Cast of characters
All the characters in the scenario can be read here
Two anthropologists visiting Berge and living among the Mo to learn about their traditions, beliefs and culture. Their status is one of equals, of colleagues.
The characters are mentioned here as well: Keip Elov and Jon Vidars
Sees himself as a humble scientist. He has done research and fieldwork with the Mo people of Berge before and now he is returning with Beatrice Orton, another anthropologist, who can provide an opportunity to explore the women’s world. He sees the Mo as backwards but fascinating. He is extremely career-minded, but regards himself as an enlightened intellectual. He does not have a family of his own, as his research is his one and only priority.
The author of several prominent studies of women’s live among various bush people in desert areas. She is an expert of gaining entry into spaces that no one else has accessed and sees a similar possibility in visiting the Mo people. She is task-oriented and straightforward. She thinks Ethan might not be as excellent as he seems to believe about himself. Beatrice has no children, but a steady partner back in Wittenberg. She ultimately wants to write a book on women’s lives in various cultures. Along on the trip is also her younger brother William, mostly to keep him away from his previous occupations, which mostly seemed to be wine, women and gambling debts.
William has never really thought out what he wants to do with his life. But right now, while he’s thinking, he has filled it up with drink, gambling and women. His sister, the famous anthropologist Beatrice Orton, has cleared out his rather messy collection of debts and brought him along on a work trip. So he can see a different side of the world, as she claims. But also, he assumes, to keep him out of trouble.
Town 1 – Berge
The Vidars Family – The Alderman’s Family
The family out of Berge that starts out with the highest status. Vidar is the Alderman, like his father and his father’s father before him. But now their two children are returning from Beyond and their earnings will be a deciding factor, in whether the family can keep their prominent position they’ve enjoyed for generations.
The youngest member of the Men’s Council, but also the most influential. Vidar has the heavy burden to be the most flawless, to have the best wife, the most competent sons and the loveliest daughters. Vidar lives and breathes his Burden and his Honour.
But Vidar has a blind spot when it comes to his own home. In his eyes, his family is the best, and everything that would seem otherwise, is best ignored.
The standing of his family is more than ever resting on the abilities of his children, that they prove themselves strong and competent – especially his son. Vidar knows he cannot afford even a single misstep.
Vidar is the brother of Ingvar (formerly Ingrid) and Keip Isak.
Among the young women of her generation, it was obvious from an early age that Alva would marry Vidar, who was poised to take over his father’s role as Alderman. Between all the girls of the town, Alva was the one who married with the best dowry, a true point of pride for her father.
Alva sees what her husband doesn’t – that their son will be unable to bear the responsibility of being the next Alderman.
Alva is the sister of Liv Staffans and Runa Lars.
The biggest inspiration to Astrid is Ingvar, her father’s brother. Ingvar who used to be named Ingrid, but when Astrid was very young Ingrid disappeared and returned to live as a man. Astrid remembers hoping with her entire body and soul that Ingvar would complete the Trials and be allowed to take the Oath. She never told anyone of her own plans, but when her brother Jon was getting ready for his year Beyond, she found the courage to ask him if he would be willing to help her. In her own mind Astrid is a man, and she has always been one. But Astrid fears the reactions of her father and mother when she returns. That she chose to run away was a serious blow to the family honour and she has to do everything just right, to not endanger it further.
Jon can clearly see that he is hurting his family, that he isn’t bringing honour to his parents, that something is wrong with him. He sees, how his father is struggling with the shame and disappointment of his son not being the man he wants him to be. Therefore Jon has decided to face his father and ask permission to live the rest of his life Beyond. During his year outside Mo, he has been associating with Ethan Rickman and during their conversations he has started a dream of educating himself and studying at the university. But first, he has promised Ethan to take him back to Berge. As the son of the Alderman, Jon is the one who provides Ethan with the best chances to be welcomed with full hospitality. What Jon did not see coming was Astrid also returning to attempt the Trials and become a man. This has upturned all his plans, how is he now able to disappoint his parents, if Astrid is also a failure?
