The Broken Crown
The Folklore of Disaster
The Folklore of Disaster
By Devlin of Grenscombe
In folklore, disaster takes many forms. It often manifests as superstition, the spectre of past disasters instilling itself in people as ritual, becoming a background to their day-to-day lives; inconsequential, subconscious actions that belie a deeper truth. Most common, however, is the allegory and metaphor that pervades rhyme and tale.
I shall start with a nursery rhyme. You have likely heard this one.
Bencana’s pow’r turns glass to sand,
Hetik raises flames of blue,
Mahavinas has plagues at hand,
Ason brings forth trees to glue.
Ciri wakes the hounds from sleep,
Inati freezes warmth to frost,
Creach spoils food you thought would keep,
Zaina turns your sword to rust,
Karita’s face is dark at noon.
This, of course, refers to several types of misfortune that befall the common people: plagues; disease; winder; and the like. The names, it seems, are words for “disaster” in several languages akin to the common tongue. The final line alludes to the standard imagery of the Raven Queen, Death herself, as a hooded figure, her face in shadow.
There may, however, be deeper meaning. There are nine lines; nine disasters. Nine is a portentous number; nine dynasties of the Odreïan Empire; nine Evil gods; nine Petty Kingdoms. It was not until I heard another folk tale I believed this to be any other than coincidence.
This tale is fragmentary, and is being compiled by one Storyteller of Kirkston. He spoke of his research into a story he had heard alluded to, but had been unable to piece together, for all written evidence seemed to have been systematically purged. This, he referred to as Lyra’s War, or the War of Wishes, or the Sealing War. It details a war that has no surviving written record, but had it truly occurred would have been cataclysmic and plane-altering.
It concludes with the magical binding of Lyra to reality, and her naming as Karita. Could this be the same Karita from the nursery rhyme? Which is to say, is Lyra the Raven Queen, the goddess of Death? If this is the case, it is vastly contrary to the dogma of the Unbroken Circle, that the pantheon is immutable and eternal. Another, more recent rhyme may be connected:
The death of a King to open the way
Bastion’s fall at break of day
A call that mortal folk must heed
The scythe that comes to cull the weed
The moon shall cover the sun in full
And Underdark release N——
This is first attested in writing around the Great War, but is likely older, and may have been first told as prophecy. Indeed, it alludes to several events from the war: Emperor Temerys III’s death; The Siege of Askor; Temerys IV’s use of magical constription; the Scythe Plague of 561GE; and the eclipse of 15th Gathering 560GE. I have found no reference to N—— in any literature, and as I set my pen to paper, I find it difficul—
As with the eclipses, which are attested to occur once every 320 years, the prophecy could be cyclic. Thankfully, I will not live to see the next cycle, which is set to occur in 318NK, some five decades from now.
The eclipses reach totality at noon, which calls to mind the phrasis from the earlier rhyme, that of “darkness at noon”. This often suggests shadows and hidden things, as with Karita, but may also suggest secrecy and censorship. Since any written evidence about Karita herself has disappeared, it seems likely it has indeed been censored.
Thus, what may we infer from this? The name Karita has passed into the Kamendasian dialect of the common tongue to mean “disaster”. So have the other names from the rhyme into other dialects, implying that they, too, could have been the names of other people, historical or mythological. Perhaps they were allies of Lyra during the War of Wishes.
This leads to the concerning conclusion that there are nine, possibly mythologically powerful, beings that have survived the ages from the shadows by erasing their existance from the record. Among their number is the goddess of Death, or at the very least her avatar. They stem for a cataclysmic war lost to history, known by some as the Sealing War. Could the Sealing refer to N——? If the planes realigned, could that have been used to seal something — or someone — beneath the Underdark?
It has been a long time since I was a scholar. I desire to return to Ponterin, where I can continue my research, with the resources of the Arcane Institute to draw on. Unfortunately, my wife’s failing health keeps us in Grenscombe. I must make do with what I can access here until she recovers.