Talanor, the Bright Tower
History - The First Lands
Niyut finds herself beside a fire. Arrayed about it is a feast.
Her grandmother looks up from where she is clucking over a dish.
”You come too strongly into this world, daughter of my daughter. Ever the way that is amongst our people: a foot in two worlds, unwilling to stay in one or the other. Finding the balance can be harder for twins. Your brother never comes to this world and you never truly leave it. I knew it when I first heard your cry as a babe. Hushed, as if a long way off.”
Niyut is only half listening to her grandmother, the older woman was a wellspring of advice whether one was thirsty or not. The world she sees by firelight is not the world that exists in the waking world. It is if the Storm never happened.
”Grandmother, why does this world not reflect the waking world?”
The old woman sucks her teeth. ”You just noticed that did you, daughter of my daughter? The First Lands were always meant as a refuge from the great spirits. An act of rebellion by their wayward lessers and those spirits’ resulting bloodlines. But what happens to the spirits of those bloodlines when they die? Do they become the playthings of the great spirits? No. That would be too much to bear. Instead a place was created for all the children of the primogenitors to come when they pass beyond the veil for the final time. Less a place and more of a memory of a moment. This dream reminds the First Lands what it was in the beginning of all things and in turn the First Lands dreams it.”
Niyut lets out a low gasp of astonishment. “How would such a thing even be accomplished.”
Her grandmother snorts in amusement. “A blanket is not woven from one thread. The First Lands themselves are one thread. The Song Lines of Chana are another. The unbroken line of the Firebird, stretching back to Simur, linking both worlds together is a third. Some secrets I am not permitted to share, daughter of my daughter. Others, I simply do not know. But what I do know is that this working begins to fray. You say this world is unchanged, but look to the sky. Where are the moons? Look to the west, do you see the Mithril Father’s tears stream down the side of Shamet? A working of this complexity requires power. There are two more threads snapped. Oh, but I could twist the ears of the man you say broke the waking world. Unravel enough threads and a blanket is no longer a blanket.”
The young spirit talker frowns. She had wondered why the First Lands, which the lowlanders foolishly called savage, were different, and this was a piece of part of an answer.
”Is there nothing that can be done, grandmother?”
”It is difficult to speak of a metaphor in metaphors, but I will try daughter of my daughter. Imagine this place a a massive stone rolling down a hill. Other rocks, even trees, will give way before it. Though with enough rocks and trees, the rolling stone can be diverted and eventually stilled. So too is it with the dream that reminds the First Lands what they are. Even now, in the waking world the shattered fragments of the First Lands are being drawn together. They remember what they were and should be. The question is whether there is enough time for the First Lands to come back together before the memory unravels and we are lost.”
For a long while the two women sit in silence and consider what has been spoken.
The a wordless howl shatters the stillness.
Brushing dust from her dress the old woman stands. ”Come daughter of my daughter, there is something you should see.”
The walk from the light of her fire towards the eaves of the Forest of Night.
They come to a ring of stones with a dolmen in the center. Many of the stones that comprised the dolmen have been shattered and fallen away. Pinned beneath the stones that remain is a writhing woman whose eyes and tongue have been ripped away. Her pale skin purpled with bruises. Her long red tresses are filthy with mud and matted with leaves. Her wordless howls are like talons rending the fabric of the night.
”Who is that?” The fear causes Niyut’s voice to quaver.
”That is Ygrna, the Bone Mother, and our distant relative daughter of my daughter. Or rather it is her power, seeking to be free of its long binding. She has been howling like this since the Storm. I take that to mean that Járnviðja is truly dead. She is the Night Blood ancestor who helped Ygrna’s family, whose descendants became our village to bind her her power here, her body body beneath the stones, and her mind to sleep for as long as Járnviðja walked the waking world. It was a good binding. Who expects a vampire to die, the world to be shattered, or this dream to fray? Should she free herself from the stones before the First Lands remember themselves, the Bone Mother will coming looking for her power. We hear here the echo of her call.”
Niyut gasps, ”But why would we do this to her in the first place? She is of our blood.”
The old woman snorts amusedly. ”We like to tell stories of how the daughters of the Lost were from other clans and other kindreds. But our blood has always shared Simur’s predilection for overstepping bounds. The story of Ygrna was old long before I was a young woman.
In those days, the Firebird and the Nightblood were locked in war. Many were lost on both sides, but the Night Blood were winning. To find vengeance and mastery Ygrna walked paths better left untrod, seeking secrets better of unknown. Her knowledge brought victory to our people, but in time she became a plague upon both the living and the dead. Yet, we had not the power to kill her. Even after all these long years, she lives.
But it came to pass that her twin Garhluth and the Nightblood elder Járnviðja who led the closest NIghtblood village to our own formed a pact. Using both our craft and theirs she was bound. Her power turned to feeding the dream, and we had peace between our peoples. So many workings all across the First Lands are tied to this one great working.
Ygrna is not the only name of terror in the First Lands nor is she the greatest. You fear Vash and those primogenitors that remain to once again meddle in our affairs. This is a wise fear, but there are many other fears best left in myth and not walking the waking world. The First Lands must be made whole before they forget to dream this dream. . .”
What more her grandmother might have said is lost to Niyut as she can no longer hold to the dream and wakes.