This document details some of the rituals in use by the Cymry.
Ddyrchafael means ascension in Heniaith, the Cymry Old Tongue. It came into use as the term for the ritual that confirms a Cymry’s right to rule when the first High Elder of Hyrkania was chosen just after the Chimera’s arrival in Aereth. The ritual can only be performed at the Cylcharcanus in the Cavern of Light.
Covens and Convocations
In the normal course of events, the Heir to Cymeria is confirmed at the age of six months, and there is no dispute regarding his (or her) Right to Rule. Although the Ddyrchafael has confirmed them as the next ruler, that right can be challenged. The caveat is that if the challenger wins the duel, he or she must then be confirmed and if they are not, a Coven is formed. The Coven is thirteen individuals that rarely includes any of the Warders of the Marches and is forbidden to be made up of any members of the old ruling House.
The Coven chooses thirteen contestants. The contestants are called a Convocation. The contestants may include members of the most recent ruling House, the Warders or their families, and any other Cymry deemed suitable for ruling the land. A person may not nominate themselves to the Convocation.
The Convocation is led to the Cylcharcanus where each performs the raising of the bridge (see the Ddrychafael ritual below) and, if they pass the Trial of Water, they cross to the cylch and take a seat on the Heartstone, aka the Seat Perilous. They are required to make a small cut on their hand and shed their blood into the depression where the Scepter of Destiny used to stand. If they are accepted, the glow from the cylch stones increases and there is a sound as if the very stones of the cylch are singing. Some have likened it to the ringing of the great war bells in the watchtowers of the land.
For those not acceptable as the next ruler, the glow from the stones dim, and there is no sound. In very rare instances, although it has occurred, the contestant simply disappears while seated on the Heartstone, hence its other name, Seat Perilous.
The ritual for the Ddrychafael and The Quickening are the same and are performed at the same time unless the ritual is to create a new Ryndar due to the death or loss of a serving Ryndar.
The Ddyrchafael requires a quorum of thirteen to witness and attest that it was performed properly and that all of the elements and requirements are met. Under normal circumstances, the Coven consists of the Warders of the Marches, the Seneschal of Cymeria, the Rytsar (if still living) and five randomly selected members of the High Council. This can vary depending on availability. The Rytsar normally acts as the Warchdwr (the guardian or head of the coven). Others may be invited to attend the Ddyrchafael, but they are not considered as witnesses or part of the coven.
Everyone assembles in the Cavern of Light. The man or woman selected to officiate (usually the former Ryndar) will have already crossed to the Cylcharcanus and is waiting beside the Heartstone.
Note: As the ritual is virtually the same for Warders, we will only reference the High Lord’s Ddyrchafael at this time. The Heir or Heir refers to the High Lord from this point forward.
Trial of Water
The first requirement is to be able to raise the submerged stone bridge and cross the lake to the Cylcharcanus. This serves as an arcane validation that the person beginning the ritual is acceptable to the Land and may continue.
The Heir steps to the fountain that springs from an upright plinth next to the steps leading into the lake. He takes the cup and drinks the water then dips his fingers into the fountain and sprinkles drops of water in the lake and on the cavern’s floor for the Four Winds, the spirits of the hollow hills and in honor of those that have Crossed. If the submerged bridge rises to connect the main cavern with the lake’s island, then he is accepted as the one confirmed and may cross to the Cylcharcanus. The bridge then submerges.
The chosen Ryndar follows the same ritual as the Heir. If he or she is acceptable, the bridge is again raised, and they follow the Heir to the island. The Heir takes his seat on the Heartstone and the Ryndar takes up a stance to the left, the Warchdwr is behind the Heartstone (plinth).
Confirmation of the Heir
To confirm an Heir to Cymeria or an Heir to the March, at least one parent and one guardian accompany the child to the Cavern of Light. The High Lord or his regent is seated on the Heartstone and witnesses the confirmation. The parent takes the cup of water and drinks, then sprinkles four drops of water on the baby’s or child’s head before spilling drops of water for the Four Winds. If the bridge rises, the Heir is confirmed.
