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Rough Draft

Thursday, July 24, 2008
Star Songs and Other Myths.
This story takes place just after the stone age in what is known as Prehistoric Times. Some 10,000 years before our modern era. In the age of clay pottery and copper ore. After the great exodus of Africa when wild beasts were made tame and the wandering tribes of Men began to settle distant lands and colonize the world. A world full of superstition and magic.
The Forging of the Universe
before science and television. A long long long time ago. So long ago that the Stars had not been born and there was only empty space and Nothing. But the Nothing did not like being empty. The Nothing was very lonely and it wept tears of sadness. The tears sparkled against the darkness and Nothing was delighted to hear a chorus of sound as each Star found its voice and began to sing in celebration.
So the heavens were built upon the suffering of emptiness and the tears of Nothing became the Universe. So the Stars sang their song of creation and as they did they began to glow softly. The sounds made from Nothing all that is and will be forever forged from the dust of emptiness. But the Stars wanted to please Nothing and so they sang a lullaby and gently wrapped Darkness and Nothing in a blanket of light. So subtle the song that Nothing fell asleep and began to Dream of Life. So the stars found themselves surrounded first by formless foggy ideas that moved like fluid and became oceans and land and the Dreams of Nothing became all the creatures of the Earth.
The Stars gazed down upon these strange dreams and as they watched the magnificence unfold they sang and as they sung they began to laugh at wonderful things that they saw and dreamed. Their laughter became the Gods, beings of light and song that could shape the dreams of Nothing and Darkness.
The Gods sculpted the living and gave shape and function to each. The first born was the Great Tree of Life. The first and grandest of all life. It began as a seed and the Gods planted it at the top of the world. The Tree sprang up from the ground and grew taller than the Gods until its branches touched the heavens while the roots burrowed to ever corner of the World. Its leaves shaded the world from Starlight and the boughs held the cradle of every living thing. The stems and leaves gave host to buds and bursting into flower the Tree of life gave seed to all life on Earth. The seeds of the Tree exploded from the flowers and were cast in all directions to give life to the living spirits, those elder servants of God known as Angels. The third blossoms were the Fairies, warriors of nature and guardians of the wild. Next bloom were the evils, created to punish and torment the wayward creatures of life. After the Evils were made all the creatures of flesh. So the Gods toiled under the tree delivering each child to its place in the world. To each Creature the Gods gave a Name and a Gift.
Some beasts could wriggle and some could not. Some beasts would feed on plant and some of the plant would feed on beasts but before one dream was devoured a thousand more would rise to take its place and so life was never ended but simply repeated. The great song of Life could not be ended only made grander. As the song grew louder larger beasts began to swim the oceans of the World until a few decided to leave the water altogether forgoing fins and flippers for hands and feet.
As each new species was born upon the earthly paradise; the Gods made Gifts until the last of the gifts were gone and the last of creatures born. The Youngest of all were the children of Man. When man saw that the Gods had apparently no more gifts to give he asked the servants of heaven how he would survive against the sharp teeth of Tiger or the poison of Spider. No creature had ever begged an Angel for anything and so the Gods were angry.
“You are the Last of the children of Heaven and for you was saved our greatest gift. But by doubting the Dream you will be given something above all other creatures. To the children of men we bestow also a blessing and a curse. You shall wield the magic of fire and be forever be cursed by it. So loud is the roaring of flame that you will not hear the Star Song. You will always doubt the great dream and always fear it. For you will look upon the Stars and be blinded by their beauty, you shall embrace all the power of their great heat and be burned by it. You shall always want for light and never know your fill. To the children of Men we shall give you all the power you can hold and none of the wisdom to use it. You will never know peace. You will sing the song that ends all life”
Upon pronouncing this fate the Gods cast thunder and lightning down from heaven engulfing the Tree of Life in flame and setting their gift of fire before Man. Whereupon they left the Earth forever. Leaving the world to its destiny. When the other creatures of Earth saw that man had received such mighty gifts they became afraid and jealous. Evil stirred the minds of beast. Evil provoked thoughts and united the creatures of earth to lash out and destroy Man before he could fulfill his prophecy. Humans had to flee for their lives. So they ran for thousands of years, hiding in caves and under rocks. Hiding from the wrath of the Gods. Running from Evil and their ruinous intentions. For 30,000 years men ran from the gods. They ran until they forgot why they ran and so they stopped running and decided to fight for their lands and homes. The tribes of men eventually settled in to defend field and livestock. Over the years humans developed advanced stone tools for farming and hunting. Weapons that could defend and protect.
