Once, the People stood beneath the radiant gaze of Bright Eyes, and alone felt her warmth. She was our lover, a mother to all the creatures of the world, and the beloved lady of the People. Her eye was that of kindness, of protection, of truth. Her mate, the Pale Eye, was jealous of the things of the world and their reverence for Bright Eyes. His hatred of her beloved people caused her to weep and beg that he stay his hand, their conflict all but unknown to those far below. The Pale Eye, cold and bitter from anger and envy, watched as the People sang praises to the Bright, and so he hid his face in the Shadow. He gave no warmth to the People, neither friendship nor hope, and to his mate the Bright Eye, he gave only pain.

As they walked across the land, surveying the whole of creation, preparing to name all things and give them form and fate, the Pale Eye lagged jealously behind. Alone, his eye was caught by a small slip of Shadow which hid beneath a rock and did not desire a name—it desired no name at all. “Let us make a deal,” the Pale Eye said to the Bright, catching up. “I will provide the names, and you will chose which creature to give them to.” The Bright agreed and she smiled at his sudden interest in all the goodly things which surrounded them. It seemed a fair agreement and so they spread the Names among the world.

Jealous of the love that the People had for Bright Eye, all the more evident as she bequeathed unto all things their forever names, Pale Eye chose not to show the hiding Shadow to his mate, to let it stay as it wished and be free of names. And when the Bright had used all the names Pale Eye had given her, enough to name all things she saw before her, they returned to the Sky above.

The Shadow remained as it was, unnamed and unmade, free of form and function given to all others. It used its power to feed upon the People. Pleased to avenge the wrongs done to its father, the Pale Eye, it devoured the bodies of the People, twisting them beyond bone and scale. Bright Eye saw this and exclaimed but Pale Eye would not be moved; he would give her no more names.

Yet among the People rose a hero. His name at the time was Qatol. He was a warrior, a dread-mind-hunter, bringer of food and protection to his brethren. The Qatol fought the Shadow with weapons of steel and jade, but nothing drove it away. More died. More vanished into the Shadow, never to be seen again, their souls lost forever in their unmaking. The Bright eye, weeping as her People died, could do nothing. With anger brewing in her generous heart she sent her youngest son to steal a name from the Pale, with which she could confine and entrap the Shadow, but he fell to the earth with his brothers and sisters, defeated.

No name was ever given, and the Darkness that Walks remained free.

The Darkness which haunts our dreams.

This tale has been adapted from several written for the Legend of the Five Rings role-playing game, and may or may not bear particular importance with the campaign I’m currently running. Not all sleepers dream, and not all dreamers sleep restfully. Somewhere deep within, in places humans fear to tread, something is stirring as our heroes close in on their aims to restore balance to the world…

Header image from Pixabay.com