The Staffans Family – The Steward’s Family
A family of happiness and love, the marriage of Staffan and Liv is a happy match. A bit too happy, since the relationship between husband and wife should not be based on love, but respect, duty and responsibility. The two eldest children, on the threshold of adulthood, are worried that their parents will hurt the family honour and thus their own chances of a successful marriage.
As a member of the Men’s Council, Staffan and his family is respected by everyone. Staffan is a soft-hearted and sympathetic man, who takes his responsibility very seriously, but with a warmth and loving. He lost his first wife shortly after Signe’s birth, but married the much younger Liv a couple of years later. They’ve been married for ten years now.
Staffan loves his family and tries to avoid anything that would cause them to suffer, even though that means he has to dress up the truth from time to time. Like pointing out that Liv does the cooking, so obviously she is much livelier than the other women.
The only one of the town’s women, who is unafraid of entering the kitchen with a huge grin on her face. The kitchen is her kingdom and a place where the Vitality is allowed to flow freely under her careful, quick hands in the big communal kitchen in the Town House.
Liv’s own vitality is strong and shining, which gives her a natural attraction, that no one in town dares object to. After all, it is Staffan who is supposed to take charge of her.
Liv is the sister of Alva Vidars and Runa Lars.
Putting it mildly, Sven is a vain young man. Now, on his return from Beyond he has come to demand the respect he is worthy of, once he becomes a man. All through his life, Sven has – in secret of course – looked down on his father, Staffan. He likes his father, but thinks that Staffan is not what a man is supposed to be. Along with his best friend Arvid, Sven is coming home to take his place as a man of Berge and receive his own measure of respect.
The character is mentioned here as well: Jan Geres
To be fair, Signe is too young to become a woman. But now she is forced to, a year or two too early, since the towns are a woman short in order for the marriages to fit. Signe is an uncritical admirer of her brother Sven. She is looking forward to becoming a woman, which is something she’s been wanting for several years now. She won’t admit it, not even to herself, but she is ashamed of her parents inability to maintain the family honour. She knows that Staffan and Liv are only getting away with it because Staffan is the Steward. In her world all the other families are “perfect” and she only sees the faults in her own.
The Lars Family – The Oathkeeper’s family
A tightly wound family. Everyone is obliged to maintain the flawless honour of the Oathkeeper, there’s no room for mistakes or weakness.
As the spiritual leader it is Lars’ job to live an unstained life and take the most unbendingly vital woman as his wife. He lives in constant fear of failing and an ever-present burden of leading the spiritual lives of the townsfolk in orderly fashion. It is Lars you turn to, if you have a problem with your wife or someone has been acting inappropriately. It is a heavy burden, but one Lars is bearing with pride and joy.
The character is mentioned here as well: Hadar Olovs
Of all the women, Runa is the one kept under the strictest rules. As the wife of the Oathkeeper and having an unusually strong vitality, she is hard pressed to act in the most exemplary way possible. Her husband, Lars, sees too it that she does. Runa is the one who awakens the Vitality in the young women on the night of the Trial.
Runa is the sister of Liv Staffans and Alva Vidars.
The character is mentioned here as well: Stina Ingvars, Gyril Olovs, Keip Elov
The eldest son, Erik is ever the protector of his little brother Eskil, who is quite the dreamer. He is very conscious of his responsibilities and believes his father is abusing the powers he has over mother Runa and the rest of the family. He is determined to be a good man and replace his father as the head of the family. He has a lot of high-flying plans on what sort of man he will be and how to fix things. He loves his mother and thinks she is being treated unfairly by his father. He has spent most of his year Beyond suffering from terrible homesickness and longing to come back, he has never been more ready to swear his Oath than now.
