The spirits of Laoka's forests, known as the kulorn, have long been intertwined with the lives of the elmuni people.
These ancient and ageless gestalt-entities, combining features of animals and plants in their majestic forms, embody the essence of all life in the forest.
Ranging from 30 to 70 feet tall, the kulorn possess a fluid and androgynous nature, though they are often referred to in the feminine.
Among the elmuni, the Oyek tribe holds special reverence for five specific kulorn, their ancestral totema.
These revered beings have guided and protected the tribe since the dawn of time, embodying different virtues and characteristics.
Bilkarysh, known as the Sunderer, is a colossal multi-limbed octopod with traits of kiwi birds, bats, bush ferns, and porcupines. It effortlessly traverses any terrain, representing strength and power.
Kuvaka, the Rampant, resembles a spider-like creature with bristly hair, deer-like legs, and six long fox tails on its ribcage, symbolising courage and passion.
Ulvaru, the Pathmaker, moves with a mix of slithering and scuttling motions, possessing a massive cassowary-like cranial protuberance and a giant palm-leaf tail that protects its rider, embodying intelligence and wit.
Vashta, the Strident, is a gentle giant resembling a stretched-out moa bird with an oviraptor visage and a back covered in frond-like tendrils, symbolising nurturing and caring.
Kepoi, known as the Gatherer, appears unassuming with large bark-adorned arms resembling ancient greatwood trees and a penguin-like face. Its hidden ability to see in all directions represents wisdom.
The elmuni people have worshipped, summoned, and formed a symbiotic bond with the kulorn since the earliest days of their existence.
Legend has it that Valoka, the all-mother, conceived the kulorn as a means to bring harmony and unity to the forest's inhabitants. In the past, conflicts arose when the ambulant trees drove away the foxes, fearing their attacks on gentler herbivores. In reverence to the trees and to avoid their wrath, the elmuni adopted their name from the elm trees and became "those who worship the elm. "
Valoka, concerned for the balance of the forest, granted the wisdom to understand the inner beings of flora and fauna to all inhabitants.
To physically embody their inherent connection, she created the kulorn. The trees found contentment in this act, entering a peaceful slumber and immobility as a sign of their satisfaction with the all-mother's will.
The kulorn pantheon, comprising over a hundred deific entities, permeates elmuni culture in every aspect. Their images adorn elmuni raiment, heraldry, murals, and artwork, second only to valoka herself in frequency and prominence.
However, the most vital connection lies between the elmuni and the kulorn through the kulorn tamers.
Kulorn tamers are called upon when the elmuni need to defend their lands against the Akru, brutal and blind pig-like fiends accompanied by enormous beasts of war. These tamers harness the magical power of the kulorn to aid in battle. Depending on the tamer and kulorn pairing, they may ride upon, fly beside, or seek shelter beneath their chosen kulorn.
One legendary figure, Varajenda, an elmuni mystic, and his protector-mount, the kulorn Ukalopi, chose a different path.
Instead of aligning themselves with any particular tribe or engaging in wars, they traveled across Laoka and beyond. They righted wrongs, settled disputes.
One such journey led Varajenda and Ukalopi to the lush heart of laoka's forests, where a young elmuni named Araya resided.
Araya had always felt a deep affinity with nature and possessed a special connection to the spirits of the forest. Her emerald eyes sparkled with curiosity and her nimble movements echoed the grace of the animals she admired.
Raised by the elders of the elmuni tribe, Araya had heard countless tales of the kulorn and their legendary tamers.
Her heart yearned to become one with the spirits, to be chosen by a kulorn and forge a bond that transcended ordinary existence.
Determined to follow her dreams, she embarked on a pilgrimage through the dense foliage, guided by the whispers of the forest.
Araya's journey led her to a sacred clearing, where a gentle breeze rustled the leaves, revealing hidden paths. As she entered the heart of the grove, a sense of serenity enveloped her, and she knew she had arrived at the threshold of her destiny.
Days turned into nights as araya immersed herself in the sacred rituals of the kulorn tamers. She fasted, meditated, and communed with the stillness of nature, seeking the favor of the spirits. In her solitude, the forest spoke to her in a language only the chosen could understand. Araya felt the presence of the kulorn, their energies entwining with her own, pulsating through her veins.
One moonlit night, as Araya emerged from her deep meditation, a symphony of ethereal melodies echoed through the clearing. She lifted her gaze and beheld the majestic form of Ulvaru, the pathmaker, before her. The low-set kulorn with its massive cassowary-like cranial protuberance and the giant palm-leaf tail exuded an air of wisdom and grace.
A powerful connection formed between Araya and Ulvaru, their souls resonating in perfect harmony.
The Kulorn saw within her a pure and untamed spirit, ready to embrace the power of the forest. With a gentle flicker of its eyes, ulvaru left its mark upon Araya's chest a unique symbol, intricately woven with the essence of the pathmaker.
