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Marloven Culture

At the very bottom (the root, as the Marlovens' ancestors would say), is the Old Norse concept of drenskapr, the oath a war band chieftain makes with his men, and in turn with a war leader he accepts as stallan, or war leader. This developed into a strictly military oath, separate from kingship, which developed its own system of oaths based on Ygdrasl.

From the Land of the Venn to Iasca Leror

When the Venn forced the outcasts, the Marolo Venn out, those people accepted the outcast term, and clung even more tightly to the concept of military honor. Underlying this unresolvable conflict remained the Venn conviction that the sea-going culture, the Oneli, was the supreme expression of Ydrasal. The Hilda, the land warriors, taking to horse, began to develop their own culture that they found just as meaningful--if not moreso. They also developed skills that made them formidable opponents, and when the conflict came, and the king saw that the sea warriors might actually lose on land, he threw the land warriors out, declaring them outcasts. Once they were gone, he and his successors systematically stripped the Hilda of their horses, forming them into foot warriors.

Back to the Marolo Venn. Because they were forced out by what seemed to them a king's ambition or whim, they utterly rejected what had come to be called Ydrasal. They adapted their language as they moved south, and they adapted their lives to a nomadic existence, becoming the "Marlovan". They kept horns as part of their signaling method but ridded themselves of the tuneless blat of the Venn horn (once a ram's horn, but long since made of brass to resemble what they'd brought on the draken) and took to the southern keyed horns. They kept the idea of "Drenskar" but let it evolve along with their culture.

Venn epics evolved into Marlovan songs, most with a distinctive galloping rhythm, including what they told, and who could sing them and when. Women had their own ballads, men theirs. Some were shared, sung only under the open sky, such as the Hymn to the Fallen: this tradition was sung under the sky, before a funeral pyre. When bodies began to be Disappeared, the spell was performed as fire passed over the corpse.

Most of the northern plains were under fairly constant attack by enterprising bands from Toar, and a few very tough mountain bands from above what would be the Adranis as they sought better land. The Idayagans, who were agrarian (cotton, various crops including hops) couldn't hold any of that land due to various war bands criss-crossing, until the Marlovans came, moved down the Pass, and took over those plains before taking on the Iascans in the south. The Marlovans were the best fighters, but they stood apart from all the other bands in the fact that they were willing to trade for goods instead of just raiding.

Probably the most profound cultural change was the development of camp defense, which had to be done by women, if the men were out riding on raids against the various war bands. The women developed their knife defense, called Odni, which was based on speed and balance. The women established the trading practices mentioned above, mostly with the Iascans for linens, which were hardier than the northern cottons. But they traded for foodstuffs, and learned northern recipes, particularly for drinks such as ale, barley wine, beer, root brew, etc. The old Venn milk drinks had long been impractical, and the Marlovans took to these new ones with enthusiasm. They also liked the southern wines.

Marlovan Culture

The Marlovan culture (pronounced Mar-LOW-vahn, which evolved centuries later into MAR-loven) altered again when they discovered the superlative steel of the Iascans, and decided that they'd like to live in castles. The Iascans did not fight very hard to fend off the conquerors; after a few skirmishes they realized it was no contest they could win, and their leaders, the Cassadas family, led the way in intermarriage, resulting in a kind of dual culture that gradually mixed over time. There was covert resistance; many, perhaps most, of the Iascans who moved out and abandoned their castles left empty shells. The Marlovans who moved in, having little in the way of belongings, were slow to perceive the insult, though in those early generations, they did pick up that the Iascans despised them for their lack of civilization, and for a time, the Marlovan language was nearly forgotten as Marlovans adopted Iascan along with the castles. But Marlovan persisted as the language of war, and though the Marlovans took to castle and land ownership, their lives were still largely lived outside.

The earliest rulers were the Montredavan-An family, who took the golden eye of the Erama Krona as their personal device, though changing it so that no one knew if it was the eye of the hawk or the fox. Eventually the family adopted both as their sigil. The Fox banner was retired after Ivandred's Ride.

