Archive | June 2014

Eleanor’s Journal 74: The depths of Eric’s past… from Norseland, to Vampyres and Romans

Before you start on this episode, you may want to get your drinks and your munchies… it is a quite lengthy post! Also, there are limited illustrations in this episode. The far ancient past was a bit too difficult to attempt with any good quality so I chose to leave it as is with just the text to carry it. You may also want to refresh yourself with the details of some previous posts to aid in some understanding of Eric’s deepest past!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/from-the-creator-some-history-of-clans-in-scotland/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

 

Now on to the story!

Screenshot-4 Judith Self

Eric shook the thoughts of Judith out of his head for the moment. In his mind, she was his future and he would have no need to sit in the dark and relive his moments with her. He was determined that he would find her safe, and that things would work out with her. What he needed to do for now was clear his head of the other memories that made up his past. If he were to have a future worth living with Judith, he must sort through the mess of his long and turbulent life, put it all into perspective, truly learn from the mistakes and not be guided by the emotions that always had a way of attaching to memories. Eric reminded himself that those events of his past were neither good nor bad, they were all merely lessons that everyone must learn. Some such as mortal humans learned them over a series of lives and deaths, while others such him now, learned them all in one long life time.

Screenshot-15

Eric had spent an evening with Brennie and Svein, honoring their most ancient traditions and beliefs. Even though he had never been such a profound or firm believer in those things, he still held on to the traditions and the rituals for the peace it gave him. The Summer Solstice was one of those most sacred and spiritual times for many beliefs. It was one of those time when many believed that magic and miracles were at their strongest. When the veils between time and worlds were at their thinnest, and when those on other sides- whether it be Gods or simply those in other dimensions could hear and feel each other more intensely. It was often said that if one offered prayers, blessings or beseechings at these times, they would be heard and answered from beyond. He wasn’t sure of that but was well willing to take the chance if someone could hear their requests and help them on their mission to find Judith.

Screenshot-2 (4)

Later after it was over, he had went to his own place of private prayer and offered his thoughts and his blessings to the one whom he missed so much. He had built this small memorial to her on the place where she had died so many centuries ago, and added one here at Dunvegan as well. While he had built with the outward appearance of honoring the Dunvegan legend of the Fairies, in his heart, he knew that it was in tribute to that one he had called a true friend. He often spent time alone with her in these places. Many times he could feel her presence with him, reaching out to him from that other place where she dwelled now. For a long time after her death, he had felt nothing but raw and grating pain, he had heard moans of terror and grief, keenings of hurt and wandering through darkness. At some point it had settled to a fog of uncertainty and not caring… But, lately it had become more intense again in it’s searching. It felt as if she were re-awakening on some level and trying to find her bearings. This night, he felt her reaching out desperately, and he heard in some faint tunnel of whirling sounds and waves, her voice calling. He thought he heard his own name, as well as others. He could not trust that it wasn’t just his wishful thinking and his own desperation that played tricks on his mind though because he thought he felt Judith and someone else in that mist as well?

Guinivere1   guinivere's arrival

Usually after some time spent here, he was more at peace with the world. Tonight, though he left with his heart and his soul in even more turmoil than it was when he began the evening. He wandered back up to the Castle and locked himself in the upstairs private library and museum that held so many of their most valued artifacts from the ancient past. Surrounded by these material remains of history, he poured himself a highly prized, very rare Whiskey and settled in front of the fire to recall his life in detail. He kept the bottle close at hand, knew well that it would take some long time and much of this strong fortifier to get through it.

The deepest depths of Eric’s memories

He took his thoughts back to the very beginnings… he intended to work his way straight through and come out on this end with a firmer grasp on his emotions. His intent was to work through it, honor it, grieve it, forgive himself and others for the wrongdoings, and then say Good Bye to much of it. His own private wake for his life was how he looked at this, and a celebration of a new journey upon which he would then embark.

           His earliest memories were few. He remembered little of the time spent in that other North land of his earliest ancestors, other than the leaving of it on that earliest voyage across the sea. His Father, a large and loud hulk of a man with wild blonde hair and the palest, faded blue eyes-possibly from staring out at the skies and the sun from his ships much of the time. His Mother, almost as tall as his Father, yet slimmer and a bit more refined in her looks but no less imposing. She was quieter, more thoughtful than his Father equally as strong and determined. She had a regal and royal bearing to her which never left. It had been his Mother’s line from whence their status came and she quite often took pains to remind her husband of it. While his Father was the brute force and strength that people looked at and feared immediately, his Mother was the one who held the calm, and if need be cold reserve that would hold one’s fear and respect even longer after a punishment meated out by her husband.

           She was a queen in her own right and never should any forget that, she vowed to her husband as they embarked on this journey to a new settlement in a far away place. His Father, Eirkr, whom he was named after, being the eldest son, was a great warrior and Chieftan in that North land but was choosing instead to follow his brother, Svein to this new place of peace and plenty. His Mother, Asdis, an honored and well revered Queen of one of those North places had made choice to align her tribe with that of Eirkr’s in a treaty of peace. She had gifted herself to Eirkr as wife and thereby stopped much of the warring, at least between their two lands. The rest of the wars continued however and there were constant battles for land and power among the various tribes of those lands. As their populations increased, the land became less able to sustain them all equally. The wars for limited resources became more violent and deadly.

            Eric remembered little of that, save what others told him in stories, and in their move this new land, those stories became of less importance or value. Eirkr’s brother Svein was a younger brother who must seek out his own destiny and he had chosen to seek it on the seas, traveling to far distant realms and returning with stories of vast oceans full of fish, of lands plentiful for those who would dare to claim it, and of places filled with magic and mysteries. He told of other peoples there who held secrets of the world and of life. On those visits, he would sit with them in the fire lit lodge and fill them with stories, some meant to scare and others meant to provide a smile and a dream or two of those far off places.  Eric’s Mother, Asdis, was a healer and mystical woman herself and she would badger Svein for more details of these places until he would wave his arms in defeat, “Ach, I’ve no more to tell ya, unless ya want to be makin it up, or ya want to get on a boat and join me there!”

             Asdis and Eirkr were adventurers and sea goers. They were also practical ones who knew that they could not hold off invasions of their lands indefinitely. They had discussed it long and hard for months, swaying back and forth on their options. Finally, they had come to a decision. They would leave their lands of that North place in search of a new destiny with Svein. The choice had been left to their people whether to go or stay put. Asdis had turned her power and her crown over to her younger brother. She would step down as leader of that group and then swore her fielty and allegiance  to her husband and his people. Previous to this, they had managed to rule together but separately their two groups. In accordance with their traditions, she had retained her role as ruler and Queen of her people while her marriage was looked at in a separate fashion. Now, she gave the role of Queen and stepped into the role of wife to a King. In their culture this was a very different thing… there was no such role at that time as Queen consort. One was either a Queen in her own right and ruler of her people, or one was a mate of a King, with much less standing, influence or power. Twas a difficult choice she made, and oft ground her teeth over in later times. She did however, adapt to the role in as much as she was able… and while no longer a Queen in that sense, she did wield power as the Mother of future rulers… which Eric was destined to be.

            Eirkr and Svein agreed to be co-rulers of their group in the new land. Months of preparations had finally found them all setting forth on that voyage across the North Sea to the place which Svein called Hjaltland.  Eventually, they had migrated farther south to the place they referred to as the Isle of Skuy and made their settlement there.

map of Scotland with Shetland islands and Isle of Skye

             Those earliest years had been a struggle for survival as they learned to carve out a new life in this much different place. It was indeed a place of strangeness and mystery but one thing it was not in that beginning time, was a place of such violent battles for land. There were already peoples living there, but like the Norse settlers, they were struggling to survive. It was not a land for the weak willed in any way. Here the battles were not so much with each other over limited territories, but with the sheer forces of an untamed wilderness and the rages of the natural environment. They learned together, the Norse settlers and those earliest of inhabitant of the area, the Picts. There were others there too, ones who had been there fighting just as long, or longer… the small groups of Fairie peoples deep within the forests and those other wanderers, Vampyres. Those two groups mostly kept to themselves in their own small communities but it was more due to a matter of comfort in residing with those of one’s own kind than anything else back then. There was no resentment or fear of others, unless they should bring it upon themselves by some action or behavior on their own part.

