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Found 21 results

  1. Hooves stomping to the drummer's beat, horns blaring and crowds screaming as steels clashed. The arenas of Saarvagerg were busy as ever as a larger crowd gathered around one of the smaller public arenas. It was a open arena, no real guidelines given. Just a free for all brawl zone to sort out troubles. That was until one cow arrived. For the past two hours she carved a path around the arena taking on everything in it with utter disregard for how many rushed her and yet she came out on top using nothing more than her hooves. The cheering was reaching deafening levels as she bucked a bull so hard he shot over the arena wall. All around her the deaten, many out cold or rolling in pain on the muddy floor. The cow was shorter than most caribou yet her strength bested many bulls bigger than her. Her frame mached her strength with clear muscle mass underneath her hide and fur that was ashy white. She had a black mane done up in a mohawk with purple highlights. Her eyes were a crisp ice blue with a long jagged scar over her right eye that looked like lighting built. She was wearing black platemail covered her more vital organs but left the rest wide open to cut down on weight in a “all or nothing” take on self defense. Her weapons were nothing more than her four hooves reinforced with some black steel to be used in blocking blows. Standing on top of a whimpering bull twice her size the cow looks up at the onlookers, grinning ear to ear. She was not even panting yet. Yet she did not speak. Not one word left her muzzle in all of the combat. She waves a hoof at the onlookers, than aimed it at her self, dearing more to come down and take her on as they chanted the name given to her by onlookers. Silent Lightning, given thanks to her face scar and utter lack of speaking. But this was no cow. She was tempest. Thanks to the magic of Masquerade and his one of a kind disguises she looked complenty like a caribou even up close. The custom outfit cost so much she had to lone Bits from Ice just to pay for it! AND was going to need to do some… ‘work’ for Masquerade on top of it. But it was all worth it. The magic and skill in its making masked her flawlessly. She was for all it was worth a full blooded caribou when inside of it. But one thing it can’t mask was her accent and lack luster understanding of the caribou language. Well she had what she needed too get by and understand most things speaking it was another story. So to cover her flank she pretend to be mute and let her acts speak for her. ((This RP contants tempest in a magic disguse bult by Masquerade, as such she looks like a female caribou. If you don't know about Masquerade or his costumes read his app! it's vary usefull. The only thing that knows tempest is here or owns that costume is Ice her self.))
  2. Magnus had mixed feelings about this area. They were certainly more free with displays of violence, which meant he could blow off some steam here, it was also very cold and he had had enough of being uncomfortably cold in his life. Still, the exercise was keeping him warm enough, and his position made procuring a warm fur coat all too easy. For the moment he was awaiting his next fight, the unicorn watching the show to see who the best fighters were. If he could get them on his side, he could make good use of them in the future. Currently, it was a bit of a one-sided match as a cocky, spear-wielding earth pony was mopping the floor with his opponent. How that pony wasn’t freezing in nothing but pants he may never know, but he seemed to have found a good candidate already if that attitude didn’t drive him crazy. Magnus sighed softly to himself from a seat in the stands, coat wrapped around him and sword hidden within, watching the proceedings with an outward appearance of mostly apathy. Most of these competitors were not that impressive, honestly.
  3. By the time all the invitations were sent out, the event was no longer very much of a surprise. It was no secret that Chieftain Sigrun of Clan Askr and Vakstyra Halvard of Clan Breen had hit it off very well ever since their first meeting in the Saarvergerg Arena, and fast became more than friends. The fact that their homeland was split by a civil war, however, intruded inevitable delays on anything official. Not to mention the somewhat complicated politics involving Clan Breen’s public neutrality in the matter of the war, while Sigrun and Clan Askr were very much on the side of the Loyalists. Many tedious months of politics later, however, and Halvard had finally managed to shift his Clan’s position, and considerable resources, behind the King’s cause. As these were not inconsiderable in amount, the ceremony itself would be made a fairly extravagant affair, the marriage of the two now seen as a symbol and lynchpin of their clan’s alliance. Which meant, of course, that their wedding was now further delayed by the amount of planning that had to go into it… *Good thing I’ve never been one to shy away from logistics.* Halvard mused, smiling as he completed the last double-check of the mead supply. Sigrun wasn’t one for fancy and frou-frou, thank the gods, but an abundance of guests required an abundance of food, drink, and space. Running his eyes over the hall, and comparing the numbers on their guest list, he pursed his lips. *Well…. Two out of three isn’t bad. Hope the foreign guests don’t mind the crush.* At least the native guests wouldn’t. After all, it isn’t a party until everybou’s up in each other’s faces! Whether from joy or fighting really depended on the mood and the mead. Hopefully, this all wouldn’t be too much… ~~~ While Caribou weddings weren’t exactly the same ceremony as one generally saw in the southern lands, there was a general commonality between them, in that the groom and bride didn’t come alone. Each would bring either a close relation, or a close friend, representing all the relationships surrounding the pair that would intertwine. Halvard had thought long and hard about who he would bring, but ultimately settled on what he felt was the best, and only choice. “Are you ready, Calder?” The bull called out to the one whom he had come to think of as a son. This was not a trivial question, as the younger bull had many quite legitimate reasons for being nervous about publicly appearing back in Whitescar. Halvard had strongly encouraged him to come out with him, though; partly for his own good, to face and conquer the demons of his memory, at least in some ways. The other reason, however, was one he wouldn’t say to his adopted son, as it had to do, again, with the politics of the situation. Calder wasn’t exactly a stereotypical bull, in many ways, but Halvard felt that what he himself was fighting this civil war for was to make a place for caribou like his son. This was a public show of solidarity for the family, and the gods have mercy on any who’d have a problem with it!
  4. The Will Test: the trial that all caribou living the viking life must face when they come of age. It is the ultimate judge of a young buck or calf’s fate. Should one pass the final challenge, they earn the opportunity to earn future glory in battle and other cherished pursuits. Meanwhile, those who fail are destined to remain in the shadows of caribou society forever, forgotten to the shadows. Or so the stories say, anyway. Naturally, Lími was a nervous wreck in the days leading up to his Will Test. As someone without much natural talent in the ways of combat, the adolescent boy had never really saw himself as viking material. Especially when he has stood in the shadows of great warriors like Jarl Sigrun and his elder half-brother. Compared to them, Lími was a virtual weakling. What chance did an untested boy like him have of successfully braving the Southern Wilds and retrieving the flower required for passing this foreboding rite of passage? Despite all of Jarl Sigrun’s mentoring and assurances, Lími still didn’t feel he was truly ready even as he stood in the shadow of the great Ice Wall isolating the cursed Wilds from the rest of Whitescar. Sigrun alone accompanied the adolescent bull from Askr all the way down south to the Wall, and here, she would have to leave her charge behind to face his Will Test. Lími would have to go on alone past the Wall, without any equipment to assist him in dealing with any potential obstacles or threats. Thus it was no surprise that for a long while, the lad stood in place as he gazed upon the ominous Wall, not daring to glance at the small hidden exit leading to the Wilds beyond.....
  5. Ijiroc: Phantom in Snow Far in the heartland of the north, deep in the forests of Whitescar, there is a creature known as Ijiroc. Native Caribou have passed this story down for generations, a creature having existed long before tribes had formed. The Ijiroc is said to live between this world and the next, forever stepping between the seen world and the invisible world. For Caribou seeing the Ijiroc is an omen. Places in which it walks are said to yield no life. There is nothing to gather or to hunt. The Ijiroc also has no true presence. Upon sighting the creature one could be assured it had been watching you the entire time you have been near and by. One cannot pursue or follow the Ijiroc once it decides to flee, for it becomes like a mirage, reappearing and vanishing at will. If it has a will left that is... The Ijiroc is said to have once been a Caribou itself. A great warrior that stalked the lands looking for trolls and mountain ogres to challenge. It is said the Caribou had traveled beyond the mountains, into the white abyss that swallows the Spine of the World Serpent. Many Caribou still hold superstitions of traveling to the Spine, in fear they too would become like the Ijiroc. Those who seek to travel to the lands which Ijiroc make its home become lost. Even the most skilled navigators lose their way and become prey to the deep, white walls of snow of the Spine. If traveling through the forest and you see its ethereal markings glowing from the wall of snows that trail along the base of the Spine, be sure to never turn your back to it, or to follow it. No one Caribou is sure, but perhaps there is not just one Ijiroc roaming the forests of snow and mist... - Haunted Paths Across Equus, a Pocket Guide
  6. The forest in the east was not always united under the major clan that it is now. In the past the forest was home to a multitude of warring clans. Raids, wars, stories of battles that are still sung today were what made up the lives of the forest dwelling clans. Origins of the smaller clans and tribes that settled in the dimensionally confusing forest of frosted ash are difficult to find. Theories are numerous and difficult to prove, the members of the modern clan believing they are descendants of an ancient breed of elk that migrated to the north after pony settlements arrived in the land that would one day be called Equestria. Wherever they hailed from, in the past these ancient tribes made their homes in multiple settlements across the forest. As any Skald will tell you, caribou will find reason to fight. In a place like the forest those reasons were mostly out of pragmatism. In the woods coming by certain resources was very difficult. As per usual for many clans raiding was a solution. A war had been raging in the trees of forest, one with little steel for blades and a great deal of time to learn efficient ways of fighting one another without steel or iron. Eventually though there came a time when the fighting needed to stop. Clan Stokkr: a clan of woodworkers, after the dethroning of it's old chieftain had offered to have a meeting between of the heads of the warring forest clans. This meeting was lead by Heigi who had come into possession of a powerful sword. After pointing out the various losses they had suffered and how together they could be stronger than any of the clans outside the forest... the heads of the smaller clans agreed to merge their clans as one over the ages. Upon deciding what to call themselves, one of the chiefs suggested why not after the very trees that they took shelter in: the Aska tree. Over time, the Askr Clan came into being. While this clan is definitely looking to the future ahead, it has not forgotten its roots. Events of the past have shaped this clan into the fearsome forest dwellers that they are and have made them both enemies and admirers throughout Whitescar's history. Like all caribou clans, Calves are taught to fight at a very young age. At first they are taught a variant of the martial art native to Whitescar: Glima. But after their calfhood is over and experiences are taught they are taught another way of fighting that the clan called Rodhovar: A rather brutal style of fighting that could only have been born from a culture so deeply wrought in conflict.The style of fighting is used exclusively for war and focuses heavily on attacking vulnerable areas on the body: Knees, hooves, Sides, hind legs and very often the head.It also teaches grappling, disarmament and use of terrain to fight. It's not uncommon among the caribou to see every cow, bull, and calf willing to take up a weapon in defense of their homes. In the Askr hold it is almost unthinkable to not be without an axe at your side if you’re an adult or a wooden sword if you're a calf. Due to the region's previously mentioned lack of easily locatable ore on the surface, Raiding parties and expeditions into Cave troll dwellings are often performed in order to retrieve ore for the crafting of armor, weapons, and other things, alongside raids of clans outside the forest. Like some other more 'civilized' clans in Whitescar, Askr is one where most every member has been a viking at some point in their lives. For some it was to prove their mettle as a warrior, explorer, or a merchant: As these are all things that are attributed to the clan's definition of “Viking”. Unlike some outsider believe though, being a viking is something the majority of this clan does for the entirety of their lives. Many of the older caribou along with the younger who have made a name for themselves have actually gone on to become farmers, woodworkers, skalds, or merchants. Social classes still exist in Askr as it does in most other clans. Karls are the commoner class of caribou. Smiths, merchants, explorers, warriors: a karl could be any of them. Above the karls, are the jarls: Clan Nobility. Jarls are wealthy, owner larger areas of land and territory then Karls do. Typically better equipped to handle conflicts and owning their own ships, but the most important part to becoming a jarl in any clan is the confidence and good graces of the caribou beneath him. If the popular opinion of any jarl crumbles, soon everything they own is sure to follow. When a jarl perishes it is usual that their oldest kin would inherit their estate, however if a karl has gained a great following in the community then they very well could supplant the jarl's son and inheriting their estate and responsibilities. The third and final social rank is the singular position of the Chieftain. The seat of Chieftain is a position of great importance to any clan, among large and powerful clans such ask Askr they are almost comparable to kings or queens in their own right if there is no High-King above them. Much like jarls, A chieftain is subject to the will of their clan: Usually worries and ills are relayed to them through the Jarls beneath the chieftain due to the difficulty managing the various settlements in the forests. Perhaps to facilitate bonds and a sense of unity in the clan, Karls and jarls alike will often have their offspring live among friendly clans or fellow members of the forest dwellers. Around middle adolescence a calf is to be shared with another in the clan or a close friend in order to gain new skills and be exposed to different approaches to problems. The effect of this practice seems to have made the clan very connected with each other, for all the good and bad that may bring. Despite the gentler side of caribou that Askr exhibits, certain insults to personal honor will have usually two outcomes: Apology and an agreed compensation, or a duel to either settle the score or decide who is in the right. Historically the clan has more than a few enemies beyond the wild lands they call home. Remnants of reclusive clans who dwell in the forest still attempt to make attacks on the hold every once in awhile, Troll raids and small scale invasions are still common in the more rural areas, and since the recent events of a group of outsiders they have had to deal with a plague that is still being examined. While Askr clansbou are not willing to ever attack their neighbors to the Northeast in Neighpon: they are far from fond of them. Oral Histories told by the skalds state that this could be due to the clan's history with the island nations. In the genesis of the clan's formation some of the clan's closest to the shoreline would make regular raids on neighponese vessels. In retaliation, the Neighponese waged war on the raiding clans, beginning a long series of conflicts with each side taking revenge for the previous attack and vice versa. One weakened nation against a newly formed united clan of the forest. Finally the fighting stopped when both a new chieftain and a young shogun realized that neither said was gaining any ground and both were only losing kin, and so a peace was reached. Even with the peace, it is hard to find a caribou among the Askr who doesn't have a story of how one of their ancestors fought and fell in that affair. Much like the merchant based warrior clan of Breen, the caribou of Askr put a great deal of value on personal appearance. Grooming, bathing, and dressing well is considered very important to both bulls and cows alike, with certain perfumes or colognes added to their coats. Typically all members of the clan own at least one article of clothing or an accessory that is the color green and bears their clan’s symbol. For upper class of Jarls it is common custom to come to peace-talks with enemy clans without cloth or armor to show that they are entirely unarmed in good faith. Seers can be found in any clan, but few are as valued as the ones who reside in Clan Askr. This change can likely be attributed to the skills that the shaman here have branched out into. Normally practitioners of Seidr might be more like hermits out in the wilds trying to meditate in order to peer into the vast tapestry of fate. Seers in Askr are more akin to medical shaman, working to mend the minds and bodies of those who have been wounded or taken ill. While they are not able to wield healing spells like some more magically gifted nations, it seems that they have taken a page from Zebra tribe-like methods of potion mixing. While they still practice Seidr and make their vague prophecies, the more mystical aspect has taken something of a backseat to the practical: To be used in times of emergency. Seers however do tend to be devout believers of the major deities to the clan: Hreinn, Tuktu, and Qalipu. Celebrations are very important to these Caribou, seemingly as a way to keep up morale and promote the sense of togetherness that has bound this clan as one so tightly with no threat of division in sight. Mead Halls are usually filled well and musical accompaniment is always to be expected. Dance lines are common occurrences along with instances of good natured flyting: A series of Insult said in verse along to the beat of the song of the moment. One of the traits among members of the clan that seems to exist in some capacity in everybou born in these forests is and unnaturally good sense of direction and spatial awareness. Historians native to Whitescar believe that this trait may have emerged from them in response to the Forest of Frosted Ash’s unusual dimensional properties. It has made them the perfect guides to any traveler in these woods and it seems difficult for them to lose track of where they are in the forest even if they try. One of the most well known thing about the Askr Clan to the world beyond Whitescar is their production of and mastery of Woodworking and carpentry of trees that share their name. The wood from these trees has the uncanny ability to absorb, dissipate, or outright nullify any magical induced energies: a trait that has confounded even the best minds of Neighpon and Equestria alike. To any Caribou Blacksmith who wishes for the best of anti magic inlays for their armor, they must come to Askr. If a clan wishes for the best designed Flying warship or longboat that can withstand almost any magical attack, they must come to Askr. With the abundance of wood in their region and their experiences with it, growing new trees and crafting them into great exploratory vessels and merchant ships has made the clan quite a living now. The warships of theirs that has ever fallen into rebel hooves are known to be a thorn in the side of any culture that relies heavily on magic, usually proving strong enough to withstand and dissipate magical attacks from some of the best magitech defenses and offenses. With their skill as fighters, craftsmanship, and close bonds among their kin, the Askr clan are a powerful force in Whitescar. Between their regular battles with the Rebel clans to the south-east and their home territories natural harshness, it is no surprise that they proof a fearsome foe to their enemies and a true friend to any ally who has earned their goodwill. Traveler’s Guide to Whitescar: Clans of Note Eydis Hildusdottir, Skald and Historian of Clan Hakon
