Stan McDaniel


The Letterseeker


This book is a work of fiction.

Any resemblance to actual persons,

living or dead,

is purely coincidental.


Copyright © 2001 by Stan McDaniel

All rights reserved.



Prologue



A Portion of the

Book of Loves




            Berainn woke in the Empty Lands on the peak of Arem. He reached out in thought, for it was barren there and he was alone. Long he searched, until he came at last upon the immobile sea of Anash that bounds the Empty Lands like a hoop of steel, isolating them from The Brilliance that lies beyond.

            Here on the shore dwelt Vrrjhri, whose thoughts were always turned to the sea and the frozen dance of the waves of Anash. To her the lands behind were void and she did not know of Berainn's awakening. So when his thought approached she was afraid, and she drew Vhialla her Curtain between them as a shield.

            But Berainn glimpsed her beauty ere Vhialla fell. Possessed by great desire, he gathered his untried strength. Then with his left fist that is called Paellen, Greatest of Clubs, Berainn smote the veil and tore it.

            As the stroke fell Vrrjhri knew her folly. She had made the veil rigid, as was her thought before the coming of Berainn when she sat absorbed in contemplation only of the fixed forms of the Timeless Sea. Now, though, she understood Paellen, and with her new knowledge she did not oppose the second stroke, but cleverly reshaped the veil, faster and faster, mending every tear even as it was made. And the speed of her thought exceeded all laws of the Empty Lands, giving birth to a new law, the Law of Erta that some call Time.

            Then along the track of Paellen Vrrjhri's weaving became fluid, spilling forth swirls and swirls within swirls, ever-changing. And at the center of each swirl arose something new in response to the new law: gledes, shining in imitation of The Brilliance.

            Forgetting their strife, the gods gazed in delight at the wondrous stream they had made together. And because of their common joy, great love arose between them.

            Then they perceived that the new Law ordered the streams of Erta into realms, in layers; and by the Law, the layers were three, being the Broad Lands, the Middle lands, and the Narrow Lands. The gods longed to know the beauty of these realms from within, and to come closer to The Brilliance by means of the gledes, for in some manner the gledes shared The Brilliance, but the gods had been kept from it until then on account of Anash.

            In each swirl they found a portion of Vhialla, and in each glede a portion of Paellen. By these they reached the realms, holding converse with the changing things though they themselves knew no change.

            So it is that we know the gods, by means of that portion of them that is within the swirls. But it is also said by The O'Kuern that we ourselves are both Vhialla and Paellen, and therefore not entirely bound by the Law of Erta; though this understanding comes only to a few, and is hard-won.



—From the translation of

Bard-Oggmh




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