Categories
fantasy, short, stories mythology

Sammorien – The Moss-Man

From their vast kingdoms of clouds, oceans, mountains and volcanoes, Lady Lavinia and Lord Ifir’s children viewed themselves as higher beings and the benefactors of the world they had created. The immortal Enai clans remained loyal to their masters, grateful for the powers they received and many their many other privileges. The Erai ever regarded the Enai as their servants, created for the sole purpose of doing their bidding, the forest god Lord Silyan however, viewed the woodland Enai as his friends and companions. He knew each member of his clan and was always the first to welcome a new baby born into their community. Likewise, the forest Enai were truly devoted to their Lord, loving him for his wisdom and kindly nature. He too loved them in return. And one particular individual was his favorite, a young golden-haired female called Kora.

Although she was as good an archer as any hunter, Kora was a gentle being with little interest in tracking wild beasts. Instead she spent her days strolling through the woods in search of herbs, sweet berries and mushrooms. At sundown she would rejoin the other Enai in their camps as they prepared for an evening’s rest. There she always gladly took part in the evening music and dance. Lord Silyan would often play his flute where Kora would sing along to every tune, ever accompanied by the other Enai. As the others returned to their makeshift treetop beds, she would often stay by the god’s side throughout the night. Over time the two grew very close, spending more and more time together until the day they became lovers.

As neither had ever denied the rumors nor hid their affections towards each other, the Enai elders began to view Kora with a new found respect, addressing her with the title of ‘Nefiria Alhani’ – meaning Lady of the woods.

Yet the humble maiden was quick to dismiss the title.

“I’m no Nefiria,” she would often say, “I have no desire to become Lord Silyan’s queen. I’m simply an Enai, no different to any of you. As much love as I hold for him, I fear that neither his father, the great Lord Ifir, nor any other Erai would ever allow such a union. Our Lords see us as nothing more than mere servants.”

One sunny day, as the rest of the clan began to gather their things before moving on to their next destination, Kora asked to speak to Silyan in private.

“I have started feeling strange lately,” she whispered as they sat down under a tree. “I think that I may be with child.”

Silyan embraced her lovingly before summoning one of the clan’s medics, and ordering Kora to be examined before they embarked on their journey. The healer quickly confirmed her suspicions and advised that Kora rest as much as possible.

From that day onwards, the women of the clan took great care ensuring that Kora always remained well fed and that she didn’t exert herself overly much. They began to slow their pace, covering shorter distances and taking regular breaks. Initially unhappy with the attention, Kora eventually gave in, as she realized the importance of this child to their community. No such hybrid of the two races had ever before existed.

Lord Silyan, although delighted with the prospect of becoming a father, chose not to inform his family of Kora’s condition, still unsure of quite how they would react to such a revelation. Nevertheless nothing in this world could escape the ever-present gaze of his parents, Era-Gragiya and Ifir, from their golden palace in the clouds.

As the months went by and the time drew near, Silyan and the Enai found an old forest full of large oak trees for their new encampment. One cold winter night, as Kora lay resting in their tent, Silyan saw a sudden flash of bright light through the fabric of their tent and then heard a familiar voice calling his name. He quickly grabbed the heavy skin of a wild beast and wrapped himself up before stepping outside.

“Hello mother,” he stated hesitantly as he spotted the radiant figure of Era-Gragiya standing before him.

“Oh Silyan, my boy… Why would you hide such a secret from me?” she asked as they sat beside the tent.

“I… didn’t think you would approve,” he commented briefly as he glanced back at the sleeping Kora before turning to face his mother again. “My child will be part Enai.”

“What nonsense. How could you even think such a thing of me?” Era-Gragiya replied. “Part Enai or not, it doesn’t matter. That beautiful creature will have your blood, and will thus be as much my grandchild as Ieskr, Fiehri’s boy. I have the right to know and to see the child. Silyan, I wish to be there for the birth.”

Silyan beamed and embraced his mother before responding:

“Forgive me. I’m sorry for misjudging you, mother,” he answered with another shy smile. “You don’t know how pleased I am to hear your words. You are more than welcome to stay with us. We could certainly use your help.”

And so the sky queen stayed with her son and the clan of the forest Enai awaiting the day when she could finally welcome her grandchild into the world.

One night, the time finally came. A tense, emotional Era-Gragiya assisted with the delivery of the first ever Erai-Enai offspring. The child that Kora finally bore was unlike any creature to have existed. He had his father’s dark eyes but none of the woodland Enai features. Most remarkably he was unusually long with arms and legs resembling the thick roots of tree, while his body was made of green moss. Seeing his son’s shining eyes, Silyan decided to name him Sammorien.

“Extrodinary, I have never seen such a child as him before,” the forest god commented, still surprised by the unusual looks of the baby.

“May I hold him?” asked Kora.

“Of course you may. He’s perfect,” said the sky queen as she carefully handed the newborn to Kora.“I’m so glad that I could be here to meet him. Your father will be so proud. Now, it’s time for me to return. Farewell!” she added before vanishing in a flash of bright light.

“Goodbye mother, thank you for your help,” Silyan answered still gazing down at his son.

As Sammorien grew, instead of sucking his mother’s milk like Enai children, he would stretch out his limbs and cling to the nearest tree to absorb nutrients from the soil. It didn’t take long for Kora and the forest god to see that their son was slowly becoming more and more plant-like.

Though capable of walking and fluent in the Enai tongue, Sammorien was exceedingly slow, taking only a handful of small steps at a time, and he frequently struggled to keep pace with his father and the clan.

Her son’s slow pace made Kora begin to worry. So, one day once Sammorien had dozed off next to her, she decided it was time to discuss the situation with Silyan.

“Our precious boy is barely walking. I fear that next time we move on, Sammorien won’t ever be able to keep up with us. What shall we do?” she whispered to her lover while stroking the child’s mossy green hair.

Silyan stared at the sleeping boy before responding:

“Travel is in our blood and we’ve been in this forest far longer than any other land. Sammorien seems to love being here, he’s become very attached to these particular trees. As much as it pains me to admit, I think he would be better off staying in these woods.”

Hearing this Kora burst into tears and immediately begged Silyan to wait at least one full year before their departure. Though growing ever more restless and bored with the same surroundings, the Lord of the woods reluctantly agreed.

And so the couple and the other Enai remained in the oaken woodland until a full year had passed after Sammorien’s birth. The decision to stay proved difficult for the clan, particularly the hunters, many of whom had to trek far from the forest in search of their prey. Although worried about Silyan’s restless nature, Kora was pleased to see him bonding with their son and teaching him the ways of the forest Enai. By the time the first patch of snow had fallen, the boy had grown to the size of a fully mature large oak.

