Carving Myths And Gospels In The Surface Of Blackbloom

As you know, the Gods of Blackbloom have been chosen.

And we know a great many other awesome things about Blackbloom, too.

Best of all, a Wiki is slowly forming (but will need your help to get it there): blackbloom.wikia.com.

And now, we come to what I think may be my favorite worldbuilding exercise.

I want to hear some myths and legends and gospels of the aforementioned gods of Blackbloom.

You’re going to write them.

You have free rein as to how you write them. As flash fiction? As an epic poem? As a professor giving a lecture, as a man telling the myth to his children around a fire?

You have no more than 1000 words.

I’d recommend focusing on one or two gods in a myth — myths that claim many gods will be harder to reconcile with the other myths written in this exercise. Plus, that lets you strike more succinctly.

Further, don’t forget that myths cover a broad spectrum — creation myths, apocalyptic myths, myths of love, myths of trickery, journeys into the underworld, heroic tales, morality lessons, and so forth.

You have two weeks.

Return to us on the Eve of Christmas Eve — December 23rd, by noon, Friday.

I will choose my favorites –

Er, though perhaps not that day given that, well, that’s a holiday weekend. And I’ll be drunk on egg nog, draped in one of your Christmas trees, wearing only your stockings to cover my shame.

You’ve got lots of room to play here.

So: go play.

22 comments

  • Tatamiri, the Book-Keeper, is not the most handsome goddess, nor is she the most intelligent, but she is clever and diligent. She alone possesses the illusion or glamour of appearing in many places at the same time.

    As she sits on all doorsteps every evening with her records, crunching numbers and murmuring to herself, the sentient cities listen. She is the hub to their spokes; all urban conversations channel through Tatamiri.

    From the data of the cities, both obtained as a beggar and also what she overhears, she not only keeps track of the Bloomed souls, she keeps track of the Unbloomed and even the gods.

    Since she is the only Book-Keeper, she can cook those books, and likely does. Her figures may well tally over nine billion before she admits that number or they could be much less; she controls the withering of the Bloomed and they live in fear of her unpredictability.

    Bloomed parents frighten their children into good behavior with tales of Tatamiri withering them and the children then starving.

    The Unbloomed quietly like her, giving her secret smiles and encouragement, they want the arrogant Bloomed gone.

    The other gods hope she will announce nine billion soon, and they can have a period of restoration; they won’t make the same mistakes again.

  • I swear I will write a myth later today but first I have to simply state WOOT! the wiki I started is small but it is growing. Onward to more writing I go!

  • And so it came to pass that the Gods met at the Sinkhole of Creation, to behold the whirling sands and debate what was to come unto the face of the world.
    Tatamyrith looked at Sudyaswallarat, and to him she said, “Brother, what doth thou foresee?” And he said, “Nothing, for there is nothing yet upon this world that one could know beforehand.”
    And he said to his siblings: “Hark! The sand speaks.”
    They listened carefully, but none of them could hear it, so Sudyaswallarat spake:
    “There shall come a day when Death our Father will be no more, and stagnancy will be the heirloom of the world, for Life our Mother feeds on Death, and Life cannot grow without sustenance. And upon that day and from then on, through eons uncounted, Undeath shall rule the powers that be.”
    And Yasri the Dancer asked Sudyaswallarat, “What is this, Brother, if not the prescience of the Mad?” And he said, “No need to deride me, Sister. Madness is thy rule, not mine. I but only listen to the screams and moans of Creation as it is swallowed by the sinkhole. I see the patterns it leaves on the sand.”
    Tatamyrith spake, “It is computation.” And Sudyaswallarat nodded, saying, “Indeed it is.”
    And all the Gods but one cried out then, “We will not let it happen!”. But Sudyaswallarat spake, “It is already in motion; I see only footprints left behind by a murderer.”
    And all the Gods but one asked him, “Then what should we do?”
    Sudyaswallarat sighed, and said, “We shall try and defeat Undeath, bring change to the world, stave off stagnancy.”
    And Tatamyrith found in herself to say, “We shall seek a surrogate of Death.”
    “Yes,” agreed Sudyaswallarat. “And so we shall demean ourselves, for to be powerful is to be idle, to be great is to be blind to the minutiae of Creation. Power will be in the thrall of Undeath. We need to be free, we need the ingenuity of the baseborn and the keen sight of the small.”
    Many Gods laughed, and many Gods walked away from the Sinkhole of Creation, all of them fed up with derision.
    Tatamyrith summed up the Gods who had remained, and they were Five and One. And One was Yasri the Dancer, who spake then, “I see wisdom in thy words, Brother, but I will not stay. To give up Power is to give up Self, and Self is all I am.”
    Yasri left, and the Five were now alone.
    “Where is Jealousy?” asked the Inquirer. And Tatamyrith answered, “She was the first to leave.”
    And the Five shuddered at her words.
    Sudyaswallarat spat on the sand, and the sand turned into dirt. And he dug his finger into the dirt, and with it smeared himself and each and every one of his remaining siblings, saying:
    “With Undeath will come Unfaith, and many Gods will perish. We must survive. This is our Covenant, and dirt is our Seal. We stay Unwashed.”
    And Tatamyrith said, “We stay Unclean.”

