Marque of the Hunters
Origins of the Corbanite Tradition
The Corbanite Accounts state that the Corbanite Order was founded by two young women named Kathe and Kytha – twin girls from the western city of Ganeam (which is known today as Crowhaven, the capital of the Corbanite faith). They became known as the Crow Sisters due to their unusual, bird-like masks which they wore as healers and herbalists while treating the sick and the malnourished in the impovershed community they lived in. They called themselves by the traditional title given to those who gathered and brewed herbs: hedge-witch. Over time, as their followers began to include people other than healers, this title was shortened to the modern traditional title: Witch.
Over time, their ministrations became a successful ministry, centered around a philosophy of unity with nature and the sanctity of the natural elements. Their fostering of a healthy, well-fed and plague-resistant population made Ganeam one of the jewels of its historical period. With students and people in power alike rushing to ally themselves with the "Corbanites", they soon held an unprecedented level of influence in Ganeam, and soon throughout much of Eastern Escaria as their missionaries struck out for foreign cities in hopes of spreading their knowledge.
The Practices of the Corbanite Witchcraft:
Calling the Corbanite tradition a religion would not be entirely accurate – unlike the Arshoki traditions of ancestor worship or the Nomadic traditions of Communion with the Spirits, the Corbanite 'faith' does not require supplication or prayer to a greater power. Rather, they are encouraged to meditate, reflect on their actions and their place in the natural order of the world, and to strive for balance.
The Five Elemental Tenets:
The five tenets were are the core ideals that all Corbanites are encouraged to reflect on in their daily meditations. Disagreement about the exact nature of these meditations has been a source of debate, disagreement and occasionally fracturing within the faith, and many individual sects and Covens disagree on what these koans are intended to exemplify.
Tenet of Air: Remember that all things are transient.
Tenet of Earth: Remember that you are a part of the world.
Tenet of Fire: Remember that you are an animal.
Tenet of Water: Remember that the Cycle is truth.
Tenet of the Void: Remember that there is value in life.
Witchcraft and the Arcane
While many nations have traditions of Arcane study, most of these Kabals held those secrets tightly and in great secrecy, hoarding that power for themselves. Only the Corbanites advanced those practices openly, setting up schools to teach and develop their techniques (first for the healing arts, and then for arcane study as a whole). As a result, their techniques quickly outstripped all but the strongest practitioners from other nations.
The Feminine Way
One of the most notable criticisms of Corbanite culture is the disparity in gender roles. Gender equity is strongly encouraged in all matter save one: magic. Since the earliest records to be found in the Corbanite Accounts, men have always been viewed as being less capable of responsibly wielding arcane power. They are most often viewed as being too aggressive, too prone to anger or pride to be trusted with a power that can cause great destruction when handled without restraint. Throughout the Accounts there are many records of men who showed talent for the arcane, but whose desire for greater power led them down a dark path against the Sisters' teachings. These examples are often brought out when criticisms are levied against the Orders about the minimal representation of men in their number.
The Corbanite Orders
In the years following the founding of the Corbanites, several factions emerged to unify Witches who had a particular area of interest within the larger practice of Witchcraft. These factions shifted, united and split for generations. This continued until the Great Invasion in 344 AE, when the King Hosh of Pilhelem, offended by the Covens' refusal to teach him arcane secrets, led one of history's only organized invasions against the city of Ganeam. After the end of the conflict, the Five Orders emerged to unify all witches.
The Order of the Blue Robes:
The order most closely connected to the origins of Corbanites, this sect concerns themselves primarily with scholarship, particularly in the healing arts. In the modern era, the advent of science has led to renewed division in this order, as various camps dispute the union of modern science with Witchcraft.
The Order of the Silver Book:
The Coven archivists, who scribe and contribute to the continuation of the Corbanite Accounts, the codified historical accounts that record every event of significance since the founding of the order. In modern times some members of this Order have also become journalists, intent on publishing Accounts as they happen rather than merely recording them for posterity.
The Order of the Crimson Eye
The "Red Eyes" are Crowhaven's Witch Army. They serve alongside the Warhawks, the heavily armoured bodyguards and defenders that make up the city's defense force. The Red Eyes are few in number, but most of them are extremely gifted in summoning the Primal Elements; one Red Eye is a match for most monsters smaller than a house.
The Order of the Emerald Leaf
The "Greens" devote themselves to unity and balance with nature. For many, this takes the form of service to their communities as farmers and vetranarians. Other seek a deeper connection with the natural world, and choose to leave the bigger cities to serve as wilderness scouts, courtier or caravan guides. A few even undertake service as Rangers, working with governments to keep dangerous monsters in check. Some suggest this vast difference in interests implies a lack of unity amongst he Order; those people have never attended a traditional Emerald Order potluck.
The Order of the Black Hat
Perhaps the oldest of the Orders, the Black Hats were the sisterhood who first joined together for the purpose of striking out into the wild to seek other communities and spread the Corbanite ways. They were the first to popularize the use of staves to carry supplies while levitating, and were the first to wear the now-traditional pointed hats (to honour the image of the Crow Sisters wearing their crow-like surgical masks on their heads). The mental image most people have of a Witch sitting astride a broomstick wearing a pointed hat is entirely due to the influence of the Black Hats on the history of western culture.
The Black Hats in the modern era continue to serve as the voyagers of their Covens. They are politicians and philosophers, educators and lawmakers. They seek a deeper understanding of the Tenets by sharing them with others, and by defending those ideals in the academic and aristocratic institutions where they serve.