Another Short Story
It has occurred to me I won't be able to post all my short stories, as some of them will reveal spoilers for the books. They will, however, eventually be included in a book. For now, I am just going to post stories that occur before the time of Elf Mastery.
This is just a little creation story. Not sure how strong it is, but let me know what you think.
Terra drew her stone hand through the clear liquid that flowed over the barren ground. Water, Nun called it. Unlike Terra’s motionless and reliable Earth, the Water flowed as Nun directed it. Sometimes the playful Aether scooped it into the invisible essence he called Air, and then the Water fell in droplets that made Terra’s Earth soft and pliable. She called this Mud, for it was worthless until Mariel’s Fire chased the Water out and it again became rigid.
Frustrated she often was with Aether, she did enjoy the coolness of his moving Air. This new sense, Touch, invented by Terra herself, had been meant to help her analyze and adjust the sediments in the rocks and soil; but it had its side effects, often leaving her lethargic in the sweltering heat. Mariel, always working in the domain of Fire deep below the Earth’s surface, often cast up molten rock as she experimented with smelting the stone into various forms. Her work made Nun’s water heat and bubble.
Even now, the Water roiled near the shore, catching up sediments of Earth in its disruptive currents. Terra cupped her hands and scooped some of the liquid for a closer look. What was this, among the swells of liquid and silt? Something swam here. It was not intelligent, nor even could be called life, but had ordered itself beyond anything she or the others had created. <<>>
What are you doing?
Nun’s thoughts bubbled from the depths as his head breached the waves. He had created for himself a monstrous body, which waved and swelled and flowed like his Water. He towered above Terra, yet he had no true size or form, and had not bothered with the appendages Terra had given herself to work the stones and sands.
She held up her cupped hands. Something uncreated forms itself in the water.
Waves crashed against Terra’s legs as Nun moved toward her. The top of his crest lowered for a closer look, and a great maw opened as he pondered the sediment.
Impossible, he decided. Order does not create itself. Cease what you are doing. We already risk drawing Chaos’ attention.
Terra set the remaining water into the shallow waves lapping at her feet. I have done nothing. And do not worry about Chaos. Momus protects us from his sight.
Nun grunted. Momus was quick to take our side. He may be just as quick to betray us.
There was a laugh from the darkness overhead, and Momus’ jovial voice echoed through both their minds. His words dominated most others, and though his words were often sharp, they were usually honest.
Like you, I am no slave to Chaos. While your desires for Order are childish, it is no right of Chaos to deny you the cheap pleasures of your physical forms.
If you tried you would understand, Terra insisted. These bodies allow us sight, and sound, and touch. Our connection to the universe is amplified a thousand times.
Nun’s maw opened wide and a torrent of water rushed inside, only to shoot out the back of his cresting wave. Do not forget taste. It provides an intimacy with matter unknown to the other senses.
Terra had not yet experienced taste. Nun had told her of it, but she was hesitant to go about shoving things inside her body.
Momus radiated disapproval. This work has overtaken your thoughts. You have separated yourselves from the rest of us. Your minds twist only toward these new pleasures, and you neglect the pursuits of Pure Thought.
Nun’s great body shook the seas around him. There is no end in Pure Thought. No goal. We produce change while the rest of you stagnate in perpetual monotony.
Which is fine, Terra interrupted firmly. She didn’t want to antagonize their only ally. What can we do for you, Momus?
The great Momus descended over the water where Terra had released the strange essence.
I detected a new creation. A disruption in the fabric. You have gone beyond the four elements in our agreement. I come to negotiate new terms.
We have created nothing, Nun snapped.
Terra cast him a warning glare but was careful to soften her tone before addressing Momus. Nun speaks true. Matter organizes itself into more complex forms, but it is not our doing.
Momus’ laugh echoed again. Mariel carries out her experiments deep below. Her fires alter the earth and stir the waters. Perhaps the results are accidental and unintended, but they are a result of her ceaseless tampering. I can only hide so much from Chaos’ notice.
I will summon to her. Terra stood tall. We shall learn together of her mischief.
Terra focused the weight of her feet into the ground. She could feel the vibrations of Mariel working below, and a light tremor stirred Nun’s waters as she sent ripples of stone deep below the surface into the fiery depths. Unlike Water, which flowed and rippled freely under Nun’s command, Earth grumbled and complained as she forced its obedience. It was stubborn stuff, though it was that same stubbornness that also provided its strength and reliability.
