Below is one of the nine myths that are told by a character in Wilderness. They are used to reveal the history of Mid Country. I purposefully leave a few loose threads that will be taken up later on in the book.
Lord Human’s Pilgrimage
The Story of How People Came to Exist in the World.
In the old days there were nine brothers and sisters who ruled the world. Among them were Day, Earth, Flora and Beast. All of the siblings had been given or had acquired kingdoms to watch over and protect. The only exception was the youngest, Human, who had no realm of his own.
For four and a half billion years Human lived by himself in a hut. He spent his time studying the world and inventing tools to make life easier. Of course Human was not a complete hermit. He enjoyed century-long feasts thrown by his siblings to celebrate their kingdoms. However, these were always bittersweet because he had no kingdom of his own.
One night, over two-hundred thousand years ago, Human was sleeping soundly in his hut when he was visited by The Shaper, the great spirit in whose mind the whole universe exists. The Shaper spoke to Human. “Tomorrow you will commit yourself to a pilgrimage. On this journey you will visit each of your brothers and sisters and ask them if they have a kingdom to offer you. Several of your siblings will try to help, but it will be your responsibility to choose the kingdom you belong to.”
Of course Human asked, “How will I know which kingdom is mine,” but before The Shaper could answer he woke.
The next morning, Human walked out into the world. He made his way to the place of his eldest brother, Lord Day, the all-knowing and all-seeing possessor of knowledge. Human traveled to Day’s garden in the sun and asked the old lord if he had a kingdom to offer him.
Day thought this request over for a long time and finally formed the fire giants which he gave to Human. The fire giants were enormous creatures filled with love and passion. They sang and danced across the whole world, burning the land, boiling the oceans and turning the earth into a blazing inferno. Human was terrified that his kingdom would soon destroy everything he knew, so he swept them all up and stuffed them into an iron box which he placed in his pocket.
The first generation of humans was a failure, but the young lord thanked his brother and continued on to this next oldest sibling, Lady Night.
Human arrived at Night’s Temple. She is, as you know, the queen of fear, mysteries, and nightly rituals. Lord Human explained to his eldest sister that The Shaper had sent him on a journey to find a kingdom. Night threw a feast for her youngest and, in those days, favorite sibling and thought over the request.
Finally, she brought him a clay jar from deep within her library. She told her brother that the jar had always been a part of her kingdom, and she believed it might be filled with something that was very much alive. Human opened the jar, and out came all of the world’s demons, monsters and nightmares.
These were the Second Generation of humans, and they, in their wickedness, began to destroy the world. Human did not want to rule over anything so purely evil, and so he asked if Night would take them back. She did, reluctantly, and from that point on Night was also the queen of monsters and demons.
Human’s journey next took him to the cliffs of Lord Dusk/Lady Dawn, the keeper of change, borders and boundaries. She/He is the only member of the Nine with two faces, a pale woman’s face for the Dawn and a dark man’s face for the Dusk. Many say that he/she is the most powerful of the nine siblings. While Lord Day is the ruler of knowledge, Lady Dawn/Lord Dusk is said to possess the most wisdom. Human was certain that whatever kingdom Dusk/Dawn chose for him would be one he could be happy with.
But the wise Lord/Lady did not give Human a kingdom. Instead, She/He gave him a silver egg. Dusk/Dawn said that this egg was the most dangerous thing in the whole world and that Human should keep it close to him after he found his kingdom.
Human wished that his sibling could have found something else to give him other than the most dangerous thing in the world, but he accepted the egg and carefully kept it for the remainder of his journey.
The young lord next arrived at the hearth of Lady Earth, queen of homes, farms and mothers. Human was her favorite brother, and she was happy to take him in and cook him a hot meal. When he told her of his journey, she thought over his request all through the night. The next morning she set out to create the third generation of Humans from rock, dirt and mud. These, like the first generation, were giants that towered up into Sky’s kingdom. At first Human feared that like the Fire Giants and the Demons they would cause massive destruction, but the earth creatures barely moved.
They simply sat on the ground and slept, only occasionally waking up long enough to grumble about the state of the world. Human had no desire to have a kingdom made up of creatures so boring, and so he politely told Lady Earth that he had to be on his way.
Earth was pleased that Human would let her keep the giants for herself. She gave her little brother a loving hug and was about to send him on his way when Human emitted a sharp cry and pulled out the metal box that housed the fire giants. It was glowing white from the creatures dancing inside.
