The tale of Orion is recounted.
|The Tale of Orion
Each year with the coming of the storm, the tale of Orion was told. The elders of the tribe knew the tale word for word but it was for the youngsters amongst the tribe that the tradition was kept alive. “Tell us the great tale of Orion,” Ariane heard someone cry out as the first patters of rain were heard. The call was directed at the Priest and Priestess of the tribe. They had been chosen at birth by the previous monarchs before them. It was the greatest honour amongst the tribe for not only did they help govern the tribe but they also communicated with the spirits of old. They were Seers, able to guide the people with the gift of foresight and thus were deeply respected.
Ariane’s gaze rested upon the Priestess as she pulled herself to her feet. Her robes were of deep cobalt, dyed using the juice of the blueberry. Her eyes were also a piercing blue that held the attention of all whom they rested upon. Her dark hair, threaded through with weaves of grey, often formed a curly halo about her face. Tonight though, she had pulled it back into a wooden clip.
The Priest and Priestess had not been seen recently, deep in meditation and counsel regarding the now present storm. No one knew where this meditation took place as it was forbidden to speak of it. There had been one who had and he had swiftly vanished. The people made no mistake, despite the kind hearted front of the Priest and Priestess, the Gods could be savage when meddled with. Those who spoke ill often awoke to find their crops ruined or their children gone. But the people of the Orionith tribe soon learned life was much simpler when one kept his head firmly in his own business.
“The scholars tell many tales of Orion’s bravery and accomplishments,” the Priestess began, taking the story telling into her hands. Their dear Priest still sat inert and asleep. The recent events had clearly taken their toll upon him. Perhaps it was time to begin finding his replacement.
“There are no clear accounts of the time before Orion, only speculation. It is believed he was sent here to restore the balance of the world. Perhaps he is so revered because of his manner of arrival. A young farmer was tending his crops when a great flash lit up the sky and a beastly howl filled the air. Suddenly, there was Orion, falling from the sky. The young farmer was so stunned that he ran straight to the Hall, crying for aid. Velda, a daughter of the tribe, was in meditation that day and rushed to help the stranger from the sky. She took charge of him and nursed him back to full health. She was a Priestess in training in the time before were chosen from birth. She used her knowledge of herbs and lunar magicks to cure his afflictions. It was not long before Orion could seen upon the hills with the hunting parties, eager to make his contribution. He settled very well into tribal life. Any questions about where he had come from were quickly quelled by his apparent memory loss. Velda was always quick to defend him and soon, he was initiated into the tribe. With his initiation came the promise of finding a wife. It came as no surprise when he chose to wed Velda.
The wedding was a quiet affair in the forest and ten months later, the couple welcomed into the world their first child; Arie. He was strong, even as a young boy and would often help retrieve the harvests. He also helped his mother give birth to his siblings. He was a calming influence upon his father who, until Arie’s birth, had spent much of his time exploring and roaming the world. In the time during Velda’s first pregnancy, Orion had climbed to the highest peak of the mountain and named it Orionith. He named the stars in the sky after the twelve leaders of his home world; Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Virgo, Sagittarius, Scorpio, Aquarius, Libra, Leo, Gemini, Capricorn and Cancer. The twelve stars, he was often heard to say, which one is my home? When Arie was born, Orion began devoting his time to his children rather than to the stars above.
As Arie grew, so did his talent and he created many of the instruments we use today. But he never married, unable to find anyone that matched his spirit.
Talia was the second child, reckless in love and breaking the hearts of many during the night whilst throughout the day, he worked with Arie, helping him bring the harvest in. Twins came next, a boy and a girl, Gino and Gaia, little is known of these two except that Gaia developed the beliefs and although we do not believe in them, she was respected for her thoughts. She held the belief that the Earth was the religion, the one to worship and for this they were kept away from the Council as much as possible. Their views were not liked by our Gods but since no one else seemed to harbour these thoughts, they were allowed to remain.
Then there was a succession of three boys, Cane, Leontios, and Piarus. These boys were relatively unremarkable in the eyes of history particularly in comparison to Scarla who was born after. Velda gave birth to triplets next, an event that caused much speculation within the tribe. It is most uncommon for a woman to have a successful twin birth, let alone a triplet birth. Unsurprisingly they were all beautiful, exact replicas of their mother with her dark hair and honey eyes. Scarla made a name for herself in the history books with the betrayal of her mother. An act most bitter. But I will get to that soon,” the Priestess smiled as the youngsters lifted their heads. Always eager to hear of ruin and downfall.
“Velda continued to surprise the village with more births. After the daughters were born, more boys followed, pleasing Orion greatly, for with them his name could be passed down. Braeden, Aquina and Samila were scholars that kept the records of the Young Days of Orion’s reign.
Many tribes came from around the world to see the angel who fell from the sky. he was, many believed, a physical incarnation of the angels from the histories. And angels are considered to be the closest thing to the Gods. Of course, they are merely tales. With this belief came respect and soon enough, many of them had pledged their allegiance to Orion. Trade began between those in the North where the harvests were good and those in the South where the harvest was hard in the barren land of the desert. You see, the desert was different then. It is written that a witch cursed the tribes in the South and drove them all to death. They say she changed the land, cursed it and everything that grew or lived there and from this spell that she cast, nothing would grow there. Some even say that the ghosts of those she cursed linger in the desert and feed on all those who venture there. But this is just legend, the lore of our lands, it is impossible to prove or disprove.
