Nárilethál: the Song of the Forgotten One

The 1586 Epic of Nepámir

Forum RP Award to Best Roleplay, First Position (January 2022)

Translated and adapted to modern prose by Pétra Ódazh, professor of Ancient History at the National University of Privétia Tauríllien

[justify]I offer thee, Vandel, my voice, so through it can be revealed the life of Nepámir the Toréi. There was no place he did not arrive to, sometimes in need, others by force, and he became father of us all, the Cukish, the richest nation the Urçá has ever witnessed.[/justify]

The hero was born in the most lavish of all the Matorélik cities. If someone ever visits what is left from Toré, full of obsidian, their eyes will glitter in awe for the years to come. The Great City who gave birth to the Great Man sat between the Sea and the Mountain, houses of Aréu and Fóras, deities of opposed nature but brought together in the islands obliviated in the course of time: the harmony needed to conform a place where humanity can live, since Tunsé evolves the entirety of existence, making the universe harmonical for her dearest creation.

This is how Nepámir came to life, surrounded by the effulgence of a blessed place.

To be rich does not share meaning with wealth or power. Nepámir was not in possession of either, nor was his family. Both his parents were dedicated to the noble task of fishing. The couple had been created as an agreement of Nézhwa, his mother, with Bórta, his father, in order to save his father’s family from loosing all freedom. Their debts would be solved in exchange of Bórta’s family becoming part of Nézhwa’s, which was not wealthy but had enough possessions to be in charge of solving the issue. Nevertheless, their love grew, and they engaged in the same task, until Nepámir arrived.

A disease had taken off her mother the ability to bring additional members to the family. Adoption was neither a possibility, since they did not have the position required for it. However, Nepámir was truly a gift from the Sártor, for he was a healthy and cheerful child. They truly could not ask for more.

So cheerful he was, but he did not almost have any friends. Those were difficult times, when friendship was only a way to earn status, and no affection could be found on it rather than the one created for the target. Spending almost all his childhood fishing with his parents and helping them in their tasks was part of the circumstance. But Nepámir was full of bright feelings, and he found some people of his kind. He had a good friend, Anqáli, whom he met in the fishing trips to Karúna, where she was from. Karúna is renowned for its variety on sea products, so sailing and bordering the island to get there was always a good time for his parents and the revenue they took, and for Nepámir and Anqáli to meet.

Anqáli and Nepámir had fun with the simple distractions children have, even nowadays. Specifically, they loved to go to the beach and and see who could find more shells. They took for themselves the ones they liked the most, but there was one day that they found two shiny ones with a deep amber colour. They made a necklace for each other with fishing thread and the amber shell hanging in the centre, so their friendship was now made official. Simple and common artifacts in material like these two show how their value is only determined by what we attribute to them.

Life is plenty in fortune, but unfortune is its necessary balance. On a windy day, Anqáli’s parents fell off the boat and Dilmen drowned them. Anqáli was taken care by Nepámir’s family for some time; she wanted to stay with them, since her grandparents did not treat her in right terms, but consuetude forced them to take Anqáli to her family to not face the consequences. Nepámir then met the feeling of sadness for the first time, and he wished he could meet Anqáli once again, but his youth arrived and his desire was not solved.

Life continued in its balanced movement for Nepámir, but his attitude towards it had changed. He learnt to hide his sorrow by showing the most splendid of joys, so his family would not worry about him. Whenever he felt able to, he asked his parents about Anqáli, but they truly could not answer, since Anqáli’s grandparents, despite living in the same island as Káril, had silenced her in a life of servitude and isolation. As he was leaving his childhood, Nepámir wished to rescue her friend from her peonage, and that wish took him to desire a life of wealth and possibilities.

The passage from childhood to adulthood began, and Nepámir witnessed how the children of privileged birth were introduced into the art of knowledge. He considered those occupations of little use, but he nonetheless liked to secretly listen to some classes in the morzhán* on his free time from fishing. Progressively, he was becoming bolder, and even when he was obedient to his parents, he started to argue with them: they warned Nepámir of how it was a high risk to meddle into the nobility’s affairs, but he did not understand or did not want to follow their will.

