picking up others until it became, not only a group, but also a way of life. Little else is known, as there are no written records documenting the history.
Information provided by Rayne Avalotus