Once, long before the gods of races of men, there were races upon the seven worlds - the three great peoples from whom all but we came.
The Immortals, doomed never to grow old, and only to die of battle wounds, or of sadness and despair, whose gift among the peoples was to see each other’s souls. It was their fate to fade from the world, slowly to become insubstantial and to be taken by the winds to wherever their souls abide.
The undying, the race of Nari, doomed to never die but instead to age until their bodies became useless and their minds rotten, and then to continue until the end of days. It was their gift among the peoples to craft the earth and the land as they chose.
It is their fate that even grievously wounded, even when cut apart, they shall still live. Even with their ashes spread to the four corners of earth, should they ever come together in sufficient number, the undying shall live again. Their legend tells that in the isles to the west, there is magic that causes them to age backwards and thus begin their lives again, free of memory or care. Many seek such a place, and none return.
And the Undead - those of the Nari whose jealousy of the Immortals drove them to attempt to achieve, through death itself, immortality; that they may never grow old again. Their gift was to make others as they were.
It is their doom to never be whole, though they shall seek wholeness, for they are between the peoples. They shall never be one thing, nor the other, and it is to their sorrow - for they shall not fade, nor shall they grow old, but their hearts will grow weary and their souls shall fade, leaving but a shadow of what once was.
Now it so came that many years ago, a creature called 'Anathar' was born. Daughter to an Immortal mother and Nari father, she was doomed to the life of the Undead before she came into this world; with the invulnerability of her father and eternal youth of her mother. At first, this life contented her. But, after a time, as with all youths, she grew restless. And this restlessness did not pass - instead, it stayed, as countless centuries passed. Her father passed into the west, seeking the isle of his people, her mother to the east, seeking a place to slowly fade from life.
Anathar, as all Undead eventually do, became jealous of her mother, who should fade from this world and thus pass from existence, and of her father, who should forget all that had passed in his old age, and perhaps pass to youth again in the isles to the west. But unlike the Undead, she was born as she was, and thus only shared their doom, perhaps not their ultimate fate - Anathar also had the magic of her parents. And thus she took her gifts and used the powers of sight to see into herself. She saw, inside herself, the coming of men. It was not her fate, but something of their natures had been born before its time in herself. And within them, she saw death.
Taking the powers given for the Nari - the powers to forge the earth as they chose, she wove that part of herself that saw mortality into a stone, a clear, white stone. The stone became bright as she gave it a part of her soul, giving it life - her life, and that part of her that was Nari. It was named the lifestone. And then, she pressed the lifestone into living rock, and gave it that tiny part of her that might have been mortal, in another world. The rock took the stone in it's grasp, and with that it cracked many small cracks, and crumbled into a thousand pieces.
Anathar was greatly dismayed, believing all her work to have been destroyed - and thus, she dropped to her knees and wept. And the lifestone, buried in the rock itself, heard her. Wishing to comfort it's mistress it glowed so she might see it - and see it she did. She had thought it destroyed and such a thing gave her hope - so she dug into the rock to retrieve it. And found what she had made. The rock still held her lifestone - but the rock itself had made something. A foreboding sign of the mortals, the lifestone was grasped in the pommel of a mighty stone sword, forged of the mortal rock. Anathar took the sword, and as she held it in her hand, she felt death. The blade was named Lifetaker, and thus, Anathar went forth.
It was not long before Anathar found that the blade had great power. The Undead all wished to possess such a thing, though they knew not what it was, nor not what it did. Anathar killed many of them upon that mighty blade. Lifetaker cared not for Immortal, Nari or Undead - it took all, and freed their spirits from the house of their body with the lifestone. All who felt it's icy bite suffered the fate of the Immortals, fading to nothing on the eastern wind.
Such powerful objects do strange things, and Anathar herself found that the blade would not harm her as long as she possessed it. And thus, it was no good to her. So she went to her mother's kin - but they would have none of her, for their doom had been theirs alone, and they hated the Undead and the Nari for it was their dooms the Immortals feared most. They saw what Anathar had done as the worst thing any creature could do, and cursed her and her children.
And so, Anathar went to her father's kin - and they helped her, for what she offered them was a fate other than an eternal life of suffering, which all of their kin feared, and all must suffer. They agreed that when Anathar chose to die, they would aid her, in return for her giving death to all those who desired it - but only for Nari, for the Nari hated both the Immortals, whose fate they converted, and the Undead, who had been to weak to accept their own fate. Or perhaps, the Nari hated the Undead because they had been brave enough to seek what they feared to.
At this, the Immortals and Undead were disgusted, and they began to attack the Nari, cutting their heads from their bodies and burying them far apart so they might spend eternity thinking of what they had done. Both peoples fought the Nari for the Lifetaker, and Anathar was forced to fight, for all wished to take her blade from her and she was not yet ready.
And thus, over many centuries, the numbers of all the peoples dwindled. Many of the Nari and Undead lay buried in pieces unable to rise again to fight. And many of the immortals were slain, gone to their fate.
And so, Anathar called a treaty. For all her wishes to see others death had been taken with what might have been mortality, into Lifetaker. She spoke that the blade would kill no more in war – though there were cries to destroy it, she would not, still desiring her own death. And so, She fled to the caves in the deep of the earth, taking with her a small number of all the peoples. And there, Anathar bore three children, Anatari, who most resembled the Nari, Sharan, who most resembled the Immortals, and Kenetar, who was strange, belonging to none of the races. It was when Anathar desired death that the blade’s nature became strange – for though it would abide the touch of Anatari, it would not submit to her using it. She could kill none with the blade. It would not submit to Sharan’s touch, though through much pain, Sharan could wield it. It was Anathar's son who could take the sword, and without pain, use it - but the sword would not submit to use lightly. In return, it took from her son some part of his spirit, and he became the first mortal. Such was the dismay of Anathar that she sent her son away from her, into the world, and set the guarding of the sword to Anatari, and her daughters, and the wielding of the sword to Sharan and her sons. Then Sharan drove the Lifetaker into Anathar, and she was no more. It was in that moment that a strange thing happened - the ground itself shook, and stones from all around seemed to come from the earth to formed a wall. A wall with a sword shaped hole in it, just the size of the Lifetaker blade. So, seeing what the earth wished her to do, Anatari placed the blade into the wall. And then, as suddenly as the wall had come, a great plant sprang from it's base and grew round the stone, sealing the sword into the rock - and thereafter it would only recede to allow Anatari to remove it, and then her daughters after her, when she had been slain. In time, Lifetaker even allowed Anatari’s daughters to kill those who allowed it.
And so it was until the children of Kenetar married the sons and daughters of men – but that is another tale.
A work in progress... As with all my pictures.