Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Center Cannot Hold: The Gharudya or Harpies

Here's a Crux bit of setting.  Been working on collecting a bunch of notes and also been creating some new material.  Harpies are their own interesting mythological hole.  Here's how they are in Crux, the City of Curses.  Crux is a Magical Western Fantasy I've been fiddling with for awhile now- it is a city founded atop the skull of a forgotten dead god, filled with intrigues and arcane industrial wonders of a new age, while old enemies scheme in dark places.

Harpies, or the Gharudya: Children of the Witching Wind

Harpies dislike the word Harpy.  But unlike the Ursyklon, they do not use violence to discourage the slur.  Instead, the Gharudya tend to remember those who wronged them.  And on the day they might die, evildoers can hear their wings from a distance.

Harpies make for interesting art too.
They are cousins of the Tengu.  Gharudya believe that they must contain evil souls.  This prevents such evil souls to reincarnate into the next generation.  Like the Tengu, they too are reborn into each generation.  But Gharudya do not listen to the voices of their reincarnated souls.  Instead they collect their own reincarnated souls.

They drink the Dreamwater to learn what sins their soul has committed in the past.  Faithful Gharudya have a complicated funeral rite.  It imprisons their own souls into Sirinfetishes upon their death.  These magical items contain all the souls a Gharudya had collected in life.  A collection often made by killing evildoers, as well as finding evil souls that have recently died.

To die without imprisoning their own souls is seen as a great wrong in the minds of the Gharudya.  They do not see themselves as a good or just people.  They must be sealed away along with their prisoners to insure the betterment of the world.  The Gharudya see the diminishing numbers of their people as a sign.  It is a sign that the world is becoming better with time.

Every Gharudya has a song.  It is a mournful dirge that grows as their collection does.  But there have always been Gharudya that try to abandon their duty, that try to escape the song.  Other Gharudya know better, a harpy can never escape their song.  Most Gharudya also know how to use their song to draw others to them, to hypnotize those whose minds lose concentration enough to resist them.

Witching Winds

The Gharudya worship the Kazic goddess Kazi-Paja, the Witching Wind.  In Gharudya Kazism, Paja sacrifices her own beauty to save the world from drowning.  The lesson they learn is not to seek out the path for the world.  But instead, they are to find the witching wind and let it take over their lives completely.

Witching Wind priests often are leaders of Gharudya clutches.  Clutches are the term used for any traveling Gharudya community.  Witching Wing Priest's blessings hatch healthy eggs.  They teach the Rite of Taking, the rite that all Gharudya use to take souls from evildoers they slay or see die.  As a people, all Gharudya are nomadic.  They travel looking for evildoers.  Each clutch is more interested in searching for evil souls than building settlements.

The Gharudya have only a few handfuls of sacred sites.  One of which they share with fellow nomads, the Sabizi.  The nomadic city of Rani moves along paths that have ancient Gharudya monoliths.  The Gharudya visit them as part of sealing sirinfetishes away.  The Sabizi keep those places safe.  In turn, most Gharudya as a rule aid Sabizi whenever they see any of the greenfolk on their travels.

Wanderers and Rani

Sabizi and Gharudya often share campfires on the road.  The Sabizi dance while Gharudya play flute music.  They swap warnings of dangers.  They tell of great wonders they seen.  Both peoples even share a mutual interest in the Nagaorochi.  The Greenfolk fear their old, hidden masters.  But the Gharudya seek out Nagaorochi souls with zeal.  They are always certain that the serpentfolk have worthy evil souls for them to take.

As the Gharudya have no set homes, they wander.  Often they know trade routes better than others, making them valued guides.  Often they will take payment in the form of a convicted criminal.  In other times, they will follow rumors of those most horrible of evil souls.  They act as scouts.  More than a few Gharudya become bounty hunters.  Yet many others join Sabizi caravans.  They wander as musicians and always keeping an open eye for any evil they might cross.

Sacred Rookeries

As most Gharudya clutches wander, the only time Gharudya settle is for their eggs.  Gharudya take from a year to two years to hatch from their eggs.  Gharudya rookeries are the closest thing to actual settlements they have as a people.  The larger the rookery, the more sacred the locale becomes to them as a people.

Near Rani, large rookeries became the monolith sites the Nomadic City journeys along.  Any Rookery that sports more than twenty eggs attracts more Gharudya to it.  Until the eggs hatch, all Gharudya that hear of such a Rookery journey to it, adding to the site.  Once all the eggs have hatched, the Gharudya leave the place.

Sometimes they leave a single monolith.  Other times, they leave statues and even buildings.  Some Gharudya might come back to such places.  But most Gharudya only come back to them to die and complete their Sirinfetishes.