This work is featured fiction.

In the waning years of Man, the father of all his kind, there lived a certain one of his children named Vaela. Now Vaela was not a son of Man directly but through many generations, for in those days men lived much longer than they do now.

Vaela was a blacksmith by trade, but a bard in his heart. He often sang and played his lute at night, musing on songs of warmth and light, even as the world grew cold. Vaela was a man of The One and oft would he seek his face.

All of Soyl was filled with violence in those days. The mischief of Revelle plagued the world, and no end was there in sight. Yet the Rascal worked not alone...

High above in the peaks of the mountains dwelled great spirits of ancient times before the world was prepared for Man. These spirits had assigned to them the task of overseeing the airs as lords and guardians of mid-heaven. Enticed by the Rascal in counsels unseen, save but to The One, some of the spirits forsook their dwelling places and descended into the valleys.

Long lusting after the delicate daughters of men, these mountain spirits forceably fornicated with them in dark pits of perversion. The result was a terrible sin against natural order. Powerful beastly men, if men they could be called, tore their way through their mothers' loins.

Thus the fellers, as they would later be called, were painfully born into the already too cruel world. Their jaws were long like dogs, with teeth as sharp as fangs. Their ears were pointed back, their hearing sharp the same. Tall and fearsome, even with their bent beast posture, they stood higher and wider than all the sons of men.

The nights were filled with fear in those dreadful days. Werewolves and dragons, along with their dwarven slaves, would wage war against unwary men in the gloom of deadly darkness. And evil men, in league with the dark, would use the cloak of night to their own cruel endeavors.

Soon all the world was at its own throat, man against man, and beast against beast. Lacking in natural affection, they were misled by selfish longing. Malice and cruelty was the rule of the day, and Revelle was its dark ruler.

Meanwhile, the fays remained relatively safe in the eternal forests. In those days, the forests were still in the realm of men, along the western shores of what is now called Kinmonia. While men would not approach these woods, fouler creatures had no such curse of enmity to withold them from their evil endeavors...

Thus it was that the werewolves and the slavodrac started to leave their dark caves and venture into the fey forests. The terrible violence thus touched even the apple of The One's eye and He would tolerate it no longer.

The One thus put a call forth from The One. The celestial choir answered the call and journeyed across the great heavenly road to the temple of all present light. There all the host of heaven came before the throne of The One.

"Why is it I have made Soyl? For look how she pains me so!" The One called out to the choir, and all attention was turned to the face of the world where the shadow grew.

It was then that Revelle came forth from the throng and laughed in delight. "And now what will you do, oh great Lord? Will you end your pain and mine? Will you close the book of time?"

The One then said to Revelle, "Have you considered my friend Vaela? There is no one on Soyl like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears us and shuns the shadow."

"Ha! Does Vaela fear The One for nothing?" Revelle replied. "Have you not blessed the work of his hands and given him peace? Were this man to face real peril, he would quickly come to see the wisdom of my ways. He would no longer seek your face, but spit in it and curse you."

The One gazed toward Revelle, and the shadow shuddered at the light. "Vaela shall face real peril. He shall face the end of the world itself and come safely through. All of his land shall be swallowed by the sea, and none shall survive save he and his own."

The Rascal marveled at The One's words and in his creeping cowardice he quaked. Attempting to hide his fear, Revelle spoke out once more. "Is that all? The sea is my domain, and so I know it well. And yet I know of stronger powers in this wretched world of yours. The calling fire falls quicker than any rain, and it tears through earth swifter than any stream. It stole my beauties away, and I shall see that it steal away your precious man just the same."

"My servant Vaela shall be tested with both fire and water. We have ordained it. He shall descend the depths of your dragging serpents' lair. The most precious of your beasts Vaela shall face. Your dreadful 'beauty' shall fall before Vaela's feet and nip at his heels. In the end my faithful servant shall smite his head."

With that the assembly was dispersed and Revelle left the presence of The One to creep amongst the dark places of the world. Meanwhile The One sent forth his name.

In the middle of the night, while Vaela was fast asleep, The One appeared to Vaela and stood before his bed and called out, "Vaela! Vaela!"

Quickly awakening, Vaela said, "Here I am. Speak, for your servant is listening."

And The One said to Vaela, "Behold, I am about to do something astounding: something terrible and wonderful. I am going to put an end to this wretched world, for the land is filled with shadow and corruption. But I shall make a new world, and you shall be its father."

