BROTHER'S KEEPER

A SANTHARIAN FOLK TALE OF THE SEA

 
The Frethoni Book of Fables   
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Introduction. The story about the two brothers of the small fishing village of Nepris tells us not only about the changes in the relationship of two brothers during their lives. It is also about the Goddess of the Sea, Baveras, who had their hand in the fate of these people - Baveras, the Cold and Deadly One, but also Baveras, the Helping and Caring One. In this story you will find out about both her sides. 
 

here once were two brothers, who lived in Nepris, a small fishing village in Manthria, near the Adanian Coast. They were the children of a humble fisherman and his wife, the one was named Alof, he was the older of the two, and the other Marin, two years younger.

Andulf Istherin

The fisherman Andulf Istherin recounting the tale of the "Two Brothers". Image drawn by Quellion.

Alof was a very impulsive, contentious child; he was strong and dominant, and didn't make life easy for his smaller sibling: often he used to pick on him, ridicule his lanky build and his clumsiness that went with it, and notwithstanding that Alof was the older brother and was meant to set a good example, he always looked out only for his own advantage. In fact some villagers maintained that Alof didn't care about Marin at all, and that it was a shame how he treated his brother, which non the less didn't bother the older one a bit. As a matter of fact he often got away with it, because his father was not the youngest anymore and his mother too kindhearted to have a serious word with him. Every time there were chores his parents needed to be done, Alof found reasons to convince his brother to do the work for him, and every time Alof claimed the reward for himself. Marin only received little, if anything. There wasn't much Marin could do about it - he was the younger and the weaker child, more a dreamer than a laborer, and so he had resigned a long time ago already, accepting his fate.

One day the two brothers, who were still in their teens, fished together in their tiny ducraer. They were far off the coast when suddenly there was a jerking and a twitching in the net, a rumbling and violent grinding noticeable at the side of the boat. When Alof investigated what was the cause of all this turmoil, an enormous swordfish shot out from below, freeing itself from the net with a spry snap... In its desperate efforts to fight imminent death, the fish leapt out of the sea and right into Alof's arms, where after some further scuffling his heavy, slick body flipped around, and in the process gashed Alof's breast with its pointed sword. Victorious the fish darted back into the sea while Alof lost control of himself, he tumbled and staggered back. Bumping his head on the gunnel, he passed out on the spot and rolled overboard. He was fortunate, though: Marin had witnessed the scene with horror and without thinking twice, now immediately jumped after his brother and managed to grab him by the wrist. Despite Alof was the heavier of them both, Marin rescued the unconscious body by a hairbreadth before the deep blue depths of the ocean could claim him forever. Thus, by dragging him back into the ducraer and tending to his wound, Marin saved Alof's life.

There is no doubt that this event made Alof a changed man. He was so thankful of his younger brother's courage, that he gave him his best boots, and a beautiful satchel he had bought while in Marcogg for good measure. The more he talked with him about what they had experienced out there at sea, the more Alof felt different about Marin, and while he had ignored him for most of his life, he now began to understand and love him for what he was. He was unlike him, but he was a good soul, and had a sense of family and friendship. All that Alof took to his heart, aye, he even vowed that should something happen once to Marin, he would without batting an eye also risk his own life to save his brother's, for that's what he had done to him, and so would he.

Time went by. The brothers came of age and turned into adults. Marin was still in Nepris after all this time, for he continued the fishing business of his father and grandfather, and while he wasn't half the fisherman his stronger brother had been back in the days, he enjoyed his work and earned his living with it, and that's all that mattered to him.

Alof on the other hand had moved south, to Ciosa, where he had become a respected ship owner and merchant. Every now and then when his schedule allowed and he had business to do on the east coast, he visited his younger brother; but eventually there came a time when they didn't see each other anymore for several months. There was the one or the other letter, sure, but Alof had become a Stormcloaks official by now, and the project of expanding the influence of the shipping guild in southern parts of Sarvonia required all his attention, which was why he was rarely around further up north than Ciosa.

So it came that the two brothers led separate lives. Marin eventually married the neighbor's daughter and she became pregnant soon after the ceremony. Everybody in the small village community was happy in expectation of the soon-to-be-born offspring and as is often the case in times like these there were long discussions on how to name the little gal or fellow.

One day, Marin's wife, Amra, lay in throes of agony. All had hoped for a great celebration of childbirth, yet what had begun so promising turned into long hours of labors for the young mother. Being frail and fragile, Amra struggled for more than a full day with the birth, and though the midwives did their best to save her life, all seemed hopeless.

At the same evening heavy clouds formed over the Mithral and a storm broke out, so intense, so abhorrent, so gruesome and ghastly that fishermen would speak of it for generations and generations. The downpour stirred the slumbering sea, and it flooded great parts of Mossy Rocks Cove; gales destroyed piers, fences, houses, trees and everything in their way. In the midst of this so abominable storm Amra struggled with her baby and her life. Yet as morning dawned, neither was her baby born yet, nor had Amra succumbed to her strains. There was still hope, but not much, and the priests already gathered to bid mother, child or both a blessed farewell from this world.

When day broke, the storm dispersed and the sun rose again, but the tragedies weren't over yet: Fishermen brought further ill news. A ship had capsized not too far away from Nepris on the cliffs of Gaurgoroth during the storm; flotsam and jetsam of the unfortunate incident including at least one dead body had been found. However, there were also good news among the bad ones: One of the crates that the men had picked up contained miraculously undamaged flasks of a extremely rare medicine, a potion composed of exotic gunthreed leaves, which only grow at specific parts at the continent of Nybelmar. The medicine is said not only to have considerable soothing effects in regards of a mother's sufferings during childbirth, but that it could also provide the necessary strength and stamina in times of dire need.

The Neprisian herbwoman immediately recognized the elixir and thus, aware that it might constitute the very last chance to save Amra or her unborn child, applied it hurriedly. Indeed, only a short while after the treatment, a little boy finally saw the light of day and he was healthy and bore the eyes of his father. He cried so loud and with insolence as if to defy once and for all the odds that had been stacked against his survival. Oh, did it make tow parents happy that day! For Amra, the tortured mother, though weary and exhausted after the hours and hours of fighting, also recovered in full from her pains very soon afterwards.

It was not until the next day that Marin, the proud father, discovered that the dead man who had been washed up on the coast, and whose medicine had saved his wife's and child's life, was no other than his own brother. He had been on his way up north, so Marin learned, in one of the Stormcloaks' ship, with the intention to stop by at his brother's abode and attend the celebration of the newborn heir. Alas, this didn't happen.

Marin prayed for a long time for his brother's soul to find its way back to Baveras, the Sea Goddess, whose closeness he had once more experienced in these hard times. In the same prayer he also thanked her for the gift of new life she had granted to him, despite it had to be paid with the loss of another.

Days later when the ritual bathing of the newborn took place in honor of Baveras, it was an easy decision for the young parents who they would name their son after.

"Alof", Marin said, and Alof was only the first of three children that Amra would bore her loving husband in the coming years.
 


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