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Sunderland College [2.B – Patches For Gods]

PATCHES FOR GODS: FOLKLORE FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Axis Gascoine

Published 1998

 

This book is dedicated to my late wife, who knew most of these stories off by heart and inspired me to collate them. All her favourites are here.

 

Foreword

 

As long as Patches have existed, Battle Clothing has become a cultural icon across the world. Like any cultural icon, stories arise in every culture that focus on the limits of Battle Clothing, the weaknesses of man, and the lessons that history can teach us. With each story comes a new protagonist, who must overcome the challenges they face; often the problems they face are the problems that we still face today, and as such there can be a lot to learn.

I travelled around to many different countries to meet the storytellers who presented these stories. I spent time in rural provinces, distant springs, modern societies and everything in between. Everywhere was different, but the one thing that connected us all was the love of a story. The moment someone begins to speak with the cadence of a narrator, there is a silence that falls over the onlookers that is the same the world over.

I would like to thank everybody who helped me with this book, including all of the storytellers that I met and listened to. I would also like to thank my fellow historians, Raoul Serenson and Mina Armitage, for helping me research the historical and cultural backgrounds to several of these works. Thank you to Desdemona Maresh for her help in translating some of the stories of her cultural background. Finally, thank you to my wife, my editor, and everyone else who helped make this book into a reality. You know who you are.

If I were to ask the people who told me these stories whether they were true, the answer would be “Of course”. For that is the nature of folklore.

 

Rauna-Sif and the Descending Sun

This story is an Egyptian folktale which has been in circulation for over a thousand years. It was told to me by Fima Chione, the great-grandma of a friend I have in Egypt. She claimed that she first heard the story from her grandmother, who heard it from her mother, and so on. It concerns one of the three Gods’ Regalia of Egypt, specifically, Ra’s Toga.

 

In the old days of Egypt, when faithful Nile overflowed with crops and blessed Ra would light the sky in fire, the Second Pharaoh overlooked his kingdom with a peacefulness that the country had not known in many moons. As he looked, however, the Second Pharaoh, Hor-Aha, was dissatisfied.

“I am but a king.” he said. “Daughter, am I king of all I see?”

Bithiah, daughter of Hor-Aha the Second Pharaoh, would nod with dutifulness whenever this was asked of her. “Indeed, father, you are king of all you see.”

“Why, then,” Hor-Aha would ask. “Do the people worship figures above me? The gods?”

The Second Pharaoh was dissatisfied that the thankful people were praising Ra for his bountiful sunlight. He looked up, at the orb of sunlight gently rolling across the sky, and said for all his people to hear, “Listen, Ra, I am above you! I am king of all I see, and I want the skies and heavens for myself and my people.”

Blessed Ra, praise him for his bountiful sunlight, heard this pharaoh’s blasphemous silliness, and decided to teach him a lesson. He descended and removed his toga, given as a gift many years before, and handed it to the Second Pharaoh, Hor-Aha.

“Listen well,” spake he. “If you are above me, then I shall take my rightful position below you. But know this, Hor-Aha. Only he who is worthy of creating the fire in the heavens above shall be able to bring back the day.”

And so Ra descended, vanishing into the emptiness of the earth below, and plunging the people into an endless darkness. With confidence, Hor-Aha put on Ra’s Toga and tried to use its power. However he tried, he could not create the sunlight.

For twelve days and twelve nights, an unending night would sweep over the people. They began to hate and fear Hor-Aha, who was unworthy of wearing Ra’s Toga, and had caused Ra to abandon his duties.

Bithiah, daughter of the Second Pharaoh, would walk to the temple of Ra whenever she woke and pray for many hours, giving gifts as she saw fit. However, none of it would raise blessed Ra from his entombment beneath the earth.

On the morn of the thirteenth day of darkness, a young traveller arrived at the pharaoh’s palace. He had a godly air about him, and walked to the pharaoh’s room, and asked “Brave pharaoh, where is the light?”

The Second Pharaoh, Hor-Aha, had no answer, but “the light has left us.”

The traveller introduced himself as Rauna-Sif, and gathered the pharaoh, his daughter, and the people of the temple of Ra.

