Birth of Light and Darkness
The sun shone upon the City of Aerun and the Palace of the Gods. It appeared to be Spring in Aerun, but it was always Spring. While the seasons turned on the prime material plane, it stayed the same in Aerun. Day and night came, but the skies above the city were always clear of clouds, the sun shone warmly each day, never too hot for comfort. Flowers in the gardens, courtyards, and atrium of the marble city bloomed each day, never going to seed, never wilting, only living the same cycle every day for so long as the city had existed. When the night came, the sky remained clear, glittering with the stars above Adun’s skies, and its three moons went through their phases, same as they did on the planet on planes below them. While the day was as unremarkable as ever outside the palace, within there was a tension amongst its denizens. Today, the Mother Goddess, Nydoini, was to give birth to twins.
These two children were to be her sixth and seventh children, and perhaps her last. When she and her husband, Orran’sulani decided to have children, it was calculated. They would bring forth a child for each element they deemed; Air, Water, Earth, Fire, Life, Light, and Darkness. To achieve this, their conceptions were carefully plotted to correspond with the stars that would support the desired element, and Nydoini practiced ritual after ritual to bind the child to the element while still in her womb. First had been Zelan, God of the Air, born fourteen years earlier under an auspicious star, followed by Maris for Water, twelve years earlier; Brecha for Earth, eleven years earlier; Alaezo for Fire, eight years earlier; Entra for Life six years ago, and now the twins for Light and Dark due now. The final elements were somewhat intangible compared to the first four, and Light and Darkness were rather distinct. Orran’sulani and Nydoini were well aware of the duality in the nature of Light and Dark, and even though there was a similar duality in the other elements—water to fire, air to earth—the nature of light and darkness was on a level far above that. It always had a tendency to come together. While they did not expect to conceive twins (instead they focused on a child for Light), it seemed that as soon as Nydoini began the rituals of elemental bonding on the very night they conceived, the laws of the universe made the decision for her in this case.
Unlike her first five pregnancies, Nydoini was struck with great concern with this birth. Not for the strains of carrying twins, no, it was the fear of what a child of darkness could bring. There was nothing inherently evil about darkness. It was a neutral element on its own, like any of the others, but it seemed that when it was a part of a living, sentient being, they were inexplicably drawn to things considered negative; wrath, lust, pride, greed, envy... emotions and lifestyles that were corrosive. However, in her life before coming to Adun, Nydoini had known beings associated with the element of darkness who managed to balance these aspects and lead a life as a decent being—not perfect, but not overly indulgent in their vices. She could only hope that this child could be that. That her dark child could exist in balance with the others, and with the world itself. She would see to it, it would require dedication, patience, and above all, emphasis on balance.
Zelan had seated himself on a plush red embroidered cushion in the room outside of the designated birthing chamber where his mother labored within. The young god was a mere fourteen years old, but the eldest of his four—soon to be six—siblings. Clad in robes of white and blue with silver adornments, he patiently sat with arms and legs folded patiently. His long, silvery-blue hair flowed down his shoulders, meticulously combed so that not a single hair was out of place. He was nearly an image of his father with his pale hair and blue eyes and his long, tapered ears, though his dusky skin was of his mother. Upon his back were four ephemeral wings, not yet fully developed, but they were still visible in a ghostly, silvery form. Orran’sulani had six, while Nydoini had only four, marking their father as the more powerful god. Zelan would stand on par with his mother for spiritual power when he was older. His siblings were a mix of features, some so unique that it seemed unlikely that they shared the same parents.
The four younger gods were scattered across the room, each dealing with the anticipation of the birth of their youngest siblings in their own way. The God of Air was unperturbed, however. Mother had bore all five of them so far with little complications, and though she now was due with twins, Zelan did not worry himself. After five successive children, two more at once should not be much cause for worry, in his eyes. Admittedly, he knew very little of the actual process of birthing, aside from the basic anatomy. For each of his younger siblings, he had waited like this in this peaceful room, providing comfort to each new child to experience the wait. Perhaps it was his airy nature that made it easy, being able to adjust to the changing winds without effort, or perhaps it was a strength derived from being the eldest, the one that the younger children turned to for guidance, that kept him at such ease.
