This chapter is a brief history of the creation of humanity that lives within my upcoming novel, Winter’s Bite. Winter’s Bite is much later in history, but this helps to explain the magic system in the book, as well as creates the world in which the story takes place. Chapter 2 – The Eternal Dusk will be out within the next two weeks!
Chapter 1 – The Beginning
In the beginning, the Primal God created the world and placed within it plants and animals, earth and seas. He created the world to be self-preserving, self-populating, and not dependent on his touch and attention. He created two persons that he placed upon the earth, and then one more, and he gave part of his power to each of them. To Nalo, he gave a Spark; a tiny flicker of light from himself. He instructed Nalo to let the light grow within him and to let the world thrive. To Bela he gave a Thought; a bit of the mind of Divinity. He was instructed to grow his power and provide the touch of God to ensure the world endures. Finally, to Temra, he gave a drop of his celestial blood, the bond of God to World. She was instructed to keep faith alive, to give the world hope.
The Primal God then created eight humans on the earth. Man and woman, he created them. In pairs he created them, to ensure that they would reproduce and were not alone. He placed Nalo, Bela, and Temra over them, to watch and protect, and he charged them with the sacred duty to make this world a beautiful success.
Nalo climbed to the top of a high mountain, to the west of a primitive village that had begun to take shape. He began to meditate on the spark within him; sensing, learning, and radiating the light outward. The spark illuminated to him the simplicity of true power, and he showered it down upon the world from his perch high atop the mountain. Nalo watched the people below. He took his physical position symbolically and developed a mild disdain for the mere humans below. “They are beneath me,” he would reason. “They do not have the power that I have, for I hold sway over Light and Darkness, Heat and Frost. They do not seek to become great, but live a meager life. They are lesser beings.” And he distanced himself from humanity, providing for them what they needed, but never mingling with the lesser beings.
Bela took a very different approach than his twin brother did. He lived with the people. He talked with them, listened to them, and made himself a part of their lives. They were in awe of him, and listened to his wisdom. And his own wisdom grew by learning from them. He had the power to make things happen, for he knew the essence of the divine and the shaping of reality was his responsibility. But the humans he dwelt with did not have this power. They had to work hard to make shelters which would collapse when a strong wind blew through the area. By hardship they learned, but learn they did. They became adaptable. Trial and error marked their lives, and while it was not easy, they managed to survive and improve their lot. Bela would help them out on occasion, but he became more interested in learning how they thought. How they figured things out. If he jumped in to give aid whenever they needed it, they would not improve themselves, and he would be able to learn no more from them. So he remained ever present among them, teaching and learning, and experiencing their version of life. They were his friends, and he loved them dearly.
Temra formed for herself a temple of flame near the beach of the village where the first families of humanity resided. Great obsidian slabs climbed up from the beach over the ocean, leading up to the temple. Here she dwelt for many years, on occasion stepping out of the temple to the top obsidian slab to watch the village’s happenings for a time. Whenever she emerged, the townsfolk would stop what they were doing and gaze at her in awe, for her beauty was radiant. To them, it was as if they were looking at a goddess who watched over them and protected them from great calamity. She would then return inside for days, months, sometimes years at a time. Those who sought to honor her tried to bring sacrifices to her temple. Only one person ever made it beyond the second of the seven obsidian slabs, and he made it only to the third. The heat from the temple was too great and kept them at a distance. But they improvised by setting up an altar on the beach before the first slab, and gave offerings to her daily.
But one of the four couples sought the light. They saw from where the light originated high atop the mountain, and they left to find the one they knew to provide it. After days of climbing up a ways, and back down to try making it to the top further around the mountain, they eventually found the correct path that led them up. They reached the top of the mountain and found Nalo facing the village, his back to them, showering his dazzling luminescence down to the world below. They fell to the ground, prostrate before him. The sound of a dislodged stone caught his attention and he turned to face these intruders. “Begone! And never contaminate my presence again!” he shouted as he formed a blinding ray of light to strike the woman, Trilla. When the ray disappeared, Trilla was gone, disintegrated by the wrath of the greater lifeform. Nalo turned back to the village, expecting her mate, Raebor, to flee in terror and convey his warning to the villagers below. Instead, Nalo heard footsteps approaching and turned to see Raebor reaching out to touch him, a look of awe and adoration on his face. With a grunt of anger, Nalo leapt into the sky to land on a mountain to the south of the village. He settled in to send his radiance down on the village from his new location, and there he remained.
Several days later, Nalo once again heard a scuffing sound coming from the clearing behind him. He turned to find Raebor once again prostrate before him, giving homage to the bearer of light. “Again you have sought to contaminate my presence rather than taking my warning to the fools below. I’ll give you one more chance to send them a message.” The light became excruciating around Raebor’s face. He screamed, but the sound was swallowed by the light. He then felt wind. He was floating down to the village below. In ecstasy, he reveled in the touch of the bearer of light. Floating? No, he was now moving too fast to be floating. He was falling. He hit the ground ungracefully and the wind was knocked out of him. The other couples and Bela rushed to him, checking on him and helping him up when they found he was just winded. “Raebor! What happened to your face?!” exclaimed one of the women. “And where is Trilla?”
