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[The 'Tale of Adanel']

Some say the Disaster happened at the beginning of the history of our people, before any had yet died. The Voice had spoken to us, and we had listened. The Voice said: 'Ye are my children. I have sent you to dwell here. In time ye will inherit all this Earth, but first ye must be children and learn. Call on me and I shall hear; for I am watching over you.'

We understood the Voice in our hearts, though we had no words yet. Then the desire for words awoke in us, and we began to make them. But we were few, and the world was wide and strange. Though we greatly desired to understand, learning was difficult, and the making of words was slow.

In that time we called often and the Voice answered. But it seldom answered our questions, saying only: 'First seek to find the answer for yourselves. For ye will have joy in the finding, and so grow from childhood and become wise. Do not seek to leave childhood before your time.'

But we were in haste, and we desired to order things to our will; and the shapes of many things that we wished to make awoke in our minds. Therefore we spoke less and less to the Voice.

Then one appeared among us, in our own form visible, but greater and more beautiful; and he said that he had come out of pity. 'Ye should not have been left alone and uninstructed,' he said. 'The world is full of marvellous riches which knowledge can unlock. Ye could have food more abundant and more delicious than the poor things that ye now eat. Ye could have dwellings of ease, in which ye could keep light and shut out the night. Ye could be clad even as I.'

Then we looked and lo! he was clad in raiment that shone like silver and gold, and he had a crown on his head, and gems in his hair. 'If ye wish to be like me,' he said, 'I will teach you.' Then we took him as teacher.

He was less swift than we had hoped to teach us how to find, or to make for ourselves, the things that we desired, though he had awakened many desires in our hearts. But if any doubted or were impatient, he would bring and set before us all that we wished for. 'I am the Giver of Gifts,' he said; 'and the gifts shall never fail as long as ye trust me.'

Therefore we revered him, and we were enthralled by him; and we depended upon his gifts, fearing to return to a life without them that now seemed poor and hard. And we believed all that he taught. For we were eager to know about the world and its being: about the beasts and birds, and the plants that grew in the Earth; about our own making; and about the lights of heaven, and the countless stars, and the Dark in which they are set.

All that he taught seemed good, for he had great knowledge. But ever more and more he would speak of the Dark. 'Greatest of all is the Dark,' he said, 'for It has no bounds. I came out of the Dark, but I am Its master. For I have made Light. I made the Sun and the Moon and the countless stars. I will protect you from the Dark, which else would devour you.'

Then we spoke of the Voice. But his face became terrible; for he was angry. 'Fools!' he said. 'That was the Voice of the Dark. It wishes to keep you from me; for It is hungry for you.'

Then he went away, and we did not see him for a long time, and without his gifts we were poor. And there came a day when suddenly the Sun's light began to fail, until it was blotted out and a great shadow fell on the world; and all the beasts and birds were afraid. Then he came again, walking through the shadow like a bright fire.

We fell upon our faces. 'There are some among you who are still listening to the Voice of the Dark,' he said, 'and therefore It is drawing nearer. Choose now! Ye may have the Dark as Lord, or ye may have Me. But unless ye take Me for Lord and swear to serve Me, I shall depart and leave you; for I have other realms and dwelling places, and I do not need the Earth, nor you.'

Then in fear we spoke as he commanded, saying: 'Thou art the Lord; Thee only we will serve. The Voice we abjure and will not hearken to it again.'

'So be it!' he said. 'Now build Me a house upon a high place, and call it the House of the Lord. Thither I will come when I will. There ye shall call on Me and make your petitions to Me.'

And when we had built a great house, he came and stood before the high seat, and the house was lit as with fire. 'Now,' he said, 'come forth any who still listen to the Voice!'

There were some, but for fear they remained still and said naught. 'Then bow before Me and acknowledge Me!' he said. And all bowed to the ground before him, saying: 'Thou art the One Great, and we are Thine.'

Thereupon he went up as in a great flame and smoke, and we were scorched by the heat. But suddenly he was gone, and it was darker than night; and we fled from the House.

Ever after we went in great dread of the Dark; but he seldom appeared among us again in fair form, and he brought few gifts. If at great need we dared to go to the House and pray to him to help us, we heard his voice, and received his commands. But now he would always command us to do some deed, or to give him some gift, before he would listen to our prayer; and ever the deeds became worse, and the gifts harder to give up.

The first Voice we never heard again, save once. In the stillness of the night It spoke, saying: 'Ye have abjured Me, but ye remain Mine. I gave you life. Now it shall be shortened, and each of you in a little while shall come to Me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him.' Then our terror of the Dark was increased; for we believed at the Voice was of the Darkness behind the stars. And some of us began to die in horror and anguish, fearing to go out into the Dark. Then we called on our Master to save us from death, and he did not answer. But when we went to the House and all bowed down there, at last he came, great and majestic, but his face was cruel and proud.

'Now ye are Mine and must do My will,' he said. 'I do not trouble that some of you die and go to appease the hunger of the Dark; for otherwise there would soon be too many of you, crawling like lice on the Earth. But if ye do not do My will, ye will feel My anger, and ye will die sooner, for I will slay you.'

Thereafter we were grievously afflicted, by weariness, and hunger, and sickness; and the Earth and all things in it were turned against us. Fire and Water rebelled against us. The birds and beasts shunned us, or if they were strong they assailed us. Plants gave us poison; and we feared the shadows under trees.

Then we yearned for our life as it was before our Master came; and we hated him, but feared him no less than the Dark. And we did his bidding, and more than his bidding; for anything that we thought would please him, however evil, we did, in the hope that he would lighten our afflictions, and at the least would not slay us.

For most of us this was in vain. But to some he began to show favour: to the strongest and cruellest, and to those who went most often to the House. He gave gifts to them, and knowledge that they kept secret; and they became powerful and proud, and they enslaved us, so that we had no rest from labour amidst our afflictions.

Then there arose some among us who said openly in their despair: 'Now we know at last who lied, and who desired to devour us. Not the first Voice. It is the Master that we have taken who is the Darkness; and he did not come forth from it, as he said, but he dwells in it. We will serve him no longer! He is our Enemy.'

Then in fear lest he should hear them and punish us all, we slew them, if we could; and those that fled we hunted; and if any were caught, our masters, his friends, commanded that they should be taken to the House and there done to death by fire. That pleased him greatly, his friends said; and indeed for a while it seemed that our afflictions were lightened.

But it is told that there were a few that escaped us, and went away into far countries, fleeing from the shadow. Yet they did not escape from the anger of the Voice; for they had built the House and bowed down in it. And they came at last to the land's end and the shores of the impassable water; and behold!

the Enemy was there before them.