Note: This bestiary entry was extracted from "The Tamer", the eighteenth Quantumyth tale overall and the fifth story recounted in The Elvashi Palimpsest, an interpreted and transcribed by the Resonant scholar-sage, Eluvastra. The Palimpsest, alongside The Arenku Scrolls and The Olmanis Manuscript, comprises the Resonant Epic known as "The Kaera Runava" (the opened universe), a collective name given to this trilogy of artefact-tomes, of which The Palimpsest is the second part.
"They are the amalgam of all forms of nature. As all trees grow and all rivers flow, as all of nature's creatures are, so too are the ways and shapes of the Kulorn."
-Baswé, Kulorn Tamer
The Kulorn are ancient, some even say ageless, deific entities that have existed for as long as the oldest of Laoka’s forests. They possess the shapes and guises of a gestalt arrangement of features - limbs, appendages and other protuberances, from both animals and plants. This represents how each Kulorn embodies the entirety of all life in the forest.
Kulorn range in size between 30 to 70 feet tall, and come in many shapes and forms. All Kulorn are androgynous, though are often referred to in the female. The Oyek tribe revere five specific Kulorn,
their ancestral totema, who are said to have guided and protected them since the dawn of time:
Bilkarysh, The Sunderer - a colossal multi-limbed octopod who appears with kiwi bird, bat, bush fern and porcupine traits. It is able to traverse all forms of terrain with unerring ease. Represents Strength and Power.
Kuvaka, The Rampant - a large spider-like quadruped, covered in grey-brown bristly hair, whose ribcage is adorned with six long fox tails, and possesses deer-like legs, though considerably lengthened. Represents Courage and Passion.
Ulvaru, The Pathmaker - a low-set Kulorn with a massive cassowary-like cranial protuberance and a giant palm-leaf like tail that protects the rider. She moves with a mix of slithering and, using her extensible legs, scuttling motions. Represents Intelligence and Wit.
Vashta, The Strident - resembling a stretched out, elephant-like Moa bird with a deeply low-slung neck, an oviraptor visage and a back covered with frond-like tendrils, Vashta is a protective and gentle giant. Represents Nurturing and Caring.
Kepoi, The Gatherer - with large bark-adorned arms resembling ancient greatwood trees, an unassuming and disarming penguin-like face, the Gatherer has a secret - she can see in all directions, and arrange her limbs to travel in any of them. Represents Wisdom.
The Elmuni - the collective name of all of Laoka's peoples and tribes - have worshipped, summoned and tamed the Kulorn since the beginnings of their kind. It is said that Valoka, the All-Mother, first conceived of the Kulorn from a desire to bring the forest’s originally disparate inhabitants and environments together. The foxes were driven from the forest by the then-ambulant trees, who would resent the predators making their dens among their roots, allowing them to attack the gentler herbivores, such as rabbits and hares. The elm trees were particularly disdainful and, as if in fear of their wrath, the Elmuni took their name from these trees, translating to 'those who worship the elm’.
As Valoka grew concerned for the balance of the forest, she chose not only to imbue both flora and fauna with the wisdom to know each other's inner beings (and be able to see through their differences), she also created the Kulorn to physically embody their inherent connection to each other. And with this, the furor of the trees was quelled, and the peaceful slumber and immobility of trees is said to be a sign of their contentment with the will and actions of the All-Mother.
Role In Elmuni Culture
The Kulorn Pantheon - which spans well over a hundred deific entities - permeate Elmuni culture in every conceivable way, as they are intrinsic they are to their history, sense of place, purpose and prosperity. Images of countless variations of The Pantheon are emblazoned upon Elmuni raiment and heraldry for all tribespeople, and are often the focus of murals and artwork as well, second only in frequency and prominence to Valoka herself. The most immediate, powerful and important connection between the Elmuni and the Kulorn, however, are the Kulorn Tamers.
When the Elmuni need to defend their lands from the accursed Akru, brutish and blind pig-like fiends who often bring enormous beasts of war on their raids, Kulorn Tamers are called upon to harness the power of these magical gestalt god-beasts to their aid. In battle, depending on the specific Tamer and Kulorn pairing, the form may alternately ride upon, fly beside or shelter beneath the latter.