The one always ending up in last place. Eskil is a kindhearted boy, but an absent-minded dreamer. He has always stood in the shadow of his older brother and kept to his mother and sister, rather than playing with the other boys. His brother Erik has noticed this and held off on his own year Beyond so he could keep an eye on his brother when he went. Eskil loves Erik with great admiration, but it annoys him that he can’t decide in his own life. Eskil also sees a lot of his father’s anger, since he is determined to eradicate the son’s deviant mindset at all costs. Eskil is returning home filled with fear. He has been missing his mother and sister terribly, but is unsure if he can pass the Trial and swear the Oath. He is hopelessly in love with one of the girls from the next town over (Katrin Runes) and hopes to marry her, if he becomes a man.
Being the child of the Oathkeeper is something that leads to high status. Mostly to the sons, who is also expected to be examples to the other boys in town. Being the daughter of the Oathkeeper is also worthy of respect, but of a different sort. All her life Anna has been feared. Feared for who she will become. Fear of her mother and her abilities. The Oathkeeper marries a woman of powerful vitality and Anna’s mother is no exception. Anna sees her own future, when she looks at her mother. Powerful forces yes, but also a woman under enormous pressure. No other woman is as watched over as Runa Lars. And that is Anna’s future too. In secret, her mother has taught her how to awaken the Vital spirit and lead it into the women. It is dangerous knowledge and at least as great a responsibility as becoming a man and swearing the Oath.
The Kåres [Kòrres] Family – The Magistrates Family
The ambitions of the two parents have blinded them to the dark truths about their son, who is terrorising the other children.
As Magistrate, Kåres has the duty to remember what has happened in town, in this generation and the ones before. As the only Magistrate it’s a big responsibility for Kåre to remember and untangle everyones questions of family honour, promises given and debts collected. Kåre is the final authority when it comes to the relative standing of the families.
Kåre is a busy man, who has always given most of his time to the work of the Men’s Council and being the Magistrate. He sees his family as the best possible and his son as a natural successor to the office.
Himself he regards as a hardworking, responsible and honourable man, who does his utmost to show everyone the rewards of hard work and sacrifice. It is every man’s duty to strive for higher standing for his family and thus maintain his Honour and bear his Burden.
If anyone drives the ambition of Kåre and encourage him to put the prosperity and status of the family above all, it is Edit. She was the daughter of the previous Magistrate and knew even before becoming a woman, that she would marry Kåre.
Family is everything to Edit. Or rather: The family honour and it’s subsequent standing in town. She has raised both her children to put family first, but also given them a somewhat exaggerated image of their own abilities and excellence.
When it comes to matters of honour, Edit is ready to stand up to anyone who threatens her family. She does anything she possibly can, to secure her children’s good fortunes in their future marriage. Anything at all.
All the other young men know, that something is terribly wrong with Arvid. Arvid knows too, but doesn’t care. In his heart, Arvid only has room for one person, and that is Arvid himself. He is convinced that he deserves only the best. He is the son of the Oathkeeper and obviously he will follow in his father’s footsteps. Because Arvid deserves the best, and whoever gets in his way, will regret it. In front of the adults he is a wonder of honourable good behaviour, but as soon as their backs are turned, not many of his peers escape a taste of the real Arvid. The Arvid with no boundaries, who knows no empathy or cares about anyone except himself. Arvid has decided that one of the girls will be his wife: Katrin Runes. She’s not from a family of high standing, but that’s no concern of Arvid’s. He wants her.
The character is mentioned here as well: Sven Staffans, Jan Geres, Hilda Runes and Katrin Runes
All of her life Ester has been told that she is, and ought to act, better than everyone else. As the daughter of a high status family, she has always know that she can expect a good marriage and a bright future.
She knows all too well that something is wrong with her brother. But it is like she is unable to say it out aloud. Despite knowing that Arvid is unable to think of anyone or anything but himself – she grew up with him after all. From when he burned her hand on the hearth, to hearing him speak of others.
But now her own marriage is approaching and she has no intentions of sacrificing her own chances for a good marriage.
The Ingvars Family
A family that has to work harder than anyone else, in order to maintain the same respect. There’s no room for mistakes or problems, least of all the wall between the two parents.