    — The Book of Tatamyrith, from the Unclean Apocrypha

  • Stupid, stupid MC creature! If Death is no more, no Gods can perish!

    Rewriting the last bit of my piece, OK?

    “With Undeath will come Unfaith, and many Gods will vanish. We must remain. This is our Covenant, and dirt is our Seal. We stay Unwashed.”
    And Tatamyrith said, “We stay Unclean.”

  • The Trees of Clay that Begat the Fruit of Tomtar –

    It is said that in the beginning before a question was asked, before a question became something corporeal and possibly before the blooms turned black and brought forth a new form of life there were the people. They were but one of many that populated the planet and the youngest to an already crowded existence.

    Their presence was not considered a welcome occurrence by the others and they were immediately shunned. Pushed from one environ to another they were never at home and soon adapted a nomadic existence that had them wandering the world, skirting the edges of civilization and passing through the wilds only to emerge at the next village or city more bedraggled then they were last seen.

    Viewed as children the people were dismissed as nothing more and left to fend for themselves. They scrapped together what they could from what they found, using the detritus discarded on the outskirts of civilization. There they found others, the outcasts, the runaways, the lost and welcomed them unlike those who has spurned them.

    The world was harsh and the people lost members as they moved but with each encounter with another society they grew. In time they grew to the point where others began to take notice. The people’s movements did not go without mention and soon they were met by a phalanx from one city after another and turned away long before they reached civilization again.

    It is here that the fog of history shrouds the details of the people’s departure from civilization all together. What is known is that they met their end at the confluence of three rivers where the mud and the muck was thick one winter where snow was on the air but had not graced the land. Trapped by the converging armies of five cities the people soon began bogged down in their attempts to escape.

    The pursuing troops, spears in hand, marched out into the mire where their fight was with the mud and not the people. Still but children they put up no resistance but fell into the muck beneath the blades of the soldiers’ spears only for each to pierce the chest of every person. Each and every troop came away from the slaughter without his weapon, so caked in mud that all of them were laden with a layer of armor that they could only shamble ashore.

    The commanding officers of all five cities were so incensed at the loss of the weapons that they began berating and beating their own troops to return to the field and retrieve them. Downtrodden and without a means to disobey the soldiers returned to the wallow only to add to the burdens they already bore. Each returned to his spear only to find it grasped by more than the mud that held everything it touched.

    The people in their dying agony had reached out to take hold of the spears that would be their undoing. And in the rigor the weapons had become so entrenched that nary a soldier could remove his and return to his command. In companies and platoons they attempted to retrieve the spears, hewing and hawing the shafts that themselves had become caked in mud. In groups and as individuals they tried to remove the mud and to dig out the body in which the blades had become entrenched.