As the clan began to gather supplies for the journey ahead, Silyan and Kora bade a tearful farewell to their son, cuddling him lovingly in their arms. Then they watched as the mossy, dark green-faced Sammorien smiled back at them, before attaching himself to the trunk of a large oak tree.

“Noraiohi lietr… noraiohi ari…” he muttered to them in the Enai tongue with his unhurried, gravelly voice.

Before they set off, Lord Silyan cast a protection spell over the forest to ensure that no mortal being could ever seek its destruction. He and Kora moreover made every single member of the clan take a sacred vow, promising to return to the same spot at least once a year to visit their beloved child. Silyan thankfully knew that his parents would also be watching over Sammorien from their perch in the skies.

And so Silyan and the Enai clan left the oaken forest, leaving Sammorien on his own for the first time. The gentle child spent many of his days simply clinging on to the trunk of the same oak tree and feeding from the nutrients in the soil. Having inherited his father’s love of music, the boy remained in those lands enjoying quietly listening to the birds sing.

One cold windy night, as he was about to fall asleep still attached to his tree, Sammorien was disturbed by the sound of a galloping horse. Suddenly he heard a loud crash and a scream. The animal had tripped over a protruding root, unseating its rider, before it dashed off into the thick woodlands, leaving an injured man writhing on the ground.

Sammorien rose sluggishly and strode towards the human. There he found a young man dressed in a hunter’s garb. Seeing the fracture and listening to wounded cries, he soon realized that the mortal’s leg was broken.

Terrified of the moss creature and thinking it some evil beast, the man reached for his dagger only to find that it had been flung into the distance during the fall. He started screaming and trying to flee, but he was too badly hurt to move.

Sammorien briefly stood over him before whispering, this time in the Gragiyan mortal tongue:

“Please don’t be afraid…I mean you no harm. I am no beast of the forest,” he murmured before uttering a spell that swiftly healed the man’s leg.

Awestruck by what he had seen, the man tentatively got up before responding:

“Thank you, oh gracious creature of the woods. If you’re no wild beast, then pray tell, what are you and what is your name?”

“They call me Sammorien, I am son of the forest Erai, Lord Silyan and a woodland Enai,” replied the moss creature before stepping away from the human and preparing to return to his tree.

Recognizing that here stood a divine being, the man knelt down in front of Sammorien.

“Praised be thy name and that of your father, Lord Silyan,” said the mortal, still on his knees, “How can I ever repay such kindness?” he asked.

Tired and eager to resume his slumber, Sammorien glanced down towards the human from the comfort of his tree before offering a response:

“Dear stranger, I ask nothing in return. I leave you only with a word of advice, next time you step into a forest, be sure to leave an offering of fruit and flowers for my father and his servants so that they protect you from all manner of wild beasts,” he whispered before dozing off to sleep.

And so the man headed home and told everyone he knew of his encounter. Thus sparked the legend of Lord Silyan’s son, the Moss man, the spirit and protector of the woods, the first ever demigod. It was the legend of Sammorien.

Categories
fantasy, short, stories

A Noble Soul

One evening following a grueling day of judging the souls of the dead, Lord Makar slouched down into his dark throne and listened as his wife began to sing. Ordinarily these quiet moments were his favorite but that particular night he felt unusually tired. Mere minutes into the song, the grim judge struggled to keep his eyes open. He soon raised his right fist in front of his face before yawning.

Seeing his sign, Morae held her voice mid song. She stepped away from the throne and approached her husband.

“You must be exhausted, my love,” she whispered as she leaned over him.

“It has indeed been a long day. I should probably sleep a little,” Makar replied after yawning once more.

“How about a hot bath beforehand?” his queen suggested.

“A warming bath, yes, that seems like a fine idea,” he replied.

Thus Makar ordered the Morkrai to make the preparations. The shadow beings quickly gathered water from the well outside the halls and began to heat it under a fire. Meanwhile the couple stepped away from the chamber and made their way towards the kitchens. One Morkrai followed them and there he picked up a bowl of fruit and offered the fresh harvest to his Lord and Lady. Morae helped herself to a bunch of grapes and some cherries.

Eating with the grace of a queen, she proceeded to grab a handful of raspberries before asking:

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“Not particularly,” Makar responded simply.

Morae ate the juicy raspberries before speaking again.

“Are you sure? It’s been a while since you last ate,” she uttered softly while touching at the fruit inside the bowl. “Why not try some pomegranate seeds?” – she asked.

“Very well, I’ll have a few, just to taste,” he replied.

Morae took a pomegranate from the bowl and passed it to the Morkrai. The creature quickly sliced it in half with a thin knife before offering it back to her.

Morae removed a handful of seeds and put them into Makar’s mouth.

“Mmm… delicious,” he murmured after swallowing the bursting seeds.

Morae simply smiled in response.

“I think our bath should be ready by now,” Morae noted as she handed the bleeding pomegranate back to her servant.

They walked towards the bathroom just as the Morkrai had finished pouring the last batch of hot water into the wide tub. Before leaving, the shadow creatures rested two soft towels onto a marble table in the corner of the room.

As soon as the Morkrai left, Morae wrapped her arms around Makar.

“Alone at last!” she declared happily before they kissed.

Morae then made her way towards the cool marble table. There, next to the towels, stood a collection of numerous glass vials filled with essential oils.

“We have some lavender, jasmine, bergamot, mint….Which fragrance would you like? ” she asked.

“The mint,” Makar decided.

“Mint, good choice,” Morae smiled as she took the bottle from the table.

She poured droplets of the thick oil into the tub before putting the bottle back in place. She undressed and edged into the steaming bath. Makar disrobed and soon joined her. The pair rested in the tub for a while, enjoying the pleasant aroma and soaking until the water started to grow chill. Not long after Makar and Morae grabbed their towels and made their way towards the bedroom.

“How long have we?” the goddess wondered once inside.

“We have time enough. The dead can wait a little longer. Our Morkrai will watch over them whilst I spend some time alone with you, my dear queen,” Makar replied as they perched on the bed.

That night they made love before falling asleep in each other’s arms. Hours later they woke up to the sound of a horn. Finally rested, Makar rose quickly and dressed himself, Morae hurriedly followed. She snatched a comb lying next to their bed and moved to brush her hair. She was about to leave when Makar stopped her.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, my dear?” he asked, holding up a spiky black crown decorated with onyxes and crystallized dark roses.

Morae took the crown from him and stared at it for a few quiet seconds.

“My queen deserves her crown,” Makar whispered.

“And you, my dear king…where’s your crown?” asked Morae.

Makar grabbed his hooded cloak and robed himself.

“I would rather keep my hood up,” he replied before pulling the dark hood over his face, “as long as they can hear my voice, the souls will never need to see my ugly face. I would rather they gaze upon my beautiful queen.”

