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When Even the Stones Become Echoes

The hearth was cold and the kegs drained of their dark elixir. How long they had sat in the darkness, none of those present knew. They were as one caught in the siren’s call of the story teller who weaved them tales of glory and death. Each felt weary but all listened with rapt attention, for the ancient had more tales to tell.

“Take this humble stone,” the storyteller began, showing a small pebble in the dim candle light that he had pulled out from nowhere. “What has this stone seen on its travels, what has worn away at its skin as it made its journey to this very room? Each of you are this stone. But what of the stone that is cursed to forever journey without an end, slowly worn down to nothingness?”

He paused and gave a savage smile that seemed almost Daemonic in the candlelight.

“Rirdeg, lord of the Mouth of the Screaming Fire was arrogant even amongst those that call themselves lords of the Dawi Zharr. He believed himself to be the epitome of our race.” For a moment the listeners thought the storyteller had spoken with two voices, one having said “your race” and the other “our race,” but this momentary ripple was forgotten.

“One night a stranger arrived in Rirdeg’s realm and demanded a trial of strength. The stranger seemed to be a fellow Dawi Zharr and yet not an inch of flesh showed on it. Rirdeg without pause accepted the trial, of which there would be three tests of endurance, strength, and skill with axe and hammer. The first test the two were bid to grasp a starmetal dish that was slowly filled with Hashut’s rage given form in liquid. Rirdeg clung onto the dish even as his flesh smouldered; the stranger said nothing and held it as if it were cool. Finally, with a cry, Rirdeg’s grip faltered. The second test, once Rirdeg had recovered, was to throw a statue of a stone-cursed Sorcerer as far as they could. Rirdeg again went first and threw his statue further than any mortal Dawi Zharr should. And yet the stranger shook with mirth and threw its further than the sharpest eyes could see. At this Rirdeg snatched up his axe and swung it at the stranger in fury at being bested a second time.”

The storyteller picked at a tusk.

“And the stranger caught the blade with a gauntleted hand. It held the blade still as Rirdeg turned purple as he sought to move the axe. Then the stranger broke the blade with the slightest pressure of its hand. “You boast and preen like you were an equal to the Gods,” the stranger said in a voice like burning flame, “but you are but a mortal and just as weak as they are.” Rirdeg however was not cowed. “I will prove my strength, Daemon” he growled, “I shall run the length of our empire in but two sunsets.”

The storyteller smiled. For a moment to the listeners it was as if a Daemon was wearing the skin of the storyteller or perhaps the storyteller was wearing the soul of a Daemon.

“The stranger distorted and revealed itself. Hashut.”

The hearth flickered back to life.

“Then run you shall,” spoke Hashut. And so Rirdeg ran the length of our/your empire and encroached the end just as the second sun began to set, but before he could prove his boast, he found himself back to where he began. He continues his eternal run to this day, bloodied and weary. Whenever he nears the end, he is whisked back to the start to begin anew. Some claim he has worn himself away to a whisper on the wind that echoes throughout our/your empire. Such is the fate of those who pretend to be anything but mortals.”

The listeners nodded dumbly, but the storyteller had already vanished.
This is a great story, and suits your story flora perfectly. Good take on the theme, and well executed as always. Takes Hat off

Also, it does remind about Shulgi's running boast.
Cheers, Admiral! Happy

Took me a while to think of something for this contest until I fell back to the storyteller character (who is indeed the same one who was with F'kari.) I felt that the piece was a little hindered by its similarity to the F'kari piece, although there were some nice little gems shining despite some rough edges.

Funnily enough, I had the boast of Queen Maeb's messenger (who might have been Fergus mac Róich) in Horslips' music adaptation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge where he claims he can cover Ireland in a day, but the only thing he's not is faster than the Hound (the hound of Culann aka Cú Chulainn) in mind when I wrote Rirdeg's rash boast. It's certainly good to hear that there's more historical/mythological figures sharing said boast. Happy
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