"Twelve is the number of griots that I appoint and Twelve there must always be."
Next to the local chiefs, Griots
are the pillars of ancient traditions from the time before the Faeroahs
, when the Orishas
ruled the lands. Their Songs
", imbued with magic, hold the records of genealogies of the heroes, historical narritives, past cultural traditions, literature and law. Their sacred songs help them to enforce Exum
strict caste law, settle disputes, and help make sense of the world through their stories. For this, they are seen as wise men by the lower caste. While recognized as nobility by the higher caste, few see them as equals. They walk the Road of Scholars
as one of the three professions on the Three Noble Roads
. Griots are referred to by the title of "Blessid."
Before there were the Four Pillars of Heaven, there were Griots.
The term griot is a fairly new term referring to the profession. In the time that the Orishas walked the earth, they were known as djali
. During those times, djali
were a hereditary rank that served at the side of the Orishas. The djali
recorded all the stories of the Orishas in the old oral traditions and sing their praises from town to town as the Orisha's herald. There are even stories told of djali
fighting alongside the Orishas in wars.
The caste of griots was instated by the first emperor, Longspear, to enstate and enforce the laws of the land. These twelve griots were the precursors to the caste that Longspear made for his three brothers and niece, the Four Pillars of Heaven
. Due to the there being twelve griots the laws of Exum differ from location to location due to the different cultures. After the griots established the laws, they enforced the "Emperor's Peace" between the different ethnicities of Exum.
During the time of lawlessness, when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. After Longspear had unified the Northern and Western areas, he sent out twelve griots, the first caste to enforce the laws of his land. The griots were the original mouth of the emperor and what they said was law. This did cause some conflict as the griots did not see eye-to-eye. These conflicts were settled through meetings with the emperor and all conflicts with laws have been handled as such since.
Keepers of the Songs
As the historians of the land, their knowledge allows them to add events to the songs, the only drawback is what is outside of a griot's knowledge cannot be added to the songs.
How griots access the information of the songs is a mystery, known only to them. Someone watching a griot access the song would only see them going into a calming trance of sorts.
When accessing the songs, they see either apparitions of what happened or are visited by spirits who explain to them what they remember, but a good griot must remember, "There are three sides to every story." So it is good practice for a griot to hear from more than one spirit.
Enforcing Caste Law
The griots also were given special order to enforce the strict caste laws on the people including the members of the emperor's family to include the newly instated Four Pillars of Heaven. When a Pillar was charged with a crime, they can only be judged by the emperor. The Griots could also be called upon to settle disputes between tribes and castes.
They are also in charge of investigations, with duties such as:
gather complaints from people
review the handling of prisoners and slaves
impeach officials for misconduct
Although they enforce caste law, they transcend the caste system and can land in any caste they settle upon.
The griots are loosely organized although all twelve agree to recognize the longest standing member as their Chief Griot and often look to them when they're not sure how to handle a situation or how to enact the emperor's justice.
Becoming a Griot
"You are of the griotblood, child. And you will be fruit from my tree," said Tunde.
Griots are appointed by the Emperor, but are trained by the Chief Griot. Once confirmed, they gain the rank of "fruit," and often refer to the chief griot as "wise tree." The meaning for these titles or terms are somewhat cloudy but believed to refer to the story of the Learning Tree
The songs consist of:
- The Song of the Dishonored
Removal and Dismissal
A griot can be removed from his services in two ways, being found guilty of following breaking the Laws of the Emperor or death. Those guilty of breaking the Emperor's Laws, such as being found as corrupt, are given a chance to plead their case to the emperor, who adjudicates their case. If found guilty they are outcasted into the bush to walk the Road of Outlaws and have their names added to the Song of the Dishonored.