The Tale of the Ivory Tinderbox

"Zenith" | Art by jjpeabody. Used with permission.

A violent blizzard howled and blew in the winter-besieged lands of Sumarak. In the valley of Mali Potok, a small hut sat high on a flat amidst the sloping terrain. Two Coquillites settled in to wait out the raging storm. The tortoise-like beasts were bundled in thick blankets in front of the comforting glow of the fireplace.

The elder Coquillite, Sharlie Ezuchion, stood up and stirred the bubbling soup in a dingy black pot sitting over the fire. The other Coquillite, his grandson Gadgel, had just arrived after a long trek through the blizzard to visit on the eve of Ember’s Light. Gadgel shivered under the blankets, doing his best to rid the cold from his bones.

“’Twere foolish of ya to come visit in this blasted blizzard,” scolded Sharlie, glancing over his spectacles.

“’Twould take a bigger storm than this ta keep me from celebratin’ Ember’s Night with ya,” replied Gadgel, snuggling deeper into the comfortable chair. The young lad blew on his tea before taking a sip of the warming liquid. “Can ya tell me the story of how Ember’s Night came ta be again?”

The elder Coquillite chucked, his long wisps of gray beard trembling from the laughter, and set the soup ladle aside as he sat down in the opposite armchair. “Oh, I suppose I could while the soup’s simmerin’.” Sharlie cleared his throat and began his tale.

“Long ago, when the land were still young from hatchin’ from its egg, all the Coquillites only knew summer. All were warm, and the harvest came and went every month. But the Lady of the Winds, ha controls the warm winds and power over the storms, became displeased, for the Coquillites, in their comfort, forgot she gave them their harvest. Her heart grew cold at their thanklessness, and the Lady of the Winds sent a bitter wind from the North, plungin’ the land inta winter.

“Finally, the lad made it ta the highest cliff on Erdrea and stood at its edge.”

“The next mornin’, the Coquillites discovered all of their plants were covered in a thick layer of frost an’ ruined. Huddlin’ in their huts from the cold, they soon ran out of food, havin’ never had a need ta store their food. As the months passed, the Coquillites began ta starve. In the depths of their despair, they remembered the Lady of the Winds, and how they had not shown their gratitude for all she had done for them. They prayed and sang praises ta the Lady, but she did not turn her face towards them.

“The son of a local chief decided he would set out ta right their wrongs. He asked his village’s sage for an object that could carry a burnin’ ember within. The sage gave him an ornate ivory tinderbox, instructing him ta carry the ember inside.

“As his family’s fire dwindled, the lad took one of the last embers and placed it inside the ivory tinderbox, which was as white as the snow outside. Bundled in a ragged cloak, the lad set off ta the cliffs of Erdrea. Through deep and wet snow, the lad stumbled and trudged towards the cliffs, walkin’ across frozen rivers and slidin’ over ice.

“Finally, the lad made it ta the highest cliff on Erdrea and stood at its edge. Over the fury of the northern wind, the lad begged for mercy. Openin’ the box, he let the wind carry the ember away and then collapsed from exhaustion.

“The Lady of the Wind heard the lad and felt his precious gift burnin’ bright in the winter air. Touched by the lad’s selflessness, the Lady accepted the ember, and at once the blizzard ceased its torrent. When the lad woke up, he found the sun bright in the sky and discovered that the snow were meltin’. Filled with joy, the lad thanked the Lady and ran home ta share the news. By the time the lad arrived in his village, the snow had completely melted and life returned ta the valley.

“And every year during the dead of winter we honour the memory of that brave lad,” said Sharlie as he stood up and stirred the soup with his ladle. “We send one of our young ta the cliffs of Erdrea and repeat the ceremony of the ivory tinderbox.”

Sharlie poured a cup of soup for Gadgel and handed it to his grandson. Gadgel blew the top of the soup to let it cool as his grandfather finished his tale. “And one day, ya will follow in his footsteps and offer the Lady of the winds her ember gift.”

“Do ya think I’m brave enough ta be chosen, Grandfather?” asked Gadgel, his face full of eagerness. Sharlie smiled as he poured himself soup and sat down.

“I have no doubt my child,” assured Sharlie. “And no one will be prouder of ya than I.”

Greg Meyer

Greg Meyer

Influenced by writers such as Brian Jacques, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, Greg has a love and enthusiasm for writing fantasy and fairy tales. His first novel, The Seekers and the Hidden, will release in late 2015. Greg currently lives in Antioch, IL, along with his wife and two mischievous animals.
Greg Meyer

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