THE FOUNDING OF CIOSA

A HIVELING FOLK-TALE

 
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Introduction. When the Glandorians came down from the Kanapan peninsula, under the leadership of Troi Ciosa, they were shipwrecked on a reef at Gebl's Nose Cape, leading them to scuttle the ship and remove the supplies. In this story, stranded in a foreign country, with no more than a few score men, women and children, Ciosa prays to the Goddess of the Sea to show him what to do. He receives a vision and sets out to found a city.
 

n the third day of the fourth month - as men reckoned time in that era - in the thirteen-thousandth year before this day, a ship was run aground on the eastern coast of what is now Manthria.[1] It was not a particularly large ship, nor was it a particularly impressive ship - it listed heavily to larboard and was so thick with barnacles that no wood could be seen for over a ped above the waterline. However, it was a ship whose arrival heralded the start of a new kingdom, which would stretch to the north and to the south, and from sea to sea.

But every mighty kingdom begins with a single city, and we are not concerned with the descendants of Ciosa, Captain of this singularly unimposing vessel, but with his own actions. As he stood, proud and tall, in the prow of his ship, his heart leapt for joy at the sight of land. Bare land, true, land without ice, warm company, or the true Gods, but land nonetheless. For one reputed to have been at sea a half-score years, this was truly a joyous day.

As we look back across the twin expanses of space and time, over stral and eon, we see a young child appear at his side - a girl tugs on the ragged hem of his salt-encrusted garment. Turning, he vanishes back into the depths of his ship.

An hour later and Ciosa himself left the ship with his friend, closer than a brother, Nikolf, and the two crossed the reef to the land. Waves to their waists battered them, but they battled on, and reached land. Falling to his knees, Ciosa seized the sand in both fist and cried out, praising the Sea Goddess Meanra[2] for Her kindness and blessing. Turning back, they moved out again onto the bar, the hope in their hearts if anything increased by this difficult and treacherous journey to the land. As the famed Avennorian philosopher Johlneth summarised it in his retelling of the tale in the work Struggles "Anywhere worth going is worth fighting to reach". So they returned to the ship, and the stinging of salt was as the singing of birds, and the beating of the waves was as the soothing breath of the west wind.

The next morning, at the hour of low tide, the entire population of the ship went ashore, bearing food, tools, materials, anything that could be taken away. At the end, Ciosa prised up many planks, and lashed them together with stout rope from the rigging; on this raft he piled wood from the decking, sailcloth, and any things that the people had had to leave behind, after placing it in the water and lashing it to the ship. Taking an axe, he went into the bilges and opened a hole in the hull, wide as he was tall in all directions. He dived through this opening and with main strength, unaided by the fact that the tide was now coming in fast, he hauled himself onto the raft. Paddling with a piece of wood, and with a seaman's understanding of the currents, he made land, to the relief of all who awaited him. They welcomed him, and set up a camp for the night, electing him as their leader on land as on sea and naming themselves Ciosans in his honour.

A fire was built and fed with shrubs and the people celebrated late into the night. But eventually all had gone to bed, to feel the firmness of the earth beneath them instead of the unsteady rocking of a tossing ship, and to sleep secure in the knowledge that they were not going to sink while sleeping. And then and only then did Ciosa wander from the embers of the fire, where small flames still flickered, tongues licking over charred wood. He wandered down to the sea, which he had called his country for ten years, and looked at his ship, invisible but there, which he had called his home for an equal period; and he sighed. And he prayed. He knelt on the wet sand and prayed to Meanra, Goddess of the Sea and of the Gift of the Sea, which is Life, and of the Breath of the Sea, which is Wind, and mother of the sons and daughters thereof. He prayed for kindness, he prayed that he might be guided, he prayed that he could live up to the expectations of his people, he prayed that their trust in him not be disappointed. He received no answer, as he had expected. The Gods do not work so crudely. The moonlight glinted off the water; at last, for the first time in ten years, and after all of his companions, Ciosa went to bed on dry land.

That night he dreamed. And the dream was of a character unlike any he had had before. He seemed to see a single apparition, a figure, stood before him; yet when he tried to look at any one part of it, it seemed to lose form and dissolve. It beckoned once and then turned - though the sight from behind was scarcely different to that from the front. It moved across the ground, into a forest, and on into the distance. No matter how Ciosa tried, he could not keep up, and then his mind moved to more inconsequential things.

The next morning the leader of the Ciosans awoke and left his tent. He was troubled in his mind, and confessed as much to his friend, closer than a brother, Nikolf. Nikolf was not a fighter, nor an artist; rather he was a thinker, tempering the rashness of the impetuous Ciosa, and he considered the problem in his quick mind, including the odd dream which Ciosa had recounted to him. Then Nikolf spoke, and in a soft voice suggested that the apparition was a messenger from Meanra, and that Ciosa's path was clear; he must find the location depicted in his dream, and thus find the messenger. Ciosa accepted the words of his friend, closer than a brother, Nikolf, without question, and would have set out instantly in search of this location. But Nikolf, loyal to his friend, indicated that Ciosa could only explore a small area. Convening the Ciosans, the erstwhile captain called upon volunteers from among the healthy men to explore the area for a distance of half a day's walk, and to return at nightfall, reporting to him what they had found. A dozen strong men, including the sometime cabin boy, grown into a man aboard ship, left in all directions save east - in that direction lay only the sea.

