An excerpt from The World, by various authors. Listed excerpt written by Aloysius Bachmeier.
Some say it it was cataclysm. The end of the world. They are right, in some vague sense; it was the end of the world, as they knew it. However, the more optimistic like myself, or perhaps the more foolish, I could never tell, would say it was rather... perhaps not an improvement, but a new beginning as opposed to the end. A world believed to have been baptized by fire, truly baptized by fire. The second world war having had more of an impact than anyone could have anticipated, to have brought even the heavens themselves crashing down in unholy retribution. Heaven falling down to become hell on earth.
Perhaps I should explain... After all, not many are truly familiar with the specifics of "The Collapse" - an apt name, if not a bit simple. Most just have gone on to accept that gods were walking among humans, most of the world was now wastelands packed with golems and magical beasts, and magic had become much less of a fairytale, and more of a resource unlike any humanity has seen before; spirit. However, even more have been born into this world, knowing no other. Unfamiliar with the peace that existed before the event, but perhaps not of the hardships that immediately followed. Ah, ignorance...
We'll start with the ones who pressed the "Apocalypse" button in the first place; Ye Olde Celestial Bureaucracy. A collection of gods and other celestial beings that ruled over the world from behind the stage. Said gods now walk among us, now. Leaders, warriors, farmers like myself. They all have their places. They all have their reasons. Some wish to make right in the midst of their blunder, some just wish to make the best of what is left, others even hide in exile, while a few have even gone mad. All wish better to not speak of the event, but I have found one, who I shall not name, who was kind enough to pass on the history, so that the same mistake would not happen again.
The Celestial Bureaucracy, before the war, was faced with an issue. That issue was the world itself, most notably humanity. The creatures they came to rely on for their continued power were now becoming self-sufficient, and their numbers larger by the century. One might think this growth a benefit, to those who rely on their faith and belief, but rather they became more and more distant from the gods, not feeling as though they were needed anymore. The gods considered how best to solve this, but before they could decide on a solution, two wars, unlike any other, broke out.
The World Wars. While one world war might have been fine for even a weakened pantheon, in charge of the cycle of life and death, another one so soon after the first quickly ended in the bureaucracy being overwhelmed by the spirits of the dead and the damned. Their powers waning, they had no way to cope without having their excess spill out into the world, no doubt causing a breakout of vengeful and evil spirits, so they came to the conclusion to kill two birds with one event; an event that would no doubt have the people looking to the heavens.
A storm unlike any other, to match the war unlike any other. Storms have always been seen as acts of anger by the gods, and this would be no other. A magical, mystical storm no doubt making the people beg for mercy from the gods, while also making use of the influx of spiritual energy that was flooding the heavens.
It worked. Horribly, horribly well.
The gods had no idea the scale of the power they were dealing with. They have not worked with this sheer scale of living, breathing, spiritual power. They underestimated it, steering the power towards a center point in the hope to try to compress them to a point they could inject as a storm into the world… but the spiritual energy, living as it was, followed after itself in the swirling, chaotic storm that the gods have set out for it. Thus, it continued, swirling and growing at a rate the gods quickly lost control of. A storm they wanted, but not one to ravage the earth.
Thus, this new storm, fed more and more by the spirits flooding heaven, quickly became something disastrous. It wasn’t enough that it swallowed up the souls, growing larger, but even the heavens themselves began to fall apart to feed the storm even further. The energy of the heavens themselves only feeding the spiritual energy, until it became an unstoppable, vicious cycle that tore the heavens asunder.
Not even the heavens could handle such a beast, and as the gods fled from the heavens, heaven tore itself open - releasing the vile storm onto both the earth, and the even hell itself. The gods effectively banished themselves from their own domain, leaving them with nothing to do but exist on the earth and try to preserve what bits of civilization they could as the world was torn asunder and turned into what you see today.
And the rest? History.
"An honest scowl over a dishonest smile, expressive ranting over silent fuming; for if you let a person go on thinking they are pleasing you, then all they'll learn is how to annoy you more."
The events of The Collapse, as it had come to be called, had changed the world to a greater degree than anything that had come before.
Between the years of 1940 and 1983, a series of magically empowered storms ravaged vast swathes of the world. The first of these events, at the time regarded as a natural disaster, had its epicentre somewhere in central Asia, although subsequent storms would expand outwards, and some would reach as far as other continents entirely.
Initially, humanity's efforts were focused on disaster relief, yet as the storms continued to rage - often appearing overhead without warning, and disappearing just as quickly - a far greater problem presented itself. The great deal of magical energy, itself the shattered remnants of millions of souls, that was unleashed by these storms would often be absorbed by the ordinary spirits within everyday objects. Empowered by this "spirit", once-harmless elements of the world would be twisted into strange, and often aggressive creatures. These golems laid waste to nations already ravaged by seemingly endless and unpredictable storms.
