December 2020

1 December 2020
The true origins of the Cladaige are lost to them. If evidence of their presence exists anywhere in the world, they have no way of knowing--it is dangerous to leave the island, for that would require sea travel. And there are not many foreigners with the temperament to do the searching for them. Theories exist based on linguistic evidence, ancient myths, and a small few records from other cultures predating the arrival of the Cladaige in Teltebhann. But none of these answers are concrete. Most reasonable scholars have given up the search for their ethnic origins unless and until some new evidence is brought forth, a very rare and very notable occurrence.

2 December 2020
The Cladaige traditionally divide the 392-day year into 49 eight-day "weeks," with the final day of each week traditionally being reserved for leisure and relaxation from work. What people do with this day, called Réaltalá, varies wildly even between citizens of the same town. It is common, however, for households to end the day with a big family meal, often something more pricey. The year's-end holiday of Aiofalá always lands on Réaltalá.

3 December 2020
Since its first introduction to the outside world, Teltebhann has adopted some interesting and useful technology and practices from its neighbors, friends, and allies. For example, when an expedition of Baungr dwarves, led by Dwodraeck Enzgrym, passed through Teltebhann in 234 KA (the year of the Second Comet) on their way to Ak' Baungr, some of the dwarves stayed behind on the island--and with them came the art of magical metallurgy. The Cladaige have since made great use of dwarven enchanting to improve their tools and armor. Many smiths are offended by the practice, though cannot deny the increase in quality provided by magic.

4 December 2020
The mark of the King of Teltebhann is not a crown, but instead a sword called Claíoglas. Centuries old, the blade belonged to the legendary hero Claíomh. It is a simple iron bastard sword, though the hilt has since been embellished using gold and small gemstones. The sword has been imbued with the blessings of the spirit of the King's Lake, and has also taken on the strengths and spirits of those it has defeated. After resting in stone on an island on the lake for hundreds of years, it was finally freed and wielded by the first King of Teltebhann. It has been passed from king to king ever since, now resting at the hip of Queen Shaelan Duneghan.

5 December 2020
Interestingly, Teltebhann has no traditional emblem representing the whole nation. Counties and cities all have their own banners and coats of arms, though there was never one cohesive symbol for the entire nation; there was never a need for one, as there was no unified kingdom of Teltebhann until just under three centuries ago. and by then the kingdom had yet to make foreign contact. In the modern day, if necessary, a common mark representing Teltebhann is a green banner with a tree at the center. These banners, called meirgecrainn [mare-geh-crenn] in Cladacaint, are usually flown near ships in foreign ports headed to Teltebhann, though this is mostly a formality as few travel there aside from traders.

6 December 2020
The Cladaige religion could, in a way, be considered henotheistic. Because most gods are believed to be tied to the land which they inhabit, it is feasible that the gods of other religions from other parts of the world are just the deities and spirits of those lands, and could therefore be entirely real, albeit misunderstood. More conceptual and cosmic gods, such as Ántou of the Dántaine, are also often interpreted as other aspects of the sky goddess Athasáile. This interpretation holds significant water due to the pervasive idea in pantheons across the known world that sky gods are leaders, or more important and/or powerful in some way.

7 December 2020
Though not explicitly taboo, it is uncommon for Cladaige druids to perform rituals in front of non-druids, barring several specific examples. Certain healing rituals obviously require the presence of an outsider, but for the most part, these activities can be and are usually practiced away from the eyes of those not versed in the druidic arts.

The vast, vast majority of rituals take place out in nature, away from human settlements. The presence of a shrine or similar divine structure can aid the effectiveness of the ritual, though this is not always necessary. It is unknown if ritual practice imbues the land with magic, or whether this magic is what allows rituals to be possible; this information has been lost to time. Some scholars will engage in heated arguments regarding this topic--most druids simply laugh at this.

