Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Children of Denu

   Now that Neron believed Denu dead, he turned his bitter eye upon the Children of Denu. Onera loved them and so he did not raise his hand against them, but neither did he let any love fall upon them. He resented their presence upon the slopes of Amalteron and avoided them whenever he ascended or descended the mountain.
   Nu gathered her siblings together in the middle of Nomra’s orchard. “Brothers and Sisters,” she said, “our grandfather Neron despises us, but what have we done against him?”
   “Nothing,” replied Ner, the eldest. “Let us push him into the sea!”
   “Quiet,” said Nu. “We have done nothing against him, but neither have we done aught for him.”
   “We could help him trip,” suggested Ner, “and fall off the cliff. Our grandmother Nomra lured our mother to her death in like manner.”
   “Thou seek blood unwarranted,” said Nu. “We will use our talents and bring unto Neron delightful gifts by which he shall see our virtues.”
   With their eyes of Light, the Children of Denu took gold and silver apples from the orchard and in the Darkness of night, transformed them. Ner invented the first knife. Deru invented the first chalice. Ee made the first jewelry and Nom made perfume. Nerus created wine and Dena the first pastry. And Nu crafted the first musical instrument: the panpipes.
   The next morning, the Children of Denu brought their gifts to Neron upon the peak of Amalteron. Neron was much delighted with these wondrous gifts and his heart softened towards the artful gift bearers. Ever after, he would often pause in the orchard as he ascended or descended the mountain and visit with the adoring Children of Denu. He would entreat Dena to make him pastry and Nerus to brew wine and Nu would play her panpipes.

   At last Nu asked her mother to make a request of Neron.
   Onera came to Neron upon the peak of Amalteron and said, “Father, you see that my children are not a reproach. They have brought new and delightful things into your world. Now grant them a favor on my behalf: they are without partners and the friendship you know we all desire. Make for them companions.”
   Neron was reluctant, but the Children of Denu had won him with their adoration and so he did as Onera asked. Each Child of Denu was given a spouse in like form, only lacking the Eyes of Light and supreme beauty of Neron’s previous creations. However, the sons and daughters that they brought forth were just as beautiful as the Children of Denu and had inherited the Eyes of Light and the creative power of Denu.
   Ner was reluctant in his reverence of Neron and bitter that his wife was not created as beautiful as the earlier creations. “Neron has slighted us,” he told his siblings. “For Onera he made our father, but he does not love us as he loves Onera.” Deru, Nom, and Ee joined him in his displeasure.
   But Nerus and Nu both loved their companions and did not see them as being creations of lesser quality, though less pleasing to the eye. And while Dena found her partner undesirable, she was much too delighted in her own children to dwell upon him.
   “The Light does not smile upon us,” Ner said to his siblings. “Perhaps the Dark will.”
   “The Light is in us,” Nu disagreed, “we make of it what we will.”
   So Nu and Nerus did not go with the rest of their siblings to take gifts to Forgotten Nomra beneath the Earth in the core of Night, lit by her Light of Darkness, where strange creatures and Fires wound about the crystal pathways.
   Nomra greeted her grandchildren with interest. Although they approached her with trepidation, they were the first beings to seek her in many a year.
   “Welcome, children of Onera,” she said. “What brings you into the land of the dead? What has passed above?”
   “We have come to honor you,” Ner said. “You are the original Creator and Mother of us All.”
   “It is Neron who made the first life, who made your mother, Onera,” Nomra said coldly.
   “In your image,” said Ner. “You are deserving also of gifts. Neron is not the only ancestor to be honored. We have come far to give you our humble offerings.”
   And they laid out before her, their gifts, more splendid than those for Neron: silver swords, golden cups, strings of opals, sweet incense, and raisin cakes. Because Nerus and Nu did not accompany them, there was no wine and no musical instruments. But Ner had words to honor Nomra.
   Though Nomra knew they only sought favor, she could not help but be flattered that she had been sought out after so long and so she sent them back with crystals and glimpses of the Underworld and her Dark blessings.

   So each year, the Children of Denu made pilgrimages to the chasm, bringing gifts and praise to Nomra, Queen of the Dark. Meanwhile they openly worshipped Neron and their race grew as their children married and bore children and so on. Soon they were a strong people, and the poison on Ner seeped through the generations as he whispered in each of their ears, so that they all bore Neron ill will.

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