|Origins||Pach Lallach, Mannadh-Alba, Clannadh-Alba|
|Social Classes||Warriors, Shepherds, Hunters, Sailors|
|Major Cities||Drocharma, Talla nan Larks, Carn Rioghainne, Beinn Ardluss|
A far removed and individualistic Culture that finds its roots in an ancient people known as the Goedela, the Caeren Culture is likely one of the most basal of the Ailor Cultures in the Regalian Archipelago, holding firm to tribalistic views and established through centuries of warfare between individual clans, and harrowed by schisms of faith. The Caeren Culture has long dominated some northern regions of the Regalian Archipelago, such as the lands of Clannadh-Alba, Mannadh-Alba, and Pach Lallach and together with the Dunbrae Culture makes up what many Regalians refer to as the Highland Territories. The Caeren Culture finds itself constantly at odds with the world around it due to the fiercely independent nature of its people, and one that places immense value in individual and collective strength for societal advancement. and is a Culture in which only the strong will thrive. The Caeren Culture is a peculiar case in that their impact on Regalian history is something of a footnote. Due to their desire for the cessation of external influence, and tendency towards isolationism, the Caeren have made little impact on the world at large, and are plenty content to remain in their constant state of self-warring for many centuries to come.
The formation of the Caeren Culture cannot be placed to one particular time or focal point, but many indications point toward its inception shortly after the events of the Cataclysm, and the mass emigration of Old Ceardian settlers arriving in the Highland Territories of Mannadh-Alba and Pach Lallach. The ancient Goedlain people, forerunners of the Caeren, are said to have fought consistently with the Old Ceardian settlers, desiring to remain in their peaceful isolation. However, the Old Ceardians were dead-set on fighting for their place, and after some twenty years of fighting in the year of 23 AC, the two societies became at peace with one another, and their cultural traditions began to emerge in the formation of the Caeren Culture. A story is often told of the culture’s inception, citing that an Old Ceardian wrestler proved his worth and his strength to a judgemental band of Caeren travelers by wrestling a Gallovian Black Bear into submission. Observing the man’s incredible feat, the Caeren came together and asked to be instructed by the man, and the traditions and techniques taught in the School of Lecgaen began. It is because of this story, and its survival amongst the Stryngers of Lecgaen, that the School has held immense cultural ties amongst the Caeren.
The lands of Mannadh-Alba and Pach Lallach are viewed by the Caeren as the birthplace of their people, and many of their most notable and ancient historical sites are located there, far from the prying eyes of Regalian scholars who focus their studies on the land of Clannadh-Alba, which has long since become the focal point of the Caeren culture following the events of the Skagger Wars ranging from 68 to 179 AC. Following closely behind the sudden end to the Skagger Wars, the Caeren people found themselves divided by the influence and interactions with the burgeoning Regalian Empire. Many Caeren found themselves admiring the grandeur and civility that was offered by the Empire, and chose to adopt a more similar way of life inspired by their Regalian neighbors, as both a gesture of gratitude for their aid in combating the Skagger Hordes, but also as a means of shunning other Caeren. As many had turned and departed back to Mannadh-Alba and Pach Lallach when the first of the raiding parties struck their shores, and the interactions with the Regalian Empire began. These Caeren who stayed in these settlements in Clannadh-Alba gradually became known as the Dunbrae, seeking to distance themselves from their Caeren roots and embrace the Imperialized way of life, though they did not abandon their roots entirely. This cultural rift that formed in Clannadh-Alba would soon become a turning point for both the Caeren and the newly developing Dunbrae Cultures.
With the adoption of Unionism by many Dunbrae, influenced by the sway held by the Regalian Empire, and disenfranchised with their previous roots in Old Ceardian-influenced paganism, or Creideamh Spiorad, a religious schism began to form in Clannadh-Alba. In 195 AC the first battle was fought between the more organized Dunbrae levies and the more rag-tag and one-the-spot skirmishers mustered by the Caeren in an event known as the Donnachad Massacre. This event rocked the foundations of many Caeren beliefs, after many years of unbroken isolationism and seeming imperviousness to external influence, the Caeren were now faced with an internal foe in the Dunbrae, supported with weapons and technology provided to them by the Regalian Empire. The Donnachad Massacre sparked a chain of events that would become known as the Caeren Clearances, a string of border skirmishes that more often than not resulted in the overwhelming victory of the Dunbrae due to their adoption of more formal tactics and higher-quality military hardware due to their trade with the Regalian Empire. Unlike their Dunbrae cousins, the Caeren of Clannadh-Alba received no such aid and were forced to secede land constantly, their frontline forced to retreat for years until the year of 237 AC, 42 years into the war. The appearance of an individual known as Airdhan MacDomnhall marked the turning point of the warring between the Caeren and Dunbrae, in what seemed like a matter of months the Caeren had managed to scrape themselves out of being pushed from Clannadh-Alba completely and started to regain territory under his leadership and drilling, Airdhan rallied their bundles of scattered men willing to fight and arranged them into an organized force and taught them in his beliefs of strength, and his almost endless devotion to his brothers in arms, and the formation of the School of Airdh-Rossahn occurred in 240 AC. With a more organized force in their lands and morale regained off of the high of several consecutive victories over the Dunbrae, the Caeren looked towards the reclamation of lost ground, and weren’t above scorching the earth and slaughtering the livestock of the Dunbrae to gain the upper hand, reminding their cousins of how a true Caeren wins his fights. The war finally came to a close following the events of the Battle of Talla nan Larks, resulting in a stalemate between the two largest armies the factions had mustered in all 45 years of fighting, after a grueling battle, and hardly any leeway is given by either side, the Declaration of Kir na Calle was signed, and the war came to a close, the Caeren and Dunbrae enjoyed a period of relative peace in their territories in Clannadh-Alba, and it would be some years before the two cultures started to embrace one another as sisters once again, though religious tensions in the region will likely never see a reduction.
With the lands of Clannadh-Alba firmly reunited in culture yet fractured in their ability to produce with the scars left by the Caeren Clearances and the ramifications of warring on such a grand scale, the people of Clannadh-Alba were forced to turn to external sources for trade, and a primary partner in such came in Gallovia. Whilst the lands of Clannadh-Alba were fairly strapped for provisions, it was in the kindnesses provided by their cousin Dunbrae that had since migrated to Gallovian territories that sent in humanitarian aid and supplies, as well as aid in the form of grain loans supplied by the Anglians that Clannadh-Alba began to properly rebuild itself, and the Caeren residing there began to host more confidence in the Regalian Empire as a whole. But such was still a paltry reason for convincing the more stubborn Mannadh-Alban and Pach Lallachian Caeren, who were still having none of this foriegn involvement. In stark contrast, however, the more Dunbrae-dominated Gallovian lands gladly joined hands with the Regalian Empire, pridefully standing alongside the further expanding power, and maintaining their Sovereign freedoms. It wasn’t until incredibly recently that some regions of Mannadh-Alba and Pach Lallach fully ceded themselves to the Regalian Empire, and remain staunchly independent and detached from political and economic affairs regarding the Regalian Empire as a whole beyond the provision of soldiers for the Imperial Armies, as the fiery spirit of Caeren soldiers make for excellent shock troops.
