Of a King's Rise and Fall
Let's enjoy this fine night and listen to some stories!
''I wonder what this ambaliori has in store for me...''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 an aristocrat who spends the night attending an ambaliori's performance?
''Such a beautiful cove! The Ihiai is truly the Joy of the East''.After a frankly pleasant morning stroll around your estate, drinking wine and enjoying the seaside views it offers, you retreat into your villa's comfort to escape the midday heat. If there is something bad about Ysinai in the summer that's got to be the Sun, you mutter to yourself as you rush to the building, also cursing your lineage's fondness for northern servants while you're at it.
''Laku, I fear to disturb the peace and quiet of this courtyard with my unrefined words, but the Nonnol's procession has been sighted over the horizon and will soon be here. I fear a reception is in order...''Though tempted to tell the servant to send the guests away, you ultimately resign yourself to the task and put on your finest robes and fake smiles, ready to welcome them all.
''-Abbaion is truly a master calligrapher! The characters he painted on the doors of my villa are some of the finest I've seen east of Suwan. -Quite! But those can't compare with the ones he paints for himself... One truly doesn't understand the meaning of the word until one sees his private collection. -Agreed, cousin! Perhaps he should go to Dekaibi and ask the king in person for the favour, like we did! it's not as if the word 'private' had much meaning for Iter Laku... -*cough* Though to be fair I prefer his contribution to the field of Banhan *cough* -What? -Nothing, I assure you''.Thankfully, one of your servants picks up the cue and comes to save you from the boredom of the conversation your guests are so keen on maintaining with you. After all, no respectable aristocrat would pass up the opportunity to spend half the day talking about the Annan. Only if they knew you aren't...
Harinnairin First King
''Will you, fine lords, allow this humble servant to guide you away from this room and into another? I assure you it is only so that my master may entertain you during this night''.Thus the slave leads you all down to the villa's second basement, the one below the cellar and the one
The deafening silence is broken after what seems like an eternity by an odd, booming voice, one which you'd swear comes from everywhere at once. Then, the recitation stops, drums start beating on all corners and panpipes blowing. Definitely a promising start, you think. The darkness, however, remains in place for a fair while, until a fire is lit in what you presume is the other end of the room. Though the fire is quite small, barely illuminating the ground around it, it allows you to see the ambaliori you hired. Then the veiled woman starts playing her kahillik and reciting the story, all other instruments becoming almost quiet.''Be silent,Hosts of mineBe silent,Trees and birdsBe silent,Fish and windBe silent,And listen''
After saying that god's name, the flame dies and the sounds of birds and water start to be heard. That rather soothing soundtrack is the only thing heard for a while until the maiden continues the performance, still in the dark.''Of him you may have heardHarinnairin the BlackOn whose honour canals are dugWho was the first of kingsOf the fields and rivers-Of his deeds though I doubtYou high people much knowFor he was kingBut also a farmerOf whose deeds peasants speak-Thus let us oh this solveThus let me his deeds tellThus let the high ones raise their soulsWith his story's lessonWith his virtues and flaws-Please do not your eyes closePlease do not ears ignoreMy humble wordsMy humble song and mythMy humble praise to Hun''
And then the teller's melody is sharply interrupted by a loud explosion. Shocked, the next thing you notice is a blue torch being lit, its flame being blown over the crowd and dangerously close to your face for just an instant. Unlike your guests, you're a lover of risky performances, so needless to say you are enjoying yourself. Soon after that ''incident'', the tune resumes and the tone becomes much more intense.''Long before Itsarau reigned over usLong before any mortal didLong before Man told talesIn no land there was a king satIn no land there was control of the kin-In these days there was peaceIn these days all lived carelesslyNo war being waged in land or waterNo great sin going unpunishedNo thing out of order-It was then that Kir to the river wentHowever there he fellAnd as in the deep waters drownedForever trapped by soilIt was then that Tahiu died in the depth-Sadly his cruel fate was by all ignoredFor none had the corpse even seenSo deep below it wasAnd this the balance did disturbSadly for the fate of this our bright world''
