The Oration of Wiku
Below is a translation with commentary of a grand ancient epic belonging to a united Avian race. It is annotated by a contemporary Tengu linguist, Jet-Feather.
In the age* before the human had built his first fires in the depths;
In the age when the troglodyte was king under the ground;
In that age our forefathers migrated across the open surface of [red-planet].
They did so nakedly, without the grasping fur of slain animals.
They did so in comfort, un-buffeted by the heat and sands which followed.
They did so and drank of the waters of life, which at that time were known to flow.
For generations we flew and walked and hopped across the surface.
For generations we danced to worship the god of the sky.
For generations we made our impression known upon the world.
In the age where we walked we were one race of sky-fearers;
In the age where we ate the children of Serket;
In that age we were ignorant of the three÷ great calamities to come.
In that age we sang this song:
To our mighty host we render highest praises.
To our mighty creator we render all our love.
To our mighty ancestors we give of ourselves glory.
To our mighty riverbed we give our daily labor.
To our mighty aquifer† we sing all our lives’ praise.
To our mighty mountain we give chief among our prey.
To hosts and creators, ancestors and riverbeds, aquifers and mountains-high we give all our praise!
In the age when we walked and flew under the naked sky;
in the age when eagles‡ talked and we sang in reply;
In that age there lived of us one called Wikusupuidsan.°
Wiku gave great honor to his ancestors and more;
Wiku gave to mighty mountains all we’d give to gods!
To ancestors and mountains alone gave he his praise!
Then spake the storm-father from on high to the host:
To Wiku and those with him
Unworthy of their land and place
We shall give no longer
The blessings of the land!
Then his daughter, Misty-Morning• called out in reply:
Shall you not smite them?
Shall you not kill them?
They deny our divinity!
They deny our holiness!
Then again spake the bringer of rains:
Never shall I smite them
Never shall I kill at all
But the world without
our blessings shall cull!
So it was among the host decreed
that those who did as Wiku did
Would be without the blessings
which only the host could give.
But alas, Wiku was gifted of speech;
and alas, Wiku was blessed with a truth:
for the way of Wiku was easier.
Where Serenpeli¿ cried out
for three hands of the sun
Wiku needed only cry out
for one hand of the sun.
And so the way of Wiku
became the way
of all feathered folk.
And there was war among the host.
For some listened to the voice
of Misty-Morning in dissent.
And again begged the one
who brings rain into the world
to loose his lightning on Wiku.
But the cloud-dweller
who is the judge of souls
was unmotivated to abandon
the stand he made against them.
And so a portion
of the host
gathered its will
And another portion
gathered its will
But the host could not destroy itself.
And the will once gathered needed release.
So one portion
among the host
to unleash its will
against those who flew
near the ground.
Your kind has trespassed from
the known right action
And into the realm of iniquity!
And so the will was made manifest
full of the essence of unlife
which did wither a billion lives
as it desolated all the world’s face.
But the mountain
gave shelter to Wiku
and his brethren
who gave worship upward.
For mountains covet worship
and despise the host above.
While the world was made desolate
and unsuitable for mortal life again;
These acts did Wiku contemplate
from a safe mountain’s cave.
And, with the next morning’s rise, he stood.
And by the power of the Mountain
He was greatly enlarged.
He spoke, and all the host needed hear;
“All ye foul beasts who make the host,
All ye miserable parasitic cretins!
What crawling thing among you:
What rotting grub is worthy of worship?
Is Storm-Father and Rain-Bringer?
Is Misty-Morning and sunlight?
Shall the host quarrel as mortals?
Shall the host rise up to smite as mortals do?
Die, host of worms, unworthy of sparing!
Die as a grub full of fat, die that we may be nourished.
Never again shall those with feathers cling to you:
Never again shall any, for a crawling rat shall slay ye.
You who claim to walk with Dragons!
You who claim to judge our souls!
Die then with the Sea-Monster!
Die then with by the sword of a rat!”
*The traditional rendering of the title of this poem is based on the first word, “Rikh!” rendered here as “In the age”. However, that title seems problematic, considering how little of the poem actually focuses on that age. Therefore, I have chosen to title the piece in reference to the oration which ends it, which is definitely the oldest part of the text. Certain problematic considerations to the text’s use as a holy relic are not worth mentioning here, but are on my mind as well as I make this choice.
÷This tale recounts only the first great calamity, “Host-Wrath”. A parallel epic tells the tale of Wasthu, who gave compassion to serpents and was rewarded with a great plague, and a third tells the tale of Wurto, who forgot the worship of his ancestors and was rewarded with a fundamental schism in the Avian kind. It is in the tale of Wurto that the Strix originate. All of the other tales are illustrated with proto-Avians.
†Alternate renderings are “lake”, “reservoir”, and “watering-hole”. This last is a bit hard to understand, as it sounds a bit otherworldly. In general, I prefer to choose a word that readers will be somewhat familiar with if possible.
‡Again, not easy to translate. Perhaps “Glory-Roc”? None of these words find a good expression in our current place, but most languages from that period have words for flying non-sentient birds of prey.
°We meet the hero/antagonist/subject of our epic by seeing his uncomfortably long name spelled out. Other mentions of him by name use a shorter glyph, and I shall echo their convention, using only “Wiku” instead of the full “Wiku-su-pu-id-san”.
•Unbelievably, this name, which appears in the earliest manuscripts we are able to find, does in fact strongly suggest that the earliest Avians had knowledge of a day/night cycle. There are numerous other allusions to solar and even lunar phenomena which give a strong impression that these were not stumbled upon by accident.
¿It is believed by linguistic scholars that this is a reference to a leader who Wiku had subverted to lead his people, but only the name survives in our current manuscripts.