This Article, titled Short Stories, is more of an assembly of resources. It is supposed to be for the reading pleasure of the good reader, giving more background to how some things work in the many nations represented in this Wikia, including remarks of whether or not your characters can know of this or not (for example via WhoTube Videos or, in the other extreme, if the happenings are private and/or confidential).
All stories here are considered canonical and, should they involve characters from other players, will have corresponding remarks.
In any case, have fun reading!
For larger complexes of short stories, see:
- 1 Story Time with Mara
- 2 1938: Jida wins the Lioness' Cup
- 3 Finals of the Junior Anam Cup, 6th of July, 2019
- 4 2020 Redruth Spring Festival - Fights for the Redruth Sword Cup
- 4.1 Show Fight: Llwyd Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Asteria Sclábhaí of the Tribe of Fermanagh
- 4.2 Semifinal 1: Elin Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Kaylee Paisúile of the Tribe of Galway
- 4.3 Semifinal 2: Branwen Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Ritubani Aoi
- 4.4 Third Place Match: Kaylee Paisúile of the Tribe of Galway vs. Ritubani Aoi
- 4.5 Final: Branwen Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Elin Blaidd, of Tralee Descent
- 5 The Tape from 2005
- 6 A tempting offer
- 7 Eanuma Elish
- 8 Kyrenaian Natural Law of Nations
- 9 Leona tours Theilgadún Castle
- 10 Evening Prayers
- 11 Celina Ollamh's Adventures
- 12 The Battle of Blutschelde (1780)
- 13 Tea with the Sultana
Story Time with Mara
Cennardaí and the dam over the Máguaird
It was in a time long before this time, when there was a Sea Weasel by the name of Cennardaí, who's dream was to build the biggest and largest and strongest dam on the entire Máguaird, which runs through Arallfyd, the Otherworld. He declared so to anyone, who would listen and with some bemusement, the Gods watched on from shore. Especially Lodan Lir, Lord of Mag Mell and of the Rivers and Seas, was amused by the futile effort, for the Mighty Máguaird was not to be dammed by a singular Sea Weasel.
Unfortunately, Cennardaí was not the kindest of Sea Weasels and others of his kind had long since given up on him - he defended his dream in front of them, he defended his resolve, yet no one wanted to help him and he did not ask anyone for help. He would do it alone and alone, he would stand triumphantly.
The Mighty Máguaird was not to be dammed, though, and thrice, the River Spirit distracted the Brave Sea Weasel and thrice Lodan Lir used the chance to destroy all the progress, which Cennardaí had made.
The first time, Máguaird and Lodan Lir waited until Cennardaí was hungry and when he made a short pause to catch his breath, a large, yet soft tree branch with young and juicy buds came floating down the river. Cennardaí could not help himself, he jumped into the river after the branch and caught up to it, dragging it to shore for a nice, long meal, which lasted until his dam's remains floated past him. Cennardaí began anew.
The second time, Máguaird and Lodan Lir waited for night to watch Cennardaí's dreams with the Dreamweaver. They saw, that he was lonely and that he wanted company, preferably of a female Sea Weasel. So, Lodan Lir went to Oilean na mBeo and recruited the help of Lújare, the most beautiful Sea Weasel in the entire Land of the Living. Gladly she helped out the God, but she asked him for a favour in return: He was to intervene with Rhiannon, the Horse-Lady, to make it so, that a Sea Weasel would give birth to many more on one occasion. Gladly, Lodan Lir obliged and Rhiannon agreed. Lújare then went with Lodan Lir and when she saw Cennardaí on the Mighty Máguaird, she distracted him. Lodan Lir sent down a wave and washed away the dam and Cennardaí began anew.
The third time, Lodan Lir made it so that Ladra invited the Gods to a little boat trip on the Mighty Máguaird, with Rhiannon's Mighty Horses towing their river ship downstream and while the Gods were enjoying themselves. Suddenly, the boat hit a bump, but no one took further notice - safe for Ladra, who looked over the boat's side and saw Cennardaí, tearing up, as he saw his dam be destroyed yet again.
"My apologies about your dam, Eager Sea Weasel, it was not on purpose.", He told Cennardaí, who looked at him with big, teary eyes, "What plagues you, Eager Sea Weasel?"
"Three times I tried now to dam the Mighty Máguaird, to build something to be proud of, yet all three times, Lodan Lir, Your Brother, Milord, destroyed my hard work of many days. Known as Lodan Lir the Dambuster He shall be!", Cennardaí replied, tearing up fully, "Yet none of my kind aid me in my project, none of the Gods bless my work, the River Spirit Herself is against me!"
Struck by pity, and a bit of a guilty conscious, Ladra smiled. "Atone for my sin of destroying your work I shall, for it was my boat, which struck your dam.", he said and vaulted himself off of his boat, "A dam and river crossing we shall built for all to behold!"
Cennardaí was struck by joy, his tears now flowing of happiness as he looked for a new spot for a dam with Ladra, finding a calm, nice stretch on the Mighty Máguaird. While Cennardaí built, Ladra brought the branches and logs and reeds he needed.
Thrice, Lodan Lir tried to stop their work.
He tried for Lújare to turn Cennardaí's head again, but she decided to aid him as well - seeing his passion, she asked him for a small room in the dam he was building and soon, the two went to work.
He tried for a juicy tree branch with ripe apples when the three were hungry, but while one collected the branch, the others were still hard at work.
He tried to get Ladra to host another boat trip and while he did, he stopped at Cennardaí's Dam, dropping anchor and inviting the other Gods: "Come! Come and see, what this brave and steadfast Sea Weasel built - with a bit of help, but all the more proud!"
And proudly, Cennardaí stood before the Gods, listening to their praises, bowing in gratitude at their words of encouragement. Though, after all, even Lodan Lir said words in respect, had spoken, he bowed his head again and spoke: "You honour me with Your Words and Your Blessings, yet You heap too much praise onto me alone. This dam on the Mighty Máguaird was not my work alone, but those of many paws, which worked together to built this. It takes one's evil will to destroy hard work and many people's good will to create, but alone, no one can create."
And as the Gods applauded, Ladra stepped forward: "Cennardaí, my steadfast friend, allow me to ask you, whether or not I can make your image mine, the brave and steadfast Sea Weasel into my symbol."
As the other Gods cheered, Cennardaí accepted the honour, living long and prospering with Lújare at his side, on his dam on the Mighty Máguaird.
The Vixen's First Flute
A long, long time ago, when the mountains were old and the breeze young, it was pretty boring, actually. And for none, it was more boring then for Abhcan, who liked to play tricks and joke around with everyone. However as of late, the other Gods and Spirits were growing wise to her machinations and less and less of her tricks worked.
Even worse, her last few tricks actually hurt her friends and that was something, which she did not want to. And as smithing up wordplays wasn't cutting it anymore, she set out to find inspiration for new tricks.
Around the same time, Gavida was sitting with the Coillteoiri Aiteal, Dair and Caorthann, working on wood, which the four had collected. Lodan Lir had asked for a new chair for his home, his old one being one of the victims of the Vixen's latest prank - as Lodan Lir always had a way of repaying for services with a nice reward, the four of them were even harder at work.
Arriving in their workshop, Abhcan was, at first, not very welcome.
"What is it, that you wish, Vixen?", Gavida asked, well aware of who was responsible for his latest piece of work. As Lodan Lir's other chair had been his work, too, he was a bit miffed about his work being destroyed.
"What all wish, fun and entertainment. Yet, as of late, nothing really comes to mind...", the Vixen replied, her shoulders drooping in sadness.
Gavida found himself taking pity on the Vixen, which was not a place, where he liked to be. "I am afraid, that this is not the place for you, then. We are working here, my Coillteoiri and I.", he said, "You are welcome to join, if you wish, yet I am not sure, if you would like it."
Bored out of her mind and still sad about her not being able to come up with a new trick, the Vixen entered the workshop, where the three Coillteoiri were still working the Spruce Wood to make furniture, but they hardly took notice of her. Abhcan greeted them politely and sat down in a corner to watch them without being in the way.
Boredom quickly worsened as the men were working, but then, a piece of discarded wood caught her eye. The Vixen took the piece of wood, a cylinder of about twice the span of her hand, and examined it.
Placing it tightly between her thighs, the Vixen took the bow drill and began making a hole into the cylinder, but before she reached the other end, she stopped. After the pulled out the drill, she placed the tube onto her lap and took a knife, making a hole close to where she had begun to drill. Once that was done, she took in air and blew into the large drill hole heartily - a tone came out, which sounded kind-of sweet.
The fore men looked at the Vixen, slightly startled.
"My apologies, friends.", Abhcan said with a small bow, the four nodding and returning to work.
The Vixen, however, wasn't done yet. Inspired, she began to drill a few more holes into the tube, smaller ones this time, excited about maybe having found something nice. Once that was done, the holes carefully arranged in one line, she sneaked out, not wanting to disturb the four woodworkers.
Once outside, she set the tube to her mouth and began to blow into it, a strange sound appearing - with a frown, the vixen covered one of the holes, producing a different tone. When she covered the next, the sound changed yet again.
She just devised the Feadéideah, the blowtube - and began to experiment, playing a merry tune. It took a while until she noticed, but at some point, the four woodworkers and some of the animals around the workshop had come to listen to the strange sounds.
Sheepishly, Abhcan stopped and made to bow in apology, when Gavida smiled: "Whatever it is, that you do, Vixen, do continue. I have a kettle on the stove."
And like that, the Vixen had invented music - and was handsomely paid for her demonstrating new skill by the Tine, who's tea is the stuff for other legends.
Lodan Lir and Bebhion
- Involved Characters: Lodan Lir, Bebhion.
It was at a time, when Bebhion, the Daughter of the Water-God Manhann, was as a guest of Scahach de Mag Mell, living in our of Her houses, as She was first beheld by Her host's son Lodan Lir.
The one, who would one day rule the Plains of Joy was not yet a man by that time, but like a sapling, not yet grown to a mighty tree - and as he beheld Bebhion, he beheld a maiden as beautiful as her mother, her hair of shimmering gold and her eyes of a hot-red fire, her hair decorated by a red flower.
Poor Lodan Lir was speechless, his mouth agape. He had never seen a maiden so beautiful and quite often, Manhann and Rhiannon were visiting his own parents, Scahach de Mag Mell and Tuicreo.
He watched and watched her walking on the fields, trilling a happy tune - he was as if he was enchanted.
