It is only after much consideration, and the honest belief that my fellow scholars might benefit from what I ve halearned during the time I spent amongst the heathen peoples of the Great Grass Sea, that I have endeavored to write this entry for our esteemed Periodical, that others may benefit from the stores of knowledge I have managed to gather on my decade long quest across that great plain that most only see from over the railing of our great flying ships, and that many more still would skip entire due to their devotion to such methods of travel as teleportation. Presently, I shall endeavor to impart upon you what I learned during my stay with that singular tribe, the P'Cheela, over a period of two years, to enumerate their various peculiarities in such a way that the casual reader shall be compelled to read further rather than flipping the pages a few times to get to the articles on the Pechuri Wars of Subjugation.
One of the greatest oddities that struck me, very soon after I came to be in their company, was the realization that their common tongue was a bastardization of the tongue we use in our magics, the very Tongue of Creation, and though they would not deign to teach me, an Outsider, a Haired-One, and a mage1, what they called their High Tongue is almost without a doubt the very Tongue of Creation, and not only can they speak it, they without a doubt understand it. Needless to say, this fact alone, independent of any of the myriad other facts I wish to impart about this people, warrants the funding of further expeditions.
Armed with only the rudimentary understanding of their language I was able to procure in my brief stay with them, a language that many of them struggle to learn over a mere lifetime, I was able to piece together quite a few of their creation myths, one of the most interesting of which is in regards to a certain god, called by the name of Trickster in their tongue, who disappeared from our own cosmology aeons ago. Our tales tell of this god, Mokkus, stealing the Skein of Fate, the very tool the gods used to divine the fate of their most wayward creation, Man, and vanishing from all of Creation, the combined might of the gods themselves unable to recall him from whatever solitude he retreated to. Various cults devoted to his worship, of which many of my readers no doubt know, believe that he saw in the Skein a Truth which threatened the very existence of Man, a Truth he fled to keep secret from his fellows. But I digress, for which I must beg your apologies.
As the P'Cheela tell it, in the Time before Time, when their tribe were naught but hunters on the plain, devoid of any greater Truth, there came to the plains a trickster, one who took it upon himself to ensure that a great many women became swollen with child, but he was undone by his own desires, and the Trickster was killed by a mate, a mere Mantis, who gave birth to but one spawn2, a mantis already as large as she, that became yet bigger still, growing to the size of a large elephant. It is this godling that the P'Cheela worship above all other beings, denying themselves all the luxuries of a settled life in order to chase after him, a mission they undertake because they believe him to speak an unalterable truth; though, in their belief stucture, many, if not all, of what the godling speaks applies only to their tribe.
The P'Cheela are possessed of a singular appearance, and truthfully at first glance they are less than human, due to a ritual in which a child on the threshold of adulthood applies a poultice to their entire body, one which attracts the cat sized spawn of their godling, Jul-Ghose, while at the same time causing all the hair on the body to fall out. This ritual ends with the child bonding with one of the brood, until death, and leaving the now adult devoid of hair for the rest of his life. I say his, however both the males and females of the tribe undergo this ritual, which combined with the thinness espoused by their constant travel in the wake of their god, causes the men and women of the tribe to be nearly indistinguishable to an outsider.
As a closing note on something I mentioned earlier in the article, and as a general warning to all that might wish to study the P'Cheela, they have a less than generous view on the praction of magic, the word which I simplistically translated as "mage" carries with it, as far as I could determine, heavy connotations of evil and apostasy; something an outsider wishing to study them would do well to avoid if he were to have any chance of being able to talk to one of them, or even be acknowledged as being in existence by anything other than your fellows and the various predators that inhabit the plains. They believe that to use the tongue of the Prophet-Son to alter the fabric of reality is to invite death upon yourself, and to wish dishonor and ill-fortune upon your kin and descendants, until the sixth generation, and among a people as steeped in mythology as they are, to even stand near someone so cursed invites the chance of the curse passing to you. It is this ignorant dogma that drove me to leave this tribe behind in the end, for once they knew I was a mage they shunned me, the adults wouldn't look at me and the children threw stones like I was some sort of plains jackal.
--Last Papers of Gyma, Deputy Explorer of the Thyran College
1 The word the P'Cheela tribesmen use for mage translates, as nearly as I can tell, into "One Who Speaks With No Understanding."