- Esrapu – the Purity Laws
“Who knows not the laws of our people? Babes in arms, the Onkesra! That is all. From the time you walk, you must follow Esrapu, you must be Esra. But, we are the Zinka Kekua, and while the Esrapu of the Dabus is good and wise for them, out here in our lands, we must have our own. Now, we teach our babes the laws through stories and songs. But you, Kiru’Ten, are no babe, and so I will tell you, quick and strong, what needs to be known. Listen.
Esrapu governs all life. To have Esrapu, is not just to follow rules. It is to know, understand, and be willing to follow them. You can do that? Hah! How ‘bout you listen first?”
- Old Mother Ganjuru
The main laws are of Bonding, Babes, Consumption, Majick, Hamaji, and Life.
Bonding is the Kekuan form of marriage. It is their most sacred relationship, and the center of life. In all Packs, the Pair Bond is the heart, and is in most cases, a pack’s reason for being, for it is only in the Bond, that babes are allowed. The relationships within and between Kekuan Packs are complex, as an individual is defined first, by the Pack, second by their family, and third, by their connection to the land. All of these are considered by the Mothers of each Pack, before Bonding is arranged. Generally, it is only with the blessing of the Mother of Pack, that one may leave to find a Bond Partner, and if not, then such a Pair may be considered to have lost Esrapu, and will not be recognized, hence losing any chance of forming a Pack. While possible to mate, it is forbidden for any others of the Esra Clans to Bond with a Kekua.
Kekuan women produce eggs only in times of abundance, and good health, which is usually during the Gatherings of rain, or flood, such as the great Shomla (Flood of the Shom River). Many do not survive for long, however. There are many signs that indicate that an egg or newly hatched is tainted. Particular colourings or shapes on the shells, or babes that can not break open their own shells, are considered too sickly, or tainted, and so are left to die inside. Mutation is also a major sign, but the treatment of these babes differs among the regional packs, as of course, the packs themselves have widely differing appearances. Generally, the Kekua are more accepting of mutations than the other Clans, as long as the babe is able to grow up strong and capable.
Many foods found in the lands of the Zinka are forbidden, on the grounds that they are ‘impure’. Mostly, this is common sense, for they might contain toxins or diseases, such as the Jalung root( similar in appearance from the delicious Nung root) which rots the belly and fills it with maggots. Others, are suspected of storing traces of bad majick, which corrupt the mind. The Hestra bird, however, is sacred to the Zinka. On the rare sightings, the pack will always sing a prayer to the ancestors.
While according to the Dabus’ Esrapu, all majick is forbidden, the Kekua are more practical. They despise the use of most majicks that they see are dangerous, especially those that clearly warp the natural laws of Orea. But those majicks that they believe come as gifts from Orea herself are more accepted. They are still not Esrapu, and no openly practicing Kekua would be welcome within a Pack. However there do exist, outside of the Packs, the Hamaji, small conclaves of Kekuan seers, who are occasionally petitioned for knowledge in times of trouble.
Called Zanni among the other Esra, the Hamaji are those Kekua who have been touched by Majick. Zanni are treated very differently among the Clans, some being killed outright, banished as Onkesra, or Tattooed by the Dabus. A secret of the Kekua, the Hamaji are given a different place, both within and outside of society. As a Hamaji, all pack, family and land ties are severed, and they become as ghosts, feared and respected. Often horribly mutated, if they survive the hatching, Hamaji are given to the nearest conclave to raise and teach the Ways. In rare times of need, such as war, a Mother of Pack may call upon the conclave closest to their lands.
There are many other small ways in which Esrapu affects the life of the Zinka Kekua. The body is considered sacred and whole, and it is vital that it stays so. To separate parts of the body, is to open it to Chaos and Death. Nail cuttings, or fallen feathers, must be burnt. No bodily trophies of other enemies may be taken, as a sign of respect. And in death, which is believed to be a Returning to Orea, the body is given back without trappings of life, to the Place. Among other Kekua, the body is burned, but the Zinka offer their bodies to the Hestra birds, who always know to come to the Place when it is time.