Blood and Gold

by Chris N

The Tale of Karan al Mejir and the One Who Watches

In the dawn of years the People of the Steppe, the People of Blood and Gold, stood at a crossing of their path. The world of the great steppe was changing: shifting sands had begun to eat away their grasslands and rolling hills, and many of the Golden Streams had stopped flowing. The People had a choice: to change along with the seas of grass and become something new, a People who could live among the great sands that were eating their home, or to instead challenge the sands, to try and remake the steppe as it had always been.

The People turned to the One who Watches, One who knew the mind of Karan Al Mejir, the Lord of Blood and Gold. The One who Watches was at this time a young man, only recently come through his trials, so that his hands still bled and his heart still mourned for his lost innocence. He heard the people gravely, as befits the One, and when they had done, he spoke to them, saying “The answer to the Sands lies among them, not here. One must go out and seek the fate of the people among the endless sand, guided by the Lord of Blood and Gold. That one must then return to guide the People.”

Many names were called, much debate was had and many duels were fought for the honour of guiding the People through their turning-point, but at length it was concluded that there was none among them who was more worthy than any other for this quest. The People returned to the One who Watches and asked him for guidance in their choice, and the One called upon Karan Al Mejir and knew His mind, and said it was His mind that his own servant should undertake the quest.

And so the One who Watches left the People of Blood and Gold with no fanfare, walking out into the night and crossing into the great sands, where he journeyed for nine nights and nine days, alone, among the shifting and boundless wastes that were destroying his People. He called often upon the Lord of Blood and Gold but he heard no answer, and in the cold of the ninth night he wept in fear and anger against the Lord. He cursed the name of Karan al Mejir, and as he did so, lightning struck the sands beside him, once, twice, and a third time. He lay in terror that he would die, and when the dawn came, he saw that around him the sands had been charred to shattered glass.

When the One Who Watches returned to the People, he was changed. He wore broken glass about his brow, and his eyes burned and his mind burned with them. He began to instruct the People, who greeted him as a messenger from Karan Al Mejir himself, and his instructions were unusual. A city should be built, he said. A single place, a place holy to the Sands, and the People of the Steppe should become the People of Glass. When the name of Blood and Gold was spoken to him, he became enraged, and stormed and wept incoherently until the speaker had been removed from his presence.

The People began to build the great city, and began to learn the arts of glassmaking which the One who Watches taught them. He taught them to make glass from sand, but also to make glass from air, and as time went on, he became less and less able to manage the affairs of the people. Other servants of the Lord of Blood and Gold; the One Who Sings, the One Who Speaks, the One Who Learns and all the others, met to discuss what must be done, as it had always been among the People, that the mind of Karan Al Mejir should be known and his servants should choose from among themselves one who would face His trials. But when they sought the mind of Al Mejir, there was no answer, and in consternation they turned to the One who Watches.

He killed them all.

The war-leaders of the People saw what he had done and declared him unholy and mad. They tried to raise the people against him, but many of those who had joined with the One in the making of glass stood for him against the People. For the first time, the People were broken, family fighting family, son fighting father, sister fighting brother. The war-leaders of the People learned to call upon the aid of Karan al Mejir, and of Mahal bet Tessir and Surat bin Tessir, the Lady of Cunning and the Lord of Rage, and all of their cousins although there were no priests to teach them. They fought the servants of Glass and they laid waste the City, and much of what was left of the steppe was given to the sands as they fought. At the last Karan al Mejir came himself in the ruins of the City of Glass and confronted his erstwhile servant, and asked him to return from madness but the One Who Watches struck out at him, and they joined in unholy war. The People of the Steppe and the People of Glass fought around them, but as the titanic struggle raged the land around become treacherous, and all humans were forced to flee. As they ran, those who dared look back could still see the One Who Watches and the Lord of Blood and Gold as they remained, locked together with neither holding the advantage.

When the tattered refugees dared return, they found the land desolate and no trace of either Karan al Mejir or his demonic opponent. Those who learned to know the mind of the other Lords were told that Karan al Mejir was no more. The Lords themselves mourned him, and the People of the Steppe… we changed, we learned, we became the Tribes of the Shifting Sands and we sought our pride in new ways. Where once we were ruled by the sun we are now led by the moon, and the silver that the sands reveal sustains our honour as our Lords' gold once did.

There is no longer any One Who Watches, and the name of Karan al Mejir is kept alive only in tales, but stories say that in one family, of one Tribe, there is still one in each generation who passes out into the Sands and returns to us as the One Who Waits. For what they wait, and why, they never tell us but there has been One Who Waits for countless generations, and there will be until the time comes when one who goes out into the Sands returns as the One Who Sees.

This page last updated: 3rd May 2006

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