The Eshu (EE-shoo) are born of the dreams of the Middle East and Africa; they are wanderers and storytellers, and have no peers as navigators in the Dreaming. They are also incorrigible risk-takers, unable to resist a dare or wager if they feel they might succeed, no matter the danger. These things all give them a reputation for being unreliable, but few kithain would refuse them a place at the table to hear their stories of far off lands.
- 1 History
- 2 The 20th Century
- 3 Culture
- 4 The Whole Wide World
- 5 Eminent Elegbara
- 6 Eshu Treasures
- 7 References
- 8 Gallery
History[edit | edit source]
The Eshu were the First and they will be the Last... and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Mythic Age[edit | edit source]
The Sidhe would like everyone to believe they were there in the beginning but it's not true. How do the Eshu know? Because They were there, looking over the whole world, and didn't see a single one. It was many years before they had any company at all.
In the beginning was Olorun, the Owner of the Sky, and he looked down from his palace and saw the emptiness of the world which was only sky, and void, and water. So he sent his younger son, Obatala, the maker, to fashion the world and fill it with all manner of creatures. He had his older son, Orunmila, the diviner, fashion it so that it ran smoothly and that those who practiced the magic of the future could glimpse its functioning. When all that was done, Olorun sent Eshu, his linguist and messenger, to go down and start collecting sacrifices for him in return for having made everything possible.
Eshu, who had authority over roads and gateways, was only too glad to do so and he loved to cause mischief for those who didn't give him the proper respect. He was neither good nor evil but only himself; playing tricks because it was his way. The good learned, the wicked suffered, but even that didn't matter to Eshu because he was just a servant of Olorun and he was happy with that.
As Eshu travelled he sired children (that's his way too) and while they were only partly divine, they shared their father's laughter and view of the world as well as some of his power. Restless souls they, too, took to the roads to find their father; bringing chance and adventure as the went. Some wanted to be like Eshu and so they taught and punished and explored. They were the first of the Ojo: The followers of life, daylight, and destiny. One might consider them Seelie. Others were mad at their father for leaving them and so they stole, told lies, and played mean tricks on people. They became the Iku: The followers of death, darkness, and randomness. One might consider them Unseelie. There were so many of these children that people began to think of them as Eshu himself and started worshipping them instead of Eshu himself.
Of course Eshu heard of all this and was full of anger that his name had been stolen and so came to the world to investigate. When he saw what his children were doing, though, he laughed and forgot his wrath. His children had learned their lessons well and if the humans had tricked themselves, well, that was their problem. But he had to punish his children some way because they still had stolen his name, wickedly or not. If he didn't, why, then all the names of creation could be stolen and everything would be returned to emptiness.
He thought for days and nights until he had the punishment just right, then called all his children to him. One group of them, though, fearing punishment, fled into hiding and preyed upon the weak to keep themselves alive. These cowards became the first Aithu. They didn't hear the words of Eshu. And what did Eshu tell his children? A great and powerful secret, the first hidden lore the Tribe was entrusted to keep. From that day forward they became the Elegbara, the chosen children of Elegba Eshu the Powerful Knife, keepers of his sacred places and his messengers to the world. He solemnly commended them to follow his footsteps well; wandering the roads, learning secrets, and testing those they came across. And with that he blessed them and kissed each one to seal his magic in them, then flew into the sky laughing.
While a few of the Elegbara stayed together to speak of the matters that concerned them all, most scattered again. There was too much to see and do to rest and think of such things. They sought the edge of the world. Fantastic tales began following them because they feared nothing and took any risk offered them, and the tales of Eshu and his deeds are bigger and wilder. The few who stayed became rulers of their lands, bonding with them, learning their secrets, and tending the sacred places. These guardians still remain, watching over the Tribe, keeping the hearth fires burning. They alone remain true to the pure bloodline of Eshu and sacrificed their freedom on the trails to preserve the heritage of the Eshu. These are the Oba.
So what, you may be asking, was their punishment? Eshu got his children to do his job for him and to enjoy it. Isn't he clever?
The Sundering[edit | edit source]
Unfortunately nothing stays perfect forever. The Elegbara travelled far and saw much but the humans were learning too, especially to fear the Elegbara, envy their gifts, and desire their power. They developed ever greater weapons and clever tools as they turned the world against the Eshu. Cities grew more marvelous, customs more intricate, works more impressive, but the motives were tainted. The Eshu were busy teaching and forgot to learn and when the Dreaming started separating from the world of flesh, what is known as the Sundering, it caught them completely off-guard. Some of the trails the Eshu used, the trods, became harder to travel. The distance between worlds frightened them, which was new since travel had always been a gift. They hadn't trusted their own Ifa (Divinations) or seen the signs. They were too distracted. It can't all be blamed on Elegbara nearsightedness, however. During their travels, they wondered while they wandered if they were the only ones or if other orishas, like Eshu, had sired children. And then they met the other fae. It was good to meet others who understood something of their life plus some even seemed to understand life the same way. Others couldn't shake the prejudices of their mortal kin and instantly disliked them. It would be wrong to say the Eshu didn't at times return that prejudice but they had seen a lot by this time to get wrapped up in such pettiness. They usually tried to stay above it and some of the Kithain thought them arrogant and aloof because of it. The Eshu didn't care and just kept telling their stories and teaching their ways so the others would understand them.
The fact that the Eshu did consider the other fae mostly barbarians didn't help matters. They were, though, years if not decades ahead of them in some ways, especially in the thought and sciences of their homelands that hadn't yet reached Europe. Eventually, though, the Eshu did come to appreciate the Ile-Titu, the pale folk, and even made them part of their family.
It was crossing the seas to the Sidhe homeland, however, that really changed things.
- Meeting the Sidhe - The first meeting with the Sidhe didn't go as well as it could have. The Eshu were allowed into their halls and they listened to their words of friendship and diplomacy, which the Elegbara respected, but it was obvious that the Sidhe did not consider them as equals but only as another tribe that would bow to them. Of course the Eshu had already heard tales of the Sidhe from the others who had been swayed by their majesty and beauty. The Eshu, however, were already used to the beauty and majesty of their own Oba and were not swayed. Their pretty words and slick tongues, also, were no use as the Eshu have those themselves. Their warriors didn't sway the Elegbara either as they went with their own greatest and bravest. The talks faltered as the Sidhe realized their usual tactics were failing and they had to find new ways to control these strange fae. The Eshu had to get over their initial dislike and find diplomatic ways to get them to recognize their own titles and such. Maybe things would have been better if the Sidhe hadn't tried to control and the Eshu hadn't been prickly about their honor. Either way relationships today can happen between the two Kiths but it takes a lot of testing and questioning. In the end, it turned bad. Demands were made, swords were drawn, and blood was shed. The Eshu left resolved never to submit to their authority. Of course, word spread among the other Kiths. The Eshu had stood up to the Sidhe and survived. Some looked on the Elegbara with suspicion, others applauded (behind closed doors). The balance of power shifted and the Shining Host didn't like it one bit and so they denied that all fae are children of the orishas with the power to grasp their own destinies. They sent messengers far and wide to spread slander against the Eshu: They were evil tricksters, honorless bandits, and shiftless aliens; outsiders who couldn't be trusted. In other words, instead of battle, they used the Eshu's tricks against them and most of the other fae accepted the slander, either out of loyalty or fear. The Crusades didn't help either as the Eshu protected their kin. And all the Elegbara could do was continue to tell their own stories in retaliation. They even made some headway before the world turned again.