Nepámir observed with great interest the high society’s costumes. Their children’s dresses were dyed in purple and they wore a single nacre ornament hanging from their right ear. The fisher boy wished to be able to present an image so, but that was not the path life had for him. They entered the morzhán in a queue, on the way to meet the tutor, who was sitting in the main hall. One by one, the students kissed the tutor’s hand, and seated for the daily lesson. Nepámir was glad to not be part of such a strict and boring ritual, but the manners, the speech and the contents he heard about were the discovery of a different reality.

*Morzhán: space used for community events in the upper Ancient Cukish society, such as classes for teens or decision taking by the ruling families.

Nepámir hid well behind the walls of the rooms around the main hall, but one of the students eventually noticed his presence, as he saw a silhouette moving behind the columns in the entrance hall. Nepámir panicked, as he noticed he had been discovered, but nothing happened in the following days. However, that student kept on looking at the place he had seen the silhouette, so Nepámir turned more careful and worried about his integrity.

One day, the group of students left, but that boy who suspected of a presence was called by the tutor to speak about something. Nepámir tried to listen, but the conversation was held in a more private tonality. When the matter ended, the tutor and the student seemed to each one go their way, but when Nepámir was exiting the building, he was suddenly grabbed from the back. He tried to escape, and ran to the room he liked to hide in. The fisher was now safe, until the figure of the student came in front of him, with his pearly ear and his short hair making the ornament even more shiny. “I knew it!”, he cried out.

Nepámir recited as the plea required:

‘I beg you for all your ancestors in their glory, do not take me with mine yet!’

‘Pious to the divine, but rogue to your fellow. Who could be someone with knowledge of the good manners but not part of the city’s best?’ Nepámir got as answer.

‘A student, as you are.’

‘Tell me something I could believe. Why would you hide from the rest of us?’

This is the dignified answer Nepámir gave to the student:

‘The ancestors I begged about. They are honourable, and I keep them in high esteem, but they did not grant me blood of your condition. I do not want a higher status, neither wealth or power: my only desire is to increase my knowledge, to hear what I cannot see, and to see what I cannot be.’

‘And I desire to speak like you do, but I can’t. Leave the noble speech for when you need it. You have found a good friend, whom from this day you shall call Káril. Your nobility isn’t of blood, but of intentions, and so is worth to be praised.’

‘My name is Népa. I hope we can continue being friends, even when I shouldn’t. Will you keep my presence secret?’

‘You can keep my promise as true, Népa. We’ll meet tomorrow in this same place.’

The two, of similar ages, minds and souls, but different conditions, continued meeting after each class and talking about the marvelous wisdom they heard. Nepámir was attracted by the teachings on how the city worked and was ruled, while Káril’s thought was invaded by the desire to make music as beautiful as he was shown by the teacher. Ironically, their fate was to not perform their interests:

‘I love the sonority of the kólta*: nothing can stop my will to play and dance to its music. However, I wonder how the master is able to retain such an amount of air in his cheeks. Look how I failed today in trying to play it’ Káril complained.

‘I will not try what I cannot achieve’ Nepámir answered.

‘And yet you manage to escape everyday to attend an event in which you have no place.’

‘Yes, and? You are next to me, then you can surely say I can achieve it’ Nepámir said, covering his words with irony.

‘I did not need you to fool me more than I already have been today’ Káril replied, bothered.

‘I can just return to my highly honourable task of fishingboy. Why should I be meddling with the best of the society instead of filling the vacant space I am leaving these few moments?’

Káril remarked: ‘What sort of friend have I found in you? Yet your presence is more valuable than most people’s.’

