Sunday, 21 October 2012

Long Long Ago

Many generations ago, the people living in Britain were unlike those now occupying this bountiful land, and in bygone ages, great herds of cattle were tended on rolling, green plains. Southward grew long-stemmed corn, but in those long-gone days, it was not bartered with blackbearded strangers from beyond the stormy seas.
The first folk holding this land were the Kamledis, called Wictarin in the old tongue, but these were dwellers in the North, while southward were the dark, shortlegged dwarfmen known as Oben. They were kingless and chiefless, though it was said by some that stocky-statured Kathlon was once their king. None knows who led the dwarfmen here, though men do say the land spawned them, though the land is good. They were hagridden, forest-fearing river-dwellers who painted their faces and legs, users of evilly poisoned weapons. Theirs were the grim gods of death and darkness, and at their festival times, the dwarfmen sat in sombre caves eating children as part of their evil feasting. They had no priests, only dwarfesses called Chethin, meaning raven-adopted, and there was a great one above the others, called Harada, who lived in a smoky cave called Hegrin.
They were ruled by old hagwomen, who prepared hellish brews in firechurns tended by devilish brownswaddled dwarf maidens, for they also worshipped beings dwelling in smoke. The last hagwoman queen of the Oben was Kwasir who had a cave shelter hole at Inswitan, which is the Dwarf Isle, now called Iniseug in the Western tongue. Here they worshipped the Old Yearteller, coming from afar on windfloats, the neighing windhorses of later days. The most hallowed of their rites were those celebrated before the mayflowering, when filthy things were done, for they had no shame. Here, the Children of the Dusk gathered in the month of willows to worship Mamdo and her balebrood, performing vile rites under the command of Blasis, their great mangod.
The dwarfmen, both North and South, were skinswaddled, though sometimes wearing nettlecloth clothes of black or brown, and like the cat, dove and dog they mated openly without shame. They gathered toadstools, brockberries, ivy, wayweed and other unwholesome plants, using these with evil moondew to make a maddening brew, which opened a strange door on hellish worlds. They were ruled by cowled sewds and dradwitches, and were unable to number beyond a score. There are dwarfmen still living among us in the forest depths and in caverns under the Earth, though none here has seen one. They quickly take to flight, and though fearing it, will take refuge within the forest. Sometimes a bold one will stay and will greet the wayfarer with, “Hail, man; I saw you from afar but stayed.” To which the reply must be made, “Before seeing you I was as one dead, but now life comes again.” Then, providing a gift is also given, the wayfarer remains unmolested.
From the Coelbook.