Girikha the Untamed, Voice of the Wind
|Home(s)||The Grounds of the Eternal Hunt|
|Symbol||A grey wolf|
|Portfolio||Air, hunting, tradition, cunning, glory, solidarity|
|Worshippers||Kankoran, shaman, survivalists, trackers, gamesmen|
History in Avendar
On the plains to the north of the Brintors, the kankoran race emerged in the wake of the Sundering. A primal, naturalistic race, the kankoran flourished in their secluded home. Shielded by mountain, weather, and distance, the kankoran largely avoided the struggles of other races to the south. Oral tradition and conservatism preserved their timeless lifestyle, allowing them to remain nomadic hunters for generations. In time, the kankoran would leave their native hunting ground and seek new territory in human and ethron lands.
With their natural ferocity and classical love for the hunt, the kankoran were well adapted to expansion. However, they were not well adapted to face the cultures they would encounter. Elemental magic, standing armies, and metal weapons and armor all made victory for the kankoran difficult. Everything about them offended kankoran sensibilities, but perhaps most disturbing were agrarian lifestyles; clearing the wild and planting fields could not be farther from the kankoran ideal. Unable to drive out or vanquish established races, the kankoran scattered, seeking lands in which they could preserve the culture they so loved.
Pioneering humans and their ilk would eventually find their way north through the Brintors, into the kankoran homeland. Fear swept across the pack, and they dreaded the arrival of the settlers that had thwarted their brethren. In the turmoil, a kankoran shaman known as Girikha rose to power. Blessed with a mystical power to control the winds, she rallied the ancient pack and formed a guerrilla resistance. Her leadership, combined with a keen military mind and the harsh weather of the Ryarl, led to the victorious expulsion of these southern invaders. She and her warriors lauded traditional kankoran roles and methods, enshrining her forever in the memory of her race. Old and bent with age, kankoran tale tellers suggest that she ascended Mount Khorak and upon reaching the summit, vanished on the wind.
In the years to come, Girikha's legacy would descend from memory into song, and from song into legend. For much of the pre-modern era, Girikha's role in the northern pack was not greatly different than that of other mythical kankoran heroes. Kankoran would unsuccessfully attack the cities of the south and fractionally participate in greater Avendarian society, and find themselves largely relegated to the fringe unless they embraced cultures not their own. This would change drastically with the presence of an artifact known as the Galesphere. With the release of its power, kankoran elders saw the return of their ancient heroine. Empowered as She was, Girikha's position as a deity was affirmed, both among the kankoran and the world at large. Girikha today calls to all who hear the voice of the wild, offering an eternal, tireless hunt.
Goals and Methods
Girikha's goals are first centered on the kankoran race, and apply secondarily to others. Her primary intention is for Her own to be free to live in a way most befitting to the kankoran. This means their unfettered ability to roam where they please, hunt what they please, act how they please, and perpetuate kankoran notions of dignity, cunning, and glory. It should be noted that Her freedom is more physical and primal than the morality-based freedom of Rystaia Lightbringer. Her followers often quickly realize that those not invested in such a lifestyle will act to subvert it, either innocently or maliciously. As a result, She encourages willful segregation from non-compliant races, and active resistance when threatened or intimidated. Ultimately, Girikha hopes to see a world much as it was before the rise of human hegemony. In Her vision, all races live as the nomadic kankoran of old, and where survival is the fruit of merit.
Hunting is the cornerstone of the Windwolf's worldview. It is the vehicle by which an individual discovers his own strength or weakness; his own skills and limits; and of course, his primal confidence and self-respect. The hunt can apply literally, to living things, or metaphorically to the pursuit of some difficult goal in line with kankoran ideals. Goals which perpetuate Iandiric law, citification, or lead to laziness or complacency, are not ones She endorses. She encourages the recitation of the feats of ancient heroes and heroines, as their spirit lives on in the life of the wilderness. These tales can serve as tactical advice, morality plays, or simply descriptions of the lives of previous generations of kankoran. Finally, the Windwolf does not believe in "fair" battles. To Her, power and victory stem from cunning and aggression rather than money, equipment or numbers. Cowardice among Her own, however, is a short path to Girikha's disfavor.
Organizations and Followings
Followers of Girikha exult in traditional lifestyles, many of which are nomadic. Although they often gather together into a greater community, there is little differentiation between Her religion's sects. Instead, the precise role of any given Girikha follower is dependent on the individual, and may fluctuate to their current desires. The following lay out some of the more popular archetypes utilized by Girikha's followers:
The Claws of the Windwolf
"Run and I will find you! Fight and I will defeat you!"