By the time the last great storm had passed, in the closing months of 1983, even the most powerful of nations had been brought to ruin. Where once mighty states had held sway of great swathes of territory, now all that remained were a number of scattered and isolated settlements, many of which had little to no knowledge of one another. The largest of these cities, now taking the form of walled enclaves, defended by what remained of their nation's military, continued to preserve life as it would have been without the Collapse having happened.
Smaller towns and settlements, however, lacking the security and resources of the enclaves, had to cope with a world much changed from what they had known. In these places, people turned to new resouces - the vast reserves of magic provided by spirit took the place of traditional fuels and sources of energy, while old ways long thought unsuited to a modern world suddenly found themselves revived with new purpose.
In the present day, not much has changed since the early 1980s - at least for those in the enclaves. In many ways, the progress that had once seemed to be a fact of life had slowed to a crawl, with humanity more focused on survival and security. All attempts to reestablish widespread communications had failed due to lingering fallout from the Collapse, and even the most basic of resources had become scarce. Outside of the enclaves, however, life was far more unpredictable. For those that called these isolated locations home, a new economy based on barter and exchange, as well as the ever-present and useful spirit, had come to supplant the currencies of long-gone nations, while the changes to the world had given rise to new trades, and new opportunities, for those capable and bold enough to seek them.
Such is the state of the world today - broken, fragmented, but still clinging to life. While some hide behind walls and try to pretend that nothing had changed, others have adapted to this new world and all that it has to offer. For now, a degree of peace has returned to the world at large, with the worst and most dangerous results of the Collapse only being found further from the remaining settlements, and the establishment of limited, yet mostly reliable trade networks.
However, only time will tell if this relative peace will last, or if a second collapse might claim what remains of civilisation.
“When my brother approached me a century ago, he seemed… distressed. Many might not have been able to tell, though. He was good at that, holding his emotions close to himself, likely to keep others from being concerned when he was. I knew my brother, though. I was right to be concerned, as he explained to me the Bureaucracy’s plans, and what they might mean for the world.
At first I was angry, that they could even be so foolish as to consider unleashing any sort of event onto the world that might disrupt the balance, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t. The balance necessary to keep the heavens in power, and the lively earth they have created just as lively, had for a long time been in decline. I couldn’t blame them for wanting to do something to make sure they did not lose the power they needed to keep the world running, or worst of all perish, as it would make the entirety of it all pointless anyway. I could not blame them, but I knew that I must act.
At my brother’s urgings, I took a swath of the land from Japan as my own… A place in the mountains, not far from a cursed forest - a place already free prying eyes from wary people. A place in which housed a single, human village and shrine, cut off from the rest of the world by the spirits and youkai also inhabiting the forest. These people had no threat of modernization, and so they remained reliant on their surrounding area. They remained fearful of the youkai their fear just as well nourished. It was a perfect setting, and I had to act.
I used whatever influence I had made on the youkai population of Japan to steer them towards this place, while at the same time making my peace with the local shrine maiden - the Hakurei bloodline. They worshipped an old, weakened god, one that used to provide them with the power necessary to protect the village, but as the power waned, they faced the threat of invasion. I promised them that I’d help in maintaining a balance that would both protect the village, as well as the youkai population. A deal they were hesitant to accept, but wise enough to not decline.
If they had declined, I wouldn’t know what I would have done. It was with the aid of the Hakurei family’s upkeep that the border remains standing, as each day it stands, I am without a piece of my very being. It’s ever so tiring, and I need my rest… I could have asked my brother to loan me the power necessary, but part of me was afraid to. He had already done so much, risking his standing with the bureaucracy just to warn me. Not to mention, part of me was too prideful to let him know of how weak I had become, or else he might shirk his duties to needlessly worry for me. I couldn’t have that.
With the shrine’s assistance, I created the barrier that enclosed the village and the surrounding area. The forests, a nearby lake, and even a section of the mountain upon which the tengu lived - a section they were so kind to allow me to have. I had finally made my sanctuary, a land now well populated by refugee youkai and gods alike. One that would grow to be the world it was today… even in the face of the collapse...”
~Yukari Yakumo on the creation of Gensoukyou
Gensoukyou, the setting of touhou, was created by Yukari Yakumo following the warnings from her brother that the world was in danger. It was created with the false notion that it would serve as a place where humans and youkai could live in balance, to save the youkai from the modernisation of the outside world. This might have been true, were it not for another looming threat over the world.
The majority of Gensoukyou’s residents are blissfully unaware of the Collapse, or the now-ruined outside world, but some of the higher-level beings, including those governing over the sections of Heaven, Hell(s), and the Netherworld that the border also encompassed ( with a bit more fudging of information, in the beginning ), and people from outside the border, like the SDM and the Lunarians, are aware, but work with Yukari to make sure the rest of Gensoukyou’s denizens do not realize, usually in exchange for continued refuge.
In light of this, any events that occur outside of Gensoukyou’s borders, directly displayed in canon, will be ignored until otherwise tweaked to fit in. Unfortunately, this will likely mean that the events of ULiL will be completely irrelevant, while the events of LoLK will be tweaked to fit in ( the invasion of the moon likely being solved in a different way ).
