Tuesday Tales: Guest Series, Part II

The Story of Cosra and the White Stone
[contributed by Catherine M.]

Once upon a time there was a Traveler woman named Cosra who greatly angered the Brown God.  No one is sure now what her crime was, or when she lived, or even what her last name was.  What is known is that for her punishment, she was fixed in the sky as a star before her final white life stone was drawn.

The Black God bound Cosra to the sky with this last white stone shining brightly at her heart.  She wept for mercy, and the god was gentle, but unyielding.  Just as it turned away to descend the night’s steps back down to its realm, it paused and murmured back to her, “Your time is not finished yet, spirit.”  And she understood that the god was displeased that the normal order of things had been subverted, and she fell quiet as its robes slipped silently down the glass stairs.

As she lay suspended in the sky, her dark hair hanging down towards the Ephemeral Realm, she grew aware that time passed with less urgency in the sky.  She watched the sun and moon swing in their silent circles.  The other stars, spirits with peaceful eyes, never spoke a word, though sometimes they sang very quietly.  Her eyes became accustomed to the darkness and the great distances of the sky, and she watched the goings-on of the Ephemeral Realm from her place.  Wars raged and calmed, rulers rose and fell.  The last of her family died, and her crime was long forgotten, even by the bards.

Then one day, a god-chosen was born to the Zikarians.  The boy’s family was the least of their clan, but the chieftain was deeply superstitious and quickly became aware of the boy’s status.  Much to the dismay of his parents, it was decided that the boy could not stay, for surely he would bring bad luck upon the land.  After passing the week at a summer festival in Ilios, his parents left him in the shrine of the gods, his fate token curled tightly in his fist.

Cosra saw all of this.

That night, she heard the robes of the Black God whisper against the glass stairs of the sky, and was surprised when the god sat beside her and strummed the silver strings that bound her.  The god opened her hand and showed the woman the token that the boy had held.  “I gave the child to the Brown God, for he was the Brown God’s chosen.  But I was at shrine first, and so I decide the fate of the token; and, briefly, of the child.”

She followed the god’s finger as it pointed to the child, who was being carried in a basket by the Brown God to a hollow in the woods of Braelin.  “You angered the gods once,” the god continued.  “Though that was many years ago.  Perhaps this night you shall make reparations for it.”

The Brown God reached its hollow and took the child from its basket.

“Tonight,” the Black God continued, “though his family left him for dead, the Brown God will gift this child with a great magic that will run in his blood and the blood of his descendants, and when he is older, he will save many lives in a war that has not yet reached the shores of the Ephemeral Realm.”  The god plucked Cosra’s bindings again, absently.  “The Brown God has asked me for a sign to the mortal realm of this blessing, and so I have come to you.”

It deftly unknotted her ties, and she put her final white stone into its hand.

The bards say that a bright star fell from the sky on the first night of Silencing in the year 668.  It burned there for seven days and seven nights, giving its light to all of Braelin.  And then, as suddenly as it had appeared, it burned out.  It was on this same night that Gerolti Mayne, the great Zikarian fire thaumaturgist, was blessed with his magic.

So I declare the story was told to me, and so I hold it to be a true and worthy account.

—Rhiannon Sharleigh, Lyric Bard of Éras.  Given at Esos this 13th day of Reaping, 1042.