Koshanarism

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Trait: +1 ability point to highest ability at level 10

Koshana was a tribal leader during the Great Devastation. At that time, hoping to bring their martial might to bear, a Mounstel magus devised a plan to trick the Koshinari into believing that the Winslend had killed their leader, Jokod Firthang. However, Koshana noticed on the body marks of strangulation, rather than harpooning, and sought the wisdom of the Keeper, one of an ancient and unbroken line of druids, and worshippers of Odin All-Father. He blessed her with the spirit of the Falcon, giving her the ability to see past illusions.

With her clan, she waged a quick, surgical war to free her fellow clanspeople from the illusion woven by the Mounstel, and then they unanimously agreed to march against both magical kingdoms. Although she did not expect them to name her their leader, she took charge firmly and led them onward.

Over the course of the war, she was joined with other animal spirits, The first was a hare; she had to catch the creature by herself without any weapons, but when she did, the Keeper performed the ceremony; more markings appeared alongside her legs. No more could magical effects slow her or prevent her from going where she meant to go.

But it was the final joining that was most meaningful. Years, now, of war and conflict had hardened her body, but still no man nor woman was made to fight a bear barehanded. It has been said by Koshiri theologians (who do not number more than ten despite the vastness of their empire) that this was the first inkling that she was more than mortal, she was divine. For she held the bear on its back in the snow, while the old man drew a reedy breath through thin lips and performed the ceremony. That breath would be his last; he collapsed in the snow, his invocation done. The strength of the bear flowed into it, no more would she be subject to the damage of any spell, direct or otherwise.

With this strength, she led the forces of Winslend and Mounstel into a trap in what is now called Koshana’s Valley. The forces of both magical kingdoms entered the valley, fighting each other fiercely. Koshana communed with the very earth, with the beasts and plants, and found a weakness, a hole in the earth. She prayed to the spirits of earth and sky, and they acceded to her request. A geyser, tremendous and strange in its power, burst over the center of the valley. Flesh boiled, falling off bone as the earth itself expressed its displeasure with these wayward children. This phenomenon has not been seen before or since; the jet of water moved faster than the mightiest waterfall, was wider than the mightiest river, and shot into the air higher than even the birds of the field could fly.

Only a small number of the Koshinari were killed. Those few magicians that survived the massive geyser were quick prey for nimble outriders on dogs or horses.

Koshana did not stay long after the war ended. Her children were grown. She gave all of Koshinar one order before she left. “Create a single, strong nation. The day may come when the world will turn to us to defend it again.”

Koshinarism has no temples and few rituals. As previously noted, theologians are as rare as scholars are in general among the Koshiniri. Koshana may be invoked by name, and battle is her prayer. She is thought of as a deity, who still lives as mortals understand life, somewhere far away. In fact, a common saying, “Even Mighty Koshana must pass water every day” is meant to express that all people are alike in some ways.

(Image of Koshana created by Irene Campos at http://iara-art.deviantart.com/)

GM Only

Koshana was a real person, a female warrior of no small reknown. In the old days, women could not lead their own clans but through cunning and strength, she won the leadership of the Brudivii, a clan near to the border with the frozen lands. After she split the first man to challenger her from chops to knave, no one in her clan or outside it challenged her right to rule again, at least not those in their right mind.

In those days, the Great War was in full swing, and the magic kingdoms’ fighting spilt into the lands owned by the people we now know as the Koshinar. So the clans gathered at the Allthing, a great convocation, under the aegis of Jokod Firthang, a fierce warrior who had united the clans before through strength and wisdom.

However, at the height of the Allthing, a gift was presented to him by a clansman he had never met before. This gift was a Statue, similar to a russian nesting doll, that was the focus of a terrible spell. Everyone present would swear that they had seen Lars Sandersson rise, jealous of this bauble, and shove full four feet of his longspear into Jokod’s belly. The illusionary Sandersson then claimed he had done so for the glory of Magic Kingdom X, before loyal thanes slew him. The statue was opened, and each clan took one part of it, marching forward to join the forces of Magic Kingdom Y crying for vengeance. Each one of these statues then acted to focus the spell; in its prominent position, each clansman remained firmly fixated on the goal of serving Kingdom Y, and making Kingdom X pay.

However, the wise Koshana did not immediately march to war, although her heart cried out for the blood of the enemy. Instead, she stayed to put to rest the slain Jokod, out of respect. However, the illusion was not perfect. She noted that he had clawed at his neck, futilely, in his final moments. This was not consistent with a spear-wound (she had cause to know). She decided to seek the wisdom of the Keeper, a priest of Odhinn-one-eye and a potent druid. With her falcon, Antos, she sought out the old man in the frozen forests of the north, bearing Jokod’s body, preserved by cold, on a sledge.

The Keeper was old, very old, bent over and mistrustful of strangers. However, he had helped rasie the unruly Koshana when she was a young girl, and the two had an understanding.When he examined the deceased Firthang leader, he pointed out to Koshana wounds she just couldn’t see. So he set up a complex ritual and bound Antos to her, blood to blood. With the bird’s keen senses, she could now see the deception clearly. She was not unchanged by this, her eyes were ringed around by markings, similar to a warrior’s woad tattoos.

