The Hoch Clans
Inhabiting the valleys and passes of the Hoch Mountains in the southwest of the Dorsine Empire, the clans that inhabit the Hoch are proud, cunning and dangerous.
Headed up by the powerful clans: Xavrok, Grunerok, Haxalle, and the Vec. Each clan (except the Vec) own and guard a major pass through the Hoch. The Grunerok and Haxalle clans are generally better off as their passes can be used by caravans from the west. The Xavrok Gap, looked over by clan Xavrok leads into the wilds of the southwest, including the Hurloon Steppe. The Vec content themselves with trading with the Empire and are perhaps the most advanced and ‘civilized’ of the clans.
Long have the people of the Hoch known and come into contact with the strange Hurloon minotaurs that roam the steppe hunting sauropods. Though mighty in battle, the steppe is a very hard place to defend. Thus long ago the Hurloon have looked for the Hoch as a stronghold and refuge. Most Hurloon tribes visit the Hoch at least once ever couple of years. In exchange the people of the Hoch gain access to the magics of the Hurloon. For reasons unknown, the talent for magic is exceedingly rare among the Hoch. Thus it is not uncommon to come to find that a major clan-holt on a pass will be made up as much as 10% Hurloon. The Darsine soldiers garrisoned in the Grenze are exceedingly spooked by the Hurloon, though they are rarely seen by outsiders. Indeed in Darsine proper, the Hurloon are barely known at all.
The clans of the Hoch worship a pair of deities: Aubrii and Maht’urin. Aubrii is associated with the Sun and represented by a golden-haired lion with the horns of a bull. He oversees a wide variety of activities ranging from feasting, war, raiding, stubbornness, endurance, strength and anything requiring exceitment, energy and things that occur during the day. Maht’urin is associated with the Moon and is represented by a pale white Roc. Maht’urin oversees all things associated with night and that require cleverness and stealth. He is also the keeper of knowledge (as night is when the stories are told) and worshiped by many bards from the Hoch. He tends to healing and what little magic the Hoch can manage. Oddly enough the white roc figures prominently with the Hurloon legends as well.
The time of twilight and daybreak are the most feared times for the Hoch clans as this is deemed the realm of the Wrayths. Not a particular deity, but a catchall for all the demons/undead/aberrations that stalk the lands.
Another particular facet of Hoch culture is the prophecy of the Hornblower. It is said that the Hornblower will come with the Lamb. When the horn is blown, the world will be thrown into chaos. As to what this means is hardly known. However the Hoch have an atavistic fear of horns (the instrument) and do not suffer them to be played, lest they end the world. The fact the Darsine Empire makes use of horns in directing their troops played no small part in un-nerving the Hochlanders and aiding the Darsine in their conquest. At the same time horn players in the garrison troops have an amazing tendency to get into lethal accidents when on duty, as well as their horns turning up missing or smashed. Nothing the Darsine can do can make these ‘barbarians’ give up their silly ‘superstition’. Only time will tell what it all means. Though the Hurloon Shamen have hinted that the stars are reaching a critical juncture.