Geillakktir

1 O most generous and gentle Einäg-Köll
2 Whose breast runneth over with love
3 For all the world and thy countless children
4 And the vast and empty void beyond the sky
5 Thou are gracious and merciful without compare
6 Father of creation and wellspring of virtue
7 Thou dwellest beyond the beyond
8 And hold the world in thy palm
9 Thou art good and holy and kind
10 Thou art humble and generous as the needle pine
11 Hear thee thy beloved children
12 Bend thee thy ear to brave and cunning Agrund
13 For Agrund is thy most humble supplicant
14 Let us speak of kind and gentle Agrund
15 Whose sonorous voice resounds across the mere
16 Whose courage rouses the hearts of men
17 On whose spear rests the pelts of beasts
18 Agrund born of thy beauteous daughters
19 Agrund suckled on the breast of holy Æða
20 Æða on whose fingertips danced
21 The runes of Wyrd and Measure
22 Wyrd that speaks of the course of life
23 And Measure that speaks of its length
24 Holy Æða whose eyes see all men
25 Whose hands weave the tapestry of their tales
26 And in whose arms was swaddled righteous Agrund
  Geillakktir, "The World Story" in Gelethian, pertains both to the Gelethian myth of the creation of the world, and the book in which it was first codified by Prince Agrund, first Exarch of Gelethis, some 200 or so years ago. The story serves as a cornerstone of Gelethian culture and belief, tied intrinsically to the strong patriotic sentiment prevalent among the people. It is a reminder of the duties with which Gelethians abide as citizens of the Burdensome City and a warning of what may unfold if they are remiss in the fulfillment thereof.  

Summary

In the beginning, there was the void, and the spirit of the great god Einäg Köll who kept her company. Einäg was a creator who'd formed countless worlds before, but he was tired, and he found the emptiness of the void comforting. For an eternity, he was content to bask in the stillness but his destiny was always to move on and weave new worlds from the fabric of reality. He knew that the time would come when he would depart from the emptiness of the void and so, as a gift for her who comforted him in his exhaustion, he left behind a gift so that she might never know true loneliness again: a disc that contained within it a fragment of his divine power—the Navel.  

Birth of the Titans

For the void was bereft of will and consciousness, she could not make use of the Navel as Einäg would have. Her emptiness would have remained such, even despite the Navel, if not for the lingering echo of Einäg's wish that she never know true loneliness again. Drawing upon the wellspring of creation within it, the Navel begat the titans. They were colossal beings who each possessed great, world-shaking power, creatures whom the Navel believed to be worthy companions of the void. It made them in two kinds, the black and the white, as a contrast to the oneness of the void.   Though they were powerful, the titans were not as gods, and could not survive indefinitely in the embrace of the void. The Navel needed to build for them a home, and for some time it pondered how it might do so.  

Division

Though they were born in the embrace of the void, for the purpose of providing her companionship, the titans were unaware of her presence. Instead, they saw each other, the only beings in the emptiness, and the Navel from which they were begotten. Without the guidance of a loving creator, they developed no sense of goodness and believed themselves to be the masters of the emptiness and divided it between each other so that they might each rule over their own little piece of the void.   As time passed, there were disagreements among them. Greed and envy made them eye each other's portions of the void. They fought each other for control of ever larger pieces of territory. Blood and sinew scattered across the emptiness. To better withstand the violence, protect their portions, and have a better chance of seizing other portions, some of them banded together. This continued for eternity until, in the end, two clans remained—the black and the white—each one believing itself superior to the other.   Inevitably, the two sides clashed for control over the void.  

The World Rune

Ignorant to the plight of its children, the Navel continued to ponder the question of building a home for its creations. After an eon, it arrived at an answer. It did not have the mind of a creator and could not, at a whim, conjure that which it had begotten. And so it gathered its powers of creation and etched upon its surface an unfathomably complex singular rune that held within it the distilled essence of that which it wanted to create: the first World Rune, Ouð, the rune of Earth.   Channeling the fragment of divinity it held within it through the World Rune, the Navel wove earth from the aether, creating a place for its children and also inadvertently setting the stage for the bloody war that would follow.  

The First Titanswar

As the clashes between the two titan clans escalated, a brief ceasefire transpired when the earth appeared from the aether. The great beings understood, then, that they had not merely sprung fully-formed from the Navel but that it had created them and their greed for the power contained within grew.   The titans descended upon the earth and fought with each other to lay claim to the vast, featureless, and endless plain. They warred, one clan against the other, until the earth was soaked in their blood. The earth was merely the battlefield, and dominion over it a means to an end. They believed that whosoever reigned over the desolate plain would inherit the power of the World Rune.   For eons, the titans fought together until only the stragglers of one clan remained. When the Navel and the World Rune remained out of reach, they turned to each other, believing that it could only belong to one of them. What followed was a slaughter, brother against brother, until only one remained.  

The First Great Titan

Injured but unhindered by his kin, he ascended to the Navel and seized first World Rune. Though he could not comprehend the entirety of its infinite complexity, he understood well enough that he was able to lay claim to all the earth. To test his comprehension and his newfound powers, he reshaped the featureless plain of earth, raising mountains and carving gorges and valleys into its surface.   Endowed with the power of the World Rune, the single titan who survived the first titanswar had become more. He was neither white nor black, but something above both. His body had become white in the center, and black toward the extremities. He had transcended the limitations of his mortal form and become a Great Titan.   To represent his understanding of the first World Rune, he took a new name: Ouðri.  

