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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Kenly’s Tales: Factions

Kenly loved to listen to his uncle’s stories. His uncle was a shaman who would tell stories to the tribe every night. Many of his uncle’s stories were about the heroes of their tribe. Kenly had noticed many of the men of the tribe were featured in his uncle’s stories, but his father, their chief, was rarely mentioned. He knew there was enmity and rivalry between his father and uncle, so Kenly felt guilty for the pleasure he took when he listened to is uncle’s stories.
Kenly’s favorite stories were from ancient times. Long ago, according to his uncle, undisputed by his father, Kenly’s people were slaves in another world. They lived in the dominion of a terrible ancient master and were used to build and maintain the dominion of their ancient evil lord. The vitality of their spirits was drained away to empower their master who would direct that energy to the creation and maintenance of the master’s dominion.
Their ancient master warped their minds and souls and gave them forms in flesh very different from those they wore today.
Kenly’s uncle told of how One appeared who gave Kenly’s people the power of Speech. In those ancient times there were many songs, but the songs were without words. The meanings of the songs were conveyed in the tone and melody, rhythm and timbre, but were also communicated from mind to mind directly by a form of telepathy. Telepathy was then the universal form of communication, albeit typically augmented with music in the form of songs.
When that One came who gave Kenly’s people Speech, he set the stage for the exodus that followed. With Speech came the gift to shield one’s thoughts, so that the slaves were able to communicate in secret. With Speech came the power to shape the world, for the language bequeathed upon Kenly’s people by that One directed the primal forces of creation, giving the slaves powers similar to their masters’ powers.
The slaves’ new Speech was crafted upon the level of communication at which the many ancient lords and masters tapped into the vital energy of their slaves. But, while the masters commanded obedience, Speech relied on consent. Where the masters stole the vital energy of their slaves, the energy used in Speech must be freely given. The masters were confounded by Speech, they heard only grunts and mutters and wails and cries, for they were unable to comprehend that Speech was a form of communication. Although the masters noticed more and more of their slaves Speaking, they did not know it had any meaning or purpose. This allowed the slaves to plot a path to freedom independent of their masters’ interference.
Much work was required for the slaves to escape their ancient evil masters. Kenly’s ancestors were the fourth generation of spirits since Creation. The first generation was their Prime Progenitor, God. The second Generation began their lives in a formless state and created forms for themselves over time. The third generation was the progeny of the second generation; any of the third generation might spring forth from the void completely formed by some random thought or whim of their creator. The third generation was regarded as tools, they had the properties of awareness, consciousness and intelligence, but they embodied specific principals that created and maintained the dominions of their second generation masters.
The dominions had physical properties such as color, form and dimension. The routine thoughts required to give the dominions these properties were embodied in the third generation. This saved the second generation a lot of time and effort, allowing them to focus on their imaginative arts and the wars they engaged in to steal one another’s subjects. The third generation had many different forms, but their children were less refined or specialized and had more in common with one another than with any of their progenitors. They were a malleable people, taking on whatever forms were suitable or required of them.
The social order of the dominions was a typical pyramidal power structure. Those with the greatest powers, the masters and the masters’ cronies were all second generation. Other members of the second generation were the minions of the master and the master’s cronies; they became slaves held in thrall by their masters’ intellects. All of the members of the third generation were slaves, they owed their primary allegiance to their specific creator, and an implicit allegiance to their creator’s masters. The third generation had extraordinary powers, but their powers were limited to narrow principalities such as how to create fields or woodlands or caverns or the creatures that inhabited these places.
The fourth generation was created to be a reservoir of power to maintain the creations of the preceding generations. These were Kenly’s ancestors, who, by the Power of Speech were able to escape their ancient masters and create the world in which Kenly’s people took refuge following their exodus.
Kenly’s tribe preserved these stories; the warriors of the tribe re-enacted the legends while they were told in the form of songs by Kenly’s uncle. The warriors wore colorful masks to denote their roles as masters, cronies, or minions, all of which were regarded as different forms of demons by Kenly’s people. The masks of the fourth generation spirits were blood red and uniformly plain in appearance compared to the masks of the demonic ancient ones. These were the masks of The People from whom Kenly’s tribe was descended.
