The Har’py religion is directly linked to the Rendi Origin Tale and made in opposition to the Animon religion and its Goddess, Scara. It is used by the harpy as a set of rules to help them survive in the Heck’ne wasteland.
In the Rendi Origin Tale, the origin of the harpy species is explained by the lost bird sister, Zen’efay, evolving into a harpy to survive in the wasteland she wandered. The end of the Rendi Origin Tale tells of Zen’efay choosing to return to the wasteland instead of joining her sisters in the Rendi, as she fears her own strength and doesn’t want to hurt her family.
The Har’py religion is a continuation of this tale.
The First Prophet & The Rise of Zen’efay
Even though Zen’efay had chosen to leave her sisters to live in the Heck’ne, she began to grow lonely. Her meeting with her siblings had reminded her of her need for love, but she was stubborn and refused to return to her family.
Instead of admitting her loneliness, it is said that she carved her own heart out of her chest so that she mightn’t feel love or emotion anymore. She abandoned it in the wasteland, only to realise later that removing her heart hadn’t stopped the loneliness. She regretted cutting out the only part of her that could feel love and began searching for her abandoned heart.
Zen’efay returned to the spot she had abandoned her heart only to find it was gone. Defeated, Zen’efay lay where her abandoned heart had been and began to cry. As she cried, a second harpy approached her.
Zen’efay, until now, had been the only harpy to exist and was confused by this newcomer’s origin. She demanded to know his name, and where he was from. He revealed that he had formed from her torn-out heart, and had been searching for her since he had been abandoned. He called himself Au’ku.
Zen’efay begged Au’ku to return to her chest so that she might feel joy again, but he shook his head and told her that her lack of happiness had nothing to do with her missing heart … it was because of her loneliness that she could no longer feel joy. He told her that if he returned to her as a heart, she would remain lonely, but if he stayed in this form he could give her the company she needed. Au’ku and Zen’efay became inseparable from that point onwards. they travelled the wasteland with only each other as company.
Years passed; Zen’efay bore Au’ku’s children and the harpy species was created. They looked to Zen’efay and Au’ku as leaders and teachers that would help them survive in the dangerous land they lived in. The harpy people were soon joined in the wasteland by nurlak wanderers, who looked to the harpies for guidance and coexisted respectfully. They began referring to themselves as Har’py disciples, and the Har’py religion slowly began to take form.
It wasn’t long before Au’ku found he had the ability to sense coming disasters and predict good hunts; he had been blessed with prophetic magic. He used this magic to help his people survive the Great Platequakes; when the land shook violently and the ga’oa pits began to form from the crumbling land.
The Har’pies believed that the ga’oa pits were Scara trying to claim them back forcefully so she could punish them for their lack of devotion, but Au’ku had the ability to predict the pits before they formed and saved his followers from certain destruction. This earned him the title of roa mala’kala (First Prophet).
To stop Scara from seeking her people out, Zen’efay kicked up the dusty ground and blotted out the sky; hiding the wasteland from the sun and moons’ prying eyes. This cover of clouds still hangs protectively in Heck’ne’s sky and it is believed to be bad luck to fly in or above the cover of the clouds.
Zen’efay not only refused Scara in her mortal life, but also refused her in death as well. Zen’efay rose as a harbinger to the Har’py people when she refused to follow the Animon Goddess into the afterlife. Zen’efay believed that Scara had abandoned her when she was lost in the wasteland: she claimed that if Scara truly was the loving Goddess she claimed to be, she would never have allowed one of her children to suffer beyond healing.
The harpy chose to flee Scara’s judgement and went to live in the darkest corners of the night sky —which became known as Dark Sky— as the de’deko (wasteland goddess).
Au’ku spoke for Zen’efay after her death. As he had been a part of her he could still feel what she felt; including her sadness in being separated from her people. He would share her wishes with his people and continue to lead them until his own death.
It is believed that all harpies are direct descendants of Zen’efay and Au’ku, and that the Har’py Prophet bloodline has inherited the magic of Au’ku and can speak to Zen’efay’s spirit directly (this is sometimes true, but has become rarer over time).
