Mythology: Paths to Divinity

Section 3: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

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Mythology

Table of Contents

Preface

Section I: Gods and Goddesses

Section III: Myths and Religions of other Peoples

 

Myths of the Furrag

 - Page 1 -


Preamble: The following article was written by Scipio Robhovardus, a valued friend of mine who has dedicated himself to the god Mercury. (A note for the readers unacquainted with Roman deities; Mercury is akin to the god Nash’Geo in that the fleet-footed god takes care of travellers.) Scipio is no priest, nor was he born a Roman. His origins are somewhat murky, but since he has taken the name Robhovardus, I assume that the southern land is his home.

My friend Scipio has journeyed oft-times to the lands of the Furrag, across the icy Winter’s Bridge leading south from Robhovard’s furthest tip, crossable only in the coldest months of the year. There he has learned much of the Furrag, quite likely more than anyone else in our world may claim, even those at a court employing Furrag. I wouldn’t know whom else to turn to in my search for enlightening sources, and so I am grateful that Scipio has taken the time to write the following pages.

G.A.Q.

 

The race of Furrag is rarely counted among the sentient ones of our world. Our fellow beings are quick to discard them from our ranks as a near-bestial species, as close to the animal kingdom as an emperor dragon. We find it difficult to liken ourselves to a people given to consuming raw flesh, using its brute power to hunt and kill – rarely choosing between sentient and bestial prey.

To many a person on our world, a Furrag is akin to a lion or a dragon. A majestic predator, but barely given the ability to comprehend the world. They can be tamed, many think, to a degree that they make formidable warriors, but you should never turn your back on them.

It is true that Furrag are among the most cruel races on our world – by our own standards. Those, we have to remind ourselves, are not the only measures that exist.

If we open our minds, we can see that Furrag indeed are sentient, and that they do possess a civilization of their own. It is not as developed as our own, not as given to the use of tools, yet it is there – and there is also a mythology, a belief, a faith.

The latter point is my primary concern in this article. I would like to shed some light on the beliefs of the Furrag, and through this exploration on this race’s rich and valid history.

 

First off, we need to realize that the Furrag of today may not be all that this race has ever been. Split into many tribes living well apart from each other, their kind seems unlikely to build a civilization as we understand it, with cities and fortresses. Or one that sends its ambassadors and explorers out in the world, to make an impression on other races.

Yes, an impression that is kept aside from the internal fear the common races have of the brutish-looking Furrag. I have found that some of the languages of Robhovard share elements with the Furrag tongue Rágùm, elements that are more fitted to the mouths of Furrag than humans. Interestingly, the word for “chief” in several Robhovardian languages is clearly a derivation from the Furrag word “kèhal”. [A kèhal today is the man presiding over a gathering of tribes, which happens very rarely. It seems to me, though, that in past days, the gatherings were more common, and that a kèhal could rather be likened to a king.]

It is from such linguistic findings as well as my own conversations with Furrag in their homeland [which has no common name in their various sub-languages; lengthy studies might provide a root word] that I have come to believe that once the Furrag race was more like our own civilizations, with larger and constant settlements, structures running throughout their culture. My supposition here is that at some point in the past, their homeland was considerably warmer than today, and that a devastation – perhaps connected with the tale of King Cornevan and his Atrocity – caused their climate to slip into the frosty nightmare it is now. [This is especially supported by the descriptions in their old tales, which describe a land with grass, and with animals that cannot be found in their realms anymore.]

With that in mind, we should look at the tales and myths of the Furrag. They are not the fixed and permanent sort our our history, since Rágùm knows no written form, and these are carried from generation to generation through oral retelling. [Thus, a number of variations have occurred, from which the primary myth must be distilled.]

Neither must we forget that the following tales can in no way be seen as historical accounts. What roots there exist in fact are descriptions of the styles of life, not so of the persons or their actions. The characters and events of the Furrag tales have been transposed into a world aside from our own, one that stands symbolic of the minds and thoughts of the Furrag. Looking at many of the tales we wonder why anyone would act in such a fashion, or how the oft-times fantastic events could have occurred (even taking into account the employ of magic). Yet we should not burden ourselves with such doubts, due to the symbolic nature of the tales.

 

How Krauvill the Charger Was Born

When Kéhal Balash, Master of the Four Keeps, was in the middle of his years, a woman came to his court. The warriors reigned abuse on the ugly, aged crone, her fur gray and shaggy, her facial hair falling out. But Balash took pity on her and offered her a place by his side at the meal. The warriors cried in disgust, yet dared not to vacate their places in the circle around their kéhal.

