The Trading Nomads
++ By Zen and Savanna
A Brief Overview of the History of the Trading Nomads
No one is quite sure who started the Trading Nomads. They started out as normal Traders simply following a resource. Yes, following dragons South to escape the Northern tyranny began as a business opportunity. The traders in the beginning were primarily responsible for smuggling in refugees as well as keeping the dragonriders supplied with whatever they needed. They specialized in necessary goods such as grains, metals, and salt while the Weyr was still establishing itself. The profit was good for them, but their goods began to change as the Weyr gained a solid foothold in the South.
As time passed and turns became decades, the Traders began to settle down, moving away from their nomadic life. The Trading Nomads continued to be called such even after they settled into the cave systems near the newly established Weyr. Their cousins, traders more closely resembling the label given them, continued to travel between the newly established caves and the coast, keeping in constant contact with the northern settlements and helping shuttle refugees farther south. The most common route was by the river systems, the waterways giving the most direct access to the coast and Weyr.
Shortly, however, even these traders began settling down, instead becoming way-points along trails spreading across the land between the Weyr and the coast. This is where one of Pern’s oldest crafts came to prominence.
Runners became the link among these different outposts of traders, always connecting back to the original caves of the Nomads. Soon, runnerbeasts gave the Runners greater speed, bred short and hardy to deal with the tight quarters of the jungles but still have the endurance for long distances.
Breeding runnerbeasts soon became another source of income for the Traders, trading them to the Weyr as well as to the other trader outposts. And then that’s when someone discovered the true potential of the Southern environment.
Ever since, the Nomads became the source of well-bred firelizards, taking their clutches as seriously as any beastcrafter did with foals.
During the course of Trader history, several other crafts became invaluable to the Weyr. Shortly after the Traders settled into the caves, they formed a symbiotic relationship with the Weyr, becoming almost inseparable and certainly incapable of surviving without the other. The Traders trained some of the best Healers in the business, easily outstripping any Healer the North could supply. Hunters were renowned for their stealth and deadly accuracy. Wherhandlers provided effective night guards and scouts. Not to mention the success of the various animal breeders. Farmers and crafters provided necessary food staples and other various items. The dragons provided much-needed protection and places for the Traders to practice many of their crafts.
It was a good deal for all involved.
Today, this tradition of symbiosis continues, and the Traders have even extended the bargain to include protecting the Weyr if necessary, allowing the use of their extensive cave systems as shelter. Their crafts are still just as needed, and their animal and firelizard breeding continues to dominate even that done by the remaining trading outposts. Their success has been invaluable to the Weyr, and they take pride in this.Recent History
The most recent Leading Family has been deposed do to the Patriarch’s temper getting out of hand, resulting in the murder of another Trader. Though the matriarch could have taken over, the disgrace was more than enough to cause her to give up her position, though she is still respected. As a result of this respect, she and her daughters were not required to have the Leading crescent tattoo removed, as is normally the case of a disgraced Leading Family. Thus far, a new Leading Family has not been decided, making the recent Northern siege a test of community. Due to the chaos, the role fell back to the previous family despite their removal, though it immediately reverted back once the North withdrew.
The previous Leading Family consisted of:
Relatives to the previous Leading Family consist of:
- Serlan - Patriarch - Brother to Aldren, Respected
- Telie - Matriarch - Respected
- - - Son Seern - Hunter - Respected
- - - Son Relen - Hunter - Respected
- - - Daughter Retlie - Healer - Respected
- - - Daughter Seerie of White Razielth - Hunter/ Wherhandler - Respected
- - - Son Terlen - Runner - Respected
- Bedren - Patriarch - Brother to Aldren, Respected
- Lyssa - Matriarch - Respected
- - - Son Bernio - Inkcrafter - Respected
- - - Eirlys - Healer - Daughter of Lyssa, adopted by Bernio, Respected
The Elders have yet to nominate candidates for the Leading Family, so there is no single source of leadership for the Traders as of yet.
