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Long ago, when the grandfather of the grandfather of my grandfather’s grandfather was a boy, this land was very different. The sky was blue, not black; bright, not dark. A great circle of fire burned high in the heavens, called the Sun – she cast light over the whole land. When the sun slept, her husband, the Moon, and their children, the Stars gave light instead.
In those days it was much warmer. Only in winter did it snow. In summer, men and women could walk outside naked and not feel chill - do not laugh so young Lajos, I said they could, not that they did. Trees wore crowns of green and bore fruit the size of a man’s fist. Rivers flowed with liquid water rather than flows of ice. People tamed the great herd animals and made them docile with abundant grass and grain; the herds did not roam and were easily killed for food.
Seven great tribes, each with many dozens of clans and ruled by mighty sorcerers, dwelt in this land. They lived not in tents but in the great stone cities, which were once alive with song and people. They wore clothing spun of spider silk rather than furs; they wore armour of worked metal rather than hides; and their spears too were of sharp metal rather than stone.
Then came a day when another fire appeared in the sky – small and red where the sun was big and bright. But this new, angry red light grew larger and brighter until it was brighter than the Sun. The people were frightened by this new light, and they appealed to their sorcerer kings for answers and protection, but the kings had vanished. Soon came the day that fire and stone rained down from the sky like snow. The earth heaved and split, cities crumbled, the forests and fields burned. Thick dark clouds of smoke and ash filled the sky. They hid the Sun, and the Moon, and their children the Stars. The land grew dark.
For days the clouds persisted, and it stayed dark. For seasons, for generations it stayed dark. Soon it grew cold, and colder still, until it was winter always. The rivers froze, the fields and forests that had not already burned now died, and the people and their tame herds starved. The cities that remained became places of death. Many people died. Those that survived left the cities to find a place that was still warm, where darkness did not have such a hold, but no places like that remained. The people asked the gods for help, but they could not, so they cursed the gods who would let all the lands turn to darkness and ice and forgot them. They asked the apprentices of the sorcerer kings for help, but they could not, so the people killed them.
With no fields and no tame beasts, the great tribes could not feed themselves, so the people who remained split into many smaller tribes. These tribes followed the migrating herds, and some of them survived. To survive, the people learnt to be good hunters and good scavengers, but this took everything and the people forgot much that they had once known.
- Velko the Storyteller