Other than this, things will generally remain the same, however the border is a quite a bit worse for wear and is on the verge of collapse. Besides allowing more things to cross over on occassion, this might result in a plotline - so look forward to that.
"An honest scowl over a dishonest smile, expressive ranting over silent fuming; for if you let a person go on thinking they are pleasing you, then all they'll learn is how to annoy you more."
The moonlight gleamed off the destroyer's hull. Water cascaded down from the bilges, and the hull reverberated with the purr of the steam turbines. The lettering on her stern reads "ムラクモ" (Murakumo)
A blue haired girl stands on the bridge, staring at the ornate chronometer on the pods of gauges in front of her. The reddish light is reflected in her eyes. Her ship sits about seventy five kilometers off of Ameland, Netherlands. She peers over the dashboard at the surfacing submarines around her. A girl with dark, reddish hair pops from the submarine. "The charges are set, Murakumo-taichou. We estimate that the four depth charges will be enough to break the pods loose, but it will most defiantly stir local abyssal activity." Murakumo nods. "Copy that. Get your torpedoes ready and stick to the plan. Fire those charges at the set time. You have our orders." The submarine bubbles for a moment, venting hydrogen gas as the hatch closes. It disappears under the surface a moment later.
Murakumo takes the hat from her head, spinning it in her hand. She watches the chronometer tick away. The minute hand reaches the marker set on the dial, and the water rumbles with explosions. A small smirk crawls across Murakumo's mouth as her radar begins to light up green, and abyssal eyes light up red in the distance. She reaches over to the throttle control, pushing it up. Her hull rumbles and thick smoke belches from her smokestacks as she begins to move forward. Her guns move side to side, looking for a target to train on.
//Please review and submit feedback at your convenience.
Backstory can be found below:
November 17th, 1940. That was when everything went to hell. The world’s major superpowers were locked in the midst of World War Two. I still remember that day as if it was yesterday. The sky opened up and rained hellfire and damnation. The earth splitting open and swallowing cities whole. The petty battles and issues were soon forgotten as the world’s governments realized they would have to band together in order to protect humanity. Attention was turned to the remaining naval assets that were now the lifeblood of the planet’s commerce and supplies. Those in charge would come to call it “The Collapse.” Ships alike were rounded up and assigned duties to move and protect the public from not only the storms, but the gollums and other mythical creatures.
However, as crewmen and commanders passed left and right, and oil became a scarce resource without the infrastructure that once supported the metal beasts, it became obvious that this was simply not sustainable. The remains of the American, Japanese and European governments with the assistance of some of the top minds from companies like Matushita Electric, Fuji Heavy Industries, Western Electric and the Bell Laboratories formed the “ACnC” Project.
Automated Command and Control (ACNC) started as nothing more than a pipe dream. They wished to create autonomous cyborg-type commanders for each of the ships. Give them the ability to run the ship with little to no crew, and make complicated battle decisions in the field, saving the race’s great minds from being lost at sea. The project would then later be expanded to allow the cyborgs to operate separately from the ships, both on land and on the water. They could be used as a mobile strike force, or disaster aid. Much stronger than the average human, and without emotion to cloud decision making it was the perfect defender of what remained of our race.
In 1950, following the breakthrough of the transistor, the first two automated ships rolled out. The USS California and the IJN Murakumo. A large battleship attack type, and a quick small destroyer. These first cyborgs were limited in what they could do, and the automation that ran the ships was limited, and lead to the ships often running out of fuel or breaking down. ACNC struggled with these challenges through much of the early 1950’s; also facing engine inefficiency and weaponry issues at the same time.
All of that changed in 1957, when the eggheads at Bell, working with some of the remains of Cray and IBM, invented the microprocessor. What once filled the ship’s entire crew quarters could now be contained inside the head of the cyborgs. Advances in nuclear technology allowed Radioisotope thermoelectric generators large enough to run the cyborgs for months at a time to be installed, and the beta ships went through an extensive overhaul. At the same time, those remains from Matsushita’s R & D team had begun to create personality codexes for the cyborgs. ACNC had found that average joes really don’t like having emotionless robots come and order them around. They preferred someone they could connect with and trust.
Murakumo was the first one out. Her ship’s boilers had been refitted with high-efficiency oil burners, allowing her to travel further. They had spent much time working on improving the appearances of the cyborgs as well. They had now become what would be referred to as “Fleet/Ship Girls.” She had been outfitted with smaller wearable versions of her own 12.7cm cannons, and special footwear was devised to allow her to skate across the water. Murakumo was sent on her first mission, a simple delivery of much needed satellite parts to the Bell Labs branch of the project in the US. They would attempt to launch a satellite to re-establish world-wide communications. This project would fail in a spectacular manner, drawing attention to that facility. Murakumo would go to fight off the resulting attacks from the magical creatures, and deliver the personnel to safety.