Current situation in Clannadh-Alba
In recent times, the Caeren have experienced a boom in their populations due to increased trade with the Regalian Empire and the introduction of greater advancements in the fields of weapon craft and medicine, allowing the Caeren to be more efficient, and more merciful in their almost constant state of internal struggling between clans. The lands of Clannadh-Alba especially are recovering after their many years of being ravaged by war, only held back by the poor financial state of the Regalian Empire, unable to provide the humanitarian aid it once did. The Caeren, hand-in-hand with the Dunbrae, are a people rebuilding after centuries of strife, and will likely maintain such a path for many centuries to come.
Language and Dialects
The Caeren people speak Goedlaic, a tongue known for being as old as the oaks of the forests. So old in fact, it predates the Culture itself. Folk legend has it that it was adopted from the Goedlain peoples, a band of primitive barbarians who the early settlers of Talahm Gall and Mannadh-Alba traded with regularly. Taking on influence from the language of the Velheim and Ceardian immigrant’s tongues, Goedlaic soon grew to become the common tongue between the two peoples. While the Goedlain people vanished, absorbed into greater Caeren society, they live on in the speech of their ancestors. Each of the great Clans of the region boasts their very own dialect of Goedlaic, forming local words that may come off as foreign to any note of their people.
Having no written words or alphabet (beyond the phonetic spellings brought about by outsiders seeking to document the language), Goedlaic speaks with the greatest stress usually placed at the start of the word, before tailing off towards the end. It is because of this that many who are unfamiliar with the Caeren and their language believe them to be nothing more than screaming barbarians. Yet, those that take the time to ease into the tongue come to find beauty in the rolling waves of a Goedliac phrase. Although Goedlaic stands as the most popular Language amongst the Caeren by far, many locations in the lowlands and borders with Gallovia and Clannadh-Alba have a higher than average population of native Common speakers, who sound nigh-indistinguishable from their Dunbrae cousins (although with even stronger twangs, making many Dunbrae dub the Caeren “bampots”). And those who aren’t native to the Common tongue are usually forced into learning from circumstance, thanks to the Dunbrae who dominate the higher-up positions of industry. Despite this, they remain reluctant to drop the Goedlaic tongue, believing there to be no greater insult against those who had come before.
The Caeren peoples have great respect for their ancestors, and there is no greater example of this than in their naming. It is rare to find a Caeren whose name is not shared with that of a great ancestor in the family line, be it their grandfather, parent, or someone older. It is because of this that many cousins share each other’s names, leading to many a comical mix-up that the Caeren takes in stride. These given names usually lack a unified spelling (and in many cases resemble abridged Ceardian names with some outliers), due to the absence of a written alphabet of the Goedlaic language, and as such there exists countless variations of the same name, although spelled somewhat differently when placed in the common lexicon. For example, both Daibhidh and Daidh sound out the name “David”, despite their apparent differences. As such, it is not uncommon for a foreigner to entirely mispronounce the name of a Caeren, which is swiftly met with correction and threats from the Highlander. A Caeren’s last name is usually derived from their place of birth, with the prefix “Mac” or “Mc” attached, meaning “of” in the Goedlaic tongue. Yet, it is not uncommon for some Caeren to instead take the ancestral home of their family as a surname, rather than where they live now. For example, a Caeren born in Kinwry may instead adopt the surname of MacDrocharma rather than MacKinwry, paying homage to those who came before them. Some common Caeren names are listed below:
Caeren law and its intricacies came as a direct result of the cultural value for hard work and the general hardships given to the Caeren through their ancestral lands. Surprisingly, Caeren have an incredibly low crime rate, as the sheer amount of labor necessary for criminal acts is enough deterrent for people to avoid doing most forms of theft or vandalism. The principal laws of Caeren Law are recorded below.
- Caeren villages have an official named the Ard-Oifigear, referred to by outsiders as the Bailiff and colloquially as the Chief, which functions as a sheriff of sorts to decide on the severity of punishments and manage the more complicated cases to ensure penance is given effectively. In recent years, a Chief is also expected to champion better working rights through frequent discussion and scoldings toward the “big man”. The Bailiff is usually closely connected to their village’s warriors as well and is expected to choose a posse of two to five well-trained warriors to assist them in the carrying out of their official duties. As a result, some villages have Chiefs that govern for their entire lives, while other villages have the seat constantly shifted around. Once the election is called, the Bailiff is expected to choose a time at which all members of the village will be free, where they shall then lead them to the outskirts where the most cairns were built. If the Bailiff has died or is otherwise incapable of doing so, the person who called the election shall do so themselves. Candidates will step forward, and then debate with the villagers on how they could do better than the current Ard-Oifigear, or simply do better in their own right. Should the Bailiff be in attendance, they will then step forward and counter these points outright. Afterward, the voting process begins, which is entirely dependent on the size of the village. Smaller villages vote for all the candidates all at once, while larger villages pick the two to three candidates that gained the highest number of votes and have a final face-off between them. Afterward, whoever wins is expected to host a humble party of some kind before immediately getting to work the next day. There is technically no ‘opening day’ for elections after a new Bailiff is sworn in, but it is societally expected that the Bailiff and caller will only place election requests a month after they have taken the seat.
- Crimes in Caeren villages usually lead to exile, though not in the traditional sense where the criminal is expected to never return. Exiles can last anywhere from an hour to the rest of someone’s life, as the exile is expected to complete a task outside of the village before returning. This is usually the erection of a cairn some distance away from the village, with both the distance and height being entirely dependent on the crime committed. For the duration of their exile, the Caeren sheds everything related to their family, which for many Caeren means even their first name as it was inherited from an ancestor. Though all these things are all returned when they complete their task.
- Caeren villages do have a death sentence, called a Deuchainn Andàn or Life’s Challenge, though this is reserved only for the rare case of serial murders and is still treated under the exiling rules. The offending party is sent on what amounts to an impossible task, such as building a cairn that reaches the clouds or fighting a beast that doesn’t exist. In rare cases, the Deuchainn Andàn is actually completed, in which case the killer is actually allowed to return to the village, though their family can simply choose to not return their name and belongings if they decide they would still rather not be associated with them.
- Rather than submit to the judgement of the Bailiff, an individual Caeren can decide to settle matters of theft or harm brought to their family by challenging the offender to a duel, referred to as Ceann-Aird an Fiann, or “Fight for one’s Head”. These duels do not usually end in death, as while usual laws against violence are upturned to allow them to pass, laws against murder are not, and should the duel result in death the killer is punished accordingly. This duel expects that whatever was taken through the crime is returned twofold. For instance, if a pig is stolen, two pigs are expected to be given in return, or if a family member was killed two are expected to work in their place for a certain amount of time. Should the offender win the duel, they are absolved of their charges, which means most Caeren do not claim dueling rights unless they are certain they can win.
