Young Findahl looked up at the night sky. He traced the stars with his fingers. First he traced a crude set of scales across the moon. He heard the door creak open behind him. He turned to see his father approaching him.
“What are you doing son?” He asked taking a seat next to him in the grass. His father rested an arm around him, the weight of the man was more than Findahl could bear. He involuntarily slouched into his father.
“I was tracing the Scales of Cenlore.” His father let loose a soft laugh.
“How is that going for you Findahl?” The old man asked calmly.
“It’s going well I guess, it can be hard to see all of the points because there are so many stars.” Findahl said squinting his eyes.
“You know how those stars got there?” Findahl shook his head still staring in the sky.
“It’s a long story, not one I have time to fully tell you before bed. Do you want the short version for now?” Findahl thought about it for a moment. His father watched him as his brows furrowed and his brain did the mental math. After what felt like forever to Findahl he decided he would want to hear a sneak peak.
“Only if you promise to tell me the full story soon.” His father looked down at him, all of him covered in his father’s massive arm.
“That sounds fair.” His father cleared his throat and then looked high into the sky.
“You see, the stars above us. They were the toys of the gods. The Rile, the God of Shadow and Darkness, stole the stars from Wen, the God of Legends. They say that each star was a fable. Each Fable greater than the last, stories that were meant for man. Rile stole those stories from us and that is part of why Rile is hated by man and the other gods. We were robbed of something that was to be ours.” His father smiled and looked down at Findahl.
“What would those stories have taught us.” Findahl asked, as he often did. A question for every story, at least one.
“We learn much from the stories the gods have passed down to us. Think of all the lessons you have learned from my passing the legends of gods down to you.” Findahl thought about it, then nodded in agreement. Findahl snuggled into his father’s embrace.
“Now let’s get inside. If I don’t get you to be soon, we will both be in hot water.”
“There exists a legend, one more common than that of Jira.” The old man sat in front of the fire, the warm hearth of the childhood home and began his story. The same way he had done time and time before. “The story is that of fantasy, a princess, and love.” Findahl sat with his legs crossed as he had always done. Waiting for his father to tell another legend.
“This is the tale of Lyra. The daughter of Erindore.”
“The Erindore? The god among men Erindore?” Findahl’s father looked at him with stern eyes. “Sorry father.” Findahl knew his father hated being interrupted, but he couldn’t always control his curiosity.
“Erindore settled in after his adventures and married an elf. This was not unusual for the race of man. Then the two led a happy life. Erindore’s fame and status gave them a beautiful life with some land to call their own. A small manor and some farmland. Then his wife Rin found herself to be with child.
It was a happy occasion. For our Erindore believed he was not fit for happiness. The deeds and actions he took during his campaigns and life, he openly expressed to the world that he did not see happiness in his life. The two were overjoyed. They celebrated for months.
The pregnancy was not without its challenges. Rin fell sick often. She fell ill of simple colds, and more severe ones. She always seemed to pull out of them when they seemed to be getting to an unmanageable level. Erindore grew his first gray hairs during this time. He was proud of them though, not ashamed. He famously called them his badges of honor, the first strides of fatherhood.
The land was not sure who was more excited for their baby to arrive, Rin or Erindore. The two were overjoyed at the coming days of their child’s arrival. Then the night came, the night of birth. A night of joy, sorrow, and much more than the Erindore had expected.” Findahl’s father took in a deep labored breath.
“The birth was long and hard. The hand maidens spent so much time washing towels and working with Rin. By day’s arrival their child was brought into the world. It was to Erindore’s shock, dfismay, and horror, none of which more than the other. He saw his baby girl, all covered in crimson fur, with hooves for feet. His daughter, was not his.” Findahl’s eyes grew wide.
“So it was that Erindore banished his new child Lyra and his love Rin. He banished them both away to a keep hidden in the mountains of their land. It is said, that there is a valley where no men must go. For they will be enchanted by the charms of Rin and eaten by their daughter, the demon child. This valley holds apples of sin and corruption. Over time people forgot of this valley. After a decade, no one spoke of it in Erindore’s land. When he passed, no one spoke of his love and daughter then either. And so they were lost to time, and some say they live on. Cursed to reside in that valley, that valley of despair.”
“There is a story everyone in Goarahn tells. A story that keeps children in their beds at night. A story young and old parents pass down from generation to generation. The story of Jira. The name still strikes fear into some adults to this day.
The story is a little different from region to region and continent to continent but the overall message is the same. This is the story I tell to you young Findahl. For All gods want their legends told and it is our jobs to tell them.” The old man took in a deep breath and drank on his wine. A small boy with auburn hair sat attentively listening to the story his father was about to tell him.
“There was a small boy about your age who lived in a town about this size.” The man was interrupted by Findahl’s voice.
“Do you adjust the city and age for the audience?” His father smiled a frustrated smile.
“Findahl, you should be careful with your questions. There are people in this world who would not do to be questioned so opnely. You are intelligent, but it could land you in hot water one day.” The fire in the chimney cracked and popped. The warm hearth making a cozy wine-filled man, and an eager curious young boy happy to be together.