The Second World Rune

As the Navel continued to ponder how to create the best environment for its children, it created a second World Rune: Fæll, the rune of Water. A blanket of Water fell upon the Earth, trickling down from the heights that Ouðri had created to form streams and rivers, and pooling in the basins and hollows he made to form lakes and oceans.   The Water washed the land clean of the blood, flesh, and bones left behind by the fallen titans. It enveloped the remains in its cool embrace as they tumbled down the newly-formed riverbeds, cleansing them and eventually dispersing their energy to be sent back to the Navel.  
Rebirth
Though the wonder of Water stoked the greed in Ouðri's evil heart, his cup already overran with the First World Rune Ouð and he could not, despite staring at Fæll for eternity, comprehend the secrets that lay within its infinite complexity. This, Ouðri could not abide. Having already tasted the profound truths behind the First World Rune, the thought that the secrets of the Second World Rune would remain forever beyond his reach was intolerable.   Fortunately for Ouðri, at this time, the Navel noticed the energy of the slain titans returning to it. It gazed upon the world it had created with dismay, seeing only Ouðri remaining. Having once before created the titans, the Navel could recreate them with little effort. He returned them to the Earth for it was where he had decided they would live.  
King
The reborn titans retained none of the memories of their past lives. They began anew in a strange place, a world of Earth and Water, and one who seemed one of their kind but more. Ouðri saw an opportunity to pry the secrets of the Second World Rune from the Navel and approached the reborn titans. To demonstrate his power, he changed them in his image. The World Rune of Earth had made his bones hard as stone. So too did he change the reborn titans and in awe they crowned him King.  
Rune Magic
Under Ouðri's guidance, the titans prospered. In seeking to find a means to unearth the secrets of the Second World Rune, Ouðri attempted to bestow the secrets of Ouð to some few titans he trusted. He was testing their ability to comprehend the World Rune he held within himself. Some showed great promise, but one thing became abundantly clear: they could comprehend only pieces of the truth.   Every titan Ouðri taught invariably reached a stumbling block beyond which they could proceed no further. They were unable to grasp all that he could teach them, but they could, at least, comprehend some small portion of Ouð. What fragments they retained allowed them to create hollow facsimiles of the World Rune: subordinate runes that allowed their owners to control the pieces of Ouð that they were able to understand. Thus, Rune Magic was born.  
The Second Titanswar
After his repeated failures, Ouðri surmised that it was the great war that set him apart from the titans of the new age. They had never known the joy of battle. They had never survived near-certain death. They had never been tempered in the horrors of war. He realized what he must do if he was to find a champion, a companion who could wrest the Second World Rune from the Navel: stoke the fires of war himself.   To that end, Ouðri fomented division between the kinds until the two clans of black and white were born anew. To them, he revealed a fabrication that spoke of a destined day during which one of the clans would receive the teachings of the Second World Rune and raise a second King from among their ranks. Greed, envy, pride, and all the ugly things that had reared their heads during the first Titanswar emerged onto the battlefield once again, and the rivers ran red with the blood of the fallen.   When only one clan stood, Ouðri revealed that only one titan could claim the power of the Second World Rune, and the effect was as he desired: only one titan was left standing, having survived a baptism of fire and blood, ready to seize the secrets of Fæll from the Navel.  
The Second Great Titan
And so it was that the second Great Titan was born. In the style of Ouðri, he took the name of the Second World Rune and made it his own, dubbing himself Fællri. For giving him the opportunity to rise to the station of god and King among titans, Fællri swore his loyalty to everlasting loyalty to Ouðri. However, a titan's word should never be trusted. Fællri would serve Ouðri only for so long as it would benefit him.   Once he had subsumed as much of the World Rune into himself as he could, Fællri looked upon the world and was disappointed to see that the rivers had dried up, the channels empty as no new water had gathered in the heights to flow down into the depths. To rectify this, Fællri created rain, which he sent over the high places so that fresh water might flow down the slopes once again and form the veins of the world.   Having reached a new understanding of the way that Water circulated through the environment, Fællri was able to do the same within himself. The titansblood, which had merely lain stagnant in his veins began to flow throughout his body, granting him new strength and the ability to move with greater speed and decisiveness than before. In gratitude for all that Ouðri had done for him, and a deep-seated desire to not owe a debt to him, Fællri gave the gift of flowing blood to Ouðri as well.  

The Third Cycle

Fællri's rains washed away the blood, flesh, and bones of the slain titans. They swept the carnage into the rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. There, the remains were purified and dispersed, their energies once again returning to the Navel. Ouðri surmised, incorrectly, that all that had transpired was part of a great cycle of history and that soon, the Navel would birth not just a third World Rune, but also his and Fællri's lesser kin for the third time. He was correct, but unaware of the role he played in the great cycle.   Continuing its self-appointed task of creating a world for its children to live in, the Navel created its third World Rune, Að, the rune of Illumination. Fællri and Ouðri both sensed the advent of a new aspect. They felt a strange energy in the air, a thrumming, buzzing that had not been there before. Though the Navel had created light, the titans did not have the eyes with which to see it.   Fællri and Ouðri were filled with anticipation. Now that the third World Rune had been created, they knew that the third age of titans would soon arrive. They saw its coming as a certainty, a consequence of the world moving through the third cycle, not knowing that each time the titans returned was a result of the Navel consciously choosing to bring them back. In order to lay the path for the third Great Titan to be born, the two Great Titans conspired.   When the titans were reborn into the third age, Fællri and Ouðri put on a mummer's show and played at bitter rivals. They gathered the two clans to themselves: the white to Fællri and the black to Ouðri. They each gave their gift to their respective clan: the white given flowing blood, and the black given bones of hardened stone. The two kings pitted them against each other to separate the chaff and elevate a champion. The titan that survived the long and bloody war was a devious one, his greed surpassed only by his cold cunning. When he came to learn of the truth of the scheme, he was impressed, and seized the third World Rune as he thought was his birthright.   As in the style of the two before him, the titan champion dubbed himself Aðri after the World Rune he now had in his grasp. With his newfound understanding of Illumination, Aðri opened his eyes for the first time and, elated upon discovering the bleak beauty of their world, granted the gift of sight to the other two Great Titans as well. To them, he entreated, "gaze upon all that belongs to us, every thing touched by light and every corner darkened by its absence. This is our domain, and we its masters. So shall it be for all time."  

The Fourth Cycle

Under the endless light, the beauty of the primitive world was made apparent. In its absence, however, dwelled a force that would bring despair to the Great Titans. A grim cold began to form in the bosom of the great void that hovered over the infant world, bereft as it was of light. From above, a great and bitter wind began to blow. The rains, which had already begun their duty of washing away the carnage of the previous age, froze and began to bury it instead.   As Ouðri, Fællri, and Aðri watched, the rivers slowed and stilled, the lakes became as mirrors of ice, and the great oceans became vast and frigid plains. They feared that the cycle might have been broken, that the Navel would not produce a fourth World Rune, that their lesser kin would not return and that what power they had between themselves would have to satisfy them for the rest of eternity. Their anxiety soon proved to be unfounded as the Navel produced the Fourth World Rune, Eird, the rune of Fire.   A great ball of fire blazed into existence high above. Heat and light flooded the world, melting the ice and allowing the rains to continue their sacred charge. Blood, bones, and flesh washed into the streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans, cleansing the remains and dispersing the energies of the fallen titans to return to the Navel. Though it seemed that the cycle would continue as it always had, Ouðri, Fællri, and Aðri watched with concern as the great ball of fire sank toward the horizon and soon disappeared below.   The darkness of the heavens returned, and with it, the cold. This time, however, smoldering embers cast from the husk of the burning ball lingered in the darkness, glimmering high above the world like little pinpricks of light—the stars. Though they could not compare, they burned with enough warmth that the rains did not freeze again. And so, the cylce continued.   Before long, the titans returned, born once again of the Navel. To them, Ouðri, Fællri, and Aðri presented themselves as gods. To each titan they bestowed their gifts: bones of hardened stone, flowing blood in their veins, and eyes with which to see the world. They taught their lesser kin the secrets of the runes and in so doing taught them of a fourth World Rune, waiting to be claimed. The innate greed of the titans drove them to war as they had three times before, and in the end only one remained.   He joined Ouðri, Fællri, and Aðri, dubbing himself Eirdri as he seized the Fourth World Rune for himself. Having intimated what he could of the secrets of Fire, Eirdri felt heat surge in his veins. The cold blood pumping through his body became as molten fire, warding away the chill of night, infusing him with courage and resolve, and stoking the fires of passion inside him.   Eirdri imparted this gift to the other Great Titans, but not out of the goodness of his heart. His motives were impure and self-centered. If he did not think that sharing the gift would make them stronger as a group, he would not have done so. The four Great Titans had turned their attention to the future and were pondering what wonders the Navel would one day beget. They looked forward to the day their numbers grew and needed to make plans to preserve their power in the face of potential conflict.  

