The Seeker

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The Seeker

Post by MurkTheJerk » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:50 pm

Part 1 : A Meeting With Elders

The northern wind whipped the heavy, Kavah-pelt cloak of the Voraathi Warrior as he looked across the tundra with glimmering golden eyes. Kraagrif, son of Thangir, son of Wyrhaald, called the Seeker by the shamans of his people watched the three groups of figures approaching along the Zodasian road to Kasiq. At the head of the three groups – each a Voraathi demon-killing tribe – were the elders of his people.

Djingor, son of Fyrr, son of Thrask of the Snow Spears, or Traas Jahkara; Ijyut, son of Akor, son of Naas of the Blood Fists, or Buta Nas; and Agaarth, son of Wyrhaald, son of Naash. The last was the one that was really important to him, though only slightly more than the other two.

Agaarth, the elder of his own tribe, the Gra Kjruuttaii, or War Dancers. Agaarth, his father-brother[1].

As they neared, the Voraath stood straighter, squaring his shoulders and raising his chin. The three war-bands halted, and only the elders and a shaman from each tribe approached. Kraagrif nearly opened his mouth to greet them, however quickly closed it allowing them to address him first, as was proper.

“I see you, Kraagrif of the Gra Kjruuttaii,” first to speak was Ijyut, whose tribe came from the furthest south.

“I see you, Kraagrif of the Gra Kjruuttaii,” second was Djingor, who was the youngest of the elders present.

“I see you, brother-son.” Agaarth spoke informally. That was acceptable from family, and made it clear to the others that they weren’t only of the same tribe, but that they were kin. That wasn’t anything they didn’t already know, but that didn’t make the greeting worth any less.

“I see you, Seeker,” The Shamans spoke in unison. That was unexpected. Normally, they remained silent unless they needed to speak when it came to formal greetings such as this. The young warrior wondered what the meaning of that was. Perhaps it was a matter of reminding him of his duty, and that this task might distance him from it.

“I see you, elders. I see you, honored shamans.”

“You do not have your zuk-naath, Kraagrif. Have you cast it aside, and with it your caution?” Agaarth sounded amused by that thought. Many people thought voraath had no senses of humor, however Kraagrif understood that non-Voraath simply didn’t understand the humor of his people. That didn’t surprise him. Southlanders had terrible senses of humor. He had once been told a knock-knock joke by a wandering priest. Not only did it not make sense, but it wasn’t funny, either.

“I have no caution, elder. I place myself and my shield between great beasts and demons, to protect those who are not as sturdy as our people. “

“There is honor in this,” One of the shamans stated, and the other two bobbed their heads in agreement.

“There is,” Ijyut agreed, “But we are not here to speak on shields, or honor. We are here to speak of war. You and your allies, you have claimed the Black Scepter from Illidania. This was as the shamans asked. So did you fulfill your end of the agreement, we will too. Three war-bands, one of each of our tribes,” Kraagrif had expected that many. It would be foolish to send all of their forces, but three war-bands were enough to lay a siege on a city.
“Why then, do you halt us here, Warrior?” Another shaman asked, “Were we not to march to fight these demons in Kasiq? Were we not to march to purge that city of its filth?” A different shaman asked, pointing north with his gnarled, lashed-skull headed staff.

“We cannot march yet, Shaman. It is not a fight we can win yet.”

Djingor snorted, and tossed his head back, “You insult us, youth? Half our number is enough to fight a city of demons. We can win.”

“Hold, Djingor. Perhaps the young one knows that which we do not,” The third shaman grunted to the elder.

Kraagrif expected this response from Djingor. He knew enough of the warrior-shaman that he expected him to wish to charge into battle, regardless of intelligence that had been gathered by the Hammerspark Heroes. Among the elders that he knew of, Djingor was the youngest at forty five years, and considered rash among the other elders. More than once champions of the Gra Kjruuttaii had needed to face against a champion of the Traas Jahkara over what seemed to be a minor dispute, only because Djingor had felt some slight to his honor. Or, at very least, that was how his father-brother saw it. Kraagrif had seldom been party to those sorts of talks among tribe elders.

“The Ossian Devils that plague Kasiq, they are not normal demons. They do not die when they are slain. Even the magi,” the word spoke with a degree of contempt in Kraagrif’s tone, “Their magic has little lasting effect. Their Radiance has little lasting effect. They die, and then they return to kill again. Further, something has the survivors in Kasiq held in thrall. Not all of the humans there are Sinners, so caution must be exercised.”

“Then what do you suggest be done, Seeker?” one of the shaman’s asked.

All eyes rested on Kraagrif, who closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The bitter cold air felt refreshing in his massive lungs. He had heard the small people complain about that stinging, however that idea was foreign to him. The Warrior took a time to formulate a response, even if he already knew what needed to be done. Grif expected Djingor to protest, and if Djingor dug his heels in too deeply about the way he wanted this to be handled, two things could happen. Firstly, Djingor could lead his people in before the other two tribes. That, Kraagrif expected, would be a slaughter. Second, Djingor could just leave. That would leave the other two tribes without enough warriors present to form an offensive that would be effective, meaning more stalling to try and find more Voraathi warriors willing to fight for this. Even if that was possible, it meant more delay, which meant more time for the enemy to learn their terrain and grow more effective.

