Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calendar, Ancient Lands

The Ancient Lands is the name of a large geographical area that was once the domain of the Samaqel. Roughly in the center of the Ancient Lands is a geographically unique super-river valley known most commonly to its local inhabitants as the Tharkis River, with the surrounding political areas most often being referred to as the River Republics.

This region encompasses several diverse peoples and cultures, who have settled in the Tharkis River valley through several separate diasporas taking place over a course of several thousand years. While each culture originally had its own particular manner of reckoning the passage of days, seasons, and years, over the course of millenia, a common geographical backdrop has led to some standardization of calendar techniques. Even relatively aloof and unique cultures, like that of the Sottle race, have come to make use of the ‘common’ calendar for most purposes.

The Riverish calendar is seasonal, rather than lunar, operating around the fairly regular turning of four separate seasons instead of the unreliable fluctuations of the moon. Wind, precipitation, the growing season, and especially seasonally changing river currents are matters of life and death for everyone on the River, especially the mobile population that travels the length and breadth of the titanic waterway aboard various different sorts of ships. Thus, the Riverish yearly calendar is split into quarters:

Chekkuru Vriddi, The Time Of Quiet Skies, or Autumn

Marvutasha Vriddi, The Time Of Deadly Storms, or Winter

Sashaya Vriddi, TheTime of Renewal, or Spring

Marinyatola Vriddi, The Time of Industrious Hands, or Summer

For the most part, Riverish folk simply refer to the time of year by the generic seasonal name, i.e., Autumn, Winter, Spring, or Summer. Each quarter of the year is 90 days long.

In addition, there are five days of the year set aside for the propitiation of the Powers of the World. These are mysterious entities, whose origin is unknown to mundane humanity, although only priests and scholars really care, anyway. Most people believe the Samaqel created the Powers to perform some function or other, although a few learned greyhairs opine that they are, in fact, opposed to the Samaquel, but helpless to intervene against Its will. Whatever the case may be, the Powers are known to mankind, and have enough power to manifest it in noticeable ways on one special day set aside for each of them throughout the year. On these days, Riverish people may celebrate, or perform rituals of propitation, or even hide in their homes and hope fervently to be spared the notice of that particular Greater Power and its minions.

The five Sacred Days of the Riverish Calendar are:

Day 1 - The Day of New Beginnings

The first day of the year, dedicated to the Power known to most Riverish as the Mother (although Sotharks refer to her as Winter Woman) who watches over all living, sentient creatures and is an especial patron of pregnant women, young children, and those who care for them. Children born on this special day tend to be fortunate, interesting people who eventually have a great many children of their own. On this day in general, sick and injured people tend to rally somewhat, if only for the day. Chirurgeons and physickers find the act of healing to be much easier. Childbirth is easy and uncomplicated, and fertility seems to be increased too, as a great many children are born three seasons later, on or about the Day of the Dancing Flame.

On the River, this tends to be a day of celebration and ritual. Durshis celebrate with gift giving between parents and children. Durshi lovers who seek children often give small ritual gifts to each other, or make small offerings to the Mother. Ulvane, Northarks, Sotharks, and Jeopards declare a holiday for the purpose of staying home and impregnating their mates. Urban Riverish get drunk and potential suitors give gifts to those they wish to seduce. Traditionally, this is also a day for adults to honor their mothers with gifts.

Day 92, between Autumn and Winter - The Day of Eternity

Dedicated to the Power known as the Eldest, this is a strange day, upon which no one ever dies of old age, and time seems to stretch out endlessly. No one ever gets lost or arrives anywhere late on this day. Because of this, it is a day of enthusiastic celebration for all cultures on the River, with contests of skill, sporting events, craft displays, and various other forms of celebration (including lots and lots of drunken revelry). A few boring scholarly types perform various rituals, ceremonies, and render offerings to the Eldest, but who cares about them.

Those born on the day of Eternity seem to be very farsighted people, who plan everything far in advance and never show up late for appointments. On this day, it is impossible to hit anyone born then with any sort of missile, and they themselves never miss when aiming at anyone else.

