Week 49: Tales from the Second Council
The Second Council is freshly over, and Lanthil is now officially
recognized by Faerie and all its main neighbors. So we resume our
cautious probing about nephilim.
Robbie once more approaches the Djinnistani ambassador and professes to her a keen desire to see the mountains of Kaf and the cities thereon. She is puzzled but agrees to take him with her, though she isn't leaving immediately. Robbie says that's fine, then goes and gives Tom his roving third eye, as a steering token, to help Tom zero in on him with the pantope.
Tom, meanwhile, has buttonholed Gortle, one of the two representatives of the Marcher Lords, and shown him a glamour image of the satyr-like monochrome being we glimpsed on the maiden voyage of the Emerald Metaphor, and of the three-faced giant we saw in retrocognitive vision. Gortle has never seen either, and pronounces them "Not of the Marches."
Kate seeks out Logi, the King of Jotunheim, and asks him about nephilim. The first thing he tells her is that, whatever else she may have heard, "They are not giants!" Just not quite a puny as purebred humans. He says they are "argumentative," and expands that to saying they usually go about fighting and killing. Kate asks him to tell her the earliest thing he knows about them. He thinks for a while -- his memory goes way back -- and then begins:
The Giant-King's Tale
This all happened far to the south of giants' usual haunts, but he has heard the tale of the first nephil. Does Kate know of the Lords of Pestilence? No? Well, there was war in Heaven -- and that would be another very long story -- and in it, the "Father of Dragons" opposed the Lords of Pestilence. (Logi says they don't mention the Father of Dragons by name hereabouts, but, listening over the net, Tom guesses that he is one of two Eretsarin, Turel or Temeluch, who were in fact the found fathers of the race of dragons. Temeluch, also called Eth, later accidentally founded the fays, as well. Did he get involved with nephilim, too?)
In any case, the Father of Dragons came out of his battles with the Lords of Pestilence stunned and weakened, and, ah, "not himself," Logi puts it. While in this condition, he wandered off to a place his folk held dear, where they had had historic gatherings with other folk, including Alvirin and Didana, who are now over there at the buffet.... (Based on "The Races of Earth," this might be somewhere near the site of the Garden of Eden.)
After wandering for thrice thirteen or forty days, he came to a newly-founded settlement of humans, in a valley. It was, in fact, the greatest human-made city yet, though tiny by later standards. Or at least the greatest community of that particular people, a red-skinned folk. It was very beautiful and he was very taken with it. He stayed and watched over them for a while. He slowly began to recall who and what he was, and began wandering again, heading back toward the sea. A little ways into his wanderings, he encountered a shepherd maiden. He looked on her and saw that she was fair (Genesis 6:1-5), and, um, dallied with her. The result, nine months later, was the birth of the first nephil. The Father of Dragons (and Nephilim) had, meanwhile, departed.
Of this first demigod, Logi says that he built three cities and destroyed seven (or, a bit more exactly, was involved in the wars that entailed their destruction), and likewise had three temples built to him but was the cause of seven temples falling. Because of his destructive tendencies, he was set a series of great tasks to make atonement.
The number of tasks, and their natures, varies from one version of the tale to another. Kate suggests various items from the Labors of Hercules. The match isn't particularly good or bad. One task-tale involves this great, hulking champion having to depend on the agility of his smaller sidekicks, to retrieve something from the interior of an intricately carved set of concentric spheres, without damaging the carving. Logi remarks wryly that little folk like to tell stories like that about big folk, though of course proper giants are shapeshifters, and a shapeshifting giant in good fettle could turn himself into something as small as a fly. (Kate remembers the tale of Puss in Boots and checks again on Brunalf's location.)
Kate and Logi discuss the nature and dubious reliability of tales in general. Logi remarks that those left behind are always interesting in tales from before "the great bending of the world" -- (huh?) -- when "those on borrowed time" were made to leave the world, and the world was bent so as not to leave a hole behind. But they don't like to talk about it here, so Kate learns no more about continental drift, fay-style.
Logi does remark that this first nephil was not the greatest nephil. He came later.
The Demigod in His Cups
Dafnord, meanwhile, asks one of the maids where he can find Tethycles, a nephil guest of the house who is known to be on the outs with the Atlanteans, though we don't know exactly why. He is staying in one of the outlying cabins, carefully avoiding the diplomatic functions. Dafnord makes his way there, guided by the maid, and is met at the door by an elvish servant. Falling into Victorian formality mode, Dafnord proffers a calling card. The elf is reasonably quick on the uptake and conveys it inside. He comes back and says Tethycles will see him.
Tethycles, it turns out, has been anesthetizing himself with some excellent brandy, but he dimly remembers brief meetings with Dafnord back in the Dreamtime. Dafnord explains that he needs to find out about the 49 cities of Kaf set aside for the nephilim.
Tethycles has heard of these but never seen them or been to the Kaf. More is said about the cities of the djinn, also in the Kaf. Most djinn (also called peris or mazzikim) are creatures of the desert and wilderness, but on the peak of Mount Kaf itself they have a great city, Djinnabad, and two others lower down on the mountains. There are other creatures living in the Kaf, too, but out in the wilds, not in the cities. The 49 cities are on the third-greatest peak, and said to be reserved for the "Folk of the Blood," after they return from "the Places of Penance."