“The allies I have gained in Hammerspark Hold intend to move on the source of the Ossian Devils, their… for lack of a better term, ‘core’. I propose we allow them to do just that, while reducing the potential threat to their mission by engaging with the Devils at the same time. We can fight demons. We have the strength, the numbers. We can be their zuk-naath, while they the spear that deals the death blow to the fiends.”

Djingor grunted, and stepped forward, nearing his golden face to Kraagrif’s own, staring him down with his olive gaze. The warrior could smell the bloodvenom on his breath. Most Voraathi did not imbibe enough of the potent liquor to get intoxicated before battle, however the berserkers of the Traas Jahkara were said to drink of it heavily. It was said the bloodvenom fueled their Krondhir-empowered rage, making them some of the deadliest shock troops in the Voraathi tribes.

“Why, then, runt, do we not strike the source ourselves? Have you been away from your people too long, that you would give the glory of victory to dwarves and outlanders?”

“No elder,” Kraagrif said, meeting the furious gaze of the other Voraathi with a level one of his own, “They bring something to that fight that we, as a people, do not possess a great deal of. They bring diversity. They have among them rogues and scoundrels, yes. But they also bring with them Priests and Warlocks, who understand the nature of such things better than even – and no offense is intended by this – our shamans. I believe that they possess a greater chance of success with less risk of casualty. I think not of our glory, elder. I think of the lives of our people.”

“The Seeker speaks wisely, Djingor. I have walked the world, in the Southlands. They have among them knowledgeable scholars. Our perspective, it is as a blade. Deadly as it is, it is narrow. A blade is not needed here,” The Traas Jahkara shaman said to Djingor.

The elder stared Kraagrif down, even after hearing his shaman’s words, and Kraagrif remained steadily matching it, until Djingor eventually snorted and nodded, making a show of turning back towards the rest of the elders by slamming his shoulder into Kraagrif’s own. The younger Voraath ignored the hostility. He didn’t expect that all would agree with going along with this plan of action.

“Djingor, do you intend to break your word? It was agreed that if Kraagrif returned from Illidania with the Black Scepter, then we would lend him men for this cause,” Agaarth watched the elder with a vaguely amused expression on his face, “Would you forget your oath?”

“I would not, Agaarth. I have brought warriors, as have you and Ijyut. I did not agree to waste our time waiting for humans and dwarves to take action.”

“Good. Then shut up and stop your posturing. It makes you look as a child who knows the meaning of honor, but does not understand it,” Agaarth then turned to Ijyut, who had been the quietest of the three elders, “What say you, war-brother? Does this plan suit you and your people?”

Ijyut bowed his head slightly, a reserved nod of agreement, “Kraagrif’s plan is for the best, it seems. However, I do not disagree with Djingor, in that we cannot remain away from our tribes to wait on the humans and dwarves, the outlanders. We have duty here, but we have duty with our people as well. Make sure that the Heroes of Hammerspark know this. Make sure that it is known, too, that we fully intend to take Kasiq, to purge it of evil. Make sure it is known that we will hold it, and if the Humans come to claim it again, we will not hesitate to defend it. That is the price of our service. A city, and the lands around it.”

“It will be known, elder. I will return to them, and let them know.”

The elders each signaled their war-bands to begin setting up camp, as Kraagrif gathered his things from the snow.

“May you find hearth and hold tonight, brother-son,” Agaarth offered Kraagrif as the younger warrior prepared to depart for Hammerspark Hold again, clasping him on the shoulder with a firm grip.

“May you find hearth and hold tonight, Kraagrif son of Thangir, son of Wyrhaald,” Ijuyut mirrored, placing a hand on his chest over one of his hearts.

“May you find hearth and hold tonight, Seeker,” The shamans offered in unison.

“… May hearth and hold be found for you,” Djingor snorted, as he walked away.
The other two chiefs frowned at this response, but said nothing. That farewell was usually reserved for Khaag, exiles, and enemies, and was considered an insult to say to any but these. Kraagrif clenched his jaw. That was a shot at his honor, however responding poorly, even to that manner of insult, would be considered dishonorable. Not responding to it in any way, however, would have been a show of weakness or submission.

Kraagrif weighed his options carefully, considering. It would be poor form to issue a challenge to Djingor here and now, especially given that he was lending the aid of his war-band. Repeating the same insult back to the elder, however, would reflect poorly on him.

“May you find hearth and hold, elders. May you find hearth and hold, honored shamans.”

Ijyut and Agaarth lofted their brows at Kraagrif as he turned to walk away. Djingor grinned, counting that response as a victory for him, a precision strike delivered to the Seeker without any challenge returned to defend his own honor. The elder probably thought that Kraagrif was acting the coward, running away from the situation. Fortunately, for Kraagrif, he had considered his next words carefully, as he walked away a few steps in the direction of Hammerspark Hold.
Kraagrif stopped, and turned his head to look over his shoulder towards Djingor.

“May you find hearth and hold, Djingor, son of Fyrr, son of Thrask.”

Agaarth actually laughed quietly, a low rumble that carried on the cool evening air.

Kraagrif had just regarded Djingor as a peer, not an elder. Djingor could probably be considered an enemy now, though Grif didn’t stop to gauge the elder’s reaction to find out. That would be a problem for another day.

