Part of Abun
The Wapi Warriors Guild is an order of female warriors of the Kingdom of Abun. Its history is deeply rooted with the one of the country itself, and it's considered one of the most representative symbols of the Abunese culture and military. The current Headmaster of the guild is princess Farada Rynus of the Ahkis clan, the mother of queen Kaliendra. The Wapi warriors play an important role in the Abunese society, military and politics, as it is a very influential guild, and has its own battalion in the Abunese army. It is also the one that introduced women in the army, making them widely accepted.
The origins of the Guild
According to the legends around its origins, Wapi was a young Tokaya priestess of Say'Rada of unknown origins, who lived around year 500. In 502, the War of Salt begun, seeing Abunese against the Nylusians, as they wanted to put their hands on the numerous Nylusian forests, that are an important source of amber and construction wood, along with the salt production of the Nylusian coastal village, that are an important part of their economy.
So, Wapi, as a priestess and a woman, was exempted from joining the army, since at those times, the Law of the Ancients forbid access to the army to women, and looked at the war passively, but with the wish in her heart to contribute to the cause of her country. During one of the ceremonies held at the temple where she lived, she met Irath'Bur, a priest of Zoson, the Abunese god of war, and they fell in love.
Irath'Bur seen the committment of Wapi and her desire to help the army, and so, he begun to teach her martial arts and how to fight with swords and other weapons. They met secretly at the temple of Zoson, during the night, and she came back at her temple before dawn, without letting the other priestesses know about it.
After many months of intense training, Wapi became a skilled fighter, who was able to keep up with males, indeed the other priests of the Zoson temple, sparred with her and were impressed by her performance.
So, Irath'Bur suggested her a way to join the army to circumvent the limits of the Law of the Ancients: she would have covered her face and body with bandages in order to cover her female features, and would join the army as a victim of severe burning. The trick actually worked, and she was sent to Nylus under a false name, fighting with the other men. She finally made her dream come true.
Wapi fought in the Abunese army disguised as a burned man for six months, before she was mortally wounded by a Nylusian soldier, who pierced her throat with his spear. Rescued by the other soldiers, during her agony, she revealed her true identity and asked to cut off the bandages of her face, to reveal how she looked like, and when the other soldiers noticed her long hair coming out of the bandages, they immediately realized that they fought with a woman.
Wapi's body was taken to Abun, where she had both a religious and military funeral, with the soldiers, priestesses of Say'Rada and priests of Zoson, including Irath'Bur himself, attending the ceremony. Her body was cremated in the military funeral fashion, and her ashes were spread in the Adir river.
The Legacy of Wapi
After her death, a controversy sparked among the Abunese royalty: should women be allowed in the army? Would they be able to fight just like men? Or would they'd be considered as an unnecessary burden?
Not all the nobles were enthusiast about letting women fight, as they seen them as guardians of the household and caring mothers, rather than fierce warriors.
The Holy King of the time, Henibu of the Shar clan, was moved by her story and was firmly convinced that women would be able to fight as good as men. So, he gathered all the High Priests of the country and proposed them two ideas: the creation of a guild of female fighters, letting them to join the army in their own battalion, and the free access to women in the Abunese army. While the second proposal was rejected, the first one was enthusiastically accepted by the High Priests, who established the Wapi Warriors Guild, a order of female warriors that would've honoured the legacy of Wapi, and would've fought in the army during wars.
So, in year 505, the guild was officially established and the first Headmaster, Highar of the Kekel clan, an Hatran woman who was known for her excellent fighting skills with the spear, was elected. The guild was open to both priestesses, nobles and commoners, because anybody who joined the guild, would immediately become a "sister" of other Wapi warriors, regardless their status.
Wapi warriors have a strict code of honour. The warriors cannot be approached by men whenever they are on duty or when they are wearing their uniform, and they must be called "sisters" by people. They also use to call themselves sisters, as they consider the Guild as a sisterhood.
An important requirement to join the Guild is to be a native Abunese citizen. Non-native Abunese or foreigners cannot join the Wapi warriors, but they can join the annual Serka Tournament and fight against the other female warriors. The guild is also seen by some poor women as a way to escape from poverty, since the Wapi warriors also teach women how to read and write and perform simple math, also giving them a place to live, sharing their meal and bed with the other members of the Sisterhood.