    The efforts were for naught as with each successive movement the assembled soldiers managed only to hasten the mud’s hold and soon the men found themselves knee deep in the mire. Frustrated and scared, officers and foot soldiers alike began to panic whilst their commanders looked on. A frenzy swiftly over took them and soon en-masse they were attacking the very corpses of the people.

    Ribcages and abdomens were pried open with the hunger that only a thousand starving animals display. It is said that the brutality the soldiers demonstrated on the bodies of the deceased, who were again but mere children in the light and the darkness of the world, was ultimately their undoing. With the rending of each successive corpse blood began to flow across the plain of mud, working its way towards the rivers only to be swallowed by the muck where mere water would stand patiently waiting for its turn to be absorbed or to abscond to the rivers.

    The blood of the people was the key, you see, for it sowed more than a confusion. Its wrought the mud into iron that bound all who were by touched it into the forms we know as the Trees of Clay. Frozen in their agony and depravity the soldiers became trapped in groups centered around a spear in various positions but every single one up unto their eyes was caked in the mud and the blood that was the people.

    And on the lips of each one of those children that were so carelessly slaughtered laid a question unasked. The commanders were stunned into silence, each on their own bank of one of the rivers. Four are said to have turned away and headed not to their city but to some distant land of which it is not spoken. The fifth remained behind, driven by some insistent need to regain his soldiers and his weapons.

    As the season turned to spring the man remained battering at the trees of clay even as they began to bear fruit. Each fell and begat a new person, childlike in size and appearance who gathered to watch as the old commander set about attacking each tree. As each tree shed its last fruit the man was able to demolish it with a single blow before moving on to the next.

    The children, that were to become Tomtar watched and when he was finished asked, “Why?”

    Excerpt from the Oral Histories of Prof. , Preeminent Scholar of Pre-Bloomine History at the University of […] to her students in the year […]

    (Wow, actually managed to get the entire story to fall in at 1000 words exactly including title and description at the bottom there. Please note that any time I write […] I mean to leave those details blank so that it can be slotted in appropriately to the rest of the world.)

  • *Facepalm*

    I was translanting Frank Herberts’ Children of Dune last night and then, and only then, I realized I’d got the “dost thou” all wrong in my short gospel over there. To all of you, English native speakers, my most sincere apologies.

  • Long ago, before the Gods of BlackBloom fell from favor, the elders would sit by the fire during great storms when the wind would howl and whine, telling the children of the Heart of the Wind.

    The Twin Gods, Zephyr, who ruled the mighty winds and Chloe, who helped bring the beauty of flowers to the world may have been twins by blood, but they forever fought. They fought over who was more important, over who an individual needed more, who was more worshipped, who was more devoted. They fought over anything that could be fought over. Restless as siblings, they grew tired of the fighting and constant bickering and over the years moved apart, occupying different parts of the world.

    Chloe roamed the lands, as bright as a sunny day, watching over her flowers and seedlings. She brought beauty with wildflowers and flowered the necessary plants that helped the people and creatures of their world live and sustain themselves. Beyond that, she kept the flower that had flourished in the blood of Death blooming, even as the mortals found the power of the un-life it gave. While Zephyr held no love for either the BlackBloom flower or the people that chose to use it, Chloe believed it was not their right to choose and so kept to her duty and love of the flowers.

    Zephyr however, was hot-headed and fickle. He watched as the people of their world slowly lost their belief in the Gods that had created the very things that were used daily without thought. Where Chloe saw just another flower to care for, Zephyr held only resentment for the inhabitants using the very blood of one of their Gods to create their own second life. And so Zephyr left land and went to the seas, where the wind ruled and he was still rightfully prayed to. The sailors and fishermen that lived on the oceans of the world knew the winds held sway over the tides and indirectly their very lives and respected that power well. Zephyr was true to them for the most part, but still when he caught a shipment of the life-giving flower on his seas, the winds would rage and no sailor was safe.

