by Max Barry

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42

Ari, Daughter of Oloughin, Caller on the Council

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Khadar esreu a esugh.
Esugh ere Khadar, it Khadar khauvu.



Ari, Daughter of Oloughin

LinkTheme.


The Terror from the North has
come to take her due.


Caller on the Council

Position Held:
1376 TG. - Present

Preceded by: Oloughin, Son of Kemoughin


Personal Details

Born:

Summer, 1358 (age 21)

Nationality:

Clan Khadusik

Ethnicity:

Ghesite

Spouse:

None

Issue:

None

Education:

Unconventional, Apprenticed

Religion:

Worship of the Sky-Mother



Overview

Ari, Daughter of Oloughin, formally Akhens-Ari (lit. "war-cry"), is the current Caller on the Council of the Nations of the Ghesites. She is regarded as an up-and-coming warlord amongst her people, having done her best in the past three years of her leadership to perform in a standard she finds equal to or better than her father, the Unifier, and his great reputation. She has attacked the role with ferocity, gaining many titles in her short reign, as evocative as Bringer of the Flensing Wind, She Who Feeds Entrails to Dogs, Scourge of Khevisarash, and She Whose Banner Guides the Thunderhead and as dull yet important as the aforementioned Caller on the Council. Her position as the Caller means she traditionally holds the ability to call for meetings of the Council at central locations, though in the present and ever since her father's unification the Council has been called upon nearly constantly, and is really more of a Congress than a Council, the maze of tents now a makeshift city surrounding its meeting place.

Ari has argued for increasing hostility to the Ghesites' neighbors in her time as Caller, arguing that they need to be dealt with before they swallow the nation whole. She has personally led only a single large raiding campaign, directed against the Khevisarash province of the Berghi Empire to the south, but in this time she gained a reputation as a fierce and nearly nearly rabid warrior and a tactically-minded leader, sacking three cities in the months she was away and gaining the title Bringer of the Flensing Wind for the death she left in her wake. Despite this, the pace of hostilities against the Ghesite's neighbors under her rule is actually less than it was under her father, thanks to her relative lack of political capital with the Council. Nonetheless, her people regard her as the wielder of the Ghesite aegis and protector of the realm, and respect her as such.

Personally, she is a devout worshipper of the Sky-Mother, having observed all of the ritual traditions her faith requires from childhood to the present. She is firmly convinced of the Mother's divine nature, of the fact that the Ghesites by lifestyle are Her chosen people, and that as a result they have an obligation to remain loyal to Her in faith and in mode of living.

Ari is a deeply introverted person, refusing to invest much of herself in others outside of her direct friend-group, a trait stemming largely from her upbringing in Oloughin's shadow. She feels that letting the Council and her followers see any aspect of herself diverges from her perceived role as Oloughin's successor and thus tarnishes his reputation, which she sees herself as directly continuing. Nonetheless, in recent times she has begun to rethink this perspective, and is beginning to see herself as herself, and not as her father. However, this lesson will not likely be further learned without greater spilling of blood, which her past has shown is Ari's favorite means of self-actualization. (Back to top)


Early History

Twenty-one years ago, Ari was born to Oloughin son of Kemoughin and Meghuri daughter of Pardughin. As was tradition, she was anointed in a bath of goat's milk by her band's priests at one week old, and was given to her mother to raise until the age of five. During this time, she spent little time with her father, who was beginning his work unifying the great Nations under his banner. However, she nonetheless looked up to him, as her mother told her of her father's great works and deeds, and she was in awe of them. On her fifth birthday, the priests gave her father permission to join her mother in her raising, and he brought the young Ari with him to the Place of the Council, where he presented her to them as his eventual heir. Though there was no proscription against a woman being made heir of a man, the Council voiced their sentiment that the strongest figure possible should take the role of successor to the Unifier, a man whose deeds and fame were already legendary. The Council also felt that, should Ari birth her own heir, she would be required by tradition to rear the child alone for years, a time that would render her unable to effectively lead the Kiu. Oloughin firmly spoke to them that he meant for his first child to succeed him, as he could not be sure he would not be cut down in battle before he could sire another, more suitable heir. Besides, he argued, to hold tight one's inheritance until a more suitable heir presented themself was the way of foreigners, not of Ghesites. Nonetheless, the Council remained resolute, and left the issue of Oloughin's succession unresolved throughout their meeting.

