Written by Exarch Archaeduun shortly after the fall of Arthas Menethil, the Libram of Three Waters represents an ongoing project by the Exarch to describe and define the place of the draenei, their society, their faith, and their traditions in human society. While not a "holy text" per se, it is decidedly the product of meditations on the Holy Light and its place in draenei life in the modern world. Given the Exarch's (often controversial) close connection with human society, it is little surprise that the libram contains several references to Stormwind and other human kingdoms.
((I am Argus and So Can You))Edit
Obviously, that is an OOC title. Just to complete this with an OOC preface in addition to the IC preface, this actually serves something of a purpose other than just me wanking about my (rather infamous) love-affair with the hoofbeasts. In all actuality, the draenei have a lot of lore supporting them and and whole lot that is very, shall we say, "suggested". Obviously, the libram itself isn't canon and there will be stuff in here that does not directly reference completely established lore. I'll probably have parenthetical notes (because I love them so) or even just outright references when something is actual, canon lore. Draenei and the Light need a lot of love, and I may not be the best roleplayer in the world, but I do put a lot of time in, and especially so with draenei- and Light-stuff, so I might as well do some better for the whole. Also, this will probably be the only OOC section, but if there's another, it'll be obvious which it is. Also, this is going to be under development and will likely end being quite huge, so expect a lot of formatting for easy navigation if anyone actually reads this crap. (It will get more interesting as it goes on.)
Who I AmEdit
((Seriously, you don't need to read this. It's practically a stylistic block of text that's here to add meat while still adding content. Note the ironic "I'll try to keep it short and simple" bit, keep in mind that, by the description of the tradition, this is short and simple.))
There is an old tradition among eredar in these kinds of texts, obviously dating back to a time when we did not have the graces of the Holy Light to inspire our tomes. All the stodgiest of tomes were prefaced with long, generally boring chapters of who the writer was. In a way, it makes logical sense. Most of my old metallurgy texts included dozens of pages of dissertation proofs in the preface for the sake of proving the authour actually knew what he was writing about. I understand that for all but the oldest draenei, this is an annoying practice, so I'll try to keep it short and simple. I also understand the urge to skip past this, and believe me, I wouldn't mind. Light knows I generally did (and still do).
I am of an age that I belong to a tradition that I do not bother "tracking" my age, I remember Velen being old when I was young, but that really doesn't mean much. In terms that a human would understand, I am, as of this writing, between fifty- and eighty-thousand years of age, barring an accident or act of war, I still have a good deal of time left ahead of me. There is a reason "old age" was never a common cause of death for our kind, even during the most peaceful days on Argus.
I was born and spent nearly my entire life on Argus in southern Mac'aree, near the meeting point of three of the great city's larger canals and not too far from the foothills of Kaarinos. My father was a tradesman and happy in his and his father's caste, as a researcher in the field of metallurgy; he was a particularly stern, cold man, however, and though I can look back on him with more reason now, hindsight and my own age still do not paint a particularly kind picture of the man. My mother, slightly less stern, was an arcanist and astronomer, dedicated in her field and a true genius compared to my father's more mundane (if well-applied) wits.
Admittedly, I carried little of my parents' interest in scholarly pursuits. I studied metallurgy and only barely became recognised in the field before more or less abandoning my family and past to live on the shores of one of the city's canals to pilot a ferry in the mornings and evening for the tradesmen. For several millennia, I fished in the day, piloted my ferry and slept comfortably in a small rent house.
I stagnated until I met my wife, a local seamstress and employee of the restaurant where I sold my fish. She was a lovely, warm-natured woman with a sharp mind, well-fed appearance and standards that ruled out a scraggly, long-haired ferryman. After a few years of trying (and failing miserably) at getting her romantic attentions, we slowly developed a friendship that made me a better, more thoughtful man, she awakened parts of my mind I had left fallow since my time in school.
After we married, she convinced me to join the military as a Peacekeeper in my new caste as a Defender. This was a much calmer time, of course, when our caste held power over the Vindicators, though obviously, the Exarchs held sway over the whole of the military. At the time of the exodus from the homeworld, we had known peace for generations, the last true war was so far in the past that it was spoken of in mythological terms. The Peacekeepers existed almost as more of a reminder of our calm, stable, authoritarian that had served us so well for so long, we were not then a bulwark against the Legion for the innocent.
The Hand of ArgusEdit
With the formation of the Hand of Argus, I left the Peacekeepers and became a Defender in both caste and title within the Hand. My training as a paladin went well, and I can't say really anything other than average. I served at my position, rising within the caste more or less on par with expectations until our arrival on Azeroth. Generally because of my experience and age, I managed to find myself on the periphery of every major assault on Draenor and Azeroth (with the exception of our affairs with the Shattered Sun). While I never led any charges, I served as logistical support and usually in some form of leadership.