The Shattering[edit | edit source]
The Eshu saw the Shattering coming before the rest because they had learned the lessons of the Sundering and trusted their Ifa more. Of course the rest of the tribes, because of the Sidhe smear campaign, refused to listen. The Eshu were saddened by the whole thing and the fear in the mortals' hearts. There was, perhaps, a little satisfaction, though, when the Sidhe ran for Arcadia, but their callous destruction of the other tribes who stood in their way as they did it angered the Eshu. They don't regret that the other tribes got to see the Sidhe for what they were but the loss of life was terrible.
- The Changeling Way - At this point you may be saying to yourself "wait a minute, I thought the history said the Eshu were already half human? I mean, Eshu had them with mortal women. Didn't they already have mortal disguise?" Well, yes Eshu did that and they could use that heritage to appear human when they wanted to do so. But they weren't human. They were basically demigods. Current Eshu call them orishas and they were more than today's Eshu the way a human is more than an ant. Just like the Tuatha De Danaan compared to the Sidhe. Because they had looked like humans at times made it easier to do the Changeling Way ritual and their experiences among mortals made them good at figuring out how to do the human thing. That doesn't mean it wasn't a long and painful process to get used to it.
The Interregnum[edit | edit source]
While Europe fell into panic and despair with the Black Death, the homelands of the Eshu actually saw a minor period of Enlightenment. At the same time the Oba could no longer rule over mortals directly but the could become myths and models for future leaders rather than actual leaders. The stories of the Elegbara became folktales and proverbs, teaching without bearing testimony to their existence. Such is the price of disguise.
In time a few of the other tribes sought them out. Few apologies were made but the Eshu were okay with that because of how they had suffered under their former, treacherous leaders. There was enough ill-will around without stirring up more. The first motleys formed, providing support across tribal bounds. Freeholds, the few possible, created space for all to share and the wise agemo among the Elegbara gathered those who knew their ways and supported them. Faerie society remained and a little hope even returned.
- Age of Exploration - Maybe it was running away from their problems, but shortly after all the death and plague the mortals turned their sights to the horizon, seeking adventure, discovery, and wealth. While current historians may see the time as a mixed bag, and with cause, it was a thrilling time to be an Eshu. Reeling from the Shattering, it gave them a way to regain some of their former glory: tossing seas, mysterious shores, strange cultures, terrible odds. Best, most captains didn't care about your color or creed as long as you kept the boat afloat. This mixing freely was just what the dreaming tribes needed. Some of the fae believed this distant land across the sea, this Tir-na-N'og, would be free of Banality. Others saw it as a place of peace far away from the feuds of Europa. Others just wanted adventure. Whatever was going on, it was in everyone's dreams and the Eshu basked in the Glamour of it all, nearly drunk on it. Some ships that set off were entirely crewed by Kithain, sailing the Dreaming and the mortal seas. These became the basis of "ghost ship" legends. Some carried adventures. Others carried settlers. Most had an Eshu Captain or at least a majority crew. Of course, not all of the Eshu chose such reputable trades. Many also became pirates or privateers and it was their flair for the dramatic, as often as their victories, that bolstered their legends. Carousing with rowdy Satyrs while trading tales with Pooka in ale-houses (with a trusty Troll first mate on the ship), and crossing swords and trading quips with Redcaps and Nockers were de rigour. So was thumbing your nose at mortal navies. It was a great time to be an Eshu. There are even today, in the Fiefs of Bright Paradise, pirates real and chimerical and many of them are Eshu. The self proclaimed Pirate Queen of the Region is Hanna "Dark Tide" Alawe, an Eshu of cutlass skill and strong Ifa that keeps her one step ahead of all trying to catch her.
- The Triangle Trade - This is obviously a painful part of Eshu history. Slavery is an old human invention and some wicked fae have practiced stealing mortals to use as slaves in their Ile-Igbo and then throwing them away when they were no longer useful. The experience of it, though, pales in comparison: brutal raids, humiliating auctions, terrifying voyages, surviving only to die in a foreign land. Many Eshu were lost with their kin. If the iron manacles favored by slavers didn't kill them outright, being cut off from their freedom left them as good as dead anyway, in mind if not body. One thing the Eshu are sure of, though, is that none of them were ever slavers. That may sound convenient and trite but such an act is absolutely antithetical to their nature. To trade in slaves, taking freedom from another, would have undone one of them in days from the Banality of it. It is perhaps the greatest violation of Uhuru (Freedom) there is. So why did it continue in their lands when the Elegbara were so opposed to it? There were too many greedy people (fae and human alike) and too few of them. However, a worldwide group of Eshu was formed, known as the Freedom Swords, to try and end the practice. They fought, and still fight, in secrecy, and legends of their cunning ruses, daring rescues, and midnight raids are the Eshu equivalent of the Robin Hood of the Ile-Titu.
- The Industrial Revolution - The Eshu have little use for technology so they tended to avoid factories and assembly lines, focusing, instead, on continued exploration just beyond the fringes of mortal habitation. They tried to help the Nunnehi, who suffered much like their own kin, but the indigenous fae were deeply scarred and most asked them to leave without hearing the Eshu out. The westward expansion was very different from that which crossed the ocean. It made mortals grim and humorless and this puzzled the Elegbara. The one industrial innovation that captured the Eshu was transportation: steam engines, locomotives, automobiles, and even early attempts at flight. These wonders divided the Tribe. The Ojo preferred to walk, or use a mount when pressed, as was custom, while the Iku loved the devices and mastered them, creating bonds with the Nockers that last to this day. The Glamour from the dreams of such things, though, was welcome to the Eshu as a whole.
The 20th Century[edit | edit source]
The 20th Century was a confusing time. Ifa were muddled and confused as the future swirled uncertainly. Humanity was reaching a boiling point in technology and science and numbers and it was going to boil over. The Eshu soaked up the wildness of the 20s, battled evil in World War II, hit the road in the 50s with the beatniks and the hippies in the 60s, and celebrated democracy in the 80s. Humanity proved itself capable of great evil but great achievement as well. In 1969 they watched the Moon Landing with the same awe as the rest and thought maybe things would turn out alright after all. They didn't know their old rivals the Sidhe were coming back.
The Resurgence[edit | edit source]
When the Shining Host flooded back through the gates of Ilesha, all fae stood transfixed: the other tribes with fear and wonder, the Eshu with anger and sadness for they feared what was to come. Over the last 600 years they had built ties with the other tribes and kept faerie society from destruction. The fae had formed bonds of family. Democracy had flourished with every generation more egalitarian than the last. They knew the Sidhe would destroy all of that in a moment.
The Accordance War[edit | edit source]
During the Accordance War, the Eshu did exactly what you would expect. They acted as ambassadors and diplomats: suing for peace in back rooms and audience chambers, trying to help them see that the world was different now and couldn't go back. When that failed, they were scouts, skirmishers, and assassins. Their impassioned speeches stirred the commoners to resistance and their flashing cutlasses assured them they were willing to back words with deeds. When the war grew darker they joined the now-legendary "suicide squads," like Oklahoma's Thirteenth Brigade, Jersey's Storm Crows, and the Wolfpack. The Elegbara fought with passion knowing that Dream Lord rule could only mean the oppression and distrust of the past.