Vaela was astounded. When he came to his senses, now standing before The One he inquired, "When will these things be? And how will you bring them about?"

"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Old has put in his own power. But you will recieve power when the Light comes upon you. He will lead you where you must go."

When The One had finished speaking with Vaela, he left, and Vaela returned to sleep. The One continued to appear there in the land of Loshyai-hemshiah, and there he revealed himself to Vaela through his name. There for several days the two spoke long and often. If everything there said were written down, no single scroll could hold the words contained therein.

As promised, the Light of The One came when it was time. One day when Vaela was out in the woods collecting kindling for the fires of his kiln, he saw in the distance a ball of light not unlike a will-o'-the-wisp hovering, as it were, over a bog yards away.

He approached the light with caution, keeping close in mind the possible peril. As he drew closer, however, the light grew only brighter and shined amongst the bushes though it was day. Suddenly, a voice called out from the midst of the light...

"Be not afraid. I am no spirit of deception, but I am a spirit of truth; that is what I am."

The voice was strangely familiar, and Vaela felt great joy and awe in the presence of the light. As he listened to its words, he heard them not so much from without, but within. Swelling from his heart, they rushed to his head and rang in his ears.

The One thus guided Vaela for many days north from his land to the barren plains. He then led him for forty days and forty nights through that land of empty fields and dusty winds. Vaela suffered not those days, for his hunger was abated in that time by the light, and his thirst was quenched by a constant mist.

Finally, Vaela came west to the edge of the eternal forests. There was a river; Yar'don it would later be called. Having reached its glowing waters, the Light departed from Vaela.

"And here you come to the edge of destiny," The Light said. "I will now depart for later times. Fear not, however, for my voice shall remain within." With that He went away to shine in the darker mists of future times.

Vaela then fell fast asleep beneath the stars, drifting into a deep slumber of quiet serenity. The grass was warm, the forest was tranquil, and the water quieted his fear with its light. Trusting his safety, his sleep was long and sound.

When he awoke Vaela rose to see a truly astonishing sight. A glorious figure like that of a woman was coming toward him from across the river. She floated above its waters delicately, like the pedals of a rose, but yet her feet never touched its surface.

When she came to shore, her feet touched earth and she walked toward him solemnly. Her countenance shone brilliantly, and she strolled with an air of confidence, yet within her eyes was a well of sorrows upon which no man could bear to look. Vaela immediately bowed his head and bent his knee as she approached.

"Rise, oh son of man," she commanded with gentle nobility.

"My lady," he replied, "you must certainly be blessed with such power and glory for you to cross this river so. I am not fit to stand in your presence."

"I am not blessed, but cursed," she explained, "for ever since I crossed this river my fate has been bound to it."

At that, Vaela lifted his eyes and beheld her beauty. It was then that he noticed her doe shaped ears, the fey twinkle in her eyes, and the radiance within her very skin. This was no woman, but rather a she-fay.

Staring in awe, Vaela rose to his feet and the she-fay continued, "I come hence to thee by The One as messenger. All the power of this river has been invested in me, and by that authority I grant thee consent to take of its waters with liberty."

"I thank you for your most generous offer m'lady, and I shall remember it when thirst comes upon me."

"That is not all I have to say, oh son of man. The One hast spoken unto me a message to give henceforth to thee. Thou shalt take unto thee three vials from this river. Two shall sustain thee as thou journey hence to home. One thou shalt use to craft a mighty sword. With thy sword thou shalt travel yonder to the valley of Shellow, yea, to the very dungeon of Sedah. There thou shalt smote the great dragon Harmatia with thy mighty blade."

Vaela stood in awe at her words. He could give no reply other than a nod. After a proper exchange of parting the she-fay left back across the river as Vaela looked on in quiet wonder.

As he was commanded, Vaela did just so. With the three vials he departed from the forests, albeit not without reluctance. Long would he stay in those majestic woods, if the choice were his alone, but something stirring inside pushed him forward.

For many days and nights across the plains, Vaela endured. His hunger was abated by the few supplies he had managed to gather in the rich forests bordering the river. His thirst was fully quenched with every drop from the vials. He used no more nor less than that which he was given; he did just so.

When Vaela arrived back at his home, he was greeted warmly by his twelve sons and their wives. He then related to his family over several days what had transpired in his long sojourn. His family was astounded at all that had occurred, but their joy was not to remain long.

