here was nothing.
And from nothing sprang a spark. With the spark, there arose light, and darkness; heat, and cold; form, and void; order, and chaos.
In due time, there was a host of Elder Spirits. born of the tension of opposites. They fought among themselves, until one of them said, "Let us make up a game, and let us call it the Grand Scheme. We shall people it with creations of our dreams, and it will be a great beauty."
She whom they call Neaervara met with him whom they call Yx, and together they gave birth to the First Stars. In that time the First Stars were in a huge sphere in the heavens, and all was good. And Naervara and Yx made more Stars to fill the sphere, until they grew tired of this sport and despaired of the Grand Scheme.
Then came he whom they call Den, and Den said, "Let us age the Stars and detroy them, and we shall see what is to come." He placed a hand upon the heart of the Stars, and they burst apart in great flame and heat, and all the Elder Spirits marvelled and agreed that it was indeed a great beauty. And Naervara and Yx gathered the remains and made more Stars for Den to destroy.
But Maela stole a bit of star-stuff, and out of it she fashioned worlds to circle the Stars. And all the Elder Spirits applauded her.
From the planets made of starstuff, Ellan fashioned Life. And this was indeed the greatest beauty of them all, and the Elder Spirits gathered about in admiration -- all but Ka, the Negator, who turned his face from the light of the Stars and chose instead to worship the empty dark.
So Ellan people all the worlds with Life, and Maela created more worlds out of starstuff to be home for more life. And these were the Gathered Worlds.
|aervara and Yx made the Second Stars in the form of a disk around the Gathered Worlds, with the starstuff that Den had created of the First Stars. In time Naervara and Yx made the Third Stars, and Maela began to fashion the first of the Scattered Worlds. Now Ellan, growing tired, did not wish to stir, so she threw life about on the Scattered Worlds, but many of them were too far, and did not receive much life at all.|
ow at this time, Life was vegetate and nonsapient. Even the ancestors of the Hlutr, even the Talebba themselves, had yet to be granted sapience.
It came to pass on a certain world, there was a small one, the very least of creatures, newborn and facing death. Maranna, the All-Mother, saw the little one's plight and summoned Jaseni, he of music. Jaseni sang to Timash, the love; Timash was moved with pity and saved the little one.
With kindness, so was cruelty born -- for the Grand Schme preserved the tension of opposites that had been present since the beginning. With love, hatred was born; with good, evil. And all the Elder Spirits were horrified at what had been allowed to enter the Grand Scheme. For now the Grand Scheme was no game, but real as the Elder Spirits themselves.
When Tha'p saw what had been done, he knew what must be -- that the Little Ones must have a way of guiding the tension of the Grand Scheme, lest that tension destroy the Grand Scheme itself. To the most advanced of Ellan's Little Ones, then, she gave the gift of intelligence. And so there came about on Brennis, the Talebba; on Paka Tel, the Great Ones, the Hlutr. And also, the Five Animal races gained intelligence: the Coruma of Messilinia, the Daamin of Verkorra, the Hchevidiire of Nnevichee, the Evellan of Pevve, and the Kareffi of the oceans of Daarsa. And to all of these Tha'p gave the power of altering the course of the Grand Schme, and the reason to distinguish between opposites. Thus Tha'p hoped that the Grand Scheme might preserve itself.
Now it came to pass that various of the children of Ellan learned to travel the spaces between her stars. The Hlutr, first, cast their spores through the Gathered Worlds and beyond; then the Daamin learned to fly the stargulfs on silver sailships, and they brought this gift to other worlds and to the other races. Now there was a time of happiness and of plenty in the Gathered Worlds, and long the Five Races consorted together, and with the Hlutr and the Talebba.
Now upon Messilinia there came one called Dettalean, later known as Gankeh, the Negator. Now Dettalean was esteemed a lord among the Coruma and the Daamin, and he had travelled far in his sailship, and had seen many worlds. And he gathered the tribes of the Coruma together on Messilinia, and thus he spoke to them: "We are the Coruma, and of all the Children of Ellan we alone are left without blessings. We have not the wisdom of the Daamin, nor the size of the Hcevidiire, nor the long life of the Evellan, nor even the freedom of the Kareffi. We are not powerful like the Hlutr, no indestructible like the Talebba. All that we have is a fondness for making things, and this does nothing for us. Once there were many tribes of Coruma; now the leaders can gather in a hall barely large enough for a good-sized meal."
Then others of the Coruma questioned him, saying, "What would you have us do? Our children are scattered onto many planets, and we cannot gather all the tribes as once we did."
Dettalean said to them, "It is the fault of the other Races. We are being destroyed by them. We must fight, and gain worlds that will be ours alone. Worlds where we may thrive and grow."
