“How Afuegan Lost his Eye”

23:32 Sun 10 Feb 2013
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In the pantheon of old Athrai, still one of the dominant Q’Resti faiths, Afuegan, brother to the god of war Atargan, is the god of archers. Afuegan is also the god of accuracy, the pursuit of excellence for its own sake, and monomania.

His singularity of focus, and his occasional blindness to larger concerns, are both represented by the fact that he is missing an eye. This is one account of how he lost it.

Secretly wandering Athrai in defiance of Waskaru’s ban on gods mingling with mortals, Afuegan was observed by Feorla, goddess of beauty, artifice, foresight, and deception. Not long before, Afuegan had angered Feorla by dismissing her works and those of her followers as trivial and unworthy of divine effort or attention, and she sought to revenge herself upon him.

Feorla had a follower, Arlana, to whom she had promised a god’s child. When Afuegan came to Arlana’s town, Feorla told her who he was and secured Arlana’s agreement that his would be suitable seed. They knew that Afuegan would not lie with her in utter defiance of Waskaru’s edict, but were not deterred.

Arlana disguised herself as a man and entered the tavern where Afuegan was staying. She was boastful and arrogant, proclaimed herself a better shot than any other on the continent, pretended to drink heavily, and told outrageous tales of arrow, sling, and stone shots that rivalled the deeds of Afuegan himself. She further angered him by refusing to enter into any contest with him, no matter how small, on the grounds that he was unworthy of that honor.

After much drinking, boasting and belittling, she finally suggested a wager over which of them could ejaculate accurately into tankards placed across the room. Afuegan, eager to demonstrate his superiority to this braggart, agreed at once. The tankards were placed, and the rest of the customers watched as Arlana, using a sausage she and Feorla had painted earlier, pretended drunken impotence while Afuegan spilled no drop outside his target.

Feigning shame and anger, Arlana paid her side of the wager and stormed out, pausing only to apparently smash Afuegan’s tankard against a wall—but actually smashing her own and making away with Afuegan’s seed. She and Feorla then impregnated her with it, while the god was none the wiser.

Arlana bore a son, Mikitas, and raised him with Feorla’s help. Mikitas was a great archer from an early age, and won many contests throughout the kingdom. As he grew to manhood, his feats became legendary, and Feorla made sure that word of them reached Afuegan.

Feorla arranged for Mikitas to fall in love with a sacred virgin of Larynn, goddess of beauty, chastity, honesty, and honor. With Feorla’s help, Mikitas was able to seduce the girl, incurring Larynn’s wrath. Descending to her acolyte’s bed, Larynn immediately saw Mikitas’ divine blood, and dragged him before Waskaru demanding a reckoning.

Insisting that only Mikitas’ divine parentage enabled him to seduce her acolyte, Larynn argued that this meant Afuegan was responsible for the insult to her and the loss of her acolyte, that both Mikitas and Afuegan should be punished, and that Afuegan must be further punished for violating Waskaru’s ban on mingling with mortals.

Waskaru summoned Afuegan to answer, and the other gods to witness. After repeating Larynn’s charges, Waskaru had Afuegan step forward to answer, and to meet his son for the first time—but before he could, Feorla implored Waskaru to show mercy to Mikitas, first because the boy had not chosen his divine blood and should thus not be punished for it, second because he showed such promise and was already renowned throughout the land as an archer without peer whose deeds could match or even outstrip his father’s.

Afuegan’s first words to his son were: “You claim to be a better archer than I am?” Larynn forestalled any answer, saying that his skill was irrelevant and his transgression against her honor was what demanded punishment. She demanded that Mikitas be put to death, and that Afuegan be forced to do the deed. Waskaru looked set to agree, but Feorla spoke out, lamenting again the loss of the boy’s potential, and stating again that Afuegan bore at least as much responsibility. She demanded that Mikitas be at least given some chance, and proposed an archery duel, one shot each at three hundred paces. When Larynn objected, Feorla began berating and provoking her, and the ensuing argument pushed Waskaru to put an end to it by agreeing to Feorla’s proposal, with the amendment that the archers could not move once they notched their arrows.

Mikitas and Afuegan walked out to their places, Afuegan alone, Mikitas accompanied by Feorla, who told him his only hope was to shoot true and win the admiration of his father.

Waskaru signalled the start, and they notched their arrows. Mikitas let fly first, and Afuegan could see at once that the shot was good. Afuegan considered missing, or stepping aside, but recalled the tales of Mikitas’ fame that he had heard. He considered shooting Mikitas’ arrow from the sky, but recalled that all the gods were watching a contest between him and an archer reputed to be his equal. He could not countenance anything but victory under such conditions, and released.

His son was doomed once he made that decision, and the arrow of Afuegan pierced his skull and ended his life. Mikitas’ arrow hit Afuegan in the right eye, which did not kill him but did make him pass out from the pain.

Larynn declared justice done and left. Feorla revealed that Mikitas was the son of one of her followers, and that hence she would extract payment from Afuegan. Walking over to him, she yanked out Mikitas’ arrow, with Afuegan’s eye on its tip. Turning it into a ruby, she put it on a chain around her neck, and it is the same gem she has worn since, the gem that allows her to see what may come to pass.

Once recovered, Afuegan practiced until he could shoot as well with one eye as he had with two, if not better.

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