The Afterlife and Underfor
Another Har’py belief is that the underground caverns that run through Demrefor are part of Underfor and that if you throw someone into the cave openings, known as ga’oa, you are giving them to Scara.
Har’pies believe that, if Scara does not like you, she will drag your spirit into Demrefor’s darkest pits and trap you there forever. This idea is actually supported by the Animon religion. The Animon belief that bad spirits are cast back down to replenish the planet’s energy reflects the Har’py’s idea of being trapped in Demrefor forever if you have displeased the Goddess. The biggest difference between these two religions’ beliefs is what Scara deems as “bad” behaviour; Har’py believe that they will be punished for imperfections while Animon believe it must be deliberate crimes. This difference is why Har’pies will refuse Scara; for they believe Scara dislikes them simply for what they have been forced to do in order to survive.
Har’pies they believe any sin done during life will cause Zen’efay to banish you to fight alone at Scara’s mercy in the forever-dark, the place between Scara’s heart and Zen’efay’s domain. Most Har’pies say that the forever-dark is found in the entrance of the ga’oa pits; not far enough down to touch the bottom, but far enough you will never see sunlight again. More literally, they refer to this place as Underfor, or Under Demrefor.
Because of their refusal to accept Scara’s judgement, Har’pies believe that Dark Sky is cast over the Heck’ne by Zen’efay and Au’ku’s decedents who, like their ancestors, refused to accept Scara’s blessings. There are very few stars visible from the wasteland; even on nights where the clouds wear thin. The stars that are visible are believed to be decedents of Zen’efay’s sisters; spirits from the Rendi who visit the Heck’ne and care for its people. They are not judged, even though they chose to accept Scara’s blessings, and are considered a beautiful, rare sight.
The first half of Har’py names are chosen by the parents.
The leader of the troop will choose the second half of the name if the Prophet is unavailable. If the troop leader is one of the parents, the other parent gets to choose the first part of the name completely themselves.
There is a tradition that started sometime between 10,200 AE and 10,400 AE for the naming of the Prophet’s firstborn after the birth of half-avio Kala’Verso.
Kala’Verso’s name was chosen jointly by her avio mother and harpy father to follow the avio naming conventions. Kala’Verso named her own firstborn with an avio name, and they did the same. This new tradition changed to suit the culture more; with names changing from pure-avio names (Kala’Verso / Happy’Love) to Har’py concepts using avio naming conventions (Setani’Selina / Strange’Prisoner).
The tradition of naming first-born children in the avio language did not remain completely within the Prophet’s bloodline; many Har’py families name their firstborns using avio words to honour the Prophet.
Laws and Customs
The laws and customs of the Heck’ne have changed a lot over time; many of the original laws were lost during the 9,000s, but some have been brought back by the new Prophets.
Most social norms that are understood in other cultures are completely disregarded by Har’pies unless they aid in wasteland survival. This has lead to the land appearing quite lawless. However, Har’pies do have a set of rules they follow. Some are law, while some are simply customs or common sense, but most are followed without question.
• None shall harm the current reining Prophet’s children.
It is illegal to kill the Prophet’s child, as you leave the entire wasteland at risk if there are no heirs. If the Prophet dies without children there is no legitimate heir to take their place, and the wasteland will be leaderless and risk civil war.
The only time you can kill the child of the Prophet is in a publicly accepted Gra’gahoo da.
• A troop leader should always feed their mayts (partners) and children before themselves.
Food is one of the most important resources in the Heck’ne; to deny your family of food shows neglect and bad leadership. By taking on the role of troop leader, you have become the caregiver for your troop and your family’s needs should always come before your own personal needs. Honourably, you should die before your family suffers needlessly.
This rule is especially important during famine when the family’s survival is most challenged; many troop leaders will give up their lives to feed their family.
• Orphaned children shall remain orphans.
This law is believed to have started with attempts to adopt unhatched eggs; only to never see the children born. It became understood that abandoned children and eggs were abandoned for a reason; this slowly turned into the belief it is disrespectful to adopt the children of others as your own.
Survival in the loss of family, whether through death or abandonment, shows a great strength from the orphan. To treat them with pity is one of the greatest disrespects one can give a warrior; this was the knowledge that finalised the law that orphans may be fed and protected, but not treated as kin.
