Sunday, May 7, 2017

Luan and the Star's Daughter: A Last of the Memory Keepers Companion

I always knew that “The Sun Child” would be different from the rest of the stories, but it took a while for me to discover the poem within. Luan is perhaps the most elusive figure in the series. She may be a tempter, but she isn’t exactly a Satan-figure either. She’s more like the Fae, powerful and proud but too aloof to realize the consequences of her actions on the human race.

This poem is not a Genesis story. It may be an origin story, explaining the Memory Keepers’ beliefs in how the Gifting came to be, but it is not an allegory. The Matriarchs and Patriarchs are not meant to be Adam and Eve, especially considering there are ten of them instead of two. Likewise, there is no clear explanation of where the first humans came from, though it is implied that they were born of the stars.

Nonetheless, I have drawn from previous traditions and stories. Like the story of Cain and Abel, the acts of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs is quite bloody. And the style of the poem follows that of Milton’s Paradise Lost, with iambic pentameter, variating stanzas, and no rhyme. Unlike classical poetry, however, I have included quotations marks for each set of dialogue for clarification.

While the Memory Keepers bare some animistic traits, they are primarily monotheist. During the time that “Luan and the Star’s Daughter” was composed (2701, 1436 years before the events of Last of the Memory Keepers), it would have been viewed as heretical. After all, not only does the poem not acknowledge a single Creator, but it also references minor deities. Although the poem was well-liked by the general population, it took approximately 150 years after Fraser’s death before the Council of Elders accepted it as a piece of mythology. 


Recorded by Ewan Fraser, the following poem is the origin story of the Memory Keepers. The event is also referred to as the Gifting, in which the five races received their abilities. Twelve humans, six couples, lived in harmony at the dawn of time. Then the Moon came down to the mother of the Shape-Shifters and offered to grant her a Gift so long as all humankind accepted. Two refused, so the other ten turned on them and killed them. That way, all ten could accept. The Moon, displeased with their treachery, still granted the Gifting but proclaimed it as a curse instead of a blessing.
Characters (in order of appearance)

Luan (The Sun Child)—the Moon
Vera—Matriarch of the Shape-Shifters
Patriarch of the Shape-Shifters
Glenn—Matriarch of the Memory Keepers
Angus—Patriarch of the Memory Keepers
Matriarch and Patriarch of the Meridians
Naoki—Matriarch of the Diataro
Man and Woman
Matriarch and Patriarch of the Lightning Wielders
Rin—Patriarch of the Diataro

