A beforeword and the Niche we seek to fit:
Talon’s Grotto has been, since its founding, a place to try new ideas and different forms of rp. We seek the unique void left by Llyria while also trying not to fall into many of the shortcomings and failings of that nation. That niche being one revolving around a slice of life brand of rp with much less emphasis on zealous beliefs like many nations. We base our focus on individuals rather than entire groups. We try to help each other pursue each of our individual goals, creating a magical subculture that we would also like to grow. There’s a greater sense of empathy and shared emotions here, causing a greater sense of community and unity before IC and OOC. We seek a more cohesive sense of unity, based on shared morals and desire to belong and include others. We are a people, not a clan, nor a singular race; but a people based on a few basic morals and a drive towards a fun prosperous future together.
A Missive is posted across Arcas, the paper spelled of hard liquor and the sea. The note is signed by Castiel Valaker, Ambassador and head of Foreign affairs for the People of the Hawk.
People of Hope and Celebration.
Knowledge, self-indulgence, hope, and unity. These are the core values of the People of the Grotto. Since its founding, the people of Talon’s grotto have been one of acceptance and celebration. Welcoming people from all walks of life. Priding itself for its pursuit of self-expression and inclusion; over time interesting people began to focus more and more on the arts; plays, painting, song, and dance. This culture of art and indulgence continued to refine itself as more and more unique individuals added their own ideas and beliefs into it. Thus was born a unique set of traditions to exemplify the core beliefs of the Children of the Grotto. From these individuals came two core beliefs, dancing as a pair bound in the matter of necessity on the eternal dance floor. These two being the Children of the Hawk and Children of the Kraken. The hawks are known for this pursuit of wisdom and the arts. Oftentimes these men and women are considered the upper goal for the learned society due to their almost high elven ways. The children of the Kraken took self-indulgence to their own extreme, known for wild gatherings and even wilder parties. Booze, smoke, and dance make up the hallmarks of the Kraken’s brood, this sometimes leads to them being looked down on for their pursuit of debauchery.
Of Song and Substance.
From humble beginnings, our people flourished not on coin, but joy and the celebration of life and all it has to offer. When all we have is nothing, there is quite a lot to go around. As such, a core part of who we are has to do with our desire to partake in social gatherings. Parties and celebrations for both minor and major achievements alike. Love and hope flow as readily as the rum and verse during these joyous occasions. During such times it is normal for an individual of the hawk breaks out into song soon joined in a heartfelt choir of fellow practitioners of the eternal party. Such moments are a wonder to bear witness to as a symbol of trust and faith in one another. Taught to the youth from an early age these songs speak of various different things. Ranging from hope in the darkest times to expressions of empathy to others. Children of the Kraken are not above adding their own caterwauling to these verses but more often will opt to lead a toast if not spurred into singing by a hawk.
Gestures and greetings:
A simple greeting: two fingers from the dominant hand placed over the heart, fingers closed, head bowed lightly.
A formal greeting: A fist is made on the dominant hand and placed over the heart, if the person being greeted is of a position of great importance then the person is to kneel and bow their head. If not then it is a simple bow of the head. It is rare to do this to someone outside a position of great importance as the Grotto does not put one person above another.
The greeting being over one's heart is of intricate importance to our people. It symbolizes that it is not our race, creed, or social standing that unite us. Rather it is the heart and character of the person that brings us together as a culture and people. The two fingers represent the bond of the Hawk and Kraken in our culture. Humility is to be shown in both greetings, the people of the Grotto view no one as lesser and to do such is frowned on greatly.
Gestures of love and friendship:
Traditionally it is normal for the people of the Grotto to outright declare another as a friend or lover rather than it simply being assumed. This does not mean that it is socially acceptable to randomly declare a near-stranger a friend or potential lover. This is done through a variety of gifts. For a declaration of friendship, it is done with a bottle or serving of alcohol of any type. Most notably being that the strength of the alcohol directly correlates to how strong the friendship is viewed as.
For a declaration of love, there are two steps. The first being a declaration of affection to another. Essentially a formal request to court the target of one's love. This can be done by both sexes and neither is considered more important. How the declaration is made is done through poem, song, or toast. The contents of which consist of the mental and emotional qualities that the courter finds beautiful rather than physical looks. This can be done privately or in public, with the public declarations being considered very bold and risky. It is at this point that the person being declared to can deny the request to court. If this is the case, which is somewhat uncommon; the person making the declaration must forfeit all attempts at courting said person.
If the person accepts however then the pair will go into a period of mutual courtship in which they are not yet considered a couple. It is during this phase that the pair find out if they are compatible. Courtship can last years, even decades as there is no preset time limit. The pair can at any time decide that they are not right for one another, whether it is mutual or not. If they do however decide that they love one another they go onto the next step.
This step is the beginning of the pair's relationship together. They can choose to keep this private and to themselves or make it known to the world with the latter being far more common. If they decide to go public it is done through a poem written by both people as if they were having a conversation about why they care for another. Entire celebrations revolve around declarations of love and are a very intimate and cherished part of the culture of the Grotto.