(This will be a plot later.)
The Ins and Outs of the Nomads
Descendants of the traders of old, the Nomads still hold on to many quirks of their ancestors. They are often considered incredibly strange and would normally have been considered outcasts for their ways if not for the fact the South is made up of outcasts. One such quirk is that the Traders are very, very family oriented. The Traders living just outside the Weyr consist of over 100 separate families, more if you include the various outposts and settlements between Weyr and coast. Though they are a group, threatening an individual family typically stays within that family. Such families are incredibly tight, and this is the strength of the Traders.
The society of the Traders is vaguely democratic, led by a single family, called (originally enough) the Leading Family. When deciding large matters, the heads of every family would gather to take a vote. Often, the male head of the Leading Family would have the deciding vote, but also had the most weight. Very rarely—even when the vote was against him—did the Leading Family Head’s vote lose. In some cases, the head of the Leading Family was a woman, most often due to her husband’s death or growing up a part of the Lead and just never taking a husband. It’s rare, but it can happen.
Another quirk of the Traders that has persevered are their tattoos. Originally, the tattooing began as a secret code of sorts, distinguishing the “separatist” traders from loyalists. Once South, however, it became much more extensive, expanding from the simple hand mark to include the wide range of markings found today. Tattoos are a source of pride for all Traders since many use ink to display their accomplishments for all to see. Even the most timid Trader will have some decoration, even if it’s subtle. There are even notable members of the Traders who weren’t born there but have since been “adopted” in and thus tattooed. Birth does not make one a Trader. The lifestyle does.The Leading Family and Elders
The Leading Family is perhaps one of the most powerful groups among the Traders. Comprised only of one immediate family, uncles and cousins are not considered a part despite the direct relation. There is nothing particularly special about the Leading Family. They are a family just like the rest of the Traders, they just happen to have more weight in decisions, sometimes even leading the Traders under a semi-martial law during emergencies. Often, leadership passes through marriage of Leading Family children to non-leading members. It depends on the tastes of the particular Leading family in power.
Various methods of deposition include Leading Family patriarchs willingly stepping aside for a yonger generation, the patriarch being disgraced and the family forcibly removed from rank, and even democratic vote when a patriarch died without a son or daughter to keep the rank in that family.
The duties of the Leading Family are complex but necessary. They are responsible for keeping the Traders running, making sure basic needs are met. This means another group must be established to make sure they have all the information they need. This group is the group of Elders, made of the most experienced members of the Traders in various crafts and skills. At least one person from every craft and area is represented, often multiple. Both men and women are represented because experience does not know gender. By using the resource of the Elders, the Leading Family is able to know what the Traders need and then set about getting it. The purpose of the Leading Family is to keep the Traders running smoothly and make sure the agreement between Weyr and Traders is solid. Making sure the Traders stay protected is the first priority of the Leading family, and they take this duty incredibly seriously.
TattoosWhat the Weyr Stole
What Makes Them Unique
What did the Weyr steal? Tattoos, that’s what. The Traders had conceived the wonderful idea of tattoos when the power-hungry Bronzerider took over what was left of Pern. Their tattoos were easy enough, and held a certain order to the group. The dragonriders took the tattoos and used them on their dragons to differentiate the dragons more, as was how they were used in the Trading.The Tattoos
The first tattoo a baby will ever receive, this crescent moon shaped tattoo shows that the baby is one of the Traders and will never be removed. The crescent shape denotes beginning life.
The add on to the Trader’s tattoo, the ‘tail,’ as most traders call it, signals the arrival of puberty. With puberty comes the child’s ability to move onto more exciting prospects. They may take up a craft they’ve been studying for a while. On the boniest part of the hand, this tattoo is very painful to live with when first gotten and must be kept clean for a long time.
