Sun and Moon in Nature
Not long after meeting Yearling, Zacharion came before his mistress, the very Witch herself. Now worn, white-haired and withered she was, yet in her aged form a careful eye can sense the past possession of vitality and vigor in her youth for she still displayed prowess and health made possible by hard-won knowledge and age-old wisdom. In this moment, Zacharion saw what drew his master to her generations ago. Though years from the experience of man-like passion, even as a boy he could see that a younger Witch, in naught but her full-body tattoos, would be irresistible to lesser men.
For her part, the Witch quickly assessed this boy before her. Ilker’s final apprentice, just now at the point where the passage to manhood appears on the horizon, for all his skills and ability, is still a boy and not a man- certainly not a fully-matured man like his master. Yet she had heard of what he’d done, and seen some of it herself; this boy was no weakling- even at the end, Ilker’s eye for quality did not fail.
“You have that which I placed in your late master’s care.” the Witch said, bluntly, “I do not grant audiences lightly, boy, so produce it.”
Zacharion drew forth the icon with the Witch’s mark from the bag. It was a disc of carefully knapped obsidian, polished to a glass-like sheen, with the carving of a crescent moon inlayed with silver and edged likewise.
“Three of then you’ve returned now.” Yearling said to Zacharion, and then turning to the Witch he said “Why is this important?”
Zacharion answered. “Each icon is a symbol, crafted by the signifier, representing themselves as they see themselves. There are more icons here than there are companions of Ilker, and some of these icons depict scenes that are not pleasant- nor necessary.”
“Correct.” the Witch said, “Ilker understood things hidden from the eyes of men, and he used that wisdom to achieve many worthy ends, but to achieve those ends he had to engage allies that he did not trust. Using icons like this, he could achieve some reliability from those too foolish to see as he did; we who were loyal to him, we made icons to cover the purpose and hide it from those same fools who did not possess the vision and maturity necessary to understand why we did what we did so long ago.”
“That is as he put it.” Zacharion said, “If less gentle.”
“We now exist closer to a state of nature.” Yearling said, “I understand that this is possible due to the efforts of you, mistress, and the others. Yet it is not truly resolved, is it? Some of these enemies were not destroyed, but merely held in abeyance due to the fear of Ilker, were they not? It is they that now move to renew the corruption?”
“Indeed. An imperfect, yet improved, world made possible by the sacrificing of blood and bone in the wars against the Dark Lords and their cancerous corruption choking the world and degenerating the people into unnatural monsters living in hives wrought of things unliving that drive those sad thralls mad and burn them as sacrifices in pits and mazes to produce the foul fuel for the Dark Lords’ needs.”
The Witch picked up some dust and blew it out before Zacharion and Yearling, forming into an image as the dust fell through the sunlight coming into the place where they stood, an image that spoke. A montage of images, some of figures known and some unknown, showing the youths fantastic vistas both sublime in their natural glory and grotesque in mockery of the same. Then come the wars against the Dark Lords, as treacherous as they were powerful, with Ilker as the blessed commander united the many nations of Man against them. From the coastal lands of the Sea Princes, to the wastes where endured the Sons of Ken, to Solland and the establishment of the Solar Nation and its compact with the Lunar Nation in the wake of the final war- a compact that holds, for now.
Ilker and the Witch sealed the compact with a unity of words and deeds, a binding of Sun and Moon, as old as Man himself and no less sacred or powerful for it. While Ilker’s Solar allies went home to being regenerating and cleansing the war from their papers, the Witch returned with the guarantee of the compact in hand and restored the way of the many Lunar peoples to its proper place in society, by what wiles and words (and wrath) she had to use to get that done. The Sun and the Moon moved about the world, sometimes meeting, often apart, each seeing to the health and vitality of the world in their own way. Then the image dissipated.
“Where is your son?” Zacharion said, wondering.
She smiled. “Where he needs to be, doing what he should be doing, and that is all you need to know for now.” Taking up the icon, she took a moment to admire her former handiwork and see that it is now as it was then- like the moon, like the universe, like herself.
“Ilker was the sun, boy.” The Witch smiled. “He let his soul burn brightly, brining fire to the minds of men and light to the world wherein they lived. He burned away the clouds covering the lands fouled by the Dark Lords, letting them be exposed and cut down. Then he burned away the sickness so the healing could begin.”
“And you would be the moon, then?” Zacharion said.
She nodded. “I am. Where he was open, forthright and without mystery I stood away and let his shadow shelter me. In the dark, when the cool night refreshed the world and the men within it, I do my work. Mine is the hidden way, the path obscured, unable to be taught but always able to be learned. It is a way that rolls from side to side, and not from sky to earth as the sun does. Different, but neither the lesser nor the greater, for the universe needs both Sun and Moon for its health and prosperity.”