Unfortunately, the Unifier's worries would nearly come to pass. While Oloughin was not killed in battle, a year later his testes were destroyed by a blow from a hammer during a raid, and he was forced to withdraw from his campaign in shame. As soon as winter passed and the next year dawned, though, he made eunuchs of a hundred Berghi warriors in revenge for his humiliation. Nonetheless, the conqueror could have no more heirs after this, and so the Council begrudgingly agreed that the child in front of them would have to be Oloughin's designated heir, and she was once again anointed in goat's milk as such.

Ari, now seven, began to learn the art of riding, as well as the traditions and workings of the Council, and was gifted with a hunting knife that to her small hands was surely a great blade. Even at a young age she was being groomed as Oloughin's successor, as the requirement placed on her to successfully manage his now-vast holdings- six nations and all their constituent bands, trading cities to the north and south, and great stores of weapons and wealth- was a massive one. It is possible that here was when she first began to doubt that she could ever live up to his reputation, though then again her life was dictated to her from the time she could walk, and it is likely she always felt some intimidation in Oloughin's presence. This intimidation, thusly internalized, was expressed as a rampant desire to impress and please her father, who was noted as describing his immense pride in her as he grew older and his health worsened.

The next six years would pass with little of note, as Ari met the expectations placed upon her and fulfilled her ritual steps towards adulthood at an adequate if slightly accelerated pace. However, when she was thirteen Oloughin took ill with a cough which he spent weeks fighting off. Even after he was healed, though, it was plain that he was marked by it: His skin had taken on a more pallid tone, he was weakened, and his stamina had deteriorated. When he returned to the Council the next month for the summer meet he spoke to them about holding off the raid that year, or perhaps delegating its command to another. And so he gave up the title of warlord, weakened as he was to the point he was afraid to fight. Many decried the Unifier as a coward, but every call for him to again take up the blade he refused. Instead, he took his daughter on as his own apprentice, imparting to her all he could. From her thirteenth to her fifteenth year, she enjoyed the best his tutelage could offer. Even after her confirmation as a full member of her band on her fifteenth birthday she followed her father's lead for two more years, taking the role of intermediary between Oloughin and his Council. However, he would not live forever, and in the winter of her seventeenth year he once again took ill. The labors of the priests failed to call health back to Oloughin's stricken body, and after five months of agonizing coughing and lungs rattling with each breath he perished. Ari voiced a desire to take his body and burn it in a secret place, but the Clans themselves would not have it, and the Council chose to build his pyre in the meeting-place and scatter his ashes there at the heart of the nation he had built. (Back to top)


Ari as Oloughin's Successor

So, as Ari's eighteenth year dawned, she found herself placed in a role of leadership, not over a band or even one of the Nations as she might have but over the united Kiu Ghesik. It was a task that even after all her preparation she found she was not wholly prepared for in its enormity. The Nations were all creatures of habit that had to be prodded from inaction, and all of them had their own competing needs and wants that would see them return to stubborn immobility if unfilfilled. And there was the matter of the Berghi to the south and the states to the north, all of which saw the united Ghesites as a threat that had in the past two decades been an increasing nuisance to their own lands. And now that word of the Unifier's death was making its way out from the basin and to the trade routes of other nations, wherein it would eventually find root in the ears of foreign rulers, Ari had to act quickly to stabilize her position.

The easiest way to do that was to prove she would keep the Council a profitable arrangement for the elders. But to accomplish that task, she had to get them to listen to her in the first place. They already regarded her as Oloughin's excuse of a successor. Gaining their allegiance would require slightly more tact than anything she was used to. So, when she called on the Council and spoke to them of the riches of conquest that could be theirs if they pledged themselves and their warriors to her, all but the speakers for Nation Khadusik, her own, refused. Or at least they would have, until word came by rider that the Lord-Berghi, wise as he was to Oloughin's death and the opportunity it posed, had mustered a force of a thousand warriors to strike at the Kiu. The Council came around swiftly after that. Now, this circumstance presented a unique opportunity: The chance to impress the Council, to give unto them spoils of war that would cement their support for years to come, had been given to her freely. It was a shame, then, that when the battle had closed and she had triumphed- not unexpected, given the size of the force given to her- the scattering of the ashes of the dead Ghesites was a task that took weeks to accomplish, and for every three Berghi placed on the corpse-heaps, a Ghesite body was sent to its place in the sky, and it was known that she had failed to demonstrate either the prowess or the charisma that Oloughin would have. She returned to her band with her head low and her already shaky pride battered. She was not making much of a reputation for herself besides one of mediocrity.

