These mischievous little
beings are often blamed for giving Brownies
a bad name because of their antics. Survivalists to the core and children at
heart, these little people can be found throughout the
Sarvonian continent in groups called
'clans' that can be nomadic, semi-nomadic, or completely settled depending on
the history of the clan. While none can know for sure where all the Sarvonian
Aohu'o are and what they are doing, researchers in this area seem to constantly
assume that they have been able to pinpoint all the locations of the settled
clans. For their help they give thanks to other
However, as always, someone stumbles over evidence of a new clan or more information on an older one and researchers had to delve back into the world of little people. Half of those involved in the project have given up the endeavor to put a pin in a map where all the Aohu'o reside. They have decided that if they looked for a thousand life-times, or as one elven researcher of the Auturian Woods put it "until Avá wakes", they wouldn't find all these crafty little trouble makers.
General. At one point, the Aohu'o were probably their own people dating back to the separation of the Kingdom of Birni by Keekoo the Deliverer, though time has turned them into a mixture of most tribes that live on the Sarvonian continent. If tales are to be believed, there are Brownies from elsewhere in Caelereth named Aohu'o as well. One of their most common, widely told myths is that many ages ago they came from across the oceans, separated from the rest of their kind by a great fire and they were forced to take to the sea and flee. While only a myth, it is still the most commonly accepted explanation on how they arrived on Sarvonian shores.
Since their arrival, they have mixed with various bands of Brownies and due to this the group is sometimes referred to as 'foundlings', though Aohu'o (lit: "wandering") is the name recorded as the true one for these Brownies. However, this is no longer true for most known clans which have settled for various reasons. Most of these reasons involved an endangered population and leaders who saw the merit in settling into a somewhat secure place for a time. Stories of additions to the Aohu'o bands by those of other tribes that have lost their way, become exiled from their home, and even those that have just sought a way to escape the chaos of their original home can be found throughout the history of the various clans.
Milken and Llaoihrr foundlings exiles, refugees, and the sort are the most likely additions to this group as the Aohu'o have never been known to turn away their own kind even if years and possibly massive bodies of water separate them. Reports have even mentioned a few 'turned' Rat Brownies joining the ranks, but while they aren't completely shunned by the Aohu'o they are somewhat kept on the outside. However, it's more common to hear stories of Brownies from across the ocean joining a clan, namely Memnoor refugees and outcasts, than a turned Rat Brownie.
Territory. The extent of the Aohu'o population on Sarvonia is unknown. With the constant stories and tales of little disturbances across the continent, it is impossible to get a number that is even close to accurate. Rumours on the winds telling of paths being tended near Bardavos, Marcogg, and Nyermersys on the same day have led to the belief that there is more than one nomadic group of Brownies tending to the continent's paths for the little prizes merchants, travelers, and guards sometimes leave.
At the current time, 1669 a.S., there are eight known bands of Aohu'o (plus one believed to be myth) throughout the continent, with settled and semi-nomadic bands ranging from the Sharadon Forest, just north of Bardavos and the Narfost Plains in Brendolan Province, to the Kanapan lands in the cold north. Though there are always possibilities of other bands (nomadic, semi-nomadic, and settled) between and beyond those regions.
One place the Aohu'o are not readily found is the City of Magic, Ximax. While they seem to have a good population of Redbarks throughout the clans, there are not a lot of these Brownies at the Magical Academy of Ximax, even though they boast a Tower of Life Magic among the towers of the outer circle. The Aohu'o are largely family and clan based with a very simple tribal government and lifestyle that causes tight bonds to form within the clan, so most magic users among them remain with the clan, learning from an elder life magic, or Brownie magic, user. Nomadic clans will often avoid the city as well to prevent one of their young life-mages from being snagged by the lure of power. Therefore, aside from those that break the bonds of their clan and depart, the area around the magical city is free of the pesky Aohu'o.