8 December 2020
The land itself often keeps many secrets. Dotting the kingdom of Teltebhann are crumbling, ancient ruins from a civilization long pre-dating the arrival of the Cladaige on the island, leading many to ask such questions as: who built them? Where did they go? Why have they since disappeared? There are some scholars from foreign lands who speak of a legendary, world-spanning empire, which disappeared over a millennium ago, though any knowledge of this was lost to the Cladaige. For now, all anyone has to go on are myths and speculations from outside Teltebhann.

Except... a secret would only be a mystery if no one had answers. Unbeknownst to the commonfolk, hidden away in libraries and personal collections of nobility, there exist copies of ancient tomes. These records speak vaguely of the first Cladaige to land on the island, and they seem to indicate that the original inhabitants may not have "mysteriously disappeared"...

9 December 2020
For almost 300 years, a single line of kinship has ruled over the kingdom of Teltebhann. Though the family name has changed multiple times over the years, the line of succession has always passed from spouse-to-spouse, from parent-to-child, or from sibling-to-sibling (in that order of significance). In the rare case the current monarch has no siblings, spouse, or children, the next in line is considered to be the eldest first cousin of the monarch. This has, however, occurred only once--King Cillian II, the last of House Teallóir, died in the year 167 KA after just 8 years on the throne, leaving no next of kin. His successor became his elder cousin Eoghan of House Cerring, the son of his late aunt, who was ascended to the throne after ruling as a count in the south of Teltebhann.

10 December 2020
The coronation of a Cladaige king is a rare event. Entire generations can often pass between two coronations. It is, somewhat surprisingly, a rather private event, usually happening within the closed-off walls of the Green Keep in Glasdún. Those in attendance are, on most occasions, the families of both the new and former monarchs, their close advisors (should they have any), and several members of the royal guard to act in the case of emergency. Also present are specially appointed druids, who give prayers and wish blessings upon the newly anointed king.

To begin the process, the body of the former king--should they be dead and the body actually present--is burned and blessed by the druids in a ceremonial funeral of sorts. The sword Claíoglas is placed in the king's hands atop their chest prior to the burning, and is removed once the fire has subsided. It is thought that, because the sword takes on the strength of those it defeats, the strength of the fallen king is too imbued within the blade to be passed on to their successor. Now that the funeral is complete, a druid retrieves the blade and, after an oath of loyalty, passes it to the new king's head advisor, chosen before the ceremony but officially announced here. This advisor, having sworn the oath, then bows before the new king in a final act of symbolic passing, presenting Claíoglas to them and officially making them the ruler of Teltebhann. A celebratory feast usually follows, during which the royals and nobles all give their respects to the king and their fallen or retired predecessor.

Much of this tradition exists simply because it's what the previous coronations have been like. The origins of many aspects of the ceremony--at least, those that aren't pragmatic and obvious--have been lost to time.

11 December 2020
Many fairytales deal with actually historical people and events, albeit often embellished to make for more interesting stories. However many fairytales take place in a time before the Cladaige landed in Teltebhann. It is unknown whether these stories bear any resemblance to actual history, as any verifiable history from that time is completely lost, though the stories are certainly old enough. One of the most pervasive characters in these tales is Niamh [neev] Steel-Skin, a heroine responsible for many feats. Many of her stories center around her great strength, usually featuring an almost-equally-strong foe in the form of a monstrous creature, an evil spirit, or some sort of dark magical being. Also commonly and aptly present in fairy stories are strange and mysterious Fae creatures, who are said to aid Niamh in her feats.

12 December 2020
Pets are not very common in Teltebhann, particularly among city-dwelling commonfolk. This is because pets provide yet another mouth to feed, which isn't sensible for poorer households. Some pets, however, can actually pull their weight in certain households. Dogs, not native to Teltebhann and brought over from the mainland within the last few centuries, can aid in hunting and shepherding, among other activities. Because of this, there are now several unique dog breeds in Teltebhann, specially bred for these particular purposes. Some families in smaller towns keep a goat in their large backyards, mostly for their milk and to keep weeds from growing.