[1] Author's Note : Voraathi describe their familial relations, instead of having a host of names for them. Father-brother is the Voraathi description of uncle. Brother-son is the description of nephew.
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Re: The Seeker

Post by MurkTheJerk » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:51 pm

Part 2 : What Lie Ahead

“You were perhaps a little over the top, Djingor.” Ijuit remarked, as the two elders walked away from the conference the shamans held. Agaarth did not join the pair; the Gra Kjruuttaii was best kept out of the discussion of his brother-son, and his role within the Voraathi people.

“The boy needed to be tested. How can he fulfill his purpose if he cannot stand up to a chief?”

“It is not that. I suspect that Kraagrif may have known that you were testing him. You are not a good actor,” Ijuit shook his head a little, “You are known to be aggressive, but you are a man of honor. That you would push the limits of that honor is hard to swallow.”

“What is done, is done, war-brother. If he knows that I test him? Then he is observational. There is worth to this. And it is no less a test of his mind, than how to deal with a hostile ally.” Djingor looked to the lines of his war-band as they walked, catching the scent of heavy stew from the cookpots. It reminded him of his hunger; he needed to have this discussion with the Buta Nas elder before he could sit at the fires with his people. The Honor-Seekers of Krondhir would save him a portion, at least. The Snow Spear elder just hoped that this discussion did not drag out longer than it needed to. “How do you intend to test the Seeker, Ijuit?”

“The Seeker has great faith in Krondhir. However, faith is not enough for an elder. If he is to fulfill his role to us, to his people as Seeker, then he must know the gods. Not just our gods; the gods of our people as a whole. He must know Krondhir, yes, but he must also know the First Valkyrie as well. The Seeker must know the Watching Sun, and the Wild Moon. Even if his faith is not with them, he must understand them. This is how I will test the Seeker. I will test his spirit and dedication to his people’s faith.”

“You would have him become a shaman, then?”

“I will not have him become anything. That choice will be his and his alone.”


Kraagrif marched towards the Foreign Quarters of Hammerspark Hold, a large bundle of sackcloth leaking blood down his arms as he carried it. The Seeker’s forearm burned, not from the weight – which was entirely bearable, at only a couple of hundred pounds – but from the new branding on both his flesh and soul from his pact with Valkyrie. Pain was a relatively new concept to him. Most of his people went through life without truly feeling pain and twice now he had encountered it. The Voraathi warrior suspected that it wouldn’t be the last.

Golden eyes grazed across the huddle of refugees from Kasiq. A blended mix of Northlanders and half-breeds, with a speckling of Voraath Kraag among them constituted the group the Kaal`Kor had generously allowed asylum in their Hold, numbering a total of perhaps two hundred. Kraagrif was honestly surprised by the number of Kraag among them.

Kraagrif knew that the dishonored men and women of Voraathi tribes tended to wind up in Kasiq, if they didn’t die trying to reinstate their honor, but he had expected no more than four or five. What he found was what must have been forty or so of them, though none looked his way when he approached the refugee camp and settled down the bloody bundle on an unrolled blanket that rest on the ground.

Talisen had been delivering the spoils of his hunts to the refugee camp since their arrival, and though Kraagrif criticized his methods, this did not change the fact that the people needed to eat. Given that many could not, or would not hunt on their own paired with knowledge that hunting was scarce, Kraagrif felt that if he was to speak to these people and ask their aid, he had a duty to ensure they were fed.

“Meat. A hundred pounds of Talper, fifty of lasher bull, and fifty of goat. Make sure that everyone has an opportunity to eat of it. I ask nothing for this, except that you all lend me an ear, for a time. No more, no less. But first, eat. Hungry bellies make for poor listeners, as I understand it.”

Though some murmured thanks and appreciation at his generosity, Kraagrif did not accept the thanks. Not yet, at least. Not until he had an opportunity to speak to them.

It was a few hours after the Voraathi Warrior arrived, after the meat had been cooked into hearty stews, or grilled, or smoked, that he finally rose from where he sat apart from the rest, watching. At first, Kraagrif had thought these people weak for not finding their own, or doing for themselves, however after observing the sense of community that the refugees possessed here, even when much in their lives was so bleak, that he reconsidered his stance. They were strong, if not strong in the way he thought of strength. The Northlanders could laugh and talk among each other, even with the darkness looming over their homes. The Kraag remained stoic in the face of it all, as was expected of his people. None seemed to dwell on what was lost, however. He expected that was because they lost the only thing that truly matters to most Voraath – their honour.

“I have asked that you lend your ears, and as such I will speak presently. I am called Kraagrif, son of Thangir, son of Wyrhald, of the Gra Kjruuttaii, called the Seeker by my people. Refugees of Kasiq, I see you. Lost Voraathi brothers, I see you,” Kraagrif was well aware that most of that was meaningless to the humans. That was just as well; he didn’t need it to mean anything to them. Though Kraagrif felt his role among his people would eventually be important, what he was called didn’t really matter that much. What he did was what had weight.

“I do not need to tell you of the threat to your home of Kasiq. You have seen it, and lived its terrors. You have survived it. I have come to tell you all that three Voraathi warbands have been working with the heroes here to reclaim Kasiq from the demonic threat. To do this, we will need to make a final push to Kasiq, while the heroes work to put an end to their source. Some of my people, they will die. This is accepted. I may die, and I accept this. Death is not an end, it is another journey.”

