You Cannot Kill Me in Any Way that Matters
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After the First Nälkä Disaporsa, after the fall of the Kalmaktama Empire, most Nälkän groups would remain secretive and insular. Their persecutions at the hands of the Mekhanites's coalition made this the most sensible option for the majority, who remained in areas where memories of the war were fresh. Some Karcists, such as Karcist Vaski, went further to try and create Kalmaktama anew—but most of these would find themselves marginalized in their new homes. Nälkä was strange and intimidating, and while much of this was simply the reaction of the ignorant, a reaction of fear was not unwarranted to sects like the Vātula. In their desperation, they have betrayed what led Ion to revolt against the Daeva.

But many practitioners of Nälkä fled northeast, to what we now know as the tundra of Siberia. This was a harsh land, but with their rituals and their Halkost, they could survive. That it was so barren, and so remote, must have seemed the perfect defense against reprisal by Mekhanite-led forces.

It was here they encountered the Veldt.

It's impossible to know how the first meeting between the Veldt and the Kalmaktaman refugees went, but the legends we have handed down suggest that the encounter was not peaceful. The myth of the Two Brothers is present, in one form or another, throughout our people, and tell of two siblings, separated at birth and ignorant of each other. Both are leaders among their people. One is a great hunter. He bears a mantle made of lichen, bears weapons of bone and meteoritic iron, and the predators of the tundra walk alongside him. The other is a great warrior, but (in most versions of the tale) flees a great enemy. He heals his flesh, and can alter the forms of himself and others. When the second brother returns to the tundra, he takes an eagle and takes its will, and sends it to hunt for the flesh of herbivores.

The two fight for three days and three nights, bringing their strongest magics to bear against each other and sending their mightiest followers into battle. But as they fight, they recognize each other as kin, and at the dawn of the fourth day, embrace.

To us today, far removed from this ancient conflict, it seems irrational. We can see the proof that the rituals and beliefs of the Veldt and the refugees were compatible every time we work our magics, attend a ritual, or listen to a story. But those were violent days, and the Kalmaktamans were not inclined to trust outsiders. The Veldt likely saw many of the rites and magics used by the Kalmaktamans as aligned with the Verdant. Using carnivores as base material for rituals to grow flesh was probably seen as the ultimate proof of contamination by the Verdant.1

But even in the days of our ancestors, the similarities in their practices and theology must have been clear. That they both used fleshwork was obvious, but superficial. Deeper similarities can be found in our ancestors foes--Yaldabaoth and the Verdant. The endless uncontrolled growth of the Verdant shows a clear parallel with Yaldabaoth's continual creation of life. The Veldt's predatorial nature is clearly reflected in Ion's hunt of the Archons.

The archaeological evidence suggests that our ancestors had begun to combine into a single culture within two centuries of initial contact, with neither culture having a dominant position over the other.

None of the karcists currently with us can speak of the time when our people were divided. The stories of that time are oral, and while a wealth of knowledge is recorded in them, it's hard to arrange them into a sequence. That only changed in the 12th century, with the creation of the Elayaidi.

It was Karcist Kasi who first conceived of the Elayaidi. Practitioners of Nälkä have been striving for elimination of the Curse of Mortality since Ozi̮rmok Ion overthrew the Daeva, and many Karcists have cured their own flesh. But to cure the flesh of another of the Curse is not so easy. Many Karcists have struggled, nobly but futilely, to undo the Curse on a mass scale. Kasi knew the craft of the Veldt and was skilled in his shepharding of the flesh, and he wandered in his youth before returning to his people. This breath of knowledge allowed him to see another solution--he could bind our consciousnesses to many spores, and bind the fungi of the tundra together in a living web. When we grew old, our souls would join with the web within the soil, and could be reborn anew.

It was not Ikunaan, but it seemed to be as close as anyone could come.

The decision to create the Elayaidi was not made lightly.2 Kasi's wanderings had shown him that the process could not be perfect. The memories and personality from a previous life would be there, but they would be dim and attenuated. It would not work outside our own lands, and there was a risk that time spent within the fungi would change us. A great council of all the villages discussed whether to proceed for a month, and those who were there say the debate was acrimonious. Nevertheless, in the end it was decided to create the Elayaidi. For thousands of years, we had made no progress in undoing the Curse. This was our first step forward.

Detailed knowledge of how the Elayaidi was created is only shared among the Karcists.3 We lay members do know that the fungal net beneath our feet was not one organism, but had to be stitched together like a quilt; Kasi himself traveled across all the land to fuse the mycelium in the soil together. Servants of our enemies--we don't know if they were of Yaldabaoth or of the Verdant--tried to stop him, but he and his acolytes defeated them.

The transferal of our souls into spores, the Second Birth, had to be done in person, and individually. To this day, when one of us is born for the first time, they are swaddled in the skin of a reindeer, and nestled in a patch of lichen. The power of the Veldt is called upon, and a Karcist creates a little bit of soulless halkost and introduces it into the child.

I can remember receiving the blessing, two lifetimes ago. The other people are not so clear—I remember that there were many of them, and I'm pretty sure my parents were among them. What I remember much better is the cold, and becoming aware of the fungus around me, and below me. In that moment I could feel it reaching upwards, and feel myself reaching down towards it.

My soul was my own, of course, and remained so. But I could feel the souls still in the soil, and feel the landscape around me. I don't have clear impressions, though some others do.

Dying has always felt remarkably similar to being born again. Except, when dying, I'm not pulled away from the fungus. I join it, flowing outwards from my body into the tundra until I'm ready to be born anew.

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