Thursday, August 9, 2018

EverQuest 2: Unfinished Stories Part 2a

This post is going to be much longer than normal and I am going to split it up since I am not finished my play running of parts of the quest series, but I still wanted to keep with my Wednesday post.

When EverQuest 2 was released on November 9, 2004 most of the playable races were already playable in some form in the original EverQuest except for one and that race is the Ratonga.

One thing to note about this post is that I will be going chronologically going from what we knew at the beginning of EverQuest 2 to what we know now and why the Ratonga are an unfinished Story. 

Any text that is italicized has been taken from in game text. 

The Ratonga race was originally introduced as and Evil Race found in the City of Freeport. When creating a Ratonga character the information you were given stated - The Ratonga are agile, crafty and surprisingly charismatic. Little is known of their past. They are keenly perceptive and highly intelligent, but tend to be selfish and manipulative. 

At the start this is all we know of the Ratonga Race, later on we find a Quest series called The History of the Ratonga which unlocks a book for us. 

The History of Ratonga 

Through my own experiences, I have gained knowledge and insight into the ratonga.

Each part of this history tome can only be completed in its own time. 

Story 1 

Since the world is changed and we come to live on the surface, some traditions may be lost. May you learn the ratonga ways and keep them. Many are the grains of sand in the desert and also many are the years of the ratonga. Long did we dwell in the hidden places of the world, in the hidden places of the heart. Listen now, my children, draw close to hear our story, our song.

In the long-ago when the shape of the world was different, we first awoke in the darkness. See our hands? They are thin and quick and more agile than the hands of any other. See our whiskers? They take the measure of the air and the thoughts of others.

There are many paths to the light, but few that lead back into the darkness. Many are those of the surface that fear the dark, but if they could see what we see in the light, they would fear that as well. Light creates shadows. Without light, there is no dark. 

In the darkness, the Ancient of ratonga whom we call Belaska was pursued by her enemies and they caught her. She kept her fur combed and clean and slipped from their grasp, but they clung to her and would not let go. She found a small tunnel and fled into it.

Still her enemies grasped at her, pulling and pulling as Belaska twisted and clung to the sides of the tunnel. She was stronger than her enemy and pulled herself free, but her enemies' hands had stripped the luxurious fur from her tail. And that is why the ratonga tail has but fine silken hairs and not fur. Run combs of ivory and bone through your fur often and you will live long. 

Story 2  

The worlds above change as the bright sun rises and sets. Over and again, the days of the overworld come and go. Feel the rhythm of their days, through light, then half-light, then dark and half-light again. And while the overworld had its rhythm, so too had we our own. 

For is not all life of a rhythm? That is why we dance, all who breathe and know that they live will dance to music, such beautiful and haunting music. It is soft and gentle. It is hard and fast. It throbs like the pulse along the tenderest length of the neck. Listen to the rhythms, children. Listen!

Those of the overworld cannot hear the music, do not feel the rhythms as we can. And in those half-beats where they are unaware, we are keeping count. Pulse for pulse, when the rhythm is in your blood and heart, it gives you speed and grace. It gives you stealth.

That is why there is the Dance of the Ancient, my children. When the rhythms of the light and dark have spun past the world, young ratonga gather before their tribes to dance. Those whose steps are most airy and graceful are taken and trained in the Ways of Belaska, of which we will say no more. 

There is a leader among them who feels the rhythms, however, and it is to this leader that we are drawn. For around him he gathers power and prestige, and those who value these things value possessions of the world as well. They hoard their treasures, and we have seen them. 

Story 3 

Know then, that we lived many seasons of the overworld in the dark places and we danced many times over the Dance of the Ancient before the people of the overworld first knew us. They do not think as we do. They do not feel the rhythms around them. And so we watched.

In one of the many wars of the overworld, our help we granted to the leader with prestige. Through many of our secret paths (though not all) did we lead them to their victory. And in thanks, their leader gave us a patch of the overland upon which to build homes such as theirs. 