“As I was saying, there was a young boy about your age in a town this size. He would often run off in the night. He was not up to no good. Nor was he intended to do evil of any kind. He loved to explore and find the wonder of night. He often saw things a small boy should not. He saw people who should not be together.
He witnessed crimes and unsavory activity. Though the young boy did not care for any of that. They were merely milestones for the tree lines. For this young boy wanted so desperately to have something other than an ordinary farm boy life. He wanted adventure. He had heard the tales of Aeridorn the Great, and Eulden the of the Shadows. He wanted to be a legend, he wanted to do legendary things.
He strived to be great. He found himself in the thick of the woods each night looking for something new and adventurous. One morning he was returning to his home a little later than usual. His mother was waiting for him this time. She scolded him for being out without telling her, and for being out at night. She warned him of the dangers of the world. The young boy promised her he would not do it again.
He promised her he would be better and stay in his bed at night. He promised her all of these things. To be fair to our young boy, he tried. Each night he stayed in bed, he suffered great sorrow. He yearned for adventure. This went on for a week. What like the longest week of this boys life. Then he left in the night again. He could no longer stand the thought of adventure lost. It was on this night our young adventurer stumbled into a fairy. This fairy was not like most fairies, when she saw the young boy she approached him.” He took in a deep breath and another swig of warm wine. Young Findahl sat on the edge of his seat, the brown wooden chair threatening to topple over as he did so.
“The fairy said to him. “Young boy, why are you out here all on your own?” The boy wasn’t sure what to make of her. Her small glowing form was something he had not seen before. Before tonight he had only heard stories of fairies.
“I am looking for adventure. I am looking for the start of my story. I want to be great like Eulden of the Shadows.” The young boy confessed to the fairy. The same confession he had made many times before to adults in his village. The fairy put her small delicate hand to her chin and asked.
“What would you give for such a story to be yours?” The young, foolish boy said the first thing his heart could muster.
“Anything.” The word slipped from the boy like steam a kettle. There was not trapping it.
“Anything eh?” The fairy responded. The fairy pondered over the boy for a moment and then said to him, “You know that these legends you speak of, the lives they led were not easy. They do not reflect the stories we tell of them. The deeds they achieved were great, but the hurdles they had to climb. They were great and arduous. Is this still something you want.” The boy set his jaw and found the determination and confidence only a young boy can.
“Yes.” He said, trying his best to sound like the man he wasn’t.
“Very well then,” The fairy said to him. “Come back to me tomorrow night and I will set you on the start of your adventure.” The boy nodded and returned home. His mother was waiting for him again. She yelled at him. She for the first time in his young life spanked him. She warned him of the woods. He told her about the fairy. Her offer for adventure. His mother screamed and locked him in his room. She told him not to trust fairies and that he would not be returning to the woods tonight.
The boy decided he would in fact be going to the fairy that night. So, he left after she left. A locked door was nothing for him to get through. He used an old set of lock picking tools he had found in the village and after an hour of trial and error, he got out. He left in the middle of the day and waited for night time to come. He was just beginning to get hungry waiting for the fairy, when she found him.
“Are you ready?” She asked him. He nodded. He was more than ready. “Then you will be my champion. My collector of souls. You will be the very force that strikes fear in the hearts of all.” The boy scrunched his eye brows as she spoke.
“I don’t want that at all.” He said determined to get his way. “I want to be a good force, a legend of honor and victory.” The fairy smiled and tapped him on the forehead.
“Those things all depend on who’s side of the fence you are own. You will be the champion of the fairies. Together we will protect our kingdom. Jira, of the night. Now go forth and collect what I seek from your town.” The boy felt a strange sensation come over him. His arms and legs grew three times their size, his torso stretched painfully. His head morphed, it all hurt. He screamed but no noise came of it. When the transformation was complete the boy stood twelve feet tall, a large humanoid shadow figure. The shadows falling off of him like water from a cliff. “Everyone will fear the night, darkness, and even their own shadow thanks to you Jira.”
“I do not want this. I will not do it. The boy said, his voice now deep and monstrous.
“You will, and the town is already dead, I just want you to collect their souls I left behind. You first feeding should be an easy one.” She said sharply, her face much more twisted than it had just been before.
“You what?” The boy tried to cry at the thought of his mother and the village being killed. “How did you know where they were? I always get lost trying to find home. How could you have found them?” The deep shadowy rumble of his new visage echo’d through the woods.
“I followed your footprints of course.” She said slyly.
So our young boy found himself transformed. He found the urges to go collect the souls too strong. He could smell them from here. So he did, and so he would continue to do. We tel this story to remind our young that going out at night and disobeying their elders can be dangerous. Jira, of the night is out there collecting. The last thing we want for our young is to be collected, or worse… Become one of Jira’s servants.” His father stopped speaking and finished the cup of warm wine.
“Is that a true story?” Findahl asked politely.
“As true as any other story my boy.” The old man said smiling.
“What if I vowed to stop him?” Findahl questioned his father determined for an answer.
“Then you would be choosing not to learn the same lesson Jira did as a boy. Not everyone is meant to be great. Some of us reach for the stars but end up falling from the sky.”