The Adventures of Sel & Am

So I’m putting up this little serial story one piece at a time. You can find it here. I’ve always really envisioned it as a manga, but I can’t draw.

Seladion and Amaurodios, if you’re somewhat new to my blog, are Ninatat, which are akin to angels. They exist as part of my parageographic project AElit. You can read more about that in this old post. AElit is something I’ve developed over time and keep meaning to organize into . . . I don’t know, but something. My graduate thesis danced along the margins of it, and I may yet rewrite that and publish it.

Sel & Am, though, are two characters close to my heart, and while their stories are something of a side project at the moment, I hope in time others will come to love them as much as I do.

TBT: Seladion & Amaurodios

I’ve always wanted to write a graphic novel. In particular, a graphic novel in the manga style. I can picture my main characters so easily, but despite all my efforts (I even took classes in college), I cannot draw. And I’m not connected enough to find an illustrator. I fear Sel & Am will always be a fever dream of mine.

Seladion and Amaurodios (Sel & Am for short) are extracts from my days in parageography. I developed a world called AElit, and it had an involved theology and its own language as well. Sel & Am are Ninatat—akin to angels. Heaven in this world is called Argyros, and it’s made all of silver. So are Ninatat; the supreme god Tithendion carved them from the silver of Argyros, and then his son Durandios, responsible for all living things, gave them breath and life. But Seladion is vain and has contempt for life, so Durandios kicked him out of Argyros to go live in the world below. And Amaurodios—Durandios’ favorite—loves Seladion and begged Durandios to be allowed to go with him. So, much as it broke Durandios’ heart, he released Amaurodios into the world, too.

The Adventures of Sel & Am, as I think of them, are just that—their adventures in the world. They start in mythical AElit but then spread across time and the world. Eventually Seladion begins working for Durandios’ twin sister Telamenos as an agent (and angel) of death. Amaurodios can’t stomach that but also refuses to leave Sel’s side, so . . . Seladion will never love him. Sel only really loves himself. But Amaurodios keeps trying to save Sel all the same. He believes if Sel could learn to love, they might both be able to return to Argyros.

If you’re familiar with Anne Rice’s vampires, you could say that Sel = Lestat and Am = Louis. Seladion is still fair after his fall from grace, but Amaurodios was singed on the way down and now has black hair and wings. In AElitian lore, Seladion is associated with the full moon and Amaurodios with the new moon and/or eclipses.

I’d like to get back to writing their stories. Even without the pictures, I think they’d be good ones. Another project to add to my list! Below is the story of the downfall of Seladion and Amaurodios. Enjoy!

The burst of darkness disoriented him. Argyros was a bright place of shining silver and constant light that bounced off every surface to create a gray-white sky that never faded. But here, suddenly, was the nothingness that existed outside the sacred space.

He’d never been outside before.

The blue orb of the world floated below him. He was familiar with Durandios’ work, with the life on the planet, although he’d never before had any use for the animals that inhabited it. Well, he determined, he wouldn’t have use for them now either. They were the whole reason he was in trouble to begin with.

Just as he’d become accustomed to the chilling darkness, he felt the light and heat begin to increase rapidly. He gritted his teeth and prepared for what was sure to be a hard landing.

***

Long after the others had lost interest and turned away, gone back to their duties, Amaurodios still stood at the edge of Argyros.

“I don’t know what you’re hoping to see,” a voice behind him said.

Amaurodios didn’t even have to turn around to know who it was; he threw himself on his knees so quickly his forehead smacked hard against the slick silver ground. But because it was Argyros, there was no pain.

“Get up, Am,” said Durandios.

Am scrambled to his feet, flailing to keep his balance on the slippery foundation. It didn’t help that he seemed to be the one Ninata that lacked any kind of natural grace.

Keeping his head bowed so that the masses of his long, silver-white hair curtained his face, Amaurodios turned towards the Enduring. Durandios was the one colorful creature in all of Argyros, a flower in a crystal room. He wore a white cloak that was held on his left shoulder with a vivid red jewel, giving everything around him a rosy tint. He had skin the color of the human creatures he had given life to on the world below them, the world that Seladion now also occupied.

