The Plains of Áánene

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DesEsseintes
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The Plains of Áánene

Post by DesEsseintes » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 18:10

The Feathered Sun

I was standing on the plain. You weren't with me, mummy. I was alone. The wind was blowing as always, and I squinted because the dust stung my eyes.

The endless plain stretched out before me. It went on forever just like it always does. My heart was beating really fast. Being there on the plain, away from camp, on my own, I felt scared.

I couldn't tell if it was day or night, but on the horizon there was a burning pink light, like at dawn, yet a hundred times brighter. Golden rays stretched across the sky like swords. They seemed to be reaching for me, wanting to take me.

Then it happened. An enormous bird rose over the horizon, and it shone brighter than a thousand suns. Its beak was pointing straight up, and many, many wings, endless wings, radiated from it in all directions. It looked like the sun, except not like the sun in the sky, mummy, but like those suns they paint so beautifully for Eþíínehoh.

I knew right away that it was the bird in the songs, the Feathered Sun. You know, the songs the witches sing during Eþíínehoh.

The wings of the Feathered Sun rapidly covered the entire sky before me. I never thought anything could be so beautiful, so immense. Then it looked at me, mummy! It lowered its head until it was looking right at me. It was like it was holding me, hugging me with its eyes. I was no longer afraid.

Suddenly, the bird gathered its thousand wings to it, then unfurled them again. It was like the þéíþıłłbınóówo flowers, the ones we made garlands from for my 6th birthday, blossoming quicker than it takes me to blink. The wings now hung down from the sky in great shimmering sheets, and that is when I saw them.

In between the golden feathers there were people! Hunter-warriors. And they were our warriors! They were riding amongst the wings, in the wings. I can't explain it.

And they were magnificent! Their brilliant orange feather crests billowed with every step taken by their haughty feathered steeds, and the tips of their long slender spears gleamed with a light of their own. Their weathered faces were proud and fearless, and they looked ahead towards the horizon, intent on some unknown destination.

And then I saw Grandfather! He was there, and my heart leapt with joy, because I thought he had come back to us and could play with me like when I was a little girl. But then I realised that these people were our departed, our ancestors who have left us to ride up into the sky to dwell forever in the Realm of the Feathered Sun. Grandfather turned his head round and smiled at me, but only for a brief instant. Then his face set again in the placid determination of a hunter-warrior riding to Eþíínehoh, his gaze fixed on the plain before him.

And now the bird seemed to be turning, and the enormous wings swept past me, one after another, across the plain.

And as each wing came roaring down from the sky, hundreds, no thousands of warriors rode down from the sky in its wake. As they reached the ground, the very earth trembled as they and their bird steeds rushed past in a thunderous maelstrom of war cries, stampeding claws, feathers and dust.

People from all the tribes of the plains were there: the Eestéweıþþtsıkóónoo, the Fonołtosítsstsınííntseheh, the Séínıłtonıhéénoo, the Onóóweınetseızellchíþþte, and countless others. Tribe after tribe rode past me and after the great Feathered Sun that now was flying away into the distance.

A lone mounted figure remained on the plain. I walked up to her, her steed towering over me. She looked down at me, and it was you, mummy! It was you! But you didn't reach out to me. You didn't dismount. You just looked at me with great sadness, such sadness that my heart bled. It was as if you wanted to tell me something, but you said nothing. Then you turned and rode away, after the bird.

Again, I was standing alone on the plain, the endless plain. You were no longer with me, mummy. The wind was still blowing as it always does, and I squinted because the tears stung my eyes.

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Last edited by DesEsseintes on Thu 08 Feb 2018, 08:47, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by Harkani » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 18:20

Fun, but somehow slightly underwhelming.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by Sights » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 19:19

Well, I for one happen to enjoy subtlety and prefer understatements to overstatements. I think that's the best way to go for any first-person narrative. So I really like the way the story hints at some details of the life of these people without telling us a whole lot. I do want to know more about them and engaging the audience is probably the most important aspect of a story. story. So... yeah [+1] [:)]

That being said, not sure if I actually understood what went on [:|]
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by elemtilas » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 20:08

Harkani wrote:Fun, but somehow slightly underwhelming.
"Underwhelming" only as narrative. There was no "story" -- but then again, there is not suppósed to be a story here, leastways as I read it. Or rather, it is but a chapter of a rather longer, rather less underwhelming epic.

