The Making of Rodensia

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Funny then, that the elves had split into three factions, the day, the night, and the old, the bearded beings into their kinds, giants and dwarves and men, and the gods alone, ensconced by lands and creatures of fire and ice.

And so, in an act utterly without imagination, the lands became thus. Alfheim for the elves of the light, Svartalfheim for the dark, Vanaheim for the old, Jotunheim for the giants, Nidavellir for the dwarves, Midgard for the men, Asgard for the gods, Niflheim for the ice lands and Muspelheim for the fire lands.

But, just as order appeared to have settled over the lands, there came whispers from the south where the great tree of Eredh grew. For in the south was another god, in secret rising to power and gathering an army. This was not a god created by Êl, but by a creature’s sheer ambitions, built of pure chaos and id. And its name…was Kevin.

The great tree named Eredh grew on a peninsula at the edge of Asgard, the home of the gods. Its great branches cast dappled shadows upon its tangled roots and the waters of the gentle stream that split its path, and were home to generations of mice and squirrels and chipmunks, and in the case of one small and furry family line, gerbils.

The magic that lived within Eredh gave to its inhabitants happy, healthy, long lives, unperturbed by the predators that would otherwise call these creatures supper. But one gerbil dreamed for more, skittering up to the tallest branches to watch the gods go about their great works on their high peak of Blademount.

Kevin the gerbil wished for power, you see. He knew not what he would do with it if he got it, but he wanted love and respect and excitement and perhaps a modicum of fear to keep things interesting. But he was just a tiny, furry little gerbil, none would fear him, not in the rodent utopia of the great tree, not when true power was so nearby in Asgard.

But as Kevin climbed the tree each day and wondered how he could touch the power of the gods, he noted a place, and what appeared to be a temple of some sort, set at the spot where the great river of the land split into a tributary that ran between the mountains and became the stream that ran around the roots of Eredh.

This was also the place where Asgard, Niflheim and Muspelheim touched, the light of the three lands fragmenting into a rainbow that arched across the sky, ending at the door of the temple.

While most rodents are cautious by nature, generations of lifetimes of rodents in the great tree of Eredh had dulled their fear, and made their tiny hearts content. Perhaps a new age had dawned, perhaps this new bravery and curiosity only dwelled in the breast of this one little creature, but Kevin found himself gripped by a desire to find out what was at the end of the rainbow. 

If he was to learn any of the secrets of the gods, that would be a likely place to begin. And so it came to pass that one foolishly brave little gerbil set off on an adventure.

He skittered along the banks of the stream, over rock and under tree, each step steeling his will to find…well, he didn’t know what he wished to find, he just wanted see. When the hawks swooped over head, he tucked himself into a fluffy little ball, and waited for the shadows to pass. When the serpents slithered near, he hopped to rocks midstream and taunted the fanged things that wished to eat him.

And at last he came to the valley between the mountains where the rainbow beamed over the tall peaks, and what had for so long seemed to be the end of his quest, the temple. But there was nothing there but rock and water, the temple little more than an angular formation of rock. He had been wrong. Kevin’s little heart sank. But only for a moment.

In an instant, the ground began to fall away and he felt a tightening around his belly. And so Kevin found himself wrested in the talons of an eagle, soaring higher and higher toward the rainbow. Kevin was a brave little gerbil, but the prospect of becoming lunch is enough to banish bravery from any creature.

So, as they rose above the rainbow, not in bravery, but instinct of gerbils long ago that the rodents of the tree had near forgotten, Kevin wiggled himself about and bit down hard.

The eagle screamed and dropped him, and Kevin knew his quest had been in vain. This was to be his end, dashed on the rocks below. But as he fell through the rainbow, something happened. His fall halted and he found himself resting on a cushion of wind. In disbelief, Kevin turned his eyes behind him to see a rainbow fluttering.

Kevin had wings. Rainbow, gossamer wings.

For the first time in the history of the world, a gerbil could fly.

The rodents that lived in the Great Tree of Eredh had never seen its like. All nibbling of nuts and berries halted when Kevin the Rainbow Flying Gerbil hovered against the sun, wings dappling the leaves and grass in a sparkling prism. His squeak boomed across the clearing, and this is what he spoke:

“Venerable fuzzy things of Eredh! I have traveled far, and seen with mine own eyes the terrors of the lands beyond the meadow. The privileged of us here know nothing of those that hunt us outside of this place. The creator made our nature meek and fearful, but although we have enjoyed shelter, our brethren in the rest of the world are still hunted for food."

