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Varushkan children are treasured, but they are also a source of constant worry to their parents. They are often naive, and their innocence of the dangers and rules of Varushkan life can bring harm not only to themselves but to their families. In a land where harsh winters can sometimes mean shortages of food, another mouth to feed can be a blessing but also a burden.

There are many sovereigns and Winter eternals who desire children for their own purposes, and stories tell of the bargains they strike with unscrupulous or desperate parents in return for their offspring. There are also monsters who feast on children, or who carry them off as servants and entertainment. Some of these children are twisted by their captors and returned to prey on their parents in turn.

Children are often dressed in bright clothing to make it easier to spot them against the dark wood of the Varushkan forests. Innocence is a powerful protection in Varushka. They are taught to stay close to adults who can protect them from the dangers of Varushkan life. They are expected from an early age to help with chores such as cooking and cleaning. It is impossible to keep them in sight at all times however, and it is assumed that a child who is not being watched is getting up to mischief.

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Costumes and photography by Sarah Loughlin

Varushkan children are taught a powerful warding that draws on its owner’s innocence and fear. By presenting the talisman boldly in front of them a young child can turn dark creatures aside, keeping them safe. Unfortunately this protection extends only to the child themself; the parents and older siblings are fair game for the monsters of Varushka. The power of the talisman wanes as a child ages and most children find them useless long before they reach their majority.

Things every child should know

  • Don't trust strangers. Danger can take pleasing forms in Varushka, do not trust people you do not know.
  • Listen to your elders. They can teach you wisdom which will protect you from the dangers of the wilds.
  • Use your wits first and your talisman last. It will only work so many times, so save it for when you really need it.
  • Stay alert. Look for things that are out of place and warn the adults about them.
  • Don't cry wolf unless it is for real. Those who pretend danger is coming will not be listened to when it comes for real, and then everyone suffers.