Stonemire values strength above everything. Because of living and working for over two centuries in the mountains that S’ral raised for their protection, they have become a hardy and thrifty herd. They believe that any phae who is strong enough should be able to survive the harsh climate of the snow-covered peaks.
They believe that S’ral gave them these mountains to not only sustain their needs (as they are rich in ores and precious stones), but also to protect them against anything set against them. Therefore, they believe that they must live and survive off of the mountains, even if it places their own in great peril. This is perhaps the staunchest difference between Stonemire and the Lowlander splinter herd. Where the Lowlanders believe S’ral gifted them with the mountains for protection, they also believe that they are doing their job well and can also sustain themselves well living anywhere on their island home.
Generally, they are a high spirited herd, and many of their celebrations are accompanied by games to test physical prowess. Warm beer and wine often accompany these celebrations, along with a feast if the food is available.
Stonemire are rather closed off to much of the outside world, given their remote location and general distrust of outsiders. However, if trust and loyalty can be built, they will become the fiercest of allies. Trust, loyalty, dedication, and hard work are all values they cherish. If an outsider can prove that they are trustworthy, they will be accepted without question.
Rituals, Traditions, and Ceremonies
This festival takes place at the start of each new year and is held as a celebration of the day that S’ral raised the Ironcrag mountains from the depths of the earth, providing shelter and wealth beyond the herd’s reckoning.
The Snowmelt Revelry takes place at the beginning of Rainfall each year once the snow begins to melt and new growths can once again be seen breaking through the dim gray of Frosthold. This festival will specifically celebrate new growth, and much of the feasting will consist of fresh greens that one again grow a-plenty on the mountainsides.
The highland games are held every Sunhigh and can last anywhere from two weeks to a full month, depending on the games hosted that year. The games are not always the same and change based on lots tossed by the Ard Tiarna. The games currently consist of feats to prove aptitude in physical characteristics like fortitude, endurance, and agility. The champions of the games are crowned in a ceremony at the end of the festival and they hold the title for an entire year, or until the next games are held.
Many couples take part in a wedding ceremony held at the start of summer. This is seen as dedicating themselves to the herd and the future generations, by making sure only the strongest and purest of fawns are born. The couple getting married will often say personal vows to one another before the herd and S’ral, dedicating themselves to one another. To break these vows is a shunnable offense and is not taken lightly by any member of the herd.
After a fawn is born, the parents are expected to present it before the herd and take a vow to always place the interest of the fawn(s) before themselves and to dedicate the fawn(s) to S’ral. It is a beautiful ceremony that usually takes place in spring and summer, and the fawn(s) are adorned with flowers of many colors.
In the fifth year of life, the fawns of Stonemire are expected to take the ultimate test of strength and resilience in order to show the herd that they are worthy to claim a place in their ranks. At the start of Leafturn, phae of five years of age are sent one after the other along a path known as the Travail. The Travail has been worn down by generations of phae wishing to test their strength. It weaves between mountains and contains steep drops, unsure footing, climbs and falls, and travels through ancient mines. The path travels around all of Elderfrost, and successful phae are expected to return before the start of Frosthold when the path becomes far more perilous. The fawns are expected to survive and defend themselves along the way, though many return with scars and some perish along the way. Fawns may not refuse to take the Travail, and are given between the ages of 5 and 7 to successfully pass their mission. If they have not passed it by 7, they will be banished to the lowlands. To fail the Travail is to bring great dishonor to yourself and your family, as it is proof that you are not strong enough to survive in Stonemire.
Legends and Stories
Perhaps one of the more secluded cultures in the Archipelagoes, Stonemire are staunch in their beliefs and traditions and do not appreciate external meddling in their affairs. They will also become defensive quickly if so much as a whisper of an insult about their god or culture reaches their ears. Because of their rigidity in their beliefs, they tend to look upon the other herds with distaste simply because their beliefs are different.
