The story of O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a, Tamiir–Quah of the Northern Storval Plateau
This is the tale of O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a. On the dawn of the day of her birth, the Tamiir-Quah, a tribe of Shoanti who lived in the Tusk Mountains to the west of Ustalav, was attacked by a huge white dragon. The dragon had swooped down from the higher mountain tops impassible to the Tamiir-Quah, and laid waste to the encampment.
After the initial attack, the people who had survived gathered quickly to mount a defence. A young warrior woman named A’Ten’Ya, who was heavily pregnant at the time, was one of the Tamiir-Quah who fought bravely to defend their village, her one hand on her distended belly, and the other firmly grasping her hunting spear. Many brave souls gave their lives to protect the village that day, but after a battle which lasted until sunset, the people of Tamiir-Quah eventually drove off the ancient beast.
As the remaining villagers counted the dead, they soon found that the warrior woman A’Ten’Ya and her husband Har’Tay’U were found frozen to death. However, Har’Tay’U was found protectively covering A’Ten’Ya’s belly from the direct blast of the dragons breath. The Thundercaller (the shaman priests who protect the Shoanti tribes), when checking for life, discovered that A’Ten’Ya’s unborn child still lived buried within her frozen mother’s belly. The Thundercaller called for his ceremonial blade, he took hold of its hilt and sliced open the belly of the young warrior woman, and a child was found alive. From this day, the child was known as O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a.
But O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a had not yet made it through the worse of it, as the dragon’s breath had also touched the living essence of her unborn body. As the child was released from her mother’s belly, the Thundercaller saw that the child’s body was completely white, in particular that of her eyes and hair. As the Thundercaller touched the child’s skin for the first time, visions of a future with the child at its centre flooded over him. As reality returned, the child looked deeply into his eyes. At that moment, he knew the child was destined for something more than the battle that had just occurred; more than the village to which she was born into; more than the entire Shoanti people. He also knew that it was he who needed to raise the child, and so he took the now orphaned O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a to be raised as his own.
As the child grew, the Thundercaller found that the young O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a had an affinity for magic. Strange things would occur around her, and a number of blessings had befallen the Quah during those times. The child however was weak for her age, and was often found to be sick. As O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a was approaching the age of six, the Thundercaller knew that he was going to be forced to do something that he was afraid may end the young child’s life. It was a requirement of Quah law, that those too weak to be productive be abandoned in the wilderness. Quah law dictated that O’tak’tay be taken from the village and left to fend for herself for a period of no less than one year, and if after that time she survived, she was welcome back into the Quah without prejudice.
On the sixth year of her birth, O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a was taken by the Thundercaller to a sacred spot deep in the mountains to the north of the Tamiir–Quah’s lands. The Thundercaller tried to explain to the young child why she was being left, and to his surprise, the young girl nodded, turned and walked into the driving snow. All that he had equipped her with was a backpack filled with food, an animal skin for warmth, and an old spear. The child soon disappeared into the snow, and the Thundercaller, tears filling his eyes, turned and walked away, leaving O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a to her fate. As he wandered back to the village, the Thundercaller gave a prayer to the ancestors and to the totem spirits to keep O’tak’tay safe.
The young O’tak’tay turned to the mountains and began her trek. She had been told from her earliest remembering that of the circumstances of her birth and of that of her parent’s death, brought about by the great white dragon attack. O’tak’tay decided that she would therefore seek out this dragon and destroy it. Vengeance now drove the child; vengeance for her parents death, and the death of countless others of her tribe.
After weeks of trekking deeper and higher into the mountains, on a ledge high above the plateau, O’tak’tay stumbled across a fierce battle between two huge dragons. The larger of the two was silver, and the smaller white. O’tak’tay retreated to a small cave in the cliff face to wait out the titanic battle, as her way was blocked by these titan’s melee.
O’tak’tay watched in awe as these two mighty beasts battled to the death at the top of the world. In the end, it was the silver that prevailed, with the white collapsing. Throughout the combat, O’tak’tay’s anger grew, as the realisation that this white dragon must be the same one that killed her parents. At the end, as the white fell to the ground in its final death throes, O’tak’tay rushed forward from her hiding spot towards the creature with her spear in hand, rage filling her very soul. Oblivious of the wounded silver standing over the fallen white, she climbed onto the massive head of the ancient white, and drove her spear into its evil red eye.
As the child pulled the spear out of the white dragons head, it snapped, causing O’tak’tay to fall to the ground. Unbeknownst to the young girl, she had landed right at the clawed foot of the great silver dragon. O’tak’tay was grinning and began laughing uncontrollably at what she had done. She had sought and claimed vengeance for her people, in particular her parents. She stopped for a moment and swore that she saw through the snow, the spirits of her parents smiling down at her. It was then that she realised that the smile was actually that of the maw of a silver dragon. But why had this beast not killed her she thought? To her however, it did not matter. She had claimed what she was born to do. The dragon however, had other ideas.
