The Okashki Tribe of Oathhome
Long ago, before the people of the Okashki (Oh-KASH-kee) set foot in the region, powerful clans of giants dominated the land. Calling themselves the Huldorenn (HOOL-dor-en), their large bodies and thick skin kept them warm during the tough winter months. However, a group of human hunter-gatherers, some of them ancestors to the Okashki tribe, migrated from the South. Conflicts arose almost immediately. Raids, skirmishes, and battles over territory and resources were frequent. Despite the giants' advantage in size, the hunter-gatherers were quick-witted and intuitive. Over time, the giants were gradually pushed into the west, allowing the humans to establish themselves into a network of nomadic tribes.
The northernmost tribe became known as the Okashki and, for quite a few centuries, lived in isolation. Southern civilizations, eager to spread their power and influence, tried many times to free the tribes from their seemingly-barbarous customs. Few expeditions reached the Okashki tribe, but those that did made an effort to record their oral history. Luten Gaulav, leader of one such expedition, later wrote that "[the Okashki] are a living reflection of what Mankind was before the implementation of agriculture and the development of cities." The explorer went on to express his interest in bringing "enlightenment to such savage a people."
Their efforts did little in the long run. Interest waned and the investments needed to send expeditions up north became too much of a risk. Once again, the tribes were left to their own devices. The Okashki tribe expanded; making alliances and trading with their neighbors, including a giant tribe to the west edge of their territory. These times would not last.
Currently, the tribes, as well as the Okashki, are being forced off their land as southern empires expand their territory further north. This has caused an even greater scarcity of resources, leading to tension between formerly-allied tribes. Being a small tribe, the Okashki face annihilation by their much larger and stronger neighbors.
(a crudely-drawn map of Okashki territory, written hastily by explorer Luten Gaulav during his Northern Expedition; not to scale)
The Eskani (Es-KAH-nee) is a bubbling creek, bringing fresh water to the land from frigid, northern mountains. During the summer, the Okashki camp at its banks. The Eskani was named after the legend of Eskana, an old woman said to live long ago. It is told that after wading through the creek's freezing waters, a magical salmon swam through her feet and she was granted eternal life.
Living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, the Okashki tribe has multiple different areas marked to camp at during the winter and summer months. The two most frequently-used camps are on the eastern side of Eskani creek during the summer and on the southern bank of Tioka Lake during the winter. The abandoned camp at the fork between the Eskani and the Lioshki was the tribe's former summer camp before the arrival of the Huldorenn. The giants were forced to change their summer home due to lack of food, and moved east into Okashki territory. This move caused tensions to rise, but an agreement was made. In exchange for their summer camp location, the Huldorenn would trade openly with the Okashki and protect their eastern borders.
The mountains of the Koleki (KOH-leh-kee) continue north into unclaimed lands, but mark the western border of Okashki territory. The tribe believes that past its peaks lies monstrous creatures, and that oftentimes their howls can be heard, carried by the wind.
Cutting through the vast arctic tundra, the powerful Lioshki (Lee-OSH-kee) river forms a natural boundary between the Okashki and the Huldorenn during the summer months. In the tribe's language, Lioshki apparently means "big river."
The arctic tundra constitutes for more than half of Okashki territory and is locally known as the Naskian (Nas-KEE-an) Plains. Here, there are no trees to be seen. However, when the temperature rises, the plains are covered in a blanket of colorful grasses, shrubs, and mosses, attracting a multitude of wildlife. Hunting, trapping, and foraging is advantageous to the tribe during this time.
Along the banks of the Eskani, withered black rocks rise from the permafrost; holes and decorative lines carved into their faces. The Okashki call them rock totems, and their origin is not well known. Whether it was the prehistoric humans or the giants that excavated, engraved, and erected these stones, it matters little to the tribe. They have used the totems as places of worship for centuries, feeling that the rocks are bound with spiritual energy.
To the east lies the thick, mysterious Shannoska (Shahn-NOH-skah) Forest. Although the tribe wanders into its depths often for food or building materials, there is an unspoken wariness of it. Going into the forest alone is only allowed during the coming-of-age ceremony, and even then many do not return alive.
The large freshwater lake of Tioka (TEE-oh-kah) lies within the southeast corner of Okashki territory. Being a dependable source of fish and aquatic plants, the Okashki spend most winters camped out on its banks. Onnahki (OH-nah-kee) Island, named after its gnarled, lichen-covered trees, sits within its waters and occasionally serves as a sacred place where spirits dwell.
During the Northern Expedition led by famous explorer Luten Gaulav, his scholars attended several religious gatherings held by the Okashki. One of them managed to translate the tribe's creation story, leaving the sole written record of how the Okashki view the creation of the world:
Beyond all lands, the great and boundless Ahku, seer of all things living and dead, stretches across the World. With strong arms He moves the heavens. The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars heed His command. His eyes eternal, the World reflected within them. He gazes upon it forever.
Here is brought Ahku’s immense and unyielding sadness. To be as powerful a Being as He, yet bound to only watch as the Emptiness dances upon His lands. How he longed for it to be filled with All Things! Tears welled within the all-seeing eyes of Ahku.
Look! See His four tears as they fall to the Earth!
The First, the fastest, She is Yerga, beautiful and bountiful goddess of water! Her essence seeps into all edges of the World, filling its emptiness with Her life-giving oceans. From Her, the vital grasses grow!
The Second, He is Tolashk, wild and unruly god of the storms! His first breath is a torrent of wind, carving deep into the land, creating a vast, crooked landscape. Seeing His handiwork, He laughs. With it, He carries Yerga’s waters to the highest peaks. The rain tumbles down to Earth, forming rivers and lakes!
Osha, the Third of Her siblings, falls to the Earth in a twisted heap! Her body lies broken, yet still She lives! For from Her body writhes the forms of many creatures, falling from Her frame! All of the beasts run and cry, their feet taking Her far across the Earth!
The chaos that arises from Osha’s great beasts can only be tamed by the Fourth, the enduring and immortal Naonnuhki, god of spirits! His fall has no landing, for He has no physical form, but His essence moves into All Things, like a bubbling fountain! Spirit fills the beasts, who once ran in all directions, now have purpose!
The beasts quiver in realization, for they fear for their inevitable Deaths! The great struggles begin as All Things compete to avoid their demise. Naonnuhki, with a kind heart, guides all spirits as their lives perish and new ones begin.
Behold! The Earth is filled with All Things!
The great and boundless Ahku watches the World with His eyes eternal. His anguish is gone! For waters wrestle against the land, and winds whip along the sky! The beasts run and cry! All Things welcome an immortal Spirit!
Ahku (Ah-KOO), controls the movement of the sun, moon, and stars. He encompasses the earth, and stretches out over all lands. Ahku is a watcher and observer, seeing everything that occurs, but is never close enough to interact with the world he sees.
Tolashk (Toh-LASHK), god of the weather.
Yerga (YER-guh), goddess of water.
Osha (Oh-SHA), goddess of beasts.
Noannuhki (NOW-nuh-kee), is the god of spirits, referred to as "the fountain from which spirit flows." He is the original source and creator of spirit, which is found in all things, both living and non-living. Having no physical body, Noannuhki is a force of nature. He is what initiates and guides spiritual transfer upon death.
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