“Pharaoh, if I were to try bringing back the sunlight, would I be allowed the attempt?”

In his desperation to avoid deferring or apologising to blessed Ra, the Second Pharaoh responded thus: “If you can bring back the sunlight, I would grant you my kingdom and my daughter. It is a hopeless task, however.”

Rauna-Sif received Ra’s Toga, and at once, he began to wield the power within. Fire burst from the seams and streaked across the sky, and the light danced above the world that had been dark moments earlier.

The people rejoiced, as they could see each other and their beautiful world once again. They looked with thanks to the palace of the pharaoh, but within, they could see a strange turn of events.

Rauna-Sif watched as the Second Pharaoh, Hor-Aha, bowed before him in gratitude, and chose this moment then to reveal his true form: that of blessed Ra, lord of the skies and sunlight.

“Look upon me, Hor-Aha.” Ra said. “You have given your kingdom and your daughter to me, and relinquished the power you thought you had. You are king of all you see, but it is I and my sunlight that allow you sight. Remember who casts a shadow over your land.”

The sorrowful Hor-Aha lay at Ra’s feet, understanding his mistake. He begged Ra to return him to his power.

“I am afraid I cannot.” commanded Ra. “Sweet daughter, Bithiah, you shall take this country. Lead it with care, and remember always that my sunlight looks upon you for your faithful prayers.”

 

The Demon of Mystic Bay

This is a famous myth from Japan which concerns the Scale Warrior Garb, believed to be clothing worn by the legendary warriors of the past. The Garb itself resides in a museum in Kyoto, though it has not been tested for legendary properties out of respect and reverence. Over a tea ceremony with museum curator Mekio Akira, she told me the original tale of the Scale Warrior Garb and it’s first wearer, Daitan Arakan.

 

The village by Mystic Bay was quiet. They lived a meagre existence, and prayed to the water spirit Hyōsube, and in return their fishing was plentiful and the water pure and clean. There was great happiness amongst all the people. One of the village’s maidens, Kona, was so beautiful, that every man wished to take her hand, and this attracted the attention of Hyōsube, who desired to take her for himself.

Late at night, Hyōsube arrived at the shores of the village disguised as a human, and spotted Kona walking along the beach as she often would. He sang her an ancient song, and every night for a week, he would walk with her and sing her songs. Eventually, the two married and had a son, who they named Daitan Arakan.

Daitan had an affinity with the water. On the day of his birth, the tide rolled in and refused to ebb until twenty-four hours had passed, and the fishing that day was particularly plentiful. For the next sixteen years, Hyōsube and Kona raised their son and became respected and appreciated members of the village community.

However, Hyōsube had not returned to the water in sixteen years, and thus had abandoned his position as the water spirit of Mystic Bay. In the meantime, a demon, Cagnazzo, had taken up the position and began to poison the waters with his noxious influence. The fish were sickly and few, and fishers were soon too afraid to sail beyond Mystic Bay for fear of the dark influence below.

Daitan, as half-water spirit, had felt the influence of the water himself and had also felt the power of Cagnazzo tainting the bay. He told his father, and learned why Hyōsube had not returned to the water: Cagnazzo’s shell was too tough to penetrate with any kind of Battle Clothing or weapon. Daitan was a strong-willed fighter, however, and still wished to fight the demon.

Kona and Hyōsube, worried for their son, decided to combine their talents. Hyōsube created a piece of armour from his scales, strong enough to shake off any demonic power. Kona wove the armour together and applied an Augment Patch to it, transforming it into the Scale Warrior Garb. With this armour on, Daitan descended into the Mystic Bay, to where Cagnazzo lurked below.

The crab demon was ready for Daitan. With his snipping claws, he lunged at the boy, but Daitan’s armour reflected the strikes. As the Scale Warrior Garb granted him the swiftness of a fish, Daitan was able to slink through Cagnazzo’s defences until he reached the demon, and with a simple knife, he struck the shell. The Garb empowered his blow and shattered the shell of Cagnazzo, and with a second strike, he slew the demon.

