Of the Featherless Tribe

Jul 23, 2013 by

Feather_Study_by_Phoenix_CryVarrok of the Sun Stone, speaker of the Skies was old. He could feel age creep upon him in his hollow bones. Though the sun shone above him and the clouds whispered a sweet day as winds ruffled the long grass of the plains around his gathered people; their moods were sour. Their beaks and eyes dark. He stood upon the stone with the Speaking Staff clutched firmly in his talons. When he raised his foot to tap it to the stone to signify the beginning of his judgement, it was most usually a means to silence the crowd. Today, the sound rolled over the silence of them all and reminded him of the plains thunder before a storm.
“We are one mind, one feather, one flock,” he began, the words so old none could say when they began. They simply where. The crowd solemnly repeated them.
“I have called you today to pass Tarro’kar, judgment upon one of us. One of us has done something that is not Amushor. One of us is no longer part of the flock. He has done unclean things–”
“Father!” A shout from his left and behind him. Wearily he closed his eyes against the image of his son, bright blue feathers with gold trappings stripped being drug by guardtalons. He did not want to see it, but he would.
“Silence when the Speaker sings!’ He cried, hearing his call cut like sharpened stone.
“Father, please! Just listen to me–they’re not evil! Please, father! We love each other! We did nothing wrong–”
“You will be silent or I will have you silenced!” He opened his eyes and swiveled his head around over his back, shouting the words. In threat, he lowered his crest and body to the ground, opening his beak half way to hiss dangerously. His son shut his beak with a soft clack and lowered his head in submission. The guards drug him before the crowd and he shook himself and his feathers back in place as he sent his eyes out over the gathering instead. It hurt less when he did not look at his son.
“For the crime of betraying his flock, his people, for the crime of being with a Featherless One, I reject you.” He intoned. Then, in symbolic rejection, his talons clicked softly on the stone as he turned to present his back to his son. He heard the thousand quiet clicks of his people do the same–turning their back on his son. My son, who should be standing on this stone and not me.
“We do not see you in the skies. We do not hear your song. We do not tap your names in the ringing stones. You are no longer.”
He heard the sound of his son sobbing as they took him away. At first it was loud: as loud as the lack of wind that had suddenly stilled. As loud as the tears of his wife, who buried her head under her wing and tried to muffle it. As loud as his heart, limping away in his chest. Then as he was drug away the sound grew further and further away. He wanted to turn and watch his only hatchling that survived, go. His only child. His only son.
He wanted to take him under wing and preen him. He wanted his wife to no longer weep.
As the sound of his son sobbing faded, so too did his hope for an heir for his people. He cursed his son. He cursed the gods. And he cursed himself.
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Comes a Blue Wolf

