For MS and DD.
Lightning strikes behind me. I waver at the sound of thunder, the vibrations that pulse through my veins and throb against me like giant hands shaking me backwards and fore. I teeter upon this edge I stand. I struggle to maintain my balance when all the world is chaos in my midst.
There is a pool beneath me. It is an enchanted pool, one of wonders too deep to be probed by man’s mind, too profound to be made sense of by philosophers or astrologers. What resides within it is beyond all belief.
They call it Sela Dor. And when they speak of it, they tell this tale.
Long, long ago, moments only after the start of time, the great gods were alive on earth as men as we are now. They lived and they breathed and they made friends, enemies, and common folk alike, like no other on earth. Those they touched became enchanted, and those they sired, only slightly less human by account of their shared blood, or perhaps in that regard, more human than others.
One tribe was born of the Sun God. His children shone with unearthly light, their pale skin fair and faultless, yet in shadow as shimmering as the reflective silver of the moon. Dark colors of hair, carried throughout generations, were vanquished the moment one came into their embrace, and they became known as the Fair Folk to all the nations.
Another tribe was born of the chief god, the god Darkness. He was the eldest of them all, in existence even before Time had been forged from the nothingness of the world before. His children, Sons of Darkness, were foreboding and drenched in shadows, thick greasy hair, hirsute muscles bristling with unkempt ferocity. All hailed their might. Even the mountains trembled beneath their feet.
A lesser god sired one such nation, though lesser as he was, lesser were they, and none lived to be recalled other than in fabled tales like these. This god, born to a coupling of Earth and Lady Inspiration, daughter of the Sea and Sky, was himself as steadfast as stone and lofty as the heavens his mother entrenched in her bosom.
He was raised an orphan by animals in the wilderness, abandoned almost before birth as his fate would have it. Young girls took to tending the infant boy in the woods where they found him while picking berries one midsummer afternoon, but unable to lift him, heavy as he was with the bones of his father within him, they could not retrieve him from his clearing there and could only visit.
Years older, a young man strode forth from the trees, body stiff-necked and solid, unable to be broken or scratched, impervious to any weapon man could think of forging. But though his body was impenetrable, his mind housed an emptiness deeper than death. He inhaled the wisdom of those around him, garnering great wealths of knowledge from a single conversation, and gave himself unto learning the mysteries of the world, one man at a time. He gathered his meager belongings, what few they were, and set out upon a journey to traverse the world.
He knew not his parentage. Never in a single second of his life had he imagined he was born of gods. So many were in those days, of one and a mortal usually, that there was no allure to it as in today’s times. Yet still he was unusual, a true god in contrast to the demigods and their descendants around him, for he held only divine blood and flesh in his body.
Once old, his youth still had not escaped him. He remained a beautiful man of dark golden skin, blond hair radiant like a cloud passing over a mountainous crag, and still he did not hold his mission complete. So many souls he had spoken with, so much knowledge he had garnered, and yet he still felt his grasp of the world was incomplete. There was no scholar more learned than he, and yet he did not feel wise.
He settled in the north country, under a long and narrow precipice that jutted out from a cliff-face over an empty crater. He built his home as would a master architect, felled every tree and carved them with unparalleled skill, smithed every nail and knob and when his home was built, he retired inside it to waste out the remainder of his days. He had failed. The world was not his for the knowing. He would do no more.
A young lass, but moments shy of prime, escaped an undeserving marriage and fled to the wilderness. In anguish and fear she came across his house and shyly knocked upon his threshold. He answered wearily and was captured by the frail heart before him. From her he could gain nothing, he surmised in a moment of pity, but granted her bed and food for the night.
In the morning she rose before he had, cleansed his feet obediently without waking him, and prepared breakfast as any proper wife of her time would have and set it before him bravely when he stumbled into the kitchen, carried toward her with the scent of fresh bread and meats.
He ate to his delight and offered her another night’s stay.
This game of please and be pleased continued for some time, until her prime had come and gone. But in his presence, his steadfastness leeched upon her and she became as solid and timeless as he was. They shared his intellectual learnings, her natural born inquisitiveness the perfect match to his almost all-knowing opinions.
Years followed and from them was born a small nation that gathered in a small town around the shadow of his great abode. They dug away at the earth, hollowing out the crater until it was as deep as the sky was high, and in its walls they built their homes and academies, their temples and their intellectual societies. He at the top of the hollow watched over them, tended always by his wife of timeless glory as himself.
Then war befuddled the land in all directions, and cut from the resources of trade, his people withered, died.
They had called him Sela, the rock, and themselves his people Dor, the generation beneath him. He mourned with his wife and he renounced his immortality. He climbed the mountain in the midst of a moonlit night and dove from the precipice that jutted narrowly over the crater. He felt the sky whip past him, felt his heaviness fall through the reaching hands of his mother, and felt his father calling up to him as he sped toward the earth.
When he struck the bottom, everything trembled.
His wife, broken from slumber, clutched drowsily through the darkness and stumbled in weariness, found herself unable to cling steadily to the path surrounding their home. She fell upon him moments later.
Her life he felt slip away, but god as he was, the fall had not killed him. He screamed into the night, felt the souls of his people swirling around him. He could not return them to life. He could not behold them any longer. He could only join them, steal himself from his accursed life.
He rolled his wife off his body and neatly arranged her beside him. Then he lay back and tore his fingers into his chest. He felt no pain as he tore his ribs apart and tore his heart open, the sounds of shattering stone echoing upward through the chasm they had carved, and as he raged upon himself, tearing limb from limb, bone from bone, shaking dry every orifice his hands could reach, the earth around him trembled and the sky above him quaked.
As his immortality drained at the tips of his fingers, the houses around him broke from their holds and crumbled to dust. As his years of learning poured forth into his ethereal lingering, the sky was torn asunder and a great deluge fell over them. Water mixed with ashes with blood and with flesh pulverized to powder and all became still.
No one spoke of the mess he had made of himself. By the time the pool was found, the war was waning and the pool was but a pool in the northern lands. But when one took a swim therein, their flesh was burned away and they became without how they had seen themselves within.
They pulled at scrolls of history and legends of the rock people, recalled upon maps where they had resided and divined the events that had hence occurred. That is when they named this place Sela Dor. That is when this place at last became the grail it has become.
Once named, this place vanished. To a land of dreams, to a land of unreality, to a land of hope and prosperity.
Lightning strikes again and as I stare into the depths of Sela Dor, I see my reflection returned to me. But it is not the reflection I see of myself within, but the reflection I have tired of seeing without, and once more, to the fate I have held myself a hundred times, I turn from this illusion and continue to seek out the hidden truth.