Yekwan Tonlaap Character in Umqwam | World Anvil

Yekwan Tonlaap

List'n ta the ground buhneath ya, do ya hear tha rumblin' an' screechin' of machines? Or do ya hear the gentle, the calm, the holy soun' of oil lappin' at sub'tarin shores below?
— Yekwan Tonlaap
  Yekwan Tonlaap was an oil baron turned priest, who was instrumental in forming the modern values of the Roywalaap faith, most notably transforming oil into an object of worship.  

An Oil-Soaked Heart

  Tonlaap owned oil-laden land south of the Roywalaap capital, where the town of Tonlaap stands today. It was his dream to control a settlement of his own, in fact, he believed it to be his right. When ool engines began to grow in popularity, demand for oil declined, taking his dream with it. He feared that he would not be able to afford the raw material, workforce, or food needed to construct or run his town— especially given his lifestyle. It was nigh impossible to compete with ool, which lacked all the downsides of oil.   And so, he stewed in his mansion, lamenting his declining wealth. As he had become all too used to a luxurious lifestyle, the idea of simply cutting back on his exuberant spending was unfathomable. In his mind, the only option would be to sabotage his competition. But how? Once The Incident came about— the answer was clear. He would use the people's newfound fear, and faith to his advantage. The devastating accident had led directly to concerns over the safety of ool engines, people began to realize— they didn't even know how ool worked.
Yehk-wahn Tahn-lap


Decadence had given Yeqwan a rotund frame, which he sought to hide in eye-catching clothing.   He was wont to don a black wicker vest with a woven floral pattern, its bottom curved outwards 2-3" to display a row of wicker oil wells.   Beneath this, he wore a white dress shirt, patterned with mock oil splatters.   Atop his head often sat a black wide-brimmed hat with a golden strap around its center, proudly housing a ruby at its midpoint.  
  When preaching, however, he dressed a bit more conservatively— swapping the splatter-shirt for a plain pastel yellow one, and donning a simpler black priest's hat.

Tonlaap was, like most of the Sotikaaput, a believer of the Roywalaap faith— and had read through their scriptures numerous times throughout his life. In his search for a course of action, he took to the scriptures once more— finding the key to both his success, and the future of the faith.  
11 And all will fall, should they forget the way they had come.   12 For one who travels the path too quickly will find themselves running off the edge of a precipitous cliff. Be wary on your path, and walk, never run. For one day, it is these runners that will lead all of the world off the edge.
  This passage had gone mostly unnoticed by most, seen simply as a metaphorical teaching on the dangers of forgetting one's past and moving too quickly— but in the context of The Incident? This could all too easily be read as a warning, a claim that the world would end as a result of speedy progress. Tonlaap was shaken by this passage, truly— his preaching of these words was not entirely spurred by his lust for power, but also a newfound fear. One that just happened to align with his aspirations. And so, he would use his wealth to spread this passage across the nation, and even preach it in the streets. He spoke with great anger, fear, and energy— and it was not long before he gained a following. He would give sermons on the dangers of ool, of technology, admonishing scientists and researchers for "knowingly" leading the Sotikaaput off of a cliff.  

Deadly Schemes

Spurred by both fear and anger, Tonlaap would secretly pay others to sabotage machines that ran off of ool engines, planting and setting off explosives wherever they may be found— be it on the side of a road, or within a crowd of innocents. As his message spread, these "examples" only served as proof of his words. Any who called these out as sabotage were branded heretics, and ostracized— if not lynched. Other oil barons would come to the same idea, and before long— ool was transformed into a public enemy.

The Black River

  As fear and anger began to mount, more and more people began to discard and shun ool altogether— however this went farther than Tonlaap could have hoped. All technology was shunned alongside it— justified by the very same passage he had used to his advantage. Including that which ran on oil. So, Tonlaap would take a risk— and create a scripture of his own.  
1 Most holy, most true of the earth beneath us, is the black river, from which all life came, and to which the faithful will return. This is my blood, my truth, my soul.   2 Those who reject this truth will never truly die, and will remain in torment for eternity, trapped within their own decaying corpses.   3 Anoint yourselves with my blood, so that you may be closer to me in spirit.
— The Book of Tsal
  The Book of Tsal was a set of scripture claimed to have been written directly by the Roywalaap god, Tsal. Supposedly, the book was hidden from the faithful until a time when they would be ready, yet it was stolen away by those who had invented the ool engine so that their machines could poison the flock. It would risk Tonlaap's life, should the faithful discover this new scripture to be a fake— they would likely destroy everything he owned, before killing him. However, it would pay off— his followers believed him. After all, it was he who had shown them the truth of tradition and progress, how could a man so faithful lie?  


Tonlaap would die before his town could grow into anything more than a ramshackle village, choking to death after attempting to drink from a spouting oil well. His teachings, however, would go on to become permanent fixtures of the Roywalaap faith, pushed onward by other oil barons and priests following the man's death.   It was much easier for the church to control the populace should they reject the pursuit of knowledge, after all. This would inevitably aid them in supplanting the government mere decades later.   The town of Tonlaap would grow steadily, with pilgrims journeying to see the site of the man's "revelations." His mansion would become a holy site, serving as a home for high ranking priests throughout the years, which only increased its spiritual value.   And the demand for oil could never be higher, though it is no longer used to power machines thanks to Tonlaap stoking the flames of fear— it is essential for the worship of those who follow the Roywalaap faith today.

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Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!

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Jul 3, 2020 06:49 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This is great. I love that his becoming a man of faith was motivated by both greed and fear.   And his dress sense sounds amazing.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 3, 2020 17:16 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you!   Also yes, his dress sense IS amazing.

Jul 6, 2020 15:33 by Stormbril

...choking to death after attempting to drink from a spouting oil well.
  Damn, what a hardcore and fitting end for this man! This was a great article, I loved seeing how you twisted faith and greed together with this.

Jul 6, 2020 17:28 by Grace Gittel Lewis
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