Lifestyle/Culture. Survival is the main goal of the Aohu'o, though having some fun is their second goal in life. The Aohu'o are well known for being pests, annoying, 'bothersome little beasties', and just plain mischievous little beings from one end of the continent to the other. In the Goltherlon Forest, it's not uncommon to be met with a shower of bittersweet fruit or become prey to the playful antics of the Aohu'o dragonriders and their mounts. However, no clan has perfected the art like the Stained Clan of the Auturian Woods, who have been deemed worse than vermin in the homes of those living in the area, though their camouflage and lack of true harm in their pranks has kept them from being wiped out. However, in the interest of their first goal, survival, they stay away from the Tethinrhim Academy of Archery for the most part. At least it seems this way as the traditional marks of their presence are rarely found and any 'attacks' on the academy are done more by the youth when passing in the area.
Due to these bouts of mischief, some of the more superstitious folk in the area have taken to hanging garlick around their home in attempts to ward away the Brownies when they are thought to be in the area or are known to have settled in the area. However, garlick isn't nearly powerful enough and any amateur herbalist or local hedge witch could tell you that onions are the way to go. The strong smell repels the little pests and most know or have heard of the consequences of getting too close to this particularly pungent vegetable.
Aside from being mischievous survivalists, the Aohu'o are seen as being the closest to the true Brownie religion and intense worshippers of the spirits. As said before they are a group of misfits. Parts of most known Brownie tribes have flocked to the various clans of the Aohu'o. One of the reasons behind seeking out one of these clans, or even just leaving their original tribe and stumbling on an Aohu'o clan, is the search for a way back onto the right track, to the right religion. These clans are close to nature, so much so that their version of spoken Browniin is closely associated with natural sounds. While they are considered closest to the spirits, most clans worship and respect the spirits of their mounts more so than those around them as the creatures they ride provide protection, food, and transportation, all of which are important to even the most settled clan.
Clans Overview. Being between about fourteen and sixteen nailsbreadth in height, these little people are somewhat difficult to find even though unknown numbers of bands of them can be found from the southern tip of Southern Sarvonia, Strata, to the northern most point of the lower half of the continent, the Tandala Highlands in Nermeran province. There is even one known band living north of the Kanapan Peninsula, in Northern Sarvonia at this time (1669 a.S.), though there is always the possibility of more.
The size of the people makes these Brownie clans difficult to find though a few of the more settled clans have been recorded by various sorts of travelers. The travelers range from humans, elves, and hobbits, which have seemingly enjoyed the antics of the little creatures from time to time, to their own kind, the Llaoihrr and Milken Brownies. Even a few races that don't record the encounters are known for hunting down and eating these creatures even though they don't make much of a meal. While for the most part, those races considered more civilized have mostly stopped using the old Brownie receipts, orcs, goblins, trolls, and ogres are still believed to munch on these little creatures every now and again. Brownies also been found as pets from time to time in small human settlements if someone is smart and quick enough to catch them.
One nomadic Brownie tribe has even been located and followed for a time to gain information. Here is a brief description of the known Aohu'o bands, or clans, on Sarvonia:
The Sweet-wood Clan
So named for the multiple uses and constant association with the bittersweet tree. This clan has made their home in the Goltherlon Forest, claiming only Golgnomes as their neighbours in a forest originally inhabited by Goltherrhim Elves. The elves descent from power began with the murder of the heir of the people by Kyranian rogues and the ensuing Curse of Fire and following wars with the Helcrani, which led to the extinction of said tribe. Now, living in a previously abandoned forest with nothing but the gnomes, animal life, and plant life to keep them company they have turned to a beast once feared by them, dragons.
The Sweet-wood Clan is best known for the dragonriders, which causes the humans to call them the Dragonrider Clan. This group of brave little Brownies face all odds in the attempts to capture and then raise a skyter dracoid, beasts they call dragons. They are honoured for their bravery and service to their people as they put their own lives on the line to protect their settlements from their tree-dwelling predators, the herín (tree cat), and the horned wolves that roam the forest floor. The dragonriders have perfected the practice of confining and killing the cats, using the cat pelts to cover their homes and effectively keep most predators away. They have even taken to using the method to take down the snowy deer of the forest they inhabit. At one point, their lore tells of a young rider that, with the aid of the first dragonrider, Cawrr Dragonrider, brought down an elk, and the clan feasted throughout the winter.