“There’s nothing wrong with your face dearest,” said Morae as she rested the shadowy crown on her head.

Makar smiled at her before they strode towards the throne room. They passed through the kitchens on their way where Makar ordered the Morkrai to bring food over to their thrones. Unquestioned, the Morkrai obeyed their master and quickly began to prepare a meal.

The couple walked silently into the towering chamber and took their seats on the dual thrones. Soon after the Morkrai laid out great platters of food. Makar and Morae were still eating their breakfast when two Morkrai entered the hall, dragging a dead soul behind them.

Still chewing his food, the Lord of the dead gazed down at the spirit stood before them. The ghostly figure was a middle-aged man with thin grey hair and a long beard. His clothes were left dripping wet from sea water.

Finishing his meal in grim silence, Makar passed the empty plate to one of his servants before speaking:

“Captain Larnin, son of Erios of Gragia, I am listening. You may begin,” the grim judge spoke in his cold and emotionless tone.

Makar and his queen listened carefully to Captain Larnin’s tale. There Morae waited until he had finished his story before speaking.

“What a fascinating tale. I have never had the pleasure of visiting Makar’s sister’s kingdom, nor have I ever seen any of Afa’s creations. What more can you tell me of these water Enai? – she asked.

Hearing her words Makar turned to face his wife.

“Morae, my dear, I fail to see how this is in any way relevant to my verdict on the Captain’s fate. Why ask?” he whispered into her ear.

“You’re right, it’s not relevant. I’m just curious,” the Lady of sorrows replied.

Makar smiled and kissed her hand before resting back in his seat.

“Very well. Captain Larnin, for the sake of my wife’s curiosity I would like you to tell us more about my sister’s servants,” uttered Makar, all the while staring down at the ghost.

Captain Larnin turned his head slightly to face the goddess before speaking:

“My Lady,” he began, “Lady Afa’s servants are vicious monsters whose love for violence is equal only to their love for their watery home and all creatures of the sea. Their women are beautiful, with long turquoise hair and blue fishtails. Yet the one that sank my ship was a young, strong male. I will never understand why he chose to attack me and my crew but, judging by the look on his face, he appeared to enjoy watching us suffer. Destroying my ship seemed to be enough to keep him amused, but then his kin joined him and pulled some my crew down into the depths. One of his women even drowned my first mate’s young boy,” he concluded his tale before wiping a tear from his face.

“Thank you Captain Larnin. Your tale proved to be very entertaining but now it has now reached the time for me to declare your fate. I see little virtue nor any noble deeds in your life. Before becoming a sailor you lived the life of a petty thief, spending most of your days robbing people in the streets, occasionally getting into drunken fights. I therefore sentence you to remain here in these halls, forever,” the grim judge declared.

The Morkrai grabbed Captain Larnin and pulled him away into one of the cold halls. Makar took a few sips of water from a cup offered by one of his servants. The horns sounded once again and the Morkrai trudged back inside, dragging more members of Captain Larnin’s crew into the hall. Makar listened to each of their stories while some promptly removed their jewelry and offered it as a gift to Lady Morae in exchange for a further audience with the goddess. Morae listened to each story before stepping away from her throne in order to deliberate with her husband.

“It seems this crew mostly consists of former criminals who, like their captain, decided to do something more useful with their lives,” Makar whispered to his wife.

Morae gazed down thoughtfully at the lost souls below before speaking:

“That is perhaps true for most, but not all of them,” she noted before pointing towards the only female crew member, a short brunette dressed in a grey cloak. “That woman there, she’s different. She is the only one here without a criminal past.”

Makar glanced down at the woman again before turning to face his wife.

“Oh her. Indeed, she spoke little of her life. She said only that before joining Captain Larnin’s crew she worked at a market stall,” Makar recalled.

“Well, that is only the barest truth. Once during her time at the market stall she spotted five street children trying to steal her goods. Instead of punishing them, she took those orphans home and raised them as her own. She was a loving mother to all of them, and she helped them to find work and to settle down,” Morae replied shrewdly.

“And you believe her?” her husband asked.

“Naturally, my powers allow me to sense lies. This woman spoke the truth,” the goddess replied.

Makar smiled at his wife before responding.

“Well done, my dear. This in fact means we have found a noble soul, one worthy of an afterlife in my father’s palace. My mother will be thrilled to learn of this,” Makar whispered before turning to face the crew once more just as Morae returned to her seat.

One by one, he announced the fate of each wretched individual and watched as the Morkrai dragged them away until only the woman remained.

“Please, my Lady stop this! These people were my friends, they did nothing wrong. It was the Enai, that caused us this misery, why are you punishing us?” the woman cried out to the queen.

The couple stood up from their thrones and glided down the steps towards the ghost. The woman shivered in fear as she watched the dark gods silently approach her. Once close enough, the pair stood facing her perfectly still, then at last Lady Morae suddenly started to sing. A few seconds later the woman lay down on the ground, her eyes closed, deep asleep. Makar ordered the Morkrai to fetch a bowl of water while his wife stared at the pale body lying on the ground.

With the items in hand, Morae helped her husband as he began to clean the woman’s face, her hands and her feet before pouring the remnant water over her body. Makar finally placed his right palm on the woman’s forehead before shouting:

“Eviria, daughter of Auria, I hereby grant you pardon and release you from my realm,” Makar proclaimed loudly. There he used his divine power to light the woman’s body up under a pale flame. There was a fleeting brightness in their dark realm before the light soon caused her to disappear.

Only moments later Eviria woke to find herself lying on a blanket of clouds. Confused by her new surroundings, she gazed upwards to see the ceiling of a vast golden palace filled with the brightest lights. Suddenly she noticed a figure walking towards her. It was a beautiful woman dressed in white with long flaxen hair adorned with a golden crown.

“Lady Era-Gragiya!” Eviria shouted and quivered once she realized quite who she was addressing.

The goddess smiled before holding out her hand and helping the woman stand.

“Eviria, daughter of Auria. My son Makar has deemed you a noble soul, and thus granted your release from his kingdom. I am delighted to welcome you into my home,” Era-Gragiya answered warmly as she led the woman into a hall where the other noble souls were each seated.

Unlike the innumerable souls in the grim Halls of Makar, these spirits appeared almost as though they were still alive. Instead of standing, locked in a state of trance-like sleep, these bright beings were happily sitting together and chatting away, as if merrymaking in a warm tavern. One friendly faced woman rose and offered the newcomer a drink of sweet nectar. Eviria immediately took the cup and sat down on a chair with a fresh smile spread over her face.

