Hunter Revealed (book)
"The Hunter Revealed"
- by Vhadin Shorne
Normally I would not take the time to record this, written works being a new concept to our kind. I would prefer to speak my mind to those who would listen, but this Eastern land means Eastern ways, and they have already begun to infect many of our kin, myself included. It is only at the request of the Reverent One, Ra'sulor, that I place this down for future generations to see. As much as we know, I was the last to undergo Cizayu in our now abandoned home. Nor has there been one performed since our hasty departure from it. There may have been some few exceptions during the retreat from the forces of Lyras, but I was not privy to them. Thus it is that you will hear my tale, so that our traditions and heritage are not lost to the passage of time...
I am a hunter. Skilled am I in the predatory ways, but I have not always been such. Once I was just another kit, too young to leave the Hub on my own, too small and untrained to experience the thrill of the kill. Those early days for me were spent closely watched and protected by the adults. I was taught much, not by my parents, but by the other members of the pride. While we value our lineage, we are also not known to coddle our young, and I know my parents did not wish to burden the Hub with more mouths to feed. Especially when those mouths can provide for themselves. In that, I was no different from those who had come before me. The Great Wheel turns of its own accord, and the day was quickly approaching in which I would have to prove my worth, both to myself, and to the pride. I remember it all vividly.
It was midsummer; the rains had not yet come to our part of the lands of Eu. A massive bonfire raged in the center of the Hub, towering high above all those who stood around it. I had seen several such spectacles, for the celebration of midsummer is a yearly ritual for us. As I stood there, enthralled by the dancing flames, soaking up the warmth radiating from them, I totally missed the numerous adults that had begun gathering closer and closer around me. When I did notice, my heart began to race, and anxiety gripped me tightly in a cold embrace. My time...had come. It had come, and as I was quickly lost amid the throng of fur that enclosed me, my anxiety subsided. I could feel the bloodlust beginning to rise within me, and a low feral snarl accompanied it. Surprising to some, while pleasing others.
Then came an utter silence.
After a short time a sibilant voice pierced the still, and I remember the words that were spoken clearly. "Let the one who is ready be seen."
Moving as one, the adults gathered around me dispersed, and quickly flowed into the rest of those who had come to watch the ceremony. I was left alone, facing the Reverent One, Ra'sulor, with the leaders of all the Claws spanning behind her. The fire roared beyond them all, silhouetting their outlines, and making them each appear to be surrounded by a halo of flames. It is one thing to look upon the Elders from afar, and quite another to be standing just before them, locked within their all-knowing gazes. It was only natural that my anxiety returned, and it must have shown a little, for Ra'sulor flashed a warm smile at me.
Carefully she began to look me over, walking a slow circle around the spot where I crouched. She continued this for what seemed like an eternity, and though I have witnessed others under such scrutiny, I could not help but feel that I was inadequate in some way. So lost was I in my thoughts, that I nearly missed it as she spoke a second time. "Let the one who has taught this kit to hunt come forth."
Out of the crowd emerged my teacher Keralor who confidently strode forward to stand next to me. Once she was at my side, the flood of questions began. Each leader of a Claw asked for insight about me, probing for every bit of information regarding my training. I will not detail the questions here, for they were personal in nature. They are also unique to each kit who enters into this ceremony, which is as it should be. I will say that they dealt with my abilities as a hunter, and whether or not my teacher was confident with them. It was difficult to remain silent during the inquiry, but a wise kit knows when to let another speak on their behalf, and this was one of those times. I did gain a new respect for my teacher that day, for she did not embellish my skills one bit, detailing both my strengths and weaknesses, showing no favor to one or the other. Ra'sulor must have been pleased with the answers that were given, for she then intoned: "Let the one who has taught this kit the ways of Eu come forth."
It was then that my teacher Masxo emerged from the crowd, and came to stand at my other side. Once again, a torrent of questions ensued from the leaders of each Claw. While not as personal in nature as those questions asked before, they were no less important, more so in fact. Because if one has no knowledge of Eu nor of the other Gods, then one is not ready to become an adult. I stood there in silence; to have spoken, to have even moved, would have brought shame to my teacher. Eventually the questions ceased, and I could tell Ra'sulor was pleased, for she had a feral grin upon her face. She nodded once, and my teachers left my side, quietly fading back into the crowd. Once again I was standing alone before the leaders of the Claws.
I looked to each in turn, hoping to find acceptance in their eyes. My gaze returned to Ra'sulor, and as our eyes met, her grin faded, replaced by a very serious and stern look. Once she could see it was affecting me, she proclaimed: "Turn your back to this one, for shortly he enters into the lands of Eu as a kit, but shall in time return to us as a hunter."
After everyone had turned away, she then spoke to me directly: "Vhadin, now you will embark upon a difficult journey into the wilds. Eu requires of you to track and then kill a brown bear. Upon completion of this task, you will retrieve and bring back to me the claws and teeth of said bear. You will have until the blood moon has made a complete cycle. Now go!"
I nodded as she turned her back to me as well, to show I understood. Slowly I then removed the few articles and items I had been wearing, for we must enter into this journey in a natural state; Demrris requires it. Flexing my claws, I released a sharp feral snarl, then sprang to my feet and quickly ran out the gate of the Hub.
As the blood moon completed its cycle I returned to the Hub. The bonfire was still raging, despite that the rainy season had finally come. Ra'sulor stood before it waiting for me; it was as if she had never moved, though I was certain she had. As I approached, she stated: "I have been expecting you, Vhadin, but before you show me what you have gained on your journey, I need to know if you experienced any undue pain after successfully stalking and slaying your prey."
I told her I had not experienced any such thing. Then, with a wide grin on my face, I dropped not one, but five sets of teeth and claws at her feet. I also pointed out the bear skull resting atop my head. I expected her to be pleased with my offering, but instead she frowned at me.
"You have completed the task that was placed before you, but in doing so you have also failed at one of our most basic tenets. We are hunters, but we do not kill in excess as you have done here. Even the mightiest of hunters could not need to feast upon so many to assuage their hunger. So that you are always reminded of this failure you will fashion a garment from all the pieces you have brought, and you will continue to wear the skull forever more. Also, let that which you have done be known. You will wear these things at all times! Do you understand?"
I retrieved the pieces, and crouched low before her as I stated: "It shall be done, Reverent One, and I will remember the lesson you have taught me today."
She nodded, pleased with my response. She then gestured to the crowd, and the seriousness of the moment lifted -- the festivities began shortly thereafter. I was welcomed back into the Hub by every Prydaen present, and saw in their eyes their acceptance of me. That day, I became a hunter.
I know some will wonder over the actual details of my hunt, and I shall leave discussion of them for another time. They are mine, and not something I share with just anyone. Nor should such experiences be common knowledge. It is enough for all to know that I completed the ceremony by bringing back that which was required of me, thus declaring myself a full and capable member of the pride. It was now that I was considered eligible by the laws of my people to not only strike out on my own to establish my territory within the lands held in trust by my Hub or to find a life mate, but also to submit to the testing, that I might know what latent abilities lay within myself.
Once brought to fruition and trained, it is those abilities that would dictate my place within the Great Wheel of life. While we are all trained to hunt, there are those of us who are better scholars, and those for whom the hunt is intolerable. However, as no kit may be trained in such a way, it was necessary for me to complete the rite of Cizayu. So too is it necessary for all kits to do the same.