Triquetra Chronicles, Volume 1 (book)
The Triquetra Chronicles, Volume 1
Know me as Ra'sulor, once called Israulor before I ascended to the Priesthood under the dominion of Eu and received the blessing of name. We are not a people who record history as other races we have encountered, but rather hold to a verbal tradition, passing information down through time in various methods -- songs, chants, stories -- in order to keep fresh and unchanging this knowledge. What follows is an account of our beliefs in some small measure, in exception to all that has gone before, presented in written form. Much like the sapling that grows where winds blow strongly, one must bend to the whims of circumstance.
A collective concept, the triquetra symbolizes the trine of Eu, Demrris and Tenemlor. Depicted as a tri-pointed shape in base form, this representation varies widely in form, to range from a simple curving knot, to more intricately woven or interlaced depictions. Prydaen are especially fond of unbroken formations consisting of a woven single line with no apparent beginning or end, to create an abstract pattern or shape. Anyone claiming to have seen Eu is actually referring to the triple form, Eu-Demrris- Tenemlor, whose name is frequently shortened to Eu. This can be confusing for outsiders, but we have no trouble keeping it straight. He (or she) appears mainly to priests or clan elders -- or their non- Prydaen equivalents -- in the form of a renowned ancestor. An appearance to a younger person is usually an indication that they are destined for great things. The triquetra is also the sole constellation the people gave name to, it being a trinity of stars bright during the summer months, but otherwise too dim to be seen. Also of great importance to our culture is the symbol of the three- spoked wheel, often spoken of as the Wheel of Life, and a part of our long-standing verbal history in works such as the Wheel Song. In crafted form, the triquetra as jewelry is cast in platinum and adorned with white gems such as opal, pearl and moonstone, or very rarely with diamonds.
Known most commonly as Nature, Eu holds dominion over the elements and all forms of plant life. An enigma at best, Eu is unfathomable to the mortal mind in scope, the embodiment of nature's entirety. Eu is never referred to as He, She or It -- always as Eu -- and never appears to mortals. Thought by some to be the procreator of Demrris and Tenemlor in conjunction with the universe, Eu presides over all which they do not. Of especial concern within the mortal realm are the Priests, who watch over all Prydaen in Eu's direct stead. Eu is the turf beneath our feet, the wind in our faces and the rain that quenches our thirst. Most strongly linked with Eu are shades of green, though all colors in nature are within Eu's sway. Eu's symbol is the faiyka, a disc crafted of white gold which bears three narrow rays in bas relief.
Known as the Lord of Life, Demrris holds dominion over the waking life, master of sun and storms, and the embodiment of vigor and action. His gaze encompasses all hunters, be they his kits or predators, with a special eye toward felines of all kinds, often appearing in the form of a large cat. He figures largely in the time following our awakening, having walked among us often to guide and teach his kits. He presides over all bondings, blessing the unions for their life-giving potential, and bestowing upon the rare individual his mark of favor, a blessing in the form of an extension of natural life, first seen in the Priest Ra'trel. Like his sister Goddess, Demrris abhors the undead, stalking the lands in the form of a black panther, accompanied by Tenemlor in her form of a white tiger. He has a very strong sense of justice, and will react swiftly and without warning against any evil that he sees. However, his attention span is brief, and he does not pursue enemies relentlessly. Often associated with Demrris are shades of yellow and white, ranging across the spectrum much like the sun crosses the sky. His symbol is the iladza, a disc crafted from yellow gold which bears a multi-rayed sun in bas relief.
Known as the Ruler of the Afterlife, Tenemlor holds dominion over the dreaming life and moonlight hours, embodying serenity, silence, peace and order. As Guardian of the Blessed, she defends the dead from necromancers and others who would disturb their rest. Prydaen Empaths revere her, for her touch heals fever and madness, and Moon Mages appeal to her for clear weather and freedom from distractions. It is said of a good ruler that "Tenemlor stands behind him" -- maintaining peace and order, and watching his back for traitors. She presides over all births and deaths, and holds safe the final resting place, where Prydaen reside for eternity once they have tired of life's wheel. She is more reclusive than her brother God Demrris, though history handed down through the millenia tells of a time when she walked the lands in the form of a proud, white-furred Prydaen with one blackened and withered paw -- it is said even unto this day that kits born with pure white or albino coloration are indeed blessed with the direct favor of Tenemlor. Often associated with her are shades of blue, ranging into the deepest black to span all colors of the night, and the reflections of the moons. Her symbol is the shariza, a disc crafted from blue gold which bears in bas relief twin crescent moons, waxing and waning.
