|Common Names||Varallas Garda, Chain Men|
|Origins||Kintyr, Regalian Archipelago|
|Social Classes||Soldiers, Commanders, Guards, Sculptors, Weavers, Foresters|
|Major Cities||Carentot, Saintlonde, Brieuclonde, Guinlon, Roscoll, Morlaz|
The Breizh, more commonly known as the Varallas Garda, or the guardians of the Five Family Rebellion, are a military people hailing from the landmass of Kintyr in the Regalian Archipelago. The Breizh have a history spanning back centuries of folklore and superstition, rooted in being one of the first nations of people in the Archipelago. They also had a major impact on Regalian history, even though in modern times they have become largely antiquated. With a knack for storytelling and cultural expressions, the Breizh are some of the more restrained in public yet colorful in private Ailor people who take distinct pride in their cultural festivals and traditionalism from their isolationist attitude in their homeland. Together with the Heartland Ceardian and Anglian Cultures, the Breizh form part of the core Heartland Cultures that make up the large population basins of the Archipelago and the Empire’s capital lands.
The Breizh Culture is one of the oldest in the world, and its formation remains largely a mystery in the scope of Ailor cultural diversification because of the lack of a written form of their early Picaron language. Furthermore, the lack of folklore and state history concerning their Culture makes tracing their historical steps difficult. What can be said with certainty is that the Breizh Culture predated the Regalian Empire, and existed in the Archipelago for several decades at least, maybe even centuries, among the natives of the Kintyr landmass between Dragenthal and Gallovia, just north of the Crown Isle of Regalia. Before the fall of the Regalian Kingdom, this landmass was split between a few dozen petty kingdoms which ruled areas sometimes as small as valleys or as large as several hectares.
By the time of the Regalian Kingdom, the Breizh had gathered the reputation of being the main military arm of the Regalian Kingdom, which at the time used mercenary armies to supplement its own control over the smaller regions further away from the capital. The Breizh were easily distinguished from the other early Archipelago nations by their usage of chainmail, something the Breizh are credited as having invented and perfected in the decades before the Five Family Rebellion. By the time of this rebellion, the Breizh were poised to once more support the Regalian King in his campaign against the Five Families that rebelled in the periphery lands. For reasons unclear to modern history, however, the Breizh people stood by and did nothing while the militias of the Five Families tore through the Kingdom and toppled it. Later versions of history depict the Breizh as being struck by divine passivity. Some scholars speculate they were simply bribed, but this defamation is often deflected with glorious tales of emissaries of the Spirit descending in Kintyr in the form of the folklore Fae’s, and charging the people with supporting the Five Families.
It remains true that some Breizh bands did support the Five Families, which is why they are frequently shown in the background of paintings or depictions of the fall of the Regalian Kingdom. Because of their considerable military power, the Breizh were given a privileged position in the Regalian Empire that was being founded, becoming some of the first Ducal families of the Empire. For their part in the Five Family Rebellion (whether it was their inaction or participation), the Breizh people gained the nickname of Varallas Garda, a modern term to describe a particular type of heavily armored Breizh bodyguard decked from head to knee in chainmail with a bascinet helmet and a heater shield. Indeed, the concept of the Varallas Garda is frequently glorified among the Breizh people as if to identify themselves as something exceptional in the Empire’s history.
While the martial culture and presence of such bodyguards remain prolific among the nobility, the Breizh martial culture has long been overtaken by the massive population growths of the other regions, and the formalization of a standing army under the Imperial banner. In this sense, Kintyr has become rather backwater and the Breizh people remain stuck in past glories in terms of their relevance to Empire. This isolation has also allowed their Culture to continue flourishing since the early years, ensuring that many of their old customs remain in place. They are by far one of the least cross-pollinated Cultures that hold onto their old cultural ideals, even if their language has essentially been absorbed by Common. Kintyr remains the landmass with the highest density of castles in the Regalian Archipelago, and home to the largest number of private military bands and orders.