Lifestyle and Customs
“A Caeren who does not pull their weight is no wean of mine” is a proverb spoken by many a parent to their slacking children, yet such a viewpoint is rife amongst the peoples. The Caeren are no strangers to physical labor, and in many cases revel in the chance to develop and showcase their warrior’s strength and resolve through such. So long as there is worthy and equal enough pay involved, that is. And such is respected by the Caeren, always paying others their just deserved. Yet, such is not quite respected by the neighboring Dunbrae, who have grown notorious for their poor treatment of the hardworking Caeren who keep much of their industry afloat. Lumberjacks, hunters, laborers, and shipwrights who have immigrated to Gallovia and Clannadh-Alba have found themselves placed in this reluctant state of dependency, where they must continue to work the abhorrent hours demanded by the Dunbrae foremen to fuel their booming industry, only to receive just a fraction of the profits. Yet, they find themselves unable to leave, as doing so would likely force them and their families out into the streets.
As a testament to their resilience, the Caeren keep in at their work, hoping that one day, they will receive their fair share of the fruits of their labor. The Caeren living free of what some may call “voluntary enslavement” feel great sorrow for their lost kin, and share tales of their entrapment to the youth who may wish to find a better life in more civilized lands. This Caeren working class within Dunbrae society has led to quite the curious mix between the lower classes of the Dunbrae society, where both sides share and consume in each other’s culture. A sort of camaraderie is found between the two groups, fostered by their quiet hatred for the “big man” (slang for the person in charge, regardless of gender).
Caeren families are large and remain in contact regardless of how large they may become. Caeren are expected to have many children, as harsh conditions make it unlikely that all will survive if they are not strong enough. These children are also expected to grow closer together for efficiency’s sake, and when those children grow and have children of their own they are expected to keep close contact with their family one way or another. Many Caeren have long-reaching goliaths of family trees sprouting from many a heroic ancestor. Caeren, despite their child-rearing focus in families, does not actually have a disdain for same-sex couples nor do they push for them to engage in polygamy to reproduce. Children are often left without parents in Caeren villages, usually due to hunting trips that went wrong or small-scale conflict, and same-sex couples are usually societally pushed to adopt in the same way that heterosexual couples are pressured to reproduce.
The Caeren emphasis on familial strength often leads to some particularly harsh habits with regards to their Pagan faith, engaging in rituals where newborn children are judged by the Clan’s Lair-Chith, or Speaker of Peace, if said children are deemed to be unworthy investments of the family produce and time, they are often taken into nearby mountain ranges and forests and presented as offerings to the Guardian Spirit of the Mountains, intending to return the child’s spirit to the world around it so that it may prosper in the Realm of Spirits. This practice has been outlawed in numerous Unionist-dominated settlements due to the act flying in the face of the Great Way and the Unionist belief in childrearing.
Gender Roles amongst the Caeren people are particularly diverse and stratified, but also vary from village to village, where one town may have a distinction with women as their housekeepers and men as their warriors, the inverse could be said for a village that neighbors theirs. This fluid shift of familial roles comes with a particular focus on strength and power within the household, it is not uncommon for a woman to take charge of a village or a home if she carries a stronger presence than the men. In a particular sense, it is sometimes said that Caeren people hardly even see gender as a divisive factor, both men and women have their roles in siring and raising children, and both are plenty capable of serving any role in the household. Caeren families are a particularly meritocratic construct, with one gaining more sway in the household should the Patriarch or Matriarch recognize the efforts one makes to better the lives of the family, be it through victory in battle, haggling good deals at local markets, or working the fields and tending the cattle for much longer periods. One’s standing in the family is strongly related to the amount of work they put into the household; the more work one does, the more benefits one gets, and the inverse is true as well. It is fairly common for particularly lazy Caeren to be forced to sleep outside, a harsh punishment given many Caeren keep their cattle indoors, this consideration for hard work and nigh merciless punishment of laziness is performed regardless of one’s gender, as the Caeren firmly believe that all members of the family have a purpose to serve, and should serve it or be punished for their laziness. Due to this, it’s often joked that Caeren do not even consider gender a construct at all, but this is wholly untrue.
An integral part of the Caeren Culture is the concept of a Skeamdh, an organization or gathering of Caeren from the same region or town that come together to engage in friendly competition to garner brotherhood and regional pride amongst themselves. The Skeamdh is a function that arose with the growing popularity of the School of Airdh-Rossahn, originally as a means of gathering initiates of similar skill together and raising them on principles of collective responsibility, fraternity, and collaboration with one another, whilst also instilling an incredibly strong sense of pride in one’s homeland and their family. Outside of the Airdh-Rossahn, Skeamdhs have become a great part of their society that has seen villages rise and fall in status over the many years, and come in many different varieties based on the structure and whims of the villagers that create them. For example, Skeamdhs in mountainous regions may partake in activities such as trekking, climbing and mining, whereas Skeamdhs in coastal regions may partake in fishing, swimming and sailing. Neighboring towns in similar terrains will often compete amongst themselves in such activities in order to determine which village is superior. It is these grandiose competitions of resilience and strength that drive their popularity amongst the Caeren people, as a testament to their inherent hardiness and fiercely competitive nature, but also as a means of acting in defiance of the elements by virtue of one’s confidence and reliance upon their Skeamdh-Bhraithrean, (quite literally their Skeamdh-Brethren, as one’s Skeamdh is often regarded as one’s second family).
Skeamdhs are an incredibly important and sensitive affair in the Caeren society, and warring has broken out between clans after particularly decisive victories. Born through one Skeamdh’s bitterness at the loss to another, these competitions are fierce and in rare circumstances, may become deadly if left unchecked. Due to their barbaric nature of typical Skeamdh activities, Dunbrae seldom participate in them in a normal fashion, and instead opt to mildly tone-down and bastardize the initial concept to suit their more refined tastes, often including tepid competitions of hunting (that typically become grand escapades of valor given the rough terrain and fauna of the Highland regions), engagements of fencing, jousting, wrestling, and climbing are found in Skeamdhs mostly consisting of Dunbrae men, and whilst the women are similarly inclined to such rigorously physical sports, many often choose to take up more calm and relaxing competitions, in particular, they engage in competitions of dance and song. Skeamdhs of men and women are most often seen separate due to the differing interests in the activities undertaken, but finding a mixture of genders is not at all uncommon.
The Caeren follow the Creideamh Spiorad Faith, a complex branch variant of the Old Gods faith that came about as an amalgamation of Old Gods and the ancient Goedlain faith, with the two Cultures coming together to establish the faith alongside the foundation of the Caeren Culture. As a faith, it has grown and developed with the people that practice it but has never taken off beyond the lands of the Caeren. Unlike the Old Gods faith, however, the Creideamh Spiorad completely lacks any form of deity, and instead orients itself around the uncertain but eternally vigilant nature of the Spiorad, or Spirits, that reside in all things, living and nonliving, animate and inanimate. The Spirits are looked upon with fondness and respect but are not worshiped in the traditional means, and more often than not the Caeren find it insulting to the Spirits to deify them, and instead deem the more fitting means of acknowledging their influence is to carry out one’s daily duties with the Spirits in mind. To the Caeren, the Spirits inhabit four individual realms, each governed over a particular Dìonadair, or Protector Spirit, and each Spirit residing in each realm will serve a purpose in the said realm. The Dìonadair are as follows:
- Protector Spirit of Water, Eanach-Muir, is known as the Wave Watcher and presides over all Spirits in the Realm of Water. Eanach-Muir is often depicted as a horse-like creature found grazing upon the mosses that grow along rocks by the water’s edge, and those that praise Eanach-Muir often adorn themselves with small amounts of decorative pebbles and mosses sewn into their clothing that are gathered from river estuaries and the many pebble-beaches that lands such as Pach Lallach are known for. The tale of Eanach-Muir is told in many different accounts, with variations naturally occurring from village to village, as no written accounts of the original written tale exist, but it is cited that the tale of Eanach-Muir speaks of adherence to one’s fate until a point where they will find their individual freedom to roam and seek out a path of their own, it is a solemn tale that is often used as the foundation of the Caeren’s typically very dutiful and hardworking nature, but also a testament to their stubbornness and resistance to change.