    There came a day though, when Zephyr was in a perpetual bad mood, he’d caught several small ships with flowers aboard, BlackBloom included and his winds raged across the seas, causing storms that not only damaged the ships, but spread to the land. Port after port was damaged and soon, after weeks of the same storms raging, Chloe came calling on her brother, who sat stewing on a wrecked, abandoned beach.

    “Zephyr!” She yelled, pointing to land and the damage that lay strewn everywhere. “Look, look what you’ve done with your temper.”

    He stood and the winds whipped around them, “What have I done? So their little days are interrupted, half of them will use that flower and have all the days in the world to remake what I’ve destroyed anyway.”

    “And what of the half of your precious sailors and fishermen that will never afford a bloom, brother? What of those that will not have a second life to rebuild? What of those that will die a final death and leave their families nothing but the ships you have wrecked and the homes you’ve destroyed?”

    Chloe met Zephyr’s cloud-colored eyes. “They are not all so lucky to have such an immortal life, brother. At least let them be lucky with the wind God they pray to.”

    With that, Chloe left and Zephyr remained silent, the winds around him stilled and throughout the rest of the day there was nothing but the sound of the sea creatures and the quiet rush of the waters.

    Days of quiet passed, no wind, no storms and the damage that had been done was rebuilt in the calm weather. At times, Zephyr himself would show, cloaked and disguised and helped to send some of the ships back into the seas, secretly filling their sails with wind. Recovery was quick and unhindered by the weather, made certain by Zephyr. So bent on damaging those that dared to be near immortal, he had never thought before of those that couldn’t take the BlackBloom flower, not once considering those that only had one life and not two. The wind God listened to the prayers said in quiet homes then, he listened to the sailors on the ships speak of his wrath and thank him when they traveled safe. And when time came for him to rage against another shipment of Blackbloom, he made sure that those he’d vowed to protect after Chloe left him, those that held the heart of the wind, were safe.

  • Every year of one’s second, Bloomed life is a gift. A precious gift.
    To have too many gifts is an imbalance.
    The gods did not care for such an imbalance, and so dispatched Kinnis, who once ruled the otherworld, and has had nothing but time on his hands since the Blooming, to rebalance things.

    This, at least, is the explanation for why, at the height of winter every year, the Bloomed had one prized possession stolen from their houses. One thing that they valued, whether they knew it or not, as much as one further year of life, would be taken from them.

    They were afraid; word got out. And, as people so often do with their fears, the Bloomed made a game of the thing. They would select their prized possessions before the solstice, and leave them on small alters near open windows, or outside their houses. Sometimes these things would be taken, and this would be taken as a good omen; the acceptance of an offering by that shadowy, half-forgotten story Kinnis, and there would be laughter and drinking and song to ward away the cold, and the dark.

    Sometimes something else would be taken, but very few spoke of it when this happened, and were quick to join in with the songs and laughter, perhaps too loudly; their offerings, ignored, quickly removed from sight.

    Everybody knows now that Kinnis never existed, some fabrication to explain the loss of life around the coldest months; now he is a children’s story, used to scare the Bloomed youths into giving up one special toy or treat at the end of every year, usually to be replaced by smiling, slightly drunk parents with something larger or better, or more expensive.

    Very few have thought to wonder what it means that Kinnis has stopped taking the offerings – or how it is that the usurped and bitter godling is now going about addressing the matter of balance.

  • One last try posting lol:

    Long ago, before the Gods of BlackBloom fell from favor, the elders would sit by the fire during great storms when the wind would howl and whine, telling the children of the Heart of the Wind.

    The Twin Gods, Zephyr, who ruled the mighty winds and Chloe, who helped bring the beauty of flowers to the world may have been twins by blood, but they forever fought. They fought over who was more important, over who an individual needed more, who was more worshipped, who was more devoted. They fought over anything that could be fought over. Restless as siblings, they grew tired of the fighting and constant bickering and over the years moved apart, occupying different parts of the world.