This is one of the most known clans due to the continually growing trade relations with the Council Tree Brownies and dealings with Llaoihrr Skydiver Clan and their trade mounts, the arrowhead goose. The dragons and their riders are known among almost all Sarvonian Brownies and some humans as myths if not anything else.
The Twin World Clan
This clan lives up to its name. These Brownies are split up between two areas, though originally they both lived in the Shivering Woods for a time. However, this clan only remained whole for a short while. The near constant shaking of the larkentir tree due to various reasons pushed half of the little people too far. At that point a split occurred. Half of the Brownies left the forest, moving eastwards until they ran into another forest that lacked the shivering trees of their previous home.
For reasons unknown the second group of Brownies are overly loud. They now live in the Roan Forest, a medium-sized area of trees north of the Ilian Plateau. In the Shivering Woods, the Brownies of the remaining group have learned to adapt to the shaking of the trees and communicate in mostly hand signals and gestures, almost never talking. While the two groups are separated by a sizable patch of land, they are still considered one tribe by human researchers.
Less known is the mount of these Brownies. While unique, it has fallen in the shadow of the skyters and their riders, like the riding groups in the other clans. The vulk is a creature that is commonly mistaken for a shir, or fox, from a dash away at the least, though when looked at closely has very few fox-like features aside from size and colouring. Only within the Roan Forest is this creature celebrated and known by the people of the small village within its depths.
The Waterwell Clan
While most Brownies absolutely hate water the Waterwell Clan are a little different. Originally, their band was chased out of a small village just north of Ephirn's Lake for pilfering food. The offended villagers chased them to the edge of the lake and lost them in the many tiny caves and tunnels formed by the elements in the rock side of the Waterfall of Diamonds. Their fury still intact, the people camped on the waters edge for three days and the Brownies were forced to remain in the tunnels, which seemed large to them, exploring deeper and deeper. After a time of exploring they found small pools of water that were fed by the lake with underground tunnels large enough for mithanjor and mithralfish to swim through. They hunted these fish from the edge of these small ponds at first and then from the water as their desperate search for food cause them to forget their fear of water.
Even after the humans grew tired of waiting and left, the Brownies remained on the waters edge, hunting the fish from the small caves for a generation or two and then the lake itself. After years of living on the waters edge most of their clan are Bluebarks, helping them blend in with the water. Those that aren't blue usually live within' the caves to keep from being picked off by aerial predators or draw undue attention from larger water creatures.
For the most part the Brownies stay near the top of the water when they hunt or just 'go for a swim' to avoid the deadly lysh pike that hunts deeper down. However, these Brownies won't go into the water alone, but only with a good sized group.
While they live in the small caves and tunnels (which they line with yealm reeds when the seasons turn) amongst the rocks, they will sometimes take to the water for a few days at a time to 'fish' when the weather starts to turn so that they will have enough food to remain in their caves and fish from the shallow ponds when need be. When they go out they will stay on little 'houseboats' for a time. These are rafts made of tightly bound lifereeds and branches that have small tent-like houses made from the hides of field mice and covered with fish scales, built on them for the Brownies to sleep in during the night. When they go out fishing they go out in groups of four or nine so that when tired together they make a perfect square. Usually nine as there is a limited amount of strength and numbers and the even setting helps keep the rafts balanced when they are all tied together.
While hunting they would hook the fish, let them remain in a 'holding net' in the water, and feed them from time to time until they returned. This method had taken years to perfect as dead fish went bad not too long afterwards and the winters were long. The hook is made of the wood of the ai'le bush, while the net is made of lengths of sweetsip vine braided and woven together to create a thick net. At that point they quickly move the fish over to one of the underground ponds that had been sealed enough so that the fish couldn't get out.
