Tales from the Islands of the Sun: Slayer of Peace

A story of the Terr’eil tribe:
There once was a boy who was born lame, and the chief man of the tribe decreed that he be left to die. “The child will not be able to help in the hunt,” he said, “unless he be used as bait for the griffin.” But the mother and father of the boy protested, so that the chief was overruled. “No good will come of this,” he warned, and named the boy Slayer of Peace.

Slayer of Peace grew and grew in the following years, until he was taller than anyone else in the tribe – lying down. Standing up he was bent by his deformity, and his companions all mocked him, calling him Slain by Peace. Slayer of Peace did nothing in response – but he remembered those who called him names. And in the hunt he did nothing.

Then it happened that a dark cloud appeared in the east and began to grow, blotting out the stars and the moon. Even the sun was terrified and hid its face. The animals all began to lose strength and perish, the hunters counted themselves among the accursed, and no children were born with the Black Stone on their foreheads. There was no hope for our people, and the chief man covered his face in ash.

Then Slayer of Peace rose up – his eyes flashed as lightning struck behind him – and said loudly, “This evil has come because we have not given proper worship to the powers of the sky. We have offended the sun and the air with our negligence, and we must appease them before we die.”

“Then what can we do?” asked the chief man. “What do we know about the powers of the sky?”

“I will tell you,” said Slayer of Peace. “I will tell you and you will do as I say, or perish. Take what horses you can catch and kill them, dedicating them to the sun, moon, and stars.”

“This Slain by Peace would have us worship the gods of the Ghadari,” said one man. “It would be better to die then become like them, with their hard houses and their unnatural magic. We are the people of the islands, the true people, but they are phantasms.” It was Little Eye, who had for many years been an enemy of Slayer of Peace.

“You may wish to die,” said Slayer of Peace, “but I wish to live.”

“Even if it means handing over your very soul as one of the true people?” Little Eye asked.

“Yes, for otherwise we die,” said Slayer of Peace.

“Then go and live apart from us,” said Little Eye, and no one spoke against him, not even the chief man. So Slayer of Peace was banished from the tribe to make his own way through the island, and all the Terr’eil forgot that he was of one blood with them. And he wandered alone over hill and river until he came to a land in the east where the trees dripped light as sap from their veins. The people he met spoke of a plague of crows that ate all the berries from the bushes and killed horses by eating their eyes, and the crows followed a woman who ran naked through the trees, her long black hair like wings behind her back.

“No one may approach her,” he was told, “for she knows no speech but that of the birds.”

But Slayer of Peace could not be daunted by anything in earth or sea, so he went out to find this woman to see if what was said about her was true. He crossed two rivers and climbed two hills and at last he saw her in the distance, wild and surrounded by crows. He called to her, and she ran.

With his lame leg Slayer of Peace could not hope to catch up with her, but his perceiving soul suddenly became aware of her name, and he called again, this time saying “Arannattattattell!”

A hundred crows flew at him, pecking his face and arms and legs, but he did not shrink back. The sky was dark with the flock, but he did not hesitate to approach the woman and take her in his arms. And they loved one another. Two children they had, a son named Bright Swords and a daughter named Fruitful.

After some time Slayer of Peace heard that in Terr’eil a sorcerer had killed the chief men and made himself lord of the tribe. Immediately his inmost soul flared with anger and, taking Bright Swords and Fruitful with him, he returned to his old home and cried out, saying, “Slayer of Peace is here. Who will welcome him back to his family?”

“Slain by Peace is no longer one of us,” said Little Eye. “Slain by Peace is a stranger, and strangers are put into the hands of the Inward Sage.” For the sorcerer was one of those who seek their salvation within themselves, rather than from family and tribe.

“Bring us to the Inward Sage, then,” said Slayer of Peace. “Let him deal with us, if he can.”

So it was that Slayer of Peace and his children stood before the sorcerer, with his coils of rope and bronze staff. He pounded this staff into the ground and from the nearby river serpents began to crawl, serpents of many colors that moved towards Slayer of Peace and showed their fangs. Bright Swords jumped into the air and with his hands seized the snakes, killing them with the might of his grip.

Now the sorcerer gathered his souls together and began to say a spell to destroy Slayer of Peace, but Fruitful held aloft an ear of wheat and the spell fell back on itself, crushing the sorcerer to the ground. Slayer of Peace stepped up to the sorcerer and, wresting the staff from his grasp, drove it into the sorcerer’s head, shattering his skull.

“I am your new lord,” he declared. “Obey me and I will protect you from famine and the sorcery of the Ghadari. Disobey me and I will destroy you as I did this deceiver.”

So the Terr’eil knelt to him, and so they have ever since.

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