But the spell was soon broken as she noticed him, turned to the sapling, and spoke in her light voice: "Oh, hello. How do you do?"
Lodan Lir turned red like the flower in Bebhion's hair, the silence stretching as he tried to find the words - and, as he became aware, that he had failed, he did, what he could: He ran.
On horseback, no one runs faster then Rhiannon, but on foot, Lodan Lir was not to be beaten.
And while Bebhion was confused, Lodan Lir ran as fast as he could, back home, into his room and threw himself onto his bed, burying his head in his pillow - he had screwed up with that beautiful maiden, he knew it. Never would she even look into his general direction, he feared.
The day turned to evening, then night, then morning, when his best friend Ladra came, the other sapling seeing the distress of his friend - fearing something might be wrong, he ran for the Son of Talthiu and Nuadhain, for Dian Cecht, who enjoyed the friendship and love of Carman Fea.
The Eagle was first hesitant to let her beloved go, but as she beheld the fear and panic on Ladra's face, she came along.
Quickly, Dian Cecht assessed what was wrong with Lodan Lir and he declared, much to the bemusement of Carman Fea, that the sapling of a man was in love - a terrible, uncurable, beautiful bug, which not even he, the Healer among healers, could cure. Only cure was the love of the one he loved and that only gave easing.
Asking the others to leave her alone with him, Carman Fea prodded and asked the lad, who it was, which caught his eye and much prodding and asking by his aunt it took until she knew of the identity of the beautiful maiden. Bebhion had caught his eye, but he feared, that she thought him to be weird or strange or a myriad of other things.
He was about to give up after his disaster of a first showing.
"No!", the Goddess of War and Science broke him out of his lovesickness, "Do not give up! Fight! Giving up means loosing without doing your best!"
Startled, the young God looked at her, then asked: "How? How shall I fight for a maiden I do not know?"
Carman Fea had no answer herself, but he told him to speak with those, who he would entrust with this inquiry - to ask them, what was to do.
While his mother was entirely unhelpful, soon starting to pick baby colours, his father told him to make her his own - when he asked how, Tuicreo, God of Storms, told him, that when he was around, maidens usually flocked to him.
With this unhelpful answer, he went to ask Nuadhain and Drungha, who's daughter Abhcan was practicing the flute. The God of Wild Animals and the Forest Goddess told him, that they loved each other and that they loved to encourage and support each other, driving each other on and on - and pulling their daughter along.
Lodan Lir thanked the two and said his goodbye.
Next, he went to his Mother, Scahach de Mag Mell, and asked her for advice. "Easy the question you ask of me is not.", the Lady of the Mag Mell replied, "A beautiful maiden Bebhion is without a doubt, but to conquer her soul, you need to make her see your own. Make her see, who you are and see, who she is."
Lodan Lir thanked his Mother and continued on his quest for advice.
Lastly, he went to Dian Cecht, his Uncle and beloved of his Aunt. The God of Healing smiled. "If it is her heart, which you desire, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind. Groom yourself for success, be yourself, be confident in yourself (but not overconfident, mind you, it's a very tricky thing), treat her like your equal, be genuine and if it doesn't work out - well..."
With these thoughts fresh on his mind, Lodan Lir left his Uncle and Aunt, thanking them for their help. He wondered along the banks of the Máguaird River, unaware of where his steps led him, thinking and ruminating. Who's words had more merit? His Father's, his Mother's, his Uncle's, Nuadhain's and Drungha's?
After a while, he was by the Dam of Cennardaí and Lújare, the Sea Weasels, who he had helped. He decided to rest his feet by their magnificent dam, looking to the other bank - and who should he spot conversing with Lújare but Bebhion?
From afar, he watched the two, until Lújare made her new friend aware of his presence, waving to him. Shyly, he raised his hand and waved in return. A few times, Bebhion glanced over as Lújare described this and that and some other things, it seemed to the lad, and she seemed quite impressed.
Soon, however, Lodan Lir's feet were rested and so was his mind: He knew, who he should ask next.
With Bebhion and her beauty still on his mind, he sought out Searc and Cion, the Gods of Love and, maybe more importantly, parents of Scahach de Mag Mell, Lodan Lir's own mother. Asking them for advice prompted Searc to ask him a question: "Do you desire her body, her heart or her soul? For all three require different approaches. Your Mother told you for when you desire her soul as your own. Nuadhain and Drungha advised you for when you desire her soul, but her soul standing alongside yours, but not in your shadow. Your Uncle told you about when you wish her heart to be yours."
"What does my father's advice speak of?", Lodan Lir asked.
"Your father's advice, of maidens flocking to his, admittedly magnificently hairy, chest speaks of him being a clueless idiot.", Searc replied and caused a good laugh, until Lodan Lir's belly ached. Smiling herself, she continued: "Neither Cion nor myself can tell you a simple solution or magic words, which will make her fall in love with you. Talk with her. Get to know her. Find common hobbies and interests. And see, where that goes. But do not give up easily." She winked. "Us girls like to be fought over!"
And like that, when the next celebration of the God's was hosted, Lodan Lir was self-confident, well-groomed and ready to give his all to Bebhion. The maiden and the sapling talked and talked and danced and talked, Ladra diverting all prospective dance partners from his friend's side - and when Bebhion departed at her Father's side, she bid him to wait for a moment.
And Manhann stood slack-jawed as Bebhion went to Lodan Lir's side, kissing him onto the cheek.
1938: Jida wins the Lioness' Cup
- Involved Characters: Tariqa bint-Ilia and her opponent.
- Available on the official site of the Lioness' Cup.
One of the first things, which one would notice about the old footage was...
...as a young woman, I'd been hot. Like, really, please allow me the simple terms, smoking hot.
Which might have been one of the reasons why I, daughter of the Khan of Sheliak, was chosen as part of the HGA's Tribute. I couldn't tend to flowers to safe my life, was quite good at tea ceremonies and cleaning, but where I shone, that was in sports and especially in my passion.
Qazahia, one of the skills of the Furusiyya. And that had not only carried me to wearing the Fustan Raqis Alsyf, the Sworddancer's Dress, but also here, to the final fight of the Lioness' Cup. Me and my sabre against an opponent and his sabre, under the eyes of Fadi-Sultan (who, as I did not know back in the day, only lived for about two more weeks before dying of a stroke) and hundreds of people in the arena, as well as millions in front of the radio devices.
As a young woman, I had a slim figure, especially around the waist, was well-muscled, especially my thighs, and had been quite well-endowed. The Fustan Raqis Alsyf only emphasized all of that, as I stepped onto the field. I even wore the fake Caracal-Ears, which I had worn from the start of my career as Sworddancing Entertainer of the Ilkhan of Utica.
Sworddances and Swordfighting had not been too far apart from each other, had never been. So, here I stood, my opponent being a bear of a man, a Badawi tall as a tree, his figure hidden under his long robes. He carried a Type 4 Sabre, with a wide, rounded guard and the heavy spine, these had always been popular amongst bandits.
I carried a Type 1, with all bells and whistles, relatively short and with full bell guard, the epitome of a Kyrenaian Sabre.
The announcer called us to demonstrate the sharpness of our weapons.
Victory could be achieved in three ways: Disarming, disrobing by cutting the belt (or in my case the belt holding my sword's sheathe) and by cutting the cheek.
For the latter, the sabre needed to be sharp enough to leave a scratch, but not sharp enough to seriously draw blood.
A judge drew my sabre and took my hand, running the blade along it, the full length.
The little cut didn't even draw much blood, which earned his approval.
Similar approval was given to the Badawi.
And a minute later, the fight began: The two of us circled each other from safe distances - did I make a step forward, to attack, he made one back - and vice versa.
But I did not let it become a routine.
And neither did he.
I stepped forward to attack and he did not step back, instead trying to meet me with an attack of his own, me parading his sword, quickly learning, that he was much stronger then I was. A moment later, I was rolling to the side, leading his sword down at my harmless side.
I was not really surprised, when he met my attack from the side.
My smaller sabre was lighter, which gave me a speed-advantage, but not an advantage in sheer oompf of my blows, attacks or parades. And so I began a fighting retreat, dodging, where I could, dancing out of the way with the additional lengths of fabric on my arms and hips flying like banners in battles, leading his sword away from me, where I couldn't, quick slashes and manoeuvres.
I grinned the whole time.
This was worth living for! The exhilaration, the thrill, the clash of two masters in their subject!
That we were here was proof, that we were good, better, better then some of the greatest names of our time, best amongst four dozen men and women, who had fought.
And who had lost.
First signs of weariness, a lock of mine fluttered away, sweat began to dampen the Badawi's face.
I dodged a slash coming from above - and suddenly felt myself stumbling back, my vision swimming.
So long, already? Three minutes and most of the rules fell.
It didn't matter, I barely managed to deflect a blow, rolled to the side as he started another.
My hand was tight around some of the dirt on the arena floor, me crouching as he turned. With a quick move, the cloud flew at him, but his arm was up too quickly.
My sabre was, too, me stepping into his Absolute Territory, my sabre not gunning for his cheek, but for his belt, a rope as by Badawi-Custom, hooking into the band as he tried to dodge a slash, that would not come that way.
I almost lost my sword, but it cut.
And the sheathe of his sword clattered to the ground, the dress of the Badawi being a a lot less pronounced, now, a judge blew a horn and under the cheers of the crowd, announce me as the winner.
I bowed to him, respectfully, nearly inaudible thanking him for the awesome fight, telling him, that it had been fun.
In an interview later, I would say, that it was just luck, that we had been evenly matched.
Finals of the Junior Anam Cup, 6th of July, 2019
The broadcast's commentator was a man by the name of Finnegan Craoladh of the Tribe of Tralee, assisted by an expert in the sport, none other then Marla Cróimiam of the Tribe of Cork. The bluenette with the soft, blue eyes, which hid much steel, had followed the entire tournament.
The Anam Cup was one of the highest trophies a Marcach could strive for in the Northern Islands, while the Junior Anam Cup was the highest trophies for junior swordfighters. Of course, the finals were broadcasted, a day-long broadcast, where the sixteen in the competition were narrowed down to just two.
Today, those were Ceili Báigh of the Tribe of Fermanagh, a girl of eleven Springs, who fought in a backless, light pink dress, which looked just adorable - until one remembered, that she swung around a sword with an expertise, which astonished even Marla. Her opponent was Donny Saineolaí of the Tribe of Clonmel, who was a boy. He had shining blue eyes and light pink hair, which he wore long and bound into a braid.