“I will not lie. My people intend on taking Kasiq for ourselves. That which was once a haven for sin and corruption in Zodasia will have new purpose. Residents of Kasiq, this does not mean that you will be left without home. Your homes are your own; your lives are your own. The gates of Kasiq will be open to you, provided you can live in a manner that allows both of our people to coexist. We do not expect you to conform to the Voraath way of life. We conquer a city, not a people. Those expectations will be negotiated with our chiefs, and a representative that speaks for you. Kasiq will no longer be a city governed by the criminal element in the shadows, puppeteering public officials. It will no longer be a refuge for demon-callers and Xosian cultists who bring hardship and misery on the lives of those who would walk in the light. Kasiq will be a haven for Voraathi and Northlander alike, to live among each other, learn from each other, and share wisdom with each other; it will be a place where both of our people grow stronger for the others presence.”

“This ideal, as others, does not come without a price, however. A price paid in the blood of my people. In that, I call on you to help reclaim that which you have lost to shadow. I call on warriors, and healers, and runners. Tradesmen and laborers. I offer you all a chance to step onto the field of battle alongside us, to reclaim what you have lost, for glory and with honor. “

“To my lost brothers – I offer a chance. I cannot ask the elders of your tribes to accept you back with open arms. But this here is an opportunity to show them.. you are honorable. You may show them that you are still one of us, that you belong with us. That whatever took you away from our people in the first place has been overcome. It will be the elders who decide who may return to them, but it is you who decide whether or not you will try, here and now. For those unwilling or unable to raise a weapon, the fact remains that you might still aid us in other ways.”

“I do not ask you to make this choice now, but that you consider it. I ask that you speak amongst yourselves, and decide. I ask that a leader rise up from the humans, to formulate a roster of those that might aid this effort, and what they are willing to do to aid the same effort. I will return tomorrow with more food to hear your response and collect the roster. Go with honor, and may you find hearth and hold this night, and fight for hearth and hold another.”

The Voraath only waited a short time to gauge reactions as best he could. Humans confused him, so odds are he would be lost on their take on this, but the Voraath he could at least perceive a little of how they felt by observing. After enough time passed that he felt satisfied with knowing, one way or another, how these people stood on the subject, Kraagrif turned and left the Foreign Quarters, to resume planning.
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Re: The Seeker

Post by MurkTheJerk » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:54 pm

Part 3 : Choices

Kraagrif, by many Voraath standards, was mild in temperament. Sure, by human standards he was severe, but humans allowed far too much that mattered to go unchecked, and then tended to show outrage about things that made no sense to the Voraathi. This, Kraagrif reasoned, was one of the instances where he and humans could agree that outrage was an appropriate response.

Kraagrif looked at the blood-stained snow at his feet, shaking his head. “This is nothing that should not be expected from cowardly fiends,” the Warrior snorted. “We will not forget.”

Though reports at the hold weren’t entirely accurate, they were close enough to the truth that it turned Kraagrif’s stomach. Indeed, many of the shamans and druids of the Snow-Spears had been attacked in the night by the Ossein devils, along with youths who had hoped to prove themselves in battle. Many of them would never get that opportunity, now. In total, the death toll was a dozen – three shamans including elder Djingor, and five young warriors had perished in the midnight attack by the Ossein devils. Another dozen were injured enough that they would need to be counted out of the conflict. It was fortunate that the devils had no knowledge of Voraath physiology; few beyond the Voraath and a few Shar`Vaire did anymore. That his people had second hearts saved those who survived. Those who were killed died because damage to the second heart was incidental during the attack, most often the result of a crushed ribcage.

“We will not forget.” Ijuit agreed. The Buta Nas elder had filled the void of shamans and druids that had had been created among the Traas Jakhara, in exchange for half as many berserkers to pad the ranks of his tribe. Those shamans worked through the night to stabilize the injured, but much time would be needed before those who suffered at the hands of the Ossein devils would be able to do battle again. Hearts did not regenerate overnight, and demonic wounds were aggravated enough that it slowed their natural regenerative capabilities.

“Where do the shamans stand at proceeding with this campaign, Elder Ijuit?” Kraagrif already knew the answer. Though the Voraathi were not great practisers of vengeance, this attack on the shamans and the young, by honor, demanded retribution. It simply was not Kraagrif’s place to call for such.

“This began as a matter that was of humans and dwarves. It was a deed done for a deed done, even if it was you who sparked movement on the matter. Now, this is personal. We will proceed as planned, and not ahead of schedule. The devils think to goad us into retaliating sooner. We believe it wise not to follow that impulse, though not all agree.”

“Will this be cause for division?” he asked of the Ijuit shaman.

“Unlikely. There is wisdom in patience, Kraagrif. Most will see this.”

The warrior nodded, kneeling to press fingertips to the bloodied snow. The warrior ran through the list of names in his own head. Tychus. Njorra. Kilbrane. Ahstaj. Gruus. Tiche. Kana. Iyrud. Jokas. Kiisum. Abyr.

Djingor, son of Fyrr, son of Thrask; the elder of the Snow-spears, and a man who Kraagrif insulted on their last encounter. This filled the guardian with shame.

“Who will lead now, Ijuit?”

“There is none yet who has come forward. The Honor-Seekers of the Snow-spears do not often concern themselves with implementing strategy. They are warriors first, and are more effective acting under the direction of others. After the battle, there will be a confirmation, and a shaman will prove themselves to be an elder. Until then, one from another tribe will need to be appointed as their acting commander in the field by the shamans of the other two tribes. Agaarth and I will select candidates, and the shamans will decide this evening. Until then, we build pyre for our fallen, and sing the dirge to carry their memory back to Krondhir.”