Renowned throughout the land, the news of Araya's bond with Ulvaru spread like wildfire.
The elmuni tribe hailed her as a chosen one, a beacon of hope and strength. Araya's journey had only just begun, and she embraced her role as a tamer with unwavering determination.
Guided by the teachings of the elders and the whispers of the forest, araya embarked on her first mission to protect her tribe from an encroaching Akru horde, accompanied by their monstrous war beasts.
With Ulvaru by her side, she soared through the treetops, her spirit merging with the wind. The kulorn's intelligence and wit guided her through the dense undergrowth, unveiling hidden paths and ancient secrets.
In the heart of the battle, Araya's bond with Ulvaru blossomed. Their movements intertwined seamlessly, as if they were extensions of each other. The pathmaker's protective aura shielded araya from harm, while her own courage and passion fuelled their fight against the Akru.
Word of Araya's bravery and the power of her bond with Ulvaru spread throughout the forest, inspiring other elmuni to seek their own connection with the kulorn.
As Araya ventured deeper into her role as a tamer, her presence and influence became a testament to the enduring bond between the elmuni and the spirits of the forest.
In a world where the delicate balance between nature and humanity hung in the balance, araya's journey as a tamer held the key to restoring harmony and protecting laoka's sacred lands. With each step she took, she embraced her destiny, carrying the hopes and dreams of her tribe upon her shoulders.
And so, the tale of Araya, the kulorn tamer, began to etch itself into the annals of elmuni history, intertwining her fate with the ancient spirits that watched over laoka's forests.
Her path was fraught with challenges and trials, but her unyielding spirit and connection with Ulvaru would guide her toward a destiny that would shape the future of her people and the enchanted realm they called home.
As araya's journey as an elder kulorn tamer unfolded, she encountered both victories and heart-wrenching losses.
The bond she shared with Ulvaru deepened, intertwining their souls in a dance of resilience and determination. Together, they defended the forests from the ravages of the Akru, preserving the delicate balance of nature that sustained the elmuni.
But with each battle won, a piece of Araya's innocence faded away.
She witnessed the destructive nature of humanity, the insatiable hunger for power that threatened to consume the very essence of the forest she held dear. The conflict between the akru and the elmuni intensified, leaving scars upon the land and upon araya's heart.
One fateful day, as araya and ulvaru stood at the edge of a desecrated grove, the haunting cries of wounded spirits echoed through the air. Tears streamed down araya's face, her heart heavy with grief. She realized that the fight for the forest was not just about physical battles but also about the hearts and minds of those who sought to exploit its resources.
In that moment of anguish, araya understood that the true battle lay within the spirit of humanity itself. The forest was a mirror, reflecting the choices made by those who walked among its ancient trees. She resolved to become a beacon of compassion, hoping to inspire change in the hearts of those who had lost their way.
Araya traveled beyond the borders of laoka, spreading stories of the sacred bond between the kulorn and the elmuni. She shared her experiences, the beauty and wonder of the forest, and the devastating consequences of its desecration. Her words touched the hearts of listeners, igniting a flicker of understanding and empathy.
With each tale she told, araya kindled a spark of hope, reminding people of their interconnectedness with nature and the importance of preserving its delicate balance. She urged them to listen to the whispers of the wind, to see the beauty in every blade of grass and every creature that roamed the forests.
Years passed, and araya's message began to ripple through the lands. Slowly but surely, the tides of change turned, as individuals and communities awakened to the urgency of protecting their natural heritage. The destructive practices that once scarred the forests were gradually replaced with sustainable methods, and the akru found solace in coexistence rather than conflict.
In her twilight years, araya returned to laoka, weary but content. The forests welcomed her with open arms, their vibrant hues reflecting the transformation she had sparked. As she stood before the grandeur of the kulorn, her eyes filled with gratitude and pride for the legacy she had woven.
Surrounded by the spirits of the forest, araya whispered her final words, her voice carrying the weight of her journey. "we are but custodians of this precious world, entrusted with the responsibility to nurture and protect it. Let our choices be guided by love, compassion, and reverence for all life. May the bond between the elmuni and the kulorn endure, reminding us of the eternal connection we share with the spirits of nature. "
and so, araya's spirit merged with the very essence of the forest, her story becoming a timeless legend passed down through generations. The elmuni remembered her as the harbinger of change, the embodiment of resilience, and the living testament to the power of unity between humanity and the spirits that dwelled within nature.
From that day forward, the forests of laoka flourished, the kulorn and the elmuni standing as guardians of harmony, their bond a reminder that the choices of individuals could shape the destiny of the world. And as the wind whispered through the ancient trees, the legacy of araya, the kulorn tamer, lived ona testament to the enduring strength of the human spirit and the transformative power of love for the natural world.