• Defend all children from spider venom and sabre teeth; even those that aren’t your own.
Spiders and sabre cats are the two biggest predators in the Heck’ne. They rival the native harpy race in a power struggle that causes the death of many children. It is important to protect all children from spiders and sabres; even at the cost of your own life.
• A single drop of blood spilled from Rendi kin shall be punished with death.
There is a strict rule that no native Rendi races may be harmed; they believe they are kin with all bird races because of the Rendi Origin, and extend kindness to the kin that tried to save them.
The dying should be killed to feed the healthy. It is considered cruel to force the dying to live in the harsh wasteland when it is sure they will not survive.
Do not lie and be ready to die for your words. Speak your mind, and keep yourself honourable with honesty.
If you wish to die, you must feed your troop with your body. To give your body to your family is to die with honour.
If you have a choice to live and lose a member of your family, or die to save their life, embrace death with honour and earn your place beside Zen’efay.
Only drink running water, and never eat the body of someone (or something) who was water-poisoned. Throw the body into the ga’oa or give them to the seces so that the poison is not passed on.
It is not appropriate to say only half of someone’s name. To call them by only half their name is disrespectful to the ones who named them. The only time a Har’py may be called half their name is if they publically renounce the name themselves.
There is a well-known custom that whenever the current Prophet gets a new partner the royal family will have a special dinner. They catch either a sabre cat or a spider and release it in a special pit that is found near the Prophet’s home. The pit is deep enough that it can only be escaped by flying; the animal is trapped in the pit while the royal family attempt to kill it.
Whoever deals the killing blow gets to sit by the Prophet and their new mayt during the meal; the others do not eat until after the three have finished.
Nobody knows where this tradition came from.
Harpies use a ranking system to dictate responsibility, though there is an old misconception that the Har’py ranking system promotes abuse, control, and ownership of other people; this is entirely false and Har’py ranks are defined by responsibility. The higher rank you are, the harder you are expected to work to protect and feed the other members of your family.
Har’pies are supposed to look after their family with their life, feeding them first and caring for them, and abusing them is strictly forbidden by Zen’efay’s code. This code is sometimes ignored by outsiders who come into the Heck’ne who want to manipulate the religion as a way to excuse their own terrible behaviours. These are the people that give Har’pies a bad name.
The lowest ranking harpy are a higher rank than all other Sentients in the Heck’ne. Foxen are second, with the lowest ranking foxen being equal to the highest ranking nurlak.
The reason that foxen are higher rank than nurlak goes with the Foxen Origin story; Gagoo’galornga failed and brought shame on the Heck’ne nurlak, and Klict’s kin had beaten him fairly, so they became high rank.
Other sentients that may live in the Heck’ne are treated equal to both foxen and nurlak, based on their own merit and actions.
The Har’py religion says to treat mud seces as equals, as they evolved because of Scara’s cruelty like the harpies did. They tend to feed off rotten carcasses that even harpies cannot eat and Har’pies will often allow seces to eat the remains of their own meals, and in turn, seces often gift non-rotten food to the Har’pies or help with hunts.
Because the harpy species is unable to learn written languages, they have been unable to record their own history. The majority of Har’py history has been recorded by outsiders and tends to be very negatively biased towards the religion. As outsiders don’t usually have an interest in Har’py history most books about Har’py culture don’t last more than a few generations before they are lost, abandoned, or destroyed. A few books have been preserved, however; including a large collection of ancient books detailing Heck’ne history that was inherited by one of Queen Distro’s guard (and asked to be added to the royal library) in the early 10,000s, from her Har’py parents. Though there is no evidence of how they gathered their collection all of the books have been deemed legitimate.
80,000-90,000 BW — Echo Hurns’ Diary
Roughly 90,000 years before reordered years a diary was written detailing old Heck’ne ways from the perspective of a young felinic girl (Echo Hurns). As the diary was written before recorded history there is no year. Instead, the front page is enchanted to state how many years have passed; though it is unclear if the number marks the years since the diary was written, or since it was enchanted. Because of this it is generally agreed the diary was written between 80,000-90,000 BW, but that the exact year is unknown.
