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Pantheon - The Third Age - Contests
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uKulwa
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contest II: uKulwa’s Eschatology Myth

Quote:
The Holy One, Chief Sangoma of the Red Priesthood, crouched over the central fire-pit of the Temple to uKulwa, in the Holy Precinct of kwaBuluwayo, at the place of He who Slaughters with Affliction.

Its great thatched dome reared above his head, and through one entrance, he could look down the elephant-tusk flanked path to the tree in the sacred centre of the Holy Precinct, the tree beneath which the first enemy of uKulwa had fallen.

Through the other entrance, down a path similarly lined by rows of inward curved tusks, points touching in elegant ivory arches, lay the entrance to the Holy Precinct…Only through the Temple itself could the precinct be entered, an even then only by Prophet-King, Priest, or the Igazi Isiphuzi, warriors dedicated to God.

All around him, the acolytes of the Red God performed their tasks, keeping the fires lit, the censers burning, and the horde of the faithful moving quietly and reverently through the Temple.

His glance was cursory though. He knew these surroundings better than most. It had been his feet that had paced out the perimeter of the temple on the bare ground, his hands that had hung the blood-red shields of uKulwa, with their crossed assegais, on the thatch walls of this sacred place, and he who had chosen the tusks for their unblemished whiteness, and the sharpness of their points.

This was his temple, as much as Prophet-King’s or God’s, and here, within its holy grounds, he was afraid as never before. Shaking his head, he prepared to throw the bones for the fifth and final time.

“Awaaa!” The same pattern again. Ulwazi the Prophet-King was far away, near the city of the Centaurs on the south-east coast. He would have to be told of this.

Frustrated, the Sangoma paused. Every law and lore of divination insisted that the bones could not be thrown more than five times in any day. But now, in the grip of fear, or of vision, the old Sangoma threw another handful of herbs on the fire and breathed deeply of the fumes as the astonished acolytes looked on aghast.

One ran wildly, shouting for more priests, desperate to halt the old man from his course of folly. Others merely stared, wild-eyed, as, calling on his God, the ancient Sangoma threw the bones for the sixth, fatal time.

Even as more priests arrived, drawn by the acolytes cries, clouds of smoke billowed from the fire, obscuring the inside of the Temple that no man could see the walls opposite him, and from the furthest distance rumbled a voice that reverberated in their bones.

“Priest of uKulwa!” The voice thundered, threatening the very sanity of the listeners.
“you have dared that which none that love life should dare. You have broken the order of divination, and the price must be your life.”

The old Priest dropped to his knees, eyes bright with victory.

“My life, yes. But my life has its own worth, and that worth is paid in knowledge!”

Smoke billowed from the fire, narrow streams forcing their way into his mouth, his nostrils. But with his final breaths, the priest bellowed out the knowledge that he had sought with his own being, with his very life blood.

“Great hosts gather! The clash of men and Gods nears its inevitable end. And in the van, at the head of the mightiest host of all, strides uKulwa, the Lord of War, manifest in the flesh to lead the impis to Glory! Tell the Prophet…!”

The Sangoma collapsed, wreathes of smoke drifting from his body, and slowly the Red Priesthood gathered round, casting furtive glances at the smoking remains of the holiest of their brotherhood.

“Ulwazi must be told. A new High Priest must be chosen,” said one.

“At least he prophesied victory.”

“No my friend. He did not prophecy victory. He prophesied only Glory.

"But for the faithful of uKulwa, Glory will be enough.”

--From the Secret Archives of the Red Priesthood

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfulfilled
By Aardon Rishon

The Great Potential
Never was and always is
What contradiction

So what is will always be
So what is can never stay

Sixty-four stages
Initiating the first
Still Unfulfilled last

Every facet in between
for mortal fates wax and wane

When the moon is dark
When it crowds away the sun
More time yet remains

'Til should the rise meet the fall
Or one desecrate them all

Why so beautiful
This impermanent charade
Why do we not see

Intricacy leads to change
Perfection only stagnates

Rise not mountain king
While you rest so does Eiran
Yet in time you must

The apex of summer waits
Blood rises, calls, and follows

Shadow of darkness
Lying in wait for revenge
Hope and hate reversed

Confidence is its downfall
Only one agent of many

Wisdom's roots run deep
And ever blossoms anew
Seeding potential

All that was will be again
No god can contradict this
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and when the borders bleed we watch with dread
the lines of ink along the map turn red.”
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Parable of the Two Gods

There came a time when two gods fought a great battle, and each threw his strength upon the other with great abandon; yet the gods were evenly matched, and neither could land a blow upon the other, for both were of great skill with weapons. And so their battle raged across the earth for many years.
When the battle had lasted many years, the people of the earth began to grow weary of the unending clash of weapons. And in this time the Great God was upon the earth, and he sat upon the mountain and observed the battle between the two gods. One day, the followers of the red god, whose nature was war and glory, decided that they would turn the battle in his favour, so that it may finally be brought to an end. Together they climbed the mountain, and came before the Great God.
Great God, they begged him, you have sat upon your mountain for many years and watched the battle between the two gods. Will you not join with the red god and help to vanquish his enemy, so that we may have Peace?
The Great God heard their words, but he did not answer, only continued to sit upon the mountain and watch the battle below. The followers of the red god soon gave up their pleas, and returned down the mountain.
So the battle continued to rage, and the people grew more weary still. One day, the followers of the dark god, whose nature was honour and combat, decided that they would turn the battle in his favour, so that it may finally be brought to an end. Together they climbed the mountain, and came before the Great God.
Great God, they pleaded, you have sat upon your mountain for many years and watched the battle between the two gods. Will you not join the battle against the dark god's enemy, so that we may have Peace?
The Great God heard their words, but he did not answer, only continued to sit upon the mountain and watch the battle below. The followers of the dark god soon gave up their begging, and returned down the mountain.

For many more years, the gods continued their battle, and neither could ever gain the upper hand; and the Great God continued to only sit upon the mountain and watch. One day, the people of the earth, who by now knew not of the red god and of the dark god, but only of endless battle, decided that they would see that it finally be brought to an end. Together they climbed the mountain, and came before the Great God; and among them were the grandchildren of the followers of the red god, and the grandchildren of the followers of the dark god.
Great God, they said, you have sat upon your mountain for many years and watched the battle between the two gods. Know you how this battle may be brought to an end, so that we may have Peace?
The Great God heard their words, and considered. He answered them then, and rose from his seat upon the mountain, and with the Great God behind them the people of the earth decended from the mountain to where the two gods fought. As the Great God had told them, together they easily brought down the red god, and the dark god, for their long fighting had made both of them weak. And the Great God explained to the people of the earth that so long as these two gods had remained, there would be battle; should one have defeated the other, there would yet be battle, for it was their nature. Only when both gods were stripped of their power could there be Peace.
On that day, when battle had been brought to an end, all the people of the earth knelt before the Great God and gave him worship, for he had brought them Peace.
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Si vis pacem, para bellum
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Azver
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
When they were done laughing, Tesh wanted to continue.

"And what of the end, Zephyr?"

"Yes, Tesh, what of the end... Tell me of endings. What do you know that ends?"

"What ends? What doesn't end?!" the sapling exclaimed. "Each Tree's life. The life of every animal in the Forest. Each day. Each season. Each year. All things end, Zephyr."

"And so, eventually, when each Tree alive eventually dies, there will be no more Trees? No more animals? When today ends, will there be no more? We have seen our last and only spring?"

"Well... No, another follows," Tesh said. "Obviously, there are more. Things come around again. There are cycles."

"Yes. A wise man from Old Earth said: 'Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always coming back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood. And so it is in everything where power moves.'"

"Yes!" Tesh fairly shouted in excitement. "That's it exactly!"

"So then, why do you ask of endings?" Zephyr asked.

"Well, Trees and days and seasons are one thing. But the universe is another."

"Are you sure? Why would you assume that, while everything within the universe comes and goes in cycles, the universe itself does not?"

