|Common Names||Highlanders, Geep-Shaggers|
|Social Classes||Herders, Hunters, Warriors|
|Major Cities||Kinwrey, Galloy, Llanswyrth, Dunfarrigh, Kinlass, Grisvarna|
The Highland Ceardian culture is a child culture of Old Ceardian, but developed so far away from its origins and sister cultures that it became its own distinct culture. Highland Ceardian is commonly considered one of the smaller cultures of the Ailor race, being limited to a small region in the Regalian Archipelago, limited to a small number of people. That being said, the Highland Ceardian culture has had some major influences on the Regalian Empire at large, as well as all Ailor. The Highland Ceardian culture is often synonymous with Highland culture of Gallovian culture, terms interchangeably used because they all refer to the area where this culture flourishes, the Gallovian Highlands. Highland Ceardian culture is often seen, (much like Holzskagger), as a more civilized Velheim culture, though this is not exactly the case. The Highland Ceardian culture has more in common with Ceardian and Anglian than Velheim, though is in many ways just as passionate and strength-based as the other Northern cultures. With a long history of martial prowess, local independence, and global skepticism, the Highlanders are seen as recluse to outsiders, yet warm and welcoming to any who would end up on their doorstep, whether it be to taste their Highland beverages, engage in physical sports, or engage in one of the many cultural rituals.
Highland Ceardian as a culture developed solely on the Gallovian Lordship island group north of Anglia, in the Regalian Archipelago. Highland Ceardians were originally old Ceardians that migrated from the old Talach lands, south of the Archipelago, to the north of Anglia and Gallovia during the decades just before the Cataclysm. Old Ceardians lived there for many years in peace, relatively undisturbed by the developments in the larger Anglian and Wirtemcaller landmasses, and completely missing the Cataclysm or the Five Family Rebellion. Around 20 AC, the Highland Ceardians, (then still Old Ceardians), lost contact with their Anglian counterparts who had all become Anglian. Around this time, their lands were invaded by the Skagger Horde who occupied the majority of the coastal areas of the Gallovian landmasses, enforcing their own law on the land which is later referred to as the Skagelaw, a name that within Gallovian history is also used to refer to the period of Velheimer occupation. Skagelaw came to an end around 52 AC when the Skaggers were pushed off the island and the islands were aggressively colonized by Anglians. This turned around again in 79 AC when the Skaggers pushed back, were repelled in 151 AC, came back again in 153 AC, and were finally ejected permanently in 161 AC.
The constant wave of Skagger invasions highly militarized the Highland Ceardians, while also pushing them further into the mountains. When the Skaggers finally disappeared permanently, the Anglian colonization of the southern Pach islands, as well as the region around Kinwrey, the only city in the Gallovian heartland, caused their culture to be infused with many Anglian principles. While the Velheimer martial aspects and laws were maintained, the Highland Ceardian culture moved somewhat away from the Anglian ideals imported, largely because of the roughness of the land and the inhospitality of the mountain regions. The jovial Anglian culture was not compatible with harsh living conditions on the Gallovian islands, resulting in a more sober and strength based ideal. The following century of social and cultural isolation refined the individual traditions and customs. Unionism had been ever present in Gallovia, but it took until 242 AC to seriously convert the majority of the population, having been largely confined to the coastal cities up until that point. As such, with the ever present Oldt Fayth and minimal Unionist encroachment, Unionist elements were never fully imported into their culture and it remained very independently-minded, albeit part of the Empire.
