|Plural:||Akashic Brothers, Akashic Brotherhood|
|Faction:||Council of Nine Mystic Traditions|
A return to simplicity lies at the heart of the Brotherhood's beliefs. Humans clutter up their lives with unnecessary and extraneous objects and desires. How can one understand the natural harmony of the universe by trying to grasp it, own it or control it? The natural place for every individual — the role of Dharma — is apparent when one is not blinded by the illusions of greed, desire and power. The exercises of living give a soul the chance to experience the universe in manifold forms, and so the individual should take this opportunity to gain insight by developing a harmony with the All. Each life is just a step on the greater wheel of Drahma until the individual releases himself from the chains that he forged with his own beliefs and desires.
The philosophical and historic roots of the Akashic Brotherhood lie in the beginning times when all people lived in harmony. The first Akashics learned their skill in Do from Dragon and Phoenix, and they disciplined their bodies and their minds through the balance of movement and stillness. As the earth turned and more people came to live near the All, the All fractured and became dissonant. The balance between mind and body, motion and stillness, was disturbed, and the ones who would become Akashic Brothers retreated into mountains, caves and forests to continue their study of balance through Do. Martial arts and exercises perfected the body while rigorous disciplines, chants and prayers cleansed the mind.
With the rise of Death magic in India, the Brotherhood was forced to intervene. The Brotherhood did not approve of mages who took into their own hands the power over life and death, and the Brotherhood warred against the death mages — who would later become the Euthanatos — in the Himalayan War. The war left both Traditions scarred, although neither has entirely forgiven the other for the centuries of bloodshed, they have learned from each other. Neither Tradition (as a whole) jumps quickly into conflict.
Dark Ages Edit
As the spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto and similar religions spread across Asia, the Brotherhood followed. The Shaolin monasteries of China housed their members, as did the mountain-dwelling hermits of Japan, the cloistered priests of Tibet and the mysterious mystics of India. Many Common people adopted Brotherhood beliefs in everyday life. This groundswell of common support became the Brotherhood's bane: organized nations, harsh rulers and secret societies resented the Brotherhood's liberating influence on the Masses. Eventually, the Brotherhood found itself embroiled in wars as armies and governments sought to destroy its influence. The Brotherhood's holdings were broken and its members scattered. Hierarchical societies and caste systems, combined with a focus on material living, turned people against the Brotherhood's self-empowering ways.
Modern Nights Edit
To the Council of Nine, the Brotherhood now embodies the balance between violence and peace, understanding and conflict, in which the Traditions themselves remain embroiled. The Brotherhood's roots are spiritual, so they cannot be slain with bullets, money or laws. The Warring Fists use their incredible prowess to battle the enemies of the Traditions, while their teachings preach the Ascension of each individual through righteous action. As the modern Renaissance of martial arts and Asian philosophy blends with 21st-century culture and technology, the Brotherhood seeds itself once more in the hearts of common people everywhere.
Structure in the Brotherhood is loose; enlightenment and destiny are recognized as steps along the path, but all living things have virtue and value. To the Brotherhood, the idea of placing one thing or philosophy over another is a false division. Therefore, while Masters are respected for their insight, they do not exercise any real weight of authority — they are simply credited for their insight. Akashic acolytes come from all walks of life, but all study the Akashic way of leading a pure and simple lifestyle, at least to some degree. As a Brother progresses to a simpler and more unhindered state of Do and a greater Arete, his accomplishments are recorded and his teachings distributed so that all may benefit from them.
The Jnani are wandering mystics, hermits and shaman. They hope to reconcile the self with the Avatar (which they called the "Buddha-Mind") through the practices of yoga, tantra, alchemy, meditation and lengthy spiritual quests. They believe all things are ultimately one and any separation between them is an illusion. Traveling throughout Asia, the Jnani have absorbed a myriad of beliefs from Shinto to Tibetan Bön rites. Their magics can be quite diverse. Many perform exorcisms and divination to protect people in rural folk cultures from the spirit world. Rumors also claim that the faction tends secret monasteries and libraries in realms like Hollow Earth.
Specialty Sphere: Spirit
Tracing their origin to Mount Meru itself, the Kannagara are ascetic monks who uphold many of the Brotherhood's oldest practices. All Akashics practice difficult ordeals and purification rites, but the Kannagara believe that right mind and right soul can only come through right action. Many of their practices blend Buddhism and Taoism with core Akashic practices. The Kannagara prefer to remain aloof from sleeper affairs. The faction maintains several important monasteries which guide the Akashic Brotherhood as a whole. Here they renounce materialism in favor of prayer, hardship and devotion. Their numbers have dwindled over the years, Akashics sometimes join after tiring of conflict.
The Li-Hai adhere to Mo-Tzu's philosophy of Universal Love and utilitarian morality. They value pragmatism over metaphysics. Members of this faction believe that ancient traditions enforce a false sense of morality which in turn leads to harmful actions. Instead, the Li-Hai seek to abolish old traditions in favor of rational thought. They seek to accept new ideas to bring the Brotherhood into the modern world. While the Li-Hai still practice Do, their style draws on western scientific approaches to health, morality and personal enlightenment. As such, they embrace a number of divergent schools and groups. Like the folk heroes of legend, they oppose tyranny and promote justice.
The "Benevolent Aristocracy," the Shi-Ren are a politically active faction that desires greater Akashic influence in world affairs. Drawn from Legalist influences, Shi-Ren magic is very traditional and often involves lengthy rituals and calligraphy. Subtle use of Mind arts allow for social discipline and influence in diplomacy, finance and political struggle. All things have a place in the organized cosmology of the Shi-Ren. A strict meritocracy, most Shi-Ren have Pattern Essences. While most modern Shi-Ren do not believe a return to Imperial China is possible, they stress teaching of Asian history and culture to preserve the roots of the Brotherhood.
Named for the "Diamond Thunderbolt" of Tibetan Buddhism, the Vajrapani are often stereotyped as young, hot-blooded warriors. The Vajrapani emphasize martial arts, exercise and hard physical labor. Originally they served as protectors for the Brotherhood, using their prowess to repel bandits and armies alike. In modern times the Vajrapani take the fight directly to the Technocracy. Older members sometimes tire of conflict and retire to other factions. Extremely nationalistic and family oriented, many Vajrapani claim descent from one of the 48 clans that originally made up the faction. Only recently have the Vajrapani begun to train and recruit non-Asians through martial arts schools.
Descendant from nobility, the "Dragon Wizards" have served the Chinese Emperor as advisors and sorcerers for over 4,000 years. Through heavily regimented rituals, they commune with ghosts of ancestors and heavenly spirits alike. Using their influence to crush rival factions like the Akashics and Wu-Keng, the Wu Lung remained aloof from "barbarian" western mages until the Technocracy conquered China. Based out of Hong Kong, the modern Wu Lung re-organized after the Reckoning. After consulting the I Ching, the new Emperor Bei Beishi chose to join the Akashic Brotherhood to preserve the shared magical heritage of ancient China. The Wu Lung do not practice Do, preferring their own style of martial arts.
Specialty Sphere: Spirit