"So when the Universal Tree dies..." Tesh stopped, not knowing how to finish the thought.

"Another arises."

"Another universe?"

"Yes."

"Just like this one?"

Zephyr smiled. "Who can know what the next universe will be like? Can you tell me how many branches that sapling on the other side of the clearing will have when it is full grown?"

"No. I suppose not."

"And how much snow will fall this winter?"

"I understand."

"Yes, I knew you would."

Tesh looked thoughtful for a moment. "You said another arises."

"Yes. What of it?"

"Nothing," Tesh shrugged. "It just reminded me of folktales about a creature called the phoenix. It is consumed by fire, but arises again from its own ashes."

"Yes," Zephyr nodded. "The Universal Tree."

"What do you mean? The phoenix nests in the Universal Tree, or... something?"

"Ah, no. The phoenix is the Universal Tree."

"What?!?"

"Yes. Remember what I said about different viewpoints?"

"Yes. But..."

"In fact, back when there were deities on Eiran, in the time of my parents, there was a goddess whose father was the Universal Tree, which she saw as a phoenix."

"Which goddess was that?" Tesh asked, excited.

"Well, her name was..." and Zephyr told a story long into the night.


Lal was silent for a moment. "Azver?"

"Yes?"

"In your stories, I can't tell when Zephyr is serious, and when he's kidding."

An astute sapling. "No, Lal, neither can I."
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chapter from the Book of the Seven Churches by Philo, High Priestess of the Queen of Earth.


Quote:
Blessed be the most true Queen of Earth and grace and peace to all who harken my words. As Most Esteemed Venerant, it has fallen to me to reveal the last days of Earth, as bequeathed to me by our most gracious goddess. Through her words spoken to me, your sister, I am to tell of my visions and prophecy given to me by our most beneficent Lady.

In my Solitude Month – a time for worship and introspection – the goddess appeared to me. Beautiful in form and terrible in power. Yet, I could not look away even though the heat emanating from her burned my face. She spoke to me but used not words. Instead, a vision she gave me – a vision of the past and of the future – one more terrible than the last. And I realized that as the earth changes, so shall the end times change for not one ending does Eiran have but five. Five Earths. Five ages. With each age, the earth will change.


The First Earth was the Age of Betrayal and has long since passed away. The first age began with the Divine Wars and the ultimate betrayal of Nephrithos by Argothoth. After the slaughter of many gods, Argothoth helped the remaining deities destroy Nephrithos. Yet, those deities did not trust Argothoth and it was Solus – the First Hero – who entrapped Argothoth. The First Earth was all but destroyed and the gods decided to leave Eiran to its healing.

The Second Earth was the Age of Chivalry. The gods had returned to Eiran – new gods, powerful and good. They stood against the dark god and in effect chased him from the Earth. Yet, the World Breaker – Nephrithos in a new form – rampaged the Earth once again. After cracking the earth, it was the god Simjen - the Chivalrous, who stood against him in battle and all but defeated him. IN the end, Simjen sacrificed his power and the gods of the Pantheon cried out to the All-Fatherer to end the destruction. The All-Fatherer placed an Interdiction upon Eiran, disallowing any divine interferance on the Earth for a time. The Earth was enclosed in the Mists.

The Third Earth – in which we now live is the Age of Preservation. The Interdiction was lifted and the gods returned – smarter but still greedy and selfish. This age too shall end but it shall be destroyed by the Queen of Earth. This is her time to stand against the World Breaker and she works to strengthen and preserve Eiran beyond the defeat of the World Breaker. She will fall to the World Breaker but her task is not to win. Her task is to preserve. This age shall end in a massive earthquake caused by the Queen of Earth.


The Fourth Earth is the Age of Death. The gods will return – new and old – but the World Breaker will have had eons to strengthen. So great will be his rage that the gods will not be able to stand against him. Simjen himself will be raised from his slumber to once again battle his ancient foe and the Pantheon will rely on his skill and goodness. But the World Breaker will again be too strong and he will try to destroy Eiran. Millions will be killed and the Earth will be desecrated. Gods will battle demons and Eiran will suffer. But the World Breaker does not understand that the Earth cannot be destroyed. It is eternal and no damage can be permanent. In trying to destroying the Earth, the World Breaker will destroy himself instead. In his arrogance, he will not know his fate until the final moment when all of Eiran laughs at his folly.

The Fifth Earth is the Age of Tranquility. The end of the World Breaker heralds the age of enlightenment and happiness. Eiran will become the paradise as forseen by Calais in the Second Earth. Those who have died in the ages before shall return to Eiran to enjoy the harmony and beauty of the Earth.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teachings of Devaguhya wrote:

There are ages of Eiran and cycles of existence. I speak now of the end of all things in Eiran … and not the broader cycle of all existence. For that greater cycle will continue for longer than even the Gods can consider.

Think on this my followers. There are many types of Gods. Some were born of the AllFather and are particular to Eiran; Some are born of fundamental aspects of followers conditions given form (the God of War for example); and some, such as I myself, reflect aspects of existence; Life & Death; Creation & Destruction; Order & Chaos; the cycle of existence itself cannot turn unless these aspects are manifest (although all need not manifest on Eiran!)

I tell you this secret now. Know only to Gods who are children of Existence itself. The AllFather’s was given sway to see if His approach to reality is superior to approaches that put less direction and control into one OverGod. He has had two attempt at proving the superiority of his direct control of this world. He has so far failed. Twice he has had to intervene. He now has a third try. He will be given no more. Prophesies to the contrary reflect His desires; not reality. If the AllFather has to intervene again; or if Eiran suffers grievous harm; then the end of the world will be heralded by the cawing of a sentinel crow as it falls from the sky.

Life will be the first to leave; I will be recalled. And with my recall, all Life on Eiran will cease. I said cease, for without life there can be no Death. Creation & Order; Destruction & Chaos will all abandon Eiran … entropy will rule. Then the AllFather himself will dissipate with the evaporation of his mists. It will be as if Eiran never had existed!
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Cryak
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

page 200

Quote:
Kuwabara

There is a place, lost to time and location, in the small dark place inside of every person. Some call it a Soul, or an Infinite Is or the Little Voice. It is the connecting force between the Reality and the Illusion. Between what we see and what we feel. Since leaving the village months ago, I have begun hearing voices from the dark place inside of me.

They come when all is quiet and dark. Next to a fire or looking at the moon, they come. And they are always angry. They remind me of the stories the village elders used to tell. They way they told it, there was once a mighty storm that encompassed the entire world. It was created in the heat of battle by a mighty Warrior, and used as a great weapon against a likewise mighty Foe.

But the storm was too mighty and too powerful to be contained. In was unleashed on the world and nearly destroyed all existence. Only the guile of the Warrior saved the world, as he moved the storm outwards, and recreated it as a bastion for the world. A wall against harm.

But the storm started off as a weapon.

They called it kuwabara and it gave me nightmares. I used to imagine the mighty storm inside of my small dark place, waiting to be unleashed. I used to dream that the storm was awakened while I slept, and would wake deep in pain. Only my brother could ease my mind.

I stopped having the nightmares many years ago, but they have returned. The voice of the kuwabara has returned, and it tells me of destruction. Of power. They whisper of the end of the world. Lightning and fire. Death.

kuwabara

Do I dare to listen?

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dyr ran his fingers through the soil, gathering the potatoes into his basket. The sun was pleasantly warm on his neck, the gentle breeze refreshing on his cheek, and the land as far as the eye could see was his to do with as he willed. Potatoes here, grain over there, carrots beyond. Dyr was considering beet this season. But there was no urgency in his pondering.

Who’d have believed it? Dyr thought back on that fateful day, caught stealing his neighbour’s spuds to assuage the pangs in his belly: they’d cast him out from the village, stolen his farm (ha! The blight had soon spread from his fields to theirs). Dyr had wandered Eiran, disconsolate and begging for his keep, coveting the land but unable to buy any. Then he had found Brid. He had followed her ways, and he had been rewarded on the last day. Brid had taken away everyone else. Brid had gifted Dyr the whole of Eiran to grow his crops!

