A Mythic Puppet Show

The following was performed with simple puppets and cunningly crafted scenes of colored paper, manipulated to give each scene a sense of animation:

Gather ‘round, children, and hear a tale of times long past.

In the times of our grandfather’s grandfather many gods walked the land, and lived, loved, and sometimes died alongside their mortal worshipers. Before the might of Dragons came to enslave the people and slay their gods, the City of Valiel was a mighty trading outpost on the northern sea, of which Garshen was but a waypost.

Valiel was said to have a fleet of a hundred ships, whose keels and oars were carved from the bones of great sea beasts. The Ivory Fleet traded far and wide, traveling north along the coast to the Dwarven lands, south to the deserts, and west across the unbroken sea to places long forgotten.

Valiel’s greatness wasn’t merely in her fleet, or her merchants. Three powerful gods claimed the city as their own, and the power of Valeil’s patron deities assured her prosperity.

Hamziel the Tidemaster was the eldest, and he controlled the ebb and flow of the seas with such exacting precision that Valeil’s navigators became famed the world over.

Rilla the Sweetwater flowed from the northern Dwarfmounts to empty into Valeil’s bay. Her floodwaters irrigated the city and provided it with bountiful drinking water.

Vith the Northern Wind was the youngest, and most capricious. And though he sometimes failed when the whim took him, his breath filled the sails of the Ivory Fleet, bearing them safely across the unbroken sea.

For generations the three gods worked together, and Valeil knew greatness and fame. But while Hamziel and Rilla knew love as husband and wife, mischievous Vith grew ever lonely as he blew across the trackless waves. As time wore on his loneliness turned to jealousy for his older brother, and Vith determined to drive a wedge between tide and river, so that no one was more beloved of the other than he.

Vith seduced Rilla, who, bound to her course and the land, had no experience of the exotic places across the sea. Vith carried intoxicating scents to her, and brought fantastic and strange birds to amuse her with their song. Over time Vith seduced his brother’s wife, and while she loved her husband dearly, he was a creature of tides and tables, and she found Vith’s unpredictability refreshing and attractive.

It was only a matter of time until Hamziel learned of her infidelity. The elder god’s rage was a terrible thing, and the tide became a flood that pushed back the waters of the Rilla nearly to their source. Hamziel took his wife’s power and chained her in place in the high mountains, where the cold would keep her forever frozen in the dark, unlit passes.

The people of Valiel despaired as their crops failed and they went thirsty, but Hamziel was intractable, as was his nature.

Vith was shocked to learn that while he had set out to seduce Rilla from spite, he had grown to truly love her. He confronted Hamziel, and the two battled in a storm that sunk the vaunted Ivory Fleet to a ship. Finally, in a titanic hurricane, Vith drew out Hamziel’s essence, and flung him far from the sea, away from the place of his power. With Hamziel’s last breath he cursed his younger brother, swearing that Vith would never know true love.

The Northern Wind despaired. Though he could cross the sea, he could not climb the mountains to Rilla’s prison. Other winds held sway there, and would welcome no foreign go to travel there, deaf to his entreaties. Finally, he gave up his divine power, freeing himself to go where he would, but at the cost of all his might.

Vith claimed the Dwarfmounts, following the frozen rocky bed of the river that was once his love. He found her in a high cleft, drowning in darkness, trapped and frozen. With the last of his strength, Vith gathered the warmer air from the south, and cast it at the mountains, allowing her to thaw and flow.

The effort came at a terrible price, and it was exactly a year before he could gather the strength to go to her again. But when he finally did she was frozen once more. Her course had been too greatly altered, and she could not reach the warmer climes before she froze anew.

The city of Valiel was ruined, and soon passed into decline and dust.

As for Vith and Rilla, they live on in an endless cycle. Vith frees Rilla to flow from her icy tomb, only to see her freeze again before he can rejoin her. High in the Dwarfmounts you can hear him wail, like the echo of a tornado lashing against the silver gleam of the ice.

A Mythic Puppet Show

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