    Chloe roamed the lands, as bright as a sunny day, watching over her flowers and seedlings. She brought beauty with wildflowers and flowered the necessary plants that helped the people and creatures of their world live and sustain themselves. Beyond that, she kept the flower that had flourished in the blood of Death blooming, even as the mortals found the power of the un-life it gave. While Zephyr held no love for either the BlackBloom flower or the people that chose to use it, Chloe believed it was not their right to choose and so kept to her duty and love of the flowers.

    Zephyr however, was hot-headed and fickle. He watched as the people of their world slowly lost their belief in the Gods that had created the very things that were used daily without thought. Where Chloe saw just another flower to care for, Zephyr held only resentment for the inhabitants using the very blood of one of their Gods to create their own second life. And so Zephyr left land and went to the seas, where the wind ruled and he was still rightfully prayed to. The sailors and fishermen that lived on the oceans of the world knew the winds held sway over the tides and indirectly their very lives and respected that power well. Zephyr was true to them for the most part, but still when he caught a shipment of the life-giving flower on his seas, the winds would rage and no sailor was safe.

    There came a day though, when Zephyr was in a perpetual bad mood, he’d caught several small ships with flowers aboard, BlackBloom included and his winds raged across the seas, causing storms that not only damaged the ships, but spread to the land. Port after port was damaged and soon, after weeks of the same storms raging, Chloe came calling on her brother, who sat stewing on a wrecked, abandoned beach.

    “Zephyr!” She yelled, pointing to land and the damage that lay strewn everywhere. “Look, look what you’ve done with your temper.”

    He stood and the winds whipped around them, “What have I done? So their little days are interrupted, half of them will use that flower and have all the days in the world to remake what I’ve destroyed anyway.”

    “And what of the half of your precious sailors and fishermen that will never afford a bloom, brother? What of those that will not have a second life to rebuild? What of those that will die a final death and leave their families nothing but the ships you have wrecked and the homes you’ve destroyed?”

    Chloe met Zephyr’s cloud-colored eyes. “They are not all so lucky to have such an immortal life, brother. At least let them be lucky with the wind God they pray to.”

    With that, Chloe left and Zephyr remained silent, the winds around him stilled and throughout the rest of the day there was nothing but the sound of the sea creatures and the quiet rush of the waters.

    Days of quiet passed, no wind, no storms and the damage that had been done was rebuilt in the calm weather. At times, Zephyr himself would show, cloaked and disguised and helped to send some of the ships back into the seas, secretly filling their sails with wind. Recovery was quick and unhindered by the weather, made certain by Zephyr. So bent on damaging those that dared to be near immortal, he had never thought before of those that couldn’t take the BlackBloom flower, not once considering those that only had one life and not two. The wind God listened to the prayers said in quiet homes then, he listened to the sailors on the ships speak of his wrath and thank him when they traveled safe. And when time came for him to rage against another shipment of Blackbloom, he made sure that those he’d vowed to protect after Chloe left him, those that held the heart of the wind, were safe.

  • And now I return to my eternal favorite topic: that vast desert that we live in, eeking out our trade with tourists now instead of cargo like the old days.

    Aye the desert is as old as the world, as far as we can tell, and it holds plenty of secrets. Vast land all but devoid of waypoints it’s a fine way to meet someone you don’t want to be seen with. The gods meet out there occasionally. Which ones you ask? Why ones do you want really? Life and Death once copulated wildly in that desert,and they say that Tatamiri once hid there to finish her mad calculations. They all wind up there at some point, and the myths never agree on nothing.

    Well, that is, excepting one thing. In this damned wasteland we travelers live in they say the gods held court somewhere. It was a real place, a fine crafted platform free from the endless movement of the sands. It was where they met, or hid from others, or fucked. Aye and whats more, it belonged to one of them. Ain’t nothing went on on that stone slab that weren’t known to Ashpuddle. Seems the slab was the top of her home or somesuch, before everything went pear shaped. I ‘spect if you find her and ask nicely she’ll have some stories to trade.

