Tribes of Blackwood: Red-Dream People

Author: Emmanubeth Hurrent

While many Argonians shun stone dwellings, border tribes are often less rigid in their beliefs. One can't travel far in Blackwood without encountering an ancient ruin of some variety, and these ruins can provide sturdy, defensible housing—no small thing in a land as inhospitable and war torn as this one.

We met several tribes who dwelt in and around sunken xanmeers, and even a few who took refuge in old Ayleid settlements. Take the Red-Dream People for instance. While their "Flood Homes" are built in the traditional Argonian style, they often retreat to nearby Ayleid and Argonian ruins in dry times. (Like most settlements in Blackwood, these ruins are underwater for significant periods of the year, and thus unsuitable for long term habitation.)

During the dry times, the Hutsleel partake in sap rituals to "learn the songs" of the ruins. Outsiders might interpret this as an unconventional form of archaeology. They spend long hours searching the ruins for objects of historical value—chipped cups, broken weapons, and so on. Once they have gathered enough, they sprinkle ash over the objects, drink some strange sap-brew, and "dream" over the objects to learn their stories. From what I could ascertain, most of these stories were either apocryphal or so thoroughly shrouded in metaphor that they could hardly be used in a scholarly journal. Even so, the tales are evocative, and bring the tribe a valuable sense of place. Their root-herald, Luh-Nei, described it as "harvesting"—a practice not unlike hunting or farming. Once the ritual is complete, the would-be historians take their finds home and incorporate them into daily life in creative ways. Hutsleel farmers might convert a sword to a plow-blade. Chefs might convert ancient Ayleid cups into flower pots. It's a lovely display of ingenuity that could only exist here in Black Marsh.

Scroll to Top