An old man tells the story of his ancestors
|It is evening in the plain. Three fires light the darkness. At one of the fires sits an old man and nine children.|
"Gather round, children." said the old man. "It's story time."
"Yay, stories!" shouted the children.
"What do you want to hear tonight? Fairy tales? A song?"
"Tell us the story of your ancestors!" shouted a tall boy from the back.
"My ancestors? Don't you already know?" said the storyteller; the children knew, however, that this was only a game. He wanted to tell them, just as they wanted to hear.
"Tell us again!"
"Alright. said the storyteller. "Listen closely."
"A long time ago, the sky god Adan created Anga, the earth, a spinning man who kept hundreds of living things among his clothing. He was kind and generous during the day, but cruel and dangerous at night. The creatures of the earth came together in a council, with my ancestor, Tawo, as head.
"They came together for one purpose: to find a way to evade Anga, to diminish the terrors of his dark side. They spent many days in council, but despite their best effort, they could not find a way. So they decided to ask Adan himself. Tawo volunteered."
"Yeah he did! interjected small child from the front. "Humans are the best!"
The storyteller smiled indulgently and continued with his story. "Tawo knew he did not have the strength, so he asked the animals for help. They, knowing his need, gave it generously. The eagle gave the gift of his flight, the turtle her resilience and protective shield, and the fox cunning and wisdom.
"Fortified by these gifts, Tawo set out on the path to the sky kingdom, which he knew to be fraught with danger. He kept a close eye out for any stranger, and did not stop to speak with anyone if he could avoid it. But even with the gifts of animals, Tawo could not keep going forever, and he had to stop at an inn for the night.
"While he was there, he met a bear, who offered to be his guide for the rest of the journey.
'I can carry you on my back when you tire and lead you down the safest paths.' promised the bear. But Tawo, with the fox's cunning, sensed something off in the bear's offer.
'No, thank you,' said Tawo. 'I will find my own way.'
'Then I'll just eat you here.' said the bear, attacking. Tawo escaped using the power of the eagle's wings, but now he did not have a bed to lay his head on, and he was very tired. Finding the softest patch of moss he could, he dropped to sleep, but he could not find safety even then, for a spider demon came to tempt him. She crawled into his ear, and whispered into his dreams,
'I can give you all that you so desperately desire,' she promised, 'The Night of Anga is my birthplace. I know how to survive the dark.'
'What is your side of the bargain?' asked Tawo.
'Let me bite your neck and take some of your blood. Give me your last breath.'
'If you will not give me your last breath, I will take your sleep. You will not be able to rest until you reach your destination.'
Tawo awoke, but the spider was not to be found. Knowing he could not sleep, he set out for the heavenly realms as quickly as he could. Soon, he came within sight of the gates. Passing within, he came to the palace of Adan, who granted him audience.'
"Ooh, I love this part." said a girl. The storyteller quieted her and continued.
'Mighty Adan, father of all creatures, give me something to protect my people and the animals from the darkness of Anga.' Tawo asked.
Adan smiled and handed him a torch blazing with a substance he had never seen. 'This is called fire, young one. Use it's power to bring yourself and your people a little bit of day when you are beset by night.'
'Thank you, my king. But how will we have fire, were Anga's night creatures to destroy it?'
'Should that happen, I give you the power to make fire from your breath. Fire will grow from the magic in your breathing.'
'You are welcome. Carry it safely back to your people.'
"I find it hard to believe that your ancestor got fire and a magic power from an audience with a god." said one of the listeners.
"It is a story, little one. And remember, this is the story of your ancestor too: Tawo fathered all of us."
"Continue the story!" begged the other children. The storyteller took a breath, blew on the fire to make it hotter, and resumed his tale:
"On his way back, Tawo was strengthened by the fire, able to travel faster and longer because the light kept him safe. The spider tried to speak to him again, but when he heard her voice, he snatched up the torch, and she scuttled out of the light's reach.
"When he reached the inn, he was attacked by the bear, but he was protected by the flame. The bear soon found out that fire burns.
"When he reached the council house, he gave the animals' gifts back to them, taking fire for himself and his kin."
"And that is why," the storyteller said, finishing the story, "that we have fire to this day. Look at the three fires of our people. See the rings of protection they give us. The ring of firelight is the only thing keeping us from the terrors of the dark."
As the children went back to their families, the old storyteller sat by the fire, watching the flickering of its light on the ground, moving only to swat a spider that had found its way into his clothing.