Dyr straightened and stood up. Even stretching the kinks out of his bent back felt good! He gathered up his basket and set off for his apartment in the abandoned town. Munching on a raw potato, he took his usual detour to pass by Brid’s shrine.

Dyr stopped in amazement, for Brid’s statue had changed, and was now even more lifelike – her benevolent expression seeming to bless Dyr’s soul, his work, his life.

Dyr fell to his knees and prayed his gratitude. He left the basket of potatoes at the statue’s feet, today’s offering to his goddess.

As he rose to leave, he realised that he was staring straight at a small barrel beside the statue, and his delightful day was complete when he tasted the contents – finest dwarrow ale, a gift from his goddess, and, unless he was very much mistaken, made from his own offering of grain the previous autumn!

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Naht allowed himself a satisfied smile as he finished his exacting examination of his work. Yes, he decided, this statue was the pinnacle of his work to date, and he noticed with pleasure that today’s offering, his new batch of ale, had been accepted, an indication that Brid was pleased with her statue. A chain of flowers appeared upon her brow, further vindication.

Tomorrow he would go to the shrine at the quarry, to check if his goddess had provided another block of stone to be sculpted, but in the meantime he had her latest gift to install.

Naht reminisced on his good fortune as he pulled his cart to the forest road. Growing up in a tight-knit dwarrow family, he’d always been the odd one out. While his father would praise and reward Naht’s siblings when they struck a rich vein, or prised gemstones from the rock, Naht’s fascination with and ability for sculpture drew nothing but scorn. ‘We provide the raw materials, let the other races do the namby-pamby decorating,’ he’d say. But Naht’s ability blossomed in spite of his family, and the day after his coming of age ceremony, he left the family home forever. But employment was hard to come by, for his father’s provincial viewpoint turned out to be everyone’s view on dwarrow craft.

Then Naht found Brid, and his life changed. No longer did he care about the prejudice. He proudly marked his sculptures, ‘Dwarrow-crafted, by Naht’, and accepted the lower prices. He rose high in Brid’s favour, so high that she chose only him to remain, when she took away all of the other people of Eiran.

Now his art was just for his goddess. He passed the time between sculpting, in brewing, and doing the odd jobs that seemed natural in this place, such as the errand he was on now.

The path from the town towards the forest was no ordinary one. It was made from perfectly octagonal, shining white, quartz slabs. Naht carefully placed the stone he had found at the quarry shrine in place, and hummed a little tune as he surveyed his handiwork.


Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dodra skipped along the path, tossing a stone ahead and balancing on one leg to pick it up again, in a self-taught version of a hazily remembered childhood game. She stopped suddenly, her hands flying to her mouth, and looked around guiltily, as if caught in an embarrassing act. Then she threw her head back and laughed aloud in pure joy. The joke still fresh despite being played out only for herself, every day for years.

She reached the end of the path in breathless anticipation. Yes! Another stone added! She knelt and stoked its cool smooth surface, losing herself in the prisms of reflected light, and giving thanks to Brid.

Dodra – street whore! Battered and beaten so badly that her pauper pimp rejected her! Cast upon the slagheap of misery that destitution in the backstreets of Ilyria brought. But Brid had found her, Brid had healed her, Brid had taught her well! And then, most amazing of all, Brid had chosen her! Had given her the gift of Eiran, all to herself. This empty town had called to her, and she’d settled here gladly.

Every day she skipped along this wondrous path into the forest, revelling in the blessed solitude. She gathered wild flowers, which she wove into garlands to adorn the statues of her goddess, she collected mushrooms and wild herbs, and occasionally found a freshly killed rabbit or pigeon or small deer on the path, all of which she brought back to town and laid at the feet of Brid.

Late in the evening she would return to the statue, and most days Brid would show her favour by providing a pot of succulent stew, prepared with Dodra’s offerings of that day, bulked out with succulent vegetables, blessed with divine flavour.


Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ansa gazed contentedly at her face, reflected in the water of her cooking pot. She ran a hand over the hideously scarred forehead and the birthmark there, smiling at the memory of her frustrations in a previous life.

Plumbing the depths of desperation, how many times had she self-mutilated? Trying to flay the skin off her own face, to remove the eye-shaped birthmark in the middle of her forehead. Better to attract stares of shock and pity, than hatred and fear, she had thought then. But each time, as the wounds healed over, the mark returned, and each time it returned, it resembled the evil eye more closely.

Her final attempt had not been to flay the skin – she had driven the knife with all her strength straight at the centre of her forehead, wanting death. The cheap blade had broken, the wound had become infected.

But what a blessing that had been, for in her fevered waking dreams, Brid had come to her and comforted her, had taught her self-respect and the strength of her uniqueness. And finally, Ansa had earned the ultimate reward. Solitude.

Her reverie broke as the water began to boil. Ansa bent to her self-imposed task. Every day, Brid provided her with the ingredients to prove her faith, and every day Ansa did so, cooking a meal fit for her goddess. She offered the meal up to Brid at the shrines around the town, as each glorious day faded.

Every morning, she collected the dishes from Brid, licked clean.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitch black of the vast vacuum expanded in all directions. For a second unto an age the void remained unsullied and blank.

Into this lacking of existence exploded creation. What was once neither here nor there, neither short nor long, was suddenly everywhere. Where before everything had just been as nothing frozen into a status, time suddenly filled in all space, seconds ticked into minutes and years into ages. Particles suddenly formed into gigantic planets and even bigger stars.

Much of space was blank, empty but for the far away twinkles of distant stars. For an eternity such an empty space stayed, until a bunch of gases formed into a burning star. Over millennia the star grew until it had its own planets circling it. On one such planet, a strange thing happened.

Life came into existence.

Small organisms grew into bigger ones, and over thousands of years, life grew into majestic races, intelligent races, of every colour shape and size. With this new found intelligence came new creations, they built things, made things named things. Suddenly the planet they lived one was named, Eiran.

Among the things built by the races of Eiran, many great structures were built, beautiful sculptures and majestic airships. Tribes quickly grew into civilizations covering entire continents. Overall Eiran was a happy place.

But with great intelligence comes the capacity for great acts of violence. War erupted across the world. The enlightened followers of science fought alongside and against the foolish followers of false gods in a great war. Entire races were destroyed, cities burnt to the ground. Large disasters struck the world, thousands died. In an age all intelligent life wiped itself out in the most post primitive of acts. The races of Eiran fell away into a history with noone left to remember it.

Many thousands of years later, as the world returned back to a wild and bare state free of the scars of mankind, its star grew in size, and burnt out. Fires screamed across the surface of the planet, removing any and all life left in existence. The world that was known as Eiran was no more.

Over time, the rest of the stars blinked out, one by one completing their self destructive cycle, until the very last one was gone.

Then all was still. The cycle of existence was complete and all that been was gone. Like the full coming of a cycle, space was no longer here or there, far nor near. How long it stayed empty was irrelevant, as no mortal was there to count the seconds that ticked away.

A void, pure and undefiled, was all that remained, even those who had once worshiped it had long since faded, like history itself, into nothing
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speak ov it not as one
speak ov it not as none
speak ov it not at all
for its continual
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No living thing exists without the life of something else to sustain it. Where there is creation, there is also destruction. The thirst of any man or beast can never truly be quenched until it dies.

Where once had stood hundreds of miles of jungle, a great stone road had been hacked and laid. Stretching to the north and south, the arteries of civilisation linked the great unknown of the south, the land of the snake god, with the mountains of the north.

Ekchuah had brought his wife and youngest child there. He had watched for weeks as the jungle had been burnt, had been hacked, had been levelled, and had been destroyed. Great stones had been brought where wilderness once entangled with greed. The stones had been broken into myriad pieces and laid into the earth. Fearful men and snakes with men’s bodies and arms had done the work. They were gone. Behind, they had left a stone carving beside the road they had made.

