The northerly island of Chall Bogen had been an enigma to the peoples of Taraharmonia during the First and Second Great Ages.
In the foundling years when the sorcerer Tyra burst in flame and took to the heavens, the only response from the island was the acceptance of the aurelent rays that pulsated from Tyra's orb.
The years of the infamous tyranny of the Ehandrovians left Chall Bogen the only station that was not under the belt of those greedy, belligerent imperialists.
It is a long lasting mystery why this mountainous island so strategically placed to the northeast of Negh Dorr, in the Dhardee Sea, had been virtually ignored through the eons. The Ehandrovian Empire would have been greatly enhanced by a military post upon Chall Bogen. The rebel movement would have been held in check. Nimegen, the legendary Hasseinien, would never have been able to rally support for his cause had the Ehandrovians been on Chall Bogen. The Swarthy Empire might still have reigned.
For the longest time it was assumed that the island was uninhabited. It wasn't until the rise of the Venturians, the neo-Ehandrovians, that people from Taraharmonia first learned of the existence of a native Bogenian tribe. But this discovery belongs to another age and another tale.
There is one story that remains from the Second Age that deals with Chall Bogen. The Second Age was the time when the Ehandrovians held empire over all the vast lands of Taraharmonia. This tale whose authenticity has been questioned by modern skeptics centers on a vagabond Hendor wraith that figures strongly in the lore and myths of Hendorun. This wraith was called Chakka-Ri which translated from the Hendor tongue roughly means Storm Rider.
There are many stories concerning Chakka-Ri whom the Hendor tribes believed to be originally a mortal who belonged to one of the early peoples of Hendorun. Fakaria was a great Hendor hunter who became estranged from the rest of his tribe during one of the most violent storms that ever riddled Taraharmonia. After the tempest had subsided, Fakaria's tribemates searched frantically and fruitlessly for him. They called off the search when it became imperative that they returned to the hunt of the noble mallob if they were to survive the following winter. They had lost the trail of these great beasts.
When a storm was impinging, it was customary for the Hendors to seek shelter. However the mighty antlered mallob were of a hardier stock than the Hendors. These magnificent creatures would continue their migration through the storm until they found a wooded copse for shelter once they were satisfied that they had created sufficient distance between themselves and their pursuers. Now, copses were plentiful across the Hendorian prairies. They provided the mallob an asylum from the icy rains and the torrential winds. These wooded regions also hid the great herd from the ever-preying eyes of the Hendor hunters.
The rains would frequently wash away the mallob's hoven tracks leaving the hunters at a loss in trying to figure where the antlered creatures went. It often took many days before the Hendors would regain the trail.
When the tribe resumed the hunt after their futile attempts to find Fakaria, they were unable to locate the mallob's path. The Hendor chief, Stoor, was in the throes of frustration. That night, as the tribesmen huddled about a meagre campfire that did little to allay the incessant poking fingers of the cold, a voice was heard. It didn't come from any particular direction but it seemed to come from everywhere at once. The resonance of the voice was a mutated version of the estranged hunter Fakaria. The voice told the tribe exactly where the mallob layed hidden.
The following day Stoor led his hunters to the mallob which were precisely where the voice had told them they would be. It came as no surprise to the Hendors. They always placed their trust in the supernatural. Ghosts had always been a part of the Hendor ethos. They named this new ghost that spoke to them Chakka-Ri, Storm Rider. It was widely assumed that Chakka-Ri was the disembodied spirit of the departed Fakaria.
Many years had passed since Chakka-Ri first visited upon the Hendors. Generation after generation continued the mallob hunt. Each time there was a storm, Chakka-Ri would guide them to the beasts in much the same way as the wraith had aided Stoor that first time.
Then came a time which remains to this day bitter to the taste of the men of Hendorun. The swarthy people from the south, the Ehandrovians, began expanding their empire. The Ehandrovian menace swept over the Hendorian plains. Much of the traditional Hendor lifestyle had been disrupted although the tribesmen still tried to continue the hunt. After a particularly ravaging storm, the Hendors became demoralized. The wraith Chakka-Ri was not there for guidance. Overwhelmingly saddened, the Hendors believed that their ghost had been destroyed by the evil spirits that accompanied the Ehandrovians.
