Happy Thanksgiving!

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To all my American readers, happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are having a warm and joyous holiday. In the spirit of that holiday I wanted to write something relating to the world of Tybraes and I thought of the Ganroth. They do not get a lot of focus or special attention and it might surprise you that a holiday like Thanksgiving would be just their kind of holiday.

Celebrations of harvest pervade virtually every culture, and they are often entangled with rituals relating to gratitude, thanksgiving and honoring of the home, family and community. The same is true in Tybraes. The Erahs are known for being a race that lives in harmony with the land, so a harvest festival would not be surprising. Nor is it shocking that the Shae, many of whom are farmers, would have such a festival. But would it surprise you that the Ganroth hold such a celebration? It is a community celebration time of recognition and jubilation that shares some sentiments not too unlike the American concept of Thanksgiving. It is called “Liamet,” (lī-ah-met) or “The Bounties” and it is a time set aside for the entire Kith to gather as a community. They come together to celebrate the harvest reaping and to pay homage to the valuable roles each member of their community has and what they have contributed. It is a week for the community to openly show their gratitude for the work of their farmers, teachers, their military, their religious leaders and more.

The Bounties is a festival during which people actively recognize the value of each and every contributing member of their society. No job is too small to warrant gratitude. And during this week, the people are encouraged to take time learning about their fellow kinsman’s roles in the kith to better understand one another, so often people will do demonstrations of aspects of their jobs, if possible. In some ways, it is as much a career festival as it is a celebration of thanksgiving. By encouraging so much learning, the kith fosters more understanding amongst the citizens and they have a better sense for just what sacrifices and labors are made by their fellows. This in turn fosters a deeper empathy and a stronger community. It also helps the youngest among the kith to find their path as they grow so by adulthood they know where they wish to be and what role they want to fill.

On the surface it is easy to view the Ganroth as merely a religion-driven, warrior race, but in truth they are far richer a culture than that. They have a deep belief in balance in their society and do not believe that the voices of their religious leaders should be singular above all other voices. This is why they have their council. They also do not believe the military should supersede all else. The name for their military is Ntaesk (n:TAYSK) which comes from their word Ntaeskå (n:tayss-KAW) which means “togetherness”. They believe the sole purpose of their military is to protect their Kith, to protect their unity and togetherness. The Ganroth believe in their community wholeness above all else. If there is a rift in the Kith, that needs healing before they tend to matters elsewhere. Their Kith politics would come before any demands made by the Jaed Aonach. So to this end, a celebration like Liamet, The Bounties, is probably one of the single most important holidays in all of the Ganroth calendar. It highlights the community by showing what makes the community what it is. They would value this immensely because it re-enforces why they need each other. The strength of the kith comes from its Ntaeskå.

Enjoy this short story and if you are celebrating Thanksgiving, your holiday as well!

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“The Bounties”

The Daniin Kith, Southwestern Tybraes
2nd set Generosity, month of Naarisam Hærfest 8175

Both hands slid up into her sleeves as the Shae diplomat folded her arms for warmth. “I will be honest, the kith is not what I expected.”

Daunet’s lip tugged at one side, but she forced the sneer into a smile. “You expected mud huts and savages?”

“Huts, perhaps.” Jacinta’s brow furrowed as she ducked her head. “I am sorry if that is terrible of me. No one has ever seen behind the walls of the kiths before–”

“So you assume primitives rather than equals?” They walked past the rows of houses, only stylistically different than those of a Shae village. Daunet gestured with a graceful hand, “then my first word of gratitude is that the Valk Malvud sought to open the eyes of the Shae and sent you here to see the kith. I am grateful to have dispelled your…assumption.”

Jacinta’s breath was shaky as she glanced sidelong at the towering warrioress. “I am not a very good ambassador. I am sorry.”

Daunet blinked at her a moment then more gently stated, “you are an honest one. I am also grateful for this… and that you came during Liamet.” She brightened some, her demeanor softening. “I assume you did not plan it so or you’d have come for the opening of the festival, but Liamet is the perfect time for you to get a sense of what a Ganroth kith truly is.”

“Liamet… this means bounties?”

“Yes, in this case, The Bounties. It is among our most revered celebrations, if not the most.” As Daunet said this, they passed by a field where a farmer was demonstrating how to milk her goat. She ushered one of the men watching to take a turn at it. Jacinta watched as they passed and Daunet explained, “Liamet is more than just our harvest festival. It is a celebration of our community when we honor and revere the role each member plays among the whole. It is about showing gratitude for the labors of others and about remembering, well and learning about the interconnectedness of every member of the kith… what we call the Ntaeskå.”

The pair drew stares as Vesvudak Daunet Zuree led her guest through the kith. The leader of the renowned Kithoth Falenoth, or Dead Sisters was not one who would be questioned on who she chose to bring into the community, even if it was a Shae. The warrioress was imposing more in character than in stature, but her physical prowess was well known and feared. Jacinta could see the respect in people’s eyes as they addressed Daunet or even merely nodded in her direction. There was no question that she would not be welcome in this place if not for the Vesvudak as her host.

As they walked the street, Jacinta witnessed many small gatherings of people. Some were offering gifts of thanks to a selected group, others were participating in other demonstrations like the milking. As they neared a group of soldiers and children, Daunet drew them to a halt. Jacinta expected to see military exercises, but such was not the case. A man urged one of the children to go stand before the soldiers. The youth was visibly nervous, but obeyed and in his hand held a length of rope. He started to speak but it was all breaths and whispers.

“Louder, boy,” Daunet barked in Valkosa from where they stood at the fence. He looked up with a start, then bobbed his head and began again.