True, some of them fought for the Sidhe, mainly Ojo who believed it was the will of the orishas that the Sidhe had returned to rule, but most fought them to their last breath, Ojo and Iku alike. While they understand why some of the loyalists of the other tribes supported the Sidhe, they wished the other tribes had had the courage to see they didn't need the Sidhe. The world would be much different now.
- The High King - Then High King David Ardry took the throne and most Eshu figured he' be just another Sidhe with contempt for them and the rest of the tribes. And then he didn't do that. He made good his promises to create the Parliament of Dreams and to give amnesty to the commoners captured during the War and dozens of other promises. He even went against his fellow Sidhe in this. He made the new Kingdom of Concordia indeed a place of concord. If anyone was untrustworthy it was the Eshu who studied every word for trickery on his part. While the Eshu may never trust the Sidhe as a whole, David had their support.
The Lost King[edit | edit source]
The Eshu actually saw the disappearance through their Ifa before anyone else. It was Kotoyesi, Ruler of the Kingdom of Ife, who had the vision of the high King disappearing in a cloud of blackness and Concordia pitched into chaos, spreading a blood-red stain across the world. Kingdoms feel to steel and fire and a wolf with the moon in its jaws dropped from the sky and bounded across the world and where its paws touched earth the ground became cracked and frozen. A dark star burst into life in the skies and then there was silence like death over all things.
He immediately sent his two fastest runners, Hazir and Akuko, along the fastest trods he knew while trying to reach the David by modern means as well but to no results. His runners where lost without a trace along the trods that cross the seas and his attempts to reach Tara-Nar or anywhere in concordia was met by electrical silence. When connections were finally made the High King had already disappeared and his kingdom was in uproar.
Now war comes close again. Old hatreds rekindle and the Adhene and other dark fae return to the world. Humans reach new heights and splinter further. Global harmony disappears. Is Spring coming or Endless Winter? It is a darkening time and the dawn of a new millennia... a time of unpredictability where accident and chance are the rule along with purpose and destiny.
It is the time of the Eshu at last.
Culture[edit | edit source]
So what's it like to be an Eshu?
Growing Up Eshu[edit | edit source]
Eshu come into their own in a lot of different ways depending on where they come from and how their cultures respond to people with their particular talents. Some get eased into it every step of the way with patience and wisdom. Others are dropped into it faster than they can process and struggle to make their way. Fortunately, though, Eshu have a knack for being where they need to be when they need to be there and most newly awakened Eshu get found and taught about their heritage. Of course it doesn't happen like that always but that's their story.
From Whence We Come[edit | edit source]
Eshu come from almost every racial stock, though there are some that predominate.
- Africa & the Middle East - Africa and the Middle east are the ancestral homelands of the Elegbara and most come from such heritage. Those born there have the easiest time learning who they are because many of the cultures still pay homage to the orishas and many are still kinain and on the look out for the special child. Some Eshu hear stories of their heritage all their lives, thinking it's make-believe, but it helps when the Chrysalis comes. Some may even be raised in the court of an Oba if lucky, and since the other tribes have few kin here, the Eshu can basically do what they want and teach what they want without them interfering. The Eshu born here are usually best suited for telling their history and legends and have the best sense of their ultimate purpose. Even the Iku raised here have a strong sense of the truth and meaning that underlies all things, they just chose to deny it. Many of the Tribe follow the Muslim faith here and because of it have a better sense of being responsible to a community rather than being loners.
- India - Few Eshu are born in India these days but the Oba still have some lands here, there are still a few stories told, and the Rom the Eshu share blood with originated here. The subcontinent has a lot of stress on mysticism and illusion and that suits the Eshu fine. Most born here tend to their Ojo nature and have a flair for the Arts the Eshu most practice, tending to make them wandering mystics and holy men. Some, though, fall hard into their Iku side. After all, if all reality is an illusion then nothing they do actually matters. Indian Iku tend to be some of the most devilish fae in the Tribe. Tale telling tends to be in the form of parables and riddles which, if puzzled through, can lead to enlightenment. Their Oba tend to be even more obscure but if you put the time into figuring it out, they can change your life.
- Rom - Some of the other fae think all Elegbara share blood with the Rom. They don't. The actual number is quite small as the Rom are a proud and secretive people. They were, however, the first of the Eshu to move around Europe and the Americas. The Eshu raised among the Rom, though, are some of the most clever and adaptable alive, with a real passion for the road and a knack for escaping sticky situations. They are raised to believe in magic and the dark things that go bump in the night plus they learn all sorts of folklore. The tend to make the transition to Changeling easily. Many remain close to their families to act as guardians but more are gong their own ways and joining motleys that become their families. Even those who leave that life behind don't speak of it. The bond of silence is strong. These Elegbara are also some of the greatest of liars of the Tribe and they excel at con games. They are not innately devious, though, as many prejudiced tongues would tell. They simply don't consider the non-Romani worthy of trust after all the hatred and violence they've received over the centuries. They are not good or evil. Just themselves. If you gain their trust, good for you. You'll know when you do. Until then, remember, you are an outsider.
- America & Europe - Until the last century very few Eshu were born of European descent, with the exception being the Moors in Spain who brought their learning to the barbarians and the Portuguese who shared their love of exploration. They had cousins among the Clurichaun and Piskies but they ceased to be true Elegbara long ago. With the exception of an occasional tryst or forbidden marriage, blood did not mingle much with Europeans. Then came the triangle trade and the move to the New World. Eshu kinain were dragged across the sea in chains or went there to find new horizons and escape the tyranny of old traditions. In the rush, though, many old ways and legends were lost. They found a glorious new land to explore but lost a real grasp of who they were. South America was a little better but most were hard pressed to keep traditions alive. This was especially true of those born to slaves who had their powers but not their knowledge. This is the main problem in Concordia but this has been remedied slowly. Unless one of the Tribe finds them early they tend to become the rootless vagabonds others expect them to be. On the positive side the Eshu born here tend to be fierce individualists, daring adventurers, and good at getting by. Without knowledge of their gifts, though, most manifest their storytelling as a love of folktales and urban legends while others take to con-games that they are told are their birthright. As Concordia rises in prominence, the need to find these unknowing Elegbara and teach them their heritage has become a major goal of the Tribe.
- The White Eshu Question - Despite what most people think, there are white Eshu, though they are a distinct minority. While there are races that predominate, it is ultimately the Eshu him- or herself who decides where to place their mark. They are orisha of accident and chance. Ergo, what better place to play then with genetics? There are noble, ancient families in Africa that have never had an Eshu child. There are mixed European families, though, who have birthed true in only a couple of generations. Sadly the Elegbara born white are often treated both in and out of tribe as not "True Eshu."
- Native American - There are very, very few Elegbara among the Native Americans. Though a few that exist are from later migrations, a handful are the descendants of early explorers who dared the sea by trod or ship to get to the Americas before Columbus ever did. The ones who survived found cultures agreeable to the orishas and the cultures merged over time, forming a lasting bond. Most come into their own among the Nunnehi and few realize they are any different until they meet the Tribe. They tend to share the bonds to the earth that the Nunnehi do and even call on the totems as well as the orishas to work their magic. Some even claim to walk into the Umbra as the Bete do. They tend to call on the tales in the form of tribal legends and secrets which is quite valuable in a time where ancient ways decay. They tend to leave the other Eshu alone as their Nunnehi kin don't care for them, but they are family deep down.