When Ingrid was nearing the time to become a woman, she knew that she loves Stina, a girl a couple of years younger than her. She did the only thing she knew how: She ran away from home and returned the next year, to become a man. She became he, Ingrid became Ingvar.
Every day Ingvar has to prove – more so than most – that he is able to bear his Burden. His work he manages without problems – even better than many of the other men. But the love for Stina was never what he hoped. There is an invisible wall between them. Because Stina became a woman.
Ingvar is the brother (sister) of Vidar and Keip Isak.
The character is mentioned here as well: Astrid Vidars
It was the perfect plan: Ingrid would swear the Oath and then they would marry. Stina, who everyone knew was a forceful girl, would follow all the rules and show how she was becoming a meek and compliant woman. All this to make it possible for her to marry Ingrid, who would be Ingvar.
It happens that she still calls him Ingrid, when they are alone. As an attempt to break the wall that rose between then, since Ingvar swore his Oath and they became man and woman.
Stina’s son Måns has a father in another town, but only Stina and Ingvar know this. That’s how it happened, during a summer celebration, when they got help from the Oathkeeper’s wife to make Stina pregnant.
Klara was adopted into the Ingvars family. From a remote town of little status and the daughter of a second wife, Klara has little to speak in her favour. But she does have ambitions. She has made a pact with her brother – to show everyone exactly what they are made of! Klara’s goal is to marry a man of high standing, regardless of her humble origins. That Klara might be in love with Torkel Olovs is unimportant, he is of far too low status, to even think of marrying. Sometimes you need to sacrifice, for the life you want.
Måns [Mòns] Ingvar
This year it is time to swear the Oath and become a man. Måns has no doubt that he will raise the standing of his family. Like Ingvar, who is constantly doubted for once being a girl, Måns is also watched by people. That’s why he, like Ingvar, needs to prove more than everyone else, that he will make a good man.
The Oath and the Trials is all about not making a single mistake. He cannot fail and if at all possible, handle himself better than all the other boys.
The Olovs Family
The broken remains of a family, the drunken father has died and everyone is now worried about what will happen to them in the brudpris-negotiations.
When she was young, barely a woman, no one could deny that she was full of Vitality. So strong that she ought to have married the next Oathkeeper, Lars. But alas, another woman from the neighbouring town also had a strong life-force, but of a higher standing than Gyril. It was Runa. So Runa got the husband and the status that was supposed to go to Gyril. And Gyril was left over. No one else was ready to marry her. Not until Olov, who was much older and of low standing, offered to volunteer. But she cost her father dearly. There was no other choice for him, but to accept the offer. And Gyril wound up with an old man, who drank and beat her to keep her vitality suppressed. It was no surprise to anyone, that Gyril didn’t mourn for long, when he died of a stroke two months ago. But now Gyril is once again a burden to her town, a single woman with two nearly grown and married sons. Gyril knows she will be married off once again after the Trials.
The character is mentioned here as well: Ask Ulfs, Sindre Ulfs and Keip Elov
Hadar knows that he is something special. If only he could catch a break. Being the son of a drunkard does little for your status, and if you want to marry well, you have to work even harder for the faults of your family. But Hadar knows that he is made of a strong, honourable substance. When he comes back and discovers his father is dead, Hadar will see his chance to restore his family’s honour, by marrying off Gyril to be Lars’ second wife and thus become part of the good fortunes and standing of the Lars family. Maybe Lars will even make him the next Oathkeeper if all goes well? Hadar is determined to see his goal achieved: Restoring the family status and showing everyone that he is a man to be respected.
Torkel always tried to compete with his brother in all things. He finds it a terrible injustice to be second eldest, when he is so much better than his brother. But soon they will be adults and equals. Torkel is convinced that everything Hadar does, he can do better. To be honest, Torkel is getting tired of hearing Hadar talk about how great he is. While away from home Torkel has been longing for home and his mother and sister, but still can’t help but compare himself with his brother. Torkel knows he shouldn’t, that it is hurting him. He ought to concentrate on himself, rather than obsess about his brother’s exploits, but he can’t. If he could just for once surpass him, just once be triumphant, is what occupies Torkel the most.
