Elusive and strange, resolute in their fervor, the Onakawa dwell where others can only dream of walking, high above the world in the mist-shrouded heights. They are deeply spiritual, at one with their jungle homes, unfriendly to outsiders. But most of all, the Onakawa are humble. The Sundering all but broke them and they are still recovering from the horror of those terrible years. Now, under the guidance of Old Mother and Old Father, shamans of great age and wisdom, the Onakawa prosper. With the wisdom of the Council of Elders, they thrive from day to day. With the spirits watching over them, they are at peace.
The Onakawa are tall, far taller than any other people on Nupoanqa, with dark brown or grey skin, marked with the pale patterns known as spirit marks. Until the Rites of Adulthood have been taken, all Onakawa wear their hair long and loose. Once an adult, many wear it in tight braids against the skin, interweaving plants, feather and bone, whilst the others shave the hair and coat their heads in blessed ahnake’e to prevent regrowth. Facial hair is not worn, and if a man shows sign of beard growth he will apply ahnake’e. Clothing is commonly close-fitting leather and cloth, for ease of movement in the canopy; looser, flowing garments are reserved for ceremonies.
The Sundering all but destroyed the Onakawa, in spirit as much as in body. As the world burned, their cries of despair rang through the mountains and the valleys. In the destruction that was wrought the Onakawa saw their own failings. Surely they had failed the spirits that had guided them so lovingly. Surely this awful cataclysm was a test, a judgment. And so they hardened their hearts. No longer would they be the quiet caretakers of the green and gold beneath the boughs. Now they would be warriors, crusaders determined to keep the outlander at bay. None would be permitted into their forests to pillage and plunder her riches. And so, with their arts of camouflage the Onakawa move unseen between the trees. With poisoned dart they strike like assassins and vanish. With ease and grace they disappear aloft, where none can follow. Now the outlander fears their name, and dreads the endless jungle.
Come then, if you dare, into this verdant world. Walk with the Onakawa and learn their ways, the ways of the spirits and the land, of beast and bough and bower. Dip your arrows in the toxins that are Nupoanqa's gift and see your enemy die in frothing madness from their touch. Hold the riches of the forest in your hand and know that no other place on Caerus is so blessed. And lift yourself into the swaying canopy and gaze out at a sea of green and know that you are home at last.
The original people of Nupoanqa, the Onakawa are the most spiritual of the tribes, and consider themselves the chosen of the great spirits. From the moment of their birth to the instant of their death and into the undiscovered country beyond, they are at one with the living world of the forest. Spirituality is at once intensely personal and completely shared – the spirits are everywhere.
Beyond this never-ending dance with the spirits, the Onakawa are a tribal theocracy – they are ruled by a pair of elder shamans and this infuses their society with a deep spirituality. Decisions are made for the Onakawa as a whole based on the instructions of the spirits, and none forget it. To court the wrath of the spirits is to invite disaster for the Onakawa. At the heart of this belief is the conviction that the Onakawa were to blame for the Sundering, that it was a punishment from the spirits for their failings. The horror this awoke in Onakawa hearts has not left them and it drives their fervor to remain evermore close to their guardians and guides.
The Onakawa see themselves as the land’s custodians, keeping the balance with a bloody fervor directed by their shamans. There is no hereditary monarch to split loyalties here. Instead, their leaders are chosen by the spirit-world at the rites to adulthood – one male, one female – in balance to guide the people. They are a matriarchal society at heart, and the female of this pair is revered as the Old Mother. Along with this pair, a council of elder shamans directs the Onakawa tribes. This influence extends to their cousins, the Senoka of the river delta, and together these twin peoples share an unwritten destiny, scribed by unseen hands.