Into the Sands...A Treatise on the Tehir People, by Radeek Andoran
**This writing is my own opinion and derived from my own observations, it is not to be accepted as fact nor as official documentation on the Tehir people. The information given is either a part of what is already known of the Tehir (and published in the existing works detailing the Tehir people on the GSWiki), or extrapolated from that information. This is by no means the only way to look at the people who live within the Sea of Fire, the Tehir**
I. The Basics
The Tehir, or Tih-fearee, which means He-veiled, or Speaker of the veil in their language, reside in the Sea of Fire, a very inhospitable desert region east of Vornavis, south of Mestanir and Jantalar, West of Hendor, and north of Seareach. Technically the Sea of Fire is within the borders of the County of Seareach, but it has yet to be conquered by Imperial forces; the elements are hard on both man and beast and the Tehir are fiercely independent and fight for that independence and freedom.
The Tehir are a war-like nomadic tribal society, with numerous sects and/or clans. The Tehir are known for their ferocity in combat and some of the clans tend to war incessantly with each other. They are also known to ride the Yierka, a denizen of the Sea of Fire, into combat, using them in a fashion similar to cavalry and warhorses.
There is really no way to say that Tehir "do this, or do that" since each clan/tribe has its own practices and it's own rites; the Tehir are a varied people, however, all are expert at one thing... surviving in what is probably the MOST inhospitable area of Elanthia, the Sea of Fire.
The Tehir have no written language, therefore, the history of the Tehir people is verbal, passed down through the ages by way of song and tale. As such, the written history of the Tehir has been done by the Empire and is recent; the Tehir were "discovered" in the Sea of Fire in the year 4486 by the Hendorans.
The origins of the Tehir and how they came to be in the Sea of Fire has long been a mystery, and is very open to interpretation. It is obvious that they are not indigenous to the Sea of Fire, but have somehow managed, through determination, perseverance, and strength of will, to thrive there. They are a hearty people who value their history and their autonomy, and, as the Imperials have found out, are willing to fight to keep it. If the Tehir were to unite as one, against the Imperial forces, I believe they could win against the Imperials and become free and independent; but the Tehir are notoriously secular and tribal in nature and war as much between their clans as they do against the Empire.
II. Where do the Tehir Come From?
(This is MY opinion; it is in no way officially supported or substantiated, and may be highly controversial)
There are a number of Tehir "zamads", or, as we know them, sonnets, that mention a great evil power which drove the Tehir from their home and into the Sea of Fire, many, many years ago. Upon studying these songs I am convinced that this "great evil" was none other than the being we have recently fought, the one we call Althedeus, known by the Tehir as "the Maw of the Void." This Zamad, to my knowledge, is the oldest human reference to the being of Shadow, bringing to light the exciting possibility that the Tehir may well be the oldest branch of humanity…perhaps among the first of the race of man.
This excerpt, from a traditional Tehir zamad, spells it out better than any other:
Three on three, small moon so red
Left the wood, once fertile bed
Years they walked, 'cross mountain's crag
Til she turned, to withered hag.
Noontide burned, the withered flesh
As they went, to north and west
Sun did set, 'cross darkened face
Stop they did, in land of waste.
Six on nine, no moon to see
Tired was, the family
Rest and wait, in desert's heat
Free and clear, from enemy.
Rotting wood of color green
Blood did run in the stream
Women ranting in cacophony
Such madness from the mastery
Wooded respite destroyed in spite
Potsherds splintered trunks with might
When the ghost chose to fight
He laid us to waste with a wight
Five on five, the master said
No more Tehir in my bed
Water gushing with our dead
For their lives they had fled
Into the sea
Out of the cold
Our people fled
The old green way
And now our people
Of golden desert
We tend our goats
We serve no one
The Tehir tribes
Called godless ones
And our old people
Fled to fields of green
They watch our ways
From far away
Those evil spirits
Of our dead seeds.
You will note the reference to "the fertile wood", and "the wooded respite"; the ancient forest of Wyrdeep is south and east of the Sea of Fire and it is in that direction from whence the Tehir came, as well as having a mountainous region between the two, and of course the reference to stopping in "the land of waste", an obvious reference to the Sea of Fire.
I am of the opinion, from reading these tales and comparing the information to the maps of the known region that the Tehir originally came from the Elder Forest known as Wyrdeep. What they did there, or any relationships or power they had in that forest is unknown and only supposition; but the evidence clearly states from what direction they travelled to reach the Sea of Fire, and that evidence points directly to Wyrdeep.
