THE BEGINNING OF DESTINY

A SARVONIAN ELVEN MYTH

 
The Elven Myth of the Mèneteká   
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Introduction. The "Beginning of Destiny" (original Styrásh title: "The Cárpa'ál'Wievóc") recounts the story of the light elf Treanais who at first couldn't understand the way of mortal men, but when trying to find out more about their sorrows and concerns also fell in love with a human. She finally decided to abandon her windy form and thus became the first mortal elf.
 

nder the trees, in the dappled sunlight of the late afternoon, the old elven bard Wianis calls the elven children to him. Excited, laughing and shouting they gather around him. It is quite an event for them as it is rare for him to pass through his home forest these days. He is old, older than any of his comtempories; none of the elves are quite sure how long he has lived or how much of his stories he knows for certain to be true. Wainis is growing tired with life. It will be soon time for him to lay it down, but before then he will have to pass on his great knowledge to another who will take his place.

Wianis opens his mouth to speak and at once the children are quiet and expectant. Many an elven mother wishes they could master this skill. In the distance, other elder elves stop what they are doing to listen to his tales of long ago.

The light elf Treanais

View picture in full size Image description. The light elf Treanais discovering the way of the mortal men. Picture drawn by Eratin.

This is my last visit to your woods, my dear children…" There is a great moan of reluctance and sorrow, teamed with many cries of "don’t leave us". Wianis smiles, "But my dears! I have only just arrived and as it is my last visit I plan to tell you the greatest story that I know, how you came to be just as you are, with legs and hands and bright eyes." There is much general excitement, but as Wianis pauses it dies down and there is an unearthly hush over the glade. "This is the story of your mother Treanais the only elf of the sky to ever truly know what it was to love another being." He clears his throat dramatically, "The Carpa'al'Wievoc, the very beginning of our destiny".

"Once when the Dream was new and the Tree of Life still visible, elves watched over the other races from afar. All elves were one with the wind and the sky, and unperceivable to the races of the world. Treanais was noble and good, and spent much time watching humans, understanding their ways and whims. As time went on Treanais found that she became more and more attached to this particular race and began to study individuals very closely. She found that their lives were hard. One night Treanais was studying a young guard of a village and while following him, she heard a young woman crying. Treanais was intrigued. What was this that caused water to flow from her eyes and strange noises to come from her mouth? For you see children, Treanais lived at one with the world and so had never had a reason to feel sadness. So curious was she, that she made her self visible to the woman and asked, 'Good lady, why do you cry?'

The woman was terrified of the vision before her, never in her life had she seen such a thing. However, she was strong and brave and so she asked, 'Who are you? And pray what are you?' Treanais explained her race and told the woman her name. The woman was called Gistha and said, 'My husband was killed today, when he was out hunting. I am alone and have no children to continue his line. What am I to do?' Treanais was touched by the woman's words but could not comprehend her feelings. After many attempts to get the woman to explain why a small, natural thing like death should cause sobbing and tears, Treanais became bored and frustrated. Nevertheless, as all elves should be Treanais was giving and wise. So, while she did not understand the woman's reasons she told her simply that if she prayed to the Goddess, Seyella, powerful Lady of Destiny, and was faithful to the Goddess for the rest of her days that she may just grant her wish. Treanais also promised that if Gistha had a child, she herself would watch over the child for the rest of its life. And with that Treanais left the human settlement.

Treanais was gone for many leaf falls. When she returned to Gistha's house the woman was old and sick, but there was indeed a child, nearly a man, that had seen maybe 16 or 17 leaf falls. He was golden haired and blue eyed and quite the fairest human child Treanais had ever seen. When he left the house, she again made herself visible to Gistha, who was completely bedridden. Gistha was overjoyed to see the elf again, and thanked her dearly for her son, Gahlthir, and was relieved that Treanais was back to fulfill her promise. So overcome was Gistha that she cried tears of happiness, again to Treanais' complete bewilderment. But Gistha was very ill and the next day her life was gone.

