The Wayfaring Seekers (commonly called just "Wayfarers" or "Seekers") are a sub-species of Human that are known for their nomadic ways and the belief that the strength of magic can be returned once an ancient Artifact is unearthed and activated. Seekers are typically dressed in clothes made for traveling, and are often marked by patches or ruffles, and typically layered for warmth and ease of travel. They are most known by the compass rose tattoo they have to symbolize their beliefs, kept visible at all times in pride and remembrance of the founder, Matt Starling. Wayfarers are easy-going and good-natured towards most other species, preferring to make merry wherever they go rather than make enemies.
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The Wayfaring Seekers have been around for a little over sixty years, but their free style of living and wanderlust has been infectious throughout the lands of the Republics. The movement was founded by Matt Starling, a charismatic young occultist who was sick of everyone accepting the decline of the magical arts. Born Peter-Loras Vodelair to a wealthy Occitane family, Matt forsook both his inheritance and his former name on the evening of his eighteenth name day to make his own way in the world. He held to the belief that the decline of magic could be restored through the use of an artifact known as “The Keystone” that was rumored to have existed in ancient Sha’uru. As he wandered the world, he inspired others to join him in his quest, and over the course of twenty years his views had caught on throughout the Republic to the point that many politicians began branding Seekers as vagabonds that sought to corrupt the minds of impressionable youths.
In the summer of 1824, a group of constables attempted to bar Starling and his followers from entering into Brighton. The summer had been particularly hot, and the band had camped along the Agrinion River just outside the city while a few of them attempted to enter the Brighton seeking supplies. A combination of the head and political upheaval riled up by the aristocracy against the wayfarers had stirred the people to the point that the authorities feared what would happen should Starling and his people enter Brighton. This angered some of Starling’s band and things turned violent. Starling himself attempted to calm everyone down, but an unknown assailant threw a rock at his head, triggering a full scale riot. Starling knew that eventually the city folk would come for the rest of his people, so he attempted to make his way to the camp to warn the rest, but was shot near the banks of the Agrinion River before he could reach the camp.
The death of Matt Starling and ensuing riots unified the Wayfaring Seekers in a sobering way. They realized that if their movement was to survive, they needed to have friends and allies and foster a message of peace and friendship. The Seekers began to develop trade routes and connecting caravans as a way to both foster allies and set a network of informants across Sha’uru, should any news of The Keystone arise. In honor of Starling’s death, the practice of tattooing themselves with a compass rose became universal amongst the Wayfaring Seekers. Forty four years after the death of Matt Starling, the Wayfarer’s numbers have grown considerably, and they can be found traveling throughout world.
Government and Politics
Seekers call their families "clans," and typically their view of society first revolves around their family then the society of wherever they are currently residing. The best way to describe the structure of their clans is a sort of benevolent monarchy/matriarchy, as the role is inherited by age and the death of the previous Elder.
Seekers rely heavily on barter and profit off their talents, as they do not stay anywhere long enough to find employment at nearby establishments. It's not uncommon for Seekers to advertise as traveling physicians, repairers, psychics, or alchemists.
Most Wayfarers will always purchase travel by Airship rather than travel by sea in cases where they are traveling lands and areas they have already explored or have report of being explored by other Seekers. They do not put much value in fancy dress clothes, always preferring to wear comfortable garments and patching what they have as opposed to buying new, for well worn clothes speak of far travel on their own. They also tend to dress in many layers, both to stay warm and keep from getting bogged down with lots of luggage.
Seekers are typically extremely migratory and travel anywhere that they are allowed. This includes all human, Nisse and Dur lands and most Goblin lands. Wayfaring Seekers do not typically own land and unlike the Tribes of Barlethan, the Confederation of Allied Republics does not recognize the Wayfaring Seekers as an autonomous people (thus they have no representation in Parliament).
Seekers have a keen interest in the Afsla Nisse magic institutions as well as their laboratories that study the decay of magic. Seekers, due to their vested interest in the state of magic, also tend to keep tabs as to the workings of the Collegia Hermetica. The hermetic magi however, tend to see the Seekers as upstarts and trouble makers, and have not accepted any of their numbers within their ranks. They are, however, quite keen on using the Seekers as brokers and go-betweens with organizations that are less friendly to the Collegia Hermetica. There is no concrete evidence that a Wayfarer has gotten anywhere near a Goblin alchemy lab, but there are rumors and stories abound of the experiments that occur inside and the advanced instruments and steam tech Goblins use that they keep away from prying eyes to reduce competition. Getting close to this information has gotten more than one unwary Seeker into deep trouble with the Goblins.