Daitan found the water to be calmed once Cagnazzo had gone, and fully assumed the title of water spirit, becoming the next guardian of Mystic Bay. His armour, however, he allowed to float back up to the surface, as a sign of his successful quest. The Scale Warrior Garb has remained in the hands of Hyōsube and Kona ever since, ready whenever a warrior might need a legendary piece of Battle Clothing to smite evil.

 

King of Naught

A famous tale that was originally told by an associate of Chaucer, this is one of the more famous folktales from Britain. It concerns the deposition of the fictional king Adomas IV, but it is quite evident that the moral of the story concerned a very real king at the time. It is said that the unknown figure who wrote this tale was hanged for treason shortly after.

 

In all the realms of all the world, there had never been a king quite so avaricious and paranoid as Adomas IV. Succeeding the throne at a young age, just seventeen, he became obsessed with power and wealth as a symbol of his kingship. However, his people suffered, even his lords and those who were supposed to rule his lands in his stead.

Eventually, a rebellion was instigated by the people, and they rose up. First they rose in the north-west, and slowly made their way down the country. By the time they reached the gates of London, they were not just a throng of disenfranchised commoners, but an army with several lords amongst them, including Richard Lord Scales, Arthur Lord Huxley, Viscount Hereford and Count DeMarco.

It was a short battle. Adomas IV was wealthy and powerful, but by no means was he a capable military commander. In utter defeat, the people went to hang him, and he begged them for another chance, terrified of death. Richard Lord Scales gave him an ultimatum: to return to London in just one week wearing the king’s garb, and the throne would be restored to him. With that, Adomas IV was deposed from the throne and barred from London.

Adomas IV wandered his countryside, lamenting his poor fortune and wondering how he was to find the king’s garb, if it was not what he was already wearing. Along his way, he met a poor farmer, and asked him where he might find the king’s garb. The farmer responded that a king must be powerful, and would be wearing armour that would attract anyone’s eye. Adomas was unimpressed, as he did not like combat, and walked away.

Continuing on, Adomas encountered a knight errant, and asked him where he might find the king’s garb. The knight responded that a king would wear clothing suitable to his rank, and yet showed his humility. Adomas was unimpressed, as he hated the idea of humility, and walked away.

Eventually, Adomas stopped by a river to slake his thirst, and a river woman asked him who he was. He laughed, thinking she was playing a trick, and told her that he was the king. She asked him why he was not wearing the clothes of a king, and he showed her what he was wearing: the finest robes in all the land.

The woman told him that the robes were fine, but he was not wearing them. He merely had them on. Adomas asked her where he would find the king’s garb, and it was the woman’s turn to laugh. She told him that the king could wear whatever he liked, so long as he wore it like a king.

With all of this advice in mind, Adomas IV returned to London after a week had passed, wearing nothing but a Threadbare Jumper. The obvious wear and tear of the jumper was enough to attract the eyes of all the people that saw him as he walked up to the palace.

It also showed his humility, as he was wearing the clothes of his people. And finally, he walked with the confidence of a king, and even the lords at the palace could see that the Adomas IV who had returned was one who had understood what it meant to be king. As such, they gave up their rebellion, and returned to their ways, but they noticed changes.

The king was not as wealthy as he had once been – his money was now returning to the people, and taxes were dropping. A standing army was built, and the king was applying himself to the teachings of his military commanders. The country of England had never been more unified and strong, and Adomas IV became one of the most loved kings the country had ever known.

 

The Hollow Child

As the place where Battle Clothing originated, many myths regarding Patches and Battle Clothing originate from Egypt. This particular tale is one of the most famous of the Egyptian myths, told to me in a book on Egyptian history. It explains the powers of one of the three Gods’ Regalia of Egypt, Anubis’ Mantle, but is evidently a cautionary tale.

 

Abraxas was one of Egypt’s finest administrators, a man well loved by all. On the day when he and his wife finally had a child, Masika, during the fierce rainfall, the people celebrated and blessed the child. She was a beautiful creature, and enamoured all that she encountered with her plaintive cries and youthful giggles.

