The seven men huddled closely around the campfire. At their elevation in the Blackroots, the cold was a more dangerous foe than any living creature. And despite the skins that clung to each man's body, the cold managed to pierce their skin and turn their blood icy. Almost all the men were used to living their lives in the rolling foothills of the Blackroot Mountains, rather than the higher altitudes. And one of them had been born and raised a Remathen.
Eaplos, of the town of Gilsesh in one of the outlying towns of Remath, journeyed to the Blackroots and Parcine area shortly after the fierce nomadic tribes beat back the Legions of Iridine in a fierce guerrilla war. Intrigued with the notion of what that seemingly backwards and primitive society could craft, he traveled in search of primitive goods- rugs woven with horsehair, chairs of wicker, and other fanciful things. When he arrived in the Parcines, he found himself immensely disappointed. The Parcines were too practical and mobile a group to make or be laden down with heavy, ornamental objects. In everything they did, they adhered to the spartan ideas which raised strong, courageous warriors.
But he did find something that he hadn't intended on. While staying in what passed as a crude village, comprised of women and children, Eaplos' eye fell on a native girl. By any standard, civilized or primitive, she was beautiful. Eaplos found himself tardying longer and longer in the village, until the head woman asked him in exasperation one day, "You stay and work, or go and leave?" Rather than be parted from a woman he found himself fast falling in love with, Eaplos forsook the civilized ideals he had committed the first part of his life to, and journeyed into the simpler existence of the Parcines.
For the better part of a year, the arrangement worked fine. Eaplos stayed, worked the jobs of three women, and learned the intricate rituals needed to court Sarsa, the girl that had caught his eye. When, towards what amounted to the harvest, the menfolk returned from their summer of hunting, they were displeased to find a man doing the domestic chores of the women. They ridiculed him. Finally, he staked the claim that he was indeed a man; only a man may love a woman, and he had fallen in love with Sarsa. And then Sarsa's father stepped forward.
Sarsa's father eyed Eaplos coldly for a moment, then asked if he planned on joining with her under the spirits. He claimed that he was indeed willing to; the men laughed and ridiculed him the more. They asked him who his Utchpa, or Grand Spirit was; being Remathen, he had none. This made the men laugh all the more, until Eaplos burst out, "I will find one for myself!"
All the men fell silent at that. There were few men who would risk their lives and their very souls to seek out an Utchpa of their own, and then wrestle with him to create a new clan. But each and every man present knew what Eaplos must do if he wished to verify his claim and indeed win Sarsa.
When the world was formed, according to the Parcines, the people of the world were created to act as servants to the spirits. After the hero Saplus rose against the spirits that ruled over humans, he made the deal that all the greater spirits of the world must remain constrained to the tip of the largest mountain in the Blackroot chain- forbidding Ral Kurash. The lesser spirits, those that guide only one being, were not confined so. The only way that a greater spirit may leave the top of the mountain is for him to pledge to be a family's guiding spirit, or Utchpa. To become an Utchpa is a degrading thing for a spirit, however much reverence he is given by humans. It means that he failed to keep his independence, and is now subservient to the whim of a mortal.
And since all clans require a Grand Spirit, some sort of arrangement had to be worked out. The leaders of the 6 Clans gathered after Saplus ' famous victory, and called for a way to reunite the spirits with their charges. What was finally settled on was a test of pure will and strength, spirit versus man, in a struggle for domination. Only six men in the history of the Blackroots managed to create their own clan; those were the original six.
And thus, Eaplos sought to win the fair Sarsa's hand in marriage by giving her her own clan to be the founding mother of.
And thus, Eaplos found himself with the head male from each other clan in Parcines. Tradition required that the head of each clan accompany a challenger on his journey, to record his victory or his defeat.
The embers flared, and Eaplos stared at his surroundings. This just wasn't fair, he thought with sudden anger. He loved her! Why did he need a foolish spirit to watch over him? He was Remathen- he made his own luck. And no matter what the outcome, he would lose, he was certain of that. If no spirit came, it would show the clansmen that he was viewed in such contempt that the spirits refused to even wrestle him. And if the spirit did arrive, Eaplos was under no illusions at to his abilities to actually subdue a spirit.
The night passed slowly, the cold biting into everyone, but most of all Eaplos. In the morning, the hardy men roused and pulled Eaplos out of bed. "The sun is low in sky," they told him. "When it high as top of mountain peak, then spirit come and you wrestle." They brought him to the top of the mountain, to a large circle carved from the top of the mountain. The wind whipped by at a breathtaking speed, and Eaplos grew dizzy as he looked down on the world. It seemed like he was a god... and he felt as though he controlled the entire world, and nothing could stop him.
A dry, harsh laughter sounded behind him. He saw that all the clan heads were sitting on roughly carved stone benches that ringed the large circle. And in the middle of the circle stood... something. It was there, but it wasn't there. It was invisible, but it twisted the air so much that it looked tangible. Eaplos found his heart stuck somewhere around his throat, and his hands felt clammy as he looked upon the ephemeral spirit.
The spirit let out another of the harsh laughs. "You wish for a wrestle?" he asked almost enquiringly.
Eaplos found it hard to keep the quiver out of his voice as he answered. "Yes, and I will win and make you my Utchpa." And then the spirit laughed again.
"You think you can take me, fool?" And then the spirit was in him.
What transpired between those two, human and mortal, whilst they struggled, no one will ever know exactly. From the accounts of the six watchers, it seemed as though Eaplos would give in with nary a fight and cede to the spirit's command. Suddenly, though, he stood tall and shouted a single word at the top of his lungs. "Sarsa!" The words reverberated around the top of the ring and seemed to achieve almost physical power. And some time later- it might have been seconds or years- Eaplos found that he had one, and tamed himself an Utchpa.