"In the Beginning..."
The last post I made pointed out that I needed a creation story for the world of Claws of the Chimera. Here it is!
“Come close, Aldo, and I will tell you a tale.”
The boy stood and walked over to where his mother sat. He nestled in the lap of her long embroidered dress, against the smoothness of her pregnant belly, and looked up into eyes that sparkled in the firelight. “What sort of tale?”
Her lips bent into a small smile. “The first tale, my sweet. How the world was made.”
Aldo closed his eyes, fingers wrapped around a lock of her dark hair, twining it over and over around his fingers, as she began.
In the beginning, the world was lifeless. A dusty ball floating in a blank firmament. No stars shone above. No sun. No life, except the Chimera. It moved through the darkness, searching for a place to rest, and when it came upon the earth it saw potential. The Chimera circled the world, wrapping its body around the globe as a mother hen warms her egg, and where the Chimera’s body touched the ground, life sprang up. Where its scales rubbed against the soil, some sloughed off as a snake sheds its skin. Rocks formed, becoming mountains as solid as time. Where fur fell from its hide, trees and grasses sprang up, bringing life to the void. Where its claws dug in as it held on, deep fissures were pierced into the ground from which water sprang, filling the rivers and oceans. Its feathers drifted down to become breezes and gales, gracing the land as lightly as a feather brushes your face.
Now, there was another in the void, for just as light has darkness, all forces have an equal. The Other was Seofen, the seven-headed dragon. He watched the Chimera, and for a while he thought to copy its work. He wrapped himself around a lifeless world, but where the Chimera had boundless variety, Seofen had only scales. Only shining rocks could he summon, not life, and he grew jealous. He watched the Chimera create aspects of itself all over the world, tiny pieces of its spirit, and servants that walked and talked and could care for its creation, and Seofen’s fourteen eyes narrowed in fury.
The Chimera, satisfied with its toil, stepped back to look, and at that moment Seofen struck. All seven of his heads surged forward, spitting vile yellow poison down onto the earth. The Chimera’s servants wailed as the poison engulfed them, clouds of death that roiled and burned.
But the Chimera, in its everlasting wisdom, did not abandon us. It breathed on the world, and its breath pushed the poison into the ground, where it became one with the stone - what we know today as yellowdust. And it showed its servants how to change that dust, so that it would not be harmful. By feeding the dust to animals, enabling them to grow in mind and body, we would allow the spark of the Chimera’s power inside them to be freed, eventually rejoining the host.
When the Chimera had finished repairing as much of the damage as it could, its eyes turned to Seofen. Seeing the Chimera’s anger, Seofen was afraid. He cowered on his dry and dusty world. The Chimera began to chase Seofen, an eternal hunt. Eternal, for when the dragon had been chased away, the Chimera returned to us to collect the fragments of its being, those uplifted animal souls. And eternal, for Seofen crept slowly back, ever hoping to ruin more of the Chimera’s creation.
“And that is how the world came to be,” Aldo’s mother said.
The boy was silent for a moment. How could it possibly be true, he thought.
“I’m sure you’re wondering, where is the proof,” his mother said, and he stared at her, eyes wide. “Ah, my son, the things that mothers know.” She smiled, pointed up at the night sky.
“See, my son, the moon. Seofen’s world, that goes further away from ours each night, getting smaller as it does. And the sun, which chases it across the sky. When the moon is dark, and Seofen cannot see, that is when the souls of the uplifted animals rejoin the Chimera’s host, strengthening him for the Hunt Eternal. But of course, the moon grows larger as Seofen creeps back, and so the cycle continues.”
“Another of your stories?”
Aldo jumped as his father’s voice snapped out, as he felt his mother tense slightly under him.
“What of it, Benedict? He should know his heritage, and the beliefs of his people.”
Aldo slid out of his mother’s lap. Perhaps if he wasn’t near Mother, Father wouldn’t be cross with her.
“He is the son of a Duke. My heir,” Father said. “He has more important things to consider. He doesn’t need to understand the beliefs of the people. Merely lead them.” He moved to the drinks cabinet, taking out a bottle of the amber liquid that had tasted so bitter in a stolen mouthful. As Mother struggled to her feet, Aldo moved to help her, but she shook her head. He stopped, caught between fleeing and the consequences that would bring.
“That’s your problem, Benedict,” Mother said. “You don’t understand the people. You don’t understand me. Sometimes I barely think you understand yourself, and that’s why you will fail in the end.”
There was silence, the room a horribly frozen tableau, Father’s face slowly growing more red, and Aldo could stand it no more. His footsteps echoed in the stone corridor, drowning out everything behind him as he ran.