For four years, this was her life; that of a happy baby. However, as a great sickness came upon the people, Masika became ill with sickness and shortly after, died. Abraxas, heartbroken, begged the world to return unto him his daughter, and soon, Anubis heard his cry.

“Pray, mortal, what is it that you desire?”

“You have taken my dear Masika into your underworld, but I do not wish to let her go.” Abraxas cried. Anubis took pity on the kindly man, but he could not give Abraxas what he wished for.

“Do you not wear Anubis’ Mantle, the regalia that can bring someone back from the dead?”

“I do,” Anubis said. “But one thousand years must pass with every use of its power. I used it nine-and-twenty hundred years prior, and so fourscore years must yet pass before its power is restored.”

“Please,” begged Abraxas. “There must be a way to return my daughter unto me.”

Anubis told the man that he could attempt to use Anubis’ Mantle before the power was fully restored, though he could not be certain of what kind of life he would bring back. Once eighty years had been reclaimed, he would finish the rite, fully restoring dear Masika to life.

Abraxas agreed to this, and so, without his clothing at full strength, Anubis allowed the power of life to flow through him, and the tiny eyes of Masika fluttered open once more, the sickness gone from her body.

The overjoyed father and daughter continued to live together and serve their country. Masika grew as any girl should, and yet she often seemed to be friendless and quiet. Her eyes were a stark gray, and she would often whisper in an unknown tongue; her skin was cold and clammy to the touch. Whenever Abraxas mentioned this, Masika would refuse to respond, claiming that she was entirely healthy. Abraxas remained quiet, knowing that one day she would be fully returned to life, and he could have his daughter back properly.

One year after Masika was returned to life, Abraxas fell ill, and soon became close to death. The heartbroken Masika begged for him to be saved, and Anubis returned.

“I cannot, child.”

“Why won’t you save him?” asked she.

Anubis pointed to the girl. “You have been living half a life. I promised Abraxas I would save your life when you died as a child; unfortunately, my clothing had not retained full power. I had to take eighty years from somewhere to restore your life, and so I was forced to take them from your father. That is why you must wait one thousand years for the power of the Mantle to be restored – otherwise there are unintended consequences.”

And so Abraxas died, leaving his daughter Masika restored fully to life, but at too great a cost. The girl was once more alive, though her heart died that day.

 

The Last Patchworker

Originating from Ireland, this folktale is told in pubs and bars across the country, though the version I heard was told by Dr. Calhoun Stottlemeyer, who specialises in Irish myths and tales, and has several books on the subject himself. I highly recommend you read his work. This particular tale focuses on the story of Beckett, the oft-known “Last Patchworker”.

 

Patchworking has been a common practise for decades, though those who know the skill are fiercely protective of the details, and those who wish to learn must be sworn to secrecy beforehand. The power that Battle Clothing brings is far too strong for such ordinary mortals to wield without a detailed knowledge of the consequences.

One such Patchworker, Beckett, was a highly skilled creator. He took the three main patches and decided to try creating new ones that had new effects. Unfortunately, as the Egyptians had discovered centuries prior, there were no other patterns that actually worked with the clothes – however, help was at hand.

The mischievous fay of the forest had taught Beckett a new kind of patch, which he named the Elven Patch. This changed clothing in mysterious ways, making Battle Clothing that did not just have power, but commanded magic and nature itself. Beckett became a well-known Patchworker and his Elven Patches were highly popular.

However, the fay, as stated, were mischievous. They knew that the Elven Patches’ power was intoxicating to a normal human who had never been able to access magic itself. Soon, death and destruction were rampant across the land as people began to fight for these highly prized pieces of Battle Clothing.

As Beckett saw the destruction that his creations were causing, far beyond that of normal Battle Clothing, he felt sickened and wanted to destroy all of his creations. To do this, he turned to the power of Silhouette Clothing, feeling like he deserved to lose himself after what he had done. His last punishment would be to create a piece of Silhouette Clothing made from Original Cloth: the Anticloth.

It was a truly oppressive piece of Silhouette Clothing. With unparalleled strength and power, it could not be defeated, and it had the power to immediately destroy any piece of Battle Clothing it touched, Marking the wearer for good. However, when worn, there was no escape; it would eventually consume Beckett’s mind unless he gave himself up to it.