Categories
fantasy, short, stories

Erenkanti – Lord Silyan’s Message

The dark haired young Enai warrior Oren was the first to notice a young golden eagle tracking them in the clouds. The bird itself was not an unusual sight for Lord Atar and his Enai. They were from the area and as the Enai warriors spent most of their time galloping across the skies, such sights were to be expected. This was different though, unlike most of the birds they regularly encountered on their travels, this particular eagle had been following them for several hours and it showed no signs of giving up the chase. After studying its flight Oren finally told his Lord about the bird.
“My Lord Atar,” he called out.
“Yes, Oren. What is it?” answered the war-god.
“That eagle has been following us for many hours now. Shouldn’t we do something?” – the Enai warrior asked.
“It’s a bird, nothing more. Just leave it,” – Lord Atar responded indifferently.
“Yes, my Lord,” said Oren.

He tried vainly to forget the bird, though suddenly the eagle swooped towards Lord Atar and landed on the god’s shoulder. At first Atar tried to ignore it, but then it quickly began screeching something into his ear. Whatever message it carried, it must have been important enough for Atar to order his Enai to stop and land atop the nearest cliff face.

The war-god waited until all his warriors had landed safely and dismounted from their horses before taking his place on the rock and announcing:
“The eagle brings a message from my brother Silyan. A few years past, one of Silyan’s Enai confessed to reviving a dead mortal and entered the Halls of Makar. My brother has chosen to forgive his servant, however he seeks to ensure that such a forsaken crime will never happen again. It falls to me to remind you that, as the Erai of death, my brother Makar is solely responsible for deciding the fates of mortals. Unlike the woodland Enai, you as my servants have no power to revive the dead. Yet these very laws apply to your clan. As an Erai, it is my responsibility to enter the Halls of Makar to collect souls of brave warriors. If my brother or his queen catch any of you within their realm, the punishment will be severe. Do you each understand?”
“Yes, my Lord!” the Enai warriors shouted in unison.

Having successfully delivered the message, the young eagle flew away.

And a few days later yet another golden eagle made its way towards Lord Fiehri’s volcanic palace. A fire Enai was gathering water from a nearby mountain stream when the bird made a few passes overhead before finding a small opening in the rocky cave below. The Enai tried his best to chase the bird away as soon as possible. Yet the eagle managed to escape and carefully avoided the flames before making its way into his master’s forge.
“My Lord Fiehri!” – shouted the Enai.

The god of flames turned towards his servant before responding:
“Yes, what is it Heri?”
“An eagle has flown into your domain. It followed me as I was fetching water from the stream and it’s managed to sneak in through an opening in the hillside. I tried to be rid of it but it’s too fast and it won’t go,” he explained.
Fiehri carefully rested his newly made axe down on his throne and glared at Heri with bubbling hostility.
“Get it out of here! Right now!” he roared.
“Yes, my Lord!” Heri assented, and once again he tried to drive the bird away. The eagle continued to glide around the forge avoiding the Enai with ease. Despite his best efforts, the fire Enai was unable to force it from the room.
“Heri, I told you to get rid of that bird. Why is it still here?” Fiehri scolded.

The fire god was now furious. He ordered Heri to remove his shirt and the fire Enai did as requested. Fiehri whipped him until his back was raw and covered in lines of blood. Hearing the commotion his son Ieskr appeared and took pity on the poor Enai.
“That’s enough father! Please let Heri go. I’ll deal with the bird,” Ieskr proposed.
Still enraged, Fiehri took a deep breath while looking at his son before his attention again turned to the fire Enai.
“Very well. Heri, you may leave,” he ordered.

Much relieved, the Enai took a bow and rushed from the forge leaving Ieskr alone with his father. Fiehri decided to resume his work while the young Erai observed the bird as it encircled the scorching room.
“This is intriguing. I’ve never seen an eagle like this before. I wonder what it’s doing here…” Ieskr commented.
“I don’t know and I don’t particularly care either. I just want it to leave my palace,” Fiehri responded while continuing to craft his weapons.

Ieskr decided to try and lure the bird out. He left the forge and headed to the kitchen where he asked the cook for some raw meat. He swiftly took a full plate back to his father’s workshop. Ieskr carefully placed the dish on the ground, stood back and waited. The eagle flew in and took the bait. Having quickly devoured all the meat, the bird hopped on to Ieskr’s arm.

Instead of going outside, the young Erai decided to take the bird to his room in the tallest tower of the palace. Once inside, he left the bird with a bowl of cool water before rushing back towards the forge. There he carefully crafted a steel cage from some scrap metal lying around and hurried back to the room. He placed the water bowl inside and waited for the eagle to climb in. Ieskr quickly gathered a handful of small obsidian stones and placed them around the cage. He then put his hand onto the cage and whispered a spell causing a yellow coating to form around it.
“Sorry my little friend. I don’t mean to imprison you but this is the only way I can protect you from the heat. As long as you stay inside the cage you won’t overheat or struggle to breathe,” he told the bird before he took to bed.

The next day he opened the cage and the eagle followed him to the dining room where he and his parents had breakfast.
“It seems that our son has a new pet,” Fiehri commented to Lavinia during their meal.
“I’ve never seen an eagle behave like this before. Why is it following us?” Ieskr asked.
Lavinia took a look at the bird as it flew towards her.
“This is no ordinary eagle, Little Spark,” she said knowingly just as the bird landed on her shoulder. “It’s an erenkanti.”
“A what?” asked Fiehri.
“Erenkanti, is a term used by the forest Enai for messenger birds. I’ve seen these before during my time in the woods. Silyan has it placed under a spell that will mimic our speech, repeating whatever he or his Enai have spoken. It will not leave until it has delivered its missive. Any bird can become an erenkanti. Silyan often uses owls at night, though this is the first erenkanti eagle I’ve come across. Based on the way it’s behaving, I assume the message is intended for us,” Lavinia explained.
“So what message does it carry?” Ieskr questioned.

The eagle screeched something to Lavinia’s ear. Having finally fulfilled its mission, the spell immediately broke and the eagle flew out from the palace.
“So…what did it say? Ieskr asked.
“It’s a warning for the Enai. We need to gather the clans of the mountain and fire Enai and make an announcement.” she stated.
“Heri, come here!”Fiehri bellowed.
The fire Enai hastily entered the dining room.
“Yes, my Lord,” the servant replied.
Lavinia was about to speak when she noticed the dried blood on the fire Enai’s back.
“Fiehri, what have you done this time?” she asked her husband, her voice calm but stern.
“I may have over-reacted slightly,” the fire god admitted.
Lavinia sighed before approaching the Enai.
“My apologies Heri, my husband should never have treated you like that,” she said as she touched his back softly before uttering a spell that caused the wounds to disappear.
“Thank you, my Lady,” the fire Enai answered reverently.
“Heri, listen carefully. I need you to send message to my servants, the mountain Enai. They are all to come here to the palace in a few days,” she instructed.
“Yes, my Lady,” Heri acknowledged the request with a nod.

