Chapter 3. The Providence of Death
A historical account has responsibilities. Death has long been a fascinating topic for authors when impressions can be made upon the reader. I have used such events as turning stones in the accounts of the Elokkene, the ascent of the Hermit's wife to godhood, even in the greatest epic of all time, the story of Daerkwin the magnificent.
In Elyren's story, however, death plays a vital role, yet not as Elyren's himself. This may not come as a twist to you, the reader, but the cost at which it did come was astounding and was indeed a shame.
To understand the events that follow, a slight detailing of the geographies of southern Cea must be known.
The settlement of Umar was the largest garrison of the army, especially since it enjoyed a position heavily fortified and was offered the protection of enormous cliffs to its eastern border. One must note that this was a mistake of the highest order when considering the army to be a very functional unit. A grave mistake, when General Ophisthus was commanded to take out the troops that stationed themself in the southern continent. It has been perceived, quite stereotypically, that the southern continent had an extremely vulnerable populace, and that they had very primitive skills, which I found not to be the case.
The allies of the Roviness had stations in the southern continent, when a very recurring name in the south, that being of Whel, came up. To the average mind, that may not be a significant detail, but I had heard the name enough times to register a threat when I heard it. It had repeated much, that I picture a bald version of myself (from the descriptions, of course) to have named itself the Lord of the south.
The southern harbor was constructed of entirely stone and sand, of the words of Elyren himself. The Council of Lords, which presided over the government before the family of Turrvellis usurped the throne, to be succeeded by the family of rulers who currently rule Cea, the Vervaneliis, had ordered for a naval excursion into the fray, to destroy their ships which posed a certain threat, since they had a strength in numbers.
The seven thousand strong legion, bearing Elyren Arell, ventured into the sea, and voyaged south.
I, Varta, entered the story at this point. A man, mortal or immortal, has to have certain factors in life which impact upon his living. I had lost interest in riches, whose importance wavered as the coin did with each emperor and usurper. I had even tired of the worldly pleasures, of the comfort of women, when they withered upon my laps as they died while I did, and the odd instance when they killed me for hiding my age.
With the name Varta, I took residence in the feudal city of Umar, where three other Generals had made conclave. The Roviness were a threat in the north, but independent rebels from the West had decided to pounce on the remnants of the army left behind, once the three legions had taken their men north of the frozen sea. The Western men had cannibalistic tendencies and every man lost was food for their carnal sickness. A widespread practice of burning the dead had withered in the last 300 years, before Elyren, but it experienced a resurgence in the times of conflict. the dead had to be burned, or the men had to see horrible sights of death during their next battle. As to my remembrance, many had vowed off meat from their lives, and thus another practice was established amongst the lower sections of the population.
As Varta, I lived in Umar with my newlywed wife, a fine dainty woman from the Eastern reaches of the Voyasian territories. She was disciplined, a fine example of a woman, and ended my life while I bathed, in the fine old age of sixty-eight, after I had told her my age. It still managed to surprise me, above other things.
I visited the General Ophisthus many times before his ill-fated voyage south, and in my ignorance, I may have seen Elyren as a warrior multiple times. I was saddened to know of this upon Elyren's return to the mainland, eight years later.
Death, as I said, could sometimes be the desire of the heart. When every single man that accompanied Elyren in the voyage had died when returning, after the success at the Harbours of Whel, it was surely a distressing tale.
For years, none of the men who went in the search had returned alive. The docks along the southern shore were all informed of the hull and the auspicious markings of the departed ships, yet none had found them.
The Roviness were dismantled, by this time, and Cea was safe. the Western invaders had been stopped at the pilgrim's pass, which enjoys a religious status even now. Devoid of the southern supporters, the Roviness disappeared to the brunt of the legions of the Council. It took another four years when the corruption began to turn visible, and of the coin squandered by the Council Elders under the guise of military taxes. the Council was subsequently deposed, all while poor Elyren was stranded at sea.
A hundred years after Elyren's death, the remains of Elyren's ship (by now, Elyren was a hero. Thus, General Ophisthus was lost to history and only Elyren remained. History does respect the survivor.) were found floating amid piles of moss and the excreta of gulls. Those men who swim for pearls in the sea found the collapsed ships, all destroyed in a single place, and this site has ever since been termed Elyren's folly.
Eight years after that perilous journey, Elyren alighted upon the shores of the southern sea, in the point where Daerkwin ascended to the heavens, Daerk's Point. It still exists as a part of the pilgrimage to the Gardens of Night, a thousand miles south from Heron Sharp, and a thousand eight hundred and sixty miles east from Umar. When Elyren arrived at Daerk's point, his clothes were tattered, and his body was covered in soil and grime. He was first witnessed by me, where I had been instructed to arrive, under the instructions of the God Werva, who often chooses to give haunting prophetic details of his will to happen in random orders.
Elyren came from the sea after I had waited for hours in the sea on the first day of Summer. Superstitions have long persisted regarding this, yet as to my notice, all originated from this one point; that the first day of summer is the beginning of all things good. It gave unnecessary corollaries, regarding winter, to which I suspect the gods of winter would be saddened by.
The words of Elyren still haunt me, almost half a millennium after, for when he saw me, he was demented and gaunt, with bloodshot eyes, and a mark on his forehead.
The mark of Threla had alighted over him, partly reaching into the bridge of his nose. It was the bow of ages, which had a single arrow trifurcating in the top, with a single featherhead over his nose.
"I should have died, Lord Varta." Elyren told me. How he knew my name, I never knew, but it was the will of Threla. "I should have died, but now I am all those who died. I survived, for them."
He collapsed upon me, and as per the instructions of Werva, I did undress him and clothe him with new garments of satin. I noticed one thing alone. That was that there was the scar that identified him as Elyren, the dagger of which I was informed of later when I collected his stories for this epic. The problem was that his mouth had black spots as if the malignancy had touched him at a variety of regions. He wouldn't survive long, I knew.
Looking back now, I would say that Elyren did attain all the lives of those who died, and I may as well venture to say that a part of Elyren died that day at sea. A new Elyren had come, one of unwavering devotion to the Goddess.
For not all who die, die. Die do the ones who lack remembrance. and thus I remember Lady Solere, whose love for her brother, combined with the lack of love from his father, did claim a life.
Solere died, when news of her brother being dead at sea reached Yoren.
It is of little to console that a part of Solere lived in Elyren as well.