The Fifth Cycle

Though rain poured, water flowed, and wind blew, the Earth was unchanging and eternal. Such was the inviolable truth of the world until the Navel produced the fifth World Rune, Æns, the rune of Time. As the Navel set in motion the inexorable march of the hand of time, the world began to change. Water carved new channels, streams, and rivers. The wind weathered mountains into dust and the sea gnawed at the coastlines. Valleys tore open on the face of the Earth and jagged peaks rose from its buckling.   As before, the titans were reborn, and the four Great ones endowed them with their blessings. War broke out amongst them, instigated by the four until only one remained of the lesser kin, one worthy to ascend and seize the fifth World Rune. Thus was the fifth Great Titan born, one who would take the mantle of Ænsri.   Of the Great Titans, Ænsri possessed the most profound connection with his World Rune. He understood its breadth and its depth. On its own, Time would have served him well, but by digging into its inner intricacies he unearthed its true treasure: Growth. By intimating this concept he gained the ability to not just change and adapt to the world around him, but also to increase in strength, cunning, and wisdom with the passage of Time. This gift he imparted to the other Great Titans, so that he might owe them no debt of gratitude.   Though his connection with Æns ran deep, it was insufficient to grant Ænsri more than a fragmentary insight about things yet come. This was enough, and Ænsri used it to his advantage. Upon learning of his ability to peer into the future, the other Great Titans envied him but knew there was naught they could do to seize the power for their own. They named him Seer and Advisor, deferring to his wisdom in matters that concerned their collective future.   Ænsri's first prediction was that the next cycle would be unlike any other cycle that came before.  

The Sixth Cycle

With the ascension of Ænsri, the sun arose on a world that would never be the same. The five Great Titans eagerly awaited the Navel's next miracle. They did not have to wait long for soon lush greenery bloomed across the landscape and all manner of beast was born on the Earth, in the Water, and in the sky. Burned upon the surface of the Navel was the sixth World Rune: Geið, the rune of Life. No longer would the titans be the only creatures to grace the surface of the infant world.   As before, the Navel returned the slain titans to the surface of the Earth and the Great Ones granted them their blessings and taught them the magic of the runes. As before, the Great Ones made mention of the World Rune, and that one among their lesser kin would be chosen to ascend and gain its power. As before, war broke out among the titans, fueled by their greed and envy.   This time, however, the war was bloodier and more brutal than in the last six cycles. The titans learned to use the beasts of the world to their advantage, as weapons and vehicles of warfare. Countless creatures, of titansblood and not, were slain. The beautiful and lush greenery of the world was trampled underfoot by the vast armies or drowned by the seemingly-endless tide of misery and blood. The world was torn asunder by the insatiable evil in the hearts of the titans, and no mercy was shown until, at long last, only one titan remained.   Geiðri took his place among the Great Titans. From his understanding of Geið he discovered the gift of life. He shed his blood upon the earth and from the crimson pools arose creatures born of him. He would not have shared his gift if not for a conversation with Ænsri wherein the Great Titan of Time convinced him that a threat may rise against them one day that they could only defeat together. With no small amount of reluctance, Geiðri blessed the others with his gift so that with their blood and his, they might raise an army to blot out the sun.  

The Seventh Cycle

The six Great Titans waited an eternity for the Navel to produce its seventh World Rune and grew tired and worried with each passing day that it refused to do so. In the meantime they watched the history of the world unfold before their eyes. With the Earth as their cradle, Water to nourish them, Illumination to light their way, Fire to warm them in the cold nights, and the hand of Time driving them to change and grow as the days passed, Life thrived on the world.   As Time marched on, life became diverse and complex, thriving in all corners of the world both bright and dark, lush and desolate. Some few built primitive societies and basic civilization. They lived in hollows in the Earth and in their hands they held tools of wood and stone. Despite having no knowledge of the runes, they managed to hold some sway over Fire. They could not control it, not truly, but they could summon Fire and contain it with stone, just as the Great Titans' lesser kin had learned to do.   The Great Titans watched in fascination and amazement as the future unfolded before them. They kept distant so as to not disturb the creatures, who'd proven reckless and self-destructive in the face of such superior creatures as the Great Titans. For a time, the Great Titans were content to watch as the eons trickled by but the day came when at last they noticed that some great span of time had passed—enough that new kinds of creatures had emerged and old ones had passed into nothingness. And still there was no sign that their lesser kin would return.   Things changed when one day the Great Titans turned their gaze to the primitive civilizations of the world and saw that they had developed language, begun to build permanent structures, grow their own food, and trade with one another. Seemingly overnight the spark of consciousness had developed in them, and the Great Titans discovered that in a brief lapse of attention they had failed to see that the Navel had produced its seventh World Rune: Hrær, the rune of Soul.  
The Titans Return
Shortly after Hrær blazed into life on the Navel, it once again returned the titans to the world. The fledgling civilizations knew not how to react to the appearance of the titans. For some time, the Great Titans kept their distance, also uncertain as to how to approach their lesser kin with the complicating factor of other conscious life in the world. Seeing that Hrær had wrought beings like them, capable of thinking and communicating complex concepts, they surmised that it was more powerful than the World Runes that had manifested thus far.   The Great Titans feared that such a World Rune would not be subjugated by the same methods as the others. They feared that it would require a stronger vessel, one that had withstood even greater bloodshed than they had. Thus they worked to make it so. Without revealing themselves they bequeathed to their lesser kin their gifts and stayed at a distance while the titans dwelled among the people and came to be recognized as gods.  
The Seventh Titanswar
Some were praised for their kindness and recognized for their generosity. Others were seen as evil tyrants and feared throughout vast swathes of the world. As they grew more powerful, more influential, among the people, so too did their egos grow. Endowed with the gift of life, the titans were not only able to create titanspawn from their blood, they also joined with the mortals and one another to produce children.   No corner of the world was untouched by titan influence. They were as gods, revered and feared in equal measure. Some small few made passing attempts at kindness and earned the love and respect of their subjects in return, but deep within each dwelled the irredeemably evil nature of the titans.   When the time was right, the six Great Titans announced their presence to the world. Faced with power far beyond their own, the titans were struck with awe and terror. To their lesser kin, the Great Titans proclaimed the existence of the seventh World Rune and challenged them to produce, from among themselves, a single champion who would ascend to seize its power for himself. They understood their lesser kin well for the same greed and envy and lust for power that dwelled within them dwelled in their brethren as well.   There were no clans to draw the lines of battle in this seventh titanswar. Instead, the titans engaged in a brutal melee, dragging whole nations into the fray with them. The bloodshed was unprecedented, and the violence that erupted shook the very foundations of the world. The Great Titans achieved exactly what they wanted, and the conflict raged for eons until one last titan remained standing in an ankle-deep pool of blood that covered the whole world.  
The Seventh Great Titan
Alas, the titan who eventually emerged victorious, who had been locked in a deadly one-on-one with his fiercest and last surviving rival for centuries, sustained a mortal wound in the aftermath of the battle. He mustered the strength to ascend as the Great Titans bid him to, and seized Hrær for himself. To the other Great Titans' dismay, he succumbed to his wounds soon thereafter and died.   The Great Titans were desponded. They feared that the cycle had been broken. But the newest Great Titan, who had dubbed himself Hrælnri after the style of the others, appeared to them in a spectral form and told them that he had not truly passed on, and that he lingered as an everlasting spirit, an eternal soul that could last after death. He told them that as long as they could build for him a new body, that he could return to live once more.   The six put their abilities together and drew upon the World Runes to mimic the power of creation. From the aether they wove a new body for Hrælnri. The result was imperfect and weaker than before, but it was sufficient. Hraelnri's soul inhabited the husk and, as if he'd never perished, he returned to the land of the living. To the others, Hraelnri bestowed this gift, knowing that they would owe him an eternal debt for the gift of eternal life.  