Day 183, between Winter and Spring - The Day of The World

Dedicated to the Power known alternately as the Hunter (to Jeopards and most Riverish) Grandfather Wolf (to the Ulvane) and Father Sky (to Sotharks and Aven), this is one day when all of nature dwells in harmony with itself, according to its own laws. It is very dangerous for sentient beings to intrude on the natural course of things on this day, so most cultures that live close to nature -- the Durshi, the Sothark, the Northark, the Ulvane -- declare this day a holiday and spend it resting and feasting and making offerings to the Power of Nature. No reaping, plowing, sowing, hunting, fishing or harvesting of any kind is to be done today. Fires may only be kindled using dead wood. Lightning strikes, earthquakes, sudden stampedes, maddened beasts, insect hordes, killer winds, tidal waves, and other natural disasters have been known to occur abruptly and without warning to anyone showing disrespect for Nature on this day. Any meats to be cooked should not be slaughtered on this day. If hunting, burning, gathering, farming, or any other such activity has to be done, a proper offering should be made to propitiate the Hunter first... and then one should be careful not to push one’s luck.

Those born on the Day of the World tend to love nature and be very uncomfortable in urban environments. They tend to disparage wealth and technology. They are usually gifted animal handlers, farmers, and/or hunters.

Day 274, between Spring and Summer - The Day of the Dancing Flame

This day belongs to the Dancer in the Flames, the power that governs Fire and, to a lesser extent, Beauty. On this day, nofire should be lit without the proper ritual and offering, or it is certain to rage out of control and consume everything around it. Those in sympathy with this Power gain great beauty on this day, and many beauty contests are held. For this reason, the Durshi and Northark peoples schedule many wedding ceremonies on this day, with the groom first seeing his bride unveiled during this holy time.

Those born on this day tend to be great dancers, and are often possessed of great natural beauty.

Day 365, the last day of the year - The Day of Death

This day belongs to the grimmest of Powers, who is known by many names... the Prince of Worms, Lord of Hell, the Pale Rider, the Warrior of the White Spear, or, most commonly, simply the Rider. It is a day when the sun rises, but is shrunken and puny, transformed to nothing more than another full moon. The undead walk freely during this dark period, and it is said that for this time, the doorway between the world and Hell stands open and the shades of the dead can return for a time to bedevil the living whom remember them best. Spirits of those most hated or best loved can travel the path of the living’s still strong feelings, and make evil mischief for those whose thoughts they still remain in, sometimes even luring the living back through the Door toHell with them. For this reason, this is a time of horror for nearly everyone on the River -- generally, people scribe protective symbols on their doors and windows, festoon themselves with wards and charms, and stay inside, refusing to invite anyone into their sanctuaries until the sun shines once more outside. Any wounds inflicted on this day will fester, unhealed wounds will have a good chance of worsening and old wounds hurt. Bleeding only stops on a 10% roll, and no injuries heal.

For necromancers who have a pact with Death, as well as the living who worship Him, though, this is a time of rare opportunity, as necromantic spells and unholy rituals have enormous power on this day.

Those born on this day tend to be inhumanly strong at night. They tend to be excellent black magicians or priests, and are often friendly with dark entities. Their curses have power. They are often immune to poisons, diseases, and infections. They are usually unnaturally pallid and do not prosper in the direct sunlight. They see perfectly without light.

Riverish have no real term for any time period between a day’sduration and a seasons. If they need to, they’ll refer to ‘tomorrow’ or ‘in a few days time’. Some more precise Riverish use blocks of ten days in conversation, as in ‘I’ll give you three ten-days to pay the loan back’ or ‘you can borrow my quiver for a ten day’. It’s also common to say things like ‘a third-season’ (30 days) or ‘a half season’ (45 days). However, generally, if a Riverish person says "I’ll havethat for you in a season"or "I’ll keep it for a season", this is understood to mean "until the start of next season" even if next season is only a fewdays away.

