Come around, little ones, and find your place by the fire. Come down from your doorways and join the light. Your mothers and fathers have put you to sleep with great tales of legendary times, suns of great creatures, when a rule of peace reigned over the lands and peoples of Adalan Eu. I am here to tell you, my friends, that those beautiful stories are not legend; they are history.
Now listen close, my dears, and listen well. For the true words of our past have not been uttered in this valley since your grand and great grand kin walked these streets. My master, the bard before me, talked of all her travels and chose me when her journey was finished to take her place. Not a soul did she pass without sharing her knowledge of the olden times, passed down from master to apprentice since the suns of the Dragon Bards, a tale which will come in due time. And so as her, I too come to you with the true greatness that was once Adalan Eu, and how it fell to such dark and cowardly times. And it begins with the coming of the Sedar and its forming of the Elaseim.
There were four Elaseim in the beginning, the first to set eyes on the beauty of Adalan Eu. They were born with names in their hearts, and knew themselves and each other as if they had lived together for lifetimes. The males were Salocar and Kido, the females Veroa and Rána. They stood tall as a tree sapling, higher than any of us would ever hope to reach in size. Their bodies were strong, with four long and slender legs and great, broad paws. Their eyes were a multitude of browns and greens, which were set at the base of their thin extended muzzles, tipped with wet black noses. A caring expression always held their faces, which were framed by pointed ears that seemed almost too big for their heads. The fur which covered them was thick, a marble of blacks, greys, and golds, with a regal scruff of mane along the top and bottom of their necks. They stood in awe of their first conscious sight, the vast mountain range of Shirak Ua, spread before them. But a voice, or possibly so many voices speaking at once, broke through their honored silence.
“I hope you like it,” said a soothing voice. Kido held his massive bush tail straight, abruptly turning to see who else was with them. Salocar and Veroa seemed more at ease, intrigued to know more of this place and themselves. But Rána held her gaze, too engulfed in the magnificence of the world before her to concern herself with anything else. The other three found nothing but a haze behind them, looming before the edge of a great forest. The voice, however, came again, and as it did the haze shifted in rhythm to it, and soon began to take a form all its own.
“Do not worry yourselves on my account. I am the Sedar, or that is what I call myself. I am sure you have many questions, so please ask them of me. There is so much lost to you now that you are your own selves.”
The three watched as the lips began to form around the voice, and then the head and body. And as the final features became known to them, the Elaseim found that they knew what this form was named, although they had never seen such a creature in this life before.
“You are a human,” Salocar ventured, “or have at least taken a human’s form.”
The Sedar gave a gentle smile. “It is merely the form I have chosen for myself. But I have also extended that gift to you, my Elaseim, should you wish to use it.”
At this, Kido stepped forward, for he was cautious above all other feelings. “Who are you to give us gifts, Sedar? We have no past beyond these few moments, and you come to us claiming we are ‘yours’? What power do you hold over us to say such things?”
“Kido, I claim no power over you or your kin. Before you began to know yourselves, you were all part of me, as there are a multitude of other beings held within me and who will soon live here with you.” As the Sedar addressed Kido, he and the other Elaseim felt a blooming emotion fill their hearts and they knew what the Sedar said was true. Even Rána, who had kept her stance but listened intently behind the others, now turned to the Sedar with a new sense of awe and reverence. But Kido, ever wary, held his doubt, and the Sedar knew this and continued.
“Look up at the sky, my friends. Beyond that blue you see there is only Blackness, from which the Stars and worlds emerge and flourish and eventually fold back into, only to be reborn again. For cycles upon cycles, too many to comprehend, have I followed the revolution of the Blackness, never knowing my own purpose in this eternal life but to watch the Blackness’ cycles come and go. And so I found this world among the Blackness, one of the infinite past settlements of the creatures you have rightly names, the humans. They are one of the few constants of the Blackness which always unfolds back into the world, and so in honor of their persistence I chose to take on their form as one of my own.”
The great sun was setting behind the mountains, erupting blue into fiery embers which made the gold of their fur glow. As the Blackness and the Stars emerged above the Sedar’s head, Rána looked back to it in interest.
“You said you had given us the gift of this form you have taken. Why give us such a unique ability? Why create us at all? You’ve had the freedom to roam throughout all the Blackness. Why give that up?” The others looked back to the Sedar as it lifted its human face toward the darkening sky.
“I have had eons upon eons to watch these worlds go by. I merely decided I had seen enough. I wanted to act, not observe. I wanted to contribute to a world of my own, become part of the cycles instead of being a simple bystander. And so I will. You are the first of what I shall give to this world, but it will not be mine. This world is one of my gifts to you, along with your Elaseim and human forms. So go, my friends, and explore this world of yours. There is much for you to see and know of it. Take as much time as you need. Keep to the waters if you can, and they will guide you through all this world has to offer. When you have had your fill return here, and I will be waiting.”
