The icy wasteland that has taken over the region can freeze most creatures within days without the correct protection. Covered in snow and ice and creatures that rip with teeth and claws, it is a beautiful place of death.
The Ice people follow laws of their own choosing, following whatever leader they please. Many have no respect, even for the creatures that are more dangerous then themselves. Many of the Ice people tend to be slightly arrogant because most of them know that their icy wasteland is one of the places that the Corrupted and Horror avoid unless searching out and actively hunting a Pure, a creature who is as likely to survive the harsh climate as an unprotected babe.
Cultural, Spiritual, and Social PracticeEdit
Their society is made of many tribes and clans, spread across hundreds of small villages, each with their own peculiarities and customs; some recognize chieftains, and others exist in a perpetual state of conflict, warring against each other and themselves. The free folk place importance in a man keeping his word above all else.
Most free folk don't place most stalk in technology. They are harsh people who live in harsh lands, although some are reasonably cultured, such as the Thenn people who live in tightly knit communities in the far north, or the people of Milan, which is the closest place the free folk have to a city.Some are semi-nomadic loners, held down only by their own needs. Raiders from the Frozen Shore or the more savage clans of the ice-river feed on the flesh of other men. Their are even cave dwellers that dye their faces blue, purple and green. There is very little in the way of law or property rights in the lands of the free folk. They take what they can and keep what they can defend and have little interest in marriage. The free folk keep to the ways of the First Men, and though there are many languages beyond the Wall the Old Tongue of the First Men is the most common one.
In keeping with the spirit of free folk independence, women are welcome to take up arms and fight alongside men. Such women are called spearwives, and are known to be every bit as skilled and ferocious as their male counterparts.
In marriage, the men are expected to be quite forceful with women, going so far as stealing them from their home or clan. The women, in turn, are expected to put up a fight every step of the way. It is believed that a true man will steal a woman from afar to strengthen the clan. Men must steal daughters, but not wives of other men. When the red wanderer is within the Moonmaid, it is considered a propitious time for a man to steal a woman. While it may seem different from the idealized courtly love of other places, at its core it establishes a male's strength and determination, as well as a female's independence and ability to defend herself.
Because infant mortality is common in the harsh environment Beyond the Wall, it is believed to be bad luck to name a child before he or she reaches two years of age. A temporary milk name or nickname can be given to a child prior to the official naming.
Women who wed brothers, fathers, or clan kin are believed to offend the gods, and are cursed with weak and sickly children.
Raiding south of the Wall is a large part of free folk culture. Raiders start at a young age, as little as twelve years. Raiders either climb the Wall. Climbing the height of the Wall is an exercise that can take most of a day and rangers often find the broken bodies of those who have fallen.
To climb the Wall, the free folk use the aid of huge ladders of woven hemp, boots of supple doeskin spiked with iron, bronze, or jagged bone, small stone-headed hammers, stakes of iron and bone and horn, and antlers with sharpened tines bound to wooden hafts with strips of hide serving as ice axes.
Raiders cross the Wall to steal swords and axes, spices, silks, furs, and any valuables they can find. They are known to take women in any season to carry them off beyond the Wall.
The free folk do not mine nor smelt and there are few smiths and fewer forges north of the Wall; the only metal armor that they wear are bits and pieces looted. Most will wear boiled leather or sewn sheepskins and use crude round shields of skin stretched over wicker, painting them with figures such as skulls and bones, serpents, bear claws, twisted demonic faces, and severed heads.
The Thenns are more well-armed and armored than most free folk, with bronze helms, axes, short stabbing spears with leaf-shaped heads, shirts sewn with bronze discs, and plain unadorned shields of black boiled leather with bronze rims and bosses.
Free folk horses are surefooted, but scarce.
In the city of Lower Millan it is vastly different from the world above. They are surrounded by learning, have class and poise, and distinct customs much like that of the old world.