Old Celtic tribes of southern scotland and north east England

             No, back in that earliest time, they had all eeked out an existance together in that land. Eric’s family Clan had settled this piece of land near the sea and had been there ever since. He had grown to his young manhood there, working along side his Father, his uncle, his younger brothers and cousins to build a life for themselves. They had done well in that respect, traveling the seas, trading with the Picts, the Fairies and the few Vampyres there to forge a well knit community. Their peoples had mated to each other, new ties and new bloodlines. Eric remembered fondly his uncle Svein’s uniting with the young Vampyre, Gisella. It had been an arranged mating, as so many often were back in those ages, but they had been happy with it. Svein had come to love her most dearly and eventually turned to the Vampyre bloodline himself. He had done it willingly out of his love for that woman. Svein’s mating and turning had more sealed their bonds with that small Vampyre Clan and eventually they had easily blended into one larger clan rather than two separate ones. Other matings had blended them with the Fairies of that land, of the Picts as well. Their life had been hard but well satisfying and over all peaceful other than small skirmishes between clan members. Those small battles and disagreements were to be expected among any groups living in close proximity to each other. The disagreements were usually solved quickly and with limited violence, despite what history might attribute to those times. Eric laughed to himself… what did historians truly know of that time before such detailed and supposedly accurate documented accounts from questionable sources?

             No, life had been good then… until the arrival of the others upon their borders and their soil. The Romans had discovered the lands and the valuable resources of the British isles and set about claiming that land and those resources for their ever expanding empire. What the Romans had not counted on was such resistance from ones that they deemed primitive Barbarians. In those lower regions of the isle, they were more successful in their conquering of the local peoples already there. Despite their best efforts however, they never succeeded in conquering the upper regions of the land. What they did manage for some time though, was to form a tight circle around that area, controlling much of the land and the sea around it. They also brought something else with them on their arrival to those lands, which although unintended and not purposeful, did much to decimate the numbers remaining in the upper lands. Their secret, unknown- even to themselves- weapon was disease. As in the case for many conquerors, diseases and illness, which those conquerors may have built up some resistance to, often did a more thorough job of controlling an opposing force or army than the men themselves could accomplish.

probable Roman defenses

probable Roman defenses

             The inhabitants of that northern region were generally much isolated to themselves and not exposed to the deadly plagues of other populations. As the Romans ventured farther and farther north into their settlements and territories, they brought with them those plagues that swept through their new victims with alarming speed. Many of the Northern clans were wiped out in entirity by an illness or ailment which the Romans may have easily fought off with their increased immunities due to having been exposed to such an illness previously. Along with the threats of illness, there were also climate and weather changes that none could control. In addition, if that were not all bad enough, the increasing population brought by the Romans upon the land caused the lands themselves to be over used and ravaged. So, as the Romans advanced, the land became unusable, people became hungry and desperate.

               It was during those darkest times that history does seldom speak of… for much of the history was documented by the Romans who would not want for themselves to looked on as the blame for any of it, nor did they want to admit that they were often defeated by such small ragged bands of Barbarians who would fight to their death and their extinction before they gave in so willing to the Roman forces. So, the Romans made excuses for their retreating to back behind the walls they created for their defense against such savages that they could not manage to control. In truth, the Roman empire was at that time, beginning to fail as a whole and would soon be defeated by many such numbers of so called savages.

             During some of those bleakest of times before the next dark ages approached, Eric’s family and Clan had faced much of the demise as others. They had joined together with the Picts to fight the legions of Roman Warriors and lost many of their members to those wars. Ones not lost to the horrors of battle were lost to other horrors of plague and starvation.

             Towards the end, there had been little Clan left to lead or to rule. Eric along with most of the other men, and many of the women too had went into battle for their lands, their freedom and their very lives. Most of them lost the battle. He had watched his Father and his younger brothers die in one such battle, still on occasion, would wake to their battle cries and then screams of agony. Eric himself had been gravely wounded in the battle and prayed for death to come to him. Unfortunately, it had not been death to come, but a Roman Warrior wandering the field in search of survivors to take away as prisoners, captives and eventual slaves to the Empire. It was then that Eric had opened his eyes and saw a blurry vague vision of that Warrior kneeling over him. He had prayed even harder for death to come quickly. His Norse and Celtic Gods had not been listening at the time, or so he thought anyway… but perhaps some other God was. That Roman Warrior had been a man by the name of Artorius. Lucius Artorius Castus had been his name back then. He wore on his shield the emblem of a red dragon and he carried such a sword as Eric had never seen before. 

               In his delirium, Eric thought hopefully that the man meant to slay him right then and there. There was no such luck to be with him. The man had though, gently and carefully reached down to touch his face, then his neck and chest, to check for signs of any fading life. Eric had felt the man’s touch, just barely… but it brought to his foggy mind, the touch of his uncle and other Vampyres, who felt so much colder than humans at first touch. Eric had fought to open his eyes once more and look into the man’s eyes. He saw it there, the faintest glimmer of that other blood flowing through him. Eric then fought to leave his life as quickly as possible. He did not want this man claiming his life in any way. If he were going to die, it would be on his own terms, a warrior’s death. He silently battled within his mind to die as that warrior, and not owe his life to any other, especially on such terms as a Vampyre would demand. He knew enough of their ways that they would not touch or revive one already dead and he willed his heart to stop.

              The man sensed his inner battle, his fears and his silent pleadings for death. He had knelt closer and held a steady hand upon Eric’s chest while whispering to him in some voice that reached in to touch his mind. “Do not fear, my warrior. You shall have an honorable death, or not… that is not up to any of us. If your death comes here upon the field then I will give you honor in burial. You have fought with courage and if you should die now, you will go on to your peace and your joy as a warrior to that place you call Valhalla. If death does not take you, I shall determine to save you and give you honor in life.”

             The man, Artorius, had stayed there with him for some time, waited for his death to come. After a few hours, that death had not arrived and the agonies of continued life began to invade Eric’s mind and body. He shook with tremors of pain, and his faintest moans of a life leaving turned to screams of a live remaining. Artorius had leaned over him and shared his thoughts once more. “Enough, now… You have not won your battle with life and death as you desired. If I do not intervene now, you will most likely survive, but not in any manner of which would give you further peace or comfort. If I do not step in, you will surely lose a leg, and a part of your being which I do suspect you are even more fond of than the legs you walk on. You are seriously and greviuosly  injured in a most sensitive part… Our physicians could most likely put you back together, but you should not appreciate the results.” He did not wait for Eric’s answer of approval or agreement, but instead immediately took the necessary steps to turn Eric.

              Even with the turning of him, it still took many weeks for his body and his mind to come close to recovering from all of that which had taken place. He remembered little of it other than being carried back to one of the forts on Hadrian’s wall upon the back of the man’s enormous black war horse. He had been cared for by the man’s personal servants and physicians. Lingering for much of that time in a state of half sleep induced by many potions forced down him by those physicians , he had still wished for death to over take him. Artorius had visited often and calmy entered his troubled mind to still those thoughts. “It was not your destiny to die then, or now. You are a fine and honorable warrior and man. The Gods have some other destiny in store for you and you must accept it and go on with your life such as it is now.”

              Artorius had addressed his other thoughts as well. “You are not a slave, You will never be one to anyone, to the Roman Empire nor to me either. For one thing, you would be worthless any sort of slave…It would take more energy, effort and will power than I or anyone else for that matter has to make it worth while to even attempt such a feat! On a second note, I did not save your life for the reason of binding you to me or my kind.” He continued to delve into Eric’s most private thoughts. “I know that you are well familiar with the Vampyre blood and of their rules and traditions. I will settle some this fear for you now.”

              The man had left for a time and returned with a few others. They were dressed richly in Roman wear with fine robes trimmed in fur covering them. Two of them stepped forward, close to him and stood silent with their hands clasped together. They were older, a man and a woman, obviously of some very high status in Roman, or any other terms. They wered adorned with jeweled neckplates, arm bracelets and rings. They stood there regally and their bearing reminded Eric of his Mother when she took on her Queen stance. He also noticed dimly  that they were both of Vampyre blood.

