As you can possibly tell from his name, Ll’eh Spiritfriend (848-919 a.S.) was a Llaoihrr Brownie of the Praiser Clan. Although the details of the person himself have been lost in time, his name lives on in his writings, which have been brought back into the public eye again and again as an example of “traditional” or “old-fashioned” thought. They are particularly interesting as this part of history marks the middle of a long, steady period of change for the Vale Brownies. Although the traditionally hidden group had gained the means to easy travel “Outside” about 1000 years before his birth, their trade links with this strange place are still being built up today. It is clear from Ll’eh’s writings that the idea of forming communications with most of the Big People was still a much debated matter at this time.
Ll’eh was a Bluebark, but this is the only solid description we have of him as
that is typically all that is recorded next to a
Brownie’s name in the
Llaoihrr records. From other works of the same period, we can see that he
was an imposing fellow: inspiring and persuasive, but it is impossible to tell
if this was a result of his looks, or simply his skill with words. He is not
noted to have any particular astounding features, and so I am forced to conclude
that he was probably a fairly average Bluebark in appearance.
Personality. The tone of Ll’eh’s writings varies from angrily disapproving to forcefully encouraging. He is convinced of the truth in his words and thoughts; completely unwavering in his convictions. We can see his self-conviction in every paragraph, and his whole-hearted belief that he was doing the right thing. The Brownie states the facts as he sees them and only provides a glimpse of another viewpoint when he wishes to discredit it. Fortunately he does this a lot, so his work actually gives quite a good picture of the ideas of the time.
However, the Praiser’s aim and the reason for writing so many works was more than simply expressing his viewpoint. He was very clear that he wished to help other Brownies go about their busy daily life: to dedicate his own to providing guides on how others could live their’s better. The best summary of his life’s work was provided by himself.
“Imagine living is like walking through dense undergrowth. It is good to know how best to get over the next obstacle, but it is great to have a map of the forest.” -- Ll’eh Spiritfriend 901 a.S.
Some find his words pretentious and
self-serving, but this researcher believes him to be something more than that.
However ferociously he chose to express his views, and whatever is thought of
them today, he did have a higher, rather noble, goal. It is just hard to see
from the individual writings, and those which are more well-known are those
which are most disagreed with.
Biography. Sadly many details of Ll’eh’s personal life have faded with the years to the point where there is far more information in his works than there is on the Brownie himself. Although he wrote on the themes of love and life-partners, we do not know if he himself was ever tied to one Brownie, or if he lived a bachelor. However, there is no record of any children, and no recorded reason for this in his work or anywhere else.
Birth (848). A small Brownie was born to the Riverbank family, a line noted for being mainly bluebarks and living, in true Bluebark tradition, in an underground house near the river. He was given the name “Ll’eh Riverbark”.
Choosing Day (863). Ll’eh turned 15 and chose to join the Scribbler Clan, something he would come to regret later.
Choosing Day Mark II (867). After somehow realising he was not where he was supposed to be, Ll’eh left the Scribbler Clan and began an apprenticeship with the Praisers. There is a suggestion in his work that he found the tasks of recording and noting too restrictive and was more interested in writing what he called “scrolls which tell people something useful”. The Scribbler Clan were probably glad to get rid of him.
The First Script (870). Only three years into his new apprenticeship, and only twenty-two years old, Ll’eh wrote his first “useful” scroll. It gave some traditional insights into proper worship of the spirits. These were not new, but his flair for writing and persuasion is obvious.
Blossoming Career (871-882). The Brownie wrote several other scrolls meant for the instruction of others.
Receiving the Title (822). Ll’eh competed his apprenticeship, and was allowed to take the revered title “Spiritfriend” because of the huge amount of work he has already completed.
The Scrolls Keep Coming (882-917). Here the Praiser really began to make a name for himself. His well respected title probably gave him an edge in getting his words out to the public, and there are many copies of his scrolls from this period.
The Beginning of the End (917). Spiritfriend’s stream of works finally slowed. We don’t exactly know why, but at 69 years old he was probably beginning to lose his sight or becoming otherwise handicapped by his age.
Death (919). Ll’eh Spiritfriend’s death and burial.
Importance. Throughout the years Ll’eh’s works were kept alive by the sheer amount of Brownies who disagreed with this “traditional” way of thinking, and used his writings as a platform to argue against. As the years passed by, noticeably more and more people took the time to disagree with him, which is itself a good way of measuring the development of Llaoihrr thought and society. The title “Spiritfriend”, which was once one of the most respectable names that a Brownie could earn, is now a term of mockery. “Spoken like a true Spiritfriend” is a phrase used to chide and tease another Brownie for sticking to the old ways, or as a retort when prevented from doing something you would wish to.
There are two main themes to Spiritfriend’s works, although most Browniefolk only associate him with the one which is still being proved untrue. Firstly, he writes rather ferociously against going outside the Vale. As you can see from the extract below, he sees the outside world as a dangerous, inhospitable place.
“We have been granted this place of sanctuary from the rest
of the vicious, dangerous world. Our ancestors fled from the cruel
stupidity of the Big People, who kept
them as pets or livestock and failed to notice our sentience. They do not
follow the spirits, and so they cannot be expected to know truth when they
see it, or have anything but the most basic understanding of the value of
life, society, and culture.
The Praiser continued to use the other
Brownie tribes as evidence of the dangers
outside the Vale, even though this made his works one of the best collections of
information about them. It should also be noted that this debate is still
ranging today. A lot of new knowledge of the “Outside” still supports these old
theories. The thought of humans reigning
everywhere, with their dogs and cats and traps is not a welcoming one even if
they no longer eat Brownies quite so often.
Spiritfriend’s idea that
Llaoihrr should never go outside the Vale or have any contact with the evils
there is thought old-fashioned, but no right-thinking
Llaoihrr doubts that it is
a dangerous place.
The second side to Ll’eh’s work is rather different in tone and message. It has not enjoyed the same attention as the rest, and this is indeed a shame because it shows his care and dedication to helping other Brownies better themselves. Spiritfriend calls on the clan to appreciate the wealth of life around them, and the relative miracle of their home. He claims that the spirits love life of all kinds, and so the best way for the Brownies to please them is simply by living to their fullest. The image is slightly spoilt by his interpretation of “fullest” which includes nurturing all forms of life and having as many children as possible. And, of course, giving praise to the spirits at every opportunity.
The fact that Ll'eh had no children of his own and yet encouraged others to have them, may seem rather strange. There could be many reasons for this conflict of beliefs, but sadly we will never know for sure which it is. The most likely possibilities seem to be either that he was unable to find a female Brownie to commit to, or that he did and for some reason they were unable to have children. We know that he gave most of his life to writing his life-guides, but whether this was a conscious decision to remain outside of the daily bustle, or enforced upon him, is still uncertain.