Trial of Blood
In the past, the Heir would rest his right hand in the hand-shaped depression made for it on the plinth to absorb the Land’s chalon (spirit, force, essence). He would present his left hand to the future Ryndar who makes a shallow cut in the palm of the Heir’s left hand with his dagger. The Heir then allows a few drops of his blood to flow into the hand-shaped depression made for the left hand. This is the only time that a blood sacrifice may be performed by another.
The Heir then takes the dagger and makes a small incision in the Ryndar’s palm. The Ryndar allows a few drops of his/her blood to mingle with the High Lord’s in the depression.
In 3539, this part of the ritual changed due to actions by the former High Lord.
At his Crossing, High Lord Kimber Stormdanovich arcanely impaled the point of the House’s great sword of state, Heddwch (Peace) into the depression made for the left hand of whoever is seated on the Heartstone. The stone immediately closed around the blade and even the most arcanely skilled Cymry has been unable to free it.
Note: In Cymry belief, energy flows in through the right hand and out through the left. So the Land’s Chalon (spirit, essence, force) flows into the High Lord through his right hand where it rests in the depression on the Heartstone, mingles with his Chalon and flows out through his left hand back into the land.
Seeing this as something of a challenge from his father, Mikhael Stormdanovich waved away the dagger and, instead, slid the palm of his hand along the exposed part of Heddwch’s blade allowing his blood to flow along its length where it was absorbed by the Heartstone. The stones of the cylch chimed so loudly it was heard above ground and throughout the hold of Caer Arcanus. Legends now say the High Lord’s Ddyrchafael was heard throughout Cymeria and that the battle bells answered in kind.
The stones continued to ring as Hawke Windwalker followed, kneeling in front of the Heartstone and allowing his hand to slide down Heddwch’s blade where his blood mingled with Mikhael’s in the shallow hand depression before being absorbed by the Heartstone.
Trial of Fire (Quickening)
There is one final step for a Ryndar. She or he then stands and steps back. The newly minted High Lord stands up so the Ryndar can be seated on the Heartstone which represents both Cymeria and the ruling March (there is an outline of the map of Cymeria embedded in the flat surface of the plinth. Within that is the outline of the map of the ruling March.
The Ryndar takes the seat and this time the High Lord kneels and rests his right hand on the Heartstone. The High Lord says the word, a word known only to him as it is literally rendered to him during his ascension. A bright flash of fiery light envelopes him and the seated Ryndar. When it gradually fades, the Quickening is complete.
Fifteen hundred years ago, after the fall of the Tsarimova, Matvei Azarov sought a way to prevent such a misuse of Cymry powers from ever happening again. His solution was the Quickening, an arcane ritual that instills Cymry powers in a non-Cymry. The theory is that the Quickened man or woman is then a counter-balance to the High Lord, preventing them from misusing their abilities and giving the Ryndar the arcane means of defeating them and to withstand their powers. It also creates a faint psychic link that gives both High Lord and Ryndar a general sense of one another’s whereabouts and well-being.
The Ryndar is given the same level of arcane knowledge and experience as the High Lord he or she serves. This does not mean that they cannot be defeated by the High Lord nor is it a given that the Ryndar can survive the full onslaught of a High Lord’s powers.
The Quickening is designed to fade after the demise of the High Lord.
There are a few Cymry, mainly those that would like to see House Stormdanovich overthrown, that are experimenting with the Quickening to see if the powers can be arcanely gifted to those not in line to be a Ryndar.
High Lady’s Ddyrchafael
If the High Lord is married before his Ddyrchafael, the High Lady follows the same steps as the Ryndar and is confirmed in her right to rule should something happen to the High Lord and their Heir be underage or not yet born. If she is Cymry, she will not be required to go through the Trial of Fire.
If the High Lord marries after his ascension, then the High Lady must undergo the full Ddyrchafael before entering the marriage bed for the first time. This appears to only be a formality as more than one High Couple has engaged in premarital relations with no harm to the succession.