Our feet are ever on the ground and we feel its rhythms though the overworlders feel it not. And so, they trembled and cried when the rocks split and the waters churned, for they did not know it would happen. We knew and we changed our rhythm to match. In our many long lives, our places in the dark often change and shift. It gives us purpose, to anticipate what may yet be. We feel the changes and we change with them. Look at our tails! 

Now, many of the old paths are shut and many new ones are open and we have seen them. With our delicate fingers we have touched the secret centers of the world and felt its pulse. Though it may always change its shape, its pulse is known to us.  

Changes come with the shifting of the worlds. Learn the rhythm of the new world around us, but never forget the ways of our past. While we are now in the overworld, our feet still touch the ground. Sit in the open spaces of the overworld now and touch the sky as well. 

So from this book we learn that the Ratonga were originally a subterranean race and that they had fled from their enemies. We also learn that they helped Lucan D’lear lead the Freeport Militia thru tunnels during the Age of War and were given a place in Freeport for their help.

What is also mentioned is Belaska, now whether this person was just a ancestor leader of the Ratonga or a Goddess or Demi-Goddes we are not really sure of. There is another quest called Dance of the Ancient which gives us a little more background but does not really answer any question regarding Belaska.  

The Dance of the Ancient

The Dance of the Ancient is a tradition among the ratonga that they trace back to an ancestor named Belaska the Ancient. Is there more to the stories of the Ancient than the ratonga let on?

In the days when the ratonga lived below, they held gatherings several times a season. At the end of each of these gatherings, the young ratonga joined in the Dance of the Ancient. The story told is that it represents the pursuit of the Ancient, Belaska and how she evaded those who chased her.
Cheska could not wait for the Dance of Ancients. She walked always on the tips of her toes, graceful and swaying. She knew that only the best dancers would be selected for the secret rites that went back to the days they lived under the ground. She knew they would pick her.  

Whenever anyone teased her for walking on her tiptoes, Cheska would retort, "I must practice for the Dance of the Ancient." Everyone knew what Cheska hoped for, and they would wish her well. Some seasons, no one was selected at all to learn the Ways of Belaska. Some seasons, only one or two were chosen. Cheska wanted to be chosen.
The morning of the Dance dawned bright and clear. Though they had lived in burroughs just outside Freeport for several seasons now, the ratonga retreated now to darker places to perform the Dance. All through the morning, Cheska twirled on her toes, dipping and swaying gracefully, her arms arched perfectly before her, fingertips barely touching.

There was no music for the Dance. Not since the time the orcs came through the Commonlands and slaughtered an entire tribe. The ratongas cursed the orcs, but they also learned a lesson. Under the ground, sounds echoed so that their origins were hard to trace. Beneath the open sky, sounds were easier to track.

Cheska joined the line of ratonga girls formed for the Dance. At the nod from the elder, her head snapped back and her dark eyes glittered with pride. "This is my Dance," Cheska thought. She swooped along gracefully, twirling higher than she had before and bending lower than the other girls. 

As the lines continued the Dance, the elders sat watching them, conferring by the simple twitching of their whiskers. Cheska stood even straighter, her smile even more dazzling as the girls' line spun before the elders. They simply had to choose her, she was dancing better than she ever had before. 

On their next turning, the girl immediately in front of Cheska skipped a step, breaking the rhythm and faltering as she tried to return to the proper Dance steps. Cheska's concentration was broken. "Left foot, left foot, glide...glide..." she murmured to the other girl, who smiled her thanks as she returned to the flowing movements.
The elders rose. Cheska's heart pounded; they were choosing now! The elders picked five boys and three girls. They did not pick Cheska. She held herself up proudly gritting her teeth to congratulate the ones selected to learn the Ways. There would be other Dances, but she would never dance again.
One of the elders called her aside and said, "Cheska, we would have chosen you, failed us." At Cheska's puzzled look, he said, "To be ratonga, is to save yourself. You tried to save that girl. The ratonga will only survive on the surface if we think of ourselves. Remember that." Cheska simply nodded. It was a lesson she would never forget. 