Both wore little armour, which was a staple in such contests, mainly due to junior fighters usually betting on their footwork and agility.
The swords were blunted by wrapping lengths of cloth around it, so that the worst that would happen would be a bruise. No need to amputate anyone before they really got to know the second digit. The fight was one, once a blade was placed on a sure kill spot, for example to the throat, or if the opponent was disarmed.
Both Ceili and Donny had surprised a bit by defeating opponents way older then they were with an insurmountable number of tricks up their sleeves.
But now, both eleven year old children were on the field, poised against each other. Ceili bowed her head politely, Donny replied in kind, they both spoke words of greeting, introduced themselves and expressed their wish for a challenging fight. Over the previous rounds of the tournament, this formality had fallen a bit to the wayside, but seeing both children treat each other so politely was a treat of pure cuteness.
Even more so if one remembered the two of them were even classmates and, while bitter rivals in the ring, friends outside of it. If puberty would allow them to keep that? Only time would tell.
At the signal of the referee, the fight began.
Selkie-Swordfighting stemmed from the tradition of warriors training for war in the most 'realistic' way possible, so there was little in the way of rules, although there was a number of codes of conduct - guidelines, really, as Marla had explained.
But this fight started as none of the other had: The two children were beginning to circle each other, both hands on the swords of their hands, expressions tense, but unreadable. Who would attack first?
Who would be brought into the defensive?
A mind game began as the two children began to predate, their eyes hard, their muscles tense. The crowd expected the first move tensely.
And then, it really began: Donny lunged forward, brought his sword up with a yell, for a deep slash, which Ceili countered by rolling to the side, away from the arc of the sword, bringing her own sword up to parry, moving forward in one, swift stab out of the crouch. Donny dodged with a wide grin, twirling away and dragging the sword along with the kinetic energy. Ceili parried, then kicked Donny into the gut to get a bit of distance between them.
Nothing forbade that, and so, as Donny stumbled back, Ceili brought her sword up - and people began to note, that this had not been a serious clash, but testing each other. As soon as Donny was standing solidly again, Ceili attacked, a horizontal slash, which Donny parried, the two blades clashing with a dulled clank. Donny then moved to attack, a flurry of slashes descending upon Ceili, who dodged the first three, then met the blade with her own for the fourth.
By now, the two children were centimeters apart, shoulder to shoulder as they kept the other's blade down.
Donny used the chance to headbutt Ceili, making her stumble back. He got his blade out of the lock and swung it over his head, down on Ceili, who rolled to the side, brought her own sword up.
And then, a flurry of slashes and stabs began, rarely one of the children getting an advantage, using excellent footwork to their advantage, almost seeming like dancers. Their blades rarely met.
And then, Donny slashed from up down on Ceili, who rolled to the other side, rose out of the roll in one fluid motion and rushed forward, into Donny's defense and kicked at his poplit.
He gave a short yell in pain, Ceili advanced and brought her blade up to the back of his neck, finishing the fight panting heavily.
There was a round of cheers as Donny slumped down in defeat.
The referee declared the fight over and a moment later, Donny was grinning again, on his feet as he turned to Ceili.
Both competitors bowed to each other and under the cheers of the crowd, Donny congratulated Ceili and, a moment later, hugged the living daylights out of the girl, grinning from ear to ear. She let him do, laughing her head off.
The recording ended there.
2020 Redruth Spring Festival - Fights for the Redruth Sword Cup
There were only few contestants for a show fight, which could be more of the opposites then these two: On one hand, Llwyd Blaidd, of Tralee Desecent, an immortal Spiorad, old as the mountains themselves, if not older, aged by experience and time. On the other hand, Asteria Sclábhaí of the Tribe of Fermanagh, a woman of 27 Springs on the day from a town called Gliaire.
Yet, they were both quite similar, at least in one regard: They both knew how to kill with the sword. Llwyd has used the skill to kill in war, both as a soldier and as a mercenary, while Asteria had been captured in the infamous attack on Berlin in 2018, which kicked off Operation Spartacus, during which she was liberated from the Arena, where more then one man and woman fell to her two swords.
The Priest of Carman Fea, who led the proceedings in the arena, a far cry from the arenas Asteria had fought in for her dear life in Sadera, wrapped their swords in cloth to avoid any serious injuries, asked the Goddess of War and Science for Her Blessings to this fight and its contestants - they were showing their stuff, not actually trying to kill each other.
Llwyd fought with his large Type 3C Sabre, the Kyrenaian-made weapon resting in his hands with an uncanny elegance, while Asteria fought with two short blades. All three were wrapped in cloth, secured and steady.
Then the Priest left the field, silence passed for but a moment.
Then Asteria and Llwyd rushed forward, meeting roundabout in the middle, the woman catching Llwyd's blade with one of her own, attempting a slash at his stomach - the ancient Spiorad, however, seemed to have anticipated that, catching her wrist with a hand freed from the handle of his sword.
Asteria smirked and bashed her head against his. Neither wore helmets, but as the crowd roared in excitement as the two went apart. The ancient now-again swordmaster checked his nose, seemed satisfied, while Asteria watched.
Then, the two began to predate, circling around each other like two predators waiting for the ideal chance to strike, for the other to loose his nerves, something. It took only a few moments, until Asteria was the one attacking, slashing with one sword, being dodged, the ancient Spiorad rolling to the side, the wolf ears on his head high in alert, as Asteria rushed again at his form on one knee.
He rolled - forward, right into her defense, entangling their limbs as he used the long handle of his weapon to ram it into her chin. Roars of pain and excitement sounded louder then the thunder-like crackle of the handle meeting the bone.
She stumbled back, he pressed the advantage, making a slash at her. She caught his with both blades of hers, still very obviously reeling, but still solid enough to lock him. Then she kicked.
Her kick connected.
The male half of the crowd winced as her kick connected with a certain part - that wince was replaced by confusion as the ancient Spiorad smirked, pulled his blade out of her lock, gave a low stab, which made her dodge by roll, backwards.
Llwyd pressed his advantage, hammering down on her and her defense, forcing her back, back and further back, slashing, stabbing and hammering, until...
...she met the wall with her back, locked his swords, held him for a moment before kicking after his stomach. The ancient Spiorad angled his body as the kick came in, the kick loosing much of its force - and as if he wanted to show her how that really all worked, he forced the locked blades upwards, himself closer to her before ramming his knee into her stomach, just as she was regaining her footing.
Wind pressed out of Asteria's lungs explosively, her swords lost the strength, that kept them up - and Llwyd hammered the pommel of his sword onto her head.
She went down like a sack of grains, much to the crowd's cheering.
Almost tenderly, the ancient Spiorad caught her and brought her to the medics rushing onto the field, collected her swords and, while the medics were doing their thing, watched as Asteria rose again. He kissed both of her palms, a sign of respect towards her and her skills, and handed her the swords back.
Asteria was blushing quite a lot, too.
Semifinal 1: Elin Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Kaylee Paisúile of the Tribe of Galway
Two swordswomen each were in both semifinals.
One was Elin Blaidd, a Spiorad of twenty years, who's two short swords had brought her to this point, dressed in Gwisgwanaeth. Like at the Harvest Festival six months prior, when she had fought as her Father's Student, she was dressed and styled a bit after the Woodstalker, a deadly predator of the Great Woods.
Her opponent, Kaylee Paisúile of the Tribe of Galway, wore a leather armour, the brown leather accentuating her figure, her eyepatch over her left eye no hindrance to her abilities during the tournament. Her sword and shield combo had been quite effective, when it came to narrowing down the field of contestants and advancing her into the round of the best four.
Of course, it was Elin's objective to stop her advance, just like the reverse was true for Kaylee. Ironically enough, both women were acquainted, both being models for Bicíní Industries, a major clothes manufacturer (even if neither of them were fighting under their sponsorship).
The Priest asked for Carman Fea's Blessings as the swords were wrapped in cloth for safety, then he, again, went off the field.
A beat or two passed - and both women began predating. Kaylee's small round shield, a simple one with a green coating, was raised in defense, a clear and present obstacle for Elin, who had raised her swords in a position, which was equally suited for the attack or the defense.
With Elin's large wolf ears standing high on her head, a clear indicator that she was a Spiorad like her father, she looked a bit like a wolf stalking her prey - one could only guess, whether or not that was intentional or not. It seemed to occur to Kaylee, too, who made a lunge forward, towards Elin.
The Spiorad deflected the sword with almost a lazy swing of one of her swords, banged the pommel of her other sword against the shield.
Kaylee fled with a roll to the side. She was at a disadvantage here, Elin knew swords and shields, as her sister was a fan of that style.
The eyepatched woman seemed to consider her options, then did something, that Elin didn't seem to have anticipated: With one hand, she loosened the belt holding her shield to her arm, had a moment of issue of liberating her arm, then threw the shield behind her. Elin did not attack immediately.
Instead, she asked, quite audible for the camera: "Ya sure about that?"
Kaylee nodded, grinned, then stormed forward, sword raised, swinging it widely.
Elin rolled back, wanted to use the chance of Kaylee's defense being open like a barn door, but the woman with the eyepatch seemed to have anticipated the burst forward, made a step back from Elin's attack, beginning a spin at which's end she used the momentum to crash her sword into Elin's raised defense.
The swordswomen burst apart at that, just outside of mutual striking distance - Kaylee had the advantage in speed and range, but Elin had the advantage in stopping power, thanks to having two swords.
Then Elin attacked, one sword swinging high, one stabbing low, Kaylee not falling for it as she parried one and twirled out of the way of the other. But the Spiorad was not finished yet, she used the momentum to pull the other foot forward, too, her high sword still entangled with Kaylee's, making another stab at Kaylee with the other, this one coming in from the side.
Kaylee rolled to the side, landed in a kneeling position - she tensed her legs for a moment, then burst forward, into the back-left flank of Elin, who swung around, bashed the sword to the side.
That did little to stop Kaylee's momentum, though, and she crashed into the other woman, throwing them both to the ground - it was Elin, who recovered quicker, tapping Kaylee's head lightly with the pommel of her sword.
Elin was victorious.
Semifinal 2: Branwen Blaidd, of Tralee Descent vs. Ritubani Aoi
Branwen looked nervous, trying to look hard and fierce. The young Spiorad with the floppy animal ears, wearing her Gwisgwanaeth in the image if the Scalefang, which was associated with Neto, the God of War and Fire for the Spiorad, fought with sword and shield...
