There are those who braved the flames of Koshiki in the Old Times, back when the mountain raged as the dragons that called it home do. For them, it was worthy pilgrimage— of all the creatures the tribes of Odaiba had encountered, none held such nobility and power as the Kanohi Dragons. It was there that they would find their new home, their new study, their new Way. The fire in the breath of each Dragon was as their own from the Mind, only a billion times brighter. A Dragon was a being without peer, a warrior and sage that flew through the Heavens and touched the same skies as the Gods. To be acknowledged by them was good omen, that they may impart their long-held wisdoms upon you. To antagonize them was to court swift death, the insolence of the small.
To emulate them would be to find strength where ones' frailty, ones' blindness to the blaze in their Soul, had formerly shackled them. They would find that same wisdom and power within themselves, as many Long passed down teachings to generation after generation in a single Dragon's lifetime.
They would Become Them.
This is the old tradition.
In collaboration with Onarax, the originator of Soulfire as a concept and the Chand half of the Chand-Long confederation:
TAJAAR CLAN- CHAND-LONG
The Chand-Long are a confederate clan of Taajar that occupy the mountains and plains of the large island of Odaiba. Originally two clans— wandering crystalsmiths and mountain-dwelling monks— they came to a mutual agreement of protection and exchange of knowledge. Both clans of this alliance value the autonomy of their members highly. So long as one shows respect to traditions such as the Naffir, and the brotherhood between both halves of their clan, they are largely free to do as they wish once they have completed their vocational training. They are a collective rather than a traditional “clan” in this sense: Chand-Long will come together in aid of other Chand-Long, but will not dictate how their fellows spend their lives. Due to the hybridized nature of this clan, the Chand-Long have instituted a tradition of alternating heritages for each Jahagir elected, with an advisor from the opposite tribe appointed to them as their second.
Chand: Strongly traditional and nomadic horse people. Renowned throughout the Taajar for producing the best weaponry and hunters/fighters. They are extremely skilled at mounted combat with a blade or other close combat weapon, and tend to spend their time traveling throughout the archipelago. Members of the clan are not required to remain together and are often seen roaming on their own. The exception is when the Toroshu calls the clan together for a Naffir, at which point all members are expected to drop whatever personal work they may be involved in and gather at the ancestral home of the Clan, be it to share knowledge and wealth, or to respond to a crisis concerning their people.
Members of the clan typically take on a variety of different jobs, the most common being hunters, hired guards for other Taajar clans, and traveling crystalsmiths. As their weapons and arms are renowned for being the best in Taajar equipment it is easy to make a profit this way. Due to the loose affiliations between Clan members, the clan is known for being even more politically neutral than the standard Taajar clan, bordering on politically apathetic.
Taajar fighters of this clan tend to focus heavily on weaponry for close combat, and their easy access to expert crystalsmiths lead to them being one of the few clans still in possession of long curved swords. These included Shamshir, Sorohi and Talwar. They also own a fair number of straight swords, these include the Khanda and the Pata rapier. Members with a higher standing in the clan often carry a Gupti with them, proof of their station.
The other focus of their weaponry is on spears, the generic term for which is sinan. Nezah served as the typical cavalry lances and are long but light weight polearms with a small spearhead at the end. On foot, the typical weapons are either the heavy weight Barchhah or the light weight Sang which possessed a longer multi-sided head. While these types of spears were the most common, other forms still exist.
While spears and swords were the most developed and common forms of weaponry employed by the clan, they did still possess a variety of daggers and knives. In addition other forms of weaponry have been crafted by the expert crystalsmiths in the clan. Armoring, by contrast, is much less prevalent. Members in the clan did not typically wear heavy armor, preferring to devote their available crystal to their weaponry. Nevertheless they did still employ light forms of armor, preferring cloth interspersed with crystal. In addition they often employed light shields. One thing moderately unique about the clan, is that their crystalsmiths are known for creating crystal armour for their Sokos, lamellar-styled barding they have trained their horses to wear for increased protection. This armor is typically only available for higher ranked and wealthier members of the clan.
