05 August 2007

Historia Antiquitatis – Part IV

Hey, folks. Sorry about the light posting over the past few days. We now return to our ongoing series on Ancient History, with your host, the eminent High Elven sage, Ceorlinus Rectinarius.

The next few sections outline the origins of the divine bloodlines of the Elven dynasties. If it seems like they go on a bit…well, you can blame Ceorlinus, I guess. Nothing brings out his prosey side like talking about his own people and their magnificent and tragic history.

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Prosapiae Haradi: The Houses of Harad

Throughout the Age of Wisdom, the Powers of Light lived in close harmony with their subjects, walking and even living among them; and even so did Bræa, whose Children had been given over unto the care of her brothers. And because the light that was in her had left her, and had been sealed into the ever-burning lamp that lit Anuru, Bræa walked more easily among her children than her siblings could, wearing her manu of matchless beauty, and teaching quiet wisdom to all who would listen.

At length, after many long years, she was at last overcome by her loneliness, and so she took a husband from among the men of Harad. His name was Cîarloth, foremost among all her pupils; and the people of Harad wondered at her choice, for though he was wise and tall, and of fair visage, he was but a common man, and not one of the many kings that had risen among the fair folk. In time Cîarloth and Bræa brought forth children, that were likewise tall, and all wondered at them; for they were pale of skin, and dark of hair like unto their sire, but wisdom and beauty beyond compare had they from their mother.

Because they were born of the Children, they were beings of Heaven and Earth; but with the blood of Bræa mingled into their line, they were the fairest and wisest of all of the Children of the Mother. They were far-sighted, and had dominion over the Skies and the Seas; the birds of air and beasts of the earth answered to their call; and such a strength was in them that they feared no Power of Dark. And these children did not die within Anuru unless slain; and even then, their spirits were ever reborn beyond the Ether, in the fair homes of the Anari.

The children of Bræa and Cîarloth were Nîamlo, Brahad, Sîallath and Xîardith; and these together were called the First House of Harad. And those of the First House were ever after mighty beyond all of the other Children; and in time they became living legens among the Haradi, seeking no kingship, but only to increase their knowledge, and use their powers to the betterment of the world. But of the line that held the kingship after Cîarloth, misfortune came hand-in-hand with might; and treason befell them, and horror, and death. And this dark fate pursued all of his heirs, even unto modern days.

When he saw that his elder sister had come to live in peace and joy with the Children, Hara, her her eldest brother, took a wife from the women of Harad; one Oramna, she whose beauty was first among the Mortal Children, before the birth of Nîamlo. Long had she been Hara's pupil in the wisdom of the stars, and she was wise beyond all save the Anari themselves; and even more wise in the ways of the mortal world. For she followed, as Hara had taught her, the stars in their courses, and knew the names of tree and rill and stone, and numbered well all the beasts, fair and foul, of Anuru. Their children were Elloamna, who carried her mother’s beauty, and Îardan, who bore his mother’s wisdom. And both came to life with their father Hara’s boundless knowledge of the universe, his unquenchable thirst to know more, and his undying love of all things upon Anuru. And they were the progenitors of the Second House of Harad, renowned for their knowledge, and wisdom, and guardianship and lore of Heaven and of Earth, and everything within them.

The First and Second Houses grew slowly, and prospered, and were ever revered among the Haradi, latterly called the Elves. No misfortune befell their long descent - save only for those who mingled the two divine bloodlines. More will be told of them later. We turn first to the origins of those called the Hiarsk, to whom the unknowing and ignorant have given the appellation "Half-Elf".

Originis Hiarskae, Benedictiae Bræaoni, et Fatum Humanitus

Nîamlo, eldest daughter of Bræa, and most beautiful of the Haradi, dark-eyed and dark-haired and tall, wandered long without taking a husband; for in truth she desired only the knowledge of the skies and the stars. Yet at the last she met and fell enamoured with Chuadwaith of Esud. And this astonished her kin among the Haradi, for he was not even of her own people, but one of the Esudi, a child of the people of Esu, arrogant, violent and inquisitive.

Yet their union had been foretold, fated and written in the Book of the Heavens. For in her youth, Nîamlo had been stolen away and hidden by the Uruqua Tvalt, concealed amongst the Dead who roamed his Long Halls; for he coveted her force of life and her beauty, the likes of which had never been seen except among the Anari. Indeed, so closely did she resemble Tvalt’s sister, Zaman (before her beauty had been blighted by her treachery), that Tvalt desired her; and he held Nîamlo captive, against her wish, in order that the Powers of Dark might thereafter force Bræa, her mother, to do their bidding.

Chuadwaith was the son of the son of a King of Esud, who had heeded the dark but compelling words of Bardan, and owed fealty to Tvalt; but when he saw Nîamlo held captive, his heart changed withni in, and he freed her and fled with her. Tvalt was wroth, and his fell and deathless minions pursued the fugitive pair across Anuru, and even unto the ends of the Earth. But Chuadwaith was wise in the ways of the world, and a mighty warrior besides, and he protected her against all foes.