A popular myth among our people says that once a year Demrris and Tenemlor trade roles for a day. A few clans believe that at any given time, either deity can be in either role.
The Claw of Eu
For those so called into service this was of the highest honor, certainly not to be ignored, nor taken lightly as though a whim or passing urge. Though its beginnings were prosaic enough, only a select few ever feel the subtle whisperings of Eu's guidance, and while this is a prideful thing, it is also a deepening of humility. One does not lose one's self in this undertaking, but one does experience a sense of submergence to the greater good, and the rightness of this estate.
The Claw of Eu was formed shortly after Demrris mostly left his kits on their own, within the first few generations. This is the oldest recognized Claw of the Prydaen; it also has the most influence of any claw in existence. As history tells it, after our awakening, the first Pride realized they needed those to preserve the history of the people, as not all had the best of memories or were unable to relate such stories of their time with Demrris, and we did not have a written language as such. Their kits and their kit's kits, however, must know of their heritage complete from the time of awakening.
Some few of the people, those with memories as sharp as our own claws, who retained information and experiences with a clarity that was startling, began to notice a subtle change within themselves. The turning of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, and the invisible currents of air that shifted the clouds across the sky all became seen, or heard, or felt -- for each it was different -- much like the encompassing sensation of another's heartbeat when held closely.
In time, they began to realize that this was Eu speaking to their hearts and minds, exerting gentle influence, and making more definitive their command of deliberate recall. Of these few, it was Ra'trel Starcatcher who first understood, and who in turn guided his fellows to that same end. Now the Priests of Eu, otherwise known as Eu's Claws, they took it upon themselves to carry with them the knowledge of their ancestors so that they might pass this to the generations that followed.
When the first pride had gone to Tenemlor and several generations had followed, Ra'trel still walked the lands of Eu, gathering history and waiting for one to come to him, one that he might groom to be his successor among the Priests. It should be noted that Ra'trel was blessed by the touch of Demrris, his life span extended well beyond normal boundaries, so that he might accomplish this momentous task that had been laid before him. Now, it is from Ra'trel that we Prydaen use Ra' in the naming, to denote one's duty, affiliation and honor. However, one endures much before such a naming, as it is not an honor lightly given nor bestowed. Any not of the Claw of Eu who dare pretend to this honor, either in name or in vestments, are exiled from the Hubs of our people -- declared to be Cemsiat.
The Claw of Demrris
The first Pride lived well within the influence of our Gods, watched over and protected until such time as we had learned to fend for ourselves without direct intercession from above. Demrris appeared less and less frequently, but we always knew that he was with us. We were not what one might call organized, however, and this became more and more apparent as time and generations had gone by. It was not very long after Eu's Claws came into being that we began to realize that more was necessary for our survival. Our numbers were ever increasing, and what was once a manageable group was now beginning to spiral out of control.
Shortly thereafter, Demrris appeared to us, with fur the color of the morning sun, and a mane like fire. We gathered at his feet, the oldest drawing closer when he motioned to us. As we watched, the hand of Demrris circled in the air thrice, leaving behind a faintly glowing spiral of light that faded quickly. His voice was like a summer breeze through a field of grass, rippling and sure, as he spoke to us of the need for some method by which we could continue on. We would need places to care for our kits, our priests and our elderly. Places that were not the open fields or mountains where we spent most of our time. We needed a place where we could gather together, away from the uncertainty that Tenemlor might be calling our names at any moment.
