Primary Source of Income: Ale, Whiskey, Horses
The territory of Bentl lies in the southeastern most corner of Prentil and consists primarily of flat grass lands of rich, fertile soil. The land is crisscrossed by streams and rivers providing natural irrigation for the seemingly endless seas of grasses and grains. The region is also known as The Red Plains – named for the reddish hue of the wheat that is grown in the area.
Unlike the other major provinces of Prentil, Bentl does not boast a large central city. Mostly comprised of farmers, brewers and distillers, the people of Bentl live on farms clustered into small towns that are spread throughout the vast plains. Primarily, the Bentlans farm wheat, grain, barley, and rye – all ingredients necessary in the production of their renowned ales and whiskeys. They also grow grasses and oats and other grains for trade and feed.
Bentlan is famous for its whiskeys and ales, and these fine beverages can be found in most taverns and inns throughout the land of Prentil. Recipes are closely guarded family secrets that are passed down from generation to generation, and are often used as dowries to secure marriages within the brewing families. There is strong but friendly competition between the brewing and distilling families, and there are several contests each year throughout the land of Bentl. So many that preparing for and participating in the competitions is often a full time occupation for one or more family members. On the western most border of Bentl there is a very large inn and tavern known as The Red Barrel which boasts to have served every ale and whiskey ever casked in Bentl. The Red Barrel is built atop an incredibly large cavern where they store their thousands of casks of whiskey and barrels of ale. At the far end of the cavern is a massive underwater lake and in the center of the lake lies the tip of an ancient iceberg. This iceberg keeps the cavern cold so that the stored whiskeys and ales are kept fresh for ages, and ice chipped from the burg can be added to any drink for a small fee. Travelers from all over Prentil visit the inn, often for extended stays, just to sample the tavern’s endless varieties of drink.
Unlike most of the peoples of Prentil who either bury their dead or throw them into the sea, Bentlans burn their dead. The ashes are then collected and saved for the following year’s spring planting. When the seeds are planted, the ashes of the dead of sprinkled among the crops. Then in the fall, when the crops are harvested and the new batches of ale and whiskey are brewed, the Harvest Celebration is held. The families and neighbors gather and drink and tell stories of the people who had passed the prior year and those of years long passed. It became customary for folks to dress as their deceased ancestors and tell tales of their deeds in the first person. This practice evolved over time and now it is common for many of the younger folk to dress like ghosts and ghouls and tell scary stories during the Harvest Festival.
Besides being renowned throughout the land for their delicious ales and whiskeys, the Bentlan people also train and sell the world’s finest horses, hawks and dogs. Within the people of Bentl are a special group of individuals with a rare gift known as the Porr. This gift allows them to communicate with animals. Those with this gift are known as the Porro. Each Porro can communicate with only one species of animal and will develop a special bond with a particular animal of that type. Bonded animals are known as Porran. The Porro will have the ability to control and train animals of their particular species, but the bond between the Porro and Porran is special and the communication is often very deep. This communication can be best described as a feeling like a subconscious instinct or a strong emotion. A directive or sensation or emotion can be passed between the Porro and their Porran. The effective range, intensity level, and clarity of this communication varies from species to species of Porran. For example, a wolf Porran patrolling within 100 yards of its Porro can relay a very clear sense of danger or safety level, whereas the sensations from a hawk Porran can be carried over miles but are far less specific. The strength and clarity of bond and communication also varies in each individual Porro. There have been cases reported where the Porro claimed to be able to see through their Porran’s eyes, hear through their ears, and taste the blood of the kill on their lips.
No one knows why some are given the Porr and some are not, but as far as anyone knows, it has always been limited to the people of Bentl. It does not appear to be hereditary. Over the years Porro would often be mated with other Porro in an attempt to increase their numbers, but no correlation could ever be made between the Porr and particular bloodlines, so this practice has faded to relative non-existence.
On the eve of the summer eclipse, which occurs every year on the last day of summer, all children that have reached the age of twelve are taken to a gathering place for their local town. Here they are presented before local Porro and Porran. The Porran can instantly tell if the child presented before them is Porro to their species. If the child is Porro, they and their family are invited to a great feast and celebration. After the feast, the children would venture out into the darkness of the eclipse with the Porro that identified them and would return soon thereafter with their own Porran.
There have been reports of Porr bonds between all kinds of strange animals including frogs, turtles, fish, squirrels and chickens, but the most common Porran are horse, hawk, dog, wolf, serpent, cougar and bear.
The most renowned of all the Porro are the Horse Porro. Horse Porro excel at training horses of any type, and a Porro trained horse will sell for an impressive fee. Most impressive of all Porro trained horses are the battle trained destriers. These massive and magnificent beasts are taught from birth to fight and defend their riders during the most violent of confrontations. They will never flinch from the noise of battle or the smell of blood, and will often react more quickly and precisely than any soldier could on their own. These special beasts are seldom sold at market. The preferred method of sale requires the purchaser to travel to Bentl and stay with the Porro trainer for up to a full year. With the aid of his Porran, the trainer will select the perfect horse for the purchaser and then will work with them daily to establish the perfect bond between soldier and battle mount.
There are many throughout Prentil who feel that the Porr is an unnatural, and therefore magical, phenomenon and should be outlawed with all other magics. But, the primary enforcers of these laws are the Knights of Vridhan, and a Knight of Vridhan would not be caught dead without their Porro trained battle steed, so the Porro are generally left alone provided they stay tucked away in their little corner of Prentil.
In general, the Bentlans lead peaceful and simple lives. Most Bentlans worship Bentlorian, the god of beasts and animals, and many also worship Bentlorian’s father Roggo, the god of the land. But their idea of worship is simply to care for their land, to grow good crops, and to keep peace with the animals in the world around them. They seldom participate in tithing rituals or any other form of organized religion, and there are no clergy firmly established in Bentl. Bentlans are a friendly people and will always welcome travelers to their hearth and home, and of course, to share a mug or a glass of the family’s finest.