Thirty years slowly drifted by in which the oppressed Hendors had only paltry results to show for their hunt. Then in the midst of a furious storm that warred against the plains forcing the tribesmen into a wooded glen for safety, their wraith reappeared. The Hendors rejoiced with hoot and song. Chakka-Ri led the hunters to the mallob and the kill was bountiful.
Yet curiosity had edged in upon the tribesmen's collective thought. What had happened to Chakka-Ri during those years of absence? Why didn't he help them for over a generation?
The evening of the next day Eorna, wife of one of Stoor's long line of descendants who was also named Stoor, decided to take it upon herself to ask the wraith directly about his disappearance. Against the angst of the others who feared that she may raise the wraith's wrath, Eorna began an ancient Hendor incantation designed to summon the spirits of the netherworld. Soon Storm Rider's voice enveloped her.
Eorna was very adept at the powers of persuasion and enchantment but Chakka-Ri presented a very formidable challenge to these powers. She continually pleaded and implored the ghost to tell his story of the missing years.
Finally Chakka-Ri succumbed to Eorna's coercive powers. He told her in abundant detail all that had happened to him during his thirty year absence from the Hendors.
This is that account which Chakka-Ri had given Eorna. In consideration of length, this tale has been abridged.
II. THE NEST
When the hordes from Ehandrovent first arrived upon the steppes of Hendorun, Chakka-Ri believed that the tribes would unite and drive back the swarthy infidel. Back, out of the hallowed prairies, back to their accursed homeland. But to his everlasting misery, this did not happen. The throng of Ehandrovian warriors ran amuk through Hendorun leaving the Hendor tribes little more than an assemblage of ragtag, simpering buffoons. The legendary, patriotic resistance that Chakka-Ri had envisioned did not materialize. Before too long, the swarthies held dominion over Hendorun.
Chakka-Ri was in the grips of tremendous and overbearing grief. The descendants of Stoor and the other fabulous hunters of his mortal days were not worthy of being called Hendor hunters for he thought them weak and cowardly. His grief evolved into shame.
This shame ran so deep and was so forged into his mental set that Chakka-Ri's only course of action was to forsake the tribe that had succored him during his mortal days as Fakaria. He gave up on Hendorun and gave up on all humanity. He decided to go where no humans were. He decided to go to Chall Bogen.
He permitted the ever-present and ever-prevailing spiritual winds and torrents to pluck him up and blow him across the geographies of Taraharmonia. His invisible wispy figure floated with the breeze. All below him he saw evidence of the widespread Ehandrovian aggression. There was virtually no habitable topography that didn't bear testimony to the belligerent swarthies' presence. He drifted over the eerie, gloomy, moody Goll, the unimaginable Ugos River which defied all notions of common sense, the flooded nation of Negh Dorr where once a thriving people now lay quietly entombed under a silent surf. Soon the wraith was wisking over the azure waters of the Dhardee Sea.
In the distance there loomed the forlorn vision of towering jutting rock etched out of the waters. The lavender outline was separated from the royal blue sea by a hoary, milky band. Chall Bogen! As he neared, the hazy veil lifted. The white variegation focused to expose lanky chalk cliffs.
Without any instigation, the spiritual winds became feverish. They hurled the wraith's shapeless form directly against the chalk spires. His essence was shattered and fragmented into billions of microscopic iota. He had exploded into his sub-atomic constitution. Each particle drifted haphazardly over the relative quiet of the chalk downs and eventually became a mishmash of what was once Chakka-Ri, Storm Rider.
Within each atom there remained the essence of the ghost. But the executive command, the consciousness, was so widely dispersed before the peaks that it was rendered null and void. The mishmash of particles could not reassembe themselves into a functioning, coherent whole.
Millions of almost imperceptible electric charges flashed intermittentingly before the chalk cliffs. Each microscopic explosion left a small trail of orange smoke. Occasionally, several charges would go off in concert producing a brighter flash and a larger cloud of smoke. This was all that the wraith had become.
However, time never ceases and years went by. Each sparkling iota continued vibrating with the sense of incompleteness. The air at the fore of the chalk spires of Chall Bogen remained stagnant by some quirk of nature. The resultant orange smoke from the explosions had no place to go. It remained before the cliffs. After many years, a gigantic cloud of orange mist partially concealed the southeast coast of Chall Bogen. Within this mist could be discerned intermittent fiery flashes which made the cloud appear to be vibrating with life.
