The Phoenix and the Moon
At the start the sun glowed and burned. She wreathed and screamed in the pain of childbirth until the time was ripe. A rift was opened in her surface and she bore the great bird. A great flaming Phoenix. He burst forth with a scream and flew from the sun with a spirit chasing him.
The spirit chasing was a Banshee. The harbinger of all deaths. The Phoenix flew on to escape the terrible spirit. But the Banshee’s shrieks followed him and entered his head. He knew that he was dying. He could not survive outside of the sun. Still, in vain, he fled. The Banshee followed. The cries did their job, they drove the Phoenix mad and again another creature succumbed to the cry of the Banshee.
In his madness the fiery bird flew into a red moon rupturing it into two. The Phoenix’s flames were sundered upon impact. They became two separate flames, one was a warm green flame and the other was a cold blue flame. As the Phoenix himself was extinguished, each moon was ignited by one of the flames. One moon exploded into warm flame and the other into cold and the Phoenix died.
At this time there were no creatures in the present world. No Nymphs, no Dwarfili, No Humans, and especially, no Goblins. There was a place, nameless and void. The Otherworld was populated and growing.
The creatures in the Otherworld flourished and grew. There was no disease and no death. Peace ruled the land. In truth, peace was so widespread, that there were few who knew how to fight and soon it became known that the Otherworld could not hold the entire population, for with no sickness, death, or war the inhabitants lived an eternity. The Great Chieftain sent mariners out to find a new place to dwell. They sailed the seas of the Otherworld, to and fro, for they were great sailors, far greater than any that live in the present world.
However, at this time the sparks from the Phoenix’s impact with the moon fell to the ground of the Otherworld. As these sparks touched the soil and water, they created different types of spirits and creatures. Though this happened in the Other world, it did not happen in this world. The sundering of the moon was felt in both worlds, but not the birth of the spirits. For such a cataclysmic event involving the moons must be felt in both worlds, but none of the sparks landed in the present world so no spirits were born here. The sundering of the moon was felt, but not the birthing of creatures. That did not happen. All life comes and came from the Otherworld.
The sparks gave birth to faery folk. They included the Nymphs, Dryads and Sprites. Mermaids were born in the ocean; Naiad and Nereid were birthed, but not only beautiful spirits were born. The oceans also filled with Kraken and Leviathan. The land gave birth to worse spirits. One of the worst creatures was a Gallü. This creature was not always solid, but could take the form of mist and disappear without warning. Most Gallü cared only for killing the inhabitants of the Otherworld.
One of these Gallü, later named by the dwarfili as Chaos, desired to wreak havoc along with death. He approached the Great Chieftain’s son, Prince Blacktail. He whispered confusing thoughts and gave him power beyond his wildest dreams. As the prince’s power grew, Chaos continued to whisper secrets to him. Secrets of how to build weapons, and how to use them. The prince secretly gathered followers and trained them in the art of battle, and soon the prince believed Chaos’ lies that he should be the rightful chief of the Otherworld.
At this time the Prince Blacktail arose and rebelled against his father. He believed that he could provide for his people better than the Great Chieftain and he pronounced it openly. Many believed and many followed the prince for he revealed his many powers and was able to confuse their minds with his magic.
A great war broke out in the Otherworld. Unfortunately the Great Chieftain had few followers who understood the art of warfare and of those, he had sent many sailing over the Great Ocean to search out new living space. His power was weakened when his son rebelled. He and his so called warband fought valiantly, but they were easily overcome by the princes’ magic and warriors. The Chief fled with the few followers that he had and his Great Druid.
At this time, the Great Chieftain turned to his Great Druid for direction. There was no way to recall the exploring mariners, and there was no way to defeat the evil prince, so the Great Druid led the Great Chief and his people in search of a hiding place. He brought them to the Sacred Grove where they could hide.
No one knew of the Sacred Grove, but the Great Druid. It consisted of the magic Well of Wisdom surrounded by nine magic hazel trees. The fleeing group had to go through an orchard of apple trees first, followed by an orchard of hawthorn trees before they reached the Sacred Grove. Here they rested, for not even Chaos knew where the grove was, nor would he approach it if he knew, for he feared the power of the blessed hazel trees and their purple nuts.
Unbeknownst to the Great Chieftain, his mariners were beginning to arrive back with the sad news that there was no land hospitable to the growing population. As the Great Druid was contemplating the current situation, he was given a vision of the returning mariners and informed the Chief. The Chief was loathe to give his faithful servants up to Chaos and Blacktail, so he called the Great Champion. Of all the Chief’s followers, his Great Champion was the best trained in battle. He was able to better any of Blacktail’s followers, even Chaos feared the Great Champion.