Heri soon hurried off to the mountains while the rest of the fire Enai began to make preparations for a feast and to arrange rooms in the nearby caves for the mountain Enai. A party of this magnitude had not been seen inside the palace since Fiehri and Lavinia’s wedding. It took several days to ready everything for the gathering. The chefs prepared dozens of dishes for the occasion and they took out several barrels of mead from the cellar. Dragging vast stone tables and chairs outside, the Enai converted the open courtyard into a large dining space to accommodate the mountain Enai who were unaccustomed to the palace’s scorching heat.

Finally the day came and the whole mountain Enai clan entered the palace courtyard. The fire Enai showed them around and escorted each family to their rooms. Once the festivities had begun and everyone sat down for their meal, the hosts decided the time had come for the announcement.

“How do you think we should proceed Fiehri? Should I speak first or do you wish to start?” Lavinia asked her husband.
“You may start and offer your greetings to everyone,” Fiehri said.
Lavinia stood to face the crowd and raised her glass before speaking:
“Thank you for coming. I would like to welcome you all to our palace. I want tonight to be a celebration of peace and friendship between the Enai clans. To the mountain Enai, I want you to know that you are always welcome here and should any of my servants ever wish to see me outside of the autumn Elori season, you will be well received in this realm.”

The crowd reacted with applause, Lavinia took a sip of her drink before sitting down. Fiehri then stood, towering over the table.
“There is another reason we have organized this event. We recently took a message from my brother Silyan. As some of you may know, not long past, one of his servants abused his healing powers to revive a dead mortal and later entered the Halls of Makar in another attempt to bring her back. In doing so he violated our very laws. My brother Makar is responsible for deciding human fate. The Enai are absolutely forbidden from interfering with his work.” The god solemnly looked over the crowd as he spoke. “That forest Enai had no right to act as he did. We must make sure that no Enai will ever commit such a crime again. To the mountain Enai, as my wife’s servants you also have healing powers and, just like the forest Enai, you too are forbidden from reincarnating the dead. To my servants, though you have no such ability the laws of each domain apply to you. If I discover that a member of either clan has entered the Halls of Makar, or broken our creed, there will be severe punishments,” Fiehri declared forcefully before sitting down.

This time there was a cold silence. Shocked by the last statement the Enai stopped eating and stared at each other. Sensing the tense atmosphere, Ieskr rose.
“Please everyone, calm yourselves. We are not trying to frighten you. This was meant as a warning, one that I hope you will all heed. If you continue to follow our laws, as you always have done you have nothing to fear. As my mother mentioned, tonight is a celebration of peace and friendship between the Enai clans. Therefore I propose a toast to friendship and to the Enai!” he announced and raised his glass. His parents immediately stood and did the same.

This time there was much clapping and cheers, with many shouts proclaiming “To friendship and the Enai!”
With the declaration over, the feast continued throughout the night. The guests slept in their rooms for most of the morning. Later, once roused they ate before making their way back to the mountains.

The event left an impression on both clans. The friendship between the mountain and the fire Enai persisted. They often mingled and traveled between the realms and there was plenty of trading. While the fire Enai taught some metalwork to the mountain Enai. There were even some inter clan marriages. Yet the point they each remembered was Fiehri’s warning.

The mountain Enai kept their distance from mortals and were at pains not to interfere with their lives. Relations between the two races even took a violent turn when humans became curious of the mountain folk. Those unlucky people who wandered into the Enai caves were only to be chased away by the elves and their freshly crafted weapons.

Categories
fantasy, short, stories mythology

Ieskr And The Orealisi Oasis

One late summer night, the earth goddess Lavinia woke her husband Fiehri and felt compelled to speak out:

“I can feel a change in the air. The winds are growing colder and the leaves will start to fall. I believe autumn will soon be upon us. Time has come for me to return to my fields.”

To this the fire god responded:

“It is summer still. You have been restless of late and I worry about your health. Maybe you should remain here with me this season? Surely your Enai can perform the Elori ritual alone.”

“It is true my Enai could complete the Elori ritual without me, but I would prefer to be there. I long to see my fields again,” Lavinia reassured him, “I feel fine, there is no need to worry. ”

A few days later Lavinia left the volcanic palace to dance with her Enai and to bless her fields again. And the Elori ritual went ahead as planned with the goddess leading the celebrations. While Fiehri busied himself in his forge awaiting his wife’s return. Months later, as a fresh winter arrived Lavinia came home. Yet she was exhausted and spent much of her time sleeping. This new lethargy made Fiehri worry still.

“My dear, what is the matter, are you sick?” he asked.

To this the earth goddess responded:

“It is not a sickness my love, I am with child.”

Many months later Fiehri asked his mother Era-Gragiya to assist Lavinia with the birth. The queen of the skies happily obliged, and soon after Lavinia bore a son. The boy was named Ieskr, who she nicknamed “Little Spark”. The young Erai was much like his father in appearance, with tanned skin and flaming hair. They also shared many of the same powers. Unlike the hot-tempered Fiehri however, Ieskr was much more like his mother in character. He was patient, easygoing and mild-tempered. Much to his disappointment this was all that he inherited from his mother, as it soon became clear he had none of her powers.

As the boy grew older, Fiehri began to teach him metal work and other crafts. Ieskr proved to be a quick learner and he truly enjoyed making things. But as time passed Ieskr grew bored of his life inside the volcanic palace. He had heard many stories about the different lands and he now longed for adventure. Once he turned sixteen he asked if he could accompany his mother into the fields for the autumn Elori ritual, and to his delight Fiehri agreed.

That autumn Lavinia took her son into the mountains to meet with her Enai. Ieskr immediately loved the mountains and the fields. He watched the Elori harvest ritual for a few days. His mother would dance with her Enai and they cast their spells on the fields. As the celebrations faded, Lavinia began to take him for long walks through the mountainside. During one of these walks Ieskr wanted to find out more about the other lands.

“What is the name of the land beyond the mountains?” he asked his mother.

“That land is a hot and sandy place with almost no water, a desert region. The mortals call it Niralis, after your uncle, the sun Erai Nir,” Lavinia responded.

“That sounds like somewhere I’d like to see. I wonder if anyone can live in a place without water. Those poor mortals…I wish I could help them somehow,” Ieskr thought to himself.

“I would very much like to see this desert land. Can we go there?” he finally asked his mother.

“There is little to see and nothing in that arid land. Humans cannot live there due to the absence of water. It is not a place I wish to visit. But since you have asked, I can show you,” Lavinia uttered softly.

And so together they wandered through the mountain passages into the sandy dunes of Niralis. As a god of fire, the scorching heat did not affect Ieskr however it took his eyes some time to get used to the bright light of the sun.