    But enough of my yammerin, the wind is rising and the dunes are with us. Haul to men and we’ll cross again, luck be with us.

  • When I was a young woman, I thirsted for knowledge of our origins, for the beginnings of our kind. I was told that I was on a fool’s quest, that the gods weren’t gods anymore. Where others saw only dusty, old tales, I still saw splendor and reverence.

    My search led me to a tomb of an old historian named Pialargessa. She lived during the First Age, when the gods were still worshipped and everything was golden and new. In her tomb, I found an altar to the gods, still adorned with flowers and finery, while in her sarcophagus I found her remains clutching a very dry, old tome where she recorded the stories of the gods.

    In the Book of Pialargessa, there are details of a sex act so twisted and so depraved that it is forbidden. It was not always so, in fact, it is now forbidden because Life and Death decreed that no one may ever again attempt it. You see back in those days, in time before measure, Life and Death made the children of Blackbloom. Such was their love that their manner of joining brought forth either mortal or gods, some beautiful, some gruesome. But none was more grotesque than Tallyr, the god of the dark season.

    Life knew there was something amiss with her unborn child, but still, it was hers and she would love and care for it. When the day came for Tallyr to make his appearance, Life and Death waited to see their new son, but their anticipation soon turned to horror when he was born. The act that had created him left him looking less like a god and more like a putrid monster, with his limbs arranged in strange angles and his flesh rippled and pulled like sheets of clay. Tallyr was so hideous that no one of mortal birth could look at him without instantly becoming mad and ending their own life for fear of nightmares about the monstrous child.

    Life and Death confined Tallyr to the castle for the first few years but as the boy grew, they knew they could not keep him locked inside forever. He was born to oversee the world below and would have to take his place in it, whether he looked as he did or not. His power was meant to nourish the soils of Blackbloom and finally Life agreed that he must take his place with his siblings.

    As the moon rose on the last night of the rainy season, Life took a deep breath and blew a cold, cold wind on the skies. The moon froze in the dark night sky. Death went to the top of world and moved the axis. Although time kept going, the moon and Blackbloom seemed to be locked together, unable to free themselves of the machinations of Life and Death.

    The next morning, the sun rose but blackness blanketed the world as the moon blocked the light. In the darkness, Life and Death allowed Tallyr to leave the castle for the first time. On the surface, he ran and climbed and jumped and played in the dirt as all boys do. Life could not bear to tell her son that he would have to live like a beast, locked away from mortal eyes. Instead, she would make him the god of the dark season, and his domain would be the endless night when the moon was frozen between them and the sun.

    And so it was, Tallyr lived on the surface of the world for three months, then the moon would melt from the skies and light would return. Tallyr would go back to the castle with his grieving mother and wait for his turn to go back down.

    The stories Pialargessa collected of Tallyr were romantic and told of a god who was misunderstood yet kind. Her writing made him seem a cherished friend or lover, who knows which but that’s not what I found in my quests.

    I was traveling through Mushgrass, a village to the east when I had troubles with my motorbike. I stopped for the night and found a table at a pub to have a meal and soothe my bones. I had Pialargessa’s book with me and started to read it while I waited for food and a bed to be made ready.

    Late in the evening, a frail, old, blind man walked in, reeking of moldy dirt, the smell that old forgotten cemeteries have. He sniffed the air strangely and turned to my table. It was creepy to watch him drag his rotting body over to me, where he sniffed in again. His clothes were ragged and soiled, his feet bare and bony. He leaned in over the book, as I tried not to gag at his odor, the putrid smell of manure and corpse flesh mingled on him.

    “I know what you have there.” He said to me. I tried to stammer some response but he silenced me with a hand, grabbing my jaw, squeezing my face like a vice. His hand was cold and moist as though he had just been drug out of a bog. His eyes looked as though they had grown shut, or were sewn shut.