So the Chieftain sent the Champion to collect the mariners and return them to the Sacred Grove. This took many harvests, however and in the mean time, the Chief’s followers began to starve, for the farmers had fled so quickly that they had not enough time to gather their livestock and now the people had no meat. It took the Great Druid time to train hunters and in that time many more died. Eventually the hunters were ready, but they had no weapons to hunt with at first. The Great Druid taught them how to make crude spears for hunting only.
Then the Chief wept. He hung his head over the Well of Wisdom and wept for his people. He wept for his Champion who had not yet returned, and he feared for him. He wept for his Druid who was doing his best, but could do only so much. And he wept for his son, for he knew that his son had been lead astray. Chaos was the real enemy, but he had wove his being around Blacktail’s and there was no way to separate the two. So he wept.
In the midst of the Great Chieftain’s weeping a voice attracted the Chief. “Why do you weep Great Chieftain?” The Chief looked around, but there was nobody in the grove. He stared at the nine blessed hazel trees, but they had not spoken. He rubbed his eyes to see who had spoken, but he could see no one.
A splashing sound turned his attention to the well where the purple nuts of the hazel trees dropped intermittently into the water.
“Why do you weep Great Chieftain?” The Chief looked down and saw a salmon staring up at him.
“What manner of creature is this that a fish would speak and I would understand?”
“I am the salmon of knowledge. I have come to eat the fruit of the nine magic hazel trees as I often do. Why do you weep Great Chieftain?”
“I weep for my son and my people.” And then the Chief told the salmon of knowledge about the events since Blacktail’s rebellion.
“I can help you Great Chieftain”, the salmon said. “Gather the Great Druid so I may speak to him as well.”
The Chief did as the salmon requested and the Druid agreed with all that the salmon said and a plan was laid for the final escape. But the Chief was loathe to leave without the Great Champion. Therefore the people waited and waited. Many nights the people waited until they could wait no more and then the Great Chieftain and the Great Druid gave the order for the plan to be carried out.
Purple nuts had been gathered for some time, enough for all of the people to have one. They now ate together and, one by one, dove into the Well of Wisdom. The Salmon of Knowledge would be their guide and promised to take them to safety. The Chief would wait until the end and be the last to leave that world. The Great Druid embraced his Chief before jumping into the well. The Chief was about to follow when a yell brought his attention to the grove’s entrance. The Great Champion ran and embraced the Chief. Mariners followed. There were but a few, perhaps half of the amount that the Chief had sent out. He stared at them and turned to his Champion.
“Where are the others?”
The Champion turned to one of the mariners and permitted him to speak.
“Dead Great Chieftain. They are all dead.”
“No Great Chieftain. An unrelated evil. Kelpies.”
“Aye, Great Chieftain. Water spirits that followed us back to shore when we returned to the mainland. They appeared in the shape of magnificent horses, but when mounted, they carried the rider out to the ocean and drowned him. We have never encountered them before, and I pray never again.”
A tear appeared once again in the Chief’s eyes but he simply nodded and picked a purple nut from one of the nine magical hazel trees and gave it to the mariner. The plan was explained quickly and the rest of the people jumped into the Well of Wisdom followed by the Great Chieftain.
As he swam down to the depths of the well, he thought he would drown, but before long he realized that he could breath under the water. He quickly caught up with the Great Druid who had stopped and waited for him. There was great joy at the reuniting of the Great Druid and the Great Champion. It wasn’t until the initial joy had subsided that they realized they had shapeshifted into trout. It was for this reason that they could breath in the fresh water.
They swam to catch up with the Salmon of Knowledge, but they were not fast enough. Just when they thought they might catch up, the salmon put on a burst of speed and left them behind. They swam for days, but they did not hunger.
When they finally caught up with the Salmon of Knowledge, they found that they had reached a misty shore. As they stepped out of the water they found that they had feet again. In fact they had talons and the Salmon of Knowledge took to the air in the form of an ousel. All of the people followed. The mist closed in around them and they could no longer see the ground below them, nor could they see any mountains or any familiar site. They flew for days, but they did not hunger.
They landed in a burning forest. The air had filled with smoke and they could no longer breath. As they landed they were comforted by the feel of ground under their feet, all four of them. The Great Chieftain turned to the Great Druid and the Great Champion and found they had now assumed the form of a stag. The people ran through the burning forest, without fear. They ran so fast that they were amazed at their own abilities. They ran for days, but they did not hunger.
