Eyala Caestrade (408-428) is by now mainly remembered as the founder of the Heyin cult on the continent of Akdor. This cult, revering Yelin as the Mother of All Life and Bringer of Rain, began to spread gradually from Pendalu to the rest of Akdor, especially to the Aia Sphrin islands. Eyala was, however, much more than that. She was also a stateswoman, who tried to help the poor, and give women more rights. Her influence on Pendalu and the rest of western Akdor over the years was underrated in the beginning, but as time passed, historians became more and more interested in her intriguing person, and found out that she had changed the life in Pendalu greatly.
Picture description: Portrait of Eyala Caestrade, founder of the Akdorian Heyin Cult, and famous stateswoman. Image by Enayla.
In 401, Moigen Nesial Yernum, Sanyet of the Yernin clan of the
the continent of Akdor, died in a storm when he was
sailing back to Pendalu
from a diplomatic mission. He was succeeded by his only
child, Muef, a girl of 21 years old.
In 401, Moigen Nesial Yernum died, and was succeeded by his only child, Muef, a girl of 21 years of age. This was heavily debated, as she was the first woman that held a chieftain's seat in the Uenise. Her authority was challenged by a tens of young Yernine men (penda'u chieftainship is hereditary, although anyone may challenge the new leader for a duel). She beat the first three without any real effort, and after that the rest backed of. Muef is rumored to have said after having defeated the last one: "The next will not have such a gentle death", but the fact that this quote was only written down for the first time in the sixth century, made some very suspicious. It has also been applied to most other Penda'u leaders, including Dalum Mear Aechlum himself.
Muef's situation as the leader of the clan was still heavily debated during the next five years, and seeking for support she married Guyol Caestrade, an influential merchant from Aia Sphrin. This enlarged her influence on the counsel, but the Yernin did not feel represented by her; they called her mockingly "the foreign princess".
Muef's marriage was not particularly happy, but in 408 she got a daughter, Eyala. There are some historians that think that she had an affair with another man, but there is absolutely no evidence of this. In any case, Muef raised her lovingly until the age of five, when the mother was most probably murdered by discontent Yelnin. As Eyala was too young to defend her role as chieftain, it passed on to Ryanon Issyen Yernum. The rest of her youth she lived with her father in Valan.
As Eyala grew up, she started to develop a particular interest in religion, especially in Heyin. This Goddess was at the time only a minor deity in the penda'u pantheon, and only called upon by pregnant women when giving birth, and Essuans spouse.
Caestrade however claimed to have visions of Heyin, in which the Goddess spoke to her: Heyin was standing in the sea, rising up to thirty peds in length, with a blue face and long, loose hair, wearing only a thin dress. Rain fell down from her hair, changing into rain. As soon as the drops fell into the sea, they changed into all kinds of fish. The sea turned into land, and fish into cows and bulls (Essuan and most of the ancestors of the penda'u are depicted as bulls).
Eyala interpreted this dream, which she dreamed repeatedly, as a sign that Heyin should not be looked upon as a minor deity, but as the primal ancestor of the penda'u, and as the force that gave birth to the world. Inspired by these dreams she searched the Valan library for early references of Heyin, and she found several that presented the goddess as the main goddess of the penda'u, and linked her with Simache (Simache is the sauthar goddess of life). Strengthened in her beliefs, she traveled off, aged 19, to Pendalu to inspire this cult for Heyin Livegiver.
Eyala arrived in the fall of 427, when the city faced the most severe rainfall in centuries. The first thing she did as she got off the ship was to walk down to Mear Square and pray to Heyin to make the rains stop. It is rumored that on her walk to the square, in every footstep she set a flower started to grow immediately through the cobblestones. In any case, the rain ceased as she started to pray, and a crowd formed around her. These were the first to join the cult of Heyin.
Eyala's cult soon began to grow; particularly the mob and rich women were eager to join the cult (As the power of men over women was legitimated by the myth that all penda'u ultimately descended from Essuan and his sons, women were not influential in the early penda'u myths. The rich women saw the power of their men, and wanted to share it. The poorer groups inside the city wanted to join because the myth propagated equality, as all life was created equally from the rain). Eyala's movement was not only of religious nature, but also a movement for civil rights for the poor. The Council saw the danger she represented towards stability in the town, and planned to crush a meeting at Dalum square in the spring of 428. As the military neared the square however, rain began to pour down, forming a wall between them and the crowd. As the crowd did not seem to get wet at all, the soldiers began to get scared, and did not dare to touch the wall, and Eyala was saved.
Eyala did know however that she was not save at all inside the city, and she left the same evening on a small ship to Keruillon. Her followers went back to their houses and did not pray to Heyin anymore in public. It only took five months before she returned.
Ryanon, the holder of the Yernum seat in the Uenise had died (probably killed by Eyala's followers? ), and his son Fuen prepared to succeed his father. The next day Eyala stepped out of nowhere to challenge him for a prayer. During the duel rain streamed down from the heavens, Fuen slipped, and Eyala spared his life. There was no way that the seat in the Uenise could be denied to her.
Eyala's first act in the Uenise was to raise import taxes, which would be handed out to the poor, widows and orphans. The Oquen did not pass the law, and in turn Eyala abolished them. Then she set up a plan for a new Oquen, in which democratic elections would be held for a council of 10 people. All men and women where given the right to vote.
The cult of Heyin flourished, the unrest of the city subsided, and all looked well for Eyala. The merchants however worked together with Fuen to bring her down. The day before the elections a small group stormed into the Uenise and took her life. Fuen pushed her dying body aside and took her seat.
As the people in town began to take notice of this, they stormed into the Uenise and killed Fuen. Eyala was buried at sea, and some say she was united with her Goddess in death.
Importance. Eyala Caestrade did not die in vain however, as her religion for Heyin became more and more accepted in Pendalu, and women were considered more and more equal to men. The original Oquen, however, was reinstalled, and the poor lost most influence they had for such a short period.
Information provided by Lamertu Kthaen