This is the story of a beginning, not The Beginning; for that was too long ago for my memory.
At the foot of a great mountain there was a place cut by many rivers, and by those rivers grew many clans who farmed the lands, hunted the forests, and fished the rivers. These clans had all come from the mountain and knew it as their first chief.
Over time, as their numbers grew the farmers, hunters, and fishers traded and warred. Over time, as their numbers grew the farmers, hunters, and finishers warred more than they farmed or hunted or fished. The land once fertile and rich grew fallow and poor, the forests once filled with game, began to empty. The rivers once carriers of life now carried the dead and with them sickness.
The clans killed the land and each other. The people once rich were now poor but their chiefs so riven with hate could not stop the war. Even the wisest of the sages who guided the chiefs could find no words to stop the war, and so the people now poor called quietly to the wind. Asking, begging, for an end to war.
The earth-mother Prithiv, who had made the land and filled it with life, heard the sorrowful calls of the people and saw with her own eyes the dying lands. So she sent to each of the clans and bid that they gather, in a place known as high-hill, a convention. To what purpose she would not say, but bid them come anyway. At the hills centre there stood a stone alter and upon that alter she placed three crowns.
One of Air.
One of Earth.
One of Water.
The chiefs came with their sages and warriors, gathering as they were bid. Unhappy to be so close to those they hated but willing to keep the peace for a time. Once they had all gathered Prithiv said to them. “I have made three crowns. The first of air, the second of earth, and the third of water. Those who wear the crown shall rule over the clans, but be warned their power must be balanced or you will be undone.” With those words she departed to allow the chiefs to make their bids for the crowns.
Now each chief rose in turn to speak and lay claim to the crowns. First to rise were the three strongest clans, whose warriors numbered the greatest and lands the largest.
The first chief struggled to his feet. His name was Talpicmica, he was fat and dressed in the finest of silks. His fingers covered in gold rings set with priceless stones and his neck draped with gold and silver chains. “It should be I who wears the crown of air, and my kin the crowns of earth and water. Give me the crowns and I shall make all rich beyond your wildest dreams.”
Some nodded, others muttered, and still others were silent. It was well known that this chief was the wealthiest of the lot. In his lands he and his family lived in the grandest of halls, build of stone and wood. In those halls were rooms filled with vast treasures of silks, wines, and jewels. It was also known that he had cut down the forests to build his halls, dug up the lands to fill them with jewels, and planted white mulberry to make his silks. While he and his kin feasted those they ruled over went hungry.
The second chief rose to his feet. His name was Crayethoc, he was a gaunt figure dressed in simple homespun. On his fingers he wore no rings, nor jewels, his feet were bare and calloused. “No, no.” he cried shrilly. “It should be I who wear the crown of air, and my kin who wear the crowns of earth and water. Choose me and I shall bring you order, the way of the goddess shall be kept and the lands shall prosper again.”
Some nodded, others muttered, and still others were silent. It was well known that this chief was the most pious. In his lands his people dressed simply and ate the gifts of forests and rivers. He lived in a simply mud hut as did his kins men. It was also known that he kept order in the harshest way. One winter a child was caught killing some squirrels to feed her brothers and sisters. When she was caught she lost her hand for theft. Those taking too much from the forest were punished most harshly.
The third chief rose to her feet. Her name was Limpospu, and she was a strong figure with many scars over her body. She wore the furs of a lion she slew, on her fingers were rings of iron and bronze. “I should wear the crown of air and my kin the crowns of earth and water. Choose me and I shall see you all have voice in my council and all shall prosper.”
Some nodded, others muttered, and still others were silent. It was well known that this chief heeded the council of her people and gave them a say in governing the clan. Those who stood in greatest number prospered, but to disagree meant poverty or worse. Her clan was the most warlike and oft found itself on the killing fields.