A map was added into the front of the diary after its completion that shows the original borders of the Heck’ne; the Heck’ne took up the entirety of the continent’s lower half; bordering around I’reka and ending halfway through what is now Go’too.
The diary details the 13-year-old girl’s life from the day she ran away from home with an older wolven-human man (Angelo Pertan) after the early death of her father (who was not named). After leaving the Gallamor and arriving on Carra’Jor she was injured by his attempt to rape her; in the struggle, she was thrown into their campfire and suffered severe burns. After her trauma, she starts talking about her thoughts as colours that “wash over the mind like a rainbow of smoke” and it is very clear she suffered emotionally from her trauma as well as physically. In later passages of her diary, she describes the colours as prophetic seeings in which she speaks to the Har’py goddess.
While fleeing Angelo, she was captured by a pair of jutt-jaw harpies (who she noted were brothers). From the events she describes during her capture, it is clear that felinics were being used as slaves by the Har’py people. The younger jutt-jaw (An’ergy) appeared to be a hesitant slave-owner and this caused tension between the brothers; eventually, this lead to a fight in which the older (El’tek) was killed. After his brother’s death An’ergy lead his felinics to the edge of the Heck’ne and released them; Echo refused to leave, however, and wished to confront the Prophet.
In the passage where she confronts the Prophet, she mentions Gra’gahoo da. Unlike modern Har’pies, Har’pies from her time considered Gra’gahoo da as a last resort and were a lot more hesitant to fight to the death over resources; however, it seems that resources were also a lot more common during this time as the Heck’ne was much larger.
She describes her confrontation with the Prophet as almost completely verbal; Echo demanded the Prophet speak to Zen’efay and ask her directly if owning slaves was what she wanted of her people.
The Prophet used what appears to be an old form of blood magic to contact Zen’efay, and after his seeing he declared that Zen’efay saw owning others as a crime and described it as akin to what Scara had done to her. He declared that the survival of all Sentients —regardless of race— was the most important thing in the Heck’ne and that prejudice should be put aside. This lead to the freeing of the felinic slaves, and Echo’s safe return home.
9,000 AE — Alak’alabi’s Lies
Alak’alabi’s Lies is a book written by a nurlak from Balun in the early 9,000s. The nurlak, who kept their name secret in fear of the Prophet’s rage, details their move to the Heck’ne and the events which lead to Alak’alabi inheriting the title Prophet.
Alak’alabi was the twelfth born and was not likely to inherit the throne. Many were happy about this as she was considered selfish and aggressive. However, the Prophet line was nearly wiped out by a disease and Alak’alabi was the only survivor. Because of the sudden nature of the sickness, Alak’alabi claimed it was Zen’efay who sent the sickness so that she could become Prophet. Nobody dared argue with Alak’alabi, but there were rumours that Alak’alabi had poisoned her family with seces blood or spider venom.
After she became Prophet, Alak’alabi began to manipulate the ranking system; she taught deliberately incorrect laws to the children, and used her title of Prophet to secure mayts for herself— it was noted in the margin of the text that mayts were supposed to be completely willing, and this was not the case with Alak’alabi’s family. Her first husband (Gal’ana) tried to leave her for another woman, and Alak’alabi declared that Gal’ana was her property.
The Prophet challenged Gal’ana’s new mayt to Gra’gahoo da. Gal’ana’s mayt backed down, and Alak’alabi continued to abuse Gal’ana and change laws to suit her wishes. She encouraged the abuse and control of mayts, and forced Gal’ana to conceive a child with her.
They had a single son before Gal’ana used a herbal mix to turn himself infertile in hopes that Alak’alabi would let him go. She didn’t until their son turned of age; when she then claimed to have gotten bored with Gal’ana sold him to the woman he’d tried to run away with for seven nurlak women; all of whom she forced her son to conceive children with.
Her son died during a failed hunt for sabre cats (rumoured as a suicide) and Alak’alabi was reminded that she needed an heir to inherit; she chose to conceive children with her youngest grandson. This was done before he was of age, and she killed anyone who criticised her for it.
