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Matahouroa Worldbuilding

September 26, 2013

“Long ago, mankind lived in Sawaiki, the northernmost island in the vastness of the sea. It was the Paradise that we’ve lost, and the Paradise that we will reclaim.”

– Raiti, the Tohunga Ahurewa

Matahouroa is a plane covered by vast, fathomless oceans. These oceans are dotted by many islands and archipelagi, forming patterns on the immense seas. The largest and most notable island system is Hinawahine, the “gray haired woman”, so named due to the mysts that slide across it from the ocean to the mountain peaks, and it is the center of the plane’s human civilisation. For the sake of brevity, and because the vast global ocean has many secrets not yet revealed, this is where our story lies.

Hinawahine was not the plane’s original “center”, so to speak. Long ago, in temporal fogs so thick as the real ones, legends say that humanity lived in the northern island of Sawaiki, a place described as “paradise” and “our true home”. With time, however, mankind’s abuse rendered the island a hostile wasteland, and humanity begged the gods for help. As their answer, many a gigantic Hōkūleʻa showed up on Sawaiki’s shores, to deliver the starving and desesperate humans from Sawaiki. One, steered by the shark god Ka-moho-aliʻi, carried Hinawahine’s colonisers. When arriving to Hinawahine, and seeing an opportunity to start anew, the human survivors built five Moai on Hinawahine’s most sacred areas, to celebrate their gods as well as to prevent the same disaster from happening again. Sawaiki is still widely sought and remembered, however, being considered the fortunate afterlife to travel to take residence there as a spirit.

When all of this happened is not clear, but the current civilisation, a vast Empire that has expended well beyond Hinawahine, has been going on for around 3000 years, and the Moai have been influencing Matahouroa for so long that they shaped their sacred locations into the most massive mana pools on the plane. These sacred spots are much seeked for the benefits of such powerful magical essences, but the price is more often than not too high.

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Geography

Hinawahine is technically an archipelago of several islands, but more often than not the name is reserved for the main central island, the largest known landmass on the plane, with the sorrounding islands being its “daughters”. Hinawahine proper has a vaguely oval/oblong shape, with a ragged northern shore puncted by cliffs, and is basically divided into two main areas: the Lowlands and the Highlands.

The Lowlands are Hinawahine’s ancient, untamed forests, punctuated by the occasional savannas. A very large portion of the Lowlands is also occupied by the river Ingikiwai and it’s mouth, the enormous Wairepomangu swamps. Several settlements occur along both areas, the largest being Koronitiwa, in the middle of the Wairepomango, and Karatakara, where the Ingikiwai approaches the Highlands the most. The Lowlands as a whole are generally safe, the major settlement areas being ironically the most dangerous, where conflicts with the Patupairehe and the Kawau over the land and it’s resources are frequent. Two of the Moai are located here, one in the depths of the Wairepomango and the other at Ingikiwai’s source. The former is well known and sought after, while the latter remains a secret well protected by the Pirita Kahuna. An insolated area, the Parāone, is culturally cut off from the rest of Matahouroa.

The Highlands are Hinawahine’s enormous Central Plateau, dominated by extensive montane prairies and crowned by a circle of high, often furious volcanic mountains, punctuated by scrubland. While the Lowlands are warm and wet, with a tropical or subtropical climate, the Highlands are exposed to extreme fluctuations, with hot Summers and frigid Winters. Crossed by the pristine, silvery Kapongatakere river, it is the center of civilisation, with the great city of Hiruhāramānia occupying two third of the southern areas of the Plateau; several smaller settlements occur in the plateau’s north, forming a line. As the center of civilisation, the Central Plateau is the base of operations for the human Empire, and while safe for now, if destroyed it would spell the end for Matahouroa’s civilisation. Like the Lowlands, two Moai are present in the Highlands, one in the center of Hiruhāramānia and the other in the highly active volcanic region in the northwest of the Plateau, both frequently visited and held in much religious fervor.

Outside of Hinawahine proper, there are many smaller islands, harbouring numerous settlements, from cities covering entire islands to small docks on otherwise wild areas. The most impotant of these is Hiriwa, a fully civilised island that is the center of Hinawahine’s naval force as well as a massive information bank. It holds the only Moai outside of the mainland.

Important Locations

Lowlands:

Ingikiwai

Matahouroa’as largest known river, the Ingikiwai is considered to be the Plateau’s shadow, it’s source in the westernmost mountain slopes, and it runs parallel to it, bordering the southern slopes and running to the northeast, the mouth being the Wairepomango swamps. Many rivers in the mountain ranges bordering the Plateau flow into it, thus at it’s prime it is very wide and deep. It’s name comes from it’s inky black waters, and it’s shores are generally filled with extensive podocarp and gingko forests, with dense vegetation hiding the shores and the water near them. Numerous settlements and associated farmlands occur alongside the Ingikiwai, the great but calm river providing an easy route for commerce and providing a rich source of sediments for fertilising crops and to be used in local medicine. The river itself is also a powerful source of forest mana, thanks to the Murmuring Moai hidden in it’s source, and thus the source of pilgrimage for biomancers and nature mages. The Moai itself is hidden zealously by the Pirita Kahuna, whose existence in itself is made as esoteric as possible, and defended viciously.

Karatakara

Ingikiwai’s largest settlement, Karataraka spans an entire valley between the river and the Central Plateau, with a series of smaller settlements connecting it to Hiruhāramānia, forming a near perfect corridor for civilisation in otherwise wild lands. It is a commerce hotspot, one of the largest in the world, obviously due to it’s connection to the center of civilisation and the to Ingikiwai. It is also one of the largest food production areas in Hinawahine, with a relatively small, but extremely productive patch of farmland bordering it. This unfortunately placed it at conflict wth the Patupairehe, which claim the area as their home, and are growing more vicious as the farmlands expand. Because of this, the local millitary force has increased, with tropes descending from the Plateau and arriving from the Ingikiwai. So far, the conflict hasn’t been escalated significantly, but only because the Patupairehe have been occupied with mysterious attacks.

Karatakara is run by an Ariki leading them, a position currently held by the young woman known as Aherenika, supported by an extensive council, composed of the mercantile elite, generals and a representative of the Pirita Kahuna. The Pirita Kahuna in themselves have immense political power, some claiming that they are the true rulers of Karatakara, though in reality their actual political position is a rather complex affair. It is in Karatakara where they have their “official” base, Pounamuhoro, and where they recruit and train new members, though their true headquarters lay deep in Hinawahine’s forests, on what is almost the opposite side of the island.

Wairepomango

These immense swamps occupy most of Hinawahine’s northeastern territories, from the northeastern slopes of the Plateau to the sea. They are literally the darkest place on the island, as it’s massive podocarps and ferns forming a dense canopy and the mysts are thicker there than in anywhere else. The area is almost completly aquatic, the ground entirely covered by black water, sometimes quite deep in some areas. It is the home of the Kawau, Hinawahine’s darker cormorant-like Aven, as well as several aquatic monsters that lurk in the shadowy waters, and thousands upon thousands of shades, the highest concentration in the known world. In spite of all of this, humans regularly pass through the Wairepomango, through tree-less channels established centuries ago, and some live permanently in the swamp, easily making a living by farming the Wairepomango’s fish, shrimps and mushrooms. Conflict is common in the otherwise calm swamps, with Kawau or rogues stealing from the commercial vessels or engaging in power struggles, and the generally silent monsters and shades stalking either, striking suddenly and viciously. Most deaths in the Wairepomango lead to the corpse’s desecration, either becoming part of the necromantic market, or devoured.

Wairepomango is protected by the Taniwha known as Pango. Rarely seen, this old beast lurks in the darkest depths of the swamps, hunting and dominating the monsters that cruise those waters. Many Kawau and humans dare to make deals with Pango in exchange for power, most of which failing to keep their end of the bargain, and hence their lives. Those few that do manage to satisfy Pango are greatly rewarded, however, and are the most powerful black mages of the plane.

Koronitiwa

In the middle of the Wairepomango lies the rotten city, a series of floating settlements atop a deep, tree less “lagoon”. Sustaining itself on commerce, it is frequently raided by the Kawau, and attacked by aquatic beasts. Nevertheless, it’s relative hospitality, as well as providing several resources on it’s own, ensures it’s prominence in the trading routes of all over Matahouroa. It is also the center of necromantic trade, where the butchered remains of the dead are sold for dark magic rituals. Even ashes and bones fragments are worth a lot in the trade. While necromantic trade and necromancy are official illegal, the law enforcement turns a blind eye to Koronitiwa, because necromantic trades with the Kawau have saved a lot of lives and ensured less brutal raids. Ususally more legally, Koronitiwa also provides shrimp, fish and mushroom farms, as well as fertiliser for more conventional farming.

The center of Koronitiwa is the location of the Grieving Moai. The statue’s tears are well sought by mages of all kinds, from necromancers to healers, but they are well guarded by ravenous spirits of the dead, which will gladly dismember anyone who comes near the statue, and add the to their own. Only a few mages can dispell the angry shades, usually taught by Pango to do so. These few become known as the Ataata Kahuna, Matahouroa’s dark priests, and by default Koronitiwa’s righteous regents. The position of the city’s top dog is widely contested among these ambitious mages, though not all desire to be so limited. Currently, the city is ruled by Teone Miritene, Koronitiwa’s unofficial Ariki, who answers directly to the mysterious Ataata Kahuna known as Pō.

Parāone

On the northernmost region of Hinawahine lies an area of birch savannas and swamps. It is inhabitted by the Taika and a few human settlements. Isolated from most of Hinawahine, the human natives are quite culturally distinct from the rest of Matahouroa’s civilisation, their origins lost to time, though generally thought to be the only of the many ancient tribes of Hinawahine not absorbed by the Empire. They are, however, quite aware of their neighbours, and while keeping friendly relationships, guard is always raised. A city, Aniniwamarae, stands as the largest of the settlements in the area. It is ruled by a monarch known as Eriki, a position currently held by Ahiahi.