The Eighth Cycle

After the rains washed the carnage of the previous age, life slowly returned to the face of the world, which had been swept barren by seventh titanswar. Greenery flourished and little creatures roamed. Eons passed, and with them the world changed little by little until it resembled what it had been before the return of the titans in the previous cycle. Still the Navel remained silent. Years and years passed with no sign of either an eighth World Rune or the return of the Great Titans' lesser kin. Such was the unimaginable breadth of Time during which the Navel remained obstinately still that even the Great Titans themselves nearly forgot of its existence.  
Civilization
During this time, civilizations rose and fell upon the surface of the world. Life in the eighth age was difficult and unjust. They banded together out of necessity against the feral beasts and bitter winters. They worked hard to eke out a living and built cities to house and defend themselves. In time the people of one city would find it too crowded and move some ways down the river to found another.   Time and again they raised civilizations from nothing but the dirt under their feet, but always, always their disunity and individual interests forced them to part from one another. They lived and worked together, out of necessity, but they had no concept of pursuing a singular common goal. Always they put their own selfish needs before others and time and again their divisions proved devastatingly effective at tearing down what they built. How fortunate were they that they were incapable of visiting upon themselves the same carnage that the titans could.  
The Eighth World Rune
Of the Great Ones, Ænsri knew the nature of Time and Change the best. He'd watched the world and seen it stagnate. Thoiugh his grasp on the future was tenuous and fragmentary, he knew that the world had reached a tipping point and advised his brothers that soon, the Navel would come alive again.   Ænsri's wisdom had not led the others astray as yet, and so they waited. It was not too long thereafter that Ænsri's augury came to pass. High above the world, in the bosom of the great void, nestled amongst the burning embers of the stars, the Navel blazed with power. Upon its face emerged a World Rune unlike any that had come before it.   Thus was the eighth World Rune born: Binðr, the rune of Dominion.   Though the Great Titans did not comprehend its entirety when they laid their gazes upon it, they understood enough to know its purpose. Such was the power of Binðr; he who would claim it would claim all the world and rise above even the Great Titans to become an unparalleled existence.  
A Game of Puppets
In the face of Binðr, the Great Titans felt great turmoil for neither could they hope to seize it for themselves nor predict who would ascend to take it. Though each was solely interested in grabbing the power of Binðr for himself, they were in consensus. Whichever of their lesser kin would survive the coming war, it would have to be one that is under their control. And so they schemed and plotted whilst watching the Navel closely, awaiting the moment that it returned their lesser kin to the world.   It was Ænsri who, in his wisdom, asked a question of Geiðri that changed everything: if he could birth, from his blood, a spawn in the image of the Great Ones, a puppet wholly devoted and loyal to the Great Ones, granted a soul by the hand of Hrælnri, was there any need for games and schemes?   And so the Great Titans asked each other: with the powers they possessed from the seven World Runes, could they, themselves usurp the role of the Navel and create a lesser kin without its intervention? It was a question worth exploring. To their delight they discovered that it was possible. By creating a lesser kin in their image and imparting to it a fragment of their immortal soul they could create a living puppet that served no will but theirs.   So as to be fair, and to ensure that the would-be king of the Great Titans was controlled equally by the seven, they each mingled their blood to create the vessel of the puppet, and each one gave it a fragment of their soul.   Desiring exclusive control of the would-be king, the Great Titans each created their own champion, birthed of their blood and their immortal soul alone.   Thus was the foundation of the eighth age laid: with an act of betrayal.  
The Age of Kings
Among the countless people of the world, some special few were born with a dreg of understanding of Binðr. They grew to become great leaders and kings. They pulled the disparate peoples together, giving them common cause, and a common identity. The civilizations that had, in the beginning, floundered and failed past a certain size now grew into vast and prosperous kingdoms. In the beginning, there were only good kings. Just kings. Though their comprehension of Binðr was infinitesimal compared to the World Rune's true breadth, they understood enough to act as any good king would.  
The Poison of Evil
Things changed when the titans returned to the world. They were regarded with respect and treated well for the people were good and pure. They were fed and watered and given shelter, put to work so that they did not while away their time in idle pursuits and live life with meaning.   All was well, for a time. It seemed that the influence of the good kings of the age would change the titans for the better. Even when the Great Ones gave their blessings to their lesser kin, the titans demonstrated their gifts and used them, out of friendship, for the betterment of man.   The passage of Time meant that Change was a certainty. It was inevitable that the true nature of the titans would reemerge and before long, it did. They became dissatisfied with their lot among the people. They saw the kings and envied their wealth and power. Conniving and scheming as titans are wont to do, they slithered like snakes into the courts of the good kings and exerted their infuence over no small few. Once-good kings turned greedy and selfish, lusting for power as their titan advisors did, unaware that all they did was in the service of their would-be gods. They followed the titans down a dark path, never to return.   The touch of the titans tarnished the golden age of man, teaching them evil and vice, how to refuse help to their neighbors without payment, how to act solely in their self-interest to the exclusion of their kin. The poison of the titans' evil dragged man nearly all the way back to the caves in which they once lived in their own filth, caring only for their survival. If not for the resistance of those few good kings who refused to give in to the titans' temptations, there would have been nothing left of man.  
A Prelude to War
As the world gradually descended to disarray despite the lack of intervention from the Great Titans, the seven saw the chaos as an opportunity to insert their puppet champion without attracting attention. They did so, and the plan was executed flawlessly. At the same time, each Great Titan placed his own champion elsewhere in the world. With each of the Great Titans' schemes set in motion, it was finally time for them to emerge into the world.  
Cataclysm and Revelation
In considering their entrance into the world, the Great Titans found an opportunity to further stoke the fires of chaos in the world. They revealed their presence to the people and their lesser kin by unleashing the power of their World Runes. In the east, Ouðri opened a vast gorge beneath the capital of the largest kingdom. In the west, Fællri brought the sea to the slopes of a mountain a thousand miles inland, drowning the fertile fields of a dozen nations. In the north, Aðri blotted out the light and plunged a coalition of tribes into a bitter winter. In the south, Eirdri summoned forth the Fire beneath the Earth, forcing the mountains to belch thick and noxious plumes of molten rock and ash into the sky.   All across the world, people looked to the heavens in shock and horror as Ænsri halted the flow of time, and forced the sun, moon, and stars to remain unmoving for three days. From the fringes of civilization, Geiðri called forth hordes of beasts and titanspawn to attack the kingdoms of man. In every crypt and every graveyard the shades of the dead returned from the great beyond as Hrælnri summoned them back to the world of the living.   As chaos and confusion reigned across the world, the Great Ones made their declaration: the time had come to crown a king above kings, a singular champion baptised in blood and misery, who would seize the power of the eighth World Rune and rule over all existence. The lesser kin of the Great Titans wasted no time and each declared that they would be the champion, unaware that the Great Titans' preferred puppets already dwelled among them.  
