The Origin of the Rajamala - Aetolia Online Help

16.3.8 The Origin of the Rajamala

As told by Klaana:

It was the time of the great unknowing when all was without intellect but
guided by instinct and blood and hunger. The Itzatl was but an empty plain,
home only to scuttling beetles and the birds that hunted them out of
desperation. Some say it was a dark time, when we came to be.

We looked to the other creatures to understand how to eat and behave. We looked
to the creatures best suited to our interests. We looked to the lion and the
panther and the lynx. The Pantheon looked upon our ignorance and our beastly
ways, and most were displeased. Yet there was One that smiled and delighted. In
the rhythm our blood, spoke the Divine, urging us towards hunt and flight,
chase and kill, camouflage and survival. And we began to change.

Shorter our fingers became, and between them grew curved claws for ripping and
tearing. Powerful became our legs, and sharp our senses. The hiding became
easier, as did the leaping and the devouring. With tail and eyes and paws
granted by the Divine, we were every bit as much as cats as the lion, and we
were greater! More cunning still were we, and less merciful.

Our fur was the color of hunger, and from it did mortals learn the color
orange. There were no stripes, nor other interruption in its glory; that
tragedy would come later. From our pelts came the hues of the sunset and the
summer blossoms, for our cunning inspired all the world.

"You shall be called Tiger," said the Divine pulsing of our blood.

So did we live for many years, in a pure state beyond happiness and knowledge.
Then came the Other, whose roar was one of intellect. "These were once mortals
and now prowl the lands as beasts? What are these misshapen creatures, and to
what purposes do You pretend? They were to have wit, and clarity of mind! This
was not how it was meant to be!" said this Other, and it has been forgotten if
there was a reply in words, for the agony that followed swallowed all sound and
sense.

We were ripped apart, from the inside out. Divided in half, as surely as a
blade through the stomach, were we cut, and the cut was jagged. We looked at
our selves, and saw that we had become two. One retained the shape of Tiger and
one had regained two legs and stood upright. The pure sunset orange that had
blanketed us was haphazardly ripped, shared between our two bodies, the rest
streaked with the black of loss.

We have never found a way to reunite our divided halves. One half we still call
tiger, though most forget to call them brother. The other half, retaining tail
and fur yet lacking so much of what we were, endowed eventually instead with
capacity for thought and speech, came to be called the people of the Curved
Claw, or the Raja Mala in the Oldest Tongue. No longer do we approach the
Divine with claws sheathed. Perhaps one day we may again discover our purity of
color and purpose, and perhaps even repay the Other for Their tearing us in
two.

Until then, in roar and tooth, in stripe and stalk, we are Rajamala and we are
proud.