Mud and Light

Mud and Light

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay

Tambier and Melusia

9. Mud and Light

When the world was young and endlessly vast, the mischievous godling Tambier loved to play with the water. He unleashed it from his fingers and drowned the lower and higher heavens. The other gods started to whine with frowns and clicking tongues that the floods had reached the doors of their homes and wrecked their bright gardens of crystal and silver. The complaints reached the ears of Jajon, the elderly father of the gods, and with a throbbing headache, he commanded Tambier to play in Galabros, a far corner of the kingdom of dark and light. 

Tambier’s banishment was exclusive to his playtime only, and he was free to return to his ethereal glass castle at the end of the day, yet still he felt a slight bitterness. He would embrace his folded knees and trace his fingers across ice and rock. The corner he had been given to destroy was devoid of light, warmth and company. But with no one scolding him about swamping valleys or provoking the tongues of ocean waves, Tambier had grown familiar and comfortable in his damp, hollow realm. He paid no heed to an inferior child goddess of dirt, when she stumbled, fell and sprinted away in haste, leaving behind the mediocre orb of white light, the star she had been toying with. The scar on her forehead was shaped like a small burst of sunshine.

However, the next day Tambier stared down at a patch of dark dirt with wide, curious eyes. In the spot illuminated by the abandoned white star, in the mixture of mud and moisture a tiny green growth has sprouted. Tambier grinned at this existence, miniscule enough to be crushed under the sole of his colossal foot.. Such courage that he admired! He desired to see more of it, taller and in abundance. With swelling pride he would show the gods his ability to bring life forth in the most unlikely places. Tambier hammered the rains upon Galabros, night and day. But he only eagerly rushed to find bald, barren stone. Stone that stretched beyond the horizon and blackness that echoed back his grunt of disappointment. Hills of Granite and limestone smoothed and licked by the floods he orchestrated. He grew up this way, angrily cascading storms upon everything, for hours and days, and then regretfully chasing all the water down to the edge of the world, where it fell into an eternal night, never to be retrieved again. A waste.

The water god soon grew up surrounded by peers and elders that questioned the purpose of his gift. The gods of wind could ride smokes of clouds and travel across thousands and thousands of miles in sheer minutes. The goddesses of song entertained the entire kingdom, young and old with their sweet voices. The gods of rock built castles for the esteemed deities, homes that were both hauntingly elegant and terrifyingly immense.

When Tambier came of age, his limbs hardening and gaining an unmatched control over water, Tambier found no joy in overflowing the world like a gigantic bath tub. Now, the only reason he would return to his childhood playing ground was to roar and wreck and drown mountain peaks when he could not respond to the question he was asked every day: What sort of a god are you?

But Tambier had failed to find the grey and smoothed lands of Galabros. In its place, gardens of every color held his breath. It took his eyes a few moments to adjust to the beauty. He had only seen pictures that reminded him of this sight in the books his grandfather read to him as he bounced him on his age-wilted legs. The deities in all  the realms spoke of this paradise, withered and lost with time and the knowledge to bringing it back to life buried with the ancient gods that passed to the next worlds. When his grandfather reached the peak of his old age, he confessed that mud and light were the secret. Laughter ripped through every palace in the heavens, the gods and goddesses clutching their sides from the pain and enjoyment. His grandfather was indeed, becoming senile because dirt and water, each separately, were worthless. In a kingdom where no one thirsted, bathed, or crafted clay, what was the purpose of mixing both? And as for light, hanging a string of star constellations alone sufficed along with glass and crystal to construct enchanting homes truly fit for immortals.

Tambier loved the heat and cheer emitted by the white star hanging above the gardens. The water, his waters that only yesterday wreaked havoc upon the tiniest pebble and the mightiest mountain equally, now ran politely through the soft, green carpets of grass in tamed patterns that resembled branching bolts of lightening. He ached for a closer view, landing among a grove of trees hanging with blushing fruit that smelled like nothing he had smelled before, he could not wait to pluck and taste. The juice and sweetness rolled in his tongue only for a moment before his whole body stiffened. He heard a voice of soft laughter resounding behind his back. He had been a fool. Tambier spat out the fruit and pierced the mist in search of the one who laughed, in search of whoever toyed with Galabros, molding it as they pleased. Whoever they were, Tambier would make certain they would never trespass again. 

Tambier had been expecting to find a hooligan or a distracted child, but what he set his eyes upon was the same godling that had once stumbled and fell as she passed through Galabros, leaving behind her moderately bright white star. She was a godling no longer, Tambier swallowed nervously. She had completely transformed apart from the scar of sunshine burst on her forehead. Tambier's feet shifted in hesitation as he watched her breathe shape into hills of red flowers like the curves of a sleeping woman. He would return the white star to her and then leniently ask her to leave. But the divine blood in his veins rushed with alarm when she hovered upon the water streams, almost touching his most valuable possession. 