- Protector Spirit of Mountains, Beinne-Stuir, is known as the Cliff Claimer and presides over all Spirits in the Realm of Mountains. Beinne-Stuir is depicted as a great and lumbering man-beast with a goat’s head who can be found wandering the caves, cliffs, and forests of the mountainside and is regarded as the most ‘active’ observer over his Realm, whilst the other Protector Spirit are often regarded as being indifferent to the machinations of the world around them, much more content to simply observe the world as an audience, without interfering. Beinne-Stuir’s tale is often used to teach young Caeren concepts of caution and cowardice with tales of awareness of one’s surroundings and acceptance of one’s set boundaries, as it is said that should a wayward soul find themselves in a grove of Beinne-Stuir, they will find themselves stricken to take up his image, and be forever cursed to roam the mountainsides in service to Beinne-Stuir’s machinations in the realm of mortals as the Url. This is not explicitly a negative connotation, and can sometimes be considered being revered as servants of the great Cliff Claimer.
- Protector Spirit of Skies, Greine-Faire, is known as the Sky Searcher and presides over all Spirits in the Realm of Skies. The Greine-Faire is often depicted as a great Fire-tail Paradise Bird, with exuberant colors reflective of the rainbows and orange skies it brings in its wake, as the parter of clouds and the bringer of the rains for harvest. Those that choose to praise Greine-Faire often wear hats of a brilliant blue and have a penchant toward using crude Sapphire in their jewelry, particularly in the form of the Cormgaltach, a necklace and anklet fashioned of leather string bound around a single Sapphire disk with a hole bored through the center, that is worn at all times the faithful in question is exposed to the sun and the sky. Greine-Faire’s tales often deal with concepts of sexuality and maturity, in which the Greine-Faire itself is depicted as an infantile Protector Spirit in comparison to the others, and is encouraged to learn and embrace its duties by its elders, most commonly Beinne-Stuir. Greine-Faire’s tales are often used to inspire feelings of discipline and morals of obedience into Caeren youth from a young age, telling them of the disaster that comes with incompetence and defiance of their family, but also telling them to embrace their freedoms and desire to express who they are.
- Protector Spirit of Flames, Lasair-Dahn, is known as the Flame Fanner and presides over all Spirits in the Realm of Embers. The Lasair-Dahn is often depicted as a heart of embers, found deep within the origins of a flame, the heart of life, and an inspirer of passionate growth. Those that choose to praise Lasair-Dahn often dye their hair in fiery tones, whilst also adorning their shoulders with what is known as a Cleo-Itaig, a mantle of feathers each dyed red, blue, orange, and yellow that is worn around the shoulders and fixed in place with a woven leather binding and a Bandsa-Fel clasp of carved charcoal. The primary tale told of Lasair-Dahn is of conquest and virtue, commonly harkening back to the days of the Caeren-Dunbrae wars and the uprising of Airdhan Mac Domnhall, regarding him as a shepherd and visionary of Lasair-Dahn, though many villages speak of their own tales of conquest on the much smaller and direct clan fronts, as such, Lasair-Dahn is often strongly associated with the ides of war, victory, and their tales speak of grand escapades, valor, and military tact.
Then exist the Dìonadair-Fal, or the Lesser Protectors, the adjutants to the primary Dìonadair of each individual realm, and, like the Dìonadair, the only other Spirits whose descriptions and means of praise and offerings are almost absolute, with mild traditional differences from village to village. The Caeren often rely on the guidance of a Great Speaker, or Lair-Inniel to determine the meanings behind the messages sent by each of the Dìonadair-Fal, relying on them for their interpretations of the often cryptic (and occasionally blatantly obvious) needs of the land surrounding them to satisfy the Spirits. It is said that now two Lair-Inniel never agree in their interpretations of these messages, and as such, most villages limit themselves to a single Lair-Inniel to prevent a schism in the village.
- Lesser Protector of Oceans, Migrur, is often regarded as the spiritual embodiment of Freedom, Possibility, Uncertainty, and Emptiness, and is said to appear to faithful in the form of a giant whirlpool indicating times of crisis and unrest, and as a plentiful school of trout or salmon indicating times of plenty and celebration. Praise is given to Migrur by swirling one’s drink before sipping it to create a whirlpool in their drinking vessel, as such is seen as providing Migrur with a taste of one’s beverage.
- Lesser Protector of Rivers, Tarmid, is often regarded as a spiritual embodiment of being bound to one’s Fate, a collector of Stories and bringer of feelings of Certainty, and is said to appear to faithful in the form of a great boulder or sediment damming a river mouth indicating times of crisis or unrest, and as a fallen tree bridging a wide river indicating times of plenty and celebration. Praise is given to Tarmid by digging ditches and gutters so that bodies of water, from puddles to rivers, may flow towards a destination. Such is seen as praise to Tarmid as it aids Tarmid in defiance of stagnation and idleness by permitting the water to flow freely towards a new destination.
- Lesser Protector of Sparks, Sradadh, is often regarded as a spiritual embodiment of Dutifulness, War, Uprisings and revolutions, and is said to appear to faithful in the form of a tree struck into char by lighting during a storm to foretell times of crisis or unrest, and as a torch lighting the path into a dark world in times of plenty and celebration. Praise is given to Sradadh by lighting fires and cremating bodies in funeral services, as such practices are viewed as acceptance of Sradadh’s guidance into a dark future, and bringing a sound conclusion to the story of another, and allowing them to continue as Spirits dutiful to Sradadh, to guide the way of their kinsmen from the Realm of Flames. Direct praising to Sradadh is discouraged by the Dunbrae neighbors of the Caeran, as their usually inflammatory, sometimes even Jacobin rhetoric can bring about some aristocratic worrying.
- Lesser Protector of Kindling, Ibhneill, is often said to represent notions of Warmth and Comfort, feelings of embracing one’s family and tradition, and as the foundation upon which all new things are created and appears to faithful as a mysterious and unknown figure looming in the woods and the shadows of the campfire lights to foretell times of crisis and unrest, and as the cry of a newborn child to foretell times of celebration and plenty. Praise is given to Ibhneill by the creation and burning of wooden totems over a roaring campfire, and through a ceremony engaged in by some young Caeren, who might receive a brand on their right shoulder that signifies their individual callings in life, be it as a craftsman or a warrior (and often take the shape of one of the many Spirits). Such practices are viewed as offerings and duty to Ibhneill, by embracing the cycle of creation and destruction and dictating the path that young Caeren will take, ensuring that they will endeavor to create something of themselves in their lives.