The Eighth Titanswar
Though there were a handful of islands of stability in the world, tenuously held together by the hard work and willpower of the good kings that remained, the rest had been plunged into a bloody conflict even deadlier than that which had transpired in the seventh cycle. The Great Titans' puppets performed as they had been designed to, leaving a trail of death, destruction, and misery in their wake as they carved a path through the world, slaughtering all who stood in their way.   One by one the remaining good kings fell prey to the madness of war, torn from their thrones by their most trusted, slain out of fear, or driven out by those who took advantage of the chaos. The handful of flickering lights faltered and were snuffed one by one by the rising tide of darkness. The world nearly drowned in blood. It seemed that the eighth cycle would end as all the cycles before it, with a desperate fight to be the last one standing.  
Fighting Back
The handful of good kings that remained finally saw that playing the defensive game would only hasten their demise. Using every ounce of political clout, wit, influence, and wealth that they had remaining, they mustered their forces to fight back against the titans and their war-mad kin. Though some suffered devastating defeats and saw their kingdoms shatter in the wake of their failure, others were more fortunate and managed to survive their fights.   With each victory, however minor or costly, the few good kings that remained grew stronger. Every battle, every betrayal, served to winnow the wheat from the chaff, those kings too unprepared or too weak to stand against the tide. Little by little, the kings that persevered built their kingdoms stronger. They clawed prosperity from the grip of war and fought tooth and nail to preserve what little joy they could scrape from the bloodstained earth.   Over time they attracted those who were disillusioned by the war, and those who wished that the seemingly-endless violence would cease. They bolstered their numbers and strengthened their forces. They were as ants, each hardly worth the attention of the titans on their own, but more than capable of causing harm together. The tide began to turn and in the places where the good kings ruled, some semblance of order was reestablished.   The eighth titanswar ground to a halt, a fragile balance between the war-mad and those who simply wanted to live.   The Great Titans could not abide this. For a time, they ceased the hostilities between their chosen champions and sent the seven puppets to break the balance. They had no intention to share Binðr with each other. Their greed for the eighth World Rune was simply too overpowering. However, they could countenance a temporary cooperation, if only to see the war to a hasty conclusion.   In the desperate race to claim Binðr, one fact escaped the notice of even the Great Titans themselves: the first puppet, the champion created to serve the seven Great Titans equally, was nowhere to be seen.  
Frozen in Time
Born of the commingled blood of the seven Great Titans and possessed of a soul in seven parts, the first champion was a unique existence. Through the essence of each Great Titan, the ability to wield all of the seven World Runes dwelled within him. For all the power that was at his fingertips, he was a puppet first and foremost. He was created with a will subservient to the Great Titans and could not act on his own whims and desires without their consent.   When the Great Titans placed the first champion in the world, they promptly ignored him and went on to enact each of their own schemes. For all that he wished to explore the world, he could do naught but stand rooted to the spot, his whole world restricted to the small forest clearing before him, as the wills of the Great Titans embedded in the seven pieces of his soul clashed endlessly about what his first step should be.  
The Living Monument
As the years wore on and the Great Titans furthered their schemes in distant realms, the first champion could only observe as the tiny slice of the world before him changed. One summer, two younglings wandered into his clearing. They looked up at him and gawked, eyes shining. They played around his feet until the light of the sun dimmed, scampering home like mice before the sky turned dark. He envied them their freedom and the spectre of the beast within reared its head. He longed to crush them under his heel, to tear away their childlike joy for daring to laugh and smile as he suffered the disagreements of his masters' wills.   As the years came and went, the younglings—a boy and a girl—returned day after day to the champion's clearing. For some time, their visits only stoked the hatred in the champion's heart but as he watched them change, as they became a young man and a young woman and the forest thinned, his loathing of them waned. They were his only entertainment apart from the critters that dwelled in the woods, and he grew to begrudgingly look forward to their visits.   The two called him the Living Monument, and spoke to him of their joys and their sorrows—their lives. They spoke to him and of him as if they would a god, and each time prayed for his continued protection and guidance before they left to return to the world that was beyond the champion's reach. They asked why he never moved nor asked anything of them like the other gods that dwelled among the people. They asked if he was lonely, and if he would like a temple like those dedicated to the others, or perhaps a shrine as it was all that the young man and woman could afford to build.   Unbeknownst to them, the Great Titans had created the instrument of their own destruction. Like their lesser kin, the Great Titans were incomplete beings, bereft of the gift of goodness for they were created as such. In piecing together the parts of incomplete creatures, they unwittingly contrived to create a being that, while still imperfect, was more complete than they.   In his chest, the champion felt a stirring of warmth in his otherwise-cold heart.  
Growing Older
As the years wore on, the young man and the young woman came less frequently than before. They were getting older, they told the champion, and had responsibilities that kept them away. Still, they thanked him for protecting and guiding them despite their sparser visits. Though he knew that in truth, he could neither protect nor guide them, the champion willed it to be so even though there was bitterness in his heart that they no longer came every day.   Thereafter, each time they visited, the champion struggled bitterly with his instinct. He did not want to wish them harm, despite every fiber of his nature dictating that he do so. He knew they would not know even if he did, for they could not know his thoughts, but he believed the principle of it mattered.   One day, the pair stopped visiting. The champion languished for months, fearing for the worst. The man returned some time later, alone and seemingly in a hurry. He told the champion of all he had missed, that he and the woman had wed and started a family of their own, that as soon as the children were older they would be visiting again, more often, because they planned to build the shrine they once spoke to him about, and a house in his clearing besides. Before departing, still short of breath, the man thanked the champion for all that he had done.   The champion fought the surge of anger that poured into his heart. There were a thousand questions he desired to ask, despite knowing that he could not. Of them, one echoed endlessly in his mind: "Why did you abandon me?" He swallowed his fury and his rage, choosing to focus on the relief that they had remembered him and would come back, soon. He looked forward to the day.  