Of particular interest are the region’s dunes. Sacred to the locals, they radiate with ancient magics, and within them are hidden treasures from Hinawahine’s past, including what some believe to be the remaints of the Hōkūleʻa that transported the human’s ancestors to Hinawahine. Recently, the Tohunga Ahurewa has expressed interest in Parāone’s dunes, and although no official excursions have been made to the area, the Pirita Kahuna have taken upon themselves to act. The sorrounding jungles are now filled with eldritch sounds, the natives rightfully believe themselves to be at the mercy of ravenous beasts, that will destroy what they hold dear in due time. And so, Ahiahi has began to assemble an army.

Highlands:

Hiruhāramānia

The great and massive city of Hiruhāramānia is, as stated before, the center of Matahouroa’s human civilisation, occupying two thirds of the southern areas of the Plateau, from the bases of the mountain tops to across the Kapongatakere river. The massive settlement is fundamentally a single building that spans several miles, a massive platform upon which are built houses and other installations, nearly all connected to each other, the streets resembling a maze as they serpentine around and between this united building complex. In some areas, the streets almost resemble roof-less corridors, the houses simply chambers of a building, and the open spaces roof-less hallways. It is overall shaped more or less like a small mountain, with the tallest center being the Palace. The Palace acts both as the military citadel, the headquarters of the government and the temple for the empire’s gods. The city houses the Empire’s monarchical ruler, the “Prince”, a position currently held by Whēuriuri. Hiruhāramānia’s priest caste, the Pūhihi Kahuna, has historically beared immense political power, as does the military, both forming the government body right beneath the monarch. Politics in the great city have become submerged in an atmosphere of perpetual and intense tension, with Whēuriuri favouring the secular body that is the military, and Raiti displaying extreme distate for the “Prince”, being the first Tohunga Ahurewa to openly denounce the monarch’s rule in centuries.

Hiruhāramānia is a city where law is holy. It is in the topmost chambers of the Palace where the Invoking Moai is located, in the royal shrine at the center of the Palace. There is a series of plates in front of the Moai, each bearing the holy laws supposedly dictated by the gods. They change, in theory in accordance to divine will, but most often secretly manipulated by Pūhihi Kahuna to suit their agendas. Traditionally, these laws were enforced by the military across the Empire, but elsewhere the complex bureaucracy has ensured that few of these laws see enforcement outside of the Plateau. And within the walls of Hiruhāramānia, the government has become largely more pragmatic and secular, laws now extensively discussed before approval or rejection, instead of simply accepted as divine mandate without question. While this has increased the standards of living within the city, the Pūhihi Kahuna perceive this as the signs of corruption and moral decay, adding fire to the stactic.

As the center of the Empire, Hiruhāramānia is fed by commerce, especially with the hotspot that is Karatakara being rather close. Farmlands have largely been consumed by the expanding city, and the other settlements of the Plateau usually can only provide for themselves, though trade with Hiruhāramānia does occur during Spring and Autumn months, when productivity is just high enough. Nonetheless, any potential for mercantile potical power has been successfully prevented by the Pūhihi Kahuna, and political corruption associated with the market figureheads is fiercely retributed upon by the military. A wealthy elite does exist, but it is nigh powerless in the political atmosphere of the city.

The standards of living in Hiruhāramānia are among the highest in the Empire, second only to Hiriwa, all citizens able to afford food, water and medical care. Education is a free service, though extensively controlled. No public libraries exist in Hiruhāramānia, and information trade is painstakingly monitorised. The government’s basic policy is that of a benevolent dictatorship, where the needs of the average citizen are tended as to be as confortable as possible, but any disruption to the now precarious stablity is swiftly acted upon.

Kapongatakere

The Plateau’s perpetually pristine, clear-watered river, it almost perfectly bisects it, being born in the westernmost ranges, not that far to the north of the Ingikiwai – which is considered it’s “sister river” -, and ending at the easternmost end of the Plateau, falling into massive, perpetually mysty falls known as the Āniwaniwawairehe. These falls supposedly add to the mouth of the Ingikiwai, their waters flowing into the Wairepomango, though the mysts are so thick and light-reflecting that nobody can’t actually witness the end of the falls, and indeed many suspect that the water simply never actually reaches the Ingikiwai, evaporating into the air and rising into the skies as clouds. Regardless, Kapongatakere is of poor use for the commercial trade outside of the Plateau, vessels being unable to climb the Āniwaniwawairehe, and indeed the only vessels that cross the river are small boats that simply aid locomotion within the vast alpine steppes.

Kapongatakere passes through Hiruhāramānia, the city having expanded to a small area of the river’s north shore, conveniently contained within one of Kapongatakere’s few curves. The river, usually only a few meters deep, decreases in depth immensely here, and it creates massive underground lakes that occupy most of the city’s area. These lakes, which provide the necessary water for the inhabittants of Hiruhāramānia, are infused with minerals that keep it perpetually pristine, clean and drinkable, and provide it with medicinal qualities. These caverns are the main home of the river’s Taniwha known as Kiwitea. The guardian of the Plateau, he once also acted as an oracle for Ka-moho-ali’i, but this function has waned as Ao gained favour among the Pūhihi Kahuna.

Kōmarumaunga

The tallest mountain in Hinawahine, and the whole of known Matahouroa, Kōmarumaunga is located in the eastern margins of the ranges that border the plateau. Rising miles above even the already extremely tall mountains that sorround it, it is rightfully known as the “sky mountain”, it’s peak perpetually covered in white clouds, and obscured from the lowlands. The peak looks as if bisected, a round, flat mountain top instead of ragged cliffs or deep craters. Most of it is occupied by a lake of melted gold, which is basically the tip of a volcanic channel, keeping the mountain always warm and snow free. Eruptions do occur with some frequency, basically resulting in the molten gold flowing down the mountain slopes, covering it in a crust of precious metal after it cools down. For some reason, the slopes never have a permanent gold covering, the metal always falling down towards the valleys and washed away by the Ingikiwai, deposited in the murky depths of the Wairepomango.

Kōmarumaunga is most infamous for being the main residence of Matahouroa’s militant eagle-like Aven, the Pouakai. The mountain’s height and hostile conditions offer a perfect base for the flying warmongerers, a nigh impenetrable fortress to which the Pouakai can retreat in failed excursions. And in recent years, Kōmarumaunga has become a citadel for an army that grows steadily in number, and more lethal than ever before.

Rinomaunga

Located to the northwest of the plateau, Rinomaunga is an area of extensive volcanic activity, the numerous peaks and craters blackened and bare, excepting for the hardiest, fastest growing plants growing here and there from the crags. Rivers of lava frequently flow, and black clouds almost always darken the sky. Toxic gases permeate the air, and temperatures oscilate quickly, ranging from geothermic releases that cast fire on everything organic, to frigid winter cold spells. Few animals live here, but people frequently journey to this hostile land. The richness of the ashes is too vital to ignore, and most importantly this is a sacred place, where the primal energies of chaos and freedom pool the most in the whole of Hinawahine, drawing pyromancers, geomancers and other elemental mages from the whole of the plane, and planeswalkers as well.

As such, a temple, Tīrarae, sits well in the center of Rinomanga, a vast crater dug well into the earth, always lit by the orange glow of lava. The temple is for the most part a series of enormous, tens of meters tall steel bars, connected by a large, pyramidal roof, under which lays a pool of lava, where the Chanting Moai is seated. The temple is the place of residence for the Tahepuia Kahuna, who alone are capable of some of the finest metallurgy in the Empire, and thus widely sought and funded in exchange for producing powerful metallic blades and armour, as well as commissoned sculptures. The Tahepuia Kahuna are renowed as great artists, many statues and other drafts laying around littered across Rinomaunga, usually not for long as the lava reclaims what was from it extracted.

Settlement Line

A line of settlements dots the east and north of the Plateau, from Hiriwapā at the Āniwaniwawairehe to Maitaikāinga a few miles to the east of Rinomaunga. These settlements are largely farming communities, growing plantations of sweet potato and other edible vegetables for substinence, and occasional trade. One of these, Mangokāinga, is also a significant military outpost, both serving as a training center as well as a defense measure against the perils of the mountains, such as Pouakai that frequently attack these smaller settlements. Otherwise, most of these small settlements are either ruled by a local Ariki and/or the Pūhihi Kahuna. Both the strength of the military and the clergy in the area are rather recent developments in response to previous continuous independence by these settlements, which had previously gradually diverged from Hiruhāramānia in terms of culture. This has left many residents very bitter, and tensions are high.

Sorrounding Islands:

Hiriwa

About a mile to the east of the main island of Hinawahine, Hiriwa is one of the most important islands outside of the Empire’s center. Having been colonised by humanity about 2500 years ago, it had previously already been established as the homeland of the Parekareka, which surrendered the island in exchange for luxury. Since then, Hiriwa has been completly civilised, it’s wilderness being entirely consumed by human habitations, some of the most sophisticated in the world, aside from patches of sterile grassland. Hiriwa is of immense importance to the Empire for several reasons: originally the most productive fishing grounds known, it is currently the headquarters of the navy, producing the most advanced ships Matahouroa has to offer, stored in well protected bays. It is also a very powerful center of communications and commerce, always taking a role in strategising new colonies.

More importantly, it has become the Empire’s research and development center, where technology is investigated and developed, being the birthplace of sophisticated weaponry, naval or otherwise. It is also a massive information bank, containing Matahouroa’s largest libraries, where information is availiable to all, in theory without the censorship often present in the rest of Hinawahine. Education is mandatory and literacy most widespread, and it has historically been known as a safe haven for philosophers and scientists of all creeds and methodologies. This, combined with the general lack of poverty and the development of a well established wealthy elite, has earned Hiriwa’s people the reputation of pretension, arrogance and cowardice elsewhere in the Empire. The general disregard for tradition and freedom has also equated them with ammorality and insencerity, a sentiment that has evolved in considering terms associated with Hiriwa and it’s people as pejoratives and even profanities in certain areas. Nonetheless, many are the admirers of the island’s free and knowledgeable tendencies, as well as their valor in naval warfare. Hiruhāramānia itself is ambivalent on the matter, with “Hiriwa’s caress” being an euphemism for cancer and other fatal diseases, but widely respected in the military. Karatakara is the biggest opposer, in part due to competition it terms of commerce and production as well as due to the constant preaching of the Pirita Kahuna, who observe similarities between the stories of Sawaiki and the “nature-disregarding”, militaristic Hiriwa.