Eventually this electric cloud caught the attention of the Aels. In their designs of Taraharmonia, none of the masters of creation could recall placing such a phenomenum into the natural forces of the world. Great puzzlement ensued among the makers. The mighty Aels decided to investigate the orange misty cliffs of Chall Bogen.
At first they could not come up with a satisfactory explanation for the charged ionic atmosphere lying before the chalk cliffs. But upon listening more closely, they distinctly heard within the fiery explosions millions of tiny, silent voices screaming. Each voice was uttering something different from what the other voices were crying. Taken as a whole, it was unintelligible cacophony. Yet there somehow seemed to be a unison, a harmony within the wee cries.
With the wisdom that can only belong to the Aels, the great creators and fashioners reconnoitred what was happening here. And with the powers that can only be inherent to the Aels, they reassembled the diverse particles into a coherent, functioning whole, the Hendor wraith Chakka-Ri. Without waiting for the ghost's gratitude, the Aels transcended into the chaotic vastness where they alone dwell. Divine intervention does not require thanks.
Chakka-Ri's consciousness came back groggingly but soon his wits were back to where they were before this terrible ordeal. Of his recent tribulation, all that he was able to recall was that a long period of time had elapsed. He was at a loss to explain what had transpired during this time. He refused to think about it, leaving it an enigma in his mind to be faced at some future time.
Storm Rider lazily drifted up over the peaks that curtained the interior of Chall Bogen. There, before him, was a grand valley which was ideal for the hermitage that he sought. He still bore the great shame for the Hendors.
The interior of Chall Bogen that lay beyond the mountains that rimmed the island was comprised of a network of drumlins and valleys which harboured many forms of bracken and copse. The animal life was remarkable and plentiful. All were diminutive in stature, none coming near the size of the beasts that roamed his native Hendorun. The creatures here were of a gentle nature each engagingly involved in comical mischievious behaviours.
Here, the wraith could frolic and at the same time study the creatures. Perhaps, he had thought, he would be able to delve into deeper layers of understanding of the natural order of the system known as life. This notion overjoyed Chakka-Ri.
The wraith began the long descent from the clouds that nestled the alpestrine perimeter of Chall Bogen. The air grew warmer which increased the newfound vitality within his shadowy, invisible form. Soon, he hovered just a few feet above the island floor. From this low elevation he drifted aimlessly across the heather below taking time to observe and study what ever life he came upon.
Here and there, there were scattered many forms of fauna that had hitherto been unknown and unnamed. Chakka-Ri resolved that he would create a taxonomy of all these wonderful, delightful creatures. The wraith took great pleasure in the improvisation of names for these joyous creatures of Chall Bogen.
He fancied that perhaps one day his grudge against humanity might subside and if that occured, he would return with a library full of novel knowledge about the island including a brilliant catalogue of plants and animals that dwell in the forbidden world of Chall Bogen. Deep inside, Chakka-Ri, there still was to be found the remnants of Fakaria, a man, a Hendor. Chakka-Ri could never really leave the world of man.
A furry, rainbow-coloured, bipedal animal with a tail six times the length of its body, Chakka-Ri called jimbo. A creature whose body splayed in half from the nape with each half possessing four limbs, he named dakradi or twin bodies.
There was a wealth of many strange, freakish animals upon the island which did not have any counterpart on Taraharmonia. Of those that did, they had vastly altered their shape over the eons of time that had passed since the island became separated from the mainland.
What struck Chakka-Ri the most was the almost perfect harmony in which Chall Bogen's children lived. No creature dominated the island in the way that man or the furanga mastered Hendorun. Here, the animals lived with an accordance of respect for the others whom they shared the island. It was like a melody of life, a richly engrossing rhapsody.
Many days had passed.
One afternoon while Chakka-Ri was peacefully resting from a particularly hectic morning of copious note-making for his taxonomy, three colossal silhouettes slipped over the twins suns of Tyra and Villa. The wraith was quick to take notice.
Never before had he seen winged creatures of such magnitude and magnificence. He felt unmitigated awe for the tremense size and spectacular grace of these mysterious creatures.