A New Paradigm
The young man, as he promised, returned with the young woman and their three children. They carried with them their worldly possessions and old, rusted tools that had certainly seen better days. That day, they did not leave. They slept at the champion's feet and prayed fervently for his protection.   The next day they built a shrine and made an offering of food, water, and incense before they started work on a shelter and later, a house. They built pens for their livestock, and tilled the earth for their fields. The champion watched them and admired their hard work and dedication, their perseverance through even the difficult and disastrous days. One of the children died, one winter, and was laid to rest at the champion's feet.   The champion felt a deep rage that frustrated him to no end for he could not act on it. He raged not at the burial of the boy at his feet, but at what he saw as the unfairness of their lives. But the world, bereft of mercy, continued on. The sun rose and set. The snow fell. Time marched inexhaustibly on.   As the rest of the world was plunged into war, the champion and the little family that worshipped him as their guardian god, remained ensconced in their little pocket of peace. Their routine seemed as if it would never change, until the first refugee arrived—a young man, gravely injured, just looking for some place to flee from the madness of the war that consumed the world.   The champion raged at the intrusion, but the fire in his heart was quelled when he saw the family take the boy in with no hesitation. He questioned their kindness. Did they not know the danger of inviting a stranger into their home? He asked himself, for he could not ask them. Nevertheless, his suspicions did not come true. The boy was grateful, and he worked in the fields to repay the family. He built his own small home in the clearing, and began to pray to the champion for guidance and protection as well.   The boy was not the first refugee to arrive. As the years wore on, they trickled in from far and wide, all looking to escape the horrors of the world beyond. Each time, the champion thought that the fragile peace of his clearing would be ruined with death and betrayal and yet, it never was. Time and again the people surprised him with their kindness and the air rang with the sound of joy.   The champion's nature drove him to deception, cruelty, and slaughter but in his heart, he felt a strange and new desire, an envy that for once did not feel as poisonous as that which he'd felt before. He wanted to make people smile like the family did. He wanted to make them laugh and cry in relief. He wanted to be good despite all the forces that compelled him to do evil.  
The Flames of War
Over time, the trickle of refugees became a tide. Though the denizens of the village that had sprouted by the champion's feet somehow found a way to feed and shelter everyone, the atmosphere changed. As the champion understood it, everyone was tense and afraid as the war was approaching their little bubble of peace. Their fears proved founded as sooner than anyone expected, war came knocking at their doors.   A warrior wearing a helmet styled in the shape of a wolf appeared at the outskirts of town and gave the people an ultimatum: join the local warlord's army or perish. Some few were moved. Fear of death pushed them to abandon their hopes of living a life away from the war. Most refused to cave to the demand for they had sought the village to escape the horrors of war.   On this occasion the champion knew that he had the power to help the people, to protect them, but his nature, the purpose of his birth, stayed his hand. He could only watch, helpless, as a day later, the ultimatum expired, the warrior returned with an army at his back. There was neither mercy nor quarter spared for the powerless villagers, most of whom were slaughtered where they stood by a hail of arrows.   The villagers fled to the champion's feet, praying, begging for his intervention as the army approached, leaving bodies in its wake. The family that had once been the champion's only companions, lowered their heads and waited for the inevitable. The champion could not abide this. He fought against the bindings that held him in place with all his might and more. He was unable to budge so much as an inch from the place the Great Titans had left him but he did not need to.   The champion's struggles bore fruit in a momentary loosening of his bindings. In that half-heartbeat, he reached deep within himself and unleashed the power of all seven World Runes in concert. A wall of Earth rose around the boundaries of the village, ringed by a deep moat filled with Water. A bright flash of Illumination blinded the enemy and halted their advance while Fire made the water of the moat boil.   Against the enemy, the champion brought Time to bear. They aged in their suits of armor, their skin turning to parchment, their bones to dust. He called to the lush forest, filled with Life, and summoned its beasts into the fray. Finally, with Soul, he brought the fallen back to life with a single purpose: slay the interlopers before returning to the dirt.   Faced with the combined power of seven World Runes, the enemy was obliterated.   In the aftermath, the people of the village lavished the champion with praise and thanks. Offerings of food, drink, incense, and gold which he knew they did not have much of were heaped on the shrine at his feet—so much so that the wooden structure, having weathered the elements for many years, collapsed under the weight.  
Creator's Return
Having created innumerable worlds since last he visited the void, Einäg-Köll was once again tired. Craving the solace of the void, he crossed all of creation, following the beacon he'd left on the Navel so that he might never lose it in the unfathomable vastness of the cosmos. To his surprise, he found that the void was not quite how he'd left her. He had expected that there would be creatures to keep her company, embraced by her gentle emptiness, but not what he found.   Einäg-Köll was a good god, and that which he found on the world that the Navel had created appalled him. The evils and atrocities being committed moment after moment before his eyes shook him to his core. He had seen such things before, on visits to worlds created by his evil counterparts, but he had thought, as all the gods had thought, that good gods could only create good, and evil gods could only create evil.   Though his faith was shaken, Einäg-Köll reflected on how such a thing could have transpired and found fault within himself for leaving no concept of moral guidance in the Navel. He had thought the void capable of providing such a force, having found her so kind and comforting, but he realized that she did not have will and consciousness in the same way that he did. Though exhausted from performing his duties elsewhere in the cosmos, Einäg-Köll knew that he could not, in good conscience, let circumstances lie as they were. He needed to rectify his mistake.  
Making Amends
Einäg-Köll intuited that there would be no simple solution to the evils that plagued the world. Further, he did not think that he could intervene, directly. He found value in this strange world, created without the guiding hand of a god, capable of good and evil alike. He did not wish to pollute its unique existence with his hand. To say nothing of how creatures regarded as gods had caused the world's troubles, to begin with. Even had he not thought it worthwhile to keep his involvement to a minimum, Einäg-Köll was not certain that his intervention would not cause things to decline further.   There was, however, one element that Einäg-Köll could influence, in his judgment, without aggravating the war on the surface: the Navel. He examined the artifact that he'd left behind and, through it, watched the entire history of the world unfold. He realized, to his surprise, that the World Runes the Navel fabricated represented the fundamental building blocks of creation and was amazed that even a mere fragment of his power, lacking more than a basic consciousness with a base directive, could comprehend such secrets of the cosmos.   After briefly studying all that the Navel had created, Einäg-Köll removed from it the fragment of power that he'd left behind. He feared that in its quest to fulfill its primal instinct to care for its creations, it would reach beyond the concepts that underpinned the cosmos and invite the attention and power of eldritch outer gods that sought the destruction of the cosmos. After laying a seal on the eighth World Rune so that it could not be seized without his knowing, he turned his eyes to the world, enshrouded himself in mortal flesh, and departed to seek a light that could hold back the tide of darkness that was spilling over the land.  
