|Common Names||Fri-Folk, Peace Folk|
|Social Classes||Fishermen, Herders, Artisans, Negotiators, Judges|
The Fridurfolk are known to many as the strange pacifists largely disliked by other Northland Cultures, with many believing it to be impossible the first they hear of it. Regardless, the Peace Folk are as their name implies, peaceful, which has made them the target of other Northern Cultures for years. Over the past century though, such hostile incursions are rare or preventable, which has allowed the herding, fishing, and artisans of their society to thrive. Their society is one focused on nature and the world around them, but also happiness and cheer which makes them a jovial people. They are also considered to possess the antithetical role as peacekeepers in Northern societies due to their heavy respect for law and proper justice, motivated by a pure desire to keep the peace. To that end, they have actively sought to avoid the conflicts that have plagued Drixagh over the past several years, and have been largely successful though for how much longer is uncertain.
The Fridurfolk have fascinated many in recent years for their odd history as a pacifist Northern society, leading to many guesses as to their origin. The most well accepted and supported theory as is that they were originally made up of shipwrecked Velheim who were swept into the Regalian Archipelago by the Cataclysm, who encountered people already living in the region. Their beliefs in pacifism were likely a result of Cataclysm-level storm-battered sailors speaking of the rage of the natural world to people who were already focused on fertility and some cult of nature. Fridurfolk myth supports this, as they claim that, in the past, nature and the Gods have expressed their anger with the violent world by “stirring” everything, threatening Forseth Daggrondr (the Oldt Fayth end of the world) by toppling Forseth into the path of Jaud. Their written records also go back to the period of the Cataclysm. Their first law document, at least 200 years old, speaks of the basics of their law system, as well as a statement of belief in peace to end out the document. Unfortunately for the Fridurfolk, their beliefs in peace were not shared by the Skagger Horde when they reached the Regalian Archipelago. The Horde was disgusted by the society, and routinely raided their settlements for supplies, killing many, and bringing many more into servitude as Bond Wives and Bond-men due to their meek, easily controlled nature. This was the worst time for the Fridurfolk, but shockingly, they endured. Their leaders still met in secret while they built their homes to blend into the natural landscape and learned how to avoid conflict by freely giving materials to attackers, along with people elected to go with them as their captives. One of the main reasons this worked was because the Skagger Horde, while once heavily concentrated in Drixagh, spread out more into areas like Norrlan and Gallovia. Additionally, the Fridurfolk earned a reputation as “suicidal”, freely burning their own homes and supplies if their first or second offer of goods and people were not accepted.
This happened largely because many of them knew where other villages of Fridurfolk were, and how to reach them even if their own village was destroyed. Regardless, by 150 AC, their people had completely lost the Fourth District and almost half of their people along with it. But to them, it seemed as if Providence had ultimately saved them. They were not ignorant of the Regalian Empire, their fishing vessels having run-ins with vessels from the nation, but they were not very aware of the massive push of conquest Regalia was aiming to take over the entire Archipelago. It was in 150 AC that the Skagger Horde also began to retreat, leaving the Fridurfolk to rejoice and celebrate their freedom from oppression for all of three weeks before the Regalian Empire marched up. Despite some initial confusion of many Regalian commanders thinking it was some sort of Skagger trick, the Fridurfolk were soon once again left alone in peace. It has been over a century since then, and the Fridurfolk live much in the same way as they did back then. They no longer run and hide at every approaching vessel, and their homes are often built more into the open rather than being nestled into the earth, but they are known to suffer attacks from sea-born Velheim raiders. At the same time, they have also had more peaceful contact with the Velheim, allowing them to trade and spread their goods out to wider markets. However, recent conflict has threatened their way of life. The Burning of the North was a very dangerous time for them, but very few to none of the Velheim leadership in charge of the territory they lived in were in rebellion, and so they were spared. More recent conflict being fought 307 AC also threatens to perhaps drag them into a situation they would much rather be helping to solve than support. Their population also remains small, being recorded to cross just 200,000 in 300 AC. Ultimately, it will take them more time to more fully embrace the world around them and be certain they can grow without fear of constant destruction destroying their lands as has occurred over a hundred years ago.
