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The mountains rose, high and mighty, about the territory of Bellum. The mountain range spread out endlessly, tranquil and majestic, and they seemed to be reaching upward toward the heavens. Enfolded in these huge giants, in two valleys separated by a small expanse of rocky hills, were two cities. To the south of the hills there lay the city of Chisolm, and to the north of the hills was the city of Whit. Though the cities were so close to each other when it came to distance, the two were bitter enemies.
Once, a long time ago, when the mountain cities were just starting to become successful, the people in the mountains experienced a time of famine. Food and resources were scarce, and it was every city for itself. Times were rough, and even though the cities had once been friends, a war broke out between them.
The war raged on for three endless years. Finally, and for reasons unknown, the cities ceased fighting. However, they still remained bitter enemies, and everyone knew that someday, one city would strike again and start another war. No one knew when this would happen, though, so there was always the threat of attack.
In Chisolm, the town council of elders was meeting to discuss the town’s affairs. The meeting was to be a secret, and it was supposed to be closed off from the common people. Members of the council were the only ones supposed to know about it. However, the maids at council member Kelzak’s house were gossipers, and by the time the meeting came about, the whole house knew about it.
Irensis, a young maid, had heard of the meeting, and had found the perfect place from which to sit and listen in on it. In the attic above the room where the meeting was being held, there was a vent through which you could hear all that was said below. It was here that Irensis sat, with her ear pressed against the vent.
“…have to act quickly…”
“…strike them before they strike us…”
“…wipe them all out…”
Irensis sat up, aghast. She almost cried out when her head hit a low rafter above her, but she stopped herself just in time. She could not tell anyone of her eavesdropping, for she would be punished. Irensis crawled out of the attic, dusted herself off, and then snuck out of the building. She then started to sprint headlong towards the mountains, her long blonde hair streaming behind her. When she stopped running, she stood, panting, the hills rising and falling about her. Her usually rosy cheeks were bright red, and her full complexion was unusually pale. Her red lips were now white, and her face wore a look of distress. She walked around the bend to find a young man facing her.
He was tall, especially so when compared to her. His sandy colored, curly hair was being blown about by the wind. His nose was soft, rounded, and his lips were full. He was muscular, and looked stronger than most his age, but at the same time, he looked soft and warm.
“Fiyero!” she cried out, “What are you doing here?”
“It’s all right,” the boy named Fiyero said, walking forward and embracing Irensis. They were an odd match, Irensis tiny and petite, and Fiyero tall and lanky. They pulled apart, staring into each other’s eyes as if they could see all the way to each others’ souls. “No one is near.”
“Oh Fiyero! Everything is not all right, it’s all so terrible! Your village is in danger. I heard the council saying that they would attack your city and leave no survivors! I cannot bear to lose you, for I love you so dearly. You must not go back, for then you would be sentencing yourself to death. I cannot object to the council because no one was to know about their meeting or their plan, and if they knew about our love, they would kill us both. What are we to do?” sobbed Irensis.
Fiyero spoke, his voice soft, but forceful and determined. “Irensis, you must go back to Chisolm and let no one know of this, for you are right, if anyone finds out about our relationship, it would mean death. I shall leave and search for the mountain god’s cave. If I find it, the mountain god may help me set things right. You must not follow me, nor mention me to anyone, for I could not allow any harm to befall you because of me.”
With one last embrace, the two parted. Irensis headed back to Chisolm, and Fiyero headed off into the wooded part of the mountains. Irensis walked home, tears streaming down her cheeks wondering if she would ever see her beloved Fiyero again.
Fiyero walked through the forest with apprehension, for people had been known to enter and never again emerge. However, he did not encounter anything foreboding, and that night he stopped to sleep under a large oak tree. He slept soundly until at dawn, raindrops started to fall from the blackened sky. Irritated, he hoisted himself to his feet and walked closer to the tree’s trunk where he would be sheltered better. He was about to lie down when he heard an alarming rustling noise. Intrigued, he walked over to the bushes nearby to investigate, however, there was nothing there but holly and briars.
