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A Look Further

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Alexandria on Lake Milena, with view of Scyfling siege camp in the mountain passes, 1772


[[Art by me]]


A Look Further on The Scyflings

A treatise written by Her Royal Highness Alexandria Karina Barbanov

Published under The Northern Geographical Society


After a horrid and bloody decade, the war of the Scyfling Invasion has finally come to an end with the death of Bralt the Boar.  This has been a war that has crippled both the populations of Crows and Scyflings alike, for many had perished in the countless battles and raids.  With the bloodshed finally coming to an end, perhaps now is the chance to find peace between us Crows and Scyflings that remain.


Our histories have always been intertwined, even if many of us Haensemen weren’t aware of who, exactly, the Scyflings were until the arrival of Bralt’s fleet or our rediscovery of Athera.  Our ancestors of Siegrad had once known the ancestors of the Warchiefs that had recently invaded our shores.  The Scyflings had been native to the land of Athera, living as hunter-gatherers when our ancestors and the rest of the descendants had first discovered the continent to construct their cities and homes


Siegrad was erected upon the territory of the Scyflings and an influx of our ancestors began to make home of their forests, surely disrupting their ways of life and survival.  Either from the stubbornness of our ancestors, theirs, or some other barrier separating our people from theirs had caused the Scyflings to make raids upon Siegrad’s farmsteads, hamlets, and whatever else that was not shielded by stone walls.  Life of the sword and pillaging began for them there, and only became strengthened when Athera was torn asunder by the Great Worm.


Our ancestors and the rest of the descendants had fled the ruined continent in search of a better place to call home, while the Scyflings stayed and thought this as a victory for their people; at last, the land would be left to them again.  Unfortunately, there would be no going back to how things originally were.  The Great Worm had caused an insurmountable amount of damage and forever scarred and ruined Athera; the soil was infertile, the weather was unforgiving, and the wildlife only grew more dangerous.  Food and comfort became scarce and the Scyflings were forced to turn against one another for their own survival, forming clans that would raid and pillage the other.


The Scyflings had once had their own language and dialects; however, with their interactions over the generations with those unfamiliar with it, they gradually resorted to Common - though their thick accents remain.  It now remains broken up, though it is used similarly to how Naumarian is used by Haensemen.  They have no name for their tongue, for they hadn’t had many other languages to compare it to in Athera for it to require one.


Their language is rather rough on the ears, and seems almost guttural; however, I think it pleasant in its own way and fascinating to learn.  The way that I had learned all of this, as well as having been able to understand Scyfling culture more, has been through my many talks with Segn, otherwise known as the Scyfling Warlord called The Vile Tooter.  I feel like I have learned a great deal from him, and have appreciated his company and wisdom greatly; I would call him a dear friend to me.  The words that Segn had taught me were:


Skathrynn: Battle-bard; Segn had been one of these, favoring his flute.  He would use his tunes and melodies to command his men, taunt/distract his enemies, and even - as Segn describes it - romanticize death for his men in battle; a form of inspiration, perhaps.


Myrka: This is used to describe someone that becomes overly intoxicated, or as “plastered drunk,” as Segn has put it.


Skai: A death in battle worthy of a warrior.


Roskai: Supposedly means the exact opposite of a death worthy of a warrior.


The final two, Skai and Roskai, seem to be rather important to focus on, for they offer more insight on the values of Scyfling warriors and their views of honor.  Why else would they have a word meant for a proper warrior’s death, if it had no true meaning to them?  I have yet to study further on what may or may not be considered a proper death of a warrior, but I’m led to believe that it should be something rather dramatic, honorable, and following the values of Scyflings.  An example of such would be a Scyfling fighting against Crows; “A good Scyfling would die fighting Crows”


To focus, for a moment, on the relationship of Crows and Scyflings… Their hatred toward us Haensemen is more complex than how it is seen.  They are not just blood-thirsty barbarians led by a man with a grudge toward our King, which is what I had once believed to be the truth and resented the Scyflings and Bralt for it; however, I had eventually learned and pondered more about the Crowslayer’s Vow and its connection to the invasion.


For generations, the Scyflings had been raised on tales of our Crow ancestors and grew up with the general belief that we were evil and cruel; it was a belief formed within the heads of most Scyflings that our people and theirs were to be sworn enemies due to our unfortunate past together - though to a less serious degree.  The severity of how much a Scyfling may dislike a Crow would vary per person; some might just sneer at you, while others might take joy in seeing our heads roll off our shoulders.  Though, while they raised their kids on tales of Crows, our ancestors forgot about the small groups of raiders that had once harassed the outskirts of their Kingdom.  


The Crowslayer’s Vow was just another tale shared around the Scyflings to help them imagine a life better than what was offered on Athera.  Though… With our rediscovery of the continent, hope was placed more in the Vow and Bralt had used it as a means to rally every Warchief under him, uniting the Scyfling forces at last to find the better life they all had been dreaming of for centuries.  Segn had told me that Bralt was a clever man who knew how to cater to people’s wants without them realizing it.  Not every Scyfling cares to see Haense destroyed and our King killed, some just want to live in peace on fertile soil and believed that Bralt would be the one to lead them to a gentler land to call home and raise their kids.


