Friday Lore Post: Companions

The companion system in Kyaine is an entrenched, important part of their culture. Almost all noble children have a companion starting at the age of seven or eight, someone who will stay with them at least until adulthood if not longer. Companions are drawn from non-noble classes and families, which moves them up in society to a far greater degree than they could have on their own—being a companion is a form of nobility in itself.

For all its near-central importance in Kyainese noble life, the companion system dates back only about seven hundred years, to just after the unification of the south under Kyainese rule. The relevant king here is Hubert DiCauro III, the son of King Heinrich, who presided over the invasion of Hechan in the east. Hubert did not invent the companion system out of the air, however. He was modifying a much older tradition that had existed not only in the south but in most of Menechit for centuries longer: that of the whipping boy.

Whipping boys (or girls) had existed across Menechit for as far back as anyone could remember, but were a particularly persistent tradition in the south. As the name implies, these were children who would be put together with noble children to be their friends and companions, but who would be whipped or otherwise punished in the noble child’s place for misbehaviour, to encourage good behaviour and hopefully a sense of compassion. Whether or not this was effective is in question, but either way the practice no longer exists.

The tradition of whipping boys and girls had been steadily fading in the rest of Menechit since the Flame Wars, as it was a practice that the settlers from the north found distasteful, and was used as an excuse for conflict against native Menechite nobility. The final nail in the coffin of the whipping boy in the north was the absorption of Porean and the ongoing rhetoric about slavery, during which it was decided that the practice must be abolished, because otherwise the rest of Dolovai’s resistance to slavery was considered hypocritical. And so the practice was abolished in the north.

In the south, however, the practice continued, and continued to remain controversial for the three hundred or so years. Finally, King Hubert III, having grown up close to his whipping boy and having taken very poorly to him being sent away, as was the custom, decided he wasn’t going to put his own children through that, and made whipping boys illegal across the nation. He did, however, want his children to have a close friend such as he’d had growing up, so he still found for them friends, and the other nobility followed suit. Companions aren’t a legally-mandated class of people in Kyaine at this historical period of any other, but steadily become commonplace for nobility over the course of the next three generations.

To this day, nobility across Kyaine acquire companions for their children, generally around the age of seven, sometimes younger in the east. Ech’kent never adopted the tradition, seeing it as the extension of slavery, a practice also never performed there. In the far south, where a form of slavery does remain legal, it is illegal for enslaved children or the children of enslaved adults to be made companions to nobility. Generally speaking, however, across the nation, companions are chosen from the children of reasonably affluent people, such as merchants or scribes or priests. The children of people who would be the most likely to be in contact with nobility tend to be selected, and in many cases the two children are already friends.

Companions are close in all capacities growing up, learning everything together, with the idea being that the noble child will have a friend and confidant, and the companion will be educated and be able to enter into higher-class society upon adulthood. Because Kyainese culture generally expects adolescents to experiment with same-sex sex between friends, companions are generally expected to be sex partners as well. This is not required, of course, but it’s considered the natural state of events when it does happen. Companions rarely marry each other, especially because nobility are usually in arranged marriages, so even though they might often want to, it’s not generally permitted, generally to great angst.

Many companions remain together upon reaching adulthood, but the sexual component falls away for most of them as they marry and become romantically and sexually involved with other people. It is not uncommon, however, for companions to separate as adults, or perhaps remain friends but not live together. The benefits of companionship are generally as advertised and most of the time a companion to a noble does end up in a high-ranking position.

On rare occasions when the relationship doesn’t work out, it isn’t a legal agreement so the two people in question can simply ask to be separated, as usually they are still children when they’re together. This is a serious decision, but it is made sometimes when companions simply find they can’t live together. There is, however, a legal protection that companions’ parents can’t forcibly separate the two without their consent.

There is some criticism of the companion system in Kyaine today, with various people calling for it to be abolished as it is unethical to separate a child from his or her parents, regardless of what the benefit is to them. This has not yet gone very far, and most people don’t expect it to. This is especially notable in border regions, and part of the reason why this isn’t likely to go anywhere is because the companion system is a cultural marker that separates Kyaine from Dolovai, and is therefore treated as an integral part of Kyainese culture.

Unlikely to go anywhere in the near future, the companion system in Kyaine is unlike anything else in the world. Though whipping boys do still exist in some places in the east and nobility everywhere might be close with servants or have friends, nowhere else is there a formalized system similar to the companion system. It is a unique part of Kyainese culture, and when they say that it’s something integral to their identity, they are, if perhaps in exaggeration, telling the truth.

