Demshia

The Demshia are a tribe of hunter-gatherer wolves possessed of strange magicke talents. They arrived in 1575 in Elysia, after a short period as hostages of Lord Kazuo Sakamoto.

Stara Ziema

Over 1000 years ago, the Yanaka peoples of Elysia had settled much of Stara Ziema. There they found similar tribal societies, largely peaceful and agrarian, and for a time prospered in the new lands of abundance and tranquility. With the rise of the violent Zanat'ka tribe, however, the Yanaka were forced to reconsider their expansion. After refusing to join the fold of Panak'si, the Zanat'ka war chief, the Yanaka were besieged by the growing panther army over a period of decades, and were finally forced to flee. In their wake rose the mighty Rephan Empire, which would soon hold dominion over all the north continent.

Legend has it that the Yanaka returned to their culture's ancient birthplace, Elysia. There they rebuilt their civilization, and prospered for a thousand years. But some other legends speak of the tribe that stayed behind, and fled north instead of setting out across the eastern sea. It is said the tribe went its separate ways to ensure that the Yanaka people would live on, were one group to fall under the Rephan axe.

The Final Flight

In the early 16th century, the Rephan Empire had begun its northern expansion to bring the disparate tribes to heel. The descendants of the refugee Yanaka had cultivated a hard living from the cold north, but could not hide forever. They had by this time chosen a new name for themselves; Demshia, a word from their old tongue meaning "the North-bound". Though they had been tribal Kings during the time of the Yanaka's prospering in Stara-Ziema, they were little more than prey now for the aggressive, expansionist Rephans, who offered them the choice of brutal oppression, or a cold, famished chase across the tundra. The refugees chose one last hope; flee to the ocean, and retrace the steps of the other Yanaka tribes.

Into the Paws of Samurai

Using the air-magicke spells of tracking passed down through generations, they set sail on their catamarans and traveled East. They arrived first on Lodis Island, where they encountered a very unusual warrior society who interpreted their ways as hostile.

Initial skirmishes between the rigid ruling Sakamoto clan and the itinerant Demshia were violent, and word spread of bizarre magicke felling Sakamoto retainers by the dozens. Despite this strange magickal boon, the Demshia were eventually overwhelmed by the Sakamoto numbers, and captured and brought to Lord Kazuo Sakamoto, patriarch and daimyo of Lodis.

Impressed by their hardened warriors and unusual sorcery, Lord Kazuo offered the Demshia their lives in exchange for the keeping of several of their numbers as guests, until such time as the government of the Elysian mainland could decide their fate. Sakamoto then allowed a small group of Demshia representatives to travel across Dragon's Maw Bay to parlay with government officials on the mainland. During the journey, however, their small skiff met with unfortunate weather, and several were lost or killed, including Ultre, son of Altar, the Alpha of their clan.

Thought dead, Ultre infact washed ashore some days later with severe injuries and amnesia from a severe head trauma, and unknowingly became the first Demshia to set foot on Elysia in over a millennium.


A Prophecy Fulfilled, and Recent Events

Ordered to remand the Demshia tribe to the custody of Peace Keeper authorities on the mainland, the Sakamotos released the clan in 1575. The Demshias immediately left for Elysia to complete their desperate quest. Zantam, the Elder Shaman who had led the tribe by magicke alone from Stara Ziema, proclaims an ancient providence has come true - Elysia is the birthplace of their people, and the promised land. Some dispute this claim, but soon the Demshia encounter the Yanaka of Elysia and observe their linguistic, cultural and religious similarities, adding weight to Zantam's prophetic claims.

They entered talks with the government and the High Chiefs of the Yanaka, who vouched for them in the formation of a settlement near Elysian City's East Woods. House Vale stepped forward to offer land to the "Lost Tribe" of Yanaka, so-described by gossip all across the country. Nobles and commoners alike came from far and wide to observe the Demshia in their fur robes and loincloths - some of them even unwittingly contracted into a traveling circus where they are billed as "Amazing Savages", and a testament to the primitive nature of wolfkind.

