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Central Cimmerian plains
Settled. Bain occupies four villages in a shallow, tree-lined valley. Bain has 120 members. 54 children, 70 adults of ﬁghting age and 2 clan elders.
No notable allies.
Darkwolf. Bain is engaged in a blood-feud with Darkwolf following a dispute over a ﬁnd of gold made by Darkwolf clan members in territory Bain claims as its own. The feud has lasted ten years and shows no signs of abating. Bain demands the return of all the gold; Darkwolf refuses and accuses Bain of shifting its own boundaries to deny Darkwolf its good fortune. Three years ago the warriors of both clans clashed in the Battle of the Black Axe when Bain raiders, their axe-heads smeared with pitch to prevent them from glinting, attacked a Darkwolf war band that was seeking more gold in the region where the ﬁ rst, disputed amount was found. Clan Bain prevailed, and the feud has intensiﬁed since then.
Bain is a farming clan. It raises cattle and fowl in the pasture of its valley and has a reputation for creating ﬁ ne leather and leather crafts.
At the age of 15 a clan member, male or female, is expected to undergo the Bull Running. Carrying a ﬂ ag of blood-red, the runner must ﬁ rst antagonise one of the mighty horned Bain bulls and then attempt to out-run the incensed creature as it thunders after the youth. If the runner can reach the sacred oak, a solitary tree overlooking the valley, then the test has been passed successfully and the runner is considered to be an adult.
Every adult is expected to learn the arts of cattle husbandry and leather-working. Only women are expected to learn how to craft leather, and only men are expected to learn how to prepare it, but there is no shame in either sex learning the entire process.
Both men and women are expected to ﬁ ght for the clan’s honour, and, since the blood feud with Darkwolf began, every clan member is expected to attack any member of the Darkwolf clan they come across. Darkwolf is portrayed as a clan ﬁ lled with thieves and tricksters and all manner of thefts and transgressions have been heaped on Darkwolf’s reputation.
Men and women wear leather kilts decorated with the horns of the Sacred Bull. Men traditionally wear thongs of leather around their forehead and have a tattoo of a bull’s horns on either their arm or chest. Those who carry the horns on their chest ﬁght bare-chested so that all can see that they have the courage of the Sacred Bull.
Bain’s most valued treasure is the Silver Skull. This is a bull’s skull and horns that have been worked with silver to create a dazzling totem that is brought out to watch over ceremonies such as the Bull Running, marriages, funerals and so forth. The Silver Skull is kept in a treasure chest buried beneath the ﬂ oor of the chieftain’s hut and it can only be disinterred when both the chieftain and the clan elders are present.
Roth nab Bain
Roth has been chief for ten years, having rested the position from the ailing, one-eyed warrior Culoch. His rule is ﬁerce with no dissent being tolerated, although he treats the well-being of the clan with more dignity than his predecessor (whom Roth believes was weak-willed). Under Roth’s chieftainship clan Bain has extended its grazing territories, driving out a smaller, nomadic clan from the Broken Leg Lands, and has increased its livestock considerably. Under Culoch, the clan was stagnant; under Roth, Bain thrives.
Of particular note is the blood-feud with Darkwolf. Roth initiated it as part of his drive to raise the clan’s proﬁle in his ﬁrst months of becoming chieftain, and he is the driving force behind maintaining it – even though there are some in the clan who weary of the situation. Those who openly question Roth’s desire to continue battling Darkwolf are either publicly belittled or challenged to a contest of arms: two dissenters now have burial cairns on the outskirts of Bain territory as a testament to their bravery (if not their success).
Roth is thirty seven and a typical Cimmerian: broad-shouldered, brooding, dark looks, and a mane of shaggy black hair. His thin lips are perpetually dry and cracked and his brown eyes are deep and intense, scowling beneath a heavy brow. He wears a leather jerkin and kilt when around the settlements, and wears a bronze torc around his upper left arm and his bull horn tattoo on both his upper right arm and across his shoulder blades. He is quick to anger and, when pushed too far, explodes into unthinking violence. When untroubled he is blunt and forthright, but can be engaging company. He is most certainly a serious leader of his clan, with no time for anything that does not, in some way, advance Bain’s interests.
Notable Clan Members: Mathma nab Bain Roth’s mother and an elder of the clan, she is the source of her son’s aggressive ambition and reticence to draw an end to the feud with Darkwolf. A malignant, twisted, hateful woman, she wields power through her son but senses that she has nowhere near the control she would like. Her body is crippled following a fall in her own Bull Run, but her mind is sword-edge sharp. Her husband and Roth’s father, Wicoch, died the year before Roth became chieftain, having succumbed to a sickness contracted during the dreadful winter of the previous year. Mathma wasted no time in grieving and concentrated on building Roth into a credible challenger for the leadership of the clan.
Carac nab Bain If anyone is likely to challenge Roth for the leadership of the clan, it is Carac. A good looking man of 30, Carac is considered something of a hero amongst Bain since he is the fastest runner in the Bull Running and, a year ago, slew three Darkwolf warriors single-handedly in an ambush out at Fell’s Creek, close to the disputed territory of the gold ﬁnd. Carac dislikes Roth and his mother. He believes the blood-feud, whilst necessary, has gone on for too long and should be brought to a conclusion. He is a brave warrior with a great deal of sense and a real desire to lead Bain, but without Roth’s ruthless ambition and knife-edge temperament.
History and Outlook
For centuries Bain tended its herds, fought-off raids from other clans, and kept itself to itself. When the Bloody Spear brought the clans together to ﬁ ght the Picts or the Aquilonians, Bain was there, but acted in the background, supporting, never leading. The clan embodied a simple spirit, maintained its size and prospered slowly and steadily as a result. Its ambitions did not extend beyond its valley and most seemed happy that way
When the Darkwolf clan came into the hills Bain had always considered its territory (but had never ofﬁcially claimed and marked), and grubbed for gold and secrets, it found gold – something Bain had known about but never expended much effort in exploiting. The chief at the time, Culoch, demanded a share of the ﬁ nd but Darkwolf sneered and denied any tribute. Culoch, ailing and sickly, demurred.
This was the signal for Mathma and Roth to act. Roth was certainly strong enough to challenge for leadership, given his strength and success in the Bull Run, but Mathma was the one who pushed for the challenge. Roth challenged the old chief to assert clan pride over Darkwolf, but Culoch declared he had no wish to create a feud. With Mathma denouncing such weak leadership, Roth demanded that Culoch stand aside but the old chieftain refused, telling Roth that the leadership of Bain must be decided by arms. Culoch had led for twenty years, proving himself at Venarium and against the Picts. Roth was young, strong and backed by an ambitious mother, but was able to articulate a vision of greater prosperity for Bain if they made war on the Darkwolf. The two men faced each other with spears and, after a long melee, Culoch was felled by a quick, sharp thrust from his challenger and died, cursing Mathma and Roth as he died.
Roth was declared chief and none dared to oppose him. Soon, a feud with the Darkwolf was declared followed by two well orchestrated raids on outlying Darkwolf settlements where cattle were taken, some warriors killed, and Bain honour established. That was ten years ago, and the feud persists, continually driven by Roth and Mathma’s ambition.