Lays of the Elanthian Moons, Volume 1 (book)

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Lays of the Elanthian Moons

by Celebras Eleran

Volume I

Lament for Katamba

I write these volumes for you, Arelos, my cherished mother. You were not a follower of the moons as I have become, though you spent countless nights in the wilds bathed in their light. Yet you beheld the wonder in my eyes so very early when I would gaze at the night sky, and you told me these tales those long years ago to lull me into sleep. Though my studies have shown that these fanciful stories might not be wholly accurate, they remain at the depths of my calling. Wherever you are now, I hope you still remember to look up from time to time at wondrous Xibar, and see in its deepest blues my eyes smiling at you.

Greenswards shimmering under glinting light
From silvery clouded sun-soaked mortal-home,
An emerald eye ever spinning,
Was Phelim's plan, fair Katamba.

Its dense forests rose dark and towering,
All unblemished, no axe-hewn scars.
Rowan trees whispered of rest and slumber
While hooves trod silent, hushed upon pine needles.
And Lemicus danced through dells languorous
In the sheen of starlight shifting down
From Tamsine's Tears, her trim, sinuous
Limbs, stirring wildly the luminous airs
That ringed her shape like sheeting rain.
From mountain tarn mirroring snowcaps
To sucking bog solemn and wind-swept,
Burns and brooklets, clear becks and gills,
Rivulets cascading into rushing streams,
Each lake and mere, Lemicus nurtured.

And spindly-legged fawns sported and gamboled,
While dulcet Faenella dandled and cosseted them.
Cooing mourning doves called quietly
As Kuniyo passed 'neath their arbours.
A pleasance for the gods, peaceful and untainted,
Katamba shone down, turning in the heavens
Heedless of Elanthia's strife, a hope-laden sign
For mortal eyes moist with sorrow.

Aeons passed peacefully, long ages of mortal years;
The sun shone warmly, skies boldly azure.
Farmers tilled loamy soil while fishermen sailed,
And towns were raised, towering skyward.
No shrike's call was heard to shiver the night's repose.
No poisoned fang pierced the souls of men
with venomous barb. Vipers not nor asps were found.
Waxing placid the world peacefully slumbered.

On a time when Katamba towards the endless stars turned,
Last sliver of emerald sliding into shadows,
Elanthian eyes last looked upon it's grace.
Immortals were absent, man's needs calling them below,
And the fourth shining moon, Phelim's smallest
Whose name is now forgotten, nestled behind Katamba.
Gone from mortal sight, its glimmer paled and ashen,
The ivory-hued orb its end awaited.

A faint pulsing first heralded the birth.
One side of the moon surging and heaving.
Delicate fissures appeared darkly on the pallid skin,
Running ever larger from a rupturing peak.
Then a mammoth shattering, and the moon burst asunder.
Ominous and glistening an ebon snout emerged,
Wings twitched and limbs flailed. The worm rent its shell.
The final broken shards were flung into the void.

It's birth-home splintered, the beast, scales sparkling,
Still slick its wings with wet, slithered and tumbled to Katamba.
Eyes flashed about with cunning. Flicking sharply
Was it's scarlet tongue, scales polished black.
From it's nostrils arose noxious vapors reeking of
Ash and brimstone. It's empty gullet grumbled.
Along its snout, lean and grinning,
Lodged a shell-shard, last remains of broken moon,
Slickened with birth-blood. Slapping with talons sharp,
The shard was thrown, shield was hurled away.
Fir trees it rove, leafy frith it felled,
As the holt was covered, with hard moon-stone helm.

The drake forhungered, drawn to Katamba's essence,
Slithered with pleasure to slake its thirst.
The black serpent, emboldened by the quietude
The waters drained, the wooded wolds burnt.
Ablaze in flames, belching gases rising from its maw,
Its teeth glittering from torrents of red flames,
The beast took wing, brazen with fervourous lust.
Wrack and ruin it wrought with delight,
Consuming tall shaws, scouring the grasses.
Aloft over Katamba, its languid neck
Craning hither and yon, turning crimson what was green.
Baleful Dragon's gaze no bent escaped.
The frenzied beast folds and slades devoured.
A single haven was saved from fiery demise,
The shield, sun-hardened shard from Dragon's-womb,
The hidden holt harboured from scathing fire.
A flickering light flared round Katamba's girth,
Like the auroral flame ringing an eclipsing moon.
Mages on Elanthia, mystics and soothsayers,
Were struck by visions, streaming with fiery clouds.

