The women of the Serphelorian
tribe are legendary throughout the lands of Santharia: taller than the tallest
man, these women are said to be beautiful but fierce and warlike, and regularly
kidnap men to “have their way with them”. While it is true that the
Serphelorians are the tallest tribe in
Santharia and their features rather striking, the alehouse stories tend to
exaggerate rather on the rest.
The Serphelorians (also referred to coloquially as "Wardens") live mostly in central Santharia. They are matriarchal and their army, mostly composed of women, is among the best trained in Santharia. Blue tattooing is common among these women, which only adds to their exotic reputation. Far from being viciously warlike, however, the Serphelorians are not a greedy or acquisitive tribe. They have an ingrained code of honour known as "katmoh", which calls them to use their strength to defend the weak in any situation. This has allowed them to build friendships with many races who would usually tend to distrust humans. They are also a very outgoing, optimistic and carefree people, with a brazenly cheeky sense of humour.
The Serphelorians are a modern incarnation of a very ancient people. They arose from their precursors the Sophronians in the year 8066 b.S., under the leadership of the Jakat (a title more or less equivalent to "Queen") Quesvath. The Sophronians had a strong oral history, and the more formal scholarship which is now prized among their descendents the Serphelorians means that this tribe's history can be traced all the way back to the Mynians and beyond.
Appearance. The Serphelorian women are tall, strong and solidly built, often reaching two and a quarter peds in height, making them the tallest tribe in Santharia. Their men are nearly as tall, but do tend to be shorter than their female counterparts.
Picture description. A Serphelorian Warden. Picture drawn by Quellion.
The Serphelorian face is best described as strong. Strong jaws and noses are
typical, as are high foreheads, heavy brows and large eyes. This combination of
features has turned out some exceptionally handsome women over the millennia,
but there are many who other tribes think too heavy of feature to be called
beautiful. Even the most pleasing-looking distinctively Serphelorian woman
could never be called ‘pretty’. The men are counted among some of the best
looking of all the races, although they are seldom as well muscled as the
Hair colours run the gamut from purest blonde to darkest black, although the many varieties of reds, along with blonde and light brown, are the most common. Straight locks, flowing waves or unruly curls are all equally common. Blue, green, grey, hazel and brown eye colours are all seen. Those with lighter hair colours often have lighter eye colourings, and those with darker hair, darker eyes. Skin tone varies less widely, tending to a light brown shade that tans easily rather than burning.
The Serphelorians usually wear their hair long, and it is traditionally plaited or knotted in one of a variety of variously decorative ways to keep it from obscuring a warrior’s vision. The hair of males is customarily cropped short, although those who have gained an elevated position in the community will often wear it long. Men who have become counsellors or scholars generally wear theirs unbound, but those who have made their name in the army tend to wear theirs in a simple single plait, or for shorter hair, in a pony-tail. Some males, particularly in the areas nearer to Enthronia, have adopted the Caltharian manner of wearing a bandanna.
Blue tattooing was common in the nomadic years, and many warriors and matriarchal traditionalists today carry on this custom to mark themselves apart from some of the more apathetic elements of their tribe. The face, neck and arms are the preferred places to tattoo as these are the most visible at all times, thereby showing the world the woman’s identification with her warlike, matriarchal roots. Men are never tattooed: it is a social taboo.
The blue colour of the tattoo is created with the plant called Nehtor’s tears. The bright Uderza blue of the plant’s dye becomes lighter and brighter over the years a warrior has her tattoos, eventually becoming a very light, silvery blue-white colour called "kaiarxur". It is said that the colour brightens faster and to a lighter shade in the stronger, braver and more fierce warriors. Serphelorian women with bright white tattoos are therefore to be treated with great respect, no matter what their age!
The word "kaiarxur" means "proven blue", and it is used to describe not only the colour itself, but can also describe the quality of being “proven” in the woman who wears the colour. Thus, a woman whose tattoos have become bright can herself be called "Kaiarxur", and is respected as a proven leader of the community.
