Six Tribes and Five Spirits
By EM Malachi
The old shaman placed a bowl of stew into the stranger’s hand and watched as he took a taste. Intanya then resumed his seat behind his two grandchildren, who were watching the newcomer with interest. “It is our way that one of the tribe tell a story while the others eat. As our guest, you have the right of first refusal.” When the stranger did not speak, Intanya continued, “Very well, I will tell one. What would you all like to hear?”
The two children whispered for a moment before the little girl spoke, “Tell us about the spirits, grandfather.”
The elder considered for a moment before beginning the tale:
“After the World-Builders had been cast out, all that remained was ruin. Eodon’s people had served the Builders, but now they had nothing. Where once there was one great family, humanity was scattered in six directions.
The Jukari were those who had fought fiercely on the side of the World-Builders. Because of this, they were hunted by the Myrmidex, until only a handful remained. Those few had lost all hope, so rather than flee, they chose to make their final stand at the base of a tall mountain. Surrounded by ten score of fearsome insects, they shouted their defiance before a final charge. With a great rumbling, the mountain joined its voice to theirs. Then the Fires of Kukuzz embraced them, and fingers of lava forced the enemy to scatter and flee. This victory is why the Jukari chose to make a new life for themselves in the shadow of their protector.
The Urali descended from those who had excavated the artificial waterways of the World-Builders. When the ruin came, they followed the river, looking for purpose. The wind over the waters carried to them the saddest song any of them had ever heard. There were no words, but it was deep and mournful. Following the sound, they saw a dragon turtle wrapping her eggs in edible plants. When she was done, she waded into the river and swam away. Those who would become the Urali waited for her to return, but she never did. Eventually, they chose to live by the river, ever searching for Fabozz of the Waters.
Those who are called Barako wandered into the deepest jungles and found survival very difficult. Starving, they came upon a troop of apes, feasting on fruits gathered from the tallest trees. At the center of the group was the largest gorilla any had ever seen: Aphazz. This great ape was surrounded by piles of bananas and was sharing this sustenance with his subjects. Some of the Barako tried to run in and grab fruits, but the silverback swatted them away with his giant fists. Those who tried to fight the gorilla were broken by his strength. Finally, a small boy approached the ape and bowed his head. The ape nodded at the child and threw him a bunch of bananas. Following the boy’s lead, the remaining Barako paid their respects to the great ape, and each was given their first meal in days. From then on, each generation, Aphazz has been reborn as the largest and strongest of the silverback gorillas. Sometimes, Aphazz is a friend to the Barako, and other times, he views them as rivals. When the mortal body of Aphazz dies, the skull is kept, a reminder of their respect for strength.
Some humans were lost in the most wild parts of Eodon, places even the World-Builders had not tamed. After days of avoiding the giant reptiles, they met a stranger with a scarred face who said his name was Heluzz. He was a skilled archer and taught the Sakkhra how to make bows to hunt the reptiles from a safe distance. He lived with them for many weeks, helping them survive. There then came a great roaring, and Heluzz warned it was the king of the thunder lizards. He told the tribe to stay hidden, and he would lead the beast away. After some time, the Sakkhra started to discuss the matter. The archer was one of them, and no matter how great the threat, he should not face it alone. Leaving hiding, they followed the great tracks of the creature until they came to the base of a cliff. There they found the dinosaur dead, struck down by stones from an avalanche. In the detritus, they found an old human skull, which claw marks had scarred down to the bone.
Finally, I will speak of our tribe. The Kurak people settled in the open grasslands of Eodon. Many of our tribe had gathered and prepared food for the World-Builders, so they were a timid people. Still, they managed to survive and prosper. One day, across the plain came a great roar. It called to the Kurak people, awakening a courage they had not previously known. They ran toward the sound. There they found an entire pride of tigers being slaughtered by the Myrmidex. All that remained alive were a few cubs. Seeing the scene, the spirit of Motazz drove our ancestors into a frenzy. Fiercely, they drove off the insects, claiming the entire plain for humans and tigers. The Kurak people then raised the surviving tiger cubs as their own, and Motazz has favored us ever since.
As for the sixth and final people: those who are called the Barrab have no spirit, as they welcomed the destruction of the World-Builders and emulate their failed creations. The Myrmidex they worship grant them no boons, and they are shunned as a people.”
As Intanya finished, he noticed that the stranger had risen to leave. The man walked into the dark jungle, and for a moment, there was a flash of blue fire.