Circling twice Elanthia, the seared husk of Katamba
A sickle-blade grew for seers mortal.
Where once a leaf-green orb glowed soothingly,
Blackened and cinder-strewn the blasted moon appeared.
It's fires still raging, flaming red was its aura,
As if new-born twin nodding to Yavash.
Sages knew not the cause, how serpent's breath begat ruin.
The shadow over Katamba no shaman could pierce.
Drakes belching forth flames, the dreams of prophets filled,
Fey and bewildered they fell in dread.
Burning groves they sensed, a blackened vale.
Glades vanishing, glens and thickets.
Scanning the heavens, they scried for signs,
The white moon had vanished, wisps of dust in its place.
In the gloaming light, glowing Katamba,
Wan and umbraged, grew withered and died.

Immortals as well marked the deathknell.
Their eyes from their work upwards to heavens turned.
The flames consuming, flew they to Xibar.
Waters there they gathered, the woods of Katamba to save.
But life was gone, lost to dragon's-breath.
Cinders and ashes left sodden and caked,
Were sole remains of sylvan life,
Once blazes were quenched, blasts extinguished.
"The Dragon is sated," said Drogor and Ushnish,
"Let us trouble it not, triumph will not be found."
Phelim was wrathful, fain would fight the beast.
The worm its life weregild would forfeit.
The serpent had fled, seeking new fields to despoil.
Pupils twinkling with pulsing blood-lust,
Its fleshy tongue flittered over its grinning fangs.
Looming in its vision was Elanthia's glory.

Fear that was shameful was by Truffenyi's rede
Wrested from the gods. To wreak vengeance
Storm-thewed Everild and steely-eyed Kuniyo,
Dulcet-voiced Peri'el, and dread Rutilor,
The gods hied to battle, girt in silvern armor.
Mortals trembled, and mountains fell into the seas.
The stars were hidden, steam billowing
From the serpent's fiery breast. Seas churned from the lost moon,
Drogor reveled to drown hapless souls.
The worm spread wide its wings powerful,
Talons sharpened, teeth flashing keen,
Its foes awaiting, fearless and terrible.

Seven days and more they fought the serpent's fire,
No sight of rest, sun enfurled by
Storm-clouds towering, by steam-clouds red.
The weakened beast, worthy enemy,
Did Phelim catch, fires quieted,
His sand he cast, slitted eyes did drowse.
In Elanthia's depths locked they the Dragon,
Cold to vanquish, rekindle the life-hearth,
Peri'el its keeper placating with melody.
His vengeance loosed, vigour lessened,
Moon-father wept for Katamba, mourned his broken pearl.
In comfort and solace, Kertigen lief would
Hammer a new moon, a haven for the gods.
Though sore was his ruth, sadly Phelim declined.
"Katamba must remain, turning ever in our thoughts.
A signal for vigilance, sign of our failures past."

When finally Katamba full-faced looked down,
The eyes of mortals emptied their rushing tears.
Its sooty visage cinders only and ashes,
A blackened hole in the sky, a blight eternal.
Would they never see again nestled above them,
The sheen of grasslands shining in the night sky?
No gossamer clouds green-tinged, over forests?
No lakes nor rivers, lacing blue across its face?
Forever more eyes would see its husk,
Memories would fill the mind of mourning for Katamba.
Sages for eternity will see the visions
Of the drake's fire-breath, of drouth and burning.
A solitary mote, set alone at the deepest edge,
Gleamed ivory and bright. Only plot to escape the fires,
The shard from serpent's-cradle, shaken from the Dragon's snout,
White and pure it shown down, unwhithered by searing heat.

Scarce it is that shard is seen, pale scar upon the inky moon,
For the tilt of the sphere, or its turns gyrating,
The cycle of Yavash covering in shadows,
The orbit of Xibar ever confusing.
A unique event, never foreseen by the wisest mystics,
Last remaining joy, the light of the Dragon's Helm.
Some prophets still wonder, predicting the ages,
Whether below that shell life might yet survive,
For gods to reawaken, again would greenswards shimmer,
Turning emerald above us, Katamba may revive.