Ephemera — Eurmal Peacock
“Listen, my brothers and sisters! For before I have told you the tale of Eurmal and Crow, and how Eurmal tricked Crow out of his beautiful coat. Now let me tell you the tale of Eurmal and Peacock.
It was in the year that Orlanth had slain Yelm, and all was confusion, so Eurmal felt that the time was right for him to break into the labyrinth where Yelm’s jewels were kept. Now, the keeper of that place was dead, but monsters still lurked within the twists and turns that protected the Vaults of Gems, so Eurmal knew he would need to be stealthy, for which his coat would impede him, and the design of the maze were such that some guide would be needed to find his way in and out again safely. Pondering these matters as he travelled, Eurmal came to the gates still unsure.
Outside the gates he found Peacock, and Peahen, with the grains they had gathered against the Great Darkness. Now, in those days Peacock was a very drab bird, wearing the same plain brown clothes as Peahen, but he had ambition to better himself. Peahen was a more sensible, and modest creature, who did her best to keep her husband safe.
Eurmal approached them, removing the wonderful bright coat he had tricked Crow out of, and said to them, “I see you have gathered grain. I will exchange two handfuls of grain for two handfuls of gems later today. I will leave my coat as deposit, to prove I am not stealing from me, and will reclaim it when I give you gems!”
Peacock readily accepted, but Peahen said, “Are you not Eurmal, the Trickster? We should make no deals with you! I will have nothing to do with this foolishness!”, and she stormed off. Peacock looked embarrassed at his wife, and picked up the wonderful coat, and handed Eurmal two handfuls of grains.
With grains to leave behind himself to mark where he had been, Eurmal stepped between twp of the three great carved lumpen warriors which marked the entry, and snuck into the labyrinth below the Mountains, seeking the great Gems which Father Yelm no longer had any use for. Little did he suspect that Peahen had quietly snuck in behind him.
Eurmal went deeper into the maze, past the Great Secrets of the Dark Earth, which I will not speak of here, for there are men present, but the Great Secrets did not eat him, nor did they notice Peahen. At last, he reached a mighty door, made of Iron, and he sat down to consider how best to pass it.
As Eurmal sank into contemplation, Peahen began to peck her way back down along the line of grains which Eurmal had lain to show his way back out, until she arrived back in the open air, where she berated her husband for his foolishness!
Not noticing, Eurmal persuaded the door that a door was a wall, unless it showed it could open, and snuck in to steal the great gems of Father Yelm. As he snuck out, the door closed, and Eurmal saw that the grain trail had gone. Frowning, Eurmal began to work his way out, but soon became lost.
He tried to mark the walls, but the stone was too hard, and he had no charcoal to write on them. So he realised he must indicate ways he had tried with a gem, so he did not repeat them. At last, doing so, he found his way out, but when he looked down he had but one gem left, and whilst it was magnificent, it did not fill both hands.
As Eurmal left the maze, one of the statues by the door woke, and stepped into the labyrinth, moving slow and strong and strange as stone, and closed the way to the return of Eurmal.
Eurmal came to Peacock, and said, “Give me back my coat!” But Peacock reminded him of the deal they had made, and Eurmal had to admit he did not have two handfuls of gems with which to pay for the grain, so his coat was forfeit.
But neither did Peacock have all the grain he had once had, and he had a hungry time of the Great Darkness, until Ernalda’s daughters returned. Peahen had eaten well, and so lived on her fat, with much shouting from her husband.
And since that time, Peahen has been plumper than Peacock, and Peacock has been dressed in the most splendid coat, but he and his wife have shouted at each other loudly all the time; Peahen at Peacock for being a fool to make deals with Eurmal, and Peacock at Peahen for both spoiling their chance at gems, and for leaving him hungry during the great darkness. And since that time, the strange stone statue lives in the Dwarf Mine, keeping the Gems for his own, and not letting thieves in.
Now, the Gems which had laid in the Darkness were the fallen Stars of the Sky Court, which had tumbled in the fighting after Orlanth’s killing of Yelm, Those which had been left in the labyrinth were in the hands of the Dwarf, and he lets nothing leave them for free, despite the pleas of the Sky, so there they remain in Darkness.
And the Great Gem which left the Dark in Eurmal’s hands? Well, that is a story for another day.”