Vlaka
Vlaka
pic_vlaka.jpg
Biological information
Type Humanoid
Size Medium
Intelligence Sentient
Life span -
Sociological information
Planet of origin Lajok
Achieved warp -
First contact -

Wolflike creatures with thick fur, vlakas hail from a doomed planet called Lajok, an arctic world in the Vast that is the most distant from its system’s dying star. Life is barely sustainable on Lajok, and as its sun grows dimmer, it might be able to sustain an ecosphere for only a few more centuries. Some vlakas respond to this knowledge by building strong communities that can last as long as possible on their home world, but others travel among the stars seeking a longer-term solution.

Vlakas rule Thor, a collection of many star systems in the Fehu Ring.

Vlaka fur is usually white with large patches of pale blue, gray, or black, and it provides them protection against all but the most bitter cold. Around two-thirds of vlakas are born blind or deaf. Although they have long had access to magic and technology that can mitigate or remove such conditions, not all vlakas choose to do so, valuing the cultural touchstones such as language and perspective variances that are associated with differing ways of sensing the world. A typical vlaka stands 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 feet tall and weighs between 175 and 250 lbs.

Vlakas can appear unnervingly serious, but they’re acutely attuned to the emotional state of others, and they offer friendly encouragement when they sense it might be helpful. Vlakas emphasize on the well-being of the group over the individual, a practice that evolved from survival strategies required to thrive in the tundra of Lajok. While not wholly self-sacrificing, vlakas go to great lengths to assist, protect, and encourage their friends, colleagues, and kin. Vlakas frown upon self-aggrandizing leadership, and they respect those who display wisdom, listen the most, and speak the least.

Most vlaka groups are led by councils whose members rotate between roles and dutifully carry out the will of their constituents rather than seeking political power for themselves. Vlakas who travel with other races often find themselves thrust into leadership positions thanks to their penchant for working for the benefit of and listening to their allies. Most vlakas accept such responsibilities but deflect any unwarranted respect afforded them solely due to their title.

A few vlakas who visited the Pact Worlds before the Absalom Pact was signed served as a bridge between Eox and other worlds. Vlakas have since become famous as dependable go-betweens for groups seeking genuine accord. A vlaka might even work with clients who have been bad actors in the past, hoping to find a situation beneficial to all sides and to see ethical improvement in future behavior.

Many sapient creatures find themselves drawn to the camaraderie vlakas offer, but others try to take advantage of their openness. Vlakas who grow weary of the strife among other races might withdraw to focus on working with animals or machines. However, most vlakas seek well-intentioned groups of like-minded starfarers to do some good in a galaxy that can be callous and brutal.


The Clans

There are several clans of vlaka scattered across the biomes of the ice planet, Lajok. Each clan consists of several packs and villages and has their own distinct culture and relationship to the greater whole.

Clan Yuka

Population: 250,000

Location: Central Tundra Plains

Leaders: First Claw Amaruq Yuka

The Yuka are hunters and warriors first. Their exploits are made legend planetwide. They were the first to conquer the horned Gerbilope, a huge furry rodent with poison tipped horns. They often mark their victories in community celebrations where they butcher and share the meat of a noteworthy kill with the entire village and march the cleaned skulls to the hunter’s home, where these trophies are proudly mounted upon the outside of their domed domiciles amidst celebratory howls and yips. Yuka have also been known to confront the super predators that roam the tundra for sport - such as Argentian Ice-Hawks or the shark-like Gormoths that surge below the snow dunes.

Yuka structures are a mixture of smooth metal sheeting, stone, and ice. Yuka design is noted for graceful curvature that melts into the local environs. Seating is generally upon the ground and modern technology floats easily and peacefully on repulsor lifts throughout these structures. Yuka are known for navigating the Tundra via the constellations - so it is not uncommon for their homes to include a sky window so they may observe the movements of the Night Pack. Yuka believe any vlaka who dies bravely in battle becomes a star and joins this universal pack, to guide all progeny who follow.

