The Galactic Underworld
The Urugal is the galactic underworld where martial artists, sorcerers, and others test themselves and cultivate their arts. At least, that is what its members say if asked. In reality, the Urugal is the umbrella term for the galactic underground where numerous sects, schools, bands, escort companies, and secret societies interact with each other out of the sight of the political powers that be. Too many organizations exist to ascribe a single or even unifying motive guiding them. They all pay lip service to the code of the Ur-san and the arts of the Lu-gan. Originating within the An-sarra Empire, the Urugal was a prominent subculture on the their home world that spread its ethics and guiding principles throughout the galaxy, growing even faster than the empire from which they arose. The non-hierarchical governance and camaraderie, as well and the powers developed by cultivating arts, provided a better structure than the disparate cartels and syndicates that preceded it. As the An-sarra Lu-gan spread through the galaxy, they encountered the arts and mysteries of the myriad worlds they stepped upon. Far from collecting these arts into a single school or systematic understanding, new schools and sects grew in the Gu-tir. The code of the Ur-san and the methods of the Lu-gan gave rive to a vibrant counterculture that benefited from its invisibility to those outside its borders. The earliest sects all credit their founding in some way to Mu Bai Lien, a wandering Ur-san who renounced his citizenship in the An-ki. It is impossible to know what worlds he actually visited. The number of worlds that claim he visited them is so long it would be nearly impossible for him to have visited them all. He was born on Shar-ushum and is said to be a founding member of its separatist movement. His legendary prowess and adventures formed the earliest core mythology of the galactic Urugal. Whether or not he actually visited any of the world that claim him, his legacy chained the course of galactic history. First and foremost in the minds of the Ur-san is the cultivation of inner strength, or San. This inner strength is developed through rigorous exercise and legendary deeps that hone the spirit of the practitioner enabling numerous amazing abilities for light body technique, which allow the Lu-gan to run through the air in great leaps, to iron skin technique which hards the flesh making it virtually impervious. These are only some of the powers taught in the Ki-niri and Im-sarra zealously guarded by the sects of the Gan-shar. To most of the major powers of the galaxy, the Urugal is little more than a myth. It is a legend told by fighters in the arenas to add a mystique to their abilities. The sects of the Urugal regard the many major and regional powers with grave suspicion. The core ideals of the Gan-shar reject the centralization of authority into such institutions. They refer to those on the path to corporate or political power as those who walk the Sila-a-san, the path to madness or scattered strength.
At the height of the old empire, the heads of each sect put forth one Thashuur, (archaic, Nisthashu-ur) or tree to stand in the Tir or grove to govern the city. Such groves mediated disputes and ensures that nothing impeded trade or cultivation. A few councils persist throughout the galaxy. Within the Uru there are three distinct classes:
- The Malin, means “young soldier.” They constitute the dark underbelly of the Urugal. They are outlaws, bandits, burglars and mercenaries Generally, they are rural bandits. No one really has a great deal of respect for them, and, in fact, the very word Malin was originally an epithet. As often happens, these scoundrels proudly took on the name, making it their own.
- The Caelin are the “strong warriors.” Unlike the loose morals of the Malin, the Caelin are martial artists that single-mindedly seek to improve their skills. Known primarily as a class of aloof wanderers, they rarely involve themselves with the affairs of others.
- The Ronan are the hardest class to define. They are organized groups of mystics, magians, and martial artists. The word Ronan simply means "housed." Each house has its own purpose and goals.
Language (Spoken & Written):Nearly every language in the galaxy is spoken among the Ur-san and Erim Most members of the Urugal, they still "speak" the common language of Ki-niri. Every move in the various martial schools has a symbolic meaning, allowing them to "speak" through the act of combat or exhibition of their martial skills. The "language" is often referred to a Ki-niri after the manuals the moves are defined in.
The word Urugal is an ancient word. In the old days, it referred to the netherworld, the abode of the dead. Literally, it means "Big/Great City." As groups were ostracized from polite society, people used to say, they have been condemned to Urugal. In other words, it is like they were dead. Others took on the epithet as a badge of honor. The "civilized" world they despised had rejected them. In time, a new world built itself alongside the other. A world with its own customs and politics. It is a sub-stratum of the galactic subculture, it is the home of the saints and sinners, priests, monks, mystics, rogues, gangsters, all find their home in the Uru. The dealings of the Urugal often go unnoticed since most honorable gentlemen and ladies go to extreme measures not to see such things. The Uru is in the truest sense a set of counter culture to the ruling elite. All disaffected and rejected people eventually find their home in the Urugal. It must be remembered that the Urugal is not a mafia. It has no singular leader. It is the by-product of the networks and innuendos of those who would rather not be seen.
Those few outside the Gan-shar who have heard of it either view it either as the realm of fighters who strive for perfection in their arts or as a criminal underworld. As a result the actions of the Erim of the Sila-a-san are often confused for the Ur-san of Urugal, but the desire for anonymity so so strong little work is done to correct the record.
Mythology & Lore
Originally, the Urugal was the An-sarran underworld where gods and monsters fought over the fate of the cosmos. Over time, as the Gu-tir grew in power and prominence the gods of the underworld became associated with their weapon of choice more than force of nature they originally represented. These eighteen gods are the patrons of the weapons and fighting styles popular among those first Lu-gan.