Veroa, who had kept her piece and listened intently to all the Sedar and her comrades had to say, now let her kind voice be heard. “Will you not join us, Sedar? Surely you too find this world captivating, or you would not have chosen it.”
With this, the Sedar’s human form melted back into an opaque haze and lightly wrapped around the four Elaseim. “I have looked over this world time and again since its own beginning, my friends. I wish to know what you think of it all. What you return, this world will be yours to govern over, and I would not want to leave you a world that you could not love with all your hearts. Now go and see the world I give you, your others questions will be answered in time.”
The haze diminished into the ever darkening sky and the Elaseim were left to themselves. They decided to travel with the sun, and so crossed the valley now known to us as Mornen Ai, toward the foot of the western mountain pass. The valley passed beneath their mighty paws with ease, and as the ground began to lift, meeting the mountains, they stopped to rest until the morning. As they began to fall asleep, the four thought they heard soft voices, distant and muffled, lulling them to sleep. The valley remained shaded and cool until late morning, protected by the eastern hills. The Elaseim woke to the warming grass and the light of the afternoon sun and began their trek across their new home.
After some discussion, the four friends decided to continue their journey to the west, and after about five suns they came to the western shores. From there they moved south, holding a much faster pace along the flat sands. Salocar and Veroa walked in front, matching each other stride for stride and talking of all the simple beauties of the world. Rána observed in silent wonder just behind them, while Kido held back, staying vigilant for any sign of other creatures in this place who may try to confront them, for he still could not bring himself to completely trust the Sedar. By their eighth day along the beaches, Rána had taken up a friendly badgering of Kido’s distrust.
“Why do you find it as such a bad thing to be prepared for what might happen? You trust that Sedar so much without truly knowing if it is telling you the truth,” Kido grumbled, shoving Rána off his shoulder after a mocked surprise attack. She gave him a smirk.
“Yes, but if you never give trust to anything you will live your whole life in fear and doubt. You must loosen up, Kido.”
“I agree,” quipped Salocar, who had fallen back from Veroa to make sure they weren’t getting into too much trouble. “It is better to show trust and hold back your doubts. You don’t want to ruin a great friendship by assuming it will fail.”
Kido let out a sigh. “I suppose you have a point, Salocar. But I am still not going to let my guard down just yet. At least not with all those voices I’ve been hearing every night.”
“You’ve heard them too?” Rána pricked her ears to the wary Elaseim.
“Of course I have. You all seem to sleep so soundly, I thought I was the only one. Either that or I was imagining things.”
But just before Rána could reply, a majestic and enchanting howl rolled over the beach toward them. Veroa had ventures ahead and come upon the opening of a new river, the one we now know as Vena Ie Bor. The three Elaseim raced across the salty sands to her and there at the mouth of the river they spent the rest of their day and slept for the night. The low whispers seemed closer to them that night, but none of them would speak of the voices again until they reached the great southern swamp of Sebian Oe.
Another thirty suns passed as they followed the length of Vena Ie, leaving the waters behind to cross through the lowest expanse of Shirak Ua. Finding the southern stretch of the river, Vena Ie Met, they traveled down into the rough, wooded terrain of Sebian Oi. Once they reached the southern mouth of Vena Ie, they again continued along the shoreline, working their way up into Sebian Oe, which sits north of the gulf, Ceromes Ei. There in the swamp, the Elaseim’s journey slowed. Even at midday they could all hear the whispering voices rise from the waters splashing under their paws. The voices spoke in a tongue the Elaseim knew they should be able to understand, but could not wholly grasp. Finally, after six suns of meandering the swamplands, Veroa made a suggestion.
“It has been almost sixty suns since we left the valley, yet we have not attempted to use our human forms. I do not know if it will help or hinder us now, but perhaps our human sides will give us a better understanding of these voices.” Although the others did not believe it would help, they were all curious about their other form. And so they closed their eyes, allowed themselves to relax, and picture themselves as humans. Salocar began to transform first, followed closely by Veroa. Rána waited until the others had transformed. Her love for her Elaseim form was the greatest of them all and she wanted to see just how the process occurred before attempting it herself.
It was a painless and exhilarating experience for them all. Their titanic bodies shrank, and as they grew closer to the ground, their hind legs bent beneath them, allowing them to stand straight. Their paws lengthened into fingers and toes, while their fur retracted back to only cover their heads. The black wet of their noses melted into the light brown of their skin as their faces took shape. By the time each of them had finished, no trace of their Elaseim form was left, not ever their tails, which had absorbed into them with their fur.