It should also be noted that a very large forested area exists even further to the southeast of the Sea of Fire. Just to the west of the Elvin city of Ta'Nalfein is a very large tract of forest. The possibility exists that the Tehir originated there, but I am of the opinion that Wyrdeep is the more likely place of origin of the Tehir; had the Tehir originated that close to the elves, I believe there would be some elfish lore to corroborate this, and I have yet to find any, though a lack of written records does not preclude the possibility of this.
The reference to "godless ones", which most of the Tehir believe themselves to be, could just as easily refer to a battle, long ago, with the being known to us as Althedeus, since as we have recently seen and experienced, the Lords and Ladies of Lornon and Liabo seemed incapable of lending any sort of assistance to the fight, hence, in essence, making us all "godless" for a time.
If, as I am assuming, the Tehir originated long ago, in Wyrdeep, then the entire question of the Tehir practices of "Seeing" and the use of blood magic makes much more practical sense, since it has been insinuated that blood magic is an ancient practice, perhaps even more ancient than humanity itself. Quite a number of Tehir are practitioners of blood magic and the gift of sight is strong in many. I am of the opinion that this may be due to the innate magical nature of Wyrdeep and might have become an integral part of the Tehir bloodlines due to their origination there.
The Tehir, due to their relatively recent discovery, are largely an unknown people to the outside world. Their own history, and indeed, even their language, is kept secret from outsiders and very few of the Tehir themselves are well versed in their entire cultures story. Certain Tehir elders, known by many different names and titles within the various tribes, are responsible for keeping the ancient lore alive, each generation teaching the next, in an unbroken line back to their beginnings. However, odds being what they are, I am sure that there have been unexpected losses among the loremasters and some of the history has been lost due to this.
Historically speaking, I believe the Tehir are far older than the Empire itself, otherwise, they would have been "discovered" far sooner. I am of the opinion that the Tehir may well be the oldest of the "modern" Humans, and that they have resided within the scorching heat of the desert wasteland, unknown to any until very recently, for millenia.
III. The Trials of Manhood
Some clans of the Tehir (but most definitely not all) practice The Trials of Manhood, a testing procedure used to determine the strength and character of the young males of a clan or tribe. These trials vary in number and difficulty as well as the age when the young male begins these trials. Some of these trials are extremely demanding and young men undergoing some of the more "barbaric" trials have been severely injured, or even killed.
**I have listed here some of the trials of one particular band of Mir'sheq Tehir. Please keep in mind that not all Tehir use the trials of manhood, and of those that do, the type, number, and duration of the trials varies greatly from clan to clan. This is by no means a comprehensive listing of the trials, not do I wish to convey the idea that this is a commonplace practice among the Tehir, since we know so little about them as a whole.**
Trial One---Trial of Lore (Biedi Tih-fearee)
Tehir history and lore are kept verbally, there are no written records known to exist. Each Tehir is taught the histories of their people from a very early age, passed down verbally from generation to generation. During this trial, it is required to recite these histories to the Master of Lore. This is usually an elder Tehiri male, selected for this position for his knowledge of the lore of his clan. He is a member of the Elder Council of Males. It is his responsibility to teach the clan history and to judge during this trial how well the young male has remembered and told the histories. It should be noted that it is possible that the master of lore of a particular clan of Tehir will also be a woman, normally a seer, mage, or empath of great power and high status.
Trial Two---Trial of Water (Biedi Qorit)
Water is the lifeblood of the Tehir; being predominantly desert people water is everything to them. Conservation of water is paramount. During this trial, the young male is given one gourd of water, which must last him for 4 days. During this time, the young male is required to sit within a circle on the outskirts of camp, there to remain for four days. He has no contact with anyone, except his mother (or another female should the males mother not be available due to death or some other reason), who may bring him food. This food is of a dry and preserved nature. Dried meat, fruit, grains, and bread are the common foods. No fresh fruits or any other food that may contain liquids are allowed.
Trial Three---Trial of Fasting (Biedi Iodiz)
During this trial, a Tehir male undergoes forced starvation for a period of at least 12 days. The male may be given small sips of water after 2 days of total abstinence from anything passing his lips. This trial ends only when the male begins hallucinating. There have been cases of males passing out, never regaining consciousness, and dying without ever having hallucinated. This is considered an evil omen and in these cases, the male's corpse is burned without any form of service and his name is forever stricken from the verbal histories of the clan; it is as if he had never been born. Immediately upon hallucinating the male undergoes the Trial of the Godless.