Meanwhile, as the Demshia settlement grow, Altar is reunited with his son, Ultre, alive and well and in the care of Elysian City's Constable-General, Eli Sykes. The boy, now 15 and fluent in the local languages, is somewhere in Elysian City. After a brief misdirection in which Ultium, Altar's second son, masquerades as the lost Ultre, the real boy is returned to his father and his memory restored by tribal medicine. The Demshia swear fealty to the Queen and become Elysian citizens - a small price to pay to live in the promised land, Zantam says. Things begin looking very good for the Demshia.

The Case of the Strange Temple

As the Demshia learn of an archaeological site near their new settlement, they become curious. Long thought abandoned and harmless (if a bit spooky) by the local Elysians, the Yanaka tell a very different story to the Demshia elders; the temple is haunted, cursed with fell magickes, and a place of great evil from their ancient legends. The Yanaka have shunned the place, however despite the attempts of the elders of both tribes to keep its nature secret, word soon spreads to the common Demshia, and then to the curious children of the Alpha.

Ultre, having cultivated a curiosity for Elysia during his extended stay, finds the stories irresistable. He is found interacting with an ancient stone artifact there that Elysian scholars had long thought magickally-inert. Word spreads to the Archaelogical Guild, who dispatch their scholars to have another look - this time, escorted by the Demshia mage, Zenas. Astonishingly, Zenas performs no more than a simple cantrip and the temple's signs of age disappear - the mage has infact removed a magickal shroud that reveals the temple in working order, though even he has no good idea of what its working purpose is. Rumour spreads like wildfire across the kingdom - as far away as Auffester and Vedas, pub patrons are whispering, albeit drunkedly, that the Demshia are the Ancients returned to reclaim their temples and bring the world to its knees.

As clearer heads prevail, the curiosity of the academic circles is nonetheless piqued, and they send more researchers to investigate the temple. As they begin to excavate the once-thought-irremarkable temple, strange events begin to transpire. Several researchers are reported murdered by grave-diggers and bandits. Eventually, word spreads of ghastly apparitions - spirit-wolves wielding severe axes, who have no substance to their forms but nonetheless inflict mortal wounds with homicidal intent. Meanwhile, the Demshia who have accompanied the scholars begin to be struck down by some strange fever, causing symptoms of savagery, as if afflicted by rabies.

Suddenly, all contact with the research team and the Demshia shamans ceases. A week later Zantam himself arrives in Elysian city, but not as expected - he is in the grip of some murderous mania, unleashing his magicke upon the city, and accompanied by ghostly figures resembling Demshia who attack the city guards. Many Peace Keepers lose their lives in the sudden and terrifying attack. Unable to reason with the once-trusted Demshia Shaman, they are forced to kill Zantam before any more destruction can be done. The temple is sealed off by order of House Vale, and proclaimed off-limits to all furres Elysian and Demshia alike.

As the country reels from this terrifying ghost story, the almost religious reverence for the Demshia is replaced by a belligerent fear and dread of the lost tribe. Even some Yanaka disavow any friendship they may have had, and only through the political machinations of Elysian City Mayoress Shia Duvont and Kirun Chieftain Dagdah are the Demshia allowed to remain. It will take many months before relations warm between the Demshia and the Elysians.

The Return to the Temple

An incident between some members of the Demshia tribe and an Unseelie Fae are reported, however the country has turned a deaf ear to the plight of the tribe. The event is an overture to far more dark works, but still no help is offered to the Demshia, with Zantam's betrayal having lost the trust of the Elysians. The tribe have taken Zantam's actions badly as well, disheartened by their hero's fall to the demon magickes of the temple. Now it appears the temple is alive with the restless spirits once again, but now the tribe are on their own.

The Elysian government has chosen to ignore nothing short of a war between the spirits of the temple (called Lost Wraiths) and the Demshia. Zenas, the only survivor of the Demshia mages at the temple, takes it upon himself to somehow quiet the fell magickes where the Shaman had failed. The Lost Wraiths once again attack Elysian City, but Zenas reaches the innermost cloister of the ancient temple and confronts the focus of its power - the wraith of an ancient Yanaka necromancer, who had displaced the spirit of Zantam and taken possession of his body. Zenas is nearly possessed as well, but Altar, the Demshia Alpha offers himself instead in a noble sacrifice. Zantam's own wraith suddenly arrives to lock with the necromancer's wraith in single, mystical combat.