...versus Ritubani Aoi, Ritu for short, her older sister's girlfriend from Horai and a Mimio of roundabout three centuries. The large bunny ears of Ritu stood high as she wore a light armour of the Buko, the light warriors of Horai's past. Her glasses were off, revealing them to be the cosmetic accessory they were. Ritu fought with one sword, a long Sakuto Shoboto, and no shield. A Sakuto Shoboto was a long sword, with a long handle, about a meter in blade length, slightly curved and with a thrusting point, edge for slashing and said thrusting point connected in one fluid design.
Branwen's long and straight sword looked almost crude against that.
The Priest came out again, asked for Blessings, watched the swords being wrapped, then retreated...
...and a moment later, both women made a step, as if they wanted to circle the other - both stopped. A bemused smirk played on Ritu's lips, Branwen narrowed her eyes.
Then the Spiorad rushed forward, made a low thrust at Ritu, who, deflected her sword and used the momentum to twirl on the spot, trying to use her elbow to bash in Branwen's nose. It seemed as if she had anticipated that, though.
With a bang, Ritu's unarmored elbow hammered onto the wooden shield, which seemed to give the Mimio a moment of pause - enough for Branwen to push forward with her shield, ramming it into the back of the bunny-eared woman.
Said woman stumbled forward, tried to regain her balance and turn, all in time to meet Branwen's sword coming at her in short slashes from the upper left one time, the next from the upper right, then a bash with the shield - Ritu managed to avoid that by stepping back, out of range.
She had not anticipated such stiff resistance, it seemed.
Branwen predated her, the shield always between the two, the sword twirling in her hand.
Then Ritu attacked, thrusted at Branwen, who parried with her shield, used her free sword hand for a swing at the Mimio - who rolled away to Branwen's right, into her blind angle, to her right. Now Branwen dodged an incoming strike, rolling away to her left, away from Ritu.
Both women came to their feet again, Branwen with her shield raised, Ritu with her sword in both hands. Beats passed as both women caught their breaths.
Then Ritu pulled one foot a bit back, raised her sword high over her head, Branwen's muscles tensed in anticipation - it was a classic Mimio Tactic, as her Father had told her and her sister: Finish the fight in one blow, one decisive (and, if possible, grand) action and reap the rewards.
Branwen pushed forward, deflected the sword coming down with her own sword, bashed the shield into the other woman like an oncoming train, attempting to run her over, but that did not work completely as Ritu managed to get a foothold, stop Branwen and bashed at her head behind the shield.
Branwen moved off after the second of these bashes, giving Ritu the chance to bring her sword to bear again - and made a slash at Branwen, who dodged and returned the favour from behind her round shield, a simple thrust at Ritu's abdomen.
Ritu twirled to Branwen's left, where she wasn't protected by the annoying shield, but as her sword came down, the woman was surprised to not feel any resistance as Branwen had rolled away, over her shield, and was coming up in an explosion of tense muscles from her legs, whacking the flat of her blade over Ritu's head.
Cheers rose as the Mimio went down like a sack of potatoes.
Third Place Match: Kaylee Paisúile of the Tribe of Galway vs. Ritubani Aoi
With sword and shield, Kaylee visibly reminded Ritu of Branwen, who she had lost against not too long ago. The Mimio was visibly not happy about this matchup for the third place match, her light armour stained by bitter defeat.
Kaylee's leather ensemble wasn't better off, she, too, had lost a match and while she didn't get her head bashed in by the flat of a blade, she, too, had received a blow to both her self-confidence and her winning streak. Before the Priest could watch the swords being wrapped and ask for Carman Fea's blessings, Kaylee got rid of her shield, smirking at Ritu.
The bunny-eared woman cocked her head, then shrugged.
The Priest did his thing, then left.
The interesting part was, that Kaylee fought with a Kyrenaian Type 3C Sabre, a weapon that looked a lot like Ritu's Sakuto Shoboto, but which actually was a totally different weapon.
The two women began to circle each other, swords raised, the eyepatch wearing woman keeping Ritu to her right, with in the field of view of her remaining eye. She knew of her disadvantage, Ritu knew about it and both knew, that the other would try to use it.
And then, Ritu attacked, sword high over her head, she came down with an impressive yell, seeking to end the fight in one blow. Kaylee stopped the strike with her sword in both hands, angled it down slightly to let Ritu slide off, past the other woman's shoulder and widely open.
Kaylee used the moment to recover and to reverse her own blade to come down on Ritu, who used the momentum to roll forward, past Kaylee's right, into her back. Kaylee's step forward in her reversal of the sword saved her from having her back 'cut open.'
Kaylee jumped forward, bringing distance between them and the much needed second to turn.
She breathed heavily and so was Ritu, who raised herself from her kneeling position, assuming a position with the sword before her, both hands on the handle.
The woman with the eyepatch took a deep breath and then, she attacked: It was a basic attack, a lunge forward, bringing the sword down from on high.
It met Ritu's in what seemed to be a surprise to Kaylee - then Ritu's armored fist hit Kaylee's nose, making her stumble back a step. The Mimio had a neutral face on as she landed a second hit with her fist, sending Kaylee to the ground.
She placed her wrapped sword on her throat, making it her victory, then offered her hand to help her competitor up. Kaylee was a bit wobbly on her legs...
Seeing sister fight, opposing each other, always felt weird, yet there they stood, the Priest observing the swords being wrapped. He asked for Carman Fea's Blessings for this fight once that was done, vacated the premises of the arena.
Both sisters stood there, for a moment, Elin with her two swords and Branwen with her sword and shield, both lowered - they bowed their heads to each other, a gesture of respect for the other's skill. They had talked about this before: If the two came into the finals, there was no holding back and no hard feelings.
And then they raised their arms, a small, slightly deranged smile appearing on Elin's face. Branwen's eyes were hard, no nervousness in them. The two sisters were staring at each other, daring the other to move, not even circling.
The crowd was silent in anticipation, tension, apprehension - there was quite a lot of money riding on this match, who won, how long it took, if it would end in a draw... but in the end, the two sisters did neither know, nor care about that. They were to fight and fighting they would.
It was Elin, who attacked first, one blade a slash from high to down, the other a low stab. Branwen deflected the slash while twirling out of the stab's way, into Elin's defense, bringing her own sword down with the momentum, but Elin had already rolled away, to her own left.
That left her a meter away from Branwen, on her right, the sword low. She smirked.
Branwen jumped out of the double-stab, which Elin countered with, brought her trusty shield up and swung her sword.
Elin caught it with one of hers, twisted it out of the way and slashed with the other. The shield banged, then Branwen pulled her sword out of the lock, stabbing after her sister herself, forcing her back a bit.
Once Branwen regained her footing, the true spectacle started - the sisters went at it with reckless abandon, slashing and cutting and stabbing and defending and deflecting, their feet in an intricate dance, their swords ringing, the shield banging.
For a moment, Elin had the upper hand, then Branwen, then the two were evenly matched. It was hard to follow the quick moves, until...
...suddenly, Branwen locked one of Elin's sword in her own crossguard, twisted her wrist and, as that did not bring the desired result, banged her head against her sister's. Elin lost her grip, one sword falling to the ground, herself being forced back as Branwen attacked, pressed the advantage.
Four, five times, the older of the two could hold in the onslaught, could hold her sword - then Branwen rammed the edge of her shield into her sister's stomach, making her loose the grip of her remaining sword, wind leaving her lungs violently as she fell forward.
Under the crowd's cheers, Branwen had won. She helped her sister up again, receiving a loving kiss onto her cheek from her.
The Tape from 2005
One could easily hear, that the two girls were at it with ardent zeal and eagerness - that could not hide the fact, however, that they yet lacked many of the skills, which would make the duo of girls of thirteen Springs famous.
It was 2005 and Dísréad practiced in an unused storeroom of the shop of Mhairi's father, a music and instrument store. It was ideal, but the two girls had sworn to realize their dream by their own hard work, said dream being Rock Stars, in particular of Selkie-Rock. Their parents humoured them, one with an old guitar as a present, the other with a bass for some holiday or the other.
Both acoustic instruments, of course, not their electric counterparts.
And that was, what one shopper recorded in secret to release it thirteen years later with the consent of the two, by then, women and rock stars.
For now, however, Eileen was going through the torture that was voice break, even if it was milder for girls then for boys, and Mhairi had, after five years of playing the guitar, to fight with the fact, that she was in the middle of her growth spurt.
A tempting offer
We had returned to Motya two days ago from the state visit to Astares Amauricanum, yesterday went to Utica to give the necessary reports on everything we had seen and heard and done to the Sultana, to Mister Safir, to Mister ben Sahid and to Commander Jamkiya.
That had been more exhausting then the actual state visit, let me tell ya...
And then, during the night, we departed again via train to the North, to the Khanate of Tanin, where my future stepmom lived. Yasmin and I, in those days, were still warming up to each other, but she understood, that I just needed a few minutes, hours to myself to order my brain and to just do nothing for a moment or two.
Or to lie on my bed, covered by nothing more then a blanket, snuggled up to Aldhiyb. My loyal Sand Wolf was with me again and after he had almost gone crazy with happiness of seeing me again, he was now much calmer, letting me snuggle up to his large frame and letting me pet him.
It was almost like meditation...
I thought back to the last time I had been with Marcella, sharing a bed with her and Aldhiyb in the little cabin of the Harira during the last festival... I hoped very much, that I would be able to make it this year again and maybe... well, I had a plan, but more on that later.
For now, at least, I was dozing, caught in a memory...
...until someone knocked.
I was stirred out of my dozing, looked to the door, which opened a small bit.
"Aurelia?", Yasmin asked, "Mind if I were to come in?"
I was tempted to reply with something to the effect of "Do I have a choice?", but in the end, I said: "No. Just be aware, that I am naked."
Yasmin did not seem to be deterred as she entered, I could see her smile in the pale moonlight - that, and the silken negligé, which dressed her, but left little to the imagination. I watched her, my eyes widening as she reached up to her shoulders and stepped out of the little silken piece, which had pooled by her ankles.
"I'll have to remind you, that I have a girlfriend and that you are going to marry my Father.", I said, but I could not help but thinking, that Dad had taste. I'll not go into too many details, don't worry. Yasmin giggled as she stepped to my bed and lifted the cover. "What?"
