Wemic Society in the Kingdom of Kalerre
Unlike humans, wemics do not need government to ensure a civil society; in the Kingdom of Kalerre there are no laws or jails, no contracts or courts, no taxes or money. Instead, society is organized to defend against enemies, to defuse infrequent conflicts, and to foster tradition, community, and mission.
Pride, Clan, Kingdom
Think of pride, clan, and kingdom as real world village, state, and nation. Prides are led by chiefs, clans by chieftains, and the kingdom by the king.
The basic unit of wemic society is the pride. Six to 18 adults, half male, half female, with three to nine cubs, make a pride -- most prides are on the larger end of that range. A pride owns a herd of 24 to 120 aurochs -- the number depends on the size of the pride, the time of year, the fertility of the grazing lands, and so on. A medium-size pride (with 12 to 13 adults) roams over grazing grounds that cover about 25 square miles. This is below modern real-world cattle-per-unit-pasturage efficiencies, but wemics are less advanced, live more lightly on the land, and like to roam. Every year, nearby prides come together for a pride conclave.
Pride chiefs settle disputes, decide where to graze herds, and organize defenses against enemies.
Prides may come together in groups, especially in times of danger (such as when attacked, or in natural catastrophes) and celebration. The largest of these groupings is the clan. There are about 400 prides in each clan. Each pride is answerable only to the clan chieftain. Each clan roams over about 10,000 square miles and includes about 5,000 wemics. Every three years, the entire clan comes together for a clan conclave.
Clan chieftains settle disputes among prides and lead the clan levy when the king calls for war.
The idea of a wemic kingdom is a new one, arising from the need to wage war against invading cannibals, who attacked in force about 300 years ago. In fact, the kingdom had no name until very recently, when human explorers named the land and the wemic nation "Kalerre." But for all the heartache and loss of the cannibal war, the establishment of the kingdom is a silver lining that many wemics think of as a blessing, because it has brought all wemics together in common cause. And every nine years, the entire kingdom comes together for a royal conclave.
There are nine clans and two armies. Each consists of about 400 prides with 12.5 wemics each. That makes a population of 55,000. Add in a rough 5,000 as priests, bards, wanderers, and loners, to bring the total to about 60,000 wemics in the Kingdom of Kalerre. This number puts little stress on the land -- given 15 years and an intense effort to reproduce, it would be relatively easy for the wemics to double the population of the kingdom.
The king settles disputes among clans, leads his own clan and the armies of the kingdom in war and peace, and rules in Mivak, the royal seat. The king is also responsible for dealing with outsiders who are not enemies, such as humans.
The great majority of wemics are simply pride members. They are usually herders, although some may also work as artisans, as hunters, or in other roles. Some wemics are priests, bards, and soldiers.
A common wemic generally bides in his or her birth pride or adopts a new pride after migrating from one clan to another. Whether adopted or native, a wemic identifies with his or her pride, travels with it, and seldom leaves it. Some wemics, though, have restless spirits, and they wander their whole lives far from the prides of their birth. Some wanderers are explorers, traders, or hunters.
There is no controlling authority, no holy text, no body of dogma, and no organized clergy in Kalerre. In human religions, these devices help preserve doctrinal purity and prevent heresy -- but among wemics in the Kingdom of Kalerre, there can be no major disagreement or deviation from purity because priests are guided by an inner moral compass that invariably points them in the correct direction. These priests have a built-in sense of right and wrong. They also have the skill to detect right and wrong in others; they can sense honesty, trustworthiness, and good intent.
Priests often find a pride in which they feel welcome, settling in and serving as advisors. Other priests wander from pride to pride. Some are hermits, living lives of lonely reflection and prayer. Some priests find those with similar purposes and join together in cults, to advance causes or protect shrines.
There are a number of independent schools, centered around holy places, where young acolytes go to study and learn. These schools teach history and theology, complementing natural inclination with background and lessons learned by others.
Deep in purity, wemic priests often have keen insight into other living things and the world around. They serve their prides and clans with warnings of danger, with guidance to good grazing and hunting, and with moral suasion.
Their knowledge of the consequences of actions tends to make many priests cautious, and their advice is often to go slowly, or to be conservative.
When wemics are in need of leaders, a confluence of priests selects the candidates. A confluence is formed by consensus from available priests, of varied age, clan, home area, and viewpoint. A confluence must be unanimous in selecting candidates.