Hiriwa is the only island besides the central island of Hinawahine with a Moai, the Scolding Moai, emerging from the waters in the bay of Tapukokoru. The Moai is tended to and protected by the Karetai Kahuna, which keep it well enough a secret that even only a few of the island’s human residents are aware of it’s location. The Karetai Kahuna, alongside the Parekareka, are the true rulers of the island, but entertain a pseudo-aristocratic elite originating from merchants and the Empire’s long gone nobility, using them as puppet rulers. This has been suspected by Hinawahine’s authorithies, and the navy, which operates under direct orders from Hiruhāramānia, is most distrustful of the clergy and the Aven.

Inanga

Located to the south of Hinawahine proper, Inanga is the largest of the sorrounding islands, extending by about two thirds of the length of Hinawahine’s southern coastline, and with about a fourth of the main island’s thickness. Punctuated by settlements, it is still largely dominated by forests, inhabitted by the Hoiho, the Kākāriki and Kahuna that declare themselves to be Pirita Kahuna. A small volcanic area known as the Kapapuia also harbours it’s own Tahepuia Kahuna group, as well as a large population of Tama-nui-te-Whiro. It’s plantations are some of the Empire’s most apreciated and well kept, having earned a reputation of producing particularly sweet vegetables, earning it a rather healthy yearly income.

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Human Culture

The history of humanity before the Empire is poorly understood, largely due to the absence of writting prior to it. Legends from time immemorial state that humanity once thrived in the island of Sawaiki, the ancient paradise and homeland of legends, where men lived without the fear of disease, old age and other ills, where food was plentiful and the gods always favourable. However, legends say, mankind grew proud and warlike, desecrating the sacred forests until they were nothing but ash, killing off the plentiful birds, waging war on fellow men and giving in to violence, cruelty and cannibalism. It is said that the gods did not even need to move a finger, as mankind ruined itself, destroying Sawaiki and reducing it to a wasteland. As hunger and disease arrived like the sea fogs, mankind wept and begged the gods for help, for at least the soothing embrace of death if nothing else. The gods took pity on mankind and sent five massive Hōkūleʻa, made from gold, coral and crystal and full of food and medicine, enough to last for months. Five gods, one for each Hōkūleʻa, were the captains of these life ships, Ka-moho-ali’i steering the Hōkūleʻa that carried the Empire’s ancestors. The fate of the other Hōkūleʻa is wrapped in mystery, their final fate unknown to all, but Ka-moho-ali’i diligently and faultlessly drove his ship to the south, until he found an island with great mysts. It was named “the gray haired woman”, Hinawahine, and was offered by the shark god to mankind, under the promise of careful management and peace.

The colonisers formed many tribes, spreading across the island, domesticating it’s animals and carefully creating farmlands. After centuries of developing in isolation, tensions began to form, and it is said that the tribe that dominated the Plateau, once ruling where Hiruhāramānia is now, took over Hinawahine “without sheeding blood”, unifying the tribes under an Empire, which would afterwards expand into the sorrounding seas, preserving Hinawahine’s resources whilst finding new ones. By about five centuries after the Empire’s birth, all islands of Hinawahine had been conquered, and other archipelagos were found just decades after. A few insular tribes had been found, one of which a minor island-spanning civilisation as well, all assimilated or conquered, rendering Parāone’s peoples are the only non-Empire humans known in Matahouroa at the time of this writting.

Because of Sawaiki’s tragedy, the concept of Tapu has become very important to both the Empire and the peoples of Parāone. Generally speaking, something that is Tapu is considered inviliolable or sacrosant, and they should not be touched, should not be meddled with, and in some cases not even spoken about. A superior’s personal items, for example, are Tapu, and cannot be touched by an inferior; religious relics are Tapu, and should not be touched unless by the Kahuna or the Prince. Many animals are Tapu, and cannot be thus hunted; Tapu applied to areas is distinguished as Rāhui, and is a very important method of preserving the Empire’s sacred spaces and natural resources, effectively rendering them untoucheable to all but the Kahuna. Tapu can even extend to abstract concepts and actions: not honouring the gods is Tapu, for instance. Tapu is such a strong concept that there is an inherent magic to it: violating Tapu enforces by default anything from a visceral sense of shame to outright death, depending on the gravity. The longer something has Tapu, the more inviolable it will become.

That said, Tapu can be omitted and dissolved, in the form of Noa. Noa, or blessings, lift Tapu from something, allowing the enforcing magics to be evaporated and the prohibition thus removed. Noa occurs whenever gifts occur, lifting the reservation and prohibition, and in everyday Tapu simply a genuine desire to give that blessing suffices. When it involves the norms of the society, the higher the authorithy, the more effective the Noa is, and even enchantment charged Tapu can be dispelled easily if the thing in question is under his/her authorithy – a general instantly removes the Tapu inherent to his food in regards to lower people if s/he so wishes to offer it to a starving child, for example. Rāhui cannot be so easily dispelled, however, with even the Kahuna normally powerless to remove it.

For obvious, many a person desires to have entire mastery over Noa, or else be able to bypass Tapu in other ways. In some practises, violating Tapu is actually the whole focus, misdirecting the curse to empower instead. This is a very dangerous gamble, especially when violating Tapu usually does not entirely remove it, but those successful in this technique have become excepionally powerful mages. The Kahuna for the most part are the most powerful in delivering Noa, their blessings removing Tapu from everything but Rāhui. Removing or blatantly violating Tapu is not always necessary, however: many people try to weasel their way around it, doing things of questionable nature by rationalisations and technicality. So long as the conviction is strong, bending Tapu to one’s will is possible, to the point that the breaking point may never be reached. This is how the Empire’s ancient system caste system has gradually eroded away, the Tapu that kept them distinct gradually being weaseled out as the “lower class” managed to find ways to ascend socially, particularly in regards to the relevance of commerce.

Government

Historically, a caste system seperated nobility, the Kahuna, the “lower class” and war captives/slaves. As the Empire grew, the needs to oversee more and more settlements, the merchants’ increasing importance, the reforms of the military and the progressively more esoteric tendencies of the Kahuna dissolved this caste system into a more pragmatic ruling body:

– “True” nobility has been reduced to the royal line proper. The current royal line is considered to be the descendents of Māui, sharing his unusual grayish-golden eyes, and in the last two millenia this emphasis has dictated the monarch’s bloodline in particular regard, becoming the focus of conservation on the part of the Kahuna and righted by divine mandate. Because of the absence of more royalty, the monarch was traditionally allowed to marry from within the nobility, but with it’s dissolution the issue has become more complicated. Generally, an Ariki consort is selected, the marriage ceremony now involving extensive purification rituals to allow for the blood of Māui to be preserved.

The monarch is the ultimate authorithy, though s/he has to consider the opinions and suggestions of the subordinate government body. Once seen as the connection between the gods and mankind, this role has largely been usurped by the Kahuna, but the divine blood still grants the monarch authorithy over them under usual circumstances. In the span of the Empire’s history, the Kahuna almost never intervened with the monarch’s rule, until now, where the conflicts with the current “Prince” and the Tohunga Ahurewa have become progressively more severe. The current monarch is “Prince” Whēuriuri, with his cusins Mura and Hatiti being the next in the line for the throne.

The peoples of Parāone are lead by a monarch known as the Eriki. The Eriki is also thought to have divine blood in his/her veins, though there is much less worry about the bloodline being preserved. The Eriki retains his/her functions are the connection between mankind and the gods and thus the religious figurehead, there being no priestly class analogous to the Kahuna. Ahiahi is the current Eriki.

– The military, always recruiting members from all walks of life, has had an increasing political influence for the past few centuries, embodying a face of social potential and ascension in the face of previous rigid caste systems. Already frequently the ruling power in external colonies, it entered in vicious competition with the Kahuna in terms of political power, a secular government body against a theocratic one. Now, both groups have utterly displaced other factions/social grades at the position secondary to the royal line, forming the actual government body with the monarch as the figurehead. And “Prince” Whēuriuri came to favour the military out of the two, rendering the Empire almost under martial law.

The military has a well organised system of ranks, on which the members are prommoted or demoted in accordance to performance and honour[s]. The top rank is that of the Tianara, now held by the man known as Aata, which many consider to be pratically equal to the “Prince” in every way. The patron god of the army is Ka-moho-ali’i, though several gods are called in the battlefield. Regardless, the military is fundamentally secular, as it is Tapu to cloud strategy with delusions of exacting divine will. Consequently, these same “logical” strategies translated into the battlefield of politics.

– Outside of Hiruhāramānia, individual territories are general ruled by an Ariki. Originally Hinawahine’s non-royal nobility, the Ariki is a position generally elected or prommoted to, usually from the military, the merchant elite and, more rarely, the Kahuna. An Ariki does not usually answer to democratical vote: the population’s favour is usually meaningless to place a person as an Ariki, as it is the government body that does so, though an exceptionally unpopular Ariki will be placed under trial and demoted. More often than not, the Ariki is simply a figurehead, the military, merchants and/or Kahuna being the true power in the individual territories.

An Ariki should not be mistaken for the Eriki, the monarchical ruler of Parāone’s peoples.