              Artorius spoke softly to them, they nodded and motioned to a younger man, some sort of scribe, he must be… to step forward with them. He held a scroll and some sort of quill, and knelt to make himself comfortable as he prepared to write upon the scroll. Artorius returned his attentions to Eric and spoke in formal tone. “Eric of the Northland, I hereby to release you from any blood bound ties that may connect you now to my line. Your life and your blood are yours to do with on your own as you see fit in this the remainder of your now eternal life. You owe me nothing in return for the lifeblood I gave you, save respect and honor for that doing. I make it known to all that I gave you life in honor as I would have given you burial in honor. What I expect in return from you is only honor in all things you continue on with in your life. I will provide you with sustinance and guidance in this new life and expect nothing other than honor in return for that. You fought with honor and bravery in battle and met your demise with the same honor.” He went for some time longer outlining the details of his vow and his agreements for Eric’s future but Eric by then, lost some conciousness again and could not well follow the remainder of it. What he did realize was that this man was officially releasing him from any Vampyre blood ties along with any servitude ties to the Roman Empire.

              This man, Artorius was releasing him from any servitude to the Roman empire and giving him his freedom to return to his people and his home with one final condition, though. Should he caught in any future battle with the Romans, there was no gaurantee on what should happen to him. He would not receive help or assistance from Artorius and his Vampyre bloodline, where by if he had been bound to them by blood, they might have been able to make some sort of agreement. Should he return to his home and then decide to make some other choice, he was free to return to Artorius as a free man and pledge his alliances and alliegance to the man personally, if not the entire Roman Empire. He thought this rather odd that the man should make this offer to him but in his weakened state, he had not dwelled on it.

              His weeks of recovery had turned to some long months of training and guidance from Artorius, who took his vows quite seriously. He had vowed to train Eric in the Vampyre ways in order for him to survive on his own if that would be the need or the choice in his future. The training was long, involved and ensured that he would be a honorable warrior not just as in the human sense, but in the Vampyre way as well. During this time, Artorius had sent out his scouts into those highlands and outer isles in search of Eric’s family and clan, or what ever was left of them. The news was grim. Few of his clan remained, save Svein and a few others. Svein and a few of the other Vampyre bloods had most likely survived due to their Vampyre blood, but even that had not been a certainty. There were plagues that affected even the Vampyres and the Fairies.

              On one evening after the return of his scouts, Artorius felt compelled to sit down with Eric and share the gruesome details with him. There was nothing much to return there for it seemed but he was quite sure that the young man would feel honor bound to return to what ever was left up there. He needed to know ahead of time what he would face upon that return.

              Eric’s Father and brothers had died in the battle, he was well aware of that much. What he did not know of was what Svein had found on his return to their home in the north, nor of course, the current condition that Svein was in up there. Svein had lead the few survivors of the battle who managed to escape back to their home. He had found it ravaged and burnt to the ground with everything in a near vicinity to it destroyed and turned to a wasteland… They had lived near the sea on a well placed, or so they thought, piece of land that gave them easy access to that sea. The Roman legions that swept over those seas surrounding the northern places had come down so far as their safe place and decimated everything within their reach. There had been few left in that place they assumed safe do any real battle with the Romans. The ones who attempted it were quickly taken down. Others, such as young children and women had been taken as captives bound for a life of Roman slavery or death. Yet others, who they deemed unfit for servitude were not killed outright, they were simply left to die there on their own, or live as testimony to what the Romans were capable of. Eric held his head in his hand so as not to show such grief and tears in front of Artorius.

              Svein was there now, and had been so consumed by his rage and grief that he seemed to live in some violent world of his own creation. His beloved wife, Gisella had not followed them into battle because at the time she was great with child. Eric’s Mother, Asdis and a few other women had remained behind with her to assist her, along with the younger children, and some of the elders too weak for battle. The sickness had come to them and taken many, among them his Mother, who had been caring for those who were ill. Gisella had taken ill as well, but with her Vampyre blood, she had survived longer. In the end, she most likely wished that she had died earlier with others. As the Romans arrived, she was close to her time and could do little to defend others or herself. She was gravely ill as well as being so near to delivering her child and she was one whom the Romans had determined was little use to them, other than as a form depraved entertainment to some of the warriors. Uncaring of her illness, her advanced state of pregnancy, or for that matter her more sensitive to daylight Vampyre blood, they had used her viciously, repeatedly, and laughed at her dying screams in the brightest of daylight. The last man to use her dropped her casually in the dirt when the life finally left her body, and that of the unborn son within her.

              On returning to the wreckage of their home, Svein had found her skin burnt body, with what was left of her features still seeming to be wracked in some stone like eternal cry of such pain that it could still be felt by any who might come near. His ears were filled with those screams, along with the echoes and traces of so many others. The few others who survived had only managed to do so by fleeing to the wilds of the forested areas and they were too frightened to return to the place they had once called home. Svein had held on to his sanity long enough to bury his wife’s body and those of others who had been slain. He had carried on long enough to put the place to some sort of livable rights for a time and search for the remaining survivors in order to determine what had happened. He could not convince any of them to remain there, he did not expect them to… but he remained, refused to leave the place and then went much mad with his grief and his rage at all Romans.

              Eric’s younger sisters and some of his female cousins had been taken away with the Romans to parts unknown. The only thing that held Svein in any sane mind at times was the thought of his own daughter and his nieces out there somewhere in the hands of the Romans. On hearing of his sisters’ plight, Eric’s grief too, turned to rage and to a determination to find them all, to bring them home.

 

From the creator: Concerns about Sims4

         If you read my home/about page, you will see that I use the Sims3 game for my story illustrations, scenes and character creation.  At times, I even occasionally play the game! I have been a simmer since the first Sims 1 game came out. Of course back then, I played more than created. Over the years, as the game progressed and improved I became much more than just an addicted game player. The game’s evolution allowed me to use it in a much more creative way beyond just picking a character and playing through the game.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/

I have seen the game go from a somewhat silly little cartoony type game to a full scale creative platform that involves everything from the basics of game play and simple style creations with the addition of the color and pattern designer included in sims3, to realistic  sim character creating, on to the highly detailed and sometimes complex building and world editing available in the game. In addition to those things, there is the even more creative outlet of world creation and custom content. It is so much more than just a game to a great many creative people who use all of the tools as outlets and starting points for their vast and seemingly unlimited talents. I have met so many of these talented people through out the years on the official Sims3 site, on the fan sites, and on the Facebook pages dedicated to the game.  As I said, it goes far beyond just a simple game for most of us.

With the upcoming release of the new Sims4 game, I feel the need to address my ongoing concerns about it, and about EA’s treatment of it and of us- some of their most devoted fans and customers. As many of us will readily agree, there have been a huge number of issues surrounding the sims3 game and it’s playability. Yes, we complained about it a great deal, often became frustrated to the point of giving up on it, and then found our own ways of working around those problems to make the game workable for us. We worked together as users to solve the problems because most of the time EA was unwilling or unable to correct the problems. We banded together into a network of creative artists and stuck it out because of our love of the platform that the game gave us to create from.

When news of Sims4 started leaking out, we were all excited about the next level that the game might take us to. We have all seen the progress and evolution of the game and were expecting that the next stage would take us to an even greater level of creativity. During recent weeks, however, as EA has presented us all with the facts regarding the newest game platform, most of us are becoming concerned and disappointed in the direction the game is going. Rather than taking us to a higher level of creativity, it seems that EA has chosen to go backwards instead of forward with the game. Instead of addressing some of the current game issues and coming up with solutions to them in the next stage of the game, it appears that EA has merely chosen to do away with many of the things that they think might have been problems? In fact, it would appear from the most recent facts that they have released, they have decided to go back to a simpler, cartoon like format of basic game play.  The cartoon aspect is quite apparent with the promotional videos and screen shots they have released of the sim characters and the buildings.

EA is attempting to promote the game advancements in the area of sim creation, going into great detail about how much more creativity there is in that creation, and about their new system of creating the sims. One would think that if that was what they were promoting, they would give us better demonstrations and photos of the results. Not so… from what I have seen, the characters are far from more creative or realistic. They resemble more, the sim characters of sims2. Along with that, the process of creating them does look easier, in fact it looks to be much more of an involved and difficult process for most people to become proficient at. In addition to that, they have taken away some important details from the character creation. In the current and previous games, teens were slightly shorter than adults. This made it a bit easier to differentiate them in the game. Now, it seems that teens will be the same height as adults. I am assuming this is a way to avoid having to create separate clothing options for them. This was long a complaint from users, the lack of clothing options for teen sims. It would have been a more basic and simple solution to just offer more clothing options and varieties for teens! We would have happily purchased them from the store if they had made them available.  Lord knows, we have spent more than enough cash on other items from the official EA store for on any number of other items they offered.  Another odd deletion on their part, is a more recent leak about toddlers, and either not being used or not being aged up. There is not enough clear information on this speculation for me to make an adequate or reliable comment on it so I will not deal with that here.