Some women who were never tattooed, or were tattooed late in life, can also be called Kaiarxur in some situations. Men (who cannot be tattooed) can also be called Kaiarxur in some cases, although this is rare and one of the highest honours the Serphelorians pay to their men. It should be noted that the title "Kaiarxura" is never bestowed by authority – it is always something that is acclaimed by the people who know the person: her village or social group. Not all those who have kaiarxur coloured tattoos are necessarily themselves called Kaiarxur.
The title Kaiarxura is generally bestowed upon people who have, over the course of their life, ‘proven’ themselves to be great in a way that the Serphelorians venerate. This can be by becoming a great warrior or a leader of the people, by being a particularly wise advisor to the community, or by becoming a scholar of great wisdom. Mages, clerics, even Jakats are no more likely than others to be acclaimed to the title, except insofar as they have a greater chance to show their bravery, wisdom, or to be seen protecting those who are vulnerable.
It should be noted that kaiarxur is not a specific colour, but actually a range of colours. This is why it is not present on the list of Santharian colours in this Compendium. A person can be said to have kaiarxur tattoos (independent of their own personal status as a kaiarxur woman) when they are of a colour somewhat darker than an elderly woman’s. A tattoo needs only be a light shade of the tattoo colour for the term kaiarxur to be appropriate to describe the colour.
Image description. The Serphelorian and Sophronian Coat of Arms. Picture drawn by Koldar Mondrakken.
Coat of Arms/Sign.
The Serphelorian Coat of Arms has remained the same since the earliest days of
the ancient ruined city of Serpheloria millennia ago. It is an ithild coloured
shield with four quarters, coloured
nor’sidian and saffire
blue respectively. Each quarter holds two
Cyhalloi snow concentric
circles with a gnastheen coloured diamond shape inside them. Each quarter
represents a division of the ancient Sophronian
army; the meaning of the geometric shapes however, have been lost in time.
When the arms are represented in the most formal manner, they are depicted as being held up by two animals. On the left side is a rearing horse with hooves sharpened, representing the Serphelorians’ long wandering as nomads across Sarvonia, and also their skill in mounted fighting and horsemanship. On the right side is a hawk with flared wings, both claws sharpened with one claw seemingly holding up the shield. The hawk is popularly understood to represent the Serphelorians’ swift attacks on those who would hurt people weaker than themselves; most scholars, however, agree that it was actually meant to be a representation of the rulers who led the relatively brief patriarchal years, the Hawke brothers.
Along with the arms, the Serphelorian crest is often used to decorate official documents or buildings. It consists of the head, bust and arms of a woman (or in some instances, for example on the rear wall of what was once the Jakat’s audience chamber in the Chrondra library, the whole woman is represented) coloured ithild – usually moulded out of precious metals, be it silver, or in several rather poetic cases, the armour of vanquished foes. In her right hand, she holds four arrows; her left hand is open but only has three fingers. She is usually dressed in the long skirt and chest bindings of a wise woman.
Territory. The Serphelorian kingdom varied in its size over the course of its history, being at times as small as just the Elverground, to at other times sprawling across the landscape of central southern Sarvonia. At its largest, it extended to include Elsreth in the north, Brinsley, Vezash, the whole of the Rimmerins’ Ring and the Xythrian Ridge in the west, and Chrondra in the southeast. Serpheloria was bounded on the west by the Adanian coast.
After Santhros’ unification of Santharia, Serphelorians are one of the most common tribes inhabiting the province of Sanguia. Many Serphelorians also live in Chrondra, and in small towns and villages in northern Manthria and the southern half of Enthronia.
People. The Serphelorians are quite different from most other tribes in Santharia in a number of obvious ways. The first and most noticeable of these is that they are matriarchal. In the Serphelorians’ case, this means that the women are the active partners in relationships, and that women are preferred for positions of power.