Jul 13, 2013 by

winter_scene_stock_by_wyldraven-d49gs6fWinter howled outside her tent. The winds furiously clawed at brightly dyed, thick walls covered in shamek skins and furs to keep the chill at bay. Her namayah–her servants–had lit many of the braziers for warmth and glow. To Jashiu’, it seemed more ominous than comforting. The golden light was pleasant enough, but the thrashing of the wind outside and the way the tent’s walls undulated in it tossed strange, creeping shadows that looked like unsettled horses running from dark creatures. Her namayah whispered midst themselves quietly, trying not to be over heard. But she knew what they were saying.
Ill omens, they said. A storm of ice and freezing winds on her wedding? Another said. Bad luck. Very bad. Her women were old and superstitious she reminded herself. It didn’t help. She had been dreading this day since she was a child.
The ladies removed her mother’s mother’s, great grandmother’s mother’s traditional head piece from great swaddles of thick leathers and furs. Gold beaten into coins for good fortune, handmade into chains to symbolize unity and strength in marriage and woven with ribbons in red for luck glittered along the head piece. To Jashiu’, it seemed to be laughing at her and her distaste for it was immediate. It would be too heavy for her to move her head at all. It would be too heavy with it on to run if she needed to. But it was already too late for running, wasn’t it?
The man her parents had promised her to be with had come riding on his karaouk not three days earlier as was promised. She had held out hope that he would not come then she would be free to choose her own husband. His arrival early shattered those hopes.
She had no idea who this man was. All that she knew was that he was from a little known tribe of the Blue Wolf, once the most powerful of tribes before the Varanthir invasion. Her people did not–or would not speak to her about what might have happened to them to reduce them to what they were today: more legend than reality.
Ten years ago a messenger had ridden into her father’s camp to negotiate for a marriage contract with the Shaman’s daughter. He agreed. She suspected fear of the unknown and superstition had pushed her father’s hand to agree.
The Namayah placed the head piece onto her hair which had been rubbed with mirrav steeped oil and brushed until it became glossy and bright. They pinned and they propped, turned her head and pinched, pulled, used what felt like unending combs to make sure the piece sat properly on her head. When they were finished, they inspected her with glistening eyes filled of their weddings past and the sighs of old women remembering what it was like to be young. One or two adjusted the thick shamek fur robe dyed in black for wedding colors with silk red vest on the outside, another made sure the bed of furs she lay upon was perfect and sprinkled with spices said to invoke feelings of aruaru in men.
“That’s enough,” she finally snapped when one lady would not leave the edge of her robe alone. The woman jerked her head back, winced and then bowed. She knew what she must have looked like to that poor servant… Often her father had said she had the unwelcoming piercing gaze of the legendary karaouk that the Blue Wolf tribe rode along with the soft face of a stone-mountain and it’s temper to boot. She made a small apologetic sound.
“Thank you. You may go,” she offered in a softer tone. They bowed to her and left her to the belly-ache of fear.
Legends often said the Tribe of Blue Wolf were filled with cannibals. Men and women with teeth so sharp and twisted they did not stay in their mouths. Of horrible disfigurement and skin like bumpy toads. Other’s said they were men with rotting diseases and all their women had died of it–so that is why they all but disappeared to a mere shell of what they used to be. More told tales of men who turned into giant beasts and slaughtered innocents.
She did not believe these things were true. But…she had never seen the man her father had promised her to. He had never told her anything. Her mind flickered horrifying visions of ugly men, twisted men, evil and grotesque men.
The longer she waited, the more her neck grew pained with having to to hold her head up and the more horrifying she imagined her new husbands deformities.

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Sweat had trickled down the back of her neck to tickle at her shoulder blades. The wind kept howling in time with her simmering temper. How long had she waited here for him? How long would he make her wait? She thought of ways to escape the marriage if he were too deformed; of scratching his eyes out. Of using one of the many pins in her hair to stick in his neck. Her neck began to quiver under the head piece’s weight and several of the braziers had run out of fuel long since.
Perhaps it was her wish of violence or perhaps it was the winter’s wind that finally called him. At the mouth of the tent, she heard the slither of ties being pulled back. She could not turn her head immediately to stare, but had to do so slowly so as not to topple the chunk of heavy history on her head.
By the time she could fully stare he was already inside and her heart rolled up into her mouth.
He was the largest man she had ever seen in her life. For her entire life she had thought her father was, because inside any tent her father’s head towered over any man of their tribe. But this man that was now inside her tent had to bend his neck and head to avoid brushing the very top of the ceiling or thumping his brow into the great wooden supports that held it up. His skin was the color of frozen lakes…A light blue that was pale as crystal. His hair was white and glimmered as fresh as unbroken snow. He wore a blue robe dyed so dark that it seemed like it was black as night, richly embroidered with designs in gold that seemed to writhe along the fabric of the robe her wore.
But that was not what made her lose all of her angry thoughts or air. It was his eyes and his smile. His eyes were as golden as the wolf, and his canines when they were revealed were as deadly sharp.
He removed his gloves and dropped them onto the furs on the ground, then his cloak. She watched, mouth agape as he folded himself beside her and she felt cold come from him.
He flicked his eyes from her face to her hair and back. “Remove that ridiculous thing,” he said in a rumble so deep as to be ice cracking, thunder, or perhaps rocks under a mountain.
She did as she was bade to, but not because he was her husband. But because she could not stop staring.
“My name is Eylrik,” he boomed quietly. “Let us talk of your people and mine, and how we will go to war against the Varathir,” then reached into his furs to remove a scroll of parchment.
Jaishu’, so mesmerized by what he was and what he said and what he proposed, she did not insult or yell at him once.
There would be time enough for that later.
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The Man Who Ate The Sun

