Huenantli – The Old Mother Oasis

The W’adrhŭn civilization is by and large painfully disillusioned in their beliefs. Their living goddess is no illusive divinity but a living and breathing ruler who walks among them. The origin of their people is not shrouded in mystery, nor is the purpose of their existence the fuel for never-ending philosophical or religious debates, but rather the subject of both private and public discussions. Their certainties in life have been an immense influence on their civilization and its pragmatic approach to life.

That, however, does not strip their every day lives from dosages of mysticism and superstitions. As a young civilization, still taking uncertain steps and in many ways forced into maturity by the Ukunfazane, the W’adrhŭn revel in their ritualism and perhaps the greatest proof to that is their approach to their grand oases and especially the Huenantli.

The very name Åsiss’ti Huenantli – the Oasis of the Old Mother – can serve as a good indication about the W’adrhŭn mentality and poetic nature. Forged by the remnants of the Abhoreth Spire – birthplace of their people – and the cornucopia of raw materials and specimens trapped in its bowels, Huenantli is believed to be the first Oasis to be settled by the W’adrhŭn. Facing extinction in the barren Wastelands during the years that followed the Cataclysm of the Fall, it is said that the few handfuls of survivors screamed the name “Huenantli!” when they laid their exhausted eyes on its blooming paradise for the first time. While the Ukunfazane tried to nip – or even cull – such venerations in the bud, in her later absence the name was remembered and established in the minds of its denizens.

While the discovery of the Oasis spelled salvation in the desperate eyes of the W’adrhŭn, the first few years of settling it were anything but peaceful or prosperous. Spire creations and even survivors of the Battle of the Bloody Dawn had claimed the untamed jungle, lighting the fuse for an explosive war for territory. Under the leadership of the Ukunfazane, the W’adrhŭn would show no quarter; beast, clone and monster would fall under their primitive weapons and ruthless efficiency – but it did not happen either fast or without losses. Prioritizing the preservation of her limited population, the Ukunfazane would move as carefully as she did unyieldingly. By the end of the first year, the W’adrhŭn had claimed significant water supplies in the outer rings of the oasis and had established outposts and raised watchtower platforms on the tallest trees. For the better part of the next three years, they would concentrate on replenishing their numbers, their food and water supplies guaranteed by dangerous hunts in the deeper parts of the oasis, while their warriors trained by performing expeditions against monsters and exile creations alike. Those years would mark the birth of the Hunter caste, as well as the foundations of the Bound system; survival demanded the attention of the Ukufazane more than it treasured individuality. Once these basic principles were established in a primitive and simplified form compared to what is applied today, only then did the Ukunfazane muster her warriors and launched her campaign to conquer the core of the oasis.

It would take her two years to clear the oasis enough for the W’adrhŭn to truly call it their own, to the extent that they would, although it would take more than twice that time for the broken shell of ancient Abhoreth to come under their control. Even then – and largely to this day still – its bowels remained unexplored and untouched. This was due to three reasons: first, the root system of a Spire, especially an old one such as Abhoreth had been before its fall, can be immense, the Underspire anything short of a metropolis in its own right. Second, the bowels of a Spire, living or dead, can be extremely dangerous places, even to the hardest of warriors. Whatever abominations and monstrosities the Spires safekeep in the root system of the Spires remained untouched, their vats unleashing them without warning at irregular and unpredictable times. What’s more, the careful balance of its delicate ecosystem, largely reliant on highly toxic fumes and corrosive liquids, crumbles without the careful maintenance of its Pheromantic keepers, making the tunnels a living hell to most living organisms.

Last, but in no way least, even if they had decided to brave the dangers of the broken Underspire, the W’adrhŭn were – and to this day still are – loathe to tamper with the unpredictable ecosystem forged by the broken Abhoreth. Whatever powers and materials had been unleashed by the Spire’s fall had fueled the precious paradise of the oasis and if meddling with it could spell its destruction or decline, the W’adrhŭn were unwilling to test it. Legends and tales about the Darkbowel run rampart to this day; a Fifth god awaits sleeping, an entire society of Clones still live in it, the secret to immortality for the W’adrhŭn awaits within, taken from them by their Spire creators… Those are but a few examples but the any W’adrhŭn better think twice or thrice before trying to test their validity. To this day, venturing beyond the few opened tunnels and halls of the Underspire is a crime punishable by death and all cave-ins and entrances discovered are guarded. If that means that the denizens of Huenantli have to live with the echoes of shrieks, chitters and growls from the bowels of the earth, then so be it.

In the absence of the Ukunfazane after her departure, the Oasis quickly deteriorated into an arena for a bloody free-for-all between the different settlements, as Tribe divisions were carved and chieftains were raised left and right. Many tales claim that all that is savage and bloody in W’adrhŭn society stems from these years of their Goddess’ absence. The tales have some merit, as practices such as the mandatory Bound servitude of conquered tribes, for instance, were born during that time. But the truth is that the Ukunfazane never abolished them, despite the centuries of W’adrhŭn generations that have passed since then.

Many Tribes were forced to leave the abundance of the Huenantli during those years. Some would become the first roaming Tribes that learned to live off the Wastelands. Others would eventually find the other Oases, and the circle of blood and battle would begin anew there. Others still, however, were lost forever, each loss a blow to a new people that struggled to find its place in the world. Despite its bloody past, Huenantli today is perhaps the most prosperous oasis, a regular haven for the Ukunfazane herself – and the most endangered settlement of the W’adrhŭn. Too close for comfort to the rising threat of the Old Dominion, Matriarch Indilla of the Ozomatli finds herself under cold and unfamiliar shadows. As close to a political leader as the W’adrhŭn can produce, many fear that Indilla is ill-equipped to counter the existential threat that the Old Dominion poses. She disagrees. Ready to delegate when she must, Indilla has already sent one of the Oasis’ best predators to scout the movements of the dead, while her Braves and beasts prepare for the worst, guided by their leaders. She has also decreed that all Tribes of Huenantli are responsible for their territories but that they each must sent one warrior for every four they have to serve in a rapid response army, which will serve to enhance the defenses of any Tribe of the Oasis under threat. While the order was ill-received, it has been followed; time will only show if it will prove enough or if the Queen will take further steps to ensure the survival of the W’adrhŭn’s ancestral home.

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