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Hunters of the Stag
The Hunters of the Stag (or Viatax Sitadi Axdivijink Regigoraauk) are a diversionary sect of Cedrism who worship Horjin. They reside on the Isle of Naudia'Diva, are animist in their beliefs, and are considered by some to be technologically backwards.
Sagittarius, before he Transcended but after his many trials and tribulations with the Elemental Mages, left from central Brookshire and headed south. When he came to the shore, he built a boat and sailed off.
He was expecting to die at sea. And he almost did.
His boat capsized in a rough storm, and Sagittarius, suffering from fatigue and deprivation, was unable to retain consciousness.
Some say he pulled deep within himself and swam to shore. Some say Lacrymosa gave his servant one last favor. Some say Horjin was calling to him.
Regardless of the way he made it to shore, he did.
He woke and found his zest for life renewed. Somehow he had managed to retain possession of his knife, but all else was lost.
He fashioned himself new clothes and a simple bow, surviving off the land for many months.
When Sagittarius had been living at the island for almost a year, a boat came to shore to rescue him. They had seen a fire and thought someone was stranded.
Sagittarius instead opted to stay.
The tale of this man who preferred to live the life of a savage despite his upbringing spread. In the meantime, Sagittarius began using his geomantic powers to shape the island as he saw fit. He split the island into four basic parts: the Auleauk Desert, the Hordius Ten Forest, the Nervena Plains, and the Sagittandi Mountains. He also used his other magical talents to populate these areas with a variety of creatures.
The island grew and changed, and Sagittarius met Horjin and became his follower. Meanwhile, ships curious about this "noble savage" came to the island. Some decided to stay, though most left. Most of who stayed did not survive.
Soon, they brought more than people. Some brought creatures to the island, as per the request of Sagittarius. Others brought stone, so that a Temple to Horjin could be built. The followers of Horjin had taken a keen interest in this previously Lacrymosan hunter, and had come to see him and build a shrine.
The first five followers of Horjin (Sagittarius, Segovia, Penryn, Rutaus, and Diva) also began developing their own simple language for the purposes of communication while there were outsiders on the island. These outsiders included the followers of Horjin at first, but eventually came to include them.
Soon after a fire in Shirekeep which destroyed the main Temple of Horjin, the Rangers (as they had begun calling themselves) and the followers of Horjin joined into one cohesive unit. The existing rituals of the sect were molded to their new wild environment, and the animist beliefs of Sagittarius meshed with central Cedrist thought.
At this point, Sagittarius (now in his late fifties) became the High Priest of Horjin and set up the system of self-government that still exists today: the Triat and the Pentat. Torat, the old Head Priest of Horjin, stepped down and resigned himself to the honorable position of Aurajinrale. Also upon this union, traditional magics became outlawed. No Ranger would use them: they were to work with the spirits around them instead of forcing the universe to their will.
The twenty-six Paths of Horjinic magic began their evolutions, and the Path of the Stygian Nightmare's first walker, Diva, became more and more upset with the "regime". She wanted there to be no government, no leadership, and no regulations for the Rangers, and she left, taking a sizable portion of the Rangers with her.
Sagittarius, hurt by this, soldiered on nonetheless and thought that their "movement" would die out within a year or two. He was wrong: Diva and her followers were joined by Nelig and became the Neligan.
On Sagittarius' sixty-third birthday, he proclaimed that they were no longer the Rangers. Instead, they were to be the Hunters of the Stag, charged with protecting the island. It was then that he carved his Nine Precepts into the Questing Stone and charged the Aurajinrale with finding a successor.
Three days later, he left the Temple with his bow and his knife and did not return.
Segovia, Rutaus, and Torat all left within a matter of months. Penryn, however, stayed to the very end of his days, living out his life as a Hunter of the Stag.
The loss of their leaders was a devastating blow to the Hunters of the Stag, but they were left in good hands: the replacement Pentat was capable and led the Hunters well.
The sect grew over the years to where it is today, with nearly five hundred active Hunters of the Stag on the Island of Naudia'Diva. There are nearly a hundred others who live abroad, studying the world to further complete their Sacred Hunt or pursue their Quarry.
