Orphans of Volri Organization in Cairne | World Anvil

Orphans of Volri

The Volrishtad are less a nation and more a tribal confederacy, with each tribe ruled by both a Matriarch and Patriarch that is chosen by a rite of rulership on the edge of the Void. There are currently seven families that roam the outlands and maintain free trade between both the other tribes and the Outland settlements. The tribes converge once a year on the site of the initial Volrishtad encampment on the Eastern edge of the Blighted Lands known as Sasha's Folly, for a tribal council gathering where matters that effect the entire race, the Outlands, and any crucial interactions with other races can be discussed. This week long affair is where serious crimes are judged and the guilty punished, and also a matchmaking festival for youths of the various tribes to be given the chance to mingle and find a suitable spouse. The Volrishtad are doggedly proud of their individual tribe, but there is very little competition between them. At the end of the day, the Volrishtad hold allegiance to none but their nation and way of life. This had led to a strong degree of organization among the tribes, as each tribe maintains a loose school of tradition. Instead of a tribe being composed of a family line or ancestral common lineage, each tribe attracts those who with to learn from their school. The schools are focused on many things, and all of them maintain a form of spiritual attachment to the energies of the Void. A Volrishtad education is a coveted one, but the luxury of living among them and learning their ways, is not an honor that the Volishtad easily bestow as they are an untrusting culture to begin with.


The Volrishtad are less of a singular nation and more a confederacy of seven different clans. Each clan is led by two rulers - one man and one woman - as a representation of the balance that is the fulcrum of the universe. They are chosen by a rite of rulership on the edge of the Void, wherein they earn the titles of clan Matriarch and Patriarch. Second-in-command underneath them but no less respected and important - probably even more so - is the clan historian or seanchai, a position originating from their ancient roots and from which their islander cousins derived their current name. This is a position that one does not earn but is chosen for them at a young age. It takes decades of training before one can assume the position of seanchai, as theirs is a strong oral tradition, and the entire history of the clan is passed down orally from the current seanchai to the next-in-line. They are powerful storytellers who act as advisors to the Matriarch and Patriarch, drawing wisdom and guidance from their people’s history.   The clans converge annually for a week-long festival on the site of the initial Volrishtad encampment on the western edge of the Ephemeral Sea known as Sasha’s Folly. The primary draw at the heart of this gathering is the horse fair. This is an important tradition for every Volrishtad clan, as it presents an opportunity not only to buy, sell, and trade horses but also to meet with family and friends, share stories and songs around a campfire, and celebrate their Volrishtad heritage and culture, feeling safe to do so in the company of others of their own kind. This also serves as a great matchmaking opportunity for youths of marrying age, giving 16-year-olds the chance to mingle and find a suitable spouse.   While the festivities are going on, the clan leaders and some notable invited elders meet and discuss matters that affect the Volrishtad as a whole, the Outlands, and any crucial interactions with outsider settlements that need to be addressed. The Volrishtad are doggedly proud of their individual clan, but at the end of the day, they hold allegiance to none but the Volrishtad people and their way of life. While each clan has a unique “personality” to it that, in certain cases, have given them a unique niche in Volrishtad society, they all share that same foundational Volrishtad core that defines them as a people. This has led to a strong degree of cooperation between the clans.