He spoke up in the Ganroth language, “I-I’m going to teach you how to tie a square knot.”

Jacinta raised a brow as the boy continued his demonstration. “I’m not sure I understand how this boy’s terror is about togetherness?”

Daunet chortled and indicated the man who had sent the boy out. “That man is a teacher. The children are all going to teach something to the soldiers today to learn just how difficult the job of teaching is. In this they learn the value of his role in the kith and come to respect it and are at least grateful that it is not their job,” she laughed. “The festival helps to foster empathy, Laam Boutaris.”

Her large black eyes studied the boy as he nervously corrected one of the soldiers. “And this does foster empathy, not resentment for embarrassing him?”

Suddenly one of the soldiers said something that made the youth smile and his entire demeanor relaxed. Daunet drummed her fingers on the fence and peered over at her. “We have done things this way for longer than I can account, and our kiths are strong. A little bit of embarrassment is nothing, it’s part of life, but learning what your fellow kinsman endure in their labors seeds understanding. We plant those seeds young so our adults are far less likely to spend so much time towering over the council tables yelling at one another. There is far less shouting in our council than there is in yours, Laam Boutaris.”

“Just Jacinta is fine.”

“As you like it.” Daunet bobbed her head then gestured toward the dais at the center square as a bell began to toll. “I believe the Malvud is going to speak a prayer for the midday meal. Let us go listen.”

Jacinta was led to stand at the base of the dais with a clear view of the Malvud as she emerged from the temple and came to stand on the pedestal. The square filled quickly and in little time the Malvud was ready to speak. The autumn air was cool, and she wore a fur-line surcoat of sorts over her billowing silk skirt, but her chest seemed covered by only a leather vest. Jacinta could not imagine how she was not cold. The sight made her hug her own arms tighter, burrow her own arms further up into her sleeves.

The Malvud raised her bare arms and smiled. As she spoke, Daunet translated for Jacinta.

“Est bosht agon ika Liamet…”
“On this day of The Bounties…”
“…ntom lu-eten jaftosiin e ptaaynur…”
“…we must remember to be grateful…”
“…at ba setiishaoss melu meyaffaoss…”
“…for the farmers and teachers…”
“…at ba ntaeskaoss melu Valktomeyaoss…”
“…for the soldiers and priests…”
“…at ba faalaoss melu ba vakithoss.”
“…for the children and the guardians.”
“Dnoa e jo̊t liam…”
“No one is without value…”
“…etel ntom lu-eten e mezat ptaaynur at ntom Ntaeskå,”
“…so we must be most thankful for our togetherness,”
“…e ptaaynur at ba kith.”
“…be thankful for the kith.”
“Ba ptarot ika ba kith eska dest ntom Ntaeskå.”
“The strength of the kith comes from our togetherness.”
“Ba kith e eteb ntom met e.”
“The kith is because we all are.”
“At bosht ntom e ptaaynur.”
“For this we are thankful.”

The Malvud lowered her arms and the bell was chimed once. In unison the square all repeated, “at bosht ntom e ptaaynur.”

After this the Malvud’s smile grew, she clapped her hands then stepped down and strode away into the temple. Jacinta blinked as the crowd began to mill about, slowly shuffling off toward an area with tables and food. “That’s all. She says a prayer and leaves? There is no sermon or speech… she will not join you for the meal?”

“She may join us perhaps. She may be preparing to give guidance. I do not know her labors. As for a sermon, the ways of the Valkto are not the same as your Omíkhlæssectia. What was said in the prayer gives us plenty to ponder and take to heart. If we do not master that much, how much more do we need to have said at us?” Daunet raised a brow then softly smiled. “It is better to savor the small morsels and sustain on them, then to have a feast of rotted meats.”

Jacinta pursed her lips not caring for the comparison but at least understanding her meaning. She looked over at the tables and saw that no one was eating, but rather were making plates of food then taking turns standing at the head of the table. “What are they doing there?”

“Each takes a turn at their table sharing something they learned and something they are grateful for. So long as the elder of the table approves of their effort, they may sit and eat.”

“Again, would this not embarrass some?”

“Perhaps, but they will be all the more thankful when they may sit and eat.” Daunet touted. “We are not the savages you expected to find but you still disapprove, think we are cruel for forcing self-reflection and humility on our people?”

Jacinta blushed and shook her head with a gasp, “no, I just abhor having to speak before a crowd.”

Daunet laughed with a bark then beamed a smile at her. “You still do not understand, Jacinta. The kith is not a village of strangers like your Shae villages. We are family. We are all brothers and sisters, raised together as such. This is not a festival in the streets. You have come to eat a meal in our home. Come, let us go join in the bounty. I should very much like to hear what you have learned.”

At this Jacinta blushed, having already revealed she was uncomfortable with public speaking. The woman began to consider carefully what she would say. She had in the brief time she had been there learned quite a bit about the Ganroth, but perhaps more than just about them specifically. She had seen a new way for a society to connect. Shae society did not expect or certainly invite the farmer or the diplomat to learn much about one another, and for that there seemed invisible walls that divided them as much as the very real walls.

A plate full of food was rest into her hands by a smiling youth. Jacinta returned the smile and murmured, “thank you… er… om e ptaaynur?”

The youth only smiled with a soft giggle, leaving Jacinta to wonder if it was at her accent or if she had gotten the words wrong. A light tap at her elbow drew her attention to Daunet who indicated the elder at the head of the table. Jacinta bowed her head to them to show respect. The elder returned the gesture then greeted her. “Ashan d Liamet, kinta.”

“Welcome to The Bounties, friend,” Daunet translated with a smile.

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