[RP Episode] The Flames & Frost of Faith


It was just another day in Xia, the village of Sanji was hard at work, with the peasants toiling on the fields. The temple stood tall, unrivalled by any structure in sight, and Halatir was currently in the process of tending to the temple grounds. Tao was sat in meditation in front of Hou-Yi’s statue, where his eternal fire was burning weakly, when Halatir entered behind him.

‘‘Don’t forget the fire.’’ Tao reminded him.



With a nod, Halatir set aside his broom. Stooping to his knees, he poured more oil from a jug into the flameholder. Then, taking a small pair of tongs, he pulled the wick(which was drawing oil from the basin below) through its holder. The flame grew higher. Placing the tongs and amphora of oil aside in an alcove, he resumed his sweeping. He wore a long grey cloak made of extremely thin cloth over his shoulders, reminiscent of his home, but made practical for the heat.


‘‘Last night when i got up and fetched some water to drink, i saw that you’ve forgotten to check on the fire before going to bed…’’ Tao reminded him, ‘‘It is a simple, yet thankless job, but it is important none the less.’’ he began to lecture Halatir as he swept about, ‘‘Do you know why the flame is kept lit?’’


“No, I do not. It is not my place to pry into another’s life in such manner. My apologies, I will not forget it again.”


‘‘But it is not just my life. It is the life of this village too, of the empire. All come to temples such as this, grander and poorer, to pay their respects. Does it not make you curios as to why?’’ Tao inquired.


It had indeed. Halatir was young, and full of interest in the world. And the fire had intrigued.

“It does…but to pry would be a breach of my my people’s ways. But since you offer it…” Halatir left the sentence hanging for a moment. “Is the flame an offering to your god? Did he demand it himself, or did you seers discover it on their own?” The questions began bubbling out of him, tripping over themselves in their haste to be said.


The old priest giggled, ‘‘Neither, my boy.’’. He felt glad, and was hoping his supposed wildling guest would develop an interest about the tasks he had set him within and around the temple. It is partially why he let him stay with him for so long after he had healed. ‘‘Come, sit by me, and i shall tell you the tale.’’


Ceasing his sweeping, Halatir laid the broom and dustpan to one side, emptying out the contents first. He moved over to Tao’s side, sitting awkwardly beside him, his legs half crossed


‘‘In front of us, is the statue of Hou-Yi. He is not the deity of our people, but one of.’’ Tao began with his explanation while comfortably sitting in his crossed legged position, on his mat on the floor, past a position what most northerners could flex their legs to. ‘‘The fire is a symbol of life and death. It gives warmth, and allows life, and it is a force of destruction. From the forges fire is made every elven blade, and to the fire is laid everyone whom’s time in life has come to fade.’’ he explained rather rhythmically, ‘‘We keep a symbolic fire lit at the temple of each deity, and each uses it its own way. Hou-Yi, the protector of the earth, uses the fire as a weapon to fight off the many beasts and celestial evils that would see our world torn to shreds.’’

‘‘In a time long past, an unforeseen disaster struck these lands when ten suns rose over the horizon. Such intense light and heat ravaged the earth it burned away the forests, dried our mighty rivers, and even melted forged metal. Beneath the scorching rays, the people begged the holy Emerald Emperor in heaven for aid. In reply, he called the great archer, Hou-Yi.’’

‘‘Armed with his mythical red feathered bow, and flaming white arrows, he descended from heaven on to the barren earth. Shielding his eyes, he gazed up where ten suns cruelly flared. Nocking an arrow to his bow, he fired a warning shot in an attempt to frighten them away, but they impassively remained. So he fired a second shot, a killing blow, it pierced the sun which exploded with colour and a giant red raven fell to the earth. Eight times more Hou-Yi drew arrow to cheek. Eight shots more he let fly. Eight more bursts rent the sky, and eight more ravens fell dead. But one sun he left, and so fearful of Hou-Yi’s archery, this sun behaved, dipping below the horizon.’’