The Eighteen Gods of the Urugal
- Niri, Master of the single bladed sword
- Illar, Master Archer
- Urudu, Master Spearman
- Esheda, Master Maceman
- Mashzu, Master of the double bladed sword
- Nishgidda, Master of the ancient spear
- Shen, Master of the Shield
- Nishilig, Master of the axe
- Gulanish, Master of the great axe
- Nirmudul, Master of the dagger halberd
- Usan, Master of the iron whip
- Middu, Master of the bar mace
- Rimudla, Master of the pole pick
- Kaksita, Master of the Spiked mace
- Eshgag, Master of the trident
- Kaasum, Master of the rake
- Gium, Master of the rope
- Subuzur, Master of the barehanded
Tenets of Faith
While the Urugal isn't a religion or a government in a proper and true sense, there are three articles of faith to which its members adhere.
San, Internal EnergySan is an internal power possessed by all things, animate and inanimate. It is most commonly understood as a strength that can be cultivated and matured with the individual and and power that can be harness from exterior sources. It is not a unified or unifying force in the same way that lightning is electricity but electricity is not exclusively lightning. Simply, it is the innate energy of a thing that reflects the qualities of the thing itself at its most fundamental nature.
Gan-shar, The world of CultivationThe world of cultivation is synonymous with Gu-tir, the martial forest. While it is often used interchangeably Urugal, even though not all the people who walk in the underworld cultivate their energy. Gan-shar literally means cultivated garden. It was originally contrasted with the wild, chaos of the martial forest. It signified the structured work of the sect as opposed to the random cultivation performed by those without a house. Over time, solitary Lu-gan became so rare that the distinction was lost entirely. When an Ur-san discusses the Gan-shar, they are talking about those who have worked to cultivate their energy and who practice their arts regularly. If not, then the powers will go wild and lose their structure. Most do not know the origin of the tern, though tradition continues the idea even now.
Sila-a-san, (the road to madness, demons, or scattered strength)The Sila-a-san is the opposite of the Gan-shar, and it named either in quite whispers or shouted threats. Once an Ur-san leaves the orthodox path, the called Erim, foreigners, and are said to leave the martial forest on the road to madness. In many schools, the Sila-a-san is the home of demons who seek to devour and corrupt those who go astray. Even when demons and the like are not invoked there is an idea heretical work of the lost Erim has driven them to madness and eventual destruction.
Stay in the forest, my child, for the path is lined with horror longing to take your mind and consume your force.
Sang, benevolence or kindnessSang is the heart of what it means to be an Ur-san, it is the willingness and duty to help those in need. It differs from Arthush (compassion) in that it is active. Compassion is felt, benevolence is enacted. An Ur-san who doesn't take action to relieve the suffering of others when they have the power to do so is frowned upon and if the inaction continues they may be considered a heretic or outcast.
Shu-dim-ma, loyaltyThe Ur-san understand loyalty differently from the way that word is commonly employed. Loyalty should never be invested in a state, person, or ideology. These are considered aspects of Sila-a-san, (the road to madness, demons, or scattered strength). Instead, loyalty is a measure of truth and honesty. Does the Ur-san keep their word? Do they lie, break oaths, betray others? Then they will be considered a heretic or outcast.
Para, courage or braveryPara is not the absence of fear, it is the cultivated ability to pass over or stretch beyond the obstacles that face the Ur-san. Dying in a fight that cannot be won is not bravery. Self-sacrifice to save others would be. It demonstrates the heroes capacity to rise above their own self interest to aid others. This is not the only or the most prized demonstration of Para. Most Ur-san will have to overcome numerous obstacles in the Gan-shar and stretch themselves to pursue their goals or fulfill their oaths. These are the most treasured stories and demonstrate deep levels of cultivation.
Lu-zi, righteousnessRighteousness may be the most amorphous aspect to the ethics of the Urugal. While it entails elements of the previous parts of the code, it also indicates a certain integrity or honesty to oneself and ones path through the Gu-tir. Adding to the confusion is that each sect has their own interpretation and code of righteousness that they expect their members to live up to. Doing so demonstrates both Lu-zi, but also Shu-dim-ma to the oaths they took to their sect.
Granted Divine Powers
While the specifics of arts taught within the various sects, schools, clans, bands, and companies of the Urugal are specific to them, there are certain shared arts that most, if not every group teach in some degree to their members. These are all based on the cultivation of San, strength, and internal power that they call on to work wonders.
Political Influence & Intrigue
Only members of the Sila-a-san support the power of empire, or join a state to take action. The Urugal is and always should be separate from the official power structures of the A-ru-a, the desert or wasteland of politics, but that doesn't mean that a righteous and orthodox Ur-san or sect to interfere in the unjust workings of such a power, or even assist an unfortunate who finds themselves in the employ of a state or business. If the power of the A-ru-a is not kept in check, its weeds cleared, and it flowers encouraged from time to time, then all will be lost in the galaxy. No right house in the Urugal is or has been in the employ of a State or Corporation, and the few born from such soil quickly left the desert for the forest where they could survive away from the harsh gaze of power. There are more rumors about the Gan-shar interfering with those of the A-ru-a than incidents of it actually occurring. Those on the Sila-a-san on the other hand have no compunction about interfering with or even working for or with the states and corporations of the A-ru-a.
Honor is our life, faith our soul, and perfection our blood.
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