‘Look, esteemed presence. You will not develop skill with only a try. I did not caught any prey in the sea for the first months, and I have not yet been able to get high valued products. Your noble breathe will need to grow in strength and length, as my arms are doing at this age’, explained Nepámir.

‘Népa, I am noble, as you mentioned. I cannot spend my time playing music. I will get the best kóltas in my meetings and celebrations, but that is not a path I can take myself.’

‘How is it that you will be so busy? What will you be labouring?’

‘It is not that. It is who I am. I am not a usual noble. At this point you maybe should know me, so you know the risk you are taking by interacting with me in these circumstances.’

‘I know who you are. You are Káril, someone I keep as dearest, whatever your origins are.’

‘I am Káril Hwéstale, Népa. My family has been ruling these lands for a century. My mother is Ánfre Hwéstale, who you surely know is the current Mórna of Matorélik**. I hope this explains my trouble with this matter, and that you keep secret who your friend is.’

‘In the same way I keep secret my presence here, so I will with your origins. May Vandel hear my oath.’

‘You are a nice person, Népa. You do not know what lies behind the curtains of power. You are hiding well, but be careful. Now that you know this, I will try to visit the fishing neighbourhood in a week. You will see me in an official parade, to which you must be discreet, but there will be a banquet, and I will escape from it. Two friends will come with me, wait for us in the Cliff and we will tell stories, speak about adventures, and how miserable our life actually is.’

‘So it shall be, milord’, Nepámir joked.

‘What, our meeting or our miserable life?’ Káril countered him with another joke.

‘I would argue for both.’

‘May you be forever damned, my dearest idiot. May we meet tomorrow again’, Káril ended.

*flute with a similar sound to the Peragian olo and the modern Shonerian bagpipe. It influenced in the creation of the latter.
**this being the chief of the Matorélik Alliance that ruled over most cities of the archipelago.

Nepámir walked again over his secret steps towards the morzhán and directed them to his home. He was afraid of loosing Káril like he lost Anqáli: the circumstances were different, but, while our mind resides inside us, it can take unwanted paths and make despicable links. He had never had any connection with power, but his now best friend was the future ruler of Matorélik. Fate sails in perplexing journeys.

His parents had always been humble, but smart and skilled in developing their tasks. When he reached his home’s door, Nepámir found them awaiting him: certainly they had seen him coming beforehand. The boy crossed the door and found unpleasantness in his parents’ countenances. Their words sailed in a dark, moonless reflection of their feelings:

‘O son, what reason will you uncover for us regarding your repeated absence? How do you want us to stay at peace when we do not know if you are?’ Bórta asked his son, sternly.

‘I come back everytime. That should be enough’, Nepámir replied.

‘What if you do not?’ Nézhwa swiftly pronunced her question. ‘Have you ever known, in your nineteen years of life, how, everywhere you are, you will be exposed to dangers? You have not, but we, your august parents, truly know. For your own benefit, please tell us where you have been all this time.’

Nepámir took a brief breathe, which allowed him to think of a credible answer, and then cast his response:

‘I have a new friend. I meet with him everyday in the centre, exactly where I tell you constantly that I go.’

Nézhwa was surprised by the answer’s simplicity:

‘How is it that we have had to ask you about it, and you have not told us by your own will? We appreciate immensely that you are making new friends, especially after what happened with Anqáli. Do not be so shy in the future, my jewel, all we tell you will make you improve, regardless of its good or bad sonority.’

‘I offer you both my apologies, dear lifebringers. He and some of his friends will be coming near our home in a week. I hope they become source of your pleasure, as Anqáli did in the past. His name, if you would like to hear it, is Káril.’

‘That is an uncommon name for people of our condition’, Bórta replied. ‘It might happen that you become his partner and bring us a better status among the Toréir.’

‘I do not wish that, father. Cease on your mockery about that topic for once.’

‘If you only had made a link with Anqáli, even just a promise, we could have changed her unfortunate path.’

‘Yes, but I do not regret from my decision, and you both are source of pride for your respect to my feelings.’