Balash gave the woman a slice from the kill and asked her for her name.

“I am called Trûnk,” she replied, then closed her fangs around the meat.

Balash nodded, satisfied, and turned to his own feast. In silence they ate, the warriors’ cheerful voices stilled by the presence of ugly Trûnk amidst them. When no meat was left, Balash rose and cried to announce a new hunt. “My belly is not sated! Bring fresh of the bear, bring fresh of the icevole, bring fresh of the deer!”

Before the warriors could rise, the crone said, “Hunt not the deer, hunt not the vole. Let it be the bear that gives itself to your feeding. This Trûnk says in gratitude for hospitality given.”

At that Balash laughed. “Thus it shall be! Hear, warriors, that this is the day of the bear. And not any. We shall sally into the thickets of Krùmnar Forest and hunt for Larrt herself, the White Bear Who Slew Many, the Beast of Centuries. While hunts for generations have failed, while many proud Men fell to Larrt’s claws and fangs, today our hunt shall not fail. The White Bear’s meat shall be our feast in the night!”

The warriors cheered and readied themselves to go out, wrapping their waymeat in leathers. Trusted Houl, Second Eater [this term can be understood as a sort of Deputy King], wrapped the meat for Balash. The kéhal, when given it, laughed anew. “We hunt Larrt, the White Bear, today. I need no wayfare, for my belly hungers for the precious true meat. Here, Trûnk, you eat of the meat,” he said and gave the leather-wraps to the crone. Balash bent his head. “It is the kéhal’s duty to protect and feed. Within the Four Keeps, my people shan’t go hungry.”

“No, worthy Balash,” the crone said, “they shan’t. As you give food to your kind, you will give food to the land.”

With that Trûnk stood, kept the wrapped meat to her chest and strode off, out of the keep and into the woods from whence she had come.

Kéhal and warrior gave little thought to the crone whilst they readied for their adventurous hunt. The White Bear, the Great Beast. Once more they would sally to hunt it, and this would be the Day of Days, the Day When The Bear Filled Their Bellies.

For a day and a half, they went in search of Larrt. Many a boar fell to their claws and their fangs, before they found the tracks of the White Bear. Her gleaming fur they saw not, but her prints, burrowed deep into the mud from the weight of her meat, they saw and followed. Balash, hungry from eating sparingly of the boars, felt faint, yet ran with the abandon of youth, leaving Houl and the warriors behind for the White Bear must be near.

The kéhal ran through forest, passed the border of woods and into a land of mud and slush where no grass grew to feed a meaty animal that would feed the Men of the Four Keeps. Ridges of dirt, greaves of muddy rivulets, and yet there was Larrt’s trail to which Balash’s eyes were fastened. On and on he ran while the sun traveled across the sky, about to be swallowed by Drúol [most easily translated as the “Deep Dark”, though there are more meanings to the name].

When Drúol’s smile at the feast gleamed on the horizon [the sunset; this is a fixed expression in the Furrag sagas], Balash came to a cave set in a hill. He heard the White Bear’s howl from inside, yet when he walked in to measure his strength with Larrt’s, there was only a maiden he saw in the light of the moon. She was young and fair, her fur as white as freshly fallen snow.

“You are the kéhal of the land,” she said. “You may rest here for the night before taking up the hunt again. Rest here with me, so you will be fresh and strong.” The maiden raised a boar she had caught herself, and the beast’s blood raised Balash’s appetites.

He decided to stay, and he ate of the boar, and he rested with the maiden. On the morning after, the kéhal told the maiden to head for one of his keeps so he could return hospitality. “Nay,” the maiden replied, “hospitality already is returned.”

She ran past Balash out of the cave, towards the horizon. The kéhal ran after her, yet his strength gave out when he reached the trees of Krùmnar Forest and saw his warriors again. Together they took up the hunt anew, and they found Larrt, and she gave mighty battle. Seven warriors fell to her before the first claws of Man raked her hide, and seven more shed their meat before Balash could close with the White Bear, its fur like bloodied snow. Balash wrestled with the bear, and the bear wrestled with him.

They tore at each other’s meat, drank of each other’s blood, willing to go on forever lest the other yield. Then Balash took hold of Larrt’s head, hugged his arms to her neck and squeezed with all the might of his arms. For a long time he held on, until the White Bear’s life failed her, and Larrt lay dead before the kéhal.