Then they emerged on the shore of a misty lake. They all stood staring at the setting sun. All of the people stood and stared waiting for the Salmon of Knowledge to tell them what to do. After the sun set, they followed the Stag into the lake and swam across. They kept their form and swam into a river that left the lake. Here the Salmon of Knowledge retook his original form and swam to the Great Chieftain.
“This is where I must take my leave of you Great Chieftain. Bode thee well.” Then the salmon disappeared upstream. The Chief tried to follow, but the current was too strong and the people were swept downstream.
Cries broke the air as they realized that they were heading for a waterfall. They tried to make for shore, but they were caught in the current. Even the Great Champion could not break free from the grip of the current. With a terrifying shriek they were swept over the waterfall and as they fell, they shifted into forms that were close to their original, but not exactly. Some were shifted into Humans, others into Nymphs, and others into dwarfili.
Silence engulfed them as they hit the water and were sucked under. They struggled but all expected to die. None know how they survived, but they woke up the next morning during that time when nothing is exactly what it seems. When it is not quite morning, nor is it quite night any longer. That time when almost anything seems possible. It is at this time that the Nymphs, Humans, and Dwarfili awoke in the forest beside a well that looked much the same as the Well of Wisdom, but the world was different.
They could not explain it, but they knew that they had left the Otherworld and were now in this world. They woke up naked and confused, but safe. They stayed by the Well for a long time, but eventually they spread out, each building villages for his own type, human, nymphen, and dwarfili.
The Great Chieftain and his Druid returned often to the Well of Birth to speak to the Salmon of Knowledge. The salmon told them about their new world and left some things to aid them as they made their new life. Over the well stood a tree. They called it the Tree of Birth, for the salmon had told them that all life on this world, except for them, had emerged from this tree. All manner of plants and animals. The Tree of Birth was to be honored and preserved.
Hanging upon one of the branches of the Tree of Birth by a thick rope, was a large black cauldron. It was full of a thick green liquid. The Salmon of Knowledge told the Great Chieftain that this was the Cauldron of Birth. It was this cauldron that originally gave birth to all life in the Otherworld. The Salmon asked the Great Chieftain to watch the Cauldron of Birth since it is from the Otherworld that he had come from and the Cauldron had probably given birth to him as well. The Great Chieftain agreed. In return, the salmon gave the Great Chieftain knowledge regarding special stonecutting methods and rare gems and jewels that could be found in this world.
The Great Chieftain planted an orchard of nine hazel trees around the sacred Well of Birth and sat for many days by it. Eventually, however, the Chief died as did the Great Druid and the Great Champion. Over time, the dwarfili forgot the way back to the Well of Birth and never found it again.
To this rote hazel trees are considered sacred and if any ever come upon nine of them planted close to a grove of hawthorn trees with a well in the middle they wonder if this may be the well of wisdom.
Back in the Otherworld, when the Great Chieftain and his people had disappeared from the land the evil Chaos, having no one else to kill, had turned on Blacktail and his followers. But unbeknownst to the spirits or the Great Chieftain, Blacktail had followed the Great Champion back to the Well of Wisdom. Blacktail tried to resist the Gallü for some time, but realizing his mistake, he gathered his people together and fled Chaos. He led them to the Well of Wisdom and instructed them to follow him into the well as he had seen the Great Chieftain do. The people were scared and hesitated. Chaos would not enter the grove however out of fear for the nine magic hazel trees. He shrieked and yelled at Blacktail. For many days the people cowered by the well and waited for another way, but as they started to die of starvation, the prince convinced them to enter the well. They sank to the bottom and died. For they did not have the Salmon of Knowledge to guide them and they had not partaken of the purple nuts from the nine magic hazel trees and therefore they all died.
Many Faery folk had watched them enter the well and chose to follow. Because of their connection with the natural trees, the Nymphs, Dryads, and Sprites were permitted by the nine magic hazel trees to enter the well and they found their way to the present world. Also the Naiad and Nereid were able to travel through the well to the present world due to their close connection with water. Some of them brought the Oread with them. The other faery folk were ecstatic and tried to enter the well, however the nine magic hazel trees would not allow it and they were turned away. This enraged the faery folk and they vowed to find a way from the Otherworld to the present world and have spent the rest of their days doing just that.
Indeed, some of the spirits have found their way to the present world on evenings such as Mid Winter’s Eve and Mid Summer’s Eve. The two evenings when the Bloodmoon shines whole once again, the times when the threshold between this world and the Otherworld is the thinnest. Others have traveled through emptiness and time to arrive at the present world, but most have remained in the Otherworld, especially the Gallü’im of which Chaos is only one. And for this the Dwarfili are eternally thankful.