The shrine was more akin in form to a boulder, rounded, and standing as high as Ekchuah’s chest. About the edge of the boulder, carved as if hugging or choking the disk, was a great and fearsome snake. Its maw opened at the top to form a bowl for offerings. Having stared for hours, and having run his hands over and over the depictions running the diameter of the disk, Ekchuah had understood what needed to be done. The devotees of the Sun God - the fearsome Serpent of Blood, the Destroyer of the Old Ways – had an insatiable greed in pleasing their master. They demanded sacrifice and, if refused, they took with impunity.

Holding his daughter, Bacap - a girl hated by the village for the lameness in her leg and the muteness of her tongue – Ekchuah breathed deeply to stifle the great depth of his love for her. He hugged her one last time. He held her tight, over the bowl, suppressing the tears, not wanting her to guess what may come. She looked her father in the eyes - wells flooded deep with love and confusion – and she never saw what caused the sharp pain to her neck. In an instant, her own hot blood, pumping rapidly from a fast halting heart, poured down her chest and began to fill the bowl. She twitched and went still.

…. …. …. ….

The sun was almost set now, and Ekchuah and his wife were gone. Only Bacap’s still form, draped over the now crimson shrine, remained near the silent stone road. The girl’s blood had run to the very base of the shrine, filtering along the interstices of the carvings, obscuring some, emblazoning others.

Etched figures, temples, snakes and cities told the story, as the vignettes ascended and descended the circumference of the sun disk. Many of the carvings were washed so thickly in the blood of the now lifeless girl that they could not be discerned. Tiny figures of men were smote upon carven altars. Blood was poured into little bowls. A great snake presided over ceremonies.

Bacap’s life stained some of the carvings so completely, that the story of the imprisonment of the Cult of the Sun was obscured. Glimpses and outlines of pregnant women kneeling before a great snake and being fed bowls of fluid – the fluid overlain with the little girl’s blood – emerged from the crimson mask and preceded the carvings of the return of the Cult of the Sun. Gone were the hordes of faithful men thronging the base of the temple. As the carvings progressed, so too the carvings of the faithful changed from men and women to creatures hideous and cruel. Creatures with the bodies of men, but with the heads and tails of snakes. They slaughtered cowering men upon altars, and butchered their bodies for consumption.

A carven jungle was ablaze, Bacap’s blood coloured the flames red. At the centre stood a great city; above shone the sun, coiled by a great snake.

Now the carvings descended the sun disk. There were a great many carvings of cities and blazing fires; of deserts, and of death. Again pregnant women drank from bowls, supping freely of blood spewn forth by a great serpent. They held aloft to the sun babies with the heads of snakes, and with wriggling tails. Snake-headed men watched from beyond, dragging all manner of living beasts to the altars of the sun. In their eagerness to slay before the great disk, the creatures smote even themselves. They tore their own hearts out, slashed their wrists and throats, and burnt themselves to cinders. The men and other creatures were gone, and only the snake creatures remained. Yet, in the last carvings, even they too were gone.

At last, the first of the carven cities stood alone, its temple unattended. A sea of dead lay before it, and the sun had grown to three times its size. All that stood burnt to ash. All life withered and died. Even the vibrant red of the little girl’s blood, though now clotted thickly about the base of the shrine, was itself just a reminder that a life had once beat strongly but was now no more.

Behind the shrine, disappearing beyond the jungle, the sun sank into night, and darkness reigned over all.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eschatologies II

The results of the second Eschatologies contest are in! We had 11 entries, and a total of 13 voters. The authors of the most-voted eschatologies are:

1. Etzlicoatl, with 5 3/4 votes.

2. uKulwa, with 3 1/2 votes.

3. Calais with 3 1/4 votes.

Congratulations to everyone! Stay tuned for more contests Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Myths of Eiran II

Deadline: April 5, 2008
Voting Deadline: April 10, 2008

"What of the tales woven in the stars, Mother?" The little child asked, and the mother smiled. She tucked her daughter's blanket beneath the mattress, brushed away a stray lock of hair from her forehead and smiled at the child's serious, intent face. "There are many tales that are woven in the stars, my darling", the mother said, "let me share some with you."

Every age of Eiran has its myths, its legends, stories that may or may not have to do with the gods, but which inspire, awe and amaze those who hear them. Perhaps they contain a wisdom otherwise forgotten, or are merely ways to escape everyday life into a larger-than-life world. Maybe they have a seed of truth, or perhaps they are the children of a mortal's imagination. Who could say?

Here's the contest: write a traditional myth of Eiran. Like the myths in the real world - such as the tale of Gilgamesh or the many Greek or Roman myths - it should be grand, larger than life, and can freely contain divine characters or artifacts. You can create whatever myth you want, subject to three restrictions: 1) there must be no way to prove whether it is true or not; 2) The myth itself says it took place a long time ago (although you can still use today's deities if you wish - it might be just a newly born myth); and 3) It can't directly benefit any player.

Feel free to write the entry as you wish - this contest is particularly free-form. Keep in mind these myths are the kind of things people read in books, or hear around the fire; however, you can freely choose the medium through which to reveal the story. The theme is fixed, but how you develop it is up to you.

Each contestant will then receive a boost to his or her number of worshipers, depending on the votes his or her creation myth will receive. The first three winners will also receive a small Contentment boost, as well as a gift of HP. Furthermore, the three winning myths will receive a touch of "reality" to their tales (for example, if a myth features an artifact which, thus far, never really existed in the world, should the myth be chosen as one of the winners, the artifact might come into being).

Enjoy!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Myth of Manless, The Walking City

Historians place Manless’ birth between the Second and Third Ages of Eiran. Other historians say the walking city died before Eiran was populated by beasts. The mad and the wise both say that the city has yet to come. Regardless of what era Manless is said to exist, none disputes how the city was created or its ‘nature’.

Rumour is that there is a city that is slowly and inexorably creeps across the southern lands of Eiran. The buildings do not move by themselves. Instead, they are moved. Houses, inns, towers, castles, churches, stalls, even the cobbles of its empty streets, are taken apart, and the pieces carried forward to the direction the city 'moves' at and reconstructed the at its border. Only the structures along the far edges furthest from the leading side of the city are deconstructed; however, it is no great feat to guess that eventually every building will be taken apart and rebuilt at some point. The city is thus a dynamic, flowing 'organism', traveling forward at a rate of a mile a year.
Manless is an empty city. Empty of men, women and children; empty of animals, of sounds and warmth. Empty except the constant sounds of hammering, sawing, and stone and wood grinding against one another. Buildings pull themselves to pieces like entropy in fast motion, yet with order as whole structures are whittled down brick-by-brick, wood beam by wood beam. These basic elements of buildings are then sucked into the soil and dragged underground by some mysterious force. Metal, brick and wood are then disgorged at the front end of the city. It is here that the buildings are rebuilt.

Manless gains new materials not through cutting down trees or by digging quarries it is important to note that the moving city leaves nature alone but through eating other cities like a structural cancer. It heals too fast to allow kingdoms to smash or burn it down and swords and armour are dragged into the ground for use as material (and it is rumoured, bone and skin as well are used). It simply builds itself towards whole cities and towns, and then tears down buildings in its way. Manless eats towns, cities, and the inhabitants in them. It has now has grown to the size of city that could support several thousand inhabitants.

No one knows of where Manless came from, nor does anyone know of how long the creeping city has existed. Nevertheless, stories of its creation exist. It is said that it was born when the god of architects was struck blind: He planned to build a new star from the souls of dead masons. However, he needed to base his star off the sun, so he stared at it for weeks. When he felt he had enough understanding of what a star is like, he turned to his plans. At that moment, his sight left him. Bitter and angry he threw his plans off his table (which sat atop the greatest mountain in the southern continent). They floated away in the cold winds, and after many centuries landed in the middle of a field. There the plans took root like a tree, and a small town erupted from the earth. With the plans lacking any overall scheme, the small city began to move, as though seeking other cities to provide its structure (something the architect god never managed to sketch).

