"The great chase was on. Through the vast caverns, over the outcroppings, Miromar's hoofs never faltering, the hunters and the hunted ran faster than anything Arag had ever experienced. They soon passed the underground homes of his people. The people saw Xa, they saw Miromar, and most importantly, they saw Arag approach and leave in a cloud of dust and small rocks. Many already at that point abandoned their duties to the giants and followed the tracks of Arag, who rode after Xa with a fierceness that no one has been able to duplicate since. Out from the caves they paced, into the open lands that, true to Miromar's words, were now free from the Great Flood. But no matter how far and how fast they chased Xa, Arag and Miromar could not catch up with the Great Bull."
-as told by Lugana, storyteller of the Hulun
The Feast of Xa is a religious celebration in the Hulun calendar. It falls on new moon before the spring equinox and celebrates the great spirit of the aurochs, Xa . It also marks the beginning of the month of Xa. It was on the Feast of Xa that K'harg announced his decision to go to war with the Raven.
The Feast of Xa traditionally marks the end of winter and beckons spring, though traditionally spring does not start until the equinox, usually a few weeks after the feast. However, it is at this date that the Hulun begin their annual circuit of the plains and follow the herd into the highlands.
For most of the year the tribes operate in small extended family groups, but as the winter draws in they cluster together in great bands and head towards the temperate lowlands of the south east, between the great rivers. Here they stay close to the villages of the settled peoples, who provide their barbarian allies with the grains they have harvested in the preceding months. In return, the Hulun have defended their sedentary cousins against raids by pariah bands and rival tribes, pushed into the Hulun territory by the harshening climate and dwindling food supply. In all these encounters the Hulun have been victorious: they are grateful to Boros, the god of the dead, that those men and women who did lose their lives did so gloriously and honourably in battle.
But the winter has been harsh: as well as those who lost their lives in battle, Boros has seen fit to take the lives of several tribal elders. The old bones of these venerable men and women could no longer hold out against the chill north wind, and they passed without glory or honour. But the shaman of the tribe saw to it that proper ritual was observed, and Boros guided their souls to their rightful place in the heavens, beside Raad, lord of the skies. At the new moon of Xa the Hulun count their losses, but accept that this is part of the cycle of life. By the time Da shows her full face to Empala, the mother-of-the-land, day and night will be equal and spring will have arrived. The herds of the Hulun will feast upon the rich pastures of the highlands and sire many foals and calves; the young of the Hulun will feast on the meat and the milk of their cattle, growing into strong warriors and fine herdsmen.
At the feast the Hulun commemorate the year that has passed and celebrate the year that is to come in a great festival. At sunrise they bid farewell to the lowlands and begin the great trek into the highlands of the north east. The feast consists of the meat of any bullocks not considered strong enough to lead the herd. Geldings are often slain, too, though they have value as work animals and are often traded with settled peoples.
A great fire is built about which Hulun sing, dance and perform mock combat intribute to the whole pantheon. Pride of place at this festival is given to Xa, when at the height of the feast a great bull is sacrificed in his name. By tradition the meat of this animal is not eaten, but burned on an open fire. This parallels with Hulun treatment of their dead, who are cremated so that their souls can be released to Boros .
Similar festivals are marked byother tribes but none celebrate it in the name of Xa; the Hulun have a peculiar relationship with the auroch, being dependent upon the herd for sustenance, and tie this celebration closely with their tribal hero Arag .
Origins and LegendEdit
Amongst the Hulun the myth is linked to the tradtion that Xa- along with the horse-spirit, Miromar- helped lead Arag and his people out of the caves and onto the plains. The Hulun had retreated to the caves following the Great Flood and had been enslaved by a sadistic race of giants who had been servants of Ursh prior to the flood.
According to legend, Arag had been sent by the giants to fetch water. Whilst in the caverns he found the horse Miromar, who led him on a great chase after the spirit Xa.They chased the great bull out onto the plains to find the waters had receded and Xa's children had covered the surface. The Hulun and their cousins found hope in this new worls, and the bull gavethem stength to flee their captors and ultimately destroy them.