The three giant shadows sailed leisurely across the heavens, spanning all of the distance between the peripheral mountains that bounded Chall Bogen into an isolated paradise. Chakka-Ri was astounded by the wingspan of these creatures. With each wing fully extended these flighted majesties were each at least twenty-fold the length of a man. Such terrible magnificence in flight the wraith never before beheld.
In his mind Chakka-Ri thought of his taxonomy and where he would place these flying wizards. The name chryberd struck him. He would call them chryberds. This name when translated from the Hendori language meant Rulers of the Heavens.
For about an hour the wraith watched the chryberds dance upon the sunlit skies. Then, without any sign of provocation, the chryberds tucked their great wings into their sides and began plummeting like javelins directly toward the suddenly shocked Chakka-Ri. It was as if these creatures were able to see the invisible wraith. But that was impossible. Storm Rider was veiled to all mortal creatures.
The chryberds swooshed within inches of the startled wraith. As the last one soared by, it squawked in a language that Chakka-Ri somehow was able to understand even though he failed to register exactly what was said.
The Rulers of the Heavens were now in almost a vertical ascent. Up, they climbed until they were at an altitude almost twice the height of the mountains. There, they circled the entire periphery of the island.
From ground level, Chakka-Ri could hear the distant screeching of these great birds. He could faintly make out that the chryberds were intent on driving him off the island. How could they even know of his presence? A wraith could only reveal himself through his own volition such as when he spoke to Stoor and generations of Hendor hunters.
The three chryberds once again plunged through the heavens. Chakka-Ri decided that he had better take cover so as to protect himself. However impossible it seemed, these creatures could see him. He lowered himself into the enveloping ground and from this vantage he fearfully watched the soaring giants.
All three swooped within feet of him. The first two continued their trajectory and arced back up into the sky. The third chryberd landed upon the soil which Chakka-Ri's spirit possessed.
The chryberd hopped about the earth taking great measures to ensure that its daggerish talons stabbed deep within the soil. One claw knicked the wraith and he winced in pain. That was impossible! To be safe the wraith slipped deeper into the ground.
The impossibility of the situation countermanded the wraith's sensibilities. But soon Chakka-Ri was outraged at what was happening. He was a wraith and ergo not at the mercy of the malice of a mortal being.
Feeling undaunted, Chakka-Ri slowly but assuredly sifted through the soil until he was above ground. There, he confronted the chryberd which was watching him all along with fierce eyes that could pierce and splinter the soul.
Wraith and chryberd stared at each other in anxious silence. It was the chryberd that broke the gloomy quiet.
"Unnatural thing! Be gone from the island!"
Never before had Chakka-Ri encountered a speaking animal. No matter what else, the chryberd was an animal, the wraith reassured himself.
Once again the chryberd squawked, "Unnatural thing! Be gone from the island!"
It jabbed its head into the wraith's essence. Its monstrous beak rented a hole into Chakka-Ri's unworldly body. The wraith was frought with pain and shrill amazement. A mortal creature had injured his immortal being. Almost immediately, a plethora of minute electric flashes were winking within the wraith's wound.
Infuriated, Chakka-Ri attacked the chryberd in hopes of retaliation. But his attempt was utterly futile. His wraith form carried nothing substantial in which he could employ for a blow.
Frantically, the wraith grasped at a rock which lay beneath him. But he was unable to manipulate the stone whatsoever, let alone use it as a weapon. Substance could only make substance mobile and Chakka-Ri was without substance. He stood helpless awaiting the chryberd's next charge.
"Unnatural thing begone!" The chryberd flung its powerful head into the wraith, tearing away more of his essence. There was more popping of microscopic sparkles. The sense of horror pentetrated all through Chakka-Ri. He tried to writhe back into the ground but the chryberd's beak caught hold of him and prevented his escape. He was pulled like a worm from the embe dding soil.
Seconds later the other two chryberds had descended from the sky. The three winged creatures began fraying at the formless shape of the wraith. Soon, there was no essence left to Chakka-Ri. His entire self had been translated into billions of tiny iota that flashed randomly above the Chall Bogen valley.
The three chryberds took wing and flew away over the ridges and mountain peaks. They disappeared as suddenly and dramatically as they had appeared.