The creeping city has vanished. For centuries, it has been sought without success. In the years since its disappearance, the cities and towns it has eaten have sprung up again, with nothing more than old myths to remember Manless by. The last place it was seen was near a great jungle. Legends say it crept into the humid maze and was swallowed up; supposedly held immobile by the mighty roots of figs, and engulfed by creepers and ferns. However, an expedition recently returned from the jungle with a curious tale; they say they saw a vast wicker city near the northern edge. This by itself is of no consequence. Yet the explorers say they saw buildings arise from the ground, as though invisible workers were building each. No call of birds, or of the great cats, was heard. Instead, it is said that they could only hear the ceaseless sounds of hammering and of sawing.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contest III: Mythology.

Quote:
As the waning moon rose on the last night of their vigil that winter, the warriors rested in their circles of camp-fires, sharpening their spear blades and neatening the regimental dress uniforms, for the Prophet-King would be arriving tomorrow, and his unforgiving eye would personally inspect their ranks. The warriors prepared, for to incur the Kings wrath was to die, and it was meet that it should be so, for the first pride of the Warrior should be his weapons and equipment, and the second the pride of his regiment, and any who failed in these two things was not fit to hold his place in the Army of Heaven.

And so they sang their honing-songs as the stones licked the edges of their spears into razor keenness, and the u-dibi, water-boys, kept time, drumming against the ox-hide shields while taking turns to prepare and serve the trail rations they carried, so that the army itself could travel lightly. Induna’s circulated amongst the men, checking an edge here, handing out a new stone there, or offering a touch of advice until the songs wound down, and the men felt ready for the morrow.

As the sentries changed and the men began to prepare for sleep, they glanced up and saw none other than Nkosinathi, their commanding officer and Ulwazi’s greatest general, whose very name meant “God is With Us.” He moved through the circles of warriors until he reached the central fire, where, taking in hand the drink an u-dibi rushed to him, he sat at ease for a while, inquiring idly about the preparations made for the morrow, the men’s state of readiness, and speculating on the possible plans of the King while senior warriors listened closely, combing out the headdresses made from the tails of the black widow-bird that denoted their veterancy.

As Nkosinathi reclined on his shield the talk leapt from subject to subject, in the manner of men around campfires in all the worlds, some humorous, some profane, and some reverent, and as is the habit of warriors, soon enough to matters of war, and the names that battle had made great, where one tale stood out from all others.

Quote:
The Legend of the Warrior’s Shield

In the days when even the gods were young, and the first tribes like children playing in the rolling grasslands of the Plains of Opal, under the watchful eye of uKulwa, there lived in a peaceful kraal a young man blessed by the God with prodigious strength and size.

But for all his size Bhekisisa was known far and wide as the gentlest of men. He would break up fights by lifting a warrior in each hand and holding them up in the air until the indignity of their position got the better of them, and he was much loved by family and friends alike, and none disdained his peaceful nature.

He passed his days working the leather of hunters and herders, fashioning the traditional hide sandals, stout shields, water-bags and other necessities and accoutrements of life on the Plains, trading the work for what he needed or pleased him.

Now in his prime, Bhekisisa enjoyed a modest success, kept his wives and children well, and became respected for his modest wisdom and good council. But, as the people say, “sobohla manyosi. The honey will end.” Good things rarely last forever, and tragedy strikes the most undeserving of souls.

One day, as he returned from a search for deposits of the clays he used in tanning leather, he found his village under attack by a war-party from a neighbouring tribe. The attack was well underway by the time he was close enough to hear the war-cries, and the screams of the dying, and it had never been his habit to travel armed, but he threw down his samples and tools and ran, screaming his wives names, to his home and workshop, but almost too late.

Fallen like driftwood in the compound courtyard lay the bodies of his wives and children, their blood turning the red clay to mud. And gathered in a loose half-circle around the frantically crawling form of his eldest son, a squad of warriors making a game of stabbing the boy’s legs as he tried to escape.

Catching up a shield just finished, Bhekisisa felled the rearmost warrior with a single blow that crushed his spine, and bellowing the traditional cry of victory in combat, “Ngadla! I have Eaten!” he sprang headlong at the other soldiers, hewing left and right, his shield a battering-ram that drove them from his path.

Scattering first, their numbers almost halved, it seemed almost that he could drive them off with rage and strength alone. But warriors, even, perhaps especially, brutal, honourless child-killing warriors, do not suffer defeat at the hands of a single untutored and unarmed leatherworker.

With room to manoeuvre now, and accustomed to fighting together, they soon trapped the raging craftsman and feinted at him until the leader could unleash a devastating strike, that pierced the light shield and penetrated Bhekisisa’s side. He fell bleeding and the sunlight grew dim as the quickly dispatched his son, picked up their dead, and trooped from the compound.

When he awoke again it was at the fireside of an old Sangoma who lived in the nearby hills. “I did what I could for them,” she said softly as his memories flooded back. “But the village is gone. Those who survived have travelled to family in other kraals of the tribe. But there was nobody to take you with them.”

Siyabonga mama, I thank you,” he said. When I am well enough to travel I will find my cousin, who lives in the King’s kraal, until then, I will be in your debt for your charity.”

And so Bhekisisa spent some weeks with the old Sangoma, whose healing magic had worked wonders on his body. But in his mind he lived again every day the moment that his shield had failed, and his son had died.

As soon as he was well enough to walk the hundred miles or so to the King’s kraal, he set off, stopping only long enough to collect a bag of the blood-filled clay from his compound courtyard, which he carried with him as his only reminder.

With the King’s sympathy, he set up home in the kraal, and purchased with his cousin’s help, a snow white bull calf from the royal herds. For four years, until the bull attained its full growth, he lavished every care on it, not even allowing the herd-boys to graze it, but taking it out personally, and bringing it the choicest foods, not only grains, but soft sweet fruits also, massaging its flesh with oils, and bedding it in his own hut at night.

And for four years, Bhekisisa trained with the King’s army, until his life as a leatherworker was almost forgotten. With training, his immense size and strength made him into a warrior to be reckoned with, and he distinguished himself in many battles, earning the praise-name Mandla, Power. But when the four years were up, and the white bull had gained its greatest growth, Mandla went again to the King, and asked to be released from service.

The King knew that some dire need drove the man now known as Mandla, and with a heavy heart gave his permission. Mandla drove the white bull into the hills, carrying a sack of all his tools, and set up camp far from any kraal. Here, chanting a paean to the Red God, he slaughtered the white bull, and as the days passed, he tanned its hide with a mixture that included his own blood, and the bloody clay from his compound dooryard.

And always chanting, always calling out to his God for the power to do this thing, Mandla fashioned the hide of the snow white bull into a shield, the likes of which had never before been seen. Until then, shields had been small and light. Enough to deflect a thrown spear but little more. Now, Mandla brought his years of skill to the construction of a shield that was a huge leap forward in design.

Over six feet high, and three feet wide, the shield covered his body from head to foot, and side to side. Throwing spears stabbed at it bent their points, and a blow from it could crush ribs or skulls. And young uKulwa, whose own very heart was forged in the shape of a shield, looked on the work of the man, consecrated with his own blood, and the blood of the innocent, and blessed it, that whoever bore the shield would be indomitable in battle, and proof against any weapon.

And he named the great white shield Umlindi. Guardian.

And then Mandla broke camp, and armed only with his mighty shield, made his way back to the kraal of the tribe who had slain his family. And on his way he faced many adventures, and gained fame and notoriety in many battles, until at last he stood before the Chief who had ordered the attack that changed his life. That ended his honey.

He told his tale to the Chief, and challenged to combat the men who had wounded him and destroyed his world, and though some had died since, all who remained recognised his claim, and stepped forward to offer him peace or revenge as the god saw fit. But when the first came to the ready, Mandla held up his hand.

“All at once, as it was on that day,” he said. And when the Chief would have objected, he insisted.