“Are you crying?” The question was not soft-spoken, but neither was it a rebuke. Perhaps surprise was the force behind the words.

Amaurodios looked up in confusion. “Crying?” he echoed.

But Durandios was nodding. “You are.” His expression was grim. “That kind of emotion cannot be tolerated in Argyros.”

Am still wasn’t entirely sure what Durandios meant, but he understood emotion. The Ninatat had access to a limited number of them. Love and joy were favorites, along with compassion and mercy. But Seladion had been cast out for harboring the kinds of feelings unsuitable in a Ninata. And now. . .

Another new emotion lit Amaurodios’ eyes. Fear. “Are you going to . . . ?”

Durandios shook his head. “No.” He sighed. “I wish you never had to know heartbreak, Am. Most of the others,” he gestured towards the center of Argyros, where the Ninatat spent their days praising Tithendion and Durandios and where a select few served special purposes, such as taking messages to the people of the world below, “will never know such a feeling. They will love forever without that love being taken from them. I wish it could be that way for you.”

Amaurodios knew that Durandios was incapable of lying. So he asked the question. “He can’t ever come back, can he?”

“He was tainted, Am. He was imperfect, flawed in some way.” Durandios’ green eyes darkened a shade, and he frowned. Such an unlovely sight on a god. The stone that clasped his cloak became the red-purple color of dark wine.

“Not was,” Amaurodios whispered. “You could fix him, couldn’t you?”

“You think I didn’t want to? Of course I did! I do! But that’s not for me to do. Tithendion made him; I only gave him breath.”

Amaurodios looked over his shoulder, out at the darkness beyond Argyros. A whole vast universe existed out there, none of it seemingly safe for orphaned Ninatat. “I want to go too.”

Without looking, Am sensed the complete stillness in the god that stood before him, a dangerous tension. There was a long exhalation of the precious breath Durandios provided to all living things.

“Amaurodios, look at me.”

Am slowly turned his head. Durandios could not kill him, it was not in his nature, but Amaurodios was frightened all the same.

Durandios placed his hands on Amaurodios’ shoulders and looked the Ninata in the eye.

“You haven’t thought this through,” the god said carefully.

“I want to be with Seladion. He needs me! He won’t know how to cope, being down there—”

Durandios chuckled. “Seladion has never needed anyone, and you know it. And how is it that you think you’ll be able to cope? No, Am, you’re much better off here. I promise you, the pain of his leaving won’t last forever.” He turned to go.

“I’m flawed too, aren’t I, now?” Amaurodios called as a parting shot.

Durandios whirled around as the Vital Spark began to darken to near black. “Amaurodios, do not test me.”

“But you said that this—this—whatever it is I’m feeling, it can’t be tolerated in Argyros.”

“You’ll get over it and everything will be fine,” Durandios replied tightly.

A couple of yards away, other Ninatat had begun to gather. It was no secret that Amaurodios was Durandios’ favorite, even if the god was not free to show such preference. The only being that seemed not to know this was Amaurodios.

“I don’t want to feel this way; I don’t like it,” Am said rather childishly.

“I know.” Durandios started towards the Ninata. “But it will pass.”

Amaurodios shook his head. “I don’t think it will.”

“It seems that way now, but—Am, what are you doing?”

The Ninata had turned back toward the wall of Argyros and was now exploring it with his long, thin hands, testing it for weakness. He pushed at it, willing it to break, but it was elastic, moving always to enclose him.

In three steps Durandios had reached him and pulled him back. “What are you doing?” he asked again, giving Am a shake. The watching Ninatat gasped softly; it sounded like a flock of pigeons cooing.

“Let me out!”

“No.”

As the hand on his shoulder tightened, Amaurodios slumped in defeat. “Please,” he said, “let me go.”

The grip on him relaxed, and suddenly all he knew was darkness.

AElit

AElit is the result of a semester of Parageography as an undergrad. For those without etymological leanings, “parageography” is the study of imaginary places. But as part of the course we were also required to create our own worlds. AElit is mine.