When Kenly’s people escaped their ancient masters they needed a new world to live in. The Power of Speech was used to define what their new world would be like. No one would be a slave in this new world, but everyone must give freely of themselves to create it. A great globe of light was created first. This globe was a pool of all the energy donated by the people to their cause.
From this energy a world was formed beneath the feet of the people. This world was designed to be self perpetuating, renewing itself from the great pool of energy in the sky. It turned beneath the golden orb of power above, so that all its many lands could partake of the glorious energy received from the great energy pool which would be named the sun.
But there were disharmonies among the people; they could not decide among themselves the specific details of their new world or the forms which they would take within it to inhabit it. To resolve the dissension among The People the great sun globe was shattered into many smaller globes that were scattered across the sky. The world that had been created beneath it was also shattered and remade into many different worlds that were scattered among the many smaller suns which were named stars.
To arbitrate further disputes the people of many of the new worlds created moons to govern the natural cycles of life and maintain order in their worlds.
Each world was protected by a covenant whereby all agreed to forever forbid their ancient masters and the cronies and minions of their ancient masters from entering their sanctuary world.
In the world of Kenly’s people The People took on forms which today are called human. The natures of plains and jungles and other habitats of their world were specifically defined, along with all the aspects of all the species of creatures which should inhabit these places.
But in spite of a moon to govern people’s urges and their dissension, trouble arose in the new world Kenly’s ancestors had made. They had left the ancient evil masters behind, but they carried within themselves the social order of the dominions in which they had been created. Some of Kenly’s ancestors were more gifted in Speech than others, and many of these more talented ones set themselves up as new masters; they recruited cronies and subjugated many of The People, recreating the social systems of their former masters’ dominions with their hallmarks of dominance, cruelty and slavery.
Those with the greatest Speech Craft grew ever more powerful at the expense of their thralls and slaves. At the epitome of their culture One appeared who subverted their Speech, sundering it so that where once only a single language had existed, now there were many languages spoken in many different places by many different tribes of people. The Power of Speech was broken into many parts and distributed among all the new languages, hidden away so that none might ever know how to use The Power of Speech as a means of gaining power over others.
Over the years since the Power of Speech was sundered, Kenly’s people migrated into new lands where they met many terrible creatures. The warriors of Kenly’s people harbored a secret that gave them great strength when facing down these monsters. They retained the power to resurrect themselves on the field of battle if they should be slain. This was a secret knowledge. Kenly became privy to this secret by sneaking about in his uncle’s yurt and among the hidden spirit camps where the warriors trained. He had not learned the details of this secret and did not believe he could resurrect himself as any of the warriors might. However he knew that in time he would receive his own training in this mystery and claim its power for his own. His older brother was already being trained to assume this power so that he could become a warrior of their tribe.
Kenly studied his uncle’s scarred and crippled countenance as his uncle prepared to tell tonight’s tale. He knew his uncle’s disfigurements were related to the enmity and rivalry between his father and uncle, but no one spoke about the problems in the brothers past that had lead to the problems between them today. Shaman and Chief, the brothers were the leaders of their tribe, but they could not agree or work together, and the strength of the tribe suffered from the division in their family, and the division of the tribe’s loyalties which grew ensued.
As the actors donned their masks in preparation for the parts they would dance in tonight’s story Kenly was sobered to observe that the warriors loyal to his father’s faction and the warriors loyal to his uncle were cast in roles representing two opposing sides of an historic battle.
Kenly’s father’s faction was cast in the role of the losers.
Kenly was privy to many secrets in his tribe, he was an accomplished sneak. The current struggle between Kenly’s uncle and Kenly’s father was linked to the power of resurrection that each of the tribe’s warriors must learn. This power was traditionally considered a sacred trust. While it was used in battles with the men of other tribes, as well as to battle with the monsters of the jungles and plains, it was never to be used for conquest or subjugation.
Kenly’s uncle wanted to cast off this restriction and subjugate the northern tribes. With the northern tribes firmly under their rule they would no longer be required to return to the south in their yearly migrations.
