Menfolk of the Taer
From a handful of tribes to the mightest kingdoms at their heart is man. Menfolk are the most dynamic and inventive of all of the races of the Taer. Considered the firstborn of all the races, men see their short lifespan and mastery of their own destiny as their gifts as the eldest of all races. Although not as long lived as the Mer, Elf or Dwarf, men note their strength lies in the fact that they must make quick decisions. These quick decisions often times lead men to follow darker (and thought quicker) paths. But they also guide them into the light, and great heroes often times burn the quickest yet brightest.
“And Mittron Feuerleben looked at the Taer, and wished a child like him, the shining one. He gathered up the ashes and the dust. He molded the ash and dust into a figure, and then he sent his fire down upon the figure, and thus was Man born. But like the day which must succumb to night, so man must accept the short time he has in the sun. Unlike the elf, the mer, or the dwarf though, Man is able to skip the ruts of fate and walk on the high plain of history. Sadly we oft have fallen into the gutter, and twisted the good of other races as well. But such is man’s power, a short but world changing time we have on this Taer.” — Cameron Incanus, the first conclave
Menfolk’s history starts in the holy land, in the middle of the Taer. There Mittron formed men from the dust and ash of the desert. There menfolk spread to the four corners of the Taerfa. The petty tribes grew to large clans, which became kingdoms. The greatest of these was the Ardavettin empire. Originally a small republic the Ardavettins through, cunning and conquest grew to occupy most of the southern area of what is now the Western Realms. At its height, it challenged the Elven kingdom to the north of the Empire. The empire became a killing machine bent on conquest and subjugation. It had spread to all four points of the compass. In the east the Kavashite rebellion had used up more legions than the empire could spare, while in the west, the elven kingdom, and barbarians from the north took their toll on the empire’s legions. When Cameron Incanus came the Empire was almost broken.
Cameron Incanus, the Proto-father
Cameron Incanus was a poor farmer from what is now Kettil. Incanus, his given name, came to the region of the Himmelstuhl over fourteen hundred years ago. He came like most did at that time, as a refugee. Unhappy with the indiscriminate and unorganized nature of worship in what was called Ostia, the capital of the Empire, he called for a unification of the houses of religion that believed in the benevolent gods. At first his calls were ignored, then mocked, finally his followers were rounded up and killed. The Martyrs grew, and coupled with the dissatisfaction of the patrician class, civil war erupted. The Empire shattered into four pieces. While the chaos expanded, Incanus and his followers preached, and grew stronger. Until at the old age of fifty six, Incanus was strong enough to call the first conclave. From all over the Taer religious figures came. They sat in council in a secret place within Ostia, and determined the creed of the unified churches.
“I believe in Mittron, father of fire, and in Valane lady of the moon,
"I believe in Arshámon, lord of the night sky and in Freyá, the star keeper,
"I believe in Sârthon, ruler of the earth, and Nollë keeper of its minerals,
"I believe in Bahknon, master of the sea, and in Emeî, mistress of the lakes,
“Of these I put my life, faith, and hope in, and will bow to no others, Amen.” — The Unified Creed.
As the centuries passed after the first conclave, the Unified faith grew. The western half of the Empire fell to barbarians. The new peoples were eager converts to the Unified faith. Friars and Maiars moved northward converting whole nations. The disparate tribes settled and began the long process of civilization.
Ruprecht der GrosseAs the elves began their civil war, the tribes that bordered the kingdom on either side found themselves under assault from invasions. To the west came the Orc hordes, while to the north were the frost giant raiders. The tribes to the west, the Naults, were lead by the chieftain of the Salian Nalts, Ruprecht Karlson. Ruprecht and his knights rode westward towards the lands of Kestil. There near Ottr, a combined army of Dwarves and Men met the enemy. Ruprecht and his paladins drove the enemy from the field, but as they did, the General learned of danger to the East and North. Taking his fastest paladins he rode to the east where the other main tribe of men, the Bransch awaited him. Lead by Gunhild, Queen of the Moerschi, they welcomed Ruprecht and his paladins as brothers. To the north they rode to the Tenkmark, where the giants had amassed. A great battle ensued in which many giants and knights were killed. But the men prevailed, and in triumph Ruprecht and Gunhild were married on the field of battle.