Treanais was true to her word, and from that moment on she never left the Gahlthir’s side. She never made herself visible to him, but often she would whisper in his ear and the words would pass his mind as thought. She prayed the Gods for him and asked of them their favour and blessing. The Gods were more than generous to Treanais' pleading. Grothar would lend him the ideal weather for Gahlthir's every venture, Arvins granted him exceptional skill and luck in the hunt. Jeyriall blessed any crops that he tended and Armeros endowed him with a great knowledge of tactics, swordplay and courage. Treanais made sure that he was obedient, gracious and thankful toward the Gods, and instilled in him the importance of the world around him, while he had inherited his mother’s strength of spirit and his father's jovial nature and love of life. However, naturally it was Seyella who took greatest interest in the boy. And she was gracious. Through her blessing Gahlthir quickly became the most respected man of his people, and upon reaching maturity they made him the leader of their military, where he had a great and glorious career, beating off many hostile and larger tribes from the north and on one occasion defeating a whole orc raiding with just five men. It was not long before, with Treanais' wise guiding that he became their leader, and he expanded their territory into fertile farmlands. No longer were his people poor and downtrodden, but respected and feared by those who lived around them.

It was at this time, after Gahlthir had seen his 29th leaf fall that Treanais first realised that when she was not directly by Gahlthir's side that she felt sick and tense and heavy. However, not too long after this discovery Gahlthir began to spend more and more time with a young maiden from a neighbouring tribe whose name is not important and that I do not recall. Moreover, no amount of whispering from Treanais would dissuade Gahlthir from spending time with this young lady. The more time he spent with her, the less he heard of what Treanais had to say. Soon Gahlthir wed his human love, and Treanais suddenly understood exactly Gistha's feelings all those years ago. Treanais was in love with Gahlthir, and heartbroken that he was leaving her behind.

No elf had ever known such feelings before. Nor had any elf ever displayed jealousy, but Treanais summoned all her influence over Gahlthir, and told him to seek the Astyrhim in the Thaelon forest. Gahlthir, not married one cycle, was reluctant, but Treanais was insistent, and Gahlthir, grateful for all he had received, yielded to her orders. He took four men, and left his wife behind. Treanais separated Gahlthir from his men, and misled him, taking him to the forests of the south, rather than to the north to the home of the noble Astyrhim. She wanted to have Gahlthir to herself, so that in time, she might reveal herself to him, and that he might care for her the same way she had for him since he was child. However, Seyella was incensed by Treanais' actions and ordered the elf to take the man back to his wife and his tribe. Her purpose for him was not yet served. But Treanais refused and such was the elf’s influence over Gahlthir, that he was completely deaf to the commands of his patron God and, essentially, creator.

Now children, do not be fooled by what comes next. For Seyella is not a cruel Goddess. No, she is just and fair and one must remember that she has far higher purpose to serve than those of an individual. Seyella, in rage, withdrew her protection from Gahlthir, telling Treanais that to have her human she would have to protect him from now on. That same night a pack of wolves attacked the camp in the forest where Gahlthir was sleeping. Gahlthir slayed them, but was mortally wounded in the fray. There was nothing that Treanais could do. She realised to late the error of her ways and she pleaded with Seyella for a physical human form, so that she could tend his wounds and perhaps still complete her purpose and Seyella's. Seyella granted Treanais a form, and she went to Gahlthir and struggled for two days to heal him. On the second day he woke and looked up at Treanais.

"Do I know you?" he asked.

Treanais answered "Yes, perhaps."

But Gahlthir shook his head. “I have never seen anything quite like you before. Who are you, and pray, what are you?”

Before Treanais could answer, Gahlthir shook violently and his life slipped away. Treanais wept bitterly, in pain and loss and regret. She wept also in guilt, for Gahlthir's wife who would grieve as Gistha did before. Except that she would never learn the truth. Trapped in a physical form that she asked for, Treanais could not go to her, to comfort her. It occurred to Treanais to see what Seyella bestowed upon her. Looking in a nearby pool, what she saw was a pale imitation of humanity: Ears too large, eyes too wide that lacked the spark of human eyes. She looked like the rag dolls that human children carry sometimes, artificial. After all, as powerful as Seyella is, it was Avá, through the Tree of Life that created the races, and Seyella simply could not match her creation. She tore at her skin and it bled and hurt. She felt pain for the first time. Ashamed of her appearance and riddled by guilt and sadness Treanais hid away in the forest, and was never seen by a human again.