It might be easiest to start with the religion, since AElitian culture is based around it. Tithendion is the chief god, “He who sets things in their places.” Tithendion carved Argyros, the ninatat, and the world. However, none of these things were animate, and so He carved out a piece of Himself and named it Durandios, “The Enduring.” Durandios breathed life into all of creation. And while Tithendion is the greatest god and the most feared, Durandios is the most beloved.

Of course, with life comes the potential for death, and so when Durandios was created, his twin sister Telamenos was the byproduct. But because Tithendion did not wish for any of his creations to die, he imprisoned Telamenos in the center of a labyrinth that was guarded by a very large serpent. Alas, as is the way of these things, Andrasthenes, the first man of the world, had pity on her and released her.

The holy book of AElit is known as the Teuchos. I’ve included a sample of it below, first in transliterated AElitian, then in English.

d’Durandios, Teuchtia d’Teuchos
1. Tia, tramen Tithendion, bran senitpette bela
2. bak no stamen palva bak no sta’ayn palva
3. bak no divosmen noe tiya barmbos d’kan’nadadinal adno tana senitana ninana
4. bak noe divosmen d’atant, tae ayris ninatat d’barmbos d’kan’nadadinal
5. wrain ninatat kanayva wro no kansenidivosmen
6. bak no divosmen taebarna d’barna’aena d’nint no framen bak divodgamen AElit
7. bak no divosmen palsenit: starnt bak schlart bak ristat bak tynos bak tynara bak palsenitva
8. wrain senit kanayva wro no kansenidivosmen
9. bak Tithendion litaenoe kanadramen bak sl’menseni Durandios
10. bak Durandios va wro nostava
11. bak Tithendion nocrenmen, “divos palserit va, nie ninatat bak nie paltiya”
12. Durandios senidivosmen bak Tithendion nocrenmen, “adrava d’palbarna bak senit nidivosmen d’barna d’nint”
13. Durandios deptmen Argyros bak pardapettemen d’barna sl’menseni Amarantos wro onova kansenitriktmen
14. bak agda no pardapettemen verdana, senistamen verd’va bak agda no miknost’triktmen aymensenitgran
15. bak Durandios kanadramen palstarnt bak senitadramenva, bak palsenit va, bak tynos Andrasthenes bak tynara Kalothrixede

From Durandios, First Book of the Teuchos
1. In the beginning there was Tithendion, who sets all things in their places
2. And He always was and he always will be
3. And He created for himself a city of silver where he sits on his throne
4. And He created servants, great winged angels of silver
5. But the angels did not have life for He had not created it
6. And He made a great world from the dust of the universe that He caught and shaped into AElit
7. And He created all things: animals and plants and birds and man and woman and all things living
8. But these things did not have life because He had not created it
9. And Tithendion a piece of himself took and called it Durandios
10. and Durandios lives for he is Life
11. And Tithendion told him, “Make all things living, my angels and my city.”
12. Durandios did this and Tithendion told him, “Give life to all the land and the things I’ve made from the dust of the universe.”
13. Durandios left Argyros and set foot in the land that was called Amarantos because death had not touched it
14. And when he set foot on the grass, it became green with life and when he touched the trees they had fruit
15. And Durandios took the animals and gave them life, and all things life, and the man Andrasthenes and the woman Kalothrixede

And here is a common prayer to Durandios:

Lalem d’Durandios

Aiae, Durandios! bran adrava bak netka palva noye edma bran kanadrava bak d’senit ninoyt farna, seni’adra, kardi. Adra Tithendion, bran senitpette bela, ninoyte kavet bak lalemt marna ninoyt ba’adra marn’noy. Adrava ninoyt bak ninoyte mahtit bak venakht mar ninoyt kanal bak ninoyt noyadra ninoyte lalemt bak laba’adrat.

Prayer to Durandios

O, Durandios! who brings life and battles endlessly your sister who takes life and the things we work for, grant us this, another day. Take before Tithendion, who sets all things in their places, our thanks and supplications that He might bless us through you. Give us life and also to our flocks and crops that we may not want and will in turn give you our prayers and offerings.