Following this project, the refitting of every functioning ship in service was greenlit. All of the remaining resources that could be allocated to do so were dumped into ACNC, and a base of operations was established on the island of Jersey, located in the English Channel. By 1971 most operational ships had been converted and were now operating as part of ACNC. Several commanders were handpicked, as well as some of the technical and mechanical staff to reside at the Combined Fleet’s base of operations. ACNC would continue to operate, establishing itself as the bona fide escort service for shipping and communications, defense and security for the enclaves when things got too out of hand. They were also available for hire for the smaller colonies that were not officially affiliated with any shamble of the world's governing bodies.
The entire planet was the wild west, and the ship girls were the Texas Rangers
"I belong to the Nomadic Pact. Nomads as you folk call us. Gypsies, sometimes." the woman says, her arms crossed, the notably dull silver-colored fingers of her right hand a notable contrast to the dull tan of her outfit.
"Scavengers. Salvagers. Traders. Wanderers." she lists, shifting one of several belts lined with pouches that crisscross her body. "We're a peaceful sort, usually. Only ever raise a weapon to two things. Bandits and the beasts." she explains, gesturing to a rifle-like item on the desk, with a gas cylinder as the stock, several pressure gauges lining it, and a slew of ball bearings, nails, and even a small handful of strangely glowing stones.
"Made it myself." she says, almost proud of her work as she shifts her metallic hand, the joints creaking faintly in protest as she does. Something crackles from the satchel resting on her upper back, unintelligible due to the listening equipment the woman wears around her neck.
"Tribe's calling." she says simply, shrugging as she rises to her feet, a faint jingling of metal accompanying the movement as she grabs the makeshift rifle, scooping the ammunition into a pouch, slinging the rifle over her shoulder as she walks from beneath the tattered tarp, leaving the merchant to his shady business as a curious mass of dirtied metal follows the woman off into the warlands.
Who they are: The Nomadic Pact, often called simply as the Nomads.
What they are: A rag tag group of humans that thrive out in the warlands, numbering in the low 2000's.
Where they are: The Nomadic Pact has their largest population in the European countries bordering on Russia, where they slowly spread further outwards, exploring more of Europe and Russia, moving towards China and Africa, with a small number of Nomad's having crossed the ocean to the Americas.
About the Nomads: A normally peaceful conglomeration of tribes, they tend to roam the ruins of the old world in search for relics of the old times, which they either re-purpose for use in their tribe, or trade to the settlements and cities they go near for supplies.
They roam the wastes in tribes ranging from as few as three people, ranging all the way up to the fifties. The smaller tribes are more indipendant, going from place to place to make a living and a name for themselves, while the larger tribes tend to settle down in semi-permanent settlements, often built in or near collapsed buildings that they can strip of everything useful (they leave no stone un turned, and no screw left in the boards. The only material they have no true need to gather in mass is concrete.), relying on small scouting and salvaging parties to supply the tribe while it gets the materials ready for the road.
Their peaceful nature does not go without the spine of fighters. While all Nomads carry a weapon, their true power comes in their ability to fashion artificial golems (not to be confused with the spirit golems created during the collapse) to fit a wide variety of needs, from tasks as menial as carrying the Nomad's supplies, to the all-to-important role of security. Each tribe will have at least one golem designated as a pack mule, and one designated for security- the relative quality of golem is often linked to the skill of the craftsmen in the tribe, as well as the size of the tribe itself (as a larger tribe has more readily available resources to make use of.)
As a people, they tend to be benign, assisting those who are unfortunate enough to lose their way in the wastes (if they are fortunate enough to come across them) find their way home, and providing them with minor protection from the magic that plagues the world. They seldom take payment for this practice, instead taking the promise of favors from the rescued people.
A person does not need to be born into the Nomadic Pact to be one of them. They are known to recruit the lost people they find in the wastelands, taking them in and, over time, teaching them their ways until they deem them worthy of undertaking the right of passage.
Every Nomad goes through a right of passage, a long series of events and rituals that must be undertaken before they're granted access to the golems inner workings, and passed the knowledge of their engineering. During the right of passage, a Nomad will be tested on everything they have learned to that point, before being given a rigorous series of lessons to prepare them for the world outside their traveling camps. A recruited Nomad will not be trusted with the knowledge to make their hallmark technology for as long as it takes for the Shamans and Sages of their tribes to decide them to be ready.
How they look: A Nomad human (a none-golem) can be as ragtag and makeshift as the weapons and golems they craft. They often dress in thick fabric, usually dull in color, that covers most of their skin. Most Nomads go without facial covering, though some are known to cover their face with rags, or even salvaged or makeshift gas masks. Not all nomads are fortunate enough to be accident free, and many have lost limbs in their line of work, either in protecting their tribes from the beasts and raiders of the warlands, or in accidents associated with salvaging ancient buildings. These people are often crafted a magitech prosthetic, thrown together from the material on hand, to service as their missing limb until they have earned a more properly functioning one. At their best, the limb is nearly as functional as the old, though lacks the same kinds of co-ordination.
