THE TRIAL OF UGRAHADZE

A HIVELING FOLK-TALE

 
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Introduction. This is a Remusian tale concerning the Ice tribes’ hero Ugrahadze, and his encounter with a hiveling composed of deadly Fisah-eck-Shanno insects. As with many hiveling myths concerning dangerous creatures, the hiveling turns out to be a good deal less vicious than the insects which make it up, serving aptly to illustrate the Ice tribes’ belief that man can, with the help of the gods, master his environment, however hostile.
 

n the before time, when gods walked the world with men, the hero Uraghadze Hanno-eck-Icsain, Uraghadze Ice-Hand, had many adventures. Now it happened that one spring, after a very long and cold winter, his clan was short on meat. Uraghadze decided to go off in search of game. He travelled to the Gathorn Mountains, where prey was more plentiful. Once there, it did not take long before he came across the track of a Tar’andus deer. Gripping his spear tighter in anticipation of a fruitful hunt, Uraghadze set off after the animal.

Now, as much as Uraghadze was loved and revered by his clan, he had garnerred the ire of a number of the gods. In particular, Necteref hated the hero for killing his animal companion, Caracal. Necteref too was in the mountains that day, and he did spy the hero on his hunt, and decided to make mischief on him.

Uraghadze trudged on through the mountains, further and further, lured by a great Tar'andus buck, with a rack greater than Uraghadze had ever seen before. His heart beat strongly in his chest, as he imagined the amount of meat this magnificent creature would bring. Onward he ventured, each time only catching a glimpse of the buck as it trotted over the next ridge.

The Tar'andus buck was no other than Necteref, leading the hero further and further away. The god had a plan, as dark and evil as there ever had been. Necteref knew that within the Gathorn Mountains, there existed a creature so foul, so dangerous, that the hero would not be able to save himself through strength alone, nor with cunning. The god was leading Uraghadze toward a froth of Fisah-eck-Shanno, the Snowflake insects.

For five days and five nights, Uraghadze chased the buck, always just out of range to throw his spear. On the sixth day, Uraghadze stopped, his body aching from the effort; his belly crying out for food; his hands and feet numb from the cold. He sank to his knees, and tilted back his head, letting forth a howl of rage that shook the very mountains themselves. He had failed his people, and now they would die without the food the buck would have brought.

As he knelt there, tears streaming down his face, forming a trail of ice along his cheek, he saw with wonder the buck approaching him. Uraghadze tried to heft his giant spear, but his strength was gone and he could not. Then, as he watched helplessly, the buck stood up on its hind legs. The great rack that Uraghadze had so wanted to take as a trophy, seemed to melt away, and the front legs became hands. The buck's face then transformed, and the true form of Necteref was revealed to the hero.

"Why? Why have you deceived me so my people shall die of hunger?"

"Your crime is arrogance, Uraghadze. Arrogance in thinking that you are equal to a god; arrogance in thinking that you could challenge and kill Caracal without incurring my wrath; and arrogance in thinking that Nechya, the mother of your kind, will always be there to help you. For this crime, the punishment is death."

To the hero's horror, he saw that Necteref was standing near a small alicott bush, of which a large froth had hardened around its base. Now it started to tremble, and soon it began to crack and split. First one, then another and another of small white insects emerged from the brown coloured froth. Some began to roll and crawl across the snowtop, heading toward Uraghadze, while others expanded and were picked up on the wind that came from Necteref as he blew them toward the mortal.

Uraghadze knew that these insects were Fisah-eck-Shanno - creatures as small as they were deadly, who would bite into his skin, burrow into his flesh, and infest it with maggots who would eat his living body from the inside until nothing but bones and hair would be left.

Uraghadze tried to run, but his legs would not obey him, and he could not move. As he knelt in the snow, he lifted his chin proudly and faced the vengeful god before him. "Then I die, but I die a man! I die a child of Nechya, having lived with her grace, and it is my honour to do so."

A smile crossed the face of the god, and he looked upon the mortal with contempt. "Yes, you will die, human. Alone, cold, and in much pain." The image of the god then transformed once more to the shape of the buck. It then turned and bounded easily through the snow and far away.

Uraghadze watched the buck disappear, then looked at the approaching terror; resigned to his fate. As the first insects neared him, so that he closed his eyes and awaited their painful burrowing into his flesh, he was surprised when it did not come. He opened his eyes again, and watched in wonder as the insects nearest him stopped their advance.

Like an eddy in a body of water, the snowflakes began to travel in a slow wide circle, slowly traveling inward, tighter and tighter, faster and faster. Not only the insects on the ground, but those in the air as well, as if blown by a strange wind. More and more snowflakes gathered, slowly taking shape; slowly getting larger. Insect against insect; one atop the next, it built upon itself, becoming a mysterious entity.

Thousands of Fisah-eck-Shanno came together, more than Uraghadze could count; more than there are stars in the night sky. Slowly they transformed from many small insects to one large creature; its flesh a trembling mass of snowflakes. This new creature took a shape, and that shape was a woman. Although its face had no eyes that were real, no mouth that was real, nor any other feature that a face should have, Uraghadze recognized that very face. It was the goddess Nechya.

Muted, silent, it stared at him with ethereal eyes, its head cocked to one side. How it was able to stare at him without real eyes, but simply a hole in the writhing mass on snowflakes, cannot be guessed at by mortal minds. But stare it did, and its mouthed seemed to move as if speaking, but no sound came forth.

Uraghadze could not help but feel a shiver course through him, for he knew he was witnessing the power of the gods; the power of Nechya herself! Using his spear as a support, he pulled himself to his feet, feeling strength return to him, as if he drew on the power of the goddess.

The creature, the entity, the goddess, for how does one describe such a being, then lifted an arm and pointed. Insects swarmed about the limb, causing it to form, dissolve, then reform again many times over and over. It was solid, and as smoke all at once. Real and nightmare.

Uraghadze understood. He was to leave; to get as far from there as he could. Leaning heavily on his spear, he hurried away, looking over his shoulder often to see if the creature would follow, but it did not. Rather, it stood motionless, yet constantly moving, its arm outstretched in its invocation. Then, all at once, the creature collapsed in a grand display of swarming Fisah-eck-Shanno. But Uraghadze was safe; far from the white terror.

The hero made his way back. Down from the mighty Gathorn Mountains, back to the empty flatness of the Frozen Wastes he walked. Though he lived, spared by the mercy of the goddess Nechya, his heart was heavy, for he returned with no meat. How many of his people would die without the food he was to bring? He had failed them.

Suddenly, as his clan came into view, there stood before him a majestic deer, its antlers twice the size of the rack he had seen on the buck that was Necteref. This meat would save his people, feeding them for a long time. Taking aim, Uraghadze threw his spear with all his strength. His aim was true, and the Tar'andus buck was felled.

As he picked up the carcass and threw it over his shoulders to carry home, he looked to the sky, and gave his thanks to the great mother, Nechya.
 


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Folk tale written by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin View Profile