Maris, now, the second eldest, was the one who busied herself with comforting her siblings. Or at least, the current youngest, Entra. Maris was two years younger than Zelan. The young Goddess of Water busied herself tending to more concerned siblings, but her own ephemeral wings betrayed her confidence when one looked close enough. While as translucent and under developed as his own, they still swirled with shades of blue and violet, like a turbulent sea, shifting from the serene cerulean to tumultuous purple with each distant, muffled cry from their mother beyond the heavy platinum plated doors. Maris hunched over Entra, the youngest until now, only six years old. She was to be the Goddess of Life, and she lived up to that destiny as such a gentle and compassionate child. Young Entra knelt on a white cushion, worrying the sleeves of her robes. She did not cry, but Zelan could tell that tears would not be far off from the attention Maris paid to the little blonde goddess. From beyond the door, a cry of birthing pains echoed from Nydoini. Entra gave a start and clutched the golden-tanned hand of Maris that lay upon her shoulder with her smaller, paler skinned hand. Maris hushed the girl, and laid her vibrant blue-haired head atop Entra’s, stroking the long silken blonde locks of their youngest sister.
Elsewhere in the room, Brecha and Alaezo waited as well. Brecha, third born, was a stout girl, handsome and patient. Her coloration was warm; her skin bronzed with rich warm brown locks, and brown eyes, a pair of barely visible golden wings shimmering in the sunlight that fell through from narrow windows that lined the walls of the marble chamber. She lounged comfortably on a white brocade couch, perhaps even more at ease than Zelan. Brecha had always been strong, and that could easily be attributed to her alignment with the element of earth. Zelan remembered eight years ago, when they waited on the birth of Alaezo, that Brecha had been thoroughly unconcerned, and the same with Entra. Brecha herself had been a rather hard birth. She had always been stout, and her alignment of earth seemed to express itself in her stubbornness to leave the comforts of the womb. A slight smile touched Zelan’s lips as he recalled how distraught Maris had been at the time. It took three days of labor for Brecha’s birth. When the time finally came, Nydoini was exhausted, she wailed and cursed obscenities, rattling the young water goddess’s resolve. Admittedly, with the work it took for their mother to deliver Brecha, Zelan was a little worried too. Now it was Maris who was providing the comfort to the most frightened of them all.
Alongside Brecha was the fourth born child, Alaezo, the Fire God. He was a sharply featured, almost beautiful boy with straight black hair, golden eyes, tanned skin, and wings that were just as expressive as Maris. Just like her, the changeable nature of his element was expressed in the shifts in color of his wings. For now, they burned a dull orange, almost ochre shade. While he seemed nonchalant, almost trying to mimic Brecha, the anxiety he suppressed was plain to see. Zelan smirked to himself, then he tipped his chin down and closed his eyes. They could be in for a long wait with two children on the way, after all.
However, the distinct wail of a newborn child caused his tapered left ear to perk up, followed by him raising his head. There’s one, he thought to himself. Now he felt the churning of anticipation in the pit of his stomach. Zelan tried to restrain it and maintain his composure, but he couldn’t deny his excitement. The first cry continued to wail. How long until the second child came? Was the second well? He and his siblings all stared intently at the door, waiting for an announcement. Usually, they would wait until their father invited them into the room, where their mother rested in the bed with her newest child in her arms, or at her breast. Just how long would they have to wait now? Zelan could barely contain his eagerness, so quickly he had gone from apathetic to excited, but he tried to hold onto his composure. The cries of the newborn soon began to fade, and Nydoini’s cries of effort continued.
With a heavy groan, the doors parted just slightly for Orran’sulani to slip out. Their pale father wore a grin on his face as he held close to the small, swaddled form in his arms. Gently shutting the door behind him while his wife continued to labor within, he crossed to the center of the room where his elder children awaited, nearly gliding across the floor in his sweeping white robes. He stopped before a blue cushion, adorned with beads and mirrors and knelt upon it. “Come, children, meet your youngest brother,” he spoke gently, so as not to disturb the baby in his arms.
Maris and Entra quickly crossed the floor to his side, Maris kneeling beside him, while stood beside her. Zelan rose to his feet and followed, while Brecha and Alaezo came from the other side of the room, Brecha trailed behind her more eager Fire-aligned brother.
“He is to be the God of Light,” Orran’sulani added, his voice filled with pride as he presented the child in his arms. “His name is Idraen.”