Excerpts from “The Social Institutions of Our Time, Modern Edition,” by Moira Marksadder, published at the Academy for Magecraft in Three Hills, DN 1954.

14 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: Companions

  1. What if the companions were all shuffled around? A Neville and Boey swap seems the most obvious. Well other than the obvious repercussion that without Neville there to go on a murderspree Franz’s family might survive. I can’t really see Boey doing any of the stuff Neville did.

    Actually, I like the idea of Boey and Franz falling for eachother, even if they’re not assigned as eachother’s companions and trying to arrange a swap. Mostly because I like their relationship, and am sad they’re growing apart, and I really don’t want Boey and Hector to work out.

    I want Boey to have a string of messy relationships that keep failing because he and Franz are SOULMATES


    1. I think it’s definitely true that if Neville and Boey were swapped everything would have gone a lot differently–because Boey would have probably talked Stephan out of staging the coup in the first place, rather than helping him make it more violent.

      I do kind of like Boey and Franz falling for each other regardless of who they’re paired with. I do agree that it’s kind of sad that they’ve been drifting apart a little. But if Boey and Hector don’t work out and then Boey’s relationships all end up failing, he’s just going to be sad because Franz will have Gabrielle and he won’t have anyone else!


      1. They were together for most of their lives. It makes me really sad that Franz and Boey have been actively trying to build separate lives without splitting up and move their relationship on to what their society tells them it should be. Instead of deciding “hey, let’s make this work.” Because they could make it work.

        Franz wouldn’t be willing to marry without Boey to push him into it.


        1. I mean, they are trying to make it work in a way that won’t end up with Franz having to get divorced or being having to be lonely. I think it’ll work out.

          Franz definitely wouldn’t have been willing to marry without Boey’s push, but at the same time, he’d have done it anyway, because his parents were making him. 🙂


  2. Thinking of companions and whipping boys AU, where what if Solomon got Sam a companion/whipping boy?

    My two candidates for that are grabbing Henry for the dual purpose of being Sam’s companion (saddle him onto the most useless son) and being a hostage to keep the Arkhewers in line.

    Or purchasing Daniel as a slave and then giving him to Sam because sure that’s a thing you can do as an evil overlord. Give your blind son a guideslave. I do really like the Daniel/Sam interaction of their previous fics. It’s one of my favourite swaps!

    The other person I’d be curious about is what if Neville ended up as Sam’s companion, because Neville is suitably stabby murdery sketchy to fit right in. And he could definitely help with getting rid of Solomon.

    Or even what if Solomon sent Sam a boy instead of a girl for his first time. Perhaps with the intention of humiliating him.

    AU where Baker, Dragon, Dinner, and Demon, are actually the real chosen ones.

    My five second search says domestic chickens eat centipedes. SO! What if there needs to be a quest to find a chicken to eat Scott? Maybe someone needs to summon it? Maybe the humans are too stupid to understand.


    1. I do think that grabbing Sam a companion/whipping boy (with emphasis on the latter…) is definitely a very Solomon thing to do, haha. Henry would make the most sense but I do kind of like Daniel for it, just because Daniel and Sam hanging out has always been a good combo in the past–I think they’re my favourite of the character swaps as well.

      Neville would probably have made a good companion for Sam; you’re right that he’s just sketchy enough for it, and would definitely have helped Sam ditch Solomon (in a ditch), I think. 😀

      Solomon noticing that Sam likes boys and giving him a boy…or not noticing that he likes boys and giving him a boy…would be super interesting. I feel like Sam would be suitably humiliated…but would ultimately be much more into it than he was the girls.

      Now that’s a Chosen One AU that I think we can all get behind!

      I feel like as terrifying as a monster chicken that can eat Scott would be, it’s almost scarier if it’s just a normal chicken.


      1. Giving Sam a boy would have made more sense since Solomon didn’t want Sam to have kids. Unless he suspected that Sam prefers boys, which is why he only sent girls, and also why he threatened him with the guard. Not that he had anything against Sam liking boys I bet, he was undoubtedly just playing mindgames. (That’s also sexual abuse what Solomon did.)

        With a whipping boy I suspect someone would have to tell Sam he’s not meant to do the whipping himself. Although knowing Sam’s inclinations the whipping boy would end up whipping him. I can see that most with Sam and Neville for some reason. Daniel’s not all that into sex and doesn’t seem the kinky whipping type. Henry’d do it too of course.