As a rule, you see, Durandios is considered far more sympathetic than Tithendion because Durandios walks among the people of the world and Tithendion never comes down from Argyros.

The ninatat, meanwhile, are angelic sorts of creatures. Arista is Durandios’ personal servant and the only ninatat with a female aspect. She is known to be severe but fair, a sort of figure of justice. The two other best-known ninatat are Seladion and Amaurodios. Seladion, who is associated with brilliance and the full moon, was cast out of Argyros for being vain and lacking respect for humanity. Durandios punished Seladion by sending him to live with the very creatures for whom he had such contempt. Amaurodios, meanwhile, is associated with twilight and, in later texts, the new moon. He has great compassion for the people of the world and was considered Durandios’ favorite. But Amaurodios loved Seladion, even though Seladion spurned him, and when Durandios cast Seladion out, Amaurodios begged to be sent with him. Though it broke Durandios’ heart, he granted Amaurodios’ wish.

There are a lot of tales and legends about Seladion and Amaurodios, their adventures in AElit and the world, too many to include here.

AElit itself is a small island, the eastern side of which is pastoral, though there is a forested northeastern peninsula which is traditionally the home of Moka’Durand, Durandios’ worldly home. Shrines line the edge of the forest and pilgrimages are frequent. The center of the island has a sort of grassy plain leading to a mountain range known as the Taemaenat D’robe. This range cuts the western third of the island more or less completely off from the rest, and that part of the island is known as D’robe (meaning, literally, “of rock”) because it is harsh terrain, very little of which is suitable for farming or livestock. The majority of D’robeans get by on fishing.

There is not much contact between AElit (which is what the eastern side of the island is called, as well as the island as a whole; this can be somewhat confusing) and D’robe. This is because D’robe was primarily settled by dissidents who began a civil war against the rule of the AElitian priests. They lost and were driven by the AElitian forces over the mountains where they resettled. Some of the differences in their lives and ways of thinking can be illustrated by the various proverbs common in each society:

AElitian Proverbs

belaver kantra mahtongat
“In green places there are no goats.”
This seems to be similar to the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” That is, AElitians prize their goats quite highly, so to say that a place is green (pleasant) is also to say it is not necessarily better because there are no goats.

palva kandi parsk dinal
“It is always dark until the sun.”
This might parallel the saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

taeleinos marl batorl
“Distance makes it worth the walk.”
In other words, the journey is just as important a lesson as the actual getting there. Then again this might mean, “It’s worth having to go if it means getting away from you or this place.”

kanag belaleinos par kan’nadadinalaenat
“Do not hope to get there by starlight.”
This seems to mean that a person might be deluded about something, hoping for something not likely to happen. Used as a warning against impracticality.

tae’taenokt, kardivodilet
“To reach far is to touch more.”
Used to encourage achievement or excuse ambition.

D’robean Proverbs

noy kanfra begga barna d’roba
“You can’t catch fish on rocky soil.”
This seems to be akin to, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

palva kandi parsk dinal
“It is always dark until the sun.”
Evidence of the D’robean link to the AElitians.

kan taemaena ad, noy marl karleino
“If not this mountain, you’ll have to cross another.”
This may be a clear reference to the exile and exodus of the D’robean people from AElit proper, but it has come to mean that there will always be obstacles in life.

kantynos kartynos
“No man is more than a man.”
In other words, “He’s not so great.” (Commonly used when referring to Durandios or the High Priests of AElit.)

What D’robe does seem to have that AElit does not is literature. Or, more specifically, they have plays, fragments of which have been found and translated (note the original author did not include any kind of stage direction):

from The Tragedy of Tantos, First Prince of Tiyafarg

Fragment 1

[TANTOS?]
Oh, that the rain should fall on this
face that until late was so gifted by the sun!
Fate and sister Fortune: what, have you
conspired against me?
No, away sirs, would you keep hold
that winning hand! I am not a one
to pick the pockets of Dame Fortune.
I make my own deck and play
only from that!

GYPSA
Oh, if there be a Heaven as so the AElitians claim,
or indeed any hope of a compassionate god,
let him show himself now! Surely a one
so wholesome as this my prince is fated
for better things?

