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Ecology of the Catamountby Antony Bethell
I Marcus Folio, while mineral surveying in the Hardanger Mountains stumbled across a small cave. Within were the skeletal remains [alpha-remains] of what at first looked like a centaur surrounded by grave goods. On closer inspection these remains appeared more feline than equine.
Curiously the grave goods had a Thothian look about them. With my interest peaked I decided to excavate my findings gathering everything as gently as an old ham-handed soul such as myself could. On my return to more civilised lands I paid for the alpha-remains and accompanying grave goods to be put under magical scrutiny and was surprised to learn that they dated back to BC 1000.
I coined the working title for the creature of catamount [meaning: cat-a-mountain] since no scholar or sage that I had encountered could readily identify such a creature. I therefore made it my goal in life to discover more about these mysterious alpha remains. Due to the elusiveness of the catamount on which this text is based, the following treatise as taken me many years, (and much travel to various lands and sites across the Known World) to compile in order to put into a reasonable, (and possibly an incomplete) format.
Across the Emirates of Ylaruam ruins can be found dating back to ancient times. Archaeologists have discovered hieroglyphs and wall murals depicting a creature similar in nature to what I now call the catamount. Even on the Isle of Dawn in Thothia there are similar depictions which date between BC 700- BC 500. The murals depict these creatures in military formations attacking humans and humanoids, while supporting other human warriors clad in the garb of Thothia or dare I say Nithia.
Translation of the cartouche names them after two minor cat-like immortals of hunting and warfare. It would appear that males are all referred to as Mahes and all females as Pakhet. Even today the catamount use these names as a suffix to their actual name, [example: Fangora-Mahes]. Larger murals can be found of individual catamounts which have cartouche hieroglyphs claiming them to be a ruler or chieftain by adding Ra to the name.
All of these individuals would appear to be female since all of them are named Pakhet-Ra. This discovery alone would suggest that these creatures would appear to have matriarchal structured society stretching back to these ancient times (?)
Since the demise of Nithia the catamounts no longer have kings, chieftains or leaders of any kind. And due to their somewhat solitary lives from each other it is thought that their immortals play a big part in their daily lives through different rituals and mantras.
Females choose their mates wisely and will rear and teach their offspring [called kittens] on their own. The kittens will remain with her for up to two years.
Due to the way they maintain a territory or range (which is roughly 24 miles, possibly larger) there is pressure on young adolescent [sub-adults] catamounts to find their own niche. This can be done by either: conquest: literally taking over an existing territory; secondly: inherit (by moving in on a deceased catamounts former territory) or thirdly establish a new range, which would require the catamount to carve out a new territory.
Supposed Migration Theory
I cannot be certain but, I generally think that between BC 400- AC 800 the catamounts as a species used the mountain-chains of central Brun as corridors. This enabled them to colonize the surrounding foothills and forests surrounding them (one hex at a time) as they progressed along their routes.
Migrating westwards across Brun they would have (more than likely) crossed the Makkres Mountains, while heading south into the Altan Tepes Mountains through to the Cruth Mountains and on into the Malpheggi Swamplands of Darokin.
Northwards they would have entered the Wendarian Ranges before “leap-frogging” across the Broken-Lands (this stage of their migration may have contributed to their desire to steer clear of large settlements). Using the valleys the catamount continued across Glantri and into the Khurish Massif crossing the foothills north of the Plain of Fire. From these foothills they would have used the river valleys of the Black Mountains reaching as far as the city of Slagovich in the west and up to the Borean River in the north.
It is also considered by the author that there may well be a thriving population of catamounts located on the Great Escarpment on the southern tip of the Isle of Dawn. I have no proof at this time but due to the locality of Thothia it would stand to reason that catamounts would find the seclusion of the escarpment an ideal habitat. Future expeditions can only reveal the truth in this however.
Arts & Crafts
Catamounts are skilled in producing various craft goods thanks in part to the techniques that they have honed when crafting their flint tools and weapons. These techniques have developed over time allowing artistic prowess to creep in to the catamount psyche and creativity. They have been known to carve or scrimshaw small beautiful sculptures and different types of beads from wood, bone and some types of stone. Their carvings are considered primitive bordering Neolithic in design depicting mainly animals [especially cats] that they hunt or have seen and curiously holy symbols in the form of ankhs.
These sculptures are often traded by the catamounts for metal items and weapons normally at small settlements of human or rakasta populations. More recently these items are being sought after by collectors and the author hopes that this will not lead to conflict when overly eager treasure-hunters become more involved.
Allies & Enemies
Due to competition for game within their own range catamounts will systematically hunt down and either kill or drive-off any large cat that they discover in their territory. Catamounts have been known to also kill solitary wolves, foxes, coyotes, hyenas and jackals whenever possible. They despise all humanoids but due to their numbers they will not risk open conflict with them. However they will kill solitary individuals and small foraging/hunting parties if they are able to do so.
However rakasta within the ranged territory are tolerated. Probably because of the feline connection or realistically because the rakasta are organised and often better armed. Whatever the real reason there is definitely mutual respect between them. Raskasta certainly get a good deal from this relationship, since it gives them additional eyes in the wilderness and access to expert trackers and guides. Catamounts in wooded areas have been known to ally themselves with Sasquatch, acteons and other forest races that dwell in the deeper woodlands.
Due to the solitary lives no one is sure how the catamount view death and the rituals that accompany it. They certainly have an immortal of death in the form of Anubis. It is thought that if a catamount lives long enough to know it will shortly die it will make its own preparations. In the introduction I mentioned that I had stumbled across a burial with the remains surrounded by their personnel effects. Using other primitive cultures as a reference it may well be that within the catamount psyche the cave represents a doorway between worlds which fits with their mythology with regards to Anubis being the master of darkness. It may well be the case that the ritual involves a transition between light and darkness enabling the catamount to pass between both worlds, existing in the dark while looking upon the light at the mouth of the cave.