Language and Dialects
The Breizh speak a unique language called Picaron. Not much remains of the original proto-Picaron from before the Five Family Rebellion, given the language largely disappeared because of vocabulary borrowing from notably Highland Ceardian, but also Alt-Anglian and even Ithanian. The Picaron language has a word for almost everything, and some words that exist in other languages can be found in Picaron. Practically the entire population on the landmass of Kintyr speaks Picaron, though Anglian, Highland Ceardian, and Common are found frequently in the coastal settlements.
The few places where the old Picaron name still shines through is in toponyms and patronyms, which retain their folk-memories. Great examples of this are place names as many of the towns and places in Kintyr have suffixes that identify their status. For example, all normal villages have the suffix -bach, -baix or -bois, normal being classified as a village in varied terrain or lacking any key geographical identifiers. Every settlement near a river or stream has the suffix -bec, -beuf or -fleur, while villages in and around forested or hilly areas have the suffix -tot, -tan, -tuit or -thwaite, and finally, cities have the suffix -londe or -lon. Surnames of families are usually based on old family names. They can be categorized between either a place they come from (for example, “of Carentot” which translates to “of the town on the hill”) or a notable ancestor (for example, “of Bruce” or, “of Pethair”), however, the ‘of’ in these names is often dropped for simplicity’s sake. The notable ancestor category is frequently used, where an entire family chooses to be named after a specific noteworthy ancestor’s first name, exposing the Breizh predisposition to respecting and having the ambition to create a legacy for themselves and their ancestors.
Names among the Breizh are varied, but some may follow a common trend. Names are often taken from other Cultures (for example Theomar) and modified to fit the Picaron mold. For men, this includes shortening the name to an acceptable mold that fits all the syllable suffixes (for example, making Theomar into Theod), and then applying the suffix. For men, these suffixes are -ane, -ard, -tyr, -ael, and -air. For example, Theomar could become Theodane, Theodard, Theodtyr (where the d becomes silent), Theodael, or Theodair. Other examples are Mordair, Mordtyr, Rodane, Tristane, Tristyr, Petair, and so forth. For women, the principle is roughly the same, with the suffixes become -anne, -ardenne, -tirre, -aire and -die (pronounced as dee). This leads to names like Marianne, Maritirre, Louidie, Louianne, Saraire, Sardenne, Jenntirre, Jennaire and so forth (all based on Maria, Louise, Sara and Jenne respectively).
The Breizh have a unique naming principle for the elderly. When a person of the Breizh Culture passes the age of 70, their name suffix changes to -wyn for men, and -wynne for women. For example, 70 year old Theodtyr becomes Theodwyn, while 70 year old Maritirrre becomes Mariwynne. Why this notion exists is unclear from a historical perspective, but scholars have speculated that it is some form of elder respect and deference that is very prolific among the Breizh people and allows easy identification of venerable relatives. Inversely, children below the age of 2 have the suffix -wyr for men and -wyrinne for women. This would lead to names such as Theodwyr and Mariwyrinne for toddlers and babies. Scholars speculate that this tradition exists purely because of the high child mortality rate in early Ailor history, and the need for families not to leave a lasting stain of a child who could never grow up to an adult on the family banners.
Lifestyle and Customs
Breizh families follow the common Ailor nucleus of a monogamous couple which produces many children. What sets them apart from other Cultures however is their extremely strong connection to their parents. It is said that marrying a Breizh man or woman usually comes with marrying their parents and grandparents, who frequently move in with the married child (usually the oldest) and are expected to be taken care of. Furthermore, the youngest son or daughter also moves in with the sibling who has their parents and grandparents move in, with the expectation that the married couple will be the heads of the household, while the youngest sibling is expected to take care of the needs of the elderly, even if they are married themselves. As such, the concept of seniority among siblings is very strong among the Breizh. The oldest son or daughter, regardless of gender, have the authority over the entire family after marriage. Disputes in the family over finances are settled by the oldest married sibling, or the grandparents in case the oldest sibling themselves are involved.
