The Travelling Folk. The Children of The Old Blood. Gyspsies are the great wandering story-tellers of Cyrillia. They speak in volume and verse, holding their oral traditions close, and their love of the road even closer. Gypsies are known to dress in exotic clothing frequently dyed in bright, clashing colors that draw the eye. They are the masters of music, and the writers of rhyme. There are no books on great Gypsy Cities, nor are there memoirs written about great Gypsy Wars, the Gypsies need neither of these things. They are free.
To The Travelling Folk, family is everything. There are dozens of Gypsy families throughout the continents of Lairroth and Terath, all of them as cousins to one another, and each of their elders wearing a mark of pride for their heritage. A black tattoo is placed upon the back of each hand signifying something about the family the Gypsy came from, and often slightly varying to signify something specific about the bearer. Some stories claim that these tattoos are magically placed using a special form of Gypsy Magic, representing the favor and trust of the gypsy’s ancestors.
Some stories say that the hand tattoos began as a brand. One of these stories tells of how a human singer sought shelter in the home of a great fairy lord. While the lord slept, the musician supposedly took the lord’s children off in pursuit of a great treasure. The fairy lord caught the man and marked him with a iron-brand on each hand and set a curse on the man that neither he nor his descendants would ever find rest at a hearth again. Thus, they say, the first gypsies were born. Other legends claim that the hand tattoos began as a mark of favor from the ancestral spirits of the greatest matrons of the Travelling Folk, whose love of family was so great as to extend beyond the grave.
The famous caravans of the Travelling Folk are often formed of between ten and fifty people, nearly always including entire families regardless of age. Most caravans are led by a single Matron or Patron who serves as the guiding elder, leading the caravan along its path. There are usually one or two gypsy families forming the core of a caravan, travelling in the company of a few stray members of other gypsy families, or with trusted friends who have asked to share the road.
One can generally find two different types of Gypsy Caravans upon the roads –
- There are those who travel all along the coast of Terath, moving along a familiar route, such as between Hadrianus and Chindius on the east coast, or between Hadrianus and Haven along the southern coast.
- The second type of gypsy caravan which you encounter are those who explore unfamiliar roads, moving across the whole of Terath & Lairroth during their journeying.
Gypsies with the first type of caravan are familiar with the local dangers, and some of them may even have friends and allies (or enemies) within local communities. Gypsies with these caravans often attempt to build friendly relationships with the locals in order to benefit from their trust and aid. This behavior often helps reduce the mistrust of travelers that so many gypsies contend with each day. As such, they often encounter fair prices and fair treatment so long as they do not develop a bad reputation. However, the gypsies that travel such routes are often unskilled and less than fully capable of defending themselves should the worst arise. If set upon by monsters, they usually try to hunker down within their well-built wagons or “vardos” and wait for their foes to wander off, rather than confront them directly.
Gypsies with the second type of caravan are strangers in a strange land, and the only friends that they have are the other gypsies that they travel alongside. Such gypsies rarely adopt many of the fashions and customs of the local kingdoms, and are frequently labeled thieves and vagabonds before they even have the opportunity to introduce themselves. Tragically, in some cases, these labels are completely accurate, and it seems that the most troublesome of such gypsies have caused no end of trouble for the rest. On the other hand, those that travel with such caravans are frequently talented in the arts of magic and even swordplay. They are expert navigators, skilled negotiators, and seem to have a greater number of elders capable of utilizing Gypsy Magic. Stories claim that such caravans sometimes travel the wide expanses at the behest of the mysterious Gypsy Ancestors, turning their wheels down unknown roads in order to twist and change the fate of those they encounter along the way.
Because they are traveling folk, Gypsies are rarely around long enough to earn any real trust, and so a wandering Gypsy can be viewed with suspicion and often given blame when issues of theft or kidnapping come into play. These perceptions, however, are not wholly unfounded. A great deal of gypsy families invite visitors to travel with them, and that includes youngsters sneaking off in search of adventure away from home. Most Gypsies take pride in their way of life, sharing it with whomever shows interest. Most gypsies disregard or even despise those of their blood who cast off the traditions of travel and tale-telling, viewing them as family who have forgotten or even betrayed their brothers and sisters.
Each year a great extended gathering of Gypsy Families takes place near Sithia on the Northern Continent of Lairroth. In Terath this gathering is mirrored in a smaller but still significant event around the town of Isme in the Kingdom of Chindius. This gathering is an opportunity to address issues of importance to the Travelling Folk, acknowledge new family patriarchs or matriarchs, and most importantly, to celebrate being of Gypsy Heritage. Although no one other than those of truly of The Old Blood may attend the first night of this celebration, all of those who are considered friends of the gypsy people are invited to join in the frivolity. The one exception is for the Fey, who are denied participation.
Gypsies and The Fey
Until recently, the mutual distaste between the Fey and The Gypsies, to most outsiders, seemed nothing but the relatively unfounded continuation of an old, spiteful bitterness. During the Autumn of 206 PB, the ancient King and Queen of the Fey found themselves cast away from their ancestral home, bound by old powers to never set foot on the northern continent of Lairroth again. This was done through means of ancient Gypsy Magic, and was believed to have been sanctioned by many of the Gypsy families. Most Gypsies believed that the king and queen of The Fey would renew their previous persecutions against the Gypsy people, but nothing could have sparked the anger of The Fey more than their banishment. The old mutual distaste was renewed with fervor, though more often than not, The Fey and The Gypsies simply seek to avoid one another.
What is Gypsy Magic? For each individual able to answer that question, you’ll find dozens more perplexed by it. The nature of Gypsy Magic is not well known. Everyone has heard that powerful gypsies can grant supernatural boons to their allies or place terrible curses on their enemies. It is believed that those able to use gypsy magic call upon the spirits of their ancestors to summon up these powers, but very few gypsies seem to have the ability to use the ancestral magic, and the extent or strength of these powers is unknown. The truth is that Gypsies keep their magical heritage shrouded in myth and mystery. The precise manner in which Gypsy Magic is done remains a conundrum, even to most scholars.
While the Children of The Old Blood, those who wield Gypsy Magic, are said to draw upon the power in their blood and are usually considered a something similar to a specialized offshoot of the common human bloodlines (akin to Barbarians or Halflings). Drawing upon such power involves a supernatural ancestral connection which is rumored to somehow transform the user into a true descendant of the Gypsy Bloodline. Some claim that it is during a gypsy right of acceptance that the true Children of The Old Blood are said to gain their gypsy tattoos.
Additional Information –
“Every time I hear the words “With The Power of My Ancestors”, I swear that a cold shiver runs down my spine. It is those words which they often use to summon up their dreadful curses” – Talbert Morrowstone