An Almost-Futile Search
Einäg-Köll roamed the Earth for many a year, crossing hill and dale, land and sea, searching for one to whom he could entrust the task of fighting for the light. He visited the kingdoms of good that yet survived the combined offensive of the seven Great Titans' forces. In each one, he saw promise. In each one, he was disappointed. Mortal man seemed ill-suited to the task at hand, for he'd born witness to even the most virtuous kings give in to base instinct and carnal impulse.   It was some time, long thereafter, when Einäg-Köll had almost surrendered, when he happened to come upon a wall of earth surrounded by a moat of boiling water. Through it he could hear the ringing sound of joyous laughter, and the low murmur of happy people. He introduced himself as a refugee, as he always had, and he was welcomed with warmth and open arms. Past the walls he found a people that seemed untouched by the war.   Einäg-Köll was surprised to find that the people lived not lavish lives, as he would have expected from a place with such defenses. They lived humbly and generously. They were hardworking, kind, and dutiful. The small city was not without its problems, but the people faced them head on and resolved them without resorting to violence unless absolutely necessary.   It wasn't long after arriving that Einäg-Köll learned of the Living Monument that was said to protect the town. Feeling a surge of hope within that he had not felt in many long years, Einäg-Köll entreated the villagers to take him to see this Living Monument. He was surprised to find that the temple was open to all, and that even the poorest of the poor were welcome to speak to the god that dwelt within.  
Destined Meeting
When he entered the temple, Einäg-Köll was surprised to find that it was rather bare but for furnishings to ensure that visitors would be comfortable. It was not decorated in lavish silks and rugs, nor gilded like so many others that he'd seen, even in the kingdoms of the good kings. In the back, standing stock still on a small patch of dirt, was a living titan. Einäg-Köll could not conceive of a reason why it should not move until he approached and saw, with the eyes of a god, what the titan held within.   In the blink of an eye, Einäg-Köll witnessed the history of the titan before him. He saw how it struggled against its nature, the temptation to, as so many of his kin do, slaughter and raze. He saw the way it protected the town, the way it wept within when the ancestors of the family that governed the temple, its first friends and companions, passed into the next life. Einäg-Köll realized that, perhaps, their meeting had been predestined by the mysterious will of the cosmos.  
Made Whole
In the first champion, Einäg-Köll saw the chance to strike a balance between the light and the darkness. And so, Einäg-Köll raised a hand to the titan and spoke, in a voice that only it could hear. "Would you protect and fight for the light, should I make you whole again?"   The first champion, surprised by the presence of the god before him, nevertheless answered instantly. "Yes," he said, in the silence of his mind, despairing that he could not properly answer the question. For many years he had yearned to tear free of his bindings, to work actively to shield his people and all people from the war that consumed the rest of the world. For centuries he had languished and agonised at his failure to do so.   Much to the champion's surprise, Einäg-Köll heard him. "So shall it be," the god said, placing a hand on the champion's chest. With a breath that filled the champion with such warmth he feared he would melt like snow during the thaw, Einäg-Köll united the seven warring pieces of the champion's soul.   Einäg-Köll did not remove the evil, conceit, greed, and deceit of the Great Titans that dwelled in the fragments of their souls. He believed that the champion's struggle to be good despite the viler parts of his being not only made him unique among the titans, but also served to hone him and make him stronger. Instead, Einäg-Köll filled in the gaps between the seven pieces with a soul created from the champions' hard-fought goodness, which subdued the seven disparate wills within the champion and finally gave him the ability to act on his own whims.  
Lord and Champion
With a wave of his hand, Einäg-Köll plucked Binðr from the Navel. In the outside world, the disappearance of the Navel Binðr caused quite a great commotion. Stripped of the final vestiges of its power, the Navel fell from the bosom of the void and crashed into the Earth by the sea. The force of its impact gouged a deep scar in the Earth into which the Water flooded, forming a mere.   In the aftermath, the Great Titans turned against one another. They each accused the other of stealing Binðr even though they knew full well that none of them could have possibly seized it without the others' knowledge. They could not conceive of any other creature who could do so, and thus they turned their blame to each other. As the infighting of the Great Titans grew worse, the relentless assault on the kingdoms of good slowed and they were granted a much-needed, if momentary, reprieve.   Within the temple, as the champion's long-frozen limbs began to move for the first time, Einäg-Köll proferred the World Rune to him. He impressed upon the champion that it was a gift, one that could be accepted or rejected at his discretion. He explained what Binðr could do, its ability to grant the strength, decisiveness, and wisdom of a good ruler, the ability to inspire heroism and good in one's fellows that any good leader had, but most of all absolute Dominion over all the world. He left the choice to the champion, though it did not need to be said that accepting the World Rune would make the champion's duty far easier.   What Einäg-Köll presented as a binary choice, the champion did not see as such. He chose a third way. He asked the god to seal the World Rune so that it could no longer grant absolute Dominion over all the world, nor the ability to inspire heroism or rally one's fellows to a cause. He said that he would accept the strength, decisiveness, and wisdom of a good ruler, because he felt himself lacking in those regards, but also said that if he could not inspire men with his own heart, and the words that danced on his lips, then surely his banner was not one worth following.   Einäg-Köll was satisfied with the champion's answer. He did as he was asked, carving away the parts of the World Rune for which the champion felt no desire. He banished the fragments back to the aether, destroying them for all of time. He asked if the champion understood that, by removing parts of his World Rune, he would never be the equal of the Great Titans.   The champion said that he understood, that he did not need to be their equal because, with his people, who every day struggled to overcome their base impulses like he did, together they could overcome even the worst of odds. To this end, he asked Einäg-Köll for one last favor: to be made more like the people, so that his seed might quicken in the womb of womankind, so that, should he perish, his blood, in his progeny, would continue the struggle against the darkness.   Einäg-Köll granted the champion's request. To him, he bestowed the name of Binðri, steward of the World Rune Binðr. His task done, the god departed the mortal realm to rest once more in the emptiness of the void before continuing on to create countless worlds in the cosmos beyond.  