It may have been because it was hard to see at night that people learned to hide first in caves but later in tents and cottages but always from the darkness in cozy beds with flame lit. The Fire kept everyone alive from the cold. Far more threatening than any living creature was the Earth itself. The weather was by far more frightening than any beast. Homes provided protection safely huddled together between hills from strong winds and crashing storms. The closer together the better. These were precautions that everyone took to prevent themselves from arriving at harm when danger lurked always near, hidden and immediate.
Eventually men left their caves for tiny villages built near good places to live. People liked to live closer to food near rivers and lakes so that the men could go fishing and the women could go swimming and do whatever they wanted. Everyone had to help out back then. People liked to be friends and help each other with important jobs like building barns for horses and fences to keep the sheep from being eaten by hungry werewolves. There were lots of chores for the children to do, carrying buckets of water and helping grow vegetables. Kids had to help roll bread dough and bake tasty treats with wild berries picked from the forest. But they had to be extra special careful out there because there were monsters in the woods that liked to eat delicious children. Mothers would constantly remind their children not to wander away too far when picking berries and nuts in the wild fields outside the safe haven of ranch and home. Although the harvesting of rare spices and exotic herbs was of constant interest. A simple task to be performed by small hands.
Generally these routine chores were carried out by the young accompanied by three or four hunting dogs and an older sibling or cousin carrying a bow and horn for protection or defense, depending. It was only the most fierce and wild creature that would disturb the wandering humans. To injure an infant of men was to risk provoking the wrath of an entire village. Humans were the greatest hunters that mother earth had ever delivered and woe unto any poor simple woodland predator that inflicted the slightest degree of harm towards the masters of flame. It was cooperation that gave the humans advantage over the lesser beasts. The sharing of food and shelter. But men were not always so great. Before fire they had been as scared as squirrels.
Before science explained how magic worked, humans had to think for themselves. Some magic made sick people healthy. Strong soups made from ugly birds or green squishy stuff that the village witch could pick in the forest. Some magic made strong tools. But all magic started with fire. That ethereal element gifted to man from the Sky Gods. Using fire man could shape soft clay into unbreakable pots for carrying water and cooking foods. In the beginnings of time in ages long past there were no large cities like there is today and not nearly as many people. There was a lot of forest once upon a time. In fact the whole world was mostly forest, which was a really good thing because forests have lots of fun things to do like getting lost which (no man will ever admit) is the best way to travel. As a matter of fact long ago life was quite dangerous.
A Frontier Village
One brisk spring morning frost crept across lawn and leaf. Only the bravest birds chirped brightly making a small greeting to the warm rays of light. A village slowly stirred in the early morning dawn. It seemed the sun had risen much sooner than usual eventually smoke began to billow from stone chimneys signaling the rise of men. Dogs barked out attendance at each other and chickens clucked as the day’s work began.
There were not very many villages in the world and fewer cities. A village was a special place where people helped each other. The men of Dinlan were famous throughout the Kings lands as strong and able pioneers. Border men on the edge of the dominion, etching out a living from the good fertile lands and lush forest. Lumberjacks and farmers with a strong trade in clay pots and timber; a prosperous community devoted to a simple life.