And so it was that five years later, the half-squad of killers stood again before the giant leatherworker, determined to win their trial. But however they wove and stabbed, however they thrust and feinted, the huge white shield deflected their every blow, foiled every tactic. And now flicked out, breaking a spear arm like a twig, a kneecap like a macadamia nut, until at last Mandla stood alone, surrounded by the twitching bodies of his enemies.

The Chief stood, and granted that he had been successful…the right of trial over, their lives were his to dispose of as he pleased. And Mandla shouldered the great shield and walked silently from the camp. And he passed through many stories on his return to the kraal of the King, but at last he stood, weary and disheartened before him, where he told the sorry tale.

“And now my son?” asked the King

“Now Nksoi, my stomach is empty. I dreamed for all this five years of the moment when they would be helpless before me…meat for the slaughter. And when it came, I knew it was for nothing. My family is still dead. I have gained nothing and it has cost me much. It has driven me to wars and death. The only worthy thing I have done has been this shield, and even that served my purpose so well that I am dismayed. This is a shield for a great warrior…not a worker of leather.”

“But you are become a great warrior my son.”

“No Nkosi. I have become a fighter and killer yes…but I am not a warrior. War is the sire of us all, but some he makes men, and some he makes gods. In strife do all things begin, and in strife end. I do not dispute that. I saw both my beginning and my end in strife. But now I have ended. What kept my stomach full these years and gave me the life I should have lost is gone.”

And Mandla walked from the King’s presence, and dug a barrow beneath the hill where he lay down on his shield and died. Dead, as uKulwa promised, of no weapon. And the King ordered the barrow sealed and forgotten, and could never decide if Mandla, once Bhekisisa, had been a fool or a wise man.


“And there to this day,” concluded Nkosinathi, “remembered but lost, lies the shield Umlindi, destined to await a great warrior who will one day claim her in defence of the tribes.

According to some prophecy anyway.”

And the listening warriors laughed as the general’s casual contempt of the mystical arts dispelled the suddenly sombre air. As warriors they preferred a more tangible world. Prophecies were the realm of priests, and thankfully so. They preferred to believe in their spear-blades. But a shield like that, that was something a man could believe in.

“What is most interesting though is that it is from the tale of the Warrior’s Shield that the Prophet-King Ulwazi took the design for the shields we now carry. Not being giants of course, we don’t have them quite 6 feet, but they cover us from head to foot, and side to side, as did Umlindi. And there are those that say that the hill beneath which she lies is the very hill around which kwaBuluwayo was founded.”

The warriors dispersed to their beds, and there was scarce one of them who did not fall asleep that night thinking about the mighty shield which bore the personal blessing of uKulwa.

– From the Oral History of Khumbula, the Rememberer and The Fireside Tales

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Labyrinth

Oba the orphan peered through the crack in the sewer wall. ‘Are you there?’ he whispered hoarsely, glancing around anxiously in case he’d somehow been overheard. A hacking cough in reply, and Oba urgently shushed through the crack. ‘Not so loud! I’m not supposed to talk to you. I’m not supposed to talk to anyone! Not just because…..because I’m lonely….anyhows,’ the last muttered under his breath.

‘Ah, child! Brid’s not going to strike you down for thirsting for a lesson, is she now? How else can you learn, how else can you progress? Now, what are you after hearing tonight? How about I tell you the tale of the labyrinth?’

The Labyrinth! What a grand place it must’ve been! To one of them up top, these sewers would seem labyrinthine. But these’re nothing in comparison! Ah, you could’ve wandered for days in the Labyrinth, and never met a single living being, though there was plenty that lived there. It truly would’ve been a paradise for the likes of us. Bigger than any city that ever was, was the Labyrinth. And not just sideways and forward-and-backwards, neither. The Labyrinth went up too, and down further than was ever measured. Made from the bones of the earth, it was, raised up through the ground, and leaving all the holes beneath, endless caves and caverns, with mushrooms, and critters to eat, and up on top, well it was filled with plants and huge trees, that themselves were part of the Labyrinth, for you could walk the branches hunderts of feet above the ground, with fruit and squirrels and stuff there for the grabbing. And them trees, their roots grew down through the caves so what was a way through one day, would be twisted or gone a week later. Changing all the time. And all sorts of people lived in the Labyrinth, but because the place was changing all the time, they’d never be able to commit. Two people would meet, then the next day one went for grub, they’d never be able to find their way back. No relationships. No weakness. No depending on others. Just weren’t possible. What a place that would’ve been, eh? Eh? It were lost itself, though, ages past. Funny that, int it?

Legend has it that a woman, who’d lost her child in there, prayed to a god to help her find it. Her god was a god of the earth, of fields or farms or something like that. The god took pity on the woman, and came down to Eiran, and entered the labyrinth to search for the child. Well, you can guess what happened – the god got lost too! This god, he wandered around the labyrinth for years upon years, and as you would if you were looking for something for that long, he went a wee bit mad. Now, a mad god’s not something you’d want in your neighbourhood, is it? So as rumour spread, people started to shun the place, and a generation or two later, they’d forgotten where the damned thing was altogether! Now all that’s left is the story. The Labyrinth’s still out there though, just nobody knows where!

Oba ‘What happened to the child?’

‘The lost one? He came back home next day. Damned hysterical woman only thought he’d gone into the Labyrinth.’
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

T'esta had been visiting the cities of Shaldir loyal to Devaguhya. She discussed with the leaders of each the preparations they must make to be ready for the coming time of conflict. It was serios and somber business and she looked forward to some relaxation at days end.

As dusk came she was resting as was her want with a group of young ones. The youngest, attracted by her beauty and unabashed as youth are, would follow her in each city she visited. Her visits with them during the evenings allowed her to set aside her concerns and enjoy their innocence.

This evening, in the hearth room of the main inn, with the gentle crackling of the fire, the children asked for a tale of the second age! One little girl, Helthea, yelled "Tell me about romance!" A brazen boy named Josh stuck his tongue out at Helthea and said, "Naw!! Yuck!! Tell me about Gods! And battles!!"

As the other children laughed and offered their suggestions, T'esta chuckled, "How about I tell you about both!" She began in a low voice:

"During the second age, one of the most powerful deities called to Eiran was the Lord of Chaos and Destruction! Our records suggest he was from beyond Eiran and ultimately almost beyond the strength of the AllFather himself! We do not know his true name ... but some scrolls refer to him as AK and others Asta. Regardless, he was a powerful deity who both aided and harmed Eiran as is the nature of Chaos!

It was said that his destructive passions were tamed for a time by the love he held for his wife, a Goddess of dreams the records name Mithyaat. For the love he held for this goddess he created a large Ruby heart. None know how large it actually was, some scrolls suggest the size of a mountain! *chuckles* But that clearly must be an exageration. What we do know from the most sacred scrolls is the following passage from a priest of AK himself!


Quote:
and our lord placed an essence of CHAOS at the center of the HEART … entwined with the atoms of the Ruby … it made the HEART echo the LOVE that AK has for Mithyaat. A glow is … not quite visible, but perceptible from the heart … it beats to the Lord of Chaos and Destruction's passion. The pulsing of this CHAOS is pitched so that the HEART is not harmed, nor would it be even with the passage of eons!


It is said that a great battle ensued at the end of the second age, and the gods rose against AK and his allies and threw him down. We do not know how, but his lands were smashed and the heart destroyed! But ... it is said that centuries after the end of the second age, merfolk found a ruby in the shape of a mortal heart ... it was no larger than giant's fist ... and it beat with an echo of chaos!

We know not whether this is true, or where this heart might be, nor what power the passion of chaos and destruction might possess. But it is said that the seaching for this 'heart' is the ultimate lover's quest!"


Helthea squealed, "Oh Josh!! Will you find it for me!!" "YUCK!!!", the youth exclaimed as he launched himself at Helthea to the squeals of delight and laughter of the other children. T'esta found heself laughing as well as she tried to separate the play-combatants!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bride and the Well:


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On a night with no moon, a priest, on his way to somewhere else, came into a village. It was late, all the windows were shaded, and no one stirred. Not wanting to bother anyone, he carefully unrolled his sleeping mat on a comfortable plot of grass by the village well, pulled a robe around himself and went to sleep.