– As the Empire has expanded beyond Hinawahine, merchants have also gained relevance. Karatakara, Koronitiwa, Hiriwa and several islands outside of Hinawahine have developed well established mercantile elites, which compose most of the localised government bodies. They are almost never in an “official”position of power, with an Ariki, the military or the Kahuna serving as the political authorithy, very often puppets for the most influencial of these elites.

– And finally, there are the Kahuna, the Empire’s clergy, that always project immense authorithy whenever they are.

Kahuna

Matahouroa’s most relevant priestly class, the Kahuna were originally the caste secondary to the nobility, concerning themselves not just with religious duties, but working as the carpenters, merchants, medics, entertainers and generally the operators of civilised society, above the farmers, hunters and the rest of the low workers. Gradually, the population at large began to fill these roles as society shifted from it’s rustic roots to full blown civilisation, and the Kahuna in turn began to focus on their role as mediators between mankind and the gods, as the self entitled guardians of nature and civilisation alike, as well as supervisers and caretakers of morality, traditions, the populace, and above all magic. The Kahuna are some of Matahouroa’s most powerful mages, said to be blessed by the gods and to have acquired sacred knowledge from them. They are highly esoteric and secretive, and just as easily mistrusted as they are awed and venerated by the populace. Once hereditary as a caste, the Kahuna as priestly orders are welcome to any exceptionally talented mage, whereas they are willing or not.

Many orders of Kahuna exist across the Empire, but Hinawahine’s Kahuna are divided into five main orders. Unaligned Kahuna exist, but they are exceptionally rare within the main island and Hiriwa, where the orders have a strict policy of adherence or penalty for “treason”, which more often than not includes either forceful conversion or death. The populace is widely warned to act against unaligned Kahuna, being Tapu to accept their services or offer them hospitality. All orders in theory answer to the Tohunga Ahurewa, the head of the Empire’s clergy. In theory, all orders have the claim to this title, but the Tohunga Ahurewa’s position in Hiruhāramānia has ensured that only the Pūhihi Kahuna have occupied this position for most of the last millenium or so. The other orders for the most part only pay lip service to the Tohunga Ahurewa anyways. The current Tohunga Ahurewa is Raiti of the Pūhihi Kahuna.

While other sapient non-human races have priests and some even work closely with the Kahuna, only humans are considered to be Kahuna.

Pūhihi Kahuna: The largest and most pretigious order, the Pūhihi Kahuna have their headquarters in Hiruhāramānia, with most of the smaller settlements in the Plateau also bearing very important centers of operations, some of which entirely under theocratic rule. They also have large temples and political seats in Karatakara and Hiriwa – though there they are secondary to the Pirita Kahuna and Karetai Kahuna, respectively -, and throught the islands of the Empire, where they are often in charge of healing centers and public religion alike. With their base in Hiruhāramānia and so widespread and popular, they are often considered to be the “official” Kahuna order of the Empire, a claim with Tapu attached. Many feel that the Tohunga Ahurewa has effectively become simply a rank of the Pūhihi Kahuna, unofficially solidifying their superiority, though legally it still remains a title availiable to other Kahuna.

The original distinctive social role of Pūhihi Kahuna was to oversee morality and justice: their stated purpose is to dictate the laws and supervise their enforcement, as well as to arrest and judge the guilty. The military has taken over these fields, but the Pūhihi Kahuna still have the authorithy to intervene when corruption or ill judgement is perceived. They may also colaborate with the military, their battle magic a value asset. Aside from this, the Pūhihi Kahuna also work as the main healers, operating healing centers throught the Empire – though this role has often also been taken by the Pirita Kahuna, and by other Kahuna sporadically -, as well as “proselyters of the Empire”, persuading any peoples encountered in conquests to surrender peacefully and convert to the Empire’s ways. More generally, the Pūhihi Kahuna are the Kahuna that most dutifully fullfill the civic cleric duty, being responsible for religious events and public celebrations, both to honour the gods and to unify the community, though other Kahuna, particularly the Pirita Kahuna, also do this. Whenever new conquests are made, at least one Pūhihi Kahuna is among the colonisers, being considered the most imediately useful of the Kahuna with his/her medical and combat skills.

The symbol of the Pūhihi Kahuna is the sunray, which sums up their original philosophy: rather than the solar sphere itself, it is the light that emanates from it that has importance, the divine emanation that nurtures the world and in turn connects mortals to their deities, carrying their prayers and joy in return. In turn, it’s not the Pūhihi Kahuna that matter, and not even their actions, but their souls’ metaphorical radiance. To this end, they spend a lot of their time on purifying the soul in various methods, a practise no other Kahuna does, the Pūhihi Kahuna being among the few people in Matahouroa with an unambiguous concept of spiritual purity. Nonetheless, the Pūhihi Kahuna have gradually taken the symbolism much more literally, and gradually came to herald Ao, the god of daylight, above the other gods, as their patron and the deity whom their symbol honours, considering Him the source of their power, and the demonstration of their beliefs, a pure being made of beams that connects mankind to the divine realms and to each other.

Once, the Pūhihi Kahuna paid homage to all the celestial gods equally, but gradually their focus shifted on an utterly exclusive servitude of Ao. Even while they pay lip service to most of the pantheon in public ceremonies, they try to subtly influence the populace to have similar henotheistic or monotheistic beliefs, a practise that displeases other Kahuna, which see this as superficial favouritism or outright delusion. The Pūhihi Kahuna believe fervently in a prophecy known as the Aomārama, in which Ao will not just overwhelm darkness and the night, but will also destroy the physical universe with His immense light, aside from the ancestral island of Sawaiki, where the pure souls that survived the purge will dwell for eternity without ever fearing another calamity. This belief is differently interpreted by the Pūhihi Kahuna, from being a literal sequence of events to a metaphor for the soul’s henosis, but regardless it has made them insanely ambitious, trying to prepare all for the Aomārama. The Tohunga Ahurewa, Raiti, feels that the Aomārama is near, and grows progressively more bold, chastising the “Prince” with an open and vicious belligerancy never seen before in the Empire’s history. The more the Pūhihi Kahuna express their desire to see Whēuriuri dead, the more Hiruhāramānia is divided. Tensions are extremely high, very near the point of breaking.

The Pūhihi Kahuna allow any person with talent in white magic to join them, any person desiring to become one simply asking for it. Full initation occurs during sacred occasions, which which a purification ceremony prepares the new member, who is unwittingly mind altered as to make them complacent with the esoteric dogma and ambitions. All Pūhihi Kahuna travel to the Plateau for formal training, usually in the smaller settlements, visiting Hiruhāramānia for ceremonies. All Pūhihi Kahuna stand before the Invoking Moai at least once in their lives, the first moment being considered the moment of the individual’s full realisation within the order. Afterwards, they are relocated anywhere in the Empire, but are free to return to the great city whenever they can afford it.

Karetai Kahuna: With their headquarters on Hiriwa, the Karetai Kahuna are spread across most of the Empire, but absent from the main island of Hinawahine, under laws forced by the Pirita Kahuna; their very presence there is considered Tapu, not helped by the general distrust of the main island’s population. Regardless, they’re widespread across the archipelagos under the Empire, second only to the Pūhihi Kahuna, their naval role being of utmost importance.

The Karetai Kahuna oversee knowledge, communication and the development of civilisation. Hiriwa’s great libraries are maintained by them, and they constantly add new information to these libraries. Their temples are not just libraries in themselves, but also laboratories, where experiments of all kinds are conducted. They work closely with the military, providing naval technology and designing ships, crafting protective enchantments and defensive battle spells and investigating methods of making long sea journeys more confortable. The Karetai Kahuna are also important in regards to communication between islands, shrouding courier birds and ships, as well as oracles. Finally, the Karetai Kahuna protect and safeguard the oceanic waters, rendering bays, entire coastlines and spanses of open water Rāhui. Some with expertise in elemental magic are also used as naval war weapons, while others can be employed as assassins.

Overseeing information and knowledge has predictably made them a double edged sword, controlling the flow of information and erasing it in accordance to not only their agendas, but also of the Empire’s. Controlling the Karetai Kahuna has proved an immense challenge, as not only the Empire sees itself reluctant to dispose of such a useful tool, but also because the Kahuna have mastered techniques to go around Tapu for centuries. As it stands, manipulation by the Karetai Kahuna has been rendered Tapu, continuously strengthened by wards upon wards, to which Noa is applied by the army or the other Kahuna wheen need be. In Hiriwa, the Karetai Kahuna center of power, the more experienced of the clerics can bypass the Tapu, being able to secretly manipulated information both in the libraries – public or private -, and communications.

The Karetai Kahuna have a close relationship with the Parekareka, which extends all the way to the order’s foundation. Indeed, it may be accurate to say that the Karetai Kahuna are basically the human attempt to respond to Hiriwa’s Aven, previously the most civilised race in Matahouroa. The Parekareka work closely with the Karetai Kahuna, aiding them in research and in their overseeing of the seas and information, many making their homes in the temples, living mutually in a shared community. Many believe that the Karetai Kahuna are more loyal to the Parekareka than to the Empire, a paranoia that appears to become more and more justified, the more the Karetai Kahuna’s elders devote themselves to Purūpī’s project.

The Karetai Kahuna bear as their symbol the reflection. Introspection is a complicated subject for the Karetai Kahuna: while it is considered to be of uttermost importance to understand and master oneself in order to affect the outside world, directly analysing the thoughts and emotions is considered counterproductive and ineffective, leading to false conclusions and veiled self righteousness. The Karetai Kahuna have a tradition of staring at their own reflections for meditation, seeking to improve themselves by looking at their own eyes, the true windows to one’s true self. Karetai Kahuna that have examined themselves in this way gradually learn how to scry by gazing upon their reflected images, being able to understand higher knowledge simply by examining the depths of their mind. This is a process that seems almost impossible to describe in words, being only understood by practioners. Many consider the Karetai Kahuna to be the most secular of the Kahuna, due to the few public religious ceremonies they hold – aside from funerary rites, when a Karetai Kahuna is in charge of preparing the “boat” which the soul uses to return to Sawaiki -, but in reality an individualistic, experimental sort of spirituality is a core concept in their philosophy, most of their spellcraft being exceedingly subtle divine invocations.

