The Old Forest is dark and filled with dread. Something alive haunts this land; something full of bitter, bright eyed malice and hatred for all things that walk on two legs. We cluster in this little outpost of humanity, shrinking from the eaves of the trees when howls shock the night, and as the hungry wolves stalk ever closer, we look into the eyes of our fellows and see that we are truly all that we have. And yet humankind cannot live in a constant state of dread. Unchecked and unbroken, fear will gnaw a man open from the inside out, leaving him gibbering in madness or sullen and silent. Broken both ways. The sayings of our ancestors tell us that the cure for terror is good cheer and good food, and the warmth of a hearth and companions about you.
The Jovienne are not known for their great skill at fighting or the production of goods, and in a town where subsistence is so often at stake, it is unusual that this is tolerated. Yet we are loved and respected for the work we do to bring about the celebration of the changing seasons and the blessed holidays. These times when the community puts aside their weapons and tools and takes up instruments of joy and celebration are the reminder of what it is we fight to survive for. Without bliss and beauty, the soul of a man can die while she yet still lives, leaving only a dead husk.
This is why the work we do is so important. The other lineages of Luisant do not understand as we do the great danger that lies in forgetting our traditions and letting our community drift apart. We stand as the glue between them, knitting them together. The creations of the Jovienne, be they art, food, or events, hold the passion and emotion of their creators within them. It is an indefinable quality that, we feel certain, rivals the greatest artists in all of Lorassaint and draws our community into unbreakable bonds.
Like art, food, music, or poetry, religion can stir a man’s soul and bring a tear to their eye. Religion brings meaning and color to the world and provides us with a framework- a story, if you will- to understand the great mysteries of life unfolding around us. And yet, religion can drive an individual to do terrible things. An excess of passion for religion can result in great division and strife, and even deadly violence. Luisant could not sustain all-out conflict between the Church of Humanity and the followers of the old ways. In knowing this we rise as a constant reminder to our neighbors that regardless of what path one’s soul travels it is fed at the fireside with revelry just the same. In feeding our souls we feed our faiths as well, and refine our ability to express the beauty found within our individual beliefs. In building traditions of feasting we build an identity for Luisant, unified and bright enough to draw the mislead of the forest to our fireside, perhaps even without the need for violence.
DERRAL THE RECONCILER
The youngest of the Ordo Croix who slew Chiropoler, Derrall is claimed as patron by our family for his sweet nature and his belief in the virtue of reconciliation and human unity. These virtues strongly echo the choice that we have made: to value the wellbeing of our individual family members over the strictest adherence to dogma. Indeed, it is said that before they descended into the Mouth of Chiropoler, Saint Derrall saw the freed slaves arguing and settling into camps divided by religion, and urged them to join together, seeing that they would not last long in the harsh wilderness, separated as they were. The ancestors of the family that would become the Jovienne took this message to heart, valuing unity and community over squabbles of faith.
Though we excel at maintaining high spirits and unified hearts in our quest against civil violence we are not devoid of conflict entirely. It requires a careful eye to catch the conflicts we harbor, however, as most are tucked into a singular line of a song, or found in the face of a figure at the backdrop of a painted vase. We still war for the minds and hearts of our community, each of us with our own truth to share. When rivalries arise over these conflicting goals the bitterest of enemies are shrouded by some of the closest friendships, and most robust laughter. Rather than allow our disagreements to tear us apart we expect any Jovienne worth their salt to draw closer to their enemies, find common ground, laugh and love in the struggle for harmony.
Open aggression or judgment is frowned upon by most more traditional members of the family. When these aggressions go unresolved for too long it is not unheard of for Jovienne elders to tie two quarreling artistes together by sturdy string or rope until they find a way to turn the absurdity of their differences into something pleasing for the community in the service of unity and prestige for the lineage.
Within the Lorrassaint there is no greater symbol of humanity than Luisant. We are an unnoteworthy pebble to the massive inhuman energies of the dark forest, unable to see us for the gem of humanity we are. Illustrious and shining with the fruits of our spirit we are the only ones able to produce artwork that memorializes our struggles, and triumphs for the only people who will find value in us, our future generations.
Jovienne refuse to allow the fruits of their spirits to shrivel and rot before their death. Each day of life given is an opportunity to overcome simple subsistence and reach an ecstatic state of true life. To create a work that can seed fruit for future generations drives many. To find immortality through their fame drives others. But all are encouraged to find a message worth sharing, and to practice expressing it every day they rise, without fail. In truth there is no greater discipline to be found than a jovienne with something to say. This fact becomes undeniable by all when our fruits are ripe and we see fit to share them with the community.
The greatest of Jovienne expressions are celebratory fairs in the feasting grounds often called in times of failing spirit to bring light back to our neighbors faces. This impressive faire is named a “masquerade,” or “great revel.” To begin a great revel the sullen faces of any broken spirited are covered by masks, elegantly constructed and often smiling with great joy. Any with a failing smile will then take any masks remaining. The particulars of what is served, what entertainment is presented, the artwork, style of the masks, and timing of the events are all flexible, with particular prestige given for creative uses of the venue to lift the town’s spirits. The only necessary components for a proper masquerade are the masks and actual spirits (alcohol the great igniter of the human soul.) All with a perfected craft join in the revelry to inspire their neighbors and one another. The marker of a successful masquerade are smiles on the faces found under masks once the revel is called to an end, traditionally by the oldest Jovienne in attendance.
Sins of excess are discouraged, so as not to attract the wrong attention with the blazing of their human spirit. To avoid this excess a quick succession of different lifely pleasures are presented in succession, in an attempt to provide such rich and varied fruits of the spirit that one is not seduced too deeply by any singular one. A guest who denies a variety of pleasure provided is often quietly spoken ill of by family members following the masquerade, as the tired Jovienne recollect their creative energies through the time honored art of hushed gossip.
Pushed from a young age to bring their souls to a blinding blaze before their community there exists a tragic tendency among the untalented or uninspired children of our lineage. Those who cannot prove their strength of spirit to the family or community at large are easily afflicted by a particular sense of shame that has crippled the will of more than a handful of Jovienne. Without the respect of one’s family, or even respect of themselves there is a melancholy that grips at the heart of these tragic few. Great concern is laid at the feet of any who remain in this dampened state for more than a year of holidays, as there are many reports of these individuals losing their grip on what makes them Jovienne. Some turn to great violence, craving an outlet for their innate passions and unable to find it in the act of creation. Once turned to this great violence it is considered only a matter of time before they destroy so much that they must have their name taken from them, and we all must mourn over the loss of another voice from the fireside.
These burnouts often benefit from the doting and creative endeavors of the rest of the lineage in an attempt to reignite their creative energies. When we lose one of our own it’s a fault of themselves as well as all that could have shared a flame with them.