Enraged, she drove her horse back to the Allthing, but all the tribes had left. All that remained were women whose tribes had left in too great a hurry to bring anything but warriors, and housecarls. She then pushed a fresh horse hard until she caught up with her tribe. With her new eyes, she could see the lines of magical influence, affecting each of their minds. But that magic was well designed, they protected the statue-totem with their lives. She asked to see it, they rejected. She commanded, they denied. She threatened, and they fought her off. Her own tribe dealt her blow after blow. She barely made it away, and would not have if her clan was not still driven to the Magical Kingdom.

Returning to the Allthing, the women and carls cared for her, but she did not let her injuries stop her. She promised the carls freedom, and the women an equal standing, if they would fight for her. All of them did. It must be said that it was not only her promise of freedom that drove them, the notion of their clansmen ensorcelled drove them every bit as much as it drove Koshana.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t bloodless. but together, the assembled group of non-combatants ambused the hardened warriors in the dead of night, holding them at bay long enough for Koshana to smash the accursed statue. Men fell, weeping, for their transgression, but cajoling, threatening, and commanding, Koshana got them back on their feet again. There were many more tribes to be freed, after all…

There are many tales about the campaign Koshana waged against her own people to free them, such as how she waded into battle with her two-handed axe, body great with her second child. Or the story of her impossible spear-throw that caught the archmagus in the throat, halting his doomsday spell. Her company grew with each tribe rescued, and not a one but acknowledged she had the right to rule in the place of Jokod Firthang. But whereas he had spoken for a loosely-collected band of tribesmen, she led an army. An army that embraced discipline, shared burdens, tore down centuries-old clan divisions to work together. So when all were saved from the spell, and scores upon scores of angry men stood ready for revenge, they followed her unquestioningly into war with both the magical nations.

Along the way, she was visited twice more by the Keeper. On both occasions she was bound to another animal soul. The first was a hare; she had to catch the creature by herself without any weapons, but when she did, he performed the ceremony; more markings appeared alongside her legs. No more could magical effects slow her or prevent her from going where she meant to go.

But it was the final joining that was most meaningful. Years, now, of war and conflict had hardened her body, but still no man nor woman was made to fight a bear barehanded. It has been said by Koshiri theologians (who do not number more than ten despite the vastness of their empire) that this was the first inkling that she was more than mortal, she was divine. For she held the bear on its back in the snow, while the old man drew a reedy breath through thin lips and performed the ceremony. That breath would be his last; he collapsed in the snow, his invocation done. The strength of the bear flowed into it, no more would she be subject to the damage of any spell, direct or otherwise.

But the real gift she gained was far more than this mere strength. The druids of the Keeper’s line passed knowledge and wisdom, one onto the next, when the last Keeper passed. Without another trained, the final Keeper had shared with her all his order had learned in a thousand thousand years. Knowing that this line would end with her, she wept bitter tears, and the bear, only moments ago her foe, stood watch over her. And the hare and the falcon, wolf and ram and deer, all the animals of the forest stood by, as though weeping with her.

The knoweldge she gained was useful, however. The old men and women who had served as Keepers had seen countless battles, led many of them too. Using their tactics, she planned a trap for the Magical Kingdoms, a final battle. She lured them into a deep valley, so many forces from both sides, it is said that over three fourths of remaining combatants were at that battle.

It became known as Koshana’s Valley, for the battle fought there that day. As both sides weakened each other with mind-bending magics, her warriors, some already bearing tatoos in honor of their leader, struck from behind, slaughtering mercilessly forces that thought themselves safe. But the final act would soon begin; Koshana communed with the very earth, with the beasts and plants, and found a weakness, a hole in the earth. She prayed to the spirits of earth and sky, and they accedded to her request. A geyser, tremendous and strange in its power, burst over the center of the valley. Flesh boiled, falling off bone as the earth itself expressed its displeasure with these wayward children. This phenomenon has not been seen before or since; the jet of water moved faster than the mightiest waterfall, was wider than the mightiest river, and shot into the air higher than even the birds of the field could fly.

Only a small number of the Koshinari were killed. Those few magicians that survived the massive geyser were quick prey for nimble outriders on dogs or horses.

Koshana did not stay long after the war ended. Her children were grown. It was that second son, born on the battlefield, that would lead the Koshinari on the next chapter in their story. No more would Koshinari women be denied a place on the battlefield or in government, and any carl might become a thane by proving himself in combat. She gave all of Koshinar one order before she left. “Create a single, strong nation. The day may come when the world will turn to us to defend it again.”

Koshinarism has no temples and few rituals. As previously noted, theologians are as rare as scholars are in general among the Koshiniri. Koshana may be invoked by name, and battle is her prayer. She is thought of as a deity, who still lives as mortals understand life, somewhere far away. In fact, a common saying, “Even Mighty Koshana must pass water every day” is meant to express that all people are alike in some ways.

Three orders of warriors sprang up a few hundred years after Koshana left, the Bears and the Hares are made up of warriors who are attracted to and embody the traits of stalwart defense and speed, respectively, and are drawn from every walk of Koshinari life. The Falcons, however, are always women (with a couple of notable exceptions). They train falcons of their own and undergo a spirit journey, binding themselves to the bird just as Koshana did centuries before. Each order tatoos itself in her honor.

It’s exceedingly rare for members of one order to also join another, but it has happened. A Child of the Mother combined both her position as a Falcon with that of a Hare. She lives still, and is said to be pursuing the ways of the Keepers, to resurrect that order. But she is very old, and though she does not stop, it is thought she cannot train a successor in time.

(Image of Koshana created by Irene Campos at http://iara-art.deviantart.com/)

Koshanarism

Might and Magic SirChazbot