Their golems very greatly, and no two are exactly the same. They range from temporary golems made of mud to help with carrying a heavy load, to the more permanent, and much less gentle battle golems they use to supplement their tribes security.
How they fight: Nomads make use of everything they have available, ranging from a sharpened steel file to a repaired pre-collapse firearm, and notably the magic of their mystics. They tend to lean towards things made with their own hands, as old world weapons are rare, often difficult to repair, and worth a lot as trade.
In close situations, they tend to use blades, axes and spears they fashion out of anything they have available, ranging from a simple kitchen knife attached to a broom handle to a hand-forged blade. Swords are notably rare among their ranks, as they require too much work to make, and they typically prefer to keep at a longer distance to their adversary.
They heavily favor their makeshift projectile weapons and spears, usually engaging a threat from well outside the reach of a blade. Their guns are, with very few exception, hand made and are often unique to their wielder, as virtually every member of the Nomadic Pact is, at a basic level, proficient in golemancy and engineering. The most common form of weapon found are single shot, one round loaded rifles, firing things ranging from recast lead bullets to ball bearings either crafted or found amidst the wreckage of machinery. The more proficient weapon smiths among them often make use of magitech assisted pneumatic weapons, often firing ball bearings and engraved or otherwise imbued stones at their target. While more capable of rapid shots, they often don't pack the same upfront raw power as the single-shot firing rifles that are more common in their ranks, as they sacrifice power for quantity of shots landed, and a larger variety of ammunition.
Nomad's public standing: For those outside the walled enclaves, the Nomad's are benevolent at best, and cold and ignoring at the worst. They seldom strike out against anybody who doesn't do something to earn the reaction, though they will cut off trade lines with their people if a group swindles them or attempts to rob them.
The walled enclaves and more developed, more "proper" city states tend to view the Nomad's as little more than wandering, thieving gypsies. An unfortunate result of their ragtag nature, and something of a holdover from old mannerisms when it came to dealing with people like them.
The Hands of Urqest
"A lot of the people out there barely remember how things were, they're too busy just try'na get by. But for us... It was a nice, quiet time. Not too much noise, y'feel? Could afford to lay back and relax. But now, there's just too much work to be done. This might sound kinda arrogant, but I don't think people would get by without us." With a sigh, the woman leans back against the wall, rummaging through her pockets until she produces a worn-looking lighter, using it to light the cigarette already in her mouth. "Not to worry, though, we'll fix it."
The Hands of Urqest, sometimes referred to simply as The Hands, are a loosely associated group of former magicians who have made a sort of contract with old spirits - some of them even predating the collapse. These spirits, thought to be somewhat deific in power and influence, manifest their power through objects held by the Hands, generally small things like rings, lockets, or bracelets, but also sometimes things such as weapons. The exact capabilities of these spirits ranges greatly between them, but they all, in some way or another, allow their wielder to channel them, becoming their avatar, in a way. Varying just as greatly as their spirits, the Hands themselves are just as diverse, in appearance, attitude, and fighting style. Some Hands, such as the "Horizon Star, Naji Dalsvek" use a gun; others such as "Harrower of Fading Light, Talhest Orllorn" use daggers. The most prominent similarity between them is their shift from mages proper, to beings that seem to have become more like youkai, incorporating magic into their very being.
The contract that each Hand makes is dependent on the spirit that they make it with in terms of the ceremony of things. However, there are no cases of a Hand and their spirit willingly ending their contract, and, in fact, it seems to be impossible except in the case that the Hand dies. When that happens, the spirit simply finds a new Hand to contract with. There are records of a spirit being passed down in a line of Hands, where "Herald of Dusk, Hralec", a spirit taking the form of a worn silver ring, was handed down to a Hand's only daughter on the day of their contractor's death.
In general, The Hands seek to restore some manner of balance to the world, through whatever means necessary. For now, their work mostly involves supporting the various people in their day-to-day lives, helping them to survive by whatever means necessary. The majority of them prefer a more direct approach. Because of that, The Hands are known as a group of mercenaries, lawbringers, and sometimes even assassins. One day, once humanity has a better hold on their lot in this new world, it will be the time to begin reversing The Collapse, one step at a time.
The Hands have no official leader, usually lone wolves in their own right, or sometimes operating in small cells of no more than four, they carry out their objectives with a honed sense of purpose. It's only a rumor, but there is tell of an elder among this group which binds them under one cause, "The Fragmenter of Distant Echoes", as they are sometimes referred to. Little is known about who they are, but given the coordination with which these small groups act, they must be influential indeed.
The faint smell of incense pervaded the room; a thin curl of smoke still rising from an ornate censer beside the door. Much of the room was shrouded in darkness, the only source of light being a single lamp, shaped much like an old lantern, that stood in one corner of the large wooden desk that dominated the room.
If one were to look closely, it would almost seem to shine blue for the briefest of moments.