- Asia - The Fae of the Middle Kingdom are polite but not receptive to the Eshu. The have claimed their territory but since when has a "do not enter" sign been anything but a challenge for the Elegbara? Most of the Eshu from Asia come from the islands and the nomadic tribes of the north but there are a few of more emblematic Asian cultures. Eshu ways tend to wear on many of the other peoples of the East, though. While they approve of hospitality and Ojo ideas of honor, the wandering ways of the Tribe are viewed with suspicion, like a sign of weak character or a deep-seated tendency to troublemaking. Eshu tend to be easily noticeable by the Hsien, if not easily caught and Elegbara here quickly find ways to suppress some of their wilder tendencies, which has led no few to fall into Banality, or take up acceptable roles like performers, fishermen, or wandering monks. Most end up fleeing for freer lives elsewhere, though the wonders of Asia are worth the risk to see. Most of the Eshu here channel their gifts into writing poetry and some claim one of Eshu's Chosen invented writing in Asia long ago. Their words are surpassingly vivid and beautiful to hear.
- Australia - There is a legend that one of the original children of Eshu wandered south across the sea on a rainbow bridge following a falling star. While there's no proof this is where the Eshu among the Aborigines came from but it doesn't sound improbable. Elegbara born among the Originals (as the refer to themselves) don't tend to wander far from their shores, as if something is holding them back or they are trying to protect something, and they don't seem to be in a hurry to tell the rest of the Tribe. They are friendly with a far away look in their eyes, even more than other Eshu, as if there is somewhere else they want to be. They have strong ties to the Far and Deep Dreaming which springs, no doubt, from their ties to the Aboriginal Dreamtime, and strong ties to Uluru, the sacred site of the Originals.
Eshu's Blessings[edit | edit source]
Remember. While the Eshu cherish their kinain, respect the Kithain, and honor the orishas, they are different from them all. Eshu gave them great gifts all their own to carry out their tasks.
- Spirit Pathways - Perhaps the greater of the Eshu Birthrights, the Elegbara have a talent for always being in the right place at the right time and they are never in for a dull existence. Where the action is, there they are, or at least on their way. This doesn't mean the happiest or most pleasant place. Not the most obvious or easiest. The right place. They are always right where they are meant to be. The Ojo and Iku bicker about what this means and why it is but they both still agree it is true. The only way to fail in this, the Ojos say, is to fail a test of the orishas. The Iku say its from denying yourself what you desire. Other than that, no force in this life or beyond can stop the Eshu. It might not be where they want to be but its where they must be, even if they can't figure out why that is. They also move on when the time is right. Nothing will let them hold on things when they are destined for something else. Every new horizon means one left behind, maybe for good. All life is discovering the new and discarding the old. The Elegbara recognize this better than most. It's a hard truth at times but truth none the less.
- Uhuru - This outlook above finds expression in the philosophy of Uhuru, or Freedom. The philosophy is basically this: all beings should be allowed to pursue their destiny with only the orishas intervening as they see fit to test the worthy and damn the wicked. This freedom goes beyond the physical. The Eshu despise coercion and manipulation that tries to make someone act against their will and will respond even violently to it. Even the fae who make their living off of the gullibility of others rely on the target's free choice in taking the bait. It teaches the victim about greed while fattening the Eshu's wallet. If something is done not out of freewill it is corrupted and unworthy. To give up your freedom voluntarily is to put your destiny in the hands of others and that is more than anyone should ever demand of another. To take it from someone is the gravest of offenses, robbing a person of their essence, condemning the victim to aimlessly wandering the afterlife. Because of this even the most callous Ojo or wicked Iju refrain from slavery or kidnapping. They would rather be responsible for death of the body than of the soul. Most Elegbara, for this reason, refrain from entering into oaths, though it is not forbidden.
- Hospitality - Because of the their wandering ways, the Eshu have a long tradition of hospitality. Ancient tradition as well as Kithain Escheat demand accepting another of the Tribe in need, no matter what. Since the Elegbara are few and far between it is seldom an imposition. Unless someone is a dire enemy, it can't be refused. Since there are few others who will look out for the Eshu, they must do it for themselves or the Tribe will fall to pieces. So if someone shows up at their door, they are polite and do what they can because someday it'll be them at someone's door. While someone is in their house, the Eshu honor their requests within reason. Luckily most Eshu are self-sufficient. If a guest is harmed, the Eshu will see justice is served as if they were blood kin. They won't turn someone out unless they steal or harm a member of the household though one can let the air get chilly if someone is overstaying. An Eshu will accept reparation for damages or any freely given gift but may not demand payment. They also always try to honor the customs of their host when they are the guest and to not be a burden. They will not steal from a host, wether that be objects or the virtue of a household member, and will not bring strife or violence under the other's roof. They try to leave with as much goodwill as they bring.
- Talecraft - Though it is one of the Eshu's Birthrights, some of the other Kithain can overlook the Talecraft of the Eshu as being a significant thing. Sure it's nice to tell stores but so what? The Eshu love stories because they are stories. Don't forget that. Mortals told stories of the early Elegbara and so Eshu accepted them. Stories keep the Eshu in touch. They teach. Plus these wanderers have had to develop a way to share everything they have seen. Storytelling is mystical as well, transforming the one who tells perhaps even more than those who hear. Stories change the world. But on top of all of that, the Eshu love stories for themselves. A well told tale is its own reward and the Elegbara believe that with all their heart. In the end, they tell tales because that is who they are. (In game terms, an Eshu gets an additional experience point in any session they learn a fantastic new story or perform a tale-worthy feat. They can never botch Performance rolls.)
- History - The Elegbara also have a sacred duty to remember the lore of the tribes, both mortal and Kithain. With their knack for being in the right place at the right time they often witness great events and their outsider status, theoretically, helps them record objectively. Their travels keep the stories fresh and in the minds of the people so they don't forget past mistakes and can also be inspired by tales of greatness. While originally they kept their own tales, they have absorbed the tales of all the kithain and could even surpass the Sonponno in knowledge of the other tribes.
- Listening - One must listen to learn how a master crafts a tale and Eshu love to hear well-told tales. And they remember what they are told; keeping eyes and ears open for new trails and tales. They are fearless... ask questions... take detours... persist... and never pass up a chance to turn what they know into a story that will enrich someone.
- Traditions - The Eshu have many traditions they hand on and most would rather lose face than neglect or forget one.
- Greeting - When two Eshu meet for the first time it is customary to spit into or lick your hand before shaking hands. Originating among the tribes of Africa, it used to serve as a pledge not to curse the other but now is simply a sign of friendship. No handshake happens of one refuses to spit. The Elegbara don't hold the other tribes to this custom.
- Animals - Most Eshu hate killing animals for sport and they prefer to strangle animals when they do kill so they don't spill blood, as they don't want to waste any part. Some will even drink the blood. They never kill an animal they and their companions can't eat in one sitting.
- Trees - They will not break a limb off of a tree without first asking the Engai of the tree for permission. They also perform a ritual before cutting down a tree where they first remove a small branch and place it before another tree. Once the tree is cut down, they pour beer on the stump saying "I give this beer as a gift to the Engai, if one lives here, and ask him to go to another tree." They do this to avoid any curse the tree spirit might place on them. The party then drinks the rest of the beer.
