From: Andrew Behan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 02 Jan 1998 - 19:33:32 EET
Blackbird a sage of the Ajaak Irripi Ontor temple was told this whimsical
tale by a die-hard traditionalist, whilst travelling amongst the barbaric
Wrothelli hill people of Brolia.
She notes that their crude cosmology fails to acknowledge the true glory
of either Yelm or the Red Goddess herself. However it has a sort of rustic
charm, which (due to the influence of the fashionable mystery cult of
Invisus Lanatum) was highly popular in her lifetime.
In the youth of the world Mornana's peaceful realm was not yet sundered
from the heaving earth. But in later days two great trees branched forth
and, intertwining, held the sky realm aloft so that we might not be
crushed or set on fire by the sky falling on our heads.
One of these trees is a dark, bowing yew tree on whose longest branch
grows a single sickly, poisonous red berry. Each night the birds of
Blathmeala come and peck it with their flinty beaks, so that they might
destroy it forever and free the world from its baleful glow. Each morning the
birds that have gnawed at its sickening poisonous flesh fall dead upon
the heath from its evilinfluence.
But this is to no avail for every seventh night the berry reappears whole,
as if the crows, the hawks and the sparrows had never broken its flesh or
gulped down its ensorcereled pulp.
This berry is none other than Shepelkirt, Poisoner of Blood. The branch,
the twisted rotten branch, upon which the shiny-bright red berry hangs is
none other than Kedderat, the perverted, evil dead god who brought Too
Big, Too Many and Too Small from Outside to destroy everything. The yew,
from which the dead branch, upon which the poison berry hangs is none
other than Jumat - the son of Earth and Sky who slew his father as he was
The other of these trees is a tall, proud firtree on whose highest branch
grows a bright yellow flower, which showers down golden pollen upon the
Earth. Each night the wind rises as darkness approaches and buffets the
high-hanging flower so that it falls down beneath the horizon.
But this is to no avail for each morning the flower sprouts anew on its
lofty branch where it is guarded by a tiny bird, called Elmela or Robin,
whose breast is red from its warm glow.
One time, in the guise of a windblown wren, Lanat was gusted about by the
storm until he alighted on this high branch. Elmela thought the
interloper was a foe come to disfigure his precious charge, so he lunged
at him with his flinty beak. Lanat dodged aside and changed his shape into
a grey squirrel and scurried down the tree. However Elmela went into a red
squirrel and reaching the ground first went into a prickly holly bush
into which Crooked-Legs fell with a piercing squeal. Not one to be undone
Lanat lay patiently until he grew into a majestic oak which overshadowed
his puny neighbour, but then Elmela metamorphosed into a man and hefted
his adze to cut Lanat down for kindling.
Then Lanat went into a man also and as two burly warriors they met on the
ford across a rushing weir to wrestle. At first one grabbed the other in
a headlock and went to throw him over the falls. But the other kicked his
legs from under him. Lanat would grab Elmela by the shoulder to regain
his balance and he would duck down. They grappled long and hard but
neither could wrong-foot the other for long enough to toss him from the
slippery rocks, which he grasped with his bare and bloody feet.
Nine times at dawn they came against each other and nine times by dusk
they fought each other to an exhausted standstill. Not once did one
antagonist get one over on his foe but the other turned the tables in the
blinking of an eye.
At dusk on the ninth day Mornana came by with her white companions,
searching for Elmela. When she saw him on the ford with Lanat she was
both relieved and amused to see the two struggling with grim determination.
She remarked to her followers "See those two brave heroes matched alike in
strength, virtue ...and stupidity." The good people burst out laughing and
the two combatants, their pride stung by her teasing, slipped and fell into
Finally they realised that neither could overcome the other and Lanat
panted wearily "It is no use! Perhaps we will have better luck as friends
than we have had as enemies." Elmela agreed with as much vigour as he could
muster and they retired together to Mornana's hearth that evening.
This is the story of how Lanat met Elmela, the hearth guardian.
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