Firewalker // Mythology
Written by Josiah Snader & Michael Truehart
Edited By Tabitha Wells
Written by Josiah Snader & Michael Truehart
Edited By Tabitha Wells
The universe, freed from its liminal state, expanded into fruition. What was once chaos -- the uncertain void, began to organize itself with structure and order. Within the chaos rose primal beings; humanity. The men and women stretched their legs in search of food and shelter all across their newly formed planet. They thrived with the four-legged forest dwellers, surviving together through the planet’s harsh environments. Together, man, woman and beast wandered the earth; existence, the one thought within their mind.
Above the dwelling sat a figure, a formless eye; a figure pulled from the primordial ooze. As the black encompasses all color, so too does the primordial. With all presence being one, there is no separation. The figure began searching and wandering through the newly formed structures, arriving before a bright, burning, white sphere. It spread its light across a dance of dark spheres that encircled it. The burning sphere and the figure flourished with their new connection. The figure looked down on the sphere, realizing that within themself burned a similar flame. They asked themselves, “What has this gift brought?” A sense now glowed within The Figure, just as the burning sphere’s light spread across the others that surrounded it.
Though they were buried within the Earth’s darkness, humanity heard the figure’s voice echo across the planet. Many fell to their knees in terror, while others looked to the sky, unsure of such noise and vibration. Their communication limited, they did their best to call out to the voice, to reach for its presence. Humanity’s cries rang out across the dark forest until their throats grew harsh.
As The Figure basked in the burning sphere’s presence, humanity’s cries broke the silence. “A response?” they thought, “Are there others?” They went in search of the cry and found humanity hidden in the shadows of Earth. The figure was both amazed and perplexed at the sight of humans. Though they communed and communicated with the animals, they stood upright, bearing hands and feet in place of hooves or paws. But within them the figure saw a void; just as the universe was once a mass of unknowns.
The figure sat in contemplation as they watched humanity shiver in the night. The men and women wandering aimlessly across the forest landscape. The ignorance of humanity weighed heavily on their shoulders. How could they help them? Was this The Figure’s purpose? Looking within humanity’s void, The Figure saw what was needed; the flame. A gift given to them by the void and its offspring; the burning sphere. With the weight of their ignorance intensifying, so did the responsibility of the flame. The scales of the universe sat uneven. On one side sat the flame and order, while the other was unhinged existence.
Still unaware to the figure’s presence, humanity’s suffering grew. The nights had become more desolate, and the animals no longer sustained. In their turmoil, the figure decided it was time to manifest themselves to the humans. As they stood among the sleeping men and women, they found the humans’ innocence beautiful. But with the universe’s uncertainty and unevenness, they knew this innocence could not last.
A single human emerged to the figure, a man they named Taka. Taka woke in a cold sweat, terrified at this being’s sight. Taka quickly shuffled to his knees and bowed; as if in servitude. “Be still,” said the figure, as they extended their hand to Taka, standing him up slowly.
Hand in hand, the figure led Taka away from the others. They wandered to a wooded grove where the figure began to pile sticks and shrubs. The two companions took a seat across from one another surrounding the pile the figure had placed there. Waving their hand across the pile between them, a small light formed in a burst of smoke beneath The Figure’s palm. Taka was taken back by the spark, the dance of the flame mesmerized him; the smell of the smoldering sticks and leaves was intoxicating. Taka had never felt such a warmth and peace as he did in the presence of the flame.
“This gift, was born within me,” the figure began, “until now, you have only known existence. A thought so abstract, even you have barely begun to grasp its levity. I sat at the edge of your world, only discovering existence with you. But the weight of this began to show itself as something that could not be ignored. For within you lies a great void of unknowns, a black mass of all. Everything still undefined.”
The fire between them grew larger, and consumed more of the sticks the figure had laid out. Taka shuddered at each crackle of the burning sticks, his heart weighing heavy with contrasting emotions.
“So I have come, to show you some of what I know. This, the flame, comes with a responsibility that you may one day fully understand. Purpose and intelligence will now become one with your existence; illuminating the darkness that is truth. The weight of this new gift has yet to be defined. But be weary, for along with this gift comes many dangers, things I can not explain, things that you must explore and define. I am asking too much of a creature such as yourself; such responsibility may weigh too heavy. But the universe has begun its organization and definition, so you must follow suit.”
Taka could hear the pain in The Figure’s words; an uncertainty it had not shown until now.
“But the scales of the universe are precise,” they continued. “This is the only way to balance them. Do not take too much, or they shall once again lean unfavorably.”
