The Zyuzaru, the Vekwela, and the Zyrak’taho Ritual Complex Where goes the antelope and the wagon? When call the moon mounds and the star songs? Gifts taken and none given. The sky darkens, but not for night. They come. And we shall stay. The Cacophony of refugees is not unknown in the cultural memory of the Vekwela and the Vamalo. With death and desperation come hopes and dreams. First came the wise, who knew what the whispers foretold. Then came the wealthy, who could afford the gifts required by tradition and the heavens. Then came everyone, seeking a new life beyond the plains. And they did their best, their great Ahbal’tahos growing from ceremonial/ritual sites of exchange to camps at once permanent yet constantly moving. Seldom do the refugees stay longer than necessary to survive the dry season, before they move onwards. And the structures they carved into the very sod and mound remained. And each time they left, the Vekwela breathe a sigh of relief, for the plains were built not for the ravenous mouths of city folk, but the antelope and the traveler. They taught the Zyuzaru what they could - and many of the Zyuzaru had participated in the ways of the Fumo. But the ways of the Vama’taho shift on the long trek north, and to survive the Zyuzaru needed to learn how to acclaim the moon and name the stars. The Zyruzaru still brought their own beliefs from home. They began creating engraved and painted clay bricks, a mockery perhaps of the Ikzil Vale idols they once called home. However, as these bricks were left behind, as their dwellings grew deeper and firmer as as the flow grew ever larger, they began to build the foundation and evolution of the Zyurak’taho Ritual Complex Unsurprising for this part of the world, change was sparked once more by conflict. For those living then, it as but more whispers from another direction, a vague danger over the horizon, towards the sunset. But some Great Caravans were missed at the Ahbal’taho rituals, or emerge scattered and diminished. And then wreck and ruin were found along the sacred routes, smaller family-scaled wagon trains destroyed. And then the Ahbal’tahos began to be despoiled, the innocent taking shelter there rounded up and taken deep into the unknown respites in the desert. The Ixji have come. By this time, the conquest of the Hakhak have not gone poorly. Even the barest hint of technological competence did them little good, but it did serve the Hakhak when they sailed downriver to test their luck against the Hwetka and the Gevera. Growing Zyuzaru cities along the Zyruzaru River helped fund and fuel the growing stream of refugees. And in memory of the Ahbal’taho and Fumo’taho of their ancestry, by built the first Zyrak’taho along the Zyruzaru River. These are different than the ancient mounts and chambers. These are part-religious center, part-bazaar, part-caravansai, part-barracks, and part-fortress. The ancient earthen mounds now grow upon deep foundations of brick, and rise ramparts. New well techniques draw water into tree-shaded pools, and tall towers assist in naming the stars and in watching for danger. And a new caste of watchers grow, those who remain instead of move, watching over the ever shifting populations. This finalized format of the Zyrak’taho ritual-urbanization center quickly spread southward among the Vakwela, who appreciated the protection it offered. They stubbornly dug in, even as the Ixji swarmed the countryside. Their caravans grew ever larger, swollen with refugees, food, and craftsmen. As well as soldiers to protect them. Whist the watcher caste of the Zyruzaru River remained a servant or attendant caste, those of the Vama’taho became influential in their own right. Animal spirits drawn from the stars started being adopted, strengthening sight and cunning in the dance against the swifter, Ixji. Ahbal'taho are the Vekwela ritual centers. The Fumo'taho are the ritual centers originally built to trade with the Tyrumu. The Zyrak'taho ritual centers are significantly different because they have continuous habitation, structures, agriculture, and fortifications. However, their populations remain mostly transient.