Trial Four---Trial of the Godless (Duri Teuriz)
This is one of the more important and sacred rituals of the Tehir Trials of Manhood. It is during this trial, while the male is still hallucinating from the Trial of Fasting that he receives his spirit totem. This is one of the only ceremonies in which the women are the sole participants. No males are present, save the one undergoing the trials. It is during this trial that the Seer of the clan, always a woman of great mystical powers, performs a ritualistic scrying and interprets the hallucinations of the male to determine the spirit totem of the male. This trial, upon completion, will also grant the male two marks, or talismans; one for the completion of the ritual, and another, denoting the spirit totem that is now part of the male. Although extremely rare, there have been cases where males receive no spirit. These young men are considered extremely powerful, are immediately removed from the trials, and undergo rigorous training to become shaman or healers. Of the clans that do the Trials of Manhood, this is the only case in which males have a high status that is not based upon completion of the various trials. It should also be noted that rarely males would change spirits later in life. Though uncommon at best, it is neither looked down upon nor challenged, as men are assumed to know their own hearts better than anyone.
Trial Five---Trial of Life (Biedi Rievi)
Trial Five, the Trial of Rievi (Life) is more of an instructive trial rather than a practical one. During this trial, which is normally given by the young mans father, or another close relative or family friend if the young man's father is deceased or otherwise not around, the young male is taught the ways of marriage and responsibility to family, clan, and Tehir. This covers everything the young male needs to be a good husband and provider to his future family. It is also during this trial that young men are introduced to women. The Tehir believe that for a man to be truly happy it is of paramount importance that his mate be happy with him, in all things.
Trial Six---Trial of Weapons (Biedi Takouba)
It is at this time in a young Tehir's life that he must choose his chosen weapon(s). Most young men already have a preference at this stage in their lives so this Trial is actually more about advanced training in the chosen weapon, or weapons. Being that Tehir are quite warlike this training will obviously be intense and take a considerable amount of time. This trial will actually continue throughout the other trials so long as the young man continues to improve or is not maimed or killed during training (which is not uncommon).
Trial Seven---Trial of Flora (Biedi Ahmdir)
It is in this stage that knowledge of plants in the Sea of Fire is taught. The properties of edible, medicinal, dangerous or poisonous, and even hallucinogenic plants are learned. The Tehir male is expected to become an expert in all of these. There have been incidents where males are poisoned deliberately and required to seek and make use of the antidote in order to pass this Trial; failure means death.
Trial Eight---Trial of Fauna (Biedi Zirtziez)
This stage covers all fauna in the Sea of Fire. It is accompanied by much practical application. The Tehir male learns what to eat, how to kill it, and even how best to prepare it. This Trial also covers the all-important knowledge of how best to dispatch dangerous or aggressive animals; the dispatching of a very dangerous beast, alone, denotes normal passage of this trial. As such, there are numerous injuries or fatalities associated with this task.
Trial Nine---Trial of Sand (Biedi Zome)
The Trial of Sands is ninth trial. The male is required to spend three weeks alone in the desert, putting the skills learned in the previous Trials to the test. The Tehir male may take any gear he believes he will require, but no food or water.
Trial Ten---Trial of Silence (Biedi Ti'iz)
Upon completion of the Trial of Sands the Tehir male returns to his clan, but may speak to no one, nor be spoken to, nor even acknowledged. It is as if he doesn't exist. It is said this derives from the ancient custom of making sure the returned one is not an evil spirit in human form. Ten days is the normal length of this Trial.
Trial Eleven---Trial of Trading (Biedi In-gtomtei)
This is another trial that is more instruction rather than practical application. All Tehir males must be considered worthy traders, since, in some clans of Tehir, their lifestyle revolves around the ability to trade. Young Tehir men learn the values associated with certain raw materials and finished goods. They are also instructed in the art of bargaining from a position of power.
Trial Twelve---Trial of Deception (Biedi Fiier Luazh)
Also derived from ancient Tehiri custom, this trial is extremely devious in nature. It is during this trial that the male is sequestered from the rest of the camp and visited by only males of the clan. Each male visitor will give the young male a series of statements. At the end of the day, the young male is required to tell which of these statements are true, and which are false. This is to give the male an understanding of the nuances of truth or lie, an important trait among the Tehir, especially when dealing with outsiders. This trial will last until the headman of the clan believes the young male has a good grasp on human nature, intuition, body language and has the ability to tell truth from falsehood.