Done, Terra said as she relaxed her physical form.
Momus, having no physical form, was invisible to Terra’s eyes, yet her own life-essence felt his as it hovered over the edge of Nun’s water. He said nothing, but his thoughts focused on the miniscule creations inside until a spray of hot ash burst through the stone crust and a jet of flame shot into the sky. Mariel, her form towering over Terra, though not so high as Nun, drifted toward them and shrunk herself sufficiently to hide her body from the spray of splashing Water, which she hated.
What news? Mariel asked. I greet you, Momus.
Momus’ attention was finally drawn away from the shallow water. You stir the elements into life, he accused. If you continue, I fear I will not be able to hide you from Chaos.
Mariel was not chastened, but rather became excited. Matter has so much potential! My fires have stirred the earths below and created Minerals of shining beauty. There is great potential in Order! Enough potential, I think, to rival Chaos in strength.
There was a still silence. Terra didn’t dare admit her mind leaped at the prospect of deflecting Chaos’ strength, and she didn’t doubt Nun felt the same; but Momus, while an ally, was still on the side of Chaos in his opinion of Order.
You are a fool if you think to challenge Chaos, and I will not keep your secrets should you not cease. There was no more laughter in Momus’ thoughts. Your experiments will draw Chaos’ eye and condemn us all.
Terra wished to be able to communicate her thoughts to Mariel without Momus receiving them. There must be a way to communicate through these physical forms. But, for now, she couldn’t speak freely.
Listen to Momus, she pleaded. We need his protection. Enjoy your Fire in quiet.
Mariel grinned as she peered into the water. Don’t you see? Momus, look. Order increases itself. Molecules are forming and becoming more complex without my interference. Chaos is undone. It is only a matter of time before Order overruns the universe. I shall set a great fire in the sky, that shall warm the whole of your Earth and Nun’s Waters and create such Order that Chaos can never challenge it.
Shut up! Terra’s thoughts were urgent. She looked up at Nun, who was peering into the shallows where the Ordering swirled at his base.
Mariel is correct. Nun’s crest lowered until it just peaked over the Water. With sufficient support we might undo Chaos. We need only convince the others to join us. Iapetus will surely join us, and Atum. Perhaps Mnemosyne can be persuaded.
Erebus will never betray Chaos, Momus protested. Nor his siblings. The others tremble in fear. You speak of treason. I must associate with you no longer, nor will I hide you from Chaos’ eyes.
Terra felt Momus withdraw. She looked at Mariel. Fool! Your curiosity and careless speech have both condemned us.
No! Nun said. There is power in Order. I feel it moving and working in my Waters. Vast tools are at our disposal.
We are meant to rule here, Mariel said. Chaos has long ignored the power at his feet. He has failed to learn, to grow, to strengthen himself. His power and knowledge stagnate as ours grow. I shall find Aether, and command him to seek those who might support us. A trial of body will convince any of them.
Terra had to admit that experiencing a physical form was a powerful tool to convert the others. They only needed to convince them to try it.
What other choice did she have, anyway? Nun had already sided with Mariel, and Aether would do anything she asked of him. Terra agreed, as well, but feared the consequences. Yet, now, she would be found guilty by association.
Very well, she agreed. Send your agents. I shall shape the earth into mountains and valleys, should we require places to hide.
Nun again rose into a massive cresting wave. I shall spread the Ordering throughout the Waters, so all Matter may witness what is do be done.
Mariel rose into the Air as her flames burst broad and bright. I shall increase my activity below the surface and seek assistance in creating the great fire in the sky. We must work quickly, but I assure you, Terra, Chaos will not destroy what we have created here.
Terra stood motionless as Nun disappeared into the vast Waters, and Mariel dove into a fissure in the Earth’s crust. Well. It was done now. Terra looked at the vast barren Earth in front of her, and with a new sense of focus and urgency, and no small amount of trembling, she cleaved a long and narrow valley that stretched into the horizon.
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Bryant Reil currently resides in Kelowna, BC. Recent accomplishments include completing a Master's degree, and having finished two books, Elf Mastery and Elf Doubt. The third book, Elf Righteous, is underway.