Ancient Memory, Winter Equinox, Estimated 2701
Keepers Present: Ewan Fraser
The daughter of the Sun[1] stooped down to behold
the earth and swept aback the cobwebbed clouds
marveling at green birth. Up shoots of gold-
tinged grass, silver droopèd bells, mazy ivy,
and cold, em’rald waters lay past yonder                                                  5
hills; there’n the downs an idle girl gazed on mid-
morn light. Upon her back she lay, her white-
and-gold hair like tresses fit for stars. The Sun’s
Child, Luan thus namèd, beheld the youth from ‘far
before she tucked the clouds beneath her skirts                                        10
and spoke, “Daughter of yonder star,[2] why should
thou idle thus when thou lookest fit for bliss
beyond all care?” Up sat the girl,[3] a wist-
ful look within her eyes. “Sisters of mine
say that I dream too oft,” said she. “I came                                              15
away to behold the dawn alone.” Smiled
thus the Sun Child. “I have in mind to grant
a gift to thou, on one condition—that
to imagine forever, thine heart’s sole
joy, first thou shouldst find it in thyself to                                                20
search out thine brothers’ and sisters’ longings
and ask them too if they would take mine Gift,[4]
for it will only work when all conscious 
beings do welcome it. Dear dreamer, can thou
imagine how much thou might do e’ermore?                                            25
Thou canst be like me, pow’rful and benign.”[5] 
There shone an awe in her blue eyes, for her
mind could think up wonders to create that
she ran off to greet her peers, eleven
in all, husband and friends. The first she found
beneath an oaken shade, planning some new                                            30
shelter to build with his own hands. She told
of her request, her dream, and gathered they
their friends to whom she told her tale, to wait
on their response. They stood around a pool
aquamarine, silver-shored, listening                                                         35
to Vera utter her tale and her plea.
Most took interest in their dreams, for many
they had to behold, none too great or far,
yet spake thus her raven-headed friend,[6] “We
shouldst forget not the ordination set
down by the Sun to live as we are now,                                                   40
touch’d not by craft of altering shape or
magic strange. Remember thine true form and
do count thineself grateful forevermore.”
“Oh, Glenn,” thus spake the Star’s Daugther, “How canst
thou think this gift to change thine self? ‘Tis but                                    45
a mere means meant to enhance that which thou
posseseth already. Thou shalt never
forget another ordinance, nor word,
nor thought. Thou shalt keep and treasure them for
all eternity.” Think on the good that                                                       50
could come of her proposal the raven-
headed girl and her husband did o’er time.
“Would that we should live so long,” spake their tall
companion with skin as dark as coal,[7]
“but length of days is beyond all reason                                                55
of true life. No body could thus sustain
one thought once it is dead, for we are mere
mortals destined to die before the Sun. “
“Yet length of days,” young Vera said, “that thou
might have if thou did but ask.” Then up spake                                   60
yon stout yet e’er-perceiving Naoki,[8]
“Come now, can such a thing be wise? Permit
us to hear out the Sun Child herself. Then
we can decide our fate.” Her proposal
appeared most good to them all save the two                                     65
auburn-headed souls[9] who reserved their thoughts
even after the choleric couple[10] urged long,
swift strides should Luan withdraw her offer.
Thus they passed by the lake towards yon’ downs
to seek their fate, but halfway up the hill,                                           70
golden sheaves bending in the wind, one girl
held her husband’s hand, stopped, and made their plea,
“We came into this world wanting nothing
but life and creation thereof. Vera
encourages us to excel beyond one                                                    75
mere thought, but the power of gods is far
beyond mortals for higher reasons not
known. Let us still our passions and content
ours hearts with simple marvels of this earth.” 
“Simple are thou, Sis’,” said Angus, “deny                                       80
us all our Gift thou wouldst, for did Luan
thus say it would only work shouldst we all
accept?” Argued they, on and on and on, 
until the Sun did set and rise and set
again until the ten men and women                                                   85
did take leave of the two they deemed dogged
and spake amongst themselves how they might obtain
the Gift yet. At last they concluded as
one mind to rid themselves of the couple,
for without conscious minds, they could not,                                    90
therefore, stand between the ten and the Gift.
A sup thus served the ten beneath an Ash
spreading its boughs overhead in gray dusk.
Thirteen fine torches placed with care by yon
fire-makers lit the night, casting shadows                                         95
upon the twelve as they dined merrily
on roasted apples, fresh-picked blackberries,
and savory herbs, all the while under
pretense of resignation to their self-
born state. After they finished, the long-lived                                  100
parents brought forth twelve drinks of sweet wine, blood-
red, prepared from within their own vineyards
upon yon’ hill. Thus Vera and her other
half uplifted their cups, proposed a toast
in feigned content, and drank they all to peace                                 105
and unity of the twelve. Little the auburn-
headed couple did know about the fruit
slipped in their drinks by Angus and Glenn ‘fore
they supped until their stomachs cramped with pain.
Thus they doubled over while Rin took up                                       110
a pointed rock and thrust it between both
their ribs, one at a time, while proud Noaki
stood by in approval. Thus did the two,
man and woman, give up their final breath,
and mark the first death. But before the blood                                  115
could yet dry, the choleric couple brought
forth two torches and burnt up the bodies,                                                    
and then buried them beneath the Ash Tree.[11]
Back came they, from the light-haired to the dark,
until they came down unto the lake, to await                                     120
the return of the daughter of the Sun.
In silence they stood ‘round ‘bout ‘till dawn when
Angus looked up and spake to his own dear
wife, “Remember thou saidst, and remember
we shalt, for all history to come and                                                   125
all thoughts therein, embedded in my mind
shalt be now and fore’er more. For I shant
ever erase this deed, hastily done
and ill conceived, from mine grief-stricken mind.”
“I doubt not our loss, dearest brother,” saidst                                     130
the choleric mother, “that harsh loss of friends
and fellowship, laughter and tales, but yet
turn thine thoughts upon how much more we shalt
gain through the promised power we’ll receive.”
Forth at last came the Sun Child, dew trailing                                    135
in her wake and said unto the final
men and women, “Here thou hast gathered thine
kindred, oh Child, but where, I might inquire,
hath thine other siblings vanishéd to?”
A silence held the ten, for they, consumed                                         140
with fear of death, did not dare to utter
their deeds before the daughter of the Sun.
Until up spake Rin, short yet proud in his
stature,[12] “Ten are we now, for those two are
no more. Here have we come to stake our claim                                145
upon the Gift thou swore to grant shouldst we
all accept. As thou can see, we all do.”
Surveyed him, Luan did, then spake, “Shrewd art
thou. From thine birth, thy beheld the swiftest
of paths to take and the most-pointed words                                      150
to speak to attain thine desires. For thine
words and ways, thou and thine life-partner shalt
receive strength beyond thine fellow man[13] to
apply thine mind to raise up palaces and
kingdoms, yet the tearing down of empires                                       155
thine offspring shalt be drawn to fore’ermore.”
To the choleric, she thus saidst, “With fire
thou buried and with fire, thou shalt fall, but
lightning shall answer to thine call[14] and the
stones shall mimic thine name now and hereon.                               160
“Thou idle child, thou dreamers,” Luan spake up
once more, “O, that I hadst thine imagin-
ation to steal thus from the gods.[15] Thou and
thine partner shalt be able to change thy shape
according to whate’er thou desirest,[16]                                          165
except thou shalt then forget thine true self.”
Then, to the raven-headed ones, she spake,
“To remember thou wished, and remember
thou shalt the thoughts thou stole. Entrust thou with
the keeping of memory all throughout the ages[17]                       170
now and forevermore. As for thou two,
both desirers of longevity and growth,[18]
fated to live; fated to die, seekers
of life, thou shan’t taste death ‘till thou watch‘st thine
own brothers rest thrice more. Thus is                                            175
mine Gift to thee according to thine heart’s
desire. Live it well, thou Children of Dust.”
As she thus spake, she faded like a mist,
and once the Sun arose, was vanished, to walk
the earth ne’ermore for spent was her pow’r on                             180
mortals herein. Her place she took within
the heav’ns where she doth dance until the Sun
in days to come shall then bestow upon
her leave[19] to regain her power once again.