During a confluence, the assembled priests may request a meeting with potential candidates -- and potential candidates seldom choose to decline such a request.
- For a pride, three priests pick three adults of the pride as candidates for chief.
- For a clan, nine priests pick three pride chiefs of the clan as candidates for chieftain.
- For the kingdom, 27 priests select three clan chieftains of the kingdom as candidates for king.
Wemics do not have a written language. As a people with only oral traditions, Wemics depend on bards to remember epics of history and lore. These bards fill many roles in Kalerre culture: historians, teachers, messengers, arbitrators, and diplomats.
But most of all, wemic bards are musicians! Wemics prize music and poetry above all other arts, and bards are masters. The respect wemics feel for music serves bards well because it carries over to other bard duties.
A fundamental part of bardic custom is a commitment to neutrality and a seperation from the bonds of clan and pride. Bards may not settle in one place for long, and they are part of no pride or clan. This attitude lets bards serve as neutral judges in disputes, and they are often called to settle discord when bias and emotions run high.
Some bards have devoted themselves to the service of the king, working as messengers, explorers, diplomats, and scouts. Some serve openly with the armies; others are discreet, serving as the king's eyes and ears.
And it is a gathering of bards that chooses a chief, chieftain, or king from among the candidates selected by a confluence of priests. Such a gathering is less formal than a confluence of priests, and consists of all the bards that happen to be present when a confluence finishes selecting candidates. For a pride chief, it may be just one bard who is present to make the choice, but for chieftains and kings, bards will travel from all over to join the gathering. Such a gathering makes a selection by a two-thirds vote.
During a gathering, it is expected that candidates will present themselves for inspection and conversation by the bards, although, rarely, a candidate will refuse.
Since the cannibal wars, wemics have maintained two standing armies. These two armies are based in the north, near the great swamp, and the armies maintain their own herds for food. Each army is about the size of a clan.
All wemics age 12 to 15 must serve three years in the army. There they learn warrior arts and defend the kingdom at need. Most leave at age 15 to rejoin normal wemic life, but some are invited to remain as soldiers. These form the officer corps and are the elite fighters of the army. Soldiers are used on patrols throughout the kingdom, on its borders, and near cannibal areas. They are the first in battle and the last to retreat. They train the younger wemics. Active soldiers are not allowed to mate, but they often retire in middle age to mate and raise children.
Mating and Friendship Customs
Wemics in the Kingdom of Kalerre have learned the art of being in tune with their own bodies (in scientific terms, something like biofeedback), so that they can exercise conscious control over their fertility. Unwanted cubs are not an issue, and sex is not inextricably linked to babies.
And the basic societal unit is the pride, not the "nuclear" family. Although the roles of mother and father are important, cubs are brought up by the entire pride. While mothers and fathers often have special emotional links to each other, such links are not expected or demanded -- "single" parents are not unusual. On the other hand, strong emotional links of love can occur among wemics who are not mates: the closest English comes to describing these links is "best friends," although "soulmates" and "partners" hint at how deep these bonds can be. Sometimes wemics express this depth of emotion with sex, sometimes not -- there is no approval or stigma attached either way. Best friends are sometimes of different genders, sometimes the same, and these relationships are not always dualities.
Wemics who are simply pride members have a choice: to migrate and then to join another pride, or to bide in their native pride. By tradition and custom, female wemics who migrate are free to mate with any male. Male wemics who bide are likewise free. The most common mating, then, is that of a migrating female and a biding male. When a couple want to mate in a "forbidden" union (migrating male and biding female, or two migrating wemics, or two biding wemics), the solution is for the couple to travel to the male's home pride -- then the male is biding and the female is migrating, which is fine. The only true taboo is that two wemics from the same pride cannot mate.
Females who bide (refusing to travel to a new pride to mate) and males who migrate (refusing to return home to mate) may mate only with bards. Wemics who mate are expected to live in the same pride until the cub is nine years old. The only exception is for bards, who must travel from place to place. Sometimes bards bring their cubs with them on their travels; sometimes they foster their cubs with others. These customs are designed to enhance movement and mixing among clans and prides.
Priests and active soldiers may not mate, because a commitment to children precludes the undivided loyalty required of them.