Zelan stood above his siblings, staring down at the newborn. Idraen seemed smaller than his other siblings, likely due to the cramped quarters shared with his other sibling. Though his skin was flushed red, Zelan predicted he would be pale, and a fine wisp of translucent hair on Idraen’s head made Zelan think that this boy would have their father’s pale hair too. Idraen’s eyes slowly blinked open, one at a time to see the faces surrounding him. His eyes were blue like Orran’sulani’s as well, but they could just as easily change as he grew older. They all had been born with blue eyes, after all. Idraen wriggled slightly in his swaddling, then his eyes blinked shut again.
“Where is the other one?” Entra’s small voice peeped from beside Zelan.
“Coming soon,” Orran’sulani assured her, his eyes drifting down in wonder at the new child. Their father was a loving man, the look of wonder and pride in his eyes never changed for each child Zelan had witnessed. However, his adoration for Idraen seemed slightly different, perhaps because Orran’sulani, who himself was tied to the element of Light, felt a more personal connection with Idraen for this reason. Or at least, the potential for such a connection.
Again, the door groaned, this time a fair-haired assistant of the midwife peeked her head through. “Your Highness, the Queen requires your presence,” she spoke. Zelan was not sure what she was, be she an angel, elf, or other higher spirit. The midwife herself was a higher spirit from an ancient race, scattered across the universe. Very few of her people had come here, but she had been sent for before Zelan’s conception, and now resided in Aerun, seeing to not only the goddess, but others who inhabited the city.
Orran’sulani raised his head, anxiety in his expression, “I will be there in a moment,” he replied, then turned to his children. Looking to each, he finally settled on his eldest. “Zelan, please hold your brother for me,” he said, looking up at the God of Air, very carefully passing the small swaddled child up to him.
Momentarily dumbstruck at the request, Zelan hesitated, then took Idraen in his arms. Orran’sulani was reluctant to let the baby go, but Zelan had held enough of his newborn siblings to know the care required. Zelan cradled Idraen to his chest and nodded to his father.
“Thank you, my son. Maris and yourself are in charge of the baby. I trust you,” their father said, his final comment was almost like he was affirming the trust to himself. Orran’sulani rose to his feet, carefully examining Zelan’s hold on his newest brother, then he turned and walked back to the birthing chamber at a clipped pace.
For all his experience with his younger siblings, Zelan found himself rather awkward with the small, fragile bundle in his arms. He had never before been left alone with a newborn. His siblings flocked around him, and Maris sidled against him, resting her head on his shoulder to gaze down at Idraen. Tenderly, the Water Goddess stroked the baby’s cheek with her fingertips. “He is so beautiful,” she murmured. However, she took note of Zelan’s awkwardness and sighed lightly. “Oh, Zelan. Let me hold him,” she fussed, then slipped her arm beneath his. Zelan obliged her, allowing her to take Idraen. She was much more at ease with it than he was, and she seemed almost natural with a baby in her arms.
Maris gracefully lowered herself onto a cushion, cradling Idraen in her arms. Entra, who had been eagerly waiting at her elder sister’s side, now sat beside Maris and stared in amazement at the new child. Alaezo had discreetly moved behind Maris to get his own look at the child, but Brecha seemed rather disinterested after getting her first glance. The Earth Goddess moved up alongside Zelan, he spared her a glance, then turned his attention to the door. There were still cries of effort from their mother within the birthing chamber, but the rest of their siblings were concerned with the first of the twins.
“Is mother well?” Brecha asked him suddenly. Maris and the other two didn’t hear her. Idraen had awakened to her and Entra cooing to him, gave a whine, and Maris offered him her pinky finger to suckle on.
“I don’t know,” Zelan responded earnestly. He caught himself too late, realizing that he had to put his younger siblings at ease. “I am certain that she will be unscathed. The midwife will let no harm befall her.”
Brecha nodded and returned her attention to the doors, not seeming entirely convinced.
Writing done for Aserra, both by the creator, and works by members.
1 post •Page 1 of 1
I started working on this prologue, but I feel like I need some guidance. If anyone has the time to give me a little critique, please do so. I'd feel better with some guidance. Does it flow well? Does it feel awkward in any places? Glaring errors? I don't really know what to think of it.