The Vork kin’toni have an extremely dark past, compared to their ‘shining’ current golden type age they’re currently in, even with the changes that the Shattering age is bringing. Not many outside the clan have knowledge of this past, though those that do don’t speak of it as they do not wish to have a possible repeat of that history. In the past, they were a wondering tribe that bordered on true barbarians. They would attack and take over other clan’s homes for a period, forcing the occupants to flee the area, before razing it to the ground once they managed to strip the region of the resources they deemed useful. They were extremely feared in their corner of Taerel because of this.
Compared to the others in their immediate area, they were an unstoppable force that meant death if opposed. Their clan at the time was about mid-sized, compared to the other kin’toni across Taerel, though they were the largest in their eastern quadrant. Every other clan was only of small or micro size, ranging from a handful of clan members to about 100. With their enhanced strength, they were near impossible to beat without some kind of aid for those native to the area. They continued this behavior for the majority of the Awakening age, gathering resource after resource until a little before the Shattering age they finally settled in the Rirev Flooded Forest.
Having only taken over all their previous homes, they didn’t know how to build the majority of the buildings they needed. This led to a serious lack of infrastructure in their homes. The majority of the Vork are happy though, having left their old lives behind for their much stabler and calmer lives. They struggled for a number of years at the beginning, but they eventually figured out how to get the basic necessities that they required. The more the years that went on they managed to secure various agreements that made their basic infrastructures appear more luxurious to their visitors. Now that they are in a more peaceful time, they are very adamant that they stay out of any kind of dispute that may lead to their being pulled into a war.
Politically, they formed an agreement with other territories near them in a larger military force type of protection from any other clans that may attempt to take area or force their hand in any kind of agreement. Part of their agreement was that they would focus on trade and not any military dominance, as a number of the groups were clans that they had forced out of their homes. Those were still attempting to recover from the damage done, so part of the agreement was that the Vork would pay reparations of sorts so that they could work towards recovery. To the majority of the clans that know of them now though, they are simply a group that seems to be rather wealthy and have a large stronghold on their area of Taerel.
The Vork had a harsh ‘up bringing’ in the early days. For the younger and newly turned of the clan members, they were forced to train and improve their skills at near impossible speeds. Many at the time were, along with physically drained, emotionally drained to the point of constant exhaustion. This mental and physical exhaustion was continually amplified as they were given no time to rest between their trainings. When not physically training they were training mentally; sometimes it was both with the other repercussions- if they got a mental training wrong they had physical repercussions, if they missed the physical training or failed they’d get what could be considered mental torture punishments.
This was good and bad for them in that moment in terms of their general survival. This allowed them to be ruthless in their attacks and not feel bad about any kills or the damage done, which often guaranteed the majority of clan members’ survival during attacks, but it emotionally stunted them outside of the battlefield. It was rare at the time to have any close connections to other members of the clan despite the close living that was required due to the sheer amount of clan members in such small living arrangements. Many didn’t acknowledge it, being that if they did then they would feel the emotional disconnect much stronger and prominent in their lives, considering that they were still a very socially inclined people who simply were denying their natural desire by their standards of life that were being held by the clan.
Initially in their history, their brutality came from a need to survive, as the first of the clan were turned but left on their own. They developed the walls and aggressive tendencies as a way to protect them from being taken advantage of. Over the years that tendency spiraled out of control to the point that it was no longer a defense mechanism, it became an offensive. Currently, the Vork are going through the issue of having little in the way of challenge in their lives. Many, especially the newest of the Vork created during the Shattering age are unfulfilled as they have very little conflict and have never been faced with any kind of outward adversary. For the older Vork, this creates a problem as they have to constantly be on guard to keep the younger kin’toni from causing problems that may result in direct conflicts and war.
The youth of the clan have developed a kind of adrenaline junky attitude and addiction to counteract their boredom. Those not kept busy by work or adrenaline filled mischief often go through an identity crisis. They remember the older ways, but were not around for the majority of the time, so they often are conflicted by what their true nature is- were they barbarians or a calm and rather uninteresting people. To attempt to deal with their crises, they would often have group meetings with one another to discuss their various views and issues that has come up. None were too psychologically inclined to be of any true help, but the meetings allowed them to get their feelings out enough to keep them sane and leveled emotionally speaking.
The Vork kin’toni were initially created from another enhanced strength based clan. This enhanced strength lended to their barbarian type of living. The members that made up the Vork clan were weaker members of that original turning clan but chased out of their home very early after their change, so their bodies did not have time to adjust and form any region specific adaptations at that time. This initially was not an issue for them as the areas they took over were diverse in climate and being adapted to one would limit their capabilities. Their main ‘claim to fame’ was their boosts in strength, which were moreso than normal kin’toni. Most everything else was general and wide spread throughout the kin’toni clans. They developed heightened sensitivity in their eyesight.