The lumber jacks ventured deep inside the old forest in search of strong timber to chop into boards for building nice houses or bridges across streams. There was so much to do but only so much sunlight. The men were strong in the morning but by sunset bellies rumbled and muscles were tired from hard work. The forest was not a safe place at night so the men would pack up their boots and axes and return home to their families in the village to eat super tell stories and sleep, safely. The women would harvest clay from the nearby river to mold and sculpt and the men would bring dry tinder to fire the huge oven necessary for transforming mud to stone. The woodsmen would eat a good breakfast of fresh cooked bread and maybe some cheese or berry jelly and swish down a hot cup of herbal tea and it was a long march along the stream to the the wooded glades of the western woods. It was on this ordinary day that something had happened quite apart from the usual routine the dozen men from Dinlan village were expecting.
There was roughly a dozen men and they ranged in age from the soft and exuberant youth to their strong and bearded grandfathers. The path which led along the stream contained a rainbow variety of wild flowers and tall grass which fed upon the cool waters of the spring fed brook. The Sun had only just risen as the early morning fog was burned away the heat of dawn had awoken the drowsy bumble bees and flying bugs which whirred from flower petals and clicked away in the distant underbrush of the wild land. The small birds chirped and whistled warnings to their brethren along the wooded path as if to alert the small feathered friends that humans were on the march. Carrying sharp axes and all manner of metal tools which clinked and rattled against each other to create a cacophony of sound the creatures of the woods found alarming. Not before long the men arrived at camp. The small trail ended at a clearing deep inside the forest where men had built a hunting lodge from the large trees to serve as shelter from weather. The building was large yet cozy with a crooked stone chimney and moss covered roof. The path led straight to the front porch of the lodge and on either side were smaller buildings a stinky smoke shack to cure and preserve meat as well as create strong leather straps for rope and clothing. There was a shed for the green wood and even a chicken coop. The camp had stables where two donkeys brayed at one another and a small door in an earthen embankment served as root cellar to keep the potatoes and carrots from the garden behind the lodge. The last of the buildings was a tool shop where the men could sharpen axes and knives and make loud noises away from the rest of camp.
The men ascended the short stairs to the lodge and opened the doors to light the small stove and set down their satchels and begin preparing for the days work. A few of the foresters strung bow strings and feathered arrows for hunting, while another spit on stone to begin grinding the coarse heavy metal of Axe, sharpening the edge to bite. The boss was a large middle aged man with dark features. He had been a fighter and had tussled in the streets as brawler in his youth. He had retired to the frontier when his wife was with child. Some twenty summers past and five children later he had made a good life in the quiet village away from the busy capital city. He was smart and strong and fair. Qualities admired by simple people. His beautiful wife had hair as gold as the leaves in frost and her slender features had born by five children three girls and two boys by her good husband. The eldest a daughter as her mother but strong like her father. She hunted the woods with the men as did her youngest brother. The other two daughters worked the wheel, making fine dishes to be sold in strange lands for good grain and spice. The oldest boy worked the wood as his father. His arm as strong as any in the frontier and his eye as sharp as his wit. Everything was a joke worthy of a laugh.The boss rose from the table to speak in a loud voice. “We did good the last few days, Trentis and Mastak reported seeing beast spores and everyone needs to be alert out there. We all came to work and we all go home. Watch out for the guy beside you and lets get it done” The crew rose to begin the days work when there came a knock at the thick doors to the lodge that rattled the wood frames and sent dust falling from the timber beams of the ceiling. Everyone jumped and flinched away from the near explosive noise of that knock. Three earth shattering knocks followed the first in a wave of sound unprecedented in the history of the work camp. The fact that no one had ever knocked on the lodge door had caught the men of Dinlan off guard. The boss reached for his Axe and waving his arm motioned the men away from the door. The boss hefted his Axe to his shoulder and bravely lifted the latch on the oak doors and swung it outside on its well greased hinges. There was nothing to see and no one stood on the porch. The wind stirred the tin chimes which played a random tinkling of sound. The boss stepped on to the porch with confidence and swept his gaze along the buildings surrounding the lodge across the front lawn and tall grass to the trail leading towards the forest and there standing across the trail was a tall figure. The rest of the crew crowded behind the boss to gawk at the robed figure which stood at some distance. Planted beside the figure was a tall pine pole carrying a banner which snapped in the breeze. A white flag with a large black ring. The entire scene was quite imposing and unfamiliar to the simple villagers. Only the Boss, himself a foreigner in the frontier had seen a banner and knew what it represented. A flag was more than a simple rag hanging from a stick. It was a symbol of power, Only kings and prophets had banners. Army’s carried them into war. The Boss knew that the robed figure was not an ordinary traveler. His middle son whispered to his father. “What is it father?”