Once upon a time, there was an island far away, on which a people lived, isolated, freed from the bothers of the rest of the universe. MiJak bothered little of this place, as did AdA and Reset, if one was to judge from its inhabitants. Reigning over this calm and hidden place in the fabric of the world was Iarwyn, goddess of fertility and happiness, earth and sadness. Taking care of her people she did, as well as of the forests in which they lived, the earth they cultivated, the mountain on which it all rested...
And with her joy ruled the life of the isle, joy of life and death...
Were you to fly in towards this island, mayhaps on the back of a strong dragon, you would first pass though the fierce waves of the Dragon Sea, black, hunting to drag you down into their depth, stretching its waves for your tempting life. Having avoided the dangers of the seemingly bottomless sea, as well as of the whirlwinds and rages of the sky you would perhaps be allowed to see the beuty of a small, protected world unfold itself in front of you. Thus, you see, did the gods of DUMII struggle to prevent any of their followers to reach the coast of this island, by fear, shallow reefs, violent waves and storms of angst.
While Iarwyn rested calm beyond the danger, content with her domain, content with her people, eternally smiling faintly at the three male gods and their attempts to, as they could not defeat her, close the paths to and fro her fields of nature.
Once close enough to the embrace of Iarwyn to see it, shimmering forests would caress the sight of your eye, an ever so welcome sight after the beatings of the Dragon Sea. Tree after tree standing guard, side by side, their bouhgs entwined in close hugs, their leaves reflecting the rays of the seven suns in every colour there is, however dominated by the colour of the season. Mmm... Let us assume the strength of Earthseason held the nature to the bosom of its goddess, birds playing in the green shades of the grand trees, momentarily bending aside to let the light touch the ground and the small trees of the younger generations.
Now animals of every kind would move slightly in their play as you entered their realm. For a second thousands of perceptive ears would notice the sound of your breath, the sound of your being heart, and just as many eyes would move to catch a glimpse of the visitor. And as a cloud silently moves across the sky, a soft laugh would fill the world, the joy and pride of a goddess as she welcomes a new inhabitant, as, naturally, you would never be able to leave the realm. In that the four divinities would cooperate...
Along the coast were beaches randomly spread, the soft sand caressing your feet as you made your first step on the island. The tiny grains of white sand would move in the everpresent breeze of the sea, and looking out over the black place from which you had come, relief would surely fill yo, relief of standing there, safe, surrounded by the love of a mother, and a new world opening for you under the boughs of the thick forest ahead, in the comforting light from the suns, having passed though the green leafage.
Inbetween the small beaches grand rocks rose towards the sky, creating a safe wall against the beating sea, the stone voluntarily taking the blows of the sea, devouring and disintegrating the anger of it. And as the waves hit the cliffs, slowly, through the ages of time, the stones became softer, sharp lines caressed buy the sea until only round lines remained. The cliffs. Would smile. If they could...
Small well trod paths lead down to the coast from the depth of the forest, feet naked or clad in leather having followed them down to the small caves of salt placed here and there among the rocks of the coast, the sea made useful...
At random, mayhaps, you would choose one of these paths, your choice registered and pondered by a multitude of beings watching you. Some of those beings may run ahead of you, announcing your presence to the original inhabitants of the island, some of them may simply send their thoughts to the proper receiver. Others would follow you, guard you, control you.
As you would move farther away from the sea, the salt breeze would calm down and be replaced by the beatings of wings and the breath of the forest. Sounds of moving leaves and twittering birds would fill the air, you would hear bodies moving around you, an occasional shout, an occasional laugh...
After an hour or two of comfortable walking through the woods, a field would open up in front of you, crops of different kinds cultivated here, corn waving in the soft wind beside fields of blue flowers, the dark green bushes of potatoes covering the ground beside acres of mere grass, covered with flowers, yellow, red, blue, purple... Fire, water and wind playing in their petals.
If you would here kneel beside one of the blue flowers, look closer at the miniature sky captured in the petal of the plant, you would see shadows of birds chasing each other across that sky, in play, in joy, in greeting of life. And the scent of the flower would touch you softly, a careful, almost imaginable touch, yet real, and sweet dreams of love and caresses would enter your mind with that smell.
Butterflies and bumblebees fluttering through the warm air, bees and birds sending their messages of thanks through the season as they feed on the riches of the multicoloured flowers. Collecting they are, if not nectar so joy, happiness, beauty. And here it is too... Resting... As everywhere... That smile, that faint smile. Mysteriously hiding in every creation, in every plant, every animal. Evenin you, it is. Laying softly around your heart, having carefully built itself a nest in the warmth of its beating.
Now, as you pass through these fields, apparently cultivated by humans, you will also notice a few of them, bent backs of women, working with the crops, their hands in the rich earth, lovingly taking care of the plants. Women, their long dark hair occasionaly falling down in their faces, burnt dark by nature, clad in flowing robes the colour of earth and water. Some tones of a broken melody may pass through the air, reaching your ears, telling you that there are women there singing their praise to Iarwyn and her land.