This went on for a time. In the number of chiefs who spoke were also those with good claim to the crowns but had not the power in wealth or numbers to make a claim, so they held their peace. The sages who came with their masters whispered into their ears, others who had no masters sat silently contemplating the words of the goddess. The wisest of the sages well knew that there was hidden meaning in the words the goddess spoke. New claimants rose to speak but none could agree on which clan would wear the three crowns. This went on for a time and tempers began to grow short and knives to be sharpened.
On the third day of the third week of the third year of deliberations the sages who advised the chiefs and warriors found themselves apart. Now among the sages were those who served the chiefs, those who served the people, and those who served the forests. Not all among them were wise, but all among them were quiet cunning. One among them, a wildling named Rimosocemp, known for his wisdom had said nothing for three years.
Now the sages began to speak, each advocating for their patron to wear the crowns.
“Brothers, sisters my master Talpicmica will glad follow any of your great and wise masters. For though we respect the ways of Crayethoc, his widsom and piety is known to all, and the courage and strength of Limpospu is unquestionable, the warriors of my master still enjoy their wine and silks. They know that Talpicmica or his kin can bring them this so they will follow no other.”
The sages said nothing, but simply listened.
“Brothers, sisters my master Crayethoc will gladly follow any of your great and wise masters. For he respects the courage and strength of Limpospu, and the prosperity of Talpicmica, the warriors of my master still follow the true way of the goddess. They know only Crayethoc and his kin will stay true to the path so they shall follow no other..
The sages said nothing, but simply listened.
“Brothers, sisters my mistress Limpospu will gladly follow any of your great and wise masters. For she respects the wisdom and piety of Cryethoc, and the prosperity of Talpicmica. The warriors of my mistress will only follow those who give them heed so they shall follow no other.
The sages said nothing for they all knew that if these three clans would not serve under any except their own there would be no peace for they had the most warriors. Now the sage Rimosocemp, who had kept his peace for three years, rose to speak. He was much respected as an asker of questions, a seeker of wisdom, and a solver of riddles.
“Brothers, sisters we are at an impasse. The great chiefs and their kin each have a right to rule, as do their warriors have a right to be heard, but as the great mother said the power of the crowns must be balanced.”
The sages said nothing, waiting to see what wise Rimosocemp would say.
“The chief and kin of any one clan cannot wear all the crowns, for that would be insult to the others. Let the crown of air be worn by only one who we all respect. For like the air the presence of this one must be felt by all, but like the air the presence must be light so we may all breath easily.”
The sages nodded at this for there was one chief respected by the rest who had not spoken for he had not the warriors to support his claim. In all the great halls and mud huts the name of this chief was always spoken with respect.
“The crown of earth should sit on no one persons head, for one neck cannot bear the weight of all the trees and mountains. Thus let the warriors select a council to hold the weight of this crown.”
The sages nodded at this for all knew that the earth was indeed heavy and needed strength of many to hold it up.
“Water flows over, under, or around any obstacle in it's quest to the sea. Ever is it patient and unyielding and thus those who hold the crown must be seekers of truth. They must number in the threes like the three forms of water on it's path to the ocean.
The sages nodded at this for all knew that water sought the sea, past any and all things.
Now the sages knew that wise Rimosocemp had solved the puzzle. The crowns would be held not by one clan but by all. The great chiefs would still get their wishes, though not as fully as they desired, and the warriors would still have a voice. The sages went to their masters and whispered in their ears of the clever plan they had devised. The chiefs who had grown tired of the bickering and wished to return to their lands agreed to the wisdom of giving each crown to many people.
When the goddess finally returned it was Rimosocemp who told her of the plan. She asked him “but wise Rimosocemp, who is this chief that shall wear the crown of air?”
Rimosocemp smiled slyly and pointed to the great mountain. “Why the great chief Redyomacc, who else?”
With that the goddess laughed richly and departed. Thus it was that peace returned to the land watched over by the great king, governed by the great council, and negotiated by the seekers of truth.