The explorers to the north returned within an hour, reporting simple rocky beaches up to the sea. The explorer sent due south returned with the same news by noon, and then Ciosa awaited the rest of his men. Huts were begun, but most would sleep under canvas that night again. As the sun set, a small group of men were sighted coming towards the camp. Keen-eyed Ciosa recognised eight of the men he had sent on expedition; with the three who had already returned, they still lacked one of their number. Hoarse with anguish, Ciosa demanded the whereabouts of the cabin boy, named Leif, who was as a son to him, whom he had raised from eight to eighteen years, whereupon they said that they did not know, but that he had gone due west. Swift of foot, Ciosa ran. He was pursued, his name was called, but none could catch him. Untiringly, Ciosa ran on, until the sun was long since below the horizon. Then the glint of the full moon caught his eye; seemingly balanced atop a mountain, his dream seemed to have resurrected itself. Awed, Ciosa walked forwards, almost treading on the cabin boy. Instantly, he was on his knees, shaking him, calling his name. The young man stirred, blinked, and saw his master. Relief swept through them both, and the Captain helped the boy to his feet.

Turning, he saw behind him the apparition from his dream. Paralysed with shock, Ciosa and Leif watched as the being moved closer. It stopped, and Ciosa could hear buzzing. Amazed, he realised that the creature was formed of a swarm of bees. The messengers of Meanra, symbols of Her greatest gift, condensers of Life into pure liquid form, totems of the Goddess Herself, formed into humanoid shape, stood before him, summoned together by the power of the Goddess. Worshipfully, he sank to his knee, and bowed his head. A voice sounded, and with awe Ciosa realised that the buzzing produced this noise, the hint of it carried along beneath the voice. It carried suggestions of plenty and freedom, of summer afternoons and flowers blooming, of a city of peace and harmony.

And then he heard the words. And if Ciosa was awed at the sight of the messenger, the sound passed all words to describe. The voice of Meanra blessed him for his humanity, for his concern for even the lowest member of his crew, and for his humility in confessing that he had no confidence in his ability to lead those who named themselves after him. And then his dream seemed to come again, for the figure beckoned and led the way into the woods, followed by Ciosa and Leif, and no mysterious force held them back. For half a half hour the two Glandorian sailors followed the earthly messenger of the Goddess of the Sea, until at last the being reached a glade. A river ran through the woods, and in a clearing on the bank the apparition pointed once at the ground, and then before their very eyes lost form and separated into a chaotic, formless swarm of bees, pouring into one of the hives at the edge of the glade. Trees groaned with fruit; hives overflowed with honey; and a river gushed through with water. Perfection seemed to Ciosa to exist right there.

And as they stood there, Captain and cabin-boy, the rest of the Ciosans arrived, led by his friend, closer than a brother, Nikolf, babbling and calling, but one by one falling silent as they entered the clearing. Then Ciosa turned to the assembled multitude and, in words so powerful it is said they can still be heard by those who listen, welcomed his friends and showed them the vision of happiness which the Goddess had granted to them. And he said that any city on a coast should be a port, and Port Cael should be the name, as it would be a port to the world. Yet the people called out that it should be named Ciosa, in honour of their leader. Unable to stop them, Ciosa allowed this and then called them all back to the camp, to fetch wood and tools and young children, and build the mighty city of Ciosa.[3]

And all the glories of the Kingdom of Avennoria sprang from that one day, when Ciosa demonstrated his ability to show kindness and compassion to the lowliest, and so won the blessing of the Goddess Meanra, Goddess of the Sea and of the Gift of the Sea, which is life, and the Breath of the Sea, which is Wind.

________________

Footnotes.

[1] The reef on which Ciosa and his crew ran aground was, according to scholars, once connected to the mainland, and the current reef which protects the port of Ciosa from the extremes of the elements was once a part of it. As the original reef prevented ships from landing, a huge amount of it was destroyed by the second and third generations of southern Glandorians, leaving only what did not pose a danger to ships - and even this, once damaged, was badly affected by the weather, and the force of the sea. [Back]

[2] Meanra is the Goddess of the Sea of the ancient Glandorians, and the patron Goddess of the tribe from which Ciosa came. The worship of Meanra and her consort Hannrans died out over seven thousand years ago, as the traditional religion of the Glandorians was supplanted by the worship of the Twelve in Avennoria and the original Glandorians in Kanapan were absorbed into the mainstream Kanapan culture, including their unique religion. [Back]

[3] The original proposed name of Port Cael was also adopted by poets as an affectionate and prosey name for the city during the height of the Kingdom of Avennoria. [Back]
 


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Folk tale written by Athviaro Shyu-eck-Silfayr View Profile