“quiet boy, get inside the lodge and stay there.” The boss turned around and addressed his crew. “ Everyone get inside the lodge. I will speak with the stranger.” And without waiting turned on his heel and strode down the path towards the tall and misshapen figure.The boss stopped at a respectable distance. “Who are you stranger? Speak and be heard”The figure moved its head slowly to look at the banner and then replied in choked words through thick accent barely making sense. Speaking to the banner and not facing the boss. "The Circle admires the dawning age of men. Were it not for the great advances of a few the many would suffer on toiling the hard earth with stone and antler. Your village sleeps under the shadow of the great mountains. This lush valley, a gift from the Gods and Lumines to the long monkeys. ...Prophecy.The circle has been unbroken before the life giving Sun burst into flame. We were old before the Moon rose in the sky and made itself to glow............ Our Name Troglodyte. Our Queen hungers for you. A promise made a pact an Oath, will you listen?
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King Makers
There was certainly more to worry about. Sometimes a big village would put build a really big castle and put a strong Chief in charge of keeping all the sheep safe from wolves and so no one got confused they would make the Chief wear a big shiny hat called a crown. But not even a King could keep everyone safe all the time. The King had a big job as there were many wild creatures that lived there (in the woods) some gentle some not so gentle. Some animals were nice and people made very good friends with furry dogs and purring kitty cats. These animals were special and would protect people from all kinds of mean and savage bears, wolves and rats and bats and snakes.
The forefathers of the village had made due with simple stone tools but with the expansion of the Kingdom and under the supervision of the kings thinkers the mountains were drilled to harvest the secrets of bronze. Much stronger than any flint tool, the ore could be put to fire and melted fashioned into Axe blades which did not lose their edge and saw blades with teeth that did not break. The great inventions of the Librium did not stop at hand tools. The white beards polished glass to gaze upon the endless night skies and predict the winter snow. The king dispatched the white bearded apprentices to all his loyal townships and built for them stone circles to gather students for his cause. The plight of men could be solved by learning the secrets of the Gods. His goal was to collect the lost knowledge of all his people into one great device. Medicine and potions were developed as well as agriculture. New foods, giant gourds and nourishments of all kinds. The Librium were the priests of science and wandered the kingdom under the kings guard and accompanied by prospectors and census takers, men and women of words.

The villages of men were prosperous and under the guidance of the great leader had made itself an Empire of sprawling communities beside lakes and rivers. But the King knew that stone could crumble and waves could erase the great footprints of his children. So every spring the Heralds would dispatch messages to the chieftains of the tribes of men. Braving the wilderness between the lake colonies and navigate the dangerous paths and trails that tied the delicate threads of communications. The heralds would arrive in the quaint villages dressed and emblazoned with the image of a Crown upon their riding cloaks and would make a line for the chieftains home which depending upon the location was usually a massive lodge built from large trees and adorned with trophies of great hunts and stones or religious importance. To these places the heralds would kneel before the Chief and remove the clay tablets from leather bags and read the wishes of the One King to these Lords of forest and stream.
"One ounce of copper for every youth that will work the forges of the kings mines. The King asks for warriors and will shroud his soldiers in metal, they will drink the blood of our Enemies and absorb the strength of the star fields. The chieftains were loath to part with their most precious commodity; their strongest children were stolen by the King for his grand design. They had the wisdom to know that outright defiance of the Law would result in a fastidious replacement of leadership and many chieftains themselves had perished to defy their Lord. The Kings soldiers were clad in shining copper which could deflect a stone arrow. The King was wealthy beyond all measure and made invincible by his hordes of battle seasoned warriors. The King was immortal they whispered. No single settlement could withstand his fury and many scorched places hinted at rebellion. But the Heralds never spoke of the Kings ire. Only that his wishes be carried out and what little negotiation took place was often a whimpering supplication. No one but the Great King knew how many villages he controlled. Each spoke a different language and few shared more than similar skin or hair. Parchment and ink, symbols and words were jealously guarded by the Librium. The white beards kept census and tax. Occasionally the immortal King would don his armor and serve battle.