Language and Dialects
The Fridurfolk speak Fénikin, an offshoot language from Skodje characterized by possessing a softer tone that lacks the same emotional ups and downs of its parent language. Words are soft-spoken, and the accent is heavily used towards the end of sentences, with little to no aggressive or loud excessive expression except in times of great distress. Unfortunately, this language is slowly falling out of use by the Fridurfolk due to their increase in peaceful contact with Velheimers around them. As a result, it is not uncommon for Fridurfolk to be at the very least bilingual, speaking both tongues, though a growing percentage only use Skodje.
Fridurfolk names follow the same conventions of their language, often naming their children after features of the natural world due to their focus on harmony with it, but also with a few being variations on Velheim or other names from other Northern Cultures. Some examples of first names are below:
The Fridurfolk have a complex law system that forms a bedrock of their societal ideals. Unlike the Velheim with their Earls and Rakhrs, they have instead combined those roles into one with the Goðars. These are chieftain judges, existing to serve the people and deliver judgments on all manner of dispute, from property to marital to family (if the situation gets out of hand enough). Around them, they have a small group of supporters and advisors often made up of senior members of the community who help keep them informed of all the angles and facts of the cases brought before them. However, the position of Goði must be supported by all the people as a Goði who makes bad or corrupt choices are ideally abandoned due to their poor leadership. This then forces them to abdicate from their role and join another Goði’s territory. These different territories form a District, of which there are three currently. There used to be four, but the fourth was lost to the savagery of the Skagger Horde, which has resulted in a ceremonial significance being placed on “the lost fourth.”
Every four years, all Goðars and councilors from the three remaining Districts meet on the Lögmál or “Isle of Law.” This location once jumped around due to Skagger raiders, the meeting place for the gathering conveyed in secret to the Goðars. Since the gathering in 203 AC, however, it has been set on a single island off the Drixagh coastline. At the Alþingi, which is the official name for this gathering, the men and women discuss law and the major matters concerning their people, but it is also possible for the public or Goðars with conflicts of interest to bring forward major issues to be resolved by consensus. The Alþingi also sees an individual selected to gather and hold the laws of all the Fruidrfolk for reference and to preserve their history. The position is for life, and the elected individual is always a Goði, with the selection of a new “Löghandhafi” or “Lawholder” only occurring if the old one is dead (the infirmities of age are also a reason, though due to a myriad of assistants, the role at this point is purely ceremonial). The gathering is often noted as being one of the oldest forms of Ailor democracy, older than those found in Arvost or other regions, as well as one of the most effective, though that is largely due to the pacifist tendencies of the Fridurfolk as they do not often need to respond to acts of war or force anymore.
As for the actual laws of the Fridurfolk, they have a basic set of laws against violence, thievery, and other matters. As they are a pacifist people though, and one obsessed with the law, they also have a great deal of respect for legal contracts. If a signee breaks a signed, agreed upon arrangement, it is a grave matter for the Fridurfolk and one investigated fully. This can be somewhat problematic as other Cultures do not place the same emphasis on contracts, a few groups not believing in them entirely, which has led to issues in the past. Most of their rulings and laws have to do with property and pasture disputes, as well as issues with fishing rights which are handled in an equalitarian, calm manner. Resolutions often see the giving of goods or set time of service to the “victorious” or in the right party, but if violence erupts as a result of said ruling, there are often far harsher punishments for those who engage in the combat.
