"I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death. The blood-cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute. Alone."
Hiywan's Story gives the First Slayer back her voice, and allows us to hear her story in her own words for the first time.
Book One covers her childhood, and comprises eight chapters in total. (Each chapter is approximately 3,000 words.) They are linked here:
The story takes place in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa at the end of the Mesolithic Era (or Middle Stone Age), approximately 8-10,000 years ago. Story rating is 12 (PG-13).
A full list of characters in Book One is below the cut.
I've also written some stand-alone stories linked to this one and part of the same continuity. Note that they're set after the end of Hiywan's Story, and as such contain spoilers for the main fic:
Blood, Some of It Mine
Last To Ancient First
I Am Destruction
These two essays give more background detail on Hiywan's people and the world she lives in:
A Day In The Life of the Five Trees Clan
Rites of Passage
The Five Trees Clan - a group of approximately 40 adults and a similar number of children, who live a semi-nomadic life as hunter-gatherers.
Hiywan - the protagonist and narrator of our story. To future generations she will be known as Sineya, the First Slayer, but for now, she's just a girl.
Hiywan's Mother and Father, who love their eldest daughter dearly but find her baffling and a source of endless worry. 'Note: 'Father' is a modern interpretation; the word in Hiywan's language translates literally as 'Mother's husband').
Biftu - Hiywan's younger sister.
Haset - Hiywan's youngest sister, born in Chapter Two.
Esyete - Hiywan's cousin and best friend. The two girls were born the same year and were inseparable as children.
Samwarit - Esyete's mother (and Hiywan's aunt - her mother's sister).
Assefe - a boy of the clan, the same approximate age as Hiywan.
Melesse - another boy of the clan.
Tilahun - yet another boy.
Rada - Melesse's father. A hunter of the clan.
Kassa - Rada's brother, Melesse's uncle. Another hunter.
Fekadu - an experienced hunter who teaches Hiywan how to kill and prepare deer.
Degu - another hunter of the clan.
Nataye - a skilled artist and creator of cave paintings
Amare - the man in charge of butchering and tanning for the clan
Teshome - a man of the clan
Belaye - the chieftain of the Five Trees Clan, charged with upholding its laws and dealing with outsiders.
Ariam - the headwoman of the Five Trees Clan and Belaye's wife. Keeper of its sacred flame.
Heran - the oldest member of the clan and guardian of its ancient lore. Hiywan addresses her as 'Grandmother'; this is a title of respect, not an actual relationship.
Mekde - daughter of Ariam who tends the clan's sacred fire
Adamu - legendary founder of the Five Trees Clan, who brought them the gift of fire.
The Red Earth Clan - neighbours of the Five Trees Clan. Hiywan's father came from this clan before he married her mother.
Belatiuw - an ancient and much-respected woman of the Red Earth Clan.
Misgana - a shy young woman.
The Lion's Tooth Clan - another neighbouring people.
Kelile - a sour and sharp-tongued but wise woman of the Lion's Tooth clan.
Haymanot - a young woman, a few years older than Hiywan, who is Kelile's ward and becomes Hiywan's friend.
Seble - an attractive but vain young man.
The Silver Moon Clan - a more distant people, little-known to Hiywan's clan
Senayit - a wise, motherly woman of middle years.
Nightwalkers - the name Hiywan's people give to vampires.
Gods and Spirits
Tiruneh, the Great Good One - the Great Spirit and creator of the world.
Tsehay, the Burning Warrior - patron spirit of men, fire, sky and death. Created by Tiruneh, husband of Serkalem, father of all the good spirits and mortal races. His symbol is the cross.
Serkalem, the Always-Living - patron spirit of women, water, earth and life. Created by Tiruneh, wife of Tsehay, mother of all the good spirits and mortal races. Her symbol is the circle.
Qasafi, the Destroyer - a spirit of destruction, absolute and alone. Created by Tiruneh, but feared even by the Gods. Qasafi's name is rarely spoken aloud; instead It is referred to by the title 'Teferi' meaning 'The Feared One'.
Each clan of the People controls its own traditional territory. They meet on a regular but infrequent basis with neighbouring clans; normally this is an excuse for trade, celebration and marriages, but feuds and raiding are not entirely unknown. There are also many other dangers threatening them; both natural perils such as wild animals and demonic foes that prey on them in the night.
The clans are matrilineal and exogamous. Membership in the Five Trees is passed from a mother to her daughter, and from a wife to her husband. This means that when a son reaches adulthood, he is expected to go away and seek a wife from another clan, joining them and only seeing his own parents again on infrequent trading visits. Daughters of the Five Trees, meanwhile, take husbands from those same clans and adopt them into the Five Trees. Marrying someone from your own clan, even if they're not an actual blood relative, is considered incest. Incidentally, Hiywan's people are aware that women without a (male) sexual partner don't usually become pregnant, but they haven't worked out the exact mechanics of this. The sun shines and the rain falls, and then fresh greenery blossoms on the earth; if the rains fail to come, the ground eventually becomes arid and bare. They assume it works the same way for people.
Average life expectancy for the clan is no more than 25-30 years. That doesn't mean that they aren't capable of living to 60 or 70 years old: it means that over a third of their children die before the age of five, men die in hunting accidents and women die in childbirth. One year in seven is a famine year when the rains don't come and the weak or sick die; but during the good years, the living is easy and many babies are born to make up the numbers again. (This does mean there tend to be clusters of children all the same age, then a gap before the next generation). Hiywan's people eat a balanced high-protein diet and engage in plenty of physical exercise due to their lifestyle, so they are all very healthy by modern standards - the downside of this is that if they do fall ill or suffer a serious accident, their chance of recovery or even survival is limited.
The Five Trees are semi-nomadic; they tend to settle in one place for as little as a few weeks up to as much as a year or more, depending on how rich the local resources are, then move on. Over several years they will therefore make a circuit of their entire territory. They build large shelters out of wood, stone and earth or make use of natural caves to live in. This is a communal lifestyle, and the concept of privacy is largely unknown to them (although they do wear clothes, and staring is considered impolite). They live by hunting and gathering; the work is usually divided along gender lines. Women gather plants while staying close to the clan's campsite to look after the younger children; the men go further afield to hunt prey.
As far as technology goes, they use fire but haven't learned how to kindle it from nothing. Their flint spears and axes are masterpieces of craftsmanship; they also make tools of bone and wood, leather and woven grass. Metal is unknown to them. They haven't discovered the bow and arrow, but that's due more to chance and the lack of suitable wood than any technological deficiency. Agriculture and domesticating animals are unknown concepts to them, although their legends do tell of heroes who raised wolves from cubs to be their companions.
The clans believe in magic as a gift of the Spirits, and it's certainly possible that some of them have genuine talent; but their knowledge is mixed up with a lot of primitive science, folklore and downright misinformation and mythology.