Language and Dialects
The Highland Ceardians speak Common just like other Ceardian cultures, though have developed their own slang and dialect. This dialect is not as severe as dialect changes between Ithanian and the Leutz-Vixe Dialect, but can sometimes still be difficult to understand for those who speak flat Ceardian Common. Notable differences are the past ending of "ed" turning more into a "t" instead of a "d", vowels with "u" or "o" being pronounced as “uu” like stone being pronounced as “stuun”, and a hard stop between vowels "e" and "a" placed after each other. For example, “bread” being pronounced as “bree-ad”. A major change in pronunciation as well as writing, is the inclusion of “ch” as its own consonant, which produces a guttural throat noise, replacing where the consonant "g" is often found in Common. Common slang for Highland Ceardians occur with adjective words in sentences. For example, the word "dreich" is slang for dreadful, "dourthy" meaning thirsty (from drought), "canny" being slang for cannot, or "daft" being slang for stupid. In some cases, whole words derive meanings from others. For example, the word "how". While "how" is still used in its traditional sense, it can also be used to replace "why", while "no" can be used to replace "not". This creates situations where Highlanders say, “how no,” instead of, “why not”. Highland Ceardian also has a diminutive ending for smallness, by adding "ie" behind a word. Examples of this principle are small bird becoming birdie, small shop becoming shoppie, and small town becoming townie. Finally, Highland Ceardian is home to the shortenings, where multiple words are collected and compounded with apostrophes. Prime examples of this are, “am I not,” being “amn’t I,” or, “is not,” (ain’t not) being, “an’t ” or, “you are not,” being “yn’t”.
Traditional Highland Ceardian naming customs closely reflect the Anglian and Velheim culture in that there are a set group of suffixes at the end. There are also many similarities to Ériunin names, as both groups were born out of ancient Ceardian roots, possibly also like the Anglians and Velheim were. For men, the suffixes are -aden, -helm, -air, -har, -idh and -lan while women end in -ian, -gi, -ga, -ona, and -aid. Names of firstborns are often the same as their father or mother, resulting in legacies of men named “Raden” before a second son or a son-in-law takes over when a firstborn dies. These customs, however, are rapidly eroding despite the isolated nature of the society as increased warfare in recent years has meant more Gallovian men called into service where they have heard a thousand and one new names in their comrades and the sons these men speak of. This is particularly present among the children of local leaders who see a need to at least pay lip service to the outside world. That being said, Anglian names are also fairly common among the Highland Ceardians due to their close proximity. Below are listing of traditional Highland Ceardian names as well as recent names formed out of their interaction with the outside world:
Some might assume that Highland Ceardian culture follows the laws of the Regalian Empire, however, this is incorrect. While the ports cities do, they are not of the Highland culture and instead represent the blend of cultures present within the wider Regalian Empire. Deeper inland is where native Gallovian law exists, and it is very similar to that of the Velheim concept of Jovr’s Justice. However, the religious connotations of this system have been removed and so what remains are punishments and ideas of ritual combat similar to that of Velheim protocol. Also, Highlander society is highly based on brotherhood, and if two males have established a blood-bond to each other, their own families are considered one and law customs like Trille- and Mord-Skulle, (the names changed to Old Ceardian terminology), often feature them heavily. For the carrying out of this justice, the Gallovians do not have a Rakhr, and instead, the village Ceann is a presider over all judicial matters. The Ceann is their chief and often the leader of their Freats (a type of mercenary/war bands) if such a role is required. It could be compared to a mayor or alderman and these Ceann report to the loose aristocracy that live across the region. To list every variation in their law practices would be impossible because of how widespread local modifications are, but suffice to say it is often brutal and not formally recognized by the Regalian Empire. The Gallovian nobility is often charged with asserting Regalian Law onto these people, but this is difficult and most only nominally succeed. The region is isolated and often cited as being of little value, so the Regalian Empire has yet to formally punish nobles for this lack of a successful clamp down.
Lifestyle and Customs
Highland Ceardian families are patriarchal in their structure and like the Anglians, often have many children. Unlike Anglians, however, many Highlanders are herdsmen and hunters, not farmers, and so their number of children is often limited to between one and four as one cannot have too many mouths to feed. Families rarely arrange marriage in Highlander culture, instead allowing nature to take its course most of the time. Unlike other cultures, however, Highlanders have no real discernable marriage age that one would need to comply to, to avoid societal ridicule. Many Highland Ceardians do not marry until well into their thirties, and partners who have children out of wedlock are not uncommon. Pregnancy when young or outside of marriage is not discouraged, resulting in many young parents who only end up marrying after their 3rd child. This practice is, however, far less popular among the aristocracy who continue to marry by Regalian ideals.
