Ulysses' Odyssey ~ Dec 21, 2008 22:50:23 GMT -5
Post by Lady Whimsy on Dec 21, 2008 22:50:23 GMT -5
Dust clung to his coat and turned black to sable, mane tangled and spun through with debris; yet his eyes gleamed, amber-gold, and an his horn glinted brass and silver. When the moon broke the clouds he rose on his hinds and shook himself, his bugling cry loose and tumbling across the coal-coloured hills. It was a statement, a challenge; he called out again, twice, three times – ears swiveling to hark the reply. When nothing lingered but stillness he dropped to all fours again, jet hooves scoring the earth with intolerance.
He had been running forever. He had followed it here, or, had it followed him?
The night had come suddenly, light snuffed out in one harsh, cold whisper. As moon broke over the hills again he recognized this place, and it sent shivers through his being. Not here, he whispered to the darkness. Not now. Not again.
The stallion turned, casting his gaze from one ribbonous horizon to the next but only shadows greeted him, air hissed through his nostrils as he tasted the wind. If it was here, he would find it; he would find it and drive it back into the night from which it came. He would not concede, and it would not be allowed to claim this world. This he swore, and his cry echoed through the stars.
Clouds swirled again, an ever changing mosaic, scattered glimpses of a future divined. When they parted the sky was burnt copper-gold: heavy in the east the Winter Moon, the Dragon Moon, rose slowly to meet her sister in the sky and begin again her reign over Kalidore...
~ * ~ * ~
The Moon was bright overhead as the unicorns gathered in the grassy field, bight and full and brimming into the clear and star-filled sky. It was the Harvest Ball, a night of games and merriment, stories told and re-told, of times remembered and futures dreamed. The field had been lined with colorful poles, strung with dried wild flowers and softly glowing moon-orb, which Rhaine and Lilaini had some of the other companions had been working on for half the day. A great bonfire crackled in the midst. Around the fire unicorns gathered - those noble beasts of Kalidore, the children of Kala and Kaedon. There were others too - creatures from the forest had drawn near to watch, silver-eyed wolves and griffons with pelts of amber and red; spotted goats and shy deer, birds of every feather and description that had stayed up far past the setting sun to snatch at fallen honey-biscuits and warm themselves beside the fire against autumn's brisk night air.
Humans too, were there. Some were familiar to the Isle and others newly arrived; among them were the Guardians - the Keepers of the Isle and holder of Magic, and Companions - those bonded to unicorns. And there were others too, visitors, who had wandered through the Gates - those mystical portals between worlds - and found themselves haplessly on Kalidore. The harvest was a time for joy and celebration, all were welcomed at this feast and the visitors were no exception.
As the moon rose high a hush fell over the crowd and Acosua, the Bard of Kalidore, came to stand in a circle of gathered stones. She turned to the others, the stars dancing in her eyes and across her dusted ebony coat. She waited until every ear had turned her way, then turned her horn the sky, her voice lifting to greet the moon and she whistled brightly, heralding to all who had come to listen there that night.
Welcome, guests, from isles afar
Who gather here in hollow’s heart,
To dance and play as time grows soon,
Beneath the gallant Harvest moon!
And share with us, this night of feasts
Tales of heros, fools, and beasts,
So mothers, hold your Koré tight,
And I’ll tell the tale of Dragon’s Night!
’Twas in the age before this one when the heavens were open to all the worlds and the moons of Kalidore and Kylindreal hung like twins jewels in evening’s sky…. Kalidore, as you know, was spun from Kal’s pebble - a beautiful, shining world, at peace with itself and the Universe. Kylindreal, on the other hand, was a shard that broke free and spun away on it’s own accord. It grew into a strange world of fierce nights and harsh dawns; unsuited to a Unicorn’s liking perhaps, yet this jagged moon made the perfect home for that most great and powerful race, the Dragons.
It is said when the universe was made, the Dragon Aeon was the second creature to emerge from the chaos, after Kal. Kala had the power of Dawn – to create and make life abound, and we of Kalidore admire her work around us each day. Aeon, they say, had the power of Dusk – the power not only to create, but to destroy. Such a tremendous and terrible gift that was, and yet he accepted his lot wholeheartedly; he understood the breadth of that power, and with it, the great responsibility bestowed upon him. That was the lesson Aeon strove to teach his children, and for the millennia that followed, the Dragons remained Kal’s greatest alley.
But power corrupts, as we unicorns know. This is why we choose never to seek glory nor act to impose our will unto others; that is our creed. To Dragons, power was something that coursed through them like the blood in their veins, and from such great power, the fall from grace is a most fierce and torrid decent. That was to be the fate of Thaedor, Aeon’s own son.
Some say it was the gods themselves who first whispered to him, others, that he was driven crazy by dreams. All that is certain is that one day Thaedor challenged his father for the thrown. “Thaedor, you are my son,” Aeon said, “and the thrown was yours the day you were born.”
