Monday, November 4, 2019

All Thrones Were Trees And Stones

The world was not merely in flux after the Flood, it was flux. Just as the celestial fire of the stars is to earthly fire as the tyrannosaurus rex is to the domestic chicken, so too were the celestial waters that fell from the opened firmament beyond earthly water. Where the latter might make ink run from a page, the former warped and mingled everything. Not simply matter, but space, time, boundaries, minds, everything.

Little survived, and even less survived intact.

The ancestors of humanity found shelter beneath the boughs of the axis mundi (as in those days it still stood strong), while the powers of the earth slept beneath the muck like toads over winter. It was these powers, emerging from their hibernacula* after the worst had passed, who first settled the changed and changing world.

To do this they needed something more solid than solid. The powers invested a portion of their being to create groves and standing stones, sacred trees and holy mountains. If the post-Flood world were a blanket shaking in the breeze, these sites would be like weights fixing it in place, creating an island of stability in the chaos that reflected the character of its maker. The makers too were fixed in the process, differentiating from nebulous powers to dryad, oread, naiad, and so on.

The world was reborn, piece by piece, and what came about was wild and unkind. When humans left the safety of their shade (or the garden they desecrated, depending on who you ask), they were made to fear and worship, mere beasts among beasts, not even close to the most ferocious. This sat poorly with many. They whispered of usurpation, and from the heavens something whispered back.

Iron was sent down by the stars, their end of a bargain struck. With iron arms and armour humanity rebelled, and the rebellion went gloriously. Spirits were cut down before them like stalks before a scythe. But glory turned sour. Without their makers, the anchors dissolved away, and lands that were before only savage were overcome by the truly monstrous.

A solution was found in desperation. If an anchor were hewn and bound by iron, the groves chopped down, the stones carved, something new could be made, something commanded by human will instead of a spirit's whim: a throne. Within the territory ordered by the thrones nature's reddest teeth and claws could be barred, and agrarian civilization could rise again. Once more the dominion of humanity expanded. Even with the thrones at its back, this push was less successful than the last. The powers of the earth had time and knowledge to fortify their domains. Each step taken into the woods and the hills was harder fought. With the passing of years the boundaries between the wild and the civilized became starker**.

Within civilization boundaries of a less severe sort were drawn as well. Thrones retained something of the character of their maker, granted in turn to the whole of their kingdom.

Some among the thrones are:

The throne of Whichway, a pillowy bed of a thing molded from a storm-hag's cloud. Like the substance of its throne the kingdom of Whichway isn't bound to any one place. It wanders at the behest of its queen, appearing and disappearing in sudden curtains of fog.

The throne of the Republic of Beards, upon which the men of the city swear whenever they become men, which enforces oaths and honour.

The throne of Tira, carved from the lower jaw of the dragon Dog-of-Mammon, who commits atrocities in pursuit of its return to this day. To the lands of Tira it lends deliciousness, and a particular malleability to those it feeds beloved by fleshworkers.

The throne of the norndottirs (may they remain veiled), which bent the arrow of time, bringing past, present, future, sidespans, branches, and impossibilities to coexist at not-quite-once.

The throne-of-thrones, former seat of the Drowned Emperor, a ridiculous yet potent thing made from thrones taken from the kingdoms he conquered. Fortunately the Emperor is now too mushy to sit upon it, stuck as he is down the well in which he died.

A throne is only one half of the signs of lordship though. What of crowns? That is for another day.

*  These cysts where gods and spirits slumbered through an apocalypse remain infused with their dreams and nightmares. Many dungeons were originally built to tap their power.

** It was at this time too that the line between gods and spirits was drawn, at least as it's commonly reckoned. Spirits could be beaten, coerced, destroyed, while a god was mighty enough that no amount of iron could cow them. Pagans made their border kingdoms in the gods' domains by negotiation and obeisance.

No comments:

Post a Comment