The Splintered Clan
The Brownies of the Splintered Clan live in the trees just west of the fork of the Vandrina River that cuts through the city of Voldar in Vardýnn Province. They reside in the Már'cál'ethrón, the marshy section of the Thaelon Forest as the constant bickering between the two halves and frequent clan wars have gotten them chased from the Aelle'lón. The other two sections of the forest frighten them more than the stories of wisps, swamphags, the eerie wind whistling through dead and dying oaks, ashwudes, and baych trees, and soggy land beneath their feet combined.
This clan is split up into two factions that have different ways of living with the eerie effects of the Thaelon. The first group is a band of naturally depressed Brownies that make their homes in the trees a couple strals to the north of the second band. Those Brownies counter the Thaelon by being overly cheerful. Since the two groups first split up they have been fighting and wars between the two sides of the clan are very common.
While they reside on one of the few strips of land that are high enough up to retain some sort of solid ground, things beneath the trees are still somewhat soggy compared to other areas, so the Splintered Clan remains in the trees, using kites to get from tree to tree. These are little mice that look similar to kuatus with webbing, or layers of skin between their arms and legs, similar to the webbing between the toes of wolves, that allows them to glide from one tree branch to another. Tame ones often do this with a Brownie rider on their back. These flying rats, as some call them make these clan wars between the different groups of Brownies in this clan somewhat interesting, even though they are killing each other.
The Light-trapper Clan
Known and named for their practice of capturing the dalór and its younger form, glowworms in nets of silk they have filched from the Maeverhim or taken from lu'an moth cocoons found in the Sharadon Forest. They hang these captured creatures around their dwellings in the south-eastern part of the Sharadon. The Light-trapper Clan will feed the creatures and keep them for a short while before releasing them and searching for others. It is somewhat of a game to them and while the light is precious to them they enjoy the game more-so.
For the most part these Brownies live in tunnel systems beneath the roots of the coastal redwoods and ahrhillicia and cinnabark pines which grow well in the Sharadon with the first being the most popular choice for a home. From time to time, though, they will have to change homes and find a new one wherever they can to avoid destroying the trees. To conceal the openings of their tunnels they will use vinterberry vines and other vines common in the area. They do this to hide their homes from the elves that live in the same forest as previous interactions with the tribe were less than pleasant.
Also, younger Brownies from this clan have been known to attempt to ride rubits, a rather rare lizard-like creature, as a sport when they find them. Their soft steps allow them to sneak up on the creatures easier than humans. If they find more than one the Brownies will first attempt to get on the creature's back and then race them to a certain destination. The first one to get there wins and gets to keep their rubites, which is purplish in colour, while the others have to forfeit any they could get while riding to the winner. At other times they will see who can ride one the longest. They are also hunted for food some of the time.
The Mountain-mover Clan
Known for living beneath the Vindel Mountains and in underground lairs throughout the Stone Fields of Peat in the Kanapan lands, they are often jokingly referred to as the 'dwarves' of the Brownies by those that know of their existence for many reasons, though mainly because they live underground. They have also been mistaken by those that don't know any better and venture into their territory for mythical creatures of the south, domovidgies. Stories are told and re-told, trickling down to the south and other areas to keep fueling the myths.
In the mountains those Brownies who have reached thirteen years of age begin working on aiding in the construction of the 'Great City' of marble and granite, which in the minds of those that have seen their city, will never be finished. For reasons unknown these Brownies are smaller than most, only measuring between thirteen and fourteen nailsbreadths in height, give or take a few grains. Due to working on their city from the time they turn thirteen until they die or have been assigned other duties, the Brownies of the Mountain-mover Clan are almost twice as broad across the shoulders than most of their kind.
On the Stone Fields of Peat they do something similar, though they also work on a tunnel that will one day connect the two great cities. Both of these groups rely on the few small rodents that are popular in the areas. Mostly, the stone mice and greycats remain within the boundaries of the Stone Fields of Peat, but the Brownies in the Vindel Mountains have built tunnels to the outside to lure these creatures into them. They also rely on those that have escaped their traps and are breeding within the many small tunnel systems in their area.