Later that evening, the priest, awoken from restless sleep, saw standing next the well an old woman, wearing bride’s dress, looking intently at the wooden post that held the bucket.

“Where have you gone, my love? I have waited here, where we used to measure our height together as children, for you to return.”, the woman said.

The woman then looked down the well.

“Remember when we used to drop pebbles down the well and made a wish?” she said into the well.

“Can I help you find someone?”, the priest asked the woman, “Perhaps I could give you light to find him with?”

With that, the woman turned towards the priest, gave him a rueful look and vanished.

In the morning, the priest asked the headman of the village about the woman by the well.

“In a time that was old when our grandparents grandparents parents were young, a boy and girl grew up in the village together,” the headman began. “When they were young they played together and often, they would measure their height by the well, against the wooden post to which the bucket was attached. Also, by the well, they would drop pebbles into the well and make wishes to the sound of the echo of the pebble splashing into the water. As they became older though, they began to prepare for the roles that they would take in life and spent less time together; though each thought of the other often.”

“It was a time of trouble, as most times are, and the boy, now a man, went off to fight for this or that king against this or that foe and the girl, now a woman, stayed in the village where everything is the same in a never ending way. In time measured in years though, the man returned to the village. He heard, to his surprise, that his the friend of his youth hadn’t married. ‘Why’, he asked, ‘haven’t you married?’

“‘You mean to say that you don’t know for whom I have grown my hair long, and have waited for all these years?’ she said to him.” The headman continued. “The man then knew the answer, for he had unknowingly done the same, though it hadn’t occurred to him in those words.”

“So they arranged to be married. Before the ceremony, on the day of the wedding, with the woman dressed in her bridal gown, an urgent summons came for the man. He was needed by the king for another war. No time could be made for the ceremony, and so away he went, promising to return. This time, however, return he did not. The war consumed his life.”

“And so, the woman waited the long years, never marrying, until she too left life. At times in the long years since, she could be seen on nights with no moon, in her bridal gown appearing as she was late in life, standing beside the well where she and the man had played as children.”

Thus the headman finished his story.

Now addressing the priest, the headman asked, “Perhaps, as a priest, you may know something about how to give the woman rest?”

The priest answered, “Tonight, may I roll my sleeping mat again by the well?”

“By all means.” the headman told him.

So when evening came again, the priest rolled his sleeping mat again on the spot of grass by the well. Again, after restless sleep, the priest awoke to find the old woman, dressed in her bridal gown, again standing beside the wooden post. As she went to look into the well, the priest arose and walked beside her. Without looking at the woman; the priest took from his pocket a pebble and dropped it into the well. As the echo from the pebble came back to the priest, he breathed a wish into the well.

Out of the corner of his eyes, the priest saw a moonlight like flash of light. Turning he saw the woman, not as she was when her days upon Eiren were done, but as she was on the day that was to be her wedding day. And beside her stood the man, as he was in the prime of his life on that same day, before war consumed him.

The priest then said, “I call on all of the gods and goddesses of Eiren to witness, I name you married in their sight!”

With that, the couple smiled and bowed to the priest. They then turned towards each other, embraced, and slowly faded from sight.

From that night on, the old woman in the bridal gown was never seen beside the well.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Calais' Tears

Four brothers lived together in peace and harmony. They lived alone, away from any city or tribe. They hunted, fished, built their home, cooked and cleaned. They were good men, content in their lives.

One day while hunting, the oldest brother came across an abandoned baby girl in the wilderness. She had been placed atop a stone, as if on a sacrificial alter. Looking around and seeing no one near who could have left the babe, he gathered her up and brought her home to his brothers.

Over the years, the brothers raised the girl as their own sister. She cooked and kept thei house while they hunted, fished, and chopped wood. She learned how to tan the hides of their captures and dye the skins with different pigments of earth and plant. She knew how to pound the skins until they became the softest leather and she made their tunics and sandals from them, stitched and decorated elaborately. she had indeed become their little sister and enjoyed the freedom of a peaceful and fruitful exsistence.

It came one day that the oldest brother said, "We must hunt further away from our home for the animals have learned to stay away from our land." He went out to hunt, but never came back.

2fter two weeks, the second brother said, " Our eldest has not returned. i shall go out and look for him." He left but did not return.

Two weeks later, the third brother followed suit, caliming to find the other brothers and bring them home. Alas, he too did not return.

The fourth brother and the sister were distraught with worry. After two more weeks passed, the fourth brother declaired that he too would leave and find the brothers and bring them home.

For a month the sister waited but her brothers never returned. She went to the edge of their lands every day to watch for their return but to no avail.

One evening with the sky setting and causing the land to turn pink, she could hold back no longer. Tears gushed from her eyes and she could not sto weeping.

She stayed where she was until dark and until she could cry no longer. She sat on a rock, her swollen eyes staring at the ground, seeing noting. Yet the ground began to sparkle in the moonlight and the sister reached down to pick up a pebble. It was black as obsidian but sparkled gold deep within it. It appeared wet so she put the pebble in her mouth and sucked the water from it.

Tired from her emotions, she fell asleep there with the pebble in her mouth and swallowed it in her sleep. The next morning she began her new life without her brothers, having grieved for their loss the night before.

Two months later she found she was with child. This made the sister very happy. She would no longer be alone. She now greeted each day with anticipation of the baby.

A son was born to her and although he was beautiful in her eyes, he was different. His skin was white like alabaster and hard to the touch and made of stone. She raised him strong and cunning so that he would be able to hunt and fish and chop wood and build a home like her brothers. She told him every night the story of her brothers and their adventures.
The boy grew to manhood, finely sculpted and strong and cunning.

He announced to his mother that he would go find his uncles. On hearing thus news, she begged him not to go for fear of losing him too.

"Mother," he said simply, "this is my purpose. This is what you have raised me to do."

With that she let him go, terrified that she would never see him again.

The man left his lands and traveled far from home. No other travelers did he meet nor villages did he pass. He lived off the land, using the knowledge his mother gave him to survive.

One day he came upon an old woman at a stream. She acted startled to see him but beckoned to him. "Ah, young man, will you help an old woman with her burden?"

He went to her side and picked up the bundle of twigs she had been carrying. He followed her into her cottage on the bank of the river where he followed her inside and placed the bundle down

It was a simple and crude cottage with few comforts. Cloth bags were heaped up in every corner and dusty pots stood on every shelf. It was dim but dry despite the proximity of the stream.

"Sit down my boy and let me fix you something to eat." She picked up a stone knife and began chopping vegetables on her small table. As she worked he looked more closely at the cottage. He looked at the bags in the corners and notice a familiar pattern on them. It was his mothers needlework pattern!

Suddenly suspicious, the man turn his head to look at the old woman. As he did, she had come toward him and had stmbled on top of him, stabbing him in the heart with her knife. But the blade had broken against his stone skin.

"Oh forgive me, young man. I am so clumsy these days! Here let me get you something to drink."

She reached around him and retrieved a wineskin and turned back to her table to pour him a draught.

He could see her clearly now and knew who she was. She handed him the cup which he took and quickly drained. He put the cup down and looked at her. Her eyes began to sparkle and she began to cackle. Her voice became the deep laugh of a man and in a flash of darkness, the old woman disappeared and in her place was the mad amd powerful Mage of the Creek.

Dressed in black and smelling of sulpher he laughed an evil and terrible sound. "YOU are my final triumph! I have given you poison and you will soon be dead!"

When the man of stone did not reply the mage went on. "Your uncles stole from me my chance at immortality! The baby girl they found in the wilderness was the goddess Calais in human form. She was to be sacrificed to the Great Beast and in exchange for her death, I was to gain her immortality. I would have become the lord of earth and death and your uncles stole that from me. I cannot touch her now but I can hurt her in every way possible. She was foolish enough to tell you their story and you were foolish enough to come looking foe them. Wwith your death, surely Calais will die"

He roared with laughter and failed to see the man of stone stand. The mage opened his eyes, and feeling that his victory was complete, waited for the man to speak. The man did not speak, however, but just looked at the mage with pity in his eyes.