As part of their alliance with the Long, the Chand that reside at the mountains’ base tend to keep out interlopers from the peaks, as well as provide supplies and information of the happenings of the outside world.
Long: Ascetic and largely self-secluded from the world, the Long are a clan that strive to emulate the great Kanohi Dragons that call the mountain range their Dojo is nestled within home, through martial arts and a discipline harnessing the natural psychic energy found within them— Soulfire. The Long tribe are descendants of the first Taajar pioneers to scale the Northern Face of Mount Koshiki, constructing their monastery devoted to the refinement of the psychic energies all Menti carry within themselves, a system of combat and elemental discipline totally distinct from those of the Imperial society to the Northwest. After all, they had already long carved the ten thousand steps that lead to the temple well before anything that resembles recent memory in Dasakan society.
The Long lived, until calamity befell Odaiba, in a compound roughly halfway to the peak of Koshiki dominated by the aforementioned stone monastery. Once strictly isolationist, in recent years there was a somewhat free flow between the two tribes of the clan up and down the many, many steps towards the Long temple, as Long accept warriors who wish to train as monks from the Chand into their order, and the Chand take Long on as apprentices in their trades of horsemanship or crystalsmithing, either to simply gain worldly experience or to even realize a new calling— not all find themselves so obsessed by training the body. At times, even fully realized Long Monks will accompany traveling Chand smiths as they walk the archipelago, providing their Nomadic brothers protection as they in turn are provided an enlightening Pilgrimage. During the time of a Naffir, wandering Long will be sure to return to the Nest with learning and examples of new developments in the world around them— oftentimes alongside as many supplies as they can carry.
All Members of the Long clan, from Dashi to Menti to Datsue, are trained in the physical aspects of the Art of Soulfire, a martial art that is exemplified by its bladed yet somewhat compact kickboxing stance, featuring an inward-turned lead foot that carries most of the practitioner’s weight. Punches are kept fairly basic and workmanlike, use just as much to measure distance with a heavy jab as it is to deal damage with a thudding lead hook or uppercut. This inward rotation makes rear side techniques largely awkward if used in an “orthodox” sense (rear leg head kicks require adjustment of foot position, for example)— but greatly facilitates long, whirling strikes. Indeed, the spinning hook kicks and backfists are reminiscent of the thunderous lashes of a dragon’s tail, leading to the name provided for the striking half of their discipline— The Art of the Dragon’s Tail.
That lead front leg also holds particular weight to the second half of this style— The Art of the Dragon’s Claw. Dragons being what they are, they often use their arms to reposition their opponents, to muscle them around, and to deliver sharp attacks from very short range. This school of infighting is primarily characterised by hand-trapping, standing foot sweeps, trips, and throws from the clinch, as well as short takedowns like single legs and double legs.
The major principles of this art would likely boil down to following flow of one’s own momentum in movement, as well as simultaneous counters— use the opponent’s attack as your opening to run him into your own attack. This results in an almost catch-and-pitch style, dominated by counterfighting aside from a few long-range, probing, noncommittal leads (jabs, snap kicks, side kicks, etc.) as well as one that uses its many kicks and spins to mask more fundamental things like a switch of stances or a change in angle of attack. Interestingly, there is no real groundfighting to be spoken of— largely stemming from the conclusion that if one gets taken down onto the hard ground, their fight is nearly finished. The back of the head hitting the earth is, in practice, very decisive already.
(For those with terminal cases of kickpunch brain, think Sanda!)
