(As compiled from various sources in the Kuetran tradition)
The story of the origin of the Blue Ax can be found in the text ‘An Account of the Origins of Valkon and of the Blue Ax’, an account which ends with the coming of the Hidden Ones, by Aito and Manta, the Heart and the Mind, into the world. It concludes, as well, with the first days of the Dominion of Valkon, Nuivamatrako, thief of souls.
An Account of the Origins of Valkon and of the Blue Ax (as told by the Kuetrans)
So begins the account of the origins of Valkon and of the blue ax:
Here is a hidden story, once in the middle of silence:
When the earth was waking, many things sprang from its waters, and from its green places.
In the blackest sea, the god Col opened his eyes and they were like mirrors, reflecting the brightening waters. Then, from the turmoil of the sea, clinging to a peak as it rose from the depths, he was lifted up.
Soon, Col wandered the earth.
Seeing his footprints alone, he dignified himself above all else. He proclaimed himself one with the earth, and its master, though its mother and its father and all his brothers and sisters were all about him.
But then he saw beasts and birds and growing things and he knew them neither. Yet, he thought they must have grown from his own heart, as it was vibrant and all the world seemed to unfold before his eyes. So he set his will and his mind to make more. But only a few monsters sprang from his fist and lit on the earth, seeking its unseen places. Others sprouted from the sound of his voice as it fell like a hissing rain on the land.
Then he found shapes sleeping in the wet ground, like beasts but with the light of the sky in their watery eyes. He thrust his fist in the earth and wrested the shapes from her gut. He found them like a teeming brood, shaking, crying under the sun. He spoke to them, saying, “I am the one who is above all and you shall not deny this.” Since they did not speak and seemed only to shudder, he breathed into them and said, “This is your life!”
The creatures rose and uttered strange words that had no meaning.
Col commanded them, “Speak as I speak, for you are mine.”
Soon, the creatures stood and spoke to Col, “What are we that you have lifted us up?”
“I am your king and you will not have another.”
Then Col heard a cry as if it came from the depths of the sky and yet the earth, too. Aito, who is the heart of The Incorruptible One, the one who is complete again, spoke then, saying, “These are not yours, they belong unto themselves and need not a master.”
Col shook for fear at the strange voice, and yet he said, “From my own fist they have sprung, and I will not let them be taken from me.”
“Though your eyes are wide, you see not, for you have wakened them ere they have sought to walk on the earth,” said Aito.
Then Aito’s companion, Manta, who is the mind of The Incorruptible One, spoke, saying, “You have ruined these by your conjecture and they will not be whole as long as you preside over them.”
“Who is this that speaks to me?” asked Col, as his brood huddled with him.
“I am the voice of despair for the children you have stolen from the womb of the earth!”
“They are mine and I shall rule them even as I rule this earth!” said Col. He then fled with his brood.
He soon found a great mountain rising like a jagged rock, casting a shadow across his strange eyes. He made a spear-point from the mountain’s heart stone and set it in a great shaft which he made of the bole of a tree, torn from the earth. Under the shadow of the mountain, and in its midst, Col made his chair. He called himself hoiro do há val kon, master of the great hill, and so now some call him Valkon. He then summoned the monsters which had sprung from his fist and from his poisoned spittle. They came forth and looked dumbly on the brood huddling in Col’s shadow under the mountain. Then Col said to his people, “These are my warnings, heed them or you shall find anguish.” Turning to the monsters, he said, “Gather all in the earth like these and bring them to me!” Then the throng of monsters went out and roamed the youthful lands and tore from them the sleeping ones with the watery eyes.
Seeing this, Manta and Aito rushed in agitation to a far corner of the earth and built a wall of radiance across the mountains and the seas. Then, when Col’s monsters came, it was to them the impenetrable end, and so they turned aside and returned to Col with the ones they found.
With these sleeping ones, Col awakened an entire people, commanding them to dread him.
Aito and Manta then came and challenged Col, breaking the house he had made for himself. They dried up the springs by which he drank and took away the beasts and growing things by which he fed himself. They took also some of his people and led them away to hiding places, where again they came to sleep.
Col grew angry at this and tore open a great stone, from which sprang a raging giant who was a terror to the world by day, but in the night he was a mere shadow who whispered nightmares to Col. Col gave the giant a splinter of the great blue stone of his spear and commanded him to dig a river for him. The giant, who was called Varšam, the man who scrapes, took the blue stone and dug a great river down from the mountains and then to the sea. In this manner, did Col water his lands and sate the thirst of his people.
