South East Cimmeria, occupying a series of a narrow vales some 60 miles north west of the Ymir Pass.
Settled. Galla numbers 250, with some 180 of warrior age, plus another hundred in slaves.
Galla is considered barbaric even amongst the other Cimmerian clans. Its people are blood-thirsty and ferocious warriors with little developed agriculture and a way of life devoted almost entirely to raiding other clans and the Border Kingdoms. Galla takes slaves and, whilst slaves are not objected to in principle by Cimmerians, an overt slave trade is not considered an essential of Cimmerian life.
The Gallans’ appearance projects savagery. Their faces and bodies are coated in swirling tattoos and deep blue woad. Their long, tangled hair is worn in complex topknots, and they wear little more than trimmed animal skins, shunning even the simplest sandals. Festivals and rites are violent and orgiastic; they revel in the cruel barbarity of Crom.
The weapon of choice for Gallans is neither the sword not the spear, but the immense single and double-handed clubs of knotted wood, sometimes spiked with shards of ﬂ int, that they call chillelagh. Every Gallan prepares his own chillelagh, cutting a stout branch from either an oak or blackthorn tree, and then curing the wood in smoke stacks so that the wood takes on a burnished black colouring. The Gallans believe that curing the club in this way imbues it with some of Crom’s wrath, and the heavier and more gnarled the branch, the more of his wrath the chillelagh is said to hold.
Gallans carve a deep notch onto their chillelagh for every skull they crack with it. It is not uncommon for their clubs to be given names and treated as gently as lovers – perhaps the only gentleness Gallans ever display
Slaves are survivors of Galla raids on other clans and the Border Kingdoms. The weak and helpless are preferred and a life of miserable drudgery is guaranteed. The Galla treat their slaves as cattle and all domestic chores are handed to them whilst the Galla laze, planning more raids or engaging in their own squabbles settled, inevitably, by the chillelagh.
With its primitive nature, Galla is exceptionally superstitious. Its ancient old oracle, Tanuba, controls the power of the clan although its chieftain, Gundhel, purports to be the leader. Nothing is done without Tanuba reading the entrails ﬁ rst, and the oracle enjoys a position of special privilege and protection from Gundhel’s guard. Gundhel spends most of his time drunk on the rough mead which is one of the few things Galla produces for itself and does not steal; this leaves Tanuba to effectively rule the clan through a mixture of fear and clever rhetoric. Tanuba leads the regular ninth day orgies which, he rants, are necessary to appease the ancestors, if not the gods. Terriﬁ ed of Tanuba’s powers, the clan joins in enthusiastically.
Galla has no clan treasures, but Gundhel and Tanuba have a signiﬁ cant stash of gold, silver and bronze between them. Gundhel’s hoard, which he keeps in a specially built chest of oak, is worth over 100,000 gold. As he cannot count, he does not know for sure how much is there, but he guards it jealously and, in moments of drunken adoration for his wealth, sits and contemplates the coin with barely disguised awe.
Gundhel mac Gundhel
In Galla the one who hits hardest and kills the most is declared chieftain. Galla has got through a lot of chieftains as a result, and Gundhel is merely another in a long-line of violent thugs who have battered their way to the top. He has occupied his position for ﬁve years and owes his longevity to the clever manipulations of Tanuba who, through his readings of entrails, has guided the clan to ever more audacious and successful raids. Under Gundhel the clan has never had more slaves. Gundhel thinks his position safe, but always there are others who are ready to challenge, and Tanuba seems to revel in the precarious nature of the Gallan chief.
Gundhel has two weaknesses. Drink, the stronger the better, and pretty girls, the younger the better. He maintains a harem of some ﬁ fteen slave girls, many pregnant, that he visits daily to terrorise with his violent ways. A few girls are selected for Tanuba to enjoy too, and his practices, whilst less physically aggressive, are far more distasteful than Gundhel’s. Where drink is concerned, Gundhel always has a skin of mead within easy reach and he sups the stuff
like water. Tanuba encourages him as it makes him easier to control. Curiously,Tanuba never drinks mead himself, letting Gundhel drink himself into a stupor whilst he whispers his latest readings and thoughts into the chieftain’s drunken head.
Notable Clan Members:
Weasel-faced, with mane of tangled and dung-matted hair, Tanuba’s clever eyes twinkle beneath a knotted brow. He is thin and reedy – most certainly not a warrior – but he is clever and skilled in the arts of the oracle, and this is what has given him control of the clan.
Tanuba uses chieftains to solidify his own position. He watches out for a candidate he knows he can manipulate and then takes time to groom them. He groomed Gundhel in this way and, when Gundhel outlives his usefulness, Tanuba will look for someone to challenge him, all the while reassuringGundhel that his position is still tenable.
History and Outlook
Galla is an old and isolated clan. It has struggled to increase its size and its propensity for audacious, savage raids on neighbours and the Border Kingdoms has led it to facing extinction on several occasions. It lacks the discipline and honour found in the more civilised of the Cimmerian clans and the succession of short-lived chieftains in recent years has led to a lack of purpose and direction – other than taking slaves – that can only accelerate the clan’s downward spiral into complete anarchy.
Tanuba relishes this kind of self destruction. His belief is that death is more than a human inevitability, and one that should encompass societies and entire nations. He believes in the purity of suffering, especially where the human spirit is concerned, and he relishes the misery and gloom Galla encapsulates, reﬂ ecting Cimmeria as a whole.
Galla’s outlook is therefore driven very much by death. The clan seems to know it will die relatively soon and has therefore abandoned any notions of advancement. It enjoys causing suffering as much as it enjoys its own hedonism under Tanuba’s gleeful guidance.
Disdained and feared in equal measure by the other Cimmerian clans, Galla is the epitome of the clan that has given Cimmeria its reputation for barbarity.