Kenly’s father refused, arguing that the power was a trust, and if the tribe broke the trust the power would be lost. Kenly’s father claimed that every tribe once held this power but that every tribe that had turned itself against another tribe for the purpose of conquest or subjugation had lost the power and doomed their warriors to eternal deaths.
Kenly’s uncle would not listen to these arguments, but neither could he lead their tribe to war as a cripple. All of the healers of Kenly’s tribe and several great healers from other tribes had tried to heal the terrible wounds that crippled and disfigured Kenly’s uncle; none succeeded. Some among Kenly’s tribe have said that their shaman’s outer countenance mirrored a crippled state within, but his uncle was a powerful battle mage and healer in his own right, and many the tribe’s warriors owed him debts for wounds and diseases he had healed them of.
That there were certain character traits shared among those warriors loyal to his uncle, as opposed to those loyal to his father was very clear. Bullies, tyrants and thieves typified members of his uncle’s cohorts, while his father’s friends were popularly known for their kindness, nobility and generosity.
In tonight’s story the factions of the two powerful brothers would re-enact the battle Kenly’s people fault to win their rights to their northern camp. Kenly’s tribe was being portrayed by his uncle’s faction, while the roles of their enemies were played by his father’s faction.
Kenly’s tribe was migratory, they had winter and summer camps and a dangerous trail that they followed back and forth across the seasons from one site to the other. The winter camp was only safe in winter, in summer it became a pestilential hell. Their summer camp was won in battle, but the battle ended in a truce wherein their tribe would be permitted to stay for the summers only. This was the tale being told tonight, and the conclusion was already known to all but the youngest children.
Each year summer would end with a great festival where many tribes came together to mingle and share their crafts and tales. Following the festival Kenly’s tribe would depart from their summer camp and return to their winter camp far to the south across a great range of mountains.
Tribes local to the summer camp of Kenly’s people required the lands of the summer camp each winter to help support them. They could get one final harvest in before winter came and they must rely on hunting to bring them through the lean winter months preceding spring.
So while Kenly’s tribe won the right to summers in their northern camp, every fall they ceded their summer lands to their neighbors. Kenly’s father’s faction would play the roles of the neighboring tribes who would be slaughtered in a terrible battle. The survivors would return after their defeat to beg Kenly’s people to leave in the fall. Kenly’s uncle’s faction played the role of magnanimous victors who conceded to yield the land they had won for half the year.
The tribe’s semi-annual migration was a hardship for Kenly’s people, but it also strengthened them. Fewer lives were lost upon the journey than would be lost to disease and pestilence, were they to remain in their winter camp the whole year long, as they had done for so many generations before determining to move on in search of better lands.
Kenly’s uncle maintained that their battle for the northern lands was an act of conquest proving Kenly’s father was wrong to fear that conquering all of the tribes local to their northern camp would cause them to lose their sacred power of resurrection. Kenly’s father argued that the battle had been a clear cut case of self-defense. When the tribe’s arrived their were no people in the lands they settled in. Only later, as summer drew to a close did anyone show up to challenge them for the land. By the time battle was joined three tribes were allied against Kenly’s ancestors, yet Kenly’s tribe triumphed due to their sacred secret.
Kenly’s uncle came forward, he clapped a drum strapped to his waist with his one good hand as he began to sing tonight’s tale. The story unfolded as the warriors took the places and played their parts with great ferocity. Kenly’s father’s faction fell below the spears and arrows and war axes of their foes.
But this was not acting!
A real battle was taking place before the tribe; the fallen warriors could not rise, for they dared not betray their secret power before an audience of women and children. Supporters of both factions stormed the performers and the fallen were carried away where they might be healed or resurrect themselves in secret.
Kenly looked around for his father, certain that he could have prevented this terrible fracas, but he could not find his father anywhere among his tribe.
Kenly will learn that his uncle had arranged for his father’s absence that night and for many nights to come. Should Kenly’s father remain away from the tribe for a complete cycle off the moon he will be banished. Banishment is tantamount to death among Kenly’s people.
Over the next month Kenly will grow increasingly concerned, when, day after day, his father fails to return.
For those of you reading about Kenly for the first time in my Blog, welcome to Kenly’s Tales. I will try to share more about Kenly and his tales at another time.