The Serphelorians are generally an approachable, open and carefree people with a simple but bountiful sense of humour. The women often seem forceful and arrogant to people of other tribes on first meeting, but those who live with them for any length of time will find them to be honest, jovial, loyal people who are proud of their strength and traditions. Men of the Serphelorian tribe are well known for their warm openness and generosity.
Women of this tribe are usually taller than the men, and they consider the way women in other tribes find taller men attractive very strange. Strength in men is valued, but this is more for the fact that it gives them an ability to do heavy work around the house than for any ability to protect or to join the army. While some men do join the army or take some kind of work, most are happy to take roles as the carer in the family.
Ignorance of Serphelorian ways in members of other tribes has caused some problems since the unification of Santharia. There have been many bar fights or duels from Serphelorian women defending the honour of their men, and not a few men attacked for being ‘un-manly’ by their counterparts from other tribes. Similar problems have occurred when Serphelorian women have experienced discrimination from, or have themselves discriminated against, women from other tribes. This is somewhat controlled now by an awareness of difference and an intolerance of this type of rudeness in much of Sanguia.
Another characteristic which travellers from other tribes are often surprised by is the Serphelorian forwardness. Both genders can be quite obscene by, for example, Erpheronian or Avennorian standards, when in the pursuit of a member of the opposite sex. The Serphelorian sense of humour is similarly inopportune, being by turns slapstick, salacious and scatological enough to make even the most worldly Avennorian courtesan blush. Once over the initial shock, however, most people eventually find Serphelorian humour riotously funny, perhaps because it is so inappropriate.
The Serphelorians officially originate in the year 8.066 b.S., when Quesvath-Jakat, the first Jakat of the complete tribe since Gaia around 11.000 b.S., was given her ceremonial sword. The change, however, was much more gradual than that. People began calling themselves Serphelorians as early as 10.150b.S., when the capital city Sophronia was founded: ‘serphelor’ means ‘from the city’.
Aside from official dates, the Serphelorians we know today can be distinguished from the Sophronians in two main ways. First, they are settled, living in permanent houses and stable communities. There are no nomads left wandering the hills and plains of Sanguia, although it is true that more Serphelorians enjoy leading itinerant, adventuresome lives than do people from many other tribes. Second, they are matriarchal but have a great degree of equality between the sexes, unlike in the Sophronian tribe.
Political Views. As a people, the Serphelorian tribe has historically been rather politically ineffective, both at the time of their formation and since. Serphelorians in general are not highly skilled in diplomacy, and so not very good at coming up with solutions to disputes. Most Serphelorians agree that rather than sitting down and rehashing details to come to a solution, they would rather have “a good honest fight”, or just leave.
There are few natural leaders in this tribe, although they are much celebrated when they do emerge. The majority of Serphelorians are quite content to be led in any given situation, which, while this may account for some of the worst decisions in their history, also accounts for some of their best military successes. Leaders throughout the history of the Serphelorian tribe have managed some of the most famous military victories in history because of this quality of obedience, which makes their armies such highly disciplined, well-trained, fearsome fighting forces.
As part of the process by which their ancestors, the Sophronians, became matriarchal, the Serphelorians developed a moral code, known as 'katmoh', which has been passed down through the ages. This unique sense of justice demands that one must always protect those weaker than oneself, whether inside or outside of the tribe. Hence, contrary to some groups’ opinions, Serphelorian men are not mistreated despite their unusual position in their tribe’s society.
The Serphelorian principle of protecting those less able to protect themselves means that the hobbits of Elenveran and the Gnorian gnomes, both of whom live in the same areas as Serphelorians, can flourish. They are left alone enough to be independent, but are guarded from stronger forces when necessary. The same respect is extended to the tribes of elves living within the borders of Serphelorian lands, despite their obvious strength; elven territory has always been respected, unless the elves become hostile. This has led to the Serphelorians’ long, if no longer as close, association with the Quaelhoirhim elves of the Zeiphyrian forest.
The Serphelorians also have good relations with the Boltgrumm, Mitharim and Tenthrumm dwarves, and the other human tribes. This ability to get along with such a large number of different tribes and races is thought to be one of the reasons that the Kings’ Hollow was chosen to be the capital of Santharia.
