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Of Heroes and Love

Let's enjoy this night and forget the routine for once!

''Damned cork!''
One should not look at Ikaharin's written tradition to enjoy its storytelling, for this is a land where words and songs are deemed more beautiful than inscriptions and texts. Thus one should seek an ambaliori, a half-actor half-storyteller who knows how to perform countless stories from memory.   Now that the context has been laid out, would you like to embody a villager who spends the night listening to the tales of an ambaliori?

A break from routine

''Why do the hardest tasks always seem to be placed in the worst fucking season?''
After an exhausting day of stripping cork in the blistering heat, you feel drained of all energy. Wanting to cool down and relax, you take it easy and go spend the rest of the afternoon on the stream instead of going back to town. The water feels so nice, so cold, that several hours fly by without you even noticing.
''I wonder if the other birds envy the parrots' colours...''
Your elevated train of thought is abruptly interrupted by one of your friends, who had come there to bring you some great news:
''Hey, you won't imagine what happened while you were here in the water! An ambaliori came to the village and, even better, he has agreed to act for us tonight. So put something on and come with me!''
Half reluctantly, you obey and follow your pal, the Setting Sun somewhat drying your bare chest. As you walk back to town chattering with your mate, it doesn't take long for the sounds of the forest to be drowned by those of music and feasting. Though you think it was rude of them to get the party started without everyone present, you're at least glad the storytelling hasn't begun yet.