One curious family-oriented cultural tradition of the Breizh people is the concept of the family banner. Every family (following the inheritance of the mainline) has a so-called Bayor Tapestry, which is a very long cloth or silken banner with embroidery telling of the family’s history. New pieces are often sewn onto the cloth each time a new generation is added, with embroidery telling the tales of their lives and achievements. This is largely why the Breizh did not have a written language for so long because they used a pattern of embroidery and braiding strips of cloth to transfer information, but these mediums were often too simplistic or biased to their own role in historical events to be used as a reliable source of information. Still, the Breizh take great cultural pride in their banners, even if some of them are decades or even centuries old and nearly falling apart at the seams. They are carried out and displayed in the home or simply hung on the wall as a tapestry, particularly during one of the many public holidays and festive days of the Breizh, but also when a court is held or the Breizh have some form of a public event to showcase their legacy.
The Breizh are a fairly reserved people, meaning they have a hard time opening up to strangers unless within the confines of extreme comfort in their own homes or with close friends. Their holidays, and especially their festivals, however are an extreme opposite of this. It is said that the Breizh have at least two festivals per month, up to 30 a year, with some festivals rotating several times a year. These festivals rarely have an actual specific date, and instead tied to months. This is because the Breizh frequently go to war, and festivals are inconveniently timed in the middle of a battlefield. As such, most families have separate dates for the festivals, some coinciding on the same date because they all fall in the same months. Below follows a list of all the festivals, which are formally known as Feasts:
- Feil od Etrat, the Feast of Lovers: The Feast of Lovers showcases expressions of love and passion among the Breizh people and it is one of the few times that it is permissible for the Breizh to express their love in public. This festival is held anywhere in January, April, August and December.
- Feil od Pete, the Feast of Angels: The Feast of Angels showcases the Breizh dressing as an Angel (either a Heron, living person, or a symbolic representation of an event or historical date), and parading through the streets in outfits. This festival is considered religious and held anywhere in February, March or September.
- Feil od Papillenuit, the Feast of the Black Butterflies: This Feast is a remembrance of the dead for the Breizh people, in which they carry around a sack of Black Cloth Butterflies and exchange these for praises to others. The common cultural norm is for the Breizh individual to give the butterfly to a friend or stranger, and ask for praise of words in return for their ancestors or deceased relatives. Those who refuse the butterfly are seen as insulting the Breizh culture and their heritage. This festival is held anywhere in February, March, November and December.
- Feil od Evrik, the Feast of the Banners: This Feast is a legacy praising event where all Breizh families come together in the so-called Hall of Banners (usually a large barn or large stone gallery) to hang their family tapestries and banners on the walls and ceiling, for others to look at. This festival is usually accompanied by speeches of praise for one’s ancestors and can be held anywhere in June or July.
- Feil od Brukchar, the Feast of Bridges: This Feast is seen as a festival to ward off evil. During this festival, it becomes illegal for Breizh people to cross bridges (as it is said that evil spirits live under the bridges) and the Breizh people have to patronize religious art by commissioning artists to create religious icons. It can be held anywhere in January, March and October.
- Feil od Piroux Lume, the Feast of the Towers of Light: This Feast has Breizh people ascend lighthouses and release red paper lanterns from the top in a large swarm that float up into the sky and drift on the ocean winds. The idea of this festival is to call home the lost souls of those who died in oceans across Aloria and to remember those who never returned home. This festival can be held anywhere in January or December.
- Feil od Carrout, the Feast of the Carrot: This feast dictates that for a week, the Breizh must eat nothing but carrots as a praise to the Angels of the land and to thank the spirits of the animals for plentitude in cattle. The Feil od Carrout is ironically finished with a massive meal consisting of roasted pigs and pheasants in such plenitude that some Breizh have been known to eat themselves to death. The festival can be held anywhere in March or October.
- Feil od Blax, the Feast of the Battling Fool: This feast has the Breizh dress up in silly Velheimer outfits that aren’t remotely combat effective or culturally accurate and mock the battle prowess of the Velheim in battles with no winners. Contestants usually beat each other senseless with clubs until both fall over, and plenty of alcohol is consumed and spilled to celebrate the Breizh participation in defeating the Skaggers. The festival is held anywhere in January, February and March.
- Feil od Piocke, the Feast of Picking Fish: During the Feast of Picking Fish, all Breizh use butterfly nets to catch fish from local rivers, stringing them by the tail on a rope and stringing said-rope above their doorway. It is said that Breizh towns smell of rotting fish during these festivals. The point of the fish on a string is to ask the Angels for blessings for battle. Those fish that have either rotted away the most or eaten the most by stray cats are considered the most blessed. The festival is usually celebrated in July, June and November.