A country saved by women
In year 687, the Zonizans attempted one of the first invasion of Abun, which is considered one of the first large-scale invasions of the country by the historical enemies of the Abunese. Abun was in a particularly dire situation, since its economy was undergoing recession, the Holy King's power was quite weak, due to massive corruption going in the army, that at those times was mostly made by foreign mercenaries rather than Abunese citizens. Thanks to these factors, the Zonizans managed to fight their way easily, since the Army didn't have the required resources to fight them back energically enough and one year later, in year 688, the Zonizans managed to reach Enit and siege it.
The capital of the Abunese kingdom was risking to fall in the hands of their arch-enemies, and their imperial dream was close to come true. But as a last attempt to save the kingdom, the Holy King of that time, Ia'Roth Enradash II of the Takara clan, asked directly the help of all the Wapi warriors of Abun in order to support the army and fight back the Zonizans. The guild, led at that time by Guwah Tia'Athi of the Taikal clan, a Digger Emissary also known as "The Masked Nightmare" fought the Zonizans with her battalion, helping the Abunese army to push them back from Enit and gaining the control of the occupied territories. Thankfully, the message arrived to the Guildmaster thanks to an unguarded spot in the walls of the Abunese capital, that allowed them to send messengers without risking to be discovered by the Zonizans. The Wapi warriors, during a two years operation, managed to defeat the Zonizans and forced them to retreat. Many warriors died in the battle, but Guwah and her warriors were awarded by the King as "Heroines of Abun" and received the blessings of Say'Rada herself, who appeared as a ray of sun being casted of them during the award ceremony. Curiously, the sun ray appeared only on them, since the sky was overcast during that day.
After the war, in year 692, the army was reorganized, introducing conscription for the Abunese citizens and reducing the amount of mercenaries, while corrupted generals were executed. Another important twist was reached some years later, in 696, when king Ia'Roth, with the help of the Wapi Warriors' pressures on the high priests, managed to modify the Law of the Ancients in order to allow women to fully join the Abunese army.
The Wapi Warriors in and outside war
Obviously, being an order of female warriors, Wapi warriors are mostly used by Abun during wars. They have their own battalion in the Abunese army, called the Wapi Battalion, which sees a selection of the most skilled warriors from all the country. During wars or when they are on duty, the Wapi warriors must wear the mandatory uniform of the guild, which consists in a white top with red borders, a collar made with red Tezidi leaves tied with a leather lace on the neck, a pair of hardened leather bracelets with Tezidi leaves decorations. A long white loincloth decorated with Tezidi leaves with a pair of hardened wood greaves, coupled with Ge'Ka anklets with Tezidi leaves complete the uniform.
The average weapons of Wapi warriors is usually a curved scimitar-like sword called Ghat'Ai, a traditional Abunese weapon, and a small yet sharp dagger called Arhin, a sacred dagger that can be handled only by Wapi warriors, since -according to their belief- the weapon is imbued by the spirit of Wapi herself, since -according to the legend- a similar dagger was used by the Tokaya priestess during the Salt War. Often, a spear or a bow is also part of the Wapi's gear.
It is mandatory for the Wapi warriors to be barefoot, their feet only protected by white linen bandages wrapped tightly around their soles, to give them more freedom in their movements and making them more light and agile during combat. The reason of the colours adopted by the uniform, the white and red, is due to the symbolism behind them: white is associated to the purity of women, while red represents the blood shed by all the warriors during the history of the guild.
Besides wars, Wapi warriors have a relatively peaceful life. When they aren't on duty, they disguise themselves as common citizens, going to the market, praying the Gods at the temple and even having a romantic relationship with men, but when they are on duty, they must abide the rules of the Guild in order to be a good example to the people and other warriors.
Off-duty fighters could also work as contract killers, receiving contracts from people who need to dispose of a particular person. The warriors will honour the contract and will be paid by the contractor, killing the victim in the most silent and efficient way possible, usually using poisons or choking. Technically, this is not legal according to the Law of the Ancients, but it's a widely accepted custom, and the Wapi warriors who do this kind of job off-duty won't be prosecuted by the guards.
