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Rulers in Aruak


The spiritual leader of the Aruaki Clans, Orn has almost as much temporal power as King Jorian himself--more, with some of the older, more traditional Aruaki, who grumble that an hereditary king is mere modern foolishness, an attempt to ape Frafrejan customs that the Aruaki would be well to leave off. Orn is a fierce, principled man, not evil or unkind, but completely devoted to his god in a manner some might call fanatical. Orn is the one responsible for the yearly rites of blessing and divination that reveal Demnat's plan for his people; he firmly believes that Demnat speaks to him, and that he is following the god's holy will in all his actions. Orn is very nearly incorruptible. He will always do what he believes is right, and nothing short of a direct revelation from Demnat will stop him. He can be a wise and valued counselor or a determined enemy, and is a wizard of some skill. His magical talents are mainly in the area of scholarly magic, translation, scrying, divination, psychometry and the like, but he also has a working knowledge of genetics and the effect of magically induced changes to the genome. (The Aruaki, by the way, are probably the leading biomagical scholars in Alastari...)

Orn believes that the arenas are a foolish waste of lives and resources; he knows something of Sheila's motives in establishing them, but feels that there are other, less cruel alternatives. He opposed the opening of arenas on Aruaki soil violently, but, in one of the few major political defeats of his life, he was overruled.

Like all priests of Demnat, Orn is a shapechanger, and can take on the shape of a lion at will. As High Priest, he is responsible for keeping the vast library of genealogical records that the church has accumulated over the last few centuries. The priests believe that it is their duty to spread "Demnat's blessing" (the shapechanging ability) to all Aruaki people. In practice, this means that the church keeps track of all known shapechangers, the species of cat they change to, their children and the children's ability and so forth. Often the church arranges marriages to spread the wereblood to families where it is rare. Priests, both male and female, are expected to sire or bear as many wereblooded children as possible; this is considered a holy duty. Of course, other nations (and even the common folk of Aruak, descended of the farmers and hunters who inhabited the land before the Aruaki arrived) often misunderstand or distort this aspect of Demnat's worship, and sordid tales of temple prostitution and orgies are often whispered in other nations. Orn will stamp out these tales whenever possible.

Part of Orn's opposition to the arenas stems from this as well. Due to their valuable genes and the fact that the country folk often regard them with distrust and suspicion, the life of a young shapechanger in Aruak is limited. If they wish to be fully trained in their ability, the young were is almost required to apply to the temple, and from thence to the priesthood is a small step. Of course, not all shapeshifters are of priestly temperament, but even so, like Catholic school, temple training tends to stick. Restricted by Aruaki law in some cities from owning property or entering politics, there is almost no place for a were to go BUT the temple...or the arena. Increasingly, young shapeshifters are choosing arena life as a means of escape from what they see as a restrictive life. Orn sees this as a disaster to Demnat's plan, and would jump at the chance to abolish the arenas in Aruak.

Orn is a tall, gaunt, broad-shouldered man in his sixties. He is golden-skinned with the characteristic yellow eyes of his people; his graying hair is worn in a long braid adorned with feather and bead talismans. His gaze is piercing; he has an aquiline nose and a strong jaw and is clean-shaven. Orn wears the ceremonial robes of his office, a floor-length fur cape bordered with even more talismans and fetishes of bone, horn and ivory; each is sacred to Demnat and is used in the church's rituals. His robe is scarlet by custom, bound with golden cords. He carries the Staff of Office, an elaborately carved staff of pure ivory, rumored to have been made from a single tusk of some massive southern beast from the fabled Aruaki homeland.


The king of the Aruaki Clanhold. The kingship of the Aruaki is a position descended from that of clan warchief; until the last hundred years or so, the position was not inheritable. However, Jorian's great grandfather, Aranat the Sly, managed to sponsor one of his sons for the post, and since then the Aranat dynasty has held the throne and gradually accumulated enough power to rival the church. Originally the duties of the warchief-king were completely military in nature; he was responsible for the safety of the realm, the raising and training of troops, the establishment of city guards and so on. Nowadays the king is a far more powerful element in Aruaki government; although he cannot originate laws, he has the power to approve or reject anything the church or the council of clan leaders comes up with, and has the power of casting the deciding vote in case of deadlocks on the council. He retains personal control of the army as well.

In contrast to his official role, the present king, Jorian, is an even-tempered, peace-loving man. Convincian on his father's side, he has inherited that people's invincible honesty and equally invincible stubbornness. He is a shrewd man, not impulsive, and will consider all sides of a problem well before ruling upon it. Jorian often butts heads with Orn Olharin, the High Priest. The two men seldom agree, but each respects the other. Jorian would often rather find a diplomatic solution to a problem, where Orn prefers to send in the troops. Orn also favors devious methods and keeps an extensive spy network, which Jorian naturally uses, but the king is a man for straightforward dealing whenever possible. Because of his honest and straightforward demeanor, some people are fooled into thinking him stupid; this is not the case.

Jorian is a man of medium height and stocky build. He has dark brown, slightly wavy hair, wide blue eyes, and unremarkable features in a round face. He is slightly fairer-skinned than the average Aruaki. He is an excellent swordsman and a competent general. He is not a shapeshifter himself, but he has married a young noblewoman of the Olharin Clan, Ilranih Rihun of Olharin, and hopes are high that they will produce an heir with the wereblood. Their first child, a daughter named Mirlay, is still too young to be tested.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1513 reads)

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