Trial Thirteen---Trial of Moon (Biedi Lekem)
This trial is all about sleep deprivation. The young male will be kept awake for as long as possible, by any means necessary. The normal length of time is six days. Most young men who fail this test do so voluntarily, as it is extremely difficult to remain awake more than four days. There have been cases where young men have been able to go more than six days, but these are rare indeed, and the young men who accomplish this feat are highly valued as potential scouts.
Trial Fourteen---Trial of Stealth (Biedi Morduska)
Since Tehir are great believers in raiding it is necessary that they be stealthy people. This trial sees the young man undergo rigorous training in the arts of camouflage and concealment (hence being named for the Morduska), as well as the setting up and following thru on ambushes and attacks. Silent movement and stillness are taught as well as silent and efficient killing. It is also at this phase of the trials that the young Tehir learns the art of tracking, and the art of deception to avoid being tracked (including the laying of false trails to confuse the tracker).
Trial Fifteen---Trial of Truth (Biedi Utofi Huieb)
The young Tehir male who reaches this point in his training is already considered a valuable asset to his clan. It is during this trial that the young male goes into the desert, with all he believes himself to need, and has a period of self-reflection. The Tehir believe that honesty to ones-self is paramount and this trial is a test of this. The Tehir male returns of his volition and is immediately escorted to the tribal elders area within the camp. It is then required that the male explain their triumphs and their shortcomings in the previous trials. Honesty is the test here, and the elders are the gauges. Any male found to be embellishing or stretching the truth, or who is not sufficiently honest in their faults, is immediately finished with their trials and will proceed no further.
Trial Sixteen---Trial of the Sun (Biedi Zom)
While a large number of Tehir find at least a minimal religious affinity with the sun it also represents death to those who live within the Sea of Fire. This Trial sees the young man turned out of the clan, naked and alone. For at least four weeks, the young man will survive in the desert, utilizing all the previously learned skills. This trial causes a lot of fatalities and is generally considered one of the more difficult of the trials, and is a prelude to the Trial of Stamina.
Trial Seventeen---Trial of Observation (Biedi Rome-fizum)
For this trial, the young man will be sent to observe a neighboring clan. This is done with stealth and cunning. The object is to gain as much information as possible on the clan being observed without being seen or caught. The young Tehir will then report with all information garnered. While the young man is on this trial, a small group of seasoned Raiders will also be observing both the camp and the young Tehir male. Notes will then be compared upon return and the success or failure of this Trial is determined by how close these two reports are.
Trial Eighteen---Trial of Leadership (Biedi Zori Huieb)
It is during this Trial that the young Tehir male will accompany the various clans' elders in their day-to-day duties. These include the Headman, Master of the Desert, Master of Horses, Master of Raiding, Master of Weapons, Master Shaman, Master Healer, as well as the various other clan leaders. Tehir who complete this trial may eventually become leaders in their own right.
Trial Nineteen---Trial of Raiding (Biedi Teddir)
During this Trial, the young Tehir must plan, organize, gather intelligence, and execute a raid against a neighbouring clan. Normally this will not be a warlike raid. Bridal raids are common as are raids against livestock. Also, if the young Tehir has shown exceptional aptitude a slave raid may be assigned. Only young men who complete this trial may become Masters of Raiding within their clan and failure to achieve and complete this trial does not preclude Tehir from being raiders or leading raids, only from being Masters of Raiding in their clan.
Trial Twenty---Trial of Stamina (Biedi Vur)
During this trial, the young male undergoes a test of endurance and fortitude. This by far the longest and most difficult trial the young man will undergo. It is a culmination of all previously learned knowledge. It is during this trial that the young man is once again turned out into the desert, naked and alone. The difference between this trial and the Trial of the Sun is this lasts much longer and the young Tehir has a list of tasks that must be completed. These may include hunting a dangerous beast, blazing a trail, making a suitable weapon and clothing, etc. This trial has been known to last up nine months. During this time, the raiders from the young Tehirs clan will be hunting him. If he is caught, he fails this trial.
Trial Twenty-One---Trial of Blood (Biedi Keke, sometimes referred to as the Trial of Pain)
Not all of the various clans of the Tehir who use the Trials of Manhood subscribe to this particularly barbaric trial. This Trial is all about accepting pain as a part of life, both physical and emotional pain, and being able to continue to resist, even while being tortured. While each clan has different practices regarding this ritual, all have one thing in common, mercy is for the weak, and only the strong continue. I will not dwell on some of the more gruesome practices inflicted upon the young men undergoing this Trial since they vary from clan to clan and also from trial candidate to candidate. This trial also instructs the young man in the use of pain for gaining information from an individual, i.e. the use of torture. While not an accepted practice among the more "civilized" peoples of Elanthia, the Tehir have been perfecting the art of torture for generations, and some clans have achieved such a notoriety that enemies of those clans have been known to kill themselves rather than be captured and subjected to torture at their hands.