An interesting and uniquely common animal befriended by the Cladaige are hummingbirds. Native to a distant, unknown land, the first hummingbirds on the island actually came with the original Cladaige settlers almost a millennium ago. Once introduced into the ecosystem, they both created and rapidly filled a new niche, filling the entire island in under a century. This caused some ecological issues, though the hummingbird population has since settled into a more stable and less harmful state. Their most common aid in human affairs is to pollenate many different kinds of flowering plants, including apple blossom trees and flowers used for making dyes. These flower-based dyes are still somewhat expensive, although less so than in other parts of the world thanks to their abundance at the hands of the hummingbirds.

13 December 2020
The biggest market in Teltebhann is, shocking nobody, the city center at Glasdún. The capital's centralized location, political and historical importance, and large population all draw in much trade from around the kingdom. In recent years, however, Glasdún is seeing competition from the port town of Calagaineamh on the northern coast of the island. As international trade grows between Teltebhann and foreign powers, so too does Calagaineamh. Though not yet as massive, the portside market hosts a much more diverse array of goods from around the world. Time will tell which town will harbor the greater market in the end.

14 December 2020
Because bodies are traditionally burned in Cladaige culture rather than buried, there are with few exceptions no graveyards in Teltebhann. There are, instead, other ways of commemorating lost neighbors, friends, and family members. In towns across the kingdom, there are dedicated areas in which the bodies of commoners are burned. In these crematory yards are placed large stone tablets, which act as, essentially, community gravestones. The stone is laid horizontally on a pedestal near the dais upon which the bodies are cremated. When a body is burned in the yard, the person's name is carved on the stone (usually by a dedicated profession who has learned to read and write specifically in the old Cladacaint stone-script). It is thought that the marking of names allows the spirits of the fallen to find their way back to their hometowns and visit their living relatives. This is why the stone is oriented skyward--spirits are said to reside among the stars, so the words must be easily legible from above.

15 December 2020
It's been centuries since the final stand against the pirates of the Grey and South Seas (to the east and west, respectively), long enough that exact records of their nature have been brought into question. Some say the legends of feral, sea-tainted corpses are only that: legends. And yet, few have dared to test this theory by embracing the salt of the sea...

16 December 2020
Any visitor to Teltebhann must be wary of this one simple fact: "demons" derive from the sea. Sea monsters, sea sickness, the ancient and monstrous armies of the oceans; all are said to be born of the Sea's wicked powers. Even the monsters of the land--tainted Fae and feral animals--are in the control of the Sea. This is why pirates are so feared among the Cladaige. for only insanity could drive someone to willingly embrace such a fate.

17 December 2020
A traditional Cladaige funeral is rarely somber. The event is usually kicked off with a brief gathering of the attendees at sundown, during which they drink and catch up, introduce themselves to each other, or otherwise socialize and celebrate their fallen comrade. The body is then brought out into the crowd, wrapped in a tapestry-like burial shroud depicting the fallen and their notable traits and accomplishments in life; most of the images sewn into the shroud are symbolic, sometimes deriving from druidic astrology or runes. The shroud and the body together are also blessed by druids before being carried out by pallbearers, who lead the parade of attendees through the town to the site of cremation.

By this point, it is usually at least dusk, though sometimes fully nighttime depending on the length of the walk. Everyone gathers around, and as the shroud is first ignited, everyone cheers. The body burns away as the family and friends of the deceased begin the real celebrations, usually starting by singing a loud, upbeat ballad together. After a while, the funeral-goers make their way back to the site of the party, where they eat, drink, sing and dance, and generally have a fun and boisterous time. There is often much crying, though tears are rarely wept without the company of a smile.

The celebrations usually last long into the night. Funerals are usually held the day before Réaltalá, the weekly day of rest, so attendees of the funeral tend to sleep late into the day after such events.

