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"But even if it meant that the Rowun Clan would have to be obliterated, a country can be built again... as long as blood continues to run through the bodies of the citizens. But in this land- -- the season of "spring" no longer comes."
—Temudan Rowun
"So Hokkan will freeze over...That's what the prophecy is about! It never prophezied anything about Kutou. It meant...that Hokkan will freeze forever if the Priestess won't come..."
—Takiko
Map

A map of Hokkan.

Hokkan (北甲国; Houkan Koku) is a country in The Universe of the Four gods. This country is guarded with the beast god Genbu. Its capital city is Touran. The first priestess, Takiko Okuda, traveled this area.

Overview

Hokkan is the northernmost of the four countries in the world of the Book, and by far the largest. It has a population of approximately one million people, most of whom are nomadic herders, as seen by the huge population of livestock they raise. Comparatively speaking, it covers an area three times larger than the southern country of Konan. The terrain varies greatly, with mountains in central and northern Hokkan, sweeping plains to the south, lush forests to the south-east, and barren deserts to the West, but the earth is rich with natural resources. The climate makes all these areas a harsh place to live. Winters, with the temperature plummeting to -40°C, violent winds, and long nights makes for a brutal and harsh season. Summers are hot and dry, but brief. The refreshing life that comes with spring and summer is a cause for celebration, and hard work to prepare for another winter.

Spring is a time of beauty and precedes the usually abundant summer. Although large trees are sparse in most parts of the country exotic plants and flowers bloom on the steppes and in the valleys. Many of the plants have poisonous or medicinal properties, and healers with a thorough knowledge of the uses of these plants are valuable. The animals in the country are very diverse; wolves, bears and snow leopards frequent the mountains, boars and deer the forest, and camels and wild horses on the steppes and desert. Hokkans lakes and rivers are also filled with multiple species of fish. Domesticated animals include horses, sheep, cows, camels, goats and yaks.


Climate

Spring is a time of beauty and precedes the usually abundant summer. Although large trees are sparse in most parts of the country exotic plants and flowers bloom on the steppes and in the valleys. Many of the plants have poisonous or medicinal properties, and healers with a thorough knowledge of the uses of these plants are valuable. The animals in the country are very diverse; wolves, bears and snow leopards frequent the mountains, boars and deer the forest, and camels and wild horses on the steppes and desert. Hokkans lakes and rivers are also filled with multiple species of fish. Domesticated animals include horses, sheep, cows, camels, goats and yaks.

The climate makes the people of Hokkan tough and practical as they focus on survival, but also lends them a strong sense of kinship and camaraderie, because survival often hinges on working together. They can be characterised as hard and efficient workers with little respect for those who don't pull their own share of the load, or who make trouble for others. Responsibility is something children are taught to handle from a young age, so while families might live together as a tribe for generations, children are made to live and work as individuals as young as four or five.

Cities and Towns

While Hokkan has a few cities and settlements, most families continue to live as nomadic tribes or clans, usually in groups of loosely related families or 'families who have agreed to live and work together by either a pact, or the domination of one tribe over another weaker tribe. The families are partially sedentary, setting up temporary villages near water and game for a few weeks or months before moving to a new location. Their shelter consists of circular, white canvas tents called gers or yurts, which are spacious on the inside, but easy to set up and take down, and light enough to transport. The tribes have no organised government, and are typically lead by experienced elders or adults who have earned the respect of their kin.


Mt. Kokureishin

Mt. Kokureishin translating to "black god mountain", is the mountain Takiko first appears on. Its peak is rocky and snowy, but the valley where a small town is located is wooded. Ancient stone pillars depicting Genbu form what may have once been a shrine, however monsters live under the snow and it is a place where criminals are executed by chaining the person to the pillar to be killed by said monsters. It is suspected that this is the same Mt. Koku that the priestess of Suzaku visits in the future. Nuriko, a Suzaku warrior, loses his life here along with Ashitare.

