The Count of Years : 4    [ Commentary ] [1] [2] [3] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

The five wars / Pâtu naxêtiū

The creation of the ktuvoks

Soxāeco saw the creation and flourishing of the iliū, and came to Amnās.

--These are surely the Second Spirits who will overshadow the First, said Amnās. This will happen soon, unless we make our own creatures to oppose them.

Amnās therefore created the amnigō, the sons of Amnās-- the ktuvoks. The ktuvoks are imitations of the iliū, so they can live on both land and sea, though they prefer to live in swamps, so that they are also called obērelō guiscueē, the feared ones of the swamp. They are tall, with the skin of snakes and the teeth and claws of bears, and they wear a crown of tentacles on their heads.

Amnās did not know how love works, so the ktuvoks reproduce without it. Their way of reproducing is this: the male and female come together once, and exchange eggs, without penetration. The young are raised by the mother, but only for as long as it takes for them to learn to talk and to hunt food in the sea.

Amnās did not know community, and so the ktuvoks live alone, though surrounded by slaves. The ktuvoks each live in a House of their own, and come together only to hunt or to make war.

At first the iliū only knew that there was a new kind of predator in the sea, one which hunted the greatest fish. They did not know that these were the sons of Amnās, and so they were not careful.

A group of ktuvoks came upon an iliu child, Nexi of the Nîimedi, who was playing alone, and they killed and ate her.

The parents discovered this and came to Eruimed the chief of the Nîimedi, crying and suffering. Eruimed listened to them, and came to Iriand.

He said, --O Father, there is a new evil in the sea.

And he explained how Nexi had been murdered.

--It is these new beasts, said Iriand. They hunt the largest fish, and so they think they are the masters of the ocean. We must hunt them and teach them to fear the iliū.

A large number of iliu went to hunt the ktuvoks, in order to teach them to fear the iliū. Eruimed was the leader, but Ambretāu and Gorōdias swam with them as well, to show that the iliū were united. They found the ktuvoks, but to their surprise they heard them talking to each other.

--They are not beasts, but a Thinking Kind, said Gorōdias.

--This is worse news, said Ambretāu. A beast kills because it is a beast, but it is a great crime for one Thinking Kind to kill another. This is the work of Amnās.

--It is, said Eruimed. But we have the power of Eīledan.

The iliū listened further, so that they could understand the ktuvok language. The iliū are gifted in language, and the ktuvok language is simple, so it took them only an hour.

Now they confronted the ktuvoks, saying, --We are the iliū, and you have killed Nexi, one of our children. You are a Thinking Kind; didn't Ulōne teach you that this is a great crime? You must make this right!

The ktuvoks answered, --O iliū, we belong to Amnās; Ulōne doesn't speak to us, and Ulōne is nothing to us.

--Amnās was created by Eīledan.

--A child may rebel against his father and kill him; don't you know this?


-- Then learn it, and learn that we were made to be your enemies. We were made to oppose you, and we will destroy you, as the Giants were destroyed before you!

The ktuvoks were lying in their boast; not all the Giants were killed.

--You have the madness of Amnās, said Ambretāu. But do not think we are easy prey, like the fish you hunt. You will regret your murder and your madness!

1. The war of Nexi

Now the wars of the iliū and ktuvoks began. There were eight wars; each war lasted a thousand years, and there were a thousand years between each war, but three thousand years between the fifth and sixth wars. The period of wars thus lasted 17,000 years.

The first war was the war of Nexi the slain child, which was fought on all the lands and in all the seas of Almea. This war was fought without weapons, using only hands and teeth and claws. Neither iliū nor ktuvoks are as strong or tough as giants and ogres; but both are stronger and faster than men, and harder to kill. Still, nine tenths of the iliū were killed in this war, and nine tenths of the ktuvoks. Finally both sides were exhausted by war, and the war ended.

2. The war of metal

The second war was the war of metal, which was fought in every part of Almea. This war was fought with edged weapons: swords, spears, arrows, axes, pikes, darts, stars, and traps. At first there was great slaughter, because the skin of iliū and ktuvoks, though strong, cannot resist cutting metal. Then both sides learned to make shields, helmets, and armor. At the end the iliū learned to use whales as mounts in the sea, and with greater speed and weight they inflicted a great defeat on the ktuvoks, who were driven into hiding, and the war ended.

3. The war of spirit

The third war was the war of spirit. This war was fought with magic. The ktuvoks used forbidden powers of Ecaîas, and the iliū called on the power of the Guardians. With magic, the combattants produced terrible monsters, or destructive fires, or induced blindness, sleep, and fear. Magicians flew through the air, built immense fortresses in a night, or destroyed the strong places of the enemy with lightning. The ktuvoks created magical plagues which attacked the flesh of the iliū or drove them insane. The iliū created convincing illusions, confusing the ktuvoks with dangers that might or might not be real, and concealing the real location of their armies. Each side also created magical protections against the spells of their enemies.

In the end the ktuvoks unleashed disease on the seas themselves, Almost all the iliū who were in the oceans perished, including all of the young iliū. Only the iliū who were on land survived, and the ktuvoks, who stayed in their swamps because they had been forewarned. The iliū now hid, and the war ended.

