THE DHASHARMAHN - Part One

Jaldrali guide my hand to success. This is a translation of the Dhasharmahn, one of the prophetic books of the Chardrakesh. It is dated later than the Yajhanir, which foretold the coming of the Demon of the Lake, but it is earlier than the Glabhelain, which details some events unrelated to the rise of the Demon. The Dhasharmahn chronicles the events after Marik's defeat by the Demon, and in particular follows the deeds of Surik, Marik's shieldmate. It also makes some predictions of the return of Marik.

This is written in the year 1,997 of the Verentian Calendar, by the hand of the scholar Velhir of Rosphult. The blessings of Maldai upon you all.

SURIK AND THE KELBERINI

The clan leaders were surprised to see him, and bowed awkwardly in greetings.

"We had feared the great demon's blow had done as much damage to you as he did to Marik," said their leader.

Surik rubbed his chest and nodded grimly. The Demon of the Lake, the `Great Demon', had merely swatted him aside like an insignificant peasant, concerned only with the real opponent, Marik. Surik had missed the final blows, but saw the result, and it caused him great anguish.

"Is the god Marik dead, lord?"

For now, Surik thought, yes, Marik was dead. His body had been rendered into an unrecognizable heap of gore, his blood sprayed across the sands, turning them as red as a sunset. And when evening did come, Surik felt the sky and desert would melt into one crimson void. He looked at the distraught faces of the desert clansmen, a hundred warriors who drank battle as a daily regimen, proud men of the Chardrakesh who never flinched in the face of adversity. They all looked uncertain.

"No," said Surik. "He is not dead. Gods do not die."

Surik ordered them to wrap the corpse in the feathers of the pelithyn and then build a litter to carry it on. They would go to a place of healing, he told them, far to the east beyond the Meshan-Talai. This place where Marik fell, its hills and crater, shall be called Kelkadh, or Godsfall. A great temple called Lorigel will be built. Those who build this temple shall live in Lorigel and none other than they and their kin shall ever see it and be permitted to live.

The place that Surik led the clansmen to was called Cha Kelkorm, and it was in the land of Hoshuk. In Cha Kelkorm Marik was known, and Surik awed the inhabitants with his godly might and his tale of the battle. At Cha Kelkorm there was a great cavern which led to the underworld. There was also a pool of life, which bubbled up from the rivers of the underworld. Surik had the people build a bed and chamber for the god Marik and a system of pipes to draw the waters of life into a bath. Then he selected six adults to care for him.

"For this task you must take a vow of silence, for no one must know the condition of the god. Also, you must wilfully be blinded, for no one must see the god Marik as he recovers. I shall set a pair of sun-birds to guard the place, should anyone be foolish enough to attack."

When this was done Surik led the clansmen back across the Chardrakesh. "From now on you are the Kelberini, the God-Bearers, for you carried a god to a place of rest. Each year at this time, a pilgrimage will be held for those of the Kelberini who choose to go. More importantly, your descendents will not be Kelberini until they too make the pilgrimage, for they must know the way to Cha Kelkorm, so that they may serve the god Marik should he call them.

"This place called Kelkadh is a holy place and must be guarded, for there are secrets in the god's blood. You will take the red sand and smelt it into the sacred blood-metal. Because Marik is the god of all the Chardrakesh, you will trade the blood-metal to all the peoples of the desert, and in return they will bring you food, animals, gifts, and offerings to Marik. Never shall anyone who is not of the Chardrakesh ever be permitted wield a weapon of blood-metal, for that is a grave insult to Marik. Repayment for such an insult must be death, and it is the duty of any Chardraki warrior to kill a foreigner who has wielded a weapon of blood-metal."

So spoke Surik, so it has been since the day the words were spoken. We kiss the blooded sands at the feet of our god, and show our enemies no mercy.