The pair took refuge in the deep places of Anuru, with the Children of Lagud, where their King, Gargarund, the mightiest and most skilled of smiths, foresaw the battles that lay ahead for Chuadwaith. And so he himself took hammer in hand, and thrice-forged a mighty sword of black iron from the heart of the mountain; and this he gave to Chuadwaith to aid him in preserving the daughter of Bræa. And he called the sword Bjergshjert, which means “Mountain’s Heart”. And while living among the Lagudi, in the dark of the earth, Nîamlo bore three children to Chuadwaith: two sons, Cîarndim and Cîardak, and a daughter, Hîarhala. And for years, Chuadwaith battled the minions and monsters of the Dark, both above the earth and below; but never did the seekers sent by Tvalt find him or his family.

At length, after all his machinations had failed to locate the daughter of Bræa, Bardan sent his servant Mordakris, Lord of Hunters and of Wolves, to find and retrieve her and her daughers; and Mordakris was the wisest of hunters, and could not be denied. He followed Chuadwaith to the kingdom of the Lagudi, and assailed them with the wolves and fell hunting beasts, and the most horrid of minions, that were his to command; but the Lagudi were steadfast, and were themselves mighty warriors, and were armed and armoured as no others upon Anuru. And Bardan sent even his sister Zaman, blighted in her visage, but wise in fell blandishments and promises; but the hearts of the Lagudi were loyal to the light and firm, and could not be swayed. And even did Bardan send his fell brother Dæsuqlu, Lord of Pestilence, to plague the Lagudi with fell humours and disease, and to call forth from the Underworld the most horrific of creatures to harry them; but the Lagudi withstood them, and defeated them all.

In desperation, Mordakris himself agreed to single combat with Chuadwaith, and it was his undoing; for Chuadwaith, although by this time old and gray of hair, was yet mightiest among the men of Esud; and although sore wounded, he slew Mordakris with the black sword of Lagud; and the Earth and Heavens shook at the great wolf's fall, for never before had one of the Children slain one of the mightiest of the Servants of the Dark. It is said that at the death of Mordakris, even Bardan trembled in his shadowy fastness beyond the stars; for the death of Chuadwaith had shown him that men might be slain, but that the spirit of the Children of Esud could never be bought, blandished or cowed.

Nîamlo fled the scene of the battle with the body of her husband, and bore him back to the hidden halls of Lagud; and there she stayed with him, neither eating nor drinking, until at length she too passed into the shadows; and the greatest beauty that ever was or ever shall be fled the world with her. But though they had passed from Anuru, neither Chuadwaith, nor his wife Nîamlo, came ever after unto the Halls of the Dead; for they had sworn eternal enmity to the ravisher Tvalt, and would not suffer his overlordship, either in life or in death. But Bræa deemed it unfit that, after so many travails, they should find no rest after death, and so she importuned Anā to find for them some place of peace. And so to preserve in the record of the heavens the story of their courage and their fidelity unto death, Anā took their spirits and forged of them two orbs, and set them in the Heavens near unto the Earth; and these were called Chuadan and Lodan, the lamps of Chuadwaith and Nîamlo. Unlike the lamp of Bræa, they stood in the Heavens but a little apart from the Earth; and they followed differing paths, so that at times they lay together in the sky, and at times apart. And Chuadan was bold and bright, flashing the light of Bræadan from his face, and it seemed that he followed Lodan through the sky, as Chuadwaith had pursued Nîamlo when she was held by Tvalt. But Lodan was silvery and dark, and lay chill and beautiful against the vault of the night, gracing it as Nîamlo had once graced the Earth.

The children who followed after Chuadwaith were the first People of Two Houses, of parentage deriving from Harad and Esud; and they were ever after called the Hiarsk, known in latter days (to those unwise in ancient lore) as the Half-Elven. Because of their parentage, they were fair, wise and long in years like unto the Haradi; but also were they strong, and fleet, and full of courage and wonder, like unto the Children of Esud. And though in latter years the Hiarsk were frowned upon by both Houses, and declined somewhat in might and wisdom, yet none could forget that their heritage was once the mightiest, the wisest and the bravest of all the Kindred; for all could look into the sky and see, in Chuadan and Lodan, the light upon the Earth of the mother and father of the first of the Hiarsk.

And the Black Sword Bjergshjert was passed down from father to son in the line of the Overlords of the Hiarsk, for many a long age; until in the fullness of time it was lost. But while it was still known upon the Earth, by this sword were the Lords of the Hiarsk acknowledged as first among the firstborn of all of the Kindred.

But by far the greatest legacy of the intermingling of the two folk through Chuadwaith and Nîamlo was the Choice that was given to the Hiarsk, alone of all the Kindred. They, and none other, had the right to choose between the fate of the Haradi – to live forever a life of wisdom and sadness, unless slain, within Anuru, and then to pass to the Halls of Tvalt for a time, before coming to a final rest beyond the Dome of the Firmament (that that eternal bliss which is called the Blessing of Bræa); or to live a short life, full of joy and glory, before passing through the Halls of the Dead and beyond, to an unknown fate outside of the Universe, beyond even the ken of Anā and Ūru (that which is called the Wyrd of Men).

For none is it an easy choice.