18 December 2020
Although the Cladaige have always been united under a common origin, they haven't and still aren't a cohesive singular culture. Regions across the island have historically had their own distinct identity, even after the unification of the kingdom under the sword of the king. To foreigners, the cultural differences between each community are minute, but each of these sub-cultures is rather adamant about its distinctness from all the others. Differences can range between anything from dialect/accent, to diet, to clothing, to which gods are more commonly worshiped.

For example, the northern areas of the kingdom are more more commonly exposed to foreign commodities, such as different textiles and foods. This, alongside the greater trade activity, means the north sees more economic prosperity than the south. The northern coast also sees much more use of foreign languages, namely tongues like Dántaise, as facilitators of trade relationships. Because of this, the south tends to see northern communities, namely bigger cities like Calagaineamh, as somewhat snobbish and prissy. The inverse is true of the north; because the south is more distant from the ports in the north, and therefore from the trade of foreign goods and practices, tradition is held much more strongly there.

19 December 2020
"Poor" is a difficult thing to define in Teltebhann. Compared to the noble class, almost everyone is "poor." The vast majority of people--over 90%--have little money saved away, as they can hardly afford it. Fortunately, however, true poverty is surprisingly rare. Homelessness and hunger on the streets aren't exactly nonexistent, but the number of people who die as a result of these things is decreased by the efforts of the druids, who, among their other responsibilities, dedicate much time and resources to aiding the poor. Funds are raised to acquire food to be handed out to beggars, and many shrines are seen as places of refuge for those with no place to go, often housing warm fires and tents with bed rolls in which the homeless can sleep.

20 December 2020
While larger meals (whatever that means for individual households) are common on the weekly rest day of Réaltalá, true feasts are somewhat rare, specifically among the commonfolk. Few things warrant such large meals. Funerals and weddings, holidays such as Aoifalá, and particularly special events such as significant birthdays.

These feasts tend to feature a lot of the same delicacies: roasted or stewed mutton, sausages, vegetables like carrots and cabbages, and [relatively fancy] bread rolls. Drinks include fruit juices, ale or whiskey, and sometimes cow's, sheep's, or goat's milk. And of course, no feast is complete without a hefty dessert, with the most common desserts following a feast in Teltebhann being a black or white pudding, small cakes or biscuits, and certain sliced fruits (particularly foreign fruits, which are more expensive and less common).

21 December 2020
There are many monsters in Cladaige culture, many mythological but some real. One of the most legendary among them are the colossal beithígh scriosta [beh-teegh skree-oh-stah] , known internationally as "leviathans." These creatures are said to be monstrous, titanic, and completely ambivalent to the survival of other organisms, even to the point of cannibalism. Originating from the sea, and thought to be the most horrid and powerful servants of the ancient Sea God, old texts describe the largest of them as rivalling the volume of the King's Lake itself, though it is not known whether the creatures even existed, let alone if they were truly so enormous. What worries modern scholars, however, is that other cultures in the Sybjyr appear to have stories of frighteningly similar beasts with frighteningly similar destructive capabilities.

It has been many centuries since the last even remotely believable sighting of a leviathan, according to Cladaige records. Those who believe in them wonder what might have caused them to vanish, and more importantly, what could possibly be done if one should appear again.

22 December 2020
The population in Teltebhann has more often than not been on the incline. The rate of increase, however, has changed at various points in history, usually being very slight. Currently, the greatest population growth occurs in cities and larger towns, which act as trade hubs and experience the most economic stimulation. This allows families to grow larger. Farming families in smaller towns also tend to have large families, and always have. But as survival rates among children increase, many of these children must migrate to larger towns in search of work once they come of age (as ownership of the farm land is usually inherited by the eldest child, who go on to have their own kids to tend the farm). Because of these reasons, the farm-working portion of the population is gradually shrinking; the actual number of farms and farmers remains rather stable, but as time passes more people are taking up non-agricultural work. This shift is not extreme, though it has begun to lead to slight cultural shifts--education is slowly starting to become more common, as are certain trades and industries which are cradled in these growing urban environments.