With the foe distracted, Zenas destroys the inner mechanism of the temple, destabilizing the wraith army who had marched to Elysian City. The spirit-wolves dissipate into the evening air, and the necromancer screeches in the night as it too is banished. At last, the focus of the temple's power is shattered, and the enslaved wraiths of ancient Yanaka are freed to seek their fortune in the afterlife.

Word spreads of the heroic actions of Zenas and the fallen Demshia Chieftain, Altar. While the Demshia mourn their lost leader and celebrate their hero, they receive the sympathy of House Vale, the Elysian City Peace Keepers and the Yanaka Chiefs alike. The Demshia are not as revered as in the heady days of their almost prophetic arrival, but they have redeemed themselves in the eyes of Elysians, even if the people of the Kingdom do not truly understand the events.

Schism

Without knowledge of which is the elder son, the Demshia are uncertain as to whether Ultre or Ultium was Altar's chosen successor. In Demshia society, pack rank is sacred, and cannot be changed by the whim of even Elders. They revive an old tradition - the two-headed Alpha; a situation in which two rulers share power over the tribe.

Ultre and Ultium prove to be opposites of each other. Ultium, hardened by the death of his father and rooted in traditional, conservative practices, opines that the Demshia were best to remain hunter-gatherers. Ultre, however, has had two years living as an Elysian while the rest of the Demshia were on Lodis, and has taken a keen hand to farming and mercantilism.

The two-headed Alpha causes a rupture in the Demshia - Ultre's faction converting their settlements to lucrative farmland, and many of Ultium's supporters engaging in talks with the Kankori Yanaka, a band of ultra-conservative Yanaka dissidents. Rather than be directly responsible for the sectarian turmoil of his people, however, Ultium enters the Peace Keepers, where he is known as a capable but surly and stubborn officer.

With too much damage done to the delicate Demshia social order, the Elders proclaim Zenas the best choice. Overwhelming support flows from the Demshia commons, with even Ultre backing Zenas for Alpha. In short order, Zenas is proclaimed Alpha until such time as Ultre and Ultium make their final decisions, and become full-grown warriors.

The War

With only informal allies, the news of the Arrym Invasion in the west shakes the Demshia tribe to its foundations. Some smaller factions of the tribe fight with the Elysians, others refuse to believe the Arrym are any worse than their Colonial "oppressors".

By the time of the Occupation, Zenas is advised by allies to throw his lot in with the treaty and agree to Novari demands. With a heavy heart, Zenas bends knee to the Novari Government to safeguard his people's lives, even if not their honour.

Elements of the Demshia factions now sympathetic to the EFV Resistance group go berserk. They declare themselves opposed to Zenas' group, and it looks as though Demshia may for the first time in generations begin killing one another. Frightened commoners of Zenas' Demshia fear for their lives, and provide sensitive information to the Novari. The Novari act on this information ruthlessly, killing and capturing large numbers of the dissident group, dumping the dead in mass graves and brutally interrogating the survivors.

Zenas is ordered by the Novari not to give aid or comfort to any of the dissidents, even if they be family to his own people. Horrified, the Demshia of the east woods rescind their support for the Novari, and join the brutal oppression of the Novari along with the rest of the nation. Zenas is despondent at his choices, but has to continue despite the dishonour for the sake of his people. Zenas' heroic exploits during the Temple incidents reinforces his popularity, but it is uncertain how long this will last.

Treaty Period

As the Occupation came to an end, the Demshia found themselves with few allies to vouch for them in the negotiation of the Cherry Treaty. Though many had fought valiantly in the war, the loyalties of the Demshia were uncertain for both the Novari and the other sides.

With the two-headed Alpha now a distant and foolhardy memory, Zenas rules over a troubled Demshia population, fighting to raise the East Woods settlement again as the population swells but resources dwindle. Ultium still serves the Peace Keepers, although with an uncertain future. Ultre, meanwhile, the first Elysian Demshia and heir to his father's feathers, strikes a dubious and very modern figure, selling pies and produce, albeit lucratively, on Elysian City's market district.


Peculiarities

Though appearing quite savage even to the most primitive of Elysian Yanaka, the Demshia possess some practices and abilities that confound even magicke scholars. Their tracking abilities are infused with the use of air magicke, and Ultre has learned to utilize even Earth magicke in the cultivation of crops (with some destructive aftereffects).