        Yes. A totally normal chicken. That eats centipedes. And somehow manages to accidentally become the chosen one. It’s not special in any way. It’s just a chicken. But it keeps triggering things that help save the world. Like Pax spots it, and runs away in terror, only for him to crash into a lantern, which sets a fire, which destroys a church full of centipedes, which is totally the chicken’s fault, and yet not. Or it crows one morning, and wakes Gavin up in time so he and Owen can stop some assassins!


        1. Oh, it was definitely just mind games. Solomon was bisexual, so Sam liking boys wouldn’t have been a problem for him. 😀 What Solomon did was definitely sexual abuse, which I think is super interesting to be honest, because Sam is insistent that he was never sexually assaulted as a child, but Solomon forcing people on him and expecting Sam to sexually perform is definitely, definitely abuse.

          I do think the point of a whipping boy would be slightly lost on Sam, because other people’s pain doesn’t upset him and in fact pleases him. I do think Neville would be a good help with that–if Neville had been there from Sam’s childhood, Sam wouldn’t have needed so long to get used to what his own proclivities were deep down. 😉 Daniel’s not that into sex, but he does kind of like hitting people, or he would if he got a chance to do it.

          That chicken might just be the chosen one after all! Isaac will be pleased to hear it!


          1. Solomon also threatening to give him to a guard, definitely. And, Sam being aware of Solomon’s abuses and how disposable people were to him.

            What if Daniel was sent to kill the witch? That’s one I just can’t even imagine. I’m picturing that one just ending up with Daniel getting raised by the rest of James’ family, as opposed to any sort of relationship with James himself.


            1. That’s definitely part of it too–Sam lived under threat of rape growing up, because he could never be sure that his father was “only” bluffing.

              I do think that if Daniel ended up with James, he’d just end up a ward of the family to be honest. I can’t see him and James getting together or even getting along overly. Daniel might like Jay, though. Hard to say!


  3. Hah, I fell behind on lore posts, but… I should have known! The companions are whipping boys!

    From the beginning of Franz’s series I was enjoying the parallels between the companion system and what was going on with Micha over in the drafts of his story. People even sometimes call Micha the prince’s “companion” when they want to be polite. No coincidence at all, looks like. Kyaine just ditched some of the extraneous components, like whipping, and kept the kissing.

    Although, it’s likely only a matter of time before a king of Mekham is sufficiently traumatized by the whole abusive institution that he pulls a Hubert. It’s an awful thing to do to a child, and the whipping boy doesn’t have a great time either. At least they don’t send them away, that’s just cruel.


    1. It’s easy to fall behind, haha, there’s so many of them!

      But yes, you should indeed have known! There are a lot of parallels between Micha’s story and how I imagine someone like Boey was brought up, though there was less hitting, haha. No coincidence at all, but clearly they decided in Kyaine that whipping boys kissing their princes was at least 75% of the point and got rid of the extraneous whipping to let them have more time for that! 😀

      It does seem like it’s only a matter of time; at least one monarch has to have that humanity in him, I should hope. Maybe Ram will be the one! Or maybe one of his descendants, either way, I’ll wait. But yeah, at least in Mekham they don’t turn around and send them away after they’re too old to whip. No wonder Hubert did away with the institution.



  4. Yes, the old Kyainese made it much easier for Hubert to see how sucky it was. Dumb move if you want your institutions to persist! Got to keep the redeeming qualities obvious and hope no one notices they could just have them on their own. Ram might be a good candidate, but right now he’s high on the benefits, so we’ll see. His uncle Ramos might actually have been a decent bet, but alas.

    Anyway, Franz and Boey are near and dear to me, and the whole companion dynamic makes everything we see in Kyaine a lot of fun, so I’m glad Hubert kept that part. 😀


    1. Yeah, they really fucked that one up! They could really have learned from northern Dolovai, doing such a good job of insisting that slavery is both necessary and beneficial while ignoring that all the necessary and beneficial parts of it could easily exist in absence of collars.

      It does seem like we’d need a king who maybe doesn’t benefit as much from a whipping boy being around…Ram is not only getting kisses, but Micha is making his life better. Clearly proving that whipping boys are a good and helpful institution.

      I’m glad Hubert kept that part too! Franz and Boey’s relationship is pretty special to me, and the companion system really makes Kyainese politics interesting imo, so good for Hubert!



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