Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sleeping Beauty and the God of Death, By Emily Debenham

Note: This writer took the story into the realm of gods and myth, making it stand out.

Iktish, God of Death, wished for a child to call his own. The Father of Departed Souls longed for one living soul to mold beneath his Dark Hand. So he took to his side a fair goddess, Ameva, with flower-adorned hair.

The wheel of the sky turned many times before the Lord Sun shined upon the morn of the child’s birth. His subjects gathered on the bridge that spans across the River of Damned Souls and leads to the Fields of Radiance, awaiting the blessing of the Lord Sun, Lady Moon, and her lesser sisters, Stars.

Lord Sun announced, “This day a daughter is born to Iktish Lord of death, Father of departed souls. She shall be called Iritana. Perfect in form, sound in mind, whole in body and spirit, may he guide her feet to cross into the Fields of Radiance when her life-time is spent.” Only those that were good and great during life dwelt among the Radiant after death.

Lady Moon pronounced, “Protection in deepest hour, illumination in the darkest night so long as the sky shows my face. This daughter will be full of truth and grace.”

High Mistress of the Stars denounced, “In the Stars are written the laws that all beings must abide. Iktish, Lord of Death, no life is to belong to you that lives. When the Moon is born anew Lady Ameva her mother will take her to mortal parents.”

Iktish raged so that the Stars shivered in their places, but the law could not be unwritten, nor the sentence undone. So, on the eve of the new moon her mother, Lady Ameva came to collect her precious daughter, and sent the girl to parents that had prayed for a child for many years. Iktish and his Lady Ameva wept.

Sixteen years passed before Iktish claimed his daughter again. He watched her grow under the hand of mortal parents until he could stand his grief no longer. Longing to know his only daughter, he built a cottage on the edge of death, safe from the river and close to the bridge. He pulled her soul into the fringes of his realms so that she fell into a deathless sleep. Neither living nor dead, her soul wandered realms ruled by the Dark-Handed One, while her body rested upon a crimson death-bed. The body neither rotted nor decayed.

“A spell is cast upon her,” cried her mortal mother.

“We must consult the king,” said her mortal father.

So they traveled to the court of the King and told the strange story of their daughter’s death. He commanded the body to be brought. The death bier crossed the land until it arrived at the gates of the kingdom. The King found their daughter’s frozen sleep to be strange indeed.

He consulted Lord Sun, who answered with a silence.

He consulted Lady Moon, who answered with a whisper, “The matter rests with the Stars.”

The King consulted the Stars, who told him, “The maiden will lie in sleep until she receives a marriage offer from a man suited to her. Only then will she leave her deathless sleep.”

Many years turned, and many men tried and failed to rouse the maiden from her sleep with a kiss. They could not wake her for she was needed guiding dead souls to their rest.

In later days arose a Hero of unequaled renown, so that he was rumored to be a son of Lord Sun, Giver of Life. Alderik was he called, and his deeds were many and great. It came about he could win his own kingdom by venturing into the realm of death.

Iritana spent many years on the bank of death with her father, Lord of Death, and her mother, Flower-Adorned. She lived happily there, leading many souls who approached the bridge destined for good and bad ends. Many a soul went gently into death under her light hand.

She watched Alderik as he crossed into the boundary of death, handsome and strong. His countenance showed that he was still among the living.

“Leave this place,” she commanded. “Only the dead pass.”

“I cannot go back for I am on an errand. Who set you to guard?”

“My father is Iktish, Lord of Death. He brought me here to dwell with him.”

“Do you not wish to leave?” he asked.

She showed to him the multitude of the dead. “How could I do more good than by leading these hosts?”

When Alderik returned from beyond the bridge of death he found Iritana. “When I leave here I will inherit a kingdom. I need a bride who knows how to care for my people, for I will often be away helping those that call for my aid.”

When King Alderik kissed her Iritana called her father to her, “I must go. The Hero Alderik calls me to live again.”

“What of those you guided into death?” Iktish asked.

“Those living have more need of my help.”

“And so you will leave me daughter?” Iktish asked, pained.

“Until my feet cross into the Fields of Radiance.”

Iritana left the realm of her Father, Lord of Death and awoke from her sleep, putting her hand into Alderik’s. Together they went to his Father, Lord Sun for a blessing.

“Alderik my son, the life in her is heavy with the shadow of death.”

“I know she will care for my people diligently without avarice or ambition. Many years has she served the dead and now she will serve the living.”

“Then you will give up the immortality I have given you?”

“With her by my side there is nothing to fear in death for she shall lead my feet gently into the Fields of Radiance.”

Lord Sun nodded. “So, let it be done.”

Lady Moon nodded. “So let it be done.”

The Stars agreed, “So let it be written.

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