Written by The Mad Professor
The Guides are not an organisation by any means, they have no common code and serve no ideal or god in particular. Still, there are guides to be find all across Adylheim, serving in their own little way to ensure that travellers get safely from one place to another. And, of course, getting paid in the bargain. Being a guide is an occupation, although one that rarely comes with a guild to protect its interest. Like most other occupations, it works on the master and apprentice system, with one learning from the other and occasionally the other way around. There will always be locals who know their way around the local paths, but there are few who dedicate themselves to it. It should be noted, though, that being a guide is not an occupation which will reap rich rewards. Few guides have ever become rich doing what they do and while they may occasionally take someone through the paths for a great deal of reimbursement, this is more of an exception than the rule.
Knowledge and SkillsEdit
Being both a widespread and wildly diversified lot, guides possess a great deal of different skills. Some have been farmers, some have been hunters, others trappers. Most are known for their ability to survive in the wild though. It is rare to find anyone more knowledgeable than a guide about the local herbs, edible plants, and wildlife than a guide. Armed with this intimate knowledge of their surroundings, they are near unmatched survivors as long as they stay on their own turf. It would be a mistake to think that once outside their own region guides lose their purpose, even though their intimate knowledge of the terrain may not be up to scratch they have many tricks up their sleeves. Navigating by the stars, telling the directions by many of the strange tricks that survivors know comes naturally to the guides. There is little doubt that where the guides truly shine though is within their own region. It is here they know all the good fishing sites, all the neglected and run down, all the old ruins one might take shelter in, and, of course, what old ruins to avoid. Guides may even know the secret witchpaths that cover the ground, shortcuts that are only safe as long as one pays the appropriate toll at the door. Guides may even know the secret of Guiderunes, which even wizards find something of a mystery. Such knowledge is often a great boon to any guide caught outside their own territory. Of course, Guiderunes are not the same everywhere and while there is some standardisation, Guiderunes in Nerin are markedly different to those in Teslan.
Over the centuries guides have concocted a strange language of markings known as Guiderunes. These scratchings, which are liberally applied to stones and trees, mark everything from supply caches, dangers on the road, good places to find shelter and everything in between. Guiderunes are generally fairly simple and most guides will consider it their duty to ensure that they continue to be there for later travellers, some even consider it a sacred duty to halt and refresh the markings, ensuring that even on the more forgotten paths the Guiderunes will be readable for later generations. This system of runes can be found on most major roads and paths, there are few paths that do not have Guiderunes written somewhere along their winding length. It has developed into a system for keeping track of the local knowledge and while no one has catalogued their entirety, they are often amended and altered as necessary by new generations of guides as the need arises. As a necessity it remains a very simple script though and could hardly be described as a language in its own right. It serves primarily to mark distances to things, with various signs depicting what can be found at said distance, though it may occasionally be used to convey more subtle warnings and directions such things are not easily given to Guiderunes and can easily be misunderstood by anyone not intimately familiar with the local system of Guiderunes.
Guides are among the few people who maintain and keep what is generally known as the Witchpaths, short underground shortcuts through the mountains and similar. These secret paths often require those that pass through them to leave behind small sacrifices of blood, hair or other things. Guides are among the few people who know how to traverse such places safely and unmolested, though they will rarely suggest them to most travellers. Exactly who built the witchpaths is unknown, their purpose of allowing quick travel through the mountains is easily evident though. Of course, you'll find less of them in the south, where the mountains are fewer and further between. But in the north where the ground is hard and cold most of the year, ancient tunnels crisscross the mountains and those who dare enter these paths may cut their travelling time in half. Of course, for the unwary it is they who get cut in half. Many who enter the mountains unknowingly disappear and are rarely heard from again. What resides within the witchpaths that preys on travellers is not known even to the guides and is generally not a subject of much debate. Such discussion is considered to be bad luck and sure to jinx a traveller, especially if he or she is currently travelling one of the witchpaths.
Among the Maradin there is an equivalent to the guides. These Maradin are known as pilots and their mastery of the seas is well known. No one has as good a knowledge of the shoals, the currents and the dangers of the seas as the pilots. By most Maradin captains it is considered an honour to have a pilot aboard one's ship and their advice is always heeded. While the Maradin pilots are certainly more respected than their land counterparts the guides, they retain a detached presence from the rest of Maradin society, rarely staying on any one boat for any length of time, rarely leaving their own territory. They retain a place somewhere between the priests of Erina and the rest of the Maradin, closer to Erina than normal people, but still not quite as close as the priests themselves. For most Maradin the sacrifice is not considered to be worth it though.