When Aito and Manta came again, they took some more of his people whom they led to a place where they could sleep. Col grew angry at this and, his spear in hand, led Varšam the giant along the great river. Soon they met Aito and Manta and attacked them. Col thrust his great spear into Aito, but the great blue stone shattered on the god’s chest and the shards fell to the earth. Col commanded Varšam to assail his enemies and the giant strode forth, his great feet causing the earth to shake. He bellowed to the sky as he lifted his fist and struck Manta, bruising her cheek. Aito then sprung on Varšam and split his breast, from which rose a fragment of light. The light was captured in the gaze of Manta and was kept there. The great carcass of Varšam then crumpled by the god’s river as Col fled back to his mountain.
Aito and Manta then formed a mound of great stones and earth over the dead giant, singing songs of remembering, and so rose the hill upon which in latter days was built the great city of the emperors.
Seeing the demise of Varšam, Col built in his mountains a refuge, gathering his monsters to himself. With those monsters, he haunted the ones he had awakened, ruling them. But the summons of Aito and Manta, the heart and mind of the Incorruptible One, did not move him, though they sought of him only renewal.
In faithfulness to Col, some of his folk gathered the shards of the broken spearhead and kept them as artifacts, fashioning them into weapons of war. It was in this manner the Blue Ax came down to the people of Col who abide now in the shining lands. These ones first wakened are our brothers, yet they know us not.
The ones who had slept beyond the wall of light were now awakened and they came forth, and they were called the hidden ones, há kuetra ará. These are our kind and they came from those far lands unto these ere the sun was old.
So ends the account of the origins of Valkon and the blue ax. What follows now is a summary of the history of the blue ax from the days of Valkon’s deceptions, as told by the Kuetrans :
When the Dominion of Valkon was yet ten centuries old, Aito and Manta, heeding the wishes of heart and mind, with their children, Earth, Sky, Sun and Moon, closed Valkon in his mountain, which lay in the dusty wastes beyond ancient Batarmoga, and unfettered many souls in his thrall. It was then many of the fragments of the Spear of Valkon, which had been kept by his worshippers, were found. Valkon himself, it is said, did at last escape, taking the heart of the heart stone, a mere splinter to him, far away to the north and west. There he built a vault in the earth on an island at the Vyasgal delta (called now, Betenk), the only rocky place in that sandy expanse. Over the vault he built a town for many of his worshippers, and around the island a great wall (the bones of these walls can still be seen there on Betenk). And there he lived for numberless centuries.
It is said the first born of the Sun (not of Valkon, who is falsely called the Master of the Morning), who loved to dig in the earth for her gems, and was called Kurpalemečo, dust-breather, was made by Aito and Manta the Keeper of the Dead, and was given a place in the earth where he could collect them, protecting their bones and their souls as they awaited renewal by the Incorruptible One.
Once, Kurpalemečo sought to dig under Valkon’s city and into his very vault, knowing this god had made of himself an enemy of Aito and Manta.
Gnawing from the dusty depths, Kurpalemečo chanced upon the hidden vault and he found there the splinter of blue stone. At once, he returned with it to his abode in the depths.
Soon, Valkon came looking for the great splinter. Following the emptiness of Kurpalemečo’s excavation, he soon found the realm of the Keeper of the Dead and he was stunned for all the souls sleeping there in peace. He soon met Kurpalemečo and made a pact with him, telling a lie, saying he himself was the first and greatest enemy of Valkon, a lie which Kurpalemečo could not discern. Valkon told Kurpalemečo that in order to renew the souls in his keeping, they must be ingested by him, Kurpalemečo, the Lord of the Dead, in order to protect them from Valkon, who was aware of the designs of Aito and Manta and soon would come. Kurpalemečo agreed, and began to do as Valkon said, devouring the dead.
When Kurpalemečo had become engorged on the souls of the dead, Valkon leapt on him, sinking his teeth into Kurpalemečo’s throat; the meaning of the pact, as well as the identity of Valkon, becoming known then to the dust-breather. In this moment, his own spirit was devoured by Valkon and Kurpalemečo, who then became known as Nohadas, was left a mere husk of a god, alone without light in the deep.
And Nohadas was thus compelled to eat souls merely to remain alive, though much of the fire of those souls was in turn taken by Valkon, who did at times return to gnaw at him, but most often sent creeping, hateful monsters instead to draw once more on his blackened corpse.
Valkon then returned to his city on Betenk and made a king there, called Kolganthoiro (a rendering of his named in Kuetran), to rule in his stead. Thus ended the Dominion of Valkon, if not his powers. From the splinter of blue stone, which he had recovered from Nohadas, Valkon made an ax, the Blue Ax, and gave it to this king as a symbol of his might – and of the king’s debt to Valkon. Valkon then went into the earth and found a great refuge in the enclosing stone and dust, there to live off the souls that came to the Lord of the Dead, both the first wakers as well as those Hidden Ones who failed to safeguard their souls against his predations.