- Feil od Monty, the Feast of the Pulling Mountain: The Breizh New Year doesn’t actually happen in December going into January, but in February going into March. During this festival, the Breizh challenge individuals to a tug of war with a rope. The point of this match is not to actually pull the rope to the side of the winner, but rather to cause the opponent to land their behind on the floor, or to fall over forward, or to let go of the rope. Winning such a match is considered good luck for the new year, and plenty of drinking is also engaged in during this festival. This festival is held in February.
The Breizh are a people with a strong Unionist faith (meaning very few Breizh do not follow Unionist doctrine), but they have a couple of cultural notions which make their interpretation different from more common practices, without treading into heresy. The Breizh believe in the concept of the emissaries of the Spirit, physical or non-physical representations (sometimes esoteric) that express the will or blessings of the Spirit onto the people. These emissaries are commonly called Angels in the Picaron language (a term which was also adopted by the Common language later), and roughly describes any divine act or expression that could be interpreted as coming from the Spirit. It’s important to the Breizh that they don’t specifically label these events, acts or things as individually holy, but rather choose to collectively read them as a general sign not specific to anyone and without a specific message. By claiming that these divine interventions are expressions of the Spirit without a direct benefactor, they are free to praise the glory of the Spirit in anything or anyone. This is how they avoid the heresy claim, which would usually be levied on someone who claims that the Spirit speaks specifically to them. A number of things can be described as Angels to the Breizh. Theomar’s ascension (as an event) was an Angel, every Heron of the Unionist faith is an Angel, the purple dome that protected Regalia from the undead hordes was an Angel, and even the restoration of the Emperor was an Angel as an event, while it could be argued that the Emperor is also an Angel aside from being the vessel of the Spirit. As such, living people can also be Angels, and the recent bulls declaring living Herons and the Blood of the Dragons declared these individuals as Angels as well, the latter which further melds into the established Breizh folklore of Dragons.
Literature and Folklore
The Breizh people don’t formally have any major literature, nor does Picaron actually have an officially supported written form. The Common alphabet is used for place markers and signs in Breizh towns and cities, while the only real literature anyone would encounter in Breizh is in so-called Bokh Holds, which are essentially small local libraries manned by Heartland Ceardian scholars who record the ongoings in Common. Despite the lack of literature among the Breizh people, there is a so-called Fable Movement which consists of a number of scholars and artists who travel the Breizh countryside in an attempt to record the hundreds if not thousands of fairy tales and superstitions among the many local villages. They experience a sense of urgency because with the lack of a written form for Picaron, many of these orally surviving stories can suddenly die out and be forgotten forever by an ill-timed war or disease taking the next generation and extinguishing a family line. The Fable Movement has as such produced a number of books called the Fable Volumes, which are encyclopedia-sized volumes which record all the tales and legends of a local area, usually sold in big book outlets in Regalia.
Breizh philosophy is fairly lacking, as their society is locked in a simple past that follows simple rules. As a result, the Breizh are staunch traditionalists, unchanging in their ways to the point that most in the wider Regalian Archipelago consider their lands to now be a backwater. Additionally, they are generally stubborn in their opinions due to years of traditional thought being spewed out by so many sources around them, and so can rub people the wrong way, further enforcing the ideas of their region as a backwater. It does not help matters that the Breizh believe in privacy, and therefore have been fairly isolationist when it comes to Alorian politics. As a result, their old role in the Regalian Empire’s military has been long replaced by New Regalians and more proactive parties, while their legacy as excellent guards has largely become just that, a legacy, and an activity that few Breizh engage in anymore. Instead, many are soldiers and serve in the Regalian Military, this activity possibly being one of their only occupations with the outside world. On a final note, they are also a very proud people, attached to their old successes and their glorious history, which further adds to their stubbornness should anyone seek to correct or clarify facts about events they were involved in, which they have often mythologized.