To keep warm they will wear multiple layers of the fur from the animals they hunt so that they look like walking fluff balls when outside of their buildings, which also have fur lined walls. The Mountain-mover Clan has also bred a domesticated version of the stone mouse that they keep in pens within their city boundaries and feed them on squirm moss. A select few of the Brownies will ride these mice, using them to travel quickly to certain tunnels, to their traps near the outskirts of their territory, or to hunt down wild stone mice and greycats that have fled to the tunnels and bred.
The Stained Clan
This clan is most known for the fact that they take petals and leaves from plants in their area, leave them to dry out, grind them into a powder, add water and one other unknown ingredient to make it a paste which they then cover their skin with. This paste, after being applied to the body acts, as a dye and temporarily changes the colour of their skin for a period of time, most likely depending on how long they leave the paste on.
By the tenth year of life the Brownie no longer has a 'Brownie smell' due to the dyes, but rather he/she smells of the world around him/her, effectively blending in with his/her surroundings. Some even claim that the dyes have altered the colour scheme of these Brownies and that children are boarderline shades when born, but this hasn't been confirmed.
The plants used to make the dyes range from the golden-green leaves of the silkel tree to the plain leaves of bushes that can vary in shade from gnastheen to herne green and beyond. However, their favourite disguise only appears during the spring and fall. The dark blue nightbloom often becomes a somewhat long-term home for this clan during this period as they enjoy both the small blue berries that grow on the bush, as well as the large dark blue flowers that blossom in abundance throughout these months.
These little creatures are difficult to find as they will move into the area where the plants they just used as dyes grow in bulk so that they will blend in with the plants. Once the dye begins to wear off they will seek another spot and start drying out new plants, moving in only once they dyed their skin again, which makes changing homes the most difficult, and dangerous, part.
The Brownies of the Stained Clan are know as the pests of the Auturian Woods as they travel to all the reaches of the forest and are known to be worse than rats when it comes to intruding. Key to the survival of these pests is the strong scent of the plants they live around and the fact the dye they use on their skin retains the scent of the leaves or flower petals used. Without this disguising scent the sharp nose of the thrisyrór, or auturian hound, a pet of the Tethinrhim elves, would have picked out the pests long ago, but their camouflage works in more ways than one. However, the local cats are another problem, both domestic and wild, namely the shingar.
Not only do they take food from the larder, and even the table, they wreak havoc in the houses by pushing something just too close to the edge of a shelf, leaving open a door for other pests, covering sheets and blankets with the dust of various plants that cause minor itching or short term effects.
Throughout the forest and in inhabited places near the forest, children are known for using the excuse that the Brownies put a certain plant in their beds and it made them ill so that they can get out of doing their chores for the day. As a rule, most parents have taken to keeping two bottles of homemade jeshanna ointment around, one full of a cure for rashes and burns made from the jeshanna lily while the other is filled with a harmless grass and water mash for those effects caused by lazy children. For the most part, commoners make their own salve and seal them in their own jars rather than purchasing the pricey, labeled ointment.
A less known aspect of the Stained Clan is the eternal search for the rare horsefay. While the Aohu'o are notorious for being mischievous, this clan would win in a contest to see which clan best fits that description. Aside from surviving, their main goal in life is to enjoy themselves. So they move often, searching for the rare little creature so that they might claim one for their children to ride as they are too small for a full grown Brownie, which is saying a lot.
The Pathtender Clan
For lack of any other explanation behind the strange movements and tendencies of these Brownies, scholars of the Santharian Compendium have decided that they move for their safety, though others argue that they just move to move. The Pathtender Clan is known by merchants, guards, and travelers for traveling and cleaning the roads as they go. These little Brownies will move from place to place inside large boxes that became necessary after a time as their constant movement on open roads makes them more susceptible to various dangers, with the sun being not the least of these, causes a Brownie condition known as sunblood. While it isn't serious, it is perhaps the most dangerous as it slows down the clan a bit and opens them up to other elements and predatory dangers.
