Monday, November 30, 2009

"It is said" wheezed the old man "that in my grandmother's grandmother's day, stories of the Elementals were not merely legend, they were true tales, history, passed down from one generation to the next and kept against the day that they would be needed again. It was told then that there was a time when the world was young and the kingdom of the Elementals had some commerce with the kingdom of Men. Though it was not very common that the two races would intermingle, there was great respect between the two and peace existed between them. While Men farmed and plotted and loved and warred with one another, the Elemental races remained removed from their entanglements and tended to their own affairs, whatever those might have been. They divided themselves into four concerns; Earth, Air, Water and Fire, each a separate and unique dynasty with its own internal affairs. Though Men took them as a whole, the Elementals saw themselves as distinct and in the end that was perhaps their undoing.

It is told that one day a prince of the Dynasty of Air was wandering the borders of his concern and happened upon a maiden of the Dynasty of Water. The prince was struck with the maiden's beauty as she danced, for dancing she was, unaware that any eyes were watching her watery sport. It was only his sigh, the briefest stirring of her watery skirts, that gave his presence away. She spun to meet him, drawing her full strength to her and, listener, she was very powerful. She was no simple maiden, this slender, dancing sprite. She was a princess herself, and the first daughter of the most powerful ruler of the Dynasty of Water. But as the prince revealed himself to her she found her anger slipping away for he was fair to behold and it became clear to her that his observation had had no malicious intent. He stepped out upon the water to meet her and took her in his arms. From that moment forward they could not be parted.
The four Dynastys of the Elementals were enraged. That the boundaries of politics, law and society should be thus crossed was an outrage. Courts in all four Dynastys were scandalized; this was the height of indecency. The Dynasty of Water sought to contain its wayward princess in the deeps, far away from the questing Air. The Dynasty of Air cried that their prince had been bewitched and sought to imprison him in a desert whirlwind, far from any hint of Water. But the two young lovers could not be kept apart for not only were they young and beautiful but they were strong and resourceful. And so they ran and they hid among the Kingdom of Men, far from the war that they had unwittingly begun amongst the four Dynastys.
It is told that one night, a year to the day after they first beheld one another, a child was born of their union. But this child was no ordinary child and she came forth in pain, the only one of her kind, a hybrid of air and water, and her birth wreaked destruction and woe upon the Kingdom of Men. With her first cries, winds came howling down the hills, pinning saplings to the ground and driving crops and livestock both before it like so much debris. Men who had been coming home late from their fields never saw home again. Splinters were driven through walls; roofs were ripped off houses. But there was more to come. With the new child's first tears, torrents of rain poured down from the shattered heavens. Levees overflowed, rivers and lakes outstripped their bounds and entire towns were drowned in the floods that rose that night. Men sought shelter where they could; in caves high in the mountains, huddling behind tall rocks, cringing from each lighting flash like animals. The storm lasted for two days and when it finally cleared away, few of the Kingdom of Men were left to see it go.

Men cried bitterly for their dead and vowed vengeance upon the Kingdom of the Elementals. Centuries of peace disintegrated like dust. The Elementals came to the Kingdom of Men, bearing the bodies of their dead children, the prince and princess whose love had riven two kingdoms asunder. They also had died in the calamitous birth of their daughter. But it was not enough to appease the Kingdom of Men. And so the two Kingdoms were declared to be at war. Of the storm-cursed child there was no sign.

It is told that the Kingdom of the Elementals, sick at heart and torn with internal strife, faded from Men's eye. Though Men sought revenge, Elementals could not be found upon which to exact it. And so they passed into myth, legend and lore. But in my grandmother's grandmother's time it was rumored that the child who birthed that storm was not lost in it but survived and lives to this day."

The old man coughed and this time could not stop until his eyes were watery and his chest heaving.



One response to “Elementals”
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Inno said...

Another excellent tale! Bravo.
~stabbie stabbie~

November 30, 2009 at 3:51 PM

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