"Sons and daughters of the Blood Desert, inspire me as I sing, and let us paint this battlefield with the blood of our enemies." - Kamilha vai Rakavuu
There are many warrior subcultures amongst the gargoyles, including the Rohkei and the Gurahk. None, however, are as infamous nor proficient in the art of personal combat as the Rakavuu. The Rakavuu were originally descended from the self-exiled Gargoyles that served as the Grey Elves' entertainment, and departed their lands after the downfall of their forebears. A Gargoyle referred to in texts as simply "the mother" led the Gargoyles to the Augustgradian desert, a destination far from the Grey Elves as their fate was cemented. Through great hardship, these exiles evolved into a powerful warrior-based civilization that would sweep back through their ancestral homeland several centuries later, securing the greater whole of Augustgrad as the Gargoyles' personal demesne. They were allies of the Orisis and respected the Galar, but were looked on with scorn by the Solahn and had a bitter rivalry with the Rokhei.
Rakavuu Gargoyles are similar in many ways to the rest of their race - tall, lithe, humanoids with tapered ears and sharp eyes, tails, wings, and horns. However, generations of physical conflict combined with highly selective breeding has led to a number of distinct variations. Albinism runs rampant in the Rakavuu, and though many gargoyles have skin shades common to other clutches, many Rakavuu have skin as pale as alabaster. Males often have decidedly inhuman visages, often looking more like dragons than the elves they came from. Their horns trend towards being long and backward-swept, and their wings are narrower, with a higher arch. A Rakavuu's strength and reflexes are actually superior to that of most of their fellows - though they are not as able to throw themselves into adrenal surges as the Borkhoi, their movement and reaction speed is much higher as a rule - stories of Rakavuu warriors dodging shots from bows and hand cannons and kicking primitive grenades back into the enemy's ranks are common, and within the walls of the Rakavuu arena, a single Rakavuu Gladiatrix is more than a match for half-a-dozen lesser warriors. Rakavuu senses are also sharper, allowing them to see their enemies perfectly well even during pitch darkness. An unusual mutation of the Rakavuu is that they are acutely aware of all that goes on around them when resting. A curious side-effect is that spellcasters amongst the Rakavuu are virtually unheard-of. The magical abilities common to the Gargoyles have atrophied within this clutch, partly due to their focus on physical athleticism, and partly due to their selective breeding. The rare Rakavuu capable of using magic is invariably secreted away by the Broodqueens, too valuable to risk the loss of amongst the rabble.
Clutch Name Meaning: Of the Crimson-Stained Sands
Regalia Colors: Red, Black
Broodqueen: Akila vai Rakavuu
Focus: Combat (Especially personal combat), Slaves, Literature, Weapons
Symbol: A burning flame, surrounding a Kesh thorn.
A number of distinct elements exist in Rakavuu psychology which informs how they conduct themselves, not just on the battlefield but in everyday life as well. Unsurprisingly the concept of "might makes right" features prominently, along with the view that the Grey Elven society they survived was a "lost paradise" inhabited by barbarians, a den of corruption for whom the Grey Elves' noble houses are to blame for their culpability.
Likewise is the belief that, as the warrior descendants of the Grey Elves, theirs is the true path of a gargoyle warrior, and any other viewpoint is incorrect - the very source of their endless bickering with the Borkhoi. The combination of being a warrior culture but heavily enforcing concepts of honor is largely what has kept the Rakavuu culture from imploding outright. As a whole, the Rakavuu adhere to a fairly strict honor system, especially for their Gladiatrixes and Broodqueens, where it is encapsulated in one of the only actual laws the Rakavuu hold dear. While some individual clutches are far more strict and conservative than others in their interpretation of this honor, all Rakavuu clutches follow this concept of honor to some extent. Among other things, this code exhorts personal ability and efficiency above all. It formalizes most combats and many decision-making processes into a set of rituals - rituals to gain rank, rituals to claim a resource to claim property held by another, and trials to refute the order of a ruling body or superior. It encourages proxy battles and token fights in the form of a bidding process and often duels to minimize actual fighting, whilst emphasizing the combat prowess of individuals. Broodqueens, especially, discourage any involvement of noncombatants in combat, and strongly dislike wasting useful resources such as food or water supplies in such contests.