- Lesser Protector of Grains, Coirce, is often said to represent the concept of Tools and the Harvest, the Lesser Protector of all things practical and ingenious, and as such is the most man-made concept of the Caeren, and the only Lesser Protector that is also respected by the Dunbrae as the Spirits of all that is created and invented. Coirce appears to faithful in the form of a broken grain scythe or shattered flail chain to foretell times of crisis and unrest, and as an oat plant that yields fifty-three grains to foretell times of celebration and plenty. Praise is given to Coirce yearly by engaging in what is known as the Dansabuinne, or the Dance of Harvest, that is performed yearly in October, in which entire villages will come together and dance and sing as they work the fields, before feasting on grain-based foods for the following three days. Such practices are viewed as a celebration of the gifts of the land, and offering praises to the lesser Spiorad of the Oats and the Wheat for sustaining the mortal people, but also to the Lesser Protector of Grains for guiding the Spiorad of Oats and Wheat into such duties, and the creation of bread and pastries is said to greatly amuse Coirce.
- Lesser Protector of Game, Fèidhar, is often said to represent the life of the Wilderness, the singing of the birds in the morning and the baying of the hounds during Hunts, but is also the Lesser Protector of games and entertainment, and is the only of the eight to serve such a dual-purpose, as the occupations of Hunting for Game and Hunting for Survival are two paths that often intertwine. Fèidhar appears to the faithful as a Deer or elk with two antlers, each with eleven tines to foretell times of crisis and unrest, and as an arrowhead that splits from the shaft and embeds itself in a target in times of celebration and plenty. Praise is given to Fèidhar through the sacrifice of the first catch of fish or first kill of game of the day, in which the animal or fish is laid to rest where the hunter stood when the killing blow was dealt. The animal is bled out by slitting the throat and the blood is used to fertilize the ground, and the fish or animal’s body is set atop a pile of rocks for wandering bears and other natural predators. Such practices are viewed as an apology for ending the life of an animal by further aiding in the growth of plants in the soil, exchanging one life for another, and providing for those predators that the Caeren took from by hunting in the wilderness that wasn’t their own.
- Lesser Protector of Clouds, Sgòthan, is often said to represent the concept of Eternity, the belief that all things will pass, but will never end, and notions of Timelessness and Apathy, and appears to faithful in the form of a great cloud barrier in the sky that persists for more than three days to foretell of times of crisis and unrest, and as a vast starlit sky during the night to foretell of times of celebration and plenty. Praise is given to Sgòthan through the creation of Cairt-Slighe Rionnag, or the Starpath Charts, paintings on the walls of caves or stones of the constellations of the night sky, that are then buried in the ground to be preserved for many years to come, such practices are viewed as an acknowledgment of Sgòthan’s guidance and submitting those instructions to the realm of Skies and Eternity, preserved in the ground for future generations to rediscover.
- Lesser Protector of Rainbows, Datharn, is often said to represent the concept of Spontaneity, the belief that actions taken in the moment will be regarded in the annals of history and memory forever, no matter how brief, and the thought that the Brevity of something enjoyable will make it more memorable than something eternal, as such, practices to praise Datharn are often opposites of practices to praise Sgòthan. Praise is given to Datharn through the act of donning colorful garb and dancing joyfully throughout the streets of the faithful’s particular town or city with the intent of inspiring others to dance too, it is believed that Datharn dances alongside those groups in a sudden moment of joy and togetherness, and it is seen as a terrifying omen should nobody join the original dancer. Another method of praise of Datharn is in fighting, be it clean fencing or mud fighting, picking a fight with another and fighting one’s best fight brings much pleasure and entertainment to Datharn, and pursuing friendships out of those fights is said to create bonds that last an eternity.
Outside of this pantheon of Lesser and Greater Protector Spirits reside the Spiorad, the spirits that reside in all things, living and unliving, the servants to the Lesser Protector and in turn of the Dìonadair and the living world. There are many ways to praise these individual Spiorad, but worshipping them beyond praise and recognition is an affront to them, and is often shunned by faithful of Creideamh Spiorad. There are Spiorad in all things, no matter how big and small, and all are praised for serving their purpose, be it a pebble Spiorad’s idleness, or the fearsomeness of a bear Spiorad. All concepts and all items are celebrated, barring a single concept, that being the Siùbhlaic Spiorad (or Traveller Spirit) of Death, which is almost universally feared and reviled by all Caeren as a bringer of famine and manipulator of lost love.
An extension of their Creideamh Spiorad faith is often forgotten to many and pays particular homage to those born with any form of strange appearance. Everything from Mages and Silven to Paleblood alike can be hailed by the Caeren people as those touched by the Dìonadair and could be granted the responsibility of being the manipulators of the Spiorad amongst the realm of mortals. Despite being deemed as those ‘blessed’ in many circles, these abnormally born are sometimes despised in others, being touted as those who have infringed upon the duties of the Dìonadair and the individual Realms of the Spiorad. These beliefs vary between villages, often based upon the anecdotal evidence provided by the Lair-Chith, who often serve as the closest thing the Caeren have to an Arcane Scholar, who foretell of stories and interpret the meanings of the gifts bared by Mages, often with the intent to calm the people or stir them into action against the Mage, at the whims of the Lair-Chith’s personal biases.
Alongside the aforementioned Lair-Chith stands the Lair-Gaidh and Lair-Inniel, possessing the only three ‘positions’ that appear to be consistent from village to village, as many villages have alternative names for their shamans and the interpreters of the messages sent by the Spirits. The Lair-Gaidh, or the Speakers of War are most often the tacticians and the planners of the Caeren, they plan for war, engage in diplomacy, but also plan Caeren village’s and constructions, as well as farming and infrastructure. They are a religious leader who leads the Caeren into battle, but also leads them in improving their daily lives and are, as such, highly educated for a Caeren, and highly valuable to the villagers. The Lair-Gaidh often mask themselves in the Crow’s Guise. A mask of Silver shaped in the form of a crow’s beak, with feather plumage that covers the rest of the head and the shoulders like a cloak, they often attire themselves in black clothing and patrol the village at night to survey the land and assess work that must be done.
The Lair-Inniel on the other hand is the Grand Speaker, the religious spokesman of individual villages, they attire themselves in loose, free-flowing attire that is most commonly adorned with plant life and multicolored feathers and plumage. They travel the village during the day and assess the messages sent by the Spirits the night before, they dictate the sacrifices and the daily duties of the Caeren of the village and are looked to as the domestic leaders. Those raised to be Lair-Inniel are often reserved in their demeanors and highly empathetic of the world around them due to their responsibility to listen and interpret the messages of the Spirits.
