“The Twins” by Sean Boyd
In the old town of Urgra there were only a few families left. The dust from the great volcano had precipitated to the ground which allowed the sun’s rays to reach the earth with greater intensity. The increase in ultra-violet radiation (they called it Rahaik, meaning sun poison) affected their ability to reproduce, and shortened their life spans. The oldest of their clan only lived to be 9,600 moons now, instead of the 20,000 or more as told in the old stories about their heroes (this would be 800 years instead of 1,800). Gradually the population dwindled, and neighboring clans disappeared. Hunting parties were becoming less successful because the herds of four-leggeds were decreasing in size due to the Newcomers. In the old days they would have wiped out these intruders with fire and storm, but now they hunted only after the sun had set, which greatly reduced their take and limited their ability to scare off scavengers.
The Newcomers were not afraid of the flashes of fire that the First Ones caused to fall from the sky. Though they were clever, they never attributed the storms and flashes of light to the First Ones but rather to acts of some extra-mundane forces. The Newcomers weren’t fast, but they were very efficient in their movement and could cover a lot of ground before they required sustenance. They knew of the First Ones, but avoided them by staying hidden in the forests at night. Under the bright sun they would venture into the savannah to poach from the First Ones’ herds.
The residents of Urgra understood their plight. They knew that their time was over, and lamented that they would be replaced by such primitive creatures. The First Ones saw the smaller brains and inability to manifest personal energy outside the body as significant weaknesses on the Newcomers part. The First Ones could easily create fire or weather from thought and use their will to move and transform objects of any size. The brutes who would end up rulers of the land could do none of these things. They used crude tools to achieve limited goals, and their ability to communicate was less complex than even the infants of the First Ones.
One night under a full moon the elders held council on the means to best sustain their species. At the current rate of demise they knew it would be less then ten generations before the last of them perished. The council would decide what, if any, action should be taken. All night long the speeches of the Elders filled the air. Those not invited to speak sat in a circle around the meeting of the wise, graven-faced mothers and fathers who would chose the fate of the once great race. When the sky began to brighten, and they would soon have to seek shelter from the sun, a vote was taken. The vote was unanimous, they would move north.
Far to the north and towards the rising sun was a mountain range that reached high into the ether, and in the shadows of these mountains they would hide from the sun. The place they chose was an area of steep ridges that had been explored by Bafa when he was on his epic journey generations before. He had named the area Bhutan, the land of shadow.
Once the choice was made there was little call for delay and preparations commenced immediately. The First Ones had few possessions. The land supplied plenty so there had never been a need to stockpile and it took only one day to prepare. The journey began at nightfall. Through the manifestation of their will they transported each other, in a leap-frog manner, in hops that were as far as line of sight permitted. Focusing their power on a person or object, they moved it to some high ground far in the distance. In the same manner that they had hunted and built their palaces since he beginning of time they traveled the great distance before daybreak.
It wasn’t until they had gathered in the shadow of the great mountains that they realized the twins were missing. Over the next few moons a group of trackers went back to Urgra to search for them. After three moons the trackers returned to Bhutan without the twins, and the clan mourned the loss. Some said it was no surprise, as the twins were quite mischievous and often disobeyed the laws that kept First Ones from interacting with Newcomers. They were probably out playing tricks on the Newcomers on the night that the First Ones decided to move.
The twins arrived back in Urgra and found it empty. They had often spent days away from their village and had a favorite cave in which they hid from the sun. When they returned to their town and found all the inhabitants gone, they were perplexed. They waited through the night and when no one arrived they set out to determine where everyone had gone. They stuck together and searched far and wide. After a few moons they returned to Urgra and saw signs that others had been there, but there were no clues as to where they had gone. As it became clear they would never see any of their clan again, the twins became very lonely.
The long days of hiding from the sun in their empty stone homes began to wear on their spirits and they became irritable with each other. The Newcomers ventured closer and closer to Urgra and the twins knew it was only a matter of time before they were discovered. They decided to ease their loneliness by interacting with the Newcomers. They knew that actions that were ordinary to them, like levitating, would seem miraculous to the brutes and decided to use their abilities to their advantage. First they shadowed the Newcomers in order to learn their customs and language. After a few months, when they had learned the brutes’ ways, the twins revealed themselves as the entities who were responsible for the acts of nature that terrified the Newcomers.
The twins had different styles. One liked to work with fire and the other water. One would make the earth tremble and the other filled the air with locusts. They had always been competitive with each other and decided to make up a game of sorts. They would head off in different directions and see who could most firmly control a separate group of Newcomers. The one who ended up with the strongest and most devoted group would win.
One headed north to the ancient First Ones’ city on the bank of the River of Tigers. He rebuilt a huge stone mansion that had once served as a meeting house for the Elders. It was there he would perform his awesome feats to attract his following. His brother headed south to the mountain they called Sinai for all the thorn bushes that grew there. More austere than his brother he set up a simple home in a cave on the side of the mountain. They agreed to meet on the shores of the quiet sea every full moon to compare progress.
The stone mansion was given over to creating sensation that satisfied the carnal desires of his following. Sacrifices, lavish feasts, and sexual abandon were all encouraged as a way to feed the frenzy of the devoted. This approach amassed a large following that grew in might and number. They became organized and fought battles against their neighbors. For the first few hundred years it seemed that Baal would surely win.
Yahwey on the other hand was more subtle in his approach. He didn’t seek to create a large following, but worked with small groups to develop the best attributes that would create the greatest potential. He prodded his followers along, preferring symbolic acts of devotion. His was a slow process but he had one group in which he was particularly confident.
At their monthly meetings Baal was often boastful and teased his brother about his apparent lack of success. Yahwey admitted that perhaps he wasn’t giving his brother much competition, but insisted that the end of the game might be after their death. From this sentiment Baal realized that his brother was actually concerned with the welfare and development of the Newcomers. Baal teased him further. He didn’t care about the Newcomers, he sought only to entertain himself at their expense. While his stature grew he watched his brother exhaust himself trying to help the brutes.
Because of the offerings delivered to the twins, they never had to venture forth into the sun to gather food. This greatly expanded their lives and they ended up living as long as some of their ancestors. For a time it looked as if Baal would surely win, but Yahwey had made great strides with some of his smaller groups. In the end Baal tired of the game and sought to spend the last of his days in his brother’s company. Out of boredom and loneliness he conceded and joined Yahwey on Mount Sinai. They lived out their days together and passed away having never seen their kin again.
As for the Newcomers, Yahwey’s group ended up stronger. As always, history is written by the victors. There is a very famous book that tells the rest of this story.