As she snuggled up to Aldhiyb's other side, wrapping an arm around both of us, she explained: "Well, I am aware of both facts - you are going to be my stepdaughter, Aurelia. We are just seven years apart... yet, I know so little about you. I don't want to be a step-dragon and spent my time with you nagging at you and you nagging back. We both love Damir, both of us in our way, and I think, that we'd hurt him very much, if we were to end up like that."
I was silent.
"That needs two people, though.", she added, looked into my eyes imploringly.
I did not meet her.
Yasmin exhaled with disappointment and shifted, but stopped a moment later as my arm wrapped around her shoulder. I saw her little smile as she settled back.
"Aldhiyb is the winner of this.", I whispered.
Yasmin snorted with amusement and agreed: "Yeah, he is, where many men want to be."
Silence, this time a bit more comfortable, as both of us petted the large Sand Wolf.
"Aurelia.", Yasmin began and had my attention immediately, "I want to offer you something... I know, that you'll soon graduate and begin your Service. I know, that you are undecided where to go, but leaning towards either the Armoured Forces or the Coast Guard." I nodded. I had the feeling, that I'd like it with the tanks. "You know, that you can also join the administration, if there is a spot free." I nodded, this time more slowly. "As it happens, the Princess-Regent of a little Khanate needs capable and dependable help, preferably someone, who has a bit of experience in the Government-Drag." She looked at me. "So?"
"That's Dad's idea, isn't it?", I asked, not offended, but wanting information.
"I had it and he agreed, that I should make you the offer.", Yasmin replied, "I really need someone, Aurelia. Someone, who I can trust. And, preferably, someone, who has a use for it." She sighed, her shoulders slumped. "It does not look as if Father will ever be able to take on his duties as a Khan again."
I nodded, slowly. "Tell me more."
It was dark, pitch black, with the only illumination being provided by fire bowls along massive and gigantic sandstone pillars, which were decorated with subdued colours - and as the camera began its trek from one end of the hall they would show to the other, the colonnade was filled with one sound - the sound of footsteps, undoubtedly belonging to the singular woman.
A silver-haired woman in a long cloak, her hood drawn up. Those with good speakers and sensitive ears would be able to hear the bangles on her arms tinkling, but what was most easily assigned was the clicking of her boots on the marble surface.
And then came into focus what was important: Between the equally massive pillars, which were part of the wall, there were mosaics on the walls, thousands and thousands upon thousands of little pieces of coloured ceramics or stone or sometimes even gems being inserted to create gigantic images to honour the Gods. The Priestess looked almost insignificant in size compared to the images.
"Before the Light of the Gods entered the world, there was only Darkness, ruled by Absu and Tamatu.", she spoke in a clear voice and clear pronounciation in English. "The World, at the Time, was theirs and theirs was the World, Absu ruling over the Ocean Above and Tamatu over the Ocean Below."
- The Mosaic she walked past showed that, an underwater shot of two entities, one male, floating above, his hair long and his beard quite impressive, and one female, floating below, her hair long as well, her eyes shimmering like sapphires in the light from the fire bowls. A hard line separated the two, like freshwater and saltwater. There was a certain expression of longing in the eyes of the male figure.
That was the time, when music entered the fray: Lyres played a short, low introduction to their presence, those knowledgeable would know, that those were Bull-Head Lyres, instruments of the ancient city of Almadaldima, developed and used over five thousand years ago.
"There was no Discord, there was no Light - but Absu had seen Tamatu, He knew of Her Beauty, He wanted to see Her again and embrace Her.", the woman continued, "But the Law was, that the Ocean Above could not mix with the Ocean Below and vice versa, that nothing of the Ocean Below could enter the Ocean Above and vice versa."
The woman's hand softly stroked the edge of the image, as it finished, shortly before the next pillar forced her to draw in her arm. The lyres became louder as the camera vanished behind the next pillar, filling the void left by the Priestess' Silence, her boots giving a rhythm.
- There was the next image, the next mosaic, which showed Absu looking up, spotting something above the waves of the Ocean Above, while Tamatu had spotted something in the Ocean Below, both reaching out to grab it. Where Absu's hands closed around a bundle of reeds, Tamatu grabbed an egg, Her hands closing around the shell and cradling it.
The music receded again, allowing the woman to continue: "It was then, when they found objects, which they had never seen before: Reeds and the Egg. Tamatu cradled the Egg, knowing it to be important on instinct, while Absu began to play with the reed, making bundles and many different things - including a nest. He sent it down to Her, for the Egg, but it stayed at the Border, Tamatu putting the Egg in carefully... but..."
The next pillar came, the music swelled.
- The next image showed the Egg cracking open, but not in the Ocean Above or the Ocean Below, but at the Border between the two. It broke, light shone, but two figures within came out, a woman, six curls of hair on her head, a man, a long beard - the man drifted down, the woman up.
"From the Egg, Lahmassu and Lumasi came, Lahmassu drifting down into the Ocean Below, where Tamatu took Him in, while Lumasi joined Absu in the Ocean Above.", the woman continued, observing the depictions carefully, "The shell, meanwhile, remained in the middle, on the Border. However, for Lahmassu and Lumasi, the World was pretty boring."
One could hear the Priestess smile as the music swelled and the Priestess vanished behind the next pillar.
- The next image showed Lahmassu and Lumasi in Action, Tamatu and Absu watching as the two young primordial beings were busily setting something up, Lumasi something above the Ocean and Lahmassu something below, Sky and Ground being formed - yet, while the ground poked out of the primordial ocean and had a lovely ceiling in the form of the Sky, something was still missing. Both Lahmassu and Lumasi knew that, as they stood on the Barren Land.
"In their boredom, Lahmassu and Lumasi began to create something with what had been given to them, the shell of the Egg became Sky and Ground. With wonder in their eyes, Tamatu and Absu observed, what their charges had done.", the Priestess retold, "Yet, their work was not complete, they knew that. This land was barren and boring and so, the two began to create further. Lumasi brought forth the Stars themselves, while Lahmassu formed mountains and valleys, filled them partially with water with the aid of Tamatu and Absu, creating oceans and lakes and rivers. Tamatu gave Water to the oceans on that World, while Absu gave water to the rivers and lakes. Where the two met, the Water from the Ocean Above and the Water from the Ocean Below, Ea came into being."
- Indeed, the next image showed the primordial deities busy at work with filling the world, Lumasi painting the Stars, while the other three were forming and shaping the world with a fifth one, Ea, sitting at a beach and looking on quite taken aback. And as Lumasi was busy at work, one of the stars was growing brighter and larger - Malakbel, God the Sun, was born. In another corner, Ishat was jumping out of the smoke as one of the reeds in Absu's hands began to burn under the intense sunlight.
"With their work progressing apace, more and more Gods came into being: Malakbel grew from a star into the Sun. Ishat, Goddess of Fire, jumped out as one of Absu's reeds caught fire. Bel stood on the top of a mountain one morning. Another star grew, becoming the Moon, yet without life and soul, but ever-constant in its vigilance. And then..."
- The next image showed Ea and Lumasi, standing together tenderly as two new entities, a boy and a girl, were created between them - meanwhile, Luhmassu stood by in the middle-distance, watching them jealously as he helped Tamatsu and Absu with something or the other.
"As the world began to be filled with more and more life, Ea grew closer to Lumasi, Lahmassu being anything but delighted.", the Priestess continued, "As they grew closer and closer, Luhmassu grew more and more jealous, asking Tamatsu and Absu for help - but while they were busy conscripting Luhmassu into helping them with something else, Ea and Lumasi suddenly had two others spring forth between them: Enlili and Wadad were born, and with them, wind and storms and love, like a gentle breeze and like a violent gust, came into being."
The music swelled again and the camera vanished behind the next pillar.
- As the mosaic shifted into focus, one could see, what Tamatsu and Absu had been working on: Using the remaining reeds, the two had begun to create all kinds of plants and animals and - humans. Made from straw, given life and spirit by the Ocean Above and the Ocean Below, the humans and plants and animals lived together. And as the land was more and more populated with life, something else came from Absu: Ischthar, the Lioness. And up in the corner, on high on the moon, a solitary figure was sitting and weaving the beginnings of a tapestry.
"And life was created by Tamatsu and Absu, who also brought forth Ischthar, the Lioness, and raised Her as their child.", the Priestess continued, "This is the Story of how the World began, Eanuma Elish, before the Light of the Gods entered the World, before firm ground did not exist, when no destiny had been made known. But now..." From the right side of the screen, more and more light became visible, the scenery getting brighter and brighter, until the Priestess stood in the light, bathed in it. "...it was time for the Great Tapestry to be weaved, for humans to bring forth justice, truth, knowledge and all sorts of things. Those however..."
The Priestess stopped as she was at the threshold, the camera stopping its trek as well.
"...those are stories for a different day.", the Priestess finished and stepped out into the Sun.
Kyrenaian Natural Law of Nations
"First of all, allow me to thank you all, that you show so much interest in the words of an old man well past his prime, who speaks to you about a topic, that is about as dry as the summers in Oea." Pause for chuckles. "Then, I would like to thank Professor Meidorf and his colleagues of the Faculty of Political Science for the generous invitation to speak here, and the team of Professor Kabler, who are making it so, that my voice can not only be heard here, but also on the internet. I must admit, that this new technology is a bit adventurous to me, but if it works, it apparently works.
So, why am here? I am here, in Teressien, with the Sultana on a work visit, but that should not stop anyone from having a bit of fun along the way, right?
Now, I wish to speak to you about a Kyrenaian piece of political philosophy, which some of you might have heard of already. We call it Alkanun Altbeiu Lilumam or Natural Law of Nations. I wish to, first, speak about its history, then about what it is and finally about the practical application. In the end, there'll be room for questions and hopefully answers, too.
The Natural Law of Nations and the Natural Law in and of itself are remotely related to each other in the way, that they are both universal and exist without and positive, codified law necessary. They are less laws in the strict sense and more moral guidelines, but observing them never hurts.
In Kyrenaia, both sets originate in the Age of the Emirs, in the 5th century BCE. The basis for the universe as we know it, according to Hubal, are ideas, absolute and timeless and unchangeable - however, according to him, these ideas are unchangeable in their true form, but our interpretation of that will vary. He uses a cushion as an example, the idea is the non-physical essence of a thing, in this case of a cushion, which is interpreted in many ways, one to rest the head, one to rest the bottom, one square, one round, and so on. The origin of these ideas is the Idea of the Good, which either precedes the birth of the Gods, the Creation of the World itself or the Creation of Mankind itself. This Idea of the Good, however, enables us to act wisely and accordance with the, I quote, natural morals and laws of the world.