He told his sons that they were to accompany him east to the valley of Shellow. First, of course, he was to forge the blade with which he was to slay Harmatia. Once he was done, however, he was to be off at once.

With that, Vaela set to work in his forge. He called his sons together and they helped in the construction of great bellows like had never been seen before. He was not to forge his blade out of copper or bronze, but The Light had told him many days before to gather together iron. With the iron he was to make a blade of steel, the first of its kind.

Once the forge was complete, Vaela worked long on forging his blade. First his blade was too brittle and shattered to pieces as soon as it cooled. He melted down the shards and tried again, but the blade was then too soft. The third time his mind was then called back to the vial of water. He decided to cast it into the furnace with the iron. When he did, he noticed that the water did not turn to steam, but rather remained as it was, as though it were quicksilver.

When Vaela drew forth the blade from the stone cast, he found it magnificent to behold. It seemed to glimmer in the dark and shine from within. The water had seemingly merged with the blade, with patterns of ripples though the blade was smooth to the touch.

The blade now cast, Vaela assembled his sons together and they journeyed east. Through treacherous swamps and barren fields they traveled into the very land of shadow and ash. As the sky grew dark, their hopes dimmed, but Vaela pressed on, even as his sons grew wary.

Finally they came to the edge of the valley of Shellow. Draped in silent darkness, the jagged walls of the valley grew from the ground as foreboding monoliths of quiet doom. Vaela's sons quaked at the sight of the ancient valley.

"I am going where you can not follow," Vaela explained to his sons. With that he left his sons alone, as he made his way into the very heart of darkness.

Several days passed, while the twelve young men awaited Vaela's return. Creeping sounds encroached upon their camp during the pitch black of night. Finally, on one rare bright night, the sound reached the very edge of the camp and long dark shadows passed over in an icy wind. A loud unhuman screech, like the crowing of a dying bird, ringed through the men's ears.

Dazed and confused, as though bewitched by an evil spell, Vaela's sons left the camp and scattered into the night. Meanwhile, Vaela continued his long trek through the dead valley of shadow that was Shellow. In that long wide corridor of darkness, his shining sword was his only light as he pressed forward.

Vaela came to the mouth of a large dark cavern at the end of the valley. Although he had never set foot in the dead lands before, he immediately knew this was none other than the entrance to the dungeon of Sedah. He looked long into that void before he resolved himself to enter.

As he descended deeper and deeper into the cavern, he started to notice a dim light in the distance. As he drew closer, he realized the light was shining from the nearby river of fire.

Suddenly without notice, Vaela was then ambushed by a group of slavodrac. The dwarves lunged at him with ferocity, and he fought back with all his might. The group's overseer whipped Vaela with his scourge, while the others came at him with their axes. Vaela swung his blade swiftly and powerfully and, in time, slew them all. But he was not without injury...

The flesh upon his back was torn nearly to shreds, and his face was severely beaten, when the battle was through. Vaela knew he must continue, however. He strapped his large sword to his terribly sore back and slowly made his way deeper into the dungeon.

The weight of the sword was almost too much to bear, and he nearly toppled over as he marched forward in pain. Every step forward felt like nails being driven through his tired trembling feet. With the light of his sword behind him, he had to feel his way along the wall, tearing his hands on the jagged surface.

Finally, he came to a large cavernous room. Within was the great dragon Harmatia. His dark red scales shimmered in the dim light of the great lake of fire that burned behind.

"So this is the servant of whom was whispered... Or have my shadows been deceived?"

"I know not what the shadows speak, but I am a servant; that much is true. I am Vaela, servant of The One; and I have come to slay you."

"Have you no idea the foe you face?"

"I know enough, dread serpent. You shall be slain. It has been ordained."

The dragon then raised its head tall and erect, its eyes beaming down from the tower of its long neck ascending to the very ceiling. As it chuckled deeply, its laugh boomed throughout the cavern, rumbling as though the walls themselves were cackling. Vaela's heart nearly lept out of his chest, but he stood his ground and gulped down his fear.

"I am Lord Harmatia, servant of Leviathan the Great. As I await my master's return, I have been appointed steward of his mighty realm; and I have expanded it wide and far. No son of man can oppose me, even if he is a servant of the dreaded One. Though heaven itself may oppose my reign, there is no heaven here to be seen. And even shall The One Himself descend unto this place, I will fight against Him all the same, His very Name I'll face."

