The arvyad'gno, or "Venture of Fate", is the Burghal gnome coming of age at 17.
The Withycombe emphasis on tinkering is displayed in this version of the arvyad'gno. Each gnome is left alone in a room empty with a burlap bag. Using the tools in the tool belt that they have been filling as they gain skill in their craft, and their native wit, the gnomes must assemble something from the parts and pieces found within in the bag. Some suggest that the items vary, while others insist that every burghal gnome since the days of Sjandor Withycombe has assembled the same item. Those who go through the task never tell what it was they make, but many have revealed that words etched on the metal pieces served as clues to the order of assembly, as they come together to form a common Withycombe phrase.
Gnomes who successfully complete the arvyad'gno receive the title of journeyman and are free to pursue their craft. Journeymen typically work for dozens of years, until they have accumulated the experience and capital necessary to buy out a retiring master. Gnomes who fail to complete the arvyad'gno in the allotted time bear the stigma for all of their days. They rarely rise to positions of authority, and they usually perform only menial tasks within the burghal gnome community.
At the end of the ceremony, both successful and unsuccessful applicants are marked with their own blood as a sign of adult membership in the bloodline. Withycombe gnomes, many of whom choose to tattoo the bloodmark into their skin, bear a sign of two straight lines with a diamond at either side.
In the Winedotter version of the ceremony, members from the extended family gather for an elaborate seven-course meal. The adolescent undergoing the rite must serve the guests with dignity and grace, observing all of the proprieties of Nalfein manners. The most difficult moment comes during the exquisitely formal interlude of wine tasting known as the Seven Sips. The challenge lies in circling the table with each vintage in a timely manner, so that the next round is poured before the last has been finished, while giving each guest an opportunity to accept or refuse each libation. The candidate's success or failure is judged by the diners, who never let the wine dull their scrutiny. Upon successful completion of the arvyad'gno, the Winedotter gnome is admitted to the "Upstairs Staff": they are provided formal wear (cut in the latest elven fashion and embroidered with the coat of arms of their host family) and assigned nightly duties in the elven mansion. Gnomes who fail the arvyad'gno are assigned tasks within the family compound, and they become eligible to re-take the challenge on their next birthday. Regardless of their success they receive the bloodmark of their clan: three vertical lines (signifying an arbor) topped with a leafy grapevine.
A Winedotter arvyad'gno prayer is:
Knapkin folded like a swan:
Please don’t let me fail!
The Aledotter ceremony involves running away from home to see the world. Those gnomes who return are initiated with a bloodmark of three vertical lines crossed by a horizontal sword, signifying that they are NOT Winedotter gnomes.
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