The Most Awkward Dinner

Well, lad, when ye reach a certain age...
— dwarven father
  In the dwarven nations of Iskaldhal, there is often little time for parents to sit down with their child and explain some of life's more important facts. The continent is under constant threat of magical disaster or attacks by the extremely hostile wildlife, and war constantly threatens to break out and consume nations in its ever-burning fire. Thus, to prevent their children from going out into the world missing a series of important pieces of information, a trend began in the intervening years prior to the Worldrend and the commencing of the current Era of the Arcane.   When a child reaches their age of majority, their parents invite them - and them alone; no older siblings are permitted for this most ancient bonding tradition - out for dinner at the local tavern. Though this is rarely the fresh adult's first time drinking, it is often the first time their parents have joined them, and many taverns have set aside specific tables for this sort of talk specifically. This is almost always the first time the child is given the opportunity to speak freely to both parents, to ask any burning questions about their family, and to learn secrets long-held from them.  

Older clans, often with established nobility, use this talk to break news of inheritance and to share deep family secrets and traditions, often ending the night with a promise to meet at a forge or family workshop in the morning to begin instruction on the arts they had long prepared their progeny for.   More ordinary families share tales and remembrances of those lost to war, and pass on family heirlooms held onto for just this time.   Of course, there's also the obvious topics, no matter one's family background: the discussion of taxes, sex, and marriage. It is during this section of the talk that the dwarves involved tend to go bright scarlet - especially the child!
My ma brung toys for the fuckin' talk, an' I amnae talkin' the wee toys tha' I'll be passin' doon one day. Was a whole box of 'em.   Shit, ma, one o' those was longer than me da's forearm!   Da was tryin' tae tell the tale o' his da's old watch and ma sat there wigglin' this fuckin' thing! Puir fuckin' ridiculous, we wasnae even sloshed yet!
— incredulous dwarf


We go to war to protect our freedom or expand our land, according to our kings and queens. We die like pigs in trenches, our same eyes looking back at us from across the field. Another family, just like ours, doomed the same way.   There's no glory in this, and yet we've been dancing the dance too long to quit.
— Gildón soldier
  It's no secret to any across the continent of Iskaldhal - or indeed, those abroad who keep themselves well-educated - that war is a fact of life there. Though their cousins in Valathe and beyond can live mostly peaceful lives, those on Iskaldhal cannot live without being swept up in one conflict or the next. It isn't a matter of who has lost loved ones to the ravages of war - the question is when. The fact that birth rates are able to keep up is nothing short of a miracle.   This practice of constant war and these traditions painted red with the blood of thousands date back prior to the Worldrend - for the last time Iskaldhal knew true peace was prior to the first outbreak of arcane magic, in the Era of the Divine. The dinners did not exist then, not in their current form. This particular tradition, one of peace and family, began in the churches and armies of Gildómar in the form of quiet pre-battle ceremonies, set up to allow families to ensure their knowledge was not lost. It became commonplace among noble clans, and soon found its way into the hands of even the most common soldiers - and then to folk who have no business fighting, such as ordinary craftspeople and merchants.   Now, it is something to which all young dwarves look forward - and another sharp pain of regret and loss for those who lose their closest kin before they've even had the chance.
Tavern Booth by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Related Organizations

Loss of Parents

Losing one's family is unfortunately commonplace in nations that find themselves constantly at war.   But losing one's family does not prevent a young dwarf from sitting down for their first dinner with adults. Older family members from other branches will take up the task if they must, often filling the role as aunts, uncles, or grandparents.   If these are also not available, the duty falls to close family friends, to superiors in military or work that may have worked with the child's parents, or in rare cases, even to the nobility of the child's land.   In Gildómar specifically, King Mórekr Kolrûnduir has personally taken the charge for no small number of dwarves, though in those cases, he has not revealed the truth of his identity until the end of the night.   If all else fails and a child is left completely bereft of contacts, any parental figure to others will pull them aside for their talk, even the tavernkeep themselves - often times, this leads to the child finding a new family through the bond formed thus.

Cover image: Dwarven Tavern by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


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22 Aug, 2022 17:02

I like the idea of institutionalizing "awkward talks with child", and this goes into a lot of detail with edge-cases as well, which I appreciate.