Flavor Pieces (Years of Gold)

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This page documents various flavor pieces that seek to enrich the world of Pansaer and introduce people to its folk and customs. A flavor piece could be anything: a short story, a poem, a beautiful illustration and the like. They're listed alphabetically and not in any specific flavorful order. New flavor pieces will appear here from time to time, so be sure to check out any new additions.

The Fable of Groke[edit]

FIRST - The Gift of Groke

Ere the rise of the Spine and the planting of the first trees did Overgod battle with titan and god. As he cast them out of Pansaer, the world became brighter and warmer, and those hidden could come out to greet and to sing praise to Overgod.

And so glad was He of their worship that he said "Lo, and behold! You who have little form, and are but candles in the wind and ghosts in the rain, will be given plentiful! For am I not Overgod? May I not give as I will?"

"Yes, yes!", they said, and waited for his gift. They all went into a line, the countless thousand formless forms, and they could ask for a gift from the Overgod. First came Spider, and her spirit said simply: "I wish for a small form, black as night and silent as thought. I wish to hide, and harm no one." And that gift was granted.

Next came Toad, and he laughed as he said: "Foolish little Spider, for little now you are! You could ask for greater gifts, and all you seek is hiding? I, Toad, wish for an entangling tongue, the better to hunt Spider with, and bulbous eyes for seeing, and love for the waters of Ahti!" And that gift was granted.

In their greed and hunger did the forms ask for greater and greater gifts still; came Rabbit, came Fox, came Wolf, came Bear, came Elephant, came Dragon. One by one they wished for greater and greater gifts, until second-to-last came Stygian, and wished for the highest glory, the brightest light, the sharpest eye, the clearest song. And that gift was granted.

As the animals surveyed their new forms with bright eyes and cursed those who had got more, came the last of the forms - Groke. He came before Overgod, spent a moment in though, and said: "I wish to be a Shadow."

All the animals and races and kings and gods laughed. "Will you be our shadow then, foolish Groke? Will you track us, be bound to us, beneath us? Fy! and Fo! that you are foolish! You could have been greater still than Stygian!" And they laughed and they jeered.

But Groke answered them: "Yes, I will be your shadow. Relentless on your trail, always clinging to you, hiding just beneath you. I will be cold, colder than the underworld, and every animal and race and king and god must bow down to Groke Who Is Cold. Overgod, I wish to be a Shadow."

And that gift was granted.

SECOND - The Hunt of Groke

Then came Spine and Tree and Star, and the new-born forms inhabited all of Pansaer. Every crevice, every hall, every cave and hiding-place was occupied, and the world was crowded. "Overgod, o Overgod, what have we done to deserve this? Every way we turn doth the thousand of our kin lie, and ne'er can we find peace! Overgod, o Overgod!" But Overgod was silent.

This was the fault of the animals. For the gift of Overgod was slow to pass, and those born with greater gifts were slow to mature, slow to be born, slow to die. The greatest, Stygian, could never perish, but nor could they grow, or change, or be born. The least gifts were quick to pass, away from the sight of the gods. Fox and Rabbit and Mouse and Toad were spawned by the thousands, and Insect-Kin filled air and sea with their bulk. Only Spider was alone.

"Now it is my time", thought Groke then, "for the first day has passed. Everything falls into night, and Groke Who Is Cold will be as Shadow; they live by the thousands, where I am alone, but all good things must come to pass. And then Comes Groke." Saying this he left his halls of night beyond the edge of the edgeless sea, and looked down upon Pansaer.

There was Rabbit, and Groke approached him, but Rabbit ran away, for he had asked for speed like lightning and wit like no other. But he could run only so far, and many are the traps and the falls of the world. He grew tired, slowed down, collapsed in the end; and then Came Groke.

There was Wolf, and Groke approached her, but Wolf bared her teeth, for she had asked for teeth like steel and fur like the bones of the earth. But she could not fight forever, whereas the Groke was but a Shadow, impossible to strike. Her teeth snapped at nothing and she fell; and then Came Groke.

There was Dragon, and Groke approached him, but Dragon laughed, for he had asked for mind unbending and a fire like the sun. But all minds are clouded by darkness in the end, and his fire could not prevail against Groke Who Is Cold. He roared and raged, but in the end his fires were put out; and then Came Groke.

There was animal and race and king and god, but all things come to pass; then Comes Groke, the only one who is eternal, for is he more than a Shadow? Nay, he is naught but a fleeting Shadow, unto which all things come to in the end. There was Stygian, the eternal, the perfect, but even he could not prevail Groke, so he fled into worlds that are Other, into the sea. He may not come out, for Groke awaits eternal.

THIRD - The Gift of Groke*

"...others great and cold,
like their father..."

There was Spider, and Groke approached, but Spider did nothing. "I know you have come, wise Groke. You have the gift, not the greatest but the most cruel, and you Come and then there is none. Come then, Groke Who Is Cold. I will not run, or fight, or laugh. I am but a little Spider, and I know I may not hide from you."

At this Groke stood in wonder, and then asked Spider: "You will not run?" "No", Spider answered. "You will not fight?" "No", Spider answered. "You will not laugh?" "No", Spider answered the third time, and closed her many eyes, for she knew Groke was to Come. But nothing came to pass.