Much of their beliefs boil down to a survival of the fittest philosophy, as every member of the herd is expected to be strong and contribute accordingly. That isn’t to say that they don’t also believe in supporting one another or coming together as a community to survive, but each individual must be contributing. It is a great dishonor to not support the herd and contribute in some way.
During times of celebration and in easier seasons, Stonemire becomes far more lighthearted and enjoys many festivals and celebrations where food and alcohol flow freely. These are the times when the wealth of the herd becomes evident, as imported foods are frequently brought out for celebrations.
Stonemire has simple tastes, mostly revolving around coats and coloration that helps survivability in the frigid climate. Coats with cool, pale tones are favored, alongside gray, roan, winter roan, sooty, and wolf sooty. Manes such as lion, qirin, dragon, or royal are also considered attractive as well as practical due to the extra layer of warmth they provide.
Phae are expected to be able bodied and tough, so heavier styled builds are also more commonly seen in the phae belonging to the main Stonemire herd. However, if a phae who is slight or lean can prove themselves as able to survive, they can be accepted, but will likely have their shortcomings pointed out to them.
Gender and Sex Roles
While there are not necessarily established roles between the sexes, males will tend to hold more positions of power in Stonemire because they are usually larger and more able-bodied. However, any phae who has proven their strength will not be questioned in pursuing any position within the herd.
Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Before marriage, it is common for partners to get permission from one another’s parents by showing a feat of strength. This can either be through a test or a physical battle where the challenger is expected to prevail, thus winning the respect of their partner’s family. It is more common that stags will challenge a doe’s father to combat to win the respect of her family, but all partners are expected to show their strength somehow.
Monogamy is generally the common and accepted marriage and relationship practice in Stonemire. Becoming mates and holding an official ceremony is a cherished piece of Stonemire culture, as marriage is seen as a promise to the herd as well as S’ral to dedicate one’s life not only to a partner but also to the herd as a whole. Thus, divorce is basically unheard of in Stonemire (unless under extreme circumstances like criminal activity, adultery, fawn abandonment, etc), so phae need to be certain of their partner before becoming bonded for life.
Becoming a parent is seen as an immense responsibility, because young life is so vulnerable and needs protection and guidance for at least the first 5 years of their lives. It is the responsibility of the parents to raise their fawns, and abandoning a fawn is looked upon as poorly as divorce.
View of Other Herds
These are the general views of the average Stonemire NPC concerning the other herds of The Elaphaea Archipelago.
The Lowlanders are seen as a bunch of soft, blasphemous betrayers who deserve nothing more than the cursed lowlands. The hatred built between Adira and Egon is mirrored in the feelings of Stonemire and the Lowlanders toward one another.
Perhaps the only herd that is despised as much as, if not more than, the Lowlanders due to their role in the disappearance of their god and slaughter of their people. If it wasn’t for the greed of Mirroweld, S’ral might still be in contact with them.
Their neighbors to the southeast are also on good terms with Stonemire, as they frequently contract earth magic wielders to assist with the carving and creation of new mines. Otherwise, they don’t tend to see eye to eye on much, especially where religion is concerned. But, Stonemire respects their hard work, strength of spirit, and the prosperity Vinelocke’s magic has helped create within their society.
While Stonemire gives no thanks to Dawnspire for the role they played in the war with Mirroweld, they do work alongside and trade goods with the Desert dwellers. Similar to the contracted earth wielders from, Stonemire will hire wind magic users to help properly ventilate their caves. Those who come from Dawnspire to work in the mines return with vast riches like gems and precious metals as payment for their services.
The northernmost herd in the Archipelago is the closest ally Stonemire has. Because of Helmfirth’s industrious nature and regular inventions and creations, they frequently need to trade for the ores and gems mined from the Ironcrag mountains. This friendship allows for a vast amount of wealth for both herds.
Stonemire greatly distrusts renegades as a rule of thumb because they don’t have a home or any particular loyalties. They believe that strength lies in numbers and an honorable society, and those who do not have these aspects are not welcome.