What follows is an excerpt from Ehdrigohr RPG: Book One. . .
The Gathering Council looked upon the assortment of champions before them. At a glance, they appeared the most intimidating collection of defenders to come together to walk the Trail of Slumbers. Their goal, to battle through the shiver hordes, avoid the Sorrows, and perform the ceremonies at the Temples of the Woe.
The Elder known as Chases-Snakes slowly came to a stand, supporting himself on a heavy gnarled walking stick. He cast his gaze around the crowd who stood silently, waiting. You could hear a pin drop in the silence.
There were many different peoples here, all the colors and shapes and sizes of mankind. All had made the pilgrimage for the Gathering of Nations celebration here in the trade center known as O’ya’Asiin. Some came to barter, others came to dance to the drums. Tellers came to collect stories as well as share them, and many came to hear the exotic tales of these prodigous wanderers. Of all that came, none seemed as important right now as the four who stood at the center of the circle of Drums, waiting for word from Chases-Snakes. All eyes were upon them.
“Let those who would walk the Trail of Slumbers present themselves!” He called out in a voice that rang out across the thousands there in the field. The lead drummer of the first Drum, a Ge’Al Drum carved from a bloodwood, and painted with the symbols of the Calleachs, let forth a call and sounded off honor beats on the drum. His drummers fallowed suit, and the rhythm they created rolled out across the field like distant thunder.
The champions looked back and forth between themselves and then the first of then stepped forward. She was a powerfully built woman with broad shoulders and hips. She was crowned with wild, thick red hair that cascaded from her head like fire caught in a moment in time.
“My name is Kara Een of Een South, in the land of the Songwillows. My people are the Ge’Al of the nation of Kaylte. I am born of Mara of Liice, of Een North in the land of the BloodOaks. I am fathered by Jon of Hara’Vdey in the South, in the Land of the SongWillows.
I am heard by the Green and call to the Stones. My flaming hair marks me as firebairn and I dance the flames. I am trained by the daughters of Huntsman Skath and am a master of the Ashen Strikes and the Quake Steps. I have felled 9 great shivers, and countless lesser things. The first of which I killed when I had seen but 12 winters.
I now wear the brown cloaks and follow the path of solace and awakenings in the Medicine Society of the Mourning Doves. I fight for new life and for the right for dignified passing.
I have been hand picked by the Coven of Sighs to come serve on the Trail of Slumbers.”
The Ge’al drum sounded off honor beats to salute her and the crowd exploded in cheers, howls, and whistles.
Chases-Snakes raised a hand and a hush fell back upon the crowd.
The lead drummer of the next Drum, a Wiitjasa Drum, made from the shell of an ancient shiltonka, sounded off new honor beats and his drummers followed suit as they called out the next champion.
A giant of a man, covered in furs stepped forth. He was obviously of Urali and possibly D’zul mix. He had the broad shoulders and silver-grey eyes of an Urali Bearshirt but had the dusky skin that showed his mix, and thick matted braids in the fashion of a D’Zul from the southwest.
“I am Called Yrjo. I come from the village of Shimmer north of the WhiteRim. I call all women and men of Shimmer aunt and uncle and recognize Mahtowakan, the Great Bear, as my grandfather. My father came from the skyward reaching crags of the Sunder to join The Line and hold off the Black Tide as it charged some thirty winters ago. I am his gift to Shimmer where he found warmth in his last days. I am strong in the Natures of Body and Soul and know no shiver that can’t be hewn by my axes.
I walked the White when I was nine and slew a widderman when I was 10. I have participated in a multitude of hunts in the White and slain horrors beneath the ice. I walked among the Bears for 5 winters after which I took an oath to Walk the ways of the White and claim new land for the people.
I fought beside Crows during the battle of Oksanen Hold and. Like my father, I also served with Crows and Bears on The Line.
I am chosen by the two Great Elders of the Urali high council. The first is Gita who holds the seat of Mother of Summers and by Vaino TwoSpirit who holds the seat of Winters. I bring my axes to bear in the defense of the Gathering of Nations.”
The Drums sounded in his honor and shouts and applause rolled out from the people. Again Chases-Snakes brought a hush and the next Drum sounded.
This was a Drum from the Sunder, made from one of the great trees of their rainforests and covered in the skulls of warriors who had fallen in defense of the people. The leader sounded his honor beats and his drummers followed suit, calling out the next champion.