  7. All across Whitescar Caribou deal with these creatures: Trolls. To an outsider it may appear these beings are no different to any of the other monstrous aggressive creatures that roam the lands. This is absolutely untrue. Trolls come in all different sizes, shapes, and can even have entirely different ways of existing. There are, however recurring acts that occur across most of the differing subspecies along with appearances. The most common breed of troll that causes the caribou inhabitants no shortness of grief would be the Cave troll. When outsiders think of the trolls of Whitescar these are most likely what are pictured: bull moose sized creatures, covered in shaggy brown fur, with longish tails. Their maws are full of sharp teeth held by long muzzles, small eyes and a thinly furred face. Known for traveling in packs, stealing from homesteads, and even kidnapping caribou from caravans and in their cradles: These trolls are detested even amongst the rebel clans. It's a shame that those who visit almost hear only about the latest events that the cavern dwellers have caused as they would see that there are a great deal of other trolls in the land who clash greatly with their ground dwelling counterparts. There is a friendly face among the trolls: The Nisse. The Nisse are a curious … and rather cute species of troll when you can convince them to show themselves. Not much larger than a mouse, A Nisse is covered in a large fluff of brown fur. From what has been seen their eyes are rarely visible, typically covered up by the aforementioned fur. They have slightly stubby muzzles and usually you can tell their mood by tiny smiles they sport or the tiny frowns they express... then again it's rare to get them to show themselves to a simple traveler. Usually Nisse make their homes in the dwellings of caribou, rather than messing up the place or stealing from the homeowners they've been most known for cleaning, and assisting with certain things around the house in exchange for food if the owner of the home can provide it. Finding and observing them proves to be a very difficult task, in no small part thanks to their impressive speed and surprising strength. There are no records of them ever harming a caribou of their own accord, rather they have been known to be a great hindrance to thieves who enter a home uninvited. A middle ground between friendly and hostile has been most notably filled by the neutral Forest Trolls. These beings are large enough you could conceivably build a small house on their backs if said backs weren't covered in shrubbery and trees of varying sizes. They seem to be herbivorous, mostly eating berry bushes of all types. If approached carefully and respectfully they are known to tolerate the presence of Caribou so long as they don't attempt anything aggressive towards them. The most unusual trolls that Caribou have dealt with would be the mysterious Hulder. Some skalds and historians are still unsure if they can be called true trolls at all. Seeing as the Hulder have a strange form of unusually attractive members of the caribou species with some subtle and not so subtle hints at their troll origins. A traveler could have met a Hulder without even knowing, as all of them who appear to the rest of Caribou kind wear thick clothing such as robes in order to hide the troll tails that take the place of the small tufted tails natural caribou have. Still a very reclusive species they are not known to be aggressive, in fact they are comparable to the Nisse in that they will sometimes assist hardworking caribou with tasks and then just disappear. The most dangerous and frightening Troll breeds would be elemental trolls. Mountain trolls, Rime Trolls, Wind Trolls, and Sea trolls. These trolls are especially notorious... but few only three of these types have been seen regularly. The Mountain trolls are great stone behemoths, dangerously territorial and aggressive they seem to monitor and patrol the spine of the world serpent. The reason these trolls are rarely encountered during daytimes was made known through them. When the daylight comes and hits them, they turn to their namesake and merge into the mountains until the sunlight fades. Rime trolls also disappear during the daytime, but are also limited to appearing only during freak snowstorms and blizzards. Suspected to be kin to the Wind troll who roam the flatlands. They are known for their ability to produce gale force, freezing winds from their maws. One of the troll breeds who show some form of intelligence, they are often accompanied by large white lupine creatures who produce small whiteouts around them. Any great windstorm that plagues the flatlands or plains out of nowhere at night can readily be blamed on the Wind Trolls known as the Kajsa. Despite their tendency to cause dangerous windstorms they are relatively rare to anger. It is possible to converse with one but don't expect to hold it's attention long before you're blown to the distance for being “Boring”. Sea Trolls are only seen on Whitescar shorelines. Much like the trolls native to the mountains, they tower over most creatures. They tend to build small, crude settlements along the shores and almost never venture inland. They are however fiercely terrotorial and will ambush and assault any vessel in the water or airship that is low enough for them to bring down via thrown projectile. On occasion these creatures can be seen in battles with the Kaiju who harass neighpon, recent reports suggest that they may be trying to tame younger versions of the beasts for unknown purposes. Finally we come to the most difficult to find breed of troll in Whitescare: The Fire Trolls called the Surtr. Visual accounts of this breed are hard to come by as they often make residence in the deepest caverns and ancient ruins of Whitescar. Journals by explorers depict them as being jet black quadrupedal giants with burning orange eyes. Thankfully these beasts rarely leave their dwellings unless provoked or something is stolen from them. To any travelers curious about the trolls. I advise you not try to observe or analyze these creatures without a native guide. Magical Fauna of Whitescar: Trolls Eydis Hildusdottir, Skald and Historian of Clan Hakon
  8. A vast sea of trees... a very accurate description of the Forest that takes up the North and eastern territories of Whitescar. To those who approach this intimidating place would find the name of it confusing, depending on what season one came to see it. Much like all of the lands outside of the serpent's spine, The Whitescar forest is verdant land of such grace that it rivals even that of the forests of Equestria: at least during the warmer season. During the winter seasons is when it lives up to it's name, just like the rest of the land it rests in. As things grow colder, most of the trees that make up the body of the forest turn various shades of ashen gray. Some of the trunks and leaves shifting between muted, dull blues, purples and greens depending on the breed of flora. Those who know the forest well tend not to travel much outside of their homes on the winter nights as it is easy to become lost and wander off the roads. The warmer seasons of Whitescar are when the untamed beauty of the forest is on full display. Lush, tall grasses grow. Great canopies of various trees that let rays from the sun shine through the leaves like fleeting rays of warmth. Flowers, roots, and all types of unusual forms of plant life grow all throughout the soil. Despite the verdant growth, farming is far from easy. Harvesting of the forest's namesake trees occurs fairly often by the powerful clan of the region. The Askr Tree is the abundant in this part of Whitescar: A powerful boon that has helped maintain the power of Clan armies and the creation of longboats due to it's unusual property that allows it to disrupt and nullify many types of magic. Beasts and odd magical beings still roam these woods actively, especially during the night. It is not uncommon to find abandoned settlements set up by those attempting to make a living farther away from the paths showing signs of recent Great troll attacks. Other threats that stalk this forest do exist, but once the sun sets it is best to stay close to the path and set up a camp … and also make sure that you enlist the aide of the Nisse: a group of magical beings that are said to live all throughout the forest. Not dissimilar to the 'breezies' of equestria (at least in size). These entities from the accounts of those who say they've seen them... are diminutive creatures who wear small hats, are sturdy and quick. Gaining their favor by leaving treats outside your hearth or by your campire will result in their protection for the night for campers, and sometimes even useful items brought to them as well. The are tails of other species of troll that stalk the forest, ones I at least think I have not run into. A more difficult to find subspecies of them are said to be heard in the forests at any time of day. These trolls are called the Hulder: The secret. Despite the ominous name, it is entirely possible for a polite visitor to have met them and never known it due to the fact they are identical to caribou. Usually they wear thrick clothing that hides their hind quarters as unlike true clansbou of whitescar... they have the tail of a troll. Even if by some miracle a traveler finds one they are not known to be aggressive and are supposedly quite kind and charitable, usually helping some of the settlers farther away from the clan. Not everything in the forests is settlers and trolls though. There are still old clan sites and battlegrounds that dot this great expanse. ON the few times I asked to go off the trail with my guide he showed me one of the old burial Barrows. Old ruins and large crypts run deep beneath this mounds, some holding treasures, others holding curses. The necromancers who manage to eek out a living in the forest often work their crafts in ancient places like this. The one tomb that we visited had apparently been visited before by one dark sorcerer, but for whatever reason he hadn't returned. At the bottom of the tomb there was a small clearing with trees and a pond, along with a smallish hoard of treasure from ages past. We left it undisturbed. If you meet a member of the clan that holds a tight grip on this forest: The Askr. They would tell you when in the “Skog av Vintern Aska”, that you must follow these three rules. 1. Bring a guide from their clan along if you plan to explore. 2. If you don't plan to explore, stick to the path. 3. Bring food or learn to forage. if you ignore the first two rules: You'll be there for a while. Having strayed from the ath once, I was lucky to be found my guide. While I was in the woods on my own, it felt as if things were much larger. I managed to find an opening in the canopy... and it looked as if the forest had grown five times its size. The Askr guide tells me that the forest has a way of messing with travelers. If you're off the path, distance slowly begins to mean nothing. When we arrived at the clan's city... there was mention of other, secret trails that only the clan dares to tread, but out of respect for my guide: I chose not to dwell on them. Wanderer's Guide to Whitescar Eydis Hildusdottir, Skald and Historian of Clan Hakon
  9. Many ages ago... before even the formation of the land of Neighpon. A great chieftain of the Longma who would be known as the Ryuma in time was gifted a great sword by the Long Dragons. A sword of great length that sung when unsheathed, strong enough to cut through most armors, and damage even the ones it could not fully break. In the many clan wars that had gone in in ancient Long Guo this chieftain proved to be a deadly opponent and wise, if occasionally hot headed leader. Towards the end of the many clan skirmishes there was talks of a great imperial dynasty and unification. The chieftain of this particular clan defied the unification of Long Guo, moving to the nearby lands of Neighpon to carve out a new life for his clan in this land along with Pony species that had settled as well. Here was where the sword gained its name,"Ninhonto no Uta": The Sword of Songs. In neighpon this blade and it's wielder gained a name for itself as it was used in and turned the tide of many battles... the most famous of wars fought with it between caribou clans who sought to take the land from the current inhabitants. The blade demoralized enemy troops, sent commanders packing (sometimes worse). Through the many battles the blade had been reforged several times but with the combined efforts of the Daimyos of that age the caribou menace had been pushed back. Over the ages, The Ninhonto no Uta fell into disuse. In time the species of Neighpon came to see it of their victory over the caribou of Whitescar and a symbol of the land's strength and considered an icon of the country's history: a great artifact. On the day it was set to be delivered to Kyoma to be kept safe in a museum... it did not arrive. The vessel carrying the relic of the country's triumph never arrived in port, and never was found. In the end life went on as usual for the country, with prosperous days ahead. ... The story of sword however, did not end. There are records of a caribou vessel taking a certain ship's cargo after a battle. An oversized blade the crew called a "Nodachi" was taken with intent of being sold off by the new holders of the weapon. They did not bother to unsheath it, to a caribou the neighponese nodachi was an inefficient tool, not meant to meet the thick armors of Caribou forged steel. Finding an owner who cared for a weapon such as this was hard when the blade was first being left to hang in a shop in a bazaar. One day a Bull named Helgi, from an obscure eastern clan took an interest and spent some money on the exotic tool, and brought it home to his family. When unsheathed it made his wife and calves giggle in delight at the beautiful songs it sung (and curiously in the caribou's native tongue no less!). The Clan Helgi belonged to were a group of crafts-bou. Helgi himself, was a woodcutter. Their clan made the best of the magical wooden Inlays that all the caribou used and perfected the process of making flying longboats. The trees they carved down were tough, resilient... and had magic absorbing and nullifying properties when treated right. Many of Helgi's days were spent cutting down trees to be used in the process, scavenging for food for his family and one day and fixing their hit to protect them from the harsh cold of the land. A day when he was hard at work with the first option was the day that would mark a great change in his fate. A broken axe: This was how it began. He had only just gotten to the perfect point when the tree would fall down. Just a few more good nicks and it would be set for the next stage of the inlay preparation process. He took up the sword: It had an edge... that was good enough. He lifted the blade up and swung... and was surprised when he saw the sword had cut through not only the tree before him like it wasn't even there, but also the five trees behind it! He could hardly believe his eyes! This was much more useful than he'd thought! The excited caribou named the sword on the spot. He called her the "skogsröjning sång": The forest clearing song". Helgi kept the properties of the blade secret, he was happy enough making enough coin to give his family the better life they needed. No more cold nights where they needed to nail their furskin "door" shut. No more worrying over if they could have a good life... and for a time Helgi had lived happily. Then came the days of the two faced Chieftain. The chieftain of their eastern clan had changed... their older chieftain having passed under mysterious circumstances left them under the reign of dangerous bull. A warrior with a kind face, but the heart of a lindwurm underneath. Forcing crafters to become soldiers in unwinnable situations in attempts to seize power and territories from other clans. Food levels plummeting and some calves being taken to serve as soldiers away from their parents. For the sake of his family and all the Clan, Helgi challenged the chieftain to a duel for the fate of their clan before he brought them into utter ruin. To the duel, the sweet faced monster brought a great hammer. Helgi on his end held an oversized sword still in its sheath. He applauded the stallion's audacity to bring such a weapon to a fight against an opponent in finer armor such as his. The duel started... and with one swing, and a snippet of a verse of a song it was done. The chieftain Fell and Then rose Helgi, The new chieftain... of the Askr Clan. This is a story of Helgi. One of the oldest heroes of the history of the Askr and his magical singing sword. This blade has been with the Whitescar clan from their earliest days. AS the clan grew the blade would prove to be something they cherished and rarely used... only when situations grew dire. As Askr grew more prosperous, attacks on the hold grew less regular.. but when they came enemies of the clan would come in force. Many of these attacks were repelled on the clan's own strength, but some of the most horrifying siege's required the use of the clan's first artifact weapon... And always this blade would be used by the best the clan had to offer. The weapon proved to be an excellent trump card against invasions and halted many. Heroes from the rise of the clan rose to the things of legend and would sometimes fall in battle with it in hoof, but always with their enemy having fallen first. The blade has slain lindwurms and whiteout wolves... and has on occasion disposed of commanders for ages until it's home clan learned the finer points of battle and became the most powerful clan in the east... now it is held safe in the Chieftain's hold and many visiting species from other nations who are brave enough to tour Whitescar have seen this mystical blade. Over the ages and through it's many battles it has been changed, the blade has remained the same but the hilt, the pommel, the grip, it even has a new sheathe... It was on a day that it was unsheathed that a neighponese visitor believed that it was the sword of myth... the Ninhonto no Uta. In the hooves of caribou! Word has spread across whitescar and Neighpon and has reached even neighboring countries of a debate between the chieftain of the clan holding the blade and none other than the shogun of Neighpon. Historians, artificers, diplomats, and nearby rulers and the politically knowledgeable specie is free to observe these events as they go on with messages being relayed to parties in the audience present. The history between Neighpon and Whitescar is a heated one. More stubborn and traditional clans from the region still ransack villages, attack and steal vessels along with the cargo on board... Today a major player in the Whitescar political scene whose territory is close to Neighpon will speak to it's leader to decide the fate of the blade, history, and the relationship between Neighpon and Whitescar. The debate will be held in Canterlot with anyone present free to comment and converse with fellow audience member's via messengers in the audience. Debaters: Chieftain Sigrun of Clan Askr Rakuen Ryuichi Shogun of Neighpon Debater's advisors: (Sigrun) Halvard of the Vakystra (Ryuichi) Sanda Audience: Aikuro(?) Medo Ice storm Sunrise skies Javasun Swift Squall I hope there are some parties interested in seeing how this plays out!
