The Varsii in Kredashmi
There is a foulness in them that cannot be denied. Though the Varsii look as any other human might, it seems to me that their nature is more kindred to the vile Beasts sold in slave markets than to a strong and civilised people.
Background and ContextNext to the devestating impact of slavery, the scattering of the rural Varsii population constitutes the largest diaspora in the Saeric lands. In the last two decades, all prominent cities in the Saeric lands have experienced a dramatic influx of Varsii immigrants. Several major causes of this diaspora have been cited at various points over the years. These include:
- Ongoing warfare between the various factions that make up the Kingdom of Men;
- The destruction of rural communities by those loyal to the Piskii Kingdom;
- A desire to escape the vicious attacks by supernatural entities and cruel beasts;
- General economic hardships.
Fanciful Tales and the Blight of HalwithickWhen disembarking at Phort Rhalis (or any of the other minor Kredasene ports) passengers are required to give a reason for their journey to Kredashmi, be it business, leisure or emmigration. While most Varsii passengers cite economic considerations behind their emmigration, a significant number still cite "displaced" or "seeking refuge." There is a general consensus amongst Kredasene scholars and political commentators that many of their more elaborate reasons for displacement are fabrications. There are some tales, however, that have been proven to have roots in real tragedies. The most famous of these was the Blight of Halwithick. The story of Halwithick gained notoriety after the brutal murder trial of Rosenwyn MacKerrow by her husband and his family, who were supposed members of the subversive Varsii cultural movement, the Vigilant. MacKerrow and her husband had emmigrated to Kredashmi after the total ruination of their village, joined by other families who did not want to part with their village Healer. Some of these individuals caim forward during the trial to testify that their village had been ravaged by a Faerii curse, destroying the crops. Infuriated by the mocking way in which these testimonies were reported in newspapers across the, the Varsii ambassador to Kredashmi made an unprecedented move. He asked the prosecuting judge, Ludwig Dunheuvelin, if he could speak on his countrymen's behalf. His words were scathing:
In this past week, I have read things that have made my blood boil. To have my country dismissed as wasteland where 'every horrible and evil thing - touched by the Shadow of the Raven's wings - is sheltered and celebrated.' To have my fellow countrymen branded as ignorant, childlike fools with no right to stand, tall and proud, as part of a civilised world. If those words were the words of civilised men, then you can keep your Kredasene civility. The Varsii will never be shamed or humiliated into abandoning and dispising the myths, the rituals or the experiences of our ancestors; not as you were forced to reject your own.
White sails! White sails, tell me so: Which way will your cold winds blow? Far from the reaches of a lenleith's kiss? Far from the tendrils of the Piskii Mist?
Varsii Birth- and Death RitesIn Versarna, every settlement (be it town, village or city) has an area called the Grove of Ancestors.These are considered sacred sites where wildflowers are encouraged to grow. The community will use the Grove as spaces of celebration, memorial and contemplation. Whenever a child is born, a new tree is planted in amongst a family's 'plot'. The type of tree planted is decided on by the parents, although most opt for fruit trees, or varieties known for beautiful blossom. Some people choose to return to the settlement they consider their ancestral home, while others (if they have relocated to other settlements), might choose to start cultivating new trees within their new community. These trees are cared for by the family until the child is old enough to tend their own tree, and those of their family. When a person dies, their body is burried beneath their tree. The growth of new blossom, leaves or fruit is considered a sign that the Soul of the deceased has taken residence within the tree. For Varsii immigrants in Kredashmi, this practice still continues in a range of ways. Following the death of Rosenwyn MacKerrow, the Six Regte (The Six Judges) passed a bill allowing for the creation of Groves of Ancestors outside all major cities and towns. Some Varsii remained reluctant to plant trees in these Groves, remaining suspicious of the general anti-Varsii attitudes within Kredasene society. In these cases, families have instead chosen to keep smaller plants in their homes, serving as a more metaphorical Grove of Ancestors in their everyday lives.
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Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
I love the idea of the Grove of Ancestors. It always makes me so sad to think of the Varsii having to emigrate to Kredashmi and being treated with all the suspicion.
I think there's going to be an incident where a Grove gets destroyed by arson, but I'm not sure where in the timeline this will be. Possibly the second book? Thank you! I love the Varsii, and I really want to explore the Grove of Ancestors more. I think there will be quite a lot of interesting rituals (including courting rituals) involving those trees.