It was quiet in the room, despite the bustle outside, the only sound being the soft scratching of a pen on paper. Seated behind the desk, an older man wrote something into the large book he had open in front of him. Much like the room, he seemed almost out of place in the world as it was - just as it seemed old-fashioned, even antiquated, with its shelves covered in scrolls and books, so did he seem to be an artefact of a bygone time; clothed in layered, flowing robes, and with his long hair bound up and secured with a silver pin.
He did not seem to react to the soft scratch of the door as it was slid open, focused as he was on the book in front of him, and the motions of his pen. Instead, he finished what he had been writing, first, enscribing each character onto the page with practiced ease. Only when he was done did he lift his gaze from the book, setting his pen down and greeting his visitor with a small, knowing smile.
"Ah, hello," he spoke softly, but his voice seemed to fill the room, all the same, "And what can we do for you, today?"
Who they are: The Gaitianhui, an organisation whose name can be interpreted as either "The Order of Another Day", or "The Society of Reformed Heaven". They are known, in various places, by either of these names, and others.
What they are: Part fraternal organisation, part secret society, part trade guid, and part criminal enterprise. Members of the Gaitianhui can be found in settlements and enclaves the world over, providing certain services, and pursuing their own, largely unknown goals.
Where they are: The Gaitianhui was originally based in China, although their operations expanded throughout Asia, and small groups of their members could be found as far as the americas. These days, they prefer to operate out of the larger settlements, and branches of their organisation can be found in many enclaves.
The two most important branches - the Grand Chapterhouses of the Orient and Occident, can be found in the Tokyo Yellow Zone, and Manhattan Enclave, respectively. The original home of the order is rumoured to still exist, somewhere within the Central Asian Red Zone, as well.
About the Gaitianhui: The origins of the Gaitianhui can be traced back to a small number of cults, monastic orders, and criminal organisations, that were united through the actions of the kami Amenominakanushi in the latter years of the 18th century, although some of these groups could trace their history back much further than that.
Generally a secretive organisation, at least where their own goals are concerned, they rose to the height of their power in the years preceeding the Collapse, at a time when they could count amongst their ranks many wealthy and influential individuals. Perhaps owing to the celestial origins of their founder, they weathered the chaos of the Collapse better than most, having hidden vast stores of wealth and materials in preparation for some major event. That said, they did not escape the destruction of the old world without at least some losses, in no small part due to the changes in the world rendering much of their previous network of connections and contacts ineffective.
That said, they did survive the Collapse, and continue their operations in the new world largely as they had before. They maintain a small presence in many settlements, favouring sheer geographical reach over any large concentration of power. One is as likely to find them operating out of a small office, as they are to be maintaining a large temple, and individual branches of the organisation operate with a large degree of independance.
In all cases, though, the nature of their operations share a certain similarity. They actively seek wealth, influence, and power, and hold themselves beholden to no rules save their own. They can be ruthless when crossed, and will actively seek to avenge any slight or injury against their members and associates. That said, they seem to value custom far more than law, and are generally not disruptive to the communities they inhabit. They can, and often will be, rather helpful to any who might approach them, although outsiders will have to pay for their services - this payment frequently taking the form of favours or services to be performed in the future.
Although diminished - their members numbering less than a thousand worldwide - the Gaitianhui remains a well-connected and wealthy organisation, and in the post-Collapse world, that only makes them more dangerous. Their money can buy the services of many mercenaries, and their influence often extends to local governments and security forces. They manage their assets carefully, however, and will generally seek to avoid open conflict - such a thing being bad for business, and harmful to their communities.
Joining the Gaitianhui is in theory a simple matter - any member can recommend someone to their organisation, and such a recommendation is rarely refused. New members will be provided for and looked after by the order, but will also often be put to use doing more menial tasks, until such a time as they are trusted to learn the order's secrets.
How they look: Members of the Gaitianhui are as diverse as the regions in which they operate, and will often seem to be no more than ordinary members of whatever community they inhabit. That said, and perhaps due to the age of the order, there is a marked preference for old-fashioned clothing and accessories amongst the more highly senior members.
The only time members of the order can be definitively tied to it by their appearance alone would be during official functions and ceremonies, when all members will wear long, layered robes, marked with the symbols of their order.
There are some variations in their dress, depending on the particular branch or chapterhouse the individual is associated with. The base colour of their robes is always black, with accents in different colours - those associated with the Chapterhouse of the Orient wear robes accented with red and gold, while the Chapterhouse of the Occident has as its colours blue and white. Individual members, as a sign of loyalty, will often incorporate these colours into their everyday clothes as well, but this is far from being a rule.
Additionally - rarely seen since the Collapse - the Chapterhouse of the Centre, the original home of the order, has as its accent colour a pale yellow-green.
How they fight: The Gaitianhui prefers to avoid open conflict where possible, and will often use mercenaries, private security organisations, or even just local thugs to do their dirty work for them. Such people will generally make use of whatever equipment and skills they already possess. There are times, however, when the Order will see it necessary to become more directly involved. It is usually the newer members, those not yet trusted with all of the order's secrets, that will provide the "muscle" in such situations.
