Though there are many different peoples across Ehdrigohr there are some commonalities that they share.
As a rule Ehdrigohr is not a land where human settlements have evolved into a feudal life model. Most of the cultures maintain a fairly tribal aspect to them with power typically held in the hands of an elected council. The only group to steer away from this idea has been the Beyduun of the Salduun Empire with their formation of what they call an “empire” with its centralized government ruled by the emperor. Even the emperor, however, has a council of 7 Barbers who provide guidance. The Beyduuni tribesmen outside of the empire still retain their elder councils.
The people of Ehdrigohr count time passing over the course of the year through “moons” and seasons. There is one moon in the sky and it has four phases. The phases are generally referred to a “resting”, “waking”, “gazing”, and “fading”. An entire cycle of these phases takes 28 days and is referred to as moon. When someone says “a moon has passed” this means that the moon has gone through its entire 28 day cycle once. This term is also used to describe the cycle of a woman as Han-wi the Song that is associated with the moon is believed to be mostly female and to control flows of all sorts in the world.
When looking at the layout of a winter count, turtles are often the symbol seen as a foundation image for turtles are the long, lived keepers of time. To look at a turtles shell is to see the way of the hoop.
There are 13 great scales on a turtle’s back and 28 small ones that surround those large scales forming the rim of the turtles shell. This is the pattern that Han-wi instructed the people to use to count her passage as she watches over the people in the night.
So, like the turtle’s shell, there are 13 of these moons to a winter count and each is named. The names equate to the seasons and describe them and what they mean to the people. As the nature of the seasons change depending where you are in the world, so too do the names. The list below are the names as used within the Shil and is the closest thing to a universally accepted accounting of moons. This is because the Trail of Slumbers begins in the Shil and works it’s way out to the other lands. Even then, when people are in doubt as to whether they are speaking of the same moon, they can refer back to the turtle diagram.
Name of the Moons of the Shil:
- Popping trees
The year, or Winter Count, ends with the end of winter. Every new year begins with spring.
With all of the terrible things waiting to feed in the night the people had to very quickly figure out how to protect themselves. The answer to this came from the Song known as Creuwry and a handful of the Watchers. They gave the people the secret of the Spirit Towers. It was the first great gift given to the people by the Songs.
These structures represent a promise, a covenant, between the Songs and the people. This promise dictates that the Watchers and the Songs will lend their power to the protection of the people. The people must, in turn, work towards restoring the world and bringing balance and honor the Songs as Great Elders.
The spirit tower is a structure, bound in the Principles, that emanates a protective aura that covers an area. This sanctified area allows a settlement to grow without shivers being able to get in too easily. The protection provided by a spirit tower is not fool proof and tend to only keep out the weaker of shivers. The faces carved on the spirit tower begin to hum and sing when a shiver comes to its perimeter.
Each tower is carved with the symbols and faces of the songs, and some of the Watchers, facing in all directions. It is these faces which are enchanted to sing and hum when shivers are nearby. The particular combination of spirits and symbols will vary from region to region. There is even some variance from town to town.
Before a settlement can be made, some type of spirit tower must be erected. The creation of a spirit tower is an arduous task that often requires a multitude of craftsmen and Mystery workers to create. It is far easier to maintain a tower than it is to build a new one. There are, however, master craftsmen, even whole orders, devoted to the creation of these objects.
In general, the taller the tower, the greater the area it protects. Unfortunately tall towers cause a lot of distortion in the Mysteries as well. Some believe that towers that are too tall could actually weaken the fabric of the weave and cause a breach. The energy they generate is sometimes a beacon to the more intelligent shivers who will herd lesser shivers before them in an effort to cause the tower to produce so much energy that a breach begins.
It is because of this phenomenon that most people live in small villages centered around a small tower. Large towns and cities will have multiple spirit towers that protect the various sections of the settlement.
The Barata philosophers have been known to experiment with tall towers on occasion. Some believe that there are particular configurations of the songs and watchers that can be used to cause purposeful controlled breaches into the traveling lands, allowing for unprecedented travel across Ehdrigohr. They believe that in the days before the War of Sorrows that the people had such things. Others believe this is madness.
The tallest towers known were built by the Urali to the north of the Wite Rim. They have what are known as their “High Towers” which are gigantic guard towers which are built to resemble a spirit tower. Atop the High Towers are great spirit towers that are dedicated to Mahto and the Thunderers. They are wondrous beacons that emanate light in the darkness. In addition, bolts of lighting can be seen streaking down from them when shivers come near and BearWalkers who sleep there are strengthened against the long, cold nights to come.
The Wu Towns are the only large cities known to not be teeming with spirit towers. It seems that the great turtles they are built upon, have their own protective magic (or medicine) due to their connection with BryahdWhoShapesEarth. The “Low” of the Wu towns are said to carve the faces of the songs and watchers into the shells of the great beasts.
Graveyards, and grave markers are denoted with special versions of spirit towers the keep the dead at peace. Most people try to avoid leaving mass quantities of dead people lying around and burn them instead. Invariably graveyards are a bad situation waiting to happen. This can’t be avoided in the case of battle fields. When a graveyard does exist it is typically erected in a remote place reducing the chances for sudden attacks on settlements.
Effects of the Spirit Towers
The area protected by a tower has certain effects upon a shiver.
- First it causes them to be seen. Shivers in the area a shrouded by a white luminous fire. This fire causes them great pain and will force most to retreat.
- Second no shiver without form can possess a fevered person or inhabit a corpse. (Really powerful evil things and curses have ways of getting around this effect but it’s the exception not the rule)
- If a tower is dedicated to one of the songs then it can have other effects within its zone of protection. Such effects include healthier crops, healthier children, protection from winds, and others.
- Within the area of a Spirit Tower there are certain rituals that can be performed by anyone with skill in Lore, Medicine, or Art Performance focused around protection rituals. The most common such rituals are the Bringing of New Life and the Sending to Journey.
- The former is used to usher new children into the world, reducing the chances of a stillborn child and terrible opportunity for some formless shiver to talk hold of the dead child while still in the womb.
- The latter usher the dying into the Road, the traveling lands where they begin a journey of recreation which eventually brings them back to the world as new life. Again this reduces the chances of shivers or curses moving into the dying or recently deceased.
There are smaller personal versions of spirit towers for protecting individual homes and portable ones that the WayWalkers and WayWardens will often use when out in the wilds for extended periods. The catch with these is that they have an initial period where they must be charged. The magic of a spirit tower is one of a union of Earth and Sky. A tower must be planted into the earth for 24 hours and then exposed to the sun for a day before they can work. So any camp or caravan that carries such a “portable” tower must do so with the understanding that for at least one night they will have to defend themselves. This makes it only really useful when you’re to do an extend stay in one place.
WayWalkers have found that a spirit tower will not work in a cursed or tainted area. Such a place must be cleansed of it’s taint. They’ve even found that a spirit tower can be corrupted by exposing it to bad places, or when defiled by powerful evil beings.
When this happens the tower becomes the epicenter of a festering taint that attracts creatures of corruption and eventually becomes a curse. Such curses can be defeated by destroying the corrupted tower but doing so is typically no mean feat due to the dark things that will gather to protect it.