Regional Variations. Unlike in many tribes, there is a noticeable difference between Serphelorians from the cities and the southern areas of what was once Serpheloria, and those from more isolated villages and small towns in the north.
People from older settlements in what was once the south of Serpheloria tend to be quite content with their role in life as followers or farmers; they usually leave politics and formant to members of the other Santharian tribes who now live in Sanguia with them. They are less apt to distinguish themselves from the other tribes around them than northerners, and more likely to accept their men having independence equal to that of their women.
In the north, the people remember the nomadic times more clearly, and have preserved in many ways the warlike and matriarchal traditions of the past - although they are very much toned down from what they once were. The blue tattoos of the warrior are still quite common there, rather than being mainly confined to women who join the army. Festivals focus more on martial aptitude and strength than in the south, and Serphelorian leaders, when they do arise, come much more often from the small villages and the towns in the north. In addition, boys are rarely given any encouragement to join the army or seek independence as they sometimes are in the south.
Importance. It is well known among historians that it were the Serphelorians who were the main influence in changing the mainly patriarchal ancient tribes into the more open, less gender-biased Santharians of today. Notable examples include the way in which their attitudes influenced the patriarchal Darian (who went on to become today's Shendar), and the Avennorians. These are by no means the only groups they influenced, however: their influence has reached over the whole continent. Katya Dragonseeker might never have existed if it were not for the brave women of the Serphelorian tribe.
Serphelorian buildings are round structures with peaked roofs, and are
constructed from different materials depending on the intended use of the
building. The shape is derived from the skin huts that were used in the nomadic
Over the centuries, as the Serphelorians settled, the hide was replaced by wooden walls with a mud coating – a method derived from the Eyelians. Mud bricks began to be used around the time of the founding of Hawke’s Perch. This development was, over time, followed by the introduction of more and more sophisticated hard bricks.
Today, city houses are usually a wooden frame and floors, clad with red bricks joined with mortar, and roofed with tile. Houses are then usually plastered and then painted. Poorer people use hide or thatching for their roofs, and the brick is of inferior quality and often not plastered. Some shacks are still constructed of mud-clad wood, and hide tents are not uncommon in slums outside some of the larger cities. City houses can be many stories high, with the most impressive manors and palaces being many of these circular towers joined with walkways or bridges, both at ground level and in the air.
In Brinsley, these towers were designed so that each floor would become a single circular room. This made each tower quite skinny, so that even most modest houses required several of these towers to create enough space. The whole of the city looked much like a forest, and not like a city at all. The fashion for this has passed somewhat, however, as some of the older houses are now having to be propped up with joists between towers to stay standing. Newer buildings in Brinsley are reverting to wider, more stable structures.
Stone is not commonly used in Serphelorian construction, but city walls and important buildings can often use this method, especially where the Avennorians had a hand in the construction. These buildings are usually either built in the Avennorian style (although usually with tiles added in place of the Avennorian hulk-roof), or in a strange concatenation of the two styles, with a square or rectangular shape but with curved corners and circular projections, often in odd places. A good example of this is in Chrondra, where the scholars’ hall, originally the Councillors’ hall, was built in this way.
Inside their homes, the rooms are usually a part of a circle, thus having at least one curved wall. Stairways usually run around the inside circumference of the building, and there may be as many as three staircases up to the next level built in this way, depending on the diameter of the level. Fireplaces too, are usually built on the outside edges, for ease of ventilation.
For decoration, the Serphelorians are quite obviously fond of textiles. Wall hangings decorate most rooms, thick carpets cover the floors, more fabric covers chairs and even tables in houses where nice carving is unavailable. Much of this decorative fabric is produced locally, as some Serphelorians do have a talent for weaving, but those who can afford it buy their woven goods from Caltharia where the art is much more refined.
