The Caereans are another culture from the world of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE and THE IGNORED PROPHECY.
The Caereans are of medium height and tend to be dark. They also tend to have a more powerful, stocky build than the Dardani. Hair color is from medium brown to dark brown. Their eyes are generally brown, but may be hazel. For some reason, hazel eyes are more common among the members of the smith guild. No one keeps such statistics in Caere, but a few have noticed that members of the smith guild are often longer-lived than other Caereans. Skin color is medium, but appears dark next to a Dardani. Caerean men wear tunic and trousers, similar to the Dardani. Caerean women wear flouncy dresses with tight bodices. The women wear their hair up, usually in a bun, but allow a length of it to be left down, especially in younger women. In imitation of the Fasallon, wealthy Caerean women may wear some jewelry.
Caere is the largest of four cities up and down the coast. It is built at the end of a deep, sheltered bay. Originally two separate towns, Caere now has four major sections. At the south side of the bay, the original fishing village has grown into a flourishing port. The sandier beaches and absence of sea rocks have made this side of the bay the anchorage for the fishing and merchant fleets. This is also the roughest and poorest part of town, although most of the time the Temple Guard maintains reasonable order, even here.
Opposite, on the north side of the bay, the original Fasallon settlement has become the huge Temple complex. This area is still exclusively inhabited by the Fasallon and the half-bloods. The Temple comprises the buildings devoted to the activities of the Healers, the classrooms and dormitories in which the young Fasallon are taught and which are also used for the boys about to undergo their manhood tests. There are meditation gardens scattered throughout the complex, usually overlooking the bay. Beyond the more public areas, there are also various living quarters for the half-bloods and the Fasallon not fortunate or important enough to live in the Palace. The Palace takes up the entire island, which is located in the bay, near the north side. It is the center of the bureaucracy and also the dwelling of the most important members of the Fasallon ruling class.
The city has grown to unite these two ancient towns and now encompasses the entire area at the end of the bay. In this third section of the city, the guildhalls are located nearest to the Temple, with the residences of the guild members spread out between the guildhalls and the port. The most prosperous citizens of Caere are members of one of the many guilds. In this part of the city, every street crossing has become a market place, where everything available from all parts of the known world is available—for a price. Caereans love to bargain. It could be called their national pastime.
The city wall surrounds these three sections, but it has not been guarded in centuries. Since all of the other cities are also under Fasallon control, Caere has not known anything but peace for generations. This has been very good for trade.
The fourth section lies outside the city walls. An area larger than the city proper has been settled as farmland to support the city. While still Caereans, these people are of necessity more independent than the city dwellers. Living on the sea coast, a large portion of the Caerean diet is based on fish, although they also keep chickens and a few short-haired goats. Caereans also bake sweet cakes and fruit pies for special occasions. These can also be bought in the markets and are a particular favorite of Vatar’s.
Caereans in all parts of the city live in stone or brick houses. These houses are square and often two or even three stories tall. The public or common parts of the house are generally on the first floor, with bedrooms upstairs. Sometimes, an apprentice’s bedroom or additional bedrooms will be located on the first floor behind the common rooms. The streets are paved with cobble stones. Other than the meditation gardens of the Temple complex, very few things grow within the city walls.
The Caerean economic system is based around the guilds. Guilds provide training, legitimacy, support, and protection to their members. The guilds are also the de facto government, since the Fasallon are inclined to leave much of the day-to-day business of managing the city to the Caereans themselves. The guilds have become somewhat insular over the generations. Becoming a member of a guild generally requires a sponsor who is already a member and is usually only available to members of the sponsor’s family. Children usually begin helping at the family business, whatever that is, at around ten years old. The age of apprenticeship varies among the guilds. The smiths will not accept an apprentice younger than fourteen, because the apprentice has to have enough physical strength to perform the job. The guild must approve the admission of an outsider, which is rare. Despite the guild system, the Caerean economy is based on individual effort. Within the guilds, an individual’s talent and effort will determine how far he goes and how much wealth he accrues.
Caereans are technologically superior to the Dardani. Thanks to knowledge gained from the Fasallon, they are able to work iron and steel, which gives them a significant trading advantage with the Dardani. They also have improved healing techniques, again thanks to the Fasallon.
Caere is very much a man’s world. Women largely stay at home and tend the house and children. Women do go to the markets, however, and groups of women often meet to gossip as they get water from the public fountains which are often at the center of the markets.
At the age of fifteen or sixteen, Caerean boys go through the manhood rites. They are taken to the Temple for a week. There they are taught their responsibilities as men—chiefly the duties that they owe to the Temple and the descendants of the Sea Gods, as well as to the Sea Gods themselves. At the end of the week, they are taken out singly to complete their manhood test. The Caerean manhood test is an individual test. The purpose is to make the test difficult enough that the boy feels he has accomplished something, without making it so difficult that there is a real danger of failure. Upon completion of the test, the young man is given his torque. All Caerean men wear a torque, usually copper. Wealthy men will sometimes replace their original torque with one made of silver, or even gold.
Marriages are often arranged. Even when they are not, the parents of the young woman have the final say in whom she will be allowed to marry. Marriages are for life, no exceptions. Marriages are most commonly made within a guild—a smith will marry the daughter of another smith—but not always. Women are expected to be completely naïve at the time of their marriage. A good Caerean wife expects to begin having children as soon as possible and to have as many children as possible. The Caereans do possess a method of contraception—Urulu weed—which is dispensed only by the Healers. It is generally available only once a woman has had several children or in cases where the Healers have determined that further pregnancies would be physically or emotionally dangerous for the woman.
Caere is a sea port. There are inns and taverns in various parts of the city where men can get alcoholic drinks such as beer. And there are some women in these taverns who are available, for a price. Other than these women, the taverns are only open to adult men.
The Caereans believe that the Sea Gods long ago came to their rescue when the original fishing village was threatened by a sea dragon. They believe that the Sea Gods then left their descendants, the Fasallon, to govern Caere. This gives legitimacy to the Fasallon rule. This religion is not known for its devout worshippers, however. Most Caereans only think about the Sea Gods once a year, during the Festival. At this time, the Sea Gods return and are paraded through the streets of Caere. The guilds and citizens all offer their tribute to the Sea Gods as they pass through and receive their blessings in return. Caereans observe a half-day of rest on seventh-day. When pressed, a Caerean will swear “Merciful Sea Gods!” or simply “Merciful Gods!”.