We then move on to Belresunu, who, in the 3rd century BCE, countered the ideas of Hubal with a new development, that nature and law were complete opposites, so a natural law was a paradox to him. A law was different from place to place, those of you, who received a speeding ticket on Kyrenaian Streets will have intimate experiences with that, while something natural was universal.
Belresunu is still the 'Father' or maybe even 'Grandfather' of the Natural Law and the Natural Law of Nations, for he defined natural rights. Of course, his students, never listening to their teachers, and primarily among them Anaubater, formulated and codified natural laws, which fit the natural rights, which their teacher formulated.
Anaubater argues, that natural law and positive law, he calls it common law, do not exclude each other, but should not contradict one another.
His friend and competitor Kassaia, by the way, one of the very few women in Kyrenaian Philosophy before the Second Kyrenaian Civil War, argues, that the natural law is indifferent to source of the law, be it wisdom, philosophy, the Gods or nature. The Universe was ordered along the lines of what she and her followers termed the Rational Eternal Law, basically a new version of Hubal's ideas, but the natural law was how a rational being lived with that order a virtuous life. This natural law also proposed, that all people were equal, as long as they lived a virtuous life or strove to do so.
Dareio Murasusu, on the other hand, an influential politician in Kyrene's Rusadir in the 1st century, argues, that justice and law originate in nature and can be rationalized by human minds. Natural laws, to him, serve to unite humanity and urge us to contribute to the greater good of the society, while positive law is to, I quote, safeguard the citizens, the states, and the tranquility and the happiness of human life. Law, to him, was a reformer of vice and an incentive to virtue.
In his main work, On the State and its Craft, he points out, that there is an unchangeable, eternal and universal law, a right reason and idea, which governs the interactions of men and, in extension, states, as they are creations of men. He points out, that there are men, who abide by these reasons and ideas, which are good and virtuous - yet, there are also men, who these reasons and ideas hold no sway over. And there are those, who interpret the reasons and ideas falsely, trying to act virtuous and good, but ultimately end up bad. By extension, he also applies this to states.
Much of Kyrenaian Statecraft and philosophy of state is based on the works of these people, on Hubal, on Belresunu, on Anaubater, on Kassaia and on Dareio Murasusu. It is worth to note, that only the last one was a politician practicing the art - and I can assure you, that thinking up something and practicing something are very different things.
Over the next twenty centuries, their works were interpreted and utilized. Especially Dareio Murasusu was a point of much discussions and interpretation. One of the most influential was the one of al-Hakim, from the 9th century. Al-Hakim, the founder of the Madrasa, which would become the University of Megido, too, spoke about both the Natural Law and the Natural Law of Nations on his own. He sees the issue, that the natural law is not the means to an end and not the end itself. It is, to him, the way to a good and virtuous life in accordance to what we nowadays call the Furusiyya, the Code of Honour and Chivalry, which he wrote down as a young man.
To him, without the will to lead a virtuous life, following the natural laws will not lead to a virtuous life, no matter how honourable, wise, intelligent or how good of a horseman one is. The consequences of the all acts are in the Hands of the Gods and in particular in the hands of Manat, who weaves the Great Tapestry. Thus, consequences follow the Natural Law, and thus acts are to be judged by three things:
- The Intent.
- The Circumstances.
- The Nature of the Act.
Morality, good and evil, are not relevant to the act itself. The state or nation is bound to natural law and is an institution with the purpose to assist in bringing its subjects to true happiness. True happiness derives from living in harmony with oneself and others.
It was this interpretation, which made the largest splash until the early to mid 17th century, when one question was asked by a philosopher named Iddinduk: What is a virtuous life and what is true happiness? He came to the conclusion, that no two men could agree, what a virtuous life or true happiness meant, but they could agree about what they feared - to him, this would form the basis for Natural Law, how a human being willing to prosper would act. Natural law came from the natural rights of any human and it was the sovereign's duty to codify and act in accordance with these laws, but also in accordance with morality, both to fine-tune and to act against those, who would willingly break these laws. Living a virtuous life was, for Iddinduk, not an obligation, but a bonus.
He defines natural law, for men, as general rules, found out by reason, which forbids men to do, what is destructive to their own lives or to the lives of others. He also formulates a total of 16 Natural Laws, the Natural Laws for Men of Iddinduk, which you can look up another time. More important for us are his seven Natural Laws for Nations, which there are:
- One: Every Nation is ought to endeavour peace, as long as it stands to reason, that it can be attained. If that is not the case, then every nation is ought to seek and use all help and advantages in war.
- Two: Every Nation must be willing to lay down its rights against other nations as he would allow other nations against itself.
This law is often paraphrased as The Rights of one nation begin, where the rights of another nation end. Not completely accurate, but it is a good shorthand.
- Three: Nations perform their covenants made.
In other words, nations are to stand by international treaties and agreements, which they made or signed. Breaking such is unjust.
- Four: No nation, by deed, word, countenance, or gesture, declare hatred or contempt of another.
- Five: Every nation is to acknowledge, that the other are their equals by nature.
- Six: All nations should allow men, who mediate peace, free conduct and safe passage.
In general, Iddinduk breaks with the tradition of a virtuous life leading to happiness, and breaks with all philosophical traditions before him - even with the notion, that Natural Law serves the common good. It is of little surprise, that his more brutish and harsh philosophy has not found much purchase after the Third Kyrenaian Civil War, although some of his finer points did find their way into later works by other thinkers.
One of the most important works for Natural Law of Nations is Amira Malginal's On the Laws of Nations, who was not a contemporary of Iddinduk, but only by a few years. She, again, one of the very few women of the time, who concerned themselves with political philosophy, argued, that Natural Laws of Nations are both universal, timeless and unchangeable, but for them to be in effect, there must be a nation to begin with - a passage, which would later serve as the justification for the subjugation of native, non-nation societies, for example in Jazirat Alshahwa.
She formulated a number of law complexes, addressing important issues of her time. One of the most important ones was pertaining the Freedom of the Seas. She wrote, in abridging:
- The Seas are, like the air, the property of every nation.
- Every nation is allowed to trade with every nation.
- Every nation is obliged to protect all trade, no matter if it is the own or not.
- Traders, merchants, travelers and men making peace, we would call them diplomats nowadays, have the right to innocent passage.
She also proposed, that there was no just war, a point, which, until around the middle of the 20th century had been fiercely contested.
Her contemporary, Azad Belsazar, laid the focus less on natural law, both in the personal sphere and of nations, but on natural rights. His works are one of the foundations for Kyrenaian Liberalism. All are equal, including the genders, all government derives from the will of the people, unalienable rights to life, liberty and free pursuit of happiness - Belsazar also argued, that to safeguard these, the nation needed to safeguard the rights of the individual, both the individual person and the individual state - this safeguarding, he admits, will sometimes take the shape of more violent forms as one nation tries to defend its rights against another.
At long last, I would like to mention another thinker of political philosophy and natural law of nations, someone, who you might have heard of, namely a certain Mahmut al-Zahir. Totally unknown, I know, but..." Round of chuckles. "...okay, thanks. The thing is, before I followed on Adil Nazir, I had been a younger man. Student as well, at the University of Megido, where I wrote a book in 1970 named The Natural Law of Nations - Prospects and Challenges. A bit of a handful, I admit, but I am proud to say, that it is still used as a teaching foundation.
In it, I outlined a concept for a Natural Law of Nations for the remainder of this century and maybe even for a part of the next one. I will admit, that much of these thoughts found their entrance into my political life, though that I also not always adhered to them. That is the first problem: It does not always work. Sometimes, with some, one needs to reveal an iron fist. There is a remarkable difference between theory and practical application.
So, what entails the Natural Law of Nations in my opinion in this day and age?
A big part of it is the constant pursuit of peace and adhering to agreements made with other nations. Another part is the freedom of the seas, and, by extension, the freedom of space - however, in the latter case, it mostly means the freedom from armaments in space as prescribed by the Outer Space Treaty and extended to conventional means. The spirit of that law is to open space to peaceful exploration and usage of space and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes. Weapons, no matter of which kind, are not peaceful purposes. Some of you might be aware of the recent revelations due to released documents, that Kyrenaia once thought about a system known as Lioness' Roar, a weapons platform in orbit, which was not built for a number of reasons - this, too, would have been against these natural laws.
This natural law of nations is seen as universal and timeless. No exceptions should exist.
In big parts, the Natural Law of Nations and the International Law are similar, in quite a few parts, however, they are at odds. One example would be the Freedom of the Seas, where International Law defines Territorial Waters and Exclusive Economic Zones, in a way, ownership over the seas. In the words of my esteemed colleague as a political philosopher, Professor Meidorf, it is not only a conflict between the Natural Law and the International Law, but also a conflict between theory and practical application.
Freedom of the Seas is to guarantee the safe and innocent passage of anyone with peaceful purpose in mind, for example merchants or diplomats, no matter their country of origin. In wartimes, this definition was under attack due to... well, no matter their country of origin - does that include the enemy? Where do peaceful purposes start and where would they end?`Would supplying the enemy with food be a peaceful purpose or not? To my personal relief, so far, I could avoid such questions by avoiding war, and, Manat willing, I will be able to do so until my retirement as well.
Another question, if all the seas are free to peaceful purposes, what prevents a nation from fishing in another nation's fishing grounds? For example, what would keep Kyrenaia from fishing in Teressian Waters and emptying them? No one can deny, that fishing is a peaceful purpose, but it would work to the detriment of another nation and its people - it might not be just, but it is permitted. So, we need certain boundaries, exclusive zones, where only one nation can pursue economic activity and is also allowed to enforce all corresponding laws.
You are starting to see, that while all of the theoretical ruminations were fine and dandy, and still are, they do, at times, collide with the harsh reality, that not all humans adhere to the natural law of If you don't want something done to you, don't do it to others.
I still refuse, however, to bend my theories to reality and I wish, that we can find rules and Natural Laws, which allow all nations and all of their people to live in peace and to live virtuous lives, however they may look, not to the detriment of others, but as one community. With these words, I thank you very much for your kind attention and I open the floor for questions and, if possible, answers.
- You spoke a lot about nations, Sir, but what is a nation in your eyes?