The contracts are very expensive and hiring the warriors as assassins is something that cannot be done by everybody, it's mostly used by nobles as a way to get rid of enemies or opposers. Wapi warriors could also work as undercover agents for the Eyes and Ears of the Queen.
When they are off-duty, Wapi warriors can also be employed by the Royal Guards to patrol some particularly unsafe areas or help the guards in police roles.
Organization of the Guild
Wapi Warriors are organized in a strictly hyerarchical structure. The supreme leader of the guild is the Headmaster, elected with a draw among the most experienced warriors from all over Abun. The term of the Headmaster lasts for 10 years and she leads all the warriors and local Guildmasters from all the provinces.
Guildmasters are elected in the same way, except they are chosen among the most experienced warriors from a particular province. Local guilds instead are led by the eldest warrior, usually picked directly by Guildmasters.
As stated in the previous paragraph, the access to the guild is strictly forbidden to men, foreigners and non-native Abunese citizens. Every race -including Diggers- is welcome in the Guild, but they must be native Abunese citizens. The minimum age limit to join the Guild is 13 years old and the maximum one is 40 years old.
The warriors who turn 40 years old are lessened from the duty of being active fighers and the local chief nominates them Teachers, teaching the younger warriors their fighting techniques and code of honour. The term of Guildmasters last for 5 years, while the Local chief lasts for 3 years.
The Serka Tournament
One of the most common things that make the Wapi warriors famous inside and outside Abun is surely the Serka Tournament. The tournament is held every year during 91 of Ankdan-At, exact day and month when Wapi died, in order to honour her death, and lasts for one month. It's held in Enit, at the local arena and sees Wapi warriors from all Abun joining the tournament in non lethal fights with wooden weapons to prove who's the strongest warrior. The winner receives a finely decorated Ghat'Ai and even if she loses, she will kept in high regard by the people.
Despite they use wooden weapons (since an important rule of the tournament is that the opponents must not be killed), they attract a lot of people from Abun and other provinces and countries. But not only Wapi warriors can join the tournament: mercenaries and even self-taught fighters of many classes can join it but they must be highly trained and skilled in various weapons (mostly swords, spears, halbers and clubs).
An interesting aspect of this tournament is that the judge is a woman, usually the Headmaster of the guild or the High Priestess of Say'Rada, although queen Kaliendra herself was appointed as judge in some tournaments and Kaliendra herself, before becoming a Queen, joined the tournament and won once. Before the battle, four Say'Rada priestesses perform a sacred dance to please the spirits and give strenght and motivation to the warriors, and they're the only women who don't fight. The reason behind this is that they are considered pure souls, and according to the Abunese religion, women have a closer relationship to the Gods, since they're the bearers of life.
It is up to the judge to decide who wins and who loses, and in case of draw results, All the Wapi warriors who attend the tournaments will decide the results in a poll.
The influence on the Abunese politics
The more the time passed, and the more the influence of the Wapi warriors begun to show its effect on the Abunese monarchy. Group of pressures made by the most important warriors from all over Abun appeared during the election ceremonies, in order to persuade the High Priests to choose a figure that would be open towards lessening restrictions towards women and improving their conditions, often succeding.
It's also thanks to them, if the Abunese Holy Kings during the history of the country have increasingly given more and more rights to women, from giving them the same rights of men in law and during trials, to letting them access the Abunese throne (before year 950, it was forbidden for a woman become a Queen, and indeed no other queen was elected before Kaliendra, despite the ban towards women was lifted) and letting them joining the army with the same rights of men.
Whenever it comes to improving the condition of the woman in Abun and the rest of Nakti, the Wapi warriors are always willing to join the cause, supporting battles of women who want more rights and want to be respected as people, not only as mothers and wives. It is also believed that Kaliendra's election was the result of an intense pressure put by the Wapi warriors on the High Priests, as they'd have thought that times were mature enough for Abun to have a Queen. Plus, Kaliendra herself wears the Wapi Warriors uniform during wars, as a tribute to the Guild.