Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Return of Denu

   Denu had remained hidden from the sight of Neron, in the far desert. He had taken the shape of a fearsome dragon and no animals came near. The fire that spurted from his eyes singed a great tract of the desert and it never gave birth to life again.
   Still he missed Onera.
   At last, he left the desert and flew as a bird to espy the peaks of Neron’s domain. He saw with amazement that magnificent palaces had sprouted from Amalteron and that they were heavily populated with a bronzed and beautiful race. He alighted in the old orchards of Nomra and watched the children play.
   From whence these fleet and fair people? They were not his children. Where were the children he had abandoned? What had Neron done to them? He dared not reveal himself upon that holy mountain, but he lingered long, watching and listening. He found Nez, sitting on the cliff, watching the horizon.
   Ariaj tried still to lure him into a smile, but Nez was still heartbroken.
   “At least play with your grandchildren!” Ariaj implored. “You have lost Onera, but she is still here, all around you!”
   So. This brazen being was the father of this strange race. And Onera…with an anguished cry, Denu flew from Amalteron. How had Onera done this thing? Had Denu really been gone for so long? Had she forgotten him? He had never forgotten her…not even when entwined in the arms of Triona beneath the sea.
   He circled Neron’s mountain again.
   Perhaps he need not hate Onera…she had done no worse thing than he…but he could hate this gold-haired seducer. He could hate him and he would hate his children.
   Where were the children of Denu?

   He flew over the sea, and skimmed the boughs of Onerae with his blue wings. He saw Onera beside the healing stream, alone and sad. He alighted beside her and chirped.
   “Be gone,” she said. “I wish to see none but my Denu.
   Denu transformed into a dragon and roared furiously, rippling the waters of Nyr. Onera leapt back with a cry, but she saw his fiery eyes and ran to him, throwing her arms around his scaly neck.
   “Denu!” she wailed. “I have missed you more than any one thing in the world!”
   “Then why did you love another?” Denu hissed as he resumed his original form.
   Onera looked into his starry eyes and hers filled with tears.
   “Denu, forgive me!” she said. “I never meant to! He—he deceived me with a magic brew…I’m sorry, I thought, I thought he was you, for the potion he gave me befuddled my mind and reason. As soon as I realized what was done, I was very furious, but it was too late! Eanez, Arathez…their children now flood my father’s palace as ours once did.”
   “Ours?” Denu asked.
   “Yes!” Onera beamed. “We had seven. Ner, Deru, Nom, Ee, Nerus, Nu, and Dena. But Ner was vicious. It was he that gave Nez the potion that confused me. I am sorry, Denu. I love only you!”
   “I forgive you,” Denu said slowly. He paused, thinking of Triona’s lips. “I only love you, too,” he said, and his shadow loosened from him.
   “And Neron?” Onera asked. “He does not know you are here?”
   “He believes me dead,” Denu said.
   “He never told me,” Onera said indignantly.
   “No,” said Denu, glad that she had not heard of Triona another way.
   “Well, we shall be able to live here happily, then!” Onera said. “Neron is not looking for you! No more fleeing and hiding, we can be happy at last!”
   “I wish to see my children,” Neron said. “What happened to them?”
   “They had many children of their own and grew until father became displeased with their number and so Ner led them away and they dwell now beneath Neronimahnon, in their city, Nemraltus."
   “Let us go and see them!” Denu exclaimed in delight.
   “But Neron—” Onera began.
   “Fie in Neron!” said Denu. “He will not hear of it, and anyway, I have discovered his power and no longer fear him.”
   “Of what do you speak?” Onera asked. But Denu would not tell her of the eyeless semblance he had called forth. He changed into a dragon and flew to Nemraltus, with his shadow barely clinging to him. Ner had not yet aged and died, but he was beginning to show more age than the father he greeted with respect and a shadow of wariness.
   Here was the father that had abandoned them…was this a time for vengeance, or a time to unite in hatred of Neron whose distrust had caused the rift?
   Ner was double-minded and it was no trouble for him to hold both sentiments in his heart. Denu, too, was confused. Here was his long lost son, also the sorcerer to blame for aiding Nez in the seduction of Onera. But Denu was as capable as his son in the holding of hatred and love together at once.
   And he planned a vengeance and a blessing in one as Ner brought him to banquet with the other six children. Nu at once spotted the fluttery shadow of Denu and remembered the old tales that Ariaj had whispered of the days when shadows were rent from flesh and heinous acts were committed.
   If she had known what was to come, she would have silenced her brother Deru when he spoke of the pilgrimage to see Nomra beneath the earth. He told of the sparkling chambers where Nomra was preparing to receive them when Nemrus’ curse would cause them to die like animals. He told of her seas of gold and milk, of her fantastic creatures and of her Night Light, Mihr.
   Denu’s eyes sparkled at the tales.
   He remained with Onera in the city of their children, disguising again in the form of a dragon, lest Ariaj should espy him from the air.
   And the words of prophecy spoken by Unonera still troubled him.