The need for Exarchs in the East caused my name to come up as a potential liaison in the Alliance for the Hand of Argus. Although we are obviously part of the overall hierarchy of draenei society and, hence, part of the Alliance, our leadership is very independent and we operate in conjunction with the Alliance, giving us the need to have close contact and communication with Stormwind. I am not exactly willing to say that I am any more naturally adept at politics than any other man, but the fact stands that I was chosen for the position and rose to my current and ultimate position as an Exarch for my political wisdom and experience in the Hand of Argus from its earliest days.
At the end of the day, I am a paladin. I am healer, a shieldbearer and an Exarch. I hold citizenship (and pay taxes as "Archaeduun Smith") in Stormwind and have a great love for Azeroth and its peoples. I am a metallurgist, a smith and a faithful adherent to the Light's teachings. As a widower, I know the love of a wife and the pain of loss. As a father, I knew what it was to create something so blessed and wonderful as life, and the random, brutal injustice that is losing that life. I have experience in many fields and expertise in a few, while I am no great scholar, I offer my wisdom in hopes that they will provide something to meditate over.
Without a doubt, faith is one of the single most important aspects of draenei society, and even more, it's the primary difference between what makes our modern society draenei and not eredar. What the naaru gave to us all those years ago was not just a purpose, but a "soul" to our lives. Although many of the youngest draenei like to claim, likely temporarily, that the Light holds no importance in their life, for the older among us, and especially those who can remember Argus, the Light is an ever-present part of our lives and for very good reason.
There is a misconception among some in the other races that the more faithful draenei are all completely straight-laced and even naive, that somehow we have survived for so long being culturally and ideologically homogeneous. Of course, these people have not had the "joy" of experiencing clashes between our castes! Although we tend to keep it out of public circles, there's no getting around the fact that there's little an old draenei gets as much pleasure out of as arguing a point!
Our Faith and the Alliance'sEdit
One of the things that most surprised me about Azeroth was the incredible similarities between the traditional draenei view of the Light and those of humans and, by association, dwarves. Although there are some sects within humanity that like to view the Light as more "active" and almost having some kind of mortal brand of sapience (some of these sects being attractive to younger draenei), traditional human views of the Light are practically identical to ours.
The beliefs surrounding the Holy Light are less a proper "religion" than they are a set of philosophies. To traditionalists among humans and draenei, the Light is not an active force on its own, but a force that pervades all existence and acts through intermediaries. Paladins, priests, and even naaru all channel that power in the same way. I've heard the comparison between priests and mages made several times, but the mechanics of the two are entirely different. A priest or paladin simply pulls the Light's power out of the world around them, they manipulate a power that is simple "there" and not from within. In reality, all that separates a powerful paladin from a weak one in terms of the Light is the ability to channel the Light's essence through faith and will, that power is not our own.
It is a misconception that I know has bothered me personally, that we worship the Light for the sake of getting something back. My power as a paladin is through my faith, certainly, but I don't ask for miracles, and nor should anyone. In the course of my entire life I have never been witness to or even heard of a miracle of the Light that occurred without the intervention of an individual, a group, or one of the naaru. The Light is a source of strength, but it is not itself an active force. To be truly grim about it, he who waits for a miracle dooms himself to dying in wait.
The Place of "Modern" FaithEdit
Personally, I'm set in my ways. I can clearly remember when the naaru came to us and when we came to the Light. Those early tenets of the faith are what I live by and they have served me well. It makes sense that for younger draenei, those not old enough to be set in their ways, the traditional view of the Light would be troubling. It is a difficult, "mature" concept to view the central force in your life as something that, ultimately, will never directly do anything for you, but lend you its strength. For me and most draenei (and humans, for that matter), that is enough.
My opinion these new sects isn't really one in favour of it. I can see a use coming from entertaining ideas about a nearly-personified, active Light, almost a deity that "cares" about people, but I can't see the point in developing a faith around that belief. I am not the most cynical man in the world, but about this, I am very cynical. When we expect miracles from on high, we demand less from ourselves.
Politically, draenei are not unlike most races. The average draenei cares little for politics, and thank the Light that's the case. As for the "how" of our politics, that too is nothing too dissimilar, with the exception very little outright deception. Our social structure dates back into the ancient days of the unified eredar culture, with the Triumvirate (Velen, Kil'jaeden and Archimonde at the time of Sargeras' arrival) being the guiding force of our social, military, economic and academic powers.
What undoubtedly most-differentiates our politics from those of any other race is the pace. Generally, a draenei does not gain any political power until they are of an elder status, and by that time, we have developed many of the common psychological traits of our people. As a rule, the average draenei is slow and deliberate in decision making, which carries over into our politics. That isn't to say, of course, we can't react quickly to a crisis! If that were the case, we'd have been wiped out as a society hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years ago!
Simply put, without a reason to move quickly, draenei politics are straightforward, but full of countless debates, both public and private. Before Sargeras' arrival, our society was stable and secure, there was no need to quickly change, and we didn't. All the same, though we have our multiples and even different factions, all our society's political powers are subject to Velen. The Prophet Velen the Divine was a brilliant, level-headed social leader long before Sargeras' arrival and the fractioning of our people, and he has been even more so since.