In Hiriwa, young mages study and train on the complexes adjacent to the libraries, and talented individuals may be selected to join. Otherwise, the Karetai Kahuna take a more proactive approach, youngsters with qualities considered to be necessary being selected and persuaded to join; should they refuse, abduction ocurs, leading to a complicated process of indoctrination that involves careful brainwashing, avoiding to damage the mental qualities required whilst making the recruit serve the order. Elsewhere, recruitment is done in a variety of forms, with the Karetai Kahuna being generally being controlling and/or discriminative in practise.

Ataata Kahuna: The most mistrusted and disliked of the Kahuna, the Ataata Kahuna are ostensibly the smallest of the orders, although this is hard to assess. They are sheldomly officially employed, and in some areas outrightly persecuted. Nonetheless, they hold an important role as the appeasers of the dead, preventing the angry spirits from being a menace to the living, as well as the guardians ofthe world’s shadows and darkness.

Although officially considered an order, the Ataata Kahuna are too individualistic to be an organisation. Each Kahuna has his/her own agendas, goes wherever and does whatever s/he wants. There are no ranks, there are no headquarters: each Ataata Kahuna fends for him/herself. Nonetheless, most Ataata Kahuna feel attached to the Wairepomango, where the power of the Grieving Moai is strongest. This power is attractive to many black mages, but there is a catch: the blessings of the Grieving Moai can only be obtained from it’s tears, zealously guarded by hordes upon hordes of the spirits of the dead, which are ravenous and malicious, quickly dispatching any unprepared mage and spreading diseases across the swamps. Only a few mages manage to go through the spirit horde, and by using the Moai’s power they officially become Ataata Kahuna. Many of these mages are taught by Pango, the Black Taniwha, and thus owe him an oath of loyalty. Pango can thus be said to be the true master of the Ataata Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna in turn are officially the rulers of Koronitiwa, and Wairepomango as a whole, a role which they may choose to withraw from if they so please. The leadership position and thus control over Koronitiwa’s market is frequently and viciously contested among the Ataata Kahuna, centuries upon centuries of former rulers and unsuccessful contestants now lying in the depths of the lagoon. This position is currently held by Pō, a rarely seen person whose interests seem to lie elsewhere, leaving Koronitiwa to be lead by the puppet-Ariki known as Teone Miritene.

The Ataata Kahuna, as powerful black mages travelling the land, have a role in overseeing the spirits of the dead. Other Kahuna have roles in regards to funerary rites, with the Pūhihi Kahuna purifying the dead, the Karetai Kahuna preparing the vessel for them to travel to Sawaiki and the Pirita Kahuna prommoting and appearently causing reincarnation, but not all spirits depart or are reborn. Many lay restless in the shadows of the world, in the domain of Hine-nui-te-pō, and become shades, pooling wherever it is dark. While not necessariy malevolent, the shades often lash at the living out of anger and resentment for various reasons, causing sickness and more direct deaths, and it is the job of the Ataata Kahuna to prevent this. The activities of the Ataata Kahuna limits and pacifies the shades: their very initiation rite further encourages the restless spirits of the Wairepomango to pool around the Grieving Moai instead of stalking the swamps, and soothes their anguish. Gradually, the Ataata Kahuna connect further with these spirits, even growing attached to the dark spirits, sympathising more readily with them than with the living.

The Ataata Kahuna do command the shades to do as they please, most of their magic being based on this spirit control, but instead of simply tools they view the spirits as extensions of themselves. Theirs is a strange form of spirituality, where ambition and desire for power lead to a communion and hollism with the dark forces of nature, just as with all the Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna generally view or grow to view “normal” necromancy as abhorrent, though far too profitable to outright prevent it.

Many an Ataata Kahuna have left Wairepomango to travel around the word, seeking new opportunities elsewhere. They are rarely employed, though many seek their services as mercenaries and assassins, and many also seek them for services other Kahuna cannot provide. Other Kahuna orders respect the order for their role, with the Tahepuia Kahuna being the most sympathetic and the Pūhihi Kahuna at best paying lip service, but very often they too employ the Ataata Kahuna. The current Tohunga Ahurewa has all but stated to have disowned them as true Kahuna, something that has largely been extensively ridiculed by nearly all orders but the Pūhihi Kahuna.

Tahepuia Kahuna: The Tahepuia Kahuna have their sit of power within Rinomaunga’s temple, Tīrarae, and indeed the Tohunga Ahurewa considers these to be the only members of the order. However, throught the Empire, many groups of Kahuna have taken the mantle of Tahepuia Kahuna, something extremely encouraged by the “original” order in Rinomaunga, stressing the foundation of the Kahuna orders by listening to nature and the spirits, and that true Kahuna are born from knowing universal truths, not esoteric dogmas. As such, the Tahepuia Kahuna are distributed across the Empire: wherever there is volcanic activity, there is a temple. Regardless, the Tahepuia Kahuna are free to wander off wherever they want, many travelling around the Empire to satisfy their wanderlusts, usually travelling along vaultlines out of comfort and a sense of safety. Travelling Tahepuia Kahuna are afforded a level of protection, though a priest’s destructive potential and general lack of self control are often the subject of anxiety and extensive precautions.

The Tahepuia Kahuna in the Plateau are heralded as the greatest smiths of Matahouroa, fulfilling the army’s needs for metallurgical products with powerful and extensively refined blades and armours of various metals, crafted by shaping the liquid ores within the lava in the “pools” of Tīrarae, calling them forth into desired shapes. They are also greatly renowed as artists, and frequently commissioned by the wealthy to produce sculptures, either from materials in the liquid rock or from basalt and other already solidified stone. Many non-commissioned artworks are scattered across Rinomaunga, exhibitting the Tahepuia Kahuna’s sense of pride – or simple lack of concern – in showing even drafts and poorly executed pieces, though most of these statues don’t last for long, being consumed by the rivers of molten rock that ooze from the volcanoes sooner or later. What flows from the magma will return to it one day, a “fact” that the Tahepuia Kahuna embrace and cheerish. Outside of Rinomaunga, blades and sculptures are also commissioned, though in lesser scale.

The Tahepuia Kahuna are the least politically involved of the Kahuna, generally preffering avoiding the meddling that other Kahuna engage in. They have no sit of power or management over any area, a fact that other Kahuna are more than happy to enforce just in case. Their policy of non-involvement obviously does not exclude them from civilisation, where they are just as easily respected and awed, their embracing of positive emotions and freedom earning them a reputation as wonderful, magnetic individuals… as well as hedonistic, ammoral and unconcerned with the consequences of their freedom by the Pūhihi Kahuna and mainland Pirita Kahuna. The military occasionally attempts to recruit Tahepuia Kahuna as battlemages, an offer more often than not refused, given the focus on positive emotions for the Tahepuia Kahuna, and incapable of being enforced. The extreme rarity of Tahepuia Kahuna in the military is much applauded by the Pūhihi Kahuna, Raiti claiming that “it’s the only form of decency they have, and the only right by which they can call themselves human, let alone Kahuna”.

The Tahepuia Kahuna have absolutely open membership, any mage interested in their ways being invited to join their temples. They don’t have any stipulations for what they consider a “true member” of their order: as long as a mage listens to and connects with Matahouroa’s liquid rock blood, s/he is a “true” Tahepuia Kahuna. It goes without saying that Tahepuia Kahuna believe the heart and the earth’s whispers to be the foremost drivers, freedom to act as one pleases being the common right of all, though always with a special emphasis on the positive, more fullfilling emotions. The Tahepuia Kahuna are the only Kahuna that do not act in regards to the dead and the afterlife, believing that life and death alike are marked by the individual’s desires, and fundamentally not that different after all.

Pirita Kahuna: The Pirita Kahuna are largely restricted to Hinawahine itself; while a few groups on other islands do consider themselves “Pirita Kahuna”, the mainland ones generally regard them as delusional heretics at best. Nonetheless, the Pirita Kahuna are a rather large group, taking domain of Hinawahine’s vast forests, numbering in thousands. Their sit of power in the civilised world is Karatakara, where their “offficial” headquarters lie, the massive, vine covered temple known as Ponamuhoro. However, their true base is Kūkupaurupuia, a massive natural fortress located on the montane forests in the highlands west to the Plateau, near the location of the Murmuring Moai. Kūkupaurupuia is composed of several trees intertwined together, their branches connected together to form chambers and rooms, the center being an enormous Kauri tree. Recruits are found/join in Karatakara, and exact oaths of loyalty to the order and it’s secrets, before departing to Kūkupaurupuia for formal training.

The Pirita Kahuna originally started mostly as simple rustic priests, helping farmers to grow their crops, warding off pests and enemies, prommoting favourable weather and fullfilling the normal duties as healers and overseers of religious events and traditions. While they regionally still fullfill these roles in Hinawahine’s lowland settlements – and indeed, the Kahuna who claim the moniker of Pirita Kahuna outside of Hinawahine still act exactly as this, having no consistent organisation to speak off -, the order as a whole has become a more secretive and esoteric organisation, moving away from civilisation except from Karatakara, where their political center of power lies, becoming something of a double faced order: on one side, they’re the guardians of the wilds, tending to Hinawahine’s forests and rendering them and many of their flora and fauna Rāhui, while on the other they’re an elitistic political organisation claiming to preserve tradition and help manage the lowland settlements, controlling the “morally bankrupt” tendencies of the local ruling bodies and the integrity of the markets. In Karatakara, they’re more regularly and relevantly responsible for public religious services than the Pūhihi Kahuna, and are widely respected as the city’s moral center, but many suspect them of dark ambitions and conspiracy plots, conclusions that are not that far from the truth, as they subtly manipulate the local council for their own ends.

