The Mercenary Clans of the Grellken are nomadic. They claim no lands as their own and neither do they fully respect the “territorial rights” of other peoples beyond what can be enforced through brute force. That said, most Clans will not steal from those lesser than them unless they are desperate or provoked. However, their pride will allow them to haggle and negotiate for the goods that they need.
Only the lowliest or craziest Clans will fight without need or without pay. Sometimes, these outlaws are punished by their own or allowed to be wiped out by the others.
The Laws of a Clan are handed down and decided by the Chieftain-General. Some defer to the counsel of their Elder-Captains while others prefer their own advice. However, the Chieftain-General is considered to be the voice and the brain of the Clan — to disobey their orders can be considered treason and thus, punishable by death.
Clan Law: The laws of the Mercenary Clans stem from 3 simple guidelines (in order of importance)
1) Obey the Chieftain-General
2) Respect and protect your Clan and your Clanmates
3) Fulfill the dictates of your contract
Those found breaching any of these laws are imprisoned and put on trial before the Chieftain-General and/or an Elder-Captain. In a time of combat, a superior officer or senior peer tries the defendant on the spot, imprisoning (until a real trial can be had), dismissing or executing as deemed necessary. A battlefield sentence can be revoked by the Chieftain-General and officers found to be abusing their powers are severely punished.
In a trial, the accused is allowed an advocate (a family member, a peer or a superior officer) to assist them with anything they may require to prove their innocence. In dire times, the accused may request a trial by combat — if they do so, they against the Chieftain-General’s personal executioner or a proxy dictated by the Chieftain-General. This combat is not to the death.
Minor punishments include a fine, public lashings, servitude (for a month or more, including the loss of spoils) and de-limbing (removal of limbs for a month or more). Major punishments include banishment, a soldier’s death (ritual suicide) or execution.
For direct or indirect disobedience, the punishment is at least de-limbing and a public lashing, with worse sentences depending on the rank of the authority disobeyed. Directly disobeying an order of the Chieftain-General deserves a major punishment. Similarly, Desertion is punishable by execution as meted out by one’s family members and/or peers — they ritualistically and painfully tear the defendant apart in a process that takes hours. Usually, execution is done via immolating a Troll in flame or pouring holy silver upon a Minotaur — although each Clan may have specific methods.
The following are the military ranks within a typical Grellken Clan. Everyone in the Clan is carries a rank and is typically informed of their commanding officers or superiors within a unit or any other situation.
0) Fangless (non-combatant) — usually comprised of children, servants and invalids that the Clan hasn’t left behind for some reason. Those sentenced to servitude are temporarily demoted to this rank.
1) Greenhorn (youth) — usually the rank of those still undergoing training or initiation. Greenhorns are usually assigned the most tedious tasks, although rarely are they assigned dangerous ones until their training is over and they rise in rank.
2) Brave — the rank of most Grellken. They are given weapons and armor by the Clan as well as absolute command of Greenhorns and noncoms. They are also the first to be sent into danger. Those who consistently prove themselves are considered for promotion or are promoted in to secondary command positions beneath the Redhorns.
3) Redhorn/Captain — called such for the red horns they often carry, this rank of Grellken are expected to lead and direct their brethren in battle. They are also held directly responsible for a mission’s failure or any colossal casualties. A Redhorn is expected to be in command of 5-30 Braves, assigning sub-leaders as necessary. Promoted by an Elder-Captain or the Chieftain-General
4) Elder-Captain –the second highest rank in the Clan, promoted only by the Chieftain-General. They are responsible for delegating tasks for the Chieftain-General and ensuring that the Clan runs smoothly. They typically have 5-20 Captains directly under their command.
5) Chieftain-General — the highest rank in the Clan. Oftentimes, the Chieftain-General is chosen by the Elder-Captains amongst themselves for their strength, their wisdom and their ability to lead. Some Clans choose via ritualized one-on-one duels and sometimes through ceremonial free-for-alls.
Once a year, an Elder-Captain may challenge the Chieftain-General in an attempt to replace them. The loser is banished from the Clan or eaten alive.