Breizh Culture is rich, with numerous tales and even personal legends and myths circulating in families, usually divided over three distinct categories. The first category is the folklore of Angels, personal experiences with the divine, and religiosity. The second category is the folklore of the Fae’s, similar to other fairy faiths of Aloria where the Breizh believe in the living element of all things natural. The final category is that of the folklore of Dragons, most of which is borrowed from Anglian folklore, but some of it also represents unique Breizh views and tales.
The folklore of Angels tends to be more about the personal convictions of the Breizh individuals, how they lived a life of sin and waste, had a personal experience with something divine, and then chose to mend their ways with zeal. These folklore tales are usually about ancient heroes blessed by some kind of holy vigil. A very popular tale is that of Arthair, the Knight of Callertot who was blessed by the Angel of the Lake with a holy sword, and smote the Vampires of Kintyr, making it one of the few regions in Aloria that is completely clean of the Sanguine curse. Another legend is that of the Green Knight of Parron, who slew invading Altalar slaver parties to protect his people. When he finally died on his olderwald throne, his armor and skeleton was claimed by the forest. The Green Knight’s armor still remains, seated on a throne of vines and roots in the Parron Abbey, and the sword of Arthair which still remains embedded in volcanic rock near the lake church; both places are in ruins as of modern times, but are still very popular pilgrimage locations for Breizh and other Unionists alike to praise the ancestors of the past and ask for blessings of virtue for themselves.
Fae folklore is a bit more subtle to the Breizh, particularly because the Unionist clergymen do not look kindly on such superstition. The Breizh people believe that every inanimate object has a soul or representation in some form as a spirit of Fae. For example, stones have Fae living in them, as do trees, plants, flowers, waterfalls and so forth and so forth. Expressions to praise the Fae for good will usually involve bringing food offerings to small candle lit shrines in the forest or on the edge of town, usually in a very subtle manner to avoid detection by the Unionist Inquisitors or Missionaries. In Kintyr, the practice is largely ignored by the clergy, knowing better than to draw the ire of the locals by treading on their traditions. It is common to find a shrine of some sort several times in every square mile of Kintyr forest, some abandoned for centuries and overgrown, some fresh and maintained. This is why many of the Kintyr forests are called the Fae forests, and are very popular among the Cielothar and Yanar as places to visit, because of their innate tranquility and beauty as well as their spiritual energies.
Finally, the last category of Breizh folklore concerns the Dragons. Much of the supposed early legends of Dragons are shared between Kintyr and Anglia, given that the Dragons frequented these regions mostly before they disappeared around Cataclysm. The Breizh speak of the Dragons as their personal representations as symbols, the pinnacles of strength, courage and resilience. It is said that the Dragons taught the Breizh to be brave with their sword. It is also said that the Dragons taught the Breizh to be faithful and respect the Fae’s of the world by showing them a world without them. And it is finally also said that the Dragons taught the Breizh to protect themselves in their absence, by teaching them the craft of Chainmail. Indeed, most of the Breizh folklore reflects upon the Dragons as if they were leaving the Breizh behind to steward the Archipelago, or at least protect something in Kintyr, but that over time, the lack of a written record among the Breizh people has either corrupted or caused these instructions to be forgotten. The revival of Dragonblood and recent events in Regalia have rekindled the Dragon folklore among the Breizh, curious to explore more about their past hidden in legends.
The Breizh also act as patrons of art, but usually only of so-called legacy art. Legacy art involves making statues and paintings of individuals who have achieved great things either in the present or past, but more frequently herald those who have passed with artistic displays. This often causes them to be contrasted heavily by the Imperial art style which favors statues made of living people. Regardless of this difference, Imperial sculptors and Breizh sculptors are famed and sought after for their unrivaled realism in face carving, and while Imperial sculptors specialize in realistic anatomy, Breizh sculptors focus more on realistic clothing folds and chainmail carvings. The Breizh are also noteworthy gargoyle carvers, having spent most of their skill in depicting what they consider the evil spirits or fallen Angels and Demons.
