Lordgrave Offerings Tradition / Ritual in Creus | World Anvil
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Lordgrave Offerings

The line outside of the Tomb of the Princeps went around the block, but was moving quickly. Alistair was more concerned about how he was by far the youngest person in line; the rest of the folks queued up were old and grey, shuffling along, and the ones who saw him tilted their heads slightly, as to ask him why he was here.     Except one, who stepped up to him and clapped his shoulder. "Missus Giraud asked you to do it, didn't she?" Phanae's freshly polished cuirass shone in the bright sun of Second Season. "The folks back home never change."     Alistair sighed. "I tell her in letter after letter, she is more than welcome to come to the Capital and see the sights herself, but it's always, the tavern is doing great this year, who's going to pour ale, endless excuses." The wizard shook his head. "Getting out of Low Timbers would do her some good."     "She has her own reasons, just indulge your old mother in her habits. What did you bring to the Princeps this year?" The guardswoman glanced down at the paper bag Alistair was holding. "Smells like... a peach tart from Morrisons?"     "You go there too often." Alistair reached in and pulled the tart out, handing it over. "I actually brought this for you since you always bug me to buy one for you while you're on duty. The Princeps gets the blackberry jam turnover."     Phanae's eyes lit up as she took a big bite from the tart. She chewed and swallowed with gusto. "Thanks. I'd let you head to the front and get this over with, but they tell me bribery is a serious crime." She stamped the butt of her spear against the cobblestones.     The wizard rolled his eyes. "Let the record show that I requested no such thing. Line's moving quickly enough, I'll be in an out in about ten minutes." Phanae laughed as she walked off to continue her patrol. Some of the tart had gotten stuck in her hair, but she didn't seem to notice or mind.    
The actual tomb was smaller than Alistair expected, merely a cluster of sarcophagi in a small marble room, with space for maybe one or two more before they'd have to excavate another room. The tomb of the First Princeps was immaculate, but as the chronology went forward, Alistair noted stains and spilled foods at the base of the other coffins, offerings that had spilled or been overlooked and left too long in the damp underground.     "Suppose I have no right to say anything." Locating the tomb of the Princeps of the Sunset, he tucked the tart behind someone else's wrapped sausage links and placed his bottle of spicewater next to several bottles of cheap wine. If it weren't for Lordsgrave, he'd think that some academy students were down here on a bender, but the guards outside the tomb probably made sure that didn't happen.     As the wizard exited the tomb, he stepped out into the sunlight and shaded his eyes, as the next person in line brushed past him to place their own offering. The line hadn't gotten much shorter, but he'd done his part. His liege lord had received his annual offering, and wouldn't strangle him in his sleep. Or something. He'd have to write his mother and ask exactly what was supposed to happen if he didn't bother to do this. The greyhairs in the line didn't look like they'd appreciate him asking questions.


A common tradition recorded in the earliest studies of human societies is that of the grave offering, a tradition where those who wished to pay homage to someone (usually a deceased parent, grandparent, or other ancestor) would go to their grave and leave small, token amounts of food and alcohol as an offering. While the precise details of this tradition varied depending on the society and people, the basic idea of leaving food for the dead was nearly universal.   It was in the petty kingdoms era, prior to The War of Unification, that the specific variation of the Lordgrave Offering was widely practiced. In this variant, it was typically skapets under Skapetry Serfdom that would leave food and drink for the lord under which they were born, once that lord had passed. The precise origins of this variation was unknown; the lords were certainly generally uncomfortable with what they considered peasant superstition, and some of the religions of the time attempted to ban the practice as paganism.    Unification would only shift the target of the offering, instead towards the Princeps that was in office at the time of one's birth. Though the new Etoile was formally classless, it was mostly the descendants of the skapets or those that observed the customs of the Shrinekeepers (in essence, the poorest section of society) that continued the tradition of the Lordgrave Offering. The tradition is neither encouraged or discouraged by the state, which considers it relatively harmless, other than the constant clearing of food from the Tomb of the Princeps in the Etoile Capital City.


Those who observe this ritual are expected to learn the name of the person who was their lord or ruler at their birth, and be aware of when that person passes. No rites are conducted until that person's death, but once they do pass on, the offering is placed at their gravesite on the day of the offerer's birthday. Typically, the offering is some sort of food that the offerer has prepared, as well as some sort of alcoholic beverage (water will do if the person buried in the grave did not drink).   The fully historically accurate version of this rite involves what is essentially a meal with the dead; the offerer should lay out a full meal with place settings for themselves, their guests, and the dead, and proceed to picnic. This was apparently exceedingly rare even in the distant past; most simply leave behind some food and pour out their beverage over the grave.   One complication of this ritual in modern times is the sheer number of people who visit the Tomb of the Princeps in the Capital City - in the past, it would be out of the ordinary to see more than one or two people performing this rite at the grave of their former Lord, but due to the consolidation of the modern Etoile, lines of hundreds will show up to perform the rite each day. For this purpose, the Tomb is regularly cleaned and offerings donated to the public kitchens every few hours.

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Speculation by The Academy of Etoile presents this particular version of the grave offering as an extension of the skapet's duty to their lord, to provide a portion of their annual crops and harvest as part of a serf's duties. In this light, the most traditional type of offering comes from the person's own skills - a farmer should offer some crop, a baker should offer some bread, and so forth. In the modern era, very few bring offerings of this type, as travel to the Capital takes multiple days and offerings prepared at the home would likely not last the journey. Instead, modern offerers will simply purchase something in the Capital, or borrow a kitchen to cook a meal, rather than bring something from their home village.


Conceptually, the dead lord or Princeps is a participant in the custom, but the most important person in the process is the offerer, in the past a serf under a lord, and in the modern era a citizen of Etoile, coming to pay homage to a past leader. While the knowledge of the custom is widespread, fewer and fewer people observe the ritual with each passing generation, as it seems vaguely ridiculous for someone to travel across the continent to purchase and leave a pastry at a gravesite of a Princeps that they never knew.   The vast majority of those who still observe Lordsgrave are the old, elderly, and those who hail from the most remote and rural parts of the Principality.


The Lordsgrave Offering is observed on the birthday of the observer. This provides opportunities for tourism to the Etoile Capital City - birthday tour packages for far-flung villagers wanting to see the Capital for the first time, and also conduct Lordsgrave while they're in town. Historically, this rite was observed every year, when most people lived in the same village their entire lives and the grave of their lord may have been up the hill in the keep; this is virtually impossible to do in the modern era, and most who conduct the offering may only do it a couple of times in their lives.

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