Sgorge and the Yellerbellowe Pirates
A dusky sun, a mounting moon. Pirates and pillagers wearing yellow furs, dangling with giant teeth were landing on the beaches before a panicking, scrambling island village. The captain had massive fangs mounted on his shoulders, and his followers howled as they disembarked their boats. They thought they saw yellow birds in the trees surrounding the village, and they took this as a good sign.
One man appeared on the sand, framed in a red mantle marked with crystal stars and moons. The pirate captain jolted to a stop, trembling, resisting an urge to kowtow, not noticing that half his crew were already on their knees. These raiders were worshippers of the savage deity Yellerbellowe, giant flaxen wolf-god of their home planet’s moons. As followers, there could be no mistake that the familiar power of Yellerbellowe stood before them in the red-manteled man.
But he was not their cruel god; just a very crafty magician named Daniel Prying. Still, he lied to them, and said, “Yes! It is I, your master!” They fell in prostration, faces in the tide and sand. “Your days of plunder are over! I have come to grant you a new future!” He began to glow, perfectly as the beautiful lights of the pirates’ home moons. They looked up to bask in it, salt and mud dripping from haggard, exhausted mugs. They felt a great gratitude, and were all ready to follow.
The ground shook. Everyone, Prying included, turned to stare beyond the village, towards the island mountains.
The first villagers to arrive on the island had found a small temple, containing a mysterious statue and instructions for a spell. Generations of wizards were unable to unravel what the spell would do, so the temple remained revered, yet forbidden. Some said the magics were to summon an island protector. Some said it would summon doom.
Unaware of Prying’s aid, the panicking, desperate villagers had performed the spell, hoping for a guardian against the pirates.
A titanic dragon of black crystal, pulsing with green lasers, emerged from the mountain behind the village. It looked down at the village and the pirates ships and was enraged by it all. It decided that it needed to clean its beaches and waters of all intruders. Roaring, it summoned a great storm cloud that darkened the entire island.
It was a staggering sight, but the pirates soon had their eyes back on Prying. They knew the god they worshipped would meet this challenge, and they were eager to see him in his true form: the towering canary-feathered wolf-man whose howls came to them in their dreams.
Although not their god, Daniel Prying would not disappoint them. With a flash of moonbeam, he began to tower above them, golden fur and feathers emerging on his arms and back, face shuddering and convulsing into the maw of an unearthly wolf. But that wasn’t all. To the pirates’ surprise, as the beast rose to even greater stature, his chest and legs flickered a ghostly blue. They shimmered, transforming into the pellucid legs of what might have been an amphibious, water-dwelling creature! Prying, as this bizarre and mighty monster, crouched on his long, muscular legs, and leapt towards the crystal dragon.
The pirates were confused by the half-blue form of their god. But they never claimed to know everything about the great Yellerbellowe. They couldn’t have known the real reason for this strange mixing of forms…
As said before, Daniel Prying is not a god. He was just an incredibly smart, very determined magician. He understood that the pirates’ deity, Yellerbellowe, was but one of many aspects of a cosmic entity vastly larger in scope than the feeble pirates’ minds could comprehend. This being’s influence was felt through great swaths of the galaxy, worshipped by many different peoples, who gazed up reverently to many different moons. Each group gave their god a different name. And each group envisioned their god after their own manner, though, somehow, always with the aspects of a wolf.
Some worshippers were similar to these pirates; vikings, riding great wave-wolves into battle under a green crescent. Others were different, and with the aid of glimmering lunar rocks, trained tiny, faerie-winged wolves as familiars. Others recieved divine inspiration from moonbeams, and invented towering androids that ran and howled like beasts. The variation was limitless, and none were aware that there were others in the galaxy, extolling their god by other names, envisioning it with other faces, attributing to it other miracles.
And the great moon being was still only one of many great deities in the cosmos. Another of these came repeatedly into conflict with the moon being. It was a great being of suns and stars. Similarly, it was worshipped by many peoples, and bestowed many names. It was imagined in an ever greater multitude of forms. Some people saw it as a great red beetle after their planet’s red sun. Some gave it the visage of a shimmering cats, after their world’s twin orbs. And, of course, one group revered a dependable, guiding blue star, and gave it the form of their most beloved beast: a translucent, blue frog.