Culture & Traditions
The Eldest is/are the one(s) in charge of individual clans of Seekers. It doesn't matter who is Eldest; be they male, female, both or neither. Should two members be the same age, they are expected to work together on behalf of their clan and compromise where necessary. When two clans come together, Eldest from each are also expected to work together and be amicable. To their credit, it is very rare that two clans will not get along—they have the same goals in life and are a very jovial species by nature.
Because Elders are expected to someday be in charge of a clan, all Seekers regardless of gender, birth order, job, etc are expected to know of the Artifact and what has been done to try and find it, as well as be aware of the happenings of the world to ensure they do not accidentally cause issues with other species or countries as they pursue the Artifact. All Seekers are encouraged to learn to read and write in as many languages as they can, to make any written evidence of the Artifact easier to understand. Seekers are also taught mathematics, as their main source of income is trade and barter. Seeker children are naturally gifted with Nature Sciences as well, since knowing basic medicine, botany and veterinary science can be crucial to survival on long journeys.
When an Elder passes on, the next oldest then takes their place. Typically, a brief celebration honoring both the life of the deceased and the ascension of the next Elder(s) takes places at sunrise and again at sunset the day after the death.
All humans celebrate Republic Day on July 13th (In 1802, the Silverthorn Empire was dissolved and the constitution signed to create the Confederacy of Allied Republics, of which the Wayfaring Seekers are not represented), though Seekers are the least likely to take part in any large celebrations of this day. This is partially because they keep their clans small and are often busy with travel, but also partially because they are still not represented in Parliament, despite near constant petitioning from several younger members of the Seekers for the past 15 years.
More fervently celebrated by the Seekers is the birth of Matt Starling, the founder of the Wayfaring Seekers belief and lifestyle. It is celebrated in many ways on August 17th every year. Chief among these celebrations is a gathering of many clans in a large field in Occitane, outside any strict city laws, where information, rumors of the Artifact, music, food and dancing are all shared. Any and all clans are welcome, though not all make it every year.
Wayfaring Seekers engage in a handfasting ceremony instead of a traditional wedding. Proposals typically involve the presenting of a colored ribbon (traditionally red, though some have broken away from this in favor of other colors or even ribbons with designs or multicolor) and tying it around the non-dominant wrist of all individuals involved if the individual(s) agree(s). There is no limit in Wayfaring customs as to how many individuals someone can be handfasted to. During the handfasting ceremony, the ribbon is removed and a thick, colored rope is placed around the hands of all involved. Once the ceremony is over, the rope is removed and those who were handfasted typically either continue wearing the colored ribbon or may instead cut the rope from the ceremony to use around the wrists.
There is no one driving value or moral this species puts above all others. The Wayfaring life is generally full of good moral values- kindness, sharing, and bringing joy where possible.
Allowing other species to become 'full' members of their clans is simply, not done. For a cosmopolitan and cheerful people, they do hold to one xenophobic tenant, that only those of the blood are true seekers. ‘The blood’ is any descendants of the clans that existed on the death day of Matt Starling. This does not mean that they will not accept the help of allies, but simply that they will not consider them true Seekers, and therefore true clanspeople.
It is uncertain what led Matt Starling to his belief in the Artifact. He spoke often of "a dream" or "his vision," but none can discern if this was meant in the literal sense; that while he slept knowledge of the Artifact was brought to him somehow or that he became entranced and saw the Artifact, or in a figurative sense; that finding the Artifact that was goal of his. As such, many stories have cropped up over the years postmortem. A commonly known story among the intelligent species of Sha'uru is that while he slept in his family's estate in Occitane, he found his dreamself walking down a dark corridor when suddenly fires erupted all around him. He was in a temple he did not recognize, gold walls lined with swords of varying types were on all sides of him. As he continued walking in this seemingly endless hallway, he came upon a tiny, tiny green dragon sleeping atop a red-hot anvil. The dragon awoke and spoke, her voice resonating so loudly it echoed in the endless hallway, saying simply "Find the Artifact. Restore the Balance" over and over until he awoke.
