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The Hoath Plateau of south western Cimmeria. The Hoath clan occupies and controls the central band of the plateau, bordered to east and west by the Nangh and White Leopards respectively
Nomadic. The clan circulates constantly around the plateau, pitching its huge yurt town where the hunting is best and the grazing land for its plateau bison is plentiful. The Hoath follows a familiar pattern with identiﬁ ed settling grounds although the precise position of each camp varies slightly from year to year.
The clan numbers some 600 members, with some 100 children, 450 adults and 50 elders.
Nangh and the White Leopards. Together the three form the Plateau Tribe.
Any who enter the plateau unbidden
The Hoath consider their plateau to be the very heart of Cimmeria; a region declared by Crom to be the most important land in the world. Other clans might have found lands that seem to offer greater bounty, but they are misguided. Crom abhors weakness, and to live on the plateau one must be strong. Hoath considers itself the strongest since it lives within the sacred heart of Crom’s
Every aspect of Hoath’s existence is based on the strength of the land. It gives the clan everything it needs and, in return, they defend it with their very souls. All the Plateau clans believe in this relationship but it is the strongest in Hoath. The clan therefore pays great attention to all physical manifestations within its territory; the condition of the earth and plants, the behaviour of animals, the weather, and so forth. Oracles continually watch and interpret the signs and portents, advising the chieftain on anything of import. Oracles are important in the Hoath clan, and these Cimmerians believe that they, the oracles, are the essential conduit between the people and the land itself.
Hoath marks its territory constantly. Its favoured markers are cairns topped with an angular boulder painted with the swirling, spiral like design of the Hoath clan. A similar design is scarred into the cheeks of every clan member when they come of age (taken as 14 summers) and into the ﬂ anks of their livestock. Wherever the spiral marker appears it signals Hoath dominion.
Clan members are ﬁ ercely loyal to the Hoath tradition. To them, Hoath is the greatest of the clans and the custodians of what makes Cimmeria great. As well as the scarring of their cheeks, clan members dress in earthy colours: browns, greens, greys and umbers. Hair is worn long and secured at the nape of the neck with a loose leather thong. Thanks are given to the land and clansmen have all manner of ways of expressing their appreciation for the security and greatness the plateau brings. Dust and soil is rubbed into the hair and skin; stones from the plateau are carried by every individual, especially if they need to leave the plateau for any time and any reason. The stone each member carries is carved with the Hoath design and is considered a sacred item that keeps them in touch with the home territories.
As a nomadic clan Hoath has many traditions and superstitions concerning travel. Hoath members never ride or walk more than two abreast, so that their numbers can be hidden. A Hoathman will never step into another’s shadow nor allow his shadow to be trodden upon. When camp is made tents and yurts are erected in a strict and speciﬁ c order and always to the same pattern. Hospitality, when it is granted to outsiders, is highly ritualised:
* Name Your Clan
* Name Your Friends
* Name Your Enemies
* State Your Business
* State Your Destination
* If You Carry Food, Share Some With Us and We Shall Share with You
* If You Have No Food, We Will Share With You, But You must Do Some Work For us
The ritual always follows this pattern and, if any question or request is ignored or answered untruthfully, then hospitality is not only denied, but the stranger is forcibly ejected from the camp.
The plateau itself is the Hoath clan’s treasure. It possesses well over 100,000 in gold and silver, but coin is unimportant to the Hoath. The clan’s treasures are simple things related to the earth: good weather, good grazing, and good hunting.
The chief of the Hoath is known as the High Hoath. As with all Cimmerian clans the High Hoath is the one who proves strongest and most capable in leading the clan. However, the High Oracle of the clan is always called upon to ratify a challenger after he has successfully challenged for position. The challenger must allow his palm to be slit in a spiral cut, and his blood mixed with a handful of earth the High Oracle collects. The oracle then smears the paste across a smooth stone he carries for the purpose and lets it dry over night. The patterns formed when the paste is dry allow the High Oracle to determine if the challenger would make a good or a bad chief. If the omen is bad, then the challenger must relent his claim; in such a rare case, then a new chief is sought from the clan with every contender undergoing the same High Oracle test.
High Hoath Aell
The current High Hoath is Aell. This massive, muscular, grey-haired warrior has led the clan for twenty one years, has sired thirty sons in that time, slain eight of them, and has been challenged for the leadership six times: every challenger is now buried under a cairn, giving eternal thanks to the plateau. Aell is gruff to the point of rudeness, but his keen, grey eyes hint at a formidable intelligence and his body, covered in both ritual scars and battle scars, shows his dedication to clan and country.
In his time Aell has made war on both neighbouring clans of the plateau and then restored alliances. He fought at Venarium and he has been the destroyer of many Picts and Aquilonians who have dared to invade the country of Cimmeria. Only the bravest challenge Aell, and his ferocious temper is well-known. Even though, at 44 years, he is considered old, he is still strong and fast, and his knowledge, wisdom and skill at battle has seen Hoath through its most troubled times.
Notable Clan Members: Seoirse, High Oracle
Like almost all Cimmerian oracles, Seoirse cuts his hair into a tonsure, shaving away the fringe and crown, but wearing the hair long and loose at the sides and back. Seoirse is a tubby, round-faced man with a straggly, lice-riddled beard and a pair of thin, dry lips that he continually licks with a fat, grey tongue.
Seoirse is an expert at reading the omens present in natural phenomenon; he is also remarkably consistent in his readings and divinations, proving to be unerringly accurate.
However, even the most astute oracle is not without his challengers, and Seoirse is plagued by a female oracle called Sorcha. This wild-haired, wild-eyed young thing is barely nineteen but, under Seoirse’s tutelage, has shown herself to be an oracle of prodigious talent – good enough, perhaps, to challenge for the position of High Oracle, and thus serve Aell directly. Sorcha plagues Seoirse daily, challenging his readings and coming up with her own, equally astute, interpretations. Soon, Sorcha will challenge Seoirse’s position, petitioning Aell himself directly. Seoirse is therefore looking for a way – any way – that will remove Sorcha forever
History and Outlook
Hoath is the oldest of the Plateau Tribes and secure in its position. In the distant history of Cimmeria, many generations ago, Hoath was the only tribe on the Hoath plateau. It was divided into three when the three sons of the chieftain fought for their father’s position when he was slaughtered by a green-skinned demon summoned from the frozen north. The Hoath became the Hoath, the Nangh and the White Leopards, but each occupied the plateau.
In the intervening years the three clans have warred over territory and other, pettier things, but are currently allied. An alliance is guaranteed whenever the plateau comes under threat, and the three hot-headed chiefs of the clans are sensible enough to resolve past differences in defence of the homeland.
Hoath has no desire to dominate the plateau to the exclusion of the other clans, and it recognises both Nangh’s and the White Leopard’s rights to co-exist. However it sees itself as the true guardians of the entire region and is accorded such status by its neighbours.