The Yuka are also the sacred guardians of twisting underground cave systems known as “The Temple of the Void” that run beneath the ice plains and are home to a unique type of Solarian crystal that can only be found on Lajok. These caves glow with veins of glittering blue ice and resound with Desna’s Music of the Spheres - which the only sound deaf vlaka can actually hear. The caves are sacred sites to worshipers of Desna and the Black Butterfly. Many Solarians make pilgrimages to Lajok to hear the music and find a crystal that calls to them. Some say that the vlaka were among the first Solarians to harness the power of stars and entropy - and the Yuka descend from that tradition.

Akna

Population: 200,000

Location: Shield Peaks

Leaders: Shieldbearer Stengrim Berssison

The Akna live high in the frozen northern mountains of Lajok. They have occupied this space since the age before vlaka had a written history. They are responsible for both the written language and sign language native to the vlaka. In fact, the common propensity for hearing loss amongst the vlaka can be traced to those who share ancestry with the Akna. The Akna make strong ambassadors as the masters of language.

Because of their guardianship of the written word, it is natural that the Akna became the keepers of Lajok’s history. These scribes of ice are said to carve every recorded moment of vlakan history into the walls of the eternally frozen caves within the Shield Peaks. Rivers and falls from glacial run-off carve through portions of the uninscribed ice, creating the cave network of the Shield Peak Library - one of the most natural wonders in the galaxy. The Akna have also worked to compile and house digital records of universal histories so that they may live in concert with the vlaka’s ancient tales. Off-world visitors to the library often come to find lost lore. The only time the ice scribes were not active was during The Gap. Many Akna scholars long to discover this lost history before Lajok is lost so that they may complete their ancestral duties before they are forced to leave. Blind vlaka travel to the Shield peaks so that they may learn the stories of their past by feeling their way along the massive inscribed walls. The Akna consider themselves the defenders of their world. After all, it was an Akna Shieldbearer who unified the six clans for the first time before the Gap, creating the council that governs Lajok in their capital, Moggok (which translates to The Howl in common).

Nanurjuk

Population: 140,000

Location: The Frozen forest of Wrove

Leaders: Softpaw Vaetild Heggsdottir and her Daughter Bera Heggsdottir

The Nanurjuk are the forresters of Lajok. Their bond with the planet has always been incredibly strong. Rather than living in caves or encampments on land, Nanurjuk make their homes in large tree houses that cleave to the side of large Jaja trees. Jaja trees are famed for their size, thick stonelike wood, and molten cores, which this clan uses to vent heat into their homes. These trees also excrete a sweet sap that is a delicacy across Lajok. It is used in candy, fermented into mead, and the base for sweet meat glazes.

The Nanurjuk nearly all have grey fur, allowing them to blend into their sprawling forest homeland. Their leader, the Softpaw Heggsdottir has fallen severely ill, and her young daughter is doing her best to lead the pack. Of all the packs, it is the Nanurjuk who mourn the loss of the dying world most, for they believe themselves to be the sacred caretakers of the planet’s natural splendor. For them, speaking of Lajok’s demise is the same as uttering the loss of a child.

The Nanurjuk have a strong distaste for conflict. When there are disputes or battles waged between the clans, the Nanurjuk have easily shut themselves away from their fellow vlaka and survived without contact for years. They rarely ask for help whether they need it or not, believing that Lajok will provide. One Nanurjuk myth states that on the day the galaxy finds true peace, Lajok’s star will burn bright again and the planet will be saved. The other clans believe they are dreamers and do not put much stock in this fairytale.

Anput

Population: 180,000

Location: The Zaramuz Crags, and the Chalan Downs

Leaders: Strong Claw Aki Karval

The Anput split away from the Yuka centuries ago - tired of their bravado and shows of strength. These industrious vlaka were the ones who learned not just to live off of the land, but to mine and sell ore and industrial products made from local resources at a premium. They are the most economically influential clan and they happily welcome any other clan defectors who can prove their intelligence and ingenuity. Their drills run on geothermal power, and their mines are mazes of complicated tubes and wiring. The Anput are not unaware that the vlaka are living on borrowed time due to their orbit around a dying star. They intend to salvage every piece of wealth Lajok can bestow before moving on to their next project.

Like the mountain Akna, the Anput heavily depend on a diet of protein rich mushrooms that grow in their mines. However, their industrial invasion of these natural habitats has caused much of the fauna in the deep to metamorphose into aggressive foes, collapsing tunnels and burning through wires with acidic secretions. While other clans might be horrified by the changes the Anput have wrought on their environment, the Anput understand their world is dying, and they would rather be rich today to buy their way to a happier life tomorrow.