The Breizh have a great appreciation of the voice in music, and particularly use choirs (without instruments) or a-cappella groups to produce music through song. Instruments aren’t unheard of, but the Breizh simply appreciate particularly baritone and tenor singers more. Song can accompany any public or private activity, and one can often find a Breizh person humming some sort of Picaron tune or melody to themselves while engaging in other activities. It is said that even though the Breizh may sometimes be angry and wrathful people, a soothing deep baritone voice can cause them to pause, and instinctively hum along to try and create a harmony with the sound produced.
Breizh fashion is very similar to Anglian fashion, and in a way, extremely similar to Imperial fashion, which is why Breizh have no trouble connecting with the Imperial fashion ideals. The Breizh in battle obviously dress with chainmail, but outside of the battlefield, they consider the use of chainmail in daily lives to be distasteful. They frequently wear clothing with black or dark brown tones, decorated with either blue or green dominant colors, but avoid purple like the plague because they consider purple a purely Anglian expression. The Breizh wear much of the same as the Anglian upper classes, but may sometimes also be seen using a Highland Ceardian Kiltach on top of Anglian clothing, or any combination of clothing styles of the lands surrounding theirs.
Breizh men often cut their hair very short, preferring a military crop or style that suits the battlefield over more elaborate hairstyles. Facial hair is very common, and what styling in hairstyle exists is largely focused on facial hair as opposed to head hair. Breizh women also frequently have short hair, favoring something that doesn’t extend further down than the neck, and sometimes even male hairstyles, but rolled up braids into buns are also very popular. In general, the Breizh dislike long flowing loose hair, and abhor the idea of bangs, believing them to be very childish and naive. The Breizh are fairly homogeneous, appearing very similar to the Anglians with the jet black hair and blue eyes, but also having the additional features of dark brown hair and gray eyes. They tend to be more on the tall and broader side like Anglians, but prefer a greater sense of personal grooming and hygiene than the Anglians are known for.
Breizh architecture is simple yet lavish in its size. The common housing is almost entirely made of leistein, a cobble wall style, while their roofs are made of thin flat sheets of smooth stone that are carved out of layered rocks by the cliffs. This gives the Breizh villages a uniquely boring and gray appearance, with the only color being present in the grass that grows up the to the buildings. Breizh homes on the inside, however, are surprisingly comfortable with numerous rugs and skins decorating both floors and walls, the family tapestries and banners, and hunting trophies over fireplaces that are practically in every room. A Breizh living room is the same as a Breizh kitchen and pantry, meaning the Breizh are constantly surrounded by cooking and food smells. The major buildings of the Breizh are their large abbeys, churches and castles, which are generally considered the largest of their kind. While the Regalian style favors more thin and domed structures for height, the Breizh build in width with strong durable walls. Breizh architects are sought after by nobles far and wide to design their bastions, while Breizh masons have commonly been cited as designing and building the Kade Bastion, the largest stone fortification in the Archipelago.
Due to the isolated nature of the Breizh people and thus their Lordship of Kintyr, the region is almost like a black hole when it comes to merchants traveling to the region. Despite this fact, Breizh cuisine flourishes on local plant and animal life who the Breizh have mastered the use of. An example of this is Totaille Vacche, a dish made with all four chambers of a cow’s stomach and other body parts such as the hooves sliced up in a bed of various vegetables and other additives, and then sealed away for more than a dozen hours with constant heat. The bones and hooves that remain are then extracted so that the meal may be consumed. Salade Potatte, a potato and celery-based salad, is also commonly eaten. Then, in way of desserts, there is the Breizh Tart, an apple-based delicacy that can either be used to make small tarts capable of fitting into a hand or into large pies for more communal consumption. In the way of drinks, the society is known for their ciders, which are often used in their cooking.
- Breizh soldiers are frequently found among the Tenpenny armies alongside the Anglian soldiers. These non-Varallas Garda Breizh are commonly called the Derna Garda, to differentiate the modern Breizh who have abandoned their old bodyguard roots to become disciplined soldiers instead.
- Breizh homes tend to have a notorious draft, especially older homes which lack mortar or cement to hold the stone together. To compensate for this, Breizh usually wear more clothes at home, and subtle removal of clothing or opening of clothing while in the presence of others is seen as flirtatious as a result, which is often completely misread either by people of different Cultures, or when these people do these acts in front of the Breizh.