In the north and in noble houses, it is common to have a weapon, some armour or other militaristic keepsake belonging to a famous or particularly brave ancestor hung in a prominent position in the house. This is intended to commemorate their bravery and to give the young women (and more recently also the young men) of the household something to aspire to. Richer houses sometimes have portraits of these people as well as, or instead of displaying their weapons.
Herb patches, vegetable gardens and various other plants are common outside Serphelorian houses, like any other. The outhouse is also a fixture, usually discreetly concealed in a small grove of trees, or attached to the back of the house. Many larger houses have a small stable for their horses set between the main towers of the complex.
Clothing. Many women from the Serphelorian tribe, especially those who live near the King’s Hollow, follow the latest fashions of the Santhran’s court which move much too quickly to record here. Others, especially those in the northern towns and the smaller villages, follow a more traditional mode of dress.
Serphelorians typically wear short skirts made of heavy woven fabrics with sandals in the summer. Breast bindings of one style or another is usually all that is worn on top, but tunics are now worn by some women, following the fashion of the cities. In the depths of winter, and for older women at any time, skirts that brush the ground are worn in some areas. In other places women wear trews like men of other tribes in winter, or have adopted the traditional laced leather legging or the more modern woollen equivalent under their summer skirts. Cloaks are favoured over sleeved garments for warmth (this preference is thought to have developed from the need in the nomadic days to never be hindered by clothes if there was a sudden attack), and high leather boots, often lined with fur, are popular.
When riding out, hunting or engaging in other combative activities Serphelorians wear a more traditional skirt similar to that worn in the army, made of heavy leather pieces that allows easy movement, teamed with high boots and breast bindings. Other leather clothing to prevent injury is often worn, but much more is thought to impede the freedom of movement required to practice the Serphelorian way of fighting, jakatya, effectively. Those who are the most skilled in this art rarely wear more than the traditional war dress when engaging in physical activities.
Men are usually dressed in a
garment which is unique to the Serphelorian tribe, called the jaeb (now
pronounced “jaibe”), the meaning of which is perhaps best lost in history. It
is a long, rectangular piece of fabric that can be wrapped around the lower
body in a variety of ways, with the hem usually falling at around the mid-calf.
The easiest method of wearing the jaeb is the simple wrap. The cloth is wrapped around the body as many times as is needed to use all the fabric. The top of the end is then tucked in to the wrapping, and then the whole top is folded over once. The wrap can be secured with a piece of cord or a belt before it is folded, or is sometimes fastened with a decorative pin for special occasions.
The simple wrap is not used as commonly as the many variations. This is because the simple style can be somewhat restricting to wear. The Serphelorian women find the style attractive however, so it is often worn as formal attire, using fabrics that are more luxurious. Wraps that are more functional involve pleating the fabric in various places to give room to move. A common example of this is the trew-wrap. The fabric is wrapped around the body as before, but with small folds made in the fabric at the front on each layer of wrapping to allow easier movement. This can then be folded like the simple wrap, or the end of the jaeb can be passed between the legs from behind to create what looks like a loose trouser.
Traditionally the jaeb was the only thing worn by Serphelorian men, but it is now common, particularly for older men, to wear tunics or button-front shirts like those worn by Avennorian men tucked in to the jaeb. The shirts and tunics are generally plain coloured, with the jaeb often being quite brilliant colours and patterns. In winter, cloaks or robes can be worn but usually men are able just to stay inside where it is warm. Sandals or soft shoes complete the outfit.
Some of the newer occupations men involve themselves in these days, for example soldiery, require clothing that is more protective. These men usually wear leather trousers modelled on those worn by many of the other tribes of Santharia. When off duty, and especially for formal occasions, these men usually return to wearing the jaeb instead.
Diet. The Serphelorians are a tribe of meat lovers. They farm sheep, banegs, goats, pigs, taenish, and other less common animals for their meat and other produce. Meat is cooked or preserved in myriad different ways, and flavoured simply with herbs, berries or roots, if at all. Vegetables are farmed in some areas, but most households grow enough of what they need themselves, and it is a point of honour among many men that they should never need to go to the market to buy vegetables.