Scyflings seem to don a form of stoicism and carry a sense of pride in self strength and self control, and dismiss most aid from others, even if they might require it.  This stoicism is likely embedded into their lifestyles due to the unforgiving landscape Athera offered - as well as the state of unrest and war amongst the Scyfling clans before their unification for this war against us Crows.  Pain, suffering, and war, in their past homeland, was something to be expected.  To wallow in misery would mean death.


The way a Scyfling views the world is rather naturalistic, which coincides with their religion or cultural beliefs with nature itself.  Pray to the sea in hopes for good weather to sail and fish, pray to the soil in hopes of having a bountiful harvest; nature is something they respect, as I had mentioned in my previous treatise on Scyfling culture.  To quote myself:


“The Scyfling religion is a curious thing; their symbol that is somewhat reminiscent of God is the moon.  Scyfling Shamans claim its pale light holds a power within it and that, without the moon, Darkness would triumph.  The range of zeal a Scyfling holds for this belief, however, varies from person to person as faith varies in all men.  Despite that, the words and actions of Scyfling Shamans seem to be taken with respect by all Scyflings, though some still think of them as a bit strange or difficult to comprehend.”


When someone dies, it is believed by Scyflings that their spirit goes to the Moon.  I’ve not been able to learn much about their beliefs on afterlife, though I know that they believe there to be something.  There is a ceremony that I have come to learn about, that is similar to how we might pray to our deceased loved ones and Godani.  When a deceased Scyflings birth star is to arrive, which signifies their birthday, one may prepare a message to offer them.  The message must be carved out on a wooden board with runes of the Scyfling language, which can be rather intricate to make.  The message can be anything you’d want for it to be.  When a full moon comes and the sky is clear of clouds, the board is laid out in water beneath the moonlight and is left to be taken away by the currents.  There, the message shall be read by who it is meant for.


A Shaman isn’t required in order to do something such as that.  Scyfling Shamans seem capable of doing far more complex and curious rituals and ceremonies, due to their in-depth knowledge and understanding of plants and fungi.  A shaman is capable of making incredibly potent concoctions or utilizing other mixtures of their creation that allows for them to do a range of things.  There is Tyndraugg, which is a potion that grants the shaman inhuman strength, speed, and endurance for battle - which can be a rather terrifying thing to witness.


I have seen Tyndraugg used before by a Shaman named Taro the Tower, who had almost managed to single-handedly defeat an entire unit of Haeseni infantrymen raiding a Scyfling camp.  Though, there is more than just mixtures that can enhance a warrior physically.  Other Shamans are capable of sharing visions, similar to a dream to others; they can be quite vivid and intense and are rather intricate.  They can be powerful in swaying how a person might behave, being capable of turning the mightiest warriors around to run away in fear.  What is eaten in order to induce such visions is a peculiar pink powder called Mushpu.


Another trick used by Shamans, which I’m sure many have become familiar with now, is one that makes the Shaman difficult to detect.  It is an incense of sorts, which allows for the Shaman to move quietly and almost invisibly - much like a blur.  Such is how Qeun the Quiet, the Shaman Chief of the Scyflings, earned his title, for he uses it often.  I would still not describe him to be a threatening figure, for he does not hate us Haensemen; however, that does not mean he isn’t powerful.


I have met Qeun only a few times over these years and think him to be a rather odd though wise man.  I had sought him out when the war was nearing its end in hopes of trying to prevent the siege from happening.  My plan was to convince him to use his abilities to give Bralt a vision vivid and intricate enough to make him disinterested in continuing the war.  Segn had aided me in contacting Qeun, through the use of smoke signals in the northern forests of New Reza.


We were successful in contacting Qeun; however, he could not be convinced to aid me with my plan.  He had shown me that it wouldn’t stop the battle from coming, that it would be an inevitable thing to come - even if Bralt was convinced to step away from the war.  The Scyflings would have turned on each other, as they marched toward Haense, and death would still come for many on the battlefield.  He had displayed this all to me and those who accompanied me through a vision, which is something that shall remain ingrained in my memory for many years since it had been so life-like and intense.


During all of this, Qeun had said a rather curious comment about the war and what was to come: “There is an art to losing.”  It was something that stuck with me as we returned to New Reza, and lingered on my thoughts for many days.  Clearly, Qeun had meant something by this but he has always been vague with his words and intentions, which makes it difficult to decipher what, exactly, he is meaning.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the war had come to an end that I realized his meaning.  Bralt had wanted to lose.


I don’t know what had made him come to this decision in the end, I could ramble on with a bunch of theories and ideas but they shall all lead to the same end: Bralt is dead, the war is ended, and there is a good number of Scyfling refugees now and they should not be forgotten.


I have desired for there to be peace between our people and the Scyflings since the start of this war, but knew it was a near-impossible goal to end the conflict myself.  With Bralt’s death, I think there now will be a chance for us to live in peace and to help the remaining Scyflings to settle down.  Perhaps now they may be freed from lives led by the sword and pillaging, perhaps now they might have the salvation that they have sought.

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