A spouse or High Lady is only Quickened if she is not Cymry by birth. The Quickening must be done prior the marriage being consummated as this ritual does have an arcane effect on the woman. It releases an arcane potential within her so that her children will be born with the Cymry traits and powers. Presumably, it also sets a low-level of arcane ability in her so that she can rule in her husband’s stead as needed or serve as regent for the Heir.
Cylcharcanus is the massive circle of capped standing stones that rest on an island in the center of a vast underground lake in the Cavern of Light. There is no evidence that the cylch was built. Instead, it seems to have literally grown out of the rock that it rests on.
The outer ring consists of a ring of standing stones topped with massive capstones. Like the menhirs, the capstones seem to be part of the standing stones they rest upon. Just inside the main ring is a circle of smaller uprights with flat surfaces that have shallow depressions meant for some to sit in. Inside this ring of seating stones is an inner circle of six trilithons (two standing stones and a capstone). Just to the inside of the Trilithon Circle are more seating stones, three in front of each trilithon. Toward the rear of this inner circle of stones, set in front of the back trilithon, is a massive rectangular stone plinth. It is slightly higher than the seating stones.
Each trilithon represents one of Cymeria’s marches. The march is indicated by an outline of its borders carved into the inner and outer face of each capstone. The plinth represents Cymeria and the ruling march. There is an outline of the borders of Cymeria carved into the table of the plinth and within that outline is the outline of the ruling march.
The plinth itself serves as the Throne of Cymeria and is known as the Heartstone. It is also known as the Seat Perilous since it tends to make anyone that does not have the right to be seated there vanish. On the table surface of the Heartstone are three shallow depressions, the center one is made to cup the thighs and buttocks of a seated person. The right and left are formed for hands to rest in.
This is an example of the Warding Ritual that Mikhael Stormdanovich created. Although the core elements are the same, each ritual is unique as it is created by the user once that part of their training has been completed. Most Cymry are given a set of wards as a gift from their teacher, but many make their own and find a Derwydd to arcanely charge them. The wards also have to be arcanely bonded to the user. The wards are as unique as the ritual.
Mikhael’s wards consist of four black onyx cubes and four pure white quartz cubes. They are slightly smaller than playing dice. He keeps them in a small wooden box that is carried inside a padded velvet bag. His wards were a gift from Ynella and Riordan Penhallow and are quite ancient. In case he is creating the wards on a hard surface, he also has small bags of white and black salt in the velvet bag.
Mikhael’s ritual varies slightly depending on where he is. If he is outside and the land is conducive, he uses his sword to inscribe a four-pointed star in the soil. If he is warding a hard surface, he uses water to draw the four-pointed star, then sprinkles the outline with the white and black salt.
Next, he takes the four white cubes and carries them to each of the four points, naming them as he sets them carefully on each point, “Ddaear (earth), Tân (fire), Aer (air), Dŵr (water).” He then takes the four black cubes, setting each one next to its white counterpart, he names them for the Four Winds, “Boreas (north), Notus (south), Eurus (east), Zephyrus (west).”
The next part requires that Mikhael call on his arcane abilities. It is tricky merging each element with its associated Anemoi. In reverse order, starting at the western point, Mikhael picks up the two cubes. If it is dark, they can be seen to glow faintly with an inner light. Taking a deep breath to center himself, he clicks the two cubes together and says,
West: “Zephyrus, protect us from all dark elements of water.”
There is an audible chime, and the cubes merge into a single oblong with a bright flare of blue light. Each half, one black, one white, glows faintly blue. Mikhael repeats these steps in the following order…
East: “Eurus, protect us from all dark elements of the air.”
South: “Notus, protect from the dark elements of fire.”
North: “Boreas, protect us from all the dark elements of earth.”
Mikhael returns to the center of the star, lifts his sword, and turning slowly, he points its tip at each of the points of the star.
“Boreas, Notus, Eurus, Zephyrus, guard us against all that which roams the Abyss.”
As he dips the sword’s point toward each glowing ward, a column of light, barely discernable, springs up from the cubes, bending and merging above the center of the star.
To dispel the wards, Mikhael walks the star in reverse and touches the point of his sword to the cubes. They separate with an audible click.