|TITLE: Hatred's Birth
GENRES: Fantasy, drama, mythology.
SUMMARY: Jealousy and pettiness--how hatred was born on the Island.
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2002.
LENGTH: 3500+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Fantasy violence, mild adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Ocryx and his "species" are © the Haunted Theatre of Mackinac Island. Certain characters are from Ojibwa mythology. Although aspects of this story are loosely based on Ojibwa mythology and culture, artistic license has been taken as this is a FANTASY story. Please take note that this story was written around 2002 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
RELATED STORIES: "Manitou Island" (serial), "Return To Manitou Island" (serial), "Escape From Manitou Island" (serial), "Tales From Manitou Island" (short stories)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the Manitou Island serials listed above; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This is my "genesis" story for Ocryx and Ocryana, the demons of Manitou Island. I felt this story required more of a storyteller, narrative style than a "showing," "you-are-there" style, and so decided to let someone else tell it. As such, some details in the retelling may not be correct; you can hardly blame me for that. Perhaps someday I will attempt another version. Please see "Unleashed" (a sort of prequel to this story) and "Reawakening" for how Ocryx and Ocryana were eventually freed.
* * * * *
"MANY HAVE CLAIMED you to be the eldest upon the Island. I don't know if this is true; but I wasn't certain who else I could turn to."
The medicine man sat cross legged upon the floor, the walls of stone rising high over his head as the gnarled old woman doddered around the room, rearranging and shifting things about in no pattern he could see. She muttered at his explanation for his presence there, and waved one hand dismissively.
"Not certain if it was meant to be an honor or something, but I'm hardly the eldest upon the Island. I'm certain there's a few Uroona older than I am..."
"Yet you were the one I was told might know the story which I seek. Of the demon. The creature beneath the lake."
"Ah, humm. So you were the one set him free after all those years, eh?"
Stick-In-The-Dirt blinked and sat upright, eyes widening. The old woman waved her hand again.
"Why else would you be seeking his story? But to relieve your own guilt? Somebody set him loose, the slavering dithering idiot..."
Stick-In-The-Dirt lowered his gaze to the floor. "I had not meant it. I wished only to help my tribe...I believe I already received my punishment." He shut his eyes and winced at the memory.
"Eh, you can hardly be blamed for his actions." The old woman picked up a wooden carving of some sort, looked it over, then muttered and tossed it aside. She wouldn't stand still for long. "And so now to understand him better, you wish to know his story...am I right? You think it could help you somehow, this knowledge of him?"
"I had hoped so. You seem to doubt it would work much."
"That's 'cause it won't. Knowing his story won't help you deal with him. He's a demon. He'll do what he likes, whether you understand why or not."
"I still had hoped to learn." He fidgeted. "You do know the story? Of how he came to be trapped beneath the lake?"
She snorted. "My grandmother told it to me. You can imagine how long ago that was. Knowing the way of things she probably heard it from her grandmother too...so it's not as if I was there, you see."
"He's been down there that long? Truly?"
"For as long as any upon the Island can remember, and longer. Ask any of them and they'd've told you they thought he was a children's story. Hah! At least somebody proved them wrong."
"And so how did it happen?"
"The way most of these things happen." She picked up a bowl and finally sat down, slowly easing herself to the floor with a grimace. "Someone started trouble. Somebody else got mad."
* * * * *
"Mind you, I was but a bitty little manitou when my grandmother told me this story; and she too was probably about my age when she heard it, and so on and so forth. I may forget parts of it by now. But I remember most of it. The important parts, at least.
"From what I hear, the name of the demon within the lake is O-cryx, He of the Glowing Eyes. This didn't always used to be his nickname; I suppose at one time in the far past he was simply Ocryx. I believe he was one of the first to have ever lived here. He was a manitou, like myself. A spirit. Created by Gitchi Manitou, the Great Spirit, so they say, to live upon the Island. He was one of the first of his kind, at least in these parts, and so the Island pretty much belonged to him alone. Gitchi Manitou entrusted it to him, told him that he and the Island were intertwined--one would not live without the other. Such is the way of things with manitous.
