The W'adrhŭn

Building a Civilization

It is often believed that the greatest challenge that W’adrhŭn ever faced was the Fall; stranded under cold and darkness, while ashes of anything green still settled around them, it is hard to imagine surviving the scarred Wastelands as they did at the time. And yet, survive they did, and while the Fall certainly exacted a heavy toll, the fledgling people would endure and find, eventually, the Huenantli oasis. Their true challenge, some Cultists of Famine sign, would still lie ahead and yet it was in their darkest of hours that the foundations of their thriving culture would be laid.

Warriors without peer from their very inception, the W’adrhŭn would soon adapt to their new environment, becoming adept hunters, hunting down the monstrosities that would plague them and making the oasis safer for their population. It was during this period that the W’adrhŭn discovered the Speakers among their own population. With their help, some of the creatures of the oases would slowly be shaped into cautious companions and beasts of burden. What is more, their goddess would have them forge a proper, unified form of communication for her people, uniquely adapted to their physiology. Equipped with weapons other than the ones they held and with the oases providing enough resources to secure at least the survival of their small numbers, the fledgling race could look forward to understanding  and evolving in the world around it rather than simply surviving in it.

Primal engineering and material management began, and the foundations of the true settlements were laid. For the first time, rather than efforts being concentrated on the preservation of the population, numbers grew. Thinking her people were safe and the times ahead prosperous, the Ukunfazane sought to explore the world to find what other threats and opportunities existed. She left her people and put her progeny in charge of steering and protecting the population in her absence. But the very inexperience and naivety she sought to address through her travels, would cost her people in her absence.

The relative safety the small population enjoyed during that time would soon prove fragile. As the population expanded, the demands placed on the nascent W’adrhŭn society by their own dietary requirements and the incredibly hostile nature of their environment, slowly forced them to adopt a mentality of ruthless pragmatism. The strong were revered and the weak were abandoned, and while their numbers still grew, hope slowly vanished behind a façade of barbarism justified by necessity.

Division was inevitable as different groups would gather round or be forced to follow stronger individuals that were capable of securing food. These chieftains, who would raise banners and fights between them, were ruthless and brutal, carving deep lines between the different groups until, as generations passed, these groups and banners would give birth to the concept of tribes. Many of them, usually the weakest, were driven to the outskirts of the oasis, forced to scrape a living from whatever they could steal. Some fled the oasis entirely, knowing nothing of the world beyond. The luckiest among them would find other oases spawned by the rest of the fallen Spires. Others would learn to survive from the meek offerings of the Wasteland, occasionally raiding the richer tribes, only to flee to the wastelands once more. Some, however, would be lost forever, their names, banners and chieftains forgotten because of their weakness.

Upon her return, the goddess looked upon her people and despaired. Trapped in her prolonged lifespan, she realized that for her short-lived people, decades had been enough to reduce them to violence and brutality once more, driven by circumstance and the unfettered influence of the Primes in their blood alike. She had traveled the world, beheld the ruined marvels of the Old Dominion and the arcing technological majesty of the City States. She had traveled through the teeming populations of the kingdoms, discovered writing, literature, drama, music — only to return and find her people circling in a dark pit of barbarism and cruelty.

Seeing no other solution, she personally took control of the tribes, slaying countless would-be claimants and challengers. While even-tempered and gracious to those who capitulated, she had no compunction in extinguishing those tribes she saw as too far gone. She waded into the fight for the soul of the W’adrhŭn race itself, embracing her divinity as a tool to force the tribes to adapt to a new way of doing things.

And yet, for all its wonder and majesty, the world she had met in her travels was neither a peaceful nor a safe place. Her people had ventured down a path she had never wished for them — this much was true — one she thought that would have proven their ultimate destruction, had they been allowed to walk to its end. Yet in their division and warmongering, her people had remained industrious and the Ukunfazane was not one to disregard what she saw as gifts, if properly controlled. What lessons they had learned harshly, about survival, about fighting, about the dangers of the oases and the scarce gifts of the wastelands, the goddess would adopt and ensure their knowledge was passed down from one generation to the next. During her absence, the Speakers, once tools for the advancement and security of the forming civilization, had weaponized their gift and, with it, their beasts; this, she knew, would prove to be an asset to her people. The division into tribes offered versatility and their clashes would keep them well trained and experienced, without posing a civilization-ending threat. They had even expanded their territory, discovering new oases, new beasts, new tools for the entire people to use.

Despite the adoration she enjoyed, her work was neither easy nor fast — not for her people anyway. She taught a new language for everyday use, one influenced by the ones used by humans, and through it she promoted storytelling and singing, while the mystifying language and primal chants the Speakers had developed were turned into tools of war, to ensure communication in battle. Violent and primitive customs such as binding enemies into servitude to provide food for the tribe would be turned into the practice of the Bound; she would channel and shackle the violent practices of individuals strongly influenced by the strands of her dead siblings onto rituals and traditions that offered them purpose. Only this time, the short-life span of her worshippers would prove a boon to her. It took little more than a century for the Ukunfazane to change the very foundation of the civilization of the tribes. Since then, the W’adrhŭn have expanded and even prospered where none other dared to venture. The oases became permanent, almost peaceful settlements large enough to resemble proper towns, led by a defined hierarchy with specific succession rules. Tribes outside the oases led, perhaps, a harsher life; their strength, however, would remain such that new settlements would be founded in the once ash-covered, then rich and bountiful fields of the Old Dominion. While in time these were abandoned and those tribes were forced into a nomadic lifestyle once more, the lifestyle, peace, and prosperity they had offered were kept alive through tribal storytelling tradition, providing for a new drive, new aspirations, and new ways of life for the tribes. During the centuries that followed, the W’adrhŭn society as we know it today was shaped, based on distinct roles, practices, and groups of influence, forming a civilization with goals, aspirations, and a vision for the future.

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