Rift of Rebirth

Rift of Rebirth. Legend has it that a woman was laid to rest on the rock, and her body became the mountain that housed the vast rift. If a soul passes through the rift, they can be reborn. The stones from this 'rock garden' are said of have clairvoyant properties, being that they come from the Origin, or Seimei stone. The area has since been used as a graveyard, with the stone tombstones being statues of the people buried there in hopes that their spirits will be able to go through the rift and be reborn.


Wind Tunnels

Kaza-ana or wind tunnels or "The Place from Which Cold Wind Blows" if translated literally. It is a series of caverns and tunnels that fill the mountainous region of central Hokkan, north and east of the city Touran. It is a complex maze allowing wind from one area to reach many other places. Somewhere in these caverns King Tegiru is hiding Tegu. In the event that Tegu 'sings', the noise carries and can affect the Seishi if they are near any part of Kaza-ana.


Touran

This is the capital city. It is famous for a hundred years later, the priestess of Suzaku journeys here with her warriors with the Seiryuu Seven in close pursuit. At this time, the two priestesses fight over the Shinzaho, the artifact required to summon the beast god.

Oroko Valley

The Oroko Valley, located near the Hanun River, is a large area consisting of many different crevices all connected to Kaza-ana. It is named after the sounds of a crying child that would carry through the valley. It is also known as a location significant in military strategy to be used in ambushes, as well as for it's rumoured ability to repress the powers of celestial warriors.

Although the warriors first thought they could only be affected if physically near Teg himself, it turns out that they can be affected if anywhere near the valley. This makes it a very dangerous place to be, and both the Rowun family and the Kutou army have been trying to use this to their advantage. Soruen was taken there as bait to lure Rimudo into a heavily guarded cavern, and the attacks by the Kutou army have all been close enough to the Valley that the Seishi have often found their attempts to fight back thwarted.

Hanun River

The Hanun River was once a mighty river, but in recent years due to war, famine and disease, has become unfit to drink. Bodies of the deceased litter it's banks. It is also the place where Tauru died eight years ago.

Nasuru Forest

The Nasaru Forest is just east of Touran, and is protected by Taiitsukun, so those who would seek to hurt others cannot enter. It is an ancient forest, and a village has been worked into the huge trunks and vines of the trees. There are large areas where it has an especially strong spiritual resonance, and religious ceremonies are held there. People looking to serve the Priestess of Genbu have been coming there to form the secret Odo tribe.

Tribes

While there are many tribes in Hokkan, only a few are known by name. The Ha, Kan and Urudai tribes are all examples of nomadic family groups who live and migrate within specific regions of the country. Each tribe has their own diverse physical characteristics, dress, and method of sustaining themselves. The Roun clan, which was historically nomadic, became sedentary by building cities, palaces, developing the iron industry, and through force establishing themselves as a monarchy over the people of Hokkan. Their position as rulers is unstable due to the large number of people who continue to live as nomads, and who have little if no concept of a ruling monarchy. As a result, there are tribes of unrelated people, such as the Odo tribe, who have gathered and work together without the bonds of blood relationships.

Tribes are often very isolated from each other, due to transportation. There are no established roads that lead anywhere, so travel is via foot or horseback. For the nomad, the horse is a treasured and coveted animal for it's strength, speed and resilience.


  • The Ha Tribe is a small nomadic group who lived in north-western Hokkan before moving to warmed places in the east. The tribe is famous for their hunting nature.
  • The Kan Tribe is like the Ha Tribe. They are nomadic and like to move to warmed places in the east. Hikitsu is from this tribe.


  • The Baku Tribe considers themselves to be part of Hokkan, but they live more on the plains of Sairou. This tribe is renouned for it's skilled warriors and master horsemen. Soruen is from this tribe.
  • The Urudai Tribe lived in what are considered the wastelands of a remote part of western Hokkan. The forests were infested with monsters, and the village the tribe had established suffered greatly. Urumiya protected them from the mosters, but when he was taken away, the tribe was wiped out. It's few survivors have moved to join the Odo tribe. Urumiya is from this tribe.
  • The Odo Tribe is, unlike other tribes, not based on kin, but on the common desire to support the Priestess of Genbu. They have been living in the Naseru forest for years, training an army and preparing for the arrival of the Priestess. The Roun family has heard of them, but due to the protection of the forest, the tribe remains safe. Filka is part of this tribe.