“Why do you laugh at the death of this dragon little one?” said the mighty beast.
“It killed my parents”, replied O’tak’tay, “and it deserved to die.” A smile crossed the young child face. “I am glad I could drive my spear into its eye, so that it saw me before it died.”
The dragon paused for a moment, examining the expression of the girls face.
“You have broken your little spear. And for your bravery, you deserve another.”
The great silver dragon lent forward, and snapped a claw from the dead white dragon, and handed it to the young Shoanti child. O’tak’tay looked down at the claw, examining the powerful item she had just been given. As O’tak’tay held back tears, she looked up at the silver dragon and spoke softly.
“I do not know how to do that. I don’t know how to do anything. I have been abandoned by my people, such is our tradition, to either survive or die out here in the mountains. Only after a year am I allowed to return to my people”.
“You are of the Tamiir–Quah are you not?”
The child nodded.
“They are a proud, strong people. I have watched them for many years. It is no wonder you are not afraid of me”.
“I am afraid. All that I had to do was to kill the white”, claimed the O’tak’tay.
The dragon looked down at the child for a moment with a curious stare. The child was small for a human of her age, and was too frail to be out in the wilderness by herself, far from the Tamiir village. The dragon questioned the young child.
“You are very frail for a Tamiir, young one. What is wrong with you? Are you unwell? Are you sick?”
“I was still inside my mother when she was frozen by the breath of this beast”, replied O’tak’tay, as she kicking the dead white dragon’s head.
The silver dragon scowled at the young human.
“Have respect for the dead little one, even the dead of an enemy”.
Suddenly a sharp pain struck the silver dragon. It screamed in pain, its roar forcing O’tak’tay to the ground. Not know to the silver dragon, one of the wounds that had be caused by the white dragon’s initial attack was laced with a magical poison, its effects only now striking the silver dragon down.
The great silver dragon collapsed, panting and howling in agony.
“Child, I am wounded. Can you help me please little one? I cannot reach the wound on my back and if it is not treated directly, I will most certainly feel the effects of this curse. For this, I shall give you the power to heal me. In order to do this, you must place your hands on my wound and say these words – Astheroth invitus”.
The dragon then placed a claw onto O’tak’tay, and flooded her frail frame with dragon magic. This fused with O’tak’tay’s already existing magical prowess causing the young child to collapse in agony, images of armies of undead flashing across her consciousness. Almost as suddenly, the pain faded, and young O’tak’tay opened her eyes. To her amazement, she looked at hands that were glowing with a power she did not understand. She knew though what she needed to do, and so she got up, stumbled to the dragon’s side, and climbed on the great beasts mass. The wound was large and very deep, blood flowing freely from it. O’tak’tay could see the magic essence of the powerful curse which flowed through the wound and into the silver dragon’s blood. As young O’tak’tay crawled through the dragon’s life blood to reach the ragged torn edge of the wound, she placed her hands within the wound and slowly pronounced the words the dragon spoke. There was a sudden rush of heat and power from O’tak’tay’s body and into the wound. The silver dragon screamed in pain, and O’tak’tay fainted and fell to the ground at the dragon’s side.
The dragon looked down at the small child, its hands and body covered in the creature’s blood. No human should have been able to handle that power, and yet this child somehow did. There was something special about O’tak’tay, and the silver dragon wanted to know what that was. Feeling for the child, and wanting to keep her alive, the dragon curled up around O’tak’tay and at the same time cast a protective spell. The dragon then closed its eyes, falling into a deep sleep allowing the magic to do its work.
When O’tak’tay awoke, the silver dragon was lying down watching her.
“Am I alive?” O’tak’tay meekly asked.
“Yes little one, you are, but your service to me has changed you. There is dragon magic in you now, and my blood and power have left its mark on your soul. I have asked the gods of your destiny, and my blending has now forced you to walk a different path than your people are used to walking. This was always to be your destiny, and our meeting was not one of chance.”
O’tak’tay looked into the eyes of the silver dragon, and for some reason knew exactly what the creature’s words meant. She felt her mind touch the dragon’s and could see her future.
“Yes, my child. You see what I see. As this is my blood and my power, it is my responsibility to show you how to use the power you now wield. I shall begin your instruction in its use, and you shall live with me until such time as you are ready. Only then shall I take you back to your people.”