As the last of their fur disappeared, the four opened their eyes on a new perspective on the world. Their human eyes could not see so far as their Elaseim forms, but the array of colors astounded them. As Elaseim, they could only see the most basic colors, but now a wide expanse of tones and hues bombarded their eyes. And although they could tell that their hearing was also shortened, what they did hear was worth the loss.
“Veroa, you were right,” exclaimed Salocar, turning to the elegant silver-haired woman beside him. “I can hear the voices clearly now! It is like they are all standing next to me…”
Kido smiled at the two, who had become transfixed in each other’s human appearances. Salocar and Veroa had most certainly become inseparable in the long suns of their journey so far, but this gaze was nothing but true love. “Shall we see if we can’t understand them, or are you two just going to stare at each other?”
“Listen to what they say.” Rána had moved away from her three friends, walking deeper into the waters of the swamp. “It almost seems like a song. Can you hear it?” The others paused and focused in on the voices. And she was right; the voices were repeating the same message over and over, a chant which the Elaseim understood to say this.
It is not to dust that we are returning,
but to waters rushing and earthen stone.
And we will remain in a comfort, longing
for another creature to call this place home;
to wander the fields and bask in golden,
summer days; to rush beneath spread leaves, finding
shelter from the coming rains. Snow laden
forests and vast deserts have been waiting,
pining for the feel of footsteps once again.
The call of the world has become our own
as we have become the voice of its pain.
Hear us and make us less alone.
For we are the creatures who roamed this land,
and held the delusion we could possess
the heart of this world; we’ve learned that we can’t.
And now we are one with the rivers and grass.
Come, live, and love this beauty of a world
as we had never seen it so unfurled.
For the next twelve suns the Elaseim walked among Sebian Oi, calling out to the voices in their human forms by day and sleeping in their Elaseim forms by night. But no matter how they spoke out to the voices, no answer returned to them. The voices held to their chanting, and soon the Elaseim decided they must move on.
The four friends’ journey continued for another half a cycle along the whole north of Adalan Eu, and finally they found their way south through Shirak Ua back to the valley of Mornen Ai. At first there was no sign of the Sedar. No haze hung above the southern trees, and despite their calls it did not appear. They wandered the valley for almost half a sun searching for a sign of the Sedar, and finally Rána saw a shimmer along the tree line and let out a thunderous howl. The other three rushed to her just as the Sedar was finishing its shift to human form. It began to apologize for keeping them waiting. “Now that you have seen all it has to offer, what do you think of your new world?”
Rána was the first to speak. “It is beautiful, Sedar! The wide meadows, the hills, the steaming desert, even the icy expanses to the north are shining. Everything I see is something gorgeous and new! I can think of no better place to start a life.”
The Sedar chuckled to her. “Wonderful, Rána. And what of the rest of you? Do you all feel this way?” Salocar stepped forward, changing down into his human form as he moved.
“I believe we all have come to love this place. But there is one thing about it which still puzzles me, Sedar. Can you hear those voices? They come from the mountains, the ground, the waters, and all they say are the lines of the chant you hear now, and if we try to speak with them they do not answer. What are they, Sedar?”
“Ah, the Souls. I wondered if you would be able to hear them, and I assume that it is easier in your human forms than as Elaseim. The voices you hear are the humans who used to live on this world. They were great, a booming population of minds. But their hearts were lost, unsure of how to live with the world that they called home. The world was just as magnificent then as you see it now, but in their lack of understanding, the humans changed that. They worked against the world, and as it began to crumble under the weight of their confusion and hatred, they blamed each other for its downfall, and ultimately fell with it. It has taken this world eons upon eons to revive to its former beauty, yet it held no anger toward the humans. Instead it took in their Souls, and as their chant suggests, they now live as part of the world itself.”
And it is still like this today, my children, although many have lost the concern to hear the Souls’ Chant. If you listen close to the wind you will hear it, faint and longing. They live as part of the world, and so even a boulder can have a voice of its own away from the ground or the mountains. Sometimes even the trees can take in a Soul and chant of its own will.
Salocar, having taken his Elaseim form once again, stood close to Veroa as the Sedar finished its tale. “Now my Elaseim, shall we begin creating the other creatures for you to govern?”
“One more moment, Sedar.” Kido stepped forward to it, towering over its human form. “There is one more thing to discuss, although Salocar and Veroa do not know of it. During our travels, they two have been wise and patient, taking in all around them and leaving their judgment until everything was seen. They acted as knowledgeable guardians over us, as should be the way the Elaseim govern over this new world. Rána and I have decided that neither of us have these same gifts. We are both quick to judge, and must be proven wrong in order to change our thoughts. If we are all to govern these new creatures you are bringing before us, we both feel that Salocar and Veroa are more suited to make those decisions between the two of them. We wish for you to designate them Captains, leaders of the Elaseim and mediators of the other creatures. Rána and I shall be their Guard and see that their decisions are carried out and that they are protected should any creature not agree with their decision.”