Suddenly words stirred inside Vaela, and he called out to the dragon with confidence and power, "The Name is with me, though He left, for He hast sent His Light! And that One has born witness to me; through me The One will fight!"

With that, the great dragon Harmatia grew wrathful at Vaela's words. He drew back onto his hind legs and let out a deafening roar, both at once a piercing shriek and a thundering rumble. Doom was in its voice and Vaela knew his death was certain if he did not act quickly.

As the dragon reared back in its wrath, it exposed its vulnerable underbelly and Vaela knew at once what he must do. He pulled forth his mighty blade and lunged forth at once with all his might. He leapt nearly the height of a man, and pierced the heart of the beast firmly and deeply.

Harmatia looked down at his demise and roared all the more in pain and anger. As it writhed about in defeat, each pump of its heart poured blood like a fountain from its gaping wound, covering Vaela from head to toe in the fluid of its life. Vaela dangled in the air, gripping his sword tightly, as the beast whirled about in the throes of death.

Finally satisfied, Vaela withdrew his blade and fell to the ground and looked on as the beast collapsed to the floor. The beast was not dead yet, however. With its final breath Harmatia burst forth a cloud of flame that filled the entire cavern with its menacing fire.

When the blast was over, Vaela opened his eyes and beheld he was unscathed. The blood of the beast had spared his life from the flames. He felt it then heal his wounds and strengthen his weary limbs.

It was then that The Name appeared to him in a blinding flash of Light. Vaela fell to his knees and worshipped Him.

"You have done well, my faithful servant. You are truly a child of The One, and your sufferings have been ordained as a sign of that which is to come," The One explained, "But now you must endure a little longer, for the end has not yet come."

"Now what would you have me do, oh great Lord?" Vaela asked.

Pointing to the dead dragon, The One told Vaela "You must take this husk and glorify it. Fashion it into a boat, for behold, a flood is coming, one like none the world has ever seen before, nor shall ever see again. And Soyl shall thus be cleansed. We have ordained it."

In utter awe, Vaela simply nodded, and The One then departed.

Vaela at once grabbed the corpse of the great beast by its tail and dragged with all his might. No such feat of strength had ever been performed, nor has such ever been done again. His limbs empowered by the blood, Vaela marched forward from the depths of the dungeon to the surface of the valley of shadow. From there he continued unceasingly to the edge of Shellow.

The wives of Vaela's sons were out looking for their husbands when they caught sight of Vaela dragging the great beast. They could scarcely believe their eyes, but believe they felt they must, for here he was before them. The women thus ran to their husbands and told them of what they saw.

When the men heard what the women were saying they would not believe it, and felt for sure their wives had grown hysterical. Their doubts vanished when they saw their father in the distance dragging the serpent as the women described.

With tears in their eyes the men and their wives ran to Vaela shouting and leaping for joy. Their father was alive and clearly triumphant. Vaela's children took turns embracing him as they all excitingly chattered at him with a cacophony of voices.

After they had all exchanged news with one another, Vaela and his family set to work at once on the corpse. They worked for three days turning the great beast into a vessel. On the third day, as soon as they finished, the flood began.

On the third day the neck of the great valley of men was broken by the arm of The One, as the very world was bent. As He refashioned the world, He drew up the forests of the fays to preserve them from His wrath. They were thus taken up from the realm of men to remain separate until the end times.

As the waters rushed in through the strait of Herokles, the sky was darkened as rain fell from the heavens. All the while, Vaela and his family waited inside the belly of the beast as it was lifted up from the earth by the waters.

For three days and three nights the rain fell as the dragon boat was carried south. At the beginning of the fourth day, Vaela emerged from the bowels of his vessel and looked out upon the raging sea.

At midday the rain ceased and following the fourth day, the waters receded for three more days. On the seventh day, Vaela's vessel came to rest on the shores of Naykin.

In the morning, Vaela and his family came out and beheld the land which they had never seen before. The land was rich with verdant fields and fruitful forests. Above were milky white clouds. Below flowed golden streams that glimmered like honey in the morning light.

And so Vaela and his family built a new world. His twelve sons and their twelve wives had untold scores of children. Thus they became the twenty-four archons of the ancients from which all men came, and upon which the world was founded.

Vaela lived a great wealth of years. He saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. He remained The One's faithful servant all of his days on Soyl. And so, when he died, his sons set his body in the dragon vessel and pushed it out to sea. It passed through the strait of Herokles and came to rest in E'davlan where the fays buried him with great honor.

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