From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim
With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library
Marday, Twenty-fourth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn
Eighty-Third Day in the Trees
Today, I learned a bit more of Torne.
He will not tell me how he came to be in the woods, but at least he told me more of himself. He is of a people who build boats and travel on rivers. They have no homeland of their own, but move through the lands of others, trading as they go. He grew up on his uncle's boat, learning that trade. I asked if all of his people dressed as he did1. He laughed for a moment, and then said that while few dressed quite as he did, they did like clothes with several colors.
He then pointed to a butterfly. It was a pale blue with yellow eyespots on its wings, with a wingspan the length of one of his fingers. "That is where we get our fashion," he said. "The original trendsetters themselves!"
I thought he was joking, but he told me a legend among his people.
"Long ago, the first people came to be. They were not human. There were no humans then, nor Baro, nor dawarai, nor the pale ones. There was only one people in those days, and they are the ancestors of all the rest.
"The youngest daughter of the first man was called Illuen. She was beautiful, but was very proud. They wore clothing even then, but it was simple, plain, and unpleasant to look upon.
"So she went to the flowers and the plants, and asked if they would lend her their color. They loved her, and so did as she asked, letting some changing her clothing until they had every color in them. It looked better now, but it was not enough. Drape colorful rags on yourself, and they are still rags.
"She next went to the lion on his hill. She asked if he would cut the fabric into new shapes. The lion loved her, and did as she asked, letting her guide his claws over the fabric. Her clothes were now in regular shapes, but still were not enough. They merely covered her body, they did not match its shape.
"She went to old aunt spider, who had given them the first fabric, and asked if she could help her to put the pieces of back together in a new shape. Unlike the flowers or the lion, she had no special love for Illuen. But she loved beauty, and for beauty's sake she agreed. She created silk, with which Illuen sewed the fabric together, using a thorn as a needle. Finally, Illuen had her new clothing, the first dress.
"She was very proud of her dress, and walked through the forest, eager to show it off to the other people. However, before she could reach the village, she was met by the spirit of an oak tree.
"Now, even then, this oak spirit was very old. She was almost as old as aunt spider, but she did not love beauty. She hated it, for she had been beautiful once. She set upon Illuen, tearing her dress to shreds. 'There!' she said. 'Now no one will see your pretty clothing.'
"Illuen did not cry, for the first of the Really Bad Things had yet to happen, and the first tear had yet to be shed. But she was sad that none of the others would get to see the dress she had worked so hard on.
"The spirits of the air saw all of this. They had watched as Illuen had worked so hard, and felt it wasn't fair for something that meant so much to her to be destroyed. They could not repair the dress, but they could let others see what she had done. They gave life to the shreds of the dress, until they began to move. They became the first butterflies, and they have brought beauty to the world ever since.
"Illuen would go on to make other dresses, and invent other new styles of clothing, becoming the mother of tailors and seamstresses.
"As for the old oak spirit, the other spirits took pity on her. She was reborn as the first pine, a tree that is beautiful even in the winter. In the end, the spirit would learn that it wasn't beauty that made her happy… but that is another story."
It was an interesting story. It is a strange thought, that all peoples could be descended from the same tribe2. I find it to be unlikely, myself. Humans are far more like apes than they are like Baro, as we are more like dragons or lizards. Still, I would not be ashamed to share some kinship with Torne, Srebek, Maish, Twisthorn, or any of the people I have met on my journey.