The character is mentioned here as well: Klara Ingvars
Anni has grown up watching her mother beaten and degraded by Olov, Anni’s father, all in the name of honour. Anna longs to be out of it all. If it wasn’t for the fact that her father was getting worse and worse over past year, she would have run off with the boys and never returned. But Anna feared that her father would kill her mother, if she wasn’t there now that her brothers had left for their year Beyond. There was also her private fears: If she left without becoming a woman, how could she live as a full human? So Anni stayed. And now her father is dead. And her chance is gone.
The Mats Family
A man with issues. Talking up a storm about how great his son is and maintaining his own honour with an iron fist and a regime of fear, still hoping the best for his son. The exaggerations are mostly to increase Nils’ odds of marrying a girl from a family of high standing. The brudpris negotiations is everything to Mats. They are his final chance to recover his family honour, or lose everything. He secretly curses the fact that his father didn’t manage to provide him with a better wife during his own negotiations, and has promised himself not to make the same mistake. Even if it means keeping his son unmarried for one or more years.
Lena is irresponsible, her home is a complete mess. She loves talking about the great qualities of her son, but has a hard time with intimacy and showing love. She grew up with abuse from her mother and father and has no idea how to connect with her son.
Lena hates herself, she intentionally puts herself into positions where Mats has no choice but to punish her.
The love for her son Nils is the only thing that keeps her spirits up, now that the towns are meeting to marry off their children. That and the hope that Nils will be married to a good woman and becomes the man she hopes he can be. If everyone in the family can maintain the appearance of honour.
Nils has always been clever. He quickly learned things, always a step ahead and noticing the things others might miss. Nils has a real talent for seeing into people, their potentials and needs. In a perfect world, Nils would be a natural choice for Alderman or Magistrate, but in this one, he is the son of Mats and is not a good thing for your standing. He still hopes to marry well and repair the family honour. It’s troublesome that his parents are constantly exaggerating his excellence, but in his heart of hearts Nils knows that he is meant for greater things, to rise about the place he was given in life.
The Keips of Berge
Isak is known for his patience with the youngsters of Berge. He listens, comforts and explains. But he can be unbendingly strict and remind them of their duties to family and town. The whole of Berge is Keip Isaks business. He is worried whether the town will not remain one of the foremost among the people of Mo. That is why the kids must get their acts together and that is a big responsibility for Isak.
When he was young, he never wanted to be a man, but instead chose to become Keip. At some point he realised that it was the right thing to do, and he is still sure of it.
Isak is the brother of Vidar and Ingvar.
Elov was excited about becoming a man. But he was unable to resist the newly hatched women during the Trial. He gave into both Gyril and Runa. Afterwards, he understood that he would never swear the Oath. That’s why he is entirely dedicated to his duties as Keip, to pay his penance for failing on the night of the Trial. Teaching the young boys to become responsible and honourable men has been his focus since then, so no one else makes his mistake. He still considers Gyril and Runa the reason for his fate, his belief in how the customs and values of the Mo are to be maintained are deeply conservative. His own experience is such clear evidence that the Mo way is the only way to deal with things. Elov has no love of the outsiders from Beyond and how they’re influencing his protégées.
Town 2 – Strömmen
The Geres Family – The Oathkeeper’s family from the next town
A family of great standing, but no wealth. Very well respected and of spotless reputation. A well functioning family, everyone helps to maintain the honour and culture, so there are few mistakes and thus few conflicts. From outside, the Geres family is the perfect family, and their only important job is the maintenance of the status quo.
Gere is a quiet, composed man. With impressive calm he handles his wives and there is rarely any controversies in the home. The family is of the highest standing in all of Strömmen and Gere is looking forward to marrying his two daughters off, with good dowries in both cases. One of the reasons Gere is so respected, is the fact that he can handle so many women at once.