It was thus that Demrris instructed us in the creation of the Hubs, guiding us through their initial organization and placement. A loose system of leadership was established, centering around the Elders, to whom he gestured. From those the first Council of Elders was formed, to govern and lead the Hub. They were charged with the maintenance and wellbeing of all those who lived within, ensuring the heritage of our species. The Elders oversaw the dispensation of supplies for the Hub, and also prepared for the gatherings of our people, both in the coldest months, and during the times of warmth when we met for more instinctual reasons.
They assured that any kit brought in by its parents would have a place to safely grow and learn the ways of our people. When a kit believed itself ready to venture forth into the world on its own, the Elders were there for the rituals and rites, ensuring that the kit was indeed prepared for what was to come, and to acknowledge the ascension from kit to adult when the proving was complete.
Once the Council of Elders was established, and our race was awakening to a newfound sense of security amidst the Hubs, Demrris appeared once again amongst us. He spoke at length with Soru Krotaya, the eldest of our kind, and much venerated by us for his wisdom, patience, and unfailing ability to know exactly that which must be done, regardless of the situation. Soru had witnessed many turnings of the seasons, and watched many a mewling kit grow into a mature adult Prydaen. It was to him that our great patron gifted the knowledge of Cizayu (or rites of passage in the common tongue) and the authority to oversee them. Many more seasons passed, and our species thrived under the watchful gaze of Soru, but time began to weigh heavily upon his shoulders. He knew he would soon return to the Great Wheel, and it was thus that Soru, eldest amongst us, gathered together a select few who exhibited certain traits and characteristics. Those who gathered before him became known as the Claws of Demrris, those who would ensure our traditions and heritage continued, even after the passage of Soru from the lands of Eu.
The Claw of Tenemlor
Cloaked in the guise of an albino, Tenemlor walked the lands of Eu infrequently, but always to a purpose in those days not long after our awakening. Often regarded with trepidation for her unique coloration (or lack thereof, depending on one's point of view), she nonetheless appeared to teach and succor at varying points in our lives, and make us aware of our best (responses) to the infrequent influxes of undead. With the coming of the Lyras, however, the people were at a loss. We were unused to fighting such creatures, those that wore the faces of our kin and walked in a mockery of life. With the increased amount of undead kin appearing in the lands of Eu, a small group of the people became concerned at their lack of strength against this blasphemy. Tiatra Moonstalker, together with this like-minded group, decided to dedicate themselves to hunting the Undead. In order to do so, she decided one must first learn of them to defeat them. For months, she and her small group watched the undead as they went with their vile unlives, watching their habits. As they watched, they also prayed to Tenemlor seeking the wisdom of the Goddess on how to properly hunt these unholy creatures.
Tenemlor listened to Tiatra's pleas for assistance, and decided to take this group as her own. Tenemlor whispered the ways of the undead to Tiatra, and presented to Tiatra's group several weapons to defeat the undead. These weapons were blessed by Tenemlor herself and were bound to Tiatra and her group. All this Tenemlor gave to the group, but with only one request in return. Those of this newly formed Claw must worship Tenemlor and no other. Only with unquestionable faith in Tenemlor would such gifts be granted for the knowledge of the undead. Tiatra and her newly formed Claws readily agreed to the request of the goddess. From that time, the Claws of Tenemlor have fought against the undead with uncanny success, but their numbers were too small to decimate the hoards of undead before the raising of the Barrier. At last count, there were only approximately twenty of this claw still alive, fifteen on this side of the barrier, and five that were left behind to obverse the armies of Lyras.
The Claw of Azca
After time, the people found that they were not the only race in the world. They had neighbors, the Rakash. Several fights had broken out between our two races, mainly over hunting territories and food. Eventually, we settled our differences and co-existed with each other, territories marked by each.
At that time, when things had settled down for our two races, a Prydaen by the name of Azca Fauran believed that she could deal with the Rakash, especially if food was scarce. Those of her pride thought she was becoming senile, since what she proposed would have her come into closer contact with those below them like the Rakash.
She spoke to them of what good may come of this, especially if she could set up some kind of understanding between her and the Rakash. A way to trade goods, food, herbs, and other items to benefit all involved. She argued that this would be good for the people as a whole, bringing new items to their hubs that they might otherwise not obtain. They responded by snubbing her ideas and plans, and so she left the hub to wander, as she was wont to do.