Thus began O’tak’tay’s study of the dragon’s magic. She studied hard and learnt many things, learning the tongue of the dragons, and the power they wield. She travelled with the silver dragon, visiting with the giants and learning their tongue as well. The silver dragon, who she called Soo’Lea’Wa (meaning Silver Bearing in the Shoanti tongue), taught her how to shape the white dragon claw she had been given, into a new spear. The greatest thing that Soo’Lea’Wa taught O’tak’tay was how to use the dragon magic that rested within he. She became able to call forth the magic and shape it into certain forms which Soo’Lea’Wa described to her. She found that her affinity came from the cold and the snow. This power, the dragon sensed, clearly came from evil, a legacy of the white dragon’s magic. This scared the silver dragon, as he knew that this taint could be the child’s only weakness, and one that could manifest when confronted with great evil – something the dragon knew was in the child’s future.
Fourteen years went by, and it soon came time for O’tak’tay to return to her people. Soo’Lea’Wa flew her down from mountains, O’tak’tay grasping onto the great creature’s back. The beast landed just outside the encampment with the aim of preventing any concerns of the tribe; however the tribes’ folk saw the dragon’s arrival, and a mob raised up arms against the beast. O’tak’tay saw the fear in her people’s eyes, but a shout from O’tak’tay stayed their hand.
The Thundercaller, much older now, walked boldly forward and saw this wonder of a girl astride a dragon, her pale skin with white eyes instantly identifying her as the child he had raised. He watched as the child jumped from the dragons back.
With gratitude O’tak’tay turned and thanked the great dragon. As the creature bowed its head, O’tak’tay leant forward and kissed the beast on the head. With a huge leap the dragon threw itself into the air shouting in the tongue of dragons.
“Fair well young one. Use your power wisely to benefit your people. We shall see each other again, and when that happens, I hope that you power equals or exceed my own.”
With that the dragon was gone, and O’tak’tay turned to her people. The Tamiir–Quah welcomed O’tak’tay, having given her up for dead all those many years ago. The Thundercaller shouted her name and the people parted in silence. He slowly walked forward to stand, hunched, in front of O’tak’tay. Looking up into the child’s eyes, the venerated elder spoke.
“O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a. You have returned to your people much changed. I sense great power in you. You have been touched by a powerful totem. Today you have come of age and I shall place your first tattoo upon your skin”.
At this, a shout went up from the people and there was great preparation for a feast.
The Thundercaller led O’tak’tay to his yurt, where he prepared the tools for the tattoo ceremony. He went into a trance and began. O’tak’tay also began her story so that the Thundercaller would know of her trails.
The tattoo ceremony is a sacred tradition of the Shoanti, in which, upon completing their quah’s rite of passage, both male and female Shoanti receive their first tattoo. These designs sometimes wrap around the newly accepted adult’s torso and limbs, and even up the neck and across the face.
It was deep into the night by the time the Thundercaller had completed the tattoo. It covered O’tak’tay from head to toe as well as both of her hands. Never had a tattoo of such size and complexity been acquired at a naming ceremony in the Quah’s history, but given what O’tak’tay had endured, is was not unusual.
At the completion of the ceremony, the Thundercaller exited from his trance and spoke to the now initiated Shoanti.
“O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a, my vision has shown me many things. It has shown me that you have a very strong bond with our Quah’s totem of the Storm as well as your own totem the Silver Dragon. It has shown that you have a strong tie to the element of cold. All these are to be expected given your life so far, however there is another much stronger vision that swirls around you and ties you to many things, including the future of all the Quah’s. Specifically the vision shows me that of a young lost brother to our people who has a great task to perform. But he has fallen, and the task may fall with him. I am sorry O’tak’tay, but you are not destined to re-join your people just yet. You must travel further than you have done so far, but not into the mountains. You must travel to the land below, below the plateau, and into the lands of the invaders. There you will meet a group who has lost its way, as the one from our people has died. Find these people and help them complete the task. You will not be alone however as there is another of our people, a proud warrior, who you will fight beside you to rid the world of this great threat. For if you do not, I foresee only darkness. Only when this great task is done are you able to come and rest in the bosom of your people once again”.
A sadness descended on O’tak’tay at this prophecy, but the peoples jubilant celebratory attitude soon lifted her spirits. She was happy to be home, but missed Soo’Lea’Wa.
The next day O’tak’tay was met by the Thundercaller who gave her a backpack full of gear as well as some potions for her journey south. It was decided by the elders that she should leave as soon as possible to limit the disruption to the people.
Thus began another long journey for O’tak’tay, but this time south. The long journey south was mainly uneventful the climb down the escarpment was taxing, but the item the Thundercaller had wrapped around her arms and back assisted her with the gear she carried. She had a run in with some men of the Nail Hellknights intent on stopping any Shoanti from entering into the lowlands, these she dealt with swiftly and moved on. She travelled for many moons to reach the city of Lepisdat there to meet with the foretold saviours of the people.
This ends the story of O’tak’tay Ah’ten’a at least the early years, she now has another journey ahead of her, one that shall see her face much danger and many trails. The weight of the world lies on this young girls shoulders, hers and those she ventures with.