There was a beautiful woman named Alatana, who was very much loved by her House. She was born into a wagon during the Bleak Journey, and it is upon that bitter road that she took her first breath and took her first suckle.

Alatana was of the House Kandela, a rare and precious gift during the great sorrow, when food and water were scarce and danger plunged form the sky and the heat was great, but she grew lithe and fair, and brought joy to many with her beauty and her song and her dance. She was sharp of wit and kind of heart, and when she reached her youthood she would run back and forth along the miles of the great migration and offer help and hope to people long without, sharing news and word of others, carrying messages and tidings and rhymes and verse wherever she went.

But the true story of Alatana begins when she made a friend.

Scouts had found a small, clear pool, and around it grew trees which bore fruit, and within it swam fish, and around it sang birds. It was beautiful and serene a space, and the desperate people of the road trampled the soft grass and drained much of the clear pool, fouling it, and took many of the fish, and claimed all of the fruit, and spoke no word of gratitude or kindness, bespoke no blessing of fortune or invocation of fair chance.

For in those days, people had not learned yet of the Spirits in the World. They did not see that this was a home of a Spirit, did not know that this was a sacred place. And so they angered that spirit, who lay in wait for the unwary.

And along came the greatest beauty of her time, innocent and sweet, young and with great promise, and she took a small viol with her, clumsily made and barely tuned, almost a toy and nothing like the well made instruments we have today. Setting herself upon soft grass in the late shade of an Ash canopy, she did not see the wicked and cunning strike that wa being aimed at her, that would surely have killed her, that would have robbed the world of joy and light during the darkest of times over the miserable desperation and wretched ingratitude of those who had been forgotten by what they still called Gods in those days, and that now, in memory, we only call the Powers That Be.

But she sang a note, and drew her bow across the strings, and then sang another note, and so began to play music that had rarely been heard since the end of the war, and never before had anyone sung quite as she did, that day into dusk beneath an ash tree with naught but a half broken viol and a heart full of joy.

And that stopped the Spirit and entranced it, for the Spirit had long waited without knowing that this was something it sought, something new to it, something wonderful and precarious and special because it came from her, and there was something about her that drew the spirit to her — but quietly, secretly, hidden and unknown, and she played on and as she did so the spirit was moved to give her something, something she didn’t even realize she had been given, but in doing so it filled her with an awareness of what had happened.

And as she sang, her song turned angry, and then sad, and then hopeful and then determined and then she began to sing of the trampled grass — and it grew stronger and glistened as the last of the sun slunk away and the first of the early stars twinkled and Coyola shone brightly upon the small garden. She sang of the fruits that had faded and lo, new blooms appeared and fruits sprouted. She sang of clear and cool water, and the water clouded and then cleared, and the minnows grew. She sang of the birds and the frogs and the  silly little bees in the hive tucked away in a tree, and honey flowed freely and birds chirped a lullaby and frogs kept a beat, and and she sang of hardship and horror, of of struggle and desperation, of the heartaches and griefs of the migration, of the love of her family and her House, and still the spirit stayed with her, and in that moment, a bond was formed that changed the world.

For the Spirit was a Muse, and her windy whispers and gentle nature would, ever after, give to Alatana strange and miraculous magics — the ability to charm a listener, to help others in need, to lift the spirits of the hopeless and to drive the fear away with courage against the terrible.

That was the day that the first Bard was born. Man will perform songs and dances and juggle and entertain, but only a few can ever gain the favor — and so the power — of the Spirits of the World known as Muses, the only price being that they can never been seen by their Bard, and known for what they are.

Alatana accomplished many deeds in her life after that. She is said to have turned back the fires of a Dragon, to have driven back a group of raiding animal people, to have eased births and above all else to have made it possible to endure the ever present hardship of that century of movement.

She was the oldest of the many who finally emerged into the Garden of Delights, and it is there that she passed, and all that lived mourned her her and buried her there, beside another pool, beneath anther ash tree, where the birds sing and the wind was said to sob. A month later, they left the Garden of Delights, and continued intot he green forest and through it and soon they came to the shore where they would found and build Sibola, the first City. 

Even today, at the foot of the oldest part of the Emperor’s Palace, a worn stone rests, marked upon it in a simple way with the name of Alatana Kandela, the mother of Sibola, for whom the great city was named, and the wife of the first King, Ushe Sher, but above all of that, the heart and the light that kept the people going along the worst event in all of history.

For those few brave souls who still try to find the Garden of Delights, when they come upon her marker there, they all swear that they can still hear the sobbing and the grief of the wind and the water, and those who dare disturb so much as a blade of grass vanish, never to be seen again.

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