Traditionally the Serphelorians would hunt for their dinner, supplementing it with whatever could be found by the men in the way of fruit, berries, fungi or vegetables. Living so close to New-Santhala has brought many new tastes to the Serphelorian palate, however, and has led to the addition of fish and shellfish, cheeses, fruit and sweetmeats to the shopping list of those men who can afford it.
Cha’ah is drunk as often as possible, and freshly brewed is a must! The herb grows abundantly in the areas where Serphelorians live, so it is often associated with these people, although it is drunk all across Santharia. Less well apppreciated by other tribes is the Serphelorian drink called "amzyz". It is a type of fermented mare’s milk, and is drunk ritually – in small, ceremonial quantities – at festival times. It is said that amzyz used to be consumed in great quantities during festivals, but now that Serphelorians drink more regularly, it has become less popular than the milder beverages like ale and cider.
Weapons. Still to be added.
Occupations. The army is very well thought of as a career choice for young women who want to see the world outside their home village, or who have a strong interest in traditional ways. Girls are often sent to the army by their elders if they are thought to have potential, despite the fact that they might want to do something entirely different. It is seen as a good way to make girls into women, and as a proving ground which can be a good education in Serphelorian ways even if the girl chooses to follow another path after she has served her time in the army. Young men are now allowed to join the army, too.
In civillian occupations, men are often employed to work, especially in jobs where something is produced. Women, on the other hand, are usually the ones who supervise, make decisions, and own or run the business. Even where a man is in charge, he is usually working for a woman. One example that travellers to central Santharia notice is that barkeeps here are usually women, while servers and cooks are more likely to be men.
Meat and its production is perhaps the widest spread industry in old Serpheloria. Smoking, pickling, salting, drying and curing are all used to preserve meats and flavour them, as well as butchering and wrapping fresh meat in wet cloths to sell at local markets. These jobs aside, there is also work in farming the animals, and in the many other industries which use the other parts of the beast, be it milk, eggs, bones, skin, feathers or wool.
Farming the cha’ah herb is an operation of nearly the same size as the meat industry. Based in the north of what used to be Serpheloria, tea plantations cover every spare ped on the Heath of Cjur between Hog, Yorick and the Paelelon and Almatrar forests. People are employed by the owners of the plantations to pick, dry, pack, label, sort and blend the teas before they are sent out to the towns to be sold at the market, or in some of the larger towns, at specialist merchants.
Scholarship is one occupation which is not particularly biased according to gender. It is accepted as something which males can do as well as women, although many people think that the two sexes go about it differently: men are considered to have more patience! Being a scholar, or lore-keeper, is a highly respected occupation among the Serphelorians, and one of the few ways for men to become eminent in society which is not dependent on the success of a woman. As such, many men choose it, so they easily outnumber the women in the field.
A particulary Serphelorian occupation is in turning mares’ milk into amzyz. Specialist brewers of varying quality are found in most cities, towns and large villages. Men are thought to be well suited to this occupation, although, like most things, the men see to the detail while women are in charge of the operation.
Serphelorians relatively often, compared to other tribes, find their calling as priestesses of Seyella, Armeros or clerics of Arven.
Government. Before Santhros, the Serphelorian kingdom was ruled by a Jakat (loosely translated as ‘protector’), which was the equivalent of a king or queen. Due to the number of upheavals in Serphelorian history, there have been a wide variety of ways in which Jakats have organised their government. At times there were councils that ruled with the Jakat as merely a figurehead, councils who advised the ruling Jakat, Jakats who have ruled more or less on their own merits but with the aid of a few wise women, and despots who ignored their people in the pursuit of glory.
Many of these Jakats ruled over areas which were vastly different to previous or later Jakats, so different areas became quite good at self-governance. In most towns, villages, and groups of nomads (when these still existed), all women over a certain age were expected to be part of a group of 'vaxytha' (wise women) who would meet to decide anything which needed deciding. Depending on the community’s needs they might meet at a regular time, as needed, or spend most of their days together discussing things. The age at which women were asked to join this group varied too, relevant to the needs of the group. A similar, if less formal vaxytha system still exists today, especially in the smaller villages where no designated official ruler is present.