As the undisputed leader of the Western Realms, Ruprecht was summoned to the Himmelstuhl by the Patriarch of the Western (or Vettin) rite. The Patriarch, Ostanstius, declared Ruprecht the new Emperor of a new Ardavettin Empire, in return Ruprecht declared that Ostanstius was the leading priest in the west, and the lands of the Himmelstuhl were holy and part of the Holy Father’s patronage. Jointly Priest and Emperor declared that Ostia was no more, and that from then on it would be called Mittronsdom, in honor of the god who aided man, dwarf, and elf that day.
Sundering of the new EmpireWhen Ruprecht was close to death, he split his empire into three pieces. The first he gave to his eldest son, Karl. Karl received the Bransch lands, and their vassals. The next he gave to his daughter Alenne, which was the Naultian lands and their vassals. Finally he gave the rest to his son Lothir. Karl ruled as Emperor, expanding his empire both north and eastward. He died an old man, leaving the Branschluss and its vassals to his sons, who rule in his name to this day. Alenne became queen of the naultian lands. She ruled well, and her name and lands became synonymous as Alenault. Her son Felipe became king after his mother, and his sons rule in her name to this day.
Lothir, given the lands in the middle of Alenault and the Branschluss wasted his life drinking, and gambled away his heritage. When he was old his many bastards claimed pieces of the land, which was broken into dozens of counties. One by one the rulers of Alenault and the Branschluss began vassalizing these rulers, forcing them into subservience.
Religion, Culture, SocietyMenfolk in the western realms are organized into three distinct factions of society. Those who fight, those who preach, and those who work. Those who fight, are the nobility. From the small knighthold, to the empire, at their head is a noble. In Alenault, the Empire, and other states feudalism is the way of life for a Noble. The ruler has vassals, who have vassals. At the bottom are the small knightholds which make up the bulk of the soldiery in wars. Each knighthold comprises of a manor, and a farm. Of those who pray the top is the Holy Father/Mother, who has legions of priests, priestesses, monks, nuns, friars, maiars, and bishops at their disposal. The structure of the Unified Churches mirrors the nobility. Finally the last caste is those who work, the serfs, freemen and burghers. Serfs work the land for the Clergy and Nobility, while freemen are tradesmen, and the yeomanry. Burghers are the elite traders and merchants of the free cities. All of these pieces are in harmony with each other, although there have been riots, heresies, wars, and strife from time to time. Religion plays an important part of menfolk’s lives. The village priest or priestess is always there through the various cycle of the church year. Revered above all others is Mittron, the firelord. His emblem is his glowing shield, which is a representation of the sun. His symbol is the double circle, which is present on every steeple of his temples. His largest temple is in Mittronsdom in the Himmelstuhl. Second in devotion is his wife, Valané. Her symbol is the pure white circle, which is represented in the sky by the moon. Other gods may be venerated by menfolk, but none stand above these two for mankind. The festival of Karamass in the season of yule is the start and end of the religious year, and the most important holiday for menfolk.
Men mature at sixteen years of age. In general the eldest child follows the trade and profession of their parents. Secondary and tertiary siblings are left to fend for themselves, although if they are of the nobility or middle classes they are given opportunities in the church and trades. Menfolk marry peers of their stations. Depending on locale this may be arranged or not. Menfolk seldom divorce as it is not sanctioned by their religious beliefs, but for the well connected it is possible. At the age of fifty menfolk begin to experience the effects of old age, and living past one hundred is unheard of. Since menfolk are the most diverse of the Elder Races, much of their society and culture are shaped by their various kingdoms and states.