Song Of The Sun Child
General Disclaimer: Xena and Gabrielle are characters owned by MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is gained.
A big thanks to all the guys on the Bardic Circle for their advice and helpful critiquing.
Comments welcome: Id love to know what you think. Lariel_a@Hotmail.com
My song is one of the oldest songs of my People, taught to us by the great Sun Spirit when the earth was new and fresh, and passed down from mother to daughter, father to son. It is our gift to each generation; one of the most precious we can give to our children, for it guides their steps and helps them find the way. The way of the People. The way of the land.
Listen to this song, my child; it will light the path that you must walk, now you are on the treacherous road to adulthood. The path you will now follow twists and turns like a snake, with many promises that can lead you from your way and entice you to follow false tracks where the unwary will fall; parts of the world where the graceful light of the golden haired Sun Spirit who smiles down on us each day cannot reach.
Listen to the song, and find your path.
Once, long ago, our People were favoured of the Spirits. They saw us and marvelled, and rejoiced in the beauty they had created. They decided that we needed a land just as beautiful to live in, so the Spirits sliced open the belly of the Earth Spirit, and from his stomach sprang the land. Borne of a Gods blood, it was green and fertile, with trees springing from his ribs, rocks and mountains from his bones, and rivers and streams flowing from his pure blood. The Spirits gave the land to the People and granted us all that we would need. We had fish and animals for food, moulded from the flesh of the generous Earth Spirit; berries, roots and nuts were given to the land by the Tree Spirits and pure, sweet water was sent to us by the Mountain God, who cried every morning at the beauty of the land.
We gave thanks to the land for all its bounty, and honoured the Gods for their generosity and favour. For were we not the favoured children of the Spirits? Had they not given us all that we needed to nourish the stomach and the soul?
But the People did not celebrate enough, or the ritual dances were not good enough, or the songs we sung were not worshipful enough. Or our paintings were not true enough. Or maybe it was the actions of one man, or a tribe of men - we do not know what angered the Spirits, but in their fury, they sent down a plague to torment us. They formed the deadly plague into our likeness - it was a mockery of us; men who wore their bones on the outside. For who else among the People has such white skin, unless it be the grin of death when the flesh has left the body? That is how we knew that those men were the plague, sent down by the angry Gods to bring death to us all and to the land.
The Plague Men brought strong medicine which killed the People - life sliced away with sparkling silver sticks or flying feathers which they loosed on us in their thousands. They tamed the sun and broke her into pieces and sent the flaming balls screaming across the sky and crashing into the land, scorching and killing everything where they landed. The land slowly died, and the People wept and rent their skin.
The land cried. The black stench of death and decay spread from the Plague Mens camp like an infection, leaving deep brown scars in the earth. The majestic, strong trees were gone; the animals hunted; the plants torn from their beds. The Mountain Gods tears dried, as the land could no longer touch him with its beauty. The People cried, and starved - and fled, hunted by the Plague Men like game.
These were the darkest times in our Peoples history. And darkness breeds darkness, as poison begats death. From the sea came the greatest darkness the Plague Men had - we called her the Dark Warrior. She was the midnight terror that stalks all mens dreams; her cries shook the bones of our warriors, and her thirst for blood was unstoppable. She was the terror of her own people, and the nightmare of our People. We prayed to the Spirits to forgive us, even though we did not know what we had done.
But the Spirits did not listen. They had taken their ears and buried them deep underneath the mountains, where no man could reach.
But the People were resourceful. They had watched the Dark Warrior and the Plague Men, and had learnt much about the art of death. They practised, and learned what the Plague Men feared most. They wore the cloak of night, to avenge the land which the Plague Men had raped and murdered. They brought suffering to the white people - their screams could be heard through the airless night, hollow and echoing as they croaked words which we did not understand. We thought they prayed to the Sea God, and we became afraid that the Spirits would be angrier with us, so we let the Dark Warrior and the Plague Men go, even though we knew that they would come back.
The land was hurt; like a wounded boar, it charges and attacks those who try to help it. For many years, our efforts to soothe and heal the land were rejected and the People grew sick and hungry. But we were patient, because we loved the land, and slowly it healed, although scars remain to this day. So we spread out over the land like a blanket, protecting it and searching out any white men who might still infect the land, like a worm hiding in the heart. We rooted out all the worms we could find, and hung them as a warning to all others who might come with the purpose of harming the land and hunting our People.
We did not see the Plague Men again in such numbers for many seasons. The land and the People grew stronger, but still we practised the art of death.
And then, one day - she was back.
Again, we did not know what we had done to anger the Spirits. We were respectful and tender with the bruised land; we took only what we needed. With proper rituals and prayers we had honoured the land and replaced what we took. But the Spirits sent a fierce group of Plague Men to test our People, and when we passed the test, they sent the Dark Warrior once more.
This time, the black haired woman brought someone with her. The Golden Haired One, whose hair shone like the sun and whose eyes gleamed like the water in the sea. At first, the People thought she was the same as the Dark One; the two were always together - as day follows night, so did the Sun Haired One follow the Dark Warrior. She followed her into the land of blood and fury, but unlike the Dark Warrior, she did not smile and laugh as she walked the path of death. The People watched the Sun Haired Woman as she trod in the shadow of the Dark Warrior, and saw how the blackness that came from the warrior reached out to embrace her, and the People feared that the light in her face would be drowned in darkness. And although she was of the Plague Men, the People felt sad that the daylight would have to be extinguished by the powerful midnight.