The figure arose from their seat and stared down at Taka. The figure’s uncertainty, still obvious to Taka, weighed now where the flame once did. Growing larger, the warmth from the flame began to pain Taka’s face. He stood, quickly taking a step back, until the warmth once again felt pleasurable. His eyes met with the figure and the gravity of the situation now moved to Taka’s shoulders.
“Mind the scales,” said the figure, disappearing from Taka’s view.
Taka stood motionless, paralyzed; The flame, the figure, what he was now beginning to understand. The fire in front of him was now full ablaze, calling to him, “Feed me. Feed me.”
The flame’s call awoke the other men and women from their sleep. The group came running to see where this great noise was coming from. A loud gasp overcame them as their eyes looked upon the dancing flame for the first time. Taka did his best to calm their discomfort, showing them that this was not a monster, but a tool.
The crowd’s tense excitement slowly subsided, as the flame’s warmth hit their cold skin. They moved closer, smiling and laughing, realizing the beauty that was in this strange phenomenon before them. Placing sticks into the fire, Taka showed the group how the flame lived and breathed, just as them.
One of the women, named Etu, took a stick from the ground and held it over the dancing flames. She watched as the branch turned from a dark brown to a bright mix of orange and red. Pulled from above the flames, the stick burned brightly at the end; still held firmly in the woman’s hand. A large smile grew on Taka’s face as Etu walked throughout the grove, illuminating the forest with her flaming branch. Taka began to motion the others as they gathered branch after branch, lighting the forest with standing torches. The once dark forest, illuminated, now felt much more comforting. The still forest glowed with the flame from the branches and the glow within the humans themselves.
Though the forest was full of light, the light from The Figure’s flames began to slowly dwindle. With the flame’s energy being spread across the forest, the original source began to lose its luster. “Feed me,” called the flame. Taka’s body filled with panic. He began to throw leaves and branches onto the pile as quickly as he could. Taka’s new followers mimicked his lead, frantically feeding the dwindling flame. Once the ground was bare of branches, they ripped them from the living trees above their heads, throwing them onto the fire. The still green leaves and branches sizzled and crackled as the flame consumed them.
Cheers rang out, as the flame regained its size and strength. Taka and the group encircled the fire and watched as the flames continued to grow. Soon, the warmth grew unbearable, moving the circled observers backward, step by step. It was different this time, the pain did not subside. Ashes and sparks filled the air until the large pile was fully engulfed. The grove, now filled with a thick smoke, caused every observer to fall to their knees, coughing and struggling for air.
Etu, realizing the growing danger, moved close to the fire and began to kick dirt and rocks onto the pile, hoping it would calm the flame. However, her efforts were too late. Etu’s attempt was quickly thwarted as the flame continued to grow. Flames kissed Etu’s skin quickly turning it a bright red. Small bubbles of pus formed on her skin’s the surface. She let out a great scream that echoed across the entire forest as she fell to her back. Taka rushed to her side, stood her up, and rushed her as far away from the flame as he could. Exhausted from the rescue, Taka’s knees grew weak, causing him to fall and Etu to collapse along with him. The two coughed and wheezed as their lungs filled with smoke.
The flame’s great height caused the two to look up in horror as ashes landed amongst the treetops. Painful and fearful cries filled the once still forest. Everyone ran from the flame. Still in immense pain, Etu laid on the ground at Taka’s feet. Though Taka’s fear was strong within him, there was still something within that caused him to not look away from the beautiful, luminous flame. Taka knew he could not stay, but even as the flame consumed the forest, its call continued.
“Feed me. Feed me.”
A few of the people rushed to Etu and Taka and lifter her pained body. They ran with Etu in their arms, and shouted at Taka to follow them to safety. He turned hesitantly and followed the rest of them out of the grove to a hill made of rocks. It became evident that the only safe area in the grove was the hill of rock. It became the human’s safe haven. Taka watched as the entire grove glowed with the flame and smoke billowed from the ground. Though they sat far across the valley, the flame’s call and warmth continued.
Taka grew impatient and restless while he watched The Figure’s flame consume the grove. This same restless feeling is what lead to this uncontrollable burn. But Taka had only just begun to understand the flame and only saw the power it yielded. What all could this simple man accomplish once the flame was fully under his control? The flame’s call rattled harshly inside Taka’s skull, while it consumed the last fragments of the grove.
“Feed me. Feed me.”
Vibrations from the flame’s call became too loud for Taka to ignore. He stood in front of his tribe and screamed, “We must return! The flame calls to us!” The other humans gasped as Taka’s voice echoed across the valley. The Figure’s words now found themselves in Taka’s mouth. The valley grew dark as the flame from the grove subsided.
