You can hear the drone upon the wind many miles away. Six hundred thousand warriors all shouting in perfect, deafening, stone-cracking, unison. All shouting the Word of Gwa.
When Gwa first came he said five things,
1. I am Gwa
2. Gwa be the Word
3. The Word be Gwa
5. Gather your Armies
6. Spread the Word
Mpu-Mpu, singular or plural, which literally translated means “danger-danger ”is the local name for the Red-Bearded Killer, or Thanaoephid Draga Draga, as the insect is classified by the Sisters of Yeng. These finger-sized ants, theirs heads and bodies bristling with course, orange-red hairs, forming little clusters around and beneath their chins, resembling goatee-like “beards”, are the most feared creatures on the entire continent.
Once a year, they swarm, forming giant, moving carpets of destruction, annihilating anything in their pre-ordained path, with their sizable mandibles and unrelenting drive.
Mpu-Mpu Road is a seventeen-mile long, half-mile wide cleared pathway, leading from the jungle to the coast.
After six years of failed attempts, the Armies of Gwa have finally predicted the Mpu-Mpu emergence correctly, and have successfully diverted the creeping swarm’s traditional path. The ants now march blithely toward Most Ancient Tyb.
The fortified city of Valabi Kombra was the last bulwark of fetishism against the cleansing Word of Gwa. The Gwa peoples, or more precisely the Followers of Gwa, are descended from pygmies, and are the stoutest spear-and-shield fighters, bowmen, and spell-throats in the lands, ruling over all neighboring peoples and tribes, swarming across nations like armies of Mpu-Mpu.
Before too long, only Valabi Kombra and Most Ancient Tyb stood in the way of Gwa
Sogokou the Sorcerer, He who rides the Buffalo-Witch
Sogokou is a Shaman-Sorcerer of Valabi Kombra, the most powerful and feared one in the walled city of mud, brick, clay, and stone. The pygmy dresses always in bright blue and saffron robes, and carries an iron goad, a magical cattle-prod, wherever he goes. When he first came to Valabi Kombra, Sogokou rode the Buffalo-Witch, a powerful shaman in her own right, able to change her form into that of a ferocious, cinnamon-colored water-buffalo at will.
Together Sogokou and Buffalo-Witch, who was his wife, soon came to power and gained great influence. Over time they defended the city against six invading kings, slaying each in turn, and keeping Valabi Kombra a free, independent city. They came to dwell inside Porcupine Palace, where they often plot inside the citadel’s Hidden Chamber, casting auguries, summoning fearsome jinn, and weaving protective spells against the encroaching, overwhelming forces of the invading Gwa.
And of the Secret Chamber nothing is known, except the this brief account by one Guyil Kojj, the “Vulture”, a brazen thief and tomb-robber, if ever there was one.
“ Inside the Sorcerer’s secret chamber were vicious banded kraits, writhing in urns, serpents whose bite turned men into sand. Six fearsome, owl-headed caryatids, grasping stone glaives, stood guard over six human skulls. Skulls of the six kings the Sorcerer had slain during his conquest, each perched atop alabaster daises carved into the shapes of headless children. In the midst of this ghoulishness stood a great Balafon, made from the bones of the six defeated kings. Such alien music emanated from the instrument when played, that the urn-snakes became torpid, liquid tears streamed down the owl-headed caryatid’s stone faces, and the six kings’ skulls clacked their jaws and rattled upon their respective daises, whenever the queer notes would echo inside the hidden sepulcher.”
I am Gwa. Gwa be the Word. The Word be Gwa. Gather Your Armies. Spread the Word.
And with these words from their nascent god, the Nameless Tribes of the veldt, the deserts and the savannahs merged into one great tribe and became the Gwa, and worshiped the Word. Within a span of merely eighty years, the Gwa swept across continent of Zophiz, conquering and spreading the new faith with fire and spear.
Kingless, the Gwa have only clan leaders, who comprise the Council of the Word, a governing body of war-chiefs. This council makes all the decisions for the Tribe of Gwa, each Chief, representing a clan and commanding Warleaders in turn. In battle, this hierarchy remains. Disciplined and unrelenting, the armies of Gwa are compared to hated swarms of mpu-mpu, finger-sized, winged army ants indigenous to the region.
Gwa be the Word. The very word itself, Gwa, a four letter word in the ancient tongue of Koyo, the fourth letter being invisible and unpronounceable, is also known as the Word-of-God, and the God-In-The-Word.
The [Kada]. They too, fit into this equation.
Porcupine Palace and the Six Fetish Temples
Each of the Porcupine Palace's six Fetish Temples is in essence a statue, carved directly into the soft, red volcanic rockof the town's central hills. Monolithic, formed from a single piece of stone and still attached to the bedrock, they are huge edifices, cut in the shape of hexagonal temples.
The spongy forest floor, studded with stumps and toadstools, looks like it's been draped with a damask of emerald moss. I'm standing still, transfixed by the twisted roots of a toppled G'ut-G'ut tree. The upended root bell, as it's called, must be fortyfeet in diameter and has created an intimate alcove in the rain forest, fit for a troll gathering.
-Shantasa Huar, explorer
commonly practiced a form of communal land tenure known as skaaja. Under this system the land of the village is reallocated among the villagers on a rotational basis every five to seven years. To qualify for a portion of the land, a male resident of the village would first have to marry and create a household separate from his parents. These members of the village, also known as Qulats, were the only community members allowed a portion of the village’s arable land. The land of the village can not be sold or inherited, and it reverts back to the village upon death. Often village custom and law would allow single widows with children, orphans, and widowers a one-half share of the community’s land. The skaaja land tenure system held all pasture land out for communal use.