It is fabled that, in the beginning, our world was one that lacked life.
True, it still bore its large, abundant forests, and deep, vexed seas, but amongst the trees, no men ran, and in the ocean, no fish swam either. It was the perfect balance, but had no real life of itself to sustain.
However, separated from this world by a thin veil, there was a place teaming with life of all kinds: The Spirit World.
This was a world filled with souls, born from the energies of the universe. They knew all, and saw that, whilst their world was crowded, ours was empty.
Legend dictates that, in their wisdom, many spirits travelled through the veil into our world, effectively destroying the barrier between them in the process, and blessing Earth with the gift of life.
For centuries, all was peaceful. Spirits who came here, became one with the Earth, and evolved into new life: Man.
Man worked together with its spirit kin for the longest time. Together, they built settlements, and learned to survive in their new world, whilst generally establishing a balance with nature.
Those that didn’t become human, soon became part of that balance themselves. They became the trees, the mountains, the oceans, and every animal that inhabited them.
This transformation ensured man’s alignment to nature, however, the amount of spirits that were leaving the spirit world meant that eventually, the other world began to grow short in numbers.
This proved to be a problem, as nature began to slow in its evolution, and the spirits grew more anxious by the day.
However, when the first man died, he returned to the spirit world, and thus established the circle of living, otherwise known as “The Dao”.
The Dao would dictate that whatever lived, would die, and whatever died, would live again. The spirit world was an afterlife, but not a permanent one. They could always re-enter the world of man, although, they would never be truly human again.
This was the order for hundreds of years, and the world soon developed into a flourishing place of peace and brotherhood.
However, as time passed, man got too accustomed to the spirits doing their work for them, and began to lose touch with their own spiritual roots.
As a result, every new generation grew more distant from spirits, until, eventually, nobody could even see them anymore.
Less than one hundred years later, they became a myth, and the balance was disturbed.
This caused the gate between worlds to close. Now, Spirits could travel, but no longer communicate, and man themselves could not speak nor travel with their spirit brethren.
This lack of communication meant man had no moral compass, and nothing to look up to.
It didn’t take long until they descended into barbarianism.
Without the seemingly infinite knowledge of the spirits, and the wisdom of their elders, they began to fight wars, and empires began to rise and fall. It seemed as though man would be its own downfall… until the Shamans arrived.
The unbalance between the worlds meant cosmic storms would occur regularly throughout the year. These storms would contain the very essence of nature and life, and often passed between both worlds before settling on earth.
The effects of these storms were random. Some would cause crops to wither and die, others would purify toxic water. For the longest time, people who believed in the spirits of old thought these storms were to punish them, but they could never have been more wrong.
From these storms, there was born not chaos, but balance.
Shamans do not have parents. They’re born in the heart of the storms, the perfect balance of human and spirit. They embody the very essence of the Dao- And they form the bridge between the Spirit world and our own.
Shamans are often delivered by the spirits onto the doorsteps of other Shaman clans, and have, for centuries, existed to keep the balance.
It is now accepted that spirits exist, and that only the Shamans may communicate with them. And, as Shamans are not in short supply, but rather, prosper now that society has accepted both them and their history, they are viewed as useful by many, and help people in their travels.
But this does not mean that every Shaman is good.
As, since the very first generation of Shamans, there has always been The Duel, a gathering that occurs every ten years, where Shamans battle it out in a variety of huge, ancient arenas left behind by the spirits in order to win The Dao Prize, an ancient and mysterious prize that only the victor can access.
There’s just one problem with that. Nobody has ever won.
Whenever the last battle has come about, it’s always been interrupted by the ancient being known only as The Spirit King.
It’s been this way for thousands of years, and still, Shaman try, in the hopes of being deemed worthy enough to win this mysterious prize.
But, as not all Shaman are good, not everybody abides by the honour system of this gathering.
It’s said that the Shaman of old, in an attempt to defeat The Spirit King and claim the prize, took the guardian spirits of their fallen enemies, and used them to craft a set of armour and weapons so powerful that the full set could have destroyed worlds.
These were not good Shaman, however, and stole many of the guardian spirits through unfair tactics and dirty fighting.
This armour could never have been replicated, as the art of turning spirits into armour has long since been lost to Shaman kind, destroyed by the sages who discovered the armour, and took it by force from the Shamans who’d forged it.
The armour itself, however, could not be destroyed, and thus, was spread throughout the world, given to trustworthy Shaman clans to watch over and protect in pieces.
These pieces alone provided advantages that normal Shamans would not have, and threatened to overthrow The Spirit King, but were never used in battle… until now.
In our modern world, not all is well.
Although Shamans have been leading the world into enlightenment, darker forces are at work in attempt to undermine this effort.
Some Shamans, believing that ‘Mortals’ were beneath them, founded the Brotherhood of Daolocum, and swore to track down these pieces of armour in order to assemble the suit, and win The Dao Prize to uproot the balance of the world, and put the ‘Mortals’ in their ‘rightful places’ beneath Shaman kind.
This proved to be easier than they thought, as many armour bearers agreed with the Daolocum, and agreed to disclose the location of the other bearers.
This resulted in what became known as the ‘Daolocum cleansing’, in which the villages of most armour bearing clans were burnt down, and the pieces were entrusted to their youngest, most able-bodied Shaman. These Shaman were told to go and win The Dao Prize, or help the other bearers do it, so that they could use the power to put an end to the Daolocum, who, with their acquired armour pieces, were now too powerful for the elder Shamans to take down.
These bearers will have been childhood friends, raised around each other intentionally to instil a feeling of trust and reliability, before being separated.
We join our Shamans on the long road to The Duel, fighting the Daolocum and helping any spirits and villagers they can along the way.
That is, unless your loyalties lie elsewhere…