- Recklessness - This is the Frailty of the Eshu. Other kithain look at the Elegbara as reckless, accepting any gamble or challenge no matter the odds. Is that a bad thing? The Eshu see them as being to like the mortals: ducking challenge and excitement for routine, afraid of risks that could harm their courts and careers. The Eshu are unafraid to live their lives in all its joys and hardships. If someone offers an Eshu a challenge and it doesn't look like complete suicide, chances are they will take it. Why not? You never know when an orisha is testing you. You never know your limits if you don't test them. Of course, though, the Elegbara aren't stupid and are always on the lookout for those who would exploit this... gift. There is a difference between being heroic and being manipulated. But there is little more satisfying than coming back from what an opponent thought was a suicide dare and taking their cash.
- Curses - The Elegbara believe very strongly in curses, including those from Geasa or Bans. They also believe everyone has the power to curse by either actions or words. This can be a great weakness because a knowledgeable enemy can merely speak the curse and the Elegbara's own power of belief will make it come true. Many Eshu will go to great lengths to kill those who curse them so.
- Realm Affinity - The Elegbara have an affinity for the Realm of Scene.
Orishas[edit | edit source]
While some people would compare orishas to patron saints, that's really only the best way to describe it to western minds. They are also not necessarily indicative of Vodoun, though some Eshu do practice that religion. They are more like totem spirits... creator spirits who chose a particular group to protect and grant favors in return for prayer and sacrifice. Some are gods or demigods and always have been. Others are ancestors who have risen to godhood through triumph or tragedy. While not all Eshu follow them, they all believe in them, even the Muslim and Christian Elegbara see them as guardian angels, messengers of God, or similar beings. All pay homage to Eshu, if only as a token of respect. Some develop bonds to other orisha as well, though its an exception and not the rule. They are at work everywhere in the world and the Elegbara see this. If an Eshu becomes legendary, they could even join those ranks themselves. It hasn't happened in centuries but that just means it's about due.
Social Structures[edit | edit source]
Eshu are a paradox when it comes to social structures. They are a close family and will do most anything to help each other in times of need while at the same time being scattered far and wide and rarely seeing each other. The spend "lonely" lives on the road but maintain their culture and adapt to new customs. They have a strong communal identity even far from home in time and space. They have many nobles, especially in their homelands, but no real hierarchy. (Which drives the Sidhe in particular batty. (Which gives great delight to the Elegbara.))
The trick is every Eshu takes care of themself first and then, with whatever energy is left over, those of the Tribe as well. If it sounds too simple to be true, you're probably not Elegbara.
They do have a "higher authority" of sorts: the Oba Council who give guidance and make sure the important tales reach the farthest Elegbara. They are not masters, though, simply those whose destiny is to be a stable base for the Tribe.
They have other nobles as well but no flowchart they all fit into. A Caliph may have lesser nobles under him or her with land and responsibilities or might tend the court themself. Those of lower station give respect to those above but mind their own lands and business without the need of a great hierarchy like the Sidhe. Nobles with differences settle them openly and then forgive when the ordeal is over. This works because the Eshu value the wisdom of their nobles, not their titles. Respect can only be earned.
- Motleys - The Eshu rarely form regular motleys among themselves. It usually only happens when the tribe comes together to respond to a great threat to the Tribe or to protect a freehold the Tribe calls its own and usually only lasts as long as it takes to complete a task or uphold an oath and no longer. They may remain friends but usually don't travel together again. The Elegbara enjoy each others company but only for so long. There is an innate fear that staying together too long will entwine their destinies and diminish their Uhuru. If they do join a group it is usually with other Fae to make sure things stay lively on the road. They won't travel with the Sidhe, though. Individually they may earn respect but usually they are too prone to complaining and giving orders and are just a hassle.
- Ile-Igbo - The Eshu control very few freeholds outside of their own lands. The few they do are the personal homes of Grumps who use them as story-circles and gathering places where they can catch up on tribal news and pass the tales on to younger ones still on the road. The most famous is the Bullring in Barcelona, Spain. But most aren't so formal... more like the faerie equivalent of a youth hostel in Europe and Australia, staffed by Elegbara when available and agemo when they aren't. They tend to be plain and comfortable and no one minds if you stay awhile as long as you pitch in a tale or help with the chores to earn your keep. Just about every big city has one, if you open your eyes to find it.
Traveling the Dreaming[edit | edit source]
The other kithain look to the Eshu when it comes to traveling the Silver Path beyond the Near Dreaming into the wilder Dreamings. The Elegbara have walked the paths of the Engai since the first mortal dreamed and know more about it than all the other tribes put together. Most Eshu quest in the Far Dreaming at least once in their life and more than a few walk those paths regularly. Few, though, wander the Deep Dreaming without cause because it is easy to lose yourself and your destiny there.
Lifestyle[edit | edit source]
What's it like to live as an Eshu?
- Style - Ask one of the other fae what an Eshu looks like, especially a Concordian, and they'll usually say: all bright fabric, colored sashes, hoop earrings, jingly bells, etc. Or they'll avert their eyes and mumble something about a loin cloth and turban. This is mostly false. Yes the Elegbara take pride in their ancestry especially on holy days but traditional dress is not everyday wear. The Elegbara tend to adopt the styles of the cultures they travel among, though more to understand their ways than to blend in. I mean... most can't help adding their own touches to their wardrobe. Variety represents past travels and sets them apart from the ordinary denizens of a realm. Most, therefore, have a striking, unique look in both mortal and fae appearance. Some consider them exotic or seductive. Looking good is more than fashion, though, it's self-expression. If the Eshu looks like they've been in the dust of the road that is one thing but slovenliness or neglect disrespects their noble heritage and fuels the bigots who call them "dirty foreigners." Survival is nothing without dignity.
- Carousing - Though they may not have the level of reputation for having a good time as the Olu-Igbo, the Eshu enjoy parties and festivals in a way that surprises most of the other tribes (who assume they are unhappy of not the center of attention.) True, they don't mind telling tales to the assembly and they enjoy taking part in performances and little dramas that are part of most changeling gatherings, but they like listening to stories too. Plus, get two Elegbara for a game of "never have I ever" or "truth or dare" and you have a legendary gathering at hand.
- Romance - The Elegbara are also sought-after lovers in fae society. Who wouldn't want a lover who can recite verse, likes to travel, and will brave any challenge on the beloved's behalf? (There perfect timing comes in handy in more ways than one as well.) They sweep others off their feet, play the courtly love to its hilt, and when they are smitten there is no such thing as impossible when the beloved is concerned. Most others love to revel along. Difficulties arrive when its time to move on to a new paramour or town and the lover can't deal with it. They think they can tame the Eshu... make them give up the road for good. But it's not possible (at least not without succumbing to Banality). And so the Eshu are heartbreakers and have an undeserved reputation of being faithless lovers. But it doesn't stop the lovers from coming. And maybe one day they actually find a companion who understands and loves them as they are. It's rare but possible and wonderful when it happens. It's good for them to remember, though, that they are still responsible for their actions.
- Performing - While storytelling is and will always be the most sacred means of passing on a tale for the Elegbara, it is not the only way. Word-wise Eshu become writers and poets. Performers become singers, actors, lyricists, and orators. What matters is that all Eshu have a basic need to tell stories; a need that usually takes hold even before the Chrysalis and expresses any way it can.
The Seemings[edit | edit source]
Obviously the age of the Eshu in question makes a difference in how they live out all of this.
- Childlings - Childlings make better followers than leaders. They are attentive, polite, and full of questions and observations. They tend to be loners and won't follow any one adult for too long. Many end up living as stowaways or runaways.