Religion and worship
The people of the Hawk have no set religion though much of their worship is dedicated to the Spirits; Eternal Party, Eternal Art, Eternal Song, and Eternal Dance. These spirits represent the core values of our culture. Though many different entities are worshipped by our people. What unites us in terms of religion is our methods of worship which are used by our people in the worship of any entity. These include the Court of the Hawk, the Anthem of Veneration, and the Black Depths. These three methods of worship are unique to our people and are taught to children from a young age. They are both versatile, carrying a common theme and concept but otherwise being able to be based largely on the person using them. One person's Court, for example, could be so drastically different from another person that it would seem they share nothing in common. This applies to the Anthem and Depths as well. Because of this versatility, the religion of the Eternal Party does not infringe on the worship of any other deity. Rather it is our method of worship that remains at our core instead of the practitioner’s conviction.
Court of the Hawk:
The Court of the Hawk, known as “The Court” for short, is loosely inspired by the courtship dance between two hawks. This art is incredibly sacred to our people, being our most common form of worship. It is, at its most basic form, a form of shadow-dueling. The worshiper will perform a complex dance as a tribute to their deity. The only rules are what is involved in this tribute. These include a ceremonial mask, almost always made by the worshiper performing the Court.
This mask is made to represent the deity they revere, being made from any material and in any design with a unique trait that all carry. The mask will impart the vision of the worshiper in some way (this will include seers, the mask would be made to inclusively impair their vision as well). This impairment of vision acts as a formal tribute and offering. Symbolizing offering the deity their sight within the mortal world. One can include more impairments onto themselves as a greater offering. These could range from partially inebriating one’s self to impair balance all the way to mildly poisoning themselves to offer their health, though this is on the far more extreme end.
The weapon is the next part of the ritual. The weapon can be literally anything, even the person's own hands. The importance of this is to symbolize our desire for a more pacifist outlook and the only purpose weapons now serve to us is for art and worship. The item used must be of significance to either the worshiper or their god. For this reason, it is not common for spectators to watch from a safe distance, often preferably behind thick glass. It is also not uncommon for individuals to hurt themselves during their worship, often a sign that their god is not with them.
The dance is the final part that unites the ritual under one name and is the most difficult part. The dance can be anything, just like the other requirements. For a paladin of Xan, for example, the dance could be extremely orderly with tight quick movements. Due to the impairment of sight and sometimes other senses, a person will find it very difficult to perform the Court. This is very important to the ritual as a whole. Essentially they are praying to whatever deity to also aid them in the dance. Guiding them and preventing them from stumbling. Because of this if a person stumbles or falls it is seen that their deity either did not hear them or was displeased. Some dances are easier to perform than others but will need to be maintained for longer. Thus the dance maintains a consistent level of difficulty. The Anthem of Veneration:
More of a traditional song to declare the end of a celebration, the Anthem of Veneration is a time-honored tradition to the Children of the Hawk. The Anthem usually occurs at the end of festivals and celebrations and involves either one to three people or every person present. It symbolizes the unique unity and empathy shared by our people. “We become one voice, one to shatter fear and hate, to bring us hope and salvation”. Such is our way.
The Anthem can, at times, be a method of stress relief when our people or another’s faced hard times. The Anthem brings hope and, as we are not selfish people, hope can be given to all people. There are select songs used for specific reasons like mourning, weddings, a time of change, etc.
The Dark Depths
A tradition for the Children of the Kraken is that of large parties. The Dark Depths is the name given to a special celebration of when a member of the Grotto is considered a contributing adult. The large gathering is no set structure, the event tailored to the individual it is thrown for, but will certainly have alcohol and drugs of plenty. Cheerful folks gather around to welcome this new member into the Eternal Party that the people of the Grotto view themselves in. One set requirement of this ceremony is the person it is thrown for must finish a shot for each person at the party. This ritual often leads to a hectic multi-day affair in order to ensure the individual does not suffer too much due to the large crowd.
The Dark depths is considered by many to be what other cultures call a coming of age ceremony. For our people, however, it simply shows the acceptance of a new member of our community. Oftentimes the party will end with an Anthem of Veneration lead by the new member, this sometimes is skipped should the party have taken too much a toll on the people present.
Clothing of The Grotto
Born from a myriad of cultures our people have long since left their clothing as unique as their background. Having to set style or even prefered fabric the people of the Grotto lacked any sort of brotherhood or kinship in their style. At some point it was found fitting under the hawk and Kraken that our people have something to unify us when outside the Grotto. A design was born from fine artesians hailing from the Children of the Hawk. A broach was styled to show a hawk resting atop the head of a writhing kraken, the emblem coated in a fine aurum with imported Qalashi silk of crimson hues. Now each citizen can easily get these from the stewards of the Grotto. It has been found fitting that the free place of expression would not impair its citizens options for clothing expression. Below will be a drawing done by local artists to allow for any citizen to show to a smith and have a broach made.