Of course, throughout the galaxy, both sun and moon gods sometimes found they had followers in the same places. This always meant war. On planet after planet, moon after moon, out in space, deep in oceans, even in the realms of dreams—a many faceted, multi-fronted, eternal fight.
Daniel Prying found a way to take advantage of this.
Though a dream of most magic users, attaining the powers of a cosmic god isn’t worth the price. Such a powerful deity’s spirit and influence crashes like a tidal wave over a mortal’s mind and soul, an irresistable force that overwhelms and obliterates the self. A mortal becomes an extension of the cosmic being; a slave. Daniel Prying would not let this be his fate, but he did crave this power. The answer, he found, was to crave for even more. Exactly twice the power.
In all their wars, the sun and moon gods fought each other through their followers. Daniel arranged, for the first time ever, for them to engage one another directly, in the high planes that mortals cannot concieve. Focused upon one another, the worlds of their followers faded to the periphery. And at this moment, Daniel Prying opened his mortal form to both the moon and sun gods’ forces simultaneously. The vast, unearthly powers of both gods, from all their guises, coursed through his body. He braced himself for the horrible tidal waves of the gods’ essences that would pummel his mind and shatter his will, but they never fell upon him. He had risked everything, but had surmised correctly. All wrath, all intention, all dominating energies of the two gods were channeled exclusively upon one another. The dark, mountainous waves collided above and around him, each one, if alone, an irresistable force. But each wave held the other in check. He stood firm within a clashing deluge that was riotous and clamourous, yet in perfect equilibrium, and was not swept away by either side.
He now had access to the powers of suns and moons, but his soul, his mind, and will were all his own…
And in the imperceivable planes of the gods, this fight goes on. These colossal beings percieve time on an astronomical scale. They witness the forming of planets, evolutions and extinctions. To them, our entire existence is a short moment, as the lifespan of a bacterium is to a mortal. It takes a year for them to recoil from their initial collision into each other! A decade will pass as they grapple for position! Centuries before the first true blows are struck!
Centuries in which Daniel Prying can steal away a portion of each god’s powers, hopefully unnoticed. For, although the energies Daniel will harness in his lifetime will seem immeasurable and monumental, on the planes were the moon and sun gods contend, it amounts to but sliver of a slice of what they continue to recieve from the fervor and reverence of their followers.
But the net balance of ruinous waves must be sustained, or Daniel chances losing himself. This stability is maintained in an apportioning of his physical form. If he transforms into one of the many depictions of one god, he shares the form with a portrayal of the other. Always an aspect of the sun, to compliment one of the moon. Always a representation of the moon to counter that of the sun. An endless variety of pairings, with forms and powers limited only by the beliefs and constancy of the gods’ innumerable venerators.
Thus, the strange creature—half wolf, half amphibian. Expressions of both moon and sun. With all their ascribed powers…
No, the pirates could not have known that the far away worshippers of the unknown blue star believed that their frog-god could make tremendous leaps, yet land without a quiver of the ground or a stirring of sound. They just marveled as their god, “Yellerbellowe”, achieved this feat, silently bounding over the palm trees, up towards the raging crystal dragon.
When Prying reached the laser-spewing fiend, he widened his maw and let out a horrible howl of toxic yellow light. This was his “Yellow Feeber” magic; a terrible, but temporary curse of timidness, that normally renders enemies inert. But the crystal dragon had no trepidation to exploit, so it was wasted. Daniel’s clawed hands held the dragon back as it snapped at him.
He was curious what affect his decaying “Goldenrot” spell would have on an inorganic creature, but this also did nothing. In fact, many of the powers attributed to Yellerbellowe would fall short against a creature such as this. He would have to shift his form to subdue the dragon.
He didn’t shift to any particular moon god this time, but a mixing of aspects. He looked like a typical gray wolf, now, albeit a towering one, retaining the blue amphibian legs. In this generalized wolf form, his moon magics were minimally diluted, but he could access more abilities with greater ease.