A small, almond-brown skinned woman with wiry limbs and long hair gathered in a single braid that reached to her heels, stepped forward. She was shrouded in a sparkling patchwork cloak of cerulean blues, vermilion, and greens. The colors seemed to shimmer and shift as she moved. Eye shaped symbols, called oklos, adorned her cloak and scarves and brought smiles to many of the children in the field. They knew her to be a Jaycloak, one of the Great Medicine Societies, and the most revered orders of tellers.
“I am Rona Zhettapong of the Baratan people, from the town Onandag on the Bay of Sighs. I have traveled all the lands. I have seen the islands of the Mic’Talan in the east and the tortoise born WU Towns of Chi’an in the west. I have seen the towers of the Uralia at the foot of the White, and seen the great forges of the contraptioners in the South of Salady.
I wear the Jay cloak and bring word and song to all that I visit. I am trained in the Principles of Life and Love by Yogi Matsabarahn and have a talent in the Natures. I am skilled in craft and song and have mastered the Dance of the Hummingbird Blade, as taught by Keru, who Walks the Ways of the Waking Mountains. My eye is keen to the Mysteries and I can peer into the Road.
Neither Shiver nor Haint can suffer my songs. I have mastered the singing bowls and learnt the 12 notes of Contrition, which banish a manner of evils from my path. I speak words of the Oldtongue to unravel curses. I have seen 27 caravans through the Ways and slew a Given at Watcher’s Seat in the peaks of the Waking Mountains.
I was called here by the Elder ChasesSnakes and Auntie Sealla of the Coven of Leaves. She will vouch for me to any who seek her out in Dream. As a JayCloak I follow a path of joy and hope and brings smiles to the Gathering of Nations and pledge to chase away shadows and sorrow.”
The crowd exploded in cheers and whistles so loud that, the Drums were nearly drowned out as they played honor to Rona. After a moment the crowd returned to quiet and The next Drum sounded.
This Drum was a Chi’an Drum from the west. It was made from the shell of one of the great tortoises upon whose backs the Wu Towns had been built. The leader rolled off the honor beats with great poise, and her drummers followed suit, calling out the last champion.
The last champion poured forth, the very air around him seemed to ripple and fold as he moved. No one who watched could remember where he had been standing. They could only see where he now stood. It was as though he had always been there, like an ancient memory.
He was an incredibly tall D’Zul man with skin as dark a night and brilliant dark eyes that seemed to reflect the starry sky. His hair was shaved close in the way that many Essentialist do with symbols of the essences tattooed on his scalp and face. He stood with a great long spear that sported a 2 foot blade that seemed to shine with its own light.
“I am Five-Raven-Shouting-Rain. I am of the D’Zul of the Sunder. I dance the Air and am a Master of Essences. I can Weave what is real and what is not, Walk the River, and Bend Spaces. I am trained in the Hand of Infinite Slices. I am a Foe to breachers and known in the Twain. I am a vessel of two-spirits.
I walked the River as child, which let me warn my people of impending attack from the Shivers of the Sunder, and had closed two breaches by my thirteenth winter. On that same thirteenth winter I climbed the Stair, and saw what has come to pass.
I journeyed to the BloodOaks and stood with the Tathlum against a Dul ah’gallaan that rampaged and shredded at the fabric of what is real.
I have journeyed beneath the Ashen Cloud and stood with the Illuminators of Radeen. I ventured into the Blood Fields with Master M’Ohmad Aman to still a curse that was slaying a city of Salady.
I come here at the request of BreaksEnemy of the Crows of the Shil, and Mother Iyan-Er of the Seers of Seven Thunder Citadel in the Wu Towns to the west. I come to close the breaches, still the Woe, and bring quiet to any shiver who meets the Infinite Blade of my spear.”
With that, all of the drums erupted so loudly it seemed as though the very earth was shaking form their beats. The people cheered and shouted. A hollow, clicking percussion rolled out from the throats of many of the women in the crowd, and music began to play in all corners. The Gathering Festival would commence.
Chases-Snakes new that the night would be good, though he feared what the winter ahead had in store for fate to bring such powerful warriors together. A glance around the circle of elders showed him that each of them were thinking much the same. Change was coming. None of them knew what form it would take. This was sure to be one of the coldest and trying of winters. He prayed that the champions would be enough to keep the Woe from rising.
Read more in Ehdrigohr RPG: Book One.
Next time, a look at character creation.