Most of the concerns of creators and story tellers involve the world editing, limits and the building limitations that are now coming out surrounding the game. There are so many concerns over these limits and deletions that I can not even begin to list them all here. What I can give you are some links to Facebook discussions and EA Sims forum threads devoted to all of our concerns.

             I am listing a number of various links to information and posts concerning the upcoming Sims4

This is one of the official blog posts offered by EA

http://www.thesims.com/news/neighborhoods-weird-moments-and-more

 

Here is an official photo of the Sims 4… showing no toddler sim?!

sims 4 photo

 

From what I can gather right now, it appears that EA and maxis (the original creative team for sims and sims 2- and of whom we had such high hopes from 😦  ) have taken the game in a much more limiting and backwards direction than any of us could have imagined. The announcement that there are no pools with the basic game was one of the most extreme and oddest deletions ever! Even with the sims 1, swimming pools were available from the start, and were a huge part of game play and story telling. One of the oddest things for me to comprehend or understand their reasonings on this deletions is the fact that while they are not offering swimming pools, they are offering a build mode for fountain creations, which in essence are on the same level as pool creating. So, why on earth would you choose to offer us the creation of a fountain but not the creation of a swimming pool? My only conclusion is that the fountains are décor related and contain no real sim interaction so they were lazy in some way or another and did not want to spend time on creating the sim interactions and functions that go into the pool creation?!

 

Create a Style Concerns

As I’ve previously mentioned, there are so many limits and constraints to this new version of the game that I am not even going to go attempt to list all of them other than those that seem to be causing the greatest concerns and disappointments for the creators out there! The biggest disappointment and concern, aside from such things as no toddlers, no pools, no this, no that….is the elimination of the color and pattern customization or Create a Style. For most of the builders, the designers, and sim creators, the pattern and color customizer is essential in creating all of the unique and, even basic matching designs. For me, it is one of the most important features of the game and without it, I don’t really feel that I can do much if anything, with the basic and most times, mismatching color and pattern combinations the creator of the game offer us. It seems that they have made the decision to go back to a format such as used by sims 2, whereby they might offer an item in a few different colors or patterns and there would be no way to customize those within the basic framework and limits of the game. What this creates is the need for even more custom content on a piece by piece downloading process into one’s game. through out the sims 3 we saw and encountered the numerous issues and problems with having custom content in our games. For many people it ended in disaster and having to completely uninstall the game and reinstall it in order to fix the issues.  I do understand that the CAS system involves a great deal of additional file space, memory and does cause some game lags over time. For me personally, it is however a more than equal trade off or compromise as opposed to having to download massive amounts of custom content just to get a room décor that matches and does not look like a cartoon from Hell!

 

Building and World Concerns

For most of the builders and story tellers, the limits they are placing on building, landscaping, and world editing are major concerns that lead us to thoughts of not continuing on to this so called next level of the game evolution. They have taken away much of the creative process of building, replacing it with what they claim is a much easier way for everyone to create and enjoy the game. In my opinion, what they have done is taken away our creativity tools and replaced it with some form of pre-fab construction. From what I can understand of it, it will put in place a system that essentially eliminates a reason or desire to create and share with others on any type of exchange or uploading. Why? Because if it all based on some sort of pre-fab placement system with so many limits and constraints on it, then really why bother with sharing your basic creation which anyone else could easily come up with on their own?!

The limits and constraints of the world editing cause no end of concerns to creators and story tellers. There will be no ability to edit or change the existing community or neighborhood… This is one of those changes that they have admitted to rather recently. Originally, they caught our interest with saying that there would be even greater options for neighborhood editing and creations.  I can not even begin to describe to you what a nightmare this poses for story tellers and movie makers! At this point, all I can imagine doing is creating every single filming set or location from scratch on a lot that you create and control. Yes, this is basically what I do now, but that is due to the uniqueness of my particular story needs. I do also have right now, the option of going into world edit and making some adjustments to surrounding areas that might interfere with my filming. Removing even that option for me would be a complete deal breaker in my opinion.

          In another move backwards, they have returned to a format of a more closed world or neighborhood as was in the previous sims editions. You will have a small pre-set neighborhood to work within, which in my thought, would greatly impact filming or photo taking of the outdoors. If you want to go anywhere else other than your small neighborhood, there will be a pause with loading screens to get you to where ever else you are going. They are promoting a system that they say will now allow you to travel, visit, work in any other destination that you choose away from your lot and insisting that is an advancement of the open world system. In reality, it is still a closed system, much like Sims 2.

My over all concerns and thoughts on the new game and EA

         I knew from the beginning that there would be some difficulties in any transition to a new game base and accepted that. I also knew from the beginning that the base game would not be one that I could easily work with for the purposes of my story project. Still, even with those considerations in mind, I was interested and looking forward to what the new level of the game would provide us with as far as creativity. Now, I can honestly say that I am so disappointed in the route they are going that I am unsure as to whether I will even bother to purchase the game and try it out.

         These are my personal thoughts on where EA and Maxis are heading with this “new” version of the game. Yes, EA chose to partner with Maxis again in their attempts to breathe life into a game that they were unable to maintain in any acceptable manner. But, what Maxis has done, in my opinion, is take the game straight back to their former sims 2 format rather than expand on the Sims 3 format. They have failed to take into account that many parts of the sims 3 format work, and are what has kept us sticking with them over the years. They chose to revert back to a system that they felt comfortable with rather than truly take the game to any more in depth level. Many of us thought that the partnership with Maxis would be a good thing, that they would get involved and be able to fix the parts that were not working and still continue to develop the game to a higher level.  Apparently, they have not chosen to do this… So, while I am disappointed with EA, I am even more disappointed with Maxis for remaining stuck in an old already done system and failing to take this game to a higher level.

From what I can determine at this point, the new game seems geared to a far more basic level and audience of users. They have stripped the game back down to the most basics of functions and limits in order to promote it as one more easily used on older computers, tablets, and possibly even phones? To me it feels like they are putting it on a level of not so much a computer game, but more as one available on Facebook!  Really… if I wanted that sort of game, there are already more than enough of those types of games out there. I do not need or want another one of that quality!  I do not spend money on the Face book sort of games, and I will not spend money on this sort of computer game.

I understand that they are trying to appeal to a broader base of users in this attempt  and of course that money is as always, their bottom line.  They are assuming that by appealing to a much broader audience that they will increase their profits. EA, after all does have a long history of only being concerned about customer spending, not customer satisfaction! What they do not take into consideration is the money base of their so called valued customers. What I am trying to get at here is the fact that a large number of Sims 3 fans are adults with enough cash to afford this money consuming game. The game is a very expensive hobby for most of us, and despite the number of problems associated with it, we have remained loyal to it and spent enormous amounts of money it, with the expansion packs, the added worlds, the store items and such. We are highly creative, intelligent adults who choose to spend our money on your often over priced  product. We are fans who also spend money on our computers in order to play this game and others of even higher graphics quality than yours. You, EA seem to be overlooking us in favor of a far less dedicated and often fickle audience. In essence, you seem to be dumbing down the game to appeal to younger, less able to pay, users.  You assume that we as loyal Sims 3 fans will follow you into this next level of the game without fail or question.  What you should realize, EA, is that you lost a great many fans already due to the problems associated with Sims 3. Those fans will most likely not take another chance with you on the new version. In addition to those losses you have already incurred, you will undoubtedly lose another mass of fans and paying customers by going the route you are choosing with Sims 4.  Many of us are hanging on the edge already in our decision whether to invest in the game. I say invest, because that is how we as adult with cash to spend on this hobby look at the game. We do not look at it as a one time purchase to amuse ourselves for a short time. We look at it as an investment in a continued interest and life long hobby. Most of the users I know use it for far more than simple game playing. They have taken it to highly involved detailed levels with photography, sim creation and modeling,  interior design, building and landscaping design. They spend vast amounts of money on your products for these purposes and they do expect some level of quality in return! Many of these users may take a chance and try the new game, but I can most certainly assure you that they will not remain with you, will not continue to spend money on this next game should you not listen or address their issues, their concerns and their disappointments with it. Should you fail in this new attempt, you will be left with your “broader” market of new users who may not be as forgiving or loyal as your previous customer base was. One of the most basic rules of marketing and retail is customer satisfaction… satisfied consumers return and become loyal consumers of one’s product. Dissatisfied customers often say little to your face, but leave your product and voice their dissatisfaction to anyone they come into contact with. They will relate their experience to friends, to family, to fellow users, to any number of places through out the world wide network of the internet. How much profit do you think you lose because of that unvoiced dissatisfaction with your product? Just because they tired of complaining and asking you for assistance does not mean that they went away satisfied and content to struggle on in silence.

