Characters:Factions:Keepers of the Yeti Spirit
The Order of the Keepers calls itself, officially, the Keepers of the Spirit of the Yeti. That name is the Manish rendering of their Half-Elvish name. Human adherents, particularly those with well-developed senses of humor, are more florid about naming the Order. Other names include "The Order of the Mystic Yeti", "The Keepers of the Mystic Spirit", "The Children of the Yeti's Spirit", and the most common of the florid appelations: "The Blessed Order of the Children and the Keepers of the Sacred Spirit of the Mystic Yeti." This final appelation was invented by a Human abbot now known as Mithel the Laughing.
All proper names for the Order include the word Spirit, when referencing the Yeti. Thus, "The Order of the Keepers of the Yeti" is a misnomer because it implies that yetis are physically kept by the order. Nothing could be farther from the truth. (The 'zoo' is a purely, and disgustingly, Human invention, which rural Half-Elves deplore.) The Order can only be found to be in 'possession' of a yeti when a young yeti is found in the wild and is either sick or injured. Then, the Order takes the creature in, seeks to restore it to health, and then releases it again.
The behavior of the Order is difficult to classify. Its members can be either monastic or itinerant, as well as either shamanic or philosophical in their pursuit of the Yeti's mystic traits. There are those like Rhayne Frostbloom who pursue the yeti in art and are not full official members of the Order despite the fact that they worship the yeti.
Shamanic 'students', as members of the Order call themselves, are mostly likely to be found in the wild. They view the yeti as a totem animal and invoke its power when it is needed. Many of the Half-Elvish students choose this path, or the path of the artist. Both of these paths allow Half-Elvish folk to express their magickal abilities and creativity. Yeti shamans are sometimes found in the company of Rangers. The two Orders have similar ways of viewing the world, the woods, and their duties in it.
Human members of the Order tend toward a philosophical and metaphysical study of the yeti. Because Humans have little or no control over the deep currents of the world, they focus instead on cultivating those qualities which they attribute to the yeti. The disciplines studied by Human yetins are varied and include woodcraft, unarmed combat, physical and mental strength, moral virtue, visual and performed art, herb lore, and singing. Singing, however, is not actually thought to be an ability of the Yeti. It is interpolated from Half-Elvish practice and very common for the Yetins of both races. The same can also be said of Rangers. Singing is a skill for which the wise traveller should be watchful. A Human who has mastered his own voice and associates readily with Half-Elves is probably a Ranger, a Yetin, or both.
Like many monastic orders, the Keepers keep to a hierarchy of rank and responsibility. However, because the Keepers are both monastic and itinerant by turns, their hierarchy is typically loose in practice. There are distinct ranks within the Order and the Lineage of Malad, its spiritual descendant.
At the highest level stand regional Priors. These Priors have authority over the abbeys and shrines int their areas. Abbots are the spiritual heads and day-to-day administrators of individual abbeys. Shrines are typically overseen by a Chorister or Loremaster. In abbeys, the Choristers direct and enhanced the artistic endeavors of all those residing in their abbeys and any Artisans residing on their own means nearby. Like Choristers, Loremasters oversee the educational and scholarly pursuits of the abbey's residents and frequent visitors. Of course, like all other Yetins, both Choristers and Loremasters can be either itinerant or monastic in their emulation of the Yeti. Under the Choristers and Loremasters, respectively are Artisans and Students. These terms are sometimes interchangeable, particularly in the case of uninitiated yeti worshipers. New, fully initiated members of the order are called Novices.
Abbey of Shining Mist
The Forestkeeper ("Ranger") and Yetin Orders have many common traits. Both are slow to bring members into the Order and slower still allow former members to return once they have left. Both orders view any person who has left once as being likely to leave again and therefore untrustworthy. Both Orders maintain and cultivate an air of secrecy and mystery. Rangers do this by retaining their wilderness habits even in 'civilization'. The Yetins achieve the same end by keeping silent and listening far more often than they speak.
The Orders only relax this tendency to secrecy and distrust of former members when the other Order is concerned. The leaders of both understand that there are strong similarities between the guiding principles of the Yetins and Rangers. Therefore, a Yetin-turned-Ranger or Ranger-turned-Yetin, rather than being distrusted, is well-respected by both Orders. Itinerant Yetins are allowed, and in times of crisis actively encouraged, to band together with the Rangers. Thus it is possible for a Half-Elvish Yetin shaman to travel with a band of Rangers, or for a Human Yetin to return to 'civilization' as an artisan while acting as a point of contact for passing Rangers. There is a special place in both Orders for Maladris Rangers, who are understandably both Yetins and Forestkeepers.
As with the Rangers, both Humans and Half-Elves can rise to prominence within the Order. There are no racial restrictions on the ranks of Abbots, Prioresses, and Choir Masters, and Lorekeepers. Half-Elvish members are treated equitably by each other, as one would expect, and with special reverence by Human members, especially younger or novice members. From the Half-Elvish perspective, a Human proves his or her mettle simply by remaining in the Order. Neither Order is suited for the average Human. The Yetins make extraordinary mental demands of Humans, while a Ranger's duties tries the physical endurance of a Human. Both Orders have instituted a trying novitiate. Those who chose to leave the Order at the end of this period are not held in scorn. Often, they turn to related fields of work and artisanry. Some of the best Human bards and most dedicated, capable town guards are Yetins or Rangers who did not pass the novitiate. Half-Elvish students of the Yeti often become artists or shamans of other animals if they do not choose to become full members of the Order. Like Human half-rangers, Half-Elvishfolk with Ranger training tend to guard settlements. Unlike Humans, however, they might also become wilderness guides.
Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to being a member of either Order. Most of these disadvantages stem from racial differences and misunderstanding. Elves tend to view both Orders with scorn. High-born Elves are especially likely to have a low opinion of both. To Elven artisans, Half-Elvish Yetin artists seem like amateurs, though they have the good grace not to copy Elven art, being too busy dedicating 'inferior' art to their Yetis. Human Yeti artists are held in open disdain, since their 'nearly non-existent' talents are only elevated to the level of mediocrity. The Elvish nobility has a similar view of non-Elvish Rangers. Half-Elvish Rangers are better appreciated and understood, since the two Orders came into being separately and for different reasons. Elvish Rangers do not view the Half-Elvish Rangers as thieves of an idea. Human Rangers, however, are accorded the same respect that is given to a child who is armed with a wooden sword and playing at soldiery. The Elvish word for a Half-Elvish ranger is a form of their word for an Elvish Ranger-in-Training. Human Rangers are referred to as "children".
The unflattering view of Rangers and Yetins is not confined to the Elvish race. Humans also tend to distrust the two Orders. Half-Elves are seen as too strange for trust. Humans are often viewed as either too wild, too unkempt, or too pretentious to be trustworthy. Only the Dwarves do not hold an especially negative view of Rangers or Yetins. They tend to be wholly ignorant of the existence of the Orders.
One of the more noteworthy sects within the Yetin order is called the Lineage of Malad. The Maladrim, or Children of Malad, are werebeasts of predominately Human ancestry. They follow the example of their founder Malad Ursan in drawing upon the wisdom the Yetis and the mercy of the Powers to cope with their bestial tendencies. Several of the Yetins at the Abbey of Shining Mist are also Maladrim. Lesteph Brighteyes and Lursan Waterpaw are among them.