A hard choice in the upcoming brudpris-negotiations, is that he must appoint a successor. Should he choose one of his daughters’ future husbands? Or Jan? Gere believes in Jan, but worries that Jan has so little self-confidence. If Jan is going to be worthy of following his father’s footsteps, he needs to stand on his own two feet first. He is also worried that the truth about Ulrika will be exposed. Gere likes Dina’s daughter very much – she was born in his house after all – but he knows she is not his. If it comes out, he needs to salvage the family honour and their standing would fall to far below their current comfortable place.
The spiritual leader of the women in Strömmen. Dina is the one to awaken the Vitality of the young girls. She keeps herself in a strict and responsible manner, as befits the wife of the Oathkeeper. Dina was a wilful and reckless girl. She became pregnant before the ritual to awaken her Vitality – an unforgivable crime. She is infinitely grateful to Gere, for not revealing the truth. She is truly devoted and loves her husband and now does all she can to main the order of the family, so their honour and standing remain unimpeachable.
When Gere took in the young Aina, Dina started out very uncomfortable with the situation, but later discovered the joys of having a close friend who also knew all she knew of the family.
Aina was a girl of poor dowry. She came from a family of little status and even less hope that anyone would accept the meagre dowry her father had saved up for her. When it became clear that no one would choose her for their sons – the dowry and status was too poor – Gere stepped up and took in the young woman.
Dina and Aina have close relationship and strong cooperation in running the family. Aina is deeply in love with Dina, but can’t get herself to tell the first wife. Not so much because it would damage their honour – she knows that Dina would never reveal anything that could damage the family – but because it might mean the end of their close friendship.
Aina is also the one that the children of Strömmen come to, when they need comfort or understanding. Especially the children who feel they don’t fit in are given encouragement and warm hugs.
Ulrika was adopted. Or that is what they say. They whisper about Ulrika. That her mother Dina was pregnant when she married her Gere. Ulrika is afraid to ask her mother if it is true, but she suspects it is. In any case her mere existence is shameful. Ulrika worries how many in Berge knows of the rumour and how it will affect her chances of a good marriage. And Ulrika tries her best, but it seems her Vitality is too strong as well. Things constantly go missing or break if she has handled them. She is her mother’s unhappiness and punishment for sinning. She knows this, but that doesn’t mean she will stop trying. The Trial and the marriage is the cause of many nightmares for Ulrika.
Hanni is looking forward to marriage and womanhood. It is such a great honour and Hanni has no mind but to make her mother and father proud. She knows that being the daughter of the Oathkeeper means a good marriage. It’s just a matter of compensating for Ulrika and Aina, who are dragging down the family honour. It’s not just that Ulrika is messy and a bastard, it’s also that Aina is the second wife and thus worth less. All the way from Strömmen to Berge she has prepared for the moment when one of the high standing young men of Berge will pick her to be their bride. And she will not let anyone in her family get in the way.
Jan tries to live up to his father’s expectations, but fails himself every time. The only thing he sees, is his own mistakes and not how much he is loved. This year Jan will become a man, and he is terrified. What if he fails the Trial? What if he is not chosen to succeed his father? And in Berge there are further terrors: Sven and Arvid, two of the boys who have been tormenting him, before they left for their year Beyond and during their time away. Somewhere beneath Jan’s insecurities is something of great value, but how is it supposed to come out, when everything is against him?
The Runes Family
A low standing family of little wealth. Ever since Runes wife passed way, the bonds in the family have strengthened, the daughters, Hilda and Katrin, have taken on the work of their mother. The thing that makes the strong – the unity and love – will be tested under the judgemental eyes of all the other families.
Elin Runes, the mother of Hilda and Katrin, died a couple of years back, but Rune has remained unmarried. The relationships in the family are made of loyalty and respect. Rune takes the raising of his daughters very seriously – they have to attain good dowries or he might not be able to afford their marriages. Rune is also going to Berge to offer himself, he is unmarried and will lose his daughters soon. Maybe there’s a widow or other unhappy woman in town who won’t mind him having an idiot brother and little else to offer. Terje, who is not like everyone else, dumber, an idiot. Rune loves his brother, but he knows he is hurting the family status.