“Nay, father,” Thaedor spoke, “It is not your thrown I covet – it is the Thrown of Heaven…. For are we not the Greatest of all Creatures, the sons and daughters of the First Stars, the power to both create and destroy within our grasp? What are we then, if not akin to gods ourselves? Why limit ourselves to this small rock, this corner of the skies, this meager existence of fettled indolence? We should climb upon the backs of those gods that came before us and reach higher – see what is beyond this piece, seek and discover the very essence of the universe!”
“My son,” spoke Aeon gravely, “that of which you speak cannot be attained through mortal means. The universe is both around and within us, we are all a part of it, and no part is small. We cannot master the riddles of this universe any more than we can master those of our own souls. Forget this foolishness, and be at peace.”
At his words, Thaedor grew furious. He rose up like the first night, immense and consuming, and slew his father where he stood, for his father’s powers were his own, and his to do with as he wished. And Thaedor turned his gaze unto the universe, all glittering and gleaming beneath burning amber eyes, and proclaimed it his own. The universe trembled at triumph’s laugh, rippling and echoing across the heavens. Soon, he declared, the Thrown of Heaven would his, and no secrets of the universe would be beyond his ken.
Evil creeps upon us slowly, seductively like the promise of warmth at dawn. Drunk-sick on the keel of power, Thaedor’s followers came with him, ravishing and devouring everything in their path. It was the unicorns who felt full the brunt of his metal, for we children of Kal would take no part in his madness, and an eon’s tryst broke like a king’s body by ego’s hand. Many brave souls fell by those hands, many worlds were extinguished in the dark of Thaedor’s Night. The breath of war touched everyone and none of the universe was left unscathed, and night fell like ash that swallows the sun, taking with it the promise of light…
They say the darkest hour comes before dawn, the longest hour as we wait for the sun to rise. What happens if that night did not end? the sun never returned? so stood the universe on the edge of that dawn, teetering precariously towards eternal night.
One could not blame the forces for being weary, their hearts for being sore and dull, battle-scared of mind and body; but when Kal spoke about enlisting Mankind to their aid, the other clans laughed openly at her proposal. Yet Kal was undeterred, for she was keen and had felt in the human heart a kinship with her own – a soul striving for goodness, with the willingness to learn, and the capacity to reach beyond perceived limits and into the unknown; this was the boon of man.
All of us know the Daiga, great All-Mother, Gaurdian, and Keeper of the Isle; how she became Kal’s Companion that fated night, and by that union so a truce was formed – not only between equine and human met, but by the elements that bind us all. For alone we unicorns stand as Magic’s Hold, but with Companion that magic may endlessly flow – a magic strong and pure and untainted, unhampered and unbound; and magic sweet and true, keen enough to match a Dragon’s own.
So stood Daiga beside Kal, on the brunt of Thaedor’s dawn
And the heavens all around them burned with night’s unyielding song
And Thaedor rose to meet them, stars dying in his eyes
Madness driven, madness deep and drawing on the tide.
“Who are you to challenge me to what fate as made my own?
I am HE who sits astride the breast of Heaven’s Thrown!
All that is, and was, shall be, and shall be mine to reign,
And all will hail to Fate’s prevail that Dragons rule again!”
“Power,” spoke the Daiga, “is a sweet and quenching brew,
A madness, pulls the mind asunder, obscuring breadth and view.
What you seek cannot be owned, and was never yours to take
And mortal souls like ours shall never hone the will of Fate.”
At her words, Thaedor struck with all the fury of his soul,
And the universe was rippled, broken, keeling, to his goal,
But Kal, she stood at Daiga’s side and they rose to meet as one
And all that is and ever was then both ended and begun—
And magic bloomed with Kala’s gift and Daiga’s able hands
And the elements aligned that day to grant a savior’s stand
And Thaedor, downed by madness, by his thrown he was so was slayed
And the universe, by Destiny’s hand and magic then was saved.
So it was, sisters and brothers of Kalidore, the plight of all hung in a balance by single strand of Fate’s web, and how it was Companion met who strung the universe together once again.
Here me now, you Companions of Kalidore, and this challenge I present to you – embrace your magic, heed the call, and hone your heart; for only when all is in balance can good prevail, and the echoes of the past be put finally to rest. Know what came before you so that you might never trod that road again. Know your heart and everything it stands for. Know that Kal stands between you and the everlasting night, and know that your companion is ever by your side!
But what’s this? So serious? The night is young, the Harvest moon is rising high, and there is still much merriment to be had! For we are unicorns, and meant to be merry; as Kal watches us, let us sing to her skies, dance beneath her watchful moon-lit eyes, and let our hearts sore knowing well that even Dragons rest on this fine night. But not forget, sisters and brothers, never forget –
On Dragon’s Night, a breath’s darkmoon
after Harvest’s Ball has lost its bloom,
Keep close your babes, hold tight those dear,
For Thaedor’s ghost may then appear
to whisk you off to realms austere…!