Charity's Lovers Myth in Tiyu Amara | World Anvil

Charity's Lovers

"I feel like it's an awful lot of hassle to go through."
"Well, sometimes love is worth it, if you want it to be."
The story of Charity's Lovers is a common tale throughout Abravost, particularly in the Republic of Skarhu and the Vosti Empire. Dating back to well before the two were separate countries, it tells of a deal made between a young noblewoman and the Divinity of Charity, and the tasks she undertook to gain Charity's power.

Legend

In Vosti-owned Skarhu, the Marquis of Tofanin lived with his only daughter in a village near the city of Plumtris. Kiana, considered beautiful and intelligent by her peers, was long sought as a wife by many nobles, only for the Marquis to turn them away. He had only one husband in mind for his daughter - the son of the Vosti Emperor, Prince Zaloren.   Kiana herself, of course, had her own intentions, and soon set her heart upon a kindly peasant in the village by the name of Riha, who would sneak extra spools of thread into the purchases made by the Tofanin house. The two met rarely, and always quietly, but the two knew with confidence where their hearts lay.   When the Marquis announced that he had successfully arranged a marriage for Kiana with Zaloren, she went to the village and to its temple to the Divinities, seeking counsel. More than counsel, she sought a way to avoid the fate allotted to her by her father, and to forge the path she desired.   The Divinity of Charity came to her in the temple, and said that while this would be no task accomplished with the wave of a hand, they would give her the power to run free if she could complete three tasks:
  • Weave a crown using the long doralweed grasses outside the village
  • Bring to the temple a symbol of great authority
  • Surrender something dear and precious to the Divinity
  • Though Kiana made many offers for the third then and there, Charity refused them all, and counselled her to set about the other tasks, as they would give her time to consider something worth surrendering.   In the following days Kiana would trek out to the outskirts of the village to collect doralweed, collecting it from the muddy marsh in which they grew. It took her time to know how best to weave them, as mud dried them stiff and coarse. Her first attempt would be thrown out by one of her father's cleaners, mistaking it from rubbish trekked in by another servant.   While she weaved, she considered her second task, and set her mind on her father's signet ring, handed down through the generations from the Emperor who had first made them Marquis. While her father dealt in his business, she snuck into his chambers and pilfered the ring, hiding it in the woven doralweed crown. Before he could recognise its absence, she brought both to the temple, and asked the Divinity if they would accept two tasks - try as she might, she had thought of nothing else she owned that Charity would accept as precious enough.   Charity refused her, as she still had something in her power to give. Frustrated, Kiana left, and sought Riha for comfort.   The next day, the Marquis confronted Kiana about the whereabouts of the ring, his servants having figured out her involvement. When she denied it, the same servants informed the Marquis about her meeting with Riha, and the Marquis swiftly set out to interrogate her.   Unable to beat her father to the house of her love, Kiana instead made for the temple once more, and begged Charity to intervene, offering all she had - her money, her clothes, her home, even the chance of staying in Tofanin.   At this last point, the Divinity finally agreed, having truly wanted Kiana to recognise that what she wanted would involve great personal sacrifice. With that, they transported Kiana to Riha's home, arriving moments before her father's guards, and empowered her with godlike magic. After a confrontation with the Marquis, Kiana and Riha left the town, briefly pursued by his guards before Kiana's new magic stopped them in their tracks.   The two lovers, empowered by Charity's blessing, set out to find a new home far from all they knew, and would live long and loving lives together.

    Variations

    Multiple versions of Charity's Lovers have been told throughout the centuries, with alterations to places and titles being the most common. Larger changes involve swapping in different tasks for Kiana to complete, such as retrieving a magical item from a cave in the marsh, or carving a small statuette from a hard stone.   The most significantly different variant of this tale removes the tasks aspect entirely, instead having all of Kiana's efforts be towards fulfilling the requirement of surrendering something precious, with her increasing desperation being what causes trouble with the Marquis.

    History

    The story seems to originate from the 100s BC in Skarhu, supposedly descending from an older oral tradition. In popular culture it is stated to be set in the 200s BC, sometimes specifically 226 BC, asserting that the Riha in the story is the historical figure Riha Vrenprela, one of the last known speakers of the native Skarhan language.   While it is not impossible that the story has a grain of truth, it is likely 'inspired by' rather than recounting actual events. If 226 BC is held to be the date of events, the first problem is that there was no Vosti Emperor at this time - rather, two Empresses (Taris II and Veniya) reigned during this year, with the last Emperor reigning in 265 and the next in 222. Additionally, while Zaloren is a very common name amongst the Vosti Imperial family throughout history, this period had remarkably few, due to following on from the War of Vosti Succession.   It is also noteworthy that the title Marquis of Tofanin, given to Kiana's father, has never been a title in Vosti-held Skarhu. There was a lesser title, the Baron of Tofanin, whose daughter would be very unlikely to be presented as a marriage candidate for any Vosti prince in serious imperial contention. While the titles and dates are fake, the core concept of a noblewoman seeking divine aid to avoid an arranged marriage with a nobleman of higher standing is a common one in stories of this time, and its possible the standing of the parties involved were made more significant to increase the drama.
    Date of First Recording
    ~100s BC
    Date of Setting
    ~200s BC
    Related Ethnicities
    Planar Magic by Isaac Thompson

    Divine Pact

    Stories abound of mortals gaining divine power, some of which are even verifiable. While distant, the Divinities are well known to occasionally craft deals with mortals.   However, the format of the deal described in the most common versions of Charity's Lovers is extremely unusual. Typical divine contracts will involve offering the gods one thing - frequently limbs or body parts, and other times prized possessions, and apparently even memories.   Very rarely the mortal will be asked to perform tasks for the Divinity, but this is typically in the form of acting out the Divinity's domain - for example, a pactee to Justice would be expected to uphold Justice as often as reasonably possible, or a pactee to Wisdom might be asked to spread their knowledge.   Asking a prospective pactee to perform multiple tasks, involving more than one sacrifice of something held by the pactee, is not a situation found in any other story of divine pacts. Versions of Charity's Lovers that focus solely on the 'third' task are often addressing this criticism, as that structure is far more common.
    Flag of Skarhu by Isaac Thompson

    Legacy

    As a story of a Vosti noblewoman forsaking her empire's prince in favour of a Skarhan peasant, it is hardly surprising that Charity's Lovers have been a popular motif in Skarhan literature and art in the centuries since.   Notably, the story was used in speeches by the first Skarhan president, Resaven Berem, as an aspirational tale for the fledgling republic. In his example, the Collision that severed Skarhu from the Empire with the dangerous Shattered Strait had been the gods granting them their freedom from the 'arranged marriage' with the Vosti, enabling them to reconnect with their Skarhan roots.   As a result, it's very common for re-enactments and theatrical productions of the story to be held on or around the anniversary of the Republic's founding, cementing this allegory in the public consciousness. Naturally, this aspect is severely minimised in versions told in the Vosti Empire.

    Comments

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    Dec 17, 2023 21:00 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

    I always love to read about how myths and legends differ from the actual history. I was scared for a moment she would have to sacrifice her love and it would be a sad ending.