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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
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!