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The Shorn Skulls

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Image:Scroll2.png "Before the Goddess-Queen rose and conquered, these jungles were haunted by my kin. We slew our enemies and took their skin and bones for our garments. Much has changed since those days lost to time... but much is the same. Now, in present days, those who see Children of Myri with Cloaks of Fallen on their shoulders know our clan and quality..."
- Yurta, War Mistress of the Shorn Skulls, claimed in battle 508 AV



Named for their custom of scalping and skinning their enemies after battle, the Shorn Skulls have lived in the jungles three days west of Taloba for unknown centuries. At the least, they were known to have been waiting when the army Myri the Merciless, then a visionary warlord, came upon their lands. Her generals expected that the clan of brutal repute would fight until extinction, but their Elders pledged themselves to Myri without one death or skirmish. Respecters of martial courage beyond most other virtues, they saw in Myri the one being in Falyndar who could take their people to greatness.

Since then, the Shorn Skulls have been providing warriors for the Taloba Army and protecting their lands in Myri's name. They are not known for being great thinkers, philosophers or craftsmen, and will usually admit that without a qualm. Their lineage has always been that of warriors, killers and reavers, and that is what they train to be. They are taught from birth to be consummate hunters and trackers, considering it both a duty to provide for their clan and a good basis for warrior training with the Taloba Army.

They number approximately two hundred Myrians in total, favoring large families (Yurta, mentioned above, was one of five children, and this was considered a small family). Though ancestrally mistrusting and suspicious of outsiders, they have become more open to other clans and frequently marry outside of their clan. The Elders often say that marrying and breeding too much "deforms the blood", and they would not profane Myri by warping that which she gave them.


Killing in Myri's name is the duty and honor for all Myrians, but the Shorn Skulls have elevated trophy-taking to something of an artform. Cutting the dripping scalps of their fallen rivals from their skulls is as natural to them as cleaning their weapons after the fact. They dry the scalps and sew them onto clothing, sometimes even their bare skin. More common is the "Cloak of Fallen", which every elder warrior seems to possess, comprised of a garment made entirely of scalps sewn together.

The skin of the dead is almost equally prized by them, and when possible, they will flay the flesh from corpses and use them as others would use wool or cloth to make clothing. After many centuries, it is rumored that the Elders of the Shorn Skulls can slice the skin from a human from toes to scalp, without marring an inch of flesh.

"The Power of Bones" is also a known art among the clan, though it is less-trusted and far more arcane. Known to the rest of the world as Malediction, it is the art of binding the djed of slain enemies to their bones, crafting said bones into weapons, jewelry or even furnishings. There has always been at least one "Witch of the Wilds" overseeing this dark craft, a female or (very rarely) a male with the gift, will and instability to conjure this power. They are responsible for transforming the fresh and dripping bones bought to her by warriors into trophies that not only proclaim a victory earned, but also the power of an enemy bound to their will.

Clan Lands

The clan lands of the Shorn Skulls extend from the eastern shores of the Kanduktu Basin to roughly a day and a night's trek through the jungle. They are roughly circular in shape, and heavily-patrolled. Alive with game of all kinds, the Shorn Skulls still often rely on fishing, especially during the monsoon season when a large portion of their lands are flooded to the point they become minor swamps.

Myrians passing through the clan lands are, of course, untouched. All they need to is proclaim who they are and where they are doing, and most likely as not the Shorn Skulls patrol they encounter will point them on their way or even offer them to come to their village for food and rest.

Any other races are rarely, if ever, tolerated. Regarded as somewhat "backward" by the more "civilized" clans of Taloba, the Shorn Skulls view barbarian intruders as blights to be destroyed at worst and, at best, worthy opponents to be slain. Foreign travelers in Taloba seeking to journey west are often advised against doing so by the Taloba administration, unless they are accompanied by Myrians or bear symbols and scrolls of authority from the Council.

Clan Standing

Like all other Myrian clans, the top of the Shorn Skulls' hierarchy is occupied by the Matriarch. The eldest of all the females in the clan, her word is undisputed and her wisdom is vast. To have survived long enough to be matriarch is often seen as proof enough that the female in question is both shrewd, strong and cunning; all fine qualities for a leader.

Below her are the Honored Elders, basically the oldest members of the dozen or so family branches that make up the Shorn Skulls. The Matriarch is, in theory, unquestioned, but most important clan decisions are debated by this loose council. All Elders are expected to put aside individual loyalties and grudges for the benefit of the entire clan, mirroring the "strength through unity" that Myri championed to bring her people together.

The most talented and able warrior of the Shorn Skulls is usually named as "War Mistress", and leads their "War Party". Every Shorn Skull serves in the Taloba Army, but those clan members that decide to return to protect and serve their clan rather than take a twenty- or thirty-year term in the army usually end up in this "standing army" of sorts. Numbering around fifty proven warriors and hunters, they are in charge of coordinating and executing patrols, scouting sorties and attacks and ambushes against intruders.

A separate but still venerated position is that of the "Witch of the Wilds", currently occupied by the eccentric and powerful Mayla. Rumored to be well over a century old, she is the de facto overseer of all djed-oriented acts the clan attempts. An expert when it comes to Malediction, she is said to have mastered or have knowledge of other arcane arts, and her very experience means that all such matters end up flowing through her. The Witch of the Wilds position is always maintained, however, and when her lifeline begins to fray, the Witch will seek out and train a replacement.