For me personally, what all of this comes down to right now, is the fact that I will not continue to invest in the next level of this game blindly. I will not follow you into this new game like a sheep with an unlimited wallet tied to my neck and I do not think that many others will either. They may, as I mentioned, take a risk on the first game but few will continue on with you if you offer us so little as compared to what we already with the present game… If you can not even provide us with a toddler, or something so basic as a swimming pool in the base game, what would lead us to believe that you are offering us a new and better experience?!

 

I am sorry for the length of this review and for the venting of my frustrations, but I did feel the need to express it here!

 

From the Creator: Ancient history connects the Norse with Romans and King Arthur!

If you are following… or attempting to follow the story, with all of it’s branches, twists and turns, you already realize that there is a great deal of research that goes into all of it! Before I ever add to it, I try to research my history and ensure that my paths are at least somewhat plausible!  Sometimes it’s easier than others. And, sometimes, I get the occasional gift from above in finding those links where I need them to be?  Such is the case with Eric’s long history- aside from the Vampyre turn anyway! That turn will be dealt with in upcoming episodes, along with the rest of his varied past!

 

We have already learned of his early voyage across the sea with his family, but it was a rather vague memory with few details other than the difficult crossing for him as a young boy. Right now, I am doing some additional research into the Norse migrations to portions of the Scottish Isles. When we think of those migrations, we of course think only of the Viking travels and conquests. In reality, there were Norse settlements in the upper Isles long before those Viking raids. Some of the outer isles, such as the Shetland Islands were inhabited by Norse/Scandinavian peoples as far back as 43AD when the Romans mentioned them.

In AD 43 and 77 the Roman authors Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder referred to the seven islands they call Haemodae and Acmodae respectively, both of which are assumed to be Shetland. Another possible early written reference to the islands is Tacitus‘ report in AD 98, after describing the discovery and conquest of Orkney, that the Roman fleet had seen “Thule, too”. In early Irish literature, Shetland is referred to as Inse Catt—”the Isles of Cats”, which may have been the pre-Norse inhabitants’ name for the islands. The Cat tribe also occupied parts of the northern Scottish mainland and their name can be found in Caithness, and in the Gaelic name for Sutherland (Cataibh, meaning “among the Cats”).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland

 

There is an interesting video of pre-historical buildings on the island, which you can view here:

 

These two maps of the Shetland Islands and Isle of Skye show that it would have been a probable or plausible migration in those earliest ancient times from the Shetlands down to the Isle of Skye where Eric and his family settled.

1000miles shetland islands map of Scotland with Shetland islands and Isle of Skye

 

During those very early years, the Romans were in control of much of the lower areas of Britain and the lowlands of Scotland. Some of their ancient documents mention the tribes of the highlands and outer isles and there is documentation and evidence that they were in familiar with inhabitants of some of those outer isles, such as Orkney. One document mentioned that the King of Orcus/most likely Orkney was among a group of 11 that were involved in peace treaties with the Romans.

 

The following maps are of the areas in Roman times. The Romans initially built the Antonine wall, but later gave up on that border and focused their defenses more on the borders of Hadrian’s wall. They were unable to successfully maintain control of the Northern reaches including the highland areas and eventually gave up trying!

Roman era map of Britain

16_distance_slab

Roman Distance marker stone from along Antonine’s wall.

Probable Roman defense Old Celtic tribes of southern scotland and north east England Antonine_wall_map

 

 

The reason that the Roman control of the area is important for our story purposes is due to some of the historical theories on the legend of King Arthur.  In our story, During Eric’s earlier years he and  Adrian DeWare were knights/ warriors in the service of Arthur. There has been a massive amount of research on the origins of the legend of Arthur from a real historical stand point.  Depending on which theories you choose to go by, Arthur was a conglomeration of more than one real warrior or ruler in those early Roman times.

I recently watched an interesting documentary on one of those theories. It was a short summary of the theory and the history and if nothing else gives one a basic starting point for further research! I found it on Netflix.

Mystery Files: King Arthur

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70299221?trkid=439131

 

You can also find more information on one of the possible pre-cursors to Arthur here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riothamus

 

An alternative candidate for Arthur is described as follows:

Alternative candidates for the historical King Arthur[edit]

Some theories suggest that “Arthur” was a byname of attested historical individuals.

Lucius Artorius Castus

In 1924 Kemp Malone suggested that the character of King Arthur was ultimately based on one Lucius Artorius Castus, a career Roman soldier of the late 2nd century or early 3rd century. This suggestion was revived in 1994 by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor and linked to a hypothesis (below) that the Arthurian legends were influenced by the nomadic Alans and Sarmatians settled in Western Europe in Late Antiquity.   Littleton had earlier written about this hypothesis in 1978 together with Ann C. Thomas.

All that is known about Artorius’ life comes from two Latin inscriptions discovered in the 19th century in Podstrana on the Dalmatian coast. After a long, distinguished career as a centurion and then primus pilus in the Roman army Artorius was promoted to praefectus legionis of the VI Victrix, a unit that had been headquartered at Eboracum (York) since c. 122 AD. The praefectus legionis (or praefectus castrorum) served as third-in-command of the legion and was responsible for the general upkeep of the legionary headquarters, a position normally held by older career soldiers who did not command soldiers in battle.

When Artorius’s term as praefectus legionis ended he was assigned the temporary title of dux legionum and was put in charge of transferring some units of unknown size with British associations to the Continent for an expedition against either the Armorici or the Armenians.  Later he became civilian governor (procurator centenarius)of the province of Liburnia, where he seems to have ended his days.

Malcor, in a hypothetical reconstruction of Artorius’ life based in part on Malone and Helmut Nickel,proposes that he fought against Sarmatians in eastern Europe early in his military career and this led in 181 AD to his being assigned in the command of a numerus of Sarmatians based at Ribchester (Bremetennacum) that campaigned around Hadrian’s Wall. 5,500 Sarmatians had been sent to Britain by the emperor Marcus Aurelius in 175 AD. Artorius led these Sarmatians against invading Caledonians, who overran Hadrian’s Wall during the period 183–185. Then, after the collapse of his legion, he returns to Eboracum, then is sent by the governor of Britannia to lead cavalry cohorts against an uprising in Armorica. Medieval sources often place Arthur’s headquarters in Wales at Caerleon upon Usk, the “Fortress of Legions” (borrowed from Latin Castra Legionum). Eboracum, in the Vale of York, was sometimes referred to as Urbe Legionum or the “City of the Legion”, and was the headquarters of the legio VI Victrix.

Malcor also suggests that Artorius’ standard was a large red dragon pennant (auxiliary forces did not use eagle standards), which is proposed as the origin of the Welsh epithet Pendragon “Dragon Chief/Head” (alternately, “Leader of Warriors”) in Arthurian literature. According to both Malone and Littleton/Malcor,Artorius’ alleged military exploits in Britain and Armorica could have been remembered for centuries afterward, thus generating the figure of Arthur among the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons. This is linked to the original theory of Littleton, Thomas and Malcor which suggests that folk narratives of the Alano-Sarmatians settled in Western Europe formed the core of the Arthurian tradition.