Nepámir’s words finished the conversation.

Three days before the event, Káril appeared one afternoon with a kólta in his hands. Nepámir wondered about it:

‘What is the future ruler of our common vessel* doing with such an ignoble instrument?’

‘Shut your mouth up! A good side of power is that I can use it for my own desires. And that desire is showing you how I have improved in these days. The kind of tyrant Matorélik will suffer.’

‘May my ears be shattered to accomplish thy will, milord.’

‘So shall they be.’

Making sure there was nobody around, he smoothly played the kólta, improving in ability since the first time. Nepámir hearkened, interested in the strange yet harmonic patterns Káril described. It reminded the fisher of the sound birds bring in the morning, alternating brief and long tonalities.

‘I need to admit your ability earned in these days.’

‘I cannot trust the brave fisherman Nepámir admitting his misjudgement. Has some deity blinded your senses?’

‘Shut your mouth up!’

*here “common vessel” refers to the government of Matorélik conceived as ruling a ship. The expression has remained in current day Cukish.

Nepámir returned home, happy after that funny moment with Káril. Exiting the morzhán, he found a familiar face standing in his way. Nézhwa, his mother, surprisingly appeared, and so the son’s words of surprise sailed in her direction:

‘A blissful vision I experience, mother.’

‘A surprising one, truly. What is a son of fishers carrying out in the most noble morzhán? Is it here where you have met your friend?’

‘It is the right place. How is it that you are here? Visiting the market?’

‘Indeed. Come with me, little kiwi.’

The market took place not far from the morzhán. It was a key event in which peoples of all conditions, and even some of outer lands, gathered, traded and showed themselves. Toré’s Market enjoyed an undoubted fame. Many products Nepámir’s family had caught were now sold there by Ryóli, that ominous woman who always put the family in trouble. Nézhwa held Nepámir’s hand and directed his steps:

‘We should change our path today, Népa. It is a good environment to speak about the matters you will now hear, but we will both agree in how Ryóli should not have any news of our conversation.’

‘What is it that you will tell me, mother?’

‘Let me answer with a question. Do you know why Ryóli takes possession of most of our products?’

‘I certainly do not. I know we have a debt and we are paying it, but I do not know what caused us to be deprived of our ability to sell by ourselves.’

‘As you know, Ryóli is in charge of making sure that Toré’s accountability is in right terms. She is the left hand of the Hwéstaler, whose head, Ánfre, rules over the whole Matorélik. Few people are aware of this, but her first son and heir is said to be taught in Toré’s morzhán. I am not a believer of whispers, but be careful, little bird. Those who attend the morzhán are always of relevant and well-known families, and so it is a risk that you, of low origins, are related to them.’

Nepámir hesitated for a moment, but gathered his strength of word and answered:

‘It will be alright, mum. Politics scare me, there I have only found a friendship I expect to increase in beauty. Káril might be of whatever status, but I will take care I am not exposed, for the wellbeing of father, you and me is my biggest concern.’

‘I trust you, lovely son, as I have always done. You are every day nearer to adulthood, and you are starting to make your own friendships and decisions, but I will always be behind you, pushing you to achieve your goals, protecting you from the evils of this world, and smiling when you turn your face to me, in your darkest hours when everything seems to fall upon you. Keep this safe inside your soul.’

Nézhwa put her arm over Nepámir’s shoulder and kissed him in the forehead.

Nézhwa returned to the topic of Ryóli and the debt, slowly stepping out of the market for a moment:

'So, you were asking about the debt. Your father’s family has had a debt for many years with Ryóli, as you know. I believe we have not ever explained you in detail about the issue: your father does not like to speak about it, but now you are grown enough to acknowledge this matter and its importance.

