Saturday, April 15, 2017

Unonera's Invention

   Onys, now free from his prison, sifted through the abyss beyond Nomra’s domain in the core of Oramon. He drifted aimlessly for some time, brooding on his revenge. How long he remained like that, he knew not, for time in the dark is immeasurable. But he gained strength from the darkness and solace from its silence.
   A glimmer came through the shadows at last and Onys approached it, curious of its origin, but wary, lest it be an agent of Nomra sent to trap him again. He emerged in Unamalteron, under the sea, where the darkness of the unformed internal earth met with the bottom of sea’s chasms.
   He crawled out of the shadow and up to the peak of Unamalteron, where he found the blind and mute Unonera, etching symbols in slabs of shale brought to her by the spiny Denites. Onys sat beside her and watched her etch the symbols day after day, tracing them with her fingers and rewriting her slates. Her arcane actions intrigued him and he thought her strange and beautiful. The Denites were wary of Onys, but since he did not seem to want to harm their mistress, they left him alone. The Denites also passed the slates of shale among each other, seemingly trying to learn the glyphs that Unonera had made. Sometimes she would help them, drawing pictures to illustrate verbs and making gestures until the Denites learned a symbols’ meaning.
   Unonera sensed the presence of Onys and sought him with her hands, exploring his disfigured face. But she did not draw away.
   “I am Onys,” Onys said. “I was awakened in the dark by Nomra. But she feared me and locked me away. I escaped and wandered the dark, until I found this opening into the twilight seas. This place is magnificent and shadowy, where one might be hidden and reality might morph. Who are you, eyeless queen of this shadow realm?”
   But Unonera could not speak, only scribble on her slates and show him writings that he did not understand. So Onys stayed and absorbed her form of communication until he had mastered it. Then he took a shard of rock and made a slate for Unonera, passing it to her. She felt the symbols with her fingertips and smiled.
   I know your speech. Tell me who you are.
   And Unonera would have wept, but she had no eyes, so she wrote for Onys on a piece of stone:
I am Unonera. Denu made me by accident, dreaming of his lost wife. But I was formed awry, like you, without eyes, but with a sight that looks into the future. Denu despised me and my prophecy and cut off my tongue. Now I write prophecies alone in this shadowy place, inventing ways that I might speak, but I can barely teach it to others. Now that you, who can speak, know my speech, perhaps you can teach it to others?
   “But I dare not go up into the light,” said Onys. “The light is unkind to me.”
   Unonera wrote: Then help me teach the Denites, that they may spread my language. There is a city far from here, but it is sparkling with lights and the people there are beautiful and will not look upon strange creatures like us.
   Onys stayed with Unonera and helped her teach the Denites to read and write.
   My voice and my prophecies shall not go unheard, Unonera wrote.
   Onys took darkness from the chasm of Unamalteron and formed slates of onyx and a sharp stylus for Unonera. When she had written in the soft black stone, the Denites would take it up to the surface of the sea, where the sun would harden the shadow stones. The Denites built crude stone monoliths and set the onyx tablets in them and there slowly grew a forest of stone prophecies beside Unamalteron.

   But Unonera was not satisfied. I must take my words to others, she said. She asked Onys to go with her to the palace of Denona, where Triona and her daughters lived with the Trinites. Onys at last agreed to accompany her, for she warned that the people of Denona had once warred with her and the Denites. First, Onys made himself a reflective mask of onyx and a dark robe that absorbed light, then together, he and Unonera made their way to the shining palace of Triona, where there was always celebration.
   The halls of Denona were in even more riotous celebration than usual. Many months before, when Onys had slipped out of Unamalteron, Denu had crashed into the sea after stealing Mihr. He had come to his old lover, Triona, wounded by the bats of Nomra. Triona had long believed him dead, and was overjoyed. She and her daughters took care of him while he healed and now he was at last fully recovered.
   The daughters of Triona and Denu, the Syré, filled the palace with heavenly songs. Denu showed them how to make the flutes and stringed shells that his children had made in the world above and the Syré played on them, too. And the dancing did not cease. The lights sparkled all around and gleamed off the scales of the Syré and Triona and off the smooth shells of the Trinites. The Trinites’ eyes of fire flickered as they joined the dancing, scuttling back and forth and twirling in circles. A great banquet had also been prepared: delicious shoots of underwater plants, flavorful shellfish, and sweet jellies made from medusas and sea-honey.
   It had been long since any warfare had been waged on Denona by the Denites, and so Unonera and Onys walked right through the gates and into the festival. Slowly, the celebrants stopped their dancing and stared as they realized there were two newcomers standing in their midst.
   Denu recognized Unonera and drew back with a cry. Onys stepped forward.
   “Unonera has a gift for you all,” he said. “She brings you her words.”
   “We do not want her black prophecies here,” Denu snarled, so soon forgetting that she had saved him from the wrath of Neron.
   “She has more to offer than the valuable glimpses of the future,” Onys said. “She brings you history, posterity, eternal delights. She brings you writing.”
   “What is writing?” asked Triona.
   “It is how you speak to your descendants; it is your voice and words, etched in stone forever; for the voiceless, it is a way to speak,” Onys said and Unonera unveiled a slab of onyx that she carried, with all her glyphs carefully written thereupon.
   “What are those markings?” asked one of the Syré.
   “They are symbols,” said Onys. “Each has a meaning and with them, you can say anything that you desire, silently, for eternity.”
   “Why have you come here? Who are you?” demanded Denu.
   “I am Onys,” said Onys. “I have come here to help Unonera teach her language to you. She wishes to gift this new art to all peoples, that they may write as she does, and read.”
   “She only wants that her dark words should echo in every head and render all defenseless to despair!” Denu said, then he turned to Triona. “Send her away. She brought the Denites against you before. What motive drives her now?”
   Unonera shook her head and Onys stepped forward, but Triona gestured to the Trinites and they herded Onys and Unonera from the palace and closed the gate. The onyx slab of alphabet slipped from Unonera’s limp fingers and she leaned on Onys as they made their way back to the gloom of Unamalteron.

   But one of the Syré, named Essua, followed them, for she was intrigued by these silent and beautiful words. Although she was afraid of the Denites, she stayed with Unonera and Onys and learned Unonera’s alphabet. And when she had mastered it, she returned to Denona to teach her sisters.

No comments:

Post a Comment