The Song of the Great War Host
In the deep before time began,
The people lived on a floating island.
They hungered not, and ate nothing,
Though plants and fish were abundant.
They grew not tired nor old, and made not war.
The dreaming sea held them on its back.
In those days the seas were still one.
The stars swam in the great ocean.
One day, the island floated past
A star in its full brightness close.
And the people of the star swam out
To walk with them on the island.
The people of the star were brilliant
And the people of the land were enthralled,
By their great beauty and glamour.
They had never known want before.
The island turned to float away,
And the people of the star swam home.
The people of the land felt desire,
And some swam out to go with them.
Some people of the star stayed behind,
But could not abide to live on land.
They took them instead to the seas
To live nearby the land people.
For a thousand generations,
Families grew between the two.
In multiplying, they sought new lands,
Sending the sea people out as scouts.
When they came ashore they would breathe
And the land would spring to life in song.
The landers would follow then in ships,
Coming ashore when all was ready.
In the thousandth generation,
The Great Separation occurred.
The sea was divided in two:
The sea above, and the sea below.
As the stars fled to seas above,
So followed the people of the star.
They left the landers and went home.
And the islands at last ceased floating.
In this age, the people left below
Learned of thirst, rage, war, and hunger.
They ate of fruits and fish around them.
In their hunger, they ate it all.
When there was none, they fought the others,
Killing kinsmen in raids of far off isles.
Keenly they suffered for love lost,
Hearts pining for the starry ones.
Cildan was a lander king with star blood.
His people resisted many raids.
Though lamed in battle, he were king
For he could see and speak with sylphs
And the heav’nly sprites who served
The star people in seas above,
They taught him how to build cloud ships.
On cloud ships, sailed forth Cildan with
His sons, called Cimric and Cimlad.
They passed o’er the lands of Buorth.
They sailed up the sea wall and bridge
Far away at the edge of the world,
Until they passed to the seas above.
And a thousand generations went by
As they voyaged from sea to sea.
In this time, it came to pass again,
the stars receded fully from this world,
And with them left for good the star people.
When Cildan and his sons arrived,
They found only sylphs and sprites
Who were but diminished echoes of
The brilliance of the star people.
And their anger and loss was great.
The sylphs fled before their rage into
Seas above swimming far, diving deep.
Though Cildan repented of their deeds,
His sons Cimric and Cimlad did
Hunt and slay a great many sylphs
Feasting on their corpses and gaining
In small measure the star brilliance
Locked within their aery bodies.
Cildan wept for the needless slaughter.
But his sons had become cruel and
Thought their father both lame and weak,
And cast him into the seas above
Where he foundered and could not swim.
A pod of sylphs came bearing him up
To high places, the domed courts of muses.
While his sons raided and plundered below.
They burned the borrowed star brilliance
To raid and conquer other lands.
Their cloud ships fell with thunder on
The heads of their enemies, bursting
Shield and fortress asunder.
Til the brilliance grew dim and faint.
With a great host, they resolved to sail:
To find, and slay, and eat star flesh.
Wise Cildan had gave counsel to
The muses in their courts above
To flee before his sons could come,
And with a host of sylphs had they fled.
When Cimric and Cimlad did arrive,
The seas above were abandoned.
The domed courts were empty and grey.
In their rage, they threw down the courts.
With no sylphs to sustain life there,
The seas above turned toxic and
Poison fell down as rain below,
Ruining the lower seas and islands.
With no food and the sylphs gone,
Landers began to choke and die en masse.
In their cloud ships, the brothers left them
And sailed on with their great war host.
They tracked the sylphs across the deep,
Passing through the Outer Darkness.
They sought the light of stars which fled
Always ahead of their passing.
At last, they found the sylph settlement,
A place where they had breathed new life.
From their ships, the sons prepared to strike,
But Cildan their father appeared.
Put away your anger, my sons.
The Mockridge has overcome you.
You know not what you’re about or why.
If madness be cured only by star flesh,
I offer you mine, to leave off
Your persecution of these people
Who in the end are so like you.
But they killed him, and all the sylphs.
As they feasted on substitute for star flesh,
They became filled with a radiance,
A fire which burned, and burned brighter
Consuming them from within.
