The lineage of the late Ilta of Valta has produced a number of great heroes and frivolous wanderers. Her blood and cunning has crafted a line of long-lived princes sworn to never to take the throne - of queens that have kept wisdom constant. She had seen the lives of her children and grandchildren play out to conclusion, and yet never despaired beyond her capacity. When she died, she did so gladly - for though rulership soon passed to greedy men, the legacy of her wisdom would be secure for generations to come. To this day there are heroes bearing her blood who travel the land in search of mighty deeds, who sire kings of kings and pass into legend.
|From The Banner Saga|
The Hydan Herroya - The Lords of the Sands - are the keepers of a tradition of survival. They sail enchanted ships that grace the dunes as if it were the ocean's waves, and hold dominion over oases beyond the reach of all but demons. It was not always so.
Long before the Tidelock, their ships sailed on seas. Their lands were rocky and hard, and so they raided their neighbors and traded with far-flung peoples. They held common-born Heroes in high honor - men and women of great strength, fortitude, or cunning. Their magicians traveled wide to gather secrets held dear, and told stories as a form of power.
Then the Sun froze in the sky. The Moon dipped below the horizon and was never seen again. The winds riled up into hurricanes and the oceans began to evaporate into apocalypse storms. This doom was foreseen by little and dreaded by all. Ilta was there, centuries ago, but then a young maiden among a people not of her own, to be wed to a dying old king whose name is now forgotten.
Yet then her devotion was strong. She prayed to the goddess of war and peace, of home and the roads for salvation in these times. She so she was answered by an avatar of Iune herself, which said: "Marshal the people and take them West. There, where the Sun but lays on the horizon shall you find Home on the everlasting shore." By the goddess she was bestowed great powers of war and peace, and so with gathered the kings and magicians of the old world into one caravan to sail into the west on a disappearing sea, in hope of salvation.
There were many trials, but with the protection of the goddess but few were lost. It is in this time that the sand ships came into being: repurposed from the timber of vessels at final rest, at the edge of the Saltsea. With this secret unveiled the people found respite at the Ends of the Earth, the walled domain of the King of Winter whose impenetrable glaciers now melted into rivers, his domain crumbling and breaking away with each passing day. Powerful though he was in the face of annihilation, he could not resist the coordinated might of the Hydan, and was destroyed.
A new haven was made on the ruins of the Kingdom of Winter, Sandrsjorheim - the Sand Shore Home. It was there, among the lakes and the sands, that Ilta ruled her people in peace and love. She met a man - Kari, whose might in the campaign against the King of Winter struck decisive blows, whose passion and strength inspired greatness in those who witnessed his deeds. Together they were wed and had many children, and many more grandchildren. She would personally rule until even her grandchildren could learn from her wisdom.
But Kari was a Man, and Ilta was not. She would live forever, but her lover was mortal. Her children would live to three hundred years, her grandchildren two hundred, her great-grandchildren but a hundred and twenty. Each generation would bear both the blessing and the curse - to see their children grow old with them, never able to inherit that which death grants to children. It would cause many to leave home, many to never return.
The Princes of the lineage of Ilta would never come to rule. In the Middle Days, after the founding of Sandrsjorheim, the men of the kingdom came to unrest. They saw the power of the lineage of Ilta and decried its unfairness - for they had little say in the affairs of rule. To avoid rebellion, Ilta struck a compromise, that no man from her lineage should ever take up the throne. Instead, a queen would be selected from her children, and a king selected from among the greatest of the men of the kingdom - mirroring Kari's ascent. And so these great men would marry into Ilta's family, and she would abdicate. She would become the Advisor of Kings, and the greatest or strongest among them would rule. There was peace.
But now, three centuries later, the lakes have all but dried up. The desert has claimed its due, and Ilta has passed on in glory. What shall be the fate of the Hydran Herroya?
Travelers and Heroes
These Princes become the fathers or grandfathers, sidekicks or party members, sages or advisors of heroes in other culture's stories - great travelers from foreign lands who claim thrones and fortunes and sire culture-heroes by right of divine blessing and might of steel. They become not foreign conquerors, but assimilate into that culture whose fortune finds them. They marry the daughters of kings and queens and bear long-lived and blessed children whose lives are watched over and defended by the goddess of home and travel as they and Ilta were.
It's been suggested then that the Herroya have a safe harbor in any empire - and this is not entirely unfounded. Aside from their capacity to work as loyal and fierce mercenaries, the legends of their Princes often make way to scholars and griots wise enough to remember the rhymes and connect the blood lines of their forefathers. The Herroya are oft considered cousins to their hosting peoples, no matter how outlandish the comparison. Though, whether this is merely a means of diplomacy or a matter of truth is yet to be determined.
War and Peace
The goddess Iune watches over her chosen like they were her children. She jealously guards them from other gods and perils, like a Hera or Jehovah. She grants them safety on the road and wisdom in rule. But do not be fooled - she is a goddess of aggression as much as protection. Her domains are a duality: home and travel, war and peace, death and life. Her insignia is the mother bear, her weapon is the axe - a tool of creation and destruction both.
Rulers and clerics within her watch will often carry coins used for the express purpose of augury. When decisions of terrible import become hard to make, they will toss it to find the will of the goddess. However, this is never to be used in place of good judgement. Should a ruler or cleric find themselves becoming too reliant on these auguries they will often begin to fail as the grand matron disapproves of their over-reliance on her protection. She wants her children to be self-sufficient.