The boxes are made of various tree branches and twigs, though those of the black birch are favoured when they can be acquired. These 'twig boxes', with one open end, are tied and formed with what ever vines are at hand. No, these boxes don't grow legs and travel on their own, but rather, they are carried by kodaels, taken and raised from pups by the Brownies. Being another very common hound throughout Southern Sarvonia, the rusthound is also used from time to time, though not very often as they tend to be too active until they reach a certain age. Either of these dogs are used as 'carriages' for the Pathtender Clan, as the boxes are strapped to the animal's chest/stomach with leather straps, most often unknowingly cut from the soft leather armour commonly used by hunters. The boxes, or rather wagons to the Brownies, are large enough for a good number of them to stand, and even sleep in.
These Brownie carrying hounds travel the roads, either going where they want or being steered by their 'baggage'. The Pathtender Clan lives up their name as they travel the roads, cleaning up those that are cluttered with broken twigs, branches and other such obstructions or inconveniences that the little race can take care of. Scholars and witness accounts have led to the conclusion that a group of two to three stray kodaels is only part of a band of these Brownies and that there are more than one of these bands within the clan as they have been spotted from time to time in different provinces and different areas of provinces on the same day.
The road between Courtford and Roulk has been watched by the common folk since times long past. At one point a man from Courtford found a small group of dor’iyn sheep coming down the road from Roulk. Knowing that town for being lax when it comes to their livestock, he decided to keep the sheep as long as no one came after them. So he collected the sheep and brought them back to his home. Upon trying to sheer the fleece for a profit, he got pricked by something and when he held his hand up to his face he found a little dart, or what he later found out was a spear, embedded in the side of his hand.
From that point on, the common folk in that area look at stray sheep suspiciously as their stories and legends tell of a horde of Brownie infested sheep raiding their lands, no doubt an exaggeration by the original farmer, even though the practice of making barbecued Brownie, started by the Eyelians, is now considered uncivilized and wrong. Aside from that one particular sheep, others, mostly the sawis due to their location and thick coats, have also been found to have their fleece infested with Brownies. These sheep-riding Brownies can only be grouped with the Pathtender Clan.
It has become a somewhat common practice for guards, merchants, and other travelers that take a certain road many times to bury a small pouch containing a san or non-perishable goods, near a tree or object on the edge of the road with a sign for the Brownies to recognize. These signs signify an offering from the humans to these Brownies. The sign is different for each region, though somehow they recognize it. Some report that one day while traveling down a tidied path they noticed a small hole on the side of the road where the Brownies had dug up the treasure they'd left, while other treasures have remained buried for years. If the Pathtender Brownies do indeed take the offerings is not known, but it is likely as mostly those that 'donate' know the signs and leave them be. Some inn keepers throughout Southern Sarvonia have claimed to wake up to food missing from their pantry, with sans along with random little treasures in its place.
The Healer Clan
The secondary name for this clan is the Domovidge Clan, named so by humans because of the insistence of many Brownies that this clan doesn't exist and because they are commonly mistaken for a race of mystical house guests. The Healer Clan is known to be a group of nomadic or wide-spread settled Brownies that are believed to go around tending to minor injuries and illnesses in the night, mostly those of children. They are known to have knowledge in medicines which include various simple herbal mixtures that appear in herbal guides under antivenins and antidotes and fever reducers, well as simple first aid knowledge of how to deal with cuts. Any healer worth their title knows the basics and this leads to the belief that this clan is just a front to take uncomfortable thanks off of healers. This clan has seemingly sprung up out of nowhere in the stories of healers who tell of little palm-sized people that come in while they are sleeping to make them better, which often helps calm the child.
To the amusement of both children and adults, these Brownies are featured in written and illustrated herbal guides. Most commonly the comical image shows any shade of Brownie carrying a bladeleaf almost twice his size with a drop of the goop dripping from a wound in the plant and one on his head. They can also be found within the pages dragging sacks of redberries, being blown away with a tareptail weed (leaves, flower, roots and all) by an overly strong wind, or even attempting to separate a slab of willow bark from the tree by pressing their backs against the tree and feet against the bark. However, while these Brownies provide amusement, aid, and reasoning for certain things, there is nothing that proclaims them as more than myth.