Lifestyle and Customs
Families within Fridurfolk society are consistently small for a number of reasons. The first is that they do not actively practice the polygamy of their Velheim sister Culture, though some accomplished men may “require” a second wife so that all his holdings and activities in the household be taken care of. Such things are rare though, and so mutually exclusive couplings are by far the most common. Marriages are normally for love, with the Fridurfolk not discriminating against same-sex love marriages either, as they believe that because the match occurs in nature, it is only natural for it to be accepted. These love matches often take place later in life, which further decreases the population, as does the odd bluntness of their beliefs around children. They believe that to bring a being into this world to suffer is not just, but that does not mean they will mercy kill children with deformities. Rather, due to their past issues with raiders, is it fairly common for a couple to wait to have a second child after having their first. Especially recently though, this “wait” period has grown shorter to non-existent as their larger settlements are often protected by the non-Fridurfolk inhabitants that live there and local raiding is less broad than it used to be. Having at least one child is heavily expected for normal couples, with same-sex couples often being pushed to adopt orphans or help out with other families who have the rare third or even fourth child. Family units often live close together, with new houses built sparingly for new couples. If there is a vacant house when one of them reaches the age of 35 however, then a new house is built and they fully leave the family home both have been living in as the guest of one spouse’s parents.
The Fridurfolk, while paying lip-service and surface homage to their Velheim cousins in the realm of gender roles, are actually far more equalitarian. A Fridurfolk man is expected to be a strong and able-bodied individual able to provide for his family. Being unable to do so is not as ridiculed as it might be in Velheim society, but it does imply that his partner or parents are the real people to speak to when wishing to deal with him. The reason for this is simple: a good portion of Fridurfolk men make a living off of art to provide in a different way for their households and as “big strong manly-men” aren’t usually the sort to engage in the arts, the acceptance of those who are not has developed over time. Women are usually portrayed as being there to provide for their husbands and raise their children properly but often play a more active role in Fridurfolk society. They can be artisans, herders, and even fishermen along with the men, though this is generally more accepted with a family who has no male children, or whose male family members are passed away or injured. Then there are the Langthárs, or “Longhairs” which are girls or women fully exemplifying a more delicate, pacifist mindset, who usually wear their hair long and fall into a passive role in the home.
The Fridurfolk have few holidays, as they are naturally jovial and tend to hold minor celebrations at least once a week in their communities. There is one holiday that binds them all together however, and it’s a rather grim one. The Day of the Drowned or the Feeding of the Sjósöngvaris occurs on the first day of spring but is now an event that occurs in all four seasons for reasons that will become clear shortly. On these days, the “hunger” of those undead, who reside in the sea from shipwrecks or battles or accidents, are sated by prayers of love, respect, and admiration directed out at the sea at periods throughout the day. Some even compose and recite, or scribe and sink love poetry and letters, as a more physical representation of their “love.” As the sun sets, one final set of prayer is done before all return to their village for an evening of reflection on those claimed by the sea. Due to the existence of Bone Horrors, however, the Fridurfolk have been compelled to now perform this ceremonial holiday the first of every season. Those Fridurfolk who do not live near the sea (a rare few) often travel as a community to the sea for the day, or send a delegation of individuals if the journey would be too long for their entire community.
The Fridurfolk follow the Old Faiths, but a large portion of their population follow a particular set of beliefs closely tied to Oldt Fayth. Due to their pacifist, herding and fishing focus, the deities they focus the most on are Daina, Aella, Varld, and show deep respect for Raudr. In their faith, the three normal gods are often envisioned as siblings, whom all sprang from tears of joy released by Raudr. A much larger part of their religion is their devotion to the Veröldinandi, nature spirits that exist in the sea and on the land. There are well over several dozen of them, and they are seen as minor gods in service to and beneath the four main gods they spawned from. Devotion and respect to all of these gods is usually expressed in the form of offerings and prayers given at shrines called “Tilbeiðslusteinns.” They are well maintained across the lands of the Fridurfolk, and blend into the landscape quite easily, especially in the winter time, due to their smooth white surface. They also include an Essence Symbol found in the middle of the altar or just below the central image, which evokes the core ideal or job of the deity being prayed to. While there are several for the major gods, each individual Veröldinandi has its standard and unaltered Symbol attributed to it with only a rare handful having two. A short list of just some of these Veröldinandi can be read below:
- Frábært-Vatnstút: This male whale-based deity is prayed to with a strange request: that the water expelled by whales not fill a sailor’s lungs and kill them. The legend goes that Frá’s child was captured by Ailor sailors, but in his defense, his father sprayed water into the mouths of all the sailors, causing at least one to die. He is also sometimes depicted as a Whale Crab, and it also asked not to destroy the ships of good, respectful sailors.