NID
Hold back your tears, I will myself
restore him.

TANTOS
No, sir! There is no hope of aid
from Heaven, and I will not of you!
Aback! Else I’ll have your soul on my spear!

NID
I will not touch blood with you, my lord.

TANTOS
Then I’ll touch yours and leave mine to its run!

Fragment 2

GYPSA
Oh, my brother! Who will weep for you
if I do not?

TANTOS
Oh most horrible day that sees
slaughter between such friends!
I will exact a price for this
in blood!

GYPSA
What, would you darken this day
of my brother’s death even more?

TANTOS
I will mask the very sun in blood!

Fragment 3

GYPSA
Oh, I would that my eyes had been
plucked from their place e’er I saw this day!

PORPHYS
All of Tiyafarg is in wonderment
of what happened at the fair today.

GYPSA
Then tell them Porphys that this
is no fair day but a black day indeed,
wherein their prince has died
at his own hand, unable to bear the grieved loss
of his most dear friend who did fall
to the prince’s own blade. And I myself
[breaks off]

from The Tragedy of Myteon, Second Prince of Tiyafarg

Fragment 1

MYTEON
My people are starving and you
would have me leave them?

TARTON
My lord, their upset may
prompt them to revolt against you.

MYTEON
My leaving would be
a revolt against myself. Of the two,
it is harder to live with one heart that hates itself
than one hundred directed from elsewhere.
If I were a devout, I might pray.

TARTON
If you were a devout, my lord, you
would not be here but on the other side
of the mountains where food is plenty.

MYTEON
Ah, but then I would not be a prince. And
better a prince to unrest than slave
to an uncompassionate god.

TARTON
Is their god so uncompassionate? See
how they
[breaks off]

from The Tragedy of Stelerokon, Third Prince of Tiyafarg

Fragment 1

GIBA
Why if birds did bloom, we could
pluck them for our supper.

JONNA
Do we not already?

GIBA
It would be easier to pluck a cluck
from the ground than the air.
Is it not so?

JONNA
I would say this foul play
doubtless heralds a dooming day.

GIBA
And I should say you say right,
for look, here comes the prince.
Soho, Prince Stelerokon! Are you here
to fetch a foul?

STELEROKON
Of a sort, sir, I am here to
catch a thief. I would not
put the two of you behind me.

JONNA
It might be just as well you didn’t, sir,
for I fear we would not both fit.

STELEROKON
Enough of you, joker! Be gone and put
your wits to better use. But you, come listen,
for I would have news of my brother’s doings.

GIBA
Aye, my lord. And so I trade
one fowl for another!
I will pluck him til he has
no feathers to hide behind!

STELEROKON
You do me a service, sir, that I will heartily repay.
Now go! And speak this to no one!

GIBA
Aye, my lord!

STELEROKON
Could it be that this day my brother Salarimus
plans to steal my birthright? But how?
Oh, I would
[breaks off]

Fragment 2

[STELEROKON?]
that you would take from me crown
and kin?

SALARIMUS
Oh, but your rash wrath has killed me, brother,
for I never intended you harm!

LADANIA
Oh, my son! But Stelerokon, what thing
has happened here that washes the court
red with blood?

STELEROKON
There are not enough tears in Tiyafarg
to cleanse my soul! For today
I have slain my brother without cause!

AElit, on the other hand, seems only to produce hymns, prayers, and other theological texts, though they do also have a rich mythology, based also on their extensive belief system.

Being a pastoral society, animals have key significance to the AElitians. The kornyx is a fine example. This is a large blackbird (sometimes found in flocks) said to bring on night, sleep, or oblivion in general. The kornyx is considered a sort of familiar to Telamenos and therefore looked upon with a measure of fear, or at the very least suspicion. In some stories the kornyx is itself Telamenos in disguise. It probably doesn’t help its reputation that the kornyx is a carrion scavenger.

Finally, there is Teladion. He is the son of Telamenos, and in some stories also the son of Durandios, having been tricked by his sister into producing him. Teladion haunts the higher realms, waiting to be born. He will have the power to destroy the world or save it, though no one can say what he might do.