For my cultural anthropology class, I was asked to create five cultures based on the five adaptations a culture can have in terms of gathering food.
For the foraging culture (hunters and gathers), I created the Lerofa, the descendants of an ancient empire of elves which collapsed some centuries ago, who now practice hunting and gathering in the woods with the aid of enchanted women known as the Delia.
The prose is written from the perspective of Leondero the Recorder, a character who collects and documents the details and people of all the worlds I’ve created (who may or may not have a copper metalmind for my fellow Sanderson fans out there).
When I first arrived in Landia, I found myself in the Forests of Eleredel. It was there I found the Lerofa. From what I gathered, the Lerofa descended from the ancient elves that fled southward following the collapse of their civilization. They even inherited the sacred arts from the ancestors.
However, it has severely diluted, and now only one in every fifty women are capable of harnessing it. And among these women, these Delia, they are only able to tap into the Aetheric Flow to track it. They can’t do the things I’ve heard the ancient elves could do, making food grow or controlling the flow of water.
Though the power is weak, the Delia are the center of everything in Lerofa culture. Through deep concentration, A Delia can find basins of clean water, locations where berries and fruit grow in plenty, and where wild beasts gather and hunt. They can sense what plants are poisonous, for the Flow is weaker around them, and they can even count down the size of the herd and differentiate between male, female and calf.
The Lerofa do not fully understand how this works, and most don’t care to ask. For them, it is enough to believe that the Delia have a spiritual connection to the land, and with it they are able to follow the spirits to hunt and gather food.
Their lives center on the Delia. Because of this, most Lerofa bands are highly logistic. They set up camp where the Aetheric Flow is strongest. I spent most of my time with the Relion, a band of about fifty-two. Big for their standards, and they can only afford to have that many because they have their band has two Delia.
The Delia are not pampered goddess in their culture. They work just as hard as anyone else to keep the band going. They also play an integral role in hunting. The men agreed to let me tag along with them on a hunt “So long as you pull your own weight”, they told me. I was a bit astonish to find the younger Delia accompanying us on the hunt.
In hindsight, it made perfect sense to bring. It’d do little good to use a Delia to locate a band, then arrive to find that the herd had moved on. With her acting as our eyes, we followed the invisible trail that led us directly to the stag. But, when it was time to take down the animal, the Delia stayed back, allowing to men to enter the heat of battle.
Now, as I shall do every entry, I’ll take time to go over the nine key traits to help better graph out their culture.
- Division of Labor – The Lerofa carry their own weight, but there are ideal roles each gender plays. Men go out hunting, women gather, and Delia do both. Whenever there is a hunt, a Delia is always present.
- Territory – When the band moves, it is the Delia who directs where. By tapping into the Flow, which the Delia describe to be like a windy path, they are able to follow it and find the next place where their band camps next. Rarely do bands cross paths, for each Delia seems to follow their own unique path.
- Kinship – I said rarely before because there are times when bands do meet, and when they do, it is brought about with celebration and marriage. In Lerofa culture, men leave their families to join the woman’s family. Since any woman has the chance to become a Delia, a band cannot afford to lose any daughters they have. Men spend most of their time with their sister band during these meet ups, working to prove they have a place in their band. The hope of every man is to marry a Delia and be part of her family. However, even if they marry and their wife becomes a Delia, that man cannot keep her for himself. Because Delia are more likely to come from the daughters of Delia, they are expected to take on several husbands to help get a wide variety of seed to produce a new Delia. This also makes Delia daughters more desirable.
- Conflict Resolution – Conflict is avoided, but when it effects the band it’s the responsibility of the eldest Delia to handle it. It is often blamed that people become enraged by spirits of the
- Equality – Women often take headship over men in Lerofa culture. The first fruits of every hunt go to the Delia and her family (hence the desire to be her husband), then the hunter’s family who took down the beast, then the other members of the hunt, the remnants go to everyone else.
- Religion – The Lerofa worship the Spirits of the Path. The Spirits guide the Delia down the road, allowing them to sense and track down the food. When two bands meet, it is a blessing from the spirits which permits the Lerofa to grow and prosper. Each band has their own personal Spiritual Guide which guides their Delia. The Reolin hold the hawk spirit, Reol.
- Sustainability – Because of the Delia, the Lerofa can travel wider ranges to find food knowing they will be guided well. However, the bands have a heavy dependency on the Should their Delia pass away—or she is kidnapped—the band is not trained to sustain itself and it is likely to break apart. Every Lerofa fears the day they lose their Delia and there is no one left to replace her.
- Security – The Lerofa are nutritionally well rounded and are secure as it comes to chronic illness. Also, Delia can sense when nature is upheaved, allowing the bands to take proper precautions to weather out storms.
- External Conflict – The Lerofa are cautious of outsiders. Even between bands, unless the paths bring them together, they avoid each other. I was only able to find the Relion by sheer determination, a few dodged arrows, and healthy offering from the pointy end of a spear. Their fear spawns from the Leigru, Lerofa maddened by Arigru after losing their Delia, and their willingness to butcher everyone in order to obtain a new one. Following the destruction of a Leigru band, the Lerofa that brought them time give a time of silence to honor their deaths and pray they have peace beyond this world.
Shoot me a message if you like what you see and would like to make use of the Lerofa in your own writing.