In the beginning was Olorun, the Owner of the Sky, and he looked down from his palace and saw the emptiness of the world which was only sky, and void, and water. So he sent his younger son, Obatala, the maker, to fashion the world and fill it with all manner of creatures. He had his older son, Orunmila, the diviner, fashion it so that it ran smoothly and that those who practiced the magic of the future could glimpse its functioning. When all that was done, Olorun sent Eshu, his linguist and messenger, to go down and start collecting sacrifices for him in return for having made everything possible.
Eshu, who had authority over roads and gateways, was only too glad to do so and he loved to cause mischief for those who didn't give him the proper respect. He was neither good nor evil but only himself; playing tricks because it was his way. The good learned, the wicked suffered, but even that didn't matter to Eshu because he was just a servant of Olorun and he was happy with that.
As Eshu travelled he sired children (that's his way too) and while they were only partly divine, they shared their father's laughter and view of the world as well as some of his power. Restless souls they, too, took to the roads to find their father; bringing chance and adventure as the went. Some wanted to be like Eshu and so they taught and punished and explored. They were the first of the Ojo: The followers of life, daylight, and destiny. One might consider them Seelie. Others were mad at their father for leaving them and so they stole, told lies, and played mean tricks on people. They became the Iku: The followers of death, darkness, and randomness. One might consider them Unseelie. There were so many of these children that people began to think of them as Eshu himself and started worshipping them instead of Eshu himself.
Of course Eshu heard of all this and was full of anger that his name had been stolen and so came to the world to investigate. When he saw what his children were doing, though, he laughed and forgot his wrath. His children had learned their lessons well and if the humans had tricked themselves, well, that was their problem. But he had to punish his children some way because they still had stolen his name, wickedly or not. If he didn't, why, then all the names of creation could be stolen and everything would be returned to emptiness.
He thought for days and nights until he had the punishment just right then called all his children to him. One group of them, though, fearing punishment, fled into hiding and preying upon the weak to keep themselves alive. These cowards became the first aithu. They didn't hear the words of Eshu. And what did Eshu tell his children? A great and powerful secret, the first hidden lore the Tribe was entrusted to keep. From that day forward they became the Elegbara, the chosen children of Elegba Eshu the Powerful Knife, keepers of his sacred places and his messengers to the world. He solemnly commended them to follow his footsteps well; wandering the roads, learning secrets, and testing those they came across. And with that he blessed them and kissed each one to seal his magic in them, then flew into the sky laughing.
While a few of the Elegbara stayed together to speak of the matters that concerned them all, most scattered again. There was too much to see and do to rest and think of such things. They sought the edge of the world. Fantastic tales began following them because they feared nothing and took any risk offered them, and so the tales of Eshu and his deeds grew bigger and wilder. The few who stayed became rulers of their lands, bonding with them, learning their secrets, and tending the sacred places. These guardians still remain, watching over the Tribe, keeping the hearth fires burning. They alone remain true to the pure bloodline of Eshu and have sacrificed the freedom of the trails to preserve the heritage of the eshu. These are the oba.
Every now and then over the last millennium or so, a non-eshu visitor to the eshu ancestral lands would find themselves in the court of a mighty caliph or matriarch with astounding beauty and words of power and authority. They seemed like the eshu they knew but different. Plus the normally defiant eshu treated them with great deference close to servitude. Out of their presence the Elegbara were themselves again and refused to speak about the encounter or mumbling something about the rising sun giving hope and such visits giving direction.
This lack of understanding on the part of the tribes is purposeful. The Elegbara are no fools and if they have an advantage they'll hang on to it as long as they can. The oba are simply too rare and important to make their presence public lest enemies seek to target them for destruction. They are the beating heart of the Tribe, the last pure bloodline descended from the Powerful Knife himself. They hold the Tribe's most sacred responsibilities - guarding the lands they can still call home and keeping the Elegbara from drifting apart by being leaders and spiritual guides. A Concordian eshu may never meet one in his or her life or even learn they exist but they all feel their presence in their hearts and when one dies, the whole Tribe knows it. Even the Iku recognize them, in some way, as rulers of their kind and that alone should tell skeptics how important they are.