“Verily,” Balash said and drank a refreshing draught from the bear’s blood, “this is a Day of Days. Hear all, it is as the crone had said. We hunted not the deer, we hunted not the vole, we hunted the bear, and our bellies shall be sated in a Great Feast.”

Then Balash and his warriors began to eat, praising fallen Larrt’s gift of herself. When the last of her meat was devoured, Houl pricked up his ears and said, “Do you hear the cries from the woods?”

Indeed they did. The cries were those of a young bear, and when they went to find out, Balash found a cub within the thicket. The bear cub’s fur was as white as falling snow, matted by birthing blood, and when it saw Balash, the cub charged him, rammed him to the ground and ran away.

Houl took up the chase. He ran after the cub, but it charged now him, to escape in the same manner it had the kéhal.

The warriors assembled, and they found that their lord was fallen. His blood was drenching the ground. “A cub,” Balash muttered in wonderment. “A cub only, and yet its charge was stronger than its mother’s. It has true warrior’s blood in its veins. I name him Krauvill. Hear, warriors, for Krauvill the Charger is amongst us.”

With that, he died.

And Houl now heard the cries of a babe in the wood, a cub of Man. The tracks of the bear cub led to its feet, and the Man-cub’s white fur was matted with blood. Thus Krauvill the Charger was born and came to be raised by the Second Eater.

 

One of the most interesting points to note about the Furrag tales is how easily they accept bodily transformations. Krauvill, a great hero of their myths, is always seen as a Furrag (a “Man” in their own usage of the word), the son of Balash and Larrt. There is no wondering how a bear cub could change into a Furrag cub, or how the mating of Furrag and bear could produce such offspring.

Also there is no doubt in the interpretations that both the crone Trûnk and the maiden in the cave are alternate representations of the White Bear Larrt herself.

The Furrag do not see much of a difference between themselves and the beasts of nature, as far as their tales are concerned. With little care they feed on boars and bears and other beasts, yet at the same time accept that a cub of these animals might become one of their own kind. They are a part of nature, and nature is a part of them.

As the crone said to Balash, “As you give food to your kind, you will give food to the land.” It was Balash’s own meat that became food for the land. (In the symbolism of the story, he gave himself to his son Krauvill, as Larrt had done before. In that it would be Krauvill who consumed both his parents’ meat – although I have to stress that Furrag customs separate wildly here. Some tribes shun feeding on their own kind as heartily as do our own, others view their own dead as fresh meat – indeed some believe they praise the fallen when they eat their meat. I leave it to the reader to decide what would have become of Balash and Larrt.)

What else can we deduce of the tale?

Primarily that the Furrag view nature as a kind of Mother Goddess. (Not dissimilar to our own notion of “Mother Nature”.) She is represented here as the White Bear – in its various incarnations: there is the old crone who stands for winter and cold; there is the young maiden in the springtime of her years; there is the White Bear herself, in the full of her summery time. [One might note that Fall is not represented here. There are variants of the tale which include a Furrag mate of Balash’s; her descriptions indicate her autumnal nature.]

Moreover, we have to see that Balash himself attains the status of a deity within the confines of this tale. It is he who gives of his meat to the crone and who lies with the maiden, and by his separation from the “warriors”, he is given a physical (or should that be metaphysical) enhancement over his fellow Furrag. Balash is shown as an equal to the omnipotent goddess – in fact, he is superior since he bests Larrt in battle (although then he falls to their combined offspring’s charge).

Still, the male “god” is directed and commanded by the female deity, which is an important element of this tale to remember. “Mother Nature” is all-commanding.

[It is also important to see that the ancient Furrag seem to suffer a certain confusion on how children are created. Although the version I have related here contains the scene with the maiden, some others – apparently more ancient – only show the moments of giving meat to the crone, which satisfied the ancients as to how progeny was procured. We can deduce from this that the male role was rather understated in those days; “he” was a procurer of fresh meat, a protector from (other) predators but not a participator in reproduction, wherefore the maternal figure (and thus the goddess) was more important. Might the ancient, pre-civilization Furrag have been a matriarchal society? It is a thought worthy of further study, but that would well explode beyond the confines of this article.]

We are also introduced to the idea of a mythical hero being raised not by his natural parents but by a foster-father (here Houl). This idea is repeated on several occasions and indicates that the original Furrag society had a practice of handing children over to foster-parents. Unfortunately we cannot say much more beyond this, and my own studies have brought little enlightenment to this topic.

 Read on in the second part!