- Wilders - Wilders believe the greatest adventures are yet to come. A young hero or heroine will often style themself as anything from modern-day African Deity to rugged wanderer. Legends of great adventurers are challenges to beat.
- Grumps - Grumps tend to either move between a few preferred places of travel or to settle down and start the Eshu storytelling circles and Ile-Igbo the Tribe can be known for; telling their stories of their past adventures to the young and new who can benefit from their wisdom.
The Whole Wide World[edit | edit source]
How do the Elegbara see the world around them?
The Courts[edit | edit source]
Many Eshu resent being lumped into the Celtic-derived system of Seelie and Unseelie, though they recognize those terms and use them when dealing with Kithain. They have terms for themselves, though, that they use among themselves. Those who follow the ways of honor and tradition prefer Ojo, or daylight, fae. Those who follow their philosophy of casting off old ways and indulging passions, a death of tradition, call themselves Iku, or death.
Don't think this means that all Ojo are kind and generous or all (or even most) Iku are murderous revelers. Both groups follow Uhuru. It can be as bad to be caught in the hands of an Ojo judge who will not bend as it is to be caught by an Iku with a grudge. The Eshu attach no stigma to these philosophies, except in extreme cases, because of all the fae they see themselves as individuals. Judge an Eshu by his chosen "court" at your own peril.
Ojo/ Seelie[edit | edit source]
Most Eshu you meet are, in fact, going to be Ojo. It comes naturally and most Elegbara draw strength from the millennia of traditions and history tied up in it. They do not, however, follow the Seelie Code (which they predate). They have their own standards to judge themselves by, though they will still uphold the Seelie which usually doesn't conflict. The Eshu simply have different core values.
The Ojo Code[edit | edit source]
- Heed the Call of Fate - Kismet, Destiny, Fate... whatever you call it, all Ojo believe that the orishas ordain everything that happens. How else could they always end up in the right place at the right time without a greater plan in place? As Eshu's Chosen the orishas notice them and write them into their plans for the world. Which isn't to say they are puppets or passive. They also believe the orishas put obstacles in their path as tests to overcome and see if they are worthy of their destinies. Those who fail are sad souls and often struggle for years to get back on their paths. This is why they MUST accept every challenge put before them. One never knows when it is the orishas acting. Pushing your limits is how you find them. Which doesn't mean the bet to get across town from a friend is a test of the orishas. The Eshu know the difference in how they feel after failing such a test.
- Pass On What You Have Heard - Oral history is nothing new to the Eshu. Countless Oba have served as Griot to their villages and even those from other cultures are often walking histories of where they come from. It's not enough to simply memorize stories, though. The Elegbara are wandering storytellers and they have a responsibility to make sure those stories are told. Stories build bridges and empathy. History is the same. If one doesn't remember history we repeat the same mistakes. A story forgotten is a blow against all Fae.
- Seek Justice for Those Unheard - Except for the Oba who walk in their lands in pride and in full view, Eshu are outsiders; never fully trusted by those they walk among. Eshu can feel this quite strongly at times. Due to this distance the Eshu feel a kinship with other marginalized peoples and do their best to help runaways, castaways, fringe dwellers, and minorities when they can and if they can't help they will at least tell their story and remember. Plus Eshu make excellent avengers: righting wrongs and slipping away with none the wiser. This isn't just philosophy but survival. Being around such people when they need help means a reputation and others being willing to take risks on the Eshu's behalf one day.
The Seelie Code[edit | edit source]
A brief summary of Ojo thoughts on the Seelie Code.
- Death Before Dishonor - Those without honor are without dignity. Without dignity, existence is little better than an animal's. Despite stereotypes, an Eshu will retreat when necessary but cowardice and oathbreaking are unforgivable.
- Love Conquers All - Eshu tend to have many lovers in their life but whomever becomes their true beloved become the center of their life for the Elegbara has given them their greatest offering: part of their freedom. They guard lovers with their life, avenge slights against them, and always return to them.
- Beauty is Life - The Eshu may find beauty a bit differently than their Kithain cousins... a beauty in nature and experience, but beautiful moments are their lives as much as breathing or walking.
- Never Forget a Debt - To owe someone is to put a limit on Uhuru so paying them off quickly is normal for the Elegbara, if incurred at all. Not honoring a debt is not tolerated. If their word of honor is no good, how can a their stories carry real weight?
The Escheat[edit | edit source]
The Elegbara don't put as much stock in the Escheat as Kithain do but they make a certain amount of sense. If anything the Eshu wish the other tribes didn't need to have them up on walls to remind them.
- The Right of Demesne - Yeah. This one seldom agrees with Eshu and since they don't stay long in anyone place they rarely establish such ties. They generally ignore it when passing through and most leaders feel it's better to let them and have them gone rather than staying and causing trouble.
- The Right of Dream - The Elegbara are teachers of fae and mortals alike and feel they should respect the right of mortals to dream in peace. Ripping creativity from people doesn't do anyone any good and only serves Banality.
- The Right of Ignorance - The Eshu are fast but even they can't outrun an enemy forever, much less Banality. The less an opponent knows about you, the harder you are to find. That suits them fine.
- The Right of Rescue - Many Kithain turn to the Eshu to organize rescues, figuring their knack for surviving is what they need. Fortunately for them they are right. Rescuing another fae is good for the Dreaming and good for your reputation.
- The Right of Safe Haven - Hospitality is important to the Elegbara. They always try to respect the customs of their host, not overstay their welcome, and return that hospitality double if their host ever needs it. They will punish transgressors among them.
- The Right of Life - To take the life of your fellow fae gets one Undone by Banality pretty quickly. Good enough reason not to do it.
Iku/ Unseelie[edit | edit source]
The Iku see things a bit different. The Eshu may say they treat both Ojo and Iku the same but the Iku know that's not true. They know the Ojo see them as a joke and a nasty, bitter one at that and the moment the rest know, you drop down a few notches on their list. Many think that because they don't bow down to destiny that they aren't real Elegbara but they have a code to. Though not so exactly like the Unseelie, they mesh alright.
- There is No Destiny - What? This shocks you? The Ojo may get off on their little bondage game and think that they are oh so important with their sexy voice, pointy ears, itchy feet, and dashing charm but it isn't so. There are orishas, yes, but the Iku hardly think they have the time or desire to make up tests for such little cosmological ants like the Eshu. So where does this leave them? Hopeless? Adrift in the universe without meaning or purpose? Hardly. They are still Eshu's Chosen. Why are they always in the right place at the right time? Where else could you be? The Iku make choices that logically lead them somewhere. What does this mean? They are truly, ultimately, Free!
- Leave Trouble in Your Wake - If there's one thing the Iku agree with the Ojo about, it's that society needs to change. Which one? All of them. What government isn't ultimately corrupted? What society doesn't ultimately fall into racism to feel safe? It's the Elegbara's job to gather stories and learn histories, right? Make sure people learn from their mistakes, right? Well fae and humans still don't get it. The stories have lost their edge; their danger. Where does it say the Eshu have to play fair? The Iku say lets use our ability with words and raise hell; make change: incite riots, spread rumors, twist words, fan the flames of civil unrest, stuff like that. They're the embodiment of chance, accident, and unpredictability, right? Chaos snaps people out of complacency. Make those in power afraid of you and what you know.