Your grandfather, Alég Mainéas, was a mariner at the service of the Mórna in power by then. He was one of the few to have her grace while not being of a noble family, since your grandfather saved her once from drowning. Both sailed once to the country of the Taurílliener in what is called now “the Grand Expedition” and spent five years there trading goods with the local people. They became abundant in posessions, and your grandfather came back expecting to include the Mainéaser among the great families of Matorélik; but, dear son, we are ruled by blood, not by artifacts, and your grandfather was expected to lend everything he had earned to the Hwéstaler. The Mórna was pressured by her family and the rest of families in power to give the order, and so she did, betraying a friend who had saved her life only to keep her rule intact. Alég had ran out of many of his posessions when the confiscation happened, so his family was required to serve the Hwéstaler and live under their rule until the debt had been paid. My mother was also a friend of Alég, but she did not betray her friendship and made an agreement with the Hwéstaler: the Mainéaser would join our family, the Eryá, loosing their name but keeping their freedom, while we would pay the debt with the course of time. That was not the total price of the union, for I had to marry your father from a young age so the union would enter into effect. And you are the product of that union.

That is why your father was excited about your new friendship with someone of noble family: if you and Káril joined together, we could have a branch of power in our favour at last. But I do not agree with him. We should not desire to get involved in the power nets, it is a life of worries and sorrows, and when we finish with our debt, we will break our bondages with it at last. Keep your friendship with Káril, but be fully aware of our condition’, Nézhwa finished.

Nepámir spent the whole moment hearkening carefully, and his face was built in stone when Nézhwa went silent. Both then returned to the market, not after Nézhwa hugged his son:

‘It will be alright, my little kiwi.’

Now it was the night before the meeting with Káril and his friends. As all nights, Nepámir left a candle next to his head, since darkness was one of his most terrible fears. No matter how he was now a teenager and no longer a child, he always needed a light to protect him, even the tiniest, as the stars that guide mariners in their long journeys through windless nights. He was being pressured by his parents to stop this dangerous practice for their house, but he could not help with it. He lit indeed his saving light, and laid onto his bed.

Nepámir’s dreams were usually vivid, and scary at times. However, this night would not bring him anything similar to a dream, but to a feeling. A vision. As fog creates blurry shapes in the morning: sometimes real, others pure images of the mind. The Toréi found himself in the absolute whiteness, and there was no possible escape from it. He walked, and walked again, now completely aware of his moves, as if awaken, only to find him stepping on a white ground, below white skies and in an endless white room.

In a sudden blink, he could see a human figure, approaching him. He ran towards it, in desperation, but the only he could uncover from this mystery was the cloak and hood the figure was wearing. He stopped, amazed, scared, idle as a stone, and opened his mouth to speak, only to shut it and listen to the figure’s words:

‘Who are you?’

Nepámir gave an obvious answer:

‘But who are you?’

The figure moved his hand towards Nepámir’s shoulder. The boy felt the scariest he had ever known, and he could feel the sweat running down his head and back. He stood in the same position, until the figure shouted:

‘Wake up!’

Nepámir felt as if the world was shattering into pieces. That feeling was kept from his sleep to the night he woke up into. The whole house was trembling. He tried to not fall from his bed, and successfully kept his candle in his hand before it could lead into woe. He watched the room fall upon him, unable to move anymore, until it stopped, all of a sudden. He then ran into his parents’ bed:

‘Beloved creators of my life!!! Have you seen that? Are you okay?’

‘Yes, Népa’, Bórta spoke. ‘We are, thanks to Ryódos. The ground has trembled, as it did around a decade ago, in your youth. You probably do not remember that now. That is the fate of living next to this mountain: there’s divine life inside it, and it moves.’

‘You have definitely heard the stories of the divine creator’ Nézhwa spoke. ‘When the time arrives, it brings new soil and new life to Toré, but its rage can also destroy the previous beings. Nevertheless, it should be alright, this is just how it is, and our ancestors have lived here generation after generation.’