Living in Lajok’s dark mines for centuries has certainly had an impact on Anput genetic development. Living without the need to use their eyes for long periods of time has made many Aput blind and after years of genetic mutation, the majority of Anput vlaka are born this way. Their ancestral line is the source for this genetic feature in so many Vlaka today. Other vlaka clans refer to the Anput as “deep diggers” and “paste suckers.” Such titles do not offend the Anput. What is such barking when you hold the keys to the planet’s economy?

Hitti

Population: 80,000

Location: Western Ice Shelf

Leaders: Chief Diver Freydis Olvirsson

The Hitti occupy the frozen ice shelf next to the equator. These vlaka are steeped in seafaring tradition, but their territory has been shrinking each year as the glaciers continue to expand, locking their resources beneath thick layers of unforgiving ice. The open sea is nearly a thing of history, but the Hitti remember the beginning. They were the first to sail Lajok’s seas and the earliest to dive deep below the surface to hunt the now-extinct magma whales.

Their response to the changing environment has been to create massive artificial tunnels that lead down to the geo-thermal vents on the ocean floor, where the ecosystem is strange and alien, and pressure is constant. They live in colonies of shielded underwater domes connected by technomantic tubes of magic and ice. They build their settlements in the sand, looking up towards the endless blue void and using bait to lure bioluminescent aquatic life to light the outside of these shells. Within the domes, they use their technomancy to light their settlements with colorful floating globes. Their undersea building projects have made them quite friendly with the Anput, who provided the drills and tools required to engineer a pathway down to the ocean floor and build such a magnificent feat. The Hitti still owe the Anput for their contribution, making their alliance to one another nearly unbreakable. If the Hitti lose their support, they will lose their way of life behind a wall of ice.

The Hitti have become master ship builders - utilizing their history of seafaring and modern technology to build vlakan spacefaring vessels for the Lajokian military. Each spacefaring vessel the Hitti build in their underwater naval yards makes a sacred maiden voyage from their frozen docking bay in the depths, up through the ocean, before bursting through the equatorial sea and into the atmosphere.

Aslag

Population: 150,000

Location: Plains of the Far Continent

Leaders: Bestwing Osk Hadda

The Aslag are nomadic, a trait that has cost them dearly as their winters expand. In recent years, these packs have been forced to settle into the plains of the far continent, their crystal wind gliders finally icing over. Directionless, many Aslag have left the planet. Seeing their way of life shattered, other remaining Aslag have fallen into lives of crime, sending raiding parties to the Solarian crystal caves in Yuka territory or hiring friends from off world to help them infiltrate the Hitti ship yards to steal vessels and build a smuggling network.

Once a proud tribe of warriors, who tamed and rode the ice-worms, they are now on the verge of collapse. Their new way of life is perhaps the most nihilistic and the most disappointing to the other tribes. Yes, the clans do fight from time to time, but Aslag’s actions threaten to rob the vlaka of the only thing that will bind them together when Lajok finally falls; their reputation for honor and fair dealing.

A small but determined contingent of Aslag have travelled to the capital of Moggok to collaborate with the vlakan government and strengthen the planet’s military. With nowhere to go, these Aslag have become convinced that striking out into the black will require the conquering of another world where the vlaka can make their new home.

“The Howl”

The Howl is a mystic Pre-Gap site near the equatorial ice shelf. It is the meeting place where all the clans hold conclave and make important decisions for Lajok and her people. The Howl is marked by a long winding stairway, cut directly into a glacial ridge, leading to a standing stone circle overlooking the crashing deep blue ocean below. Upon a large disc of thick aquamarine ice, there stands a carved stone slab for each clan and when each appointed leader takes their place, it is said to rise nearly 100 feet into the air. The place is blessed by Desna and while no one understands quite how it works, all vlaka leadership respects the arcane heritage of their people and mount The Howl periodically to negotiate planetwide disputes and matters of state. Some mystics believe that by removing the leaders from their ancestral territories, Desna brings the vlaka into closer harmony with each other, reminding them that though they are many, they are in fact one people in her divine gaze.

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