For a while mother and son walked with ease over dunes of sand until Ieskr spotted a rocky crater towards the middle of the valley. Moving through the windswept sands, the ground was different here, the crater itself was white and the soil soft. Lavinia touched the earth with her hands. Intrigued by this new discovery, she began to dig. Watching his mother with interest, Ieskr also quickly decided to join the digging. Soon they realized that the soil was moist and the crater itself began to fill with water.

“We did it mother! Now the mortals will have water in the desert,” Ieskr announced happily.

After the digging was complete, Lavinia and Ieskr left behind the water hole and headed back towards the mountains.

“There’s no telling how long the water will last. Nir’s light burns so strong in the desert, without a water Enai to maintain and nurture it, it will dry out again,” Lavinia explained as they traveled.

“Where might I find these water Enai?”- asked Ieskr in response.

“They are the servants of your aunt, the sea goddess Afa. It is her whom you will need to ask. You can usually find her by the shores of her great sea.” said Lavinia.

“Then that is where I shall go next. Tell father I will be back before the winter,” Ieskr replied merrily.

And so he left his mother with her Enai in the mountains and he traveled northwards towards the sea shore. A few days later he came to the beach where soon after he spotted a male water Enai swimming in the shallows.

“I wish to speak your queen, the Lady Afa,” he said on approaching the waters.

The Enai stared at him for a while before responding. “And who might you be to speak with our Lady?” he asked.

“I am an Erai and I am her nephew, son of her brother Fiehri and the earth goddess Lavinia. I am called Ieskr,” he introduced himself.

“In that case Lord Ieskr, I will inform my Lady that you are here,” – the Enai answered before disappearing into the depths.

A few moments later the wave-haired Lady Afa emerged from the depths and she gazed upon Ieskr for a while.

“One of my Enai tells me that my nephew has come to see me. How do I know you are whom you say you are? You could be any fire Enai. If you are indeed an Erai and Fiehri’s son, prove it to me,” she stated before handing him a wreath of seaweed and coral. “This is too wet and tough for a mere fire Enai to set alight. If you can set it afire then I will believe you,” – she added.

Ieskr used his power to instantly set the wreath ablaze. Suddenly Afa smiled at him before extinguishing the fire.

“You are indeed Fiehri’s son. I see it now, you look just like him too. It is nice to meet you dearest nephew. What brings you to my kingdom?”

To this Ieskr replied:

“My mother and I have created an oasis in the Niralis desert. But we fear the water will dry out without a water Enai to look after it. I would be grateful if one of your servants could move there and care for the oasis. I will gladly take them there.”

“The river Enai may be up for such a task. Give me a few days. I shall ask if any would like to volunteer. Though the journey to the oasis is the biggest concern, my servants grow sick when they are out of the water for a long time,” Afa explained.

Ieskr thanked her and he journeyed back to the mountains. Days later he returned to the beach and once again asked to speak to his aunt. The sea goddess emerged from the depths with a great wave and greeted him.

“It is good to see you again little Ieskr. I asked my river Enai and one girl has volunteered to travel with you to Niralis. Her name is Oreli, she lives in the Karelim river near the Lavinium mountains,” Lady Afa revealed.

“Thank you for your help dear aunt,” Ieskr replied happily.

“Send my regards to your father and mother. It’s been so long since I last saw Lavinia. Tell her she is welcome to visit my kingdom whenever she pleases,” Lady Afa concluded with a bright smile.

Ieskr bid her farewell before turning from the seas and headed back towards the mountains.

As he wandered, he realized that he had no idea where to find the Karelim river. And so on his way to the caves he stopped in a nearby forest. There he was greeted by the sound of barking dogs and flute music filling the air. He soon spotted a group of forest Enai hunters and the forest god, Lord Silyan.

“Uncle Silyan!” he called out.

The Lord of the forest turned to face him and smiled before responding:

“You must be little Ieskr. It is good to finally meet you. You really are the spitting image of your father. How is he doing these days?”

“He is very well, thank you. He’s told me a lot about you,” Ieskr replied.

“And how is your mother?” asked Silyan.

“She is well. She’s now in the fields with her Enai,” Ieskr answered.

“Ah yes, the Elori harvest ritual. I must see it for myself someday… So what brings you here to my woods?” Silyan questioned kindly.

“I am trying to find the Karelim river, do you have any idea where I might look?”

“Indeed, it’s not far from here. In fact we are heading that way tomorrow. I can show you how to get there,” the god replied.

Ieskr thanked him and then Silyan introduced his nephew to his servants, who soon started making preparations for their meal. Ieskr helped by creating a fire to cook the food. The woodland Enai each gazed in awe as he lit a pile of wood with just one touch from his finger. Later, after a hearty feast, one of the Enai lent Ieskr his tent for the night.

The following morning they traveled westwards. And once they made their way to the flowing rivulet, Silyan showed the young god where to find the riverbank and they parted ways.

Ieskr was soon gazing at the river where he instantly spotted two young river Enai. Both girls had turquoise hair, blue fish tails and were dressed in green clothes made solely of algae.

“Which one of you is Oreli?” he promptly asked.

“I’m Oreli,” said the older of the pair, “and who might you be?” she asked in reply.

“I am called Ieskr, I am an Erai. The son of Lord Fiehri and Lady Lavinia. Your Lady is my aunt,” Ieskr introduced himself formally.

“It is my pleasure to meet you Lord Ieskr,” said Oreli. “My Lady has warned me of your coming and of our great adventure.”

“We will need to gather some supplies from the mountains before we depart, are you ready for the journey? ” he wondered.

“As ready as I can be. I can follow the mountain streams leading up to the desert,” Oreli said carefully.

“What about when we reach the sands? There will be no water there until we reach the oasis. Can you walk?” Ieskr asked.

Oreli nodded. “I know a spell that can briefly transform my tail into legs. It only lasts a short while so hopefully we can get there in time otherwise you may have to carry me,” she explained.

“Let’s hope that I won’t need to.” Ieskr uttered sincerely. Thus they agreed to meet in Niralis.

Oreli followed the water courses while Ieskr chose to visit some of his mother’s Enai in search of supplies for the journey. He tried to gather as much bottled water as he could carry. Once he had packed everything, he began to make his through the mountain passage.

Not long after, he came to a stop before the path leading into the desert. There he noticed Oreli. Seeing her appearance, he deduced that she had successfully carried out her spell. Oreli now looked almost human apart from the turquoise hair. Her fishtail had now been transformed into a shimmering blue dress and she stood on two legs barefooted.

“Hello again,” he said warmly, “Do you know how long that spell will last?”

“Until sunset, provided that the sun heat doesn’t weaken me too much,” Oreli replied.