Army. The Serphelorian Army is known more commonly around the Santharian kingdom as the Santhran’s Order of Seyella, and is one of the Orders through which the Santhran governs his or her kingdom. They are sometimes called ‘the Seyelites’ or ‘the Seyelite Army’ (to distinguish them from Seyellans, who are clerics of Seyella) or ‘the Serphelorians’ in reference to their tribal affiliation.
The Serphelorian way of thinking requires and venerates protection of the weak (a concept called ‘katmoh’), and as such, the Order of Seyella is well known for personal protection services. Defending is a concept which is deeply anchored in the soul of Serphelorian warriors, and it is well known that their faith in the Goddess of Destiny makes them unafraid to give their life, should the Goddess demand such a sacrifice.
The Order of Seyella is a large Order – it can have over a thousand members at one time. This is because the Army is such an integral part of the Serphelorian tribe’s culture; it is perhaps the final bastion of the traditional, matriarchal and martial ways, and is a proving ground for young Serphelorian people. The Order is also a great source of pride for Serphelorians, as they are able to use their strength to be a part of protecting the whole kingdom.
Belief. The Serphelorians believe in the Twelve Aviaria, as do all Santharians. However, like all Santharian tribes, the way in which they conceptualise the Twelve is quite unique to them. Seyella is the most beloved god of the Serphelorians, and they believe that she is very active in guiding the tribe and creating good fortune for them. Seyella is assisted in her work of looking after the Serphelorians by Armeros and Arven (Arvins), who support the tribe to protect those who are weaker than themselves. Since the tribe has settled, Jeyriall has become more popular too, looking after those who are less warlike. Their strong faith in Seyella’s guidance allows the Serphelorians to have a cheerful, nonchalant manner and an optimistic outlook in even the worst situations.
Production/Trade. The main trade goods produced by the Serphelorian people are their preserved meats and the cha’ah herb. Serphelorian meats are known and praised across Santharia, one particular type even giving rise to the well known saying “as sweet as Chrondra bacon”. All types of preserved meat produced by this tribe are prized, and the most wealthy tables of New-Santhala will not settle for meats from anywhere else. Cha’ah is produced on the Heath of Cijur, and sold to merchants all over Santharia. No other place can grow the herb as well as here, so nearly all cha drunk in Santharia, from Nyermersys to Strata, comes from here.
Natural Resources. Still to be added.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Serphelorians celebrate primarily the following festivals:
The Festival of the
The Festival of the Foresighted One celebrates the first leader of the tribe, Sophronia, who led the Sophronians south, beginning their generations-long journey to where they finally settled on the Elverground, becoming the Serphelorians. It was also Sophronia who put in place the matriarchal system, encouraging the women to protect those who could not protect themselves. This festival is the Yearturn celebration for Serphelorians.
The festival is celebrated for a full week, on the first week of Turning Star. Turning Star is, of course, the month dedicated to Seyella. This is significant because Sophronia was also called the Foresighted One, and is associated with Seyella..
During the festival amzyz is drunk, huge bonfires are lit, the best foods are eaten, and plays depicting the Sophronians’ journey to the Elverground are enacted. Gifts of special foods and necessities are given to those who need it, in the spirit of katmoh and in remembrance of Sophronia’s injunction to always protect those who cannot protect themselves.
The Festival of
This festival takes place on the night of the 15th day of Awakening Earth, and celebrates the might of the Just One. The form of this varies from place to place, but it is generally a wild night of celebration, as if the people were trying to pack a whole week’s excitement in to one night.
People usually stay at home on the day of the 15th, then come the evening they go out into a common area or the streets, dressed in their most heavily scarred battle clothes and give small token gifts to others, particularly to strangers. Those who play instruments will usually do so as their gift to others, piping, drumming or singing prayers to Armeros, or stirring martial songs.
