To hear the stories told by old women over the fire, one would believe the world to be inhabited by ghouls and hobgoblins. This is not true. The world is full of magic for sure, but the magic has been here longer than the old women, longer than humankind and longer indeed than memory can express.
In the beginning of time, Allondial was born. Her first breath was a gasp that awakened humankind from the eternal sleep of non-existence. Her smile was gentle as she gazed upon all creation as it woke, and humankind smiled back, enthralled by her presence. Enchanted by her beauty, humanity sought ways to draw close to her, to find comfort in her bosom. For she was the first light, a magical, shimmering luminosity that whispered of possibilities and caressed the soul.
In the shadows cast by her gentle light, poets and artist and musicians were born, their inspiration drawn from the heart of the one who called them into being. She smiled upon them, her gentle radiance guiding their endeavours, and as they shaped their art, the heart of Allondial sang with joy.
Yet, the breath of Allondial was fickle, akin to the capricious dance of the zephyrs, and ebbed and flowed as her attention fluttered towards distant realms and unexplored horizons. As her face turned away, darkness draped the world, and humanity, left alone, wailed in despair. Shadows deepened, and a profound sorrow, accompanied by weeping and wailing, swept across the land.
Amidst this enveloping darkness, a man named Remu arose, a soul aflame with defiance against the darkness. In his desperation, he cried out to Allondial, hurling rocks into the abyss, pleading for the return of her radiant light.
“Allondial!” he beseeched. “Turn your face to us once more. Bless us with your light, for without your breath, we are nothing.”
In the silent darkness, Remu’s voice echoed unheard. Frustration gripped him, and in his anguish, he cast a stone, inadvertently igniting a spark that flickered and vanished, gone before he could even know its name. Undeterred, he continued, desperate to capture this new light, to hold that brightness and study its beauty. It was so incredibly different from anything he had ever known. On and on, casting stone after stone, until one spark, landing on dry grass, birthed a tiny blaze, growing in size and brightness and warmth. Soon a small blaze fluttered about Remu’s feet. He laughed and searched for a way to harness this spark, to control it and keep it close to him. Grasping a branch from a nearby tree, Remu thrust its leaves into the blaze. Ravenously, the new light consumed the offering, growing ever brighter.
“I will call you ‘fire’, and you shall be with me always,” Remu announced with pride.
Remu took this new fire back to his people, igniting their curiosity once more with the bright flame. Its warmth lured them from the shadows to bask in the glow and dance by the wavering light. Soon Allondial was merely a memory, and humankind ceased to pine for her gentle face. The heat of the flame ignited a new passion, fueled by wanting and a desire to harness the flame for himself, to bend its light to his own need.
Yet, as the flames multiplied, so did the flames of greed within their hearts. Where once humankind had created harmony, enjoying the fruits of the soul that flourished in the light of Allondial’s gaze, now nothing but envy grew. Each person could measure the brilliance of their own light and compare it with the blaze of another. Want grew within the soul, obliterating need, leaving no room for the beauty of hope. Each person fed their flame, hoping to enlarge it, to brighten their own world and prove their personal superiority.
As the competition grew, so too did the flames, until it was impossible to contain them. The fire, an impish, impudent and impulsive beast, escaped its confines to run rampant. It danced with delight, devouring all in its wake, knowing neither friend nor foe.
And soon humankind learned a new word—fear. The shouts and screams echoed throughout the land, as fire consumed them without discrimination. What was once a source of joy, igniting hope, now created a desire to become a merciless destroyer.
Remu, witnessing the devastation wrought by his own creation, wept for the ruins of his home. Accusations were hurled at him by his own people, fingers pointed in harsh judgment.
“You caused this!” they cried. “You brought this beast to our door, and it has feasted upon our lives. Now it has ruined us!”
Remu, burdened by the weight of guilt, could not deny the truth. His actions had birthed a destructive force that now consumed the very essence of their existence.
Drawn to the light, Allondial returned to witness her progeny engulfed by the flames of chaos.
“Remu!” she cried. “What have you done?” The sound of her voice drew all things to a halt. Every voice was muted, every flame frozen in its place. In the brightness of the fire, Allondial’s face waned, and the radiance was leeched from her skin. Deathly shadows deepened her eyes and carved the groove of her mouth. Her sinister appearance shook Remu to his core, and he threw himself before her in fear.
“Forgive me!” Remu begged.
“You have defiled the land. For that you must die!”
Allondial raised her hand and grasped a flaming branch and thrust it into Remu’s chest. His life blood welled up and flooded the land with its crimson tide as it doused the flames. Slowly, Remu sank into the ground as darkness once more covered the land.
In the silence that followed, Allondial searched for her people, her face once again shimmering with light, but everywhere she looked, she found them sleeping, their bodies overcome with exhaustion. There was no one to admire her, no poet to write an ode to her beauty, no artist to paint her radiant face. No matter what she tried, no one would awaken, and she stood in solitude for an eternity.
Finally, unable to bear the loneliness any longer, Allondial reached into the ground to find Remu, and pulled him from his death.
“Why are they sleeping?” she asked.
Remu glanced about him. “They are tired.”
“They had to work hard to survive the fire.”
“When will they wake?”
“I do not know. When it is time to work again, I suppose.”
Allondial thought about that for a long moment. “They work when your fire is burning, but sleep when my shadow covers them.”
Remu agreed that it did seem to be so.
“Then you will need your flame once more.” She took a branch, and with her gentle light, set a small spark to burn. She handed the flaming branch to Remu. “Take care that you do not set the world on fire this time.”
Remu took the branch and bowed to his lady Allondial. “Will I see you again?”
“I will not be gone for long. We will meet again.”
And so Remu set forth with his branch ablaze, awakening humanity and encouraging them rise and work.
When the day was done and the flames began to escape their confines, setting the land ablaze, Allondial returned and once again thrust the burning branch deep into Remu’s chest, quenching the flames. She then wandered the land, calling to lovers, poets and dreamers, igniting within them a fire of passion and creativity.
And thus, it is the pattern for all eternity, Allondial and Remu follow one another, meeting only at dusk, to quench the flames of day and again at dawn to bring light to the new morn.
“Now, my sweet child, that’s enough for one night. Go to sleep. Allondial is coming, and you don’t want her to catch you trying to burn all the branches. You know what happened to Remu when he wanted more?”
“But mumma, it’s just a story!”