‘I heard you well, mum’ Nepámir answered, and then formulated a question that turned his fears into embarrassment. ‘However, is it alright if I sleep with you both in your bed tonight? I know we will be safe, but I cannot deny my terror. I should not do this…’

‘Do not continue, Népa’, his father interrupted him. ‘You are growing, but we are still our parents. And if we can protect your soul by letting you sleep with us, then so it shall be.’

Nepámir started then to cry unstoppably: that was a feeling he went through only a few times, but watching the house tremble and, even if at that time he did not give it the value it had, also having that strange and terrifying dream, made him feel deprived of any safety. He searched for consolation in his parents’ arms, so he gave them a hug and laid in their bed, switching eventually his tears and desperation into relief and a smile, before he fell asleep at last.

Káril could not close his eyes again that night. The strong structure of the palace showed itself useless to stop the shaking, and the boy was able to notice how a crack had appeared in the walls, right behind his head.

The walls were profusely ornamented with bright-coloured paintings which depicted the most famous journeys the Hwéstaler had carried. Káril always found them exaggerated, having known of some of them and their events from his own mother, but he especially loved the one in the great hall, where he was sleeping that night. It was an extensively detailed depiction of what the Toréir called “the Grand Expedition”, one of the most glorious stories for the Hwéstaler. Behind him, the crack had crossed through the face of the Mórna of the time, Sáne-Éinda, but it had stopped right next to Alég Mainéas’ body. He had wondered already some times about the fate of that mariner, he disappeared of all records after his return from the journey, and not even his mother told him a single thing about him when he asked.

Bearing a candle in his left hand, he left the room and its bonfire and searched for Qúnsir, the caretaker of the palace and man in charge of Matorélik’s heir. He found him standing at the palace’s door, staring at the moonless night, as a blind man does not need his eyes to gain knowledge of the events surrounding him:

‘What was that???’ asked Káril. ‘For Hwésta’s sake, Qúns!! What on the Urçá is happening?’

‘The mountain is shaking, Highness’, Qúnsir responded. ‘It is alive. That has been a strong move, one I have not felt in at least a decade. You know about the mountain’s divinity, right?’

‘Yes, my august mother told me the story before coming here. Is the island going to expand now?’

‘Perhaps’ answered Qúnsir. ‘I have gone outside so I could see if smoke was coming out of the mountain. It seems like not, so at least tomorrow’s parade should be safe. Only as a caution measure, I would recommend your mother spends the less time possible here after the parade. We do not know what may happen later: you can spend the rest of the night under the trees, if you get afraid of how the palace trembles. But I believe it will be alright.’

‘I am not as scared as I was before, thanks to speaking to you and seeing nothing major has happened, but I will go to the forest’s bed. Spending the night on a different place will do good to me. Thank you, respectable man.’

‘Remember to not wake up very late. Your mum should arrive before the morning arrives.’

‘I will’, answered Káril. ‘I doubt I will continue sleeping anyway.’

Brightness covered all of Toré that morning, and Káril found himself slightly alive. Sleepiness had reached him right when the night was gone, but he was used to that feeling at that point. The mixture of the soil shaking some hours ago and his mother arriving a few hours later was not helpful in any way. She was late, in fact, since the sun was up and she had not yet appeared, and that made Káril be in worry, for his mother was prone to anger, and her son had to bear the consequences of it.

Káril would not be wrong: the first sight he got of the Mórna’s arrival was her frown and the daggers she spat towards her companions. Letting some air flow through his chest, Káril took a step forward and approached her.

‘I salute you, magnificent Mórna, mother’, he said, extending his right arm and moving then his palm thoroughly from left to right.

‘Hello, son’, she answered, although only by words.

‘What kind of panic is happening in this town, forsaken by all decency?’

‘A little before this day arrived, the ground moved in ways unseen in years, mother. I have not even been able to sleep afterwa…’

‘It is understandable that you, a visitor in this place, gets scared’, answered Ánfre the Mórna, ‘but all these people should at least be aware of the place they live in and the mountain they are next to. They should be thankful too, I have not seen important damages in my path from the harbour, and I have repaired the few I have considered necessary. That is the reason why I have delayed, I was inspecting some structures with the grón* in charge. On the other hand, I have not had many issues when sailing here, the arrival time was the expected.’