Now during the original game there was a world event that introduced the Roekillik these use the same model as the Rotonga but are all smaller and have white fur.
I did manage to find the lore that was released when this event originally took place and include it here.
Roekillik - Investing in the Future

"How much?"
"For the entire operation?" Even as Ashargru spoke, his greedy mind calculated the profit he could make. The buyers seemed impatient, though not desperate. Not yet, anyway. He had put them off for a week, but they had returned and were much more insistent. Ashargru named a figure 35 percent above the current market value of the mine. If they declined to pay that much, he could accept less and still come out ahead.  

"Done. Coins will be delivered directly to bank. You would not carry so much; is very heavy. 

Grunting, Ashargru said, "I will take a partial payment now, if you don't mind. This mine is my only source of income; I cannot risk total loss on the words of a rat."  

The buyer's red eyes narrowed, but he said nothing to Ashargru. As he affixed dark spectacles to the bridge of his nose, the buyer gave instructions to his assistants to make sure that a partial payment found its way into seller's paws within the hour.

Even a partial payment would be sufficient, thought Ashargru. The mines had never been profitable through the many long seasons he had owned them. Once, these mines had easily produced a fine copper ore that was used in weaponry as well as decorative pieces. Now, tunnels had to be dug deeper and deeper to reach the grey-green outcroppings of such rock. It cost more to locate the copper than the copper made on the open market. Ashargru feared ruin if he could not find a way to unload the mine, sooner rather than later. 

Only two weeks ago, a handful of little white rat-folk appeared, asking questions about the soil, the conditions and the mine's depth. He'd seen ratonga before, but not little rats like these. They reminded him of stories of rat-folk that had lived in Norrath long before ratonga first appeared. Stories he had not heard or thought of since he was a child. 

Whatever they were, the main thing was that they were willing to pay for the mine. Ashargru could retire and need never set foot below ground again. The rat-folk whispered excitedly amongst themselves, scurrying to and fro. Whatever else they might be, most of them were excitable and edgy. Every so often, they stopped running around to gawk at their surroundings as though overwhelmed.

"Don't you like mining?" Ashargru asked one that paused nearby. "I thought you rat-folk hated going above ground?" 

The little white rat jumped nervously and skittered sideways before responding. "Yes, yes, we do not like it outside. The mine is very big, though. Much ground to uncover."

Another white rat paused beside them, rapidly combing its whiskers. "It must be found before the wing…" 

Immediately the first white rat began chittering excitedly, drowning out the comments of the second rat. Ashargru frowned. "The wing? The wing of what?" 

"Is nothing," said the first rat, clearing its throat and aiming a kick at his comrade. "He means the Wheel. Always searching for the Wheel, we are." 

Grumbling, Ashargru pulled on his scuffed leather overcoat. "Bah!" he growled, "I'll be glad enough to see the last of this place, wheels or wings or not. Where's my payment?" 

"It is here," hissed a voice so dry that Ashargru's spine charged with electricity. He turned slowly to see a dark shape looming over him, much taller and broader than the little white rats. In fact, he realized suddenly that the rats had scampered off and he was alone now with whatever the mine's darkness held. 

As he turned to flee, he felt its jagged claws raking through him, stripping away his greed, his fear and his life
One thing to note in the story is where he mention stories of Rat-folk before the Ratonga appeared. This might be referring to the Chetari which could be found in the original EverQuest in the Dragon Necropolis on the continent of Velious.

Running thru the quest you find that the Roekillik were simply hired by the Drakota to find some artifacts. No further mention is made of them again so we are left to assume the Roekillik are just an offshoot of the Ratonga or vice versa.

I'm going to end the post her since it's probably quite long already and I still have a number of quests to run and go lore to go over.


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