"But now, I, Kevin, hath returned to you imbued with the power of the gods. A new day has dawned for rodent-kind. No more will we live small lives, hidden away from the world, safe in our tree, while our people suffer. We will reclaim this land for the small and fuzzy folk and cast down the snakes, cast down the eagles, and as I, your new deity declare, cast down the creator itself!”

His rodent kin stared at him blankly. But as they looked, their eyes began to swim in the rainbow rays thrown from his wings.

Small at first and gathering strength, a small roar of approval rippled through the crowd. ‘Interesting,’ Kevin thought. ‘That should not have been so easy.’

“This…” *flick* “is…” *fling* “too much!” roared Rínor. Êl had traveled to Blademount in Shavehalla at the request of Rínor, the ruler of Asgard because of an…uprising? Plague? Infestation? The parchment had been unclear, and Êl’s arrival at the mountaintop citadel had not clarified the situation overmuch.

For months tales had reached Êl’s ears of the harrying of snakes and the harassing of the eagles in the southern lands, of the crops of the lower gods being eaten bare and ankles being gnawed upon. With each attack there were also reports of a booming, cackling squeak echoing in the peaks and valleys of the land.

The realm in these days was a peaceful place, and thus such gleeful chaos, even on a small scale, was cause for concern. Now the horde of rodents had reached the highest peak of the kingdom of Shavehalla, and the gods were overrun by cute yet pointy small and furry things. And they were no longer subtle.

Rínor, the king himself, was currently being swarmed by dozens of the creatures, but Êl stood unmolested, marveling at the tenacity of these single-minded, easily squished rodents, eyes swimming with rainbow light.

And then, the cackling began.

Kevin the Rainbow Flying Gerbil, first of his name, rose beyond the balcony of the citadel, laughing his maniacal gerbil laugh, wings sparking in the sun.

“Rise up, rodent brethren, rise up and topple the kingdoms of men, for I am your lord now! We shall fill the lands with nuts and berries and wipe from them the creatures of the forward-facing eyes! We shall till their fields with blood and salt, and reproduce beyond all reason! We will bring down the gods and the creator, for I am your god now! Fear me! Feeeeear meeeee!”

Êl scarcely knew what to think. A frothing, delusional little rodent with rainbow wings, bent on global domination. What had this world come to.

There is only one thing to be done with pests who usurp the peace. With a few gliding strides Êl reached Kevin and the balcony, and with one fateful, well-placed flick, Kevin was off like a shot, wings useless to stop his flight back to the great tree of Eredh.

His fall was a crash heard throughout the land. Kevin’s tiny body had been imbued with the power of the gods, it is true, so while the landing was enough to knock the breath from him, he did not perish as any other creature would have.

But his impact was of such force that it cracked the living rock of the droplet of land on which Eredh grew and split it from the mainland, pushing it far southwest, away from off shores of Niflheim. This land, once a peaceful and fertile part of Asgard was known forevermore as the Isle of Rodensia.

Moments after the Rainbow Flying Gerbil and his hypnotic wings had been banished from the citadel of Blademount, the hordes of rodents swarming the halls of the gods stopped their mayhem and became still.

Êl told them that it did not fault them for their thrall, and they were now free to go as they pleased. They may explore and find homes in the greater realm of Beardsgaard, or Êl would return them to Eredh on what was now the Isle of Rodensia, still protected by the magic of the great tree. The choice lay with them.

At this, many of the mice and rats and squirrels skittered away to places unknown, but the world as it was after was proof that they did indeed explore the entirety of the realm and mingled with the hardier prey creatures there. For the nearer one travels to Asgard, the cuter and more bold the rodents become.

The Rodesians who wished to return, Êl carried with it on the winds across the water to the isle, where Kevin had still not risen, surrounded by his curious kin. Êl touched down gently upon the grass, allowing the small creatures it carried to settle in the branches of the great tree.

Êl approached the fallen Kevin, the sea of small and fluffy things parting before its step like lands split by a river. It crouched next to the Rainbow Flying Gerbil and scritched him behind the ear. Kevin’s eyes fluttered open, and he could see only light and feel only warmth. His rear leg began to kick wildly.