''Oh of Kir all with a soul may have forgottenFeasting while his body was drownedBecoming the very soil that trapped himAnd ensuring the end of peaceOh Dead Tahiu what you did without knowing it-Forgotten for long time he laidUntil an eel the god's remains it dugEager to a house carve out of the high god's skullFor the humble fish could not it respectForgotten no more was Kir thus-The eel was though soon broken by the skull's powerThe eel's corpse soon fused with the noble bonesThe eel soon became like a sparkBringing life back to the black river's soilBringing to this our sunny world Harinnairin-Harinnairin the Great Black Lord came out of the riverHarinnairin only saw deathFor the world above was wickedFor they ended the great balanceFor not mourning Tahiu's death caused all to degenerate-Soon people stole freely from allAll broke all things as quickly as their hands allowed themThe old and sacred lands were by men then burnt and defiledNot even the great Cradle of All Ir Dauol was sparedSoon Nature once again acted-Thus Nature a fine cape wove from Ki Atur's ownOne of red cotton and white pearlsAnd gave its wearer kingship over allOver the whole of the Earth's frameThus Nature kingship for the first time invented-Yet it remained in the shadowsYet it remained far from any one's gazeYet it remained waiting for its proper ownerOne who for many years did not appearOne whose great reward he ignored-The real owner did not know his fate oh noThe real owner rumours did hear thoughAs all spread them from East to WestAs all talked about their future gloryAs all saw themselves as kings of the Universe''
While slightly disappointed with the actual contents of the tale, your interest in the performance remains, as the ambaliori's fire suddenly vanishes and all sound stops. This absence, luckily, doesn't last long, as a strange figure wearing a mask with antlers lits a candle and the music restarts. Although you cannot see the ambaliori.
''I shall be the one who rules high aboveYelled great Celain most confident deerOver the mountain and the redwood treeBelow the stars and clouds of the Blue SkyI shall be the one who rules victorious-Thus he travelled through barren fields and burnt forestsSlaughtering whatever he found opposing himOh Akaina itself did become full indeedIn vain as after three weeks he met no successThus the Horned One did his mad hunt for the cape end''
After that, the candle and the dancer disappear into the darkness of the basement. This time, however, it doesn't take too long for the performance to continue, as another small fire is lit elsewhere in the room. The person it illuminates is wearing a metal mask with mirrors as eyes, and remains sat still.
With that short story told, the motions repeat and the actor vanishes, being replaced by another one elsewhere in the basement. This time the dancer is clad in feathers and wears a mask with a sharp beak. Although you've never seen any deity that looks like that, you are sure those damned Nonnol know every little detail about them...''I shall be the one who rules over allSaid Yrain of the Thousand VisionsAmong the grey fog and the rocky streamBelow the watchful gaze of trees and birdsI shall be the one who rules eternal-Thus he spent night and day summoning the spiritsTorturing them to tell him of the locationUsing great magic by all in the land unknownThough in vain for after nine weeks the cape found notThus the Dark One did his great hunt for the cape end''
Then, as you were already expecting, light and sound vanish and return just as quickly. Although this time the flame is green and you can see both the teller and a dancer, who is wearing peasant rags.''I shall be the one who rules in HeavenSung Denain of the Glittering WingsAbove the white clouds of this sunny realmBelow the blue Heaven and Golden SunI shall be the one who rules majestic-Thus the track of the Sun he stopped to the cape findCausing the dry landscape to like timber lit upThe Gray Land once more becoming full of peopleOnce more in vain for nine months passed with no successThus the Beaked One did his bright hunt for the cape end''