The Marlovans always kept a distinctly Marlovan concept of military service to the extent of reserving the old language for what they called matters of war. The most important event in the Marlovan year was Convocation, when all jarls were required to travel to the capital to renew their oaths. Women stayed home to defend the castles when the men left them, just as they'd defended the camps, adding archery to their Odni defense. Women also took on a great deal of horse training, especially young horses.

Obedience to oaths--the idea that your liege always knows you will be where he wishes you to be, and do what he wishes you to do, and he knows you will be where you promise to be and do what you promise to do--was fundamental. Thus, though the Venn drenskar changed by degree, particularly when the greater cause (Ydrasal) required actions in spite of, or outside of, military orders, for the Marlovans there was no out. Thus, for example, a jarl who leads a revolt that fails will net the worst possible punishment, but his men who followed his orders would be put to death mercifully because they had fulfilled their oaths. Marlovan culture changes over the succeeding centuries, most notably when the kings gain access to magic, but this notion of oath-trust still underlies everything.


Women were in charge of castle life as well as defense. They also became mages later, when Runners evolved into positions of more importance than they held before. Runners were highly regarded from the beginning, trusted, elite--but they never owned land, nor did they make dynastic marriages. Runners could and did get promoted, but almost always through inheritance, whereupon they ceased to be Runners. As Runners' positions in society blurred with warriors, women began gradually to enter the forces, almost always as light cavalry skirmishers or archers. Generally speaking, Marlovan/ven culture was at its height when the genders shared power equally, and suffered when a political divide was forced, always by men with specific ambitions. There were two queens, one who came by marriage from Colend. (See Timeline.) Both gave the Marlovans one of their cultural high points, bringing in new books, ideas, art objects.


Marlovens always had singing, but the accompaniment was pretty much confined to drums, aways in a galloping beat. Because syncopation was part of the drum rhythms, variation was encouraged, but the basic beats were almost always 3/4 or 5/4. Songs were usually minor key, with rising and falling melodies of surprising complication. By the time the Marlovans encountered the Iascans, they immediately adopted Sartoran triplets into not just their songs, but their trumpet signals. Songs were often sung in round, adding to the syncopated effect, usually a capella. Gradually other instruments were brought in, and finally adopted--mostly woodwinds. Frequently woodwinds play a melody to which another melody is sung in counter, or else the player plays against the singer in round. Strings never made a great impact.

As noted above, music was tied heavily into cultural expression, with its strict rules about who sang what and when. This extended to dances. That became muddied during the Time of Daughters, when many boys were dressed as girls, even raised as girls. After that, certain songs eventually came to be shared, one of these being the Andahi Lament. After the slaughter at Andahi, for many generations, only women sang the Lament.

Nobility Titles

In the early days:

King -Sieraec (during peace) or Harvalder (during war)
Queen -Gunvaer

King's Shield Arm -Sierandael (during peace) or Harskialdna (during war)
Wife of King's Shield Arm -Harandviar

Royal Heir -Sierlaef
Wife of Royal Heir -Hlinlaef

Future King's Shield Arm -Varlaef
Wife of Second Royal son -Hlin

"lord" (honored male) -Dal
"lady" (honored female) -Edli

"King's Mage" -Sigradir

- (later) Herskalt

Castle Shield Arm -Randael \\ Wife of Shield Arm -Randviar

Present Day

King -Harvaldar
Queen -Gunvaer

Prince or princess -Laef
Jarl or Jarlan -title and honorific the same

Modern army differs from earlier days in having both infantry and mounted.

The uniform is black and tan riding trousers and tunics, though jarls will wear House tunics to Convocation at at important times, but they will wear their uniform trousers--a gold stripe down the pants indicates trained at the academy. Senrid wears the gold stripe, because he is the royal family, and as such commander of the academy, but otherwise he wears no rank markers.

Rank markers are gold bands on upper arms of tunics (harking back to days of golden torcs), a single thin band for a riding leader, two thin bands for a flight leader, and three bands for a wing commander. Thicker bands for area commanders with more than one wing under them. Top command gets gold instead of black on the high collar.

Medals are small silver or gold markers affixed on the high collar, or on the sleeve bands; the latter if awarded by commanders, the collar if awarded by the king.

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Page last modified on June 11, 2013, at 04:50 PM