As they place significant emphasis on the safety of their members and the security of their operations, the order generally insures that should its members be likely to face danger, that they are well equipped. Most commonly, they favour small arms, of the highest quality available, and they generally import a lot of weaponry from those Green Zones still capable of producing such things. Every Chapterhouse will maintain a small armory, and members of the order will be issued with at least one weapon with which to protect themselves. Should they anticipate greater trouble, they can field magitech-enhanced personal armour and military-grade weaponry, if in limited numbers.
Despite this, senior members of the order can be far more dangerous, as they often practice a form of martial arts that seamlessly incorporates magic and draws from the energies of the surrounding world. The most powerful amongst them can literally command the surrounding elements for offense and defence. In keeping with their preference for old-fashioned things, such individuals will often be armed with swords, polearms, or other melee weapons. Not that they need anything else.
The Gaitianhui's public standing: As the order conducts its business surrounded by what remains of civilisation, they make a point to, at the very least, maintain the appearance of being respectable people. In many cases, this will go beyond appearance, as their ongoing attempts to gain power and influence often lead members to become notable figures within their communities. They may not always be liked, but they will almost certainly be respected.
Those that know them better, however, might understand that the order ultimately cares very little for laws or regulations. They will be respectful of culture and custom, but will not hesitate to break laws or engage in criminal enterprises should it further their goals. To such people, the order might be seen as little more than criminals themselves, and those in power may see them as a threat - in some cases, rightly so.
The Romuva-Suomenusko Alliance
Men and women marched into the village in a great procession, carrying lashed-together logs in the direction of several carved idols. They were clad in tunics and robes of many colors, and a pungent smell of burning herbs slowly creeped behind their footsteps.
There was much clamor in this setting – the night was still young, and the villagers were restless. Boasts of deeds were smattered with riddles, singing, and gossip among children and adults alike, though a great hush soon overcame these people. The procession dropped their logs in front of the idols, and stuck sharp staves into the wood that they previously bore.
The hush was replaced with a slow chant that picked up pace with each successive sway back and forth of the men and women, for they pulled upon a rope tied to each stave that bore away at each log. Little by little, the logs smoked, caught fire, and also heralded the arrival of an old, bearded individual who donned a long, white-red robe. The glint of the growing flames flecked off of his belt, which was covered in riveted bronze that swayed with each footstep. The steady sound of his forked staff impacting upon the ground grew ever in volume and clarity, until he stopped at one of the idols.
With his hands raised to the heavens and fire in his eyes, he called out to his people: “Denizens of Kūjsmēstan, we send fire into the sky to signal our righteous adherence to the Forge-Warmth’s knowledge and purpose! Though the flames of a forge may quash and destroy, they also are the softeners of hardened will and temper brittle steel. They are what bring us together among the scattered folk of this world! I thus proclaim our unity and intent, brothers and sisters, and hereby strike a hammer’s spark!”
The old man slammed the bottom of his staff into the ground, and a bolt of lightning came crashing down from the sky. It struck the idol with a magnificent force, and utterly shattered its form. The fires borne from the ritual caught the pieces of wood in a magical net, and grew ever larger. Indiscriminate howls of villagers amid the flames could be heard, and rapid singing replaced the solemn chanting. Such was the ceremony that this walled village took part in.
Who they are: The Romuva-Suomenusko Alliance, also known as the RSA or, archaically, the Waīdilawīngjan Swentāinan (lit. “Magical Sanctuary”).
What they are:
A conglomeration of shamans, sorcerer-exorcists, and other sorts of magic-folk who live in conditions not dissimilar to Late-Iron-Age Europe. Their members work to prevent folk traditions from up and disappearing due to the dangerous nature of the forests where such traditions used to exist.
Where they are:
The RSA originally had several outposts in the mountains, forests, and steppe of Northeastern and Eastern Europe. However, their permanent settlements have been reduced to four large walled enclaves in Latvia, (Rāmawa) Ukraine, (Laūks Russas) Finland, (Kūjsmēstan) the Tatra Mountains, (Izprettewiskangarbs) and a shared trading city in Northern Germany (Arkona). Their members often conduct forays into both Yellow and the more dangerous Red Zones in order to look for food, trade, and to better themselves through exposure to the world, so they are not necessarily constrained to their villages at all times.
About the Romuva-Suomenusko Alliance:
The RSA’s origins are very difficult to set in stone, but it is likely that they originated out of the Organization of Great Baltic Wizards sometime before the Migration Era. Back in those days, the wizards formed their ties with mutual worship of a godly pantheon, as well as an adherence to a doctrine of worldly virtue and balance. However, the Alliance as one would know them today was formed in the early 16th century at the behest of the Celestial Bureaucracy in order to preserve dying folk traditions in Northeastern Europe. Nowadays, the worship of the dieva Garmē Āutrās is common to most members of the enclaves that the RSA oversees.
