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"Mu diistaak los vahlok do revak staad (We natives are the guardians of the sacred place)"
―Asterion the Black
The Bordermen, (Wastelandic: KRUZIiKGEiN Kruziik-gein "Ancient ones") also known as wastelanders or ashlanders, and rarely as the Velothi are the inhabitants of the The Borderlands. They are a unique offshoot of the First Men, who branched off from their Stormlands cousins. They are ruled by House Blackgard.

They are pejoratively called ash folk and sand demons by outsiders.

A borderman's normal lifespan depends on what conditions the individual grew up in. Clan-based bordermen tend to live until they reach about 40–50 years. Feudal-based bordermen can age to about 60-70; bordermen over the age of 80 are a rarity. The oldest borderman to have ever lived was Arthur Blackgard, who reached the age of 112.

History

Origin

Somewhere during the Wars of the First Men and the Children of the Forest, some 12,000 years ago according to legend, the Children of the Forest used their magic to call down the Winds of Dorne on the Borderlands. They hoped to stop the advance of the First Men who were invading the continent by raising the temperature and breaking The Stormlands from Westeros, as they previously broken the land bridge from Essos to Dorne (the remnants of which are an island chain known as the Stepstones). The Children only partially succeeded, drying out the Borderlands and turning it's territories into a massive wasteland. Nonetheless, this display of strength encouraged the First Men to negotiate a peace with the Children. Afterwards, some of the First Men settled in the wastelands of the Borderlands, and became bordermen.

The bordermen consider themselves to be a unique division of the "First Men from the Stormlands" instead of an entirely separate branch from the First Men. The story goes that a warrior by the name of Asterion of the Wastes was the first human born in the Borderlands. He founded House Blackgard and created an entire new bloodline. His descendants would later become the bordermen and natives of the Borderlands.

In the Seven Kingdoms

For centuries, the bordermen have populated the Borderlands and usually kept to their own. They are generally seen as outcasts and hermits by other cultures. Even their own Northmen cousins have looked down upon them and consider them to be primitive and barbaric. However, alongside the crannogmen, the wastelanders consider themselves to be more closely related to their First Men predecessors. The Lumsos bordermen (clan-based) still cling to their Old Ways and hold everlasting respect for the land in which they live.

The Loksos bordermen have a better reputation than their Lumsos counterparts. "High-bloods", as they are generally called, are feudal-based with strong Andal influences, including the principles of knighthood, lordship, noble and Great Houses, the religion of the Faith of the Seven, and the same laws and customs.

Since the very beginning, the bordermen were ruled by House Blackgard. Even the Lumsos held great respect for the Blackgards, as the Blackgards are direct descendants from the very first borderman and supposed "All-father"; Asterion the Black. The Blackgards are actually a cadet branch of the former kings of the Stormlands, the extinct House Durrandon. After the War of Conquest, Aegon the Conqueror, after wiping out the Storm Kings, gave the Stormlands to his half-brother, Lord Orys Baratheon. The current Lord of Ebonheart then, Lord Andaren Blackgard, obliged to Aegon's orders. However, his firstborn son and heir Andyron Blackgard thought differently. He believed that the Blackgards had a stronger claim to Storm's End since they are actually blood-related to the Durrandons. After Aegon declared that he stood by his decision, a bloody and violent civil war erupted lead by Lord Andyron. Upon Aegon's death, his son, Aenys I, born from incest, takes the throne. Unwilling to continue his father's war, he complied to House Blackgard's wishes but instead of giving them Storm's End, he elevated House Blackgard to a Great House in their own right. Although victorious, Andyron's reign as Lord Paramount of the Borders was shortlived when he was poisoned at his own victory feast. Ever since, House Blackgard was the last of the Age of Heroes houses to be elevated to a Great House.

The Bordermen race faced near-extinction following the Fourth Border Wars in the event known as the Ulaanag, which two-thirds of the Bordermen population were massively executed. After Trevyr Blackgard reclaimed the Borderlands and drove House Keller into extinction, the Bordermen race and culture was restored, with its current population boosting since approx. 250 AL.

Physiology

The bordermen are a race of men who typically are regarded as dusty-skinned, dark-haired, and imposing in size and build. They are direct descendants from the First Men, who in ancient days sailed to Westeros from the continent of Essos, and to a lesser extent the Stormlanders, who were human natives of The Stormlands that gradually interbred with some of the Borderlands' First Men. The bordermen are on average more muscular and larger of size than the other cultures. They are known to have a innate resistance to poisonous substances as well as fierce and uncompromising mindset in the face of adversity; physiological and psychological traits are likely a consequence of countless generations having successfully endured the harsh, overcast dry climates of Essos and the Borderlands.

Their hardiness and evolution over the years have resulted in the bordermen developing an immunity, or at least a high tolerance for greyscale.

