Most reliable chronicles attest the occurrence of a universal flood over four thousand years ago. Almost all humans perished then, but a man named Tal, along with his family, survived, and the offspring of his three sons subsequently repopulated the earth. The youngest son, Lavon, was given the vast forests of the north, and his descendants settled there along the riverbanks. Over time, the Lavonites split into a number of separate tribes and nations, who no longer found the speech of the others intelligible. One of these tribes was led by a certain Prut – a ferryman who lived on the Khavzai River, where the city of Dubno stands today. Prut was incredibly fecund, and his numerous children all built households on either side of the river. When the area became overcrowded, some of his sons migrated further north – the warrior Gerber, from whom the Garip nation stems, and the wise Galin – the keeper of secrets, became the forefather of the Galindy. But Prut’s daughter Labed’ was his favorite, and stayed with her father. Heathen bards relate that she possessed arcane powers and could float like a swan upon the Khavzai, though Gaalite priests say simply that the swan was the emblem of her house. Her numerous descendants called themselves Labdy – the Swan People. In time, they became one of the most numerous people on the wooded plain, and many migrated westward toward the Baklan Mountains and the Great Ruud River, though some went north to the Yauga and the Kapkan’ Marshes also. When the empire of the Friaziny fell in the southwest, war, pestilence and the predations of serpents afflicted the Labdy, because they were concentrated on its northeastern margins. Then, they separated into four groups, named after the colors of the cardinal directions, as was the custom at that time. The Black Labdy went south past the Baklans, and settled in the vicinity of the Southern Sea, as neighbors of the Irii people. The Red Labdy went west to the Buzhda River, and settled next to the Garipy. The White Labdy went north, and vanished, never to be heard from again. And the Golden Labdy went east, into what is today the Land of Nor’. But for many years, the speech of the various Labdy was mutually intelligible. These latter became known as the Noriki after the Alferovichi Rovers imposed their rule over them. As the wooded plain where the Labdy lived was very remote from most countries where humans had settled densely and built cities, they came into contact with large numbers of sprites, shapechanging animals, giants, serpents, and other non-human creatures who lived there in exile, or in expectation that they would abide there until they recovered their strength, and then try to reestablish their primacy on earth. And because these creatures dominated here, the human Labdy fell under their sway, worshiped them, and sacrificed to them in exchange for being afforded survival, foraging skills necessary for survival in the harsh climate, and for the chosen, magical abilities. Under the aegis of these creatures, the Labdy formed into clans named after trees or plants in which their tutelary deities were said to live. The Golden Labdy in particular were divided into the Dubovichi (People of the Oak), Lipovane (People of the Linden), Sosnovichi (People of the Pine), Berezniaki (People of the Birch), Ivliane (People of the Willow), Bukoviane (People of the Beech), Vereskovichi (People of the Heather), Mokhovichi (People of the Moss), and Mokriane (People of the Hemp). Each tribe would select a leader that acted as a representative of all of their kinfolk. Initially, this person would combine royal and priestly functions, but subsequently, they were assumed by different people. In the language of the Labdy, the term for this person was nearly identical to the word “king” (knez, kniaz’ or ksendz), but as the western neighbors of the Labdy began to insist that kingship could only be conferred by their Hierophant, foreigners began to refer to these Labdy leaders as “princes”. That is how foreigners commonly refer to them now. Appearance and material culture Physically, the Labdy tend to be tall, broad-built, and strong. They usually have light eyes – blue, green, or light brown, broad facial features, and fair to reddish hair, though the Black Labdy and some of the western tribes of the Golden Labdy are dark-haired. The women style their hair into long braids, while the men refrain from shaving their facial hair after they reach full maturity. The men wear tunics and breeches of linen or wool, tied with a belt, while the women wear wrap-around skirts, or, occasionally, single-piece dresses made of similar material. The shirts are dresses are typically embroidered with designs that represent kin-group, patron deity, or other religious motif. On weddings and other formal occasions, the women wear tall headdresses. When they can afford them, they are partial to long earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, while men wear metal buckles and clasps. Both are partial to knee-high leather boots, although typically they wear shoes made of woven straw. In the winter, they don felt boots, woolen overcoats and caftans, and hats made of wood or fur. Red-colored clothing is especially prized by them, but for this reason it fetches a steeper price. They possess combs and other grooming implements, and for a generally rural people, have a decent level of personal hygiene. They are frequent bathers in a sauna, which they house in a separate building, and which plays a key role in their spiritual life.