The Dark Times

The Dark Times



Little is known of the dark times, little remembered and little preserved. All that remain are a few tales and a few ruins. For some the dark times remain a stone best left unturned, for who knows what might lurk beneath? For others, though, like Fimon, tale-maker of renown, it was a simpler time when the Ell were new-born and travelled their virgin world in wonder.

Fimon brought together many stories of bygone days, and mostly the tales remain popular, if only for the picture they paint. Here, for the delight of all, are the tales of the war between the light of the Bright Heavens and the darkness of the Mahorelah. And most famous of all is the tale of Endril, hero of renown, and his great voyage.

It is told that Endril had been to war, a hard war fought between two princes, and as he sailed back to his homeland, to his wife and child, he was waylaid by a storm. But this storm was no accident, for it had been conjured by a powerful sorceress who lived on the far land of Lon-monus. She had seen the shade of Endril in a dark pool she used for divination, and so she had become enamoured of him. Thus, being used to having all things her way, she guided his ship to her harbour and had her servants greet him and his people fairly, inviting them all to a feast in welcome. But at the feast Endril found himself betrayed, for the sorceress had her servants take his people captive, and she herself threatened to have them all put to death if Endril would not bow to her will and stay with her. Though bitter and angry, Endril had no choice but to submit.

Endril chafed in his confinement. He desperately wanted to return to his wife and his son, but he could conceive of no way to defeat the sorceress, for she was powerful in many ways. So he came to her every night, as was her desire, and lay beside her, but only for the sake of his people, for they were held in bondage and their lives hung in his balance.

During the day it was his custom to walk the land, and on one such walk he came upon a rare flower, one he knew of but had never before encountered, the Brjasil. Fate had spoken, and he understood how he might enact his escape. That night, as he came to her, he slipped a petal, a translucent sliver, into her wine. She drank of it and fell into a dark sleep from which Endril was certain she would never awaken.

Endril freed his people from her dungeons, and they all fled her tower. With them went the servants of the sorceress, freed from their bondage also, and all fled the land of Lon-monus, vowing never to return.

But even though she was poisoned, and lay in darkness sprawled upon her bed, still she had power enough to act. Now she would curse Endril, and to that end she placed every conceivable obstacle in his way, even sending him into the jaws of the great gyre, that mysterious storm that lies at the heart of the ocean. Demons she sent after him, and monsters of the deep, but Endril survived, or outwitted, them all. Soon it became clear to him that the sorceress was behind his troubles and that he had been far too merciful. But now he was lost in the great ocean and knew not his way back to Lon-monus.

After seven long years, weary with strife, he eventually returned to Lon-monus again, and climbing her tower he found the sorceress where he had left her last, still asleep upon her bed as though utterly untouched by the passing years. He would have slain her there and then, but she was surrounded by demons, summoned to tend to her needs like dutiful servants. They flew at him, ready to tear him apart with their claws, but Endril was a cunning warrior made hard by war and strife, and he fought the demons and slew them all. Then he slew the sorceress indeed, cutting off her hands and then her head, ensuring that her power might never again return to the world. So he was free at last, free of her curse, and he could return home to his wife and son.

A tale of victory, the never-ending fight against the darkness and the rewards that come to the steadfast. But it is not always so. There are other tales that are not so pleasant, tales that warn of a greater darkness, warnings of the consequences of power and of pride. One in particular has the ring of truth to it, for it concerns the very first empire of all – that of the people of the Chanorus.

The people of the Chanorus built their towers about the first and last hill, encircling it like a wall. To them, it was said, had been given the greatest gifts of all the peoples of the world. They knew the art of summoning, they knew the art of transformation and they understood the power of divination. But they also had great pride, and they would suffer no counsel that was not theirs. No other peoples could withstand them in battle, and they either bowed their heads or fled to the far corners of the world, for the people of the Chanorus would have all things their way.

But they grew too great, believing nothing was beyond their grasp, and like all such empires theirs was doomed the moment they stepped beyond their bounds. They dared to challenge the powers of the Mahorelah, seeking to make war upon the great abyss itself, and for their temerity they were washed from the world in a great tide of death, leaving only rumour behind. So the Chanorus became a great waste, a permanent reminder that for all their gifts the Ell remained mortal and should never again trespass where it was forbidden for them to go.

It was said that with the people of the Chanorus gone, the other peoples of the world could rise up and take their place: the Iabeiorith to the north, the Korith Zadakal to the west, the Korith Ial to the south and the Korith Zinu to the east. And so it remains, the order of the world set as a bulwark against the darker powers from outside, and the reassurance that righteousness will prevail. But there still remains a sense of unease that something lies beneath everything else, unknown, abstracted, hidden. All know that it is there, but they do not seek it out. It is like an urn sealed in deep vaults against the ages, safe enough whilst the seal is intact. But dare to open it? Who knows what might be loosed upon the world.

Next – The Black War

 

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Acknowledgements ~ Sitemap