The Festival of
The festival dedicated to Jeyriall is the only one which is traditionally celebrated quietly, in the home. Of course, being the Serphelorians, this doesn’t mean it is actually quiet – it merely means that each family or small group of friends and families celebrate it inside a home, and not out on the street with maximum noise like the other festivals!
The first day of Sleeping Dreamress is a time for the Serphelorians to prepare mentally for the harvest, decorating their homes with flowers and gathering together as an extended family to gently thank the goddess for her benifience over the year. After the families’ prayers and offerings are made, a special family meal is taken, amzyz is (of course!) imbibed, and happy songs and dances are performed together, reminding them of their bounty in each other.
The Festival of Warriors
The Festival of Warriors celebrates the glory of past and future warriors. It lasts for a week, like most traditional Sophronian festivals, and is usually held at the end of the month of Fallen Leaf. This has quite a bit of regional variation, however: the harvest must always be collected before this festival, so in areas where the crops are taken in late, the Festival of Warriors occurs much later. This festival seems to be losing popularity in many of the bigger cities, or is celebrated only privately, but it still very much celebrated in the villages.
During the week of this festival, kokdar (a Serphelorian game) is played during the day, and in the evenings plays are enacted. Unlike in the Festival of the Foresighted one, there are many different plays put on, not just one. These plays depict many of the most famous military moments in the history of the Serphelorians, and their predecessors the Sophronians.
The ever-present amzyz is drunk on the first night of the seven, in a ceremony where young women who have reached adulthood that year come before the women, and it is decided what they will do with their future. The decision made on this night is usually made in advance between the wise women of the village, the girl and her family, but often the young women are kept in suspense until the night. Apprenticeships are handed out, and preparations are made for those who must leave their homes to pursue their goals. The rest of the week celebrates the new women’s bright new futures, and farewells their childhoods.
Minor festivals, such as those of the other Avaria, the Festival of the Birth of a Child, and the Festival of the Jewelled Bridle are also celebrated at different times during the year.
Serphelorians speak a version of Tharian which is accented by their region. It
has the more delicate, cultured sounding
New-Santhalan acccent within the
Rimmerins Ring and in some larger towns, and is more heavy-sounding outside it.
It is also interspersed with a few Serphelorian words, especially in the army.
Only a few scholars know that language now, but words dealing with concepts
like weak and strong, and male and female are known by nearly all
Serphelorians, and used in place of the Tharian so frequently that it is part
of their dialect.
While their accent can vary, Serphelorians are easily told apart from the other tribes who mingle in Sanguia by their emphatic gesturing. Nods, hand-waving, eye-rolling, head-waggling, arm-waving, table-banging, stamping, and any number of more specific, and often less polite gestures are used to emphasise their stories and speech. This marked gestural element to their speech is often linked to the important part many different acted performances of past events play in Serphelorian festivals.
Nomenclature. Serphelorian first names are quite different from those of their neighbouring tribes, and as such are quite easy to spot. Feminine names are typically long, and somewhat sharp sounding, beginning with letters such as K, Q, X and Ch. Names for men are much shorter and much rounder sounding, starting with letters like B, G, M and A.
Traditional last names of this tribe indicated who the head of the person’s family was by incorporating part of their name. This could refer to their mother, their grandmother, or in the case of some older families (and in current times, most families), a famous ancestor. For centuries now, many Serphelorians have had Avennorian blood, so it is also common for Serphelorian families from Manthria to have a last name which comes from that tribe, or is a mixture of the two naming systems.
The Serphelorians have their own versions of the Tharian Mister, Missus, Miss and Master, and a respectful ‘Sir’ equivalent, as well as titles which are given to esteemed members of the community. These are all commonly used in areas where Serphelorians predominate. While these are not the only titles used there, you can even hear women being addressed as 'Va-kai' in New-Santhala.
More information on Serphelorian first and last names, and titles and their usages, can be found here.