"When Ocryx first descended to the Island, I hear he looked much as we do now. He wasn't a demon, and he didn't look like a wolf with wings. In fact, from the way my grandmother told it, I would take it to be that he was quite handsome, a brave fit for any maid to marry. His hair was like crows' wings and his skin was like a sunset. The only thing different was his eyes. Bright green they were, like the great waters when the sun hits them just right. A most unusual color. Gitchi sent him to the Island and he made his home here. Mind you, your sort was not about yet, at least, not in any great number; there were not even many of my kind. He had just about only the birds and animals to keep him company as he wandered about the land. He didn't complain, that I hear, but Gitchi Manitou decided it wasn't good for a man, even if he was simply a spirit, to be alone, by himself. He decided to make Ocryx a companion.
"He called the manitou one day and presented him with his gift. Another, much like himself; only slender, thinner, more beautiful. Hair with a sheen as blue as a jay's wing, skin the color of the ore dug up from the earth and polished bright and set by a fire. Her eyes too were green, like his own, the way Gitchi had created them. She was named Ocryana-Who-Moves-Like-The-Wind.
"Gitchi Manitou presented her to Ocryx to be his companion and his mate so he would no longer be alone. They both accepted, and Ocryana moved in to live with her new husband. I'm not certain of all the details, you know; such stories change greatly over time. But I heard that at first, at least, the two of them were well suited for each other, that they loved each other fondly and spent all their days, and nights, together...today, though, one would hardly believe this...
"As the time went on, Ocryana began to grow restless. Ocryx spent much time away from their home, wandering about the Island and making certain all was as it should be. His mate had heard of his duties, how he was connected to the Island and it was connected to him, how the death of one would mean the death of the other. This meant he had great powers of medicine given to him by Gitchi Manitou. Ocryana's powers, on the other hand, were very small. And so the more Ocryx wandered the Island, the more she was reminded of this, and the more jealous and resentful she became. Idle minds! Such emotions they conjure up when left to themselves for too long!
"At first she tried to strengthen her powers by practicing them when she was alone, when Ocryx could not see her. She managed to increase them somewhat, but not nearly as much as she'd wished. Her jealousy only grew with each passing day. She wanted to be as strong as Ocryx! Perhaps even stronger! What would it take to achieve this, she wished to know? For as much work and effort as she put into it, the reward was too little.
"Finally in frustration she went straight to Gitchi Manitou himself, while Ocryx was busy elsewhere, and begged to be given a stronger medicine. Gitchi noticed her jealousy yet hoped she would outgrow it; surely as a manitou, she was above such petty things? Still, he granted her the powers she felt she deserved, although she was still not quite as powerful as Ocryx. It was more than she'd had before, however, so she walked away smiling, doubtlessly vowing to herself that she would make some use of it. What that use would be, no one knew.
"Ocryana practiced with her new medicine at first. She learned how to use it, how to control it; and in so doing she made it stronger. She might not have been more powerful than her mate, but she had a talent that was more powerful than Ocryx's own, that he did not possess. I suppose there was no turning back for her now. Her hatred had been festering for so long, and he'd never even noticed it, he was so preoccupied with other things. She'd make him pay for having stronger medicine than she, but also for ignoring her. Those who overlook the obvious are those who end up paying dearest!
"She was patient, though, and cunning; she knew better than to use her medicine immediately. She bided her time waiting for the right moment to...do what it was that she wished to do. Truthfully, I'm not certain if she even knew what that was, at first. Perhaps the idea only came to her later on, or just before she did it. But it would bear the same consequences either way.
"She waited until Ocryx was sleeping, and even then waited most of the night until his slumber was deep. As she was his mate, she knew how he slept, and when, and when he would arise. She remained silent and still until she knew there was little chance of him awakening in the middle of things, and then set about using her new power. But that some events could be changed!
"She held out her hands over her sleeping mate and started chanting in a low voice. The medicine Gitchi had given her had been light medicine, but within her heart it had grown dark, and so dark her powers would be! Her voice began to rise as she chanted and the medicine began to take effect--Ocryx started to change. Even while he slept, his face grew long and furred, his nose and mouth merging into a broad muzzle, ears stretching into points. Long gray fur grew from his body; his legs twisted, misshapen, and his feet elongated into narrow crooked toes. Claws sprouted from his fingers and a scaled tail from behind. Last of all came wings and long, wide horns that swept from his head. During all of this, he didn't once wake up.