Taka, Etu, and the rest of the humans made their way back down the rocky slope. What was once their beautiful grove was now a pile of smoldering debris. The ground beneath their feet was gray with ash. The only thing left was burnt branches and a pile of bright red and orange coals; where The Figure first placed the flame. Etu limped towards the coals, her skin still red and covered with yellow blisters. Cautiously she bent down to look at them, but the heat from the coals pained her skin and forced her to take a step back.
The rest gathered around the glowing coals and looked at them with the same uncertainty as the flame had once given them. Taka went to Etu’s side and looked at her torched skin. “If this is what the flame does on its own, imagine if it were harnessed,” he said. Etu smacked away his hand as he reached for her blistering skin. Taka looked shocked at her reaction. Etu threw him a disconcerting look. He was different, a new, one track mind. With a glassy look upon his face, Taka looked through everyone.
Taka’s heart grew heavy as he watched the smoldering embers slowly fade. He lifted a burnt branch, blackened from the flames touch. Dark debris fell from it has he picked it up and held it. With it, he did his best to scrape some of the coals away from the others. As the coals dragged along the ash-covered ground, a small trail of smoke followed. “It lives,” he responded.
With the grove’s forest now ashes, there was not much Taka could find that could reignite The Figure’s flame. He began to throw burnt branches onto the coals, but they only produced a faint smoke. Standing around the embers, the people watched as Taka ran back and forth to try and rekindle them. Only smoldering smoke rose from the charred sticks. There was nothing to properly feed and reignite the flame.
In anger, Taka cried out to the since gone Figure. The gift that was given to him was quickly taken away. The control he desired and hoped for faded while the smoke continued to rise. Taka frantically looked for any hope, but found none. Scouring the grove for an answer, his eyes met with Etu’s. The woman sat quietly, clutching her burnt arm as she shivered. Taka ran to her and took her arm. He carefully examined her blistered skin once more. She grimaced as he pulled her arm away from her chest.
The Figure’s words now rang truer than ever. Man’s innocence was lost, its unknown now being made flesh. Etu’s screams pierced the ashes and turned every head to the pit of coals. Taka raised Etu from the ground, who continued to scream in painful agony as the blisters on her skin burst with puss and fluid. Taka turned to all the people, raising Etu’s arm.
“The flame was a gift, given to us to be used!” Taka began. “This tool was once unquenchable and wild. But it has chosen one of us as….a... sacrifice. As the sacrifice for knowledge! The wild flame can be made ours, if we are willing to give to it what it has asked.”
Most of the humans did not fully understand what Taka was saying. A sacrifice? What did it mean to sacrifice? The minds of the people had only begun to understand what the flame was and now it was making demands?
“Words have been given to me! The flame itself has given me a ritual necessary for this sacrifice to be given its proper outcome.” He threw Etu to her knees and continued to speak to the crowd forming before him. “Do we wish for such a wild gift to run free? Free to choose and take as it wishes?”
The crowd stirred as they began to understand.
“Can we sacrifice small to gain greatly? If we do not do as it has asked, it will take from us whatever it chooses, with no regard for those to which it was given! The world around us, the thoughts within us, are full of unknowns and we must do what we can to eliminate them.”
Cheerful agreement rang through the stirring crowd’s cries. They raised their fists and voices in confirmation.
“Etu has been chosen. Chosen as the surrogate to knowledge.”
Where there was once confusion in the crowd, was now full of compassionate agreement. Taka motioned to them to gather any charred branch or stick they could find. Placing them just beside the pit of coals they piled them as tightly as they could; an altar began to form.
The altar stood sturdy, as a beacon to the human’s fears. They shouted and gathered more from the ground, binding Etu’s arms and legs to her body. She screamed in immense pain as the burnt branches dug deeply into her wounds. No words were found in her mouth, only the cries of pain. The men and women grabbed her, screaming, placing her on upon the altar. From within the altar rose a large branch pointed crookedly towards the sky.
They ripped the clothes from her body and used them to bind her to the crooked branch. Etu’s tears flowed from her eyes as she sat bound and naked upon the burnt altar. Taka took a pointed rock from the ground, still warm from the flame’s kiss, and stood behind the altar.
“These words were given to me, by the flame itself,” he shouted raising the pointed stone into the air. “Warmth and light, made my own! Flame burn bright, make me whole!”
“Warmth and light, made my own! Flame burn bright, make me whole!” the crowd slowly began to chant with Taka. The volume and intensity grew with each passing. Taka shouted over the crowd as the chant continued. “We give this sacrifice to you, oh great flame.” Etu’s tearful cries pierced the echoing chant and Taka’s shout. Take continued, “So that you may give yourself unto us! That we may be made whole, to use your powers as our own!” Taka placed the pointed stone on Etu’s throat.