Hilda is the eldest of the two daughters and very protective of her younger sister. She is the apple of her father’s eye and it is no surprise that he waited so long to let her become a woman. She does a great deal of the housework, since there’s no grown woman in the house. Hilda considered running away for a year Beyond, but her loyalty to the family and her sister in particular made her stay – to become a woman along with Katrin. Hilda knows that Arvid Kåres is out to get her little sister for himself and she also knows that Katrin is far too weak to be his wife. There’s something very wrong with Arvid. In the end, Hilda would be willing to marry Arvid herself, if that means her sister will be safe.
Katrin is a happy soul. She giggles at the swallows, she laughs at the rain. She has always been smiling. She talks to her mother, Elin, every day and is sure that she is still with them, always and everywhere. Her conviction is her strength. But the childlike joy and innocence is beginning to pass, and the truth that she that she will soon be a woman. She is scared to death of this. Both the Vitality and the marriage. But she tries to carry on with her carefree ways. On the outside.
In Berge is a boy named Arvid, the son of the Oathkeeper. Arvid desires to marry Katrin, but his is wrong. Katrin knows she ought to feel proud that a boy of such good standing has chosen her. But he terrifies her. He terrifies everyone.
The character is mentioned here as well: Eskil Lars and Arvid Kåres
Terje is not like other Mo. He’s not as bright of mind or well spoken. When Terje was about to become a man, at first they feared he might not pass the Trial. There was of course also the chance that the Keips might want to take him, but even they rejected Terje. It ended with a symbolic gesture. Terje was allowed to become a man, but not take a wife. How much of this Terje actually understands, only Terje knows. But if you get to know him, you quickly realise that there is not a single drop of cruel blood in him, and that he would do anything in his power to help those he cares about. His brother’s daughters are his favourites and can do no wrong in his eyes. Terje lives together with them and his brother, where he is loved and away from the judgement of the others.
The Stens Family
A family of status and wealth. The culture of honour is very strong with this family. Sten and Kristin have another child who is no longer part of the family, the town Keip: Ivar.
Honour is important to all men. But perhaps even more important to Sten. As the son of the Alderman, he faces very high expectations. One day he will take on the mantle of Alderman, if only the old codger would get on with dying. The Stens family is well off and his exact accounting and talent for business makes them richer every year. In Stens mind there is one thing that keeps bothering him: That his son Ivar was chosen to be Keip the year before last, rather than marrying well and setting an example to the rest of the town, as Sten had planned. It’s made it very hard for him to relate to his son and treat him with the respect a Keip deserves.
Kristin is as conscious of the family honour and status as her husband and possibly the one who drives the family members the hardest, but behind the scenes of course. Kristin grew up in a poor family of low status and her marrying Sten was an outrage. This means she is always ready to prove that she belongs by Stens side, and that she is better than the other women – that her husband is better than theirs. And that her daughters will marry with the very best of dowries.
Eira does her best. She does every job with the greatest care and patience. There’s already talk that she will have a good dowry, since she is obviously going to be a good and amenable woman.
But on the inside, the tight and confining mould is gnawing on her as she tries to adapt to it. In secret she has started becoming self-destructive. Pain makes it all easier to bear. She can see a light at the end of her tunnel: When she becomes a woman, all the evil, all the anxieties and fears of not being good enough will vanish. Or?
Karin does not want to marry. She doesn’t want anything. The headstrong and angry young lady is impossible to control. The best you can hope for is that the fights between Karin and her father Sten is kept quiet enough that the neighbours will not hear. Her father wouldn’t mind postponing her marriage, but he has been told that there are so many young men up for marriage. that he might be forced to offer up his daughter this year. He had hoped she might grow up some more, before the Vitality is released into the volatile woman, but now it seems he has no choice. Karin will be married and it’ll cost him many years savings to do so.