Highland Ceardians also have very lax rules on compatible relationship practices. What is generally considered incest among the other Regalian cultures, (like first cousins or even half siblings), are considered perfectly normal among the Highland Ceardians. Much like the Velheim culture, same-sex relations are not shunned. Unlike the clear master-slave relation among same-sex Velheimers, however, Highland Ceardian maintains a very equality based relation where one spouse or lover seeks not to overpower the other in a show of dominance, and instead share an equal relationship. This extends onto opposite-sex relations also. While the Highland Ceardian culture is strictly patriarchal, men seek to empower their women within the family structure as second in command. This means that in a family unit, a mother has more say than an heir or first born son, (even if the child is not of the mother), despite this son inheriting everything on his father’s death.
The Highland Ceardian culture has a unique social construct called Dearth. Dearth can loosely be translated to be fraternities or maternities; social clubs that are limited to specific genders that engage in social and bonding activities. Dearths are strongly present in every level of Highland Ceardian culture, where every Highland Ceardian, (and foreigner who lives in Gallovia long enough), joins a single Dearth by which they associate themselves. Dearths all have their own unique name and identity. For example, the Foraoise Dearth is centered around the south Mochain forests and uses greens in their Kiltach clothing, while decorating their hair with dyed feathers. Meanwhile, the all-female Abhainn Tolach Dearth is a river based Dearth south of Puchlain, a major city in the south of Galovia. This Dearth engages in weekly rowing competitions and often engages in social swimming activities. Membership to a Dearth is for life, and in many ways, members of a Dearth are treated like family. Not all members of the same family unit end up joining the same Dearth, brothers may in fact join rivalling Dearths, as Dearths may also compete with one another in friendly competitions. Dearth usually have a singular compound called Deartherbaile, or the Home of the Fraternity, from where meetings are held. Dearths do not have a specific hierarchy or leadership structure, instead preferring to keep things democratic and allow every member to cast votes equally on major decisions. Most non Highland Ceardians consider Dearths to be toxic gatherings of macho masculine culture, even for women, where greening and hazing has the members perform humiliating rituals on new members as a means to build trust and brother or sisterhood among them.
Dearths are where the so called “bro culture” comes from. The words “bro” (and the female variant “mae”) and “dude” are terms popularized by the Dearths as means of communicating or addressing each other as well as others. Bro or Mae are terms used to identify members of the same Dearth, bro being a shortened nickname version of brother, and mae being a shortened nickname version of maevhin, or my sister in slang. Dude is a more universal term used to define any person regardless of Dearth membership. It as a word exists as the antithesis of doodle, a Highland Ceardian slang word for a stuck up city dwelling prat, while dude is a term more laxly applied to someone who Dearth members like spending time with, or like talking to. “Man”, being a shortened nickname version of Mannclad, which is a formal slang address of a stranger, is less frequently used by Dearth members, yet still within common tongue usage to refer to someone regardless of gender. This sometimes confuses women of other culture, as Highland Ceardians can often be caught referring to them as man.
Highlander gender roles may seem clear to the outsider and be just like their families. It is a patriarchy, with men doing much of the work while women often perform domesticated work. However, it is understood that a woman’s work is vital to the survival of a family and they are not excluded from praise because of their gender, and as explained before, wives are raised to second in command of the household over all other male members, even brothers or sons of the patriarch. Their weaving helps create warm garments to keep men warm out in the fields, and their cooking of food correctly helps ensure that men stay strong. Because of this, women are allowed to speak at town gatherings but ultimately, defer to their husbands because the man is still the protector of the family, he does the hunting and the fighting for them. There has never been a known female Ceann in Highland Ceardian society as such positions are not for them.
The Highland Ceardians, much like the Heartland Ceardians and Anglians have a massive Unionist following with only a nominally small population of Oldt Fayth followers, and smaller pockets of Dragon Worshipers in the southern Pach Islands. The coastal populations are generally universally Unionist, while small pockets of Oldt Fayth live further in-land into the mountains, and Dragon Worship is mostly concentrated on the small stepping stone islands further south towards the Anglian mountain ranges. Highland Ceardians live surprisingly peaceful together with other minority faiths. Their zeal to Unionism is low in comparison to New Regalians and even Heartland Ceardians, but this is largely because their faith comes from an expression of self-strengthening. Highland Ceardians do not pray or go to a temple or church. In fact. Gallovia itself only has a small handful of churches across all major landmasses, and there are in fact no churches on the Pach islands. Highland Ceardians instead have an open-air Morair which resembles a sort of amphitheatre mostly made out of volcanic plates of graphite stacked in a circle around a large circular stone. Highland Ceardians engage in Lecgaen wrestling matches as a means to praise the Imperial Spirit, or in their interpretation, to allow the Spirit’s blessings to flow through their physical prowess.