  10. An outside observer would rarely come to the conclusion that Caribou politics were all that complicated or sophisticated. Clans did what they needed to survive, and hit each other if their needs conflicted until one side stopped. Like most such simple views, it lasted in the mind of the tourist until he first came upon an inconvenient fact, such as all the blue-colored caribou that seemed to be spread about over Whitescar. These strange beasts were members of Clan Breen, and they were all over the place because a great many of them had chosen service in the Vakstrya, the guardians of the roads of the continent, over expulsion from the limited clan territory. Over time, they had more or less begun to take over that organization, putting themselves in charge of it's way stations, trading posts, and fortifications across Whitescar. Which could be considered problematic, if you were, for instance, King of Whitescar, and harbored concerns about clans with independent bases of power. Clan Breen was... not exactly a follower of the current High King's standard. They didn't oppose his policies, but they maintained an aloof attitude towards his agenda, focusing more upon their own affairs, and waiting to see how the chips fell. After all, the roads would need guarding, no matter who called themselves King. One such member of the Vakstyra, Halvard, was making himself conspicuous in Heil, spending his winnings from the Arena in Saarvergerg. And not making a secret of where the gold came from, either. As the King had actively discouraged arena battling of the sort of stakes that Halvard would be talking about, this was perhaps not a development that he could afford to ignore... ~ To say the politics of Whitescar were not the normal faire would be an understatement. No one knew this better than the High King, who rose to power through feats of strength and became known for his wisdom after he had visions. Though many of the clans have either allied or defected, one clan remains aloof in the grand scheme, performing the duty it has for generations. Clan Breen. They did their duty and they did it well, however their nonloyalty to the greater clans of Whitescar was worrysome. Havardr did not mind so much lack of loyalty to him, but the lack of loyalty towards their people was something not to be permitted. Gaining power for the good of Heil-Barn, maintaining a place within was something to be applauded. The king still valued strength, because strength was still required to maintain peace. It was vicious usurpers like the Red Jarl, whom seemed to thrive on violence and carnage that was not the be tolerated. The King got word of one of Breen fighting for money in the Arena. The king didn't always like the arena, even though he once did the same for honour, but fighting for money seemed dirty in a way. The king made his way there and saw the bull he had heard of, Halvard of Breen, Vakstrya of Whitescar. The king made his approach as he was collecting his winning. "Fighting for honour is one thing Halvard of Breen, but fighting for large sums of money is quite another. It is a perversion of the traditions of the Caribou." The king opened to Halvard. "I do believe it is time to discuss the stance of Breen among the clans of the land of Whitescar." ~ Halvard was not what one would call a boisterous sort. Well, relative to most caribou. He could drink and carouse, for that was in the blood of all his people, but in character he was more of a wry sort, and more apt to spend his money on equipment upgrades to the full suit of armor he insisted upon lugging about everywhere. He was just concluding his business with the smith when the King approached him. The heavily-loaded caribou was nonetheless quick with his reply. "I fight to sharpen my own skills against opponents of many kinds, and there is only one arena in this continent where I have the widest range of opponents. If they choose to give me gold, that is their business." Clan Breen did have a reputation for pragmatism, and Halvard was doing nothing to dispute it. "I'm flattered that you think us politically important, and me politically fit to discuss such matters." His tone was dry and even, almost amused. Certainly not the sort of reverential respect one would expect to give one's king. But then, Halvard himself had never sworn loyalty... ~ The king listened to Halvard and his flippant attitude. Everything he had remembered about Breen seemed to hold true to this moment. Still, if the king wished to secure the support of Breen, he would need to go to most of them individually, and this was his first stop, as it was a rather important route. The King listened to his reasoning and nodded. Fighting for the betterment of himself was a worthy endeavor. The King once had skirimishes for similar reasons, the only difference was lack of prize money, which is why the king looked down upon that. When money gets involved it clouds one's judgement usually... "Do you know why I disapprove of these fighting arenas? It isn't because I disapprove of fighting." The king gave a pause. "Quite the opposite, I have found in my years that fighting for monetary gain in such arenas clouds the judgement and can send those with good intentions down a dark path...." He looked at Halvard's demenor and his current attire "However, you do not seem to fall into that category. I hope you continue on the path you are on and the ignore monetary gains." And there it was the comment about self importance. Well it wasn't that he was the most important of the clan, but the Vakstyra were unique, often acting on their own. "In the grand scheme, the individuals of Breen are as important compared to the whole. As the Vakstyra are often on their own paths ensuring safety I felt it most beneficial to discuss such matters with everyone individually. If it makes it to the clan as a whole, then so be it. Yours is a passage that seems of the greatest important for trade, and so I have elected to speak with you first. " The king looked upon his fellow bou and saw that he really didn't care for his position, which was fine. He was not an advisary like the Red Jarl and should not be treated as such. "I merely wish to make an agreement so that we may all be on the same page. Whether or not you swear fealty is irrelevant, so much as your oath to keep the roads safe and to not ally yourself with enemies of bou kind." ~ Well, it seemed his majesty wasn't going to push the point of arena fighting. Which was just as well. It seemed the king had a dim view of mercenary attitudes towards combat, though Halvard wasn't quite sure about what 'dark path' he was referring to. The bull shrugged, which was impressive when one considered the weight of metal that he bore upon his shoulders. "There's more efficient ways of getting money if one wants it in any case. Haven't much to spend it on, myself, aside from equipment and the like." His features grew a shade more serious as the king discussed the reasons that individuals were being sought out among his clan. It was true, Clan Breen tended to value the contributions of individuals, both in material and decision making, somewhat more than other clans. Mostly this was because so many of them were spread out, and to send word back to the jarl every time a decision needed to be made was inefficient, to say the least. But increased initiative from the parts did not make it easy to achieve a consensus from the whole... "An agreement..." Halvard considered the matter. "It's worth much to us already to keep the trade routes open, and our guard posts garrisoned. Much of what the Vakstyra swear to do already is according to what you wish..." The bull frowned, considering the last point. "With all due respect, however, we perform such for all clans, whether they are sworn to you or not. Many times, we can bargain to keep caravans from being raided, or at least minimize the dangers to trade, because we are known to deal evenly with both the friends and enemies of the king. We are many, and strong, but not so much as to continue our patrols across swaths of hostile territory." ~ Havardr nodded at the response to the arena. "This is true, there are better ways, but still it is wise to be weary." The king did not wish to press the issue, nor did he see any value in it. The king laughed under his breath with a bit of a "heh." Clearly Halvard did not understand what he actually implied. "You seem to misunderstand..." The king started "I am well aware of your clans desire to remain neutral, however, there are enemies which wish to reign in chaos to the world. The agreement is in regards to these, or rather your actions in regards to how you bargain. And naturally in return, you will have not only my support but the support from my allies which I am always seeking to expand. Peace, you see, is my overall goal. However peace cannot be obtained without some use of force, as I'm sure you are aware. Your keeping a fair hold on the trade routes is a large part of that. If you ally yourself with those whom wish to bring chaos, things may not work in the favour of anyone. This is why I said you need not pledge fealty to me or anyone else, just reach an agreement of total neutrality to prevent anyone from causing damage to the trade routes which may disturb my efforts toward peace. There is one in particular who might seek your aid to prevent caravans from the Crystal Empire through some of your routes as we are currently trying to repair relations." The king honestly only wanted Breen on his side so much so as anyone wished to have a clear trade route. His fear was more of an enemy destroying the trade route, perhaps through means that did not seem overtly destructive. The routes would also be used diplomatically and having a poor impact there could lead to further war and destruction... ~ Ah, so this had to do with the King's international efforts, did it? Halvard tended to consider such things above him up to now. Being forced to consider them brought new thoughts into his head that he wasn't sure how to deal with. When he spoke, it was slowly and carefully. "In my experience... there are few who truly wish for chaos. Mostly, they wish for honor, traditions, and goods. And they don't seem to care much whether the latter come by trading or raiding. Granted, they would trade with caribou and raid ponies, but that is an issue resolvable by use of our trading posts. We can store the goods in large depots, and have merchants buy and sell from there, rather than having one caravan make the journey from the port at Barn out to the clan lands. If you don't mind us selling to all, we can ensure the goods will be delivered." ~ The king listened intently and needed to formulate his response carefully... "Trading posts can only do so much. And Breen's involvement within them is still great." The king paused as he considered his next words carefully. "And to suggest that it is an impregnible system is foolhearty..." The king decided to go in for the big attack, something he heard whispers of. "It would seem to me that Breen would resist agreements that could only strenthen the clan. No one within the clans that consider me their king are under any obligation to remain allied with me, but they all benefit from the strength of the alliance." ~ "No defense needs to be impregnable. It only needs to last long enough for succor to arrive. And no trading post we establish is without without a Vakstyra garrison, nor farther from a days march from another." As quick to reply as before, but now there was a shift in Halvard's attitude. It was subtle, but the king might be able to sense the change from the quipper to the haggler. "Our clan's strength is dependent on informal alliances. No clan bordering the roads we patrol would make themselves our enemy, for if we tell their neighbors that they threaten their travel..." He smiled, but only briefly. "Our coverage is not yet complete, however. And we are now bordering on territories where we cannot establish our garrisons if we are seen to be too close to you. But, once we were to secure those passages... Well, we should endeavor to keep them peaceful and open, and would accept aid from those who would share this goal." A first offer. An understanding, more than a formal alliance, but one that promised to pay dividends for patience. ~ Havardr gave a bit of a laugh and a wry smile. He was no fool, he quite plainly saw where Halvard was going. A shrewd negotiator without a doubt, but not too terribly subtle. "It is not your enemies I'm worried about, it is those whom would act under false pretense. But let us leave that for now." The High King paused and looked at Halvard appraisingly. Breen's ambitions were no secret and Havardr knew this well and had long since planned to use it to his advantage. "Let us not feign false pretense for this meeting..." Halvardr's demenor changed markedly from his lighter demenor which he had sported to start this discourse. "You claim you have holes in your coverage, and wish to strive for peace. I believe that an accord can be reached between your clan and myself to meet our common goals." ~ "Thank you, your majesty. It is a frank relief to be free of the necessity of walking around rather than straight to the point." Harvard's shoulders lifted, as if some great burden had been shifted off his armor plating. "I simply wanted to see if you were willing to do business on equal terms. But perhaps we should at least talk over the deal somewhere more private?" ~ Havardr nodded at the response. "The round about starts are always stifling but are somewhat necessary for talks such as these. Knowing the state of mind and disposition of your opposite is a rather important part of any discussion." The king replied. Upon hearing the suggestion to moving to a place more private. "Yes, privacy would be good now that we are moving to the actual discussions. Do you have a place in mind?" ~ Halvard considered the question. "There is a Vakstyra station nearby, which may afford privacy. But if you would prefer to conduct such negotiations in your own stronghold here, I would understand." ~ The king would normally prefer to do this in a clan stronghold, however there were many advantages of using the Vakstryra station, chiefly that it was part of his aim. "You did not need to suggest my hold. I approached you, not the other way around. The Vakstyra station is also closer. Time is a valuable commodity, and one which should not be wasted frivolously for an illusion of comfort or security." The king replied giving his subsequent reasoning. "Please lead the way." ~ Halvard nodded, and set off towards the station. It was... not quite like anything else in Whitescar. Or rather, it had elements of almost everything, in a way that few buildings attempted to encompass. Within a set of fortified walls, one had a small barracks to house the Vakstyra caribou themselves, a small storehouse and shop for merchants to trade goods, and a lookout tower to observe the roads and sky for travel conditions. The bull posted at the gate was evidently surprised to see King Havardr enter, but a nod from Halvard made him keep his peace. "We shan't be disturbed, and he won't tell half the city where you are." Halvard explained as they walked in. ~ The High King was very familiar with various outposts. He was quite active in his youger days but even still, having such a cold reception was rather different for him. Even before he was king he was a well known leader. He wasn't sure what would have happened if Halvard hadn't given the signal to be at ease to the guard, but any avoidable confrontation was appreciated by him, especially for peace talks. "I see your security is even willing to stand against one such as myself." The king was of course referring not only to his being a king, but his imposing stature and his history of being adept at battle. He continued to follow Halvard to a room where they could discuss business. As a sign of trust Havardr removed his trusty spear and left it at the door to the room. "I do not think such things will be needed here, unless you think it wise we both remain armed..." The king said slyly. "So now, down to business. I do believe we can reach an agreement of mutual benefit. And fear not, I do not ask anyone to swear fealty, that is not conductive to anything." The king nodded and continued... "Put simply I have resources and you have control of the trade routes. While I'm sure the Vakstra are rather strong, I'm sure using the my resources to bolster your power and influence on deeper trade routes would not be an adverse arrangement." ~ It was, actually, something of an open question of what would have happened if the King had made an aggressive move. The Vakstrya were strong defensive fighters, but most of them would be out on patrol at this hour. Long-term, of course, any fighting between them would be disastrous to both, hence each's willingness to come to terms. Halvard left his own weapon beside Havardr's, but kept his armor on as he moved into the room. "It would certainly be a boon, your majesty." The bull replied, taking a seat by the stone table in the center. In the flickering torchlight, there seemed to be a great many markings upon the tabletop. Closer inspection would have revealed it to be... a map of Whitescar, carved into the rock! Not exactly to scale, though; the Western side of the continent was proportionally larger than the Eastern side, but the reason for that was apparent enough: the map was of all the trade routes and Vakstrya stations, which were much more densely packed in the west than in the east. Halvard watched the king for his reaction. "Not many bou outside of our clan or organization ever see this map. Those who do are often surprised at all the roads they never knew about." ~ The king smiled at the reaction of his would be guide into the hold. Clearly they thought the same about altercations. There would be no good to come of it, and that is why they were together at this moment. With both their weapons at the door, Havardr felt they could be on equal terms. This is despite the fact that Halvard sttill had his armour, however the king considered this to be less an affront and more habit. He too was a young bull believing that being in armour meant being ready for anything. It was not a foolish thing to consider either, but the king's confidence had become such that relinquishing such once thought necessities was no longer even a question in his mind. "The boon would be to both, make no mistake. Peace is far more profitable