North eastern Cimmeria, between the territories of the Ice Leopards and Raeda.
Settled. Bhardh has 338 members. 140 are children, 189 are of ﬁghting age, and 9 are clan elders.
Ice Leopards. The two clans have several inter-marriages and have been allies against the Raeda for well over a century
Raeda. This is a traditional enmity shared with the Ice Leopards; no one remembers the cause of the feud between the clans, but it endures against all hopes of reconciliation.
Males of the clan wear their hair long and tied into an elaborate top-knot. Women wear the left-side of their hair braided if unmarried, and both sides braided if married.
All males of age 15 must take part in a full hunt and must bring-down, single-handedly, a deer, boar or other form of large game. They must then allow themselves to smeared with its blood across the face, chest and legs, thereby conﬁ rming their status as a warrior (and thus as a man). Women have no particular adulthood rite; the onset of menstruation is sufﬁcient. However, all menstruating women are required to retire to the Woman’s House on the far side of the settlement until the period has run its course.
Every winter the male warriors take part in The Great Hunt. Every single man capable of wielding a weapon heads deep into the forests for three days and three nights with aim being to kill as much game as possible to last the clan through the winter. The Great Hunt is treated as much as a festival and contest as it is a necessity. The night before the hunt starts, the men spend the evening in revelry. When they return, the whole clan joins in the Great Feast where the largest or ﬁ rst-killed animal is roasted and distributed, accompanied by much drinking, dancing and merry-making. The warriors are honoured as their kills are tallied, and it is customary for each warrior to tell of his exploits, deliberately exaggerating the details for the amusement of the clan.
The Bhardh clan acknowledges The Morrigan above the other Cimmerian gods, although religion does not ﬁgure highly in their daily life.
The clan’s most prized treasure is the Silver Cup of Bhardh. Bhardh himself was a Cimmerian hero who lived ﬁ ve centuries ago. He wandered far across the country until he came to these lands and saw, levitating in the air, a silver chalice. Hungry and thirsty he reached for the chalice but a warning voice, which could only be the Morrigan, told him he would only be refreshed when he had hunted for three days and three nights, and had agreed to settle and form a clan in this region. Bhardh agreed and did as commanded, and was then allowed to drink from the cup and keep it as a symbol.
The cup is therefore considered to be a gift from the gods. It is a simple, shallow-bowled chalice that could be of Hyrkanian origin. It is battered and scratched, but clearly of good quality and ﬁ ne craftsmanship. The chalice is brought out on the evening before the Great Hunt and ﬁ lled with wine. Although it can hold no more than a few decent mouthfuls, it somehow seems to provide enough for every warrior in the clan to take a decent draft – proof that the cup is, indeed, the one gifted to Bhardh by the Morrigan.
The cup is kept in an oak box, lined with bracken, and buried in a sacred place known only to the chief and the elders.
Padrig has been chief for ﬁ fteen years. He is a powerfully built Cimmerian originally of the Ice Leopards but who married into Bhardh when he was just 16, as part of a sealing of alliance between the two clans. He became chieftain at the age of 30 when the previous chieftain, Gunthas, was gored by a gigantic boar during that year’s Great Hunt. Padrig killed the boar and dragged Gunthas to safety, but the old chief died soon after – although he insisted that Padrig be considered his successor. As none could match Padrig’s success in the hunt that year, he was taken as the chieftain and he has served clan Bhardh well in the ﬁfteen years since.
Padrig is quick with his emotions: quick to laugh, quick to anger and quick to calm. He is a popular chief, leading from the front, and taking the time to get to know his warriors strengths and weaknesses. He has led Bhardh in ﬁ ve battles against the Raeda clan to the east of Bhardh territories. Raeda is a savage clan noted for its long-nosed, braided hair warriors. Raeda keeps trying to push its territory closer to Bhardh, and Bhardh continues to resist. In each battle Padrig has led against the Raeda, Bhardh has won. The clan warriors put this down to Padrig’s tactical skills, and the protection of the Morrigan who lends every warriors strength when they drink from the chalice.
Notable Clan Members: Gunthasson
The son of the previous chieftain, Gunthasson is one of Padrig’s closest friends and advisers. It was not always this way; he was embittered when Padrig won the position of chieftain because he believed it ought to be his. But Padrig took care to cultivate Gunthasson’s friendship which was sealed when the pair fought shoulder to shoulder against Raeda at the Battle of the Shattered Stump twelve years ago. Since then, the men have been ﬁrm friends and comrades, with Gunthasson offering his sound advice on clan matters and helping Padrig to maintain a ﬁ rm but fair leadership style.
Gunthasson is an archetypal Cimmerian who is very proud of his bushy, shaggy beard. He is, however, tongue-tied around women. He has never married but has a keen eye for Orilia, the widow of one of the clan’s warriors. Much to Padrig’s amusement Gunthasson ﬁnds it difﬁcult to speak with Orilia, despite the obvious attraction, and so Padrig is hatching a plan to bring the two together and get them married.
History and Outlook
The clan’s ancestor is clearly Bhardh himself, and this great hero was indeed the founder of the clan. Whether or not the cup was a gift from the Morrigan is unknown, but it clearly has strange, magical properties, although its design is Hyrkanian and not Cimmerian.
Bhardh’s prowess as a warrior and hunter is invoked and celebrated in everything the clan does. Over many years it has made peace with the Ice Leopards, to the west of Bhardh territories, and, through a succession of skilful inter-marriages and astute (for Cimmerians) diplomacy, has strengthened the bond between the two. Bhardh warriors often accompany Ice Leopard war bands when they wander afar in search of enemies and, as a result, have brought back much for Bhardh’s beneﬁt.
The clan is not especially warlike, but certainly does not ﬂinch from confrontation. For the most part its warriors are content to hunt and tend their homes peacefully, making war on the Raeda only when those long-snouted savages come looking for trouble.