Some clans believe that Matt Starling was chosen from birth to restore magic to Sha'uru. Some, more religious clans, feel that he was forged by the combined efforts of Hep'a'nen, the One True God, and the manifestation of Sha'uru to restore magic.
There has never been confirmation on whether Matt Starling was shot on purpose and no one was tried or punished. It is believed by the vast majority that he was shot on purpose in hopes of dispelling the Seekers and their way of life but it only caused them to dig their heels in that their beliefs were true and right.
Most intelligent species find the Wayfarer beliefs to be ludicrous, though most of the species will not say this directly to a Seeker they are amicable toward. Often this belief is only hurled at a Seeker when brawling or arguing. Seekers tend to see the best in others and their good-nature means they will at least try to befriend everyone, even if they have their own internal biases.
Dur—The relationship between Wayfarers and Dur is agreeable. The Dur in general find their beliefs to be foolish, but do not dislike Wayfarers themselves. Ouranos and Wayfarers get along famously, but the Wayfarers don't quite get along as well with the other Dur sub-species. Vuono and Vrachos do find use in the vast knowledge and exotic baubles Wayfarers tend to bring with them from their travels, however.
Nisse—The Nisse and Seekers relationship varies widely depending on the sub-species. Wayfarers are rather fond of Afsla Nisse, envious of their vast knowledge of the arcane and their colleges. Likewise, the Afsla appreciate that the Wayfaring Seekers are taking the decline in magic so seriously. Privately, many Afsla wished the Wayfarers took a bit more of an academic approach to their methods. Vand Nisse and Wayfarers are commonly good friends, The Seekers often using Nisse boats and ships to travel by when exploring new lands or areas that an airship cannot tread. Many older Seekers take the time to learn simple sailing techniques from their Vand Nisse friends, both out of curiosity and in case of emergency. Wayfarers and Slagte Nisse do not often cross paths but when they do, Wayfarers find them to be a bit unnerving and intense. Slagte find them to be too whimsical and their quest foolish.
Goblinites—The relationship between Wayfarers and Goblinites is another that varies depending on the sub-species, with Seekers feeling an overall sense of pity toward the creatures. Halflings are enchanted by the Wayfaring Seekers, and often seek them out to try and join their clans. Inevitably, they will leave for some reason or other after several months or be left behind when entering Nisse lands. Kobolds are a bit haughty toward the Wayfarers, while Gnomes can be dour. Homunculi are generally treated well and respectfully. Seekers do not often go out of their way to purchase or obtain Homunculi, having no real needs for servants or slaves. Should one fall into their hands, however, they tend toward being very good and lax owners, treating Homunculi like family instead of like an employee.
Goblins—Wayfaring Seekers are, like most others, equal measures of curious and repulsed about the Alchemy labs in Goblin lands. Goblins themselves are considered intelligent, selfish and cunning, shrewd business people, and overall give many Seekers the sense of un-trustworthiness. Many Goblins appreciate the kroner that Wayfarers bring into their lands while on their quest for the Artifact but otherwise pay them little mind.
Wayfaring Seekers are taught not to hoard any information they have found, or think they have found, regarding the Artifact. Seekers are well-known for corresponding with nearby clans about what they know and much of the August 17 celebrations is sharing information and comparing notes.
Wayfaring Seekers have a tiny bit of a superiority complex, or paranoia—they do not want other species joining their cause. Some believe other species will not add anything useful to the search for the Artifact while others are afraid allowing too many "outsiders" into their clans may tear it apart from the inside. Others still may have their own, more convoluted reasons. Regardless of the reason, the outcome is that there have never been any other species of Wayfarers and those who try to pass as one (such as by getting a tattoo similar in style to theirs) are dealt with.
Most Wayfarers have come to Antioch in search of the Artifact. A small subset are also hoping to claim a small plot of land as theirs for the purposes of establishing representation in Parliament in hopes of furthering the goal of finding the Artifact by obtaining information they may have, unaware of its value.
The compass rose tattoo common amongst all Wayfarers is in remembrance of Matt Starling. There are no requirements on design or size, but it is on an ever-present part of the body as an emblem of their beliefs and a constant, daily reminder of their search. Most Seekers obtain their tattoo during the celebration of Matt Starling in August, though this is not required. The design and location can be different on every member of a clan, or some clans all have matching designs and locations as a symbol of their closeness. There is no ritual or coming of age to receive one, though one must be of sound mind and body.