- Vengeance is Divine - And so are the Eshu who are still, even without Destiny, the favored children of one of the mightiest and most feared orisha out there. So they act it. They do what they want and make the mortals want them but never let anyone else think they are anywhere close to their level. They don't take crap from anyone and make them sorry when they do. Forget the Robin Hood Ojo schtick. They look out for themselves first and make sure anyone who messes with them ends up missing something, whether ego, valuables, or body part.
The Unseelie Code[edit | edit source]
Yes the Unseelie have a code but they are Unseelie so these rules are observed in violation as often as not.
- Change is Good - Duh! Eshu are change and raw unpredictability incarnate. The rest should pay them for the lessons.
- Glamour is Free - On the road an Eshu can't usually cultivate those long-term, touchy-feely relationships needed to Muse people. Ravaging is often the only way to get Glamour. But the Eshu brings excitement into their lives so why not get something for it.
- Honor is a Lie - Making a promise means you aren't free. Good thing the Eshu are expert liars and word-manipulators. They try to watch out for Oaths backed by the Dreaming because no tongue, however smooth, can get you out of that.
- Passion Before Duty - Once you realize you're one of the few truly free people on Earth, it's easy to indulge yourself.
The Shadow Court[edit | edit source]
The Iku who feel that even their normal way of going about business isn't enough to quench their thirst for rebellion and excitement join the Iku-Abeokuta. The Eshu who join the Shadow Court become stars: They already hate the Sidhe, are good at riling people up, and love taking risks. They sound like perfect revolutionaries. So why don't more Eshu join up? There's something not right about them... a nihilism that gets under your skin and leaves you feeling dirty. Most Eshu are careful when they think they're around them. Some of these Dark ones will try and trick Elegbara into fatal dares just to laugh as they die.
The Tribes[edit | edit source]
The Eshu have their own way of speaking about the Kithain, which makes sense seeing as they come from another culture entirely. They associate each of the Kiths with one of the orishas, seeing them as their chosen in the world much like the Eshu themselves are the Chosen of Eshu. If they write the orisha's name capitalized or emphasize it when speaking, they are referring to the orisha. Written in lowercase letters only or tossed off the tongue when speaking, it refers to the tribe. They try to be careful, though, and treat the orishas with respect so they can't be accused of name stealing.
- Boggans - Named after Orisha-Oko and called the Little Folk, everyone thinks the Eshu have only disdain for the Boggans. On the contrary. The Eshu respect them for their dedication to hospitality and love them for being a good audience... and are glad they aren't them. One too many Iku, though, has given the Eshu a bad name among the orisha-oko for honeyed words and sticky palms.
- Clurichaun - Named for Taiyewo, the older twin of the Ibeji, twin followers of Eshu, and also called Green Eyes, the Clurichaun are in fact distant blood-kin to the Eshu, who consider them family. The taiyewo inherited the Elegbara joy of preserving tradition through song, poetry, and tale-craft and while they have been among the other tribes for so long they have forgotten their roots, they and the Eshu fit well together, making boon traveling companions.
- Ghille Dhu - Named for Iroko, a minor orisha of a type of oak tree, and called the Tree Folk, the Ghille dhu are few and far between, and this coming from an Eshu perspective so it's as close to them truth as it can be. They tend to stay on the Isle of the Mighty and speak little to anyone, even kithain. If they can be coaxed into talking, though, they tell amazing stories from the point of view of plants and animals. Don't approach them directly. Sit in their grove with palms open to show you mean no harm, and wait a few hours. If the come forward they find you acceptable. If not, thank them for the time in their grove and depart in peace.
- Nockers - Named after Olokuta and called either the People of Stone or the Masons, the Nockers are like their patron: tough, inflexible, and with a dark nature. Also like their patron they form a solid foundation the rest of the Kithain rely on. The Eshu tend to like their inspired profanity and respect them for their gift of words when insults are involved. Praise them intelligently and beware their anger at any criticism.
- Piskies - Named after Kehinde, the younger twin of the Ibeji, and called the Silver Folk, the Piskies, like the Clurichaun, are distant blood-kin to the Elegbara and treated as such. The kehinde inherited the Elegbara love of challenge and the open road and deep connection to the hearts of those they meet. Like the taiyewo, they have forgotten their roots but the Eshu love to remind them and be in their company.
- Pooka - In Yoruba legends, Ijapa the Tortoise is a trickster hero. The Eshu associate the Pooka with him and call them either Turtles or the Sly Folk. Eshu like matching wits and word play with the ijapa and they envy the animal forms that let them travel in such interesting ways. Plus Tricksters are an important part of bringing people to Uhuru. The are one of the least likely to complain about a tough road (surpassed only by the jakuta) and rank with the olu-igbo for traveling companions right behind the Ijebi. The downside is that their lies and tricks can get tiresome after a while and they like to interrupt stories.
- Redcaps - Named after Oshosi, these bastards only like gory epics and tales of violence. The Eshu respect their refusal to lie down and civilize their habits and legends. However, even the Iku tend to avoid them. They have no honor or dignity and like to exploit those who do. Occasionally a drunk corby will decide to hunt a lone Eshu. If an Elegbara suspects this, they run and run fast until the doubts are gone. The oshosi rarely play fair or leave survivors.
- Satyrs - Named for Olu-Igbo, orisha of the wilds, and referred to also as the Wild Ones, the Eshu consider the Satyrs, along with the Pooka, the only common Kithain (obviously excluding the Clurichauns and Piskies) worth anything on the road. They can often seem like Uhuru incarnate but they too often shackle themselves with addiction and indulgence. For all that, though, they are hardy, intelligent, quick to forgive, and love music and dance in a way that equals the Elegbara love of words. Teach them a new song and they will love you. The other reason the Eshu love the olu-igbo is that of all the kithain they are most accepting of having a relationship with someone who is often gone in days and then for months. Plus the ways they ease that loneliness are very, very good.
- Selkies - Named for Olokun, orisha of the oceans, or called People of the Waves, these fae of the British Isles are as hard to contact as the Guille dhu. Eshu love their tales of undersea life and sea-faring Elegbara occasionally strike up relationships with them while at sea but encounters rarely go beyond that. Pleasant companions and good friends at sea, that that's about it.
- Sidhe - Sometimes called Itiyere or Long Ears, what do the Eshu think of these arrogant, ungrateful, backstabbing usurpers? Spit on the ground and you get the gist of it. Once the Sidhe had an orisha like the others but when they abandoned the world, the Eshu stripped them of that, striking their name from the world forever. When they returned to Earth, blind and helpless and with no sense of themselves, the Elegbara knew their curse worked. That is why they think up so many titles for themselves. Their souls know they are missing something. The Eshu don't hesitate to return slight for slight or blood for blood. There are a few Sidhe they respect. Those of House Scathach stayed behind on Earth when the others fled and for a long time only the Eshu even knew they existed. The bond between the two ones back centuries and the Eshu will always treat one of them well. Eshu still judge each other Sidhe individually but always remember the injustice they did to their kin.
- Sluagh - Named for the orisha Sonponno and also named the Stricken, the Eshu pity the Sluagh and the way the diseases of the world have twisted their forms into the shameful shapes they wear now. But they do come from nightmares, after all. Most bear their curse with a strange yet undeniable dignity. Since most must hide away, they like the stories the Elegbara tell of the sunlit lands. The sonpono are also a good source for secrets. They love tradition and etiquette and the Eshu do their best to learn what they can before they go to speak with them. If invited to High Tea, they dress well but not outlandishly, keep their voices down, and come prepared to trade lore. Don't betray their trust or you'll never get it back.
