Upon his stool he sat like a mountain, weathered, timeworn, and permanent. The rolling foothill of his belly met the sheer rise of his chest, where the dense forest of his beard climbed to meet the moustache which bristled below his craggy nose. The nose sat prominent from the worn creases and the puckered scars on his cheeks and around his eyes, telling of battles long ago and distant in memory. Above that, greyed hair swept across his head, resembling clouds and fog more than the flowing locks of his youth. Honr gazed across the fire, his face crossed by seemingly bottomless ravines lost in shadow and time. The children of clan Host had gathered to listen to the wizened skrifari and learn the ways of the world, which meant learning the laws by which the clans lived. The young faces glowed in the light, slick with the sweat of an oppressive midsummer evening and a hard day’s work at the Summer Thing. The old man approved of the number of children, as it was a sign that the clan was thriving, and many of them would become important warriors, merchants and artisans in the years to come.
Honr’s voice thundered from his bushy beard, “It is time to learn of your birthright and your responsibility to your people, to learn of the laws that enable our survival in this harsh world that would as soon devour us and leave no trace as it would nurture us. Listen carefully, for these laws bind every one of us to each other.” He lifted the drinking horn in his hand and took a deep draught of mead, preparing to impart the wisdom he began to learn at their age.
“The first law,” he began as he lowered the horn, droplets of mead spraying from his moustache in a mist, “is that of Discipline. We are responsible to our Clan, our families, and most importantly to our community. We are the links in the chain that make the survival of our people possible and do not squander their lives by shirking our duty. We are responsible for ensuring that we do no more harm than necessary to our hunting grounds, or our enemies. We limit this, for without such restraint our enemies would show us similar mercilessness. We choose prisoners over slaying our enemies, for they are valuable as we are valuable to our own community. We stand our guard alertly and do as we are bidden, for we could be overrun if one guard is asleep at his post. We hunt successfully and with skill, or our families would starve. We deal with our quarrels by the old ways, so that no widows or orphans starve in the Winters.” He looked at the eyes watching him intently, seeing that they understood. “We learn the laws so that we may know them and pass them to our kin.”
“The second law is Honor. Our Word is our bond. We do not take oaths lightly, or without thinking them through, for we are bound to carry them out lest we dishonor all that have come before us by breaking the troth we have undertaken. Our Norns would not heed our calls for guidance in our time of need if we have dishonored their memories, our family would be forced to turn us away, for if we could not be trusted in our oath, we could not be trusted to perform our duties properly. An oathbreaker’s life is hard and to regain one’s honor is said to be the hardest task imaginable. Truly, some oaths when broken require a mandate from the Gods to redeem and even then, the tarnish remains. Breaking your word is akin to slaying your parents and their parents.” He paused long enough to let the lesson sink in, and as it was a harsh one, most of the children looked very grave, thinking to the times that they fibbed or played fey with one another or a parent. This was expected, but most of them would take this lesson to heart immediately, while it would take others longer to comprehend it.
Honr started again, “Do any of you know what the third law is?” he asked with a patient tone. A small voice on the other side of the fire blurted out “Hospitality!” Honr smiled at the boy, “That is correct, young one. Can you tell me why it is important to us?” The boy thought for a second, “Because people come a very long way to your home and they may need rest and food.” The boy beamed across the fire at Honr, satisfied with his answer. Honr nodded, “That is very true, but Hospitality is more than just food