Tales from the Islands of the Sun: The Goddess of the Well

A story of the Adrall tribe:

In old times the Adrall were not bound by walls, but wandered free across the earth as the birds do in the sky. We carried with us our god, Irlrai, who was kind to us and kept famine far away, and the rumors of strangers in the east meant nothing to us. But even gods cannot guard against evil forever, and the first scouts of the Ghadari began to appear, curious to learn our tongue and our ways.

Irlrai warned us against the Ghadari, telling his bearers that the newcomers were fated to destroy the Adrall, but we saw no harm in them at first, and so we chastised Irlrai, telling him that he should not be so quarrelsome. For did the Ghadari not give us fine necklaces and garments of the wool that grew on their sheep? Were they not our friends, mighty friends who understood the nature of the world and the souls of men and women?

“Mighty friends are mighty enemies of the Adrall,” said Irlrai. “You should be wary of these strangers who do not know the gods of the land, but who force souls and plants to do their bidding. The time will come when the land spits them out and drives them into the sea again.”

Although we heard and remembered the words of Irlrai, they passed over our perceptive souls like the wind over a field, and did not change us. Our wisest men and women learned much from the Ghadari and we began to change in their image, though still we continued to follow the river like the fish, free like the birds. But we were fish and birds that were beginning to be snared in the net.

So eventually even one of Irlrai’s bearers was enticed by the gifts of the Ghadari and gave up his trust, turning to the god from across the sea. The posts of Irlrai rocked and twisted in the wind, and as they became roosts for birds we lamented these dark days and wept for our idol.

Our wise men and their wives spoke with one another, arguing about whether we should flee to the west, away from the strange folk who had brought this sorrow to us. Some said that it was the only way to preserve our tribe for generations to come, but others spoke of the grim future that we would find hunting in the hills for horses and birds, fearing the nets of our old rivals the Karaidam. In the end the oldest and wisest of the women suggested simply that we ask Irlrai what we should do.

As we approached Irlrai one of the keepers was overcome by the soul of the god and spoke in a voice that was not his own. And he said, “I have looked on the Ghadari and found many of them cruel and impious, yet others of them are mighty. I have seen the beautiful waters that hold up the islands, and the most beautiful is the river that flows under your feet. Bring her up to me, that I may touch her and take her to be my wife.”

“How?” asked the oldest and wisest of the woman. “How can we break the earth and bring forth the water?”

“The Ghadari have the power to break the earth. In this way they can make friends with Irlrai and his people.”

We heard the words of the god and knew that they were good, so we went to the Ghadari with the proposal. The priests and magicians muttered back and forth for two days before they agreed and sent forth their chief magicians with rod in their hands to strike the ground, tearing a great hole in the earth and drawing up, in a great blue torrent, the well of Adrall.

That is how Irlrai came to marry the water of the well, and we came to Adrall to live in peace and security and raise a thousand children.

How lovely stands the bride our well,
Now loosed is she to bathe and wash
And looming still in black and wood,
Our lord of sun and beast to wed.

(Note: the largely psychological/mental nature of Ghadari magic makes it unlikely to have been used in the construction of the well. This impression probably arrives from the compressed narrative and the use of the word ‘magician’ to include craftsmen of any kind.)

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