Friday, May 29, 2020

The Marriage of Clever Lu

Tom Bjorklund


This story takes place after the Theft of Fire and the coming of the Snows...

Clever Lu went out among the gods of the ancestors and, raising her voice, declared: "My tent is empty and boredom assails me; loneliness wages war against my heart. I must find myself a husband."

Now there were several among the gods who desired Lu, but had made no word nor action out of fear of the Crown of Fire. Hearing her intent, they threw themselves into a frenzy of preparation, each bringing forth a gift by which they thought she might be wooed.

First was Dyeuz, who fancied himself king of the gods. He made great boasts of his strength and manhood, bringing forth great gifts of gold, alabaster and purple cloth, and he offered to elevate Lu above all the peoples and forever free her from want or care, should she only submit herself to him as his queen and grant him the Crown of Fire in return.

Second was Yhewen, who was a god of war and might. He brought forth many weapons and chariots and fine horses and offered to her an entire kingdom, half of all the land he was to conquer by his swords of bronze, that she may take of all its bounty and keep its riches for herself and rule over it as his equal should she become his queen. The Crown of Fire concerned him not, for he thought of it a weak woman's power (for it had no blade or sharp edge)

Third was Astare the Early-Rising, most beautiful goddess of the hunt and the ways of silence and solitude. She spoke to no one as she arrived in the camp, and she led by a short length of braided rope a snow-white eire elk, its antlers bedecked with flowers. Many among the gods were amazed that she should appear, for she was not due to return from her trips abroad for some time still and even then would return by moonlight and leave again before the sun.

Last was old Pan-Pongo, his back bent and his hair graying, bearing in shaking hands a gourd of palm wine; the last few mouthfuls of his secret stores from before the Snows came.

Lu looked over her suitors and considered their gifts without speaking. She turned from them and passed through the camp of the gods until she came to a certain tent, and the gods followed behind her.

"Tubalkhan! Tubalkhan of the forge!" she called out. "Tubalkhan, I have chosen you! I wish that I be your wife, and you my husband! What say you?"

Broad-shouldered Tubalkhan, gentle god of callused hands, stepped out from his tent and brushed the soot from his apron, but before he could speak a great commotion broke out, as the suitors grumbled with great anger and confusion. Lu rebuked them, saying "Did you not hear my words? I said that I must find a husband; the seeking and the choosing were mine alone. I am not some trinket to be bought by gifts.

Dyeuz, do you think me still some dew-eyed maiden? I know of your ways, chasing nymphs through the woods with your staff in your hand. Those whom you have offended have come to me in secret, afraid of the retribution you might deliver upon them. Know this; so long as the Crown of Fire rests upon my brow there shall be no place among the peoples for rapist-kings. Begone!

Yhewen, you promised me a kingdom carved out by bronze swords. Do you think me mad for blood? Have I not shed enough by striking down the dragons and plunging us into this demon-haunted winter? Will you see me drink battlefields dry of corpses, to bathe in blood and shit and the weeping of men? Know this: so long as the Crown of Fire rests upon my brow there shall be no place for men who would send their sons to die in such glory. Begone!

Astare, you alone of these suitors have pleased me, but I am afraid my mind remains set upon a husband. Come to me another time, and we will go out hunting together. But let it be known by all that I refuse you out of no lack of affection for you, and you and your kin shall forever be welcome by my fire.

Pan-Pongo, you were once my enemy, but the time of our hatred has passed. Your persistence is praiseworthy, but ill-placed. I shall say nothing more. Go in peace."

And to the gods she said:

"Know this! I have chosen Tubalkhan of the forge because he is precious to me, and my heart overflows. He has treated me with greatest kindness and greatest patience, he has been my friend and companion in my endeavors. When I sought to steal the Crown of Fire, he alone was by my side. He loathes violence and seeks peace. He seeks to make right what he might have set wrong when beset by anger. He does not destroy that which others have made to glorify the works of his own hands. I know his heart and in knowing it I am filled with joy."

Having said this, Lu once more turned her attention to Tubalkhan and asked once more:

"What say you, Tubalkhan?"

Tubalkhan scratched at his beard (for that was his habit when deep in thought) and answered:

"Let it be so."

They embraced there before all the gods, and the Crown of Fire shone in all its brilliance.

A great feast was prepared, and Raven was summoned to spread word among the Folk of the forests and mountains and the mammoths of the great taiga. The singing and dancing lasted deep into the night, until the last of the dying embers.

From there Lu took Tubalkhan into her tent, and for six days and six nights they practiced the marital art. On the seventh day they rested, for Tubalkhan had grown tired.

This is how the peoples of man came to be.

Viktor Vasnetsov


Translator's Note: Later versions of the Theft of Fire story include Tubalkhan as Lu's traveling companion during the early adventures of her journey, establishing the relationship that is referenced here.

2 comments:

  1. I don't like canon, but that portrait is as close as one can get.

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  2. I do love a Mother Stole Fire story.

    ReplyDelete