Draenei Freedom Versus Human FreedomEdit
I have heard a great deal made of our "limited freedoms" compared to those of humans or dwarves, and personally, I don't see any reason to any of the arguments questioning the purpose for our society's structure. It is true that, as long as they don't outright attack the King, humans have more personal liberties than we draenei do, but one has to ask themselves why.
Over the course of their history, humans have had the ability to split apart into multiple kingdoms and rule one-another as they see fit. Until recently, if one didn't like the rule of one nation, they could leave for another. I would never argue that the independence of humans and their nations led to the downfall of most of those nations, but it is at least a contributing factor.
As for something I would argue, there's the very nature of the draenei people. When has anyone heard of a draenei working alone on anything that succeeded or wasn't somehow evil? To be truly honest, and I am certain this sounds like an insult to my own people to an outsider, draenei are not an independent people, we weren't as eredar. We have survived for as long as we have in both peace and war through collaboration and placing, as a society, a great importance on service to others. We have our factions, the general populace, the Hand of Argus, the Aldor and even the servants of the Sha'tar, but at the end of the day, we all work for the greater good of all our people. Selfishness is likely the greatest "common sin" a draenei can commit in their daily life.
As service is such a core part of our society, our military has always been central to our society. On Argus, the military existed as much as a support for private society as it policed that society, which there truly wasn't a great need for on the second count. As our exodus began, however, the military, and in particularly the then-recently-formed Hand of Argus grew into the central core of our society, in many places blending seamlessly with social authority (the Exarch caste, for instance, as leaders in the Hand).
Sargeras' arrival and the naaru influence on eredar (then draenei) society gave us the Hand of Argus and the Aldor, over time the Hand of Argus became more a holy order and the Aldor, our highest caste of priests, became more militaristic. The Peacekeepers remain the most untouched part of our culture in the last twenty-five-thousand years. Their charge is as it always has been: Protect the people. I may be a man of the Hand of Argus, an an Exarch at that, I can easily say the Peacekeepers have done incredible work for all that's been thrown at them over all this time.
In all truth, I am not a clergyman. I am a paladin, but I am a soldier and an administrator, there is not very much I can say about the actual operations of our faith from within, what I can say, however, is that the total loss of the Auchenai was one of the greatest single horrors of Draenor. There is a misconception that the Auchenai were always "dangerous rebels", and this isn't the case, they were merely our realists.
In a room of posturing Vindicators, blowhard Exarchs and passive Aldor Anchorites, it would be the Auchenai priest who would be most inclined to speak the brutal truth to bring order to the room. It is true that they had a certain grimness about them, but they were men and women who surrounded themselves with life's darkest truths and accepted them as incontrovertible reality. They were not cynics, not idealists, but our greatest, most objective critics of our society. I truly believe that had the Auchenai existed at the time of Sargeras' arrival, there would not have been a single eredar to sign their souls away to the Legion.
As for the rest of the priesthood? The Anchorites of the Aldor, Sha'tar, the few in the Hand and the rest among the general population? I can't complain, honestly. They have done a greater job of holding to their virtues than most of the other castes that live in the wider world.
There are those who speak in glowing terms about the "diminished strength" of our societal castes in this new, modern era, and personally, I don't see it. With service to society and personal virtue, there has always been a way to move up in society, and generally, only those who can't avail themselves to good acts are the ones whining about "injustice" in our system. If the castes truly were fading away, it would be an impossible crisis and the death of our society as a whole. It is not happening.
For the countless ages of peace and prosperity of eredar society on Argus, centered around Mac'aree, there were the castes. The Triumvirate gave us our freedoms and, when necessary, our direction. The Exarchs guided society and the military with a gentle, deliberate hand and a long-view of the common good. The Vindicators, who were then few in number, actively sought out threats to the stability of society, and for the longest time, their hunger for power and enemies to fight went unsated. The Defenders stood at the streetcorners and bulwarks of our towns, cities and districts, quietly waiting for a threat to crush. The Artificers and Technicians, our craftsmen, developed the infrastructure of our great culture.
For the draenei people in the past and for us in the indefinite future, the castes have been and will be our strength and stability, they are what will assure our society's ability to survive. As the Light is our strength as individuals, the castes are our strength as a society.
Again, with the modern era, there has been talk of "adjusting" the castes, specifically in terms of the shaman, or Seers as they wish to be called. I have some issue with them having the same status as Anchorites, but that kind of social power will not come to them for thousands of years if it is even on the horizon. I would glad to have their caste be as true as any other, as though a Seer has no real place in a holy order, they have proven their place in our society overall.
I never personally knew Vindicator Nobundo, and when I met first met Farseer Nobundo, I could honestly say I regretted not having known him. The Krokul who have remained within our society are a blessed few, and though they can not know the Light as they did as our kin, they have every right to stand at our sides and continue their service.