Why does Black Marsh have a hunters Guild while other provinces do not?
Non argonians do live in Black Marsh, but there are many places that they cannot go. There are vital resources that only argonians can gather. There are places so treacherous landstriders would die instantly if they were foolish enough to venture there.
The hunters guild has been around so long the average Argonian has come to rely on its members prowess for game. Who wants to risk their lives for a little swamp pig bacon 🥓when someone else is perfectly willing to do it for them? Afterwards the hunters bring those goods to the market at a reasonable price. We kill it, we clean it, we butcher it,we cure it; Meat ready for your cooking pot;No fuss or danger to the average citizen.
There was a short period In the third era when there was a vote to disband the hunters guild claiming it was an unfair monopoly. This was brought about by other merchants who were having trouble selling imported goods.
Argonian mothers with small children soon put a stop to that malarkey. Why should they or their spouses risk their lives when there were fully trained professionals doing the job well? They kept the markets stocked to the rafters with fresh game and rare herbs. The merchants backed down, and their imported trade goods soon gained traction with consumers.
The hunt master and elder hunters saw a point to the merchants argument. Out of pure courtesy they made an arrangement with the merchants. The merchant could contract a hunter exclusively for their store for a nominal fee for a week or up to a year. The guild could have conceded nothing and gotten away with it. The guild leadership felt it might boost business for everyone involved. There were more hunters and more product,than they could move at one stall per village at the time. Nothing gets under a hunter scales more than wasted game. The guild also had more novices than they could employ. Novices were quitting because they were stuck in training too long. Many novices joined the legion because the were itching for some action. This was a pleasing arrangement for both sides.
How does one join the hunters Guild?
The Selection process begins at the age of eight. Every year there is a competition for prospective novices 8 and up in villages with a population of over 150. Contestants and their families from smaller villages escorted by their local hunters to the nearest village holding a competition. We provide transportation from outlying areas to assure that everyone who wants to compete has the opportunity to do so.
Families with means pay for a prospective initiates dormitory fees out of their own pockets. The very wealthy and even the government make donations to keep the guild afloat in rough times, and to make sure those without means are not excluded because they are poor. Black Marsh is very proud of its Hunters Guild. Hircene has been rumoured to show up in person at one of the competitions every year. He is said to grant a boon to the top hunter.
What about the orphans?
Local hunters sponsor any orphans who wish to compete. Black Marsh accepts this practice universally as a declaration of legal guardianship by the hunter and the guild. If they place well in the competition by passing the trials they will live at the hunters guild dormitories until they come of age. If they fail their local hunters work with them so they can try again next year. Many orphans choose the hunters path.The local hunters take it upon themselves to build clutches for the prospects to live in while they train.
Hatchlings and The Hist
Outsiders may say 8 is way too young to choose a career path. That may be true of other races, but we are connected to the Hist.
We are born with knowledge of our culture and environment that only needs to be awoken. Things can be communicated and understood directly through our ties to the Hist. We can convey complex information with each other without saying a word. An Argonian hatchling of 8 knows the deal.
I write this here in Skyrim, sitting cozy at my table in Myrwatch. I can feel my shadow scale brother Lun-Shua giving me the stink eye. I have been advised to stop writing about the Hist to outsiders before he is ordered to come f*@! Up my S_!π.
Back to the matter at hand
Even initiates earn a wage. A minor’s wages are managed for them. Mathematics, money management, and small business ownership are some of the classes taught by the hunters guild. We are not just pretty faces, and thuggish Brutes. The education we give our youngsters rivals any school in the imperial City.
A portion of a Minor’s wages is taken out and put into savings. A portion is for guild dues.When they come of age they often have enough to buy their own home.
The competition includes
- A swimming competition
- A foot race
- An obstacle course
- Snares and traps
- Archery contest
- Shield work evaluation
- Using nets and other team work exercises
- Dog handling
- Camouflage and stealth
- Written test on animals, plants and terrain knowledge
- Wilderness survival and preparedness
- Skinning, cleaning, tanning, butchering, curing
- Basic alchemy
- First aid and carrying a wounded person to safety
- Fire 🔥 building and safety
- Carving a walking stick and whistle
- Pole vaulting and staff combat
Cheating,backstabbing, bullying, and refusing to work with a team mean instant disqualification. Getting in an unsanctioned fight outside of competition and stealing will get you the boot as well. We go to great lengths to ensure the contestants are scored on ability and scored fairly. A wealthy parent trying to bribe their child’s way in, instantly disqualifies the child. This reinforces the idea that prestige is earned by skill alone. We will not be responsible for the death of an initiate to serve a big ego.This line of work is dangerous; if we let any milk drinker wander in off the street and join more than half would be dead within a week.
Not every contestant makes the cut on the first try. This is not a badge of failure. At the end of competition the contestants are given a written scorecard. This shows the areas they did well in, and the areas where they need practice. All are encouraged to try again next year. I did not make the top five my first time. I was 28 out of 77 competitors. I flopped miserably in dog handling of all things! My snares needed a fair bit of work as well. It took two more years for me to make the top five. Difficulty of the competition is for safety’s sake, and for the initiate to make sure a career as a hunter is what they really want. Persistence in the face of failure is part of the test.
The month of Rains hand
The competition is held throughout Black Marsh during the month of Rains hand. This is when novice level prey is the most plentiful.
The first of Second seed the top five from each region are announced and closing feast are held. The initiates say goodbye to their families and go to the closest dormitories. They rest and get acclimated for a week, then the real work begins.
We spend the second week carving a walking stick, crafting a backpack, and our whistle.The hatchlings with obvious magical talent are helped by a Master wizard in crafting their staff. The initiates are patronized quite a bit about packing properly for a hunt. Those who don’t listen regret it. The last day of the second week they are given a sleeping 😴 draught and dropped into the marsh with their pack, walking stick and whistle. We allow light hazing of the initiates. The nature of the hazing always reinforces a life saving lesson. Not everyone learns by listening or reading. There are more than a few that need practical application for a lesson to take. The biggest lesson we want our initiates to learn from this surprise camping trip is how to signal or ask others for help. It is okay to admit you are in over your head. Anyone in Blackmarsh will come to a hunters’ aid if they see or hear a distress signal. If they haven’t the skill to help themselves, they alert someone who is skilled right away. We do not leave the hatchlings unattended. We are hiding nearby in case of emergency.
I will write more about The Black Marsh Hunters Guild another time. I could easily publish a book on the subject. As long as I sent them a coin for every copy sold I doubt they would mind. We are not a secret society.