Human explained the situation to Earth. She cried out, “Oh those poor dears! Give them to me. I will teach them how to behave.” Human reluctantly opened the box, and Lady Earth pulled the fire giants down into the center of her kingdom. There, she taught them how to behave and speak politely. Occasionally, though, they become overly excited. When that happens the earth shakes, and fire spews out of the heads of the mountainous Third Generation, which have taken root in the ground.
None of this concerned Human, though, who next traveled to the windy fields of Lady Sky’s realm. A long time ago Sky had lost Earth’s first child, and ever since then she had been trying to prove to her sister that she was responsible.”
Human arrived in Sky’s kingdom and told her the story of his journey. When she heard that Earth had made her own race of creatures, Sky thought that this might be a chance to prove how responsible she was and make many of her own species. Sky thanked Human for his visit and sent him on his way without taking a moment to consider his request.
Instead, Sky traveled to Lord Beast and borrowed several land creatures. She used her magic to transform them into birds, bats and flying insects. Mother Earth was not impressed by these and held her grudge against her little sister. Beast then came to Sky and said that while he enjoyed her improvements it was time for him to take the animals back. Sky was left alone and depressed once more, causing her to storm across her realm, sobbing. Rain poured down over the whole world, and Lord Human continued along the muddy path of his journey to his next sibling.
Lord Ocean, the green pilgrim, watches over travelers and tradesmen and all of those close to the sea. Human thought for certain that if anyone would have any interest in someone on a mission it would be this sibling. The only problem was that Ocean had no house or temple. He was always moving about his realm, often causing mischief.
When Human finally found his brother, Ocean was disguised as seven sea serpents and was trying to convince a sea nymph to let him marry all seven of her daughters. Human appeared and revealed that the serpents were in fact his troublemaking brother. The nymph turned herself into sea spray and flew off on the wind. Ocean was so furious that he wouldn’t even listen to his little brother’s request and sailed away to his next conquest.
Human only had two siblings left, The Lady Flora and Lord Beast. He arrived at his sister’s grove first. She was very wise and patient, and although she had already heard of Human’s travels, she listened with the patience of a redwood. When Human had finished his story she made for him the Fourth Generation of humans. These were enormous walking plants with mighty arms raised up toward the heavens.
Human was confused as to why so many of his siblings thought he was interested in ruling over enormous creatures. He tried to take this generation into his care but immediately saw that they were a fierce species filled with self-righteous arrogance and only interested in battling Night’s Demons. There was no depth or compassion to them. They were eager to go to war over the slightest offense. Human was not interested in any such kingdom, and so he returned them to Flora and moved on.
Flora had no use for living things who moved across the earth (that was Beast’s territory). She froze the fourth generation with their many arms still raised in the air. The Fourths became plants, but they still have the features of people. That is why when one looks at the bark of a tree he or she will often see the face of a person staring out of the trunk.
Faces on bark were far from Human’s mind, though. He had one sibling left, and if he did not acquire his kingdom there, he would be without hope of ever finding one.
Lord Beast was sympathetic to Human’s plight, and as always was very generous with his relative’s requests. He stated, “Brother Human, because you have no kingdom, I will offer you any piece of mine that you choose.” He then had Human sit on a soft patch of grass and paraded before him all the animals of the world. Every beast from the smallest gnat to the greatest elephant walked, hopped, flew and crawled past Human displaying their sharp fangs, mighty claws, thick hides, strong wings and deadly stingers.
Finally, the last of the animals, the tortoise with its heavy shell and powerful jaw, lumbered on by, and Human had no choice but to stand up and say, “I recognized none of them as my kingdom. Perhaps this was all The Shaper’s way of telling me that I do not deserve one.”
He turned to walk back to his hut when a tiny, nearly hairless creature, who had been scampering behind the procession, ran into Human’s leg. Human looked down upon her. She was bony, weak and lacked any physical protection.
However, Human searched her mind and found great potential for a mighty species that could be energetic as well as calm; righteous as well as wicked; pleasant, peaceful and militant all under the same skin.
“This is my kingdom.” Human picked up the creature in his arms.
Lord Beast was amazed by this decision, but he nodded his head. “Very well, you may have her. She was only here to be food for the others, anyway.” So Human took the creature with him, and that is how the Fifth Generation of humans came to exist in this world.