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|First of the Sun
|Sixth of the Dusk
Trappers are ethnically Eelakin. They are exclusively male, with the (possibly apocryphal) exception of Yaalani the Brave. They are highly specialized at living alone in the jungle, and generally shun civilization. There are a few hundred working trappers, and they are the only people who breed magical birds known as Aviar.
From a young age, trappers are trained by an older mentor in the many skills necessary for surviving and succeeding in the Pantheon. Their training occurs on Sori, the least dangerous of the islands. The Pantheon has no settlements, and trappers must learn to be completely self-sufficient, providing their own food, water, and shelter. They gain encyclopedic knowledge of the deadly flora and fauna on the islands and how to avoid being killed. They also become highly skilled at tracking, detecting and laying traps, and breeding Aviar. They also maintain the ancient Eelakin skill of wayfinding, and are able to travel for weeks by outrigger canoe. The mentor may bring the younger trapper to another island of the Pantheon as their skills advance. Upon completion of their training, the trapper selects one of the other islands, on which they will hunt exclusively for the rest of their lives.
Communion with the Islands
”This is your fault, Patji. We are your priests, and yet you hate us! You hate all.
Trappers consider the Pantheon sacred ground, and they serve as the priests of the islands. Once they choose a particular island to work on, they rarely visit other islands. They perceive a distinct "personality" in each of the islands; Dusk addresses Patji both aloud and in his thoughts as if he is talking to a person. They also pray and burn offerings to their chosen island. All trappers retain a connection to Sori, where they were trained; they may sometimes burn offerings to Sori, and are always welcome there.
The first trappers left the homeisles for the Pantheon "centuries" ago. They presumably experienced some initial failures, but eventually came to live on most, if not all, of the forty-plus islands of the Pantheon.
Trappers live an exceptionally solitary lifestyle, and commonly go weeks without speaking. Trappers on the same island maintain an aloof rivalry with one another. There are usually only a few trappers working on a given island at any time, and they very rarely see each other, preferring to stake out separate territories. They simply ignore one another in a direct encounter, but they will lay traps in an attempt to eliminate their competition, for reasons that even they do not fully understand.
”Why do homeislers feel the need to speak when there is nothing to say?
Trappers are fully aware that they are in danger of death at all times while in the Pantheon. They always keep a small notebook on their person detailing the locations of their safecamps, traps, and Aviar for another passing trapper to find should they die unexpectedly. A rival will always find and care for a fallen trapper's Aviar, even if it was the rival's trap that killed him.
When trappers visit the homeisles, they feel like outsiders among their own people. The scents and sounds of civilization are foreign to them. They believe that homeislers talk far too much and stand too close together, and do not like how they often conceal their true emotions. Trappers do not understand the need for scholarship and industrialization. Similarly, the homeislers have misconceptions about trappers and the way they live, considering them eccentric and nearly animalistic. The council of chiefs who govern the homeisles seem to historically have had a nonintervention policy with trappers, although the desire to sell more Aviar eventually inspired a change in their stance.
Early trappers wore simple wraps and sandals and carried primitive weapons such as clubs. Although the basic role of trappers has not changed over the generations, they are not afraid to take advantage of new technology. Modern trappers use rugged clothing and steel machetes, as well as backpacks and other survival equipment. After the arrival of the Ones Above, trappers even began using new innovations like diving masks, compasses, and sea charts. Trappers travel to the homeisles or even the mainland in order to purchase supplies and equipment.
Trappers usually maintain several safecamps around their chosen island as living quarters, each of which are heavily booby-trapped to keep rival trappers or other interlopers at bay. Safecamps are usually small treehouses with netted windows, equipped with lanterns, blankets, and cooking utensils. They are sealed as tightly as possible to prevent animals from getting inside, but they cannot keep insects and arachnids out. Aviar boxes are also located in one or more of each trapper's safecamps.
Perhaps the most important knowledge that a trapper possesses is the ability to trap and breed Aviar. They are well versed in Aviar behavior and anatomy, and they raise the birds in their safecamps from the time that they are chicks. Aviar raised by humans become accustomed to their presence, and will return to their nesting boxes even though they usually have the freedom to come and go as they please. The Aviar are raised in nesting pairs and the trapper tends to their chicks when they hatch. Trappers also seek wild chicks, but doing so is far less efficient than breeding them.
”It was a thing that trappers knew. You could not capture a bird before it had visited Patji. Otherwise it would be able to bestow no talent.
Trappers are the only people that understand the source of "talents", or supernatural powers, that can be granted by Aviar. They are familiar with Patji's Eye, although they almost never visit it themselves and are likely unaware of its true nature. Information regarding Aviar talents and Patji's Fingers are closely held secrets among trappers.
Trappers also have the unique capability to form bonds with multiple Aviar companions instead of just one. They consider all of their Aviar special, but their companions grant them talents and travel with them nearly everywhere they go; an Aviar with mental shielding abilities such as Kokerlii is nearly indispensable due to the many predators in the Pantheon than can read minds. Additional Aviar can grant other magical talents that help the trapper survive. Trappers become highly familiar with the personalities of their companions, and can train them to perform certain tasks.
Aviar also serve as the sole source of income for trappers. They bring chicks to market in the homeisles or the mainland. Because of the danger of the Pantheon and the relatively low number of trappers, Aviar chicks have historically been very expensive. However, technological innovations largely sourced from the Ones Above have allowed more chicks to make it to market, reducing their price even as demand has increased. Mercantile concerns such as the Northern Interests Trading Company have sought to establish a presence in the Pantheon to try and capture Aviar themselves, despite warnings from trappers.
|Sixth of the Dusk (First of the Sun)
|Sixth of the Dusk · Vathi · First of the Sky
|Pantheon (Patji · Sori) · Eelakin Islands · Mainland
|Patji · Aviar (Sak · Kokerlii) · Patji's Eye
|Northern Interests Trading Company · Ones Above