The Bowl of Storms
A Myth from the Cahuac Cycle
Listen, O Children, of a time when the world was yet young, and the dew lay still upon the earth, of days when the shadows crept from the dark places to stalk the People.
In those days, the earliest of which we know, in a past so distant that the numbers thereof are beyond those of the stars, the People dwelt as one. They feared neither the shadows nor the dark places from which they crept, for they were mighty hunters.
Mightiest of all was great Cahuac, he of the People, yet not born of the People. Child of the fairest maid of the Sky-Plains, She of the Silver Moon, he was gifted to the People in the hour of their darkest need.
As a child he was gifted, and like all young he grew, yet he was unlike any other child of the People. Tall and strong he became, mighty and fair to behold, the splendour of the shimmering moon resting upon his brow and his voice like unto soft music that drifts ephemeral through the night should he wish, or unto the rolling thunder that crashes its majesty across the plains. In all things he was the most skilled, yet he turned not to pride at the works of his hands or tongue, giving freely, for all he did was done for the People.
Upon the day of his coming of age he journeyed far at the behest of his mother, She of the Silver Moon, questing in the dark places and daring even to wrest from the grip of the shadows weapons of power. Many were his deeds and long were his journeys, yet they remain deeds to be sung another day.
* * * * *
In those most distant of days all the lands were rich and fertile, and the game bountiful upon them. The waters of life descended from the Sky-Plains above to settle upon the ground in measure enough for all. The People had want of little, for all that they needed was there before them, and thus it was that they grew strong and spread across the lands.
Yet, in time, the waters ceased to be. The lands no longer received them and became parched, becoming as unto dust that is driven before the winds. The beasts of the plains, and even the People, wandered, calling out to the Sky-Plains for relief, for their anguish was great.
To Cahuac of the Moon-graced brow they turned, for of all the People he was the mightiest, and most wise in the ways of the Sky-Plains. Both beasts and the People turned to him.
“O noble Cahuac!” they cried out in loud and weeping voices, “Most wise of us! Why has it come to be that the waters no longer fall and the earth that succoured us has been turned as unto dust that is driven before the winds?”
“People of the Aracan,” Cahuac cried out, the plains booming as with thunder at the echo of his voice, “My brothers and sisters. There is one alone that can tell of the affliction that has beset us, He Who Paints The Sky, who greets us in the mornings and bids us farewell as night falls, who brightens the skies after the storms have passed and scatters the rivers of light across the night’s sky. I shall go forth to find him and bid him tell where the waters have gone.”
Cahuac took up his weapons, those that he had wrested from the shadows in dark places. A spear he carried set with a blade of deadly bright bronze that shone like unto Sun in his glory, whilst the haft was of dark wood that could be neither burned nor broken. A knife too he had, of stone as black as the deepest night, and unto its edge all things parted as if they were but mist.
Thus did Cahuac set forth over the plains, and his passage was like unto the very wind itself such was his haste. Yet wherever he journeyed, the waters were no more for the lands were bereft of live-giving waters.
In time Cahuac journeyed far from his lands, to the place of the Eagles that dwell aloft in the heights.
“Noble Eagle,” he called out, his thunderous voice echoing amongst the heights, “I seek He Who Paints The Sky. Have you with your keen-eyed sight seen him as you soar so high?”
“I have not,” the Eagle replied. “But hurry brave Cahuac, for our waters are no more and we are near unto death itself.”
And Cahuac pressed on, to the lands of the Old Kangaroo who dwells upon the endless plains
“Old Kangaroo,” Cahuac cried out, his thunderous voice echoing across the endless plains, “I seek He Who Paints The Sky. Have you seen him from afar as you bound along?”
“I have not,” Old Kangaroo replied. “But hurry moon-graced Cahuac, for the rivers are no more and we are near unto death itself.”
Though thirst weighed down with all cruel intent upon him, Cahauc yet pressed on. All along the ways, from the heights to the depths and all that lay between, he asked if any had seen He Who Paints The Sky, yet none could point the way.
Yet great Cahuac, mightiest of us all, was not without limits even though his endurance was unto that of a hundred men. The heat and great dry all rested heavily upon him and in time even he too wearied. The ground offered itself up to him and he rested there upon.