Nine Traditions of Sagittarius
The traditions of the sect are as follows:
- 1. Hospitality
- Everyone, regardless of race, creed, or nationality, shall be provided hospice.
- 2. The Sacred Hunt
- You have been granted a Sacred Hunt and a Quarry. It is your purpose to pursue them without relenting.
- 3. Peace
- We are more than animals, and armed conflict is the way of beasts. Do not fight without honor or reason.
- 4. Artistry
- Art is what separates man from beast. The pursuit of the arts, in any form, should take precedence in your life.
- 5. Commune
- Show others the respect you wish to receive yourself.
- 6. Domain
- The Island is sacred land. Treat it as such, and punish those who don't.
- 7. Destruction
- Should the Island, the arts, or nature ever be threatened, it is your responsibility to protect them with your life.
- 8. Station
- Show respect to those of higher station than you, but only respect they deserve.
- 9. Mission
- It is your duty as a Hunter to cull the weak and promote evolution as best you can--even at the risk of making a species extinct.
The Triat is the main body of leadership for the Hunters of the Stag. It is comprised of the First, the High Priest, and the Aurajinrale. The larger yet less powerful governing body for the Hunters of the Stag is the Pentat, which consists of the Triat, but adds the Guardian and the Armorer. The Pentat is representative of the first five Hunters (Sagittarius, Rutaus, Segovia, Penryn, and Torat), while the Triat is representative of the three aspirations of Hunters.
Rites of the Hunters of the Stag
- The Initiation Ceremony
- The Rite of the Earth-Mother
- The Rite of War
- The Rite of the Great Hunt
- The Funeral Rite
- The Birthrite
- The Bloodhunt
Horjinic magic is different from most other magics in that it manipulates spirits into performing actions for the spell caster. Horjinic mages follow several paths of magic, each related to an animal or object prevalent in Hunter's lives. All Hunters learn the Path of the Questing Stone, and most learn the Path of the Stalking Tiger, though this is not always the case.
Besides Sagittarius and the other original Hunters, there have been a few Notable Hunters across the ages.
Hunter's garb is a combination of leathers, dyed material, and natural fibers. They are usually dyed to match the environment they will be spending most of their time in: tan for the Auleauk Desert; green for the Nervena Plains and the Hordius Tan Jungle; or gray for the Sagitandi Mountains.
These clothes are always simple and are always made out of natural materials. Not only does this lend itself to the Hunter's slightly ascetic lifestyle, but it also helps one remain camouflaged.
Hunters rarely, if ever, wear armor heavier than hard leather armor.
Hunter's garb is sometimes enchanted to be resistant to specific elements. If this is the case, the article is tinted with a slight coloration: blue for water; red for fire; brown for earth; or gray for air.
A Hunter's primary tool is their knife. It is used in nearly every task a Hunter needs to perform and is even a key element in some of their rituals, particularly the little-known Path of the Blood Moon and the more common Path of the Berserk Sandworm.
It is a rare occurrence to see a Hunter outside the Temple without their bow, and only slightly less startling to see them without it within the Temple grounds.
In some cases, a Hunter whose preferred weapon is a missile (like a javelin) carries that weapon instead of a bow.
To a small portion of the Hunter population, crossbow equipment is becoming increasingly popular.
Each Hunter has a weapon that they choose—upon the completion of their initiaton—to specialize in. Though many of these weapons are not normally considered usable for hunting, the unique challenges that their prey present require the Hunters to go to great (and sometimes strange) lengths.
Most—but not all—Hunters carry common magical materials or the components for their favorite spells. In some cases (such as carrying ice for a Path of the Hero's Regalia spell), these components need spells of their own or special carrying methods.
All Hunters carry a sign of their personal totem, usually in the form of a pendant, necklace, or bracer. This sign can be actual (a bone) or symbolic (a carving), but is occasionally both. This totemsign glows gently when the Hunter is interacting with the totem, and changes color slightly depending on the totem's mood. Some totems (usually at the request of their Hunter) animate the totemsign to make it easier to communicate.
Horjinsign is a tattoo on the back of each Hunter's right wrist. It is unique to each Hunter, and is tattooed upon the conclusion of the Rite of Initiation. It serves much the same purpose as a Hunter's totemsign.