- Slétthúð: This female deity is related to seals and is asked to keep the pelts of seals shiny and beautiful for fishermen and hunters alike seeking to collect them. She is often depicted as heavyset and seems to be a woman-walrus hybrid.
- Hringlúður: A male deity that exists in the shape of a large ram, Hringlúður is often depicted to sit at the feet of the god Varld as his champion of defense. He is also described as “that which brings Hrúturmenn (ram-men) into the world,” and is usually seen as the Fridurfolk’s explanation for the Url.
- Hávær-öskra: This male deity is asked to keep goat screams loud, to help serve as a warning signal at approaching enemies or threats. A myth commonly associated with him is that he and his sister once got into a screaming contest, located on opposite ends of a valley. When he saw a wolf approaching her, he tried to call out, but she assumed it was just a game and so fell. He now only speaks when he has words or cries of warning to give. He is one of the smaller Veröldinandi and is a young human man with goat legs and horns.
Literature and Folklore
The Fridurfolk are a people with limited reading material, largely due to their active and busy society. However, just as they have many skilled physical artisans, they also have skilled writers. For pleasure reading, there are a handful of songs written down in their Culture though the vast majority are kept in the memories of the locals, as there are many songs that are strictly local in their society, which would not exist even two towns over. Their writing is more focused on poetry and riddles, gathered into collections known to others as “Sagas” which are usually knit together by some story about the gods or the Veröldinandi or both together, essentially as an excuse for the material to all exist together. But to the surprise of many, the Fridurfolk actually have more literature dedicated to legal matters. Contracts, deals, agreements, laws; hundreds of these are kept across their population, even if it has expired or both parties in it are dead, primarily due to the focus on order and peace their Culture exemplifies.
The Fridurfolk have a simple and uncomplicated vision of the world. They believe that Ailor and indeed all Races of Aloria should live in harmony with nature, as it is from nature that all things came. They should also all be peaceful to each other, as they all had the same point of origin, that being the will of the Oldt Gods. Unlike other pacifist societies scattered around Aloria though, the Fridurfolk are still Northern and do make the exception in violence when it has to do with animals, stating it is a method of survival. They believe that it is just so long as individuals pray or give an offering every so often in recompense for such unfortunate actions, then the balance of love in the world will be maintained. This simple worldview fuels all other actions and focuses in their society. Their focus on law is because they value order, peace, and justice wherever possible to help keep populations knit together in common harmony while their focus on art is because of their belief of all to possess gifts, with artistic ability just one of these. They also believe that natural beauty should be reflected and acknowledged by individuals, hence why so much of their art is focused on it and their gods, but also why they believe in the natural beauty of the individual are largely lack judgments. This only extends out so far though, as thanks to information given to them by Velheim and other visitors, they tend to view Kathar, other Void-infected Races, Songaskians and Qadir with suspicion due to their role as antagonistic enemies to the Ailor or their work with the dead, which all Northerners are rather particular about.