    “Take it back where it came from.”

    Before I could collect myself, he had released me and disintegrated to a pile of dirt on the floor. No one in the bar would speak for several minutes but when they did, it was unanimous. I was thrown out. I left that very night and put the book back into Pialargessa’s hands. I don’t know if it was Tallyr, but from rumors I’ve heard, it matched the description.

    I pray every night that I don’t get another visit from the rotting corpse man. Every once in a while I catch a whiff of him on a breeze and I shudder. A fool’s quest indeed.

    -The Book of Mala

  • I was going to try a last ditch effort to put something together for Zephyr and Chloe, but I see that Samantha Stein beat me to it! My vote goes that way, because I’m selfish and I think the sibling Gods are, like, totally wicked.

    My only note – Zephyr sails on the desert ocean, not oceans of water. The fable still works though, a minor correction.

    Go Stein!

  • (Caught the last-minute myth bug:)

    Jalo was the God of the wood, and a minor God of the Unclean, and depicted as half-blind, half-deer creature with a bow at his side. Some believe him to be a relation of Tylin, and originally on the side of the God of the Underdogs when he attempted to dethrone the Common Pantheon.

    Jalo was also the best friend of Zephyr, God of Wind and the secret lover of Chloe, Goddess of Flowers. It was said that Jalo and Chloe had a baby, but when Chloe gave birth she could not let the All-Parents find out, for Life and Death would kill the child and her for the Unclean association. Instead, she put the child in a thistle-woven basket and let it wash away in the sand oceans. When Jalo found this out, he tried to kill Chloe, but Zephyr stopped him, murdering him in the process. Jalo was cast into a thousand pieces by the winds. Zephyr could not forgive Chloe for the disloyalty of taking his best friend, and furthermore the position she had put him in to save her life, killing Jalo in the process.

    With Jalo dead, and the Common Pantheon watching closely, Zephyr could not allow his twin sister to pay for what she had done. He took the blame upon himself for the murder of an Unclean God – and his best friend, and left for the sand oceans. Some say there, he searches for his niece in the desert. Others say he protects the child from Kinnis, God of the Other- and Underworld.

    Jalo was another victim of the ongoing animosity between the twins, and the first accounting of the Five Blames caused by Zephyr and Chloe.

  • “Well, I can’t put you squabblers to bed just yet, can I? Might be there’s time for a story, and I have just the story in mind for troublemakers. You’re going to hear the tale of Tengsla and Iertu.”

    The light was fading as Benjamin and Jormund hopped unto the older boy’s bed. Rinaldi settled onto the opposing bed, and began his tale.

    “The exact timing of the story of Tengsla and Iertu is still a little fuzzy; what we do know is that it was one of the first tales the cities told us once we cut through all the introductions and started really talking.”

    “The city of Tengsla was, to put it kindly, a dump. Low and wide, it sat on an island hidden just under the sands, with nothing but sand on the horizon. Wooden buildings of all shapes and sizes formed a sprawling network of irregular roadways and wind tunnels. The sand constantly threatened to overtake the city, and the populace was rough, as like to kill you as look at you.” The boys gasped as Rinaldi lunged forward and gave them a withering glare. He chuckled to himself, ruffled Benjamin’s hair, continued.

    “Far to the north, some 250 miles, the proud city of Iertu stood on its own prominent but small island of stone. What it lacked in sprawl, it made up for in height. Iertu coached and shepherded its people, and made sure to support their efforts to build up when they ran out of space to build out.”

    “The result was magnificent; great stone and eventually even steel towers that looked fit to pierce the sky, thrumming with industrious activity. Where Tengsla exported sand and criminals, Iertu exported everything else.”

