Duel of Claimed Honor (ʁoʒʔʒaχ tɬɛtɬ)
In some cultures, "coming of age" rites and rituals are important. One such ritual is the ghoj'jah tlhetlh, the "duel of claimed honor". It holds an important position within the western cultures of Arjin, particularly for the traditionalist Irdárians.
Arij'El dak, Valon'ka, Gowr'nu!
("I am Arij'El, daughter of Valon, of House Gowr!")
Nihisum maj'e. Mus'eh ej' nu'ta', mohovam. Luj moh da! Loj jid'la' ta' mo me', wa' ta' jaj! Ho mad wij ghoj jah!
("I have come this day, to claim my ghoj. To take my rightful place in my house. To serve it with my life.")
Ghoj or "Honor"
"Honor" is perhaps a poor word, but alas, our language lacks the capability to succinctly describe the concept of ghoj (rodj). It can be described as status, honor, face and respect all in one. It is a measure of one's entire value as a character. A person with no ghoj has no political influence, no respect, nor any great value as a person. A person who's ghoj is low or in question is automatically untrustworthy.
Children do not have ghoj of their own. Instead they belong to the ghoj of their parents and their house (clan). This goes both ways. A child may be protected by a parent with strong ghoj, but that child's actions also reflect back on the parent's ghoj. So an unruly or untrustworthy child may harm their parent's ghoj.
When a child comes of age, the time comes to claim their own ghoj. The cultures of the west are focused on war, conquest and conflict, but they are not savages. Martial knowledge and skill is of utmost importance and greatly valued, considering violence and strength are core values of the morvátian cultures in general and the Irdárians in particular.
It is therefore required that a child stakes their own ghoj and take their place in the house. This is what the rite is all about.
Every child serves a mentor. Usually an elder in their house. The rite is simple; the child must finally defeat their mentor in martial combat. The duel is not to the death, or even necessarily to first blood, but injuries are common. In the rare case the elder is too old to fight themselves, a chosen champion fights in their stead.
Prior to completing the rite, children are seen as children, even if they are old enough to be considered adult. A child may undergo the rite whenever they wish, but until they have completed it, they carry little respect and influence on their own.
The duel is fought with the weapon of the child's choice. In most cases it is a mirror match, with their mentor using the same weapon. This varies a bit with cultures, or even individual houses, but the most common is a mirror duel.
The duel is fought until either of the combatants surrender. Either through exhaustion, disarmament or a registered fatal blow. This could be like landing your blade on the neck or heart of the opponent. Obviously, no one is trying to kill the other, so the blow is stopped before making contact.
Frequently, the duels involve several light injuries and some are seriously injured in the fight. Both combatant usually strive to disarm or trip their opponent, as it's easier to force a surrender against a disarmed or prone opponent.
If the child defeats their mentor, they are considered an adult with their own ghoj. They now have the right, and duty, to carry weapons. They are responsible for their own ghoj, and to safeguard and nurture their house's ghoj. Their actions are now their own, but their ghoj reflects that of their house, so responsibility is now on their shoulders as well.
Someone who either never performs their tlhetlh or who fails to do it will remain a "child" forever, but once past a certain age it becomes a grave insult to call someone a child. It becomes an addition insult on top of calling someone dishonorable.
The Morvátu stem from the west. The Morvátian Peninsula house many kingdoms and they all share in common cultural traits, gathered under the label of "Morvátian".
The Irdárians stem from the fields of Irdar, in the western peninsula. They are a warlike, traditionalist culture who value loyalty, pride, strength and "ghoj", most easily (albeit incorrectly) translated as "honor".
The majority language of the west. The cultures of the Morvátian Peninsula all speak Qaj as their majority language. It is clipped, guttural and brutal, much like the people speaking it.
The word "tlhetlh" carries the double meaning of 'always' and 'duel' in Qaj. This double meaning carries with it the significance of the tlhetlh duel.