North west Cimmeria in the northern edge of the Broken Leg Lands.
Settled. Canach is one of Cimmeria’s largest clans with around 535 clansmen scattered over several hamlets on the northern edge of the Broken Leg Lands. It has 225 under the age of 14, some 300 of ﬁghting age and 10 clan elders.
Callaugh. The clan occupying the southern reaches of the Broken Leg Lands is considered a valuable ally of the Canach with the two enjoying a great deal of interdependence and inter-marriage.
Murrogh. Canach’s blood enemies are the Murrogh. The reason for the feud is lost to time, but the clans’ hatred of each other shows no signs of abating, and raids between them are frequent. Another enemy clan, although uneasy truces have been established, is the Nachta of the Black Mountains.
Canach’s traditions are typically Cimmerian. The chieftain of the clan is known as the Canach. His word is law, but the Canach’s position is supported by an extensive ring of advisers drawn from the elders and the senior warriors. It is the Canach’s task to guide the clan, protect it, and advance its fortunes.
All youths undergo a rite of passage before being considered adults. The rite is generally a proving of one’s ability to support the clan through either hunting, war, or bravery in some physical endeavour. The accomplishment needs to be witnessed by an adult who presents the candidate for adulthood to the Canach, describes what has been accomplished, and requests that the clan recognise the youth as a man. If acceptable, the Canach proclaims the youth as a Man of the Canach and, at a formal ceremony before the gathered clan, introduces the new addition and proclaims a toast to his health. The new adult must drink from the Horn of the Canach, swear to protect and uphold the clan’s traditions, and, in so doing, receives the clan’s approval.
The tradition of war is a serious business within the clan. Enemies are never forgiven or forgotten, although truces might be agreed if the conditions are favourable. The Canach people accept no slight against them and are prepared to raid or make war on anyone who insults or injures the clan’s traditions and interests. It is forbidden for any clan member to fraternise with members of the Murrogh, and every warrior is expected to challenge (and kill) any Murrogh encountered.
The sacred numbers of Cimmerian – 9 and 27 – are represented throughout the Canach clan. Every war band comprises of 27 warriors, and every ninth day is considered a Resting Day when it is permitted for people to lay down their tools and relax. During the spring and summer, the Canach might call for a feast or banquet to be prepared on the ninth day, if a hunt has been especially successful. The ninth day is also the day used for weddings and the honouring of the clan’s ancestors.
Canach has many treasures as a result of its long and illustrious history. The chieftain’s hoard contains the equivalent of 20,000 in gold and silver coins, plus a variety of gold jewellery items such as torcs, bracelets and rings. The Canach wields the sword and spear Snowblade and Snowpoint, revered artifacts said to be touched by the gods.
The chieftain of the clan is called the Canach of Canach. This symbolises the unity and strength of the clan in a single name adopted by the chieftain. Once the chieftain is acclaimed to the position, his previous name is rarely used, save by those close friends and family.
Anyone aspiring to be Canach must be an exemplary warrior with a robust record of war against theclan’s enemies. Challengers to the position must be able to match their exploits against those of the incumbent and be sure of meeting or exceeding them, as well as being able to physically challenge the Canach for the position
Gairdh, Canach of Canach
The current Canach is Gairdh (‘the rough one’). One of the warriors at Venarium, and a veteran of every contemporary Canach battle of the past eighteen years, he is noted for his rough, forthright style, simple requirements and ﬁerce hatred of the Murrogh clan, whose champion, Ewain, he defeated in single combat two years ago.
As Canach, Gairdh wields the spear Snowpoint and the broadsword Snowblade. These relatively simple-looking weapons are said to have been touched by Crom and wielded by Ymir and are the hereditary weapons of every Canach for as far as one can remember. Gairdh is married to Aeywen, once of the Callaugh and has three sons, each a noted warrior of the clan in their own right. The eldest, Gethyn, is a mean, moody, one-eyed warrior who leads his own war band and controls the village of Nairn whilst his younger brothers, Heord and Henmast, serve in Gairdh’s war band.
Gairdh is a huge, imposing man with greying hair and narrow eyes set into a square-jawed, craggy face. Of Canach’s most famous son, Conan, he thinks little; a true Cimmerian does not wish to wander the world and, even though Conan has returned to Cimmeria from time to time, his willingness to dally with the ancient enemies of Cimmeria marks him, in Gairdh’s eyes, as an outlaw not to be trusted.
Notable Clan Members: Gethyn, son of Gairdh Gethyn resembles his mighty father. He lost an eye in a raid against the Murrogh in the action that earned him his warrior rite, and he wears the socket open for all to see. Gethyn claims his empty eye can see Murrogh souls directly and no one disputes the assertion. Currently he is the Champion of Nairn and a likely candidate for the Canach’s position if and when Gairdh ceases to be chieftain. He hates the Murrogh with an intensity far outstripping that of his illustrious father and would move to wipe out the Murrogh clan if he became the Canach.
Aeywen, Wife of Gairdh, Born of the Callaugh clan, Aeywen is a beautiful, ﬂame-haired woman who, despite being in her late 40s, is still slim and striking. She is the love of Gairdh’s life and has kept him grounded in his responsibilities as Canach over the years. She is proud of her three sons, and is fully immersed in Canach life even though she still retains strong connections with her birth clan on the south side of the Broken Leg Lands.
An accomplished musician, singer and poetess, she entertains the whole clan on the ninth day festivals with songs, poems, stories and lays from the Old Years of Cimmeria.
History and Outlook
Canach, the Snowhawk clan, is the clan of Conan’s birth. His family is not originally of the clan, but came from the south, ﬂeeing a blood feud. From this it is possible to determine that, as traditionally Cimmerian as the clan is, Canach is prepared to welcome new members if those people (Murrogh aside) are prepared to accept the clan’s ethics and traditions; a rarity amongst the Cimmerian clans.
Canach is ﬁ ercely defensive of both its own way of life and Cimmeria’s. It is prepared to call forth the Bloody Spear to protect Cimmeria against the likes of the Picts and Aquilonians, bringing together the clans for the singular defense of the heartlands. It is prepared to promote a wider interest, although, ultimately, it seeks its own preservation as all clans do.
Members of Canach are expected to follow both the warrior creed and develop pastoral pursuits beneﬁ ting the community. Conan’s father, for instance, is a talented and respected blacksmith as well as a renowned warrior. Conan himself is born in the midst of battle and his mother is as capable a warrior as any man of the Snowhawk clan.
Canach has controlled the northern Broken Leg Lands for as long as any Cimmerian can remember. The clan itself is divided between several villages and settlements that are essentially self-contained, based around two or three extended families that look after their own lives until called together by the Canach on a ninth day celebration or for a clan council. Six main villages exist; Uist, Nairn, Duthil (Conan’s home village), Berwik, Broath and Conarch. Conarch is the Canach’s seat and the largest of the settlements. None of the settlements are more than two or three days travel apart and each conforms to the typical Cimmerian structure of a main roundhouse around which are gathered the homes and workshops of the populace.
The clan has supported every Cimmerian action against invasion through the country’s recent history, including decisive conﬂ icts such as the Siege of Venarium, where the young Conan made a name for himself against theinvading Aquilonians. But other engagements have proved Canach’s ferocity and been the making of its heroes: the Battle of Gorach’s Pass in the Black Mountains against the Picts; the Battle of Conall Valley against the Nordheim and the Salt Marsh Battle against the Borderlanders (and a rare instance of Murrogh and Canach clans working together, although, once the battle was ﬁ nished, the old enmity returned).