That is a very big question. Of course, we could say, that a nation is a stable community of people formed on the basis of common language and culture, history and territory. That would be, as you know, the textbook definition.
However, in practicality, you can cross out half of the keypoints: A nation is not always stable, as no one would deny to the Free Lands nationhood during the worst of the Yard Crisis. A nation does not always speak the same language in the strict sense, as for example, the dialects in Lillorainen are, in places, diverse enough to be counted as their own languages, of the same family, but to my knowledge, the colleagues in the linguistics department are embroiled in bitter discussions. A common culture, looking at Kyrenaia itself, it begs the question, what do you define as 'Kyrenaian Culture' and where does it differ from Shamsiyyan? One could turn the keypoint of a shared history and of a shared territory on their heads, but I guess, that you get the picture.
The textbook definition, while a good working foundation, does not always work in all details. In practicality, I came to the opinion, that a nation is basically an evolved form of the state. A state is a polity, which exercises authority over a given area, be it a city or a continent, and which exercises a monopoly of violence on it without outside interference, as well as has the full right and power over itself, in essence, is sovereign.
Now, keep in mind, that English also calls the territorial subdivision of some countries states as well, for example Lillorainen's Federal States, but they are something different. And please keep in mind, that a country is a broader term for everything but the kitchen sink.
A state evolves into a nation - how? By the people living in it getting conscious of the fact, that they live in a sovereign state, where the majority of the people speak the same or at least similar languages, have a similar culture and have a lot of history together - mind the key word: The people must be conscious, that they belong together. Drawing lines on a map willy-nilly and calling it a day can lead to disaster, as multiple ethnicities can make up a singular nation, but at the same time, multiple ethnicities can, when bunched together, lead to a volatile mixture, which will end in disaster.
So, in summary, the awareness and consciousness of the shared heritage and the widespread knowledge of that will make or break a nation. Sometimes, this heritage is constructed, sometimes this heritage is plain for all to see, sometimes, this heritage is hidden away, but this... nationalism makes a state into a nation.
- On that note, you mentioned sovereign nations and sovereignty - two questions on that: What is it? And can a nation give up its sovereignty to join a larger nation and would you consider that something natural?
Those are technically three questions. Regardless, we are here at the Faculty of Political Science and not of Mathematics, so let's get on with it.
A sovereign nation, as mentioned, is a polity, which exercises a monopoly of violence on it without outside interference, as well as has the full right and power over itself. And yes, a nation can give up its sovereign rights or parts of them to a larger polity or a supranational organization, but while I do not find it natural, I find it remarkable.
Take for example Salamthaluth. Prior to the Decolonization Wars, these were the three Territories of Arkhabil, Altayih and Mutasharid. There, peaceful protests demanded independence, which was granted in 1965 and only five years later, all three nations formed together into Salamthaluth - peacefully. In my observation a remarkable process and, considering the shared heritage of all three nations, maybe a long time coming, but not natural.
- How practical do you believe is the theory of the equality of all nations in a practical example, say, if Kyrenaia would be in a diplomatic dispute with Nouvelle-Dunkerque?
I think, you chose a few terms poorly. First of all, all nations are equal, as long as they are sovereign within their own territory. That is not a theory, but one of the basics of our modern international system - a fact. Second of all, allow me to answer a bit more abstract.
Third of all, in practicality, of course a larger and more powerful nation has more physical options to get its way then a smaller one, although, when both reach a certain size, these options become more and more limited again. However, the larger nation will be more in the focus of international attention, so its larger means need to be used in moderation, otherwise, such a dispute will cause disturbances in the relations to other nations. You can compare that to the footvolley team's Backliner being in a fight with the kids in the kindergarten.
So, a larger nation will not automatically get its way and rule supreme in its corner of the world, but rather, both sides in a dispute need to act carefully in how they act and why they act this way - this establishes a sort-of parity between nations or faction or camps, whichever term seems applicable at the time.
In the end, a diplomatic dispute is better solved not in a physical way but by talking and reaching an agreement fair to both sides. It saves everyone time, effort, resources and, most importantly if push comes to shove, lives.
Leona tours Theilgadún Castle
- Involved characters: Mona Beag of the Tribe of Louth, Arcane Priest Conner Dimhir of the Tribe of Fermanagh.
- Audio Available on the Archive of Radio 2.
- Note: All dialogue and conversation is held in Selkie.
I was under quarantine. On the day they announced the lockdown of several major cities, among them Cuan, I had been there, so, as a precaution, I was now confined to the Seminary... and with me, the entire Seminary of Lodan Lir in Traverse.
Many were here voluntarily, some were here, because they had been in contact with me, some both. I had been tested on the day of my return, with one of the serious tests for serious people, but those took six days, apparently.
So, for now, I was under quarantine for two weeks - if I was negative, I would be out after ten days.
But there was another thing, which had gnawed on the Cults and which was the reason, why I had been in Cuan: During the First Wave, we had not performed well. Too few priests in the affected areas, only little care of souls, many services had fallen through due to restrictions or simply fear... we wanted to do better with this Second Wave. I was, ironically enough, one of the driving forces behind getting the media on our side.
Internet live streams from temples, with the people to pray with us over distance, a bit like distance learning, live radio broadcasts, it was only a drop on a very, very hot stone, but hopefully, it would be the right stone. Our Priests and semi-professionals needed to overcome their fears, too.
With their Envoy, their highest spiritual figure and someone, who had been appointed by a God to serve as their representative, under quarantine, that might be a bit more difficult, but we needed to start somewhere.
Technologically adept Adepts had set up the link to Radio Croitheimhe, Station 2 would broadcast all over the Free Lands and beyond, cameras would record and stream it into the Internet as well.
It were 'just' the Evening Prayers, but these were usually the most-visited services on a normal day, they were important... I looked to Arcane Priest Conner Dimhir of the Tribe of Fermanagh, the Head of the Seminary and the Temple School, which was spared the Lockdown by a hair. We both wore Geansai, the Tribal Dress in different hues of blue, beneath long robes in deep blue with wide sleeves.
He took a deep breath.
"Here goes nothing.", he whispered to me as the Adept responsible for coordination counted down.
Three was silent, two was silent, one was silent...
On zero, a second passed, then the Adept responsible for the music struck his harp, playing a short, light tune - the greeting, a short melody. It was used by the two of us to move from the entrance into position. The Arcane Priest led the Service, I was his helper, taking the role usually held by a member of the community.
The Chapel of the Seminary was fifteen meters long and ten wide, a small spire reaching fifteen meters upwards, a small bell inside. Under the spire, a large copper bowl burned with a sacraficial flame, the altar to the side. The small temple could be entered from both sides. It smelled of incense sticks, which burned in smaller bowls.
The Arcane Priest stopped in front of the Sacraficial Flame, knelt down on both knees, while the musician still played his piece, me following suit, despite carrying something on my arms: A sacrifice to Lodan Lir, the God revered in this chapel. As the God of Sea and Rivers and one of the Gods of the Six-Pantheon, it was tradition to offer him more then just the usual incense in there trying times.
While the Adept's song came to an end, the Arcane Priest and I rose again and the older man took what I held on my arms: On the tablet there, a small bouquet of flowers rested. Lodan Lir had little to do with flowers, that was true, but his wife was Bebhion, the Goddess of Mountain Flowers. This was a gift to Her as much as it was a sacrifice to Him.
Into the fire the small bouquet went.
That initial sacrifice done, the Arcane Priest bowed, I did the same, we made three steps back, turned to the altar. I placed my tablet next to it, as the procedure demanded, the Arcane Priest stepped up and turned back towards the bowl, me shortly behind. We both bowed again.
His voice was loud as he intoned: "Good evening. These trying times made it necessary to use new ways and methods to communicate with each other, some of which aren't that old. The gratitude of the Cult of Lodan Lir and of Himself is with Radio Croitheimhe for allowing us to broadcast using their frequencies." A small pause. "I remember, as a boy, sitting in front of the radio around this time, on the same channel, for a different sort of broadcast." There were a few giggles and even I grinned. "Gníomhaire Inneall, however, will inspire us to stand against crime - nowadays, we need to stand against a deadly virus, united, but apart. Cuan, Ironcastle, Silverport and Leuda, bustling metropolises, were locked down as a precaution, as a measure to keep control over the spread of COVID-19, the Hinterlands affected as well. The first prayer tonight is for them."
He nodded to the Music-Adept, who began to strum a low melody on his harp.
Lowering my head, I watched the Arcane Priest raise his arms from the corner of my eye. If the people on the screens and listening to the radio followed the rite, they, too, would lower their heads.
"Lodan Lir, Son of Scahach de Mag Mell, Ruler of the Plains of Joy, Lord over Seas, Rivers, Creeks, Lakes and Oceans, please, hear us.", he began to intone, the first of the Evening Prayers, "Great misery came over the people of our fair lands and over the people of the world. Our worries weigh down on us. Be merciful, oh, Lord of the Seas, and give us the strength to carry our satchel. Do not let the fear cloud our judgement, but give us the same bravery to carry on as when we sail Your Seas. So, it shall happen."
"So, it shall happen.", we all repeated, more on reflex then anything else.
The musician stopped, a few beats passed in silence. This was the time for the small, personal meditation, maybe a small prayer attached to the big one?
Now, it was my turn: As the assistant to the Leader of the Prayer, it was one of my duties to recount a story from our myths, one, of which I hoped would aid the people listening to me, through their day. It was less of a lection like the Christians did it, but more of... well, one might call it Story Time.
I began to recount:
- "When the Mountains were young, Dian Cecht, the Great Healer, often wandered the World with His faithful friend, Coteachtai, the Carrier-Bird. Over field and through forests, atop of mountains and in valleys, the two looked for flowers and herbs and fruits, seeing them and experiencing them, all of which were creations of the children of Himself and of Carman Fea. Spirits of War, of Revenge, of Conquest and of Flowers they were, yet, their creations spoke of inner beauty. One day, He came across Coillaira, one of the Síbeani and the River Spirit of the Coill - Her Father, our lad Lodan Lir, was with Her, worried, for She ailed.
- "Great Healer, help my child!", Lodan Lir begged him, "Uncle, who aided me in winning this Child's Mother, I beg that of you!"