Literature and Folklore
Written literature is nigh non-existent amongst the Caeren. Due to their lack of a written language, they instead share stories of folklore only verbally, passed between one another by the fireside. These can vary from tales of great warriors, such as Airdhan MacDomhnall or Braihd, (which are usually relayed with great hyperbole) to tales of the actions of the Guardian Spirits and their exploits, usually serving as a means to preach the faith of Creideamh Spiorad, but also as a means of instructing children in lessons of morality. Within the walls of each village, there exists a specific revered storyteller, known as the Seameandh. Stories and folktales often vary massively between village to village, with families passing down many similar stories with many variations and spins on what were the traditionally told tales. This is primarily due to the word-of-mouth nature of their propagation, but also the creative liberties taken by individual Seameandh who see it fit to alter parts of stories that they don’t particularly like, or even in some circumstances, have entirely forgotten, improvising in whole aspects of important folk tales. As such, it is often said that one ‘cannot trust a Seameandh to call his Marag-Dubh black’, an idiom used to refer to someone purposefully altering a tale or omitting important details for the sake of theatrics.
Caeren Philosophy is a deceptively simplistic concept, driven largely by tenants of Faith, Family, and a sense of regional and national pride in themselves and their people. The Caeren greatly value their home and their property and believe that an individual’s prime entitlement in their life is to a comfortable home and a plot of land to raise his crops and rear his livestock. However, it is through this philosophy and a desire for a peaceful, placid life that the fierce warrior culture finds its roots. In one’s entitlements to his own plot of land comes the desire to partake in the land of others, and defense of one’s own land is fierce and brutal, as the defense of one’s land and family is the defense of one’s livelihood. The Caeren are an intensely fierce culture, fiery in their festivals and their feuds, and free in their thought and in their action, giving rise to the assumption that they are merely a culture based upon mutual savagery and theft.
Another core tenet of Caeren Philosophy is that of their close relation to Faith, be that faith Old Ceardian Paganism (or Creideamh Spiorad), or conversion to Unionism. One is free to express their faith and to impose their faith upon others, and it is from that tenet that the majority of inter-clan warring and rivalry stems. Villages of differing beliefs and close vicinity may break out in violent, small-scale skirmishes in their attempts to impose their views upon each other or to stand in defense of their principles in the face of an oppressor. Due to this, missions to Kinwry and Mannadh-Alba are reputedly dangerous and met with fierce opposition from the local faithful.
The Caeren people, despite their outwardly isolationist nature, are often seen outside of their homelands, driven by an innate curiosity and desire to learn of the world beyond them. Though many are content with their belongings and their standings at home, some are dissatisfied and step into the wider world only to be taken aback by the colors, the flavors, and the sights to be seen far beyond their mountainous homeland. Be it for deployment in war or personal exploration, the Caeren travel as far as they may, but it is almost unheard of for a Caeren to never return home. It is believed by the Caeren that one’s home is one’s soul, it is their beginning and it should be their final rest, and one should always return to their hometown after a long journey.
Caeren Folklore finds most of its roots set in their primary faith of Creideamh Spiorad, and orients itself almost entirely around orally spread traditions and tales of the exploits of the Spirits of the world around them, but also harkens back to a form of Ancestral appreciation and pride, often telling aggrandized tales of the exploits of those that came before oneself. It is common for a Caeren Seameandh to greatly embellish the stories they tell to seem grander and more entertaining than they actually are, and this lack of reliability of storytelling has lent itself towards the disappearance of any original Caeren folklore, lost to time, the death of those that carried those tales, and the hyperbole used by those that spin the stories to others. Their folklore often tells of stories of great virtue and vice, often used as a means by parents and village elders to implant morals and forms of mental conditioning onto younger Caeren as they grow up.
The Caeren are not a particularly artistic people. While the Dunbrae may create beautiful and colorful glass mosaics to set into their great castles and temples, the Caeren adopt a more primitive, and to many a barbaric, approach. Stonemasons are known for their simplistic, yet intricate, stone steles, carving geometric shapes, knots, and woven patterns into the material to produce a style that is known as Bandsa. The Bandsa style has since bled out from simple steles, now used in jewelry of bone and metal, and often adorning the armor and weapons of the Caeren people. Perhaps more obvious and prevalent than the Bandsa patterns however are tartan woven clothes, used throughout Caeren dress and other works of fabric.
Caeren music is nigh indistinguishable from that of the Dunbrae, having survived through the ages from their common ancestry. The sound of the Highlands is dominated by what is known as the “Bladderpipe” in common, or “a' Phìob Mhòr” in Goedlaic (roughly translating to The Great Pipe). Characterized by its bladder-like shape, the Bladderpipe is a wind instrument, with several pipes and a bag. Through the holes in the melody pipe, one can produce a tune, whilst the other pipes, called drones, produce only single notes, tuned to the melody pipe. The musician puffs air into a blowpipe, filling the bag, which is usually made from animal skin and is held beneath the arm, against the chest. The air blown in makes the reeds in the melody pipe and drones vibrate, producing a singular melody and three harmonies with one instrument. When the piper requires a breath, squeezing on the bag should keep the sound going. Many Bladderpipes are heavily ornamented, often boasting silver fittings, and a cover resembling the patterns of the family kiltach. The instrument is incredibly ceremonial to the Caeren, and as such all musicians take incredible care of their Bladderpipes. It is a superstitious belief amongst many tribes that to damage your own bladderpipes is to curse yourself with a year of bad luck for each pipe of the bladder.
Caeren fashion is a style born from the utmost sense of practicality, Caeren care little for looks so long as their outfitting is practical and serves more functions than just simple attire. An example of this is the Caeren Plaid, much like the kiltach of the Dunbrae, but it tends to be longer and involve more fabric. The Caeren carry their plaids in a kiltach fashion, pinned over the shoulder and fastened at the waist by the belt and Sporran. However, whilst the plaid to the Caeren is a symbol of one’s family tartan and colors, the plaid also serves many additional purposes such as a blanket, a hood to shield from the rain, a cloak, and in some more creative circumstances, can be used as the fabric of a tent. Beneath the plaid is often just a simple tunic known as a Lèine which is often fashioned of dense wool, tied at the neck and hemmed at the bottom, and sleeves with stitching - feathers are also often added as decoration. The belt and Sporran is another iconic part of the Caeren style; a heavy leather belt with a flat-faced steel buckle, upon which the Sporran is hooked. The Sporran is a semicircular satchel often made of bull or Geep hide, tanned until it is firm, and is most often used for carrying along portions of barely, salts and dried fruits and meats for supplying long journeys through the Highlands of Pach Lallach. The belting often also features a loop for resting one’s shortsword or sidearm, as such is a vital component of survival in the untamed wilds of the Highlands.
A more peculiar proponent of the Caeren fashion is something known as the Stocanneain, or the Caeren Stockings, a pair of long socks that are pulled up to the thighs, made of thick and wax-treated wool. They act as gaiters and protection against the thorns of the brush and bramble bushes when foraging for food, preventing stings and scars upon one’s legs from the irritants. The boots worn by many Caeren are perhaps one of the more intricate parts of the classical Caeren outfit, intricately embroidered with threads and laced up with leather, and bearing a pouch on the right leg for a ceremonial dagger known as the Skean-Dubh. Based with thickened leather layers and iron studs to provide additional traction, the boots rise to the knee, and laces are wrapped around the back of the knee, as an excess of shoelace may be utilized as a binding in the place of twine or rope. The smallest aspects of Caeren fashion always lend themselves to practicality and the utmost efficiency. It is fairly often noted that many Caeren will wear whatever they have on hand for clothing, their outfits are sometimes described as unplanned messes of clashing colors and tones, leading to the disgust of some of the more fashion-oriented peoples, even amongst their Dunbrae cousins. This lack of a sense for color matching and pairing often lends itself to Caeren villages and tribes being some of the most intensely colorful regions in the north, with everyone wearing multitudes of different colors and textures, and providing something of stark contrast to the almost exclusively grey and brown environment that surrounds them, the Caeren exhibit immense pride in being the livelihood of their villages through their colorful dress, believing that the more colorful and varied one’s attire is, the more entertaining one is to the spirits of the world surrounding them, engaging in such frivolous fashion choices amuses the Guardian Spirits, and staves off the disaster that would come with their dissatisfaction.