He pulled his fist back, and struck with the enchanted “Kablooie Moon” punch, knocking the dragon backwards with an explosion. Then he performed the bizarre “Luner Landing” spell, which conjured a wide platform and stairs that rose like a battering ram out of the ground, tumbling the enemy down it’s spectral steps before disappearing into smoke.
The crystal dragon spewed green lasers at Prying, searing his frog-like legs. Daniel wanted to fight laser with fire, and called upon several depictions of the sun god that were imagined as great, blistering dragons. The amphibious aspects disappeared, and the magician now stood as a titanic, half wolf-half dragon monster!
Now the lasers glanced and reflected off of Prying’s scarlet scales. Daniel lashed at the crystal dragon with his own rugged tail, setting his enemy ablaze with white fire. Prying’s chest expelled an array of shimmering shards, crumbling and cracking the outside of the crystal dragon’s form. After weathering another attack of green lasers, Daniel opened his snarling maw to emit the devastating “Lunar Phaseout” attack, diminishing the material of the crystal monster, lessening it’s vitality.
But from the dark clouds above, Daniel’s adversary summoned a great bolt of green lightning that knocked the magician tumbling down the mountain. Daniel shook his head, and staggered to his feet. As the crystal dragon charged down after him, Daniel saw that the fight had moved to just outside the island village. He had to move the fight farther away and tried to leap away, but was hit again by the emerald lightning!
The crystal dragon leapt upon him, holding him down, and summoned more fury from above. The ground shuddered, buildings shook, trees fell. Daniel mentally ran through his repertoire of deities for one that was immune to lighting, but he was already too dazed. Just barely, he was able to slither with his reptilian body out from under the crystal dragon, getting to his feet as the sky flashed again with green light. Finally, there was a pause in the barrage, and Daniel charged at the crystal dragon, putting all his magical might into one last “Kablooie Moon” attack. The black crystal shattered, it’s gleaming shards falling accross the village and beach.
Daniel dropped to his knees in exhaustion. He looked up at the sky, and saw the dark clouds beginning to scatter. The wolf and dragon forms faded away as he returned to normal size and appearance. He let himself drop to lie in the wet sand.
Fading in and out of consciousness, he wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was real or not: Black shapes, lifting themselves from the ground and walking. About as big as people. A turtle, a gator, a lizard. Reptiles. Aspects of the crystal dragon? They moved towards the village. Daniel tried to get up, but as the ocean swash lapped around him, his eyes closed. Sound was muted as water caressed his ears. He thought the surf might be taking him away, and dreamed of giant waves breaking over the village…
He had been dragged off the beach by the people of the village. Later, when he was recovering in the home of the healer, it was explained that he hadn’t imagined the crystal reptiles. Each was a portion of the giant crystal dragon, every one intent on finishing its work. But the pirates had taken up their moon god’s cause, fighting ferociously against the crystal monsters and saving the village. This was now how they would honour him. They were protectors, who would answer his call when needed. Most would return home, to tell what had happened, but some would stay behind, teaching the village about the legends surrounding the god of the yellow moon.
The people of the village gathered with the pirates and waited on the beach. Daniel came to them and spoke. He revealed that he had many forms besides the canary wolf they exalted, and that his reach in the galaxy was epically vaster than they had understood. They had brothers and sisters across the stars who had never heard the name “Yellerbellowe”. Compatriots devoted to other images and designations, and the time had come for this unknown concertedness to be unveiled. The pirates were awestruck at this news, so that, althrough Daniel actually commanded but a drop of the true moon god’s powers, his esteem in the eyes of the pirates blossomed tenfold.
Harder for them to hear, was that he was also worshipped by the sun sailors who often clashed with the pirates back on their home world. This went against everything the pirates had believed for as long as they had kept histories. But their invigored fidelity was considerable, and withstood this difficult news.
“This human face,” he told them, “is what lies under all my masks.” The tide receded, revealing sparkling stones, and glistening shells as a morning sun rose on the ocean horizon. “And though these guises are glorified across the stars by many apellations, know that there is one name that congegrates all the others…” Overhead, a smattering of canaries took flight, their yellow wings tinged with the red of the rising sun. The pirates and villagers were silent, listening as the canaries sang a name while flying over the foaming waters.
Copyright © 2018 Kelly Ishikawa. All rights reserved.