They had a natural inclination to muscle forming and quick reaction speeds, which only increased with their daily training. That paired with their eyesight often led others to believe that they had developed a natural accuracy based adaptation where it was impossible for them to miss their target. In reality they were just hyper trained to overcome any tensing or mental reactions that may cause their aim to falter. Once they reached the forest and settled though, they finally started to form new adaptations. In the older members this caused mutations as their bodies were attempting the changes but were too suited to their previous lives that it only caused undesirable issues.
For the newer turned they had minor issues, but they were nothing more than annoyances or inconveniences unlike the older members’. For the newest turned after the settling, they received the adaptations right off the bat and had no issue with any side effects from the attempted changes after the fact. These adaptations they developed were a bit contradictory to their previous nature. In the past their strength was paired with a larger frame, but once they arrived in the forest they started shrinking in size despite keeping their same strength levels. For the older members this meant they were having physical pain from the dissolving and reforming of their muscles and bones while the newest members started smaller- often to those not aware, looking at the member, would think they were from a separate clan.
They also started developing vocal mimicry capabilities- which was also physically painful for the older members. For the mid aged members, they would often during the change or after long uses get a scratchy or itchy throat for a few days until it was rested enough. For some the dissolving and reforming for a smaller stature would lead to weaker and ‘glass bones’ where the slightest pressure would cause them to break. The mimicry in some led to the immune system attacking the vocal cords making them mute. For the second clan leader she was one of only a handful to develop poison, but her body didn’t fully develop properly. Her immune system attacked the stack- which wasn’t fully formed- that held the poison, inadvertently spreading it throughout her body.
It was a weak poison, one that caused nerve pain more than anything else, but the amount was enough to damage the nerve permanently. Over time the damage got worse and it caused her organs to start to slowly shut down.
The Vork’s everyday lives are, compared to the past, uneventful and plain. This heavily effected their psychology and their culture that formed after the Shattering abe. In the past they were extremely focused on increasing strength and their fighting capabilities. It was all encompassing for them and spanned across their entire day- every day. They would wake up and train, break for food, then continue training. The only time they weren’t focused on training was when they were preparing to invade a new area or were leaving their current area. When they were prepping to leave, they’d each individually gather resources they believed to be useful and bring it to the center of the town.
There they had various carriage like transports to hold everything. When they were prepping to invade, they would train in mock battles or be sorting through the supplies they have gathered for what would be useful in battle. Each of the tasks, while done in group settings, were all individual based. It was rare to find any kind of significant socialization between members beyond quick discussions that were extremely topic focused, such on the usefulness of an item. More often than not many Vork would spend days not speaking with one another. This was so, even for those who lived in under the same roof during their occupation of smaller towns. All of them were extremely isolated socially and mentally from one another, despite the close proximity that they all shared.
After they settled though, there was a large shift in their interactions and daily culture. The previous stress that the youth went through, leading to their disconnect, tapered to non-existent which caused a surge in socialization contradictory to their previous self-kept isolation. The youth especially became extremely social, often grouping with other newly turned and young kin’toni clan members. These groups often got together and caused mischief around their home to keep themselves entertained; the older kin’toni were focused on getting trade up and running which they believed couldn’t be trusted to the youth. This left the youth with lots of time to come up with new tricks and pranks.
The clan as a whole are decently happy in their daily lives but feel the underlying urge for more as they have very little in the way of struggles. This is especially true for the older clan members who remember their old ways and are extremely restless because of it. For many they throw themselves into work for as long as possible each day to keep them distracted, while other try and keep busy by attempting to make infrastructure without aid from other clans. This often keeps them too busy for proper socializing with the younger clan members. Many members started to form faux family units, mostly too keep the youth in check as they had habits of getting themselves into trouble.
Their past caused the older members to create more dysfunctional family units, while the newer ‘initiated’ youth formed more functional families but leaned more into enabling than healthy.
The Vork at the time do not have anyone who opposes the current set up to their government as they are all generally happy with its function and capability. In the past the government was set up similar to a monarchy. The main leader of the clan was extremely strong, particularly intimidating to face off against in battle. The majority of the clan simply deferred to his decisions when it came to where to go and when to fight. A few members in the past tried to force a take over, but the leader beat them in battle and that was enough for the others to simply ignore them. The leader himself did not care to lead or rule, he usually kept to himself which inadvertently encouraged others to do the same.
He simply wanted to have enough and be strong enough so that he didn’t have to worry about anyone being able to come and force him out with nothing. He recognized the irony that that was exactly what he was doing to others, but never addressed it as while those groups would aid each other, no one was willing to help them in the past. Often his ‘decrees’ were simply statements about what he was planning on doing and the other members would follow him in those actions. He was the leader for many years before he became wounded in battle. When this happened, the next strongest took over, who was tired and more inclined to settle. It took some time, as the clan was used to simply fighting so she continued to lead fights, though they were steadily further and further apart.
