Popular stories from Nibenese folklore and mythology, collected in an Arabian Nights
-like compilation. These are some early attempts and WIP sketches, I'm still feeling out the exact tone and cadence I'd like Nibenese myths to take. The stories should be deliberately somewhat stilted and surreal, if only because Nibenese bards are all on drugs. Important themes are adherence to tradition and caste propriety, various religious sentiments, as well as the evil spirits of the jungle who represent things like fate and inescapable doom. More to follow, of course.
Tales of the Woven City I: The Serpent's Feast
Once, there was a soap merchant who lived in the city of Bravil. He was a wealthy man, who relished in things of beauty and delight: silk, wine, and honey. One day, while walking along the banks of the Niben, the merchant espied a fat and lustrous serpent bathing in the river shallows. The snake was white in the noon sun, it was beset with gold and many jewels: sard, agate, and amber. Said the merchant to the snake, "Many years have I toiled for the wealth I now possess. I have labored in the mud of the Niben, beset by stinging flies, and I have argued in the sweltering marketplaces that are thick with the stench of offal and incense. How have you, noble viper, amassed such wealth that now you may appear so fine and radiant?" Replied the snake, "To work for one's riches is a fool's errand. It is because I have struck without mercy, and devoured my enemies whole, assuming as such every aspect of wealth and beauty they once possessed. Heed, merchant, for this is the secret key of all who prosper."
So the merchant took the serpent's advice to heart, and with his walking stick he beat the snake to death. Then, he concealed the limp corpse beneath his robes, and carried it to a secret chamber in his villa. There he devoured it whole, from the tip of its white tail to the last sparkling smaragdos, until nothing was left. But the snake, who was in fact a cunning and evil spirit, had intended this from the start. It coiled around the merchant's core, and slowly consumed him from within, eating and eating until nothing was left of the man but his skin. The snake then walked around in this skin, causing all kinds of mischief. It ate the merchant's wife and children, and his mistress, but still it was not satisfied. It ate his books and secrets, but still the snake was not satisfied. It ate his dreams, his thoughts, his ancestral silks, until nothing was left of the poor wealthy merchant but his pitiful soul, the flickering flame of his mortality. Then, the beast ate that too.
But in the throes of blind hunger, the beast had been too greedy. Stuffed with the burning fire of mortal life, the beast became too fat for the merchant's skin, which split open and revealed its serpentine denizen. The people were witness to this, and the priests and hermits came down upon it to curse at the beast, they spat at it, and with powerful invocations and mantras chased it into the great river Niben. The river took umbrage at this foul creature, drowning it and bashing it in the strongest currents, until it was torn asunder. Some claim the man and his family emerged from the snake's belly, unharmed and newly affirmed in their reverence to the saints and spirits. Others say that nothing came forth from the beast but a mass of decay, which fell into the river and was carried away.
Beware wealth and success, when you cannot ascertain their source. The river will wash away the iniquities of evil spirits.
Tales of the Woven City II: The Great Beast
Once, there was a great tiger which the people of Horvalli revered. Emperor Gorieus heard of this, and was enraged, for to worship the tiger is forbidden, it is the greatest offense. Know that it was Aleshut who cast the tigers down from their hidden thrones in the times when all was new. The Emperor called to his side his most beloved and loyal battlemage, the Hierophant Tiro Coero, and said to him: "Discover the truth of this beast, and unmake it by your cunning and secret arts."
Tiro Coero disguised himself as a Horvalli man, with copper beads and mulberry silk. In a hako skiff he set off down the great river Niben, which is your blood and the blood of Nibennum and Aleshut. When she swells with rain, our fields are white, and when she retreats, great is the harvest of red rice. Her shallows are bountiful with fish and crab, and on her back she carries the flotilla of the merchantman. But beware her moods and currents, and guard yourself of the river serpents that are great devourers.
So Tiro Coero reached the ancestral lands of the Horvalli, which is west of the ancient and evil jungle known as Banadher, where the Korthingi mine their silver. The esteemed Hierophant exchanged his skiff for an old coutal, and astride on its back he made pilgrimage to the temple where the beast was said to lair, it was known as the Temple of Vapor Needles. What he observed there was obscene and forbidden by law: every day, the people of Horvalli would come and feed the great and evil tiger, throwing the living and the dead into his gaping maw. also, they feasted him with fine wine, red rice flavored with velvet mokre, and pomegranates. And the beast devoured it all with great relish. The people of the Horvalli would then bow to it, and declare it greatest spirit, greater even than the Emperor himself.
But Tiro Coeri, who was a cunning and sagacious master of the Hierophantine arts, devised a clever plan. He set to work on the river bank, baking pitch, hair, and fat into a man, the shape of a man, whom he animated with his battlemage secrets until it was indistinguishable from a mortal being of flesh and bone. Coero then took his creation to the Temple of Vapor Needles, and approached the tiger, saying: "Here is a fine morsel for the spirit that ever hungers." The tiger, blinded by his appetites, consumed the false man whole. The pitch and the fat then congealed, blocking the beast's inner apertures, until its belly split open and exposed its excrement. So Coero spoke to the people of Horvalli who were gathered there: "Behold the filth you revere!" And the people were amazed by his wisdom.
Do not worship the beast of the jungle, that which is made of lies and rot. The spheres of Aetherius are resplendent and free of mortal constraints.