Æða
At long last freed from the bindings that held him fast to the same spot for millennia, Binðri walked among his people for the first time. They gaped and gawked and bowed in supplication and reverence. He asked each one ro raise their head with pride for all the good that they had accomplished.   When the day grew old and the cool of night laid across the land, Binðri returned to the temple. There he came face to face with Æða, a beautiful young woman, a descendant of the young man and young woman who, all those years ago, had first kept him company. Never had Binðr had a more dedicated attendant, a more faithful and devout priestess. Her kindness touched the hearts of all the men who came to the temple, and her generosity swayed many and more to tears.   Perhaps it was selfishness—Binðri did not care to call himself a virtuous creature, after all—but he felt her dedication to serving her fellow man paled in comparison to the simple kindness that she showed him. There were, after all, many in the city who did good in his name but few did good to him. Æða was the exception.   When the nights grew long and cold and the braziers of coal that burned around Binðri barely reached him with their warmth, Æða, unfailingly, sat beside him and read him stories. Stories of good and valorous men, who cut through darkness with gleaming swords and burning resolve. Heroes and kings who fought tirelessly for the light.  
Irredeemable
For all that Æða was soft, and gentle, and kind, she did not turn away from the ugliness of the world. She told Binðri stories of the fallen ones, men, heroes, and kings who gave in to their baser natures—who allowed the evil of Binðri's kin to seep into their hearts and corrupt them. Now that he stood before her, able to move and speak as all men could, he asked her the question that burned in his mind each time she read such a story to him: "Why don't the good kings and heroes simply destroy those fallen men? Would the world not be better in their absence?"   Æða smiled, in that soft way that she would always smile when she was alone with Binðri. The way the moonlight fell across her face from a nearby window made Binðri's heart stir. "Because darkness lurks in all of us. It dwells in our nature, where it can never truly be removed. And yet, our souls, which separate us from the feral beasts, allow us to struggle against this inner darkness. To overcome it. Those men who are lost to evil may yet find the light and we owe it to them to let them try. Light is more than the absence of darkness, and were we to remove all darkness from the world, the light would be no greater for it."   For all the atrocities that Binðri had witnessed his kin perpetrate, he could not help but wonder if perhaps they were not all beyond salvation. "My kin were endowed souls by the Great Titans. Perhaps they might find redemption as well?" he asked.   A look of sadness crossed Æða's face. "I'm afraid they are beyond saving, my lord," she said. "For you see, man is born with a soul. Your kin were given theirs. Their souls are touched, irrevocably, with the evil of the Great Ones and I'm afraid that no light is strong enough to reach them."  
Legacy
"Then am I irredeemable?" Binðri asked, doubt creeping into his chest.   Æða smiled and placed her hand against Binðri's heart, where the soul made whole by Einäg-Köll resided. "No, my lord," she said to him.   "Why?" Binðri asked, placing his hand on hers.   "Because you are different than them," Æða said. "You are more."   In that moment, under the light of the moon, all the love and affection that had been bound in Binðri's heart by the cold, unfeeling wills of the seven soul fragments within him, let loose by Einäg-Köll's intervention, spilled forth. He pressed his lips against hers, in the same way that innumerable couples wed before him in the past did. She returned his love tenfold and he wept with joy at the sensation.   Under the light of the moon, they coupled, and, as Einäg-Köll had allowed, Binðri's seed quickened in her womb. It would be the beginning of Binðri's long and proud legacy, but such was fate that he would need to depart before he could bear witness to the birth of his son.  
To War, for Peace
Binðri stayed by Æða's side for some time. Though he was keen on doing his duty and ending the war, he was also loath to leave without enjoying the company of his beloved and his people for as long as he could. For some few days, the city rang louder with laughter and joy but the festivity was to be short lived as, soon thereafter, Binðri made known his intention to leave and put an end to the war.   The people were dismayed by Binðri's declaration. They pled with him to stay, to hide from the war like the rest of them, but he remained steadfast. They asked him how he would protect the city from so far away, and he responded by drawing seven stelae from the temple grounds, in each of which he instilled the essence of the World Runes. He placed the stones at the seven auspicious places of the city and said that in his absence, they would protect the people.   When the people begged to know why Binðri felt obliged to end the war, he told them that it was his duty. He told them of the divine Einäg-Köll and the powers with which he had been endowed. He told them that as someone with the strength to make a difference, it was his duty to protect those who could not protect themselves.   When the people asked if he would truly go alone, Binðri told them that his every instinct told him to flee from the nigh-insurmountable odds that he would face, to hide away until either the rest of the world was destroyed or the war fizzled out on its own. He also told them that it was his choice to depart, regardless, because he wanted to make a difference. He said that he would not ask them to come with him because he knew that their strength could not compare to his, but that he would nevertheless welcome those with the courage to join him on his march.   19 men stepped forward—husbands, brothers, sons—all willing to join their lord on the battlefield, to lay down their lives to protect those they loved, and to fight for what they believed in. Every man, down to the last, was a soldier that had fled from the war before, wounded more often than not. Each one had built a new life for himself in the city, had laid down their weapons to take up the needle, the hammer, or the plow. Before Binðri, they once again took up their blades, dull and rusted from the passing of the years, and declared their solemn vow to fight until their last breaths.   Binðri welcomed them and praised their courage and virtue. He dubbed them his Knights of the Broken Blade, after one of the older men's swords broke while drawing it from its sheath. He bade them settle their affairs and say their goodbyes for their departure was on the break of next morn.   Later that evening, in secret, Binðri gave an eighth stone to Æða. It was a stone split into a black half and a white half by a single sinous line down the middle, attached as a pendant to a fine silver chain that he clasped around Æða's neck with his own hands. Within the stone, Binðri ensconced his essence and the essence of the World Rune in his possession, Binðr. To her, he said that the stone bore with it the right and responsibility to rule over and protect the city in his absence. He bade her to remember him, should he not return.   The next dawn, the city gathered at the gate to say their farewells to Binðri and the Knights of the Broken Blade. They left with neither cheer nor aplomb, but to the heavy silence of a city in mourning. Sharing one final kiss, Binðri bade Æða do one final favor for him. He asked her to give the stone to their son should he fail to return, not when the boy was born, but when she thought him ready to rule. With steely eyes and heavy hearts, the Knights and their Lord departed.
Date of First Recording
ca. 100.30 NL
Date of Setting
The beginning of time
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