The Demshia possess some abilities believed to belong to the Ward Magicke category, which allow them to enchant their weapons with user-specific defenses. The Demshia call these "ensouled" or "Soul weapons", however this type of magicke is thought to exist in the far places of the world where magicke-adepts invent new magicke systems without the interference of mage guilds and governments.

Many of the Demshia's traditional magicke abilities are enshrined in ritual. For this reason, there are only very specific spells, mostly devoted to the maintenance of their lifestyle and to hunting. A select few, however, have singular war applications.

Most notable, perhaps, is the use of Wraiths. To most magicke scholars, Wraiths are the rumoured fuel of golem creation. They are disembodied spirits, able to be attached to relics in order to animate mundane material. Astonishingly, however, Demshia wraiths seem to be able to take a quasi-physical form of their own.

Demshia mages may summon wraiths, in this case ethereal copies of themselves, to fight in their stead. Despite seeming to have form and no substance, these wraiths can inflict damage as severe as any real sword or axe-arm. These are useful reconnaissance tools, as well as very handy in dispatching foes without the risk of harm to the caster.

Demshia battle tactics rely heavily on the use of wraiths, who make up their front line in combat while suppressive fire is supplied from archers in the rear. Wraiths are extremely resistant to physical attacks, however are highly susceptible to offensive magicke. Some spells from the schools of magicke academies can simply disenchant the wraiths out of existence in a heartbeat. Wraiths are also used to cover the retreat of living Demshia - a common tactic in their unfortunate history in Stara Ziema.

Should a Demshia mage, whether through incapacitation, death or misuse lose the control of their wraith, they run the risk of having their spectral copies become Lost Wraiths - dangerous entities that track emotional states the way sharks trace blood in the water. Some consider this potentially deadly disadvantage one of the reasons that "Shadow" magicke fell out of favour so long ago, and cannot be retraced by contemporary scholars.

Further

The Demshia still hold their East Woods settlement, however many of the dissidents travel in more unruly circles, notably the Kankorin Yanaka groups. Among their chief allies are the Kirun High Chief Dagdah, the leaders of House Vale, and Elysian City Constable-general Eli Sykes. They have made some inroads with the new Elysian City Mayor Gudrin Osterlund, but it appears that any shades of Demshia political clout are at their all-time weakest.

Even now, several Demshias are still the (fairly well-treated) captives of the Sakamoto Clan. Bound by tradition, the Sakamotos refuse to release their hostages until an honourable exchange has been met by the mainland's government. Family members of the hostage Demshia campaign for their release, but worry the captives will be Lodisians by culture upon their return, no longer holding their tribal customs to heart.

Tolerance for foreigners (especially those with little money or political clout) is at an all-time low, but it is a diversity that many Elysians accept. While the Demshia have the support of House Vale, and the use of their lands for now, time may add another tragic verse to the Demshia's unfortunate saga.

Some say only the restoration of Altar's line of succession can reunite the shattered Demshia people.

Demshia

Species: Arctic Wolf
Organization: Pack structure
Homeland: Stara Ziema, though legend has it prehistoric Elysia
Habitat: Forest


Life Span: 60 years
Height: 5' to 6 1/2' tall.
Weight: Traditionally scrawnier than the average furre, but always well fit.
Fur: Pure white in winter, black runs in summer. Dominant trait.
Hair: Same as body fur.
Eyes: Varies.


Innate Abilities

Natural: Most Demshia are genetically well-equipped for cold climes, having evolved for survival in the north of Stara-Ziema over many generations. They are natural hunter-gatherers, but some have recently developed an affinity for agriculture.
Magicke: Demshia stand a slightly higher chance of being born magicke-adepts. Those that are possess the ability to control a Wraith, or a spirit-doppleganger of themselves capable of interacting with physical material (even having violent capabilities). It is said that Wraiths feed on the emotional energy of their owner, and can display traits appropriate to the owner's emotional state. If a Demshia dies or misuses this ability, a wraith may become a Lost Wraith, a disembodied spirit with dangerous, sometimes homicidal tendencies. Demshia can also create Soul Weapons with a form of Ward Magicke, enchanting a mundane weapon with a security system that prevents anyone but the owner to wield them.
Psionic: Standard chances of psion in their species and culture.

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