‘That is good, then: I rejoice for your fortune. What is the plan for today, mother?’

‘The parade will take place in the afternoon. During the morning, I will be visiting the main families and individuals of this place. It has been a while since I do not visit Toré. You can come with me and learn the practices you will need to address in the future, or you can stay with that poor girl you are friend of. Do not think that I have not been told about her.’

‘I was not going to leave you in your visit, mother’, Káril replied. ‘You do not come here every day: there will be other moments for friends. To begin with, when the parade finishes, for I have agreed to meet with them at that time.’

‘The heir starts to make his own decisions… Nice. Who are the other people?’ asked Ánfre. ‘I hope they are not of lower families.’

Káril hesitated: ‘Only a… good friend I have met in the morzhán. We get few chances out of the lessons to even speak or play. It will be a great night.’

‘If you return late, you are already aware of the consequences. Behave as you are expected to.’

*grón: deputy of the Hwéstale in each town of Matorélik.

Soon after the day had started to fall into the Lands of the Ancestors, Nepámir started to hear the joyful sound of drums and kóltar. Twice as joyful it was for him, since that announced the arrival of Ánfre Hwéstale with her heir, who was his friend, and the proximity of a night of an importance he did not yet know. According to Káril’s words, the parade should end after reaching the port’s waters, near of which he lived, and then he should direct his steps into Péqo’s Cliff, behind the town. But before that could happen, he called his parents to get into the multitude, embracing the ruler of Matorélik with them.

‘You heard the story from your mother, Népa’, said Bórta. ‘We cannot be evident with the Hwéstaler, but we will go with you to see the parade, if that is your wish.’

‘I have been wishing for something special like this to happen for a long time, father. Thank you both for coming with me’, answered Nepámir.

When the parade reached Nepámir’s neighbourhood, he could hear his parents’ comments about it. Bórta remembered the parade his father took part in, and that overpassed clearly the one they were watching now. “Everything has diminished ever since, not only us”, he said. Nepámir was enjoying the vision of strange, wild beasts with fierce countenance, people supporting birds coloured as he had never seen anywhere, as well as dozens of Hwésta’s Lovers wearing long dresses dyed in indigo, a dark colour in contrast with the shiny, double-bitted axes they were handling with both hands. Nepámir admired their sinuous march: all of them at once moving their heads towards the ground, took then one step, rose them to the front, lifted their axes and shouted to the skies. The drums and kóltar stopped wherever they passed by.

And as they did, they gave way to the staff of brass and obsidian. Ánfre Hwéstale, blessing with her look the crowd that admired her might, and letting Káril lead her steps after Hwésta’s Lovers. There took a step to the front Nepámir, joyful among the populace, staring at the one who would rule his and his country’s destiny, his friend, the future image of those who disgraced his family, who seemed to be equally disgusted in his position. Nevertheless, Káril’s tired face produced a smile and a bright look when he was able to distinguish Nepámir’s face, performing then a nod in reverence. Nepámir answered in the same, modest way, and returned to his parents’ side.

‘There they are, parents! The Mórna and her son! They are dressed in long capes of pure white and indigo, like I have always heard in the stories.’

‘Delighted to know your happiness, Népa’, answered Nézhwa, briefly. ‘Since the parade has gone by and the evening is near, will you meet with your friends in Péqo’s Shrine?’

‘Yes, beloved mother. That is where I will direct myself into now.’

‘Right, but be very careful. It is the first time you are out of home on your own at night, and everything you see during the day changes its shape into the unclear and the unknown. Take the torch with you, and give us a hug before you go.’

Nepámir kissed both his parents’ faces and hugged them.

‘You already know it. Everywhere you are, we will be with you. Do not hesitate to turn your head back if something goes wrong.’