Both before the Blight and after, the Volrishtad’s nomadic lifestyle necessitated that any trade they adopted could easily be taken with them. They were most known for being peddlers and metalsmiths who worked mostly with light metals. Today, they still frequently go hawking their wares in the various Outlands settlements, but their metalsmithing proves to be the most invaluable. Many in the Outlands rely on worn relics from days gone by and whatever they can fashion out of scrap metal, so having the Volrishtad around gives them access to a resource that can fashion usable lanterns, utensils, and other housewares, alongside repairing already-existing metal goods. For entertainment and relaxation, the Volrishtad have kept alive the ancient musical and artistic traditions of their people. Stories kept alive through their rich storytelling tradition are passed along to others in their clan after the day’s work is done, which then transitions into their heavily ornamented traditional songs. Dancing soon breaks out, wisps of shadow curling up around their limbs as nimble steps keep the beat to a lively tune. This ethereal visage has entranced many outsiders, leading them to romanticize the Volrishtad way as a carefree people, unmoored by the demands of modern civilized society and living a life of absolute freedom.   With the stresses inherent to existing in a post-Blight Cairne, it’s easy to see how this idealized Volrishtad way of life holds such a magnetic appeal, but any Volrishtad will tell you that theirs is not the easy life that it appears to be on the surface. They must remain ever-vigilant and disciplined to continue to maintain their pure standards of living. Those wanting to be accepted into Volrishtad culture rarely have a true understanding of what this means, with all of the weight and responsibilities that come with it. (It’s not for lack of informing them of the ways of the world, either. Outsiders just don’t get it - or worse, they don’t want to listen!) Thus, the Volrishtad culture remains ever closed off to people from the outside. However, an outsider that can show a complete understanding of and deep commitment to their beliefs and way of life, after having been thoroughly vetted by the Volrishtad, may receive the rare invitation to come live among them, effectively being “adopted” by a clan and henceforth are considered culturally Volrishtad.   Despite all of this, the Volrishtad face life head-on with an easy confidence, their minds free from the shackles of uncertainty, content that their beliefs are more than just that - they’re facts of life itself. After all, they are the Void’s chosen people, the ones who passed through the cleansing black fires and were rewarded for their commitment to maintaining a pure lifestyle. They were given the tools to make doing so easier while the rest of the world is still being tested, and their bodies bear the proof of that.

Public Agenda

BELIEF WITH A PURPOSE   The Volrishtad believe, as they always have, that failure to maintain purity invites bad luck, and in a post-Blight Cairne, this manifested as void creatures coming to wreak havoc. To them, this is an unfortunate but necessary evil, as their sole defining purpose is to eliminate impurities where they exist to return Cairne to a state of balance. Those who live in a state of balance won’t have to worry about such a fate, as they’re not what the Blight was brought down on the world for and are themselves actively helping to return Cairne to a balanced state.   To the Volrishtad, this covers the why of their actions; they care less about how these practices work the way they do. In actuality, a lot of their beliefs scratched the surface of practices that drove back the destruction and contamination of the Blight and prevented cross-contamination of illness in a world absent divine healing, where death was very, very final. When the Wheytai clan learned that enough fire and light keeps the denizens of the Blight at bay, the Volrishtad interpreted this as a discovery of another law to maintain purity; while the Blight was a cleansing force mean to redress the much larger imbalance, it was itself an overwhelming force of darkness that created its own imbalance in Cairne while it still remained. Thus, generating sources of light to give aid to the moon and stars helped return balance to the night that had been overwhelmed by darkness. To residents of the Outlands through which the Volrishtad charted their course, this why didn’t matter; the Wheytai discovered that Blight-born creatures hated light, and all of the various Outlands settlements quickly followed suit with the rest of the Volrishtad clans and began setting out light sources at night.   For the residents of the Outlands, these Volrishtad discoveries meant survival. They welcomed their wisdom whenever their caravans rolled around. For people who didn’t have access to the resources and education that societies like the Becht had, they were largely in the dark of practices they developed by means of scientific rigor to increase their chances of survival. Volrishtad folk beliefs, however, were accessible, available, and seemed to have a high survival rate for practices they could pretty easily implement. Their eagerness to learn and dedicate themselves to what the Volrishtad viewed as a pure way of living, in turn, made a positive impression on them. Now more confident that the various Outlands settlements were living more pure lives, that Volrishtad distrust of outsiders had begun to chip away for them in particular, at least enough to open regular and healthy trade relations.