Yet her resolve was hardened by this failure, and her anger was stoked to a blaze against the Berghi, who she had come to despise in the lull between raids for their role in both her father's death and for how very near their incursion and near-triumph over her had come to being the death of Oloughin's Kiu. And so Ari led her first raid against the Berghi in retaliation for the attack the next summer as soon as a host could be mustered to her, pillaging three of the Empire's northernmost cities and gathering great wealth from the sacks in the process. She fought with a ferocity few expected from her, leading from the fore and striking down no fewer than twenty men. The men she commanded were said to fight with such ferocity that the Flensing Wind itself was called by their very passing, and Ari herself was its bringer. This campaign, culminating in the complete and arguably punitive razing of the city of Khevisarash, seat of one of the Empire's most northernmost provinces, served to solidify her as a figure worthy of fear and of awe in her people's eyes. Finally she was held as a worthy successor to her father. But there is reaction for every action, and the sword has yet to fall for her attacks on the Berghi. The Lord Berghi, commandant of the Thousand Hosts, has been angered. Her life and her people's lives rest on a knife's edge, and any misstep to either side can even now see the Kiu fall and her people scattered to the ends of the earth. All that remains now for her to succeed is for her performance to be no less than perfect. (Back to top)


Role on the Council

Ari's position in the Council of Nations is the Caller on the Council. This means that it is she who calls the elders and leaders of the various "official" ethnic subgroups of the Ghesites, or the Nations, to gather together at a predetermined meeting-place and discuss the issues before them. It is also the Caller who presents these issues, and as such it is the Caller who determines the focus of the Council. In recent years (i.e, in the twenty years since Oloughin's rise to power) the Council has been nearly constantly in session, which has set a precedent that Ari as Caller is to essentially administer the Council and take up a role as its head. The Caller, while officially not a voting member of the Council, is able to voice their opinions on topics and, due to the respect associated with the position of Caller, influence other voting members of the Council in their favor.

Once again thanks to Oloughin's time as Caller and the precedents he set, Ari is empowered to raise much larger armies at a much swifter rate than in the past, thanks to the fact that the Caller can demand all of the Nations support him or her in a military endeavor. Additionally, the sort of Caller the average individual thinks of is an immensely powerful figure that commands respect, so Ari holds a massive amount of de facto influence over the people of the Nations themselves, and could in theory launch a war without even asking for the Council's approval. However, as the Caller is technically the weakest member of the Council and all the Elders hold higher positions and greater influence within their own nations, to do so would be inviting a knife to find its way into her back.

While the Caller on the Council is technically a position appointed by the Council themselves, in practice the Caller holds enough influence to have their chosen heir confirmed by the elders of the Council. The Council treats this as a hereditary position, assuming that the Caller will have spent the most time grooming their own heir for the position. Ari has no heir, having not taken any husbands, and will likely not do so for another few years, if at all, thanks to confusion about whether the child would in fact be her heir thanks to the traditional mode of succession among the Ghesites, and thanks to her apparent prudishness and discomfort regarding courtship. (Back to top)


Policies

While Ari as Caller has passed no concrete legislation, the issues she has brought before the Council nonetheless reflect a few concrete trends that can be described as her "policies". These are her solidification of her position on the Council, the entrenching of power behind the position of Caller, and her advocating for increased authority in the prosecution of raids against foreign powers, particularly the Berghi.

Of these policies, only one really defies the status quo in any way: the gathering of power to herself. A hundred years ago, the Caller would be no more entitled to their position than anyone else. Indeed, the Caller's spot in the Meeting Tent would find itself filled by a revolving door of distinguished petitioners and leaders from the bands and clans of the six Nations bringing their local issues to the Meeting Place, hoping to find a place on the agenda. It is only since Oloughin's rise that the position of Caller has gained the power to raise armies, and it is only thanks to Oloughin's will that the position of Caller has become more or less hereditary. As such, it has been Ari's first priority to ensure that she herself is not deposed from the seat of Caller, as she most certainly lacks Oloughin's charisma and ability to convince the Council to tolerate his advances.

