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The Darineby Jennifer Guerra
The Darine (singular, Daro or Dara) are the Dom "nation" of Traladara. (The Dom are descended from the Traldar that migrated west into Sind during the invasion of the Red Orcs in 1000 BC. Never quite fitting into the local culture, the nation that formed from these refugees moved out of the region in 600 BC and haven't ever really settled down since.) As the Darine comprised the bulk of the Dom refugees, they remain the largest of the three Dom nations. Darine may be found not only in Traladara, but also in Ierendi, the Five Shires, and a few in Minrothad and Vyalia.
The Darine resemble most Traladarans in appearance: dark hair, light to olive skin, dusky eyes. They dress in even more vibrant clothing than their Traladaran cousins, preferring bright kerchiefs, scarves, and sashes, along with embroidered trousers and vests worn with billowing shirts, Both men and women typically wear a great deal of jangling jewellery, and men pierce their ears as often as do women.
The Darine diet consists of roasted meat, goat's and mare's milk, berries, and other fruit, and strong coffees.
They earn their living in various ways, mostly through services, trade, fortune telling, and entertaining, although they have a reputation for thievery. They occasionally hire out as guides. They have a knack for guiding parties safely to wherever they wish to go. They are clever, and always find ways to honour their agreements, even if these have been made with conflicting sides.
Many Darine are skilled warriors and thieves. Spellcasters are more rare and are usually women. Darine typically arm themselves with swords, daggers, cudgels, light axes, and similar weapons. Missile weapons are uncommon; longer distance weapons tend to be light crossbows or slings, while throwing daggers are popular for short-range work.
Religiously, the Darine feel a strong connection to the land, and honour Zirchev above all other Immortals. (Some also honour Halav, Petra, or Terra, but not as universally). This Darine connection to the land is strange; they love the land and its creatures, but seem unable to settle down. This is because of an ancient curse called down upon the Dom long, long ago by an evil priest in retribution for their meddling in his treacheries. Since the day the curse was pronounced, the Dom have wandered. Sages have speculated that the Darine, as former leaders of the Dom people, are so strong in their worship of nature and the land because of their failure to protect their people from the wandering curse; they seek forgiveness through their supplication.
A Darine tribe consists of a caravan of 5 to 50 members, and is usually an extended family. The Darine travel in wooden wagons called vardos (small wagons with a high arching roof and a door at the back with the driver sitting in front). Vardos are painted in vivid colours and might even have tiny windows of tinted glass, if the owner is prosperous. The vardo travels with a small menagerie of dogs, goats, and crated chickens. Each caravan is led by the elders (oldest male and female). These elders have the final say on all matters that affect the whole clan. They arrange marriages between clans to form alliances and diffuse feuds. A clan might consist of one set of grandparents, one or two of their sons, their sons' families and maybe their grandsons' families. Typically, only unmarried daughters live with their blood relatives, going to live with their husbands' families upon marriage.
Non-Darine are derisively called gorgios. While these individuals may be befriended of Darine, they can never be considered part of the Darine fellowship. There are no "honorary" Darine (or Dom, for that matter). Darine trade with gorgios for everything, preferring goods, services, and even trinkets over Royals or Daros, or the like. They often accept promises for later services in place of immediate payment. They interpret promises literally, so care must be taken in the exact wording.
Darine follow their own law, such as that is. They ignore laws they don't like, completely unfettered by guilt. To the Darine, justice is more important than the law. They also view property differently (much like to Nuari or older Makai), and so do not feel remorse over petty thefts. They view murder and rape much more harshly than even the King's courts, though, and punish both appropriately. They also dislike broken promises and lies, but think nothing of twisting the truth in their favour. Darine punishments or crimes are always fitting; for example, rape is punishable by castration, a broken promise for services by the kidnapping of a member of the offender's family (to carry out the promised service), and assault by a curse (see below) or--at the very least--a thorough pummelling. Larger legal issues, those which cannot be settled by tribal or clan leaders (such as a large feud) are settled by a kris, a Dom court with over-arching authority.
The Darine consist of two large clans subdivided into several tribes. Each clan has its own manner of dress, appearance, and traditions, though members of one clan do acknowledge members of the other as fellow Darine. All clans have at least some fortune tellers and entertainers, and characters of nearly any rogue class. Pure warriors are rare. While the Darine do not have clerics or priests of any organised religion (including that of Zirchev), this role is filled by individuals who function as healers, mystics, or oracles. Most of these are women, especially the elder women.
The two distinct Darine clans (including the subdivision in the Kaldresh clans) and some related tribes include:
The Kaldresh clan consists of two separate subclans, the Kaldresh and the Manusa. The Kaldresh are "camp followers": tinkers, smiths, animal trainers, and healers. They pride themselves in their ability to supply armies, trade caravans, adventurers, and others with the proper tools needed to defeat enemies, as well as with needed healing after a battle. The Kaldresh have been known to supply both sides in a conflict, not really caring about the disputes of non-Darine, but more interested in making a living. Tribes of Kaldresh include the Kamii, Equarr, and Vatraska.
The Manusa are the rarest of Darine and are seldom encountered in numbers larger than a single family. They are the most mysterious and reclusive of the Darine and the ones closest to the oldest legends of the race. They are tinkerers in the arcane: amulets, charms, potions, and lore. Rumour says they have the power to bend time and space to their will, and that they know much of ancient evils and how best to ward off or escape them. It is believed that they guarded the Darine from the worst of the ancient curse. Tribes of Manusa include the Naiat and the Zarovan.
The Vistani are consummate entertainers. Their camps are rife with bards, dancers, musicians, and con men. They seem to have the ability to turn even the most hostile audience into an adoring crowd, and frequently a charming Vistana can convince an entire village to gamble away months of savings on a rigged game with a smile and a few well-placed words. It is the Vistani who occasionally agree to perform as guides, having seen more of Brun than most Kaldresh clans. In these cases, the Vistana performs exactly according to the contract, not going beyond the letter of the agreement, but not falling short of it, either--although they are not adverse to negotiating a new contract if the other party wishes, for just a few more coins. . . The Vistani have a darker side; they also hire out as smugglers, kidnappers, and (in a very few instances) assassins, using their innate charm to circumvent obstacles that stymie others. Like the Kaldresh, the Vistani might accept such assignments from all sides in a conflict, performing what they view as necessary, preordained tasks. Tribes include the Canjar and the Corvara.