The Keip of Strömmen
The older Keip died this spring and Ivar is left as the only responsible Keip in town. It makes his job this year very clear – to find a new Keip, who can help him raise the young of Strömmen in the years to come. Ivar is responsible and proud to be Keip.
He was chosen by the previous Keip and knew ahead of time that he would be. What he wasn’t ready for, was the disappointment of his father. Since then, he has tried manage the anger of Sten, by being the most honourable and responsible Keip he possibly could be. But nothing seems to help. That Ivar clearly sees that it is grief in the loss of his eldest son and heir, that is hurting his father, doesn’t make it easier to bear.
Town 3 – Hammar
The Ulfs Family
Arriving unexpectedly, two boys and a girl. The town doesn’t have the best of reputations, but the laws of hospitality is clear – they must be invited in as guests nonetheless.
Sindre is the son of a powerful man in Hammar, he has been looking forward to becoming a man and following in his father’s footsteps as Steward. During his year Beyond, he’s not been doing much besides longing for home. At home he was an desirable and popular boy, with everything at his feet. At his side he has the eternally faithful Ask, his little brother of unwavering loyalty and admiration. Sindre’s life would be perfect. If it hadn’t been for Eda. His little sister that he always cared for. But apparently life in Hammar was not enough for her. So she ran away from home, to the world Beyond. Everyone would have kept on as if she was dead, if Sindre hadn’t happened upon her on his way back. By complete chance, in a small town. She was four months pregnant with a man from Beyond. A crime against all honour and everything sacred to Sindre.
Despite not yet being a man, Sindre shouldered his Burden and punished Eda. He would probably have kept on and killed her, if Ask had not intervened and convinced him to stop. But something has to be done about the baby. Ask knew that in Berge was a distant relative of the Ulfs family of strong Vitality. If she can drive out the baby, then Eda can be married. And since the towns of Berge and Strömmen are of higher standing than Hammar, maybe this evil can be turned into good. Maybe Sindre and Ask can return home with wives of their own?
Ask admires no one as much as his brother Sindre. What Sindre does, so does Ask. Sindre is everything Ask is afraid to be. Confident, bold. Ask has never been envious of Sindre. On the contrary, he sees Sindre as supposed to be the one to shine, while his is to help him do so. So when they found Eda, in a town Beyond, pregnant without having done the women’s ritual, he had no idea what to do. He had never seen Sindre despair like that. Ask knows that Sindre wasn’t able to bear the family honour damaged so gravely. The best thing would probably have been if Eda had died, but Ask couldn’t watch his beloved sister hurt so much. Luckily he remembered a relative of strong Vitality in Berge. Her name is Gyril, a great-cousin of their mother, maybe she will be able to fix the lost honour, before anyone knows it has been broken?
Some women disappear from their hometowns, before becoming women. Eda is such a girl. Even though she had to abandon everything she knew, she still chose to leave her home and everyone she loved. So she could decide for herself. Returning home to face the Trial was never and option for her. So she had to disappear entirely. Which she did. Life Beyond wasn’t what she had imagined, but Eda was free. And found love in she shape of a man named John. They lived together for four months and when she told him that she was pregnant, he cried with joy. They were happy. Until fate decided otherwise. One day, both her brothers stood in her doorway. Sindre and Ask had seen her buying bread at the market and had followed her home. She wanted to flee, for a moment she was sure Sindre would kill her outright, but Ask intervened. They dragged her back, with no chance to say goodbye to John. They guarded her day and night, with no chance to run away from them. But they can’t go back home, their honour is far too damaged for that. Ask had the idea to go to a distant relative to have the shameful child removed and get her married off so honour would be satisfied. After talking with Sindre and Ask, she has realised that this is the only way she won’t just be killed to restore their family honour. Some crimes are simply too great to be forgiven, some breaches of honour are too great to fix. But if things are kept secret…