spend the vast majority of their lives traversing the unforgiving waters of Gahla's tempestuous Saltsea
. The hardships they encounter on a daily basis develops in their culture a resilient spirit of self-sacrifice and sober vigilance. Their terse demeanor gives outsiders the misconception that they are a gruff and dour people. But Mor'Rahans can let loose and party as much as anyone else. It's just that, by necessity, they rarely get the chance. When they do, they make sure that it becomes an occasion to remember. To achieve this, they bring together all the elements of a legendary event: food, drink, music, memories, and the spirit of competition.
A Time for Mourning
Mor'Rahans live and die for the welfare of the tribe, and that applies all the way through the rites that will send them to the afterlife. When a fleetmate dies, it is considered dishonorable to simply throw them in the water and let their corpse sink. This carries the risk that the deceased might end up in the belly of the wicked Leviathan
that the Mor'Rahans spend their lives combating. As for burning or burying the corpse, this is thought to be wasteful, and goes against their frugal nature. So when it comes time to say goodbye to a loved one, their fleetmates assemble for a Chumwake.
It begins with the ritual butchering of the body, which is performed in private by a circle of shamans. While they recite the cleansing incantations, the attendees separate the close friends and family from the acquaintances and fleetmates of the deceased. For up to a full day, the inner circle is allowed to mourn in silence, or share their eulogies, while rest of the function goes on without them - at least until the very end, when they will emerge for a feast of epic proportions. Until they are finished mourning, it is the rest of the tribe's responsibility to gather the food for the feast by relying on the rich bounty of the sea. To do this, they will need bait, and in this case, it is the fallen comrade who performs one final service to the tribe.
A Time For Honor
The butcher-shamans emerge from isolation carrying long hollow horns full of seawater. Inside the horns swim the minnows that have grown fat from feasting on the body of the deceased. They have been enchanted with lingerlight, so that they leave visible trails in the water as they swim, and the light explodes in bright bursts as they are bitten by larger creatures. The divers, who have by now been assembled into teams, will follow these trails, trying to catch as much food as they can with their tridents and nets.
Each team brings their haul back to their cooking stations where giant clamshells, the size of small boats, have been filled with water or oil, and placed over a roaring fire. Each cooking station also features a butchering table for the catches which must be broken down first, and to generate more bait for the hunters as the size of the chummed area grows larger.
The butcher-shamans keep tally and score the catch according to a point system that is announced at the beginning of the hunt. Before the event officially begins, children and inexperienced hunters are given a chance to gather low-value foods like crabs, shrimp, and scallops. Special bonuses are granted for treasured finds like pearls and rare snails whose dyes can fetch a good price at the exchange. These are gifted to the family of the deceased to recompense them for their loss.
Then, the drums start rolling, the waters are chummed, and the more seasoned hunters dive in to chase after sailfish, squid, and eels. It is a mad frenzy as the teams scramble to bring honor to the name of the fallen through their skill and dedication. Should all the blood attract more dangerous creatures to the feast, all the better.
The wakes are only held on sunny days to prevent interference from Leviathan. Any Mor'Rahan warrior worth their salt should be more than capable of handling any lesser threats that arise. One who cannot fight off a shark has no business getting in the water after the chumming, and if they are foolish enough to die in the process, then at least all the accoutrements for a funeral are already in place. Better to get it over with all at once.
A Time For Revelry
When more food has been gathered than could possibly be eaten or smoked, the scores are finalized, and the winners are announced. The winning team from the tougher post-chumming division is announced first, and upon this group is bestowed the highest honor - the right to strike first at the next leviathan that the fleet encounters. This is a position of immense advantage, because the crew that successfully snares the beast with its harpoons, and keeps it bound throughout the fight, holds the right to claim its head as a trophy after it is slain.
The winner of the younger division, which is an individual competition, receives some artifact belonging to the deceased. Among the warrior tribes, this is typically their hunting spear, which the winner is expected to treasure and care for dearly. They shall learn and tell the story of its wielder, and should that individual go on to plunge this spear into the eye or heart of a Leviathan, they shall be triumphantly welcomed as family by the relatives of the deceased. For the rest of the event, folk will drink, share songs, toast to future glories, and share their condolences with the family of the departed.