Exterior Layout and Families

While Hokkan has a few cities and settlements, most families continue to live as nomadic tribes or clans, usually in groups of loosely related families or 'families who have agreed to live and work together by either a pact, or the domination of one tribe over another weaker tribe. The families are partially sedentary, setting up temporary villages near water and game for a few weeks or months before moving to a new location. Their shelter consists of circular, white canvas tents called gers or yurts, which are spacious on the inside, but easy to set up and take down, and light enough to transport. The tribes have no organised government, and are typically lead by experienced elders or adults who have earned the respect of their kin.

Family is a central part of the tribe, and strong bonds typically exist between immediate members. There is no hesitance to put ones life on the line for a family member, and they will be relentless and fierce in a fight. Concepts of 'right' and 'wrong' can be pushed aside for the sake of working in your families best interests. Kinship goes beyond immediate family, and often close friends can be adopted into a family and easily treated with the same love and respect, although not all tribes are open to such inclusion. In stead pacts; whether they be by blood or sworn word, carry a huge significance and cannot be forsaken except at the expense of ones honour and the risk of exclusion from their family.

Cities paint a very different picture. Houses and buildings are made of stone, and small families live and function without the influence of a larger related community. Residents of a household are often limited to the parents, grandparents, and their few children. Instead of collectively working towards providing for the community, money becomes a valuable commodity, and families will run their own specialized business to make a living and purchase the things they need. The sense of closeness and generous compassion that fills nomadic communities is absent in the cities, and the rough, cynical nature of these diligent people becomes more prominent. Alcoholism and domestic abuse, while mostly unheard of in the tribes, is a growing occurrence within the cities.

The cities do, however, provide certain benefits to their culture. The nomadic families have had little use for written language, because of a strong oral tradition, and art is simply junk that must be carried when they next move. In cities, the development and spread of literature has begun, and art is starting to have a larger value. Most citizens have a rudimentary knowledge of the written language, but formal education is not common and is typically restricted to scholars and the social elite.


People and Cultures

Religion for the people of Hokkan is largely based upon oral tradition, and stories and rituals are passed on by stories or direct experience. Aside from the scroll given to the people by Taiitsukun, there are no written documents concerning their religion. They worship the northern god Genbu, who takes on the form of a turtle and snake, and their god is as harsh as the climate in which they live. He is an unforgiving god who values his peoples diligence and dedication. He is a god of strategy, and while the population is not known for their military strength, they are strong and brilliant when it comes to planning ahead. While not a people to build shrines and temples, they are superstitious. Shamanic ritual and the prophecies of oracles carry a lot of weight and usually play the central role in decision making.

Cultural Activities

Further shared aspects of the culture are the love of horseback riding and archery. Even those who have little skill with either are excited to follow them as sports, and friendly inter-tribal competitions are popular. Music itself is highly appreciated, not simply as entertainment, but for it's believed spiritual properties. Song plays a role in training, teaching and tending livestock, and for it's harmonic effect on the soul. Singing is the most common form of musical expression, and singers will devout much time to perfecting the more unusual and exotic vocal techniques which attempt to mimic the sounds of nature. The morin khour, or the horsehead fiddle, is a boxy, stringed instrument, similar in use to a cello. The strings are made of the hair of a horses tail, and is played with a bow.

Influences

Hokkan has a limited influence on or from the other three countries. Economically, most exchanges are through trades or bartering, rather than money. The country does have vast natural resources though, of which the iron industry is the most prominent. Not only is there a lot of it, but the craftsmanship of Hokkan ironworkers is unrivalled by any other country. This has caused some stress between Hokkan and the flourishing Kutou army. Conflict is not something the people are unused to; pillaging by bandits and attacks between tribes are somewhat common, but the presence of an external organized military is beyond what the people of Hokkan are used to.


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