The three dots come on one after the other and denote the skill one has in his or her chosen craft. The smallest circle means apprentice, the middle-sized one means journeyman (or second-class, for those crafts that don’t require one to journey), and the third, and arguably hardest to reach, is Mastership of a chosen craft.
Finally, the Leading Family insignia, tattooed upon the hand, hold important significance. Given to every member of the Leading Family, the insignia is a smaller crescent moon shaped tattoo inside the larger one. Because of the constant changing of Leading Families, whether by marrying out or by marrying in or even by Leading Family change, the tattoo is fairly common. However, imposters who try to exact punishment just by having the tattoo on their hands are in for harsher punishment.Craft Tattoos1) Hunter
Three stripes cut across the upper arm of a hunter. Wide and distinct, they represent the dangers and bravery of hunters. Many hunters bear similar marks other places across their bodies, but not in the form of black ink. Instead they are scars, from felines and whers alike. Their tattoos mimic these scars, showing to all the dangers they face every day.2) Wherhandler
With three bands about their wrists, wherhandlers show their rank and devotion to their partners. As if the black ink were iron bands they are as surely bound to their whers as their whers to them. The bands remain even if the wher is lost, as a symbol for what was once forged cannot be broken.3) Elder
Male and female, they are marked. Distinct by their very visage, the elders’ wisdom should not be dismissed lightly. The woman’s marks follow her brow, following her eyes as emotions and moods change, for she is wise in the ways of empathy. The man’s marks line his nose, crossing the bridge in crescents of black, unifying the mark on his hand with the mark of his worldly wisdom.4) Healer
Made of healing fire, no one mistakes this mark for anything other than it is. Twining down the arm are tongues of black flame, purifying the touch and cleansing the spirit of the bearer in order to perform miracles in this broken world. The fire spreads to the shoulderblade as well as the arm, engulfing the bearer so that they are set apart, untouchable.5) Firelizard Breeder
A sinuous line, this mark, twining from collarbone to shoulderblade, mimicking the tail of the creatures they breed. Multiple tails can twine with the main, signifying the worth of their firelizards as well as the number of clutch-capable pets bonded. Respected for their craft, those who bear this mark are a source of wealth for the traders.6) Mother
Any woman who bears a child bears this mark. Curling from her hip to beneath her naval in a sensual curve, some say this mark is as painful to receive as the labor itself. But it is one of honor, for every dot beneath the line signifies another addition to the traders, and the pain in receiving is just like the pain of birth: excruciating but life-giving.7) Mated
A simple band about the upper arm warns any and all that this person is mated to another. Designs can be simple or complex, as long as both partners bear the same design. Encircling their upper arms, the marks are a union that cannot be broken. Even should a partner die, the mark remains unbroken.8) Runner Breeder
Two simple crescents form the symbol of a runnerbeast breeder. Like the two runners who join, so, too, do the crescents. Any crescent mark is the life of a trader, here mimicking the crescent of the hand that denotes a member of the traders. Another source of wealth, those who bear this mark should not be scorned for mating mere beasts. Instead, they are to venerated, for they bring strong life into the world.9) Defender
Mimicking the mark of the hunter, these three stripes are worn with great pride and honor. Earned by defending the traders from attack, the marks signify the elite of the hunters. Those who bear this mark have sacrificed much, risking their lives, and as such they are honored.10) Runner
Swift of foot, these marks say. Any who bear the claws and circle of the runners are regaled to be faster than any wher. Strong and limber, the runners are as swift and agile as any runnerbeast. But they have the advantage of intelligence. Sometimes gifted with a fine runnerbeast, those who bear these marks are the main line of communication to all members of the traders.11) Other Marks
Wherever there is skin there may be a mark. Individual styles vary, but they all have one thing in common. They are of trader blood, and nothing can separate them from their blood and ink.
Written and compiled by Savanna with additions from Zen This post has been edited by Rhush on May 20 2012, 01:20 PM