Shortly after the close of the 16th century, the RSA had amassed a massive amount of wealth and members due to the acquisition of the Eastern Hemisphere’s amber trade. Nonetheless, the progress of human society made it such that the Alliance had little reason to continue as an organized entity, and split up for an indefinite amount of time. When the heavenly storm arrived, this split was detrimental to the survival of their members, and several were scattered throughout Europe and Asia. The ones who were able to conglomerate together formed an agreement that they would continue the original purpose of the Organization of Great Baltic Wizards, and build their own settlements based on the faculties of their ancestors. Their amassed power, experience with the natural world, and personal connections with Dievai gave them a much better chance of surviving and continuing with their lives after the successive storms than several of the city-dwellers in Eastern Europe.
Each walled enclave has a Chieftain that imposes their own specific jurisdiction only within the confines of their settlements. The only law common to all four (five, if you count the stand-in Chieftain for the dieva Garmē Āutrās) Chieftains is their original doctrine of harmony, since they need to be able to enact decrees that ensure the survival of their settlements.
There are a few hundred people in each walled enclave, and not every individual is a practitioner of magic. Some are tradesmen and farmers, and work to feed and sustain themselves and their neighbors. At the same time, you will also find no dearth of scholars and ascetics behind the wood and stone walls of the Alliance, and there is a vigorous effort to maintain their mystical tradition. In general, the communities are thriving in a sense that they live very well off the land. If there is any general goal in mind for the members, Chieftains, and patron god of the RSA, it is to better the world again by searching for something that could provide prosperity without excess, as well as generally promoting the cross-cultural idea of celestial and worldly harmony. They thus take any opportunity they can to help stragglers of the storm and accept new members into their society, as long as said people can give something back to the world.
How they look:
If one were to stumble upon one of the RSA’s large villages, they would be hard-pressed to find someone who wears modern clothing. Though there is no such thing as a “uniform” in the Alliance’s milieu, its populace wears an abundance of traditional tunics, robes, cloaks, and colorful garments that are typical of an Early Medieval Northeastern European society. This notion is, of course, due to the Alliance’s great age, and the fact that they mostly live off the land. Some prefer to wear a combination of red and white, which is extremely traditional to Slavic and Finnic areas, though a whole slew of colors can be found on RSA clothing.
While the garb of Rāmawa and Kūjsmēstan generally are fairly similar to one another, the members of Laūks Russas and Izprettewiskangarbs are often different from each other and the other villages due to the climates that they reside in. Laūks Russas residents prefer clothing that is productive to riding horses, and is thus generally baggy, while Izprettewiskangarbs is significantly colder due to the climate of the High Tatras, and the villagers usually wear heavy cloaks that cover their entire bodies.
If there is any single thing that distinguishes the RSA, it is a symbol that its Chieftains and elders wear somewhere on their clothing – it is a red, branching symbol that represents the son of the creator of metals. A number of magical creatures also reside in their walled enclaves, though some are human-like in appearance and wear similar clothing to the rest of the villagers.
How they fight:
The RSA is no slouch when it comes to combat, since their members are often employed to travel through vast swathes of land in order to acquire resources. They hunt great beings such as mammoths and dragons in the northern forests, and go to great lengths to guard their populace from outside threats.
Firearms are rare to come by in the ranks of the RSA, with most of its members using spears, axes, long knives, or swords. Blessed metal can sometimes be found in the coffers of these villages, and makes for fine weapons that can hold their own against magical creatures. However, in the village of Laūks Russas, there exists a measured amount of magitech-assisted firearms which are in use or currently in development. Some of this magitech is said to recall the powers of their patron god in nature. These weapons are still used alongside more traditional melee weapons and armor in that village.
Generally, they have a policy of escalation when it comes to addressing a threat. If a threat can be dealt with via the collaboration of its routine members, then they will send them to take care of said threat. This scenario is usually what happens when the RSA is faced with danger, since the Chieftains and Elders often stay behind to run their societies. A group of RSA members is more often than not sufficient to deal with the mundane threats that their societies face.
However, that is not to say that the Chieftains and Elders never go into combat – when they need to, they are more than capable of demonstrating their prowess. Some of these individuals are capable of effortlessly controlling ruinous magic that invokes and recalls gods, levels environments, and inspires awe. Should they be roused into action, they would prove to be dangerous adversaries to anyone they face.
The Romuva-Suomenusko Alliance’s Public Standing:
Since the RSA serves to protect the remnants of old traditions from extinction, they make it a point to behave cordially with whoever they meet. They do not prioritize the survival of a certain culture over another, and are open to preserving the culture of any group. Therefore, to several groups that acknowledge their presence, they are at the very least a positive force.
Nevertheless, the RSA does conduct a measured amount of work in secret, and they do not reveal all of their greater plans to the foreign parties that they meet. Some magical creatures (Hiidet and Byesy) do not appreciate the Alliance’s goals of preserving old culture and protecting humans from their advances, and there is thus some stigma among non-humans – rightly so, since there was aggression between them and what was originally the Organization of Great Baltic Wizards deep in the past.
More factions coming soon!
"Never forget your past, but don't let it hurt your future" - I like to say that I said it, but I'm honestly unsure.