The king was cursed with immortality although he looked almost sixty summers he had lived well over eight hundred. Villagers would travel days to petition his help. He would listen to his people cry tears of sadness that their houses had been burned down by evil monsters with horns and claws. He had a long Grey beard and pulled on the wiry bushy growth whenever he got angry. When the villagers finished their tale of woe the King had become quite cross. "Who are these beasts that would ravage my lands and steal from my people? Where are my brave soldiers to defend the northern colonies of my kingdom? The Kings chamberlain had been standing beside the throne and leaned over to whisper in the Kings ear. The king exploded from his gilded seat. " Stretched thin? Impossible! I have the greatest assemblage of armored warriors in all the lands of man. My armies are feared by all the lesser kings! The chamberlain was used to the Kings petulant fits of rage and had hardly flinched when the king drew out his sword and began thrusting it in the air. " Not even the Mad Sultan would dare steal a chicken from my kitchen!" By now the king had become winded and started coughing. He dropped his sword and fell back in his throne gasping to catch his breath. The chamberlain again leaned over and whispered to the King as a servant handed his majesty a goblet of wine. The red drink spilled down the Kings beard as he gulped down the soothing beverage. The king wiped his mouth and smacked his lips. He nodded and raised his eyebrows."What of my long arm? Does the North not have a militia and what of Lord Dore? Can he not muster the force necessary to deal with these matters? One of the villagers replied "Lord Dore has most his troops garrisoned at the mine and quarry and not a spear to spare us lowly farmers." The chamberlain nodded his head as though understanding. "Your majesty foresaw these events and has accounted for this contingency should his capital interests become threatened. We must stomp upon the spark of this flame before the fire consumes us. The Kings guard cannot protect these villages we require a permanent solution. Will his majesty call upon the warlords? Speak to them! Ask them for help!" The king had been trying to catch his breath when the chamberlain was finished his plea the Kings face changed to incredulity " Out of the question! I will not beg my enemies! They would sooner poison my wine than lend me a sword. Out of the question Chamberlain! You cannot honestly expect them to help and don't make that face at me I don't like it one bit sir." The chamberlain had worn an expression of obvious frustration."My Lord, send your heralds to your vassals. They have many strong sons. We can negotiate this problem, surely the wild lands plague the warlords. Summon the chieftains to your side and see if they cannot provide some assistance." The chamberlain finished and began to wring his hands nervously. The King seemed to ponder this new point and grunted in thought."Very well Chamberlain you have exhausted my temper enough for one day. Dispatch the Heralds with summons. Bring me the nobles." The Chamberlain bowed low and backing away from the king slowly descended the raised dais of the throne and once upon the court floor properly he bowed again and turned to the crowd of peasants. "The King has heard his petitions! Return to your homes or claim refuge within the high walls. You have been heard" The crowd of peasants had been penned by a row of Royal guards carrying spears and with a nod from the Chamberlain the captain wearing a red plumed helmet shouted an order. The guards opened the large twin doors at the entrance of the court and the peasant turned and left briskly as the guards saluted the King who rose from his throne and exited the court from to his private chambers with a small escort of personal body guards.