   They will be reviled! The Race of Nez will take your eyes!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A New Mythology--Oramon--The First City

   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. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A New Mythology--Oramon--Nomra and the Living Dark

   In the internal depths of Oramon, Nomra’s kingdom grew. Among her crystal forests and sculptured blocks of stone she grew new, strange plants for the dark spaces. Some of her new flowers gave light and some were made of living gemstones. She created also, great underground seas of water, molten gold, and milk.
   Before Denu and the wolves, and before she created her Night Light, she used Phiron’s fire to animate her first stone companion, Syn, who was cold and dead in aspect, but able to carve exquisite murals, statues, and hallways for Nomra’s expanding world. Phiron also helped her to make birds of sapphire and ruby that filled the halls with eerie music. She made, too, a steed of steel to carry her about her domain. It was named Sylo, and was like Phiron in form.
   Once, as Nomra rode Sylo to the edge of her demesne, she sought to form a new aviary for her birds. Phiron accompanied her, giving his light to reveal the dark that Nomra might form it as she pleased. But there was already someone there, asleep, as Neron and Nomra had slept in the shadow before light awoke them.
   Nomra drew back, startled and the dark swallowed the being up again before it could wake.
“What untold ancient one is this?” she wondered. “I have never seen the like.” Cautiously, she stepped forward again to reveal the being entirely.
   In her fear of new things, she subconsciously formed the dark as she revealed the new one, and in so doing, unintentionally disfigured the being.
   He opened his eyes and beheld Nomra.
   She was frightened by the terrifying aspect of the monster and turned her steed to flee.
   “Seem I strange unto thee?” he asked. “All is strange unto me. If I frighten you, let me veil myself.” And he took the darkness behind him and without Light, formed a covering for his many eyes and fluid limbs.
   “You create without Light,” Nomra marveled.
   “I have dreamed long and dreams are dark, their substance is real to me,” said the being. “The Dark is an insubstantial world, one of unending, unformed possibilities. The chaos of Night is not solid and can form and reform as it pleases.”
   “There is no need for such uncertainty,” Nomra said. “Let me show you the world of reality, of light and form and concrete beauty.”
   “I find true beauty in the abstract, yet you arouse my curiosity: show me these strange things you speak of,” the being said hungrily. 
   “What shall I call you, Strange One?" Nomra asked.
   "What wilt thou call me?”
   “Onys,” she said. “Of the Dark.”
    Onys nodded and approached Nomra. She led him into her kingdom and showed him the marvels thereof. Behind his veil of night, Onys’s eyes sparkled in delight.
   “These are indeed marvels,” said Onys. “I wonder what more marvelous things we could create in this half-light world of yours.”
   “Will you teach me how to create without Light?” Nomra asked.
   “It is not so much creation as suggestion,” Onys said. “To make things with Light is to bind the Dark. To weave Darkness is to teach it movement.”
   So together, Nomra and Onys made Urr, a great eye of living stone that could see far forward and far backward in time. They made also the Je, four winged maidens with long tongues like snakes.
Onys built a breathing throne of chaos in Nomra’s favorite crystal garden and from this blasphemous throne he perverted her creations.

