Prologue


In the beginning there was a great void out of which came two of the first and the greatest of the gods, Ifir and Era-Gragiya, the immortal Lord and Lady of the skies. Together they created the first race of immortals, their children, the mighty Erai. Era-Gragiya first give birth to golden haired twins, a son called Nir and his sister Vea whose names mean the sun and the moon. They were a restless duo, forever chasing each other across the dark sky. Soon Ifir grew tired of their antics and he formed small balls of light with his hands and let the twins play with them. They each started to grab handfuls of light and throw them at each other. The goddess Vea hurled them randomly into the sky and thus out of the blackness the stars were formed.

Yet still the game did not last and it was hardly long until the pair became restless again. Ifir used all his power to create a much larger ball of flame and light, so bright that it lit up the whole sky. He then told the twins to move to opposite ends of the skies. Nir grabbed it first and used his strength to throw it towards his sister. Vea saw the ball crossing the sky but it remained distant. As the light moved away from him, – Nir-, exhausted from his ordeal, lay down in a blanket of clouds for rest. Many hours would pass until the ball finally made its way to Vea. Like her brother, she used all her skill to lift the orb and throw it back. It was then her turn to rest as the light moved, growing ever brighter as it made its way back towards Nir. And so, as Nir and Vea continued day and night, the sun and moon came into being. It is said that Nir sleeps when the sun sets and the ball makes it’s way towards his sister while Vea sleeps when the sun rises.

Ifir and Era-Gragiya had other children besides: a daughter, Afa – the queen of the seas – an immortal being with wave-like blue hair and a fishtail instead of legs; a son, Atar – the god of war who rides across the skies atop mighty horse; another son Silyan, the brown-haired, bearded nomad, – Lord of the forests, hunting, animals and beasts; the flame-haired Fiehri ,- god of fire and volcanoes, – a patron of smiths and craftsmen; and finally the youngest son Makar, – Lord of the underworld, – a grim-looking being with a disfigured face and grey eyes so sensitive that he could not bear to even look into the light of the sky, for this reason that Makar always dwells in the shadows and keeps to himself.

Ifir joined hands together with his children and their power combined to create the world. And from the earth’s very core crawled out another immortal being also counted among the Erai – a pale skinned and copper-haired, earth goddess named Lavinia. With Nir and Vea playing in the sky, Ifir allowed the rest of his children to live on the newly formed lands. Silyan planted the first seeds and trees began to grow, with him came the animals. Lavinia gazed over the vast lands and stretched out her arms to create fields, beaches, deserts and mountains. Afa filled empty craters with water and the vast space became the sea into which she leapt and there she remained. Fiehri looked to the mountains and used his power to set one alight thus creating the first volcano. There, inside the volcanic rock, among the ash and lava, he forged his home. While Atar explored the lands on his horse before vanishing again towards the sky.

Makar though, refused to move and hid himself under a fresh tree, standing remaining deep in the shadows. Seeing this, Lavinia took pity on him and as she clasped her hands together, the earth trembled and cracked creating a rift in the ground. There, deep under the surface Makar crawled into a place of no light or shadow. It was in these cold halls of darkness that Makar made his home. He soon sealed the sole entrance with iron gates and the place became known as the underworld – the Halls of Makar. The Lord of the dead then created an army of shadow beings to guard his new kingdom, these became known as the Morkrai.

Up in the sky, inside her palace of wind and cloud, Era-Gragiya felt an evergrowing sadness as she thought of her son Makar sitting alone in his dark halls. There she worried of how lonely he would become. And she wept. Seeking an end to his wife’s anguish, Ifir collected one of her tears in a dish, from which he formed another immortal being, a new Erai – the slender, raven-haired Morae, the Lady of sorrow and shadow. Morae cloaked herself in shadow, flew down to the earth and dug her way into the underworld. Enchanted by her appearance Lord Makar opened the iron gates and welcomed her into his kingdom. There she remained and came to rule as his queen, the Lady of the dead, bringer of sorrow and countless tears. They say that the souls of the dead pass through the iron gates to stand in the cold halls awaiting Lord Makar and Lady Morae’s judgment. It is also said that the verdict of Makar is final and can never be reversed. Thus once the judgment has been passed, fate is sealed and souls are trapped within Makar’s lonely Halls.

After creating the mountains and the fields, Lavinia journeyed to the sea shores. There she took some of Afa’s water and mixed it with clay. From those bare ingredients she made figures, both men and women alike, beings resembling the Erai though less fair and perfect. Though pleased with how lifelike the figures appeared, Lavinia was frustrated that her attempts to bring them to life had failed. From the skies, Ifir gazed from his palace intrigued by her work. He flew down to the shore. As she pondered over how to fix this problem, Ifir knelt beside her. His hand reached out to hers and their combined powers suddenly bringing the figures to life. Thus the mortal race of men was created. The newly awakened mortals gazed in awe at their creators and they went down on their knees in front of their new Lords.

Not yet satisfied with what they had achieved, the Erai then decided to create new beings to help them maintain their realms. Thus, another immortal race was formed – the Enai, the lesser gods or elves as some folk call them. Thereafter the Enai were designed to be the servants of the Erai. Afa’s Enai could be found swimming with the fish and other water beings in the rivers, lakes and sea. Silyan’s Enai roam the forests, tending to the trees, collecting berries and fruit, watching over the animals. Fiehri’s fire Enai guard his volcanic palace and work with metals and precious stones. Atar’s warrior Enai ride with him across the sky and sometimes they ride down on the earth; where in Arhia province people believe that his Enai also ride past battlefields watching over soldiers. There is a tradition of burying dead soldiers with their swords in the belief that Atar will venture out into Makar’s Halls and choose some warrior souls to ride along with him and his Enai.