Kraagrif nodded at this. It wasn’t precisely against tradition, though that was mostly because it was mostly unprecedented. The warrior couldn’t recall many times in their history that such an occurrence came to be, though there were many cases of mixed-tribe war-bands needing to use the same method in selecting who would act as leader for the band. It made sense that the same selection process would apply here.

“What is that mark on your arm, Kraagrif? It is not of our people.” Ijuit indicated the still-healing brand on the younger Voraath’s forearm; a pair of crossed khopesh swords, ringed by mystic runes. Kraagrif himself was unsure of the language, however he suspected it was either the celestial tongue, or High Asyndi.
“It is not, elder,” Kraagrif offered, “I have entered a pact with a Valkyrie.”

Ijuit, who had been writing some runes into the bloodied snow as they spoke, stopped at that. The dark-haired Voraathi shaman’s brows raised high on his forehead, “I have heard that it is no easy task to bind a Valkyrie to your service, Kraagrif. How did you manage such a thing?”

“I have not, elder. It is an arrangement of mutual benefit. She will aid me in Seeking, and I will assist her in her own mission. Nothing more.”

Ijuit stared in Kraagrif’s direction. He wasn’t precisely looking at the young warrior. More like looking through him, trying to see something not visible to the eye. Perhaps the shaman actually was, at that. He had little understanding of the mystic arts that they practised. After a moment, Ijuit nodded his head sharply, grunting, before attending to the runes again.

“What do you make of the attack on us, Kraagrif? Not from the perspective of a tribesmen, from the perception of, say, an elder. What do you see when you look at the facts?”

A frown tugged at Kraagrif’s lips, exposing another half inch or so of his tusks. Answering such was improper; he was no shaman, no elder. The question itself seemed loaded to him, a trap to get him to say something beyond him. Perhaps if it were Djingor who had asked him this, he would answer cautiously, especially after their last words with each other. Ijuit, though, was not the sort to try to bait a response that could be used against another.

“The Devils did not react to the shaman’s anti-demon wards. That is troubling in and of it. At very least the creatures should have triggered the wards, even if they did not take effect. This means that it is.. unlikely that the Ossein devils are actually infernal in nature. However, this does not make sense. Extraplanar agents of chaos are demons.”

“Except when they are not, Kraagrif. You must learn that often, that what seems to be is not what always is. There are other servants of chaos that are not technically demons. This is reinforced by the fact that they erupted from a totem dedicated to Zorah.” Ijuit posed gravely, finishing up his last rune then standing straight again, regarding the younger Kraagrif with a level gaze. “Is that all?”

“No. I have been thinking on this. They attacked only the Snow-spear tribe. Why not any of the others?” Kraagrif asked of the elder.

“You tell me, Kraagrif. It was I who posed question to you on what you see. Look for signs, and you will find answers, or at very least direction. You know more details than I, given your allies investigation on the Devils. Do not only consider what we have seen here. Consider what has been observed by others. All facts might be important.”

Kraagrif grew silent for a time, staring to the horizon and contemplating, before presenting facts that he deemed connected. “They attacked only the Snow-spears. This we know. They attacked shamans, priests, and youths. They erupted from the totem of the Wild Moon before their attack. They only manifest at night. And,” The warrior paused, frowning. “A ranger ally from the Hold is being targeted by them. The common item to all of these facts is the Wild Moon. No other tribe present pays worship to her. The night is when she wakes to watch over us, when the Watching Sun rests. The ranger, Talisen, is a follower of her, by the Asyndi and Shei name Zorah. They are drawn to Zorah.”

“A keen observation, Warrior. Are you sure you are not meant to be a shaman or druid instead? Are you truly but the Seeker, or an elder’s apprentice in disguise?”

“I am as I am, elder. I would not presume myself to be worthy of being trained as such. I serve Krondhir with my spear and zuk-naath. It is for him to decide if I will be more.”

“A humble answer, Kraagrif. You do not give yourself enough credit. It will soon be time to raise the pyres, and sing the songs. We will discuss this more, at a later time. After we have observed tradition… and after we have warned the others that for now, we cannot risk to raise praise to the Wild Moon, or erect totems. At very least, not during the daylight hours.”

The Voraathi funeral traditions were public affairs; any tribesman was welcome in peace, and duels of honor were forbidden within ten miles of the service on days which a mass funeral was arranged. On the tundra, tall trees were scarce. As such, most fires were made to burn moss or lasher dung instead of wood. The exception to this was the building of funeral pyres, which were made of whatever wood could be acquired, save for those of who had died dishonorably; moss and dung were used to fuel those. Though hunting was not exceptional out here due to the disruptions, enough meat had been gathered to fill cookpots with a thick, heavy stew that was filled out with oats and tubers. A clay bowl was placed on each pyre before being lit, as the Voraath considered this the last feast that they would attend with their fallen brothers and sisters. Prayers were offered to the gods of the tribes present – in this case the Watching Sun, the Wild Moon, the First Valkyrie, and Krondhir, Spirit of War.

