First, there was the Void.
And the Great Mother swam through the sea of nothing and was cradled by the Void. And the Void sang to Her. The Mother described the Void, and all the infinite they contained. And their love was eternal because there was no time and so everything was endless.
The Great Mother sang, and from Her lips tumbled stars and clouds and moons and countless facets of light. They fell and were caught by the Void, who drank them in. And so the Mother was everything and the Void was nothing.
And the Mother created the island and called it Tiullu, where She planted trees and created streams and mountains. And She gave life to the creatures of the land and the air and the mosses on the trees, decorating the world She built so She might give it to the Void. And the Void smiled with no face.
And the Void, having nothing to gift the Mother in return, transformed the stars into spun sugar filaments of joy and pain. And they fed these to the Mother by their own hand.
The Mother was fed, and She became full of these stars. She carried them in Her womb until they grew strong and resonant and She could no longer contain them. And so She fractured into thirteen. One for each of the twelve stars and one for Herself.
And in the rupture, the Children of the Stars—who were called the Urdei—were scattered across the sky and across the land. And twelve Urdei came to land on Tiullu, but the Thirteenth was lost. No one knows where the Thirteenth Fragment lies, the last fragment of the Mother Herself.
The Void cried out at this great loss, the soundless notes of their grief caught in the space where there is no time, echoing for eternity.
And still the Void is searching.
And so the twelve fragments came to Tiullu, the place their Mother had created. And there they found all that the Mother had wrought, and the Void had transformed. And for a time the Urdei were happy. They learned to create, as the Great Mother had before them. And to transform, as the Void forever will. And they learned of each other and how they were different and the same.
And they stayed on the island of Tiullu for many aeons, creating and transforming and destroying. Until one of the Urdei came to their siblings and sang, i am. And the other Urdei, unaware that they might Be outside of Themselves, were confused and afraid. But then the Uei sang again, I am. And with a ringing voice they sang, I Am. And for the first time the Urdei saw themselves as they saw each other. They understood that they might act as individuals and for their own delights. And that first Uei called themself Getex, the Traveler, and they were the first to leave Tiullu.
And for many more aeons Getex walked, and as they walked the world appeared. And as they walked the world transformed. And as they walked the world was destroyed. And they learned many new things, and came to know themself. And at last it came time to return to Tiullu.
And as Getex stepped into the ocean, there appeared to them one of the Urdei. And Getex greeted them with great joy, and the Uei returned the greeting and called themself Fiunduinu, the Ferryman. And Fiunduinu took Getex back to Tiullu, where they were greeted by their siblings.
Getex sat upon the sand and told the Urdei of their journey. Of the passage of time, and the seasons, and the animals and the land. And as they shared these things, images appeared in the minds of the other Urdei and there was a great longing to see for themselves.
But when the other Urdei tried to leave Tiullu, they discovered they were not able to. And when Getex, the Traveler, again left Tiullu they did not return for another lifetime, when again they were greeted by Fiunduinu upon their return.
This time the Urdei were angry. “Take us with you!” they cried, but Getex did not know how. Then, quietly as she did everything, the Uei who called herself Unstox, the Gardner, stepped forward. She cared more for the plants of the earth and the animals that lived upon it than for anything else. And in her quiet voice, as gentle as the whispering wind, she told her siblings of what she had created.
For she more than others had seen what their Mother had left, and knew that there was more to create. And so she had made new plants and animals, some who lived upon the land, and some in the sea, and even others who floated through the air. And all around her was the sparkle of her creation, and the echo of the Great Mother’s song.
And the Urdei gathered round and saw that from the earth of Tiullu and the water of the sea, Unstox had made a new creature: the human. And the Urdei learned that though they could not yet leave Tiullu as Getex could, they were able to see through the eyes of these new creatures and experience new things. And so Unstox, the Gardner, taught the Urdei how to make their own, and they each took of the earth and of the sea and made a human.
And so they sent these humans off into the world, giving them boats to sail and knowledge of the plants and the animals. And the humans were gone for many years, and through their eyes the Urdei were able to see the world for themselves. And through the humans they learned the world moved differently beyond Tiullu. It was always changing, and time was measured in cycles and lines, not as a single never-ending moment.