Nol and the Mountain-Eater

''Be silent,
Hosts of mine
Be silent,
Trees and birds
Be silent,
Fish and wind
Be silent,
And listen''
After letting all feast and drink for a fair while, the ambaliori, sat in front of what may be the largest bonfire you've ever seen, calls everyone to gather round and stop partying. As excited as a child, you run towards him and take what you deem the best spot.   Eventually, the other villagers follow your example, and soon enough all 80 of you are sat in absolute silence waiting for the teller to start his show. But it wouldn't be a proper session if there was no gourd being passed, and thus your turn eventually arrives. Your sip may have been too large, or at least that's what the stares of those around you would suggest, but you don't care. You have done this enough times to know how much is necessary to get on the mood.   The silence is broken when the old man's drum starts beating and his syrinx blowing, the melody taking you into the world of the stories. He then starts talking, yet the sound of the pipes doesn't stop:
''People of the land
Ask yourselves
This question
Though only this one
Why is this land flat?
While all others
All under Heaven
Are full of hills
The answer is one
Only one
It's 'cause of
The Mountain-Eater
That great beast
The Dreaded One
Which He slayed
After uttering that last word, the flame somehow becomes green, the melody changes entirely and the ambaliori leaps from his seat to start dancing around the fire.
''Long before Man and his cities he roamed
He went from valley to valley
Eating every mountain and hill he found
He went from forest to forest
Eating every sapling and rock he found
Created by the hands of Itsarau
He dwarfed all things with a spirit
Being so great as to not see
All the life he slaughtered freely
All the countless lives that paid for his might
So mighty he was that none dared fight him
None dared even for a second to think of it
None dared think 'bout it 'til
The great Nol was angered
Nol the fiery stork
Soon after he slayed Nol's sister he roamed
He went from valley to valley
Searching tirelessly for the Great Beast
He went from forest to forest
Searching under the Sun and the Moon's gaze
His hunt was tragically met with failure
For years he roamed yet nothing saw
Until Celain for Nol wept
The Great Lord of the Woods thus helped
Him find the faller of his dearest one
Mountain-Eater will soon be on Narul
By the river to swallow it whole and grow tall
Taller than the heavens
The heavens where the Hol
Where they pour the rain
The Feathered One thus blazed through the forest
Like lightning through the skies above
In the runner's mind nothing other that
The need to reach the great Narul
And finally put an end to his bane
In his race he made sadly one mistake
Only one which he would pay dear
When running in Kuwarpalin
A great bridge he found 'neath the trees
A great bridge which he crossed so thoughtlessly
A most severe curse from me you have earnt
Uttered the spirit from the river down below
You will forever be
Nothing but a stray one
Ne'er finding your goals''
By this point you are completely entranced, deeply submerged in the old teller's impressive world of tales and songs. Even if you barely notice the ambaliori taking two random villagers off the crowd to join him in the dance, you are amazed at how well they knew how to perform, doing it seemingly perfectly despite the sudden change in melody.
''Lost and weary Nol the Red wandered crying and cursing
Cursing the bleak tragedy that upon him had fallen
And never seeing or even hearing his foe
For not even the gods that for him wept could undo it
For not even the Horned Master could defy Nature's plan
Lost and weary Nol the Sad wandered the land 'til
'Til to him a high truth came to enlighten him
If I am cursed to forever chase and ne'er reach my goals
Then all I have to do is seek different goals
Then all that will be left will be to fight and win
Thus for many years he tried to obtain another dream
'Dream which would let him duel his truest foe
He strived and toiled and walked for weeks on end
Even thinking for once his plans would fail
Even thinking for once his heart could never have more goals
He was however proven wrong one rainy day in Kan
Kan the earthly abode of the Masters of Land and Sea
For 'twas then and there he met his only rival
Instants before swallowing the sacred mountain wholly
Instants before submerging once again into the fog
As brave as Nol was all knew fully he was doomed
Doomed to perish should he fight without any help
I summon you all to fight the dreaded beast and gain fame
Yelled like a thunder from above the Horned One's voice
Yelled like the roaring sea the voices of countless
Thus millions rallied behind the banner of Nol the Brave
Brave whose example lead great multitudes
Thus he wept of pride and great ecstasy
Surrounded Mountain-Eater found himself
Surrounded and with no way to exit''
Thrilled and excited beyond reason, your emotions turn to fear as a mysterious figure clad in black enters the scene from who-knows-where, the flames giving the scene a green and unsettling hue. This entity is then fought by the dancers and the ambaliori, who somehow still manages to beat the drum, sing and blow the flute.
''Let's now take down this ghoulish beast with us
Could be heard from Tau to Alrei
Let's bury it deep so it cannot rise
Was heard in the Heavens
Even by Itsarau his great maker
Cease your attempts to kill with arm and might
Was said by the Great Stargazer
Cease or else I will burn you all
Was heard by the angry crowd
Even by Nol the Bird
The command only served to all greatly enrage
For not even the Father of All Gods
Not even he and his prowess
Not even his powers
Could the rage stop
Lances and torches antlers and omens
Were used by spirits and mortals
Thunder and lightning comet and great woe
Were used against them all
Even 'gainst Nol the Master of Fire
He wished not to live and thus he died not
Becoming to all things immune
He wished to lose and thus he won
Crushing all opponents he faced
All 'till he reached his foe
After touching Mountain-Eater he all forgot
He forgot how to control his wishes
And thus Nol the Stork was beaten
Yet he desired death
So he still lived
Let us do for him what he did for us
Could be heard from Ial to Yral
Let us bury the monster forever
Was said by the great lords
Who then mountains and islands threw at him
The beast was soon drowned under the stone tide
His father unable to help
Sor was soon being crushed by Nol
His dear son unable to help
For his siblings hid him
With a stroke of his beak the Gazer had to flee
Back to his starry home and far from Earth
And thus all pressed against the ground
To tightly tie the beast
So he'd be trapped''
As those last verses are sung, the mysterious figure is kicked out of the stage that has formed around the fire, none of the spectators daring to interact with it as it leaves. And then the tone becomes much less tense and the flames die down.
''Our hero was not to here celebrate
For in the glee of victory
He wished to always live
In this sunny world of joy
And thus Nol to the floor fell to ne'er rise
His passing was though not all bad
For Nol could finally
With her 'gain be
And thus all thought happy he'd be
On the mound that his foe trapped he was laid to rest
That mountain called by all Ennur
That mountain that surpasses the heavens
Upon which was built a temple
Where all the people could revere him and his deeds
Above it Itsarau wept bitterly
For a stork took away his son
And the killer was far
In the Abyss of the Dead Ones
Far from his reach and far from his revenge
Meanwhile the beast's body decayed
For his bones turned to lead
His flesh marble
In the depths b'low Ennur
Far from anyone's sight or sense
All survivors divine and mortal then feasted
Drinking and partying carelessly
While discussing who among them was best
For each could boast countless merits
From the Highest Lord Celain to Mister Ni''
And thus, after reciting that last syllable, the story comes to an end and the flames start becoming orange once more, as if the spirits of the fire were leaving after coming to hear the old man's tale. However everyone knows that the night has just gotten started, and thus all remain glued to their spots.