Now the Coruma did not know, but similar councils had been taking place on each of the other homeworlds of the Five Races. And soon, the work of Dettalean and others like him was fulfilled, and there erupted terrible conflicts in space and on the worlds, and Race was pitted against Race for a time that was long and dark.
Now it is said that the Elder Gods had met in High Court, and had determined to destroy their creations for misusing the gifts they had been given. And it is further said that Den visited each world in turn, spoke to Dettalean and others in the seeming of their own Races, and planted the seeds of these wars. But it is also said that not all the Elder Gods were in agreement, of which more will be told as the tale continues.
The Coruma, it is truthfully said, were talented at the making of things, more talented than the other Races. So it came that Dettalean, or his master Den, brought together all the craftsmen of the Coruma, and set them to work on a great weapon that would aid the Coruma in the wars. The craftsmen of the Coruma labored long and hard, and then they produced a huge device, made partly of the electronic circuits at which te Coruma so delighted, and partly of Talebba lifeforms, and partly of the living minds of those who had worked so long. This device gained even the mind of Dettalean Gankeh himself, for he perished before the device was completed, and his workers transferred his mind to the device.
Finally it was complete, and the Coruma called it the Gergathan. It was a huge thing, filling all of a great cave on Messilinia, and its power extended across the planet and into space. And it is said that Den enlisted the aid of Ellan herself upon the thing, for it gained life of its own, and it lived independent of its masters. And the Gergathan began the work for which it had been created, and it fought cunningly in the spacelanes. Soon all of the Gathered Worlds were threatened by the power of the Gergathan.
Now there was darkness and fear throughout the Grand Scheme. And members of all the Seven Races gathered on Verkorra for a conference. They made a pact to bring peace to the Gathered Worlds, to stop fighting amongst themselves. But the Coruma did not stop, and the Gergathan led them on to bring ruin to many a world.
Then it came that the Elder Gods once again put forth their power into the affairs of the Gathered Worlds. The Hlutr led an appeal to the Elder Gods, and that appeal was heard by Maranna, and Hesket, and Timash, and Jaseni. And Tha'p, who despaired to see his wonderful gift endangered, helped them to work. On Verkorra they brought forth a great thing, forged of the love of Maranna and Timash, the gift of Tha'p, and the song of Jaseni, which bound all the gifts together and gave them form. And so were formed the Singing Stones, of which much is told in story and song, and upon which depended the fate of the Grand Scheme.
Twice ten plus one were the Stones, their colors marvelous and ever-changing. Clear was their song, the joyful music of all that was alive in the Grand Scheme, and that music filled all of the valley on Verkorra where they lay, so that the valley was ever after known as Jasenien Resif; the Vale of Song.
The Singing Stones, it wa known, could bring an end to the awful power of the Gergathan -- were it but possible to deliver only one of them to the Gergathan itself. For much time this thing was attempted, over and over again, and always the attempt met with failure. The Gergathan was too strong, and now it had girdled Messilinia about with forces and beasts which could not be passed.
The Daamin and the Hlutr did not, however, lose heart, but continued in their task. Many were the brave souls of that time, who contained and turned back the powers of the Gergathan, and long will their names and deeds be remembered in song.
For five generations of the Coruma, the Gergathan's power waxed. The Seven Races despaired to see what it had wrought on Messilinia. For now that planet was waste, much of it used to fuel the Gergathan's war-machines, or to feed the terrible creatures it had bred from those of the Coruma who had once been its masters. Like a disease now Messilinia sat in the heart of the Gathered Worlds, and all lived in fear of the time when the Gergathan's forces would burst free and overcome all the rest of them.
Then, after five generations had passes, there came one to Verkorra, called by the Inner Voice that he could barely discern. He was of Coruma stock, and like Dettalean Gankeh he had travelled among the worlds, and the love of the Gathered Worlds was writ on his face and in his heart. His eyes now and again burned with a fire, then quenched in the color of the deepest sea. He was fair to look upon, and all how saw him, loved him. His name was Dirunde, which signifies "beautiful," but he was also called Forriva, because of the color of his eyes.
Dirunde Forriva stood before the Council of the Wise on Verkorra, his face bathed in the light of the Singing Stones, and he said, "Long has my race been under a shadow, for we made the Gergathan and unleashed its power upon the Gathered Worlds. I would wipe out that shadow, by bringing an end to the Gergathan's evil."
Then the Eldest of the Hlutr confronted him; but Dirunde Forriva did not flinch. And the Eldest said, "Little One, you are the least of us here. Many there are who have tried to penetrate the foul curtain of the Gergathan, and none have succeeded, even with the help of the Singing Stones. How will you do that which they could not?"
