The History of Ratonga
Through my own experiences, I have gained knowledge and insight into the ratonga.
Each part of this history tome can only be completed in its own time.
Since the world is changed and we come to live on the surface, some traditions may be lost. May you learn the ratonga ways and keep them. Many are the grains of sand in the desert and also many are the years of the ratonga. Long did we dwell in the hidden places of the world, in the hidden places of the heart. Listen now, my children, draw close to hear our story, our song.
In the long-ago when the shape of the world was different, we first awoke in the darkness. See our hands? They are thin and quick and more agile than the hands of any other. See our whiskers? They take the measure of the air and the thoughts of others.
There are many paths to the light, but few that lead back into the darkness. Many are those of the surface that fear the dark, but if they could see what we see in the light, they would fear that as well. Light creates shadows. Without light, there is no dark.
In the darkness, the Ancient of ratonga whom we call Belaska was pursued by her enemies and they caught her. She kept her fur combed and clean and slipped from their grasp, but they clung to her and would not let go. She found a small tunnel and fled into it.
Still her enemies grasped at her, pulling and pulling as Belaska twisted and clung to the sides of the tunnel. She was stronger than her enemy and pulled herself free, but her enemies' hands had stripped the luxurious fur from her tail. And that is why the ratonga tail has but fine silken hairs and not fur. Run combs of ivory and bone through your fur often and you will live long.
The worlds above change as the bright sun rises and sets. Over and again, the days of the overworld come and go. Feel the rhythm of their days, through light, then half-light, then dark and half-light again. And while the overworld had its rhythm, so too had we our own.
For is not all life of a rhythm? That is why we dance, all who breathe and know that they live will dance to music, such beautiful and haunting music. It is soft and gentle. It is hard and fast. It throbs like the pulse along the tenderest length of the neck. Listen to the rhythms, children. Listen!
Those of the overworld cannot hear the music, do not feel the rhythms as we can. And in those half-beats where they are unaware, we are keeping count. Pulse for pulse, when the rhythm is in your blood and heart, it gives you speed and grace. It gives you stealth.
That is why there is the Dance of the Ancient, my children. When the rhythms of the light and dark have spun past the world, young ratonga gather before their tribes to dance. Those whose steps are most airy and graceful are taken and trained in the Ways of Belaska, of which we will say no more.
There is a leader among them who feels the rhythms, however, and it is to this leader that we are drawn. For around him he gathers power and prestige, and those who value these things value possessions of the world as well. They hoard their treasures, and we have seen them.
Know then, that we lived many seasons of the overworld in the dark places and we danced many times over the Dance of the Ancient before the people of the overworld first knew us. They do not think as we do. They do not feel the rhythms around them. And so we watched.
In one of the many wars of the overworld, our help we granted to the leader with prestige. Through many of our secret paths (though not all) did we lead them to their victory. And in thanks, their leader gave us a patch of the overland upon which to build homes such as theirs.
Our feet are ever on the ground and we feel its rhythms though the overworlders feel it not. And so, they trembled and cried when the rocks split and the waters churned, for they did not know it would happen. We knew and we changed our rhythm to match. In our many long lives, our places in the dark often change and shift. It gives us purpose, to anticipate what may yet be. We feel the changes and we change with them. Look at our tails!
Now, many of the old paths are shut and many new ones are open and we have seen them. With our delicate fingers we have touched the secret centers of the world and felt its pulse. Though it may always change its shape, its pulse is known to us.
Changes come with the shifting of the worlds. Learn the rhythm of the new world around us, but never forget the ways of our past. While we are now in the overworld, our feet still touch the ground. Sit in the open spaces of the overworld now and touch the sky as well.