We return after a hiatus, to talk about the society known as the Trouping Jays.
The Jays are an ecclesiastical order with a loose hierarchy which culminates in the Council of Joyful Vagabonds. They are also one of the most socially complicated of the Great Societies.
The Jays are taught the stories of the past with the expectation that they will travel the land and remind the people of what has come to pass and of their duty to the great web to ensure balance is among the people when the breachers come.
They are taught songs, artistic techniques, rituals, and dances so that in the terrible, dark nights, when shivers howl in the wilds, the people have something to distract them from their fears. They preside over weddings, unions of all sorts, and other situations where someone publicly makes an oath or commitment, or wishes to break one. Most importantly, they are taught to gather the new stories of the world and share them amongst all, so that we will come to know each other as one people. Their role among the societies is one of being so obvious, spectacular, and uniting of people that the forces of darkness are drawn out by their need to destroy them. Evil cannot abide a Jay.
The direct power of the Jays is in their stories and in their attention to detail. Though every Jay is trained to be a consummate entertainer, they are also trained to be investigators and many will even offer services as arbitrators. This makes them the best friends of the common people and dangerous to those who seek to manipulate, control, or cause strife. If rumors begin to circulate about a new warlord or civil unrest, you can bet a Jay will show up in short order to find out the truth of the situation, assuming they’re not the ones spreading the rumor.
Jay’s are strong in the Principles and quite a few have skill with the essence of Truth. Each Jay will choose a primary art form, performance style, or social interaction that they specialize in. It is through this art form that they will call invoke the power of the mysteries. Every mystery they can access will have a different technique associated with it.
The Jays have mastered some common techniques within the Principles, and other mysteries, that they can easily teach to students. The order’s hierarchy controls who has access to which techniques. It is said that the Council of Joyful Vagabonds have access to songs that can break entire nations or call down fire from the heavens.
Of all of the Great Societies, relationships mean the most to the Jays. While others are often kept at arms length by the common people, the Jays are openly embraced because they bring joy, and play, and laughter. Jays take romantic partners whenever possible, but their relationships are not restricted to this. “All my relations” is the mantra of the Jays. It suggests that everyone is a relative though may not yet know their places in your circle. The goal is to find that place for them, embrace it (and the responsibilities that come with it), thereby lifting the grace of the world a little bit more and bringing the people closer to The Gathering.
The order actually requires Jays to seek out chosen relatives in their lives, and to build multiple committed relationships with no gender or political boundaries. The power the Jays wield to shape society is not without temptation and it is believed that a single individual, with no connection to anyone, will eventually submit to pride or hubris and use the power for selfish reasons. By committing themselves to others through love, it is believed that they become more open to the possibilities of humanity and its varied needs.
Crows share this relationship model with the Jays. The big difference is that a Crow will take a wife and a husband, typically acting as a hub between all partners, and foster few children. A Jay, however will make multiple committed relationships that are romantic, platonic, and filial. They will in turn, encourage these new relatives to find relatives and partners for themselves, and actively encourage the development or relationships among their new relatives. They effectively build a large extended tribe that is joined not in blood, but by the Principles. It is not unknown to find a “jayhearted Crow” who is basically someone who could easily have become a Jay but was called more to the path of the warrior. It is believed that such individuals are the ones most often chosen to become the Lord of Crows.
The mark of a Jay’s rank and is her Jaycloak which is a public display of the commitments they have made. A newly ordained Jay will have a cloak that is a brilliant blue color. Within this field of blue there will be a single ochlos which is a stylized eye shaped symbol. This represents their first commitment which is to the life of a Jay. Before a Jay is considered ready for the world they must find a love within one of the other Great Societies and make a commitment to him or her. When that union is celebrated the Jay receives the first patch on their cloak and a “Charm of Principle” which becomes a conduit of faith and love between the Jay and the partner. Those recognized as Elders within the Jays are typically adorned with charms and their Jaycloaks are beautiful multicolored patchworks on the inside, and covered with ochlos on the outside. No two Jaycloaks are exactly the same and even the term Jaycloak isn’t exactly correct as isn’t always a cloak. It can be an exorbitant scarf, dress, coat, shawl, or any other kind of outer wrap. They all will have ochlos and patches
Jay have ways of communicating and sharing emotions and dreams with their partners via the cloaks and the charms. This means that, in a way, they are never truly separate from them and they actually draw a mysterious strength from them. Successful social attacks on a Jay can be particularly devastating to them and their abilities. Consequences on on the social tracks will have effects on this extended family or “tiyospaye“.
Jays prefer to avoid fighting whenever possible but they are all taught to use the “hummingbird blades”. These are long, slender, rapier-like knives that are used in pairs as part of a flowing graceful martial art called “The Dance of the Hummingbird Blades.”
They, like the Crows, are favored by the song, ShuaBringsTheLight. They are the Great Society created by R’Deen, Thunder Brother of the East. In times of great need, it is said that he lends forth his power to exalt one Jay to become the “Loving Stranger” whose very presence casts away sorrow just as the sun dissolves shadows.
Jayhearted is a term that has come to be associated with those individuals who are quick to love and slow to anger. The term “nose like a Jay” is used to reference someone who is constantly getting involved in other peoples problems or thing that others don’t think should concern him. One who has joined the Jays is often referred to as having “run away with the troupe.” Owls who have gone weary of walking the ways will often become settled Jays in their old age, but Doves rarely become Jays. Their closeness to death makes it very hard for them to connect to multiple people. Jays however will go far out of their way to bring a smile to a mournful dove.