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Companions of the Shell -- History Lesson

by Tristan Dunigan

The Company of the Shell was founded on the first day of Yarthmont,1009 AC. Two individuals , Takoda and Diego Delfino, are given credit for the creation of this brotherhood.

Takoda, was the head of a family group in the settlement of R'nak, south of Renardy. He was also a skilled warrior, and an Honourbound; something extremely uncommon as Tortles go. Takoda, learned the Precepts and Protocols from a lone Honourbound Rakasta. He learned them so well, that eventually the Rakasta sponsored Takoda's efforts to join one of the Companies in Bellayne. Takoda won acceptance and advanced through the ranks over his years of service. As the years went by he began to think of his own people and how they could possibly benefit from having a company of their own. He held a belief that the Tortles needed to be more of a close knit community. The community idea did not necessarily mean coming together in large settlements, but there needed to be a "closeness" among them. With his idea in his head he returned home to R'nak and began laying the groundwork for the first Tortle Honourbound Company. In his mind, he knew the idea would not be a popular one. Tortles tended to believe that violence begets violence and that warriors are the bringers of such things. If Takoda could make the other Tortles understand that this plan was not merely for a military organisation, but one that would actually benefit the community as a whole, it would be welcomed with open arms.

As Tortle settlements are small and usually some distance apart, Takoda saw the need for a "For Tortles, By Tortles" group to protect these settlements from goblinoids, bandits, or unscrupulous adventurers, as well as to solve problems developing between family groups. He also envisioned a "humanitarian" side of this group; If a fellow Tortle were sick and could not plant his fields, the Company would be more than happy to help. If your huts were blown down in a violent storm, the Company would arrive on the scene to assist the family group rebuild. If crops were insufficient to feed a family, the Company would seek donations to avoid their starvation. There was no limit in Takoda's mind of the good his Company could do. With the outbreak of the Red Curse, Takoda's brotherhood took on a new task; protection from affliction. He needed an Inheritor to keep his Tortle kin safe from affliction. After failing to find a Tortle Inheritor in Renardy or Bellayne, Takoda began a journey to the Baronies to seek one out, but as luck would have it, he did not have to travel that far.

Diego Delfino, also known as Diego of the Dolphins, was a Tortle Cleric of Mother Ocean who had a small congregation in the Free City of Dunwick. Originally from the Baronies, Diego came to Dunwick in the hope of finding a larger group of Tortles to preach to. He also happened to be an Inheritor of the Order of Crimson. When Takoda arrived in Dunwick to secure passage to the Baronies, he met Diego at one of his religious services, down by the beaches. It then became obvious how Diego got his name. In the shallow surf was a small altar made of coral. When Diego would give his "sermon", dolphins would swim into the area and "listen" until it was over. They would then play gleefully before swimming off. The dolphins returned for each and every service, so the Cleric was dubbed Diego Delfino "of the Dolphins".

Diego shared Takoda's vision of a community of Tortles sharing ideas and values, however a group of warriors to act as a "bridge between the communities" did not sit well with him. Tortles, after all, are a peaceful race. Honour to a Tortle is finding a peaceful solution to a given situation; a definition that seemed to conflict with what a typical Honourbound warrior referred to as honour. Takoda argued that at times the best way to assure a lasting peace is to be prepared to fight.

It was during one of these heated debates that an old Tortle, who never gave his name, waddled up and told a story:

"Many ages ago....when our people were fresh from the Land, The Tortles had a champion...and her name was Chelona. Our ancient enemies, who lived among the clouds tormented us endlessly, but Chelona came to our aid. She fought them on the Land and claimed many victories. One fateful day Chelona rose to the heavens on a flying chariot, a gift from the Immortals, in a hope to end the bloodshed once and for all. Riding her wondrous artifact, Chelona flew up into the skies to face the King of the cloud people. A great battle ensued between the two heroes that lasted three days and three nights. In this struggle, Chelona was wounded six times. Each time, a scute fell from her shell to the Land below the clouds. On the third night, Chelona struck the king a fatal blow. The king fell to his knees, exhausted and covered in blood. At the sight of the tears in the eyes of the king's children and his people, Chelona was overwhelmed with compassion. She declared the fighting over for all time, and that it was in her power to give him life again, but at the cost of her own. In exchange for this, the King swore never again to bring harm to the Tortle folk. His fateful words were sealed in a magical oath and Chelona passed from our world to the next. Out of guilt and sheer respect for Chelona, the King kept his word, gave her a fitting burial, and left with his people to a distant place. It is said that the Immortals were so saddened by her death, yet proud of her sacrifice, that a prophecy appeared on her grave. It is said that the spirit of Chelona would return to the Land if the six lost scutes from her shell were brought to her resting place which lies on a magical cloud that drifts in the breeze."

After completing his tale, the old one gave the two a hexagonal piece of what appeared to be part of a shell. Then the old one waddled down the beach and disappeared. The Scute of Honour was the gift, and it was suddenly clear to Takoda and Diego what had to be done. After hearing the Legend of Chelona, the two agreed that Chelona's character was indeed the embodiment of all that Tortles held dear. They wrote a Code of Conduct for the Company of the Shell, inspired by the Legend of Chelona; traits that every Tortle who wished to be a part of the Company must possess:

1. Honesty- Goodwill and Virtue; Never Lie or Mislead.
2. Compassion- Forgiveness and unselfishness; Help those in need
3. Wisdom- Wit and Intuition; Think before you act and learn from your mistakes
4. Tenacity- Hard work and faith in one's self; Never Give Up
5. Bravery- Gallantry and fortitude; Set your fear aside and do what must be done.
6. Honour- Duty and Respect; Live up to Tortle values and maintain a sense of ethical conduct

With their ideas in place and a bright outlook on the future Takoda and Diego shook hands and put their Code, renamed the Code of the Shell, into writing and travelled the Coast enlisting the aid of Tortles of every skill and walk of life. The Company of the Shell was born.