After the feast, while the pyres burned, a dirge was sung by all. Like most Voraathi song, it was a somber tune, accompanied only by the rhythm made by rattling weapons on each other, on shields, and on the ground. The Voraath believed this song was important, to call attention to the place so that the servants of the gods could find them to usher the fallen to their places of honor on Indaris or Klaadhal. After the songs were sung, the tribes spoke praise of the fallen, telling grand tales of each of their exploits and their service to their tribes and people as a whole. There were no tears at a Voraathi funeral. The Voraath had no fear of death; it was simply another part of their eternal journey. The only sadness was that of not seeing their war-brothers and sisters, of not fighting alongside them until they were reunited again. This rite was not a goodbye; it was a sending off until they were reunited again.

After the pyres burned low and the rites were all complete, the warriors departed to their nearby camps. All knew that the shamans needed to select a leader for the Snow-spears, but made sure that they were close enough in case of another Ossein devil attack.

Agaarth began, as they were closest to War-dancer territory, “The Snow-spears are without elder for this coming battle. Their warriors will not be able to operate at their full capacity without one, and there are no shamans to act in Djingor’s place until another is confirmed. This is a choice for the shamans to make; the elders must stand aside,” Elders, in these rare circumstances, were not allowed to appoint a leader for the war-band, though their candidates were likely to be voted on by the shamans of their own tribe.

Agaarth continued, “I bring forward Liaa, daughter of Asama, daughter of Jyiere, of the Gra Kjruuttaii to stand in the stead of the Tras Jakahra elder. If there is anyone who objects to her quality as a warrior, a shaman, or a leader, let them speak their objection. “

Of course, no one did. Asama was Agaarth’s daughter-by-son.[1] His son, Gujdro, was a fierce warrior, but he had no interest in being trained as a shaman or leading the tribe. It was no secret that Asama was being taught all that she needed to know to act as elder for the Gra Kjruuttaii one day, if she proved strong enough. Kraagrif had no doubts that she was; Asama was fierce and ruthless, and would be a strong leader of their people one day.

“Let it be known, that none have spoken objection,” Ijuit said. “Asama is an excellent candidate, war-brother.”

“If there is no objection, then the shamans would hear your candidate, Ijuit.”

“I nominate Kraagrif, son of Thangir, son of Wyrhald, of the Gra Kjruuttaii.”

The heads of the Voraathi shamans all turned to face Ijuit in surprise. Elders would traditionally nominate a candidate of their own tribe, not another, and it was unheard of for a nominee to be a warrior, not a shaman or druid.

“Are there any who object this candidate?” Ijuit asked the rest.

Though there were murmurs from the shamans on both sides, it was only Agaarth who spoke objection, “Your candidate is not a shaman, nor a druid Ijuit. He does not qualify. Choose another, or choose none and allow Asama to act as the Snow-spear leader.”

“My candidate is not a shaman, but one does not need be a shaman or druid to be a candidate. Only to be a leader,” Ijuit countered calmly, his gaze on Agaarth level. There was something sharp about the Blood Fist elder’s olive eyes. Ijuit was regarded by the other Voraathi, even those of other tribes, as one of the wisest and most thoughtful of the elders, and had been challenged by many in duels to weigh his worth and reputation.

Ijuit had never lost one of those duels.

“If he is not a shaman, then this claim as candidate is invalid. You are right; there is nothing that says he cannot be. But he cannot lead. Do you take this seriously, war-brother? Or do you mean only to give Asama the duty and honor of leading the Snow-spears in battle?”

“I take this very seriously, war-brother, and do not mean for Asama to lead. Kraagrif, son of Thangir, son of Wyrhald. You have shown wisdom in ways, and have proven yourself in body. You have done great service in battle, and to our people in general. I asked you earlier if you were an elder in disguise. You answered that inquiry with humility and respect. I ask of you now, would you learn the way of our people? Would you stand before them as a shaman, under my tutelage? You need not answer here and now, only consider it. You are not leading the Snow-spear war-band presently.”

There were still murmurs among the shamans, who seemed unsure whether or not this was appropriate.

“You see, Agaarth? Your brother-son need only agree to become my apprentice to lead. There is no tradition that says that a temporary war-band leader must be an experienced shaman. Only that he must be one.”

“You push the limits of tradition, Ijuit! This is unheard of. You cannot.”

“I can and have. Do you still object, based on Kraagrif’s honor or deeds?”

“This has nothing to do with the Prophecies of the Seeker, Ijuit!” Agaarth snapped, crossing arms across his broad chest.

“What do you know of the Prophecies, Agaarth? You were away at war with the Khag-Jaht and the Vakar Nas, leading a war-band at the time. Or do your forget the battle in which your brother was slain? I was, however, overseeing a Khash-Drahk between both of our people when the Prophecies were spoke. I heard the words Tokka, daughter of Liaa, daughter of Myraan spoke before she left us. But that does not answer the question, Agaarth. Do you object, based on Kraagrif’s honor or deeds?”

Agaarth glowered at Ijuit. Though friends, both of the Elders did not always see eye to eye, as evidenced in this case. “I do not.”

Kraagrif suspected that this is what humans spoke of when they complained of an awkward situation. The young warrior couldn’t exactly place what he was feeling into words, however it was certainly uncomfortable. Though losing this nomination wouldn’t mean dishonor for him, given the unique circumstances it did leave Kraagrif in a peculiar position with his blood-kin and the elder of his tribe. Even if the shamans did vote for him, things would be tense among the Gra Kjruuttaii; especially if he didn’t receive any votes from his own people.