After many centuries, Kolganthoiro, the king of Betenk was felled by age and his sons squabbled over his kingdom, which spanned the long coast of the Great Sea. Greedy to devour the souls of the dead, Valkon did not lift a finger to end the wars that ensued. The city of Valkon itself soon fell into ruin and his people, those who remained, were scattered. Some say they were founders of Coliundam by the Sea, as well as the cities of the Iron Coast and beyond. Others say these cities were settled long before by Valkon’s folk. It is the belief of this writer the latter is true since those cities seem to possess many inscriptions of Kolganthoiro from the time of his rule.
One band of survivors fled to the Valkonian outpost of Koppeto, whose ancient name is forgotten. With them, they took the Blue Ax, around which a great worship grew and then a secretive kingdom. These folk were great for some time until latter days, after the Advent of Velos, when the man Koppet, a fugitive from Velos, came with sword in hand, giving the island its present name, and taking it to rule himself. A rival group of the Koppetoans, who also called themselves Velosians still (but later came to be called the Hoirotharasians), soon stole the Blue Ax, however, and fled with it across the narrow sea, back to the Shining Lands. They kept it until it was taken by a powerful group of Vyasgaleans to the town upstream called Varšambekon, which they refounded as the capital of their new league of cities. They soon hid it, however, in a house they built near the town of Ésisdagala, where it remained for some time.
The rival Velosians, called the Corvelosians, kept a shard of the blue stone themselves, secreting it from place to place for centuries, until it finally came to be kept in the villa of Lirfo, a merchant and powerful Velosian. However, Lirfo was swayed to the faith of Hoirotharos and became a secret member of the Society of the Blue Ax. The Hoirotharasians had intended to kill all of the Velosians and take away the blue shard, so as to join it with the Blue Ax, but in the ensuing civil war, Fonfelefo and many other Velosians escaped to the Iron Coast city of Ilitur. From there they waged new war with their Sangoran allies against the Hoirotharasians.
Blue Ax Wars
Those of Fonfelefo’s faction who fled Coliundam, capital of Hatan province, at the end of the civil war, sailed south to Ilitur on the Iron Coast (Šarnatara). They made an agreement with the Šarnatarans to renounce imperial designs on that people’s lands and deal with them decently, while the Šarnatarans would ally with them against the Emperor’s faction.
So began the War of Hatan. (This begins at virtually the same time of the Kuetran War – the occupation and then siege of Kondolhonc occurred as Fonfelefo’s armies marched on Estepa, the capital of Sangora – and the War of Hatan explains why the Emperor sent only two legions to attack East Kuetra around the time of the battle of Artafas.)
Fonfelefo and the Šarnatarans crossed the frontier into the province of Sangora and, with the help of some Sangoran legions, eventually attacked Estepa, taking control of the Sangoran capital. They then marched north, attacking Husca in Hatan, defeating the imperial garrison and capturing the Emperor’s magistrate, an Artagoan named Thayorshlío. Many Hatanish legions joined them. The strengthened army of Fonfelefo then headed north, taking Alrun on the coast and moving on toward the delta of the Vyasgal river where they meet a large force of six legions. There, across from the ruined walls of Betenc island, a great battle took place. (A road on the island leads across and joins a causeway that spans the delta. If Fonfelefo’s army had not captured it, on their way to Coliundam, they would have had to cross much further east, towards the Emperor’s heartland. While useful in some ways, the ruins on Betenc Island, besides being haunted, were rightly considered a trap by Fonfelefo’s generals.)
The battle proved indecisive, though a naval battle next to the large sea-island of Koppeto ended in Fonfelefo’s favor.
Fonfelefo’s army then settled into Betenc Island and though Anduso Protalo’s army was unable to dislodge them, they were prevented from crossing the causeway. However, a heavy snowstorm left the river half-frozen and badly affected the Emperor’s army. After many attacks, Fonfelefo’s forces broke through and headed to Coliundam, leaving enough men behind to control Betenc Island.
Fonfelefo’s intent now was to seize enough Imperial territory that the Emperor would have to negotiate with him. Fonfelefo’s Velosians wished now to abandon their pretense of the worship of Velos and make the worship of Valkon open and undisguised by the worship of Hoirotharos. They wanted to combine the blue shard they possessed with the Blue Ax and bring on a new Dominion of Valkon.
The Destruction of Nohadas by Velos after the battle of Artafas, however, diminished Valkon’s power at the very moment of his resurgence. His monsters which lurk in Land of the Dead were destroyed by Velos and Valkon was unable then to feed on the souls of the dead as he had for so many ages.
The War of Hatan began with Fonfelefo pledging to Valkon he would join the Blue Ax splinter he possessed with the Blue Ax itself after taking the latter from the Emperor.
(Copyright 2011 Ron Leighton)