She claimed that the inbreeding was protecting the Prophet bloodline from “contamination” and was “keeping Zen’efay’s magic pure.” This lead to the legalisation of incest in Heck’ne.
A direct quote from the nurlak’s notes reads: “Alak’alabi decided that there was no longer an “age too young” for sexual relations. This was a despicable choice that will endanger future generations, and I cannot risk my own children’s safety for my religion. Especially when my beliefs are being so terribly butchered. I must return home.”
This was the last paragraph in the book, and the nurlak never states if they returned home safely or not.
Alak’alabi’s lies left damage for almost a thousand years after she ruled; new Prophets and Har’pies believed that her lies were Zen’efay’s wishes, and so the laws remained until the early 10,000s, when several Prophet’s attempted to fix the laws.
The first Prophet to attempt to fix the damage from Alak’alabi’s rule was Kala’Verso, a half-avio Prophet who spent the majority of her life working towards protecting children and bringing Heck’ne into the International Alliance. However, her children and grandchildren had different priorities and the Heck’ne’s laws were changed back and forth for several generations.
The next Propet to try and fix Heck’ne was Tru’man, who outlawed the ownership of other people and forceful partnerships, though he was a rather neglectful Prophet who spent more time with his own children than caring for Heck’ne.
It was only on Tru’man’s death and when his daughter, Setani’Selina, took over Heck’ne that things began to change significantly.
It is known that the Har’pies were reluctant to trust in Setani’Selina’s leadership, as she had not been the first heir and become Prophet due to her brother abandoning the position. This lead to her leadership being questioned. Setani’Selina was a rather dramatic Har’py, and her solution to people doubting her ability to lead was to forcefully summon the goddess Zen’eday into the mortal realm to address her people directly.
After Zen’efay was summoned, Setani’Selina announced that she was leaving the Heck’ne and left it up to the goddess to choose a replacement so that no Har’py could argue the new Prophet’s legitimacy. This replacement was Setani’Selina’s younger sister, Ta’kora, who was mostly fair and contributed to the positive changes in Heck’ne.
Gra’gahoo da is a Har’py fight to the death.
They must be completely naked so that they are not protected by their clothes; no weapons or armour or any form of protection. It must be 100% them.
Gra’gahoo da is not something to be challenged lightly; it is only during major disputes that can end no other way that the challenge is held.
The challenge may be rejected with the rejector considered the loser, but once Gra’gahoo da has been accepted it must be carried out. Even if one side surrenders, they will be killed; this is to express the seriousness of the challenge and stop Har’pies from manipulating the system by fighting until they almost lose and then surrendering when they had no intention to spare their opponent.
If Gra’gahoo da is rejected, the challenger is considered the winner. It is shameful to kill someone who has rejected Gra’gahoo da.
Zen’efay’s grave is the Prophet’s throne; it is a large chunk of diamond that is shaped like a complicated seat which the Prophet sits in while dealing with Heck’ne diplomacy.
Inside this clear diamond throne is a harpy skeleton, which has been proven to belong to the goddess Zen’efay herself.
The throne is known to have magical properties; healing any damage that may be done to itself and elongating the life of the Prophet beyond a normal harpy’s lifespan.
In the early 9,000s when Alak’alabi claimed the title of Prophet, the throne was shattered and scattered across Heck’ne. This was done against the wishes of the people, who collected the pieces and hid them until Alak’alabi’s death.
When Alak’alabi’s heir, Fai’ta, took over Heck’ne the people offered him the remains of his throne, which he accepted and carefully piled together in his sleeping place. He kneeled with the pieces of the throne, praying an apology to Zen’efay. By morning, the throne was reformed and Fai’ta had vanished. He was never seen again, and his daughter Gi’nynta ruled in his place.
In the mid-10,000s the throne was shattered again by Setani’Selina, who used the bones inside to summon her goddess into the mortal realm. It reformed upon Zen’efay’s return to the afterlife.
The Prophet’s Garden
The Prophet’s Garden is a large section of plant-life in the middle of the Heck’ne wasteland that was planted during Kala’Verso’s rule. Originally, it was a small garden of medicinal plants at the base of the Prophet’s throne for use by the people.