Naturally, they will know that you are there, watching them, but they will surely show no sign of knowing your presence. You will get your welcoming. By others. These cultivators of the island will continue their labourt undisturbed, smiling as they bury their hands in the beloved earth, smiling as they are warmed by the seven suns, smiling as they stretch their aching backs, casting a word of joy to a sister across the field.
Looking back at the forest for a second you may notice, if your eye is attentive, the odd amount of roedeers, hares and other mammals, resting in the border of the forest, seemingly doing nothing but watching. Above them, on the boughs of the trees, small birds rest their wings, singing, sending their melodies of gratitude across the fields, to the flowers, to the insects, to anyone listening. Even farther above that, shadows in the sky, some figures of grander birds may be possible to distinguish, the airborne guardians of the men and women of the island. Falcons and ravens. Shadows of sorts.
Suddenly, a falcon will perhaps leave its place of rest among the clouds, make a quick flight towards the ground, and seconds later, who knows, if you were to reach out your hand, some drops of fresh, red blood of a young rabbit may fall, warm, on your palm. And a bird has been fed.
The ravens, however, are calmer. Moving across the sky, carefully keeping their women protectives in sight, their wings seldom beat, as they follow the winds of the sky. Shadows. Think. Shadows. Of what? Whom? There lies a mystery, though a mystery with a known answer. Among some. The Servants of the Goddess know, while the rest of the men and women of the forests listen to legends told by their elder, stories by the fire, tales by the bedside, and they believe.
Move on, yes. One can not stand waiting, pondering, in this warmth for ever.
And ahead, a lake shimmers in the suns, the reflected rays being crystals on the surface of the blue, shading in green, water. Heavy scents of perfumed moist rise from the fields as the suns warm the earth and the plants. The flowers release the sweet smell of their nectar to rise towards the sky, tempting and gathering insects to spread their pollen...
Had you not been welcomed by now, this would be the moment. With the lake wholly visible and the beach towards which the cool water slowly move you would see the people gathered to greet you...
Now, as this was the land of Iarwyn, this land had its customs according to her, interpreted mainly by the priestessess of hers. Most apparent to the visitor, at first, would probably be the habit of men and women living apart. Therefore, your welcome would here be decided by your gender, male or female...
Were you male; a gathering of men would greet you, well clothed in garments of skin, leather and hide. Their feet would be clad in boots, their legs a day like this bare, in the later Fireseason surely covered by leather pants, and long shirts of skin, soft and flowing, held together at their waist by a belt. Each man would carry a weapon, no matter the age, swords, knives, spears, axes, in a moment of welcoming as this they would, however, not be wielded, but put away in some approriate manner.
These men would have hair the colour of wet earth and their skin would be dark, darkened by sun and the will of nature. Tall and strong, these men of the woods would mayhaps seem oddly well behaving, moving mayhaps a bit too graceful to be of the wilderness, clean, their hair cut carefully in any comfortable length.
Yet, these men certainly were of the forests, a leaf lingering in the hair of a man, a root hidden in the garments of a boy, a small branch stuck in the packing of another, small evidence of their habitat.
If you had not yet spoken to yourself, the animals or the trees of the forests you passed through, you would be the first one to let your voice free in this meeting. Simple, really, to let the men of the island know what language were to be
used. And they would answer your greeting, mayhaps with an odd dialect, smiling, all in their own manner, and welcome you to follow them to the parts of the woods which they called their living quarters.
No ceremonies, no oddities. A simple greeting. A smile answered. No more is needed to know if you were to be welcomed as a friend or as a foe. And another walk would take its beginning, a promenade accompanied by these males.
During this walk more details may be given time to be noticed. Details such as the embroided linen belt of one man, woolen socks with patterns woven in blue, a small bag fastened to a belt, made by cloth. Wristbands of spun thread, maybe crafted in an intricate manner, among other wristbands of leather and different metals.
Men knew not of, or rather was not allowed to use, the art of making thread and weaving them to cloth. Ropes, naturally, and whatever thread they could make of animal origin, but anything which could be used to weave was prohibited. Therefore, all the objects made of such fabric which they owned were created by women, carefully put together by skilled fingers and either given in exchange for perhaps a hide, or simply given as gift.
Occasionally you would be spoken to, though words would seldom be used in this company. The men surrounding you would be talking in their own manner, by using the movements of their bodies, a look, a smile, a frown. Conversing can be most simple, yet most complex, something they certainly proved.
Then you would notice that if you closed your eyes while walking, and listened to the sounds around you, you could just as well be walking by your own under the boughs. Your own steps were the only sound blending with the ordinary singing o f birds and rattling of leaves which were the sounds of the forest. The males made no sound. Not even their breaths would be audible. Or had they left you alone? Opening your eyes, they would, naturally, still surround you, walking ahead, faintly smiling as they proceed through their well known home, the forest.
Ah, you would learn this too, if you were accepted in their community. And if you would be, that you would know the day after this.