They stand above, all bar the servants of Makar. For these were not light beings, not Enai but Morkrai, ghastly creatures of shadow and darkness some folk refer to as dark elves. They say the Morkrai come to collect the buried dead to guide them into the Halls of Makar. As the souls enter, they open the iron gates to escort them towards their awaiting judgment. Only those deemed truly noble and pure of heart may be permitted to leave Makar’s Halls and pass beyond, through a pale flame connecting the earth to the skies. Those fortunate souls are thereafter allowed to dwell in Ifir’s palace in the skies, a beautiful place of light and color where they may find rest. Whereas dead criminals are stripped of their possessions and buried with nothing but a stone slab to mark their graves with engraved with the words “Morkrai, morkrai errari en kar , envenri fe ahre noer Erai Makar” (“May the Morkrai guard them for all of time, imprisoned in the cold halls of the Erai Makar”). The Morkrai guard the others within the Halls until the time Lord Makar passes his judgment. Many believe that by burying the dead with something of value they will be granted an audience with Lady Morae. They say that if a soul brings her a gift she will hear their plea. The Lady of sorrow will listen and pass her own judgment, proffering a chance to prove one’s worth and find a peaceful afterlife in Ifir’s palace. Many imagine that only she possesses the power to convince her husband into granting a pardon to the righteous of souls. For Lord Makar and Lady Morae are usually of a similar mind – an agreement between them is always reached and their judgment is final.

After the Enai had settled the world, Ifir asked Lavinia whether she would like to join one of his children on their newly formed lands. She agreed yet struggled to decide in which of the realms she hoped to remain. Ifir then suggested that she visit his sons in their respective domains before making her choice. First Lavinia visited the sun god Nir. The bright light stung her eyes and she quickly grew restless. Once Nir threw the large ball across the sky he grew tired once more and fell asleep. Lavinia thus soon bade him quiet farewell and left. She returned to the earth, there in the forests met with Lord Silyan, her friend and kindred spirit. Her presence in the woods was welcomed by all, as the birds sang and flowers started to blossom. His Enai prepared a feast and they danced and played pleasant music with their wooden flutes. But as time passed Silyan grew bored of his surroundings and he wished to move on to other lands. And so, he simply wondered off with his Enai and Lavinia found herself alone once again. Soon enough the war-god, Lord Atar, arrived on his galloping horse and carried her with him. Yet quickly Lavinia grew tired of the journey and after a just while she jumped off the horse, leaving Atar to look back and simply wave at her before riding away.

Having seen her trails, Ifir suggested that Lavinia should visit his son Fiehri within his volcanic palace . Fiehri’s Enai welcomed her and they opened the stone gates. The flame-haired god of fire made his greeting and he let her sit by his side on a throne of hematite. Fiehri then offered her a gift, a necklace with precious stones, which he had crafted with the help of his Enai. Lavinia quickly grew to love the rocky caves which reminded her of her old home within the earth’s core. She also became fascinated with Fiehri’s extensive knowledge of metal, stones and minerals. Many days did they spend together sitting by the fire, watching the embers flickering and the ever-flowing lava inside the volcano.

Then Ifir decided to pay a visit to Fiehri and asked whether Lavinia had reached a decision. She smiled at him and reached out her hand towards Fiehri. – “I wish to stay here”- she declared. And so it was that Lavinia, the earth goddess came to marry Fiehri, the god of fire. Every autumn, as the harvest season drew near she left Fiehri’s realm to walk through her fields and meadows assisted by her Enai. Then once the season changed she returned to her husband in his palace of rock and lava.

The race of men began to worship the Erai and they continue to beseech them in times of need. They pray to Ifir in the sky so that he brings good weather. Each day they gaze in awe at the sun and leave a small offering of flowers to the god Nir thanking him for his light. As night comes, they pray to his twin sister, the moon goddess Vea so that her light will grant them rest and bring good dreams. While fishermen and sailors prayed to the sea goddess, Afa, asking her to be gentle and to steady her waves as they drag their boats to water and set ships to sea. They fear her anger might cause a storm to sink their ships and lose their catch . Worse still, they worry that at her behest her Enai may pull them into the depths. Farmers implored to the earth goddess Lavinia to grant them a good season, during the harvest many venture out into her temple in the mountains with a small offering of the finest crops in the belief that it will bring them good fortunes in the following year. Young girls and future mothers also pray to the fair Era-Gragiya, Ifir’s queen and mother of all the Erai, in the hope that she will grant them a safe and healthy birth and offer future health and well-being to their children. Those who live near the woods pray to the forest god Silyan that he and his Enai may protect them from the wild beasts during hunts and allow them to gather food, herbs and firewood. Some would leave offerings of flowers or berries for his Enai to collect during their travels. Warriors entreat the war god Atar that he may grant them courage and strength for battles to come. Leaving smiths and craftsmen to look towards the volcano and prayed to Fiehri wishing for guidance with their work. They too feared his wrath, for the god of flames was quick to anger and his fury was great, if pushed he could force the lava to flow out from his palace bringing death and destruction to all.

Most of the mighty Erai, remained in their realms with little concern for the lives of mortals, leaving some of their servants, the Enai, to occupy the same lands as the humans and occasionally watch from a distance. The mortals also grew curious having heard many stories of these lesser gods. It was said that they had the power to heal wounds, possibly even to revive the dead and to make themselves invisible. Some mortals would enter the forests in attempt to seek out Lord Silyan’s Enai with their offerings of fruit, berries and flowers. Others ventured deep into the caves with gifts of precious stones for Lavinia and Fiehri’s mountain Enai. Yet these fair, immortal beings were rarely seen for they were wary of mortals and preferred to stay with their own kin serving their Erai Lords.

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