The Palace of the Gods – Part II

A Tale of the Fieries

In most directions, the sandy wastelands of the Iki desert are an endless horizon of stone columns. Once lost among the windworn pillars, a traveller would be completely disoriented except for the occasional glimpses of the mighty Corn Wall to the north. Sages have postulated this landmark is key to how the itinerate fieries navigate their scabrous home.

The gods used the humans to steal the ruby of the lights giants. They were pleased with their new treasure and placed it high in the roof of their palace. The gods had also commanded the dwarfs to climb down to the earthworld to claim the diamond of the dark giants. After a long battle, the dwarfs were victorious. They captured the last three surviving dark giants and dragged them to the palace of the gods.

But the ruby was made of fire and burnt so brightly that the roof and beautiful carvings on the pillars burnt to ash. The ash fell to the floor of the palace and created the vast desert, and only the rough stone of the pillars remained.

The fieries quickly climbed the pillars and placed the diamond next to the ruby. The cold glow of the diamond calmed the brilliant fire of the ruby before it could destroy the entire palace.

With the palace roof gone, the light giants could see their stolen gem from the skyworld. The gods teased the light giants, telling them they could take the ruby back if they could reach it. The giants roared with fury and reached out to take it. But try as they might, they could not reach their gem.

The gods laughed and taunted the dark giants, telling them they would return the diamond if they climbed up and took it back themselves. The dark giants stood and attempted to climb the pillars. But the gods bound the giants’ arms and they were forced to grip the pillar with their teeth. The first got halfway up and fell. The second got near the top and fell. The third reached the top, but fell as it reached out for the diamond. It landed on its head and died. And the gods laughed.

But the light giants saw too and their fury grew when they saw how their cousin had been slain so cruelly. They jumped up and down and the worlds shook with their anger. The gods laughed to see the giants so enraged, but the giants jumped from skyworld and fought the gods.

The gods commanded all the races to fight for them, but the battle lasted weeks and many were killed. Neither side gained ground and the fighting spread south, east and west. Gods and giants trampled the high walls in all those directions, only the mountains in the north remained standing.

So the fieries took the other races to the safety of the lawns and orchards. Then they freed the last two dark giants and commanded the dwarfs help bury their fallen comrade.

The dwarfs agreed and the dark giants carried their fallen cousin to the mountains in the north. There the dwarfs built them a fine tomb. The giants were pleased, they forgave the dwarfs and granted them the earthworld. Then the giants grabbed the edges of the world and pulled them together, so the races could travel freely between the worlds.

The fieries also returned the stolen gems to the dark giants. The giants were grateful and left to help the light giants fight the gods. The first travelled east with the diamond, the second travelled west with the ruby. But dark giants are used to cold and the first giant couldn’t carry the fire ruby for long. It cried out in pain and threw the gem to the second giant. And the second giant threw the diamond, so the first could cool its hands.

And every day one giant giants throws the fire ruby, which makes the day. And the other giant catches it and throws the ice diamond, which makes the night. So the fieries only travel when the giants are resting, to honour their fallen cousins. And as long as fieries do this, the dark giants will always call the darkness to help their old allies.

The Palace of the Gods – Part I

A Tale of the Fieries

In my homeland, we associate light with good and dark with evil. Not all races share the same view. We might assume the dwarfs, living in the darkness, eschew the light. But we know little of the deepdown folk, even after millenia of trade.

It is the wandering fieries of the Iki desert who treat darkness as an ally, their sun-scorched sand only passable in the twilight realm between night and day. Their home lies far to the south of the Corn Wall. Like the elfen territory, it marks another impenetrable border to our lands. Iki means abandoned, and the desert is an eerie landscape of shallow trenches and towering limestone columns.

The world was not always as it is now. There was the skyworld and there was the earthworld. The gods built their home where the worlds met. It was a magnificent palace. Its roof was on great pillars which stretched into the sky. Great rolling grass steppes served as the gods’ lawn. And it was surrounded on every side by walls of high mountains.

The gods needed servants to take care of their palace. They created the fierie and gave them intelligence, so they might serve the gods directly. They created the orcs and gave them compassion, so they might care for their flocks and their hunting game. And they created the elfs and gave them patience, that they might tend their gardens and their orchards.

