The race of Denu grew larger and soon the palaces that they had built for Neron on the top of Amalteron were not enough to contain them. Neron’s ire was once again raised by the these upstart children, these bright eyed usurpers who thronged in his halls and made raucous noise in his once quiet gardens.
At last he went to Ner. But cunning Ner had anticipated him, so before Neron could express his displeasure, Ner hailed him.
“Oh great Neron, benefactor and holy guardian,” he said. “I have seen that your halls are overrun with the silver-eyed children. Though it breaks my heart, I have decided to part from you. I will take my people to live in the valleys below. We will build a new habitation there. A home big enough for all of us. We will still bring unto you gifts in annual visitation, but we must have room to spread out. You will understand, I hope, oh, Grandfather?”
Neron could scarce contain his joy. “I understand,” he said. “My blessings go with you.”
As he watched the Children of Denu gather and depart down the luscious green slopes of his chief mountain, a niggling question came to him: where would they settle? And what would the crafty race create there? Now he could not watch them as closely.
But now his beautiful palaces would be home to only him, Onera, Nez, Eanez and Arathez. Eanez and Arathez had grown to maturity and now Onera asked Neron to make for them companions as for the Children of Denu. He did as she asked, and when Onera saw that her children were happy, she left, for she had not forgiven Nez, and did not wish to remain in his company. So she departed for the Island that was named for her.
Onera had cursed Nez that none should ever love him, but she had been too late: Ariaj had loved him from the start and she loved him still. Nez watched the horizon whence Onera had departed and would not accept Ariaj’s advances. Neron saw that he pined and wished for him to be happy, but he had already sent Ner, the brewer of potions, away…
Ner led his siblings and their many children on through the forests towards Neronimahnon, the flaming mountain.
“Where will we settle?” complained his sister, Ee, “There is naught out here but wilderness and the wild animals. We grew up in Amalteron’s orchard: to leave is grievous!”
“We will make a new home, a brighter, grander place than any other,” Ner said. “We are a born of Denu and Onera and the power of creation is in our eyes. We will create such wonders as Neron could never imagine. We will become greater than he or any other. Upon Neronimahnon we will build and use its fire for our craft.”
Nemrus watched the multitude pass through his quiet glens and peaceful forests with concerned eyes. He saw them approaching his favorite mountain, Neronimahnon, and he waited anxiously for them to pass it by. To his dismay, they instead came to a halt upon the mountains grassy slopes. It was a rich and verdant land about the mountain, and the children of Denu began to make themselves comfortable, planting seeds they had brought from the orchards of Amalteron and erecting shelters.
Nemrus watched as they made his mountain their abode, but he was shy and did not confront them. Instead he went to Neron.
Neron frowned. He had finally gotten the burdensome children away from his own dwelling and was reluctant to chase them from their new chosen place, lest they return…but he also loved Neronimahnon.
“Perhaps they will leave if the mountain is unstable,” Neron suggested. “But let them not know why it shaketh.”
Nemrus silently withdrew, disappointed that Neron was not willing to help. But he went to the volcano and inspired it to shiver and tremble and belch ash into the sky. The shelters that the Children of Denu had constructed fell down and Ee was distraught.
“This is not a place that is good!” she said to Ner. But Ner was not deterred. He ordered their settlement to move down the mountain to the valley at its foot. There, the soil was still rich, and a stream meandered through; it was a much better place for a palace.
Ner began to build his palace beside the stream, while Nu continued to plant orchards higher up the mountain where the soil made them to grow lustily. One day she was alone, tending to the tender shoots. Nemrus appeared there, his antlers outlined by the rising sun. The Children of Denu had rarely, if ever, seen the solitary god of the woods. Nu was surprised and bowed before him.
“Uncle!” she said. “It is an honor to see you here at our new settlement. Our bustling disturbed Neron upon his sacred mountain and it is good that we come here. We welcome you warmly!”
“This mountain is sacred unto me,” said Nemrus. “I would that your family goeth elsewhere.”
Nu returned to the valley and told Ner and Deru this, but Ner scoffed.
“This place is perfect for a dwelling of so many!” he said. “Where else could we go? Here we have soil, stone, water, fire, everything is bounteous for our sustenance!”
“But great Nemrus is displeased,” Nu said.
“And he is not Neron,” Ner said.
“He has the power of earth, of animals,” Nu said.
“Then we shall give him gifts,” said Ner. “We will adulate and worship him as we did to appease Neron.”
“I do not think he will be pleased,” said Nu.
“You must please him,” Ner said.
Nu was not happy, but she knew that her brothers and sisters would not listen, so she went to negotiate with Nemrus.
“Great Nemrus,” she said. “This place is perfect for a host this large. We will only grow and few places would sustain us. Would it not be better that we anchor here than to flood your quiet glens and bounteous sacred places? If we remain here, we will not need to go elsewhere. We will name our palaces after you and bring you gifts. We will pay tribute unto you, in goods and in song.”
Although Nemrus could see that she was right, he was bitter.
“A child must be thrown into the fire of Neronimahnon each year,” he said. “Or it will erupt and destroy your city.” He thought perhaps they would yet be dissuaded from staying there. Nu was horrified but went and told Ner.
“We cannot tarry here,” she said. “Let us find another valley! There must be some other place where we can live.”
But Ner was decided. And he sent Nu to tell Nemrus that they would agree to the terms.
Nemrus told her to bring the sacrifice on the following morning, then he waited and watched to see what would happen. Nu would have nothing to do with the act, and so Ner chose one of his own grand-children and along with a procession of singers and bearers of jewels, brought his grandson, Etas, to the lip of the volcano at dawn.
Nemrus watched in horror, realizing that Ner meant truly to do this thing. Etas was about to be hurled into the flaming crater. But as Ner reached for his own progeny, Nemrus commanded the earth to swallow him, and Etas vanished into the rocks and soil before he could be slain.
“Thou merciless people,” roared Nemrus, emerging from the vapors of the mountain. “You would slay your own kin? You deserve not the life that has been granted you!”
“Our Grandmother, and your Mother, Nomra, did likewise in olden days,” Ner said.
“And she paid dearly for such an unnatural act!” Nemrus hissed. “As shall you! May the cycles of the animals evermore affect you, O heartless ones, may you not continue to live and multiply and overrun this earth with your wickedness. But I shall spare Nu, for she is merciful.”
Nemrus left Neronihmanon and vanished into the forests. And after, age came upon the Children of Denu and they grew old and died as the animals did. All save for Nu.
Nu lived on as the city grew and filled the valley with magnificence. Eventually, Ner grew old and when he died, he passed the leadership of the city to his son, Teris. Generations now came and went, but Nu remained, young and beautiful in the city called Nemraltus, after the god of the forests.
What had befallen Etas? He had been swallowed by the earth, but Nemrus brought him out of the moss and raised him in the woods and gave him power over the earth and they watched the forests together and minded the animals of Oramon. Etas was fleet and could run around the world in a day, bringing news to Nemrus from far and wide. He was also a child of Denu and had the power of creation in his eyes. He learned to transform into any shape he desired, just as his great grandfather, Denu. Untouched by Nemrus’ curse, he lived on, eternally youthful like his grand-aunt, Nu.