than war. In more ways than one." They came to a table which had a map inlaid. The great stone map had various trade routes in the west layed out in intricate detail. The king nodded at this map. "I'm not sure if you were aware of my history, but I was once known as the "Wandering King" seeking both war and peace in my younger years. Seeking to expand my influence through all of Whitescar." This was in all likelihood a silly question since the Vakstrya were one of the clans that resisted this more... forceful approach. "I became aware of many routes across the whole of Whitescar... And even still there are some on this map in the west that I don't recognize. The expanse of these routes is most impressive, and I can only consider that some only were created after I had ceased traveling as much as I did after the Vakstrya truely came into their own as a clan controlling the western trade..." The King paused when he said this. He looked up at the queues from Halvard, hoping that he did not cross any lines. "However your cover in the east is abysmal." The king smiled. "I can see why you are not adverse to talks..." The king reached into a small bag he was carrying at his side attached to the light magic reflecting armour that was so well known in Whitescar. Against caribou this armour would be shattered in seconds, but it was not something that he was all too concerned with. The king rolled out the parchment onto the table. Since you have shown me yours I shall show you mine. The map was quite a bit different. The two sides were more equal in size, but the east was far more detailed. The main trade routes in the west were well documented but as the king realized, they were scarcely incomplete. Most of the additions he did on his own from his travels. The east however had just as much intricacy as the west of the stone map that the parchment rested on. "I believe we can say we have opposite problems when it comes to trade, though we are slightly more selective on who may move through our routes than the Vakstrya. This however can be negotiated of course, in the interest of expanding global trade." The king paused "However, I have heard whispers that expanding trade routes is not the only thing the Vakstrya are after...." ~ Havardr's younger years were before Halvard's time, and it was not until after his Will Test that the bull had taken much interest in the world outside the fjords and valleys of Clan Breen's home country. But he could understand what it was that had led the King to wander, to defy distance and impose his wishes upon the land. Perhaps he, too, felt that there was magic in the roads themselves, in the way that they seemed to squeeze far places together. Of such magic was the Vakstyra's sacred trust. Halvard took no offense on the King's remarks about their eastern coverage. "We have had to work our way across the continent station by station. And the further we are from our homeland, the less we tend to be trusted by the locals. I myself have been in talks with potential allies but... Royal Aid would certainly not go amiss with us." He stared, fascinated, down at the map the king now spread out. "This is... valuable. Though I don't know how many would estimate its value truly." Raising an armor-clad leg, Halvard traced along the road that led up from Barn to Heil, and then east to the territory of Clan Askr, all the way through to Saarvergerg. He didn't look up immediately after Harvardr remarked on further plans of the Vakstyra. When Halvard replied, it was with words chosen carefully. "We... have developed our own opinions about the best course of action which the caribou as a whole should take, with respect to their traditions and their future. We seek to persuade through what methods we have to use, for the good of us all." ~ Havardr surveyed Halvard's expressions closely. This was where things could get interesting. Both have shown their hand with the core of this meeting, the trade routes. Next would be the strength of their abilities in combat, but this is something Havardr hoped would be secondary to the meeting. "There is no other way to increase one's coverage. There are no short cuts. Even if one manages to take a kingdom by force, if one doesn't explore for themselves, things are often missed." The king was speaking from experience here. In the beginning when clans were joining with him, not even by force, not all was known. The map he had placed down was the result of not only his exploration, but him sending out special scouts with cartography skills to learn everything they could. "As for being trusted by locals, it all depends on how you present yourself. A show of force can only get you so far... I learned that the hard way. Learning to inspire hope rather than fear was an important lesson." The king smiled "As for having royal aid... that is why we are here." Halvard surveyed the map more closely, clearly impressed... "Yes, intelligence is the greatest weapon and asset. The wise understand its value." The king said appraisingly of Halvard. "As for the path of the caribou, I would be interested to hear what your 'opinions' are. However, bear in mind, I do not think there is a caribou out there that wishes the destruction of our kind, even the Red Jarl believes what he is doing is for the best, as misguided as he may be." ~ The Vakstyra guard was not ungrateful for the generosity with which Havardr spread the wisdom of his years. Far from it; it was not only valuable in and of itself, but it gave Halvard an insight into how the mind of the King worked. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but add some clarifying commentary, "It must be said, however, that a show of force is often very effective, in its way. Although, not always in the way most bulls would expect. For example, in my last trip to Saar, I matched up against Jarl Sigrun. According to the judges, I lost the match, but given that my performance was enough to win her respect... I was able to win full approval for Vakstyra establishment within Askr territory. I doubt a battlefield victory could have gained so much as that Arena loss." Not to mention the fact that it was unlikely in the least that he could ever gain battlefield victory over the Silver-Eyed Queen of the East, but that was another matter. As to the king's last question, though... Halvard frowned. The old bull sounded as if he were fair-minded, but there were a great many things about Clan Breen that he did not know. Perhaps it was best to start with an obvious fact, and it's implications. "You see on the map, how the home territory of my clan is in the Far West of Whitescar? The Southern Wilds are on the Far East of the continent. Which means that every single caribou of our clan, from time immemorial, has had to go all the way there, and all the way back. On average, the journey takes up to a full year, and that's not including the time dedicated to the Will Test itself. And it has occurred, to many of us, as we were spending all that time tramping the roads, that there were a great many more useful things we could be doing with that time." Halvard had spoken slowly, deliberately, at pains to emphasize his reasonableness. True, Havardr had been known to be willing to cast off a few old caribou traditions, but what the blue-coated young bull was saying here had capital-R Radical implications. The Will Test wasn't just a tradition, it was the tradition, one of the common touchstones that all caribou shared. To suggest that it might be cast off, like a useless period of idleness, betrayed a strain of thinking in Clan Breen that even His Majesty might find a little hard to swallow... ~ "We seem to be talking about different shows of force" The King began is calculated response. "Trial by combat, what you refer to, is a time honored tradition among Caribou and a way to gain respect." The king smiled "Do you think I gained the power I did among the caribou by being a weak king incapable of winning in single combat?" The king was leading into the brunt of it though. "I am talking about war and skirmishes... they are rather different... They often do not work... Subjugating people, any people, can cause a resurgance or uprising of those whom feel the occupation or control is unwarrented or unjust. It is this realization that took time to see in my long life..." The silver-eyed queen Jarl Sigrun was brought up specifically... "As for the young Jarl... she is a fine cow with an extreme pride. She respects strength almost to a fault. Due to this she almost fell in league with the Red Jarl... But that is not important, she like many other bulls and cows will respect a caribou combatant if they fought well in single combat, though she would more than most in my experience..." The young bull of Clan Breen answered his inquiry rather directly. And his answer was intriguing to say the least... To suggest the removal of the Will Test was.. curious. But not without reason, and the idea piqued the king's interest. With a raised brow, the King answered succinctly "You mean to suggest the removal of a time honoured tradition...? It is something that helps weed out the weak. But... please continue with this... I want to hear more of how you mean to employ this while protecting those under your charge..." ~ "War may not work... but you are in one, all the same. I am curious as to how you propose to bring it to a successful conclusion." It was not sarcasm on Halvard's part; he really was curious. Knowing the High King's endgame plans would give Clan Breen good information on how to best position themselves. But now, the conversation was now solidly on Clan Breen's position upon the traditions. Halvard took a deep breath; this was something that he had been thinking on for some time, but not dared crystallize into anything like a hard manifesto. Like lava upon a glacier, the cracking and crashing might cause too much destruction in the world of his thought. But now, the words were coming. "We... in the clan, began to wonder what was meant by the word 'weak.' The Will Test might spare our best warriors, but take from us our best beekeepers. And after a very lean winter long ago, we began to think the trade was not a beneficial one. It is known that even those who do not pass a Will Test may earn their entry by other means; Jarl Sigrun's own sister is an example. Our own clan began to be creative in how many we allowed, and for what purpose. The Vakstyra was one of these, which is why it is still almost entirely made up of our clan. It is also why we have had enough caribou in our clan to patrol the whole of the country. We didn't waste them by sending them one at a time into a hostile country to swell the ranks of undead armies." His voice had grown flatter and more sardonic by the end of it. "Waste... that's what it is. A waste a time, a waste of good caribou. What could we have done with those that we threw away?" ~ "One can consider the current state of affairs "war", however there is no one singular entity with which the caribou, as a collective of clans or individual clans are taking up arms against. There is of course the Red Jarl's forces, however he seems to have turned gurilla, and so we are not engaged in open war with him. As for skirimishes with other clans, there are hardly any. As I've said, I've tried to take a more diplomatic apporoach in my old age." The king smiled wryly, because while he was considerably older than many caribou under his charge, he was still among the most athletic and imposing in battle, and many recognized and respected this fact. Halvard began to explain Clan Breen's position on the will test. "Interesting..." The king began "Honestly, to begin with, the will test was never meant to cause great harm to those whom undertook it. However, I do see your position..." The king gave a pause while he considered his words carefully. "While it would be difficult to see all clans removing the tradition, I see no reason why Clan Breen could not follow that path. I have removed many traditions from my clan back when I was a Jarl, traditions which I felt were archaic and not conducive to prosperity. Many other clans saw this as an affront to their own values and until they united under me and made me High King, it was difficult to find common ground with them. Though most still respected my strength and the strength of my clan. That said, I have never imposed my will regarding traditions on clans at large, I do not see the vaule. Many clans have traditions that I do not agree with and I make my position known, but the ultimate decision rests with the leaders of that clan. Whether they take my council is up to them. I... see no reason why your clan must adhere to the tradition of the Will Test, especially after you have discussed and found it ill to your clan's well being..." ~ "I see..." Halvard regarded the High King with a measure of favorable respect. The blue-coated caribou now felt as if he had a good idea of what the royal policy was. "So, if I understand you correctly, you believe in extending a great deal of self-determination to the clans as regards most of the old traditions... save for the suicidal expeditions to the Spine." He gave Hravardr a wry smile. "I have to say, we're with you one-hundred percent on that one." He took a deep breath, leaning back from the map on the stone table. "Well! I think we have come to an understanding, and agreement. I feel you're the sort of bull one can take at their word, but it would be a convenience to me if I could have a written charter to bring back to my chieftain." ~ The king gave a smile, as he felt they were finally coming to an understanding. "Even the trips to the Spine, I would not impose on anyone. To begin with, it is a choice. I imposed no choice on that particular tradition when I was Jarl, not for the sake of tradition, but to purify my decaying clan. We were in a state of disarray, and the clan surely would have fallen if not for that expedition that left only the strongest and most loyal, for even those whom weren't strong were carried by their bretheren." The king stopped, realizing this was a rare occurence... Very rarely had he ever before stated why he, himself, after casting away so many ancient traditions, forced his entire clan to join him to the Spine. "And I am glad we are finally reaching an understanding, and that you feel I am worthy of being taken at my word." The King gave an almost inaudible chuckle. This was rather a new thing for him. Most took him at his word because of his prestige and legacy. For someone to tell him that he was trust worthy was something rather new to him. Halvard brought up notating a charter. "If you have a writing impliment handy we can get started on that charter for your chieftain" ~ "Oh, so that's the story, is it?" It was somewhat different from the picture of events that Halvard had held. But then, Clan Breen had never imposed such an expedition upon itself, and as such had only a vague idea of what it actually involved. Halvard himself had always thought of it as a kind of blood sacrifice, but apparently that wasn't quite accurate. In any case, he was quick to fetch the writing implements. The Vakstyra kept them handy to record trade and inventory. "There you are. Mind the ink; it is some time before our next delivery." ~ The king nodded "It was not one of my finer moments, but to this day I felt it necessary to save my clan and bring us forward." The king did not feel any more needed to be said regarding this matter as he picked up the quill and dipped it into the ink to start drawing up the charter. To conserve ink the king made an abbreviated charter using bullet points. He outlined the Vakstrya's rights to continue to guard the roads of Whitescar, including royal support to aid in expansion and setting up new garrisons where they had little coverage previously. This would be in exchange for the Vakstyta's aid in keeping the King informed of those whom might want to do harm to the caribou and their goals. Thje king did not put details as that would be up for discussion with the Chieftain when the official charter would be drawn up by them both so that the arrangement would be mutually beneficial, but the chieftain would understand the core of the arrangement. The next set of bullet points detailed self-governace. From the clan's ability to keep ruling as they see fit, to ability to set their own traditions and laws, so long as they didn't go against the core values of the clans under the king. Once again those were not outlined as the parchment detailing those would be brought when the official charter would be drawn up by both clans in unison. The king signed it and rolled it for Halvard. "I think that should cover everything discussed. This is not an official charter, and the final would be drawn when your chieftain and I meet officially to solidify the agreement. Feel free to read through it, I kept it short to ensure the lowest amount of ink used, so to not deplete your stores. However there is still ample amount should I have missed anything that you would like me to add, but I feel I hit most of the main points from this meeting..." ~ Halvard took the piece of parchment, reading it over before blowing once to dry the ink. "I believe this will be sufficient until the official charter is drawn up." He replied, as he began rolling it up. "I shall convey it to our chieftain and shaman personally." He brought out a small tube in which he secured the preliminary charter, before replacing it in his satchel. "Once again, your majesty, thank you. I believe Whitescar shall benefit from what we have agreed upon here." ~ The king smiled at Halvard's words. "I agree, and look forward to the response. Feel free to send any correspondance directly to my hold. I shall inform them that discussions have been opened with Clan Breen, so your messangers shall be welcomed as honoured guests." The king extended a hoof to shake. "A shake to the future prosperity of the Caribou nation. I look forward to future meetings with Clan Breen." With that the king moved to retrieve his spear that he had left at the entrance at the beginning and holstered it. "Until next time, unless you feel that it best you escourt me out." The king said with a bit of a laugh, knowing how the guards looked at him as he entered. ~ Halvard took his hoof and shook it. "To our future prosperity... and peace." And with that shake, they both took their leave of the place. The King stepping back into his duties, and the Vakstyra guard into a new phase of his career.