The Fridurfolk have two major aspects to their folklore. One of these are the Huldufólk, “Hidden Folk,” who are Elves that supposedly live lives much the same as any Fridurfolk. But, so annoyed at being asked for favors by Ailor, the Race made themselves invisible to live undisturbed lives. This spell is constant, save for the times of solstice and equinox, when their forms of light can be seen, though they often try and hide in fog or caves during these times. The other piece of local mythos is the Sjósöngvaris, which is simplified in Common to “Sirens.” These beings are said to be the lost drowned reanimated by Raudr’s lover Ul, which listlessly drift around underwater, their arms outstretched as they sing of their loved ones and their eternal desire for rest. When ships wreck or sailors fall into the water, they are told to fear anything that touches their foot, for these aquatic undead, are said to grab and hug their victim down into the depths, desperate for love and affection. They are also said to sometimes gather in caves and lure people in with this mournful, but enthralling song, where the same thing takes place. It is for this reason that the Day of the Drowned/Feeding of the Sjósöngvaris takes place, to try and placate or free these ghastly undead from their torment. There are also a number of “famous” Sjósöngvari stories, of specific sailors and them being lost to their lives, a number of the most prominent ones arranged into the “Sjósöngvari Saga,” a grim epic poem.
The Fridurfolk are well known for their artisans, who engage in a variety of art forms in order to support their communities but also make their homes beautiful and lived in, adding color to generally drab surroundings. The most common form of art practiced is painting, usually on stone surfaces but on animal skins, parchments, and other forms of flat stretches surfaces. Their art style is easily discernible as “primitive,” though it could more generously be labeled as simplistic, with bold and lineless shapes arranged together to create the desired image. This visual style somewhat carries over into their carving style, though the overall style and forms more closely follows those seen in the Velheim work. Unlike the Velheim though, the Fridurfolk largely carve into rock and soapstone as compared to trees, due to there being limited naturally-harvestable wood in their surroundings that is not needed for fishing equipment housing. Their artwork is largely inclined toward nature and depicting animals, especially those carvings which exist within their Tilbeiðslusteinns. For more refined artisans though, the decoration of their contracts and law-scripts is a common practice to help create a visual analogy or symbolism on what the writing is about.
Fridurfolk music is the very heart of their Culture as a happy and peaceful society. Few of their songs are actually written art, many musicians instead learning their craft by ear and constant repetition. They get this practice by attending the (almost) weekly gatherings held by various families and people in their village in celebration of this or that, the reason ultimately just a formal excuse to meet and socialize. Their tunes range from upbeat dance tunes that get the entire crowd moving, to sea shanties that compel everyone to sing along, to intense and grand songs focused on telling a story. The instruments most commonly used at these events and by the musicians in their society are wind and percussion instruments (the flute, drum, etc.) though the hand-harp (a small stringed instrument capable of being held in one’s arms) is also a common string instrument. Vocalists are common as well. Ranging from the combined efforts of female choirs or the masculine chanting of lyrics among hand drums, or even the simple storytelling tune of an elder amongst a sound of flutes. Fridurfolk dancing is also rather extensive and lively, their moves largely involving swings in and around, usually in gendered groups being the sexes meet in a combined effort. Their skills and focus on dancing if one is not playing an instrument has given birth to the saying “If you’ve never danced with a Fridur lass, you’ll never be able to win a Fridur lass.”
Fashion among Fridurfolk is very simple, for all classes of their society. Men’s fashion primarily consists of v-neck shirts, and some have a lighter undershirt. This is paired with simple fabric pants and shoes, with leg wrappings protecting their legs. There is often minor embroidery along the hems and other areas of their clothing, though an added bit of flair sometimes exists in the form of cloth tucked into their belts or sashes wound around their midsection. Woman’s fashion typically consists of similar clothing, with them wearing a much longer V-neck “shirt” with similar clothing on the rest of their body. Rather than an undershirt over top of their dress-shirt, they instead have a heavier overdress, that acts both as a work apron and protection from the cold. It is laid over the shoulders and laced along the sides and sometimes chest to keep in place. They also tend to have fine edging to these overdresses, comparable to the lace of more urban, southern regions. Due to trade with Velheimers, clothing worn by their more well-off members often features fur, and much of their current jewelry also comes from their sister Culture. The Velheimers have also imparted on some parts of their society the practice of not wearing undergarments though the majority of Fridurfolk still do possess light woolen or cotton undershorts, for both sexes. The Fridurfolk do have one custom in dress, and that is that they often possess flowers in their hair. This is rarer for men, who usually only do it during celebrations, but women are known to wear flower crowns or weave them into their hair for days until the flower fully withers away.