The Pirita Kahuna originally held a notion of simplicity as their core value, refraining from material goods if they interfere with their duty to the community and nature. They still at least technically subscribe to this ideology, refraining entirely from material possessions beyond instruments to channel their power, but in Hinawahine their duty has transfered to their order and it’s agendas almost exclusively. They are the overseers of the wilds, Hinawahine’s true voice; they believe themselves to follow the desires of Tāne, god of the forests and inspirer of the very existence of the Pirita Kahuna. The people’s common insterest is served by obeying to the divine will, and that goes without saying for nature’s well being. Kahuna that act in behalf of nature but to not devote themselves to this path are believed to be deaf to the murmurs of Tāne, and thus a mockery to the principles of the order. Renegade Pirita Kahuna, if not dead or defeated by breaking the Tapu of “disloyalty”, are hunted down and killed, their corpses desacrated in horrific ways.

The mainland Pirita Kahuna differ from both most other Kahuna and Hinawahine’s peoples in regards to their views of the afterlife. They believe that Sawaiki is forever out of mankind’s reach, and that Hinawahine, Tāne’s domain, should be mankind’s future residence. To this end, they enforce the reincarnation of the soul into people, animals or other races alike, preventing it from ever leaving to Sawaiki. They do this in a variety of methods, most blatantly by taking charge of funerary rite in many areas just as Karatakara. This rites are disguised as purification-of-the-body rites, but in reality they work to bind the soul to Hinawahine, preventing it from finding solace until reincarnating. Pirita Kahuna elsewhere also believe in reincarnation to be the best option, but generally simply guide and help spirits into this process.

Predictably, the “true” Pirita Kahuna also see any communities outside of Hinawahine as inherently blasphemous, a fact that they don’t bother to hide much…

****

Non-Human Races

Besides humanity, several other sapient races live in Matahouroa, and many non-sapient monsters. All these races have been the original inhabittants of Hinawahine and the other islands of the Empire, their interactions with humanity having evolved into cultural integration and ifluence, or vicious enemity.

Aven

Matahouroa’s islands are inhabitted by various bird races, whose history extends to immemorial times, thought to have flown in from faraway lands in the global oceans. Most of these have quickly adapted to the spread of the Empire, while others have become bitter enemies, or have preffered to cut off their ties altogether. A few have also seemingly gone extinct, a reminder that even the effords in the memory of Sawaiki don’t aways prevent exploitation and wars.

Pouakai: The Pouakai are Matahouroa’s enormous, robust eagle-like Aven, native to Hinawahine. With wingspans reaching as much as 5 meters and robust musculature and claws, they are naturally forces to be reconned with, being able to overwhelm large prey physically, subsisting of wild game they hunt in the wilderness such as moas. Theirs is a rather simple society, living in egalitarian groups that gather in their strongholds like Kōmarumaunga, usually with no ranks stratifying their society.

In times long by, the Pouakai had affable relationships with Hinawahine’s peoples, and still do hold an oath of peace to the Parāone inhabittants, but they have become vicious enemies of the Empire. Immensely destructive wars were waged in the past, the scars of these battles still adorning the Plateau and it’s mountains. 2000 years ago, they almost ended civilisation, their armies at their peak and led by the infamous figure known as Te Hokioi, ravaging the Plateau and laying waste to Hiruhāramānia. Nonetheless, Māui managed to defeat Te Hokioi, and the Pouakai armies were driven off. For two millenia that the eagle Aven have remained fairly low key, mostly focused in their ancient residence that is Kōmarumaunga, though wandering off across the Empire’s lands, laying their vicious and destructive justice wherever they go. Generally regarded as wandering monsters, the Pouakai have been gathering in larger and larger numbers in their ancient mountain, forming an army that is steadily growing in number.

Pouakai are coloured in golden or brown feathers, often with reddish head crests and white and black wings, and are generally adorned with gold armour that is made from Kōmarumaunga’s liquid metal lake. Without social ranks but that of a common leader – thought to be unoccupied for two millenia, since the defeat of Te Hokioi -, the Pouakai live in an ordered society where coordination is basically instinctive, and largely helped by it’s relative simplicity. Pouakai build immensely adorned and elegant, but structurally simple buildings, housing individual pairings; they are largely simply for the sake of resting and practising religious ceremonies, and are built to specifically never allow much privacy, as secrecy is at best frowned upon by the Pouakai. Worship is directed towards the celestial gods, with Ao having particular promenience outside of public ceremonies and festivities. Like humans, Pouakai hold a strong sense of Tapu, though they believe that there is always an urgent need to physically and bruttaly enforce the violation of all Tapu, as opposed to the diverse and nuanced views humanity has on the matter.

The Aven form pairings, established through “marriages” out of common affection, that can potentially last for a life time, but very often don’t: challenging an individual for his/her mate is common in Pouakai society, and if accepted the challenger and the challenged fight to the death. If the challenger wins, s/he replaces the dead Pouakai as the new mate, and the former mate is given an honourable funeral, his/her body deposited in Kōmarumaunga’s gold lake. The one or two eggs and the subsequent chicks are raised by the couple, regardless of whereas the biological parent has been replaced – the Pouakai don’t consider blood relationships to be important for a family -, and then by the community as soon as down begins to be replaced by adult feathers; the same applies if one of the parents is dead, though given the general tendency for the dead spouse to be replaced this is not a necessariy common occurence.

Nearly all Pouakai magic is either oriented towards combat, empowering themselves or dealing severe damage to the opponent, or oriented towards healing. The former is inherent to the race as a whole, each individual Pouakai gradually specialising in various different forms of battlemagic, while the latter is learned by choice, often by consulting the gods during religious ceremonies. Divine inspiration is considered to be the primary drive for becoming a healer, and thus it’s considered a more refined type of magic.

Parekareka: The Parekareka are cormorant-like Aven native to Hiriwa, distinguished from their cousins, the Kawau, by their bright white feathers forming lines from the head to the chest along the neck, as well as their bright blue or green naked faces, and their strange double crests. For the longest time, they were Matahouroa’s most advanced race until the Empire colonised Hiriwa, in which they freely surrendered and offered to share their technology and knowledge. Currently, they are widespread across Matahouroa’s archipelagos, though still favouring their homeland; due to the extremely hatred expressed by the mainland Pirita Kahuna, as well as ther own self-inflicted conflict with the Kawau, the Parekareka are afforded extensive protection when in Hinawahine’s main island.

Originally coastoal fishers, most Parekareka nowadays preffer a more civilised lifestyle, working as researchers and information managers, more often than not in conjunction with the Karetai Kahuna. Many Parekareka inhabit Karetai Kahuna temples, and basically live as higher ranking members of the priestly class. It is generally thought that the Parekareka shaped the order into it’s current state, influencing it’s politics, practises and overall development. Even their emphasis on the reflection is an aspect of Parekareka philosophy. Many consider the Karetai Kahuna the attempt of the Parekareka to establish political control on the Empire, a semi-successful attempt as the Karetai Kahuna basically run Hiriwa in all but officiality – and the military. Regardless, the Parekareka are favourable towards their Karetai Kahuna peers, enjoying the intellectual sympathy. Gradually, several Parekareka came to favour the Pūhihi Kahuna instead, admiring their moral zeal and communitary instinct.

The Parekareka have a more stratified society than most Aven, though these ranks mostly simply work to organise procedures, more analogous to the rank and file within an hospital rather than social castes. These ranks are flexible, disbanded and [re]formed whenever the Parekareka as a whole feel that such is necessary, being generally democratically discussed; Parekareka society is generally meritocratic, rewarding inovators and deligent workers. The top of the Parekareka hierarchy is currently occupied by Purūpī, which has risen to the top through both several scientific discoveries as well as his diplomatic work. Currently, he has began a massive aetheromantic project, to which both the Parekareka and the Karetai Kahuna are intensely devoted, a rather secretive project that has raised the mistrust of the military.

The Parekareka share a common ancestry with the Kawau, a poorly understood origin that has been interpreted in a variety of ways, the majority of the Parekareka believing the Kawau as a stray population that colonised Hinawahine long ago. At any rate, the Parekareka have a common disdain of the Kawau, viewing them at best as crude and degenerate, and as abominations worthy of murder at worst. Parekareka have on occasion launched genocidal campaigns against their Wairepomangu cousins, creating a perpetual atmosphere and distrust and mutual hatred between both races.

Kawau: The Kawau are another group of cormorant-like Aven, distinguished by their black feathers, yellow face and throat patches and green/blue eyes. They dwell almost exclusively on the Wairepomangu, though some sporadically travel the world. Frequently assaulting naval vessels that pass throught the swamp, as well as Koronitiwa, they are often considered a nuisance, but the more skilled of the Kawau can be exceptionally dangerous, surpassed only by the Ataata Kahuna in terms of skill with the swamp’s darker magics. While a few do draw contracts with Pango in order to have acess to the Grieving Moai, many more draw quicker, but more perilous contracts with other entities in the swamps. Kawau are as a whole mostly specialised in necromancy, ressurecting the dead as their armies and using body parts to power their magics, but millenia of different techniques have allowed a pretty diverse range of magical practises, from umbramancy to potion brewing.

Compared to the rest of Matahouroa’s Aven, the Kawau are pretty individualistic, preffering a solitary existence when not forming bandit gangs; they don’t have a solidified culture to speak off, pretty much doing whatever they feel like doing. Many exploit abandoned houses or wrecked ships to form their homes, though most make tree houses on Wairepomango’s canopy. Kawau originally fished on the murky waters, and are still good swimmers and divers, but they now preffer to steal or buy their food; a few also eat human carcasses, but most preffer to not do so, as their stomachs are poorly equipped for rotten flesh, and many a Kawau would rather preffer to apply it in necromantic work.

