8/11/2017

Alchos: The Little Maelstrom

As the Feast of Joy was celebrated throughout the Little Maelstrom, a great number of street shows played out on the corners and in storefronts.  Children, especially young Genasi, gathered in front of them watching and laughing.  In front of a textiles shop owned by Car’onna Dawntracker, Alchos sat atop an upturned crate.  Car'onna had paid for a popular puppetry group to tell tales, but for this Alchos had asked, virtually begged, to play the role of storyteller.

His eyes flashed as he spoke, "The Little Maelstrom has become a key feature of Glasswyn, capitol of Odess.  And for many Genasi, it has become the de facto capital of Genasi culture on Eodria, if not the whole world.  But it was not always so.  Would you like to know of what came before?"

Several of the children nodded.  One girl, a Magma Soul Genasi, only just old enough to have lost a tooth, giggled as Alchos started the story once more.

"Myths tell of a time when Genasi could not settle, constantly pulled by their nature, or by Nature, from place to place.  Some Genasi, particularly taken with our oral history, still remark on the wanderlust of Nature's Soul.  Several centuries ago, however, a small troupe of travelling Genasi came to Glasswyn."

Alchos gestured widely as the puppeteers portrayed the troupe.  One of each of the Elemental Souls was represented, as well as children who might have been of Para or Quasi-Elemental Soul.

"Now, there was no Little Maelstrom then.  The Royal Palace, the Cathedral of the Sun, the Royal Library, the Grove of Melora, and the Stonehaven District had already taken form.  But where the Little Maelstrom would one day stand, there was a large manor with sprawling grounds.  It was owned by a man named Nhurein Dhishi."

A large manor unfolded beyond the puppets, sprawling and draped in black.

"Of course, in most stories, the travelling troupe would be good and pure and Dhishi would be corrupt, ugly, and mean.  But it wasn't so.  The troupe was tired and broke the law by camping on the grounds of Dhishi's manor.  Dhishi was well respected in the community, but wanted to protect what he owned.  So he called for the guard.  The troupe was driven away."

The puppets boarded a caravan wagon, which left the stage, only to reappear on the other side as Alchos swung his gaze from one end of the stage to the other.

"They wandered once more, but a year to the day later, they settled in the same spot again.  Once more Dhishi called for the guard and they were scattered. But the next year there was another troupe. And another. For ten years, the Genasi returned, troupe upon troupe."

More and more puppets crowded the stage, threatening to overflow the space. The pushed and jostled against one another and the cut out of the great estate.  Suddenly, the figure of an androgynous Earth Soul Genasi appeared, adorned in flowing robes of green, brown, and gold.

"It could have come to a riot, and it nearly did, but for the efforts of a Genasi named Volaris Aevus.  They coordinated the troupes.  Kept them calm.  When the guards pushed the troupes off of the land of Dhishi's manor, Volaris kept the troupes in Glasswyn."

The puppets retreated to the sides of the stage, looking on as the Volaris puppet approached the Dhishi puppet.  Alchos mimed joining them in their wonder.

"Volaris met with Dhishi, explaining to the wealthy man that the Genasi were called to the land. That they would return again and again, in ever greater numbers.  That despite Nature's Soul, they had found a place to settle.  Dhishi, as was his right, was not pleased with this."

Some of the younger members of the crowd grumbled, but their elders hushed them, nodding at the truth of the statement.

"But he was a businessman and decided that there was an opportunity to be had in this.  For their part, Volaris latched onto the same opportunity.  Between the two of them, they came to an arrangement.  All business done on the lands of the manor would pay into a fund to maintain the grounds and manor.  Dhishi, and his line, would also be given first right to invest in any business opened on the grounds."

On stage, the beginnings of smaller buildings began to rise around the mansion.

"Volaris secured free right of development for the grounds and convinced Dhishi to allow the land to be free of price of title.  They shook on the deal and, together, spoke to the assembled troupes of Genasi.  Because Dhishi's land was privately owned, the kingdom allowed the arrangement."

The buildings pushed further upwards.  None was as tall as the mansion, but they were distinct now.  Small streamers of color began to unfurl, mimicking the stalls and tents that lined the real streets of the Little Maeltrom.

"The first buildings in the Little Maelstrom were caravan wagons staked into the grounds.  The first businesses were those of Genasi artisans who brought styles from their broad travels to Glasswyn, helping the city to grow more cosmopolitan."

Now puppets of all shapes and sizes bustled back and forth across the stage, with Dhishi and Volaris holding to the center.  Alchos smiled theatrically at the scene and let it play out for a time before speaking again.

"After decades of cooperation, Dhishi bequeathed the land to the city on the condition that the Genasi not be moved.  As he had no heirs, Dhishi left his manor to Volaris Aevus, who had guided the growth of the Little Maelstrom dutifully.  Aevus, in turn, left the manor to the people of the Maelstrom.  It still stands at the center of the Little Maelstrom, a place of festival and gathering."

Alchos gestured to the actual manor, standing several streets over.  He smiled once more and clapped his hands.

"The tale is a link to our history and a reminder that if we look for ways to compromise, to help all parties find their joy, we can often avoid violence and strife.  The Lady of Joy blessed Volaris for their willingness to find common ground.  It is something we can all aspire to."

As the viewers dispersed, some clapping, some talking, Alchos stood watching.  The little Magma Souled girl smiled at him, waved, then scampered off.  Alchos laughed and waved after her.

A hand came to rest lightly on Alchos' shoulder.  Without looking, he said, "Thank you, Car'onna.  This is always one of my favorite activities."

"Thank you, Alchos.  Now, come help me get ready for the dinner tonight."

They turned and began walking towards the Dhishi Mansion, where preparations for the night's feast were already underway.