As his predicament is recited, you think to yourself that Harinnairin is being quite stupid, not wanting to bask in the glory of his achievements and acting humbly. But then it hit you that this is a tale told by peasants, so what could you expect, right? In any case, three figures enter the stage, all dressed in their odd costumes and dancing to the kahillik.''Thus what was meant to bring salvation brought much doomMaking what was bad oh much worseYet the royal cape hidden still remainedWaiting for its proper ownerThus the cape invisible to all dark remained-Lord Harinnairin merely weptLamenting the death of the living worldSo full of corruption and decay it then wasNo plant growing no one's deeds at all praisedThe Great Lord wanted to this end-Harinnairin for days thought of a solutionHarinnairin thought long and hard of itHarinnairin oh Sleepless OneBut at long last it was to him revealedBut at long last answers became as clear as day-I have to forever change the land to spread good aroundI have to cultivate it allSo that order again returnsSo that all may live happilySo that barbarity is from Our Sunny Realm expelled-He thus invented all techniquesAnd started planting seeds tilling soils and caring for allTurning the scorched deserts of the land into lush farmlandSpreading with his labour virtue and the Natural WayHe thus was praised by all alive-Although at first the great lord his cult did ignoreTheir praises falling on deaf earsFor he only cared of cultivationWanting just to order restoreAlthough his every deed was by many revered-It was then in great Ir DauolIt was there that Harinnairin found itIt was then the black lord the royal cape unearthedWhile ploughing the soil of that high islandWhile preparing to cultivate-I can not be the one meant to have this powerI can not be the one meant to rule allCried Harinnairin to HeavenCried Harinnairin with sorrowful woeCried Harinnairin to be heard in all corners''
Then, the dancer dressed in rags put on a (rather expensive looking) cape and the tone radically changed, the fire becoming purple as well. You are happy the main character is finally behaving like someone worth talking about...''Oh Black Lord who are you if not our kingFor boundless abundance you brought us allAll your fine deeds are worthy of high praiseAnd virtue to the Eight Directions spreadOh Black Lord who are you if not our god-Said a delegation of mortals and spiritsTo convince Harinnairin to become their kingFor all feared what would be of the world without himSo much he improved this our world in so littleSaid all from Celain Horned One to Mister Ni''
And thus, after reciting that last syllable, the story comes to an end and everything turns black and silent again. This time, however, you all are lead outside by the same servant who brought you in, careful to guide you without having anyone stumble upon anything. You can only be amazed at some people's ability to see in the dark.''By the words of adoration finally movedHarinnairin the cape put onAnd all forever changed in this our worldFor he was the first of kingsBy the words of adoration kingship was born-The humble lord glorious becameTaller than the tallest of all heroesStronger than a boar at land and a whale at seaHis mere sight causing as much praise as fearThe humble lord a king was made-Thus for centuries his powers used or goodThus cultivation supreme did becomeThus countless millions were all fedFeeding oh both the soul and the bodyFeeding both young and old with great prosperity-During these centuries Nature's finest law was followedDuring these centuries good reignedFor he showed the purest virtueFor he took care of everyoneFor he never even thought of breaking that sacred way''
A short break
''Wine and venison, page!''Eager to breathe some fresh air and have something to eat before heading back downstairs, you order your staff to prepare a late dinner at the patio. One which you will sadly have to share with the Nonnol... It's in moments like these when you wonder if the alliance you want to maintain with them is worth having to actually bear them.
''-Didn't you find the metre superb, cousin? Her use of the kihabbai and her subtle subversion of the illurin simply brought tears to my eyes! -Agreed! How could one not be amazed by her ability to keep a balance between tradition and innovation? Although her use of fire and other... trivial distractions undeniably worsened the quality of the performance. -So often does the craftsman have great clay, yet so often it is damaged in the oven... -You guys know what the story was about, right?''Definitely thrilled by the idea of going back underground and not having to listen to your guests any longer, you tell the servants to take you all to the basement again, declaring the meal is over. Because of course, what kind of host would you be if you kept your guests away from the entertainment for too long? You think to yourself sarcastically while wishing you were peasants and could drink from the gourd.