The Sedar looked on Rána, who lowered her head in approval of Kido’s words.
“If that is how you truly wish it to be. Salocar, Veroa, do either of you disapprove?”
Veroa smiled to her two friends. “If this is how they wish it to be. As long as they are willing to give us advice should we ask it of them.”
“Of course we would,” Rána replied.
“Very well then.” The Sedar’s form dissipated into a haze once more, enveloping the new Captains and embracing them together. “You shall be known as the Captains of the Elaseim, the final mediators over the creatures of this world. Your lives, as well as all the Elaseim, shall last until this world envelopes back into the Blackness. However, you are living, and so not invincible. Should you pass on, the blood of your children and their children will hold the knowledge of the Captains, and the greatest among them shall know it is their turn to govern. Their manes shall change to gold, and all will know the Captains of the Elaseim.”
As the words boomed out into the valley the two Elaseim’s manes indeed took on the glowing color of their undercoats, the gold of the Sun. Rána and Kido smiled to their friends as the haze moved away from them. The Sedar moved up above them and spoke again.
“Even in your human forms, yours will be the only golden hair of the Elaseim. What do you think?”
The new Captains looked to each other in awe. “It is perfect, Sedar. Thank you.” Salocar smiled up to it. “We will guide this world with care.”
“I know you will, my friends. And now I must bid you all farewell, I am afraid.” The Elaseim looked up to the haze, which began to shift and fold in the sky.
“Why would you leave us? We have only just begun to know you!”
“Do not despair, Kido. You know all about me that you need. I am of no concern for you anymore. I told you I would give you creatures to look after, and I will. Just as I created you from myself, so the other creatures shall be created from me. The four of you were together a piece of me all your own, divided from that piece into four. In the same way there will be four of each creature, divided from the piece of me which holds their traits. In the end, you will have your charges, the creatures of this world of yours, and I will be no more. My only wish from you is to know this. This world is yours from now until its end. What shall you call this world?”
Rána stepped forward to the question immediately, taking the others off guard. She had known the name of this world since she first looked on the valley. “Adalan Eu. That is its name.”
“Yes,” said Kido. “That is the perfect name. Beautiful and simple.”
The Captains lowered their heads in agreement as the Sedar shifted through the air.
“Thank you. And now I shall take my leave of you. Take care of these new creatures of yours, and love Adalan Eu always. Goodbye, my Elaseim.”
And with that the Sedar set itself down, a mist across the whole valley. It pulsed as Ceromes Ei in a storm, and began to split into patches. The mist became thicker, more solid, and began to take a multitude of exquisite forms. They all divided into four pieces, and each took shape as its own being. Some were grand, creatures as big as hills, while others were small as throwing stones. There were creatures around the same size as the Elaseim as well. The first to take its final shape was one of these.
The four creatures had much smaller ears than the Elaseim that were curved like the inside of a cup. They had blunt snouts with light red noses and wide jaws. Their paws were broad and seemed to contour to the ground as they walked up to the Elaseim. Bronze fur flowed over their back, glistening and smooth, down to a short, layered tail, like rings within a tree. The fur along their bellies was more rough and grown out, almost dragging on the ground, giving it a darker tone. These were the Raionas; the males Kalorn and Patrom, and the females Zadaen and Coel. As they walked toward the Elaseim, the other creatures took their final forms and followed them. The ones who came behind the Raionas were the great winged Dragons, with feathered combs and chests as broad as hillsides. Among the rest were creatures just as big as the Dragons, the pale, spike-skinned Socerta. In the great desert Chivan Oa, as the sun would set, these could be mistaken for sand dunes as they slept. There were also the smaller creatures, those who could fit on your shoulder, like the Mongolins, small and lengthy, with armored plates all along their bodies. There were countless shapes and sizes to the creatures which found themselves in the valley, looking toward the four Elaseim.
For almost a full season after the creatures moved along the world to find places to call their homes. The Dragons took refuge in the peaks of Shirak Ua, along with many smaller animals. The Equepar, horned, hoofed and wise, went north into the harsh cold of Kibalan. The Socerta moved into the desert, Chivan Oa, while the Raionas made their place just south in the plains of Chivan Ai.
But I am afraid, my little ones, that you too must settle yourselves before the Sun comes again. Go back to your beds and dream of these times of balance and peace. And do not think that it will last forever. Times always come that shift the ways of the world, for peace or conflict no one can truly say. But those stories are for other moons.