Gaming thing

Ben will probably be bored, or misunderstand, or be confused…

“Mama, tell me the story of our island?”

Môna’s history? You never tire of that, do you? Let’s see. Well, a long time ago, the Grey Witch ruled here, and all sorts of dark beasts and monsters answered her call and her laws. Môna was covered in snow and ice, and people lived in fear. Then the Alfar came. They saw the Grey Witch as their foe, and they met her in battle for many, many years, until they defeated her. They covered the island in trees, and planted a forest, which became their home for a long time.”

“When was that, mommy?”

“A long time ago, dear. Before any humans lived here. A thousand years, maybe more. But the Alfar were wise in the ways of nature, and humans came to them, seeking knowledge. They invited the dwarves to build their halls under Mount Aran, and to seek out the last of the Grey Witch’s demons in the darkness.”

“Then we came along.”

“Yes, little one. The humans came next. First they came in small groups, ones and twos. The Alfar taught them the ways of animals, plants and trees, and they built the stone circles to study the stars. And the Wise taught the Alfar a thing or two. One of the Alfar bet half the island that no human could win a courtship game with an Alfar princess, but the human won, and the princess gave him the Darra Valley.”

“Then the soldiers came.”

“Yes. For a time, people lived in the Darra Valley alone, and they lived in peace with the dwarves and the Alfar. Then the legions of the goblins came, and they built the bridge and the causeway, and defeated the Alfar and the dwarves in battle. So we lived for a time as slaves. But eventually the legions had troubles of their own at home, and the Alfar rose against them, and defeated them. So the goblins left. Then the Alfar and the humans and the dwaves made a pact between them, and chose a prince. After him came more.”

“The princes of Môna!”

“Yes, the princes. We think there were nine, but today we only know the last three for sure: Halgrim the Good, Grimnar the Wise, and Narghil the Mad. We only know them because the Jarls and their followers came from across the sea, to burn the settlements and cut the forest, and make their towns in the north. They burned Darra Town, and took slaves, and fought with the Alfar. The dwarves hid from them, and so we humans bore most of their attacks. Halgrim fought them for years, before his son Grimnar forced them to fealty, and they became part of our island.”

“And then grandpa!”

“Yes, well… your grandfather played only a small part, after all. Prince Narghil was mad, as I said. Crazy. He wanted to rule the world, and burned part of the forests of the Alfar. He forced your grandfather and his friends to fight for him, and they crossed the bridge to the mainland to conquer the world. Only, the world didn’t want to be conquered, you see, and the Alfar were angry with him. So they attacked him from behind while the armies of Kymris held firm before him. Your granddad was just little then, so they didn’t kill him, but a lot of men died.”

“Then the Kymrics came across the bridge.”

Yes, and they besieged Darra Town for a year, while they took all the human towns on the Garden Coast, and the Sunward Coast. Even the Barren Coast submitted to the Kymrics, and the dwarves brought tribute out of their mountain to the Kymric princes. It was a dark time, and the Kymrics didn’t much like us here on Môna because we were different than they were, more aware of magic and more aware of the spirits of the land. Maybe we worship the Sun, the Moon and the Eight Sages, but we know the older powers, too: Salmon and Bear and Wolf and Deer and all the rest. They don’t like us for that.

“Which is why we don’t talk about them, right?”

“Right. But we can call upon them in secret when we need to. Can you make the secret sign for Wolf? Good. And for Salmon? Good. What about Bear? No, that’s not quite right… do that one again. Good. You’re getting better at all that. Now show me how you pray to the Sun? And the Moon?”

“I can do all that, see? It’s easy. And I know all the sages, you know that. So then what happened?”

“The King of Kymris was a greedy man, and he was not content with ruling both men and dwarves. So he went after the Alfar in their forests, and tried to make them bow down to him. But the Alfar would not come out and fight him, so he went into the forest after them, he and all his men, his whole army; many Mônans went with him, too, near the village of Rhovanar.”

“And none of them ever came back out again.”

“That’s right. And that’s why we don’t go into the forest any more. After the battle at Rhovanar, it just wasn’t safe. The Alfars kept them out, as they keep us out. So don’t ever go into the woods. All right? But the Kymric prince, Prince Owen, didn’t go in. So he was the new king, and he thought Môna was part of his kingdom. Your grandfather — my father — didn’t like him, so he joined the Archers’ Rebellion fifty years ago.

“And he died at the Battle of Valis Hill.”

“Right. You’ve really got a head for this stuff, you know?”

“What happened then?”

“King Owen of Kymris made his son prince of Môna, then, and he rebuilt Darra Town and the castles. He campaigned against the Jarls and brought them into his kingdom, and made them his lords. He was a good king, even if he wasn’t our king. But he grew too bold. In his sixties, he summoned your father and your uncles and other men, and trained them as soldiers, to fight a war against the Albans. King Owen he lost that war, twenty summers ago, and he died.”

“Then the Albans came?”

“Yes. King Henry of Alba invaded Kymris, and he sent messengers asking for help. No one in Môna liked the new Kymric king, so we sided with King Henry. He promised us our independence, unlike the king of Kymris. Then the plague came, and we couldn’t fight back when the Kymrics burned the fields. All the years of fighting made people weak, and destroyed the fields. So we had no food, and hungry people get sick more than well-fed ones.”

“And that’s when everyone died.”

“Not everyone, but a lot of people. One out of three, or so they say. They were hard years, and the winters were very bad. But your dad was around some of the time. And then right about when you were born, five years ago, Alba finished conquering Kymris, and their king came here. And King Henry’s son, William, conquered us. We’d been fighting Kymris so long, that Alba swallowed us easily. We were easy prey, and fell quickly.

“But then William got an arrow in him, and Henry got the fever.”

“Yes. Fortunately, William died somewhere south of here, and not on our little island. But so now Alba has four kings when it should have one, and we have no prince of our own. A man from Alba, Duke Edward, rules Kymris, and his man, Count Theobald, rules us for him. And they side with one of Alba’s kings, a man named Richard.”

What about the archimandrite, and the hierarch?”

That’s for another time. The fire is dim, and the candle’s burned low. Now rest, little one. It’s time for sleep.”

Wow that was fun to write.

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