The unfortunate truth is that the kingdom of Teltebhann covers a finite amount of land. Eventually, the population is going to grow to a point such that the land itself will not be able to sustain it. For any other culture, this may not be a problem. But the Cladaige have one major taboo: sea travel. To leave the kingdom, one must travel by ship. No one has done this in many years; those who have rarely survive long enough to return. Despite all this, there are those who wonder if embracing the seafaring habits of other nations may be the best option for the Cladaige, lest they fall head-first into a slow, excruciating population crisis. Besides, it's been centuries since the conflict with the armies of the Sea ended--might the curse on the Cladaige finally be lifted? No one yet has the courage or the drive to test this theory.

23 December 2020
Instrumental music is mostly practiced and performed by the nobility or by druids. On occasion, commoners can be found practicing simple instruments like ocarinas or other such flutes, though easily the most common musical "instrument" among the commonfolk is the human voice. There are songs for all sorts of occasions--work, weddings, funerals. But by far, most songs tell stories. Some are great ballads of heroes of old, others simple takes on normal everyday events. Many songs simply describe places and the things that occur there. These act almost as oral records of history, albeit slightly vague and simple ones. Though of course, their primary purpose is as a form of entertainment and fun. It's very common for partygoers at weddings and funerals to drink late into the night, all the while singing classic traditional songs together.

Different regions of Teltebhann host many different songs. When natives of these different regions drink together, it's not uncommon to engage in impromptu "sing-offs," in which the groups all take turns singing songs specific to their homelands. This activity has even occurred between Cladaige groups and visitors from certain foreign nations; language barriers when singing these songs add an interesting aspect to the whole thing.

24 December 2020
Tradition is highly important to the Cladaige, but only in certain aspects. For example, there are few traditional gender roles in Cladaige culture, particularly in more urban regions--people generally have the same rights, liberties, and opportunities regardless of gender. Homosexual couples are freely permitted to adopt orphaned children (both as a matter of social equality and pragmatism; those children need homes, after all).

However, there are other aspects of culture that rely rather heavily upon tradition, usually among the nobility but even among the commonfolk. For nobles, traditional clothing can be very important, as are many aspects of speech and behavior. In general, most ceremonial practices, such as weddings and funerals, are held in very traditional ways. These traditions may vary from place to place within the kingdom, which can lead to familial conflict if two people from different regions happen to start a family together; the couple is usually fine, but their extended families will often argue over whose traditions should be upheld.

25 December 2020
The artistic practices of the Cladaige have been rather well-preserved, however there are some pieces famous pieces that have been lost without a trace. One of these was called Ádh agus Blásta, or "Fortune and Bliss." It was a tapestry, woven in the early decades of the kingdom almost three centuries ago, depicting the first feast of the first King following his coronation. Legend has it the weaver was actually present at the feast, though this is still disputed by some academics. The tapestry passed hands numerous times, between nobles and scholars and druids alike, until at one point no one seemed to know where it had gone. There are several theories regarding its fate. Some speculate it may have been stolen or destroyed, others believe it was stashed away somewhere and can still be found. No one has seen it in almost a hundred years, though there are some art fanatics (mostly rich nobility) who have kept up the search.

26 December 2020
Cladaige druids are the closest thing to priests in the traditional religion of Teltebhann. But there are in fact priests of other religions present in the kingdom--or rather, one specific religion. Ántouist preists are some of the most common visitors and immigrants in Teltebhann, and have been for around 200 years since Martoise and Teltebhann first made contact. Unlike other places in the world, these priests are not treated as invaders, but welcomed as guests. In fact, the missionaries engage in many of the same humanitarian practices as the druids; that is, caring for the poor and the downtrodden. They have also taken up responsibility of sharing knowledge of the rest of the world, usually in the form of libraries or even schools for children.

