So, you must be curious to know, what is it like to live on a world with six months of daylight where the sun never sets,and six months of darkness where the only light is that of the moon and stars? Not as bad as it might seem. For us, our New Year starts with the Day of the Dawn, when we come up out of our underground homes where we have spent nearly five months. We form a circle and sing the Song of the Dawn and kiss each other and stare through the bitter cold at the pale red light of our rising sun. I don't, but many people get drunk on this day. It is one of the few days when it is acceptable in our culture to drink to excess.
In the summer months hard work is very important. The harvest has to be grown for a start, otherwise we would starve.The harvest means everything to us.Then there is Defence Duty to be done against the bands of Midnight Raiders who like nothing better then to break through the walls around a city or a group of homesteads and steal the crops and anything of value.It's not as bad where I live but on the Ice Frontier, raiding is endemic and only those volunteers or conscripts of Duke William's Royal Guards, and those too poor to buy land anywhere else, live there.
The first month is when winter gives way to spring. Before the ice melts we have to take the blocks of frozen urine and excrement away and dump them into carts which take them to the Pit which is several miles away from human habitation.Otherwise the smell and the filth would be appalling when the snow and ice melts. In the second month ploughing and sowing takes place.This is the month when rations are at their most short and even the rich sometimes go hungry.Then in the third month everything grows almost at once. Fruit, wheat, barley...suddenly we can fill our bellies again and it is a happy time of plenty.
The next three months are much the same. Every sane community takes care to put supplies aside for the winter and to do their best to protect them both from raiders and from disease and fungus such as the deadly ergot.Should the harvest in one area fail, the Duke and those who serve under him normally see that the area has food sent to it,rather then leaving it to face. the threat of mass starvation.
Crime is rare amongst our own kind and serious crime is rarer still, but from time to time trouble happens. The Duke's Sheriff serves as the Judge and a jury is picked from amongst us. For minor offences, a man or woman can be whipped or fined or left gagged and bound to a tree for a few hours (if the offense takes place in summer.) For offences that are serious but not serious enough to deserve execution, a whole homestead can lose it's Glowstones for up to an entire winter, which means six months of chilly darkness, lit only for a short time every twenty four hours with a torch. For rape, murder or treason, the penalty is either death by hanging, which is not often carried out, or exile as an outlaw into the Darkside with only enough food and water for two days, a knife, and a fist-sized Glowstone.
Then comes the month of Dusk when the sun sinks below the horizon. The plants rapidly die or sink into hibernation, the summer life either dies, hibernates or migrates, and the snow begins to fall. We can still sledge and ski and enjoy ourselves in the snow, which is not deadly as long as care is taken not to get lost.After that the bizzards start and we have to stay indoors for the next five months huddled around fires and Glowstones.We have the Feast of the Winds, where presents are given to adults and children alike that help us get through the long winter months. After that we talk, play games, read, write stories and diaries, sleep a lot and do...other things. Everyone in a homestead has his or her own private room which opens onto a central hall.
And so the year starts again.
OOC-Comments and suggestions are allways welcome in the Urania comments thread.