“Nalo is fair and just. He has given a second chance!” he cackled, and ran out of the village, and back into the mountains, ever following the light.
Nalo had moved to a new mountaintop east of the village, in hopes that it would deter the foolish human from seeking him a third time. But Nalo underestimated the determination and devotion that humanity was created with, and when he heard yet another sound behind him on his new mountain home, he knew there would be no rest. He turned to face Raebor once again, his face covered in reluctant resignation. Raebor stood, entranced at the glory emanating from the one before him, who now walked to stand in front of him. Nalo reached his hand out and touched Raebor’s face; this disfigured human who had lost his wife, his health, his dignity, and yet still came back to show his devotion. Perhaps there was more to this one than he had anticipated. “Go now, Raebor! You will be my hand upon the world. Part of my radiance you will bear all your days. You will be my penance, for where I did not treat you fairly, you will ensure that all the world is treated with fairness.” When he had ended his speech, he withdrew his hand from Raebor’s face, which now glowed softly beneath the renewed skin. Nalo rose high into the sky and tore free his mortal flesh, letting the brightness of the light of the Primal God burn in the sky. He began his journey west, and as he disappeared over the horizon, the day grew dark, and night first appeared. But so did the morning, for several hours later Nalo had completed his journey around the earth, and shed full sunlight to mark a new day. And Raebor returned to the village, singing the praises of the God of Dawn.
Over the years, Bela began to wonder where Nalo had gone, for he did not know that he was now the sun that crossed the sky. He had heard the rumors, of course, but he just could not grasp why Nalo would cease to be, and disappear even from him. ”Where I am, you are unable to follow,” taunted Nalo’s voice in his mind.
But Bela saw that as a challenge. He held the mind of God, and thus he knew that he could solve this puzzle and do just that – go where his brother was. He, too, tore free of his flesh and in celestial form stood before the people he loved so dearly. Splitting his flesh among all the people of the village, he fashioned a Gift for each of them, a patch of skin that would bond him to them. He fashioned for each of them a bowl, invisible to others, that dwelled before them, large, with a grate over the top. To the bottom of the bowl he affixed the Gift. He taught them the most basic use magic, and instructed them to use and develop it wisely, lest it bring about their destruction. He then disappeared into the night sky and hastened after his brother. For as long as the gift remained, he would be able to return to his friends.
After several decades had passed by since creation, Temra’s regal divinity was chastised by the Primal God, for she had been instructed to bring the people both faith and hope, and not just the latter. “When vision confirms, Faith only dies,” she whispered to herself. Keeping these words in mind, she sealed herself in her temple. She hid the temple from view, as well as the top six obsidian slabs. No heat escaped, yet the fire still burned strong. “With their eyes, they will not see, but with their faith, I’ll be made known.” When Temra hid her temple from the sight of humanity, the village felt a strong rejection. “She does not want us anymore,” one man lamented. “What shall we do?” another cried. Bela drank it all in, every thought and emotion these humans let slip fed him more, but he also sought to comfort them.
Many years after Temra had removed herself from their view, the villagers began to regard her less and less. They still brought offerings to her altar, and she still accepted them, but they became less and less frequent. Sometimes they went for weeks without an offering. Temra still watched them from the top of the obsidian slabs, but they never knew it. But she did not watch for mere moments like she did before. No, she now stood watch almost constantly, longing to see the people devoting themselves to her. Finally, she decided to send a warm wind over the village. As the wind passed through, several people heard the words whispered in the breeze, “I’m still here. I have not forsaken you. Have the faith to see me again.” Most of the people who heard the words scoffed and returned to their daily life, many of whom were too young to have ever had the opportunity to behold her glory. But some remembered. They would walk to the beach every morning, staring at the location where the temple once burned brightly. Temra watched them closely, hope reflected on her face, but they never did see. They were trying, however the faith was not there. Despite their lack of genuine faith, they taught their children and their grandchildren about the first days, and the three who watched over them.
Then one day a young girl was playing in the sand on the beach, and she looked up, right at Temra. The child waved and flashed a smile, showing off several missing teeth, whose replacements would soon grow in. Temra was taken by surprise and waved back to the child who happily resumed playing. That was all she needed. Temra then knew that faith was not dead. It simply lay within the minds of the young. There was hope for those who were not children when they looked for her through the eyes of a child. When they stopped pretending at what they saw and instead let themselves believe again. And as the years rolled along, her invisible temple became visible to those with the eyes to see; the eyes of a childlike faith.