Riverish divide the day up into ten roughly equal units called ‘fingers’ of time. First finger is generally taken to be dawn, and fifth finger is sunset. The units are usually around two and half hours long, as there is not so much seasonal variation in the length of day and night as in the real world. Thus, ‘I’ll meet you at two fingers’ wouldmean ‘around twoand a half hours after dawn’... usually anywhere from 7 to 9 AM. ‘Three fingers’ is commonly accepted to be midday meal time, around noon. ‘Four fingers’ is the middle of the afternoon. ‘Six fingers’ and higher are generally accepted to be evening/night time hours.

Temples have elaborate, Frodd built time keeping devices and generally they synchronize these together and strike gongs on each ‘finger’.

Riverish refer to years as Cycles, and to a stretch of 10 years as a Great Cycle. The Riverish calendar used most commonly does not assign numbers to years, but names. The Cycle runs as follows:

1. The Year of the Rat

2.The Year of the Fox

3.The Year of the Bison

4.The Year of the Goat

5.The Year of the Cat

6.The Year of theMonkey

7.The Year of the Serpent

8.The Year of the Spider

9.The Year of the Bear

10.The Year of the Wolf

Ulvane and Jeopards use the same general cycle, but have different names for each year, as follows:


1.Year of the Weasel/Year of the Wolverine

2.Year of the Hyena/Year of the Leopard

3.Year of the Grass Wolf/Year of the Plains Lion

4.Year of the Timber Wolf/Year of the Catamount

5.Year of the Lame Pup/Year of the Sabertooth

6.Year of the Jackal/ Year of the Panther

7.Year of the Ferret/Year of the Snow Tiger

8.Year of theCave Wolf/Year of the Jaguar

9.Year of the Dire Wolf/Year of the Great Tiger

10.Year of the Pack Leader/Year of the Dwarf Cub

For reasons unknown, those born into each year seem to conform to broad but discernable personality types, with seasonal variations that are also distinct and easy to distinguish between.

For most Riverish, a year is simply known by its name, and, if in a past Great Cycle, as ‘theYear of the Goat two cycles ago’ or some such. Such a simple method of description is very serviceable for the vast majority. For scholars and such who wish something more precise, there are several different dating systems used.

The River College employs two separate methods for counting years. The majority of scholars there claim that it is currently the 3,031rd year since the Founding of the River College. A small minority of purists insists on dating Riverish years since the first landfall on the Tharkis River, and they say this is the year 3,079. A very very few claim that human history should be dated since the Creation of Humanity by the Samaqel, and thus they declare that it is the year 5273, by the classic Samaqelian calendar.

Sottle scholars use their own counting system and refer to this as the year 23,467, or occasionally 7465. However, no one knows what they’re counting from in either case, as humanity itself has only existed for a little over 5,000 years. Durshi traditionalists claim that this is the year 7452, and according to them, this is dated from the time of their people’s first coming to the River from some mythical distant land.

The Church of the One True God, both Reformed and Holy, claim it is the year 117 from the birth of Miriam Orishna.

In addition to all this, the Realm of Ona Tengu has founded its own calendar, with years counting from the founding of the Realm by Queen Jeressa in RC1 of 3003. By Tengish standing, this is Year Zero, and it is currently Year 28. Even this gets complicated, however, as it is also Year 12 of the current Redknight Dynasty.

Thus, it is currently:

The Year of the Cat

3031 by RC1 (River College, Primary Calendar, dated from the founding of the River College)

3079 by RC2 (River College, Minority Calendar, dated from the discovery of the River)

5273 by Samaqelian dating, dated from the creation of humanity

23,467 or occasionally 7465, by Sottle dating, for reason the Gods only know

7452 by the traditional Durshi calendar, dated supposedly from their first settlement of the River

Year 117 by the standards of the Church of the One True God

Year 28 OT (Ona Tengu) and year 12 of the Redknight Dynasty

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