Iriand the first of the iliū and Alāna his wife were the heads of the guardians of the young, and were killed by the plague. All the iliū mourned with great sadness, since every one of them counted them as their ancestors. Ambretāu became king of the iliū.

4. The war of fire

The fourth war was the war of fire, which was fought all across the lands of Almea. Each side mastered fire of all sorts: the ordinary flame, the terrible fire of the earth, lightning from the skies, the cunning fires of sorcery. This war was the most destructive of all, because not only the iliū and ktuvoks were burned by the fire, but plants and animals, and entire plains and forests. Even the lakes were boiled into steam and dried up.

Finally Soxāeco told Amnās, --The fire that we have is not enough; the iliū can resist it or hide in the ocean, and they are not all killed. Ecaîas is the master of fire; he must give us all he has.

--Ecaîas can't do any more while he's imprisoned in the earth, said Amnās.

--Then we must free him, said Soxāeco. To do this, I will need a small star, and I will use the star's fire to free Ecaîas.

Soxāeco then travelled among the stars, seeking one which was not guarded by its Einalandāua. He found one that belonged to a First Spirit, Obondōsiu, who was visiting a friend. He stole it before the First Spirit could return, and brought it back to Almea. Then he went to Amnās to make plans.

The Guardians saw this, and summoned Ambretāu.

Xlainamo told him, --You are in great danger. Soxāeco has brought this star in order to use its fire to free Ecaîas.

--What can be done? asked Ambretāu.

--It may be best to go to Obondōsiu and have him retrieve his star, said Têllênamiēi.

--I will go, said Sistenamo. I am the swiftest of the Guardians.

--No, I can't allow that, said Xlainamo. Almea is in the greatest danger, and all of us must stay to fight Amnās and his demons.

Ambretāu thought, and said, --What if I go to the star and speak to it? Perhaps I can convince it to leave.

--That might work; but it's dangerous, said Sistenamo.

--Why? said Ambretāu. Isn't it the star of a First Spirit? It hasn't rebelled against its master and become evil, has it?

--No, but it is not only evil things that are dangerous. Would you also eat fire, or jump into an abyss?

--If it is to save my people, then yes.

Xlainamo and the Guardians agreed. They prepared a coat for Ambretāu, made out of cool water and moonlight, to protect him from the fire of the star. Without this coat he would not be able to approach the star, but wearing it, he was able to come close enough to talk to it. Even so, the heat was terrible, and Ambretāu could only speak with effort.

--O Obondōsiu's star, Ambretāu said.

--Yes? said the star, its voice louder than thunder.

--The one who brought you here, Soxāeco, is a false Guardian. He intends to use your fire to open a great crack in the earth and free Ecaîas, the First Spirit who rebelled against Iáinos.

The star flared with great anger, burning Ambretāu even through his cooling coat.

--This shall not be, little one, said the star. The false Guardian will not turn me into a tool against the First of All!

--Will you return to Obondōsiu?

--No, I will deal with this false Guardian, or else he will go find another star to steal. Go, because he is coming now.

Ambretāu left quickly, for despite his coat his skin was as blackened as charcoal. He returned to the iliū and related everything that had happened to him, and Anāos his son and Nîtardis his daugher cared for him.

Now Soxāeco returned to the star of Obondōsiu, armed with great magic that would burst the star open and spill its fire on Almea. He hoped to open a crack to free Ecaîas. The star opened; it was as if jaws of fire had opened, and they swallowed Soxāeco and destroyed him. So the weapon which he intended for final victory against the iliū became his own destruction.

Seeing this, the iliū rejoiced, because their greatest enemy was destroyed, and the ktuvoks were thrown into consternation. The iliū burst from their strong places and gave battle, and destroyed nine tenths of the ktuvoks, and the rest went into hiding, and the war ended.

The iliū rushed quickly to the side of Ambretāu. He received them and they told him the story of their victory.

He smiled and blessed them, and then his spirit left him, because his burning was too great, even for the healing arts of the iliū. All the iliū mourned, but especially the Ambretagō, the royal third, who were all his children. Anāos became the king of the iliū.

Iáinos observed the course of the war, and grew sad. --Soxāeco is destroyed, but evil has not been destroyed with him, and it will arise again, and perhaps destroy Almea. I will prevent this.

According to the dream of Iáinos, Eīledan took the substance of Obondōsiu's star and formed it into a girdle of fire which divided Almea in two. The fire of the star is a memorial to the war of fire, and it is a barrier between the two halves of Almea. Wars might arise again, but could not destroy all of Almea, because of the fire.

5. The war of machines

The fifth war was the war of machines, which was fought in the north of Almea; war did not reach the south, because of Obondōsiu's fire.

In this war the ktuvoks and the iliū did not face each other in battle, but devised machines of war. First the ktuvoks created machines to attack the iliū; the iliū responded with machines that attacked the ktuvoks. Then the two sides created machines that attacked the enemy's machines. The machines grew ever larger and more destructive, till they became giant tools of war the size of cities, crawling over the land and battling other machines.

Finally the machines were all destroyed, and both sides were exhausted with making them, and the war ended.

© 2002 by Mark Rosenfelder
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