Dirunde Forriva faced the Wise, and his eyes answered the light of the Stones. "Long have I felt the call of the Gergathan, a fell force urging me to come to Messilinia just as the Inner Voice urged me to come here. I believe that the Gergathan wishes to use me for some purpose of its own, and that it will allow me to cross its barrier. Then will I be able to deliver the stroke of the Wise and end the foul thing's existence."
Now there was in the Council of the Wise, an ancient Daamin female, called Crettim Bruv. Her great wisdom was known to all. Now Crettim Bruv stood, faced the Stinging Stones, and fell under their spell. Her voice seemed to come, not from her, but from some other realm.
The Wise greatly esteemed the counsel of Crettim Bruv, but their desire to destroy the Gergathan was stronger than their fear for the future, so they gave Dirunde Forriva the smallest of the Stones, and there in Jasenien Resif they set about waiting; waiting for Dirunde Forriva to reach the Gergathan and deliver the stroke that would end its life.
Now Dirunde had a friend, also a Coruma, called simply Racash Forrivaen, for he was very fond of Dirunde.And when Racash saw that Dirunde prepared to go against the Enemy, his heart was filled with fear for his friend, and he begged Dirunde to take him along.
So they set off, in a sailship barely large enough for the two of them. The Stone Dirunde wore upon his breast, next to his heart; and when they were close together Racash could feel the beat of Stone and heart together.
Now the Gergathan sensed the coming of Dirunde from across space, and it was disturbed, for it knew what Dirunde carried. But the tribe of Forriva was a tool that the Gergathan had forged for generations, to be under its influence and subject to its will. Now it put forth that will, to reach Dirunde's mind; and in the ship, Dirunde stirred in his sleep and in the grip of disturbing dreams.
So it was that Dirunde and Racash arrived on Messilinia, and they came to Masgeren Resif, which is in the language of the Coruma "Valley of Evil." The Gergathan itself resent in Masgeren Resif, and the valley defended by all manner of terrible monsters -- but none barred the way of Dirunde and Racash, until at last they stood before the very gates of the Gergathan. Huge those gates were, of solid stone overlaid with strong metal, almost impossible to penetrate. But Dirunde was expected, and the gates swung open for him. As he entered, the gates swung shut, and almost they crushed Racash -- but Dirunde pulled his friend free at the last instant.
A long gallery led from the gates to the innermost chamber of the Gergathan, a gallery carved with horrible devices, and upon whose walls and distant ceiling writhed awful creatures that the Gergathan had imprisoned for its own fell purposes. These spit and clawed, and spewed forth terrible vapors at Dirunde and Racash, and several times the two almost swooned. Finally, though, they came to the inner chamber.
Geva Ganloohen this place was called, the Place of Despair -- although legend tells that in the dawn of time, it was Geva Kristenen, the Place of Dance. Here it was dark, and the huge form of the Gergathan could be sensed in shadow, overlooking the hall. Dirunde and Racash stood before the Gergathan, then, and Dirunde touched the Stone around his neck. The light of the Stone flickered, bringing a bit of light to the vast dark space.
Now Dirunde raised himself to his full height, and regarded the Gergathan. Then his art was filled with strange desires, and a veil was drawn over his perceptions, so that the world seemed strange to him.
The Gergathan's voice filled his mind, then, sibilant silky whisperings that faded back into the dark before he was fully aware of them. I come to it, it seemed to say, armed with the means to destroy our enemies. The Stone is ours, and through it we shall triumph over those who wait on foul Verkorra.
Dirunde reached for the Stone, but his hand stopped before contact. In his soul a great battle raged, between the music of the Stones and the discordant hissing of the Gergathan. Dirunde froze, while all about him the darkness writhed.
Then Racash reached out to touch his friend, and his hand was smitten with pain, and he felt the rage of the Gergathan.
When Dirunde saw his friend in pain, this broke the spell; he moved to Racash's aid. Then the Gergathan's fury was loosed, and beasts swarmed about the pair, trying to vrest the Stone from Dirunde. The two defended themselves, and Dirunde called for aid from the Stone. His appeal was heard by the Hlutr, and they told the Wise on Verkorra, and all the thoughts of the Wise were with them. Then the Stone that Dirunde held blazed brightly, and Geva Ganloohen was filled with the song of Jaseni, and the awful creatures of the Gergathan drew back, frightened.
But as he prepared to deliver the final stroke, Dirunde lowered the Stone and once again the thoughts of the Gergathan moved in his mind. The Coruma can rule the Gathered Worlds. We can have power over all other Races, and no longer will my people be despised. I sought to wipe out the shadow over the Coruma -- how better, than to join the Gergathan and rule forever?