The gods were content for a time, but they grew jealous of the other worlds. These were the lands of the giants, who owned precious jewels. The fiery light giants of the skyworld owned a marvellous red ruby and the stony dark giants of the earthworld possessed a brilliant white diamond. The gods coveted these gems and desired to own them, to decorate their palace.

So the gods created the dwarfs, and made them strong and industrious. The dwarfs climbed down into the earthworld to seize the diamond of the dark giants. But the dark giants spotted the dwarfs and fought them. The battle raged for many days and neither side wearied or gave ground.

The gods grew impatient with the battle. They created the men, and made them tall and clever. The men climbed to the skyworld of the light giants to steal their flaming ruby. The light giants spotted the men, but the men tricked the light giants and returned triumphantly with their precious stone.

Skald and the Sea

A Tale of the Men

Water may be a common theme among the myths of all folk, but none hold the sea in high regard. It is hardly surprising, we all know of the cursed, barren waters which surround our lands. Only dwarfs and men treat it with any significance, the dwarfs simply as the source of their most feared foe.

Yet it is little known that “sullied” is derived from the same ancient word as “salted”.

In the beginning, there was nothing but water. An endless ocean which washed over the horizons. Then the god Skald arose from the waters and created the world. She created the sky, so she could leave the water. She created the land, to separate the water and the sky. She created the mountains, to hold up the sky above the land. And she created the sun, so she could see her work.

The first men saw the land and followed Skald into the world, but the land was barren and they could not survive. Skald saw her followers’ suffering, she commanded them to return to the sea and bring forth the plants and the trees. The men obeyed and soon the land was filled with green.

Skald was pleased and she commanded the men to return to the sea and bring the animals. The men obeyed, but the animals were frightened and would not follow. So Skald commanded the men to build a path from the sea to the land. The men obeyed and they were able to lead the animals to the land. Skald was pleased and she disappeared into the sky and built the heavens, where she could watch her creation.

For a time, men were the only people. But soon the other races found the road and followed it from the sea to the land. First came the dwarfs, who were jealous of all the good works the men had created. The dwarfs saw the mountains and believed they were the gods who had created the world. And they built their homes within them and created great wonders to win their gods’ favour from the men.

Then came the gnomes, who were pleased to help tend the land. But they grew restless and bored with the hard toil of the men. They saw the plants and believed they had created the world. And they ran to play among the trees and worship them, hoping to win their gods’ favour from the men.

But the men knew the truth, the world was created by Skald, the sky-god. She brought forth all the good things from the ocean, so only the bad things remain. Now she watches patiently in the heavens, trusting her followers to tend the land she lovingly created for all to enjoy.

The Nothing Tree

A Tale of the Elfs

My home lies beyond the great Corn Wall, in the far north where the forests grow thick and impenetrable. There the gnomes call themselves elf. Of all their kin they remain the most isolated, hidden among trees made untameable by the magic which still runs through the world.

As with all folk, Elfen lore describes their own existence as coming before all others. Their way of life depends heavily on the forests, and it is only natural they believe all life stems from the trees which protect them.

Before there was anything, there was the Nothing Tree. From it sprang all of creation. As it put down roots, the earth was formed. As its sap flowed, the water of the world ran forth. As it grew, its branches reached upwards and the sky was born. And as it aged, time began.

The earth watched the Nothing Tree grow large and strong, and became the great mountains. The water watched the tree roots twist and turn, and became the winding rivers. The sky watched the leaves change and fall, and became the sun and all the colours of the sky. And so the Nothing Tree gave us the world.

The animals who lived in the mountains came to graze on the tree’s bark and leaves. The fish who swam in the rivers came to feast on the insects which grew fat on the tree’s sap. The birds who filled the sky came to nest in the tree’s branches. And so the Nothing Tree gave us life.

And as the Nothing Tree bloomed, it bore four apples. The first apple did not fall and became the elfs, who stayed to tend the trees. The second apple rolled away from the tree and became the gnomads, who wandered and forgot their home. The third apple fell under the branches and became the men, who tended the soil and lived on the earth. The final apple fell among the roots and became the dwarfs, who burrowed deep beneath the ground.

And so the Nothing Tree gave us everything.