Imagine you have been chosen as a human sacrifice.
There used to be a lucrative gem mine under the mountain your village perches at the edge of, but it was picked clean some years ago and your once-prosperous mining town has diminished considerably. Legend tells that there is a Trickster God living on the mountain. The older generation say a blood offering will win his favour.
You have never been well-liked in the village. You were caught, as a teenager, kissing the minister’s son. He told everyone that you forced yourself on him and you’ve been branded a harlot ever since. Had you been included in the decision-making process it would have not surprised you to have been chosen. As it is you don’t know what’s happening when they come for you in the middle of the night. Unseen hands in the dark cover your mouth and bind your arms and legs. They drag you to the local shrine where fires have been lit and a feast of lavish fruits and meats have been laid out.
You are redressed in a plain white robe and sat, legs folded beneath you and arms still bound behind your back, on a stone pedestal. You can hear excited murmuring around you, everyone is so sure that this will work. You bitterly tell yourself that at least you won’t have to put up with these people any more.
The boy who kissed you so innocently all those years ago has since taken up his father’s position, and when the moment comes it is he that approaches you with the knife. With one hand he grabs a handful of your hair, tugging your head back to expose your throat. With the other he brings the knife closer, and closer.
And then stops.
There’s a hand on his arm, stopping him. Someone is there that no-one noticed until now. Someone with copper eyes and a jagged toothy smile.
There’s a sensation in the air, the atmosphere is charged like the calm before a thunder storm. While there’s nothing physically inhuman about the stranger it would be impossible to mistake him for one of you. Somehow you just knowthat the being before you has power beyond comprehension and is older than the land itself.
He announces that since your life is being sacrificed it must belong to him. He says that he will be the one to decide what happens to it.
The minister’s boy drops the knife and scurries away like he’s been burnt. The Trickster takes his place behind you, one hand curved gently around your neck and the other slides under your robe to paw at your chest. While making a show of groping you he whispers in your ear that you have a choice to make. He can take your life in the spirit that it was offered with the promise that you will feel no pain in this world or the next. Or you could offer up your body along with your life, and you could live out your days as a priest at a temple dedicated to him. You nod, subtly. You want to live. He steps away immediately and rounds on the villagers with a grin on his face like a wolf worrying sheep.
He spreads his arms wide theatrically and proclaims that if wealth was what they wanted then they have come to the right god. Then he snaps his fingers and you black out.
When you come to it is daytime, and you don’t recognise your surroundings. You’re in some kind of open temple, a sloping roof held aloft by white marble pillars and no walls separating you from the view which is incredible. To the east; the sea. You must be on the other side of the mountain. You notice you’re wearing a different set of robes, more elaborate with fine stitching and laced with golden embroidery.
You don’t turn when you feel a heavy presence behind you, and fingers caress lightly over your cheek. Your new god makes love to you almost gently. He explains your new duties even while he’s still plowing you from behind. Your body belongs to him; is an extension of him. Any pilgrim who wishes to pay homage may do so. Any fruit of such unions are his. He won’t make personal appearances unless something draws his interest. He doesn’t leave immediately when he spends inside of you. He turns you over, twines your fingers, and lowers his mouth over your crotch until you find your own release. Then he takes you again.
You weren’t entirely sure what to expect but pilgrims do come. Most want to make deals, almost none are interesting enough for the fickle deity to show his face. It doesn’t take long for word to spread about your reason for being there and many wish to indulge. You spread your legs for any who ask it, mainly men though some women too, and it doesn’t take long for you to figure out what was meant by ‘fruit’.
Your first pregnancy is the hardest. You don’t know what to expect and it scares you when you realise your child isn’t human. Your belly grows alarmingly quickly, showing noticeably within only a few short weeks. You worry what will happen if you keep growing at that rate but before you even reach the size of a full normal pregnancy your water breaks.
You’re not the least bit surprised that the birth isn’t ‘interesting’ enough for the Trickster to deign you with his presence. Pushing a new life out alone isn’t pleasant but you are strong enough to keep it together. You are fairly startled to realise you’ve birthed a fully grown rabbit. Once you’ve cleaned and dried it’s fur it seems content to lop around the temple. Some of the more canny pilgrims bring it carrots.
Your second child is a coyote. The third initially comes out as an egg, which hatches into a raven.
Hoping to earn favour visitors to the temple redouble their efforts to knock you up. Some will hang around for days trying over and over to be sure. You spend very little time empty. The menagerie grows. Some of your children don’t stray very far, others disappear and reappear seemingly on a whim.
Eventually you hear word of your home village. It seems the villagers all vanished overnight leaving no trace. It was discovered soon after that the mine wasn’t depleted after all, it was full to bursting with rubies; red as blood.
Puentedey (Burgos, Spain) is a little village perched on an amazing natural bridge carved by the river Nela. The village lies on the rocks topped by a Romanesque church and the palace of Porres. We can also find the typical traditional architecture of Las Merindades area. | Picture by Javier Herrero.
It wasn’t until a tunnel was built in 2004 that the residents of Gásadalur had an easy path to and from their home. At the time, the village—perched above this iconic waterfall on Denmark’s Faroe Islands—had all of 16 residents. Now that the village is accessible by car, and not just via an arduous hike or horseback ride, that number has risen to 18 residents.
Like the wind above Akota Nui, the Le-Akotan are fleeting, yet omnipresent, in nature. They drift across the land, seeking fulfillment before their passing. As such, they may be found in virtually all parts of Akota Nui- living all manner of lifestyles. The largest settlement of Le-Akotan is that of Le'kainga, a large village perched upon Ga'maunga Peak. It is here Lenua resides.
Lenua tends to the young Le-Akotan, helping them prepare for their journey of self-fulfillment. The beginning of this journey is christened by the Ceremony of the South Wind during which the young matoran leap from the side of the mountain and glide off to parts unknown. While Lenua takes satisfaction in training the young matoran, she is haunted by an indiscernible emptiness. It was upon meeting the young matriarch Galia that she had discovered what she truly yearned for.
Twin swords wielded by Lenua, the Turaga of Air. With these blades, Lenua dances across the sky with an elegance never before seen. The composition of the blades is unclear, for it appears to be a peculiar fusion of metal and crystal. Perhaps this strange alloy lends Lenua her control over wind?
Bonus: Air Katanas
Relics which predate even the Ancients. Legend tells of a warrior who once ruled the skies with these blades.
“This relic has been passed down through my family for countless generations. As the edge of its blade flows through the air, so does the wind flow between the mountains- and the river through the plains. We are alike, both fleeting- destined to move on from this world- to be replaced by another of our kind. You once told me not mourn our future passing, but seize life before it drifts away. This is my life.”