In the mountainous areas a good ways from the lands of Isegrad, there lies a tribe of wildkin that consist mostly of Ursine. One of the several groups that originated from the Mother Bear's ideology, where Family meant everything, this tribe in particular saw itself not as a simple group of people, nor a team, but rather an entire Family, of sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. Their origins began with the story of the Mother Bear, but branched off to become their own community.
Over a hundred years ago, the Bratja Tribe was made up of only eight bearkin, shunned from their larger tribe due to a misunderstanding. While they survived, they certainly did not thrive. This was caused by their original fear of outsiders, feeling that those who were not part of their original family were not to be trusted. Largely, this was due to their original 'betrayal' that they felt ruined much of their ability to survive. This viewpoint changed when they were rescued from a deadly pack of dire-wolves.
Their rescuers came in the shape of two Ursine, shunned and feared from their original tribe due to their differing colors of fur and hair. The Bratjas were so tired due to their inability to find enough supplies for weeks now, they were weakened and unable to defend themselves. Seeing this as a sign, the Bratja tribe welcomed the two, and so began their more open views on others outside of their original ties.
Stories and Their Influence
Though small, the Bratja tribe tends to be rich with stories and tales of spirits and heroes. Stories that are supposed to be based on something that has happened, or something that could happen. Tall tales that warn to not abandon family are not unknown to tell, either.
Of the stories, perhaps the most popular one aside from the legend of the Mother Bear is the tale of the 'Twin Cubs'. The story was based upon the two siblings that rescued the Bratja tribe so long ago, about how two cubs were abandoned because of their differences. They went through many trials, nearing starvation and death at every corner. However, because they had each other, they would never falter. The story went that should an Ursine coupling bring forth twins, those twins were blessed to be at each other's side through all trials.
Due to this story that was passed down for so long, anytime twins were born in the tribe, much celebration was to be had. However, with this came a lot of expectation and responsibility. Many would believe them to perhaps become Chieftan, or help to advise the tribe itself. At the very least, they were expected to become Hunters.
If one of the twins died, the surviving twin would be seen either as a very sad survivor, or a traitor that allowed their other half to perish. Depending on the circumstance, and depending on how people viewed this, they would either be taken care of as a mourner, or they would be cast out, shunned for betraying family.
Often times, when one wishes to marry, they would marry outside of the tribe. Due to their growing trust of outside influences, no judgement is normally given to those that they find to be their loved one. Marriage is seen as a very sacred ceremony of sorts, where a ritual is performed by the two lovers to symbolically entertwine their fates together.
The ritual involves staying within a cavern away from the tribe alone together. Inside of the cavern, the couple is to perform a shedding of blood for one another. Normally, this simply includes cutting one's palm and placing a handprint upon the cavern's wall, mixing it with a paint that would keep the handprints immortalized. One handprint, normally the one of the Husband, would go first. Then, the handprint of the Wife would go over that. Afterwards, they would sing their praises to the Twin Cubs and the Mother Bear that they would be destined to be with one another forever.
There have been cases of same-sex ceremonies, but this did not change the ritual much. The handprints would be placed in any order, however one facing the thumb right, one facing the thumb left.
To the Bratja Tribe, there is no such thing as divorce. The only way to leave one's relationship would be death. Leaving one's lover without warning or reason is seen as a terrible taboo, and they would not be welcomed back if they ever returned.
The tribe normally stays away from Isegrad, seeing it as an expanding force that would force change they do not require. It is known that those that leave for Isegrad's lands are seen as foolish. Those that return often do so quickly, as they would find it too different from their tribal life. However, it is not unknown that, in the face of a famine, the Bratja Tribe would move towards Isegrad's lands in order to seek refuge, much to their pride's injury.
The role of a Hunter is a fairly important job to the Bratja Tribe, as they are the ones that bring home the meat and scout out for any dangers. Though many of their roles are important- Gathering, Parenting, etc, Hunters are seen as a very high-praise rank to gain. In order for one to become a Hunter, they must join a hunt and find their own kill without any support. Only if they are in a deadly predicament must a veteran Hunter step in.
Those that are married into the family are seen as family. They would gain a title such as 'Sister' or 'Brother'. Those who are age ten or below are known as 'Little Sister' or 'Little Brother'. The head tribesman and his wife would be called 'Father' and 'Mother respectively. The uses of 'Son' or 'Daughter' are saved only for the parents of the children.
In order to pass down the mantle of leadership, it is not a competition of prowess, but rather one of sink of swim ability to adapt. Each contending tribesman would be given a scenario in which to work through, a list of things that could go wrong. They would need to come up with a decision on what to do, and how quickly they could perform such. Those that are seen as worthy by not only the Leader, but by his or her spouse, would be chosen as the protege.
The 'Betrayal' and Misunderstanding that caused the original schism for the Bratja Tribe has been lost to time, though there is a theory that it was caused by a belief of a cursed Wildkin that brought ruin to everything they touched.
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