Winter: Prelude to the Sleepless Wars

No one is certain from where light first came, but as it spread life across the universe, stirring things in the gloom, it began to wake the deepest, most ancient darkness. And from it stepped the living and awake, hungry and curious, joyful and afraid.  In forms many they stepped into our lights, searching for our secrets.

 

Which is older, the light or the dark?  Neither can be sure, neither can remember, none except maybe the Eclipse King who wanders somewhere far, alone and lost in the deep night.  Another myth deep, deep in the ‘great mystery’.  Denizens of the night discovered the world of day, baffled, excited and humbled by all that it was, the sights and blinding glare and movement and sound.  Life.  True, waking life, bathed in the shimmer.  So even the great, old Lords of Night would teach the young shadows, the oldest, mightiest of things were Life, the truth of the deep, deep mystery and fabled Love, which kept it strong in the world of day bright.

 

In time, shadows which wandered deep into the world of day, lost and enchanted would become what denizens of light would call ghosts, curious and amazed at all the world.  Among the ghosts, there was one who glowed brightest, a denizen of shadow who had long ago, somehow become one with the world of day.  They called him Willow, the Wisp.  The Ghost King.  He had seen Love with his own eyes and knew the warmth of day; so deeply in love did he fall with the light that he became a part of its deep, deep secrets.  They say that he and the Eclipse King- Naenamh were of the same breed, Great Shadows, but whereas the Naenamh shunned the day and the treacherous night which had fallen in love with it, leaving the universe behind, Willow stayed.  And the world’s light’s became his waking breath.  He would be there always, that in times when turmoil and fear would strike the world of day, the Ghost King would stay wide awake and revive light in the world from his love for it- the stars would re-ignite answering his wide eyes, the moon would wake to heed his call that the promise of the sun would come again.  Willow, the Ghost King’s love would light the world until the realm of day could could remember to love itself.

 

Some denizens of night would follow him into the realm of day and they would be given many names.  But there was one band of old shadows that would not be permitted to walk into the day.  The devils.  Gentle yet frightful, mighty yet meek, ruled by the terrifying Set who had split from the terrible Shah’tan long, long ago.  Set feared the world, and feared for it as well.  So his devils remained in the night, barely daring to prod, tumble and wonder into the beautiful light of day.

 

And this was such for many ages; so long in fact that worlds upon worlds passed, until a young devil, wishing she had a name and searching for warmth entered into the world, curious and frightened, ever so brave on the night when eve and dawn were one, on All Hallow’s Eve.  This is her story, the legend of Farnight.

 

Devils are likely to have been descendents of the original faeries, the ‘concepts’ born from the eb and flow of life from which the Shah’tan, Solomonic and Mononoke movements emerged, the world displaced by the world.  Ibla and her kind were not devils as we know them, rather they were concept beings born of plasma charged by consciousness.  They had melded the dark into something living, into light, or at least the Shah’tan faction believed, that they were the true manifesters of light, not mankind or the material living.  Devils, who have never had a name for themselves are the long term result of interaction between the material world and concepts, plasma and deep shadow.  As such, contrary to their own beliefs, they were not born purely from darkness, not in the purest sense.  Another way perhaps to explain it is that when light came to be and brought with it sound and colour, the darkness or the ‘mystery’ developed consciousness to listen to or perceive the light.

 

In this sense, devils are fundamentally destined to pursue light and step into the waking world brimming with curiosity.  Even if timidly in times of dusk and dawn.  They are not beings of darkness, they are not like the ‘Sleepless’, or ‘demons’, devils who through overexposure to shadow are developing into nightmares, unwaking and strange.