   Onys unformed her jewel birds halfway, so that they were eternally changing shape, from one kind of bird to another and bats and other winged things that had no names. The breathing throne of chaos expanded to fill the crystal chamber and Onys let loose tendrils into other chambers. Eyes budded on the tendrils and soon he watched all that transpired in Nomra’s domain.
   At first Nomra did not mind the aberrant intrusion and expansion that filled her chambers with dreaded Darkness and seething malice. She was thrilled by the ever-changing, though horrifying madness of these new things. She did not mind that the unblinking tendril eyes of Onys watched her wherever she went and wept tears of blood when she bathed in the sea of milk.
   She did not even care that great hideous membranes grew between her stalactites and rained creeping things upon the stones.
   Phiron whispered to her, warning that Onys was a vile creature, that she should not let him conquer her domain. She did not listen. At first.
   She sought to form Darkness on her own, and shaped for herself the first true bats, but she could not bring them to life without the help of Onys. Frustrated, she sat beside the sea of molten gold, poisoned with the shifting chaos and sparkling eyes of Onys.
   “Nomra…” whispered Onys’s voice from a thousand hidden mouths. “Nomra…”
   Nomra stood and followed the hissing voices to where Onys waited on his throne of chaos.
   “Come to me, Nomra,” he said. “I desire you. Step into my throne and let me embrace you and enfold you in my murk.”
   Nomra held back as the Darkness seemed to tug at her. “I do not wish to,” Nomra said.
   “Do I not excite you?” enquired Onys. “Have you not thrilled at my intangible and ever inescapable pandemonium? Give yourself over to me, Nomra, let us be one in anarchy. Let the Dark change you as I have been changed, as you changed me, dear Nomra. Let me kiss you!”
   His tendrils of slime and membranes sought to pull her into his throne.
   Nomra screamed and pulled away as the churning mucus lapped at her feet and the sticky webs entangled her arms.
   “Phiron!” she cried. “Save me!”
   Phiron tried to reach her, but the Je intercepted him and herded him towards the edges of Light, where Darkness was supreme.
   “Do not touch me,” Nomra warned Onys, but he only laughed.
   “You cannot escape me,” said Onys.
   Nomra seized his webs of Dark that he sought to enwrap her in and used her new skill to reform them. They broke away from her and she fled from the throne into her chamber of sparkling flames. Onys sought to extinguish them with his eye-covered tentacles, but Nomra reformed the tendrils into solid things and with the faint flame-light, managed to freeze them into stone.
   Phiron had singed the Je and escaped from them. He rushed to aid Nomra and they solidified all of the Dark tendrils, tentacles, and creeping feelers and roots that extended from the throne. Then Nomra sealed up the throne in a cocoon of diamond. She left Phiron to blaze bight and keep the Darkness from emerging while she went to the surface to collect sunlight and fallen stars.
   When she returned to the sealed throne of chaos, she formed a cage of silver to contain her new Light. The first lamp, a dazzling Light, which she called Mihr, she hung outside the cocoon to ensure it remained sealed and kept Onys from emerging and bringing pandemonium to her demesne.
Then she and Phiron went through all the chambers and all the caverns and halls and froze the tendrils and closed the eyes and scrubbed the place clean of unformed Darkness. Syn chiseled away the solidified remains of Onys’s expansions and carted them off to a new pit, called Obis, that Nomra made for the purpose. She left Urr alone in its chamber, but sent Sylo to hunt down the Je, which she trapped in silver cages and hung above the gloom of Obis.
   With her new Underworld Light, Mihr, Nomra was at last able to give life to her shadow creatures. She brought her bats to life and sent them to slay all of her old birds that had been commandeered by Onys and then she formed new birds of diamonds and opals.
   She also made the wolves out of shadow and gave them life with the Light of Mihr.

   So Nomra won dominion over Shadow.