At long last Spider opened her eyes, one by one by one, and looked up. There was Groke Who Is Cold, but there was something in him different: a warmth, a softness, a grace. "Will you then, Spider, wiser than the wise Groke, love me?" asked Groke. "Long are the years in the halls of night beyond the edge of the edgeless sea, and lonely. Will you not love me, and make love to me, and marry me? For in my eyes your beauty is untarnished, and your wisdom would better the world in unison with poor Groke."

Spider smiled, and she took his hand, and they said their wedding-vows there in the night. And Groke took her to the halls of night beyond the edge of the edgeless sea, and there they had many children. Some were small and dark, like their mother, others great and cold, like their father, but they all were given a gift from their father Groke: they had black blood in their teeth, a venom like no other, with which the hiding kin, the dark kin, could rise against those who in their pride had asked for greater gifts.

Groke sent his children back to Pansaer, where they dwelt forever to come. Often, it is the small who change the fates of the great; is it not so? Yes, sing the children of Groke.

*A note on the translation: the western and eastern dialects are a rather shoddy tool for translational work, especially from a source as old and archaic as the tablets in question. Therefore, there may be confusion about the names of the first and third fables of Groke. The difference in the original is minor but of key importance: the first one reads morgo ataeid, literally "Groke noble-gift", in the meaning of "gift for Groke". The second one, however, reads morgo atae'el, literally "Groke gift-given", in the meaning of "gift from Groke". This translation caused quite a bit of head-scratching down here at the Observatory, thanks to the ancient -el-suffix used in the last one.

FOURTH - The Worship of Groke

Man the Mortal despised Groke, but could do naught to him. In secret they harbored a grudge as black as the starless sky, and his pride made him think he could better Groke himself. In unison with Dragon and Elfin, Man the Mortal studied secret ways, until the Word and the Law was as clay to him, and he could mold the world to suit his needs. The three summoned the cold into themselves, becoming as cold as Groke, and said they had bested him.

But Groke Who Is Cold laughed, and cried tears of happiness. "You have bested me no more than a slave has bested his master by working harder. I may not take you now, but your days are always numbered, where I am eternal. May you be cold, and great, and dark! for it is of no importance to me. The end is always there, and then Comes Groke."

By these words the hatred of Man grew to be a fire brighter than that of the Dragon, and Dragon crept away, fearful of the wrath of Man the Mortal. Elfin still stood by his side, and said unto him: "Let us preserve ourselves with alchemy and lore, and with spice and herb, and with salt and sand! That way, we may yet elude the Coming of Groke." And this they did.

But Groke laughed twice as hard, and his tears fell and formed a great river. "You have bested me no more than an otter has bested the river when he has dammed it for a time. I may not take you now, but your days are always numbered, where I am eternal. May you be old, and damned, and lasting! for it is of no importance to me. The end is always there, and then Comes Groke."

By these words the jealousy of Man grew to be a cold greater than that of the Elfin, and Elfin crept away, fearful of the envy of Man the Mortal. Now there were none by his side, and he stood alone. "Foul Groke! Foul Groke, o Groke King-of-None! I hate you with a passion, and if I can not be like you, then none shall remember you!" And with this Man the Mortal began a great spell of forgetfulness, to make everyone forget Groke Who Is Cold.

But that was the last straw! and down Came Groke, old and great and wrathful, and shiver did Man the Mortal before him. In a great field had Man placed a colossal straw-man, the size of a mountain, and he had planned to burn this wickerman with fire, so as to make all forget Groke Who Is Cold; but the fire was still unlit, and smoke did not yet reach for the skies.

"How dare you burn my likeness, and scheme behind my back! Damned shall thy kind be, and all who come after you! Now Comes Groke!" With this, Man the Mortal broke into tears. "I merely wished to be like you, Groke Who Is Cold. Eternal, all I wish to be. For I asked for nothing when the Overgod gave gifts; I stammered, and coughed, and hiccuped, and my turn passed."

Groke felt sorry for Man, who had been given so little. "Hear me, Man, who is Mortal! I would give a gift unto you myself; but I believe you already have one. For you Strive, Man. You Strive, and you Grow, and you Change, and you Become. We all are bound by our fates, our destiny linked with others. Dwarf is Dwarf, Elfin is Elfin, Dragon is Dragon, Stygian is Stygian. But Man the Mortal is what he chooses to be: Man the Mortal, master of his fate!"

"But this I ask of you, Man: do not forget me! Lo, for with eyes that are True I see that, ere the end, you shall pass me. Remember me! Send the purest among your numbers to that straw-man on the plains. Send those untouched by age, sword and flesh, and then burn it! the better to remember me by."

And thus it came to be.

FIFTH - The Passing of Groke*

Countless were the years that Groke Who Is C
day he said unto Man the Mortal: "Now
eyes that are True I see that the e

And thus the change came: M
nor cold, for I am the on

*A note on the translation: The lower part of the tablet in question seems to be missing - I hope the damage was not suffered during transportation. Further excavations have to be carried out, naturally. The translation is as complete as the scholars of the Observatory can make it, although our funds have greatly been reduced by the thoroughness of it. Perchance a small donation?
Translated with care and love by M. in the year 3192

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