I took it to be an image or a picture of a slice in time & painted with words. I could see the great Bird rise up from the horizon and its sky-spanning wings beating the hot air; could feel the thunder of its passing and sense the terror of its flight. All as clearly as if it happened right outside my garden. So definitely an A+ for the ungraphic representation! So very much like a movie poster or trailer -- a tease that depicts much without explaining anything (unless you already know the story!); that invites you to the borders of Faerie without yet unbarring the Gate.

I expect you will perhaps condescend to more narratively tell us what just happened, who it happened to and why everything is this way!? Yes?

I am put in mind of the epically grand and romantic imagery of Helguera's paintings of Aztec kings and gods.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by gestaltist » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 21:02

Des, I am so glad you took the plunge and posted the Dream. [:)]

I happen to know a little about your conworld so the story is perfectly clear to me, and I certainly have a different perspective than the other commenters. I also already told you I thought the piece was brilliant.

Guys, DesEsseintes’ conworld is amazing. Grill him with questions, force him to spill the beans.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by shimobaatar » Fri 17 Jul 2015, 22:01

I think this is a very nice way to start off the thread, "set the mood" (so to speak), and leave those who've read it interested in reading more. And I don't know what's "underwhelming" about a sunlike bird flying over you.

I have a few questions, if you don't mind. First, what is Eþíínehoh? Two of the times it's mentioned, it sounds like it could be the name of a festival or holiday, but the third time makes it sound like the name of the underworld/afterlife. Also, what is a þéíþıłłbınóówo flower? Is it comparable to a species of plant in the "real world"? Finally, who are the four tribes named near the end?
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by DesEsseintes » Sat 18 Jul 2015, 14:38

Thanks for the comments and questions. [:)]
Sights wrote:I really like the way the story hints at some details of the life of these people without telling us a whole lot. I do want to know more about them and engaging the audience is probably the most important aspect of a story.
elemtilas wrote:So very much like a movie poster or trailer -- a tease that depicts much without explaining anything (unless you already know the story!); that invites you to the borders of Faerie without yet unbarring the Gate
shimobaatar wrote:I think this is a very nice way to start off the thread, "set the mood" (so to speak), and leave those who've read it interested in reading more.

This is what I was hoping to achieve with this introductory passage. I'm glad that you saw it as such. [:D]
Sights wrote:That being said, not sure if I actually understood what went on
elemtilas wrote:I expect you will perhaps condescend to more narratively tell us what just happened, who it happened to and why everything is this way!? Yes?

The original draft of this passage ended with the sentence: "And that is when I woke up, crying." I decided to delete that sentence when I rewrote it, as I thought it would come through regardless that this is a dream or a vision. Perhaps I was wrong to do so?

As to what is happening, I cannot explain that too clearly without spoiling the "story". However, I did try to make sure that all the details in the vision are relevant to it.
shimobaatar wrote:What is Eþíínehoh?

Eþíínehoh is indeed the name of a festival. It takes place in the height of summer, and all the tribes of a given area on the plains gather for the celebrations. These include dances, rites of passage, and numerous sacrificial rites, overseen by an order of witches/female shamans.
What is a þéíþıłłbınóówo flower

Þéíþıłłbınóówo flowers are the large many-petaled flowers of certain shrubs that grow quite abundantly in some parts of the plains.

I imagine it looking similar to an Epiphyllum as can be seen in a photo here.
Who are the four tribes named near the end?

Eestéweıþþtsıkóónoo is the Hííenununóóoþa word for the tribe that speaks Project Limestone. The others I'm not so sure about.

I apologise if my answers seem short and uninformative. [:$] Hopefully, I will be able to shed more light on life on the plains soon with more stories. However, I am not a prolific writer, and this may take time.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by elemtilas » Sat 18 Jul 2015, 17:32

DesEsseintes wrote:Thanks for the comments and questions. [:)]
K. Enough niceties. Start spilling all those grilled beans! And no skimpy two bit portions either! I've shown you a lot of The World -- I'd really like to see a lot of others' worlds, too! (Not a challenge or a contest or anything -- I just want to see more of everyone elses' journeys!)
The original draft of this passage ended with the sentence: "And that is when I woke up, crying." I decided to delete that sentence when I rewrote it, as I thought it would come through regardless that this is a dream or a vision. Perhaps I was wrong to do so?
No. Taking this as something like the cover illustration on a novel or a movie poster / trailer, I don't think such a tagline would have helped at all. On the contrary, I think it might have detracted.