The priests and druids maintain a healthy comradery, sharing philosophies and knowledge. They are the most likely to be fluent in each other's languages, and both groups are known to often act as translators between Cladaige commoners and Dántaise traders.

27 December 2020
There are few places in Teltebhann forbidden to commoners or trespassers, barring private homes and such. However, there are parts of the land that, while not out-of-bounds for the public, are to be preserved from careless or even malicious harm. These tend to be areas of nature yet untouched by human development, with the only exception being shrines. These areas are protected by the druids, and have been as long as anyone can say, even before the rule of the first Kings. Now, however, in the age of Kings, the conservation of sacred lands is a royal mandate.

28 December 2020
Shunning isn't a common practice in Cladaige culture in the modern day. Often it is for piracy, which is the greatest of crimes and taboos. There is, however, one person who has been all but cast out for something other than becoming a pirate: Senan of Ruán was once a well-respected scholar, even among the druids, who studied all things from history to anthropology to theology. However, in his studies, he slowly became convinced that the Ocean's Curse, the blight that prevented Cladaige sailors from leaving the island, may have been lifted. He kept this theory to himself until he had developed a plan to test it, but then he revealed his plan to the public. To be ridiculed would have been a blessing; instead, he became seen as dangerous to the safety of the kingdom. Many feared his radical ideas would spur the return of the Sea's malice. Senan lost all credibility as an academic and was forbidden from going near a port town--not by law, but by the threat of violence from the people. He has since fallen into obscurity, having retreated to a small home in the mining town of Marmairadh.

29 December 2020 (Hundredth post in the thread, ha!)
Children are as important to the Cladaige as they are to any other culture. Families who do have kids tend to have several, averaging two or three; this includes adopted children, who make up roughly an entire 1% of child-guardian relationships. Adoption is more than just common--it's actually in-demand in some areas, as families who can't have biological children (either because of infertility or, more likely, homosexuality) are incredibly common compared to other cultures, and the number of orphans is decreased by the humanitarian efforts of the druids. However this is, again, restricted to some areas. In others, orphanage is still rather common, in which case the children are taken care of directly by the druids in dedicated residences, until perhaps they are adopted one day into true families.

Youth in Cladaige culture ends at age 17, and it is at this point that children are said to become adults. The occasion is marked by a ceremony, often attended by friends, family (both extended and immediate), and even neighbors. During this event, young adult is blessings from a druid, words and prayers that are thought to bring good fortune and prosperity. Bestowed upon them then is a traditional earring, worn on one ear (which ear is of little meaning), formed of wood, metal. or sometimes bone or precious gems. The shape of the earring often conveys some symbolism, either a symbol of forward motion or a personal characteristic of the person. Common shapes are carvings of animals or particular druidic runes. Earrings made of gems don't often feature these details, instead usually holding symbolic meanings depending on the species of gemstone.

30 December 2020
The only "international" war Teltebhann has ever participated in was the conflict against the Pirates, which ended 289 years ago with the end of the fourth age of the Aiofan Calendar. However, that doesn't mean Teltebhann has been blessed with peace since the rise of the first King. During the decades following the start of the King's Age, some counties across the island refused to submit to the the rule of the monarchy. Most could be convinced, or otherwise easily forced, to yield. However, a small allegiance of counties put up a decent fight in the south. The conflict evolved into a brief civil war, lasting just under two years between 21 and 23 KA. Their armies fought well, but in the end the separatist movement crumbled when the counts leading them each tried to seize power over the others simultaneously.

31 December 2020
The biggest and most well-known party in the history of Teltebhann occurred at the end of the Pirate Wars. The story goes that upon hearing of their victory, communities across the island celebrated for several days on end, only stopping to sleep. However, there had been losses, and there was much work to do. But that's a story for another time...