The matter of her raiding is perhaps the least controversial, in a strange sense. While sedentary nations might find war a matter of great ceremony, for the Ghesites it is only the aggression of others that triggers such a response. The act of raiding is a strange combination of trading expedition and violent armed conflict, the Ghesite hordes travelling from city to city and village to village with beasts of burden in tow to carry off goods, what items of wealth they could bring with them to incentivize an exchange, and weapons of war to enforce their demands. In normal times, the demand placed on sedentary states to fulfill the Ghesite's demands has been something easily accomplished. However, as Oloughin and now Ari have stepped up the tempo of armed conflict with their neighbors in order to woo the Council with extravagant displays of wealth, tensions have been on the rise.

Otherwise, Ari's reign has been business as usual for the people of the Kiu. (Back to top)


Beliefs

Ari's morality is quintessentially Ghesite- that is, friendship and undying loyalty are synonymous, generosity is a virtue over avarice, the products of a person's labor are their own, to be given as they see fit, and that strength of mind and body that contribute to the success of one's band are the measures of a person.

She is not squeamish regarding death, and has little qualms over killing in battle, as evidenced by her extensive record of doing just that, but would be loathe to betray an ally unless some treachery on their part was revealed. Notably, Ari and indeed a majority of Ghesite warriors would gladly let her blood be spilled by an opponent she felt did so fairly, as if she is unable to best them, she deserves to be punished for it.

Ari holds what even her own people might describe as an extreme perspective on foreigners, particularly the Berghi Empire. She blames that nation for her father's premature death, based solely on the fact that he suffered his injury shortly before his initial illness, and as a result has constructed for herself a worldview hostile to foreign, settled cultures to justify this hatred. This worldview argues that the most existential threat to the Ghesites is not simply foreign arms but foreign ideals. The Ghesite ideology is centered around one aiding the greater good of their band through expertise in a few select skills. Ari perceives that in settled cultures there is no real demand for these skills to be related to survival. One can in, say, the court of the Lord-Berghi, be a musician working the lyre and make a living. Nor does one need to have any special connection with a large group of people as they would in a band; direct family can suffice. This abandonment of what Ari views as proper society- the society that birthed her father, the man that still dominates her mind- is a mortal misstep in her sight.

It should be telling, though, that though she uses this argument to justify her hostility towards the Berghi, she does not do the same for the northern trading-cultures that regularly interact with her people, and the Alechi, who are most definitively a settled people living primarily in fishing-villages and river cities. Nor does she do the same in her dealings with other foreign cultures who do not show hostility towards her nation. While she still views settled life as an abandonment of right morals, as all her people do, she does not judge those friendly with her nation as anything but wayward.

In summation, there are five points that make up her philosophy: The ability to succeed in one's given task is vitally important, one should be generous with the rewards of their success, all things should be done in moderation, the Ghesite way of life is the proper way, and one's friends are not to be dismissed out of hand, as they have proved their own loyalty, and to ignore that loyalty is vile. (Back to top)


Personality

Ari's outward personality is best described as "measured"- in public, her speech is often incredibly formal, stunted, and laden with platitudes, crafted to create the impression that she speaks for the people rather than for herself. She is the Caller, after all, and her role is one not meant to be affected by the personal opinions and biases of the title's holder. She tends to present herself in a way matching her recollections of Oloughin as well, imitating his patterns of speech and his perceived profundity and charisma. Despite her attempts to display this persona publicly, it only serves her well when in dealings with the Council, where such formality is appreciated. Due to the decentralized nature of Ghesite society, she is almost always within the company of friends, where she is far more comfortable with adopting a less formal character.

In informal settings, she tends to adopt a sardonic, relaxed tone, and though she has been noted to act in a rather aloof manner, she nonetheless remains an approachable if moderately abrasive figure. As previously stated, though, she remains hesitant adopting such an informal style around all but a few people, the ranks of which are largely limited to the fifty or so individuals that constitute the band she was raised in. She remains particularly aloof among the Council members, as she largely regards them as idiots at best, even if this assessment may not be true, and still has a lingering animosity towards them from their denial of her request to burn her father on a private pyre rather than at the Meeting-Place.

