First and foremost this needs to be said, but the Riven are essentially originated as a group of Wildkin who took to worshipping a mysterious largely unknown guardian spirit instead of their normal patron spirits, and were essentially run off from their home turf for the rumors swirling around them. They’ve now set up shop right on the main stage of Verdict, and they’ve had some time to get established.
There are whispers of dark magics practiced in their neck of the woods, though to the tribals themselves it is nothing but shamanistic magic empowered by their guardian spirit. The ideal is for Riven Ark to be a place for those who wish for a more untamed, darker ( and not to mention much smaller scale) take on a Nature based faction.
History of Riven Ark
Originating in the vast untamed forests of Rhyst, the tribe had always been relatively small and any expansion over the years was incredibly slow. Though, despite this fact, few rivaling neighbor tribes would dare pick on a seemingly weaker enemy, much thanks to the rumors circulating of the mysticism and their relatively unknown to masses deity. Myths and legends of shamans cursing warriors for their entire lives permeate the wilds that various Wildkin tribes occupy. Many of those lead back to the Riven Ark. ‘Riven Ark’ itself was a fairly on the nose reference to their origins, the ship that they sailed on fleeing religious persecution having been split in half by the rocks, and the remaining material stripped and used to form some of the first buildings of the settlement. However the name ‘Riven’ was not just in reference to the fate of their poor ship carrying a dozen destitute Wildkin to their new home, it was also in reference to their peculiar dualistic culture.
They’ve always been few in number comparatively, but they have grown much larger than the paltry dozen they started with, becoming a tribe with numbers in the hundreds- bolstered by their grim reputation and secretive magicks that make most wary of challenging them. The reason for their low population can be attributed to their ambitious and cutthroat ways, even amongst fellow tribesmen, and the strange guardian they worship known as ‘The Uncrowned King’ to outsiders, or ‘The Enshrouded Jaguar’ amongst their own people. Normally, felinid type Wildkin would be under the purview of the Golden Lion, however it seems that the Enshrouded Jaguar has supplanted them in this small community.
While the exact origins of his worship are unknown, it is said that long ago the two founding members of what would become Riven Ark made contact with the Jaguar 'at the place where the sky is truly empty'. The founders now are referred to by title rather than name, as those have been lost to time. 'Claw' and 'Cloak'. Claw being blessed with the Jaguars might, and Cloak being gifted the Jaguars cunning.
It's unclear whether these two truly existed or if it is simply a fabled origin story, but what is indubitably true is the impact it's had on their culture. The Jaguar is often unwilling or unable to share any insight on this as well, as they most often communicate via dream and vision, their messages oft left to interpretation.
Culture of Riven Ark
Riven Ark is a strange mix of tribalistic tradition and disturbingly metropolitan politics and intrigue. While the Jaguar encourages their followers to be strong, it also equally encourages them to be crafty and to scheme against their enemies, and even against each other. The tribe is ruled by a council of elders nominated by the people, but the system is far from democratic. It is inherently understood, accepted, and embraced that the system is corrupt and that playing fair will only get you used. The system as it stands is designed so only the most driven and most intelligent and strong rose to the top, either through the systematic elimination of their competitors, or through more subtle schemes.
The intricacies of their politics are so machiavellian and vague that it's almost impenetrable by outsiders. Even on the more civilian level this duplicity and deceit is present, common merchants and traders within the settlement engaging in economic war with each other, farmers using tricks and pageantry to sell their bad harvest for more than it's worth, and other such scenes are common...but also celebrated. Riven Ark is a warrior culture, but the difference is that 'battle' is not limited to crossed steel, and even these mental games and politics are considered a form of 'battle'. So while the society of Riven Ark is by all means corrupt... nobody cares, for these machiavellian games and bloody duels for supremacy are why they live to begin with.
But even in such a world there needs to be trust, as even the most simple forms of business cannot occur without some measure of professional trust, to say nothing of the world of politics. In a world where your friend and neighbor are both openly AND secretly scheming with and against you, there needs to be one person you know you can trust absolutely.
Claw and Cloak
And this is where Bondmates come into play. A Bondmate is a lover, friend, blood brother, family member, any sort of bond you can think of- the only difference being that you only have a single Bondmate, and that relationship is predicated on the fact that you know you both trust each other absolutely. Bondmates will fight for each other, listen to each other, be open and honest with each other, all the things that could leave you vulnerable to exploitation by others. The relationship of Bondmates and the terms of such a contract is largely up to the parties involved, but most often both parties will fill a role.The role of 'Claw' and the role of 'Cloak'. The Claw is the person in the relationship who handles matters of battle and action, and could be considered a sort of agent. Cloak by contrast handles matters of politics and navigating social spheres, and could be considered the voice of wisdom. Claw holds physical, visceral power, and Cloak holds societal power.
While these dynamics are somewhat flexible, most Bondmates settle into this type of relationship as it most closely mirrors that of their own founders. Gender and age have no real impact on who is able to fill these roles either, and it is solely based on what a person has a greater talent for between the two. Bondmates are almost viewed as a single entity, with both of them moving up and down the metaphorical totem pole with each other. This generally means making an enemy of one will almost undoubtedly make an enemy of the other. This, combined with the fact that one is competing for martial supremacy, and the other for societal control, means that the Bondmates are noncompeting and both benefit from the relationship. Forging a pact with someone in this fashion is no simple matter, and it requires a lot of trust from both parties going into it. The level of commitment is often equivalent to that of marriage in other societies, and as such you actually aren't allowed to have an 'official' Bondmate until you become of age.
Similarly, while there are channels in place to dissolve a pact between two people... it is often discouraged. Even more discouraged however is the act of betraying one's Bondmate, an act so heinous that even in this society of lies one will become branded forever as a Bond Breaker and banished or even killed. The nature of a Bondmate is the one thing that is held sacred here, and desecrating that is the one crime that will not be tolerated under any circumstance.
The Enshrouded Jaguar shall receive His crown in the lands of the mysterious island, and usher the people into a new age. That is what the elders have shared from their visions with the rest of the tribes, and so a decently-sized group has been sent out to Sarea in order to settle in and ensure that their patron's spirit will is followed. What exactly that entails, however, has been left vague...
Credit to Neo as the writer, and Borya for the concept