Yi Be-Pian Old Zorai of the Company of the Eternal Tree - Part One

We have travelled deep into the Haven of Purity to meet the homins of one of the Bark's most important tribes, the Company of the Eternal Tree. Having made contact with Bian La-Viang, the welcome host, he finally directs us towards an old Zoraï stooped over an earthenware vase.

Hello, who are you?

Ssh… Just a second if you please…

He taps the vase for a moment before putting it down.

…There you go, isn't that better? Thank you for waiting. Patience is a great virtue. What are a few minutes at my age? No doubt not more than my life in proportion to that of the Progenitor… They call me Yi Be-Pian. They say I'm a sage, but no doubt that's just a polite way of saying I'm the oldest in the Company of the Eternal Tree. (smiles)

Let's talk about the Company. When was it founded?

I may be old, but I'm not so old that I was around when our company was created by the revered Mai Loo-Kai, may we all follow her example, in 2364. Few like to remember that time. Zoraï society had developed and, despite its devotion to spiritual matters, it began to turn away from the Kami to concern itself with much more… material matters. Seeing the Zoraï put homins before the Kami more and more often, Mai Loo-Kai, may her spirit guide us for a long time, gathered many of her friends around her and decided to found a guild entirely dedicated to the Kami. In its great wisdom, the council applauded her initiative and gave her its full backing. So Mai Loo-Kai created the Company of the Eternal Tree. Along with those who soon came to be called her disciples, she preached respect for the Kami and regularly called the Zoraï to order.

But aren't you a tribe?

Ma-Duk didn't create Atys in a day, I can't tell my story in a sapbeat. (smiles) So there came a day when Mai Loo-Kai, may her sap flow through the veins of Ma-Duk, realised that those who called themselves sages weren't following the advice that they encouraged her to give. So she turned and addressed her reprimands to them as well. They didn't appreciate being called to order in the slightest and so the guild's problems began. The council began to criticize it, accusing it of trying to spread trouble with the aim of obtaining power for itself. Feeling that if she stayed in Zoran the power of the homins would end up corrupting the guild and its ideals, Mai Loo-Kai gathered those who had remained faithful, dissolved the guild and left to establish herself far from the authority of the council which was perverting her noble design.

And the central power of Zoran left her alone?

Mai Loo-Kai, praised be her wisdom, stopped preaching, preferring to devote all her energy to those she revered, the Kami. In so doing, she proved the council wrong and the example set by her devotion had more effect on Zoraï society than all her preaching. By distancing herself from homins she led them along the path of enlightenment. Ashamed, the council asked her to return, but she refused. Nowhere in Zoran could she live in such symbiosis with the Kami. Not long afterwards she disappeared, the first to have attained the Kami Age. Her sap is now one with Ma-Duk. Soon, I know, it will be my turn to rejoin her.

Observing your camp, there's something I've been wondering. There are many different peoples here, and yet you have only spoken to me of Zoraï…

Observation. A great quality for those who know how to see. My people remained very inward-looking for a long time through fear but, also, I think, through ignorance, ignorance having led to vanity. But when the Kami recognised us as their most loyal servants, we were induced into bringing the sacred word of Ma-Duk to other peoples. Meeting souls desirous of following our path, we opened our doors to all homins that the Kami considered to be worthy of serving. Then came the great wave of kitins which swept away all civilisation, including much of ours. The Kami fled, all the better to return after they'd gathered their strength, as we later realised. Once the Bark was accessible to us again, we retook our place beside the Kamis in 2483. The tribe had lost many members, so we opened our arms wide to all those who wished to rebuild a world of harmony with the Kami, whether they be Zoraï, Trykers, Fyros or Matis. It's time for me to perform my devotions to the eternal Ma-Duk. Hold on to those questions you're dying to ask, the answers will come in their own time.

I left Yi Be-Pian to his meditations and made the most of the time to soak up the atmosphere of calm which reigned in the tribe.

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