Sunday, 2 October 2016

The Lucky Folk

The Lucky Folk, they are called, but euphemistically, for to speak of them is to invite ill luck. What is it, then, to be one of them? It is said the lucky folk are born of demons or of evil spirits, that they have one foot in hell: that that is why they cannot stand still. They travel, trading, herding, singing, thieving, fleeing: they shun gold and seek silver, and they court infamy by revering the moon. They are warm, and cruel, and secretive. They have sharp teeth and milky skin, hair dark or flaming red.  

Vast is Vyrhrad: between its great walled cities are many hundreds of leagues of deep forest and naked hill, and where the land is fertile it is worked by serfs who may never leave their villages without their lord's assent. Many, then, are born and are buried in the same place and never leave it while they live. For the Lucky Folk, life is otherwise: they have no villages, no cities, no homes, nor even graves, for they burn their dead on intricate pyres of ash wood and leave them for the wind. They bring news, and songs, and trade goods, from one town to another, though their news is mistrusted, and their songs are hard to learn, and their goods, it is said, are often not of their own making.

In the cities there are sometimes places where they like to gather, but none of them stay above a few years. By long custom, they are not serfs and they cannot be impressed into the Emperor's armies - though many of them find work as mercenaries. The law does not run to them either, and though there are many who make their living with this freedom, there are more who have died of it, their murderers unsanctioned. In most places they are hated: but often they too hate those outside their clans.

They speak a language that few others understand, and there are many stories, fanciful and otherwise, that tell of their origin, all of them returning again and again to the motif of infernal heritage, of demon's blood. The Lucky Folk do not tell these stories, and will not suffer to have these stories told in their presence. But although few know it, and none of them will tell of it, their name for themselves means the Drowned People: and there are, on the bitter, scattered islands of the Western Sea, people still who speak a tongue not so very different from theirs, still eking out a living on the surviving scraps of land where once stood
- it is said - the half-mythical land of Mikhagorod, before - it is further whispered - its people called down upon themselves some divine deluge.

It is also said, of the Lucky Folk, that none of them can swim.

You may recognise the first paragraph from a previous post about tieflings; the Lucky Folk are Vyrhrad's tieflings, conceived as mentioned in that post as a distinct race rather than a random selection of individuals. Because any decent European setting needs Roma, basically.