Jun 30, 2013 by

Sun_March_2010_Filtered_by_StormPenguinIn a land far away in a place where gods danced freely across the grass; Mother sun was always at play. High and bright, she was joy. Flowers titter-tilted to follow her golden feet as they danced, the bees made music and honey. She touched man, beast, field alike and made them grow.
She was gracious as well as kind. She would bow her wheat-blond head to grumpy Grandfather rain, letting him mutter, mumble, rumble about to water all the things that grew dry with her touch.
Father Moon watched the sun from far, far away. Placed on the other side of the world to shine down, ever-guiding the oceans, he could not abandon his duty to come down and dance with her. But he could watch.
A man in the village watched them both for some time. He saw how the Moon’s silvery light waned, how the Sun smiled during the day–but how it faded at night when Moon arose. He thought to himself that this was too sad. So one day he told his wife that he wished to help them. For they reminded him of them when they were young; he from one village and she from the other. He told her that he would have to travel very far and she cried. She said, “How can you leave? I have no children. I will be alone.”
He said, “Woman, have faith. I love you and I will bring you the sun and moon. This I promise.” He kissed her brow and packed little, grabbed his walking stick and left.
He traveled far. He saw the Great Turtle in the mountains and asked him for help. The Great Turtle sent him to the Laughing-crow in the dark forest. Laughing-crow said he did not know, that he should ask Uncle Bear instead. He spent many years through dangers untold to track Uncle Bear. One day in a bright forest with trees that stretched as giant walking sticks, he found the Uncle Bear and asked him how he might help Mother Sun and Father Moon.
Uncle Bear told him at length and he did not like it. They argued and spoke for many weeks, attracting all the animals to listen in. But in the end, Uncle Bear’s words did not change. The man finally relented, bowing his head and made his journey back.
When he returned to his village, he was no longer a young man. Not an old man yet, but gray had touched his temples, his shoulders had broadened and he stood proud. His wife for a moment did not recognize him when he stood in their hut. When he spoke however, she wept with joy and welcomed him back. So too did his village, so too did Mother Sun who danced brightly across the earth.
The man put a hand upon his wife’s arm to still her and called to Mother Sun. He said, “I have traveled everywhere man’s feet will go. I have spoken with the Great Turtle, I have spoken with Laughing-crow, I have spoken with Uncle Bear.” His voice caused a great hush. “He told me many things. He told me how Mother Sun and Moon could be together.”
So he told Mother Sun, his wife and his village. When they heard what he said they cried out in anger and fear.
“How could that work?” They shouted.
“Why would you even do it?” They cried.
Mother Sun stilled them with her warmth, laying a hand upon the man’s arm. Though she said nothing, all could see that she had made her choice.
That night, she cut a piece of herself–bright as love, light as joy–and bled yellow onto the man’s floor so that he could eat of her.
The village did not forgive him and cast him and his wife out. For weeks they wandered alone. His wife cried that he should not have done what he did. He said, “Hush, woman, I have made you a promise and I will not break it.” She did not understand what he meant and cried harder.
After many weeks they found a village who had not heard of the man who ate the sun. They settled in a new hut and soon, his wife came to him in surprise.
“I am with child!” She exclaimed, holding her belly. “Oh, husband–I thought I would never be!” She finally stopped crying over her old village and smiled. The man was filled with pride.
When their daughter was born she did not look like the other children. Her eyes were as yellow as gold rings, her hair as bright as campfires, her skin the color of bronze knives. She grew into a woman of warmth, who drew many to her with her love as well as care.
Soon the man and his wife were old and their daughter old enough to be married. Many men from many villages came to try and win her heart. None of them were good enough. The girl’s mother began to worry that there were never be grandchildren.
One day after all the men from all the different villages had left, the man’s daughter stood out on the field and opened her arms, singing.
Her singing brought the village to her as well as her mother and father. They watched with puzzled eyes as nothing they did made her stop.
The girl was singing to call Mother Sun who came quietly and took the girl’s body as her own. Uncle Bear had told the man that the only way Mother Sun and Father Moon could be together is if he had eaten the sun. Uncle Bear did not say how, but the man had faith.
Mother Sun with their daughter’s voice, told the girl’s parents that she was still their daughter and always would be. Then she turned back to the sky and began to sing. This time, it was the Sun who sang and she called down the night and Father Moon.
Moon dipped low to gather her into his embrace. He said, “I will marry the Sun and finally know joy. Thank you, man, for doing this. We will never forget. “
The man’s wife wept, then. She understood.
“See?” Her husband said, a smile creasing his old, lined face. “Did I not promise you the sun and the moon?”
And so it is said, to this day–some women still feel the pull of the moon because of Mother Sun’s blood running warm in their veins. They stand out at night, arms spread, singing quietly for their love to come in the silver light.
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