Here, today, I have worked on something that could possibly be the emergence of the world in which the story takes place.
The legend had been passed on for generations. Fathers had told it to their children at bed time. Bards had entertained taverns full of drunks with songs based on the tale. Scribes had copied endless books whose pages were filled with the words of the legend. Everyone knew the story of the legend, even if they didn't always agree on the details. The legend continued to live on far longer than anyone that had taken place in the event that inspired it. Still, the story continued to be told and passed from generation to generation.
Like many great stories, big and small, this legend began in a tavern after a few drinks. A group of companions from a distant land had stopped for a hot meal and good night's rest. How many in the group and where they came from varied from telling to telling. They were just finishing their dinner and contemplating climbing the stairs to their rooms when a local farmer burst through the door. His hair was singed and his clothing had oddly shaped burn marks on it. He was coated in sweat despite the cool night air. He uttered one single word before collapsing on the floor. This word remained the same, regardless of who was speaking the legend.
The waitress, who was also the farmer's wife, dropped her tray of tankards and hurried to his limp form on the floor. With patience and a calm that was exceptional at the time, she checked him for injuries and began belting out demands. She ordered a handful of regular customers to their home to check on her children. Two others she sent to the village apothecary for specific herbs to treat her husband's burns.
This wasn't the season for travelers so there were a number of empty rooms in the inn above the tavern. With a look at the building's owner standing behind the bar, the waitress nods upward. Her eyes pleading as her lips contain the fearful screams and mournful groans she wants to release. He gives a nod of acknowledgment. She grabs the hand of the largest man in the tavern and asks him to help her move the unconscious form of her beloved husband. The two of them carefully transport the farmer upstairs to an empty room and lay him down on the bed. There, the wife continues her treatments as the medicines she requested arrive.
The men sent to the farm return to the tavern s the wife finishes her ministrations and collapses in a nearby chair. She waits patiently and watches for any changes in his condition as the rest of the story unfolds in the large room beneath her. The different versions of the legend vary in regards to the exact words used to describe what the group found at the farm. However, they all agree on the general conditions at the farm.
The farmer's plow lay on its side, charred and broken. All that remained of the plow horse was the back half of a smoking skeleton and the foul smell of burned flesh in the air. The front half of the animal had vanished down a deep chasm that dropped far below the turned soil. The pit had opened in front of the farmer as he prepared his land for the planting of his crops.
The walls of the pit glowed with shifting and moving reds and oranges. As though they were made of living flames. The bottom of the pit couldn't be seen. Just more menacing light the further down one looked. One of the villagers tossed a rock into the pit in order to listen for it to hit bottom and gauge its depth. There was no answering crack of stone on stone. Instead, a bestial roar echoed up and caused the villagers to all leap back from the edge of the pit. All of this was relayed by the breathless folks that had been tasked with investigating the farm. Their words mingling as the tale moved from mouth to mouth.
Days passed. The farmer remained in a deep slumber despite his wife's nursing. He neither improved nor weakened. His burns were slow to heal, but showed no signs of infection. The hole in the field was being watched over constantly. There were only two changes in the field. A cloud of smoke began to emerge from the depths of the pit. Over time the smoke thickened and darkened. What, at first, was faint white wisps evolved into a thick column of black so dark it seemed to suck in all the light around. The smoke could be seen at night. Its darkness being so much deeper than a moonless sky.
The other change was a matter of sound. The initial roar that sounded after the rock was tossed in started a reaction. Numerous guttural growls and grumbling roars followed. As the days wore on, the number of voices and volume of each increased. Mixed in with the beastly sounds were occasional words and phrases. Nobody, not even the village scholar, was able to interpret the language being spoken.
At midnight of the 6th day, something finally happened. A hand the size of a cart wheel with sharp ebony claws and rippling skin slammed down on the rim of the pit. A second clawed hand quickly appeared next to it. A roar louder than any heard before accompanied the emergence from the smoke of a head that could only be described as demonic. As the rest of the beast's body rose from the cavernous pit, numerous impish figures quickly scampered to the surface around the large figure. The imps chittered to each other as the demon rose to a height more than the largest house in the village. The beast stretched and took in its surroundings.
According to the legends, the injured farmer's eyes opened the same instant the hand slammed against the ground. His wife had been checking his bandages when she saw his eyelids flutter open. She would always insist that the eyes of the man she had fallen in love with were different in that moment. They seemed to glow with a light that defied the darkness outside. A pure light, of the clearest white. A clarity that she never knew could exist.
He sat up, the light from his eyes giving his face a faint glow. Once more, all the tellings of the legend agree on what words he spoke. “The war has begun.”
Where things go from here and how I introduce the rest of the inhabitants of this world will wait until another time.