  11. "So... Halvard. I wanted to apologize for what happened in the Arena." ~ "Mph... No apologies are needed for a fight fairly won." ~ "Oh no .. not that I was apologizing for sneezing on you." she said with a slightly embarassed chuckle. ~ "Ah!" Enlightenment dawns on his face, and he begins to chuckle as well. "I don't seem to have caught anything from that, so no foul. Besides, that's one more tactic I have for my arsenal. Never know when an unexpected sneeze might come in handy." ~ "You and me fighting on a battle... you with a pike in hoof with a feather on the blunt end for me to sneeze advancing troops away from us?" she suggest with a laugh and twitch of her snout. ~ Halvard may have smiled at the joke, but some day, in the future, Sigrun would find that from that day forward, he kept a feather in his travel bag. "Indeed. It is to learn such novel tactics that I came to Saar. The Caribou who innovate will have a future." ~ "Indeed they shall... I look forward to seeing another great warrior in the fature when my mane goes grey and I'm to leave the future of us to the next generation." ~ Halvard nodded. The future... he was beginning to think seriously about it for the first time in his life. He'd had time to think about the King's pronouncements, and a letter from home had told him his own chieftain's thoughts. He wondered, now, how close he and Sigrun were in their visions. "I think... the future they go into may be very different from the past that we have known. We are living in a time of changes." ~ We indeed do... some being changes for ourselves... the bull I thought was to be joined with me wound up becoming a rebel and no w his little brother has become like the son I never had..." THe cow chuckled nostalgically and looked to Havard. "If you'd told me this was how my life was going to go... I'd have... well I wouldn't punch a face like yours unless I had to... maybe slapped." ~ Halved had to laugh at that. "I don't know if I would have reacted so violently myself; things have rather turned out better than I could have reasonably expected. I met you, for one thing. Not something any bou from my homeland would have expected, if only because of the distance involved." ~ "I admire you for making the trip... I do hope you'll stay a while. " she smiled at him ~ Halvard hadn't been sure how long he would stay; after all, he had his patrol duties... but looking at Sigrun, and her smile, seemed to convince him. "I should be happy to! I fancy there is much that we have to talk over." He could always spin it towards Vakstyra business, after all; the East needed patrolling as much as the West. And as for his conversations with Sigrun... if he mentioned politics from time to time, maybe he could justify the time to the chief as well-spent. ~ "Just talk?... oh you have so much to learn about my clan's ways." she said with a mischievous smile upon her lips ~ Halvard raised an eyebrow, but continued smiling. "Ah... well then, I am willing to be your humble student, then." ~ SIgrun walks calmly along side Halvard before breaking her stride, her muzzle scrunching up. ~ Halvard stops short, seeing that Sigrun is about to sneeze. In full armor, he couldn't run, and had no cloth on him to catch it. So, the only thing he could do is brace himself... ~ "hahh... ahhh.... haahhh HAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH... Gotcha." The cow smirked mischievously. ~ Halvard let out a whoosh of breath, his armor clanking in relief. "Please don't do that too often; I might be caught off guard the next time you really do let loose." ~ "Don't worry... so long as we're not in equestria that's not as likely to happen." ~ "Ah, that's good to know." Halvard smiled, a little curious. "I have never been South, and I am curious... I have heard many contradictory things about those who live there. Some say that they are peaceable, soft... and others that they are patriotic and fierce defenders, clever in battle and undefeated in war. Quite the range of testimonies." ~ "They have... a worrisome history but they are primarily peaceful. They also have access to a powerful magic that only they seem to be able to use most efficiently." she said with a soft laugh before looking to the bull. "It can make some caribou worry how we coudl defeat such an enemy if they shoudl choose to destroy us. In the end for now they are simply pacifists who are not afraid to fight... " The cow scrubbed a hoof to an itchy snout, "and their greenery is the most active iI've ever experienced." ~ Laughter rumbled from the heavily armored bull at the last words, but he paused, thinking. "I wonder if their greenery has anything to do with their pacifism. What would they be like, if their land were as cold as ours?" ~ "I'm told it was for a while and it almost destroyed them... but sometimes even they dont seem to understand their own history." The cow shrugged , "If we switched climates with them though I probably would never have bother to learn to fight or lead my clan ." she admitted with a slight laugh. ~ "Hmm...." Halvard's brows furrowed in thought, before suddenly rocketing up as he stomped the ground. "By the Nameless, I've figured it out!" He turned to Sigrun, talking excitedly. "The key to the contradictory behaviors of the sudden nations! They are peaceable now... because they are living off the spoils of their ancestor's conquest! When they spread across their lands, they fought winter... and won. I have even heard tell that now, it only comes on sufferance, and that they hold the power to make it go away whenever they wish. Do you not see in that the power of a conquerer over a defeated enemy?" ~ "I could ... but the fact is in whitescar there are many conquerers who wish to conquer each other... I'm technically one of them with my campaign in the east." She admitted, stepping back a moment at the hoofstamp so as not to cause repeat of the previous day at the arena. ~ "Yes... the clans fight each other from time to time, but we all must fight winter. But we have never fought winter with the intention to win, only to survive until the next." Halvard shakes his head, looking out towards the snow-capped peaks upon the horizon. "Of course, I don't know how we would. Perhaps we can't, here. But if you ever wanted to know what I should wish to conquer... well, I aim high." ~ The Jarl smiled a bit, "I'm listening." Her ears perking slightly and swiveling towards Halvard as if to punctuate her statement. ~ Confronted with an eager listener, Halvard's reticence abandoned the field without a fight. He raised a hoof to sweep across the whole vista. "The Land. Many say that, but mean simply that they wish all caribou to obey them. I wish for the Land to Obey us. That it shall bring forth from its soil what we desire and need, and nothing more. That it shall not freeze before we wish it, and shall thaw when we dictate." "We have lived too long being ruled by Whitescar. It is time that we conquered our own homeland." ~ Sigrun grinned, "That is a belief I could get behind.. but it will require the unifcation of all of whitescar... including the rebelsand I can promise you they will not let us change them without getting somehting in return ~ Halvard nodded. "And so we come to the question: should our efforts be spent in crushing them... or in getting something attractive enough to bring them to the bargaining stone?" [~ "I've already invested heavily in crushing them... but they are stubborn... I cannot think of something they would want that could console then," ~ "Access to the riches of the South." Halvard states, as if outlining a potential trade. "For centuries, it has been the measure of a jarl's prestige that they could provide such to their warriors and tribe. But not every clan is able to put together a successful raid. Many fall under the Red Jarl's rule because that is the only way they would ever see such wealth. They know they shall see none of it if they surrender to you, or are defeated." "But, suppose... there were a means of acquiring such wealth, and controlling its distribution, that we could offer it to their clans as a price for their loyalty?" ~ "Well... the Highking has been trying to open up negotiations with the chieftain of the red jarl's clan... If you like I could see if you could make them an offer personally..." ~ Halvard snorted. "The name of the high king matters less in some parts of the land than mine. Or rather, that of the Vakstyra. Some may not bow their knees, but all must walk the roads, and respect those who guard them." He stopped walking, looking at Sigrun to judge her reaction. "Clan Breen, and for that matter, the Vakstyra, do not pay the High King homage, but neither do we actively oppose him. Officially, we are neutral to both sides, so that we may trade and deal with each. If we complete our coverage of the roads, we will be in a position to control internal trade... and therefore, to dictate the terms upon which goods from the South shall travel in Whitescar. Havardr himself has confirmed us in our intentions, but I don't think we are in position to make our offer just yet. But when the time comes... we will be grateful if you choose to help us." ~ "You're clan may not oppose him... and that is fine. But there are still traditions that we should keep hold of. the high king is indeed a bull worthy of the respect of all but not unqestioned obedience... he is aware that I wouldn't waste a second turning on him if his actions cause this land's poulation pain." "Halvard." She stepped forward and placed a hoof to the bull's snout. "WAs there really question in whether my pclan woudl support your own? I had already agreed to provde you my clan's support. My clan will not go back on our word, not while I am in chrge. " ~ "I... must confess, there are a great many traditions that I have lately come to question the value of." Halvard spoke reluctantly, but he could not stop himself. Sigrun was not a cow easy to keep secrets around. "It is the High King's willingness to discard those that did more harm than good that I have come to respect the most about him-" He was pulled up short by the hoof on his snout, but he smiled underneath it. "No, no doubt. It was simply that I was not sure if I had let you know fully what your word had let you in for." ~ "I may have some worries about ho w your plan could be manipulated in the future... but it could potentially be a great thign for all of the caribou... I merely worry about the hooves it will fall into once our days come to leave this world..." "Also I shuld confess, I find myself inspired by Equestria's prosperity.. but I have to wonder if we really could reach their heights without the great advantages they have." ~ "The best thing we can do before we pass is to lead by example. Perhaps, it may be that they do not follow our plans, but at least we will have given them permission to see if they can't think of something better." It is Halvard's turn, this time, to boot Sigrun's nose with his own paw. "Ah, but have we not advantages of our own? No sailor in this world is more courageous, no merchant better able to fight for their wares, no farmer more inured to the wilds of nature. And that's not even touching the way we fight." ~ "I suppose you have a point." she laughed slightly as she felt the pressure on her nose, blushing a bit at the action. "Hey, careful with that... you know what it's capable of!" she said jokingly while pushing her soft snout into the bull's hoof with a playful grin. ~ "Ah, but no caribou ever got anywhere by playing it safe!" Halvard joins in her mood of playfulness, drawing closer. "We value the bold in all things, do we not?" The Bull wasted no time in testing that proposition. Letting his hoof drop, his muzzle darted in for a kiss. Which was certainly bold, though whether or not it was wise remained to be seen. ~ The kiss definitely took Sigrun off guard. But once it was done she simply s******ed in response and pushed back with her own lips before eventually breaking it and laughing. "You're definitely a bold one... not many would try a kiss from a hieftain so eagerly... thena gain I'm a chieftian whose pretty happy to indulge..." The cow laughed heartily for a moment before she sniffed sharply and looked down to her snout which was wrinkling up, "Y-yah might want to.. maah ahh...." ~ They said that Victory favored the bold... and it seemed that they were right! "I had hoped so..." Halvard was smiling when the kiss broke, but that soon changed to an expression of worry as he saw another sneeze coming on. "Right." He shunted out of the way as best he could... ~ "Hehha hh... HAAAAAAAAAAH HAAASSHOOOOOOOOO!" THe cow felt her body thrust forward with the force of her sternutaion , a powerful wind overturning a cart nearby as the Chieftain laughed haertily and rubbed a hoof to her snout, "Gotta say, to some degree that feels good to do ." The cow smirked and looked back to Halvard. "I do warn you though, the peace talks will still ikely happen and the Red jarl's clan... are much more of an "honor before reason" type of clan so I have no idea how it may turn out." ~ "It must... certainly be a relief." Halvard was still amazed at how powerful the chieftain's sneezes really were. She had a right to be proud of them, really. "Well, in that case, you will be able to count on our support as well." He nodded solemnly. "It is interesting... our own Chieftain is sometimes seen to value reason more than honor, which has colored his own reputation... though, for some reason, no bou calls him the Blue Jarl." Halvard was, like all of clan Breen, colored blue with his clan dye. "I wonder why; it seems obvious enough." ~ The Jarl chuckled, "a curious choice... I dont think my clan has ever been given a color we just have a symbol." the cow pulled her cloak to the side to expose a tattoo emblazoned on the right side of her plot. ~ Halvard tried, he really did try. But he couldn't resist a low whistle at the sight. "I... haven't seen tattoo work so elaborate in Whitescar before." Nice save. "Who in your clan has such talent?" ~ "It was first done by our clan's artist... but i needed to have it touched up adn an artist from manehattan detailed and added on to it..." ~ "Ah... so, that is a Southerner's work? Interesting..." Halvard's thoughts were wandering along paths, paths of perhaps being a gatekeeper of services as well as goods. But that would require ponies and griffons to come north, and there was admittedly little to attract them in the way of business, currently. "It's very nice, I have to say." ~ "Talking about the tattoo, or what it's attached to?" she asked with a playful bite in her voice before she returned the cloak to its normal postiion with a smile. "So... I don't believe I'm met your chieftain before... perhaps he's not too interested in coming all this way ." ~ "Yes." Halvard decided on what the Equestrians called a mathematician's answer to that question, before moving on to the somewhat safer subject of his chieftain. "No, I don't know if his old hide and bones would stand the trip. It may not be long before we have a new one, though, so perhaps a summit might be arranged in the near future." There was a slightly troubled tone in that remark, though, which he soon clarified. "He... has not selected a successor."