And the passage of time affected the humans differently than it did the Urdei. And when the humans finally returned to Tiullu they showed signs of age, and it was not long after that their bodies returned to the earth and ocean from whence they came. And Unstox wept for these her fallen creations, but she also sang in praise for they had experienced a cycle unlike any she had ever known.
And so the Urdei created more humans and sent them into the world. But not all returned before their bodies succumbed to the passage of time. But those that were still animate sent their comrades afloat so that Fiunduinu might collect them and bear them back to Tiullu that they might be transformed. And some did not return at all. And when the Urdei looked out into the world they saw that the humans had themselves created more humans, and begun to live upon the land beyond Tiullu.
And there were some Urdei who were content to sit upon the Island of Tiullu and watch, experiencing the world through the eyes of their human creations. And there were some who felt that it was only right that they themselves experience the world firsthand. And there were some who learned, as Getex had before them, that they might leave Tiullu but that to do so was to lose themselves in the river of time until Fiunduinu, the Ferryman, came to fetch them again.
At long last it was the Twins, Trado & Tradat (who were as one until they split themselves in half that together they might experience their own duality), who noticed that the humans in the world remembered them, and gave them praise and gifts as their Mother had the Void. And these gifts gave them strength. And with this newfound strength they were able to travel into the world without a human vessel. And they learned that there were places in the world where they might dwell easier than others. And there were humans who prepared the way for them, and whose gifts continued to strengthen them as they dwelt among them.
But soon they found that in their time beyond Tiullu, the humans had multiplied and changed. They had learned how to communicate with each other in a way the Urdei could not: with words and gestures instead of light and harmony. And the humans themselves gained strength from the land and the water, and comfort from the stories they told each other of Tiullu and the Urdei who lived upon it.
The Urdei found they also gained strength from these stories, and with the help of the one they called Haudquix, the Weaver, learned to influence the dreams and the visions of these humans that they might tell more stories. And the humans sang the praises of the Urdei and learned new stories to tell. And as the Urdei drank in their words they passed along their own gifts to those humans whom they favored.
And the Urdei, who were new to the world but had existed for many millennia, taught the humans new things. They taught them methods of sailing upon the ocean, and seeing the places in the Void where the Urdei themselves had once dwelt. And with this knowledge the humans were able to travel even farther upon the ocean.
But there was one of the Urdei who did not feel content upon Tiullu or traveling in the world. Eriunleue, the Star, the last one to fall upon Tiullu, dreamed of the endless empty of the Void and once more greeting the Thirteenth Fragment. And so she sought a way off Tiullu and into the sky. She searched and searched until she came upon a mountain so high it scraped the firmament above. And when she stood upon the top with fingers outstretched she was able to grasp the trailing cloak of the Void as they passed by. And so she became the only Uei to return to the sky and to the Void, and the only star to shine down upon the world.
Another of the Urdei, naive and unaware, sent humans to sail upon the sea with no knowledge to guide them. These humans were soon lost, and she was stricken with grief at what she had done. She began to churn the ocean, looking for the lost ones, but they were not found. Unwilling to abandon hope she hurtled herself into the sky until she could hover above the land and ocean and see all that had been lost. She pulled at the waters of the sea, hoping to unearth the humans she had so recklessly abandoned. But they did not appear. Soon her strength began to wane and she became exhausted. Gathering herself into a fold of the Void’s midnight cloak she hid her face and slept.
The humans, having become accustomed to her shining face above them each night, became afraid. And they sang songs and made offerings and lit fires in an attempt to strengthen her so she might shine again. Eventually the gifts and the blessings caught her attention and she unwound her shroud. Seeing the joy her presence brought she was once more struck with the sorrow of those who had been lost. And so she searched again, pulling the tides in and out, in and out, washing exhausted travelers to shore, but never finding those who had been hers. And thereafter she was called Onin, the Moon.
And as the Urdei grew in strength they traveled farther into the world, until none were left on the Island of Tiullu but Unstox, the Gardner, and Fiunduinu, the Ferryman. And Fiunduinu continued to bring the humans back to Tiullu where Unstox continued to transform them into earth and ocean that she might create more life.
And Getex continued to walk many lifetimes over, always returning to Tiullu when they found themselves once more.
Until they did not.
Azalea is a writer, director, actor, and bookseller living in the weirdest place on earth (open for heated discussion). She loves words, knows a little too much about Shakespeare, and will happily discuss books for literal hours.