Me I was unsure whether this was happening in the Dreamworld or the Wakingworld -- and one thing I've learned about The World, is folks sometimes can not tell the difference. After all, if this happened in the girl's head while she was walking in the Dreamworld, does that make it any less real now in the Wakingworld? I say no, it does not.
As to what is happening, I cannot explain that too clearly without spoiling the "story".
Oh, that's okay! Spoil away! :mrgreen:
I apologise if my answers seem short and uninformative. [:$] Hopefully, I will be able to shed more light on life on the plains soon with more stories. However, I am not a prolific writer, and this may take time.
Understood! Show us what you can and as you are able.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by shimobaatar » Sat 18 Jul 2015, 17:35

elemtilas wrote:Understood! Show us what you can and as you are able.
[+1]
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by DesEsseintes » Thu 18 Feb 2016, 18:01

The Blades

The first thing he caught sight of through the sweet-smelling incense smoke were the blades. Neatly laid out on a dark red cloth, they formed a row of narrow glass shards gleaming in the dark. They looked so sharp, so eager for his blood, and he suddenly realised that he wouldn't be thinking any of these things if he didn't know what was about to take place. He could feel his skin recoiling in dread, and it was all he could do to maintain his composure before the figure kneeling in the shadows behind the blades.

He mustn't falter now.

Suppressing his trepidation, he clenched his teeth, stepped forward, knelt in front of the red cloth, and bowed with as much dignity as he could muster. He could feel her probing eyes on him, even though he couldn't even make out her face. Had she noticed his trembling hands? Would she spot the goosebumps on his arms?

"In the hallowed name of the Feathered Sun, I place myself in your hands, revered sister," he intoned, as ritual dictated, trying to sound as solemn as he could; He had practiced for days. "Verily, I am fortunate to be granted this blessing."

"You may disrobe, warrior."

He stood up and did as she said. For a moment he stood there, naked in front of her. Then he turned around, knelt down again with his back to her, and waited. He had never felt so cold, so exposed, in his life.

***

She picked up the leftmost blade and fixed her gaze on it to avoid having to look at the warrior. She ran her fingers over it as she whispered a brief incantation. She then steeled herself and with only a moment's hesitation sliced open a diagonal gash from the warrior's left shoulder to the centre of his back. She could feel his young flesh wince in pain. She picked up the second blade and mirrored the first cut on the right side of his back. Myriad pearls of sweat broke out all over the youth's back. Swallowing hard, she picked up the third blade and cut into his left side again, forming a second gash a finger's breadth below the first.

This time, a pained low groan escaped his chest. She reached out but stayed her trembling hand just before it touched his shoulder. She burned to touch him, to comfort him, to tell him it would be alright, to tell him she... But she knew she couldn't. It wasn't allowed. Instead she grasped the last blade and with a determination that threatened to shatter her soul inflicted the last cut on the quivering flesh that opened up under the sharp blade as easily as if she were slicing through ripe fruit.

She knew she must work fast now. The deep cuts were bleeding profusely. Still holding the last blade, she deftly pricked her scarred fingertips just as she had done countless times before. She spread her hands just above the surface of the blood-streaked back before her and started to chant softly as she placed her bleeding fingertips at several points along the gaping wounds.

As her blood joined with his, his body yielded itself up to her. She felt the urgent beating of his healthy young heart as it struggled in panic in its duress. She felt the tautness of his strong young muscles clenched up against the waves of searing pain coursing throughout his being. She felt the fear in his gut and entrails, and the humiliation in his groin in this injured, weakened state, stripped of pride and bravado.

She proceeded with great caution as she worked her art on the supple, young flesh now entirely under her control. She could easily destroy him, render him apart with her formidable gifts, for yes, she knew she was gifted, however much she might resent it. But no. She mustn't drain him unduly; The last thing she wanted was to harm him.

