Wrath & Gunfire: The Barvan Campaign
How the Prism Got Her Wish
A Bedtime Story
When the world was young, Obora the Bear explored her vast snowy domain, striding through the deep white drifts, seeking nothing but to see what there was to see. She gave birth to twins and created the first home when she nurtured them in a cave. The Bear was the first and greatest mother, and always so she shall remain. Do not forget this simple fact, my children, for it figures greatly in the story of the Prism and how she got her wish.
As she explored, the Bear scaled frozen mountains and slid down the ice floes, traveling ever north. She slept under the Creator’s stars, and was fascinated by the ribbon of light that glowed above, shimmering and swaying like nothing the Bear had yet seen. It glowed in pink and blue and orange and green, shades not seen together in nature.
One night she decided not to sleep, but to keep ascending the mountain she was on, the highest and broadest mountain she had found in the north. Obora wished to get as close to the colorful ribbon as she could, to see what it was made of. She thought that if she could climb high enough, perhaps she could even walk among the stars. (Remember, children, that the Bear is a god and does not know fear. It is not given to us mortals to see such marvels. But that is why we have been given gods, to see what we cannot see and know what we cannot know, and to tell us all that is needful.)
On the peak of the highest mountain, deep in the fastness of darkest, coldest night, Obora the Bear stood surrounded by stars. There she looked into the Northern Lights, what the Tundra People call Kiubuyat. And there she saw that the Lights had a face, and the face was looking back at her.
“And who are you?” Obora asked. (Remember that the Bear knows no fear. If ever you look in the face of a god, you would do well to be fearful.)
“I am Rau,” said the Northern Lights. And she smiled, bright and beautiful, for these were the first words she had spoken since the dawn of Middian that were not spoken to herself only. “Who are you?”
“I am Obora the Bear, mistress of winter and death.”
The Bear sat on the mountain and conversed with Rau, the Northern Lights. Long they talked, with no regard for day or night, for up so high on that great mountain, even the Canary could not shine bright enough to drown out the night and the stars. The Prism was greatly curious about what lay to the south, for she was imprisoned in the northern sky and could look over only ice and snow and frigid seas. The Bear had traveled far to reach this place, and she told her new friend of all that she had seen.
Obora spoke of the other gods, of the Leviathan, the Tiger and the Wolf and their broken friendship, the rivalry between the Hunter and the Rabbit, the madness of the Frog and the wildness of the Waterfowl. She spoke of bright plants and brown earth that did not know the white blanket of snow, and the deep green jungle where only rains fell and did not freeze, and the painted deserts where rain fell only rarely. She spoke of the peoples that were beginning to populate young Middian, the dwarves and elves, humans and gnomes, halflings and orcs.
At this Rau sighed and fell silent. The Bear saw her sadness (remember, the Bear is a mother), and she too quieted. She looked gently on the goddess of lights, and tilted her great furry head to the side. “What sorrows you, my friend?”
“Oh, I wish that I could see these new peoples,” said Rau. “My task is to shine and to be beautiful among the stars, to bathe in the Panther’s light and flee from the Canary’s, and I am content with my task. But I have so loved talking to you, dear Obora, and I wish with all my heart that I could speak with these peoples. There is so much that I want to know!”
“Ah. I understand.” And the Bear knew sadness for the first time, for this was something that she could not provide. It was a new sensation for her, the goddess of snow and death and motherhood, to know that there was something that she could not do. Even gods dislike understanding that there is something they cannot do.
“I will return and speak to you often,” the Bear said at last, for it was all she could offer. “I will speak to other gods, and perhaps some of them will visit, as well. I know that the Fox enjoys learning, and she will speak with you of all she knows. Perhaps she will even send her kitsune to visit you and bring news. And the Rabbit is such a troublemaker, he may come north just to see what mischief he can do.”
Rau smiled sadly, and accepted the Bear’s gift with gratitude, though both knew that it was not truly an answer to her wish.