His own water! How dare she? 

He caught her arm in the middle of the air, and yanked her body fully toward him, eyeing her aggressively. Her response was a welcoming smile, she had been expecting him to see this artistic creation. Her other hand, uncaught by his grip, pointed in the direction of the far mountains. But he saw nothing worthy of his attention. Perhaps she had not yet recognized him as the ruler of Galabros. So, he let go of her arm and decided to demonstrate. Once he made the waters rise in terrifying heights, the sunny, playful smile on the face of the goddess crumpled and she was swift to respond, ploughing the moist earth with her fingers to create new pathways for the waters before they crash against her flower hills. But it was not just those she was striving to protect. Tambier accentuated his sight toward the tree on top of the hill, where its branches motherly cradled a fragile nest of baby blackbirds, squeaking and twittering for their mother to return. In his moment of distraction, the tall towers of waves poured into the pathways the goddess had dug, precisely according to her plan. Tambier felt a familiar dread creep into the next breath he inhaled. The water streams were heading toward the edge of the world! He shot her a look full of questions and she placed her hand on her hip victoriously, taking flight into the direction of the fresh stream. Tambier clenched his teeth and growled, spearing into the clouds behind her.

As soon as they had reached the awful cliff that reminded him of his defeat as a child, he grasped her wrist again and forcefully turned her body to face him. His chest heaved with fury that vanished as soon as his eyes caught the picture of the falling stream. The water was not wastefully spilling into the edge of the world. It descended in a single powerful and dignified shower, in a deafening roar, into the vessel of a rocky pool, the color of blue diamonds. It was a cascade of fast-flowing river that the humans would later identify as: a waterfall.

Tambier had never seen such clever engineering in his entire twenty-thousand years of living. The sound of the murmuring streams, passing gently through to feed the earth instead of stripping it bare of all forms of life, actually flattered the water god. His power was indeed useful! Tambier's hand remained clasped around her wrist, her proud honey brown eyes locked with his amused ones.  He strongly wished he had known this dexterous woman when he was a child, the fun they could have had playing with water and mud! 

Melusia, her name reverbed back to his memory. The daughter of the god of dirt. Her parents had been the laughing stock of the kingdom of heavens. No one needed dirt. Not a single god fed on it, or build their homes with it. Weapons of clay protected no one. Dirt could not heal the ill gods nor could it bring comfort to the broken-hearted. It added no glamor or shine to one’s clothing. No god could gift another a handful of dirt. Melusia’s father earned more vicious sarcasm among the feasting tables of other gods when he refused to let his daughter play outside with her friends or attend banquets, because he feared her beauty would drive youthful gods to take advantage of her or hurt her.   

Tambier’s hand tightened around Melusia’s wrist, she did not resist. His chest still heaved, but not with rage. He did not know what. When her fingers extended to brush a side of his face, he consumed her entirety with his eyes. Her beauty was not a bright jewel, like that of the other goddesses who stretched into maturity. Melusia was flushed and mellow, her hair rippling in rich brown waves, the delicate skin of her neck reminding him of the velvety fruit he bit into a few minutes ago. No wonder her father kept her concealed behind closed doors. He pulled her closely, expecting to devour her apricot lips with a kiss, but Tambier turned his head away. At that moment, he learned that he was not as bold as he had thought. Melusia quietly chuckled. She had to be artistic again. The bracelets around her wrists clanked as she pushed him down to the supple grass, crushing her body against his. They rolled down the hillside, and wherever they made love, life sprang forth; bees, butterflies, herbs, ponds swarming with fish, caves where bears deeply slumbered and mountains that eagles prided at flight.

Tambier had never loved a goddess so fiercely and surely. Until he met others.

In the safe veil of mist in the Rose Mountains. From those heights, Beyarnok, the prince of wolves would quietly observe mortals and gods. An ordinary carnivorous beast in the beginning, over the years, his interest in the affairs of humans and deities grew larger than his appetite. After all, that is what set him apart from the crowd of wolves blinded by hunger for flesh and greed for territory. 

Beyarnok witnessed the union of Tambier and Melusia and was fascinated by the world they had built together. But what captivated the wolf prince the most was the freedom of mortals and gods to make promises. Man-eating wolves naturally huddled and gathered to survive the merciless winter and locate food and water. Their togetherness was pushed by need. But never had two monster wolves exclusively joined their lives out of choice.