“Make me whole!” Taka shouted the end of the chant with the crowd one last time, and ripped the stone across her throat. It cut imprecise and violently. The blood quickly flowed from her neck onto her naked body and onto the altar beneath her. Her cries were quickly replaced with gasps as she gagged on her own blood. The chants continued as Taka began to place coals onto the blood-soaked altar. Taka gathered smouldering embers with a charred stick, and piled coal after coal onto the woman’s dying body. Her skin began to sizzle and smoke. The flame’s call began to whisper again. “Feed me. Feed me.”
The chants continued as Taka shoveled the coals onto her with his hand, faster and faster. The flame began to overtake her skin. It reignited itself within her very own flesh. The blood that soaked her skin did little to stop the flame’s consumption of Taka’s sacrifice. The flames rose quickly and violently as the coals continued to pile at her feet.
With the flame rising towards her skin, consuming her face, the chant turned to joyful cries as the flame claimed its sacrifice.
The flame’s call rang loudly now, but it came to Taka’s ear much differently.
Across the earth came a shift. The feel of the air twisted and turned with the humans’ actions. The weight of the Figure’s gift was now defined through Etu’s taken life. Taka stood still behind the charred, wooden altar. His hand dripped with Etu’s blood. The humans cheers had wavered as they looked down at Etu’s smoldering corpse. The flame’s call was quiet in Taka’s head. The power he could harness. What he could do. These thoughts from the flame possessed his mind. He slowly pushed his blood soaked hands through the smoke that rose from her charred corpse. The grove sat silent.
An energy flowed down into the grove as the flame from her smoldering body grew slightly. It ran its way from her feet to her chest. It glowed that familiar orange and red as the flame had before, and brought a comforting smile to Taka’s face. Suddenly, pale blue glimmers began to show themself. Taka drew closer in mesmerized admiration of the flame’s expanding color. He heard the flame’s voice return; softly.
“I am defined.”
Taka fell onto the ashy soil, after he stammered back quickly from the flame’s statement. The smile that was on his face moments ago quickly disappeared.
“I am defined,” the flame’s voice grew louder, and stronger.
The others heard the flame’s call for the first time. Its voice was loud, aggressive, and assertive. The voice Taka had found so enticing was now painful to his ear. He stood, covered in ash, and cried to the flame, “I have fulfilled you! You are bound to me!” His voice was quivering and unsettled, but he did his best to hide the fear from it.
The flame moved from Etu’s breast, and engulfed her skull. It continued into her mouth and eyes. What once began as the familiar orange and red had quickly shifted to an all encompassing pale blue. Etu’s eyes opened and glowed this same pale blue, with the dancing flame; sending a chill down Taka’s spine.
“I am defined,” the flame called again in unison with Etu’s voice.
Etu’s eyes glowed brightly as her head rose; reawakened.
“I am defined!” Her voice, booming and overpowering, shook the groove.
The humans screamed in horror. Some ran in fear at the sight of Etu’s charred corpse rising from the altar. The burnt wood she was once bound to fell to ashes as she rose. Taka stood shaking in horror of the sight.
Etu walked to Taka, and stared at him with her gleaming, pale blue eyes.
“I am what you have made of your gift. Something boundless. Your actions have now defined me.”
Taka made no sound, or movement.
“You felt you understood the gift, what you called the flame, but I was not to be used merely for your desires. You have cursed the ground you stand on, the consequences of your definiton now will be made known. The innocence gone. Your desires for power have brought you to something beyond your own comprehension.”
Reaching out his hand, Taka tried to reason with Etu’s smoldering corpse. His quivering wordful pleas dwindled. He realized that the essence that was once Etu was gone. The Flame’s presence had replaced it.
“I was given to you as a gift. Though boundless and without limits, you sought to define me within your own perspective. You did your best to bend it to your will and for that, I called to you. The ritual was not for you to gain control, but for me to. Where there was nothing, you have created. Your morality is now defined.”
Taka’s face grew cold, and as pale as Etu’s shining blue, from fear and regret. Emotionally awakened, Taka’s heart pained with contrition. These new thoughts and feelings sent his mind into an overwhelming spiral. He raised his arms to the sky and unleashed a shrill cry from his mouth.
A smirk appeared across Etu’s face. Taka’s ignorance amused her slightly. She turned, and grasped Taka’s throat. His skin burned as her fingertips grabbed tightly at his neck. He tried to pull her hands away, but her skin, as hot as the flame, burned his hands. Etu raised him from the ground, her eyes glowing even more brightly than before. As he gagged and reached for air, Etu whispered, “The scales have once again become unbalanced.”
