The “‘Raincatchers”’ are a Jaguar tri-sept of the Seekers of the Sun sub-race of Miqo'te. The septs reside deep inside Raincatcher Gully where the trees are densely packed together and the air is thickest, laying claim to the extent of their home location all the way to the forest’s clearing leading out westward to Wineport and the base of Vylbrand’s centralized volcano to the northwest. While they are scattered and fewer in numbers than most tribes, and not much is known of them for it along with their secretive nature, one member among them seeks to remedy this and has agreed to come forth.
|“'Race”’ : Miqo'te||“'Clan”’ : Seekers of the Sun|
|”'Population’“ : ~42||”'Number of Septs’“ : 3|
|”'Religion’“ : Azeyma, the Warden; Nature spirits||”'Naming Conventions’“ : Y’ (pronounced ’'yah”)|
|“'Location”’ : Eastern La Noscea, Inside Raincatcher Gully|
Though their religious mythos sets them aside from other tribes in terms of beginnings, the Raincatchers arrived in Eorzea in union with the rest of their totem in the Fifth Umbral Era when ice bridges were created across continents. Intent on migrating from their kin remaining back in Meracydia, the Jaguars sought a new beginning with a taste for new hunting game on their tongues and the guidance of their elder Listener’s deep in their ears. When the end of the Fifth Umbral Era came about and the ice began to melt, and the myriad of totem tribes settled further to the eastern and southern regions of Eorzea, the Raincatchers decided to stay behind on its close western island - “'Vylbrand”’, with some few other totems. Bearing a rare preference for the humid and tropical weather much like their totem guide and knowing it would be a natural deterrence for a vast majority of the other tribes, they chose to settle deep within its forests where the game was larger and more dangerous, and where they could keep hidden safely away from the factions of Mhach, Amdapor, and the nearer city of Nym.
The Great Flood and the Sahagin
The Raincatchers and the Sahagin have a long history of blood and warfare with each other dating back to the “'Sixth Umbral Era”’, so much that it ties into a great portion of their folklore. When the realm was mostly flooded and all that remained were mountaintops and elevated lands much unlike their own land, a drastic move from their territories out towards the sea was made in unison with the local Plainsfolk by joining small boats together. Eventually they managed to devise fleets of ships within the cycle large enough to host them comfortably, later on establishing a buoyant home base of a sort. During the extent of the long flood, the two dwelled among each other and adapted to a mostly nautical lifestyle, sparingly taking what remaining resources there were from land above water while ensuring growth continues. When the aquatic beastmen Sahagin had dominion of the region during this age, several bloody skirmishes were carried out between the two sides and the serpent god Leviathan, but by some good graces a lasting truce was eventually found between the two by establishing a system of trade.
When the waters finally reclined and the coasts of Vylbrand were once again habitable, the returning Plainsfolk and Raincatchers soon forgot this history and reverted to a simpler life.
History of the Raincatchers with the Sea Wolves
Though there was little interaction between the Raincatchers and the Sea Wolves when the day came that they stumbled across the island of Vylbrand during the Sixth Astral Era, it is noteworthy to mention that the rising town that quickly became a hub of piracy and life held a role in the tribe’s fall back deeper into the jungles of the newly reborn and smaller Raincatcher Gully. Vastly outnumbered and indirectly witness to their greed and violence, retreat was chosen over altercations that would bring about their downfall. Though there were some struggles with marauders venturing too far into the depths of the jungle, there was never a trace found nor a return back to the town. Ever since then, the Raincatchers’ appearances have been overall far and few, their existence forgotten by most through the immigration’s and diversities of other races.
Raincatchers have managed to avoid exposure to the outside world and sustain themselves by keeping themselves high up in the canopy of the trees via branch bridges pulled from strips of tree bark and tied tight together by vines and snipped roots a distance away from their tree, connected to wider rounded platforms supported by heavy branches around the stumps of greater trees. This ensures that they still continue to exist with safety in their rest during the late nights, high from dangerous animals and intruding travelers, and keep their supplies, rations, and tents safe along with it. Being so high up also allows them to have a better eye of their overall territory and a better means of traversing it while keeping hidden away.
Spread apart as they are and mostly kept to their own practices, the three septs each follow a similar method of government in which a male occupies the role of Nunh and a female the Hearer. The nunh of the sept deepest into the forest under the largest tree, considered the leading village, is the head nunh and chief overseer of all events within the forest while the same is said of the hearer in religious aspects. Once a year, during the turn into the Falling Leaves, the three villages convene for a festival of games, trade, exchanging, transition into nunhship, and council between a gathering of the prior generation’s three nunh’s and hearer’s are held with the present head to discuss the future path of the three septs. It is also at the end of every second decade that this gathering elects members for the positions of Head Hunter, who leads hunting expeditions and oversees the training of younger warriors and hunters/huntress, and Hearer. The Hearer of each sept decodes Azeyma’s chosen quarry for ritual sacrifice, and training is often passed from mother to daughter.
As with most of their sub-race, the Jaguar tribe worships the sun goddess Azeyma, the Warden. In her honor they consider themselves the “wardens of the green” and celebrate two large festivals annually. The tribe also reveres multiple manifestations of the elements- earth and water being two elements of greater importance due to the tribe’s rainforest lifestyle and influence in their aggressive fighting styles. Their recognition and pride in their totem animal has made the spotted and black Jaguar a figure of good and evil in their folk tales and a foundation for their strength.