Caeren Architecture is a complex mix of practicality and a sense of almost base beauty; their structures are evidently simplistic and primarily defensive in their approach, but always possess what can be described as a rustic and pragmatic charm. The most iconic of these structures are known as the village, or the Walled Villages. These villages are small, often circular fortifications that surround one’s land and personal property, and often play a large role in inter-clan skirmishes. The village can range in size from housing a single house and small plot of land, to entire villages spanning several hectares. They are composed of stone and mud foundations with wooden structures and thatch roofing, and often only feature a single floor with tall ceilings, though some more Dunbrae-influenced border towns will host multiple floors with ladders or stairs between. Their houses are generally furnished lightly, often featuring hay-bale bedding and indoor spaces dedicated to the family’s owned livestock. Having a proper bed in Caeren houses is considered an immense luxury, and a person with one will often invite others into their home for meetings regarding private affairs as a means of a financial ‘flex’. Caeren interiors also seldom have more than a single room; all functions of the house are in a single room, with outhouses and areas dedicated to whatever additional rooms the family requires and, should the family not require such additional spaces anymore, the wood and materials used to build such spaces and outhouses are torn down and repurposed into something useful for the families.
More complex defensive fortifications are found along the coastlines and the borders, where the Caeren feel that outsiders may encroach on their isolationist way of life. These stilted towns and hillforts, also known as the Sleagh-Daingneach, feature a town built on a raised and flattened hillside, with trenches and wooden pike lines driven into the side - often much to the bane of opposing cavaliers. These hills are often tiered in construction, leading to the moniker of “Cakeforts” used by the Dunbrae to mock the appearance of these forts, most often constructed out of paranoia and a desire to keep others out of their territories. However, this tiered design is intentional, with the most sacrificial and least valuable buildings resting at the base of the hill, and gradually increasing in value as one ascends the hill, until the primary fortification is reached at the crest. Wooden palisades are used to defend only the highest points of the hill, and these hilltop towns are often where many of the stationed families and guards reside in barracks but is also where the prime cattle and food stores are often kept.
Caeren food is described as bland and crude by most, yet there are few things better than the tastes of home to one who has been away for long. Due to the adverse conditions of their mountainous home, the Caeren have traditionally seen every part of a hunted animal be used, even down to the blood, which leads to the creation of some rather unique foods that have stood the test of time. Perhaps the most notorious of these foods is the Tagais: A pudding comprising the liver, heart, and lungs of a Geep (though other meats are known to be used), minced and mixed with meat suet and oatmeal, and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The mixture is packed into a Geep's stomach and boiled. It is usually served up with a plate of turnips and potatoes to create the much-beloved dish Tagais, Neeps, and Tatties. Outside the iconic dish, other examples of the Caeren diet include the Pancrùban, Bannuc, and Marag Dubh.
Caeren sports are a peculiar blend of wargame and recreation, often involving many skills that cross the boundaries between what may be seen as an all-out battlefield, and just a scene of leisurely rough-housing. The main proponent of their sporting culture is a game known as Cluich-Balla, or Football, often participated in by every man and woman in a particular village, in competition with neighboring villages. The field of play is large, often spanning a mile on the road from one village to another, typically taking place alongside major trade routes that go from settlement to settlement along which carts are drawn (mostly to clear up any injured participants). The ball used in Cluich-Balla is composed mostly of tough cow leather, firm enough to survive a considerable amount of punishment, and is usually either filled with an air-filled Geep bladder, or rocks in some more grueling iterations of the sports. The intentions of the sport are fairly simple: take the ball to a designated location or ‘goal’ in the opposing village, and stop your opponents from doing the same. Outside of this particular violent, anything-goes sport is the more relaxed sport of Clachan Bràghad, or Sliding Stones, most often played on the icy lochs of Mannadh-Alba, that is now facilitated in the warmer regions of the Highlands through advancements in technology and the investments in Alchemy often made by the Dunbrae. The sport entails a completely hands-off ruling, a non-contact sport involving skipping a stone across a flat surface of the ice, with intent to have it stop at the center of a designated target and to knock your opponents’ stones away from the target completely. Clachan Bràghad is also said to be vital in the training of Caeren pikemen, through the intensive use of brooms and brushes to smooth the ice and allow one’s stones to reach their targets but to also improve the spearman’s balance on the ice.
Outside of waging war upon each other and engaging in rigorous and oftentimes impeccably dangerous sporting affairs, the Caeren have a particularly relaxed view of what ‘leisure’ should be. Leisurely activities to the Caeren people are the moments of calm and relaxation that lie far removed from the chaos of the outside world, and many consider their quiet, peacetime jobs to be their leisurely activities. Activities such as horticulture and agriculture are highly valued leisurely activities by the Caeren, tending to one’s crops is not only a must for individual survival, but also brings an immense sense of enjoyment and satisfaction. Caeren shepherds pride themselves in having the finest reared geep, the most productive milk supplies, or the warmest and most resilient wool, as Caeren farmers pride themselves in the size of their harvest. Caeren people are naturally busybodies and hardly view their peaceful employment as work, but as something to dedicate themselves to and be satisfied when the outcome is favorable, a tendency that often finds Caeren taking up the jobs of manual labor in the more Dunbrae-dominated cities, often to their dissatisfaction. Removed from necessary work is what a Caeren would refer to as their Gairm Fad-Beatha, or one’s Lifetime Calling, which is often a hobby or a particular talent that each person is encouraged to hone and refine throughout their life, one’s Gairm Fad-Beatha is a hobby for life, and rarely if ever changes by the astute.
Caeren Holiday customs tie in heavily with their faith, the people being as bound to their religion as they are. These often occupy both entire weeks within their respective months, and entire cities. Festivals are important to the Caeren, and to throw a poor festival is an affront to the Spirits that it was dedicated to. While many individual festivals belong to each Caeren Clan and village, the following are some of the most universally celebrated festivals
- Feis na Seoladach na Sealg, or Festival of Skimming Seas, is a seafaring Festival often hosted exclusively aboard ships built by the Caeren, who live and stay on the seas for a week before returning to shore. During this week of exclusively sea-bound living, the Caeren engage in many naval competitions ranging from boarding battles, to races, to competitions of balance and athleticism on the rigging and rope that binds the boats to one another. During these festivals it is said that the Caeren towns and villages fall into a dead, inactive silence; all livelihood disappears from them and appears at the sea and the coasts. This festival is held in revelry to the Dìonadair of Water, Eanach-Muir, and in celebration and acknowledgment of the Realm of Water. The Caeren indulge in its provisions exclusively for a week to remind them of the gifts that it brings to their people. It is held during March, April, and May.