Taka fell to the ground. Etu’s powerful grasp had turned his throat to ash. Flame grew from Etu’s fingertips as Taka’s charred throat fell from her hand. She stood, smoke billowing under her feet. She looked down upon the others with her glowing eyes. They stared back in horror.
Once the humans’ shock had dissipated they began to scatter in fear. Etu, the flame within her, raised a circle of flame around them.
“Earthdwellers!” she began, “I do not wish death upon you, but this is what has been defined! The one you called Taka, the gift receiver, has created this reality. He has brought death to your kind, a curse for the defilement of innocence.”
Most of the shouts and pants had calmed as they stared at the burnt hole in Taka’s throat.
“The Receiver was given more than the flame. He was given a choice, which was used to achieve his own glory, not for that of all existence. From his actions he has created many imbalances, in the scales of all. The gifts bestowed! Purpose, Intelligence, the flame! They were given to you in hopes of balancing the scales. However, it appears the gift’s burden was too much for you. Your feeble minds could not realize or grow to understand its true potential. The Figure feared to place the gift within the Receiver’s hand. And now, in the hands of this human, the gift was weighed, measured, and determined. Its weight is unbearable.”
Just outside view, The Figure observed. The determination and balance of the scales had shifted. They knew something must be done to continue the balance. With Etu’s sacrifice, death had made its first claim. The universe’s boundless essence was lost. The void called for its own determination, its cry rang across the dark spheres. The Figure’s consciousness pained with a cry, as innocence of all had vanished.
The Figure watched in horror as streams of great energy formed and flowed across the earth and its brothers and sisters. Some of the energies glowed brightly, humming a pleasant tone as they flew around the rotating sphere. Others were dark and brooding. A screeching noise followed the energies as they crashed onto other planets, shooting rock and earth up into the atmosphere.
The void’s cry grew louder as more and more streams manifested themselves. The universe radiated with the vibrations of the energy now being made known. Three dark streams flew to The Figure and encircled them. The energies’ screeches and vibrations were harsh and overwhelming. The Figure shouted in great pain. They were unable to quench the energies that surrounded them.
The energies called to him, “Here you sit with the entire universe at your hands. The scales continue to lean unfavorably. As your gift’s receiver has done before, you must do the same.”
The void’s energies now surrounded the planet earth and darkened the sky. The only light on the planet came from Etu and her circle of flame. The warmth of Etu’s flame was just enough to overcome the bitter cold that swept across the valley.
“We must be bound” said the energies that still encircled the figure. “The scales have been abrupted, and we cannot be ignored.”
The earth shook, as the energies made their attempts to balance the universe. The ashy soil from the grove grew damp. The energies that surrounded the figure changed their trajectories towards the earth. They screeched loudly as they plummeted down.
The first crashed violently into the soil, sending a shock wave across the ground that pounded steadily back and forth. Its impact so violent, the earth’s once still existence was sent into a spiral. The humans, who felt weakened from this steadily pacing pound, fell to the ground as the earth began its course.
The second flew through the cloud of energies and expanded. It filled the entire atmosphere with a grey fog, causing the humans to choke. They gasped for air as the sun’s brilliance and warmth was cut off.
The third, much like the first, hit violently on the stone hill the human’s had temporarily found refuge on. The hit was violent, sending a shock wave across the grove. The impact left the hill undisturbed, except a strange flowing ring on the ground. The air around it was stale and silent.
Etu watched the energies closing and realized what was occuring.
“Here!” she called to the humans. “Close your eyes.”
She reached out her hands and stretched her arms as far as she could. The flame that engulfed her grew larger and brighter. She let out a great cry as the flame from her body fled from her body and into the eyes of the humans. They shouted as the pale blue flame filled their eyes and skull. The flame within Etu was now a part of all of those who surrounded it. Etu disappeared in a flash as the humans now stood in the dark valley, gasping for breath as they stood alone.
The circle on the stone hill broke and sent a stream of water trickling under their feet. The waters rose to their ankles and began to move more rapidly. The humans shivered as the cold water engulfed them and swirled around them. It grew higher, so high that they could not breathe. They panicked and thrashed violently, doing their best to keep themselves afloat. As death was once outside of their existence, the humans were boundless; but as the water rose, death was unleashed upon the earth. Mortality was defined. The earth began to make its way through the universe following its path around the white glowing sphere at the center.
For now the limits were set. Everything bearing a beginning and end. The humans floated, constrained within the water’s flow; the flow of time.