  12. Over the next several days or so, I'll be posting various chat RPs from the past year or so staring my caribou OC Limi and his guardian, Jarl Sigrun of Clan Askr. If there's sufficient demand, perhaps we might work on new chat RPs for you guys. Anywho, enjoy the travails of a kind-hearted boy trying to find a place in a warrior society..... ---------------------- *SWORD TRAINING* Lími: The adolescent caribou boy is outside, training with an instructor on proper sword-fighting technique. He's..... a little shaky. Limi has no knowledge that he's being watched by another..... Jarl Sigrun: Jarl Sigrun smiles as she watches the calf training, waiting calmly until he notices her. Lími: He notices the Jarl out of corner of his eye, causing him to look her way. Unfortunately, this gets Limi smacked by the instructor's training sword, knocking him down. Sigrun: The Jarl stifles a laugh and walks over; "Keep your eyes on your target, Limi." Lími: "My apologies Sigrun. I still need to learn not to fight so clumsily." Sigrun: "Well... you are getting better," she said with a smile before helping the calf back to his hooves. Lími: The calf takes Sigrun's hoof and gets back up; "Thank you for your praise, although I feel unworthy of it." Sigrun: "You need to have a bit more confidence, Limi... you are very worthy of praise." Lími: "But you must see how my abilities lag behind everyone else my age," Limi dejectedly looks downward. Sigrun: "If what works for them doesn't work for you... you could try another style. How have you been taught to fight against an opponent stronger than you??" Lími: "Well, I'm being taught the same way like the others." Sigrun: "Show me your stance." Lími: "O-okay." Limi performs a stiff Viking stance, but looks a little bit too unnaturally rigid. Sigrun: "Well... " the cow looks him over and puts a hoof at his shoulder; "You first need to relax yourself... you're stiff and rigid." Lími: Nodding, the calf loosens up his stance, although a trained eye would notice that he still has a somewhat excessively rigid grip on his weapon. Sigrun: "Now loosen up your grip a bit..." Lími: He does as the Jarl instructs, loosening his grip, but not by too much. Sigrun: "Now let your opponent make their move first... try to stay limber and move swiftly..." Lími: "But I thought that in combat, you win by relentlessly pounding your foe into submission." Sigrun: "Only when you are stronger or larger than your opponent... and even then it may not work. When you are smaller and not as strong as your enemy, you must use their strength and power against them. Relax your muscles so they can move swiftly, and without resistance... Move smoothly yet quickly, don't overthink your next movement or wait... let your strokes come from yourself... from your spirit. Believe it or not... there are those stronger and larger than me..." Lími: "You mean dragons?" Sigrun: "And moose... and Hydras... and lindworms, dread wolves, Ursas... some demons... there are a lot of creatures larger than me." Lími: "So that's your secret for defeating them all?" Sigrun:: "The philosophy doesn't guarantee victory... that is merely how I fight in combat Limi. I practice my sword swings everyday... Even the basics." Lími: "If that is how you fight in combat, why don't the other trainers teach your method?" Sigrun: "Well, some prefer the old ways of combat, plus anyone can use the style that works best for them... also it's not always an easy method to teach or demonstrate. For example... in combat I often make sure to target the most vulnerable points on our kind's body..." Lími: "Like the limbs?" Sigrun: "More accurately, the knees, the area where the hoof meets the leg... the neck, places like that." Lími: The boy nods in understanding. "......I- I don't wish to burden you further my Jarl...... but would you be able to teach me your technique?" The young bull looks up at Sigrun expectantly. Sigrun: "Hm... I believe I could... Be warned though... I won't go easy on you. I'll expect you to train often, make your muscles stronger with push-ups and the like. I will also teach you it's principles..." Lími: "I understand, Sigrun....." *MORE CHAT ROLEPLAYS TO COME*
  13. Sigrun happily drank down a flagon of the meade poured for her at the tavern. The scene was ripe with merriment and excited cheering. Cows and bulls were hoofwrestling and singing and dancing all around. to an equestrian thi sprobably would have been considered alienating since there had been such violence a little while earlier today. ~ Halvard, however, was not an Equestrian. As eccentric as Clan Breen were to the rest of Whitescar, all were caribou through and through. After a fight, if you lived, you drank. And with necromancers working in the arena, you could drink even if you didn't! The blue-coated bull preferred ale to mead, as he could drink more of it in a night. Taking his own flagon, he raised it to his former opponent of that day. "Wassail!" He raised in toast, before draining the the flagon and planting it down for a refill. ~ The cow grinned, "I recognize that voice!" The cow sauntered over to the familiar face and grinned, "Well if it isn't my opponent from earlier, glad to see those healers knit you back together~" ~ It generally took a drink for the wry Halvard to loosen his tongue. But given that he just had one, Sigrun's timing couldn't be better. "Same here. Would be a shame for Whitescar to lose a pretty face." ~ "I'm surprised with all the battle I've seen, that my face is as 'pretty' as it is." the cow smirked playfully, "Especially after the number you did upon me." The cow slammed down her flagon and looked to the bull with her silver eyes looking him over, "and good to know we haven't lost a handsome face in this land either!" ~ Having celebrated the land's preservation of good looks in a mutual toast, Halvard took up the subject of battle, curious about his cross-continental counterpart. "A jarl must face many battles, it is true. More than a simple Vakstyra. That's why I came to the arena. Didn't want to get rusty. But tell me... how many battles are there in the East these days?" ~ "A great deal... it almost seems unending. There's still a lot of skirmishes on the edge of my territory but since I started expanding and taking over some of the rival keeps it has died down somewhat." The jarl took another swig and thought a moment, "It doesn't help to the north of us the monsters from the serpents spine can sometimes wander into our territory. ~ Halvard nodded. Situation seemed normal enough; clans were always trying to defend or take territory, and monsters were monsters. "I haven't dealt much with clan battles since I started guarding the roads. Vakstyra keep the trade roads open, so most caribou leave us alone. West of Barn, anyway. We still get the monster raids, though." ~ "Clan Askr will be happy to lend our assistance if you ever take any roads close to monster territory... you'll find our warriors are quite skilled. I'm not sure if there are as many a good fighter as you on your trade caravans." ~ Halvard nodded thanks to Sigrun. "If you'd allow us to set up Vakstyra forts and posts along the routes in your territory, we could help you keep the peace as well. War is bad for the roads." ~ Sigrun put her hoof to her chin and nodded, "that sounds very doable... I trust you will bring up I said this to your clan's chieftain?" ~ "Yes. Don't expect a quick answer, as Clan Breen Territory is literally on the other side of the continent." Harvard smiled over his tankard as he remarked. "I must say, you're rather sanguine at the prospect of another clan constructing defensive works on your own territory. Most jarls would be a little less quick to accept." ~ "If you betray us you'd find the areas you've built in are surrounded on all sides..." She chuckled softly, "After all if we destroy those defenses we could use the rocky remains of your posts as materials for our own... besides your clan has a better reputation than most" ~ He laughed in response "You wouldn't be the first jarl to try. The secret is, the forts aren't isolated. Each can support the other, holding a force to relieve a siege on it's neighbors. We never build a new one without securing the road behind, to bring up reinforcements from clans who wish to keep the roads open, and not taxed by the territories in between. Of course, they're helping the Vakstyra, not clan Breen, though it is true that most of us are from the same clan." ~ "Oooh well then since you'll be building in our territories we'll make sure to make the terrain... perfect for you. " she smirked knowingly before looking to the bull, "Enough business talk now though... we're here to relax aren't we?" ~ Oh, this would be fun! Not that Halvard expected that their clans would ever come to blows. It would be like the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force. A good show, but neither would gain much. "True... Bartender, another!" Having his flagon refilled, he asked, "Now, besides drinking and fighting, anything you like?" ~ "Well, I collect weapons, and I enjoy the company of other capable warriors... I also enjoy reading up on strategies and battles from other places in the world." she turned to him, "and yourself?" ~ "Hm... well, I like to build to build things. It's not for nothing that I wield the weapon that I do; you can use it as a hammer and a shovel, and I do. All our clan does. It is said that the tradition started when our lands were raided while our warriors were in the fields, with only their tools in hand. We carried the day, wielding shovels and plowblades against swords. From that day, we are ready to turn our hooves to either task at a moment's notice." ~ "Ooh, what kind of things do you build personally?" ~ "Forts and trenches, usually." He laughed deprecatingly. "Sometimes we put up an actual trading post, with things to buy and sell. It's not exactly glamorous... well, except when we're near a gem vein." ~ "Glamorous is hardly a priority in this land I feel... We can't fight with an overly extravagant weapon made of gold could we?... it's break all to easily... my point is just because glamorous doesn't mean it's immensely valuable." ~ "That is true... at the same time, I never saw warriors fight so hard to defend a post, as the one we made to look the most glamorous..." Halvard looked thoughtful as he recalled that battle. "I have heard that those in the lands to the south think more of glamour than we... do you suppose that had to do with how they fought in the Empire of Crystal?" ~ "Possibly,.. the glamour did little against the red jarls forces though. We still had to go by and assist in the rebuilding" Sigrun sighed softly, "The architecture back at Askr hold has a bit of flair to it but... it still has some practicality to it ~ Halvard hadn't been to the lands South of Whitescar, so he took Sigrun's word for it. "True... but if Glamour is to care for the look of the thing, as opposed to the practical... maybe we have of it than we think." He gestured to the rowdy room. "I wonder, sometimes, how many are simply here for the look of the thing, and not because they actually care for drink and camaraderie." ~ "I'm certainly here for the camaraderie... sometimes a bit more." she took another swig of her drink and looked to halvard, "SO what did you think of the other fighters in the arena?" ~ A bit more, eh? Halvard took note of that, before replying. "Quite varied. I fought a griffon, a unicorn, and a caribou all in succession. I certainly learned a lot, which is what I came for." ~ "Oh? I'm interested in hearing about the first two..." the jarl thumped her hoof once on the counter and soon enough some flaggons were sent their way ~ "Hm, the griffon was interesting. I could tell he favored claw-and-fly tactics, but those don't work against heavily-armored foes. I was able to draw him in for one good hit, and that finished it. The unicorn... well, if my opponent had kept his head, it would have turned out differently. All he had to do was stay at a distance and shoot lightning from his horn. What I managed to do, however, was catch the bolt in the head of my hammer, and slam it into the earth-" He paused to punctuate this point by slamming down his hoof, which ended up sending the contents of the flagons splashing over the both of them. "Whoa, sorry. But yes, that gives you a pretty good idea of what happened." ~ The cow blinked as she was splashed and chuckled, "Hm... now i'm gong to smell like meade... not necessarily a bad thing." she chuckled softly before looking back to halvard. "One unicorn I fought int he arena got on my bad side... believe it or not it wasn't the one who gave my backside a paddling." she laughed heartily ~ The jarl had a sense of humor, it seemed. Good. "Well, if anybou comes out of here smelling like anything else, it'll be a first." He laughed, before tilting his head curiously. "Oh? And what did he do to get under your hide?" ~ "He was a narrowminded foal with his eyes clouded by his hatred, he considered our people primitive wardriven savages, the lot of us..." she snorted in annoyance at the thought of him. "In response... I taught him a lesson and bit off his horn." ~ No doubt, it had been irritating to her at the time. Hearing about it afterward, Halvard could not but see the irony in the way Sigrun put it. "I'm not sure that would change his mind. Seeing a Vakstyra station in action might, though..." He took a thoughtful drink out of the half-pint of ale remaining in the flagon. "I wonder... would it be worth setting up such a post in one of the Southern cities?" ~ "I'm not the one you should ask about that... and trust me, he's a stubborn one and he won't admit his wrongness so easily. anyway, how far south were you speaking?" ~ "I... don't know. I've never left Whitescar, so I don't know where a good trade route from Barn would be. I was hoping you would have some idea." ~ "Well you'd require the use of boats... if you wish I could let you use some of my calns." ~ Harvard raised his flagon in gratitude. "That's another thing to thank you for! I had been looking for something to do with my winnings. Helping to secure a trade route seems to be a good option. You need a post on both ends to do that." A thought occurred to him, and he frowned. "Will they be welcoming of that? I don't know how many understand that not all of us are like the Red Jarl. If the unicorn you fought is any indication..." ~ "I have met with the princess of the crystal empire and she was quite welcoming... obviously the ponies are wary of us but huddling up in the north and doing nothing but keeping to ourselves won't change that now will it?" she asked with soft chuckle ~ "That is true... well, I suppose I shall have to actually go and see for myself. Nothing beats field work for getting the lay of the land." ~ "I'm glad I could help, I suppose I could come with you but me and the souther climate don't seem to get along very well." ~ "Hm, I see. Well, thank you for the offer, but I won't subject you to it." Halvard drained his flagon and, seeing that he'd spilled half of it rather than drinking, felt safe in calling for another. "Shame, though; I wouldn't have minded spending the time in your company." ~ "No reason you can't stick around is there?" she asked with a soft smirk as she hoisted her drink in the air and took another drink. "And don't worry a few sneezes and sniffles aside I can survive in the south.... " ~ "Oh, no reason at all. It's just that when I do have to leave, it will be a while before I can see you again." Halvard couldn't smirk quite so naturally as Sigrun, so he did not try to match. "But when you are next in Barn or Heil, leave a message. The busiest road is between the two, and many of us are there at one time or another." ~ "I shall look forward to our next meeting then..." she gave the bull a slight wink ~ "So shall I." Halvard returned the wink. There was a slight pause before he went on, as it required mustering a little courage. "Of course, the night's not over yet." ~ The cow smirked softly and narrowed her eyes slightly at the bull, "Is that so? Have anything in mind in particular?... cause I can think of a few things...." ~ "I came East for adventure as much as anything else; the routine of road patrol is dulling. So..." And here he did make a rather good attempt to mirror the smirk. "Why don't you surprise me?" ~ The cow grinned softly and placed some coin on the counter. "Well the first thing I have in mind would require us to make a trek to my personal longboat... " The cow walked over to the door gesturing Halvard to follow her this promised to be an entertaining night...