The great King rode his largest horse with his longest spear and sharpest sword and ride as fast and as hard as he could from the gates of his castle to the country side where the villagers had been attacked. He would see the dead animals in the fields the half eaten sheep and burnt down barns and follow the trail to the monsters lair. Following clues was easy with stupid clumsy Troglodyte. Their enormous feet and unclipped toenails made for easy tracking. He would ride his white horse across rivers and streams through fog and rain even sleep under trees and eat cold bread and cheese no matter how long it took he would chase the monsters all the way and exact cold justice. Most Troglodytes lived in caves. They were born a long time before men before the sun when only stars and darkness lit the world. They carved deep caverns in the stone and slept while the light bathed the earth. The king knew that Troglodytes were grumpy during the day because it was too bright for them to see. Blinded by day the king could easily fight an entire nest of Troglodyte. He followed the trail of sheep entrails and ravaged vegetation from his peoples village. He followed that trail for three days until the evening of the third night he could hear war drums muffled and distant. The land had changed from flat fields and lush wheat to scraggy rocks and hills of cypress and boulder. The king couldn't remember having ever traveled so far from his castle. He was a little scared now that the sun had descended from the sky and the rain made his armor stiff and rusty. He dint feel nearly as brave as he had three days earlier. He was tired and sore and a little hungry. He looked to his horse and gave him the last ration of oats. The king reached into his saddle bags and produced and ate his only sausage. He would need his strength to fight a war party of Troglodyte. He knew if he could hear the Troglodytes they could smell him. Troglodyte had enormous noses and could smell food a mile away. The king knew that Troglodyte preferred the flesh of man to sheep. He also knew they were lazy and cowardly. A war party of Troglodyte might snatch a wandering child or lost youth but even a dozen Trog would hesitate to confront an armed warrior in open combat during day. The cost of battle was too great to the tribe. The king patted his horse and secured his harness to a strong tree. He would miss his mount in the battle but the three day ride would become a hopeless journey if his horse were killed and the King himself injured. No, he would leave his horse here at camp and move to attack the Troglodyte at dawn after they had fallen asleep. The rain stopped halfway through the night and the sheep's screams eventually stopped as well. But the war drums continued throughout the long night until the moon descended from the sky and the stars faded to the oncoming dawn. The king had not slept at all. To scared and excited to risk losing his quarry or being eaten in his sleep. He was careful not to rush his work. He went over his gear. the sharp bronze blade on his lance and the leather straps on his shield. He removed the peace knot from his scabbard. The king reached for his wine flask and took a deep pull from the warm bitter drink. He stood up and took several deep breaths before praying for the souls of the lost children. He cinched the chin strap on his red plumed helmet. He was a fierce sight as though the polished stones of the mountain had arisen from the gold laced riverbed to avenge. His suit of armor was fit for the Prince of men. Red gems and silver embroidery marked the sharp ridges and angles of his breastplate. His leather skirt hung to his feet which hid his intentions in combat. The golden dawn shone down and radiated beams of light in an intentional act of distraction woven into the the suit by its maker. To the nocturnal beast and enemies of man the King would appear as divinity itself. As though the brightest moon they dare not face had set foot upon the earth to menace and harm the ancient villainy.

The King reached to his feet stretching his cramped muscles for the coming battle. There he tightened his boots until his feet felt cramped by the bronze rivets. When he unbent his back he felt ready. There was no one more prepared to face threat. It was his duty and he was born to it. His father had fought these beasts with nothing more than a sharpened stick. He could feel his dead ancestors encouraging him. He crept past the shrubbery of the rocky crest to the mountains edge. From the vantage he could see the al the signs of a Trog Hive. Thick leather hides stained with blood and feces. But only a trained eye could look beyond the horror of nearly a acre of bleached bones. To be sure it was hard to miss. The sound of a thousand birds feeding on the carcasses. The wind blew a light breeze towards the Knight and catching a breath he felt his guts roll and he choked on the foul stench of ruin that the wind had bestowed. He rolled on his back and saw the sky black with crow. His resolve had weakened considerably. The courage he had felt began to ebb. This was not as his Tutor had told him he had seen no such thing in eight centuries of life. He had never been warned of this. No story matched this. They had said the Troglodytes hunger for flesh. The Troglodytes took life. Their Queen was terrible and delighted in suffering. But looking upon the vast field of death the Knight who had seen so much felt the gnawing creeping fear take hold of him.

xoxo ,
7:16 PM