- Trolls - Named for Jakuta, a praise name for the orisha Shango, and also called the Stone Giants, the Eshu have a sad history with the Trolls. They hold the same values as the Ojo but cannot see the Elegbara need to move as anything but shiftlessness and cannot understand the Eshu reluctance to take on oaths which they so prize. They tend to have a "seen one, seen 'em all" stance to the Elegbara and most have seen Iku. Plus they tend to turn the wanderers out so as not to be tricked by their 'silver tongues.' At the same time, if the jakuta you meet knows more of the Ojo, then the same "seen one, seen 'em all" still holds true and these can be some of the best friends an Eshu can have, at least in the here and now.
The Gallain[edit | edit source]
The wandering Eshu have, as a tribe, come into contact with more of the World of Dreams than most of the other Kithain and have some sort of relationship with many of the other wounded communities harmed by the blunders of their cousins. They are an important part of fae society and to lose touch with them would be to dishonor the ancestors of the Elegbara.
- Inanimae - Named for Orisha-Nla, a praise-name for Obatala, or called Pieces of God, Eshu taught his Chosen how to speak to the rocks and trees and rivers long ago. So the Elegbara discovered the hidden kingdoms under the surface of the world. At first they wouldn't speak but the Eshu are charming and eventually relationships were built. They shared stories. Their words are mighty and memories long. The Eshu try to be respectful and help them when they can because it fulfills an ancient pact Eshu made. Plus they are a valuable source of information.
- Nunnehi - The Eshu met and established ties with the Nunnehi long before Lief Erickson ever set foot on Nova Scotia. They intermarried and today a small but significant number of Concordian Eshu come from Native American bloodlines. Some may even be able to walk into the spirit world like their Nunnehi relatives do. Elegbara and Nunnehi are tolerant of each other, if not friendly, and they often warn each other when "bad things" are about to happen between them and the Kithain.
- Thallain - Also called Orisha-Awo, Monster People, or the Dark Ones, when the Thallain started to reappear at the time of the Resurgence, the Oba sent out runners. Some never returned and others brought news that the Shadow Court was welcoming them. Of course the Aithu were among them. When confronted with one, the Eshu will try to send them on to their next life and pass on the word of where and how they met them and hope it gets back to the Oba who may declare war again.
- Adhene - The Awo-Abeokuta, or Those that Dwell Below, are nightmare beings quite alien and terrible. Not all are the predators they are made to to be, though. The Keremet may have been Eshu runners in the past and the Aonides are harmful in the prettiest ways but all of the Adhene are dangerous and, as they have no idea what it means to wear flesh, they don't fear pain or death. The Elegbara try to keep them in the Dreaming or make them bleed and let them know what flesh means. The Moirae are the exception. They and the Eshu have ancient ties and fascinate each other. While the Moirae read the tapestry of Fate, the Eshu swing from its threads. Many Eshu in the past went looking for them in the Dreaming after they were banished. Now they are back and the Eshu defend them and their sacred purpose.
- Hsien - Few Kithain come in contact with the Shinma and fewer care to do so. They are much like the orishas the Elegbara know and so they respect them. With the first visits long ago, they listened politely to the Eshu tales and then asked them to leave. And so the Eshu did, with India being the exception as both parties have deep roots there. When Eshu travel to the Middle Kingdom they announce their presence as politely and discreetly as possible, tell them how long they intend to stay, and thank them for their mercy in permitting them to enjoy the fruits of their realm. This is the absolute least amount of respect you can show without being offensive.
Mortals[edit | edit source]
- Kinain - Called Agemo, Runners, or Chameleons, their blood-relations are important to the Elegbara and, though not fully part of the Tribe, usually inherit the wanderlust of the Tribe. They are fine companions but it takes a lot of work to keep them Enchanted. It's better to keep in touch from time to time than to take them on the journey.
- Ordinary Mortals - Mortals have stories to tell and if an Eshu listens they might learn something. It's better not to take them on the journey because few can really let go of their lives for long. The Elegbara prefer to step in, dazzle with stories and adventure, and move on leaving an admirer. The mortal gets to taste Uhuru and the Eshu enjoys their finer points without having to worry about them later.
Prodigals[edit | edit source]
Being the travelers they are, the elegbara often end up where the Prodigals are.
- Vampires - The Shilmulo, or Cold Ones, are corpses who can't put aside their hunger for life and they infest most large cities. Few can perceive the Fae as they are and even the ones who can usually don't travel far from the cities. Apparently some share blood-ties through the Rom.
- Shape Changers - The Bete or Beast-People share common ancestral ties with the Eshu but their violent and angry ways have kept the two mostly apart. The Eshu like their love of the wilds and respect for the spirit kingdoms. The Silent Striders, who share ties to ancient Egypt share the Elegbara love of trails and storytelling. Don't insult them, though, because their anger can be lethal.
- Wizards - The Adahunse, or Name Takers or Name Stealers, are not trusted by the Eshu. Their envy of the Fae in the past led them to study, madness, or servitude in exchange for power and since they can't tell which is which, it's better to avoid them altogether. Never reveal yourself to them and remember that mortals were never meant to wield such power.
- Ghosts - The Abiku, or Unseen, are mortals who died unhappily and return as ghosts who lament their lost lives or torment the living. If an Eshu attracts their attention, they try to be kind but it doesn't make them any less frightening. Don't offend one or they can be terrible. If an Eshu happens to find a path into the Bush of Ghosts, they don't follow it lightly. Being full of life, they are targets for the hungry dead. Many never return or do hollow of spirit.
- The Undying - The Elegbara as a whole know a few of these Kokumo who share ties to them in Egypt, but they are maddeningly elusive. Most Eshu would give a lot to sit and listen to their stories.
- Hunters - Named for the orisha Ogun or called Iron's Children and Despoilers, there are many who hunt the fae out of fear of the unknown. Fortunately most ogun cannot perceive the fae as they are and pose only little threat.
Eminent Elegbara[edit | edit source]
- Adam Sowande
- Akuko and Hazir
- Andre Dubonet
- Badr al Din
- Barath Avery
- Sir Blade
- Carolan Walks-Far
- Damien Phole
- Django Hillrunner
- Eileen MacNamara
- Count Elias
- Ellen Rynson
- Evin Delaney
- Hanna Alawe
- Ibrahim & Siriana
- Isabela Dulce
- Jack the Whistler
- Jack "Black Train" Eton
- James Spencer
- Jesse Franklin
- Jimmy Armstrong
- Johnny Mango
- Jonathan (Eshu)
- Justin Hejaz
- Kalana Tomas
- Kurt Thompkins
- Margaux de Desiree
- Marie Laveau
- Michael Nangila
- Miriam Hawkins
- Miscka Garel
- Nikki Moore
- Patrick Drey
- Richard (Eshu)
- Sachi (CTD)
- Seif Raushan
- Signe Henderson
- Sorry Martin
- Terrence Devereaux
- Upala Sengupta
- Vera Nkubah
- Wilmaron Greenlance
- Zubaidah Idowu
Eshu Treasures[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- CTD. Kithbook: Eshu.
- CTD. Changeling: The Dreaming Second Edition, pp. 90-91.
- CTD. Changeling Players Guide, pp. 64-67.
Gallery[edit | edit source]