As if on one agreed second the men would stop, telling you that you were now in the middle of their village. Look around, see. Nothing. And there they were, huts, so skillfully made of what the woods would give that they were hardly visible, not even to the trained eye. Hidden would not be the word to explain their state, as they were not. They were merely created in the very most harmony man could attein with the forest, therefore being a part of it, almost as perfect as the
young tree striving towards the sky some feet away.
You would be invited into a hut, and a bed would be made of leaves and hides, soft and comfortable as any other bed. Perhaps some men would linger to chare a word or two with you, perhaps the head of a small boy would peer curiously at your from the other side of the entrance. Then, you would be left alone, while the men left you to yourself as they went to continue with their doings.
Later, at sleeping time, some four or five men in approximately the same age as you would enter the hut, greet you with a nod and a smile, before going to bed, to sleep, to dream...
The following morning you would know whether you were accepted and greeted in whole into their community. Two outcomings could be...
If you woke up by feeling the soundless moves of your companions, you would know that you had been welcomed with open arms, and that the close time ahead of you would involve training and teaching, as their knowledges were brought to you. Thus, you would lfind your place among them and a comfortable life of caring for yourself, the forest and its inhabitants would lie ahead.
Or, you could wake up alone. Looking into the roof of leaves above you, you would know noone was to be found in the almost invisible village of men. Rise, you would, dress, and enter the fresh air of a new born day. Smile, surely, as you looked out into the forest and see the trees, the birds, the deers gracing far away.
Were you look above, into the sky, no falcon would be near, merely the silent shadow of one solitary raven, far away. No sounds around, no signs.
Enter the forest, take a walk. Look for the others. They were there, you knew so well they had been no dream. A sigh. And your feet would head for a path into the forest again.
Now, as you moved through the leafage of the forest, sounds would become fewer, until the ones you created yourself were the only ones surrounding you. Animals, usually everpresent, would have left you, the raven above the only other life to be seen. A shiver. Then.
Realising. Looking in front of you, you would mayhaps get a second to notice an other being. The beatiful body of a grand woman, clad simply in a thin green robe, a belt of deer skin around her slim waist. In her serene face a faint smile may be playing on lips coloured like the blood of doves, framed by a mass of hair the colour of a deep forest lake, dark, and a ray of sun would touch the deep wells of darkness being the eyes of the woman.
Along her arms and legs as well as in her face, lines of blue and green would be painted in intricate patterns, telling tales of oblivion...
Enchanting you as she would, what she was carrying in her tensed outstretched arms would catch you immediate attention. A split moment of fear would caress your heart, beating utterly fast for a short second of life, as the woman let the arrow spring from the tensed string of her splendid longbow.
Your blood would just have felt the sharp edge of the arrow, your heart would have felt the first tickle of death with the cold tip of the small spear, as another three arrows would join it, just as perfectly aimed by three just as enchanting sisters of the seen woman.
You would not feel the pain stinging your body as you fall to your knees in front of the four, as by that time, the arrows would have eaten so deeply into the warm flesh of your heart that it would beat no more, nailed to your back by four deadly nails of Iarwyn's. Yet, fall you would, as if praying, and no mercy would be given, four faint smiles greeting you as four women of green approach your falling body.
Then, the moment before you would tilt ahead, to embrace the earth in a last kiss, they would be close enough to you to each of them take hold of their own arrow, and with a short pull, they would be torn out of your body, the movement causing you to fall backwards, unseeing eyes facing a solitary raven far above.
Blood of an already cooling body would spread across your chest, a welcoming sign of some, and the lone bird would slowly let herself fall towards the ground, towards your lost shell. And as the first drop of lifewater touched the fertile ground, the raven would bury her claws in your chest and drink the toast of mothers...
Red. Blood. Ahh.... Looks so... Nice... Towards the shimmering black. Of. A. Ravens beak...
And she is certainly smiling.
Were you female; a small group of women would join you by the border of the lake, greeting you with silent smiles. These women would be of the same age as yourself, and they would be clad in flowing linen robes of the same colour as the shimmering water. Each woman would carry a weapon, a sword or a spear, their sharp edges unsheated, reflecting the light of the suns. Belts of woolen cloth would be tied around their waists, and from them embroided pouches of different size would hang, filled with the necessities of each womans tasks.
As the males of the island, these women would be dark, their originally light skin coloured by the earth they cultivated, the suns under which they worked and the nature in which they lived. Cascades of greybrown hair would fall down their shoulders, straight or curled. Some of the women would wear feathers, pearls or pieces of skin tied into their hair in artful manners. Their eyes would be grey, speckled in brown and red, and the light around you would play in their wells of souls as it played in the surface of the lake...
The women would give you a sign to come with them, not a word spoken, with delicate moves and smiling lips. And you would come with them.
When moving they would reminisce you of their robes, flowing, soft, silent, beutiful... Water running across a bed of rounded stones, a soft feather falling through the air, magic cutting a stone...