“The dragon has two heads,” goes the Brevic saying. Some see it as a reference to the dual nature of the nation’s culture – Issian and Rostlandic – others to the division between the ambitious nobility and the often grasping priesthood, or between the noble houses and the self-proclaimed swordlords, all with the common people caught in the middle.
The people are known for their somewhat pessimistic (they would say “realistic”) view of life. Common Brevic sayings include the following:
- When the wolf shows you his teeth, he’s not smiling.
- Riders at night carry no glad tidings.
- Winter always follows spring.
- As the stars see me. (A common oath asserting the truth.)
- The stars see all.
- The temple is close, but the night is cold. The tavern is far, but I have a cloak.
- Fire is everyone’s ally, but no one’s friend.
- Pharasma makes cradles for us all.
- No man dies wishing he had worked more.
In addition to the large fishing industry, the many farms of Rostland grow wheat, barley, and rye. Other crops are limited due to a short growing season. Some breed cattle, sheep, or – in the east – goats. In the northern reaches of Issia, just south of the lake, migratory groups herd reindeer.
From the nobility to the peasantry, heredity is patrilineal. As a result, most families value sons over daughters – the former being useful, while the latter are extra mouths to feed until they can be married out. In order to secure the line, fathers prefer to have several sons, and men whose wives have only given them daughters are pitied. (At least to their faces. Behind their backs, whispers of family curses are common.)