‘‘Now armed with the power of the red ravens he had slain, sending light and fire against those that threaten this plane, be it monster or beast, dragon or sun, man or God, Hou-Yi is the defender of the earth, and that is why we pray to him, and pay respect to him. After which, the wonderful mage, Nu-Wa, the guardian of heaven descended to earth to restore what was destroyed, but that is another story…’’


Halatir was staring eagerly at the old elf, his eyes bright with excitement and imagination, seeing the story unfold within his mind. His own home’s tales and legends he had heard a thousand times, but this was something new. If he were sitting on a bench, he would have been on the edge of his seat. “You are a nyarnamaitar!” he said in wonder, unable to translate the word. “My people tell such stories as well, but few and far between are those who can weave the words so well!”


Tao smiled, ‘‘Are you one of them? You did just rhyme yourself.’’


He waved his hand dismissively. “That is but the manner of my native tongue manifesting itself in yours. I cannot tell stories so.” He looked sad. “My father could, before…”


‘‘We all die, sooner or later, everyone’s time comes, young Halatir. When someone dies, it means someone else can live to take their place on this earth.’’ Tao comforted him. ‘‘It is the fate of us mortals. We must all pay for the sins of our divine father with our lives for his betrayal.’’ he sighed, and noticed Halatir’s unknowing gaze. ‘‘Do you wish to hear his tale?’’ he asked.


Halatir’s mood returned to its original state of fascination, putting aside the thoughts of his dead clan. “Yes, please!”


‘‘It is a sad tale, one of despair and betrayal.’’ Tao began, with renewed vigour, ‘‘When we die, our spirit cannot cross on to the afterlife as long as everything that attaches it to this world remain. Such as their worries for their loved ones, their fears for their belongings, their hatred for their enemies. Once all of these things cease to exist, or the spirit had found it within themselves to let go, they can proceed, but until then, they are trapped in a dark place of existence, a limbo. It is from this limbo that those who wield dark magic draw their power from, and it is this place that is their doom.’’ he explained with a gloomy tone for extra effect.

‘‘When the goddess Iya-Nami gave birth to the god of fire, Zhu-Nagi, his searing skin scorched her flesh. Fearful she would die, her husband, Iya-Nagi, the god with whom she had created the world, held her close. So grievous were her wounds, she succumbed to death.’’

‘‘To rescue her spirit, Iya-Nagi travelled to limbo, the realm of the darkness and death. Through the black maze he searched, until finally he came upon her, hidden amongst the shadows. He implored her to return with him. She could not, but he insisted. He would not leave her in this place. He swore it.’’

‘‘Iya-Nami agreed to take her husband to see the gods of limbo, to implore them to free her. Meanwhile, remain in darkness, she cautioned him, for the realm of the dead was not meant for the living to see. Taken by foreboding, Iya-Nagi lit a torch and laid eyes upon his wife. No longer the graceful, elegant beauty she once was, Iya-Nami now appeared a rotting corpse, hollow and decayed, maggot ridden and foul. Frightened and disgusted, Iya-Nagi broke his vow and fled.’’

‘‘Through the bowels of limbo he ran, pursued by the fiend that was once his wife. Escaping the cave entrance, Iya-Nagi rolled a boulder in place to block it. Sealed within, betrayed and cursed, consumed with wrathful anger, Iya-Nami swore, one thousand lives would she take each day. One thousand to pay for the broken promise he made.’’

‘‘It is because of that broken vow, it is because of him to whom we owe our existence to, we must also suffer mortality.’’


“But on many days, far more than a thousand lives are spilled upon the ground.” said Halatir, frowning. The storytelling still enthralled him, but the subject matter did not make complete sense to him.


‘‘But not by her.’’ Tao pointed out.


“There is a spirit, a god, roaming about slaying thousands?” he asked, confused and mollified. The thought was terrifying.


‘‘Well, no. But actually, yes.’’ he struggled to explain how ‘‘a thousand lives taken’’ is meant metaphorically, and neither the number of which or the execution of is meant literally, ‘‘She does not slay you, she simply rips your soul from your body. She is a spirit, so she cannot cause you physical harm to you here. Not directly.’’


”A…soul?” Halatir was hesitant. ”What does this word mean? And wouldn’t losing it hurt someone?”