Religion

See also: Wastelandic Pantheon, Old Gods of the Forest and Eternal Grounds

Centuries ago, when the First Men first set foot in the Borderlands and branched off to become bordermen, they developed their own sub-religion based on the beliefs and ideals of the Old Gods of the Forest. Their patron deity, Barran the Exalted, is the Guardian of the Dead, Ancient Spirit of the Wild, and Warrior-God of the Borderlands. According to the bordermen, Barran rebelled against his brethren after he took pity on the humans who were nearly wiped out after the events of the Red Year. He took care of them and simultaneously created the mythical, beautiful and mysterious land of the Eternal Grounds, the bordermen afterlife. He has since then watched over the bordermen and after their death, he would guide their souls to the Eternal Grounds where they live infinitely and happily. Mental and physical maladies and imperfections would disappear and they would never feel any fleshly or psychological pain again.

The shamans of this sub-religion, the Hahnuiel, also known as "Dreamwalkers", exercise immense religious authority over the bordermen. It is believed that these highly devoted and mysterious shamans possess magical powers similar to that of the old wood-dancers of the Children of the Forest.

The faith of Barran, the Old Gods, and the influence of the elusive Dreamwalkers have been greatly supplanted in the Borderlands after the War of Conquest. When Andaren Blackgard opened his borders to the Andals at King Aegon's command, the majority of the wasteland's nobility quickly adopted the dominant Faith of the Seven, including its practices and beliefs. Even in the present day, the Faith of the Seven stays ever so strong in the wastelands and the "old way" of worshipping the Old Gods are considered a religion only the "low-bloods" adhere to, even the ancient rituals of sacrificing animals to Barran the Exalted have become forbidden and taboo. However, as stubborn as the bordermen are, most clan-based bordermen still worship Barran and the other Old Gods, while the ruling high lords pay loyalty to the Seven and its clergy.

Bordermen religion is traditionally shamanistic. Seers and wood-dancers hold considerable influence in bordermen society and in ancient days shamans from the Hahnuiel held power equal to kings.

Society and culture

See also: High-blood and Low-blood
Bordercamp

Bordermen architecture

Bordermen are ranked in two different castes. The upper class, feudal Bordermen live in great keeps, belong to noble houses and are raised in the Andal lifestyle. The lower class, clan-based bordermen live in camps, tribes, caves and still use the "old ways". The feudal-based bordermen are called "Loksos" meaning: "High blood", due to their ancestry to Asterion the Black. The clan-based bordermen are called "Lumsos", meaning "Low blood", due to them having no connection to Asterion whatsoever.

The official language of the bordermen is Wastelandic. An ancient, rune-based dialect of the Old Tongue. Although the dominant language in the Borderlands in the present day is the Common Tongue, some bordermen still use this ancient language.

Hardy and reclusive rock-dwellers, the bordermen are derisively referred to by outsiders as "rock demons" and "stone-eaters". Most bordermen are poor, mostly subsisting on wasteland cats. By the standards of some of their neighbors their culture is somewhat primitive, they are woodcrafty, with great knowledge of their terrain as well as of poisons made by local plants and animals in the northern parts of the wasteland, which they often coat their weapons with.

Feudal-based bordermen often possess "Border Names". These are names which they receive simultaneously with their birth name. For example, Trevyr Blackgard's name given at his birth is "Trevyr". His "borderman name", however, is "Strunvahlok".

The clan-based bordermen mummify their dead through the use of ancient rituals. The bordermen are believed to be the only culture who practice mummification.

Because of their innate isolation, bordermen, especially the more traditionalist ones, tend to have somewhat of a resentment towards outsiders. As a result, the bordermen have come to develop some derogatory terms to those not born in the Borderlands. A few of the most common ethnic slurs directed towards outsiders are "outlander", "tir" (outsider), and "Vorey-gein" (other-ones, other-folk).

Clans

At the time of the War of the Five Kings the non-feudal bordermen are divided in 90 different clans or tribes, some of which have been bitter enemies with each other. Normally they are politically divided, but were united under the Warden of the Borderlands for the common goal of survival.

Some of these groups are socially and culturally very different. While many do understand the Common Tongue of the Andals, according to Trevyr the clans of the Borderlands speak seven different languages (including the Common Tongue; otherwise they speak Wastelandic, and its several variants).

Some of these clans or groups include:

  • Numerous clans from the Vyrst Mountains.
    • The Adar, who dwell in the caves of the Vyrsts, who know how to forge steel and engage in ritual cannibalism and ritualistic torture.
    • The Mor Khazgur, who dwell in the Vyrsts, known for their excellent knowledge of poisons and herbs.
  • The raider tribes.

Prominent Bordermen

Image gallery


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