Fiyero headed back to his make shift bed under the tree, but a small movement in its branches caught his eye. He looked closer look, and nearly fell backwards in shock. It was a woman who, instead of hair, had snakes growing from her scalp!
The creature seemed to notice the shocked look on his face, for she opened her mouth to speak, saying, “All is not what it appears to be. Often you have heard this told, but with me it is exceptionally true. My looks, neither rhyme nor reason can explain. But do not be frightened, for by conversing with me, you just may gain.”
Fiyero took another look at the creature, and sure enough, she was not a hideous gorgon like he had thought. She was actually quite beautiful aside from the snakes. She was cloaked in a sky blue robe, which brought out her rosy cheeks. She had full, pink lips and soft green eyes. Her snakes hung in waves down her back, and though they were menacing, they were not hideous.
Fiyero could not help himself asking, “Who are you? Why are you here?”
“It matters not what, but who,” replied the creature, “You may call me Cylus.”
“Very well then, Cylus,” replied Fiyero, “Do you know where the cave of the mountain god is hidden? I must find it so that he can help me set things right, and if I do not hurry, I will never be able to be with the girl that I love.”
“So wise, so young they say, do never live long. The course of true love never did run smooth, but perhaps there is a method to such madness,” Cylus mused.
“What do you mean by such riddles? What is it that you know?” demanded Fiyero.
“Alas, as my words fly up, my thoughts remain below, but know this: all that glistens is not gold,” riddled Cylus.
“Tell me Cylus, what must I do now? The fate of my love depends upon this cave!” cried Fiyero.
“Well,” replied Cylus, “Nothing can come of nothing.”
“That still does not help me!” shouted Fiyero.
“Then let parting be thine sorrow,” Cylus coolly replied.
“Wait!” yelled Fiyero, but it was too late. Cylus disappeared with one last tinkling laugh.
As Fiyero continued on his quest, Irensis remained in Chisolm, working from dawn until dusk each day. She wished that Fiyero was at home, for she missed him dearly. However, she was glad that he remained safe, or at least, safer than if he had remained in Whit.
Then the next day, something terrible happened. Before dawn, Chisolm was unexpectedly attacked. The people of Whit had heard of Chisolm’s plan to raid their city, and had struck first. Much blood was shed, and by the end of the battle, Irensis’s body, like many others’, lay, stone cold and unmoving, on the hard mountain. She had been trying to help evacuate the city’s children when a raider had jumped out at her. She was unarmed, and was killed. However, Fiyero did not know of this, for he was miles away.
Fiyero stood at the entrance to the cave, awed. He had finally found it, the most ordinary looking of all of the mountain caves. He felt sure that this was the correct cave, though. It felt different, more sacred almost, than any other cave, and it matched up perfectly with what Cylus had said, ‘all that glistens is not gold’. As he walked boldly into the cave, he felt even more confident that this was the place he had been searching for.
The cave was silent. You could not hear the wind whispering, the birds singing, or the sound of muffled footsteps. Also, the cave was very grand. Even the stalactites looked mighty and pristine.
Fiyero walked forward to the center of the cave. There, he knelt and prayed to the mountain god, asking for help so that he could set everything right and be with the girl that he loved. He stayed there for hours, and when dusk finally came, he exited the cave and went to sleep.
The next morning dawned, and Fiyero was nowhere to be seen. In Chisolm, Irensis’s body had mysteriously disappeared. That night, there was a new star in the sky, now known as the North Star, which outshone every other star in the sky. The mountain god had answered Fiyero’s plea, and had combined both Fiyero’s and Irensis’s spirits and launched them into the sky so that they could be together, forever. Because their love had been so strong, theirs was the brightest star in the night sky.
Only one person ever guessed what had happened to Fiyero and Irensis, and even then, all that Cylus would ever say about it was, “So wise, so young they say, do never live long.”