Azeyma’s Rest is the summer solstice, when the Raincatchers believe that Azeyma shines her brightest and rewards the tribe for its striving efforts to earn her favor. It is a day to celebrate accomplishments, to show one’s strength, joy, and pride to the Warden. It is often celebrated with elaborate dances, songs testifying the accomplishments of the tribe as a whole as well as individual members, and a day where members will gather to jovially challenge one another and earn a totem known as the Warden’s Vein.
Azeyma’s Rest also serves as a reminder over Azeyma’s descent into rest for the remaining half of the year, beginning the long period of trials for the tribe to endure on their own while she sleeps and takes her long rest. The tally of accomplishments resets, and the tribe has to renew their efforts to regain her favor again upon her awaking for fear of the new year bringing devastation, low fertility, and less quarry to hunt.
Rites of Passage
When a kit of the Raincatchers approaches their thirteenth name-day, they are considered to be coming of age.
At this time, after an upbringing of preparation, training, and application while shadowing a hunter or huntress, they are exposed to their first hunt on their own. Half a sun is set to prepare for the rite, Zu feathers braided to the hair to offer swiftness and the heart of a raptor devoured after ritual prayer to bless them with aggressive strength. Green paint is drawn zigzagged from the lower eyelid to the collarbone, an arching line across their forehead. After half a bell of prayer, the initiate is given no more than rope and knife and excluded from the gates, sent off into the deeper jungle for three suns and told to return with the hide and heart of a Coeurl kit. Should they not return within the allotted time with success or failure, they are viewed as dead or deserter.
If the initiate returns with nothing in hand, they are permitted another chance the following year but put through a quick review of lessons that would otherwise take years. Should they succeed with hide in hand, weavers are quick to rush and receive it while he or she is welcomed into the adolescent world with a small celebration of dance, song, and feast lasting throughout the day and into the night when the hide is presented to them as a coat, the trademark of a hunter or huntress to be worn with pride henceforth. At the end of the event the heart is presented to Azeyma by the initiate as a display of their trial, and eaten.
The Raincatchers are typically peaceful among themselves and prefer to stay well apart and hidden from the outside world and its influences. They carry a long history of bloodshed and conflict with the Sahagin and their god, under the affirmation that their responsibility in the physical realm is keeping them from broadening their territory upon the land. A recent struggle came about with a once allied tribe- a group of Coeurl tribals that they held a trade relation with up to their raiding of one of the Raincatcher’s three villages, resulting in the death of its nunh. While they do not actively seek conflict outside of their boundaries, anyone who intrudes too far into them quickly earn their scorn. Some few skirmishes with pirates have happened while unknowingly passing inwards, and a handful of Garleans who sought shelter away from their stronghold during the Calamity, further into the forest, were quickly disposed of and now hang by rope over an arching rock crevice to dissuade further approach.
Taking into account their environs, warriors and hunters of the Raincatchers use a mixture of ranged and up-close fighting styles, with the former relying on stealth, guerrilla-type fighting, and elevation while melee calls on both swiftness and aggression to quickly disarm, subdue, and end their target. Some among these hand-to-hand warriors are aetherially in-tuned to the earth- grounding their stances to it and even calling on it for aid in their struggles when the situation calls for it.
Death among the Raincatchers is viewed as the second step in the overall three-step cycle of life. In death, the deeds and efforts to earn the Warden’s favor in the physical realm are measured, and should they be founded as devoted and just, the scale will tilt right with a pleasant chime and they will proceed to the afterlife in the heaven’s above, free without hindrance to hunt as plentifully or live as peacefully as they desire. Should their deeds not be devoted nor just, Azeyma’s scale tilts to the left with a deeper, echoing chime, sentencing them to the hell’s below. In this situation there is a chance for redemption by slaying the evils of the hells in her name, but for a long number of years. Falling to the temptations and wickedness of the worlds below finds them stuck there for all of eternity, shunned forevermore from the Warden.
Impact of Outside Cultures
As civilization began to grow larger in Vylbrand and its populace grew, it was oly a matter of time until they would inevitably come upon the Raincatcher borders. In favor of keeping unknown to the outside world, a lone road was permitted through the eastern end of the gully, a warehouse and a winery set to be its destination. As it lies along the outer ends of their territory, the tribe tolerates it but remains to hunt down anyone that diverts from the path and ventures further inwards. Recently the winery has served as a shipment post for goods and potions from friends of the tribe, and relations are slowly growing with the winery itself. In part to this, members of the tribe more trusting of the outside have adopted the well-known Limsan vocabulary and accent, though still defalt to their own language when in the company of each other.
Art and Dress
As with the trees, grass, and bushwork, green is favored among the Raincatchers and is their resembling color, dying it into their clothes and using it as the default for their face paint. Hunters and huntresses often wear their first furs over form-fitting leathers and tie the fangs or claws of each type of animal they hunt to their headdresses or furs to commemorate their accomplishments. Some will make jewelry of them; earrings, rings, or necklaces.
During events such as festivities, ceremonial dance is a common way to initiate and carry into its extension. Men and women sport variously colored clothes: spotted, patterned, or embroidered with gems, bones, or biast scales. Headdresses and moccasins are adorned with colorful Zu feathers.
Similar to their jewelry, Raincatcher tattoos trend towards simple designs with deeper meanings, though one in particular stands out as the trademark symbol of the Raincatchers- that of a Jaguar standing on his hinds in front of the sun, paws lifted high as though to strike down the serpent about to lash at it. It is testament to their responsibility and given to every member upon their coming of age. Also, every member is received a mark along their shoulder, upper arm, or leg on the same day, and from then on for every successful hunt a mark is given there next to the former. The head hunter or huntress will most often bear the most of these tallies and sport a certain design across their face, highlighted in a deep green.