Nheukrioh - Story of Nhaemuki
The Aalis were the origin of all the Clans, and of the Umatoes specifically. It is said they wove the mists into snow, then pounded the snow against the sides of the reef mountains as it drifted, pummeling the ice, snow, rock, and coral into one being which they then ripped from the mountainsides. This being leapt from the arms of the creators, falling from the skies down to the rivers and seas of ice. They found long claws useful for running, and proceeded to run from the gods. When the Aalis sought them out, the Umatoes hid from the gods by digging their way under the ice and finding small shoals in which to hide until they passed. Eventually the creators got bored and went to create other members more willing to abide by them, and left the Umatoes to their own devices. The big clan took this as a sign, and began to dig their way up from the icy seas, climbing and clawing and claiming all the mountain and the sea they traveled on as theirs. They allowed the other clans to grow at the edges of their borders, but none were allowed to pass beyond. When the Aalis took notice of their accomplishments and growth, it is said they returned to the Umatoe clan, who did not run this time. They stood their ground, and as the gods came down to enforce will upon the clan, the clan decided they would be the ones enforcing will. The gods had no claim on their clan, they proclaimed, and they would not listen to any creatures, large or small, that they had no wish to listen to. The clan would stay as it was, and would not be ordered around like the others. The gods looked down upon this decree, and it is said they debated among themselves. One of the gods came forward and challenged them; if they won, the Aalis would leave them. If they failed, they would do all that the Aalis asked of them, including coming back with them into the skies. The clan agreed, and the challenge was brought forth. But the challenge was a distraction, a farce. For as soon as it was issued, the clan instantly saw it was not one they were meant to win; it was a challenge to swim upward into the frozen wastes and back down again before the next sky-change. The clan felt the Aalis had already cheated them, and yet they were smarter. The clan as a whole reached into the sides of the mountains, tearing and ripping at the rock and coral and ice, binding them together with the resources of the land to create small, quick fleeting ships able to cross the ice and tundra and waves in one movement -- blades were interjected into the bottoms of the ships for the ice, and they learned natural ways to keep afloat for the water at the ends of the world. They kept their mendings a secret, only to be revealed when necessary. The day came. The Aalis took mortal form and dove into the waters to swim under the ice, melting it as they went. The Clan set their boats into the ice and raced off, the sleds allowing them to travel faster than they could on paw. The Aalis were shocked by this invention and had not understood it, for the Clan used no magic in its construction. The groups raced, the Aalis doing all they could to stall or destroy the crafts so the Clan could not win. One member, a smaller Umatoe, saw the attack coming in the NeverWaters and leapt clear of the attack, diving into the cold black waters and right at her attacker. Legend says she wrestled and fought with the Aalis, tearing the fins from the god and fixing them to her own tail with borrowed magic. She swallowed gulps of air and set off after her fellows, speeding past the boards and the Aalis. Her tail allowed her to swim faster than the others, her small size allowing her to slip through and around obstacles until she reached the World’s End. It is said a single Aalis sat at the center of the waterfall, waiting. The Aalis explained she was sent ahead to say that the Aalis had won, but was impressed by the Clan’s cunning and the fearlessness of the Umatoe herself. Here, the stories diverge. Some say the Umatoe was unimpressed and angered at the gods trickery and attacked the Aalis, killing her. It is said the act of killing her and shedding her blood enabled the Umatoe to steal her magic and solidify the fins around her tail and the air-pocket at the base of her neck. Others say the Aalis gifted the Umatoe with true fins and the air-pouch as a reward for her cunning and ruthlessness. Either way, it is said that when the racing Aalis finally arrived at World’s End, neither the Aalis nor the Umatoe were present. They rushed back to the land to find the Umatoe had already beaten them, flashing her fins and throat-pouch in a loud proclamation of freedom. The gods had lost, and she demanded they leave the mountains and never return. That Umatoe became the Nhaemuki, leader of all the Umatoe clans, and it is said that all female Umatoes can follow their ancestry to her. It is also said that when the Nhaemuki died, she was taken away from the mountaintop by the ghost of the Aalis she found at World’s End, and that every Nhaemuki after her meets the same fate upon death.
Foundational story. It's the story of the Umatoe that won a race against the Elemental Gods (The Aalis) with honor, and won the right for her people to be free of their direct influence. The race was from the edges of land, across the water to where the world ended and back again.
The Umatoe firmly believe the myth is a historical event. There is a persistant storm that circles where they believe the World's End was in the story, and rumors -- some say unfounded rumors -- are that there's a path through the mountains that leads directly into the heart of the storm. There are a few Umatoe that have said they sailed into the heart of the storm and saw the World's End for themselves, describing it how various stories have, but these are few and far between, and often the Umatoe are lost for many cycles and thought dead before reappearing, and none of thier attempts to record the event have ever pulled through. There are also records by some storm-sailers that you can actually find the wreakage of Nhaemuki smashed and fossilized against the rock just inside the persistant storm, and a few mountain-dwellers have said you can find the spot where the Umatoe carved resources out of the mountain if you explore storm-side.
Nheukrioh is a story all Umatoe know, told to them from their cubling days and repeated onward. The story is not exclusive, and story collectors from other clans likely know it as well.
Variations & Mutation
Some say the Umatoe was unimpressed and angered at the gods trickery and attacked the Aalis, killing her. It is said the act of killing her and shedding her blood enabled the Umatoe to steal her magic and solidify the fins around her tail and the air-pocket at the base of her neck. Others say the Aalis gifted the Umatoe with true fins and the air-pouch as a reward for her cunning and ruthlessness. That's the only known variation, and it's not known who began the variation in the story.
Most Elewnai Clans take story at face-value and assume they're truth, so while the Umatoe respect it as a foundational story in thier idenity and culture, other Clans respect it as a real historical event, even if it isn't a part of thier own identity.
The only known poem is known as Nheiohmaur, and is often the way the story is passed down through the Umatoe.