The River King is also known as the Serpent King. The Serpent Banner is feared along this winding river, home to countless hundreds of thousands, and a source of many countless wars since first settled in ancients times. For there is wealth in its bountiful and life-giving waters that extend from mountain through to estuary and finally into the sea.
The Blessing, or Serpents Kiss, is an honour afforded annually to a select few. Usually nominations are made and from these nominations, three are selected. Or “chosen”. Each undergoes the same three tests – Ordeal by Water, Ordeal by Wisdom, Ordeal by Prayer.
Ordeal by Water – swim a pool full of water snakes.
Ordeal by Wisdom – navigate a landscape filled with venomous snakes.
Ordeal by Prayer – survive a night in a cave full of snakes.
In previous times, when the River Kingdom was vying for dominance and prominence among the many ancient territories, The Blessing was undertaken by only the strongest, the most skilled, and the smartest of candidates. If there was more than one survivor after successfully passing through all three Ordeals, then it was determined in a trial of arms – combat to the death.
In the time of Haidley, however, the Blessing was still relevant but it was now seen more as an important ceremonial function that celebrated the fortunes and opportunities for the upcoming year. One representative from each of the social stratum met to perform the Ordeals, that were now stylised. No actual serpents were used as most had already been driven out of the territory to make way for progress.
The Blessing was an annual event that saw the winner/victor afforded the honorific of Serpents Kiss. The title also carried mostly ceremonial duties but received a stipend from the realm of the individual’s weight in coinage from the realm’s vast treasury every quarterly with each quarter’s quality improving from copper to brass to silver to gold. The bearer also was exempt the King’s Tax for the entire year.
© 2017 L. Tafa