The Rakavuu concept of single combat is central to their culture, and the Arena features prominently in their rites. The most well-known such ritual is the Rite of Position, where a lower-born Gargoyle or one from a non-Rakavuu clutch desires to be recognized by the warriors and Broodqueen of the Rakavuu. In her youth, Kalarisis vai Asoraius, the broodqueen of the Asoraius clutch, once participated in such a trial to prove her worth and prowess to the Rakavuu; her showing in the Arena was sufficient to earn her meeting with the Rakavuu Broodqueen and be treated as an equal. Promotions in the Rakavuu heirarchy are handled, likewise, with ritual challenges. It was impossible for many clutches to keep up with how often Rakavuu mid-level nobles and warriors changed in status, save for the ever-present constant of the Broodqueen herself and her vassals.
This "honorable" mindset permeates the other strata of Rakavuu society - in spite of few laws, Rakavuu gargoyles trend to be extremely honest and true to their word. If a Rakavuu merchant says he will keep his word, he will do it, as not keeping one's word not only slights his personal honor, but those of the Rakavuu themselves (though doubtlessly the Rakavuu's brutal enforcers played a role in this honesty). Though they have an honest nature, and may come across as trusting, it's a fool's gambit to believe the Rakavuu are gullible - the Rakavuu are positively Machiavellian in their dealings and will do their best to keep to the letter of an agreement if not its spirit.
Rakavuu warriors eschew traditional marriages, and are expected to breed only with other warriors - specifically, ones of exceptional quality. Kamilha vai Rakavuu, arguably the most infamous Rakavuu broodqueen, was known to have had countless mates from almost every clutch - all strong warriors from each. She was known to only take excessively powerful warriors as consorts, though she had been known to dally with lesser ones.
The Rakavuu were well-known for a tendency to take slaves. Gargoyles from other clutches captured by the Rakavuu are considered more indentured servants than slaves, released after a period of time in service to the Rakavuu, at which time they were considered by the Rakavuu to be part of their clutch (Warriors, fittingly-enough, were highly-sought after). Other races captured by the Rakavuu fared far worse - Both Arachne and Rakshasa captives were often funneled into the Arena for both entertainment and practice for the Rakavuu Gladiatrixes, and likewise used for trials of position. Human and Naga slaves were rare prizes for the Rakavuu, but if anything they were both mercurial and harsh masters. This played heavily into the downfall of the Rakavuu, as their cruelty made it easy for the Rakshasa to garner allies against them. One Arachne Shaman, White Shroud, was subjected to a number of treatments by the Sethys to boost her fertility and increase how quickly her eggs hatched, at the cost of a great many of her eggs failing to come to term.
After the dissolution of the society of the Grey Elves, the Gargoyles that would become the Rakavuu abandoned their original cause, as those who would become the Borkhoi spent almost 3 years working things out between the noble houses of the Grey elves in an ultimately-fruitless attempt to salvage the situation. It was the Gargoyles that would become the Rakavuu that argued the need to depart from their original homelands, living in exile and away from the fires of war that were consuming it. There, the Gargoyles tried to forge life as they knew it anew, and create a new society in exile. The early years were tough - an estimated 40% of the original Gargoyle population perished due to the harsh environment and a host of new diseases - but within a decade prosperity had taken hold and the power and influence of the clutches was spreading.
Originally serving as gladiators for the Grey Elves' entertainment, the Rakavuu were born-and-bred natural fighters, and when the new society of the Gargoyles began to take shape, they found themselves at odds with the Rokhei, who similarly had a martial bend. Quickly, the two clutches were established as having similar, but oppositional purposes; the Rokhei serving as the shield and the Rakavuu as the sword.