Salem Jade Regent
Blood Feud: The culturally- and legally-sanctioned enactment of vengeance on a wrongdoer. Generally results in a cycle of retaliatory violence. Kalsgard’s king requires aggrieved parties to wait one week “for their blood to cool” before initiating a feud.
Freeman: A free person, often a farmer. Sometimes called a carl. Unlike some other feudal societies, Ulfen farmers are truly free, owning their farmland without obligation to any noble.
Funeral: Ulfen observe a wide variety of funeral customs. Those coming from a coastal heritage are often cremated aboard a funeral ship. Those whose ancestors came from inland areas are sometimes cremated on a pyre inside a circle of stones (a symbolic ship). Some are buried in cairns or mounds. Rich folk are sometimes buried in fully-stocked wagons. Ulfen from swampy areas are sometimes buried in peat bogs. It is said that in the distant past, funeral offerings included the sacrifice of servants who would attend the deceased in the afterlife, but this is not known to have occurred recently.
Housecarl: A member of a noble or king’s bodyguard, or an elite warrior who serves a noble or king.
Hue and Cry: Under Kalsgard law, every adult citizen is obligated to assist in the capture of a criminal when the victim of the crime blows a horn or raises a cry.
Lawspeaker: A leader of a thing, generally elected by the thing itself.
Linnorm King: The ruler of an Ulfen city-state. To claim the title, a prospective king must slay a Linnorm (a type of fey dragon) in single combat, ensuring that only mighty warriors become kings. In theory, Linnorm Kings have complete authority over their subjects. In practice, a complex set of customs and traditions restrains their actions. Both male and female rulers are called Linnorm Kings.
Mead: A delicious alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. Usually about as strong as wine made from grapes.
Noble: Ulfen use a variety of noble titles including chieftain, jarl, freiherr, hirdman, and so on. Nobles are sometimes called ring-givers because they are expected to dole out the spoils of war or raiding to their thanes, rather than hording it all themselves.
Outlaw: The king can outlaw those convicted of serious crimes, such as betraying an oath to a liege-lord or showing cowardice that leads to the death of allies. An outlaw is literally outside the protection of the law. Outlaws are banished from civilized society and can legally be killed on sight.
Thane: A free person, often a warrior, who serves a noble or king. Also seen as weaponthane, which just means a thane who bears weapons.
Thing: A public assembly called to resolve disputes or elect an officeholder.
Thrall: A serf or slave. Thralls have almost no legal rights and their treatment depends on their master. However, thralls can own property (and even buy their freedom) and are often freed by their masters or in wills. Hereditary slavery is not common. Thralls are given a weregild and thus there are financial consequences for unlawfully killing or injuring one. The king can sentence criminals to thralldom if they are unwilling to pay weregild.
Viking: A noun whose meaning depends on the context. It can mean either a raiding expedition (e.g. “The warriors are going on a viking and will bring back loot.”) or the warriors who go on such expeditions (e.g. “The raiders are Ulfen vikings from the north!”). The Ulfen are not as inclined to raiding as they once were and in modern times their expeditions usually involve more trading than fighting.
Weregild: Value placed on a piece of property or person, which can be paid as restitution if property is stolen or a person is injured or killed. The payment of weregild prevents a blood feud.