Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
How Hearthmother Birthed Fire
t was during the Great Darkness when all we knew was either dying or already dead. The people were surrounded by our enemies both of Darkness1 and Otherness2. The Sun Chief3, leader of the Fire Hearth had been slain and all his children fled to no one knew where. Even though once-bright Yemalio remained his glory had been much diminished with the death of the Sun Chief. He kept the Darkness and Otherness at bay as best he could though. Foundchild could find no prey. Votank kept the people together through right actions. Hearthmother could find naught to feed the people though she scoured the land for many days walk around. Without prey or food the people were naked, cold and starving. Votank feared that the people were doomed unless someone could find food and warmth. He asked Foundchild to set out once more to seek what prey he could find and asked Hearthmother to go look for fire. Foundchild set out with those few weapons he had left while Hearthmother set out with empty hands since she had naught else.
Hearthmother crossed the land looking for fire but could not find it anywhere. She spent much time hiding from the creatures of Darkness and Otherness. When she saw people who did not look like enemies she asked them if they had seen fire but all answered her nay. Finally she found the merest wisp of a spirit who said that she had seen the Sun Chief and his hearth pass down into the Underworld. Hearthmother thanked the spirit and sought for a passageway that led to the Underworld. Many an enemy she had to avoid but finally she found a slim crack leading downwards. She decended to the Underworld and looked for the Sun Chief and his Hearth. She had to use all her wits to avoid the monsters of the Underworld but finally she saw a dim glow in the distance that she knew must be the Sun Chief. She crossed the barren land to the glow where she found the Sun Chief's entire hearth clustered around their leader. They were all dim shadows of their past glory and Hearthmother could have wept but that she needed all her tears for the people. One of the warriors saw her approach and challenged her. She told him of her quest and he laughed bitterly. "We have no fire among us, Mother. We are as you see us, dim relections of our past glory. But you may approach our leader if you will."
Hearthmother approached the Sun Chief and almost cried when she saw how dim and lifeless he was. He lay there barely glowing and she despaired of helping her people. But then she realized that he was speaking to her. She leaned close to hear his faint whisper better and heard him speak the following words, "Although my fire is gone and my light is dim, my seed may yet spark a fire. If you can quicken my seed you may take what you have worked for." Hearthmother felt hope at this and quickly agreed. For three days and nights she endeavoured to quicken Sun Chief's seed and finally at the end of the third night she knew success. Sun Chief's seed though meagre, burnt her inside like fire and she was almost crippled by the pain. Thinking of the people she straightened herself with an effort and took her leave of the Sun Hearth.
Slowly she crossed back over the barren land and back up the crack to the Upper World. She hid to avoid those drawn by the spark within her and as she traveled she grew larger and larger as she came closer to term. On the surface she passed as quickly as she could over the land back towards the people. When she reached them she wept again for all lay as though frozen or dead save Yemalio and Votank. When she reached the hearth she gasped and dropped to the ground as childbirth came upon her. With Votank and Yemalio as unlikely midwives she laboured for seven days and nights only interrupted by the attacks of those drawn by the spark within her. These Yemalio managed to fend off. Finally with a mighty push she gave birth to a bright gush of fire which landed on the bed prepared for it by Votank.
The fire warmed the people and drove off the Darkness and Otherness. Soon thereafter other magic brought the Sun Chief back to the sky and Foundchild returned with food. Thus is it that we say that fire is Hearthmother's last child and honor it and her.
2) Otherness is the most feared foe of the Votanki. For the most part it consists of chaos because for every proper way of Votanki behaviour there is an opposite and improper chaotic behaviour. Of course foreign ways in general can be referred to as Otherness as well.
This page last modified September 26, 2002
Last updated September 25, 2016
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