In spite of their solitary tendencies, Kawau are, like all Aven, generally monogamous, and seek a partner. The disconnect between their self centered tendencies and these romantic cravings is legendary, having originated several local expressions for contradictions and dichotomies, as well as euphemisms for domestic abuse. Alas, most Kawau pairings are brief relationships, but some couples manage to last until death departs them. A Kawau has no obligation towards his or her eggs and chicks, and abandonment is not unknown. Regardless of whereas a Kawau decides to raise the young, the siblings have instinctual hatred towards each other, and will try to murder one another at any present opportunity, and generally only one manages to survive to adulthood.

Kākāriki: Kākāriki are the smallest of the Aven, with a wingspan of around two meters. They resemble parakeets with green feathers and a red forehead, often with yellow areas sparsely across the body. Native to Inanga and Hinawahine, they have since spread across Matahouroa’s archipelagos; wherever there is a forest, a Kākāriki colony is almost certain to be there as well. The Kākāriki form their homes in the forest canopies, forming treehouse villages crafted carefully as to not distrupt the trees’ growth; some of the more experienced crafters build tree houses from the trees themselves, creating shelters by intertwining tree branches and by expanding natural tree holes into vast chambers. A few groups also live in savannahs and other plains, still building their homes in trees: in these cases, individual trees are enlarged and have their growth affected into forming formidable fortresses.

Largely peaceful, the Kākāriki have a policy of neutrality – though they are rather altruistic, and lend a hand to people lost in their lands -, only interacting regularly with the peoples of Parāone – some having integrated into their society -, non-mainland “Pirita Kahuna” and the Tahepuia Kahuna, though they commune often with non-human races like the Patupairehe and the Hoiho. In turn, the Empire as a whole turns to them a blind eye, though their reputation and free spirited trickesters is the subject of much cultural fascination and depictions in storytelling. The mainland Pirita Kahuna have an extreme hatred for the Kākāriki, having a policy attacking and murdering them on sight. The Aven take this threat rather lightly, though nonetheless all Kākāriki go through extensive self defense training in case of Pirita Kahuna attacks.

The Kākāriki specialise mostly in plant magic, their natural affinity for nectars and sap having converted into an extensive knowledge of brewing potions, and their tree dwelling lifestyle having converted into biomantic carpentry. They gladly share this knowledge who whoever is friendly to them, and indeed the medicinal knowledge acquired by non-mainland Pirita Kahuna has saved many lives.

Hoiho: The Hoiho are [naturally] flightless, yellow-eyed penguin like Aven native to the island of Inanga, once widespread in Hinawahine’s coastoal forests, including Hiriwa, but now gone from these areas. A rather secretive society, the Hoiho make their homes in the dense forests of the island, only leaving to fish in the sea. They are thought to largely live in small communities, raising the young communally and tending to the ancient groves. Inanga’s “Pirita Kahuna” and the Kākāriki interact with them on a daily basis, forming a sort of secretive community excluding the rest of Matahouroa. The Parekareka in particular have some interest in the Hoiho, with Purūpī attemping desesperately to recruit their aid, something that so far they have declined.

Other Races

Manaia: The Manaia are Matahouroa’s merfolk, their lower bodies those of seahorses and their mouths with a distinctive beak instead of teeth, akin to that of parrotfish, hidden by the lips. Their civilisation extends all over the plane, spread beneath the waves, but the sea around Hiriwa is an important location for the Manaia, drawn to the Scolding Moai’s power. While they have public good relations with the Empire and the Parekareka, the secret of the Scolding Moai is kept from them, something not helped by Purū’s rather cryptic presence. As such, the Manaia have taken this into their own hands, trying to manipulate their way into the Scolding Moai.

Manaia society can best be described as a self indulgent, constantly back stabbing aristocracy, served by octupus like servants known as the Wheke. Although very similar to the cephalids of other planes, they are non-sapient, being basically like a mixture between a pet and a slave, living to tend the Manaia’s every need. The Wheke’s dutiful servitude is only one example the Manaia’s extensively biomantic society, warping sea life like corals into forming their underwater cities. The Manaia constantly inovate their realm, creating progressively more bizarre organisms that are basically their tools.

Tipua: The swamps of Wairepomango are inhabitted by strange creatures of various types, most of them being labelled as “Tipua”. True Tipua are however Matahouroa’s demons, born from the immense concentrations of swamp mana in Wairepomango. Most of these demons are bestial creatures, barely humanoid and more like animalistic horrors, bearing immense wings, leather-like skin and sharp fangs and claws, while others are more abstract beings of shadow with gnashing maws and talons emerging randomly, and others yet are utterly horrific distortions of familiar body plans, erupting suddenly into masses of fleshy tentacles and misplaced body parts, often from past victims. Most Tipua are basically malicious predators, stalking the swamps for prey they don’t need to consume, and suddenly and violently destroying and absorbing their prey’s flesh and soul. Some, however, have acquired a dark intelligence over the centuries, and tempt Kawau and humans alike with promises of power, always granted but with an immense price, and often very fatal.
Pango, Wairepomango’s Taniwha, hunts down and kills the Tipua, who live in perpetual fear of the beast, a delicious irony apreciated by many who live in the swamps. Several Tipua escape Wairepomango, however, invading Hinawahine’s lowlands and sometimes even flying or swimming their way to other islands or are even born in less notorious wetlands, where their cruelty can go unchecked, spreading diseases as they please. Hunting down these Tipua becomes thus the ask of the Taniwha and Kahuna in the vicinity, many elaborate rituals having developed over the centuries to ward off the demons and call forth the attention their killers.

Patupaiarehe: The Patupaiarehe inhabit the forests of Hinawahine, particularly the forests that border the Plateau. They strongly resemble the elves from other planes, being lithe, sharp-eared and agile, though with pale white skin and bright red hair. Their history is long lost to time, and some believe them to be the descendents of the passengers of another of the five Hōkūleʻa that came from Sawaiki, though the Patupairehe maintain that they are the oldest inhabittants of Sawaiki. Regardless, most Patupaiarehe avoid contact with humanity, except for those that interact with Rinomaunga’s Tahepuia Kahuna, and those that live in the mountain slopes near Katakara, who feel that the city has stolen their land, and thus have a long history of conflicts and assaults. In recent years, the outright fighting has become more rare, yet more violent whenever it occurs. Occasionally, some Patupaiarehe lure people into the woods with their flutes, and blocking one’s ears is said to be of utmost importance when travelling alone in montane forests.

The Patupaiarehe live in small tribes, generally governed by a council of shamans, without any stratification below them. Music is an important aspect of Patupaiarehe culture, their favoured instruments being flutes, and it is through music that their magic is weaved; the greatest way to find sympathy from a Patupaiarehe is to offer him/her an exquisite instrument. While definitely not hesitant in using violent force, Patupaiarehe stress the value of trickery and humiliating the opponent before applying violence, finding it to be more effective than raw strength. In spite of their conflicts, Patupairehe do have a strong value for hospitality, and will provide for lost wanderers that aren’t part of their grudges.

Taika: Large, anthropomorphic thylacines, there are three main groups of Taika: the Pīngao Taika, that inhabit the Parāone, the Hāura Taika, that inhabit the mountain ranges in the north and west of the Plateau, and the Ware Taika, living south of the Ingikiwai, with several, lesser known groups living in between. It is thought that the Taika once had a unified control of the island, but gradually lost it or gave it away to the Empire.

Taika culture differs greatly between the individual groups, though a few traits do remain consistent. The Pīngao Taika have largely been incorporated into Parāone’s human society, living as normal citizens in their settlements. The Hāura Taika, on the other hand, interact agressively with the Empire, raiding the smaller settlements on occasion, and on occasion attacking the Patupaiarehe. The Hāura Taika is similar in some respects to that of the Pouakai, a warlike people that subsists primarily by hunting, though led by an “alpha”. These alpine Taika don’t see eye to eye with the Aven, however, both competing for resources and finding the other a mockery of their culture, solely not at open conflict because of their common enemity for the Empire. Meanwhile, the Ware Taika have a primal, matriarchical, shamanistic society, avoiding contact with all other races, reminiscing of times long gone.

All these societies have very similar traditions, preserved in spite of the isolation. All three Taika societies place an emphasis on a sense of morality independent from Tapu, to know what is intrinsically right and wrong by heart rather than enforced rules, though obviously this is expressed by vastly different philosophies, with the Pīngao Taika taking a humanistic approach, the Hāura Taika violently retaliating against offenders in a way no better than those who enforce Tapu, and the Ware Taika meditating and listening to the spirits. Regardless, all share the common trait of being the only sapient race on Matahouroa unaffected entirely by Tapu.

“Dragons”/”Drakes”: There are two types of draconic beings in Matahouroa:

– The Tama-nui-te-Whiro, or simply Whirotātea, are the more common draconic beings seen in most planes, being wild beasts that dwell in the mountains. They resemble giant tuataras with massive bat-like wings for forelimbs, breathing fire and noxious gases, which can reach a wingspan of seven meters. Most of these beasts can be found in Rinomaunga, but they also occur sporadically in volcanic areas outside of Hinawahine. With slow breeding rates – taking ten years to reach sexual maturity, and laying eggs that take an year to hatch – and unarmoured skin, they are generally content with remaining in the relative safety of the mountaintops, but every once in a while one descends to the lowlands, wrecking and burning everything in it’s path in search of prey, which can often be humans. The Tahepuia Kahuna have a particular endearment for these dragons, occasionally taming them as familiars, and indeed the Tama-nui-te-Whiro are a common motiff in the sculptures made by the Kahuna.