Celebrations/Special Occasions. While some clans have their own festivals, events, and other such periods of gathering (ex. the Rider Memorial of the Sweet-wood Clan), there are a few celebrations that the Sarvonian Aohu'o all celebrate in a similar manner with only slight differences occurring between clans. The main celebrations include:
While having a reason to celebrate every day isn't a bad thing, the Sarvonian Aohu'o put survival first and foremost, so they cannot feast every day. Instead they split the year up into the seasons and celebrate the birth and gaining of a year of everyone born during that season. While depending on the area, the range of season will change, however Santharian months are attached to the seasons.
First season begins with Awakening Earth and ends with Singing Bird, with the feast for spring-born Brownies being in the middle of the fourth month of the year. Second season begins with Rising Sun and ends with Sleeping Dreameress, with the summer feast during the seventh month. The fall feast sits between Fallen Leaf and Dead Tree, while the winter feast is in the middle of the remaining month. The seasons and feasts are also associated with the four elements: earth with spring, fire with summer, wind with fall, and water with winter. The day before and the day after the feast are devoted to fasting and thanking the spirits of the element for things throughout the year, the first half of the season and then the second half of the season on the first day. On the second they thank the spirits for the feast, following the beliefs of their people in the honouring of the spirits.
During the feast, as much food as can be spared is brought out, prepared and consumed while the party goes on from Sunreign, or mid-day to the middle of the night, or Darkreign, so that those that are on cooking, guard or any other duty can get a chance to participate when another comes to take their position part of the way through the feast to enjoy it as well. As a rule, those that are celebrating their birth are relieved of duty for that night. While the main idea behind the celebrating of the birth of their fellow Brownies spreads throughout the various clans, there are very different ways of celebrating. For example, the Splinter Clan has an age old truce set that during the two days of fasting and the day of the feast each season, all feuding stops. While they don't celebrate together, they stop fighting each other long enough to celebrate the sacred days and the day of feasting four times a year.
Among the Sarvonian Aohu'o, betrothals are about as common as being able to choose ones lifemate. Certain families that have a history of being close will often make pacts that are then approved by the Elder Council. In most cases, this is when the two mothers or two fathers grew up together as sisters/brothers and wish to unite their families. Betrothals have also been used as a way to settle debts, though that occurs less often now than in the past. These promises can occur anytime between the child's birth and their sixteenth birthday, and even before their birth. In some rare cases, a child was 'accidentally' promised before the father, or mother, had even taken a partner of their own as it only takes one person involved in the pact, plus a witness to seal a marriage pact.
Marriages are commonly celebrated by the male and females immediate family and sometimes one or two good friends. The ceremonies are isolated events and the only ones present are the intended Brownies and one member of the Elder Council, and only before and after the two are joined are they allowed to see their family. Little is known about the ceremonies aside from the fact that sometime during each ceremony they speak the same three words, though the meaning or context behind the words has caused many questions among those that study these little people. From Browniin, the words translate into 'past', 'now', and 'future'. After the ceremony takes place they attend a small gathering where they celebrate with their family before retiring to the home (built by the men and friends of the family prior to the celebration), or shelter in the case of nomadic or semi-nomadic bands.
While survival is the key goal behind the life of the Sarvonian Aohu'o, death is accepted as a part of life. The departed are celebrated or mourned depending on the manner of their death. Those that died of old age or riders that fell to a predator they were defending against are celebrated for the life they led. While they would be missed and many were saddened by their passing, they were celebrated for the wisdom, knowledge, safety, and other things they gave to their clan.
Those that unfortunately died young of uncontrollable circumstances were mourned for the loss of a life that they never had a chance to live, thrive, and bring their own sense of life to their clan. Whether the dead are mourned or celebrated, these Brownies memorialize them in the same manner. In the early morning hours of the day a group of the deceased's close family will go out to the current burial grounds, or open patch in the case of the nomadic tribes, while another group of the family would prepare the body, prepare food and drink, and deal with important daily tasks that couldn't be move back to the next day.