Kaeri First Queen
The words of that familiar poem can be heard from everywhere at once as you enter into the dark room and the butler gives you a sit, the music starting shortly thereafter. The woman's voice accompanies the sound of the instruments, a fire slowly rising as the verses start to be recited.''Be silent,Hosts of mineBe silent,Trees and birdsBe silent,Fish and windBe silent,And listen''
After saying that god's name, an actress dressed in yellow robes enters the stage and starts performing around the dim light, the sound of water being heard all around. You are certainly not used to seeing women dance in such... formal ceremonies, you whisper to yourself.''Of his rise you now knowHarinnairin First KingWhose virtue was by all adoredWho was the Farmer KingOf the fields and rivers-Of his fall you must knowNow for the tale to endThe High Lord's taleWho at last was beatenOf it you will soon hear-Thus let us the end bringThus let me his fall tellThus let the high ones raise their soulsWith his story's lessonWith his virtues and flaws-Please do not your eyes closePlease do not ears ignoreMy humble wordsMy humble song and mythMy humble praise to Hun''
Then, both the teller and the actress disappear as the Harinnairin impersonator's moves become more erratic. The water is also replaced with rattles and all semblance of harmony in the melody disappears.''Long after Harinnairin king becameLong after he left the riverLong after the first cropsIn the land a humble king satIn the land there was virtuous control-In these days there was peaceIn these days all lived properlyNo war being waged at land or at seaNo great sin going unpunishedNo thing out of order-It was then that Hun to the river wentTo the place of his birthAnd as into the waters gazedHe fair Hallerin sawIt was then that the high king learnt of love-Sadly this did his fate seal for the worseFor she was not to marry himSo sworn she was to HanThis forever altered our lordSadly for the fate of This Our Bright World''
This monologue is ended by the dancer hurling a sickle at the crowd, knocking off someone's hat. That makes you so happy you have to make a gargantuan effort to not interrupt the session with your childish laughter. In any case, the actor hides into the darkness and the ambaliori enters the scene once more, the tune remaining equally deformed.''Why am I tempted to break Nature's Law?Me who is its keeper and enforcerWho is meant to shine brighter than the SunAnd guide this our high world through exampleWhy am I tempted to cause harm to all?-Whispered King Harinnairin to by none be heardFearing to fall victim to his new desiresOh how chaotic and unbalanced they all wereLove's sweet and wild whispers of joy and great gloryWhispered Our Lord Harinnairin truly disturbed''
Then the Harinnairin impersonator leaps into the scene once more, this time wearing rather odd garbs full of bells. To enter the stage, he jumps over the crowd, although you have no clue how he got behind you all without seen. You should definitely ask that ambaliori for advice on how to organize the next banhan feast, you mutter.''Unable to forget her gaze his duties leftCausing decay to once more spreadAll falling out of order in the landAs it was oh so long agoUnable to forget the glory he saw then-Silence and death reigned oh supremeThe fields and crops to the Gray Land travelledFrom the Heavens lightning but no rain fell for daysAnd the people virtue forgot once moreSilence and death it replacing-The few virtuous ones ceaselessly wept for weeksThe few good ones wanted the king's returnThe few proper ones wanted peaceBut their desperate pleas fell on deaf earsBut they were ignored by Harinnairin-Harinnairin in his solitude grew worse day by dayHarinnairin wanted one thingTo be with his dearest maidenTo be with she who was promisedTo be with she whom Our Lady Kaeri held dearest-Madness in him grew for twelve yearsEager to end his pain but not to go against the lawThus he suffered more pain than anyone could imagineNot even the most starved citizens of the underworldMadness in him grew with no end-It grew until it could grow no more inside himAnd then it grew beyond his selfBorn out of Harinnairin's pain it wasYrankuwalir oh pale beastIt grew in the abode of Mad Harinnairin-This though the king's pain did not endThis though his soul did not raise from the depthsThis though did not answer the pleas of the good onesIt only gave him company in woeIt only gave the lord a son-Oh this son Yrankuwalir was not silentOh this son of his countless things whisperedWhispers of committing great crimesWhispers of seducing the devotedWhispers of defiling Kaeri's will and law
To answer his monologue, the same actress as before enters the scene, though much more calmly than the man.''I the king cry for you oh HallerinUnable to be fair because of youAll of the world's misery your fault isThus please come with me so that it is solvedI the king this of you most humbly beg-Said the king in the cape to the maiden one dayThe gloriously imposing lord of all beggingHoping to with his words the maiden's union breakTo make her leave Kaeri's embrace and be hisSaid the king all the words he could recite to her''
