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One aspect of life was common to all of the peoples of the Bôzisha-Mîraz: their religion. A mythic cult tied the land, the people, and the gods together in its beliefs. The faith was observed, to a greater or lesser degree, by all classes and groups of the society. It encompassed not only a creation myth but also a code of law and of honor that covered every aspect of life in the Desert Country. All of this was derived from a single saga, the Kât-Polozây, sung by the enchanters of the region.

The epic's name meant "the story of the land." It was a tale of sorrow and heroics and finally, a tale of hope. The roots of the story Were thought to lie in the ancient story of the Sun and Moon, probably learned from Elves of Ardor, but other unknown factors must have be involved to explain its deviance from the older tale. What follows is a summary of it, for the poem was well over two thousand lines long.

Introduction

The story recounted here is an abbreviated version of the Kât- Polozây told to young children. It presents the basic outline of the story but would be supplemented by other short tales and parables teaching other lessons that the longer poem held.

The tale

In the days when gods walked the earth in bodies of flesh and lived as men, they dwelt in a great city high in the southern mountains. The deities ruled over parcels of the world they had made, with men and beasts their servants. They did as they saw fit, each according to his nature. Their creations and works were many and marvelous. Even the lowest of servants lived in comfort and adorned himself in finery the like of which is not known in these later, lesser days. Mighty among the gods was Vâtra, whose countenance is the sun. He ruled a land far to the North, where his peoples were raised as mighty warriors. In the City of the Gods, he came to desire a lovely princess and daughter of the Windlord, king of the deities. The daughter's name was Ladnóca, and it is she who is our moon. The king, Nâdi-manyê, was pleased to see his offspring courted by such suitor and gave his blessing to the match. Vâtra, however, had desire in him for more than the daughter of the king. Soon after the two were wed, he led a band of lesser gods, from whom he had gained allegiance, to the high mountain palace of Nâdi-manyê. The battle that followed rocked the world. Mortals were stricken with terror and fell to the ground as the earth shook around them. The gods fought for twenty days without halt. Swords of jagged lightning flashed through the sky and the thunder of their blows was constant. As silence returned to the earth, Men looked toward the mountain city and saw that it was no more. The combat had destroyed it, and the gods themselves had been torn from the physical world by the forces they had unleashed. Their spirits had gone to reside beyond the sky. Frightened Men could see them there, as points of light that sprinkled the darkness. Among these lights, two were greater than all the others: Vâtra and Ladnóca. In the awesome fighting that went on between those great beings the King himself was stricken. In the moment of his triumph, however, Vâtra saw his adversary's energy flow forth and gather in the person of the Princess. Her station as wife of Vâtra had denied her the right to stand with her father in the battle, but as his heir, when the smoke cleared, she found herself possessed of power nearly as great as her father's. In the new order that rose among the deities, Vâtra was greatest in power, and Ladnóca was second to him. However, since their bodies were lost, the gods could no longer be coerced by the power that Vâtra had gained. Even those who had stood with him in battle saw the damage his war had done and forsook their allegiance to his banner. The gods shrank away from him and shunned the light his power cast. They looked instead to the daughter of the Wind- lord for guidance. The glow that flowed from her was kinder, and they reveled in the freedom of the outer sky, basking in her light with joy. Ladnóca could not share this joy in its fullness. As the wife of Vâtra, she was obliged to tend to his needs (as any wife of men does now in our land). She divided herself from those days on, between her service to her husband and happy communion with others of her race. Thus the life of the gods continues today. We who are bound to the soil can see proof of this tale in the motion of the bodies of the sky. As the lovely moon travels the skies of the day, her light is dimmed in the presence of Vâtra. But when she is among the stars who have made her their queen, she shines brightly. In this tale, our land, the Bozishâ-Mîraz, holds a special place. In the days when the gods were at peace and the Windlord was prepared to give his daughter to Vâtra, he offered with her, as was the custom, a fine dowry. The loveliest lands of Middle-earth were his property as King, and the most beautiful of all, his daughter's, he gave to her groom. That is this land, our land, but today it is not so bountiful as it was. After slaying her father, Vâtra was despised by Ladnóca. Though she could not betray her vows as his wife, she spared no love in the execution of her duties. Vâtra quickly grew furious and, since he could not harm her, he turned against the object she loved most: the land that had been her dowry. With his fearsome countenance he burned it and burns it still, leaving draught and heat where once all was lush and surpassingly beau- tiful. In all the land, only the smallest portion was the goddess able to save. That region is her gift to us, the land we know as Rây. From the Sûza Sûmar where fall the tears she weeps for the land, to the easternmost reaches of the Hills of the Moon, she is able to temper the damage her husband wreaks. She draws water to cool the earth and so brings life to us, who are her people. For her gift, we owe to her a debt that cannot be measured. The tale of our greatest hero, Iunást, is the story of a man who serves as our example in our efforts to pay our obligation. It is his life which we must emulate in our every action out of thanks for the gift we have shared in.

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