– The Taniwha are considered draconic beings, but they are spiritual creatures, more akin to minor deities; they can and do reproduce, laying pearl like eggs that incubate whenever the young feel like hatching and assuming their duty, and although they are immortal to old age they can be killed, although doing so is not only very difficult to do, but also extreme Tapu, almost sure to result in death. Resembling mosasaurs, the Taniwha are aquatic beings, bound to lakes and rivers which they protect, or roaming the seas, aiding or attacking seafarers and mariners. Some also fly, having traded the sea for the sky, ruling over rainwater and storms, and manifesting large, wing-like flippers. Countless Taniwha exist all over the world, but there are five main Taniwha that protect the holy locations of the Moai:

Kiwitea: Protector of the Plateau, Kiwitea dwells in the Kapongatakere river, blessing and purifying it’s waters, and rising in powerful waves when the Plateau is threatened by outsiders. Adorned with pearly, shining scales, Kiwitea once crossed the river every night, illuminating it like an underwater Sun, but in recent memory he has seldomly done this, spending more and more of his time hidden within the underground lakes beneath Hiruhāramānia. Throughout most of Hinawahine’s history, Kiwitea served as a messenger for Ka-moho-ali’i, the Pūhihi Kahuna and even commoners descending to the river’s shores and communing with the Taniwha in a variety of ways, but as time went by the Pūhihi Kahuna rejected Ka-moho-ali’i, and while many citizens still venerate the shark god, Hiruhāramānia’s Kahuna have successfully made the possibility of speaking with Kiwitea forgotten. Nonetheless, the monarch and the Tohunga Ahurewa, and a few other people, still descend to the caverns to speak to the ancient being.
Kiwitea, historically remarked as a calm, radiant presence, is described by the few who interact with him on a daily basis as melancholic and austere. In recent years, he has warned of a coming threat, which he won’t fight against.

Purū: Purū dwells in the seas around Hiriwa, supposedly guarding them. She is very rarely seen, spending most of her time in the ocean depths, between the coastoal coral reefs and the abyssal realms. Not even the Manaia see her frequently, Purū’s presence being exceptionally subtle, her normally cobalt scales reflecting and allowing light to pass through in a myriad of ways in order to make her invisible. It is said indeed that Purū has very ittle interest in fulfilling her duty, though on the rare occasions in which Hiriwa is attacked she manifests immensely powerful sea storms and sends hordes of marine monsters.
The Karetai Kahuna, Parekareka and many other Hiriwa mages summon her on occasion, communicating with her via divination. Her answers are usually very cryptic and bizarrely structured, creating riddles that even the most experienced mages have immense trouble deciphering, testing thus the intelligence and worthiness of anyone who bothers to call upon her. Those who do successfully solve her riddles are rewarded handsomely for their trouble, not only acquiring the desired knowledge, but arcane secrets desired in even a subconscious level.

Pango: Guardian of the Wairepomango, Pango is a sinister presence that is rarely seen, but frequently felt. With pitch dark scales, he is hidden in the depths of the swamp, only his milky white eyes betraying his enormous bulk. Pango faithfully does his job, hunting down swamp monsters such as the Tipua and other enemies of Koronitiwa, stalking them in the murky waters silently, before suddenly striking and crushing them with his jaws. However, he also serves another purpose, to protect and grant access to the Grieving Moai. To this end, he seduces mages with whispers of power, tempting them to make contracts with him. These contracts are often rather twisted and potentially rather cruel, but Pango does keep his word, and rewards the mages with the secret of how to bypass the ravenous hordes that protect the Grieving Moai. These mages become the Ataata Kahuna, who are at Pango’s ultimate mercy due to the strength of these contracts. Nonetheless, Pango does occasionally absolve a contract if it grows bored with that person.

Hīwera: One of the few non-aquatic Taniwha, Hīwera dwells in the magma in Rinomaunga, surfacing when volcanic eruptions create rivers of lava upon the landscape, allowing the Taniwha the liberty to swim around and lay destruction until the magma cools and Hīwera melts her way through the rocks down to the magma plume. She also frequently appears in the lava pool in Tīrarae, conversing with the Tahepuia Kahuna and often inspiring them to craft incredible artworks, aiding them in the purification of the metals from the lava. In turn, she claims most of these works in due time, devouring the statues left littered in Rinomaunga. What from Hīwera’s realms emerges to her always return, and it is said that one day she will reclaim all the blades, armours and sculptures commissoned by the Empire.

Occasionally, Hīwera leaves Rinomaunga, travelling to other mountains. The Taniwha has frequently shown up in Kōmarumaunga, riding the liquid gold eruptions that flow down the slopes, and on other occasions still she has travelled across vaultines into other islands, inspiring the Tahepuia Kahuna there. Her presence and same treatment of these Kahuna is considered to be the living proof that they are indeed Tahepuia Kahuna, a fact that the Pūhihi Kahuna and the Pirita Kahuna have taken extreme dislike to, reffering to her as “the undutiful Taniwha” and “worthy of death”.

Torouka: The Ingikiwai river is the home of the Taniwha known as Torouka, protecting the mighty river from it’s source to it’s mouth in the Wairepomango. Torouka prevents monsters from Wairepomango from swimming upriver, oversees the passing vessels, and exercises the life giving properties of Ingikiwai, blessing crops and providing healing knowledge to those that seek it; he also manipulates the natural cycles along the river’s shores, speeding up the arrival of nurturing rains and guiding the spirits of the dead in the cycle of reincarnation or departure. In turn, it’s a tradition by all in the vicinity of the river, from farmers to Karatakara’s high merchants, to offer sacrifices to the Taniwha, usually in the form of food, though the esmerald-scaled beast will accept anything given honestly. Usually easy to please and rather nurturing, Torouka has been growing restless and more temperamental in recent years, something that the Pirita Kahuna have observed with interest.

***

Moai

When mankind arrived to Hinawahine, it built five great statues, to celebrate their own homeland and to establish holy places where the realm of the gods would be closest to mankind. These statues, the five Moai, have dotted on Matahouroa places where the power of the divine realms flows through, creating immense pools of mana widely sought after by just about any mage on the plane – and visiting planeswalkers. The individual Kahuna orders have their main headquarters placed in the vicinity of these Moai, and the five great Taniwha wander the territories around them, tending and protecting these sacred statues.

The Invoking Moai: Located in Hiruhāramānia, the Invoking Moai’s loction has been progressively more elevated as the city grew, and now it is located in the royal shrine at the center of the Palace, where it is regularly visited and tended by the Pūhihi Kahuna and the monarch; during more or less all relevant public ceremonies, the citizenry is allowed access to the Invoking Moai, and the gravely ill are brought to it regardless. The Invoking Moai is made of pristine alabaster, with it’s eyes made of gold, constantly radiating a white light from them, which can cure most illnesses. It is set on an expression of awe, and indeed it stands as the mediator between mankind and the celestial gods, which are said to speak through the Invoking Moai. A series of marble plates lay before the Moai, on which are written messages from the gods, normally taken to be divine law, though frequently manipulated by the Pūhihi Kahuna. Meditating before the Invoking Moai is said to open the mind to the gods, and indeed the Pūhihi Kahuna use it to establish a permanent connection to Ao, blocking out other divine influences.

The Scolding Moai: The only Moai outside of the main island of Hinawahine, the Scolding Moai is a bit of a mystery in regards to it’s origins, though it is thought to have been built by now extinct tribes that lived on the island. Made of a light grey, almost metallic looking rock, the Scolding Moai is located in the bay of Tapukokoru, a bay that stretches well inland into the center of Hiriwa. It’s waters are calm, with only the slightliest of undulation, tinged with a bright cyan glue, thought to come from the minerals in the Moai’s rocks. The Scolding Moai’s existence is well known, but it’s precise location is kept as a secret, ensuring that only the Parekareka and the Karetai Kahuna have access to it. The Moai’s name come from it’s rather austere fixed expression, and those who tend to it and use it’s power claim that they feel as if reprimanded, scolded for not living up to their potential, driving them forward to do so.

The Grieving Moai: Rising from the Wairepomango at the center of Koronitiwa, the Grieving Moai is made from what appears to be lead, with a fixed expression of heartwrenching sadness, crying black tears that add up to the swamp waters. These tears are often thought to be noxious contamination, but in reality they are simply pure black mana, which diffuses in the Wairepomango waters. For obvious reasons, many seek these tears, but between them and the Moai there are hordes of ravenous shades and other spirits that attack anyone who dares approaching, and add his/her disembodied soul to their own. Only those who learn from Pango can bypass these spisirts and use the tears, humans who do so being instantly declared Ataata Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna tend to this Moai, describing the feeling as provoking severe depression, but strongly empowering their magics.

The Chanting Moai: The Chanting Moai rises from the lava at Tīrarae, standing right beneath it’s pyramidal roof’s center. It is fixed on a cheerishing, happy expression, and the Tahepuia Kahuna who tend to it claim that it prommotes happiness and other positive emotions, expressing themselves as excited hymns and powerful songs. Its chanting is said to inspire great sculptures and other artworks, encouraging the Tahepuia Kahuna to express their joyful and carefree lives to the fullest, overwhelming sadness and frustration. In return, the Tahepuia Kahuna through offerings to the lava, usually sculptures they have crafted from other things like wood and bone. Unlike most Moai, whose sphere of influence, while wide reaching, is ultimately tied down to their location, the Chanting Moai is said to be felt and heard in all volcanic areas aside from Kōmarumaunga, influencing the Tahepuia Kahuna everwhere where there is techtonic activity. The Tahepuia Kahuna maintain that the same applies to all Moai, something considered by members of the other orders, but generally not expressed aside from non-mainland Pirita Kahuna.

The Murmuring Moai: Located in the source of the Ingikiwai, the Murmuring Moai, like the Scolding Moai, also has it’s location a secret, violently enforced by the Pirita Kahuna. Many do feel it’s influence, however, and often climb the river to try to commune with it, listening to it’s whispers. They are usually hunted down and viciously murdered by the Pirita Kahuna, though many consider the risk worth it. The Murmuring Moai is set on an expression of bliss, yet of a barely discernible worry, said to whisper urgent advice. The Pirita Kahuna commune with this Moai, learning the meaning behind these whispers, and delibaterely ignoring it. They consider the urgency behind the Moai’s whispers to be a necessary evil, and indeed the final test of loyalty for the mainland Pirita Kahuna is to test whereas the new recruits obey the order or follow the Murmuring Moai’s pleas. If the latter, they are treated even worse than the people who follow the river.

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