After considerable research I have come to the conclusion that the catamounts origins can be traced back to between BC 2400- BC1700 during the time when the Beast-Men began to start breeding true. This branch of Beast-Men originally lived in family groups possibly similar to lion prides.
The prides moved south possibly due to the pressures of other groups migrating southwards. What is certain however is that they into contact with a human culture known as the Nithians. The Nithian people may have revered them and treated them like gods even naming them has Pakhet for females and Mahes for males. The creatures that became the catamount fought for Nithian interests in regiments under their own leaders, Pakhet-Ra revealing a strong matriarchal and military society.
This integration would cause the species to come crashing down with the fall of Nithia. After the demise of the main Nithian culture in all likelihood the immortals caused the catamounts to revert back to a stone-age level of culture altering their memories in the process. However not all their knowledge was erased since there is clearly some echoes contained within the existing culture.
Origins (as related to me by: Illiya-Pakhet)
All kittens are taught by their mothers that in the being there were two immortals, the jackal-headed Anubis and the lioness-headed Neith. At that time there was no suns or stars only the darkness. Anubis loved the dark and thrived within it. Neith however yearned for more and set about the cosmos in search of adventure. In time she found a golden globe of light deep in the darkness. Curious she moved closer not knowing what it was and marvelled at its natural beauty. The darkness could not consume it.
Anubis came upon Neith, he was not impressed with the globe for he craved the dark. He tried to guide Neith away from the globe but she would not go willingly for she was enchanted by it. Anubis grew angry and attempted to attack Neith but Neith was stronger and beat Anubis casting him aside. She named him Master of Darkness and cursed him to live in the dark forever.
Meanwhile the globe spewed forth its brilliant radiance in all directions consuming Neith. Terrified Anubis fled leaving Neith to be engulfed by the light. But Neith wasn’t consumed but bathed within the glory of the light becoming one with it. Neith became aware of a presence within the light. She reached out and touched an ibis-headed man-like creature. This being said that he was called Thoth, Master of Magic and the Keeper of All Knowledge. In time the ibis-headed Thoth would teach Neith if she was willing to learn the wonders of the sun globe. In time Neith mastered the workings of the globe and with Thoth’s guidance Neith used its power to create the stars and worlds across the universe.
On one world, this world a group of beings awoke and looked out across the fertile plains. The first beings possessed feline-features and man-like bodies the first of their kind and they took the names: Bast, Sekhmet and Tefnut. They wandered the land, climbed the mountains and headed towards the sky. At the top of world they were met by their mother Neith. At Neith’s command Thoth bestowed powers upon them. Bast became the goddess of fertility and a protector of the animals and plants, Sekhmet became the goddess of healing and warfare and Tefnut became the goddess of the weather and seasons.
This trinity of goddesses would shape the world guided by their mother-goddess Neith who was skilled in hunting and warfare. In time many children were born into the world the chief of these was Bast’s daughter Mafdet who took upon herself to protect her siblings and cousins especially Pakhet and Mahes who always went off hunting together (whom all of our people are descended from) and little Bisu the dwarf-lion considered the runt of the litter but was gifted with great luck and survival skills.
Bisu’s good fortune was very useful to Mahes and Pakhet when they went hunting for they soon discovered that they caught more game when he was with them. One day however they did not take Bisu or Mafdet with them. Hunting all day without any luck they stopped to rest by a cave. There they heard a whisper from its opening which drew them near.
Anubis had watched from the shadows and was jealous of what he had seen and of everything that had occurred. He decided that he would destroy this creation of light bringing with it the cold of darkness and yes, death. Within the darkness Anubis was powerful and he would subdue any came within his domain. So on seeing Mahes and Pakhet near the entrance of the cave he lured them in and stripped them of their divine powers making the mortal. (We honour their memory by embracing and linking their names to our own).
And so it came to pass that Mahes encouraged by his sister entered the cave first and was ensnared by the dark. Pakhet’s only thought was to aid her brother and her for all her bravery was captured as well. Mafdet and Bisu searched in vain for they could not find the immortal sparks of the siblings wrapped in the darkness of Anubis’ snare and by his power they became mortal and were doomed to die from now until the end of time. However some of us manage to find the path back to immortality by Bisu’s own luck!
The matriarchal based society is reflected in their pantheon since it would appear that nearly all of them are female in origin. The following is a list of the catamount immortals with their know world equivalent in parenthesis ( ) if readily identifiable.
The head of the pantheon is the mother-goddess Neith (Terra) [lioness-headed] who is also skilled in hunting and warfare; Anubis (Thanatos) [jackal-headed] immortal of the cold, darkness and death; Thoth (Ixion) [ibis-headed] immortal of knowledge and magic and advisor and sometime consort to Neith; Bast (Freya) [cat-headed] immortal of fertility and protector of all flora and fauna; Sekhmet [cat-headed] immortal of healing and warfare; Tefnut [cat-headed]immortal of seasons and weather; Mafdet [cat-headed] protector and guardian; and little Bisu [dwarf-lion] immortal of good luck and fortune.
This magnificent creature is unknown species to the civilised city dwellers of the known world. Even in the more remote parts of the world which are considered prime habitat for catamounts many are unaware that they exist. Hunters and explorers sometimes return from the wilds with tales of a creature glimpsed on rocky outcrops for a brief moment mainly at dusk before disappearing. Only when settlements in the high mountains are reached do people have any recognition of the creature that I call a catamount. Their elusiveness and solitary lives have been their biggest asset (and quite frankly my biggest bane in discovering their world).