ORIGINS   During a time in the distant past before the Blight ravaged Cairne, the Volrishtad and Seanachaisians were once one people. Not much is known about this time period, as the history of this ancient people was passed down through a rich oral tradition and never written down, and what cultural artifacts that haven’t been broken down in the peat bogs of the Isles of Seanachai are unable to be recovered because of the Blight.     What is known is that this culture placed a large cultural importance on music. The ancient texts of people who had a written tradition noted that their musical stylings had a level of technical skill and ornamentation comparable only to what one would find fit to perform for a nation’s king. So beautiful was their music, in fact, that it had attracted the attention of the fey that once inhabited the islands before they retreated back into the Feywild hundreds of years prior. They offered promises of musical talent unlike anything that had ever struck mortal ears, only asking that they perform for them in exchange. This led to a sharp divide amongst the ancient peoples, some embracing the opportunity and others staunchly opposed to their people having anything to do with the fey.   Those who made bargains definitely saw their musical talents surpass mortal limits, all right, but they were changing. More and more, they were showing signs of being feytouched in their physiology, and the fey’s influence was so widespread that even the islands around them had begun to morph, eventually becoming the living dream that the Isles of Seanachai were famous for before the Blight struck. Children being born to parents who never even made bargains with the fey were entering the world with the pointed ears and otherworldly beautiful features of the feytouched, and to those who wanted nothing of the fey, this disturbed them deeply.   They felt like strangers in their own homeland. Escaping what they viewed as an undesirable fate, the remaining untouched humans sailed east across the waters. With no permanent place to call home, they became a nomadic people traveling in bowtop caravans between the Gaul Do Shah forests and eastern human settlements, seeking comfort and guidance in the goddess of travelers, Volri, and leaving their old god Bodi behind. They had begun to call themselves the People of Volri, and in response to what happened to their islander cousins, they developed a set of cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices around the concept of purity, becoming hyper-vigilant about letting any outside influences affect their people.     THE LOST DAYS   As a result of their views on outsiders, the People of Volri were never abreast of worldly politics. They were completely blindsided when the Blight struck the Isles of Seanachai. They tried to outrun the Blight as waves of fell energy from the Negative Energy Plane engulfed the land, but most were lost in the crossfire. Desperate for answers, they turned to their goddess Volri but were only met with silence. Even their high priestess of Volri, Sasha Vrend, had disappeared in a wisp of shadow the day the Blight fell. They supposed that whatever happened to Volri, she must have taken Sasha with her. With so many dead and dying in the days following, community elders did everything in their power to slow - and hopefully stop - the damage done to their people. The sun was not visible through the miasma of the void, and death lurked beyond their camps in the guise of strange creatures that killed with a touch and devoured those left behind. Many believed they were all that remained and that the end of the world was upon them, yet as days turned to months and months to years, the People of Volri recovered and began to rebuild.   A decade had passed before they made a deliberate push to find out what happened. When they learned of how the Blight was caused, they were horrified: Sovereign Daimus III had “wished bad” of the Seanachaisians, Volri had done the same of the other races in order for her favored people to ascend, jealousy abounded… What’s worse, Sasha Vrend not only associated with and partook of this impurity but actively encouraged it! In that moment, there was no longer any mystery as to why the Blight happened. The world of Cairne as a whole was so impure, so out-of-balance that of course such terrible luck would sweep across the land! The People of Volri did what only felt right: they abandoned their old goddess just as she had abandoned them and adopted the mantle of Volrishtad, which in their native dialect translates to “The Orphans of Volri”. They never again spoke the name Vrend because of the impure taint associated with it. They moved forward that day stronger and more determined than ever, recommitting themselves to maintaining their pure standards of life with fresh vigor. Their environment was rife with death and danger as they traveled between the Blighted Lands and the edge of the Wastes, and the Volrishtad not only continued to survive in the face of such terrors but thrive. Generations passed before the Volrishtad realized that they were not alone, and they reemerged in the world, irrevocably changed by their time spent in proximity to the Void.     A PEOPLE TRANSFORMED   Long-term exposure to the energy of the Void permanently altered the physiology of the Volrishtad, intertwining with their very being and becoming one with them. This became a cultural point of pride for the Volrishtad; as time wore on, they began to view the Blight not as a malign wave of destruction but as a cleansing force sent down by the universe to redress the imbalance in Cairne, righting wrongs and eliminating all that was impure. Their changed appearance was a sign of cleansing, and a newfound ability to shape shadows was a reward for upholding the universal law and a means for them to continue to remain pure.   Once they realized that they could manipulate shadow to form simple tools and clothing, maintaining their standards became a lot easier. Now, pots, dishes, and any other implements where cleanliness would be a concern could be created when a person had a need for it and dismissed when finished with it, the uncleanliness evaporating in a wisp of shadow along with the item. Anything intended to remain pure that fell to the ground could be created anew just as easily. Not all of their old rituals completely went away, however. When creating clothing out of shadow, the Volrishtad still ensured that the lower parts of their body were completely covered to maintain purity. The upper body, being more pure than the lower, could bare a bit more skin but still remained fairly modest. The Strochti in particular still maintained their clothes washing practices; as a clan with a particular affinity for art, they still regularly wear clothes constructed from artfully-woven textiles with heavy decoration and ornamentation, for shaping clothing out of shadows can’t produce the cool colors and level of discernible detail they desire.