The Bear kept her word, and often visited Rau, climbing to the top of the mountain to converse with her. Other gods visited the north and met the goddess of the Northern Lights, taking on new forms to blend in with the snow. And in time, the peoples of Middian spread out and formed nations. The Tundra People came to live in the Winterlands, and Rau welcomed them with delight.
Yet still she could not meet them, trapped as she was in the sky. Only when they slept was she able to speak with them, as they met and mingled in the incorporeal realm of dreams. The Tundra People recognized her for the gentle goddess she was, and considered themselves blessed to have a goddess who belonged only the north. She taught them wondrous things, and they revered her for her wisdom and knowledge.
Rau loved the Tundra People dearly. And once, on a night like any other, a child of these northern tribes entered the dream world. Rau watched over him gently, and when his dreams turned sour, she was greatly distressed. The boy dreamed of his father drowning beneath the ice, his mother lost and alone. He dreamed a black shadow stealing over their home, covering all in fear and darkness. The goddess tried to reach the child in his dream, but the phantoms were too powerful and overcame her slight influence.
“Obora, Obora!” the Northern Lights cried, racing through the sky in search of her friend. Soon enough she found the Bear, sleeping in a cave open to the stars, and roused her from her deep slumber. (This you should never do, my children. Leave sleeping bears lie.)
“Yes, yes, I hear you,” the Bear grumbled, blinking and opening her mouth wide in a mighty yawn. “What troubles you?”
Rau explained about the child and his dream, and the Bear’s great heart was touched. She lumbered to her feet and shook her shaggy head, then strode out into the snow.
In a trice and a twinkling she was at the child’s side, sitting on her haunches beside his trundle bed. With mother-paws she soothed him into deep rest, growling gentle words in his ear. She grasped the furs around him delicately in her big white teeth and bundled him more tightly, and the child slept, safe from his dark dream.
The Bear returned to the anxious goddess of dreams shimmering on the top of an icy cliff, and they sat under the Panther’s bright light. Obora reassured Rau that the child was safe. Then she realized something, and tilted her head to the side. “My dear Rau, how is that you were able to speak to me? The ribbon of light was not shining outside my cave tonight.”
“Dear Bear, I thought you knew. Where once I am, there I can go again. It is ever so with thoughts, you know, returning to what they once touched in the flicker of an eye. It’s not much use, though, when all you can ever touch is the northern sky.” And she sighed.
“Hmm.” And the Bear blinked her great golden-brown eyes in thought. Perhaps it was then that Hlagen the Fox visited her, passing by in her arctic form, leaving inspiration in her footprints. More likely, though, it was the Bear herself, mistress of winter and motherhood, who knew then what to do at last.
The Bear took a great handful of snow in her paws and compressed it into pure ice, clear as glass. With her claws she shaped the ice, creating a many-sided figure, the angles of it precisely right. Then she lifted the newly-made prism to the Panther’s light, and the light refracted, creating a rainbow on the snow.
“You exist in light of many colors,” she said to Rau. “And so you must travel through that light. Can you also travel through this?”
The goddess of dreams gasped in understanding, and leapt down through the light into the rainbow on the snow. “Indeed I can!” she laughed in wonder. “How odd that I did not know! But now I do, and I will never forget.”
And so the Bear granted the Prism’s wish. The Fox gladly created thousands of crystal prisms and spread them throughout the world, and Rau was able to visit wherever the rainbows touched. She was able to speak with all the peoples of the world. Though many do not recognize her wisdom and beauty as the Tundra People do, you can now find a temple of the Prism in all of the best cities, and there you can find a crystal prism that Rau has touched.
This, my children, is why your mother hangs a prism on the wall beside your bed. In the day the light shines through it, and the Prism can visit where she wishes. And in the night she will guard your dreams, and call the Bear to soothe you if they turn sour. In giving the Prism a wish, the Sleeping Mother also gave a gift to all the children of Middian. Now, my dears, sleep well and deep, and fear nothing in the night.