Young oba are nearly indistinguishable from regular eshu. Only their eyes tell the difference: flecked with Gold for those born Ojo and with Silver for the Iku. Most are born into noble families and raised toward the thrones they will assume, learning courtly arts of war, politics, and leadership. An increasing number are born in less fortunate circumstances, though, and must endure years of deprivation and dodging Banality until their true nature shines through. They are legendary hell-raisers as Childlings and Wilders, sharing the eshu love of adventure and dares, but as they age they feel a calling to return to the lands of their ancestors and undergo the secret rites of rulership to emerge in their full birthright as leaders and spiritual guides.
Oba organization is loose at best. There are only about three dozen of them with titles, for one thing, and the majority of their time is taken up with overseeing the daily needs of their lands, both mundane and chimerical. The laws they enforce depend on whether they are Ojo or Iku but all are widely respected for their wisdom, fairness, and hospitality. They gladly take in fellow Elegbara who need help, provided they don't mind doing a little housework.
Twice a year they all gather in council secretly to discuss matters of importance to the Tribe as a whole. This meeting can last up to two weeks depending on how much must be discussed or long it takes to debate. When done, a simple vote decides the course of action or words of wisdom they wish to pass on to the Elegbara and trusted runners are dispatched to spread the word all over the world.
The oba are careful to wrap these commands in stories or lore so that eavesdroppers are unaware of what is being said. All eshu instinctively recognize that what they are hearing is important though they may not know what if they are unaware of the oba. They are not obliged to heed these words but even the most rebellious Iku will give them serious thought. They are the ancestral trust of the Tribe speaking and their opinion carries weight.
Until they take on the mantle of leadership, the oba look like their eshu cousins: tall, slender, graceful, pointed ears and enchanting voices. After the ritual, though, these features sharpen to perfection, making them almost painful to behold in their fae aspect. Their eyes, once merely speckled with gold or silver, become softly shining orbs, like suns or moons. This radiance changes with mood; growing brighter when angry or excited, and dimming to a contented glow when happy or at peace. Some dress lavishly, adorning themselves with wealth, but most prefer to wear the common dress of their land with a few small changes to show their station. However they dress, though, no one mistakes the oba for commoners. Their very posture suggests their lineage, a noble line extending back to the dawn of time. Due to the purity of their bloodline, all oba are of pure African, Indian, or Middle Eastern stock.
Birthrights & Frailties
- Affinity: Scene
- Tale Craft - This is identical to the birthright of the eshu. Their tales hold great weight and impart wisdom to the Tribe.
- Spirit Pathways - This birthright is identical to the eshu birthright and is a reflection of their early years of freedom before settling down into responsibility. When the oba assumes a title, this birthright is immediately lost and replaced with a new birthright.
- Mantle of the Orishas - Identical to the sidhe Birthright, Awe and Beauty. Only oba who have lawfully claimed a title and preside over territory recognized by their fellows receive this Birthright.
Until then, they are considered too immature and untested to receive the glory of this power, regardless of what their actual age and life experience might be. When oba are found eligible, this Birthright is activated as part of the secret ceremonies required for coronation.
Oba cannot bond with lands outside of Africa, India or the Middle East; all attemps to claim lands elsewhere have failed, and in one instance even resulted in the death of the oba as the very earth rebelled and swallowed her whole. For that reason, oba will rarely, if ever, be found outside these lands except in the most extreme circumstances.
Oba can never botch rolls involving Empathy or Leadership.
- Reckless - This frailty is identical to the Eshu Frailty. It is immediately and forever lost when the oba assumes a title and is replaced by a new frailty.
- Native Soil - Oba are literally tied to the lands they love. Once a title is assumed they are bonded to their land and cannot leave it or its Near Dreaming counterpart for long. If they do they become sickly and eventually waste away to nothing. This does not include traveling to the Far or Deep Dreamings, though they are still loathe to leave their lands for long and will not unless the need is truly great. They may only leave their lands for up to one full cycle of the moon before they start to lose health levels at the rate of one per day. This loss cannot be healed by any means until they are returned to their land. Plus, outside their land they receive a +1 difficulty to all rolls because of constant pain and distraction.