''Of love you may have heard
For everywhere you look
You can find it
As all have practiced it
From peasants to great lords
Though perhaps you
My dearest ones
Haven't heard of this couple
Of Nintauol
And Nintauol
Thus now we should solve this
Thus let me please tell you
Of these lovers
Who lived in ages past
Yet are still well renowned
He Nintauol
She Nintauol
Swore in the name of En
To each other
Forever praise''
You may or may not have drunk too much from the gourd, for you have no recollection of what happened for what may have been several hours. However, you become fully aware at exactly the right moment, for the ambaliori is preparing to start another tale.
''Oh poor the Nintauol who roamed the land
Gathering reeds from the Black River's banks
The land so good yet he so poor
Sleeping under a tree and eating shrimp
Gazing at the sky for entertainment
Oh great the Nintauol who in a palace dwelt
Having five dozen servants to her needs fulfill
All of her slaves so poor yet she so good
Sleeping on perfumed cotton sheets and drinking wine
Gazing at the finest art for entertainment
These two shared nothing but the name
Yet they would soon find each other
For it was Nature's design
To see them for ever as one
To see them united by love
A procession was thus one day arranged
Which nobody on the land would dare miss
For it was in the name of En
To worship both him and his countless deeds
To feast from his seed and drink from his wine
She jolly'n happy to be there feasting
He jolly'n happy to be there seeing
The high day was by all enjoyed
'Til mischievous parrots the lass' mat stole
The noble one being greatly shaken
Her distress I can't end for my mat is but rags
And what would be of her were she to sit on it
Cried the man o'er Iotsarei's holy mound
His problem so unique the god within solved it
Turning his mat into the finest thing woven
Nintauol thus ran full of glee
To her distress put a quick end
And the parrots' deed undo
Filling the noble's soul with joy
Earning Nintauol's affection
For my pleasure magic you have performed
Thus your position I shall elevate
So come with me to my palace
Leaving behind the reeds of the river
Sleeping on proper sheets under my roof
Happily serving was always at the maiden's request
Enjoying both the elevated position
And the affection of his gentle Nintauol
Nintauol who always kept him right by her side
Nintauol who over the months of him grew greatly fond
Of this respect he was not undeserving though
For his deeds were divinely inspired
As Nikari had too grown fond of him
Nintauol the reed man whose words were high
Nintauol the low man whose words made a god act''
Mesmerized by the narrative and the sweet melody, the fact you are no longer that high doesn't take away any of your interest in the performance. This interest peaks after the man in the odd garbs lits a purple torch and changes the tune to something more... soothing.
''Wake up oh you most beautiful of Nature's gifts
Wake up for me to gaze at your glory
Wake up for you outshine even great Itsarau
Your eyes of jade the envy of the stars
Your legs of oak the envy of Celain's deer
Give me oh please I beg you Dearest One
Give me your attention and care
Give me that which to all has been denied
Give me your love for just this day
Give me your body for just this instant
Let us then each other make company
Let us for once ignore that I serve you
Let us thus enjoy each other's pleasures
Let us dance on your cotton sheets
Let us use that which we have been given
Dance En's most lovely creation with me today
Dance Nature's highest gift with me this once
Dance as the Ones Above do in their hidden joy
As they do in the banks of the Nallan
As they do to celebrate each other's glory''
Always a fan of romantic poetry, and never one to shun erotic verses, you are more than intrigued to see what is recited next. Perhaps it can topple that most delightful tale you heard back then at the next village by the river... Oh, how much you loved it and for how many years you'll remember it!
''Your words truly divine must have been sung by Ki Atur
For in me countless things have awoken
Things of pure love and bliss
Which beg me to on you do countless acts
Countless acts which truly would never be once forgotten
The urge is too strong to be ignored or silenced
Thus I shall dance and freely give to you
Thus we shall feast among my sheets
Thus I shall receive that which is for me
And give you in reward that which you have made yours
With those fine words expressed and the wills shown
The couple in the acts of love engaged
So beautifully they seemed like Nin and Hai
Under the shade of the old redwood tree
Under the gaze of the Most Merciful
Under his loving gaze they too were then
For En the Thrice Praised was keenly intrigued
So much so that from the shadow he came
Ready to with the loving couple dance
As he had done from Allur to Suwan
Thus he ensured the pleasure of all the lovers
Taking control of Nintauol the high
Taking control of the marsh man
Taking control of all in that great dance
Feeling the movements as if he had a body
For eight days and nights they all danced among the perfumed sheets
None daring to stop the divine affair
Even if he was low
Too low to even gaze at her glory
Yet he did that and oh so much much more than that with her''
After reciting those last words, that mysterious fellow who so graciously offered to lighten up the night for you all extinguished the purple flame, jumped and yelled a guttural syllable. All that before changing the melody again, this time to something much more neutral
''But this dance was not to more than ten minus two days last
Thus at the break of the ninth it ended
And the magic to an end it did come
Thus Pious Lord En hidden 'gain became
But the bond there woven was never to be 'gain broken
A bond made supreme by the birth of a new soul
A new soul who would become he
He who has legends devoted
Devoted to him Andauol
Andauol the builder and destroyer of towns
As to the fate of Nintauol and Nintauol
They lived in happiness and mirth
The low one equal to the high
They were after all by En praised
As such none could even think of opposing them
Finally En the Thrice Praised revelled in his feat's glory
Glory he found in the lovers' fine art
Fine art in which he would partake again
Again winter and summer day and night
Nights that were oh so so beautiful to behold indeed''
After wrapping up the story and reciting those last words, the session comes to an end. After all, telling tales around a fire is kind of weird when the Sun is shining all around you and you aren't even a little bit under the influence. Thus everyone starts bidding their farewells and leaving for their homes, hoping to sleep at least a few hours before they have to work.   As to the ambaliori, you see him take the, rather humble, road exiting the village with his meager belongings gathered inside a blanket just before drawing the curtains of your room and falling asleep on the mat.

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Master Evanarix
Evan Arix Carbajal
9 Jun, 2021 05:45

You're a Master of immersive worldbuilding, Yna. Excellent article and great myths <3

11 Jun, 2021 16:51

Glad you could feel yourself embodying an ikaharinese peasant! *that goes to the list of sentences I never thought I would say*

Ynar wishes you a nice day!