Liridon's Notes

Renewal

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There are a scant few scholars and historians who have had the unique opportunity to live on the secluded island nation of Homanoah. I actually met Master Historian Satrakks personally. They were hired to translate the Renewal myth into Shunniran by a university professor of Eysan studies. They confided that the copy made with footnotes and taken back to Eysan would have them barred from ever setting foot on Homanoah again. It's fuzzy whether I am committing a crime myself by copying it down. My only wish is to protect worldly knowledge from being lost and forgotten. May the Great Devourer and his people please forgive me if I have offended them in doing so.

The natural life cycle of one who pleases Ko'mo is this:

Born a child, grow into a man, bend with age into a salamander.

Now, you will see many these days who bend with age and do not transform into a lithe, plump shape, nimble and free, honored by all Homahnoans. Many men spend their whole lives and enter their deaths in the same skin. In this age, few have pleased Ko'mo as they once did, that He would give them another lifetime in a favored form – truly living as His children.

But once, all men could become salamanders. [1]

In the days of Keahkawen, there was a man who fed the fires of Ko'mo dutifully. He pledged himself to the Great Salamander's will and honored the pillars of His might – obedience, community, purity, and appetite. [2]

But as the years passed, he felt himself hampered in his devotion by his body's failures. The ashes of the holy fire chafed his skin and irritated his breathing. The spark of Ko'mo's great flame that He granted to all His people sank low within the man, and he mourned its banking. [3]

One day, the man journeyed to the highest peak of Oakalwilko, to make his final obeisance to the Great Devourer.

As the aged man made his way up the rough path, he saw movement in the shadows along the way. A small salamander was keeping pace with him. The man correctly saw this as a sign that the Great Salamander was welcoming him, but did not presume to think that the he was in the presence of Ko'mo himself. [4]

“Ah, favored brother, how I envy you. You are made in the image of the God, but I miss the days when I could see the similarities between us all the better. I miss possessing plump, rounded skin, taut with the glow of youth.”

The small salamander flowed over the hard rocks beside the man, fluid like the first rush of lava. The man sighed.

“I miss the days when I could run and climb, stretch and bend, nights when I could sleep soundly on any surface.”

The small salamander paused and tilted its head at the man. Encouraged by this magnanimous gesture, the man spoke on.

“Now I shiver in dried out skin that feels all the rough elements and holds in none of Ko'mo's blessed heat.” The man sighed again and gestured respectfully to the small salamander.

“I can still serve His glory, but it is a great sorrow to me that I do not do so as well as I have done.” The man hung his head, his sadness weighing upon him. [5]

Suddenly, the small salamander's shadow billowed and rose, buffeting and warming as it towered over the man. Fire fell from the patches of still visible sky that were His eyes. Heavy burning flecks of beneficent spittle lapped the earth around them. Thus was the presence of Ko'mo revealed.

In a voice that shook the earth, the Great Devourer spoke,

“YOU DO NOT LIKE YOUR FORM. THEN TAKE ANOTHER.”

The God's holy words enveloped the man in a red warmth, and he fell into darkness, overcome. [6] When he next blinked open his eyes, he saw a much larger sky than he had ever known before, studded with brilliant, distant fires. He felt warm rock pleasantly beneath his hands and feet and belly. He breathed in air heavily laden with enticing scents. Tipping his head, he saw his worn, brown skin, was now a glossy, beautiful black. He felt joy and gratitude.

The once-man hurried over the distance back to his village, glorying in the speed Ko'mo had granted him. He stopped often to rest in the many shaded and damp havens that his neighbors had constructed for the shelter of small salamanders. He dined upon the plentiful nourishment that flourished in this, Ko'mo worldly paradise. [7]

When the once-man reached his old home, he danced a greeting to his neighbors who were passing by. Many stopped to admire his beauty and gesture respectfully to him. The once-man's eldest son squinted in awe as he began to suspect the truth.

“Does this small salamander not seem... familiar, to anyone else?”

Others who had known the once-man in his previous form began to nod slowly. The eldest son's eldest son held his hand to the small salamander and the once-man tapped the back of the young man's hand, instructively. [8]

The impressed gathering regarded the once-man as he proudly darted about, tracing the sign of Ko'mo on the stone before his front door.

An old woman who had grown up with the man gasped and cried out, “I recognize that sinuous saunter, from days long past! This is our recent neighbor! The man we knew, in new skin!” [9]

The people quickly summoned a priestess to witness the miracle. Given great insight by the Devourer Himself, the priestess was able to explain to the once-man's family and neighbors how he came to be transformed.

Many thanks were offered to the God and all who saw the once-man in his beautiful new shape re-dedicated themselves to Ko'mo with ever greater passion, that they too might one day earn his blessing.

[1] This is not meant to imply that followers of Ko'mo may ascend to gods themselves, as Ko'mo does in the myths by 'devouring' the gods of the east. Their spirits remain lowly and mortal, they simply are granted a “do over” in a form that has considerably fewer responsibilities than a man possesses.

[2] The fourth meritorious element of Homanoahn society can be interpreted as 'yearning for the unattained', 'desire for improvement', or simply 'willingness to eat whatever one is fed'.

[3] The idea of a god-granted 'spark within' as both a driving force, embodying life and ambition, and a blessing and confirmation of the god's favor is a sentiment shared by some Eastern worshippers. One would presume followers of Ko'mo would find kinship with followers of Zia-novella but it seems the only similarities between those two groups of adherents is their willingness to engage in fire fights.

[4] Though never specifically outlined as a virtue, “appropriate” humility is often lauded in Homahnoan lessons. This appropriateness is determined by relative rank. All Homahnoans are implicitly urged to consider themselves superior to all non-Homahnoans, for example.

[5] Homahnoan society has rigid views on a job well done. A colloquialism that alarms many a newcomer translates literally to “If you can't do it correctly, burn away your failure.” Those who have acclimatized to the idioms of the culture take this as an expression of high standards. Those who have actually lived here for any period of time may notice that there are in fact a fair number of 'crimes of incompetence', the perpetrators of which are sentenced to death by volcanic vent.

[6] It is commonly understood that this scene is a description of the final eruption of Oakalwilko – Ko'mo's Angry Voice - in the eighth year of the Naa age. Given the focus of this lesson, the narrative necessarily glosses over resulting deaths and hardships experienced by the untransformed locals.

[7] Homahnoans believe that their island is the best possible place to foster life, disregarding the poisonous plants and animals, questionable soil for standard crops, and frequent eruptions and earth-shakes from their volcanoes. One is not sure how to take the assurance that the god known as the Great Devourer's spiritual paradise is “even better”.

[8] The 'eldest son's eldest son' is a common role in Homahnoan lessons – the existence of the character signifies the fertility of generations, while the actions of the character indicate the ignorance of youth being literally struck down – and thus conquered – when one respectfully applies to a senior for correction. Typically, the 'instructive tap' is more of a hearty slap, but the relative weakness of a salamander inadvertently makes this into a gentle scene between generations.

[9] I cannot get the younger novices to stop pronouncing this line as “in newt skin”. It is very annoying.

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