O Muse of highest heaven, sing us his song: The song of one accursed man's journey, blessed tenfold by the fates, but so detested by the gods for theft of their fire. But, does such a crime warrant such anguish? To be cast out from his home, forced to be thrown by foreign winds, tossed along ancient seas, alone. What crime deserves this? Please, Muse, sing, for us, his tale. Sing of his crime.
It was the peak of darkness when a great fire illuminated the sky as if the night had hiccupped and, for a moment, became day. The fire fell, but its light still shone brightly in the darkness. “A beacon. It must be a sign,” thought the young man who had just been praying for a little excitement. “It’s time to go, I won’t miss this chance!” he yelled, and in one fell swoop he rolled out of bed, snatched his hat off the night table, grabbed his satchel, and swung it over his shoulder. He made towards the door, but stopped part way, deciding to take up his small dagger, “Well, you never know.”
The night air was brisk, but unlike every other night, tonight it had the hint of adventure. “This is it,” he thought. He began walking towards the beacon, still lighting a portion of the night sky from the perch where it had landed. Many in the village had awoken. Some were crying while others prayed in the ancient tongue: Areh Areh eot, eert ju kos! None among them dared move closer to the Mountain; they were all afraid. “Tsk, that’s all... Always praying, never doing. I’m done just praying.” The Mountain of Zalamur had always struck great fear and suspicion into the residents of the boy’s village, but never he. They said the Mountain was shaped by gods, a dungeon for some great evil, some said. Others believed it was where the gods hid their treasure. But tonight, to the boy, it was where his adventure was to begin. He started to walk faster. He ignored the shouts of neighbors to return. No, this was his night. Something was calling him forward. He would not stop. He began to run.
His body ached, his arms went limp, his legs gave out, but he had made it. In three hours he’d done what would have taken any man six. He was exhausted, but he was here. The light that had guided him subsided, leaving only a small fire remaining. “I am Pelsefer” it spoke slowly, each word perfectly formed with a kind of cool assurance that betrayed its appearance, “Now, child, I have introduced myself. Who are you?”
“I… I’m…” His voice choked in his chest, his mouth grew dry. Was he really seeing this before him?
“Speak now, child, for I am not patient.”
“I’m…” tears began to well in his eyes. Why was he crying? This fire was speaking, this fire was asking him who he was, but he’s not asking Who I am, but rather who am I? “I’m… I’m…” his voice began to screech, as if some gate within him was trying desperately to open. “I’m no one… I’m no one! I’m no one! I’m no one! I’m no one!” Whatever had been held back all the years of stagnation in his village had poured out all at once. “I’m no one,” he screamed once again, “But I’m going to a legend! I’ll… I’ll be the man to conquer the skies themselves!”
Eyes appeared upon the fire, gazing not menacingly, not exactly kindly either, upon the boy. It was pity; the eyes looked upon the boy with pity. “And what, dear child, gives you the arrogance to believe you will attain what the sun itself has yet to conquer, when, through your own confession, you are No One? Have you some secret knowledge beyond that of mortal man? Power greater the beasts that roam the vast fields? Are you a monster slayer, a mage, perhaps a knight, a scholar? A king?”
To these questions the boy shook his head. No. He was no one, and he was nothing. Pelsefer spoke sharply, “Then you are nothing more than an arrogant child of Daedalus, wishing to fly but having no means! Be gone. I have no more time for your kind. The light of Pelsefer began again to shine, blinding the boy, illuminating the skies, forcing the sun itself to rise. The heat scorched the rocks and grass around the boy. He was terrified, but he could not move. This was his doing, not only would Pelsefer punish him, but so would his neighbors and friends. The boy could hear their screams. The villagers were wailing. Their voices could be heard regions away, the boy was sure, but he dared not turn around to witness their anguish. He couldn’t bear it. The boy had disturbed the nest of the gods and now they would be punished for it. The women ripped at their clothes and told their children to gather their best meats and wines to offer the gods. The men fell to their knees to bury their faces into the earth, praying, their mouths full of dirt. In their anguish only one thing emerged: a hatred for the boy that brought this rapture upon them. They screamed his name. They blamed him.
“Damn it damn it damn it damn damn! Damn it, Pelsefer!” Then the unspeakable happened. The boy mustered whatever source of power was left in his limbs. He didn’t know what propelled him, fear, courage, or plain stupidity. Whatever it was, it compelled him to move forward. The boy began to run; instead of running away, down the mountain, through the neighboring hill, to farthest villages of the region, he ran towards Pelsefer, eyes closed, right hand stretched out. “Pelsefer!” he groaned. Every step closer the heat intensified, fires erupted around him, whipping at his legs, scorching his body. Balls of flames were hurled at his chest, but he did not stop. He couldn’t stop. This was it. This was the end. With his body bloodied, his voice hoarse, his will shattered, he grabbed Pelsefer. Pelsefer let out a bloodcurdling screech but the boy did not back down. With one final push the boy swallowed the flame whole. Pelsefer’s voice was heard once more.
Now bear the curse of courage, my friend… It may be your downfall, but now and until your ambition consumes you whole, I will accompany you…
The boy lay on the scorched earth, wounded, but not defeated. And thus the story began,
Of the Man Who Swallowed A Fallen Star