The Fridurfolk have a very low impact style of architecture, seeking to be at harmony with nature. Their major structure is the turf house, an outgrowth of older, wood-based homes they once used. A frame of wood with loosely paneled walls made up the walls with small shutter windows while the roof was supported by two rows of columns. A central space with a small roof opening allowed smoke through though it is also common for the smaller homes to keep firepits entirely outside. The structure’s external surface is covered in dirt and plant life, which gradually allows nature to reclaim the external area of the structure. Some particularly large turf homes are built into hills and set into the earth, making them meld into the landscape even better than these structures. The Fridurfolk also “build” the Tilbeiðslusteinn, which is in fact usually a carved out boulder. Due to its solid location in the earth and immovable, the Fridurfolk see them as the ultimate site of worship while also feeling that devotion at such stones decreases the chances of Forseth Daggrondr occurring. They slowly carve a small hollow into the stone before layering the outside with white plaster or paint while the inside sees an altar and interior artwork carved into the alcove. Usually in the middle of the altar or just below the central image is the Essence Symbol, which is carved in a standard pattern set out by tradition. When all is done, some claim the structure looks like a cracked egg with the alcove curved into it at ground level, but it is still a unique structure that often blends into the landscape, especially after a snowfall.
The Fridurfolk are a hardy people with a diverse diet given to them by their range of activities. Höfsauð is their most traditional and well-known meal, as it is often consumed at large gatherings, which is often when outsiders around. The dish consists of a seared sheepshead with little seasoning to fully embrace the animal’s natural meaty flavoring. It is often served with leftover bits of fish or animal fats as well as herbs to infuse the meat with these extra flavors. It is largely disliked by other Ailor populations. The Fridurfolk also acquire the dish known as Sneið from their herding activities. The dish is a popular dish consumed by a family, all using a spoon, to scoop and eat the soft yogurt-like cheese as a dessert but it can also be eaten with other goods as part of a wider meal. As for other foods, the Fridurfolk also eat a lot of fish and other aquatic animals, which greatly varies based on fishing location and time of year. They do a variety of things to these fish, from frying them to cooking them, to mixing them in with other meats. Finally, the Fridurfolk are known to eat and make pastries for major occasions, lacking the materials to make these goods constantly and instead gaining them through trade. The dough is often cut into designs of nature, most often plantlife, and the result in a flaky, but delicious treat.
The Fridurfolk are most commonly associated with the color white as well as their most well-known Essence Symbol, often called “The Helm.” It evokes a stylized ship’s wheel, even though few to no Fridurfolk craft actually have that. The Symbol is unique in that it appears on multiple works of art and is unrelated to a specific god, rather being focused on unity, and that all lines connect to each other, no matter their origin (represented by the four lines crossing each other, each with a minor difference in decoration at their line end). It can also mean death, as all fates are one, and all share a common time in life. There are several other meanings, but the Symbol is most known to outsiders thanks to some in the Skagger Horde co-opting it for their banners and shields, warping the meaning to be a prayer for strength in battle and a fear-inducing magical charm. Another symbol for their society is the somewhat comedic fish in the mouth of a sheep standing on a rock, representing their fishing activities, their herding activities, and their sites of worship being stones.
- Fridurfolk are believed to have inspired myths of dancing fairies in other Northern societies.
- Fridurfolk art, despite being looked down on by many members of high society, is still used by many people across the Ailor world. Their people are well known for having designed house banners and symbols for charters for the past several decades.