- Dhanalwh the Pained - / by Frixos Masouras

From the three that rule over Alamaris, Dhanalwh is the most unimpressive; A word that Aeremus often uses to describe his brother, but never out of malice. Being immortal was a burden for Dhanalwh and one that weighed him down even before his first ascension, while still chasing prey over the stormswept peaks of Inkhaltir as a whelp.

Following his first ascension, he felt the need to understand the inhabitants of the unknown world that he and his siblings inherited. He, from the Three of Alamaris, was the only one that willed to learn more about the people whom the rest of his kind called “men”.  As the Code demanded however, he could never descend to their in his true Inkhaltiroz form. This will to know more about the ones that walked the ground overwhelmed him on a quiet drybreak night and after consulting with the Hymns of Kiuhlan, he spoke the spell that did away with his scales, his wings and his claws. He wore the flesh of man and left the comfort of his peak.

For the first three years he lived as a fletcher, a stable-hand, a barkeep and every other job that he could do along the way. The only professions that found him completely disinterested were the ones involving steel and bloodshed. Throughout his journey he understood more about the people that worshipped him, his brother and sister, even going as far as being invited to be “taken under the Wing” and join the Order of Aeremus. Although the idea of his brother finding out that he became one of his worshippers was rather amusing at first, he decided not to give his location away by joining. Aeremus is the one that men call ‘The Just’ among other things, but his wrath is absolute.  Dhanalwh would never oppose his brother or place his small “expedition” at risk.

“Love is for those who don’t have anything better to do with their time” he overheard a drunken old man spit one night during the Salt Festival in Rahmalas. He never really understood much about love, but Dhanalwh did meet a fisherman’s daughter who was peculiarly interested in him. Before he even knew what was what he was exchanging vows and oaths, to his sister Myrolaenis to whom people swore to when it came to love and such things. And yes, although she was aware that her brother had undertaken this folly, she never spoke a word to Aeremus. Instead she watched quietly as her brother married a fisherman’s daughter who reared his three children. Two daughters and a son.
Seventeen more years had gone by, and the youngest of his three wore the emerald tunic, swearing her life to Myrolaenis. Something which pleased him, as he had great admiration for his sister unlike the fear that he harbored for his brother.  His second, his son, lived with them but was hardly ever home. Often he would return drunk and bearing scars from brawls he would start over nothing. This, Dhanalwh never understood. His eldest, whose name is the only one he still recalls, loved him to no end but she believed that she was destined for more than just being someone's wife or an ale-bringer at some stale and disgusting tavern filled with flesh-starved sailors. Following her seventeenth birth celebration with her family, she quietly left the house at dawn. Dhanalwh’s wife was mad with grief at losing her eldest, he however smiled to himself with his child’s initiative. That was the first time he prayed to his sister, so that she may watch over her wherever she went. Her name was Eralsa.

Much to his surprise, his offspring were mere mortals. Not dragons and most importantly, not immortal. This he discovered when his son picked up a sword and fought in a dispute over land between two merchants, too rich to know the importance of life. That was the first time that Dhanalwh had tasted the bitterness of the water that fell from his eyes. “Tears”, as the men who worshipped him called it. The fight that cost him son, however, soon became much larger than anyone could possibly imagine. Over the next four years people were thoughtlessly slaughtered in their houses as the thirst for control of the Tarpithian fields spilled all over the land. The Five Lords ruling Alamaris could not intervene seeing how most of the people involved in this dispute were benefactors and title holders, firmly tied to their own seats of power.

The merchants from the north, “the Miners” they called them, slashed and carved their way south west in a matter of moons. One eerie and humid morning Dhanalwh watched the people he lived with in Rahmalas cut open before him and their daughters raped on the docks, thrown in the water or taken as trophies by paid blades. He himself was captured, beaten, battered and starved in a wagon under an unforgiving drybreak sun. He was driven to an estate whose name, much like almost everyone other name, he forgot. All, but hers. Eralsa.

The estate master was a merchant, rich and power-crazed like those responsible for the bloodshed and pain that ravaged the land. He tended to fields, fed horses and was whipped on a daily basis. A slave to the men who worshipped him. Him. One of the Sky Lords, a Great Dragon, a World Keeper, an Inkhaltir deity. He had completely forgotten who he was and where he truly belonged in his existence. Three more years were wiped like dust from a table, passed through whip cracks, punches and endless nights of starvation.

The rest of the slaves around him were dying by the dozens through the days, only to be replaced by fresh flesh acquired through the Miner’s raids. The master of the estate however, grew curious with Dhanalwh and his resilience. During a banquet he threw in the name of Aeremus the Unforgiving Flame, he wished to entertain his guests by displaying Dhanalwh before them. Strapped to a table and cut open from throat to navel, Dhanalwh the Pained could not hide himself from his brother's gaze any longer. Fire rained from the sky. Men, women and children. Merchants, land owners and mercenary captains screamed as their flesh ran like water from their bones. Some chocked on their own smoke. Some were unlucky enough to spend their last hours with ash and burning embers shafted deep within their muscles, lying skinless and burned amidst the remains of the estate.

Aeremus could not believe what his brother had done. Years may seem like hours to the Inkhaltiroz, but Aeremus the Just lived every second of that disgraceful discovery. Dhanalwh was forcefully pulled from the world of men and restored to his true form by his sister. He did not speak upon arriving home, at the Peak. Avoiding the disowning gaze of his brother, he slowly walked over the edge of the peak overlooking Alamaris. Starting with his left wing, he gripped its root firmly with his teeth, gleaming in the morning sun and ripped it clean and hard off his back. The right one soon followed.

That pain, he believed, would be far greater and costlier than everything he felt while donning the flesh of man so that he may forget what he had experienced during his time among them. 

Dhanalwh is white, almost gray. With his neck fully arched upwards he wouldn't even clear a young pine. The scales on his smooth and spineless back are small and lack the sheen found on those of his brother and sister. His downwardly slant eyes, now always downcast, sit deeply under wide and scaly brows. His horned crown is short and split into two inwardly turning spines. His four limbs bear the menacing musculature found on all the Inkhaltiroz. His tail is thin and long, the longest among the three that rule over Alamaris.  

He may not hold sway over matters of love or war, yet Dhanalwh is on the lips of almost everyone else that walks Alamaris. Some poor and some rich. Although he may not appreciate the fact that his worshippers remember him when losing a loved one, he finds some comfort that in their prayers to his name they find some comfort of their own. All who have ever felt alone in life, are always reminded by those who swear to the Wingless One that they are not.

Dhanalwh has no order or churches to his name. His first prayer was written by a nameless farmer on a large rock, not far from the estate that faced the wrath of Aeremus. Soon after, the site became a place of worship and pilgrimage for all those who felt the need to say their goodbyes to the ones they lost. By uttering his prayers they remind themselves that much like the Wingless One, they too had clenched their teeth against the pain that comes with feeling and being alive.      

I feel the pain, the sun and rain
I feel the loss of  all those slain
I feel the pain, but bear no shame
I feel for all the old and lame
I feel for those who cannot feel
I feel what’s true, I feel what’s real
I feel my wings that aren't there
I feel what you could never dare
Wingless One, your tears I feel
I fear no fire, no whip or steel
I feel.

 

- Frixos Masouras 2014