The cuts were healing already, and she could feel the pain subsiding in the young warrior. A few more final touches, and her work was complete. With a whispered command, she severed the bond between them and sat back breathing hard.

The young warrior stood up, his eyes wide in wonder, the agony, fear and humiliation of a few moments earlier wiped clean from his mind. He examined his body, its newfound strength and vigour, the enhanced precision of its movements. His skin radiated health as it lay taut over his bigger muscles. A delighted laugh escaped his lips, although he quickly corrected himself.

Having overcome the euphoria of his transformation, he recomposed himself, held his hands up in a sign of thanks, then dressed and made his exit out into the sunlight.

Again she was alone.

The blood-covered blades lay in front of her. She picked one up and ran her finger along it, blood gathering on her fingertip. She brought her hand to her mouth. The sharp, salty taste of the drying blood startled her tongue. She savoured it, exploring its cloyingly raw flavour as it stuck to her gums and teeth. It was his blood, and it was all she would ever have of him.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by elemtilas » Thu 18 Feb 2016, 18:10

DesEsseintes wrote:The first thing he caught sight of through the sweet-smelling incense smoke...
Gosh, that only took seven months and a day to get this next installment! Talk about a tease!

More later...
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by gestaltist » Thu 18 Feb 2016, 19:47

Truly delicious, Des. You have exceeded my expectations. I loved every bit of it.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by Ahzoh » Thu 18 Feb 2016, 20:41

You succeeded in the tactic of incluing.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by Thrice Xandvii » Thu 18 Feb 2016, 23:29

Ahzoh wrote:You succeeded in the tactic of incluing.
TIL a new word!

Also, I have to agree. Skillfully done!
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by DesEsseintes » Sat 20 Feb 2016, 12:49

Thanks for your comments, elemtilas, gestaltist, Ahzoh and Thrice.
gestaltist wrote:Truly delicious, Des. You have exceeded my expectations. I loved every bit of it.
That just made my day. [<3]
Ahzoh wrote:You succeeded in the tactic of incluing.
37 wrote:Skillfully done!
[:)] I appreciate that, because I have little confidence in my writing skills.

Hopefully, it won't take me 7 months to write the next instalment.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by DesEsseintes » Thu 25 Aug 2016, 14:08

The Wísoewe

They say the wísoewe never forget.

I sometimes see them when we are out on the plains, just me and Néıw’no. They soar high above the plains, aloof and majestic. I envy them their airy domain, their proximity to the sun, their mastery of the winds. Sometimes I just spot one or two; sometimes ten or more. They say the wísoewe have their families, bands, and tribes, just as we do.

I only once ever saw one up close. I came upon the bird standing alone in the middle of the plain. It didn't move as I rode up and made Néıw’no stop a couple dozen paces off and then dismounted. The wíso just watched us calmly, tall and majestic, its eyes large and deep, and I suddenly had the idea that the bird must be very old. Yet its feathers were still the brilliant colour of wísoewe feathers, the colour of glowing embers. I studied its heavy beak and powerful talons that could undoubtedly tear me apart. Yet I didn't feel afraid. There was curiosity and wisdom in its gaze, not hostility.

I was still spellbound by the sight of the bird when it reared its head and cawed - the characteristic trilling call of the wísoewe. It then lowered its head and clawed at the ground with its talons, emitting a playful trill and looking at me intently. Suddenly, for a split second, something in the grass reflected the rays of the sun. There was something there! The massive bird then unfurled its great wings and took flight. I quickly grabbed Néıw’no's reins and ruffled his feathers because I was afraid he would panic at the powerful beating of the wíso's wings.

As the wíso vanished up into the sky, I went over and picked up the object in the grass. For a second my mind failed to fathom what it was that I was holding, but I then saw it for what it was. It was a finger bone. A person's finger bone. A metal ring still clung to it, engraved with an unfamiliar symbol.

To this day, it haunts me. I kept the finger bone and the ring. Sometimes I take them out, look at them, and wonder. Who died out there on the plain? How did the wíso know? Why did it want me to know? I guess I will never know the answers.