"Ocryana couldn't continue chanting. She started laughing at the sight before her, and her laugh grew so raucous that Ocryx finally awoke, sitting up and looking at her pointing at him and laughing with derision. He noticed that he was the object of her laughter, and so looked down at himself. That was when he noticed. That was when his own hatred was born.
"Ocryx-Of-The-Glowing-Eyes! He who was once the noblest and handsomest upon the Island. Reduced to a hideous demon by his own mate! He was no longer even a manitou! He let out a scream of rage and it came out as a wolf's howl. Ocryana's laughter just grew even louder! She doubled over upon their bed and clutched at her knees, tears streaming down her face. All the while she pointed at him.
"'See the most powerful manitou upon the Island!' she mocked. 'Brought down by a mere woman! She who was supposed to bow to him! Who is beautiful and who is ugly? Who wields the greater power now? Ha ha ha ha!'
"The demon was enraged! His very mate, given to him by Gitchi Manitou, had betrayed him! What was more, he knew he had no way to change himself back to his true form--Ocryana had indeed gotten the better of him, this time.
"And he vowed that this would be the only time! For when she had cast her spell upon him, he too had gathered this same medicine within himself, and now he had the same abilities as she. Ocryana's own curse he could use against her!
"Holding out his hands, now grown furry and clawed, he snarled, 'See how amusing you find your own medicine now, spiteful wench!'--and uttered the same chant that she had, as he had slept. For now her medicine was a part of him! Ocryana managed to scream once before the power struck her, and as she began to change, her cry grew into a howl as well. Fur, claws, wings, tail, and horns, she became the very same hideous creature that she had made him into. Ocryana-Who-Moves-Like-The-Wind! Undone by her own jealousy and bitterness, she who was once the most beautiful spirit upon the Island was now reduced to a demon--the same fate she had bestowed upon her mate!
"Understandably--she was now more enraged than even he was! She threw up her arms with a scream-howl of fury. How foolish could she have been, to plan so carefully for so long, only to be undone by such a small oversight! And now, like he, she could not change herself back to the way she was before. His curse was now her own!
"Ocryx started to laugh, albeit bitterly, at her this time, but she would allow none of it. With a snarl she leapt upon him and their teeth and claws began to tear. What had been their bed was now their battlefield! They had torn and bitten and clawed at one another a great deal before Gitchi Manitou finally caught sight of what was happening with his two former spirits, and hurried to part them before they could kill one another. Such pride, such beauty now gone to waste! All over a petty jealousy, and ignorant oversight. Such is the way of things in this world, alas!
"Gitchi was angry with his two spirits, now demons, how they had acted despite being the fairest of their kind. Yet he could not bring himself to kill them. 'The two of you I had meant to be mates, companions--equal to one another,' he said in the stern voice of a disappointed father. 'Yet it appears I was not so careful in my plans. Your wills are both too strong; you are not suited for one another after all. Yet you are still bonded to one another, perhaps, ironically, even more so now in your new form.' He paused a moment to take stock of the situation. 'If I leave you together, I know that you will kill one another, and possibly destroy my Island. And I refuse to let this happen after all of my work." He shook his fist. "I will not let your childish squabbles ruin everything I've created!'
"The demons, of course, paid little attention to his proclamation. They were too busy still trying to reach one another, to tear each other's throat out. Gitchi knew he had to separate them, and keep them separated. The only way he knew how to do so was to use his own medicine...to imprison them. For who knew how long...for many moons, at least, possibly forever. This thought filled him with sadness...these manitous had been his pride and joy, once, and to see them so easily brought down by their own faults made his heart heavy. Still, he had no choice but to banish them to their own solitary punishments; and so this was what he did.
"Ocryx, he banished to a small inland lake from which the demon had drawn his power; he locked the creature far beneath the surface, beneath the water, beneath the rock, and then took away the water so the lake was dry, weakening Ocryx's medicine while keeping him imprisoned. Ocryana he banished to the caves near the middle of the Island, not far from here; as with her former mate, he took away the bulk of her medicine, and placed both of them into a deep sleep, in the hopes that perhaps someday he could reawaken them, once their grudge had been disposed of...if that should ever happen. He knew it would not be for many, many moons, and resigned them to their fates. And thus the demons slept, as Islanders were born and died and as the years passed, and in time, most even forgot that they had ever been real, anything more than a children's story.