Eventually she realized that none of the cities were quite what they wanted or needed so she had them settle in a non-settled area. While the main push to settle as a clan, her leadership was short as she became ill due to a rare mutation. Before she was too weak, she managed to select and train a replacement that the clan agreed was acceptable to take her place. The clan remains under their rule at the current time. While following the monarchy type ruling that was set up in the past, over the years some changes were made. Initially there was only the leader who was considered to be the government, whom was gone to if there were any problems.
That was altered so there was a smaller separate ‘civil’ type of judicial system in place where it would only be escalated to the leader if the issue was appealed multiple times and a clan member was willing to ‘sponsor’ them and their innocence. There were no punishments for sponsors who backed members still found guilty, but their credibility did take a hit enough that if they did attempt to sponsor immediately after it held less weight as their judgement was viewed as flawed- either by manipulation or bad judgment as a whole. A second ‘delegate’ secretary type leader was added as well to sort through the highest priority issues that needed immediate attention vs what could be pushed until there was more time.
It often turned into, after briefing the leader on the situation, the secretary being given full disclosure to do that they deemed fit to handle the situation.
In the past, the entire clan was part of and made up the military force. Being the barbarian type, they all were trained in how to fight and be brutally devastating on the battlefield. While all were increased in strength, the clan made sure to account for any inclined fighting styles. The majority were trained in various; heavy hitting’ types of weapons like maces and axes, while a smaller number were trained in swords and a smaller in ranged weapons. The ranged weapons usually meant things like throwing axes, slingshots and a very small fraction taking up a modified bow, though spears and staffs were given to the cross-specialty fighters. They broke up the fighting groups accordingly, the heavy hitters being the front liners, the ranged but still close combat weapons being the second line and the furthest range fighters being the backmost line.
Rangers were usually the first to start any battle, hailing attacks on an enemy group before they reached close enough for the closer lines to take over. They were highly accurate, so they would continue providing support to the clan from the back with only a handful of friendly fire injuries over their entire campaign history. The front and second lines would often end up blended in the course of a battle, though it rarely became an issue unless the second lines were forced into close combat or into tight packed areas like a city alley way. In those cases, the various leads for the second line would sound a horn meaning that their line should fallback to their original position while also notifying the first line that their skills were better suited for the terrain.
In cases like this they were left to their own devices as neither of the other lines were suited to provide backup. Currently there’s only whispers and tiny remnants of their previous fighting style. The various lines are still there, though they’ve been extremely simplified. The front line is mainly made up of sword specialty fighters, the second being spearmen and the back lines being archers. Each line continues to have a horn for various communication between the lines on the field, though its limited to a single member per group. Unlike in the past, most are not trained to fight now, with only the strongest or those that wish to take that path joining the military force.
Once joining they train in the three weapon types, eventually choosing a specialty after their basic training is complete. The military mainly stays in reserves as they’ve committed to not getting into conflict, but those in the force continue with their various daily training and patrols of the region. Most in the military have never seen combat, as the older members have retired from fighting. To prepare them though, on the chance that they do end up going to combat the older members will split the force in half and create mock battles using previous battles they were a part of as their reference.
The Vork in their early days did not have much of an organized religion. They had an idea that spread through the clan of praying to a nameless war deity for success in their various exploits, but there was no true organization to it. As part of the pseudo-religion, they believed that the deity- for some it was a god, others a goddess, and some a nameless energy- was responsible for their various victories in battle. If they ever failed, they believed that they didn’t pray hard or earnest enough for the deity’s liking. Believing responsible for their success, they would as an offering and repayment of its favor when leaving a town, raze said town believing that it would transport it through the smoke to wherever the deity resided.
It was commonly accepted that the only way for physical objects of their world to move between the worlds was to travel in the smoke that would dissipate and make its way there. The believed at the time that any smoke was an offering, though if it was done unknowingly there was no benefit for that individual. With each town they razed, they believed that it allowed the deity to build a kind of ‘heaven’. That the deity’s world was one incapable of growing or changing without offerings from theirs. And only those who died in battle or were deemed great warriors were worthy of spending whatever the afterlife looked like with said deity. They didn’t have any specific idea about those not considered worthy as at the time they did not think they would ever settle down and would inevitably die in battle one day.
Being disorganized as it was what was considered ‘right’ of the religion was down to the individual. Some ideas were more accepted, like that of the smoke, while some like the burning of bodies being required to reach the deity did not stick. Most simply thought that once a last breath was released that the deity took whatever their consciousness was as it was no longer tied to the body, and thus didn’t need to be transported. The idea that there needed to be any organization or community about it was rejected outright by all but the rare few who suggested it. After their settling though, they stopped praying to the deity. Their idea shifted to- if giving any deity any thought, asking in favor to stay away.
A number still believe in the battle and war-based deity, but mostly content with the peace they give offerings with the request that they keep conflict away from their current lives. A small group shifted completely to the cosmic energy being whatever was needed of it, and as in the past it was battle and war that was what it embodied. As they were in a time of peace though, the energy became that. Those who ascribed to that would hold a monthly ceremony giving an offering to keep the energy stable, but beyond that would rarely give it or religion a second thought throughout their day to day lives.