Rabyn

When the Prophecies kicked into gear, Humak was the Beast Lord, king over Sangrar’s animal kingdom, but by the time things came to an end, he was much more.  Not in the eyes of Mankind.  To them, he was what his title suggested, nothing more and nothing less, an obscure god from Sangrar’s past, one to be acknowledged but not burdened with too many prayers.

It was among the gods that his place had been elevated and he owed that to Nammath’s long unwavering service (more on that to come) and his father.  He took after Aerdran, who greeted him that first day (from afar, Zuras’s Ban still held him) with hawk and rabbit.  Lillandra was his mother and Shamran his brother, but the Beast Lord was closest to Aerdran and his half-sister, the Earth Mother.

Humak became a Prophecy rock star when he appeared at Leyrantha with the Earth Mother to witness Nammydan and Elryssa’s marriage.  Elryssa was a princess of the Grey Elves and Nammydan was the famous middle son of the Nammoran the Firstborn.  Nammydan had been in the grove, studying with the Harnae for decades, when the Seeress made a surprise visit (one of two such visits, the second was after Ilnaya’s kidnapping, when only Tarik remained in the grove.  Neither visit was looked up with favor by the grove’s inhabitant[s]).  She was the one, if you’ll remember, who had shown the Harnae the grove in the first place, in exchange for a promise to teach Nammoran and his heirs.  The Seeress told the Harnae that Nammydan must leave the grove even though his lessons were incomplete.   His brother Kandol, she said, would come to them later and after the Harnae taught him, they’d have met their end of the bargain.

A higher destiny awaited Nammydan.  He had to save Elryssa.  She’d been bitten by an Ulgarja and lay in a poisoned swoon.  If Nammydan didn’t help soon, she’d perish, and at the time, no one had ever died.  Sudnar smiled on Nammydan and he reached Elryssa in time.  The two fell in love and decided to elope rather than listen to Ylindelay’s fuss for the next decade while planning a glorious reception.   Nammydan and Elryssa didn’t need or want a big ceremony with lots of rice throwing and bouquets.  They were happy enough just cuddling and so they went to Leyrantha, to swear eternal love while standing in the Stones.

Ravirs gathered by the Stones to watch the happy couple exchange vows.  Humak and the Earth Mother blessed them and their unborn children, and in exchange, the couple promised the children to the gods’ service.  They sealed the deal with spit and a handshake, never dreaming what they’d signed up for, or how long their sons would pay.

The price went unpaid a long time, until the weekend Andis took her Test of the Stones.  It was a grand occasion.  Andis’s reputation had spread, particularly after she’d stolen prayers from Calavenna at Najahar, and expectations for her were high.  Andis came north ahead of her family to train with the Ravirs for the big event and a few days before the Test, went off into the Elvetur on her own to practice at an untended ring of Stones.  When she drew power from the Stones, a Maldok escaped the Darkhold and might have killed her had an unfamiliar Elf not leapt into the ring of Stones and defeated it.  Andis locked eyes with her savior and fell for him instantly and completely.  She’d found her soul mate and the feeling was mutual.  They lay together in the Stones to consummate their love, and then, after it was over, exchanged names.  To her horror, Andis learned that her lover was Nammath, son of Nammydan, her father’s brother.  Nammath was her cousin, her first cousin, which went against Lillandra’s rules.  In shame, she fled the Stones and saw Nammath only one more time in all the centuries to follow, until the Gates of Heaven crumbled, but her feelings for him, wrong as they were, never quite faded.   From afar, Nammath watched her pass the Test, transform into Andis the Goddess and become the eyes of the world.  Then, Humak the Beast Lord appeared before Nammath and said the time had come to make good on his parent’s oath.

Nammath entered the service of the Beast Lord.  The worst part of it was disappearing immediately.  It’s not like he had any choice on timing – he had to exit stage left right then, while the Andis’s Test hid him from the Dark Lord.  The Prophecies gave One-Eye reason to fear Nammoran’s line, and he always kept an eye (but not two, LOL) on them.  Nammath had a trick that let him go largely unnoticed and that day he used it like never before.  With the Test providing cover, and his master’s assistance, Nammath disappeared so entirely that he was nearly forgotten.  Some remnant of him remained in the minds of his loved ones, but thereafter, magik or instinct kept them from saying his name.  Names held power and by losing his, Nammath was invisible to the Dark Lord and to everyone save Kandol, only a shadow of a memory.

Nammath’s only farewell was with Kandol, whom he swore to secrecy.  He told Kandol everything – how he and Andis had met, how Humak had come a calling, how he must now vanish and most importantly, how his name must be Kandol’s greatest secret.  He couldn’t trust anyone else with the truth, no one but Kandol would understand.  They were paying their parent’s debt, he with the Beast Lord and Kandol with the Maiden.  He made Kandol promise to keep his secret and to keep Andis safe.

I pieced all this together after the Long Night.  Kandol didn’t talk about his brother, not once in the ten years I spent at Pel Aesylle.  He couldn’t.  The ancient magik still kept Nammath hidden.  When his name was finally uttered, the true Warrior Prince and Priestess would be united for the first and final time.

I don’t think Nammath knew how much he was asking of Kandol, let alone all the consequences.  This was the first of Kandol’s great promises, the one that started it all.  The string of lies started with this one and they tore him and Calavenna apart.  His promise made him evasive and he began spending more and more time at Leyrantha with Andis.   Cal wanted more than friendship with Kandol (this was before he met Velora), but he wasn’t ready for anything more.  She’d have to settle for being his best friend.  Kandol’s lies and evasions bothered Cal.  She knew he couldn’t love Andis, they were cousins after all, but she assumed Andis knew everything Kandol held back from her and became jealous of the high priestess.

Kandol wasn’t as open with Andis as Calavenna believed.  Nammath’s secret remained safe with Kandol, along with centuries of promises, lies and guilt.  Kandol’s service to the Maiden prompted his vow to Thar and Raena centuries later, and that in turn led to him sending Maelryn and Emerre to Sangrithar to advise and protect Thar’s heirs.  Through it all, Nammath remained his [and Velora’s], secret.

To keep Nammath company, Humak presented him with Orrin and Nilla, a hawk and a small spotted rabbit.  The three of them disappeared into the Westlands for the rest of the Elder Days.  Nammath stalked the lands near the Caverns of Gloom and developed a new reputation as the Forest Elf, a hunter and slayer of Dark Ones.

The Humadin tribes of Fanar’s northern steppes were named after the Beast Lord.  They were a simple, communal people who loved the outdoors.  They weren’t nomads, though many thought they were, they just didn’t see a need for big cities.  Each tribe lived in a different part of the steppes and built homes from whatever nature provided.  In the central region that meant wood longhouses and along the river, adobe huts.  The clans traded with each other and arranged marriages to keep the bloodlines fresh.

There were seven tribes named for creatures from Humak’s domain:  Bear, Bison, Eagle, Horse, Leopard, Snake and Wolf, plus the ram, which every tribe held in high esteem to honor the Beast Lord’s horns.  The Humadin dressed similarly to and shared customs with native Americans, including beaded leather and a love for silver and turquoise jewelry, but looked more European.  They were a dark-eyed people, short and athletic, with round, clean-shaven faces, fair skin and hair braided a dozen different ways.  The Bardallas leading the tribes were wise shamans, steeped in ancient lore.  They were also hippies who sipped mushroom tea to trip into the spirit world.

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