The vote was simple. Voraath had no need of a secret ballot. The shamans each had a polished piece of Kavah-bone, which they placed at the feet of the candidate they wished to see leading the Snow-spears. The one with the most bones cast at their feet was the victor. It was possible to challenge this, however. The losing party could challenge the winner to a duel to overturn it. The victor would serve as leader, regardless of the shamans’ thoughts, as the stronger of the two.
On the face of things, it seemed that Kraagrif would wind up leading the war-band. Provided the shamans of the Blood Fists voted in keeping with Ijuit’s candidate, he would find himself with the honor of leading the Snow-spear warriors, as the Buta Nas held many more shamans. In practice, that wasn’t so however. Many of the Buta Nas did not seem to agree with Ijuit in this case, casting their bones at Asama’s feet. Kraagrif did not feel insulted by any of this. The shamans simply chose who they thought was best for the role. He was surprised when two of the Gra Kjruuttaii shamans placed bones at his feet.

When all had cast, each elder counted the bones of the other’s candidates.

“Twelve.” Agaarth counted, holding out the bones for all to see.

Twelve. That means, provided each shaman voted, that Kraagrif had won, with only eight at the feet of Asama.

“Then Kraagrif shall lead.” Ijuit stated.

“Hold, Ijuit. He does not. He is not shaman yet. The choice is Kraagrif’s. Will you agree to learning from Ijuit, or will you step aside Asama to lead the Snow-spears instead?” Agaarth gave Kraagrif a hard glance. Now, the choice was out of the shaman’s hands, and in his own. Though it would be frowned upon for Agaarth to treat the shamans poorly for their choices – such was their right – Kraagrif wasn’t a shaman of his own tribe. If he was to be taught by Ijuit, that would mean he was a tribeless shaman. He couldn’t act in council among the Buta Nas, by virtue of not being one of them, but he was also not a shaman of the Gra Kjruuttaii unless he was accepted as such by them, and was taken as an apprentice by one of their shamans as well. Given all of that, if he wasn’t accepted, his father-brother could take offense to Kraagrif’s response here and now, and be openly critical of his choice. At least, that is how Kraagrif saw the scenario. This, like so many things lately, was new territory.

“I accept your offer, Ijuit. I will be your apprentice,” the words weren’t even totally out of his mouth before he wanted to punch himself in the mouth for saying them.

“Then Kraagrif shall lead,” Ijuit repeated.

“So he shall,” Agraath grunted, an unreadable expression on his golden-skinned features.

Kraagrif had a feeling that this choice was going to come back on him soon enough. At least it was Agaarth who was offended. He had faith, in that, at least his father-brother would forgive him.

[1] Daughter in-law
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Re: The Seeker

Post by MurkTheJerk » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:55 pm

Part 4 : A Revelation

The wind whipped the dry, dusty snow over the Zodasian tundra. For most, this would be a wind that would chill to the bone. Even the hardiest of humans felt some sting from the northern continent’s harsh weather, which fell below freezing even in the warm season. The Voraathi people did not feel this sting, however.
We were meant for this land. The Buta Nas Shaman, Ijuit thought to himself while he waited away from the war-bands for his newest student. A hard land, for a hard people, and it is ours.

The shaman stared north-west, across the frozen plains at a distant figure, little more than a shadow, trudging through the snow in the direction of the shaman’s fire. Ijuit didn’t need to see the flame-wreathed spear or pale, glowing shield to know that it was Kraagrif coming from Hammerspark hold. True to his word, the young apprentice had ventured by foot, instead of being transported by the Valkyrie who he had bound.

He will approach the children of ruin, having bound Krondhir’s daughter. She will perch on his shoulder like a falcon; she will brand his flesh with blades. She will serve him for her honor, and he will serve her for his own.

These lines were but a fraction of the Prophecy of the Seeker. Ijuit was one of the few shamans who knew the prophecies, and had pieced together at least a fraction of them. As with any prophecy, there was a great degree of uncertainty to their meaning, at least until the prophesized event had passed. He had been present when the words were said.

The Seeker shall be the left arm; the shield to the bloodied spear. The shield shall guide the spear home, yet never be one with it. He shall lose all for it, but gain everything.

The unclean gates will fall to the children of ruin, walking in hand with children of worlds lost. Blood will mingle with stone, and fire with flesh. We will die; we will live.

The elder of the Buta Nas had a fair idea what these lines meant. Kraagrif needed to lead the snow spears in battle as an elder, even if he wasn’t one. Ijuit wasn’t yet sure how Kraagrif would lose all, but that line boded ill for his student. The last, of course, was probably a reference to the coming battle in Kasiq.

Ijuit shook his head a little, watching the figure in the distance grow larger every passing moment. There was no need to dwell too much on the words of prophecy. Often, such things aren’t what they were thought to be, and pushing too hard to see prophecy fulfilled often opened way for unexpected results. Instead, the elder’s eyes drifted to the oiled leather-wrapped bundle at his feet.

The elder knew that what lie beneath the wrapping could stir up a great deal of trouble if revealed to Kraagrif. A number of times, Ijuit had questioned the wisdom of giving it to the younger Voraath, unsure if he should throw such a stone into the Kavah den. The mere presence of the spear that lie at his feet was cause for division within the Gra Kjruuttaii; if great care wasn’t taken in delivering this to Kraagrif, all of the prophecies could be shattered on the warrior’s potential impulsive reaction.