Let's chat! Have you read "The Sun Child" yet? What did you think of this companion poem? 

[1] daughter of the Sun: the Moon, unnamed until line 9.
[2] yonder star: star of unknown origin or constellation. Not to be confused with the Sun. According to Luan, humans were born of said star, but their origin is much debated between the races.
[3] girl: Vera, unnamed until line 36. Her husband is the unnamed Patriarch of the Shape-Shifters. They are known for their preference towards fantasy. The Shape-Shifters value identity, but unlike the Memory Keepers, they refuse to name their patriarch, believing that the choice concerning the Gifting could have been made by any of them, past or present.
[4] Gift: the above event is referred to as the Gifting by the Memory Keepers. See “The Diplomat’s Daughter.”
[5] Smiled… benign: lines 16-26 are quoted in “The Sun Child” and serve as the primary theme for Ellard Coburn’s account of sneaking back into the Haven during the Diataro occupation.
[6] raven-headed friend: Glenn, the Matriarch of the Memory Keepers and wife to Angus; unnamed until line 44. They are known for their preference towards memory.
[7] tall companion with skin as dark as coal: unnamed Patriarch of the Meridians. He and his wife are known for their preference towards reason.
[8] Naoki: Matriarch of the Diataro. One of the few women named among their history. She and her husband are known for their preference towards knowledge.
[9] two auburn-headed souls: the unnamed man and woman who never received the Gifting. They are considered by all races to be the quintessential human beings and are associated with the lost, sixth wit.
[10] choleric couple: the Matriarch and Patriarch of the Lightning Wielders, known for their use of imagination.
[11] Ash Tree: thus, it received its name.
[12] the short yet proud in stature: Rin, the husband to Naoki and patriarch of the Diataro. His sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo founded the three clans.
[13] strength beyond thine fellow man: the Diatoaro received the Gift of strength, three times that of the other races. Although they are among the most advanced in technology because of their strength, they are also the most prone to war.
[14] lightning shall answer thine call: the Lightning Wielders received the Gift of harnessing and unleashing energy through the use of Lightning Stones. As Luan prophesied, their golden age ended with the destruction of the City of Light in 3066. Few wielders survived.
[15] gods: much debate exists concerning what Fraser is actually referencing. The Memory Keepers are primarily monotheistic, so most did not believe in other deities. It could be a reference to the beliefs of the other races, but the commonly-held argument is that it refers to minor spirits, like Luan, and not deities.
[16] change thy shape according to whate’er thou desirest: the Shape-Shifters received the gift of changing form, from basic racial alterations to complex animals. They are only limited to transform into something they have seen or imagined.
[17] Entrust thou with the keeping of memory throughout the ages: the Memory Keepers received the Gift to access memories, which take on life as though they are reoccurring. As the keepers increased in number, they divided into four studies: 1) Deep Memory, accessing ancient memories and studying history; 2) Short-Term Memory, accessing recent memories and processing details; 3) Communication, presenting all types of memories in a clear manner; and 4) Restoration, retrieving buried memories and restoring broken ones.
[18] desirers of longevity and growth: the Meridians received the Gift of long lifespans, three times that of the other races. They are the most practical and unified of all races.
[19] bestow upon her leave: Memory Keeper and Shape-Shifter legend claims that during a solar eclipse, the Sun Child will return and reverse the effects of the Gifting. Diataro legend, on the other hand, claims that this event refers to the end of the world itself. 

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