  14. Sigrun had volunteered for a very important mission, although unlike many of the quests she oh-so-often partook in, this one required diplomacy rather than violence... and with the ponies of Equestria no less! The Chieftain of the Askr Clan had been interacting with ponies much more often than she normally would, a development she had to attribute to her sister's influence on her life. Sadly it seemed that The clan's high priestess was going to be unable to attend this occasion, but that just meant that this particular cow was goign to have to pull twice the weight; a challenge she welcomed with open hooves. The 'Jarl' of Askr had made sure to make the best of the space that she was allotted for this event. She'd made sure that given the still somewhat wary ponies of equestria's recent brush with the rebel clan of Olin that her own came in piece for this expo, as such she'd forgone almost all weaponry save for her own personal sword which rarely left her side anyway; were left back home. Only nonthreatening exhibits were at this section of the exposition. Despite the species' of whitescar's reputation for the love of battle, they did considerably more than make weapons and implements to do eachother harm. At the entrance of the exhibit's and various stalls were a series of banners representing the various clans united under the High king Dragonsong. Beyond the rows of symbol stamped banners laid a multitude of small stalls offering various things that exemplified Caribou culture, Woodcarvings, Jewelry, art and even some of the rarely seen caribou fashion that wasn't designed to protect the wearer from stray arrows! There were even some very fragrant and delightful smelling dishes and snack stalls using caribou recipes and ingredients from Whitescar. The silver eyed cow's personal favourite exhibit was the one in the center of the circle of stalls. She'd brought one of her clan's flying longboats to the expo and it was open for anypony or other species to step in and explore... thankfully only her clan knew how to make the boat fly so there was no risk of having some mischievous foals try and take the vessel for a joy-ride. All around the sides of the boat were numerous tapestries and paintings and carvings depicting caribou heroes and legends and one very large stone stood before the bow of the vessel, depicting a battle of golems battling a gigantic lyndwurm; presumably the World serpent of myth... Sigrun was currently standing proudly at the bow of the vessel she brought, as if a lookout for approaching visitors. She'd taken a few herbs her sister had reccomended so she could better tolerate the equestrian climate... they weren't ridding the Jarl of her nasal ills but at least she likely wouldn't be letting out one of her characteristic kingdom/city shaking sneezes anytime soon. To signal that the exhibit was open, She approached a large horn situated near the bow and took a deep breath before blowing with skill... (ooc: so you get an idea what the horn sounds like.)
  15. *Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink.* The Arena proper was far enough down the corridor that the sound of Halvard's armor still drowned out the crowd noises ahead. *Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink.* The Saar was a long way from the roads he normally patrolled as a Vakstyra, and even farther from his clan's homeland in the western fringes of Whitescar, but he was hardly the first of Clan Breen to grace this hallway and appear before this gladitorial crowd. After all, when your whole circle of friends and family fight as defensively as you do, you have to look for decent practice somewhere. *Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink.* Not that Halvard planned to treat this as a practice fight, oh no! He'd managed to score a match with one of the up-and-coming celebrities of the Arena, an itinerant clanless caribou by the name of Eindride. He aimed chiefly to sharpen his own iron in the clash, but there was that purse of gold for the winner... never could have too much, and the journey to Saar and back was trying on one's resources. *Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-chink, Ka-CHUNK!* The caribou bull emerged into the sunlight, which glinted over the beveled surfaces of his plate armor. Not many caribou possessed a full set; they were expensive, and many preferred mobility in their tactics. That was fine with Halvard; he fought with the long game in mind. After all, getting in the first blow didn't matter as much as getting in the last! He surveyed the crowd, who cheered at his arrival. Though most of his coat was covered, his head bore the blue coloration that marked his clan out from their fellows. Clan Breen could always be counted on for a good fight, if a rather long one, usually. He gave the customary wave of his waepon, and the crowd returned its customary laugh. Halvard didn't grudge them. Part shovel, part pickaxe, and part warhammer, you had to be a member of Clan Breen to understand why anybou would even forge such a thing, let alone wield it. "Well!" Halvard normally didn't waste his breath calling out his opponents, but it really would have been rude not to do so here. "Let's see if you're bringing anything new to the table, besides herbal teas." His opponent was well known for her concoctions; though he'd yet to have any need for them himself.
  16. "Nothing was the same again after what happened in the Crystal Empire....." With only hours remaining until the end of the Crystal Faire, now comes time to figure out what happens afterwards. When an entire city is laid to ruins by a rogue caribou army and agents of WRAITH, that brings about consequences. How do the crystal ponies rebuild their homes? What is to be done to counter future caribou threats? Who will bring an end to that dastardly Red Jarl? Let's discuss... THE AFTERMATH! If you got any aftermath thread ideas that you'd like to bring to life, don't hesitate to mention it. You just might find someone who'll want to join your RP. In the meantime, I'll keep a master list of all proposed thread ideas as a reference for users. AFTERMATH RP IDEAS: Crystal Empire Rebuilding (thread in progress) Lilac's rejuvenation party (threads in progress: Banquet Space, Dance Floor, Balcony) Meeting between the Equestrian Princesses and Whitescar emissaries The Red Jarl drumming up support among renegade caribou clans Formation of EPIC (OOC) Wedding of Pathfinder and Snowfall (thread in progress: Invitations so Inviting!) Flash Sentry Trial (thread in progress) (OOC) Cyprianus gets interrogated by the Princesses IMAGINE sign-ups (thread in progress) (OOC)
  17. Barn - Landing Port to the Bitter Wilderness The port city of Barn stands as the locale that most ponies bold enough to visit the rough and frozen lands of Whitescar will first encounter. It stands on the southern coast of the continent, a short ride by ship due north from the Equestrian city of Seaddle. Though it is perhaps one of the more welcoming cities in Whitescar, those thinking to travel there should still use caution; like the rest of the continent, dangers abound and can easily find those who are not watching carefully for them. Barn is the most prominent of Whitescar ports, with the great majority of caribou trade ships coming through its great harbors. This makes it of irreplaceable importance to the survival and growth of Whitescar, a kingdom short in resources and largely dependent on what it can claim from other, foreign lands. As a result of its deeply important role, Barn has thrived and boomed to become possibly the most populous city in all of Whitescar. Barn's most notable physical feature is its massive seawall, built long ago to protect the city from both invaders and the deadly surge resulting from the ferocious storms which plague southern Whitescar year round. The immense and ancient structure stands just in the distance from anywhere one should stand along the cities ports, the great holes and tears that have been worn into it by attacks and the elements making its rich history apparent at a glance. The ports it surrounds are the next most defining feature, taking up a vast section of the city. Though they are traditionally sea ports, new ports have been constructed alongside them to accommodate for air traffic. The rest of the city is fairly simple in its makeup. Grand manor homes stand at the center of town and far inland, accommodating the wealthy merchants and shipbuilders who have most profited on the Barn way of life. More modest homes and businesses can be found around these and nearer to the docks. Less glamorous, often flooded and ravaged stretches of town can be found on the coast itself on either side of the city ports Trade is what sustains Barn, but less savory activities have of course been traditionally common among the Whitescar caribou. Viking raiders are still known to come to town, looking to sell the spoils of their nefarious endeavors. Though the current governing bodies have come out strongly against the sale of stolen goods in the port, attempts to put a stop to it have not proven wholly successful. Lawless, dangerous vikings can still be found in the city's ports, and it can take a truly discerning eye to be able to tell them from the honest traders when isolated. Though this port city lacks the inherent danger of a place like Maretonia's Hippostion, because of this viking threat, all planning to voyage there are urged to remain cautious. -Beyond Equestria: A Traveler's Guide to Mysteries and Wonders of Maretonia, Whitescar and More
  18. SPINE OF THE WORLD SERPENT - THE POISON THEY CHOOSE The Spine of the World Serpent is a large mountain range in the northern region of the Whitescar. The name hearkens back to the deepest and oldest of Caribou legends and fables about the creation of Whitescar itself. The Great World Serpent was a villainous beast who ate everything in its path, leaving in its blazing trails monsters who terrorized the few that survived its travel across the land. All that remained were the race of Stone Golems who decided to end the evil that spread across the land. For six days and nights they battled across the nondescript land. Where they fell, mountains were born. The World Serpent was finally slain, its body turning to ash along the northern edge of the known world. The Spine quite literally refers to what the legends believe make up the Spine of the World Serpent and the many Stone Golems it ate during the final battle. The first stop is the large wooded plains and forests that stretch southward, calling out as a challenge to the Caribou. It is an angry, terrible place. Fierce winds threaten to rip the heaviest of furs off of the sturdiest of bodies. Snowstorms can reduce visibility to mere inches and last weeks, burying unwary camps under tons of flash-frozen ice snow. Temperatures range from deadly in a matter of moments to mind numbing in a breath. What few wild animals traverse this wilderness have hides as thick as airship armor and eyes as finely tuned as a binocular. Nothing can grow here as the soil is dead, as dead as any in the known world, and the environment makes a mockery of any attempt at sustainable living. The ground underneath is shockingly hollow, the very earth giving way and dropping hundreds of caribou down a hole hundreds of miles wide...and several miles deep. So harsh and heavy are the snow storms that one can never tell if they are stepping on solid ground or the compacted crashed ground of previous cave-ins. Despite the eons of this cycle it still happens. Whatever happens to the old ground, snow, caribou, caravans, and creatures that fall into this terrifying large cavern under the ground that allows this process to repeat? Some Caribou believe the World Serpent still slumbers and wakes every so often to feast on what has dropped below. Once one pushes past the forests and into the mountains, conditions improve but the physical daily challenge of survival remains unimpeded. The winds and snow remain but the caribou are capable of pushing into the mountains. There they encounter organized bands of vicious Whitescar trolls and sapient spider clans who fight tenaciously over the scraps of food to be found. The deeper one goes into the mountains, the deeper the terror of the Spine's creatures become. No Caribou has ever found where all the deep caves go and it is doubtful one ever will, as even the bravest and greatest fighters are ground down by the incessant conditions and fighting to be found here. The few caribou who make this place a permanent home are among the most feared in existence, fighting daily for bare survival against each other, terrible odds, creatures, and elements. There are no permanent structures to be marked on a map aside from the Three Tombs. While some hard-won cave complexes exist, they are almost always death traps for future entrants. Seemingly any stay of significance by the caribou is met by overwhelming force by the Spine's creatures, and former defensive holdouts and encampments are claimed and turned definitively hostile to future clans. It is a cycle that only the caribou could ever know: They must push though to the mountains to get what little food can be found. By doing so they attract vicious and organized creatures defending their food sources. The Caribou push deeper to find more food, face even more resistance. Only the caribou could handle it. And only the caribou could love it. The landscape is something out of a heroic fable in the tradition of the Caribou, which explains why the Three Tombs exist. The Tombs belong to a grandfather, his son, and his grandson, all of whom were High Kings, and all of whom dedicated their lives to the endless cycle of warfare in the Spine. Under their command, dozens of clans were bled out into near nothingness by the incessant fighting. When the grandfather fell, his tomb was placed at the furthest extent of his reach into the mountain. His son was more reckless and died quicker, even if he expanded the caribou reach thrice. The grandson was intelligent and ruthless and through the near obliteration of the clan-organized caribou, quadrupled the reach of the caribou of his father's age. When he finally fell as an old man himself, he was placed at the furthest extent of where the Caribou had gone. Shortly afterwards, the Caribou in and around the Spine were simply overwhelmed and crushed. What few dozen survivors made it back to the bare-bones populations of the safer reaches of the Whitescar were legendary in their own right, and each one formed his or her own clan. It is from these survivors that the first clans of the modern caribou were established and the new order as a result of the Tomb-Kings as they are now known has stretched for eons of its own. Even now, if a clan leader believes his clan has become soft, he will take them to the Spine. There they will endure and fight and fight and endure until the weak have been weeded out. He will return to his homeland with a stronger, if smaller, clan. Great changes in history have been marked by particularly spectacular campaigns. The current High King maybe known as a progressive, but as a young Clan Chieftain, he led his clan into the Spine himself and refused to return until every single Caribou who remained passed his personal examination. When he reached the Tomb of the Grandfather, he abruptly declared the trip a success and a quarter of those who left returned. Just a few years later, he now rules the Caribou- and is the only Caribou to have seen any of the Tombs since they were made, even if he is mum on what he saw... - A Journal Between Lovers: My Travels and Travails, by Flowing Stars