During the rule of Prophet Ali’ka the garden died into almost nothing, but it was regrown during Prophet Tru’man’s rule by his son, Geoff’Selulu. The garden flourished at Geoff’Selulu’s touch, and during the rules of Prophet Setani’Selina and Prophet Ta’kora, it grew into a four hundred acre field of medicines.
The garden is said to wilt when a Prophet goes against Zen’efay’s wishes, and grow best when a worthy Prophet takes control of Heck’ne. This has lead to the forced removal and replacement of several Prophets.
The Passage and its King
There is a smaller part of Heck’ne known as The Passage. The Passage has its own king, which is appointed by the Heck’ne’s Prophet and is usually one of their most loyal friends. The Passage’s king is considered the highest-ranking Har’py in Heck’ne, excluding the Prophet’s direct family.
They are considered the “second voice” of the Prophet; leading The Heck’ne through their Prophet’s orders, the king’s duties are to travel around the Heck’ne to make sure the laws are being followed and to share news of changed laws. This job is extremely taxing and stressful, and it is not uncommon for kings to die during their duties.
It is believed that being given complete control of The Passage is a reward for handling such a dangerous job; kings are allowed to make their own laws and rule The Passage as they see fit. Though, not many kings have time enough time to reassess and change the laws of The Passage. Nor do many care to, as their sense of honour and loyalty to the Prophet is near-unwavering. So, generally, The Passage and the Heck’ne’s laws will be identical.
Because the king is chosen by the Prophet, they change every time a new heir takes over Heck’ne. It is also not uncommon for the king to be replaced several times throughout one Prophet’s rule. This can be from the king willingly retiring, dying during their duties, or being replaced for disobeying orders.
While their title is “king”, many other countries consider them an ambassador or deputy of the Prophet and it is believed that the reason Har’pies refer to The Passage’s ruler as “king” because of the tale of Gagoo’galornga. This is also believed to be why Har’pies use the word “king” in a gender-neutral manner similar to the valenor.
There was no mention of The Passage or its king in Hurns’ time and, due to Heck’ne’s trouble recording history, it is impossible to pinpoint when and why the kings came to be.
Contrary to popular belief, those living in the Heck’ne do not live without shelter. They often create makeshift structures using what little they can find in the wasteland. E.g, a large boulder for shelter, using sticks and other debris to create a hovel, etc.
“Cloth cleaning” is a common habit to Har’pies; the act of filtering water through cloth to try and clean it.
The Fall of Nurlaks (AKA the Foxen Origin) details the disgrace of the nurlak species at the hands of Gagoo’galornga. Because of the shame he is believed to have brought to himself, Gagoo’galornga is one of the only Har’pies where it is socially acceptable to use half his name.
The triple moon is called the “dalrenta” by the Har’pies. It’s when the Heck’ne spiders hatch, and the Har’pies will join big hunts and slaughter them to make jerky (“hikekrik”).
The Har’py Death Hunt is called upon by troop leaders when one of their troop has offended them beyond forgiveness or broken the Prophet’s law. They hunt the person down, rip them to shreds, and throw their heart into the Underfor so their soul will wander lost forever at Scara’s mercy. This is only to be done in extreme cases, such as child abuse.
Har’py encourage at least one ‘same-mayt’ experience and often have multiple permanent partners of the same sex. They see no difference between heterosexual and same-sex relationships, besides the ability to bear children, and treat same-mayts no differently to their other mayts.
They are extremely accepting of transgender and intersex people, as having close relationships with seces and foxens mean they frequently interact with such people. And, as it is considered disrespectful to accuse someone of lying, identity is rarely questioned after being announced.
Har’py adore stone-scratch art; strange doodles and shapes that are scratched onto stones. Though most of the drawings aren’t recognisable as anything in particular, certain patterns are more popular than others. It is believed that this art form became popular because of Echo Hurns’ drawings.
There is a Har’py saying that came about in the early 10,000s, during Prophet Ta’kora’s rule. “Kama bal’hiki Linzor basaka,” with its literal translation being “thinking you’re handsome like Linzor.” It refers to people who think themselves better than they are.