    “Anyway, somewhere along the line, Tengsla became jealous of Iertu, which normally would not have been a problem. Until one day, as she muttered bitterly to herself about Iertu’s success, an unfamiliar voice answered her in her own tongue. It was the exiled god, Tylin. He spoke to Tengsla about Iertu at length, learning about their relationship. ‘I have never been to Iertu before. Perhaps it’s time to pay him a visit.’ Tengsla bid him a fond farewell, grateful for a soul to speak to, and went back to her muttering.”

    “Weeks later, Tylin arrived in Iertu, and struck up a conversation with him, specifically asking him about Tengsla. Iertu devoted little more than contempt to the ‘squat wooden hovel town’ next door, wishing that the sand would eat her and be done with it. ‘What makes you so cruel to your neighbor,’ Tylin asked. ’She is but an obstacle in the sand. I am a giant of stone and steel, and she is but a pile of wooden planks.’ Tylin chuckled to himself, and tapped his hand to the stone wall beside him. ‘Not anymore, my proud friend.’ From Tylin’s touch energy radiated, and like a dry sponge soaking up water, the massive buildings of Iertu were turned to wood in moments.”

    “Iertu’s wail of terror and rage was heard far and wide, matched only by the frightened cries of his inhabitants. ‘What have you done to me,’ Iertu cried. Tylin, already walking away, called back over his shoulder. ‘You’ve made the mistake of thinking yourself superior. I’ve simply evened the odds a bit.’ Iertu was flustered, but a retort burst forth before he could think better of it. ‘I still have my height, Tylin.’ Even as he said it, the skies to the north began to darken, and a finger of whirling wind poked down out of the heavens. ‘Hold that thought,” Tylin muttered as he walked through Iertu’s gates and faded into the desert sands. Iertu collapsed like so many stacked sticks behind him.”

    “Pops, what happened to the people?”

    “They died, stupid.”

    “Jormund, you’re developing a talent for being unpleasant. Hush. Not all of them died, Benjamin. Guess where the survivors ended up going.”

    “To Tengsla!”

    “You bet they did. They moved in and changed the place up. Back then, people still believed in the gods, and they knew that what happened to Iertu was no accident, though they didn’t know which god had brought the city down, or why. They hoped to try again in Tengsla. In time, the industrious people of Iertu came to lead their new home, reforming those they could, and running out the troublemakers. The sprawling city exploded outward along with its population, building outward on wooden scaffolds to keep the new growth from sinking into the sand. Hundreds of years later, incredibly, the outer edge of Tengsla was within a good strong stone’s throw of Iertu.”

    “As you might imagine, Iertu did not take kindly to this intrusion. Broken and wholly alone, he spent the next several years shouting at Tengsla, who at first ignored him for his bitterness, remembering her own feelings in the time before Iertu’s fall. But all of us are flawed, and eventually, Tengsla’s patience and she took to shouting back at Iertu. It became an embarrassing name calling contest between the two cities, and soon Gloss began to give them wide berth.”

    “It was only a matter of time before Tylin passed through the neighborhood again. Hundreds of years later, the punishment for his crime against the Court was taking its toll, and his memories were fragmented, dust on the wind. Upon hearing the two cities argue, and seeing the sprawling Tengsla about to consume the decrepit ruin of Iertu, he lashed out at her the way that only a mad god can; with stupendous power, and horrible aim.”

    “’Who do you think you are, torturing this poor little city? I’ll show you, you overgrown maze!’ With a stamp of his foot, the ground of Tengsla turned from sand to mush, swallowing the city from one side to the other. Her screams of protest turned to bubbly murmurs, and then went silent. Those few that survived the drowning of Tengsla took refuge in the ruins of Iertu, and in time became the tribes we know today.”

    “Satisfied, Tylin went on his way, but Iertu never spoke again. Even today, now that we can listen, we never hear more than the tell tale signs of his breathing.” Rinaldi leaned back and nodded sagely. “And that, boys, is how Tylin became known as the mad god of underdogs, and how the Ghost Marshes came to be.”

    —–

    Late, and few words over spec, but I wanted to make sure my interest in the project was at least noted.

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