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
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
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
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.