The Tale of the Winged People

It began in the South, the tales of the Winged People begin, the land of the unconquered Sun. For many millions of years, the thousand thousand tribes of humanity lived in peace and prosperity in the realm of their father, the Sun. Every day, the Sun watched them and smiled on them, making the plants grow for them and for their animal kin, and every night he would retire into the underworld to rest. The Sun warned his children, “Fire belongs to me. Do not build any for yourselves, or you will frighten your animal kin. They will think that you have become little suns like your father, and might burn up the whole world." So the people promised their father that they would build no fire for themselves.

But in the cold night, the children of the Sun grew frightened. They lacked the eyes of the owls who could see in the dark. They lacked the fur of the wolves to keep them warm. Forgetting their promise, they built a fire for themselves. They grew warm again and could see one another again. But the animals became frightened and ran away from them. They stopped speaking the same language as the human people, so that humans could speak to them only with great difficulty.

When the Sun returned in the morning he saw what had happened and became furious with his children. “I told you not to do this, and now look what you have wrought!" And so the Sun removed himself high into the heavens, forsaking his children and telling them, “Since you have disobeyed me, I will leave you, and if you try to follow me, I will burn you up and throw you back to the ground."

One of the people grew indignant at the Sun's response, saying, “Has the Sun not done this himself? He made us without eyes to see in the dark or fur to warm us, and then left us in the night. What else could we do? Now he admonishes us for the consequences of his own folly?"

The others rebuked him, though, saying, “We broke our promise, and put fear into the hearts of our kin. We must work to heal the wound we have opened."

They could not dissuade the indignant one, though, and instead he took his family and went north, leaving the land of the Sun behind. They ventured into the north, and grew populous. Meanwhile, the rest of humanity worked to reconcile themselves with their animal kin. First Wizard discovered the axis mundi and learned how to speak with all animals and shift into their shapes, and in time, the wound began to heal. They did not realize that the greater wound had festered in the heart of their indignant brother.

When his descendants finally returned home many generations later, they came as conquerors, disdaining their brethren as something less than people. “You savages still worship your father, the Sun," they laughed. “Our great ancestor told us of the Sun's wickedness. Even now, we build an empire to challenge him. We will conquer the skies themselves, and launch our armies into the heavens to take our revenge upon him!"

The people said to their conquerors, “Poor cousins, we beg your forgiveness; we failed you. We did not see how deeply this wound festered in your hearts, to drive you to such ends. But please, as your family, we beg you, turn away from this course! The Sun has promised that any who come after him, he will burn and throw back down to the earth. We struggle still to heal the wound our first folly opened so long ago. Do not create another."

But the Winged People would not listen. Hatred and resentment had taken too deep a root in their hearts. They hated the wizards, because they saw them as supplicants to their hated father. So they sought them all out and slaughtered them. Then they fixed their great wings and flew into the sky to attack the Sun himself. When the Sun saw them, he laughed at them and set them ablaze. They came crashing back to the ground in fire, as the thousand thousand tribes looked on, all their armies broken and their empire left in ruins. The Sun's wrath burned the earth. The waters flooded the land and the jungles grew.

The Sun's wrath grew so hot that they feared he might set the whole earth ablaze. The wizards gathered together and beseeched their father, begging him for mercy, but he would not relent. He burned away the skies themselves.

All the people cried. They cried for the fires they lit that separated them from their kin. They cried for their poor cousins, driven to madness by their hatred and resentment. They cried for the earth, subjected to the Sun's wrath because of their own failures. The whole world joined them in their grieving, until their tears formed a new heaven. The clouds gathered, shielding them from the Sun. The rain fell, cooling the fire of his anger. The Sun saw this and relented.

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