Dirunde then fell under that spell, for he and his tribe had been created for just this destiny. And he gave himself over to the Gergathan, and approached the terrible form with the Stone held before him like an offering.
There was a trembling on Verkorra, and many of the Wise hid their faces in shame, that they had brought the Gathered Worlds to the brink of this doom. Crettim Bruv, though, kept her head high, and sang clearly with the Stones.
And in the darkness of Geva Ganloohen, Racash Forrivaen moved forward to lay hi hands upon his friend. He spun Dirunde about, to face awa from the Gergathan . Now Dirunde's eyes blazed with terrible fire, and Racash was afraid at the sight of his friend, afraid at what he knew he must do. He took out his knife, and plunged it home in Dirunde's body; then he took the Stone and held it high, calling upon Tha'p and Hesket, Marranna and Timash, and most of all upon Jaseni.
Then the Council of the Wise on Verkorra put forth their full efforts, and the sound of their song echoed through the Gathered Worlds. And the finger of Hesket touched the Gergathan, so that icy winds swirled in the chambers; and Jaseni bore it home, and the Gate of the Gergathan was broken, and light burst in upon Geva Ganloohen. The huge form of the Gergathan faded to a mere wisp upon the wind, and then it was gone.
Then Racash fell to the side of his friend Dirunde, and he was overcome with joy that the beat of life still echoed in Dirunde's body. As one returning a loaned treasure, Racash placed the Stone on Dirunde's breast; but when it made contact the Stone melted away like ice in the hand, and then it was gone, and all trace of its song disappeared.
Long the two remained in the ruins of Geva Ganloohen, until Dirunde regained consciousness. The Racash helped Dirunde to their ship, and they returned to Verkorra to face the Wise.
It was the plan of the Wise to now destroy the caverns and halls of the Gergathan entirely, to bring forth terrible weapons from the wars and to singe the blight from off the face of Messilinia. But Dirunde stood before the Wise, his eyes burning with their own fire, and said, "The Gergathan is destroyed, and never again will its power return. If we now wipe out all evidence of its existence, then our descendants may again fall into the mistake of creating another thing as evil as that we have just dispatched. Let the corpse of the Gergathan remain, and let all Messilinia be given over that it may remain a symbol of caution to those who come after us."
The Wise accepted Dirunde's reasons, and all was done as he had said. But Racash and Crettim Bruv looked at one another, and each knew that Dirunde's look was the same as he had worn in Geva Ganloohen when the Gergathan took his will. But both of them lived to the very end of their lives without knowing any more of the story, and each died content that the evil had been vanquished.
Dirunde, then, stayed on Verkorra for a little while longer, and he bore children to all the tribes of the Coruma. But the lure of open spaces was too much, and one morning they found him gone, flying out into the spaces of the Gathered Worlds, and he was never seen again.
And so ends the story of Dirunde Forriva.
ow, Forriva's sons and daughters were mighty leaders among the Coruma, and they brought the tale of Dirunde Forriva to all the tribes on all the worlds, from Pevve to Paka Tel.
Now these were the tribes of the Coruma: that of Forriva, and Dgevvenagos, and Looshra, and Henvennet, who were all of the land of Deliph. Remraca, Dwarsh, Resifshra, Letchfeelen, and Maeladha of Ivefor; Naalorensel, Masgath, Gestkre, Delengeva of Delengeva; Helyartary, Medanim, Phelneeth, Evagos, Apfev, Anraca, and Dhabitar of Elgres; and sad Detala. Now the number of the tribes is twice ten plus one, like unto the number of Singing Stones. For this reason Apfmas of the tribe of Forriva stood before the Wise of Verkorra, and demanded that the Singing Stones be given into the safekeeping of the Coruma.
But the Daamin seer Crettim Bruv stood to address th Wise, and she spoke the following: "The Singing Stones were delivered to Verkorra by the Elder Gods, and they are a gift to the Daamin. We alone, of all the Seven Races, possess the ability to walk in the Forever Dreams, and we alone of all the Seven Races are fit to hold the Stones until such time as they are needed again.
"However, we know that the Stones may be used for much good, and we are loath to keep them for our own use alone. Therefore, let it be written and sung that each of the Seven Races shall be given one Stone to guard, and the rest shall remain here on Verkorra for all."