The Sarmatians had a near-religious fondness for their swords: tribal worship was directed at a sword sticking up from the ground, similar to the sword in the stone. They carried standards in the form of dragons. Ossetian Nart sagas contain a number of interesting parallels to the Arthurian legends. First, the life of the Nart warrior (batraz) is tied to his sword, which must be thrown into the sea at his death. When one wounded Batraz asks his last surviving comrade to do the task for him, his companion tries to fool him twice before finally hurling the weapon into the sea; rather like Arthur’s wondrous sword Excalibur which had to be returned to the Lady of the Lake at his death by his last surviving knight, Bedivere. The Nart heroes Soslan and Sosryko, collect the beards of vanquished enemies to trim their cloaks like Arthur’s enemy Rience: both have one last beard to obtain before the cloak is complete. Two other similar motifs are the Cup of the Narts (“Nartyamonga”), which appeared at feasts, delivered to each person what he liked best to eat, and which was kept by the bravest of the Narts (“Knights”) – somewhat similar to the Grail – and the magical woman, dressed in white, associated with water, who helps the hero acquire his sword, similar to the Arthurian Lady of the Lake.

There seems to be little reason for Artorius to have become a major legendary figure: no Roman historical source mentions him or his alleged exploits in Britain, nor is there any clear evidence that he ever commanded Sarmatians. Neither of Artorius’ inscriptions from Podstrana mention command of any full legions (as proposed by Malcor, et al.), or establish his command of the VI Victrix (nor any numeri), nor do the inscriptions provide any evidence of command of, or association with, Sarmatians, or indicate anything about his standard.

Unlike dux legionum, dux bellorum or dux belli were not titles or ranks in the Roman Army but generic Latin phrases. Joshua was called dux belli of the Israelites in the Latin Vulgate Bible, Hanno the Great was dux belli of Carthage in Justin’s Historiarum Philippicarum. Closer to the time and place, Saint Germanus of Auxerre was twice styled dux belli by Bede). Artorius is not recorded as having fought in any known battles to match against those in the Historia Brittonum. However Geoffrey adds that Arthur twice took troops across the sea to Armorica, once to support the Roman emperor and once to deal with his own rebels.

The theory of a connection between the Alan and Sarmatian peoples and the legend of King Arthur depends upon the fact that the Alano-Sarmatians were steppe nomads known in the 2nd century for their skill as heavy cavalry. In 175, Marcus Aurelius, after defeating the Sarmatian Iazyges tribe during the Marcomannic Wars, took 8,000 Sarmatians into Roman service, of whom 5,500 were sent to the northern borders of Britain. The 5th century Notitia Dignitatum mentions a “Formation of Sarmatians” (Cuneus Sarmatarum; cunei were small auxiliary units in the late Empire) being present at Bremetennacum (Ribchester), where we find inscriptions dating to the 3rd century AD of a “Wing of Sarmatians” (ala Sarmatarum) and a “Company of Sarmatian Horsemen” (numeri equitum Sarmatarum).

Many of the parallels or similarities between Arthurian and Sarmatian tales only occur in writings dating from and after Geoffrey of Monmouth and do not affect the core issue of historicity. Some of the strongest similarities of Arthurian and Sarmatian tales occur in Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte D’Arthur, when Arthur and his warriors had already evolved into “knights in shining armor”. Critics conclude that Sarmatian influence was limited to the post-Galfridian development of the tales instead of historical basis, if at all.

 

What all of these interesting ideas and theories do for us is give us a plausible link and connection to how Eric came to be in Scotland in the first place, how he might have traveled throughout the area in those earliest years and how he might have come into contact with others such as Romans during that time. It lays a groundwork and foundation that I was searching for with  Adrian DeWare in being far more ancient even than Eric and having come from some other distant place originally!  In the future we will see how they met and learn a little more of Adrian’s more ancient past!

Behind the Scenes: Creating the scene for Solstice and a hidden escape

 

 

 

Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

This is the final set design and filming version of the Solstice celebration at Dunvegan. Many of you are probably wondering what it looks like in daylight, and what else went into the creation of this space?

Here day time views of the area. It is located close to the water, and to the Fairie pool.

Day time view of the bon fire and celebration space.

Day time view of the bon fire and celebration space.

Screenshot-8

 

 

day time over view of stream and bon fire space

day time over view of stream and bon fire space

 

For this final film version, we included a representation of the Dunvegan Cup, which might have been used in part of their ritual… There are traditions attached to the cup. For our purposes, it will eventually moved to a safer place within the Castle. At some later point in our renovations, the Dunvegan treasures will be located in a more secure museum type setting for visitors to view! I can say that it does seem to be rather large for a cup. Perhaps it was one of those more ancient types of vessels that were meant to shared by all and passed around!

Screenshot-14

Some additional views of the area and the celebration.

Screenshot-21 Screenshot-18 Screenshot-16

Here are some views of the area looking out towards the sea and the night sky.

View of the sea and the night sky

View of the sea and the night sky

 

A better view of the Fairie pool

Screenshot-12 Screenshot-19

 

In addition to setting up the Solstice scene, we did some more work on the “Priest Hole” hidden escape route from the Castle.

Screenshot-4

These are interior views of the doors and of the small hiding space. The above picture shows the door from the Chapel. There is another door located in the Solar. From the small chamber between those spaces there is an exit to outside.

Screenshot-3

 

This view shows the exit before any foliage was added to it.

Screenshot

This a view of the finished area with foliage added to disguise the exit!

Screenshot-5

previous behind the scenes post

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/behind-the-scenes-progress-inside-dunvegan/

Eleanor’s Journal73: Dunvegan Residents celebrate and honor their ancient heritage

     

 

Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

Eric, Brennie and Svein celebrate the summer solstice

        The residents of Dunvegan have taken some time out from their other preparations to honor some of their more ancient traditions and beliefs by celebrating the Summer Solstice. They invite you to join them in their celebration and as a way of continuing their traditions, they will leave the décor the way it is for any future residents to use in their own celebrations!  They are pictured here with one of their prized ancient treasures, the Dunvegan Cup. Though referred to as a cup, it is more the size of an urn or pitcher, which makes the ritual of draining it all in one drink all the more difficult!

Screenshot-14

Solstice celebration with ancient artifact of Dunvegan Cup.

Screenshot-21 Screenshot-20 Screenshot-19 Screenshot-18

Book Reviews!

 Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, before any review… I am asking myself, How on earth did I manage to miss this entire series in the first place!

I just came across this series recently when reading so many other people’s references and comments about it on other blogs and fb pages that I keep track of. Those comments sparked my curiosity and I naturally had to check it out. I am so happy I did! So far, I have only completed the first book, but was impressed enough to continue on with the rest of it.

Word of warning- the book is quite long and at times, a bit lagging to get through. It also does not fit into any one specific category as far as genres go. That is a plus for it! There was more than enough historical detail and fact to satisfy those interested in history. While it could probably be labeled under the category of historical romance, it involves so much more than just a romance that I feel the Romance label does not do it justice! The one thing that I felt could have been detailed a bit more was the premise and the basis for the actual story. Claire Randall, the main character, is visiting Scotland with her husband and ends up being swept through time in some sort of time displacement caused by ancient standing stones. There is some limited mention of them and of their history along with some references to Druids. Diana Gabaldon seemed to use these stones as a launching point for the story but did not delve into them much more other than Claire’s few attempts to get back to them. I can only assume that they will be explained more in future books. I certainly hope so because the stones, as I mentioned, set the whole story up and play such an important part in the time travel aspect. I would have liked a bit more detail on history or myths surrounding the Standing Stones.

The story also touches on some witchcraft and references to Fairy circles and such, but it is more about the actual history of Scotland and Claire’s adjustment to that time. There is some ongoing mystery which will most likely play out in the future books of the series.

Overall, it was an excellent read that covered a variety of interests so I was well satisfied with it. I’m looking forward to the many more books included in the series and the upcoming mini-series from Starz based on the books! It will play starting in August!
http://www.starz.com/originals/outlander

All book reviews here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/books-and-reviews/
 

From the Creator: Some history of Clans in Scotland

 

Our current storyline involving Eric North, finds him questioning his loyalties and his ties to the Vampyres in comparison to those of his Clan and his country.  He owes much to the Vampyres and has been one of them for a great many centuries. We will see in future episodes though that his ties to the Clan MaCleod go back as far, or further than the ties to the Vampyres. In order to understand why Eric might be so willing to put the Clan and Country, as well as Judith, ahead of any allegiance to the Vampyres, it might help to have some background history and information on the Clan systems of the Highlands along with their importance and impact on their members lives and self identities. It might also help us in understanding some of Brennie’s difficulties in accepting her place in the Vampyre world over the centuries. Both Brennie and Eric have feelings of loyalties and bonds outside of the Vampyre realm though for the most part they have managed to maintain their loyalty to the Vampyres.