Foreign Relations

The Volrishtad’s distrust of outsiders extends to all races without exception, but their views on these races are particularly noteworthy:    
  • Bechtlarites: The Volrishtad are wariest of the Bechtlarites more so than any other culture because of the impurities that plague their people. While the Volrishtad recognize that they, too, were also once heavily associated with key players responsible for creating such a huge imbalance in Cairne, they shunned and put a wide berth between them and the individuals who committed such heinous acts of impurity. The Bechtlarites, in their eyes, have failed to do so to a sufficient degree. What’s more is they haven’t completely renounced their old ways. To the Volrishtad, this makes them perhaps the most impure of all of them, so they put a great distance between themselves, the Bechtlarites, and their culture. The Benevolents fare only slightly better. While they wish badly of no one and maintain more rigorous standards of cleanliness than most people, their frequent close association with illness and death negates the strides they have made towards achieving purity.
  • Ventrytes: While the Volrishtad are more open to dealing with the people of the Outlands generally because of their eagerness to adopt Volrishtad purity practices, the Ventrytes are perhaps the most culturally similar to them. They still practice some measure of caution to maintain their own purity, but the Ventrytes, in their eyes, are more likely to be pure than anyone. This lends some measure of comfort to the Volrishtad in letting themselves freely associate with them, and both cultures maintain robust trade between them and even occasionally partake in jovial displays of song and dance. These moments, when they occur when a Volrishtad caravan visits a Ventryte outpost, can spontaneously spark a days-long festival.
  • Seanachaisians: Their islander cousins are a special case. Wherein they once in the past viewed them as heading towards a path of destruction, learning about the events surrounding the Blight has now made them take pity on the Seanachaisians. They learned of how their cousins refused to be associated with a people the Volrishtad view as deeply tainted with impurity, and in the universe sending down the cleansing force that is the Blight instead of what Sovereign Daimus III originally intended to unleash on the Isles of Seanachai, they, too, were also tested in the black fires. Though the Seanachaisians did not pass with flying colors, the fact that they survived through it all and now bear the scars of the Blight on their bodies signal to the Volrishtad that they’re headed down the right path. They did once originate from the same people, after all, so surely they must have held onto some of the values that once united them. While they still approach their cousins with the same degree of wariness as they give everyone else (especially so for Seanachaisian musicians, who the Volrishtad view as still embracing they fey energy that “corrupted” them so long ago), any Seanachaisian that comes to them showing a willingness to devote themselves to a pure lifestyle will be adopted into Volrishtad culture more quickly and handily than any other race currently existing in Cairne. Even still, a Volrishtad and Seanachaisian sharing in a song from the ancient days betrays hints of a unified people that is special and moving in its own right. This offer does not apply to any Seanachaisian who associates with the Burnt Crows, who the Volrishtad view as heading down the same path to impurity that the Bechtlarites are on. (Unlike them, however, the Volrishtad will more openly criticize a Burnt Crow because they believe they can still turn their life around, while the Bechtlarites are almost beyond saving as to not be worth the energy.)
Geopolitical, Nomadic tribe
Alternative Names
Predecessor Organization
Orphans of Volri, The Vol
Leader Title
Head of State
Head of Government
Government System
Power Structure
Economic System
Barter system
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