Ari is a driven individual, who feels a need to succeed at every task she comes across, a trait she developed during her apprenticeship under Oloughin. His preferred means of teaching her was to, well, not provide her with any sort of learning curve- rather a learning cliff. Frequently he would set her at tasks with little prior instruction, or ask her to do exceedingly difficult trials, in order to teach her both perseverance and the means to overcome adversity. This had two effects. Firstly, she became solely convinced that very few tasks were actually impossible, and that if she set her mind to something she could eventually accomplish it. Secondly, and unintentionally, it gave her a crippling self-doubt. She would frequently fail at these tasks, after all, in fact more often than not, and while she learned to assail challenges placed before her, Oloughin's method of teaching and the many failures it led to made her feel inadequate and unsuccessful when it came to her apprenticeship. Thus, she internalized that any failing on her part was wholly her responsibility and wholly something that could be rectified solely through her own effort, even if said failure was not a result of her own inadequacies. Needless to say, this has not done good things for her health- she prefers to work until she is on the verge of collapse than to leave a task unfinished, and to expect failure before success. In summation, she is incredibly and unhealthily persistent when it comes to her duties both official and personal. (Back to top)


Trivia

Holy darn-diddly-dang-heck (you're welcome, Daddy Max!), Ari actually has canon trivia? It's more likely than you'd think. This stuff doesn't really go anywhere else on the page, so here it is.

  • Ari has a scar on her lower left jaw from where her head was forcibly shoved onto the rim of a metal-shorn shield. It's the only scar she has - on her face.

  • Ari has 15 knives, discounting the throwing knives. One of these, her favorite flensing knife, is named Ashbreather, thanks to Western Fardelshufflestein's generous contribution to this nation's lore in an F7 thread.

  • Ari has three horses, a warhorse, a riding horse, and a Berghi cavalry horse she captured a year ago and has kept as a trophy ever since.

  • Ari has a scar on the left side of her stomach from when she fell off a bucking horse at age ten and landed on a sharp rock.

  • Ari has a bunch more scars, it'd just be weird to mention them here.

  • One of Ari's most prized possessions is a densely-woven blanket made from sheep's wool taken during her last raid. She tends to sleep with it on cold nights.

  • Contrary to popular belief, Ari's only moderately wealthy by Ghesite standards and impoverished by any other, as the Council's bled her dry over the years with what they've demanded in exchange for supporting her.

  • To be expanded at my discretion. If you write something cool enough, I might include it, who knows?

So, as per ye boi Pat's page, the same rule applies here, this bit is dumb jokes I thought up about this chick and her shank sticks that are as far from canon as my basement is from the warm touch of the sun.

  • Ari is buffer than you.

  • Probably has more knives than you too.

  • Like, a lot of knives.

  • Ari is all your internalized self-confidence issues rolled into a single sharp package.

  • I've only made it four times but I think the knife joke is old now.

  • No it's not!

  • Ari has more horses than you.

  • She doesn't understand that that doesn't mean she's wealthier than you.

  • Ari's life is not styled after Oloughin but rather a mythical figure called "Ram-bo", whom she aspires to one day have as many knives as.

  • Ari possesses the title "The Great Reappropriatrix". We don't know how she got it, or decided that "Reappropriate" could be turned into a noun, but she did (*cough cough Tarvelia*)

  • Ari purchased John Ross of Socialist Macronesia fame's debut album with a cow as payment because he included an hour-long recording of Ari raiding a Berghi settlement on it.

  • May or may not just be, er, fascinated with Ross in general. It's a whole thing.

  • Yeah, no, they're a thing now. Unfortunately.

  • Ross promised Ari a date and then slept with a secretary from Sanghyeok before he actually followed up on the offer. This, along with many other things, has led Ari to adopt the oft-repeated refrain, "goddammit, Ross."

  • 2+2=5 not because the Party says so but because Ari says so.

  • War really is peace for Ari because the voices in her head shut up when she's killing.

  • Ari thinks that she's the smartest person in the world because she knows the number zero exists.

  • She thinks that means she gets to boss people around.

  • And you should really listen to her.

  • Because she's watching you.

  • LinkAnd she's got a knife.

(Back to top)


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