Eric and friends5

Eric’s thoughts:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal71-erics-thoughts/

Eric in the Castle

Eric’s memories

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

 

Most people tend to assume that Clan refers to family connections. In some areas it does.  The Scottish/Gaelic Clan membership includes a much broader group of membership. It is a common misconception that every person who bears a clan’s name is a lineal descendant of the chiefs. Many clansmen although not related to the chief took the chief’s surname as their own to show solidarity, or for basic protection, or for much needed sustenance.

The Scottish Clan system was based more on a form of  feudal organization than strictly  family connections. Their existence goes back to before the year 1000 AD and was the basis for Highland government until they were essentially destroyed by the British in 1745. When the British took over ruling authority in 1745, they set into place strict rules that would take away all power and sense of allegiance or affiliation to separate clans. They sought to eliminate completely the history and culture of the highland Clans in order to bring those people into British control rather than separate Clan control.

In the most ancient history of the clans, the Chief or founder of a clan would have been one chosen as leader of that group by the members. It then developed into a highly complex system of government based on those original leaders.

To look at the Clan as a family connection or grouping is far too basic or simplistic for the system that evolved from the beginnings of small family or warrior groups that banded together in order to survive. Over the centuries, Clan membership cut across all lines of class, status, religions, initial family connections  or other allegiances.  As mentioned earlier, many of those who swore allegiance to a certain clan would give up their original family ties, or surnames for that of the Clan which was offering them protection and much needed benefits. People often speak of “old” families or lineage, while in reality no family is older than any other. It is just that some families can easier trace their lineages back with documented records. This generally applies to aristocracies and Royal family lines in other countries. In the Scottish Highlands, virtually everyone can trace their history back to one of the historic ruling clans.

Sir Iain Moncreiffe  provided a description which appealed to all Highland descendants. He described it in this way, the sacred royal and dynastic origin of the founder chiefs, and thus of the clans themselves: the ultimate biological unity with the Sovereign that accounts for ‘Highland pride’ and ‘loyalty; In the end-papers of this book, Sir Iain sets out two conjectural family trees: The Galley, showing clan descent from the Norse King Ingiald, 7th century ruler of Uppsala, and The Lyon, showing clan descent from the Irish Eochu, King of Tara, father of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The Highland Scottish Clan system and the people it includes can trace their origins and history back to Celtic beginnings in Ireland and the most ancient Norse migrations.

 

These ancient Norse migrations are the basis in our story for Eric North’s ancestry. Once his small family group arrived, they would have eventually become part of the Clan Mcleod, which has a long and rich history and claims connections to the Norse, and to Fairies in their documented accounts of their lineage!

 

Before we go into specific history of the clan Mcleod, it might be interesting and benefitial to understand some basics of Clan hierarchy with the Chief’s place and role in it.

Clan hierarchy and Chief

What is a Chief ?  A chief is properly described as Chief of the Name and Arms. He is head of the whole Clan name in Scotland. The description; Chief of the Clan is sometimes used although this is more properly a social description rather than a legal designation. The chief of the name and arms is entitled to wear three eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Under the Chief are his designated branch rulers known as Chieftains.  A Chieftain is the head of a considerable branch of the name and was frequently called Chieftane of the Cuntrie. A chief will have one or more chieftains under his command although in the organization and leadership of their branch they will have considerable independence. The chief’s eldest son or heir presumptive is also considered to be a chieftain and in the major clans, all the chiefs’ sons may be considered to be chieftains. A chieftain of a clan is entitled to wear two eagle’s feathers in his bonnet badge. Having said that the head of a whole name is described as Chief; the law does recognize that there are different levels of chiefship to reflect the relative importance of the different names of Scotland.

In history, the Chief’s role was of high importance, but what of now days?  What use  is he or she when warfare has little use for claymore,  kilt or pipes?What use is a Chief when the economy of the clan no longer depends upon a communal agriculture close to the land of a single glen or island or district?  What use is a chief when boasting of great exploits or mighty position is more likely to bring  embarrassment than  cheers of  approval?

In spite of all these changes, the chief of a clan still is usually the center of leadership in whatever the clan does. What has changed is less the role of the chief than it is what the clan does. Where once it was the very essence of existence, the clan now is a valued adjunct to the more fundamental problems of earning a living in a money economy, and of being a good citizen in a modern community, a community caring little for ethnic attachments to past glories and ties. (Even in Scotland is this in a sense true.) The modern chiefs role can be seen then in terms of these clan activities and interests– supplemental to our everyday lives, but vital to the clan. Finally, a chief still serves as symbol, representative and leader of his great extended family.
http://www.unc.edu/~ecanada/clansys.html

Earliest forms of the Clan system and Chief’s role.

In Gaelic, clann means children, and, by extension, descendants. The head of each clan was often a “king,” which over the years evolved into “chief.” Members of the clan did not necessarily bear the same name. At first, only the chief and his family used fixed surnames to indicate their descent from the founder of the clan. Around the 17th century, the use of surnames among all clans in the Highlands became the norm.

In the early history of Scotland’s clans, to avoid corruption, the king was not permitted to own property. The clan provided for all his needs in return for his wise leadership.  Succession was hereditary within a family, with each clan electing a new king.   It was a unique system, whereby the lowest member shared a common bond with the king, in this way it differed from feudalism, in which each rank in society owed their lord everything. In those earliest days, just because you were the eldest son, that did not necessarily mean you would automatically become the next leader. The Clan members would meet and decide on who among the family was the best choice as leader of the group.

As the clan system developed, “broken” men –men without a connection to any clan–were allowed to join. Sometimes, tenants of clan lands who came from outside the clan became members after three generations of tenancy.   In spite of that affiliation, however, these tenants were still not considered blood members of the clan.  In yet another variation of membership, an entire clan or “sept” (a branch of a clan) could be accepted into another clan after losing the last of its chiefs or its territory.  Smaller clans sometime swore fealty to a larger clan for safety.

Traditionally, the men of the clan were called together by a fiery cross (crois taraidh), which was made from two pieces of burned, or burning, wood. A relay of runners tied the pieces of wood together with a rag soaked in blood and carried the cross from glen to glen.

Generally speaking, the men in most clans fought and hunted, while the women and older children did the work at home. A steady source of income for  some  clans  was “blackmeal,” or protection money, which the Lowlanders or other neighbors paid to buy off the raiders.

In spite of his often humble surroundings, a clan chief tended to create the kind of pageantry usually associated with royalty.  Whenever he traveled, his huge entourage followed. First, were his henchmen or personal bodyguard.  Next, came the bard (Seanachaidh).  It was the bard’s duty to record the chief’s heroic deeds, including those of the clan and the chief’s forebears.   Following the bard was the piper.  The piper ’s position was hereditary one, passing father to son. The bard and the piper often followed the chief into battle, “the former that he might witness with his own eyes his leader ’s acts of valour, and the latter to inspire the Clan to greater heroism by his playing,” wrote Scottish historian Fitzroy MacLean.  Next up was the chief’s spokesman (Bladaire), who functioned as a king of protocol officer.  The spokesman’s role was to issue proclamations for the chief or argue the chief’s position on a dispute.  Finally, bringing up the rear of the company was a ghillie, or two, who carried the chief’s broadsword and shield (targe).

The last rites given to a Highland clan chief were no less renowned for spectacle than his entourage.  Regardless of the distance, custom dictated that the chief had to be buried with his fathers.

The chief’s corpse was carried feet first, with the piper ’s place at the head. Tightly furled in front was the clan standard. Following behind were the Clansmen with drawn swords. Attending every funeral was the piper, whose music honored the dead as well as inspired the bearers on the march.   The women of the clan followed the funeral march as far as the first brook (burn).  At that point, they presented a cup of wine, which symbolized a prayer for the departed.