Softly, the man said "You never understood, did you." The mage gasped. "No" he breathed and began to step away. Deep within the man, a pulsating heat began. It pumped to the surface of his skin and began to crack the stone surface, hot light shinig brilliantly through. Slowly the alabaster skin was replaced by hot magma and the man transformed to the goddess Calais. With a thunderous explosion, she revealed herself to him.

"YOU are the fool, mage. When you left me on that stone to be sacrificed as a babe, I reverted back into earth. Do you take me for a stupid goddess??!!! That i would allow a mere, low human to hurt me?? No. There I stayed in the earth until the sister waited for her brothers. Her tears awakened me and her body brought me to life." She paused to look at him as he cowered.

"You thought to be the king of earth and death? Well you shall have earth but you will never have death!"

With that, Calais threw a shot of magma that hit the mage square in the chest. It spread over his entire body, burning him and engulfing him. His screams where drowned when the magma traveled into his mouth and down his throat. His arching and writhing slowed as the magma hardened hin into a pillar of granite, the look of horror forever sculpted on his face.

As he stopped movement and the magma lost its vibrance, Calais approached him. "Here you shall have your eternal life!. The birds shall sharpen their beaks on you for all time until you are the size of a grain of sand. Fom this you shall never be released and shall never die until the last bird scrapes its beak on you. Your spirit will then travel to the depths of hell to be devoured by the very Beast you sought to sacrfice me to. Enjoy your encasement."

Calais gathered up the the cloth bags and brought them back to the land of her uncles. There she buried them and spoke divine words over the graves. With that she ascended back to the heavens.

The next day, the sister waited for her son to return but instead was greeted by her four brotthers all hale and hearty and alive. They told her the story of the old woman and their nephew who was really the goddess Calais in disguise.

From that day on the sister used the stones like the one she had sucked and swallowed - called CALAIS TEARS - to decorate their clothing and sandals.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“L-rd Dragon…”

“Yes, Fetima.”

“Before he left, Cheiron once asked you for the story of Creation, and you turned the tables on him by asking him to sing the lay of Creation as we have been taught since the cradle. You have told us of The Lady, and a few facts of your own people now gone.

“Will you share with us a tale? A tale of the Second Age? One we may not have heard?”

“Hmm…

“How does the story of a challenge sound? A challenge I thought I was issuing, but turned out not to be so?

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As a weyrling, if I do say so myself, I was a challenge to the weyrlingmasters. I loved to learn, and I absorbed all of my lessons like a sponge. Almost always, upon the first hearing, I could recite the lesson back verbatim. This did not always mean I intimately understood the deeper meaning of each lesson, for that has always come later to me, but whereas my weyrlingmates needed repetition to retain the basic lesson, I would engage the masters in discourse on the subject until my curiosity was quenched on the matter.

This led to some jealousy in my weyrlingmates, and trouble tended to follow me. As well, I soon was equal in knowledge to that taught by the weyrlingmasters at my Weyr, and the decision was made to send me to study the arcane arts practiced by my great Uncle, The Shaman of the Weyrs, Senex.

You must understand, Senex was already ancient when I was sent to him, long before I flew to the new lands when the mists parted. I was cocky, full of young mischief, and found it difficult at times to settle down in meditation and contemplation. But when Senex shared his knowledge, I was enthralled. I willingly sat at his feet and listened.

The time soon came where I wanted to prove myself to my Uncle. I wished to show him there was something I studied on my own, that if I asked him about it he would need to ask me for more information. So, I studied. I searched for ever arcane texts, and would inhale them. Then I would begin a discourse on the subject with my Uncle. And always, always, he was knowledgeable on the subject, and would engage in lively discourse on the matter with me, until he would ask me a question I could not answer.

Again, I thrived in discourse. But deep inside, my resentment at his knowledge being more thorough than mine ate away at me. It became an obsession, to find something my Uncle could not answer. Then it hit me. It was so simple, this plan of mine. And there would be no way Senex could answer my question correctly.

I would find a new born chick, a fledgling. One not yet able to fly. I would take it from its nest, cup it in my claws, and go to Senex. Then I would ask him, “Uncle, tell me if you can. This bird I cup in my claws, is it alive, or dead?” He would not be able to answer correctly you see, because if he said it was alive I had every intention of crushing it before opening my claws to show him the dead bird. And of course, if he said it was dead, I would open my claws to show the living thing.

It was a cruel plan, yes. But one I saw no way of not winning.

A spring day dawned, bright and beautiful. Very much like the days slowly coming upon us now. It was an easy exercise to find a nest with young chicks in it. I took one in my claws, and went in search of my Uncle. He was not difficult to find. He was where he nearly always was, in the cavernous weyr under the message drums where most of his teachings and rituals took place.

Slowly, reverently, with malice in my heart at the way I planned to trick him, I approached my Uncle. He turned his learned head towards me, and a small flick of flame escaping in surprise was all that gave away his awareness that I was up to something unusual. “Ah, Raucous, come sit. What esoteric subject have you decided to discuss today?”

“None today, Uncle. Instead I have a simple question of observation.”

The chick was chirping and its feathers were rustling through my claws. It was very obviously alive. Senex kept looking at me, his eyeridges raised in polite enquiry, waiting for me to continue.

I started to snicker, I couldn’t help it. “‘In my claws, Uncle, I hold a baby chick. Tell me, with all your wisdom. Is this chick alive or dead?”

Senex gave a start and looked at me deeper. I thought I saw a flicker of concern pass over his brow. Then, his visage cleared, and a huge smile crossed his face. I was puzzled, and angered. “Tell me! Tell me your answer, now!” I demanded.

Smiling at me warmly, Senex answered calmly and with the wisdom of the ages said, “The answer to that question, my son, is in your claws…”

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In one of the many small villages that line the northeast coast of Imray lived a farmer. While tilling the soil one day, he took a break. Leaning on the end of his shovel, a plain and battered thing that was not outstanding in any way, he looked up at the clear sky and saw a hawk flying above, seeming to float effortlessly. The hawk was also ordinary in every aspect, though its majesty inspired a sense of longing in the farmer. “How nice it must be to soar so easily. I wish I was a hawk,” the farmer said.

Aarklar had been observing the farmer and decided to grant his wish. Moments later, the farmer who was now a hawk was gliding through the air. He was greatly enjoying his newfound freedom when a fierce wind picked up, buffeting him across the sky. “Ah, it is not the hawk that has it easy, but the wind. I wish I were the wind so that I may go wherever I choose.”

Again, Aarklar granted his wish, turning him into a current of air. The hawk that was now a great wind swept across Imray. He flew above the clouds and then down through canyons and across the plains. But when he came again to the coast, he felt himself being moved in ways he did not want to go. As only a being of air could, he saw the god Dagon shaping the wind to blow a great storm across the sea. It was then that he realized that it is only the gods who do as they please. “I wish I were a god, so that all of Eiran would bow to my will.”

Smiling, Aarklar placed his robes around the wind, granting the farmer who was a hawk who was the wind all the power at his command. The new god found himself with unimaginable power. He gave orders to the prophet to have his field cleared of every stone, smote his neighbor who always let his sheep graze on his side of the fence with a curse, and reveled in the worship of mortals. But soon he heard the demands of his worshippers, more insistent than his wife when she had been heavy with child. He felt his power fractured by a group of followers forming their own ideas about who he was. And he struggled to make sense of the morass that was the politics of the gods of the Pantheon. “How easy it is to be a mortal,” said the farmer that was a hawk that was the wind that was a god. “I wish I were one again.”

And so the farmer found himself back where he began. The sun had not moved an inch, though the hawk could no longer be found, nor could the shovel. After retrieving another from a wooden shed, this shovel as plain as the one he had misplaced, the farmer returned to tilling his field with great satisfaction.
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