“I see you, Tahkai. I have been summoned?”

It was important for Kraagrif to observe the formality of calling Ijuit by the title of mentor, even if in truth this arrangement broke custom. Agaarth would never teach his brother-son the way of shamanism, so if Kraagrif was to fulfill the prophecies without breaking even more customs, so this needed to be.

“I see you, Wyhr. As I have called, you have come. However, I do not call you as a mentor, but as an elder this night. There is something I have that is yours, by right of blood. It has been too long, and it should have been given to you many years ago.”

“Could it not have waited for another day? We prepare for battle. Surely if it has been too long, then it could wait but days more.”

“Remember who you speak to, Wyhr. I am not but another warrior in your band. I have chosen this time, because this is the right time. The implications of what I have obtained for you could be relevant in your duties, to your tribe and to your people.” Ijuit responded sharply to his student. Though not entirely out of line, Kraagrif’s query bordered on questioning a summons by an elder, an act that was considered improper at best.

“I apologize, Tahkai. I meant no disrespect.”

Of course you didn’t, Kraagrif. But you will, Ijuit thought to himself, as he knelt to open the bundle at his feet.

There were no weapons like the one that lie in the bundle. Six feet long, the spear’s haft was made of polished Borjah bone, fused together with shamanistic magic. Sinew wrapped the mid-length of the weapon, forming a comfortable grip for Voraathi hands using the weapon in either one or two hands. The head was made of two Borjah horns, with the inner curves sharpened and facing opposing directions, with a long, wickedly jagged centre head made of one of the great horned bear’s leg-bones sharpened to a narrow tip, and marked with Voraathi runes dedicating the weapon to the Watching Sun. Three braided tassels decorated with beads hung from the head, all made of braided Borjah fur coloured red, orange and gold. Ijuit traced a finger along the length of the haft, before lifting the weapon to present it to the young warrior.

Kraagrif breathed in a quick, sharp gasp before catching himself and regaining his composure, “Fr’Nagir.”

Fr’Nagir was once the weapon wielded by Kraagrif’s father, Thangir son of Wyrnhald, son of Naash. An ancestral weapon passed along their family line, rumored to have been carried by the first elder of the Gra Kjruuttaii on Zoda. It was said that Fr’Nagir burned with holy fire in the presence of demons or undead, and would smite them with Kaal’s blessed flames if used against them in combat. The spear was thought taken as a war-trophy during a battle, some twenty years past, in which Thangir was overwhelmed by Kahg-Jaht warriors and killed. It was said that the warrior-shaman fought long after even a Voraath should have succumbed to his injuries, and slew near a hundred Kahg-Jaht in the process.

“Where did you come by my father’s spear, Elder? It has been lost since his death to the Demon-Eaters.”

“Not so, Kraagrif. The words I speak now, they may sting like the mightiest wyvern, leaving wounds that may never heal. I do not believe that Fr’Nagir was ever among the Kahg-Jaht. I took him from the tents of the Gra Kjruuttaii. I took him from the tents of your father-brother,” Ijuit offered his student with a grim expression.

“Agaarth? But why would he have it? Fr’Nagir was mine by blood-right. It should have been placed in my hands on my thirteenth name-day, when I cast my childhood away and became a warrior. Wait. You stole him from Agaarth?”

“I did.” Ijuit said solemnly.

Theft, among the Voraath, was considered a serious crime. Most things among a tribe, and even among gathered tribes, were considered communal; a Voraath did not ‘own’ things such as food, tents, or other items considered essential for survival. These were things that the tribe shared amongst each other freely. A Voraath’s weapons and armor were different, however. These things were often passed from father to son, and carried a great deal personal significance to a warrior or shaman. Theft was considered a great personal insult to the individual who owned the item, and was grounds for naming that person Kraag – lost to the tribe he belonged to. Disputes over ownership usually meant an honor-duel, with the victor being considered the rightful owner.

“This does not make sense, Elder! Why would he have it? Why would you take it? How would you know he had it in the first place?” Kraagrif clenched his fists. Ijuit would not have blamed the youth for striking him, had he done so, yet the warrior did no such thing, despite looking as if he were going to.

“I did not know, only suspected. I took it because it was not Agaarth’s by blood-right. He possessed it against custom, and kept it hidden from you, and from all of your people. As for the why of the matter, this I cannot answer, Kraagrif – those are questions you must seek answer to yourself. I have only suspicions, and I will not dishonor myself further by voicing any without proof.”

Kraagrif lifted Fr’Nagir, clenching it until his giant, golden knuckles grew pale. Ijuit thought that Kraagrif might bellow out in rage and frustration to nothing and everything, however such a sound did not leave the boy’s belly. Instead, Kraagrif slid the spear behind his shield, and turned to walk away from Ijuit without a word.

“What would you do of this, Kraagrif?”

“I will do as I must, for now. There is a battle to be fought. Personal matters may be seen to when the dust settles and the earth drinks of spilled blood.”

Blood will betray blood, and blood be cast out. The Seeker will march with no brother to stand by his spear-arm. Such will be the price of opening the old would that festers from within. It is only when the festering heart is removed, that the healthy will beat again.
6000 or whatever years of civilization, of invention and progress and developing ourselves so that we might stand above all over creatures. creating a world where someone can stick a battery on his dick and shit on his dog
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