As he rested to recover his strength, he became aware of a tiny creature seeking shelter from the fiery gaze of Sun beneath the shadows of his feet; a tiny Zephyr Mouse.
“Please great Cahuac,” the tiny beast squeaked in a voice so soft that only he whose hearing was as keen as the bat that flies at night could hear, “But I hear you have need of a question answered.” Now Zephyr Mouse was the least of all creatures, yet Cahuac in his great wisdom knew that even the least of stature are as of much import as the greatest.
“Most humble Mouse,” Cahuac responded, “I seek He Who Paints The Sky. Have you seen him as you scurry about?”
“I have,” Zephyr Mouse replied. “He has fallen into the lair of the Atlacal, but they saw me not for reason of my modest nature. But hurry great Cahuac, for Sun beats down so mercilessly upon the barren lands and we are near unto death.”
And mighty Cahuac himself was troubled with most terrible doubts, for the Atlacal were from the deepest of all places that lie beneath the earth and into which even the shadows dared not tread. Yet Cahuac, he of the moon-graced brow, knew that there was no choice but to dare venture into the very den of the Atlacal.
Tiny Zephyr Mouse, most humble of all beasts, followed in his tracks and pipped up his voice as they reached the very lair of the terrible Atlacal.
“Oh noble Cahuac, there are hidden ways that lead down into the very lair of the Atlacal that they can not tread, but that my kind can by means of our size. If you were but one of us then you could tread them too.”
The Cahuac did laugh and lo, he was as unto the Zephyr Mouse himself. Then did the pair descend into the dark places by ways unseen and unknown until at last, in the very depths of the dark, they came upon He Who Paints The Sky.
“Son of the fairest Lady of the Sky-Plains, you have risked much for me,” He Who Paints The Sky said unto them, for his keen eye could pierce any disguise.
“Brother of She Who Graces The Night, we set forth to seek for you aid, and thus in turn find that you need ours. And so it is that the circle is complete. The lands, they are unto dust itself, for the waters no longer fall to grace them.”
“It is the Atlacal, for they have within their dark grasp the Bowl of Storms itself and it is they who have turned the waters to dust. Now that my bonds are broken, we shall wrest it back from them and restore unto the lands the live-giving waters.”
Thus did Cahuac and He Who Paints The Sky and the Zephyr Mouse venture from the very depths and set upon the Atlacal with mighty vengeance. And there, in the dark places, they strove one with another and mighty were their struggles. The sounds of their voices and crash of their blows thundered and shook both ground and sky and there was fear amongst those who heard it, for most terrible was the sound.
Yet many were the Atlacal and no matter how many were thrown down, yet another came forward to wrestle with Cahuac and He Who Paints The Sky and all may have been lost. Then did tiny Zephyr Mouse scurry amongst them, and there, before him, did lay the Bowl of Storms. Within it all was sand and earth and dust. Unseen and unremarked he did creep upon it and dug from it the sand and earth and dust that had stopped up the waters.
Even so, at the moment he had ended his task, Cahauc and He Who Paints The Sky were thrown down by the Atlacal, though many of their foes had suffered greatly in thus doing so. Tears sprung from the eyes of the Zephyr Mouse and one, two, three dripped from him to fall into the Bowl of Storms.
Then did the skies rumble and winds howl and the very depths of the dark places shook from its fury. The waters fell with a great deluge, and the People and Eagle, Old Kangaroo and all others were glad at it, but Zephyr Mouse received not its blessing, for he was in the very depths where it fell not. He Who Paints The Sky leapt to his feet with a mighty roar, his strength renewed and the Atlacal fled at his wrath.
Before the humble Zephyr Mouse, He Who Paints The Sky did kneel. “Small in stature, yet great in heart you are, for it was the waters of your body that returned the waters to the sky. To you and yours I give the Bowl of Storms, for you have proven you worth.”
Thus did Zephyr Mouse take the Bowl and carry it into the deep deserts for safe-keeping, for water had passed from his body into the very skies and no more did his kind need it.
And laughing He Who Paints The Sky splashed his colours across the sky, and lo, a great ribbon of colour spread forth and he climbed it and returned to whence he had come.
Then Cahuac took up his weapons and departed the dark places of the Atlacal and returned to the People.
Many were his deeds and long were his journeys.