One day, as they sat in the meadow and while Tambier was garnishing Melusia's hair with purple myrtle flowers, she warned him that the enemies who would try to steal the garden from him might not be bearded gods with sinewy necks, piercing spears or fists of diamond. They might as well be goddesses like herself. Although she perfectly comprehended the craftiness of her own kind, Tambier only dismissed her worries with a lighthearted smile, wondering how he could ever think of fighting a goddess, fragile and lovely as the dawn with a voice that rings like a melody.

Belela, the goddess of stars, with her porcelain skin and night black hair, trained him to navigate and mark the constellations as he travelled through space. Luam, the goddess of the moon, with large sweet eyes showed Tambier the phases of the moon and how its motion caressed and stroked the ocean waves. Sof, the goddess of the wind, with her coarse but amiable laughter and hypnotizing soft hands, demonstrated to Tambier the best ways to harness and accumulate the cold and warm air currents, where to guide the rain clouds that swelled with a sulking roar, and how to pollinate lavenders and basil flowers. One after another, the goddesses approached earth with the innocent incentive to ‘teach’ Lord Tambier how to rule his young lands. But when Melusia woke up in the middle of the night with her arms wrapped around her husband and she heard him mumble the names of the goddesses in his sleep, the ground beneath them quaked and the mouths of volcanoes roared. The trees turned charcoal black and the skies and the rivers that reflected them choked in grey smoke.

The next morning, the sun did not rise and every tiny and large living creature suffered. Tambier fell on his knees against the ashes, pleading for forgiveness. Even though he had not shared his body with a goddess other than she, Melusia could not pardon that Tambier’s heart no longer belonged exclusively to her. She flew far and away from his world and he remained there to rebuild what her grief had destroyed.

Shortly after, Beyarnok could no longer idly watch from the misty mountain tops. Matrimony was an eternal promise, and breaking it was a crime. He descended to earth first, to confront the primary aggressor, the one who did not heed his wife’s warnings. Tambier, for a moment, forgot that no one in Galabros was more powerful than he. And he fearfully retreated at the sight of the round silver eyes and snarls. The wolf prince leapt with open jaws and jagged teeth at the wrist that shielded Tambier’s face, leaving the god with a deeper heartbreak at the only explanation he could muster: Melusia had sent him a parting gift. 

Tracking the scent of earth after the rain, Beyarnok located the second aggressor, the one who did not forgive her husband. Melusia curled tearfully inside the mouth of a rocky cave in the distant darkness of space. She flinched and stumbled and pressed her back to the wall of the cave as the wolf prince approached her. She wiped her wet eyes and readied her hands to manipulate the rocks around her in order to ground the wolf’s bones to dust, but Beyarnok lunged at her throat just as she was having the thought. The bite came swift and it left her with the bitterness of one prediction: Tambier no longer loved her. The only damage the goddess barely inflicted on the prince of beasts was tearing one of his ears in the brief struggle against his bite.

Such an offense against any deity would normally never go unpunished in the upper realms, but both Tambier and Melusia mutually admired the courage and sense of justice of the wolf prince, permitting him, until the ends of time, to chase and berate those who broke their promises or sacred vows.

© 2020 YouoweYoupay

My Review

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I love a good myth. I've been looking into myths from around the world lately as part of novel writing research and I love your take on the myths of this world. And who doesn't love some love making immortal action, eh? ;)
I have to say, though, the chapter feels a little out of order. I enjoyed the characters and their development from beginning to end, but it felt like the ending somehow ended up lost in the middle. Myths are meant to explain a people's knowledge of origins and culture. Like the origin of waterfalls for example. That's a great ending to a myth. "And today, we call them waterfalls."
BAM! Great myth ending. I don't know if I'm making sense. I guess what I'm trying to say is this chapter is basically 2 or even 3 myths rolled up into one. I can imagine a frame narrative of someone relaying these myths one after the other during the course of a day, (or a dinner perhaps?) while people ask the narrator questions, spinning him or her to the next myth. The way you weave stories like this into the narrative of everyday life in previous chapters was dynamite. I think that's the best method for myth transmission in a story. But then, that's just my humble opinion. The substance itself was very fun to read, though. That part remains the same. Keep up the great work!

Posted 3 Months Ago

Your writing in this chapter is top-notch & your ideas in this storytelling are artistically expressed. If a reader is interested in this sort of thing (a couple of my sisters would love this), this could be seen as a beautifully-written chapter. But for a reader like me, this is a complete snooze-fest.

I can take 2 or 3 paragraphs of such an ethereal sidetrip, but not an entire chapter. When I got to the one-line paragraph: "His own water! How dare she?" -- I thought maybe things would perk up with another character, more interaction, more suspense or something. But this other person showing up did not improve the dull droning quality of this flashback into some other realm that didn't seem to be connected to the storyline up to this point. I must've missed the connection. I'm sorry to be so brutal about this (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 11, 2020
Tags: Short novel



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