The Breath of the Dragon: The Warriors of the Long tribe, and other such Menti trained in the Soulfire discipline, are taught to project their elemental psychic energy beyond themselves in a manner similar to the Soulswords of Dasakan society— though any Imperial would doubtlessly look upon it as crude and unrefined. At the outset of their training, Menti learn to cloak their striking surfaces(fists and feet, largely) with coats of iridescent mental flame that leave dizzying luminescent trails in their wakes, and lob projectiles of raw, largely formless psionic energy. As a warrior continues to fan the flames of their soul, they can utilize them, this Dragon’s Breath, in a number of specific ways. As these are the techniques of the mind as well as the element, most naturally gravitate towards one or two of these heightened expressions of their Art and Philosophy— towards which draconic aspects resonate with them.
Dragon’s Teeth: The Offensive Refinement of striking with psychophysical force. A Soulfire practitioner that has mastered this art understands that they can impart extreme penetrative force to their strikes via a “pulse” or “spike” of psionic energy upon impact, to the point where proper force and placement could even shatter crystal. Repeated use of these pulses can tire a user who does not know how to efficiently apply them, however, and it is best realized when the exact point and moment of impact are visualized.
Dragon’s Scales: The Defensive Refinement of striking with limbs wreathed in psionic energy. Those that can replicate the tough scales and hide of a Kanohi Dragon do so by creating a psychic buffer zone around a region of the body (oftentimes the arms that do most of the blocking) that supplements natural armoring. It is rare to find, even amongst Masters, those that can fight effectively while fully protecting themselves, as this requires intense focus.
Dragon’s Heart: The fullest Inward Nurturing of their Fiery Soul. Those that are said to have the hearts of dragons live with boundless courage and mental fortitude, reinforcing the mind and spirit with a flood of fearlessness and will. They are much less susceptible to mental entry than most, and are rarely frightened or disheartened. This strengthened sense of self carries a natural consequence in that it exacerbates a common theme of the discipline when in contact with others, especially imperials— their minds are harder to reach for allies and enemies alike, as all must brave the flames of their willpower.
Dragon’s Rage: The fullest Outward Expression of their Fiery Soul. An enraged dragon sets upon his foe like thunder itself, explosive, crashing, destruction made manifest. Those that would seek to master this technique walk the knife’s edge— their mind blazes around their form in a raging inferno, as it forces through the subconscious limitations of the body— the warrior will find their physical attributes skyrocketing as their burning Mind pushes them past their own capability. This is by far the rarest of the four known paths of Mastery, thanks to its many risks— the drain of energy is truly immense, with one running out of mind to burn if they aren’t conservative in their use of it— many a trainee has collapsed into unconsciousness during an attempt. Additionally, unlike Kanohi, these limits are broken without protection from their consequences: the body is not designed to handle its own maximum output. Tearing muscle and shattering bone, even after the intense conditioning every Monk endures, is an eminent possibility.
Hey Buddy, it’s Arc 3 and everything’s A Mess, How Does This Work: As dark forces invaded their home’s peak, the Chand-Long are today a particularly scattered group post-evacuation. Many Chand smiths and their Long bodyguards were forced to ride out the early days of the storm by mustering as many Soko as possible to help those evacuating the temple retreat from the Rahkshi horde, the most experienced monks staying behind as vanguards to buy time for the children and initiates to escape down a winding, rarely-used trail. The temple they called home was totally lost, its former head anointing her foremost disciple as her successor before taking final rest within the blaze.
Many Chand and Long have taken residence within or near the Dasakan footholds into Odaiba, offering services as Crystalsmiths or fighters against the tide of Makuta in exchange for safe land to house the next generation. These settlements are managed by the current Acting Jahagir, a now-Datsue by the name of Long Shunkyou. Others still returned to nomadism upon evacuation, their autonomy uncontested even by the tragedy that befell the whole. They roam the far reaches of the Archipelago, furthering their respective arts without pause.
Whichever Path you choose is yours. The seed from which your hoard is grown is your pilgrimage, be it through the land, or through your Arts.
Dragons do not bow, nor do they weep.
Cultivate your hoards. Seek knowledge, seek strength, seek wisdom, seek retribution.
Do as you will— as will your fellows. Any who impede you will learn their folly.
You are Dragons, and your Soul will be as Inferno.