As Êl’s nimble finger ruffled Kevin’s ear, these are the words the creator spoke to him, under the dappled sun sparks and shadows of the great tree of Eredh.

“What’s done is done, little one. But know that the ruler of a land is first the keeper of the land, and gods exist to keep balance in the world. If one does neither of those things, one is only a child making play, and in your case, breaking your toys. What has happened this day is balance restored, for that is my task as the creator.”

“If, one day, you grow into a ruler or a god worthy of their title’s calling, cut a branch from the great tree and plant it near the eastern shore. Once it has grown for a full turning of the seasons, I will return here and see if the Isle of Rodensia might rejoin the greater Realm.”

With that, Êl was gone, and Kevin’s vision began to come back to focus. Êl’s words still rang in his ears as he tried to make sense of the events that had just transpired. And then he felt that flutter in his chest that chattered his teeth, an instinct that all rodents have at their core. He wanted to chew on something expensive.

Êl skimmed its toe along the surface of the water on the eastern shore of the Isle of Rodensia, where the bubbling stream called Spiritbrook, which sprang from the roots of the great tree of Eredh, emptied into the deep, cutting a ribbon of clear, fresh water through the sparkling cerulean of the Sunset Sea back to the coast of Shavehalla.

The uprising of Rodensia had been stopped, for now, but Kevin the Rainbow Flying Gerbil did not seem particularly penitent, or indeed even put off his mischief. But being such small creatures, Êl did not see the need to punish them too harshly, nor did it wish to prevent their kin from returning to the Isle.

Êl watched its reflection wave and bend, reminded of its first days of creation, when the world was but a surface of still glass waiting to have a world painted upon it. Now it was was filled with life, to the point that it was beginning to bubble over, at least in the rodent population.

The uprising of Rodensia was quelled with no bloodshed, but the next? Surely the lands would not be so fortunate to remain peaceful forever, for the stories Êl had once heard in the void before the making were run through with tales of conflict and war.

Êl had raised its world and creations with little interference, letting events run their course as they would. But as it walked the eastern shores of Rodensia, the worry and unrest that weighed upon its mind began to dissolve, melting like snow upon an eave, dripping away, lighter with every passing moment.

Êl’s gaze wandered from the sea to the water’s edge where reeds and grasses grew, tall and waving on the winds. But it was a small thing that caught its eye. One tiny blue flower.

Êl bent to stroke a petal with gentle fingers, and the heavy weight of the uprising of Rodensia in Êl’s mind liquified and ran away in a deluge. What was this? Certainly an item that must be brought to Angolon in his apothecary for study.

Eyes raised to trace the banks of the stream called Spiritbrook, Êl saw that they were spotted with blue, heavier as they neared the water, and denser still to the west and the great tree of Eredh. Yes, Angolon would indeed be pleased.

Flowers plucked, stems braided into a fragrant chain laid across Êl’s shoulders, once more the creator’s attention turned to the sea. Spiritbrook sprung from the roots of the great tree, and with Rodensia split asunder from the mainland of the realm, the magic the stream held kept its form even as it emptied into the sea, running across many leagues back to Shavehalla.

The rub was the direction of the current. If the rodents of Rodensia were to remain in exile, the Isle would have to be isolated. An extra trick when one of them could fly. Êl placed one of the small blue flowers on the surface of the fresh steam water, and watched with dismay as it followed the flow back toward the mainland.

But the great tree of Eredh was Êl’s first creation, and its roots ran deep. So Êl called to them in the song trees knew so well, the songs of the wind and water and earth. The tree heard its creator, and began to stretch and reach its roots through the living rock of Rodensia toward the east edge of the island.

The roots prodded and loosened the dirt in their path until they poked through to seawater. Unencumbered by slow-moving earth, the roots of Eredh grew in a rush, tangling in on themselves in underwater structures, creating eddies and currents and whirlpools in the once-calm waters.

The flow of Spiritbrook stream began to change, imperceptibly at first, the fresh water cutting through the briny sea back to the mainland, splitting at the spot where it emptied from the island into the deep. The forked stream of crystal water spread to both sides, wrapping itself around the isle.

With strong currents encouraged by the roots of Eredh, the push of splitting stream broke the flow of water from the mainland, sheltering the isle from the rest of the world. The mutinous rodent population of Rodensia would no longer threaten the realm.

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