Now humans may learn from their mistakes. However, they are too brief to ever really comprehend or ponder their every decision. Treanais had all the time that the Dreamer sleeps to think over her loss and her every action. She had the wisdom that all elves shared, but she had experienced that light elves are spared. Treanais was the only elf under the heavens that knew something of what it is to be human. It was in these hundreds of years of contemplation that Treanais became beautiful. Her large green eyes became bright and sharp and were filled with happiness of times past, with grief, pain and wisdom, above all others on the ground. In time her hair captured some of the beauty of the sunlight as it played with the leaves in the trees. Her large ears told her much of what was around her. She learnt much of what plants could heal physical ailments. You see, in her very proximity to life she acquired her own which was breathed into her physical body. She was no longer a pale imitation of humanity but something altogether different and just as precious. But, of course, Treanais did not see that, for she did not dare look at herself.

One hundred leaf falls passed after the death of Gahlthir. Finally, Seyella looked on Treanais and took pity upon her. She saw it fit for a group of the Astyrhim to pass through the southern forest, now known to us as the Zeiphyr. They were far from home and driven by a love of humans, they sought to guide them and educate them.

With her large ears, Treanais heard them arrive and playing and knew immediately that they were her kin. But she remembered vividly the image in the pool that fateful day and she hid herself from them, for fear they would see what she had become. However, during one game an elf came face to face with Treanais. He sensed what she truly was and yet was captivated by the possibilities that such a form could bring and by her beauty. Treanais told him her fateful story, and the elf was impressed and delighted. He found his companions and asked them to imagine the impact they could have on humans with such a shape. They were curious, but knew the risks of close contact with humans and the influence that Coór can have upon a physical being and so refused and decided to move on the next day.

But the elf, Drynsail was his name, stayed with Treanais, and told her that he too desired physical form. Treanais was dismayed.

"Why would you wish to trap yourself in a form as ugly as mine?" she asked him.

He took her to the pool, and with much protest, Treanais looked in and saw she was beautiful. "But how can it be," she cried, "I was hideous and now I’m alive."

She went on to try and dissuade the Drynsail, else he end up ugly too. Nevertheless, the elf was determined. He learnt everything that Treanais had to teach about humans and emotions and he found that he developed some for Treanais. Therefore, when the light elf was eventually granted form by Seyella, he too was beautiful. And they lived together in the great southern forest for many years. Their children were born beautiful, with bright eyes, and hair that traps the light of the sun itself, they are your great great grandparents. Seyella often blessed Treanais and Drynsail, and so that no misunderstandings could arise between them again, Seyella presented them with the small green globe known as Ionmis, which dwells in the council chambers to this day. Ionmis allowed the elves to discern Seyella's future purposes.

The elves  often made the journey to visit their light elven kin in the Thaelon, and sometimes were blessed by the presence of light elves in their forest, and always bore upon the walls of their house the Astyrhim coat of arms to honour and welcome them. Sometimes, my dear children, the Astyrhim still come here, to check up on their kindred, to see if you are happy in your new life.

When time came for Treanais and Drynsail to lay down their lives they were happy and contented with the tribe in the forest that they left behind. And that, children, is your last story from me. Run along for soon it will be dark."

The children depart slowly and reluctantly. As the last of the children leave a young elven woman steps out of the shade. "Very nice, Grandpa."

"Why, thank you dear. And is this your son?"

Behind her the child peers out. He is carrying a cloth bag.

"Yes," She says, "He is ready to come and learn from you now."

"Good," says the old man gently, "then come for there are many special places I must show you and things that you just won't believe….." The old man and the boy vanish into the forest.

 


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