Literature and Folklore
Similarly to the Velheim people of northern Aloria, the Highlanders do not actively recognize the role of the state on their everyday lives however as they are a war-inclined people, do recognize the idea of statehood on that level. The Regalian Empire which they are apart of serves a purpose, as a military union of Ailor people against hostile intent. Most of the time Highlanders assume it is Elves who Regalia fights, often not fully aware of the huge variety of Ailor cultures and groups who have their own states and who have in the past opposed the Regalian Empire. This has lead to some disillusionment with older fighters, who have seen more campaigns than younger warriors, where Regalia fought against other Ailor as well as people very similar to the Highlanders themselves. As for the representatives of the Regalian Empire, such as the nobility, Highlanders judge them on their manly qualities due to the heavy warrior ethos in the native Gallovian people. They valuable physical strength, combat prowess and other martial skills over more intellectual ones. They frequently wield large weapons as well as fight barehanded when they go into combat, and an uncommon pastime is to wrestle the bears and wolves found in the more wilder areas of the homeland. Highland Ceardians have a very independent mindset, believing that to subject under someone else is a disgrace and a shape, unless said person treats them like family as opposed to subjects. Highland Ceardians greatly appreciate individual freedoms and societal communion without impeding on someone else’s living standards.
The Highland Ceardian culture is often a superstitious one, with several common tales alongside numerous smaller-scale local ones. The most common is the tales of Finlan and his Fincaogad who fled from Elven lands and defeated multiple dangerous, one of a kind monsters native to the Highlands. There is some belief that Finlan might have been a leading Ailor slave, or perhaps at least some of the creatures were magical Elven experiments that escaped after the Cataclysm. There are also separate tales of creatures like the Geep-faol, a horrendously mutated Geep-human hybrid who roams the hills in search of human flesh and the Loch Lennon Lake Monster, a supposed lake serpent found in a lake deep in the interior of northern Gallovia. All of these are seen as exaggerations of encounters from the slave origins of the Highlanders or fabricated. If they were ever real, their remains have yet to be discovered by scholars. Still, despite the size of Gallovia, it should be surprising that vast areas of the Gallovian Highlands have never been explored and in many ways represent the final unmapped zones of the Regalian Archipelago. Many Highlanders believe hidden mysteries and secrets still lie in the valleys beyond the jagged Uchlaìn mountain ranges that have been too inhospitable to pass for centuries.
Highland Ceardians have a deceptively simple yet intricate artistic expression. The most obvious expression of their art is their tartan woven cloths, more notably the Kiltach. Colors and patterns of the Kiltach are used to identify family, heritage as well as wealth and status. Woodcarving and metalworking are also frequent artistic pursuits, though as opposed to the beast focused designs of the Velheimer, Highland Ceardians use geometric shapes, knots and woven patterns in their forging to produce unique designs called Bandsa. Highland Ceardians are also known for making historical draperies so-called Bacheu Tapestries. These Tapestries can often be dozens of feet long, and record with embroidery some family or national history by depicting scenes.
The Kiltach is the national dress of the Highland Ceardians which is used by both women and men. Men traditionally wear a Vielt, which resembles a long sleeve and long front and back shirt with only minimal stitching around the shoulders and sides. This Vielt has no formal buttons or strings, meaning it is worn on the chest and arms like a bathrobe almost, tied by the waist with a leather belt. Then, they wear a Torld, which is a neck and shoulder piece usually made out of leather or copper or silver. Upon the left shoulder of this Torld is attached a Kiltach Speld, a metal cast object that is often made in the image of a personal item, animal or family symbol which is used to anchor the Kiltach to the Torld. The Kiltach is then allowed to drape down to the right hip, where it tied with another Kiltach Speld against the belt that holds the Vielt in place. Finally, the Kiltach is then draped around the waist of the person, allowing to form a skirt of sorts. Normally, nothing is worn underneath the draped Kiltach aside from leather boots, but the more urbanized and aristocratic families have started wearing leather breeches to avoid accidents with strong winds and the ridicule of other Ailor cultures.
