Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mother Stole Fire

 
Ama Adimatha, Mother of Multitudes


The gods of man number in the countless thousands, but Ama Adimatha stands honored above all of them. Go anywhere in the world, even to the top of Sky-Eater Mountain or the deepest pits of Hell, and you will find her.

She is the soft voice you heard in the womb, the gentle arms that held you close, the guiding hand of your first tottering steps. She is the shield against evil, the keeper of woman's secret wisdom, the source of love and bountiful life. She is strong as the pillars of the earth. She's a joker, a japester, a right-up prankster. Vast is her compassion, unbreakable is her spirit, clever is her tongue, and most terrible is her wrath.

She is our mother.

Here is a story of how she stole fire.

*****

Long ago, in the green and timeless days before the coming of the ice, there was a goddess of the ape-men named Clever Lu. She was always getting into trouble: playing pranks on the tribe chiefs, gossiping with songbirds, stealing fruit from the highest trees, racing the gazelles, dancing with the Folk come the rains. And she she got it in her head that she ought to steal the crown of fire from Hō-ō, King of the Heavens and Highest of the Dragon Lords.

Clever as she was, Lu could not match the guile and power of the king. Not just yet. She went forth into the world to find her greatest trick and had a great many adventures, some of which were even true.

She escaped the clutches of Pan-Pongo, savage god-chief of the ape-men, by getting him drunk on palm-wine and leaving him lost in the woods. She ventured into the halls of the star-nosed Mountain King and feasted there with the dwarves. She wrestled the great catfish Tija Gnood for four days and four nights, and then cooked him up for breakfast. She stole the words out of the mouth of Fantool the River Serpent and sold them back to him. She made friends of the Old Ones, made enemies of the Álfar, and started a war in the process. She belched out a song to impress the Great Goblin Queen. She beat Aran Stone-Brow in a game of riddles, and walked all the way to the edge of the world. She moved a mountain from Here to There Over the Horizon by chaining it to the sun with a braid of her hair, and so won a cloak of feathers from Raven.

When finally she came to climb the Crown of the World, she was no longer the nut-brown girl who had left the forest domain of Pan-Pongo; She was now a goddess grown, taught well by time and trial. By the magics of Raven's black cloak, she disguised herself as a saurian priestess come from the distant deserts to give homage to the Mesozoic King, and so gained entry to his milk white palace on the mountain peak.

She was brought before Hō-ō, who was as glorious as the setting sun. Clever Lu bowed before him, and presented her most honeyed words. The king was taken by her tribute and by the comeliness of her disguise, and so agreed when she offered to dance for him. This was her trap, for she wove a spell into her dance so that the king and all his court would fall into a deep and dreamless sleep, and so it was.

Grinning to herself, Clever Lu shed her disguise, shimmied up the throne, and stole the crown of fire right from Hō-ō's head. The great dragon snuffled in his sleep. She departed the throne room by tiptoe.

But dragons have potent magic of their own, and her spell of sleep quickly faded. Hō-ō awoke, and realizing that he had been tricked, roared up to the night sky:

"THIEF! THIEEEEEEEEEEEEF!"

He tore through the his chambers, following the scent of ape. The milk-white palace collapsed around him in his rage. Claws glistening, teeth alight with dragonsfire, thunderous wings outstretched, he bore down on the escaping Lu, chasing her to the very edge of the mountain peak.

She stood there upon the cliff, knee-deep in the snow, the burning crown in her hands, and realized that she had made a terrible mistake.

She offered to return the crown, to leave and never return, but Hō-ō, blinded by rage, ignored her pleas and tears. The King of the Heavens vowed to her that he and his kind, their children and all their children's children, would hunt the ape-men to the ends of the world, to slaughter them to the last. None would be spared. Their forests would be put to the torch, their plains made barren, their gods broken and cast aside. To the last mewling child Hō-ō would see them devoured. With a terrible howl he summoned the ranks of his dragons, and Lu watched in horror as they flew out from the Crown of the World.

There was a moment, where Lu thought of throwing herself from the mountain there, but despair melted in the blast furnace of newborn anger. They had threatened her people, her children... 

Her fury a-burning about her, Lu reached up a hand to the sky and grasped a star in her fist. With all her rage and love and hate and hope, she tore that iron star out of the sky, screaming...


"FUCK YOU!"

 ...and brought it down upon Hō-ō, his castle, his mountain, and all the world: the fist of an angry goddess.

Thus the world was broken and remade, and passed from dragons to man. The green and timeless days gave way to a white and frozen age. Continents and seas were shaped and re-shaped. The dragons and their children died. Mankind was born of the ape-men. The Folk warred among themselves.

Standing over the corpse of Hō-ō, Mother placed the crown of fire upon her head, and led her children into winter.

*****

This is it, then, the proper opening to this setting I've been working on. There will be more to come, of course, most of it far more gamable than this. Next up should be the famous 40 questions.

But to prevent this post from being totally ungamable, I present the following table for other stories about Mother:

How true is it? (1d12)
  1. Bullshit
  2. Double bullshit
  3. Absolutely true
  4. Embellished
  5. Not entirely false
  6. Jury is still out
  7. Way more truth than you wanted
  8. Given value of true
  9. Have to squint at it
  10. The truth you needed
  11. All of the above
  12. Roll twice


4 comments:

  1. This was an utter pain to write and went through about four drafts, but I was able to sit down and get it hashed out today, and I like the end result.

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  2. It nicely explains the enmity between dragons and men. I also like that 1d12 chart at the end.

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  3. She seems very amazing. I gotta incorporate her into a campaign!

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  4. For a story about a small ape goddess, this was manly as hell.

    ReplyDelete