Trial Twenty-Two---Trial of sight (Biedi Golbuir Fiier, loosely translated into common, Riding the Veil)
This Trial, the last, may or may not be performed; it is reserved for individuals who have completed the previous twenty-one trials. It is only performed on those young men who have been deemed exceedingly gifted, or even troubled, in some form. Generations of Tehir men have undergone the twenty-one trials and it could be decades, or perhaps even a century or more before a young Tehir is deemed worthy, or perhaps in need, of this trial. During this trial, the young man is subjected to the use of hallucinogenic drugs, derived from native plants, and/or animals, to induce a trance-like state. The individual will then normally have a vision and will describe said vision to the elders and the most powerful female Seer of the clan. This vision may be of the past, present, or future and will determine the status of the young male in the clan hierarchy. It should be noted that any young man who completes this Trial is undeniably gifted in the eyes of the Tehir, and perhaps even one to be feared. There are known cases of the young men being banished, or even killed after this Trial, though both are quite rare. A clan which has a young man within its ranks who completes this Trial is given great honour and status, even among other clans, and the parents of the young men are honoured as well, for it is they who raised the young man properly and gave him the strength to complete this task.
After completion of the Trials of Manhood, no matter how far the individual progressed, they are forever considered Men of the Tehir, with all responsibilities and benefits associated with this status. They are free to marry and to have a family; they are allowed to raid and to have possessions. It should be noted however that most material wealth within the Tehiri family is brought and owned by the wife. The husband, while his status is important and noted, normally assumes the status of his wife. There are exceptions to this, especially when dealing with a male or female of extremely high or excessively low status.
IV. Blood Magic and the Tehir
The Tehir are known practitioners of the art of Blood Magic, and have been for millennia, some of the more skilled mages being quite powerful. Different sects of Tehir may call their Blood Mages by different names, but most would consider them to be on par with Shaman, and each blood mage is normally also skilled in the art of divination, or Seeing.
While blood magic itself is neither good nor evil, the power of the calling can be quite strong and using the art for what would normally be considered evil can be hard to avoid; it has always been easier to destroy than to create.
Some of the more powerful Tehir Seers use the power of blood as a means of focus, increasing their power substantially, enabling some to do astounding things. However, they can, and do, use the power of blood, either their own or someone else's, to perform feats of power that can be similar in effect to elemental and/or spiritual magic, but which uses only the power of blood and the will of the mage.
Power such as this can be nearly limitless, seemingly dependent solely on the skill and the willpower of the mage. It should be noted however, that the mage can very easily over-step the upper limit of their willpower threshold, normally resulting in the death of the mage; blood magic, though very powerful, is equally unforgiving when it comes to failure.
It is my belief that the Tehir learned of Blood Magic when they were denizens of the Wyrdeep Forest, very, very long ago. Blood Magic seems to me to be an appropriate form of magic for that particular forest, due to its innate magical nature and relative mysteriousness in relation to the areas we know of.
I believe that Blood Magic was at one time a VERY common practice among the ancient ones who inhabited the lands before the current age. In fact, I believe it is far older than any other form of magic that we know of, and we are only beginning to hear of its existence due to our battle with the being known as Althedeus, who, as I stated earlier, I believe to be responsible for the Tehir being in the Sea of Fire to begin with.
V. The Gift of Sight
Many Tehir are known to be powerful Seers, the gift of sight is very strong in some. This is an innate ability in some Tehir, the use of Blood Magic is required for others to exercise this power.
The Gift of Sight is not an exact science; it is more a matter of interpreting the sometimes-vague images. Some Tehir do not believe in the gift at all, and call these visions the ramblings of a lunatic, making the Seer subject to banishment in some cases.
Other clans of Tehir greatly respect their Seers, granting them extremely high status. Their visions are sought after and very important decisions may rest upon the definition given of the vision.
Some Tehir believe the gift of sight resides within the bloodlines of the Seers ancestors. Literally, generations of the same lineage of Tehir have been powerful Seers. It should be noted that, especially recently, most of the known powerful Seers of the Tehir are also skilled practitioners of the art of Blood Magic.
To be added to as I get time - The Author