Her first encounters with the Rakash were tentative, as the Rakash were unsure of the Prydaen. The language barrier was the first hurdle she had to overcome, as neither she nor the Rakash could understand each other. Azca prayed to the triquetra, seeking some measure of divine guidance in this, and was heard by Demrris. To her he gifted an artifact of his making which would, he informed her, tune her into the languages of those she met. Azca offered her thanks in the form of sacrificing a weeks worth of kills to him, and went on her way back to the Rakash. Their numbers are few, though they exist. The Claw of Azca, as it came to be known, still survives among us, though its members are looked upon with some reluctance owing to the belief that they may be tainted by the ways of the furless through long association. They are a close-mouthed lot, never sharing exactly the how of what they do for us. Rumor has it that the artifact was never lost in time as many believe, but preserved and even shared somehow among their number. Rumor is, however, often nothing more than a sundream.
We of the people are fierce hunters, but one law above all handed down is that we shall harm none of our own. In the days of the first Pride, a Prydaen committed the first betrayal of Demrris' teachings. We were taught to hunt and to survive, but we never expected what was to happen -- it never occured to any that one of the people could do such.
Cemsiat, kit of Demrris, preyed upon another Prydaen. His claws took the life of a fellow Prydaen. We did not know how to respond to this, as this was a first among our people, but Demrris spoke for us in our time of shock and bewilderment.
"Slayer of kin, you are no longer mine. To hunt is a gift I gave to my children, to feed themselves on the meat of lesser things. You have turned from this, and used claw against kin. No longer are you one of the Pride, and you shall walk alone and know no companionship with your fellow Prydaen. Your name shall bear the mark of this shame for all eternity. Be gone from here Cemsiat -- perhaps in time Tenemlor will allow your spirit to enter her country to rejoin the Pride, but not in this lifetime."
With this said, Demrris' voice was gone from our hearing, but his words carried their effect. We of the first Pride turned our backs upon Cemsiat, now considered dead to us, and of no more substance than a whisper in the midst of a raging storm.
Cemsiat left the territory we dwelt in; his heart was crushed at such punishment as had been visited upon him. Even though we of the Pride wandered far away at times, we always knew we could come back and find comfort with our kin. Never more for Cemsiat, who would always walk alone. Though Demrris had turned his back to his kit, Cemsiat sought redemption to clear his spirit of his betrayal so he could enter Tenemlor's realm. What exactly his atonement was, is known only to Tenemlor herself, but we do know that eventually Cemsiat cleared his name, and was allowed the surcease of Tenemlor's embrace, and passed into the world of spirits, as do all Prydaen.
Since that time, those few Prydaen that have been exiled are viewed as a kindred spirit to Cemsiat. Their tails are normally removed, and a magical brand is placed upon them to mark them as such. Once such a process has occured, they are no longer considered kin of the people, and are beyond the usual comforts of the Pride. Some have been able to find redemption within their lifetime, allowing the brand to be removed. Most however, do not. Those who have not, or refuse to find such redemption, become lost to the void, never to rest in Tenemlor's embrace or be reborn within the great Wheel.
One of our most common customs derives from the hand of Tenemlor herself. You will oft encounter females of our people with similar namings. My own before my ascension to Eu, Israulor, the present day mate of Vael, Seralor, and so forth. There was a day long ago when a kit was born, one with no color to her fur, her mane or eyes. Truly an albino of our kind, and truly unique. This was unheard of, and caused alarm among the people, thinking this a sign from the triquetra of unknown import. She was in perfect health, blemished only by her lack of coloration, and as such was not subject to one of our more ruthless of customs.
Into this mix of confusion and uncertainty did come Tenemlor. With soft croons did she take the newborn kit into her arms, singing a lullaby so softly that we could not quite make out the words. As we watched with wide eyes, the color leeched from Tenemlor's form, until she too was as the kit. She smiled at us then, adjusting the sleeper in her arms.