For men, the national dress is arranged in such a way that if one were to detach the Kiltach Speld on the Torld, it would cause the entire Kiltach to drape down, after which the male can then simply slip out of the Vielt while it remains attached by the belt and forms a back skirt over the Kiltach to expose the bare chest. This is largely practical because of the physical work that Highland Ceardian engage in, as well as their need to be ready for a match of Lecgaen wrestling at practically any turn, whether it be to settle an honor dispute at a pub, or to engage in a religious wrestling match. Women wear their clothing very similarly, though their Kiltach is attached differently. While they also wear a Vielt, their Torld is actually made of thick wool stitched onto a soft leather surface which drapes halfway down their chest and elbows. Then their Kiltach is not attached by any Speld, rather, it is draped over the head like a scarf and then loosely pinned up against the top of the Torld with two Spelds, loose enough to make the whole Kiltach resemble a cape more than an actual headscarf. The loose ends are then usually weighed down with Kiltach Chestnuts, which are small metal weights attached to the cloth with small chains to give form to the fabric, something that only occurs for women. Kiltachs are only worn after the age of 14, while children continue to wear regular regalian lap clothing. This is because Kiltachs have both religious and cultural connotations towards adulthood.
Highland cultured cuisine is traditionally filled with dishes related to the Gallovian Geep, one of the most common animals to find in Gallovia. Mutton roasted with local greens is a ubiquitous dish to find, as is Geep milk and types of Geep cheese. For those living on the coast, however, fish is far more common, and Geep is seen as a delicacy. All parties also eat Highland Creakers, children with some distaste but adults with gusto as to outsiders who have tasted it: “It tastes like Common Farm Chicken”.
The Highland Ceardians have multiple forms of sporting activities. The foremost two are Lecgaen westling and Log hurling. Lecgaen tournaments are held as regular activities almost monthly, but Lecgaen fights are also frequent during religious activities. So called Strongman games are held near the foothills of the Gallovian Highlands which involve strong men hurling and carrying boulders around in an attempt to be crowned the strongest of Humans. Log Hurling is also a frequently engaged in sport where men pick up a clean cut log of a birch tree and attempt to throw it as far as possible. Further sports include Javelin throwing, ball and chain throwing, metal keg tossing, river jumping with long poles and Anglian Black Bull riding. These are largely all male only sports given the male disposition to such physically arduous sports, though women also have some female only sports. The most commonly practiced is riverlog shooting, where women run alongside a river which has logs floating on the surface and moving downstream, while the women shoot colored arrows at the logs. Whoever has the most amount of arrows embedded in the log at the end of the race is declared the winner. Both women and men also participate in log cutting competition, where cutting down a similarly sized tree the fastest is considered the major feat, or Tilpael climbing, where contestant attempt to climb a stone pillar with only their Kiltach as support.
Highland culture is keenly represented in the eyes of other cultures in dress such as the Kiltach or animals like the Gallovian Geep and the Gallovian Black Mountain Bear. Highlanders are also routinely associated with the School of Lecgaen which exists in their land with possibly ancient Ceardian origins. Another major symbol of the Ceardian Highlanders is the Goat Bellow, a musical instrument made of a bag and various pipes attached to it. The bag itself is usually made of goat stomach or hide cured in a bag shape, while the pipes are used to blow air into the bag and push it out again much like a flute. Highland Ceardians use these Goat Bellows everywhere, from announcing the work hour in the morning to accompanying Lecgaen wrestling matches to funeral music. Most other cultures find the noise produced by these instruments horrifying, but the object is generally seen as an object of pride for the Highland Ceardians.
- Much of the Gallovian nobility have only very distant Highland Ceardian roots, with more in common with Heartlanders.
- Gallovia, and by extension Highland culture, didn’t have a population over 100,000 until just after 200 AC when a Regalian Scholar’s Court mission helped cure the deadly “Galloorian Mist Disease”.