- Feis na Teàrnadh na Dùn, or the Festival of Mountaintop Markets, is an acknowledgment of the gifts of the Realm of Earth during the warmest months of the year when the produce of the land is booming. The festival usually entails the scaling of one of the many tall mountains of the Highland regions and establishing a hillfort, often leading to competition amongst Skeamdhs to determine whoever can establish the loftiest fort. Once such is established, many feasts, markets, and dances, all often alcohol-fueled, are held in celebration of Dìonadair of Mountains, Beinne-Stuir. It is held during June, July, and August.
- Feis na Rionnafaire, or the Festival of Staring Stars, is an acknowledgment of the Realm of Sky during the months with the greatest tendency for clouds and obscured skies, always hosted on a starlit night with clear skies and a biting chill in the air. The festival usually entails a night of silence amongst the Caeren people, observing the skies and basking in the light of the moon. Ritualistic bathing, as well as some of the most detailed divinations provided by the Lair-Inniel, are entertained during the festivities. It is held during September, October, November.
- Feis na Fàilte na Brachan, or the Festival of Welcomed Warmth, is an acknowledgment of the Realm of Fire during the coldest months, and a festival held to praise the Dìonadair of Flames, Lasair-Dahn. During the festival, large wooden structures are constructed and set alight as the backdrop for a series of dances and declarations of passionate feelings; the starting point of many Caeren romanticisms. It is held during December, January, and February.
- Feis na Bliadhnaur, or the Festival of New Beginnings, is the Caeren equivalent of the New Year festivities engaged in by many other cultures. It celebrates the beginning of the new year, as well as the birth of many newborn children as a result of the Fàilte na Brachan the year before. It is held during January and December.
- Feis na Dansabuinne, or the Festival of Harvest Dances, is the celebration of the Lesser Protector of Grains, Coirce, and is a festival of harvest and dance in which hundreds of Caeren will come together to plow the fields and take in the year’s harvest, before engaging in three days of eating exclusively grain-based foods such as bread and pastries, as well as many forms of drunken revelry for the Spirits of the Harvest. It is held during September and October.
- Feis na Cairt-Slighe Rionnag, or the Starpath Festival, is a festivity engaged in during the beginning of the Autumn months, most often following the months of Harvest in September. This festival entails the charting of the stars onto rock and cave walls to celebrate the Lesser Protector of Clouds, Sgòthan by preserving the messages written in the clear night’s sky. It is held during October and November, exclusively on nights with clear skies and long tides.
- Feis na Skera Breigh, or the Festival of the Longest Days, is a celebration of the Solstices, both in the Summer and the Winter, with wildly differing celebrations for each. During the Summer Solstice, the longest day is spent as a day of rest and celebration in the summer sun. It is said that during the Summer’s Feis na Skera Breigh, time in Caeren-Dominated regions appears to stop for the day, all business ceases, all work is dropped, and no projects are worked on; some may even describe the lack of action to be eerie in some circumstances. The Winter’s Feis na Skera Breigh is quite the opposite, a celebration of the hardworking nature of the Caeren in which many Skeamdhs will come together in a group effort to create something new throughout the year’s shortest day, it is then said that many Skeamdhs will come together and present their creations, and collectively vote on the finest piece produced, often resulting in disputes and fighting, followed by revelry in the name of the winners. It is held during June and December, on or around the Solstices.
- Feis na Gairm Fad-Beatha, or the Festival of One’s Lifeblood, is a festival in celebration of the Caeren tradition of the Gairm Fad-Beatha, and the celebration of the Lesser Protector of Rivers, Tarmid. It is a celebration in which young Caeren receive their Brand of Beatha that dictates that child’s calling in life from that moment forth. It is a celebration of intense dedication to one’s craft and the fickleness of mortal decision upon the whims of Fate, but also a festival of hope, in telling that many Caeren will follow their fate on a path that leads to the greatest freedom imaginable. It is held during April and August.
- Feis na Bataruaig, or the Festival of Release, is a festivity that often follows closely after the Feis na Gairm Fad-Beatha in which many Caeren will embrace their most primal aspects. In this particular day many Caeren take it upon themselves to express their inner feelings in whatever way they deem fitting, be it through acts of unbridled passion, honesty, violence or restraint. It is a celebration of escaping one’s Fate, and is what many Caeren deem to be the mortal declaration of war on the immortal world of the Spirits, and is said that this festival is a favorite of the Dìonadair of Water, Eanach-Muir, as these declarations greatly amuse the Guardian Spirit. It is held during May and September.
- Feis na Craicbian, or the Festival of Skin and Fur, is a celebration dedicated to the Lesser Protector of Game, Fèidhar, and most commonly hosts celebrations of a Skeamdh’s best hunters. These hunters are challenged to venture out into the woods for one week, blindfolded and misdirected, and challenged to survive the forests and return home, with the first returner being embraced as the Thilledaigh or the First Returner, and is celebrated as the best example of a hunter that Skeamdh has to offer. This festival is held in acknowledgment of the Lesser Protector of Game, Fèidhar, and as a celebration of the Caeren’s dominance over the natural landscape around them. It is held during July and August.
- Feis na A’tilleadh, or the Festival of Returning, is a celebration dedicated to the homecoming of wayward souls, be they alive or dead. It is a festival of bringing the dead into remembrance and constructing cairns in honor of the fallen and the lost. It is held in honor of the Lesser Protector of Kindling, Ibhneill, but also the festival in which the Siùbhlaic Spiorad of Death is also held in high regard, though many Caeren use this festival as a means to express their hatred of the Siùbhlaic that they only get once per year. It is held during May and June.
Caeren are often associated with the bear and the Gallovian Geep. The bear, thanks to its immense strength and a surprising amount of survivalist intellect, as well as its stubborn nature and generally brutish qualities. Caeren can be either complimented or offended with bear comparisons, depending on which traits they decide to focus on. Geep comparisons, however, are almost entirely a negative comparison to Caeren, because while the animal is undoubtedly useful for them, it represents a certain stubbornness and stupidity with which the culture does not wish to associate itself with. Additionally, while the kiltach has been mostly associated with the Dunbrae in recent years, the Caeren Plaid shall forever remain its hallmark sigil thanks to its wide variety of utility, sitting right next to the bladderpipe in terms of recognizable flair. Caeren and Dunbrae often come to blows about who specifically should hold the bladderpipe as a symbol, and while the Caeren cling to it ferociously most modern cultures associate the bladderpipe morewith the Dunbrae thanks to being first introduced to it through their music.
- Due to the bland nature of their most common foodstuffs, the Caeren are often overjoyed to find many Suvial Altalar and Qadir trading at their ports, their flavorful dishes and intense use of spices has become a favorite in many Caeren and Dunbrae coastal towns.
- Due to the famous Caeren traveler, Lennox MacBugha (referred to in the Plains as Lennox Longbow), importing the traditional Bannuc bread to the plains of Daen, the Caeren have long since held amicable relationships with the native Avanthar and Qússrakón. As such, it isn’t viewed as uncommon to see an Avanthar in Caeren territories, or vice-versa.