Many years had passed before the sacred Aels once again noticed the ethereal orange mist with its fiery electrical charges above the valley of Chall Bogen. They immediately knew the source of the unnatural phenomenum. Only the Ael Don transcended the dimensions to transform the flickering particles back into the ghost.
Fakaria cum Chakka-Ri for a third time was a whole wraith again. When his senses returned, he perceived an auric globe before him which was spitting out concentric violet rays from its centre. The golden globe spoke. It was not an audible voice that mortals could hear but it was immediately understandable to the spirit, Chakka-Ri. The voice said, "I am the Ael Don."
The Ael told the awe-stricken wraith about the miracle that had twice returned consciousness and wholeness to the Hendor specter. Chakka-Ri listened intently and understood, but he had a question for the Ael.
"What are those winged creatures that I called chryberds?"
The Ael answered, "The Fi-Furah-Rane are the guardians of all souls that are not human. These deities are of two worlds, the mortal and the transcendental. Their province is to safeguard the creatures and beasts from the evils and ignorances that men bestow so unthinkably upon them.
"Long ago all of Taraharmonia was under their dominion. Under their splenditude, all creatures including humans lived in a timeless, fruitful co-existence. There were no interspecies hostilities. But man, being of a special stock, evolved a sense of time. With this came the concepts of planning and ordering their world. They rose astronomically above the other beasts. They forged tools which more often than not they wielded against their fellow creatures.
"The Fi-Furah-Rane were outraged and were about to intervene. But they were stopped by the pleas of the wraiths from the lower-order spirit world. These wraithes had developed a fondness for the craftiness of humanity. They made a bargain with the Fi-Furah-Rane. In this pact, the wraiths promised to guide the efforts of man, assuring that no unbounded aggression would be taken against the animals. The Fi-Furah-Rane insisted that there should be certain pockets in the world where the sphere of influence of man would not be felt. In fact, they demanded the outright banishment of humans from these places. Chall Bogen is such a place.
"Needless to say, this pact was breeched. Some wraiths grew careless while others had a great deal of avarice within them. Humans grew more and more powerful unti soon they were unmanageable to those benign wraiths whom still honoured the pact with the Fi-Furah-Rane.
"Seeing the shambles of the pact, the Fi-Furah-Rane decided to seek revenge. Until that time all animals were docile and would not attack humans. But the chryberds, as you call them, made certain species grow terrible and powerful. These creatures would feed upon man. Other species they gave swiftness, cunning and great numbers so that the humans would not be able to obliterate them from Taraharmonia. This is where the present condition of Taraharmonia now stands.
"But on Chall Bogen where man is forbidden, there is a different face to nature. Here, the creatures live life to the very essence of animalhood. There is joy and playfulness among the creatures here that could never be found in the distraught animals of the mainland.
"When you first came to the island, you trespassed into the dominion of the Fi-Furah-Rane. You are still the essence of man although you may be draped in the veils of a wraith. With you came the character of man. You sought to make order of what you saw. But the order here is beyond your comprehension. The order here is only understandable to the chryberds as you call them.
"When the Fi-Furah-Rane became aware of your presence here in their sanctuary, they immediately took action to drive you out. In their fierce animalism, they destroyed you when you refused to go.
"I suggest that you return to the world of man and guide them benignly with this new wisdom that you have now acquired." The golden globe's violet rays ceased and then the orb melted into invisibility.
Chakka-Ri left Chall Bogen and returned to Hendorun. To show the Hendors that he had come back, he led them to the mallob and warning them not to take more than they absolutely needed. The Hendors rejoiced the return of their patron wraith but failed to heed his warning. They killed many mallob.
But after Eorna summoned Chakka-Ri and heard the wraith's tale of Chall Bogen, the Hendor hunters became delicately tuned to the survival needs of the great mallob herds. They insisted that Chakka-Ri should no longer tell them where the mallob went after storms. They would try to find them on their own and if they didn't find one singled antlered beast, so be it.
Chakka-Ri, who was not going to help the Hendors in the hunt any more anyways, was delighted in the thoughtfulness of his former people. They were something that he could take pride in and not feel any shame for.
But this was not the last of Chakka-Ri's interventions with humanity. He had many other adventures and tales before he ceased his human consciousness and became wholly and solely a member of the spirit world.