We saw the two women fight. Many words of bitterness and hurt were said. The Sun Haired Woman cried as the Dark Warrior turned her back, and the People saw the shadow of midnight cross the fair ones face. They cried for the death of the light, in a land which was already in so much darkness. But the Sun Haired Woman did not die.
The People grew desperate, the battles more bloody and everyone feared for their lives. The Dark One would leave the wounded and dying of her own people as well as ours on the field. We couldnt take our wounded and nurse them; our dead went without the proper ceremonies and their spirits wailed across the earth, haunting the living with the vision of their own soon-to-be tortured fates.
The Dark Warrior saw none of this - her eyes were closed to all but the blood, which ran down her face like tears as she tore the heart of the Sun Haired Woman in half. And the People wept as they saw how low the Dark Warrior could go, and were sick to their stomachs when they saw the dead Plague Men fighting alongside their brothers - death too was at the mercy of the Dark Woman. How could the People survive against such a scourge, sent by the Spirits with command over all the forces in the world?
The Sun Haired One grew weaker as the days passed, while the Dark Warrior fed off her power and grew stronger. The sun slipped from the sky; orange and sickly, she closed her eyes and died slowly whilst the night crept up with smoky clouds and choked the last rays of light from the land. All was midnight now, and the wails of the dead and dying echoed through the emptiness of the night.
It was the end of days, as was said in prophesy after prophesy.
We prayed to the Gods. We made sacrifices - something we had never done before, but the Spirits removed their eyes and buried them deep below the mountain so that they could not see the suffering of the land and the people.
But the Sun Spirit grew strong again and at last woke, and saw the devastation that had been wrought in the name of her brethren. She grew angry with the other Gods, and spoke to the People:
"Favoured People of the Spirits, listen to me. I am your Sun Spirit, and my heart cries blood at the destruction I see around me."
The People cowered in fear, and prayed to the powerful Sun Spirit to kill the Dark Warrior, but the fiery God spoke to the People:
"Do not ask me to look upon the Black Haired Woman with my burning eyes, for she is my daughter as much as you are my sons and daughters."
The People despaired, and cast their eyes to the ground. But the Sun Spirit spoke again:
"Do not despair, favoured People. I have sent my spirit daughter to walk amongst you. She alone can turn back the tide of the engulfing night, and restore the light into the heart of darkness."
The People cheered, and honoured the child as their saviour.
"But how will we know your spirit daughter, mighty One?" they asked.
"She is my daughter. Her hair shines golden in the afternoon sun, burnished copper in the last rays of dusk and wheat yellow in the strong rays of the morning. Her skin is as white as the clouds that skate across the blue sky, and her eyes will blaze with passion - a light amidst the drowning darkness. You will know her. She is the only hope."
"Does she have mighty weapons? Does she have an army of Spirits to fight by her side?" the People asked.
"No. She is alone and defenceless, fragile and weak, yet strong as the sun for what can extinguish my eternal flame? She will defeat the darkness through love."
And with that, the Sun Spirit closed her eyes and returned to her rest in the skies high above.
The People saw the Sun Haired Woman in battle, and saw how she gave water to the wounded and the dying, and we knew she was pure of heart and filled with love. We heard how her eyes blazed with righteousness when she stopped the Dark Haired Woman from killing our warrior, and we knew she was strong. We saw how her hair shone like silver and gold when the sun struck it, and we knew she was the Child of the Sun. We saw the light of love in the Sun Childs eyes blaze out to the Dark Warrior, and we saw how the seeds of light that she planted in the Dark One took root in the stony soil of her heart. We watched as they slowly grew, until we could see a faint light in the Warriors eyes when she looked at the Sun Child.
The People worshipped her, as she held off the darkness so we could gather our wounded and sing the proper songs to release our dead from their chains. They crossed over with joy in their hearts and the Sun Childs name on their lips. And as both sides cared for their injured, the Sun Child watched, with her arms wrapped around the Dark Warrior.
In the morning, when the sun came up, we saw that the Plague Men had gone. The Dark Warrior and the Sun Child had gone too, and we blessed the spirits for calling back their children. No longer did black-veiled death walk amongst our fields, trees and rivers. The Gods recovered their eyes and ears, and listened to the Peoples songs and laughed and wept with us as we all slowly began to heal again.
The Sun Child and the Dark Warrior came again into the Peoples lives as many seasons passed, and each time we cheered to see the light blazing from the Sun Childs eyes, and we sang to see the flickering flame that had grown in the Dark Warriors soul. Now, both would stand with their arms around each other as the People and the Plague Men would fight, and talk and - eventually, with the Sun Childs help - grow to understand each other.
The People and the Plague Men eventually learned much about the other. Our ways were different, and our alliances as fragile as a reed floating on the river, but they were made stronger each time the Sun Child and Dark Warrior would come down from their home with the Spirits.
So now, my child - learn from the song of the Sun Child. Learn about the power of love and the force of the light. Respect the Spirits and the land, and the People. Vow to live life the way of the Sun Child, and honour what she taught us.
The way of life is love.
Welcome to the land, Gabrielle.
Return to The Bard's Corner