And so off they went into the sand dunes of Niralis. It wasn’t long until Ieskr noticed the first signs of change to Oreli’s skin and her hair. After only minutes under the scorching sun, her skin burned with marks, and her turquoise hair had become brittle.

“If only I had my mother’s healing powers…” he lamented aloud.

“Healing powers would not help. Only water can restore me,” she answered, her voice already weakening.

So Ieskr reached into his supply bag and took out of one the bottles. He offered it to her before having a drink from another. Instead of drinking, Oreli simply poured the contents over herself. The fresh water quickly healed her burns. Now sated they continued their journey towards the oasis.

They repeated same process with their water bottles at regular intervals as they moved through the sands. Ieskr could only hope that they’d have enough water for the remainder of the journey. To make matters worse, Oreli was unaccustomed to walking. She moved very slowly and often struggled to keep up with the god.

“Does the heat not bother you?” she asked at one point.

“Not at all. I’m an Erai of fire. I was born inside a volcano. Fire and flame are in my nature. As it is with my father and his servants,” Ieskr explained.

Not straining to speak further, they pressed on towards the oasis. As the day drew to a close they had almost used up their water reserve. All the while, Oreli was truly struggling to keep the pace and it was only a matter of time until her spell wore off. After another hour of slow paced walking, Ieskr, saw Oreli struggling and decided to help her by carried her the rest of the way to the oasis.

They finally reached the spot just as the sun was set ting and Oreli’s spell began to wear off. Ieskr gently helped lower her into the pool. Much relieved, Oreli dived straight in and she soon regained her healthy appearance. Though as she soaked in the waters, Ieskr realized that the water levels had dropped since he had been with his mother. This worried him a little, so he poured the rest of the bottled water into the pool but it did little to help.

Then an idea came to him. He looked towards the sky and cried out to his grandfather Lord Ifir.

The Lord of the skies gazed down from his palace in the skies and called out:

“My little Ieskr.”

Ieskr soon felt a gentle breeze lifting him up into the sky where he landed on a blanket of clouds next to Lord Ifir.

The two embraced and then Ieskr spoke out:

“Grandfather I have a small favor to ask. Could you please make some rain?”

“Rain in the desert?” asked Ifir, somewhat surprised.

“Just in one spot, on that pool over there. My Enai friend Oreli is there. She needs my help,” Ieskr explained pointing towards the oasis.

Unquestioningly Ifir granted him the request.

“I should get back to my mother,” Ieskr finally said as he watched the downpour. They bid each other farewell and then Ifir tenderly cast him back down towards the earth.

After the rain had ceased, the pool was again filled and Oreli was happily splashing around.

“It’s beautiful here. I have never seen such clear water. It tastes completely different to the rivers I grew up in,” she declared cheerfully.

“I’m glad that you like your new home. It was lovely to meet you. I should return home. My mother is still in the mountains, and we promised father that we would return before winter,” he announced.

They fondly parted ways and Ieskr made his way towards the mountains. There he was reunited with his mother and he was keen to tell her about everything that had taken place throughout his journey.

Lavinia patiently listened to his story before responding:

“Oh my Little Spark…I’m so glad I brought you with me. You finally got to meet some of your family. Now we must head back. Winter will be upon us soon.”

And so together they headed back to Fiehri’s volcanic palace.

Thereafter the desert region and the oasis at its center became a human settlement within the province of Niralis. Oreli fulfilled her duty in nurturing the waters, while hiding herself in the depths of the pool for fear that the mortals might catch sight of her. Under her care, the water became renowned for its minerals and its healing properties and people from other provinces would come to seek its restorative powers.

Occasionally the water Enai would come up to the surface at night to admire the stars. One chill night there was a full moon and Oreli heard the howling of a wolf. Intrigued by the sound she rose to the surface and swam around for a better view. Suddenly she was spotted by a trader gathering water. She dove back into the depths frightened. Much to her shock, she soon realized that man who noticed her was now trying to pursue her under water. As she dived towards the bottom of the oasis, she gazed back to see that the trader was now struggling to breathe in such deep water. The Enai spun around and hurriedly dragged him back towards the shore.

She watched as he coughed up some water before yelling:

“Fool! Do you have a death wish? Come after me again and I will let the Morkrai take you away!”

To this the stranger responded:

“Forgive me…I am sorry. I’ve never before seen a water Enai. Please at least tell me your name.”

“I’m Oreli,”- she responded before quickly diving back into the depths of the oasis.

After that encounter, she became reluctant to go to the surface any longer and remained hidden in the depths. Once the trader returned to his home province of Gragiya, he often mentioned his encounter with a water Enai at his local tavern and this sparked the start of a legend. Some claim that if you gaze at the oasis during a full moon, you might catch a glimpse of Oreli, the water Enai And thus it became known as Orealisi Oasis, named after the girl who lived within.

Categories
fantasy, short, stories mythology

Lord Makar and Lady Morae

All was quiet in the dark halls when suddenly Lord Makar heard a raspy voice calling out his name. He stepped away from his throne and glided towards the iron gates. No horn blew as the Morkrai guards stood in position leaving little cause for alarm. He gazed towards the entrance where he noticed a dark hooded figure standing by the gates. “Makar, my Lord, please let me in!” shouted the cloaked woman as she turned towards him from behind the gates. He watched as the figure removed her hood, revealing a slender face of ivory skin, pale blue eyes and raven black hair. She looked too perfect to be mortal, though from her appearance he could tell she was no Enai. Intrigued by her presence, Makar opened the gates.

“Well aren’t you a sight for my sore eyes?” he whispered softly as she approached. “I am not used to visitors here in my realm. Where have you come from?” he asked keenly.

The Lady responded: “Your father, Lord Ifir sent me. I wish to keep you company for a while if you would let me in.”

Lord Makar smiled at her before responding: “Indeed yes, welcome fair Lady to my humble home. I have little to offer except for my company, but I would be eternally grateful if you choose to stay.”

“Yes I would like that. Thank you.” she replied.

“What may I call you?” he asked.

“I am darkness, I am a shadow, I am made of a thousand tears. But you may call me Morae,” she whispered and held out her hand towards his.

“My dear Morae, so kind of you to join me. It will be my pleasure to be your host.” he whispered.

Lord Makar swiftly took her hand and escorted her towards the halls. Each one was vast and cavernous with bleak, jet black stone walls and stalagmites. The lack of light did not seem to bother her, as they silently made their way through each room, over the sea of pale faced spirits and Morkrai guards. He led her towards the throne room and ordered his Morkrai to bring her a seat.

“Would you sit with me for a while?” he asked.