Because the distances to the burial ground could be quite lengthy, the custom of wakes began among the Gaelic-speaking descendants of both the Scots and the Irish.  Although they now have a reputation as being somewhat rowdy, wakes evolved gradually from the quiet, reverential vigils of Roman Catholicism.

Inclement weather was no obstacle to a proper and ceremonious burial for a Clan Chief.   In fact, if anything, it spurred the burial party to even greater pride in their duty as the procession chanted:  “Blessed be the corpse the rain rains on.”

http://www.clanhendersonsociety.org/history-of-the-clan-system/

 

History of Clan Mcleod and Dunvegan Castle

The Clan Macleod were the original founders of our story’s Dunvegan Castle and we will try to stay as close and true to their rich history as possible with our inclusion of them in the ongoing story! It might be of some interest to note here that they have been long associated with stories of Fairies and other such legendary figures… namely that of the rather famous immortal, Duncan Macleod of the Highlander series!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlander:_The_Series

 

 

Clan MacLeod (/?klæn m?’kla?d/; Scottish Gaelic: Clann Mhic Leòid;  is a Highland Scottish clan associated with the Isle of Skye. There are two main branches of the clan: the Macleods of Harris and Dunvegan, whose chief is Macleod of Macleod, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Tormoid (“seed of Tormod”); the Macleods of Lewis, whose chief is Macleod of The Lewes, are known in Gaelic as Sìol Torcaill (“seed of Torcall”). Both branches claim descent from Leòd, who lived in the 13th century.

 

The surname MacLeod means ‘son of Leod’. The name Leod is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse name Ljótr, meaning ugly. Clann means family, while mhic is the genitive of mac, the Gaelic for son, and Leòid is the genitive of Leòd. The whole phrase therefore means The family of the son of Leod.
The Clan MacLeod of Lewis claims its descent from Leod, who according to MacLeod tradition was a younger son of Olaf the Black, King of Mann (r.1229–1237). However, articles have been published in the Clan MacLeod magazine which suggest an alternative genealogy for Leod, one in which he was not son of Olaf, but a 3rd cousin (some removed) from Magnus the last King of Mann. In these alternative genealogies, using the genealogy of Christina MacLeod, great granddaughter of Leod, who married Hector Reaganach (McLean/McLaine) these articles suggest that the relationship to the Kings of Mann was through a female line, that of Helga of the beautiful hair. The dating of Christina’s genealogy and the ability to line it up with known historical facts lend a great deal of authenticity to the claims of the authors.

 

MacLeod tradition is that Leod who had possession of Harris and part of Skye, married a daughter of the Norse seneschal of Skye, MacArailt or Harold’s son who held Dunvegan and much of Skye. Tradition stated that Leod’s two sons, Tormod and Torquil, founded the two main branches of the Clan MacLeod, Siol Tormod and Siol Torquil. Torquil was actually a grandson of Tormod; Torquil’s descendants held the lands of the Isle of Lewis until the early seventeenth century when the Mackenzies successfully overthrew the Lewismen,[3] partly with the aid of the Morrisons, and the MacLeods of Harris (Siol Tormod). Younger branches of Siol Torquil held the mainland lands of Assynt and Cadboll longer, and the Isle of Raasay until 1846.[3] Siol Tormod held Harris and Glenelg on the mainland, and also the lands of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye.

Leod, according to tradition, died around 1280 and was buried on the holy island of Iona, where six successive chiefs of the clan found a last resting-place after him.[4]

 

A DNA project studying the Y-DNA of males bearing surnames associated with Clan MacLeod found that the vast majority of the men tested had a Haplogroup of R1b, which is the most common Haplogroup in the British Isles. A total of 32% of all men tested, who were also in this R1b Haplogroup, also shared the same Haplotype and showed this group shared a common ancestor.

A romanticised depiction of a McLeod by R. R. McIan in 1845.
According to the study, this 32% of MacLeods tested had a common ancestor within 1000 years (some will have a common ancestor earlier but all who match with another of the surname with 23/25, 33/37, 62/67 markers share the same more distanct ancestor), thus this Haplotype is considered to show the founding lineage of the Clan MacLeod.[5] While the study could not prove a “Viking” origin of the clan, the study claimed the DNA of this group showed that the clan was founded by a man who could have originated in Scotland or the Isle of Man. It should be noted however, that the R1b haplogroup is found at 30% frequency in Norway and that the studies of the haplogroup R1b are very fluid.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacLeod

 

Of further note on the history of the Clan Macleod is the history of the Castle Dunvegan, which we have covered previously, and the ancient artifacts that are related to the clan and the Castle. Those being the The Fairy Flag, Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn, The Dunvegan Cup.

Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn
A drinking horn, made from ox horn, with a silver tip. Named for Sir Rory Mor (Ruiaidh Mor MacLeod) clan chief who lived from 1562-1626. Some historians suggest that it actually dates from the 10th century and is of Norse origin. Clan tradition says that the chief must prove himself by drinking a full measure of wine from the horn.

The Fairy Flag
In a special display case within the castle is the prize possession of Clan MacLeod; the Fairy Flag. This is the Highlands, and you almost expect myths and fantastical tales to appear around every corner, but even so, the Fairy Flag is something special.

There are several versions of the story, so you are free to choose your own! One story goes that a chief of Clan MacLeod fell in love with a ‘bean sidhe‘, a fairy princess. The princess’s father was against the marriage, but his daughter pled to be allowed to marry the chief until the father agreed to a period of handfasting. This was a sort of trial marriage that lasted for a year and a day. At the end of the handfasting period the princess was to return to the fairy realms, and bring with her nothing from the human world.

The agreement was made, and for a year the couple lived happily at Dunvegan. A son was born to them, but at the end of the handfasting period the princess bade a tearful farewell to her husband at the Fairy Bridge, not far from the castle. She made her husband promise that the baby would never be allowed to cry, for the sound of his cries would disturb her even in the fairy realms. The distraught chief agreed, but the depth of his grief alarmed his clan members. They thought to cheer him up and organised a large party for his birthday, to take his minf off his loss. The revellers celebrated long into the night, and the young nursemaid assigned to guard the baby crept from her post to watch the revels.

You can perhaps guess what happened next; the baby kicked off his coverlet and began to cry, and the mother heard him from far away in her fairy realm. She appeared by his cradle, wrapped the baby in her shawl, and sang a lullaby to nurse him back to sleep. The nurse returned, and though could hear the lullaby she could not see the fairy mother. She took the child, still wrapped in the strange shawl, to see the chief, and told him what had happened.

When the child grew to be a young man he told his father a strange tale; that the shawl was a talisman, and that if the clan ever found themselves in danger they should wave the shawl three times and armies from the fairy realm would come to their aid. A powerful weapon indeed, but there was a catch; the fairy flag could only be used three times, then it would return to the fairy realms, taking with it the one who waved the flag.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

remnants of the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan

The Fairy Flag has been used twice; once when the clan was in battle against their bitter enemies the MacDonalds. The clan chief waved the flag three times and the tide of the battle turned in the MacLeod’s favour. The second time the MacLeod cattle herds were stricken with plague and the clan members were dying of starvation. The chief waved the flag and the fairies returned the cattle to health.

Another tradition says that the Fairy Flag was guarded by hereditary standard bearers, and only the eldest male of this family was allowed to unfurl the flag. The very first standard bearer was honoured by being buried in the tomb of the clan chief on Iona.

During World War II many MacLeod servicemen carried a photo of the Fairy Flag in their wallets, and it is claimed that no airman who carried the photo was lost in the Battle of Britain. The chief of Clan MacLeod famously offered to bring the flag to Dover and wave it at the Germans should they invade Britain. Thankfully his intervention was not required, and the Fairy Flag is still waiting its third use. In the meantime it sits in a special display case in Dunvegan Castle.

A fanciful myth? Perhaps, but where does the flag actually come from? Scientific tests on the fabric reveal that it is made of silk from Rhodes or Syria, and dates to sometime between the 4th and 7th centuries. So it is of very ancient provenance. One story suggests that it was brought back from the Holy Land by a crusader.

 

The Dunvegan Cup
This is a late 15th century ceremonial cup made of wood decorated with silver. It was created in 1493 for Caitriona, wife of John Maguire of Fermanagh. How did it come to Dunvegan? History is vague on this point. One legend says it was a gaift of faeries.

http://www.britainexpress.com/scotland/castles/dunvegan.htm