"Henceforth shall this kit be known as 'Alor' and ever rest safely within my embrace as my true daughter. The naming Alor to signify to all that she is of myself, and not to be cast aside for her differences, but rather to be cherished as would any kit of the people."
Tenemlor handed the kit back to its mother and calmly walked away, her form wavering and finally disappearing from sight. It was from that time forward that we would occasionally see her in the lands of Eu in the form of a pure white tiger, accompanied by her brother Demrris' black panther. It was also from that time forward that parents began to use the naming to give their female kits that same kindred spirit. Hence, names such as my own, and that of Seralor.
One should note, we are not a passive people willing to accept just anything simply because it occurs. I refer, of course, to the unfortunate occurances of malformed kits birthed to the lands of Eu. Amongst a people who value wholeness and self-sufficiency above all else, this was unacceptable in the extreme. Outsiders may call us ruthless, but life is to be lived to the fullest, not suffered through in misery.
A kit is not meant to be born so, and is certainly not meant to live so. Parents are expected to give the kit back to Tenemlor as gently as possible. Oft times, the simple expedient of closing the kit's airways sufficed. Some felt it more fitting to use a single claw slash across the throat. Whatever the method, if the parents were unable to perform such a service, one of the Claws of Eu would stand in their stead.
Burials were like any other; circumstance of death did not negate the importance of our rituals. Wrapped in gauze of the purest white and laid on a platform raised to the sky, the body would rest while the spirit journeyed back to Tenemlor's realm. As with more normal deaths, the Wheel Song would be sung -- there are some things one simply does not neglect. Of course, with the coming of the blasphemous Lyras, this most cherished ritual changed. Left in such a state, our dead kin were subject to her necromancy. Raised by her foul magics in a shambling mockery of life, our kin would thus be turned against us, obeying the commands of a human bent on domination. Due to her vile interference, we were forced to employ a far more repugnant custom. To assure ourselves that we could not be so misused, we began to burn our dead kin. If possible we would prepare them as before, wrapped in gauze and placed on a platform raised to the sky. On those occasions we would burn the entire structure. On the field of battle we could not take as much care and bodies were left where they'd fallen, to be set afire by whatever means available, usually with the aid of naphtha. With a little extra time, we would build pyres for our kin and burn them en masse. Regardless of method, we sing the Wheel Song in the hopes that they will find their way to Tenemlor's realm as is proper.
Speaking of death, it is necessary to bring up the subject of favor, and the general strive for all creatures to seek the blessing of their God, or Gods. This 'seeking' of favor goes against our belief in the Great Wheel, and contradicts some of our oldest heritage and traditions. We are not fools, however, and the trials we suffered while facing Lyras have taught us that such practice may indeed be necessary in order to thwart her ambition, as well as protect our kin from a fate that many have already been forced to endure.
Thus it is that some of our kin have begun to accept and practice the ways of the easterners. Time will tell as to how much this has damaged our way of life, and the beliefs we brought with us from the West. To that end, there were some crude altars fashioned during our flight from the west, though we did not have much time to use them. It is now, here in the eastern lands where we seek to make a new home, that ones with more love and devotion will be created. Of course, this process has been slowed while we search out adequate land to establish new Hubs.
Regardless of where we may stand, or where our bodies fall in death, the Wheel is always there. Forever turning, it remains our guide through life, death and Tenemlor's realm of the afterlife, eventually leading us back to rebirth. But through all this, we retained our sense of self, and our connection with the land. Through all this, we retained the love and support of our Gods, who helped lead us to the uncertain safety of the east. And we retained all that we were, in our memories, and in the rare examples of runic writings we possessed.
We are, without question, careful around outsiders. It is not that we are anti-social, or lack a sense of humor or fun. Rather, we do not believe in opening our hearts and minds to those not of our people -- or at least, not without good reason. It is to my great dismay that I see my kin behaving much like that which we distantly resemble, having reached this new land and shrugged off their heritage as though it be some inconsequential cobweb marring their sight.
I cannot say what will befall us in the future, though I reside safe and secure in the knowledge that our Gods will not abandon us, nor will they turn a deaf ear to our pleas and concerns.