In repayment for the information, Dafnord, who has been on the net, relates to Tethycles the story about the first nephil that Kate has just heard from Logi. He also tells Tethycles about the origins of his sword, Umbra, and invites him to visit Lanthil, which he thinks Tethycles would like, in part because the place has no history yet. That does appeal. Tethycles starts to get dozy, though, so Dafnord takes his leave.
Interview with the Dragon
Markel, back at the main house, boldly approaches the Ambassador of Patala. The other members of the draconian delegation are too surprised to intercept him (or perhaps they are too torpid, having just eaten a whole game hen in one gulp or something). Markel asks him if there is a dragon-remnant analogous to the nephil-remnant and the fay-remnant. "We don't often speak of that," the Ambassador answers. (What a surprise.) "We would not allow folk to just ... come back late. The remnants are those parts of races who did not leave when it was time. No one can easily accept them back. There are rules for it. There is very little dragon remnant. Of course, my knowledge is second-hand since, by the rules, I do not return to Earth. I would be surprised to hear even tales of a dragon remnant."
Perhaps the Ambassador has a surprise coming.
Listening to this over the net, Robbie wonders what counts as "Earth"? After all, there are several "Earths" in parallel timelines. And does the whole mundane realm -- all the galaxies and continua of it -- constitute "Earth" as a contrast to the arcane realms? Tom suggests they ask Nick, and Nick thinks that the term "Earth" is probably pretty elastic. Fays who worked with spacetime might be fairly strict in their usage, but others might be broader. He also offers the name of someone at Alvirin's court who might be able to shed more light.
While we're discussing cosmology, Tom shows Nick the coordinates he took on Yazatlan and asks if Nick and tell which continuum it's in. Nick opines that it is in a relatively small pocket-universe, and refers Tom to Jonathan. Jonathan confirms that it's a pocket and adds that it is not a Worldbender-style pocket. (Desmond once remarked there weren't enough stars in the sky of Yazatlan. Perhaps the pocket isn't big enough to hold many.)
An Offer to the Elf-King
Salimar runs the gauntlet of courtiers around Alvirin with her usual flexibility and asks him if he would like any kind of formal relations with her boss, KaiSen the race-mind. Alvirin is uncertain that this would be appropriate, but says he would be willing to listen if ever KaiSen has a particular issue it wants to talk about. He also gives her a small ring for her to present at Elvencrown, to get an audience. Salimar thanks him and withdraws.
Loop Until Timeout
Robbie approaches the Atlanteans and asks them if they have relations with Patala. Some, they cautiously admit. Robbie explains that some of us (including some members of the Silver Council) have recently had dealings with some draconians in the mundane world. What would Patala think if these turned out to be minions of She Who Used To Be A Dragon (alias "Lilith")? The Atlanteans get a bit flustered and quickly tell Robbie that Patala must speak for itself on such affairs. Robbie asks them what they think of Lilith and the Lilim? That hasn't been an issue for them for a very long time. Robbie thanks them and bows out.
Next, he approaches the Patalans, specifically the new vizier, the one replacing one the Ambassador broke last time... He explains that he and his companions are on a quest on behalf of "the Lady Braeta and her people" and them may have run into some Lilim (suitably paraphrased). What would--
The vizier refers him to the ambassador and starts chatting about weather or dust bunnies or pretty much anything else. How would Robbie get an interview with the ambassador? Ask the secretary.
Robbie approaches the secretary, who suddenly becomes busy talking to the ambassador. Robbie waits. And waits. And finally one of the guards comes up. Robbie gives the guard a message to give the secretary. Sure; the guard can use a wastebasket as well as anyone else.
Accidents and Reflections
Katrina tries to approach Alvirin's vizier, meaning to ask him for clarification on all this about the split between Faerie and Earth. It's very puzzling to her, since, where she comes from, there's no split at all and Faerie is one of the Great Powers in the world political game, along with Britain, France, Prussia, and Bavaria.
However, the King's Goblins run interference for the vizier, so she seeks out the Avalonians and poses her questions to them. They mildly point out that the question of Faerie proper doesn't apply to them, since Avalon is not a part of Faerie, either geographically or politically, though people are always supposing that it is. They gather that Katrina is from one of those alternate-history things that are in some manner a reflection of Earth and Faerie-- (Katrina offers the counter-suggestion that Earth and Faerie are reflections of her world, but they hastily wave this suggestion off as a faux pas, at least in present company) --but they don't really know a lot about it. Daewen might know more.
As to the split, it is, in general, a religious and/or historical issue concerning the "Great Plan." The Power (also known as the Eretsarin) have this Plan, or are entrusted with it, for the development of Earth over the ages. Faerie falls outside that plan; the fays are thus termed the "Children of Fate" or "of Accident," contrasted to the children of the Plan. The Powers want such accidents removed from the Earthly plane. The exact details of this removal, and what has been, or should have been, done about it, vary a lot with the age, race, and beliefs of the individual. Some older fays could tell Katrina more, if they were willing to talk about it, but it's a touchy subject.
So are the fay realms attached to alternate histories. These "reflections" of Faerie and Alvirin strike a lot of fays as, somehow, an affront. Like impostors. Perhaps they even are impostors.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.