 

But devils long heeded the will of long spent fear and believed themselves nomads of the dark.  And in time, they told terrible stories of the light, that it would burn their kind on touch, that the brightest star was a scorcher and its enforcer, the sapphire bandit lord was more terrible than the Eclipse King of the night.  They heard of humanity’s terrible wars and strife under the pitiless sun which revealed and bared all shame, even in winter when the sacred cool was defiled by a sky which obscured the stars still.  But still devils young and old would wander into the realm of light.  Imps would turn to daemons and speak of the ghosts who lived off the world of light, even though they were born of the dark.  But devil lords like Set hiss who bitterly and say that ghosts weren’t real creatures, not in the same way that they were, his kind avoided the daylight.

 

But creatures cannot stay clear from light or dark alone forever, for in the dark is the thick weight of thought and feeling and the light is the hope and promise and will on which those things depend.  Stargazers, the name given by the Constellations to conscious, living things in Kaleidoscope, even the devils were still stargazer, like the Heibaragi- humans, who filled them with wonder.  They all dreamt quiet and aloud, of stars.  She dreamt still and wanted to know of goodness and wrong, of hope and fear, so she wondered out into the human night, still so filled with light.  She was of a tribe that had long left the protection of Set.  They wandered on the borderlands, learning in time that somehow, being close to the world of light, even if it was at night, nourished them in a way they didn’t understand.  It was not like food, it was different.  Hope.  She would tell them, the word, the people used was ‘hope’.  Maybe this was what the ghosts ate, why they kept returning.

 

Among other devil tribes they would be called the Lost, the Lost imps, daemons and mares, treading too close to the light.  The ghosts and others of the family of the night would call them ‘lamp kin’ or ‘kindle fiends’, but among the humans and creatures of day who would glimpse them curious and awed, they would be called ‘elves’.  This lost tribe of light loving devils.  As the ages past, they sought a place where they may enter into the world of light and stay, but this could only be possible somewhere night was long, that they may always gaze the stars.  So the lamp kin, slowly, surely tred north, towards the cold and the stars.  And they grew distant from the affairs of shadow.

 

Talk spread of a great battle between the free ghost king Slumber and a tribe of phantoms of a terrible train who raged for dominance of the world of dark.  Creatures of the farnight chose sides.  Word spread of ghosts of day, who lived in the light, that no one need stay in the dark, these called themselves the Infinity, and among them was the great Fire Song, Willow.  Devils too chose sides, but not Set or his tribe, nor the lamp kin who had once been with them. Word spread, that Set fought on the side of Slumber, then dark, all went dark.  The last anyone heard, the faeries, ghosts, concept being born of the day, entered the dark, the farnight to join the fight.  Ghosts and devils fled to the boundaries, spurred on by the cry of Ember, the ghost who had become an anchor of day. The anchors of night themselves, for the most part left for the light of the day world, believing that the future of the night lay in the waking world, that the train could kill Slumber and take the farnight and for all they cared.

 

And all the while the kindle kin devils moved through the night of the waking human world and climbed always north.

 

Winter, she gave herself that name after the light which filled the Earth, which chimed and sung honest.  In the darkest of times, there was light.  There was Winter.  In a human land, near the north, she found a man, Nicolas who wandered the darkness to bring joy to the young and the tired and the sad, even though so many were cruel.  Coal, the children were made to dig coal in this land, but Nicolas, made toys and brought it to them.  She revealed herself to him, something she could never have done before.  He wasn’t even afraid of her eyes of pitch, skin of ash and ears long and pointed which reached always for signs of life, for that was how devils, born to reach for the world of day were built.  They killed him, this man who celebrated life,the humans killed Nicholas.  She stayed with him and wept, until a wisp appeared,a flare of blue and scarlet and white, and she knew it was him,that like he promised, people could never die; they lived on and she travelled that land gathering what she could of him from those he had touched and brought his life fire back to her people.
They walked into the far north, and finally found a place they could call home.

 

Thanks for reading! Please consider supporting on patreon.com/heistories for exclusive stories! At the moment, I’m putting up the episodic ‘Centillion Lights’ on Patreon, a fantasy-science fiction about finding your place in the world and making it your own. Hope you continue to enjoy your stay in Kaleidoscope!

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