The elders tell us the wísoewe are sacred. In spring we gather their beautiful feathers to prepare for Eþíínehoh. It is indeed a magnificent sight to see our warriors ride to Eþíínehoh decked out in the brilliant orange feathers. The feathers betoken our fealty to the Sun, and to the Sisters who serve Him.

Harming a wíso is said to incur the wrath of the Feathered Sun.

Not long before I was born, a young man among the Íwehtéíþto killed a fledgling wíso by accident. Mistaking it for a rhea, he quickly drew the bow and felled the bird with his arrow. The elders were highly displeased and berated the young hunter severely. His pregnant wife, upon learning of this bad omen, cried for weeks, convinced that her child would be cursed, born malformed, or worse.

The child, a boy, came into the world healthy and strong. They named him Tsınıntéwo.

Two Eþíínehoh passed and the incident had largely passed from people's memory. One chilly spring morning, Tsınıntéwo's mother went down to the stream to fetch water with her boy in tow. As she bent over to fill the skins, a shadow fell on her. By the time she turned around at the sound of her son's startled cry, the wíso was already a hundred paces away, flying off with the terrified child in its powerful talons.

The witches forbade any mourning ceremony for the lost child. They said it was just punishment for the killing of the sacred bird years earlier. Tsınıntéwo's father was no longer allowed to hunt. Demoted to nééwelben, he passed his days making arrows and weaving with the old women.

My mother told me Tsınıntéwo's mother was never quite well after that. She would stray away from camp on her own; sometimes the hunters would need to go out looking for her. Perhaps she knew something? Perhaps the wísoewe were calling her, beckoning her?

Another two Eþíínehoh passed before the summons came. Tsınıntéwo's mother had again eluded the vigilance of her band, and this time she had ridden far out onto the plains. Apparently that is when a wíso landed before her. Gazing at her intently, the bird let out a low trill, then took wing and landed again several hundred paces before her. She followed.

The bird led her into the hills above the western grey wastes. Higher and higher she climbed, ignoring her bleeding feet and blistering skin, what little remained of her mind intent only on following the bird that took her child. Far above the plain she came to an eyrie. A dozen wísoewe stood before her in a circle, watching her. In their midst, on the ground, sat Tsınıntéwo playing with sticks and babbling to himself happily. The child looked at his mother quizzically as she ran to him and gathered him in her trembling arms. That very instant, the wísoewe erupted in a terrible cacophony of cawing and shrieking and took flight from the eyrie, and went on to circle high above as the woman fled down the hill with her son, all the while letting out piercing cries of sorrow.

The strain of the experience proved too great for Tsınıntéwo's mother. Her body and mind broken, she spent the few weeks remaining to her in the family tepee humming gently to her recovered son. I do not know whether Tsınıntéwo understood that she was his mother, for he was unable to talk for years after his return, but my mother told me he remained by her side until she died.

Tsınıntéwo and I are friends now. We trained together. We were initiated together. He is a competent rider and hunter. He doesn't like to talk much, perhaps because he speaks a bit funny and says things in ways other people don't. I like him. Perhaps I like him too much. We both prefer the solitude of the plains to the rowdiness of camp. In this respect at least, we understand each other.

Tsınıntéwo never speaks of his time with the wísoewe. He says he doesn't remember. That he was too little. But I don't believe him, for when we are out riding on the plains and we spot the brilliantly coloured wísoewe soaring high, weaving their dance of wind and wing far up above, I can see him watching them. We stop. We don't move. Everything else fades into the background. He watches the birds and I watch him, studying that look of longing that appears in his eyes. He looks sad and forsaken, as if I were no longer there with him, as if he no longer longed to be part of this world, our world. He looks beautiful, but cut away from me, for I know that in his mind he is up there, in the boundless realms of the sky, with them.

When the birds are gone, we ride off again, he lost in his thoughts and I lost in mine.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by gestaltist » Thu 25 Aug 2016, 14:11

Loved the story!
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by alynnidalar » Thu 25 Aug 2016, 14:18

[+1]

That was extremely enjoyable.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by gestaltist » Fri 26 Aug 2016, 09:19

DesEsseintes wrote: Hopefully, it won't take me 7 months to write the next instalment.
Took you only 4.
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Re: The Plains of Áánene

Post by Frislander » Fri 26 Aug 2016, 10:35

Love the stories on the thread so far!
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