Their bellies burst, and exploded forth
From each a pearl of great size which
Hurled themselves into the deep.
Rubbing their wounds, the brothers fell asleep.
As they slept, from their wounds did creep
Monstrous beasts, children of the Mockridge,
Sick star flesh perverted to darkness.
They set about in devouring
That life the sylphs had breathed therein.
They ate the isle back down to rock.
The air turned poison for lack of song.
When the brothers awoke, all was dead.
Let us mount the war host in cloud ships,
And pursue our prey to their last, said they.
The brothers and beasts and war host
Set sail on the deep, crossed again the void,
Tracking the star light of sylph breath.
Where the true stars heard rumors of their passing,
They sent word ahead of warning,
And all would go into hiding.
A thousand generations passed again,
Before the Majona war host
Found where the seeds of pearl had gone.
The sylph people had since flourished afresh,
Crowning bare rock with sweet atmosphere,
Breathing life into land anew.
In the center grew a great tree,
And the tree was called the Anthuor.
The branches of the Anthuor tree
Reached o’er all parts of the isle.
All life grew in its gentle shade.
Its crown brushed the seas above.
Birds and sprites of the air roosted in it,
Whispering legends heard from sylphs
Of merciless brothers hunting,
Of war hosts in cloud ships coming.
The tree had a plan to withstand,
If the war host should ever come.
It gathered the sylphs and spirits,
All who held no love for the Mockridge.
It said to the marshaled forces:
We will never win by violence.
Are there some among you who would
Sacrifice themselves for the rest?
A few of the bravest sylphs volunteered.
Anthuor directed then the others
To send seeds out in all directions,
As a safeguard if the plan should fail.
When the war host arrived, the sylphs
Sent out heralds with their offer,
To sacrifice a few for the rest.
In response, the beasts slew the heralds.
The war host descended, slaughtering.
The beastly children of the Mockridge
Leapt from the seas above into
The branches of Anthuor, hacking.
But for each branch lost, two grew back
And smothered the attacker with
Its own violence turned back at them.
The brothers saw and wailed in fury.
They leapt from their cloud ships and with
Bright axes shining, and hewed at the roots.
Anthuor shuddered but held fast.
He rallied the sylphs remaining,
Sending them far down below the ground.
Into the clefts of Acho they delved;
In secret dark places, they strained.
A mighty effort did they make to lift.
As the brothers cut through a bare root,
Anthuor lifted his feet from the soil.
Ancient root, once freed, did turn to hoof.
Hooves blazing, and head full of fire,
He stamped and snorted at the brothers.
Their axes broke; they quailed in terror.
The war host trembled and the ground shook.
The sylphs flew up to smash the cloud ships.
In the chaos that did follow,
Cimric sacrificed his own brother,
Pushing Cimlad under deadly hooves.
This cruel act summoned the Mockridge,
Who took a form like as Anthor but false.
He trampled the ground into hard steel:
You’ll never lay your roots here again,
And shall ever be without rest, cried he.
Anthuor reared up against this curse,
Struck a fierce blow to his enemy’s crown.
And the demon dispersed in a flash.
Then Cimric the kin-slayer fled,
With what remained of the war host
In the last cloud ship not destroyed.
The sylphs rejoiced, but Anthuor wept:
For the curse was true; no more would he rest.
He looked around at the lost lives,
Pardoned those who fought against them,
Taking on their loss as his own.
Dead beasts and war host sprung back to life.
He took their names and bodies from them.
He mixed their attributes in a pile.
He called the sylphs back from the deep.
Each chose a new form and name from the pile.
Some went to dwell in seas and aethers.
Some flew into the soil and down there,
Where Anthuor’s tears had fallen on hard steel,
They turned it to rust, and ate it.
Acho cracked, and laughing said he:
You may let down your roots again, Anthuor.
But he had grown accustomed to hooves;
The curse was no longer a prison.
I shall be the sacrifice, said he,
Shaking the branches of his antlers.
Cimlad, who lay dead, got up again.
He bowed down before Lord Anthuor,
Who took away his name, but gave him a bow
Cut from his branches, and a cloak spun from his leaves.
Rise up, huntsman! The game is afoot!
Cried he, as a stag, and in a flash was off.