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Snippet #2593968

located in Northpass, a part of The Tribes of Imos 2, one of the many universes on RPG.

Northpass

The little village hidden in the mountains where the Shapeshifter tribe lives.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Canowicakte (Good hunter of the forest) Character Portrait: Kalagisa
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Canowicakte strode purposefully into Northpass. His face was set in a grim mask, eyes hard, mouth a taught line. Many tribespeople were still going about their business around the torch and campfire-lit village. Men and women both attended to the preparations of hides, furs and meat. Others knapped the black, glass-like obsidian the tribe favoured for spearpoints, blades, arrowheads and tools. The older members of the tribe, those that were not sleeping, made baskets, blankets and clothing.

“Welcome back, Chief! Did you have luck on your trip?”

Canowicakte did not pause to answer. He turned his head towards the shaman Kalagisa and called out:

"Make your way to the Longhouse with the others of your ilk! I will address the Elders and the council!"

Then he was gone, moving through the centre of the village. The Longhouse, a large wooden structure with walls of oak and a roof of birch bark, was situated at the focal point of Northpass. A great firepit used for feasts, religious ceremonies and communal gatherings was before the great hall. The longhouse was door-less, open to the elements. If any of the tribe who were not on the council or an Elder wished to listen to or take part in any discourse, they were welcome.

Summoning one of his retainers to him, Canowicakte took his place at the far end of the Longhouse. His sat on a woven mat on the floor. Unlike other chiefs or kings he did not sit upon a throne. He was as beholden to his people as they were to him and all were seated in equal standing in his hall. He pulled the wolf-skin about his shoulders and pulled up its snarling visage over his own. It was a ceremonial guesture. Not meant to intimidate his own, but to make it known to all present that the matter to be discussed was a serious one.

"What is it you wish of me, my Chief?"

The warrior was a veteran of many battles. He wore his hair in a mohawk and the customary warpaint of the cheif's honour-guard adorned his body and face. Red and black to signify blood and darkness. The Shapeshifter Tribe's warriors were expert ambushers.

"Summon the Elders and the High Priestess. The Shamans will be arriving shortly. Then gather Hekaha and the rest of the Veterans."

"At once my Chief."

Canowicakte watched him go. He sat mulling over his thoughts in silence as men and women began to make their way into the large room. Someone lit the fire in its centre and soon bestial shadows began to play off of the ceiling and walls. Soul-animals prowled in the shadows, or reclined in the rafters or alongside their human counterparts. Many of the tribesfolk gathered around the entrance-way or the sides of the longhouse, wishing to listen to what was to be said. All was hushed, each awaiting their chief's words. After what seemed an age Canowicakte raised his head and began to speak.

"It has been a lean year for us. The hunting parties have reported that the herds have been thin or non-existant, and the fish have taken different routes to the spawning-pools. We face hard times ahead!"

A murmer of agreement passed through the gathered assembly, then died down as Canowicakte began to speak again.

"We have faced hard times before. Hungry years and bitter winters. We have all lost friends and family to famine, disease and war. And we have prevailed time and again!"

The warriors arrayed around the hall smacked their leather-bound shields with their spears in unison.

"We have always found a way! The Spirits have ever guided us through the worst of times, and never have we broken our bonds of kinship to one-another. Our collective decisions have ensured our survival to this very day, and will do so again!"

A muted cry of assent went up at the back of the hall and was picked up, carried forwards until all gathered were cheering as one voice. Gently, reverently, the chief raised a hand for silence. It was obeyed. He was smiling, as a father proud of his children.

"Ever have you trusted my judgement, and ever have I bowed to your collective will. You all know Enapay, my companion. He has a plan that may indeed save us from the threat of hunger. But this plan may also bring us hardship in the times ahead. So I put it to you all. I shall lay it bare before you, and we shall discuss what is to be done."

The Elders and Councillors began to murmer amongst themselves, the tribespeople waiting in patient silence. Enapay was well-known to the people. The great bear had come to the aid of the tribe many times in the past, and although bears were not usually counted amongst the wisest of creatures his judgements had usually proven to be sound in nature.

"Tell us of your plan, my Chief. We shall listen."

The Elder who spoke was Tunkasila. He had been the finest warrior of the tribe in the days of his youth. His battle-scarred body was becoming frail, but he still bore himself as proudly as he ever had. Canowicakte bowed his head to the old man, taking it as a sign that he was now allowed to speak. The room again fell quiet.

"Enapay has suggested that we illicit aid from the Air and Earth Tribes. Ever have we gone to aid the Earth Tribe in battle, even going to far as to send the best of our young men to fight in the wars that saw the old Lord of the Fire Tribe killed. I led the charge against his personal guard myself, and saw him struck down. For that aid my father Hehaka asked no recompense. A diplomat therefore, should be sent with gifts to discuss food shipments."

There was a clamour of voices from the throng.

"Why should we send them our wares when they owe us a blood-debt!?"
"Where were their warriors when last we were attacked?"
"We should raid their lands, not beg!"
"Would you call down war upon us!?"
"Better war than humiliation!"

Canowicakte listened to the cries and accusations with a calm countenance. He was used to such things. All opinions were welcome, and therefore all were often voiced. Meetings such as this could often take hours, if not days. A voice rose above the tumult of noise. It was Tunkasila again.

"What of the Air Tribe, my Chief? Were not our last dealings with them violent?"

The crowd fell into a hush yet again. This was indeed true. Not a few months previous there had been a border dispute between two groups of hunters from each tribe. One side claimed that a kill had been made on Shapeshifter land without hunting rights being given. The other party claimed that since the animal had been shot and tracked from within Air Tribe territory, the point was moot. Violence had ensued and soon small skirmishes had begun to flare up. Eventually peace was made between the two chiefs, but relations were still tenuous.

"You are correct, of course, Tunkasila. But we have also lent them the aid of our warriors in the past, as well as given them much trade. All our trade to the East first passes through their lands, and they get the better share! So a diplomat, bearing gifts, will also be sent to their chief. We will remind them of their debts to us, and ensure that we wish no harm or ill-will upon their people."

Canowicakte looked out at the shadowy faces. He raised his voice so that all could hear.

"This is about our survival as a people, as a tribe! I would not do this unless I felt that there was no other peaceful solution! But I did not call you here to impose my will upon you! So let your voices be heard! All opinions shall be listened to and weighed! All will have a say if they with it to be so!"

Canowicakte fell silent, looking out at his people, awaiting their response. He hoped to the Great Spirit that they would agree with him.

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