Marriage in the Mercenary Clans — In the Mercenary Clans, marriage is monogamous and heterosexual, lasting until death or divorce. Either sex may initiate, sharing identical marital bracelets or necklaces. The ritual itself is officiated by a Priest of Obtal, the Chieftain-General or an Elder-Captain (in that order of importance). Unlike many other cultures, marriage among the Grellken is between the two individuals, not their families — however, a wise would-be couple should ensure that their in-laws get along with each other.
If the marriage is between couples of differing Clans, then one of the couples leaves their Clan to join their spouse’s, enduring all the necessary initiation rites.
The children of the couple are raised communally with the other children of the Clan. Their legacy and parentage are still important, but not as much as it is for most other communities. The Clan and the couple work together to raise the children and to teach them how to survive in cruel, beautiful Midworld. If one spouse wishes to leave the Clan (see below), it is up to the Chieftain-General to decide whether the children leave with her or him, if they are young enough.
Male vs. Female
Beyond their physical differences, males and females in the Mercenary Clans are equally regarded. Chores are split fairly evenly among the sexes. There is a slight bias with regards to female Grellken when it comes to the birth of their children and the observance of various rites. Largely, however the two sexes are each given no special treatment.
Childhood/Upbringing: The childhood of a young Grellken comprises of 3 phases, each culminating with a test.
The first phase of childhood is called the Crawling. It begins at birth and ends when the child is able to walk and talk. For Trolls, this lasts from 6-8 months. For Minotaurs, it lasts for 12-18 months. A simple test of knowledge and basic dexterity allows a child to progress forward, it is usually conducted by a Priest of Obtal.
The second phase of childhood is the Knowing. At this point, the child is learning the Grellken way and doing rudimentary chores and weapons training. Lectures with the local lorekeepers (usually Ansali or Elegbani) have also commenced. For Trolls, this lasts until the 5th to 6th year. For Minotaurs, this lasts until the 9th-11th year. A more difficult test awaits the children at this point — they go with a Priest of Oyala and assist them in a hunt. Injury is relatively uncommon for the child and death is an extremely rare occurrence.
The last phase is the Becoming. At this point, the child has become aware of his or her place in the Clan. They have moved on from rudimentary chores and weapon-training to more advanced tasks, exercises and lessons. Trolls stay in this phase for 3-5 years. Minotaurs continue to be slower at 5-8 years. The final test for this phase involves a small group of the children cooperatively fighting and slaying a creature captured by the Clan. Dismemberment and brutal wounds are common in these tests, but the resilience of Trolls and Half-Trolls allow them to survive injuries that would kill the children of other Races. Death is a rare occurrence and is mourned by the entire Clan.
At the completion of this test, the child is no longer a child. They have become a Greenhorn and are now given greater responsibilities and they now aid in the defense of the Clan should it be attacked.
Adulthood: Achieving the rank of Brave is a 3-5 year process, culminating in a one on one duel with a captive creature or even a non-lethal duel with a Brave . Those who do well in this test become true warriors of the Clan.
Adults who choose to join the Clan are granted the rank of Greenhorn after they finish their initiation. Their time as a Greenhorn is far shorter however, lasting 6 months to 2 years.
Staying in the Clan: After achieving the rank of Brave, a Grellken is expect to serve with the Clan for 5 years. After 5 years, they may choose to leave and seek their own fortunes or stay with the Clan. Doing so requires permission from the Chieftain-General. Not receiving permission or leaving before the first 5 year term is considered to be desertion.
Retirement and Death: A Troll or Minotaur in their twilight years may request permission to retire from the Chieftain-General. If allowed, the applicant is henceforth exempted from all missions beyond those that are absolutely necessary, such as the defense of the camp. The rigors of the Grellken’s nomadic life and their constant battle are often too much for many old Minotaurs and Trolls.
When they feel like they are a burden to the Clan (or when the Chieftain-General feels like such), they submit themselves to a Priest of Samad — they are slain peacefully and the next night, the Clan ritually feasts upon their corpse.
The bones of dead Clanmates are buried by a Priest of Samad. The heads of great heroes are often shrunken by the Kor Samadi and brought with the Clan. In quiet times, the Samadi might extol the deeds and the bravery of the fallen while bringing out his or her shrunken head.