Excerpts: Part Three of the Ongoing Saga
Woe unto the fallen
Who in the tundra freezes
Woe unto the Mammoth
Who marches where he pleases
Woe unto the Westerly
Warm winds like Demon's Breath
Woe unto the Mammoth
Who marries himself with Death
DURING THE THIRD AGE OF SKOPJA'S REIGN, THE FIRST MAMMOTH DIES UNDER THE TUNDRA IN A LAND KNOWN AS ENDRÖGEN FLATS.
The salt flats had been famed by all as a place of great mysticism, and some even suggested that buried beneath the permafrost lay the Heart of Igrak himself. At night, Mammoths gathered to witness the strange, red glow that emanated from the flats as it spiraled upward into the heavens. By morning, the light would fade, and the crowd would disperse, mumbling prayers of thanks and praise to Igrak and the Great One alike.
For many years, Mammoths made such pilgrimages to Endrögen. They came from every corner of the globe bringing with them offerings of food and large rocks, but the source of power never revealed itself to the pilgrims despite their pleas. Instead, they stared at the red lights and stomped their offerings into the ice until the plants became green poultices. This was the proper sacrificial ritual according to Mammoth Law.
It was upon the Flats of Endrögen that came the first Mammoth death, for though Igrak had been rent apart during the Creation, he did not die. Rather, it is Igrak's energy that binds us all to one another and to the rest of the universe, for the Mammoth Dancer (as he came to be called) was granted eternal life by the Great One and so shall live thusly, but the same cannot be said of poor, young Glorm, the high priest's son.
One night, after all the pilgrims had left, Glorm stayed behind. The red glow had gone as well, but Glorm had marked the spot of its ascension with his tusks the previous evening, anticipating to return and dig out the source of this strange Mammothian power. And so, he did. Glorm dug his tusks into the ice and began to writhe, moving his head like a shovel. So vigorously did he work that he began to bleed around his mouth. The roots of his tusks became sore, and his eyes were wild with pain and fright, for Glorm soon hit upon a small, underground cavern, the top of which was not but eight feet below the earth.
He slithered down into the hole and muttered, "Echthelion likthalid pren Igrak." [Protect your child, Igrak.] His feet hit the hard, cold stone of a cave, and as soon as this happened, a bright, red light filled the immense cavern. From an outlet on the far side of the chamber ran a small stream, and the rocks below shimmered in the brilliant light such that Glorm had to squint in order to see. He heard singing from within the cave but could not discern its source.
Glorm wandered aimlessly from cavern to cavern finding nothing in the red, glaring light until finally he grew tired and set his haunches against a wall. He sat and nursed his sore tusks, and by now, he had lost his sense of direction. There was no telling from whence he entered this place.
Suddenly, a small, eight-legged creature no bigger than Glorm's foot appeared in front of him, which startled him to no small extent, for all Mammoths had been taught that their kingdom was to remain free of all Others. The creature's belly was marked by a strange red shape that Glorm didn't recognize. At once, he spoke in his native tongue, "What are you, little one, and why have to come into the realm of Igrak and his children? You are a most unwelcome intruder."
The creature blinked at Glorm through a hundred tiny eyeballs and hissed, "I am the Queen Spidra, and you are most unwelcome here, Glorm son of Drymbal. These caverns are treacherous, sweet Mammoth, and the Heart has become full."
Glorm's eyes widened. When he tried to speak, his words came out a whisper, "The Heart of Igrak?"
"The very. Come, I will show you."
Spidra led Glorm through a web of tunnels and passageways, her legs clicking against the stones as the Mammoth lumbered along behind thankful that the brilliant red glow had subsided. At last, they came to a cavern, larger than any other in the cave, and in the center of the room lay a large Mammoth heart.
"After all these years," Glorm said, "Igrak's heart beats."
Spidra laughed coldly. "It is swollen, dear Mammoth."
At the moment Spidra said this, the heart burst open, and the cave was filled again with the red glow. Only then did Glorm see thousands of red bellies pouring out, reflecting the light every which way. Spidra's children swarmed upon the high priest's son in a matter of seconds, devouring him.
All the while, the queen laughed with a tyrannical glee and cried out to her children, "Out through the hole poor Glorm has made for us! To the surface!"
And this is how the first Mammoth died upon the Earth. And this is how death came to find all Mammoths such that when they are small or weak or outnumbered, a child of Spidra comes to gorge her belly on Flesh.