For fifty five years Orion ruled our world successfully and soon his children had begun their own families, passing down his name throughout history. Even now his blood runs through our veins and he gives us the strength we need to withstand the bitter winters and the raging storms.”
The Priestess stopped to look around and found that she held the entire hall captive with her tale of their ancestors. Taking a breath, her eyes settling on the young woman, Ariane briefly, she continued her fable.
“Close your eyes and imagine the world then for it is much the same. Cast your minds beyond the storm that rages outside to a beautiful summer day. The sun is high in the sky and it lends its light to the people moving across the surface of the world. They look the same as we. The trees are luscious green and the lake that lies near the Orionith Mountains is a beautiful azure blue where fish glide around with the children who swim there. The hills rise and fall gently and are all covered with green grass. The Great Hall stands on the horizon, majestic and strong.
The desert is not as fierce as it is now and one can walk across it within a week to meet with the Southern tribes. Their land is barren but what lives there is strong, the trees rise into the sky and are resilient to the heat. The Southern tribes migrate to the Eastern forest of Galena in the hot summer months, taking with them their harvest and only returning when the heat is less. Some choose to stay within the forest rich green trees and there now flourishes a small community. Near to this land, perhaps a three day trek, is the ocean which covers more than half of our world. The records, written by Braeden, Aquina and Samila, talk of a wondrous sight, filled with all kinds of life. Legend tells of a mermaid, named Nerissa who speaks of thirteen Swords beneath the water. But Braeden writes that his father dismissed her and ruled that no one talk to her lest they fall under her spell.” Ariane’s ears pricked up at the mention of the Swords and she saw the Priestess glance sharply at her. Ducking her head down once again, she became lost in her thoughts, oblivious to what the Priestess was saying of Orion’s rule. The mermaid knew of the Swords! Perhaps her dreams meant something after all. She had been dreaming for so long now. Within her head she began forming a plan to find the mermaid. She had to speak to this Nerissa and she had to find out what she knew about the Swords if only for curiosity’s sake. Making a resolution cleared her mind and even as her heart pounded wildly at the thought of it, she began to listen to the hypnotic voice of the Priestess once again. She could not think of the mechanics yet, that would come to her when she lay her head to sleep.
“Trouble arose when a powerful witch attempted to enter the Southern tribe. There had been many stories of her and out of fear, the people rejected her. They refused to let her stay within their village so she came to the Northern tribes, to Orion. But, for reasons we shall never know, Orion refused her as well. There were many rumours as to why this might have been. Indeed, tales that she was the sister of Velda. She created the desert to torment both tribes for their rejection. The intensity of the desert heat meant they were unable to cross and therefore unable to trade during the harsh winter months. Many in the Southern tribes died and so perhaps, when you gaze upon the dried earth, it is their ghosts you see, still tormented by the past. Many believe that it is the witch’s hatred of all, that makes the desert burn so.
Her actions made Orion bitter and angry. Some believe that there was truth in the rumours that made him so angry. But he continued to reign as best he could. When Velda had birthed all of the children she was destined to, she began to devote her time once more to meditation. The troubles with the witch had drained her and Orion began to fear for his wife’s life. He began searching around the world for a cure to her weakness. He travelled across much of our world, even to the dark caves far away in the West where dark creatures were said to creep and crawl. He often spoke of forests where willowy pointy eared creatures were said to live, a life of peace and harmony. But still, he could find no cure. During his absence, his sons did the best they could to maintain the tribe. But trouble had begun brewing, talk that Orion was no longer loyal to the Gods. He began to disappear for days once more, striving to discover how he had come here, how he had fallen from the sky, seeming only to find questions always without answers. He was said to tell the most wonderful stories of his home world. Thankfully Velda, who now spent most of her time in bed, managed to persuade Orion to write a few down when he sat at her bedside. She later compiled them all into a book Orion had brought back with him from his travels and now, if you wish to hear more, I will read one to you,” the Priestess paused, reaching for a very old, discoloured book. The pages had long turned yellow and the ink with which they had been written in had faded considerably. Upon its cover was a drawing of a heavily built man with a belt around his waist. Small diamonds were etched at points, like stars.
“This inscription can be seen in the skies. It is said that no matter where you are you will always see Orion’s belt for he is there to keep you safe and know that you are loved,”
she took a deep breath and in the silence that lingered in the hall, thunder could be heard outside, the rain still beating down on the roof. Lightning flashed and the wind howled outside, but within the hall it was strangely quiet with only the sound of people breathing and exhaling.
