The Myth of Arial

by A. Newton


In the beginning, the were no Immortals, and the people lived on the
earth in peace and without fear. But as time went on, some learned that
by exploiting and dominating their fellow man, they could gain power.
Those who sought power became corrupted and evil, and their appetites
grew and grew with their power, until they were no longer human. They
passed beyond the mortal plane and ascended above the clouds, where
they became great Demons of might and wrath, feasting on the souls of
those below.

Every night, the Demons would descend to the mortal plane to gather
souls to eat. Never would they take the souls of the old or frail,
for their life was faded with death already near. Instead, they chose
the young and ill who otherwise had many years left. The people,
fearful, fled to their houses at night, which they kept brightly lit.
But the Demons were stealthy, and always would they find their way to
the beds of the young and weak, and steal their life away.

These souls they did not consume immediately. Instead, they carried
them back to the dark, twisted halls of their home beyond the mortal
plane. There, one by one, they would place the souls they had
gathered in a great chalice, where the power of the lives they had
taken would melt and mix together into a foul wine. This wine they
would then consume greedily, increasing their own power.

It came to pass that one night, a Demon named Arial came to a village
where a child lay ill. The people, fearing the dark of night and
knowing that a Demon would come for the child, cowered inside their
homes. But the child's father, named Adam, was a great hunter and was
not afraid. Instead of hiding, he stood watch outside his house,
awaiting the Demon that was sure to come.

The Demon did come, and though it tried to sneak into the house where
the child lay, it could not escape the keen eyesight of the hunter.
Adam confronted the Demon Arial. "You shall not take my daughter!" he
said. The Demon snorted, and walked forward, ignoring him. "No soul
shall be taken from my village this night!" The Demon Arial continued
walking towards the house. Adam then loosed an arrow at Arial. The
Demon did not fall, for the arrow merely glanced off Arial's thick
hide. Instead, it turned in anger to Adam. "If you must take a life
this night," he said, "take my own!"

The Demon Arial resolved then to take the soul of Adam instead, for in
all its plundering it had never been offered a soul freely! Summoning
its dark powers from the immortal plane, it grasped out to take the
spirit of Adam from his body. But Adam was strong, and his spirit was
full of life and steeled with the desire to save his daughter. A great
battle was fought then, invisible to mortal eyes. The Demon summoned
more and more power, and though Adam's life began to fade, his soul
clung firm to the mortal plane and refused to leave. Finally, as
daylight approached, the Demon found its exhausted, and it was forced
to retreat empty-handed to its foul home above the clouds!

There, the Demons gathered in their great hall as they did every night,
to feast upon the harvest. One by one, they approached the chalice
and deposited the souls they had collected. But this night, there was
one who had nothing! Ashamed of its failure to take a life, Arial
instead opened its empty hand over the chalice, pretending to drop in
its harvest.

The other Demons were not fooled, and immediately all eyes turned upon
the empty-handed one. The punishment for failure was swift and cruel.
Instantly, Arial was transformed into a mortal woman, fair of skin
and full of breast (for beauty was most despised among Demons), and
exiled to the mortal plane.

Arial, now mortal, found herself alone and confused in the forests of
the mortal plane. However, evil was still in her heart and her thirst
for power was still great, and she vowed to find the village of Adam
and take vengeance. But as she wandered, her body became weak with
hunger, cold, and exhaustion; for though she had once been mortal, all
knowledge of the frailty of a mortal body was long since forgotten.
Eventually, weakness claimed her, and she fell to the forest floor,
waiting for one of her fellow Demons to come and claim her life.

Death did not come to Arial, however; nor was her soul claimed by a
Demon. Instead, she was found by a hunter of the forest. In fact it
was Adam himself! He took her into his house, and nursed her alongside
his daughter.

For several weeks, Adam tended to Arial and his daughter by day, and
stood guard against Demons by night. Because he could not hunt during
this time, the other villagers saw to his household's needs. The
hunters brought meat, the farmers grain, and the tailor made clothes
for Arial.

As Arial healed, she found her thirst for power slowly sated. Which
each gift from a villager, her strength grew. The power she felt
flowing into her was the same that she had felt in Adam when she had
tried to take his soul. Each sacrifice a villager made for her filled
Arial with more power than a dozen stolen lives!

Soon, Arial was more powerful than she had ever been as a Demon, and
her immortality was restored. But she chose instead to live among
Adam's people as his housemaid, disguised as a mortal. For with each
act of kindness towards her, Arial's power waxed even greater.

Some time passed, and young boy in the village fell ill, and Arial
knew that a Demon would come to take his soul. Although her heart
was now filled with kindness and she wished to protect the village,
anger and revenge were not yet strangers to her, and she wished
vengeance on all those who preyed upon the weak, for she too had
fallen victim to the Demons because of her weakness.

That night the Demon did come, and Arial encountered it as it
approached the house where the boy lay. "Come no further, for these
mortals are under my protection!" she said. The Demon recognized her
as the former member of its order, and was angry that one so weak
would dare challenge it! The Demon, believing her to be mortal still,
prepared to steal Arial's life and soul.

Instead, Arial revealed herself as the powerful Goddess that she had
become! She held out her hand, and into it she summoned a great ball
of silver light, shining with a magical light that pierced also into
the immortal plane. The light blinded the Demon and burned its flesh,
and it fled back above the clouds to the Immortal realms.

The Goddess Arial followed after the Demon into the sky, carrying
aloft her silver globe. To this day she crosses the sky, chasing
Demons from the mortal plane back to their wretched halls above the
clouds. She is the protector of sick children and a guide to hunters
and those lost at night. Often she tires of her pursuit, and her
Light fades as darkness attempts to invade her heart. And thus it is
that each month, as her Light fades, we sacrifice meat, grain, and
cloth on her altars to renew her strength, and her Light burns bright
once again. And through her renewal we know that we must never doubt
the goodness in any soul; for if by mortal kindness a Demon can be
made a Goddess, so can any spirit be renewed.



Final Score: 44.5 out of 50

Raven's Comments:

This one gave me a little thrill when I got to the end -- very cool
myth, Andy, and I didn't see the "moon" bit coming at all.

Spelling and Technical were great, with only a couple of minor flaws. The
"storytelling" style of writing -- putting the tale into prose the way
someone might recite it around a campfire -- makes everything seem a bit
rushed, as is the case with most myths and fairy-tales. This story would
have been more dramatic, and more entertaining, if it had been done in a
full-blown modern fictional style. The potential is definitely there to
do a "novelization" of the myth, if you will; it would have been really
cool and inspiring to see Arial's attitudes toward humans gradually
transformed by the kindness and compassion of the villagers, to actually
watch as love turns her from a demon into a goddess. You could preserve
the "mythic" feel of it by doing little scenes at the beginning and end
with a village storyteller sitting in front of the fire, recounting the
tale to his enraptured audience; this would allow you to tie the events
of the myth back to the aspect of the natural world it is meant to
explain, as is the point of all good mythology.

In short, this was a good story, especially for what it is, but it could
have been a great one. And if you ever do decide to do a "novelization"
of this tale, please let me know, because I really want to see it!


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