Morae nodded and sat on the throne placed beside Makar’s own. And there she remained watching. Days went by as Lord Makar returned to his usual routine. The Morkrai would escort dead souls into the halls to await judgment. The Lord would listen and decide each individual’s fate in turn. Most were condemned to remain within his halls, though occasionally his brother Atar would venture out and assemble a few dead warriors to ride with his Enai.

At times, when it was quiet, Morae would sing to Makar. Her voice was low and soothing, so somber that it lulled condemned souls into a trance-like sleep. Yet to the Lord there was no sweeter music than the lure of her song.

As the two became familiar, she asked him to remove his hood so she could see his face. Makar was reluctant to do this and explained: “My face is not a pretty sight, my Lady. I do not wish to frighten you.”

“I am not afraid. There is nothing about your appearance that can scare me,” Morae replied instantly.

Thus, she ordered the Morkrai to fetch her a blazing torch. Flame in hand, Morae rested her palms inside the fire and cast a spell to extinguish it. She then spread her arms causing the smoke to disperse in a circle around them. Sparkles of pallid light swirled, illuminating the ground below.

As the light settled Makar removed his hood revealing his scarred face and damaged nose. Much to his surprise Lady Morae was neither frightened nor disgusted by his appearance. She simply smiled at him and touched his face while stroking his dark hair. “My pale enchantress…” Makar whispered and smiled at her before they shared a kiss. He wrapped his arms around her. There they stood, listening to each other breathe. Oh how he wanted that moment to last. Yet soon the horns sounded again, the smoke vanished and they returned to their seats.

A few days later, he asked her if she wished to stay.

“I want nothing more than to have you by my side. Will you marry me?” he whispered, holding his hand out towards her.

“Yes. I will,” she replied smiling. In all haste Lord Makar asked his mother, the Lady of the skies, to carry out the ceremony.

The following day, a bright glow filled the halls. In answer, Lord Makar pulled a hood over his face and held his eyes shut. The light still stung his soft face and he shrieked in pain. Yet Morae positioned herself before him to help shield from its glare.

As the golden-haired Era-Gragiya entered the hall, unaccustomed to this much light, the Morkrai crawled towards the dark corners of the room, while the souls of the dead turned to face her.

“Please stop this mother! The lights are too much, I cannot see!” Makar cried out.

“Oh my poor boy. Forgive me. It has been so long since last I saw you.” Era-Gragiya uttered gently. She whispered a spell causing the brightness to fade from the room.

“It is gone now, my love. You may open your eyes, ” Morae said softly as she touched his face.

Slowly Makar opened his eyes and took in the darkness. His mother finally approached him and they embraced.

“May I introduce my beloved Lady Morae,” he announced.

“I am pleased to meet you my dear. Any woman able to bring a smile to my son’s face is a blessing.” Era-Gragiya professed. Eagerly she held out her arms and the two goddesses embraced.

“I have brought a gift from your father,” she continued and held up a pale-flamed blue lamp. “It is the faintest light we could find anywhere in the skies. Such a small flame will never hurt your eyes”.

Makar gladly took the lamp and ordered the Morkrai to place it behind the twin thrones. Quickly doing his bidding, they moved the light into place. Then his mother held out her hand revealing two golden rings inlaid with black onyx stones.

“Here are the rings that you requested. Your brother Fiehri sends his regards and wishes you well,” she declared as she offered him the shining rings.

Makar examined them for a time before responding:

“They are perfect. Tell Fiehri of my gratitude. I am forever in his debt.”

“You should tell him yourself someday. Many times he has offered you welcome and suggested you visit him if you wish,” answered his mother.

“You know very well why I am unable to leave my realm,” Makar explained.

Era-Gragiya was left to sigh in response and when Makar offered her a seat, she refused. Instead she had a look around the bleak halls for a while.

“I will not stay long,” she stated. “I know how busy you are. I will never understand how you can live in such a wretched place. Let us proceed.”

Makar and Morae returned to their thrones and Era-Gragiya turned to face them.

“My dearly beloved. I have come here today to join these two immortal souls in holy matrimony. Will you Makar take Lady Morae to be your lawfully wedded wife?” she asked.

“I do, from this day I shall be yours for all eternity,” whispered Makar smiling at his bride.

Era-Gragiya now turned to face Morae. “And will you Lady Morae take Makar to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

“I will,” she responded and turned to face Makar. “From this day I shall be yours for all eternity.”
Instinctively, they exchanged rings.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride,” the goddess declared.

Era-Gragiya smiled as her son kissed and embraced his new wife.

“Thank you mother. Is there any way that I may repay you for this kindness?” Makar questioned, a smile still etched on his face.

“It was pleasure, my dear, always,” Era-Gragiya responded. “All I ask is that you grant me one noble soul to release from your halls.”

“One soul you may take but no more,” he decreed.

So the sky queen walked through each hall appraising a sea of pale faces when finally she stopped in front of a young mother clutching wordlessly to a newborn baby. “These two here. What was their story?” she asked.

The Lady of sorrows eyed the lost souls before responding: “She was a beggar who died giving birth to a stillborn son.”

“Such suffering is too much for any woman to bear. May I have them?” Era-Gragiya asked.

Makar shook his head in answer. “I promised you one soul, not two. You may take the child or the mother but not both.”

Era-Gragiya sighed before responding: “If that is your will, I shall take the infant.”

“As you wish. First he must be cleased.” Makar snatched the infant from the mother’s arms. Then he instructed his Morkrai to fetch some water and a bowl.

“Do you wish to assist me my dear?” Makar asked his wife. Morae nodded in response. Makar handed her the infant soul and Morae proceeded to wash him in the water before entrusting him back to her husband.

Makar placed a hand on the infant’s head and shouted:

“Aesos, son of Eila, I hereby grant you pardon and I release you from my realm.”

The child’s body suddenly lit up in a pale flame. The ritual complete, Makar handed the baby to his mother. There Era-Gragiya held the child in her arms, rocking it gently. The couple watched in awe as it took a breath and began to cry.

“My sweet little one. You are safe now. Never again shall you feel hunger or cold. Sleep now,” Era-Gragiya whispered, swaying the boy in her arms.

“Goodbye my son. I came this day for a special occasion, though I cannot return to this pitiful realm. If you come across any more noble souls, please deliver them to me,” Era-Gragiya uttered her final words before vanishing in a bolt of bright light.

“Goodbye mother.” Makar replied once the light had fled from the room.

He then joined Morae and together they returned to their thrones to await the next soul to enter their kingdom.


Lord Makar art by Megan Johnson https://www.instagram.com/springenfolk/

https://ko-fi.com/hoozasaurus
https://twitter.com/TheEliRiots

Categories
fantasy, short, stories mythology

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 to 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 a 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 refused to move and hid himself under a fresh tree, standing forever 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 ever-growing 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 brought 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 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 to 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 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 forest she 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 for her 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 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.

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. 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 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.