“’My world was predominantly water and I remember so clearly the day my mother took me to see the oceans. I was still fairly young, possibly five or six but I had never seen the ocean. I was dazzled by its greatness, my mind boggled by the hugeness of it, the way it stretched out past the horizon, so far, so inconceivably far. The sky was a crystal blue that day and the ocean reflected it but as you looked, really concentrated on it, the water seemed to part and you could see down deep into the depths. The fish that swam there, some of the most peculiar things! A large jellied animal with long tentacles swam by as I stood on the wooden moorings that let us mere mortals gaze into the water. A beautiful creature that we called a dolphin leapt out the water, twisting and turning, showing off in all its gracefulness. Its skin was a stunning mottled grey and it whistled happily, dancing in the water among the children. I remember grasping my mother’s hand and smiling with delight. My mother was striking and I see her now as I look into my children’s eyes. Their brown eyes are much like my mother’s, their strength and the way they move forward in the world. They protect each other, so brave and strong. My sons are sensible, learning about the harvest and recording the reign of their father and my daughters! So beautiful, so much like my mother and so much like Velda. My thoughts often dwell upon my children and my fears always return. The fear that I shall not live much longer. Velda knows, I can sense it; I always know when something troubles her for she bites her lip and refuses to meet my eyes. I wish she would tell me what is to come for I hear her at night, crying softly and yet she refuses to let me in. I fear she will always feel alone and this saddens me also for I wish so much for my love to keep her safe. She grows weaker each time and I feel such a bitterness at this existence. The agony of being human, of seeing the ones we love fade into darkness. But forgive me, I ramble. You do not want to hear of my sorrows.
I appreciate now I have more memories than I can possibly recall here. I realise I haven’t mentioned my father. In truth, I did not see much of my father. My mother saw him every day in me, strong she said, stubborn. She always smiled at the memory of my father but I often saw tears in her eyes as well.
Our house was in the centre of our village, which was built on one of the few stable bits of land. It was but a small little hut with three rooms.
Our island was about 14km across, half of which was covered with forest but as our civilisation grew we cut these down to make ships and hundreds more houses. Our population was booming.
When I was fifteen I joined up with a group of sailors and together we set out to explore our watery world. There were islands scattered in the sea like the sparkling diamonds strewn in the sky. I sailed across the oceans and I, along with twenty-four others, discovered and colonised a new island. There was a mountain there and we all marvelled at its height, at its beauty. Some of our people moved to the island, I never did know what happened to them. There were rumours that we were not alone on our world. Maybe they were killed; I shudder to think what horrible circumstances may have befallen them.
My mother died the day after I reached my twenty-second birthday; my last memory is of spreading her ashes upon the sea, close to the spot where she had first taken me to see the ocean. The sky had been dark that day, clouds rumbled with thunder in the sky, no creatures surfaced that day, and I felt like the world was in mourning with me. Even now, I feel such sadness thinking of my mother; she was taken too early, far too early.
The rulers of my planet, Dolosus, the ones I have named the stars after, they were part of a council, the Great Council. They ruled our world and at first they did so justly. But some became corrupted by the greed for power and soon they all were and that’s why I fear the council here. I know it will only be a matter of time before they turn against me. But that is all I will say of my thoughts for fear that one day they will find this and use it against me.
The Council upon my world were made up of the Lords of the world, the honour of been on that council was passed down and therefore none but those in those families were given that honour. People began to rebel against this obviously, what made these ‘lords’ any different from us? I was one of those people that campaigned against it. We campaigned the day before my mother died and I believe, even now that the Lords of the Council are to blame for her death, she was too young. It was too early.’
It is here that that particular journal entry ends and that was the last one Orion ever wrote. After that he was taken to the desert, banished as a traitor. His daughter, Scarla is said to be responsible for his banishment, whispering lies and falsities about her father. She was said to be a possess the gift of foresight and with it she predicted that Orion would challenge the Council and disrupt the harmony of the Gods. Scarla received this vision as she stood within the hall, crying out about the atrocities of her father. Since so many had seen his erratic behaviour, they feared a more sinister reason for his disappearances. Velda, upon hearing her daughter’s prediction, sought to banish her but too many had heard the prediction and, as fear caused the witch’s banishment, it also sought them to act against Orion. Velda struggled against them, she even went to Nerissa, the mermaid to ask for her help but the mermaid spoke naught but riddles, seeking to frustrate rather than aid.
The Council, of which Velda had once been part of, demanded how Velda had not discussed with them her husband’s behaviour. Surely she should have known of his plots and schemes? They ignored her pleas that this was not the reason for his absences but they refused to listen to her. They knew nothing of love, she had cried. Because Velda had kept it hidden, she too was banished with Orion,” she paused, knowing that the picture created was ill of the Council.
“Do not doubt the Council in this tale; they acted accordingly, seeking to protect their flock. Orion was brave and courageous but love will send us to the realm of insanity,”
The Priestess ended on a melancholy note and as Ariane looked around, she saw sad faces, mournful faces for Orion’s mother and the never-ending mystery. Whatever happened to Velda and Orion? Had they perished in their loneliness or had they endured, forever waiting to discover the other? Ariane felt an intense sadness but that feeling was vying for freedom with another. She had so many questions buzzing within her skull and she burned with desire to ask the Priestess but as she glanced up she found the woman had disappeared from view.