Then did Crettim Bruv and the Wise divide the Stones according to the will of the Daamin. To Brennis went the clearest of the gems, where it was cared for by the Talebba. To the Hchevidiire was given the dearest of the Stones, which was milky in color. The Kareffi were gifted with the Stone the color of fine wood, while the Evellan were given a Stone faintly green like the rives of Pevve. To the Hlutr was entrusted a Stone the color of healthy leaves. And in answer to his demand, Apfmas was given a large stone whose color was the emerald fire that burnt in the eyes of the Elder Gods.
Yet Apfmas of Forriva was unsatisfied, and he threw the Stone to the floor of the chamber, saying, "The Daamin and all the Wise insult the race o the Coruma. These Stones are ours, and here before all the Elder Gods do I lay claim to them in the name of the Coruman Race. One day there will arise from our line one who will take all the Stones unto himself as his own property, and woe be to they who stand in his way." Then Apfmas leaft the chamber and the world, allowing the emerald Stone to lay where it had fallen.
Now it happened that in the Coruman delegation was a young woman named Taryhensh, who was a granddaughter of Dirunde Forriva. Taryhensh had been trained by Crettim Bruv and the Elders of the Daamin, and now she stepped forward to retrieve the fallen Stone. "In the name of the Coruma, I accept this gift of the Daamin, and I name it Nekiesh, for it has been cast aside by Apfmas. My children, and my children's children, shall care for Nekiesh and use it for the betterment of all the Seven Races, until the stars grow cold."
So Taryhensh took the Stone Nekiesh, and she remained on Verkorra studying with the Daamin. In later time, Taryhensh went to Glebanac, where she founded a holy priesthood which continued well into the days of the Pylistroph (blessed be).
Now the generations of the Coruma were seven, between Apfmas and Merkett of Dwarzel, and it came to pass that Merkett of Dwarzel gathered together all of his cousins, and all of his friends, and all of their friends, and he builded great starships to cross the seething dust clouds of the Core. Merkett appealed to the Council of the Wise on Verkorra for aid, and these granted approval of his mission. For Merkett longed to find new worlds, to escape the crowded planets which he knew. Ever since the destruction of the Gergathan, the Coruma had longed for their own place, for the Gergathan's presence poisoned the sweet and gentle seas of Messilinia for all time.
So Merkett of Dwarzel employed Daamin seers, and Evellan craftsmen, and brought to Dwarzel the artificers of the Kareffi and the strong Hchevidiire. And when their work was complete, Merkett had twice 1296 great starships built, and had gathered the folk to fare in them across t wastes. And the seers and the Watchers of the Stones searched for worlds which could support life, until each ship had a destination.
In this enterprise even the Elder Gods had a hand, for this was in the days when the Elder Gods still stirred about in the real worlds inhabited by creatures, and took the forms of their children. Few enough were the Elder Gods now: only Tha'p, and Ellan, Yx, and Hesket, Naervara and Den, Timash and Jaseni, and Maranna hereself remained. Of these, Ellan and Yx were strongest with Merkett, and they accompanied him on his own ship as he set out for new places. Naervara flew before the ship, guiding it with a single star, and Jaseni gave voice to notes strong enough to warp the very regions of space through which the vessel passed.
But Timash, Maranna, and Tha'p stayed on Verkorra with the Council of the Wise. And on the very night that Merkett's vessel left Dwarzel, it is said that Tha'p walked in the gardens of the Forever Dreams with Crettim Bruv, and implored her, "Kind Lady of the Daamin, why do you permit this journey? For you know that Merkett will find a good world, and that from his line shall spring the one who will awaken the Gergathan again."
And Crettim Bruv sighed, and gestured to the blood-red Stone which is called Blessed Harmony, and answered thus: "In yonder Stone have I seen worlds upon worlds, those that may be and those that will. In all these worlds, fair Tha'p, I have seen no way to avoid the fate that you speak of. The Gergathan but sleeps, and it shall be awakened again and again in the long cycles of time. We hae no put its power to rest. Nor shall the Iaranor, nor shall golden Avethell to come, nor shall the sons of Terra when their time arrives. One and only one will put the Gergathan to final rest, and that one will be of the line of Forriva, of the line of Merkett and the children he will father on this fair world he seeks."
At this Tha'p shook his head. "So much pain and misery could be avoided, Crettim Bruv. So much."
"Pain? Misery? Say also, Tha'p, that so much joy and beauty could be avoided. Does Merkett not step onto the soil of Maela Gres, and the Pylistroph will not come; the windmills of Avethell will not turn in the breezes of yet-unknown Scattered Worlds. The songs of Marpethtal shall not enlighten galactic dark, You are not fully of this world, Tha'p; yet you of all should know that what must come, will come. To your credit it is, that you do not wish the bad to come; but it is to our credit that we take the bad for the sake of the better."
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