The Travelling Tamer
There is a legend that tells of the legendary Elmuni mystic Varajenda and his protector-mount, the Kulorn Ukalopi, who travelled across Laoka and beyond rather than ally themselves to any one tribe, or fight in any war. Instead they righted wrongs, settled small disputes, and told cautionary tales that often warded off the need for conflict in the first place. Tales of their adventures are told to young Elmuni children and warriors-in-training, as an example of the enduring (and not necessarily war-born) bond between Elmuni and Kulorn.
The taming of a Kulorn, and the ascendancy of an Elmuni to become a Kulorn tamer, is a perilous affair. It involves a lengthy period of self-sacrifice, commencing with a week of prolonged, solitary communion with the pure stillness of all of nature's movements. After this, a Kulorn may communicate it’s favour - or it’s challenge - to the tamer-in-training, depending on wether or not it believes the Elmuni to be pure of soul or not. If they perceive them to be worthy, the Kulotn will usually animate the forest around it in the shapes and forms which Kulorn itself takes. For adherents to Bilkarysh, for instance ('the subjects of the Sunderer'), the various plants and animals that constitute Kulorn’s appearance will suddenly appear and attack.
Fending off the Kulorn’s initial challenge in such a drained state is the core challenge of a tamer-in-training. Symbolically and also magically, it is a trial-by-forest to prove that, even at the lowest levels of energy, the would-be tamer has the capacity to instinctively flow, commune, engage with and eventually submit and show deference to the raw, untameable life of the forest. Indeed, ‘tamer’ is acknowledged from the outset as somewhat of a misnomer - a Kulorn always appears as and when she means, not at the tamer’s behest.
If the tamer-in-training survives the fasting and the fight, the Kulorn itself will instantly appear, and an intense stare-down commences. Bereft of all energy or self-consciousness, the tribe member truly reveals their innermost nature, right at the point of near-death exhaustion. If the Kulorn has judged them worthy of the aid of the forest in this, their rawest possible state, it will leave it’s mark upon the Tamer’s chest - a large symbol, always subtly unique to each of the Kulorn’s Chosen - and thus, trainee becomes tamer.
Tamers who have gained the favour of multiple Kulorns possess multiple markings, spreading away from the chest and down to the ribcage. To gain the favour and markings of all of one’s tribal totema - those three to twelve Kulorns whom a tribe worships most - is seen as a great and almost unachievable honour, and those who accomplish this are regarded as Master Tamers.
Creation Notes - Etymology
The word Kulorn is an amalgam of two worlds - ‘Kul’ is the Bangladeshi word for the jujube tree which, in Daoism, is a symbol of pure nourishment, and its fruit is the food of immortality, which refers to the eternal existence and protective role of Kulorn. The tree also appears in the Islamic depiction of paradise, as symbols of the farthest limits of time and space, which refers to how Kulorn are able to literally warp reality to assemble themselves. The ‘Orn’ refers to the ornate appearance of their bark-like and mossy flesh, glowing with ageless glyphs and sigils. The world also has a phonetic and syllabic resemblance to the Huorn from Tolkien’s world, which are described as trees capable of locomotion and communication.
Creation Notes - Early Conception
The Kulorn were conceived in 2005 during my time at Canberra College. I would spend long stretches of time alone in the library, and found myself reading extensively on Native American Mythology. After these deep dives into the subject, my mind would naturally embellish and imagine alternate-dimension versions of their cultures. I conceived of a tribe of warriors who brandished the tibia bones of giant half-tree, half-beast creatures as weapons, and shortly after this, the first Kulorn took shape - Kuvaka, the Rampant. The original sketch has since been lost, but all of the Kulorn’s defining elements were there, including the core concept of a gestalt entity that, when summoned, assembles itself from flora and fauna shapes. This was tangentially related to my pattern-making, in fact - symbols that fuse various nature silhouettes together.