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The Twenty

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Thought I'd post a little worldbuilding tidbit here, if anyone wants to read it. This the myth that explains how the acitan became sapient. It's a commonly told one in Wagi's universe.

Those of the Chalibi tell it this way:

In ancient times, before the gods, at the dawn of the acitan, the world was lush and verdant. Thousands of species thrived across the continents, and the acitan roamed across the planet. It was a time of good hunting. It would have been a time of great learning, too, but there was a fog around our thoughts. We could learn pieces of information, but we couldn't piece them together to understand the larger picture.

So we lived, and we learned, and we died, and it seemed like nothing would ever change. Years blurred into each other, becoming decades and centuries, but we couldn't judge the passage of time--we didn't have a reference point.

Then, one quiet, particularly boring night, an acitan saw a brilliant light in the sky, falling towards the ground. She had never seen anything like it, and so she started traveling to it, orienting herself by the tug on her mind. She crossed deserts, and forests, and had to swim across rivers and climb mountains. Sometimes it was so cold that she felt like the water in her blood would freeze, and sometimes it was so hot the sand burnt her paws. But still she kept traveling, because she had to know what the object was. Finally, after months of travel, she reached the object. But she was not alone. As one, our ancestors approached the crater the object made in the ground, and peered down.

It glowed, all the colors of the rainbow. And just looking at it, our ancestors could feel the fog surrounding their thoughts vanish, like mist before the rays of the sun! Just basking in the glow, they could feel everything coming together in their minds. The information they had gathered over their life was no longer a disjoined mess, it started to fit together in a cohesive whole. And when they looked at each other and counted their number, and looked back at the object that had crashed to the ground, they realized that their number was twenty... and the object could be broken into twenty pieces.

They knew what they had to do. Even though they felt that the object was too beautiful to break apart, they separated it, each taking a piece in their jaws. They could feel the power seeping into them. While the object was far weaker broken into twenty pieces, it was powerful enough for what they had to do. They closed their eyes, and felt the shard of the object they each carried travel into them, becoming one with their essence. Then they spoke together, and made their plans.

They split up, and took the shard with them, wandering the Southern Basin. As they passed, everything changed. Thinking creatures felt the fog lifted from their mind. Plants and animals changed, and the landscape grew even more lush with life. It took years, but finally they had changed the entire Basin and uplifted all of our ancestors, and the ancestors of the other people we shared the Basin with.

And then, when their job had been completed, they vanished. Many saw them again, of course, but... nothing positive. Just a glimpse out of the corner of an eye, or a voice on the wind, or the sign of their passage or activity. Maybe they died. Maybe they're still around, and never stopped learning. But regardless, we only exist because of what they did.

Those of the Serengeti tell it this way:

We are the eldest of the world's children, and alone among them, we remember our beginning with no one to tell it to us. We are the older brother of the dolphins and the baboons.

Even before we began, we could think. It was not good thinking, though. The stupidest of us now is wiser than the most intelligent of our ancestors from that time. They knew what they were lacking, though, and they wanted more. No one could figure out how to get it, though. No matter their desire, no matter what they tried, it didn't work.

Then, one night, an acitan who was not yet an acitan saw a star fall from the heavens--that's what he thought it was, at least. He talked about it with his coalition, and they agreed that no one had ever seen anything like it before. They had to see more. So they started to travel north. When they left, their number was three. We know of Seigai and Ya!banja, but the third has no name and never did.

As they traveled north, it grew drier. Hotter. They could not stop too long to catch prey, for in their pursuit of the star they crossed the territory of many other coalitions. The third died and was eaten in the Chalbi. He gave them the strength they needed to reach the star.

When they reached it, they saw that they were not alone. Eighteen other acitan who were not yet acitan were approaching the star, which lay at the center of a hole in the ground. As one, they approached and looked into the hole. It sparkled like a gem and glowed with many colors, and as they watched the colors shift, they could feel the fog in their mind vanishing. Thoughts were clearer, and each named themselves. They were acitan.

A discovery like this had to be shared. They tried to move it, but it was too heavy. Bringing other acitan who were not yet acitan to it would take too long. But as they sat thinking, they realized that they object could be broken into twenty pieces. Together, they broke the object into twenty pieces, and each devoured one and gained its power. Now they were one coalition.

They traveled the Southern Basin together, teaching as they went. In their path, they left the acitan, and we are grateful to them for what they did.