Mayfly Dancers And Butterfly Wars

Dan Barker 26/05/2011 – 22:54

OK, after yesterdays pitiful drivel I present you with 2 Gorrakiki rituals to show the kinds of lengths that the males go to. Contains Uz hair fashion and abuse of small animals:

The first is an endurance test, the Mayfly Dancers, where participants dance all day in the spring sun. It represents Uz arrival into the upper world.

Pavillions and awnings are set up on the surface of the troll burrows the night before, where the women can watch from blessed shade. At dawn the participants parade out in the handmade costumes. Each has made theirs them-self. For weeks beforehand they have sought out songbirds, musical insects, small animals and other choice ingredients; they are chosen for a sound, a smell or a memory they invoke. These are contained in wicker work abdomens made to represent that of a Mayfly which they tie around their waists. Across their shoulders is tied a sack of maggots and meat to make a hump. They have 2 wickerwork balls, half filled with beans or pebbles, bound into their long hair which has been greased up to represent the head and antennae. Finally 2 wings, made of bent cane and sun dried Aldryami sinew – beaten paper thin – are sewn into their arms.

Initially the dancers gently sway through the celebrants. The tweets and chittering from their abdomens subdued  but insistent. As the sun rises they get more agitated and move out of the camp and start to circle, flapping their arms to get the air thrumming. Around they dance, the constant bouncing causes the wickerwork objects to begin to irritate the flesh of the dancers. The thrumming of the wings tears at the flesh of their arms. The creatures trapped within their harnesses by this time are screaming and howling. The maggots, irritated by all the agitation start to chew their way to freedom. Some burrow down into the dancers flesh, causing them to scream. To this cacophony the women start up wailing, calling to the men to come back into the shade, but they will not. After several hours the dancers are in a terrible state. Their mothers have to be held back from running to them. The clamour attracts the final factor: predators. Giant wasps and spiders appear looking for stragglers. As these are sacred animals the onlookers can do nothing to stop them but scream and hope to scare them away. The dancers by this time are delirious from heat stroke and exhaustion. They try to fend off their attackers but their wings hinder use of their arms. It is not unheard of, on a bad year, for them all to be carried off to their captors larders, but usually a few survive. In their delirium dancers are given visions. Sometimes of quests they must perform or warnings from the ancestors.

The 2nd ritual is part of the midsummers festivities and is held on the Shortest Night. Unlike with mayfly dancers it rarely ends in fatalities. A circular arena is drawn out in ash from burnt bones. This deadens sound. The participants, all male, array themselves around the perimeter. On their heads they wear two puffballs that have been dried out and then worked to become several pierced hollow balls that rattle when shook. These are fastened over their eyes and in front of the ears hindering, but not nullifying their darksense. A long, sticky spiral representing a butterflies proboscis loops over their heads and down over their faces.

But more impressive by far are the wings bound to their arms like outsized shields. Whole seasons, sometime even a year, are spent making these. Large leather structures have had intricate sound patterns applied to them in swirling loops and circles. Some represent great deeds of ancestors. Some are more abstract. All are made up of thousands of iridescent beetle and snail shells, desiccated frogs and newts blown up like balloons, dried seed pods and even live insects, like crickets and cicadas. All are chosen for the sound they make under darksense. The intracy is breathtaking, and everyone oohs and ahs over the audacity of the designs. Once all are happy that they have shown off their wings enough, the reigning mother calls for silence. She recites the lineage of the clan, and its’ feats. Then at her signal battle commences.

The object of the battle is to descale and destroy your opponents wings. As their arms are bound, and pretty much useless, the participants have to use their feet and teeth. Trolls launch them selves off opponents backs raking with their toes, like deranged Luchadores. Others have edged their wings with animal teeth and use these to scrape away the designs. Their view is impeded by the puffballs on their heads and by clouds of ash kicked up in the melee. Hired bystanders throw gourds of solvents in, trying to dissolve the adhesives. Broken limbs and lacerations are not uncommon, but it’s all done in good humour.

Finally the matriarch calls time and the combatants line up for inspection. She and her hand maids look over the shoddy, broken remains of the wings and choose the handful that still bear some sembalance of their original designs. Judging is partisan and is swayed by how well they fought, any bribes they can offer or how attractive the combatant is in the ears of judge. Those deemed worthy will participate in the great ritual of creation of Kygor Litor that night.

Submitted by Eric Vanel (not verified) on Sat, 28/05/2011 – 06:25.

You are right, I visualized some of your Kraken paperboard sketches when reading your post 😉
BTW you got my latest (2 months old) Elder Races file in your mailbox, with a Mostali and the texts. Give me your thoughs on the next steps.

Submitted by DanB (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 23:14.

Eric, what makes you think our workshop didn’t contribute to this already. After the last session, I knew what these guys would look like but not why they dressed like this. Frankly I made it up as I went along, as DanM had asked me to let him know when I overed Uz costuming, and this seemed the right way to explain it all.

That, and I was kind of embarrassed about the post from the day before, being a bit crap and lacking in visual details.

Submitted by Eric Vanel (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 22:10.

when do you complete this brilliant stuff with genious visuals ?
Our Elder Races workshop outcomes could contribute to that…


Submitted by danm (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 07:08.

Another fantastic example of Gorakiki magic! The mental image of “queen mound-o-maggots” is simply brilliant!

Submitted by danm (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 07:00.

Fantastic rituals! I’d have to think that the full Mayfly dance would occur only in times of extreme stress, granting immense reproductive potency to any surviving males in addition to the visions and a unique understanding of Gorakiki. This is big magic, and a successful Mayfly dancer would be in great demand.
In most years, a lesser sacrifice would be performed with swarms of lesser beasts trussed up in similarly elaborate mayfly “costumes” by the males and released to flop and struggle for the amusement of the Mothers, who then get to serve as the predators themselves. The lesser ceremony grants some boosted fertility to the surviving beasts, and an opportunity for the males to gain prestige with the females, who will favor the male who’s beasts provide the best combination of entertainment and savor.

I look forward hungrily to further contributions!

Submitted by Jamie (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 04:50.

This reminds me of a short lived Troll / Big Rubble campaign I ran back in the late RQ3 days where the PCs were members of a Gorrakiki Bloodline.
As part of a plan to push the Aldriami back across the Cradle River the Matriach of the bloodline laid for a full season in the putrefied maggot nursery, communing with her insect family before sending the newly hatching swarm to literally eat the greenery back across the river. Co-ordinated with a full frontal attack by the Uz of course.
It was great fun having her hold court for all other activities as a disembodied voice arising from the dank writhing darkness.

Submitted by dan (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 03:26.

Stewart, can we put a health warning on your comments? I don’t want burn my sinuses on coffee every time you post.

Submitted by Stewart Stansfield (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2011 – 00:10.

Great stuff, Dan!

[I’ve often wondered from what proud act the Uzq. (Uzquire – as in Pokot Vag , Uzq.) suffix derives – perhaps I have my answer!]

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