The Anticloth did as he wished, destroying every last Elven Patch and Marking everyone who had ever worn or abused a piece of Battle Clothing made with an Elven Patch. Once it was over, Beckett realised his error. He had created a piece of clothing worse than everything he had ever made beforehand, and the Anticloth was now free to destroy. With his mind in tatters, his last act was to seal himself away in Baldongan Castle, there to lay forever.

However, it has been said since that the Anticloth has yet arisen several more times over the centuries, taking more victims each time someone new puts it on. Where there are men who have become greedy with the power of Battle Clothing, there is the Anticloth, waiting to Mark them for their crimes.

 

A Dress Fit For Marriage

This story originates from the Middle East, and was told to me by Aran, who will remain without a surname as per his wishes. This story is a popular children’s fairytale which features heavily in most children’s storybooks. The details change depending on those who tell it, but Aran claims the version he tells, told to him by his mother, is the most accurate.

 

There was once a small kingdom where a young princess had just come of age. Her father, the King, had told her that now was the time to get married. The princess, Saleera, was an intelligent girl, and she had a public announcement: every potential suitor was to present to her a piece of Battle Clothing with the perfect patch.

There were four brothers who heard of this news, and each one wanted to try and win the princess’ heart. The first brother was Cain, and he wished to have the kingdom for himself so he could take his rightful position as a ruler. The second brother was Arlem, who wished to be a strong husband for the princess that he viewed as weak. The third brother was Haram, who wished to claim the throne and remake the kingdom into a democracy.

The fourth brother was Reiv. He did not speak about why he wanted to marry the princess, and his brothers would tease him; he was young, and seen as too immature to win the heart of the princess. Nevertheless, as droves of suitors arrived at the castle, they found that most of their clothing was being immediately refused.

The four brothers were confident, and entered the castle to try and woo the heart of the princess. Waiting in the anteroom, each brother went into the throne room one by one to offer up their Battle Clothing.

Cain was the first to enter. He held aloft a dress, and a patch in his hands.

“This is the most beautiful dress money can buy.” claimed he. “And this is the Power Patch, which shall transform the dress into the Garrote Garter.”

“And do you believe the Power Patch is the perfect patch?” asked Saleera.

“Indeed, for power is the reason of your position. And if I offer power, it stands to reason that power in return should be offered to me.”

The princess turned him away.

Next entered Arlem. He, too, had a dress and a patch in his hands.

“This is a famous dress from a wondrous designer.” claimed he. “And this is the Support Patch, which shall transform the dress into the Mirage Frock.”

“And do you believe the Support Patch is the perfect patch?” asked Saleera.

“Indeed, for you need a husband who can support you. My gift of support will prevent you from being weak after your strong father gives to you the throne.”

The princess turned him away.

Haram then entered. He presented his dress, and the patch in his hands.

“This is a dress commonly worn by those to be married.” claimed he. “And this is the Augment Patch, which shall transform the dress into the Wear With Confidence.”

“And do you believe the Augment Patch is the perfect patch?” asked Saleera.

“Indeed, for augmenting and recreating that which you see is how this kingdom shall prosper. I will give to you a land, no longer tethered by kingship and rules.”

The princess turned him away.

The fourth brother, Reiv, decided to enter. He had a dress and a patch, and he walked across the throne room and placed them before the throne the princess sat in.

“This was my late mother’s dress, worn when she was married to my father.” said he. “And this is a patch I sewed myself, which can be placed on the dress.”

“And what, pray, does your patch do?” asked Saleera.

“It does nothing, my lady.” Reiv said. “It is a patch with no power, that simply represents my love for you. I hope you wear it, not to transform your dress into Battle Clothing serviceable for any need, but to show the world how I feel about you.”

At last, the princess had found her rightful love. Within the week, Reiv and Saleera were married, and Reiv became the Prince of the country. The three brothers had been foiled, and the King had found his true successor.

Sunderland College [2.6 - Demands From Aranea]
Sunderland College [2.X - Race of Secrets]

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