"However...Gitchi did not take into account that one day, one of your kind...such as yourself...would come upon the dried-up lake in your hour of need, and decide to see if the story was true or not...nor that you would succeed in raising that which had been trapped there for so very long, that most of us had deemed it not real. Gitchi Manitou no longer dwells upon the Island as he did in the far past, and so now we are left to deal with this nuisance on our own. You wondered why Ocryx was so very angry when you first summoned him? What occupied his thoughts?" Old Mother Manitou paused in her story and peered at Stick-In-The-Dirt with narrowed eye. "I'll tell you what, human. For him, the years he has spent beneath that lake have been but a moment; he remembers not the time he spent sleeping down there. Instead she is fresh still within his mind."
"She?" the medicine man whispered. "You mean...Ocryana?"
The old manitou nodded. "The she-demon. Who else? Perhaps he feels he has merely closed his eyes and opened them again, and of course she is the one foremost in his thoughts. Why her? Maybe my estimate is incorrect, he feels he's slept longer, and now that he's finally awake he wishes to mate with her. I'm of the mind he would rather kill her, myself."
"For what she did to him. Y'think he'd forget so easily? Demons have long memories, especially when they've been slighted. Ocryx's slight is the greatest of all to bear. Once, he had a face and a form that would have won over any of the maids living among your tribes; now, he would send any of them running away in fear! Perhaps Ocryana had ample reason to be jealous--not only of him, but of whoever may have caught his eye. I never said her reaction was entirely her fault. Men will be men, I've learned, whether humans or manitous."
Stick-In-The-Dirt's gaze drifted to the floor before him. "So...I awoke him. And he's looking for her now, to kill her. For what she did to him. But what of Ocryana? Where is she now?"
"She?" Old Mother Manitou grunted. "Who knows. Probably still locked beneath the Island...good riddance! From what I heard, she was twice as bad as her mate, maybe more so. One Ocryx is more than enough. At the very least he didn't go about changing others' forms out of anger, that is, until she did the same to him." She pushed herself slowly to her feet and hobbled away a distance. "Anyway, if you or one of your kind hasn't dredged her up yet, that's where she'll be, in her own prison. Ocryx shan't be able to free her; I don't believe it's within his power. Even you freed him mostly on accident."
"An accident," Stick-In-The-Dirt murmured, still not looking up.
"Yes, yes, that's what I said, an accident. Ocryana may be imprisoned even more tightly than he, as Gitchi recognized her as the greater threat. And the Island does depend upon Ocryx to survive."
"What?" Stick-In-The-Dirt said sharply, glancing up. "What do you mean?"
"Eh, don't you pay any attention? Remember what I said? Ocryx and the Island are connected. This is one reason Gitchi didn't kill him. If he had, the Island would have been destroyed. Ocryx is likely the reason we're all alive, like it or not. So if you had any plans to kill him and be gone with him...I'd suggest you think otherwise."
"We can't...we can't kill him?" Stick-In-The-Dirt whispered. Not that he felt he even had the strength of hand or heart to do so anyway, when the demon's anger was not even his own fault...but he could think of no other way to ensure the safety of his own and the rest of the tribes.
"Nope," Old Mother Manitou muttered, and started arranging the hangings on her walls. "A pity, I suppose, but then again, you probably should have thought better before you released him. Not saying this was your fault...but somebody must accept some sort of blame, somewhere."
"Thank you," Stick-In-The-Dirt murmured, rising to his feet. He kept his gaze down once more, heart sinking within his breast. "For letting me know his story. I had felt there would be nothing I could do...but I had to be sure. I'll be leaving now."
"You have a place in mind?"
"Yes...back to my tribe. Thank you again."
The old woman muttered and waved at him. "Eh, go on then. And don't dally too much along the way. I hear he likes to fly about at this time of the eve. Still looking for that wolf wench, I suppose. Spirits hope he never finds her. And ends up with a demon pup!"
"Spirits hope," Stick-In-The-Dirt echoed, and turned to the doorway. He made his way outside into the darkening air and rubbed his arms, trying to relieve them of the sudden chill that arose within him. He started trudging down the path back to his camp.
Only once when he heard a distant howl did he pause and glance up, before hurrying on his way. The sound of a demon in search of his mate, to love her, to kill her, or both, he did not know...but he did not wish to be there to find out should it finally happen.
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