Who are you?
I am Betalsan, Branch Mother of the village of Kellarb in the region of
Vuntilsway. I oversee the running of the village, the enforcement of the
Laws, and payment of taxes.
Who are we?
We are the subjects of the Great Trunk Mother. We are the children of Lady
Themnass and Lord Shroma, guardians of their creation and the balance.
Outlanders call us Treefolk and some think we are tree sprites or other
such nonsense - just because we don't go around blundering into everything
and making lots of noise, scaring our brothers and sisters of the forest.
What makes us great?
Well I wouldn't call us great exactly but we respect all beings and try
to preserve our homeland, bringing just enough order to the wilderness
to supply our needs without destroying it. We are famed for our woodcarving
and our weaving skills. Compared to the Flatfeet, we're also a great deal
What is the difference between men and women?
Women are our mothers, the head of the family. As such they are the leaders
of our larger family - our entire race. Apart from that all are equal and
may receive equal rights and education. Our menfolk tend to dominate the
army due to their greater strength but not excessively.
Where do we live?
We live here in Kellarb, set many cubits above ground level, away from
predators. Our village is more than 500 years old, these braashaks have
seen many generations drink shoka round the fire, as we do now. It is handily
placed for the river Kel, a tributary of the Labantar. Our waterscrew keeps
the village well supplied and our waste-chutes are as good as any you'll
find in Thalsa. We have plentiful patches of jula and dappils nearby and
wine making is one of our major exports. Even the Great Mother herself
says that the Kellarb wines are without equal.
How do we live?
We live on the bounty of the forest, we gather mushrooms like choi, burm
and beto, and sweet fruits like jula and dappils and pick wild spinach
and carrots amongst other things. The forest provides more than enough
without resorting to farming. We also hunt for meat; the red furred
tollos, wood pigeon, deer and boar.
We wear their skins as well to keep out the wind
and rain, see here I am just finishing sewing the hood of your new poncho,
tomorrow you must take it to uncle Jorab and he will help you dye it in
the pattern you want.
What is my lot in life?
That is up to you, I know your father and mother would like you to follow
in their footholds and become a winemaker. But I've seen you hanging around
Auntie Magbe and listening to her hunting stories, I know what you would
prefer. Ah well, when you are ten if you can persuade her to take you on
as apprentice I don't suppose they will stand in your way. Or perhaps you
will join the army. Of course in the unlikely event that you start to put
more effort into your studies with Loremaster Garbi, he might recommend
that you be sent to the Great Library for more learning. In that case you
could be apprenticed as a clerk to some Branch or Trunk Mother, perhaps
even rise to become an advisor to the Great Mother herself.
Who rules us?
The Great Trunk Mother guides and cares for us, advised by the Great Council
and her household. The Council is made up of the Trunk Mothers that rule
the 10 regions of the homeland. Each Trunk Mother is in turn advised by
Lesser Trunk Mothers, and so on.
What makes a person great?
To serve ones fellows, care and protect each other and our homeland. Having
a good singing voice and telling good stories helps too.
What is evil?
To cause harm to yourself, to our community and to those who have done
you no wrong. To withhold your help from those who need it and to force
yourself upon those who do not wish it. To treat the bounty of the forest
with contempt and waste its produce unnecessarily. To disobey the Great
Mother and her deputies and to forsake the balance of Themnass and Shroma.
How do we deal with others?
As they would deal with you, you must strive to be helpful and amiable
but do not persist in the face of unending hostility.
Who are our enemies?
Any who would attack the homeland, any who would bring evil into the world.
The Empire used to covet this and other lands but now I think that ageing
vorl has neither the teeth nor the legs to pose much threat now. But we
must not be blind to our own shortcomings, there are those of our own race
who inhabit the lonelier reaches of the forest and live as bandits to prey
on the unwary .
Who are our gods?
Themnass, Lady of Concorde, and her husband Shroma, Lord of Chaos. They,
and their helpers the sidhe who inhabit this realm but are not of it, maintain
the balance and through their union ensure our continued survival and growth.