Around mid-day the body will be taken to the burial site and put into the ground so that it could become part of the earth again and the Brownie's spirit can join the mass of Brownie spirits. When preparing the body they will string a piece of the deceased's life onto a bit of rope or vine. This might be a maple wood ring if the Brownie has worked with that certain wood for a time in his/her past. These are little trinkets that are meant to show a part of the person's life and possibly be something a memory clung too, in the attempts of the family to allow themselves to be remembered when they live again.
After the burial the family and friends will return to the home and will dine together on the food cooked earlier in the day. The foods are mostly the favourites of the dead, with the common foods such as redberries, neeps, greenbark moss, meat (whatever they can acquire, but a roasting grass snake makes for happy Aohu'o), and even some human snacks such as popped grain in certain areas. A variety of insects also come into play here for various reasons. The malise is highly sought at all times for the honey they produce, which goes on pretty much anything the Aohu'o eat if they can get some of it. Where as the myrmex (non-venomous kind of course) has as completely different use, often making for a fine appetizer, especially when dipped in honey and rolled in cinna, foridite, khmeen, and pretty much most other seasoning or spices.
Around night fall, some of the food kept along with other possessions that meant things only to the dead person are brought to a grove where a small shrine is made of food and possessions, that after a few days these are often claimed by the animals of the forest, the possessions by mischievous kuatus and mimsys for the most part, though the Brownies left them out as gifts to the spirits, to grant swift passage to their family member and friend.
Once the shrine is set up, it is customary for them to return to the home. They spend time together, mostly telling stories, laughing, joking and generally enjoying memories while drowning their sorrow in the local drinks, though Aohu'o Sweet Spiced Mead is the main one at these gatherings. Throughout the night, those that were lesser friends and more distant relatives will usually depart from the remembrance, leaving only those closest to the departed. For the most part, those that remained throughout the night are useless until mid-day the next day, at which point their close friends will drag them from the mats of the floor and put them to light work for the rest of the afternoon.
The Sarvonian Aohu'o strongly believe in an old legend of their people that
explains their appearance on the continent. Their elders tell stories heard
from the elder's of their childhood and beyond that they were swept from their
homes with a cloud of embers at their heels, forcing their ancestors to brave
dangers of the Land of Waters. After an untold time traveling they landed on
the shores of Sarvonia, though at which
compass point is unknown.
This legend had continued to trickle down through the generations, even becoming a reality for those Brownies from the Milken, Llaoihrr, and occasional other tribes that add themselves to the ranks. Because of this, the Aohu'o stubbornly argue that they are not on their own and some of their kin still reside in a solid land across the Land of Waters. Therefore, those living on the Sarvonian continent are called the Sarvonian Aohu'o, though those that know of these mischievous little Brownies just call them the Aohu'o as this other Brownie continent has yet to be verified and the common folk don't care much for technicalities.
Looking back in Brownie history, one could see that during the Wandering Years, Keekoo the Deliverer sent off groups of Brownies to various areas to avoid the influences of the other races. History also shows that the Milken Brownies were originally a group from across the sea that landed among the Helcrani in Milkengrad. Though, whether they truly came from the same area as the various bands of Aohu'o is unknown.
However, at this point, it is hard to tell these roaming, or sometimes stationary bands that don't count themselves as part of the Llaoihrr or Milken are truly Aohu'o. Most known clans have some background, myths, legends, and links to their ancient paths, while some don't. It is customary for each clan to have at least one Lore-holder, who keeps track of the history of the clan, passing down the knowledge of past lifetimes and their own lifetime to their successor. Some researchers of these Brownies believe that the Lore-holders have taken place of the Shamans of their past. There are even arguments among those that believe themselves human experts on Brownies, who believe that Lore-holders are the same as the Shamans of their history, but rather than being nomadic they remain with one clan.