mandag den 27. september 2010

The Four

"Sit down, children. Sit down, and let me tell you the story of the gods," the ancient, gnarled man said to the sailors, wenches and sellswords that had gathered around him. The inn was full to bursting, but his voice carried over the hubbub easily.

"Once upon a time, before gods were gods and time was time, a great beast was born. Vast beyond imagening, the beast ruled the cosmos for millennia, travelling among the stars, devouring all it came across."

The old man leaned forward, and, lowering his voice, continued "But from the great beyond, the Old God witnessed the destruction the beast wrought upon his creation. It awoke a great anger in the Old God's heart, and in his rage, he made The Four."

He pointed to a mural hanging on the wall. On it were four figures, but the mural was so worn and faded that it was impossible to distinguish one from the other. Every person in the inn knew about The Four, as did everyone in the kingdom, but the old man went on nevertheless.

"First of his Four was Ish'Nahmel, the heart of rage, gifted with the strength and fearlesness of the Old God himself. Second came Meen'tesh, the sister of secrets. She was blessed with cunning and the sharpest mind existence had ever seen. Third was Al-Jebel, the mountain that walks. The only creature that rivalled him in size, was the beast. Finally, the Old God made his fourth, and last, creation. The Stranger."

At the sound of The Stranger's name, a ripple passed through the crowd. Men and women alike made protective wards with their hands and muttered prayers. A gypsy woman whispered urgently to herself.

"Betrayer, deceiver, outcast, kinslayer," she said with the feverish eyes so common in soothsayers. "Betrayer, deceiver, outcast, kinslayer."

"The Stranger," the old man intoned, his rasping voice both hard and melodious, "was neither man nor woman, yet it was both. It was young. It was ancient. It was everyone and everything. It was matter and it was void. The Old God sent forth The Four to battle the beast. The Four felled the beast and scattered its remains throughout the universe. After the battle, The Four were weak and exhausted, having fought for nearly an eternity without rest or respite. They were all tired."

The old man paused and looked around the inn. The entire room had fallen silent, his story the focus of everyone's attention.

"All of them," he said. "Except The Stranger. In their weakened state, the siblings could only watch as their brother struck each of them down in turn. The Stranger turned to its creator and roared its defiance."

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