|In the Land of the Rain God (standard:fantasy, 1500 words)|
|Author: Alexm||Added: Sep 08 2001||Views/Reads: 1812/7||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Short story where an ancient hero's battle with a sea monster leads to startling discovery.|
THE LAND OF THE RAIN GOD "There is a legend of the peoples of the north.." Amudan stretched out on the floor of the cave and smiled happily as the Druid began his tale. It was a tale that was already, through numerous tellings over the years, deeply entrenched in the boy's mind and in his heart. However he was never more content than when listening to one of the old man's stories and so he cared little when they were repeated. At these times, Amudan could forget where he was, forget who he was. It was as if the world outside had ceased to exist and all that mattered was within the circle of firelight. From there, the Druid's deep, vibrant voice would transport him across great tracts of time and distance to far-off places of wonder. ".. A tale of a time when the ancient, towering pines on the slopes of the great mountain were but slender saplings and a fierce warrior, men called Bro-nan, was chief of the Sea-Mountain tribe. Bro-nan, it is said, was tall as bear rising up in anger and could crush the skulls of his enemies between his huge hands. It was during the time of the first full moon after the tribe's last great hunt of the season that Bro-nan witnessed the birthing of clouds. The hunters, with the chief at their head, had returned to the caves at sunset, laden with meat. A great fire was kindled and, as darkness cloaked the world, the Sea-Mountain tribe feasted on the flesh of a great, bull-mammoth from which one single tusk provided seating for Bro-nan and thirty of his brothers. On the following day, before the sun had fully risen and while the embers of the feast-fire still glimmered among the ashes, Loh the fisher came running from the shore. Loh, whose loss of one arm and one eye excluded him from the hunt, had not sat with the tribe at the feast but had been tending to his nets. Picking his way hastily among the gorged bodies of his slumbering brothers, he shook Bro-nan to his senses. This proved no easy task, for the mighty chief had consumed as much meat as would satisfy five lesser men. Loh, however, chanced the chief's wrath and would not let up until Bro-nan was awake - for the fisher was afraid nigh unto death. With wild gestures and with his teeth rattling in his head like knucklebones in a shaman's bowl, Loh told his chief of the cause of his terror. Whilst he had been drawing in his nets, a titan fiend had risen from the sea, blotting out the moon and stars. The beast had a multitude of arms and eyes that shone like disks of yellow fire. Cursing heartily, Bro-nan snatched up his spear and stumbled up the cliff path toward the shore of the Eastern Ocean. With much rolling of eyes and calling upon the Gods, Loh and the rest of the tribe, who had been awakened by their chief's bellows, followed behind. At the top of the path there rose a single crag of black rock, crooked as a serpent's tooth. Clasping one brawny arm about its girth, Bro-nan swept the bay below with burning eyes and even he paled and shook at the sight of the thing before him. Low in the eastern sky, a pale sun was climbing from the sea but the thin light was all but swallowed up entirely by the shadow of that which waded towards the shore. It was a monstrous creature; huge as a mountain and black as the yawning chasm beyond the ocean's edge from which it had doubtless risen. The seas churned and boiled in the monster's wake. Waves as tall as ten tall men were driven before it to smash against the cliffs. As it spied Bro-nan, clinging to the rocky pinnacle, the creature let forth a great hissing roar and the chief of the Sea-Mountain tribe was all but blown from the crag by the breath from its terrible maw. Fighting to keep his hold on the smooth stone, Bro-nan called upon all the Gods of the tribe for their aid and cast his spear. The shaft flew true into the sea-thing's face, piercing one of its awful eyes. Bro-nan's savage bark of triumph was drowned by a shriek of hate and rage from the creature's throat. So loud did it bellow that the very sky shook and the Silent People in their abode in the forests far to the south - who can neither hear nor utter a sound - covered their ears. To Bro-nan's horror, one of the thing's arms curled around his waist and tore him from the cliff. Struggle as he might, the great warrior could not prevent himself from being borne high in the air. Cowering on the cliff top, the people of the Sea-Mountain tribe could do nothing but watch in terror as their chief was lifted above the nightmare head and dropped into its gaping jaws. As he plunged toward the cruelly fanged mouth, one of Bro-nan's flailing arms struck the shaft of his spear, which still jutted from the creature's eye, and he seized it with both hands. The momentum of his fall helped him to pivot his body clear of the gnashing teeth whilst driving the spear deeper into the wound until the flint head pierced the monster's brain. There was an instant when Bro-nan stared full into the raging yellow fires that were its eyes and then the world erupted in chaos as the creature threw itself into the depths of the ocean, with the chief of the Sea-Mountain tribe still clutching the thorn in its brain. How far the monster had borne him and how far, stunned and close to death, he had drifted after breaking free of the fiend's death throes - Bro-nan knew not. When he had first risen to the surface, land had been nowhere in sight and now, close to sunset, he was nearing the ocean's edge. It was there that Bro-nan of the Sea-Mountain tribe saw the clouds being born from the sea, though so weary was he then it was not until much later that he was able to understand what he had witnessed. Overhead the sky was clear but to the east, where the sky curved down to be lapped by the waves, a great mass of cloud loomed. At first Bro-nan thought he was floating into a storm, for the sea had become rougher, but as he drew nearer he knew that this was like no storm seen on land. A great, black column spiralled upward from the churning waves like smoke from a signal fire. Up into the reddening sky it rose, broadening out toward a summit from which huge clouds were pouring. Helpless realisation dawned then on the chief of the people by the sea. While the spinning motion of the pillar was drawing the clouds up from the sea and sending them scudding westward from its zenith, it was also pulling him ever closer - the way leaves on the surface of a pool are drawn by a circling hand. Above the sound of the sea, Bro-nan now heard the keening voices of the spirits, crying out to him from beyond the world's edge. Their voices became louder and louder until Bro-nan could bear it no longer. Then all was whirling blackness as the great warrior was sucked down under the waves and then spewed from the top of the pillar in a mass of newly born clouds." The druid's voice had risen to a quavering peak. His eyes rolled and his stick-like arms gestured expansively through the shadows above his head. Then, exhausted, he slumped forward and was still. Amudan let out his breath in a long sigh. The fire had burned low. Little smoke now drifted out through the hole in the wall and Amudan, glimpsing the stars beyond, could see that the night was more than half through. Amudan knew that the old man was weary, indeed his own eyelids were heavy, however he needed a proper conclusion to the tale. "Did Bro-nan live to see his people again?" he asked. The Druid slowly lifted his head, smiled and nodded. "Indeed, child. The clouds bore him back across the breadth of the ocean and finally they reached the continent of man. Here they released their watery burden in a torrent. Washed to earth by the rain, Bro-nan found himself in the shallow coastal waters of the Sea-Mountain tribes' homeland. The mighty chief was re-united with his people only a short while later when Loh, the fisher, expecting a good catch after the heavy rains, dragged in his nets. Entangled within, spluttering and cursing was his chief. Neither slain by the sea-thing nor vanquished by the Great Sea, Bro-nan returned, with Loh the fisher, to the caves of his people, in the mountains by the sea. Tweet
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