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Death of a God

Hapaed, ruler of man, and Prispaed, keeper of secrets, fall in love with the same woman, the mother of all, Mistress of the Earth, Stuhumruca. After a century of indecisiveness, she has borne them each a son. They have both grown to be young men she is proud to call her own. Hamuhirgui son of Hapaed, and tender of the flock of man, and Pripsvine son of Prispaed, priest of sacred rituals. But ultimately, she chooses to wed Hapaed. As head priest, it falls to Pripsvine to perform the wedding ceremony between his mother and uncle.   Pripsvine pleads with his father to not let this happen. To use his secret knowledge to defeat Hapaed, for it is known that he is invulnerable to harm. In order to protect his mother from what will happen on the day of the wedding he fashions a veil, a ward against evil spirits and harm. To keep her calm and joyous he plants a bed of scented flowers to blanket the path she will walk.   The night before the wedding, as is custom, the intended bride bathes in ewes' milk to cleanse any bad luck surrounding her. The grooms' feet are washed in cold water that he may start his new life on a clean slate. And, cleansed and renewed, they dress in each other's clothes for the night. To confuse any evil that might still pursue them. Pripsvine, bearing his ceremonial staff of pine capped with iron ferrules on either side, supervises all.   On the day, Hapaed stands ready to wed in a wedding pavilion raised on the banks of the great river of life. With him at the altar is his son Hamuhirgui, holding the ceremonial vase. Ready to shatter it at the right moment, predicting the many years of happiness with the number of fragments. At the entrance to the hall stands the remaining groomsmen, the third brother Aefupaed, wielder of storms, with his two sons Aefreus and Aefius, they are the berserk ravager of enemies and the might defender of the realm. These three are the strongest warriors in all the heavens.   Stuhumruca enters the wedding pavilion, draped in a dress of vines, their red roses bringing out the green of her eyes. Her bridal maids lead the way down the aisle, carrying sacks of grain to bless the couple with fertility. They walk in order of divinity, the cow, horse, and lioness follow the hawk. As they approach the altar, the flowered path brings them a sense of quiet calm.   Presiding over the ceremony, Pripsvine stands at the altar with a new addition to his staff. A gift of mistletoe from his father. As he says the words, an aura emanates from the staff. Its taint seeps into Hapaed to the bone. He sways on his feet and begins to cough, a spotted rash spreads across his body, and blood mixes into his sputum. Pustules swell in his neck, armpits, and groin. Bursting with bloody ooze across the body. He falls to his knees retching, weakened and vulnerable.    Leading a pack of fiery hounds swathed in shadow, Prispaed storms the entrance riding a wild boar. His brother and nephews standing in his way. The pack greatly outnumber the defenders and swarm them, binding them in shadow. Hamuhirgui steps up to defend his father but is struck from behind by his cousin. Already feeling ill from the taint, he is easily subdued. Now unopposed Prispaed beheads and dismembers his brother.    As the breath of life escapes his dying lips Hamuhirgui draws it in. He holds the breath while Pripsvine and the hounds take the pieces of his father and flee into the raging waters of the river, astride the backs of enormous elk. After they're gone, he exhales the breath into the ceremonial vase to contain it. He gathers his uncle and cousins, and together, they set out to find the pieces of Hapaed, that they may be reunited, and life breathed back in.

Historical Basis

Volume 6 lines 1-3 of the Book of Cirvaeon, The Dying God, gives a summarized account of the events that day. It uses the real names of the deities involved, not the epithets known to the Arres people used here.
Telling / Prose
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