  19. SAARVAGERG - THE CITY OF BLOWS Saarvagerg, known as the Saar to most, is a city of ancient tradition and values. Far away from Heil and the progressive minded High King, the Saar operates on the very edge of civilized space and its inhabitants are quite pleased to be considered on the very edge of the civilized creatures themselves. It is the ancestral home of many of the major clans and a great many of the Caribou Epic Poems start in the Saar, even if it looks anything other than epic in its current state. Saarvergerg was the home to many clans who decided to strike out from the Whitescar in opposition of the High King, leaving it a bit underpopulated. Nonetheless, it still remains a major city and one of the most dangerous in all the world, though only in a way that only a caribou city could be. Unlike Heil which officially outlawed arenas and the coastal metropolis of Barn which restricts such combats to only one large arena, the Saar is home to a great many clan owned arenas and a few large public ones. The Saar is a city that by its very nature abhors weakness and cowardice and values battle-hardened bravery and bloody-hooved strength. A great many caribou seek fame and glory in brutal combat and at all times one can find at least one arena open and featuring combat. It can take the form of an honorable fight between friends and professionals to bloody feuds seeking finality. Criminals earn redemption by fighting other criminals until those who remain are considered worthy enough to stand on the Wall, cowards fight wild animals for entertainment, and several of the larger arenas can play host to small scale skirmishes where dozens of combatants fight tenaciously to the hooting and hollering of the crowd. While Caribou make up the larger percentage of combatants, other races are represented. Pirates from Hippostion utilize the knife fighting skills that come in hoofy during a back alley brawl or during a seizure of a vessel. They run up against disgraced Aquillan Marines who fight for glory and gold instead of Griffon and Country. They are dismantled by Unyasan mystics with an edge who are more than willing to earn their respect in battle, who in turn find themselves outmatched by peerless Arabian duelists and Acronian Hoplites. The arenas are always hungry for more fighting and the city is famous, or infamous, the world over for them. The spectacle draws not only fighters but spectators and more than a few nobles from across the world can be spotted. The coffers of the city run on this spectacle as well as the payments it receives from the clans to maintain defenses on the Wall. Indeed, it is those two things which help define this city's economy as little else exists to support it. Resources are few and the land is dead. It doesn't need financial encouragement to guard the Wall, however. Even more than the Arenas, the Wall has come to symbolize the tenacity and fanatical combat of the Saar. One hundred feet high and fifty feet wide, the Wall is an ice construction that stretches from one end of the southern isthmus to the other. This large structure helps guard against the Southern Wilds, home to such an array of evils and ferocious beasts that only the existence of the Wall prevents the Saar from being overrun by them. Small combats outside of the Wall and inside some of the chambers are quite common, on the scale of several a week, with large assaults both organized and wild a monthly occurrence. The bravery of the Wall's garrison is legendary, but they are always in need of more warm bodies. Criminals can help earn their redemption here and most clans send small contingents, allowing the Wall to be held at a high cost. A few small hidden exits are used to allow Caribou out to take the Will Test but otherwise the caribou rarely venture too far away from it. This is by consistent clan and national decree rather than the will of the locals however, who constantly plead to be allowed past so they could crack undead monster skulls with large weapons. Not only could a lot of Caribou die, but they like the species to be tested. Nothing could define the Saar better than that simple desire to run around the most dangerous place in the world smacking everything with large axes until everything stopped moving. - A Journal Between Lovers: My Travels and Travails, by Flowing Stars
  20. HEIL - HAMMER-WROUGHT CITY OF KINGS Heil, the city of stone and flame, is built into an active volcano. Along its causeways and down side streets roll tightly controlled lava flows that give off a heat that can be felt no matter where you may be. Large stone buildings house whole family units of caribou as well as huge state-run factories that produce the weapons and the materials that the caribou use for war. All of these buildings have small lava streams actually channeled through them where lava-safe glass allows those inside to look as the dark light provides a camp-fire like atmosphere inside. Heil is the city of flame as a result of this never-ending, omnipresent light that filters down to the smallest house and home. This same model is used in the palace of the High King. Built into the very side of the volcano, it is from the High King's palace-fortress that the lava flows. The entire stone structure is cracking and in a state of repair constantly. As one goes deeper into the palace and past the battlements and statues of great heroes and conquerors the heat only grows and grows. When one reaches the High King's Chambers, Assembly Hall, Grand Meal Hall and other spaces a dignitary may visit, the heat is sweltering and sweating is constant. Around the chamber itself is the stone bow of the once-living Caribou Golem Longship that according to legend carved this cavity in the active volcano by ramming it when it refused to obey its commands. This bow has been transformed into a throne, the High King's throne, and it is here that the ambient heat is at its worst. Throughout the city but most vehemently there the heat is a reminder of the rough and tumble blood that flows in their veins and necessity of being aggressive. A giant stone wall extends from this fortress around the whole city, with giant causeways turning into moats of lava. This gives the city an intimidating glow at all times. The caribou inhabitants of the city are as vicious and aggressive in their mannerisms as the rest of their kin, but it is here that what art and culture is exportable is to be found. Caribou artists chisel their statues in forged runes on lava-hardened rocks or use the most resistant of paints to decorate the walls. Blacksmiths and artists alike use the lava flow to forge their creativity, with the blacksmiths producing the most finely crafted and worked weapons in all the land. Commerce and trade may not be as hectic as it is in Barn but with diplomats of all major nations having some sort of influence here, it has the most organized multicultural flourish. Playhouses, opera houses, and other buildings exist even if they are indeed rare, their giant cavernous stone construction and the bombastic and aggressive caribou legends taking the place of a newly banned Caribou past time. Arena combat is still wildly popular in all other cities and areas, but the High King, in his effort to civilize his nation, has banned the violent gladiatorial combat. It is in the former arenas that caribou 'culture' is best displayed to foreigners, even if natives still tend to flock to the underground gladiatorial combats that are now hidden in large caverns in the mountainside and wherever else they may slip some mead into the hooves of a willing guard. For all of the aggression inherent in the design of the city and its inhabitants, nowhere else in the lands of the caribou may a foreigner be more safe. The clan of the High King are loyal to his larger mission and view any foreigner willing to brave the harshness of the environment outside the city as worthy enough to join them for however long they desire. In the winter, massive snowstorms roll across the Whitescar but Heil is kept nearly snowless. Such is the heat produced by all the lava flows that it becomes a warm oasis in a sea of snow, prompting travelers and nomads the nation over to crowd the city, leading to cramped space and hot emotions. The ensuing seasonal clash of steel and teeth, hooves and muscle, brawn and brain is as part of the DNA of the caribou as it is a result of the geography of Heil. There, some like it hot. - A Journal Between Lovers: My Travels and Travails, by Flowing Stars
  21. A CLASH OF STEEL AND IDEALS: KNOWING THE CARIBOU FOE (Art by community artist Zeig) From the snowy north known as Whitescar beyond the perimeter of the Crystal Empire and the sea that protect it sallies forth one of the most well known of Equestria's ancient scourges. Tales of their raids and daring stretch as far back as recorded Equestrian history and even into its pre-history, when the ancient pony tribes found themselves assailed in their own lands. The griffons tell tales of four legged beasts of great size, power, and prowess. The zebra speak in hushed tones of Equestria's northern terrors who on rare occasions shatter the peace of the Unyassan savanna. Across the oceans their stories are known; the sky rings with the clash of metal; the ground shakes at their berserker Charge. No corner of the world known to the ponies of Equestria has been entirely free of their presence at one time or another. They barrel down from the capital city of Heil and before them many tremble. They are the caribou and only time will tell whether their past determines their future. The caribou hail from a harsh land where only a few things grow and fewer things grow easy; settlements can be buried by snow and large numbers of Diamond Dogs and elder dragons take up the mountain spaces. The Spine of the World Serpent cuts through the land like an ugly scar, the depths of the world's toughest and most volatile mountain terrain unbearable to all but the most hardy and well armed. In this landscape, the clans of the caribou compete for what few resources can be wrought from the land. The strongest clans get the lion's share while the weaker clans fade away. Such is as it has been since the dawn of time. This has forced them to look elsewhere for sustenance and they have found many cities around the world to provide for them, willingly or not. Their well-made longships take them across the sky and sea, primarily along the coasts of Equestria where they find many settlements to raid. In the air, retrofitted airships fly alongside longships with the aid of renegade ponies, the ancestors of those who fled Equestria and the Crystal Empire at the defeat of their former masters, Nightmare Moon and Sombra respectively. They work alongside their caribou allies, intertwined in daily life if not sharing the same level as respect. In Caribou society, the more successful the raid, the more successful the clan and captains. Occasionally, one clan will become strong enough to unite all others under a single banner and the ensuing Charge will shake the region. Whether it is launching large expeditions to the far corners of the world in the name of exploration, rooting out the diamond dogs and dragons that roost in the mountains, or breaking down the walls of a nation's resistance, the Charge of the united caribou is as awesome as it is unstable. Once the leader of the Charge dies, a plan fails, or the warriors feel fortune is not with them, their loyalty will falter and revert back to their individual clans resulting in infighting.. Many times has an invasion of Equestria been thwarted by some great fortune or a rumor in the caribou camp running out of control. The most notable of this particular instance was more than a thousand years ago, when High King Henpecked the Heavy-Bearded allied with King Sombra. In receipt of more than a thousand of each type of pony as slaves, he prepared the Charge to hammer into Equestria's unguarded flank. When Sombra was defeated however, rumors in camp blamed the Snow Spirit of Saarkaval for it, a sign that the Elements opposed the High King. Enough clans refused to move forward to bring the campaign to a halt, and when that happened, the rest left too. Often times, caribou will have clan symbols and other iconography painted on them in addition to their normal coat. Antlers of all sizes are common, with some of the most honored warriors having misshapen antlers- cutting them off is a source of minor shame until they grow back, revealing for a lifetime the scars of his combats! From birth the fawn is brought up to learn the ways of his or her clan, but there are a few constants throughout. Training for combat is a priority as both a means for sustenance as well as protection from Diamond Dogs and dragons. Almost every caribou will have mastered the axe and the shield, with the sword and spear being widely deployed as well. Arrows and javelins are also not uncommon, but except in the case of experts and marksman, are usually used by teenage caribou in their first few engagements. These often times come in the form of raids, which are mostly conducted by one captain and his crew. The crew may vary depending on the captain, the clan, and the target, but it can range from a longship full of veteran warriors preparing to launch a pincer attack against a port to loot it all the way to a single squad of 'Newfies' preparing to ambush a farming convoy. It is therefore not entirely their fault that the other races of Equestria consider the caribou to be bloodthirsty warriors bent on destruction. And while such notions are not entirely without merit, nor is it entirely correct. Caribou view this as the way of life that the strong must follow in order to prosper, with no ill intent intended towards their victims- it is just business. What began as a requirement in order to survive has evolved into a sacred tradition of their society. Another tradition is the Will Test, when a young caribou is sent into the Southern Wilds to retrieve a flower special to his clan. Through harsh winds and the forbidden magics that mark this place as well as the deadly native creatures that haunt every step, the will of a young caribou is tested. Those who return are considered adults. Those who fail this passage from childhood into adulthood are cast out until they can bring something of worth back to their clan. It is from these Clanless that Equestrians have learned of the many customs of the many clans, with the single identifying being that once an adult, a Clan member enjoys a life that is entirely supportive as well as universally loving and friendly. Civil war inside of a clan has never happened, and acts of violence are a once in a generation occurrence. It is odd that this attitude has failed to take over the species at large, which makes the current political situation all the more dramatic. Recently a new High King has been crowned, the first in over a hundred years. High King Dragonsong of Heil-Barn has proclaimed peace between the caribou and the races of the world in an effort to see a new era for his people, one where they can work with instead of against the world. This was not a popular proclamation, but his absolute annihilation of the invasion of the Shape-Changers and Emotion-Sappers (Changeling) of the Western Reaches of Whitescar as well as his daring counter-offensive that destroyed their local hive in the mountains earned him enough cache with the caribou to have his position secured. With his new found power secure for a short while, he made broad proclamations in order to soften the sharp edges of Caribou social and foreign policy, an incredibly controversial move that only somebou of such stature could attempt. Many decided to follow the new course set by the king and abandon some of the old ways for the new. From his fortress mountain city of Heil, he commands the majority to do good works. From the coastal cities of Saarvagerg and Barn to the nomads in the beating heart of the land of Snow and the Wind they call home, the caribou are turning a new leaf. Many others however oppose the reforming of the old ways. While the High King is safe in his mountain fortress and his allies are numerous, the warlike ancient traditions will not die so easily. More than a dozen clans have left the homeland in a mass exodus, flooding the seas, the air, and the neighboring regions with a tidal wave of desperate caribou with a large number settling in the northwestern Badlands. Others seek glory so they may go back to Whitescar and overthrow the High King and reverse his foolish ways. All are opposed to the High King, and the High King is opposed to them and will do everything in his power to bring them under his control in dog-like subservience and obedience. The only certainty is that nowhere in the known world is safe from either the renegade clans following the old ways or the armies of High King that seek to bring these rebellious clans back into the fold, and that the fate of the caribou hangs in the balance. - Excerpt from, "The Northern Winds: A Call to Action," By Silverwing, noted alarmist and retired Admiral
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