- "Calm yourself, my nephew. Aiding her, I will.", he promised, putting a hand on the other man's arm, reassuring him, before he went to work. A day and a night passed, Dian Cecht checking the River Spirit with all of his knowledge, before he came to a conclusion: "Her ailment is familiar to me, I know, how to heal her." Lodan Lir raised the Horn to his lips, ready to call upon the Mag Mell's warriors, which were his to command. Dian Cecht forced his arm down. "This ailment can not be cured by feats of arms or by warriors heedlessly trampling over stick and stone, but smartness is, what will aid her the most - for the herb to heal her is held by Munanna, the Bird-Monster."
- Lodan Lir rushed to his ailing child's side, promising to get the herb she needed and with that, the two, Uncle and Nephew, departed.
- Stick and Stone the two traversed to come to the cave, where Munanna resided. To their luck, she was sitting outside, whsitling an uncharacteristically merry tune. The two visitors approached her with respect - they did not want to aggravate her, after all, much less fight. The monster stopped whistling, when she spotted them.
- "What leads the Great Healer and the Lord of the Seas to me, up to my cave?", the Bird-Monster screeched, her merry tune forgotten. "My treasure, that is, what you want?"
- "Calm yourself, my dear feathered acquaitance.", Dian Cecht asked of the Bird-Monster, "Or have you forgotten how I healed your stomach just a few moons ago?"
- Muanna calmed down, while Lodan Lir looked at his Uncle with wide eyes. "You aided a monster?"
- "My young nephew, it is the healer's job to heal, not to judge.", Dian Cecht said, then turned to his former patient. "We come for a flower, Muanna, for my nephew's daughter ails and the flower promises healing. I ask of you, therefore, to please give it to us."
- Muanna glanced to Lodan Lir, who's question she had heard and was not amused by. "I might, but I want to hear your nephew ask."
- Lodan Lir bowed his head. "I beg of you, Muanna, please give me the flower my Uncle speaks of, so that I can heal my daughter.", he begged.
- "I will give you your flower.", Muanna said, not entirely unmoved, and continued: "But first, you must answer me this riddle..."
- I am longer then I am wide, I hold the colours of the rainbow, I am cared for, yet thrown away heedlessly as well - what am I?
- Lodan Lir was thinking hard, for a long time, until he noticed something: "A feather.", he replied, "A feather is your answer!"
- Muanna nodded and, being anything but a sore loser, handed the sought-after flower to Lodan Lir. The Lord of Rivers, triumphant in his quest, ran back to Coillaira, Dian Cecht preparing the elixir to heal her. In her gratitude, Coillaira took the little flower's seeds and planted them along her River, the Coill's banks nowadays being lined by Spring Weed.
And thus, the story ended. The Arcane Priest, who had helped me in picking the story, bowed his head lightly, smiling. I knew, that he would give me praises once we were done here.
A short bit of silence passed for everyone to recall the story, to draw lessons from it...
"Now, let us sing.", the Arcane Priest intoned, nodding to the Adept, who strummed his harp. After the first beats had passed, we sang:
- Oh, Lodan Lir,
- The Ruler of the Mag Mell,
- The one of the Mudskipper-Banner.
- Hear us, when we call!
- Deep is Your Love
- For the Mountain's Flower,
- Oh, Son of the Storms,
- Hear our Song.
- You protect us while we sail,
- Now, ashore, please be graceful and listen to our prayer
- Watch over us in our meditations
- And grant us strength to overcome the peril we face.
- Let us sail these stormy seas with you,
- Oh, Lord of the Seas, set our hearts at ease.
- In peace we will lie down and sleep,
- For you, Lord of the Seas, make us safe.
It was an old praying song, a very old one, from a time long before the Selkie knew writing, as the researchers had concluded. Regardless of how old it was, it was a well-liked song for the Evening Prayers.
"Now, let meditate and pray in silence.", the Arcane Priest spoke and for the next few minutes, we did exactly that: Meditate and pray in silence.
I had done this every day since I had been of five Springs, although the part of 'in silence' had been quite hard to learn. Amy had helped me a lot - and I thought of her. She lived with her husband at Arbhar House, not too far away from Ironcastle. I would call her once we had finished up, check up on her... a pang of guilt came over me. It had been a long time since I last spoke with her.
With that done, the Arcane Priest turned to me: "Let us light the incense.", he commanded me and I bowed my head. Taking a small box from the altar, we began a round through the temple, the Adept with the harp playing his instrument.
I held the box, which had two separate compartments, one for burnt incense sticks, one for the new ones. The Arcane Priest took the spent sticks and put them into the appropriate compartment, then took out a fresh one, lit it on a candle with fire from the sacraficial fire, and placed it in the small bowls for the sticks, where it filled the air with its smell.
One after the other, we replaced the spent ones and made a round on either side. With that done, we went to the sacraficial fire again. Conner blew out the candle and, one after the other, gave the spent incense sticks into the fire, where they burnt away in an instant.
That done, he bowed again, I followed suit.
"I pray for my kinsfolk, my dear sister, who is sick, my nephew, who cares for her - may they find the strength to carry their satchel. May we all find the strength for that satchel.", he intoned one last prayer, "I also pray for our friends all over the world, who were affected by the virus. Our friends in Lillorainen, in Kuronami, in all parts of the world - may the sick be healed, the weak strengthened and may they all be strong. So, it shall happen."
And with another bow, the Evening Prayers were officially over.
Rising again, the Arcane Priest added: "I thank everyone for joining us tonight, for this premiere, and I thank our dear young Envoy for her help. May Dian Cecht keep us all healthy."
So, it shall happen., I thought, as I bowed my head in gratitude to the compliment, the broadcast finishing up.
- Involved characters: Macha Taise, of Cork Descent.
There is an old phrase, which Sirlam the Scribe had once recorded from Prince Nuada's mouth: One only knew true terror, if one had been in battle. If that was right, terror was a friend of mine so old and so familiar, he might as well sleep in my bed at night.
And yet, I was still afraid.
I was part of a contingent of Selkie-Mercenaries hired by the Baron of Eyssenstad.
The Blutschelde was a shallow river, more a rivulet, near Eyssenstad. At the time, that had been a small, independent Barony with very good connections to both the Fürst in Hochheyde and the Herzog in Wißenthen, but three decades from now, it would fall to the Herzog after arbitration by the Emperor of Auwalt. Now, however, rebellious Barons under the leadership of the Baron of Maltesruh had assembled a sizeable force at Falkenstein. Another army was marching on Hochheyde, but the majority was going North, towards Eyssenstein.
Whoever controlled Eyssenstein would control the flow of iron. Whoever controlled the flow of iron, controlled the war.
For nearly six decades now, they were fighting, fuelled by foreign interests from Lutetii and Dousatel and Brucalla, which were not too amused by the Fürst in Hochheyde deciding, that a Baronat in Zyng, right at the border to all three, was a good idea. Old feuds and fights only served to increase and fuel the conflict.
And now, thrity-five thousand soldiers were on the field, which was bordered to the west by the Blutschelde and a small forest. A street went along the river, which, in a few dozen kilometers, emptied into a small lake and another shallow river carried the water down to the important Vatwasser.
As far as battles went, this was relatively small. I had seen battles with ten times as many people on the field... this felt important however, as if this was the last gasp of the Barons before they had to see, that their efforts and sacrifices were for naught and they surrendered.
We had the advantage: Twenty-four thousand men and women, well-rested and well-fed, 168 artillery pieces, regiments of foot and horse - opposing us were ten thousand men at most, most likely not even a dozen guns, who had marched for days and who were tired, they might have hoped to capture some artillery pieces during their march.
Tea with the Sultana
- Involved characters: Razia-Sultana Umm Albilad, Princess Aurelia bint-Damir, Amina, Ilkhana of Sarepta, Prince Mahmut ibn-Idris, Lady Fara, Sarina Ahtifala.
- Available freely on the WhoTube Channel of the The Little Desert Mouse.
The room on the screen was the small tea room, where the Sultana enjoyed a private cuppa every now and again. The low table was surrounded by people, who seemed to be relaxed, the panorama of Utica behind them, seated on comfortable cushions in a room lacking any of the decorations usually found in the Palace of the Azure Hall.
Of course, all people present at the table wore Fistan Alshams, the Kyrenaian Sun Dress, including the Sultana Herself, who was seated at the table.
The narrators voice came from the off:
- "Tea Ceremonies are large and complex affairs and training for it requires skill and dedication. Luckily, the Sultana allowed us to film the Tea Ceremony as part of the complex training of the Haram Girls' Academy and their Tribute to the Palace. Lady Fara gives the trainee a few last instructions, then off she goes."
And indeed, a girl, maybe fourteen and quite pretty for her age, stepped into view. She wore the Altanafus min la Shay, the Breath of Nothing, the dress of a Kyrenaian Handmaiden. The silk was enwrought with silver thread, making it clear, that she belonged to the Palace of the Azure Hall. She entered with the grace of a teenager, who tried to be graceful.
- "The tea is prepared by a cook or senior Handmaiden outside, the Handmaidens job is to serve the piping hot drink to her employeer's guests."
Holding the tray on one hand, the girl stepped up to the table, almost if floating. She seemed nervous.
- "It is very important for the Tea Maid to not touch ANYONE. That would be rude."
The girl placed the first cup, bending her knees while remaining upright with the body, in front of Amina-Khana, then moved on.
- "The Tea Maid places the first cup of tea in front of the oldest person at the table, who isn't the host. Right now, that is Amina-Khana, who is also the highest ranking guest, so she would get the second cup."
Then, the girl moved on to Princess Aurelia and Prince Mahmut, serving them with the same skill.
- "After that, it goes by seniority, the oldest first, then the second oldest and so on. The host is last."
Indeed, the last person the girl served was the Sultana. She visibly swallowed, but she placed the cup in front of her ruler and head of state with grace and poise. The Sultana watched with a bemused, encouraging smile.
- "Now, that the tea is served, the Handmaiden can retreat, once the host relieves her."
The girl took the tray in front of her body, then bowed deeply. The Sultana bowed her head in return. The girl rose, a small, barely contained smile on her lips as she made a step back, then another one, until she was at the wall behind the host. There, she sat down on knees and feet, her head slightly inclined, her eyes closed as if she was meditating.
- "Our little Handmaiden is now finished with the most important part of her job: The tea is served, all that remains is to wait until someone needs a refill or the meeting ends. Is Lady Fara satisfied with her young trainee's performance?"
The pan over to the older and more experienced Handmaiden revealed a small smile on her lips.
- "Looks like it, yes."