And then the music stops and the fire is snuffed out. This drags on for far longer than expected, until yet another explosion lits a rather large fire and the sounds begin again. This music is much more coherent and intense than what was being played before, and you see several actors at the stage, all dancing chaotically.''Oh your pain and misery I lamentAnd for the problems of the land I cryYet I am not yours and never will beFor you are not to compare to my OneOh your self so inferior to her own-Replied the lady on the Black River's bright banksGreen-eyed mortal who rejected HarinnairinBravest of all who no god's words would make her strayAnd desert Kaeri's warm and loving embraceReplied thus she Hallerin with divine courage''
The melee suddenly stops when Harinnairin kicks everyone away from him to let everyone see him clearly. Although the ungodly noise the countless bells on his costume make is driving you mad.''Thus Harinnairin in his cave bitterly weptYrankuwalir whisperingAnd Blue-eyed Harinnairin listeningTo the shapeless being's adviceThus Harinnairin decided to all destroy-Thus with terrible intent flewChasing the bright Sun in Heaven aboveEager to it capture and Creation burn wholeSo Kaeri could not her sworn one haveThus making him forever pleased-Denain however his chase ended quicklyDenain fiery arrows shootingDenain thus the great lord fellPiercing his glorious wings of silk and jadePiercing his body oh so mighty and dreadful-Thus Harinnairin Black Lord fell to the water belowThus Harinnairin his scheme changedFor he was still eager to hurtFor he was bitter as the mostFor he would not let them rejoice-In his dreadful mind a dark thoughtA simple way to all in Creation at least destroyHis duties he would keep neglecting until all were deadAnd fertility would to all the land wholly denyIn his dreadful mind so simple-In this Harinnairin though did not find successOnly bringing forth his demiseFor the good ones this would not tolerateAnd his reign would bring to an endIn this Harinnairin and his son did not think-Thus all who would live gathered thereThus all gathered under the Great One's flagThus all obeyed the High Lady of the FlowersEager to at long last King Hun deposeEager to Nature's Law restore-All then entered Harinnairin's darkest abodeAll then sung songs of war and destructionThe Lord of All fighting with braveryThe lord slaying thousands with his powerThe lord slaying with fire thunder and anger''
However, once his monologue is over, all the other actors make quick work of him and seize him. They then beat him with hopefully blunt sticks and leave him laying on the ground, taking off a garment you assume is his cape and throwing leaves and such trash over him. You feel kind of sorry for him...''You shall not slay me in this darkest placeFor I am the king of all CreationInvincible with my most royal capeThus you shall cease in your attempts and leaveYou may choose to do that or die in here-Yelled Harinnairin growing desperate belowCrushing countless but countless more joining the fightFor all were against him and none defended himThe power of his cape not enough to save himYelled thus Harinnairin in fear and agony''
After wrapping up the story and reciting those last words, the session comes to an end. After all, the narrative cycle is over and she has already been entertaining you for hours. Thus the butler leads you all out of the second basement, never letting you see the room fully illuminated. Guess that's where the magic of the telling is... As to the ambaliori, you never see her or any of the dancers leave, being too preoccupied giving orders to your staff to send the Nonnol to sleep so that they may let you enjoy the rest of the night in peace.''At long last though Blue-eyed Harinnairin was slainAfter causing a great slaughterKilling both gods and mortals in his rageBefore Hallerin the Great pierced his heartAt long last to defend the one she was sworn to-All thus the Victorious One praisedThe mortal so noble she killed a godThough this feat she dedicated to her goddessWhom she argued should now be queen of allAll thus Kaeri gave the cape-Harinnairin's beaten body was torn to shredsHarinnairin's remains were spread aroundHarinnairin's bones were defiledAnd his shapeless son was burnt by the SunAnd his shapeless son was by beaked Denain mocked-In the tallest peaks was the bright new era thus announcedIn the burnt fields all reveered herFor she made all fertile once moreFor she shone bright with great virtueFor she restored the pure forests of this our sunny realm-The people thus praised the queen's deedsAnd to her worship countless people become devotedThe new reign shining for brighter than Harinnairin's ownKaeri acting as a beacon of virtue and goodThe people inspired by her''