The Claws of the Windwolf represent the most common example of Girikha's following. Fearless and bold, they emulate Her cunning by striking where and when it suits them. They are hunters in spirit as well as body, roaming Avendar in search of powerful individuals or creatures. Although a Claw rarely seeks death intentionally, he may if it will bring himself, or his kin, greater renown within their community. When they are found in cities, it is almost exclusively to challenge Guardians of Law; cowardly foes hiding within city walls often are not fearsome enough to be considered worthy prey. Claws of the Windwolf are most likely found in the company of kankoran, if they share company at all. Barbarians, rangers, and gladiators are among the most common professions within this archetype.
"Sit. Let me tell you of the heroes of old."
Firetellers preserve the traditions and stories of their pack. This often requires regaling younger, like-minded kankoran with tales of great heroes and heroines of the kankoran people, or training them in the rites of the hunt. To a Fireteller, what is most important is to ensure that his pack persists even after his lifetime. This may drive him to fight off foes who threaten it, try to expand his pack, or simply survive into old age. He has a special appreciation for the hunt, as he is keenly aware of the value it has for future kankoran. As a result, Firetellers are often found where glory is to be had or great battles are to be fought; if he sees victory or defeat, his lessons will be preserved in the tales of his pack forever. Bards are the most likely to be Firetellers, but not to the exclusion of other professions.
The Shaman of the Wild
"Leave with me. To live as a prisoner is not to live at all."
Not all followers of Girikha see the hunt as a search for greater glory. Those who do not tend to be among the Shaman of the Wild. To a Shaman, living a naturalist lifestyle is paramount. This may mean hunting small game, living in the wilderness, or simply a powerful spiritual connection to the natural world. Understanding or embracing the dominant cultures is all but meaningless to him, as he feels that to become too enmeshed in the rules of others will weaken him in body and spirit. A Shaman is the most likely of Girikha's followers to try to convince those living urban lifestyles to leave them and take to the wilderness as the ancients did. Interestingly, the Shaman is also the most likely to be a race other than kankoran, particularly caladaran or ethron. Rangers and druids are typical within this archetype, although it also may appeal to scholars as well.
Girikha is venerated amongst the kankoran, specifically those who hail from the Ryarl. Her following in other kankoran strongholds, such as the Crimson Sands or the Rirro Jagka is significantly thinner. As Her shrine is not far from the ancestral home of Her pack, those within it often have a special appreciation for Girikha's contributions to their lifestyle. Followers of Girikha know no particular house affiliation, but frequently find themselves within the ranks of the Raiders of Twilight, and to a lesser extent, the Champions of Avendar. Humans, aelin, and other civilized races rarely pray to Girikha, or indeed offer Her any particular respect. Her following in Avendar's cities is expectedly sparse.
Followers of the Windwolf can and do resist human and aelin cultural imperialism, instead choosing to play out the timeless life of a kankoran hunter. They therefore avoid cities and their fringe settlements, as they are a distraction from being one with the wild. To a follower of Girikha, Iandiric law effectively does not exist; property, personal space, and sedentary lifestyles are unnecessary symptoms of human society. While they do not have to try to coerce others into leaving the cities, they must segregate themselves enough as to not be corrupted by laziness, finery, and weakness. Finally, a follower of Girikha considers his word to be as binding as he wishes it to be. While it is important to find kinship (even with the rare non-kankoran), he does not need approval and will step away from those who do not accept his choices or lifestyle.
Those who find favor with the Windwolf are marked with a Wolf Cub.
Girikha finds commonality with chaotic deities, particularly Rystaia and Arkhural, in Her pursuit of personal autonomy. She has a special affinity for Enirra, whose followers are responsible for the release of the Galesphere and Her subsequent renewal. Good-aligned deities do not find Girikha trustworthy, since Her aims tend to overlook the slaughter of innocent people or obvious moral failings. Evil-aligned deities tend to find Girikha and Her followers weak, unwilling to go as far as is necessary to achieve Their terrible ends. Gods of law are generally indifferent to Girikha until Her actions or followers interfere with Their own. Naturalist deities, such as those of the ethron, share a respectful relationship with Girikha and Her followers because of their shared affinities. This does not, however, extend to the Sept, whose devotion demands the enslavement of all warmbloods, kankoran included.
Girikha has a special hatred of Iandir, as His law governs the cities and facilitates the lifestyles of many races. She believes that His law encourages weakness and complacency, which have no place in the kankoran ideal. Iandir, as an Overgod, has little to no concern about Girikha's upset. However, His servitor deity, Rveyelhi, has a longstanding rivalry with Girikha; His and Her followers vying for ideological supremacy. Having attempted to thwart Her deification, the Tyrant is a ready foe, and one who has often faced the viciousness of the Windwolf's wrath.